Getting a Legitimate Lender and Getting Pre-Approved

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It used to be that buyers could go house shopping and when they have found their dream home, then they go to get pre-approved. However, in today’s market, that has proven to be one of the least effective methods in landing a dream home.

Most lenders can pre-qualify you for a mortgage over the phone. Based on general questions about your income, debt, assets, and credit history, lenders can estimate how much mortgage you qualify for. However, being pre-qualified and pre-approved are different things. Pre-approval means that you have applied for a mortgage; you have filled out the mortgage application, received your credit report, and verified your employment, assets, etc. When you are pre-approved, you know exactly what the maximum loan amount will be.

A pre-qualified letter is not verified and in essence, does not count for much if you are competing with other buyers who are pre-approved. When you are pre-approved, you and the seller know exactly how much house you can afford. It gives you credibility as an interested buyer and lets the seller know immediately that you will qualify for a loan to buy their property. Image result for pre approved

In addition to being pre-approved, it’s important to be pre-approved with a legitimate lender. Legitimate lenders include: banks, mortgage bankers, credit unions, savings and loan associations, mortgage brokers, and online lenders.

Some lenders to avoid: those who lose a form or misplace a file, those who gather information from you in an unorganized manner, those who are not informed about interest rates, points or costs, and those who cannot provide you with the right information.

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The Biweekly Mortgage – Who Needs It?

Have you received an advertisement offering to save you thousands of dollars on your thirty-year mortgage and cut years off your payments? With email spam becoming more pervasive as everyone tries to get rich quick on the Internet, these ads are popping up with troublesome regularity.

The ads promote a Biweekly Mortgage and for the most part, do not come from a mortgage lender. Exclamation points punctuate practically every claim:

  • No closing costs!
  • No refinancing!
  • No points!
  • No credit check!
  • No appraisal!
  • Save thousands!
  • Cut years off your mortgage!

To achieve these wonderful savings all you have to do is allow half of your mortgage payment to be deducted from your checking account every two weeks. It’s easy. Of course, there is a small set-up fee and usually a transaction fee with every automatic deduction.

Essentially, the ads are truthful in almost every respect.

They just want to charge you money for something you can do on your own for free.

The Basics:

Normally, you make twelve mortgage payments a year. Since there are fifty-two weeks in a year, a biweekly mortgage equals 26 half-payments a year. The equivalent would be making thirteen mortgage payments a year instead of twelve. By applying that extra payment directly to the loan balance as a principal reduction, your loan amortizes more quickly, requiring fewer payments.

You save money. The ads are true.

How it Actually Works:

You cannot simply mail in half a payment every two weeks to your mortgage lender. Since they do not accept partial payments for legal and accounting reasons, the mortgage company would just mail your half-payment back to you.

Instead, the biweekly mortgage company is an intermediary between you and your mortgage lender. They automatically debit your checking account every two weeks for half of your mortgage payment then place your funds into a trust account. Basically, this is just a holding account for your money. In another two weeks, there is another automatic deduction from your checking account, and so on. When your mortgage payment is due, your funds are withdrawn from the trust account and forwarded to your mortgage lender.

Since you are placing funds into the trust account faster than your mortgage payments are due, you eventually accumulate enough money to make an extra payment. The way the cycle works, this occurs once a year. he extra payment is applied directly to your principal balance, which causes your loan to amortize faster, pay off more quickly and save you thousands of dollars.

Potential Problems with the Trust Account

Because your funds are held in the trust account until your mortgage payment is due, there are potential dangers. Not only are your funds held in this account, but so are the funds of everyone else enrolled in the biweekly program. That is a lot of money.

Most likely, there will be no problems.

However, if there are accounting errors, mismanagement, or even fraud, your mortgage payment might not get made. The first hint of a problem will probably be a phone call or letter from your mortgage lender, but not until after your payment is already late. Since responsibility for making the payment rests with you and not the biweekly payment company, you may find yourself digging into your personal savings to make the payment directly — even though the biweekly payment company has already collected your funds.

Later you can work out the trust account problem with your biweekly payment company.

The Cost of the Biweekly Mortgage

There is usually a set-up fee that runs between $195 and $350, depending on how much sales commission is paid to the individual or company setting up the account for you. You also pay a transaction fee each time there is an automatic deduction from your checking account and sometimes also when the payment is made to your mortgage lender. There may also be a periodic maintenance fee.

Meanwhile, whoever controls the trust account is earning interest on your money.

Savings of the Biweekly Mortgage

By making principal reductions using the biweekly mortgage program, your mortgage will amortize more quickly, saving you money. How quickly your loan pays off depends on your interest rate and when you begin making the biweekly payments.

On a $100,000 loan at an interest rate of eight percent, your first principal reduction would probably be a year from now. Assuming the principal reduction is equal to one monthly payment ($733.76), you would save $43,852 over the life of the loan and pay it off almost seven years early.

However, you have to deduct from those savings any amounts you paid in set-up, transaction, and maintenance fees.

No-Cost Alternatives to the Biweekly Mortgage

Instead of hiring a company to manage your biweekly payment, you could accomplish essentially the same thing on your own for free. Just take your monthly payment, divide it by twelve, and add that amount to your monthly mortgage payment. Be sure to earmark it as a principal reduction.

The first way you save is that you do not have to pay any fees to anyone. It’s free.

In addition to not paying fees — using the same example as above — your total savings on the mortgage would be $45,904. Plus the loan would be paid off three months quicker than with the biweekly mortgage. The reason you save more is because you are making a principal reduction each month, instead of waiting for funds to accumulate so that you can make one principal reduction a year.

Self-Discipline?

The biweekly mortgage companies claim that homeowners are not disciplined enough to follow through with principal reduction plans on their own. They suggest the reason for setting up the biweekly mortgage enforces discipline upon you, and by doing so, they save you money.

However, in this technologically advanced age, banking online and automatic deductions are readily available. You can set up your own automatic deductions including the additional principal reduction and have it go directly to your mortgage lender. Since the deduction occurs automatically, just like with the biweekly mortgages, self-discipline is not a problem. Once again, you don’t have to pay anyone to do it for you and you save even more money.

Conclusion

The biweekly mortgage plans do not really do anything except move your money around and charge you for it. Plus, even though the danger is negligible, you must trust someone else to hold your money for you. If you can do the very same thing for free, plus save yourself even more money by doing it on your own, why pay someone else?

The biweekly mortgage plan – who needs it?

If your goal is principal reduction and saving money, then it is a good plan. If you do it on your own instead of paying someone else to do it for you, then it is a great plan.

Common Ways of Holding Title

How Should I Take Ownership of the Property I am Buying?

Real property can be incredibly valuable and the question of how parties can take ownership of their property is important. The form of ownership taken — the vesting of title — will determine who may sign various documents involving the property and future rights of the parties to the transaction. These rights involve such matters as: real property taxes, income taxes, inheritance and gift taxes, transferability of title and exposure to creditor’s claims. Also, how title is vested can have significant probate implications in the event of death.

The Land Title Association (LTA) advises those purchasing real property to give careful consideration to the manner in which title will be held. Buyers may wish to consult legal counsel to determine the most advantageous form of ownership for their particular situation, especially in cases of multiple owners of a single property.

The LTA has provided the following definitions of common vesting as an informational overview. Consumers should not rely on these as legal definitions. The Association urges real property purchasers to carefully consider their titling decision prior to closing, and to seek counsel should they be unfamiliar with the most suitable ownership choice for their particular situation.

Common Methods of Holding Title

SOLE OWNERSHIP

Sole ownership may be described as ownership by an individual or other entity capable of acquiring title. Examples of common vesting in cases of sole ownership are:

  1. A Single Man/Woman:A man or woman who has not been legally married. For example: Bruce Buyer, a single man.
  2. An Unmarried Man/Woman:A man or woman who was previously married and is now legally divorced. For example: Sally Seller, an unmarried woman.
  3. A Married Man/Woman as His/Her Sole and Separate Property:A married man or woman who wishes to acquire title in his or her name alone.The title company insuring title will require the spouse of the married man or woman acquiring title to specifically disclaim or relinquish his or her right, title and interest to the property. This establishes that it is the desire of both spouses that title to the property be granted to one spouse as that spouse’s sole and separate property. For example: Bruce Buyer, a married man, as his sole and separate property.

CO-OWNERSHIP

Title to property owned by two or more persons may be vested in the following forms:

  1. Community Property:A form of vesting title to property owned by husband and wife during their marriage, which they intend to own together. Community property is distinguished from separate property, which is property acquired before marriage, by separate gift or bequest, after legal separation, or which is agreed to be owned only by one spouse.Real property conveyed to a married man or woman is presumed to be community property, unless otherwise stated. Since all such property is owned equally, husband and wife must sign all agreements and documents of transfer. Under community property, either spouse has the right to dispose of one half of the community property, including transfers by will. For example: Bruce Buyer and Barbara Buyer, husband and wife as community property.
  2. Joint TenancyA form of vesting title to property owned by two or more persons, who may or may not be married, in equal interest, subject to the right of survivorship in the surviving joint tenant(s). Title must have been acquired at the same time, by the same conveyance, and the document must expressly declare the intention to create a joint tenancy estate. When a joint tenant dies, title to the property is automatically conveyed by operation of law to the surviving joint tenant(s). Therefore, joint tenancy property is not subject to disposition by will. For example: Bruce Buyer and Barbara Buyer, husband and wife as joint tenants.
  3. Tenancy in Common:A form of vesting title to property owned by any two or more individuals in undivided fractional interests. These fractional interests may be unequal in quantity or duration and may arise at different times. Each tenant in common owns a share of the property, is entitled to a comparable portion of the income from the property and must bear an equivalent share of expenses. Each co-tenant may sell, lease or will to his/her heir that share of the property belonging to him/her. For example: Bruce Buyer, a single man, as to an undivided 3/4 interest and Penny Purchaser, a single woman, as to an undivided 1/4 interest, as tenants in common.

Other ways of vesting title include:

  1. A Corporation*:A corporation is a legal entity, created under state law, consisting of one or more shareholders but regarded under law as having an existence and personality separate from such shareholders.
  2. A Partnership*:A partnership is an association of two or more persons who can carry on business for profit as co-owners, as governed by the Uniform Partnership Act. A partnership may hold title to real property in the name of the partnership.
  3. As Trustees of A Trust*:A trust is an arrangement whereby legal title to a property is transferred by the grantor to a person called a trustee, to be held and managed by that person for the benefit of the people specified in the trust agreement, called the beneficiaries.
  4. Limited Liability Companies (L.L.C.)This form of ownership is a legal entity and is similar to both the corporation and the partnership. The operating agreement will determine how the L.L.C. functions and is taxed. Like the corporation its existence is separate from its owners.

*In cases of corporate, partnership, L.L.C. or trust ownership – required documents may include corporate articles and bylaws, partnership agreements, L.L.C. operating agreement and trust agreements and/or certificates.

Remember:

How title is vested has important legal consequences. You may wish to consult an attorney to determine the most advantageous form of ownership for your particular situation.

Hot, Normal and Cold Markets

When most people decide to buy or sell a home, they don’t take into account what the market is doing and how it will affect your ability to buy/sell. Take a look at the following market temperatures to figure out when you should list your home or go hunting!

Hot Market

Image result for hot market This is an extremely competitive market and is advantageous to the seller. Sometimes, homes will sell as soon as they are listed or even before homes are listed. Typically, during a hot market, multiple offers will be made on each home and more often than not, homes will sell for more than the asking price. It is even more crucial to be prepared and to be ready as a buyer when the market is hot. It can be easy to get caught up in the bid for a home, but if you are prepared (pre-approved, solid in price range, realistic about your needs), it is easier to remain focused on your housing needs and price range.

Normal Market

Image result for normal market real estateIn a normal market, there is a fairly large number of homes available and an average number of buyers. This market does not necessarily favor the buyer or the seller. A seller may not have as many offers on their home, but he or she may not be desperate to sell either. Again, it is the buyer’s responsibility to be prepared. During a normal market, the chances to negotiate are higher than in a hot market. As a buyer, you can expect to make offers at lower than the asking price and negotiate a price at least somewhat less than what the sellers are asking.

Cold Market

Related imageIn a cold market, houses may be listed for more than a year and the prices of houses listed may drop considerably. This market is advantageous to the buyer. As a buyer, you have the time to make an offer that works to your best interest. It is not uncommon to low-ball and to find that sellers are accommodating to meet your needs. Keep in mind that even though this market is a great time for buyers, you do not want to lose your dream home by being unrealistic. Your goal is to get your dream home at the best possible price.

 

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3 Things Sellers will Love This Spring

For many home sellers, there’s no better time to list than the spring, and for good reason: This is peak home-buying season, folks! Buyers turn out in droves once warmer weather finally arrives, bringing people out of hibernation mode, and bidding wars abound as buyers look for ways to one-up their competition.

 

 

All the demand

While home sales decline in the winter (chalk it up to bad weather and holiday obligations), many home buyers blitz the housing market in spring, says Dossman. To meet that pent-up demand, many sellers list their homes at this time of year. It’s no surprise, then, that the lion’s share of real estate agents say March, April, and May are the best months to sell a home. With so many buyers competing for homes, sellers may be in a stronger position to spark bidding wars.

 

Selling in warmer weather

Open houses are often more successful during the spring than in the winter, says Dossman, since the nicer weather makes buyers more willing to emerge from the comfort of their homes to shop for houses. Another boon for home sellers: Daylight saving time gives buyers more time to look at houses, which means your property can potentially be seen by more people, says Dana Hill, vice president of Buyer’s Edge Realty in Bethesda, MD.

That said, “Sellers still need to do some prep work before holding an open house,” Dossman adds. To make sure your home is ready to be seen, do a thorough cleaning, remove such personal belongings as family photos and religious artwork, and trim your lawn for maximum curb appeal. Pro tip: Take a hike for a few hours during the open house. Buyers will feel more comfortable asking questions of your agent if you’re not hovering in the background.

 

The higher valuations

When your home’s value is assessed by a home buyer’s appraiser, the appraiser will look at data for comparable homes (or “comps”) that were recently sold in your neighborhood. The good news: With more homes selling in the on-season, the comparable data tend in your favor, Hill says. In other words, your house is more likely to pass the home appraisal, assuming that you’re selling it at around its fair market value.

 

 

5 Spring Home-Hunting Tips for Buyers

Spring is just around the corner and not only flowers are popping up everywhere, houses are also being prepared for the spring selling season.  Home owners typically sell during spring, and buyers are taking advantage of this huge opportunity to get the best home. There is competition among buyers who want to get the best pick.  In this adrenaline-driven situation, it pays to follow these 5 house hunting tips so you would will not be left behind.

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1. Canvass your dream house, the old-fashioned way. Close your laptop and go to open houses. Online listings are good sources of information, but nothing beats seeing the house with your own two eyes. It’s a great idea to go online, research the house you want and set up alerts so you know when a new house is being put in the market. However, if you really want to find your perfect house, you have to get up from your desk and get on your feet. The spring season means higher demands for houses, therefore buyers should always be in the position to decide quickly.

2. Research market trends. Housing trends are forever changing. What’s ok now might not be good tomorrow and what seems to worthless today could be worth a fortune in the coming years. As a buyer, you have to be informed of what’s happening in the current market as well as the past trends in the housing industry. This would give you a chance to compare and formulate marketing predictions that would help in your decision making. Take note that these trends have a huge impact on house prices so the more you know, the better chances for you to get a good price. Don’t forget to research both local and general markets.

3. Take advantage of low mortgage rates. Act now while mortgage rates are historically low. Having low interest rates allows you affordable payments for a long time. Mortgage rates are very unpredictable so you have to take action the minute it goes down.

4. Build your team. Everything is fast-paced today with the market on hype due to spring season. As a buyer, you have to make sure that everyone you are working with is ready to go so you’ll have a smooth and fast transaction. Your home buying team should include a knowledgeable real estate agent, lender, lawyer and inspector. To save time, make sure you get pre-approved first so you can quickly submit your bid once you find the right home.

5. Prepare deal-breakers. In a bidding war, you will come across other buyers who are also well prepared. In order to win, you have to sweeten your offer to entice the seller to choose you. How do you do that? You can offer a higher down payment or even forego some contingencies (consult with your team first).

However, the most important advice is BE PREPARED. When that perfect house or opportunity comes up, make sure that you are ready to grab it.

Why You Should Sell Your Home in 2019

Few people are predicting that 2019 will be a record-breaking year for home prices.

Relatively speaking, 2019 might seem to be the best time for you to put your house on the market especially if you’re on the fence about selling this year or next.

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Home price growth slowed in the second half of 2018, with fewer buyers entering the market, at least partially due to rising interest rates issued by the Federal Reserve. In 2019, consumers shouldn’t expect homebuyers to flood the market again and drive prices through the roof, but it’s also unlikely to be a crisis for home sellers.

If you’re weighing your options to sell, considering selling this year or maybe the year after, don’t play the waiting game.
Here are four reasons to sell your house in 2019:
  • New buyers are still entering the market.
  • Interest rates are still on the lower end.
  • You have high equity.
  • Selling now will be better than waiting till 2020.

New Buyers Are Still Entering the Market

With available housing inventory remaining low, even with rising interest rates, buyers who are ready to make a purchase will still shop for homes. The biggest wave of new homebuyers will be among millennials, who are mostly first-time buyers. According to Trulia, more than one-fifth of Americans between ages 18 and 34 said they plan to buy a home within the next 12 months. Already, millennials make up the largest share of homebuyers at 36 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors, which released the number in March 2018.The bottom line: While houses may sit on the market for a few more days on average compared with 2017 when the market was white-hot, buyers remain active and it’s still possible to profit from your home sale.

Interest Rates Are Still Low-ish

Mortgage interest rates have been on a bit of a bumpy road over the last few months. Interest rates for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage reached their highest level in over seven years in November 2018, when they hit 4.94 percent, according to Freddie Mac. As of the end of February 2019, however, interest rates are down slightly to 4.35 percent, which is much lower than the historic high of more than 18 percent in 1981.
It’s important to keep in mind that while mortgage rates tend to mirror the Fed’s interest rate activity, mortgage rates are based on the market in that moment, your financial status and the property you’re looking to purchase.
A sudden leap in mortgage interest rates is unlikely in 2019, though rates are predicted to continue to climb.
If you’re looking to get the lowest interest rate possible on your next house, try to make a deal sooner rather than later.

 

You Have High Equity

Homeowners who bought during the recession or shortly after benefited from historically low interest rates and, up until around 2015, lower home prices that were still in recovery mode. If you fall into that category, your home equity has risen with nearly every mortgage payment, each renovation you made to the house and all the other houses on the block that sold for a higher price.
The higher your equity in your home, the more you net from the sale, which can easily go toward the down payment on your next house. The larger your down payment, the better you look to lenders and the lower your interest rate will be, and the less likely you’ll need to increase monthly payments with private mortgage insurance.

Selling in 2019 vs. 2020

If not selling your home in 2019 means putting your house on the market in 2020, the sooner option is the best one. In a survey of 100 U.S. real estate experts and economists by real estate information company Zillow, released in May, almost half expect the next recession to occur in 2020. Another 14 percent believe the recession will hold out until 2021, while 24 percent of panelists expect the recession earlier – sometime in 2019.
Whether you believe the recession is imminent or a long way off, current real estate patterns indicate a sudden upswing in activity or prices is unlikely in the near future. Real estate markets tend to operate on a cycle of their own, the length of which varies by market but can be between 10 and 16 years total and flow from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market with a period of balance in between.