Your Home is a Hedge Against Inflation

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The concern about inflation is the sustained upward movement in the overall price of goods and services while the purchasing value of money decreases. Tangible assets like your home consistently become more valuable over time. In inflationary periods, your home is a good investment and a hedge against inflation.

Money in the bank loses purchasing power due to inflation and the interest you may be earning is almost always less than inflation.

Home prices are going up but so is rent. With mortgage rates near historic lows, the interest is, generally, less than the appreciation the property is enjoying. Combine this with the leverage that occurs using borrowed funds to control an asset and your equity is most likely, growing at a faster rate than inflation.

A 90% mortgage at 3.5% for 30-years on a $400,000 home that appreciates at 4% a year will have an estimated equity of $220,000 in seven years due to appreciation and amortization. That is a 27.5% annual rate of return on the down payment. That is a significant hedge against a current inflation of 4%.

If a person were to put that same $40,000 in a certificate of deposit that earned 2%, it would be worth only $45,947 in seven years. If it was invested in the stock market that earned 7% annually, the $40,000 would grow to $64,231. The equity in the example for the home would be almost 3.5 times larger.

The assets that are considered to be good bets against inflation include some bonds, gold and other commodities and real estate. Another distinct advantage of investing in a home is that you would be able to live there with your family and enjoy it which is not possible with bonds and commodities.

There are certainly other considerations in a comparison like this such as maintenance, but it could be offset, at least partially, by the cost of housing being less than you would be paying for comparable rent. And with the shortage of rental units available, the rent will certainly continue to increase annually where your housing costs are fixed with the exceptions of increases in property taxes and insurance.

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Why is the APR higher than the interest rate?

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Annual percentage rate is a calculation to accurately reflect the cost of the mortgage considering the note rate of interest, financing fees and charges based on the term of the mortgage.

Annual percentage rate, APR, calculates the interest rate and loan fees over the life of the loan expressed as a rate. A mortgage has a quoted interest rate plus a specified number of points which may be paid at closing or rolled into the loan, in some instances.

For example, a $400,000 loan amount at 2.98% interest for 30-years with 0.7 points would have an annual percentage rate of 3.0349%. While the mortgage rate is quoted at 2.98%, the borrower must additionally pay 0.7 points or slightly less than one percent of the amount borrowed as a fee to the lender in consideration of making the loan.

This increases the yield to the lender on what they are earning by making this loan and is expressed as the annual percentage rate for the benefit of the buyer.

Since the lender is required to include all the loan fees being charged in the APR calculation, if the seller is paying some of those fees on behalf of the buyer, the APR would not accurately reflect the cost to the buyer.

The lender is required to disclose the APR to the borrower in the Truth in Lending document referred to a TILA. Your mortgage officer will be able to answer any specific questions regarding what is included.

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There’s more to it than you might think

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There is more to selling a home than you might think. Superficially, a person might think that it will sell itself currently because, nationally, homes for sale receive 3.6 offers and they sell within 18 days.

Any business student can probably list the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. It may appear that there isn’t much to selling a home: put a price on it; photograph it; put a sign in the yard; and, put it in MLS but, on closer scrutiny, there is a lot more that the best agents provide.

Long before the home goes on the market, the agent will create a detailed value and pricing study based on similar homes in size, price, proximity, and condition. An overpriced home will sit on the market longer than it should. The longer it stays on the market, buyers, as well as other agents, begin to wonder if there is something wrong with it.

The agent will develop a staging and declutter plan to make the house show at its best because first impressions matter and this type of effort provides a neutral canvas for buyers to start imagining their things in the home.

The marketing plan is a comprehensive strategy to consider every aspect of selling the home with the focus being to maximize efforts to get the highest possible price, in the shortest time with the fewest unanticipated events.

The individual marketing materials need to present the home in its best light. It begins with professional photos because today’s buyers will most likely, first see the home online and if the pictures don’t make the property look good, they may decide not to see it. In addition, those photos will be used on the brochures for the home and just listed announcements, as well as social media. They are crucial.

Among the most important value the agent brings to the table is their negotiation experience. Every phase of the sale involves negotiation and the position of third-party negotiator eliminates an uncomfortable situation for sellers having to deal directly with buyers, other agents, appraisers, inspectors, and lenders. Your listing agent will be your champion.

The following list includes typical things that most professionals will provide. When interviewing an agent, feel comfortable to ask questions regarding their position on these items. Another item you might find helpful is our Sellers Guide.

Listing Presentation

  • Create Value/Pricing Study
  • Staging/DeClutter Plan
  • Develop Marketing Plan
  • Document Preparation

Marketing

  • Professional photos
  • Property Description
  • Lockbox
  • Sign
  • MLS & Portals
  • Flyers
  • Showings
  • Open Houses
  • Answer phones
  • Just Listed/Just Sold
  • Prospect for buyers
  • Weekly Follow-up – Seller
  • Inquiry phone calls
  • Pre-qualify buyers
  • Maintain files

Negotiations

  • Meet with buyer’s agent
  • Write & Review contract
  • Net sheet
  • Present offer
  • Negotiate

Pending

  • Inspections
  • Appraiser
  • Resolve Issues
  • Review Escrow Statement
  • Track buyer’ loan progress
  • Coordinate closing
  • Documents Review
  • Attend final inspection
  • Attend settlement
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Will Soft Inquiries Hurt Your Credit Score?

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Soft inquiries, sometimes known as a soft credit check or a soft credit pull, do not impact your credit scores because they are not attached to a specific application for credit. They can occur when a credit card issuer or mortgage lender checks a person’s credit for preapproval purposes.

Examples of soft inquiries are when you check your own credit or one of your current creditors checks your credit. If you are concerned about the negative impact on your score, specify to the lender that you want a “soft pull” to see if you qualify for preapproval.

Soft inquiries may appear on your credit report but should not adversely affect your credit score.

Consumers are entitled to one free copy from each major credit bureau, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, once every twelve months available at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Hard inquiries occur when a borrower makes a new application for credit. These will impact your credit score and will remain on your credit report for about two years. The impact is usually minimal and scores tend to rebound within a few months if no new negative information appears.

Borrowers may be concerned about multiple inquiries when they are shopping for rates or even approvals. Scoring models have algorithms to account for this situation if the inquires take place in a 14 to 45-day period.

Even a hard inquiry should not necessarily concern you and probably, will only play a minor role in your score. Soft inquiries, regardless of how many you may have will not impact your score.

Working with a trusted mortgage professional and sharing your concerns in advance of the “hard pull” is valuable. This mortgage professional may even be able to advise you on some things that could improve your credit score which may actually improve your score which could result in qualifying for a lower rate that could save thousands and possibly, tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

Your real estate professional can recommend a trusted mortgage professional to you.

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Paying Down Your Mortgage

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When the situation arises that you have a lump sum of cash to pay down your existing mortgage, there may be different options available. Pre-paying principal on a fixed-rate mortgage shortens the term of the mortgage but the payment stays the same.

Conversely, recasting a mortgage with a lump-sum principal payment lowers the principal and interest payment but leaves the term intact with the same payoff date.

The interest rate on the mortgage will stay the same regardless. Prepaying principal can be done at any time but may not be applied until the next payment date. Recasting cannot be done within the first 90-days of a mortgage.

Pre-paying principal is like driving faster on a trip to a specific destination to get you there sooner. Recasting/Re-amortization gets you to the destination at the same estimated time of arrival but using less fuel.

Most loans allow you to pre-pay principal, but recasting is not allowed on FHA, VA, and GNMA. If you have a conventional loan, check with your lender to see if it is possible.

Contact your mortgage servicer for specific information on pre-paying or recasting your mortgage before acting.

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In Search of a Big Mortgage

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The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan limits are adjusted annually to keep up with cost of living but with the appreciation experienced in many markets, it may not be enough. When the conforming loan limit is not enough, qualified buyers can turn to a jumbo loan.

The maximum loan limit on conforming, conventional loans for 2022 is $625,000 for a single-family home but is increased up to $937,500 for designated high price areas. The underwriting guidelines for conforming loans are consistent with regards to things like minimum down payment, private mortgage insurance, debt-to-income ratio, minimum credit score and cash reserves required.

Jumbo loans are loans more than the FNMA maximum limits and are considered non-conforming loans. This allows lenders to set their own requirements on maximum loan amount, minimum required credit score, maximum debt-to-income ratio, and minimum down payment.

The rates paid on the jumbo loans may be the same as conforming loan rates. It might sound logical that a larger loan would have more risk and therefore, be priced higher. Lenders do not sell jumbo loans to FNMA which saves them the guarantee fee normally required. This makes the jumbo loan more profitable. Borrowers are encouraged to shop the rates.

A minimum credit score of 700 will probably be required together with a debt-to-income ratio below 45%. While many borrowers seeking a jumbo may be putting 20% down, it is possible to find a lender who may only require 10% down payment. Lenders may be more lenient with regards to mortgage insurance.

Lenders may also require six to twelve months of cash reserves due to the increased risk of the larger loan amount.

It is a common practice for banks to make jumbo loans to attract other business that the borrower might be able to influence like company, corporate, or investment accounts.

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Credit Utilization Affects Your Score

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Credit utilization reflects how much of your available credit is being used at a given time. Lower credit utilization indicates that a borrower is not heavily relying on their credit and that they are using their credit responsibly.

Is calculated by dividing your total credit card balances by your total limits. The higher the percentage, the higher the risk which adversely affects the credit score according to most of the companies. It is recommended that your credit utilization be under 30% to positively impact your credit score.

If the available limit on a credit card is $12,000 and their normal monthly balance is around $3,000, they have a credit utilization of 25%. If for whatever reason, the borrower’s available limit was reduced to $6,000, and their long history of having a monthly balance of $3,000, the ratio, then, increases to 50% which will likely lower their credit score.

For borrowers who use more than 30% of their available credit and regularly pay off the bill each month, they should consider making payments toward the balance more frequently, like every two weeks. This keeps the balance lower, and, in many cases, the card issuer will only report the credit activity once a month to the credit bureau, usually on the monthly closing date of the account.

Another option may be to use multiple cards, if they are available, for the purchases during the month. Based on the limits of each card, this could result in lower utilization on a single card.

You could also ask for your available credit to be increased. Assuming you have a good history of paying on time, this may be an easy fix. Before doing this, ask if it could negatively impact your credit score because it will be reported as a hard inquiry on your credit.

If you are trying to improve your score to qualify for a mortgage, consult with a trusted mortgage professional who can advise you specifically for your situation. If you would like a recommendation, please contact mePeteDotyDenver.

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Larger Payment, Shorter Term, Bigger Savings

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Some people consider a house payment as basic as monthly utilities but with a plan and some discipline, you can be mortgage free.

Consider a person borrowed $300,000 at 3% for 30 years, the principal and interest payment would be $1,264.81 and at the end of 12 years, the unpaid balance on the mortgage would be $210,900.

If that same person had financed the home on a 15-year term at 2.5%, the payments would have been $2,000 but the unpaid balance at the end of 12 years would be $69,310. The homeowner will have a larger equity but they have also had to make higher payments.

15-year mortgages usually have a lower interest rate than the 30-year loans and at the time this article was written, the difference in a 30-year loan was about 0.5%. A 15-year loan gives the lender their money back in half the time. If rates go up during the interim, they will be able to loan it at the higher rate sooner. For that reason, they are usually willing to offer a slightly lower rate on the shorter term.

Having a lower rate means paying less interest but another remarkable thing happens, lower interest rate loans amortize faster than higher rate loans.

30-year 15-year
$300,000 mortgage for 30 years 3% 2.5%
Monthly payment $1,264.81 $2,000
Unpaid balance at end of 12 years $210,900 $69,310
Increased equity $141,590
Additional monthly payment $735.56
Additional total payments for 12 years $105,920
Savings $35,670

This recognized wealth building technique with higher payments, saves interest and retires the mortgage sooner. The shorter-term mortgage requires a commitment to make the higher payments each month rather than giving the borrower flexibility to spend or invest the difference each month for as long as the loan is in place.

To make you own calculations, go to the 30yr vs. 15yr Comparison.

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Have you checked these lately?

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Homeowners know the need to periodically check certain things around the home to ensure that things operate properly and efficiently. If maintenance is required, it may be less expensive to take care of it early rather than waiting until it is not working at all.

Checklists are helpful because it requires little effort to know what must be done. They are usually concise and provide enough information to complete the task. These items apply to most homeowners but in no way offer a comprehensive list.

  1. Vacuum dryer exhaust … not only does it affect the efficiency of your dryer itself, the accumulation of lint along with the hot air can ignite and create a fire hazard.
  2. Replace HVAC filters 4 to 6 times a year … This is one DIY project that almost everyone should feel confident in handling. Locate the filter, make a note of the size, and keep replacements available. Turn off the unit, open the door or housing, remove the dirty filter, and replace it with the new one. Pay attention to the direction of the air flow; filters are marked to indicate the correct direction.
  3. Test all GFCI breakers. – GFCI breakers, as well as outlets, have a test button on them. Pressing the test button should cause the breaker to trip which shuts off all power to the entire circuit. To reset the breaker, push it completely to off and then, back to on.
  4. Vacuum refrigerator coils … Coils on refrigerators can be in different places depending on the model and manufacturer. Locate the coils and clean the dirt and dust from them using a soft bristle brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush.
  5. Replace batteries in smoke detectors … smoke detectors should be tested monthly by pushing the test button. Annually, the batteries should be replaced, even if they appear to still have life in them. After replacing the batteries, test the smoke detector to see if it is functioning properly.
  6. Check windows and doors for leaks … There are several ways to check for leaks. One method used on a cold day would be to hold your hand a few inches from the window or door frame to feel for drafts. Another method would be to light a candle and trace the outline of the window or door to see if the flame or smoke pull in one direction, indicating an air leak.
  7. Inspect all sprinkler system stations to see if heads are leaking or need adjusting. … Manually, turn on each of the stations and look at each sprinkler that is running to see if it is leaking or if it is properly covering the area intended.
  8. Check garage door opener to see that safety features engage properly … Place a cardboard box in line of one of the sensors before trying to close the door. The door should reverse itself after sensing the obstruction.
  9. Check and clean fireplace(s) annually, if used … this may be a job that you want to have someone else do but you may be able to recognize indicators that the chimney needs cleaning. These things include evidence of birds or animals; fireplace smells like a campfire; smoke fills the room; difficulty starting or keeping a fire going; the fireplace walls have oily marks; the damper is black with soot and creosote. The frequency of use on wood burning fireplaces will impact the need for cleaning.

If you need a recommendation of a service provider for repairs, contact me PeteDotyDenver with what you are looking for. I’ll get back to you quickly.

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Uncle IRRRL wants to refinance your VA loan

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You don’t have to have an Uncle IRRRL but you must be a veteran with a current VA-backed home loan. IRRRL is an acronym for Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan. To refinance with this program, also called the VA Streamline, the loan must provide a net tangible benefit (NTB) which would be in the financial interest of the Veteran.

Obtaining a lower interest rate is usually the reason behind refinancing but there needs to be enough difference in the current and the new mortgage to justify the expenses incurred. Significantly lower payments or a shorter term are examples of acceptable benefit.

The Veteran must currently have a VA-backed home loan to refinance using this program. The Veteran does not have to currently live in the home as long as it can be certified that he or she did at one time.

In most cases, an appraisal is not necessary and less verifications are required. A minimum 640 credit score is needed, and borrower must be current on their payments with no 30-day late payments in the previous 12-months. A two-year employment history is required.

There are expenses associated with the IRRRL but they can be rolled into the loan balance. The VA funding fee, required on new VA loans for purchases or refinances is lower on the IRRRL at 0.5%. Disabled Veterans and qualifying surviving spouses refinancing under this program are exempt from the VA funding fee.

This program is not available for a cash-out refinance. There is a $6,000 exception for additional funds to pay energy improvements completed 90-days prior to closing. Your lender can provide more information for you.

If you are a Veteran and considering a refinance, ask your mortgage professional about this program. If you need a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional who is experienced in VA loans, give me a call at (303) 880-5585 or PeteDotyDenver.

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