1) Stay in town during the loan process.
This is not the time to travel so that you are unavailable to provide additional documents the underwriter might ask for. If your vacation to Europe was pre-planned and cannot be changed, then allow ample time after you return home before the closing date. It is unrealistic to think you can check out during the loan processing and come back to sign one day later.
2) Leave your money where it is.
Do not transfer funds from one account to another during the loan process without your loan officer specifically instructing you to do so. In addition, do not transfer funds the two months prior to applying for a mortgage. The reason is because doing so can cause a paper-trail nightmare for you and the underwriter.
3) Leave your credit as is; open no new accounts.
If you open a new credit card or installment loan during the loan process, you are potentially sacrificing your home. Don’t do it! Although your credit has been checked and approved, it is likely your credit will be checked again right before closing. If new accounts appear, then your debt ratio and/or your credit score could suffer.
One first time home buyer decided to buy new appliances for the new home during the loan process. When her credit was re-checked, the new Sears account showed up and the payments put her debt ratio over the line. Her loan was denied! In order to proceed, she had to return the appliances and prove with receipts that she had done so. How embarrassing, right?
The same goes for buying a new automobile. Don’t even think about it! Your priority must be buying the house.
4) Write your purchase offer contingent on a home inspection.
Waiving a home inspection is a dangerous move. Inspectors are paid to find fatal flaws and major problems that are not obvious to the eye. When you visit a home, do you climb up on top of the roof? Do you crawl under the house? Do you inspect the electrical wiring, plumbing, water heater, sump pump, etc.? That is what your home inspector is for. It is an important step that prevents you from having to shell out thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars later.
5) Obtain your own buyer’s agent.
Calling the real estate agent listed on the for sale sign is a colossal mistake. The same goes for using the agent that is hosting the open house. When you use the seller’s agent, it is like using your opponent’s attorney in a court of law. Who would do that?! The seller’s agent is required by law to get the highest price and best terms for the seller. Dual-agency is not in your favor!
Since the seller pays for both the listing agent and the buyer’s agent, it is free to you to have your own expert agent representation. Therefore, there is never a reason not to do so. You do not save money or get a cheaper price on the house if you use the seller’s agent. Be smart and get your own agent representation.
Or, “Can I take a cash advance on my credit card to help with my down payment?”
The answer to both questions is no. Your down payment must be either your own money or gift money from family or grant money from an acceptable source. No part of your down payment can come from a loan, not even from your mom. No exceptions.
If a family member is providing cash toward your down payment, then they will need to sign a form letter stating it is a gift and no repayment is required. Usually, they also need to show the source of their gift money by providing a bank statement(s) or other document such as investment statement.
Why can’t you take a loan from your parents for a down payment? Because the lender thinks that if you get into financial trouble and have to make a choice between paying mom and dad or the mortgage bank, your family ties will be stronger and the bank will lose out. Therefore, it is an unacceptable risk to lending. The bank is not going to take “second position” behind your family.
Any other loan, such as a cash advance from a credit card, is also unacceptable. This would affect your debt ratio as well as put the bank at a higher risk for getting paid.
For a small down payment of only 3.5 percent of the purchase price, look at the FHA loan. FHA allows all of your down payment to be gift money from family.
If you are eligible for a VA loan, you may qualify for a zero down loan.
The no-down sub-prime loans of yesteryear are gone, and I think that’s a good thing. It takes time and discipline to save for a down payment and closing costs, and that’s not a bad thing either.
Can you imagine?! You pay off your mortgage (either by refinancing or selling the property), and even though you have a $0 balance, the lender keeps on charging you interest every day for the rest of the month.
“Can they do that?” you ask.
Yes, FHA (Federal Housing Admin) is and has been doing that to all their first time buyers who used their 3.5% down FHA loan.
This sneaky practice netted FHA an extra $587,000,000 in revenue–in one year alone, according to an article in the Washington Post by Kenneth R. Harney. Over the years, it’s added billions to their coffers.
What this amounts to is a prepayment penalty. If a home owner pays off their balance before the end of the month, they are penalized for the “early payment” and still have to pay their entire month’s payment. However, this is not disclosed to people up front. In fact, most of the time it is a BOLDFACE LIE. On the Truth-in-Lending form (TIL) near the bottom where there is a box to check yes or no for a prepayment penalty, the majority of banks and lenders check no prepayment penalty.
By contrast, conventional loans and VA loans stop charging their borrowers on the day the loan is paid off.
The National Association of Realtors has been complaining about FHA’s prepay penalty for years — to no avail. But now the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has added its muscle to the fight, and it looks like the FHA might be forced to stop grabbing extra dollars out of their customers’ wallets. However, the CFPB has given FHA a year to comply with their request, so we’ll have to wait to see how it all plays out.
In the meantime, if you are paying off an FHA loan, plan your closing for the end of the month so you don’t pay any (or many) extra days of interest payments.
According to a study by Campbell Surveys and Inside Mortgage Finance, real estate agents controlled or influenced 45% of homebuyers’ choice of lender.* Is this a good or bad thing? Let’s look at both sides, and then you can draw your own conclusion.
In Favor of Using Your Realtor’s Preferred Lender
A Realtor’s #1 concern is that the transaction gets closed–and on time. There’s nothing worse than having the lender mess up the process so a lose/lose/lose situation is created. If a bank has inept, inefficient, or crazy processing and underwriting so that your loan doesn’t close on time, it can create havoc with your moving schedule and purchase contract. The seller might not agree to extend your contract if there is a higher back-up offer. You could lose out on the house of your dreams; or if the seller agrees to an extension, your moving schedule gets messed up. The real estate agent doesn’t get paid on time, or perhaps not at all if the deal is lost.
Who then could blame a Realtor for recommending a lender he or she knows is efficient and has a history of closing on time?
Against Using Your Realtor’s Preferred Lender
Do you care if you pay hundreds–or perhaps a couple thousand–dollars more for your loan? Do you care if you get the lowest interest rate and lowest monthly payment? Do you care if you pay a boatload of junk fees, thereby perpetuating the problem of lenders taking advantage of unsuspecting and uneducated borrowers?
Just because the subprime era is over, it doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of rip-offs and over-charges going on, because there are!
Yesterday, I heard from a homebuyer who said he got his mortgage broker to delete $1,558 in stupid junk fees, because he was aware and knew better, thanks to reading Mortgage Rip-Offs and Money Savers. Now he has that much more cash in his wallet he can spend on something new for his house.
Ultimately, It Is On YOU
No one cares about your loan more than YOU. It is your right and your responsibility to know what is fair, what is an over-charge, and what is easily negotiated. It is up to you who you choose to give your business to, so you need to make an informed and responsible decision.
Maybe your real estate agent’s preferred lender is a great choice. On the other hand, maybe it is an expensive choice. Get a load of this…
In a large training session for multiple lenders, the so-called mortgage guru told the packed-out audience: “Try to get referrals, because you can charge them more. When a friend or agent refers a borrower to you, they don’t shop and they don’t look at price.”
Having worked in both retail and wholesale lending, having been behind closed doors in sales, underwriting, doc draw, rate lock, and all the rest, I can tell you there are both Mortgage Stars and Loan Sharks out there. It’s a situation of Homebuyers Beware. Choose with your eyes wide open.
As always, I welcome your opinion–whether or not you agree with me. And thank you for stopping by.
* Source: Housing Wire
FHA (Federal Housing Administration) is a government sponsored enterprise that provides money to banks and mortgage lenders. This price increase comes from FHA; therefore, it doesn’t matter which lender you choose, the price increase is now set by federal banking law.
Change #1: Begins April 1, 2013
For all FHA loans with a down payment less than 5% down, the monthly mortgage insurance fee (MI) has increased. Fortunately, it is a small increase of 0.1%. Previously, the monthly MI was calculated at 1.25% of your principal and interest payment. Now it is 1.35%.
This small increase to all home buyers will add up to a lot more profit for FHA, who has been struggling since the mortgage meltdown to be profitable.
Most home buyers taking an FHA loan are putting down 3.5%. That is the #1 attraction to the FHA loan. If you have 5% to put down, you’re going to want to take the conventional loan instead. The only reason a person with 5% to put down would take the FHA loan rather than the conventional loan is if their credit could not qualify for conventional. FHA is more generous with credit requirements.
If your FHA loan hasn’t closed yet, but your loan officer got the FHA case number prior to today, April 1st, then your MI will be at the lower rate of 1.25%.
Change #2: Begins June 3, 2013
This is the biggest and worst change. For a 30-year fixed rate with less than 10% down, FHA will collect the monthly MI payment for the life of the loan.
This means you do not get to cancel the MI fee when you have 22% equity. You could have 90% equity and you will still be paying that pesky MI fee that protects the lender in case you default on the loan.
Setting You Up to Refinance
If you take an FHA loan, it’s like you’re being set up to refinance when you have sufficient equity (and credit) to get into a conventional loan. The problem with refinancing is that there is a cost to getting a new loan and you have to start all over again at the 30-year mark (unless you take a shorter term loan).
If the FHA loan is the only one you can qualify for, then it’s better than missing out on becoming a home owner and acquiring more personal wealth through real estate ownership. However, since you will probably want to refinance or sell in the not-so-distant future, your focus needs to be on paying the lowest lender fees possible.
There are still a lot of needless junk fees being charged today. This is one reason I offer my Cost Estimate/Good Faith Estimate review and consultation service. Just last week, I saved a home buyer $751 in lender fees through this service. So please, do your proper shop-and-compare before committing to any certain lender. And then, if you are buying with the FHA loan, you can be confident you know the rules and are getting the best deal you possibly can.
FHA loans have been popular with first-time home buyers who need a low down payment. FHA requires only 3.5 percent down rather than 5 percent down for a conventional loan.
FHA loans are also popular for folks who don’t have a 740+ credit score preferred for a conventional loan, but who still want the same low interest rate.
But beware, the FHA guidelines are slated to tighten up.
New, Stricter Requirements for an FHA Loan
Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn, has asked the commissioner to impose stricter rules for FHA, as follows:
1) Higher credit score requirement.
Minimum middle credit score of 620. Currently, some lenders will go down to 580 or even lower, but charge a higher interest rate for the additional risk.
2) Longer wait for people who had a foreclosure in the past.
A down payment requirement of 20 percent for those who had a foreclosure within the past seven years. Currently, many lenders allow 3.5 percent down with a wait period of four years after a foreclosure, if there were extenuating circumstances.
3) Lower loan limit.
Drop to $625,500 maximum loan. Currently, the limit is $729,259 in areas of the U.S. where the median value of homes is higher.
What Will Happen
We don’t know what changes the Senate will pass, but we can count on negotiations over these issues; and most likely, a tightening of requirements for the FHA loan. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson prefers to pass a bill by unanimous consent. So if you have an opinion about these issues, it would be wise to contact your state Senate representative now. And if you know someone who is a candidate for an FHA loan this year, you might want to pass this information on to them, as well.