Despite several big-name banks pulling the product from their respective home loan offerings, reverse mortgages remain a popular mortgage choice among homeowners aged 62 or over.

A reverse mortgage is exactly what it sounds like — a mortgage in reverse. Rather than borrow a fixed amount of money then pay that loan balance down to zero as with a “forward” mortgage, a reverse mortgage starts at a given loan balance and works its way up as scheduled payments are added to the existing loan balance.

This 4-minute piece from NBC’s The Today Show highlights a few pros and cons of reverse mortgages, and the reasons why you may want to consider one, including :

  • No mortgage payments are ever due on your home
  • There is no credit check required for a reverse mortgage
  • There is no income requirement to qualify for a reverse mortgage

There are some basic qualification standards for the reverse mortgage program including a requirement that all borrowers on title must be 62 years of age or older; and that the subject property be a primary residence. Loan fees can also be higher than with a conventional-type mortgage.

If you meet the qualification standards, though, with a reverse mortgage, you have flexibility in how your home equity is distributed to you. You can receive a lump-sum payment, elect for monthly installments over time, create a line of credit, or a combination of all three. 

Like all mortgages, reverse mortgages are complex instruments. That’s one reason why all reverse mortgage borrowers are required to attend counseling — the government wants you to be certain that you understand the nuances of the reverse mortgage program.

Your lender will want you to understand the program, too.

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Senior Loan Officer SurveyDespite an improving U.S. economy, the nation’s banks remain cautious about what they will lend, and to whom.

Last quarter, by a margin of 3-to-2, more banks tightened residential mortgage lending standards for “prime borrowers” than did loosen them.

A “prime borrower” is defined as one with a well-documented credit history, high credit scores, and a low debt-to-income ratio. The insight comes from the Federal Reserve’s quarterly survey of its member banks.

Last quarter, of the 54 responding banks :

  • 0 banks tightened mortgage guidelines considerably
  • 3 banks tightened mortgage guidelines somewhat
  • 49 banks left guidelines basically unchanged
  • 2 banks eased mortgage guidelines somewhat
  • 0 banks eased mortgage guidelines considerably

By contrast, in the quarter prior, not a single surveyed bank reported tighter residential mortgage guidelines. The period from January-March was a step backwards, therefore, for the fledgling U.S. housing market.

Overall, getting approved for a mortgage is tougher than it used to be. Banks enforce higher minimum credit score standards; ask for larger downpayment/equity positions; and require higher monthly income relative to monthly debt obligations.

It’s one reason why the homeownership rate is at its lowest point since 1997.

Another reason why homeownership rates may be down is that prospective home buyers believe the hurdles of today’s mortgage approval process may be impassably high. That’s untrue.

There are many U.S. homeowners and renters — even here in Midlothian — that were approved for a home loan last quarter — prime borrowers or otherwise. Some had excellent credit, some had modest credit. Some had high income, some had moderate income. Many, however, took advantage of low-downpayment mortgage options such as the FHA’s 3.5% downpayment program, and the VA’s 100% mortgage program for military veterans.

Despite a general tightening in mortgage standards, loans are still available and banks remain eager to lend.

It is harder to get approved today as compared to 5 years ago, but for those that try and succeed, the reward is access to the lowest mortgage rates in a lifetime. Mortgage rates throughout Virginia continue to push home affordability to all-time highs.

If you’re in the market to buy a new a home or refinance one, your timing is excellent.

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Today we conducted the last scheduled HARP 2 seminar / webinar.  Here are some of the common questions raised from attendees over the last 3 weeks and our answers.  Remember these answers are valid as of today and may change:

 

What are the two minimum requirements for a mortgage to eligible for a HARP refinance?     

(1)     Loan must be backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  (2) Loan must have a securitization date prior to June, 2009

 

How do I find out if my loan is a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan?

Use a web based look-up tool: 

www.fanniemae.com/loanlookup

www.freddiemac.com/mymortgage 

 

If neither Fannie Mae nor Freddie Mac has a record of my mortgage, do I have options?

Yes.  These include a traditional refinance and FHA streamline refinance.

 

If I refinanced with HARP, can I refinance with HARP II?

No.

 

Is my current lender the only lender that can refinance my mortgage under HARP?

No.

 

I pay PMI now. Can I refinance under HARP II if my loans balance is greater that the home value?

Most Likely.

 

Can I refinance a rental property or vacation home with HARP?

Yes.

 

Can I refinance a two unit property with HARP?

Yes.

 

Does HARP allow loan balances to increase, so that I do not need to bring funds to closing?

Yes.

 

Are VHDA mortgages eligible for HARP 2 refinances?

No

 

These and many other issues were covered at these events.  If we see a strong demand we may repeat them live or via the internet.

 

Click here to discuss a HARP or other refinance with a TrustMor loan officer.

 

 

 

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FHA MIP increasingPlanning to use an FHA-backed mortgage for your next home loan? You might want to get your application in gear today.

Beginning next week, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is changing the way it charges mortgage insurance to U.S. homeowners. For the fourth time since 2010, FHA mortgage insurance premiums are rising for all FHA-backed homeowners.

For FHA Case Numbers assigned on, or after, Monday, April 9, 2012, there are two planned changes.

First, FHA Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premiums (UFMIP) will increase by 75 basis points to 1.75%, or $1,750 per $100,000 borrowed. Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium is paid at closing, and typically added to an FHA borrower’s loan size.

The current UFMIP rate is 1.000 percent.

Second, annual FHA mortgage insurance premiums are rising. All new FHA-backed loans will be subject to a 10 basis point increase in annual mortgage insurance premiums, costing homeowners an extra $100 per $100,000 borrowed per year.

The new FHA annual mortgage insurance premium schedule follows :

  • 15-year loan term, loan-to-value > 90% : 0.60% MIP per year
  • 15-year loan term, loan-to-value <= 90% : 0.35% MIP per year
  • 15-year loan term, loan-to-value <= 78% : 0.00% MIP per year
  • 30-year loan term, loan-to-value > 95% : 1.25% MIP per year
  • 30-year loan term, loan-to-value <= 95% : 1.20% MIP per year

In addition, for loans above $625,500, beginning with FHA Case Numbers assigned on, or after, June 11, 2012, there will be an additional 25 basis point increase in annual MIP.

To calculate your monthly MIP obligation as a FHA homeowners, multiply your starting loan size by your insurance rate from the list above, then divide by 12.

Note that the FHA mortgage insurance changes apply to new FHA Case Numbers only. If you have an FHA mortgage approval in-process, or an existing FHA home loan, you are not subject to the new MIP schedule. To avoid paying the FHA’s new MIP schedule, therefore, begin your FHA mortgage application today.

Once your FHA Case Number is assigned, you’re locked in to today’s lower premiums.

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Making Home Affordabie

The new, revamped HARP program is now available in Virginia and   nationwide. It was officially released Saturday, March 17, 2012 by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

HARP is an acronym. It stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program. HARP is the conforming mortgage loan product meant for “underwater homeowners”. Under the HARP program, homeowners in Midlothian can get access to today’s low mortgage rates despite having little or no equity whatsoever.

HARP is expected to reach up to 6 million U.S. homeowners who would otherwise be unable to refinance.

HARP is not a new program. It was originally launched in 2009. However, the program’s first iteration reached fewer than 1 million U.S. households because loan risks were high for banks, and loan costs were high for consumers.

With HARP’s re-release — dubbed HARP 2.0 — the government removed many of HARP’s hurdles.

In order to qualify for HARP, homeowners must first meet 3 qualifying criteria. 

First, their current mortgage must be backed either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Loans backed by the FHA or VA are ineligible, as are loans backed by private entities. This means jumbo loans and most loans from community banks cannot be refinanced via HARP.

  • To check if your loan is Fannie Mae-backed, click here.
  • To check if your loan is Freddie Mac-backed, click here.

The second qualification standard for HARP is that all loans to be refinanced must have been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009. Mortgages securitized on, or after, June 1, 2009 are HARP-ineligible.

There are no exceptions to this rule.

And, lastly, the third HARP qualification standard is that the existing mortgage must be accompanied by a strong repayment history. Homeowners must have made the last 6 mortgage payments on-time, and may not have had more than one 30-day late within the last 12 months.

If the above three qualifiers are met, HARP applicants will find mortgage guidelines lenient overall :

  • Refinancing into a fixed rate mortgage allows for unlimited loan-to-value
  • The standard 7-year “waiting period” after a foreclosure is waived in full
  • Except in rare cases, home appraisals aren’t required for HARP

Furthermore, HARP mortgage rates are on par with non-HARP rates. This means that HARP applicants get access to the same mortgage rates and loan fees as non-HARP applicants. There’s no “penalty” for using HARP.

To apply for HARP, check with your loan officer today.

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FHA MIP scheduleThe FHA is making more changes to its flagship FHA Streamline Refinance program.

Beginning mid-June 2012, certain current, FHA-backed homeowners will be able to refinance their existing FHA mortgage into a new one, without having to pay the government-backed group’s new, costly mortgage insurance premium schedule.

Earlier this week, the FHA rolled out its new MIP schedule.

Beginning April 9, 2012, new FHA mortgages are subject to a 1.75% upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP) and an annual mortgage insurance premium of up to 1.25% for loan sizes up to, and including, $625,500; or 1.60% for loan sizes exceeding $625,500.

Upfront MIP is typically added to the loan size as a lump sum. Annual MIP is paid via 12 monthly installments. Both add to the long-term costs of homeownership.

However, the FHA’s new MIP schedules will not apply to all FHA-backed homeowners equally. Homeowners whose FHA mortgages were endorsed prior to June 1, 2009 will benefit from a different, less costly MIP schedule.

For these homeowners in search of a streamline, the MIP schedule is as follows :

  • Upfront MIP : 0.01% of the loan size
  • Annual MIP : 0.55% of the loan size, with no adjuster for loan sizes over $625,500

The new schedule is detailed in FHA Mortgagee Letter 12-04 and it lowers the cost of FHA Streamline Refinancing for long-time, FHA-backed households in Virginia and nationwide to almost nothing.

As a real-life example, an FHA-backed homeowner whose $100,000 mortgage dates to 2008 could refinance via the FHA Streamline Refinance program and pay just $10 in upfront MIP, with a corresponding annual MIP payment of just $550, or $45.83 monthly. 

By comparison, every other FHA-backed homeowner with a $100,000 mortgage pays $1,750 in UFMIP and as much as $1,600 in annual MIP.

The new streamline refinance MIP schedule is in effect for FHA mortgage applications with case numbers assigned on, or after, June 11, 2012. It is not available for loan applications made prior to that date.

There are lots of dates and deadlines in the FHA’s new streamline program. If you’re too early — or too late —  you could miss your optimal refinance window. Talk with your loan officer, therefore, and put a plan in place. You’ll be glad to be prepared.  

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FHA MIP Changes April 1 2012Beginning April 1, 2012, the FHA is once again raising mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) on its newly-insured borrowers throughout Midlothian and the country.

It’s the FHA’s fourth such increase in the last two years.

Beginning April 1, 2012, upfront mortgage insurance premiums will be higher by 75 basis points, or 0.75%; and annual mortgage insurance premiums will be higher by 10 basis points per year, or 0.10%.

For borrowers with a loan size of $200,000, the new MIP will add $1,500 in one-time loan costs, plus an on-going, annual $200 increase in total mortgage insurance premiums paid.

All new FHA loans are subject to the increase — purchases and refinances.

The FHA is increasing its mortgage insurance premiums because, as an entity, the FHA is insuring a much larger percentage of the U.S. mortgage market than ever before. 

In 2006, the FHA insured 2 percent of all purchase-money mortgages. In 2011, that figure jumped to 18 percent. Unfortunately, as the FHA has insured more loans, it’s number of loans in default have climbed, too, forcing the FHA to boost its reserves.

Beginning April 1, 2012, the new FHA annual mortgage insurance premium schedule is as follows :

  • 15-year loan term, loan-to-value > 90% : 0.60% MIP per year
  • 15-year loan term, loan-to-value <= 90% : 0.35% MIP per year
  • 30-year loan term, loan-to-value > 95% : 1.25% MIP per year
  • 30-year loan term, loan-to-value <= 95% : 1.20% MIP per year

In order to calculate what your FHA annual mortgage insurance premium would be on a monthly basis, multiply your beginning loan size by your insurance premium in the chart above, then divide by 12.

In addition, for loans over $625,500, beginning June 1, 2012, there is an additional 25 basis point increase to annual MIP.

To avoid paying the new FHA mortgage insurance premiums, start your FHA mortgage application today. Existing FHA-insured homeowners will not be affected by the change.

Mortgage insurance premiums will not rise for loans already made.

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Making Home Affordabie

The government’s new, revamped HARP program is 6 weeks from release. Homeowners in Virginia and nationwide are gearing up to refinance.

HARP is an acronym. It stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program. HARP is the government’s loan product for “underwater homeowners”. HARP makes current mortgage rates available to households which would otherwise be unable to refinance because the home lacks equity.

This is a big deal — especially today. Mortgage rates are at an all-time low and millions of U.S. homeowners have been unable to take advantage. HARP aims to change that.

HARP originally launched in 2009. Its first iteration failed to reach a meaningful percentage of U.S. homeowners, however, because costs were high and loans were high-risk. With its re-release, the government has removed the hurdles to HARP, putting refinancing within reach for millions of U.S. households.

To qualify for HARP, homeowners must first meet 3 qualifying criteria.

First, their current mortgage must be backed Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. FHA- and VA-backed loans are HARP-ineligible, as are jumbo loans and loans backed by portfolio lenders.

  • To check if your loan if Fannie Mae-backed, click here.
  • To check if your loan if Freddie Mac-backed, click here.

Second, the existing mortgage must have been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior on, or before, May 31, 2009. If you bought your home or refinanced it after that date, you are HARP-ineligible.

There are no exceptions to this rule.

And, third, the existing mortgage must be accompanied by a strong repayment history. Mortgage payment must have been paid on-time for the last 6 months, at least, and there may not be more than one 30-day late payment in the last 12 months.

If these 3 qualifiers are met, HARP applicants should find the approval process straight-forward : 

  • Fixed rate mortgages allow unlimited loan-to-value
  • The standard 7-year “waiting period” after a foreclosure is waived in full
  • Except in rare cases, home appraisals aren’t required 

Furthermore, HARP mortgage rates are expected to be on par with non-HARP rates, meaning that HARP homeowners in Henrico will get the same rates and pay the same fees as everyone else. There’s no “penalty” for using HARP.

The revamped HARP is expected to be generally available beginning Monday, March 19, 2012.

To get a head-start on HARP, check with your loan officer for the complete list of HARP eligibility requirements.

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FOMC senior loan officer survey 2011 Q4

After a half-decade of tightening mortgage guidelines, banks are starting to “loosen up”.

The Federal Reserve conducts a quarterly survey of its member banks and, last quarter, not a single responding bank reported having tightened its mortgage guidelines for prime borrowers.

A “prime borrower” is defined as one with a well-documented credit history, high credit scores, and a low debt-to-income ratio.

53 banks responded to the Fed’s survey and none said that mortgage guidelines “tightened considerably” or “tightened somewhat” between September and December 2011; 50 said that guidelines remained “basicaly unchanged”; 3 said that guidelines “eased somewhat”.

Mortgage applicants sometimes remark that the mortgage approval process can be challenging. Last quarter’s Fed survey hints that looser standards are coming. 

Not since before the recession have banks lowered mortgage approval standards like this and it bodes well for this year’s Henrico  housing market. Real estate agents report that 1 in 3 home sale contracts fail with “declined mortgage applications” as a leading cause.

Looser mortgage lending standards should mean more home loan approvals for buyers, and fewer contract cancellations. This can spur the housing market forward.

Make note, though. “Looser standards” should not be confused with “irresponsible standards”. It remains more difficult to meet bank standards as compared to 5 years. Today’s underwriters are more conservative with respect to household income, overall assets and credit scores. 

Even as compared to one year ago:

  • Minimum credit score requirements are higher
  • Downpayment/equity requirements are larger
  • Maximum allowable debt-to-income ratios are lower

For buyers and refinancing households gaining approval, though, the reward is the lowest mortgage rates in a lifetime. Mortgage rates in Virginia continue to fall, helping home affordability reach new highs.

If you’re in the market to buy a new home or refinance one, your timing is excellent.

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FHA says: It’s ok to flip that house – Dec. 29, 2011.

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