How Unpaid Taxes Can Keep You From Buying a Home

10-24

For mortgage lenders, your debt is not a deal-breaker – up to a certain point. Even the nasty stuff like judgments and collections won’t necessarily keep you from getting a mortgage.

But life can get a bit more complicated when it’s Uncle Sam you owe.

Failing to pay your federal income taxes can lead to theInternal Revenue Service placing a lien on your property or your assets. These legal tools protect the government’s ability to get its money. They also set off alarm bells for lenders.

The good news is that the presence of a federal tax lien doesn’t automatically ruin your home-buying chances. It’s almost always more a matter of what you’re doing to make the lien go away.

Loan Complications

Federal tax liens hit a peak of 1.1 million in the 2010 fiscal year, according to the IRS taxpayer advocate service. New initiatives meant to help delinquent taxpayers avoid liens have since cut into that peak considerably.

But hundreds of thousands of Americans are still hit with one each year. Once you’ve received official notice, you have 10 days to pay before the IRS can file for a lien.

These public records also find their way to your credit report. Tax liens can make it tough to secure many types of credit and even linger after a bankruptcy discharge. Federal debt can be especially problematic when you’re seeking a government-backed mortgage like an FHA or VA loan.

The best solution is to pay off the lien before you fill out a loan application. But if that’s not something you’re able to do, you still might be able to forge ahead, provided you’ve actually tried to make a dent in that debt.

Lenders can view liens differently depending on the loan type and other factors. But in general, military borrowers with a tax lien, for example, may be able to obtain VA mortgage preapproval if:

  • They have an acceptable repayment plan with the IRS and have made on-time payments for at least the last 12 consecutive months.
  • They can satisfy all debt-to-income (DTI) ratio requirements with that monthly tax repayment included.
  • They note their outstanding tax lien on the standard loan application.

Even with all of those conditions, consumers with tax liens may have some additional hurdles to clear to satisfy underwriters.

Additional Requirements

A tax lien can make it difficult for lenders to process a loan file using an automated underwriting system. The alternative is what’s known as a “manual underwrite,” which can involve a closer look at your financials and tighter requirements, such as a lower allowable DTI ratio.

So, if you’re a prospective homebuyer with a tax lien, a good first step is making sure your track record shows at least a year’s worth of on-time payments. Pay it off in full if possible, but if that’s a tall order, know that you might have diminished purchasing power and a rockier road until the slate is clean.

In the meantime, you should also be keeping tabs on your progress by checking your credit reports regularly (which you can get for free once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies), and monitoring your credit scores for increases — or drops.  Taking an active role in your credit can help you get on track to buy a home, especially when you’re facing certain financial hurdles.


(Source: Realto
r.com)

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20 Questions to Ask Before You Pick a Home Loan

10-23

Home loans can be complicated. But choosing one that meets your needs can be much easier if you gather enough information before you make a decision. Here are 20 questions that might apply to your situation.

Rate, term and payment

The most fundamental questions about any loan concern how long you’ll have to repay the amount you borrowed, how much interest you’ll be charged and whether the interest rate and payments are fixed for the entire term or subject to periodic adjustments as market interest rates fluctuate.

Here are four questions to ask:

1. What is the term of this loan?
2. What is the initial interest rate?
3. Is that rate fixed or adjustable?
4. How much would my initial monthly payments be?

Adjustment periods, caps and negative amortization

If the interest rate on the loan is adjustable, your monthly payment likely will change in the future and could be much higher than your initial payment.

Here are some questions to ask on this topic:

5. When can the interest rate be adjusted?
6. How will the interest rate be calculated?
7. What is the maximum interest rate increase for each adjustment period?
8. What is the maximum interest rate increase over the lifetime of the loan?
9. How much would my payment be today if the interest rate were calculated as it will be at the first adjustment period?
10. How much would my payment be at the maximum interest rate?
11. Could the amount I owe increase over time?

Costs and fees

Along with the interest rate and payment, you’ll want to consider the upfront and ongoing fees and costs you’ll be charged in connection with the loan.

Here are some questions to ask regarding costs and fees:

12. Can I see a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) for this loan?
13. Which of the costs on the GFE might change and by how much?
14. Are there any other costs that aren’t on the GFE?
15. Does this loan have a prepayment penalty?
16. Would this loan require an escrow account for homeowner’s insurance and property taxes?
17. Would I need to pay for mortgage insurance on this loan?

Needs and qualifications

Not all loan products are available to all borrowers, so you’ll want to explore your options before you decide which loan would be right for you.

Here are three questions that may help:

18. What are the qualifications for this loan?
19. Why would you recommend this loan for my needs?
20. Which other loans might also meet my needs?

These 20 questions can help determine if a loan is right for you. Don’t be afraid to ask your lender these and any other questions you may have. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to choose your loan.


(Source: Realty Times)

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Buying a Home in the Winter

10-22

Spring and summer are the high season for home sales, but winter can be a buyer’s market. If you don’t mind a smaller pool of homes for sale or moving around the holidays, winter might be a good time for you to house shop.

Less Competition, More Leverage
Since spring and summer are the most active real estate seasons, many home sellers wait until then to list their homes. That means there are fewer homes for sale in the winter, but the sellers often have strong reasons to sell their homes soon, such as job relocation. These motivated sellers can be a boon to the home buyer.

While there are fewer homes to choose among, the smaller selection can save you a lot of time. Do you really want to traipse through 50 houses? It may be simpler to view the handful of homes for sale in the winter and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Just as there are fewer homes for sale during the winter, there are fewer buyers, too. That means less competition and sellers who are more willing to accommodate potential buyers. Use this knowledge to your advantage. Offer a relatively low (but not insultingly low) bid for the home you’ve selected, or ask for perks such as the living room furniture or the chandelier that you admire. The low number of potential buyers also means you have more time to make your decision. In the spring, you often need to choose a home and act quickly, but in winter you may be able to take your time.

Assessing a Home’s Winter Fitness
Viewing homes in the winter lets you see how it holds up to the weather. Did you feel cold while looking through the house? Is there a functioning heating system and hot water? Are the windows letting in drafts?

Availability of Agents and Others
Another advantage of buying a home in the off-season is the greater availability of industry professionals. Real estate agents will have fewer clients and more time to focus on your home search. Lenders will be more accessible for questions and assistance. Some lenders even waive fees during the off-season to encourage borrowers to use their services. Likewise, movers tend to lower their costs during the winter months.

Gray Gardens or Winter Wonderland?
Home buyers can be turned off by the bleak look of prospective homes in winter. Bare trees and lawns covered in gray snow aren’t the most picturesque. However, you’ll be able to see how well neighbors tend driveways and sidewalks, whether the town plows or salts icy streets, and whether kids come out to play in the snow. Around the holidays, you might even see the neighborhood decorated in its winter finest.


(Source: Realtor.com)

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Government Shutdown Ends – What It Means for Mortgage Market

10-21

Now that the U.S. government is once again up and running, it’s time to take stock of the government shutdown’s impact on the real estate market (especially the mortgage end of that market), and what happens immediately going forward.

One quick red flag comes from the National Association of Home Builders, which reports that newly-built single-family homes were down two points in October.

The NAHB says the decline may be due, in part, to the shutdown; but now that Uncle Sam is back in the chips the decline should be reversed in the coming months.

“A spike in mortgage interest rates, along with the paralysis in Washington that led to the government shutdown and uncertainty regarding the nation’s debt limit, have caused builders and consumers to take pause,” NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said on Wednesday, just as a deal was being reached in Congress. “However, interest rates remain near historic lows and we don’t expect the level of rates to have a major impact on sales and starts going forward. Once this government impasse is resolved we expect builder and consumer optimism will bounce back.”

Crowe’s view seems to be the prevailing sentiment among real estate industry observers.

To get a good grip on where the real estate market is now, and where it’s going, realtor.com reached out to a handful of industry experts to set the record straight on the following key issues:

What Was the Damage From the Government Shutdown?

“Luckily not much,” says Jason Bonarrigo, a senior loan officer with Residential Mortgage Services in Braintree, Mass. “Most banks and investors continued to close loans and come up with short-term guidelines to work around getting tax transcript records from the Internal Revenue Service, but that’s about it.”

Others aren’t so sure the damage hasn’t been more severe.

“Unfortunately, Washington probably set the real estate market back six months at least,” said Cal Haupt, chief executive officer at Georgia-based Southeast Mortgage. “When they deadlocked previously in July 2011, they stalled a fledgling recovery six months.”

The recent shutdown was worse due to the impact of shutting down the government for 16 days and preventing mortgage lenders from obtaining IRS 4506T documents needed to close most borrowers’ loans, Haupt said.

What Happens Now?

The real estate market can pretty much pick up where it left off 16 days ago, our experts said.

Many lenders continued operating through the shutdown so the FHA did not have an effect on them,” said Malcolm Hollensteiner, director of retail lending at TD Bank. “So now that the FHA is fully open once again, we expect that it will be business as usual.”

Hollensteiner had one caveat: “Because lenders were continuing to process FHA loans through the shutdown, there may be a slight backlog of approvals on the FHA’s end, but that should not cause any significant issues.”

Others agreed with that sentiment.

“The only loans that were directly and immediately affected by the shutdown were USDA loans, which were completely unavailable, and jumbo loans, in those cases where the lender wanted documentation from the IRS,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president at Irvine, Calif.-based Auction.com.

In both of those cases, loans that were in process will restart now that the agencies are open. “There will likely be some delays in processing and other inconveniences, but things will most likely be back to normal within a few weeks,” Sharga said.

Anything Else Mortgage Consumers Should Know?

Consumers should be aware that the market changes very rapidly and they should be prepared for worst-case scenarios, warned David Williams, a vice president at Right Start Mortgage, in Pasadena, Calif. “Make sure you are working with seasoned loan and real estate veterans who have been through all types of markets, so you can navigate the obstacles with minimal effects,” Williams said.

Perhaps the best advice came from Haupt, who said Americans should shrug off the political shenanigans in Washington, D.C.

“Buying a home at the current lower prices and historically low rates is optimal,” Haupt said. “My advice would be: Do what is best for your family and take advantage of the favorable prices and rates. Rates will rise and property values will follow suit due to limited supply. Don’t let Washington get you down.”


(Source: Realtor.com)

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FHA gifts prior offending homeowners a shortened wait to purchase another home

10-18

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently enacted a rule change allowing borrowers who have fallen into foreclosure, bankruptcy, or a short sale to become eligible for a brand new mortgage backed by the FHA in as little as one year from the date of their previous foreclosure auction, the date of closing on a short sale, or the discharge date on a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Considering the previous waiting period for a government-backed mortgage was three years, the new rule that shortens the wait to one year is a shiny new present to buyers who had all but accepted the reality of becoming renters for the foreseeable future. The new rule is in effect till Sept. 30, 2016.

Requirements

In order to qualify for the reduced waiting period, buyers must provide proof of suffering an economic event that caused them to fall into financial instability. Examples of such an economic event include: a loss of job; a 20 percent or greater reduction in income for six or more month; a death of a wage earner; or a serious medical issue.

Furthermore, buyers must also provide documentation of a clean financial record for the past 12 months and show their ability to make the payments on their newly proposed mortgage. The buyer is also required to complete a course on housing counseling.

Banks have options

It is important to note that banks maintain the discretion of whether to offer loans to previously delinquent homeowners under the new FHA one-year rule. However, it is believed that most banks will adapt and change their practices to comply with FHA rules.

The FHA’s new one-year rule is an exciting and favorable option for buyers, while both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac still keep a seven-year waiting period on foreclosures; a two- to seven-year waiting period on short sales; and a four-year waiting period on bankruptcies.


(Source: YAHOO! Homes)

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