Category Archives: Personal Finance

Money Monday: Mortgage Lenders are Trying to Make it Easier to Buy

As prices rise, mortgage lenders are making it easier to buy a house.

mortgage rates and property taxes

Source: Los Angeles Times

Some prices are rising across the country and mortgage rates, though still historically low, are up since the presidential election.

Simply put, buying a home isn’t easy, especially in high-cost metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles County, where the median price of a home hit $569,000 in June.

But changes in the mortgage industry are afoot, with the goal of loosening some of the strict standards established after the subprime crisis — rules some blame for impeding sales.

“The reality has sunk in that there are buyers out there who will be able to buy homes and make the mortgage payments,” said William E. Brown, the president of the National Assn. of Realtors. The industry is “trying to give them more options to buy a house.”

Government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are paving the way by rolling out new programs to encourage home ownership.

The companies, with their congressional mandate to promote home ownership, don’t originate loans, but purchase mortgages from lenders to keep the market moving. And any changes they make in the underwriting standards for the loans they buy can have a big effect.

Read the full story

Money Monday: 4 Things to do before retiring

Make sure you prepare for retirement by doing these four things before you actually retire from the workforce:

save money

Photo by 401kcalculator.org

  1. Save up enough to cover at least three months’ worth of living expenses
  2. Pay off your house mortgage
  3. Get rid of all credit card debt first
  4. Amass a large enough nest egg to replace 80% of your yearly income”

Read more about these four financial tips at Money.CNN.com.

Money Monday: Easy ways to save money

“While accumulating a large chunk of cash isn’t likely to happen overnight, if you start small, you can gradually build your savings so that you have a financial safety net in place. With that goal in mind, here are 10 ways you can save $300 a month — without having to make yourself utterly miserable in the process.”

save money

Photo by 401kcalculator.org

  1. Refinance your mortgage
  2. Lower your housing costs
  3. Do it yourself
  4. Entertain yourself for free (often there’s some great free events happening in San Diego County!)
  5. Get a side job

This tips and quote is from CNN — find out five other ways you can easily save money here, on CNN’s article: “10 ridiculously easy ways to save $300 a month.”

Money Monday: Homeownership rates affected by student debts

Student debts have seemed to affect homeownership rates, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

student loan debt

About 32% of those in their 20s owned a home in 2007, but that’s fallen drastically to 21% in 2016.

While the poor labor market and memories of the housing bubble certainly played a role, student debt can explain up to 35% of the decline, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released Thursday.

The results suggest that the rise in college costs will result in “weaker spending and wealth accumulation among young consumers in the years to come.”

It’s consistent with surveys that have asked those with student debt if it affected their decision to buy a home. Half of those under the age of 35 surveyed by the National Association of Realtors in 2016 said it had delayed their purchase. And 25% told Pew Research Center that student loans had made it harder to buy a home in 2011.

Read more of CNN’s article here: “Yes, student debt is delaying homeownership.”

Money Monday: Money terms and what they mean

It’s easy to be confused by all the different finance and money terms out there. Here are a few terms common to real estate:

Escrow

Escrow is a safe, intermediary account for money when it’s moving between a buyer and seller. Placing funds there tells the seller: “I’m serious about this deal and I can pay.” During the time the down-payment is in escrow, a homebuyer can take care of due diligence, including a home inspection. If it turns out something is off about the house — like structural damage — the buyer can pull out.

You can also escrow money (yes, it’s a noun or verb) for fees beyond your mortgage, like property tax and mortgage and homeowners insurance. Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages, for example, require escrow accounts. (“Money terms you’re too embarrassed to ask about.” 

APR

Even if you already know that APR means “annual percentage rate,” you might not understand what it is. Lenders are required to disclose the APR when lending, which is great for transparency…

The APR is the rate charged annually for borrowing money. But unlike an interest rate, it includes fees and other costs the transaction may include. So the APR is usually higher than the nominal interest rate. Also, unlike annual percentage yield (APY), the APR doesn’t take into account compounding interest. (“Money terms you’re too embarrassed to ask about.” 

Read up on more financial and money terms here, on Money.CNN.com: “Money terms you’re too embarrassed to ask about.”

Money Monday: Renters can buy

Even in California, buying can be more affordable than renting.

Renters That Can Buy

This infographic is from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS.

Home Equity

Homeowners are tapping into equity

Because of the rising home prices, homeowners are cashing into their home equity.

This infographic is from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS.

Money Monday: Don’t make these homebuying mistakes

When venturing into shopping and buying a home, avoid some common mistakes:

home buyer regrets

  1. Interviewing only one lender
  2. Not getting pre-approved right away
  3. Maxing out your mortgage limit
  4. Letting your dreams and emotions dictate which house you purchase
  5. Waiving contingencies without understanding just what that means

More tips for homebuyers are available in CNN’s article here: “7 first-time homebuyer mistakes to avoid”.