Donna Coffin - ERA Key Realty Services - Distinctive Group



Posted by Donna Coffin on 12/29/2017

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial milestones youíll reach in your life. If youíre a first-time homebuyer, it can be scary to take the plunge and make a down payment on your first home.

Down payments are one element that makes up the factors which determine your monthly mortgage payments, and in turn, how much youíll be paying toward your home in total. So, itís important to understand just how much to save for a down payment.

In this article, weíll talk about down payments, why they matter, and your options for saving up for a down payment.

Why down payments matter

A down payment is simply the amount of money a buyer pays at the time of closing on the house. Down payments help assure lenders that you will make your monthly mortgage payments because you have invested a substantial amount of money into the house and therefore risk losing your down payment if you fail to pay the mortgage and your house is foreclosed on.

If youíre eager to buy your first home, you may want to make the smallest down payment possible so you can move in sooner. However, a smaller down payment typically means a larger monthly mortgage payment. Thatís because your mortgage payment depends on several factors.

When a lender determines how much they will lend you towards your home and how much your monthly mortgage payments will be, their formula takes into account your down payment, your credit score, and the value of the property. The higher your credit score and the higher your down payment is, the less your monthly payments will be.

Mortgage types and down payments

Many first time home buyers cannot afford large down payments on their first home (20% or more). As a result, there are loan types insured by the Federal Housing Administration that are offered for as low as 3.5% of the mortgage amount.

If you arenít approved for an FHA loan but plan on making a down payment of less than 20%, you can still buy a home with private mortgage insurance (PMI). With PMI you pay a monthly premium for your insurance in addition to your monthly mortgage payments.

How long and how much to save

So, how much should you save? The short answer is as much as possible. However, if you need to move soon because of life circumstances, it isnít always an option to hold off on moving for long periods of time.

If youíre currently renting each month at high prices, it might make more sense to put that money towards your first home, an asset which will likely increase in value, rather than spend it on rent which you get no return on.  

One of the best ways to save for a down payment is to set up a new cash savings account that will automatically deposit a portion of your paycheck each week. Having an off-limits account is a great way to save without the temptation of spending it on luxuries if the money would normally be sitting in your checking account.

Another option is to start investing. If youíre in no rush to buy a home and have the financial resources, investing pays off much more than a savings account does when it comes to increasing assets.

Regardless of how you choose to save, the most important takeaway is that you take action now to start saving and you donít deviate from your savings plan for any reason.




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Posted by Donna Coffin on 10/6/2017

Thereís numerous reasons why the name on a title to a home may not be the same as the name thatís on the mortgage loan. These reasons include:


  • Only one buyer had stable credit
  • Only one person was on the loan application
  • One person was released from the mortgage


No matter why this is the case, having your name on the mortgage but not on the title to a home can affect you and people residing in the home in different ways. 


Why Would Only One Name Be On The Mortgage?


If people are looking to get a home or refinance a home, but only one person has good credit a decision must be made. For the best possible mortgage rates, youíll want to person with the best credit to be the primary loan holder. This may mean that you need additional legal documents in the process.  


The person with lower credit may still be able to have their name placed on the title to the home. Anyone who plans to contribute financially to a home, even if not on the mortgage, should place their name on the title. This would be one instance when a name would be on the title to a home and not on the mortgage loan. In this case, a person has property rights, but no legal-financial responsibility to the home. Itís important to agree on the home arrangement that youíre considering. This would be done through a will or a legal contract. This way, all parties are protected in regards to the ownership of the home should something happen to the individual whose name is on the mortgage.


Legal Things To Consider


Those who are listed on the mortgage are the people who are responsible for house payments. If a personís name isnít on the mortgage, it doesnít release them from complete responsibility from the home. If your name is on the title to the home but not on the mortgage, the bank generally has first dibs on the home if thereís a lapse in payments. If you want to keep living in the house, youíll have to keep making payments on the home. If you canít make the mortgage payments, youíll risk going into foreclosure. 


Taxes


An issue that can come up if your name is not on the mortgage is that you cannot use the home youíre living in as a tax deduction. Even if you make payments on the home, in order for you to get tax benefits, your name must be on the mortgage stating that youíre legally responsible for the home. If you are paying for the mortgage because your name appears on the title to the home, you arenít legally entitled to pay, giving away your rights to tax benefits. If youíre married, filing jointly, and only one name appears on the mortgage, however, you can use this as a tax deduction. This becomes an issue if two unmarried people buy a home together.  


Ask For Legal Assistance


Whenever you have an issue with the title of your home or with names on the mortgage, itís good to consult legal counsel. The attorney can assist you in determining who is legally responsible for the home and if the people listed on the title of the home are correct. This can help save you from trouble at a future date.


Since credit scores and loans can get messy at times during the home buying process, itís good to understand all the implications of home mortgages and titles.




Tags: Buying a home   mortgage  
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Posted by Donna Coffin on 5/26/2017

Whether youíre a first time homebuyer or a seasoned homeowner, the terminology of mortgages can be confusing. Since buying a home is such a huge financial decision, youíre also going to want to make sure you understand every step of the process and all of the conditions and fees along the way.

In this article, weíre going to explain some of the common terms you might come across when applying for a home loan, be it online or over the phone. By learning the basic meaning of these terms youíll feel more confident and prepared going into the application process.

Weíll cover the acronyms, like APRs and ARMs, and the scary sounding terms like ďamortizationĒ so that you know everything you need to about the terminology of home loans.

  • ARM and FRM, or adjustable rate vs fixed rate mortgages. Lenders make their money by charging you interest on your home loan that you pay back over the length of your loan period. Adjustable rate mortgages or ARMs are loans that have interest rates which change over the lifespan of your loan. You may start off at a low, ďintroductory rateĒ and later start paying higher amounts depending on the predetermined rate index. Fixed rate mortgages, on the other hand, remain at the same rate throughout the life of the loan. However, refinancing on your loan allows you to receive a different interest rate later down the road.

  • Amortization. It sounds like a medieval torture technique, but in reality amortization is the process of making your life easier by setting up a fixed repayment schedule. This schedule includes both the interest and the principal loan balance, allowing you to understand how long and how much money will go toward repaying your mortgage.

  • Equity. Simply state, your equity is the the amount of the home you have paid off. In a sense, itís the amount of the home that you really own. Your equity increases as you make payments, and having equity can help you buy a new home, or see a return on investment with your current home if the home increases in value.

  • Assumption and assumability. It isnít the title of a Jane Austen novel. Itís all about the process of a mortgage changing hands. An assumable mortgage can be transferred to a new buyer, and assumption is the actual transfer of the loan. Assuming a loan can be financially beneficial if the home as increased in value since the mortgage was created.

  • Escrow. There are a lot of legal implications that come along with buying a home. An escrow is designed to make sure the loan process runs smoothly. It acts as a holding tank for your documents, payments, as well as property taxes and insurance. An escrow performs an important function in the home buying process, and, as a result, charges you a percentage of the home for its services.

  • Origination fee. Basically a fancy way of saying ďprocessing fee,Ē the origination covers the cost of processing your mortgage application. Itís one of the many ďclosing costsĒ youíll encounter when buying a home and accounts for all of the legwork your loan officer does to make your mortgage a reality--running credit reports, reviewing income history, and so on.  




Tags: mortgage   terminology  
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Posted by Donna Coffin on 3/24/2017

Buying a home represents a dream come true for many individuals. However, to transform this dream into a reality, you'll likely need to qualify for a mortgage.

Finding the right mortgage may seem difficult, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. Fortunately, we're here to help you make sense of all of the mortgage options at your disposal so you can select the right option based on your budget and lifestyle.

Here's a closer look at three of the most common mortgage options for homebuyers.

1. Fixed-Rate

With a fixed-rate mortgage, there are no cost fluctuations. This means that you'll pay the same amount each month for the duration of your mortgage, regardless of economic conditions.

For example, if you sign up for a 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, you'll wind up paying the same amount each month until your mortgage is paid in full. In some instances, you may even be able to pay off your mortgage early without penalties.

A fixed-rate mortgage often serves as a great option for those who don't want to worry about mortgage bills that may fluctuate over the years. Instead, this type of mortgage guarantees that you'll be able to pay a consistent monthly amount for the life of your loan.

2. Adjustable-Rate

An adjustable-rate mortgage represents the exact opposite of its fixed-rate counterpart. The costs associated with this type of mortgage will change over time, which means you may wind up paying a fixed interest rate for the first few years of your loan and watch this rate go up a few years later.

For instance, a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage means that your interest rate is locked in for the first five years of your loan. After this period, the interest rate will adjust annually. Therefore, a rising interest rate may force you to allocate additional funds to cover your mortgage costs in the future.

An adjustable-rate mortgage may prove to be a viable option if you plan to live in a home for only a short amount of time. Or, if you're a college student or young professional, an adjustable-rate mortgage may help you pay less for a home now, secure your dream job and become financially stable by the time your initial interest rate period ends.

3. VA Loans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides loans to military service members and their families. These loans are backed by the government and enable individuals to receive complete financing for a house. Thus, with a VA loan, an individual is not required to make a down payment on a house.

If you ever have concerns or questions about mortgage loans, banks and credit unions are available to help. Also, your real estate agent may be able to offer mortgage insights and tips to ensure you can secure a mortgage quickly and effortlessly.

Learn about all of the mortgage options that are available, and by doing so, you can move one step closer to buying a home that matches your budget and lifestyle.




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Posted by Donna Coffin on 1/13/2017

Paying off your mortgage early and having no bills sounds like a no brainer. The answer however is not so simple. The answer really is; it depends. First you need to ask yourself a few questions. 1. Have you capitalized your employerís match to your retirement savings? If the answer is no and you are not contributing the maximum than you are throwing away free money. You may want to consider putting your money here before paying down your mortgage. 2. Do you have other debt other than your mortgage? Pay off high interest credit card debit first. It makes no sense to pay off a lower interest loan and carry high interest debt. 3. Do you have an emergency fund? Experts suggest at least a three month supply of living expenses. Some even go as much as twenty four months of living expenses after the turn in the economy and job market. It makes more sense to have money set aside for a sudden loss of income before you pay off your mortgage. 4. Do you owe more than your house is worth? If you are upside down you are more susceptible to foreclosure. Ask yourself how much how much you enjoy living there. Would you be willing to buy it again for more than it is worth now? 5. Do you have life, health and disability insurance? If you are the main source of income in your household what would happen if you were no longer able to make the payments? Putting safety nets in place first is a wise idea. 6. Do you believe you can get better return investing elsewhere? Paying off your mortgage is an investment decision. Ask how does paying off my mortgage stack up with other investment options? 7. Are you thinking of retiring and want to live with the worry of a payment? The thought of living on a fixed income can be scary. Paying off your mortgage may give you peace of mind. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It really comes down to what is most important to you. Sometimes, the answer is not based just on dollars and sense and more on what works for you, your life, your family situation and just plain old personal preference.




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