Tag Archives: Loan

Sapphire Jumbo Mortgage Outlook Continues to Brighten

“The Jumbo Jungle” may sound a little like the elephant compound in a wild animal park, but it’s actually a seldom-quoted tab under The Wall Street Journal’s online Real Estate section. The “jumbos” being discussed are the trunkless kind—the hefty mortgage loans whose center rings are found in binders instead of circus tents.

Judging from the latest discussions Sapphire homeowners will find lately, these jumbos aren’t about to become endangered anytime soon. For one thing, 2015 registered the highest activity for the behemoth loans ever. This year’s follow-up, according the WSJ, will be unlikely to slow the pace.

The reason behind the jumbo mortgage market’s strength has a lot to do with the down stock market. Last week ended with another swoon, led by the tech stock sector. Investors were thought to have been worried by some poor earnings performance and a general “realization that the world is slowing.”

According to Inside Mortgage Finance, jumbos accounted for a full fifth of all mortgage lending last year—the highest percentage of the market since 2002. Sapphire residents looking to borrow in the high end market may also find a variety of interested lenders as asset investment dollars shift into real estate as “a safer investment.”

It was widely held that the market dip made it more likely to momentarily halt any rise in interest rates. By week’s end, mortgage rate research website HSH.com marked another drop in conforming rates, as well as the “Federal Reserve’s apparently more cautious position with regard to raising interest rates.” That “apparently” was probably well-advised, given industry experts’ recent history of hit-and-miss prognosticating.

Nonetheless, the Jumbo Jungle writers boldly headlined “WHAT’S AHEAD FOR JUMBO-LOAN BORROWERS in 2016.” Their answer was increased likelihood for jumbo loan interest rates holding below 4% “…for a while longer, which also could make borrowing large sums more attractive.” Going further, JJ quoted one mortgage sales manager suggesting that the fear of eventual rate rises could spur a “home buying frenzy” in the spring, adding to a rush of refinancing by adjustable-rate borrowers reaching the end of their fixed-rate terms.

Sapphire jumbo loan applicants won’t have to be in any kind of a ‘frenzy’ to take advantage of today’s continuing low rates and a general move toward an easing of credit score requirements. I’m glad to help point my clients toward the most active local lending resources—those that consistently provide sound service to Sapphire homeowners.

Sapphire Home Loan Game Theory Could Get Complicated

“Sapphire home loan game theory” sounded like an intriguing topic when the phrase first occurred to me. I thought it would mean figuring out whether a mortgage would constitute a financial move that made sense. But the more I studied “game theory,” the more complicated it got. And maybe not as theoretical as I’d thought…

As far as the terms themselves are concerned, a Sapphire “Home Loan” is exactly what it says it is: a mortgage on your Sapphire home. “Game theory” is more obscure. For openers, “game theory” sounds like a lot more fun that it really is. It’s like the bore who wants to tell you exactly why some joke is funny—the explanation isn’t at all humorous. ‘Game theory’ isn’t about playing anything. It’s about mathematics.

Professor R.B. Myerson is the authority who tells us that game theory is the study of decision-making. It’s a dissection of “mathematical models of conflict and cooperation.” That’s a pretty good thumbnail description of the board games kids play. If you remember playing Monopoly as a child, you may also remember how mad you’d get if the other players cooperated too much. Sometimes they’d trade properties with each other so that one was able to build hotels on the dark blue properties. That meant that when you landed on Boardwalk, you went broke. Professor Myerson was right: that was a study in cooperation that would make anyone feel conflict.

But the Professor’s definition also says that game theory deals with the actions of “intelligent rational decision-makers.” In home loan game theory, when the process of filling out forms and gathering backup materials goes on and on, it can seem to stretch beyond anything that’s rational. But once you do get a Sapphire home loan, the decision-making does seem both intelligent and rational.

“Sapphire home loan game theory,” then, would be the study of strategic decision-making by the person who wants to obtain a home loan and the bank personnel who give the okay. Originally, game theory only dealt with zero-sum games—the ones where if someone gains something, the other one loses. It has since expanded to include all sorts of “win-win” scenarios, but at least one world-renowned investor has a different game theory about home loans. Warren Buffett is quoted as saying:

“You can take a 30-year mortgage and if it turns out your interest rate’s too high, next week you refinance lower. And if it turns out it’s too low, the other guy’s stuck with it for 30 years.”

Come to think of it, that’s exactly what has been happening ever since mortgage rates started coming down! Which is why I’m pretty sure that particular home loan game theory isn’t so theoretical at all.

Also not theoretical: given today’s mortgage interest rates, if you are thinking about looking into Sapphire real estate possibilities, giving me a call is a good next move!

Mortgage Payment Timing Can Save Sapphire Buyers Thousands!

3-25-mortgage paymentIt can be a true three-ring circus as you close in on signing day for your new Sapphire home. Sometimes there’s a near-simultaneous sale of the previous house that demands attention. There are the timing issues connected with moving out and then moving in. You may be dealing with furnishing the new house, school schedules, and sometimes work requirements have to be juggled; and everything seems to be happening at the same time.

Amidst all the details you are attending to, there is one that appears so simple that it may not get as much consideration as it deserves. Seeming almost like a non-decision, this one actually has major implications. It’s a true ‘sleeper.’

The subject is your decision on how you want to time the new mortgage payments for your new Sapphire home. It turns out that “once a month” is not necessarily the best answer.

Many lenders offer a variety of mortgage payment options, and they vary in ways that can make a surprisingly great financial difference over the long haul. No matter how busy you get, this is a decision which deserves some serious attention (and probably a hand calculator).

First, there is an English language oddity to straighten out: it’s about the prefix “bi.”

If you think “bi” is a prefix that means ‘two,’ you’re right—but it also has two meanings:

  • ‘Bimonthly’ means twice a month (but not once every two months).
  • ‘Biweekly’ means every other week.

At first glance, “every other week” and “twice a month” seem to be the same thing; but they’re not. The difference is significant, because there are 52 (not 48) weeks in a year. As everyone comes to realize sooner or later, there are 4.3 weeks in an average month (not four). So the number of mortgage payments you will make could be 12 (if you go with the standard ‘once a month’ mortgage payment), or 24 (a bimonthly mortgage payment), or 26 (the biweekly choice).

Most people who choose either of the ‘bi’ payment choices consider a mortgage payment amount that’s exactly half of the monthly amount. If you choose the bimonthly plan, you might save a bit on interest by paying the first half a little bit early. But most lenders just hold the money and apply both payments at the end of the month—if so, the advantage disappears.

The real significant difference arises if you are offered a biweekly option. You can use any of the online mortgage sites to work out the precise details for yourself. Because you are making two extra payments a year, for instance, what would have been a 3.8% 30-year $225,000 loan for a Sapphire home actually turns into a 26-year loan. All else being equal, you’d own your Sapphire home free and clear four years earlier—and save more than $23,000 in the process!

No matter how hectic a house hunting and moving process becomes, it’s part of my job to help my clients keep the important details and decisions front-and-center.

Getting the best answer to the mortgage payment choice is one of them; and of course, another best answer is to give me a call!

Sapphire Property Buyers Choice: On the Deed/On the Loan

2-27-deedHome buyers direct a series of major decisions when it comes down to finalizing their Sapphire property purchase. Among the most important are two with decisive ownership and financial consequences: who will be the primary borrower for the mortgage; and who will be named on the deed?

The answers to these questions are the opposite of the fine print details that few of owners ever need to concern themselves about. These cast defining roles in determining the eventual ownership of the Sapphire property and in assigning financial responsibility for loan repayment.

Whose Name Goes On the Loan?

Determining who is to be the primary borrower may not be as simple as you would think. After all, one person might have the excellent credit needed to insure the best interest rate, while the other person currently brings in a higher annual income—providing the cash flow boost that enables a sufficient mortgage. It is often necessary for both members of a couple to sign on the dotted line to get a Sapphire property financed. A loan officer will walk buyers through the process, explaining which combination will offer the greatest loan amount at the most favorable terms.

Whose Name Goes on the Deed?

It’s important to keep in mind that the deed is almost completely separate from the loan. Even if only one person signs for the loan, several people can be listed on the deed. Placing a name on the deed shares ownership of the property. That can be helpful in the event of an untimely death or to avoid probate during an estate settlement, but there can also be drawbacks.

Since those named on the deed share in title rights to the property, that can empower them to prevent a sale—and also leave the property vulnerable to their debts. That’s why it’s important to be clear about all outstanding obligations before adding people to a deed, lest a pre-existing debt result in a lien being filed against the property. It’s also good to remember that until the loan is paid in full, the bank or lender also has an ownership interest, which is why the bank can take possession for non-payment.

Making the Decision

Making the most of your Sapphire property is a continuing planning exercise that begins with these first ownership decisions. For individuals as well as couples, the multiple issues that come into play have financial and tax ramifications that merit careful consideration.

Before buttoning up those final decisions, I always advise clients to consult with their accountant and lawyer to get the whole story—it’s a story which begins with your first call to my office!

Highlands Mortgage Watchers Eye ‘Wealth Building Home Loan’

2-13-homeloanSomething new is stirring in the ordinarily hidebound world of residential mortgage offerings: a new way of approaching the financing of home purchases. If successful, it might well shift the way some Highlands mortgage contracts are written.

The experiment is known as the “Wealth Building Home Loan,” and it addresses a home-ownership problem that has been talked about for a long time, with little being done to solve it. The issue in question is how to unburden new homeowners from spending years in a situation that bears more resemblance, financially, to renting than to owning— especially during the first 3 to 5 years. For low- and moderate-income mortgagees, that’s the difference between sinking into more debt and actually building wealth. After all, every dollar that goes toward interest is lost, while dollars that pay down principal are investments.

According to Edward Pinto, one of the authors of the WBHL, often during the opening years of a 30-year loan, “68% goes to pay interest.” In the new program, 77% of monthly payments go to pay off principal—with the result that in a short time, new homeowners have a much larger equity stake in their homes. And, it is hoped, a sizeable increase in pride of ownership: “a stake in the game.”

It sounds good, but you might be wondering how this could be possible. Is this just a ‘pie in the sky,’ feel-good idea that will never see daylight in the real world? Apparently not. The pilot program is being put into action by some serious players: the American Enterprise Institute (if that sounds like a conservative outfit, it is) and administered by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (if that sounds like a liberal outfit, ditto). And it’s being funded by Bank of America and Citi Mortgage—neither of which would be likely to bankroll some fly-by-night scheme.

The mechanics of this kind of mortgage work out like this. First, it’s based on a 15-year term, which of course speeds the rate at which equity builds; and second, it’s a mortgage that carries a very low interest rate. Something for nothing? Not quite: the concept is to

  • change the underwriting standards to tilt away from credit history and toward recent payment history and residual income, thought to lower lender risk
  • eliminate the down payment altogether, instead allocating that initial cash toward “points”: buy-downs of the mortgage’s interest rate to .5%, (or even 0%)!

It boils down to an approach that could be a win-win. Borrowers (even those who suffered credit black marks during the economic downturn) could be newly eligible for a home loan, and because lenders pocket the interest rate buy-down amount, a proposition they might find acceptable.

Should Highlands mortgage applicants expect this deal to be available next week? Not likely: it’s in the pilot phase. But if it seems to work out, it could be a shot in the arm for homeowners who can manage a slightly higher monthly payment. If you would like to chat about today’s home loan availability (or any other current Highlands real estate doings), I hope you’ll give me a call!

When (and When Not) to Tap Your Lake Toxaway Home Equity

12-17-homeequityYour Lake Toxaway home is your castle, sure—but it’s also a great deal more than that. In addition to being the place where you relax after work, spend time with family, and generally live your life, it’s also the most substantial investment most people ever make. Much of its prominence is due to the many advantages homeownership brings in the personal financial realm.

In addition to the ongoing tax savings its mortgage provides, it’s the home equity—the difference between market value and the amount owed—that’s such a valuable contribution. A Lake Toxaway property’s equity adds considerable financial flexibility in the form of easily obtainable home equity loans.

That’s how your Lake Toxaway home can be the enabler for financing key life events—important undertakings like college, home improvements, or major debt consolidation. It’s a mainstream activity, and one that’s growing in popularity. Credit reporting firm Equifax tells us that the number of home equity loans have increased by 16.1% over last year; home equity lines of credit, 21.4%.

But at the same time, it’s the ease with which home equity financing can be arranged that should be cause for caution. Before anyone takes advantage of this kind of financing, they should clearly consider what they are getting into, the better to decide when and when not to make use of it.

There are two forms of home equity credit—the home equity loan (HEL), and the home equity line of credit (HELOC). HELs are straightforward loans, created and retired when you take a one-time, lump-sum of cash, then pay it back, with interest, over time. HELOCs work more like credit card accounts. You are approved for a line of credit with a top limit, and you can spend as much as you want until you reach the limit. You may use it or not as you wish. In fact, with most HELOCs, you’re actually issued a credit card or checkbook to use as you see fit.

Deciding when home equity financing is appropriate is an individual decision, but a conventional rule of thumb is that it is usually best reserved for single events. One good use is for home improvements, since they actually add equity to the underlying collateral. Another is for debt consolidation when it has the effect of lowering monthly interest outlays.

When are Lake Toxaway home equity loans not a good idea? For one, if you don’t need a lot of money, since opening a HEL or HELOC might involve closing costs and other fees, make sure it makes financial sense. And always look to the future. Since failing to make timely payments can actually force the sale of your home, any time you are less than certain your cash flow will support repayment, better look for other forms of financing. Your Lake Toxaway home is a castle worth protecting; you want to be sure that you are the single voice to say if and when a move is in order.

And of course, whenever you are contemplating a major move, give me a call!