Seems like you can’t look, watch or listen to anything without hearing something about mortgage interest rates, the impact of Brexit an rates and even “more historic lows” and a possible refi boom. There’s a ton of articles, information, speculation and opinion about what homeowners can do and gain during times of low interest rates and a lot of it is interesting and helpful. Here are a couple highlights:
- Save thousands of dollars on the life of their loans by getting a lower rate or shorter term (15 vs. 30 year)
- Pay of a home equity line of credit
- Consolidating debt
- Get rid of mortgage insurance
These can all be great things…the problem is, you can’t know for sure if any of these things are possible and if they make sense for you personally when it comes to costs/fees/savings without getting specific, professional advice. While it looks so available online, it’s not necessarily personalized…a mortgage calculator just doesn’t tell the whole story. At GCS Title, we work with many, many incredible mortgage loan officers. These people are licensed, experienced – and they’re actual, local people who you can reach without going through an automated system – which is a big deal when you’re making choices and decisions that affect such a big part of your finances. Loan officers are happy to discuss your situation and let you know if you have options you didn’t know you had and their findings will be geared to what’s right for you – no obligation. Let us know if we can introduce you to a loan officer who can answer your questions…a refi boom could be a great thing – as long as it doesn’t blow up in your face. ~Charlie
It can be hard – and actually kind of boring – to keep up with everything lawmakers are passing that affects the real estate and mortgage industries in the interest of “protecting consumers.” The latest development out of Washington D.C. is passage of the SAFE Transitional Licensing Act that basically gives mortgage loan officers a temporary license when making a change. Those changes could be between companies or across state lines. Why should anyone who isn’t a lender in transition care? The government has spent a lot of time examining the real estate process – lending practices, settlement procedures, licensing, disclosures and marketing rules after the “real estate bubble burst” and the “mortgage meltdown.” All the new rules and scrutiny came after the waves of foreclosures and underwater properties that did in fact cause a great deal of suffering for individuals and the economy. Politicians will always be busy making laws – it’s what they do. We at GCS and the Realtors and lenders we work with also understand that consumers must be protected and empowered. Whether you’re a renter or homeowner, there are many times when real estate and mortgage professionals can be helpful – even outside the times when you’re buying, selling or refinancing. The housing and finance crises of years past have made Realtors and loan officers necessary members of your “household finance team” and they can help you stay on top of your home’s value, your credit, your ability to make a move and your options at any given time. Take advantage of their knowledge and commitment to neighborhoods, communities and your ability to build worth and wealth through homeownership! ~Charlie
The Spring-Summer market is underway and everywhere you read and watch, you’ll find comments about the real estate market, interest rate movement, shortages of homes for sale in certain areas and price ranges. People outside the real estate and mortgage industries may wonder what it all means – and if they don’t, they should. It’s so easy to draw a conclusion about how the market’s doing, whether or not it’s a good time to buy or sell, if mortgage interest rates are good and so on. The problem with that is, it’s virtually impossible to know whether or not that conclusion is true without information from a real estate and mortgage professional that was researched and prepared specifically for an individual or family. Here are some questions consumers should NEVER try to answer by reading the news or surfing the net alone:
- Can I afford and qualify for a home?
- Can I get enough money for my home to buy a different one?
- Are interest rates good or should I wait to see if they’ll go lower?
- Is it a good time to buy a home or are prices going to hold steady or go down?
These are just a few typical questions that should be verified with a review of your personal situation. Drawing the wrong conclusion based on general information or statistics can cause you to miss an opportunity. Don’t worry – you don’t have to “sign your life away” to get a professional, specific opinion. We at GCS Title work with many experienced professionals and can connect you with people who can answer your questions with no obligation or pressure. Let us know what questions are on your mind – we’re happy to help you get them answered. ~ Charlie
On the House
Charlie Lawson – GCS Title
Different aspects of the housing market are going in different directions. But the latest “ups and downs” are pretty favorable. RE/Max is out with its latest National Housing Report and it shows we’ve got a healthy market that’s really picking up:
- The U.S. housing market has gone 50 months without a drop in the median sales price
- Home sales jumped 33.4% from February to March – that’s also a 3.6% year-over-year increase
- Forty-four of the 53 metro areas included in the report experienced home price increases
More homes have sold, prices are holding steady and rising in most areas; we’re also finding that the time it takes a home to sell is decreasing:
- March marked the 36th consecutive month where time on market was fewer than 80 days
- The average days on market in March was 71 – down four days from February and seven days year-over-year
As we’re seeing a jump in market activity, we’re simultaneously seeing a crash in mortgage interest rates. We’ve got the lowest interest rates since May 2013 according to the Primary Mortgage Market Survey from guarantor Freddie Mac. This “crash” is a good thing for a lot of people! Lower rates will make it possible for more people to qualify for mortgages and can stimulate buying activity, allowing more homeowners to be able to move up, downsize or move on. One thing to be concerned about is low housing inventory in some housing areas and price ranges; however, your professional real estate and lending professionals can help you be prepared to compete for the home of your dreams in a fast-paced marketplace. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage (and talking to a lender even if you’re not quite ready to buy) and discussing your goals and preferences with a Realtor will help you navigate the market conditions and take advantage of interest rates that won’t last forever. ~Charlie
You’ve probably heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that affects people’s moods and happiness levels in the winter months when there’s less sunshine. That in mind, some researchers wanted to know if sunshine or clouds affected mortgage loan approvals (not making this up). Folks at the University of Washington compared loan approvals on unexpectedly sunny days to those on unexpectedly cloudy days and found some interesting things: 1) The number of approvals on the sunny days was higher and 2) The “sunny day approvals” also proved more likely to go into default. Anyone who has ever gone through the process of getting a mortgage might (and probably should) freak out to hear this and wonder, “After all the paperwork, scrutiny, explanations and proof of everything, it comes down to SUNSHINE?” It’s not quite that simple, but UW felt their data was strong enough to publicize. UW Associate Finance Professor Ran Duchin says, “The cool thing about this data is that for all the applications that are approved, we could actually trace the performance of those loans being originated, after they’re approved.” Duchin says this data should motivate lenders to investigate “to what extent should we automate some of the decision-making processes … to avoid this sort of human factor, these mistakes.”
I know from years of doing business and working with the finest loan officers and lending institutions that this research makes for an interesting news item, but it’s not even close to the whole story. Things like the weather shouldn’t affect your loan approval or experience as a borrower. One way to make sure you’re not harmed by a “fair weather lender” is to deal with experienced professionals. Get recommendations and research loan officers and companies before making a decision and don’t make an “impulse application” online without due diligence. Anyone who’s ever gotten a mortgage understands how helpful “live humans” are when the process gets stressful and complicated (and that’s practically the definition of “mortgage process”). Ask us! We can connect you with the best of the best.
I’m really excited! We’re just a few weeks into publishing my blog and I’ve already been getting requests for topics to cover. Call or email me any time if you have any special requests and my team and I will make sure we address your question here in the blog – and personally if you want or need more specific details. My first question came from Peter, who wanted me to talk about “different types of title – warranty, personal representative” because he needed to explain them to a client. What Peter is referring to are actually different types of deeds. For the consumers out there, deeds are instruments for conveying property from one party to another. The most common types of conveyance deeds are warranty deeds, grant deeds and quitclaim deeds. Depending on what state you live in, the first two are the most common deeds used when a home seller transfers a property to a buyer – in Minnesota, we use warranty deeds. A quitclaim deed is used when one or more parties on title to a property relinquish their interest to one or more people also in title. A bummer of an example of a common use of a quitclaim deed is in a divorce when one spouse “quitclaims” to another as part of their settlement. The other deed Peter asked about is a Personal Representative deed which is used most often when a property owner is incapacitated in some way or in situations where there’s an estate involved.
This is a very simplified version of types of deeds, so please understand there are many factors to consider when deciding what type of deed or method of conveyance you will use. Your real estate and mortgage professionals can help identify special circumstances you may have, but like the title companies, they cannot give tax or legal advice. Be sure and ask questions and get advice from the proper resources.
Thanks for the questions – and keep them coming!
Owner & President
GCS Title – Global Closing & Title Services