|Frequently Asked Questions on Mortgages|
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
1) How does purchasing a home compare with renting?
The two don't really compare at all. The one advantage of renting is being generally free of most maintenance responsibilities. But by renting, you lose the chance to build equity, take advantage of tax benefits, and protect yourself against rent increases. Also, you may not be free to decorate without permission and may be at the mercy of the landlord for housing.
2) Is an older home a better value than a new one?
There isn't a definitive answer to this question. You should look at each home for its individual characteristics. Generally, older homes may be in more established neighborhoods, offer more ambiance, and have lower property tax rates. People who buy older homes, however, shouldn't mind maintaining their home and making some repairs. Newer homes tend to use more modern architecture and systems, are usually easier to maintain, and may be more energy-efficient. People who buy new homes often don't want to worry initially about upkeep and repairs.
3) When do adjustable rate mortgages (ARMS) make sense?
An ARM may make sense If you are confident that your income will increase steadily over the years or if you anticipate a move in the near future and aren't concerned about potential increases in interest rates.
4) Can I pay off my loan ahead of schedule?
Yes. By sending in extra money each month or making an extra payment at the end of the year, you can accelerate the process of paying off the loan. When you send extra money, be sure to indicate that the excess payment is to be applied to the principal. Most lenders allow loan prepayment, though you may have to pay a prepayment penalty to do so. Ask your lender for details.
5) How large of a down payment do I need?
There are mortgage options now available that only require a down payment of 5% or less of the purchase price. But the larger the down payment, the less you have to borrow, and the more equity you'll have. Mortgages with less than a 20% down payment generally require a mortgage insurance policy to secure the loan. When considering the size of your down payment, consider that you'll also need money for closing costs, moving expenses, and - possibly -repairs and decorating.
6) What happens if interest rates decrease and I have a fixed rate loan?
If interest rates drop significantly, you may want to investigate refinancing. Most experts agree that if you plan to be in your house for at least 18 months and you can get a rate 2% less than your current one, refinancing is smart. Refinancing may, however, involve paying many of the same fees paid at the original closing, plus origination and application fees.
7) What are discount points?
Discount points allow you to lower your interest rate. They are essentially prepaid interest, With each point equaling 1% of the total loan amount. Generally, for each point paid on a 30-year mortgage, the interest rate is reduced by 1/8 (or.125) of a percentage point. When shopping for loans, ask lenders for an interest rate with 0 points and then see how much the rate decreases With each point paid. Discount points are smart if you plan to stay in a home for some time since they can lower the monthly loan payment. Points are tax deductible when you purchase a home and you may be able to negotiate for the seller to pay for some of them.
8) What is the FHA?
Now an agency within HUD, the Federal Housing Administration was established in 1934 to advance opportunities for Americans to own homes. By providing private lenders with mortgage insurance, the FHA gives them the security they need to lend to first-time buyers who might not be able to qualify for conventional loans. The FHA has helped more than 26 million Americans buy a home.
9) Who can qualify for FHA loans?
Anyone who meets the credit requirements, can afford the mortgage payments and cash investment, and who plans to use the mortgaged property as a primary residence may apply for an FHA-insured loan.
10) What is the FHA loan limit?
FHA loan limits vary throughout the country, from $115,200 in low-cost areas to $208,800 in high-cost areas. The loan maximums for multi-unit homes are higher than those for single units and also vary by area.
11) What are the steps involved in the FHA loan process?
With the exception of a few additional forms, the FHA loan application process is similar to that of a conventional loan (see Question 47). With new automation measures, FHA loans may be originated more quickly than before. And, if you don't prefer a face-to-face meeting, you can apply for an FHA loan via mail, telephone, the Internet, or video conference.
The FHA allows you to use 29% of your income towards housing costs and 41% towards housing expenses and other long-term debt. With a conventional loan, this qualifying ratio allows only 28% toward housing and 36% towards housing and other debt
13) What types of closing costs are associated with FHA-insured loans?
Except for the addition of an FHA mortgage insurance premium, FHA closing costs are similar to those of a conventional loan outlined in Question 63. The FHA requires a single, up-front mortgage insurance premium equal to 2.25% of the mortgage to be paid at closing (or 1.75% if you complete the HELP program- see Question 91). This initial premium may be partially refunded if the loan is paid in full during the first seven years of the loan term. After closing, you will then be responsible for an annual premium - paid monthly - if your mortgage is over 15 years or if you have a 15-year loan with an LTV greater than 90%.
14) Are FHA loans assumable?
Yes. You can assume an existing FHA-insured loan, or, if you are the one deciding to sell, allow a buyer to assume yours. Assuming a loan can be very beneficial, since the process is stream- lined and less expensive compared to that for a new loan. Also, assuming a loan can often result in a lower interest rate. The application process consists basically of a credit check and no property appraisal is required. And you must demonstrate that you have enough income to support the mortgage loan. In this way, qualifying to assume a loan is similar to the qualification requirements for a new one.
15) What is mortgage insurance?
Mortgage insurance is a policy that protects lenders against some or most of the losses that result from defaults on home mortgages. it's required primarily for borrowers making a down payment of less than 20%
16) How can I receive a discount on the FHA initial mortgage insurance premium?
Ask your real estate agent or lender for information on the HELP program from the FHA. HELP - Homebuyer Education Learning Program - is structured to help people like you begin the homebuying process. It covers such topics as budgeting, finding a home, getting a loan, and home maintenance. In most cases, completion of this program may entitle you to a reduction in the initial FHA mortgage insurance premium from 2.25% to 1.75% of the purchase price of your new home.
17) How long after a bankruptcy can I purchase a home using FHA financing?
You may purchase a home using FHA financing two years after the date
of discharge for a bankruptcy, assuming that you have maintained excellent
credit since the discharge.
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