Getting a mortgage is, by general consensus, the most treacherous part of buying a home. In a recent survey, 42% of home buyers said they found the mortgage experience “stressful,” and 32% found it “complicated.” Even lenders agree that it’s often a struggle.
“A lot can go wrong,” says Staci Titsworth, regional manager at PNC Mortgage in Pittsburgh.
If you’re out to buy a home, you have to be vigilant. To clue you into the pitfalls, here are six of the most common ways people mess up getting a mortgage.
Buying a home—especially if it’s your first—can be a lot like losing weight in the sense that people end up doing, well, some pretty dumb stuff in the process. But while desperate dieters might waste money on “magical” weight-loss pills or silly exercise equipment, misguided home buyers could be doing far more serious damage—like undermining their ability to purchase a house at all. Don’t be one of them! Realtor.com asked real estate agents to shed light on some of the dumbest reasons people can’t buy a home. The good news? These flubs are easily avoidable. Read on and beware…
Government-sponsored financing giant Fannie Mae will ease its requirements this month, raising its debt-to-income ceiling from 45 percent to 50 percent on July 29. The move could pave the way for a larger number of new buyers to qualify for a mortgage, particularly millennials who may be saddled with student loan debt.
The debt-to-income ratio compares a person’s gross monthly income with his or her monthly payment on all debt accounts, including auto loans, credit cards, and student loans. It also factors in the projected payments on the new mortgage. Lenders see applicants with lower debt-to-income ratios as less at risk of defaulting.
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration have exemptions that allow them to buy or insure loans with higher ratios than the federal rules, which are set at a maximum of 43 percent. The FHA allows debt-to-income ratios of more than 50 percent in some cases.
In a recent study, Fannie Mae researchers looked at more than a decade and a half of data from borrowers with debt-to-income ratios in the 45 percent to 50 percent range. They found that a significant number of these borrowers had good credit and were not prone to default.
Lower costs are coming for homebuyers seeking a Federal Housing Administration -insured mortgage.
FHA recently announced that they are cutting annual premiums for mortgage insurance from 0.85 percent to 0.60 percent, a move the National Association of Realtors® said breathes new life into the program.
“FHA mortgage products exist to serve an important mission: providing homeownership opportunities to creditworthy borrowers who are overlooked by conventional lenders,” said NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties. “The high cost of mortgage insurance has unfortunately put those opportunities out of reach for many young, first-time- and lower-income borrowers. Now, we have a real opportunity to get back on track.”
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The seller has accepted your offer, the inspector didn’t find any underground streams or shaky foundations, and the closing date is set. You’re in the homestretch! While you can breathe a little easier, remember, the deal’s not done until everyone signs all the (zillion) documents at the closing table. And, your lender can still change their mind. Here are some things to avoid in the run-up to the big day.
- Don’t mess with your income-to-debt ratio
The ratio of your monthly income to your monthly debts is one of the main factors the lender considered when qualifying you. And your lender will probably run your financials two or three more times before closing. While it’s tempting, don’t take out a big loan for the new deck you want to install when you move into your new place. Don’t sign the lease on the new Audi that will look perfect in your new driveway. The bank looks at lease payments like any other debt payment.
- Don’t disappear
Be sure to keep in touch with your lender and be readily available to immediately address any last-minute concerns.
- Don’t change jobs
Lenders love stability. Switching jobs right before closing can make them anxious, and you want to give them every reason to feel confident. Most lenders prefer to have a two-year job history in hand, so making a big career move could slow things down, or squash the deal entirely.
- Don’t open new credit cards
Yes, you’ll be buying furniture to fill those lovely rooms. Yes, you might need a new fridge. And yes, new dishes to match the new kitchen would be splendid. But resist the lure of opening new credit cards until after closing. Doing so can affect your credit score. For now, just open catalogs.
- Don’t be late
Even though you may have been riding the real estate roller coaster and life’s been chaotic, be sure to stay current with all bill payments. Late payments, too, can affect that all-important credit score.
Wondering what else is involved in the final stretches of a home purchase? I will be happy to answer any of your questions!
Many first-time buyers shy away because they think they need a bigger down payment than they really do. Contrary to popular belief, there are alternatives to putting less than 20% down on a home. This infographic highlights a few key pieces of information to consider when considering loan options with a low down payment.
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Saving for a down payment can pose one of the biggest challenges for potential home buyers.
Indeed, “a down payment is often the largest single payment a consumer makes in their lifetime and saving for it isn’t easy,” says Corey Carlisle, executive director of the American Bankers Association Foundation. “However, with a few changes, consumers can put themselves on track to make their home ownership dream a reality.”
In honor of American Housing Month, the American Bankers Association Foundation recently featured several tips to help consumers cut their household costs and start saving for a down payment.