The best way is to consult with a good mortgage professional. You can try the Affordability Calculator to get a quick estimate of how much you can spend for a house. Use your estimated down payment and monthly mortgage payment to get a 'ballpark' idea of how much you can borrow. Results from the Monthly Payment Calculator are based on your loan's terms, property taxes, and insurance premiums.
No! It is a good idea to get started even before looking at property. By getting approved first, you will know exactly what you qualify for before you begin shopping. Realtors and sellers will know you are a serious buyer because your financing is already arranged. This may be an advantage when making an offer. Lenders take into account your current income, debt and credit history in order to approve you and determine the amount for which you qualify. Once you find a property, and sign a sales agreement, the lender will continue processing your loan.
Appraisals compare the current market value of your home to other homes in your area that have recently been sold. Tax values can sometimes be higher or lower and may not reflect the actual appraised value of the home. A current appraisal is necessary for the lender to justify the loan amount you've requested and is required by our secondary investors. You should not, however, rely on the appraisal for assurance about the condition of your home or as a guarantee of the value of your home.
Required by federal law, the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) is a written list of the estimated closing costs associated with your mortgage transaction, including the lender's charges along with the local closing agent's charges and fees. It also includes estimated amounts for real estate property taxes and homeowner's insurance. All lenders must provide you with a GFE when they are making a loan for you.
Required by federal Law, the Truth-in-Lending statement provides detailed information about the total charges that you will incur over the life of the loan. It includes the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), the amount of interest you'll pay, the amount financed and schedule of payments, the total of your payments, and late payment charges.
The seller and/or your Realtor should provide you with the current taxes for the property. Property taxes are reassessed from time to time, so this amount may change. Prop 13 limited property taxes in California to no more than one percent of a home's assessed value. Furthermore, under Prop 13, assessments of property values could not rise by more than two percent per year, unless a property was sold, in which case it could be assessed at a new value which is usually the new sales price. In addition there can be some local taxes, such as those for schools or fire districts, that voters have appoved so the total tax can be somewhat more than 1% of the assessed value. In Sonoma County a rule of thumb is 1.25% of the purchase price will be the total tax. If you would like to confirm what your taxes would be, you can contact the county Assessor Office.
It depends on your loan program and state requirements. Generally, if your monthly mortgage payment includes money for property taxes, these funds are held in escrow by the lender and the lender pays your property taxes as they become due. Generally, if your payment does not include property taxes, you are responsible for paying them by the due date mandated by your state.
Certain inspections may be required under your particular loan program. However, depending on the home and the location, there are a variety of inspections you may want to consider before you close on your new home even if they are not required under your program, such as:
Fixed-rate mortgages feature a steady interest rate, which is determined when you're approved for a mortgage. This rate remains the same for the entire term of the loan. With adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), the interest rate may vary over the life of the loan.
There are many different ARMs. Interest rates are detemined by different indexes, depending on the lender and the loan program. These indexes are not controlled by the individual bank. Some examples are: average rate of matured treasury securities, the LIBOR or London Interbank Offered Rate (a rate banks charge each other), etc. The ARM interest rate is the index rate plus some fixed margin. You can ask your lender for the history of the index they use. Some indexes are more volatile than others, meaning they can go up or down faster than less volatile indexes. ARM's also usually have a maximum and minumum rate regardless of the index. Rates can change monthly, yearly or at other intervals.
There are also hybrids. Typically, the interest rate is fixed the first 1 to 10 years and then adjusts or 'resets' at pre-determined intervals -- usually once a year. For example, a 5/1 ARM will offer a lower, unchanging interest rate for the first 5 years of its term before adjusting every year. Every time your ARM's rate adjusts, your monthly payments may increase or decrease depending on the current rate environment.
A borrower pays interest only payments for the first three, five, seven, or ten years of the loan. During the Interest Only period, the loan will be re-amortized at the remaining principal balance each month, allowing the customer to benefit from any principal payments made during the interest only timeframe.
After the fixed interest only period, the loan payments become fully amortized payments of both Principal and Interest for the remaining term. During this time, the interest rates become adjustable, based on an index such as the one-year LIBOR index plus a margin.
A point is 1% of the loan amount. For example, 2 points on a $400,000 loan equates to 2% of $400,000, or $8,000.
You may have the option to lower your home loan's interest rate by purchasing points, also known as Discount Points. You will pay the point fees at closing and may be able to deduct the point amount as interest on your income tax return. (Consult your tax professional.)
Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, is required when a borrower provides less than a 20% down payment on a house. PMI partially protects the lender from loss if the borrower fails to make his/her mortgage payments.
Generally, when you've paid off 20% of your loan, you may ask for the PMI requirement to be removed. Removing PMI will decrease your total monthly loan payment. Requirements for removing PMI vary according to loan program and state.