Is Getting a Mortgage Getting Easier?

Is Getting a Mortgage Getting Easier? | Simplifying The Market

There has been a lot of discussion about how difficult it is to get a home mortgage in this market. There is no doubt that the process is not as easy as it was eight to ten years ago and that’s probably good news. However, it does appear that availability to mortgage money is increasing with each passing day.

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association publishes the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their site the index is “a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time”. As we can see from the graph below, mortgage availability has been increasing dramatically over the last six months.

Mortgage Availability | Simplifying The Market

Accompanying the latest index was this comment from Mike Fratantoni, MBA's Chief Economist:

"A number of factors contributed to a loosening of credit in March: Freddie Mac's introduction of their 97 LTV program (Fannie Mae's was implemented in December) [and the] additional loosening of parameters on jumbo loan programs… Although credit remains tight by historical standards, this increase in availability, coupled with low rates and job market strength, should lead to stronger home purchase activity this spring."

Bottom Line

If you have remained on the sidelines regarding homeownership because you were concerned about your ability to qualify for a mortgage, it may be time to get into the game.

Freddie Mac’s New 3% Down Program

Freddie Mac’s New 3% Down Program | Simplifying The Market

Today, Freddie Mac is scheduled to start buying mortgages with down payments of only three percent – the first time down payments have been this low on Freddie Mac loans in nearly five years. The program is called Freddie Mac Home Possible AdvantageSM.

In a recent Executive Perspectives, Dave Lowman EVP, Single-Family Business Freddie Mac, explained the potential impact this program will have on the housing market:

“There's a new reason Realtors and lenders may expect more qualified borrowers at the closing table during this spring's home buying season. In addition to low mortgage rates and rising job growth, the down payment hurdle is starting to shrink for creditworthy borrowers, including first-time homebuyers.”

And the mortgage industry agrees with Mr. Lowman. In a recent survey of mortgage originators by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it was revealed that most loan officers believe the move to a lower down payment will increase access to mortgage credit. Here are that survey’s findings:

Down Payment Program | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Many potential buyers are “ready and willing” to buy a home but have been afraid they may not be “able” because of a lack of adequate savings for a down payment. Check with a local real estate or mortgage professional to understand what the new rules may mean to you.

Don’t Get Caught in the ‘Renter’s Trap’

Don’t Get Caught in the ‘Renter’s Trap’ | Simplifying The Market

There are many benefits to homeownership, one of top ones, is being able to protect yourself from rising rents and lock in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just released their findings of a study in which they studied “income growth, housing costs and changes in the share of renter and owner-occupied households over the past five years in metropolitan statistical areas throughout the US.”

Don’t Become Trapped

The study revealed that over the last five years, a typical rent rose 15%, while the income of renters grew by only 11%. If you are currently renting, this disparity in growth could get you caught up in a cycle where increasing rents continue to make it impossible for you to save for a necessary down payment.

The top 5 markets where renters have seen the highest increase in rents since 2009 are:

  • New York, NY (50.7%)
  • Seattle, WA (32.4%)
  • San Jose, CA (25.6%)
  • Denver, CO (24.1%)
  • St. Louis, MO (22.3%)

Homebuyers, who were able to purchase their home over the same five-year period and lock in their housing costs, were able to grow their net worth as home values have increased and their mortgage balances have gone down.

Know Your Options

Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. HousingWire reported that analysts at Nomura believe:

“It’s not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment. 

It’s that they think they’re not qualified or they think that they don’t have a big enough down payment.” (emphasis added)

According to Freddie Mac:

“Depending on their credit history and other factors, many borrowers can expect to make a down payment of about 5 to 10%. And new 3% down financing options for qualified borrowers could mean a down payment as little as $6,000 for a $200,000 home.”

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Have a professional help you determine if you are eligible to get a mortgage.

Homeownership is the “American Dream” for a Reason

Homeownership is the “American Dream” for a Reason | Simplifying The Market

There have been some who have voiced doubt as to whether or not the younger generations still consider buying a home as being part of the “American Dream”. A recent study by Merrill Lynch puts that doubt to rest. According to their research, every living generation still maintains that owning a home is in fact important. Here are the numbers:

American Dream STM

This should not surprise us as many studies have revealed the benefits enjoyed by the families who own their own home. One such study was done by the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University that addressed a major financial benefit to owning your own home: forced savings. The report explains:

“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”

The Merrill Lynch study proves this point with the following data on home equity (a form of savings):

Home Equity

Bottom Line

There are many reasons that owning a home makes sense. The financial reasons are powerful. As one participant in the Merrill Lynch study put it:

“When I was younger, I always worried about that monthly mortgage payment. Now that I am retired, I have the peace of mind of knowing I own my home free and clear.”

Thinking of Buying? What are you waiting for?

Thinking of Buying? What Are You Waiting For? | Simplifying The Market

If you are planning on becoming a homeowner, or moving up to the home of your dreams in 2015, here are four great reasons to consider buying a home now, instead of waiting until spring.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 11.7% (most pessimistic) and 27.5% (most optimistic).

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by the end of 2015.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

2015: A Year of Housing Opportunity

2015: A Year of Housing Opportunity | Simplifying The Market

Many believed that when the housing market crashed, so too would the desire of American’s to own a home again. Many reports have shown that, especially among younger generations, the American Dream of homeownership is still very much alive.

Julián Castro, Secretary for HUD, recently summed up what it means to own a home in a speech at the National Press Club.

"Homeownership is still the cornerstone of the American Dream — a fact you can see in the lives of everyday folks.

It’s a source of pride. It’s a source of wealth, providing both a nest and a nest egg. And it strengthens communities and fuels growth in the overall economy."

Castro appropriately named his speech, “2015: A Year of Housing Opportunity”, a theme that rang true throughout.

“Opportunity is not an abstract concept - it's a path to a more prosperous life, and housing often serves as its foundation. T.S. Elliot once said that "home is where one starts from."

“A home is often a primary source of wealth in a family… Having a home is generational way to pass that wealth on. We want people responsible enough to own a home to have that opportunity.”

Bottom Line

“Over the years-through decades of economic downturns and wars-the American people have always held on to this Dream, and always will.”

As the economy continues to improve, more and more Americans will qualify for homeownership, allowing more families to obtain the American Dream.

Either Way, You’re Paying a Mortgage

Either Way You're Paying a Mortgage | Simplifying The Market

There are some people that have not purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage - either your mortgage or your landlord’s.

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

Also, if you purchase with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, your ‘housing expense’ is locked in over the thirty years for the most part. If you rent, the one guarantee you will have is that your rent will increase over that same thirty year time period.

As an owner, the mortgage payment is a ‘forced savings’ which will allow you to have equity in your home you can tap into later in your life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person with that equity.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, owning might make more sense than renting since home values and interest rates are still lower than projected.