The HARP Mortgage Program is Coming to an End Soon – Here’s What You Need to Know

The United States government established the HARP program, otherwise known as the Home Affordable Refinance Program, to assist homeowners who are struggling with their mortgage payments. However, the program will be ending soon, and homeowners who have not yet taken advantage of the program and who intend to do so may need to act quickly.

The HARP Mortgage Program is Coming to an End Soon - Here's What You Need to KnowThe United States government established the HARP program, otherwise known as the Home Affordable Refinance Program, to assist homeowners who are struggling with their mortgage payments. Initially, the program was founded in March 2009, and it has provided many homeowners with an easier route to adjusting their mortgage payments to make them more affordable. However, the program will be ending soon, and homeowners who have not yet taken advantage of the program and who intend to do so may need to act quickly.

When Does the Program End?

The HARP mortgage program will officially end on December 31, 2015. If you intend to apply for a mortgage under this program, you must have your application submitted by this date. However, a closing date may extend into early 2016. There are special rules and eligibility requirements that must be met in order for you to take advantage of this program, and these must be in place before you submit a full application. Therefore, it is important that anyone who is interested in applying for a mortgage under the HARP program take time initially to understand more about the rules and eligibility requirements in place.

What Are the Requirements?

It is important to note that the HARP program is not suitable for all homeowners who wish to refinance, and special requirements must be in place. Just a few of the requirements include that you must be in good standing with your current mortgage with no late payments within the last six months. You also cannot have had more than one late payment within the last 12 months. In addition, you must be able to pay for the new mortgage payment, and the mortgage must be a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan. These are just a few of the requirements, and you will need to work with a mortgage professional to ensure that you qualify for these and other requirements that are in place.

The HARP program has already helped many homeowners who have been struggling with their mortgage payments. While the program offers a permanent solution to homeowners by re-establishing a new mortgage payment amount, the program itself was only intended to be temporary in nature. Because it will officially end at the end of 2015, any homeowners who are still interested in taking advantage of the benefits of the HARP program should consider speaking with their trusted mortgage professional soon to learn more about the requirements and to begin the application process.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 27, 2015

Last week’s scheduled economic news releases were limited as no news was released on Monday or Tuesday, but good news did arrive in the form of a dip in mortgage rates for fixed rate loans. NAR reported higher sales of pre-owned homes and FHFA reported that home price growth associated with mortgages held or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held steady in May.

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 27 2015Last week’s scheduled economic news releases were limited as no news was released on Monday or Tuesday, but good news did arrive in the form of a dip in mortgage rates for fixed rate loans. The National Association of Realtors® reported higher sales of pre-owned homes and FHFA reported that home price growth associated with mortgages held or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac held steady in May.

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes and FHFA House Prices Rise

According to the National Association of Realtors®, June sales of existing homes reached their highest level since February 2007. Sales of used homes reached a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million previously owned homes sold against expectations of 5.42 million homes and May’s reading of 5.32 million pre-owned homes sold. By comparison, sales of existing homes remain about 24 percent below a pre-recession peak. Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® cited improving labor markets and home buyer concerns over rising mortgage rates as factors contributing to May’s reading for existing home sales.

FHFA, the federal agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices associated with sales of homes financed with loans owned or backed by Fannie and Freddie rose by 0.40 percent month-over-month in May and held steady with April’s revised reading of 0.40 percent. FHFA home prices rose by 5.70 percent year-over-year in May.

Mortgage Rates Mixed

Freddie Mac reported that average rates for 30 and 15-year mortgages fell while the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage ticked upward by one basis point. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by five basis points to 4.04 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.21 percent. The rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate rose by one basis point to 2.97 percent. Average discount points were unchanged at 0.60 percent, 0.60 percent and 0.50 percent respectively.

Expected reports on weekly jobless claims and new home sales were not released last week.

What’s Ahead

Scheduled economic reports for this week include the usual weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates along with the Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for May and the Commerce Department’s report on pending home sales. The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve has scheduled an announcement on Wednesday, and reports on consumer confidence and consumer sentiment will also be released next week.

Have a Weekend to Spare? Consider These Quick Renovations to Add Value to Your Home

Homeowners who are thinking about listing their home for sale in the coming weeks or months may be focused on improving their home to help it sell more quickly, but there also may be a focus on adding value to the home in the process. In fact, these are a few simple and easy projects that can typicaly be completed over the course of a weekend; that can add value and desirability to the home.

Have a Weekend to Spare? Consider These Quick Renovations to Add Value to Your HomeHomeowners who are thinking about listing their home for sale in the coming weeks or months may be focused on improving their home to help it sell more quickly, but there also may be a focus on adding value to the home in the process. While each home is unique, there are a few projects that most homeowners would benefit from. In fact, these are a few simple and easy projects that can typicaly be completed over the course of a weekend; that can add value and desirability to the home.

Replace The Front Door

The front door has an impact on curb appeal, and it also is one of the primary features that buyers will see when they approach your home to take a tour. Replacing an older door that lacks style or that is plagued with signs of wear and tear can improve property value and curb appeal alike. Many homeowners who have basic tools and some do-it-yourself experience with other projects will be able to replace the front door without additional help from a contractor.

Update The Kitchen Back Splash

A kitchen is a key selling point in a home, and the back splash is among the most visible features in this space. Replacing the back splash with stylish tile can improve the look and can instantly make the home more desirable. This can be a relatively simple type of home renovation project, if you have experience with tile work, that may be completed within just a few hours.

Repaint The Walls And Baseboards

Few things can improve the look of a home more easily than a fresh coat of paint. If the walls are showing signs of wear or the colors do not have modern or universal appeal, applying a fresh coat of paint to walls and baseboards is a simple enough project to tackle. For the best results, focus on the rooms with the most undesirable paint colors, in the most visible rooms of the home or in areas where the paint is in generally poor condition.

Each of these projects can have a dramatic impact on the homes appeal and can influence the value of the home itself.   Each of these prjects under most circomstances can be completed with minimal time and cost to the homeowner. Those who are ready to improve their home in a short period of time can consider which of these projects will yield the most significant results in their home.

Good News! Existing Home Sales, FHFA Home Prices Increase

Housing markets show continued signs of strengthening according to reports released on Wednesday. The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of pre-owned homes rose to 5.49 million in June as compared to May’s revised reading of 5.32 million pre-owned homes sold and expected sales estimated at 5.42 million sales. Expectations were based on May’s original reading of 5.35 million sales. June’s reading was the highest since February of 2007. Readings for existing home sales are calculated on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Good News Existing Home Sales FHFA Home Prices IncreaseHousing markets show continued signs of strengthening according to reports released on Wednesday. The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of pre-owned homes rose to 5.49 million in June as compared to May’s revised reading of 5.32 million pre-owned homes sold and expected sales estimated at 5.42 million sales. Expectations were based on May’s original reading of 5.35 million sales. June’s reading was the highest since February of 2007. Readings for existing home sales are calculated on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Buyers Gain Confidence in Labor Markets, Rush to Beat Rate Hikes

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors® said that buyers may be influenced by rising mortgage rates and encouraged by improving job markets. Analysts expect the Federal Reserve to raise its target federal funds rate this fall, which means that mortgage rates along with consumer lending rates will rise.

The national median home price rose by 6.50 percent annually to $236,400, also a record reading.

While this news paints a rosy picture for housing markets, challenges remain. Strict mortgage standards are an obstacle for first time and moderate income buyers as well as for buyers with less than stellar credit scores. While construction of new homes is increasing, the majority of projects are apartment complexes. 41 percent of housing starts in June were multi-family projects with five or more units. This data falls in line with stricter mortgage standards and a trend for millennials, an expected group of first-time homebuyers, preferring to rent in large cities rather than moving to suburban areas.

FHFA House Prices Rise in May

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices associated with mortgage loans owned or backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was unchanged from April’s revised reading of 0.40 percent month-to-month home price growth. April’s month-to-month reading was originally reported at 0.30 percent. FHFA home prices were up 5.70 percent year-over-year in May.

FHFA reported that year-over-year home price growth was positive in all nine census divisions, with the lowest growth rate of 0.90 percent in the Mid Atlantic division and the highest growth rate of 8.40 percent in the Pacific division.

Assessing Your ‘Debt-to-Income Ratio’ and Why This Number Matters When Getting a Mortgage

For those who are looking to buy a home soon, keep in mind that the Debt-to-Income ratio of the borrower plays a huge role in the approval of your mortgage application. A low DTI may make it easier for the lender and the underwriter to justify making a loan to the borrower.

Assessing Your Debt-to-Income Ratio and Why This Number Matters When Getting a MortgageIf you are looking to buy a home, you may want to consider shopping for a loan first. Having your financing squared away ahead of time can make it easier to be taken seriously by buyers and help move along the closing process. For those who are looking to get a mortgage soon, keep in mind that the Debt-to-Income ratio of the borrower plays a huge role in the approval of your mortgage application.

What is a Debt-to-Income Ratio?

A debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of monthly debt payments compared to the amount of gross income that a person earns each month. Your gross monthly income is typically the amount of money you earn before taxes and other deductions are taken out. If a person’s monthly gross income is $2,000 a month and they have a monthly debt payments of $1000 each month, that person would have a DTI of 50 percent. The lower the DTI the better. 43 percent is in most cases the highest DTI that potential borrowers can have and still get approved for a mortgage.

What Debt Do Lenders Look At?

The good news for borrowers is that lenders will disregard some debt when calculating a borrower’s DTI. For example, utilities, cable, phone and health insurance premium would not be considered as part of your DTI. What lenders will look at are any installment loan obligations such as auto loans or student loans as well as any revolving debt payments such as credit cards or a home equity line of credit. In some cases, a lender will disregard an installment loan debt if the loan is projected to be paid off in the next 10-12 months.

What Is Considered Income?

Almost any source of income that can be verified will be counted as income on a mortgage application. Wage income is considered as part of a borrower’s monthly qualifying income. Self-employed individuals can use their net profit as income when applying for a mortgage, however, many lenders will average income in the current year with income from previous years. In addition, those who receive alimony, investment income or money from a pension or social security should make sure and include those figures in their monthly income as well when applying for a loan.

How Much Debt Is Too Much Debt?

Many lenders prefer to only offer loans to those who have a debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent or lower. Talking to a lender prior to starting the mortgage application process may help a borrower determine if his or her chosen lender offers such leeway.

A borrower’s DTI ratio can be the biggest factor when a lender decides whether to approve a mortgage application. Those who wish to increase their odds of loan approval may decide to lower their DTI by either increasing their income or lowering their debt. This may make it easier for the lender and the underwriter to justify making a loan to the borrower.

Seeking the Perfect Summer Home Improvement Project? It’s Time for an Inground Pool

The warmer summer months provide homeowners with the ideal conditions for making improvements to their property, and many will want to put installing an in-ground swimming pool at the top of their list of improvement ideas.

Seeking the Perfect Summer Home Improvement Project? It's Time for an Inground Pool The warmer summer months provide homeowners with the ideal conditions for making improvements to their property. One of the more popular options for summer time improvement ideas is installing an in-ground swimming pool.  While a swimming pool may seem like a pure luxury to some, there are actually considerable benefits that homeowners can enjoy by adding an in-ground pool. With closer consideration, homeowners may decide that this is the ideal improvement to make to their property.

The Perfect Place For Relaxation And Entertainment

Many homes provide ample space for basic living, but they often lack an extra space that is well-suited for personal relaxation and for entertaining family and friends. An in-ground swimming pool can enhance a backyard area and can create the ideal space for everything from spending quiet, lazy afternoons alone to hosting a backyard get-together with family and friends. This can be a true extension of the home that improves its functionality in a number of ways.

Beautification For The Backyard

More than that, a backyard swimming pool can beautify the yard tremendously. This is a feature that enhances ambiance as well as function through its tranquil, serene water and the general décor of the pool itself. While additional landscaping can be improved around the pool, the pool itself can create a luxurious, relaxing look to a backyard.

Enhanced Appeal When Selling The Home

A swimming pool may not always have a direct impact on property value, it can improve desirability. Some home buyers may not want a pool, but many will choose a home that has a swimming pool over one that does not have one in a head to head comparison. Therefore, a swimming pool installation project now may give a property enhanced appeal later when the homeowner decides to sell it.

There may be a number of different home improvement projects for homeowners to consider completing this summer, but many will want to place the installation of a backyard swimming pool at the top of their list. With so many benefits associated with having an in-ground pool, this is an option that homeowners should take a closer look at.

Let’s Talk Hardwood: Why Converting Your Home to Hardwood Flooring Will Boost Its Value

When a homeowner makes the decision to upgrade flooring in one area of the home or throughout the entire space, there are numerous materials that may be considered. While each material option has its unique benefits and advantages, many are drawn to hardwood flooring as an option.

Let's Talk Hardwood: Why Converting Your Home to Hardwood Flooring Will Boost Its ValueWhen a homeowner makes the decision to upgrade flooring in one area of the home or throughout the entire space, there are numerous materials that may be considered. While each material option has its unique benefits and advantages, many are drawn to hardwood flooring as an option. This is a material that has the potential to boost home value, and a closer look at its benefits will reveal why this is the case.

A Durable, Long-Lasting Material

With many flooring options, homeowners understand that the material will need to be replaced or upgraded over the years. With hardwood flooring, the timeless appeal and incredible durability of the material means that the floor may be an investment to enjoy for many long decades. In fact, with periodic maintenance and regular care of hardwood floors, some hardwood floors may provide the homeowner with 50 years or more of beautiful use in the home.

Numerous Stylish Options

More than that, there are numerous style options for homeowners to consider, and this provides the ability to easily select a material that is ideal for the look of the home. In addition, hardwood floor generally has universal appeal that many desire, and this increases the desirability of the home to future home buyers. This is especially true when a more classic tone of wood is selected rather than a modern or trendy tone.

Improved Indoor Air Quality

Some flooring materials, such as carpet, may have a detrimental impact on indoor air quality, but this is not the case with hardwood flooring. The material is easy to clean, and this means that dust, dander and other allergens can easily be removed from the floor. This will have a direct and beneficial impact on indoor air quality that current owners as well as future home buyers can enjoy.

While hardwood flooring can be desirable and beneficial for current property owners, the appeal of the material will extend to future home buyers. When hardwood flooring is well-maintained by the owner, it is a true investment that will add true value to the home and that may help the owner to sell the property more quickly when the time comes.