Author: Christine VanderBie

Buying a Home with Student Loan Debt

Buying a Home with Student Loan Debt

In a few short months, thousands of college students across the country will walk across a stage, shake a hand, and graduate from a university with a degree and more than likely… a whole lot of debt. Student loans are often necessary to reach your educational goals, but will they affect your ability to qualify for other financing in the future? Here’s what you’ll need to know.

Qualifying for a Mortgage with Student Loan Debt

How your student loans will affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage depends on two things: the total amount you owe, and what type of home loan program you are applying for. There are many loan programs available today and they each treat student debt differently, by the way they calculate your monthly payment.

FHA & USDA Mortgages and Student Loan Debt

Effective last summer, the FHA and USDA began calculating monthly student loan payments at 1% of the total amount owed. Regardless of deferment or income-based repayment plans, 1% of the total must be used to calculate a borrower’s debt-to-income ratio (DTI).  If a borrower is on a standard repayment plan, and their monthly payment is greater than 1% of the total amount owed, the actual payment amount will be used.

For example, lets say John has $65,000 in total student loan debt, but he is in deferment for 6 months. His monthly payment will be calculated as $65,000 * 1% (.01) = $650 regardless of what he actually pays each month.  If, however, he is on a standard repayment schedule and his monthly payment is $780 per month, his payment must be qualified at $780.

VA Mortgages and Student Loan Debt

Last month, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) introduced a new policy regarding how student loan debt is calculated. Prior to this change, it was calculated the same way as FHA and USDA. Now, however, the payment is calculated based on 5% of the total student loan debt, divided by 12 months.

Lets get back to John. In this scenario, John’s payment will be calculated as $65,000 * 5% (.05) / 12 = $271. Under the VA mortgage program, John more easily qualifies, because his DTI is lower.

What if John’s student loans are in deferment? If his repayment is scheduled to begin within 12 months from the estimated closing date, 5% / 12 months calculation must be used. If not, however, the payment can be omitted altogether if written evidence can be provided as such.

Conventional Mortgages and Student Loan Debt

Under Fannie Mae Conventional guidelines, student loan payments are calculated under the same rules as FHA and USDA. Under Freddie Mac Conventional guidelines, however, an IBR payment can be used in place of the calculated amount.

Lets say John is on an income-based repayment structure and only pays $250 per month. John will simply need to provide a statement from his loan servicer showing the actual repayment terms.

Perhaps the best news yet is that our 1% Down Conventional program allows for an actual IBR payment to be used when qualifying a borrower. So, not only can John more easily qualify with a lower DTI, but he can put just 1% down on his home purchase!

Apply for a Mortgage

To apply for a Mortgage, call Riverbank Finance today at 1-800-555-2098.

Request Information Now!

Mortgage Bankers vs. Mortgage Lenders vs. Mortgage Brokers

Bankers and Lenders and Brokers, Oh My!

Mortgage Bankers

When many prospective homebuyers think about getting pre-approved for a mortgage, they picture their local bank. They stop by the nearest branch, are greeted by a friendly teller, and ask to speak to a loan officer. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this concept, but it certainly isn’t the only way to obtain a mortgage.

Mortgage Lenders

Mortgage Lenders exist with the sole purpose of originating home mortgages. They do not have checking accounts or ATMs. Generally, they originate the mortgage, but once it closes and funds, they sell it to a mortgage servicer, and use the money to originate new mortgages. Mortgage lenders are also referred to as Direct Lenders or Retail Lenders.

Mortgage Brokers

Mortgage Brokers are basically a financial matchmaker, matching homebuyers to mortgage lenders. They develop relationships with multiple Wholesale Lenders to originate mortgages through the loan programs those lenders offer. Mortgage Brokers take a loan application, then send it to the lender who offers the best rate and terms for that borrower’s financial situation.

Which option is best for you?

Riverbank Finance is a Mortgage Broker, so I’m more than a little biased, but let me explain! Mortgage Brokers are a great option for most borrowers because we have access to more programs and encourage competition amongst our lenders—both of which drive pricing down. We also charge zero origination fees on the majority of our loan programs.

Working with a Mortgage Broker saves borrowers more than just money— it also saves hours of time! We shop our lenders’ rates and fees everyday, and know the program guidelines inside and out. Unlike banks and lenders, we do not add any additional overlays to our lenders program guidelines—their minimums are our minimums, allowing us to serve borrowers that others can’t.

Get More Information

To apply for a Mortgage, call Riverbank Finance today at 1-800-555-2098.

Request Information Now!

Buy a Home with No Closing Costs

Buy a Home with No Closing Costs

An alarming number of first time homebuyers are unaware that mortgages involve closing costs, and which often creates a financial obstacle. Here, we’ll explain not only what closing costs are, but more importantly, how to avoid paying them!

What are Closing Costs?

Closing costs are additional fees a homebuyer is responsible for, outside of the down payment, at the time of closing. They include things like lender fees, title fees, government fees, and prepaid items such as property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. See below for a more conclusive list of closing costs you may encounter.

Lender Fees
• Credit Report Fee
• Application Fee (if applicable)
• Origination Fees (if applicable)
Appraisal Fee
Flood Certification Fee
Title Fees
• Chain of Title
• Owner’s Title Insurance (typically paid by the seller in Michigan)
• Lender’s Title Insurance
• Closing Fee
• Courier Fee
Government Fees
• Recording Fees
• Transfer Tax (typically paid by the seller in Michigan)
Real Estate Broker Fees (if applicable)
Prepaid Items
• Per Diem Interest
• Property Taxes
• Homeowner’s Insurance
• Tax Prorations (to reimburse the seller for taxes they already paid)

Related: Transfer Tax Calculator and Title Insurance Calculator

How Much are Closing Costs?

Closing costs vary based on factors such as loan amount, location (state and locality) of the property, and lender fees. Total closing costs typically range between 3-6 percent of the sale price. As stated above, not all fees apply in every loan situation. For instance, here in Michigan, title insurance and transfer taxes are typically paid by the seller.

Ask your buyer’s agent about what (if any) fees their brokerage charges for their services, as their administrative fees can range up to $500. Lender fees can also have a large impact on a homebuyer’s total closing costs. Here at Riverbank Finance, we don’t charge any additional lender fees for most loan programs! Be sure to ask your loan officer what fees you can expect to pay for their services.

Can I Avoid Paying Closing Costs?

There are several ways in which homebuyers can avoid paying closing costs. The most common way to do this is to request seller paid closing costs when writing an initial offer on a property. Each loan program is different, but allows for a percent of the purchase price to be given back– up to 3% on Conventional, 4% on VA, and 6% on FHA and USDA. For example, if you are purchasing a $200,000 home with a VA mortgage, you can request seller paid closing costs of up to $8,000.

Homebuyers should also speak with their loan officers about no-closing cost loan programs. By utilizing lender credits, buyers can reduce or even eliminate their closing costs altogether—ask your loan officer if you qualify for lender paid closing costs! Here at Riverbank we charge NO APPLICATION FEES and most of our loan programs have NO LENDER FEES.

Get More Information

To apply for a Mortgage or Refinance with NO closing costs, call Riverbank Finance today at 1-800-555-2098.

Request Information Now!

VA Loans Just Got Better

 

For eligible servicemembers, veterans, and surviving spouses, the existing VA home loan program just got better! The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has introduced a new policy regarding how student loan debt affects mortgage eligibility.

Related: VA Loans for Military Veterans

VA loosens Guidelines for Student Loans

The new policy makes it easier for VA eligible borrowers to obtain a purchase or refinance loan, by changing the way student loan monthly payments are calculated. Prior to this change, 1% of the total student loan debt had to be counted toward the borrower’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio each month, regardless of actual monthly payment structure or deferment. Now, however, the payment will be calculated based on 5% of the total student loan debt, divided by 12 months. Clear as mud, right?

Lets do some math!

For example, lets say John has $65,000 in student loan debt. Formerly, his monthly student loan payment would have been $65,000 * 1% (.01) = $650. Now, his payment will be $65,000 * 5% (.05) / 12 = $271.

What if John is on an income-based repayment structure, and only pays $250 per month? The new policy also allows a statement from John’s student loan servicer to be provided, allowing the calculated payment to reflect the actual loan terms.

What if John’s student loans are in deferment? If his repayment is scheduled to begin within 12 months from the estimated closing date, we must use the 5% / 12 months rule. If not, however, the payment can be omitted altogether if written evidence can be provided that repayment will be deferred at least another 12 months from the closing date.

By changing the way student loan payments are calculated, more VA eligible borrowers will qualify, and for a larger amount. Check out our VA Mortgage Calculator to estimate your monthly payment on a desired home purchase.

What is a VA home loan?

VA home loans are originated by private lenders, banks, and mortgage companies, but the VA guarantees a portion of the loan, allowing us to offer you more favorable terms. VA purchase loans help you buy a home with a low interest rate, without requiring a down payment or private mortgage insurance (PMI). There are also special VA loan programs for Cashout and Streamline Refinances.

Who is eligible for a VA home loan?

Active servicemembers, veterans, and surviving spouses are eligible for VA home loan programs, with a valid certificate of eligibility (COE). Length of service or service commitment, duty status and character of service determine each veteran’s eligibility for specific benefits. All VA borrowers are still subject to the minimum credit score requirement of 580 and sufficient income levels to cover expected monthly obligations. For more specific information on eligibility and requirements, visit the VA benefits website.

For More Information Visit the VA Student Loan Announcement.

Get More Information

To apply for a VA Mortgage or Refinance call Riverbank Finance today at 1-800-555-2098.

Request Information Now!

Should I Payoff my Mortgage Early?

 

Should I pay off my mortgage early? How much money will it save me? How much extra should I pay each month? If I pay an extra one hundred dollars each month, when will my mortgage be paid off? As you can imagine, we get these questions a lot. They are all excellent questions, but the answers vary depending on the homeowner. Here, we’ll address some things to consider before paying off your mortgage early.

Debt-free living sounds like a dream, but even if it is financially feasible, is it the best choice for you? Paying off your mortgage early will save you the interest expense you would have incurred over time; and the higher your interest rate, the more you stand to save. If your interest rate is low, however, sending any excess cash to your mortgage servicer may not be your best option.

Related: Refinance your mortgage with FHA Streamline

So, what else could you do with that extra cash? Speak to your financial advisor about your goals for retirement. When discussing investment options, you may be surprised to hear that the expected return on some portfolios may be greater than the savings you’d see by paying your mortgage off early.

How long do you plan to stay in your home? If you’re still in your first home, and you don’t anticipate ever paying off the mortgage, it doesn’t make much sense to overpay. Conversely, if you’re in your ‘forever home’ adding a little extra to your monthly payment could mean significant savings down the road.

When it comes to debt, mortgage debt is the best kind of debt to have, but let’s be honest—it’s still debt. If it’s going to help you sleep at night, and you can afford to payoff your mortgage, then by all means, do it! Have a mortgage burning party! Apparently that’s a thing.

So you’ve weighed your options and decided to pay down your mortgage—great! Use our amortization schedule calculator to determine how much sooner you will pay off your loan by paying extra monthly. Enter your total loan amount, interest rate, loan term, and open the advanced calculations to add your extra principal payments (monthly). After you click calculate, scroll down to see the number of months it will take to pay off your mortgage.

Let’s say, for example, you have a 30-year mortgage of $160,000 at a 4.25% interest rate. If you pay an extra $100 each month, you will pay off your loan in approximately 289 months, or 24 years.

Get More Information

To apply for a Mortgage or Refinance call Riverbank Finance today at 1-800-555-2098.

Request Information Now!

Use Your Tax Refund as a Down Payment on a Home

Use Your Tax Refund as a Down Payment on a Home

One of the biggest roadblocks to homeownership for prospective first time homebuyers is the down payment. Given the cost of rent, utilities, student loan debt, and many other expenses, it is hard to save up thousands of dollars for a down payment. Some first time homebuyers are able to receive a downpayment gift from a family member, but not everyone is so fortunate. How then, can a prospective homebuyer purchase a home? Enter, tax season. The time of year every American loves to hate.

How Can my Tax Refund Help me Purchase a Home?

Whether you’re receiving six-hundred or six-thousand dollars in this year’s refund, it could mean the difference between renewing your lease or becoming a homeowner. If you’re leaning toward the latter, deposit your tax refund in your bank account and consult a loan officer about what to do next. Whatever you do, DON’T spend it, move it, or withdraw it in cash. Below are some examples of what you could do with it:

  • Add it to your reserves
  • Pay off debts to reduce DTI and increase chances of qualifying
  • Pay down credit card balances to raise credit scores
  • Pay for loan closing costs
  • Put toward your down payment
  • Create an emergency home repair fund

Be sure to discuss these options and others with your loan officer before making any major decisions with your refund. Each borrower’s situation is different—sometimes it is better to pay off a debt to qualify, while others would be better off with a larger down payment.

Mortgage Programs with Low to No Down Payment

  • VA – no down payment
  • USDA – no down payment
  • FHA – as little as 3.5% down payment
  • Conventional – as little as 3% down payment

Related: Purchase a home with zero down payment 

The National Association of Realtors reported a median sales price of $232,200 in 2016. The required down payment on this home would be $8,127 with an FHA loan, but zero with a VA or USDA loan. If you choose to pursue conventional financing, you’ll need $6,966 for 3% down, $11,610 for 5% down, $23,220 for 10% down, or $46,440 for 20%.

What if my refund isn’t enough?

Given the increases in home values and interest rates in recent years, a tax refund may no be enough to rely solely on for a down payment on a home. If this sounds like your situation, do not give up! Speak to one of our loan officers, who will gladly help you create a strategic plan for getting pre-approved and purchasing when the time comes.

Get More Information

To apply for a Mortgage or Refinance call Riverbank Finance today at 1-800-555-2098.

Request Information Now!

Housing Inventory Reaches 18-Year Low

Housing Inventory Reaches 18-Year Low

The number of active listings dropped again last month to the lowest level since 1999, according to the National Association of Realtors.  Only 1.65 million homes are available for sale, which equates to roughly 3.6 months of inventory nationwide.  This figure is downward from the 3.9 months of inventory reported in December 2015.  A healthy, balanced market should have about six-months of inventory.  See NAR’s infographic below for additional statistics on national home sales.

Housing Inventory in West Michigan

Here in West Michigan, the situation is even more dire. According to statistics from the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors, we closed out 2016 with only 1.7 months of inventory. This means that if no additional homes entered the market for sale, at the current sales pace, all existing listings would be scooped up in less than two months. As shown by the graph below, inventory levels in West Michigan have been on a steep decline for the last decade.

You may be wondering, what is causing the housing shortage? Experts blame a combination of rising demand and stagnant new home construction. Single-family housing starts are growing, but only at a snail’s pace. Builders are still struggling to operate at pre-housing crisis levels, due to the loss of skilled trades and increased labor and materials costs.

What does this mean for the upcoming Spring real estate market? Prospective buyers can expect cutthroat competition—multiple offers, over list price, in less than 24 hours, without contingencies. There won’t be time for second showings or “sleeping on it”. And shopping for a home before being pre-approved? Don’t even think about it!

What about the remaining homes for sale?  Why aren’t they selling?  Many times, it is due to the condition of the home.  Most buyers do not have the time, desire, or cash to remodel a home top to bottom.  Enter renovation mortgage programs!  Renovation mortgage programs such as the Homestyle Renovation or FHA 203k programs allow borrowers to purchase and remodel the home of their dreams in one fell swoop.

How do Renovation Loans work?

Logistically speaking, a homebuyer, after agreeing to purchase a home for a set price, attains quotes from contractors to have renovations done. An appraisal of the home is then done, taking into account the home’s value once renovations have been completed. You can then borrow up to 96.5% of that appraised value. As soon as closing takes place, funds for renovations are placed in an interest-bearing escrow account and construction begins. Once renovations are complete, a final inspection takes place, the contractors are paid out of the escrow, and you move in to your beautifully renovated new home!

Get More Information

To apply for a Mortgage or Refinance call Riverbank Finance today at 1-800-555-2098.

Request Information Now!

7 Mortgage Myths Debunked

7 Mortgage Myths Debunked

It is no secret that the home buying process is a long and complicated one. Getting started can be intimidating and confusing, so we’ve compiled a list of common mortgage myths we hear from our clients. Here, we’ll break them down and explain the truth about mortgages, in plain English.

1. Having my credit pulled will drop my credit score

Many prospective buyers are hesitant about having their credit pulled because they fear it will destroy their score, but it has far less affect than you’d think. Having your credit pulled for any reason may have an impact on your overall score, but it is usually very minor.

Did you know, you actually have many different types of credit scores? Depending on who accesses your credit report, from which bureau, and for what purpose, a different scoring model is reported. Mortgage inquiries are treated differently than other credit inquiries because you can shop around for the best rate and terms. The credit bureaus do not penalize consumers for rate shopping, so any mortgage inquiries that happen within the same 45 days are treated as only 1 inquiry on your credit report.

2. Credit Karma says my score is…

Popular sites like Credit Karma and Free Credit Report are great tools for monitoring trends in your credit report, but are simply not reliable sources for determining credit eligibility. We’ve compared Credit Karma’s “scores” to actual scores we’ve pulled, and seen as much as a 100-point swing in either direction—whoa!

Don’t necessarily trust information you obtain from these websites—talk to a mortgage loan officer! In addition to providing you with an accurate credit rating, your loan officer can provide insight into what factors may be affecting your score, and what you can do to improve it.

3. I haven’t been at my job for 2 years yet

If you haven’t been in your current job or position for the last two years, don’t worry! As long as you have had continuous employment for the last two years, you’ll still qualify. Any gaps in employment will have to be detailed with a signed letter of explanation, but do not necessarily doom your chances of being pre-approved.

4. I need to payoff and close out my credit cards first

For some unknown reason, many of our clients believe they should have all other debts paid off before buying a home. While this is a noble idea and paying off debt is rarely—if ever—a bad idea, closing revolving accounts will actually do more harm than good! Pay off—or pay down—as many accounts as you can, but do not close out your credit cards. Having unutilized credit positively affects your credit score and your borrowing profile!

5. I don’t have the funds for a down payment

It is a common misconception that borrowers must have 20% to put down on any home that they want to purchase—not to mention closing costs—but that simply isn’t true anymore. There are many mortgage programs available today that did not exist a decade ago. For example, the FHA now offers mortgages with as little as 3.5% down, and both USDA and VA offer programs with no down payment at all!

6. Owning is more expensive than renting

It is almost always cheaper to pay a mortgage than rent a comparable home in the same area. Owning a home also allows you to build equity. When your lease ends on your apartment, you are welcome to leave, but the rent you paid is long gone. Buying a place of your own allows you to build your own wealth over time, not your landlord’s.

7. My bank will give me the best deal

Many borrowers, when thinking of purchasing a home, start with their trusted bank or credit union first. It makes sense, right? They know you, you’ve banked with them for years, they already have all of your personal information, it should be easy peasy, right? Wrong! Loan guidelines are the same for everyone, no matter which bank or lender originates the loan. Your bank won’t be able to cut you any special breaks or give you an extra low rate, just because you’ve been a member for a while—even if they want to!

Get More Information

To apply for a Mortgage or Refinance call Riverbank Finance today at 1-800-555-2098.

Request Information Now!

FHA Lowers Mortgage Insurance Premium

FHA Lowers Mortgage Insurance Premium

Great news for homebuyers considering an FHA home loan or FHA refinance! The popular mortgage program is getting even better. The Department of Housing & Urban Development announced this morning that the FHA will be decreasing their annual mortgage insurance premium by a quarter of a percent. The upfront guarantee fee will remain the same.

Effective for new mortgages closing on or after January 27th, the annual fee—paid monthly—will decrease from .85% to .60%. This news comes only four months after the USDA decision to lower their own upfront and annual fees on rural development loans.

New FHA MIP Savings Example

Now, unless you spend your spare time studying loan program guidelines, that might sound like gibberish—so let’s do some math to demonstrate the savings. On a $200,000 home purchase, the monthly mortgage insurance premium would decrease from $142 to $100. That is a savings of $42 per month, over $500 per year!

The FHA made this decision following four straight years of growth and $44 billion dollars of value gained since 2012. They aim to protect the insurance fund while also offsetting the cost of increased mortgage interest rates.

“After four straight years of growth and with sufficient reserves on hand to meet future claims, its time for FHA to pass along some modest savings to working families” -HUD Secretary, Julian Castro

Requirements for an FHA loan

You might be thinking, that’s great, but how do I know if an FHA loan is the right fit for me? I’m glad you asked! Qualifying for an FHA loan is relatively simple and provides many benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Minimum credit score of 580
  • Down Payment as low as 3.5%
  • No early payoff penalties
  • Allows seller-paid closing costs

FHA announcement: Read FHA Mortgagee

Have a specific scenario you’d like to run past us? Give us a call to speak with one of our licensed loan officers, or check out our FHA Mortgage Calculator. We would love to recommend the best loan program for you and your situation.

Apply for a FHA Mortgage

Call Riverbank Finance today at 1-800-555-2098

Request Information Now!

Millennials, Mortgages and Homeownership

Millennials, Mortgages & Homeownership

It is no surprise that millennials, generation aged 18-34, make up more than 40% of homebuyers today. Follow these simple steps to join your peers on the path to home ownership.

Don’t Wait Forever

If you find yourself waiting for the perfect house, at a great price, and the lowest rate, you may never become a homeowner. It is no secret that interest rates have risen over the last quarter, but by historical standards, rates are still extremely low. Appreciation of home values went up 6.8% nationally in 2016, and are predicted to increase another 4% in 2017. Home sales are also up 15%. With interest rates and housing prices on the move, waiting could cost you more than you think.

Stop Renting

Studies have shown, you’re probably paying about 20% more in rent than you would for a mortgage on the same property. This is great news for your landlord, but not for you! When you own your own home, not only is it yours, so you can DIY it to your hearts desire, but you are contributing to your investment, not your landlord’s.

Don’t Assume the Answer is No

You know what they say when you assume, “Don’t make a…” Anyway, you get the point. Many potential buyers just assume they will not qualify, so they don’t even try. Student loans and little savings will not automatically disqualify you from obtaining a mortgage. In most cases, only 1% of your total student debt must be counted toward your debt-to-income ratio, and many no-or-low-downpayment programs are available today.

Get Pre-Qualified

One of the biggest mistakes potential homebuyers make is looking at homes before speaking with a loan officer. It is important to know now only if you qualify for a mortgage, but how much, and if the payments are comfortable for your financial situation. You would not want to fall in love with a home outside of your price range, or waste the sellers’ time.

Hire a Buyer’s Agent

After you have been pre-qualified for a mortgage, find a buyer’s agent you can trust. Searching for a home on your own will not save you any money—in fact it could do just the opposite! Realtors play a vital role in the real estate transaction, including showing the property, writing the offer, handing negotiations, obtaining concessions (such as closing costs), and help coordinate all of the involved parties.

Do Not Give Up

Don’t just give up if you don’t qualify today! Ask your loan officer what barriers are preventing you from being qualified, and how to improve. Sometimes, all it takes is a small downpayment gift from a family member. If poor credit is the problem, inquire about what problems may be negatively affecting your score, and work to resolve and remove them.

According to a recent survey conducted by mortgage giant Ellie Mae, 90% of millennials want to own a home, just don’t believe they can yet. 45% of those polled said lack of downpayment was their barrier, and only 30% said inability to qualify was the issue. Whatever the problem may be, do not give up. Talk to your loan officer who will be happy to advise you!

Have a specific scenario you’d like to run past us? Give us a call to speak with one of our licensed loan officers. We would love to recommend the best loan program for you and your situation.

Get More Information

To apply for a Mortgage or Refinance call Riverbank Finance today at 1-800-555-2098.

Request Information Now!