Posts Tagged ‘home purchase’

Tales of a Home Buyer – part 5

June 7, 2011

Written by Shawn DeVries

My Loan Officer now took my file (all 7,000 pages at this point) and submitted it to the underwriter for them to review and verify.  I was feeling a little more confident at this point that the loan would go through smoothly.  However, the first part of this process is not just for the underwriter to approve the loan, but to also to gather more information (called conditions) if needed to support their decision.  It’s kind of like the kid on the playground who says, “Oh yeah? Prove it!” when you say you can do a handstand or something else you can no longer do at age 39.  (There’s a whole other story there.  Don’t ask.)

I am happy to report; my loan was approved by the underwriter with minimal conditions.  Those were submitted and my Loan Officer and Title Agent were soon given the all clear sign to get the final documents ready for the closing.  If you think the papers you signed for your application were excessive, you haven’t seen anything yet.  Some of the documents are the same ones you signed for the application.  You get the privilege of signing those again.  Others are new forms that detail your loan and how you will repay it.  Then there are others that give you important information about the whole transaction, and then even more that verify you were given that information.  As you may have guessed, there were a couple politicians and lawyers involved in determining the process for buying (or even refinancing) a home.  I highly suggest a big breakfast before and a hand massage after the closing.

The day of my closing seemed to never come.  The dream of owning my own home was finally here after almost 3 years of planning and hard work.  The moment the keys to the front door were placed into my hand was, as they say, priceless.  Owning a home is not just the purchase of piece of property.  A home is where you raise a family, share memories, retreat from the world.  It is an investment unlike any other.  Stocks and bonds can never hold the emotional ties that a house does.  A home is not just brick and mortar; it is a part of who you are.

We, at Awareness Home Funding, have always said we had one of the best careers there is.  It is a high honor to help someone with the most significant transaction in their lives.  We’ve been through the process – not just as loan officers and processors, but as home owners ourselves.  We haven’t forgotten the feelings and emotions attached to the address.  I’ve shared my story, and you have (or will have) your own.  The point in sharing mine is that we understand, completely, and are here to help you with compassion and expertise.  We’d love to be a part of your unique story and happy ever ending.

Tales of a Home Buyer – part 3

May 20, 2011

Written by Shawn DeVries

Not long after, that call did come.  A friend of a family member was selling her parent’s home and was looking to her contacts first for potential buyers.  Fortunately, besides just looking online and in papers, I had told my family and friends that I was shopping for a house.  I also told them what I was looking for and to keep their eyes open for me.  When those big steps in life come up, it is important to enlist the help of those who know you best.

The sellers were selling the property by themselves without a realtor. (A For Sale By Owner.)  Had I not been employed by a lender I probably would not have considered this prospect.  I wondered how much experience they had in selling a home.  I wondered if they had any help lined up to handle this transaction. Yet, while I had some serious concerns I also figured that at this point I was only looking at the place.  So off I went. 

Remember that houses have personalities all their own?  This one was warm and inviting.  This place had character and charm.  This house could easily become my home.  I let them know I was interested but left myself an out.  With spring break coming I would be out of town.  So we made arrangements to talk again after my vacation and that if any other offers came in they would call me to see if I really wanted the place.

During my vacation I could not get that house out of my mind.  By the time my short hiatus was done, I had the place re-carpeted with new laminate flooring, fresh paint and my furniture all neatly placed inside.  This was all in my head of course, but I was hooked.  Again we set an appointment to meet and I made them an offer.  While they remained cool and asked for time to deliberate I was given a good feeling when I left. 

They called first thing the next morning to ask where to fax the signed agreement.  I was screaming with excitement!  I had found a house.  (I was actually screaming inside since I was at work, but I was still really, really excited.)  Now the real work began.

What is a Buyer’s Agent?

May 4, 2010

There are two general types of agency involved with the purchase of a home, the listing agent and the selling agent.  The listing agent is the realtor who has listed the property as being for sale.  The selling agent is the realtor who actually sells the home to the buyer.  In both of these instances, the realtor is ultimately working to sell the home.  This is after all, how they make a living.  However, you can make one simple step to ensure a realtor is working for you the buyer.  Get a buyer’s agent.

A buyer’s agent is a realtor that works exclusively for the buyer.  But there they are also so much more than that.  Only members of the National Association of Realtors can claim the title of Realtor.  And only members of the Real Estate Buyers Agency Council can call themselves an ABR (Accredited Buyers Representative).  An ABR has gone through intensive, specialized training in the process of buying a home. These agents hold to a code of ethics that hold the professional to high standard of conduct.

Having an ABR buyer’s agent work for you can lower your risk of losing money throughout the buying process.  He or she will make recommendations that will assure that you are buying a home that is safe, environmentally sound and priced fairly according to the current marketplace. 

Don’t be surprised if you are asked to sign a contract of commitment for a set period of time to work exclusively with this particular ABR buyer’s agent.  This can actually be a very good thing.  A Realtor does not get paid until the sale of your home closes.  This means your agent is focused on helping you meet your goals, or they won’t get paid.  Now consider that Realtors have information on homes in the marketplace that you the buyer do not, such as the latest homes for sale and price changes.  As a committed client, you will have access to that information first. 

Once you find that dream home, you will want a professional on your side helping you negotiate the finer points of the transaction; handling the forms, contracts and paperwork that needs to be processed; and dealing with any challenges that come along the way.  Don’t let the purchase of your dream home turn into a nightmare.  Work with a professional, Accredited Buyers Representative.  You’ll be glad you did.

What Can I Afford?

March 31, 2010

So you have decided that now is the time for you to buy a house.  Perhaps you’ve done some research on what area of town you would like to live, how many bedrooms you’d like, style of home, and other items that are essentials or mere wishes.  But have determined what you can afford?  If you have a monthly payment in mind, is this realistic for your budget?  How do you even determine this?

Calculating this mystical figure is really a simple mathematical equation – no smoke and mirrors.  Let’s start from the lender’s perspective.  They are looking at the percentage of income that your existing debt and future home loan will consume.  The idea is to make sure your new home loan payments do not overwhelm your monthly budget. 

Using industry averages, start by taking your total monthly income and multiplying by 38% (.38).  The answer represents the ideal amount of your new mortgage payment and total debts.  (Debts include installment loans like car payments and revolving debt like credit cards.) 

For example;  If you earn $42,000 a year, your monthly income is $3,500.  ($42,000/12 months = $3,500)

$3,500 x .38 = $1,330

$1,330 is the combined total of current monthly debt and projected house payment.

Take this number ($1,330 in this example) and subtract your total debt.  The answer is the targeted maximum amount of your new home loan payment.  Keep in mind this number reflects the principal payment, interest payment, taxes and home owners insurance.  If you are not using an escrow account for your taxes and insurance, this targeted amount should be lower.

Here’s another way to look at this.  Let’s calculate just a total monthly payment by taking your total monthly income and multiply by 28% (.28).  This again is an industry average where a range of 25 – 30% is the target. 

Using the same numbers as the example above; $3,500 x .28 = $980.  Again this answer represents a principal payment, interest payment, taxes and home owners insurance.

How about another perspective?  What you qualify for, may not represent what you can realistically afford.  Does either of these amounts you just calculated seem realistic for your budget and comfort level?  Depending on your approach to personal finances, this may seem high.  If you currently have a high debt load, this amount may be surprisingly low.  Nothing could be worse than to have the joy of new home squashed by discovering you are now “home rich” but “cash poor”.  

Qualifying amounts should be used as guidelines and not absolute rules.  Consider other factors that contribute to your monthly budget.  How many kids do you have?  Will any of them need braces, require extra medical care or want to go to college someday?  Do you like to travel, try new restaurants or attend sporting events?  Are you adventurous and want to get the “project” home that becomes truly your own? 

When considering what home to buy, also consider that you are committing to a loan that extends over a lengthy period of time.  Thirty (even fifteen) years are a large portion of your life, during which “life” is going to happen.  Be prepared for those occurrences by not over extending yourself with a mortgage payment that keeps you awake at night.

Our intent is to provide some guidance in helping you determine what monthly payment you can undertake based on your particular budget and needs.  If you would like to take this a step further to determine how much house you can afford with these payments, give us a call.  Our business is based on working for you and your long-term goals.  We also have a number of different calculator options on our website to help you make informed decisions when purchasing or refinancing your home.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

March 18, 2010

Last month we posted an article on RD (Rural Development) home loans.  We outlined the basics and how this is a great option to consider when purchasing a home, especially when so many areas and buyers may qualify.  Unfortunately, this program may come to a sudden halt – at least for the rest of this fiscal year.

Early last week a memo from the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development alerted lenders that they anticipated funding for this year’s program to be exhausted by the end of April, 2010.  This news itself is nothing earth shattering, but the timing most certainly is.  Normally funds start to become depleted in the fall near the end of USDA’s fiscal year which ends September 30th. 

The other challenge is that there will not be any Conditional Commitments.  Typically as funds are depleted, loans are conditionally approved pending more fund allocation.  Once the department has the new fiscal year’s budget approved with new government funding those loans are fully approved and business continues as usual.  Not this year.  Since there is such a huge gap between now and the start of the next fiscal year, Conditional Commitments are just not appropriate.

So what caused this problem?  Why did the funding end so quickly?  The easiest explanation is the growing popularity of the program.  Kevin Smith, Area Director for Rural Development says, “Record demand, not only in Michigan but nationally, for the Guaranteed Rural Housing loan program will led to the full utilization of Congressionally appropriated funding at an early time frame this fiscal year.”

We too have seen a steady increase in RD loans; and our company continues to underwrite more RD loans than any other lender in the state of Michigan.  As more borrowers learn about the program with low income requirements, 100% financing options, and the vast amount of area classified as rural; demand will continue to increase. 

The next obvious question is what can be done to ease this challenge in the future?  Should more money be allocated to the program?  Should the upfront funding fee be increased like the FHA program has done?  Should this be a top subject for Congress to focus on?  Smith could not comment on policy issues of the federal government, but one thing is sure.  If you want to take advantage of this program yet this fiscal year, you need to have a signed purchase agreement as soon as possible.  There are only 6 weeks left before committed funds are anticipated to be exhausted.  Miss this window, and you may need to wait until October to get in on this program again.

Things could always change based on how the federal government reacts.  Time will tell.  In the meantime, we’ll keep watching and will let you know how this program progresses.

New Rules Mean Fair Play

January 5, 2010

Starting January 1, 2010 HUD implemented a new RESPA rule to standardize the GFE and HUD-1 issued to borrowers for the purpose of a home loan.  Now unless you have been researching this information, are in the process of securing a home loan or work in the industry, that last sentence was most likely read like a law student’s text book and made absolutely no sense.  So, let’s break this down.

HUD stands for the department of Housing and Urban Development, and is the government agency that oversees the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  The FHA is the specific department that insures home loans made by private lenders.  HUD passed some new regulations regarding how borrowers are informed of the details of mortgage loans back in November of 2008 and some of these changes are now being fully implemented.  (Some things take time.)  These rules are part of RESPA.  RESPA stands for Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, and is a federal law that helps protect consumers from unfair practices during the home-buying and loan process. (We are not the only ones looking out for you.)

As part of this new regulation some significant changes have been implemented to two documents that are used within the mortgage process – specifically the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) and the Settlement Statement (HUD-1).  The GFE is a form that is issued at the start of the loan process.  It discloses to the borrower their estimated costs for fees related to obtaining the mortgage for their home that will be paid prior to or at the time of closing.  The HUD-1 is a final listing of the closing costs for the mortgage transaction.  It lists the sales price, loan amount, individual charges and total settlement costs related to the transaction for both the buyer and seller (or for just the single party in the case of a refinance).

There were two goals with this change: 

  1. To standardize these two forms across all lenders to provide borrowers with an easier way of comparing loan offers.
  2. To help borrowers determine that the loan they are getting at close is the same loan they were offered in the GFE. 

Every lender will now use the exact same form, with the exact same terminology and show, at close where and why any changes were made between the start of the loan process and the end.  This is a very good thing! 

A borrower can now compare a loan program from any number of lenders and intelligently compare fees, interest rates and programs in order to make an informed decision on what loan will be best for them.  At Awareness Home Funding, our goal has always been to educate our clients and to treat them fairly.  Now you have a way to prove to yourself that what we have been saying all along is true!  Check us out and compare our fees to anyone else.  We think you’ll be glad you did.