Tag Archives: income

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.

Those Who Make Sense of Community

Those who earn more have a greater sense of community where they live and work.

This higher the income, the bigger percentage of people who feel in community, both where they live and where they work.

Making sense of community in real estate infographic

This infographic is from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS at CAR.org.

Money Monday: How you’ll benefit from the new tax deal

Parents, low-income families, students, teachers and mass commuters are among those who will benefit from a $760 billion tax deal that was signed into law on December 11, 2015.

taxes“The deal, which was combined with a $1.1 trillion spending package for 2016, is dominated by business tax breaks. But it also includes more than $250 billion worth of tax breaks for individuals”:

  • Bigger refund when you have kids.
  • More generous tuition tax credit.
  • Higher refund for low-income working families.
  • Fairer treatment for mass transit commuters.
  • Permanent deduction for residents of states without income taxes.
  • Teacher deduction made permanent.
  • Deduction for mortgage insurance premiums.
  • Income exclusion for mortgage debt that’s been forgiven.
  • Tuition tax deduction.

All information is from CNN Money; read the full article here: “How you’ll benefit from the new tax deal”.

 

5 myths about credit scores and mortgages

Remember that department-store card you signed up for to get an instant discount? Or the medical bill you didn’t pay on time?

What seem like minor moves could drive down your credit score, which factors in big time when you’re trying to finance your future home. Lenders look at how much you make, what you own and how much you’re able to put down — but your credit score also is a major factor.

“It’s four basic factors: income, assets, credit and the property itself,” said Chad Baker, a loan officer at Prime Lending, which has offices in the UTC area and Mission Valley.

“If anything is wrong with the four, then you will have problems,” he added. “If you need a higher down payment, then you can offset it with a gift from a friend or family member. But if you’ve exhausted everything (to fix your credit,) there’s nothing you can do. So, it’s extremely important.”

The good news: Certain credit-score issues can be fixed on your own at no cost as long as you understand a few financial basics — from paying bills on time to requesting your free credit reports. Those simple pointers could help you not only qualify for a mortgage but also save you up to thousands of dollars in the long run.

They can also make or break your chances in today’s tougher lending environment, which generally requires a bigger down payment and more proof of income than during the last housing boom.

A recent study shows the average credit score for someone who successfully closed any kind of mortgage in April was 745 (with 20 percent down). The findings, based on 20 percent of loan originations in the country, are from Ellie Mae, which provides services to the mortgage industry.

The U.S. average is 692, and California’s is 691, according to FICO, which rates consumers’ credit histories on a scale of 300 to 850. So, if you don’t have the 745 score cited in the Ellie Mae study, does that mean your chances of getting a mortgage are nil? No, mortgage insiders say. U-T San Diego busts that credit myth and others in this how-to guide:

Myth: Lenders are looking for one magic number.

Fact: The score range you should shoot for depends on what kind of mortgage you want…

Myth: There’s nothing I can do to change my credit score.

Fact: You have more control than you think. Changes all start with knowing what’s in your credit report…

Myth: Even if I do find an error in my credit report, it will take forever to correct.

Fact: You can get a rapid rescore done with the help of the lender…

Myth: I’ve never been late on any payment, so it’s a waste of time to check my score.

Fact: Errors in credit reports happen all the time…

Myth: The definitive source to get my free credit report is freecreditreport.com.

Fact: It’s actually annualcreditreport.com

Read U~T San Diego’s article in full here: “5 myths about credit scores and mortgages”.

Real estate tips to guard against losing your home

Real estate tips to guard against losing your home

Time and time again, home-buyer wannabes state that the reason they are still fence-sitting is that they don’t want to end up in the same trouble the last generation of homeowners did.

Well, there’s a very slim chance of that happening, given the changes in the market climate: Homes are at rock-bottom prices (not sky-high), and mortgage guidelines are so conservative it is nearly impossible to even find one of the zero-down, quick-to-adjust, stated-income mortgages of yesteryear.

With that said, though, there is a handful of rules today’s home buyers and homeowners can follow to dramatically minimize the chances they will ever face losing their homes:

1. Never a borrower or a lender be. OK, so maybe NEVER is strong, but you’d be surprised at how many foreclosed homeowners actually bought their homes with conservative loans and at low prices many years ago, but got into trouble taking new mortgages and pulling cash out at the top of the market (then not being able to refinance or make the adjusted payment at the bottom).

Today’s home buyers can avoid this fate by starting out their homeowning careers with some ground rules in place around borrowing against their homes.

A good (albeit conservative) place to start is this rule: Decide not to borrow against your home equity for anything but well-planned home improvements.

Here’s another one: Whatever you do, don’t borrow against your home to lend money to someone else. I’ve seen dozens of homeowners over the years borrow to make an “investment” in a friend’s business or to lend money to a child or a parent. Borrowing against your home’s equity to make an investment in a business you know nothing about is a complete gamble with your home. Don’t do it.

2. Stop financial codependency. Related to the rule of thumb about borrowing to lend is this change of the bad habit of financial codependency.

This comes up most often when homeowners borrow money against their home or tap into their emergency cash cushion (leaving themselves unable to make their mortgage payments if they lose their job, etc.) to help an adult child make their own mortgage payments or bail them out of another crisis situation.

It also comes up where one spouse supports another spouse’s habit of overspending, debting, underearning, gambling, or even substance abuse, and ends up going into a financial hole as a result. Over time, these cases can create the temptation or even desperation to further leverage your home, and can run through a savings account, leaving the homeowner exposed and vulnerable in the face of a temporary disability, job loss or recession.

There are a number of powerful books on the market about how to cease being codependent, but many people struggle to recognize they even have this issue until it’s too late. Here’s a hint: If you regularly use money to protect a loved one from the natural consequences of their behavior, you are engaging in codependent behavior.

3. Stay conscious. Going on money autopilot, without occasional check-ins, is the root of many financial woes. Many money experts recommend automating your monthly payments so that your recurring bills are paid on time, every time. And almost any homeowner will vouch that there are few bills that seem to come up as frequently as your mortgage!

The problem is that once you automate your payments, it’s very easy to fall into the habit of simply ignoring your actual statements — and they may contain information that flags issues before they snowball into serious problems.

One homeowner recently realized that through no fault of her own, and despite never having missed an auto-payment, her home was facing foreclosure — all because the bank had somehow erroneously started crediting her payments to someone else’s mortgage account!

Also, financial autopilot mode can support habits like overspending and overdebting; the minimum payments may always get made without much attention from you, but the overall balances will rear their ugly heads and possibly pose a threat to your ability to pay your mortgage, in the event you ever face a job loss, medical bills or other financial crisis.

4. Do your own math before you buy. Only you can know the full extent of your non-housing-related financial obligations and values. Things like catch-up retirement savings, tithing and charitable giving, private school tuition, medical costs and the like can take big chunks out of your monthly budget that your mortgage pro is not accounting for when he or she tells you how much of a mortgage you’re qualified to borrow.

So, before you ever speak with a mortgage broker, it’s up to you as a responsible buyer and adult to get a very clear understanding of your own personal income and expenses, assets and priorities, and to use that knowledge to decide how much you can afford to put down and to spend monthly for a home.

Fortunately, an increasing number of are buyers doing this, and actually choosing to buy a home that costs much less than they are technically qualified for.

5. Don’t buy a house to fix a family or psychological problem. Beware of “pulling a geographic” — moving to a new neighborhood or town to try to run from your problems and bad habits.

Experts caution against expecting the move to solve the problem on the grounds that, in the words of mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn, “wherever you go, there you are.” If you have bad habits in Chicago, moving to L.A. doesn’t purge the bad habits — only working on the actual dysfunction itself will do that.

There’s a real estate-specific version of pulling a geographic, which we’ll call “pulling a residential.” This is where people buy a home or buy a new home in an effort to cure a deeper family or psychological issue; sort of like that old (and equally bad) idea of having a baby to try to save your marriage.

If your children are fighting because they lack personal space, that’s one thing. But if there are deeper issues going on with your children, your family or your relationship (even your relationship with yourself), do not fantasize that owning a home or moving up is going to automatically solve them.

In fact, the opposite is often true: The larger the financial and maintenance obligations that come with a home, the more a mortgage and property taxes can add strain to already troubled relationships.

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

Six must-haves for mortgage approval

Interest rates are hovering around historical lows, and low interest rates increase affordability, making it easier for buyers to qualify. Yet stories of buyers waiting months to gain loan approval and home purchase transactions not closing on time due to lender’s strict underwriting are all too common.

Some buyers are turned down for illogical reasons. For instance, if you have investments — even if they’re performing well — an underwriter might deny the mortgage because your portfolio doesn’t fall into the underwriter’s risk assessment model.
checklist
One couple was turned down because the husband had worked at his current job for less than a year — even though he was making more money at the new job than he was before.

These buyers were well-qualified. The wife had worked several years for one employer and was able to qualify for the loan on her own. So, the transaction closed, although two months late.

Generally, it’s more difficult to qualify now than it was a year ago. Most conventional lenders require a 20-25 percent down payment. For the lowest interest rates, your credit scores need to be in the 700 range. You need to have verifiable income and cash reserves in addition to your down payment and closing costs.

You could run into underwriting problems if you’re self-employed, as W-2 income is much easier to verify. Other hurdles are lapses in employment and owning a lot of property. Some lenders won’t lend to buyers who have more than three or four residential properties.

If you’re buying a new home before selling your current home, you’ll need to have 30 percent equity in your current home. This needs to be verified by the lender’s appraiser. Also, the lender will want to see a copy of the cashed check from the tenant for the first month’s rent to verify rental income if needed to qualify.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: As soon as you’re serious about buying a home, find the best mortgage broker or loan agent you can to assist you. Don’t make your selection based on interest rates alone. A good track record counts for a lot.

Closing the deal should be your primary goal. If you have to pay 0.25 percent more to assure your transaction closes on time and that you’re not turned down at the last minute, it’s worth it.

Be candid with your loan professional about anything in your financial picture that might impact loan qualification. A good loan agent or broker will be able to assess your financial situation and anticipate what you’ll need to do to satisfy the underwriter.

Be aware that appraisal issues can impact your loan approval. For example, if a previous owner added square footage without a building permit, the additional square footage probably won’t be included as livable square feet.

If the appraisal comes in for less than the purchase price, the lender might not lend you enough to close the deal. Include an appraisal contingency in your contract.

There are more jumbo financing options available now. Adjustable-rate mortgages that are fixed for 10 years and then revert to an adjustable have a starting rate about 0.25 percent less than a 30-year fixed jumbo. A five-year fixed starts about 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent lower, but is riskier.

THE CLOSING: Because of the risk factor, the lender may want you to have a large cash reserve. Your retirement account counts toward this.

Dian Hymer is a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience and is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author.

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“.