Category: Local Michigan

News and Updates in our home turf Grand Rapids, MI.

2019 FHA Loan Limits

FHA Loan Limits for 2019

FHA Loan Limits Increased for 2019

On December 14, 2018, FHA increased the FHA Loan Limits for new case numbers assigned on or after January 1, 2019. The FHA loan limits have increased from 2018 FHA loan limits of $294,515 to the new floor of $314,827 for 1 UNIT properties.

Related: See our FHA Mortgage Payment Calculator

FHA’s nationwide forward mortgage limit “floor” and “ceiling” for a one-unit property in Calendar Year 2019 are $314,827 and $726,525, respectively. The loan limits in Michigan are based on the number of units of the residence.

2019 FHA Loan and Conventional Loan Limits

MICHIGAN LOAN LIMITSFHACONVENTIONAL
1 UNIT$314,827$484,350
2 UNIT$403,125$620,200
3 UNIT$487,250$749,650
4 UNIT$605525$931,600

Michigan FHA Loan Limits

Michigan does not have any high cost areas therefore the limits for FHA Loans and Conventional Loans are the floor limits. FHA Loan limit in Michigan is $314,827. Conventional Loan Limits in Michigan is $484,350.

Michigan VA Loan Limits

VA loans in Michigan use the Conventional Loan limits of $484,350 set for 2019. All VA loans use the same conventional loan limits which are higher than FHA loan limits.

Michigan USDA Loan Limits

USDA Loans in Michigan are set at the Conventional Loan limits of $484,350 for 2019 as well. All USDA Loans use the same conventional loan limits which are higher than FHA loan limits and allow for more purchasing power.

For More Information on FHA Loan Limits

Give us a call today at 800-555-2098 or request information below!

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Select the links below for additional mortgage limits guidance for forward mortgages:

For Calendar Year 2019, the HECM maximum nationwide claim amount will be $726,525 for all areas. Refer to Mortgagee Letter 18-12 for more details.

2019 Conventional Loan Limits

2019 conventional loan limitsThe Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced increased loan limits for the 2019 calendar year for Conventional Home Loans. The maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2019 will be effective for all loans sold on or after January 1st, 2019.  In most of the U.S., the 2019 maximum conforming loan limit for one-unit properties will be $484,350, an increase from $453,100 in 2018.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Baseline Limit Will Increase to $484,350

What is the Conventional Loan Limit on a 2 Unit Property?

The standard Conventional loan limit on a 2 Unit Property is set at $620,200. High costs areas are set at $930,300 conventional loan limit on 2 unit properties.

What is the Conventional Loan Limit on a 3 Unit Property?

The standard Conventional loan limit on a 3 Unit Property is set at $749,650. High costs areas are set at $1,124,475 conventional loan limit on 3 unit properties.

What is the Conventional Loan Limit on a 4 Unit Property?

The standard Conventional loan limit on a 4 Unit Property is set at $931,600. High costs areas are set at $1,139,400 conventional loan limit on 3 unit properties.

How is the Conventional Loan Maximum Calculated?

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act reviews the baseline conforming loan limit and requires that it be adjusted each year for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reflect the change in the average U.S. home price.  When the FHFA published its Q3 2018 House Price Index (HPI) report, data showed that home prices increased by 6.9% on average. This is the amount that the baseline maximum conforming loan limit in will increase for Conventional Loans in 2019.

What is the Conventional Loan Limit for High Cost Areas?

A high cost ares is defined as a place where the local median home value exceeds the baseline confirming loan limit by 115 percent.  For these areas, the “ceiling” is 150 percent of the baseline loan limit. The new ceiling loan limit for one-unit properties in most high-cost areas will be $726,525 — or 150 percent of $484,350.

The new High Cost Conventional Loan Limit is $726,525 for one unit properties.

Give us a call today at 800-555-2098 or request information below!

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How to get the Best Mortgage Loan

getting the best mortgageWhen it comes to home loans, there are hundreds of loan programs and options that you may want to consider. Many first time home buyers do not know where to start when they want to buy a home. It is overwhelming to most people who do not have experience buying a home or getting a mortgage. The good news is, a loan officer can be your tour guide to help you get the best mortgage loan.

A loan officer’s job is to review your financial situation and provide home loan options. They will help to narrow down mortgage programs that do not fit your goals and also ones that you may not be eligible for.  Here are the basic categories that you should review with your loan officer to get the best mortgage for your situation.

What Mortgage Program is the Best?

There are several loan programs that you can apply for including Conventional Loans, FHA Loans, VA Loans, USDA Rural Development Loans, Jumbo loans, and Portfolio Loans. Each loan program has its pros and cons.

Related: Conventional Loan vs FHA Loan vs VA Loan vs USDA Home Loans

You may not be eligible for some programs. VA Loans, for example, require that you have served in the military. If you haven’t served, then this would not be a loan option for you. Conventional loans typically require higher credit scores and are more rate sensitive to lower credit scores. USDA RD Loans, have income limits and restricted areas where you can purchase.

As you can see it is nearly impossible to quickly learn all the ins and outs of each program when you are buying a home. A loan officer can help offer options on what loan program may be the best fit for your situation.

What Mortgage Term is the Best?

loan term

Once you decide on what mortgage program will be the best fit for your situation, you will need to decide on a mortgage term. Loan terms range anywhere from 10 years to 40 years for some programs.  For most loan programs we could even offer a 17 year loan or a 27 year mortgage based on your goals.  The most popular mortgage option is a 30 year mortgage.

Many financial advisers recommend a 15 year fixed rate mortgage. This allows you to get a great rate and pay off your mortgage quickly. Typically loan rates are lower for shorter term loans. The downside is that the monthly payment will be higher the shorter your loan term is.

A traditional 30 year mortgage term has low payments but most of the payment goes directly to interest for the first several years. Many people are shocked at how little their loan balance goes down after a year or two of mortgage payments.

Be sure to ask your loan officer what mortgage term is best for your goals.

Include Escrows or Waive Escrows?

escrows or waived escrows

When you get a mortgage you may have the option to include escrows into your mortgage payment. An escrow account is a savings account held for you by your mortgage servicer that is specifically for paying the property taxes and home owners insurance on your home.

Typically, government insured mortgages including FHA, VA and USDA require you to have an escrow account included with your mortgage.

Conventional loans may allow you to waive escrows. This means that you would be responsible to pay your own taxes and home owners insurance bills when they become due.

Many people like escrow accounts for the ease of payment. It is one less thing homeowners need to worry about when buying a home. On the other hand, some people would rather waive escrows and keep their own savings where they can earn interest and be more in control of their funds.

Fixed Rate or Adjustable Rate?

A major choice to consider when getting a mortgage is if you would rather have a fixed rate or an adjustable rate. Most homeowners choose to have a fixed rate that does not change for the life of your loan. This gives predictable payments and certainty that your payment will not adjust.

Other homeowners wish to choose an adjustable rate mortgage, commonly refereed to as an ARM Loan. Typically ARMs start off with a lower rate which is locked for a set number of years (3, 5, 7, or 10 years). Once the initial fixed period is up, the rates are subject to adjustments to the LIBOR or other indexes. If the rates go up, your mortgage payment goes up. If the rates go down, your mortgage payment goes down.

Choosing a fixed rate is thought to be a more safe and secure loan option. ARMs should be carefully considered for financially savvy homeowners. Be sure to ask your loan officer about ARM Loans if you are interested otherwise a fixed rate mortgage is most likely the best choice.

What Interest Rate Should I Pick?

picking your interest rate

Lastly, when getting a mortgage, you have to pick a mortgage rate. Many people do not realized that they have options for different mortgage rates. Once you select all of your other mortgage details, your loan officer will present your mortgage rate options.

When it comes to mortgage rates, you also need to consider the fees associated with getting the loan. Typically, the lower the rate, the higher the fee. Conversely, the higher the rate, the lower the fees.

Should I Pay Discount Points?

pay discount points

If you want the lowest rate possible, you can certainly request a rock bottom interest rate but be prepared to pay discount points for a rate lower than the market rates.

If you want to make sure you are having the lowest costs to get a mortgage, then you may want to consider a slightly higher interest rate. Picking a higher rate may allow you to have no lender fee or even receive a lender credit that will apply towards other closing costs and pre-paid items like taxes and insurances.

Deciding what rate and fee combination can seem difficult, but your loan officer can help you do a break even analysis to compare the time to break even on your investment of paying points for lower rates.

Lets look at an example: If you were to pay 2 points on a $100,000 loan for a lower rate, this would cost you $2,000 in extra closing costs. By getting the lower rate, lets say you save $50 per month.

To find your break even point, you will divide your extra costs of $2,000 by your savings of $50 which would give you 40 months, or 3.33 years to break even on your up front investment.

If you plan on staying in the house for 5 years, then you will save more than your costs therefore paying points may make sense. If you plan on selling your home in 2 years, then you would not benefit from the up front investment and you would be better off taking the higher rate with lower fees.

There are many factors to consider to get the best mortgage for your situation. It is not as easy as simply picking the lowest rate. Be sure to work with a trusted loan officer that can help review all the mortgage programs to get you the best mortgage for your situation.

For more information on home loan programs or to review the best loan for you, request information below or call a loan officer at 800-555-2098.

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The Top 10 Largest Employers in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Top Employers in Grand Rapids, MIList of Top Employers in Grand Rapids, MI

Combined, the top 10 largest employers in Grand Rapids employ over 66,000 people. These companies are involved in various industries which include healthcare, grocery, shopping, consumer goods, manufacturing, technology, automotive, education, and furniture. In fact, Grand Rapids is known by many as “Furniture City” because it is home to many leading furniture manufacturing companies. These companies and many more help with Grand Rapid’s strong economy and low unemployment rates. Grand Rapids and West Michigan is a very attractive location to relocate to, especially for those interested in finding a long-term career with great pay and benefits.

Related Article: 10 Reasons to Move to Grand Rapids, MI

1. Spectrum Health

Headquarters: Grand Rapids, MI

Employees: 25,000

Spectrum Health is the largest employer in Grand Rapids and also the largest in the entire West Michigan. Spectrum Health is made up of hospital, treatment facilities, clinics, and urgent care facilities that provide excellent healthcare services to the residents of West Michigan.

 2. Meijer

Headquarters: Walker, MI

Employees: 10,340

Meijer is a large supermarket and hypermarket which offers many products and services that allowing customers to satisfy majority of their shopping needs at one location. Now a large regional supermarket, Meijer’s headquarters is based in Grand Rapids, MI.

3. Mercy General Health Partners

Headquarters: Muskegon, MI

Employees: 6,200

Mercy General Health Partners is a healthcare provider large throughout Muskegon & Kent Counties. It is a general medical hospital working to provide valuable health care to those residing in West Michigan.

4. Amway Corporation

Headquarters: Ada, MI

Employees: 4,000

Amway Corporation is a international consumer to consumer sales company selling mainly in the health, beauty and home care products. This

5. Gentex Corporation 

Headquarters: Zeeland, MI

Employees: 3,900

Gentex is a large manufacturing company specializing in glass products for the Automotive and Aviation markets.

6. Perrigo

Headquarters: Allegan, MI

Employees: 3,800

Perrigo is a manufacturer of over-the-counter and generic prescription medication, and other healthcare products that can be found in store across the world.

7. Herman Miller

Headquarters: Zeeland, MI

Employees: 3,621

Herman Miller is a manufacturer of furniture and equipment. It is one of the first companies to produce furniture with a modernist style.

8. Steelcase

Headquarters: Grand Rapids, MI

Employees: 3,500

Steelcase  is a large furniture manufacturer, it develops a wide range of different products and services for diverse businesses and workplaces.

9. Grand Valley State University

Headquarters: Grand Rapids/Allendale, MI

Employees: 3,306

Grand Valley State University (GVSU) is a large public university with two main campuses in Allendale and Grand Rapids. The college has over 25,000 students and is consistently recognized as one of the best universities in the United States.

10. Lacks Enterprises, Inc.

Headquarters: Grand Rapids, MI

Employees: 2,800

Lacks Enterprises, Inc. is a large manufacturer for the Automotive Market that specializes in plastic finish products.

Rounding Out the Top 20 Employers in Grand Rapids, MI

Other large employed in the area include, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Farmers Insurance Group, SpartanNash, Gordon Food Service, Magna International Inc, Metro Health Hospital, Ventra, Alcoa Howmet Corp., Fifth Third Bank and Priority Health.

For more information on the top employers in Grand Rapids and West Michigan please visit: https://www.grandrapids.org/ and https://www.rightplace.org/data-center/workforce

Moving to Grand Rapids or West Michigan? Send us a Message

With the thriving economy in Grand Rapids, MI you may be looking to call this place home. Riverbank Finance specializes in relocation loans and can assist you to buy a home in Grand Rapids. For more information on a local mortgage company in Grand Rapids, MI send us a message and we would be glad to assist you!

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5 Steps to do When you get Denied for a Mortgage

mortgage denial

The feeling of rejection can be overwhelming especially if it is for a mortgage denial. If you applied for a mortgage to buy a home, chances are you were making major plans in your life to prepare for your move. You were probably excited and told friends and family and now must deal with the embarrassment of telling them you couldn’t get approved for a loan.

Before you throw in the towel and accept that you cannot get a mortgage, there are 5 steps you should take to review your options.

1) Ask Your Loan Officer Why You Were Denied for a Mortgage

When a home loan gets denied, the financial institution that you applied with must issue a Notice of Adverse Action. This is a form sent to you within 30 days of your mortgage denial. Regulations require the form to list “A statement of specific reasons for the action taken.”

If you are still unsure why your loan was not approved, you should ask your loan officer why you were denied. It is your loan officer’s job to properly explain to you why your loan was not approved and provide options and alternatives.

2) Confirm Your Information is Correct on your Loan Application and Credit Report

Once you know the specific reason why your mortgage was denied, your next step is to confirm that all of your information was accurate on your loan application. Take another look at your information on the application that you signed and confirm that your income, assets, and liabilities are all accurate.

If the reason for your loan denial was due to credit, you should request a free copy of your credit report which can be done annually to confirm your information is accurate. Review all items to make sure there are no errors. Common errors on credit are late payments and collection accounts that do not belong to you.

If you have errors on your credit report, provide documentation to your loan officer and ask about options to do a rapid rescoring of your credit to fix the errors. You could also contact the credit bureaus directly and request corrections which could take 30+ days.

3) Look in the Mirror and Confirm if Now is the Right Time to get a Mortgage

If your mortgage was denied, it may make sense to look in the mirror and ask yourself if now is the right time to get a mortgage. Many times, people get the idea of buying a home but they are unable to keep up with their current bills. Adding a mortgage on to your already tight budget may be a poor financial decision.

Mortgage applications are commonly denied because the underwriter’s research finds omissions on the borrower’s application. For example, if you pay child support and did not tell your loan officer, an underwriter may discover this extra obligation on your paystubs. Underwriters also have software to scan public records for previous foreclosures, judgments and real estate owned. Any of these factors could easily lead to your loan being denied if you did not disclose this information up front.

A loan officer’s job is to work with you as a team to find solutions to get you approved for a mortgage. Be straight forward with your loan officer so they can better assist you and anticipate potential issues up front. If you applied for a loan and it was denied because you withheld information when you did your loan application, you should a step back and refocus your frustration on fixing the underlying issues.

4) Work to Fix the Reasons Why Your Mortgage Was Rejected

There are a million ways a mortgage can be denied. It is difficult to anticipate all potential underwriting issues up front despite you and your loan officer’s best efforts. Now that you know the reason why your loan was rejected, you should work on fixing the reasons so you can re-apply in the future. Here are some common reasons why mortgages are denied and solutions to get your ready for approval:

Your Loan was Denied because your Credit Score is Too Low

If your credit score is too low, there may be easy things that you can do to improve the score. The quickest and easiest options is to pay down credit card balances. Part of your credit scoring equation is your credit/debt ratio. All three major credit bureaus analyze the amount of available credit and how much of that you are utilizing.

To get the highest credit scores, you will need to pay down your credit card. For example, if your credit card limit is $1,000 and you owe $989, this is essentially a maxed out credit account which reflects negatively on your scores. To improve your credit you should pay down your balance to 30% or less of your credit limit. In this case you would need to pay down the balance to under $300. You will then need to wait for the creditor to report again to the credit bureaus before having your credit report updated.

Fixing errors on your credit should be another easy solution to improving your score. You can certainly contact the credit bureaus and dispute inaccurate information on your own or you could speak with a credit repair agency for assistance. This process can take several months and should not be done during a loan application.

If your credit score was too low, you may still qualify for other loan types. Conventional mortgages are very credit score driven while FHA Loans are more flexible on credit requirements.

Your Loan was Denied due to High Debt-to-Income Ratios

If your loan was denied because your debt-to-income ratio was too high, this means that you have too much debt for your qualifying income. There are two solutions to this problem, A) Increase your income or B) Reduce your Debts.

  1. Increasing your income sounds great but it may not be an easy solution. If you have been promised a raise at your job but not gotten it yet, then you may want to speak with human resources about getting a raise. If you are a w2 employee, underwriters will allow your new pay rate for qualifying right away. Getting a 2nd job may help you with more cash flow, but typically you cannot count income from a 2nd job unless you have a 2 year history of working more than one job.
  2. The easier answer to fixing your debt-to-income ratio is to examine your current obligations and see what debts you could get paid off. This includes, paying off credit cards or installment loans or selling things. If your goal is to buy a home, it may be a good time to sell that expensive camper to get rid of the monthly payment. Alternately you could look at buying a less expensive house that would better fit in your budget. Lastly, you could review options to consolidate debt and refinance high interest credit cards into a lower payment.

Your Loan was Denied due to Insufficient Assets

When you buy a home, you are required to document the money needed for your down payment. Part of the underwriting process is sourcing and seasoning your assets. This means that you need to show where your money came from if it was freshly deposited into your bank accounts. Unverified deposits must be subtracted from your available assets that you can use to qualify for a mortgage.

If your loan was denied because you did not have enough cash, there are several solutions you can consider:

Look for Mortgage Options with a Low Down Payment or No Down Payment: The current lender you are working with may not have as many options for low down payment mortgages. There may be home loans that require less cash for your down payment.

Save up Money in your bank account:

Cash on hand cannot be used to qualify for a mortgage. You cannot deposit large sums of money into your bank account and use it to buy a home. An alternate option to this is to deposit only your weekly paycheck and let that accumulate while you pay your expenses with the cash on hand.

Look for Gift Options:

When buying a home, you may be able to get a gift from a family member to use towards your down payment. Most loans allow for this as an option. Have a conversation with your family members and see if they have some available asset they could gift to you so you can become a home owner.

The last option to review if your loan was denied because of insufficient assets is to sell your belongings. Remember documentation is key if you are going to sell things to use as a down payment on a home. You should keep a thorough paper-trail including a sales agreement signed by both parties, an appraisal of the item you are selling, documentation that you are the owner of the item and proof of payment such as a copy of the check or money order. Do not accept cash as cash cannot be easily verified.

5) Get a Second Opinion from a Different Mortgage Company

If you have completed the first 4 Steps and did not find a quick solution to get approved for a mortgage, then the best answer is to get a second opinion from a different mortgage company. No two lenders are alike. All lenders have different guidelines and requirements for financing. A bank or lender may have denied your loan due to one of their internal “overlays” which is an additional restriction on financing.

Your best chances at financing are to get a second opinion form a mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers will have access to multiple banks and lenders and can review all your home loan options with one application. Typically mortgage brokers can also offer lower rates and lower costs than other banks and lenders.

To get a second opinion on your home loan options call a licensed loan officer at Riverbank today at 800-555-2098. Our experienced loan officers will take the time to review why you were denied by the other lender and provide solutions to help get your approved for a mortgage.

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Conventional Loan vs FHA Loan vs VA Loan vs USDA Home Loans

compare home loan options

When shopping for a mortgage it is a good idea to compare loan options. Many lenders offer a variety of home loans that might fit your needs. Each mortgage options has it benefits and weaknesses that should be considered for your individual loan needs.

Lending guidelines are not the same for all mortgage lenders.  All banks and mortgage companies operate off the same set of guidelines for the specific mortgage programs however each may have its own overlays. Lending overlays are additional conditions or interpretations of the set guidelines.  For example, FHA loans with a 3.5% down payment allows as low as a 580 credit score but most banks and lenders add an overlay that requires a 640+ credit score.

The best way to review mortgage options is to speak with a licensed loan officer that will be an expert on the loan options. They will help to review the pros and cons and assist with comparing home loans that may be the best for you.

The chart below compares Conventional Loans vs FHA loans vs VA loans vs USDA Rural Development Loans.  These are the most popular loan options that most borrowers will review. As you can see below, if you have had a recent bankruptcy or foreclosure then Conventional would not be an option.

If none of these options seem to fit your life situation then a portfolio loan may be your last resort. Portfolio mortgages are home loans that do not fit the agency guidelines. They take a more common sense approach and make exceptions on loan requirements if the borrower is has financial strength in other areas. The trade off is that they typically require larger down payments and have higher rates than other loan programs.

Home Loan Comparison Chart

April 11th, 2018:Conventional LoansFHA LoansVA LoansUSDA Loans
Minimum Required Down Payment3% of Purchase Price3.50% of Purchase Price
(Only 1.5% required for our FHA Down Payment Assistance Program)
Zero DownZero Down
Annual Mortgage Insurance Rates (Paid Monthly)Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)  ranges from .10 to 1.5% of the loan amount annually based on Residency Status, Credit and Loan to Value.Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP) ranges from .80% to .85 % for loan terms over 15 years and .45% to .95% for loan terms of 15 years or less.NONE.5% of loan amount
Additional CostsIncrease to rate or loan fees based on credit score1.75% Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium added to your loan balance or paid in full at closing.0% fee if Disabled Veteran or surviving spouse
2.15% for First VA Loan Standard Military
2.40% for First VA Loan National Guard or Reserves
3.3% Subsequent Loans
2.00% Funding Fee added to your loan balance.
Minimum Credit Score620+ credit score530+ with 90% loan to value and 580+ for 96.5% loan to value550+ credit score580+ (Additional requirements including proof of Rental History under 620 score)
Maximum Loan Amount$453,100 Loan Limit
(Read More)
$294,515 Loan Limits for Single Family Homes
$377,075 for Two Units
$455,800 for Three Units
$566,425 for Four Units
$453,100 Loan Limit$453,100 Loan Limit
Allowable Seller Contributions

Principal Residence & Second Homes
LTV Greater than 90% = 3%
LTV 75.01-90% = 6%
LTV 75% or less = 9%

Investment Properties
ALL LTV ratios = 2%

6% Seller Contributions payable towards Buyer Closing Costs and Pre-Paid items.4% Seller Contributions payable towards Buyer Closing Costs and Pre-Paid items.USDA sets no maximum however most lenders set 6% Seller Contributions payable towards Buyer Closing Costs and Pre-Paid items.
Required Waiting Period after BankruptcyChapter 7 requires 4 Years from discharge date
Chapter 13 requires 2 Years from discharge date
Chapter 7 requires 2 Years from discharge date
Chapter 13 requires 1 Years from discharge date
Chapter 7 requires 2 Years from discharge date
Chapter 13 requires 1 Years from discharge date
Chapter 7 requires 2 Years from discharge date
Chapter 13 requires 1 Years from discharge date
Required Waiting Period after Foreclosure

7 Years from Completion

3 Years from Completion2 Years from Completion3 Years from Completion

To review home loan options with a Licensed Loan officer simply complete the form below to request a free consultation or call us now at 1-800-555-2098.

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Budgeting to Become a Homebuyer

budgeting for home ownership

You have found yourself in debt, but you have also found yourself wanting to buy a home.  You want to pay off the money that you owe all while saving up money for your dream home. It is possible? First off, you should know that you are not alone. Many people find themselves in situations such as this, but there is a way to come out of this and end up in a home that you love.

Budgeting is the Place to Start to Prepare for a Home Purchase

Let’s be real budgeting can be overwhelming, but hear me out! Instead of thinking of budgeting as a restriction think of it as a guide. A guide that will lead you down to a path of financial stability. And besides what is more terrifying — budgeting or being in debt?

Step 1) Budgeting: Track your expenses

Start by writing down your expenses. How much do you spend on food? Gas? Going out? Track what you are spending for one month and when you are done determine if that amount of money is over or under what you can afford.

Step 2) Budgeting: Reduce expenses

Figure out what things you can cut back on. Do you really need to do things like going out to eat five times a month? Probably not.

Look for alternatives to the things you normally do. Instead of going out to eat for lunch at work, pack your lunch. Instead of going out to the movies, rent one and have a comfortable night in with your friends, family, or significant other. If you want to go out try finding coupons for the place you are going and save money that way. One thing you should ask yourself when shopping for things that you really do not need is if you would rather have that particular item or a home.

Step 3) Budgeting: Save Money

Once you have figured out ways to cut back on spending, put the extra money into a savings account. Try and save up an emergency fund of at least $1000 or whatever you feel comfortable with. It can be hard to eliminate credit card debt, for example, when you do not have an emergency fund established because something expected can happen and force you to use your cards and bring you more into more debt.

One way to earn money is by selling your possessions that you do not want or need.  You can use the profits from this to reduce debt or save up for a down payment. Just make sure that you are receiving sales receipts for the items that you sale so that you have documentation for the lender on how the money got into your account. You could also use the money from the things that you sell to live off instead of taking money out of the bank.

Step 4) Budgeting: Pay down debt

When you have an emergency fund saved up, then it is time to start paying off your debts and raise your credit score! At the very least you should make sure you are making your minimum payments. Lenders usually look at the minimum balances that are reported to credit companies in order to calculate your debt-to-income ratio.

So once you have your emergency fund established use the money that you were putting into the fund into either the card/loan with the smallest balance to get it paid off quickly or into the card/loan with the highest monthly balance (if you are able to pay it off in a relatively decent amount of time).

This can take time. It can take up to 30 to 60 days to show that you have paid on a credit card or a loan. You can try calling your credit card companies to figure out when they report to the credit companies. This can help you find out when it will be best to pull your credit when applying for a mortgage.

What About Loans that Require Zero Down?

Piggy Bank

If you do not have money saved, you may still be eligible for a zero down home loan with Riverbank Finance.  We offer great zero down programs including the USDA Mortgage and VA Loan. USDA loans only apply for rural homes and VA loans acquire you to be eligible for military benefits. Ask your loan officer if you are eligible for these options.

Keep in mind, even with zero down loans, there are costs in addition to the down payment. those trying to get a mortgage would also need funds saved up for appraisals and closing costs. To save on cash at closing, a buyer could as the seller to pay for these costs as party of the sales agreement.

Low Down Payment Mortgages

A common misconception is that you need to save 20% for your down payment. While there are benefits to applying a large down payment, most people do not have access to that large of a bundle of cash. We have several low down payment options that might be perfect for your situation!

1% Down Conventional Loan

Riverbank Finance LLC is pleased to offer the Conventional 1% Down Mortgage with Equity Boost home loan program. In this program, you can purchase a home with 3% equity, but only 1% down payment. How does that work? You, the buyer, contribute 1% and we, your lender, contribute 2% giving you a total of 3% equity at close.

FHA Loan with Down Payment Assistance

Another great low down payment options is our FHA loan with down payment assistance. With this program you will get a gift of 2% of the sales price towards your down payment. This means that you would only need 1.5% down for the required down payment.

One of the most important things is to not make budgeting and saving money seem like a chore or else it might make you want to stop trying. If you need advice on what you should do in your situation give Riverbank Finance a call and let our trusted loan officers help you find a solution to your debt issues and help you get the home that you want.

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Use Your Tax Refund As a Down Payment to Buy a Home

Saving money for a down payment can be one of the biggest challenges in buying a home. Most loan programs require some form of a down payment from the home buyer. During tax season, this may be the perfect opportunity to qualify for a new home. IRS tax refunds are eligible as a source for a down payment for home buyers. With several low down payment options available, even a small tax refund may be the key to becoming a home owner.

Do I have to wait for my tax return to get pre-approved?

No, you do not need to wait to get your refund back to go through the pre-approval process. When you call in or request loan information on Riverbank’s website, you can let your loan officer know how much money you are expecting to get back.  Your loan officer can use that as a starting point to begin your mortgage pre-approval.  You should file your taxes as soon as possible that way you can receive your refund as right away. The quickest way to receive your refund is via direct deposit. January 29th is the first day of 2018 that the IRS will accept tax returns for 2017.

Low Down Payment Home Loans

You may be able to use your tax refund as a down payment to buy a home. With our low down payment home loans, even a small refund can be enough to help you become a home owner. Low down payment home loans include the following options:

Tips to increasing your IRS Tax Refund for a Down Payment

When it comes to mortgage qualifications, assets are a crucial part in the overall financial picture. To make sure you have the best chances at being approved you should document more than enough asset in the bank, retirement or of course from your tax refund. Here are a few tips to increase your IRS tax refund.

Claim Dependents on your tax returns.

During the year you have have your employer lower or remove your dependents so they withhold more of your income for taxes. When you file you will then claim any dependents including children, spouses or those that you financially support. This will help to boost your refund at tax time.

Contribute to your retirement account to get extra tax benefits.

If your company sponsors a tax deferred retirement account such as a 401k or 403b, you may be able to participate and lower your taxable income. If you are self employed or work for a business that does not have a formal retirement plan then you may be able to contribute to a qualifying Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to reduce your income and save for retirement.

Itemize your expenses on your tax return.

If you have enough in deductions, you may be able to itemize your deductions to lower your taxable income. Many times, people claim only the standard deduction. If you have enough qualifying expenses or charitable contributions then itemizing may help boost your refund.

Things You Should Not Do With Your Tax Refund

There are some things that you shouldn’t do with your tax refund when you are considering buying a home. Doing some of these things may cause your loan to be rejected due to certain guidelines that lenders follow.

Do not move money around without documentation

You should not elect to receive your refund in the form of cash or withdraw the money from your bank account immediately. A lender does not want to finance someone they feel could be money laundering. Even if you are not money laundering, but it looks as if you are your file can be denied if you cannot document your paper trail.

Do not waste your Tax Refund on things you do not need.

Another thing that you should not do is to waste the money that you have received. Getting a large chunk of change at the beginning of the year can lead to temptations. Be sure to use this money as a way to reach your financial goals.

Your tax refund can allow you to put a down payment on your new home and will decrease the monthly payment on your home. You can also look into receiving seller’s concessions then you can have some if not all of your closing costs paid for.

Why you should use your tax refund to buy a home.

For future homeowners tax refunds can be a great source of money to use as a down payment on a home. Although the refund can be tempting to spend on things that could be considered more fun like shopping or going on a vacation it is a better idea to use it towards an investment like a home.

There are advantages to owning a home vs renting. Monthly mortgage payments can cost less than renting an apartment and unlike an apartment you can sell the home and make money off of it when you are ready to upgrade. In many areas, renting can cost significantly more than owning your own home.

To review options on how you can use your tax refund to buy a home, Call Riverbank Finance today at 800-555-2098 if you are ready to take the first step in buying a home.

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Should I Refinance My Mortgage?

There are several reason why you might benefit from refinancing your home. Many people choose to refinance to simply lower their interest rate while others have goals of doing home improvements or debt consolidation.  Depending on your financial goals, refinancing your mortgage may be a smart choice.

  • Refinance to a lower rate
  • Refinance to a shorter mortgage term
  • Cash Out Refinance
  • Refinance to Drop PMI
  • Debt Consolidation Refinance
  • Refinance a FHA loan to a Conventional Loan
  • Refinance to a Reverse Mortgage

Rate and Term Refinance Loans

A rate and term refinance loan is a mortgage refinance that allows you to change the rate and the term for your mortgage. With this loan type you typically cannot get cash back at the closing.  This the perfect loan type to reduce your interest rate or to pay off your loan more quickly.

Refinancing to a Lower Interest Rate

Refinancing your mortgage to a lower interest rate is the most common type of refinance loan.  The rule of thumb is that if you can recover the costs associated with refinancing by the monthly savings in 3-5 years or less then it may make sense to refinance your mortgage.

With mortgage rates remaining low, there is no reason to pay a high interest rate on your home loan.  Many refinance loans do not even require a home appraisal and may have little to no closing costs.

Refinancing your home loan to drop your interest rate is a no-brainer if you plan on being in your home for the next few years and the monthly savings is enough to make sense for your situation. Ask a loan officer to help determine the time to recover your costs by doing a break even analysis.

Pay Off your Mortgage Quickly by Refinancing to a Shorter Term

If retirement age is just around the corner, you may have a financial goal of paying off your mortgage in the next 15 years. If you are currently in a 30 year mortgage then you may be able to drop your interest rate by going with a 15 year loan term. With the lower interest rates of 15 year mortgages your mortgage payment may stay the same or only increase a slight amount.

The benefit of refinancing to a shorter term mortgage is that your loan would be paid off in a fraction of the time saving you a large amount in interest. You do the math. If you currently pay $1,000 per month for your mortgage but your loan is paid off, that is $12,000 more per year in your pocket! If you save 10 years of payments that adds up to $120,000 which changes your financial picture.

Use our Mortgage Amortization Calculator to estimate the total mortgage interest paid on your loan.

Cash out Refinance Loans

A cash out refinance loan is a mortgage refinance that allows a homeowner to receive cash back from the equity in their home.  Once a homeowner has owned their home for a long enough period to accumulate equity by the increased property values they may have value in their home called home equity.

How can a Homeowner Access the Equity in their Home

To access the equity a homeowner could sell their home and receive the cash proceeds after paying off any mortgages. If a home owner wants to keep their home and get access the equity they have then a cashout refinance may be the perfect fit.

Limitations for Cashout Refinance Loans

Typically cash out refinance loans are limited at 80% loan to value (LTV) for conventional loan or 85% loan to value for FHA however a military veteran can access up to 100% of their homes equity with a cash out refinance.

Debt Consolidation Refinance Loans

A debt consolidation refinance is when a homeowner uses the equity in their home to pay off other debts by refinancing the balance into their mortgage.  This type of mortgage can be used to pay off high interest rate credit cards, personal loans, auto loans or even student loans.  Others may use a debt consolidation refinance loan to pay off IRS tax debt or liens against their property.

The benefit of a debt consolidation refinance would be to lower the overall interest rate and monthly payments of a homeowners debts.  For example if they currently  $1,000 for their mortgage, $300 per month for a credit card and $500 per month for their car loan, they may be able to consolidate their debts into a mortgage and have a payment of $1250 per month. In this example they would bring their monthly payments down from $1,800 per month to $1250 per month for an overall savings of $550 per month. This savings adds up to $6,600 per year!

Refinancing to Remove Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

Many homeowners refinance their mortgage to drop PMI, or Private Mortgage Insurance, from their payments. This can be done if you have 80% equity in your home.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is basically foreclosure insurance that protects your mortgage company in case you do not make your payments. There is not benefit to you as a homeowner having PMI other than it may allow you to initially purchase without a large down payment.

Refinancing from an FHA loan to a Conventional Mortgage

If you currently have an FHA loan then you most likely pay mortgage insurance. FHA requires mortgage insurance even if you were to purchase and place a 20% down payment. With current FHA guidelines, the mortgage insurance never drops off for most FHA loans. For this reason, it may make sense to refinance from a FHA loan to a Conventional Mortgage with no PMI.

Use our Conventional Mortgage Calculator to estimate your new mortgage payment.

How to Drop PMI from your Mortgage

You may need to pay for an appraisal to document your home’s new value as part of the refinance process.  For example, if your home appraises at $100,000 and you only ow $80,000 then you would have $20,000 in home equity which equals 20%.  By refinancing your mortgage with a conventional home loan you would not have PMI on your new mortgage.

Benefits of Dropping PMI from your Mortgage

Dropping PMI could save you hundreds of dollars off your monthly mortgage payments. If you have been aggressively paying down your mortgage balance or if you believe homes in your area have jumped up significantly in value, then speak with a loan officer and review options to refinance and drop PMI from your mortgage.

Other Reasons to Refinance your Mortgage

There are several reasons to refinance your mortgage as shown above. Others may have additional reasons to refinance such as removing a co-signer, changing your loan servicer that has poor customer service, paying down the principal and refinancing to drop the monthly payments, refinancing to a Reverse Mortgage etc. The list goes on!

To review all the benefits of mortgage refinance programs we suggest that you speak with a licensed loan officer. They will help to determine your financial goals and provide information on refinance options to accomplish your goals. Riverbank Loan officers are standing by to help at 800-555-2098 or you may request information by completing the short form below.

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