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, there’s 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. It’s about stepping into new experiences. Allow those experiences to be rewarding, certainly financially stress free. But, that won’t happen like magic. It takes thought, action and understanding. You can do it.

You must know everything that you’ll 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 (It’s easy to think that the base mortgage is all you’ll have to repay when you buy a house. But, although it’s 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 you’re 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.)
  • Homeowner’s 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. You’re probably going to be spending a lot of time in your new home. But, don’t 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 aren’t 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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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 2/20/2017

Being self-employed comes with a lot of perks. Self-employed workers often have the freedom to set their own schedule, work from home, and take breaks whenever they feel like it. They also have the ability to write things off as business expenses on their taxes. When it comes to buying a home, this last perk can become a huge problem. If you own your own business or work as a freelancer, odds are you'll be deducting things from your taxes that the average employee doesn't: travel expenses, advertising, licensing, equipment, repairs, or even rent for your office. When tax season rolls around, all of these deductions feel like a godsend. But if you plan on buying a home, all of these costs will appear as negative income. For people who spend a lot of money on their business or freelancing, it could do a lot of damage to your apparent income when lenders take a look at your finances. However, you do have options when it comes to getting approved for a mortgage that is to your liking. In this article, we'll cover some tips on how to apply for a mortgage when you're self employed to give yourself the best chance of approval.

Carefully document your income

When you sit down with a lender and hand them your proof if income, you want to make it as obvious as possible that you're earning money in a reliable and predictable way. Lenders will want to see multiple documents that can help paint a better picture of your income and finances, including:
  • Bank statements
  • Schedule C tax forms
  • Profit and loss tax forms
  • Completed tax returns
  • Credit score (they will run a credit check)

Separate your business and personal finances

If you own your own business, you likely have business banking accounts you use for expenses and invoices. But freelancers and contract workers often simplify things by just using their personal checking and savings accounts for income. To make things clear for lenders, you should put your income and business expenses into a separate business account. Not only will this make it easier for lenders to quantify your income, but they can also use this information to see that your expenses are for helping your business rather than personal spending.

Timing is everything

There are a number of factors that go into choosing the right time to apply for a mortgage. Being self-employed only complicates the matter since your income might not be as steady as your average wage worker. You'll want to commit to a mortgage at a time when you've had at least two consecutive years of good, reliable income. You'll need to prove this with the aforementioned documents (bank statements, tax forms, etc.). Part of this planning could be to avoid large business expenses in the two years leading up to your mortgage application. This isn't always possible, of course, but it could be enough to boost your apparent income to get you approved for a better loan.

Seek specialized lenders

Some lenders are aware that there is a large portion of the country made up of self-employed workers and small business owners. They go out of their way to work with people who are self-employed so they can give them fair deals on their mortgages. To find specialized lenders, you'll have to do some research online, but it could make all the difference when it comes to getting approved for the loan you're looking for.




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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 6/20/2016

With mortgage rates at all time lows, you might be wondering if you should be considering refinancing your home. While it may seem like a great thing to do, there are a few things to consider before you decide. An obvious reason for refinancing to a lower interest rate is the monthly, and even more importantly the long term, savings you will get. Depending on the decrease in interest rate and the amount of the loan, you could see a savings of at least $50/month or $600/year or $6000/10 years. Refinancing to a shorter term loan can also help save on the interest you pay over the life of the loan so if you can afford a 15 year mortgage the benefits outweigh that of a 30 year. Some things to consider - If you have owned your home for a long time, your monthly payments are going more towards the principal of the loan, not the interest. Refinancing would cause you revert back to monthly payments of more interest than principal, losing the equity that you have built in your home. You may be charged for an appraisal on your home which can be around $500. The bank will want to make sure that you are refinancing for an amount your home is worth so some out of pocket expense is required. If you plan on moving in the next few years, refinancing may not be worth the amount you will pay in closing costs. There are several refinancing calculators available on the web including at http://www.zillow.com/mortgage-calculator/refinance-calculator/ and http://www.smartmoney.com/calculator/real-estate/should-i-refinance-my-mortgage-1302835660427/. No matter what you choose, being fully informed of all the options, costs and advantages/disadvantages is key to a successful refinance. Make sure you talk with you current lender, as well as other lenders to get the best refinance possible.




Tags: Mortgage   loans   refinancing  
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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 8/17/2015

Mortgage rates are at historic lows and there is no better time to buy a home. Do you qualify for those low advertised rates? Will you be able to secure a mortgage? Studies show that 6 in 10 people do qualify for mortgage loans. For those that can't qualify here are ten reasons why a would-be borrower might face rejection: 1. A low credit score will keep you from getting a mortgage. Typically, a score less than 620 is unacceptable by most lender standards. 2. A maxed out credit card threshold will stop a mortgage in its tracks. If your balance more than 30 percent of the allowable credit lenders will take pause. 3. Multiple credit inquiries may drop your credit score. Limit your credit inquiries to mortgage-only credit pulls within a 30-day period. 4. Did you Co-sign a loan with someone? If so, plan to provide 12 months of canceled checks showing they make the payments to the creditor. 5. Other housing liability payments or a consumer loan for a vehicle may prevent your loan approval. Lenders are looking for you to have double the income to offset each dollar of debt you carry. 6. If you are self-employed you may not be showing income under a Schedule C. This reduces your borrowing power. 7. Claiming many unreimbursed business expenses and losses on your taxes may help you pay less taxes but it also can reduce your borrowing power. 8. If you change jobs often this could also hurt your chances at a mortgage. If you occupational status has changed in the past two years it can hurt you. 9. If you are planning on using cash for your purchase think again. All monies must come from some kind of a bank account. 10. Don't plan on transferring money from different accounts during the loan process. Be prepared to show full bank statements and a chain of deposits etc. Your mortgage professional should be able to look at your credit, debt, income and assets and make a determination of whether you qualify for a mortgage.