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What Does My Credit Score Even Mean?

What does my credit score even mean?

As we all know, credit can either help us turn our dreams into a reality or it can be the one road block that keeps getting in the way. What does my credit score even mean?

What is credit?

The credit scoring system was originally designed in the 1950’s to help lenders determine how well consumers could pay back borrowed money. While there have been many updates to how this system is used, the components of a credit score consist of these major factors:

  • Payment History – 35% Impact
  • Outstanding Credit Card Balances – 30% Impact
  • Credit History – 15% Impact
  • Inquiries or New Credit – 10% Impact
  • Types of Credit – 10% Impact

 

What can impact my credit score?

Paying off debts on time has the greatest positive impact on your credit score. Late payments, judgments and charge-offs all have a negative impact. Keeping lower balances on the open credit accounts you have is a sure way to keep that score going up! The longer you have positive credit history, the better. However, multiple credit inquiries in a short period of time, such as applying for multiple credit cards, can have a negative influence on your score. The type of credit you have is also a factor. Having a mix of credit, such as an auto loan and a credit card, is more positive than a combination of debt from multiple credit cards.

What if I don’t have any or enough credit?

There are simple ways to begin building credit history. Start establishing credit history by opening  a small line of credit with your bank or credit union and begin making minor purchases that can be easily paid off. Your bank may offer a secured credit card if this is your first time applying for credit. This type of card works like a debit card and will require deposited funds for purchases; just be sure your history will be reported to all three credit bureaus.

What if I have less than perfect credit when applying to purchase a home?

Knowing what is on your credit report is the first step. Obtaining a credit report will show which areas are helping your score and which areas need to be worked on. When applying for a mortgage, your loan officer will be able to see if there are any areas that need work to help you get on the right track for a future purchase.

Want to find out where you stand? Let’s get the conversation started.

https://alphamortgageapplication.com/

 

To keep up with all things mortgage, housing, and real estate, be sure to subscribe to our blog! Here at Alpha Mortgage, we’re proud to be North Carolina’s #1 mortgage company. Contact us today to make owning your dream home a reality.

Which Loan Type is Right for Me?

Searching for the right loan program

Cutting Through the Confusion

Getting lost in all the mortgage lingo? You are not alone. According to a study performed by the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, “many borrowers say they get too much information when they go through the home-lending process…” Working with an experienced mortgage lender will save you a world of frustration by cutting through all the confusion. Your Lender will present the relevant information to get you on your way to moving day!

Which Program is Right for Me?

When purchasing a new home, a little research can go a long way. Asking the right questions will help us identify the right program that meets your needs.

  • Are you a first-time homebuyer?
  • Are you active or retired military?
  • Where is your future home located?
  • Which government programs do you qualify for?\

Common Loan Programs

You may have heard of these common loan programs: Conventional, VA, FHA, USDA, ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage), Jumbo…but what do they mean?

Conventional

The conventional mortgage is the most commonly used loan program for borrowers with good credit and steady income and can be used for purchasing a primary residence, second home or rental property. Conventional loans do require a down payment that can be as low as 3% of the purchase price of the home. PMI, or private mortgage insurance, is required when the down payment on the home is less than 20%. After 20% equity has been built up, the loan becomes eligible to have PMI removed.

VA

As a thank you in advance for those who are currently active duty, retired military or eligible reservists, this loan program offers veterans 0% down payment! The VA loan is guaranteed by the Veterans Administration and is government insured. Rather than having a monthly mortgage insurance fee, this loan program has a VA funding fee that is calculated into the initial loan amount. For borrowers who are considered disabled, the VA funding fee is waived entirely.

From all of us here at Alpha Mortgage Corporation, thank you for your service!

FHA

Insured by the Federal Housing Administration, the FHA loan requires a down payment as low as 3.5% and comes with a maximum loan amount that is determined by the location of the property. The FHA loan is helpful to borrowers who may have a higher debt to income ratio and allows for less than perfect credit. The FHA loan program does require PMI, or private mortgage insurance.

USDA

The USDA loan is insured by the US Department of Agriculture and is offered if your potential property is located in a USDA acceptable rural area. One of the benefits of the USDA loan is that it offers 0% down payment. Check here for USDA eligibility and income limitations: https://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/welcomeAction.do;jsessionid=12MOUsHhXtG476sIGOnK5FRY#

JUMBO

The Jumbo loan is meant for loan amounts exceeding $453,100. In order to qualify for the Jumbo loan, borrowers must have a higher credit score.

 

To keep up with all things mortgage, housing, and real estate related, be sure to subscribe to our blog! Here at Alpha Mortgage, we’re proud to be North Carolina’s #1 mortgage company. Contact us today to make owning your dream home a reality.

 

FHA Mortgage Insurance Rates in 2017

If you’ve recently been on the market to purchase a home or secure a mortgage, you are probably very familiar with FHA Mortgage Insurance rates. It had recently been in the works that the FHA was going to be reducing FHA Mortgage Insurance rates in the near future, but the FHA has since backtracked. Here’s what you need to know, and how it will affect you as a homebuyer:

The FHA, a sector of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is a government agency that insures loans on homes and protects lenders in the case of default by collecting fees owed to reimburse lenders when necessary. The FHA usually insures first-time home buyers that may not have the best credit. In the past, the avg. credit score was 679. There have also always been limits on the price of a loan the FHA will back.

In late January, the Trump administration stopped a rate cut that was proposed by Obama just a week before he left office. The Obama administration originally proposed the cut because the FHA could withstand the cut to premiums that would in turn save homebuyers extra money, which they argued would be the best thing to do since the FHA has improved vastly since its bailout in 2013. If implemented, the premium rates would drop a quarter of a percentage point, which would restore rates back to what they were before the housing crash.  The Trump administration suspended the cut with the concern that if the FHA was unable to cover the losses from reduced premiums, taxpayers could end up paying.

So what does this mean? While nothing has officially changed, it has been a HUGE headache for the industry. Approximately 40,000 people are estimated to be priced out of home ownership, while another 800,000 will have to pay more than anticipated. When it comes down to it, if you had originally planned on using the FHA-backed loan with lower insurance rates, all this news really means is that you will just still have to pay the same rate required since January 2015- unless of course, you have to adjust your home-buying plans altogether. While the cut hasn’t been totally eliminated, nobody is certain if this cut will get back on the table for approval anytime soon.

To keep up with all things mortgage, housing, and real estate, be sure to subscribe to our blog! Here at Alpha Mortgage, we’re proud to be North Carolina’s #1 mortgage company. Contact us today to make owning your dream home a reality.

 

 

Happy Holidays!

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Happy Holidays from your friends and family here at Alpha Mortgage! Can you believe it is almost 2017? As we reflect on this past year, we have seen a lot of changes. One thing however has stayed constant- our incredible clients in the Wilmington, Jacksonville, Fayetteville, New Bern, Greensboro, and Cary area. We are so proud to serve you in this great state of North Carolina, and look forward to another year of helping turn your home dreams into reality.

If you will be on the coast this holiday season, be sure to join in on the fun! Check out these last minute activities to take part in before the new year in Wilmington:

UNCW Men’s Basketball vs. East Carolina     

December 20, 2016
6:30 PM

The UNCW men’s basketball team (record: 10-1) tips off against East Carolina (7-4) in a non-conference game at Trask Coliseum in Wilmington. The Seahawks are 7th in the country in points per game with 89.6. Kids under 16 get in for $10.

Nights of Lights 

December 19, 2016 to December 20, 2016
4:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Bellamy Mansion Museum in downtown Wilmington, NC, presents Nights of Lights, a chance to view the historic property decorated for the Christmas season.

Holiday Lights Trolley Tour

December 15, 2016 to December 23, 2016

The Wilmington Tolley Company offers Holiday Lights Trolley Tours in historic downtown Wilmington, NC, at 6 and 7:30pm featuring music and narration in an enclosed and heated environment, and a great view of illuminated neighborhoods. Boarding at 101 Water Street.

Holiday Lights Cruise 

December 23, 2016
6:30 PM to 7:30 PM

Wilmington Water Tours presents a Holiday Lights Cruise, a chance to see the waterfront come alive in the holiday spirit.

Holiday Wine Tasting & Charcuterie Demo

December 21, 2016
4:00 PM

Tidal Creek Co-op in Wilmington, NC, presents a Holiday Wine Tasting & Charcuterie Demo featuring a selection of our wines just in time for the holiday weekend, and a sampling local meat, cheese, and other accoutrements to create a charcuterie platter.

Christmas Caroling with Santa and His Reindeer

December 16, 2016 to December 24, 2016
6:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Horsedrawn Tours in downtown Wilmington, NC, presents Christmas Caroling with Santa and His Special “Reindeer.” Free candy canes for the kids.

We hope you all enjoy this holiday season with your friends, family, and loved ones. On behalf of all of us at Alpha Mortgage, we wish you all a safe and a happy end to 2016. Let’s make 2017 the best year yet!

Housing For The Holidays

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With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday under our belts, the holiday season is officially in full swing and we couldn’t be happier about it! 2016 has been a whirlwind of a year, and on behalf of everyone at Alpha Mortgage, we are glad that we were able to make so many dream home ambitions a reality. So what’s going on in the housing world? We’re here to update you on what’s happening now, what to expect, and the best gifts to give your home the extra love it deserves this holiday season.

What’s happening- A Recap

As many of you know, mortgage rates have stayed relatively low for the past few years, and the market has favored sellers. Why? Recently, the housing market has been in high demand with very tight supply across the nation, which led to a new peak in home prices nationally in September 2016, according to CNBC. You know the deal- sellers can list as-is, and usually, drive up the price of the sale due to multiple offers because demand is so high.

Here’s the update- in early November 2016, mortgage rates raised for the first time since January from about 3.94 to close to 4.10. Why? A little thing called the United States of America’s Presidential Election. Don’t panic, the rates were the same at the beginning of 2016.

The FHFA also raised their conforming loan limits from $417,000 (which has been in place since 20016), to $424,100 which will be effective January 1st, 2017, and that means that house prices are going up enough to qualifies you to borrow more money starting in the new year.

Oh, and tiny homes are still a thing.

What to Expect

A holiday housing freeze- it is normal for sales and prices of homes to drop in the Winter months, following in suit of dropping temperatures, as well as increased spending on other things (hello holiday shopping). Longtime Realtor Kim McElroy explains to Realtor.com that “Typically, sales do slow down somewhat in the winter just because the focus is on the holidays and a lot of people do take their houses off the market,” says longtime Montgomery, AL-based Realtor Kim McElroy of Keller Williams Realty. “But I see a spike of interest and calls right after the holidays.”

Longforecast predicts that the 30-year mortgage rate for December 2016 will increase by 1.41% averaging a rate of 4.33, and also predict that January 2017’s average rate will be 4.28 or a -1.15% from December.

Expect the housing market to swing in the favor of buyers in the next 2-3 years due to increased supply from builders taking advantage of the lack of homes available.

Top 5 gifts under $250 to make your house a home

  1. Satechi iPhone Charging Stand – $25- Amazon- This is a great stocking stuffer for anyone who Facetimes, Cooks and uses their phone for recipes, or multitasks in general! It comes in 4 different finishes that match each phone color.

81ls-p3a3ul_sl1500_2. Ring Video Doorbell Pro– $249 – Amazon- See, hear, and speak to anyone at your door from your smartphone, tablet, or PC and get instant alerts when visitors press the doorbell.

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  1. Nest – Learning Home Thermostat– $249 – Amazon – Nest automatically adapts to your life, as well as when the seasons change. All you have to do is use it for a week, and it programs itself!61kyuqogkl-_sl1000_
  2. August Smart Lock– $229 – Amazon- Use your smartphone to lock, unlock, and monitor traffic on your doors.

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  1. Kohler Moxie Showerhead and Wireless Speaker– $92.50 – Amazon -Stream music playlists, news, and other audio in the shower.

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TRID – A Year Later

On October 3rd 2015, history was made in the mortgage industry when the TRID Rule, or the “Know Before You Owe” Rule was implemented in the United States. TRID was created in order to bridge the gap of transparency between borrowers, regulators, and lenders through more consumer-friendly documents and additional time restraints in the lending process with the hope of creating a more informed, and therefore better protected consumer. In the two years leading up to the implementation of TRID, those in the lending industry feared that additional paperwork and time would deter potential buyers. Once TRID was implemented, there were a few hiccups in the road, but the mortgage industry has been changed forever.

With a year of the implementation of TRID officially under America’s belt, we want to take a look back on the up’s, down’s, and still-to-come’s.

THE TRID TRAIN, A TIMELINE:

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November 2013: TRID unveiled to the lending industry with the proposed roll-out date to take place August 1st 2015. Cue industry-wide panic attacks due to the copious amounts of work they will have to do in order to adhere to the new rule (think technology and work process overhauls).

November 2013- June 2015: Everyone freaks out about the implementation of TRID, concurrent with an “administrative error” prompting the CFPB to change the start date to October 1st, 2015.

June 24th 2015-  A proposed amendment to TRID is released where the official start date of the “Know Before You Owe” rule will be October 3, 2015.

October 3, 2015- TRID goes into effect, and companies are mandated to comply. Many express concern and complaints that the CFPB is vague in some sections of TRID and the lack of guidance offered in the following months.

January 2016- Ellie Mae’s Origination Insight Report shows that total time to close has reached a high of 51 days, an indicator that the 6 days added in the process were being added to the total time instead of integrated in. Lending companies continue to complain about vagueness and lack of education from the CFPB regarding TRID.

July, 2016- The CFPB responds to concerns by lending companies and other businesses impacted by TRID and put some new changes into place regarding the secondary market to better help and inform lenders. The proposed changes include: tolerances for the total of payments, expanding the number of housing assistance loans that would qualify for exemptions, including cooperatives in the rule, and clarifying how a creditor could provide separate disclosure forms to the consumer and the seller.

August 2016- NAR surveyed 2,500 REALTORS to get their perspective of how the TRID rule was working which revealed that the majority saw no changes through the implementation of the rule.

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TRID IN 2017

While there were a few up’s, down’s, and hiccups in the past year for the lending industry (as expected with any major industry overhaul), it is apparent that TRID has been a mostly beneficial and much needed industry update for the consumer. As Pete Mills from the Mortgage Bankers Association stated, “TRID was a massive undertaking from a systems and business processes standpoint,” Although many anticipated the rule would significantly disrupt the closing process for consumers, the impact of TRID on consumers was mitigated because lenders and other participants in the closing process dutifully prepared for the final rule.”

Many lending companies are still making adjustments in their strategy with the implementation of the new rules, but with a year of adhering to TRID under their belt, lending companies are now analyzing ways to better streamline processes and resources to better serve their clients and integrate the additional 6 days in the process instead of adding them. Ready to own the house of your dreams? We’re here to help you from the beginning steps of your planning period all the way until you step through the doors of your new home. Contact us today at Alpha Mortgage!

 

Reverse Mortgages

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It’s no surprise to anyone when we say that the aging process is a difficult thing to handle financially. There are a growing number of seniors planning to retire soon that are struggling to figure out how they will continue to pay their mortgage, maintain their standard of living, and pay medical bills, make home improvements, etc. for many reasons. For many seniors, their home is their largest and most lucrative cash asset- and could be the golden answer in helping to solve their financial worries post-retirement. Enter reverse mortgages. With the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates at an all-time low, reverse mortgages are presenting themselves to be extremely appealing for home-owners aged 62 and older that are looking to tap into their home equity. This is why on March 1st, 2016, Alpha Mortgage started offering North Carolinian’s and Virginian’s reverse mortgages within their scope of services.

So what is a Reverse Mortgage?

According to the HUD, “A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan for homeowners 62-years or older that lets you convert a portion of the equity in your home into cash. Unlike a traditional home equity loan or second mortgage, HECM borrowers do not have to repay the HECM loan until the borrowers no longer use the home as their principal residence or fail to meet the obligations of the mortgage.” Borrowers are still responsible for property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and property maintenance, but a reverse mortgage requires no monthly mortgage payments, and borrowers do not have to pay back their loan balance until they die, sell, or move.

Reverse mortgages are extremely complicated, but are great for seniors that are cash broke/ property rich, or cash rich/ property rich. The interest and fees on the reverse mortgage are added to your loan balance each month. Over time, your home equity will decrease as your loan balance grows. It’s the reverse of a traditional mortgage. The rising loan balance can eventually grow to exceed the value of the home, however, as the borrower (or the borrower’s estate) you do not have to repay any additional loan balance over the value of your home. Wade Pfau of The American College and McLean Asset Management, highlights what consumers need to know about repaying a reverse mortgage with tips such as “Prior to death, selling, or moiving, repayments can be made voluntarily at any point to help reduce future interest due and to allow for a larger line of credit to grow for subsequent use. There is no penalty for early repayment.” Read more of his tips here.

 Why would I get a reverse mortgage?

Reverse mortgages can be used strategically for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons that people take out a reverse mortgage is to stay in their current home without having to worry about their current mortgage payment.

Many people also open a line of credit with access to the cash over time to supplement social security, 401k, unexpected costs, or unexpected medical costs. People also use reverse mortgages to pay off existing mortgages, purchase a new home that better suits their needs with age, or as retirement income plans.

Sounds Great- Am I eligible?

To be eligible to receive a reverse mortgage, you must be at least 62 years of age or older, the property must be either 1-4 unit primary residences, condominiums, or manufactured homes that meet FHA’s requirements, homeowners must own the property as their primary residence and should have substantial equity in the home, borrowers must not owe any back debt to the government, borrowers are required to maintain the property in good condition to protect the value of the home, pay their taxes annually, and pay for their home owner’s insurance in accordance to HUD guidelines.

So there you have it! Reverse mortgages are great options for seniors who are interested in tapping into their home’s equity. As we mentioned earlier, reverse mortgages are excellent solutions for seniors, but can also be complicated, and aren’t for everyone. To educate yourself further about reverse mortgages, please visit our website devoted entirely to reverse mortgages here. If you’re ready to take out a reverse mortgage today, contact us, and let Alpha Mortgage ease in your retirement process.

2016 Housing Market Predictions

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New Year, New Housing Market? Not so much. According to many housing predictions, 2016 will bring a whole lot of the same to the table. But is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. While 2015 was known as the best year for housing since 2007 due to many factors such as increased employment rates, implementation of TRID, and more, 2016 will also continue the housing market’s upswing- just not as exponentially.  We’ll start to secure a ‘normal’ in 2016. Remember that word?!

Here are our 2016 Housing Predictions:

  1. Increased Interest Rates– The Federal Reserve is expected to continue to raise interest rates in the short term between now and 2016’s end, & homeowners who have adjustable-rate mortgages or home equity loans will most likely see their interest rate rise as a result.  Housing wire goes as far to say that Fixed-rate mortgages will also rise, perhaps up one-half of a percentage point between now and the end of 2016, reaching 4.5% for 30-year loans. Despite this increase in interest rates, mortgage rates will remain historically low. If the rates do start to rise in 2016, as gradually as they may, we could see slightly lower home-buying numbers next year. But these changes will be minimal due to the continued increase in economic expansion and employment numbers- meaning more people are becoming able to afford houses.
  2. Evolving Mortgage Process – Mortgages may be in reach for more Americans in 2016 due to legislation that would allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to take into account new ways to measure creditworthiness like evaluating rental history and utility bill payments instead of just the FICO credit score. More loans may also allow buyers to include income from room rentals, etc. More lenders are continuing to ease credit standards, and don’t see that changing in the future.  This is good news for potential homebuyers!
  3. Increased Housing PricesReverse Mortgage Daily reports that appreciation in national home price indexes will likely continue at a faster pace than inflation, but grow more moderately than last year. The CoreLogic Home Price Index was up about 6% over the last 12 months, and CoreLogic anticipates a rise of 4-5% during 2016. This increase in home sales and prices can be attributed to the improved economy, which has brightened the financial outlook for many families and enhanced their overall financial security. Prices may be higher, but they will still be affordable to most.
  4. More first time buyers– We expect first-timers to make up a bigger portion of the market than they did this year. The reason is simple: The market will be more welcoming to them thanks to the aforementioned slowing price growth and easier access to loans. It is important to note that Millennials & Young Gen X’ers are expected make up the largest demographic of home buyers in 2016 because they have recovered from the financial crisis, are entering their prime professional years, as well as their prime family raising years.
  5. Rental Homes & Millennials– According to a recent analysis by the Federal Reserve, outstanding student loan debt now totals more than $1 trillion. Student loan debt can create additional hurdles for mortgage shoppers. It increases the borrower’s total debt-to-income ratio, which can cause problems during the underwriting and approval process, and excessive debt can lower a person’s credit score. All of this makes it harder for Millennials to qualify for home loans.  This is why we predict rental homes will continue to increase in popularity- Millennials simply can’t afford homes. Rental vacancy rates for both apartments and houses are at, or near, their lowest levels in 30 years, and rents are rising quicker than inflation.
  6. Smart Homes/ Housing Tech – Smart homes and houses with more technological features available at time of sale will continue to become more popular. Features like beacon technology, security tech, VR and more will make homes more appealing. Smart home features will start to be expected by consumers in 2016.

We can’t wait to help you own your dream home in 2016! On behalf of all of us from Alpha Mortgage, we wish you a very happy New Year!

 

How Much Does It Cost To Refinance My Mortgage

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You’ve done your research on the best time to refinance your mortgage,and you are ready to start the process before the Federal Reserve decides to start raising interest rates again. It seems like everything else is in place: you plan on staying in your home for a long time, lending conditions have eased, and current mortgage rates are extremely low. Refinancing or “resetting” a mortgage is a great option for homebuyers that want to take advantage of market conditions like lower interest rates over time, take the opportunity to reduce the term of their original mortgage, or acquire cash from the home’s equity value to use on other purchases through cash-out refinance transactions. Homeowners can also benefit from refinancing by reaping the rewards of an improved credit standing in most situations.

But how much does refinancing your mortgage actually cost? One thing that most homeowners forget to consider when considering a refinance is that there are fees associated with the process. These fees vary based on location and company, which is why it is essential to shop around before you refinance your mortgage. Below are some fees to keep in mind and to discuss with your lender before making a refinance decision:

  • Administrative Fees: Just like when applying for your original mortgage, there are administrative fees that cover generating the information and data necessary to obtain refinancing contracts. Administrative fees to expect include paperwork fees, appraisal fees, application fees, loan origination fees, points fee, inspection fee, survey fee, title search/insurance fee, and others similar.
  • Closing Fees: Once you have been approved for your refinance, closing fees come into effect under names like paperwork fees, attorney review/closing fees, or closing costs. These can get pricey, so it is important to take them into consideration before applying.
  • Other Fees: It is crucial to understand the terms and conditions of your refinance like the back of your hand. Discuss with your loan officer things like prepayment penalties (fees that can cost anywhere from 1-6 month’s interest payments) that charge you for paying off your existing mortgage early, and other penalty fees that could impact you financially.

Most mortgage-related fees are paid upfront at closing, however some lenders offer “no-cost” refinancing, which includes these fees in your loan balance or interest price during the term of your refinance. Once you take into consideration all of the fees that will be associated with your refinance, calculate the break-even point of your new mortgage through online resources. If the refinance still makes sense financially, sign the papers! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t fret. The Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) protects those who refinance from high fees and interest rates.

Alpha Mortgage is proud to serve North and South Carolina with the best mortgage rates and informed loan officers. Need more information about refinancing your mortgage? Contact us today.

Should I choose a 15-Year Mortgage or a 30-Year Mortgage

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So you’ve found your dream house, and have decided to start the lending process so that you can own the keys and start making it a home. Congratulations! Once you’re sure that you can afford the home, and have found an informed and transparent loan officer, the next thing as a buyer that you need to consider is whether you should choose to secure 15 year fixed mortgage, or a 30 year fixed mortgage. When determining which loan option is best for you, it is important to weigh out the differences in affordability, your degree of job security, as well as your saving habits.

The main difference between a 15 and 30-year loan is that fifteen-year loans typically have higher monthly payments with less interest, and thirty-year loans usually have lower monthly payments in which you end up spending more interest over time. The first step in determining which term to choose is using a mortgage calculator and crunching the numbers to figure out your specific individual options and the difference in monthly payments and total amount spent. Then, ask yourself what you can honestly afford. If you can comfortably make the 15-year fixed mortgage rates, do so. If not, the 30-year option is probably best for you. Remember that making extra payments when possible is always an option (although according to the FDIC, 97.3% of people do not consistently pay extra on their mortgages).

It is also essential to evaluate your job security and emergency funds when determining which loan to choose. Are you in a position/job with a paycheck steady enough to make those payments every month? It is important to remember that once you sign the loan, you will be required to make the same payment each month, and if you choose to go with a higher monthly payment (15-year loan) it is a good idea to have an emergency fund in place just in case something happens. If you don’t have adequate savings in place, or lack an emergency fund, it is a safe bet to go with a 30-year option.

Financial saving habits are also important to consider when determining whether to go with a 15-year or 30-year loan. Before choosing which term you want to have your loan on, evaluate your spending habits. According to USA Today, many people may lack the discipline needed to save long-term, especially in amounts that would offset what they would save by switching (from a 30-year) to a 15-year mortgage. A lot of times people need that extra money for something else, so they choose to keep their money in a 30-year mortgage with lower individual monthly payments. It is important to realize that you can always pay more of your mortgage off monthly, however, many people lack the discipline to send in the extra money every month when it isn’t required by the bank. If you are confident in your financial personal discipline, and do not tap into your savings (or will need to in order to afford a shorter term), a 15-year loan might be a good option to consider.

Be sure to consider your age and professional plan for the next 15-30 years when deciding whether you want to choose a 15 or 30 year loan. Are you planning on retiring? Do you plan on having children? What about other expenses that you will have (car, student loans, etc.)? Once again, it is important to answer these questions as honestly as possible, and to go over your options with your loan officer, who will be able to give his/her honest opinion based on individual circumstances and plans and which term will be best in your scenario.

Remember – in the end, your individual financial situation, goals, and comfort levels will determine which mortgage term you should choose, and what may be right for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean it will be right for you. However, a good rule of thumb remains: if you’re comfortable making higher payments (and have an adequate emergency fund), can meet other important financial milestones such as retirement and large expenses like cars and student loans, and have strong personal discipline when it comes to finances, a 15-year mortgage is a great option to own your home in half the time you would otherwise. If any of these conditions make you uncomfortable, it is better to go with the 30-year fixed loan and add in extra payments if you can. Let Alpha Mortgage help you make the right decision when it comes to choosing your loan term.