Tag Archives: mortgage

5 Reasons to Get Pre-Approved

Mortgage rates have recently been at a 12-month low. Depending on your credit and financial situation, you might currently be able to get a mortgage at around 4%. Here are some reasons why it’s critical you get pre-approved for your mortgage. I have a list of wonderful mortgage lenders, please drop me an email and I’ll be happy to forward to you.

On-Line Security

I recently have had several credit cards compromised. On one, there were fraudulent charges. On another, someone called in to the credit card company and was able to be approved as an additional authorized user and was sent a credit card. This last one has scared me. The person who called in knew enough about me to convince the person at the bank that they were me. They knew my social security number (or at least last 4 digits) and my birthday.

So much information is online – someone could probably figure out my best friend’s name (from Facebook), where I was born (by searching public records), what high school I went to (again from Facebook), my mother’s maiden name (also in public records), and a host of other words I would use in security questions.

Here’s what I’m doing to protect myself.

  • Changing my user name and password on all websites
  • Making up a new BFF
  • Talking to the credit bureaus about protecting my ID
  • Making sure my privacy settings on Facebook and other social media sites are at the highest level possible
  • Purchasing a new wallet with RFID protection

If you have other ideas of things I or others can do, please let me know.

When you go to buy a home, your credit is critically important, don’t let it get messed up by people affecting your accounts. If you’d like further information, please call me a (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com.

The Danger of Waiting

Affordability is one of the major factors driving our real estate market. We saw an increase in interest rates in 2018 from around 4.15% in January to a high of nearly 5% in November and with the year ending around 4.55%. We expect that interest rates could reach 5.75% in 2019. What does this mean if you are considering buying a home (or selling and buying a new home)?

As interest rates increase, your buying power decreases. Let’s say your lender has qualified you for a home purchase of $700,000 with 20% down. Today your monthly payment would be around $2,837 with a 4.5% interest rate. If rates rise as expected in 2019, the payment later this year at 5.5% would be $3,180, or $343/month more. Your lender may no longer qualify you to purchase a $700,000 home but instead more likely around $625,000 to keep your payment around the $2,837/month. If we see a 5% (being conservative) increase in prices this year, your $700,000 home would sell around $735,000 by year end. By waiting, you are likely to decrease the amount you can pay for a home.

If you’re considering buying a property this year, the time to move is now. Give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com so we can talk about your plans and needs. (The chart above shows you various principal and interest payments at different interest rates. However, you should talk with a lender to verify the accuracy of these numbers. I have several wonderful lenders who would be happy to speak with you.)

Down Payments – How Much Do You Really Need?

Gone are the days when anyone could buy a home with just a promise and signature. No documentation loans allowed virtually anyone to buy a house with no money down with just a simple credit check. After the mortgage meltdown, this all changed. Lenders tightened guidelines and down payments were back.

But how much do you actually need? Must you always find 20% down? The answer might surprise you; there are many ways to buy a home with less than 20% down payment.

  • 0% Down – There are still two loan programs which allow one to buy a home for no-down payment; the VA loan and the USDA loan. The VA loan requires the borrower to be a qualified service person or veteran and the USDA loan is for certain areas under the Department of Agriculture.
  • 5% Down – Conventional loans with loan limits can allow one to buy a home with as little as 5% down. These loans do have PMI (Private mortgage insurance) which can be eliminated when the loan amount falls below the 20% threshold.
  • 3 ½ % Down – FHA offers first time home buyers a good home loan for only 3.5% downpayment. Again these loans have loan limits and PMI but offer a faster entry into the housing market. Buying a home doesn’t always mean 20% loan. If you’re considering buying a new home, talk to your lender about your options.

If you’re thinking of buying, give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com. Let’s talk about your needs. I can also refer you to excellent local mortgage lenders.

6th Time is the Charm

I met Steven and Lauren back in January at an open house. They were looking to buy their first home. Steven is an architect, so they wanted to buy a home that needed some work, to create their dream spaces.

By the end of March Steven and Lauren had their financing lined up. Not only were they pre-approved, their lender had put them through underwriting. With 20% down and strong financing, they were the ideal buyer.

But we’re in a competitive market, so getting a house is more than just having all your ducks in a row.

Their first offer was on a beautiful Columbia City home in need of some updates. The sellers received 8 offers and it sold for 25% above list price and beyond Steven and Lauren’s maximum budget. Their 2nd offer was on an incredible mid-century modern in Beacon Hill that was in need of a studs down remodel; Steven and Lauren weren’t willing to pay list price because of the amount of work needed, and they didn’t get that home either.

Next up was a view property in Seward Park, also in need of extensive remodeling. That one sold for $100,000 over list price. They moved on to a home near Alki Beach that also needed extensive work; that one went had 27 offers and went for 33% above list price.

As you can imagine Steven and Lauren were becoming pretty frustrated at this point. All they wanted was a place to call home. Their first anniversary was a little over a week away and they decided that for a present for themselves, they were going to get a house. They toured another 25 homes or so, and found 5 they really liked. They ranked them by offer review dates and decided to do an offer a day until they got one. Offer #5, also in West Seattle, wasn’t accepted either.

It’s now May 21st and their anniversary is just days away. Offer #6 is submitted, and yes, they got a house! Persistence paid off. They took some risks, waiving both their financing and inspection contingencies, and that made a difference. That, and they stretched to their maximum. The sale closed last week and they got their  anniversary present and dream house.

In 2018 I’m donating $500 to the non-profit of the client’s choice in honor of their closed transaction. Steven and Lauren chose for their $500 to go to Habitat for Humanity Seattle/King County. Their purchase of a new home will help another family get into their own home.

Congratulations Steven and Lauren (and Roxy, their dog), you’re going to love living in West Seattle near the Junction.

Interest Rates are Rising

If you’re thinking of buying a property, you should move forward with your plans now. According to one lender I work with, last week she saw an increase in interest rates every day. While most of us have been predicting that rates would hit 5% by the end of year, we have already reached (and exceeded) that percentage.

As interest rates increase, your buying power decreases. Let’s say your lender has qualified you for a home purchase of $700,000 with 20% down. A month ago your monthly payment would be around $2,837 with a 4.5% interest rate. At 5% that payment would be $3,006, or $169/month more. Your lender may no longer qualify you to purchase a $700,000 home but instead more likely around $675,000 to keep your payment around the $2,837/month. If we see a 7% (being conservative) increase in prices this year, your $700,000 home would sell around $750,000 by year end. By waiting, you are likely to decrease the amount you can pay for a home.

If you’re considering buying a property this year, the time to move is now. Give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or email Jamie@JamieFlaxman.com so we can talk about your plans and needs.

 

What a Crazy Month

When I think of December and real estate, I think of quiet. Everyone is getting ready for the holidays or going on vacation. It’s a great time for me to catch up on paperwork and plan for my business in 2018.

This past December did not hold to market trend. It was crazy out there. Open houses with a 100 visitors. Listings receiving 28 offers. Multiple offers being received the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

What’s going on you ask? The data for December isn’t out yet but based on what I’ve seen, here’s my theory to why we had a crazy month: We have almost no inventory of properties for sale and people want to buy before interest rates go up and tax reform goes into effect.

Do you want to buy a property? Do you have a property you’ve been debating about selling? Give me a call/text at (206) 790-0081 or email at jamie@jamieflaxman.com for a complimentary consultation.

New Changes Coming to Buying and Selling Process – What You Need to Know

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a Congress-established agency with regulatory control over federal consumer protection laws. Their goal is to make rules in our various financial markets more effective and consistent to protect consumers. Recently the CFPB created some new rules aimed at helping buyers and sellers have a better understanding of the borrowing process. Below are some of the changes you can expect to see beginning August 1, 2015.

Buyers buying their home with a mortgage will receive a standardized Loan Estimate document from the lender which outlines variables such as the type of loan, payment schedule, interest rate for the mortgage, information about prepayment penalties and other terms of the transaction (such as balloon payments or mortgage insurance), costs to close the loan, and State Law provisions. This document is provided to the loan applicant no more than three days after the buyer submits a loan application.

In addition, Buyers will receive a Closing Disclosure no less than three days before the loan is scheduled to close which reiterates the above variables.

The mandatory three day review period for both of these documents was put in place to allow borrowers the time they need to read through them and have a thorough understanding of exactly what they are committing to. Furthermore, these documents include instructions to the borrower to compare the Loan Estimate to the Closing Disclosure verifying the two documents have the consistent information.

The biggest impact of these changes is that the lender will need more time to process your loan and turn documents over to escrow. At a minimum, it is likely buyers will need 3 more days, but more likely it will be 5-10 days.

The forms themselves have been streamlined and are easier to understand. The interest rate, monthly payments, and the total closing costs are clearly indicated on the first page of the documents for easy reference and to make it easier to compare loan products with different lenders.

Both the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure are used for closed-end mortgages, meaning they are not used for home equity lines of credit, reverse mortgages, or for any loan not attached to land. Furthermore, these rules do not apply to creditors who produce fewer than five loans per year.

These new policies will make the process easier and more transparent to borrowers. If you are buying or selling a home this summer and expect the contract for purchase and sale to come in around the end of July, remember that these policies may impact your transaction as lenders and closers navigate through the new documents and timelines. I have attended several workshops on the changes and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Please give me a call: (206) 790-0081 or send an email to :jamie@jamieflaxman.com.

Sources:

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/

http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201503_cfpb_tila-respa-integrated-disclosure-guide-to-the-loan-estimate-and-closing.pdf

http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201506_cfpb_factsheet_will-the-new-mortgage-disclosures-delay-my-closing.pdf

 

Home Buyer Class

downtown from Kerry Park - stock photo

Want to own a home with a view like this? Or any home or condo for that matter? Here’s your opportunity to learn how. I am teaching Home Buying 101 on Feb. 19th, along with loan officer Kathryn Keller of Golden Empire Mortgage. The class is appropriate for first time buyers and those who haven’t purchased a property in awhile. Will be held at the Phinney Neighborhood Association from 6:30-8:30pm.

Reserve your spot by calling 783-2244 or online at http://pna.nonprofitsoapbox.com/wellhome-classes/event/25

Happy New Year!

Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year!
May all your dreams and wishes be realized.

Stay Tuned in 2015 for:

  • 2014 Seattle market update (January)
  • Fabulous Seattle homes for sale
  • Monthly videos created by me
  • And much more

And to Start the Year Out Right, here are my predictions for the 2015 Real Estate Market:

Each year I review what has happened during the year, research what the experts say for next year, and share my thoughts on what will happen in the market in 2015.

Median Sold Prices – Home prices will continue to increase nationally by single digit numbers, between 5-6% whereas Washington State home prices will increase around 7%. Urban metro areas (such as Seattle) in high demand by millennials will see an increase probably in the double digits. Home prices in October 2014 were up by 6.4% year-over-year, after climbing 10.6% in 2013. There are still areas of very high demand and low inventory which will continue to push prices upward. However, many homeowners surveyed suggest they will sell their homes next year, increasing potential inventory and putting downward pressure on prices.

Inventory – It is a good thing that more homeowners are expected to sell their homes next year as I predict that more buyers will be entering the market for a home. Improved job markets and lower unemployment rates, along with stabilizing home prices and fewer bidding wars, will bring more buyers into the market. Buyers who left the market in 2014 due to disappointment over lost offers will return. Increased inventory and slower market time gives buyers the time they need to get financing and look at more homes. The bottom line is inventory will increase due to more sellers in the market, but I expect that buyers will be purchasing that inventory, so there won’t be big fluctuations either way.

Interest Rates & Mortgage Availability – The improving economy is a sure sign that interest rates will increase in 2015. The new rates will balance job growth and higher inflation rates. The Federal Reserve indicated it will increase the federal funds rate in 2015 (the federal fund rate has a significant effect on mortgage rates). I expect the 30 year fixed rate mortgage rate will reach 5% by the end of 2015. Government officials have also indicated that mortgage credit should become more available in the foreseeable future, which will allow more buyers to qualify for a mortgage and will allow some people to qualify for a lower-rate mortgage. The FHA is raising its loan limits for King, Snohomish and Pierce counties to adjust for rising median home prices; the loan limit in 2015 for a single-family home is $517,500, up 2.3% from $506,000 this year. Additionally, the FHA is bringing back loans with only a 3% downpayment.

Foreclosures – The foreclosure crisis is near its end. 2014 saw foreclosures down 30%. We will see a further decline in 2015 with a return to low levels.

These are just a few of the things I predict 2015 will bring us. For further information, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at (206) 790-0081 or emailJamie@JamieFlaxman.com. I would be happy to share what my 2015 predictions mean for your real estate holdings.