Tag: freddie mac

Will changes to HARP hurt or help mortgage seekers?

If you’re seeking to refinance after October 1, 2017, you should know there are some changes coming from Freddie Mac regarding HARP. HARP, or the Home Affordable Refinance Program, is in the waning years of its existence, which is a good thing. How Freddie Mac is changing, in relation to HARP, could be a benefit to those seeking to refinance.

History of HARP

Back during the 2008 Housing Crisis, there was an overabundance of homes that were going under and being repossessed. One reason was because homeowners, who had a home with a LTV (Loan to Value) of over 80%, couldn’t refinance.  Because they still owed 80% or more of the loan, no lender would allow them to refinance. So they were stuck paying a big loan with huge interest rates.

Enter HARP. Harp allowed these homeowners a chance, through Freddie Mac, to refinance their loan and get a lower interest rate with more affordable payments. This allowed homeowners who were in over their heads with their mortgage a solution that didn’t cost their home.

Why the Change?

HARP was never created with the intention of staying around forever.  In fact, one requirement of HARP was that the loan had to be older than 2009 for the homeowner to qualify. Since then, the number of applicants has dwindled, as there are fewer mortgages from before that period in need of HARP.

The good news is both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are starting new programs to help homeowners who are underwater with their mortgages. No program existed before 2008. Since then, the government has seen the value in allowing more homeowners options to keep their homes.

Freddie Mac is replacing HARP with what is being called the Relief Refinance Mortgage. One key difference is that there is no requirement that the loan must originate before 2009. So if the loan is more recent, a homeowner can take advantage.

Do you Qualify?

Homeowners could qualify for a Relief Refinance Mortgage if they meet the following requirements:

  • The mortgage must be at least 15 months old.
  • The borrower should not have any delinquent payments in the past six months.
  • They can only have one delinquent payment in the past year.

 

Keep in mind, those three requirements aren’t the only ones, but they are the biggest obstacles to qualifying for the Relief Refinance Mortgage, according to Freddie Mac. Homeowners who do meet those qualifications can contact a Riverbank Finance Loan Officer (1-800-555-2098) for more information about getting relief in the form of a refinanced mortgage.

 

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!

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

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How to Get Rid of Mortgage Insurance

How to Get Rid of Mortgage Insurance

So you want to break up with your monthly mortgage insurance—we don’t blame you! When you purchased your home, there’s a good chance you didn’t have 20% to put down, right? Mortgage insurance is a great option, in that it allows buyers to increase their purchasing power, but comes with an unfortunate side effect of additional monthly fees.

Every situation is different, so it is important to understand your loan, to determine your options for dropping your mortgage insurance. Below are the greatest factors affecting your ability to say “Sayonara” to your mortgage insurance (MI).

• Type of mortgage insurance you’re paying
• Which lender holds your loan
• Age of your loan (time since closing)
• Your loan-to-value ratio (LTV)
• The property type
• Whether or not your property value has increased

Types of Mortgage Insurance

If you’re paying a monthly fee on a conventional loan, it is called private mortgage insurance (PMI). If you paid an upfront fee at close and a monthly fee on an FHA loan, it is called a mortgage insurance premium (MIP).

Who Owns Your Loan?

If you have a Conventional loan, is it Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac? This is important because they have different rules for when MI can be removed. If you have an FHA loan, you will need to know its age and the percentage of down payment you gave at close.

What is Your LTV?

The Loan-to-Value ratio is essentially the financed amount divided by your home’s value, expressed as a percentage. Let’s say for example that you purchased your home for $200,000 with 10% down ($20,000). You financed $180,000 of the $200,000 purchase price, which gives you a loan-to-value ratio of 90%. Your LTV will decrease as you make payments, as well as when your property value increases.

Has Your Property Increased in Value?

If you’ve made considerable improvements to your home, it has probably gone up in value! You’ll need to order a new appraisal to confirm the updated value, which generally costs between $400-$600 out of pocket.

Related: Refinance Your Home Without an Appraisal

Canceling MIP on your FHA Loan

If you closed on your loan on or after June 3, 2013 and you put less than 10% down, MIP can never be removed. With a down payment of 10% or more, you’re still required to pay MIP for a minimum of 11 years. If your loan closed before that date, your MIP will be automatically cancelled when your LTV reaches 78%, but only after you’ve paid the MIP for a minimum of 5 years, and only if you have not had any late payments in the last year. In most cases, the only way to stop paying MIP on an FHA loan is to refinance your mortgage.

Canceling PMI on your Conventional Loan

Ditching the PMI on a conventional loan is easier and more flexible than on an FHA loan. Your MI will be cancelled automatically as soon as your LTV reaches 78% OR when you reach the midpoint of your mortgage (15 years into a 30 year mortgage). Again, you must be current on your payments for the cancellation to occur.

If you pay close attention to your mortgage statements and are anxious to kick your MI to the curb, you can request cancellation once your LTV reaches 80%. It is also important to note that while Fannie Mae allows homeowners to make extra payments to get to 80% LTV faster, Freddie Mac does not.

As mentioned above, if you’ve made considerable improvements to your property, you may be able to remove PMI much sooner. You’ll need to order a new appraisal to document all improvements, but as long as your LTV is below 75% or less (for Fannie Mae) or 80% (for Freddie Mac), your PMI will be removed!

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.

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Conforming Loan Limits Increased

As home prices across the country continue to rise, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) have announced increases in conforming loan limits for 2017.

For the first time since 2006, the FHFA has increased the maximum loan limit for conventional loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from $417,000 to $424,100.

Related: 2019 Conventional Loan Limits in Michigan

Conventional Loan Limits Increased

Conforming loan limits for Fannie and Freddie are determined by the Housing & Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which requires that after a period of declining home prices, the baseline loan limit may not rise until home prices return to pre-decline levels. Until this year, average home prices remained below the level of those in the third quarter of 2007—considered the pre-decline price level—so the baseline remained the same. According to the FHFA, the Home Price Index (HPI) value for the third quarter of 2016 was approximately 1.7% above the value for the third quarter of 2007, meaning the baseline loan limit will increase as such.

Related: More about Conventional Mortgage Loan Limits and FHA Mortgage Loan Limits

FHA Loan Limits Increased

Less than a week later, the FHA announced a similar loan limit increase for a whopping 2,948 U.S. counties in 2017. Only 286 counties will remain at 2016 levels. Here in Michigan, the FHA conforming loan limit will rise from $271,050 to $275,665. It will apply to cases assigned on or after January 1st, 2017.

These loan limit increases may seem marginal, but point to a better future. The FHFA and FHA recognize that home values across the nation have recovered, and have responded with an opportunity for homebuyers to increase their buying power.

Some financial institutions have speculated that this 1.7%, $10,000 increase to the conventional loan limit could lead to 40,000 additional originations with $20 billion in loan balances across the country.

Related: One Percent Down Conventional Loan

2017 Loan Limit Summary

  • FHA Conforming Loan Limit $275,665
  • Conventional Conforming Loan Limit $424,100
  • USDA Conforming Loan Limit $424,100
  • VA Conforming Loan Limit $424,100 with zero down payment

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!

Top 9 HARP Refinance Myths for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Home Loans

Harp mortgage refinance program.With over 2.9 million homeowners refinancing with the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), there are still many people that are not taking advantage by refinancing their homes. There is a variety of reasons in which these homeowners are choosing not to drop their home loan rates with a mortgage refinance. Many of these reasons are simply myths or assumptions that are made based on their prior knowledge of the refinance process. Tracy Mooney, Vice president of Single-Family Servicing and Real Estate Owned (REO), has taken the time to publish an article debunking these top HARP Myths.

HARP Myth 1: I’ve had my loan for many years, and with HARP I’d have to start all over again with a 30-year mortgage.

Answer:  This is incorrect. Borrowers that have had a conventional loan for several years are able to do a HARP refinance and shorten their term. Many borrowers choose to go with a 15 year or 20 year loan and reduce their interest rates while taking several years off their mortgage. A borrower may be able to accomplish this and keep their payment the same as their current 30 year mortgage.

HARP Myth 2: I’m receiving too many solicitations to help me refinance. They must be scams.

Answer: There are several mortgage companies and banks that offer HARP refinancing so these offers may all be legitimate. It is important to note, however, that not all banks and mortgage companies are equal. Most lenders have overlays on top of HARP Eligibility Requirements that prevent them from doing the refinance loan. If you have tried one company and been turned down, it is recommended that you check with another company that may offer programs such as unlimited LTV loans, lower minimum credit scores and both Fannie Mae HARP mortgages and Freddie Mac HARP Mortgages.

HARP Myth 3: I am really underwater on my mortgage. HARP can’t be for homeowners like me.

Answer: HARP has been updated several times since its inception in 2009. Currently both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans allow for unlimited Loan-to-Value (LTV) refinancing. As noted previously, most banks and lenders have overlays and limits for their LTV. It is important to find a mortgage lender that offers higher level LTV refinances for homeowners severely underwater on their home loan.

HARP Myth 4: I recently lost my job, so no one is going to help me refinance through HARP.

Answer: If you have recently lost your job you may still be able to get a lower rate with HARP. Your current mortgage servicer may allow for a HARP Refinance without income in some situations but most lenders will allow you to income qualify using a co-borrower. One of the original borrowers must remain on the loan to qualify. The combined income is what will be used to calculate the Debt-to-Income (DTI). Alternatively, if you have available funds equal to at least 12 months of principal, interest, taxes, and insurance, then you may be eligible without proving income.

HARP Myth 5: My lender doesn’t offer HARP, so I can’t refinance through the program.

Answer: Yes; you may be eligible to refinance through any other mortgage company that offer the HARP Mortgage Program.

HARP Myth 6: My lender doesn’t offer HARP, so I can’t refinance through the program.

Answer: Yes; you may be eligible to refinance through any other mortgage company that offer the HARP Mortgage Program.

HARP Myth 7: I have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), so I am not eligible.

Answer: HARP was created to offer more stable and sustainable mortgage options for homeowners in your very situation. Speak with your loan officer about fixed rate mortgage loans to have long term stability in your payments. Alternatively, you may utilize HARP to extend your adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) for an additional 5 or 7 years at lower rates.

HARP Myth 8: I don’t have enough cash to pay closing costs, so I can’t refinance through HARP.

Answer: Event with a HARP refinance, you may be able to refinance with little or no money out of pocket.  For many homeowners, you may be able to roll any closing costs and pre-paid items such as taxes and insurance into your new mortgage. Some lender may also offer options to credit back money to help cover the expenses of closing costs so you truly have a no cost mortgage. Be sure to speak with your loan officer to review what loan options you are eligible for through HARP.

HARP Myth 9: HARP is only for homeowners who are behind on their payments and in danger of foreclosure.

Answer: The Making Home Affordable program offered two home loan solutions for borrowers that were at high interest rates and were previously unable to refinance. The Home Affordable Modification Program allows homeowners that were behind on their loan payments to apply for a modification of their current terms to allow them to save on their payments. This is commonly confused with the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) which is for clients whom have paid their payments on time and would qualify for a conventional refinance if they did not owe more than their house was worth. The HARP program is for borrowers with good credit that simply want to lower their interest rate and payments.

For more information on the HARP refinance program call a licensed loan officer at Riverbank at 800-555-2098 or request information below:

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HARP Refinancing Beat 2012 Estimates

HARP refinance chart

HARP refinance chart courtesy of Housingwire.com

HARP refinancing beat 2012 estimates with nearly 1.1 million loans closed last year.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac released a report for the Federal Housing Finance Agency confirming last year totaled nearly half of the 2.2 million loans completed since the HARP program was announced in 2009.The majority of homes were primary residences with 1.89 million while 69,522 others reduce their payments on second homes and 199,672 dropped their rates on investment properties.The states with the most HARP refinance loans since 2009 were California with 301,327 refinances, Florida with 175,686, Illinois with 147,252, and Michigan HARP Refinance loans rounding up the top HARP states with 144,709 loans completed.

Underwater mortgages can benefit through the HARP program to reduce their mortgage rates and terms by completing a refinance. Most borrower do not need an appraisal even if it is concluded that they owe significantly more than their home is worth.  Some lender add overlays limiting the loan to value ratio at 125% while other allow Unlimited LTV HARP Refinancing.  This means that even if your house is valued at $100,000 and you currently owe $200,000 (200% LTV) you would still be able to qualify if you are working with the right lender.

 

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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