Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
(Read the full article here)
Not fixing your credit
Mortgage brokers say they're confounded at the number of buyers who apply for a mortgage with their fingers crossed, hoping their credit will allow them to qualify for a loan.
Before you even think about applying for a mortgage, obtain copies of your credit report and your FICO credit score. Your FICO score is the three-digit number that's used in 75% of mortgage-lending decisions. You can order your FICO score on the Web for a fee of $14.95, which includes a copy of your credit report.
Doing this at least six months in advance should give you plenty of time to challenge any errors on your report and ensure that they're removed by the time you're ready to apply for a loan. You can also see the legitimate factors that are hurting your score and do something about them, such as paying off an overdue bill or paying down credit card debt.
Not looking for first-time home buyers' programs
These programs, typically sponsored by state, county or city governments, often offer better interest rates and terms than you'll find among private lenders, said mortgage consultant Diane St. James. Some are tailored for people with damaged credit, while most can help people with little saved for a down payment.
Not getting pre-approved for a loan
Many first-time borrowers confuse being "pre-qualified" with being "pre-approved." Pre-qualification is a pretty casual process, where a lender tells you how much money you probably can borrow based on how much money you make, how much debt you already have and how much cash you have for the down payment.
Getting pre-approval, by contrast, is a much more rigorous process and involves actually applying for a loan. You typically submit tax returns, pay stubs and other information. The lender verifies the information and checks your credit. If all goes well, the lender agrees in writing to make the loan.
In a hot or even warm real estate market, the house hunter who is only pre-qualified is a cooked goose. Home sellers and their agents give much more weight to offers being made by buyers who already have a loan lined up. (Access Point Loans provides you with a free pre-approval, see the downloads section at the top of the blog.)
Borrowing too much money
Many people take out the biggest loan they possibly can, figuring that their incomes will eventually increase enough to make the payments comfortable. But few first-time buyers have any clear idea of how expensive homeownership can be. Not only will you shell out more for mortgage payments than you probably did for rent, but you'll also need to cover property taxes and homeowners insurance, as well as higher bills for utilities, maintenance and repairs than you faced as a renter.
Lenders are perfectly willing to let you overextend, knowing that you'll probably forgo vacations, retirement savings and new clothes for the kids rather than default on your mortgage.
"Mortgage money … is way too easy to get," said Ted Grose, president of the California Association of Mortgage Brokers. "People tend to overbuy … and that can really stress family life. It's also a formula for foreclosure." Instead of going to the edge of affordability, consider limiting your housing costs -- mortgage payments, property taxes and homeowners insurance -- to 25% or so of your gross income. That's a much more sustainable level for most people, financial planners say, than the 33% lenders are typically willing to give you.
Not having enough cash on hand after closing
After borrowing too much, and scraping together every last dime for closing costs, many home buyers have nothing left in the bank to pay for anything unforeseen happening --and something unforeseen always happens.
"It costs so much just to move in," Grose said. "Then the water heater breaks."
Some people are so tapped out by the process, Jackson said, that they're not able to make their first mortgage payment on time. That's why "more and more lenders are requiring [borrowers have] three months' reserves after closing," Jackson said.
That's a smart idea for borrowers, anyway. Having three months' reserves, which means a fund equal to three months' worth of expenses, will help you handle the added costs of homeownership with much less stress.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
What is Fannie Mae?
Fannie Mae is a financial services company on the New York Stock Exchange (FNM/NYSE) serving the American home mortgage industry. Fannie Mae offers banks and other mortgage lenders financing, credit guarantees, technology and services so lenders can make more home loans to more consumers.
Fannie Mae does not make home loans -- we help mortgage lenders serve homebuyers. By serving more than 1,000 lenders nationwide, large and small, Fannie Mae helps to make home financing more possible for families from all walks of life across America.
Fannie Mae also helps finance affordable housing and community development projects, working with local, state and national housing partners. (For example, we are a major investor in Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which help finance affordable rental housing.) Our goal is to help lenders and housing partners put more families into homes and keep their homes, and to expand the nation's stock of quality affordable housing.How does Fannie Mae help?
Many Americans still are being overlooked, underserved, and overcharged in their search for affordable homeownership and rental housing options. Fannie Mae is dedicated to helping our partners tear down barriers, lower costs, and increase the opportunities for homeownership and affordable rental housing options for low- to moderate-income individuals and families.
Fannie Mae maintains relationships with a wide range of housing partners, lenders, and other key players to meet specific affordable goals:
- Expand access to homeownership for first-time home buyers and help raise the minority homeownership rate with the ultimate goal of closing the homeownership gap entirely;
- Make homeownership and rental housing a success for families at risk of losing their homes;
- Expand the supply of affordable housing where it is needed most, which includes initiatives for workforce housing and supportive housing for the chronically homeless; and
- Transform targeted communities, including urban, rural and Native American, by channeling all the company’s tools and resources and aligning efforts with partners in these areas.
(Information taken from fanniemae.com)