Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Did You Know? Basic Mortgage Traps and Pointers

Did You Know? Basic Mortgage Traps and Pointers

By: Deb Conrad
MortgageLRG

Mortgage Basics

What is a mortgage? In legal terms, a mortgage is a conveyance of a security interest in real property to secure the payment of a debt, typically evidenced by a mortgage note. The note imposes personal liability for the amount of the note on the person or persons who sign the note. The mortgage is a lien on the property.

From a REALTOR®’s perspective, a mortgage may be viewed in a variety of ways: as that “necessary evil” that the buyer typically needs to arrange so that the buyer can purchase a property, or maybe as part of the long lists of items printed in a title insurance commitment, or the major obstacle in the way of a smooth short sale. There is no end to the trouble that mortgage loans can cause, but REALTORS® can’t conduct a successful real estate practice without them!

There are two basic varieties of mortgages: fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). Fixed rate payments are steady and predictable, while the ARM payments start at a much lower rate yet pose the risk of dramatically higher payments later on. Beyond that basic distinction, mortgages comes in a whole array of varieties including FHA loans, VA loans, interest-only loans, home equity credit loans, Rural Development loans, reverse mortgages and so on.

For those embarking on the quest for a mortgage loan, or assisting a party in that endeavor, there are many traps for the unwary. The following practical pointers may help them steer clear of pitfalls, minimize the pain and derive the optimum benefits from the mortgage loan.

Consumer Misconceptions 

Buyers, particularly first-time buyers, may often have misconceptions about the mortgage loan process, including the following:
  1. Mortgage lenders are required to give borrowers the lowest rate available. That would be wonderful, but currently there are no federal or state laws requiring a mortgage lender to give a borrower the best rate available.
  2. The principal balance will go down each month as long as the borrower makes the required monthly payments. While this is true with a fixed-rate mortgage, with some option-ARMs and interest-only loans with teaser rates, for instance, the balance may not fall and instead may go up. This is the result of negative amortization that occurs when monthly payments cover only a part of the monthly interest owed and none of the principal. The interest not paid is added to the principal balance and thus the balance due actually increases.
  3. The monthly payment will stay the same from month to month. Unfortunately a borrower’s monthly payments could increase dramatically, if the borrower does not have a fixed-rate mortgage loan. Interest-only loans and option-ARMs feature lower initial payments but also carry a significant risk of payment shock – a large and sudden increase in the monthly payment amount when, for example, the interest rate adjusts or the interest-only period ends.
  4. If the lender is willing to lend the money for the home, then the borrower must be able to afford it. While reputable mortgage lenders will not lend beyond a person’s means, some others will. They may not consider the borrower’s ability to repay the loan over the long haul.
  5. Discounted interest rates are a good deal because they lower the monthly payments. Paying “discount points” or a “discount fee” in return for a lower interest rate may be beneficial in the short term, but the lower interest rate may only last until the first payment amount of interest rate adjustment.

Mortgage Practice Pointers

Lock-In Policy 
Savvy consumers ask the lender to “lock your loan,” which is basically an agreement from the lender that states that the loan applicant is entitled to a certain interest rate through a certain closing date, and get the lock in writing. Most companies have a rate lock form that spells everything out. If the lock expires, any changes will not be to the applicant’s benefit and the applicant will likely need to accept a higher rate. The lender generally cannot increase the loan fees to cover the cost of the higher rate.

PMI Tips
If borrowers put down less than 20 percent on a house, they should expect to be required to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI), which protects the lender in the event the borrower defaults on the mortgage loan. That means the borrower will have to pay PMI premiums, roughly $50 to $100 per month on average, in addition to the monthly mortgage payments.

Getting the PMI tax deduction    

Starting with loans issued or refinanced in 2007, and continuing through 2011, borrowers can deduct each year’s premiums paid on PMI for the principal residence and for a non-rental second home. Unless it is extended again, the deduction won’t be available beyond the 2011 tax year.

In general, the borrower can deduct PMI premiums in the year paid if the borrower itemizes deductions on his or her income tax return. However, if the borrower prepays PMI premiums for more than one year in advance, the borrower can deduct only the part of the PMI payment that will apply to that year. Rules can vary for mortgage insurance provided by the FHA, VA and Rural Housing Service, so it is always best to consult a tax adviser with any questions. 
The deduction begins to phase out once the adjusted gross income reaches $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately) and disappears entirely at an AGI of $109,000 ($54,500 for married filing separately). Depending on the specific circumstances, this can potentially save a few hundred dollars each year.

For more information, see the Internal Revenue materials at www.irs.gov/publications/p936/ar02.html.

PMI cancellation  

Canceling the PMI as soon as a borrower is entitled can save thousands of dollars. Under the Homeowners Protection Act (HPA) of 1998, when a home is purchased after 1999, the lender is required to automatically cancel the PMI once the mortgage is paid down to a 78 percent (0.78) loan-to-value ratio (LTV), or once the homeowner has 22 percent equity. To figure the LTV, divide the outstanding loan amount by the original price of the home.
When the LTV reaches 80 percent, the homeowner can submit a written request to the lender to end the PMI. This can be a lengthy process and the lender may require an appraisal or other property valuation to confirm the property has not declined in value. See the Federal Reserve materials at www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/caletters/2004/0405/CA04-5Attach1.pdf for more information.

Mortgage Terminology 101

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM): A mortgage where the interest rates are tied to an interest-rate index. If the index rises or falls, the mortgage interest rate and the monthly payment amount go up or down accordingly.

Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI): This ratio represents monthly fixed expenses divided by gross monthly income, which is the income before taxes and deductions. The lender uses this ratio to help determine how much they will lend a potential borrower. If the percentage is greater than 36, the ratio could negatively impact the ability to obtain a mortgage loan because the lender considers that the borrower has too much debt.

Interest-Only Mortgage: The borrower is required only to make interest payments for a specified number of years. When this initial period expires, the mortgage may begin to fully amortize and monthly payments of principal and interest make the payment amount increase significantly.

Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV): This ratio compares the value of the loan with the fair market value of the home.

Negative Amortization: If the monthly payment amount does not cover the interest owed each month, sometimes as the result of a teaser rate, the unpaid interest becomes part of the principal. Thus, the principal balance increases and may eventually exceed what was borrowed in the first place.

Option-ARM: This loan typically offers the borrower three different monthly payment options: 1) payments of principal and interest, 2) interest-only payments, or 3) minimum monthly payments that don’t cover the monthly interest such that the unpaid interest is added to the principal loan amount. To ensure that the loan is repaid within the agreed-upon time, these loans “recast” after a set number of years (usually three or five) and monthly payments increase significantly so that the loan fully amortizes.

Payment Shock: Payment shock is a large and sudden increase – sometimes as much as double or triple – in monthly payments, often seen with interest-only loans and option-ARMs.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): PMI is required by lenders when a borrower has less than 20 percent down. PMI protects the lender from default losses in the event a loan becomes delinquent.

Teaser Rates: These are low rates that lenders offer to make mortgage products more attractive. When the “teaser rate” period expires, the lender raises the interest rate for the remainder of the loan period.

Types of Mortgage Loans

Rural Development: www.rurdev.usda.gov/HAD-HCFPLoans.html
FHA loans: www.hud.gov/buying/loans.cfm [The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which is part of HUD, insures the loan, so the lender can offer the borrower a better deal, as well as low down payments, low closing costs and easy credit qualifying.]
VA loans: www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans
Home Equity Credit Lines:www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/homes/rea02.shtm and www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/equity/equity_english.htm [A home equity line of credit is a form of revolving credit in which the home serves as collateral.]
Reverse mortgages:www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/homes/rea13.shtm [Those 62 years or older can convert part of their home equity into cash without selling.]
Interest-Only and Option-Payment ARMs: www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/interest-only/index.html
Published: March 07, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chicago, Milwaukee Top List of Top 10 Real Estate Buyers' Markets - ABC News

Chicago, Milwaukee Top List of Top 10 Real Estate Buyers' Markets - ABC News 


Chicago, Milwaukee Top List of Top 10 Real Estate Buyers' Markets - ABC News



PHOTO: Chicago was at the top of Zillow's published list of top ten sellers' markets.
Allan Baxter/Getty Images
 
Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland lead the list of Zillow's top real estate buyers' markets, with homes in those metropolitan areas taking longer to sell and buyers receiving an average discount of 5 percent off asking prices.

Along with publishing a list of the top ten buyers' markets, online real estate marketplace Zillow published a list of the top ten sellers' markets, with San Jose, Calif., and San Francisco topping the list.

To rank the 50 largest metropolitan areas by negotiating power for sellers and buyers, Zillow analyzed its data for sale-to-list price ratio, number of days listed on Zillow, and percent of homes on the market with a price cut.

Zillow defined a buyers' market as an area where buyers have more bargaining power, with listings lingering longer on the market and "sellers being forced to cut asking prices."

Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries said it was "refreshing to see some markets swinging back in favor of sellers, with asking prices being met and listings spending fewer days on market."

"The housing recession has been long and rocky, and we're seeing more balance during this summer selling season," Humphries said in a statement. "Of course, many markets are still firmly in favor of buyers, and we expect that to continue until the recovery takes more of a hold nationwide."


# 2.
Milwaukee, Wis.
• Sale-to-list price ratio: 0.9488

• Homes with price cuts: 39.7 percent

• Average days on Zillow: 161.5

• Zillow median home value: $165,800

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Welcome to Wisconsin Real Estate with Lisa Bear

Thank you for visiting.  Please feel free to contact me for any of your real estate needs including an online market if you are a seller, or finding a home if you are a buyer. My real estate focus in the  Waukesha County, Milwaukee County, Lake Country, Jefferson County, Dodge County and Washington County areas.  I have my IRES designation (International Real Estate Specialist) so I can assist you with all your real estate needs in Wisconsin, the USA or anywhere in the WORLD!

When you are seriously looking or just browsing at real estate in Wisconsin, I am a great resource to help you with all your needs and questions, whether a first time home buyer, relocating to or from the beautiful LAKE COUNTRY area, looking to invest or explore foreclosure opportunities or just thinking ahead to the future.

Lisa Bear of RE/MAX (262-893-5555) is an experienced real estate agent in Waukesha County and the entire Milwaukee Metro area including:

The prospering communities of Waukesha County including Delafield, Waukesha, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Waukesha, Sussex, Wales, New Berlin, Dousman, North Prairie, Mukwonago, Chenequa, Menomonee Falls, Brookfield, Elm Grove, Okauchee, Eagle, Muskego and Merton.

Great municipalities in Milwaukee County including Milwaukee, South Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Hales Corners, Greenfield, Glendale, Franklin, Bayside, Brown Deer, Cudahy, Fox Point, Greendale, Shorewood, Oak Creek, St. Francis, West Allis and Whitefish Bay.

The hometown favorites of Washington County, Jefferson County and Dodge County including Watertown, Hartford, West Bend, Germantown, Jackson, Richfield, Ashippun, Lake Mills, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Slinger and Erin.

Real Estate in Wisconsin is an excellent investment!
  Lisa bear southeastern wisconsin waukesha county lake country lakes
 "HELPING YOU MOVE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Residential real estate in Milwaukee Wi - REMAX Realtor Lisa Bear

,
Milwaukee

We're halfway through 2012, and what a year it's been. Residential real estate has finally taken some meaningful strides toward recovery, and they've all been self-powered without divine (or governmental) intervention. Yes, there have been some head fakes in the past, but there's real reason to believe that market turnaround awaits us. Beyond home prices, key metrics to watch include Days on Market, Percent of List Price Received and Months Supply of Inventory. Locally, a few indicators showed improvement. Let's see what the rest of our local data has to say.



New Listings in the Milwaukee region decreased 14.5 percent to 2,218. Pending Sales were down 13.7 percent to 1,068. Inventory levels shrank 16.2 percent to 9,947 units.

Prices moved higher. The Median Sales Price increased 1.4 percent to $180,000. Days on Market was down 8.7 percent to 97 days. The supply-demand balance stabilized as Months Supply of Inventory was down 33.5 percent to 8.9 months.

We seem to be at a critical inflection point in our search for more employment opportunities. Job growth provides the dual benefit of stimulating new household growth as well as relieving distressed homeowners. There's also the positive feedback loop of housing creating jobs and jobs creating housing. Keeping the affordability picture afloat, the Fed has vowed to keep interest rates around 4.0 percent through mid-2013.

All data for the market reports comes from the Multiple Listing Service, Inc

Share


Welcome to Wisconsin Real Estate with Lisa Bear

Thank you for visiting.  Please feel free to contact me for any of your real estate needs including an online market if you are a seller, or finding a home if you are a buyer. My real estate focus in the  Waukesha County, Milwaukee County, Lake Country, Jefferson County, Dodge County and Washington County areas.  I have my IRES designation (International Real Estate Specialist) so I can assist you with all your real estate needs in Wisconsin, the USA or anywhere in the WORLD!

When you are seriously looking or just browsing at real estate in Wisconsin, I am a great resource to help you with all your needs and questions, whether a first time home buyer, relocating to or from the beautiful LAKE COUNTRY area, looking to invest or explore foreclosure opportunities or just thinking ahead to the future.

Lisa Bear of RE/MAX (262-893-5555) is an experienced real estate agent in Waukesha County and the entire Milwaukee Metro area including:

The prospering communities of Waukesha County including Delafield, Waukesha, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Waukesha, Sussex, Wales, New Berlin, Dousman, North Prairie, Mukwonago, Chenequa, Menomonee Falls, Brookfield, Elm Grove, Okauchee, Eagle, Muskego and Merton.

Great municipalities in Milwaukee County including Milwaukee, South Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Hales Corners, Greenfield, Glendale, Franklin, Bayside, Brown Deer, Cudahy, Fox Point, Greendale, Shorewood, Oak Creek, St. Francis, West Allis and Whitefish Bay.

The hometown favorites of Washington County, Jefferson County and Dodge County including Watertown, Hartford, West Bend, Germantown, Jackson, Richfield, Ashippun, Lake Mills, Jefferson, Johnson Creek, Slinger and Erin.


Real Estate in Wisconsin is an excellent investment!

  Lisa bear southeastern wisconsin waukesha county lake country lakes
 "HELPING YOU MOVE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION"

Monday, July 9, 2012

Preparing Your Seller to Prepare the Home to be Prepared for Showings - Wisconsin REALTORS® Association

Preparing Your Seller to Prepare the Home to be Prepared for Showings - Wisconsin REALTORS® Association

Preparing Your Seller to Prepare the Home to be Prepared for Showings

Part 1: Pets

By: Cori Lamont
PetsLRG
This article was born because of a Facebook posting. A Louisiana friend just reunited with her yellow Labrador Retriever, Emma. Apparently, Emma was let out of the house by an agent conducting a showing, and after a few days, she was returned unharmed and happy. However, Emma’s tale — pun intended — made me begin to wonder: what conversations are agents having with sellers when it comes to preparing their homes for showings?

This conversation has many layers and requires a couple of magazine installments. The first: owners of properties for sale with pets, and the second installment in the July magazine will highlight other concerns, such as protecting the seller’s personal property and the safety of the agent.

The family pet conversation can be a tricky one. For some sellers, the most important quality they look for in any person, including their listing agent, is how they treat the owner’s pet or pets. The appropriate way to address the family pet’s presence in the home during showings and open houses can be a bit like trying to navigate a boat through rock-infested waters at night — a slow, painful process that can leave holes and irreparable damage.

Often agents are equipped to go into a seller’s home and provide direction as to room d├ęcor and color, suggesting removal of personal pictures and memorabilia, and packing away extra clutter. There is no quicker barometer to determine the love for the family pet until the agent begins to discuss options regarding the presence of the pet in the home during showings and open houses. Such options during showings and open houses may include: removing the pet from the property, kenneling the pet, placing the pet in a closed-off space, or placing the pet in the enclosed backyard. It is at this time that the agent will fully comprehend what that pet means to that seller and the agent’s appropriate approach.

Per lines 174-182 of the 2008 WB-1 Residential Listing Contract:
OPEN HOUSE AND SHOWING RESPONSIBILITIES: Seller is aware that there is a potential risk of injury, damage and/or theft involving persons attending an “individual showing” or an “open house.” Seller accepts responsibility for preparing the Property to minimize the likelihood of injury, damage and/or loss of personal property. Seller agrees to hold Broker harmless for any losses or liability resulting from personal injury, property damage, or theft occurring during “individual showings” or “open houses” other than those caused by Broker’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing. Seller acknowledges that individual showings and open houses may be conducted by licensees other than Broker …

Listing brokers should review this language with all sellers. According to the terms and conditions of the listing contract, the seller agrees to prepare the property for showings. This obligation would appear to include securing any pets. The listing also states that the seller agrees to hold the broker harmless for any loss or liability resulting from personal injury occurring during individual showings or open houses unless the broker was negligent or there was intentional wrongdoing. Good communication between the listing and showing brokers would indicate if pets are present at the property and if any precautions need to be taken.
Illustrating a positive exchange, the listing agent called the cooperating agent to tell them, “the hamster got loose this morning and the family could not find where Lightning was before they left for work. So I wanted to let you know that the property is not infested with rodents; it’s just a family member on the lam.” In the event the buyers encountered Lightning, they were prepared.

In contrast, while in the kitchen admiring the space, one of the buyers opened the pantry door and out flew Leopold, the seller’s ferret. Luckily, Leopold scampered off without injury; although the buyers did not fare so well. I am told that any time that a buyer opens an unfamiliar cabinet or door, they do so with great caution. The listing agent did not inform the cooperating agent of Leopold’s presence in the home, let alone a penchant for hanging out in the pantry.

The listing agent should clearly express to the seller that the suggestion of removing the pet from the property or placing the pet in a limited space is as much for the pet’s safety as it is for the prospective buyer’s and agent’s. While a seller assures you that their pet is nice and wouldn’t hurt a fly, you should politely remind the seller that not everyone is comfortable around animals and you want to make sure that their pet is safely secured, allowing buyers to focus on the home and not the pet or the buyers’ personal level of discomfort. Also, remind the seller that the buyers may have children, which could add another layer to the safety concerns for the pet.

Tell the seller that this is as much about protecting your dog, cat, ferret, rabbit, snake, hamster, bird or pot-bellied pig as it is the buyer and cooperating agent. The ability of an open house host to monitor the activities of all guests is limited, especially if the agent is attempting to contain a pet throughout the home. I can personally recall watching a listing agent hosting an open house struggle with holding back the dog while watching the cat to ensure that neither of them made a break for the open door. The listing agent may even be able to persuade the seller to remove the pet all together from the home, and if possible, make sure all the pet’s toys, beds and the like are also put away. If a buyer is not a pet person, they may not be open to seeing a litter box right next to the kitchen island.

There is, however, a movement to promote the pet with the home. One staging blogger recently suggested staging the dog with the home. In her personal experience, she wanted to keep the dogs in the home and not locked up for hours in a small kennel. She dressed the dogs in matching sweaters and contained them in the laundry room with a gate. On the gate, she posted s sign with photographs where the dogs communicated their excitement for the prospective buyers to see the home and apologize if they were a little noisy due to the excitement. For more on this go to http://styledstagedsold.blogs.realtor.org/2012/03/26/not-sure-what-to-do-with-the-household-pet-stage-the-dog/.

However the listing agent and seller decide to work the pet into or out of the home during showings, it is important to be candid and genuine about the concern for the safety of the pet, prospective buyer and cooperating agent.

Cori Lamont is Director of Brokerage Regulation and Licensing for the WRA.
Published: June 06, 2012

Some Points About Points

Some Points About Points


Some Points About Points

by Dean Hartman on July 5, 2012 · 0 comments

One of the more frequent topics discussed between loan officers and borrowers center around discount points.
“What are points?”
“Should I pay points?”
“What about NO points?”
And so on…
So today, I decided to give you some information and some things to consider:
  • First, a definition- Discount Points are pre-paid interest that allows a borrower to lower their interest rate on monies borrowed. Because points are prepaid interest and mortgage interest is tax deductible, points are tax deductible in full in the year you pay them when you use the proceeds of the loan to purchase a home. (Consult your accountant for rules concerning points on refinances.)
  • As an example, paying a point (one point is equal to one percent of the loan amount) may lower the rate on your 30 year mortgage .25%. To give some practical numbers to it:
      • On $100,000 loan, one point would be $1000.00.
      • The difference in your monthly payment from a 4% rate to a 3.75% rate on a 30 year fixed rate loan would be $14 ($478 vs $464).
      • Are you better off spending $1000 today to save $14 a month? It will take you nearly 6 years to make your money back. For most, it’s easier to find $14 a month than to save $1000. On the other hand, if you expect to have this loan for 30 years, your $1000 expense will wind up saving you over $5000.

  • Next, talk to your loan officer about ACTUAL prices. The old guideline of 1 point for .25% in rate doesn’t hold true every day or at every price point or at different times of the month or year. Mortgages are bundled together and sold in packages called MBSs (Mortgage Backed Securities). These MBSs often are bought and sold before there are loans to fill them up. A given company may have projected (and committed to deliver) a certain volume of loans at a particular rate. To attract these loans as their deadlines approach, they may offer a “deal”. There are times when a lender can make more money selling a 3.75% Note than a 3.875% Note because of other commitments. Ask your LO the different costs (in points) you would have with different rates. Then, calculate the time needed to recoup the monies.
  • Often, I have advised clients closing toward the end of the year to pay points because they can “get back” a good portion of the cost quickly if they file their tax returns early. The theory is you can spend $1000 and get the benefit of it but, after your refund, maybe you really only spent $750.
  • Many deals today are structured with seller’s concessions wherein the seller (as an inducement to get you to buy their home) offers to pay all or some of your closing costs. At time of contract signing, there is an estimation of what that will be. Whether your contract says a flat dollar amount or a percentage, there is often a few extra dollars available at time of closing. A few days before closing, you should ask your LO for a more accurate number because you may have a few bucks the seller can pay to secure you a lower rate.  If you don’t do it, the seller just walks away with more money than they agreed to.
  • Also, you can pay non-round numbers in points to achieve your objectives.  It is not unusual to see loans today with 1.045 points or.781 points. For the lender, it’s about the yield that arises from the combination of rate and points.
  • Lastly, points can work in reverse. Rather than paying them, you can “create” them for your own use. That is really what a lender-paid closing costs loan is. You pay a higher rate so the lender can then sell that loan for more money. The lender then makes the additional money available to you to spend on closing costs.
Pricing on your mortgage is complicated yet understandable. Take the time to look at it from multiple angles. Use your LO as a resource/advisor. That is where the good ones can add tremendous value. Most people only ask about rate and closing costs. Go deeper to get the real answers.