Financing 101

Mortgage Financing

6 Creative Ways to Afford a Home

If your income and savings are making home buying a challenge, consider these options.

1. Investigate local, state, and national down payment assistance programs. These programs give loans or grants to cover all or part of your required down payment.

2. Get the seller to provide financing. In some cases, sellers may be willing to finance all or part of the purchase price of the home and let you repay them gradually, just as you do with a mortgage.

3. Consider a shared-appreciation, or shared equity, arrangement. Under this arrangement, your family, friends, or even an third-party may buy a portion of the home and thus share in any appreciation when the home is sold. The owner/occupant usually pays the mortgage, property taxes, and maintenance costs, but all the investors’ names are usually on the mortgage. There are companies that can help you find such an investor if your family can’t participate.

4. Get help from your family. Perhaps a family member will loan you money for the down payment and/or act as a cosigner for the mortgage. Lenders often like to have a cosigner if you have little credit history.

5. Lease with the option to buy. Renting the home for a year or more will give you the chance to save more toward your down payment. And in many cases, owners will apply some of the rental amount toward the purchase price. You usually have to pay a small, nonrefundable option fee to the owner.

6. See if you can qualify for a short-term second mortgage to give you the money to make a higher down payment. This may be possible if you have a good income and little other debt.

Courtesy of National Association of REALTORS® real estate

10 Questions to Ask Your Lender

Be sure you find a loan that fits your needs with these comprehensive questions.

1. What are the most popular mortgage loans you make? Why?

2. Which type of mortgage plan do you think would best for us? Why?

3. Are your rates, terms, fees, and closing costs negotiable?

4. Will I have to buy private mortgage insurance? If so how much will it cost and how long will it be required? NOTE: Private mortgage insurance is usually required if you make less than a 20-percent down payment, but most lenders will let you discontinue the policy when you’ve acquired a certain amount of equity by paying down the loan.

5. Who will service the loan? Your bank or another company?

6. What escrow requirements do you have?

7. How long is your loan lock-in period (the time that the quoted interest rate will be honored)? Will I be able to obtain a lower rate if they drop during this period?

8. How long will the loan approval process take?

9. How long will it take to close the loan?

10. Are there any charges or penalties for prepaying the loan?

Used with permission from Real Estate Checklists & Systems, www.realestatechecklists.com.

Courtesy of National Association of REALTORS® financing

Choices That Will Affect Your Loan

 

  • Mortgage term. Mortgages are generally available at 15-, 20-, or 30-year terms. The longer the term, the lower the monthly payment if the same amount is borrowed. However, you pay more interest overall if you borrow for a longer term.
  • Fixed or adjustable interest rates. A fixed rate allows you to lock in a low rate for as long as you hold the mortgage and is usually a good choice if interest rates are low. An adjustable-rate mortgage is designed so that interest rates will rise as interest rates increase; however they usually offer a lower rate in the first years of the mortgage. ARMs also usually have a limit as to how much the interest rate can be increased and how frequently they can be raised. ARMs are a good choice when interest rates are high or when you expect your income to grow significantly in the coming years.
  • Balloon mortgages offer very low interest rates for a short period of time—often three to seven years. Payments usually cover only the interest, so the principal owed is not reduced. However, this type of loan may be a good choice if you think you will sell your home in a few years.
  • Government-backed loans, sponsored by agencies such as the Federal Housing Administration (www.fha.gov) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (www.va.gov), offer special terms, including lower down payments or reduced interest rates—to qualified buyers.

Slight variations in interest rates, loan amounts, and terms can significantly affect your monthly payment.

Courtesy of National Association of REALTORS® real estate financing

10 Things a Lender Needs From You

1. W-2 forms or business tax return forms if you’re self-employed for the last two or three years for every person signing the loan.2. Copies of at least one pay stub for every person signing the loan.3. Copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements for both checking and savings accounts.

4. Copies of personal tax forms for the last two to three years.

5. Copies of brokerage account statements for two to four months, as well as a list of any other major assets of value, e.g., a boat, RV, or stocks or bonds not held in a brokerage account.

6. Copies of your most recent 401(k) or other retirement account statement.

7. Documentation to verify additional income, such as child support or a pension.

8. Account numbers of all your credit cards and the amounts of any outstanding balances.

9. Lender, loan number, and amount owed on other installment loans, such as student loans and car loans.

10. Addresses where you have lived for the last five to seven years, with names of landlords if appropriate.

Courtesy of National Association of REALTORS® mortgage financing real estate

Common Financing Closing Costs for Buyers

The lender must disclose a good faith estimate of all settlement costs. A check to cover your closing costs will probably have to be a cashier’s check. The title company or other entity conducting the closing will tell you the required amount for:

  • Down payment.
  • Loan origination fees.
  • Points, or loan discount fees you pay to receive a lower interest rate.
  • Appraisal fee.
  • Credit report.
  • Private mortgage insurance premium.
  • Insurance escrow for homeowners insurance, if being paid as part of the mortgage.
  • Property tax escrow, if being paid as part of the mortgage. Lenders keep funds for taxes and insurance in escrow accounts as they are paid with the mortgage, then pay the insurance or taxes for you.
  • Deed recording fees.
  • Title insurance policy premiums.
  • Survey.
  • Inspection fees—building inspection, termites, etc.
  • Notary fees.
  • Prorations for your share of costs such as utility bills and property taxes.

A Note About Prorations. Because such costs are usually paid on either a monthly or yearly basis, you might have to pay a bill for services used by the sellers before they moved. Proration is a way for the sellers to pay you back or for you to pay them for bills they may have paid in advance.

For example, the gas company usually sends a bill each month for the gas used during the previous month. But assume you buy the home on the 6th of the month. You would owe the gas company for only the days from the 6th to the end for the month. The seller would owe for the first 5 days. The bill would be prorated for the number of days in the month, and then each person would be responsible for the days of his or her ownership.

What to Keep From Your Closing

  • The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) statement. This form, sometimes called a HUD 1 statement, itemizes all the costs associated with the closing. You’ll need for income tax purposes and when you sell the home.
  • The Truth in Lending Statement summarizes the terms of your mortgage loan.
  • The mortgage and the note (two pieces of paper) spell out the legal terms of your mortgage obligation and the agreed-upon repayment terms.
  • The deed transfers ownership of the property to you.
  • Affidavits swearing to various statements by either party. For example, the sellers will often sign an affidavit stating that they have not incurred any liens on the property.
  • Riders are amendments to the sales contract that affect your rights. For example, if you buy a condominium, you may have a rider outline the condo association’s rules and restrictions.
  • Insurance policies provide a record and proof of your coverage.

Courtesy of National Association of REALTORS® financing