The Mortgage Bankers Association recently reported that home refinances are up 210% from last year’s levels. Interest rates have a lot to do with that. After all, when rates drop, monthly housing payments can also decrease, potentially saving homeowners thousands of dollars through the life of the loan. Let us look at what the mortgage market looked like before the COVID-19 crisis, and what it looks like now. Pre-COVID-19 mortgage rates Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shelter-in-place orders enacted for the majority of the country during the month of March, the mortgage market was arguably the strongest it had been in over a decade. Rates continued to reach historical lows, and the housing market was stable. Then, we were hit with the pandemic. What does the current mortgage market look like now? Current mortgage market The current mortgage market has had to adjust to the current economic situation, which has placed restrictions on certain loan types, but many homeowners are still able to refinance their homes. In some cases, it’s easier to be approved for a refinance because you have a good history of paying your mortgage. Also, homeowners have the added benefit that rates are continuing to drop; that alone is often a big enough reason to pursue a refinance. Did we mention that you don’t need a down payment to refinance? Will a refinance benefit you? Ask yourself these questions. Will your interest rate go down? Will a refinance result in lower monthly costs? Will the savings be enough to pay the refinance costs within 3 years? Will you own the property long enough to recapture ...
The COVID-19 pandemic that has spread across the world has brought with it, not only concerns for our physical health, but also our financial health. According to the Labor Department, 1 in 5 Americans has lost a job or seen a reduction in work hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic since the middle of March. If you are one of these people that has been negatively affected financially, we have some tips for you to manage the financial storm that you may be in currently: from taking stock of your current finances, to messages of encouragement from others who are in the same boat as you. Take financial inventory The first thing to do is to assess your current financial situation. This is as simple as making a list of your current expenses and any income you have at the current time, along with your total assets. Your expenses include the usual rent/mortgage, utilities, auto payments, gas, etc. Assets include any financial resource that is available to you during times of hardship. An example of an asset could include savings accounts, checking accounts, stocks, bonds, etc. You will also want to review areas of your budget that you can cut back on such as a gym membership, lawn maintenance, take-out, or delaying any luxury items from being purchased. Once you go through your finances, set up a temporary monthly budget and stick to it. You may have to cut back on expenses for a while, but that is only temporary. Modifying your budget during this time will help you stay afloat Taking this important step will give you a clear idea of where you are financially and will allow you to determine what course of action you need to take. ...
How Real Estate Attorneys are Making Closings Safe for Everyone During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic in Georgia, the real estate and mortgage industries have made rapid changes in order to keep the market going during a difficult time. To keep our promise for every borrower to Experience Mortgage Excellence , we want to keep you informed on these changes. To keep customers safe, our local closing attorneys are offering multiple ways to close mortgage loans. Here are just a few ways attorneys and title companies are changing their processes to continue to offer various formats of in-person closings. • Open conference rooms • Outdoor closings • Drive-up closings Traditional Conference Room Closings Many of our closing attorneys are continuing to offer in-person closings that take place inside the closing attorney’s office. The attorneys and their staff have implemented sanitizing and social distancing procedures to ensure the safety of everyone. Many closing firms are leaving all doors to and from the lobby open Borrowers will be provided with a new pen or may be asked to bring their own pen to prevent reuse. If you bring your own pen, it must be blue ink. In most purchase and sale closings, borrowers and sellers are signing in separate rooms to reduce having too many people in the conference room at once. Closing attorneys are also limiting closing attendees to include only the necessary parties in the room to comply with all safety guidelines set forth by the local, state, and federal governments. Additionally, some firms may ask that you call the office before coming inside in order to limit the number of ...
Why is April National Fair Housing Month? Beginning in April of 1968, National Fair Housing Month has been observed during the month of April. The Fair Housing Act gives all citizens of the United States equal rights to the sale, rental, and financing of housing with no discrimination based on race, color, national original, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. In addition, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits discrimination in any aspect of a credit transaction based on marital status, age, receipt of public assistance income, or exercise of rights under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. A Brief History of the Fair Housing Act The Fair Housing Act was signed into law in April of 1968 after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is formally titled, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and it is a landmark piece of legislation for the United States. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is tasked with enforcing the Fair Housing Act. Anyone that believes that he or she has been discriminated against, or believes their civil liberties listed in the Act have been violated can file administrative complaints with HUD. HUD and its Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is responsible for investigating all Fair Housing Act claims. What is the Fair Housing Act? Under the Fair Housing Act, discrimination in residential real estate transactions is prohibited based on race, color, national original, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act is a separate act. It prohibits discrimination in credit transactions based on race, color, religion, ...
What You Need to Know FACTS • As part of the CARES Act, the federal government states that borrowers with loans owned, guaranteed, or insured by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, and USDA can apply for forbearance for up to 6 months initially and up to 12 months in total. • Forbearance is not payment forgiveness. It means payment postponement. All payments are still owed. The borrower and servicer must discuss and agree on repayment options at the end of the forbearance period. • This program is intended for borrowers that are experiencing an immediate HARDSHIP that impairs their ability to make their current mortgage payments. • Forbearance is not automatic. You must contact your mortgage servicer to discuss your situation and to request and be approved for a forbearance. Your mortgage servicer is the company where you make your mortgage payment. FICTION! • Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, and USDA are all on the same page of how to handle the forbearance requests. • Loan servicers for the above referenced agencies are fully aware of the policies and procedures they must follow to determine if a borrower is eligible for forbearance. • If you postpone 6 months of payments, the payments will just be tacked on to the end of the mortgage term. This is called a modification and is a much more complicated situation than is being advertised. Please contact your servicer and FULLY understand your options for payment postponement and FULLY understand your obligation for repayment after the postponements.