Claire LeBlanc - REALTY EXECUTIVES



Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 8/11/2021

Photo by Alexander Stein via Pixabay

When it comes to a mortgage, most of us think of the same standard product; the 15 or 30 year conventional mortgage offered by banks and lenders. This is not the only mortgage option you have, though. Depending on your personal history and circumstances you may qualify for an attractive mortgage with lower rates and a small down payment. Examining your options and determining if you qualify for a less common type of mortgage allows you to have the greatest amount of flexibility and more options when it comes to your new home. Learning more about the different types of mortgages ensures you get the best possible terms when it comes to this significant purchase.

FHA, VA and USDA Loans: Explore your Mortgage Options

FHA Loans

An FHA loan is one that is insured by the Federal Housing Administration; if the buyer was to default or fail to pay, the FHA would pay the lender instead. Because of this guarantee, lenders are able to offer mortgages with less rigid requirements and accept more potential risk. FHA loans benefit the borrower in several key ways; they offer low down payments, credit score requirements of just 620 and that FHA guarantee for lenders. There are income guidelines and limits for the amount that can be borrowed, so you should check to see if your potential loan qualifies. A fast and easy approval process makes this a good option for many borrowers, though you should note PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) is required and adds an additional amount to your monthly bill. 

USDA Loans

Often the most overlooked and misunderstood, a USDA loan is backed by the Department of Agriculture in the same way an FHA loan is backed by the Housing Administration. USDA loans are designed to help people in rural and suburban areas become homeowners and offer attractive rates and very low closing costs and down payments. If you are looking for a mortgage, it is worth checking your eligibility. Both your income and the home you are considering need to be eligible, but since an estimated 90% of the homes in the country qualify, USDA could be the right product for you.

VA Loans

A VA loan is backed by the Veteran's Administration and is available to active members and veterans of the US armed forces. This is the most attractive alternative to conventional loans of all, if you qualify. Designed to make it easy for service members to buy a home, this loan features little or no down payment, easy lending guidelines and appealing rates for veterans. If you qualify, the VA loan is an excellent option for your new home. 

Learning about your options makes it easy to find the right home mortgage for your situation. Chances are, you will qualify for one or more of the loan types above; you should compare the terms of the FHA, USDA or VA loan you are considering with a conventional mortgage to make the best possible choice for your new home purchase. 




Tags: Mortgage   loans   FHA   USDA   VA  
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Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 3/24/2021


Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

Building your new home should be a rewarding experience, but it's important to know how the financing for a new construction is different from the financing for a previously owned home. You will need a specific type of loan called new construction loans, and they can be harder to get than a traditional mortgage. Before you jump into the home building process, take some time to learn some tips that will help you land a new construction loan.

1. Boost Your Credit First

New construction loans are more challenging to get than loans for preowned homes, so you'll want to have the best credit score possible. The reason for this is the risk that lenders take on when they offer a construction loan. There are simply more things that can go wrong while a home is built than with an existing home which puts the lender at higher risk.

2. Get Your Budget in Order

Before you even start talking to a lender, know what you can afford to spend each month on your mortgage. This requires a working budget. It also requires you to know the approximate cost of building your dream home. Talk to builders to get an idea of what the home construction costs would be and start setting money aside for a down payment. By having your budget in order before you start talking to lenders you will be prepared to ask for the right amount of money.

3. Have Savings in Hand

A big down payment is a good idea with a new construction loan. Your lender may require the full 20% or even more, so the bigger your savings account the better. Having money in savings will also protect against the unexpected expenses that can arise when you're building a home. A strong savings account also shows your lender that you are going to be a less risky borrower.

4. Choose a Trustworthy Builder

Not only will your lender look at your credit and income, but they may background check the builder. If you choose a shoddy builder, the lender is at higher risk. They will take the time to make sure you are working with a quality contractor because it means they are taking on a good risk. For this reason avoid the temptation to go with the builder that has the lowest bid.

5. Understand how Money Gets Distributed

When you buy a home the money is given all at once to the home's seller. When you get a construction loan, the money goes to the home builder, but not all at once. The builder will make installment payments throughout the construction process based on a pre-determined schedule. While the home is under construction your payments are interest-only payments. Often the construction loan is a variable-rate loan as well so the monthly payment can change.

When your home is done and you're ready to move in, any remaining principal is either paid in full or converted into a trainload home mortgage. If you are able to pay some principal during the construction phase you can lessen the amount of this final loan.

Building a home should be an exciting step forward but you need to plan ahead. By getting your financial situation organized before you start the process, you can avoid any unexpected delays and hurdles. With solid credit and savings in the bank you will have a much easier time getting a new construction loan.





Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 9/23/2020

Photo by Precondo via Pixabay

Some mortgage companies offer loans with points. In a nutshell, paying points means paying down the interest rate. One point is equal to 1 percent of the mortgage amount. On a $200,000 mortgage, one point is $2,000. The percentage the interest rate lowers depends on the mortgage company and the market. For example, one point might be equal to a quarter of a percent interest. A loan with 4 percent interest and two points might go down to 3.5 percent interest.

Pros and Cons of Points

If you do pay points, you could get a tax break. Since tax laws are constantly changing, make sure you can claim points if part of your decision is based on the tax break. Other considerations include:

  • If your mortgage is an adjustable rate (ARM), some mortgage servicers only give you the discounted rate until the mortgage rate adjusts. Some may hold the discount rate over. For example, if you have an ARM that starts at 4 percent and you buy two points for a discount of ½ percent, you may lose that discount when the loan adjusts, especially if it changes to a higher interest rate. However, if the bank carries the discount over, the new rate might increase to 6 percent, but your one-half point discount would mean that your new rate would be 5.5 percent.

  • You need additional cash to buy points. If you plan on putting 20 percent down, but you want to purchase points and do not have more cash, you could be less than 20 percent down. However, compare the scenarios to determine which method is better in the long run. If you put less than 20 percent down, the mortgage servicer may charge you PMI, which would negate any savings.

  • You may save more by putting more down. If you put $40,000 down on a $200,000 mortgage, you are going to pay interest on $160,000. If you put less money down and buy points instead, your interest rate will drop, but you may end up paying more for the loan in the long run. Enter the numbers into a mortgage calculator to determine which way you save more.

Scenario

If your mortgage is $200,000 and you put $40,000 down, thus cutting the amount you finance to $160,000, and do not buy points, the total interest you will pay over the length of the loan will be about $115,000.

Using the same scenario, you instead put $36,000 down and buy two points. This drops your interest rate to 3.5 percent from 4 percent. You will save about $16,700 over the life of the mortgage. And, you would have to stay in your house without refinancing for 49 months to break even on your savings. In this case, your $4,000 ends up saving you a net of $13,500 on interest (savings minus the $4,000 it cost you to save).

Before you agree to points or a larger down payment, discuss the scenarios with your accountant or tax attorney to determine which method is best for your situation. If you have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), buying points could end up costing you.




Tags: Mortgage   PMI   Points   Downpayment  
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Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 6/10/2020

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

Owning a home can be an amazing experience. But interest from your mortgage accumulates over time, leaving you to seemingly pay an arm and a leg to finance your home. But while you may think that paying off your mortgage early is a great idea, that isn’t always the case.

You May Have Other Debt

Paying off your mortgage early can save you on interest costs, but you more than likely have other debt to deal with. If you have other debts — like car loans, student loans or credit card debt — then these should be paid off first. Try to focus on your debts with higher interest rates; these tend to be associated with credit cards. After you’ve paid those debts off, then moving on to pay off your mortgage could be a good choice.

You Don’t Want to Go Broke

Paying off your mortgage may sound great and all, but you must consider all of your expenses, including possible emergencies. Saving on interest is very tempting, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your emergency fund. You never know when something serious will happen, so do your best to set aside some cash. If you have hefty savings and all of your expenses are accounted for every month, then you can move on to paying off your mortgage early.

Consider Your Future

Many people try to pay as much as they can towards their mortgage, only to find out that they used up all of their money. While they have some big expenses and big life changes that cost money, now they have to save up in order to cover those costs. That being said, it’s best to think about your future before paying more towards your mortgage. Are you planning on having kids? Thinking of going back to school? With how frequent life changes, you never know when you could use money down the road. While it might seem like a great plan to throw money at your mortgage payment, think about your life goals and how your finances fit in that equation.

It Can Be Beneficial

Although we’ve made some points above that suggest that you shouldn’t pay off your mortgage early, it can still be very beneficial to do so. Let’s say your household is doing very well with finances and money is pouring in quickly. If your other debts and finances are taken care of, then paying off your mortgage early can help you save on interest; the larger amount you pay, the more you’ll save on interest. However, this can be a tough choice. Be sure to consider the points mentioned above before paying this loan off early.





Posted by Claire LeBlanc on 11/27/2019

Most homeowners would love to be able to pay off their mortgage early. However, few see it as a possibility when they take into account their earnings and other bills.

 There are, however, a few ways to pay down your mortgage earlier than planned. But first, letís talk about when it makes sense to try and pay off your mortgage.

 When to consider paying off your mortgage early

If you recently got a promotion, have someone move in with you who contributes to paying the bills, or recently got a secondary form of income, you might want to consider making extra payments on your mortgage.

However, having extra money doesnít always mean you should spend it immediately on your home loan.

First, consider if you have a large enough emergency savings fund. It might be tempting to try and throw any extra money at your mortgage as soon as possible, but there are other financial commitments you should plan for as well.

If you have kids who will be applying to college soon, remember that student aid takes into account their parentsí finances. If your children plan on applying to institutions with high tuition, then your equity will be counted against you.

Refinancing to pay your mortgage early

Refinancing your home loan is one option if youíre considering increasing the payments on your mortgage. If you can refinance a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan with a lower interest rate, youíll save money in two ways--your lower interest rate and the fact that youíll be accruing interest for less time.

There is a downside to refinancing. Once you refinance, youíre locked into your new payment amount. So, if your higher income isnít dependable, it might not make sense to commit to a higher monthly payment that you arenít sure youíre going to be able to keep paying.

Thereís also the matter of refinancing costs. Just like the costs associated with signing on your mortgage, youíll have to pay closing costs on refinancing. Youíll need to weigh the cost of refinancing against the amount youíll save on interest over the term of your mortgage to see if it truly makes sense to go through the refinancing process.

Paying more on your current loan

Even if you arenít sure that refinancing is the best option, there are other ways you can make payments on your mortgage to pay it off years sooner than your term length.

One of the common methods is to simply make thirteen payments each year instead of twelve. To do this, homeowners often use their tax returns or savings to make the thirteenth payment. Over a thirty year mortgage, this could save you over full two years of added interest.

A second option is to make two bi-weekly payments rather than one monthly payment. By making biweekly payments you have the ability to make 26 payments in a year. If you were to just make two payments per month then you would make 24 total payments. Over time, those two extra payments per year add up.




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