When you take out a second mortgage, a name for a home equity line of credit, you’re offering your house as collateral to secure another loan. The upside: You can gain access to up to 85% of your home’s value, minus your current mortgage balance and adjusted based on your creditworthiness.
The downside? If you can’t make your payments, you could lose where you live. Because the stakes are high, you want to make sure you use a HELOC for the right reasons. Here are a (more…)
Now that spring has blossomed into full-on allergy mode, the time we spend outside is even more appreciated — especially with the help of a good antihistamine. The next time you venture out, take a moment to do a walk-around inspection of the old homestead. See some room for improvements? Maintaining, repairing and upgrading a home can range in cost from a minor trickle to a major cash drain.
Paying for minor repairs
If you see the need for only modest repairs, you might be able to tackle them within the bounds of your cash flow. But remember, your emergency fund is best left intact for unexpected cash needs, not for replacing a gutter or downspout.
If you have a bit of a cash cushion in your checking account or in a contingency savings account, small home projects can be covered with your close-at-hand liquidity, even if it means a temporary trim to discretionary spending, such as a couple of “family nights out” spent at home.
The financial benefits of buying a home compared with renting have yoyoed over the years, especially of late. If you’re sitting on the fence, here are four circumstances in which it may be a better bet to buy.
If interest rates remain low
From a financing perspective, if this isn’t the best time to buy a house, it’s pretty darn close.
The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage, the most common variety, has hovered below or near 4% for several months now. For comparison’s sake, if you bought 10 years ago, the average interest rate was 6.41%. In 1996, it was 7.81%, and in 1981 it was a whopping 16.63%.
Although the Federal Reserve has begun to inch rates upward, it is likely that it will do so slowly and that it will be a while before the cost of borrowing to buy a home stops being historically low.
In the three years that he’s been at Howard Bank, Chris Infantino has seen the mortgage department grow from a very small operation to the large portion of business that it is today. With 18 years in the mortgage industry, Infantino has answered his share of mortgage questions.
One of the most common questions people ask him is where they can find customer reviews. After all, a mortgage is a major financial commitment and customers want to make sure they are working with a reputable bank. Outside sources, like Lending Tree, have ranked Howard Bank as being one of the best mortgage lenders. With a 4.8 out of 5-star rating, 96% of customers would recommend Howard Bank for a mortgage. In fact, Lending Tree rated Howard Bank #6 overall in customer satisfaction in the fourth quarter of 2016, based on actual customer reviews of hundreds of lenders.
Infantino recognizes that the mortgage process is not as easy as it was 10 years ago. “Clients still remember a two week process and wonder why it’s still not two weeks,” he says. Because it takes longer, Howard Bank stays on top of every detail on behalf of the client. It’s this world-class customer service that differentiates Howard Bank from other lenders. It’s also what keeps Infantino busy each day.
As Senior Vice President, Infantino spends much of his day making sure the Mortgage Loan Officers have the skills and training they need to do their jobs at the highest levels. “Customer service is the ultimate focus of Howard Bank,” he says. “Howard Bank truly cares about retaining and making their customer base happy with all aspects of their relationship with the bank.”
In addition to maintaining and managing Howard Bank’s exceptional mortgage team, Infantino is committed to Zaching Against Cancer, where he is on the board of directors.
To start a mortgage application with Howard Bank click on the button below.
In the market for a new home? You should know that there’s been gradual changes over the years in lending and mortgaging, and if you haven’t kept up, the experience might well be unlike any home purchase you’ve made before. Among the biggest changes of late is the entry of more people in the home-buying market, making it more likely that if you don’t act fast, that quaint three-bedroom, two-bath cottage you have your eye on could be gone before you score your pre-approval letter.“Rental prices are really high,” said Matthew Krimm, regional business development manager at Mlend, which finances homes for residential buyers, “so you’re seeing people who maybe before would have been renting, are in the market to buy because they can buy a house less than they can rent one for.”
In many areas around Baltimore, there’s an imbalance between who’s buying and what’s available.“There are more buyers out there right now than there are properties,” Krimm said, “so the properties that are out there are going very quickly.” “Even though the economy in and of itself is still struggling,” he continued, “the outside of that is you have people who went through a bankruptcy or foreclosure three, four years ago and are back into the buyer pool. So boomerang buyers—people who had a financial hardship years ago—are back in a position to buy. Interest rates are lower, that makes it more affordable to buy.”
Another point to keep in mind: If you’re expecting the traditional process of filling out paperwork by hand, you’re likely in for a surprise. Much of the home-buying experience has shifted online; the paperwork isn’t even paper anymore.“When I first started, the loan package was a big pile of pages and you sat down at the kitchen table and signed everything,” he said. “Now, 95 percent of customers do that online. Back even 10 years ago if you thought about buying a house, you call the realtor your mom used and they tell you what lender to use. Now it’s social media.”
Robert Altieri, executive vice president and president of the mortgage division at Howard Bank, has also noticed the change in online activity.“You have not necessarily new mortgage business popping up, but you have more internet applications,” he said. “I think you’re seeing 57 percent of mortgages done through an electronic means.”
While Howard Bank, which does roughly 250 mortgages monthly per Altieri’s estimation, does not use an online process for mortgages right now, Altieri said they hope to by the end of their third quarter. The changes he’s seen in mortgages have been more gradual, but they are certainly there.
“It seems like, since we’ve been through the Great Recession, the secondary market investors are loosening their guidelines a little bit to assist, obviously, homeowners,” he said. “That’s been a bit of a change, but a very gradual change. As the economy gets better so do the parameters and underwriting guidelines from investors.”
There have even been shifts for hard money lenders, like Craig Fuhr at (more…)
Buying and financing a home can be challenging. With so many options, it is in the buyer’s best interest to partner with a professional mortgage banker to navigate this process.
For first time home buyers especially, there are numerous grants and government-backed loan programs to improve the odds of home ownership. Each of these programs is a little different, with a myriad of rules and requirements, so the guidance of a professional schooled in these programs can be very helpful.
Howard Bank’s mortgage professionals are highly experienced with many grant programs. David Fitzell, Senior Vice President of Howard Bank Mortgage, says, “First-time homebuyers need to know that there are a lot of phenomenal grant programs that Howard Bank offers. We do a tremendous amount of business with the Maryland Mortgage Program and the FHLB Grant Program. We participate in all the grants that are offered in Baltimore County and the surrounding areas, including the Community Development Block Grant and Buying into Baltimore programs. So if there’s a program that helps people get grants or down payment and settlement assistance for properties, we take part. We’re seen as experts in that space.” What’s more, “We know how to (more…)
Purchasing your first home is a big investment and commitment. When it comes to a mortgage for that home, it makes sense to seek the help of a professional who understands the intricacies of these loans.
Howard Bank’s mortgage team has the experience and the tools to assist buyers through this process. Senior Vice President of Howard Bank Mortgage, David Fitzell says, “For many families, this is their largest investment, and they want personal interaction. And all banks and lenders are not created equally. Navigating through some of the (financing) complexities takes a strong, educated mortgage banker to help you through that.”
Fitzell outlines some of the elements that a Howard Bank mortgage officer helps customers manage.
Get educated up front. Come talk to a lender.
Consider all the grant programs and government backed loans that may be available to you. Howard Bank participates in numerous grant programs and is an expert in that space.
Determine what you can reasonably /comfortably afford. This is not necessarily the amount you qualify for.
Do you have money for a down payment? Many consider 20% an industry norm, but there are other options available.
“Interest rates are at historic lows. This really makes this an opportune time to buy,” says Fitzell.
Let’s say you’re a recent college grad. You’ve landed your first real job (or maybe you’ve been working it for a while already) and after years of dorms and apartments, you’re realizing you might as well start building equity in a place of your own.
You wouldn’t be alone. Though you’ll see articles all over the place insisting that millennials just aren’t interested in buying homes, a closer look at the data says the opposite is true actually true.
However, there’s one small hiccup: student loan debt. In 2013, the average student borrower graduated $28,400 in debt, which will almost certainly lead to problems when they try to qualify for a mortgage. So what can you do if all this describes you?
First, let’s take a closer look at the why of this problem.
How does student debt interfere with getting a mortgage?
When lenders do all the math to figure out whether or not you’ll be able to make your monthly payment, they take special care with something (more…)
Seemingly not a day goes by that a major media outlet doesn’t report on the significance and growing purchasing power of the mighty demographic: Millennials. The age cohort includes at least 80 million people with roughly $200 billion to spend, and companies are understandably doing everything possible to reach these new consumers.
The other story that has dominated real estate and mortgage news has been the state of mortgage rates, which have remained low (historically!) for some time now. Even first-time homebuying has increased in recent months. It would seem like this is a match made in heaven, right? Although millennials will undoubtedly one day be the dominant force in housing, Forbes columnist Beth Braverman provides four reasons why that hasn’t happened quite yet.
1) Strict mortgage standards and stubborn debt. Braverman notes, potential buyers used to have more (more…)
Not everyone thinks “raised ranch” when they hear the word “home.” Here are 5 out-there houses that may or may not actually be fun to live in.
The Bioscleave House
In the late 90’s, architects Arakawa and Madeline Gins were commissioned to renovate a home in East Hampton, New York. Years (and more than $2 million dollars) later, Arakawa and Gins claim to have built a house that will slow aging and death.The secret? Bright colors, unusual angles, and a bumpy, undulating floor, which they say will stimulate your immune system by forcing you to work to maintain your balance.The house has two bedrooms, one bathroom, and no doors.
The Mushroom House
Built between 1970 and 1972 by Robert and Marguerite Antell, this house was inspired by Queen Anne’s Lace. The result, however, looks a lot more like a cluster of mushrooms. In total, the structure consists of five connected pods, which house three bedrooms and three bathrooms. In 1989, it was designated a town landmark by Perinton, New York.
The Haines Shoe House
In 1948, Pennsylvanian shoe salesman Mahlon Haines decided to build house shaped (more…)