Home Mortgage Financing

Preparation Is Key for First-Time Home Buyers

We know that buying your first home can be very intimidating and even a bit scary. If you hope to buy a home within the next year, there are things you should be doing right now to prepare yourself for the process. In order to make the best decision for your future, it's extremely important that you are equipped with all the knowledge needed to achieve your goals. Tackling each challenge one at a time may get you there faster than you think!

Your Credit Score Might Have Just Gone Up

If you are thinking of buying a home, then one of the most important pieces of information to know is your credit score. A better score will allow you to qualify for a larger loan, as well as grant you access to better interest rates. The result is that a credit score increase could end up saving you thousands of dollars in interest payments over the course of your mortgage, regardless of if it is a new loan or an old one being refinanced! Thankfully, millions of American consumers have seen significant bumps in their score over the course of the last year as the major credit reporting agencies introduced new regulations in how they calculate credit scores. Keep reading to learn why you might want to double-check your score if you haven't done so in a while!

I Want To Buy A House . . . What Credit Score Do I Need To Qualify?

Attaining a perfect credit score of 850 isn't easy; after all, that's like graduating from college with a 4.0! Luckily, all scores of 760 and above are considered to be in the best credit score range. If your credit score is in this category, then CONGRATULATIONS!  You've obviously done some things right to get it there! As a result, lenders really want your business and will therefore offer you their best products at their lowest interest rates. 

Of course, many of us aren't perfect! In that case, a good score is one that falls between 700 and 759, while a fair score is between 650 and 699. A lower score means you’ve had some dings on your credit history. The lower the score, the greater risk you are in the eyes of the lender. You will likely still qualify for a mortgage, but will probably not receive the same rate/cost structure as people with the highest scores.

Is The Credit Score You Purchased Online Useless?

Are you under the impression that the credit scores you purchase online from Equifax, TransUnion or Experian are what lenders use to approve and price a home loan?

Then you might be in for a surprise.  Yes, you can buy a score online, but it is not one of the FICO mortgage scores that mortgage lenders use. The actual scores used by lenders can be higher or lower by as many as 75 points or more.

The selling of useless credit scores has become such a big business that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is trying to stop the practice.

Did You Know? How Low Mortgage Payments Can Be

Mortgage interest rates are amazingly low right now.  If you are thinking about purchasing your first home, or considering selling and buying something different . . . well, now might be the BEST time to make your move.  The cost of a mortgage is about as affordable as it gets. 

The chart here shows what your monthly principal and interest payment would be for various mortgage amounts.  Did you realize how much of an impact the interest rate has on monthly mortgage payments?  As a result of the lower payments, buyers are able to purchase 'more' home for the money.

Not only are the monthly payments low, but the long term financial impact is also stunning.

How Is YOUR Mortgage Interest Rate Determined?

The good news for buyers is that mortgage interest rates continue to hold below 4%.

Freddie Mac's weekly survey of lenders showed that for the week ending January 7, 2016, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.94% with an average of 0.6 point, and the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.26% with an average of 0.5 point.

Those are average rates, not the rates that everyone will get.  Understanding the factors used to determine the interest rate that you may be offered are important to help you make good decisions.  What are they?

  • Credit Score
  • Home Location
  • Home Price and Loan Amount
  • Down Payment
  • Loan Term
  • Interest Rate Type
  • Loan Type

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a thorough explanation of how all these factors work together to determine the interest rate and an interactive tool to help you understand how interest rates change as each factor changes.  The more you know about it, the better equipped you will be to find the best mortgage to fit your needs (and save you money!).