Tag Archive for: Home Buying Tips

How to Eliminate Mortgage Insurance

How to Eliminate Mortgage Insurance

Most buyers have heard of Mortgage Insurance and know that it is insurance that does not protect them but rather the lender against them defaulting on the home loan.

What most buyers don’t know is how they can avoid or when it can removed from their mortgage.

Mortgage insurance (MI) comes in the form of a few different names but it is essentially the same thing.

How to Eliminate Mortgage InsuranceConventional loans refer to it as PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) whereas FHA and Rural Development (RD) refer to it as MIP (mortgage insurance premium).  VA does not have it at all but they have a funding fee on most loans that is added to the principal balance. FHA and RD have a similar add on fee that is called upfront mortgage insurance.

Regardless of what it is called and where it is charged, MI is a fee that lenders use to offset the losses that occur when people don’t pay on their loans.  It is charged to many to pay for the sins of a few.

For conventional loans, if you have 20 percent down, you will not be charged MI.

FHA and RD have mortgage insurance as a monthly fee regardless of the equity position, so even if you put 20 percent down on these loans, you will have mortgage insurance.

I am often asked how clients can get rid of mortgage insurance. Obviously, not everyone has enough savings to put 20 percent down but they don’t want to have this fee on their loan forever.

Again, RD and FHA have it no matter how much you put down, but for conventional loans, there are a couple creative ways to get rid of the mortgage insurance.

Option 1: Pay a fee upfront and not have a monthly mortgage insurance at all. While this helps reduce the total monthly payment, it is not always a wise decision. If the borrower will not be in the loan for long enough to recoup charge to remove it, the benefit it is not advisable to buy out of the MI. Similarly, it does not make sense to buy out of MI in an interest-rate environment that seems to be going down. In other words, if the person is likely to refinance or sell in the next 24 -to-36 months, it probably does not make sense to pay a flat fee to get out of the mortgage insurance.

Given enough time in the mortgage, however, you can save up to 50 percent of what you would otherwise eventually pay monthly.  In other words, paying upfront gives you a discount if you stay in the loan long enough.

Option 2: Have the lender pay it for you. This is called lender paid MI. Buyer beware on this tactic. While this sounds great, there is no free lunch; that maneuver will inevitably increase your interest rate.

Option 3: Get a first mortgage and a second mortgage. Assume a buyer had a 10 percent down payment. They would finance 80 percent of the sale price on the first mortgage but then close the loan with a second mortgage for the remaining 10 percent. It sounds like a great idea until you realize that the interest rate on the first mortgage has a substantial price adjustment when you piggyback it with a second mortgage. Additionally, the second mortgage itself is generally a higher interest rate and oftentimes interest only. In the end, this tactic is not usually worth the effort.

If a buyer opts to have normal monthly MI, which many do, the next question is how does one get rid of Mortgage insurance once they have it?

Previously we mention that that on FHA and RD the mortgage insurance stays on for the life of the loan. This means the only way to eliminate the insurance is to refinance.

For conventional loans, mortgage insurance is eliminated in a couple of different ways.

It is automatically removed once a consumer pays 22 percent off of the originally borrowed loan amount. It can also be removed with an appraisal that shows 20 percent equity. A third way to remove the mortgage insurance is with a refinance.

In an environment where there has been a lot of equity, interest rates have been reduced, and the consumer has paid down the loan enough, refinancing is often times very good option.

All of this is to say that the need for a trusted advisor who manages your debt annually is imperative.   Our job is just beginning once you close your loan. We help you build financial wealth with real estate and manage your debt to your advantage. We are here to guide you.

Now is the Time to Get Your Mortgage Online

Now is the Time to Get Your Mortgage Online

Technology touches all aspects of our lives, from banking to shopping to dating. The mortgage industry is no different. Buying a home today is vastly superior to what it was years ago, thanks to the benefits of online mortgage applications like Home SNAP. Gone are the long wait times, the reams of paperwork, and the outlandish fees.

Now is the Time to Get Your Mortgage OnlineOnline Applications Make a Mortgage Easier

What makes today’s home buying process so much easier? In a word: technology.

Technology has streamlined the mortgage lending process in the same way technology streamlines other transactions. Today, applying for a mortgage is faster, easier, more accurate and less costly for millions of home purchasers. Online tools such as “Mortgage in a SNAP” make the loan application process simpler and faster. They make home-buying a breeze.

Benefits of an Online Mortgage

For home buyers, the benefits of technology to the mortgage application process are easy to summarize.

  • Convenience
  • Accuracy
  • Lower fees
  • Speed

Online mortgage apps speed up mortgage lending in multiple ways. Technology reduces paperwork. It eliminates the need to send documents via the mail. It nullifies the need to meet in person to sign documents.

Convenience

Online mortgage apps provide convenience to mortgage lending by allowing borrowers to complete their applications any time, from anywhere. Borrowers also have the ability to login and view the status of their loan application at any time. Online mortgage platforms like “Mortgage in a SNAP” allow users to apply for a mortgage without having to meet or call a loan officer.

Accuracy

Online mortgage apps improve the accuracy of mortgage lending. All of the financial data is calculated and transferred automatically by computers. There is no room for error.

Lower Fees

For all of the reasons cited above, online applications lower the fees of mortgage lending.  Mortgage lenders like Mortgage 1 use technology to reduce expenses by automating parts of the underwriting process. By offering faster closing and greater insight into the process, mortgage technology not only creates a more convenient experience, it also lower costs.

Benefits of Online Mortgages for First-Time Buyers

Technology provides many advantages to first-time home buyers, specifically. Many of today’s first-time home buyers are technologically savvy, having grown up using computers and smartphones their entire lives.

According to the National Association of Realtors, consumers who grew up using computers and smartphones make up 34 percent of home buyers. As these buyers enter the real estate market, they seek out mortgage lenders who provide convenience and technology solutions. Online mortgage applications do just that. And more.

Are you ready to take advantage of technology to make your home buying process easier? Click here to get the online process started.

This blog post was written by experts at Mortgage 1. Michigan Mortgage is a DBA of Mortgage 1.

Tips to prepare your home for sale

Tips to Prepare Your House for Sale

The summer market is still going strong in West Michigan! And it’s a great time to sell your home.

You goal – and your Realtor’s goal – will be to get you the best sales price possible. Here are a few small projects you can do to make sure that happens.

Tips to prepare your home for saleFocus on the Exterior

  1. Start with power washing. Wash your siding, sidewalks, decks and any other outdoor structures to make them look good as new.
  2. Clean out your garage and de-clutter your yard.
  3. A new front door, or a new coat of paint on your current door, will give your home a much-needed face lift.
  4. Wash your windows – inside and out – so people can appreciate the view.
  5. Keep the lawn mowed and spruce up your landscape. There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars and completely redo the space, but pulling weeds and trimming trees can go a long way. If your local greenhouse is open, purchase a hanging basket or two to add color to your front porch.
  6. Don’t forget the little things. Make sure all of your exterior lights are in working order, make sure your house number is visible and purchase a new welcome mat to impress potential buyers.

Make Sure the Interior Feels like “Home”

  1. Organize and de-clutter so buyers see how much space is available inside your home.
  2. Make sure every inch of your home is clean so buyers have an easier time imaging their new life in your existing space.
  3. If the budget allows, fresh paint and new carpet can help your home sell faster and for more money.
  4. Decorate – or remove decorations – so every room has a clear purpose that will appear to a majority of buyers.
  5. Make sure you fix anything that’s broken. Buyers will use imperfections as an excuse to write you a lower offer.
  6. Before your scheduled open house, make sure the trash is taken out, kitchen counters are clear, all lights are working and dirty laundry is hidden.

The little things can go a long way!

If you’re working with a Realtor, don’t hesitate to lean on them for advice. They will help you identify the must-fix items before buyers step foot in the door.

We wish you luck selling your home!

Success Story: Dan Procko

Success Story: Dan Procko

When people hear the word “mortgage” they often think about the excitement of moving on from their current home and purchasing a new and improved dream home.

But sometimes, refinancing your current mortgage – and saving a ton of money along the way – can be equally as rewarding.

Dan Procko knows that first hand.

Success Story: Dan Procko“I purchased my home about five years ago when the market was hot and prices were much lower than they are today,” Dan said. “It was a bank foreclosure and needed some work, so shortly after the purchase I took out a home equity line of credit to make repairs and updates such as a new furnace, water heater, plumbing work, electrical and some cosmetic upgrades.”

“And now, a few years and a baby later, it’s time for another home improvement project,” he said. “I also wanted to consolidate some debt and refinance the HELOC into one mortgage payment.”

After receiving refinance incentives from his current lender, and analyzing the mortgage interest rates, Dan decided this summer was the right time to refinance.

“When the right time came, I had HomePoint Financial run a refinance scenario and, at the time, they offered me a no upfront appraisal fee incentive,” he said. “Then after running my credit and it was time to order the appraisal, they needed me to pay upfront and would not honor their incentive.”

“This prompted me to contact my realtor friend and she recommended Rob Garrison’s team at Michigan Mortgage.”

Dan reached out to Rob and his team via email. He received an immediate response that clearly laid out the steps and expectations related to refinancing.

“It was very simple,” he said. Rob and his team were quick to reply anytime Dan had questions. He was informed every step of the way.

“Michigan Mortgage was able to provide me a more competitive refinance estimate and consulted me about buying percentage points,” he said. “I felt comfortable moving forward with the credit check and ordering the appraisal.”

Dan’s comfort with Michigan Mortgage was reaffirmed when he met with the appraiser.

“First my realtor friend and now the appraiser has nothing but positive things to say about Michigan Mortgage,” he said. “The turn-around time was quick, the timeline provided was exceeded and the entire process could not have gone any smoother.”

As stated before, Dan’s refinance goal was to consolidate his existing mortgage and HELOC. When he officially closed in July, he accomplished so much more.

“I was also able to pay off a credit card, pay off my vehicle loan and have enough money to upgrade my electrical panel all while reducing my monthly bills by over $500 per month.”

A painless process, a lower interest rate and lots of money saved. What more could you ask for?

“The closing was quick and held right at the Michigan Mortgage location,” he said. “I was able to meet Rob and he introduced me to the team face-to-face, which I really appreciated in this online, email and texting world day and age.”

“I will recommend Michigan Mortgage and Rob Garrison to anyone looking to buy or refinance.”

Image showing a large home and yard

Advantages of Making Extra Mortgage Payments

A house is the biggest purchase most people make in their lifetimes. The mortgage they obtain to finance that house is likely the biggest single investment they will ever make.

Image showing a large home and yardEven with the popularity of shorter terms and creative loans, most mortgages are still the tried-and-true 30-year conventional variety. First-time home buyers staring down the gauntlet of 360 payments spread over the next three decades of their life can feel like there is no end in sight. And for those who dare to look at their amortization schedules, that no-end-in-sight feeling can be even greater.

But there is a way to get ahead of the game: making extra mortgage payments.

Why It Makes Sense to Make Extra Mortgage Payments

Why does it make sense to make extra mortgage payments? Put simply, you will save significant amounts in interest. Most mortgage contracts allow borrowers to make extra payments, and they allow all of the extra money to be applied to the principal amount of your loan. That means you are paying down the real amount of the loan – the money you borrowed – faster. Because the interest part of your loan is calculated on the amount of principal you still owe, reducing your principal amount greatly reduces the interest amount.

According to the web site interest.com, “a $200,000 30-year home loan with an interest rate of 5% would cost $186,512 in interest with the traditional 12 payments a year. Make the equivalent of 13 monthly payments every year, and the loan will be retired in 26 years and you will pay only $153,813 in interest — a savings of $32,699.”

That’s nothing to sneeze at.

How to Make Extra Mortgage Payments

When it comes to making extra payments on your mortgage, there are a variety of tactics that can be used. Each has the same goal in mind: to reduce the principal and, thereby, reduce interest.

The tactics for making extra mortgage payments include the following.

Accelerated Payment Schedule

Rather than making your mortgage payment once per month, or the equivalent of every four weeks, you could make payments every two weeks. This biweekly payment plan results in 26 half-payments, which is the equivalent of 13 full payments for the year. The extra payment each year can shave off eight years from a 30-year loan.

Extra Principal with Each Monthly Payment

If you’re looking to chip away at your mortgage at a more gradual pace, pay a little extra each month. Check with your lender to make sure the additional payment goes directly to the principal. Depending on how much extra principal you pay, you could shorten your loan significantly. And, best of all, because your are shortening the loan duration, you will save significant amounts in interest.

One Additional Payment Per Year

Another tactic is to make one additional, principal-only payment per year. Some people who do this use their income tax refund for this purpose.

One Additional Payment Per Quarter

Making an additional payment each quarter results in four extra payments per year. On a $220,000, 30-year mortgage with a 4% interest rate, you would cut 11 years off your mortgage and save $65,000 in interest.

Lump-Sum Payment

Applying a lump-sum payment toward your principal balance when you come into extra cash — a bonus at work, a sizable inheritance — can shave time from your mortgage. This approach isn’t as consistent as some of the other methods, but, if the lump payment is large enough and depending on where you are in your timeline, it can eliminate many years.

This blog post was written by experts at Mortgage 1. Michigan Mortgage is a DBA of Mortgage 1.

Image showing a happy homeowner!

Success Story: Ashley Moran

Ashley Moran outgrew her Roosevelt Park home after five years of residence – it was time to move on to something new.

“There was no basement and I was running out of room for storage,” she said. “The backyard was huge; I had a hard time keeping up with the lawn work by myself.”

Her home sold without issue with the help of Nexes Realty professional Matt Johnson.

“Thankfully, my mom let me move back in for a few months until I was able to find my new home,” Ashley said. “I had been looking for a few months and May happened to be the lucky month when the right house came along!”

When she found the perfect home with lots of room for her “unhealthy shoe obsession,” she hit the ground running.

“Matt listens to his clients and finds exactly what they are looking for,” Ashley said. “I got a smaller yard, a walk-in closet and a kitchen with lots of cupboards. The house is only a few years old, so that’s a bonus!”

Unfortunately, on the lending side of the transaction, things didn’t go according to plan.

“My aunt and family friends referred me to Shawn Norden after I had some issues with another mortgage company,” Ashley said. “I called her in a panic because the mortgage company I was using was not the most trustworthy and my anxiety was through the roof.”

“Shawn had me send her my information and she had a majority of the work done on her end in 24 hours,” she said. “I was very pleased with how smoothly the process went.”

Shawn was able to relieve some of Ashley’s stresses and save her a little money along the way.

“Not only did Shawn lock me into a lower interest rate, but she saved me about $3,000 in closing costs,” Ashley said.

Now that she’s settled in, she’s taking the time to complete a few home-improvement projects and unpack her things. It’s been a busy few months, but she hopes the next few weeks will offer a little more free time to focus on her new home.

“I should start working on finishing the basement, but I don’t to spend my summer cooped up inside, so that will have to wait until later this year,” she said. “For now, I want to enjoy my beautiful deck in the backyard.”

“I’m so excited to have company over and grill out back there!”

Ashley hopes that this home is her forever home, but should she move again, Shawn and Matt will be at the top of her must-call list.

Image showing an outdoor living space.

Reasons to Sell this Summer

It’s (officially) summer in Michigan! The sun is shining and temperatures are rising.

For most of us, our air conditioners are running for the first time in months and we’re gearing up for an exciting 4th of July holiday at our favorite lake hangout.

Selling your home may be the furthest thing from your mind; if you’ve thought about downsizing or moving into a bigger home to fit your growing family, now may be the time.

Interest rates are low, home values are high and houses are moving quick in West Michigan.

Here are four reasons why you should consider selling this summer.

  1. There’s very little competition. If you were to ask any Realtor in the area, they’d tell you the same thing. There are not enough homes for sale to meet buyer demands. According to experts, housing inventory is under the 6-month supply that is needed for a “normal” market.
  2. Buyer demand is high. Buyers are on the hunt for their dream home! At Michigan Mortgage, we have a number of pre-approved buyers that have yet to write an offer. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), properties were on the market for an average of 26 days in May and 53 percent of homes sold in May were on the market for less than a month.In West Michigan, homes are going under contract before Open Houses are able to be scheduled. Yard signs are changed to “Sold!” in the matter of days.
  3. The home you hope to buy will continue to appreciate. According to NAR, “The median existing-home price for all housing types in May was $277,700, up 4.8 percent from May 2018 ($265,100). May’s price increase marks the 87th straight month of year-over-year gains.” If you’re looking to move up and into a bigger home, you will need to spend more in 2020.Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist said this: “Though inventory is up, the month’s supply numbers remain near historic lows, which has a direct effect on price. Solid demand along with inadequate inventory of affordable homes have pushed the medium home price to a new record high.”
  4. Interest rates are low. Over the past few months, mortgage interest rates have been on a steady decline. This isn’t expected to change. Not only has this trend transformed renters into buyers, it has benefitted sellers when they purchase their forever home.

Summer is here and it’s time for you – and your family – to start living the life you’ve always dreamed of!

Image showing a living room.

Mistakes to Avoid When Shopping for a New Home

Shopping for a new home can be one of the greatest experiences of a lifetime! When you venture out to purchase a home, make sure you set yourself up for success and an amazing experience.

Avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Not having your financing in order when you are ready to make an offer. It is critical to have a pre-approval from a trusted lender. Especially in a low inventory, competitive market, the buyer who has financing in place is ready to write the offer and “win” the home. So, don’t put yourself in the position of falling in love with a home that you aren’t able to bid on quickly!
  2. Not taking the time to educate yourself by window shopping and researching the market. Noel Berg with At Home Realty says, “A critical step in home buying is going to Open Houses, driving through neighborhoods and having a Realtor who educates you on home values so that you feel comfortable and confident when you find THE home! The more properties you can visit, the more confident you feel making an offer!”
  3. Submitting a low-ball offer. Make sure you look at all of the variables before making a low-ball offer. How long has the home been on the market? If it’s a seller’s market, it’s probably off the table. Does the house need updates, making it over priced? Your Realtor can craft an offer that won’t be too aggressive or offensive in the current market.
  4. Including too many contingencies. Contingencies are basically “walk away” clauses. It is important to protect your own interests, but, typically, the more contingencies in your offer, the less enthusiastic the seller may be to deal with you, especially in a seller’s market. Your Realtor will guide you as to which contingencies are the most critical to protect your interests.
  5. Using the seller’s agent. A real estate agent’s loyalties and responsibilities change depending on the transaction. A seller’s agent works for the seller to get the highest amount of money in the shortest period of time. Their fiduciary responsibility is to the seller at all times. The buyer’s agent works with the buyer to teach their clients about the market, to show them houses, and advise them when it comes time to make an offer and negotiate with the seller.
  6. Blindly listening to friends and family members. Though your friends and family have your best interests at heart, unless they are a Realtor, they are simply not experts; often times offering inaccurate and incorrect advice.
  7. Buying a home that is too expensive. Many buyers get their pre-approval letter and set out to look at houses at the top of the price range without thinking it through. It is important to work through a budget, and evaluate your spending habits and the increased cost of owning a home.
  8. Letting your emotions guide you. Purchasing a home will likely be one of the biggest and most important purchases in your lifetime. So, it makes sense that there will be emotions, concerns and questions weighing on you during the process. Make sure you take the top seven guidelines seriously so that you are empowered by logic, market awareness and professional advice!

A professional lender and Realtor will guide you home with confidence and authority.

Image showing a family in their new home.

Own a Home with Only 3 Percent Down

Can you really own a home with 3 percent down?

Yes, yes you can!

The 3 percent down payment option is similar to existing conventional loan programs with much higher requirements. This program, however, can better serve first-time homebuyers because of the following.

  • The mortgage provides the security of a fixed-rate loan.
  • The property can be a one-unit single family home or condo.
  • At least one borrower has not owned a home in the last 3 years.
  • The property will be the new owner’s primary residence.
  • The loan amount is below $453,101.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average home price is around $250,000. The 3 percent down conventional loan is a great way to expand homebuyers purchasing power.

According to Fannie Mae’s Loan Level Price Adjustment (LLPA) graph, borrowers can have a score as low as 620 to qualify.

Interest rates can be appealing as well.

These loans include rates only about one-eighth to one-quarter of one percent higher than rates available to borrowers putting 5-10 percent down.

Is it worth it to try and save more? The time it takes to save an extra 2 percent for a larger down payment could mean higher home prices and tougher qualifying conditions in the long run.

Are you ready to find out your options? Contact one of our Loan Officers to learn more.

This blog post was written by experts at Mortgage 1 and originally appeared on www.mortgageone.com. Michigan Mortgage is a DBA of Mortgage 1. 

Image showing a customer using an ATM.

Finding it hard to save for a down payment?

Making small changes to your habits can make a big difference in your ability to save. Saving takes some pre-planning and discipline and a well-executed strategy.

Here are a few ideas to help you save.

  1. Take it right out of your paycheck and transfer a fixed amount into a special savings account. This is probably the most convenient and practical way to save. Take it right out of your paycheck. Make sure you set up an automatic direct deposit into a savings account that is earmarked for your down payment only. Commit to using this money for a down payment and no other purpose.
  2. Take advantage of special programs including down payment assistance programs. Check with your lender to see what type of down payment assistance programs they offer. See if you qualify with the FHA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Housing Service and the Veterans Administration. Also, check out local housing authorities, such as MSHDA. If the lender doesn’t offer these programs find a knowledgeable, reputable local lender that specializes in these programs.
  3. Skip vacations for a year. Make if a fun goal to forego any large vacations. Plan a staycation, or a night somewhere, and focus on how great it feels to get closer to your goal.
  4. Lower your expenses. Look at your budget to see what small things you can cut per month. Cut out a coffee per week, make your own pizza on Friday night. If you don’t have a budget, sit down and make one and evaluate it quarterly to see how you are doing. Shop at Costco, Aldi and other discount stores.
  5. Sell your stuff on EBAY or Craigslist. If you have Designer clothes, furniture, antiques, art, gaming devices that you barely use, consider selling them and putting the proceeds in your down payment account.
  6. Start a Side Hustle. Commit to a temporary period of time and put all of the money in your down payment account.
  7. Ask for a raise. If you’ve been thinking about a raise, and feel you deserve one, now may the time to talk to your superior about the value you bring to your organization.
  8. Use gift money. Parents or relatives may be able to gift money to help out a first-time home buyer. Gifts can come from your family, spouse or a domestic partner. Be sure to include the amount of the gift on your loan application and check with your lender as the best way to obtain and track this. To be recognized as a “gift” the donor will have to sign a gift letter saying there’s no expectation of repayment, interest, or anything else.
  9. Be wise with your money. Think about your purchases before you make them. Are there cheaper brands at the grocery store that are the same quality as the premium brand? Are there restaurants that offer the same quality and experience that are a little less expensive? Do you need another tan sweater? Be mindful about your purchases and avoid impulse purchases.
  10. Use your tax refund. Set aside a percent of your tax refund to deposit into your down payment savings account.

For more ways to save for a down payment, reach out to our team at Michigan Mortgage. We’re here to help in any way we can.