Donna Coffin - ERA Key Realty Services - Distinctive Group



Posted by Donna Coffin on 1/11/2019

Preparing to buy a home is a long and stressful process for many. You’ve spent months, or even years, saving for a down payment, planning your future, and building your credit to ensure you get the best possible interest rate on your loan.

Then you find out, when getting preapproved for a mortgage, that your credit score dropped by a few points. So, what gives?

There’s a lot to understand about how credit scores affect mortgages and vice versa. In today’s post, I’m going to attempt to cover everything you need to know about how applying for a mortgage can affect your credit score so you’ll be prepared when it comes time to buy a home.

Prequalification, preapproval, and credit checks

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be preapproved or prequalified for a loan. Some of it is due to the jargon that is used in real estate transactions, and some of it is just a marketing technique on the part of lenders.

So, what does it mean to be prequalified and preapproved?

The short version is that getting prequalified is a quick and easy process to determine whether you’re eligible to lend to and how much you’re likely to receive. It involves a quick review of your finances, and often includes either a self-reported or soft credit inquiry.

A “soft inquiry” is the type of credit check that employers typically use for a background check. It doesn’t affect your credit score, as you are not applying to open a new line of credit. In fact, many lenders’ process for prequalification is a simple online form that doesn’t even require a credit check. We’ll talk more about the difference between soft inquiries and hard inquiries later.

The simplicity of prequalification makes it a simple and easy way to get started. But, it isn’t always accurate in how well it predicts the type of mortgage and loan amount you can receive. That’s where preapproval comes in.

When you get preapproved for a loan you fill out an official application (you often have to pay for these). This will request documentation for your finances and assets, and will ask your approval to run a detailed credit report.


These credit reports are considered “hard inquiries” and are a vital step in getting approved or preapproved for a mortgage. However, they also, at least temporarily, lower your credit score.

Why hard inquiries lower your credit score

When any creditor, be it a bank or credit card company, is determining whether to lend to you, they want to know that you are a safe investment. To determine this, they want to know how frequently you pay your bills on time, how much you owe to other creditors, and how financially stable you are right now.

When you make multiple inquiries in a short period of time, it’s a red flag to lenders that you might be in trouble financially. Thus, hard inquiries will lower your credit score for 1 to 2 months.

Applying to multiple lenders: the silver lining

When borrowers apply for a mortgage, they often shop around and apply to multiple lenders. While it may seem that all of these hard inquiries will add up and drastically lower their credit score, this isn’t the case.

Credit bureaus take into account the source of the inquiries. If they realize that you are applying for mortgages, they will typically recognize this as rate shopping and group these applications together on your credit report, counting them only as a single inquiry. This means your score shouldn’t drop multiple times for multiple mortgage preapprovals that were made within a small time frame.

Now that you know more about how mortgage applications affect your credit score, you can confidently shop around for the best mortgage for you and your family.




Tags: mortgage   credit score  
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Posted by Donna Coffin on 8/3/2018

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage may prove to be a long, arduous process if you are not careful. Fortunately, homebuyers who plan ahead should have no trouble obtaining a mortgage so they can enter the housing market with a budget in hand.

Ultimately, there are many questions to consider as you assess your mortgage options, and these questions include:

1. What type of mortgage should I get?

The two most common types of mortgages are adjustable- and fixed-rate varieties. If you understand the differences between these mortgage options, you can make an informed mortgage decision.

An adjustable-rate mortgage generally features a lower initial interest rate than a fixed-rate option. However, after a set amount of time, an adjustable-rate mortgage's interest rate will increase.

Comparatively, a fixed-rate mortgage has an interest rate that will remain intact for the life of your mortgage. This means you will pay the same amount each month until your mortgage is paid in full.

When it comes to deciding between an adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgage, it pays to look at the pros and cons of both options. Remember, no two homebuyers are exactly alike, and a mortgage that works well for one buyer may not work well for another. But if you evaluate adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages closely, you can make the best-possible decision.

2. What differentiates an ordinary lender from an outstanding one?

There is no need to settle for an "ordinary" lender as you pursue mortgage options. Instead, you should seek out an exceptional lender that goes above and beyond the call of duty to assist you.

Typically, an outstanding lender employs mortgage specialists who are ready to respond to any concerns or questions. These specialists can help you evaluate a broad array of mortgage options and decide which mortgage best suits your individual needs.

Don't be afraid to meet with several banks and credit unions, either. This will allow you to assess many lenders and select one that matches or exceeds your expectations.

3. Which mortgage should I select?

There is no one-size-fits-all mortgage that works well for all homebuyers, at all times. As such, you should conduct plenty of research as you explore your mortgage options. This research will enable you to analyze assorted mortgages and lenders and make the optimal choices.

Once you have a mortgage, you can move one step closer to acquiring your dream house. And if you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can receive expert support at each stage of the homebuying journey.

A real estate agent is a must-have for any homebuyer, regardless of the current housing market's conditions. This housing market professional can teach you everything you need to know about buying a house. Also, he or she can help you examine a vast collection of available houses.

Ready to kick off a house search? Get pre-approved for a mortgage, and you can enter the housing market with a homebuying budget at your disposal.




Tags: Buying a home   mortgage  
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Posted by Donna Coffin on 3/9/2018

Many Americans who purchased their home when they had lower credit, a shorter employment history, and less money stand to gain from refinancing their mortgages. However, most miss out on this opportunity or don’t realize it in time to save potentially thousands in interest payments.

According to recent data, 5.2 million Americans could save, on average, $215 per month if they refinanced their loan. But many homeowners are hesitant to refinance.

Whether it’s because of the inconvenience, the cost of refinancing, the worries about something going wrong, or uncertainty about whether they’ll actually save money if they go through the process, millions of homeowners are missing out.

So, in this article, we’re going to talk about some reasons it may be a good idea for you to refinance. If you’re one of the millions of Americans with a mortgage who are thinking about refinancing, this post is for you.

Riding the wave of the economy

Interest rates on home loans are historically low right now. As a result, homeowners can save by refinancing simply due to changing tides of the real estate market. Although mortgage rates have increased slightly over the past two years, they’re still on the low end, so this could be your last chance to save.

To consolidate your debt

Credit cards, auto loans, and other forms of debt can add up quickly. If you have a high-interest rate on your other debts, refinancing could be a good way to consolidate and save.

This can be achieved through a home equity loan or by refinancing with a cash-out option. This means you refinance your mortgage for more than you currently owe and take the remainder in cash to pay off your other debts with high-interest payments.

Typically, you need to have at least 20% equity (or have paid off 20% of your mortgage) to be eligible for this option.

Small percentages count for more now

It was once said that refinancing only made sense if you would receive a lower interest rate of at least 1-2%. However, with the prices of homes increasing over the years, sometimes even a small change, such as .75% is enough to save you substantial money on your repayment.

You’re able to repay early

One of the best ways to save on a home loan is by refinancing to a shorter term. Going from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan can save you thousands. There are several calculators available for free online that will enable you to estimate how much you could save by refinancing to a 15-year mortgage.

You got a raise

One of the best times to refinance is when you can be certain that you can afford to pay off your loan sooner. As people progress in their career, it isn’t uncommon for them to refinance their loan so that they can spend more each month but save in the long run.

Since you have a higher income, and likely higher credit, you can also refinance a variable rate loan to lock in a lower fixed rate.





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Posted by Donna Coffin on 2/23/2018

Do you know the difference between adjustable-rate and fixed-rate mortgages? An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) includes an interest rate that will change periodically based on market conditions. In many cases, homebuyers prefer fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs), as these mortgages enable homebuyers to pay the same monthly mortgage payment for the life of their loan. Conversely, an ARM may start with lower monthly payments but could rise over an extended period of time. This means that an ARM is likely to result in mortgage payments that vary over the years. Although an ARM may seem like an inferior option to its fixed-rate counterpart, there are several scenarios in which a homebuyer may prefer an ARM, including: 1. A Homebuyer Is Purchasing a Residence for the First Time. A first-time homebuyer may enter the real estate market with lofty expectations. But upon realizing there are few housing options that meet his or her needs, this buyer may settle for a house that represents a short-term residence. In this scenario, a homebuyer may be better off selecting an ARM. With an ARM, a first-time homebuyer may be able to make lower monthly payments in the first few years of homeownership. And then, when a better homeownership opportunity becomes available, this buyer may be able to work toward upgrading from his or her starter residence. 2. A Homebuyer Expects His or Her Income to Rise. The economy may fluctuate at times, but those who are assured of a higher income over the next few years may be better equipped to handle an ARM. For example, a student who is enrolled in a medical residency program may be a few years away from becoming a doctor. At the same time, this student wants a nice place that he or she can call home and may consider an ARM because it offers lower monthly payments initially. After this student completes the residency program, he or she likely will see a jump in his or her annual income as well. Thus, this homebuyer may be best served with an ARM. 3. A Homebuyer Is Facing an Empty Nest. Will your children soon be moving out of the home in the next few years? If so, now may be a great time to consider an ARM if you'd like to move into a new residence. Parents who are facing an empty nest in the next few years may be better off living in a larger residence for now, then downsizing after their children leave the nest. Therefore, with an ARM, parents may be able to buy a nicer home with lower monthly payments. And after their kids move out, these parents always can look into downsizing accordingly. Deciding which type of mortgage is right for you can be challenging for even an experienced homebuyer. Fortunately, lenders are available to answer any concerns or questions you may have, and your real estate agent may be able to offer guidance and tips as well. Explore all of the mortgage options at your disposal before you purchase a new residence. By doing so, you'll be equipped with the necessary information to make an informed decision that will serve you well both now and in the future.





Posted by Donna Coffin on 12/29/2017

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial milestones you’ll reach in your life. If you’re 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 you’ll be paying toward your home in total. So, it’s important to understand just how much to save for a down payment.

In this article, we’ll 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 you’re 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. That’s 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 aren’t 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 isn’t always an option to hold off on moving for long periods of time.

If you’re 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 you’re 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 don’t deviate from your savings plan for any reason.




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