Here’s the low-down on buying a house with a minimal down payment.
These are excellent loan programs. I’ve highlighted some advantages of each.
- Only 3% down payment.
- You don’t have to be a first-time home buyer.
- Can be a house or condominium.
- You get the same low interest rate as the buyers with 20% down.
- Reduced monthly mortgage insurance fee.
- There is an income limit, unless the neighborhood is an area with low home ownership (called under-served area).
- 620 credit score or higher.
- Money comes from Freddie Mac (get the loan through your mortgage broker).
This is Fannie Mae’s version of HomePossible.
- 680 credit score or higher.
FHA – Federal Housing Administration
- Down payment is 3.5%.
- 580 credit score
- Bankruptcy Chapter 7 okay after 24 months discharge.
- Can be a house, condominium, or manufactured home.
- No education class required.
- Has an upfront mortgage insurance fee of 1.75% that is rolled into the loan.
I recommend speaking with a mortgage broker who will find the best and lowest priced loan that is available for you. Only a mortgage broker is required by federal lending law to get you the lowest interest rate available. Why? Because mortgage brokers shop wholesale lenders for you. Banks, credit unions, and direct lenders use their own money, so they don’t have the wholesale options. Therefore, they are allowed to charge you whatever they like (within limits). For example, today a home buyer received a quote from a direct lender (rhymes with Build Mortgage) with an interest rate of 5.5% whereas the mortgage broker’s rate is 4.5%.
If you are in Washington or California, I am licensed in those two states and would be happy to help you! (NMLS # 1284134)
You can apply online here.
Here’s why I think you should contact your Realtor and make an offer on a house now rather than wait for fall.
1) The Federal Reserve Board is expected to raise interest rates in September. This will make your monthly payment go up.
2) The bidding wars have ended. For example, here in Seattle where bidding fights were the norm, houses are now selling with only one full price offer coming in, not multiple bids.
3) Fewer buyers are out making offers in August. People are on vacation or out camping, and thinking they’ll look in the fall. Less buyer competition is good for you.
Be encouraged! Get out there and get your own home now before rates go higher. Perfect credit not required!
If you are in California or Washington, I am licensed (NMLS 1284134) in those two states and happy to help you. I am getting good folks with credit challenges approved! You can apply online here.
Some accounts influence your credit score more than others. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
Having a $300,000 mortgage is a greater responsibility than having a credit card.
Here is the order of importance/influence of type of account:
- Mortgage loans give you the most points. Always pay your home loan first and foremost. No exceptions. If you get in trouble and can’t pay all your bills, pay your mortgage on time, every time. Protect your home and your credit.
- Installment loans such as auto loans and student loans. An installment loan has a set payment and ending date. These count second for influence and importance.
- Revolving credit cards. This is ongoing credit. It is of least importance, but it is still important. Pay on time if you want a good credit score. If your score is 800 and you have one late payment on a credit card, your score can plummet by 100 points.
- Hard money loans are horrid and will negatively impact your credit score. Avoid hard money loans. These are finance company loans, cash advance loans, and payday loans that carry a high interest rate. They are rip-offs. They hurt your credit score, even if you pay on time, because only people who are “hard up” take a hard money loan.
When you understand credit, you are not at the mercy of the credit bureaus — you are in control. Create a good credit history and earn a top tier score. That way, you will save tens of thousands of dollars on everything from your mortgage to your insurance premiums. And, gain self-respect and the respect of the financial community.
Coming this fall, my new book, Build and Protect Your Credit Like the Pros. More information coming later, and not to be missed. Feel free to subscribe. I post about once/week.
A loan on a primary residence is different than a loan on a rental home. An investment property
requires a larger down payment (10% minimum) and has a higher interest rate. Some people don’t like that rule.
Such as a certain 38-year old living in Washington, D.C., who decided to “fudge” on his loan application.
Mr. Imran Awan applied online with his credit union for a home equity line of credit. He made the application in his wife’s name and stated it was her primary residence, owner-occupied.
The credit union approved the loan and gave them $165,000. Awan then sent the money to his father in Pakistan.
One year later, in January 2017, Awan paid off the loan. But wait, the story is not over.
The property was not owner-occupied. There were renters living in the house all along. He had deliberately lied on his loan application in order to get the line of credit that is not allowed on rental properties.
Both husband and wife were arrested on felony charges. I don’t know if Awan’s wife was blindsided or if she was in on the scheme, but I do know that Awan pleaded guilty in exchange for his wife being dropped from all charges.
He awaits his sentencing on August 21st. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.*
The lesson here is that paying a higher interest rate for a non-owner occupied home (or foregoing a line of credit) is better than being awarded a new primary residence in prison.
When Can a Person Turn Their Primary Residence Into a Rental?
The standard Deed of Trust allows a home owner to turn their primary residence into a rental after one year of occupancy. Then the person can purchase another primary residence and repeat, and then purchase a third home. And so on. This is one way to acquire a portfolio of investment properties, and it is perfectly legal.
* It is expected that the prosecutor will not ask for a prison sentence for Imran Awan because he paid back the loan in full. But one attorney says he could get six months. Ultimately, the judge will decide.
Elisabeth is best known for her work on Good Morning America, The Washington Post and Dr. Oz.
Easy Money is full of surprising ways to MAKE more, SAVE more and find YOUR unclaimed money.
I shared my story about the benefits of improving your credit score . Let me know what you think of my episode!
As we celebrate living in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, it occurred to me that being strapped with bad credit is the opposite of freedom. When you can’t enjoy life because you’ve got creditors hounding you to pay bills, that is not freedom. When you can’t get a decent interest rate on a car loan or decent insurance premiums because of a low credit score, that is not fun.
I urge you to take control of your credit and finances. No matter where you are today, you can make a plan for your future. It might not happen overnight, it might take some self-discipline, and some work — but that is what our legacy is all about.
Our forefathers and foremothers — all of them, not matter where they came from, whether rich or poor — wanted to be free. Let’s grab hold of that spirit of determination and pursue whatever it is that we need to do in order to make tomorrow better.
Credit repair is legal and ethical, when it is done properly. Others are repairing their credit and restoring their good name, and you can, too.
Harold from Indiana wrote this is an email (and gave permission to share it):
My score has gone up 89 points in a 2 month period. After mailing the letters it didn’t take long for them to respond, maybe 2 weeks. I will continue to work at improving my credit. Once again your book is amazing and it truly works.
He is talking about Repair Your Credit Like the Pros: How credit attorneys and certified consultants legally delete bad credit and restore your good name. You can get more details here.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July! God bless America!
Mortgage lenders require title insurance, and for good reason. Title insurance protects your investment (and theirs) and your ownership of the home.
Why Title Insurance is Worth the Cost
What if, after closing, an individual contacted you and said, “My grandma used to live in that house and I am an heir to the property. Sorry to inform you, but I actually own this home, and I never authorized it to be sold.”
What if a roofing contractor said he was never paid for his work and you find out there is a lien, and now you are being sued in court for payment of the roof over your head?
What if a previous owner got a divorce and the ex-spouse is now suing for his or her half of ownership?
What if another individual somewhere in the country has your same name, and that person owes an attorney tens of thousands of dollars, and now that attorney has placed a lien on every person they can find with that name?
All of these scenarios have happened, and you might be surprised at how often. Title problems occur in more than a third of residential real estate transactions, according to Ticor Title.
These are only a few of a myriad of things that could cost you big without title insurance to protect your good name and ownership.
The good news is that title insurance is a one-time fee paid at closing. There is no monthly bill and yet the insurance protects you as long as you own the property — and it extends to your heirs. However, if you refinance, you will need to buy another title search and policy due to having a new mortgage loan.
It’s easy to see why a mortgage lender won’t invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a home without the safety of title insurance.
What if you pay cash? Is title insurance required then?
No, title insurance is optional. But knowing the pitfalls, who would be foolish enough to forego this protection?
If you pay cash and didn’t buy title insurance, can you add it later?
No, the only time you can buy title insurance is at closing. This is when the insurance company searches the history and clears any false liens, judgments, errors, fraudulent claims, etc.
So, when you see that seemingly large fee on your Closing Disclosure, go ahead and smile, because title insurance is keeping you safe from so many financial nightmares.
Which will cost you more: Having a low credit score or getting charged with Driving While Drunk?
If you’re thinking like an insurance company, you’re going to say the low credit score is worse than the DWI. And you’re going to charge your drivers higher premiums for it.
Is that reasonable? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be a passenger in a car with a driver who had a low score than with an intoxicated driver.
Look at this comparison of auto insurance costs for an average new insurance customer*:
Low Credit Score: $1,521 insurance premium
High Credit Score but with a DWI: $1,097 insurance premium
The person with a low credit score pays $424 more than the person with the DWI.
Keep in mind that you can have a low score simply by carrying too much credit — even if all your payments are made on time.
I have seen credit reports for physicians, dentists, and attorneys who had low scores due to carrying a lot of credit. These professionals had high incomes and could easily afford their credit. They made all payments as agreed. But, according to statistics, they have higher insurance premiums than the person driving drunk!
Does this make sense to you? I’d love to hear what you think.
In the meantime, it cannot be overstated how important it is to have a good credit score. A low score will cost you more in every financial arena, from buying a home to insurance premiums to credit card rates.
If your score is below 740, you will be wise to examine your report to determine how you can improve it and save yourself a bundle of money.
*Thanks to Chad Kusner, president of Credit Repair Resources, Inc. for the statistics.
Some of my book readers have been asking me if they should close out their extra credit cards. They may have a Visa, MasterCard, Sears, Target, Macys, Chevron, and Walmart card. They do not need all of those cards, because Visa and MasterCard will handle it all.
But my answer is NO and here’s why.
By closing the cards you already have open, you risk losing credit points.
You gain points for having a long history of credit. By closing old cards, you could lower your average length of credit.
You gain points for using a small portion of your available credit. This is calculated in two ways:
1) A low balance-to-limit ratio on an individual card.
2) A low balance-to-available credit ratio on all your cards.
If you close out all your store cards that you don’t need, you could hurt your score per #2 above. Your balance-to-available credit ratio could go up (depending on your remaining credit).
So, in general, if you have extra cards you don’t need, let them set open and unused. That way, you won’t risk losing points.
What If You Only Have Three Credit Cards?
If you only have two or three credit cards, that is enough and you do not need to seek out more. If you have two credit cards, plus one other trade line on your credit report, such as an auto loan or student loan, then that’s perfect. You have three accounts showing on your credit report, which is what you want for a conventional mortgage loan.
Best practice for a high credit score is to keep your balance-to-limit ratio low on all your credit cards. I suggest keeping it at 30% or less. Never go over 50%, because that will dock points. And never, ever max out your cards!
Thank you for reading this post. Feel free to pass it on to others via social media, because a lot of folks are using too much credit without realizing it is hurting their scores.
Attention Home Buyers! Do not expect your loan to close smoothly if you make one of these money moves during your loan process (or right before your loan process). In fact, it could actually cause your approval to slip and fall into a denial.
“Can they do that? I have my approval in writing?” you may ask.
Absolutely. The lender can withdraw your loan approval — even after giving you a written commitment — if they perceive that you have become a greater credit risk.
Seven Mistakes to Avoid
1) Don’t apply for new credit of any kind.
2) Don’t pay off collections or charge-offs during the loan process.
3) Don’t close credit accounts, not even old ones you haven’t used in a long time.
4) Don’t increase the balance on your credit cards, which also means don’t buy furniture, appliances, or anything else for your upcoming new home until after closing.
5) Don’t consolidate your debt onto one or two cards.
6) Don’t co-sign on a loan for anyone.
7) Don’t change your name during the loan process.
If you need clarification about any of the seven, let me know. But please, take this advice as “set in stone” unless your loan officer has specifically given you an exception, because the last thing you need is more stress during your loan closing.