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What Can You Expect or The Cost of Waiting to Buy

The two most frequently quoted constants in life are death and taxes.  Two more things would-be homeowners can expect in the near future are increases in mortgage rates and housing prices.What can you Expect

Interest rates have been kept artificially low for several years by the Federal Reserve in an effort to strengthen the economy. Policy is shifting to allow them to seek their own natural level and that will surely result in higher mortgage rates.  Rates on 30 year fixed mortgages are up over 1% from January, 2013.

Foreclosure activity is down, new home starts are up and prices have been increasing in most markets for two years.  Most experts agree that the cost of housing is going up.

If the price were to go up by 2% and the mortgage rate by 1% while a buyer is “sitting on the fence” making a decision, the payment would go up by almost $175.00 each and every month for the term of the mortgage.  Even if a person can afford to make the higher payments, what could they have done with that extra $175.00 a month?  Buy furniture?  Car payment?  Principal reduction?  Retirement contribution?  Save for a rainy day?

Click here to determine what the cost of waiting to buy will be using your price home.

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By |February 17th, 2014|Categories: Borrowers|Tags: |0 Comments

Refinance to Remove a Person

Most people are familiar with the various reasons a homeowner refinances their home which generally result in two major benefits: saving interest and building equity.

There is however another reason to refinance which may not be as common which is tozaby11-18-13 remove a person from the loan. In the case of a divorce, when one party wants to keep the home and the other party wants their equity out of the home, it is possible for the remaining party to refinance the home. If the equity is sufficient to justify it and the remaining owner can qualify for the new loan, the refinance can provide the proceeds to buy out the other spouse.

Refinancing to remove a person from the loan could also involve a situation where two or more heirs jointly own a property and have differing opinions on when to sell. The same situation could apply to a rental property with multiple owners and the refinance would provide a way to buy out a partner.

Sometimes, it’s not about taking cash out of the home to buy out the other party. If a person’s name is on the mortgage, they’re responsible if it goes to default. One party may be willing to deed the home to the other party but it doesn’t necessarily relieve them of the liability of the mortgage they originated.

Many times, once a person has made their mind to move on, they’ll take the fastest and easiest way out. Removing a person from the deed or a mortgage is a reason to consider obtaining legal advice to protect your interests. Refinance Analysis calculator.

Reasons to Refinance

1. Lower the rate
2. Shorten the term
3. Take cash out of the equity
4. Combine loans
5. Remove a person from a loan

By |February 14th, 2014|Categories: Borrowers|Tags: , |1 Comment

The DON’T DO’s When Appling for A Home Loan Or Refinance

You’ve seen lists telling buyers what to do to find the right home but knowing what not to do can be just as important. Don'ts After finding the right home, negotiating a contract, making a loan application and inspections, buyers, understandably, start making plans to move and put their personal touches on the home.

In today’s tenuous lending environment, little things can derail the process which isn’t over until the papers are signed at settlement and funds distributed to the seller. Verifications are made by a lender at the beginning of the loan process to determine if the buyer qualifies for the mortgage. The verifications are usually done again just prior to the closing to determine if there have been any material changes to the borrower’s credit or income that might disqualify them.

Simply stated:

1. Don’t make any new major purchases that could affect your debt-to-income ratio
2. Don’t apply, co-sign or add any new credit
3. Don’t quit your job or change jobs
4. Don’t change banks
5. Don’t open new credit accounts
6. Don’t close or consolidate credit card accounts without advice from your lender
7. Don’t buy things for your new home until after you close
8. Don’t talk to the seller without your agent

Your real estate professional and lender are working together to get you into your new home. It’s understandable to be excited about one of the biggest decisions you’ll make and that you feel you need to be getting ready for the move.

Planning is smart but don’t do anything that would affect your credit or income while you’re waiting to sign the final papers at settlement.

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By |October 15th, 2013|Categories: Borrowers|0 Comments

Should a Buyer make Repairs on the Property they want to Buy Prior to Closing?

This topic  was discussed in a Quick Topic from Kate Brooke’s Legal Newsletter that is an excellent resource for the Greater Portland Metro Area. My answer is as was in the newsletter,  NEVER.

I am often asked this question by purchasers and it has nothing to do with a buyer’s level of sophistication either. I have seen it from all sides of the spectrum. Usually, it has to do with expedience.

It is easiest for me to explain why it is not a good idea by simple Risk Management which spills over not only to the Seller but to all parties including contractors and vendors.  When there is good risk management in a transaction, that lowers the risk for all parties and saves a lot of potential grief!

What would happen if there is an accident while the work is being done?  The seller’s insurance company gets a call…. Yikes, I don’t want to think about that one. Or, the buyer is suddenly unemployed and does not qualify for the loan. Now who is going to pay for the repairs?

The simple answer is  do a “Worst Case Scenario” and you will reach a good answer.

By |August 3rd, 2013|Categories: Borrowers, Buyers|Tags: , |0 Comments

“Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda”

We’ve probably all said or at least thought “if I knew then, what I know now, I would have done things differently.” We should have stayed in school longer. We should have listened to our parents. We should have bought Apple stock in 2002 for $8.50 that sells for $400 today. Or we could have bought gold in 2000 for under $300 for a four-fold profit today.

If.jpgYears from now, if we look back at 2012, we may say that it was the best buyer’s market ever. Even now, in 2013, it’s apparent that both housing and mortgage prices are going up and they may never return to the record low levels.  The Mt Hood Area still has inventory and the towns of Brightwood, Welches, Rhododendron and Government Camp are just experiencing stabilization in prices vrs. price increases in 2013.

The housing affordability index, which is considered to be good at 100, had increased to over 200 this past December, January and February. Shrinking inventories and rising prices in most markets have caused the index to fall to 172.7 for May 2013.

This market applies equally to acquiring a home to live in or a home to use as a rental. It is estimated that about 30% of the property purchased last year was done by investors. It is understandable because the positive cash flows far exceed most other investment alternatives. HAIndex.png

Homeowners moving up in a rising market may sell their home for more by waiting but it will also cost them more for a new house. Typically, a person buys a 50% larger home when they move up. If they wait for prices to go up 10% on the $150,000 home they’re selling, they’ll realize $15,000 more but will pay $22,500 more for the new home purchase. They’ll actually net $7,500 less by waiting for prices to go up and may have to pay a higher mortgage rate too.

The question homebuyers and investors alike are faced with today is whether they will be saying years from now that they seized or missed an opportunity of a lifetime.

By |July 22nd, 2013|Categories: Borrowers, Buyers|Tags: |0 Comments

Mortgage Relief Act: Due to Expire 12/31/2013

Many times a homeowner might feel relieved being out from under the obligation of a mortgage they can’t afford even though the property was lost due to foreclosure or short sale. If a lender cancels or forgives debt, a taxpayer must include the cancelled amount in their income for tax purposes depending on the circumstances. The tax significance could be serious. MortForAct

Congress enacted the Mortgage Relief Act specifically to help homeowners who might be affected in the housing crisis that started approximately in 2007. The Act expired on 12/31/12 but was temporarily extended by Congress until December 31, 2013.

This relief only applies to a taxpayers’ principal residence which does not include second homes and investment property. The maximum amount is limited to $2 million of mortgage debt forgiveness or $1 million if filing separately.

Another provision is that the debt relief is limited to acquisition indebtedness used to buy, build or improve the property. It excludes cash equity loans whether made separately or in a refinance of the original mortgage.

Due to the serious consequences involved in short sales and foreclosures, it is advised that homeowners faced with this possibility should seek expert advice from their legal and tax professionals.

By |July 7th, 2013|Categories: Borrowers|Tags: , |0 Comments

Investors: Keep an Eagle Eye Out for Loan Assumptions

Not many buyers have assumed a mortgage in the past 25 years. Most people think it was because FHA and VA in the late 80’s began to require that buyers qualify for the assumptions. Not having to qualify for a mortgage would certainly benefit certain buyers.

If a homeowner must qualify for an assumption like a new loan, they’ll generally choose the mortgage with the lower interest rate.  Over the past 25 years, rates have been trending down but it appears that rates have Assumptionsbottomed out and will gradually increase.   As they continue to rise, the lower rates on the FHA and VA loans created in the last few years will appeal to buyers even if they do have to qualify for the assumption.

There are significant advantages to assuming one of these government insured mortgages if the current interest rate on a new loan is higher:

1. Mortgage is further into amortization schedule
2. Lower interest rate loans amortize faster than higher interest rate loans
3. Lower closing costs than a new mortgage
4. Easier to qualify than on a new mortgage
5. No appraisal required

FHA assumptions are only allowed as owner-occupied residents. The borrower must meet current FHA guidelines for borrowers. The total debt ratio including house payment to be assumed cannot exceed 41% of MortgageInterestRateGraphborrowers’ monthly gross income.

VA loans are also assumable with buyer qualification. However, in order for the veteran Seller to have their eligibility reinstated, the buyer must also be a veteran with eligibility.

A 1% difference in the current rates and a lower assumable mortgage rate begins to make it very attractive to assume a mortgage. When the differential becomes even greater, assumptions will become more prevalent than they’ve been in over twenty years.

By |July 7th, 2013|Categories: Borrowers|Tags: |0 Comments

Shifting Debt to Tax Deductible

The Mortgage Interest Deduction is available to homeowners for up to $1,000,000 of acquisition debt on the combination of their first and second home.  They can also deduct interest on up to an additional $100,Shifting Debt to Tax Deductible000 of Home Equity debt.

While Acquisition Debt is used to buy, build or improve a principal residence, the Home Equity Debt can be used for any purpose.  It can be used for educational or medical expenses, to purchase a personal car or boat, consolidate debts or pay off credit cards.

A homeowner with $15,000 of credit card debt at 19% and sufficient equity in their home could replace it with a home equity loan at much lower interest rate. Not only would the interest rate on the home equity loan be about 1/3 of the rate paid on the credit card, it’s would now be tax deductible.

If the taxpayer was in the 28% bracket, the net interest on a 6.5% loan would be 4.68% after tax benefits are considered.
Shifting personal debt to Home Equity debt can result in an interest deduction and probably, a lower interest rate. For more information see IRS Publication 936 page 10 and consult your tax professional.

By |April 23rd, 2013|Categories: Borrowers|Tags: , |0 Comments

FHFA Extends HARP to 2015

To see the complete News Release go to www.fhfa.gov/webfiles/25112/HARPextensionPRFINAL41113.pdf

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to extend the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) by two years to December 31, 2015. The program was set to expire December 31, 2013.
“More than 2 million homeowners have refinanced through HARP, proving it a useful tool for reducing risk,” said FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco. “We are extending the program so more underwater borrowers can benefit from lower interest rates.”
In addition, FHFA will soon launch a nationwide campaign to inform homeowners about HARP. This campaign will educate consumers about HARP and its eligibility requirements and motivate them to explore their options and utilize HARP before the program ends. HARP is uniquely designed to allow borrowers who owe more than their home is worth the opportunity to refinance their mortgage. Extending the program will continue to provide borrowers opportunities to refinance, give clear guidance to lenders and reduce risk for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and taxpayers.
To be eligible for a HARP refinance homeowners must meet the following criteria:
 The loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
 The mortgage must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on or before
May 31, 2009.
 The mortgage cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously unless it is a Fannie Mae loan that was refinanced under HARP from March-May, 2009.
 The current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be greater than 80 percent.
 The borrower must be current on their mortgage payments with no late payments in the last six months and no more than one late payment in the last 12 months.
Borrowers should contact their existing lender or any other mortgage lender offering HARP refinances. Check here to see if your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have helped approximately 2.2 million borrowers refinance their homes since HARP was introduced by FHFA and the U.S. Department of the Treasury in April 2009.

From  the Official FHLA News Release. For the entire new release go to: www.fhfa.gov/webfiles/25112/HARPextensionPRFINAL41113.pdf

By |April 16th, 2013|Categories: Borrowers|0 Comments

Tax Consequences When Renting Out a Primary Residence

Some homeowners, who were not able to sell during the recession, chose to rent their homes instead.  In some cases, they didn’t need to sell their home at the depressed prices and opted to rent it until the market recovered.image

It’s a valid strategy but there are time restrictions that could have serious tax implications for some homeowners.

The section 121 exclusion for gain in a principal residence requires that the home is owned and used as a main home for at least two years during the five year period ending on the date of the sale.  This allows a homeowner to rent their home for up to three years and still have some part of the exclusion available.

The sale of a home with a $200,000 gain that qualifies as a principal residence would result in no tax being paid by the owner.  Comparably, a rental property with the same gain could have a $30,000 or higher tax liability depending on the length of ownership and tax brackets of the investor.

The housing market has dramatically improved in the last year.  If you have a gain in a home that has been your principal residence and it has been rented less than three years, you might want to consider selling it while you qualify for the exclusion.

If you are considering a sale on your principal residence that has been rented, consult with your tax professional for advice on your specific situation.  For additional information, see IRS Publication 523.