Active Duty Mortgage

Toolkit to Help Consumers Shopping for a Mortgage “Owning a Home”

Today, as part of the CFPB’s Know Before You Owe initiative, the Bureau is releasing Owning a Home, a suite of tools to inform and empower consumers shopping for a mortgage. It takes the consumer from the very start of the home-buying process, with a guide to loan options, terminology, and costs, through to the closing table with a closing checklist.

CFPB’s report is based on results from new data in the National Survey of Mortgage Borrowers, a voluntary survey jointly conducted by the CFPB and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The Bureau analyzed responses from consumers who took out a mortgage to buy a home in 2013. Among the key findings:

  • Almost half of consumers fail to shop around before applying: Almost half of consumers who take out a mortgage fail to shop prior to filling out an application for a mortgage. This means these consumers are seriously considering only a single lender or mortgage broker before choosing where to apply.
  • Three out of four consumers only apply with one lender or broker: While half of consumers shop around to see who advertises lower rates, fewer than one out of four borrowers actually end up submitting a loan application to more than one lender or broker. These consumers are not filling out applications with multiple lenders to see which one can offer them the best deal.
  • Most consumers get their information from lenders or brokers, who have a stake in the outcome: The survey asked recent mortgage borrowers whether they used different information sources. Respondents were asked to report whether they used each source a lot, a little, or not at all. Consumers could pick multiple categories. Among the findings: 70 percent of consumers report relying on their lender or mortgage broker a lot to get information about mortgages. While lenders and brokers can be valuable resources, they have a stake in the selling of the mortgage, so what is best for the lender or broker is not always best for the consumer.
  • Borrowers who prioritize the terms of the loan over the characteristics of the lender are more likely to shop: The survey asked borrowers whether characteristics of lenders or mortgage brokers were “very,” “somewhat,” or “not at all” important in their selection. The survey found those who listed lender characteristics as important, instead of the loan terms, are less likely to shop. Specifically, the survey found that among all borrowers – those who shopped and those who did not – 42 percent said having an established banking relationship with the lender is “very important.” Since most borrowers likely only have a few banking relationships, this likely inhibits shopping.
  • Informed consumers are twice as likely to shop: Consumers who are confident in their knowledge about the mortgage process are more likely to shop around. For instance, consumers who are confident about their knowledge of available interest rates are almost twice as likely to shop as consumers who are unfamiliar with available interest rates. The survey found that 55 percent of shoppers said they were very familiar with mortgage rates, while 30 percent of shoppers said they were not at all familiar.

 

Link to Owning a Home Toolkit:  http://www.consumerfinance.gov/owning-a-home

A great recourse for the current homebuyer.

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Support and Guidance for Homeowners

Today I was doing a little research on organizations to help Military Families with the current housing market I came across. HOPE NOW is an alliance between counselors, mortgage companies, investors, and  other mortgage market participants. This alliance will maximize outreach efforts  to homeowners in distress to help them stay in their homes and will create a  unified, coordinated plan to reach and help as many homeowners as possible. The  members of this alliance recognize that by working together, they will be more
effective than by working independently.

Kiplinger-BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families.

By: Williamsburg Military Insider

The 2012 Kiplinger-BBB Financial Field Manual is out! I was very humbled to be interviewed for the section on Home-Buying Resources. The Guide helps with financial strategies, rules and resources for military families are often very different from those for civilians. The 20-page guide provides comprehensive guidance on a wide range of timely personal finance topics, including:

Special Home-Buying Resources. Military families, who tend to move frequently and sometimes with little notice, have been hit particularly hard by the housing downturn. But they also have access to special mortgage programs and tax breaks. The guide addresses these valuable resources and some key investing decisions to protect them from housing troubles that can jeopardize their financial situation.

Investing for the Future. Members of the military have access to special investing plans that can help them save for the future, but they’re also frequent targets of scam artists and identity thieves. The guide shows them how to make the most of their special savings plans, make smart investing decisions, and avoid the new generation of scams

Protecting Investments and Family. Military families have some unique risks–especially when they’re deployed–but they also have access to special programs to help them protect their savings and their families. The booklet guides them on how to make the most of these resources in areas such as insurance, estate planning, and new tax rules.

Protecting Investments When Leaving the Military. Service men and women need to make some key investing decisions after leaving the military. The booklet provides guidance to help ensure that the savings they have built throughout their service lasts through retirement – which is particularly timely as they enter a challenging civilian job market.

Special Benefits for Military Families. Members of the military have special legal rights and access to other valuable benefits, such as a GI bill that can help service members, their spouses and their children pay for college. The guide shows them how to make the most of those benefits to help protect their savings.

I am a REALTOR with Liz Moore & Associates Also; I am part of the Liz Moore & Associates’ Military Team which specializes in homes for sale in James City County, Newport News, Hampton, York County, Poquoson, and Williamsburg, VA as well as surrounding markets. I offer Active Duty friendly support to families relocating to Langley Air Force Base, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, and Cheatam Annex. When you PCS to Hampton Roads, VA you will find that I understand that when a family member joins the military, the entire family belongs…thank you for serving our Country, and I look forward to serving your real estate needs!

When you are transferring to Langley AFB, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station or Cheatam Annex, if you’re interested in buying a home for sale call 757-651-3763 e-mail me at jenniferhernandez@lizmoore.com

Hampton Roads…What do you think about the National Mortgage Settlement?

By: Williamsburg Military Insider

State and federal officials this morning announced a $26 billion settlement with five major U.S. banks regarding their shameless treatment of distressed homeowners and borrowers in foreclosure. This should make life easier for people currently in the pipeline or who face default down the road.   You can read all about the settlement at http://www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com/

I am a REALTOR with Liz Moore & Associates Also; I am part of the Liz Moore & Associates’ Military Team which specializes in homes for sale in James City County, Newport News, Hampton, York County, Poquoson, and Williamsburg, VA as well as surrounding markets. I offer Active Duty friendly support to families relocating to Langley Air Force Base, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, and Cheatam Annex. When you PCS to Hampton Roads, VA you will find that I understand that when a family member joins the military, the entire family belongs…thank you for serving our Country, and I look forward to serving your real estate needs!

When you are transferring to Langley AFB, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station or Cheatam Annex, if you’re interested in buying a home for sale call 757-651-3763 e-mail me at jenniferhernandez@lizmoore.com

 

2012 (BAH) Basic Allowance for Housing Rates Will Rise in Hampton Roads, VA.

By:  Williamsburg Military Insider

2012 Basic Allowance for Housing rates will rise an average 2 percent next year, here in Hampton Roads, to include, Langley Air Force Base, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, and Cheatam Annex.

See the rates

When rates go up, all service members in a given location get the increase. But when rates dip, the military’s “individual rate protection” policy ensures that troops already settled in a location will not see their BAH decrease for as long as they remain in that location, assuming no change in dependency status or a reduction in pay grade.

That policy assures that troops who have signed long-term leases are not penalized if housing costs in their area fall.

BAH rates remain high by historical standards. Until 2005, troops were expected to cover some of their housing costs out of their own pockets. But Congress changed the law, and now the Pentagon gives troops 100 percent of estimated housing costs for their area.

Median rental costs are only one factor in the complex formula officials use to determine BAH rates. It also includes the average utilities costs and renter’s insurance rates. The Pentagon analyzes that data annually for 365 U.S. housing markets, including Alaska and Hawaii.

The Defense Department will pay out a total of about $20 billion in BAH, a slight uptick from last year’s total of about $19 billion. More than 1 million troops receive BAH to cover housing off post or rent in privatized housing complexes on military installations.

I am a REALTOR with Liz Moore & Associates Also; I am part of the Liz Moore & Associates’ Military Team which specializes in homes for sale in James City County, Newport News, Hampton, York County, Poquoson, and Williamsburg, VA as well as surrounding markets. I offer Active Duty friendly support to families relocating to Langley Air Force Base, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, and Cheatam Annex. When you PCS to Hampton Roads, VA you will find that I understand that when a family member joins the military, the entire family belongs…thank you for serving our Country, and I look forward to serving your real estate needs!

When you are transferring to Langley AFB, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station or Cheatam Annex, if you’re interested in buying a home for sale call 757-651-3763   or e-mail me at jenniferhernandez@lizmoore.com

Curious How Local Lenders Verify Employment for Active Duty Service Members in Willilamsburg?

By:  Williamsburg Military Insider

After just personally going through a refinance of our home with a VA Loan, I was reminded of how lenders verify employment for Active Duty Service Members. Verifying a prospective homebuyer’s employment is one of the key steps of the loan process.

VA lenders need to ensure a borrower has a steady, reliable income stream that’s likely to continue and that covers their future housing needs. For veterans, military spouses and others, lenders will send a Verification of Employment (VOE), an official VA document, to past and current employers.

But the process is a bit different for prospective homebuyers still actively serving in the military.

Different Paperwork
Lenders will require a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) instead of a VOE for active service members. It contains the same basic financial information. Active duty members can acquire their LES online by using the MyPay portal at https://mypay.dfas.mil/mypay.aspx.

Base pay counts as stable and reliable as long as the service member isn’t within a year of release from active duty. Lenders can also include as effective income a service member’s Basic Allowance for Housing and occasionally other military allowances — clothing, flight pay, combat pay and others — provided they’re verified and expected to continue.

Service members within a year of their release from active duty or the conclusion of their contract term can present a unique challenge.

Nearing Discharge
If their discharge date falls within 12 months of the anticipated date of their loan closing, the lender has to take a few extra steps to satisfy the VA. It makes sense, considering there may be uncertainty regarding the type of job and income that awaits the recently discharged veteran.

Given those potential question marks, lenders typically have to document at least one of the following four elements, if not more:

• That the service member has already re-upped or otherwise extended active duty service beyond that 12-month window, or
• The service member has a legitimate job offer in the civilian world (information about earnings and other standard data has to be included), or
• Significant underwriting factors that compensate for uncertainty, such as a down payment of at least 10 percent or noteworthy cash reserves, or
• A written statement from the service member declaring his or her intent to reenlist or extend service, along with
• A written statement from a commanding officer confirming the member’s eligibility to reenlist or extend service and that it’s likely to go through.

I am a REALTOR with Liz Moore & Associates Also; I am part of the Liz Moore & Associates’ Military Team which specializes in homes for sale in James City County, Newport News, Hampton, York County, Poquoson, and Williamsburg, VA as well as surrounding markets. I offer Active Duty friendly support to families relocating to Langley Air Force Base, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, and Cheatam Annex. When you PCS to Hampton Roads, VA you will find that I understand that when a family member joins the military, the entire family belongs…thank you for serving our Country, and I look forward to serving your real estate needs!

When you are transferring to Langley AFB, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station or Cheatam Annex, if you’re interested in buying a home for sale call 757-651-3763   or e-mail me at jenniferhernandez@lizmoore.com

Moving to Williamsburg? It is a Buyer’s Market…A Few Tips Before You Get Started.

by: Williamsburgmilitaryinsider.com

Maybe the thought of brown boxes and overflowing moving trucks sends you into hysteria, yet the fact is it’s a buyers’ market. Whether you’re looking for your first home or looking to upsize, at your new PCS location this is the time to take advantage of declining home prices. In addition to affordable home prices, U.S. 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are near an all-time low. This combination makes it the perfect time to buy a home.

Before you load of your household goods, the kids, the dog and every little item you
ever, there are a few things you should know about buying a home.

Understand Your Credit Score

Who would have ever dreamed that three numbers could stand in the way of buying a
home? This score determines whether or not you can get a mortgage and the interest rate, which you pay monthly. Your credit score is a lot like a worn down suitcase. It’s filled with your payment and credit history that you more than likely want to forget. But there’s no hiding it, this suitcase will haunt you as long as you live. Credit scores range from 300 to 850. If you have a score below 700, you may have more trouble finding a lender.

If your credit score isn’t as squeaky clean as you would like it, there are ways to boost those numbers. An obvious way to do this is to pay your bills on time. The quicker you pay off your bills and lower the balance on credit cards can benefit your score. To track your own credit score, visit with a local lender  or go to myFICO.com to see where your credit score
stands.

Be Realistic With What You Can Afford

A qualified mortgage lender will pre-approve you for a certain amount to finance
a home, yet this does not mean go out a buy a home at this price. You may not be able to afford it. Alongside utilities, property taxes, home insurance and possible HOA fees, this price may be too high. Sit down with your family and plan out other expenses involved in owning a home, you do not want to be house poor. You want to be able to enjoy life.

Research Movement in Price

Just because the “For Sale” sign has a listing price, doesn’t mean you’re stuck at that price. Before making any type of offer, have your Realtor research the movement in price. Check out how many times the sale price has been reduced. If the price has been reduced multiple times, you have an eager seller. These sellers are more than likely to accept a lower offer and will want to sell quickly.

Is the Builder Reliable?

If you’re looking into new construction, look for a reputable company, one that has been in business for a few years and has a proven track record. If you are questioning your builder’s credibility, search their name on the BBB, Better Business Bureau, website to see past reviews and the rating on their business practices. During your sit down with your builder for preliminary plans, read everything. Have your Realtor with you to help with the questions.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, this is your house they are building.

What’s the School District Like?

Although the number of bedrooms and bathrooms play a very important role in making a
home purchase, the school district in which this home is within is just as important. You want your kids to go to a reputable school, and this too will affect re-sale price. Do some research on these schools, kindergarten through high school, check the graduation rates and talk to people in the community. Great Schools.org is a great starting point.

Whether buying a new home is a practical decision for you, you must do your research
and think about all aspects beyond the front door. Take advantage of your realtor’s knowledge and the community. Find something that works for every member of the family and just like a book; never trust a home by its exterior.

I am a REALTOR with Liz Moore & Associates Also; I am part of the Liz Moore & Associates’ Military Team which specializes in homes for sale in James City County, Newport News, Hampton, York County, Poquoson, and Williamsburg, VA as well as surrounding markets. I offer Active Duty friendly support to families relocating to Langley Air Force Base, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, and Cheatam Annex. When you PCS to Hampton Roads, VA you will find that I understand that when a family member joins the military, the entire family belongs…thank you for serving our Country, and I look forward to serving your real estate needs!

When you are transferring to Langley AFB, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station or Cheatam Annex, if you’re interested in buying a home for sale call 757-651-3763 or e-mail me at jenniferhernandez@lizmoore.com

Administration Enhances Foreclosure-help Program…Does this include VA Loans?

by: Williamsburg Military Insider

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the federal regulator with oversight responsibility for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced changes Monday to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) to attract more underwater borrowers who could benefit from refinancing their home mortgages. This is a step in the right direction, to help some Military Families but the majority of Military Families have VA loans which this will not help.

News reports, such as one from ABC News blog, reported that President Obama announced the proposal from a Las Vegas home’s front porch. Nevada has one the highest foreclosure rates in the country.

HARP was launched in 2009 to let troubled homeowners bypass a requirement that they have at least 20% equity in their home to be able to refinance their mortgages at lower rates. However, the program has been, some say, severely under utilized because many cannot qualify for help.

The program enhancements announced yesterday were developed at FHFA’s direction with input from lenders, mortgage insurers and other industry participants. Program changes include:

  • Eliminating certain risk-based fees for borrowers who refinance into shorter-term mortgages and lowering fees for other borrowers;
  • Removing the 125% loan-to-value ceiling for fixed-rate mortgages backed by Fannie and Freddie;
  • Waiving certain representations and warranties made by lenders on loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
  • Eliminating the need for a new property appraisal where there is a reliable automated valuation model estimate provided; and
  • Extending the end date for HARP until Dec. 31, 2013 for loans originally sold to Fannie and Freddie on or before May 31, 2009.

The FHFA, in a release, said one important element of the changes to HARP is the elimination of certain risk-based fees, which should encourage borrowers to utilize HARP to refinance into shorter-term mortgages.

“Borrowers who owe more on their house than the house is worth will be able to reduce the balance owed much faster if they take advantage of today’s low interest rates by shortening the term of their mortgage,” explained the agency.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plan to issue guidance with operational details about the HARP changes to mortgage lenders and servicers by Nov. 15.

I am a REALTOR with Liz Moore & Associates Also; I am part of the Liz Moore & Associates’ Military Team which specializes in homes for sale in James City County, Newport News, Hampton, York County, Poquoson, and Williamsburg, VA as well as surrounding markets. I offer Active Duty friendly support to families relocating to Langley Air Force Base, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, and Cheatam Annex. When you PCS to Hampton Roads, VA you will find that I understand that when a family member joins the military, the entire family belongs…thank you for serving our Country, and I look forward to serving your real estate needs!

When you are transferring to Langley AFB, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station or Cheatam Annex, if you’re interested in buying a home for sale call 757-651-3763 or e-mail me at jenniferhernandez@lizmoore.com

VA Extends Higher Loan Limits Through Dec 31st, Great News for Williamsburg Va Buyers

by Williamsburg Military Insider

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that loan limits will not be lowered in
2011.* Loan limits as high as $1,000,000 in some areas will remain in place at least until the end of the year. Don’t miss this opportunity to lock in historically low rates and take advantage of all the VA.
Loan Benefits offers:
*No down-payment and no PMI on most loans
*For Home Purchase or Refinancing existing loans
*Active Duty, Vets, and Retirees eligible
*VA Guarantees 25% of the Loan Amount for Lenders

Also the VA funding fee has been reduced as of October 1, 2011

I am a REALTOR with Liz Moore & Associates  Also; I am part of the Liz Moore & Associates’ Military Team    which specializes in homes for sale in James City County, Newport News, Hampton, York County, Poquoson, and Williamsburg, VA as well as surrounding markets. I offer Active Duty friendly support to families relocating to Langley Air Force Base, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, and Cheatam Annex.  When you PCS to Hampton Roads, VA  you will find that I understand that when a family member joins the military, the entire family belongs…thank you  for serving our Country, and I look forward to serving your real estate needs!

When you are transferring to Langley AFB, Ft. Eustis, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station or Cheatam Annex, if you’re interested in buying a home for sale call 757-651-3763   or e-mail me at jenniferhernandez@lizmoore.com

Help for Military Homeowners …”Upsidedown”

by Williamsburg Military Insider

Servicemembers that are “Underwater” on there mortgages has drawn the attention of policymakers, including Representatives Elijah Cummings, Adam Smith, and Robert Andrews, who along with other Members of Congress who  sent a letter to several government agencies earlier this week encouraging them to address the issue.

The Department of Treasury has just announced updated guidance to its Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) Program that may help in some circumstances. HAFA pays incentives for a short sale or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure used to avoid foreclosure when a borrower is financially unable to continue to pay their mortgage. Under the new guidance, servicemembers who cite a PCS order as the basis for their financial hardship when asking for help under HAFA will now be eligible even if their income has not decreased.

Servicemembers who are underwater on their mortgage and are faced with military permanent change of station (PCS) orders that require them to relocate at a time when their home is worth less than what they owe. This problem has forced some military families into the costly and stressful situation of maintaining two households, with the family remaining behind while the servicemember moves alone. Other servicemembers have had to let their homes be foreclosed on.

This situation cannot be addressed by the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which applies only to pre-service mortgages. The military homeowners affected by PCS orders are on active duty and are likely to have assumed their mortgage after they entered the service.

This problem has forced some military families into the costly and stressful situation of maintaining two households, with the family remaining behind while the servicemember moves alone. Other servicemembers have had to let their homes be foreclosed on.

These servicemembers may have been faithfully paying every month but will no longer be able to keep up once they move. They may have a smaller Housing Allowance at their next duty station and a loss of income as their spouse tries to find new employment. They can’t sell their home for enough to pay off the mortgage and they often can’t rent it for enough to cover the mortgage payments.

PCS orders can put servicemembers in a financial bind that is hard to escape. When many servicemembers inquire about a short sale or loan modification, their financial institution has answered that they need to be delinquent in order to be considered as having a qualifying financial hardship. Deliberately defaulting on a loan is something no servicemember should be asked to do.

The dialogue is open for policymakers and the financial industry to think about what they can do to work together to create commonsense solutions to help servicemembers caught in this situation.