Not Ready to Buy a Home?

Buying a home tops your long-range goals list, but are you ready? As a first-time buyer, you have loads of questions and concerns. After all, a home loan is an obligation for years into the future. You want to make savvy decisions and be comfortable that you’ve negotiated the best deal. On top of that, learning all about credit scores, how to pre-qualify and the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval. And what are options and closing costs?

Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) that serves the mortgage industry, knows what you need to know about buying a house. They’ve put together a course for new homebuyers called HomePath Ready Buyer Education Program.

Enroll now

The online course lets you attend from the comfort of your sofa. After completion, a “graduate” may qualify for assistance up to three percent of the closing cost of purchasing a qualified HomePath property. You won’t end up with an education loan either. Tuition is just $75, and Fannie Mae says it could even reimburse your tuition during closing on your new home. Now that’s a deal!

What you learn

Because the course design has new buyers in mind, you’ll learn to determine how much you can afford to buy and ways to figure out what home is best for you. Making the deal and learning about down-payment options will get you on your way. Finally, you’ll learn to avoid the pitfalls, and all the navigate the paperwork required to close the deal.

How long does it take?

The entire course is nine 30-minute sessions, so along with the quiz at the end (no final exam though), the total class takes about four to five hours. Designed to be intuitive and self-directed, you can work your way through the course over a few evenings, on your lunch hour, or even during your morning commute (provided you’re not the driver, of course!).

How you benefit

In addition to the three percent closing cost assistance and tuition reimbursement, your Certificate of Completion may qualify you up to take advantage of the First Look program. By giving first-time homeowners an exclusive “first look” at newly-listed foreclosed properties, this innovative program serves new home seekers and promotes neighborhood stabilization.

Fannie Mae relies on real estate professionals to follow through on the home-buying process. For more information, express your interest in the HomePath program to your real estate professional.

3 Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

Paying off a mortgage early is a dream of many homeowners. By making larger payments on your home loan, you can cut years off of your loan term and save thousands of dollars in interest payments that you can use toward savings or investments. But in an economy that has seen decades of wage stagnation and increasing costs of living, it can often seem like an unattainable goal.

With some planning and initiative, however, there are ways to pay off your home loan before your term limit.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about three of the ways you can start paying off your mortgage early to avoid high interest payments and save yourself money along the way.

1. Refinance your mortgage

If you’re considering making larger payments on your mortgage, it might make sense to look at refinancing options. Most Americans take out 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.

If you can afford to significantly increase your mortgage payments each month, you could refinance to a 15-year mortgage. This will save you on the number of interest payments you’ll have to make over the years. But, it will also help you secure a lower interest rate since shorter term mortgages typically come with lower interest rates.

This option isn’t for everyone. First, refinancing comes with fees you’ll have to pay for upfront. You’ll have to apply for refinancing, get an appraisal of your home, and wait for the decision to be made.

But, you’ll also have to ensure that you can keep up with your higher monthly payments. If your income is variable or undependable, it might not be the safest option to refinance to a shorter term mortgage.

2. Make extra payments

An option that entails less risk than refinancing is to simply increase your monthly payments. If you recently got a raise or are just reallocating funds to try and tackle your mortgage, this is an excellent option.

Depending on your mortgage lender, you may be able to simple increase your auto-pay amounts each month, streamlining the process. Otherwise, it’s possible to set up bill-pay with most banks to automatically transfer funds to your lender.

3. Bi-weekly payments or one extra payment per year

Making bi-weekly instead of monthly payments is an option that many homeowners use to pay off their mortgages early. Bi-weekly payments work by paying half of your monthly payment once every two weeks.

The vast majority of homeowners make 12 monthly payments per year. But by switching to 26 bi-weekly payments, you can effectively make 13 full monthly payments in a year without seeing too much of a difference in your daily budget.

This doesn’t seem like much savings in the short term, but let’s take a look at how much you could save over the term of a 30-year mortgage.

On a 30-year fixed mortgage of $200,000 with a 4.03 annual interest rate, you would make a monthly payment of $958.00 and a bi-weekly payment of $479.

Over 30 years of an extra monthly payment, you could save nearly $20,000 on the total interest amount and pay off your mortgage almost 5 years early.

How To Keep Your Finances In Check To Prepare For Buying A Home

There’s so much to consider when to comes to buying a new home. The first issue is that of your finances. You need to make sure that you’re preparing financially for the home search, and not just making your list of “wants” for a new home. It’s an exciting time when you’re purchasing your first home, but don’t let the excitement overtake your responsibility. Here’s some tips to keep you on the financial straight and narrow path when preparing to buy a home:

Be Mindful Of Your Credit Score

There’s many factors that can affect your credit score. Applying for new credit cards is one of those factors. Your credit score will drop a few points every time you have a new credit inquiry or open a new account. If you do get approved for new credit, lenders may have concerns that you’ll spend up maxing out your new approved credit limit on that account and possibly default on your loan.

Closing credit accounts is another factor that greatly affects your credit score. You may think that closing unused accounts is a good idea to help get yourself financially ready for becoming a homeowner. This isn’t true. Closing accounts lowers your amount of overall available credit. This means that your debt-to-credit ratio is larger. This lowers your overall credit score. You can certainly make these smart financial changes after you close on your new home.

Keep Records

When you move your money around, make sure you have records of it. Your lender will want to know about any unusual deposits and withdrawals. You’ll need to prove where your money comes from. All of the cash that you’ll be using for your home purchase should be in one account before you apply for a mortgage.

Keep Up With Your Bills

Don’t increase your debt. This will have an affect on the very important debt-to-income ratio which is one of the most vital aspects of loan approval. Also, be sure that you don’t skip your payments on bills. Your history of payments is incredibly important as well. Be sure that you continue to make full, on-time payments on all of your bills.

Keep Your Job

Even though a new job could mean a raise, or a better situation for you and your family, it could delay you in getting a mortgage. You’ll need to have your employment verified along with pay stubs to prove your source of income. Lenders like to see a longer employment history.

Keep Saving

The biggest up front costs in buying a home is that of closing costs and the down payment. Those must be paid at the time of closing. Lenders may even verify that your savings is on hand. Keep saving steadily and be sure to keep your savings in place.