Opening the Door to Homeownership

Starting the journey to buy your first home is an exciting venture, filled with hopes and dreams. For many first-time buyers, the financial aspect of purchasing a home, particularly the initial down payment and closing costs, can be a significant hurdle. This is where first-time home buyer grants come into the picture, providing essential support. These grants, often funded by government agencies or non-profit organizations, are designed to make the dream of homeownership more achievable for those new to the property market.

A Deep Dive into National Grant Programs

Several national programs offer substantial assistance to first-time home buyers. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides valuable resources, including grants for down payment assistance and closing costs. The HUD’s Good Neighbor Next Door program is particularly notable, offering a 50% discount on the list price of homes in revitalization areas to public servants like teachers, firefighters, and law enforcement officers. Another significant program is the HomePath Ready Buyer program from Fannie Mae, which provides up to 3% in closing cost assistance to first-time home buyers who complete an educational course. Additionally, the USDA offers programs for those looking to buy in rural areas, providing loans with no down payment requirements.

Eligibility and Application Insights

Eligibility for these grants usually hinges on factors like income level, credit score, and first-time homebuyer status, often defined as someone who hasn’t owned a home in the previous three years. Some programs focus on particular groups, such as veterans or low-to-moderate income families. It’s essential for applicants to thoroughly understand the requirements of each grant they consider. Education is also a key component, with many programs requiring participants to complete homebuyer education courses to qualify, thereby ensuring they are well-informed about the responsibilities of homeownership.

Your Gateway to a New Home

If you are dreaming of owning your first home, these grants can significantly reduce the financial challenges. They provide more than just monetary assistance; they also bring confidence to first-time buyers, supporting them through their journey into homeownership. Prospective buyers should consult with local housing authorities, real estate professionals, or financial advisors to identify the best grant opportunities. The path to homeownership, facilitated by these grants, becomes less intimidating and more achievable, turning aspirations of owning a home into a tangible reality.

If you are looking to prequalify or learn how much you can qualify for and what specific programs and grants you can apply for schedule a call on our website and we can help you review your options.

Market Watch – Rates Lower

In the ever-changing landscape of real estate finance, understanding the latest mortgage rate trends is crucial for both prospective and current homeowners.
The rates for 30-year fixed, 15-year fixed, 5/1 Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs), and jumbo loans have all moved lower, marking a change from previous weeks. After climbing above 8 percent, mortgage rates have now dipped back into the 7 percent range. This shift is partly attributed to cooling inflation, hinting at potential changes in the Federal Reserve’s approach.
The Federal Reserve’s Stance
The Federal Reserve’s decision to raise its key interest rate in July significantly impacted borrowing costs across various financial products, including mortgages. Despite the recent cooling of inflation, the central bank maintained its stance on another rate hike this month, signaling that higher rates may be the new normal for some time.
The Impact on Homebuying
This fluctuation in mortgage rates coincides with rising home prices, a combination that has significantly affected homebuying activity. Data from Black Knight indicates that over half of the home purchase mortgages originated in July had a monthly payment exceeding $2,000, with 23 percent surpassing $3,000. This affordability squeeze is particularly challenging for first-time homebuyers, many of whom are finding themselves priced out of the market.
As we navigate these turbulent times in the mortgage market, staying informed and seeking expert advice is more important than ever. Please schedule an appointment on our website and we can give you a personalized quote.

Mortgage Options: A Guide for Veterans

Today, we’re dedicating our post to the brave men and women who have served our country. As a veteran, you have access to unique mortgage options tailored to your service and sacrifice. This guide aims to navigate the various loan choices available to you, helping you find the path to homeownership that best suits your needs.

VA Loans – A Prime Option for Veterans

VA loans stand out as one of the most beneficial mortgage options for veterans. Administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, these loans offer several advantages:

No down payment: Most veterans can purchase a home with no down payment.
No private mortgage insurance (PMI): This can significantly lower your monthly payments.
Competitive interest rates: VA loans typically have lower rates compared to conventional loans.
Flexible credit requirements: These loans are often more accessible to those with less-than-perfect credit scores.
To be eligible, you need to have served a minimum period in the military, National Guard, or Reserves, with specifics depending on when and how long you served. To get started, obtain a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the VA, then approach a VA-approved lender for the application process.

Other Mortgage Options for Veterans

While VA loans are a fantastic option, they’re not the only path to homeownership:

Conventional Loans: If you have a strong credit score and can afford a down payment, a conventional loan might offer more flexibility in terms of property types and loan structures.
FHA Loans: Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, these loans are great for veterans with lower credit scores or limited savings for a down payment.
USDA Loans: Ideal for veterans looking to settle in rural areas, offering low-interest rates and no down payment options.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Loan

Selecting the right mortgage isn’t just about eligibility; it’s about what fits your financial situation and future plans. Here are key factors to consider:

Financial Health: Assess your credit score, income, savings, and debt-to-income ratio.
Future Plans: Are you looking for a forever home, or is this a stepping stone? Your duration of stay can influence the type of loan you choose.
Professional Advice: Consult with a financial advisor or mortgage professional to understand the nuances of each option.
Additional Resources and Assistance for Veterans

Beyond these loan options, numerous programs offer counseling and assistance to veteran homebuyers. Look into state-specific benefits and educational resources provided by the VA to make an informed decision.

Ready to take the next step towards homeownership? Complete our 60 second prequal on our website orschedule an appointment to speak with one of our mortgage experts today.

Should You Buy A Fixer-Upper?

The housing market is making affordability a big issue for many would be buyers. This can make buying a fixer-upper a lot more tempting. We’ve all seen the home make-over shows with amazing before and afters, but should you do it? Here are a few things to consider: 1. Know Your Limits How much of the work can you do. How much time do you have to put into renovations. Are you prepared to live in a work zone for a while 2. Work Out Costs In Advance Have a contractor walk through the inspection with you and get a written estimate for work he would do. If you are doing the work yourself price the costs of supplies, either way add 15% to the costs because surprises are likely. 3. Check Permitting Costs and Procedures C heck with local officials to see if the work requires a permit and the permit costs. 4. Be Extra Careful with Structural Issues If the house requires structural repairs then double check the work and pricing. Hire a structural engineer to do an inspection and if structural work needs to be done make sure your bid discounts this work 5. Include Inspection Contingencies Make sure you hire professional inspectors and check for hidden issues like mold, piping issues, pest damage etc. And if things come up ask for discounts. And if too many red flags come up or the seller won’t properly discount the costs for repair then you may want walk away and keep looking!

FHA Vs Conventional Mortgage Loans

Today we are going to discuss two common mortgage loan products, and the pros and cons of both FHA and Conventional Loans.
Many people are familiar with the 20% down, good credit 30 year fixed conventional loan scenario.
FHA loans on the other hand are designed for people who might have difficulty qualifying for a conventional loan to still get funding to buy a house. FHA Loans offer down payments as low as 3.5% and are more lenient on credit scores and past financial issues. Borrowers can qualify for FHA loans with as low as 580 credit scores. One of the downsides of FHA loans are mortgage insurance requirements, if you put down less than 10% you will be required to pay monthly insurance for the duration of the loan, as well paying Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium. The best choice for you? Give us a call or apply online and we will analysis what programs suits your needs 😊

Is An ADU For You?

Throughout the country (and in some areas more than others) low inventory in the housing market and high rent prices have many home owners adding or considering adding ADUs (which stands for Accessory Dwelling Units). ADUs often called granny flats, are guest houses or rooms added to garages to create rental income for home owners. Home owners typically add ADUs to increase cash flow, as well as looking for their property value to appreciate.
Whether ADUs are right for you, depends on a number of factors. ADUs often costs at least $100,000 to build so being in a high rent market helps to offset the initial investment. You’ll also need to make sure local ordinances allow them and what the regulations are. The old real estate adage about location stays true for ADUs as well. If you are in an area where rents are high or a popular vacation destination, then ADUs can make sense. Again you’ll need to check the local zoning and if you build one you will also need to have updated insurance to cover the ADU. Check with us to learn more and to see what financing terms you qualify for.

Getting A Mortgage with Student Loan Debt

A lot of young Americans went to college, studied hard but in addition to getting a diploma, they also graduated with debt. Having loans is not a deal breaker but it will factor into the important debt-to-income (or DTI) ratio, and mortgage underwriters are primarily looking at the numbers so having it be student loan debt isn’t different from a car loan in the math. Strategies to get approved with student loan debt Pay it down – this maybe easier said than done but if you have extra money or got a raise then try to pay down the debt Consolidate it – if you can consolidate your debt and lower your monthly payment (even not the overall loan amount) this will help your monthly DTI ratio Co-sign – this can be a delicate process but its one to consider if you have a trustworthy, reliable family member or friend Programs and Assistance Sometimes a conventional mortgage might not be possible but there are options! FHA, VA, and USDA loans offer a lot more flexibility and lower down payments than traditional mortgages Grants and Programs – there are a number of grants and programs out there from the federal to local level that you may qualify for If you’re interested in qualifying for a loan but worried about your student debt give us a call or apply online and we can see what best fits your needs!

How To Increase Your Pre-Approval Amount

The home-buying journey usually starts with a preapproval. This preapproval not only reflects your seriousness about purchasing a house but also provides clarity about how much you can afford. However, as the home hunt progresses, you might need to increase the preapproved amount.

What is Mortgage Preapproval?
Mortgage preapproval is essentially a promise from the lender that you are likely to qualify for a mortgage, based on your financial situation. This involves a basic application where you submit details about your assets, income, and debts. This is not a guarantee, but a significant step indicating your creditworthiness.

Determining the Preapproval Amount
The preapproval amount is primarily influenced by factors like your credit score, income, debt load, and assets. An appraisal of the property ensures its value justifies the mortgage amount.

Enhancing the Preapproval Amount
If you need to increase the preapproved sum, the following strategies can be employed:

Boost Your Credit Score: A higher score can qualify you for a larger loan by lowering the interest rate. Timely payments and cautious use of available credit can enhance your score.
Present More Income: Besides your primary income, reliable secondary sources like dividends, rental income, or even alimony can be used to reflect a higher earning.
Pay Off Other Debt: A lower debt-to-income ratio can amplify the loan you qualify for. Reducing credit card balances or paying off loans can significantly help.
Increase Down Payment: Putting down at least 20 percent can save you from PMI costs, thus allowing a bigger loan.
Explore Varied Loan Types: While fixed-rate loans offer predictability, adjustable-rate mortgages might provide lower initial rates. If you’re planning to sell or refinance before the rate adjusts, ARMs might be beneficial.
Add a Co-borrower: A co-borrower can enhance the combined income on the application, potentially leading to a higher loan amount.
Accumulate Cash Reserves: Demonstrating financial responsibility by showcasing additional assets can boost lender’s confidence in you.
Ultimately, securing a high preapproval amount requires a combination of strong credit, a stable income, and low debt.

Getting Started
If you aren’t sure how much you can get pre-approved go to our website and fill out our 30 second pre-approval engine.

Mortgage Down Payment Assistance

The dream of owning a home is a cherished one for many individuals and families across the United States. However, the soaring median existing-home price of around $400,000 can often make it seem like an unattainable goal, especially when faced with the prospect of a substantial down payment. Traditional mortgage loans typically require a 20 percent down payment, equating to a significant sum, but there is good news – down payment assistance (DPA) programs exist to help prospective homeowners bridge the financial gap. In this blog post, we will explore what DPA programs are, how they work, and the steps to access this valuable assistance.

What is a Down Payment Assistance (DPA) Program?

Down payment assistance programs are financial tools designed to provide aspiring homebuyers with the necessary funds to contribute towards the purchase of a home. In addition to assisting with down payments, some programs also extend their support to cover closing costs, which can amount to approximately 2 percent to 5 percent of the loan principal. This additional help can be particularly beneficial for individuals who have allocated their savings primarily for a down payment.

DPA programs are available across the country, with the majority of options offered at the local level through state, county, and city government initiatives. These programs can take the form of loans, grants, or matched savings, each with its unique set of eligibility criteria and repayment terms.

Down Payment Assistance Eligibility Requirements

While eligibility criteria may vary among different DPA programs, the vast majority of assistance is aimed at first-time homebuyers. However, “first-timer” does not exclusively refer to someone purchasing their first home; it can also encompass individuals who have not owned a home in the last three years. Additionally, many programs exclude owners of rental or investment properties, emphasizing that the home should be your primary residence. Some programs may permit the purchase of duplexes or small multi-family properties if you intend to reside in one of the units.

Types of Down Payment Assistance Loans and Programs

Grants: Grants are a type of DPA that offers a one-time cash sum, often as a no-interest second loan. These funds can be used to cover part or all of the down payment or closing costs. The best part is that grants do not need to be repaid and are typically tailored for low- or moderate-income borrowers. Various grant programs are accessible through banks and state and local governments.
Forgivable Loans: Forgivable loans function like loans but can effectively become grants if certain conditions are met. Typically, this type of loan is forgiven after a specific period, provided that you continue to own the home and stay current on your mortgage payments. If you sell your home or move before the specified period, you may be required to repay a portion of the funds. Forgivable loans are often administered through state housing finance agencies.
Low-Interest Loans: Low-interest loans operate as second mortgages with interest rates below market rates. Unlike grants or forgivable loans, these loans must be repaid, usually over a few years. This means that you will have additional monthly payments in addition to your regular mortgage. You can find low-interest loans through various mortgage lenders.
Deferred-Payment Loans: Deferred-payment loans typically do not accrue interest, and you are only responsible for repaying the principal amount borrowed. However, these loans are not forgiven and must be repaid in full when you sell your home or refinance your mortgage. State and local homebuyer assistance programs often offer deferred-payment loans.
Individual Development Accounts (IDAs): IDAs, also known as matched-savings accounts, are special savings accounts where your contributions are matched by either private or public funding sources. These programs typically have income caps and employment requirements, and participants often need to complete financial literacy training. IDAs are usually available at the state level or through private nonprofits and can be used for down payments and closing costs.
Lender-Specific Down Payment Assistance Programs: Some mortgage lenders offer their own DPA programs. For example, Chase offers assistance ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 in many states, which can be used for closing costs and down payment needs. Eligibility for these programs may have specific requirements, such as obtaining a 30-year fixed-rate loan, living in the home as your primary residence, and attending a homebuyer education course.
How to Access Down Payment Assistance

Accessing DPA programs often involves exploring local resources and organizations. Here are some avenues to consider:

State Housing Finance Authority: Many state housing finance authorities (HFAs) offer homebuying assistance and education programs. Check with your state’s HFA for information on available DPA programs.
City and County Government Programs: Numerous counties and cities offer DPA programs as part of their efforts to promote homeownership, especially for first-time buyers. Visit your municipality’s website or consult your loan officer to learn more about local DPA programs in your area.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): HUD provides a wealth of information on local homebuying programs by state. Each state also has HUD-approved counselors who can guide you through the homebuying process and help you find financial assistance options.

Owning a home remains a significant milestone for many individuals and families, and down payment assistance programs play a crucial role in turning this dream into a reality. With various types of assistance available, aspiring homeowners can find a program that suits their unique financial situation and eligibility criteria. By exploring local and state resources and leveraging the support provided by DPA programs, more people can achieve the goal of homeownership, even in a challenging real estate market.

Market Watch – Fed Pauses On Rates

The news from the Federal Reserve this week is a pause on rate hikes and while the Fed does not set these rates outright, its monetary policies and decisions inevitably echo through the housing market. This relationship has been notably evident through the 11 rate hikes since early 2022, leading to the Fed’s recent announcement of a pause in September.

A Glimmer of Hope for the Housing Market
Housing economists have found solace in this pause, with anticipations that the steep incline in mortgage rates may be nearing its terminus.

Mike Fratantoni, the Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association, states, “We anticipate a continual decline in inflation, aligning it closer to the Fed’s target. Concurrently, the job market is projected to decelerate, reflecting expectations that the Fed’s 2024 movements will be characterized by cuts instead of increments. This shift is foreseen to ameliorate affordability for prospective homebuyers.”

The Mechanisms of the Federal Reserve
The Federal Reserve delineates the borrowing expenses for short-term loans through modifications in its federal funds rate. This integral rate defines the interest paid by banks to each other for overnight reserve borrowing from the Fed.

Since 2022, the elevation of this fundamental rate was adopted as a strategy by the Fed to mitigate inflation, inadvertently escalating the borrowing expenses for Americans.

It is crucial to note that fixed-rate mortgages, which dominate the home loan sector, do not replicate the federal funds rate. Instead, they are anchored to the 10-year Treasury yield. However, the fed funds rate does shape the contours of short-term loans like credit card rates and adjustable-rate mortgages.

The Federal Reserve also engages in the purchase and sale of debt securities, sustaining the credit flow and subsequently impacting mortgage rates.

Diverging Influences on Mortgage Rates
The intricacies of fixed-rate mortgages are inherently tied to the 10-year Treasury yield. The fluctuations in this yield reverberate through fixed-rate mortgages, although the exact mortgage rate maintains a gap with the yield. This gap has extended to 3 percentage points through much of 2023, inflating the cost of mortgages.

Mortgage rates move based on variety of factors including inflation, supply and demand balance in mortgage lending, and the secondary mortgage market dynamics.

Of course if you’re looking to finance a home loan check with us – you can fill out our 60 second analysis on our website or just schedule a meeting and we can review your options and see what best fits your needs!