Tag: michigan mortgage

What to do when you’re facing foreclosure

If you’re facing foreclosure, you’re not alone. According to RealtyTrac, 1 in every 3,426 homes in Michigan are being foreclosed in 2017. Muskegon is the worst county for foreclosures in the state, with every 1 in 1,063 homes being foreclosed. What should you do when you’re facing foreclosure?

Communicate with your lender

Your first instinct may be to avoid your lender. But honestly, the best thing you can do is contact them and find out about your options. We at Riverbank don’t want to see you default on your mortgage. If you’re in danger of facing foreclosure, contact us right away to set up an appointment with one of our professional loan officers. We can help evaluate your situation and figure out the best solution for you, as long as you’re committed to saving your home.

Know your rights

Make sure you understand your rights as a homeowner, and what your lender can and can’t do if you default on your mortgage, by reading through your loan documents. Contact the Michigan State Housing Development Authority toll-free at (855) MI-MSHDA  (1-855-646-7432) to find out about foreclosure laws in your area.

Be money-wise

If you’re in danger of falling behind in your mortgage payments, reevaluate your budget. Besides your own health, keeping the roof over your head should be the highest priority. Is there anything in your budget you can cut or reduce, such as cable TV or other entertainment expenses? Can you call your student loan company to find out whether you can delay payments due to hardship? Can you pay the bare minimum on credit card debt until you’re all caught up with your mortgage?

If you have an extra car you’re not using that often, you could sell it to make some extra money to pay toward your mortgage. Could you or someone in your family take an extra job temporarily? Even if you don’t make enough to catch up with your mortgage payments, at least your efforts will show the lender you are serious about saving your home.

Get foreclosure assistance

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends that you get assistance as soon as possible. Whether you’re in danger of missing a mortgage payment or have already missed several, make sure you are regularly communicating with your lender. Help is available. Contact a HUD-approved housing counselor to discuss your options by calling toll-free, (800) 569-4287. There are federal government programs that can help you prevent foreclosure.

The state of Michigan also has a program called Step Forward, which was created in 2010 to help those who are in danger of foreclosure. Since its inception, Step Forward has given more than $307 million to 34,567 homeowners in the state of Michigan, according to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. The program still has $40 million available to struggling homeowners until it expires in 2020, MLive.com recently reported.

The way the program works is that homeowners can get a five-year, zero-interest loan of up to $20,000 in the form of a lien against their property in order to help pay back debts. To be eligible, you must have less than $10,000 in savings and prove that you can pay all of your future mortgage payments, condo or homeowners association fees, and taxes. To find out whether you qualify for Step Forward assistance, go to stepforwardmichigan.org or call (866) 946-7432.

Be sure to contact us right away at Riverbank Finance at 800-555-2098 if you think you might have to miss a mortgage payment. Our professional loan officers can help you evaluate your options.

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Use Your Tax Refund as a Down Payment on a Home

Use Your Tax Refund as a Down Payment on a Home

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

How Can my Tax Refund Help me Purchase a Home?

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

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

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

Mortgage Programs with Low to No Down Payment

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

Related: Purchase a home with zero down payment 

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

What if my refund isn’t enough?

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

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

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Housing Inventory Reaches 18-Year Low

Housing Inventory Reaches 18-Year Low

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

Housing Inventory in West Michigan

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

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

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

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

How do Renovation Loans work?

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

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

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7 Mortgage Myths Debunked

7 Mortgage Myths Debunked

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

1. Having my credit pulled will drop my credit score

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

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

2. Credit Karma says my score is…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Owning is more expensive than renting

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

7. My bank will give me the best deal

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

Get More Information

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

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Millennials, Mortgages and Homeownership

Millennials, Mortgages & Homeownership

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

Don’t Wait Forever

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

Stop Renting

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

Don’t Assume the Answer is No

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

Get Pre-Qualified

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

Hire a Buyer’s Agent

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

Do Not Give Up

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

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

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

Get More Information

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

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Five Reasons to Buy a Home in the Winter

5 Reasons to Buy a Home in the Winter

Baby, its cold outside—and its only going to get colder. Before you put your home search on hold for the next four months, check out these benefits of buying a home in the winter!

1. Less Competition

During the winter months, there are less buyers shopping, and therefore less offers to compete with. While other buyers are traveling for the holidays, tying up year-end projects at work, or bundling up at home, you’ll get the jump on the next hot new listing. There’s also less of a chance you’ll get caught up in a bidding war, keeping your purchase price low.

2. See the Home at its Worst

During the warmer months, it may be more difficult to inspect certain essentials like HVAC and windows. You’ll get a better idea of how a house holds up when the weather is at its worst. Is the basement dry? Are the windows drafty? Are there frozen pipes? How often does the furnace run? These questions provide you the unique opportunity to see how a home tolerates Michigan’s worst weather.

Related: Include Renovation Costs in your Mortgage

3. Sellers are Motivated

Just as buyers are less likely to begin their house hunt in the winter, sellers are less likely to put their home on the market during the winter months. This means winter sellers fit into one of two categories: they’re trying to sell a property that didn’t sell during the peak real estate season, or they’re eager to sell quickly and didn’t care to wait until the Spring. Either way, winter sellers are more likely to negotiate terms such as closing costs, possession time, and most importantly— the sales price.

4. Get the VIP Treatment

Now, let me preface this by saying that any Realtor worth their weight will work hard for you no matter what time of year it is—but the truth is you’ll be receiving responses to your emails much faster in the winter months than you will come April. They’ll be juggling fewer clients in the cold and snow, and have more time on their hands to focus on finding you your dream home.

5. Get Settled Before Spring

I don’t know about you, but my spring and summers are busy. After a long Michigan winter cooped up inside, the last thing I want to do is waste my warm sunny weekends moving, unpacking, painting, or remodeling. Buying a home during the winter months allows you to finish off those first few projects before vacations, weddings, festivals and trips to the beach fill up your weekends.

So there you have it! Don’t let the impending frigid temperatures keep you from finding your dream home this winter. A true Michigander wouldn’t be scared off by a little snow, would they?

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.

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

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Who has the Best Fall Donuts in West Michigan?

Cider & Donut Season in West Michigan

Fall is officially upon us, and every good Michigander knows what that means– cider and donuts! A friendly office debate about where to find the best apple cider and donuts in West Michigan inspired a donut tasting at the Riverbank Finance office today.  So, here are the results; a definitive ranking of fall flavored donuts available in West Michigan.

The Donut Participants

  • D’Arts Donuts – Grand Rapids
  • Robinette’s Apple Haus- Grand Rapids
  • Klackle Orchards – Greenville
  • DeBoer’s Bakery- Holland
  • Vander Mill – Spring Lake

The Donut Judging

We judged each donut based on four categories; presentation, freshness, fall flavor, and overall taste. We used a scale of 1-5, 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. Our entire team participated, and we took the average of all categories to come up with our totals.

The Results

  • Best Presentation: TIE between D’Arts and DeBoer’s (4.44)
  • Freshest: Robinette’s (4.88)
  • Fall Flavorful: Klackle’s (4.77)
  • Best Taste: Robinette’s (4.72)

The Winner of the Best Donut in West Michigan

If we HAD to pick just one, it would be Klackle’s in Greenville. Their combined overall score was a 4.36 and their cider was just plain delicious. The market bakery features more than just donuts– they have dozens of mouthwatering goodies and gifts. While you’re there, don’t forget to pick your own apples and pumpkins, and check out all of the farm fun activities!

DONUT settle for just any mortgage company, call Riverbank!

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

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International Home Sales

International Home SalesEvery week we are bombarded with news regarding the housing market. Some of the news becomes the bearer of bad news while on other days we are told to rejoice in hopes of a brighter tomorrow for the housing market.  Well it seems the market is receiving help from an unlikely source. That source would be foreigners. That’s right people, a portion of home sales over the past year are accounted for by foreigners that have been flocking here in droves with their families.

How many foreigners are we really talking about though? How many people are becoming American citizens and picking up our vacant homes? Apparently over the past year, the rate of foreign buyers has increased by over 24%. These people aren’t taking home buying lightly either. They accounted for $82.4 billion in home sales. So obviously these people aren’t taking up broken down homes. Many of the buyers are picking up higher end real-estate in order to begin fulfilling their very own “American Dream.”

Some of the buyers are buying crazy mansions I could only dream about. Just look back to last Summer where a British buyer purchased a mansion in Los Angeles for a reported $85 million. That’s not the only case of extreme home sales though. Just this past December we saw the Russian businessman and billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev purchase a condo in Manhattan for $88 million. The crazy thing is that he didn’t even buy this condo for himself. He purchased it for his 22-year old daughter while she attends college in New York.

Where do most of these people originate from though? Well thanks to an NAR survey, we can find out. 55% of all International sales occurred from residents of countries like Canada, China, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom.

If yourself or a family member is looking to relocate to the United States, might I recommend checking out the Michigan real estate market? Now don’t think you need to buy a mansion to relocate though. We can easily help you assemble a mortgage for a beautiful home in Michigan. All you need to do is call one of our loan officers at 1-800-555-2098.

Moving to the U.S. and need a mortgage?

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FHA Streamline Refinance

Refinance MortgageWhat’s the point in earning money if it just gets thrown towards outrageous bills like that of your mortgage? Well thankfully there is something that is here to help you out. The FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Streamline Refinance program has been around for a little while now and it has manifested itself into one of the more popular refinance programs available to American homeowners. It has allowed countless people to get out of underwater situations when it comes to their mortgages and it will allow for many others to save even more money. The reason why even more homeowners will be able to take advantage of the program is because it is undergoing a massive change on June 11th.

There is a huge array of details available regarding the new revisions to the program that we previously covered. To keep things severely simple, an insane amount of homeowners will now be able to refinance their current mortgage rates to those new, record low rates of today’s housing market. If you have yet to refinance, and I’m not sure why you haven’t, then right now is the perfect time to do so. What exactly is required on your part though? Honestly, not much is required of you at all. All you need to do is call one of our licensed loan officers at 1-800-555-2098. Otherwise you can fill out the contact form before.

Looking to Refinance Today?

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FHA Streamline Refinance Saves Homeowners Money

Save Money on Mortgage PaymentsThe FHA Streamline Refinance (Federal Housing Administration) program has been saving homeowners money on their mortgage payments for years allowing them to reduce their rate without appraisal however the new update will help to save even more. There are plenty of homeowners out there that could tell you exactly how much they were able to save. Well now it seems the possibility you could benefit from the new program has drastically increased as the requirements are being changed on June 11th. This will allow for countless homeowners to refinance their mortgages and use that extra money to buy something cool like a boat or ATV!

Let’s compare the current rates to those of the upcoming update the FHA Streamline Refinance program will soon receive. Please note that the information below is simply for illustration purposes.  Rates, terms, and fees may vary based on credit scores, loan amounts and other factors so be sure to call a loan officer to see your rate and APR information.

Under Current FHA Premiums

$200,000 Loan
3.75% Rate
$942.44 Principle & Interest
$75 Homeowners Insurance
$200 Taxes
$208.33 of Monthly Mortgage Insurance
$1,425.77 in Total Monthly Payments

New FHA Premiums Starting June 11

$200,000 Loan
3.75% Rate
$926.32 Principle & Interest
$75 Homeowners Insurance
$200 Taxes
$91.67 of Monthly Mortgage Insurance
$1,292.99 In Total Monthly Payments

So based on the rates as seen above, a homeowner could save around $132 per month on their mortgage payments by taking advantage of the new FHA Streamline Refinance program. Now even though the official update to the program is coming on June 11, we can get you on file and line everything up so that when that date roles around. You can start saving money right away!

We take care of Michigan homeowners so if you’re in the state and would like to refinance under the FHA program. Then just call us at 1-800-555-2098 to talk with a licensed loan officer. Alternatively you could contact us by email through the contact form below.

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