Posts Tagged With: Mortgage

The Ultimate Spring 2011 Home Buyers’ Guide

According to recent USnews article uncertainty remains in the market, but experts say purchasing a home is still a good long-term investment

Traditionally, spring is when prospective home buyers come out of hibernation and begin the hunt for their next residence. But with the economy still in flux, budget battles raging in Washington, and a housing market on shaky ground, many house hunters are wondering whether it’s the right time to buy.

The wild card remains home prices, which are still down 31 percent from their pre-recession peak in July 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. While some experts see another wave of foreclosures further depressing home values regionally, others say the worst of the housing slump is over. “I’m hopeful the spring will be better because the job market is improving,” says Celia Chen, senior director at Moody’s Analytics, who expects housing prices to bottom nationally by the third quarter.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the housing market, experts say for Americans poised to plant roots, the market climate can’t get much better. “Confidence is building, prices are down, interest rates are wonderful for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. It’s a good time to borrow money,” says Dorcas Helfant-Browning, managing partner at Coldwell Banker Professional Realtors.

To help consumers sort through the pros and cons of buying this spring, U.S. News gathered house-hunting advice from the experts:
Get qualified and determine your budget. Interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are at historic lows—about 4.69 percent, on average, nationally—but experts concede that qualifying for a mortgage this spring might be more challenging than it has been in the past. “The big constraint on [housing] demand this year is going to be the availability of mortgages,” says Chen. “Lenders are still being very cautious.”

Although there are signs that the credit markets may be loosening a bit, even some of the most credit-worthy consumers may still be unable to snag the best interest rates on mortgages. Consumers with lower credit scores could also face higher down payment requirements, says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of mortgage information website HSH.com. “You’ll need good credit to get the best pricing,” he says. “We’re talking about a FICO 740 or above for the best possible pricing.”
Would-be home buyers must jump through additional hoops, as lenders are demanding more financial documentation from applicants. “You need to be able to fully document your income and all your assets,” Gumbinger says. “Your debt loads relative to your income need to be pretty low. You can’t have the leverage you used to be allowed several years ago.”
Despite these obstacles, qualifying for a mortgage is an essential step, says Diann Patton, Coldwell Banker Real Estate consumer specialist. “Too many people put the cart before the horse,” Patton says. “It’s so important to know exactly what you qualify for and have that pre-approval letter in hand before you even look at houses.”
Knowing how much you can borrow to finance a home purchase is important, but it shouldn’t be the only consideration when looking at your budget. “Look at what you qualify for and then what you really want to have as excess capital,” says Helfant-Browning. “Provide yourself a savings plan, an entertainment fund, and give yourself a little cushion. Don’t buy at the top of what you qualify for, but what’s comfortable, so you can do all the other things in life you wish to do.”

Think local, not national. Don’t let national headlines about plummeting home values or foreclosure trends spook you, says Patton. “Real estate is not global, it’s local,” she says. “I could sit and talk to people from Wisconsin or New York or Manhattan, [and] their market could be 180 degrees different from my own market.”
Over the next year, experts say the trajectory of home prices will vary widely from region to region, state to state, and even city to city. For example, home values in Minneapolis are expected to increase 21 percent by 2018, while prices in Austin, Texas, are projected to rise only 8 percent, according to Moody’s Economy.com.
Prospective home buyers should pay extra attention to the local economy and job market when thinking about purchasing a home. “You need to look at the long-term economic prospects for your area. Not even just the housing market—what does job growth look like projected out? What does the population growth look like?” says Tara-Nicholle Nelson, a consumer educator for Trulia.com.

In general, markets with a diverse and varied economy are more likely to see the job and population growth that fuels home-value appreciation over the long term. “Places where you see big companies moving and creating a lot of jobs, that’s where you want to be. It maximizes the resale prospects for your home,” she adds.
Do your homework. With so many resources available for house hunters, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by an avalanche of information. Start by using online research tools such as Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia to get a broad sense of your market. Consider hiring a real estate agent with expert knowledge of the local community, but don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
“People should get more assertive about the DIY research and preparation they want to do,” Nelson says. “We’re seeing regular home buyers with spreadsheets. It’s not that they’re not looking to their professionals for advice, they just want to make sure they feel comfortable with it on their own.”
After looking at the big picture, drill down to more specific metrics by neighborhood, such as how long a home has been on the market, list-price to sell-price ratios of comparable properties, and the percentage of listings in a given market with price reductions.
Although it’s advantageous to have a good feel for your housing market, the decision should correlate more with your personal goals than any national trends or local statistics. “You have to make your real estate decisions and decide on your strategy based on your personal life and family vision more than anything that’s going on in the market,” Nelson says.
Plan to stay put. During the housing boom, homeowners were virtually guaranteed to make money or at least break even on their homes, regardless of how long they owned the property. But the luxury of rapid price appreciation is another casualty of the financial crisis and housing market collapse. These days, would-be home buyers should avoid purchasing a home unless they plan to stick around for at least five years.

“People need to buy today because they’re buying the family home,” says Helfant-Browning. “This is not buying an investment you’re going to live in for a year and flip. People need to be in five, seven, or eight years to break even.”
That length of time could be even longer in particularly hard-hit markets, Nelson says. “It used to be you could count on whenever you bought [a home], you’d be able to turn it around at, or more than, what you paid for it,” she says. “Now, the more hard-hit your market has been by the real estate recession, the longer you should be comfortable staying put. The most powerful thing you can do to avoid locking in losses on your home is to plan to stay in it a long time.”

Home prices are expected to appreciate slower than they have in the past, so the direction of your career—and the location you think you’ll ultimately end up—are important factors in deciding whether to buy. “We’ve seen a lot of people struggling with mobility concerns around careers right now,” Nelson says. “You really want to know what your career path and trajectory is going to look like for the next five, seven, 10 years, and if you’re feeling like you need to be able to move around the country for work, then buying now is not the right idea.”

While the housing market might look gloomy 10,000 feet up, experts say the financial advantages of home ownership still remain. “If you’re going to pay to live in something every month, why not own it?” Helfant-Browning says. “By getting a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, 10 years from now when the rents in the community are usually going to be substantially higher, the only thing that will change for you is your home owner’s insurance and your real estate tax.”

For more information regarding a Oklahoma Mortgage or to Apply online for “Free” Pre-Approval
Log on to our website http://www.zfgmortgage.com
Or Call 918-459-6530

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5 Ways to Save When Mortgage Shopping

According to a recent Zillow article.

Did you know that borrowers spend twice as much time researching a car purchase than they do a home loan, even though the average home costs five times more than the average car? It’s true. In a survey commissioned last year by Zillow and Harris Interactive, it was learned that the typical borrower only spends five hours researching their home loan, while car shoppers spend 10 hours.
As a result, borrowers can lose thousands of dollars in mortgage costs due to lack of preparation. To avoid losing out on your hard-earned dollars, here are a few tips to help you take control of the mortgage shopping process:
1. Get your finances in order. Before you even start mortgage shopping, assess your finances. Determine what you can afford. As a rule of thumb, the total cost of your mortgage payment — including any taxes and insurance—should not exceed 30 percent of your take-home pay. You’ll also want to get a good ballpark estimate of your credit score. Your credit score impacts your interest rate as well as your eligibility to get a loan. Currently, one-third of Americans cannot get a home loan because their credit score is below 620.
2. Pick the mortgage type right for you. There two main types of mortgages: Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) and fixed-rate mortgages. Adjustable-rate mortgages have fixed rates for a short period (usually 3, 5 or 7 years) and then readjust. These loans are generally considered riskier because the interest rate and payments can increase when the loan adjusts. However, if you are only planning on living in your house for a shorter period, these loans may make sense for you, especially because you’re likely to obtain lower rates.
A fixed-rate mortgage is just that—the rate is fixed. Many people like this type of loan because the interest rate stays constant throughout the period of the loan. With both fixed and adjustable-rate loans you can select various repayment periods. The most common term is 30 years, but if you can afford the higher monthly payments of a 20- or 15-year term loan, you will save money with the lower rate and quicker payoff period. The most important factors in selecting your loan type is the length of time you plan on staying in your home and your risk tolerance.
3. Take advantage of your 30-day window. There is no such thing as too many loan quotes. Borrowers may shy away from getting multiple loan quotes, fearing their credit will be impacted when multiple parties check their credit within a short period of time. However, you have 30 consecutive days in which multiple pulls of your credit score, or “rate shopping,” won’t affect your credit. With that in mind, take advantage of the 30-day window and get as many loan quotes as possible to get the best rates and terms. Note that in order to compare quotes apples-to-apples, it is important to get quotes from lenders around the same time as rates can change daily. It is always wise to double-check the rate you get from a single broker or bank to make sure you really are getting a good rate and that you find a lender that you trust.
4. Compare quotes. Getting loan quotes from multiple sources and comparing those quotes to choose the best loan seems time-consuming. But it doesn’t have to be. Much like what Kayak.com does for travel, there are many websites that allow you to enter your loan request information once and get loan multiple quotes back from multiple lenders, all on one screen.
5. Check the reputation of lenders and brokers. Whether you have already received loan quotes or are researching lenders to contact, do your homework by checking their background. Have they been in the business a long time? If found online, are they accessible? Do they have any third-party reviews and ratings? Reviews and ratings can be an invaluable resource because you can get unbiased feedback from people who have worked directly with the lender.
Remember that shopping for a mortgage could save you thousands of dollars—and who wouldn’t want to do that?
For more information regarding a Oklahoma Mortgage or to Apply online for “Free” Pre-Approval
Log on to our website http://www.zfgmortgage.com
Or Call 918-459-6530

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What It Takes to Get a Home Loan

According to recent Kiplinger article Lenders loosen their grip, but your credit history will decide whether you get a mortgage, car loan or credit card.

When the financial crisis hit, many banks became tightfisted, and plenty of potential borrowers walked away empty-handed. But financial institutions have emerged from the recession stronger and ready to lend. “Credit is available. No question about it,” says James Chessen, chief economist for the American Bankers Association. “Banks are being careful because the economy is still weak, but I don’t know a bank out there that’s not anxious to make a loan.”

More from Kiplinger.com

• 12 New Rules for Your Money

• Making Sense of Financial Reform

• Quiz: Financial Truth or Bunk
Keep in mind that from mortgages to car loans, your credit history and score matter more than they did prior to the crunch. Rates are at rock-bottom levels for borrowers with top-tier credit — generally credit scores above 720. Before you shop rates, get your credit reports at http://www.annualcreditreport.com and check for errors. And buy your credit score from Equifax for $7.95 (or get a free score that’s similar to the ones that lenders use from CreditKarma.com or other sites like freecreditreport.com). That way you can see where you stand before you apply for a loan.

Mortgages: Stricter Rules

Mortgage lenders want to make loans now, and they may even bid against one another for your business. But lending standards remain tight, and you must be prepared to produce a mound of paperwork to document your income and assets.

Rates are as low as they were in the 1950s, so going through the motions could pay off. In mid September, the average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate conforming loan — a mortgage of $417,000 or less — was 4.5%, according to HSH Associates, a mortgage-tracking firm. The initial rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage (a fixed rate for five years, followed by annual adjustments) was 3.6%.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration continue to dominate the mortgage market, setting the standards for the loans that lenders make and sell to investors. So lenders strive to dot every i and cross every t when they qualify you.

If you’re buying or refinancing the mortgage on your primary home, you’ll need a minimum down payment of 5% to 10% for a conforming loan or 10% to 15% for a conforming jumbo loan (125% of a metro area’s median home price, up to $729,750). With 20% or more down, you avoid private mortgage insurance, which typically costs 0.5% to 1.5% of your loan amount per year.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allow a minimum credit score of 620 if you have at least 25% equity in the property or a score of 660 with equity of less than 25%; you’ll get the best rate if your score exceeds 720. The FHA will soon require a minimum credit score of 580 to qualify with a down payment of 3.5%, but FHA lenders often impose a higher minimum score of 670.

In addition to your credit, lenders will also scrutinize your ability to pay, starting with your ratio of debt to income. Monthly housing expenses (principal, interest, taxes, hazard insurance, private mortgage insurance and association fees) shouldn’t account for more than 28% of gross monthly income. Total debt shouldn’t exceed 36% of gross income, but in some cases lenders stretch the maximum to 45%.

Chris Bennett, a loan officer with HomeServices Lending, in Charlotte, N.C., says that he surprises borrowers “all the time” with preapproval of their loan when they aren’t expecting it. Even people with lower credit scores may qualify if they have stable employment, a history of paying rent and credit lines on time, and money in the bank or in a retirement account.

However, Bennett also counsels some borrowers to delay their home purchase long enough to improve their credit score, eliminate debt, get a raise and save more money. They might earn a better interest rate, improving their buying power. Plus, he says, “it’s not good to lay out every bit of cash you have if you won’t have money for a rainy day.”

Prove it. At a minimum, you must supply your pay stubs for the past 30 days and W-2 forms for the past two years. Lenders will want to see bank, retirement-account and investment statements for the past 60 days. Bennett says three types of borrowers will face additional requirements:

If you’re self-employed or if 25% or more of your income is from commissions or bonuses, you must provide two years of tax returns. Lenders will average your income over the past two years to figure your debt-to-income ratio. If you have pursued opportunities to reduce your taxable income, you may not have sufficient income to qualify even though you may have a lot of money in the bank. Community banks, credit unions and other lenders that typically keep their loans on their own books are the best bet for borrowers with low incomes and high assets, says Bennett.

If you want to rent out your home and buy a new one, you must provide a signed lease for a minimum of 12 months. You can use only 75% of rental income to help qualify for the mortgage, and you must have at least 30% equity in your former home.

If you and your spouse are relocating for work and your spouse doesn’t have a job yet, you must qualify for the loan based on one income unless your spouse has a signed agreement with an employer to begin work within 45 days of closing the loan.

Even if you qualify, you can throw a monkey wrench into the final loan approval if you take on new debt that could affect your credit score or your debt-to-income ratio. Some lenders pull another credit report just before closing. Another possible sticking point is the appraisal. Overly generous appraisals helped to fuel the housing bubble. Now, miserly ones may thwart your closing, says Guy Cecala, publisher of the newsletter Inside Mortgage Finance. Lenders will estimate the value of your home conservatively, and appraisers are generally following suit, especially if the local market is in flux.

Home Equity: Lower Limits

Several years ago, home values were rising so rapidly that you could build a pile of equity practically before the ink was dry on your settlement papers — and then borrow against it to pay for everything from home repairs to college tuition. But as prices have tumbled, lenders have tightened their criteria for approving fixed-rate home-equity loans and variable-rate lines of credit.

More from Kiplinger.com

• 12 New Rules for Your Money

• Making Sense of Financial Reform

• Quiz: Financial Truth or Bunk
Now in most cities you’ll be able to borrow no more than 80% of the appraised value, less the mortgage. In some cities you may get away with 90%, says Keith Gumbinger, of HSH Associates. But in areas where prices have plummeted, such as parts of Florida, Nevada and California, the loan-to-value ratio goes as low as 60%.

You’ll need a credit score of at least 720, as opposed to the 650 to 680 you could get away with a few years ago. And as with first mortgages, you’ll have to document income and assets. Interest rates depend on the amount you borrow and your location. Recent rates averaged about 5.3% on home-equity lines of credit and 7.4% on loans, according to HSH.

Car Loans: Better Rates

When you need to borrow money to buy a new set of wheels, credit isn’t the major stumbling block anymore. Loan approvals are up from last year in every credit category, according to CNW Research. “Most people have good enough credit to qualify,” says Greg McBride, of Bankrate.com. “The down payment is what’s problematic for people without a lot of savings.” Lenders are looking for 10% down on a new car and 20% for used cars.

The average rate from the manufacturers’ finance companies was 4.5% in August, versus 6.9% in January 2009. Automakers and their finance companies, desperate to prop up sales, are aggressively promoting low-rate loans on new cars for top-tier borrowers. Expect to see 0% offers on 2010 models as dealers clear their lots for the 2011s. And even though the new model year is still fresh, rates as low as 1.9% and 2.9% for 60 months recently made up a sizable number of offers.

Low rates aren’t limited to new-car buyers. After welcoming their first child, Andrea Hewitt and her husband, Josh, decided “it was time to grow up.” They traded in the 2004 Honda Accord coupe Andrea had bought when she was single for a more family-friendly 2008 Nissan Altima sedan. The dealer offered a loan at 5% for five years, which the Hewitts bargained down to 4.29%. If they had purchased the extended warranty, the dealer would have knocked the rate down to 0.9%. The trade-in took care of a chunk of the loan balance, and the Hewitts put down another $1,500 to keep their payments low. While the best financing deal is often at the dealer, make sure you have a backup plan in case you don’t qualify for the lowest rates. At big banks, good credit will get you rates below 4% for five years on new cars and about 4% to 5% for used cars. Some credit unions are beating even those rates. If you don’t belong to a credit union, you can probably find one for which you’re eligible at http://www.creditunion.coop.

Credit Cards: High Scores

Despite fewer credit-card delinquencies, most large issuers have not relaxed their standards; they continue to require higher credit scores and offer lower credit limits than before the recession. If you have fair or poor credit, you’ll have a tough time qualifying. Even if you have a credit score of 740 or 750, you would be approved for a credit card but might not qualify for the lowest rate, says Bill Hardekopf, of LowCards.com.

If you have excellent credit, whether or not you qualify for the lowest rate, your mailbox has probably been peppered with credit-card solicitations. Mintel, a market-research firm, expects issuers to send out three to four billion offers this year, compared with two billion a year ago, most of which will be for rewards cards. A lot of rewards cards have attractive perks, but now you’re more likely to be charged an annual fee (often waived for the first year). Teaser rates as low as 0% are also making a comeback, although balance-transfer fees at many banks have risen to 5%.

To qualify for the best offers, pay on time, even if it’s just the minimum. You could receive a reminder — and a spike in your interest rate — if your payment arrives even one day after the due date. If your card issuer lowers your credit limit, you may receive a separate notice or see it announced in your monthly statement. Many issuers no longer charge over-limit fees, but with others, exceeding your limit can cost up to $29 in fees and will probably mean an increase in your interest rate.

Hold your balances below 30% of your total credit limit. If your charges creep above that ratio, it’s a red flag that lowers your credit score and could prompt the issuer to raise your rate (you must receive 45 days’ notice). It’s better not to close accounts because you increase the ratio of your outstanding balance to your available credit, which can hurt your credit score. Issuers can no longer charge inactivity fees, but if you are being charged an annual fee for a card you no longer use, it’s worth it to close the account and take a small hit on your credit score.

Log online to our website for more info regarding Oklahoma Mortgages
http://www.zfgmortgage.com

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9 Items Homebuyers Desire in 2011

According to Yahoo Finance Article Today’s homebuyers want it all.

Some items on the shopping list: a home in great condition with rooms that can do double duty. Areas that mingle indoor and outdoor living — patios, porches, decks and outdoor rooms — are always a plus. And so are those features that offer a little luxury, like garden tubs, first-rate appliances and high-dollar countertops.

More from Bankrate.com:

• What Will $200,000 Buy?

• Use Your Capital Losses to Cut Taxes

• 4 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home
They’re also going back to basics: searching for solid, well-maintained properties that will give them their money’s worth.

“I think this year they’re buying properties that are in good mechanical condition that have inherent value,” says Ron Phipps, president of the National Association of Realtors.

But more than anything, buyers want to drive a hard bargain.

[Click here to check home loan rates in your area.]

They want “great deals,” says Patricia Szot, president of the MetroTex Association of Realtors. “And no matter where a seller prices their property, they’re looking to negotiate.”

Here are nine items popular with buyers this year:

Homes in Good Condition

Buyers demand homes that are well maintained, Phipps says. “There’s not a lot of flexibility in that.” The attitude is: “I’d rather spend the money getting into the house” and not have to spend more money later, he says. Buyers don’t want an unknown expense hanging over their heads.

Pat Vredevoogd Combs agrees. “I’m not working with too many people who want a fixer-upper,” says Combs, past president of the National Association of Realtors and vice president of Coldwell Banker AJS Schmidt in Grand Rapids, Mich.

One big reason: With most transactions, “buyers have limited amounts of cash,” Phipps says. “Even if they want to do a fixer-upper, they don’t have the money to do it.”

“Buyers have enough money to buy,” he says. “They don’t have enough money to buy and improve. And the lenders make it really difficult.”

Rock-Bottom Bargains

Buyers “are more focused on negotiating, drawing limits in their mind and focusing on the strategy,” says Justin Knoll, president of the Denver Board of Realtors.

Some of it is a point of pride, he says. “They want to tell their friends and family that they really got a smokin’ deal.”

They “want value,” says Alice Walker, president of the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors. “They are very picky. They’re just a lot more critical. They are not going to settle because they know they don’t have to.”

Her advice to sellers: Repair, update, clean and stage. “You have got to remove every obstacle possible for the buyers,” Walker says.

The more-for-less approach even holds when buyers consider bank-owned properties, says Joan Pratt, real estate broker, Re/Max Professionals in Castle Pines, Colo. “They want the short sales and the foreclosures and they want them to look like they’re owner-occupied,” she says. “They don’t want to paint. They don’t want to put carpet in. They don’t want to clean.”

And they’re surprised when they don’t find it, Pratt says.

Outdoor Living Areas

“The thing that we’ve seen over the past couple of years is more outdoor living areas,” says Laurie Knudsen, president of the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association. Some popular features: Screen porches, outdoor kitchens, two-way fireplaces.

“It’s a selling point if a house already has it,” she says. And “it’s going to make it more competitive on the market.”

Incentives

Call it “Rock-bottom deals, part two.”

Along with pricing, “it’s all about incentives,” says Mabel Guzman, president of the Chicago Association of Realtors. To pique buyer interest, sellers offer everything from gift cards for new furniture and paint to financial assistance at closing.

Szot agrees, and laments that it’s made the road more difficult for sellers.

“Not only are (buyers) asking them to lower the price, but they are asking for a lot more,” Szot says. “So negotiations are a lot more difficult now.”

Practical Green Features

Call it “Yankee frugality,” says Phipps. But what he sees on buyer shopping lists is a home that is easy on the planet because it’s easy on the wallet.

Buyers are looking for things like triple-glazed windows, high-efficiency boilers and energy-efficient appliances. “The buyer of today wants to make sure that the ongoing operating costs of the house are as controlled and economical as possible,” he says.

Another popular item: nontech green features. Buyers are looking at the sun exposure in relation to energy efficiency, he says. And that’s something that will vary with the area and region, he says. “In some areas, you want larger overhangs to minimize the sun,” Phipps says. “In my area (New England), lots of windows on the southern side to maximize the sun would be smart.”

Open Kitchens

“The wall between the kitchen and the family room is evaporating,” Phipps says.

“The kitchen is becoming part of the gathering space,” he says. “And it’s ironic — it’s the way it was 300 years ago. We’ve come full circle.”

Repurposed Materials

Buyers like a material that looks or feels natural, even if it’s not the genuine article, Phipps says. For example, “granite (for counters) is still popular, but it doesn’t have to be granite,” he says. “It can be stone, another natural material or something that looks like stone.”

“We’re seeing lots of different materials and lots of reusable materials, which is interesting,” he says. “Also a lot of unusual uses of hardwood — like pine flooring (reclaimed and) reused for counters,” or terra cotta slabs — beautifully glazed — used for countertops, he says.

Smaller, Less-Formal Homes

Buyers are buying smaller homes, but they want to be able to use and reuse every inch of space, Phipps says. “They are being much more strategic and efficient with how they use it.”

Formal spaces that might only be used three or four times per year are disappearing. “The slipcover rooms are gone,” says Phipps.

That’s “led to a repurposing of space,” he says. Formal living rooms have been added to great rooms or converted into home offices or entertainment rooms.

“Three to five years ago, if they could get a loan that would get them into a McMansion with stone and tile and brick and more rooms than they needed, they would do it,” says Jeff Wiren, president of the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors. “Now they’re saying ‘I don’t know if I want to heat that place and clean it.’ They’re being much more realistic.”

Touches of Luxury

Buyers like luxury. And sometimes the amenities that convey that feeling of living large are relatively simple or inexpensive.

One example: coffee bars in the master bedroom. “It’s like a butler’s pantry in your bedroom,” Pratt says. “An area for your coffee pot and accoutrements and a little fridge.”

The feature has been popular, especially in high-end homes, for about five years, she says.

Another luxury touch: high-dollar finishes in less-expensive homes, Knoll says. Granite counters and stainless steel appliances, marble tiles in the bathrooms and vessel or undermount sinks continue to impress, he says.

Buyers also like “a living space where you can have barstools and do some entertaining,” he says.

Says Knoll, “There is a sex appeal about housing, and they do get excited about those kinds of things.”

To Apply for Oklahoma Home Loan log on to our website.

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Your Initial Meeting With a Mortgage Professional at ZFG

The loan approval process generally begins with an initial interview where you and a mortgage professional discuss the potential loan. You will need to send information to us to verify your income and long term debts.

You may prefer to talk ZFG before house hunting to determine in advance how much you can afford and the mortgage amount for which you can qualify. This step is called pre-qualification and can save you time and trouble by making certain you are looking in the correct price range.

To complete the 1003 Mortgage Application, you will need to gather:

• A purchase contract for the house (if you have one)

• Your bank account numbers and the address of your bank branch, along with checking and savings account statements for the previous 2-3 months

• Pay stubs, W2 withholding forms, tax returns for two years, or other proof of employment and income verification

• Credit card bills for the past few billing periods, or canceled checks for rent or utility bill payments, to show payment history and amount of revolving debt

• Information on other consumer debt such as car loans, furniture loans, student loans and retail credit cards

• Balance sheets and tax returns, if you are self-employed

• Any gift letters, if you are using a gift from a parent or relative or other organization to help pay the down payment and/or closing costs. This letter simply states that the money is in fact a gift and will not have to be repaid.

Having these items on hand when you visit the mortgage company will help speed up the application process. Usually an appraisal fee will have to be paid when you submit the mortgage application. After you speak with us, you should have a general idea if you qualify for the size and type of loan you want. After the mortgage application, we will let you know if you qualify for the loan within a couple of days.

If you would like more information regarding the loan process or would like to get Pre-Approved
Log-On to our website at http://www.zfgmortgage.com
or call 1-877-205-7266

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How To Improve Your Credit

If you have had credit problems, be prepared to discuss them honestly with a mortgage professional. Responsible mortgage professionals know there can be legitimate reasons for credit problems, such as unemployment, illness or other financial difficulties. If you had a problem that’s been corrected, and your payments have been on time for a year or more, your credit may be considered satisfactory.

1. If you are currently in excess debt, there are four ways to control it: If your credit is not in terrible shape, you can reduce your other expenses, even if it means making hard choices or changing your lifestyle to fit your income. Consider selling a second car, taking equity out of your home, applying for a non-secured signature loan, obtaining a loan from a relative, selling your home and paying off your debts with the proceeds and then renting, cashing out your 401K/retirement benefits or selling family heirlooms, jewelry, etc.

2. If your credit is already damaged or one of the above isn’t an option, go through Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS). Check your yellow pages for the local number. CCCS may be able to help you pay off your debts as if you were in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but you don’t actually file for bankruptcy.

3. If CCCS won’t take you, you may want to consider bankruptcy. Claiming Chapter 13 bankruptcy takes longer than a Chapter 7, but your credit will end up in a little better standing. Chapter 13 bankruptcy gives you up to 5 years to pay off your debts. The disadvantage is that you’re in bankruptcy for up to 5 years plus your credit report shows your bankruptcy for 7 more years after you have finished paying off your debts.

4. If you are so far in debt that you can never repay it, then the best solution may be a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the least desirable from a credit standpoint, but you are typically out of bankruptcy in 6 months and you don’t have to repay any debt. The disadvantage is that this shows on your credit report for 10 years from the date of filing your bankruptcy. Creditors are starting to tighten their credit requirements, and you may have a tough time getting future financing.

If you’re debts are under control now, but want to improve your bad credit history, the most important factor is to make your monthly payments on time. Use pre-addressed envelopes enclosed with your statements to mail your payments and call the company if you don’t receive your usual statement. Also send your payment as early as possible if you carry a balance. Most companies calculate interest on a daily basis, so the sooner they receive your payment, the less interest you’ll pay.
Don’t procrastinate. It’s the day your payment is received that counts, not the postmark date. Give the post office sufficient time (five business days is a good guideline) to deliver your mail. Late payments may mean late fees, higher interest, and/or a negative mark on your credit report.
Never send cash. Open a checking account if you don’t have one, or spring for a money order and keep your receipt. Finally don’t forget to tell your creditors your new address when you move.
If you are worried about making payments, make a list of your debts and when the payments are due. Contact your lenders immediately if you think you will have trouble meeting the monthly payments to arrange a payment schedule.
Taking money from your retirement account or tapping the cash value of your life insurance policy to pay bills or living expenses may have serious implications you haven’t considered, so try to get advice from an expert before you take any major financial actions.
Credit cards can be invaluable in a crisis, since they allow you to charge items and pay them off over time. But they can also be dangerous if you aren’t careful and charge more than you can afford. If you do use credit cards, choose those with the lowest interest rates and pay them back as soon as you can to cut your costs.

Call or Apply Online Today!
918-459-6530
Toll Free 1-877-205-7266
http://www.zfgmortgage.com

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Mortgage Rates Improve at the start of New Week 12/20/10

December 20, 2010

After last week’s fluctuations in mortgage rates, this week has started on a good note with mortgage rates seeing overall improvements in pricing.

All of the current conforming mortgage rates have dropped .125% from Friday. Today’s 30 year fixed mortgage rate is 4.750%, the 15 year fixed mortgage rate is 4.125% and the 5/1 ARM is 3.250%. These are the best mortgage rates available with 1% origination point to borrowers who have maintained excellent credit and approval status.

Today’s FHA 30 year fixed mortgage rate is 4.500% which is .125% lower than last week and still slightly lower than the 30 year conforming mortgage rate. The 15 year FHA fixed mortgage rate is 4.000% and the FHA 5/1 ARM is 3.250%, both remaining the same from last week. FHA mortgages have higher closing cost (APR) due to applicable FHA fees and an upfront mortgage insurance premium charged at closing.

Jumbo mortgage rates had mixed results today. Today’s 30 year jumbo mortgage rate is 5.250%, which is a decrease of .250%. The current 15 year jumbo mortgage rate remains the same at 5.000%. The jumbo 5/1 ARM is 4.125%, which is an increase of .125%.

Today’s Well’s Fargo Oklahoma 30 year fixed mortgage rate also saw improvement and is currently 4.875% (5.065% APR) which is a decrease of .125%.

MBS (mortgage backed securities) prices are up today +9/32 (FNMA 30 yr 4.5 at 102.11), approximately 28/32 higher than Friday. Mortgage rates are driven by MBS prices and move in the opposite direction. While the end of December is normally an unpredictable period, the first half of this month has already proved to be erratic with prices that have fluctuated in both directions.

ZFG Mortgage surveys more than a dozen wholesale and direct Oklahoma lenders’ rate sheets to determine the most accurate mortgage rates available to well qualified consumers at a standard 1 point origination.

For more info log on to
http://www.zfgmortgage.com

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Mortgage Rates Jump to 7-month high, Lock in before its to late!

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch on 12-16-2010— Mortgage rates jumped again this week, with rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reaching a seven-month high and the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage above 4% for the first time since the end of July, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates.
“Market concerns over stronger economic growth that, in the near term, could lead to an increase in inflation have sparked a rise in bond yields and mortgage rates have followed,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist of Freddie Mac, in a news release.
Interest rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.83% for the week ending Dec. 16, up from 4.61% last week. The mortgage averaged 4.94% a year ago.
Fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.17%, up from 3.96% last week. The mortgage averaged 4.38% a year ago.
Adjustable-rate mortgages also rose, with the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaging 3.77%, up from 3.6% last week. The ARM averaged 4.37% a year ago.
And 1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 3.35%, up from 3.27% last week. The ARM averaged 4.34% a year ago.
To obtain the rates, all mortgages required an average 0.7 point. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.
“The growth in retail sales excluding automobiles in November was twice that of the market consensus forecast. Industrial production showed the biggest gain in November since July, according to the Federal Reserve Board. And consumer sentiment, as measured by the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index, rose to a six-month high in December,” Nothaft said.
“As a result, interest rates for 30-year fixed mortgages this week were the highest since the week of May 20 of this year,” he said.
Housing starts also showed a modest rebound in November, the Commerce Dept. said Thursday. See Economic Report on housing starts.
And foreclosure activity took its biggest drop in nearly six years and filings fell under 300,000 in November, RealtyTrac said Thursday
Reversing course?
But it’s possible that rates will head lower in the weeks ahead, said Paul Anastos, president of Mortgage Master, an independent mortgage lender based in Walpole, Mass.
“I don’t think we will hit the lows that we did hit, but I think the rates will bounce back,” Anastos said. “I don’t see enough good economic trends to say that the rates will stay high.”
Those in the market to buy a home shouldn’t change their approach as a result of higher rates, he said. More important to prospective buyers is whether they have a job, are confident they’ll keep it and are sure that the home is affordable for the long term, he added.
But for those in the market to refinance, act now if it will save you money or — if you also believe that rates could reverse course — get your paperwork in order before rates do drop so you’re ready to take action when it’s time, Anastos said.
“There are definitely a lot of people who missed the opportunity,” he said. When rates are near record lows for such a long stretch, “you almost get complacent that the rates will continue to stay low.
If you are looking to refinance or purchase a home, now is the time to act and lock in rates before they incress even more.

For a “Free Pre Approval or Mortgage Check-up” Log on to
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Oklahoma Mortgage Specialist

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F.H.A. Rule Changes for Mortgage Borrowers

According to article from the New York Times on 11-28-10 HOME buyers with sketchy credit who are unable to qualify for conventional mortgages may now find it more costly and difficult to obtain loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration.
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New rules that went into effect this month adjust the two types of mortgage insurance paid by consumers for loans insured by the F.H.A., which is part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

One change raises the annual insurance premium, paid monthly by the borrower, setting it at 0.85 percent to 0.9 percent of the loan balance, depending on the down payment or equity owned; the amount used to be 0.5 percent to 0.55 percent. The other change lowers the one-time upfront insurance premium that borrowers must pay, to 1 percent of the loan balance from 2.25 percent.

The upfront premium is paid in a lump sum at closing or added to the loan balance, unlike the monthly premium, which is paid over the life of the loan in addition to the interest and principal.

The decrease in the upfront premium, welcome though it might seem to some customers, does little to offset the effects of the monthly increase, which Andre Harriott, the president of the Access Mortgage Corporation in New Haven, Conn., called “really pretty hefty.”

“Everyone is really living paycheck to paycheck,” he said.

F.H.A. loans are usually taken out by buyers who cannot qualify under the stiffer down-payment requirements of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the government-controlled buyers of loans. F.H.A. requires 3.5 percent, while Fannie Mae typically requires 5 to 15 percent or more, depending on the type of loan.

The changes, under an example provided by the F.H.A., mean that a borrower who puts 3.5 percent down on a $154,000 house with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5 percent (such a consumer typically earns a gross annual income of $54,000, according to the agency) and who finances the upfront premium into the loan will see monthly mortgage payments, including taxes, interest and the two insurance premiums, rise to $1,238 from $1,205. The example is based on median data, including property taxes put at about 2.5 percent of home value. That increase includes the drop in the upfront mortgage insurance, to $1,486 from $3,344 — but also includes the rise in the monthly insurance premium, to $111 from $68.

Last August, President Obama signed into law a bill authorizing the F.H.A. to increase premiums to shore up its insurance funds; the agency had been authorized to raise the annual premium to as much as 1.55 percent.

Conventional loans, which conform to Fannie and Freddie underwriting guidelines, do not require upfront mortgage insurance. But some may require monthly private mortgage insurance, if the borrower puts less than 20 percent down toward the purchase, or has less than 20 percent equity in a refinancing.

F.H.A. borrowers, meanwhile, can stop paying the monthly mortgage insurance only after five years and when their loan-to-value ratio reaches 78 percent, at which point they have 22 percent equity in their home.

F.H.A. loans are typically offered by niche direct lenders, and because of the insurance, they often carry interest rates equal to or slightly below those of conventional loans.

In October, the F.H.A. set a minimum FICO score of 500 for borrowers who want an F.H.A.-insured loan — the first time a minimum was set. It also introduced a new minimum down payment of 10 percent for borrowers with FICO scores below 580. (Those above 580 still pay a minimum 3.5 percent.)

The issue for the F.H.A, Mr. Harriott said, is that the realm of borrowers has widened. “We see executives of little companies, teachers, people making $200,000 a year, doing an F.H.A. loan, because they’ve gotten into a financial situation,” he said, adding that F.H.A. loans are perceived as safe by investors because of the insurance.

A version of this article appeared in print on November 28, 2010, on In The New York Times

To Apply for a Oklahoma FHA Mortgage log on to http://www.zfgmortgage.com

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Mortgage Bankers See Rates Rising.. ACT NOW!!

According to a Wall Street Journal Article from 10-27-2010 Mortgage rates may be as low as they will go, with the average 30-year fixed-rate home loan on course to rise after hovering for months at historically low levels.

The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will average 4.4% in the fourth quarter of 2010, increasing to a 4.7% average in the first quarter of 2011, and climbing to 5.1% by the end of next year. That is barring any “blockbuster” announcement from the Federal Reserve next month, said Jay Brinkmann, chief economist of the MBA, at the group’s annual convention here

The Fed has said it could take more policy actions to stimulate growth, and Mr. Brinkmann said that is likely to come in the form of an additional purchase of Treasury securities. But the market has already anticipated that, and the move has already been priced into current rates, he added.

Mr. Brinkmann said he expects a pickup in purchase originations next year, but 2011 volume for mortgages to buy a home will still only be roughly at its 2009 level. Refinance business, however, is expected to drop next year, as mortgage rates begin their rise from record lows.

Still, potential home-loan customers needn’t jump too fast. While the industry group predicts a steady rise from 4.25% on a 30-year fixed-rate loan, the second lowest level it has ever recorded, even a rate of 5.1% on a 30-year fixed-rate loan is historically low.

At the conference, many mortgage bankers commented that business right now is doing well, due mainly to high refinance volume in the low-mortgage-rate environment. A large concern for them, however, has been what happens when all the refinance business dries up.

“If [interest rates] do bump up a bit, it’s a big concern on the refinance side,” said E. Todd Chamberlain, executive vice president for Regions Financial Corp., speaking on a panel at the convention. Those who have recently refinanced may be in the same homes—with the same loans—for a long time, unwilling to give up their very low rates by moving or refinancing, he said.

Total mortgage volume is expected to be nearly $1 trillion in 2011, down from an anticipated $1.4 trillion this year and nearly $2 trillion in 2009.

The industry is expected to originate an annual $480 billion in purchase mortgages by the end of this year and $626 billion next year; it is expected to originate $921 billion in refinance mortgages by the end of this year, which is expected to shrink to $370 billion next year.

The MBA forecast predicts home sales will rise slightly next year, after dropping in 2010 from 2009 levels. Sales of existing homes will finish 2010 about 8% lower than last year, but sales should rise 2% next year and 16% in 2012. And sales of new homes will finish this year 13% lower than 2009, but sales should rise from that low base by 20% next year and 40% in 2012.

“We also see some upward indication on prices” in many markets, Mr. Brinkmann said. Nationally, prices are expected to decline 1% next year, but that decline is heavily weighed down by severely troubled housing markets, including those in Florida and parts of California, he said.

Mr. Brinkmann said that there has been a large decline in household formation throughout the country, with many adults who would rather live on their own sharing a roof with parents or roommates due to financial reasons. Others might be marking time in crowded apartments, though their families are increasing in size and they would rather move to a larger space, he said.

Those people might relocate as soon as the economy improves and more jobs are created: “There is tremendous pent-up demand that is going to respond quickly to job growth,” he said.

Offsetting that, however, are mobility trends. Homeowner mobility is down, partly because of diminished equity in homes and now also because of low interest rates—it is now going to be more difficult for people to move when it means they will be giving up a 4.5% interest rate on their mortgage, he said.

If you looking to Refinance your Oklahoma Mortgage Act now!! Apply Online today at http://www.zfgmortgage.com or Call 918-459-6530 Toll Free 1-877-205-7266

Mortgage Tulsa | Oklahoma Mortgage | Oklahoma Home Loans

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