Posts Tagged ‘PMI’

Refinances available up to 125% LTV

March 12, 2010

Over the past several months, I’ve had the privilege of helping home owners refinance their home using the Making Home Affordable Program. The design of the program allowed home owners to refinance their home even if they were underwater on their mortgage.

Initially lenders only allowed home owners to refinance up to 105% LTV (Loan To Value – determined by the current mortgage balance versus the appraisal value of the home).

Fortunately, we are now able to offer home owners the opportunity to refinance up to the Making Home Affordable Program’s maximum limit – 125% LTV

The question now becomes, “do I qualify?” Let’s find out!

  • The current mortgage cannot have Private Mortgage Insurance. Why? While the program allows up to 125% LTV, private mortgage insurance companies are not currently insuring loans with that high of an LTV. If the current mortgage has PMI, sad to say, I coudn’t help with a refinance.
  • If there is a second mortgage, it may prevent being approved for a refinance. Why? The second mortgage can’t be paid off in the refinance, so the second mortgage would need to be subordinated behind the new first mortgage. If the home is underwater, there is a good chance the second mortgage company will not approve the subordination behind the new mortgage.

For more information on second mortgages and how they can stop a refinance dead in its tracks, see this recent post from one of my colleagues.

If the current mortgage does not have PMI and there is no second mortgage, there is only one thing left to check.

  • The Making Home Affordable Program only applies to mortgages owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. So, who owns your mortgage? To find out, search for your mortgage using Fannie Mae’s online loan lookup tool. If not found, try Freddie Mac’s online loan lookup tool.

In short, if your mortgage does NOT have PMI, you don’t have a second mortgage, and the first mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you are eligible and I can help you refinance!

Let’s get started now talking about details, options, qualifying rates, etc. while we are still enjoying these historically low interest rates.

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Tax season Q and A

March 2, 2010

It is upon us… one of the two guarantees in life – death and taxes. For this post, we’ll focus solely on taxes as I provide some answers to common questions I receive this time of year.

Let me start this list by stating that I am not a licensed tax professional. For information on how to file tax returns, how to write off the items listed below, etc., please consult a licensed tax professional. If you would like a referral, I know some excellent CPAs, including this one.

  • Is mortgage interest tax deductible? – Yes! Home owners are allowed to deduct interest paid on their mortgage. The IRS requires the mortgage lender to provide the documentation (form 1098) showing the interest paid by the borrower. Bottom line – check your mail and then look at Schedule A on the federal return!
  • Is mortgage insurance* tax deductible? – Possibly. Under the current tax code, mortgage insurance is tax deductible for households with adjusted gross income less than $100,000 ($50,000 for single file). The benefits begin to faze out once crossing the $100,000 ($50,000) threshold, and is entirely gone once adjusted gross income surpases $110,000 ($55,000).
  • How do I file for the home buying tax credit? – Whether a first time OR repeat home buyer (see the IRS website for complete details), anyone claiming one of these tax credits must file a paper (non-electronic) return, include a copy of the HUD-1 settlement statement, and a completed Form 5405. Note that while the form 5405 says “first time home buyer”, it is the form for both tax credits. Filing a paper return may not be as fast as an e-file, but the payoff ($8,000 or $6,500) will definitely be worth it!

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, these are by far the most common questions I’ve received this year. Remember, I’ll be glad to answer any questions and help however I can, but I am not a licensed tax professional. See a tax professional to complete and file your 2009 return.

* – Mortgage insurance is required for borrowers who buy a home with less than a 20% down payment. For conventional loans, mortgage insurance is more commonly referred to as PMI or private mortgage insurance. For FHA loans, it is known as mortgage insurance premium.


More on the new good faith estimate

February 17, 2010

Since blogging about the new good faith estimate in January, I’ve had the chance to listen to clients and other loan professionals’ feedback on the new three-page form… and the feedback has been consistent.

As the recent post states, there are some great benefits to the new good faith estimate:

  • the terms, interest rate, and loan amount are clearly stated on the first page leaving no room for confusion
  • lender fees quoted must match at closing
  • other fees (attorney, credit, etc.) are also clearly identified leaving no room for ambiguity

The areas needing improvement are still there:

  • there is no signature line/page on the new good faith estimate for borrowers to acknowledge they received the form
  • total closing costs are not shown. Instead, prepaids and closing costs are mixed together.
  • total cash required to close is nowhere to be found
  • monthly mortgage payment is also nowhere to be found

Solving the first problem is easy – all mortgage professionals must create a form for borrowers to sign acknowledging they received the good faith estimate.

In order to help our clients with the rest, we created another form. This additional page shows the itemization of closing costs and prepaid items along with the cash required for closing and the monthly mortgage payment – problems solved!

The one item out of our control is how other mortgage professionals quote estimates for property taxes and homeowners insurance. This is one area that the burden is on the borrower to ensure the good faith estimates they review use the same amounts for property taxes and insurance. Only then will a borrower have a true apples-to-apples comparison.

As with all things in life, there are pros and cons, and the new good faith estimate is no different. As a colleague of mine said in one of his recent posts, the keys to helping our clients through the pros and cons haven’t changed – be simple, honest, and professional:

  • quote closing costs honestly and don’t try hiding or under quoting fees
  • quote real interest rates and not something abnormally low to get the phone to ring
  • keep your word!

Mortgage professionals able to do that will help to keep themselves, their realtor partners, and clients happy as we all navigate the new (and sometimes confusing) three-page good faith estimate (oh, and don’t forget the extra page showing the itemization of closing costs, and one more page to confirm receipt of the new good faith estimate).

New Year, New GFE, New Problems

January 27, 2010

As of January 1, 2010, the new, standard Good Faith Estimate (GFE) implementation was underway for all banks, lenders, and brokers was underway. The new estimate design was to clear up any misconceptions or misunderstandings about a borrowers loan terms, interest rate, closing costs, etc.

Some of the highlights of the new GFE include:

– providing a summary of the loan showing the interest rate, term, if the interest rate can rise, if the loan balance can increase even with regular monthly payments, and if there is a prepayment penalty
– showing a total fee for all services required for a loan including lender fees, attorney fees, recording fees, etc.
– containing a graph showing the fees that can’t increase for any reason at closing along with the fees that can change so long as they do not exceed a 10% tolerance limit

The benefits?  That is easy – gone are the horror stories of dramatic increases in closing costs at the closing table… no confusion about the terms of the loan… makes comparison shopping easier than before.

However, nothing in this world is perfect and there are couple of items that could use some improvement on the new GFE.

– Borrowers must receive the new GFE within 3 business days of a completed loan application. Ironically, there is not a signature page for borrowers to sign and acknowledge they received it.
– The total monthly mortgage payment for the loan is not listed anywhere on the new GFE.
– The required cash needed at closing (combination of the down payment, closing costs, and prepaids) is also not listed on the new GFE.
– The new GFE shows an itemized list of the costs for services rendered (total attorney fees, total lender fees, etc.), but does not show an itemized summary of those costs. For example, say the GFE shows the attorney fee is $1,000.  That would include the cost of the attorney’s services, title exam, title insurance, etc., but it doesn’t show the dollar amount for each of those items.

Change can be a good thing, and overall, the new GFE is a good thing for consumers and a step in the right direction. That said, it will take some time to adjust – especially for borrowers looking to buy their second or third home. This format is completely different from their prior experiences!

Be sure to work with a loan originator who knows the new good faith estimate, can explain it, but also offer you some of the missing information – like the total monthly mortgage payment!

one more thing

January 21, 2010

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is channeling their inner Steve Jobs with their continued amending/changing of loan guidelines. You know how Steve operates… even though it appears he is wrapping up the annual “state of Apple” speech, he often comes back back on stage saying “one more thing” and proceeds to introduce a new product offered by Apple.

While Steve talks about a cool new product, currently, the FHA releases tighter loan guidelines – definitely not as fun!  No one knows for sure when the tightening of loan guidelines will end, but recent changes include:

  • a 580+ credit score is now required in order to qualify for the minimum down payment of a 3.5%
  • credit scores lower than 580 will require a 10% down payment
  • the up front mortgage insurance premium will increase from 1.75% of the loan amount to 2.25% of the loan amount
  • seller contributions to closing costs will be reduced from 6% of the purchase price to only 3% of the purchase price

As always, it is more important to know how these changes will impact borrowers. Let’s take a look at each of the changes and their potential impact:

  • CREDIT SCORES – While the FHA itself has not required credit scores, lenders have required a minimum credit score of at least 620 for some time now. The lender required 620+ credit score will probably not change, so the FHA 580 credit score requirement will not apply in most cases.
  • UP FROM MORTGAGE INSURANCE – The up front mortgage insurance premium has been required in some form for as long as FHA loans have existed. The up front premium is charged to the borrower BUT rolled into the loan amount – meaning the borrower is NOT paying the fee out of their own pocket at closing. Ultimately this will only slightly reduce the max purchase price of the borrower.
  • SELLER CONTRIBUTIONS – If a borrower only has enough for the minimum down payment on an FHA loan, the seller usually pays the closing costs and prepaids on the borrower’s behalf.  Under the old guidelines, a 6% contribution of the purchase price would easily cover all closing costs and prepaids on the loan.  However, 3% of the purchase price may not cover everything and borrowers will need to find other sources (gift from a relative, low OR no closing cost loan, etc.) to cover any additional funds due at closing.

In the grand scheme of things, these changes should not have a dramatic affect on borrowers qualifying for FHA loans.  It will primarily reduce the amount of house a borrower can afford to buy.

That said, planning ahead becomes more and more important.  Gone are the days of easy financing and no planning needed.  Anyone looking to buy a home using the tax credits (for first time home buyers OR move-up buyers), need to talk to a professional and make sure everything is in order now instead of waiting until the tax credit deadline and realizing (when it may be too late) that there is a potential problem!

Conventional and FHA loans revisited

January 8, 2010

In 2008, I released a series of posts comparing the pros and cons of conventional and FHA loans.  If you haven’t noticed, a lot has changed in the last couple of years.

On that note, I thought it wise to make note of new guidelines and highlight some changes to existing guidelines for both conventional and FHA loans. For reference, I will also provide links back to the original posts from April to June 2008.

Minimum credit score requirements (click here for the original post):

  • Lenders now require a 620+ credit score for FHA loans (a 660+ credit score for some programs). Credit scores between 620-660 may see a slightly increased interest rate.  – this is a change from no minimum credit score requirements
  • Conventional loans also require a minimum credit score of 620+, but interest rates for scores under 680 see a noticeably higher interest rate. – this is a change from possible approval below 620 and higher rate adjustments occurred below 620.

Credit history requirements (new requirement):

  • Brand new – FHA loans now require borrowers to have at least three active OR recently closed trade lines (accounts) in their credit history.  See this recent post for more details.
  • Conventional loans do not have this requirement.

Minimum down payment requirements (click here for the original post):

  • FHA loans require a minimum down payment of 3.5% regardless of the credit score. – change from 3%
  • FHA down payment assistance programs are no longer allowed.
  • Conventional loans require a minimum down payment of 5% and a 680+ credit score in order to obtain Private Mortgage Insurance.  – no change in the amount needed down, but the minimum credit score requirement is new
  • If a borrower’s credit score is below 680, then a 20% down payment will be required on conventional loans.

Private Mortgage Insurance (click here and here for original posts):

  • FHA loans still require an up front Mortgage Insurance Premium fee of 1.75% of the loan amount. The fee is rolled into the loan amount. – change from 1.5% up front fee
  • FHA monthly mortgage insurance payments are still lower than conventional loans.
  • Conventional loans do not have an up front fee, which is why their monthly premiums are higher than FHA loans.

The last couple of years haven’t changed the overall differences between FHA and conventional loans.  They have however tightened up the qualifying guidelines making planning ahead crucial. If you are looking to buy (or refinance) a home in the next 6-12 months, give me a call to help ensure you everything is in order when you make an offer on a home.