Maureen Harmonay - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage



Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 11/28/2017

If you’re in the market to buy a home, you’re probably learning many new vocabulary words. Pre-approved and pre-qualified are some buzz words that you’ll need to know. There’s a big difference in the two and how each can help you in the home buying process, so you’ll want to educate yourself. With the proper preparation and knowledge, the home buying process will be much easier for you.  


Pre-Qualification


This is actually the initial step that you should take in the home buying process. Being pre-qualified allows your lender to get some key information from you. Make no mistake that getting pre-qualified is not the same thing as getting pre-approved.


The qualification process allows you to understand how much house you’ll be able to afford. Your lender will look at your income, assets, and general financial picture. There’s not a whole lot of information that your lender actually needs to get you pre-qualified. Many buyers make the mistake of interchanging the words qualified and approval. They think that once they have been pre-qualified, they have been approved for a certain amount as well. Since the pre-qualification process isn’t as in-depth, you could be “qualified” to buy a home that you actually can’t afford once you dig a bit deeper into your financial situation. 


Being Pre-Approved


Getting pre-approved requires a bit more work on your part. You’ll need to provide your lender with a host of information including income statements, bank account statements, assets, and more. Your lender will take a look at your credit history and credit score. All of these numbers will go into a formula and help your lender determine a safe amount of money that you’ll be able to borrow for a house. Things like your credit score and credit history will have an impact on the type of interest rate that you’ll get for the home. The better your credit score, the better the interest rate will be that you’re offered. Being pre-approved will also be a big help to you when you decide to put an offer in on a home since you’ll be seen as a buyer who is serious and dependable.  


Things To Think About


Although getting pre-qualified is fairly simple, it’s a good step to take to understand your finances and the home buying process. Don’t take the pre-qualification numbers as set in stone, just simply use them as a guide. 


Do some investigating on your own before you reach the pre-approval stage. Look at your income, debts, and expenses. See if there is anything that can be paid down before you take the leap to the next step. Check your credit report and be sure that there aren’t any errors on the report that need to be remedied. Finally, look at your credit score and see if there’s anything that you can do better such as make more consistent on-time payments or pay down debt for a more desirable debt-to-income ratio.





Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 7/18/2017

Being a first-time home buyer is tough. It can seem like you have undertaken one of the most overwhelming processes ever. There’s so much to learn in the process of securing a mortgage and closing on a home. If you go into buying a home prepared with knowledge, it will be that much easier for you. 


There’s a lot of terminology to learn about the home buying process. You’ll need to know who should be involved with the transaction including agents, lawyers and bankers. You’ll need to be prepared for the fees involved in buying a home as well. There are many different programs available to help first-time homebuyers that can help you save money and secure your first home. Here’s just some of those programs: 


FHA

This is the Federal Housing Administration and it’s a very popular go-to for first-time home buyers. It’s also great for people who have tarnished credit history. As a borrower with FHA backing, you can qualify for a loan with as little as 3.5% down. These FHA loans have an additional cost built into them which is mortgage insurance. In case you default on the loan, this protects the lender.


The Department Of Veteran’s Affairs


This resource helps veterans, service members and their surviving spouses to buy homes. Often, this program requires no down payment or mortgage insurance. The problem is that getting these kinds of loans can take awhile to process, so you can’t be in a big hurry to buy a home.


Good Neighbor Next Door


This program is meant for teachers, law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical responders, which is why it’s called the “Good Neighbor” initiative. This is a program sponsored as part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It allows 50% discounts of the price of homes in places considered revitalization areas. All you need to do is be in one of the said professions and commit to living on the property for at least 3 years. The catch is that these homes are listed for just 7 days on the Good Neighbor Next Door website.


Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac


These are government-sanctioned companies that work with local lenders to offer good mortgage options for first-time home buyers such as 3% down payment options.


USDA


The U.S Department of Agriculture has its own homebuyers’ assistance program. The benefits are for people who live in rural areas and allows 100% financing by offering lenders mortgage guarantees in return. There are income limitations that can vary by region.

Assistance Isn’t Hard To Find


As you can see, there are many programs available to help first-time homebuyers. From downpayment assistance to ways that you can keep your mortgage payments low, you can find some help if you need it. You may feel that purchasing a home is something that’s far in the future the future, but with federal programs, more people can realize their dreams of home ownership.        




Tags: mortgage   FHA loans   home loans  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 3/7/2017

Do you know the difference between adjustable-rate and fixed-rate mortgages? An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) includes an interest rate that will change periodically based on market conditions. In many cases, homebuyers prefer fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs), as these mortgages enable homebuyers to pay the same monthly mortgage payment for the life of their loan. Conversely, an ARM may start with lower monthly payments but could rise over an extended period of time. This means that an ARM is likely to result in mortgage payments that vary over the years. Although an ARM may seem like an inferior option to its fixed-rate counterpart, there are several scenarios in which a homebuyer may prefer an ARM, including: 1. A Homebuyer Is Purchasing a Residence for the First Time. A first-time homebuyer may enter the real estate market with lofty expectations. But upon realizing there are few housing options that meet his or her needs, this buyer may settle for a house that represents a short-term residence. In this scenario, a homebuyer may be better off selecting an ARM. With an ARM, a first-time homebuyer may be able to make lower monthly payments in the first few years of homeownership. And then, when a better homeownership opportunity becomes available, this buyer may be able to work toward upgrading from his or her starter residence. 2. A Homebuyer Expects His or Her Income to Rise. The economy may fluctuate at times, but those who are assured of a higher income over the next few years may be better equipped to handle an ARM. For example, a student who is enrolled in a medical residency program may be a few years away from becoming a doctor. At the same time, this student wants a nice place that he or she can call home and may consider an ARM because it offers lower monthly payments initially. After this student completes the residency program, he or she likely will see a jump in his or her annual income as well. Thus, this homebuyer may be best served with an ARM. 3. A Homebuyer Is Facing an Empty Nest. Will your children soon be moving out of the home in the next few years? If so, now may be a great time to consider an ARM if you'd like to move into a new residence. Parents who are facing an empty nest in the next few years may be better off living in a larger residence for now, then downsizing after their children leave the nest. Therefore, with an ARM, parents may be able to buy a nicer home with lower monthly payments. And after their kids move out, these parents always can look into downsizing accordingly. Deciding which type of mortgage is right for you can be challenging for even an experienced homebuyer. Fortunately, lenders are available to answer any concerns or questions you may have, and your real estate agent may be able to offer guidance and tips as well. Explore all of the mortgage options at your disposal before you purchase a new residence. By doing so, you'll be equipped with the necessary information to make an informed decision that will serve you well both now and in the future.





Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 12/15/2015

If you are looking to buy a home you may be wondering how you will be able to come up with the down payment. One way that many buyers come up with down payment money is from gifts.  If you are planning on using gift money to help buy a home there are some guidelines you will need to follow. Here are some simple rules: 1. Get a Gift Letter If you are getting gift money to help you buy a house you will need a gift letter. The letter has a few requirements:

  • Have the letter hand-signed by you and the gift-giver
  • State the relationship between the buyer and the gift-giver.
  • State the amount of the gift.
  • State the address of the home being purchased.
  • A statement that the money is a gift and not a loan that must be paid back.
  • A statement that says: “Will wire the gift directly to escrow at time of closing.”
2. Document a paper trail Mortgage underwriters want proof of where the money came from and where it went. Get copies of transactions showing the withdrawals and deposits. You will also need to make sure that the transaction is for the exact amount of the gift. Following these simple guidelines will get you to the closing table hassle free.    





Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 1/20/2015

Paying off your mortgage early and having no bills sounds like a no brainer. The answer however is not so simple. The answer really is; it depends. First you need to ask yourself a few questions. 1. Have you capitalized your employer’s match to your retirement savings? If the answer is no and you are not contributing the maximum than you are throwing away free money. You may want to consider putting your money here before paying down your mortgage. 2. Do you have other debt other than your mortgage? Pay off high interest credit card debit first. It makes no sense to pay off a lower interest loan and carry high interest debt. 3. Do you have an emergency fund? Experts suggest at least a three month supply of living expenses. Some even go as much as twenty four months of living expenses after the turn in the economy and job market. It makes more sense to have money set aside for a sudden loss of income before you pay off your mortgage. 4. Do you owe more than your house is worth? If you are upside down you are more susceptible to foreclosure. Ask yourself how much how much you enjoy living there. Would you be willing to buy it again for more than it is worth now? 5. Do you have life, health and disability insurance? If you are the main source of income in your household what would happen if you were no longer able to make the payments? Putting safety nets in place first is a wise idea. 6. Do you believe you can get better return investing elsewhere? Paying off your mortgage is an investment decision. Ask how does paying off my mortgage stack up with other investment options? 7. Are you thinking of retiring and want to live with the worry of a payment? The thought of living on a fixed income can be scary. Paying off your mortgage may give you peace of mind. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It really comes down to what is most important to you. Sometimes, the answer is not based just on dollars and sense and more on what works for you, your life, your family situation and just plain old personal preference.