Why Is There So Much Paperwork Required to Get a Mortgage?

Why is there so much paperwork mandated by the lenders for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today? It seems that they need to know everything about you and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form.

Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago.

There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more onerous on today’s buyer than perhaps any time in history.

1. The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank proves beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of paying the mortgage.

During the run-up to the housing crisis, many people ‘qualified’ for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can’t happen again.

2. The banks don’t want to be in the real estate business.

Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don’t want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application.

However, there is some good news in the situation.

The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allowed you to get a mortgage interest rate around 4%.

The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty years ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process, but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990s and 6.29% in the 2000s).

If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of around 4%, they would probably bend over backward to make the process much easier.

Bottom Line

Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let’s be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low rates.

The Cost of NOT Owning Your Home

Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue to rent! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for as long as America has existed.

Zillow recently reported that:

“In reality, buying or renting a home is an intensely personal decision, with emotional and even financial considerations that go beyond whether to invest in this one (admittedly large) asset. Looking strictly at housing market numbers, there is a concrete point at which buying a home makes more financial sense than renting it.”

What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?

1. We recently highlighted the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:

  • Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
  • Homeownership provides tax savings.
  • Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
  • Buying a home is cheaper than renting.
  • No other investment lets you live inside of it.

2. Studies have shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter.

3. Just a few months ago, we explained that a family that purchased an average-priced home at the beginning of 2017 could build more than $48,000 in family wealth over the next five years.

4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment– along with a profit margin!!

Bottom Line

Owning a home has always been, and will always be, better from a financial standpoint than renting.

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy?

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeksFreddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a rate below 3.5%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades:

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

Thinking About Buying? Know Your Credit Score

Knowing your credit score or getting a recent copy of your credit report is one of the first steps that you can take toward knowing how ready you are to start the home buying process.

Make sure all the information listed on your report is accurate and work to correct any mistakes. The higher your credit score, the more likely you will be to receive a better interest rate for your mortgage, which will translate into more ‘home for your money.’

Many potential buyers believe that they need a 750 FICO® Score or higher to be able to purchase a home. The truth is that according to Ellie Mae’s Origination Report, over 53% of loans were approved with a FICO® score under 750 last month!

Here are some tips for improving your credit score:

  • Make payments, including rent, credit cards, and car loans, on time.
  • Keep your spending to no more than 30% of your limit on credit cards.
  • Pay down high-balance credit cards to lower balances, and consider balance transfers to free up credit.
  • Check for errors on your credit report and work toward fixing them.
  • Shop for mortgage rates within a 30-day period — too many spread-out inquiries can lower your score.
  • Work with a credit counselor or a lender to improve your score.

Once you know your score, your next step will be finding a lender and getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Doing this will ensure that you know your budget before you start looking for your dream home.

Millennials Flock Towards Low Down Payment Programs

report released by Down Payment Resource shows that 61% of first-time homebuyers purchased their homes with a down payment of 6% or less.

The trend continued among all buyers with a mortgage, as 73% made a down payment of less than 20%.

An article by Chase points to a new wave of millennial homebuyers:

“We teamed up with Google to help us better understand what customers are searching for and how the home buying landscape is evolving. We found that millennials and first-time homebuyers are making a big splash in the market, and affordability remains top of mind.”

Among millennials who purchased homes, David Norris, Loan Depot’s Head of Retail Lending, said:

“It’s clear from the survey results that Millennials have a lot of anxiety built up about the home buying process.

There is good news, however, as there’s more flexibility than most Millennials think regarding how to qualify for a loan and what’s needed for a down payment.”

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many millennials who is debating a home purchase this year, let’s get together to help you understand your options and set you on the path to preapproval.

Buying Remains Cheaper Than Renting in 39 States!

In the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia, they explained that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers show that the range is an average of 3.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 50.1% less expensive in Baton Rouge (LA), and 33.1% nationwide!

A study by GoBankingRates looked at the cost of renting vs. owning a home at the state level and concluded that in 39 states, it is actually ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’ cheaper to own (represented by the two shades of blue in the map below).

Buying Remains Cheaper Than Renting in 39 States! | Simplifying The Market

One of the main reasons owning a home has remained significantly cheaper than renting is the fact that interest rates have remained at or near historic lows. Freddie Mac reports that the current interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 3.91%.

Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1%, a 128% increase over today’s average of 4.0%, for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, let’s get together and find you your dream home.

Which Homes Have Increased in Value the Most?

Home values have risen dramatically over the last twelve months. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors puts the annual increase in the median existing-home price at 5.6%. CoreLogic, in their most recent Home Price Index Report, revealed that national home prices have increased by 6.7% year-over-year.

CoreLogic broke appreciation down ever further into four price ranges which gives a more detailed view than simply looking at the year-over-year increases of the national median home price.

The chart below shows the four tiers and each one’s growth from July 2016 to July 2017 (the latest data available).

Which Homes Have Increased in Value the Most? | Simplifying The Market

It is important to pay attention to how prices are changing in your local market. The location of your home is not the only factor in determining how much it has appreciated over the course of the last year. Lower priced homes have appreciated at greater rates than homes at the upper ends of the spectrum, due to demand from first-time home buyers and baby boomers looking to downsize.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on listing your home for sale in today’s market, let’s get together to go over exactly what’s going on in your area and your price range.

Sales Up In Nearly Every Price Range

The National Association of Realtors’ most recent Existing Home Sales Report revealed that home sales were up rather dramatically over last year in five of the six price ranges they measure.

Only those homes priced under $100,000 showed a decline (-4.6%). The decline in this price range points to the lower inventory of distressed properties available for sale and speaks to the strength of the market.

Every other category showed a minimum increase of at least 4.6%, with sales in the $250,000- $500,000 range up 15.2%!

Here is the breakdown:

Percent Change in Sales by Price Range | Simplifying The Market

What does that mean to you if you are selling?

Houses are definitely selling. If your house has been on the market for any length of time and has not yet sold, let’s meet up to see if it is priced appropriately to compete in today’s market.

Why People Hate Their Mortgage and Why You Shouldn’t

Many people hate their mortgage because they know over the life of a 30 year loan they will spend more in interest than the house cost them in the first place. To save money it becomes very tempting to make a bigger down payment, or make extra principal payments. Unfortunately, saving money is not the same as making money. Or, put another way, paying off debt is not the same as accumulating assets. By tackling the mortgage payoff first, and the savings goal second, many fail to consider the important role a mortgage plays in our savings effort. Every dollar we give the bank is a dollar we did not invest. While paying off the mortgage saves us interest, it denies us the opportunity to earn interest with that money. Consider this investment: Every dollar you invest is inaccessible. Every dollar you invest has the potential to increase your federal and state tax bills. Every dollar you invest is guaranteed to earn a very low rate of return for the next 30 years. Every dollar you invest makes the investment less safe. Not too many of us would jump at the chance to make this investment, yet millions do every year by pre-paying their tax-deductible 30 year mortgage loan. Remember, the only way to get your equity out is to borrow it back on the bank’s terms, at some unknown rate in the future or, worse yet, sell the house. By pre-paying your tax deductible mortgage you increase your tax bill each year as you have less interest to deduct. The after-tax rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage is often much lower than many conservative investments. The more equity you build up in your home the more risk you take. If you had a disability or job loss, and had to stop making payments on a 100k loan on a 400k home, the bank could still foreclose and you would be out 300k. If you stopped making payments on a 350k loan you would be out only 50k. The same holds true if the home is underinsured or their is a natural disaster, like a flood, that the house is not insured for at all. Most of us think that the more equity we have in our house the safer we are. The truth is that the more savings we have, not equity, the safer we are. Before paying down your tax-deductible mortgage, make sure you have the following financial milestones accomplished:

  1. Cash Cushion – Build and maintain a cash cushion with 3 to 6 months of liquid living expenses.
  2. Protection – Establish appropriate levels of disability and life insurance.
  3. ‘Non Preferred’ Debt Free – Pay off all non-tax-deductible debt (credit cards, installment loans, etc).
  4. Retirement and College – Plans fully funded.

It is important to realize our financial goals in the correct order. Paying off your mortgage is a great goal. However, it should not be your first, or only, financial goal.

Mortgages and Divorce

We have all heard the statistics: nearly 50% of all U.S. marriages end in divorce.

During this time of upheaval, one thing that shouldn’t have to change is the credit status you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Unfortunately, for many, the experience is the exact opposite. Unfulfilled promises to pay bills and a breakdown in communication can lead to unwanted credit issues. These issues may affect your ability to refinance your current loan or purchase a new home.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. By taking a proactive approach and creating a specific plan to maintain and protect your credit during divorce, you can ensure that “starting over” doesn’t have to also mean rebuilding credit. The first step is to obtain a valid copy of your credit report.

Once you’ve gathered the facts, it’s time to make a plan:

  1. Can you purchase a new home now or will you have to wait until everything is finalized?
  2. Can you refinance the house to pay off your spouse and consolidate debt?
  3. Can you use child support or alimony to qualify for a new mortgage? How long do you have to wait?

These are some of the questions that we can assist you with. Divorce is difficult for everyone involved. By having professional advice, both legal and financial, you can ensure that your credit remains intact