Low interest rate vs low closing costs. What is best?

Minneapolis, MN:  As a Mortgage Loan Officer for over 20-years, I am constantly asked the same two main questions. What is your interest rate, or what are your closing costs? The answer isn’t actually very simple. Low interest rate vs low closing costs, and what is best for you depends on many factors.

Interest Rate and Closing Costs Education

The first thing to understand is that for the most part, all lenders, regardless of them being a bank, broker, or actual mortgage company all do the same thing, have the same rates, and same costs

For example, FHA guidelines are FHA guidelines no matter who you get your loan from.  If your situation puts you on the far fringe of a programs guidelines, you may run into lenders have have an individual company risk overlay, but I am speaking about the vast majority of loan applicants. 

We all get our base interest rates based on the same mortgage backed security bond market. If my rates go up, so do theirs.  If my rates go down, so do theirs. Lenders don’t just make up rates. Today’s bond market plus our margin equal todays rates

We all have the same REAL closing costs, most of which are not actually the lenders costs. Appraisal, credit report, title company, state deed taxes, county recording fees, and initial pre-paid items of taxes and insurance are all the same, or so close as to not make a difference no matter who you deal with.

We all also don’t work for free. Anyone claiming they don’t charge a normal cost, no lender fees, or things like free appraisal are making up up somewhere else.

Interest rates can vary based on many items, including loan program, credit score, state, property type, and down payment size. because of this, my opinion is most instant online interest rate quotes are worthless. 

Different Interest Rate Quote Techniques

Differences in standard quoting techniques are everywhere, and super confusion to most home buyers. There are four main interest rate and closing cost options. Understanding all four makes you a better shopper.

STANDARD RATE QUOTE:

The traditional mortgage loan interest rate quote is based on today’s lowest rate for your situation, combined with you paying all standard and traditional closing costs. There are no discounted cost, no free appraisals, and no discount points to artificially buy down the rate. This is the most commonly quoted option.

NO LOAN ORIGINATION FEE QUOTE

The mortgage loan interest rate quote is based on today’s lowest rate for your situation, combined with you paying all standard and traditional closing costs, EXCEPT the lender does not charge you the standard 1% loan origination fee. Sounds great, but no lender works for free. The no loan origination is achieved by increasing your loans interest rate by typically 0.25%. The actual amount will vary based on program and loan size. This is the second most popular interest rate quote.

LOW RATE WITH DISCOUNT POINTS QUOTE

This option is based on today’s base rate for your situation, combined with you paying all standard and traditional closing costs, PLUS additional closing costs known as discount points to buy down your interest rate. For example, maybe you pay an addtional 1% of the purchase price in closing costs today, and this may get you and interest rate 0.25% lower. The amount of points you pay, and the actual rate change will vary based on program and loan size. This option is highly quoted on internet rate quote comparison sites.

NO CLOSING COST QUOTE

The mortgage loan interest rate quote is based on today’s base rate for your situation, but where you typically do not pay any loan closing costs, except for any initial escrow account set-up costs, like pro-rated property taxes and insurance. Again, there is no such thing as no costs, they just hide the costs in a higher interest rate. The actual increase inthe interest rate will vary based on loan size, and dollar amount of real costs the lender needs to bury into the interest rate. It is not uncommon to see interest rates 0.50% to 0.75% about the standard quote rate.

HOW TO SHOP INTEREST RATE OFFERS?

Most people call and ask “What is your interest rate.” A good question, but based on the various quoting techniques, can leave you with confusing answers for comparison purposes.

I usually advise people to PICK on of the offer options, then when contacting lenders, be sure to tell each lender you desire the same type of quote. Standard offer vs Standard offer, or no origination versus no origination.

Another good tool is to ask based on a hard closing costs number. Ask everyone for a quote based on closing costs being $7,000 for ecample. Then the only difference is interest rate.

More information on How to Shop Interest Rates

BEWARE OF LOW QUOTING TRICKS

Since the real estate collapse in 2007, rules and regulations have been improved dramatically, but there are still common tricks. The current biggest being under quoting pre-paid items of taxes and insurance.

I recently quoted a client estimated home owners insurance of $1,400 for the year. The competition quoted $700 for the year. Needless to say, the client was thrilled with the $700 cheaper quote, and wanted to go with the competitor.

I informed the client that this was just our guessing, and that whatever his insurance policy premium actually cost, would simply be passed on and adjusted in his final numbers.

I also informed him that while a guess, we are supposed to be as accurate as possible, and that maybe he should hand up and call his insurance agent.

His actual quote was $1290. So I was a little high, but the competition was way off low.

Low interest rate vs low closing costs. What is best?

There is no correct answer, and one is not better than another. Your answer lies in your individual situation.

If you are a first time home buyer who can barely come up with your down payment, you may opt for the no loan origination fee, or the no closing cost loan. Yes, your interest rate and payment will be higher, but if you don’t have the money, this may be a good option.

The next person may be selling their small first home, and buying their bigger forever home. They may also be netting a nice profit. Therefore not only do they have plenty of money for down payment and closing costs, they may also have plenty to buy the interest rate down – which saves them a lot of money over the long haul.

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Mortgage broker in MN, WI, SD

Ready to apply for a home loan?  For home mortgage loans in MN, WI, and SD, just click here to get started. If in another state, we suggest contacting a local mortgage broker in your area for the best deals and options. Joe Metzler, NMLS #274132. Equal Housing Lender. Not an offer to enter into an interest rate lock agreement.


Buying a duplex, or multi-family home

Buying a duplex or multi-family home.

Minneapolis, St Paul, MN: From a duplex or multi-family home owner’s perspective, buying a multi-family property can be especially appealing because you can live in one area of the building and collect rent from the tenants living in the other area of the building.

What you’ll find is that a multi family home can actually help both your short term and long term finances. For example, let’s say the mortgage loan on a triplex is $1800 per month, but you can rent out the other two units for $2,200. You’re essentially completely covering the loan, and making $400 to boot. Cool…

Not all properties work out this nicely, but even if you could cover 75% of your mortgage with the other units… how nice is that?

Multi family home

Not only does this save you money on your personal housing expense, but it can also help you build equity much quicker if you choose to make larger payments because of the rent you collect.You get your own home and an investment property all in one.

With an FHA loan, you can buy a duplex, triplex, or 4-unit property with as little as 3.50% down payment.

If you want to buy a true investment property that you will not live in, your required down payment will be a lot larger.

Contact our loan experts at (651) 552-3681, or online at www.MortgagesUnlimited.biz.

There is never any obligation for us to review your situation and options.

Equal Housing Lender. NMLS 225504


Credit scores and mortgage loan approval

Minneapolis / St Paul, MN:  When buying a home, your credit matters. Credit scores and mortgage loan approval go hand in hand, and are one of the most important factors in the loan approval decision.  With places like Credit Karma, and getting your credit score with your credit card statement, most people have a pretty good idea of where they scores average.  But how does that score correlate to mortgage loan approvals, and what credit score do you need for loan approval?

What Credit Scores Mean In Mortgage Approval

Understandably, the better your credit score, the more likely you’ll get approved for a loan, and the more options you’ll have. Also understand that credit score alone does not get you approved like it does in car loans. Mortgage loans still look at many other things, including debt-to-income rations, job stability, size of down payment, past bankruptcies and foreclosures, etc.

Credit score factors

Standard Conventional Loan Scores

  • 740 score and higher = Access to all program options, and the best rates in the market
  • 720 – 739 score = Access to all program options, and maybe a slight increased rate (.125%)
  • 700 – 719 score = Access to most program options, and maybe a slight increased rate (.25%)
  • 680 – 699 score = Some higher risk program options disappear, and a slight increased rate (.375%)
  • 640 – 680 score = All higher risk options go away, and a bigger increase to interest rate (.50%)
  • 620 – 639 score = Very few lenders offer loans in this range
  • 619 or less = Denied

FHA and VA Loan Scores

  • 640 and above = Generally approved, and the best rates available
  • 620 – 639 = Lots of lenders don’t offer below a 620 score, and interest rate slightly higher
  • 580 – 619 = Huge amount of lenders no longer offer FHA or VA loans at this score level, and rates .50% higher
  • 500 – 579 = Very limited number of lenders offer these loans. Very hard to get approved. Minimum down payment jumps to 10% for FHA loans.  Rate easily .50% higher or more.

Other factors also come into play, for example, most down payment assistance programs are not available with credit scores below 640.

Clearly credit is important in the mortgage loan approval process. Always best do work on improving credit before applying for a home loan.

Ready to apply?  For home mortgage loans in MN, WI, and SD, just click here to get started.


Why APR is not the best tool for comparing loans

Minneapolis, MN: I see it all the time. Arm chair financial guru’s always claim that using APR annual percentage rate is the best way to shop for a mortgage loan. While in theory, that is correct, in practice, it could end up giving you the wrong home loan.

The Federal Government requires APR to be disclosed right along side the loans interest rate as a means to help borrowers make an informed loan decision. Everyone understands the interest rate. Lower rates equal better deals and lower payments, but few people understand APR.APR Annual percentage rate

The APR takes the base interest rate, then factors in all of the following, and more; lender fees, discount points, days of interest, points to buy down the rate, and mortgage insurance (if applicable). If two lender quote you the exact same interest rate, the lender with the lower APR is supposed to be a better deal because of less costs and fees. So in theory, the lender quoting you the lower APR is always the better deal, right?

Wrong. The truth is that APR is a very poor way to comparison shop for a mortgage, because it can cause borrowers to make costly bad decisions.

APR was created to provide a way for borrowers to account for closing costs associated with the getting a mortgage loan. This sounds good in theory because it can be very confusing for home buyers to compare loans.

APR calculations are based on bad assumptions.

The first issue is APR assumes zero inflation, and that the value or buying power of a dollar today will be exactly equal to the value of a dollar 10-years,  20-years, or even 30-years from now.

Next, the APR calculation assumes that the mortgage loan will never be pre-paid or paid off early. That means no refinancing or selling the home. This is highly unlikely since the average life of a home mortgage loan is less than seven years.

Just think about your own loans: Is it rare to see the same loan in place for the full term of the loan. You only get the actual APR listed if you carry a loan fully to term.

Mortgage interest is front end loaded, meaning you pay more interest than principal in the beginning years of a loan, while towards the end of the loan, you pay more in principal than interest. So assume you got a APR quote of 4.21%. Your actual APR would only be 4.21% is you carried that loan for the full 30-years, and never pre-paid a dime.  If you sold the home after a much shorter time, your actual effective “APR” could be 15%, or even higher.

The APR calculation also does not consider the time value of the money. So if you spent a few thousand dollars buying down the interest rate with discount points, APR calculation does not give any value to the money if it wasn’t spent on closing costs.

APR does not take tax consequences into consideration. This can be significant, since higher closing costs on the mortgage loan may not be deductible, while the higher interest rate typically is deductible.

Finally, APR can also still be easily manipulated by bad lenders, making it totally worthless for real life comparisons. 

Real World APR Considerations.

I spoke earlier of two lenders giving you the same rate, and comparing APR. But what if two lenders give you different interest rates? Now comparing loans with the APR calculation is totally confusing. The lower rate will always have a lower APR, but what did it take to get the lower rate?

Let us assume a $150,000 loan. Lender A is offering a great low rate of 4.250 percent and $3000 more in points Lender B, who is offering a higher rate of 4.625 percent, but with no points. Which one is better?

The payment difference between the two interest rates is just $34 per month. So is it worth paying $3,000 in points to Lender A in order to save $34 per month? Maybe. Maybe not.

In this example, it will take a little over 7-years to break even on the additional up-front closing costs. If you are going to be in the home less than 7-years, this is a POOR loan choice. You paid more up-front than you ever saved, but you got a lower APR.  If you are going to be in the home 20-years, paying the higher cost for the lower interest rate is a great choice.  You save more in interest than it cost up front.

Many mortgage companies these days quote no origination fee loans. These lower closing costs sound great, but but they don’t really have lower closing costs, and they sure as heck are not working for free. To give you those lower closing costs, they simply INCREASE the interest rate they offer.

There is also the opposite, this is called discount points, where you pay more money up-=front today in exchange for a lower interest rates.

But wait, to make the decision even more complicated (if that’s possible), borrowers rarely take the value of to day’s dollars and cash flow into account. If you are going to be in the home 20+ year, but you don’t really have the additional $3,000 costs, now what?

How about the other direction again. Maybe you know you’ll likely be in the home 20 plus years, but you don’t really have the extra $3000, or don’t want to spend the extra money today to get the lower rate.

Worse yet is on a refinance loan, where they tease you with super low rates, but you end up financing the discount points into the loan itself… Yikes.

APR annual percentage rate

The bottom line is that you should forget APR annual percentage rate by itself to pick a loan. Instead, do simple math in conjunction with an analysis of the cost benefit of lower rate/higher costs, or higher rate/lower costs as it pertains to your individual situation and cash flow.

Any skilled professional Loan Officer can assist you with all of these calculations. We lend in MN, WI, and SD.


The Digital Mortgage Truth

The Digital Mortgage truth is much different than the hype.

Minneapolis, MN: It is 2018. The number of people who physically step into a bank or mortgage lender to do a home loan application is dwindling everyday. The vast majority of complete an online loan application on a desktop computer or iPad, or even apply via a Smartphone.

Digital Mortgage

Technology allows lenders to do more parts of the process electronically that ever before, including electronically signing application documents, secure uploading your documents, and even apps that shows the current status of your application 24/7.

Very cool technology, with this process now commonly referred to as a ‘Digital Mortgage’.

I see many places claiming using a digital mortgage will save you a ton of money. Mainly because somehow this streamlines the process, blah blah blah.

Taking the loan application online is only one small part of the mortgage loan process.

You still need to supply W2’s, pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, etc. We still need processors, underwriters, and a large number of  back office staff.

While yes, we can now get some  of these documents electronically, I haven’t done a single loan yet without needing the client to supply at least s half of these standard supporting documents themselves.

You still need, and still want to have a conversation with a licensed professional Loan Officer to discuss your wants, needs and goals. To analyze your situation, to determine the correct loan for you, to answer any questions, and walk you through the process.

Yes, you can complete a loan application in 10 minutes on your phone, but that is a long long long way from being fully approved and actually successfully closing a mortgage loan.

There is no fast rocket way to circumvent the bulk of the mortgage process. So don’t be fooled or make a lender choice simply because of a gimmicky claim of a digital mortgage process. That just isn’t reality – yet. It is the largest financial transaction of your life. Don’t entrust it to your cell phone.

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Ready to get started?

It’s easy. Simply complete the Online application.  You’ll be applying directly with me, Joe Metzler, an experienced, multiple award winning Loan officer with over 20-years in the the business. We lend in MN, WI, and SD. Learn more about me HERE.

Mortgage lender in MN, WI, SD


Dangers of Dual Agency on real estate transactions

The dangers of dual agency real estate transactions, and using the same real estate agent to buy your home that is also selling the home is a little more troubling than most home buyers are aware.

It’s common to walk into an Open House, look around, and start talking to the real estate agent listing the home.  If you don’t already have your own agent, but love the home, you may be tempted to just use the agent selling the house.  While completely legal, and while it may seem OK on the surface, it is wrought with possible issues.

The first thing to know is that real estate agents commonly refer to this situation as a ‘hogger’. This simply means they get to keep all of the commission the seller is paying for themselves when they represent both the seller and the buyer. Typically when there is a separate buying and selling agent they split the commissions. On a pretty standard 6% listing fee, the listing agent would keep 3.3% of the commission, and pay 2.7% to the buyers agent. If they can double their pay, an agent might be over  incentivized to close a deal no matter what.

Many buyer think that a dual agent will reduce their commissions, saving them money. While they can do this, it rarely even happens.

But the bigger concern element is that the duty of the agent in this situation is to the seller. They have no duty to the buyer. An example would be that the agent knows the seller is willing to take $10,000 less on the house, but the agent has no duty whatsoever to tell share this confidential information with you just because you are using the same agent.

Also, without your own agent, you have no one advising you if the listing price is even reasonable. If you have your own agent, your agent will generally review similar properties to tell you if this one is priced low, about right, or high. The listing agent will likely defend the listing price as it, meaning you could easily over pay for the home.

TIP: Although you may feel like you have to make the decision whether to accept a dual agent on short notice, don’t be tempted. It’s possible to find a buyer’s agent to step into the transaction and assist you in a matter of hours. Best to always have your own buying agent. Someone fighting for YOU!

If I’ve pre-approved you for your mortgage loan, I’ve worked with hundreds of good real estate agents in the Minneapolis / St Paul area, and can easily get a great one to call you right away.

PROHIBITED BY LAW

A much lesser known, but to me more troubling issue is that when you hire a real estate agent to list your home, and the same company represents the buyer, your agent is prohibited by law to negotiate on your behalf?

WTF?

Yes, its true. It is because of a Minnesota law called ‘Dual Agency’, and companies with hundreds or even thousands of real estate agents end up having many ‘in-house’ transactions. This forces sellers to sacrifice their exclusive representation because even though you have two different agents, they work for the same company.

Before entering into any of these types of dual agency agreements, however, you want to understand the legal implications and how it might affect your ability to get the best possible deal in buying or selling a home. You’ll see dual agency notifications in the piles of paperwork you sign when making an offer, but virtually no one buying a home understands what it means.


Use lender credits to pay closing costs

Minneapolis, MN:  The biggest challenge for most home buyers, especially first time home buyers, is coming up with the required down payment.  While most people understand down payment, they are shocked to learn their are mortgage closing costs. Wose yet, is discovering how much closing costs can add up to.

Mortgage loan closing costs cover many items, including appraisal, credit report, state deed taxes, title company costs, title insurance, lender costs, and more.  Plus you also have something known as pre-paid expenses which need to be paid too, including buying your first years home owners insurance policy, and one time pro-rated property taxes, which are based on when property taxes are due, and what month you close on your new home.

While closing costs and pre-paid items are actually separate, it is very common for people to combine both of them together, and simply say ‘closing costs’.

CLOSING COSTS ARE NOT 3%

I hear it day after day after day, that closing costs are around 3% of the purchase price. This generalized statement couldn’t be more wrong!

Closing costs vary based on many factors, including the homes purchase price, state, property taxes, loan program, and the buyers choice of how to pay for them.

This misinformation comes from the fact that conventional loans only allow for a home buyer to roll into the loan closing costs up to 3% of the purchase price.

Many loan closing costs are based on the loan amount, and the rest are the same regardless of the homes price.  For example, standard loan origination costs are 1%.  So 1% of a $100,000 loan is just $1,000, while a $400,000 loan of course equals $4,000.

Items like the appraisal may be the same for both the $100,000 home or the $400,000 home. While the cost is the same for either house, the $400 appraisal fee is 1% of a $40,000 home, but only 0.10% of the $400,000 home.

Another good example are Title Company charges. Standard Title Company closing fee is usually a flat fee, but the required title insurance varies based on purchase price.

HOW TO PAY FOR CLOSING COSTS

Mathmatically, the best way to pay for your loans closing costs will always be to pay cash out-of-pocket. Realistically, especially for first time home buyers, this makes the amount needed out of reach.

Mortgage loan programs always require you bring your down payment, but closing costs can be rolled into the loan a few different way.

  1. Seller paid closing costs
  2. Lender Credit
  3. Combination of both

I dislike the term ‘Seller paid closing costs’, as many people thing the seller is paying it, and therefore it is free. The reality is that while the purchase agreement says the seller is paying, the person actually paying is the buyer. You are just paying over time.

For example, assume the seller has listed the home for $200,000. You make a full priced offer at $200,000, but your offer also asks the seller to pay the maximum conventional loan allowed closing costs of 3% ($6,000).

If the seller says YES, many people think you got closing costs for free. But think about it.  The seller actually netted just $194,000 in their pocket. So you could have made an offer for $194,000 and paid your own closing costs. The seller got $194,000 either way, but you rolled your closing costs into the loan, opting to pay the costs over time, versus up-front today.

Lender credits is another tool. With lender credits, the lender will increase your loans interest rate in exchange for reducing your out-of-pocket closing costs today.  You can choose a small rate increase with a small lender credit, all the way to absolutely no closing costs whatsoever with a much larger rate increase.

You may also see lender credits employed in a different way too.  For example, many lenders will scream things like ‘no lender fee’, or maybe ‘free appraisal’ if you use them. All they are doing is increasing the interest rate a bit to offset normal costs – but not telling you.

The most common one we see is no loan origination options, which will generally increase a 30-year fixed rate loan by 0.25%.

ARE LENDER CREDITS GOOD OR BAD?

Increasing your loans interest rate never sounds good, but does thing make lender credits bad? Think of them as a financing tool, and your personal situation?  Do you have the cash to pay your own closing costs? Maybe you have the money, but would rather use it to improve the home.  Lenders credits might still be a good choice.

Do you not have the money? Then it may be a matter of using lender credits, or not buying the home at all. In this case, a small amount all the way to complete no closing costs via lender credits may be your sole option.

Click here to apply online

We lend in MN, WI, and SD.  Equal housing lender. NMLS 274132

Lender credits


Get a gift for down payment.

Minneapolis, MN:  Looking to purchase a home in the near future?  The lack of down payment is a big hurdle for many people. But did you know you can get a gift for down payment? Most loan programs allow for a gift for either some, or all of your homes down payment, including FHA loans and conventional loans.
Gift for down payment

WHO CAN GIVE A GIFT?

The gift typically comes from Mom and Dad, but officially the rules say the gift must be from a relative. This is defined as any individual who is related by blood or marriage, adoption, or legal sponsorship.
Even a fiancee or domestic partner is OK. An unrelated person who shares a committed relationship with the recipient of the gift, and who currently resides in the same household as the recipient, AND intends to occupy the home with the recipient is also OK.

WHO CAN’T GIVE THE GIFT

The gifting person man NOT be, or have any affiliation with the Real Estate Agent, the seller, the builder, or any other interested party to the transaction.

DOCUMENTING THE GIFT

Your mortgage company will always need to document and prove the gift to verify it came from an allowable donor, and to paper trail the money.
At a minimum, both the gift giver and recipient will need to sign a industry standard gift letter that the Loan Officer will provide. It states that the gift is truly a gift, and will never be paid back.
From there, additional proof depends on when the gift was given, how it will be transferred, and what loan program will be used. Common additional items are a copy of the gift givers bank statement where the money came from to prove they had the money to give, proof that any personal checks cleared the bank, and proof that the money is truly now deposited into the recipients bank account.
Cash is never allowed.

THE GIFT FOR DOWN PAYMENT BOTTOM LINE

Gift for down payment has always been, and likely will continue to be a super popular way to come up with your down payment money, especially for first time home buyers.
When getting pre-approved, tell your Loan Officer you are thinking of using gift money. They will answer your questions, and go over the specific guidelines for gift money on the loan program you are planning to use.
Thanks Mom and Dad!


Get Pre-Approved Before You Start Looking

Get Pre-Approved Before You Start Looking for a home

Minneapolis, MN: People often make the mistake of starting a home search without knowing what they actually qualify for. Falling in love with a $400,000 home and finding out you qualify for $200,000 can be heartbreaking. Thinking a loan approval will be easy, only to find out you have issues, or don’t qualify for a program you think you do, is another concern.

Virtually no Realtor will show homes to clients who have not been pre-approved, and virtually no seller will accept any offer without a pre-approval letter for this very reason. Being pre-approved gives both you and the seller comfort that final approval for your loan should be fine.

Pre-approval gives you, your agent, and the sellers confidence in knowing can get a loan, and that you are shopping in the correct price range for your income and payment comfort level.

We recommend getting lender pre-approved about 100 days before you would like to move. For example 100 days before the end of your apartment lease. This give you plenty of time to correct any minor issues that may cause loan approval issues, and plenty of time to find a home without just settling because of time concerns.

Finally, understand there are two levels of pre-approval. The more common one is what is known as Loan Officer pre-approval. This is where only your Loan Officer has reviewed your application information, documents, and credit. Generally this is acceptable in the vast majority of cases, but can be problematic when new or inexperienced Loan Officers make mistakes in their assessment.

Certified Underwriter Pre-Approved from Mortgages Unlimited, Inc
Certified Underwriter Pre-Approved from Mortgages Unlimited, Inc

Mortgages Unlimited goes a step beyond, and also offers full Underwriter Pre-approvals, known as our Certified Pre-Approval. This means your application has been completely reviewed by an actual Underwriter, who has given their blessing on your credit, incomes, etc.  This only leaves us to have to finalize your application on the exact home when you find it (purchase agreement, appraisal, and title review).

Certified Pre-Approval  is significantly better than a basic pre-approval, and gives you a distinct upper hand when negotiating on your dream home – especially if you are in a multiple offer situation.

To become pre-approved for a home loan on properties in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or South Dakota, please fill out our secure online application, or call (651) 552-3681 to apply over the phone, or to schedule an in-office appointment.

Get pre-Approved for your home mortgage loan in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota
No Obligation to apply, and see what YOU qualify for.

 


New 3% down payment option for home buyers

Minneapolis, MN: We all know one of the biggest obstacles to buying a home is the lack of down payment.  Many first time home buyers have the credit, and income to handle their own home, but just can get over that down payment hurdle.

FHA Home Loans have always been a popular first-time home buyer choice, because the program only requires a 3.50% down payment.

3% down payment home ready, homepossible, homeone loan

Both Fannie Mae (HomeReady) and Freddie Mac (HomePossible) have just 3% down conventional programs. These existing programs have both income guidelines based on the properties location. You must also be a first time home buyer, which is defined as someone who has NOT owned a property in the past three-years.

Both HomeReady and HomePossible require the buyer to take first time home buyer education classes, and for doing so, you get a slightly better interest rate, and slightly cheaper monthly mortgage insurance rates. If you meet the qualifications for these programs, they are both pretty awesome deals.

But if your income is too high, or if you’ve owned a home in the last three years, you still have a low 3% down payment program offered by Fannie Mae, that has been around for a few years.

Freddie Mac has just announced their version of the 3% down payment program for everyone, which they are calling HomeOne. The program starts July 29, 2018.

Very similar to Fannie Mae’s program, the new Freddie Mac program does NOT have any income or geographic restrictions, and it is not restricted to first time home buyers. The program is only available for single family (one unit) properties.

Home ready, Home Possible, Home One loan applicationAs with all home loan programs, the new HomeOne mortgage down payment requirement is just one of many aspects used to determine loan approval, including credit scores, debt ratios, property, and overall ability to safely afford the home payment.

 

We lend on these programs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. Just complete the quick and secure online application to determine if HomeReady, HomePossible, and now HomeOne is right for you!.

 

 


How to get the best interest rates or closing costs

How to get the best interest rates or closing costs probably isn’t what you think.
Minneapolis, MN: Buying or refinancing a home? What mortgage company should you work with? What lender offers the best interest rate? Sadly, so much of what you see out there is simple advertising smoke and mirrors designed to capture your attention. 
For example, did you realize you can pretty much pick any interest rate or closing costs you want on your mortgage loan?

HOW THE BEST INTEREST RATES WORK

Want a super low interest rate? No problem.  best interest rates

In many cases, you have the option to pay more money upfront in exchange for a lower rate.  Some refer to this as “paying points,” buts that’s a bit of an archaic term.  Self-annointed gurus used to say “never pay points!” But that’s not necessarily good advice.  Discount (or “discount points”) offers a perfectly legitimate and objective choice to pay more money upfront in exchange for a lower interest rate.   Whether or not the trade-off makes sense to you is fairly subjective.  

In the more intelligent conversations, discount is discussed in terms of “breaking even” or “break even months.”  In other words, if I pay extra cash today, how long will it take for me to break even due to lower monthly payments.  Closer to 10 years?  That doesn’t make sense for most people.  5 year or less, however, and it can start to make better sense.  

All this to say that the discount points required to move down to 1/8% are fairly low for most lenders at the moment.  For instance, paying an extra .5% of the loan amount could get you another eighth of a point lower interest rate, and it would take just over 4 years to break even on that extra expense.  Of course, if you plan to sell or refinance in 3-5 years, this makes no sense. If this is the last house and mortgage you want for the foreseeable future, it’s something to consider.  

Lowest closing costs

HOW THE LOWEST CLOSING COSTS WORK

A similar conversation can be had for paying less in closing costs up-front today. You can choose to pay lower closing costs today, but understand this is simply achieved by the lender raising the interest rate you would get.  Small reduction in costs equal small rate increases, while large reduction in closing costs equal large interest rate increases.

This trade off is know as ‘Lender Credits’

So again, what is the math, and does it make sense? A common lower closing cost quote is a “No Loan Origination” quote. On most fixed-rate loans, you can eliminate loan origination costs, which is 1% of the loan amount by roughly increasing the interest rate 1/4%.

On a $200,000 loan, eliminating loan origination would save you $2,000 today, but a 1/4% higher interest rate will cost you $29 more per month on that $200,000 loan. Simple math gives you a 69 month break even period. If you are in the loan less than 69 months, you win.  Each month after 69, you pay an additional $29.

What is the math calculation on your loan amount?

But wait, even this is too simple. Do you have the money today? Do you want to keep some of that money in your pocket today to use for something else? So again,  Whether or not the trade-off makes sense to you is fairly subjective. 

Lower closing costs in exchange for higher interest rates is also a perfectly legitimate tool for home owners.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Don’t fall for advertising gimmicks. Rates way lower than everyone else, you are buying discount points, but may not know it. Anyone offering ‘no lender fees’, rebates, or any other sort of reduced closing costs are simply increasing the interest rate to pay for it.

The bottom line is simply this. A good conversation with a licensed, experienced, professional Loan Officer over your long-term, short-term, payment and equity objectives, is the only way to determine what is best interest rate for you and your situation.


First Time Home Buyer Class in MN

MN First Time Home Buyer Classes

Minneapolis / St Paul, MN: Buying your first home can be a fun exciting time. It can also be stressful, especially as there is a lot of misinformation spread from well intended friends, family, and even Real Estate Agents.

When it comes to first time home buyers, they are usually told about special programs for first time buyers, and classes you need to take. The first thing to understand, is most mortgage programs DO NOT REQUIRE a home buyer education class, UNLESS you are getting down payment assistance.

Most people don’t want to take a class unless necessary. Therefore we generally suggest you complete a full Loan Application for review to determine if you need a class. There are never any obligations to review your situation.

Free good faith estimate

The second major thing to know is that IF you DO need to take a class, you need to take the correct class. Almost ALL classes put on by a Real Estate Agent, Bank, Credit Union, or Mortgage Company are really only marketing gimmicks designed to get you introduced to those people, so you hopefully use them as your Real Estate Agent or Loan Officer. These classes DO NOT COUNT and should be avoided.

Here in Minnesota, like most other states, to obtain down payment assistance as a first time home buyer, you ARE REQUIRED to attend a Minnesota state approved 8 hour home buyer education class. This class is mandatory for programs like the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) Start Up loans, Dakota County First Time Home Buyer, City Living, and many other programs where you get assistance.  The class is also required to get reduced monthly mortgage insurance with the HomeReady conventional 3% down payment program

This class can be taken online, or in person at multiple locations across the state. There are different costs for each class ranging from as low as $25 to $75 per household. Only 1 borrower is required to attend.

Minnesota Only

The official required class is a NO PRESSURE, NO OBLIGATION class. No software, books, or anything else to buy. They will teach you about making good decisions in your future home buying experiences, and provide great information about the qualifying process, improving your credit score, and much more. There is no better way to learn about being a First Time Home Buyer in Minnesota than to attend AN APPROVED home buyer education class.

Upon completion of the class, you will received the required completion certificate that you need to give to your Loan Officer.


The DANGER of automated mortgage pre-approvals via your cell phone

The danger of automated mortgage pre-approvals via your cell phone

Minneapolis / St Paul, MN: Can you really get a mortgage pre-approval online in 10 minutes? Yes. Should you? Probably not. It’s 2018 as I write this, advancements to our lives, along with instant gratification is everywhere. Why go to the store when you get better selection and two day shipping from Amazon. No need for old fashion video stores, everything is on Netflix, Amazon Prime video, or your HBO Go app.  Twitter, Facebook, the internet, and of course Smartphones and iPads have replaced home computers for many people.

So it is no surprise that many mortgage lenders are now advertising instant 10-minute mortgage loan pre-approvals while you stand in front of the house you just looked at. The biggest company pushing these is Quicken Loans ® “Rocket Mortgage”®.

Sounds cool, and their commercials are really funny… But wait a minute… This is the largest financial transaction of your adult life. Can it really be done on your cell phone?

 The Traditional Mortgage Loan Process

The traditional process is you complete a loan application. You do that in person, over the phone, or by completing an online loan application. From there, a real live person reviews the information, pulls your credit report, talks to you about your situation, uses knowledge and expertise to explore all avenues, issues, and different loan options (all good ideas).

Assuming that all looks fine, your application is processed through one of the major AUS (automated underwriting system) of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, etc, to get your initial “looks good” answer.

ffThis automated underwriting system process only takes a few seconds, and with the initial “looks good” answer to your loan application, you got a loan, right? NO, not even close.  This is just AN INITIAL step.

Next, just because the AUS indicates ACCEPT (yes), there are still pages of information and requested items that need to be received and reviewed for accuracy BY ALL LENDERS. Common items are W2’s, pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns. Depending on your situation, you may need further items, like bankruptcy papers, divorce decrees, and more.

You generally need to gather all those documents and submit them to your lender for review to receive a proper Pre-Approval.

PRE-APPROVAL IS NOT A LOAN GUARANTEE

After you find the exact house and sign a purchase agreement, the lender orders the appraisal, title review, and everything else is sent to the underwriter for final review. Generally speaking, a proper professional pre-approval will equal a successful final approval by underwriting in the final stage of the process. A sloppy pre-approval, not properly review??? Scary stuff.

Your largest financial transaction of your life is too important to trust to just anyone, let alone a computer. You need the wisdom and input from a licensed, experienced, and professional Loan Officer.

The Quicken Rocket Mortgage ® 

The difference with their app, is that after taking the initial application information online (like thousands of other lenders), their app jumps right to running your information through the major automated underwriting system to get that initial pre-approval. Yes, that can take just 10 minutes.

Next, they attempt to gather some of your basic supporting documents electronically. Rocket Mortgage ® will ask you to link your financial accounts to their program. This allows them to check your financial statements online without you having to send them the physical copies of your banking information. Again, sounds cool, but in the day of cyber hacking, do you really want to give them access to your information electronically?

Next, a huge portion of applicants are not able to take advantage of instant document verification, and still need to submit many, if not all of their documents the traditional way – completely eliminating the cool factor.

You can also get instant rate quotes, cost quotes, and options like to buy discount points. Again, sound nifty, but…

The first major issue is simple. Garbage in equals garbage out.

I review a LOT of online mortgage applications.  Rare is it that I don’t need to change or adjust any application data before running it though the computers. Data errors, missing data, and income that isn’t allowed to be used for qualifying are all too common.

For example, I recently had a client input $50,000 a year for his wife at a job she has been at for about 9 months. But, as I interviewed him, I discovered that her new job is 100% commission based. Standard underwriting rules for commission based income require the person to have two-years on the job, and that we average the two-years of income.  Therefore her job qualifying income was ZERO.  Oops… Now you are running around with a quick pre-approval looking at houses you will never actually get final approval to buy.

Another recent applicant answer the “Do you pay alimony or child support” question online NO. But when I physically reviewed his pay stub, it clearly showed the deduction for child support. This additional debt lowered the maximum house he could buy $50,000. Again, potentially someone running around with an invalid pre-approval letter.

 The Big Disadvantage of Instant Online Approvals

For as cool as all this sounds, it has huge disadvantages.

First is not having the opportunity to talk to a human loan officer. Consumers may lose out by applying for a mortgage that isn’t necessarily the best choice for their situation. I get clients all the time who complete my online application for one loan type, but I end up switching them to something better suited for their situation. This is because most applicants usually have several mortgage options available to them. Since most consumers are not mortgage experts, this is clearly an area where a human loan officer could help steer their client in the right direction.

Your largest financial transaction of your life is too important to trust to just anyone, let alone a computer. You need the wisdom and input from a licensed, experienced, and professional Loan Officer.

They typically don’t offer first time home buyer programs, and don’t offer down payment assistance programs. This is especially troublesome, as younger first time home buyers are the ones more inclined to think apply on your phone is cool.

Do they have the best interest rates and lowest closing costs?  Generally not, and sometimes, especially on government loans, like FHA, we beat their rates by a long shot.

The Best Move When Getting Mortgage Pre-Approved?

When buying a home, your best move is to always work with a local lender the traditional way. The guy located in your geographic area, with a local reputation to protect. There is nothing anyone on the internet on the other side of the country can offer that you can’t get down the street.  More often than not, it is just the opposite… Especially when it comes to down payment assistance programs for first time buyers. These programs are always only available from the local lender.

We lend for homes in MN, WI, and SD and would love to assist you

Click to apply online


Tips for MN First Time Home Buyers

Minnesota First-Time Home Buyer Tips

Minneapolis, MN: Being a first time home buyer, and buying your first home is an exciting time. There is no reason to be worried, and here are a few tips to help guide the way.

STEP 1:

Find a lender – Get Pre Approved for a Mortgage Loan.

Unless you are paying cash, you are going to need a loan. Finding and choosing the best loan and lender to handle the loan for you should not be taken lightly. Randomly taking to whoever answers the phone at  1-800 Big Bank, or thinking you can get a mortgage in 10 minutes via your cell phone are generally huge mistakes.

Read my whole separate article on Shopping For a Lender

Once you find your Loan Officer, they will review various programs with you, go over your maximum purchase price, payment comfort level, and any other requirements.  Expect to send in a minimum of your Photo ID, last 30-days of paystubs, last two-months bank statements, last two-years W2’s, and at least your last filed Federal tax return.

With a mortgage pre-approval in hand, you can meet with the Real Estate Agent, and know exactly how much house you can afford to buy, so you are not wasting time looking at homes outside of your price range.

Step 2:

Find a Realtor.

As with picking a Loan Officer, picking a Real Estate Agent also should not be taken lightly. As a Loan Officer, my tips for selecting an agent are:

  1. Avoid big real estate ‘teams’ – you never work with the big guy.
  2. Most major real estate company charge extra fees – Pick small independents
  3. Experience matters, A LOT.

Once you’ve selected your agent, they assist you in finding your dream house, negotiating a great offer, walking you through the paperwork, and helping with things like inspections.

TIP:  Did you know that the buyers do not pay anything out-of-pocket for the working with an agent to buy a home. The cost of your agent is paid for by the seller.

 

Make a Home Wants and Needs Wish List.

Make a list of what you absolutely must have in your new home. Number of bedrooms, school district, etc., and let your Real Estate Agent know.  Then also decide on things you can be flexible on. Unless you are building a custom home, no house will be a perfect fit.

Looking At Homes.

Typically your agent will set you up on automated email listing of new homes that fit your criteria.  Especially in the under $300,000 price point, you should look at those emails daily, and if you see something you like, you need to be prepared to drop everything, and go immediately look at the house.  Waiting for the weekend or a day off, and you may have been just beaten out by someone else.

As you look at homes, you may find your wants/needs list can change.  Be sure to pass that along to your agent.

Ready to get started?

It’s easy. Simply complete the Online application.  You’ll be applying directly with me, Joe Metzler, an experienced, multiple award winning Loan officer with over 20-years in the the business. We lend in MN, WI, and SD. Learn more about me HERE.

 


Buy a MN or WI Home with $1,000 Down and Down Payment Assistance

Buy a MN or WI home with as little as $1,000 down? Yes, it is possible.

Minneapolis, MN:  One of the biggest true hurdles to home ownership is a lack of down payment money. Sadly, many people don’t even apply for a home loan, because they think you need a much bigger down payment than you actually may.

You may qualify for down payment assistance. Apply to find out.
You may qualify for down payment assistance. Apply to find out.

But, if you have at least $1,000 of your own money, OK or better credit (640 score or higher), you may be able to buy your own home using our first time home buyer programs with down payment assistance.

Other low down payment options include:

  1. 3% down payment conventional loans (HomeReady and Home Possible)
  2. 3.50% down payment FHA loans
  3. No down payment VA loans
  4. No down payment USDA Rural development loans.

If you are in MN, WI, SD, or FL – Simply complete the secure online application at www.FirstTimeHomeBuyer-MN.com in about 10 minutes time. A fully licensed and experienced Loan Officer will review your loan application, then go over the various program to see what programs you qualify for, how much house you can buy, what the payments might look like, and finally, how much cash you may, or may not need to put it all together.

If you are in other states, simply find a LOCAL mortgage broker, and apply with them.

You have nothing to lose in applying, and everything to gain in owning your own home!

—————————————–

Joe Metzler is a Senior Mortgage Loan Officer for Minnesota based Mortgages Unlimited. He was named the 2014 Minnesota Loan Officer of the Year, and Top 300 Loan Officers in the Nation for 2010, 2015, 2016.

To finance with a home with Joe and Mortgages Unlimited, your local preferred lender for Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota, simply call (651) 552-3681 or APPLY ONLINE. NMLS 274132. Equal Housing Lender. Not everyone will qualify. See web site for more details. Not an offer to enter into an interest rate lock agreement.


How to deal with collections on your credit report

Minneapolis, MN: No one likes having dings on their credit report, but let’s face it, sometimes it is impossible to avoid. When credit dings happen, it is important to work on getting back into the credit good graces, as it effect so many things in your life, from ability to get a mortgage loan, the interest rate you pay on mortgage, credit cards,  car loans, and even you paying more for your car insurance.Collection accounts

Next to basic late payments, small collection accounts are some of the most common negative item we see on credit reports. We see a lot for medical items, and old utility bills.  We see a lot over disputes with a company that never got resolved.

While some of theses collection accounts may be small, and even long forgotten, they can be real credit score killers.

The main things you need to know about collection accounts

First, is that simply paying them off doesn’t mean they go away. It still happened, and it is still on your credit report.  You can always try to leverage paying the creditor contingent on having the creditor completely remove the item from your report, and sometimes this works. I suggest everyone at least try it. But there is nothing mandating a company remove the negative item once paid.

Paying them off also doesn’t magically improve your credit score like people think. You should usually see at least a small improvement to your credit score, especially if the account being paid is a more recent collection account.

If the collection sits on your credit report for a really long time, and you now pay it off, you may temporarily LOWER your credit score because you may have turned the DLA, or Date of Last Activity to a current date.  The basic premise being that the older a negative item is, the less it hurts your score. By paying it off, the account for example went from 5-year old unpaid account (which still hurts), to a one month old paid collection, which may hurt more because it is now recent activity.

Most credit repair experts will tell you to pay off collections starting at the newest account, and working back to the oldest, and that sometimes, it is best to just leave an old account alone.

Over time, it is ALWAYS better to pay a collection account. An unpaid collection account hurts credit more and longer than a paid collection account.

Credit score factors

Finally, while some unpaid bill becoming collection may be inevitable, most collections are avoidable. Dealing with the situation up-front is best so it never becomes a collection account. I understand the frustration of a medical bill that should have been paid by insurance, and fighting with the hospital or clinic. But ignoring it doesn’t make it go away, and it will probably come back to haunt you years later.