Tuesday, March 31, 2020

What Buyers Can Do While Staying at Home



While you're isolating at home, there are things you can do to help buy a home now or in the near future.  Instead of spending time surfing the Internet looking at homes, do the groundwork necessary to be able to purchase the home that you find.

  • There is a lot of documentation necessary to qualify for a mortgage and to be approved.  This part of the homebuying process can be done in advance, long before you even start looking at homes much less finding the one that you want.
    • Assemble all documents to make a pre-approval
    • Photo ID
    • Two months current pay stubs
    • Last two years' W2s
    • Complete copies of checking and savings statements for last three months
    • Copies of statements for IRAs, 401k, savings, CDs, money market funds, etc.
    • Employment history for last two years with addresses and contacts
    • Proof of commissioned or bonus income
    • Residency history for last two years with addresses and contacts
    • Assets for down payment, closing costs, and reserves; must provide paper trail
    • If self-employed, last two years tax returns, current profit and loss statement and balance sheet; copy of partnership/corporate tax returns for last two years if owning more than 25% of company
    • FHA requires driver's license and social security card
    • VA requires original certificate of eligibility and DD214
    • Other things may be required such as previous bankruptcy, divorce decree
  • Get pre-approved giving you the confidence
    • Determining the amount you can borrow - decreases as interest rates rise
    • Looking at "Right" homes - price, size, amenities, location
    • Finding the best loan - rate, term, type
    • Uncovering issues early - time to cure possible problems
    • Creating bargaining power - price, terms, & timing
    • Being able to close quicker - verifications have been made
  • If using a gift as a down payment, construct your gift letter
    • The donor's relationship to borrower
    • State the dollar amount is a gift and not a loan
    • State that no repayment is required
    • Signed and dated by the donor and borrower
    • Include all contact information
  • Build your homebuying team
    • REALTOR® - this person will coordinate the efforts of the other team members to make the transaction move smoothly, without unnecessary delays to close on time.
    • Lender* ... consider a trusted professional you can meet with face-to-face
    • Title company* ... guaranteeing the title and closing on time is important
    • Inspector* ... more than a flashlight and a clipboard

*Your agent can recommend these professionals based on their experience and having worked with them in the purchase and sales of other homes.  This can keep you from getting hooked-up with someone that may not be familiar with the type of home, area, or loans that you might be considering.

Additional information about the buying process and things that you can be doing while you're waiting to look at homes can be found in the Buyers Guide.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Showing Procedures During Covid-19


During these unsettling times, sellers and buyers are concerned about staying healthy and virus-free as we all are.  To keep all parties safe, new procedures should be considered regarding the procedure for showing houses.

Agents are reporting that they are selling homes where the buyers have not physically been in the home and base their decision on the virtual tour found online.  Many states, including Michigan, have suspended showings because they are not considered essential services.
In the spirit of stepping up to do what is necessary, the following suggestions should be considered:
  • Buyers should view the pictures online first to see if the home meets their needs.  Most listing agents upload enough pictures to get a good idea of what a home looks like.
  • Buyers should ask their agent questions that the photos don't address.  Then, their agent can go through the listing agent to ask the seller directly.
  • It may be possible for the agent or owner to do a Facetime walk-through which would allow the buyers to ask questions and direct the agent or owner where to point the camera.
  • When the 'stay at home' order is lifted, buyers can make an appointment to see the home through their agent.  They should meet the agent at the home in their own car.  No children should attend showings.
  • Recommended safe distances will be maintained between the owners and listing agent, if present, the buyers and their agent.
  • All precautions should be taken.  Buyers should carry their own sanitizing wipes and or gloves and avoid unnecessarily touching surfaces.  Allow their agent to open doors and cabinets.
  • They should be disposed of in a trash bag in their car after they exit the home.
The social distancing and isolation could present some buying opportunities due to a lack of competition.  At the same time, the lack of inventory in many markets could keep prices high.  Overall, home prices nationwide are stable and, in many cases, continuing to rise which makes it a far less volatile alternative to investing in the stock market.   
With mortgage rates being at historic lows, there will probably never be a cheaper time to finance a home. 
Thank you again for looking at our listings and let us know if we can help you in anyway.
Please stay safe; wash your hands; practice social distancing and follow all the guidelines necessary to promote good health. We're all in this together!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Why have a mortgage during retirement?



You don't have to watch TV for long before Tom Selleck, Henry Winkler or Robert Wagner will tell you why seniors should consider a reverse mortgage.  However, there are seniors who are resisting the conventional wisdom of having their home paid for and opting for a mortgage with payments on their home.

In some cases, seniors will downsize into a smaller home and have a large amount of equity to pay cash for the new home.  In other situations, they may have their home paid for and decide to do a cash-out refinance which will require making payments.

The logic behind either of these examples could be motivated by the fact that since mortgage rates are so low currently, the owners can reinvest the money at a higher yield and make money on their equity.  This will give them more money for their retirement income.

A common question that is asked by owners considering such a strategy is whether they'll be able to qualify for the new mortgage since they may no longer be employed.  The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits discrimination against borrowers based on age.

All borrowers, whether they are working or not, need to show that they have good credit, reasonable debt and enough stable income to repay the mortgage.  Lenders cannot base their decision on loan term based on an applicant's life expectancy, so a 30-year loan is possible regardless of the borrower's age.

Fannie Mae, one of the largest purchaser of mortgages on the secondary market, is concerned on income that is stable, predictable and likely to continue.  Retirees' income can come from Social Security, pensions, or distributions from retirement accounts like IRAs, 401(k)s, Keogh or other plans.  Lenders will analyze these sources to estimate how long it will last. 

Other investments can be considered like stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities.  Based on the type and the volatility of the investment, lenders may be restricted from considering 100% of the income.

Getting the facts as it pertains to you as an individual is important to be able to know if you are eligible and how much you can borrow.  A trusted mortgage professional who understands this type of borrower is very important to help you determine the right mortgage vehicle and provide information to decide if this option is right for you.  Call me at (616) 402-3535 if you would like a recommendation.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Shopping for a Mortgage



A lower rate will not only result in a lower payment, it will amortize the loan quicker.  A $250,000 mortgage at 4.5% for 30 years will have a $1,266.71 principal and interest payment.  At 4%, the same loan will have $1,193.54 payment saving $73.18 a month and the unpaid balance would be $1,776 lower at the end of five years.

Mortgage lenders tend to price their mortgages based on the credit score of the borrower.  The higher the credit score, the lower the mortgage rate.  There is an inverse relationship that the lower the credit score, the higher risk and therefore, a higher rate is needed to balance the risk.

In order to get a valid rate that will be available to you with your credit score, you need to be pre-approved. The process of making a loan application before you find a home, allows the lender to verify your credit, income, and ability to repay the loan.  Lenders usually only charge the cost of the credit report for this type of service.  Be aware that pre-approval is not the same thing as pre-qualification which is simply a loan officer's opinion.

When you shop for a mortgage with multiple lenders, the credit bureaus count them as a single credit inquiry if they are done within a two-week period. On the other hand, restrain yourself from applying for other credit such as cars, furniture or credit cards until after you have closed on the purchase of your home because those inquiries can negatively affect your credit score.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends that you let lenders know that you are shopping the mortgage for the best rate and fees.

Instead of going to the Internet and Googling mortgage lenders, start with recommendations for a lender from your real estate professional.  They see the good, the bad and the ugly and can save you a lot of time.  Another reliable source would be from a friend who has recently purchased a home.

There are lenders who bait unsuspecting borrowers with lower rates and fees into making an application and after critical time has lapsed, try to switch them to a different program.  By that point, many buyers feel they don't have any choice but to accept what is offered.

Another confusing factor is the way that loans are priced to the public.  They are usually quoted at a rate with a certain amount of points.  A point is one percent of the amount borrowed.  An example would be a quote for a loan at 4.5% with 1 point or at 4% with 2.5 points.

The points combined with the rate affect the yield the lender will earn, and you will pay.  A simple way to make this an apple to apple comparison is to have the lender quote the loan as a "par-value" loan with no points involved.  Then, the lowest rate will produce the lowest cost to you.

Another way to compare loans will be to uses a financial app called Will Points Make a Difference.  You can plug in the rate and points to calculate the lowest yield over a projected holding period or the full term.

The lenders do not want to make it easy for you to compare.  Mortgage money is a commodity and shopping will be worth the effort. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Get Ready to Garage Sale



A well-planned garage or yard sale can give you extra space in your home, get rid of unused items and make some money but it needs some of the same considerations that any business needs to be successful. 

  • Start early to research and plan
  • Promotion is key
  • Display items attractively
  • Price items right
  • Organize checkout

Determine the date of your sale, remembering that there are exceptions, but Saturdays are generally the best day.  Experienced garage-salers believe that a well-planned one-day event will do as well as a multi-day event.  Serious purchasers will look for the "new" sale and most people don't come back multiple days.

Recognize that the first day of the sale will have the most people.  Everyone will be looking for a bargain but some of them actually want to purchase things for them to resell at their own sales.

Advertise in local newspapers and free online classified sites like Craigslist.  If several families are going together for the sale, mention that in the ad; it will be a big draw.  Mention your bigger-ticket items like furniture, equipment and baby items.

Garage sale signs can be purchased or you could have them made at Office Depot or FedEx Office.  Signs need large lettering so they're easy to read without too many words on them.  Remember that people will be driving when they see them.  Most important info: Garage or Yard Sale, address, date and time.  Directional signs are also important along with balloons and streamers to attract attention.

Consider using the service Square so that you can take credit cards.  The cost is 2.6% + 10¢ per swipe and you can do it on your smartphone or iPad.  You'll need to sign up at least two weeks in advance to receive your reader.

You will be amazed at what sells and what doesn't.  If your goal is to get rid of some things regardless, put those items in the sale and at the end of the sale, donate what you can to Goodwill and the balance goes to the dump.  If you can't bear to do that, box them up and try again next year or possibly, at one of your neighbors' sales.

Other supplies you'll need will be:

  • Labels and markers for pricing items.
  • Newspaper and clean, grocery bags to wrap breakables.
  • Tables to display the items.

Unless you're having an estate sale, keep your home locked.  You don't want people wandering through your home while you're outside.  If you start to accumulate a lot of money, take some of it inside.  Don't discuss how much money you've made during the sale or how successful it has been.

People will want to bargain; it's the nature of the game.  Consider this strategy: less negotiations early in the sale and possibly, more toward the end of the sale.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

What kind of properties are these?



It is the way the property is used that determines the type of property it is, not what it looks like.  Based on the intent of the owner, the property could be a principal residence, income property, investment property or dealer property.

A principal residence is a home that a person lives in.  There can be only one declared principal residence.  It is afforded certain benefits like deducting the interest and property taxes on a taxpayers' itemized deductions, up to limits.  Up to $250,000 of gain for a single taxpayer and up to $500,000 for a married couple filing jointly can be excluded from income if the property is owned and used as a principal residence for two out of the previous five years.

An income property is an improved property that is rented for more than 12 months.  The improvements can be depreciated based on a 27.5-year life for residential property or 39-years for commercial property.  This is a non-cash deduction that shelters income.  When the property is sold, the cost recovery is recaptured at a 25% tax rate.

An investment property could be an improved property or vacant land that does not produce income and is not eligible for depreciation or cost recovery.  The gain on both income and investment properties are taxed at a lower, long-term capital gain rate and are eligible for a tax deferred exchange.

Second homes are properties that a taxpayer primarily uses for personal enjoyment but is not their principal residence.  For IRS purposes, it is treated as an investment property in that the gain is taxed at preferential long-term rates if it is held for more than 12 months.   However, it is not eligible for exchanges because personal use properties are excluded from that benefit.

Properties that are built or bought to make a profit are considered inventory and are labeled dealer properties.  The gain is taxed at ordinary income rates and they are not eligible for section 1031 deferred exchanges.

The financing available differs considerably based on the intent of the owner which determines the type of property.  Owner-occupied homes, used as a principal residence, are eligible for low down payment mortgages like VA, FHA, USDA and conventional ranging from nothing down to 20%.

A second home, in most cases, requires a minimum of 10% down payment.  Investment and Income properties, generally, require 20% or more in down payment with some possible exceptions.  There is not any long-term financing available for dealer property.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Why Put More Down



The least amount in a down payment is an attractive option when people are thinking of buying a home.  A common reason is to have cash available for furnishing the new home and  possible unexpected expenses.

Some people don't have any options because they only have enough for a minimum down payment and the closing costs.  For those fortunate buyers who do have extra money available, let's look at why you'd want to do such a thing.

Most loans in excess of 80% loan to value require mortgage insurance to protect the lenders for the upper portion of the loan if the home were to go into foreclosure.  FHA requires an up-front premium of 1.75% of the amount borrowed plus a monthly amount of .85% on the balance.  FHA mortgage insurance premium must be paid for the life of the loan.

Mortgage insurance on conventional loans varies depending on the borrowers' credit and the amount of down payment being made.  Unlike FHA, when the unpaid balance reaches 78% of the original amount borrowed, the mortgage insurance is no longer needed.  If the home enjoys rapid appreciation, after a period, the lender may allow the borrower to get an appraisal to show that the unpaid balance is now less that 78% of the current appraised value.

The premium for mortgage insurance on conventional loans can be paid as a single premium upfront in cash or financed into the mortgage.  A second option would be monthly mortgage insurance included in the payment until it is no longer needed.  A third option could be lender-paid MI where the cost is included in the mortgage interest rate for the life of the loan.

VA loans do not require mortgage insurance but there is a one-time funding fee of 2.3% that can be paid in cash at closing or added to the amount borrowed.  Disabled veterans and Purple Heart recipients are not required to pay the funding fee.

Putting at least 20% down payment on a home not only will avoid the mortgage insurance, it could also help you to get a little lower interest rate.  Since the loan to value is lower, there is less risk for the lender.

A $350,000 with a 10% down payment at 4% interest could have a monthly mortgage insurance cost between $70 to $130.  A trusted mortgage professional can help you assess the options you have available.  It is always better to make some of these decisions before you start shopping for a home.

This is another reason it is good to start by getting pre-approved with a trusted mortgage professional.  If you need a recommendation, call me at  (616) 402-3535.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Financing Home Improvements



Home improvement loans provide a source of funds for owners to finance the improvements they want to make.  These are usually, personal installment loans that are not collateralized by the home itself.  Since there is more risk for the lender with this type of loan, the interest rate is higher than a normal mortgage loan.

In today's market, the rates on home improvement loans could vary between 6% and 36%.  A borrower's credit score will determine the interest rate; the lower the score, the higher the rate and the higher the score, the lower the rate.

Smaller loan amounts are under $40,000 with larger loan amounts over $40,000 based on the extent of the improvements to be made.  With all things being equal, a larger loan may have a lower interest rate.

Besides the interest rate being higher than a regular mortgage, the term is shorter.  Similar to a car loan, the term can be between five and seven years.  A $50,000 home improvement loan for a borrower, with good but not great credit, could have a 12% interest rate for seven years.  That would make the monthly payment $882.64.

An alternative way to fund the improvements would be to do a cash out refinance.  These types of loans are collateralized by the home.  The current mortgage would be paid off with the new mortgage plus the amount for the improvements.  Lenders will usually require that the owner maintain a minimum of 20% equity in the home.

Assuming a homeowner owed $230,000 on the existing mortgage and wanted $50,000 for improvements.  The new loan amount would be $280,000 and the home would have to appraise for at least $350,000 for the homeowner to have a 20% equity remaining. 

Another thing that occurs on a refinance is that the standard term for mortgages is 30 years which means the owner would be financing the improvements for 30 years instead of a shorter term.  The advantage would be a smaller payment.

Let's say in this example, the owner originally borrowed $250,000 at 4.5% for 30 years with a payment of $1,266.71.  After 54 payments, the unpaid balance is $230,335.  If they did a cash out refinance at 4.5% for 30 years for the additional $50,000 and financed the estimated closing costs of $8,700, the new payment would be $1,464.50.

Using the home improvement loan, the combined payments would be $2,149.35 which would be $684.85 higher.  While the cash out refinance produces a lower payment, it adds $8,700 to the amount owed and stretches it out over a longer period.  Home improvement loans have lower closing costs than regular mortgage loans.

Another alternative loan is a HELOC or Home Equity Line of Credit which can be explored and compared to the two options mentioned above.  If a homeowner is going to finance improvements, a comparison of different types of loans and payments can be helpful in the decision-making process. 

A trusted mortgage professional is a valuable resource to assist you with current and accurate information.  If you need a recommendation, please call me at (616) 402-3535.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

House-Hacking Rental Property



House-hacking refers to buying a multifamily property on an owner-occupied mortgage, living in one unit and renting the others.  If you're thinking about becoming a rental mogul, starting early is an advantage.  Not only will you have longer to accumulate a larger portfolio, you can increase the leverage on the first acquisitions if they are owner-occupied. 

Leverage is the use of other people's money to finance an investment.  The higher the loan-to-value, the greater the leverage which can increase the yield.

A $200,000 rental property with an 80% LTV at 4.5% for 30 years producing a 16.88% before-tax rate of return would increase to a 23% return on investment by increasing the mortgage to 90%.  A typical down payment on an investor property in today's market is 20-25% but, in some cases, a higher loan-to-value is possible.

Owner-occupied, multi-unit properties, two to four units, allow a borrower to occupy one of the units and rent the others out.  The cash flows from the rental units subsidize the cost of housing for the unit occupied by the owner.  VA will guarantee 100% of the mortgage for eligible veterans, while FHA will loan up to 96.5% for qualifying borrowers.

Consider a four-unit property was purchased as owner-occupied and the other three units were rented for $800 each.  If an FHA loan was obtained, the owner could live for roughly $355 a month after collecting the rent and paying the expenses.  Assume the owner lived in it for two years and then, rented out the fourth unit for the same $800 per month.  The cash flow would rise to $4,800 a year with a before-tax rate of return of 30% based on a 2% appreciation.

 

Occupy 1 unit

Rent all 4 units

Gross Scheduled Income @ $800 monthly each

$2,400

$3,200

Cash Flow Before Tax

$4,590

$4,861

Before Tax Rate of Return

20.77%

30.56%

 

Rental properties offer the investor to borrow large loan-to-value mortgages at fixed interest rates for up to 30 years on appreciating assets with tax advantages and reasonable control that many other investments don't enjoy.

Some people consider rental properties the IDEAL investment with each letter in the acronym standing for a benefit it provides.  It provides income from the rent which many investments do not have.  Depreciation is a non-cash deduction from income that increases cash flow.  Equity buildup occurs as each payment is made by reducing the principal owed.  Appreciation happens over time as the value of the property increases.  L stands for leverage that was explained earlier in this article.

You may be able to buy another four unit as an owner-occupant before you need to start using a normal investor's down payment.  In the meantime, you could have eight units that are increasing in value while the mortgage balance is decreasing with every payment made.  If there is sufficient equity in the properties by the time, you're ready to buy more, you may be able to take cash out of the existing ones to use for the down payments.

This can be a great way to turbocharge your net worth by becoming an owner and a real estate investor at the same time.  To learn more about rental properties, download the Rental Income Properties guide and/or contact me at (616) 402-3535 to schedule an appointment to meet to discuss the possibilities.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Who Earns the Commission?



What do you think the motivating reason would be for the 5% of all homebuyers who chose not to work with an agent but instead conducted their own home search, contacted the seller, negotiated the contract, located their financing, arranged their inspections and all of the other services provided by REALTORS®?  Most people would probably guess the buyers were wanting to do the work themselves and earn the commission in the form a lower purchase price.

Looking at it from the seller's perspective, what would be the reason for the 8% of all home sellers who chose not to work with an agent but instead did their own research to determine the value of their home, coordinated all of the marketing efforts necessary to have sufficient exposure to the market, negotiate directly with the buyer, and investigate all of the other steps necessary to close the sale?  Is it possible and even probable, that they too were trying to earn the commission and net more proceeds from the sale?

If the home sold for fair market value, it would be reasonable to assume that the seller won out over the buyer.  If it sold for less than market value, it seems that the seller didn't realize his full equity in the home.  In either case, both buyer and seller engaged in activities that they were less experienced and capable than the real estate professional.

The Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers (Exhibit 8-1) reports that 14% of sales were For-Sale-by-Owners in 2004 compared to just 8% in 2019.  The trend shows that agent-assisted sales rose to 89% in 2019 from 82% in 2004.

The three most difficult tasks identified by for-sale-by-owners is getting the price right, preparing or fixing up the home for sale, and selling within the length of time planned.   

The time on the market for sale by owners experienced was less than that of agent assisted homes; two weeks compared to three weeks.  This could indicate that the home didn't maximize its potential sales price.  According to the previous mentioned survey, for sale by owners typically sell for less than the selling price of other homes.

The reality is that both parties cannot earn the commission.  It is earned by providing specific services that are essential to the transaction.  The capital asset of a home represents the largest investment most people make.  An investment of that importance certainly deserves the consideration of a professional trained and experienced to handle the complexities involved. There is value to having a third-party advocate helping each party to the transaction.

The tasks involved in buying and selling a home exist and must be done.  Since nine out of ten transactions involve an agent and therefore, a commission.  It comes down to deciding which is more important: time or money.  If a buyer or seller values their time more than the commission, they'll usually work with an agent.  If money is more valuable to a buyer or seller, they may try purchasing or selling without an agent.  One thing is for sure: there are two parties to the transaction and only one commission.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Expectations



Ideally, what every owner wants when they sell their home is to get the highest possible sales price in the shortest period with the least inconveniences.  They may not realize that's what they want but if you ask enough questions, they are the three most common expectations.

Even when REALTORS® put their home on the market, they have the same three expectations.

The challenge is that to achieve two of these may come at the expense of the third item.  The maximum price in the shortest time may not be the most convenient.  The shortest time with the least inconvenience may not achieve the maximum price.  The maximum price with the least inconvenience may not occur in the shortest time.

It can certainly be the goal to achieve all three, but realistic expectations are important.

If the home is priced below market value, it will probably sell quicker.  If the home is in good condition, it will probably sell for a higher price.  If there is less competition on the market than normal, it could favorably affect the time and price.

Managing these expectations could be the reason that nine out of ten homeowners entrusted the sale of their home to real estate professionals last year.  Owners can increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome by sharing their expectations with agents prior to listing their home for sale.

Think of your REALTOR® as an invaluable part of the team who is going to help you meet your expectations.  They need to know your expectations and your timetable.  They know the market and how to get you the maximum price in the shortest time with the least inconvenience.

Your real estate professional can also coordinate with the other professionals involved that will make up your team.  They can make recommendations based on experience to ensure that they'll do what is needed when it needs to be done.

The bottom line is that it takes a group of skilled people to sell a home.  It takes good communication so that everyone understands the goals.  And, it takes someone you can trust to coordinate everything.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Take the Standard Deduction & the Home



Now that the standard deduction is increased to $12,200 for single taxpayers and $24,400 for married ones, many homeowners are better off with the standard deduction than itemizing their deductions to write off their mortgage interest and property taxes.  There was some speculation that without the tax advantages, homeownership is not the investment it once was.

By looking at the other benefits, you can see that homeownership is still one of the best investments people can make.

A $275,000 home financed with a 4.5%, 30-year FHA loan would have an approximate total payment of $2,075.  The difference in the value of the home and the amount owed on the mortgage is called equity.  Two things cause equity to increase: the home appreciating in value and the principal loan balance being reduced with each payment made on an amortizing loan.

In this example, if the home were appreciating at 2% annually, the value would increase by $5,500 the first year which would be $458.33 per month.  At the same time, with each payment made, an increasing amount would reduce the unpaid balance which would average $363.00 a month in the first year.

The homeowner's equity would increase over $800 a month.  Instead of paying rent, the homeowner is building equity in their home.  It becomes a forced savings and lowers their net cost of housing.  In seven years, the homeowner in this example would have $80,901 in equity instead of seven years of rent receipts.

This example doesn't consider tax advantages at all.  If the homeowner would benefit from itemizing their deductions, it would lower their cost of housing even more.

The IRS recommends each year to compare the standard and itemized deductions to see which would benefit you more.  Items such as substantial charitable donations, mortgage interest, property taxes and large out-of-pocket medical expenses could increase the likelihood of itemizing deductions.

You can see the benefits using your own numbers without tax advantages by using the Rent vs. Own.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Understanding Reverse Mortgages



Reverse mortgage loans are like traditional mortgages that permits homeowners to borrow money using their home as collateral while retaining title to the property.  Reverse mortgage loans don't require monthly payments.

The loan is due and payable when the borrower no longer lives in the home or dies, whichever comes first.  Since no payments are made, interest and fees earned are added to the loan balance each month causing an increasing unpaid balance.  Homeowners are required to pay property taxes, insurance and maintain the home, as their principal residence, in good condition.

Reverse mortgages provide older Americans including Baby Boomers access to their home's equity. Borrowers can use their equity to renovate their homes, eliminate personal debt, pay medical expenses or supplement their income with reverse mortgage funds.

Homeowners are required to be 62 years and older and meet the following requirements:
  • Own the home free and clear or owe very little on the current mortgage that can be paid off with the proceeds
  • Live in the home as their primary residence
  • Be current on all taxes, insurance, and association dues and all federal debt
  • Prove they can keep up with the home's maintenance and repairs
Payouts are based on the age of the youngest spouse. The younger the age, the less money can be borrowed. Reverse mortgages offer two terms ... a fixed rate or variable rate. Fixed rate HECMs have one interest rate and one lump sum payment. Variable rate loans offer multiple payout options:
  • Equal monthly payouts
  • A line of credit with access until the funds are gone
  • Combined line of credit and fixed monthly payments for a specified term
  • Combined line of credit and fixed monthly payments for the life of the loan
Traditional reverse mortgages, also called Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, HECM, are insured by FHA. There are no income limitations or requirements and the loan funds may be used for any purpose. The borrower must attend a counseling session about the HECM, its risk, benefits, and how much can be borrowed. The final loan amount is based on borrower's age and home value. FHA HECMs require upfront and annual mortgage insurance premiums but can be wrapped into the loan.

Proprietary HECM loans are not federally insured. Lenders create their own terms, including allowing loan amounts higher than the FHA maximum. Proprietary HECMs don't require mortgage insurance (upfront or monthly), which may result in more funds available. Proprietary reverse mortgages typically have higher interest rates than FHA HECMs.

Advantages
  • Create a steady stream of income during retirement
  • The proceeds aren't taxed or risk borrower's Social Security payments
  • Title and rights to the home are retained by the homeowner
  • Monthly payments are not required
Disadvantages
  • The loan balance increases over time rather than decreases as with an amortizing loan
  • The loan balance may exceed the property value eliminating inheritance
  • The fees may be higher than traditional mortgage loans
  • Any absence of the home for longer than 6 months for non-medical or 12 months for medical reasons makes the loan due and payable
More information is available about reverse mortgages from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or Federal Trade Commission or HUD.gov.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Downsizing in 2020



Approximately 52 million or 16% of Americans are age 65 and over.  It is easy to understand that some of them are thinking of downsizing their home because they don't need the same space they did in the past.

It can be liberating to divest yourself of "things" that have been accumulated over the years but are no longer needed.  Moving to a less expensive home, could provide savings for unanticipated expenditures or cash that could be invested for additional income.

Savings can be realized in the lower premiums for insurance and lower property taxes, as well as,  the lower utility costs associated with a smaller home.

Typically, owners downsize to a home to 2/3 to 50% of their current home's size.  In some situations, it is not only economically beneficial, but their interests may have changed so that a different style of home, area or city might fit their lifestyle better.

The sale of a home with a lot of profit will not necessarily trigger a tax liability.  Homeowners are eligible for an exclusion of $250,000 of gain for single taxpayers and up to $500,000 for married taxpayers who have owned and used their home two out of the last five years and haven't taken the exclusion in the previous 24 months.

Homeowners should consult their tax professionals to see how this may apply to their individual situation.  For more information, you can download the Homeowners Tax Guide.

Call me at (616) 402-3535 to find out what your home is worth and what it would take to make the move to another home.