While a few fed rate hikes in recent months has pulled home loan rates up a bit, rates sitting around 4.25 is still fairly low in the larger picture, but that does not mean stay on the sidelines in this sellers market.
Below are a few pointers on ways to capture the best loan– lowest rate possible, lowest down payment, help with down payment or closing costs– to help you figure out what will be the best move for you. In this sellers market when buyers make an offer, it is ever important that they present themselves as most able to attain the funding for the loan so that “just right” home won’t slip through your fingers.
Get pre-qualified by a lender
Some already know why getting a pre-qualified letter from a lender gives buyers an advantage over other buyers. (Those who don’t: A pre-qualified letter shows that the buyers are financially able to obtain a loan for the needed funds to close on the house. Any other buyers who make offers without one have no evidence of being able to pay for the house which is quit an advantage. Naturally, sellers air towards those offers with the pre-qualified letters.) What many don’t know is borrowers who get a pre-qualified letter from a lender are significantly more likely to be satisfied with their lenders. Researching your lender options and what they offer while you’re not “under the gun” to obtain a loan allows borrowers time to make sure they find the lender that is right for them, offering the best programs and products available. Don’t wait until you are writing an offer on a home to find a lender. Do it first, before you find “that” home.
Lock in a low rate
Commonly, I would not push this, but the cost of locking in a rate could be paid off in the first year of your mortgage payments given how much the rate goes up. For instance, on a $200,000 home loan, at 5% (for ease of numbers) is about $30 dollars a month. Paying for a lock to dodge another .25% rate hike would be paid off in the first year.
Now like many Realtors®, I do have some personal favorite lenders who I know to do excellent work for my clients, but I’d be remiss to mention how the market for lenders has become more competitive now that lenders have shed the brick and mortar and gone solely online, passing those savings to their clients. Online lenders such as Quicken Loans and Guaranteed Rate, make up about half of the mortgage market. Thanks to their digital foundation, their process tends to be more streamlined and their rates can be competitive, so if you can forgo the individual attention you will have in a brick and mortar institution, this may be a good way to go. (JDPower.com published a survey that shares which online lenders were liked most/least.) If not, then you could use what they offer as ammo for negotiating a better rate or loan offer from your preferred mortgage broker or lender.
Want a fixer upper but don’t think you can get a loan to cover the rehab job?
203K. That is the name of the type of loan that will allow you to roll into your home loan additional funding meant solely for rehab. Buyers can get a maximum of $35,000 with a 203K. At closing, you will get half of the 203K loan to give to contractors as down payment and the last half comes in 4 months. (Note, all work must be done inside of 4 months.) If there is any money left over, it is put towards your principal.
Need help with down payment and closing costs?
If you area first time home buyer (or not), your credit is not the best, and you have at least .5% of the home price to put down, you may qualify for Idaho Housing’s 10-year down payment and closing costs assistance 2nd mortgage program. Whew. That is possibly the longest title of a loan program I’ve ever typed but worth the effort if you want a home and down payment or closing costs is the only thing that stands between you and owning a home. To know if you might be eligible, contact your lender and ask about it.
How to avoid paying Mortgage Insurance Premiums
Many apply for a Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loan because they lack the funding for down payment (FHA loans require only 3.5% down payment) and those with credit scores of 580 or higher can qualify. While FHA’s help people get into homes, FHA’s are considered riskier loans and therefore come with mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) that buyers have to pay up front and for the life of the loan each month which comes at a cost of .85% premium. If buyers have good credit and can qualify, the better option might be to go with a low-down payment conventional loan. In the long run, buyers will save more money not paying MIP.
More than one in five buyers regret the mortgage lender they chose when buying their home. Many go with the first lender they talk to or the lender of the bank where they have a checking account. I encourage to expand your search and do it sooner than they days around when you make an offer on a home. Doing so can make the process go more smoothly and guarantee that you are getting the best loan possible for you and your family. As a former educator, I can’t help but say–doing your homework will be worth the results. ;o)
- Pull down the Best Rate, Money, April 2017, p. 21
- Choose the Right Mortgage Lender to Avoid Big Problems, Bottomline, Volume 38, number 7, April 1, 2017
- Idaho Housing & Finanical Association