FAQ

100% Financing (Zero Down Payment Mortgages + Zero or Minimal Closing Costs)

100% Financing (Zero Down Payment Mortgages + Zero or Minimal Closing Costs)

100% Financing (Zero Down Payment Mortgages + Zero or Minimal Closing Costs) Print E-mail

Closing costs can be built into these deal(s). These are normally referred to as "Non-Recurring Closing Costs."
The beauty of this is to basically buy a property with zero down payments and zero closing costs out of pocket.

A MAJOR ADVANTAGE TO BUYING A PROPERTY WITH ZERO DOWN PAYMENT AND ZERO (OR MINIMAL) OUT OF POCKET CLOSING COSTS IS TO:

1. STAY LIQUID

2. MAXIMIZE YOUR MORTGAGE INTEREST TAX DEDUCTION.
Building Capital, Inc. Loan Officers are experts in structuring zero down payment mortgage loans.

These loans are normally a combination of a first mortgage for 80% of the purchase price and a second mortgage (or “piggyback” loan) for 20% of the purchase price.
Example of 100% Financing:

Sale price of property is $500,000.00.

> First mortgage is $400,000.00 and many times has "interest only" payments.

> Second mortgage is $100,000.00, usually with principal and interest payments.

(In some cases, the second mortgage can also have "interest only" payments).

A Guide to Understanding the Mortgage Process

A Guide to Understanding the Mortgage Process

PRE-PURCHASE of HOME

Buyer chooses Lender (Bank, Mortgage Bank, Mortgage Broker, or Credit Union). Buyer chooses Real Estate Agent and begins the search for a home. Buyer requests a Pre-Approval letter from Lender for his/her/their new mortgage loan. Lender runs credit report. Lender and Borrower discuss and agree on a specific loan program. Lender issues Pre-Approval letter to Borrower.

1-5 Days: APPLICATION

Buyer becomes Borrower. Borrower completes mortgage loan application with info including employment & income data from the past two years + financial info on assets and liabilities + any other data that could affect the mortgage loan decision. Lender pre-underwrites file.

3-6 Days: OPENING the FILE

Lender orders property appraisal from Appraiser. Borrower pays appraisal fee. Lender Processor mails verification of employment + verification of deposits + any other supporting documentation needed.

5-20 Days: PROCESSING

Documents reviewed as received. Documents include: credit reports, verifications of assets accounts, income and appraisal. Debt and payment histories reviewed and verified. Statement of Information required for title Insurance to eliminate any liens or judgments that are Payoff balances. Mortgage loan file is packaged and submitted to underwriter for approval.

15-21 Days: UNDERWRITING

Underwriter reviews file. Borrower must respond to any questions immediately. Borrower may be required to provide additional documentation.

17-23 Days: PRE-CLOSING

Borrower notified of mortgage loan approval. Lender must receive any mortgage loan “conditions” prior to mortgage loan closing. Loan Docs completed and sent to Title Company. When Loan Docs are ready for Borrower signature(s), the Escrow Officer calls the Borrower(s) to advise amount of money needed to close mortgage loan and arrange for Borrower to sign Loan Docs. Closing scheduled. Borrower orders homeowners insurance in amount to cover replacement cost of new mortgage loan amount. Escrow requires name of homeowner’s insurance, phone number and policy number to show evidence of insurance.

24-35 Days: CLOSING

Lender sends check for new mortgage loan amount to Title Company. Borrower presents Certified Check for balance of down payment and/or closing costs (if applicable). Title Company records deed of trust at County Recorder’s Office the following business day. Title Company, after receiving “confirmation” of recording, pays off existing deeds of trust + forwards pay-off figures and title charges to Escrow. Escrow Officer disburses funds to Brokers, agents, Accommodation Pay-Offs, etc. Closing Process officially ends. Borrower moves into new home.

About the Loan Application

About the Loan Application

What information will be needed for the application (and how it's kept private)

Anything you submit over our website is 100 percent, fully secure. And we never, ever share it with anyone except by permission -- that is, if you're giving us information you want us to use to get you the best loan, we use that information to tell mortgage lenders about you and convince them to loan you money. In turn, those mortgage lenders are bound by federal law to keep your information secure.

Here is a list of the information mortgage lenders will use to consider your loan application.

For all loans
Social Security Number, for borrower and co-borrower if any

Employment History
For the last two years, employment dates, addresses, salary.
Current pay stubs or W-2 forms.

Check and Savings Accounts and Certificates of Deposit
Location of bank accounts, account numbers and balances;
Address of bank if out of town
Last 3 months' statements

Stocks, Bonds, and Investment Accounts
Broker's name and address, description of stocks, bonds, etc.
Last 3 months' statements or copies of stock certificates

Life Insurance Policies
Insurance company, policy number, face amount, cash value, if any

Retirement Plan
Approximate vested interest value
Copy of latest statement

Automobiles
Make and model of automobiles, their resale value

Other Assets
Market value of personal and household property

Liabilities and Other Non-Mortgage Debt
Creditors names, addresses, account numbers
Monthly payments and balances

Other income information you may need

If you're self-employed
Two years tax returns, profit and loss statements, both company and personal if separate.
Current balance sheet and profit and loss statement if more than two months into the new fiscal year, signed by CPA.

If you have income from:
Commission
Overtime
Bonus
Partnership
Rental Property
Trust
Notes Receivable
Interest/Dividends
You'll need two years' personal federal tax returns

If employed in family business
Personal federal income tax returns and all schedules for the past two years

If divorced or separated
Complete executed divorce decree and settlement agreement
Payment history of alimony/child support over the past 12 months, if it is a financial obligation.
If you choose to have this be considered as part of your income (you don't have to), be prepared to provide 12 months canceled checks or bank statements reflecting income deposits.

If you own real estate

Name and address of all mortgage lenders for the past 24 months, account numbers, monthly payments and balances

If you've sold your home but not closed:
A copy of the sales contract

If you've sold your home, closed, and you will use the proceeds for your new down payment:
A copy of the HUD-1 Uniform Settlement Statement

If you rent

Name, address and phone number of landlords for the past 24 months

If you're buying a home

Purchase sales contract or offer to purchase and all addenda
Furnish contract with original signatures of buyer and seller

If a source of your down payment is a gift:
Name, address and relationship of donor.
Gift funds will be verified in both the donor and recipient's accounts.
Note: Not all loan programs allow gifts to be part of your down payment.

For FHA Financing
Evidence of Social Security Number and photo identification

For VA Financing
DD214 and Certificate of Eligibility

For Construction/Perm Loan
Signed construction with cost breakdown, builder plan and specifications

Are you Pre-Approved or Pre-Qualified for a loan?

Are you Pre-Approved or Pre-Qualified for a loan?

(Pre-Approval and Pre-Qualification mean the same thing)

Here are the steps you need to take to get Pre-Approved:

1. Contact you loan officer to discuss the general outline of your finances.

2. Your Loan Officer will go over:

a) Income

b) Employment

c) Assets

d) Reserves (money you have in the bank after the close of your Escrow)

e) Credit Report Info (FICO score, history of your credit management)

f) Debts (listed on the credit report only showing the amounts you owe). THIS WILL ALLOW YOUR LOAN OFFICER TO CALCULATE YOUR "DEBT-TO-INCOME RATIO" WHICH WILL THEN BE INTEGRATED WITH THE UNDERWRITING GUIDELINES OF THE BANK TO WHICH YOUR LOAN IS SUBMITTED.

3. Your Loan Officer will then discuss down payment, loan amounts, and loan programs and the best strategy to move forward successfully with approval and funding of your loan. YOU WILL THEN COMPLETE A LOAN APPLICATION.

4. For purchases, a pre-approval letter will be issued by your Loan Officer. Refinances do not require a pre-approval letter.

It is important to understand that a pre-qualification letter is just an estimate of what you are eligible to borrow, not a commitment to lend. A pre-approval letter is not binding on the lender; it is subject to an appraisal of the home you wish to purchase and certain other conditions. If your financial situation changes (e.g. you lose your job), interest rates rise or a specified expiration date passes, your lender must review your situation and recalculate your mortgage amount accordingly.

Closing Costs

Closing Costs

There are certain standard costs associated with closing the sale of a house. These fees are split between the buyer and the seller, as spelled out in the sales contract.

As I negotiate the sales contract for you, I will not only work to get the sales price you want, I will also work to limit the number of closing costs for which you will be responsible.

I will walk you through the closing costs, answering any questions you may have explaining which costs are decreed by law to be yours and which are negotiable.

Good Faith Estimate

Buyers will receive a "Good Faith Estimate" of closing costs at the time the loan application is submitted to the lender. The estimate is based on the loan officer's past experience and may not include all the closing costs. I will be glad to review the "Good Faith Estimate," answering questions and highlighting missing costs and estimates I believe to be low.

Standard Closing Costs

Loan-Related Costs

Loan Origination Fee
Points (optional)
Appraisal Fee
Credit Report
Interest Payment
Escrow Account

Taxes

Property Taxes
Transfer Taxes and Recording Fees

Insurance

Homeowners Insurance
Flood or Quake Insurance
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
Title Insurance

Debt to Income Ratios

Debt to Income Ratios

Your debt to income ratio is simply a way of determining how much money is available for your monthly mortgage payment after all your other recurring debt obligations are met.
Debt limit

There is generally a debt limit associated with each type of loan, such as a 28/36 qualifying ratio for a conventional loan. These qualifying ratios are guidelines. An excellent credit history can help you qualify for a mortgage loan even if your debt load is over and above the limit.
Understanding the qualifying ratio

Typically conventional loans have a qualifying ratio of 28/36. Usually an FHA loan will allow for a higher debt load, reflected in a higher (29/41) qualifying ratio.

The first number in a qualifying ratio is the maximum percentage of your gross monthly income that can be applied to housing (including loan principal and interest, private mortgage insurance, hazard insurance, property taxes and homeowner's association dues).

The second number is the maximum percentage of your gross monthly income that can be applied to housing expenses and recurring debt. Recurring debt includes things like car loans, child support and monthly credit card payments.

For example:

With a 28/36 qualifying ratio:

Gross monthly income of $3,500 x .28 = $980 can be applied to housing
Gross monthly income of $3,500 x .36 = $1,260 can be applied to recurring debt plus housing expenses

With a 29/41 qualifying ratio:

Gross monthly income of $3,500 x .29 = $1,015 can be applied to housing
Gross monthly income of $3,500 x .41 = $1,435 can be applied to recurring debt plus housing expenses

Simply guidelines

Remember these are just guidelines. We’d be happy to pre-qualify you to determine how large a mortgage loan you can afford. We look forward to helping you buy your dream home.

Five ways to make the loan process go faster

Five ways to make the loan process go faster

We should say that "working with us" is the first way! When you let us help you find the loan that's right for you, you truly are taking advantage of some of the area's best technology and expertise to get you a loan decision and funding on your loan quickly.

But here are five "other" ways you can speed up the process of getting a mortgage loan:
1. Have everything ready and in one place. Elsewhere on our website, you'll find a list of things you might need in support of your mortgage application. If you get them all together and keep them in a safe, portable place like a special pouch or folder, you can cut down on time spent rooting around for things we may need. Also, you'll help cut down on your own anxiety and confusion.

2. Be honest and complete when you fill out your application. "Fudging" your employment or residence history or omitting open credit accounts you'd rather not have considered doesn't increase your chances of getting a favorable loan. In 100 percent of cases, it makes it harder, and take longer.

3. Respond promptly to requests for additional information. During processing, we or the lender considering your loan may need additional information. Provide it as soon as you get the request, or return the call as soon as you get the message.

4. Be prepared to explain derogatory items in your credit report. This is really part of number 2 above. If you had an illness or a divorce where you missed or made late payments, or you have other instances of late payments or delinquencies on your credit report, be prepared to explain them. Be honest, and don't be nervous! The loan processor isn't judging you, they're trying to fill in all the blanks in their paperwork.

5. Let the appraiser in! The appraisal is one of the lengthiest parts of the mortgage loan process. Studies have shown that the single biggest factor in appraisal "lag time" is the appraiser's inability to reach the homeowner to make an appointment. If you're refinancing and the appraiser calls to make an appointment, make it as soon as convenient for both of you.

And remember that the appraiser doesn't want to buy your house. He or she will say what the house is worth clean and tidy and in reasonable repair, even if you have some dirty laundry on the laundry room floor or dirty dishes in the sink. Cleaning doesn't get you a higher appraisal! Letting the appraiser in as soon as possible gets you a loan faster, though.

Home equity line of credit

Home equity line of credit

If you need to borrow money to pay off debts or make a major purchase, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) can be useful. A HELOC is a form of revolving credit secured by the equity in your home. This is an open ended loan that can be paid down or charged up for the term of the loan, much like a credit card. The interest rate fluctuates (typically monthly).

With a HELOC, your lender will approve you for a specific amount of credit - the maximum amount you may borrow at any one time under the plan. In determining your credit limit, your income, debts, credit history and other financial obligations will be reviewed. An appraisal will be required on your home to determine the home's market value. Your credit limit will be based on a percentage of your home's appraised value, which is then subtracted from the balance owed on your existing mortgage.

When you take out a HELOC, you pay for many of the same expenses as when you financed your original mortgage, such as an application fee, title search, appraisal, attorneys' fees, and points (a percentage of the amount you borrow).

Most HELOCs have a fixed period (5, 10, even 20 years) during which you can borrow money. Typically, you will use special checks or a credit card to draw on your line. You will be required to make a minimum payment each month – usually the interest that accrued during the draw period. However, the interest you pay is usually tax deductible. At the end of your "draw period," you will be required to pay off the loan, making monthly payments on the principal and interest.

Home Equity Loan

Home Equity Loan

Do you need to tap into your home’s equity to pay for a home remodeling project or to pay off a credit card? A home equity loan is a fixed or adjustable rate loan that is secured by the equity in your home. With a home equity loan, you borrow a lump sum of money to be paid back monthly over a set time frame, much like your first mortgage. The terms home equity loan and second mortgage are often used interchangeably.

The process for a home equity loan is similar to your first mortgage. The closing costs (often 2-3 percent of the loan amount) are usually lower and, although the interest rate is higher on a home equity loan, the interest paid is tax deductible.

To qualify for second mortgage, your credit must be in good standing and you must be able to document your income. An appraisal will be required on your home to determine the home's market value.

How can you improve your credit score?

How can you improve your credit score?

It's virtually impossible to change your score in the time between when most people decide to buy a home or refinance their mortgage and when they apply. So the short answer is, you really can't "on the spot." But there are strategies you can live with to make sure when you apply for a loan your score is as high as possible.

Make sure that the information each of the three credit reporting bureaus has on you is consistent and up to date. Order a copy of your credit report about once a year, and dispute any inaccuracies.

Note: Theoretically, if a series of credit reports is requested on your behalf during a limited amount of time, your score goes down until time passes without any inquiries. Changes in the law though have made "consumer-originating" credit report requests not count so much. Also, a series of requests in relation to getting a mortgage or car loan is not treated the same as a number of credit card requests in a limited time. This is because the credit bureaus, and lenders, realize that people request their own credit reports to keep up with what's on them, and smart consumers shop around for the best mortgage and car loans.

Unsolicited credit card solicitations in the mail don't count against your credit report, so don't worry.

The two main components of your credit score are your payment history and the amounts you owe. Bankruptcy filings and foreclosures, which can stay on your credit report for as many as 10 years, can significantly lower your score. It's never a good idea to take on more credit than you can handle.

Late payments work against you. It's extremely important to pay bills on time, even if it's only the monthly payment.

Dont "max out" your credit lines. Since the size of the balance on your open accounts is a factor, lower balances are better.

It's said that by carefully managing your credit, it's possible to add as much as 50 points per year to your score.

How do I know how much house I can afford?

How do I know how much house I can afford?

A : Generally speaking, you can purchase a home with a value of two or three times your annual household income. However, the amount that you can borrow will also depend upon your employment history, credit history, current savings and debts, and the amount of down payment you are willing to make. You may also be able to take advantage of special loan programs for first time buyers to purchase a home with a higher value. Give us a call, and we can help you determine exactly how much you can afford.

How do I know which type of mortgage is best for me?

How do I know which type of mortgage is best for me?

There is no simple formula to determine the type of mortgage that is best for you. This choice depends on a number of factors, including your current financial picture and how long you intend to keep your house. Building Capital, Inc. can help you evaluate your choices and help you make the most appropriate decision.

How do you "buy" a better rate?

How do you "buy" a better rate?

Even if you're unsure of how long you plan to keep your mortgage before you move or refinance, paying points now for a lower rate may make sense. For example, do you have a high-paying job now but you think you might change careers in the next few years? We can help you sort it out. It's part of our finding the right loan for your means and goals.

A point -- which equals one percent (1%) of the total loan amount -- is an up-front fee that lowers your monthly interest rate and total interest due over the life of the loan. So, a one point loan will have a lower interest rate than a no point loan. Basically, when you pay points you trade off paying money later in favor of paying money now. You can pay fractions of points, meaning there are a lot of points packages that can make a loan's terms more favorable if that's what's right for you.

There are a variety of rate and point combinations available. When you look at different loan programs, don't look just at the rate -- compare the whole package. Federal law requires lenders to publish their loans' Annual Percentage Rate, or A.P.R.. The A.P.R. is a tool used to compare different terms, offered rates, and points.

Do you plan on keeping your loan for a while? Then it may make sense to "buy" a lower interest rate by paying one or more "points."

How is an index and margin used in an ARM?

How is an index and margin used in an ARM?

An index is an economic indicator that lenders use to set the interest rate for an ARM. Generally the interest rate that you pay is a combination of the index rate and a pre-specified margin. Three commonly used indices are the One-Year Treasury Bill, the Cost of Funds of the 11th District Federal Home Loan Bank (COFI), and the London InterBank Offering Rate (LIBOR).

How much can you afford?

How much can you afford?

Deciding how much house you can afford is a personal decision.Many factors come into play.How much can I borrow? How much can I put toward my down payment? What size monthly payment can I afford?

There are no black and white answers to these questions. Its a matter of give and take. If you plan on a 30 year mortgage, you can probably make a lower down payment (or perhaps no down payment at all) and still manage the monthly payments. If, on the other hand, you plan on a 15 year mortgage, youll probably want to make a larger down payment to keep your monthly payments in line with what you can afford.

How large a down payment can I make?

Many buyers look at their cash on hand as their only source for their down payment. This simply is not the case. One way to fund or partially fund a down payment is by using a gift. Parents, grandparents and other family members are often eager to help by making a cash gift toward the purchase of your home.

There are also down payment assistance charities that can help you. And, of course, if you are selling a home, the equity youve built up can be applied to your down payment.

But these are not your only options. We can help you explore all your down payment options, including low down payment and 100% mortgage financing options that might be right for you.

What size monthly payment can I afford?left

When determining what size monthly payment you can afford, youll want to consider what other monthly expenses you have. Tangible expenses such as car payments, day care and utility bills, all play a role in how large a monthly payment you can afford.

There are also the intangible expenses or lifestyle expenses that youll want to consider. Things such as dining out, travel and when you buy your next car can effect how much you can afford. Are you willing to curtail or delay some of these expenses in order to afford a larger monthly payment?

How much can I borrow?

This is a question youll want to get answered before you begin your home search. This is something that were here to help you with. Our agents will help you see how your down payment, monthly payment and the amount you borrow are all interrelated.

We can answer any questions you may have about the mortgage process. But the best way we can help is by getting you pre-qualified for a mortgage loan. To get started, simply complete the form below to let us know a good time to contact you. We look forward to helping you buy your dream home.

How much cash will I need to purchase a home?

How much cash will I need to purchase a home?

The amount of cash that is necessary depends on a number of items. Generally speaking, though, you will need to supply:
Earnest Money: The deposit that is supplied when you make an offer on the house
Down Payment: A percentage of the cost of the home that is due at settlement
Closing Costs: Costs associated with processing paperwork to purchase or refinance a house

How to Reduce Your Mortgage

How to Reduce Your Mortgage

One Additional Mortgage Payment a Year

There's a simple trick to significantly reduce the length of your mortgage and save you thousands of dollars. The trick is to make one extra mortgage payment a year and apply that payment toward your loan's principal.

This is the method being used by "Bi-Weekly Mortgage Reduction Services" and "Bi-Weekly Mortgage Savings Programs". Only, when you do it yourself, you don't pay a third party unnecessary set-up costs and fees!

Example: $100,000 loan, 30-year mortgage, 6.5% fixed interest rate

Extra Mortgage Payments/ Year

Principal & Interest

Additional Monthly Payment

SAVINGS

Total Paid

# of Years

0

$632.07

0

0

$227,542.98

29.92 / 359 mos.

1

$632.07

$52.68

$29,088.02

$198,454.96

24.12 / 290 mos.

2

$632.07

$105.35

$28,399.71

$181,050.85

20.5 /
246 mos.

3

$632.07

$158.02

$58,320.95

$169,222.03

17.92 / 215 mos.

4

$632.07

$210.69

$66,969.79

$160,573.19

15.92 / 191 mos.

5

$632.07

$263.36

$73,607.77

$153,935.21

14.34 / 172 mos.

One-time Payment

It may not be possible for you to increase your monthly mortgage payment. Keep in mind that most mortgages will permit you to make additional payments to your principal at anytime. Perhaps, five-years after moving into your home you receive a larger than expected tax return, or an inheritance or a non-taxable cash gift. You could apply this money toward your loan's principal, resulting in significant savings and a shorter loan period.

Example:

With a $100,000, 30-year, 6.5% fixed interest rate mortgage loan, the borrower will pay a total of $227,542.98 to pay back the loan in 30 years. That equals $127,542.98 in interest payments.

If the same borrower makes a one-time $5,000 payment the first day of year 6, he/she will pay a total of $204,710.75 and pay off the loan in 27 years (324 months). That's a savings of $22,832.23 in interest

Mortgage Broker vs. Loan Officer

Mortgage Broker vs. Loan Officer

When you're looking to get a mortgage loan, you may work with a loan officer or you may choose to work with a mortgage broker. People often confuse the two job types even though both will glean the same results: a new home. However, it is important to understand the difference between the two types of jobs so you know what to expect from them during the mortgage application process.

A mortgage broker is an individual or firm that acts as an independent agent for both the borrower and the lender of a mortgage loan.

Mortgage brokers are the middle man between you and the lending institution, which can be a bank, trust company, credit union, mortgage corporation, finance company or even an individual private investor. A mortgage broker will analyze your financial situation to determine which lender is the best fit for your loan needs. He or she will submit your mortgage application to one or more lenders in order to sell it, and works with the chosen lender until the loan closes. He or she receives a commission from the borrower if the loan closes.

A loan officer is a representative of a lending institution, such as a bank, who works to sell and process mortgages and other loans originated by their employer. They often have a wide variety of loans types to draw from, but all originate from that specific lender.

Also known as a loan representative or account executive, loan officers represent the borrower to the lending institution and will guide him or her through the selection, processing and closing of mortgage loan. Loan officers can be paid a commission or salary for their services.

Reasons for mistakes on your credit report

Reasons for mistakes on your credit report

Credit report errors occur for a number of reasons but they can all have a negative impact on your eligibility for any future credit. It's important to stay on top of your credit report to avoid any mistakes made by the creditors and credit bureaus —Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Some common reasons for credit report errors include:

The individual has applied for credit under several different names (i.e. John Doe and Jonathon Doe)
Someone made a clerical error in entering or reading information (names, social security numbers, addresses, etc.) from a handwritten application.
Mix ups with common names. For example, there is likely more than one John Smith living in New York City and often there is the chance that information intended for one John Smith might appear on another John Smith's credit report as he applies for a mortgage.
The individual gave an inaccurate Social Security number or the number was misread by the creditor.
Loan or credit card payments were inadvertently applied to the wrong account.

No matter what the reason, the erroneous information could reflect poorly on your credit file, thus causing approval problems when the time comes to apply for a job or obtain a mortgage. If you find errors, no matter how small, be sure you get them fixed, and make sure that you contact all three credit bureaus with your change.

Reverse Mortgages

Reverse Mortgages

Reverse mortgages (also called home equity conversion loans) enable elderly homeowners to tap into their equity without selling their home. The lender pays you money based on the equity you've accrued in your home; you receive a lump sum, a monthly payment or a line of credit. Repayment is not necessary until the borrower sells the property, moves into a retirement community or passes away. When you sell your home or no longer use it as your primary residence, you or your estate must repay the cash you received from the reverse mortgage plus interest and other finance charges to the lender.

Most reverse mortgages require you be at least 62 years of age, have a low or zero balance owed against your home and maintain the property as your principal residence.

Reverse mortgages are ideal for homeowners who are retired or no longer working and need to supplement their income. Interest rates can be fixed or adjustable and the money is nontaxable and does not interfere with Social Security or Medicare benefits. Your lender cannot take property away if you outlive your loan nor can you be forced to sell your home to pay off your loan even if the loan balance grows to exceed property value.

Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?

Scoring your Credit - How's your FICO?

In today's increasingly automated society, it should come as no surprise that when you apply for a mortgage, your ability to pay can be reduced to a single number. All the years you've been paying your mortgage, car payments, and credit card bills can be analyzed, sliced, diced, spindled and mutilated into a single indicator of whether you're likely to meet your future obligations.

All three of the major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) use a slightly different system to arrive at a score. The best known is called the FICO score, based on a model developed by Fair Isaac and Company (hence the name) and used by Experian. Equifax's model is called BEACON, while TransUnion uses EMPIRICA. While each of the models considers a range of data available in your credit report, the primary factors are:

Credit History - How long have you had credit?
Payment History - Do you pay your bills on time?
Credit Card Balances - How much do you owe on how many accounts?
Credit Inquiries - How many times have you had your credit checked?

Each of these, and other items, are assigned a value and a weight. The results are added up and distilled into a single number. FICO scores range from 300 to 800, with higher being better. Typical home buyers likely find their scores falling between 600 and 800.

FICO scores are used for more than just determining whether or not you qualify for a mortgage. Higher scores indicate you are a better credit risk, and thus may qualify for a better mortgage rate.

What can you do about your FICO score? Unfortunately, not much. Since the score is based on a lifetime of credit history, it is difficult to make a significant change in the number with quick fixes. The most important thing is to know your FICO score and to ensure that your credit history is correct. Conveniently, Fair Isaac has created a web site (www.myFICO.com) that let's you do just that. For a reasonable fee, you can quickly get your FICO score from all three reporting agencies, along with your credit report. Also available is some helpful information and tools that help you analyze what actions might have the greatest impact on your FICO score. Each of the credit services offers similar services on their web sites: www.equifax.com, www.experian.com, and www.transunion.com.

Armed with this information, you will be a more informed consumer and better positioned to obtain the most favorable mortgage available to you.

Second Mortgages

Second Mortgages

Taking out a second mortgage on your home used to carry some stigma with it – a sign that you were in financial trouble. But today, the ability to borrow money against your property is considered one of the biggest advantages of owning a home. A second mortgage is essentially a loan secured by your home or another piece of property with a first mortgage. The second mortgage allows the homeowner to tap into his or her equity to pay for college tuition, essential home improvements, pay off credit card balances or other pressing financial needs.

Because there is more risk involved with a second mortgage, the lender's conditions are usually more stringent, the term is shorter and the interest rate is higher than for the first mortgage. In the event of default, the holder of the second mortgage is subordinate to the first.

To qualify for a second mortgage, your credit must be in good standing and you must be able to document your income. An appraisal will be required on your home to determine the home's market value.

By definition, a second mortgage is any loan that involves a second lien on the property, but you generally have two options: a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit.

Both options combine your first and second loan, so your loan will be limited to 75 to 80 percent of your home's appraised value. With a home equity loan, you borrow a lump sum of money to be paid back monthly over a set time frame, much like your first mortgage. However, the closing costs (often 2-3 percent of loan amount) are often higher than your first mortgage and the rate - usually fixed – is also higher.

A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is an open line of credit tied to an equity-based maximum loan amount. You may use the account for a set period of time (5, 10 or even 20 years) as long as there are funds. Once your predetermined time period is up, you will be required to pay off the loan, making monthly payments on the principal and interest. The interest rate can fluctuate month to month on a home equity line of credit, which makes this option appealing when interest rates are low, but risky when interest rates increase.

When deciding what type of loan is best for you, it is important to consider how you will use the money and how you intend to pay it off. Do you need money in one lump sum or intermittent over several months or years? Do you want a fixed interest rate so you can repay your loan in precise monthly installments or would you rather have the flexibility to make any size payment above the interest-only minimum? In today’s competitive market, there are many options available. I will help you find the right mortgage product for your lifestyle and financial needs.

Should you consider financing closing costs, escrow reserves, or other cash needed at closing?

Should you consider financing closing costs, escrow reserves, or other cash needed at closing?

If you've built up some equity in your home, when you refinance, you may be able to "cash out" some of that equity to pay off credit cards or other revolving debt, improve your home, help pay for college, or anything else you can think of. The same is true of refinancing costs: If you have enough equity in your home, you may be able to roll some of the cash due at closing into your loan.

Some of the "cash needed to close" as it's sometimes called includes settlement costs and fees, prepaid interest, escrow reserves, state or local government charges, or even extra funds needed to pay off your existing mortgage. Some or all of those costs can sometimes be financed as part of your new mortgage loan.

But you have to be careful. It's not always the case that you can borrow up to 100 percent of your home's value. Many loan programs are based on what's called a "loan-to-value" ratio. You may qualify for a very advantageous refinanced mortgage if you borrow no more than 80 percent of your home's value, but may not qualify for the same terms if you borrow 90 percent. We can help you qualify for refinance loan programs for as much as 95 percent of your home's value in most cases, but the lower your loan-to-value ratio (that is, the less you borrow), the better terms you'll generally qualify for.

The bottom line is that in many cases you can reduce your up-front costs for refinancing your mortgage in exchange for higher monthly payments for the life of the loan. But whether, and to what extent, you can do this depends on the value of your home and the amount of your new mortgage, and what options you decide are best for you.

If you've had your current mortgage for a few years, chances are you've built up enough equity to finance cash needed to close and still have a smaller loan balance than your original -- and a balance that will qualify you for a favorable mortgage program tied to your loan-to-value ratio. We can help you decide!

Many people find that it's advantageous to pay the cash needed at closing from checking, savings or money market accounts or from other assets. This is because the less you borrow on the new refinanced loan, the lower your monthly payment will be. But we'll work with you to see if there is an advantageous refinancing program for you based on your ability and willingness to pay closing costs and other fees and the amount you wish to borrow.

We want to make the best loan for you, work for you!

The Loan Process

The Loan Process

Overview of the Loan Process

There are FOUR MAIN STEPS involved in getting a loan.

Here is how it works:
Step one: Determine how much you can borrow

a. What monthly payment can you afford?

You can use the calculators on our website.

b. Based upon your credit & employment history, income and debt, and goals, how much will a bank/lender loan you?

Your Building Capital, Inc. Loan Officer will walk you through this.

c. Based on bank/lender underwriting guidelines, Building Capital, Inc. will provide you with an overview of the kind of rates, terms and loan programs you can realistically expect.

The company policy of Building Capital, Inc. avoids "bait & switch" tactics. When your Loan Officer tells you the deal, it stays that way unless market conditions are beyond the control of Building Capital, Inc.

Step two: Pre-Approve your Loan

a. You supply information about your employment, your assets, your residence history.

b. We get your permission to run your credit score.

c. We review all this information and then provide you with a Pre-Approval Letter.

d. Your realty agent will use your Pre-Approval to make the best offer on the property you want.

e. The seller knows you are pre-approved.
Step three: Apply now!

a. The Purchase offer is accepted.

b. Complete your loan application.

c. You can complete your loan application online, right here at the Building Capital, Inc. website (ALL INFORMATION IS CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY AND PROTECTED), OR you can meet with your loan officer in person, OR your loan officer can email you the loan application and disclosures, OR your loan officer can snail mail you the loan application and disclosures.

d. Upon completion of your loan application and disclosures, they will be returned to your loan officer who will assign the file to a loan processor.

e. Your Building Captial, Inc. loan officer, loan processor, loan administrator, and loan coordinator will function as a team. They will order the appraisal for your property and integrate with your real estate agent and escrow company to acquire all documentation needed (purchase contract, escrow intructions, preliminary title report, etc.)

f. Your loan is submitted.

g. Your loan is approved.

h. Your loan documents are prepared and signed by you.

i. The escrow company sends your signed loan documents to the bank/lender to set up for the funding for your loan.

Step four: Your loan is funded

a. After your loan funds, it records in the county in which your property is located.

b. Upon confirmation of recording, your real estate agent will arange for you to pick up the keys to your new property that you now own!

Things to avoid before buying a home

Things to avoid before buying a home

Many new homebuyers make the mistake of rushing out to buy things to fill their home with as soon as the seller accepts their purchase offer and the lender pre-approves their loan. But there are still a few major hurdles to overcome before the keys are handed out. Here are some things to avoid during the home buying process to assure your transaction goes as smoothly as possible:

  • Don't make an expensive purchase. It may be tempting to order that new sofa for your soon-to-be living room, but its best to avoid making major purchases like furniture, cars, appliances, electronic equipment, jewelry, or vacations until after the closing. Financing that furniture with a store credit card or even one of your own credit cards could jeopardize your credit worthiness during the time it means the most. Using cash to purchase big items can also create a problem because many banks take into consideration your cash reserve when approving your mortgage.
  • Don't get a new job. Lenders like to see a consistent job history. Generally, changing jobs will not affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan - especially if you are going to be making more money. But for some people, getting a new job during the loan approval process could raise some concern and affect your application.
  • Don't switch banks or move money around. As your lender reviews your loan package, you will likely be asked to provide bank statements for the last two or three months on your checking accounts, savings accounts, money market funds and other liquid assets. To eliminate potential fraud, most loans require a thorough paper trail to document the source of all funds. Changing banks or transferring money to another account - even if its just to consolidate funds - could make it difficult for the lender to document your funds.
  • Don't give a good faith deposit directly to the seller in a FSBO purchase. As a rule, your good faith deposit belongs to you, not to the seller, until the deal closes. Your FSBO seller may not know that your good faith funds should be applied to your expenses at closing. Get an attorney or other neutral party who can hold the deposit or put it in a trust account until you close on the home. Your purchase contract should dictate to whom the funds go should the transaction fall through.
  • Don't disregard your lenders requirements. You may have been pre-approved for the loan but your work with the lender is far from over. In order to process your loan, you need to meet certain requirements. Your lender will need copies of your bank statements, W2s and other paperwork. It is up to you to get it to him or her as soon as possible. Failure to submit certain qualifying documents could cause you to lose your loan and the financing you need to buy your home.

What are homeowner's insurance, private mortgage insurance and title insurance?

What are homeowner's insurance, private mortgage insurance and title insurance?

A homeowners insurance policy is a package policy that combines more than one type of insurance coverage in a single policy. There are four types of coverages that are contained in the homeowners policy: dwelling and personal property, personal liability, medical payments, and additional living expenses. Homeowner's insurance, as the name suggests, protects you from damage or loss to your home or the property in it.

Remember that flood insurance and earthquake damage are not covered by a standard homeowners policy. If you buy a house in a flood-prone area, you'll have to pay for a flood insurance policy that costs an average of $400 a year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides useful information on flood insurance on its Web site at www.fema.gov. A separate earthquake policy is available from most insurance companies. The cost of the coverage will depend on the likelihood of earthquakes in your area.

Private mortgage insurance and government mortgage insurance protect the lender against default and enable the lender to make a loan which the lender considers a higher risk. Lenders often require mortgage insurance for loans where the down payment is less than 20 percent of the sales price. You may be billed monthly, annually, by an initial lump sum, or some combination of these practices for your mortgage insurance premium. Mortgage insurance should not be confused with mortgage life, credit life or disability insurance, which protect you and are designed to pay off a mortgage in the event of your death or disability.

You may also encounter "lender paid" mortgage insurance ("LPMI"). Under LPMI plans, the lender purchases the mortgage insurance and pays the premiums to the insurer. The lender will increase your interest rate to pay for the premiums -- but LPMI may reduce your settlement costs. You cannot cancel LPMI or government mortgage insurance during the life of your loan. However, it may be possible to cancel private mortgage insurance at some point, such as when your loan balance is reduced to a certain amount. Before you commit to paying for mortgage insurance, ask us about the specific requirements for cancellation in your case.

Title insurance is usually required by the lender to protect the lender against loss resulting from claims by others against your new home. In some states, attorneys offer title insurance as part of their services in examining title and providing a title opinion. The attorney's fee may include the title insurance premium. In other states, a title insurance company or title agent directly provides the title insurance.

A lenders title insurance policy does not protect you. Neither does the prior owners policy. If you want to protect yourself from claims by others against your new home, you will need an owner's title policy. When a claim does occur, it can be financially devastating to an owner who is uninsured. If you buy an owner's policy, it is usually much less expensive if you buy it at the same time and with the same insurer as the lender's policy.

To save money on title insurance, compare rates among various title insurance companies. Ask what services and limitations on coverage are provided under each policy so that you can decide whether coverage purchased at a higher rate may be better for your needs. However, in many states, title insurance premium rates are established by the state and may not be negotiable. If you are buying a home which has changed hands within the last several years, ask your title company about a "reissue rate," which would be cheaper. If you are buying a newly constructed home, make certain your title insurance covers claims by contractors. These claims are known as "mechanics liens" in some parts of the country. The American Land Title Association has consumer title insurance information available at its website, www.alta.org.

What are the advantages of fixed rate versus adjustable rate loans?

What are the advantages of fixed rate versus adjustable rate loans?

With a fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment of principal and interest never change for the life of your loan. Your property taxes may go up (we almost said down, too!), and so might your homeowner's insurance premium part of your monthly payment, but generally with a fixed-rate loan your payment will be very stable.

Fixed-rate loans are available in all sorts of shapes and sizes: 30-year, 20-year, 15-year, even 10-year. Some fixed-rate mortgages are called "biweekly" mortgages and shorten the life of your loan. You pay every two weeks, a total of 26 payments a year -- which adds up to an "extra" monthly payment every year.

During the early amortization period of a fixed-rate loan, a large percentage of your monthly payment goes toward interest, and a much smaller part toward principal. That gradually reverses itself as the loan ages.

You might choose a fixed-rate loan if you want to lock in a low rate. If you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) now, refinancing with a fixed-rate loan can give you more monthly payment stability.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages -- ARMs, as we called them above -- come in even more varieties. Generally, ARMs determine what you must pay based on an outside index, perhaps the 6-month Certificate of Deposit (CD) rate, the one-year Treasury Security rate, the Federal Home Loan Bank's 11th District Cost of Funds Index (COFI), or others. They may adjust every six months or once a year.

Most programs have a "cap" that protects you from your monthly payment going up too much at once. There may be a cap on how much your interest rate can go up in one period -- say, no more than two percent per year, even if the underlying index goes up by more than two percent. You may have a "payment cap," that instead of capping the interest rate directly caps the amount your monthly payment can go up in one period. In addition, almost all ARM programs have a "lifetime cap" -- your interest rate can never exceed that cap amount, no matter what.

ARMs often have their lowest, most attractive rates at the beginning of the loan, and can guarantee that rate for anywhere from a month to ten years. You may hear people talking about or read about what are called "3/1 ARMs" or "5/1 ARMs" or the like. That means that the introductory rate is set for three or five years, and then adjusts according to an index every year thereafter for the life of the loan. Loans like this are often best for people who anticipate moving -- and therefore selling the house to be mortgaged -- within three or five years, depending on how long the lower rate will be in effect.

You might choose an ARM to take advantage of a lower introductory rate and count on either moving, refinancing again or simply absorbing the higher rate after the introductory rate goes up. With ARMs, you do risk your rate going up, but you also take advantage when rates go down by pocketing more money each month that would otherwise have gone toward your mortgage payment.

What does it cost to refinance? What are the benefits?

What does it cost to refinance? What are the benefits?

Ever heard the old rule of thumb, you should only refinance if your new interest rate is at least two points lower? That may have been true years ago, but with refinancing dropping in cost over the last few years, it's never the wrong time to think about a new loan! Refinancing has a number of benefits that often make it worth the up-front expenditure many times over.

When you refinance, you might be able to lower your interest rate and monthly payment -- sometimes significantly. You might also be able to "cash out" some of the built-up equity in your home, which you can use to consolidate debt, improve your home, take a vacation -- whatever! With lower rates and balances, you might also be able to build up home equity faster with a shorter-term new mortgage.

All these benefits do cost something, though. When you refinance, you're paying for most of the same things you paid for when you obtained your original mortgage. These might include settlement costs and other fees, an appraisal, lender's title insurance, underwriting fees, and so on.

You might have to pay a penalty if you refinance your previous mortgage too quickly. That depends on the terms of your existing mortgage. These penalties are illegal in some places, and more often than not when they're there apply only for the first year or two. We'll help you figure it out.

You might pay points to get a more favorable interest rate. If you pay (on average) three percent of the loan amount up front, your savings for the life of the new mortgage can be significant. You should be aware that the IRS has recently said that points paid for the purpose of refinancing your mortgage cannot be deducted in their entirety in the year you pay them, unless the refinanced loan is primarily for home improvements. Consult your tax professional before deducting points you pay on your new mortgage from your federal income taxes.

Speaking of taxes, if you lower your interest rate, naturally you will be lowering the amount of mortgage interest payments you can deduct from your federal income taxes. This is another cost that some borrowers consider. We can help you do the math!

Ultimately, for most people the amount of up-front costs to refinance are made up very quickly in monthly savings. We'll work with you to determine what program is best for you, considering your cash on hand, how likely you are to sell your home in the near future, and what effect refinancing might have on your taxes.

What does my mortgage payment include?

What does my mortgage payment include?

For most homeowners, the monthly mortgage payments include three separate parts:

  • Principal: Repayment on the amount borrowed
  • Interest: Payment to the lender for the amount borrowed
  • Taxes & Insurance: Monthly payments are normally made into a special escrow account for items like hazard insurance and property taxes. This feature is sometimes optional, in which case the fees will be paid by you directly to the County Tax Assessor and property insurance company.

What is a "rate lock period"? How can you make sure your rate is low?

What is a "rate lock period"? How can you make sure your rate is low?

A rate lock period can vary in length, and longer ones usually cost more. A lender will agree to "hold" your interest rate and points for a longer period, say 60 days, but in exchange the rate and maybe points are higher than with a shorter rate lock period, for example.

There are many ways besides opting for a shorter rate lock period to get a lower rate, though. A larger down payment will result in a lower interest rate than a smaller one, because you're starting out with more equity. You can pay points to lower your rate over the life of the loan, but that means you pay more up front. For many people, this makes sense and is a good deal.

Closing costs are fees paid by the lender, which the lender in turn charges you to close the loan. Many people pay closing costs when they sign on the dotted line, but many finance their closing costs. Paying closing costs when the loan closes will reduce your interest rate.

Finally, the interest rate a lender is willing to offer you depends on your credit score and your income-to-debt ratio. If you have good credit and your income far exceeds your debt obligations, you will qualify for a lower rate.

A rate lock or a rate commitment is a lender's promise to hold a certain interest rate and a certain number of points for you for a specified period of time while your application is processed. This prevents you from going through your whole application process and at the end of it finding out the interest rate has gone up.

What is a credit score?

What is a credit score?

Before deciding on what terms they will offer you a loan (which they base on their "risk"), lenders want to know two things about you: your ability to pay back the loan, and your willingness to pay back the loan. For the first, they look at your income-to-debt obligation ratio. For your willingness to pay back the loan, they consult your credit score.

The most widely used credit scores are FICO scores, which were developed by Fair Isaac & Company, Inc. (and they're named after their inventor!). Your FICO score is between 350 (high risk) and 850 (low risk).

Credit scores only consider the information contained in your credit profile. They do not consider your income, savings, down payment amount, or demographic factors like gender, race, nationality or marital status. In fact, the fact they don't consider demographic factors is why they were invented in the first place. "Profiling" was as dirty a word when FICO scores were invented as it is now. Credit scoring was developed as a way to consider only what was relevant to somebody's willingness to repay a loan.

Past delinquencies, derogatory payment behavior, current debt level, length of credit history, types of credit and number of inquiries are all considered in credit scores. Your score considers both positive and negative information in your credit report. Late payments will lower your score, but establishing or reestablishing a good track record of making payments on time will raise your score.

Different portions of your credit history are given different weights. Thirty-five percent of your FICO score is based on your specific payment history. Thirty percent is your current level of indebtedness. Fifteen percent each is the time your open credit has been in use (ten year old accounts are good, six month old ones aren't as good) and types of credit available to you (installment loans such as student loans, car loans, etc. versus revolving and debit accounts like credit cards). Finally, five percent is pursuit of new credit -- credit scores requested.

Your credit report must contain at least one account which has been open for six months or more, and at least one account that has been updated in the past six months for you to get a credit score. This ensures that there is enough information in your report to generate an accurate score. If you do not meet the minimum criteria for getting a score, you may need to establish a credit history prior to applying for a mortgage.

What is the difference between a fixed-rate loan and an adjustable-rate loan?

What is the difference between a fixed-rate loan and an adjustable-rate loan?

With a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rate stays the same during the life of the loan. With an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), the interest changes periodically, typically in relation to an index. While the monthly payments that you make with a fixed-rate mortgage are relatively stable, payments on an ARM loan will likely change. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of mortgage, and the best way to select a loan product is by talking to us.

What is the difference between the interest rate and the A.P.R.?

What is the difference between the interest rate and the A.P.R.?

You'll see an interest rate and an Annual Percentage Rate (A.P.R.) for each mortgage loan you see advertised. The easy answer to "why" is that federal law requires the lender to tell you both.

The A.P.R. is a tool for comparing different loans, which will include different interest rates but also different points and other terms. The A.P.R. is designed to represent the "true cost of a loan" to the borrower, expressed in the form of a yearly rate. This way, lenders can't "hide" fees and upfront costs behind low advertised rates.

While it's designed to make it easier to compare loans, it's sometimes confusing because the A.P.R. includes some, but not all, of the various fees and insurance premiums that accompany a mortgage. And since the federal law that requires lenders to disclose the A.P.R. does not clearly define what goes into the calculation, A.P.R.s can vary from lender to lender and loan to loan.

The A.P.R. on a loan tied to a market index, like a 5/1 ARM, assumes the market index will never change. But ARMs were invented because the market index changes and makes fixed rate loans cheaper or more expensive to make -- that's why they're variable rate in the first placed!

So, A.P.R.s are at best inexact. The lesson is, that A.P.R. can be a guide, but you need a mortgage professional to help you find the truly best loan for you.

Note when you're browsing for loan terms that the A.P.R. will not tell you about balloon payments or prepayment penalties, or how long your rate is locked. Also, you'll see that A.P.R.s on 15-year loans will carry a higher relative rate due to the fact that points are amortized over a shorter period of time.

Which refinancing option is best for you?

Which refinancing option is best for you?

There aren't quite as many loan programs as there are borrowers, but it seems like it sometimes! We'll work with you to qualify you for the best loan program to fit your needs. But there are some general considerations you can have in mind in advance.

Are you refinancing primarily to lower your rate and monthly payments? Then your best option might be a low fixed-rate loan. Maybe you have a fixed-rate mortgage now with a higher rate, or maybe you have an ARM -- adjustable rate mortgage -- where the interest rate varies. Even if it's low now, unlike your ARM, when you qualify for a fixed-rate mortgage you lock that low rate in for the life of your loan. This is especially a good idea if you don't think you'll be moving within the next five years or so. On the other hand, if you do see yourself moving within the next few years, an ARM with a low initial rate might be the best way to lower your monthly payment.

Are you refinancing primarily to cash out some home equity? Maybe you want to pay for home improvements, pay your child's college tuition bill, take your dream vacation, whatever. Then you'll want to qualify for a loan for more than the balance remaining on your current mortgage. If you've had your current mortgage for a number of years and/or have a mortgage whose interest rate is higher, you may be able to do this without increasing your monthly payment.

You want to cash out some equity to consolidate other debt? Good idea! If you have the equity in your home to make it work, paying off other debt with higher interest rates than the interest rate on your mortgage -- for example, credit cards, home equity loans, car loans, some student loans -- means you can save possibly hundreds of dollars a month.

Do you want to build up home equity more quickly, and pay off your mortgage sooner? Consider refinancing with a shorter-term loan, such as a 15-year mortgage. Your payments will be higher than with a longer-term loan, but in exchange, you will pay substantially less interest and will build up equity more quickly. If you have had your current 30-year mortgage for a number of years and the loan balance is relatively low, you may be able to do this without increasing your monthly payment -- you may even be able to save! For example, let's say years ago you took out a $150,000 30-year mortgage at eight percent. Your payment is about $1,100, exclusive of taxes, insurance and so on. If your balance today is down to $130,000, you might take out a 15-year mortgage at six percent and have an almost identical monthly payment. This is a great option for people whose main goal is not to save money on their monthly payment but rather want to build up equity and pay off their home more quickly.

Why might you need an appraisal? How do appraisals work?

Why might you need an appraisal? How do appraisals work?

In many cases, lenders need a professional, independent appraisal of the property you want to buy or refinance to ensure that it is worth at least as much as they are being asked to lend on it. If you are making a smaller down payment and have a lower credit score, the lender is going to be even more interested in making sure the property that will be collateral for the loan is worth lending the amount requested.

A professional, independent appraiser will usually visit your home and inspect its interior and exterior. The appraiser doesn't want to buy your home, and isn't a visiting head of state. So whatever you do, do not postpone the appraisal until you get a chance to "clean up a little." Cleaning does not make your appraised value higher! And delaying adds time to an already lengthy process.

The appraiser will form an opinion on the probable market value of the property considering sales of similar homes in the area among other factors. He or she will prepare an appraisal report explaining the conclusion. The appraisal belongs to the lender considering lending money with the home as collateral. Often, you can receive a copy of the appraisal either as a courtesy or in keeping with state law. Let us know you're interested and we'll help.

The lender wants to know first of all whether the property is worth at least as much as the loan amount. In the unlikely event the lender would have to foreclose, it wants to know it should be able to recoup at least the loan amount. But if your loan program depends on your borrowing, for example, 95 percent of the property's value and no more, the appraisal can impact your eligibility for the loan that's right for you. In a "close" case like that, the best solution is almost always to increase your down payment, or we can help find another solution such as another loan program that works.

An appraisal can cost from $200 to $500 or more for very complex properties. You as the borrower repay the lender for its cost in paying the appraisal fee upon settlement of the loan.

Why you should get an Inspection

Why you should get an Inspection

Whether you are buying or selling a home, you should have a professional home inspection performed.

A home inspection will look at the systems that make up the building such as:

  • Structural elements, foundation, framing etc
  • Plumbing systems
  • Roofing
  • Electrical systems
  • Cosmetic condition, paint, siding etc

If you are buying a home, you need to know exactly what you are getting. A home inspection, performed by a professional home inspector, will reveal any hidden problems with the home so that they may be addressed BEFORE the deal is closed. You should require an inspection at the time you make a formal offer. Make sure the contract has an inspection contingency. Then, hire your own inspector and pay close attention to the inspection report. If you aren't comfortable with what he finds, you should kill the deal.

Likewise, if you are selling a home, you want to know about such potential hidden problems before your house goes on the market. Almost all contracts include the condition that the contract is contingent upon completion of a satisfactory inspection. And most buyer's are going to insist that the inspection be a professional home inspection, usually by an inspector they hire. If the buyer's inspector finds a problem, it can cause the buyer to get cold feet and the deal can often fall through. At best, surprise problems uncovered by the buyer's inspector will cause delays in closing, and usually you will have to pay for repairs at the last minute, or take a lower price on your home.

It's better to pay for your own inspection before putting your home on the market. Find out about any hidden problems and correct them in advance. Otherwise, you can count on the buyer's inspector finding them, at the worst possible time.