Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Must see TV - new 'n' improved WBIR.com

Friends, family, countrymen...

Tonight at midnight, we launch the new 'n' improved WBIR.com. We're all working feverishly to get it up and running, and you can check it out here: beta.wbir.com

I have a special request for those of you who are willing. I'd love to get some discussions underway in our new WBIR.com forums, which I am still building out.

So if you get a minute, pop on over to the WBIR Online Community right
here: http://beta.wbir.com/life/community/forums.aspx

Register (which you do at the top of the page where it says "become a
member") and do some talking. I know you all are good at that.

It's my task to get the forums up and running, and any help you want to give me with getting the conversation going will be most appreciated.



Monday, April 28, 2008

College Graduation: Should You Go to Europe or Buy House?

You’ve graduated college and start your new job in a month. With graduation cash to burn, should you go on vacation or invest in a home?

Congratulations! You’ve done it. You’ve spent all that time at the library, sweated out those exams and are actually going to walk down the aisle in cap and gown. Not to mention, you have your real first job! You went through the recruitment center at school and someone actually hired you. What an exciting time in your life! Now, what to do with all that graduation cash you’re raking in? Should you buy a Eurail pass and plan a back pack trip to Europe? Or, better yet, should you buy a house?

Wow. Buy a house? Aren’t you too young? That sounds awfully grown up, doesn’t it? Personally, I probably would go to Europe if I were a recent graduate with a fist full of graduation dollars. I never really thought things through when I was young and adventurous. I’m paying for it now. But, if that opportunity had presented itself to me, I would like someone to have made me think twice about it. Besides, the dollar isn’t doing so well in Europe right now. It’s sound advice to which even I would have listened at young age.

Recent college graduates can qualify for a home loan, but it depends on a few things. A big hurdle is a down payment. There are 100% financing opportunities out there, but they aren’t as readily negotiated as they formerly have been. What better graduation gift to ask for than a home down payment? Also, I’d be willing to bet that Aunt Ginger may be more generous with her checkbook if she knows you’re saving to buy a house and not a keg of beer. Typically, you need to have 3% of your home purchase price saved, and can negotiate for the seller to pay some if not all of the closing costs. So, if you were buying a $100,000 home, you should have about $3,000 in your bank account. That’s a good starting point.

How’s your credit? Like most college kids, do you already have a credit card in your name? I hope you’ve been paying it on time. Good credit is a pre-requisite for any mortgage these days. You aren’t too young to establish good credit. If you have none, open a credit card, put your gas on it each month, and then pay it off each month. Before you know it, you will have established a good credit history. Most of you already have taken these steps.

Typically, a mortgage lender will approve a recent college graduate for a loan if their new income supports their debt, the aforementioned items aren’t an issue and they are on the job by the day of closing. In fact, if you have a contract for employment, you may even be able to close on a home loan prior to starting your new job, but you better have a solid contract and plans to start very soon (providing your first pay stub after closing is common)! In addition, you will also have show evidence to your lender that you’ve been in school for the past few years. Typically a copy of your diploma will suffice. If you don’t have one of those nifty wallet sized copies, you can bring your actual diploma to your lender and have it photocopied. (I’ve had to unroll them from their packaging tube and gingerly lay them out on the copy glass, careful not to mar them).

There are many arguments to why buying a home is smarting then renting. You aren’t “throwing away” money in rent, you’re investing for your future, and if your loan program is one that lets you rent out a bedroom to a buddy, you can actually put a little cash back into your pocket. And if you are able to put a little moola aside quickly, maybe deferring that European trip isn’t such a bad idea after all!
Let My Experience Work For You!
Email your home loan financing questions to Kristin Abouelata, Home Loan Specialist with Mortgage Investors Group, at question@kristinmortgage.com or call direct: (865) 567-0113 Toll Free: 1-800-489-8910. For more information visit her website at http://www.kristinmortgage.com/ Home Loans Plain Talk.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Free Money! - Save $200.00 on your Home Loan

If you or someone you know is looking for a home loan or to refinance - give me a call and save $200.00 on closing costs.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Putting the Brakes on Retirement Budget Crunch: The Reverse Mortgage

There is a resource out there for retirees that can improve financial security and improve your quality of life…..

Sometimes the Golden Years aren’t as bright as you had hoped. It should be a time for you to spend time with family, do the things you never had time to do and always wanted to, and enjoy life in general. But many people face financial challenges at this point in their lives. Perhaps your retirement plan didn’t pan out (any Enron victims out there?). Or, maybe the recent cost of living increases weren’t originally in your budget plan. If this scenario sounds familiar, than a reverse mortgage maybe an option to consider.

What is a reverse mortgage? It’s a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, also known as a HECM (pronounced “heck-um” by all us mortgage people). It is a government insured program that allows a person of age 62 years or older access to monthly cash by tapping into the existing equity in their home.

There are different HECM products out there, but there are some features and safeguards you should seek if you are considering this move. Make sure that the program you are considering allows you to retain title to your home. Also, the loan should be non-recourse, or in other words, you should never owe more than your house is worth. The loan should not have to be repaid until you permanently leave or sell the home. And also, you should be asked to take a counseling class (conducted by someone other than a HECM lender) to ensure you understand the terms of the mortgage. And before you make that final decision, talk to your kids, your attorney or someone who cares about you and whom you trust. Don’t take the plunge until you’re certain this plan will work to your advantage.

A HECM is designed to deliver increased tax-free monthly income to most people (double check this point with your financial counselor) and eliminate monthly mortgage payments. So, it’s different from just your basic home equity line of credit. There is also no income limitation to fret about. The amount of money you can receive depends on things such as your age, how much your home is worth, the current market rates and which HECM product you pick. In general, the older you are and the more your home is worth, the more money could be available to you. Most HECM’s have costs similar to a regular mortgage, but make sure you do your homework. You can get a conventional or an FHA HECM. Your mortgage counselor will help you figure out which best fits your needs.

For many people, a reverse mortgage makes a lot of sense. It can allow you to live in your current home more comfortably, and still do those things you’ve always wanted to do. So, maybe taking the grandkids to Disney isn’t out of reach. Or skydiving lessons can still be a consideration. Or maybe you just need a new roof on the house. If you aren’t living the life you deserve or expected, you owe it to yourself to see if this option works for you. Talk to your kids, advisors or friends and see what they think. And if the stars align, maybe you should reverse the direction of your retirement budget.

Let My Experience Work For You!
Email your home loan financing questions to Kristin Abouelata, Home Loan Specialist with Mortgage Investors Group, at question@kristinmortgage.com or call direct: (865) 567-0113 Toll Free: 1-800-489-8910. For more information visit her website at www.kristinmortgage.com Home Loans Plain Talk.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Looking for a house? Negotiate from a position of strength and get pre-qualified now

If you know exactly what you can afford and what works within your budget you will have the tools to negotiate the best price for your new home.

Decide up front what you are willing to spend each month on a mortgage. Do not put yourself in a position of letting your emotions take over and offering more than you are comfortable with spending. Just because you can afford it on paper does not mean it fits your lifestyle. So, before you shop – figure out what you can afford and what you are willing to spend. Set that number in stone and start shopping.

If you want to get pre-qualified click here to get an online application with Kristin Abouelata Loan Office with Mortgage Investors Group.


Or call (865) 567-0113 to set up an appointment or apply over the phone.
Let My Experience Work For You!
Email your home loan financing questions to Kristin Abouelata, Home Loan Specialist with Mortgage Investors Group, at question@kristinmortgage.com or call direct: (865) 567-0113 Toll Free: 1-800-489-8910. For more information visit her website at www.kristinmortgage.com Home Loans Plain Talk.

Your Mortgage: Your Biggest Debt, Your Biggest Tax Deduction

Many people out there are considering buying a home, but are wary to incur what is most likely their largest debt ever. But you should know, that this debt can work to your advantage when the tax man comes knocking…….

It’s almost April 15th, and my husband just bounded down the stairs to announce that he finally finished up what needed to be done to submit our taxes for the year. Some years we make it by the deadline, some years we don’t. We both work on commission, and depending on the how the year went, we’re less excited about this time of year than others. When we actually don’t file an extension, we’re kind of proud of ourselves. It got me to thinking about paying Uncle Sam, and what one advantage we have working in our favor. We are homeowners.

So what’s the big deal about being a homeowner when tax time rolls around? Well, what many people who have never owned a home may not know is that your mortgage is not only your largest debt, but also it can be your largest write off as well. (And honestly, there are probably plenty of homeowners out there whose accountants prepare their taxes for them, and they never really noticed how much this write off counts!).

This time of year, many folks are digging through file folders, nooks and crannies to find charity receipts, business receipts and any other write off they can remember. How does the old saying go? You can’t escape death or taxes. And tax time can make you feel like your facing death anyway. But what some people who’ve never owned a home don’t realize is that you can deduct all the interest from the past year you’ve paid monthly on your mortgage payment from your annual gross income. Yep. You read that correctly. And may I remind you that during the honeymoon phase of your mortgage repayment, the majority of what you pay (unless it’s an interest only loan) goes toward interest, not principal reduction. So think about it: potentially, this tax deduction could pop you into a lower tax bracket if the numbers work out.

In January of every year, your mortgage servicer will send you a statement that reflects the amount of interest you paid, and you can reflect this amount on your 1040 as a deduction (or you can tally up the amount from your checkbook). What’s more, unlike the majority of deductions, you get to count ALL of the interest portion of your payments you made last year. So, buying a home versus renting can make even more sense for you. Not only are you living in a home that will increase in value over time, you also have all that interest to write off in April. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Understandably, the tax break is only a side benefit to owning a home. The biggest value is having a place to call your own that you and your family love. But, writing a smaller check come April sure would feel good, too. Don’t you agree? So, if you’ve been considering buying a home, perhaps this bit of knowledge will be the final nudge that makes you move forward. And next year, you can look forward to a new advantage at tax time.

Let My Experience Work For You!Email your home loan financing questions to Kristin Abouelata, Home Loan Specialist with Mortgage Investors Group, at question@kristinmortgage.com or call direct: (865) 567-0113 Toll Free: 1-800-489-8910. For more information visit her website at www.kristinmortgage.com Home Loans Plain Talk.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mortgage Amortization...Avoid Paying the Piper Too Much

When obtaining a home mortgage, understanding what amortization is and how it can affect your pocketbook is an important concept to understand……

Amortization. Big word. And an important word in the loan world. It doesn’t matter whether you’re getting a loan for a boat, car or home - it’s an important concept to grasp. Of course, I’m going to focus on how understanding your loan amortization is important when considering home loan financing. It can mean a big difference in the amount of cash you shell out toward your home mortgage over time.

Amortization is the repayment, systematically, of calculated principal and interest to a lender over a designated period of time. Calculating an amortization schedule is a not an easy task. Thankfully, some really smart mathematical whizzes came up with tools that do it for us automatically. You can just punch in the numbers and print out a schedule. You can find online tools to assist you if you’re sitting at home and curious to see your current schedule. Or dig through your folder of loan closing documents. You should be able to dredge up a copy. And if you’re considering a home loan, your lender should be able to provide you with amortization schedules for different financing scenarios.

What does an amortization schedule look like? Pages and pages of numbers that finally end up reflecting your loan balance paid off. It points out to you, payment by payment, exactly how much of your monthly loan payment is directed toward principal reduction, lender collected interested, and escrow payments (if you have your lender pay your taxes and insurance for you). Also, you can see on the Truth In Lending statement just exactly how much money you’ll be paying out of pocket over the full amortization period if you only make your minimum monthly payments. It’s enlightening. Or some say, nauseating. The fact of the matter is that 85% (or more) of your house payment on the first pages of the amortization schedule go mainly toward interest fees. It’s not till the back few pages that your payment really starts chipping away at principal.

So how can you avoid paying so much more money back to a lender than you’re actually borrowing? By making extra principal payments monthly. You may be surprised to know that by paying additional money towards principal monthly, (make sure to write a separate check and mark it “principal payment”), you can chip off years of your loan repayment schedule and keep money in your pocket. For instance, if you have a 30 year fixed mortgage for $150,000 at 6%, paying an extra $50 per month will save you $26,673 in interest and pay off your loan approximately 4 years early. You can also achieve similar results by making a lump sum principal payment a year (maybe budget part of a yearly bonus toward this goal). Why this scenario works is that by reducing the principal more quickly over time, there’s less of a lump sum debt to calculate interest against. Make sense?

So stay in once a month, skip that new pair of shoes or Wii game. Put the money toward your principal. Or when pre-qualifying for a home, include an extra principal payment in your budget. Lower your “payment comfort level” a tad to allow for an extra monthly principal payment you intend to make. You’ll really see the benefit of doing so in the long run!


Let My Experience Work For You!
Email your home loan financing questions to Kristin Abouelata, Home Loan Specialist with Mortgage Investors Group, at question@kristinmortgage.com or call direct: (865) 567-0113 Toll Free: 1-800-489-8910. For more information visit her website at http://www.kristinmortgage.com/ Home Loans Plain Talk.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

FHA and Down Payment Assistance: It’s Truly Gifted

Down Payment Assistance programs are designed to assist a home buyer with their 3% minimum investment on an FHA loan. It’s a nice gift to get!

If you qualify for an FHA loan to buy a home, traditionally you should be prepared to come up with 3% of final sales price in out of pocket funds to put down on the transaction. It’s a requirement. You can’t really get around it in on a home loan purchase. You can finance 97.75% of the loan amount, but you still have to have the remaining 1.25% of the aforementioned to put toward closing costs. Anyway you look at it, you need 3%.

Well, all is not forsaken. There is another way to come up with the 3% that doesn’t require hawking grandma’s pearl necklace or selling your 2nd car. There are down payment assistance programs out there to lend a helping hand. They can be considered a “gift”, and they are available for FHA loans that are single family and 1-4 unit dwellings. The two big names are AmeriDream, Inc. and The Nehemiah Program, and they provide these gift funds to qualified homebuyers.

How much in gift funds can be made available to you? 1% to 6% of the final contract sales price or a flat gift amount not to exceed 6% of the final contract sales price. And, in addition to the gift from AmeriDream or Nehemiah, the seller can contribute between 1% and 6% of final sales price toward the borrower’s closing costs. So, here’s the big secret, you can basically obtain an FHA loan with little or no down payment if you qualify.

How is this scenario possible? Well, it all depends on the deal you’re getting on the house. Basically, the seller is financing the down payment gift by not netting as much on the sale of the home. The seller or the lender also must pay the “down payment processing fee”, so your closing costs are going to go up $350-500. But, if you are buying a home below the lender’s appraised value, it can work!

Here’s an example. Say John and Susie Homebuyer have excellent credit but no cash to put down on a property. They are working with a great realtor who finds a home for sale that’s worth $120,000, but it’s generally acknowledged the seller will accept around $100,000 for it. The closing costs will run about $4500 (including the gift processing fee) and John and Suzie must invest $3,000 (3% of $100K) of their own money in the transaction per FHA guidelines. So, John and Suzie offer the seller $107,500. The seller agrees to participate in the Down Payment Assistance program and contribute $3,000 toward the buyer’s closing costs. This contribution becomes the “gift.” In addition, the seller agrees to pay $4500 in closing costs. The seller nets $100,000 from the transaction as anticipated, and the buyers pay the 3% down payment via a “gift” from AmeriDream or Nehemiah. The appraisal comes in comfortably above asking price and everyone’s happy.

The down payment assistance programs mentioned are large and respected community development programs, and they are a great deal for homeowners if they qualify and the seller agrees to contribute. With sellers willing to make sales concessions lately, it’s an excellent market for AmeriDream or Nehemiah. It’s critical that your realtor understand that you want to utilize these programs when you negotiate. Make sure they are aware of it and if need be, have your loan officer and realtor communicate with one another prior to house hunting. It’s also useful to have your lender prepare a good faith estimate for you prior to making an offer on a specific home so you can make sure all your numbers work and the offer is worded correctly with all the proper forms attached. And the good news is the programs still work with some of the competitive first time homebuyer programs out there like Tennessee Housing Development Agency with below market rates (but you don’t have to be a first time homebuyer).

So, who says you can’t get 100% financing anymore?

Let My Experience Work For You!

Email your home loan financing questions to Kristin Abouelata, Home Loan Specialist with Mortgage Investors Group, at question@kristinmortgage.com or call
direct: (865) 567-0113
Toll Free: 1-800-489-8910.

For more information visit her website at http://www.kristinmortgage.com/ Home Loans Plain Talk.
Truth and Lending, Mortgage Rates, home loan financing, credit reports, Home Loan Plain Talk, Mortgage Specialist, Kristin Abouelata