Tag Archives: refinance

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: Time to Refinance Your Mortgage?

Time to Think About Refinancing Your Mortgage?

Source: NY Times

refinancing your homeDue to shifts in global bond markets, the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.49 percent Monday, which is down from 4.2 percent a year ago and 3.9 percent at the start of 2016. As a result, now may a good time to check the rate on your home mortgage, because borrowers could save money by refinancing. For that, American homeowners can thank British voters, central banks in Europe and Japan, and a global economy that just can’t get out of first gear. Furthermore, mortgage rates could fall further in the weeks ahead as banks start to pass more of the savings from low rates in the bond market through to customers.

Read the full story here.

Clean Up Your Credit for the New Year

Your credit score has a big impact on just about everything you do, from being approved for a credit card to buying a house.

refinancing your homeTo ensure you enter the New Year with the best credit score possible – or are at least on your way there – follow these six ways to manage home-related spending. Continue reading

San Diego foreclosures at 6-year low

San Diego County closed out 2012 with foreclosures at their lowest level in six years, says a report released Wednesday from local real estate information company DataQuick.

foreclosuresThe consistent drop in the number of people losing their homes to bank repossessions appears to be a product of an economy on the mend, increasing home values and government-led deals with major banks that promise borrowers alternatives to foreclosure, DataQuick officials said.

December foreclosures plummeted to 355, the lowest level since December 2006, when 288 were recorded. December’s total is nearly 18 percent lower than November’s and half of December 2011’s.

Default notices, the first official filing in the foreclosure process, totaled 878. That’s up 7.2 percent from November but down nearly 30 percent from the same month a year ago…

Read the rest of this article by U-T San Diego here: “San Diego foreclosures at 6-year low”.

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.

Low Rates, High Obstacles to Refinancing Mortgage

As interest rates have slid over the past couple of years, Gabriel Bousbib of Englewood, N.J., refinanced his 15-year mortgage not once, but twice-cutting his interest rate in two steps from about 4.6 percent to 3.375 percent.

He’s one of a number of homeowners who refinanced just a year or two ago, but decided it was worth considering again as mortgage rates hit record lows-now averaging around 4 percent for a 30-year loan.

refinancing your home“When you’re quoting rates in the high 3s, people are saying, ‘It’s worth it to me,'” says Steve Hoogerhyde, executive vice president at Clifton Savings Bank.

“My monthly savings are going down a few hundred dollars; it adds up over 15 years,” said Bousbib, a financial services executive. “And if rates keep going down, I would refinance again.”

Refinance applications have more than doubled over the past year, though they’re not as high as in previous refinancing booms because it’s harder to qualify in the current atmosphere of tighter credit standards, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. With the volume of home purchases still low, refinancing accounts for about 80 percent of recent activity.

Although the old guideline used to be that you should consider refinancing only when rates drop at least 2 percentage points, the new wisdom is that it can be worthwhile even with smaller drops.

“For most people, if you can shave three-quarters of a percentage point off your interest rate, it’s worth looking at,” says Greg McBride, an analyst with Bankrate.com, a personal finance website.

For homeowners who plan to stick with the same loan term and want to lower their monthly payments, the math is straightforward. Find out how much it will cost to refinance, figure out how much you’ll save each month and then how long it will take to break even. If you can save enough to offset the refinancing costs within a year or two-or even longer if you expect to stay in the house for a number of years-it’s worth considering.

Though low-interest rates are eye-poppingly low, the refinancing climate has changed from the easy-money days of five years ago. Generally, to get the best rates, homeowners need a 740 FICO credit score, well above the median score of 711. They also usually need at least 10 to 20 percent equity in the property. A recent expansion in the federal Home Affordable Refinance Program should allow refinancing this year by more so-called underwater borrowers – those who owe more than their homes are worth.

Lenders are also demanding much more documentation – including pay stubs, tax returns and bank statements – than they did five years ago, at the insistence of government regulators as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which buy mortgages from lenders.

“You have to have a taste for doing paperwork,” says Keith Gumbinger of HSH Associates, a Pompton Plains, N.J., company that tracks mortgage data. “You’re going to be asked for lots of documents. No one loves the process to begin with, and in today’s environment, it’s even less palatable.”

These stricter requirements are simply a return to the kind of underwriting standards that prevailed before lending standards slackened a few years back, leading to the housing bust and foreclosure crisis, McBride says.

“We’re in this mess because money was too easy to get,” he says.

Refinancing costs roughly $3,000, according to several mortgage companies. That covers costs like an appraisal, title insurance, application fees, attorney’s fees and recording the mortgage. Some lenders also offer low- or no-cost options, which they can do by either adding the closing costs to the mortgage amount or charging a slightly higher interest rate.

Bousbib, for example, took a no-cost refinance with Equity Now, a New York-based lender that also lends in New Jersey. “It didn’t cost me a penny,” he says. Equity Now says it charges a slightly higher interest rate on no-cost loans.

Lowering the monthly payment is not the only reason people are refinancing. Many are shifting from a 30-year loan to shorter terms, said Matthew Gratalo of Real Estate Mortgage Network in River Edge, N.J. He has worked with clients in their 40s who hate the thought of carrying a mortgage into retirement.

“They’re looking ahead and saying, ‘I don’t want to pay a mortgage forever; can I get this done in 15 years? Can I be done with this and have it paid off?’ ” Gratalo says.

“Certainly shortening the term makes a lot of sense because you can cut years of mortgage payments,” says Carl Nielsen of Mortgage Master Inc.’s Wayne office.

Nielsen, for example, recently talked to a customer with a $375,000, 30-year mortgage at 4.5 percent. The customer is considering a 20-year mortgage at 3.75 percent. His monthly payments would go from $1,900 to about $2,223, but by shortening the life of the loan, he’ll save more than $150,000 in interest payments.

“That’s kind of a no-brainer,” says Nielsen.

Sources: Greg McBride, Bankrate.com ©2012 The Record (Hackensack, N.J.), Distributed by RISMedia and MCT Information Services.

More mortgage relief from the White House – but congressional ‘ok’ doubtful

Mortgage reliefAn summary update (by CAR.org) on the mortgage relief plan by the federal government, covering an article by The Mercury News:

In his State of the Union Address, President Obama laid out a plan to help responsible borrowers and support a housing market recovery. Details of that plan were released yesterday. However, funding for the proposed program must be approved by Congress, lowering the possibility that it will be implemented quickly. Making sense of the story:

  • Operated by the Federal Housing Administration, the plan would allow underwater homeowners to refinance into cheaper federally insured loans. Borrowers with good credit who are current on their loan payments are eligible.
  • The measure also streamlines the process of refinancing an underwater mortgage, eliminating the need for an appraisal or submitting a new tax return.
  • To qualify, borrowers must be current on their mortgage, have a minimum credit score of 580, and must be refinancing a loan on a single-family owner-occupied principal residence.
  • Lenders only need to confirm that the borrower is employed. Loans that are more than 140 percent of the home value probably would not qualify until banks wrote down part of the balance.
  • Congress must approve $5 billion to $10 billion in funding, leading housing experts to praise the plan’s objectives with skepticism of it passing this year.

Read the full story from The Mercury News here: “More mortgage relief from the White House – but congressional ‘ok’ doubtful.”

Mortgage Reform, Refinance, Really?

My Thoughts on the Current Real Estate Market: Mortgage Reform, Refinance, Really?

With interest rates at the lowest rate in history, and foreclosures bursting through the ceiling still at this writing, I ask myself, why is this still happening?  How does the 1-in-4 upside-down homeowner out there, staring at their bank and scratching their head, get help to avoid walking away?

The empty promises, or the so-called “helping hand” being offered by the banks and the government, is still a joke to say the least. For the people who sold their home in recent years, they are in a position to buy or have already bought another home and recovered from that stress of “What do I do?” while taking advantage of the low interest rates and prices.

upside-downIt still is not too late to make that leap and start over–because the faster you do, the faster you will recover. Property values are not expected to go anywhere for at least two more years, and the laws for selling short sales that protect homeowners will expire at the end of this year. Laws allow a purchase after two years of selling a short sale. With a consultation with me and strategy, you could pay off most of your unsecured debt, while not paying your mortgage. This can only be done with someone who has had experience with this. I have done this with clients that have recouped while living in their home for over 3 years without paying a mortgage.

The latest reform laws are offering a glimmer of hope; however, when and how these guidelines are implemented by the banks and government is clear to not happen for awhile.  The state governments will have to also be on board. At this time, California is weighing the settlement being offered for unlawful foreclosure practices from five of the larger banks that have agreed to pay a settlement.

My opinion is that any settlement should accompany a mandate that the banks must reduce every upside-down property out there to fair market values, to allow the homeowner an opportunity to keep their home; granted that the home is not dilapidated to the point that the owner does not have the funds to repair the home or care for it after the refinance. This exclusion is warranted to the extent that a home that is in bad shape is only dropping or keeping the values low in the neighborhood and should be taken care of. In a perfect world, the banks would allow the homeowner funds after the refinance to repair the home–heck, let’s go for it all!

As always, my gratitude to you for reading my blog.  Please share your opinions or questions–I look forward to any questions I can answer or help I can give!

John A. Silva, Realtor

(619) 890-3648 | www.JohnASilva.com