Could a Refinance Help you?

It’s Not too Late to Refinance

With mortgage rates below 4% since May 2019, you would think that most people would have already refinanced but according to a recent Lending Tree survey, 49% of homeowners say they are considering a mortgage refinance in the next year.  The report estimated that over a third of homeowners have mortgages above 4% and 11% didn’t know what their rate was.

Slightly more than a third of the people surveyed regretted missing the opportunity to refinance in 2020 when rates did hit their historical low.  Homeowners should not beat themselves up on this issue because the only way to tell that it hit bottom is after it has started going up again.

The current rates are very favorable to borrowers and some economists believe that when inflation is factored in, the rates are close to zero effectively.

While there are nine specific reasons people choose to refinance their homes, two are among the most prevalent: to lower the payment or take cash out of the equity.  Most reasons include:

  1. Lower the payment
  2. Lower the rate to pay less interest
  3. Shorten the term to pay off the loan sooner
  4. Take cash out of equity to pay off higher cost debt
  5. Take cash out of equity to improve their liquidity
  6. To remove a person from the loan as in a divorce
  7. To combine a first and second mortgage
  8. To replace an adjustable-rate mortgage
  9. To consolidate debt

There are some commonly held myths about refinancing among homeowners such as:

  • You can only refinance your home once.
  • You must refinance through your current lender.
  • There should be two-percent difference in the rate to justify it
  • You need 20% equity to refinance
  • Applications require a lot of documents
  • You need cash to cover closing costs
  • You won’t save that much by refinancing
  • It’s free to refinance

If your current mortgage is a FHA, there is limited borrower credit documentation and underwriting program.  The mortgage must be current and not delinquent, and the refinance must result in a net tangible benefit to the borrower such as a lower rate, lower payment or better terms.  For more information, see Streamline or contact an FHA approved lender.

VA has a similar program if your existing mortgage is a VA-backed home loan. The purpose is for a borrower to reduce their payments or make their payment more stable.  They must certify they are currently living in or did live in the home covered by the loan. The Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, IRRRL, may be available.

USDA also has a program for current USDA direct and guaranteed rural homebuyers who have been current on their payments for 12 months prior to requesting the loan refinance.  No appraisal or credit review is required.  There must be a minimum of 40% net reduction to the PITI payment.  More information is available.

Before refinancing your home, determine how long you plan to keep the home.  If the reason for refinancing is to save interest by getting a lower rate, you may accomplish that immediately.  However, if you plan on selling soon, you may not be able to recapture the cost of refinancing.

There are costs associated with refinancing regardless of whether you pay for them in cash, or they are rolled into the cost of the mortgage.  These costs can range from two to five percent of the mortgage.

Check out the Refinance Analysis to determine your breakeven point and savings.  Call if you have questions or want the recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional.

If you would like any professional residential Real Estate advice, contact us at Paramount Real Estate Services.  1008 12th St. SE Salem, OR 97302  503-851-1645

Also, to mobilize us right away to help you move, visit us here:

brianandnina.com/buyers

brianandnina.com/sellers

 

Is your Mortgage Assumable?

Where Did the Assumptions Go?

Mortgage assumptions have not been a practical matter for the last 30 years because mortgage rates have been on a steady decline.  Even if the seller had a rate lower than the current rate, the new purchaser must qualify to assume the loan.

In the case of conventional loans, the lender has the right to increase the rate to the current rate which neutralizes the reason for assuming the loan.  This change took place in the early 1980’s when lenders added due on sale provisions so lower rates could not be assumed.

FHA and VA loans can be assumed at the existing rate with the provision that the purchaser qualifies for the loan.  This could be an advantage if the rate on the loan to be assumed was lower than the current mortgage rate for FHA or VA and the buyer is going to owner-occupy.  Unfortunately, investors are prohibited from assuming FHA and VA loans.

Besides the obvious advantage of a lower rate which would have a lower payment, the closing costs are lower on an assumption than originating a new loan.  Another benefit is that the loan will be further into the amortization schedule than starting a new 30-year loan which means it would be retired sooner while the equity is also growing faster.

The current rates are close to one-percent lower than they were a year ago, so, assumptions are probably not a method of financing a home purchase in the near future.  The Freddie Mac forecast expects rates to remain low, possibly at a yearly average of 3.0% in 2021.

Mortgage rates have remained low since the Great Recession even though experts anticipated they would start trending upward.  If rates increase, especially rapidly, assumptions of FHA and VA loans could easily be a tool that buyers and real estate professional alike will be employing.  For sellers with an assumable loan at a below market rate, it could add to the value of the property as well as the marketability.

If you would like any professional residential Real Estate advice, contact us at Paramount Real Estate Services.  1008 12th St. SE Salem, OR 97302  503-851-1645

Also, to mobilize us right away to help you move, visit us here:

brianandnina.com/buyers

brianandnina.com/sellers

Are you needing a Forbearance?

Forbearance is Not Forgiveness

Forbearance is a temporary postponement of mortgage payments.  The lender can grant this option to a borrower instead of forcing the property into foreclosure.  The CARES Act provides protections for homeowners with mortgages that are federally or Government Sponsored Enterprise backed or funded such as FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

A mortgage holder should contact the lender to explain the temporary difficulty they are having making payments and ask for relief under forbearance or other options.  Once the lender grants approval, it is important for the borrower to get the terms of the forbearance agreement in writing to be clear about when the payments will resume and how the missed payments will be recovered.

Generally speaking, homeowners in a forbearance plan will not incur late fees and it should not adversely affect their credit.  Unfortunately, borrowers must be vigilant to see that the lender is protecting them from delinquent credit marks according to their agreement.

Forbearance is easy to receive but not so easy to recover from.  Free credit reports can be obtained on a weekly basis until April 21, 2021 at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.  Reports are available from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.  This will allow borrowers to monitor whether the lender has inadvertently reported items inaccurately.

Prior to the end of the forbearance period, borrowers should contact their loan servicer, the company that accepts their payments.  Review the terms of the forbearance plan and expectations for repayment.  Verify the unpaid balance and that there are not any payments marked as late or delinquent during the forbearance period.

One more item to discuss with the loan servicer is the payment of the property taxes and insurance.  Since multiple mortgage payments may have been missed and most payments include 1/12 of the annual amounts for these items, there may not be enough to pay for them when they become due.

Since it is estimated that there are over four million borrowers in forbearance currently, it may be difficult to talk to the servicer but starting the process early and being persistent will be helpful.

At the end of forbearance, the borrower needs to resume regular payments and establish a plan with the lender to repay the missed payments.  The terms are negotiated between the borrower and the lender.

One way is through a loan modification which can restructure the loan.  In some cases, it would add the missed payments to the loan balance and recalculate the payments for the remainder of the term.

A borrower could pay the forbearance money in cash but the practicality of that is not realistic.  If the person couldn’t make the payments during forbearance, they probably don’t have the liquidity to pay them afterward.  This option is entirely at the buyer’s election.

Forbearance is a temporary way to postpone the mortgage payments with the understanding that you will be able to resume repaying the loan.  If the circumstances that caused the issue initially become permanent, then, other remedies must be considered.  If there is equity in the property, selling the home may be the way to materialize it for the homeowner.

Please contact us at (503) 851-1645  if you need to know what your home is worth and how long it would take to sell it.  We’re happy to provide this information as a service without obligation so you can be aware of your options.

Also, to mobilize us right away to help you move, visit us here:

brianandnina.com/buyers

brianandnina.com/sellers

Reasons to Refinance

Three Reasons to Refinance

Three reasons to refinance a home include lowering the cost of housing, shortening the term of the mortgage to pay it off sooner or to using the equity to accomplish another purpose.

Replacing the mortgage at a lower interest rate, which is entirely possible in today’s market, would reduce the payment.  On the other hand, shortening the term of the mortgage could make the payments increase but would allow the home to be paid for sooner.  In either case, the equity would not be reduced unless the refinancing costs were rolled into the new mortgage.

Refinancing the home to take money out would increase the mortgage on the property and lower an owner’s equity; careful consideration should be made before doing so.

Mortgage rates are considerably lower than credit card rates and usually lower than short term borrowing like student loans or car loans.  For that reason, homeowners will sometimes refinance to payoff higher cost debt.

Some people refinance for more than their current balance to improve their cash position, possibly, to have funds available in case they need it.  Other reasons could be to use it for an investment such as rental property or other things.  Still others may use it to make capital improvements on their home like remodeling or a pool.

Another legitimate reason to refinance may be to combine a first and second lien on the home that might result in lower payments and a savings in interest.

One more situation that causes a person to refinance a home is to remove a former spouse or co-borrower from the existing mortgage.  In the case of a divorce, a couple may no longer be married and one of the former spouses may have no financial interest in the home any longer but because they signed the note originally, they are still liable along with the other spouse.  This could be an untenable position.

There can be a lot of reasons that cause a homeowner to refinance the home.  The equity is a valuable asset that has powerful borrowing power combined with the good credit and income of the homeowner.  A Refinance Analysis can help you to determine the new payments and how long it will recapture the cost of refinancing.

For the recommendation of a trust lender, give me a call at 503-851-1645.

Also, to mobilize us right away to help you move, visit us here:

brianandnina.com/buyers

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Mortgage Lenders

Good Decision for a Second Opinion

You’ve done your homework, contacted a mortgage company and believe you are pre-approved.  That part of the process is finished and you can concentrate of finding a home and moving…or can you?

Pre-qualified and pre-approved are two different things but some people, including some in the business, use the terms interchangeably.  Pre-qualified is an opinion of likelihood that a borrower will be approved based on preliminary information about their income and credit.  Whereas, in a pre-approval, the borrower’s credit report is updated and pulled, income and assets verified and involves pre-underwriting.

Even when you have a highly qualified loan officer, the real decision maker is the underwriter who can commit the lender.  Generally speaking, a person who has been pre-approved receives a written letter stating the terms and conditions of the commitment.

A second opinion from a different lender can be a comforting thing for a borrower.  It will either confirm that the first lender was correct and that the rate and terms being offered are competitive or it will reveal that there could be differences that would warrant more investigation.

Mortgage money is a commodity and while competition usually keeps lenders close to each other in the rates and terms they offer, you won’t know for sure unless you shop around.  The cost for being pre-approved is usually a nominal amount and when you are considering the size of the mortgage you’ll be borrowing for up to thirty years, it makes sense to get a second opinion.

Occasionally, during the process of being pre-approved, an unexpected credit problem may be discovered.  It is better to learn about it early so you’ll have time to correct it before you have contracted on a home.

Your real estate professional, Team Paramount, will be able to recommend lenders who are active, experienced in the area and can share their experience with you regarding previous loans they have made.  The benefits far exceed the time and effort it takes.  You’ll be looking at the right priced homes; getting the best loan, rate and terms; have increased negotiating power with the Seller and can close quicker because many of the verifications have already been made.

If you would like any professional residential Real Estate advice, contact us at Paramount Real Estate Services.  1008 12th St. SE Salem, OR 97302  503-851-1645

Also, to mobilize us right away to help you move, visit us here:

brianandnina.com/buyers

brianandnina.com/sellers

Create Wealth! Prepay your Mortgage.

Prepaying Your Mortgage

Paying off your mortgage can provide peace of mind and is a worthy goal but is it the best thing for you to do at this time.

Do you have higher interest rate debt currently?  If you have credit card debt with double-digit rates or personal, car or student loans, you’ll probably save more money from interest by paying these things off before you pay off your mortgage which is usually one of the lower rates on debt.

Many financial advisors recommend funding your annual retirement contribution before paying down a mortgage.  If your company offers matching funds for your contribution, you would be leaving money on the table by not making the contribution to your retirement.  For instance, you would be getting a $10,000 value by putting $5,000 into your retirement if your company matches it.

Creating an emergency fund is another favorite of financial advisors.  When the rainy day arrives and you need funds, it may be difficult to get money from the equity of your home, especially if you have lost your job.  Six months’ worth of living expenses is a good target to have available should you need it and a year’s worth would be even better.

Children’s college funds may be another priority that takes precedent overpaying off the mortgage.  Whether you’re saving or investing to pay for their education, it is going to cost more than it did when you were in school.

When you are ready to start paying off your mortgage, decide on the best way to do it.  Regular principal contributions on a monthly basis are very predictable and will get the job done.  Setting up an automatic bill pay with your bank will assure that you don’t re-prioritize that extra amount every month because there is always going to be something else to do with extra money.

It is important to be sure that the lender applies the additional payment amounts to the principal and not to the escrow account.

Use the Refinance Analysis to see what extra amount you’d have to pay to retire your mortgage in a certain time frame or by making a specific additional amount each payment, you can find out when the loan will be paid.  Regardless of which way you go, prepaying a loan will save interest, build equity and shorten the term on a fixed-rate mortgage.

If you would like any professional residential Real Estate advice, contact us at Paramount Real Estate Services.  1008 12th St. SE Salem, OR 97302  503-851-1645

Also, to mobilize us right away to help you move, visit us here:

brianandnina.com/buyers

brianandnina.com/sellers

Are you looking for Mortgage Forgiveness or Forbearance?

Mortgage Forgiveness

During the mortgage meltdown that caused the Great Recession a decade ago, some homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure or constructed a short sale to get out from under the debt.  In most of the cases, the lenders forgave all or part of the debt owed them.

Similarly, in the early 90’s after the failure of the Savings & Loans in the U.S., thousands of homeowners lost their homes in the same way but back then, the policy of the IRS was to consider the forgiven debt as income.  Today, it is still considered income which means that a homeowner could lose their home because they could not afford to pay for it and to make matters worse, they would owe income tax on the debt relieved.

The good news is that in 2007, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Act and it has continued to be extended with its current expiration of 12/31/20.

The amount forgiven for income tax purposes may not be the same amount owed to the lender.  Mortgage forgiveness has a limited exclusion for discharged home mortgage debt for a principal residence only; it does not include second homes or investment properties.  Only the amount of mortgage debt that can be treated as acquisition indebtedness in included.

In the example below, a homeowner purchased a home and refinanced the home five years later at 80% of the market value.  The new loan proceeds were used to payoff the original mortgage and make $30,000 of new capital improvements.  The revised acquisition debt is the acquisition debt at the time of refinance plus the capital improvements made with the loan proceeds.

The new $400,000 loan produced $39,417 of home equity debt which is not considered acquisition debt.  Home equity debt is money borrowed on a home and can be used for any purpose, but it may not be tax deductible or considered acquisition debt.  Acquisition debt is money borrowed to buy, build or improve a principal residence subject to a $750,000 limit.

Assume that the borrower never made a payment on the new loan.   If the new loan went through foreclosure while the Mortgage Forgiveness Relief Act is in effect, the forgiveness would be limited to the acquisition debt of $360,583 and the remaining amount of $39,417 would be considered income and subject to tax.

This article is meant to inform homeowners of liabilities associated with foreclosures and possible remedies that may be available.  This example is meant to illustrate the portion of a loan that could be forgiven.  Taxpayers should always consult their tax professional regarding their specific situation and the way the law would apply to their situation. For more information, see IRS Publication 4681.

 

Example

Purchase Price … 5 years ago

$400,000

Mortgage at time of purchase … Acquisition Debt

$360,000

Fair Market Value … Today, 5 years later

$500,000

Refinanced 80% – Loan to Value

$400,000

Replaced unpaid balance – current acquisition debt

$330,583

Capital improvements made with loan proceeds

$30,000

Revised acquisition debt

$360,583

Home equity debt … difference in refinanced amount and acquisition debt

$39,417

If you would like any professional residential Real Estate advice, contact us at Paramount Real Estate Services.  1008 12th St. SE Salem, OR 97302  503-851-1645

Also, to mobilize us right away to help you move, visit us here:

brianandnina.com/buyers

brianandnina.com/sellers

 

Is it Time to Refinance?

One More Reason to Refinance

Taking cash out of the equity of your home could be a legitimate way to fund a temporary cash crisis now or to have it on-hand if the need arises.  Most homeowners can pull out the difference in 80% of the fair market value of their home and what they currently owe.

The most frequently cited reasons for refinancing are to lower the payment, eliminate the private mortgage insurance, combine mortgages, consolidate debt, convert an ARM to a fixed rate mortgage, remove a person from the loan or to take cash out for another reason.

The option of using your equity to deal with unexpected living expenses or potential lost wages in the future could be a good reason for doing a cash-out refinance.  It is important to consider that it could increase your monthly payment instead of lowering it which would result in higher expenses during uncertain economic times.

Some lenders have recently raised the minimum credit score requirement but borrowers with good credit and the ability to repay should be able to refinance.  Lenders are reporting that during the Covid-19 crisis their processing time is taking longer but they have implemented procedures to safely facilitate the application as well as the appraisals.

While homeowners with an FHA loan are available for a streamline process because FHA is already insuring the mortgage to be refinanced, the cash-out is limited to $500.  Even though the owner may not be able to pull funds out of their FHA equity, refinancing may lower their payment and therefore, lower their expenses.

Unlike conventional loans that require income through a job or other sources, refinancing an existing FHA loan does not require income verification or an appraisal.  The borrower cannot be delinquent on their current FHA loan and it must be at least six months old.  The refinance must reduce the current interest rate or term or both.

Another alternative for homeowners is a HELOC, home equity line of credit, where you do not incur interest expense unless you actually draw on the line of credit.  It will be a variable rate home equity loan similar to a credit card letting you borrow up to a specific limit when you want and repay it slowly over time.

Refinancing a home incurs closing costs which can be paid in cash or added to the financed amount.  The breakeven point to recapture the cost of refinancing is determined by dividing the monthly savings into the cost of refinancing.  If you stay in the home less than that time, refinancing could be an unnecessary expense.

If you would like any professional residential Real Estate advice, contact us at Paramount Real Estate Services.  1008 12th St. SE Salem, OR 97302  503-851-1645

Also, to mobilize us right away to help you move, visit us here:

brianandnina.com/buyers

brianandnina.com/sellers

Is Mortgage Interest Deductible?

Some Mortgage Interest May Not be Deductible

Banks are concerned about making loans that will be repaid not about making loans that are tax deductible for homeowners.  It is good business for the bank but how is the homeowner supposed to know?

Most homeowners and potential homeowners are aware there are tax benefits associated with ownership.  For instance, mortgage interest and property taxes have been deductible expenses from federal income tax since it was enacted in 1913.

The current law provides that homeowners can deduct the interest on Acquisition Debt which is the amount of debt incurred to buy, build or improve a first or second home up to $750,000.  The amount of acquisition debt decreases as payments are made and it cannot be increased unless the additional funds borrowed are used for capital improvements.

It is not uncommon for a homeowner to refinance their home for any number of reasons.  It could be to get a lower interest rate that would lower the payments or remove mortgage insurance.  However, when additional funds are borrowed for reasons beyond “buy, build or improve”, the excess is considered personal debt and the interest is not deductible according to IRS.

Maybe this is not important if the owner is taking the standard deduction because it is higher than the total of the property taxes, qualified mortgage interest and charitable deductions made by the taxpayer.  Currently, it is estimated that 90% of homeowners are electing to use the increased standard deduction implemented with the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

A confusing issue that occurs at the end of the year is when the lender reports to the borrower the amount of interest that was paid.  While that amount is most probably accurate, the bank doesn’t know if it is qualified mortgage interest for the borrower.

It is the responsibility of the taxpayer to keep track of outstanding acquisition debt and whether part of the balance is considered personal debt.

Another area where it could become important is if the property was lost due to foreclosure, deed in lieu of foreclosure or a short sale.  The provisions of the Mortgage Forgiveness Act have been extended through 12/31/20 which exempts the forgiven debt from being considered income and therefore taxable.  However, it only applies to acquisition debt.  Any part of a mortgage refinance that is considered personal debt could be taxable in that situation.

As an example, let’s say that homeowners originally borrowed $300,000 to purchase a home that they owned for 15 years.  During that time, the home appreciated significantly, and they refinanced it twice.  Once, they made some improvements and took out cash to pay off personal loans and the second time, it was only a cash out.

Original acquisition debt

$300,000

Remaining acquisition debt including improvements

225,000

Unpaid balance on current mortgage

$550,000

Personal debt

325,000

 

In the example above, the personal debt of $325,000 would be considered income on foreclosure and recognizable as income on that year’s income tax return.

If you have never refinanced your home or have refinanced it but never taken any money out of it except to make capital improvements, your unpaid balance in most likely acquisition debt.  However, it you have refinanced your home and pulled money out of it for purposes other than capital improvements, those funds may be considered personal debt.

This article is for information purposes.  If you are unclear about the current acquisition debt on your home or need advice for your individual situation, contact your tax professional.  Additional information can be found in IRS Publication 936, Home Mortgage Interest Deduction.

If you would like any professional residential Real Estate advice, contact us at Paramount Real Estate Services.  1008 12th St. SE Salem, OR 97302  503-851-1645

Also, to mobilize us right away to help you move, visit us here:

brianandnina.com/buyers

brianandnina.com/sellers

Real Estate Numbers Rise for 2013

Existing Home Sales for the nation rose substantially for 2013 giving us the highest numbers that we’ve seen for 7 years.  This is encouraging to say the least, however, many factors still plague our country and the health of our economic recovery.  The United States needs to see more than the 70,000-200,000 private jobs created each month for us to have a strong economic recovery.  It is understood that the national unemployment rate dipped below 7%, but let’s be honest here.   Many people have left the workforce causing this number to look more attractive than it really is.  Many more people need to get back to work and be able to make attractive wages before our economy is not struggling on life support.

Regardless of how our overall economy is, people still need to find homes to live in.  We have witnessed the largest economic correction that the US has had in decades and people still find ways to buy their own home.  This is the resilience and creativity of the American people, which is what should be celebrated.  People are doing what they can to scratch and crawl their way to lending approval because they know the importance of owning their own home.  Taking advantage of the amazingly low interest rates is a strong motivator as well.  Allowing interest rates to rise before locking in that rate will cost a home buyer thousands of dollars over the term of their loan or the time they own the home.  As interest rates continue to rise through 2014, the buyers who are able to purchase now will be the ones creating more of their own wealth over time.  http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000

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