3 Reasons Why the Cost of Title Insurance is Worth the Investment

3 Reasons Why the Cost of Title Insurance is Worth the InvestmentTitle insurance is one of the few types of protection policies available to homebuyers and one that is often overlooked because of its optional nature.

Because title insurance is purchased simultaneously with the home, it can be very easy to forego when looked at alongside all the additional fees that are associated with purchasing property.

This is typicaly not advisable, as title insurance is one of the smartest forms of protection a homeowner can buy. Here are just three reasons why every purchaser should get title insurance.

It’s The Best Protection Against Fraud

Title insurance protects the owner of a home from any claim made against their property, whether or not they are responsible. These include unpaid mortgage balances on the home, an improper foreclosure or any form of real estate fraud perpetrated by the seller.

Fraud is more prevalent now than ever before and has started to gain momentum in real estate as well. Forgeries are easier to create in the electronic age and criminals take advantage of today’s ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude to sell property they don’t actually own to unsuspecting victims.

The Insurer Performs An Exhaustive Title Search

Countless records are now made public online for low one-time payments to access them. But does anybody really know what they should be looking for? Title insurers are experts at finding anything suspicious with a home and researching exhaustively to make sure everything about the transaction is legitimate.

And if it’s not, the insurance still covers the buyer for any losses incurred if they are ordered out of their new home should a claim be made against it. Then they will research the claim to make sure it isn’t a fraudulent one.

Title Insurance Is A One-Time Fee

Although it is a large fee, title insurance only needs to be paid for once. Unlike other insurance policies that are either monthly or annually, title insurance is a one-time fee that is acquired at the time of closing. Most mortgage lenders require that their title insurance policy is paid for by the borrower anyway, so it’s not a giant leap to take out your own policy the same time.

Title insurance will also protect against mortgage fraud or any unpaid mortgages the home already has. Although title insurance is strongly recommended, it is a good idea to speak with a professional about it so that any questions you have may be answered.

Will Missing Mortgage Payments Impact My FICO Score? Yes – and Here’s How

Will Missing Mortgage Payments Impact My FICO Score Yes and Heres HowIf you’re like most homeowners, you probably believe that one missed mortgage payment won’t have a noticeable impact on your FICO score. People get behind now and then, and besides, you’ve been faithfully making payments on time for years. How bad could it be?

In truth, even one missed mortgage payment could seriously damage your FICO score. Lenders can report missed monthly payments whenever they choose – they don’t need to wait until a certain date to do it. That means even if your mortgage payment is a few days late, your lender may report it as unpaid.

So what exactly happens to a FICO score when you miss a mortgage payment? Here’s what you need to know.

Payment History: The Single Largest Factor In Determining Your Credit Score

FICO scores are calculated based on several different criteria, the largest of them being your payment history. A full 35% of your credit score is determined by how often you pay your bills on time and in full. And although FICO says that one or two late payments aren’t going to decimate your credit score, they will shave off some points that could have made the difference between a low-risk and high-risk interest rate.

Consumers With Higher Scores Have More To Lose

A 2011 FICO study analyzed the impact of late mortgage payments on consumer credit scores. The study grouped consumers into three groups based on their starting FICO score, with Consumer A having a score of 680, Consumer B a score of 720, and Consumer C a score of 780. The findings?

Even if you have a credit score of 780, being just 30 days late on a mortgage payment can result in a 100-point drop. And it can take up to three years to earn that credit back. In contrast, a consumer with a score of 680 who is 30 days late will see only a 70 point drop and can recover their original score within 9 months.

The takeaway? Contrary to popular belief, people with high credit scores stand to lose more from a missed payment than people with low credit scores.

There Are Varying Degrees Of “Late”

One common misconception is that if you miss a mortgage payment, it doesn’t matter if it’s 30, 60, or 90 days overdue. The mainstream thinking is that late is late is late. But that’s not how FICO sees it.

Although borrowers with credit scores under 700 won’t see much of a decline after 30 days late, borrowers with a higher credit score will. If you have a credit score of 720 and you’re 30 days late on your mortgage, your score will fall to about 640. If you’re 90 days late, that score will fall again this time, to about 620.

That means if you miss a mortgage payment, you need to get in touch with your lender as soon as possible in order make repayment arrangements and hope they haven’t yet reported the overdue payment. It’s your best shot at protecting your FICO score.

Five Required Mortgage Closing Costs – And A Few Tips On How To Minimize Them

Five Required Mortgage Closing Costs And A Few Tips On How To Minimize ThemMortgages are expensive, and closing costs only add to the financial burden that homebuyers face. But with a little knowledge, you can pinpoint places to save on your mortgage closing costs and keep more money in your pocket. When you’re negotiating your next mortgage, use these tips to reduce required closing costs and keep more of your hard-earned money.

Title Insurance: Request The Simultaneous Issue Rate

Title insurance is an important add-on that no buyer should go without. At the time of closing, there may be a variety of title problems that could arise, such as like encroachments, easements, unpaid liens, and fraud. If a previous property owner wasn’t properly discharged from the title, they may have a claim to the property.

In the event that title ownership challenges arise later on, your title insurance will compensate you for any losses and expenses you incur when trying to prove your ownership. Buying title insurance may help you to avoid the hourly fees you’d pay a lawyer or notary to investigate your title. Typically, when you receive title insurance, you and your lender will each have separate insurance policies on the title.

You can minimize the out-of-pocket expense by asking the insurance provider for their simultaneous issue rate. This is a highly discounted rate that applies when both the borrower and lender title insurance policies are issued at the same time.

Origination Fees: Negotiable If You Have Good Credit

An origination fee is a kind of prepaid interest fee that you surrender to your mortgage broker when you apply for a mortgage. It only applies when you use a mortgage broker.

However, it’s not a mandatory fee for most buyers – even if they go through a broker. The purpose of an origination fee is to compensate the broker for the time and effort they need to invest to get your loan approved. If you have good credit and you can prove your income, then this fee isn’t necessary – and you shouldn’t have any trouble getting your broker to eliminate this fee.

Also note that an origination fee is the same thing as a broker fee. If your agreement includes both, you’re getting charged for the same service twice. Ask for one of them to be removed.

Mortgage Application Fees: Typically A Money Grab

A mortgage application fee is another common fee that you can usually avoid. This fee – which typically runs about $50 or so – is something your lender charges you in order to cover the cost of running your credit report. However, since banks and brokers order hundreds of credit reports every day, they can pull your credit report for next to nothing.

The $50 fee they charge you is, essentially, free money for them – and you can usually get them to drop this fee if you ask.

Underwriting Fees: Your Broker Shouldn’t Charge You For Underwriting

Brokers don’t underwrite loans – lenders do. That means if you’re getting your loan through a broker, you shouldn’t have to pay any kind of underwriting fee – it should already be included in the loan terms the bank set. It’s perfectly valid for a bank to charge you an underwriting fee, but ask your broker to take underwriting fees out of your agreement.

Courier Fees: Handling Documents Should Be A Standard Business Practice

One common closing cost is courier fees. These fees come in different amounts and go by different names. It may be $20 or $50, and it may be called a courier fee or a document handling fee.

Title companies might very well use couriers to send documents, but lenders most likely won’t – and $50 is excessive. Document handling fees are a standard cost of doing business, and that means they should already be included in the lender’s core billed services, not added as an extra fee. Use this argument when you ask your lender to remove the fee – they’ll likely comply.

3 Reasons to Avoid Giving Wrong Information on Your Mortgage Application

3 Reasons to Avoid Giving Wrong Information on Your Mortgage ApplicationA mortgage application is typically several pages in length, and it requires you to provide a considerable amount of information about your personal, professional and financial life. Some mortgage applicants may not have access to all of the information when completing the application, and others may simply skim over the form and provide incomplete answers. These are only a few of the reasons why information on the mortgage application may not be accurate, but there are several key reasons why applicants should avoid giving inaccurate information.

Loan Approval is Based on It

The initial loan application will usually serve as a basis for the pre-qualification of the mortgage request. The applicant may make a decision to move forward with an offer to purchase a home based on this pre-qualification, but the pre-qualification is based on the accuracy of the information that is initially provided to the lender in the loan application. If the information is incorrect then an applicant may not be able to qualify for the loan and the deal could fall through.

Information Will Be Verified

The majority of the information that is provided by the applicant in the loan application will be verified at various points throughout the loan process. For example, a credit report may be pulled very early on in the loan process, and it may be used to document the accuracy of the debts and monthly payments that the applicant wrote on the loan application. Tax returns, pay stubs and other related documentation may also be required. Essentially, the lender will eventually have access the accurate data, so there is little benefit to provide inaccurate information up-front on the loan application.

It Is Against the Law

A final reason why it is not advisable to provide inaccurate information on the application is because this is illegal. There is a disclaimer on the standard mortgage application that goes into detail about the law regarding providing false information on a loan application. There are also disclosures that are signed before and during closing that relate to this.

Completing a loan application is an important step buyers go through when buying a home, and it is easy to overlook the importance of providing accurate and detailed information at this stage in the process. It is best to take time complete the loan application as thoroughly and accurately as possible since it is a legal requirement and because of many other negative consequences. Those who have questions about buying a home or buyers who are ready to begin the loan application process who don’t have a mortgage expert to work with can reach out to their trusted real estate professional for guidance.

First-time Mortgage Borrowers: Avoid These “Rookie Mistakes”

First-time Mortgage Borrowers: Avoid These Many home buyers who are applying for their first mortgage will go to great lengths to research the options, learn more about loan terms and generally educate themselves about a process that they are unfamiliar with. Despite these common steps that rookie mortgage applicants make, they often make similar mistakes when applying for their first mortgage. By learning about these common mistakes, you can take steps to prevent making them yourself.

Not Focusing on All Costs of Home Ownership

Many first-time home buyers are overwhelmingly focused on setting up a mortgage payment that is affordable for their budget. While this is important, the mortgage payment is not the only expense associated with home ownership. For example, there are property taxes, insurance, repair and maintenance expenses, homeowners’ association dues and more. All of these expenses should be reviewed when you consider what mortgage payment is affordable for your budget.

Not Thinking About Short and Long-Term Plans

You should also think about short and long-term plans for your home ownership experience. Some will choose a long term or an adjustable rate to keep the payments low. However, they will not consider the fact that the payment will be in place until the home is sold or the loan is refinanced. It is not certain what mortgage rates will be in the future or if you may qualify for a great rate on a refinance loan in the future, so you should always ensure that you can maintain the payment structure for as long as needed.

Not Getting Pre-Qualified

It can be intimidating to get pre-qualified for a home mortgage. Some may fear rejection or denial altogether, and some may estimate an amount they may qualify for without actually getting pre-qualified. This can backfire for you. The pre-qualification process helps you to learn the maximum loan amount you may qualify for and the payment for that amount, and this is sound, valuable information that can help you to make a more informed decision when selecting your home.

As a first-time home buyer, you may be stressed about finding the right home to buy and researching the neighborhoods and schools. While these are all factors to pay attention to, you also need to focus heavily on your mortgage. Through these efforts, you can set up an affordable home loan that is comfortable for you to manage on your budget.

The Pros and Cons of Using Spare Funds to Pay Your Mortgage Down Faster

The Pros and Cons of Using Spare Funds to Pay Your Mortgage Down Faster A home mortgage payment can be a large or even the largest expense in a person’s budget, and not having this payment any longer can be a life changing experience. Because of this, you may be dreaming about the day when you no longer have to make this payment.Some people may even actively make extra payments to their mortgage in order to pay the outstanding balance off more quickly.These may be funds from an IRS tax refund, cash received from the holidays or a birthday or some other windfall.

Before you make the decision about whether to use spare funds to pay your mortgage down more quickly, consider these pros and cons.

The Benefits of Making Extra Mortgage Payments

You can shave many years off of your home mortgage when you make even a single extra payment each year. This can help you to achieve long-term financial goals, build equity and avoid paying more than necessary in interest charges. Keep in mind that any principal that is removed from the outstanding balance now will not generate interest charges going forward. This can have a snowball effect on your home equity, and this is especially true when you make extra payments on a regular basis.

Why Extra Payments Are Not Always the Best Option

Clearly, there are some great benefits associated with making extra payments on your home mortgage. However, there are also some downsides to consider before you take this step. Your home mortgage may be one of your debts with the lowest interest rate.

For example, many mortgage interest rates today are below five percent while some credit card rates may exceed 15 or 18 percent. Over the long-term, you may benefit more from savings on interest charges by reducing higher interest rate debts. Even if you have no other debts besides your home mortgage payment, you may be able to invest the money for a higher return than the interest rate on the mortgage.

Each person has different short and long term goals as well as a different financial situation to consider. With how low mortgage rates are today, however, many will benefit from paying off high interest rate debts and making smart investment decisions with any extra money they have.

Saving Up for Your Down Payment? Try These Money-Saving Tips To Speed Things Up

Saving Up for Your Down Payment? Try These Money-saving Tips to Speed Things UpOne of the most significant challenges that many people face when preparing to buy a first home relates to saving money for a down payment. While there are many different loan programs with varying down payment requirements, the fact is that it can still be difficult to save up a large sum of money. Some programs may require you to save as much as 10 percent or 20 percent of the sales price of the home.

You can employ a few different tips and techniques to save money for a down payment more quickly, and these are some of the options that others have successfully used to save money for their home purchase.

Make Saving Automatic

One idea that works well for many people is to make saving for your new home automatic. This may be as simple as scheduling a regular draft or transfer from your checking account when your paycheck is deposited into your savings account. Some employers may even facilitate this process by contributing some of your funds into a savings account on your behalf. With this option, the money would go directly into your savings account without you having a chance to spend it.

Take Advantage of Retirement Accounts

If your employer provides you with the option of investing in an employer-sponsored retirement account, you should take advantage of this option. Many will offer a dollar-for-dollar matching program, and this may essentially double the amount of money that is saved in the account.

More than that, the funds from many retirement accounts may be withdrawn without penalty if they are used for a first-time home purchase. There are some rules and regulations regarding this, so you should research this option more thoroughly.

These are among the two best options for saving money for a down payment for your first home purchase. There are other ideas that you can consider as well. For example, you may borrow from a whole life insurance policy, obtain a gift from a family member or even sell some of your personal belongings that you no longer need or use.

When you combine many of these ideas together, you may be surprised how quickly your down payment fund can grow.

Save Some Additional Cash with Our Guide to Lowering Your Monthly Mortgage Payment

Save Some Additional Cash with Our Guide to Lowering Your Monthly Mortgage Payment If you are like many other homeowners, your home mortgage payment is the single largest expense in your monthly budget. This is a fixed expense that you will typically be responsible for until your loan is paid in full or until you sell your home, and you may have a 15, 20 or even 30 year term on your mortgage.

If your home mortgage payment has become unaffordable or burdensome for you to manage with your current financial situation, rest assured that you may be able to save some additional cash each month without selling your home. Refinancing your existing mortgage can provide you with important financial benefits to help you better manage your budget.

How Refinancing Lowers Your Mortgage Payment

Refinancing your existing mortgage essentially will replace your existing loan with a new loan, but you may not understand how this will result in a lower mortgage payment. When you initially applied for your current mortgage, your payment was fixed based on the interest rates at the time as well as the original loan balance. Since that time, you likely have reduced your loan balance considerably, and interest rates may be improved as well. In fact, some homeowners are able to refinance to a lower rate as well as pull equity out of their home in the process.

How Home Equity Could Further Reduce Monthly Expenses

While your main goal for refinancing a home mortgage may be to reduce the large monthly mortgage payment that you are responsible for, the fact is that you may be able to use your home equity to further reduce your monthly expenses. For example, you can use extra funds provided to you through a refinance to pay off an outstanding student loan, a car payment or a credit card balance. Some homeowners may even be able to pay off most or all of their debts by tapping into their home equity.

It is common for homeowners who have a high and unmanageable mortgage payment to feel overwhelmed and even trapped by their financial situation. However, as you can see, lowering your mortgage payment and even reducing some of your other expenses may be easier to do than you might think.

Thinking About Buying a Rental Property? 3 Reasons You’ll Want to Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval

Thinking About Buying a Rental Property? 3 Reasons You'll Want to Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval A rental property is a wonderful investment option to consider, and it can provide you with everything from considerable tax benefits to appreciation and monthly cash flow. While you may be eager to get started searching for a new rental property to invest in, a good idea is to take the initial step to get pre-approved for your mortgage.

There are several good reasons why a pre-approval is an important first step to take.

Determining What Sales Price to Consider

The mortgage rules and guidelines for an investment or non-owner occupied property are different than those for an owner occupied property. For example, a key difference is that most lenders will require you to make a larger down payment. When you get pre-approved for your mortgage, you can more easily narrow down your property choices so that you only consider those that are affordable for your budget.

Estimating Cash Flow

When you invest in a rental property, you will need to estimate the cash flow for the property to ensure that it is a good investment. This may include reviewing the monthly rents and operating expenses, and it also includes analyzing the mortgage payment. When you get pre-approved for your mortgage, you can estimate your monthly payment and determine which properties are a better investment opportunity for you and which will generate the largest profit for you.

Structuring A Stronger Offer

By getting pre-approved, your mortgage professional will provide you with a pre-approval letter. This letter can be given to a seller when you structure your offer, and essentially this will strengthen your offer and make you look like a more serious and qualified buyer. When you are in a bidding war, this letter can make a big difference in your success. Furthermore, it can streamline your mortgage process once your offer is accepted by the buyer, and it will enable you to create a more realistic closing date on your offer.

While you may be ready to jump head first into your property search, you may benefit from taking time to get pre-approved for your mortgage. This process takes very little time to do, and it will facilitate the entire process. From searching for a great property and analyzing its strength as an investment opportunity to helping you pass through the loan process, you will benefit in a number of ways. You can reach out to your trusted real estate agent today to begin the process.

Freelancing in 2015? Three Tips for How to Secure a Mortgage if You’re a Self-Employed Entrepreneur

Freelancing in 2015? Three Tips for How to Secure a Mortgage if You're a Self-employed EntrepreneurIf you are self-employed, either as a freelancer or as the owner of your own business, your income can fluctuate greatly from year to year. That can make it difficult to get approved for a mortgage, although there are some things you can do to improve your chances. Here are three tips for securing a mortgage if you are self-employed.

Make Sure Your Credit Score Is In Good Shape

While your ability to pay back a mortgage is the most important factor in approval, your credit score is a close second, and that goes for every borrower, not just those who are self-employed. If you have a credit score in the high range — something above 750 or 760 — it will help you get approved for a mortgage. To boost your score, make sure you pay all bills on time, pay down your debt levels and don’t make any new big purchases or apply for new credit soon before you apply for a mortgage.

Have a Large Down Payment

The more money a bank lends you to buy a house, the more risk it is taking in that the money won’t be paid back. If you are self-employed and considered a higher risk to begin with, one way you can alleviate some of that risk is to be able to put down a large amount of money. Putting down 20 percent is standard for a conventional loan, and you should be willing to contribute at least that much. Putting down at least 20 percent also will save you money in the long run, because you won’t have to pay for mortgage insurance and you will pay less in finance charges over the life of the loan.

Have Significant Assets

One way to put a lender at ease about your ability to pay for a mortgage is to have significant reserves in the form of assets. If you have large amounts of money in regular savings, brokerage and retirement accounts, it offers a reserve for you to tap should your income take a dive. Other forms of property, such as personal and business property that’s paid off and has value, also help.