Tag Archives: mortgage

Home Ownership : 5 Questions to Guide Your Decision

This article was developed as part of USAgencies Credit Union’s partnership with EverFi, Inc.

As winter melts into spring, you’ll likely start to see “For-Sale” signs popping up in your neighborhood.

Buying a home can be an exciting milestone in your life, and it’s important to educate yourself on the financial implications of home ownership before you make an offer. Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or a current owner looking to sell or refinance, there are a few key questions that should help guide your decision:

5 Questions About Home ownership

1.What are the pros and cons of owning vs. renting?

Owning a home is a long-term commitment. Recent studies show that the average buyer expects to live in their new home for 13 years before selling. While home ownership allows you to build equity and take advantage of tax benefits, owning also comes with risks.

2.Am I ready for the responsibilities of home ownership?

While property is generally considered an appreciating asset, home values are tied to economic conditions. Having your financial house in order is an important first step to buying a house! Are you confident in your ability to pay your bills on time? Are you able to budget for unanticipated costs?

3.How much home can I afford?

Determining how much home you can afford goes beyond the list price of a property. Other factors that will affect your monthly payment include interest rates, taxes, insurance, income, debt, and future monthly expenses – to name just a few. While there are numerous “affordability” calculators out there, it’s important to first understand the whole picture.

4.How will lenders evaluate my mortgage readiness & make loan decisions?

Are you familiar with the “Four C’s of Loan Credit?” – Capacity to pay back the loan, Capital, Collateral and Credit. Lenders evaluate these different factors to determine your eligibility and the terms of a mortgage loan.

5.How will my credit score impact my ability to buy?

Your credit score and the information in your credit report are key factors in whether or not you’ll be approved for a mortgage and at what interest rate. When was the last time you checked your credit?

No matter what stage of home ownership you are exploring, expanding your knowledge about the key financial questions to ask when buying a home will help you make a long-term decision that benefits you!


Have questions about Buying or Refinancing, or ready to get your application started? Connect with us at 503.275.0300 Option 2 or visit our website. 

Fair Housing Equal Opportunity Logo
USAgencies Credit Union
NMLS#: 441193

Home Shopping Snapshot: Spring 2018

Our friend Brent Schreiber, VP of Real Estate at our mortgage partner Consolidated Community Credit Union, is here to give us some insight on the current housing market, interest rates and more.

Current Status of the Market

As we head into the spring home buying season, inventory continues to be low, which makes it a very competitive situation for purchases. There is still an imbalance of buyers and sellers (more buyers than sellers), which has continued to put pressure on prices. The Portland market (Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington county) continues to see an influx of households moving to the area and with rents being high, many are looking to purchase a home. The past 2 spring-summer periods have seen bidding wars on properties as demand has outpaced supply. Rates have risen measurably to the highest point in the last 4 years, so we will soon see if that has an impact on demand. Homebuyers should look to get pre-approved prior to their home search as agents want to know that they are working with qualified borrowers who are ready to make an offer.

Interest Rates

Mortgage rates recently have risen to a 4-year high and are currently around 4.5% on a 30-year fixed conventional loan. While this rate is still historically low, it’s a significant move up from what we saw in 2017 and prior as rates were 4% and below on the same type of loan. Many factors have led to the increase in rates, but most notably a strong economy with low unemployment and a tax cut in addition to that has created some inflationary pressure (which causes rates to rise). While we don’t know if this will continue, the trend is definitely up as our economy remains strong. As rates rise, borrowers start to look at alternative products such as 5, 7 and 10-year ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages) to secure lower rates and payments. If you’ve been shopping for a home for a while and were working off of lower rates to calculate your payments, make sure you update your pre-approval and get revised payments that reflect the current rate environment.

Home Buyer Tips

First and foremost, if you are looking to buy whether in the near term or further on down the road, make sure to get pre-approved through a lender (your credit union can provide same-day pre-approvals). During the pre-approval, your lender will review your credit, income and assets in order to issue the approval. This is a good process to go through because it will let you know if you are ready to buy or not. If you’re not quite ready to buy, your lender will focus on what items are needed in order to generate an approval; if it’s a credit issue, we can let you know what to work on to improve your credit score; if it’s an income issue, we can discuss options such as getting a co-signer or paying down debt; if it’s insufficient funds for a down payment, we can discuss low down payment options as well as options for gift funds or give you savings strategies to help meet your down payment goals. Real estate agents in a competitive market are going to want to know that your finances have been looked at and approved by a lender, so make sure to do this very early in the process.

Closing costs and pre-paid items (property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and pre-paid interest) are often an overlooked part of the home buying process. Many borrowers fail to take these items into account when they are budgeting for their home purchase and look solely at the amount that they want to put down. Closing costs are in addition to the down payment and in many cases can be 2-2.5% of the purchase price ($6000-$7500 on a $300,000.00 purchase). If you are buying for say $300,000.00 and want to put 10% down ($30,000.00), this means that you are really going to have to bring $36,000.00 to close ($30,000.00 for down payment and $6000.00 for closing costs/pre-paid items). Talk to your lender and realtor about strategies to get some or all of those costs paid by the seller.

 


For more information on the home buying process or to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan, visit our website or contact us.

Fair Housing Equal Opportunity Logo

Homebuying 101: A Brief History of Rates & Home Prices

Throughout the next several weeks we’ll be posting articles and info on various aspects of the home buying process. Topics will cover everything from saving for a down payment, to refinancing, to purchasing investment properties, and more. We encourage you to connect with us on any questions you might have, and to share this information with friends and family.

 

Purchasing a home could be one of the biggest financial moves you’ll make, and deciding when the “best” time to make that move can play a big part in how much you’ll end up paying. With fewer properties for sale and rising home prices benefiting sellers, and rising rent rates and low mortgage rates encouraging buyers to jump in, both groups could recognize the benefits of the current housing market.

Currently, those home shopping (or looking to refi) are facing some of the lowest mortgage rates in history. Ultra-low mortgage rates weren’t always the norm, though. Curious about how the market has changed over the years? Let’s take a look…

Year 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate Inflation-Adjusted Median Sale Price for a Home Inflation-Adjusted Monthly Payment
1971 7.50% $135,696 $948.81
1976 8.87% $169,352 $1,346.83
1981 16.63% $165,228 $2,306.05
1986 10.19% $183,014 $1,631.83
1991 9.25% $192,124 $1,580.55
1996 7.81% $194,631 $1,402.44
2001 6.97% $215,760 $1,431.10
2005 5.87% $268,974 $1,590.22
2010 4.69% $221,800 $1,149.01
2016 3.75%* $295,600* $1,368.96*

If you look at 2016 vs 1976 you can see that, although the two payments are almost the same, the 2016 payment is based on a much more expensive house. Those buying in today’s market also have the advantage of today’s benefits and wages, so they are likely feeling the effects of the mortgage payments much more lightly than those from 1976’s market.

You can also see from the above data that, although you can’t do much to control the effects of inflation, you can take advantage of much lower-than-average mortgage rates to help keep those monthly payments low. The table shows that rates can, and will, change and that these are some of the lowest rates we’ve seen in decades. If you’re on the fence about whether or not it’s a good time for you to buy or refi, be assured that the low rates we’re seeing are well below average for the past several years.

 

Questions?

Steven Raymond, VP or Residential Lending at USAgencies Credit Union, has over 30 years of experience in the mortgage industry. Steven’s seen it all, as far as mortgages go. If you have questions—about refinancing, getting pre-approved, or anything else mortgage-related—talk to Steven!

Steven Raymond
Vice President of Residential Lending, NMLS#: 234025
Direct: (503) 275-0329
Toll-free: (800) 452-0915 x329
Email: sraymond@usacu.org

Ready to go?
Apply for a mortgage online now.

Equal Housing Lender Logo blog
USAgencies Credit Union
NMLS#: 441193

Sources:
mercurynews.com/real-estate-news/ci_30047385/since-1971-how-much-home-would-have-cos

*Data for Portland-metro area, Oregon.

Homebuying 101 – VA Loans

Throughout the next several weeks we’ll be posting articles and info on various aspects of the home buying process. Topics will cover everything from saving for a down payment, to refinancing, to purchasing investment properties, and more. We encourage you to connect with us on any questions you might have, and to share this information with friends and family.

What is a VA Loan?

The VA (Veteran’s Administration) Home Loan Guarantee Program helps veterans purchase or refinance homes through VA-approved lenders, like USAgencies Credit Union.

Loans are backed up to $417,000 in Oregon and Washington (and more in some areas) with low closing costs and fewer fees than conventional loans.

Packed with money-saving advantages such as no down payment requirement and no private mortgage insurance (PMI), it’s no surprise that the VA home loan has been used by over 18 million families. For nearly 70 years, this program has made it possible for families just like yours to experience the pride of homeownership.

The VA home loan program continues to shine brightly and forge ahead on its mission of making homeownership possible for the brave men and women who serve our country

Advantages of a VA Loan

  1. No Down Payment Necessary. Traditional loans typically require a buyer to provide between 3 to 20 percent of the home’s price as a down payment. For many first-time homebuyers, supplying this amount of money up front may not be feasible. The VA Loan is a good option for those who may not have a large sum set aside for a down payment, and who meet certain requirements (see Qualifications section).
  2. Less Stringent Qualifications. Many first-time homebuyers might not yet have a strong credit history, which can make it more difficult to get approval for a mortgage or qualify for an affordable interest rate. Since the VA Loan is government-backed, VA Loans are easier to qualify for at competitive rates.
  3. Lower Monthly Payments. Since VA Loans don’t require the added monthly expense of PMI, they tend to leave more money in your pocket each month. In addition, the competitive VA Loan rates can save a typical buyer thousands over the life of the loan.

Qualifications

In general, an honorably discharged service member is eligible for a VA home loan if he or she meets any one of these requirements:

  • Served 181 days during peacetime (Active Duty)
  • Served 90 days during war time (Active Duty)
  • Served 6 years in the Reserves or National Guard
  • The spouse of a service member who died while in service or from a service-connected disability

For more specific information about VA loan qualification, it is best to speak with an experienced home loan officer, like USAgencies’ Steven Raymond.

Next Steps…

The first step toward securing your VA loan is getting pre-approved. This involves a pre-qualification process, where a loan officer assesses the borrower’s financial situation and determines the maximum the veteran qualifies for. The borrower then must submit a completed loan application and documentation to obtain a commitment, otherwise known as a “pre-approval”.

For more detailed information about getting pre-approved for a VA loan, please contact an experienced mortgage loan officer, like Steven Raymond, VP of Residential Lending at USACU.

Questions?
Steven Raymond, VP or Residential Lending at USAgencies Credit Union, has over 30 years of experience in the mortgage industry. Steven’s seen it all, as far as mortgages go. If you have questions—about refinancing, getting pre-approved, or anything else mortgage-related—talk to Steven!

Steven Raymond
Vice President of Residential Lending, NMLS#: 234025
Direct: (503) 275-0329
Toll-free: (800) 452-0915 x329
Email: sraymond@usacu.org

Ready to go?
Apply for a mortgage online now.

Equal Housing Lender Logo blog
USAgencies Credit Union
NMLS#: 441193

Home Buying 101: The Housing Market

Throughout the next several weeks we’ll be posting articles and info on various aspects of the home buying process. Topics will cover everything from saving for a down payment, to refinancing, to purchasing investment properties, and more. We encourage you to connect with us on any questions you might have, and to share this information with friends and family!

 

Spring is in the air. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and skies are clearing. Spring is also a time when potential homebuyers start to peek out of their doors and more actively pursue a new home. With the typical springtime bump in inventory, better weather for those heading from open house to open house, and kids heading towards summer break soon, this time of year can be the ideal time to buy for some. With all of the changes we’ve seen in the housing market over the last several years, you may have questions about whether or not this is the “right time” for you…

Should You Try to “Time the Market”?
One problem with attempting to time your home purchase to the business cycle is that no one can accurately predict the future. Another challenge is that interest rates are generally higher during a depressed market and income may not be keeping up. For that reason, fewer people can qualify for a home purchase than in more prosperous times.

The “wait-and-see” strategy generally works best for first-time buyers. People who already have a home usually need to sell it in order to buy their next one. If a “move-up” buyer wants to buy a home during a depressed market, that means they usually have to sell one during the slow market, too. If a seller wants to sell his home to take advantage of a hot market when prices are fairly high, they generally have to buy their next home during that same hot market, so it tends to equal out.

How Do Changes in the Market Affect Supply & Demand?
There are times when the economy is brisk and everyone feels confident about his or her prospects for the future. As a result, they spend money. People eat out more, buy new cars, and…they buy new homes.

Then, for one reason or another, the economy slows. Companies lay off employees and consumers are more careful about where they spend money, perhaps saving more than usual. As a result, the economy decelerates even further. If it slows enough, we have a recession.

During such a time, fewer people are buying homes. When the supply of available houses is greater than the supply of buyers, appreciation may slow and prices may even fall, as happened in the early eighties and the early to mid-nineties.

If you are lucky enough to purchase a home during a slow period, you can be reasonably certain the economy will begin to show strength again. At times, real estate values may even surge drastically. In many regions of the country, this is precisely what occurred in the late eighties and nineties.

What’s the Current Market Temperature?
The past few years have seen a major boom in housing sales. And it appears things aren’t changing anytime soon. Low rates and a relatively low amount of inventory make it a prime seller’s market. Sellers are oftentimes seeing multiple offers for over asking price. What’s the best thing someone can do to buy in the current market? “Get preapproved. Get all of your ducks in a row ahead of time so you know how much house you can afford and are ready to make a quick decision on a home,” says Steven Raymond, Vice President of Residential Lending at USAgencies Credit Union. “The market is very hot. And we’re just heading into spring, which can be prime home shopping time, so it can be pretty competitive out there. Getting preapproved ahead of time ups the chances of a closed sale for buyers.”

The Take Away
Markets slow and surge, as does housing inventory and buyer confidence. No matter what the situation in the market, or in your own family, it pays to be prepared. Knowledge is power. Knowing ahead of time what you’re pre-qualified and/or pre-approved for can help put you in a better position and allows you to make the best decision for you and your family.

 

Questions?
Steven Raymond, VP or Residential Lending at USAgencies Credit Union, has over 30 years of experience in the mortgage industry. Steven’s just about seen it all, as far as mortgages go. If you have questions—about the current market, getting pre-approved, or anything else mortgage-related—talk to Steven!

Steven Raymond 
Vice President of Residential Lending, NMLS#: 234025
Direct: (503) 275-0329
Toll-free: (800) 452-0915 x329
Email: sraymond@usacu.org

Ready to go?
Apply for a mortgage online now.

 

 

Equal Housing Lender Logo blog

USAgencies Credit Union
NMLS#: 441193

Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval

Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval

You may have heard of these terms before, but maybe you don’t necessarily know the difference between the two, or for that matter, what either one of them really mean. Below is a short description of each and how both can benefit you as you make your way through the home buying process.

Pre-Qualification

Pre-Qualification is the process of determining how much money you will be eligible to borrow based on an initial interview to exchange essential financial information, including your income, savings and debts. A credit report is not needed.

By “pre-qualifying” you are not only made aware of the general amount of money you’ll be able to borrow, you will also learn about your current financial situation as it relates to purchasing a home. You will also be given tips on how to change or improve your financial status, if needed, to better meet your home purchasing goals. You’ll also learn about specific loan programs that you are qualified for and that will help you meet these goals.

Pre-Approval

Pre-Approval is the act of becoming conditionally approved for a specific home loan, prior to finding and making an offer for a home. The dollar amount submitted for approval is based upon your personal level of comfort, not to exceed an amount that is likely to be approved.

Documents that you must submit in order to obtain this service include*:

  1. Income: One month of pay stubs & two years of W2 forms.
  2. Assets: Previous two months’ worth of savings, checking and retirement account statements.
  3. Credit History: A credit report, which will be used for a mortgage transaction.

Once we receive the necessary documents, a completed loan application and all other required disclosures needed for a home loan can be produced. Typically, within 24 to 48 hours a “conditional loan approval” (commitment to make a loan) can be issued in the form of a letter that can be presented to real estate agents and sellers as evidence that you are ready and able to purchase a home.

Let’s Talk!

To find out what you can be pre-qualified and/or pre-approved for, USACU is here to help:

  • Questions? Contact Steven Raymond, our resident mortgage expert, via email (sraymond@usacu.org) or phone (503.275.0329). He has over 30 years of experience in the industry & loves to talk mortgage.
  • Ready to go? Apply for a mortgage online now.

 

*On a case by case basis more documentation may be needed to provide evidence of additional income, assets or debts.

Equal Housing Lender Logo blog

NMLS#: 441193

An Amazing View

A story from our member, Henry

Back in October 2013, Henry and his wife moved into their home with a view…. an amazing view.

IMG_1166

And just recently Henry reached out to us to say “thank you again” to Steven Raymond, our VP of Residential Lending for “all of [his] calm, assertive professionalism.” Steven “really made the financial portion of the home buying process go smoothly,” said Henry, explaining that it was the best part of the experience.

“We’re happy in our new home {with} the amazing view I have the privilege of seeing everyday.”

We’re happy you’re happy, Henry. It’s our pleasure to assist in any way we can.

#CUdifference
#USACUpride