Posted by Sandra Tessier on 12/26/2017

You may have heard of private mortgage insurance, also known as PMI, but youíre probably not sure what exactly it is. If your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price of the home, then youíll need to pay for this additional insurance in order to secure a loan for the home. This type of policy protects the lender if you end up in a foreclosure situation. This way, the lender is assured that they will not lose money. 

Private mortgage insurance is also required if you refinance your home when it has accrued to less than 20% equity. Again, this protects the lender from losing money if the loan is defaulted on. 


The fees involved with private mortgage insurance can range based on a few factors including the actual size of the down payment and your credit score. You can expect the cost of the insurance to be somewhere between 0.3% and 1.5% of the loan amount per year. The PMI premiums are tax deductible some years and other years they are not. It really all depends upon the state of the government and what they have enacted for the particular fiscal year. Private mortgage insurance premiums can be paid either monthly or with a large payment upfront, although most policies will require the borrower to pay on a monthly basis.    

This Insurance Can Be Canceled

The lender will automatically cancel your PMI once the loan drops down to 78% of the homeís value. For this reason, youíll want to keep track of your payments in order to see how far away you are from shedding this monthly fee. When your loan is paid down to 80% of the homeís original value, you have the right to ask your lender to discontinue to insurance premium payments.

What Is The Loan-To-Value Ratio?

This ratio is the amount of mortgage debt in the form a percentage based on how much the home is worth. Itís calculated by the following formula:

Amount owed on the mortgage/Appraised value

This is an important factor when it comes to matters of PMI insurance, as itís how the required loan payment percentages are calculated. If a home is worth $100,000 and $80,000 is still owed on the home, the loan-to-value ratio is 80 percent. This means the borrower can request the insurance be cancelled.      

FHA Loans Have Different Requirements

If you secure an FHA loan, they require the payment of PMI premiums for the entire life of the loan. You canít exactly cancel these insurance payments but you can refinance the loan in order get rid of the insurance. This means that you will no longer have an FHA loan.           

Private mortgage insurance can be a nuisance, however as a first-time homebuyer with little capital, the fees may be worth it when youíre able to secure your first home.

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Posted by Sandra Tessier on 8/15/2017

Purchasing a home is a sign of new financial responsibility for many people. The leap into homeownership is a big and important step. Finding a home and securing a mortgage isnít easy. Getting ready to take on a mortgage can require a lot of research and education on your part. Before you get too confused, youíll need to learn the basics of a mortgage and what you should know before you apply. 

Be Prepared

This is probably the best advice for any first time homebuyer. Find some good lenders in your area. You can sit down with a lender and talk about your goals. The bank will be able to explain all of the costs and fees associated with buying a home ahead of time. This way, youíll know exactly what to expect when you head into a purchase contract without any surprises. 

Whatís Involved In A Loan? 

Each mortgage is a different situation. This is why meeting with a lender ahead of time is a good idea. Your real estate agent can suggest a mortgage lender if you donít have one in mind. No one will be happier for you than your real estate agent if you have a smooth real estate transaction. Youíll be able to walk through the mortgage process step by step with a loan officer and understand the specifics of your own scenario.

What Youíll Need For A Mortgage

Thereís a few things that youíll need to have ready before you can even begin searching for a home. 

Cash For A Down Payment

Youíll need to save up a bit of cash before you know that youíre ready to buy a home. Itís recommended that you have at least 20 percent of the purchase price of a home to put down towards your loan initially.   

A Good Working Knowledge Of Personal Finances

You should have an understanding of your own finances in order to buy a home. Not only will this help you save, but it will help you to ensure that youíre not going to overextend yourself financially after you secure the mortgage. To get your finances in order, honestly record all of your monthly expenses and spending habits, so you know exactly what you can afford.   

The Price Range Of Homes Youíre Interested In 

If you have an idea of what kind of home youíd like, it will make your entire house shopping experience a lot easier. Youíll be able to see exactly what you can afford and how much you need to save. When your wish list equates to half-million dollar homes, and you find that you can only afford around $300,000, you donít need to go into shock! Itís good to have an idea of how much house you can afford and what it will get you. When you do a little homework, youíll discover that buying a home isnít such a hard process when youíre prepared!

Posted by Sandra Tessier on 5/16/2017

Thereís many different myths about buying a home that may have been presented to you as fact. All of these rumors could have you believing that being a home owner is a dream. Here, weíll debunk some of the most common misconceptions about home buying and give you the tools to solve any issues that you may come across in the process of securing a home loan.

If You Donít Have 20% To Put Down On A Home, You Canít Buy

Many conventional loans do require a 20% down payment on a home. Thereís also many different loans available that may suit your needs. From Federal Housing Administration loans to Veteranís programs to down payment assistance programs, thereís many different things that can be done to help you buy a home. Keep in mind that any time you put less than 20% down, youíll need to provide additional mortgage insurance, also known as PMI or private mortgage insurance.  

If Your Credit Score Is Terrible Youíre Out Of Luck

If you want really good mortgage rates, having great credit is very important. If your credit score is low, your rates tend to be much higher. A really low credit score could keep you from getting a loan completely. FHA loans allow you to still qualify for a loan with a credit score as low as 580.

You Need To Make Bank To Get Money From The Bank

Monthly annual income is just one of the factors thatís considered when it comes to getting a loan to purchase a home. Your debts matter just as much if not more. People with significant credit card debt and other loans may be denied a home loan even if they have a substantial income. 

Youíre In The Clear If Youíre Pre-Qualified

Pre-qualification is much different than pre-approval. Pre-qualification involves giving your lender basic information about your finances in order to estimate how much of a loan you can get. This will give you a ballpark figure of about how much youíll be able to borrow. Of course, this is very helpful in the home search process, but youíre not done. To get pre-approved, youíll need a complete mortgage application in order to have your complete financial background check and credit rating.  

If Youíve Met One Real Estate Agent, Youíve Met Them All

This couldnít be further from the truth. Your relationship with your real estate agent is going to be quite close. Youíll need to share somewhat personal information in order to secure a house youíll love. Agents are involved in one of the biggest decisions that youíll ever make. Each agent has his or her specialties and knows different neighborhoods better than others. Definitely go with a real estate agent that you feel comfortable with and knows their stuff.  

Closing Costs Arenít Your Responsibility

Sometimes, sellers do pay the closing costs in the sale of a home. It all depends upon how the negotiations go with the home. Youíll need to be prepared for upfront costs in buying a home. These include a credit check, attorney fees and property insurance. As a buyer, youíll be paying anywhere between 2 and 5 percent of the purchase price of the home.  

Itís important to be prepared and to stay informed in order to make sound financial decisions throughout the process of purchasing a home. Everything will be that much more exciting when you have all of the pertinent information that youíll need.

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Posted by Sandra Tessier on 4/26/2016

When it comes to mortgages there is a lot to know and a lot of choices. One loan that was popular before the housing crisis was the interest-only loan. An interest-only loan is an adjustable-rate loan with an initial fixed period when only interest is due. They are typically available in 5-, 7- or 10-year terms. Economists blame interest-only loans for the†foreclosure crisis citing they†were issued too freely. Today, interest-only loans are more difficult to obtain. Borrowers were using interest-only loans to qualify for a more expensive home and when the interest-only term ended the payment went up leaving many homeowners unable to afford the mortgage payment. Interest-only loans are now being used by wealthy borrowers as a financial tool to help them manage irregular cash flow, reap a tax benefit, or free up cash for investment elsewhere. Lenders that offer interest-only loans have strict qualifying standards. They generally require 30 percent equity in a property, and a minimum FICO score of 720. Lenders also look at the ability to pay back the loan is based on the fully amortized payment, not the interest-only payment.    

Posted by Sandra Tessier on 12/1/2015

Paying off your mortgage early and having no bills sounds like a no brainer. The answer however is not so simple. The answer really is; it depends. First you need to ask yourself a few questions. 1. Have you capitalized your employerís match to your retirement savings? If the answer is no and you are not contributing the maximum than you are throwing away free money. You may want to consider putting your money here before paying down your mortgage. 2. Do you have other debt other than your mortgage? Pay off high interest credit card debit first. It makes no sense to pay off a lower interest loan and carry high interest debt. 3. Do you have an emergency fund? Experts suggest at least a three month supply of living expenses. Some even go as much as twenty four months of living expenses after the turn in the economy and job market. It makes more sense to have money set aside for a sudden loss of income before you pay off your mortgage. 4. Do you owe more than your house is worth? If you are upside down you are more susceptible to foreclosure. Ask yourself how much how much you enjoy living there. Would you be willing to buy it again for more than it is worth now? 5. Do you have life, health and disability insurance? If you are the main source of income in your household what would happen if you were no longer able to make the payments? Putting safety nets in place first is a wise idea. 6. Do you believe you can get better return investing elsewhere? Paying off your mortgage is an investment decision. Ask how does paying off my mortgage stack up with other investment options? 7. Are you thinking of retiring and want to live with the worry of a payment? The thought of living on a fixed income can be scary. Paying off your mortgage may give you peace of mind. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It really comes down to what is most important to you. Sometimes, the answer is not based just on dollars and sense and more on what works for you, your life, your family situation and just plain old personal preference.