Tag Archives: loan qualifying

I Can Afford That, Right?

When looking at buying a house, there are a lot of things to consider. Do you NEED a two-car garage or do you just WANT a two-car garage?  Do you have a school district preference or prefer a certain city so you can be closer to work?  Do you want a rambler or a two-story and do you need a fenced-in yard for your furry family member?  Do you prefer to avoid outside maintenance, making a townhome a better option?  Is it important the house is updated or are you pretty handy at DIY?

Some of these decisions are a basic “wants” vs. “needs” analysis. Obviously, if you had a household of four people, a one-bedroom home won’t cut it – that would be a “need,” whereas having a pool in the back is more of a “want.”  Lot’s of things to take into account.  The most important though, should be what price home, or payment, that you can really afford.  Buying a house isn’t just a house payment for the next 30 years – it’s a commitment along with other financial responsibilities.

Many of you may be renting right now and, quite possibly, could be paying more in rent than what you can afford for a house payment. One of the mortgage lender’s goal is to help you get financing, but the main goal should be to make sure that whatever financing you obtain, you are comfortable with the payment.  Let’s face it, you’ll have this payment for the next 30 years and eating ramen noodles every night doesn’t sound like fun.

So how do we determine what payment/price you can afford? Lenders use something called ratios to determine your qualifications.  Ratios take a certain percentage of your GROSS monthly income, taking into account other monthly debts you have, to come up with a maximum house payment.  Sometimes, that top-end payment is NOT what you want to pay because it puts you out of your comfort-zone.  And if that’s the case, please let your lender know that!  There is no reason you should ever pay more per month than what you financially can afford.  You know your spending habits much better than your lender.  That said, if you think you can spend more than what the lender determines you can afford, we can’t increase it just to make you happy.  To make that work, your income has to be higher, debts lower or you may need a co-signor or co-borrower to bring that payment to what you feel you can afford.

Different loan programs have different guidelines for ratios. One constant is that your monthly income is looked at in gross terms versus net (after taxes/deductions).  The exception to this is if you’re self-employed.  In this situation, we look at the NET profit or loss on your federal taxes (assuming a schedule C filing) since this is what you got taxed on.  Also, different types of income might be looked at as an average over two years.  You’d want to check with your lender about how they will look at your specific situation.  For now, let’s keep this simple and use an FHA example assuming the person is salaried at $5000/month and has $650/month in debts.

In the example below, notice that there are TWO percentages being used. The first, we call the housing ratio.  This determines the maximum house payment you can make based on your monthly income.  The second is called the debt ratio.  This is based off your monthly income too, but now factors in any monthly debts you have (credit cards payments, car loans, other house payments, installment loans, lines of credit, ongoing payments to the government for taxes, alimony, child support, overdraft protection balances, etc.)  We will take the lesser of the two calculations to determine the maximum payment you can afford.  FHA guidelines allow 31% for the housing ratio and 43% for the debt ratio.  Some lenders may be willing to exceed these ratios, please check with your lender.

 

 

In this example, the buyer can afford a $1500/month house payment. The payment includes principal and interest on the loan, a monthly amount for property taxes and monthly amount for hazard/homeowner’s insurance and monthly mortgage insurance, if applicable.  If you were looking at a townhome, or something with monthly association dues, the lender would also factor this into the maximum payment you can afford.

Let’s say $1500/month puts you at a purchase price on a single family home (no association dues) at $220,000. You’ve gotten yourself pre-approved and are out looking at homes.  Did you know that you could look at multiple homes, ALL listed at $220,000, and possibly not qualify for ANY of them?  I know, I know … but your lender said you could look homes at that price.  So what gives?  Ultimately, you are getting pre-approved for a house payment, NOT a price.  The price of the property is a guide, so to speak.  In this example, if the lender used $229/month for the property taxes and ALL the homes you looked at had taxes higher than $229, then your payment would end up being higher than $1500, hence you wouldn’t qualify.  Not only will taxes affect the price you can afford, but so can the interest rates, association dues and hazard/homeowner’s insurance.  These are all moving parts to the home purchase puzzle!

As lenders, we do our best to give you an approximate price point, but knowing the above will hopefully help you understand that some houses you look at, though you were told the price would work, just won’t. Alternately, the house you look at could be $190,000 and the taxes could be crazy high,  making the payment higher than $1500, meaning you can’t afford even THAT lesser priced home.  It’s nuts, I know.

Remember I mentioned this was a single family home? Pretend you change your mind and start down the townhome or condo path.  If that should happen, then your $1500/month payment MUST also take into account association dues, which can vary dramatically.  This will lower your purchase price power approximately $20,000, maybe more depending on the dues.  Best advice here – talk to your loan officer if you decide to change property types so you can get a more accurate price range to be looking in.

So the question – “I can afford that, right?” has the wishy-washy answer of “maybe.” First, remember your income and your monthly debts will determine WHAT payment you can afford monthly.  And second, the payment you can afford will get varying results on whether you can afford a specific house depending on interest rate, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance amounts.  Your lender will get you pretty close to the price range you can look in so you have a starting point, but at least now you have a better understanding as to why you might not be able to buy the house you thought you could afford.

My goal is to provide education and a clear understanding of the process and your goals. It would be my pleasure to help you with your homeownership journey.

You Through the Underwriter’s Eyes — Cash

This is the third blog in a series of four covering the criteria the underwriter looks at when they make a loan decision. The four C’s, as mortgage lenders call them, are capacity, credit, cash and collateral.  Today I want to address cash and I know everyone wants to have lots of that!

Cash is a literal word, meaning notes, currency or coins. Cash, in our lending world, is verifiable assets that you have available to use for the purchase of your home, whether that’s to cover down payment or closing costs, and in some instances, reserves.  Reserves would be assets you have left over after the purchase.  Some programs require reserves, and if your loan program does, your lender will advise how much you need post-closing.

Most commonly, cash is the money you have saved in a checking or savings account.   Cash can also be accounts that aren’t completely or immediately liquid like stocks, mutual funds or retirement.  Guidelines for the loan program you do will determine acceptability of these funds.

Interestingly, cash – actual currency or coins – is typically not acceptable in a purchase or refinance transaction. Seems contradictory to what we are trying to verify, doesn’t it?  What I mean is two-fold.  First, you cannot go to your closing day with a suitcase full of $100’s to pay for your down payment and costs.  The funds must be from an account, such as a checking or savings account, something liquid.  More than likely, you will either wire the funds or bring a cashier’s check to closing.  You won’t physically bring in the green!

The second part is that cash deposits into your bank accounts typically won’t be counted as your available liquid assets. Again, seems odd, especially if you commonly save money at home or in a safe deposit box and then deposit it into your account.  It’s your money, so why isn’t this allowed?  Such a good question and it comes back to verifiability.  There is no way for the lender to prove that the funds are yours to begin with or prove they are not.  Also, that money could be a gift or from a loan, both options requiring further explanation and documentation.

Now, I did say that cash is typically not acceptable.  There are some instances where cash deposits may be okay.  Let’s say your position has regular pay but also has tip income.  It is probably a normal part of your deposits to put cash into your account due to the nature of your job.  This, and other situations where cash deposits are common, are looked at on a case by case basis to satisfy lender or investor guidelines.

In terms of documentation, we will request the last TWO months bank statements to verify your assets or the last quarterly statement you have for investment accounts, such as mutual funds or retirement. We may ask for explanations, and possibly document, any deposits that are out of the ordinary from your regular work direct deposits.  If you hand-deposit checks each pay period, we may need copies of those checks to confirm they are work related.

Assets other than a checking or savings account (including money market), are usable for closing. We would not only document having the funds, per statements mentioned above, but we may need to verify liquidation of the funds and then prove they are indeed in a liquid account.

Did you know that retirement is acceptable for down payment and closing costs? A withdrawal is allowed and we would verify this; but in some instances, a loan against the account would be acceptable assuming your company allows for this.  And the really good news?  Any monthly payment you have from setting up a loan against your 401K is NOT considered in the ratios (discussed in the credit “C”).  Of course, we will verify this transaction going out of the 401K and going into a liquid account.

Most programs allow for gifts from family members, so this may be an option for you. This money may, or may not, already be in your account.  There are specific guidelines to follow and documentation requirements vary depending on the loan program.

What if the assets are tied up in other property? Taking a loan against a home, such as a home equity loan, may be acceptable as well.  Same would apply in that we would verify the receipt of funds.  Now that you have a loan, there will be a monthly payment that WILL have to be counted in your ratios.

Biggest thing we are looking for is to make sure you have enough for closing costs and the required down payment. We do look for a history of deposits and make sure that there aren’t any out-of-the-ordinary deposits.  If you have a history of overdrafts, this may negatively impact the loan decision, but ultimately, it’s up to the underwriter based on your history, hence the reason we get a few months of statements.

Check with your lender to determine the acceptability of assets you intend to use and the requirements. Many lenders may follow the same guidelines, but it’s still best to ask.  Best advice, save and then save some more and make sure you can verify all non-work deposits!

Last up of the four C’s of underwriting will be collateral – the house you’re buying or refinancing.

You Through the Underwriter’s Eyes — Credit

Credit is super important in financing a home, and these days, even more so.  In my previous blog,  I introduced how underwriters make a loan decision based on four criteria – capacity, credit, cash and collateral.  That blog went over capacity – otherwise known as your income and employment.  Today, we will get to know what role credit plays in your loan decision.

Credit score trumps many things in today’s lending. For instance, you could have sufficient income, plenty of assets (money in the bank), but you don’t have the necessary score set forth by the investor.  Because of this, you might not be eligible for financing until your score meets investor requirements.  These “certain” scores will vary depending on program and lender.  Your individual credit scores are generated through three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.  Not everyone has scores and some people may have less than three scores due to a lack of or length of credit history.

As a consumer, you have the right to look at your credit report annually for free. You can visit www.annualcreditreport.com.   Getting your scores will cost you though, so be prepared to pay something to see your scores (costs vary).  A best first step is to visit www.myfico.com to learn from the best!  Your score may be available via other methods, such as your credit card company or outside companies you may pay to monitor your score.

The important thing to know here is that most mortgage lenders use the FICO scoring system, created by Fair Isaac Corporation in the 1950’s (source).  There is another major scoring system called Vantage, established by the three credit bureaus (source).  While Vantage scores are accurate under Vantage, they are not what the majority of lenders use for your score, so they may not be an accurate indicator when it comes to mortgage financing.

To unintentionally confuse matters, BOTH scoring systems pull from the three bureaus, one of which is Experian and their score is actually called a FICO score. Under the Vantage system, your Experian FICO score may be different than the FICO score under the FICO scoring system. Always best to know what system is being used to generate your score, especially since your lender is probably using the FICO system.

We now know score is the starting point, but it’s not the only point. In a previous blog, “No Credit = No Loan” alludes to, you don’t necessarily need a score.  But, we still need to look at your history.  Your score is an indication of how well you pay your bills, how much you use your credit (allowable limits in relation to actual balances), types of credit you have (revolving vs. installment), length of time credit has been established and recent inquiries (credit checks) into your credit.  And by the way, your score is literally a snapshot on the day it was pulled so it could vary daily.

Lenders are trying to determine your willingness and ability to repay the loan. Sometimes the score doesn’t tell the whole story, so they do look at other things.  Have you had any late payments in the last 12 months (may go back 24 months depending on program)?  Are there any outstanding collections or any other major derogatory things like judgments, bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale?  If you have had one or more of the major derogatory items, the waiting period for new loan will differ depending on the loan program you use.  And guidelines for collection accounts will vary by program too – whether they must be paid or not.

Your monthly debts, items on the report and items not on the report, such as child support, alimony or tax payments, all need to be factored into that you can qualify for. The lender will run ratios, or percentages, to determine your qualifications using your usable/verifiable monthly income in relation to your monthly debts.

As an example, using monthly qualifying income at $5000/month and monthly debts at $650/month, below is how the figures shake out. These ratios are standard guidelines for FHA financing and will differ with other loan types.  The debt piece under credit goes hand in hand with the capacity part – income.

Sometimes, the underwriter also wants to know the “why” behind any derogatory items. What was the reason you had a bankruptcy or late payments on the credit card.  Again, they look at the whole file, as well as guidelines of your loan program, to determine the necessity of explanations.

To sound like a broken record, credit is the utmost importance when it comes to your loan. The advice here is simple: pay your bills on time; keep your balances status quo while in the process and do not close any accounts or open any new accounts.  If you have had derogatory items in your past, a lower score or no credit, start early and get in touch with a lender to discuss what you need to do to be ready for your exciting home-buying journey!   Next up of the 4 C’s – Cash.

You Through the Underwriter’s Eyes — Capacity

What is an underwriter? This is the person who will review your file to make sure you meet the guidelines set forth by the program you’re doing.  Underwriters determine if you are a good credit risk for the bank or lender, so they look at four different aspects of your situation.  We call these the four C’s to underwriting – capacity, credit, cash and collateral.  This blog focuses on your income and employment, which fall under capacity.

Employment is NOT necessary to get financing, but what is necessary is income to determine you have the ability to repay your new loan plus any other debts you have. Non-employment income can come from social security, disability, pension, alimony, child support or even interest you’ve earned via investments.  Depending on the loan program you’re doing, we need to verify a history of receipt and determine that it will continue for at least three years.  Depending on the income type, the methods we use to verify the income will vary.

With employment, the underwriter is looking at past history and the likelihood of job continuation. We realize that no one knows when a job may end, but past history and a current verification from your employer will help us answer that question.  Sometimes an employer will write “no” in the box labeled “probability of continued employment.”  If that happens, we may have a difficult time justifying the employment, thus income, we are using for your qualifications.

The underwriter is also looking for a two-year work history if we are using employment income for qualifying. You don’t need the same job for the last two years, though that’s certainly preferable.  If you had been out of work for an extended period of time, say three – six months, you may have to be on your new job for a certain timeframe to use the income for qualifying.  That timeframe will vary on programs.  We still would need to verify a two-year work history prior to the time off.  If you were a student in the last two years, for instance, we can use this as part of your “job” history and would obtain unofficial transcripts from you to prove this.

If you have a history, especially in the last 12 months, of changing jobs frequently (more than two – three times), this may make it tougher to use the income as well since it’s hard to predict, based on history, that the current job we’re using for income will be stable. Certainly, people change jobs to get better pay, hours or even benefits.  We aren’t faulting you for bettering your situation and applaud that, but frequency of those changes could be harmful.

What about changing jobs in the process? It is certainly acceptable to do so, but you should always check with your loan officer first.  Remember, underwriters are using your current income pay structure to determine your qualifications.  Let’s say you are a salaried employee now and have the option to go to a base (less per year) plus commission.  My guess is you may take this option since you may have a higher earning potential.  The problem is that lenders can only use the commission income for qualifying if you have a two-year history of receiving this type of income.  If you don’t, then the numbers the lender has given you would be inaccurate since they were based on the higher salary, not the lower new base pay.

And yes, we really like things in two’s! For instance, when it comes to income, or your capacity, we look at types of income differently.  If you are salaried, we can use that as your income and like any proof, we will confirm this with recent paystubs, W2s and possibly tax returns.  If you are hourly, and you work the same hours per week, we can use that easily enough.

If you work variable hours, then we may need to average your income over the last two years and current year to determine what your monthly income works out to be. Commission, overtime, bonus, tips and self-employment all need to have a two-year history to use it for qualifying.  Sometimes, a lesser time frame is allowed, but that is dependent on the type of income and loan program you’re doing, as well as your specific situation.  This income, since variable, will be averaged over 24 months and if it’s declining, we may have to use the lower income or could not use it.

Interestingly, lenders will use your GROSS income to determine qualifications (unless you’re self-employed, then net is used). Seems a little odd to do this since you don’t get that much in your paycheck, do you?  But, we have to put all people on the same playing field.  If two people had the same salary, but one opted to put max into their 401K and the other had health insurance costs, their net income would be vastly different, possibly giving one person more qualifying ability over the other.  So, we use gross income and we use something called ratios to determine your qualifications.  This just means, based on the program you’re doing, we take a percentage of your gross income and subtract your monthly obligations to determine a maximum payment you can afford – but that’s another blog!

In the lending puzzle, capacity – income and employment, is just one piece of how you are looked at from the underwriter.  Next up will be credit and really, for some, that is the cornerstone of starting your financing process.

No Loan = No Credit … Or Not?

You hear it all over the news and on advertisements how important your credit score is. I agree … your score is absolutely important and has become the first go-to thing lenders look for.  Lenders want to know what your score is, how long you’ve had credit and how well you pay your bills on time.

But what if you’re one of those people who doesn’t have a credit score? It happens, even to some people who have some credit established.  Maybe the history isn’t enough for a FICO (Fair Isaac) score to be generated or there are just too few items on the report.

As an experienced loan originator, I’m here to give you some hope. Not all loan programs require a credit score.  The main criteria – you must meet the eligibility requirements of a MN first time homebuyer program.  In conjunction with this, we will use FHA financing which allows us to create credit.

Really, what it all comes down to is WHAT you have for debt obligations outside of a traditional credit report. It’s imperative that we create credit for the lending process.  This means we’re looking for accounts that you pay on a monthly basis, ON TIME and over the last 12 months.  Our goal is to verify three established accounts.  You need at least one account from either rent, telephone service, internet, TV service or utility company (a utility not included in your rent).

So, what do we look at? Are you renting?  Are you on time?  If it’s a management company or apartment complex you pay, we can verify directly with them your timeliness.  If you pay a private party, we want to see the last 12 months cleared checks from you to demonstrate you’ve paid on time.  As a tip, if you’re living at home, it makes sense to pay something to your parents, same amount EVERY month, for 12 months, always due the same time (say the 1st of the month) and via a check or direct transfer to their account.  This way, regardless of the amount, we can look at your history as a source of good credit.

What about other sources? Here are some quick reference items that you may pay monthly that can be used to create your credit history.  These items must be in your name.  This list isn’t inclusive, but a way to get you thinking about what you have out there and how it can help you get your first home!

Utilities, cell phone, car insurance, weight loss plans, lot rent on a mobile home, renters insurance, health club payments, child support/alimony you pay outside of your work paycheck, Netflix, gaming sites, internet or iPad-type services, lay-away, outside health insurance or monthly payments to a doctor.

It’s important to note that not only are we looking at your off-report debts, but we also look at any debts you have on the report. There are certain guidelines we follow to determine credit worthiness, such as seeing no more than TWO 30-day lates on any installment payments in the last 24 months and there is no major derogatory credit on credit cards in the last 12 months – that means, no more than 90 days late.  Truthfully, having NO lates on anything is the best way to work toward a loan approval.

There are certainly other guidelines that your situation must meet in order to get an approval on a loan. These are things above and beyond credit.  Your lender will go through these items with you and hopefully prepare you for what you need in order to be ready to buy.

Not all lenders allow the creation of credit, so you’ll want to check. The main idea I want to get across is that having no credit doesn’t necessarily mean no loan.  It’s best to find a lender you’re comfortable with, and one that has the ability to walk alongside you to make your dreams become reality!  I am here to help if you so desire!

You ARE Worthy!

Life is hard, and at times, just not fair!  Things happen – whether it’s a job loss, divorce, decline in home values, medical emergency or death in the family.  These things wreak havoc with our financial well-being.

The above reasons, and I am sure many more, played a large role in people filing bankruptcy, losing their home to foreclosure, or for some, having to sell their homes as a short sale just to get out from under.  It’s tough, and for those of you who experienced these major set-backs, I am truly sorry you had to deal with such devastation!

ID-100142021You might be thinking your chances of owning a home for the first time, or ever again, will never happen after these experiences.  I am here to tell you that we all have second chances and you are worthy of being a homeowner!  But how?

First, it helps to know the general guidelines for loan qualification after a short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy.  The guidelines vary by the type of loan you take out.  FHA, the Federal Housing Administration, will be more lenient than Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, which offer conventional loans.  Sometimes, there are extenuating circumstances that could lessen the wait period, but those are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Bankruptcy – home financing eligibility date is taken from the date the bankruptcy was discharged from the courts.  It is also dependent on the type of bankruptcy – Chapter 7 or 13.  I will advise for Chapter 7 bankruptcies, but the wait period may be less with a Chapter 13 if certain requirements are met.

  • FHA & VA:              2 years
  • Conventional:   4 years

Foreclosure – eligibility date is taken from the latter of the sheriff’s sale date or the date the claim was paid to FHA.  The claim date is only applicable if the loan foreclosed upon was FHA financing.  This date is usually 3-6 months after the sheriff’s sale.  Conventional financing could have a shorter waiting period depending on circumstances and other criteria.

  • FHA:                          3 years
  • VA:                             2 years
  • Conventional:    7 years

Short Sale – eligibility date is the date the sale of the home took place.  The waiting periods are the same as a foreclosure, except with conventional, where the waiting period can vary depending on the circumstances, as well as the amount of money you have down.

Once you’re over that waiting period, then what?  As lenders, we certainly want to see that you’ve re-established credit.  We understand that your credit and finances took a beating during that time – it happens!  But, we want to see that you came out in a better place.  We’re looking for on-time payments and a lack of derogatory credit, such as collections or charge offs.

Long and short of it – you ARE worthy, and after having a bankruptcy, short sale or foreclosure in your past, there is hope of becoming a homeowner!  We’d love to help!

*Image compliments of Stuart Miles — freedigitalphotos.net

 

Out with the Old, In with the New

In August, MN Housing retired one of their popular MN first time homebuyer programs – Home Help. This program was very beneficial for borrowers with lower incomes and allowed a borrower to get a larger amount of down payment assistance – up to $10,000, as a deferred loan. Home Help had some obstacles making it a little more difficult to obtain, such as a special home quality housing inspection. Though the borrower qualified for the program, the home may not have.

Fortunately, MN Housing didn’t leave us hanging without a replacement – one that’s similar in terms of assistance, but different in that the previous obstacles are now gone!  As of October 1, 2014, MN Housing is now offering the Deferred Payment Plus program (DPP for short). This is a secondary alternative to the current Deferred Payment Loan program.

For some clarification, a deferred payment loan is just that – deferred. There is no interestID-100246872 rate tied to it and no monthly payments are required. Full repayment of the loan is due upon sale of the property, or when it’s no longer your primary residence, or if you were to refinance the home without using a new MN Housing loan.

The current Deferred Payment loan allows a borrower to get up to 5% of the sale price with a maximum assistance amount of $7,500. For a household of 1-3 people, the maximum household income is $60,000. Larger households have higher income limits depending on the number of members. Household income is defined as ANY income derived from any of the borrowers on the loan, whether consistent or not, as well as any spousal income from a spouse NOT on the loan.

You could qualify for more than the $7500, depending on your need, with the Down Payment Plus program. To qualify for more funds, which go up to $10,000, there are some additional parameters that must be met. At least TWO of the following items must apply to your situation in order to be eligible for the higher assistance.

  • You’re a single head of household with dependents
  • You have a household of four or more people
  • One of your household members is disabled
  • Your front end ratio is over 28%

The first three are pretty simple to understand. The fourth parameter, the “front end ratio,” may need some explanation. As lenders, we look at how much of your GROSS monthly income is used toward your house payment, which we call the front end or “housing” ratio. We also look at how much you spend toward your housing AND other monthly obligations, this we call the “debt” ratio. For the “front end ratio” to be one of the two items for you, the proposed housing payment must be higher than 28% of your gross monthly income. Your approved MN Housing lender will help you determine this.

The DPP loan with MN Housing is a wonderful opportunity to help you and your family make homeownership attainable. With all the MN Housing programs, there are other qualifying parameters. You can find further information about these requirements on their site or allow us to go over those guidelines with you. We’d love to help determine your eligibility to make your home buying dreams a reality!

Image compliments of Stuart Mills – freedigitalphotos.net

No Credit = No Loan … or Not?

You hear all over the news and in advertisements how important your credit score is. I agree … your score is absolutely important and has become the first go-to thing lenders look at. We want to know what the score is, how long you’ve had credit and how well you pay your bills on time.

But what if you’re one of those people who don’t have a credit score? It happens, even to some people who have some credit established. Maybe the history isn’t enough for a FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score to be generated or there are just too few items on the report.

credit  cardI’m here to give you some hope. Not all loan programs require a credit score. The main criteria – you must meet the eligibility requirements of a Minnesota first time homebuyer program. In conjunction with this, we will use FHA financing which allows us to evaluate credit not necessarily reported to the credit agencies.

Really, what it all comes down to is what you have for debt obligations outside of a traditional credit report. It’s imperative that we review credit for the lending process. This means we’re looking for accounts that you pay on a monthly basis, ON TIME and over the last 12 months. Our goal is to analyze three accounts, but that’s not set in stone.

So, what do we look at? Are you renting? Are your payments on time? If it’s a management company or apartment complex you pay, we can verify directly with them your timeliness. If you pay a private party, such as a private landlord, or your parents, we want to see the last 12 months cleared checks, or auto withdrawal, from you to demonstrate you’ve paid on time. As a tip, if you’re living at home, it makes sense to pay something to your parents, EVERY month, for 12 months, always due the same time (say, the 1st of the month) and by check. This way, regardless of the amount, we can look at your history as a source of credit.

What about other sources? Here is a quick reference list of items that you may pay monthly that can be used to develope your credit history. This list isn’t all-inclusive, but a way to get you thinking about what you have out there and how it can help you get your first home! Remember, these items must be in your name.

Utilities, cell phone, car insurance, weight loss plans, lot rent for a mobile home, renters insurance, health club payments, child support/alimony paid separately from your work paycheck, Netflix, gaming sites, internet services, lay-away or monthly payments to a doctor

Not all lenders allow the evaluation of credit from these sources, so you’ll want to ask ahead of time. The main idea I want to get across is that having no credit doesn’t necessarily mean no loan. It’s best to find a lender you’re comfortable with and one that has the ability to walk alongside with you to make your dreams become reality! I am here to help if you so desire!

 

Dakota County + Conventional Financing = Happy Homebuyers

Shout out to our partners at the Dakota County CDA!  For as long as I can remember, they have only allowed FHA or VA loans to be used in conjunction with their MN first time home buyer program.  They now allow a 30-Year fixed conventional financing option via the HFA Preferred conventional program and this is great news.

As a refresher, all MN first time home buyers must qualify for a basic loan program — FHA, VA or conventional financing.  I look at this as the cake.  As long as you meet the parameters for credit, income and assets for the specific program, you can qualify for your loan — the cake.

One step further, if you meet the parameters of the first time home buyer program, such as the one in Dakota County, you could then get down payment and closing cost assistance — which is the frosting on your delicious cake!  Now wouldn’t that be sweet?

There are guidelines for the conventional loan that must be met in order to qualify.  First, ID-10039817there is a minimum credit score of 640  to even be eligible for the Dakota County  program.  The required down payment is at least 3% and you must contribute $1000 of your own money (no gift) to the transaction.

Since you have less than 20% down, you will be required to have private mortgage insurance, also known as PMI.  The good news is that the PMI for this first time buyer program has reduced coverage requirements which may result in lower monthly PMI payments.

You can learn more about the Dakota County program here, but as a quick recap, they offer three different down payment options.  These are dependent on your household income, but range from 3.5% of the purchase price (max of $7500)  up to 10% of the purchase price (max of $10,000).  As with all MN first time home buyer programs, the assistance is a second loan against your property.  If you sell or refinance your home, the second loan becomes due and payable.

Another requirement for this program, as with other MN first time buyer programs, is to attend the Homestretch class.  This is a worthwhile, 8-hour class that will teach you everything you need to know about buying a home, the process, as well as keeping your home.  You can find classes at the Homeownership Center. Costs for these classes will vary on the location you choose, such as directly from Dakota County or another provider.

I am an advocate of the in-person class because you can learn so much from other attendees.  If it doesn’t work in your schedule, you can “attend” the class online via their Framework class.  If you go this route, you will also need to set up a one-on-one meeting with a first time buyer specialist at the Dakota County CDA.

I am excited we can now offer conventional financing with Dakota County.  They have a wonderful program and for those of you with higher credit scores, it may be a much better financial option to FHA financing in terms of your monthly payment.

As always, it would be a pleasure to discuss your situation to see which cake you qualify for and what type of frosting we can layer on top!

*photo courtesy of  Salvatore Vuono, freedigitalphotos.net

 

Inspection and Appraisal – Two Peas in a Pod, Right?

The quick answer to this is no, but it helps to understand why they aren’t the same and what purpose they play in your home purchase process.

The inspection is for YOU.  This is the time you can decide to move forward with your purchase, or opt to cancel due to new information, or maybe, you just get cold feet.  The inspection period is the time to reflect on your purchase.

The inspection is NOT a requirement of financing for a home.  It’s optional, but highly recommended.  The cost of the inspection is not part of your loan closing costs.  It is a separate payment made directly to the inspector and can range from $250 – $400.  You choose the inspector, usually with guidance from your realtor.

Most people will make their offer “contingent” on an inspection.  That ID-100270859means, you’re telling the seller you want to move forward, BUT, you first want the home inspected.  Typically, you have a window of time to get the inspection done and that window is defined in the purchase agreement.

The inspector will look for hazards and any immediate concerns, as well as urgent repairs needed after you purchase.    For instance, if the basement shows major water damage or settling of the foundation, this may raise concerns about the soundness of the home.  You may opt to not buy the home knowing that you may be getting into something that you can’t afford in terms of repairs.

The inspector will also look at the positives – let you know what’s good about the house, such as new mechanical equipment or a new roof.  They will also walk you through basic information – how do you shut off the gas or the water in case of an emergency?  How often should you change the filter on the furnace?  They will provide you with great maintenance tips for homeownership.

The appraisal, on the other hand, is for the LENDER.  Of course, you will get a copy of it for your records, but the appraisal is required for you to obtain financing.  The lender wants to make sure that the home used for collateral is not only worth what you paid for it, but also has good future marketability.

As long as you’ve decided to proceed after the inspection, the lender will order the appraisal.  It’s done randomly, meaning the appraiser is not a choice.  This is to protect both the lender and buyer from steering or having influence on the appraiser’s decision.

The appraiser will also look for safety and hazards, but they will also dig a little deeper.  They will compare similar homes – if you’re buying a rambler, they will compare ramblers.  If you are buying a townhome, they will compare similar style townhomes, preferably in the same complex.  They must consider sold and closed properties within a certain radius of the home (typically within a mile) and within a certain time period (typically within 6 months).

There is so much more involved with appraisals and inspections.  Two peas, yes, but not the same pod.  The biggest thing to take from this is that one is optional and for your purposes – the inspection.  From this, you can determine if you want to move forward with the purchase.

The appraisal is for the lender in order to determine if the home is a good risk and will help determine if they can extend credit, as it’s required to secure financing.  In any instance, the hope is that both the inspection and the appraisal are in your favor!

*photo courtesy of hywards/freedigitalphotos.net