A Quick Guide to PMI

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PMI, or private mortgage insurance, is a necessity most times. If your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price of the home, then you’ll need to pay for this additional insurance in order to secure a loan for the home. This policy protects the lender if the borrower cannot pay the loan installments. This way, the lender knows they will not lose money in the event of default. 

Private mortgage insurance is also required if you refinance your home when it has accrued to less than 20% equity.

Here are a few other key points to remember about PMI.

Fees

The fees involved with private mortgage insurance can range based on a few factors, including the actual size of the down payment and your credit score. You can expect the cost of the insurance to be somewhere between 0.3% and 1.5% of the loan amount per year. Homebuyers can pay PMI premiums either monthly or as a large payment up front, though some policies may require the borrower to pay installments versus a lump sum.

You Can Cancel PMI

The lender will automatically cancel your PMI once the loan drops to 78% of the home’s value. For this reason, you’ll want to keep track of your payments to see how close you are to paying off your loan. When you’ve paid your loan down to 80% of the home’s original value, you may ask your lender to discontinue the insurance premium payments.

What Is The Loan-To-Value Ratio?

This ratio is the amount of mortgage debt as a percentage based on how much the home is worth. It’s calculated by the following formula:

Amount owed on the mortgage/Appraised value

If a home is worth $100,000 and the buyer owes $80,000 on the home, the loan-to-value ratio is 80%. This means the borrower can request the lender cancel the insurance.

FHA Loans Have Different Requirements

If you secure an FHA loan, they require the payment of PMI premiums for the entire life of the loan. You can’t cancel these insurance payments, but you can refinance the loan in order to get rid of the insurance. This means that you will no longer have an FHA loan.

Private mortgage insurance can be confusing, but, as a first-time homebuyer with little capital, the fees may be worth it when you’re able to secure your first home.

Pros and Cons of Reverse Mortgages

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If you’re retired, own your own home and have trouble making ends meet, a reverse mortgage may seem like the answer to prayers. You get to stay in your house and you’ll have some extra cash to see you through. Before you run to the nearest lender, however, consider the downside as well as upside to these instruments.

What is a reverse mortgage?

A financial institution lends you money, either a lump sum, a stream of payments or a line of credit, against the equity in your home. Unlike most loans, however, you’re not required to pay it back on a regular basis. You can let the loan ride until you die, move or sell the home, at which your home is sold and the proceeds pay off the loan.

While there are several flavors of reverse mortgage, most are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) under a program called the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM).

Am I eligible for a reverse mortgage?

Everyone on the title must be 62 or older. The home must be your primary residence, and your equity needs to be at least around 50 percent. Also, you have to attend consumer counseling before signing up.

What are the pros of a reverse mortgage?

  • You stay in your home. You keep the title until you sell, move or die.

  • There are no required monthly payments. Any previous home loans are paid before you receive your proceeds.

  • If you choose to make payments, there’s no prepayment penalty.

  • The money you receive is not taxable, nor does it affect your Social Security or Medicare eligibility.

  • The loan is non-recourse. Regardless of your loan balance, you’ll never have to pay back more than the house is worth.

What are the cons of a reverse mortgage?

  • Unless you make payments, the loan amount will continue to increase. It’s unlikely you’ll pass the home on to your heirs.

  • You must continue to pay taxes, insurance and necessary maintenance and repairs. Failure to do so can lead to foreclosure.

  • There are upfront and ongoing mortgage insurance premiums as well as a loan origination fee. These (and interest rates) trend higher than for other mortgage loans.

  • Your favorite bank may not offer reverse mortgages. Most issuers are small banks, credit unions and online lenders. Some lenders have made misleading claims that understate the risk.

  • If you go into a nursing home you will have to sell the home and pay off the loan.

  • While Social Security and Medicare are not an issue, reverse mortgage income can affect your eligibility for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.

Should I apply for a reverse mortgage?

If you plan to stay in your home well into retirement and are having trouble with ongoing expenses, it may be right for you. However, if you aren’t cautious about what you’re getting into, or if you’ll have trouble paying taxes, insurance and upkeep even with the extra money, it isn’t a wise choice.

3 Ways Home Buyers Can Position Themselves for the Best Mortgage Terms

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The perfect home is not the only thing you’ll need to shop for when you want to become a homeowner. In order to get the best terms, the lowest monthly payment and a reasonable interest rate, start doing some homework now — before you even attend your first open house. 

1. Check Your Credit Score

Checking your credit score should be the first thing you do when you’re considering the purchase of a home. Why? Because every lender you speak to will use it as a benchmark for determining the likelihood of you being able to pay off the debt. The better your credit score, the more favorable terms and interest rates a lender might offer you. The earlier you know your credit score, the more time you have to address any issues that might be contained in it. Remember, you’re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three reporting agencies each year. Take advantage of this service and keep tabs on your credit score. 

2. Have Steady Employment 

Being able to demonstrate that you are gainfully employed will go a long way toward qualifying for a mortgage loan and being offered attractive interest rates. Aim for at least two years of unbroken employment. Be ready to back up your claims regarding the duration of your employment and the dollar amounts you bring home. 

3. Offer a Sizable Down Payment 

Come to the negotiating table with a lender and with a solid down payment, you’ll be able to enjoy lower monthly payments. There’s no fast rule regarding the amount of a down payment. That being said, most lenders like you to have at least 20 percent of the home’s purchase price as the down payment. There are some lenders, however, who accept less than 20 percent. If your lender accepts down payments that are less than the standard 20 percent, expect to have to purchase private mortgage insurance. This can be anywhere from .05 percent to 1 percent. 

4. Know Your Debt To Income Ratio

The debt to income ratio demonstrates your ability to pay off the mortgage as agreed upon. Most lenders like to see that your monthly debt payments are equal to or less than 43 percent of your gross monthly income. 

In a seller’s market, there might be several people vying for the same home. Addressing the items above can make you look more attractive compared to some of the other potential home buyers. 

Everything You Need to Know About Mortgage Types

If buying a home is something you’re considering, you might be curious about the different types of mortgages that are available to you. After all, the interest rate on your loan could have a huge impact on your finances over time, saving you thousands of dollars.

In today’s post, I’m going to demystify the home loan by explaining the most common types of mortgages. That way, you’ll be able to approach a lender with a bit of context and knowledge to help make the best mortgage decision for you and your family.

Fixed-rate mortgages

The most common types of home loans in the United States today are fixed-rate mortgages. A fixed-rate mortgage has the benefit of stability in terms of its interest rate–year after year, or the lifetime of your loan, you know exactly what percent of interest you’re going to pay.

Fixed-rate mortgages most frequently come with repayment terms of 15 or 30 years. However, some lenders offer different repayment periods.

As with any debt, paying off a mortgage in a shorter term typically amounts to paying less interest over the lifespan of the loan. For this reason, buyers who can afford higher monthly mortgage payments often opt for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

If you can’t afford higher monthly payments, a 30-year loan will typically have lower mortgage payments, but at the expense of paying more interest over the life of the loan.

The 30-year option is the most often in the United States, where first-time buyers typically have too many other monthly bills to afford a high mortgage payment.

Adjustable-rate mortgages

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) were once an ideal option for first-time buyers who could purchase a home at a very low interest rate and then refinancing once that rate was set to rise. However, after the housing crisis of 2007, trust in the housing market drastically declined.

In recent years, ARMs have begun to make a comeback. However, they currently still only account for around 5% of home loans.

Adjustable-rate mortgages come with one important advantage and one huge disadvantage over fixed-rate mortgages. The upside is the ability to borrow money for a home at a lower interest rate than other mortgage types. The down side? Your interest rate isn’t locked in for the length of the loan, meaning your rate could, in theory, rise dramatically before you sell or pay off the home. This is exactly what happened to borrowers during the subprime mortgage crisis.

Guaranteed loans

There are a number of special loan programs that have been sponsored by the government over the years. Among them are USDA rural development loans, VA loans for veterans and their spouses, and FHA loans offered by the Federal Housing Authority.

All of these loans make it easier to buy a home with little or no down payment or a credit score that’s less than perfect. That makes these options great for first-time homeowners.