Posted by Amanda Bruen on 2/20/2018

We all know that buying a home is expensive. For first-time buyers who don’t have the luxury of equity for a down payment, it can be difficult to find a way to finance your home without taking on a huge interest rate and mortgage insurance.

Fortunately, loan programs like those offered by the U.S. Veterans Affairs can be a godsend. However, there is a great deal of confusion around who is eligible for VA loans and how to acquire them.

So, in today’s post, we’re going to cover some of the frequently asked questions of VA loans. That way, you can feel confident in knowing whether or not it’s a good financing option for you and your family.

VA Loans FAQ

Who is eligible for a VA Loan?

VA loans aren’t just for veterans. Most members of the military, including Reserve and National Guard members can apply. Additionally, spouses of service members who died from a service-related disability and those who died on active duty can apply as well.

How long do you have to service to be eligible?

The VA defines eligibility as having served no less than 90 days of service during wartime and 181 days of continuous service during peacetime.

Who are VA Loans offered by?

Like any other loan, VA loans are offered by private lenders. The difference is that VA loans are guaranteed by the government. That means that the federal government takes on some of the risk of lending to you, therefore making it possible to secure a loan with little or no down payment.

Should I make a down payment on a VA loan?

If you have the means, making a down payment will almost certainly save you money in the long run. If you can put down 10% of your total mortgage amount, you can also significantly reduce the VA Funding Fee.

Will I have to pay private mortgage insurance?

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is something that borrowers pay on top of their mortgage payments and interest. This additional insurance helps borrowers buy a home with a small down payment. VA loans allow you to secure a mortgage without PMI.

Are VA loans different for active duty, National Guard, and Army Reserve members?

Each type of service member is eligible for a VA loan. However, there are some minor differences regarding the VA Funding Fee. With no down payment, an active duty member would pay 2.15% of the loan amount in fees. National Guard and Army Reserve members pay around 2.40% with no down payment.

What does my credit score need to be to get a VA loan?

The VA doesn’t have a set minimum credit score. However, the private lenders that offer the loan do. On average, the lowest credit score that you can secure a VA loan with is around 620. That being said, a higher score will secure you a lower interest rate, saving you money over the lifetime of your loan.




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Posted by Amanda Bruen on 12/26/2017

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or someone who has previously owned a home at some point in their life, you most likely know how expensive buying a house can be.

Fortunately, there are many organizations who would agree and who seek to help qualified buyers. There are a number of programs available at the state, local, and federal level designed to help certain buyers purchase a home.

There are also a number of myths around these programs, such as what the term “first-time homebuyer” really means.

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the programs you can look into to get help paying for a home.

Who Qualifies as a First-Time homebuyer?

Contrary to what it sounds like, you can still qualify as a first-time homebuyer if you’ve owned a home in the past. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has been helping people achieve their goal of homeownership since the 1930s. The FHA connects first-time homebuyers with lenders if the buyer meets certain criteria. Those criteria are:

  • Someone who hasn’t owned a home in the time previous three years. This includes spouses.

  • A single parent who previously owned a home with a former spouse, or a “displaced homemaker” who has only owned a home a former spouse.

  • People who have only owned homes that didn’t meet building code or a residence not fixed to a foundation.

The way the FHA helps buyers secure an affordable home loan is by insuring the mortgage. This makes it safer for lenders to approve you for a better rate for your home loan.

Veteran, Rural, and Native American Loan Programs

Aside from FHA loans, you might also qualify for a VA loan, a USDA program, or the Section 184 Indian Home Loan program.

VA loans from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs help veterans secure low-interest loans with affordable down payments. They will also help repeat veteran home buyers who have had financial difficulties in the past such as foreclosure and bankruptcy.

The Section 184 Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program works similarly to an FHA loan in that the federal government insures the loan so that the buyer can receive a better rate and lower down payment.

This program is designed for American Indian and Alaska Native families. However, not every state is eligible for the loan.

The United States Department of Agriculture is another federal department that offers mortgage assistance. You don’t need to be a farmer or have agricultural aspirations to be approved for a USDA loan. Rather, these loans are designed to help develop rural areas by offering loans with no down payments.

State, Local, and Private Programs

Each state in the United States offers various buyer’s assistance and incentive programs. Be on the lookout for programs specific to your area to find low-interest rates and affordable down payments.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other companies work with lenders to create affordable lending programs throughout the country. Remember to shop carefully when dealing with private lenders and look out for hidden costs.





Posted by Amanda Bruen on 11/21/2017

When you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you may be excited to find out that you can afford a lot more house than you thought you could. Don’t be so fast, this is just what you can get a loan for. The bank doesn’t know a lot of factors about your finances. While you most likely had to provide a ton of income verification statements and information in order to get this ballpark figure, relying solely on the pre-approval number can put you in a bind when it comes to your finances. Your lender doesn’t know certain things like how much you spend on groceries or how much your cell phone bill is each month. 


What Lenders Consider


Lenders look at the health of your credit history, how much income you have and how much debt you have. These are the big factors that tell your lender about how much house you can afford. Yet, your home lender is not your financial advisor and can’t help you with household expenses and the like. When thinking about what price range of home you really can afford, consider these factors beyond the bank:


Your Monthly Budget


Your spending habits will ultimately affect your ability to pay the monthly mortgage bill. If you’re spending all of your disposable income, then you may not be able to afford much at all beyond what you’re already paying for rent. You don’t want to stretch your finances so thin that you won’t be able to afford food! 


Owning A Home Requires Additional Costs


Lenders do factor into their number the cost of homeowner’s insurance and property taxes, but don’t consider other things like utility bills, trash pickup and home repairs. All this can certainly add up when you’re a homeowner! 


Your Savings Is Nonexistent


If you’re unable to save any money at all if you’re a homeowner, then you’ll be in trouble. You need money stashed away in case of unemployment or an emergency. You also may be planning for things like retirement and future costs like children’s education. For the initial purchase of a home, you’ll need upfront payments available for the down payment and closing costs. However, you’ll need some more savings beyond that for everything that life brings your way!  


You Have Big Plans


Are you thinking of quitting your job and heading out to start your own business? Now may not be the best time to buy a new house. These changes could have a huge impact on your finances and leave you unable to pay your mortgage. Your lender won’t be asking about these plans, so you’ll need to know what the future holds (for the most part ) in order to keep your own finances secure. 


The bottom line is that anything that could leave you financially stressed is not a good idea. Considering that buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make, you want to be sure that you keep your finances in check during the purchase process.  




Tags: budgeting   Mortgage   loans  
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Posted by Amanda Bruen on 11/7/2017

There’s many different myths about buying a home that may have been presented to you as fact. All of these rumors could have you believing that being a home owner is a dream. Here, we’ll debunk some of the most common misconceptions about home buying and give you the tools to solve any issues that you may come across in the process of securing a home loan.


If You Don’t Have 20% To Put Down On A Home, You Can’t Buy


Many conventional loans do require a 20% down payment on a home. There’s also many different loans available that may suit your needs. From Federal Housing Administration loans to Veteran’s programs to down payment assistance programs, there’s many different things that can be done to help you buy a home. Keep in mind that any time you put less than 20% down, you’ll need to provide additional mortgage insurance, also known as PMI or private mortgage insurance.  


If Your Credit Score Is Terrible You’re Out Of Luck

If you want really good mortgage rates, having great credit is very important. If your credit score is low, your rates tend to be much higher. A really low credit score could keep you from getting a loan completely. FHA loans allow you to still qualify for a loan with a credit score as low as 580.


You Need To Make Bank To Get Money From The Bank


Monthly annual income is just one of the factors that’s considered when it comes to getting a loan to purchase a home. Your debts matter just as much if not more. People with significant credit card debt and other loans may be denied a home loan even if they have a substantial income. 


You’re In The Clear If You’re Pre-Qualified


Pre-qualification is much different than pre-approval. Pre-qualification involves giving your lender basic information about your finances in order to estimate how much of a loan you can get. This will give you a ballpark figure of about how much you’ll be able to borrow. Of course, this is very helpful in the home search process, but you’re not done. To get pre-approved, you’ll need a complete mortgage application in order to have your complete financial background check and credit rating.  


If You’ve Met One Real Estate Agent, You’ve Met Them All


This couldn’t be further from the truth. Your relationship with your real estate agent is going to be quite close. You’ll need to share somewhat personal information in order to secure a house you’ll love. Agents are involved in one of the biggest decisions that you’ll ever make. Each agent has his or her specialties and knows different neighborhoods better than others. Definitely go with a real estate agent that you feel comfortable with and knows their stuff.  


Closing Costs Aren’t Your Responsibility


Sometimes, sellers do pay the closing costs in the sale of a home. It all depends upon how the negotiations go with the home. You’ll need to be prepared for upfront costs in buying a home. These include a credit check, attorney fees and property insurance. As a buyer, you’ll be paying anywhere between 2 and 5 percent of the purchase price of the home.  


It’s important to be prepared and to stay informed in order to make sound financial decisions throughout the process of purchasing a home. Everything will be that much more exciting when you have all of the pertinent information that you’ll need.




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Posted by Amanda Bruen on 8/29/2017

There’s numerous reasons why the name on a title to a home may not be the same as the name that’s on the mortgage loan. These reasons include:


  • Only one buyer had stable credit
  • Only one person was on the loan application
  • One person was released from the mortgage


No matter why this is the case, having your name on the mortgage but not on the title to a home can affect you and people residing in the home in different ways. 


Why Would Only One Name Be On The Mortgage?


If people are looking to get a home or refinance a home, but only one person has good credit a decision must be made. For the best possible mortgage rates, you’ll want to person with the best credit to be the primary loan holder. This may mean that you need additional legal documents in the process.  


The person with lower credit may still be able to have their name placed on the title to the home. Anyone who plans to contribute financially to a home, even if not on the mortgage, should place their name on the title. This would be one instance when a name would be on the title to a home and not on the mortgage loan. In this case, a person has property rights, but no legal-financial responsibility to the home. It’s important to agree on the home arrangement that you’re considering. This would be done through a will or a legal contract. This way, all parties are protected in regards to the ownership of the home should something happen to the individual whose name is on the mortgage.


Legal Things To Consider


Those who are listed on the mortgage are the people who are responsible for house payments. If a person’s name isn’t on the mortgage, it doesn’t release them from complete responsibility from the home. If your name is on the title to the home but not on the mortgage, the bank generally has first dibs on the home if there’s a lapse in payments. If you want to keep living in the house, you’ll have to keep making payments on the home. If you can’t make the mortgage payments, you’ll risk going into foreclosure. 


Taxes


An issue that can come up if your name is not on the mortgage is that you cannot use the home you’re living in as a tax deduction. Even if you make payments on the home, in order for you to get tax benefits, your name must be on the mortgage stating that you’re legally responsible for the home. If you are paying for the mortgage because your name appears on the title to the home, you aren’t legally entitled to pay, giving away your rights to tax benefits. If you’re married, filing jointly, and only one name appears on the mortgage, however, you can use this as a tax deduction. This becomes an issue if two unmarried people buy a home together.  


Ask For Legal Assistance


Whenever you have an issue with the title of your home or with names on the mortgage, it’s good to consult legal counsel. The attorney can assist you in determining who is legally responsible for the home and if the people listed on the title of the home are correct. This can help save you from trouble at a future date.


Since credit scores and loans can get messy at times during the home buying process, it’s good to understand all the implications of home mortgages and titles.




Tags: Mortgage   Buying a home  
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