Bidding on Your First Home

Placing a Bid on a HomeWe recently covered the importance of selecting a real estate agent and becoming pre-approved for a loan.  The next step is to place a bid on the house you’d like to call “home.”  There are some things you need to first consider before making a bid, as you want to be sure you make an appropriate bid on the house.

Up first are your rights as a homebuyer.  One great benefit you have as the buyer is the right to have an inspector investigate the house.  By doing so, you’ll be able to establish a proper, initial bid.  Now yes hiring in your own home inspector will be additional fee but doing so could potentially help you save a pretty penny when making your bid.  You should also know that virtually everything is negotiable when buying a home.  Things like the closing costs and even appliances can be discussed to help save you even more money.

The next step is to sit down with a real estate agent and do your homework.  Meaning you need to consider the value of the area in your initial bid as you could end up with a great home.  If it’s located in a bad area or even a bad school district, you could easily end up bidding far more than necessary.  Luckily, this is where the real estate agent comes in to help take off a lot of pressure off your shoulders.  Part of their job is to research the area and provide you with all of the necessary information.

When making the initial offer be sure to consider additional items; would you like the owners to pay for the closing costs?  How about any home repairs needed?  Like a broken garage door or maybe the furnace needs to be replaced.  All things should be considered as your end goal is to save as much as possible on your potential new home.

Be sure to give your self some breathing room when making that first bid as well.  You don’t want to max out your price range right away, as the owners are likely to counter offer with a higher bidding point because they want to make money too.  Lastly you need to be patient.  Playing the waiting game is a big part of bidding on homes.  Unless a deadline is specified for the homeowners to come to a decision, they have virtually all the time in the world.  So if you have to wait a few business days, then so be it.  During that time it would be wise to maybe browse a couple other homes just in case a deal cannot be made.

With all things considered, bidding on a house can be a pretty big step so if Riverbank Finance could help you in anyway.  Be sure to let us know.  Need a recommendation regarding an inspector?  How about pre-qualification for a mortgage?  We can help with that and then some so give us a call at 1-800-555-2098 or fill out the email form below.

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Obama’s NEW Mortgage Program

New Refinance ProgramDuring his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama announced a new refinance program, which would help “responsible” borrowers finding themselves in “underwater” situations to refinance their mortgages.  This could greatly benefit millions of homeowners, that is, as long as Congress allows the plan to pass on through, however at this point is up in the air.

The plan will go through the government’s mortgage insurer, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  Now of course this plan comes at a price, one that some may oppose in Congress.  It’s estimated to ring in anywhere between $5 billion and $10 billion.  Who or what would be responsible for covering these expenses though?  Well that would be a tax on the heads of major lenders.  Definitely something that will likely upset Congress.

There’s another problem that could rise from this program.  That is the FHA itself.  The Federal Housing Administration has had somewhat of a “rocky” past and people are claiming they don’t need to take any more risks as it is.  Another potential issue with the FHA is that some consider them to be in an “underwater” situation of their own.  They guarantee about $1 trillion in American mortgages but yet they only have $1.2 billion in cushion.

Officials have stated in regards to the above concerns that a separate fund could be completed for these loans.  It wouldn’t be considered a part of the Mutual Mortgage Insurance (MMI) fund.  This custom fund would be built to handle potentially high losses.

This plan could help a major amount of homeowners, about 3 million, on top of the 11 million homeowners that already qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).  Obama’s plan faces a rough road before it can become a reality.  At this point it lies in the hands of Congress if it is to progress.  After Congress, borrowers and lenders must then come to a complete agreement on the requirements.  After all that is said and done, there is potential this could shake up Wall Street because hundreds of thousands of loans could then be paid off earlier than their term which is a fact that that bondholders surely don’t want to hear.

The outline of President Obama’s plan has been announced now it is a waiting game to see how it unfolds.  Stay up to date on this plan by checking back with this blog or even by asking questions regarding the program. Feel free to call 1-800-555-2098 or even fill out the email form below with questions on your scenario to see if you qualify for HARP mortgage.

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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Loan Lookup Tool

Lookup Owner of Your Home LoanThe Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) is a great opportunity for those homeowners who have found themselves in a sticky situation.  Anyone who is in an “underwater” situation with their mortgage, HARP was developed to solely help those people.  With extremely “relaxed” guidelines, it’s possible for the majority of homeowners to take full advantage of a program that could help potentially retool their lives by relieving the mass amount of stress being “underwater” brings along.  Before anyone can take advantage of the program, they must meet the standing guidelines.  Though they may be easy to meet, people should still be aware of the biggest guideline in place.  That they’re mortgage loan must be owned or guaranteed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

How can you determine what company may own your loan though?  There’s actually a fairly simple way to search Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac databases to know if you meet the HARP guideline.  First up, we will check with the Fannie Mae databases.  First you need to head on over to their loan lookup tool, which will open in another window/tab.  From that point on, just follow the on screen information and enter the data required.  Once that is done, a message will come back either possibly confirming or denying the loan’s status on that property.  Now with Fannie Mae, they don’t guarantee the information is full proof meaning you may have to go to other measures they suggest in order to confirm the status of the loan.

The process with Freddie Mac is a bit more intensive but will lead you to a potential answer that you’re looking for.  Click on over to their loan lookup tool and again, just follow the on screen criteria.  Once you have entered all the necessary information, you’ll then know if you can qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program.

One last piece of criteria you need to be sure of is the sale date of your mortgage loan.  The HARP guidelines state; if your loan was sold to either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac on, or anytime, after June 1, 2009.  You cannot take advantage of the program.

Now of course there are other guidelines for HARP so be sure to review that information.  If you would like to receive some help regarding the HARP program; either call us at 1-800-555-2098 or fill out the email form below.

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National Housing Market Status

Current Status of the Housing MarketHome many times have you heard on the news or read in the paper of the past five years how the housing market is struggling?  How many times have you joked with friends and family about the market when inside you’ve though how dark of a time the market is in?  Now yes, the housing market has definitely seen brighter days in the past.  There are those who have said the markets will never recover to the point they were once at before.  If the history of the housing market is any indication though, things will not only return too normal but they’ll surpass the previous high-points.

A company named CoreLogic conducts a thorough market search to give an idea of what the housing market will look-like in the near future.  Their most recent report, released Wednesday, January 25th.  The report states that 2012 will be the beginning of a turnaround for the market.  It’s estimated that home sales will improve 2-to-5 percent, year-over-year.  Now yes these aren’t massive changes in numbers but it’s definitely positive news that we haven’t seen/heard in a long time.

What made this happen though?  What’s making the housing market re-heal essentially?  Well in a nutshell, it was the struggling economy that has begun to reshape the housing market.  Really this all started with low prices for random everyday goods.  The economy crashes, which causes people to hold onto their money.  When people hold onto their money, prices drop because companies aren’t making sales.  Prices eventually fall so-low that people slowly begin spending again.  With this extra spending, and in-large part due to the record setting Holiday Season we had, people began gaining confidence.  That is, confidence in the economy.  As more money s fed back into the economy we see all markets begin to improve.  Which means the housing market will begin to improve as well.  With people now back in “spending” moods, we’ll see many take advantage of extremely low home-prices and mortgage rates.

It’s weird how things work though isn’t it?  We start with a moment many economists believed we would encounter a greater hardship than we did in the Great Depression.  So because of these types of statements, it put fear into many American hearts.  Now flash-forward barely one-year and were seeing things begin to improve.  We live in a strange-strange world, which can be quite daunting at times especially when you’re attempting to enter the housing market for the first or even third time.  So if you’re one of the people planning on venturing into the housing market, you should first contact us to be your guide in a sense to get things started.  We’re available by phone at 1-800-555-2098 or you can fill out the email form below.

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Pre-Approval Process to Buy a Home in Michigan

Pre-Approval for Michigan HomesPreviously we went over the process of picking the proper real-estate agent for your home hunting needs so the next step is to determine the best mortgage program.  Most people do not have thousands of dollars in savings to buy a home with cash so a mortgage will be necessary.  A statistic from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is that 9-of-10 homebuyers purchase homes through a loan program so it is important to know what loans are available.

First we should probably explain what the term “pre-approval” means.  The process begins with you meeting a loan officer, which can help you determine what type of home you can afford.  It then continues onto a review of your credit files to ensure they are in good standing.  The loan officer will then determine which specific mortgage program is best for you.  From there you’ll receive a pre-approval certificate stating your maximum borrowing potential. Riverbank Finance loan officer will assist you in shopping interest rates and closing costs with several banks at the same time.

Most people can get a loan, as long as they’re willing to pay high interest.  The key to connect yourself with a good mortgage company that can find a loan for your current situation that has the best terms and lowest cost.  This is where Riverbank Finance comes into play as we specialize in helping you determine the best possible loan options available.

If you are a first-time homebuyer or even a repeat homebuyer they you will need help with a pre-approval.  We can go through the process with you and answer any potential questions you may have about the pre-approval process.  Just fill out the email contact form below to get started.  You can also call us at 1-800-555-2098 and a loan officer will be in direct contact with you from the start of your loan to the closing.

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Fed Rates to be Low Until 2014

Fed says rates stay low until 2014The feds have just announced that they will be keeping the Federal Reserve rates low until 2014.  In the past they announced that rates would remain low until the middle of 2013, which helped the market confidence and ensures recovery.  The recovery has been present however it has not been as “booming” as economic analysts were hoping.

As with everything that relates to the economy, there is always some sort of backlash.  Unfortunately, it’s not always good backlash either but this was one of the rare instances where the markets reacted in a positive way.  Once the announcement was made, the Dow rose near 200-points by 11AM after markets opened.  There are economists warning of this only being a “temporary” solution to our problems though.  Much like a band-aid, we may be covering up the wound for now and allowing it to slightly heal but more attention will be required to fully-heal in the near future.

There is also the looming possibility that the Fed could potentially raise interest rates sooner if the economy heads within the right direction.  The following are words from a senior economist regarding the Fed’s announcement,

“It’s not a vow or a commitment.  If the outlook changes on the unemployment or inflation, the Fed reserves the right to change its mind.”

So it would be ill advised to count on these low rates to remain intact until the point the Federal Reserve stated.  As the current economic situation stands, we are slowly improving and it seems we will continue to improve in just about every key-aspect so the chances of the Fed’s switching their stance on lower rates has potential.

This announcement from the Fed’s came after their annual voting-member shuffle.  With the changes made to the members in-tact, we are introduced to four new members; John Williams of San Francisco, Dennis Lockheart of Atlanta, Sandra Pianalto of Cleveland and Jeffrey Lacker of Richmond.  Besides this shuffle amongst the members, the first Fed meeting of this year is a noteworthy situation as this will be the very first time they release economic forecasts.  These forecasts are meant to predict where the federal funds rate will be over the next coming years.

Low Fed rates are excellent for mortgage rates for in 2012.  Although the Fed rates are not directly connected with mortgage rates, if banks can borrow money from the feds for less, then they can offer mortgages for less as well.  The confirmation that fed rates will be low until mid-2014, mortgage rates should maintain lower levels for the foreseeable future.

If you are interested in refinancing or buying a home, this might have helped to buy you some time. Do not make the mistake of thinking rates are going to be low forever.  Our advice would be to lock in your mortgage rate as soon as you are able.  You have more to lose by not locking in your mortgage rate immediately than you do by waiting for even low rates.   For more information on current mortgage rates call Riverbank Finance at 1-800-555-2098 or submit a request for information below.

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Home Affordable Refinance Program Updating March 2012We’ve lightly discussed the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) on this blog in the recent past.  To freshen up your mind, HARP was instated to allow for those homeowners who are currently “underwater” to potentially refinance and get themselves into stress-free position regarding their mortgage rates.  HARP is beneficial to countless homeowners but that number of people eligible is about to skyrocket.

The U.S. Federal Government seems to have taken notice of the importance of this program.  Rules for eligibility of HARP will become far easier to meet than ever before once March 2012 roles around.  Potentially the biggest change to the rules of the program is the LTV cap.  Previously that cap was at 125% but once HARP is updated in March, that cap will be lifted.  Meaning, there will no longer be an LTV cap so those of you homeowners who previously had not qualified due to LTV.  Well that issue will now be non-existent.

Not everyone is out of the woods just yet though when it comes to qualifying.  There are some other things to take into account when determining if you actually qualify or not for HARP.  To start, we will need to check if your loan for the property is either guaranteed or owned by one of the two-following companies. Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  There are a couple useful tools you can use to determine this.  Go to Freddie’s tool and Fannie’s tool to determine which of the two your loan could potentially run through.  If you wish to determine this over the phone, call 1-800-FREDDIE (Freddie Mac) or 1-800-7FANNIE (Fannie Mae).

One other tidbit of information you should be aware of is the date your loan was potentially sold to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.  Due to the HARP guidelines, any loan sold on or after June 1, 2009 to one of the two companies, is not eligible for the program.

We here at Riverbank Finance can help with any of your questions regarding the HARP program. Call us at: 1-800-555-2098.  If you wish to be contacted via email, just fill out the form below.

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How to Find the Best Real Estate Agent in Michigan

Find the best Real Estate Agent in MichiganWhen you’re out on the hunt for a new home it’s very likely you’ll encounter situations that could be best assessed with a professional real estate agent.  As a buyer, you have full-access to an agent at no cost to you.  For those of you who don’t know, the seller of the home pays real-estate agents commission once the sale is made.  How things work in today’s market is the listing agent, the one who listed the home on the market, generally receives half of the commission.  The remaining commission is transferred to the agent that YOU hired for your home-hunting needs.  So why stress yourself even more when you could use an agent free-of-charge?

Agents will help you in countless ways with the expertise they bring to the table.  They’ll be sure to note your “likes” and “dislikes” of certain homes and what things you consider “essential” for the ultimate home you decide to select.  Agents aren’t limited to note-taking of course.  A good agent can give you a plethora of information about the house; surrounding neighborhood, school system, the home’s best features and so on.

Besides being your own personal assistant, your agent will also take the position as a personal financial advisor when it comes to placing an offer on a home.  Agents negotiate on your behalf thus saving you even more time.  They’ll go over what a “proper” offer would be that could potentially save you thousands.  Not to mention all other variables that come into account when selecting a home like expenses for appliances.

There are countless agents out there and every-single one of them is chomping at the bit to help anyone they can in today’s current housing market.  With so many options how can you be sure you’re selecting the correct agent?  That’s something we here at Riverbank Finance can help you out with!  Give us a call at 1-800-555-2098 or fill out the contact form below to be contacted via email and we will help you choose the best real estate agent in Michigan.

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Finding the Right Home for You

Finding the Right Home for Your and Your family.In the last article of our series for homebuyers we went over how to establish an actual dollar amount of what type of home you can not only afford, but will fit into your monthly budget.  This is possibly the most difficult part for first-time homebuyers though.  Attempting to select one home out a list of hundreds to even thousands of homes found in your local area can be extremely difficult.  How do you select the right one?  Is it a big enough property to meet your needs?  How badly do you want an attached garage?  As well, how safe is the neighborhood and the surrounding area?  Now I wish we could easily answer all of these questions that come up when selecting a home.  Everyone has his or her own sense of taste though.   What we can do though is supply you with the tools to accurately narrow down your home selection.

We operate directly out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.  So let’s begin with a website local Michiganders can benefit from.  A great website to begin your search with is that belonging to the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors.  The site allows for local realtors to post their listings on the site along with their scheduled open houses.  Many first-time buyers are looking to establish a family, which is why the site is great for selecting a home within specific school districts.

If you’re looking for a general idea of the home listings available in a given area, we have a great home search tool right here on our site that can help you quickly search the entire area for known listings.

Maybe you’re looking to go the route of foreclosed homes?  A great recommendation would be HUD Homes, which will give you a listing of all government owned properties currently available on the market.

Many of the home-based loans people have acquired are generally run through Fannie Mae.  So you also have the option to head on over to their HomePath website which will give you a complete listing of the homes Fannie Mae currently has in their possession.

Whatever type of home you are looking for there are tons of resources online that you can use to do your home buying research.  Before you start it would be a good idea to write two lists.  One list would include the home factors that you NEED and the other list would have home features that you WANT but could live without.  Compare each home that you find online to your list to see if it is the right home for you.

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Affordable mortgage refinance through HARP

Elibility tips for HARPIn conventional mortgage refinance, you should have substantial equity in your home, in order to become eligible for mortgage refinance, but the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has been aimed at helping the homeowners to refinance their mortgages even if their outstanding balance is more than the current market price of their home. This particular program came into effect especially after the sub prime mortgage crisis in the country.

The primary motive behind this special mortgage refinance brings the borrowers in a relatively better position by lowering down the principal amount and as well as the interest payment, reducing the amortization period or to switch from a comparatively risky loan structure to a more stable product. If you want to apply for HARP, you can contact any mortgage lender that offers the Fannie Mae DU Refi Plus or Freddie Mac Open Access, however, not all the mortgage lenders participate in HARP. You can also contact Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae directly, if you want to know whether or not you are eligible for HARP.

This refinance program was introduced in 2009 and the program will continue till 31st December, 2013. These mortgages are backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. You need to fulfill certain criteria in order to become eligible to obtain this mortgage refinance facility. These eligibility criteria are listed below.

  • First of all, you must reside in a home that is being refinanced.
  • In order to become eligible for HARP facility, your original mortgage must be backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.
  • Most importantly, terms and conditions should be such that new mortgage is very much affordable to the borrowers.
  • To be eligible for this program, you the borrower, should not default in making payments in the last one year.
  • The loan to value ratio must be more than 80%.

While applying for HARP, you must follow certain tips. These tips are listed below.

  • First of all, you need to determine whether or not your mortgage is backed by either Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. This is the basic criteria to become eligible for HARP.
  • It is recommended that if you want to get such mortgage refinance, you can contact your original mortgage lender. If your lender is approved by HARP, then you can opt for mortgage refinance. Otherwise, you need to contact Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae to see whether or not you are eligible for HARP.
  • Finally, you need to compare different mortgage rates so as to make the final decision.

You can also obtain valuable information on HARP by researching the home affordable mortgage.

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