20% Downpayments Don’t Always Make Cents

down_paymentDespite the “doom and gloom” in today’s headlines, in the current economic climate, homeownership is more affordable than ever, thanks to low interest rates and lower home values. For those buyers who manage to have a 20% (or more) downpayment, they believe this will get them the lowest monthly mortgage payment. However, simply because buyers can afford to put down this amount does not necessarily mean they should.

Those buyers who have saved enough to put 20%—or more—down on the purchase of a home may want to consider another approach—preserving some of their cash for savings, investing or other purposes. It may sound counterintuitive, but with today’s interest rates and the competitive pricing of private mortgage insurance (MI), borrowers can retain some of their money by putting less money down on a home—say only 10%—and still get a low monthly payment.

Real estate professionals have a responsibility to all home buyers to help them evaluate their purchasing power based on existing assets as well as future need. The right counsel can help home buyers leverage their current assets while keeping sufficient reserve for any immediate or future financial needs, not to mention all the trips to the local big box hardware store that seem to come standard for any new homeowner.

As a real estate professional, I guide my home buyers throughout the transaction process. At the very beginning, it is imperative to look at the borrower’s overall financial picture—taking into consideration current cash flow, debt and all future financial obligations.

leveraging-SmallIt is important to think beyond just interest rates and downpayment, as these are not the only keys to securing the lowest possible mortgage payment. By having a general understanding of the current financing options, you can better understand what a buyer can responsibly afford, which, in some instances may be more than they think.

While I am not a financial advisor, by asking these types of questions, I help make sure my buyers better frame conversations with their loan officer.

While in the past the adage was, “The more you borrow, the more you leverage,” in today’s financial times, the scenario is much different. Today, borrowers can leverage private MI to put as little as 5% down on a home and still have a competitive payment. And for those potential buyers who have stayed out of the market over worries of declining property values, they can still purchase a home without funneling all of their available cash into the downpayment. By utilizing this strategy, home buyers are able to leverage their current assets, while still keeping sufficient cash reserve.

So, while putting 20% down on a home doesn’t always make sense (or dollars), buying at a time of high affordability does. And by understanding the current financing options available to buyers, and helping them discuss what those options mean for their downpayment needs or monthly payments,I help point them in the right direction with their loan officer, overcome their investment fears and make the sale, all while helping them achieve their goals.

I’m here to help – 206-713-3244 or email me.

Senate backs plan to help Americans buy homes

first-time-home-buyers-7WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday backed a measure to help bolster the housing market by making it easier for people to afford a home in wealthier neighborhoods.

The Senate voted 60-38 to attach the proposal to a spending bill that the chamber will consider later this year. It would restore the size of the loans the government buys or insures to a maximum of $729,500 from the previous cap of $625,500.

The cap, known as the "conforming loan limit," determines the maximum size of loans the Federal Housing Administration and the government’s mortgage buyers, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, can buy or guarantee.

The higher loan limit expired at the end of September and was touted as one of the Obama administration’s short-term plans to shrink the government’s role in the mortgage market.

But with the housing sector hurting the country’s economic recovery, lawmakers and the administration are looking for solutions.

"Getting our housing market moving again is one of the most important tasks facing the country," said Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey who introduced the bill amendment.

The majority of Senators agreed that the lower loan limit was making a weak housing market even weaker. "It makes it harder for middle class homebuyers to get credit when credit is tight," Menendez said.

It is unclear what will ultimately happen to the provision, given the deep divisions within the Democratic-led Senate and Republican-controlled House of Representatives. It would have to pass both chambers before President Barack Obama, a Democrat, could sign it into law.

Republican Senator Richard Shelby said the measure would help homebuyers who "do not need federal subsidies." "This is not a good use of taxpayer dollars," he said.

Republicans in the House have been trying to quickly unwind Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were seized by the government at the height of the financial crisis and now back the bulk of the mortgage market. But the administration has cautioned against removing the government’s support before the housing sector starts to stabilize.

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters

Only two thirds of America could get a home loan

Denied stampObtaining financing is frequently cited as one of the most difficult obstacles in the modern real estate transaction and the numbers now show that it is not a problem with perception, rather a reality. The WSJ analyzed the 10 largest mortgage originators’ data to reveal a national average of 27% of all mortgage applications in 2010 experiencing a denial. The denial rate is up nearly 15% in the last year alone and it is likely denials will increase in 2011.

We’ve spoken for years about the pendulum swinging away from the Barney Frank’s push for homeownership for all back in the day (that led to risky loans) to today’s reality of increasingly difficult lending for any and all applicants.

Only two in three Americans who applied for a mortgage last year were able to move forward, but the data does not make clear whether or not all of those actually made it to purchase without a last minute lending issue (another commonly cited obstacle in getting a deal done).

“Although lenders were expected to pull back from the freewheeling conditions that helped inflate the housing bubble, some economists argue they are now too conservative, and say that with the U.S. economy still wobbly, mortgages need to be easier to obtain for qualified borrowers, not harder,” the WSJ reports.

Mississippi, Vermont & Texas have denial rates over 35%

In order of lowest denial rates to highest:

  • 19.9%   Minnesota
  • 20.3%   Virginia
  • 21.0%   South Dakota
  • 21.0%   Kansas
  • 21.1%   North Dakota
  • 21.6%   Iowa
  • 21.8%   Nebraska
  • 22.4%   Maryland
  • 22.8%   Colorado
  • 22.8%   District of Columbia
  • 23.0%   Wisconsin
  • 23.1%   North Carolina
  • 23.3%   Washington
  • 23.6%   California
  • 23.7%   Massachusetts
  • 23.8%   Alaska
  • 24.4%   Delaware
  • 25.1%   Missouri
  • 25.1%   Pennsylvania
  • 25.2%   Montana
  • 25.5%   Illinois
  • 26.0%   Connecticut
  • 26.4%   New Hampshire
  • 26.5%   Oregon
  • 26.6%   New Jersey
  • 26.8%   Wyoming
  • 27.2%   South Carolina
  • 27.4%   Arizona
  • 27.5%   Hawaii
  • 28.2%   Indiana
  • 29.0%   Idaho
  • 29.1%   Rhode Island
  • 29.2%   Nevada
  • 29.5%   Georgia
  • 29.8%   Maine
  • 29.9%   Tennessee
  • 30.0%   West Virginia
  • 31.1%   Kentucky
  • 31.6%   Michigan
  • 32.2%   Florida
  • 32.8%   Oklahoma
  • 33.0%   Arkansas
  • 33.1%   Alabama
  • 33.5%   Ohio
  • 33.7%   New Mexico
  • 34.1%   Louisiana
  • 34.8%   New York
  • 35.1%   Texas
  • 36.6%   Vermont
  • 38.9%   Mississippi

All of this highlights the importance of working with a team. Everyone on our team, starting with our Mortgage Broker, work to make sure our clients are well taken care of.