VA Streamline Refinance Loan

Mortgage Rates are at Historic Lows. Start saving money now on your VA Home Loan!

Minneapolis, MN: If you are a veteran, you are eligible for a great benefit, the VA Home Loan. If you currently have a VA Home Loan, you may qualify for another great benefit, the VA Streamline Refinance Loan.

Officially known as The Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL), it is one of the easiest refinance loans available today.  The VA Streamline Refinance is the second best programs offered to you through your housing benefits from the Veterans Affairs (the first was buying the home with a VA Home Loan!)

Potential NO Appraisal (upside down might be OK)
Lower Credit Scores
NO Qualifying Debt Ratios
NO Income Verification
NO Out of Pocket Expenses

A good local VA Mortgage Leader will show you how to utilize your Certificate of Eligibility and lower your rate and start saving money today.

VA guaranteed Loans are originated by private approved and authorized lenders. VA Mortgage Home Loans must be used for their own personal occupancy. The VA will guarantee a portion of the mortgage to the lender reducing their risk and allowing opportunity for lower interest rates. The VA Guaranty minimizes the risk to the lender which results in better financing terms.


Tips for successful refinancing

TIPS FOR REFINANCING

Minneapolis, MN:  As homeowners rush to take advantage of the new HARP program and some of the lowest mortgage rates in history, it’s easy for them to get lost in the refinance stampede. That’s why it has never been so crucial for borrowers to understand the refinance game, and how to make the most of their application.

LENDERS OVERWHELMED
First, understand most lenders are overwhelmed with the high volume of refinance applications they have received since mortgage rates recently tumbled. Loans that went from application to closing in 30-days, are now running at least 45 days, and for most banks, upwards of 90-days. Online applications that were looked at within hours, now may take a few days before the lender calls you back.

MAKE GOOD LENDER CHOICES
Your mortgage lender choice is more important than most people realize. Generally speaking we suggest you deal with a local lender.  There is nothing some out-state lender advertising super low mortgage rates and with a fancy web site can offer that you can’t get down the street. Choosing your current lender very often is not the cheapest and easiest deal. Rather, just the opposite, as they know so many of their current clients call them without shopping.

ADVANCE PREPARATION
To speed up the process, borrowers should begin to assemble the standard loan paperwork as soon as they decide to apply for a loan. The minimum documentation for a mortgage loan everyone will need is; their two most recent pay stubs, or last two years tax returns if self-employed.  Their last two years W2’s, photo ID, and their last two banks statements.

DON’T DELAY
Once you lock a great interest rate, get the documents to the lender within a day. One missing document, or any delay by the borrower in providing s requested documents by the lender could easily add significant delay or problems with your refinance. As a borrower, you need to make sure once you lock an interest rates, you drop everything and respond to any lender request. Loan processing is first-in, first-out. Sign your paperwork within a day, and let the appraiser in your home as soon as humanly possible. Underwriting won’t even begin until they had your signatures and the appraisal in hand.

TALK TO THE LENDER
Borrowers should also ask their lenders upfront for a time frame on when they should expect to close on the refinance loan and lock their rate accordingly. Once the initial signatures and documents have been submitted, there will be a waiting period when there’s not much the loan officer and the borrower can do. Even during that time, borrowers should not be afraid to check on the progress of their refinance. Checking in once or twice a week is pretty reasonable to make sure your refinance application is on track. Underwriters may ask for additional documentation once they get to your file, so it’s important to stay in touch with your loan officer and be diligent.

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HARP 2 refinance program in MN and WI

HARP 2.0 refinance program details in MN and WI.

St Paul, MN: The much anticipated revised HARP Refinance Program (HARP 2) is now in effect, making it much easier for underwater home owner to refinance their mortgage into today’s low mortgage rates.

The two biggest guideline changes to the HARP 2 program include the POSSIBILITY of unlimited Loan-to-Value and the POSSIBILITY to refinance even if you have Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). This opens up financing opportunities for seriously upside home owners who have kept up with their current mortgage obligations.

There is a LOT of misinformation out there... The reality is NO LENDER ANYWHERE can promise you a HARP 2 refinance approval WITHOUT having a full application and submitting that application through either Fannie Mae or Freddie Macs automated underwriting computers (AUS).

 


Why you should wait for HARP 2.0

Why you should wait until April to get a HARP 2.0 Loan

Just a few years ago, consumers with weaker credit getting a conforming mortgage loan (one designed to be sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac) got a great deal.  If you barely qualified with a low 620 credit score, you got the exact same rate as someone with an excellent 800 credit score.

Wait for better HARP 2.0 Interest Rates

When the mortgage markets collapsed and the housing agencies started hemorrhaging cash, they instituted new fee policies known as Loan Level Pricing Adjustments (LLPA) and Adverse Market Delivery Charges (AMDC) as a means to fix their balance sheets on the backs of homeowners that were still able to obtain loans.

The fees were intended to price loans based on the risk inherent in each loan. LLPA is the more significant of the two fees. It adds fees to a loan based on loan type (purchase, rate and term refinance or a cash out refinance), loan to value, and credit score. To illustrate the impact of the LLPA, a borrower with a 620 credit score will pay a rate nearly 1% higher than a borrower with a 740 credit score.

Because of the inherent risk of HARP refinance, most consumers over 80% loan-to-vale have been hit hard by AMDC and LLPA requirements

HARP 2.0 – Best Change Worth Waiting For

As part of HARP 2.0, AMDC and LLPA rules have been changed, providing consumers who wait a potentially much better interest rate.

  • Reduced fees charged by the agencies on loans with a loan to value in excess of 80%.
  • On loans with amortizations of 20 years or less, the LLPA and AMDC are eliminated.
  • On 25 and 30 year loans, the cap is reduced, which means the borrower with the lower score in the example above saves another .25% in rate.
  • Removal of loan to value cap on fixed rate mortgages (effective March 17th 2012) – no equity, no problem. In fact, negative equity refinances will be allowed.

Eliminating the fees on 15 and 20 year loans is significant. Rates on those loans are already well under 4%, so this should open up HARP refinance opportunities for borrowers that are interested in the rapid principal reduction that comes with shorter amortization mortgages.

Not Until After March

When lenders underwrite loans, the first step is to log into Fannie Mae or Freddie Macs computers to get an underwriting decision. These two agencies have indicated lenders won’t be able to do that until sometime around March 17th. To get the better mortgage rates from HARP lenders, you need to wait!

One caution about the changes to the loan to value cap; sometimes lenders do not adopt changes announced by the agencies word for word. Some overlay their own underwriting guidelines and they are always more conservative. While Fannie and Freddie may state they don’t have a loan to value limit for fixed rate HARP loans, many lenders will have a cap.

The agencies continue to tweak their programs with the goal of improving the performance of the loans in their portfolio. If you haven’t refinanced yet, maybe this change is the one that will benefit you.


What is the value of my home?

What’s the value of your home? (MN & WI Only)

St Paul, MN: Many homeowners are curious about the appraised value of their home in today’s market. An actual appraisal is expensive, and county tax records do NOT always reflect true market value. As you may be aware, home values are constantly fluctuating, and with the decline in average values, it is important to have an accurate idea of what your home is worth.

There are many sites that claim to give you are idea, including Zillow, Trulia, and more.

The problem is, where is the data coming from and how accurate is it?

We have a different tool to answer the estimated appraised value of your home question. Our application uses the Freddie Mac Home Price Index ( FMHPI ). FMHPI is calculated using a repeat-transactions methodology. Repeat transactions indexes measure price appreciation while holding constant property type and location, by comparing the price of the same property over two or more transactions. The change in price of a given property measures the underlying rate of appreciation because basic factors such as physical location, climate, housing type, etc., are constant between transactions. Averages of appreciation rates for different geographic areas and time periods are calculated using statistical regressions and the index values are derived from these averages

While the estimate may not be the actual or appraised value of your property, it can be a useful tool to gauge fluctuations and trends in your market which affect your home’s value.

Check your homes value? (MN and WI homes only)

For best results, contact us. I can help with purchasing a new home, or refinancing your existing MN or WI home, get you pre-approved for a new home, or put you in touch with a GOOD Real Estate Agent to help determine the best asking price for your home. We know the particulars of your neighborhood, the value of homes, and can help you discover what your home may really be worth.


Refinancing? Common mistakes to avoid

Mortgage Interest Rates are near historic lows. You want to refinance?
Common mistakes, and what NOT To Do

There are a lot of things “not to do”. I will point out only the 3 most common mistakes I see people make.

  1. Setting an unrealistic goal. I always get inquiries from people who say something like, “I have a 30 year fixed rate loan at 5.875% and I will refinance ONLY when rates get to 4.0% with no closing costs”. Sometimes I call people back and say, “Why 4%? why not 3% or 2%? They say, “Well rates are not going to go that low”. Right and they are unlikely to go to 4% with no closing costs also (“no closing cost” loans typically cost anywhere from 1/2% to .75% higher than the going interest rate) You should first succumb to the fact that once you can lower your rate with no out of pocket expense, you should probably refinance. Don’t draw unrealistic interest rate lines in the sand. They get blown away too easily.
  2. The “Once rates start dropping, they are going to continue to drop and I’m smart and I am going to lock when rates hit the bottom of the market” syndrome. It is very hard to guess the interest-rate cycle, and pretty hard to catch the bottom. Remember that rates can rise fairly quickly.
  3. “If the rate goes down just another 1/8th percent, then I’ll lock” This one just kills me! I see people lose all the time over this theory. If your current rate is 5.875% and today’s rate is 4.875%. LOCK & CLOSE! Most people have what I call “interest rate block”. They get a rate stuck in their head, and that is the rate they want, no matter what. Most people fail to realize (and most loan officers fail to show them), that the difference on the average loan over 1/8th a percent is usually less than $15 per month. If you can save $150 per month on your loan at today’s rate, why gamble? Why hold out for another $15 when the odds are against you?

Don’t get piggy. Work with us. Set a goal and lock when it gets there. Are we going to hit the bottom? Probably not. Are we going to save you money? Yes. If you can save money with no out of pocket costs, than you have nothing to lose. If you want to gamble go to Las Vegas. It’s a heck of a lot more fun. Apply Now

Extra Tricks to Save Money When Refinancing

The purpose of most refinance loans is simply to save money. The goal is to minimize your expense over the life of the loan or to minimize your monthly payment in the near future.

If you can swing it, don’t roll every cost of refinancing into your new loan. Most people escrow for taxes and insurance. If you do, your current lender must give you escrow refund within 30 days of paying off their loan. Your new lender, be it us or someone else, must take the equivalent amount of money (or more) at closing to start the new escrow account.

Remember that you always get to skip a month of payments. If you close June 5th, your first new payment is August 1st.

Knowing this, paying some of your closing costs out-of-pocket will save you even more money in the long run. Why roll in $4000 in closing costs, when you really only need to roll in $2000 ($1000 escrow refund + $1000 missed payment = $2000). Paying that $2000 over 30 years doesn’t make sense if you don’t have too.

On the other hand, some people love the fact that they didn’t pay anything out of pocket to refinance, got a nice escrow refund check, then got to miss a mortgage payment. They use the ‘extra’ money to pay bills, go on vacation, etc.

Picking a Lender & Closing Costs

Shopping for a home loan is confusing. No matter what we’re looking for — from cars to refrigerators’ — there’s a built-in element of confusion. Why? Lack of knowledge. An unfortunate rule of thumb is that the less we know about something we need to buy, the more we can expect to pay for it.

Shopping for a mortgage in Minneapolis, St Paul, Duluth, Rochester, Madison, Milwaukee, and throughout all of Minnesota and Wisconsin is complex at best — even for the savvy previous home owner. Daily rate changes, time-sensitive lock-in periods, points, lender’s fees… plus the emotional element of probably the largest financial deal any of us will ever make. Throw in to this already murky stew the ingredients of tricky internet mortgage rate advertising, commissions for every officer, agent and broker who ‘helps’ in your transaction, and the obscure differences between ‘rates’ and ‘fees.’ It’s no mystery that many buyers settle for a home loan that exceeds their monetary means out of sheer exasperation!

Please review our information on closing costs and “BAD Good Faith Estimates“. There is currently a large number of fly-by-night lenders doing some incredibly misleading rate & closing cost advertising. Remember, if it sounds too good, it probably is! Also check out my article “Best Rate or Lowest Cost” for more loan comparison information.

The Bottom Line
Remember, the first rule is that there are no rules. You should refinance if it makes sense for you. Every person & situation is different. What makes sense for one family, may not make sense for you. Call me today to discuss your wants, needs, and goals. Together we’ll determine if refinancing makes sense for YOU.

Click here for more information on the actual loan process.
Click here for
10 Tips to a Smooth Closing
Click here for
10 Mistakes to Avoid


Smart financial move, the 15-yr mortgage

Smart financial move, the 15-yr mortgage

Minneapolis, MN:  “I own my home free and clear!“. How great would it be to say that? No payments when you retire. No payments while you are also paying for college. Putting money into your 401k vs paying it to the bank.
Look into a shorter term mortgage. This is the hottest new trend in home ownership.
Your parents probably took a 30-year fixed rate FHA mortgage, then tried to pay extra along the way to pay it off early in hopes of having no payments going into retirement.
During the period of 2001 – 2008, it was just the opposite. Many people opted for an adjustable mortgage, interest only mortgage, or even a 40-year mortgage. The reasoning was they would be flipping the house in a few short years at a great profit, so they didn’t really care what the payment was.
Today, old school thinking on the fast plan of a shorter term home loan is very popular.  Me me me, now now now, has been replaced with a pay it off fast mentality.
Clearly a shorter term loan saves you a lot of money in interest. On a $200,000 loan at 4.75%, the payment (just the loan) is $1043 per month. The total interest paid is a whopping $179,888. Switch that over to a 15-yr loan at 4.25%, and the payment goes up to $1504 per month, but the total interest is just $75,079. Half as much! A interest savings of $104,809

Many people claim they can’t afford the 15-yr payment, but I say otherwise. The average person can usually easily absorb the slightly higher payment with a little discipline and a slight adjustment to their monthly budget.

Eliminate the second new car, go out to a nice dinner a little less often, and shutting off the cable or satellite premium service all start to add up quickly, giving you one of the best savings opportunities of your lifetime.

I also hear many people talk about the loss of the interest tax deduction. I have a challenge for you. Can you tell me exactly what your tax write off benefit was this year?  Most people can’t.  The tax deduction is over-rated. Once you figure out how little it really adds up to in real dollars, you’ll quickly see the benefit of paying your home off faster.
Stop pissing money away on a 30-yr mortgage, refinance to a 15-yr mortgage. Earn equity faster, own your home in half the time, and make one of the best financial moves of your lifetime.