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Five Questions You Might Want To Ask Before You Refinance Your Home

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Five Questions You Might Want To Ask Before You Refinance Your HomeRefinancing your home might be a great way to save money or tap into the capital needed to pay off large debts. However, a refinance can also be an expensive endeavor, and you could even risk harming your credit rating or risk foreclosure if you’re not careful.

Before you take the plunge with a refinance, here are five essential questions that you should ask before signing on the dotted line.

How Much Equity Do I Have In My Home?

Many homeowners today owe more on their mortgage than what the property is actually worth. For mortgage refinancing to be possible, a homeowner must have at least 20 percent equity in their home in order to avoid paying private mortgage insurance. The benefit of refinancing would be negated if PMI has to be added to the cost of the new loan.

 Do I Have A Good Credit Score?

The health of your credit score plays a huge role in the type of mortgage rate you’ll be able to qualify for.

Since mortgage rates operate on a sliding scale, the lowest rates tend to be offered to those with a credit score of 720 or more. Borrowers who have a score under 620 may have trouble qualifying for a decent rate, let alone getting approved at all.

Will I Qualify For The Rate I Want?

You might be able to get a general sense of the type of interest rate you could get for a refinance as quoted on major financial websites like BankRate.com, but your specific financial details, such as the type of loan you’d like to refinance into or your credit score, will influence the actual rates that will be available to you.

If you don’t qualify for the lowest advertised refinance rates, it’s important to determine if it’s still worthwhile to refinance your mortgage at the rate you qualify for.

Will I Have To Pay A Penalty?

Most mortgages have a number of rules attached to them, including penalties for breaking a current mortgage before it comes up for renewal. It’s in your best interest to find out if there are any penalties and, if so, what that dollar figure would be.

Some penalties are so high that that they no longer make the refinancing cost-effective. Reading the fine print on your mortgage contract is crucial.

Do I Have A Second Mortgage?

Borrowers who have a second mortgage might face additional challenges when it comes to refinancing their home. In this case, you may either pay off the second mortgage or combine both loans into a bigger first mortgage.

Otherwise, the lender providing the second loan has to agree to staying in second place behind the lender holding the first mortgage, which they might not necessarily be willing to agree to.

The bottom line is: refinancing might be a great way to help you pay off large debts or save money. However, it’s critical that you analyze your specific financial situation in order to avoid getting yourself into a worse position where the only party benefitting from the refinance is the loan officer.

Get in touch with an experienced mortgage specialist today to discuss your needs and to determine if refinancing your home is right for you.

Existing Home Sales Show Improvement In The Northeast And Midwest Region

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Existing Home Sales Show Improvement In The Northeast And Midwest RegionMarch sales of existing homes exceeded expectations at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million sales according to the NAR. Analysts projected that existing home sales would reach 4.55 million based on February’s reading of 4.50 million sales.

The pace of existing home sales declined by 0.20 percent as compared to February’s reading.

Headwinds Cause Slower Pace Of Home Sales

Analysts cited poor winter weather and rapidly rising home prices as factors that kept buyers away, although the Northeast and Midwest regions reported improvements in home sales in March. NAR said that the national average home price increased to $198,500, which was a year-over-year increase of 7.90 percent.

New mortgage regulations, which have caused mortgage lenders to take a conservative position with their lending policies, are also seen as a discouragement to buyers with less-than-perfect credit, first-time and moderate income home buyers.

Experts expressed concerns that current home prices and tight lending standards could create a shortage of first-time buyers.

Home sales to investors have fallen as higher home prices and fewer distressed (foreclosure and short sale) properties cause deals on cheap homes to dry up.

Fannie And Freddie Revise Construction, Housing Market Forecasts

Fannie Mae reduced its forecast for home construction started in 2014 from 1.55 million to 1.05 million. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, said that constraints on credit and labor contributed to the revised forecast.

Freddie Mac reduced its forecast of homes sold in 2014 from 5.60 million to 5.50 million. Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said that tight inventories of homes in some areas could cause significant challenges for home buyers.

FHFA Home Price Index Posts March Gain

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that February home prices related to mortgages that Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee, gained 0.60 percent as compared to a revised January reading of a 0.40 percent gain.

Year-over-year, home prices rose by 6.90 percent as compared to January’s year over year reading of 7.20 percent.

Analysts said that smaller month-to-month dips in home prices could indicate a turnaround for lagging housing markets and also noted that sales lost during severe winter weather may be recouped as the spring buying season gains momentum.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 21, 2014

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What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - April 21, 2014Last week’s economic news supported the general outlook for moderate economic growth. Housing related news included the National Association of Home Builders / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for April and Housing Starts for March.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Holds Steady Amid Concerns

The NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI for April ticked upward by one point to a reading of 47 against the March revised reading of 46. Home builders surveyed expressed concerns about high home prices, a lack of available lots for development and a labor shortage. Some desirable markets have been held back due to low inventories of available and/or affordable homes.

Builders surveyed for the HMI were asked to rate three components used in compiling the monthly index; these include current market conditions, market conditions expected over the next six months, and buyer foot traffic in newly built homes. April’s readings were 51, 57 and 32 respectively.

Readings for current market conditions and buyer foot traffic were unchanged from March, but builder confidence for market conditions in the next six months rose by four points.

Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders are confident about market conditions for newly-built single-family homes than not. 

Housing Starts Pick Up After Winter Storms, But Fall Short Of Expectations

March Housing Starts rose by 2.80 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000 starts as compared to expectations of 990,000 and February’s reading of 920,000 housing starts, which was revised from 907,000 starts.

The March reading represented a 5.90 percent decrease from March 2013, and is consistent with concerns expressed by home builders surveyed for the NAHB HMI for April.

Building permits issued for March were also lower by 2.40 percent at a rate of 990,000 permits issued. This slippage was largely due to the falling rate of building permits issued for apartment construction.

Higher home prices and mortgage rates along with inconsistent (but improving) labor markets were cited as reasons for builder pessimism, but analysts said that projects delayed by severe weather are expected to pick up in the coming months.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Discount Points Hold Steady

Last week’s average mortgage rates fell across the board according to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 4.27 percent. 15-year mortgages had an average rate of 3.33 percent as compared to the prior week’s reading of 3.38 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.03 percent, down from 3.09 percent the previous week. Discount points were unchanged at 0.70, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively.

Fed Chair Upbeat In New York Speech

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen struck a positive note in a speech given before the Economic Club of New York last Wednesday. She indicated that the Fed and many economists expect a return to full employment and stable prices by the end of 2016. Analysts characterized Yellen’s speech as upbeat on economic recovery and inflation, while “dovish” on monetary policy.

Ms. Yellen reiterated the Fed’s intention to monitor current and developing economic situations before making changes to its current monetary policy. She acknowledged that “twists and turns” in the economy could occur, and that Fed policy would shift as needed to address changes.

The Fed also released its Beige Book Report last Wednesday. This report indicated that the economy is recovering in most areas of the U.S.

This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Leading Economic Indicators, Existing Home Sales for March, FHFA House Price Report for February and New Home Sales for March. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment report for April rounds out this week’s news. 

 

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