Lee H. Schaffer, CMPS, CMHS

Senior Loan Officer NMLS#: 228814

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Phone: 973-200-3233
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Homes with a mortgage gained an average of $26,300 in equity during the last three months of 2020 versus a year earlier. The average gain is the highest since 2013, and the surge in homeowner’s equity creates a buffer against financial hardship for many borrowers. As a result, many homeowners have opted to put some of the gains to use, giving a boost to the economy.  What is Home Equity?  Home equity is the portion of your home that you’ve paid off. It’s the difference between what your home is worth and the amount that’s still owed on your mortgage. Equity amounts fluctuate over time as mortgage payments are made and the market impacts the value of your property.  For many borrowers, equity from homeownership is an important way to build personal wealth over time. As you pay down the principal mortgage and your home’s value increases over the long-term, your equity grows.  Listed below are six popular ways to tap into your home equity:  1.    Consolidate Debt A very popular use of home equity is to consolidate debt at a much lower rate, and over a longer term. Borrowers can reduce their monthly expenses significantly by using the money from a cash-out refinance to pay off high-interest credit cards.  If you have a solid debt payoff plan, using your home equity can help you get out of debt faster at a substantially lower interest rate.  2.    Home Improvements and Renovations Home improvements are one of the most common reasons homeowners take out home equity loans. Upgrades could raise your home’s value and draw more interest from ...

Getting a Full Credit Approval can save you the frustration of getting your offers rejected in today’s competitive housing market. A Full Credit Approval goes beyond  mortgage pre-qualifications and pre-approvals, as a Full Credit Approval involves a complete review of your income, assets, and credit by an experienced Underwriter. What is Home Buyer’s Edge?  Home Buyer’s Edge is the full credit approval program that gives buyers the opportunity to have every aspect of their credit profile verified by a mortgage loan underwriter. In the mortgage process, the underwriter is the final decision-maker for approval or denial, which is what gives credit approvals a clear advantage over mortgage pre-qualifications and pre-approvals.  Buyers have a few options when it comes to tackling the home-buying process. Below is an outline of each of those options, including their differences and how they can benefit you in today’s competitive market:  Level 1: Pre-Qualification  A pre-qualification consists of verbally informing your loan officer of your income, savings, and assets. Your loan officer will also run your credit. Level 2: Pre-Approval A pre-approval consists of providing your loan officer with your pay stubs, bank statements, W2’s, and running your credit.  Level 3: Credit Approval with Home Buyer’s Edge A credit approval requires the same documentation as a pre-approval; however, an experienced underwriter will review your financial situation instead of your loan officer. As a result, the full credit approval is a complete, upfront vetting of your finances by ...

According to this report from ClosingCorp, more than 50% of homebuyers are surprised by their closing costs. Closing costs, or the one-time fees that are paid at the end of a real estate transaction, can add up to 2-5% of the total loan amount. And while the following information and figures can vary from state to state, it’s important to be aware of additional expenses that come with buying a new home. Lender and Third Party Fees  Lender and broker fees come from mortgage lenders. These fees cover credit reports, applications, loan originations, and broker fees. While these fees can vary from lender to lender, by law, they cannot exceed 3% of the total loan amount.  Third party fees are charged on nearly all loans. These include well-known costs such as property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, title transfer fees, and more. Lenders are required to disclose all third-party fees, and many will include those third-party costs in their estimations and prequalification calculators.  However, if you are looking to anticipate the additional costs, here are some common lender and third party fees to be aware of: Application Fee … $925-1,500 Appraisal Fee … $400-1,000 Appraisal Reinspection Fee (Typically for Older Homes) … $175 Credit Report Fee … $50-100 Flood Certification Fee … ~$11 Tax Service Fee … ~$78  Legal, Title, and Government Fees  Additionally, your lender will outline potential attorney fees, determine if a survey fee is required, and amount of taxes due to municipality or seller as you prepare to purchase a property.  ...

When thinking about selling, homeowners often feel they need to get their house ready with some remodeling to make it more appealing to buyers. However, with so many buyers  competing for available homes right now, renovations may not be as vital as they would be in a more normal market. Here are two things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of selling this season. 1. There aren’t enough homes for sale right now. A normal market has a 6-month supply of houses for sale, but today’s housing inventory sits far below that benchmark. According to the National Association of Realtors  (NAR), there’s only a 1.9-month  supply of homes available today. As a result, buyer competition is high and homes are only on the market for about 21 days , during which time many receive multiple offers from hopeful buyers. In a competitive market that’s moving so quickly, it makes sense to sell your house when buyers are scooping homes up as fast as they’re being listed. Spending costly time and money on renovations before you sell might just mean you’ll miss your key window of opportunity. While certain repairs on your house may be important, your best move right now is to work with a real estate advisor to determine which improvements are truly necessary, and which ones are not likely to be deal-breakers for buyers. Today, many buyers are more willing to take on home improvement projects themselves in order to get the home they’re after, even if it means putting in a little extra work. Home Advisor  explains: “When it comes to the number of home improvement projects ...

The term self-employed includes those that own 25% or more of any business entity, corporation, LLC, etc., even if you are a W2 employee of your corporation. In addition, if you receive your income on Form 1099 and report your income on Schedule C, which includes independent contractors, realtors, insurance professionals, etc., you would be deemed self-employed. Effective December 14, 2020, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac updated their guidelines for self-employed individuals as seen on the Fannie Mae Bulletin 2020-03 .  1. Tax Return Requirements Self-employed borrowers must supply the following in regards to their tax returns: Two years of most recent federal tax returns (Form 1040) Two years of most recent W2 forms Two years of most recent business federal tax returns if you own 25% or more of an entity, along with corresponding K1s 2. Profit and Loss Statements Self-employed borrowers will also need to provide a 2020 profit and loss statement, assuming the borrower’s 2020 personal and business tax returns have not been filed. It’s important to note that a year-to-date profit and loss statement (P&L) may also be required for 2021.  The ending period of your P&L must be dated within 60 days prior to the note date. For example, a December 31, 2020 P&L loan must close by the end of February. As the year progresses, P&Ls for portions of 2021 will be required.  The P&L can be prepared by the borrower or a financial professional but must be signed and dated by the borrower. 3. Business Bank Statements The latest change that came from the recent Fannie Mae update is ...

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