Be aware of this when applying for a mortgage

With all the extra housing inventory available, it’s a great time for someone looking to invest in real estate to buy a home.  We all know, though, that it’s becoming tougher to obtain a mortgage these days.  Mortgage brokers and banks want solid credit scores and higher down payments.  So if you are making an application for a mortgage, here’s a list of what you want to be aware of during this typical 45-day period to make sure the mortgage goes through.

1. Now is not the time to make any big purchases.  That includes high-ticket items such as cars, appliances, TVs, and furniture for your new home.  A lot of people don’t realize that when you make your purchase, you’re creating more debt for yourself (if you’re charging the item rather than paying cash) and becoming a bigger liability for the bank.  So it’s been known that the mortgage can be pulled in this instance.  Wait until after you sign the closing papers to make the next purchase.

2. It’s not a good time to switch jobs.  When applying for a loan, the lender looks to make sure you have job stability and knows what type of salary and/or bonuses and commissions you receive.  If you switch jobs in the midst of the application, they’re going to have a hard time verifying salary information, which could affect your loan.  Again, wait until after you sign the closing papers to make any career moves.

3. There could be multiple credit checks.  The lender obviously checks your credit at the loan application before they decide if they can pre-approve you.  However, now lenders are often going back to check credit scores again right before closing.  So know that you want to continue making all your payments.  Avoid applying for a new credit card or making a big purchase.  Any upset to your score could affect your mortgage.

4. Have money ready for closing costs.  Don’t take every last penny you have to use toward a down payment.  Closing costs could cost you an additional 3% out of pocket.  You’ll want to check in with your lender within a few days of closing to get a rough estimate of the amount you’ll need to bring to closing.  It’ll most likely have to be in the form of a cashier’s check made out to yourself.  Your lender can give you the exact information.

These tips will help keep the mortgage application going without any hiccups.  Of course, if you have questions or problems along the way, be sure to contact your lender.  They will be able to guide you through the process and give you other tips to make sure there are no problems prior to closing.

I can be reached via my Web site.

Fannie Mae raises fees

In an interesting move, Fannie Mae announced they are raising their fees this spring.  What’s even more interesting is that it will affect buyers who have higher credit scores.  This will make mortgages more expensive for a lot of people.

These fees are called “add-on” fees.  They’re basing the cost on your credit score and the amount you’re going to put down for a down payment.  And the cost could be anywhere from a quarter of a percentage of the loan amount to 2.75%.

An example of how this works from this Washington Post article: If you want to buy a $300,000 home and have a great credit score of over 800 with just under 25% down, you’ll be charged .25% or $750.  Previously your cost would have been $0.  Now if you have a credit score of 679 and a down payment of less than 20%, you’ll be charged 2.75% or $8,250.  And it matters what you purchase.  A condo will cost you more than a single-family residence.  You can choose to pay these fees up front or tack them on to your mortgage.  Do know that by adding it to the cost of your mortgage that you’ll be paying interest on it for the length of your loan.  So if you can find a way to pay it up front, you’ll save more money in the long run.

Fannie Mae never specifically stated the exact reason for the rate hikes.  But it’s been speculated that it softens their risks on the loan (hence the lower fees for those with better credit scores and higher down payments) as well as the money they’ve lost because of the current housing market and unpaid mortgages.

So will this prevent some people from purchasing a home?  I doubt it will have any adverse reaction on the already declining mortgage market because you’re stuck paying it no matter what.  And it’s not significant enough to make a difference, especially when buyers can purchase homes for a lot less than they could have years ago.

What’s your take on the fee increase?  Do you think it will affect the housing market?  I’d love to hear your opinions.  Please leave a comment or visit me online.

Tax credit extended and expanded

Just last week I blogged about how the first time buyer tax credit was set to expire on November 30, 2009.  Well, a lot has happened in the past week.  Earlier in the week the House of Representatives passed an extension.  And Barack Obama signed it into law early on Friday. 

The extension now runs through June.  In order to take advantage of the tax credit up to $8,000, you will need to sign a contract by April 30, 2010 and close by June 30, 2010.  Just be careful.  If you are signing a contract to purchase a home that is going through a short sale, please beware.  A lot of banks can take longer than 60 days to approve a short sale or that closing.  So you’ll need to get everything signed prior to April 30.  April 30 is the last day you can have a contract signed and June 30 is the last possible day to close to take advantage.

8000-tax-creditAgain, how the credit works is this.  If you purchase a home for $80,000 or more, you are eligible for an $8,000 tax credit on your 2009 taxes.  Remember, you file 2009 taxes in 2010.  If it’s a home for less than $80,000, you can get a credit for up to 10% of the purchase price.  If the home is $59,000, you will receive $5,900.

Obama also extended the income limits of who is eligible.  Single buyers can now earn up to $125,000 per year in income and married couples up to $225,000 to be able to receive it.  If your income level is above those amounts, you are not eligible to receive the credit.

Obama also extended the credit to move-up buyers, not just first time buyers.  In order to qualify for this $6,500 credit, you must have owned and occupied a principal residence for at least 5 of the last 8 years.  So many more people will qualify under the new rules.  Congress and the President are hoping the economy will get stimulated a bit by this expansion.

Originally, Congress was hoping that this tax credit would start a domino-like reaction.  First time buyers would purchase homes from sellers who would then choose to purchase homes and so on.  Unfortunately, a lot of buyers turned to vacant/foreclosed/short sales, so these homes didn’t have sellers who needed to move up.  But they’re hoping that offering a tax credit to move-up buyers will start this domino effect again.

More information on the expansion can be found in this article. I also have lots of great info on my Web site.

Hurry to take advantage of tax credit

I had to write this week about the first time homebuyer tax credit.  If you haven’t heard of this by now, please continue reading.  The government is actually giving buyers who purchase a home up to an $8,000 tax credit.  They are giving you money to stimulate the economy.  It does not get any better than this.  There is some fine print, of course, so keep reading.

First of all, this credit is for all homes which close prior to December 1, 2009.  That gives you less than a month from now to take advantage.  There are talks in place to extend it, but nothing has been approved yet, so we’re going to continue on as if December 1st is the last date.  You can’t write a contract on a home on November 30th.  You have to close on a home prior to then!

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Who qualifies?  The government is defining a first time homebuyer as anyone who hasn’t owned a principal residence in the past three years.  So let’s say you owned a home five years ago but sold it to move out of state.  You’ve been renting for a few years and now want to purchase a home.  You qualify!  If you are married, both you and your spouse can’t have owned property in the past three years.

What qualifies?  Any home qualifies that’s used as a principal residence.  So no second homes or vacation homes.  But any type of home will work- single-family home, townhome, condo, mobile home, house boat, you name it.

Remember that I said you can get a tax credit of up to $8,000.  So, basically, if you purchase a home for $80,000 or more, you get all $8,000.  If it’s less than that, you can get 10% of the purchase price.  So if the home you buy is $54,000, you would receive a tax credit for $5,400. 

This credit can be claimed on your 2009 taxes (payable April 15, 2010).  Since you’ve most likely already filed your 2008 taxes, it won’t work for those.  Talk to your accountant if you’ve received an extension through this point.

So what’s next?  Pick up the phone and call me immediately at 800-858-7917.  If you’re out of the Illinois area, I can refer you to an agent in your area, too.  We need to get shopping ASAP!  For more information, you can also visit my Web site.   I’ve set up a page exclusively to this tax credit with an FAQ section and other links.  Make sure to check it out.  Just click on the graphic on my home page that you see on this blog.  I hope to hear from you soon.