Nation’s Top Wholesale Mortgage Lender Launches New Line of Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

Posted on May 13th, 2021

Declaring that ARMs are back, United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) has just rolled out a new line of adjustable-rate mortgages for its mortgage broker partners.

The new offering from the nation’s largest wholesale mortgage lender includes a 5-, 7-, and 10-year ARM to flank the usual fixed-rate options, such as the very popular 30-year fixed and the shorter-term 15-year fixed.

What makes these loans interesting is the fact that they come with significantly better pricing than fixed-rate mortgages currently available with other lenders.

And that might be enough to change the ARM argument, which has been decidedly dour for years now thanks to record low fixed mortgage rates.

How Long Will You Actually Keep Your Home Loan?

  • Something like 90% of purchase mortgages are 30-year fixed loans
  • And roughly 80% of all mortgages including refinances are 30-year fixed loans
  • Yet less than 10% of borrowers actually keep their home loan for more than seven years
  • This means the bulk of homeowners with a mortgage are overpaying for the perceived safety of a fixed interest rate

UWM aptly points out that fewer than 10% of borrowers stay in the same mortgage for more than seven years, yet something like 80% of mortgagors hold 30-year fixed mortgages.

In other words, a large majority are paying too much for their home loan, yet never actually receiving the benefit of an interest rate that is fixed for the life of the loan.

And because many adjustable-rate mortgages come with a lengthy initial fixed-rate period, many of these homeowners could actually benefit from an ARM without ever worrying about a rate adjustment.

UWM notes that pricing on its 7-year ARM could be anywhere from 50 to 75 basis points (.50%-0.75%) better than a 30-year fixed loan.

For example, if a 30-year fixed is priced at 3%, it might be possible to get a 7-year ARM for 2.25%.

If we’re talking about a $350,000 loan amount, that’s a payment difference of about $140 per month and roughly $18,000 in interest saved over 84 months.

That’s the draw of an ARM – to save you money while also providing a lower monthly payment while you hold the thing.

And if you get rid of it during the fixed-rate period, which in the case of these loans is 5, 7, or 10 years, you essentially win.

Are ARMs Set to Get Popular Again?

  • Adjustable-rate mortgages have mostly been a home loan choice for the very rich lately
  • The ARM share was just 3.8% of total mortgage applications last week per the MBA
  • That may begin to change as mortgage rates rise and lenders embrace ARMs again
  • UWM has been a leader in mortgage innovation so this could be a sign of things to come in the industry

Chances are ARMs will gain in popularity as fixed rates begin to rise, assuming that happens over the next few years.

They may appeal to both new home buyers who want a lower interest rate, and existing homeowners who want to tap equity via a cash out refinance.

The adjustable-rate mortgage was super popular during the housing boom in the early 2000s, though they often featured extra-risky options like interest-only payments and negative amortization.

While an ARM is still a risk to some degree, given you don’t really know where interest rates will be at first adjustment, those who do have a clear vision can benefit, as illustrated above.

UWM’s suite of ARMs are all tied to the newly-launched Secured Overnight Financing Rate, otherwise known as SOFR, the LIBOR’s replacement.

Additionally, they all adjust every six months once they become adjustable, meaning they are 5/6, 7/6, and 10/6 ARMs.

This can be slightly more stressful than an annually adjusting ARM, such as the popular 5/1 ARM or 7/1 ARM.

The good news is the cap at each adjustment is just 1%, meaning the interest rate can’t increase by any more than one percent every six months.

And remember, the first adjustments don’t start for 60, 84, or 120 months, respectively, which as UWM noted, shouldn’t affect many homeowners who either sell their homes or refinance before that time.

The new ARMs are available on primary, second, and investment properties, for purchases, rate and term refinances, and cash out refis.

They are conventional loans (backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac) and a minimum FICO score of 640 is required, with a maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 95% is permitted.

UWM has been a bit of a vanguard in the mortgage space, so there’s a good chance other mortgage lenders will soon follow suit and begin offering ARMs at a discount to their fixed-rate counterparts.

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Do Mortgage Payments Increase?

Mortgage Q&A: “Do mortgage payments increase?”

While this sounds like a no-brainer question, it’s actually a little more complicated than it appears.

You see, there a number of different reasons why a mortgage payment can increase, aside from the obvious interest rate change. But let’s start with the obvious and go from there.

And yes, even if you have a fixed-rate mortgage your monthly payment can increase.

While that might sound like bad news, it’s good to know what’s coming so you can prepare accordingly.

Mortgage Payments Can Increase with Interest Rate Adjustments

  • If you have an ARM your monthly payment can go up or down
  • This is possible each time it adjusts, whether every six months or annually
  • To avoid this payment surprise, simply choose a fixed-rate mortgage instead
  • FRMs are actually pricing very close to ARMs anyway so it could be in your best interest just to stick with a 15- or 30-year fixed

Here’s the easy one. If you happen to have an adjustable-rate mortgage, your mortgage rate has the ability to adjust both up or down, as determined by the interest rate caps.

It can move up or down once it initially becomes adjustable (after the initial teaser rate period ends), periodically (every year or two times a year) and throughout the life of the loan (by a certain maximum number, such as 5% up or down).

For example, if you take out a 5/1 ARM, it’s first adjustment will take place after 60 months.

At this time, it could rise fairly significantly depending on the caps in place, which might be 1-2% higher than the start rate.

So if your ARM started at 3%, it might jump to 5% at its first adjustment.

On a $300,000 loan amount, we’re talking about a monthly payment increase of nearly $350. Ouch!

Simply put, when the interest rate on your mortgage goes up, your monthly mortgage payments increase. Pretty standard stuff here.

To avoid this potential pitfall, simply go with a fixed-rate mortgage instead of an ARM and you won’t ever have to worry about it.

Or you can refinance your home loan before your first interest rate adjustment to another ARM. Or go with a fixed-rate mortgage instead.

Or simply sell your home before the adjustable period begins. Plenty of options really.

Mortgage Payments Increase When the Interest-Only Period Ends

  • Your payment can also surge higher if you have an interest-only loan
  • At that time it becomes fully-amortizing, meaning both principal and interest payments must be made
  • It’s doubly expensive because you’ve been deferring interest for years prior to that
  • This explains why these loans are a lot less popular today and considered non-QM loans

Another common reason for mortgage payments increasing is when the interest-only period ends, an issue that was common prior to the last housing crisis.

Typically, an interest-only home loan becomes fully amortized after 10 years.

In other words, after a decade you won’t be able to make just the interest-only payment.

You will have to make principal and interest payments to ensure the loan balance is actually paid down.

And guess what – the fully amortized payment will be significantly higher than the interest-only payment, especially if you deferred principal payments for a full 10 years.

Simply put, you’ll be paying the entire beginning loan balance in 20 years instead of 30, assuming the loan term was for 30 years, because interest-only payments mean the original loan amount remains untouched.

This can result in a big monthly payment increase, forcing many borrowers to refinance their mortgages.

Just hope interest rates are favorable when this time comes or you could be in for a rude awakening.

Mortgage Payments Increase When Taxes or Insurance Go Up

  • If your mortgage has an impound account your total housing payment could go up
  • An impound account results in homeowners insurance and property taxes being paid monthly
  • If those costs rise from year to year your total payment due could also increase
  • You’ll receive an escrow analysis annually letting you know if/when this may happen

Then there’s the issue of property taxes and homeowners insurance, assuming you have an impound account.

Even if you’ve got a fixed-rate mortgage, your mortgage payment can increase if the cost of property taxes and insurance rise, and they’re included in your monthly housing payment.

And guess what, these costs do tend to go up year after year, just like everything else.

A mortgage payment is often expressed using the acronym PITI, which stands for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.

With a fixed-rate mortgage, the principal and interest amounts won’t change throughout the life of the loan. That’s the good news.

However, there are cases when both the homeowners insurance and property taxes can increase, though this only affects your mortgage payments if they are escrowed.

Keep an eye out for an annual escrow analysis which breaks down how much money you’ve got in your account, along with the projected cost of your taxes and insurance.

It may say something like “escrow account has a shortage,” and as such, your new payment will be X to cover that deficit.

You can typically elect to begin making the higher mortgage payment to cover the shortfall, or pay a lump sum to boost your escrow account reserves so your monthly payment won’t change.

Fortunately these annual payment fluctuations will probably be minor relative to an ARM’s interest rate resetting or an interest-only period ending.

Ultimately, it’s usually quite nominal because the difference is spread out over 12 months and typically not all that large to begin with.

But it’s still good to be prepared and budget accordingly as your housing payments will likely rise over time.

The takeaway here is to consider all housing costs before determining if you should buy a home, and make sure you know how much you can afford well before beginning your property search.

You’d be surprised at how the costs can pile up once you factor in the insurance, taxes, and everyday maintenance, along with the unexpected.

At the same time, mortgage payments have the ability to go down for a number of reasons as well, so it’s not all bad news.

And remember, thanks to our friend inflation, your monthly mortgage payment might seem like a drop in the bucket a decade from now, while renters may not see such relief.

Read more: When do mortgage payments start?

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

How to Negotiate Lower Rent With a Potential Landlord

It starts with determining your leverage.

By Alex Starace for MyFirstApartment.com

When you’re looking for an apartment, you might be under the impression that the list price is the only price. In some cases, that’s true. But if you’re a bit savvier, you could end up negotiating your way into a great deal. Before you approach the landlord, however, make sure you’ve done your homework.

Determine your leverage     

Are you in a tight or loose rental market? In tight markets — where there are more renters than available apartments — it’s unlikely a potential landlord will negotiate. Why? If three or four other people are willing to pay list price for the apartment, a landlord has little motivation to lower the price for you.

A good way to determine whether you’re in a tight rental market is to browse apartment listings for a few days. How many open units are in each building? How quickly do listings disappear? The longer the listings are on the market and the more listings per building, the looser the market. Another way to tell: Have you had any apartment showings canceled because the place was suddenly rented? If not, this again points to a looser market.

In loose markets, landlords will be anxious to rent their place, even at a rate lower than list price. After all, an empty unit is a money-sink for landlords. If you’re offering to fill the vacancy, the landlord might be happy to lower the price, especially if the choice is between renting to you or letting the apartment sit on the market a month longer.

Can you demonstrate that you are a responsible person? Even in a tight market you can have personal leverage. Landlords want security and predictability. In the long run, these things save a landlord a lot of money. If you can demonstrate that you have these qualities — the primary attributes landlords look for are a steady job and good credit — you may get a landlord to knock a bit off your rent or to make other concessions.

Can you show commitment to staying? If you’re planning on staying in the apartment for two or three years or longer, that’s a big benefit in a landlord’s eyes. When a landlord has to rent an apartment to a new tenant every year, he or she loses a lot in transaction costs (repainting, brokers fees, professional cleaning fees), as well as in the simple effort of finding a new tenant. So if you’re planning on staying a while, highlight this when discussing what makes you a great potential renter.

Negotiate from strength

After you have determined where your points of leverage are, it’s time to make your move. When approaching the landlord, the key is to be confident and calm. Avoid hyper-aggressiveness or a mouse-like timidity. A good way to strike the right balance and show confidence is to know your stuff. Know what an average apartment rents for in the neighborhood. Compare the amenities in the apartment to those available in nearby complexes. Have in mind a price you think is fair for your potential place, and have reasons why — whether it’s because the kitchen is too small, or it doesn’t provide parking, or it’s simply too expense relative to comparable places in the neighborhood. And emphasize your points of leverage — that you’ll be a responsible, long-term tenant.

When negotiating, ask for an even lower price than you’re hoping to pay. Do this for two reasons: First, you might end up getting it. Second, if the landlord is at all interested in bargaining, you’ll likely need to meet halfway between your initial offer and the list price. If you give a low (but not unreasonable) initial offer, meeting somewhere in the middle will be a win for you, and both you and the landlord will feel like you’ve made a good deal.

In the end, successful negotiating is all about knowing the market, doing research about the specific apartment in your sights and negotiating calmly and rationally. If you do all this, you have a good chance of paying lower monthly rent. Good luck!

 Related:

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Source: zillow.com

What Is a Mortgagee? Hint: It’s Not a Typo

Are You a Mortgagee or Mortgagor?

It’s mortgage Q&A time! Today’s question: “What is a mortgagee?”

No, it’s not a typo. I didn’t leave an extra “e” on the word mortgage by mistake, though it may appear that way.

Despite its striking appearance, it’s actually a completely different word, somehow, simply with the mere addition of the letter E.

Don’t ask me how or why, I don’t claim to be an expert in word origins.

Seems like a good way to confuse a lot of people though, and it has probably been successful in that department for years now.

You can blame the British English language for that, or maybe American English.

Anyway, let’s stop beating up on the English language and define the darn thing, shall we.

A “mortgagee” is the entity that originates (makes) and sometimes holds the mortgage, otherwise known as the bank or the mortgage lender.

They lend money so individuals like you and I can purchase real estate without draining our bank accounts.

It could also be your loan servicer, the entity that sends you a mortgage bill each month, and perhaps an escrow analysis each year if your loan has impounds.

The mortgagee extends financing to the “mortgagor,” who is the homeowner or borrower in the transaction.

So if you’re reading this and you aren’t a bank, you are the mortgagor. It’s as simple as that.

Another way to remember this rather confusing word jumble; Who is the mortgagee? Not me!!

Mortgagor Rhymes with Borrower, Kind Of

mortgagor

  • Here’s a handy way to remember the word mortgagor
  • It kind of rhymes with the word borrower…
  • Or even the word homeowner, which is also accurate if you hold a mortgage on your property

I was trying to think of a good association so homeowners can remember which one they are, instead of having to look it up every time they come across the word.

I believe I came up with a semi-decent, not great one. Mortgagor rhymes with borrower, kind of. Right? Not really, but they look and end similar, no?

Anyway, the real property (real estate) acts as collateral for the mortgage, and the mortgagee obtains a security interest in exchange for providing financing (a home loan) to the mortgagor.

If the mortgagor doesn’t make their mortgage payments as agreed, the mortgagee has the right to take possession of the property in question, typically through a process we’ve all at least heard of called foreclosure.

Assuming that happens, the property can eventually be sold by the mortgage lender to a third party to pay off any attached liens, or mortgages.

So if you’re still not sure, you are probably the mortgagor, also known as the homeowner with a mortgage. And your lender is the mortgagee. Yippee!

What makes this particular issue even more confusing is that it’s the other way around when it comes to related words like renters and landlords.

Yep, for some reason a landlord is known as a “lessor,” whereas the renter/tenant is known as the “lessee.” In other words, it’s the exact opposite for renters than it is for homeowners.

But I suppose it makes sense that both landlord and mortgage borrower are property owners.

What About a Mortgagee Clause?

mortgagee clause

  • An important document you may come across when dealing with homeowners insurance
  • Stipulates who the lender (mortgagee) is in the event there is damage to the subject property
  • Protects the lender’s interest if/when an insurance claim is filed
  • Since they are often the majority owner of the property

You may have also heard the term “mortgagee clause” when going through the home loan process.

It refers to a document that protects the lender’s interest in the property in the event of any damage or loss.

It contains important information about the mortgagee/lender, including name, address, etc. so the homeowners insurance company knows exactly who has ownership in the event of a claim.

Remember, while you are technically the homeowner, the bank probably still has quite a bit of exposure to your property if you put down a small down payment.

For example, if you come in with just a 3% down payment, and the bank grants you a mortgage for 97% of the home’s value, they are a lot more exposed than you are.

This is why hazard insurance is required when you take out a mortgage, to protect the lender if something bad happens to the property.

Conversely, if you buy a home with cash, as opposed to taking advantage of the low mortgage rates on offer, it’s your choice to insure it or not.

But more than likely, you’ll want insurance coverage on your property regardless.

In summary:

Mortgagee: Bank or mortgage lender
Mortgagor: Borrower/homeowner (probably you!)

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

5 Tips for Finding a Rental With a Large Dog

It’s not uncommon for pet-friendly apartment communities to have weight and breed restrictions. What should the owner of a large dog do?

Finding an affordable and comfortable apartment can be an incredibly time-consuming process. Add a large dog to the mix, and it’s next to impossible.

That’s what Jan Even, owner of a 90-pound Rottweiler mix, experienced during her Bay Area apartment search. She was planning to rent in San Francisco or the East Bay and began her search by looking at pet-friendly apartments.

“I couldn’t find a single place that would accept my dog. She’s perfectly well-behaved, but a lot of the places that bill themselves as pet-friendly have restrictions about types of dogs they will accept,” she said. “Eventually we concluded we weren’t going to be able to find a rental because of our dog. Now we’re looking at real estate to buy.”

It’s not uncommon for apartment communities — even those that are dog-friendly — to have weight and breed restrictions. So, what’s the owner of a large dog to do?

Look into single-family rentals

Large apartment complexes are mostly likely to have size and breed restrictions in their pet policies. Landlords of individually-owned properties are more likely to be flexible and accept large dog breeds on a case-by-case basis. Use keywords like “pet friendly” or “dog friendly” in your search filter to narrow down rental listings.

Use advocacy groups as a resource

There are plenty of other dog owners who have been in your shoes. The Humane Society of the United States has a list of tips for finding rental housing with pets. Your local animal shelter, breed rescue or advocacy group likely has a list of apartment communities that will accept your specific breed. For example, the website My Pit Bull is Family has a list of pit bull-friendly rental housing providers in each state.

Have all your documents prepared

In addition to preparing documents like obedience training and vaccination records, ask your landlord or veterinarian to write a reference for your pet, vouching for your dog’s behavior.

“A reference from a previous landlord can be huge in changing the mind of the landlord,” said KC Theisen, director of pet care issues at the Humane Society of the United States. “One other thing I recommend, in addition to pet resumes and references is a pet interview. If your dog is a great dog, offer to bring them by the rental office for a meet and greet. It’s very hard for a landlord to look at a sweet, well-mannered dog in the eye and say no.”

Plan extra time for the search

Understand that finding a rental with a large dog may not be easy. Allot additional time to find the right home for you and your dog. If you’d normally give yourself one month to find an apartment, double that to two since a good majority of rentals won’t be pet-friendly. If you really need extra time, consider getting a short-term rental and boarding your dog while you continue your search.

Be flexible

Finding a rental with a large dog may require flexibility on your end. Understand that you may be required to pay an additional pet deposit, pay extra for insurance that covers your dog’s breed or even rent on a month-to-month basis until your pooch earns the landlord’s approval. Follow the pet guidelines to show that you and your dog are model tenants and willing to work with the landlord.

As you look for a place to rent, above all, sell yourself as a responsible pet owner. “The thing about big dogs is that they’re not that different from a small dog in terms of the amount of space they need or damage they’re going to do,” explained Theisen. “Each dog is an individual.”

Do you have any tips for finding a rental with your large dog? Share your experience with us in the comments below.

Related:

Source: zillow.com

Fannie Mae Increasing Max DTI to 50%, Upping LTVs for ARMs

Last updated on July 17th, 2018

There’s been a lot of talk lately about mortgage lenders easing credit standards as refinance volume wanes and purchase activity remains constrained by limited inventory.

Because more and more new entrants (many so-called disruptors) have joined the fray, and there’s a smaller pool of eligible mortgage borrowers, risk appetite is expected to rise in coming months.

In fact, a Fannie Mae survey released yesterday found that the share of lenders expecting to ease credit standards over the next quarter hit new all-time highs.

Fannie Mae Increasing Max DTI to 50%

  • Fannie is making it easier for borrowers
  • To get approved for a mortgage with a high DTI ratio
  • Via their automated underwriting system
  • Which should usher in more of these types of loans

First off, we’ve got Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriter (DU) Version 10.1 release slated for the weekend of July 29th.

The biggest change is that this version of DU will allow debt-to-income ratios as high as 50%, up from 45% currently.

For the record, you can get approved at the moment with a DTI as high as 50%, but Fannie requires additional compensating factors to support a DTI ratio between 45-50%, such as lots of assets and an excellent credit score.

With this release, that 50% DTI will be good to go because the DU risk assessment will automatically consider “a broad range of loan characteristics and borrower credit factors.”

In plain English, this means it’ll be easier to get approved for a mortgage with a high DTI ratio, and because Fannie is greenlighting it, banks and lenders will likely ease up and follow suit, ditching overlays in the process.

ARM LTVs Going Up

  • They’re also increasing allowable LTVs on ARMs
  • Pushing the max LTV to 95% for adjustable-rate mortgages
  • Which aligns with the fixed-rate mortgage rule
  • Similar increases will apply to multi-unit properties and investment properties

Along with the DTI change, Fannie will soon permit loan-to-value ratios on adjustable-rate mortgages up to 95%. That means you only need 5% equity to get an ARM.

The rule will align LTVs on ARMs with those on fixed-rate mortgages, which are deemed lower risk, across all transaction, occupancy, and property types.

For example, someone buying a two-unit owner-occupied property is currently limited to an LTV of 75% if they elect to use an ARM to finance it.

When DU 10.1 is rolled out, this max LTV will increase to 85%, so they’ll only need to put 15% down instead of 25%.

A four-unit owner-occupied property will see the max LTV rise from 65% to 75%.

Similar increases will be seen in a variety of scenarios, meaning more borrowers will be able to, well, borrow more.

I’m assuming the 97% LTV offering from Fannie will still only permit a fixed-rate mortgage, for obvious reasons.

It’ll also get easier to borrow if you’re self-employed, with Fannie’s newest version of DU more likely to require just one year of personal and business tax returns.

That should mean less headaches and paperwork, and potentially more approvals if two years of documentation don’t paint your business in as favorable a light.

Finally, Fannie will ease up on borrowers with disputed credit tradelines so that if DU approves the file, no more action will be necessary.

Less Redundancy, More Approved Loans

  • It looks like Fannie wants to make the home loan process easier
  • With less overlap and actual reliance on the automated system
  • Instead of still requiring paperwork on top of an automated decision
  • Hopefully this will speed up things up and reduce the paperwork burden on mortgages

In summary, it sounds like Fannie will be relying more upon its computer (algorithm) to do the underwriting going forward so that redundant documentation and scrutiny won’t be required.

If you think about it, why should you have to further explain stuff that’s already been taken into account and factored into the automated approval?

These changes, along with other recent enhancements, like more forgiving student loan payment calculations, should make it easier for more folks to get mortgages.

And it could just be the tip of the iceberg. We already discussed the idea of 10% down being the new normal, and the coming removal of tax liens and civil judgments from credit reports might bring even more borrowers into the game.

For the record, Fannie performed an analysis to see what approvals would look like without those derogatory accounts on credit reports and found that the impact would be “small,” and said lenders can remain confident in DU.

Still, cleaner credit reports might result in hundreds of thousands of newly-eligible mortgage borrowers out there.

And altogether, these underwriting changes may affect millions of prospective buyers and those looking to refinance.

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Is Paying Rent in Advance a Good Idea?

Thinking about handing over a stack of money to secure an apartment or get a rent discount? Be sure you know what you’re getting into.

In some instances a landlord might offer, or you might propose, paying rent in advance. This could be done to secure a particular property that is on the rental market, or to get a discount on rent.

Paying in advance could be a good idea depending on the circumstances, but be sure you know what you’re getting into — especially if you’re paying a significant amount like a full year’s rent upfront.

Paying ahead to secure a unit

If you are vying to rent a particular property and you believe the competition is fierce, you might think offering to pay a large amount of rent upfront could help seal the deal. Or the landlord might encourage you to do this to get the place. It could be a good idea if the rental is a great place for you at the right price. However, you do want to be careful of a few issues.

First, as with any rental property, watch out for fraud. Sometimes scammers try to rent a property they don’t own. It might be done fully online, or they might meet you at the property, gain access somehow, pretend they’re the landlord, and take your security deposit. They could also push you into providing upfront rent for the place to secure it. Unfortunately, if they are a fraudster, you’ll never see a dime of your money again.

To protect yourself, research the landlord and the property, and talk to a real estate agent about any concerns. Go meet the landlord at their office if possible, never wire money, and watch out if the deal seems too good to be true.

Even if the landlord is reputable, if they ask for extra rent upfront, try to verify that they’re not going into foreclosure. If they do lose the property, you’re pretty well protected under many states’ laws if you’ve paid rent.

Paying ahead to get discounted rent

If you are already living in the property and the option comes up to pay advance rent, it should come with a sweetener like reduced rent or some other benefit to you. You are taking a risk by paying upfront. What if the place burns down, or there is a flood, or you have to move out? Do you want to fight with a landlord over getting your money returned? It’s not worth it in most cases.

Sometimes it may make sense if there is a benefit sweetener to you. You’ll have to determine whether or not it is the right incentive for you to jump on it. A 10-percent discount might make paying a full year in advance a good option, but only if you are sure the landlord is stable and you’ll be able to get your full year of residency. A smaller discount might not be worth the risk.

Overall, these pay-in-advance options are infrequently available, but if one comes up and it’s a good arrangement with low risk, it might be to your benefit to open up that checkbook and make the deal.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Source: zillow.com

Don’t Swipe Your Credit Card Before You Apply for a Mortgage

Posted on April 29th, 2021

Large Credit Card Purchases Really Can Tank Your Credit Score

  • While missed payments are arguably the worst offense
  • Even racking up a lot of debt can lower your credit score significantly
  • So it’s best to put the spending on hold a few months before applying for a home loan
  • That way there won’t be any unwelcome surprises when it comes time to pull your credit

You’ve probably heard at some point that making large purchases with your credit card(s) before applying for a mortgage is a no-no.

In fact, you may have read that on this very site, since I’ve warned about it on numerous occasions in multiple posts because it’s such a common problem.

You might be aware of this issue, but shrugged it off, thinking what’s a few points, right?

You already have excellent credit so it doesn’t matter if you purchase a new $5,000 couch with your AmEx card for the new digs ahead of time.

Well, think again. It really does matter, and it can do serious damage to your credit score.

I’m not just talking about 5-10 points. I’m talking enough movement to potentially take you out of the running for a mortgage altogether, or at minimum raise your mortgage rate.

My Credit Score Got Rocked After Maxing Out a Credit Card

my score

  • I maxed out one of my credit cards a few years ago
  • And my excellent credit score dropped about 50 points seemingly overnight
  • That’s enough to raise your mortgage rate depending on how low your scores drop
  • Or worse, disqualify you from obtaining a mortgage altogether if your credit wasn’t great to begin with

Let’s take a look at a very real example; my credit score back in 2016. Yes, I’m using my own credit score to illustrate this very real problem.

Fortunately, I didn’t apply for a mortgage during this period so it wasn’t an issue for me.

Instead, it was a moral blow as I saw my near-perfect credit score drop from over 800 to the mid-750 range, which incidentally is still excellent credit.

But for those who followed my path and did apply for a home loan, it could have spelled serious, serious trouble.

For most of that year, my credit score had been stuck in a range from the low 800s to around 820. This was good because it meant I wouldn’t have any issues qualifying for a mortgage based on credit score alone.

Not only that, but I would have received the most favorable rates and avoided as many mortgage pricing adjustments as possible.

Once you get your credit scores above 760 there aren’t many pricing adjustments (if any) to worry about, so you don’t need perfection.

However, when the holidays hit I started making a lot of purchases on my credit card. There was a promotion with Discover and Apple Pay that offered 23% cash back on all purchases so I hit it hard.

I basically maxed out my Discover card, which had a pretty dismal credit limit (maybe only $5,000 or so) because Discover is a pretty conservative lender.

When all was said and done, I think I had 1% available credit on the card, otherwise known as 99% utilization.

This is not a good idea, especially before applying for a mortgage because it will literally tank your credit score, even if you pay off the balance in full by your due date.

The problem is that the credit bureaus will take a snapshot of your credit balances on a certain date and then compute your credit score based on that information.

Chances are TransUnion flagged this maxed out credit card and docked my score accordingly, basically assuming I was going down a bad path by making a ton of charges in a short span of time.

This is usually a signal that a consumer is in trouble financially, assuming the behavior continues. And the bureaus basically sent out an SOS to new lenders to proceed with caution.

In the matter of a couple months, my credit score fell nearly 50 points. From peak to trough, it fell a total of 65 points.

I went from having stellar credit to having very good credit. Still, my score was below 760, which could cost you on a mortgage.

Tip: If you must swipe, consider spreading the purchases across several credit cards to keep utilization rates on a per-card basis low. This may be less damaging than maxing out a single card.

The Good News Is I Bounced Back Pretty Quickly!

  • Thankfully my maxed out credit card was a short-lived event
  • My credit score bounced back fairly quickly once I paid off the credit card debt
  • So you can resolve it rather easily, assuming you have time to do so
  • But the takeaway is not to chance it because you might not always have time!

Now the good news. Once I paid my credit card bill in full, and the bureaus took note of the new $0 balance (this isn’t immediate), my credit score shot up to its highest point in the past 12 months.

My 758 credit score went all the way up to 826, not too far from the perfect credit score of 850. It was also the highest it had been since Credit Karma began keeping track of it a couple of years earlier.

So despite the big hit early in 2016, I wound up in even better shape than I had been to begin with.

This was great in hindsight, but had I applied for a mortgage at any time during that 30-45 day window, I could have jeopardized the entire thing.

For someone with a lower starting score, they could have knocked themselves out of eligibility, or at minimum been forced to take on a higher mortgage rate as a result.

Don’t Make the Same Mistake I Did If There’s Even a Tiny Chance You’ll Apply for a Mortgage Soon

  • If there’s any chance you’ll purchase a home or refinance an existing mortgage in the near future
  • Put all your credit cards away and avoid any unnecessary purchases
  • It’s just not worth the aggravation or the possibility of a higher mortgage rate and/or denied application
  • Just be patient and you can go back to spending once your home loan funds

The moral of the story is to heed the warnings of avoiding large purchases before taking out a mortgage. It’s no joke.

For the record, the same can be said of spending your cash because you’re depleting your assets if you make large cash purchases.

And you may need more money than anticipated for the down payment, reserves, and closing costs.

This is especially true nowadays with many homes going for above-asking.

Make sure you set aside lots of money in a verifiable account (like a checking or savings account) several months before you begin making bids or inquiring about a refinance.

Also note that the more outstanding debt you have on your credit card(s), the higher your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) will be.

And this just happens to be one of the main reasons why mortgages get declined.

So racking up credit card debt can hurt you in two different ways at the same time if you’re not careful.

In other words, practice frugality before and during the mortgage application process and until the loan is funded.

Those purchases can wait and you’ll be better for it.

After all, mortgages can stick with you for decades – you’d hate for one ill-timed purchase to haunt you for years to come.

Interestingly, once you get your mortgage, you might be able to pay it with a credit card, not that it’s necessarily a good idea either.

Read more: 10 Things You Should Do Before Applying for a Mortgage

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

New Fannie/Freddie Refinance Option Drops Adverse Market Fee, Offers $500 Appraisal Credit

Posted on April 28th, 2021

In an effort to undo some of the damage the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) basically caused itself, it’s throwing a bone to so-called low-income families to save on their mortgage.

It all spurs from the adverse market fee the very same agency implemented back in August 2020 to contend with heightened losses related to COVID-19 forbearance and loss mitigation.

The 50-basis point fee, which went into effect on September 1st, 2020, applies to all new refinance loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

While it’s not a .50% increase in mortgage rate, the fee does get passed along to consumers in the form of either higher closing costs or a slightly higher mortgage rate, perhaps an .125% increase all told.

Either way, it wasn’t well received at the time, and still isn’t today, and this announcement is a somewhat bittersweet one, as it only applies to a certain subset of the population.

Still, the FHFA believes families who are eligible for this new refinance initiative could see monthly savings between $100 and $250 on average.

Who Is Eligible for Adverse Market Fee Waiver and Appraisal Credit?

  • Applies to homeowners with incomes at or below 80% of the area median income and loan amounts at/below $300,000
  • Must result in savings of at least $50 in monthly mortgage payment, and at least a 50-basis point reduction in interest rate
  • Must currently hold an agency-backed mortgage (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac)
  • Property must be a 1-unit single-family that is owner-occupied
  • Borrower must be current on their mortgage (no missed payments in past 6 months, 1 allowed in past 12 months)
  • Max LTV is 97%, max DTI is 65%, and minimum FICO score is 620

Perhaps the biggest eligibility factor is the borrower’s income must be at or below 80% of the area median income.

This new refinance program specifically targets what the FHFA refers to as low-income families, which director Mark Calabria said didn’t take advantage of the record low mortgage rates.

Apparently more than two million of these homeowners did not bother refinancing, even though it would have been advantageous to do so (and still is).

He noted that this new refinance option was designed to help eligible borrowers who have not already refinanced save somewhere between $1,200 and $3,000 annually on their mortgage payments.

That’s actually a requirement as well – the borrower must save at least $50 per month in mortgage payment, and their mortgage rate must be at least .50% lower.

For example, if your current mortgage rate is 4%, you’ll need a rate of at least 3.5% to qualify.

Additionally, you must currently have a home loan backed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and your property must be owner-occupied and no more than one unit.

I assume condos/townhomes work as well, as long as it’s your primary residence.

The adverse market fee is waived as long as your income is at/below 80% of the area median AND your loan balance is at/below $300,000.

If your loan amount happens to be higher, my understanding is you can still get the $500 appraisal credit.

You’ve also got to be current on your mortgage, meaning no missed payments in past six months, and up to one missed payment in past 12 months.

Lastly, there is a maximum loan-to-value ratio of 97%, a max debt-to-income ratio of 65%, and a minimum FICO score is 620.

Most borrowers should have no issue with those requirements as they are extremely liberal.

Is This New Refinance Option a Good Deal for Homeowners?

  • It’s an excellent deal for those who haven’t refinanced their mortgages yet
  • You get a slightly lower mortgage rate and/or reduced closing costs
  • And with mortgage rates already super cheap it could be a double-win to save you some money
  • Even though who don’t qualify for this new program should check to see if a refinance could be worthwhile

As Calabria said, many higher-income homeowners probably already refinanced, or are currently refinancing their mortgages to take advantage of the low rates on offer.

Meanwhile, lots of lower income borrowers haven’t for one reason or another, perhaps because they’re not aware of the potential savings or had a bad experience with a mortgage lender in the past.

Whatever the reason, those who haven’t yet and meet the income requirement can take advantage of a refinance without the pesky adverse market fee.

That means they could get a mortgage rate maybe .125% lower than other borrowers who aren’t eligible for this program.

Additionally, they’ll get a $500 home appraisal credit from the lender, assuming the transaction doesn’t already qualify for an appraisal waiver.

Either way, eligible homeowners won’t have to pay for the appraisal, which is another plus to save on the refinance itself via lower closing costs.

It’s actually a great deal for those who haven’t refinanced yet because you might wind up with an even lower mortgage rate and reduced closing costs.

And because your new mortgage payment must be at least $50 cheaper per month, there’s less likelihood of it being a meaningless refinance.

All in all, this is good news for the so-called low-income homeowners who’ve yet to refinance, but bittersweet for everyone else.

Still, mortgage rates remain very attractive for everyone, so even if you have to pay the adverse market fee (and the appraisal fee), it could be well worth your while.

The FHFA said the new refinance option will be available to eligible borrowers beginning this summer, though it’s unclear exactly what date that is as of now.

Read more: When to a refinance a mortgage.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

How to Get Rid of Your Roommate (Legally!)

As tempting as it may be, you can’t just kick him to the curb.

He’s messy, his rent is always late, and now he “lost” his pet scorpions somewhere on the premises. In other words, it’s high time for your roommate to hit the road.

But how to get him out? Legally speaking, can one tenant kick the other to the curb based on a few common lease violations? And, if so, what is the least-stressful way to accomplish this feat? Below, we discuss several tips and techniques for lawful roommate eviction, as well as conduct to avoid at all costs — or you may find yourself on the curb.

Communication is key

As in any relationship, lack of clear communication between roommates could be the downfall of an otherwise promising cohabitation situation. When a problem first arises, talk it out. Perhaps your roommate is under unusual stress, isn’t aware of the rules or just needs a little coaxing to meet obligations. Hopefully, this tactic will calm the waters.

But if not, it may be time to bring your landlord in on the conversation. If your roommate is engaging in clear violations of the lease agreement, your landlord should be notified immediately, and the violations should be clearly documented through pictures and descriptions. Assuming your roommate is a tenant of record (more on that below), he or she maintains a distinct legal relationship with the property owner or landlord and must abide by the terms of the lease. While general messiness is not usually cause for eviction, late rent payments and unapproved pets likely are, so alert your landlord. He or she can start the eviction process under your state’s landlord-tenant laws.

Off-the-record roommates

This issue can become much more acrimonious if your roommate is not a tenant of record (i.e., an inhabitant who has not signed a lease agreement). In essence, this person has no legal duty or obligation to the property, its owner, or its lessee (you), so state landlord-tenant laws do not apply. Accordingly, it may be time to seek an alternative legal remedy. However — and this is key — you cannot physically force a roommate out the door by pushing them or throwing belongings on the sidewalk.

Most states have enacted a more civilized approach that provides the unwanted guest the right to notice and due process. In many states, a roommate must first be put on notice that he or she is no longer welcome. To accomplish this, a simple one-page statement declaring that the roommate arrangement has ended should suffice. Further, provide the roommate with a deadline for leaving, which usually must be at least 15-30 days from the date of the notice. Lastly, as much as you might like to avoid actual interaction, be sure the roommate actually receives the document.

See you in court!

Hopefully, the roommate will take a hint and exit gracefully. If this does not happen, however, it will be necessary to file a petition for eviction in your local court, which is likely the same court that handles formal landlord-tenant matters. By allowing the roommate to remain on the property sans lease, you actually created a month-to-month oral tenancy agreement, which must be undone using proper legal channels.

The court staff will give you a date and time for an eviction hearing. At the hearing, be prepared to present the eviction notice mentioned above, as well as evidence to show that the roommate was never included on the lease and — at most — had a month-to-month tenancy as an off-the-record roommate.

The court will likely grant the petition, and your roommate will have no choice but to vacate the premises immediately.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Related:

Source: zillow.com