mortgages

Get Your Credit Mortgage Ready

The path to homeownership can be stressful and often difficult. If you have less than perfect credit history, the obstacles might be even greater. Even if your credit is good, there are a few red flags that might prevent you from getting a mortgage (or the mortgage rate/type) that you are hoping for. Below is a list of items that can hinder the process of obtaining a mortgage:

Don't leave your credit score up to chance.

Don’t leave your credit score up to chance.

  • Bankruptcy– Some mortgages will work with a past bankruptcy. But you usually need to be several years past the discharge date and have rebuilt your credit. A bankruptcy, even when discharged, can stay on your credit report for up to ten years.
  • Foreclosure short sale – Some mortgages will work with a past foreclosure short sale. But you usually need to be several years past the sale date and have rebuilt your credit. Even when finalized, a foreclosure short sale can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.
  • Unpaid judgments– No mortgage lender wants to take the risk that an earlier debt could take precedence over their loan. All judgments must be satisfied, removed or vacated from your credit report. And, if paid, your judgment will stay on your report for seven years. Solve open judgments. Try to vacate them first or pay them and get proof that they’re paid. Yes, I know it hurts to take money out of your hard-earned down payment savings account. But that down payment won’t do you a bit of good if you can’t get a mortgage because of an old judgment from the cable company you fought with in your first apartment.
  • Open collections– If you don’t pay a bill, the company you owe may sell your debt to a collection agency who will try to get you to pay. ONLY PAY THEM OFF IF YOU ARE TOLD TO DO SO. Keep in mind that paying a collection will not raise your credit score, but LOWER YOUR SCORE. Once a debt has gone to collections, your credit is hit and can only recover over time.
  • Too much monthly debt– A good rule of thumb is that if you’re paying more than 5 percent of your gross monthly income for debt payments (credit cards, student loans, car payments, personal loans), you’re decreasing the amount of mortgage you’ll be approved for. If your income is high and housing prices are reasonable, high debt might not hurt you much. But if you have a modest income, debt can price you right out of a mortgage.
  • Pay your current bills on time, religiously – You’ll need the boost to your credit score if you’ve had problems in the past. And you’ll want to prove to a lender you’ve gotten past old issues and made a fresh start in rebuilding your credit.
  • Make sure the problems are right – If not, you must dispute them off. Experts disagree about how many people have serious errors on their credit reports, but I have witnessed a client who discovered that someone had posed as his spouse after finding lots of strange information on his credit report. Don’t pay the price for someone else’s mistake.

This piece is guest written by our partner, Credit Law Center (CLC). CLC helps clients achieve financial success by cleaning up their credit history and putting them on track for financial freedom. Contact them today at (800) 994-3070 or by visiting creditlawcenter.com.

Tips for Buying a Foreclosed Home

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If you’re looking to find a great deal on a home (and who isn’t?), you’ve probably considered buying a foreclosure, as a primary residence or as an investment property. While you might get a good price, purchasing a foreclosure home doesn’t come without some extra work.

Here’s a few hints to get you started:

  1. Foreclosed homes are also called real estate owned (REO) property. An REO property is owned by a bank or lender as a result of the previous owner defaulting on the loan. Other names for these properties would be a foreclosure property or a bank-owned property.
  1. Finding a real estate agent who works directly with banks that own foreclosed homes will provide you the best access to area houses. A site like ForeclosuresUS.com will help home buyers narrow down their search. Simple searches for ‘REO properties’ or ‘foreclosures’ can also help refine the search.
  1. Distressed properties are for sale during many stages of the foreclosure process. You might find homes in any of these stages.
    1. Pre-foreclosure – the homeowner still has control of the property
    2. Auction sale – you may be bidding against others, including investors
    3. Real estate-owned (REO) – a lender-owned property
    4. Government-owned – potentially a slower process with more paperwork
  1. Since the bank has not maintained the home, there will not likely be any record of repairs or maintenance that would assess the true property condition. The home comes with little room for negotiations and improvements. Similar to buying something ‘as-is’ the buyer will be responsible for repairs and updates.

Ultimately, the goal of combing through foreclosure listings is not to find a house – it’s to find an agent. Banks usually have a few agents who handle their foreclosure properties and these agents will have the insight into newly available homes. The economy will determine how many bank-owned homes you’ll find in your area. During a recession, as many as one-third of homes are sold in foreclosure but in a growing economy you might not find anything worth investing in.

Need help combing through foreclosures in your area? Contact us and one of our real estate agents can help you refine your search.

Can People Still Buy a Home with No Money Down?

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Although it’s highly unlikely, yes – it is still possible to get a home without a down payment.  Prior to the mortgage crisis and recession, many lenders offered mortgages without any down payment. Some lenders even allowed consumers to borrow up to 105 percent of the home’s purchase price so they could finance their closing costs.  While we all know that mortgage requirements are much stricter, there are still loan options that can make homeownership a reality.

Today, a handful of government sponsored programs allow consumers with good credit and a steady income to buy a home. Here’s the low-down on loans with low/no down payment requirements.

VA Loans

These loans are only available to veterans, current members of the military and their spouses. While these loans don’t require a down payment or mortgage insurance, there is a funding fee that can be wrapped into the loan.

USDA Rural Development Loans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers loans to those with qualifying credit scores and income levels. Candidates for these loans must be able to afford payments but have a low or moderate income. Additionally, you must purchase a property in a designated area. These loans are primarily designed to help low-income families in rural areas purchase homes.

FHA Loans

Insured by the Federal Housing Authority, FHA loans come with a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent. FHA charges an upfront premium and additional premiums each month. The standards are usually pretty lenient but a series of guidelines are published and will give you exact eligibility requirements.

If you are interested in getting approved for a loan or learning about types of loans available,
contact our preferred mortgage partner – Supreme Lending. Their team is passionate about helping consumers make homeownership a reality.

Pre-Qualified vs. Pre-Approved: What’s Really the Difference?

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As a first time homebuyer, getting a mortgage might seem a bit daunting. As you navigate the approval process, don’t be confused, a pre-approval is much different than being pre-qualified.

Here’s the skinny:

Pre-Qualified

This term refers to a general review of your finances and a recommendation of what you can afford. In a conversation with a banker, you would review your income, debts, desires etc. and s/he would be able to identify an approximate mortgage amount. Pre-qualification can be done quickly over the phone or internet and does NOT include a review of your credit report. Just because you are pre-qualified for a mortgage does not mean you’ll actually be granted a mortgage.

Pre-Approved

Getting pre-approved is a more in-depth process, requiring a review of your credit history and a verification of your income and debts. After reviewing you finances your loan would be submitted to underwriting – and ultimately you’d be provided with a pre-approval letter that you can use when making an offer on a home. Pre-approvals are normally good for 120 days so it is important to make sure you have this documentation when presenting offers to home sellers.

Ultimately, there is no harm in getting pre-qualified but to have a good chance at getting a home and a mortgage, you need to be pre-approved.

Interested in more in-depth information about getting approved for a mortgage? Contact our lending partner, Supreme at (877) 316-0296 or visit www.UnitedHomeMortgages.com.

Boost Your Credit Score Prior to Home Buying

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Your credit score has a major impact on your ability to get a home loan with a low interest rate. That’s why it’s so crucial to make sure your score is as high as possible before applying for a mortgage.

If your credit isn’t in great shape, you can work toward improving it. Use these tips to boost yourpersonal credit score:

  • Order your credit report. Before doing anything else, request a copy of your credit report. You’re entitled to receive a free one each year. When you get it, look it over carefully for errors and have them corrected right away. You’ll also find out how much you owe and which creditors you owe.
  • Pay your bills on time. Late payments bring down your credit score, and it can take time to raise it again. Make sure you pay all of your bills on time, and don’t miss any payments.
  • Carry low balances. Keep your balances low if you can’t afford to pay them off completely. Higher balances will lower your credit score significantly. Keep balances below 50 percent of your limit.

Want more advice on mortgages? Call United Real Estate, and follow our Facebook page.

Three Common Myths About Home Buying

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During your search for a new home, you’re bound to run into a few common misconceptions about the process. Some of these involve the way credit works when you apply for a loan.

These are a few of the most common home buying myths about credit:

  • Your credit has to be in perfect shape. Lenders do use credit to make approval decisions and decisions on interest rates, but you don’t need the best score possible. You can still get a mortgage with less than stellar scores, although your interest rate will most likely be higher.
  • Lenders can share your credit information. Lenders can share this information with affiliates, but only if you’ve given them permission to do so. There are several laws that safeguard your personal credit information and prevent lenders from sharing it without your permission.
  • While there are hundreds of credit bureaus, lenders have base their decisions on the FICO scoring model. Other models such as Score X, Score + or Vantage are consumer based models that give people an idea of what their FICO score might be.

Need help shopping around for a good mortgage? Contact United Real Estate, and visit us on Facebook.

Buying as a Couple? Tips for Couples Purchasing a Home

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Buying a home together as a couple is an exciting time, but don’t let it become a source of tension between you. Owning a home is a huge commitment that both of you need to be ready for.

Use the following tips for couples purchasing a home before you start looking at available properties:

  • Discuss your preferences. It’s crucial to sit down and talk about what each of you wants in a home. Discuss things like location, type of home and what local amenities you prefer being close to. When you don’t talk about these beforehand, you could find out that your preferences are drastically different.
  • Check your credit reports. You both need to check your credit reports before applying for a mortgage. Take care of any errors, and talk to a lender about which debts you should try to pay off before submitting your application. Keep in mind that lenders weigh the lower credit score more heavily.
  • Get a mortgage pre-qualification. This provides you with a rough estimate of the amount you can qualify for on a mortgage. Factor this into your budget.

Ready to begin looking for a home? Call United Real Estate and follow our Facebook page.

The Difference Between Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval

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When it comes to financing your new home, you’ll need to be approved for a home loan. Before that can happen, though, you need to know roughly how big of a loan you’ll most likely need. This is where the terms “pre-qualified” and “pre-approved” come into play.

Getting pre-qualified happens first and means that you’ll find out how much of a mortgage you might be approved for. This step doesn’t involve as much scrutiny as pre-approval, so you won’t be going through a credit check or be asked to provide tons of information on your financial situation. You’ll also learn about the different types of mortgages, so you can find the one that would be best for you.

Being pre-approved is more in-depth than getting pre-qualified. Your lender will go over your credit report and look closely at your finances. You’ll also need to fill out a mortgage application and provide the paperwork that the lender requests. You’ll get a specific loan amount, which you can use to negotiate the price of a home.

Getting started with the home buying process? Visit United Real Estate to find a local agent, and stop by our Facebook page.

Five Tips for Purchasing a Foreclosed Home

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Buying a foreclosure can help you save big money on a house, but it’s not always a quick or easy process. There are certain things you should be aware of before you decide whether or not to do it.

Use these tips on purchasing a foreclosure to help you determine if it’s worth the extra effort:

  • Don’t expect to do much negotiating to bring down the price. If you buy the home, you’ll be responsible for fixing it up at your own expenditure.
  • Get a pre-approval letter for a mortgage from a reputable lender. Don’t assume that the bank that owns the house will handle your financing.
  • Do your research and look into what other comparable properties have sold for. This helps you come up with a better offer that’s more likely to be accepted.
  • Gather a list of reliable repair companies, since most foreclosures will require some fixing up.
  • Bid at the highest price you’re willing to go, then work your way down from there, if possible. You can start out lower if the home has been vacant for awhile.

Ready to begin looking for foreclosed homes for saleContact United Real Estate today, and visit our Facebook page.

Three Easy Ways to Save for a Down Payment on a Home

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Offering a down payment is a normal part of the home buying process, but it’s one that many struggle with. Thankfully, you don’t necessarily have to wait several years to set aside enough money for this expense.

Here are a few simple tips on saving for down payment, so you can buy a new home in the near future:

  • Check out government programs for home buyers. Your local or state government might offer programs to help residents purchase a home. You might be able to get financial assistance as a first-time buyer or a loan to cover your down payment.
  • Cut down on regular expenses. You can save quite a bit of money by shopping around for lower insurance rates or by negotiating lower rates on cable, Internet and phone bills.
  • Use IRA money. If you’re buying your first home, you can take $10,000 or less from your IRA to use as part of your down payment. This transaction isn’t subject to early withdrawal fees.

Are you ready to start looking for your next homeVisit United Real Estate to find a local agent, and stop byour Facebook page for home buying tips.