7 striking similarities between Mortgage & Home Air Conditioner Shopping

If you have ever shopped for a new home air conditioner, you know how time consuming and confusing the process can be. Likewise, if you have recently shopped for a mortgage, you probably spent a good deal of time learning and considering your options.

On the surface, these industries are far and apart. After all, a mortgage is a financial product and air conditioners are physical products used to increase home comfort.  Despite the difference between industries, the sales environment and process of shopping for these two products is strikingly similar.

AC vs. MTG

Here is a toe-to-toe comparison detailing 7 similarities.

Mortgage interest rate shopping?

If you are looking for a new purchase mortgage or refinance mortgage, I suggest using MortgageCS. Getting answers from live verified loan officers and saving up to 90% of the time needed to shop – ALL while protecting your personal information – is a great way to take the sting out of the process.

If you are in the market for a new air conditioner, I have to let you know that we haven’t yet created AirConditionerCS – but we’ll be sure to keep you posted!

On a serious note, we have created a few tips on how to get the best results when mortgage shopping. Check out this recent post.

Purchase Mortgages Part 3: What goes into a mortgage payment?

When it comes to buying a home, it isn’t just the loan amount and interest rate that will impact your monthly payment. Additional items such as property insurance and taxes can increase a required monthly payment by as much as 35%.  If you are planning to put down less than 20%, you’ll also want to factor in paying for mortgage insurance each month.

What goes into a mortgage payment?

The good news is that virtually every mortgage payment is made up of the same key ingredients. They are principal, interest, taxes and insurance. These four items are typically referred to as PITI – which, when spoken, sounds like “pity”.

The bad news is that certain factors of your monthly payment will not be within your control.  Namely, the property taxes and property insurance. These factors can change (likely increase) over time and will usually be paid each month along with the principal and interest on your loan.

When you are shopping for a home, keep your eye on the amount of property tax required each year.  Property tax amounts can vary between properties and across state, town or county lines.

Now that you are armed with a better understanding of PITI, be sure to understand the basics of a mortgage and learn about debt ratios.  Once you have a handle on these three topics, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a savvy mortgage shopper and homeowner.

Looking to get your mortgage shopping started (or double check your rate and program)?  Ask your Realtor for access to MortgageCS so you can shop your mortgage terms without the requirement of giving up your personal contact information (and save 90% of the time it takes to shop elsewhere!).

Related Posts in this Series

Part 1: What is a mortgage?

Part 2: What is a debt ratio?

 

Purchase Mortgages Part 2: How much can I afford?

When a mortgage lender qualifies a borrower, they will examine income and monthly debts to establish a debt ratio. If you are wondering what a debt ratio is, and how it is calculated, take a look at this graphic and read on.

Mortgage Debt Ratios

A debt ratio compares monthly debts to income and then generates a number that is usually converted to a percentage. If your debt ratio is too high, you may not qualify for certain loan programs…or worse, may not qualify for a loan at all!

Lenders will typically run two different debt ratio calculations. The “front-end” ratio will examine all debts except for your housing payment. The “back end” ratio will examine all debts and include a soon-to-be housing payment.

For the purpose of this introduction, the graphic below considers only the “back-end” ratio which includes the soon-to-be mortgage payment in the calculation.

Let’s also take a look at an example. Assume you earn $5,000 each month and have a student loan payment of $400 and a car payment of $250 each month as well.  Your front end ratio will be $650/$5,000 = 13%.  This number is far below the typical requirement of 31% for FHA loan front end ratios.

Now consider adding in your new housing payment (including the mortgage payment, taxes, insurance, and mortgage insurance) of $1,500.  Including this debt will generate a back end ratio of ($650 + $1,500)/$5,000 = 43%, the limit for most FHA back-end ratios.

Tip: Remember to use gross income when it comes to calculating a debt ratio. Gross income is the amount of income BEFORE taxes and other items, such as health insurance or 401k contributions, are taken out. 

In part one of this series, we learned a bit about the relationship between the purchase price, down payment and loan amount of a purchase mortgage. Now that we have a better understanding of debt ratios, we will take a look at what actually makes up a mortgage payment – and it may be more than you think!

Related Posts in this Series

Part 1: What is a mortgage? 

Part 3: What makes up a mortgage payment?

Purchase Mortgages Part 1: What is a mortgage?

If you are looking to purchase a home this spring or summer, you may be searching for an easy way to learn about your mortgage options. Or, you may be wondering what a mortgage is and know nothing about them at all!

Regardless of your current knowledge base, a quick primer on purchase mortgages can save time, money and quite a bit of frustration!  

In this series of posts, we’ll cover three concepts using real numbers and supporting images. The goal is to give you a clear understanding of purchase mortgage basics – so you can easily apply new learnings as you continue your journey! Now, let’s get started!

What is a mortgage?

When it comes to purchasing a home, you’ll need to pay the current property owner for the home and cover the related costs associated with the sale transaction. Understanding how the closing costs, down payment and loan amount are related to the home sale price is an important first step in understanding purchase mortgage options. 

If you are looking for a more technical definition, please read on.

A mortgage is legal document that creates a lien on a property after an agreement is reached between a lender and a borrower. The mortgage is recorded as a public record document at the local county’s office and secures the subject property as the collateral in consideration for a loan. 

Now that we know a bit more about the cash needed to buy a home and how those funds will be allocated, it is time to examine home affordability by taking a look at something called a debt ratio.

Next Up

Part 2: How much can I afford? 

Part 3: What makes up a mortgage payment? 

Prequalification letters: How they help you, your Realtor and the seller

If you are searching for a home this spring, you’ll need a prequalification letter to prove you have your finances in order. Without one, your offer to buy a home is likely to fall flat, very flat.

So, what is a prequalification letter (aka “prequal”) and why is it so important? Let’s take a look at three different perspectives to understand how this one document can play such an important role in kicking off a real estate transaction.

Prequalification letters guide the mortgage borrower

The term “mortgage borrower” refers to you. When you purchase a home, you will likely require a mortgage and therefore, you will become the mortgage borrower. So how much can you actually borrow?

While we could break out the calculators and scratch paper (or Excel), there is no need to because the lender handles it all. Said another way, the lender that prequalifies you will ask a series of questions and obtain your credit report. This process allows the lender to create a prequalification letter that includes, among other things, your maximum loan size.

Note: While the maximum loan size is great to know, please do not confuse it with being anything other than just that – a maximum. Be sure to budget your own finances to ensure you can comfortably manage your new monthly mortgage payment.

In summary, a prequalification letter for a mortgage borrower provides the confidence to know (preliminarily) that they can qualify for the mortgage amount needed to purchase a particular home.

Realtors identify serious shoppers

Having a prequalification letter in hand when first connecting with a Realtor indicates you have done your homework and are a serious shopper. Without a prequal letter, there is virtually no way for a Realtor to confirm (or deny) your ability to purchase a home.

This is important because a Realtor has just 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week (just like you and me). Despite the fact that the best Realtors make us feel like we are their only clients, they are often juggling multiple transactions simultaneously.

Realtors need to be selective with their time. Home shoppers that show up with a prequal in-hand will always get more attention than those that show up empty-handed.

Sellers look for prequalification letters

We are currently in a seller’s market, where high competition exists for a limited supply of homes. Based on this, home sellers will likely receive multiple offers from a range of prospective buyers.

When a seller receives multiple offers simultaneously, one would think that the highest priced offer always wins. While that may typically be the case, other factors, such as down payment amount, loan program selection and other contingencies are also compared to determine the likelihood of a smooth transaction.

Tip: Contingencies are conditions that must be met prior to the sale of a property.  While many contingencies are negotiable, standard ones include a buyer’s home inspection and the buyer successfully obtaining a loan or financing to purchase the property.  

When a seller is evaluating a range of offers, any offer lacking a prequalification letter will be devalued regardless of the purchase price offered. As a matter of fact, it is virtually a requirement these days that an offer to purchase a property include a prequalification letter.

Related posts:

Wondering if all Lenders offer the same interest rate? Look here.

Concerned about increasing interest rates? Look here.

3 must do’s after a weekend of house hunting

It’s Monday…and you’ve just had an exhilarating weekend of house hunting. You’ve seen the good, the bad, and just about everything else while driving all around town. Some of the properties you just walked through may already be under contract – so you can cross them off your list!

A weekend of house hunting can be quite discouraging in a seller’s market. So how can you keep your head up when you feel like you are fighting a losing battle? Do these three things each Monday – and you’ll be ready to act when the time is right.

Catalogue the properties you viewed

Document the property address, style of home, list price, best attributes & other important details. Ask yourself this question: What kept you from being interested in the property or what made you want it?

By doing this, you’ll find that certain property features will come to the surface as most important. This will help guide your future searching and make you more confident (so you can act more quickly next time).

Check in with your Realtor

Contact your trusted Realtor to talk through the properties that were most attractive to you.  After learning of a small price change or other information, a “maybe” on your list could turn into a “yes!”

If you do find yourself interested in a property, the time to act is now. You can request a second showing or cut to the chase and get a purchase contract written up! Remember, you aren’t the only one eyeing that property in this seller’s market – so act quickly.

Stay current on mortgage rates

Interest rates change at least every day, and can swing drastically over the course of a week. A small change in interest rate can make a BIG difference in monthly payment – so staying up to date on available mortgage rates and programs is a must!

For example, the monthly payment on a $350,000 mortgage will drop by $26 if rates are just 0.125% lower! That’s a savings of $312 a year – or about one free car payment!

Just as it is important to shop lenders early in the process, it is also important to keep your knowledge level up as you hunt for that perfect home. After all, a dip in mortgage rates will make all homes more affordable.

Related posts:

What is a seller’s market? Look here.

Concerned about increasing interest rates?  Look here.

“It’s a sellers market!” What does that actually mean?

If you are looking to buy a home this spring, there is a very good chance you will be fighting an uphill battle.  That’s because we are in a “seller’s market” where homeowners looking to sell their property typically have the upper hand in negotiations. But what does it actually mean and how can you prepare for it?  Here’s a practical definition and a few key points to keep you sane while you search for your dream home.

What is a Seller’s Market?

By definition, a seller’s market is one where the number of homes sold during a period of time is equal or greater than 55% of the number of homes listed during that same time. Said another way, for every 3 homes sold in a given period of time, there are 5 new listings added. If you feel like you need to go back to your high-school statistics class to get a grasp on that, we have your covered. Here is a simple example that should put it all in perspective.

Let’s take a trip to Newtown, USA. This particular town is booming because there are great jobs close by, lots of shopping, restaurants and social life. Plus, there are great parks, schools, hospitals and activities for families. Not that many people want to move away from Newtown, USA these days. As a matter of fact, there were only 10 homes in Newtown, USA listed for sale in March of 2017.  

After being featured in a few home and community magazines, word has gotten out about how great Newtown, USA is for all types of people and families.  This has caused a large number of would-be homebuyers to consider settling down in Newtown, USA.  As a matter of fact, 8 homes in Newtown, USA were sold in March of 2017!

In this example, 8 homes were sold when only 10 homes were listed during March 2017 in Newtown, USA.  This makes the “sales-to-listing” ratio 80% (well above the 55% needed to establish a “seller’s market”).

(Note: Newtown, USA is a fictional town as far as we know.)

Best Practices in a Seller’s Market

As a would-be homebuyer, you can certainly be at a disadvantage in a seller’s market. A bit of planning and determination can help you through any short-term frustration.

Know your numbers first – While you are not on an episode of Shark Tank, you do need to know what you can afford and stick to it. Getting the best deal on a mortgage loan and working with an experienced mortgage professional will help you put in all in perspective. Using MortgageCS for mortgage shopping means you can easily compare loan terms and get your questions answered before committing to a single lender.

Go for the gold when you find the right property – When demand for property is outpacing the supply, there is no time for low-ball offers. Starting out with your first and best offer can win you the opportunity to purchase the home.  Remember that during the home buying process, you’ll have the opportunity to review a home inspection and will have certain “outs” if there are any issues.

Coincidentally, when mortgage loan originators offer you rates and loan programs at MortgageCS, they too will provide their best offer first. This saves you the hassle of any mortgage negotiations and drastically speeds up the mortgage shopping process.

Be ready to act quickly – By the time an open house is over, multiple offers may have been submitted by other real estate agents. Getting “your team” on the same page going into a weekend of open houses or showings ensures you can act when needed.

Stay focused on your end goal – Chances are that you will experience some disappointment during the home shopping process.  Remember that you will eventually find the property that best fits your needs and keep your head up as it’s the only way to see where you are going!

In a seller’s market, an experienced Realtor can truly help. Realtors who offer MortgageCS are up on the latest technology and ensure they offer the most advanced tools to their buyers. Ask for access to MortgageCS – or contact us and we’ll direct you to a local Realtor who can help.

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About MortgageCS: MortgageCS enables Financial Advisors, Realtors and their clients to compare mortgage offers from top national lenders for free, monitor market rates and shop with confidence – all without sharing personal contact information. Learn more.

All mortgage companies offer the same interest rate…RIGHT?

TRUE or FALSE: There is “one rate” that all mortgage companies offer on any given day. 

Today I met with an owner of an insurance agency. After seeing that interest rates varied by as much as 0.375% between lenders for the same loan, he said “I thought there was one rate for mortgages on any given day?”.  He admitted that he knew fees could be different, but had no idea that the actual interest rate could vary as well.  

Surprisingly, he’s not alone.

While interacting with financial advisors, insurance agents and even real estate agents, we have learned that there is a great opportunity to provide education in this space. For one reason or another, professionals outside of the mortgage industry tend to have surprisingly little knowledge of the mortgage market & process. This may make sense as they don’t “do” mortgages, nor do they receive compensation on them, but it is hard to argue that mortgages are not relevant in the world of financial planning….or real estate for that matter!

The truth is that rates WILL vary between mortgage lenders (as will fees, the personality of the loan originator, the speed at which they can close your loan and the technology in place).  What remains consistent in all mortgage situations is this:  

Your choice in a mortgage lender will have a lasting impact on your finances.  

The few weeks it takes to complete a mortgage loan will result in a new debt payment – one which is determined based largely on the interest rate you select (in addition to loan term, loan amount and other factors).  When all else is equal – a higher interest rate means a higher payment for the same mortgage amount. So consider the long term impact of a loan’s rate – not just a perceived “ease” of transaction in the short term.

If you are looking for some helpful hints to keep you sane as you wrangle the mortgage shopping process, here are two suggestions:

Don’t fall victim to technology

Ask yourself: Would you complete a paper application if it meant saving $50 to $100 every month for as long as you owned your home? If so, then don’t let an “app” guide you astray. Despite what certain companies want you to think, the mortgage process isn’t really that hard (it’s more of an inconvenience). Regardless of how you obtain your loan, you’ll be left with a monthly mortgage payment for 120, 240 or 360 months. The mortgage process, itself, is a short-term inconvenience at most.   

Protect your personal contact information

If you have ever entered your phone number on a mortgage shopping site before, you likely received multiple phone calls every hour for days. Chances are you will NOT do that again. There are plenty of ways to learn about mortgages in a safe way.  MortgageCS allows you inquire about specific loan programs and even interact with loan officers directly – without giving out this private information.  As a result, you remain in control of the contact process and once you find the best fit – you can then decide to share these details.

In closing, and just in case it hasn’t been obvious yet, mortgage rates CAN & DO vary significantly between mortgage lenders for several reasons.  To be safe, take your time, and ensure you end up with a great deal by focusing on the end goal. Using MortgageCS keeps it straightforward and simple, so get started today at www.MortgageCS.com.

Streamlined quote requests at MortgageCS

Mortgage shopping can be challenging for many reasons. Questions regarding rate competitiveness, determining the integrity of the lender and simply trying to keep it all organized can be enough to drive someone crazy.

Fortunately, MortgageCS resolves these issues. Here is how it all goes down.

Step 1: You create a quote request

Creating a new quote request is quick and informative. Short help videos are available at each step – providing answers to the most common questions and delivering insights to make the entire mortgage process go smoothly. At the end of your quote, you choose if you would like to share your name, phone number and email address.

Step 2: Loan officers respond

When loan officers receive your quote request, they get to work building custom responses.  You’ll gain a full picture of the available loan options, the personality of each loan originator and what you could expect during the loan process.  Here is what each loan originator can include in their reply:

  • Loan offers: The loan programs you requested – assuming you qualify – are provided. Amongst other terms, you’ll see the interest rate, bank fees, loan amounts and monthly payments for each program. Loan originators can also include proprietary programs that may better accomplish your goals. This gives you a full understanding of the loan options available without the hassle of putting pen to paper or being a mortgage expert.
  • A written message: Important details, some of which may be vital for your particular loan program, can be added in a written message. Helpful tips and additional points can also be included, ensuring you are set up for success early on.
  • Attachments: Documents, such as loan disclosures, product highlight sheets or checklists, can be included for your review. This can facilitate learning and expedite the decision making process.
  • A voice message: Gaining insights into a loan officer’s personality is easy when they provide a helpful and informative voice message. This message is available alongside any written message or offers provided by a loan originator.  

Step 3: You evaluate and decide

As each offer is received, it is added to your quote dashboard for easy evaluation. Questions and further communication is possible by using a sleek messaging system included right on the site. If a few days go by and you need rate updates, that is easy too.  You can request a Rate Refresh, which allows loan officers to send new offers – ensuring you stay up to date on your options.

The process of requesting a new quote at MortgageCS was intentionally designed to deliver efficiency and value – so don’t miss an opportunity to take advantage of this great service.  Contact your financial advisor today for access!

Financial Advisors: Finding value in MortgageCS

The past few months at MortgageCS have been an incredible blur. In addition to wrapping up the initial product development cycle for launch, we spent a great deal of time on the road, presenting MortgageCS to financial advising organizations. Presentations were given to large mutual insurance companies as well as smaller, more independent, advising teams.  

Over the course of these meetings, financial advisors shared how the various components of the platform support their business better than the status quo. Here are two of the more common responses we have heard:

Streamlined mortgage shopping saves time and eliminates the hassle.

Creating and sending a mortgage quote request to 5 validated loan officers takes less time than a single phone call. MortgageCS allows users to protect their personal contact information, refresh a quote request with a single click (for those that need a pre-qual prior to buying a home), and provides ratings and performance metrics for loan officer selection. Also, comparing offers is faster and easier because all offers are collected in one spot. Financial advisors with a strategic relationship can include their known originators too – allowing all involved to benefit from a more efficient process.

Monitoring rates across an entire platform exposes money saving opportunities that were previously hidden.

Creating a rate monitor at MortgageCS is more dependable than any manual process of checking interest rates. Rate monitors at MortgageCS work around the clock by comparing the target criteria to each new offer provided to any quote request across the entire platform. Rather than a single bank or lender offering a rate watch service, MortgageCS provides real-time monitoring of offers from an entire market for comparison. Superior data and an efficient process provides for superior results at MortgageCS!