A Guide to Getting Your First Mortgage

To buy your first home, you likely will need a mortgage. In fact, before you even start looking at houses, you should look into your mortgage prospects.

If you have good credit, a healthy income and money in the bank, you’ll be able to secure mortgage preapproval quickly and proceed straight to the homebuying process. But if you have less-than-stellar credit, are self-employed or have little cash to bring to the table, you’ll want to start the process way before you look at houses – maybe more than a year before.

“You have to get a copy of your credit report,” says Don Frommeyer, chief executive officer of the National Association of Mortgage Professionals and a mortgage broker in Indianapolis. “You have to know what’s in there.” More here. 

Young Couple Meeting With Financial Advisor presenting new bank offers and investments on digital tablet.

A Complete Guide to Refinancing Your Home Mortgage

If you’re paying an interest rate of more than 5 percent, now may be the time to refinance your home mortgage.

Although interest rates have risen slightly in the past few weeks, they are still at historic lows. The average rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.87 percent in the last week, and the average rate for a 15-year mortgage was 3.11 percent, according to the Freddie Mac weekly mortgage rate survey.

Deciding to refinance comes down to whether it will actually save you money, says Casey Fleming, author of “The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage” and a mortgage professional in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Everybody wants a rule of thumb, and rules of thumb don’t work.”

He suggests calculating whether the new loan will save you money based on the time left to pay off your old loan. The question you should ask yourself is: If you have 20 years left to pay on your mortgage and you get a new 30-year loan, would your payments be lower if you paid the new loan off in 20 years?

“The biggest mistake people make is they keep regenerating their loan so it’s never paid off,” Fleming says. More here.

Home Mortgage Refinance Application and pen and calculator.

6 Tips to Get Approved for a Home Mortgage Loan

Some people don’t know the first thing about getting a mortgage loan. They hear reports of dropping interest rates and lower home prices and hastily decide to jump into home ownership. But the process of getting a home loan differs from getting a car loan or renting an apartment, and applicants who don’t recognize these key differences are often disappointed when a lender denies their mortgage loan application.

Educating yourself is key, and there are a number of ways to avoid this heartache and disappointment when applying for a mortgage loan.

Getting Your Mortgage Loan Approved

Buying a house is already stressful, and being ill-prepared heightens the anxiety. Why put yourself through this? Learn how to think like a lender and educate yourself on the best ways to get your mortgage loan approved:

1. Know Your Credit Score

It literally takes a few minutes to pull your credit report and order your credit score. But surprisingly, some future home buyers never review their scores and credit history before submitting a home loan application, assuming that their scores are high enough to qualify. And many never consider the possibility of identity theft. However, a low credit score and credit fraud can stop a mortgage application dead in its tracks.

Credit scores and credit activity have a major impact on mortgage approvals. According to the Home Loan Learning Center, a large percentage of lenders require a minimum credit score of 680 (620 for FHA mortgage loans) – and if your score falls below 680, lenders can deny your request for a conventional mortgage loan.

In addition to higher credit score requirements, several missed payments, frequent lateness, and other derogatory credit information can stop mortgage approvals. Pay your bills on time, lower your debts, and stay on top of your credit report. Cleaning up your credit history beforehand and fixing errors on your credit report are key to keeping up a good credit score.

2. Save Your Cash

Requirements for getting a mortgage loan often change, and if you are considering applying for a home loan in the near future, be ready to cough up the cash. Walking into a lender’s office with zero cash is a quick way to get your home loan application rejected. Mortgage lenders are cautious: Whereas they once approved zero-down mortgage loans, they now require a down payment.

Down payment minimums vary and depend on various factors, such as the type of loan and the lender. Each lender establishes its own criteria for down payments, but on average, you’ll need at least a 3.5% down payment. Aim for a higher down payment if you have the means. A 20% down payment not only knocks down your mortgage balance, it also alleviates private mortgage insurance or PMI. Lenders attach this extra insurance to properties without 20% equity, and paying PMI increases the monthly mortgage payment. Get rid of PMI payments and you can enjoy lower, more affordable mortgage payments.

However, down payments aren’t the only expense you must worry about. Getting a mortgage also involves closing costs, home inspections, home appraisals, title searches, credit report fees, application fees, and other expenses. Closing costs are roughly 3% to 5% of the mortgage balance – paid to your lender before you can seal the deal.

More here.

mortgage loan approved

Existing Home Sales Climb to Highest Level in 8 Years

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes climbed to an eight-year high in June as momentum in the residential real estate market accelerated.

Closings on existing homes, which usually occur a month or two after a contract is signed, climbed 3.2% compared with June to a 5.49 million annualized rate, the most since February 2007, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. Prices rose to a record amid tight supply.

The housing market has picked up in recent months as more jobs, historically low mortgage rates and greater household formation boosts demand. Faster wage growth will be needed to help housing continue its recovery and become a bigger contributor to growth this year.

“The housing market is on fire,” said Thomas Costerg, a senior economist at Standard Chartered Bank in New York, who projected sales would rise to a 5.48 million pace. “The strength in housing could offset some of the weakness we are seeing elsewhere.” More here.

National Mortgage News

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 4.09 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose this week, reaching highs for the year as investor anxiety over economic turbulence abroad moderated.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 4.09 percent from 4.04 percent a week earlier. The new level is the highest since last October.
The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 3.25 percent from 3.20 percent. That matched its high for the year set last month.

Investors recently had been seeking safety in U.S. Treasury bonds amid economic tumult in China and Greece. Greece’s agreement this week with its European partners on a rescue package has calmed investors and brought some retreat from Treasurys, pushing interest rates higher.

Bond yields for Treasurys have been pushed higher by the decline in bond prices. The yield on the key 10-year Treasury note jumped to 2.36 percent Wednesday from 2.20 percent a week earlier. Mortgage rates often follow the yield on the 10-year note. It traded at 2.39 percent Thursday morning.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount. More here.

This photo taken June 4, 2015, shows a sold sign at a new home development in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)