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Mortgage Musts

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

What home buyers need to know when mortgage rates rise- even just a fraction

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

By: Clare Trapasso

By now, we've all grown accustomed to the screaming, panic-inducing headlines: "Mortgage Rates Are on the Rise!" But what does this actually mean to home buyers? With mortgage interest rates notching up just small fractions of a point, is it really as big a deal as experts are making it out to be?

Well, yes. And they're about to go up again.

As it turns out, those teeny, tiny increases can cost home buyers hundreds of dollars a year, and thousands of dollars over the life of their loans. And they're likely to keep rising as the Federal Reserve continues increasing its key interest rate. (Mortgage rates are different, but often follow the same trajectory as the federal ones.) The latest Fed hike is expected this month, with more on the horizon.

"When you're talking about a 30-year mortgage, a small increase in mortgage rates adds up to a lot of money," says Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner of realtor.com®. "If you've got a house in mind and you're ready to pull the trigger, don't dillydally. Interest rates will definitely go up ... so you're going to be paying more money for the same house."

And they're not just a buyer's dilemma. Rising mortgage rates limit just how much buyers spend on homes—and therefore serve as a bit of a check on just how high sellers can price their abodes. It can prevent some folks from becoming buyers, meaning there are less offers to go around.

How much can higher rates add to a mortgage bill?

So what does this all mean? Well, current mortgage rates are 4.65% on 30-year, fixed-rate loans. If they increase by just one full percentage point, it costs typical home buyers an additional $147 a month—or almost $53,000—over a 30-year period. (This assumes that a home is about $300,000 with a 20% down payment.)

Even much smaller increases really add up. If mortgage rates tick up by just 0.05%, it can cost typical buyers $2,600 or more over the life of their 30-year loans.

Rates are expected to rise to between 5.5% and 6% over the next two years if the economy keeps humming along, according to Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac.

Those escalations can make it harder for buyers to qualify for loans on the abodes of their dreams, forcing some to purchase smaller residences, fixer-uppers, or properties in less desirable or farther-out neighborhoods as a result. Some may even be priced out of the market altogether.

But don't panic just yet.

It's important to realize that rates are still low. Yes, they're more than 0.8% higher than they were a year ago, according to Freddie Mac data. But they're nowhere near the peak of 18.63%, in October 1981. So, you know, breathe.

"We've experienced low rates for a very long time," says Kiefer. He pointed out the last time that rates rose above 5% was way back in 2011. "[So] the increases that we've seen are likely to stick."

Mortgage broker Chris Brown has seen fewer buyers seeking loans over the past few months as a result of the increases.

"Buyers are starting to come to the realization that real estate prices have moved up significantly over the last six or seven years and, combined with higher rates, the homes they were once targeting are no longer in their price range," says Brown of CB Investments in Huntington Beach, CA. "It has forced them to either settle for a lesser home than they expected or temporarily put off the home search. [And] a lot more buyers are opting for the latter."

What should buyers do to get the lowest-cost mortgages?

Hope is not lost for those striving to protect their pocketbooks from rising rates. Consumers should start by looking for the cheapest loans with the lowest mortgage rates.

"Shopping for a mortgage is like shopping for anything else," says Eric Tyson, co-author of “Mortgages for Dummies.” Some lenders offer specials to lure in customers while others have consistently lower prices. "You can certainly check with the bigger banks and credit unions in your area, or online."

They may also want to consider getting a rate lock with their mortgage providers. This means that they're guaranteed a certain rate once they turn in their offer. So if rates go up, buyers don't have to worry about it. The downside, however, is that not all rate locks are free. And if rates fall, buyers can't take advantage of them.

Should buyers consider adjustable-rate mortgages?

Another option is an adjustable-rate mortgage, known as an ARM. This loan typically starts with a lower interest rate that then goes up after a set period of time. The proliferation of ARMs was partly responsible for the housing crash about a decade ago as rates—and therefore monthly payments—suddenly ballooned and homeowners couldn't afford the new, higher bills.

But newer regulations have since been put in place to make them safer for consumers. In addition, most of these loans come with a cap that limits just how high interest rates can go.

Miami-based mortgage loan originator Sylvia M. Gutiérrez has been advising her clients to consider ARMs, which typically fix interest rates for three-, five-, seven-, or 10-year periods.

"The lower initial rate allows you to qualify with a lower mortgage payment," says Gutiérrez, also the author of "Mortgage Matters: Demystifying the Loan Approval Maze." "[And] today's ARMs are much stabler than pre-recession ARMs."

But folks need to pay close attention to when those rates are likely to adjust and just how high they could possibly go before signing on the dotted line. And they shouldn't bank on being able to refinance at a lower interest rate down the line, because rates are just going to keep going up, says realtor.com's Kirchner.By: Clare Trapasso

By now, we've all grown accustomed to the screaming, panic-inducing headlines: "Mortgage Rates Are on the Rise!" But what does this actually mean to home buyers? With mortgage interest rates notching up just small fractions of a point, is it really as big a deal as experts are making it out to be?

Well, yes. And they're about to go up again.

As it turns out, those teeny, tiny increases can cost home buyers hundreds of dollars a year, and thousands of dollars over the life of their loans. And they're likely to keep rising as the Federal Reserve continues increasing its key interest rate. (Mortgage rates are different, but often follow the same trajectory as the federal ones.) The latest Fed hike is expected this month, with more on the horizon.

"When you're talking about a 30-year mortgage, a small increase in mortgage rates adds up to a lot of money," says Senior Economist Joseph Kirchner of realtor.com®. "If you've got a house in mind and you're ready to pull the trigger, don't dillydally. Interest rates will definitely go up ... so you're going to be paying more money for the same house."

And they're not just a buyer's dilemma. Rising mortgage rates limit just how much buyers spend on homes—and therefore serve as a bit of a check on just how high sellers can price their abodes. It can prevent some folks from becoming buyers, meaning there are less offers to go around.

How much can higher rates add to a mortgage bill?

So what does this all mean? Well, current mortgage rates are 4.65% on 30-year, fixed-rate loans. If they increase by just one full percentage point, it costs typical home buyers an additional $147 a month—or almost $53,000—over a 30-year period. (This assumes that a home is about $300,000 with a 20% down payment.)

Even much smaller increases really add up. If mortgage rates tick up by just 0.05%, it can cost typical buyers $2,600 or more over the life of their 30-year loans.

Rates are expected to rise to between 5.5% and 6% over the next two years if the economy keeps humming along, according to Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac.

Those escalations can make it harder for buyers to qualify for loans on the abodes of their dreams, forcing some to purchase smaller residences, fixer-uppers, or properties in less desirable or farther-out neighborhoods as a result. Some may even be priced out of the market altogether.

But don't panic just yet.

It's important to realize that rates are still low. Yes, they're more than 0.8% higher than they were a year ago, according to Freddie Mac data. But they're nowhere near the peak of 18.63%, in October 1981. So, you know, breathe.

"We've experienced low rates for a very long time," says Kiefer. He pointed out the last time that rates rose above 5% was way back in 2011. "[So] the increases that we've seen are likely to stick."

Mortgage broker Chris Brown has seen fewer buyers seeking loans over the past few months as a result of the increases.

"Buyers are starting to come to the realization that real estate prices have moved up significantly over the last six or seven years and, combined with higher rates, the homes they were once targeting are no longer in their price range," says Brown of CB Investments in Huntington Beach, CA. "It has forced them to either settle for a lesser home than they expected or temporarily put off the home search. [And] a lot more buyers are opting for the latter."

What should buyers do to get the lowest-cost mortgages?

Hope is not lost for those striving to protect their pocketbooks from rising rates. Consumers should start by looking for the cheapest loans with the lowest mortgage rates.

"Shopping for a mortgage is like shopping for anything else," says Eric Tyson, co-author of “Mortgages for Dummies.” Some lenders offer specials to lure in customers while others have consistently lower prices. "You can certainly check with the bigger banks and credit unions in your area, or online."

They may also want to consider getting a rate lock with their mortgage providers. This means that they're guaranteed a certain rate once they turn in their offer. So if rates go up, buyers don't have to worry about it. The downside, however, is that not all rate locks are free. And if rates fall, buyers can't take advantage of them.

Should buyers consider adjustable-rate mortgages?

Another option is an adjustable-rate mortgage, known as an ARM. This loan typically starts with a lower interest rate that then goes up after a set period of time. The proliferation of ARMs was partly responsible for the housing crash about a decade ago as rates—and therefore monthly payments—suddenly ballooned and homeowners couldn't afford the new, higher bills.

But newer regulations have since been put in place to make them safer for consumers. In addition, most of these loans come with a cap that limits just how high interest rates can go.

Miami-based mortgage loan originator Sylvia M. Gutiérrez has been advising her clients to consider ARMs, which typically fix interest rates for three-, five-, seven-, or 10-year periods.

"The lower initial rate allows you to qualify with a lower mortgage payment," says Gutiérrez, also the author of "Mortgage Matters: Demystifying the Loan Approval Maze." "[And] today's ARMs are much stabler than pre-recession ARMs."

But folks need to pay close attention to when those rates are likely to adjust and just how high they could possibly go before signing on the dotted line. And they shouldn't bank on being able to refinance at a lower interest rate down the line, because rates are just going to keep going up, says realtor.com's Kirchner.

Photo by rawpixel on Pexels.com

Interest Rate Impact

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

YOUR STRESS-FREE GUIDE TO SHOPPING FOR HOME LOANS

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team
When it comes to buying a house, most people know what they prefer: a bungalow or a condo, a hot neighborhood or a sleepy street.

Mortgages, too, come in many styles — and recognizing which type you should choose is just slightly more involved than, say, knowing that you prefer hardwood floors over wall-to-wall carpeting.

First things first: To pick the best loan for your situation, you need to know what your situation is, exactly. Will you be staying in this home for years? Decades? Are you feeling financially comfortable? Are you anxious about changing loan rates? Consider these questions and your answers before you start talking to lenders. (And before you choose a lender, read this.)

Next: You’ll want to have an understanding of the different loans that are out there. There are lots of options, and it can get a little complicated — but you got this. Here we go.

Mortgages Are Fixed-Rate or Adjustable, and One Type Is Better for You

Let’s start with the most common type of mortgage, that workhorse of home loans — the fixed-rate mortgage.

A fixed-rate mortgage:

  • Let’s you lock in an interest rate for 15 or 30 years. (You can get 20-year loans, too.) That means your monthly payment will stay the same over the life of the loan. (That said, your property taxes and insurance premiums will likely change over time.)

    It’s ideal when: You want long-term stability and plan to stay put.

Here’s what else you need to know about fixed-rate mortgages:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage offers a lower monthly payment for the loan amount (for this reason, it’s more popular than the other option, the 15-year).
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage typically offers a lower interest rate but a higher monthly payment because you’re paying off the loan amount faster.
Now let’s get into adjustable-rate, the other type of mortgage you’ll be looking at.

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

  • Offers a lower interest rate than a fixed-rate mortgage for an initial period of time — say, five or seven years — but the rate can fluctuate after the introductory period is over, depending on changes in interest rate conditions. And that can make it difficult to budget.
  • Has caps that protect how high the rate can go.

    It’s ideal when: You plan to live in a home for a short time or you expect your income to go up to offset potentially higher future rates.

Here’s what else you need to know about adjustable-rate mortgages:

  • Different lenders may offer the same initial interest rate but different rate caps. It’s important to compare rate caps when shopping around for an ARM.
  • Adjustable-rate mortgages have a reputation for being complicated. As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advises, make sure to read the fine print.

A general rule of thumb: When comparing adjustable-rate loans, ask the prospective lender to calculate the highest payment you may ever have to make. You don’t want any surprises.

Conventional Loan or Government Loan? Your Life Answers the Question

Which fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage you qualify for introduces a whole host of other categories, and they fall under two umbrellas: conventional loans and government loans.

Conventional loans:

Who qualifies? Typically, you need at least a credit score of 620 or above and a 5% down payment to qualify for a conventional loan.

  • Offer some of the most competitive interest rates, which means you’ll likely pay less in interest over the period of the loan.
  • Typically you can get one more quickly than a government loan because there’s less paperwork.
Here’s what else you need to know about conventional loans:
  • If you put less than 20% down for a conventional loan, you’ll be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), an extra monthly fee designed to mitigate the risk to the lender that a borrower could default on a loan. (PMI ranges from about 0.3% to 1.15% of your home loan.) The upshot: The lender has to cancel PMI when you reach 22% equity in your home, and you can request to have it canceled once you hit 20% equity.
  • Most conventional loans also have a maximum 43% debt to income ratio, which compares how much money you owe (on student loans, credit cards, car loans, and other debts) to your income — expressed as a percentage.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac set limits on how much money you can borrow for a conventional loan. A home loan that conforms to these limits is called a conforming loan:

  • In most cities, the maximum amount for a conforming loan is $453,100.
  • In high-cost areas, such as New York City and San Francisco, the limit is $679,650.
  • Limits are revisited annually and are subject to change based on each area’s average home price.

A home loan that exceeds these limits is called a jumbo loan:

  • Jumbo loans typically require a higher down payment (up to 30% for some lenders) and a credit score of at least 720. Some borrowers can qualify while putting down 20%, but their credit score has to be higher.)
  • They also tend to have stricter debt-to-income requirements, generally allowing for a maximum DTI ratio of 38%.

There are practical considerations to take into account before getting a jumbo loan too, mainly: Are you comfortable carrying that much debt? The answer depends on your current financial situation and long-term financial goals.

Government loans:

Who qualifies? That depends on which government loan you’re looking at.

  • Include loans secured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development.
  • Are meant to stimulate the housing market and enable folks who may be unable to qualify for conventional loans to still become homeowners.
If you’ve had trouble qualifying for a mortgage because of income limitations or credit:

FHA loans are used by a broad swath of people, including those with lower credit scores and income.

  • You can get an FHA loan with a downpayment of 3.5% if you have a minimum credit score of 580. You can still qualify with a credit score below 580 — even with no credit score — but the down payments and other requirements will be much higher.
  • FHA loans conform to loan limits set by county; these limits typically range from $294,515 to $679,650 in high-cost areas. You can view the FHA mortgage caps for your county at hud.gov.
  • If you get an FHA loan, you must pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) and an annual premium of 0.85%. Currently, the MIP is 1.75% of the loan amount — so, $1,750 for a $100,000 loan. This premium can be paid upfront at the mortgage closing, or it can be rolled into the monthly mortgage payment.
Also, a heads-up — the date an FHA loan was issued affects the MIP.

 

  • If you received an FHA loan on or before June 3, 2013: You’re eligible for canceling MIP after five years, but you must have 22% equity in your home and have made all payments on time.
  • If you received an FHA loan after June 3, 2013: To stop paying MIP, you’d have to refinance into a conventional loan and have a current loan-to-value of at least 80%.
If you’re in the military, a veteran, or a veteran’s spouse:

 

  • VA loans offer active or retired military (or a veteran’s surviving spouse) a mortgage with a 0% down payment.
  • VA loans also can have more lenient credit requirements — typically around a minimum 620 credit score — and lower DTI requirements.
  • The VA only allows lenders to charge 1% maximum to cover the costs of originating and underwriting the loan, so you save money at closing. There is, however, an additional upfront, one-time funding fee of 2.15%.
VA loans also don’t charge borrowers mortgage insurance — potentially helping you save a significant chunk of cash on your monthly payment.

Given the benefits, a VA loan is often the best mortgage option for people who qualify.

If your income is limited and you live in a small or rural town: USDA loans are mortgages for limited-income home buyers in towns with populations of 10,000 or less, or that are “rural in character,” meaning that some areas that now have bigger populations are grandfathered in. You can see whether your town is eligible on the USDA’s website.

  • USDA loans typically have lower interest rates than non-USDA loans.
  • Down payments can be as low as 0%.
  • USDA mortgages also have more lenient credit score requirements than conventional loans.
  • Income limits to qualify depend on location and household size.
  • USDA loans charge an upfront mortgage insurance fee of 1% of the loan amount and annual mortgage insurance premium of 0.35%.
  • And USDA loan borrowers must buy a “modest home” — a property with a market value deemed reasonable for the area, though the USDA does not set specific price limitations.

Only a select number of lenders offer USDA loans.

If your job is to help people:

Niche programs, like the Neighbor Next Door from HUD, allows teachers, law enforcement officers, first responders, and government workers — as much as 50% — on eligible homes in revitalization districts.

Note: Downpayment assistance programs offer qualified buyers such things as grants and interest-free loans. Start with your state’s housing finance agency to find options.

Now You Know the Basics. It’s Time to Call for Backup

Speaking of your lender: Ultimately, you’ll be working with your loan officer or broker to narrow down these choices, and to find a loan that works for you and your finances. (Just another reason why it’s important to choose a lender you’re comfortable with.)

Your real estate agent should be able to offer some insight, too. And because they don’t earn a paycheck from your loan selection, their advice about mortgages should be impartial.

You know your stuff. And you know whom to ask for help. Who’s overwhelmed? Not you.

 

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The Rain Team
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Half Moon Bay CA 94019
Michael: 650-888-6361
Kathy: 650-888-6903
Fax: 866-396-0207

Kathy and Michael Rain of Coldwell Banker provides real estate services in the San Mateo County, California area including the surrounding communities: El Granda, Half Moon Bay, Montara, Moss Beach, Pacifica and San Mateo. Search for homes in San Mateo County. We list and sell residential real estate, investment properties, vacant land, lots for sale in the San Mateo County, California area.

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