Prepare to move fast

July 6, 2012

Stories such as the one featured on KCTV5 make our day. Homes are selling fast… homes that have been on the market FOREVER. Just watch for yourself:

KCTV 5: Homes Selling Fast

Not only does this mean that the market is slowly rebounding from the recent downfall, but it means great things for homeowners and homebuyers, too. In a healthy market, sellers may expect multiple offers on previously owned homes. And buyers need to be ready and move fast when they’ve found “the” home they want to purchase.

houses-in-kc-selling-fast

Home sales in KC speed up

Moving quickly to buy a home

Nothing is guaranteed in real estate and it’s not a one-size-fits-all industry. So many variables come into play – the sellers, the agents, the inspector, the appraiser and the mortgage lender. And while buying or selling a home is a harmonious synchronization of all of these players coming together toward a common goal – it can get convoluted in the midst. That’s why it’s important to take several smart steps when you’re on the hunt for a home:

Work with real estate professionals you trust.

Make sure to work with individuals who come with great reviews and referrals. Before you sign on to work with an agent, lender, inspector or more – do your homework. Do they have reviews online or testimonials on their website? Do friends or trusted acquaintances know them? We always recommend working with a local real estate professional – nobody else is going to know the market better. And it’s always a plus when you work within their network. If your agent is referring a lender or appraiser, it’s a good sign that they’ve done business with them in the past and historically had a smooth process.

Get a pre-approval letter.

As a lender, I encourage all homebuyers to have a pre-approval letter in-hand before they look at houses. Not only does this help limit your search (and save you time), but it also is a good sign to the sellers that you’re serious. A pre-approval shows that you’re in good financial standing to purchase a house, that you know what you can afford, and that it’s highly likely that the deal will go through under all foreseen circumstances.

Buying a house in Kansas City? Get pre-approved now.

Be prepared for the appraisals & inspections

Part of the home buying process includes appraisals and inspections. I specialize in government home loans (FHA, USDA & VA), which require appraisals as part of the home buying process… as well as termite inspections and more. Be prepared that once you’ve made an offer on a house, there are more processes to come. An appraisal is required to guarantee the property is eligible for your home loan. A home inspection is advised to protect you as the buyers before you make a large investment. Budget for these two expenses that will come your way, and be prepared to make time for them as part of the process.

Look into qualifying for government loans

There are several programs out there for buyers wanting to purchase a home without a conventional loan. Programs like USDA, FHA and VA can help reduce fees and down payments, and truly make home ownership an option for those who don’t qualify for “traditional” loans.

It’s an exciting time to buy a home! The market is healthy and rates are still low.

If you’re in Kansas City and ready to begin the home buying process, give a me a call to get pre-approved.


Buying A Home After Foreclosure

May 21, 2012

There was a fantastic article on MSNBC this week covering “From Foreclosure to Homeownership.” It talks about the growing number of homeowners buying homes once again after facing foreclosure, bankruptcy and/or short sales. As a mortgage lender, I’m encouraged to see the market turning and more families buying homes once again.

buying-home-after-foreclosure

Buying a home after a foreclosure may not be as difficult as you think.

Click here to read the article on foreclosure to homeownership.

FHA Loans Paving the Way

The article makes the case that FHA and government-backed loans (also including VA loans) have paved the way for more homeowners to buy houses. It even says that FHA loans and VA loans had most of the market share in 2011. While tax incentives have been given to first-time buyers, these loan programs are also helping past homeowners who faced foreclosures and short sales to buy houses again. And the incentives continue as seen by the  FHA’s reduced fees effective in June 2012. FHA loans have less stringent requirements than conventional loans (backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.) Plus, closing cost fees may be rolled into the cost of the loan and down payments can even be gifted.

Improving Credit After Foreclosure

A large reason many homeowners are able to buy homes again after a foreclosure is because of credit repair and restoration. Also, they’ve been able to prove to lenders the purpose of their foreclosure, such as job loss. I’ve helped many of my clients through this process. Taking careful steps to repair your credit after a foreclosure or bankruptcy can mean big payoffs in the end. Start by decreasing debt and avoid taking out any new loans. Also, pay bills on time and don’t spend more than you make. Not only could you qualify for a home loan sooner than you’d think, but the higher your credit score, the lower your mortgage rates.

Applying for an FHA Loan

If you’re interested in applying for an FHA loan, you’ll need to meet these guidelines:

  • at least 620 credit score
  • 3.5 percent down payment
  • FHA charges an upfront mortgage insurance premium (call me to learn of the current rate; this can be rolled into the total loan value.)

Buying a home after foreclosure or a short sale is possible … and it may not as as long of a journey as you think. Call me to find out if you qualify today.

Want to see if you qualify for an FHA Loan?

Call my Lee’s Summit Mortgage Office at (816) 875-6538


A Mortgage Lender’s Advice For The Class of 2012

May 11, 2012
By DariaRomanova (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A few financial pieces of advice for the graduating class of 2012

Ahh, it’s about that time. Time when students post nonstop status updates about finals. When coffee shops are full of college co-eds getting in just a few more hangouts. Time when job sites are jammed with entry-level openings for those leaving college and entering “the real world.” Yep, it’s graduation time.

As I see the napkins with graduation hats and plastic table decorations flashing “Class of 2012” line the aisles at Target these days, I can’t help but think about this graduating class and their future plans. Is buying a house the first thing on their minds right now? No, probably not. But one thing they probably don’t realize is what they choose to do now will impact their future in a big way… and even when it comes to home ownership.

A Mortgage Lender’s Advice to the College Graduate

The class of 2012 has a lot of promising days ahead. The Hiring Site posted an article about a survey of employers that said, “More than half (54 percent) plan to hire recent college graduates this year, an increase from 46 percent last year, 44 percent in 2010 and 43 percent in 2009.” The economy has been rough to college grads (ahem, and those in real estate) in the past couple of years, but finally in 2012 we’re starting to see a break. Employers are offering more money and on the hunt for new graduates once again this year.

Read the full article on Employers Planning to Hire 2012 Graduates

With so many newcomers entering the workforce in the next few months, I thought I’d throw my two cents of advice in there in case anyone’s looking for any more life advice right now. Here’s some of my advice for the college graduating class of 2012 as a mortgage lender that’s going to be getting many of these graduates into a new home sooner or later:

1. Get A Job – Yes, Seriously.

Of course you know you need a job, but I’ll be another voice for that cause alongside your parents. You need a job! And why? Not only so you can pay your bills and go to the movies (oh the college days.) But you also need a job to build up your credit score and employment record. Not too long from now you’re going to want to buy a house and your mortgage lender will want to see employment history and credit history:  two things that require a job in order to look promising. So, keep looking and keep your head up. Even if the offer you have isn’t your “dream job,” if it’s all you’ve got, consider taking it for the sake of getting your employment going.

2. Don’t Go Crazy With Your Paychecks

A lot of graduates are about to make more money than they’ve made in their entire life with their first jobs. However, I recommend being wise with your earnings and not go crazy. Spend wisely, make sure you take advantage of any investment options your company has, and spend within your means. Also, as you start making more, don’t see that as a license to acquire more by going into debt. Debt can hurt you, and especially when it comes to buy a house.

3. Renting Might Not Always Be the Best Option

Although you’re new out of college, if you know the area where you’d like to live you might consider buying a house sooner or later. Renting is a great option if you’re saving for a down payment or getting your feet wet with a new job or in a new area. And while some relocate for positions, others return home or go to areas in which they know they want to live and settle down. If you’ve got a good job and good savings, it might be worth checking into home ownership sooner than later. There are a lot of great programs out there for first time home buyers.

4. FHA Loans Can Have Gifted Down Payments

Going with point #3, if you know which area you’d like to live in and are already interested in buying a house, remember that FHA loans can have a gifted down payment. That might be a good option for your parents who are trying to figure out what to get you for graduation!

5. You’re Young. Meet with a Financial Consultant Early.

Last, I encourage all graduates to meet with a mortgage lender and/or financial planner early in their careers – not just when it comes time to make a move. I personally love to sit down with clients and give them a game plan for how to afford a house. (This is much better than helping repair credit after the fact!) If you’re young and interested in how to own a home one day, call me and I’ll help you understand what to do now in order to save for that day. It’s not as hard as you might thing – at least not as hard as landing that first job!


What’s a Streamline Refinance?

May 4, 2012

If you’ve been following the mortgage “buzz” lately, you might be hearing a lot about a “streamline refinance.” And if you’re an FHA loan-holder, this should definitely make your ears perk up a little bit! Keep reading to learn more….

Streamline Refinance

us-money-save-with-fha-refinance

Refinance your FHA loan through an easy, streamlined process! And, coming June 2012 - save lots of money while you're at it!

If you have an FHA loan, you might be applicable for a streamline refinance. This means that you can refinance your current FHA loan with a very simple process. Unlike the standard refis or even loan application process, streamlining your FHA loan means:

  • You do NOT need an appraisal on your home
  • You do NOT need to verify your income or employment
  • Your credit score will NOT be pulled

And if you’re like many other homeowners in America right now, this is probably sounding very appealing by now!

FHA Streamline Refinance Changes Coming in June 2012

The better news is that not only does an FHA streamline refinance make things easy, but changes are coming to save you even more money effective June 2012! Someone in Washington must have recognized the need for more FHA loan holders to refinance because changes are a’coming. Big changes that will make this process even easier for and save you thousands. Read our post here for specifics on the FHA program fee changes in 2012. But for a brief overview:

  • PMI payments can go down.
  • Up-front costs will be dropping to very, very minimal fees
  • You must have an existing FHA loan originated on or before May 29, 2009

As a local lender in Kansas City, I love to see programs rolled out like this. It’s helping many struggling to afford their mortgages (or looking for a break on their payments) to easily apply and take advantage of lower interest rates right now.

Please call me if you’re in the Kansas City area and my team and I will walk you through the FHA streamline refinance process!


FHA Changes Fees Effective June 2012

April 3, 2012

Good news FHA loan holders – a little extra cash might be coming your way as the government has just changed FHA fee streamline refinance structure to get you spending more in the economy … and less on your mortgage.

Effective this June, the mortgage insurance on an FHA will be dropping, and many FHA loan holders will be able to refinance at crazy low rates. Which means if you pay PMI insurance, you’ll see even reduced fees! And who doesn’t like that?

fha-streamline-refinance-june-2012

Good news, FHA loan holders - your streamline refinance fees are going DOWN!


If you’re looking for the “basics” on how this will work, here’s my boiled-down version:

  • Starting mid-June 2012, the FHA is lowering the mortgage insurance premium from .096 percent to .046 percent. Which means your monthly PMI payments can go down if you refinance under this program.
  • If you are up-to-date on your current FHA mortgage, you may apply for an FHA refinance.
  • The up-front mortgage insurance premium will also be lowered to only .01, meaning that many people can now apply to refinance an FHA loan without having to come up with a few thousand before signing (or rolling that into the home loan.) Now, it will only cost you maybe $10-20 up-front, depending on the purchase price.
  • This will save you thousands of dollars.
  • This applies to loans where you want to “streamline” the refinance – meaning you have an existing FHA loan. (those who qualify must have an existing loan originated on or before May 29, 2009.)

Oh… and to Qualify for an FHA Streamline Refinance:

  • You need to ALREADY HAVE an FHA loan.
  • You DO NOT need to verify employment.
  • You DO NOT need to verify income.
  • You DO NOT need a credit score pulled.
  • You DO NOT need an appraisal.

Contact us to see if you qualify for the new FHA June 2012 Refinance program in Missouri!

For more Information about the FHA Streamline Refinance Changes in June 2012:

Washington Post: Mortgage cutoff date a deterrent to refinance

North Carolina Realtors: FHA Streamline Refinance (great info, disregard the state-specific stuff)

The Mortgage Reports: FHA Streamline Refinance: Complete Mortgage Guidelines


Think Before you Buy A Home

August 25, 2011

Is buying a home right for everyone? Review these ten questions before you make the big offer.

With record-breaking mortgage rates, a flood of short sales and even some great foreclosures on the market, many prospective home buyers out there are getting ready to buy a home and “strike while the iron is hot.”

But as suggested in this CNN MONEY article, prospective buyers need not purchase a house on a whim, and seriously consider if buying a home is right for them. The article recommends home buyers consider the following points as they prepare for the home ownership process.

1. Don’t buy a house if you can’t stay put. Plan to live in the house for at least several years.

2. Fix your credit first. This will help you get a better mortgage rate.

3. Buy a home you can really afford – not one that you’ll be stretching to make payments and not afford anything else.

4. You may still qualify for a loan even if you can’t put down 20%. Check out FHA loans, or VA loans for veterans.

5. Buy in a district with good schools. There are several great school districts in the Kansas City suburban areas.

6. Get professional real estate help to buy a house.

7. Carefully evaluate the points and rate on your mortgage. It may be worth taking the points to get a lower rate.

8. Get pre-approved for your mortgage before house hunting.

9. Research nearby housing bidding prices before making your bid.

10. Hire a home inspector before finalizing the purchase of the house.


Down Payment Assistance on FHA Loans

August 1, 2011

FHA loans are a very attractive option for families with low to moderate incomes. FHA loans allow borrowers to put less than 20% down on a home loan (required by many conventional loans). Additionally, the funds for down payments can be a gift, come from charity and/or employers. (Loans that require zero percent down are VA loans and USDA loans, but strict qualification guidelines apply.)

Put 3.5% Down with FHA Loans

FHA loans are backed by the US Housing Department (HUD) and help American families buy a home without large down payments. Families can own a home by putting as little as 3.5% of the total cost of the home down. But even for some families, coming up with the 3.5% down payment is a financial stretch. Understanding this hurdle, FHA loans also include the option of having the down payment being a gift from family or charity. The HUD desires to assist families with home ownership and offers a great gift-giving option.

Family Gifts for FHA Loans

FHA loan programs allow you to receive a gift from a family member for your FHA loan down payment. The gift must be deposited into your bank account, and proof of the deposit must be presented for the loan. Gifts from non-family member are not accepted; the gift giver must be related.

Employer and Charity Gifts for FHA Loans

If you do not have relatives available to assist you with your FHA loan down payment, FHA loans will also accept gifts from employers and charity. Discuss the documentation needed with your mortgage lender if you’d like to pursue this option.

FHA Loans

FHA loans have helped many home owners buy the home of their dreams. If you’d like help buying a home or would like to pre-apply for a home loan in Missouri, please contact our team at LeaderOne Financial today!