4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

I had to share this article – with our Fall Real Estate Market starting now – it’s a good time to think about your budget if you are planning on becoming a home owner!  I find so many buyers thinking about the house they want before they consider the impact of home ownership on their day to day finances.  Taking time now, before you house shop, to put your financial house in order – will help your chances in this competitive market today!  Enjoy – Sabrina

4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

By knowing how much mortgage you can handle, you can ensure that home ownership will fit in your budget.

1. The general rule of mortgage affordability

As a rule of thumb, you can typically afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. If you earn $100,000, you can typically afford a home between $200,000 and $300,000.

To understand how that rule applies to your particular financial situation, prepare a family budget and list all the costs of homeownership, like property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care costs.

2. Factor in your downpayment

How much money do you have for a downpayment? The higher your downpayment, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you put down at least 20% of the home’s cost, you may not have to get private mortgage insurance, which costs hundreds each month. That leaves more money for your mortgage payment.

The lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for and the higher your monthly mortgage payment.

3. Consider your overall debt

Lenders generally follow the 28/41 rule. Your monthly mortgage payments covering your home loan principal, interest, taxes, and insurance shouldn’t total more than 28% of your gross annual income. Your overall monthly payments for your mortgage plus all your other bills, like car loans, utilities, and credit cards, shouldn’t exceed 41% of your gross annual income.

Here’s how that works. If your gross annual income is $100,000, multiply by 28% and then divide by 12 months to arrive at a monthly mortgage payment of $2,333 or less. Next, check the total of all your monthly bills including your potential mortgage and make sure they don’t top 41%, or $3,416 in our example.

4. Use your rent as a mortgage guide

The tax benefits of homeownership generally allow you to afford a mortgage payment—including taxes and insurance—of about one-third more than your current rent payment without changing your lifestyle. So you can multiply your current rent by 1.33 to arrive at a rough estimate of a mortgage payment.

Here’s an example. If you currently pay $1,500 per month in rent, you should be able to comfortably afford a $2,000 monthly mortgage payment after factoring in the tax benefits of homeownership. 

However, if you’re struggling to keep up with your rent, consider what amount would be comfortable and use that for the calcuation instead.

Also consider whether or not you’ll itemize your deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t also deduct mortgage interest payments. Talking to a tax adviser, or using a tax software program to do a “what if” tax return, can help you see your tax situation more clearly.

By: G. M. Filisko

I read this article at:  http://members.houselogic.com/articles/4-tips-determine-how-much-mortgage-you-can-afford/preview/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

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The Importance of Working with a Good Lender

The Importance of Working with a Good Lender – by Sabrina

Buying a home is serious business; especially on the San Francisco Peninsula where even a one bedroom condo can run about half a million bucks.

And in an industry where time is money and money talks, from time to time I will encounter a lender – that offers great rates and low fees – upfront.  And no customer service when you really need it.

Much too often a buyer is tempted to get the best rate – without really considering the whole picture.

Unless you are paying cash – the home loan is the most important aspect of buying a home – aside from the home itself.

So when taking into account that a home is generally the largest purchase of a person’s life – shouldn’t we work with a bank that treats it with the same respect?  YES!

There are hundreds of steps from finding the home to getting the keys.  The loan is probably the largest hurdle aside from home inspections.

Once a buyer’s contract is accepted by the seller – it’s rush time.  Most offers have a time frame – called a contingency period – to have the bank do their appraisal and have the loan/purchase terms reviewed and approved by underwriting.  It can be as long as 17 days in a buyers market – or as short as 5 days in a sellers market.  And this is where we separate the men from the boys.  Some of these out of state or on-line lenders are not located here – where one is buying – and it can be extremely difficult to get information and approvals done when they close shop at 5pm and it’s only 2pm here!

That friendly voice that quoted a buyer a fantastic rate isn’t calling us back anymore…..and when they do it’s often not what we were hoping to hear.  For example, they need more time to review the file – therefore we need to push back the close of escrow date – which seems easy – but again – time is money.   The seller is expecting the buyer to perform to the terms of the contract and it’s not worth losing a home due to a lackluster lender…..and changing lenders mid way is generally not an option.

So – what can a buyer do to be competitive?  Work with a local lender.  Once your credit is pulled the first time – a consumer has 30 days to loan shop without hurting their credit score.  So do it!  Loan shop the whole month and find the best rate, the best fees and make sure the lender is attentive, local and can move at the pace the current market is dictating.

The Caton Team has a list of Client Approved Lenders – so please reach out to us and we’ll introduce you to the team.

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  What can we do for you?

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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Please enjoy my personal journey through home ownership at:

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

6 Tips for a Successful Loan Modification

Below is a great article I read from Inman News that I thought I would share regarding loan modifications.  Please enjoy…

Got Questions?  The Caton Team is a click away – email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com

 

6 tips for a successful loan mod

Avoid rookie mistakes when preparing, submitting your document packageMillions of mortgage borrowers who can no longer afford their mortgage payments but can afford a lower payment can avoid foreclosure by getting a modification of their loan contract. While the path to a modification remains torturous, it is not quite as bad as when I wrote addressed the issue in a 2009 column.

Are you unqualified?

It is not possible for borrowers acting on their own to determine whether they qualify for a modification because they don’t have access to all the criteria. Some is kept under wraps by loan servicers. However, borrowers can determine that they are not qualified for a government-supported modification by accessing aquestionnaire provided by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Bear in mind, however, that servicers also offer modifications outside of the government’s program. You might qualify for one even if you don’t meet the government’s requirements.

Compiling the information the servicer wants

The single most important step in obtaining a loan modification is providing the servicer with the exact information the servicer needs to make a decision. Each servicer has its own set of forms that must be completed, and its own requirements for the documentation you must provide.

In my first stab at this problem, I placed the information required by each of the major servicers on my website. Now borrowers can access the DMM Document Wizard, provided at my request by Default Mitigation Management LLC, which is a lot better. Based on your answers to the questions it asks, you will be provided with a customized list of forms you must complete and documents you must provide. It is free and will take the guesswork out of what you need.

Don’t exaggerate your financial shortcomings

Warning: The servicer will examine your statements of income and expenses to determine whether you can afford a reduced payment. Exaggerating your financial weaknesses may open his heart but close his purse, if it makes you appear to be a lost cause.

Assuring accuracy

Having the right form is one thing, but filling it out correctly is something else. Some industry executives estimate that about 95 percent of all packages submitted are incomplete or contain errors. A package with obvious errors may fall to the bottom of the pile, or it may lead the servicer to conclude that you do not qualify for a loan modification when, in fact, you do. Remember what you were taught in second grade: Neatness counts!

In addition:

1. Use a cover sheet that identifies all documents in your package.

2. Write your name and loan number on every page.

Assuring delivery

Preparing an accurate and complete set of documents is one thing, but delivering the package to the servicer is something else. Servicer systems have been overwhelmed by requests for help, and documents routinely get “lost.” You want to minimize the chances of that happening to you.

Using fax or certified mail: Make sure you have the correct contact information. Treasury providesaddresses and fax numbers of every mortgage servicer. Certified mail is more reliable than fax, but neither guarantees prompt attention by the servicer, or even that the documents won’t subsequently be misplaced or lost.

Using the DMM portal: The best way to deliver documents to servicers is to use the DMM portal, available through the DMM Document Wizard by clicking on “Submit,” or visit www.dclmwp.com. I have no financial interest in DMM.

Using the portal, your documents are delivered to the servicer electronically, and the portal then becomes a direct communication channel to the servicer. The servicer uses the portal to acknowledge receipt of your documents and to request additional information or documents. You use the portal to make corrections, to send additional information, and to update yourself on what has been completed and what remains to be done.

Questions by you are automatically directed to the specific employee who can answer them. All communications are time-stamped and remain in the portal as a record of borrower/servicer exchanges.

Unfortunately, not every servicer subscribes to the DMM Portal. The list of those that do is shown on the DMM Wizard.

Follow up, and then follow up again

Because the process of modifying mortgages remains slow and error-prone, you may need to nudge the servicer. If you faxed your documents, you should follow up to make sure the papers haven’t been lost and the case is in an active queue. But even if you use the DMM Portal, you should follow up with the servicer regularly to make sure your application is on track.

By Jack Guttentag
Inman News®

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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A Quick Review on Short Sales

SHORT SALES

What is a “Short Sale”?

A short sale is a property that will go into foreclosure if not sold before the three month “non-payment mark” and “notice of default” is filed. When an owner is in distress and they know they can no longer afford their mortgage    payment – they should contact their Realtor and their bank immediately to discuss the possibility of the bank receiving less than what is owed. The term “short sale” refers to the agreement that the bank will accept less than the amount of the loan they have on the property. This course of action is the last chance an owner has to get out of the loan and keep their head above water. A bank will not agree to a short sale if the owner has other assets they can   liquidate to bring the loan current.

Why Would a Bank Accept a Short Sale?

Banks would much rather not hold foreclosed property. And in a short sale they will probably receive more money than at a foreclosure sale. However, not all owners will qualify for a short sale agreement. The circumstances around a short sale vary. For example, perhaps through a job loss or other reason they have been unable to make regular     mortgage payments and that balance due plus late fees are added to the total loan amount. Suddenly the owner may owe more on their loan than the home can sell for. If the owner forecasts that they can no longer manage their monthly payments they will need to contact their bank in advance to    begin negotiations. However, the owner cannot have any other assets available. If so, those resources will have to be exhausted first before the bank will agree to a short sale. In this case, before the 3-month mark of    foreclosure – the owner can place the home on the market and see how much they get. The home will be listed by a Realtor and advertised as a short sale – where time is very much of the essence. Interested buyers will need to act quickly in order to purchase before foreclosure proceedings begin.

Another reason a short sale can become an option is when, due to market changes, a seller owes more on the property than it is currently worth. For example – Let’s say the owner purchased the home 2 years ago and paid top dollar for it. Since buying a home is a long-term investment; 2 years generally doesn’t give the owner time for the property to appreciate. Suddenly, for whatever reason, they are unable to make their monthly mortgage payment and cannot sell their property for what they purchased it for. They find themselves “upside down”. Meaning the market has changed and the value of the property has dropped from where it was when they purchased it. As professional Realtors – we advise our clients when purchasing a property that they will need to hold their investment for a minimum of 5 years to see appreciation. In this particular case, no matter what, the loan on the property is greater than what the home can be sold for. If the bank agrees, the home will be listed by a Realtor and advertised as a short sale where interested parities will need to act quickly before foreclosure proceedings begin.

Why Should a Buyer Consider Purchasing a Short Sale?

Because the clock is ticking on short sales – it can be very advantageous for the new buyer to purchase under these   circumstances. Short sales are no fault of the property. Your Realtor will do a comparative market analysis to inform you of current home values to help you better decide your purchase price. Although disclosures and inspections may not be available for the property – the opportunity to perform inspections is allowed by the bank. Time is of the  essence, so a buyer will have to act quickly. The bank has agreed for a limited time to take the highest offer received – there is the opportunity for the buyer to purchase the property at below market value – thus having instant equity.

Before you get involved with a short sale purchase or sale – consult a Real Estate Attorney and a professional Realtor.

For all your real estate questions please contact The Caton Team  Email:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com  Website:  http://thecatonteam.com/

 

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To read my personal journey through homeownership – visit http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/  Enjoy!