Posts Tagged ‘pre-approval’

Tales of a Home Buyer – part 1

May 11, 2011

Written by Shawn DeVries

Let me start by saying that this was not my first time.  Not only have I purchased a home before, but I have obviously been on the selling side of the process.  I have experienced a refinance and even rented for a period in my life.  I now work in the lending industry and know the process of buying a home and what to expect.  Yet, I still experienced the same stress, fear, anxiety, worry, excitement, joy, anticipation and ultimate relief that every other home buyer and owner experiences when going through this process.  My emotional range may have something to do with me doing this as a single buyer this time, but I felt it all just the same.

If you are considering purchasing a home, you may wonder just what this journey is all about.  I thought you might like to know.  If you fully understand this process please don’t disregard this series, for I know you will find warm memories and at the very least some great humor as I relate my story to you.

My story really begins nearly three years ago.  After a divorce I relocated back home to start my life over again.  Let me set the stage very clearly by adding that “moving home” was taken quite literally by moving back into my parent’s house.  Oh yeah, I did it.  God bless my parents, for despite their honest intentions and good will, I really don’t think either of us knew what this would all entail.  Most of my belongings were packed into storage with the remaining pieces finding basement corners and emptied closets.  I was prepared for this journey to start over to take some time, but not quite this much time.  Let the fun begin.  Oh, did I mention I have two children in tow?  (I told you my story would have humor.  Ha!)

Fast forward now through the past three years as I find a new career, pay off debt, and save some money all in preparation of buying my own home.  When January of this year finally came, I was ready to go home shopping!  I thought this day would never come.  I knew to take care of my credit over this time and felt it was in great shape.  I had money set aside for the down payment, plus some for reserves.  I had crunched the numbers and knew not only what I could afford, but what I wanted to afford.  Yes, I am a little anal about details sometimes, but I was preparing to buy a home and I wanted no surprises.

Knowing that the first step in buying a home is to get pre-approved I started by gathering my documents (yes all seemingly 4,000 of them) and verifying the information (just short of the blood work) for my Loan Officer as he prepared to pull my credit report.  Despite having a good clue of what to expect, that 15 seconds between him hitting “submit” and seeing the actual report can feel like eternity.  What are my scores?  Did I really behave?  Will that oops from 5 years ago show up now?  What surprises will he find?  Oh please, oh please let my score be above that golden 640 so that I can shop for a house.  See?  Even people who work for lenders have real emotions and understand the angst our clients endure.

Well the report appeared.  Great scores, good behavior paid off, no glaring marks, no surprises, and above the benchmark score needed.  Whew!  My information was then entered into a program that analyzes the data and based on preset criteria makes a decision on whether or not I could be approved for a loan.  However to the borrower the answers feel like: go away you are only kidding yourself; we had better have someone else take a look at this because we’re not so sure; or yeah, we can do that… provided nothing weird happens.  I was relieved to learn that my information was approved.  My pre-approval was then written and off I went to find my house.  This would be a snap.

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Gaining Perspective

February 9, 2011


There are times when you need to view something from a different angle to better understand it.  We tilt our heads when appreciating abstract art.  We walk around a new car to take in all the lines.  We step back when we place an arrangement on the table.  Changing the view gives us new perspective in order to better understand what we are looking at.

 

The same can be said when looking at factors and indicators of the economy, housing sector and interest rates.  We have all heard that interest rates are at historic lows, but just how low is that?  Did you miss out on this recent refinance boom?  Is this refinance boom even over?  Just where are rates right now anyway?

 

Interest rates have been tracked and recorded for the past 39 years.  In that time if there has been one constant, it would be change.  Consider these facts on 30-year fixed rate loans:

 

  • The average interest rate from one month to another has only held unchanged 14 times in 39 years.
  • Interest rates have dropped 2.69 points from 1972 when the average rate was 7.38% to 2010 where rates ended at 4.69% on average.
  • Over the past 39 years interest rates climbed as high as 11.07 points above the yearly average of 1972.
  • Interest rates have dropped as much as 14.22 points since their highest in October of 1981 when that single month boasted rates at 18.45%.
  • The highest yearly average interest rates occurred in 1981 at 16.63%.
  • The lowest rates on record happened last year in 2010 at just 4.69%.
  • Over 39 years the average interest rate was 8.92%, almost double 2010’s yearly average.

So yes, we really are at historically low interest rates!  Yes, this is still a fantastic time to review your current home loan to see if refinancing makes sense for you!  No, you most definitely have not missed out on these low rates!  And yes, it is a fantastic time to buy a home.  Not a bad view from that perspective.  Give us a call to review your current loan or to help you with a pre-approval for your new home.

Not all Bones are Worth Barking at

July 13, 2010

The Home Buyer’s Tax Credit program has not only received much attention, but also much success among buyers who were able to take advantage of the incentive to receive up to $8,000 in tax credits.  The program was so successful that it was granted two extensions.  The first extension happened this past winter allowing more time and more buyers to get in on the action.  And thousands did!  The second extension was signed into action just 11 days ago by President Obama.  This second extension moves the deadline to close on these home loans from June 30 to September 30, 2010. 

While this may sound good on paper, did it even help anyone?  Were home buyers just thrown the proverbial dog bone?  The second extension affects home loans for purchase agreements that were finalized by April 30 of this year.  That means these contracts are now over 60 days old with most written to close within that time frame.  If a buyer takes another 90 days to close on their home loan, it will have taken 5 months to close their loan!  Are sellers even willing to wait that long to close on the sale of their home?  What affect with that long of a wait have on a sellers next purchase?

Perhaps the underlying question is why didn’t the home loan close in the first place?  You can make the argument that with all the home buyers flooding the market, lenders, appraisers, title companies, etc were suddenly backlogged with so much business they could not possibly keep up.  For some this is probably true, but is the extension too late?  Remember that the extension only changes the closing date.  The binding purchase contract still needs to be dated on or before April 30, 2010.  If the contract was written to close by June 30, 2010 and it did not, that contract is now void.  A written addendum to change the closing date changes the purchase agreement and while the buyer and seller may agree, it also means a final binding agreement was not in place by April 30.

The other challenge we have heard is that buyers were not properly qualified before they even made an offer on the home.  Unfortunately, many lenders only pre-qualify a borrower which means you have only verbally discussed your financial situation for purchasing a home.  A stronger case is when a borrower is pre-approved.  This means actual documentation on income, assets and debt load has been reviewed and verified.  Pre-approved borrowers have fewer surprises when their home loan is processed. (Awareness Home Funding always prepares our clients.)  Unfortunately, many home buyers wanting to take advantage of the Home Buyers Tax Credit are failing to close due to challenges that should have been addressed before they even began to shop for a new home.

The Home Buyers Tax Credit program was a good program that really worked, really helped buyers and really moved home sales.  This last extension just helps very few and was put into affect way too late.  But let’s not leave this post on a down note.  There is still a home buyer’s incentive program in place, one that has been there for some time – the Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program.

The MCC program is a Federal tax credit on the mortgage interest you pay on your home loan over a calendar year.  While this does not reduce your monthly mortgage payment, it is a dollar for dollar reduction from the amount of your Federal Income Tax liability.  Not every state offers the MCC since it is state run and funded despite being a federal program.  However, for states that do, it effectively reduces your annual interest rate.  Awareness Home Funding is committed to using the MCC program wherever available in the states we are licensed to conduct business.

The main point is this, while the Home Buyers Tax Credit program has ended, help is available for home buyers.  Call us today (866-982-9273) to see how we can help you.

What’s the Difference? (Part 1)

December 31, 2009

(Part 1 of 3 posts on terminology that can often create confusion)

Don’t you just hate it when someone you are talking with starts throwing words around that you don’t fully understand?  We certainly don’t want that!  It is important that anyone involved in the purchase or refinance of a home understand the terminology used.  Especially when you consider this information involves not only your personal finances, but also something with high emotional ties – your home.

This series of posts will compare two similar terms but with very different meanings and implications that are used throughout the mortgage process.  This information will hopefully be valuable and not just industry jargon to pepper your conversation.  But either way, we thought you might want to know.

Part 1 – What’s the difference between a “pre-qualification” and a “pre-approval”?

Regardless of which term you are referring to, both words describe a lender’s review of your personal information in order to secure a home loan.  The process is typically used when a borrower is preparing to purchase a home.  (Incidentally, it is highly advised to take this step before you shop for a home, rather than shopping for a loan after you find your dream home.)

The significant differences are:  the amount of effort a lender puts into helping you determine how much house you can afford; and in how much documentation you provide a lender.  A pre-qualification means you have had a casual conversation with a lender and have verbally discussed your financial situation for purchasing a home.  You will only talk about your credit, income and possibly size of down payment.  You are given an opinion of your ability to secure a loan based on a hypothetical situation.

A pre-approval means you have provided actual documentation to verify your income and assets, have had a full credit report run, have discussed various loan options available and have a good idea of how much house you can afford.  You will also know how your home may be financed and what the payments can look like.  In a word, you are an informed buyer.

Gaining a pre-approval has significant advantages to both the buyer and to the seller.  As a buyer you know how to shop, can make an offer with a high degree of confidence and know that you have financing lined up.  Taking this simple step also gives you huge bargaining power over a pre-qualified buyer since your offer is more financially sound.  As a seller you know a pre-approved buyer is serious, prepared to make you a quality offer and you don’t have to worry if the deal is going to fall through.

If you are considering purchasing a home, call one of our Home Loan Specialists today (866-98-AWARE) and let us help you with a pre-approval so you can shop with confidence to purchase your dream home.

Coming soon – Part 2 – What’s the difference between a “pre-paid expense” and a “closing cost”?