Why Your ‘Debt-to-Income Ratio’ Number Matters When Obtaining a Mortgage

If you are looking to buy a home, you may want to consider shopping for a loan first. Having your financing squared away ahead of time can make it easier to be taken seriously by buyers and help move along the closing process. For those who are looking to get a mortgage soon, keep in mind that the Debt-to-Income ratio of the borrower plays a huge role in the approval of your mortgage application.

What is a Debt-to-Income Ratio?

A debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of monthly debt payments compared to the amount of gross income that a person earns each month. Your gross monthly income is typically the amount of money you earn before taxes and other deductions are taken out. If a person’s monthly gross income is $2,000 a month and they have monthly debt payments of $1000 each month, that person would have a DTI of 50 percent. The lower the DTI the better. 43 percent is in most cases the highest DTI that potential borrowers can have and still get approved for a mortgage.

What Debt Do Lenders Review?

The good news for borrowers is that lenders will disregard some debt when calculating a borrower’s DTI. For example, utilities, cable, phone and health insurance premium would not be considered as part of your DTI. What lenders will look at are any installment loan obligations such as auto loans or student loans as well as any revolving debt payments such as credit cards or a home equity line of credit.In some cases, a lender will disregard an installment loan debt if the loan is projected to be paid off in the next 10-12 months.

What Is Considered Income?

Almost any source of income that can be verified will be counted as income on a mortgage application. Wage income is considered as part of a borrower’s monthly qualifying income. Self-employed individuals can use their net profit as income when applying for a mortgage, however, many lenders will average income in the current year with income from previous years. In addition, those who receive alimony, investment income or money from a pension or social security should make sure and include those figures in their monthly income as well when applying for a loan.

How Much Debt Is Too Much Debt?

Many lenders prefer to only offer loans to those who have a debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent or lower. Talking to a lender prior to starting the mortgage application process may help a borrower determine if his or her chosen lender offers such leeway.

A borrower’s DTI ratio can be the biggest factor when a lender decides whether to approve a mortgage application. Those who wish to increase their odds of loan approval may decide to lower their DTI by either increasing their income or lowering their debt. This may make it easier for the lender and the underwriter to justify making a loan to the borrower. For more information, contact us at Mason-McDuffie Mortgage at 925.242.4400.

The Type of Home You Want to Buy Determines Your Closing Cost and Here’s Why

Savvy home buyers who are preparing to make a real estate purchase should do their research and understand that they need to save money for not only the down payment but the closing costs as well. The closing costs can account for as much as three to five percent of the sales price in some cases, so this can be a rather sizable amount of money. Some home buyers however, may not realize that the amount of closing costs can vary considerably based on the home that is purchased. With a closer look at why this is, home buyers can make a more educated decision when selecting a home to purchase.

Prepaid Taxes And Insurance

One of the most significant closing costs relates to prepaid taxes and insurance, and both of these expenses are directly tied to the location and value of the property. Consider that the property tax rate can vary based on the city, county, and state. Real estate insurance can also vary based on the type of construction of the home if the home is located in a flood plain and other factors. These are only a few examples of how the location and property type can impact these fees, and home buyers should consider the costs associated with the tax rates and insurance when selecting a property to purchase.

Third Party Reports

There are several third party reports that are commonly paid for at closing, and these include an appraisal, a survey, a pest inspection and a property inspection. The third party reports may vary in cost based on the size of the home, the amount of land that is being purchased, and even the condition of the property. Those who want to keep their closing costs lower may consider learning more about how these fees are calculated up-front before finalizing their plans to buy a specific home.

Title Insurance Fees

Title insurance fees are another typically sizable expense for home buyers, and this insurance offers protection to the lender if the title is not clean. Title insurance can increase based on the size of the property as well as different factors that are revealed with a title search. This information can be difficult to learn with an initial home search, but home buyers should be aware that title defects can increase closing costs.

The location, size, age and construction of a property all impact the closing costs. Those who are shopping for real estate may be inclined to make a decision that keeps closing costs down, and they can reach out to us at Mason-McDuffie Mortgage at 925.242.4400 for more assistance with their particular situation.

Buying Your First Home? Learn These 5 Essential Home Maintenance Skills as Soon as Possible

Buying Your First Home? Learn These 5 Essential Home Maintenance Skills as Soon as PossibleNew homes can be scary. But when you take the time to think about it, and plan ahead, maintaining a home is easier than you think a manageable mix of experience and common sense. Here are five skills that will help maintain your new home for years to come.

Fixing A Toilet

It’s not as daunting as it sounds. Just remember that toilets work with gravity the water wants to flow freely. Don’t be afraid to open that tank up and adjust the floater and valves as needed. Occasionally run the water (flush the toilet, turn on the sink) in unused rooms, like the guest bathroom, to keep the pipes clear and functioning.

Dealing With Animals

Sometimes your animal neighbors invite themselves in. While it’s always better to use professionals if you have a large-scale or persistent pest problem, there are steps you can take to minimize animal visitors before it comes to that. Check for termites by looking for raised, hollow tubes along the wood (tubes filled with bugs). If you have mice, and know how they’re getting in, block their holes with steel wool and set friendly traps ones that capture instead of kill. But make sure to release the captives far from your home.

Electricity and Water Awareness

Know how to shut off your electricity and water, just in case. Find the shut-offs when you first move in. And take the time then to test the breakers and label them, clearly, directly, with permanent marker. That way there is no confusion if one gets tripped.

A Regular Deep Clean

On a regular basis, give your house a deep clean. Scrub the bathrooms, clean the kitchen appliances and floors/walls. Doing this will not only prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime, which could lead to bigger problems later on, but will also give you a chance to do a run-down of your house and see what needs fixing/updating/replacing.

Be Prepared

Gather your home maintenance kit (Home Maintenance for Dummies has examples) before you need it, and keep it up if you use all the nails, replace them. It’s also a good idea to make a maintenance calendar with notes on what needs to be done when this makes it easy for the homeowner, and anyone they need to step in. Finally, in being prepared, don’t forget to maintain your fire and carbon monoxide detectors with regular checks and battery changes (suggested every six months, regardless of battery life). Contact one of our Mason-McDuffie Mortgage professionals at 925.242.4400, who can help you get started on your road to home ownership.

Getting to Know the Neighbors: 3 Tips for Building Good Relationships

Getting to Know the Neighbors: 3 Tips for Building Good RelationshipsOne of the factors involved in feeling truly comfortable in your community is the relationships that you’ve been able to establish with the locals in your neighborhood, but it can be hard to know how to nurture a good relationship. Whether you’re moving to a new home soon or are wondering how to make some nearby friends, here are some simple tips for ingratiating the ones that live closest to you.

Offer up Your Favorite Dish

It might seem like a bit of a risk, but one of the best ways to get to know your neighbors is to knock on their door and bring along your favorite treat as an offering. Whether it’s your famed banana bread or your best chocolate chip cookies, simply showing up on the doorstep with treats in hand will ensure your neighbors know that you want to get to know them, and they’ll likely be happy to return the favor down the road!

Throw A Little Party

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of taking treats over to all of your neighbors, you may want to consider throwing a party or backyard barbecue at your home for a more effective means of meeting everyone. By putting flyers around the community, you’ll easily interest other neighbors in your newfound presence on the block. As well, if you don’t want to go through all the planning of a big party, you can also make it a potluck style meal so everyone can share their own dish.

Make A Habit Of Neighborhood Walks

It’s certainly the least complicated of all the other options, but short walks through your neighborhood may also produce the most success in getting to know more about your neighbors. If you have a pet or a child, these tend to be automatic conversation starters, but a simple smile or ‘hello’ will also do the trick in making your face familiar. It also means you’ll get to know people over time and will be able to build a solid relationship.

It can often be hard to know how to integrate into a new community, but a simple smile or knock on the door can mean a lot when it comes to building a friendship with your neighbors. Contact Mason-McDuffie Mortgage at 925.242.4400 for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 22, 2016

Last week’s economic news included the NAHB Housing Market Index, Commerce Department releases on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Shortages of available single-family homes have driven up home prices and increased competition among homebuyers; short inventories of homes for sale are affecting affordability in many areas, although buyers seem motivated by lower mortgage rates and some easing of mortgage requirements. Analysts have repeatedly said that the only solution to the shortage of homes is building more homes.

Fortunately, the National Association of Home Builders reported that builder sentiment concerning U.S. housing markets increased in August. The HMI moved up to a reading of 60 in August as compared to July’s reading of 58. Readings over 50 indicate that a majority of builders surveyed are confident about housing market conditions.

According to NAHB, home builders continued to face obstacles including shortages of buildable lots and skilled labor. Regulatory issues were also cited by some builders, but overall, builders remain optimistic about housing market conditions.

Housing Starts Up, Building Permits Issued Slip in July

Commerce Department reading s on housing starts and building permits issued were mixed; housing starts rose from July’s reading of 1.186 million permits issued to 1.211 million permits issued in August. July’s reading was the second highest since the recession but was driven by multi-family construction. Building permits were lower in August with a reading of 1.152 million permits issued against July’s reading of 1.153 million permits issued.

Analysts said that under present market conditions, there is little reason for homebuilders to increase single-family home production as current pricing has put many would-be buyers on the sidelines.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported that average rates for 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages dropped last week while the average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages rose. The average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 3.43 percent and the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 2.74 percent; both readings were two basis points lower than for the prior week. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage was two basis points higher at 2.76 percent. Average discount points held steady for fixed rate mortgages at 0.50 percent; average discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were lower at 0.40 percent.

New Jobless claims fell by 4000 claims to 262,000 new claims, which was lower than analyst expectations of 265,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 266,000 new claims. Job security is important to home buyers and signs of strong labor markets can help propel would-be buyers into the market,

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes releases on new and existing home sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released on schedule.

Real Estate Investing: How to Find Great Deals on Undeveloped Lots with Big Potential

Real Estate Investing: How to Find Great Deals on Undeveloped Lots with Big PotentialPurchasing a plot of land can be one of the best investments to make. A landowner has great (but not unlimited) freedom in how to develop their plot, and land never expires so its potential is essentially infinite. That said, buying undeveloped or vacant land can be risky business, so read on to find tips on purchasing a plot.

Do Your Homework: Before You Get Onto The Land

Before anything else happens, figure out your priorities. Decide what you want the land for, what amenities and what location you want, what you’re looking for in terms of neighbors or local government, and, of course, know your budget. More specific questions will arise around taxes, fees,and permits for building, available utilities/water access but, first, just start with your ideal land plot and work backwards (and into reality) from there.

Do Your Due Diligence: On The Land Itself

Once you find a plot that fits your needs on paper, get out onto it. Walk the land with an eye on the topography (any unexpected hills or valleys? Is the ground solid/fertile/arable, depending on what you need?), neighboring properties, size and shape of the plot, and any other element that the walk brings to your senses (smell and hearing as well as sight). Ideally, do this walk in the fall, so there is no foliage hiding your view of the property and what’s around it.

Don’t Despair: It’s Costly, But There Are Deals Out There

Remember that developing the land will incur costs too. Budget for as many foreseeable costs as you can, including a land survey, well/utility installation, legal fees, land clearing, landscaping, road construction and others. That said there are places you can look at for deals on the initial land purchase, including property lots for sale (which are cheaper the farther they are from major cities, road access, and already-connected utilities) or bank-owned plots. For those, you can talk to your real estate agent about asking local banks for lists of their foreclosed properties, which tend to be cheaper as banks look to sell them off.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask: Reaching Out To Experts

Finally, talk to people. Ask locals about the neighborhood, previous uses of the land, potential surprises (like calm paths that turn into snowmobile trails in the winter). Connect with professionals in the local health department, zoning and building departments, accountancy and other areas of development for in-depth answers to your municipal questions. Let Mason-McuDuffie Mortgae be your first point of contact at 925.242.4400.

NAHB: Builder Sentiment Improves in August

Buyer Beware: 4 Common Problems Home Sellers Try to HideAccording to the National Association of Home Builders, August home builder sentiment met analyst expectations and rose by two points to a reading of 60; July’s reading was revised downward to 58. Two out of three components used in calculating the Home Builder Index were higher. Builder sentiment concerning current housing conditions rose two points to 65. Builders were also more confident about housing market conditions within the next six months; August’s reading was one point higher at 56. Builders were less confident about buyer traffic in new housing developments. August’s reading slipped one point to 44.

Any reading above 50 indicates that a majority of builders surveyed were confident in market conditions; readings for buyer traffic have not reached 50 since 2005.

Building More Homes Seen as Solution to Persistent Home Shortage

Shortages of available homes have caused demand for homes to surge in recent months. As demand increases, home prices rise. This thwarts positive conditions including low mortgage rates and recent reports of rebounding job creation. If builder confidence rises, it follows that builders will expand construction, but builders also cited factors including regulatory obstacles, a lack of qualified labor and shortages of land available for development as ongoing concerns.

Regional Confidence Readings Mixed

Regional readings for builder confidence were mixed; builder confidence in the Northeast increased by two points to 41. In the South, builder confidence also rose two points to 63. Builder sentiment in the West was unchanged at 69 while builder sentiment in the Midwest fell two points to 55.

Although growing builder confidence considered positive in light of home shortages, analysts said that single-family housing starts remain well below historical levels.

In related news, NAHB reported that readings for the 55 plus housing market index increased by one point to 57 as compared to the first quarter reading and was unchanged as compared to the second quarter of 2015. As with the general HMI, any reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer are confident in market conditions for 55 plus housing markets.