Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 9/24/2018

Paying off a mortgage early is a dream of many homeowners. By making larger payments on your home loan, you can cut years off of your loan term and save thousands of dollars in interest payments that you can use toward savings or investments. But in an economy that has seen decades of wage stagnation and increasing costs of living, it can often seem like an unattainable goal.

With some planning and initiative, however, there are ways to pay off your home loan before your term limit.

In todayís post, weíre going to talk about three of the ways you can start paying off your mortgage early to avoid high interest payments and save yourself money along the way.

1. Refinance your mortgage


If youíre considering making larger payments on your mortgage, it might make sense to look at refinancing options. Most Americans take out 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.

If you can afford to significantly increase your mortgage payments each month, you could refinance to a 15-year mortgage. This will save you on the number of interest payments youíll have to make over the years. But, it will also help you secure a lower interest rate since shorter term mortgages typically come with lower interest rates.

This option isnít for everyone. First, refinancing comes with fees youíll have to pay for upfront. Youíll have to apply for refinancing, get an appraisal of your home, and wait for the decision to be made.

But, youíll also have to ensure that you can keep up with your higher monthly payments. If your income is variable or undependable, it might not be the safest option to refinance to a shorter term mortgage.

2. Make extra payments

An option that entails less risk than refinancing is to simply increase your monthly payments. If you recently got a raise or are just reallocating funds to try and tackle your mortgage, this is an excellent option.

Depending on your mortgage lender, you may be able to simple increase your auto-pay amounts each month, streamlining the process. Otherwise, itís possible to set up bill-pay with most banks to automatically transfer funds to your lender.

3. Bi-weekly payments or one extra payment per year

Making bi-weekly instead of monthly payments is an option that many homeowners use to pay off their mortgages early. Bi-weekly payments work by paying half of your monthly payment once every two weeks.

The vast majority of homeowners make 12 monthly payments per year. But by switching to 26 bi-weekly payments, you can effectively make 13 full monthly payments in a year without seeing too much of a difference in your daily budget.

This doesnít seem like much savings in the short term, but letís take a look at how much you could save over the term of a 30-year mortgage.

On a 30-year fixed mortgage of $200,000 with a 4.03 annual interest rate, you would make a monthly payment of $958.00 and a bi-weekly payment of $479.

Over 30 years of an extra monthly payment, you could save nearly $20,000 on the total interest amount and pay off your mortgage almost 5 years early.




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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 9/3/2018

If you are thinking of buying a home in the near future, thereís one three-digit number that could be oh so important to you. That number is your credit score. Read on to find out how a credit score can affect you and the steps you can take to be sure that your credit is in good standing when you head to apply for a mortgage. 


What Is A Credit Score?


Your credit score is checked by lenders of all kinds. Every time you apply for a loan or a credit card, thereís a good chance that your credit score is being pulled to see if you qualify for the loan. Your credit score is calculated based on the information on your credit report. This information includes:


Payment history

Debt-to-credit ratio

Length of credit history

New credit accounts opened


The areas with the most impact on your score is your payment history and your debt-to-credit ratio. This means that on-time payments are super important. You also donít want to get anywhere close to maxing out your credit cards or loan amounts to keep your score up. 


Whatís A Good Score?


If youíre aiming for the perfect credit score, itís 850. Most consumers wonít reach that state of perfection. Thatís, OK because you donít have to be perfect to buy a house. If your score is 740 and above, know that youíre in great shape to get a mortgage. Even if your score is below 740 but around 700 or above, youíll be able to get a good interest rate on your mortgage. Most lenders typically look for a score of 620 and above. Keep in mind that the higher your credit score the better your interest rate will be.    



What If You Lack Credit History?


Most people should get a credit card around age 20 in order to begin building credit. You can still qualify for a mortgage without a credit history, but it will be considerably harder. Lenders may look at things like your rent payments or car payments. Lenders want to know that youíre a responsible person to lend to. 


What If Your Score Needs Help?


It doesnít mean youíre a hopeless case if you lack good credit. Everything from errors on your credit report to missed payments can be fixed. The most important thing that you can do if youíre buying a home in the near future is to be mindful of your credit. Keep an eye on your credit report and continue to make timely payments. With a bit of focus, youíll be well on your way to securing a mortgage for the home of your dreams.        






Tags: Mortgage   credit score  
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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 10/2/2017

Finding a mortgage lender should be easy, particularly for homebuyers who want to purchase a high-quality residence without having to worry about spending too much. However, many mortgage lenders are available nationwide, and the sheer volume of lenders can make it difficult to choose the right one.

Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of selecting the ideal lender.

Now, let's take a look at three tips that homebuyers can use to accelerate the process of choosing the perfect lender.

1. Know Your Credit Score

Your mortgage interest rate may vary based on your credit score. As such, you should learn your credit score before you begin your search for the right lender. This will enable you to boost your credit score if necessary Ė something that may help you get a preferred mortgage interest rate.

You are eligible for one free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Request a copy of your credit report, and you can find out your credit score and map out your search for the ideal mortgage lender accordingly.

2. Meet with Several Mortgage Lenders

There is no shortage of mortgage lenders in cities and towns around the country. Therefore, you should allocate the necessary time and resources to meet with several credit unions and banks to explore all of your mortgage options.

Each lender can provide details about fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, how these mortgages work and other pertinent mortgage information. This information can help you make an informed decision about a mortgage.

In addition, don't hesitate to ask questions when you meet with a mortgage lender. If you obtain plenty of information from a mortgage lender, you'll be able to understand the pros and cons of various mortgage options and make the best choice possible.

3. Review a Mortgage Closely

A mortgage may enable you to secure your dream residence, but it is important to understand all of the terms and conditions associated with a mortgage before you select a lender.

For example, if you decide to purchase a condo, your mortgage might only cover the costs of your property. Meanwhile, you still may be responsible for condo homeowners' association fees that total hundreds of dollars each month, so you'll need to budget properly.

Of course, you should feel comfortable working with a mortgage lender as well. The ideal mortgage lender should be available to answer your concerns and questions at any time and help you stay on track with your monthly mortgage payments.

If you need extra assistance as you consider the mortgage lenders in your area, you can reach out to a real estate agent for additional support. This housing market professional can provide insights into mortgage interest rates and may even be able to connect you with the top local lenders.

Take the guesswork out of finding the right mortgage lender Ė use these tips, and you can move one step closer to getting the financing you need to buy your dream residence.




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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 7/3/2017

Buy a house and you probably just made the largest purchase of your life, a decision that will impact you daily. Buy the right house and you can finally start to feel rooted, as if you found the place where you feel balanced and centered. You can make this house your own, hanging original art pieces and pictures on the walls and filling the space with furniture and knick knacks that showcase your remarkable personality, your amazing style.

Stop guessing how much house you can afford

If you let yourself develop your creative muscle, thereís a strong likelihood that you created those original art pieces yourself. Clearly, buying a house is about more than the base price of the house. Itís about stepping into new experiences. Allow those experiences to be rewarding, certainly financially stress free. But, that wonít happen like magic. It takes thought, action and understanding. You can do it.

You must know everything that youíll be responsible to pay for before you buy a house. It could keep you out of foreclosure should you or your spouse get laid off. It could keep you from taking on debt that will put your finances in a gripping headlock. Specific fees that you may incur when you buy a house vary, depending on the lender. However, general fees and costs you can expect to be responsible for include:

  • Base price of the house (Itís easy to think that the base mortgage is all youíll have to repay when you buy a house. But, although itís the largest chunk of what goes into a mortgage, the base price or principal of a house is only one piece of the costs.)
  • Interest or adjustable rate mortgage (Adjustable interest rates may start lower, but they can shift upwards and put your mortgage out of reach. Research lenders. Make sure youíre not working with a predatory lender.)
  • Property taxes
  • Down payment (The bigger the down payment you can put on your new house, the better. It can lower your monthly mortgage payments significantly.)
  • Closing costs (Try to negotiate a deal that splits closing costs with sellers. You might even get a deal where house sellers pay all of the closing costs.)
  • Homeownerís association fees
  • Mortgage insurance
  • Homeowners insurance (This is separate from the mortgage insurance. Homeowners insurance covers the costs of damages the house may incur during natural and human-made disasters. This insurance is similar to car insurance.)
  • House inspection fees

Eliminating mortgage fee surprises helps you enjoy your home

There is more than one way to become a homeowner. Options include rent-to-own, a newly built house and buying an old house that you restore. Housing communities also vary, giving you the chance to move into communal housing neighborhoods, single family homes, tiny houses, mobile homes and elegant Victorian houses. You could also make the land more a priority than your living space, especially if you aim to start a farm or another outdoor business.

Go with the housing option that best matches your personal needs. Youíre probably going to be spending a lot of time in your new home. But, donít just fall in love with your house. Set yourself up for financial success. Be aware of all costs that go into your mortgage before you buy a house. Also, understand additional costs that you are responsible for paying a lender that arenít built into your monthly mortgage payments. Shop for and buy a house with your eyes wide open.




Tags: Mortgage  
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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 4/10/2017

Credit is tied to most big financial decisions you will make in your life. From things as little as opening up a store card at the mall to buying your first home, your credit score is going to play a factor. When it comes to mortgages, lenders take your credit score, particularly your FICO score, into consideration in†determining the interest rate that you will likely be stuck with for years. How is your credit score determined and what can you do to use it to get a better rate on your mortgage? We'll cover all of that and more in this article.

Deciphering credit scores

Most major lenders assign your credit score based on the information provided by three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These companies report your credit history to FICO, who give you a score from 300 to 850 (850 being the best your score can get). When applying for a mortgage (or attempting to be pre-approved for a home loan), the lender you choose will weight several aspects to determine if they will lend money to you and under what terms they will lend you the money. Among these are your employment status, current salary, your savings and assets, and your credit score. Lenders use this data to attempt to determine how likely you are to pay off your debt. To be considered a "safe" person to lend money to it will require a combination of things, including good credit. What is good credit? Credit scores are based on five components:
  • 35%: your payment history
  • 30%: your debt amount
  • 15%: length of your credit history
  • 10%: types of credit you have used
  • 10%: recent credit inquiries (such as taking out new loans or opening new credit cards)
As you can see, paying your bills and loans on time each month is the key factor in determining your credit score. Also important, however, is keeping your total amount of debt low. Most aspects of your credit score are in your control. Only 10% of your score is determined by the length of your credit history (i.e., when you opened your first card or took out your first loan). To build your credit score, you'll need to focus on lowering your balances, making on-time payments, and giving yourself time to diversify your credit.

What does this mean for taking out mortgages?

A higher credit score will get you a lower interest rate. By the time you pay off your mortgage, just a hundred points on your credit score could save you thousands on your mortgage, and that's not including the money you might save by getting lower interest rates on other loans as well. If you would like to buy a home within the next few years, take this time to focus on building your credit score:
  • If you have high balances, do your best to lower them
  • If you have a tendency to miss payments, set recurring reminders in your phone to make sure you pay on time
  • If you don't have diverse credit, it could be a good time to take out a loan or open your first credit card
When it comes time to apply for a mortgage, you'll thank yourself for focusing more on your credit score.




Tags: Mortgage   credit score   loan   credit   home loan  
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