HOA Hurdles to be Aware of When Looking at New Properties

A Home Owner Association (HOA) can have a huge impact on your life when you buy a home in a PUD (Planned Unit Development) or Condominium Project.

According to Wikipedia:

A homeowners’ association (abbrev. HOA) is an organization created by a real estate developer for the purpose of developing, managing and selling a development of homes.

It allows the developer to exit financial and legal responsibility of the community, typically by transferring ownership of the association to the homeowners after selling off a predetermined number of lots.

It allows the municipality to increase its tax base, but reduce the amount of services it would ordinarily have to provide to non-homeowner association developments.

Most homeowner associations are incorporated, and are subject to state statutes that govern non-profit corporations and homeowner associations.

State oversight of homeowner associations is minimal, and mainly takes the form of laws, which are inconsistent from state to state.

The Pros and Cons of HOA’s:

A Home Owner Association may have the power to determine the color of your home, the number of pets you have and the type of grass you have to plant.

They also may have the power to levy assessments, dues and fines.

Or, they may be as simple as collecting a few dollars per year to make sure the grass is cut in the common areas.

HOAs are set up by CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions) and become part of your deed.

The CC&Rs dictate how the HOA operates and what rules the owners, tenants and guests must obey.

You should take the time to review the CC&R for any prospective purchase to make sure that the home you are buying will be right for your lifestyle.

For instance, if you operate an Amway business from your home, it is possible the CC&Rs prohibit this type of activity. Or, if you have two dogs and three cats, the CC&Rs may limit you to one pet.

The CC&Rs are only a portion of the HOA.

Bylaws are another component of HOA’s that reflect the intention of the association.

Each HOA either has a managing Board of Directors, or a third-party property management company.

One issue to be sure you check on is potential assessments.

For instance, recently a Condo Association had a foundation problem and was assessing the members over $10,000 per unit.

Another PUD had a pool that required routine maintenance and certification.

Subdivisions are commonly set up as PUDs with an additional HOA.

Until the subdivision is complete, the builder is generally in charge of the HOA.

When complete, the management of the PUD is typically turned over to the homeowners at a special membership meeting.

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How Are Mortgage Rates Determined?

Many people believe that interest rates are simply set by lenders, but the reality is that mortgage rates are largely determined by what is known as the Secondary Market.

The secondary market is comprised of investors who buy the loans made by banks, brokers, lenders, etc. and then either hold them for their earnings, or bundle them and sell them to other investors. When the secondary market sells the bundles of mortgages, there are end investors who are willing to pay a certain price for those loans.

That market price of those Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) is what impacts mortgage rates.

Typically, investors are willing to accept a lower return on mortgage backed securities because of their relative safety compared to other investments.

This perception of safety is due to the implied government backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the fact that the Mortgage Backed investments are based on real estate collateral. So, if the loan defaults there is real property pledged against potential losses.

In contrast, other investments are considered more risky, specifically stocks which are based on earnings and profit vs real property.  The movement between the two investment vehicles often dictates mortgage rates.

Why Do Mortgage Rates Change?

Mortgage rates fluctuate based on the market’s perception of the economy.

Stocks are considered riskier investments, and therefore have an expected higher rate of return to compensate for that risk. When the economy is thriving, it is presumed that companies will perform better, and therefore their stock prices will move higher. When stock prices move higher – MBS prices generally move lower.  Mortgage Backed Securities, however, thrive when the economy is perceived as not doing well. When investors forecast a faltering economy, they worry that the return on stocks will be lower, so they frequently engage in a ‘flight to safety’ and buy more secure investments such as Mortgage Backed Securities.  Mortgage rates are actually based on the yield of those Mortgage Backed Securities.

Bonds are sold at a particular price based on their value in relation to other available investments.  When a bond is sold it yields a certain return based on that original purchase price.  As the prices of the MBS increases because investors seek their safety, the yield decreases. Conversely, when investors seek the higher returns of stocks and the MBS are purchased in lesser quantities the price goes down.  The lower price results in a higher yield, and this yield is what determines mortgage rates.

How Would I Know if Rates are Expected to Go Up or Down?

UP:

When the economy is growing or is expected to grow, stocks will likely become the more favored investment.

When investors buy more stocks, they purchase fewer MBS, which drives the price down.

When the price of the MBS is lower, the yield increases.

Since mortgage rates are based on the yield of the 30 Year MBS, you would expect rates to increase in this environment.

DOWN:

When the economy appears to be slowing or is doing poorly, investors typically move their money out of the stock market and into the safety of the MBS.

This drives the price of these investments higher, which results in a lower yield.

Since mortgage rates are based on the yield of the 30 Year MBS, you would expect rates to decrease in this environment.

Since these market variables and expectations change multiple times as economic reports are released throughout the course of a week, it is not uncommon to see mortgage rates change several times a day.

Understanding how rates move is not necessarily as important as having a loan officer that is equipped with the technology and professional services to track and stay alerted at the precise moment rates make a move for the better or worse.

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Why Do I Need To Pay A VA Funding Fee?

The VA Funding Fee is an essential component of the VA home loan program, and is a requirement of any Veteran taking advantage of this zero down payment government loan program.

This fee ranges from 1.25% to 3.3% of the loan amount, depending upon the circumstances.

On a $150,000 loan that’s an additional $1,875 to almost $5,000 in cost just for the benefit of using the VA home loan.

The good news is that the VA allows borrowers to finance this cost into the home loan without having to include it as part of the closing costs.

For buyers using their VA loan guarantee for the first time on a zero down loan, the Funding Fee would be 2.15%.

For example, on a $150,000 loan amount, the VA Funding Fee could total $3,225, which would increase the monthly mortgage payment by $18 if it were financed into the new loan.

So basically, the incremental increase to a monthly payment is not very much if you choose to finance the Funding Fee.

Historical Trivia:

Under VA’s founding law in 1944 there was no Funding Fee; the guaranty VA offered lenders was limited to 50 percent of the loan, not to exceed $2,000; loans were limited to a maximum 20 years, and the interest rate was capped at 4 percent.

The VA loan was originally designed to be readjustment aid to returning veterans from WWII and they had 2 years from the war’s official end before their eligibility expired. The program was meant to help them catch up for the lost years they sacrificed.

However, the program has obviously evolved to a long term housing benefit for veterans.

The first Funding Fee was ½% and was enacted in 1966 for the sole purpose of building a reserve fund for defaults. This remained in place only until 1970. The Funding Fee of ½% was re-instituted in 1982 and has been in place ever since.

The Amount Of Funding Fee A Borrower Pays Depends On:

  • The type of transaction (refinance versus purchase)
  • Amount of equity
  • Whether this is the first use or subsequent use of the borrower’s VA loan benefit
  • Whether you are/were regular military or Reserve or National Guard

*Disabled veterans are exempt from paying a Funding Fee

The table of Funding Fees can be accessed via VA’s website – CLICK HERE

The main reason for a Veteran to select the VA home loan instead of another program is due to the zero down payment feature.

However, if the Veteran plans on making a 20% or more down payment, the VA loan might not be the best choice because a conventional loan would have a similar interest rate, but without the Funding Fee expense.

The best way to view the VA Funding Fee is that it is a small cost to pay for the benefit of not needing to part with thousands of dollars in down payment.

* Disclaimer – all information is accurate as of the time this article was written *

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Why Do I Need Mortgage Insurance?

Mortgage Insurance, sometimes referred to as Private Mortgage Insurance, is required by lenders on conventional home loans if the borrower is financing more than 80% Loan-To-Value.

According to Wikipedia:

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is insurance payable to a lender or trustee for a pool of securities that may be required when taking out a mortgage loan.

It is insurance to offset losses in the case where a mortgagor is not able to repay the loan and the lender is not able to recover its costs after foreclosure and sale of the mortgaged property.

PMI isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it allows borrowers to purchase a property by qualifying for conventional financing with a lower down payment.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) simply protects your lender against non-payment should you default on your loan. It’s important to understand that the primary and only real purpose for mortgage insurance is to protect your lender—not you. As the buyer of this coverage, you’re paying the premiums so that your lender is protected. PMI is often required by lenders due to the higher level of default risk that’s associated with low down payment loans. Consequently, its sole and only benefit to you is a lower down payment mortgage

Private Mortgage Insurance and Mortgage Protection Insurance

Private mortgage insurance and mortgage protection insurance are often confused.

Though they sound similar, they’re two totally different types of insurance products that should never be construed as substitutes for each other.

  • Mortgage protection insurance is essentially a life insurance policy designed to pay off your mortgage in the event of your death.
  • Private mortgage insurance protects your lender, allowing you to finance a home with a smaller down-payment.

Automatic Termination

Thanks to The Homeowner’s Protection Act (HPA) of 1998, borrowers have the right to request private mortgage insurance cancellation when they reach a 20 percent equity in their mortgage. What’s more, lenders are required to automatically cancel PMI coverage when a 78 percent Loan-to-Value is reached.

Some exceptions to these provisions, such as liens on property or not keeping up with payments, may require further PMI coverage.

Also, in many instances your PMI premium is often tax deductible in a similar fashion as the interest paid each year on your mortgage is tax deductible. Please, check with a tax expert to learn your tax options.

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How Do I Calculate My Mortgage Payment Without Using A Mortgage Calculator?

Calculating an exact mortgage payment without a calculator on a loan is no small task, but there are some simple rules-of-thumb you can use to get a close estimate.

With the exception of the MIT Blackjack Team, performing this type of complex math in your head often leads to frustrating rants.

When coming up with a rough estimate, it is important to understand the individual components that factor into the overall monthly mortgage payment.

Yes, the thousands of dollars you send to your lender every year may cover more than just the mortgage, but referring to one simple formula will help you gauge what the new payment will be as you’re out looking for new properties that may be in your price range.

What’s In A Mortgage Payment?

A mortgage consists of 4-6 parts:

  • Principal – the balance of the loan
  • Interest – the fee paid to borrow the mortgage money
  • Property Taxes – based on county assessed value and residence type
  • Hazard Insurance – in the case of fire or property damage (may include a separate flood policy)
  • Mortgage Insurance – more than 80% LTV on conventional loans, or with FHA financing

Most lenders use the acronym (PITI), which includes Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance.

And in the case where a separate Mortgage Insurance Premium is required, we add another “I” to the end of that creative series of letters.

Another monthly expense that you have to consider is the monthly dues that come with properties that have a homeowner’s association (common in condominiums and other developments). This isn’t a payment made to your lender, but you will have to qualify with that payment and it is also best practice for you to factor that in the monthly cost of your new home.

Confused yet? Don’t worry, this is slightly easier than most state bar exams.

The Mortgage Payment Cheat Sheet:

Ok, you’ve made it this far and haven’t closed your browser, so that is a good thing.

Please keep in mind, this top secret formula will by no means be exact.

Mortgage Payment Formula:

For every $1000 you borrower, your TOTAL monthly mortgage payment will be $8.

So, if you purchase a home for $250,000 with a $50,000 down payment – borrowing a total of $200,000, then a good estimated total monthly PITI payment would be roughly $1600.

But don’t forget to add your homeowners association dues to that monthly payment.

What If I Pay Taxes and Insurance Separately?

Well now we’re at the easy part. If you elect to pay taxes separate from your mortgage, the cheat sheet is reduced from $8 per $1000 down to $6 per $1000.

So there you have it. $8 for every $1000 borrowed.

Again, please keep in mind that this is not going to give you an EXACT payment. You may be purchasing a property with higher real estate taxes or your insurance premiums may be higher than average depending on the state you live in.

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Do I Have To Continue Making My Mortgage Payment If My Lender Goes Bankrupt?

When mortgage lenders go out of business and are essentially taken over by the FDIC, homeowners are left wondering if they still need to make a monthly payment.

Great thought, and a very common question for many borrowers in the 2006-2010 timeframe.

The short answer is YES, you still have to continue making mortgage payments if your current lender files for bankruptcy or disappears over the weekend.

In order to give a more thorough answer to this popular topic, we’ll need to address the relationship between mortgage loans as liens and mortgage servicers who make money by handling payments.

To put this topic in perspective, 381 banks actually filed bankruptcy between 2006 and 2010 forcing them to cease their mortgage lending activities. And a common misconception borrowers have about their mortgage company is that their agreement should become obsolete once the lender files for bankruptcy or goes out of business.

Based on the way mortgage money is made, packaged and sold on the secondary market as a mortgage backed security, the promissory note (agreement) is actually spread between many investors who rely on a servicing company to collect and manage the monthly payments.

A mortgage is considered a secured asset, where the collateral is real estate.  And, the mortgage note has a separate value to investors and servicers based on the interest and servicing fees they have wrapped up in the monthly payments.

This is why many mortgage notes get sold to other servicers who pay for the rights to service your loan. So basically, even if a mortgage company is bankrupt, someone else is willing to take on the job of collecting payments.

Also, by signing a mortgage note, the borrower is committing to continue making the required payments, regardless of what happens to the mortgage company servicing your loan.

Bullets:

  • Your house is an asset
  • The mortgage note has a separate value to investors
  • Regardless what happens to your mortgage company, you need to make your payments

Also, it’s important to continue making your mortgage payments on time, regardless of which servicing company is sending a monthly statement.  Obviously, keep a good paper trail of those mortgage payments in case there is a mix-up between transitions.

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Is There A Rule-of-Thumb Regarding The Number Of Credit Lines To Have Open?

While the actual credit score has a big impact on a loan approval, it’s not the only component of the credit scenario that underwriters consider for a mortgage approval.

Since loan programs, individual lenders and mortgage insurance companies all have their own credit report restrictions, it’s difficult to define a standard Rule-of-Thumb to follow.

However, the number of “Open and Active Trade Lines” seems to be the common denominator in most approvals.

A trade line is basically a credit card, installment loan or other credit liability that is reported to the credit bureaus and displayed on a credit report.

Credit Trade Line / Approval Bullets:

  • Banks usually won’t count a trade line that is less than 12 months old.
  • The minimum number of trade lines most lenders find acceptable is 4 open and active trade lines.
  • Lenders like to see at least one credit line of $5,000, or all credit lines to total $1,000 or more.

Exceptions to Trade Line Rules:

Interestingly enough, a recent list of Mortgage Insurance requirements included a favorable trade line requirement, which read:

Min 3 trade lines @ 12 mo reporting. Cannot be ‘authorized user’

Basically, this means as long as the lender, and the loan program allow for less than 4 trade lines, this mortgage insurance company will accept only 3 trade lines that are in the borrower’s name.

Another exception to this rule is if you have no FICO score, and no negative trade lines.

In this case you may qualify for an “alternative credit” loan. The most common loan of this type is insured by FHA, but there are select programs that are usually targeted to assist people whose culture does not trust or use banks.

Borrowers applying for a non-traditional credit loan will still need to prove they have successfully paid their bills on time for 12 months by clearly documenting at least four creditors.  A verification of rent from a property management company, power, utilities, cell phone… are alternative sources of credit that can be used.

*A letter from a landlord or creditor stating that the bills were paid on time is not acceptable forms of proof.  Lenders will need canceled checks and / or copies of bank statements to start out with.

Since not all companies report to credit bureaus, it’s possible to get a complimentary credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com to verify your total reported trade lines.

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What’s The Difference Between A Primary Residence, Second Home and Investment Property?


When applying for a mortgage, a borrower’s “Occupancy Type” is a major factor in the amount of down payment required, loan program available and mortgage interest rate.

Whether you are purchasing, doing a rate/term refinance or taking equity out of your property through a cash out refinance, occupancy type is always considered by the underwriter.

Three Types of Occupancy:

Owner Occupied / Primary Residence -

According to HUD, a principal residence is a property that will be occupied by the borrower for the majority of the calendar year.

At least one borrower must occupy the property and sign the security instrument and the mortgage note for the property to be considered owner-occupied.

Second Home -

To qualify as a second home, the property typically must be at least 50 miles from the primary residence, and it cannot appear that the real estate is being purchased for rental investment purposes.

Investment Property -

A property that is not occupied by the owner and is typically utilized for rental income purposes.

Down Payment Requirements:

Owner Occupied / Primary Residence -

Purchases for VA and USDA can go up to 100% financing, while FHA requires 3.5% of the purchase price as a down payment.  Conventional financing may require anywhere from 5% – 25% depending on the credit score, county, property type and loan amount.

Second Home -

Average 10% down for a purchase, and 25% equity for a refinance.

Investment Property -

Down payment requirements will range from 20-25% depending on the number of units.  When doing a cash-out refinance on an investment property with 2-4 units, the required loan to value will need to be 70% or lower to qualify.

…..

*It should be noted that on any high balance loan amount the above mentioned Loan-to-Value (LTV) requirements will change. Credit score requirements also apply.

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