Posted by Braxton Haines as Loan Modification Programs
As with many other California homeowners, I’ve now found myself a bit upside down in my mortgage. I’m still able to pay my monthly payment, but if I wanted to move or sell my house, its just not going to happen. I’ve been reading articles and reports that Bank of America is offering many principal reduction programs in order to keep people in their houses, however I have not heard the same about people stuck in mortgages with Wells Fargo.
Here is some information on how the Bank of America loan modification may work:
Here’s how it will work, according to Bank of America officials: Say you’re deeply underwater on a subprime mortgage you took out from Countrywide Home Loans, which was acquired by Bank of America in 2008. The mortgage balance today is $250,000, but the house is worth only $200,000.
If you meet eligibility requirements, the program could reduce your balance by $50,000 and your new payments would be based on the lowered principal debt and possibly a lower note rate. This would be accomplished by the creation of an interest-free forbearance account covering a five-year period. Assuming you made regular payments at the modified, lower amount during the first year, $10,000 would be forgiven by the bank.
Whatever the case may be, I’m sure that many people are quite a ways in the red and won’t be able to get out of their current home loan situations without the help of their lenders or bankruptcy. It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s true.
With interest rates in the high 4-percents to low 5-percents, now is the perfect time to refinance, especially for those of you who may currently have an adjustable rate loan. If you’re looking to get out of your adjustable rate loan, there is no better time than the present to get yourself into a fixed loan. However, the biggest problem with trying to refinance right now is that many homes have dropped in value, so the homeowners equity may not be what it needs to in order to refinance.
Take my case for instance. When I bought my condo 5 years ago, I paid $290K for it, and at the peak of the market, its value approached $475K, but right now, it’s value is only appraising at about $250K. This sucks, because in order to refinance, I can only borrow 80% of my homes equity, or $200K if my home appraised at $250K exactly. The banks don’t take into consideration that I’ve been on time with ever mortgage payment over the last 5 years, and that I’ve even made extra principal payments in some of those years in order to accelerate my mortgage.
If you have enough equity in your house, now is the time to refinance, but if your home value has dropped, as most homes in the Southern California area have over the past year, you just may find yourself in a situation similar to mine – having your home refinance denied. It’s a very unfortunate situation when someone like myself who takes pride in having great credit has a refinance declined because of the current state of the market.
I’m currently looking at a couple other options that will help me get refinanced, and I’ll keep you all posted if I find a way to lower my interest rate.
I never thought I’d see the day, but mortgage rates have fallen below the 5% mark! Rates have been seen in the upper 4% range, some even down to about 4.75%. This is unheard of and could save the average homeowner hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year!
Take my current home loan for instance – I owe about $235K. Let’s just compare a new 30 year fixed loan: one at 6.375% (my current rate) and one at 4.75%. At 6.375%, my monthly payments would be approximately $1466.86, assuming I didn’t have any points added to my loan for processing, paperwork, etc. At 4.75%, my monthly payments would be approximately $1225.87 – a savings of $240.99 per month. Over the course of a year, I’d be saving $2,891.88.
If refinancing is an option for you, take advantage of the low rates now! These 4% interest rates for home loans won’t last forever. Just hope that you’re not stuck in my situation of not being able to refinance – My refinance was denied!
Since the time of this writing, interest rates have shot up a bit to the 5% range. Still not too bad, especially if your current loan is in the mid 6% and above range. Best of luck to those of you who are looking to refi or get a new home loan.
At the time I got my home loan about 5 years ago, I have to admit that there were some seriously crazy loan programs being offered. At the time, I could have qualified and purchased a home 2-3 times the price of the condo I bought for $290K. The problem is that many people did just that, they didn’t weigh the fact that they really couldn’t afford the house that they were buying, they just looked at the loan payment that they would be making initially and didn’t even consider the fact that they’d not only have to continue to make that payment, but that that payment would more than likely double or more in some cases. In any case, shortly after I bought my first house, and got my incredible loan (3/6 ARM at 3.125%), I started to hear about 40 year mortgages, 50 year mortgages and even 60 year mortgages. Think about that… a 50 year mortgage. I actually know someone who took out a 50 year mortgage.
Let’s just briefly compare a 30 year mortgage to a 50 year mortgage for a $250,000 home loan. On a 30 year loan, you’d be looking at a monthly payment of about $1498.00, and over the life of the loan, you’ll be paying $289,595.00 in interest – so even with a 30 year loan, you’ll be paying more interest than the original amount borrowed, but now lets look at the 50 year mortgage loan. With a 50 year mortgage, borrowing the same amount, your montly payment will only decrease about $200 per month (not even actually) to $1,316.00, and the total amount of interest paid will skyrocket to $539,607.00. The amount of interest that you pay on a 50 year loan will nearly double!!!
Now lets think about this for a bit. Will saving $180.00 per month on your mortgage payment be worth adding 20 years to your mortgage, and also adding an additional $250,000+ to the amount of interest that you pay over the life of your loan? Let’s figure that you invested that extra $180 every month into a savings account or CD. Let’s figure for arguments sake, that you find a savings account or money market account that will yield 5% and that you invest the extra $180 every month and let the interest compound. At the end of 50 years (the entire length of your mortgage) you’ll have $480,357.00. This will essentially offset the interest that you pay on the 50 year mortgage, making the total amount of mortgage paid equal to about $60,000. Looking at it this way makes the 50 year mortgage look more appealing because it frees up more monthly money to use as an investment, however here are the only problems that I see with this:
In my opinion, a 50 year mortgage is a terrible idea, but if you’re planning on staying in your home for the rest of your life, if you are discipllined enough to invest monthly and not withdraw, you could actually make the 50 year mortgage more favorable.
Posted by Braxton Haines as Loan Modification Programs
Recently, I’ve been hearing many ads about loan modification programs being offered to Southern California residents. The one program that I’ve been hearing the most about is called HELP or Home Equity Leveling Program.
Basically, home loan modification programs offer the homeowner a permanent change in one or more terms in the mortgage loan, whether it be interest rate, loan term, or even amount owed (in rare cases). The purpose of loan modification programs is to allow the homeowner to retain the house.
Typically when testing to see if a borrower is eligible for a loan modification, the loan modification company, or real estate lawyer will gather information to see if you qualify for a rate reduction and/or principal reduction. Once a borrower qualifies, it all comes down to negotiation and numbers to see if there are any feasible options that will allow the homeowner to stay in the home.
I often get asked if there are any tricks to lower your mortgage payment, and the short answer is NO. However, there are a few ways to decrease your monthly mortgage payment, but those options will require a little legwork on the side of the borrower. With the economy in the state that it is currently in, I’m going to focus on 2 main ways that mortgage payments can be reduced.
Refinancing your mortgage will typically be the best option, as it can save you hundreds of dollars per month if you’re refinancing from a high interest rate to a lower rate. Let’s look at an example, lets figure that I took out a $250,000 mortgage loan 5 years ago with an interest rate of 7.25%. At this loan amount and this interest rate, my monthly payment will have been approximately $1,705.00 per month. As of the time of this post, I’ve seen interest rates for 30 year mortgages as low as 5.75% – the interest rate will depend on your lender, your credit score, payment history, etc. so you’ll have to talk to a mortgage broker prior to getting a firm rate quote, but for the interest of our example, we’re going to figure that we can get a loan at a rate of 5.75%. For simplicity sake, lets compare a $250,000 loan at 5.75%. At this interest rate, our monthly mortgage payment will be approximately $1,459.00. This is a savings of $259 per month. A couple things to remember are that:
Depending on your situation, your current mortgage interest rate verse current market interest rates, closing costs and actual savings, it is always best to consult a trusted professional to see if refinancing would be a good choice for you and your situation, however as you can see from the above example, refinancing offers a great way to decrease you monthly payment.
This option will not necessarily save you as much money, but nonetheless can definitely be a money saving option. If you bought your house in the last 3-6 years, chances are that you paid more for you house than it is worth now… especially if you live in California. Let’s take a homeowner in California for this example, and lets figure, for simplicity, that this homeowner bought a home 5 years ago for $500,000 and property taxes are currently 1%. This will mean annual property taxes of $5,000 per year, or about $417 per month. Lets now figure that this home is now only worth $350,000. If this home were purchased at this amount, property taxes would be only $3,500 per year or $292 per month. Should the homeowner get their property taxes re-assessed and adjusted, they’d be saving approximately $125 per month.
So how do you go about getting your property taxes adjusted? There are many private companies out there that assess property values and adjust your home value with the county assessors office to lower your monthly/annual property tax payments.
Again, I recommend consulting a trusted professional before trying to have your property taxes adjusted because in some cases, property values will have increased, resulting in higher property taxes, in these cases, it obviously would make more sense to keep the current property tax and assessed home value in place.
Once again, wildfires are raging through Southern California, and it just reinforces the fact that fire insurance is a necessity. If you live in Southern California like I do, you’ve seen plenty of coverage of the 3 major fires that are currently burning.
If you are one of the unfortunate people who has lost their home in one of these fires, here are a few things to keep in mind. If you haven’t lost your home, but you have, or will be signing up for fire insurance, you should keep these things in mind as well.
What does fire insurance cover?
Be sure to review your contract, as fire insurance policies will be different in many different scenarios.
A second mortgage (2nd mortgage) is a loan taken against your home in addition to the primary mortgage. The equity in your home is used as the collateral for the loan in the second mortgage. Second mortgages are often called subordinate loans because they come 2nd to a primary loan, meaning that if a borrower defaults on the loans, the primary loan is to be paid off prior to the balance second mortgage loan. It is for this reason that second mortgages (subordinate loans) are considered riskier for lenders, and therefore typically come with a higher interest rate.
There could be any number of reasons why a person would consider taking out a second mortgage. If you have a large amount of other high interest debt, such as credit card debt, it may make sense to take out a second home mortgage to payoff this debt. You may want to use the second mortgage to make an investment, whether it be in the stock market or a vacation property. You may just want to live above your means and buy a boat. The use of the second mortgage will in the end, be up to you. When I bought my first condo, I took out a second mortgage loan in order to avoid paying PMI (private mortgage insurance).
As mentioned above, the interest rate on a second mortgage will typically be higher than the interest rate of a primary loan due to the fact that a default, the first loan is paid of prior to the 2nd. The interest rate will also be determined by the amount of the loan – the larger the percentage of home equity that you are borrowing against, the higher you can expect the interest rate to be.
Before applying for a second mortgage, make sure you talk to your broker and understand all of the details of the loan. Remember that no matter what the amount of the 2nd mortgage is, even if it is only a fraction of your primary mortgage, if you default on the 2nd mortgage, you could lose your home. Be sure to do your research and have a solid knowledge of your budget prior to securing a second mortgage.
Originally, when I had started this blog, it was meant to chronicle the process of accelerating my mortgage payments. I had initially set out to use the revenue that I earn from online income to go toward extra principal payments on my mortgage, which would in turn, decrease the amount of interest that I paid over time. My mortgage acceleration plans have been severely dampened by a combination of things.
Firstly, my wife and I decided to have custom closets installed in our master bedroom, and in doing so, I had to bypass an additional principal payment. This is a decision that we are still happy with because not only were we in need of some organization in our master bedroom closet, but it also will help to increase the value of our home when it comes time to sell.
Secondly, with the declining market, we do not have the same amount of extra cash lying around that we can use to make an additional principal payment. Over the past 3 months, my portfolio value has decreased by half. Thankfully, I’m only 30 years old, so I haven’t pulled any money out of the stock market, and in fact, I’ve recently started to put more money into the stock market, and will probably continue to do this as long as the Dow Jones remains below 10,000 points. If Warren Buffet is doing it, it can’t be a bad idea, right?
With the market the way it is now, I am left with the following question: Should I now put more money into the stock market, or should I return to making additional principal payments? This is a tough question, because the market still seems to be very volatile, even though this past week was mostly in the green, but making additional principal payments guarantees me savings on mortgage interest.
For the remainder of this year, I am going to bypass any additional mortgage acceleration payments and leave a majority of my extra money in high yield savings and money market accounts. If I see a good opportunity in the stock market, I may invest in some high dividend yielding stocks, but for the most part, I am just going to sit on as much cash as I can.
With winter coming, most homeowners typically experience higher energy costs. This obviously hinges on the fact that we use more natural gas to heat our homes, and the fact that days are shorter, so we spend more time inside, and while we’re inside we’re using electricity, watching TV, surfing the internet, etc. Here are ten tips that will help you to save money on your energy costs this winter – 5 of the tips are simple, and can go a long way, the other 5 will require a bit of an investment to start, but will pay off big over time.