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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Mortgages

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Mortgages:

 

Applying for a mortgage can be a complex and confusing process, and it’s normal to have questions. To help you navigate the mortgage process, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and their answers:

 

  1. How much of a down payment do I need?

The amount of a down payment you need depends on the type of mortgage you are applying for. For a conventional mortgage, you will typically need a down payment of at least 3-5% of the home’s purchase price. For an FHA loan, the minimum down payment is 3.5%. However, for a VA or USDA loan, there is no down payment required.

 

  1. What is the difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification?

Pre-approval is a more formal process than pre-qualification. When you get pre-approved, a lender will evaluate your financial situation and provide you with an estimate of how much they are willing to lend you. On the other hand, pre-qualification is less formal and does not involve as much documentation. It can give you a rough idea of how much you might be able to borrow, but it is not a guarantee of approval.

 

  1. What is an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)?

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is a type of mortgage in which the interest rate can change over time. The interest rate is typically fixed for a certain period of time, after which it will adjust based on market conditions. ARMs can be a good option for borrowers who plan to sell their home or refinance before the interest rate adjusts.

 

  1. What is a fixed-rate mortgage?

A fixed-rate mortgage is a type of mortgage in which the interest rate remains the same for the life of the loan. This can provide borrowers with predictability and stability, but the interest rate may be higher than that of an adjustable-rate mortgage.

 

  1. How do I know which type of mortgage is right for me?

The type of mortgage that is right for you depends on your personal circumstances and financial goals. Consider factors such as your credit score, income, and the size of your down payment when deciding which type of mortgage is right for you. It’s also important to talk to your Helping Hands mortgage loan officer who can help you understand the pros and cons of different mortgage options.

 

  1. What is a mortgage rate lock? A mortgage rate lock is an agreement between a lender and a borrower that guarantees a specific interest rate for a certain period of time. This can be useful for rate-conscious borrowers who want to lock in a desired rate. It is also recommended in rate-increasing markets.

 

  1. What is mortgage insurance? Mortgage insurance is a type of insurance that lenders require borrowers to purchase if they are unable to make a large down payment. Mortgage insurance protects the lender in the event that the borrower defaults on the loan.

 

  1. What is a mortgage broker and what do they do?

A mortgage broker is a professional who acts as an intermediary between borrowers and lenders. They can help borrowers find the best mortgage products that match their needs and qualifications, and they can also help with the application process. A broker can also shop around to multiple lenders to find the best rates and terms for a borrower. Helping Hands is a mortgage broker. We have access to more products and options than your typical bank.

 

By understanding the answers to these frequently asked questions, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the mortgage process and find the right loan for you. Remember, the key is to be informed, ask questions and seek guidance from your expert loan officer from Helping Hands!

 

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Explaining Mortgage Terms and Terminology

Explaining Mortgage Terms and Terminology

If you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage, you may have come across some unfamiliar terms and jargon. Understanding these terms is crucial to making informed decisions about your mortgage, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the language of the industry.

Here are some common mortgage terms and their meanings:

  • Principal: This is the amount of money you borrow from your lender. Your monthly mortgage payments will go towards paying off both the principal and the interest.
  • Interest: Interest is the fee you pay your lender for borrowing money. The interest rate on your mortgage will determine how much you pay in interest over the life of your loan.
  • APR: The APR (annual percentage rate) is the total cost of your mortgage, including both the interest and any fees, expressed as a yearly rate. The APR is a good way to compare the overall cost of different mortgage offers.
  • Pre-approval: Pre-approval is a process in which a lender evaluates your financial situation and provides you with an estimate of how much they are willing to lend you. Pre-approval can make you a more competitive buyer when you’re ready to make an offer on a home.
  • Pre-qualification: Pre-qualification is similar to pre-approval, but it is less formal and does not involve as much documentation. Pre-qualification can give you a rough idea of how much you might be able to borrow, but it is not a guarantee of approval.
  • Closing costs: Closing costs are fees associated with getting a mortgage, such as appraisal fees, attorney’s fees, and title insurance. These costs are typically paid at the closing meeting, when you sign the mortgage documents and take ownership of your home.
  • Escrow: Escrow is a process in which a third party holds onto funds or documents related to a transaction, such as the down payment on a home. The funds or documents are released when certain conditions are met, such as the completion of a home inspection.

By understanding these and other mortgage terms, you can feel more confident and prepared as you navigate the mortgage process. Don’t be afraid to ask your Helping Hands Loan Officer for clarification if you come across a term you don’t understand – they are there to help you!

 

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Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year

Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year

Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year | MyKCM

There’s no denying the financial benefits of homeownership, but what’s often overlooked are the feelings of gratitude, security, pride, and comfort we get from owning a home. This year, those emotions are stronger than ever. We’ve lived through a time that has truly changed our needs and who we are, and as a result, homeownership has a whole new meaning for many of us.

According to the 2021 State of the American Homeowner report by Unison:

“Last year, staying home became a necessity and that caused many homeowners to have renewed gratitude for the roof over their head.”

As a nation, we continue to work through the challenges of a pandemic that’s pushed us all to new limits. Over the past year and a half, we’ve spent more time than ever at home: working, eating, schooling, exercising, and more. The world around us changed almost overnight, and our homes were redefined. Our needs shifted, and our shelters became a place that protected us on a whole new level. The same study from Unison notes:

  • 91% of homeowners say they feel secure, stable, or successful owning a home
  • 64% of American homeowners say living through a pandemic has made their home more important to them than ever
  • 83% of homeowners say their home has kept them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s no surprise this study also reveals that homeowners are now more emotionally attached to their homes as well:Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year | MyKCMAs we’ve learned throughout this health crisis, homeownership can provide the safety and security we crave in a time of uncertainty. That sense of connection and emotional stability genuinely reaches beyond just the financial aspect of owning a home. As JD Esajian, President of CT Homes, LLCsays:

“Aside from the financial factors, there are several social benefits of homeownership and stable housing to consider. It has long been thought that buying a home contributes to a sense of accomplishment. Still, most individuals fail to realize that homeownership can benefit your mental health and the community around you.”

Whether you’re thinking of buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing to something that better fits your changing lifestyle, take a moment to reflect on what Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, notes:

“Buying a home is not just a financial decision. It’s also a lifestyle decision.”

Bottom Line

If you’re considering buying a home, it’s not entirely about the dollars and cents. Don’t forget to weigh the non-financial benefits that may truly change your life when you need them most.

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Tips for Single Homebuyers: How To Make Your Dream a Reality

Tips for Single Homebuyers: How To Make Your Dream a Reality

Tips for Single Homebuyers: How To Make Your Dream a Reality | MyKCM

If you’re living on your own and looking to buy a home, know that you can make your dream a reality with thoughtful planning and the right team of experts. Research from Freddie Mac shows 28% of all households (36.1 million) are sole-person, and that number is growing. Over the past 40 years, the number of sole-person households has nearly doubled, and that’s a trend that’s expected to continue. According to Freddie Mac:

Our calculation suggests that there will be an additional 5 million sole-person households in the United States by the next decade. This means 42% of the household growth will be contributed by sole-person households, . . .”

If you fall into this category, here are three tips to help you achieve your homeownership goals.

1. Know Your Credit Score

When you buy a home on your own, you have to qualify for your loan based solely on your own finances and credit history. Investopedia says:

“. . . lenders will be looking at just one credit profile: yours. Needless to say, it has to be in great shape. It is always a good idea to review your credit report beforehand, and this is especially true of solo buyers.”

It’s important to find out your score so you know where it falls. If you’re not sure if it’s strong enough or where to focus your energy to improve it, meet with a professional for expert advice on your individual situation.

2. Explore Down Payment Options

Next, look into down payment programs so you can get a feel for what you’ll need to save to buy a home. Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resourceexplains:

“Buyers should discuss their program options with their loan officer and real estate agent to make sure they choose the program best suited to their personal needs.”

In this step, lean on the pros to determine what you’re eligible for and what’s right for you.

3. Think About Your Future Home and Your Needs

You should also spend time thinking about what you want. What type of home do you picture yourself in? To answer that question, Quicken Loans shares this advice:

Think about your lifestyle, what you want out of your home and your needs. Is being close to work important? Do you need a lot of yard space? Do you want an extra bedroom that you can transform into a home office? Condo or detached home? Lots of space for entertaining? It’s all up to you (and your budget).”

Again, a professional can help you balance what you want and how much you should spend on your monthly housing costs to determine what type of home is right for you.

While buying a home solo can feel like a big challenge, it doesn’t have to be. If you lean on the professionals, they can help you navigate these waters and make sure you’re able to take advantage of the great opportunities in today’s housing market (like low mortgage rates) to buy your dream home.

Bottom Line

The share of sole-person households is growing. If you’re looking to buy a home on your own, be confident that the dream is achievable. When you’re ready to begin your search, let’s connect so you have expert advice each step of the way.

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As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth

As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth | MyKCM

Homeownership is still a crucial part of the American dream. For those people who own a home (and those looking to buy one), it’s clear that being a homeowner has considerable benefits both emotionally and financially. In addition to long-term stability, buying a home is one of the best ways to increase your net worth. This boost to your wealth comes in the form of equity.

Equity is the difference between what you owe on the home and its market value based on factors like price appreciation.

The best thing about equity is that it often grows without you even realizing it, especially in a sellers’ market like we’re in now. In today’s real estate market, the combination of low housing supply and high buyer demand is driving home values up. This is giving homeowners a significant equity boost.

According to the latest data from CoreLogic, the amount of equity homeowners have has continued to grow as home values appreciate. Here are some key takeaways from the Homeowner Equity Insights Report:

  • The average homeowner gained $51,500 in equity over the past year
  • There was a 29.3% increase in national homeowner equity year over year

To give you an idea of what that looks like in your area, the map below shows the average equity gains by state.As Home Equity Rises, So Does Your Wealth | MyKCM

What does all of that mean for you?

If you’re already a homeowner, you likely have more equity in your house than you realize. The numbers in the map above reflect year-over-year growth. If you’ve been in your home for longer than a year, you’ll likely have even more equity than that. That equity can take you places. You can use the equity you’ve gained to fuel your next move, achieve other life goals, and more.

On the other hand, if you haven’t purchased a home yet, understanding equity can help you realize why homeownership is a worthwhile goal. Homeowners across the nation gained an average of over $50,000 in equity this year. Don’t miss out on this chance to grow your net worth.

Bottom Line

If you want to learn more, let’s connect. A trusted advisor can help you understand where home prices are today, how they contribute to a homeowner’s net worth, and the impact equity can have when you own a home.

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Pre-Approval Makes All the Difference When Buying a Home

You may have been told that it’s important to get pre-approved at the beginning of the homebuying process, but what does that really mean, and why is it so important? Especially in today’s market, with rising home prices and high buyer competition, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your budget so you stand out to sellers as a serious homebuyer.

Being intentional and competitive are musts when buying a home right now. Pre-approval from a lender is the only way to know your true price range and how much money you can borrow for your loan. Just as important, being able to present a pre-approval letter shows sellers you’re a qualified buyer, something that can really help you land your dream home in an ultra-competitive market.

With limited housing inventory, there are many more buyers active in the market than there are sellers, and that’s creating some serious competition. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes are receiving an average of 5.1 offers for sellers to consider. As a result, bidding wars are more and more common. Pre-approval gives you an advantage if you get into a multiple-offer scenario, and these days, it’s likely you will. When a seller knows you’re qualified to buy the home, you’re in a better position to potentially win the bidding war.

Freddie Mac explains:

“By having pre-approval letter from your lender, you’re telling the seller that you’re a serious buyer, and you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage by your lender for a specific dollar amount. In a true bidding war, your offer will likely get dropped if you don’t already have one.”

Every step you can take to gain an advantage as a buyer is crucial when today’s market is constantly changing. Interest rates are low, prices are going up, and lending institutions are regularly updating their standards. You’re going to need guidance to navigate these waters, so it’s important to have a team of professionals such as a loan officer and a trusted real estate agent making sure you take the right steps and can show your qualifications as a buyer when you find a home to purchase.

Bottom Line

In a competitive market with low inventory, a pre-approval letter is a game-changing piece of the homebuying process. Not only does being pre-approved bring clarity to your homebuying budget, but it shows sellers how serious you are about purchasing a home.

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Where Do Experts Say the Housing Market Is Heading?

 

As we enter the middle of 2021, many are wondering if we’ll see big changes in the housing market during the second half of this year. Here’s a look at what some experts have to say about key factors that will drive the industry and the economy forward in the months to come.

realtor.com

“. . . homes continue to sell quickly in what’s normally the fastest-moving time of the year. This is in contrast with 2020 when homes sold slower in the spring and fastest in September and October. While we expect fall to be competitive, this year’s seasonal pattern is likely to be more normal, with homes selling fastest from roughly now until mid-summer.”

National Association of Realtors (NAR)

Sellers who have been hesitant to list homes as part of their personal health safety precautions may be more encouraged to list and show their homes with a population mostly vaccinated by the mid-year.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com

“Surveys showed that seller confidence continued to rise in April. Extra confidence plus our recent survey finding that more homeowners than normal are planning to list their homes for sale in the next 12 months suggest that while we may not see an end to the sellers’ market, we might see the intensity of the competition diminish as buyers have more options to choose from.”

Freddie Mac

We forecast that mortgage rates will continue to rise through the end of next year. We estimate the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will average 3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2021, rising to 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2022.”

Bottom Line

Experts are optimistic about the second half of the year. Let’s connect today to talk more about the conditions in our local market.

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Do I Really Need a 20% Down Payment to Buy a Home?

Is the idea of saving for a down payment holding you back from buying a home right now? You may be eager to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates, but the thought of needing a large down payment might make you want to pump the brakes. Today, there’s still a common myth that you have to come up with 20% of the total sale price for your down payment. This means people who could buy a home may be putting their plans on hold because they don’t have that much saved yet. The reality is, whether you’re looking for your first home or you’ve purchased one before, you most likely don’t need to put 20% down. Here’s why.

According to Freddie Mac:

“The most damaging down payment myth—since it stops the homebuying process before it can start—is the belief that 20% is necessary.”

If saving that much money sounds daunting, potential homebuyers might give up on the dream of homeownership before they even begin – but they don’t have to.

Data in the 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) indicates that the median down payment actually hasn’t been over 20% since 2005, and even then, that was for repeat buyers, not first-time homebuyers. As the image below shows, today’s median down payment is clearly less than 20%.

What does this mean for potential homebuyers?

As we can see, the median down payment was lowest for first-time buyers with the 2020 percentage coming in at 7%. If you’re a first-time buyer and putting down 7% still seems high, understand that there are programs that allow qualified buyers to purchase a home with a down payment as low as 3.5%. There are even options like VA loans and USDA loans with no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

It’s important for potential homebuyers (whether they’re repeat or first-time buyers) to know they likely don’t need to put down 20% of the purchase price, but they do need to do their homework to understand the options available. Be sure to work with trusted professionals from the start to learn what you may qualify for in the homebuying process.

Bottom Line

Don’t let down payment myths keep you from hitting your homeownership goals. If you’re hoping to buy a home this year, let’s connect to review your options.