The Hidden (But Very High) Cost of Waiting to Buy Your Home  

It seems almost impossible to open a newspaper or listen to a news broadcast without being reminded that mortgage loan rates are on the rise. I asked Jaxzann Riggs, owner of The Mortgage Network, for her thoughts on how rising rates will affect our market. Here is what she told me.

Borrowers are being impacted on two levels right now. In the Denver metro area, the median price for a single-family home has increased by 19.3% in the past 12 months, according to the Denver Post. That means a home that you could have bought for $502,775 in January 2021, would cost $599,900 now.

Let’s assume that you agreed to purchase that home in January 2021 for $502,775. At that time, interest rates were hovering around 2.75%. If you made a 20% down payment, your expected monthly principal and interest payment would be approximately $1,642. If, on the other hand, you waited until January 2022 to buy that same home, your purchase price would be $599,810 and your interest rate would have risen to 4.087% and you would be paying $2,315 per month in principal and interest. That’s an increase of $673 per month.

Underwriters qualify borrowers for a maximum monthly payment based upon their income and other monthly liabilities. Underwriters refer to this as the borrower’s “debt to income” ratio, or DTI ratio, a term that you may have heard before. The maximum allowable monthly payment is then translated to a loan amount based upon current interest rates.

Rising rates make the maximum loan amount that a borrower can afford a moving target. By most accounts, The Federal Reserve is likely to increase the federal funds discount rates 3 to 5 times this year, with an increase certain to occur on March 16th. There is no direct correlation between the fed funds discount rate and long-term mortgage rates, but the trend for both is up. Jaxzann believes that the March 16th increase has already been factored into the cost of 30-year mortgage money by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but expects rates as high as 4.75% by the year’s end. The mortgage market is resilient, changing daily, and we are beginning to see a variety of loan products (for example, adjustable-rate mortgages and interest-only loans) being offered by conventional lenders that will offset some of the damage done by increasing rates.

 While prospective purchasers can’t control real estate prices or mortgage rates, they do have some small measure of control when it comes to the price they pay for a loan while they are actively shopping for a home. Many of our lending partners have begun to offer a feature that allows the borrower to obtain a preliminary loan approval (without finding a property) and to “lock in” an interest rate, while shopping for a new home. Some lenders will lock in an interest rate for up to 120 days while their clients shop, but the most common term is 90 days. The lender charges a small premium to hold the consumers’ rate for a set timeframe and typically will also offer the borrower the ability to “roll down” the rate if interest rates drop by a preset amount during the lock period. Borrowers wishing to execute the roll down feature will pay a small fee, but it ensures that they will still be able to qualify for a specific loan amount, when they finally go under contract.

What does this mean for future homeowners? The cost of waiting is just too high. Don’t allow rising home prices and mortgage rates to price you out of the market. If you are currently house hunting and would like to learn more about locking in an interest rate, call Jaxzann at (303) 990-2992.

Let’s Separate Fact From Fiction Regarding Credit Scores & Home Mortgages

By JIM SMITH, Realtor

The ink may barely be dry on your 2020 financial resolutions, and already there is great news for those of you who have resolved to become first time homeowners or to increase your real estate holdings in 2020. Both the National Association of Realtors and the Mortgage Bankers Association predict that interest rates will remain at record lows (at or below 4.0%) for most of 2020. 

Of course, interest rates directly affect your home buying power, and you are probably aware that credit scores also directly impact the interest rates offered to you by mortgage lenders. What we don’t always know, however, are the specific actions that will hurt or improve our credit scores. 

So, let’s separate fact from fiction. I thank Jaxzann Riggs of The Mortgage Network for helping me with debunking the following fictions.

Fiction: Shopping for a mortgage lender and allowing more than one lender to review your credit report will hurt your credit score.

Not true. When multiple inquiries appear on your report from mortgage lenders, the scoring models assume that you are shopping for a home loan. Most scoring models consider inquiries from mortgage lenders that occur within a 15 to 45-day period to be one inquiry, having little or no impact on your score. Regularly monitoring your own credit score online prior to applying for a home loan is an effective way to identify any errors contained in your credit file and to obtain a sense of the score that lenders will be using when preparing credit offers for you. It is important to note however, that there are in excess of 20 different scoring models and that online “consumer” reports typically have a higher score than your mortgage lender sees when pulling a “tri-merged residential mortgage” report. Most lenders are willing to start the prequalifying process with a copy of your online report but will require their own report prior to issuing a preliminary loan commitment which is normally required at the time that you write an offer to purchase a property.

Fiction: Opening a new credit card account will increase your score.

The average age of your open accounts impacts your score, and since opening one or more new accounts brings the average age of your total credit profile down, opening new accounts is normally not wise. The exception to this is the prospective first-time buyer who has little or no credit. Obtaining a retail or major credit card helps to build credit “depth.”

Fiction: Carrying a balance helps to boost your score.

Maintaining a balance on your cards does not improve your score, it simply costs you more in interest fees. Utilization of available credit is an important factor in determining your score. If you are unable to pay your credit cards in full each month, keeping the balance on the card below 30% of the credit limit is best. Another strategy to improve “utilization” is to request that your card issuer increase your credit limit. By increasing your available credit line but not your balance, you instantly lower your utilization.

Fiction: Closing accounts that you don’t use will boost your score.

Rather than closing a high interest rate card that you no longer use, request that the creditor reduce the rate and/or occasionally use and then promptly repay the card in full. Closing accounts reduces the overage credit available to you, which negatively impacts both “utilization” and “duration” of your credit profile.

    Questions? Just call Jaxzann Riggs of The Mortgage Network at 303-990-2992.