Co-borrowers and Mortgages

First-time homebuyers may face challenges when it comes to securing a mortgage loan. They may not have a long enough credit or work history, and they are often paying off student loans, among other reasons. Many turn to co-borrowers to make their dream homes come true.

Co-borrowers can be anyone, including a spouse, who is willing to be co-liable for repaying the mortgage loan. According to The Lenders Network, a co-borrower’s income, assets, and better debt-to-income ratio (DTI) can be equally considered with the main borrower’s, improving the chances of getting loan approval for more money and with a lower interest rate. Lenders will consider the credit scores of both the main borrower and co-borrower, but will use the lower of the two.

A co-borrower is equally liable on the loan documents regarding repayment, but they may not have ownership interest in the home. In this case, the co-borrower is called a co-signer and is not on the title of the property, meaning the co-signer can’t borrow against the home as an asset.

If the home is sold, the co-borrowers split the proceeds, while a co-signer is not entitled to split any profit. Because the co-borrower or co-signer risks their own DTI ratio and potentially their credit score, as well as liability for loan payments should the main borrower default, why would they participate?

It’s a matter of love, trust and the expectation that once the main borrower’s financial situation improves, they’ll refinance the home into their name only.

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Why You Only Need One Real Estate Professional

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When you’re searching for a home, it makes sense to put all available resources to work for you. That’s why it’s tempting for some buyers to communicate with more than one real estate professional. But, using multiple professionals in the same area could work against you.

Real estate professionals are state-licensed and most choose to specialize in their own cities or their own neighborhoods. They have access to the same multiple listing data as others. If you’re working with multiple agents, sooner or later they’ll find out, and you may miss being the first to see new listings coming onto the market. They’ll show those to dedicated buyers before notifying you.

Your Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices agent has all the information, contacts, and experience you need to find a home, plus the backing of one of the most respected names in the real estate industry. He or she will network with other professionals to help you meet your goals. With such a strong support system, you’ll be quickly apprised of relevant homes for sale as well as those coming on the market.

The best course is to be honest about your goals and preferences. If you’re interested in more than one community, say so and ask for a referral to a specialist in the other area. Both professionals will help you with enthusiasm.

What you don’t want to do is keep your intentions secret. No professional can meet your expectations if they don’t know what you really want.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

The Credit Scores You Need to Buy a Home

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Mortgage lenders check your credit history before approving a home-buying loan. Your credit scores are crucial to getting the amount you want to borrow at a good interest rate.

Your income vs. your debt, your payment history, the length of time you’ve had credit, new credit you’ve opened, and the types of credit you owe (such as student loans or consumer debt) are all calculated in a valuation system known as credit or FICO scores.

FICO scores range from 300 to 850, but because mortgage loans are so large and have such a long payback period, most lenders require scores between 520 to 700 and above, depending on the type of loan.

“Conforming” loans are guaranteed by the federal government, including FHA or VAloans. They require a minimum score of 500 to 520 and any scores lower than 580 will increase the minimum down- payment required to 10%. If you’re married or have a co-borrower, their scores must meet the same requirements.  All FHA loans require private mortgage insurance, which reduces the amount you can borrow.

“Conventional” loans are federally sponsored by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to be packaged into securities bundles and sold on the secondary market. Lenders can manage risk by requiring scores of 700 and above, using loan-level price adjustments, based on loan-to-value ratios and credit scores.

For any loan, the larger your down- payment, the lower your credit score can be. Credit scores also impact interest rates. The better the score, the better the rate.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Life With An HOA

If you’re buying a home in a community with a homeowners association (HOA), there are some things you need to know. The community provides you with shared amenities and services like front yard maintenance and security patrols. The HOA board collects a monthly or annual fee to maintain those amenities, protect the integrity and safety of the community and to enhance property values for the homeowners.

The main benefit of life with an HOA is that you can enjoy the amenities you want without having to pay for them by yourself. But, shared benefits means that your dues are used for two things –property maintenance and improvements and for building reserves. This can include future expenses like swimming pool resurfacing or unexpected expenses like fallen tree removal. It also means that the HOA may have some rules you may not like, such as no yard signs or flags on holidays.

That’s why you need to see the governing documents of the HOA, including the CC&Rs, – covenants, conditions, and restrictions. These are the rules of esthetics, conduct, maintenance, and security the homeowners voted to have, such as how many pets you can own or whether you can park your car on the street.

Keep in mind that HOA boards are composed of volunteer homeowners like yourself and that they’re not property managers. HOAs typically hire third-party property managers so board members can enjoy the community, too.

You can then make the decision whether this particular community is right for you.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

It’s Okay to Buy and Sell Around the Holidays

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Once upon a time, real estate was thought to slow down as the new year approached, giving way to hot cocoa and flurries of snow. These days, we know better, and when winter comes around, it’s also the time to buy or sell your house. So, grab your mug, sit down by a fire and find out why now is the season of homes for the holidays:

1. Twinkling with holiday lights, your house will shine bright to eager buyers looking for their perfect home.

2. Temperature isn’t the only thing dropping this winter; mortgage rates are near historic lows.

3. Homes are new beginnings for buyers and sellers. When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, sellers will want to start fresh and buyers will want to be all settled into their new home.

4. Tax benefits are the ultimate holiday gifts for both buyers and sellers who close before the end of the year. (See your tax advisor for more details and the best advice to take advantage of a transaction that takes place before December 31.)

5.Serious buyers are out. Your home won’t be subject to casual window shoppers, (they’re too busy at the mall or on their computer searching for holiday gifts).

6. Buyers have extra time off from work, which means more hours in their day to search for a home.

7. January is typically the month when employees are transferred to new positions. To capture these buyers, your home must be on the market now because they often can’t wait until spring.

Contact us to learn more! Or, print this information to share with a friend.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

Your Rights As a Borrower

When you shop for a mortgage loan, you have certain rights that are guaranteed by the federal government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Knowing your rights will help you get the best loan possible.

You have the right to:

  1. Receive equal treatment by the lender, so that a credit decision isn’t based on your race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, or whether any of your income is from public assistance.
  2. Shop for the best loan type for you, whether adjustable or fixed rate, and compare the fees of different lenders.
  3. Be informed about the total cost of your loan including the annual percentage rate (APR), points and other fees. Your interest rate is based on your credit history and credit scores, the borrowed amount and how much you’re putting as a down payment.
  4. Receive a Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure Form, formerly known as a Good Faith Estimate, before you agree to the loan and pay any fees. Compare the exact loan product you want as offered by two or more lenders.
  5. Know which fees are not refundable if you decide to cancel the loan agreement, such as the fee to research your credit.
  6. Ask questions about loan terms and fees that you don’t understand.
  7. Know the reason if your loan was turned down.

Ask your lender to show you the advantages and disadvantages of each loan product so you can choose the best one to suit your needs. As always, consult your financial advisor before making any decision.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!

How to Buy a Model Home

3676132.large.jpgWhat should you expect when you buy a model or “spec home” from a builder?

model home features upgrades to show the builder’s floorplans to advantage. If you can wait until the builder sells all their inventory, you may get the model at the initial offer price and with more upgrades than other homes in the neighborhood.

“spec” home is move-in ready. The clock is ticking on the builder’s bank loans, materials, and labor, so if you’re pre-approved by a lender and have no contingencies to delay closing, you can move in quickly.

Many builders have their own contracts, so you should be represented by your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional. Builders won’t negotiate price because of other homes in the subdivision, but your agent may be able to negotiate free or at-cost upgrades like adding a fence or backyard sod. The agent can help you negotiate better terms, see you through inspections, and make sure the builder performs as expected.

Shop for new homes with your real estate agent. If you can’t, inform the builder or their in-house salesperson that you’re represented and offer your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices agent’s contact information. Builders won’t pay the agent’s commission if you bring them in after you’ve already toured the model or spec home.

For more home tips, follow us on Facebook. Looking for a new home in the Kansas City area? Visit us at BHHSKCRealty.com!