Amy Uliss' Blog
Applying for a mortgage can be a lengthy and difficult process. Lenders want to know that they are going to get a return on their investment.
To ensure that they’ll see that positive return they will take a number of things into consideration, such as your income, credit score, employment history, and financial capital.
First-time homeowners often struggle when it comes to these prerequisites since they have fewer years of numbers for lenders to consider. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry--you can still purchase a home.
First-time homeowner loans, which are guaranteed by the U.S. government, and a number of private loans enable people to borrow money for a home without paying a huge down payment or having a vast credit history.
One downfall of said loans is private mortgage insurance, or “PMI.”
In this article, we’re going to talk about what private mortgage insurance is, how to avoid it, and how to get rid of it.
What is PMI?
If you make a down payment on a mortgage that is less than 20% of the loan amount, you will most likely have to pay private mortgage insurance.
PMI exists as a way for lenders to help guarantee they won’t lose money off of your loan. If you make a down payment of 20% or more, then lenders are typically satisfied that they won’t lose money from doing business with you.
PMI is not to be confused with home insurance, which protects you against damage and theft. Rather, it is an additional fee you’ll pay to your lender each month that is added to your mortgage payment.
PMI is calculated based on a few considerations. Lenders will take into account your down payment amount, the value of the mortgage, and your credit score.
In terms of costs, PMI typically costs between .5 and 1% of the total mortgage amount each year.
Naturally, it’s best to avoid paying private mortgage insurance altogether. Private mortgage insurance has no future value for you and your family since it doesn’t count towards building equity and doesn’t protect you from any potential financial harm (your lender is the sole beneficiary of PMI).
Saving for a down payment can take time, and sometimes you’ll need to rent or cut costs while you save. However, if you do take on a loan with PMI, you can still cancel it at a later point.
Canceling your private mortgage insurance
The first thing you should know about canceling PMI is that it usually isn’t easy. You’ll need pay off at least 20% of the home, write a letter to your lender, and wait for an appraisal of the home. Once you’ve done this, you still have to wait while your lender considers your request. In all, this process could take months--months that you’re still required to pay PMI.
Once common way to get out of PMI is to refinance. If the value of your home has increased since the time of you taking on the loan, the new lender likely won’t require PMI. However, you’ll want to make sure that refinancing will get you a lower interest rate and cover the costs of refinancing.
One of the critical steps involved in looking for a home is the process of negotiating for a mortgage. Many people dread this process because they find out exactly how much money they are going to have to pay each month. At the same time, this is also an opportunity for people to negotiate for more favorable terms. Think about options such as waiving origination fees, reducing points, and asking for a lower interest rate. In the end, most are locked into a mortgage that will last from 15 to 30 years. As the months start to roll by, losing a large chunk of that paycheck will start to get old. Fortunately, there are ways to pay off a mortgage more quickly.
Pay More Each Month
The first option is to pay more than the minimum loan payment each month (or increase the frequency of the payments). Increasing the amount of each payment will ensure that extra dollars are being applied directly to the principal. This will reduce the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan, therefore, allowing for a quicker pay off.
Refinance the Mortgage
Another option to consider is to refinance the loan with a different lender with more favorable terms. This could all you to secure a pay off date that isn't so far into the future. This is a great idea if interest rates have dropped since the mortgage was first installed. Refinancing at a lower interest rate can help you pay off your mortgage faster but it will likely impact your monthly payments.
Split the Payment in Half
Finally, here is a creative approach that may work for you especially if you collect a paycheck every two weeks. Split your monthly mortgage payment in half. Send payment for that amount to your loan provider every two weeks. This approach allows you to submit one extra monthly mortgage payment each year. This added payment goes directly toward the principal and can cut years off of the life of your loan. Check with your lender they may have options like this that you can enroll in right from origination.
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Perhaps one of the most challenging things about buying a home is saving for the downpayment. Collecting such a large sum of money can be difficult. The truth is that most buyers actually think that they need more than they actually do to buy a home. The downpayment doesn’t need to be a barrier to your path to homeownership. There are so many programs that offer low and even no down payment home loans. Read on to learn more about down payments and programs that can help you.
First, let’s look at what a down payment is and how it can help you. If you put 10% down on a $200,000 home that’s $20,000. The downpayment minus the purchase price of the home is $180,000, and that's how much your home loan will be. The more money you can put down on the house, the lower your home loan will be and the lower your monthly mortgage payments will be. A large down payment can indeed save you in the long term. If you’re looking to move into a home sooner rather than later, saving a considerable sum isn’t always possible.
Low Downpayment Mortgages
You need to decide what type of home loan you need by the amount of downpayment you’re willing and able to put down. Some benefits go along with making a down payment, but there are some negatives.
By making a substantial down payment you may despite your savings, leaving little money for emergencies. Your mortgage rate may not be affected by a large downpayment either. It can be hard to decide what type of loan to get and just how much you really can afford.
FHA loans are among the most popular type of home loans. The downpayment that’s required is just 3.5%. The requirements are simple, and you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify.
The drawback to an FHA loan is that you cannot cancel the monthly mortgage insurance that comes along with it unless you refinance the home. Traditional mortgage insurance is canceled when you have built up 20% equity in the house, but this isn’t the case with FHA loans.
Another positive about FHA loans is that your credit score doesn’t have to be stellar in order for you to qualify. Some lenders approve FHA loans with credit scores as low as 580.
VA Home Loans
Buyers who have current or former military service status can qualify for this zero down mortgage. These loans are benefits to veterans and current members of the Armed Forces. While no downpayment is required, buyers may put down any amount they wish. The only requirements are that buyers be members of the military either currently serving for 90 days or two years of active duty service if not an active member.
The above options are great for those who can’t afford or don’t wish to put down large down payments but still hope to be homeowners.
Looking to buy a house? Ultimately, you'll want to attend at least a few open houses in your city or town. By doing so, you'll be able to understand exactly what you'd like to find in your dream house.
Before you attend an open house, there are several factors to consider, and these include:
1. Your Homebuying Budget
With a budget in hand, you can narrow your search for the ideal home. That way, you can avoid the temptation to attend open houses for residences that fall outside your price range.
To establish a homebuying budget, take a look at your current financial situation. Then, consider your future expenses like those related to student loans or children and plan accordingly.
In addition, it never hurts to get pre-approved for a home loan. If you gain pre-approval, you can enter the housing market with a budget in hand and review a broad array of houses that match your budget.
2. Your Homebuying Checklist
If you're living to a warm-weather climate, you may want to own a home with a swimming pool. Or, if you plan to reside near the ocean, you may consider houses where you can dock your boat nearby.
Create a homebuying checklist before you visit open houses. This will allow you to streamline your home search and accelerate the homebuying journey.
Also, it may help to separate your homebuying checklist into "wants" and "must-haves." Although your dream house may not include all of your homebuying checklist "wants," you can use these categories to determine exactly what you'd like to find in your ideal residence.
3. Your Homebuying Timeline
Are you planning to move next week or in the next several weeks? Some homebuying journeys are faster than others, and you'll want to map out your property buying journey based on when you need to move.
For example, if you've accepted a new job in the city, you may need to move quickly to relocate. This may require you to act so you can get settled in a new home before you begin your new job.
Comparatively, if you're in no rush to relocate, you can take a wait-and-see approach to the housing market. And if you attend an open house and like what you see, then you can submit an offer to acquire a residence.
If you're unsure about how to approach open houses, there is no need to worry. In fact, many real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide to assist homebuyers.
A real estate agent can offer expert insights into a home before a homebuyer attends an open house. Plus, this housing market professional can provide honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations and will even negotiate with a home seller on a buyer's behalf.
Get ready for an open house – consider the aforementioned factors, and a homebuyer should have no trouble exploring a broad array of residences and finding one that he or she can enjoy for years to come.