Tag Archives: afford

Guest Post: Managing your finances before homeownership to save your home from a foreclosure

Managing your finances before homeownership to save your home from a foreclosure

Are you planning to purchase a new home? If yes, you have to buck up your finances so that you don’t fall in trouble in the near future and then risk losing your home to a forced foreclosure. Managing your finances is the most important job that you have to do when you plan to take out a home mortgage loan from a bank. The mortgage loan entails your home as collateral so that when the borrower defaults to make the payments on time, the lender can foreclose the house and recuperate the money. How much house can I afford is the most important question a borrower should ask himself before taking the plunge. Here are some important steps that you should take in order to manage your finances once you plan to take out a home loan.

  • Stop all the unnecessary expenses: Whenever you contemplate buying a new house and forget paying further rent, you should stop making all the unnecessary expenses that you can do without. If you don’t read magazines, stop the monthly subscriptions to magazines. If you can cook well, stop dining out every weekend as this will save your dollars in the long run. You can even do without the cable connection at home. If you can build an emergency fund, you can easily take out a mortgage loan at an affordable rate.
  • Stop using your credit cards: Are you aware of the fact that the mortgage lender will check your DTI ratio or the debt-to-income ratio that is the ratio between the total monthly debt obligations with your monthly income. If you keep on purchasing things with your credit cards, you’ll drown in unsecured debt and thereby be forced to take out a home mortgage loan at an unaffordable interest rate. Therefore, stuff your wallet with cash so that you may stop buying things when you’re exhausted.
  • Save enough money: Yes, this is the ultimate secret that will take you to the path of a smooth mortgage loan approval. The mortgage loan underwriter will check the amount you’re paying down while taking out the loan amount. The more you pay down, the lower will be the rate offered to you. You should save enough money so that you can at least pay down 20% of the loan amount and avoid paying PMIs later on.
  • Keep track on your credit score: Don’t take any wrong step that can hit your credit score. Pull out a copy of your credit score time to time so that you know where you stand financially. Repair your credit as much as possible so as to grab the best mortgage loan at the most covetable cost.

When you’re dreaming of homeownership, make sure you follow the money tips mentioned above. By taking all the tips mentioned above, you can get the most appropriate loan in accordance with your affordability. Don’t forget to ask yourself “how much house can I afford” before taking out the loan.

California housing affordability rises in Q3

California Building Industry AssociationHousing affordability increased in 22 of the state’s 28 metropolitan areas in the third quarter, according to the California Building Industry Association’s Housing Opportunity Index (HOI).

On a statewide basis, the HOI found that a family earning the median income could have afforded 63.5 percent of the new and existing homes that were sold during the third quarter, up from 61.3 percent in the second quarter.

The San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin County metro area was once again California’s least-affordable metro area for the twelfth consecutive quarter, and second in the nation, with just 32.9 percent of the homes sold being affordable to a family earning the median income, up from 27.5 percent in the second quarter. Orange County was California’s second least-affordable market and fifth in the nation (43 percent), followed by Los Angeles County (45.1 percent) and Santa Cruz County (47 percent).

Read the article from the California Building Industry Association here: “California Housing Affordability Rises in Third Quarter, CBIA Announces“.

Factoring energy efficiency into a home’s value

Under the SAVE (Sensible Accounting to Value Energy) Act, estimated energy-consumption expenses for a house would be included as a mandatory new underwriting factor.

When you apply for a mortgage to buy a house, how often does the lender ask detailed questions about monthly energy costs or tell the appraiser to factor in the energy-efficiency features of the house when coming up with a value?

Hardly ever. That’s because the big three mortgage players — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration, which together account for more than 90% of all loan volume — typically don’t consider energy costs in underwriting. Yet utility bills can be larger annual cash drains than property taxes or insurance — key factors in standard underwriting — and can seriously affect a family’s ability to afford a house.

energy efficientA new bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill could change all this dramatically and for the first time put energy costs and savings squarely into standard mortgage underwriting equations. A bill introduced Oct. 20 would force the three mortgage giants to take account of energy costs in every loan they insure, guarantee or buy. It would also require them to instruct appraisers to adjust their property valuations upward when accurate data on energy efficiency savings are available.

Titled the SAVE (Sensible Accounting to Value Energy) Act, the bill is jointly sponsored by Sens. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, and Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia. Here’s how it would work: Along with the traditional principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) calculations, estimated energy-consumption expenses for the house would be included as a mandatory new underwriting factor.

For most houses that have not undergone independent energy audits, loan officers would be required to pull data either from previous utility bills — in the case of refinancings — or from a Department of Energy survey database to arrive at an estimated cost. This would then be factored into the debt-to-income ratios that lenders already use to determine whether a borrower can afford the monthly costs of the mortgage. Allowable ratios probably would be adjusted to account for the new energy/utilities component.

For houses with significant energy-efficiency improvements already built in and documented with a professional audit such as a home energy rating system study, lenders would instruct appraisers to calculate the net present value of monthly energy savings — i.e., what that stream of future savings is worth today in terms of market price — and adjust the final appraised value accordingly. This higher valuation, in turn, could be used to justify a higher mortgage amount.

For example…

Read the rest of this article is by the Los Angeles Times: “Factoring energy efficiency into a home’s value“.

Five bright spots in the real estate recession

The real estate market meltdown was much more severe and has lasted much longer than even the most bearish housing market observer would ever have predicted. Rather than values taking a dip, they’ve taken a double dip in many places; and the housing sector drama has infected the job market and the entire world’s economy.

Yet, there are some very shiny silver linings to this whole mess — a handful of ways in which our mindsets, habits, behaviors and approaches to money, mortgage and even life decision-making — have been changed by this real estate market debacle. As I see it, here are the five best things about this housing recession:

1. People now buy for the long term

Even Jeff Lewis, that reality TV house flipper extraordinaire, has declared that he’s tapped out of the flipping business for the foreseeable future, trading in his real estate wheeling and dealing for the design business.

Recently, he mentioned having lost six homes in the real estate market crash.

While Lewis flipped homes as his business, just five years ago, many Americans — homeowners and investors alike — took a short-term view on their homes, buying them with the idea that they could count on refinancing, pulling cash out or even reselling them anytime they wanted, at a profit.
Reality check — those days are gone. Now, buyers know they’d better be prepared to stay put for somewhere between seven and 10 years (shorter in strong local markets, longer in foreclosure hot spots) before they buy if they want to break even. And this is causing them to take mortgages they can afford over time, and make smarter, longer-term choices about the homes they buy.

2. Dysfunctional properties are being weeded out and creatively reused

real estate market recessionMunicipalities like Detroit and Cleveland are demolishing blighted and decrepit properties in dead neighborhoods en masse, intentionally shrinking their cities to match their shrinking populations. These efforts are also eliminating breeding grounds for crime, and focusing resources on the neighborhoods that have a better chance of surviving and thriving in the long term.

In the so-called “slumburbias” of central California, Nevada and Arizona, McMansions are being repurposed into affordable housing for groups of seniors, artist communities and group homes.

3. American housing stock is getting an energy-efficient upgrade

The news would have you believe that every American has lost his or her home, walked away from it, or is now renting by choice. In fact, the vast majority of homeowners have simply decided to stay put.

Instead of selling and moving on up, homeowners are improving the homes they now plan to stay in for a long(er) haul. And this generation of remodeling is focused less on granite and stainless steel, and more on lowering the costs of “operating” the home and taking advantage of tax credits for installing energy-efficient doors, windows, water heaters and more. And while the first-time homebuyer tax credit is a thing of the past, the homeowner tax credits for energy-optimizing upgrades are in effect until the end of this year.

4. People are making more responsible mortgage decisions, and building financial good habits in the process

Buyers are buying far below the maximum purchase prices for which they are approved. They are reading their loan disclosures and documents before they sign them. And, thanks to the stingy mortgage market, they are spending months, even years, in the planning and preparation phases before they buy: paying down their debt; saving up for a down payment (and a cash cushion, so that a job loss wouldn’t be disastrous); being responsible and sparing in their use of credit to optimize their FICO scores; and creating strong financial habits in one fell swoop.

5. Our feelings about debt and equity have been reformed

Americans no longer use their homes like ATMs, to pull out cash, pay off their credit cards and then start the whole overspending cycle over again. Many can’t, because their homes are upside down and cannot be refinanced in any event — much less to pull cash out.

Others have been reality-checked by the recession, and are dealing with their non-mortgage debt the old fashioned way: by ceasing the pattern of spending more than they make, and applying the self-discipline it takes to pay their bills off.

Home equity, in general, is no longer viewed as an inexhaustible source of cash. Rather, we see it as a fluctuating asset to be protected and increased — not so much through the vagaries of the market, but through the hard work of paying the principal balance down. Many of those refinancing into today’s lower rates aren’t doing it to pull cash out, as was the norm at the top of the market; instead, they are refinancing into 15-year loans to pay their homes off sooner than planned, or reducing their required payment so their extra savings can be applied to principal.

Of course, it remains to be seen how lasting these changes will be if and when home prices go up and mortgage guidelines loosen up. But since neither of these things look likely to happen in the short term, hopefully there’s a chance that these behavior shifts will become part of a permanent mindset reset for American housing consumers.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is an author and the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com. ClientDirect.net.