HARP 2: Another Obama Housing Refinance Failure?

The Federal Housing Finance Agency plan to revamp the Home Affordable Refinance Program will result in just 17% of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac 30-year loans qualifying for refinancing, according to one analyst.

Sarah Hu said there are some benefits of HARP 2.0, which is how bond investors refer to the plan, but also believes hurdles remain.

READ THE FULL STORY

.


What came first, falling home prices or a slumping market?

What came first, falling home prices or a slumping market?

Chicken or the Egg?

St Paul, MN: While pundits galore will claim many different views, the answer is rather simple in economic terms. After years and years of record home price increases, the market simply couldn’t support the increases anymore. Buyers could no longer afford the prices. House prices started falling first simply because no one was willing to pay the price anymore.

Most loan programs like to see debt ratios no higher than around 40% of income. FHA for example is 43%.  Simple economics apply here. If the average wage in Minnesota is $784 per week ($40,784 per year), assuming no other debt (not likely), 5% down, PMI, taxes and insurance, this person could buy around a $180,000 home. Start throwing in debt, car loans, credit cards, etc., and the maximum home price starts sinking as fast as a rock in water.

As home prices increased, buyers started switching to high risk, short-term loan products to make homes more affordable. As we can see by today’s market, that was a short sighted plan that didn’t work out well for many.

Therefore there really is only one way to get demand up and people to start buying again. Affordable home prices. Simple supply and demand economics. Too much supply because of too little demand forces prices to drop. As unsold inventory clears, higher prices will return (but fewer sales).

Starting around 2000, the normal supply and demand cycle was dramatically upset as people threw caution to the wind and kept demand artificially high. Everyone wanted in, and they were willing to pay whatever price was asked. Everyone figured you could make a killing in the housing market. This was especially evident in the investment property market.

A killing has occurred. Just not the one most people expected as the house of glass broke in 2007.

So what do we do now?

BUY A HOME! Housing affordability has returned for most people, interest rates are near historic lows and there are deals to be had everywhere. First time home buyers should be running in masses to buy a home!


Winning or losing – How to play the Mortgage Interest Rate Game

Mortgage interest rates — just like stock prices — change price daily and you can win big or lose big if you don’t know what you are doing.

#1 Mortgage Interest Rate and Lender Shopping Tip | MN and WI Mortgage Rates | Quote, Float, or Lock? |

For the home buyer that is “shopping” for a mortgage, or waiting for rates to fall, or just “hasn’t gotten around to it”, we suggest you almost always lock, and to do it quickly. The sooner you lock your rate, the less chance you have of losing in the Mortgage Rate game.

If you are refinancing, you can gamble a bit more, but if you have a signed purchase contract in hand, lock your rate as soon as possible.  There is no better way to protect yourself from the fickle mortgage markets. Holding out for 1/8th – 1/4% more is just not worth the risk! If you want to gamble… go to Vegas.

What is a Rate QUOTE? When buying a home or refinancing, it is common to call around to many lenders to get a rate quote. A quote is not a guaranteed rate. Another common issue with getting a quote is you often get one from Lender A on Monday, Lender B on Tuesday, and Lender C on Wednesday. Rates can change daily, sometimes multiple times, so unless you get all your quotes at the same time, you don’t have accurate information. THE ONLY QUOTE THAT MATTERS IS THE DAY YOU LOCK. Many lenders quote you low to get you to stop shopping, knowing that you will usually NOT be locking the same day of the quote – especially for any purchase loans. Be wary of anyone significantly lower than anyone else.

What is a Rate Lock Period? The lender will usually quote rates along with a rate lock period, usually 15, 45, or 60 days. The loan must close within this period. The longer the rate period, the higher the interest rate.

What is a Rate Lock? When you “LOCK” your interest rate with your lender, you and the lender agree this is the guaranteed rate you will receive, and that no matter what the markets do before closing, you will not be charged a higher rate if rates go up, and you will not be able to get a lower rate if rates go down. Your rate lock should be in writing.

What Does It Mean to Float? Floating your rate means means that while your loan is in progress, the rate is NOT yet guaranteed. You are taking the risk that interest rates will either not go up or that they will fall. If rates have been dropping, then you might want to take a chance that rates will be lower by the time you close your loan than they are today. Discuss the floating with your Loan Officer. Sometimes it is worth the gamble, sometimes it isn’t.


Technology for Realtors – Are you being left behind?

Are you an old dinosaur Realtor, or do you use all of today’s advanced technology? Watch today’s video, then get you own free gift of technology for your iPhone, Blackberry, or Android phone from Joe Metzler at Mortgages Unlimited.


Credit Repair Companies. Good or Bad Idea?

Credit Repair Companies. Good or Bad Idea?

St Paul, MN: There are a lot of credit repair firms and credit counselors that have not acted in the best interest of their clients and this has certainly given the business a bad name. But that does not mean that the basic concept is not good. As a matter of fact–improving credit scores is even more important in today’s market. With the current credit crunch, expect a much harder time getting mortgage loan approval with weak credit.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae has implemented interest rate adjustments for anyone under 740 credit score. The mortgage insurance companies are adjusting their rates and refusing to supply mortgage insurance to anyone with a score lower than around 660. FHA, technically says they will allow a score as low as 580, you’ll have a very difficult time finding a mortgage loan approval with less than a 640 credit score.

The national average credit score is around 680. Approximately 10 million people may get a new mortgage this year, but 80 million others have credit problems and can’t get a mortgage that will help them achieve their dreams.

Self Help May Be Best

You see the advertisements in newspapers, on TV, and on the Internet. You hear them on the radio. You get fliers in the mail. You may even get calls from telemarketers offering credit repair services. They all make the same claims:

1) “Credit problems? No problem!”

2) “We can erase your bad credit – 100% guaranteed.”

3) “Create a new credit identity – legally.”

4) “We can remove bankruptcies, judgments, liens, and bad loans from your credit file forever!”

Do yourself a favor and save some money, too. Don’t believe these statements. Only time, a conscious effort, and a personal debt repayment plan will improve your credit report.

The Scam

Everyday, companies nationwide appeal to consumers with poor credit histories. They promise, for a fee, to clean up your credit report so you can get a car loan, a home mortgage, insurance, or even a job. The truth is, they usually can’t deliver. After you pay them hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees, these companies do nothing to improve your credit report; most simply vanish with your money.

The Warning Signs

If you decide to respond to a credit repair offer, look for these tell-tale signs of a scam:

1) companies that want you to pay for credit repair services before they provide any services.

2) companies that do not tell you your legal rights and what you can do for yourself for free.

3) companies that recommend that you not contact a credit reporting company directly.

4) companies that suggest that you try to invent a “new” credit identity – and then, a new credit report – by applying for an Employer Identification Number to use instead of your Social Security number.

5) companies that advise you to dispute all information in your credit report or take any action that seems illegal, like creating a new credit identity. If you follow illegal advice and commit fraud, you may be subject to prosecution.

You could be charged and prosecuted for mail or wire fraud if you use the mail or telephone to apply for credit and provide false information. It’s a federal crime to lie on a loan or credit application, to misrepresent your Social Security number, and to obtain an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses.

Under the Credit Repair Organizations Act, credit repair companies cannot require you to pay until they have completed the services they have promised.

The Truth

No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report. The law allows you to ask for an investigation of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete. There is no charge for this. Everything a credit repair clinic can do for you legally, you can do for yourself at little or no cost. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA):

1) You’re entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, like denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, and you ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company. You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.

2) Each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The three companies have set up a central website, a toll-free telephone number, and a mailing address through which you can order your free annual report.

To order, click on annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can print the form from ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/credit/ .

Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time. For more information, see Your Access to Free Credit Reports at ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/credit/ .

Otherwise, a consumer reporting company may charge you up to $9.50 for another copy of your report within a 12-month period.

3) You can dispute mistakes or outdated items for free. Under the FCRA, both the consumer reporting company and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a consumer reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take advantage of all your rights under this law, contact the consumer reporting company and the information provider.

Reliable Companies?

Do they exist? You bet… there are many good companies to choose from. As with just about anything else, be sure to do your homework before selecting a company. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau, make sure the give you their Client Bill of Rights for your review, and make sure they offer a free, no obligation, confidential credit and debt analysis WITH NO PRESSURE before handing over a penny of your hard earned money!


25% Equity Rule to Refi?

A proposal put forward by federal regulators to define “safe” mortgages would raise refinancing costs for half the nation’s homeowners with home loans, a coalition of industry and other advocacy groups has said.

The Coalition for Sensible Housing Policy says that 25 million homeowners could be affected by a rule that would effectively require borrowers to have at least 25 percent equity in their homes to qualify for the best terms when refinancing a mortgage. The number amounts to more than half of U.S. homeowners who currently have a mortgage.


Is refinancing easier than buying a home?

A refinance is just as easy to get as your first mortgage… right?

Many people think that refinancing is easier than buying a home for two main reasons:

1) you already have a loan on the home, you make your payments, so it should be easy to refinance.
2) your current mortgage lender already has all their information, so they with easily refinance you, and they are the best place to call **

Sorry… Not true on either count.

There are many factors that might make it hard to refinance:

First, understand that no matter who you call for the refinance – even your existing lender, you have to go through the full underwriting process again. With that said;

– Your financial situation could have changed. Do you have the same job, same income? Better or worse? How about credit. Better or worse?
– Mortgage loan Underwriting guidelines have changed. The crazy days of every getting a loan are long gone. Be are back to old school traditional financing guidelines. Did you buy the home on a program that no longer exists… like a no documentation loan?
– With all the foreclosures, your properties value probably went down. How does that play into your refinancing options?

Most people refinance for three main reasons.

1) Smaller payment
2) Shorter term
3) Cash out / consolidate debt

The good news is that mortgage rates in MN and WI are amazingly low right now, and lenders are still providing home loans everyday. If you are thinking of refinancing, but have been scared away by thinking you can’t for some of the reasons listed above, you are making a big mistake.

Contact a local MN or WI mortgage company with a licensed Loan Officer. Fill out a full application, and let them review your situation.

You may be very happy with the answer!

** WORD OF CAUTION: Many people make the mistake of just calling their existing lender. Almost exclusively, EVERY OTHER lender will have a better deal for you. Be sure to call more than just your current company.


FHA extends foreclosure rules for the unemployed

FHA has announced they will allow unemployed homeowners up to one years time before they start foreclosure. Up to one year forebearance is now allowed. Learn more – watch the video!


Modified Mortgages Ineligible for Refinancing

Previously Modified Mortgages Under Attack and maybe Ineligible for Refinancing

St Paul, MN: For many reasons, a lot of home owners have attempted and succeeded in getting their current home mortgage loan modified. Modifications come in many forms, including reduced interest rates, both short and long-term, principal forgiveness, etc.

Modifications, and short-sales, terms never heard of just four years ago, are now commonplace. Lenders have struggled on how to deal with this phenomena in terms of underwriting guidelines for future credit. Short-sales for example, are generally treated by lenders as a foreclosure. While there are some exceptions, those doing short-sales generally have no benefit credit-wise over a true foreclosure.

Now lenders are starting to deal with modified mortgages, and the determination isn’t good for the consumer. While it is still the beginning of a new credit requirement, lenders are starting to refuse to refinance any customer who currently has a modified loan. Research with lenders shows significantly more restrictive guidelines for refinancing mortgages that were previously modified for the purposes of assisting the borrower (defined as “restructured loans” by Fannie Mae and other investors).

Simply put, if you have a “modified” mortgage loan, expect that you may not be eligible to get refinanced in the future!

(Definition: A restructured loan is one in which the terms of the original transaction have been changed, resulting in absolute forgiveness of debt or a restructure of debt through either a modification of the original loan or origination of a new loan that results in one or all of the below:

  • Forgiveness of a portion of principal and/or interest on either the first or the second mortgage.
    Application of a principal curtailment by or on behalf of the investor to simulate principal forgiveness.
  • Conversion of any portion of the original mortgage debt to a “soft” subordinate mortgage.
  • Conversion of any portion of the original mortgage debt from secured to unsecured.


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


NAR fees are up, and I’m on a budget

NAR fees are up, advertising costs are up, real estate sales are down, but as a Real Estate Agent, you need to find more clients, and you need to do it on a budget. Here are a few simple tools to increase your business and make more money from Joe Metzler at Mortgages Unlimited, and the Mn Real Estate Daily Show.

Thoughts? Log in and Post!


Are you being pressured by your Realtor to use “their” lender?

Are you being pressured by your Realtor to use “their” lender?

Minneapolis, MN: When buying a home, unless you have cash, you are going to need financing! As a consumer, you have the right to pick whatever lender you decide is best for you. You will likely also receive all sorts of lender suggestions from those around you, and maybe even high pressure to use specific lenders.

My take on the state of the industry and why you are being pressured to use a specific lender follows one of three scenarios:

  • You have a competent real estate agent who is concerned about the transaction closing. If they have never worked with the lender you plan on using, they are naturally concerned about that lender’s ability to perform. More often than not, this is an unfounded in fact fear, perpetuated from hard to close sub-prime loans that long ago disappeared from the market. More often than not, simply having your lender and Real Estate Agent talk to each other will address the Real Estate agent’s concerns. If they are both competent professionals, they’ll recognize that in each other and problem solved.
  • Most real estate agent today work at a company that has their own lender. The agent is under enormous pressure from management to refer all buyers to the in-house lender.  Why is that? Because most of the profit from the real estate operation accrues from the in-house mortgage and title company operation, and not from the real estate side.  You will almost always find that the rates offered by the in-house mortgage lender are higher than what you could find from other lenders. The in-house lender knows the statistical evidence that 75% of home buyers accept the first rate offered to them and set their profit margin accordingly. If the lender your agent is recommending is offering you higher rates than another lenders you judge to be competent you now know why their rates are higher – they are responsible for producing excess profit for the parent organization.  Your choice whether you want to pay for that excess profit or not.
  • The agent is getting an under the table kick back from the lender – yes illegal, and unfortunately, yes it continues to occur. The specific agent themselves is getting a monetary kickback, their advertising paid for, or some other form of payment by the lender or specific loan officer. While very rare, it does happen.

If the rates offered by the recommended lender are higher, it is pretty simple – you are not getting the best deal in the market. You are paying for someone’s additional profit. That “someone” could be the big bank name as their rates are higher to pay for all of their fixed overhead and advertising. It could be the real estate company that depends upon extra mortgage affiliate profit to pay the commission splits they are offering to real estate agents, or something else.

Most buyers focus on the monthly payment difference between rates and end up thinking something like, “the agent wants me to use this specific lender and the monthly payment is only $15 dollars more, so who cares”.   What you’re missing is the present economic value difference that an .125% or .25% higher rate means in dollars today.

What I mean by that – if the recommended lender is offering you a 5.00% rate and other qualified and competent lenders tell you they can off you a 4.75% rate, the important number is not the $15 or $30 per month difference. The important number comes from asking the 4.75% rate lender, “What is the dollar amount of the lender closing cost credit you will give me if I do the loan with you at 5.00%?”  Another way to look at it is this, at 4.75%, maybe your closing costs are $6,000, but at 5.00%, your closing costs are only $4,000.

That is the dollar amount that could have been in your pocket, but if you give in to the pressure, and instead transfers to someone else’s pocket. When you are getting that level of pressure, someone has a vested interest in who you obtain your mortgage through.

Bottom line: Talk to the Realtor’s suggested preferred lender if you want, but be sure to talk to one or two other lenders, then YOU CHOOSE who YOU WANT.


 

(C) 2011 – Joe Metzler – Mortgages Unlimited, St Paul, MN #274132. Re-blog but do not steal!

We lend in MN and WI ONLY. Searching rates on home loans, rates for refinancing your mortgage in MN or WI. We have some of the best rates on home loans!


Fannie Mae HomePath offers 3.5% in closing costs (temporarily)

Fannie Mae temporarily offers 3.5% in closing cost incentive to home buyers purchasing a Fannie Mae HomePath eligible foreclosed home.

But wait,  beware of the small print… this is a limited time special incentive offer…. Watch to learn more

Mortgages Unlimited is a HomePath Lender in the Minneapolis and St Paul area, and for all of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Search for HomePath Homes in MN and WI

Thoughts? Log in and post!


Grow Your Real Estate Business for Free if you know the secret

MN Real Estate Agents, Are you closing deals, making money, and growing your business, or are you killing your future business.

Learn how to grow your business with the right attitude and the right mortgage lending partners.


Realtors – Make more money, sell more homes. Free Idea

Let’s face it, times are tough in the Real Estate market right now. With so many Realtors chasing a much  smaller pool of home buyers (both first time buyers and move up buyers), agents need every edge to gain more clients, sell more homes, and make more money.

This short video tells Real Estate Agents how to stop giving away money to others, and start putting it in their own pocket!

Click the share button and send this to all your Real Estate Agent friends