Revisiting FHA – Increased Loan Limits for 2016

December 10, 2015

2000px-US-FederalHousingAdmin-Logo.svgYesterday, FHA announced the increase of their loan limits beginning on January 1, 2016 to $437,000 for single family residences in the following Tennessee counties: Cannon, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Hickman, Macon, Maury, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson, and Wilson.  The increase of the FHA loan limits will likely enable increased home-ownership opportunities in these 14 Tennessee counties for many reasons – some of which might be overlooked by the casual observer.

The obvious additional opportunities for those desiring to buy or refinance houses is possibly obvious.  Now home buyers wanting to buy a house up to $452,000 can do so with only a 3.5% down payment!  Buying a $452,000 anywhere in these counties with only a $15,800 down payment is an amazing option for many to consider.  This down payment can come as a gift from a family member and all of the closing costs for this purchase can be paid by the seller or the lender.  This arrangement can be a life-changing opportunity for many who have desire to live in an area where the safety, convenience or educational benefits could reap returns for many generations to come.

Happy Family

Many growing families may find the increased FHA Loan Limits in 2016 to be a lifesaver when considering their need for additional space, improved local schools or safer neighborhoods.

Others many need to refinance their homes or consolidate 1st and 2nd mortgages or other overwhelming debts and need the benefit of refinancing their home with an FHA loan up to 85% of the appraised value.  A borrower using an FHA loan to refinance their home is allowed to draw out this cash with no questions asked for paying off these high payment debt accounts or for making home improvements to their existing house.  The $11,500 increase in the FHA loan limit on January 1 might give those in need the extra breathing room to cause this new refinance loan to make sense for them to accomplish these financial goals to set them up for success for decades to come.

And finally, what many may not be aware of, the uniqueness of FHA underwriting guidelines may allow many who desire to buy or refinance to move forward with their new loan for any of these reasons:

  1. FHA allows for a “non-occupying, co-borrower” to be added to the loan where those who are planning to live in the house might not qualify on their own merits.  Lenders can add a parent, sibling, child, grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin to the loan application and include their income, assets and credit profile to strengthen the quality of the loan to increase the possibility of loan approval.
  2. FHA allows for financing of mixed-use properties with residential interest rates and guidelines.  This would give a buyer the opportunity to purchase a property designed for use as a business AND a residence to purchase the entire property using FHA qualifying guidelines and still use part of the house for business use.
  3. FHA allows for property owners and home buyers to buy or refinance their homes setting aside additional money for repairs, upgrades, remodeling and rebuilding of the house – all in one loan.  This renovation loan called the FHA 203K is an amazing loan which enables home buyers to buy a distressed house and make it a dream house with all of the features that the new home buyer needs to make this home an investment they will enjoy for decades to come and to improve the entire neighborhood.

FHA loan increases on January 1, 2016 may seem like something that only mortgage geeks like this author might get excited about when really other industry partners and home owners and future home buyers should also welcome as we ring in the New Year!

(Please contact this author for additional details about any of the uses of the FHA Mortgage and how it might be of help to you or those you know.)

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HUD Proposes Lowering FHA Loan Limits in Middle Tennessee

May 31, 2011

Last Thursday, just before the long Memorial Day weekend marking the beginning of the 2011 summer, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a 23 page proposal outlining loan limit decreases in 669 US counties – 13 of them in Tennessee and all of these located in middle Tennessee. 

Unless Congress prohibits these proposals, beginning October 1, 2011, each of these 13 counties, including Cannon, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Hickman, Macon, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson, Wilson, will see their maximum FHA loan limit decrease $39,200 to a new lower maximum FHA loan limit of $393,300. 

Counties Affected by Possible Decrease in FHA Loan Limits for Loans

The current FHA maximum loan limit in these 13 counties was set at $432,500 in 2008 as a part of the Housing and Economic and Recovery Act during the waning days of the Bush administration in an attempt to stabilize the fragile housing and credit industries. 

This 9% decrease in FHA maximum loan limits in middle Tennessee will affect less than .5% of all of the FHA loans being originated in these middle Tennessee counties.  HUD decision to lower these maximum loan limits is an attempt to ward off the Republican critics in the US House of Representatives who are proposing changes to the FHA mortgage insurance program to limit the expansion of the risk of taxpayer supported programs in hope that private players and investors will re-enter the mortgage industry to replace what the Federal Government discontinues subsidizing.

Last year 32,126 FHA loans were closed in these 13 middle Tennessee counties and the new decrease in loan limits would have affected 138 of those transactions.  The argument could be made that Tennesseans borrowing more than $393,300 to buy or refinance a house would have been able to use other loan programs or that other non-government programs would be developed if FHA would move out of this particular high-end market.  Statistically, these higher-end mortgages have preformed much better than the lower-end mortgages but HUD would argue that these loans are not part of their stated mission to target “lower and middle-income borrowers” when they are using taxpayer money to operate a program insuring home mortgages at more than 150% higher than the Area Median House Price.

What is the expected outcome of such a move if Congress does not block these proposals for home buyers in Tennessee? 

Minimal.  Most first-time home buyers or home buyers with a scarred credit profile are not buying homes $400,000+ homes with only a 3.5% down payment as currently required by HUD for FHA insured loans. 

The initial potential panic caused by news reports of such proposals may cause a handful of buyers to get off the fence to get approved for their high-end FHA insured mortgage in order to beat the October 1, 2011 deadline but because so few Tennesseans will be affected by this proposal, only 138 in 2010, the Tennessee Congressional Delegation would likely not support any legislation thwarting efforts by HUD to continue to solidify the government supported mortgage insurance program – especially if these changes will affect only a few wealthy Tennessee home buyers.


Just the Facts, Ma’am, Just the Facts!

May 19, 2011

 

Sgt. Joe Friday (Jack Webb) from 50's & 60's hit TV show Dragnet

Buying a home has always been a big decision. But for some people today it’s a difficult decision because of all the conflicting information coming from the media. To make matters worse, that information is often outdated…or even inaccurate.

If you know anyone who is thinking of purchasing a home this year, please share the following information with them:

FACT 1. Mortgage options are still plentiful for borrowers with good credit scores and documented income. All assets & income will need to be fully documented in most all cases for the past 2 years.

FACT 2. There are still programs available, like FHA, that allow as little as 3.5% down payment, and many others that allow less than 20% down.  VA Loans still allow an eligible Veteran to buy a house up to $417,000 with $0 down payment!

FACT 3. Jumbo mortgages are still available on loan amounts even in excess of $2 million dollars.

FACT 4. Vacation/second home financing can be obtained with as little as 25% down, even with jumbo mortgages.

FACT 5. There are FHA Renovation (203k) Mortgages available which can be used to update or repair an existing home. Small projects (under $35,000) can usually be done in such a way where the homeowner or buyer can use up to one-half of this money upfront to purchase materials and then pay the contractor once the project is completed. 

FACT 6. Senior citizens can use their current equity in their home and actually relocate and buy a house and have NO MONTHLY PAYMENT on their new home for the REST OF THEIR LIVES.  The FHA Reverse (Home Equity Conversion) Mortgage can be used by those 62 years of age or older to refinance their currnet home or buy their idea retirement home.

FACT 7. As of today, rates on most mortgages are still at historically low levels when compared to the last 30 years.  Every indication is that rates will likely begin to increase before the end of 2011 – so delay if low interest rates are desired.

FACT 8. Most homes are selling at a big discount relative to 5 years ago.

Make sure your friends and family know the facts! Owning the home of their dreams may not be as hard as they think. Send your friends and family this link and let them know I would be happy to meet with them and help them determine what options are available in their personal situation.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage BEFORE speaking to a Realtor could help make them a much stronger buyer in the eyes of a seller.

If there’s anyway I can lend a hand, I’ll be happy to do so. Thanks for your help and continued support, and if you have any questions about your own situation call or email me anytime!


The “New” Rules of Rapid Refinancing

May 23, 2009

By Brian Short, CMC, CRMS, GMA

Many of us who have “survived” in the mortgage business are very busy these days with folks who desire to refinance their homes.  With rates in the range from low 5% to high 4%  for a 30 year fixed for many borrowers, this is an ideal time to consider refinancing to lock in an historically low long-term interest rate on your house.  Maze

However, the rules have changed for many borrowers.  The days of no documentation, high loan-to-value, cash-out, debt consolidation mortgages have come to an end. 

Does that mean it is impossible to accomplish any of these goals in a relatively painless refinance process – absolutely not!  Just take heed of the new “Rules for Rapid Refinancing”:

1.  Get your documentation organized and copied for your mortgage professional.   Employed workers and self-employed business owners will all need to prove their income and their assets to qualify for a new low interest loan.  I remind my customers that they should keep the following documents for the following length of time – just to be safe.

     a. Pay Stubs – Keep these all year until you receive your W-2 and have completed your tax return for the year.

     b. Bank Statements – Keep these 5 years.  The IRS can audit you for the past 5 years.  It your responsibility to prove your case if you would be audited.

     c. Tax Returns and W-2’s – Keep these until you die.  Let your kids throw these away for you and be amazed at how little (or how much!) you made when they were kids.  You never know when you will be asked to document income, deductions, businesses, rental houses, etc.  File a copy away in a cabinet (and scan a copy to your hard-drive in case you need to e-mail a copy for your kid’s college financial aid application, etc.) each year.

2.  You will not be able to pull cash out of your house for more than 85% of appraised value.  If you owe more than 85% of your current appraised value then you will not be able to get any cash to consolidate debt, pay off other obligations or even make improvements to your house.  Trying to get cash out of your rental house will be nearly impossible unless you owe very little on the rental house.  Getting cash out of Real Estate is not something Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (or FHA or VA) are too interested in doing in this economy.

Does this mean that you can’t refinance your house?  Absolutely not!  You can still lock in a lower rate, shorter term (go from a 30 yr to a 15 yr), longer term (go from a 15 yr to a 30 yr), switch from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate, or combine your 1st and 2nd mortgages into one mortgage payment with a lower payment or a payment which includes principle reduction.

3.  Use this time to focus on getting out of debt and limiting your purchases of “things” to those items you can pay for with cash.  Running up credit card debt and buying vehicles (cars, boats, motorcycles, RV’s, etc), furniture, appliances or TV’s with credit is generally not the way to get or keep your finances under control. 

4. Pay cash.  Use cash.  Save some cash.  Keep some financial margin in your life buy having some cash in the bank to carry for 3-6 months in case your job, your health, your spouse – fail to meet your expectations.  Having a good payment history on your current obligations will get you in the door if you need or want to refinance your house.

5. Anticipate the future – as much as possible.  One of my Dad’s famous sayings is: “No one will loan money to a poor man!”  Once you lose your job, get sick or hurt or get behind on your payments, you’re stuck.  Especially in this current market – the squeaky clean borrowers are getting good loans.  Don’t wait to lock in on historically low fixed interest rates if you don’t have one and could qualify.  Waiting might put you into one of those categories of people who can’t qualify for one.

Is this a great market for quick and painless refinancing – absolutely!  However, there are some new rules.  Some of you are saying, “these are not NEW rules!”   “These are the rules we all used to live by.”  I agree that these rules may be new to this current generation of borrowers but are really time-tested rules for ensuring financial success – even when much seems to be crashing in on those all around us.  Whether these rules are new or old stand-bys they are in place for now.  Knowing them and playing by them will make you a winner – even in this economy!  Now, let’s play!


A Formula for Recovery – Including Investors

December 1, 2008

By Brian Short, CMC, CRMS, GMA

California HomesIt was announced at the end of last week that the National Association of Realtors was asking the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to re-open the FHA 203(K) loan program to investors as a part of the formula for helping reverse the continued downward spiral of the US housing market. 

The FHA 203(K) loan is a government insured rehabilitation loan I have used to help home owners, either buy and rehab a home they plan to live in or to rehab the home they current live in.  Either way, it works much like a construction loan with up to 5 draws for major projects to improve the condition of a distressed or out-dated property.

The borrower would be required to qualify for the final loan amount including the costs of the buffalo-vacant-housesimprovements and the money is only released after the work is completed and inspected to meet whatever codes or requirements necessary.  The borrower is required to front the money for the repairs or use a contractor who will agree to be paid in stages as work progresses.

Improvements can be made from a long list of “qualified improvements” including updating kitchens, bathrooms, HVAC, electrical or plumbing systems, roof, windows, flooring, siding and even adding square footage by adding a master bedroom or bathroom.

One of the beauties of this loan is that the current mortgage must be rolled into the final loan so the borrower is left with only one final “all-inclusive” mortgage at a great FHA fixed rate. 

Names BreesHowever, in the late 90’s there were investors who were involved with some fraudulent deals with builders, appraisers and title companies who abused this program and HUD cut off all non-owner-occupants from using the FHA 203(K) loan.  This decision shut down a lot of investor rehab activity until the sub-prime market began to pick it back up about 5-6 years ago.  Two years ago, most of the non-owner-occupant rehab activity came to a crashing halt, once again, as the sub-prime programs evaporated and now, some neighborhoods are riddled with empty homes which have been vacant for several months and are in need of repair or normal improvements to ever get them sold.

Over the past 2 years appraisal standards have increased, property values have decreased and vacancy rates have increased.  All of this leads to the need of investors to be enticed back into the market with favorable loan programs to reward their willingness to take on part of the risk of getting the housing market back out of the ditch.

NAR has called for a three year window for investors to be allowed back into the FHA 203(K) loan sold_houseprograms.  I would echo their call but not put a 2 or 3 year limit in place at this point.  Let’s take this one year at a time and call for Congress to immediately allow the non-owner occupant to qualify for the FHA 203(K) loan without further penalty and renew this provision again for another year at the end of 2009, 2010 and 2011 if necessary until we see normal numbers come back for the housing market.  This plan is much better than a government bail-out plan and rewards those who are willing to take on risk with the rewards of profit to be made on investor houses they have repaired and updated to get off the market.


Preparing for Home Ownership: A ‘Do-List’ for a Soon-To-Graduate College Student – Part 2

November 24, 2008

By Brian Short, CMC, CRMS, GMA 

What else can you do to help you prepare for home ownership in the next 12 or 24 months?  Work on these things:

1. Pay your bills on time.  Utilities, cell phone, car insurance, student loans or other debt your are paying off quickly – make you payments on time and in full.  Put them on an auto pay through your bank if you have your paycheck on an auto deposit.  It all goes in and out every month – on time and in full – even if you are out of town, covered up at work or just distracted for some reason.

balance-checkbook2. Keep your check book reconciled and up-to-date.  This may seem unnecessary in the age of “online banking” but even the “best of us” forget to enter a debit card payment once in a while and it comes back to bite us where it hurts.  Overdraft charges of $35-50 each will add up quickly and cause a blemish on your banking history when applying for a new mortgage in the months to come.  Mortgage underwriters like to see very clean banking history and prefer to loan to those who demonstrate the ability to manage their money – no matter how much or how little they make.

3. Save some money for a down-payment and for your closing costs.  Depending on the loan program you desire, you will need to save 3%, 5% or 20% of the sales price of the home you desire to buy.  Any loan for which you qualify for more than 80% of the sales price will require a monthly mortgage insurance premium which will cost you $50-$250 per month depending on the size of the loan in addition to your monthly property taxes and home owners insurance payments. 

FHA loans will let you buy a house with only a 3% down payment but you will have an up-front and monthly mortgage insurance premium figured into this loan.  If you bring a 20% down payment, you will avoid this mortgage insurance premium.  In addition, your closing costs and pre-paids will average about 3% of the sales price with most loan programs.  Therefore, if you desire to buy a $150,000 house in 2 years and you want to use an FHA loan you should need $4,500 for your down payment and about $4,500 for your closing costs or a total of $9,000 to close the sale.  That should give you a good goal to shoot for!

3. Keep your paperwork in order.  You need to keep the following financial records.  If you don’t have filecabinetthem, start keeping them – THIS WEEK!

   a. Pay stubs – Keep in order for 1 year until you successfully file your tax return for that year.

   b. Sales Receipts and Debit Card transaction receipts– Keep in an envelope or file folder for each month for the year until you have filed your tax return for that year.  You may decide to keep them for as long a five years for warranty purposes for items you have purchased.

   c. Bank Statements (Print off hard copies every month) – Keep in file folders in order for 5 years.  The IRS can audit you for any year for the past 5 years. 

   d. W-2’s and Tax Returns– Keep until you die.  (Let your kids or grand kids throw these away.)  Do not throw away you tax returns – always keep a copy of the exact return you filed with the IRS.  I keep an electronic (pdf) copy and a hard copy.

   e. Insurance documents – Keep your most recent copy of your health insurance, auto insurance and renter’s insurance in their own file folder in your file cabinet for easy reference.

 glove-box1  f. Auto service receipts– Keep all of you oil change, tire purchase and auto repair receipts in the glove box of your car along with your insurance card and annual registration if there is room.  It your glove box becomes too full, start a separate file for this information.  You will need this information for warranty purposes and for documenting the service on your car if you ever sell it someone who wants to know how well you have taken care of it. 

These simple habits, developed early in your adult life, will help you be a stellar mortgage applicant and allow you to qualify very soon for the best possible mortgage loan programs available.