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Refinance with Low Closing Costs

November 25th, 2009

Some lenders have offered existing mortgage loan customers the chance to refinance with low closing costs. Does that mean you should jump at the chance to do a mortgage refinance if your bank offers such a deal?

Saving Thousands in Mortgage Closing Costs

Depending upon your mortgage loan and the interest rate being offered, there could be the potential to save a lot of money upfront when refinancing. For example, Valley National Bank, based in New Jersey, has been advertising for months a mortgage refinance for a flat fee of $499. Refinancing doesn’t require an appraisal or various other fees common to mortgage closings. The bank says you can save up to $2,000 in fees by refinancing.

Consider Other Factors Before Refinancing

If you’re thinking of refinancing through a similar mortgage program, it’s important to look beyond the closing costs, however. You should factor in how long you have to pay off your current mortgage. Most of the monthly payments go toward interest during the early years of a mortgage. If you’ve been paying on a mortgage loan for many years, it’s important to look at how much money gets put toward interest on a refinanced loan.

Are You Planning to Move?

It may not make sense to refinance if you plan to move soon. Sure the housing market isn’t doing so hot right now, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to sell your property in a couple years. It won’t take as long to break even on lower closing costs for a refinance, but getting a new mortgage loan seem like a wise move at this point?

Lower Your Mortgage Payments

Talk to several mortgage lenders to compare deals, even if they involve higher closing costs. Begin searching for mortgage refinance quotes here.

In some cases, refinancings that involve low closing costs may have higher mortgage rates than loans that involve more fees. But if you can significantly lower your monthly payments and are happy with other terms of a mortgage refinance deal, why not go for it? Refinancing into a fixed-rate loan also can give you more financial stability.

Low Mortgage Rates 

Current mortgage rates are very competitive overall. Refinancing could be one way to cut your monthly expenses and save more money in this tough economy. Just make sure you consider a mortgage refinance from all possible angles to avoid any problems later.

Getting Help with Mortgage Loans

November 20th, 2009

Many homeowners who have trouble making mortgage payments turn to savings and investment accounts for funds. But some financial experts recommend that homeowners seek help from mortgage loan modification or refinance programs before depleting their savings or ending up in foreclosure, according to a Consumer Reports article. 

Keeping money in a savings account can allow you to have access to cash in the event of an emergency. Here are some things to remember about getting help with your home loan.

Mortgage Loan Modifications

The government’s Making Home Affordable program has helped about 650,000 homeowners modify mortgages since February. That’s about 20% of the people who are eligible for help through the program.

If you are struggling to stay current with mortgage payments or are already behind on payments, you could qualify for a home loan modification. You also must:

  • Have a first lien that originated on or before Jan. 1, 2009
  • Have monthly mortgage payments (including taxes and insurance) greater than 31% of of your monthly gross income
  • Be able to document that you are having trouble making mortgage payments because of a financial hardship

Even if you don’t have a mortgage loan guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you could qualify for assistance. Contact your mortgage loan service to find out if you qualify for help. Mortgage modifications last for a three-month trial period, but are supposed to be extended for five years if you make the payments on time.

Refinance to Lower Mortgage Rate

Mortgage rates are very competitive right now if you want to refinance. Even if you’re home has lost some value during the housing crunch, a mortgage refinance isn’t impossible.  You may qualify for a refinance if:

  • Your home loan is owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
  • You are current on your mortgage payments
  • The amount you owe on your first lien doesn’t exceed 125% of the current market value of your property
  • You have income to make payments after mortgage refinancing

Lowering Monthly Payments

Even if there is a second lien on your home, you could qualify for a refinance. If you currently have a high mortgage rate, refinancing should lower your monthly payments. However, if you currently have an interest-only loan and refinance into a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly payments may not decrease. But refinancing should result in an overall savings over the life of the mortgage loan.

When seeking help with a mortgage loan it’s always best to contact your loan servicer directly. Avoid using companies that offer to modify your mortgage for a fee that is paid upfront.

Fannie Mae Program Turns Homeowners into Renters

November 14th, 2009

If you’ve gotten behind on mortgage loan payments and are facing foreclosure, there may be help from a Fannie Mae program. The housing agency is allowing some homeowners to voluntarily transfer their properties back to their mortgage lenders and stay in the homes as a renters. Here are some details of the Deed-for-Lease Program.

Mortgage Refinance or Modification

You may have tried unsuccessfully to do a mortgage refinance or loan modification. Fannie Mae’s program allows you to complete a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure and lease back your house at the current market rate for up to 12 months. Your mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae. The idea is that even though you are struggling to keep up with mortgage payments, you might be able afford a lower rent.

“This new program helps eliminate some of the uncertainty of foreclosure, keeps families and tenants in their homes during a transitional period, and helps to stabilize neighborhoods and communities,” said Jay Ryan, vice president of Fannie Mae, in a statement.

Who Can Qualify?

 To participate in the Deed for Lease program you must:

  • Live in the home as your primary residence
  • Be released from subordinate liens on the property, such as a second mortgage
  • Be able to document that the market rental rate is less than 31% of your gross income
  • Submit to a credit check
  • If the property you live in has tenants, they also may be eligible to rent through the program
  • Get renters insurance if you have a pet
  • Pass a property inspection
  • Not have an illegal activity on the premises

Advantages to Rental Program

So why is Fannie Mae letting people rent back their properties instead of foreclosing? One reason is that it is better to keep people in a property rather than let it sit abandoned. Foreclosed homes that sit abandoned often fall into disrepair or attract vandals and and other criminal activity.

Mortage Lenders as Landlords

Some lenders, however, are reluctant to get into the landord business even if homeowners are struggling with mortgages. “We’re in the lending business. We’re not really equipped to be landlords,” Tom Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, told Time magazine.

Contact your mortgage loan servicer to discuss participating in this program if you’ve exhausted other options such as a trying to refinance, sell your house, or get a loan modification.

Obama Expected to Sign Legislation for Tax Credit Extension

November 6th, 2009

Congress voted this week to extend the tax credit for first-time home buyers, and President Barack Obama is expected to sign legislation today. Here’s what you need to know if you’re hunting for a home loan.

The original tax credit program is set to expire on Nov. 30.  But under the extended program, home buyers will have until April 30, 2010, to sign a purchase agreement. They must close on mortgage loans by June 30.

Tax Credit for More Home Buyers

The tax credit is for first-time home buyers who have not owned a home in the previous three years. The tax credit worth up to $8,000 can be deducted on federal income tax returns. New home buyers are still eligible for that amount under the program.

However, the expanded program is supposed to allow people who have lived in their home for at least five years to receive a tax credit of up to $6,500 when purchasing another home. So if you’ve been looking for a mortgage for a new house, this may be an incentive to get moving on selling your current home.

Higher Income Eligibility

The legislation for the extended program allows people with higher incomes to qualify for the tax credit, according to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times. The credit phases out for individuals who earn above $125,000, up from $75,000. For joint filers the credit phases out if they earn more than $225,000, up from $150,000.

Current Mortgage Rates Are Low

With mortgage rates still so low, buying a home now may be more affordable than waiting until the housing market recovers more. Still, you may experience some tradeoffs for moving now. First, you may not be able to sell your current home at the price you hope to get. It’s a buyer’s market, so you may need to make some concessions or offer some incentives to get your property sold.

Second, if you plan to get a home loan to buy another house, you only have a limited time to close on it to qualify for the credit. If you don’t close by the deadline, you lose out on the tax credit even if you had been counting on it to help with the costs of buying a new home.

Mortgage Quotes

Find mortgage quotes from several lenders to get an idea of how large of a mortgage you can get. Run the numbers carefully to decide if you really want to move at this time. Just because the government is offering a tax credit for home buyers doesn’t mean that purchasing a home is the right choice for you.