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The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) refers to mortgage refinancing as a crucial aspect of all mortgages. This is partly because comparatively, low mortgage interest rates have encouraged homeowners to restructure their financial situations using their home equity. Homeowners should base their refinancing decision on their circumstances rather than mortgage interest rates. Here are tips to consider when considering refinancing your mortgage: 

Home Equity

You need to have home equity before you can even consider refinancing your home mortgage. Home values are steadily rising which means that with conventional lenders, you can have enough equity to get a loan. Most lenders will allow a homeowner with at least 20% equity to get credit quickly.

Credit Score 

In recent years, lenders have made the requirement for loan approval stricter. Therefore, some consumers with good credit may not qualify for the lowest interest rates. Typically, the acceptable credit score by most lenders is 760 and above. Borrowers whose credit scores are not up to the satisfactory score may still obtain a new loan but with higher fees or interest rates.

Refinancing Cost

Refinancing costs usually take between three to five percent of the loan amount. Borrowers can look for ways to reduce this cost or incorporate it into the loan. The cost can also be rolled into a new loan if you have enough equity. With some lenders, you are likely to pay an interest rate that is slightly higher to balance the closing cost when you take a loan with them. Make sure that you negotiate and ask several lenders so that you get the best fees for your refinancing loan.

Rates vs. Term 

A borrower needs to have a goal when refinancing to know the exact mortgage product that is most favorable. If all you want is to reduce your monthly payment to the minimum, a loan with a long-term interest rate will be beneficial. If your goal is to pay a reduced interest rate over a short period, you should consider the lowest interest rate in the shortest term. 

Break-Even Point

Before deciding to refinance your mortgage, determine the break-even point. The break-even point is the time at which your monthly savings have covered your refinancing cost. Beyond this point, your monthly savings belong to you. This also means you know how long it will take before your refinancing makes sense if you intend to sell or move from the home in some years.

Mortgage refinancing can be quite confusing, so you need to be sure you completely understand the terms and conditions. Do your research and also speak to a financial planner to give you professional advice.


Applying for a mortgage is a big step towards homeownership and financial independence. If it’s your first time buying a home, you might be curious (and a little intimidated) about all of the things that go into your mortgage application.

When reviewing your application, mortgage lenders are trying to determine how risky it is to lend you money. If all goes well, and they determine that lending to you would be a worthy investment, you’ll get approved for a mortgage.

There are three main things that lenders will use when weighing your application (however, there are other factors as well).

First, they’ll run a detailed credit report. This will tell them how much other debt you have, what kind of accounts you have open, how long you’ve had this debt, and how responsible you are when it comes to making your monthly payments in time.

Second, they’ll consider how much money you’ll be using toward a down payment. A larger down payment alleviates some of the risk associated with lending to you. Therefore, people with little or no down payment saved can have a difficult time getting approved for a mortgage. And, if they do get approved, they’ll have to pay monthly private mortgage insurance on top of their regular mortgage payments.

Finally, the third main consideration will be your current income. Lenders will look at your previous two years of income (including tax returns) and will seek out current income verification from your employer.

The latter is a key part of getting approved, as lenders will want to ensure that you are in a stable financial situation and will be able to immediately start making mortgage payments.

Today’s post will center around income verification and how mortgage lenders will use your income to determine your borrowing eligibility.

How Do I Verify My Employment?

If you’re employed with a company, most lenders will reach out to your employer directly to verify your employment. You’ll be asked to sign a form that authorizes your employer to share these details with the lender, and then your part of the job is done and you can move on to the next step of your application.

Things get trickier when you’re a freelancer, are self-employed, or work with several clients as a contract worker. In these situations, lenders will typically require you to file a Form 4506-T with the IRS. This form allows your lender to obtain your tax returns directly from the IRS.

Can I submit additional information to verify my income?

There are some situations where providing additional income information can bolster your case in terms of getting approved for a mortgage.

If you own a business, your lender of choice may ask for a profit and loss statement. If you’re an independent contractor or freelancer, your clients who have paid you at least $600 or services or $10 in royalties will be required to send you a Form 1099-MISC.

If you have mixed income, such as a full-time job with freelance work on the side, showing these 1099-MISC forms can help increase your income on paper so that lenders will approve you or a higher mortgage amount or lower interest rate.


Perhaps one of the most challenging things about buying a home is saving for the downpayment. Collecting such a large sum of money can be difficult. The truth is that most buyers actually think that they need more than they actually do to buy a home. The downpayment doesn’t need to be a barrier to your path to homeownership. There are so many programs that offer low and even no down payment home loans. Read on to learn more about down payments and programs that can help you. 


First, let’s look at what a down payment is and how it can help you. If you put 10% down on a $200,000 home that’s $20,000. The downpayment minus the purchase price of the home is $180,000, and that's how much your home loan will be. The more money you can put down on the house, the lower your home loan will be and the lower your monthly mortgage payments will be. A large down payment can indeed save you in the long term. If you’re looking to move into a home sooner rather than later, saving a considerable sum isn’t always possible.  


Low Downpayment Mortgages


You need to decide what type of home loan you need by the amount of downpayment you’re willing and able to put down. Some benefits go along with making a down payment, but there are some negatives. 


By making a substantial down payment you may despite your savings, leaving little money for emergencies. Your mortgage rate may not be affected by a large downpayment either. It can be hard to decide what type of loan to get and just how much you really can afford.  


FHA Loans


FHA loans are among the most popular type of home loans. The downpayment that’s required is just 3.5%. The requirements are simple, and you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify. 


The drawback to an FHA loan is that you cannot cancel the monthly mortgage insurance that comes along with it unless you refinance the home. Traditional mortgage insurance is canceled when you have built up 20% equity in the house, but this isn’t the case with FHA loans. 


Another positive about FHA loans is that your credit score doesn’t have to be stellar in order for you to qualify. Some lenders approve FHA loans with credit scores as low as 580. 


VA Home Loans


Buyers who have current or former military service status can qualify for this zero down mortgage. These loans are benefits to veterans and current members of the Armed Forces. While no downpayment is required, buyers may put down any amount they wish. The only requirements are that buyers be members of the military either currently serving for 90 days or two years of active duty service if not an active member.   


The above options are great for those who can’t afford or don’t wish to put down large down payments but still hope to be homeowners. 



 

Two thirds of American homeowners are somewhere in the process of paying off a mortgage. It may seem like common sense that everyone should try to pay off their mortgage sooner rather than later. However, there are circumstances when it benefits a homeowner more to hold onto their mortgage longer.


In this article, we’ll offer some tips on paying off your mortgage, when you should refinance, and offer some tools that will help you along the long road to debt-free homeownership. If you’re a homeowner and find yourself asking these questions, read on.

I can afford to pay more each month on my mortgage, but should I?

In many cases, paying off your home as quickly as possible saves you money in the long run. A shorter loan term means less interest applied to your loan which could save you thousands of dollars in accrued interest.


What many people don’t think about is whether that money could be better spent elsewhere. If your mortgage interest rate isn’t too high, you might be better off allocating that extra income toward investments or retirement funds where they could earn you more in the long run.


This technique is typically most beneficial for younger homeowners. In your 20s and 30s you stand the most to gain from long-term investments, especially tax-benefitted retirement funds. Ultimately you’ll have to do the math, which is tricky because circumstances change; markets vary, our income goes up and down, etc. However, a good starting place is to determine whether you could earn more in retirement and investments than you could by paying off your mortgage sooner and therefore saving on interest. 

I’ve owned my home for a few years now, should I refinance?

Refinancing is a term that has become ubiquitous for homeowners. There are a few important things to understand about refinancing. First, lowering your monthly payments is not always ideal if it means you’ll end up paying more interest in the long run. Ideally, refinancing your mortgage will help you pay the least amount in total.

One way this can be accomplished is by refinancing to a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage which often darry slightly lower interest rates. This option is designed for people who have improved their credit and increased their income since signing their first mortgage.

Math isn’t my strong suit. How can I figure out my finances?

If all of the numbers and percentages associated with mortgages and refinancing seems overwhelming--you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are mortgage and refinancing calculators that will give you a good idea of where you stand if you decide to increase your payments or to attempt to refinance your loan. Here are some great tools:
  • Use this mortgage calculator for determining how much you would save by making extra payments.

  • This refinance calculator will help you understand the potential benefits of refinancing your mortgage.

  • To determine how much you could earn through investments (rather than paying more toward your mortgage) use this helpful tool.

  • You might be able to increase your savings by creating a better budget for yourself. This website will help you make a detailed budget and hold yourself accountable each month.




When you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you may be excited to find out that you can afford a lot more house than you thought you could. Don’t be so fast, this is just what you can get a loan for. The bank doesn’t know a lot of factors about your finances. While you most likely had to provide a ton of income verification statements and information in order to get this ballpark figure, relying solely on the pre-approval number can put you in a bind when it comes to your finances. Your lender doesn’t know certain things like how much you spend on groceries or how much your cell phone bill is each month. 


What Lenders Consider


Lenders look at the health of your credit history, how much income you have and how much debt you have. These are the big factors that tell your lender about how much house you can afford. Yet, your home lender is not your financial advisor and can’t help you with household expenses and the like. When thinking about what price range of home you really can afford, consider these factors beyond the bank:


Your Monthly Budget


Your spending habits will ultimately affect your ability to pay the monthly mortgage bill. If you’re spending all of your disposable income, then you may not be able to afford much at all beyond what you’re already paying for rent. You don’t want to stretch your finances so thin that you won’t be able to afford food! 


Owning A Home Requires Additional Costs


Lenders do factor into their number the cost of homeowner’s insurance and property taxes, but don’t consider other things like utility bills, trash pickup and home repairs. All this can certainly add up when you’re a homeowner! 


Your Savings Is Nonexistent


If you’re unable to save any money at all if you’re a homeowner, then you’ll be in trouble. You need money stashed away in case of unemployment or an emergency. You also may be planning for things like retirement and future costs like children’s education. For the initial purchase of a home, you’ll need upfront payments available for the down payment and closing costs. However, you’ll need some more savings beyond that for everything that life brings your way!  


You Have Big Plans


Are you thinking of quitting your job and heading out to start your own business? Now may not be the best time to buy a new house. These changes could have a huge impact on your finances and leave you unable to pay your mortgage. Your lender won’t be asking about these plans, so you’ll need to know what the future holds (for the most part ) in order to keep your own finances secure. 


The bottom line is that anything that could leave you financially stressed is not a good idea. Considering that buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you'll ever make, you want to be sure that you keep your finances in check during the purchase process.  




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