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Mike Morse

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Displaying blog entries 41-47 of 47

Fixed mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week. The federal government’s shutdown and ongoing recovery concerns, particularly the Fed’s decision to continue its bond-buying stimulus program, are attributed to the recent decline of key mortgage loans. The drop in rates comes after averages spiked by more than a percentage point since early May.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage loan dropped 0.10 percentage point this week, according to the latest survey from mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. After trending at 4.57 percent in early September, the average rate on a 30-year fixed is now at 4.22 percent – a difference of 0.35 percentage point month-over-month and its lowest mark since June 20. Still, the average is considerably higher than it was at this time last year, when the 30-year fixed was trending at 3.36 percent.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed loan also dipped for the third consecutive week. The current average is at 3.29 percent – a difference of 0.08 percentage point week-over-week and a 0.30 percentage point month-over-month. A year ago, the average on a 15-year fixed was 2.69 percent.

There was moderate change with hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages over the last week. The five-year ARM registered a slight drop, falling to 3.03 percent from 3.07 percent. The average rate on a one-year ARM remained at 3.28 percent week-over-week.

Mortgage rates previously spiked in July due to speculation that the Federal Reserve would curb its bond-purchase program, massive stimulus policies involving $85 million worth of Treasury notes and mortgage-backed securities. However, the recent relief is a result of indications from the Federal Reserve that it would maintain its bond-buying program at its current levels until employment numbers improved, which should push mortgage rates down in the future.

Also influencing rates is the current government stoppage, which has impacted the amount of mortgage applications that are processed. Rates hovering near historic lows have kept home buyers interested, but the shutdown has slowed the ability of lenders looking to confirm borrowers’ incomes and identities.

“With the onset of the federal government shutdown and declining consumer confidence, fixed mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “Consumer sentiment fell for the second month in a row in September to its lowest reading since April, according to the University of Michigan. Moreover, a recent Bloomberg survey of professional forecasters suggests that a partial federal shutdown lasting one week would shave 0.1 percentage points off of GDP growth in the fourth quarter and even more if the shutdown lasts longer.”

The number of mortgage applications submitted showed a decrease this week after a two-week uptick.

Don’t expect to see much of a change over the next week. In the latest Mortgage Rate Trend Index by Bankrate.com, analysts were split on whether rates would trend downward or stay the same of the next week.

“There is a lot going on right now that can impact interest rates both higher and lower,” opined FBC Mortgage planner Jim Sahnger. “However, economic numbers continue to be lackluster. Uncertainty will keep the favorable rates we have in check.”

Provided by realtor.com

5 Creative Ways to Come Up With a Down Payment

by Mike Morse

To successfully purchase a home today, you will need a down payment of at least 3.5% of the purchase price. Gone are the days of no down payment alternatives, down payment assistance and seller-offered programs to come up with the money needed to buy a home. Instead, let’s look at the five ways you can come up with a down payment to seal the deal.

1. Gift Money
Gift money is simply that — a gift from family or documented close relationship. The giftor needs to provide a gift letter and paper trail of the monies they are gifting for the benefit of the buyer. In other words, they’ll have to provide a bank account showing they had the ability to gift the money. In short, gift monies cannot be funds sitting at home in a safe.

2. 401(k)/Retirement Loan
Typically, borrowed funds for a down payment are a no-go, but the exception is a 401(k) or equivalent retirement account (or current home equity line). If you can borrow money from your 401(k) for your down payment, this is accepted for obtaining a purchase mortgage loan.

Note: Depending on the terms of your loan, this could be counted as a liability and factored into your debt to income ratio.

3. Sale of a Good
Believe it or not, you can sell your recreational vehicle and use the net proceeds from the transaction as your down payment. Let’s say you decide to sell your motorcycle for $10,000. You’ll need to provide the full bill of sale — as well as the bank statement depositing those funds, matching the bill of sale — to your mortgage lender. Same goes for any other recreational vehicle, or other item that “makes sense.” The key is as long as it’s plausible and passes the litmus test and you can paper trail the monies from start to finish, you should have no problem using those monies for the house purchase.

4. Trust Funds, Settlement Awards, Etc.
If you come into a chunk of change via an inheritance, settlement, lottery winning, trust fund disbursement, family buyout, even a gambling victory, all of these monies can be used for the down payment as long as the sourcing of the monies is fully documented from A to Z with no stone left unturned. Matching of the amounts of monies used to the original deposits will be required when it comes time to secure the loan.

5. Line of Credit
Where a down payment lacks, enter strength in income. You can take out a line of credit or a personal loan, deposit the full funds into your bank account and after two months, the funds will be eligible for use in the transaction.

While a down payment is needed to purchase in the current real estate market, a prudent homebuyer should also have plans for having available funds for closing costs. The same out-of-the-box strategies listed above can also be used to procure funds for closing costs.

Closing costs run 3% of the purchase price, on average. So the total funds to close would be sum 3% of purchase price +3.5% down.

Do your homework. If you don’t have a down payment for a house, or your down payment is coming from more than one source, make sure you talk to a lender upfront so they can help you navigate the best way to properly support and document your monies used. Doing this on the front end will save you from wasting time creating and gathering unnecessary paperwork.

Understanding the Earnest Money Deposit

by Mike Morse

The earnest money deposit is an important part of the home-buying process. It tells the seller you’re a committed buyer and helps fund your down payment.

What Is Earnest Money?
Earnest money is a deposit on the house you want to buy. It shows sellers that you are earnest about buying their home.

Without earnest money, you could make offers on many homes, essentially taking them off the market until you decided which one you liked best. Sellers rarely accept offers without deposits.

Assuming that all goes well and you buy the house, the earnest money will go toward the down payment and closing costs. In many circumstances, you can get most of your deposit back if you discover something that you don’t like about the home.

How Much Should You Put Down in the Earnest Money Deposit?
The amount of the deposit varies. In a slow real estate market, $500 or $1,000 might be enough. When there is more demand for the house, the seller will require more — usually 1-3 percent of the offer.

In some markets demand is so great that the seller will look for a higher deposit before accepting your offer over someone else’s. You can sometimes win a bid if you give the seller a large deposit. In fact, the seller may be willing to come down in price a little if you make a bigger deposit. If your deposit is extremely large, your mortgage lender may want to verify the source of the funds. As long as you can show you’ve had the money for at least 60 days, it won’t be a problem.

When Do You Pay the Earnest Money, and Who Holds It?
You hand over earnest money after your offer on a home has been accepted and you have signed the purchase agreement. The title company often holds the deposit. In some states, the real estate agent holds the deposit. Always check the credentials of the firm or broker taking the deposit, and verify that the funds will be held in escrow until the purchase goes through.

Never give the earnest money to the seller. It could be impossible to get it back if something goes wrong.

Can You Get Your Earnest Money Back?
If the deal falls through, a small cancellation fee is usually taken out of the deposit, but the remainder remains in escrow. Whoever holds the deposit determines whether you should get the money back under the terms of the purchase agreement.

Make sure that the purchase agreement covers how a refund is handled. Eager buyers sometimes give up their rights. But keep in mind that even if you are pre-approved for a mortgage loan, you can be declined when you apply for one. Standard contracts allow you to recover your earnest money deposit in this case. You can also usually get your money back if you find problems with the property.

Laura Sherman wrote this article.

How to Pull Cash From the Home You Just Bought

by Mike Morse

As this exuberant housing market takes shape, the chance to harvest equity – to tap into idle cash – from your home may prove to be a worthwhile endeavor. In March 2011, Fannie Mae lifted the requirement that you had to hold title to a property for six months before you were allowed to access your cash equity.

The change has since allowed homeowners to acquire property and then immediately cash-out refinance to replenish liquidity, purchase other real estate, do home improvements or pay off debt. However, while it is a viable strategy, successfully sealing the deal on the “delayed financing” is something else entirely. Here’s what you need to know.

A Free and Clear Property
The property – whether it’s a single-family residence, multi-family property, condominium or planned unit development – must be free and clear of any liens. In other words, there can be no recorded mortgages on the title. Essentially, you can pay cash for a house, then turn around and immediately do a cash-out refinance without having to wait six months, as previous guidelines required. In a competitive purchase market with multiple offers, using this strategy to buy other real estate can give you an advantage, because with cash financing, the close of escrow can be days rather than weeks, as other buyers line up financing.

Supporting Documentation
This is where things can get tricky. If you’ve gotten a mortgage in the past three years, you’ll know the level of documentation and scrutiny underwriting gives to supporting documentation, as well as credit, debt, income and assets. Such is true with the “delayed financing rule refinance” – supporting documentation is key to getting the cash.

Delayed Financing Essentials
You can access up to 70% of the current appraised value or the acquisition price of the property, whichever is lower. For example, if the price of the home was $400,000, with an appraised value $425,000 — 70% of $400,000 would be used, so the maximum loan amount would be $280,000. That 70% is applicable to a primary home, second home or investment property.

The new loan amount cannot be more than the documented amount of the initial capital used to acquire the property, including any applicable closing costs, prepaid fees (taxes and insurance) or associated discount points.
The rates and terms are proportionately higher. A cash-out refinance will contain an added small margin because the loan is a “cash-out.” Other factors could lead to adjustments, as well — like your credit score, or the property type you’re refinancing (however, most delayed financing is sought for occupancy and investment properties).
There can be no relationship between the buyer and seller on delayed financing loans. Sorry gang, you cannot buy the home from your grandmother with cash, then re-mortgage immediately. This would revert back to the full six-month hold time. The relationship between the buyer and the seller must be at what’s called an “arm’s length.”
If the original seller of the property was an entity such as an LLC, principles of the LLC must be documented with their ability to sign on behalf of the entity.
The final closing statement from the recently acquired property must be provided, also called a HUD-1. This will support the fact no other liens were used to acquire the property.

Where Things Get Technical Fast
Properly sourcing the funds you use to acquire the property is essential. This means you’ll need to provide bank statements, personal loan documents, how the property was acquired — with every dollar accounted for. This is where it would be helpful to work with a lender who is proficient in successfully closing delayed financing deals.

Finally, while the property for which you’re seeking a cash-out refi must be free and clear of liens, there is an exception. If you took out a personal loan to purchase the property, that can be acceptable, as long as the terms are provided and the personal loan is paid off through the proceeds on the new loan being sought. The same goes for any other loans between parties used to purchase the property — they must be paid off through the net proceeds by closing time. The refinance provides a window for people looking to keep their cash liquid while at the same time conservatively leveraging real estate.

Published by: Scott Sheldon is a senior loan officer and consumer advocate based in Santa Rosa, California. His work has appeared in Yahoo! Homes, CNN Money, MarketWatch and The Wall Street Journal. Connect with him at Sonoma County Mortgages.

Should I Buy a Home Now?

by Mike Morse

We are often asked if this is a good time to buy a home. Some clients are concerned that home prices may fall down the road, while others are convinced that home prices will go up.

Home prices are one factor in determining your cost of ownership, but so are interest rates and financing availability. Even though interest rates have fluctuated, they are still near historic lows. Since your monthly mortgage payment is a combination of paying down your principal and paying the interest owed, a one point rise in interest rates could cost tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage!

While a home is a major investment, it is also the center of your personal life. It's important to live in a home that reflects your taste and values, yet is within your financial "comfort zone." To that end, it may be more important to lock in today's relatively low interest rates while they are still available.

Please give a Morse Real Estate RealtorĀ® a call if we can be of any assistance in determining how much home you can afford in today's market.

Mike Morse
Broker & Owner
(402) 677-6356

The Top 5 Mistakes Home Buyers Make And How to Avoid Them

by Mike Morse

From the beginning of your home search through closing escrow, there’s an awful lot to think about and do.

It’s not unusual to make a mistake along the way. But with the financial stakes so high, a false move can end up costing you a lot of money.

Here are five common home buyer mistakes, with tips on how to avoid them.

You expect to get the price down after making an offer
The real estate market is heating up across the country. In many markets, homes are selling for more than asking price.

Some buyers win the bidding war by going over asking — only to try to negotiate the price down by asking for credits during escrow.

This strategy may work sometimes, especially in a weak seller’s market. But we’re in a competitive market for buyers now, so don’t count on it.

The seller most likely will have a backup offer from another buyer who really wants the home — and who is hoping your deal falls through.

If you start asking for unwarranted credits, the seller may simply go with the backup offer, leaving you out in the cold.

A better strategy: Make your best offer, and don’t assume you can negotiate it down later.

You wait until the eleventh hour to ask for credits
In Houston, a seller had put his house on the market with full disclosure that it had termites. A buyer made an offer and went into contract with the seller.

After further inspections, and at the eleventh hour, the buyer demanded an unreasonable amount be deducted from the sale price.

The buyer assumed that the seller, not wanting to put the house on the market again, would agree, just to close the deal. But that’s not what happened.

The seller agreed to reduce the price, but not by the full amount the buyer wanted.

The buyer ended up walking away from the deal. The house sold soon after at a higher price than what was negotiated with the first buyer.

Of course, you should ask for credits if an inspection turns up potentially costly repair work you didn’t know about when you made your offer.

But even in a buyer’s market, don’t assume you can get sellers to cave in to unreasonable demands at the last minute.

You chase a deal at all costs
Everyone wants to save money, especially on a high-ticket item such as real estate.

Unfortunately, this causes some would-be buyers to make lowball offers in hopes of getting a “deal.”

Or, potential buyers lose out on homes they might have been able to get otherwise, which ends up costing money in the long run.

For example, a renter in San Francisco spent three years looking for the best “deal” she could possibly get, passing up many good opportunities.

Eventually, her landlord wanted to sell the place she was renting. This forced her to finally buy, but under pressure. She ended up buying at the top of the market.

If she hadn’t held out for so long in hopes of scoring an amazing deal, she’d have saved herself a lot of money and time. She’d even have built up some equity in a home over those three years.

In a strong real estate market, the deals are in homes that have been overpriced and haven’t sold as a result, and/or properties that don’t show well because they need work.

If the home you want is well-priced, in a good neighborhood and doesn’t need much work, the best strategy is to make a solid offer and be prepared to go over asking if necessary.

You think you can do it all yourself
With so much information about homes available online today, many people, such as tech-savvy Gen X and Gen Y home buyers, may assume they can buy a home without a real estate agent’s help.

But this strategy often backfires.

First of all, the real estate agent’s role isn’t just about finding listings. With Internet access, buyers can easily find listings themselves.

The agent’s role today is more about presenting your offer to the seller’s agent in a way that will help get it accepted and making sure it sticks through an escrow.

A savvy agent knows the ins and outs of the local market better than an uninformed buyer with a full-time job and family.

A good agent will know the back-stories behind the comps, for example.

He or she will know that a comparable home sold for 5 percent less (than the home you’re considering) only because the sellers were divorcing, or the property had a retaining wall problem.

Without an agent, you’d simply see that the comparable home sold for 5 percent less.

You might ask the seller of the home to match that 5 percent reduction — and you’d be surprised when the seller says, “No thanks.”

Also, experienced agents have a strong network in the local market, which can give you an added edge. Good agents like to work with other good agents.

And if nothing else, keep in mind that a listing agent might not even consider working with an unrepresented buyer.

Finally, the seller pays the buyer’s real estate commission, so having an agent for your home search costs you nothing anyway.

Most importantly, there’s bound to come a time during the complicated real estate transaction when you have serious doubts or big questions.

Your agent can be the trusted adviser you need to walk you through the maze.

You don’t think like a seller
Most likely, at some point in the future you’ll need to sell the home you’re about to buy. That’s why it’s important to think like a potential seller as well as a buyer.

Case in point: In 2005, a buyer in San Francisco bought a home with no garage.

The house was on multiple transit lines, he used his bicycle to get around and he knew he’d have access to a leased garage space if he needed it. So he felt he didn’t need a garage.

Three years later, the market was slower, but the owner had to sell.

He didn’t feel his home should be priced less than a comparable property with a deeded garage because his house was so centrally located. Plus, he had that leased garage space to offer.

The problem was, many buyers drive to work, and they don’t want to risk losing a leased garage space.

The result was that many buyers wouldn’t even look at his home’s photos online, let alone go to the open house — because it lacked a garage.

So when you’re buying a home, put yourself in a potential seller’s shoes. The last thing you want is to buy a dream home that becomes a nightmare when it’s time to sell.

“The Top 5 Mistakes Home Buyers Make — And How to Avoid Them” was provided by Zillow.com. 

Back-to-School Home Search Tips

by Mike Morse

It’s that time of year when families consider moving to get their children into a good school district. At realtor.com we recently conducted a back-to-school survey to see how much weight schools have in the home-buying decision. The results show that school-district boundaries do impact the buying decision for more than 60 percent of realtor.com home buyers.

We also found that home buyers are willing to pay more and give up certain features for a home located in their district of choice. These buyers are especially willing to give up access to shopping and nearby parks and trails, among other amenities, to reside within the school-district boundaries of their choice.

A majority of the home buyers surveyed said that school-district boundaries will have an impact on their buying decision:

23.59 percent would pay 1-5 percent above budget
20.70 percent would pay 6-10 percent above budget
8.98 percent would pay 11-20 percent above budget
40.33 percent would not go above budget
For home buyers who said that school-district boundaries will have an impact on their decision, the majority rated the boundaries as an “important” consideration:

90.53 percent said school-district boundaries are  “important” or “somewhat important”
2.04 percent were “neutral” about the importance of school-district boundaries
7.43 percent said school-district boundaries are “unimportant” or “very unimportant”
A new house can mean more space, great neighborhoods and good schools. Follow these five tips to find your dream home near the right school:

Know your family’s needs. Is your family growing? Is square footage the most important factor, or a large backyard? Make a list of exactly what you need in your family’s new home.
Search for homes by the best schools with the realtor.com mobile app. Only realtor.com lets you search for the home you want near the ideal school or school district.
Review school information in the app. The Schools tab provides detailed information about the grades taught at each school, including the student-teacher ratio and the GreatSchools rating.
Look for parks and play areas in the map view. View your search results on a map and narrow results by homes that have a place for your kids to get the wiggles out. You can also look for other things that matter to you, like how far away it is from a baseball diamond. Draw your own search boundary with your finger, if a specific area really matters to you.
Make a list of questions for your Realtor. When you’re ready to tour the homes on your short list, be prepared with the questions that will help you make the best investment. Ask about things that matter specifically to you and your family but also what matters for the home’s future value. Your Realtor will be able to guide you to find the right home, in the right location, near the right school.

Provided by Realtor.com

Displaying blog entries 41-47 of 47