Real Cost of Housing

A variety of factors have led to a shortage of rental units, especially single family homes, and as a result, rents have been steadily increasing nationwide. In most markets, it is considerably less to own than to rent.House composite.png

In some cases, the total house payment is less than the rent for a similar size and condition home which supports a purchase. However, when you factor in some of the financial benefits like principal reduction, appreciation and tax savings, the difference becomes even more dramatic.

Let’s look at an example of a $250,000 home with 3.5% down payment and a 4.50% mortgage for 30 years. We’ll assume a 3% annual appreciation, 25% federal tax bracket, $1,200 annual maintenance and current rent of $2,100 a month.

The total house payment with property taxes, insurance and mortgage insurance premium would be $1,834 a month. Once the principal reduction, appreciation, tax savings and maintenance have been considered, the net cost of housing is about $673 a month. It costs a tenant over $1,400 more a month to rent than to own which would amount to $17,000 in the first year alone. That’s almost twice as much as the down payment to get into the home.

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In this example, the down payment of $8,750 grows to almost $94,000 in seven years due to appreciation and amortization of the loan. Owning a home is one of the few investments available that allow these personal and financial benefits.

One of the obstacles in the past five to seven years has been a borrower’s inability to qualify for a mortgage but new programs and relaxed requirements have allowed more people to be eligible for mortgages. The important step is to talk to a trusted mortgage professional very early in the home search process. Your REALTOR® can make recommendations based on experience from actual closed transactions.

Use the Rent vs. Own calculator to see what the benefits might be in your price range.

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6 Reasons for Rentals

Rental homes have several distinct advantages compared to alternative investments. These advantages coupled with the opportunity for a higher yield make it a clear choice for some investors.Income Property.png

  1. Most investments must be paid for in cash. Stocks can be purchased with 50% cash but if the value goes down, more cash has to be used to keep the margin at 50%. Rentals can readily be financed with only 20-25% down payment.
  2. Most loans made for business or investment purposes are at a floating interest rate compared to the prevalent fixed-rate mortgage on non-owner occupied real estate.
  3. Terms for investment loans if possible are generally six months to a year with a possible renewal but real estate commonly has long term loans up to 30 years.
  4. Real estate has a long-term history of appreciation.
  5. Real estate enjoys tax advantages like long-term capital gains treatment, cost recovery and tax deferred exchanges that are not available to many other types of investments.
  6. Single family homes and similar properties give the investor a reasonable amount of control to make improvements and manage the property which are limited to simply determining when to buy and sell for other investments.

The ins and outs of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, commodities and other investments are unfamiliar with most people. It is obviously possible for anyone to invest in them but the lack of knowledge about how they work could make it more difficult to have a successful outcome. On the other hand, homeowners can use their experiences to select, manage and sell with much more confidence using a single family home for rental purposes.

To find out more about investing in rental properties, contact your real estate professional.

Your Best Investment

According to a Federal Reserve report on Consumer Finances, homeowners’ net worth is 36 times greater than that of renters. Building on that study, the National Association of REALTORS® believes that by the end of 2015, the factor will grow to 41 times greater.36x.png

There can be several factors that contribute to this disparity but an important one is the forced savings that is achieved due to an amortized mortgage. A portion of the payment goes to the reduction of the principal balance of the mortgage which increases equity in the home.

Appreciation is also a major contributor to homeowners’ equity. Homes, in most areas, have consistently increased in value over the long term and during the past four years have experienced solid growth. Many economists expect home prices to increase in the next five years.

Let’s look at a scenario where a qualified buyer considers three different options to see what their investment would be in five years: purchase a certificate of deposit, invest in the stock market or buy a home. The following assumptions are made: a $250,000 home with an $8,750 down payment with a 4.5% mortgage for 30 years and 3% annual appreciation; CD rate at 2% and a 5% return in the stock market.

The $8,750 would grow to $9,661 in the certificate of deposit, to $11,167 in the stock market and to $69,900 in equity with a home purchase. That is over a six times growth in the same period of time due to the amortization of the loan and the appreciation.

Check out Your Best Investment to compare possible differences in your price range.

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The Cost of Co-Signing

It seems fairly innocuous; a friend or family member wants you to co-sign on a loan because they don’t qualify. They assure that they’ll make the payments; they’re quite convincing and very appreciative. You don’t want to disappoint them and after all, it’s not like it’s going to cost you anything…is it?Caution CoSign.png

Think of it this way. They couldn’t get a loan unless you co-sign for them. If they don’t make the payments, the lender is going to look to you to repay the loan plus late and collection fees. The lender may be able to sue you, file a lien on your home or garnish your wages.

And it’s not just money that you could be losing, it could be your credit too. Co-signing a loan is a contingent liability that could affect your debt-to-income ratio and your ability to borrow.

Co-signing is an obligation to repay the debt if the other signer is unable. You could be out the money and unable to recoup the loss because you don’t have control of the asset. The impact on your credit could take years to recover.

Before you obligate yourself, consider all of the ramifications involved in co-signing a loan for someone.

Finding the Best Mortgage

As rates are inching up but still very affordable, buyers should remember that there is an alternative to a fixed rate mortgage that can provide the lowest cost of housing for the homeowners who understand the parameters. finding best mortgage.jpg

A $300,000 fixed-rate mortgage at 4% has a principal and interest payment of $1,432.25 per month for the entire 30 year term. A 5/1 adjustable mortgage at 3% has a $167.43 lower payment for the first five years and then, can adjust, up or down, based on a predetermined index.

Another interesting fact is that the unpaid balance on the ARM at the end of the first five years is $4,624 lower than the fixed-rate mortgage. The total savings in the first five years on the ARM is $14,669.00.

Adjustable rate mortgages are not the right choice for everyone but buyers should at least consider the options based on their individual situation. It could be an obvious choice for a buyer who is only going to be in the home for five years or less.

Use the ARM Comparison worksheet to see what possible savings you could have based on your actual numbers. A trusted mortgage professional can help you to understand the advantages and disadvantages based on your situation. You need the facts to make the best decision.

Cut Mortgage Insurance

Making additional payments toward the principal of your mortgage will do three things for the homeowner: save interest, build equity and shorten the term on fixed rate mortgages. 36893374_s.jpg

These things should be beneficial enough to justify the extra payments but another huge advantage is available to those who have private mortgage insurance on their loan. Mortgage insurance rates vary but can range from seventy-five to two hundred dollars a month on a $200,000 mortgage.

Lenders are required to automatically terminate mortgage insurance when the principal balance reaches 78% of the original value of the property. It is important for homeowners to monitor their balance because sometimes lenders may inadvertently fail to terminate the coverage.

Mortgage insurance is a necessary but expensive requirement for many people who are limited to a down payment of less than 20%. Eliminating the need for it can save thousands of dollars over time.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB, issued a compliance bulletin on August 4, 2015.

Lower the Rate & Deduct the Interest

A home can easily be a person’s largest personal asset and it can be a powerful tool to increase financial stability also.

Since most mortgages are amortizing, the loan becomes a forced savings account that reduces the unpaid balance with each payment. The equity could be used to improve a homeowner’s financial position involving other loans.iStock_000006029471Medium-250.jpg

While every homeowner recognizes that they can deduct the interest paid on their mortgage, it is surprising how many don’t know that they can write-off the interest on up to $100,000 of home equity debt assuming there is sufficient equity in the home.

The real advantage to a homeowner is that the money borrowed can be used for any purpose and the interest is still deductible. Homeowners could payoff high-interest rate credit card debt or student loans with a considerably lower rate on a mortgage and deduct the interest on the home-equity debt.

Replacing debt with lower rate loans that have deductible interest can be a strategic decision to financial stability and a debt-free environment. A trusted mortgage professional can help you analyze your individual situation to determine if it would be better to refinance with a cash-out first-mortgage or a dedicated home equity loan.

Things That Kill Your Credit

Some people take their credit for granted and don’t start paying attention to it until they need it. The problem with this is that it could delay if not altogether cause the loan to be denied. iStock_000050117608_250.jpg

The most common issue is not correcting items on your credit report. A large majority of credit reports have errors but not all of them are critical. Since it takes time to remove them, it is a good practice to review your free credit reports from each Experian, TransUnion and Equifax once a year at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

Another problem is making late payments. One 30-day late payment could be enough to cause a borrower to pay a higher interest rate or even be denied a loan. Payments have a due date and even when they allow a few days before a late fee kicks in, if it isn’t on-time, it is late.

Maxing out credit cards is another big problem. Ideally, a person wants to have an outstanding balance of no more than 30% of their available credit. As the percentage of available credit decreases, the credit score will go down.

Bad credit can not only keep you from getting the loan you want, it can raise your rates on the insurance you buy. In a study released by the Consumer Federation of America, people with good credit paid less than people with average and poor credit. Their results indicate that some customers with poor credit scores were charged about twice as much as those with excellent scores.

A prudent idea if you are going to be moving to a larger home is to get pre-approved with a trusted mortgage professional before you sell your current home. Occasionally, sellers find out after they’ve sold their home that they can’t qualify for another mortgage.

Checking for Water Leaks

An unexpected, larger-than-normal water bill could lead a person to think that they might have a leak. Before incurring the cost of a plumber, it is fairly easy to run your own test. water meter-250.jpg

Locate your water meter. They’re usually in the front of the house, near the street. In some cases, you might need a meter key to open it; they can be purchased at Lowe’s, Home Depot or other hardware stores.

Step One – Write down the numbers on the meters to get a current reading. Don’t use any water for thirty minutes. If the meter shows water usage during the test period, proceed to step two.

Step Two – Shut off the valves to all of the toilets. If you have a pool with an automatic filler, it has a similar device. Repeat the test again for the same thirty minute period. If the numbers haven’t changed this time, it indicates that the toilets probably need servicing.

If the numbers have changed during step two, it is an indication there may be a leak and it will need to be tracked down. This could be the time to call a plumber or plumbing leak specialist. Your water department may have a consumer help line that can offer suggestions also.

More Home for a Lower Cost of Housing

What if you could live in a larger and possibly newer home for less than you are currently? Would you consider moving? Do you want to hear more?

Interest rates, while they’re expected to go up, actually took a small dip and are still hovering at the 4% or below mark for a 30 year mortgage and almost one percent less for a 15 year term. QUALITY COSTS3.png

Let’s assume that you have a $225,000 mortgage currently at 6% which has a principal and interest payment of $1,348.99. With a 4% rate, you could have a $282,561 mortgage with the same payment. A $57,000 more expensive home could help you get what you need most such as more square footage or a different location or a newer home.

If you’re going to be making that payment for years to come, why not allow lower interest rates to help you get the features you want without having to necessarily pay a higher payment. Taking that logic a little bit further, let’s see how utilities can make a difference too.

A newer home could easily have lower monthly utility costs than your current home due to being more energy efficient. Construction materials, windows, doors, insulation, modern HVAC systems and energy efficient appliances all contribute to lower utility costs. A new home with these advantages could easily save a homeowner up to 25-50% on utilities for the same size home.

The concept is simple: get the most home you can for the amount you spend on the payment and utilities. It will take some investigation and your real estate professional can help.