Month: December 2013
As the housing market heats up again following the slowdown of the past few years, many consumers will try to buy a home for the first time or upgrade a home with a mortgage that had previously been underwater. If you fall into either group, you should know that a new set of rules passed as part of the Dodd-Frank Act – enacted in response to the financial crisis of the late 2000s – will go into effect Jan. 10, 2014. The rules will require lenders of qualified mortgages to conduct more thorough analyses of mortgage applicants’ financial information to ensure applicants can afford to repay the loan.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, under the Ability-to-Repay rule, the lender generally must consider eight factors. These include your current income or assets, current employment status, credit history, the monthly payment for the mortgage and your monthly debt payments compared to your monthly pre-tax income, which is your debt-to-income ratio.
Under the new rules, you’ll generally need a debt-to-income ratio of less than 43 percent to obtain a qualified mortgage that’s underwritten based on standards considered safe for consumers. Federal rules state that the term of the loan cannot exceed 30 years, and the points and fees paid by the borrower cannot exceed 3 percent of the total loan. Under the new rules, qualified mortgages also cannot have risky features such as an interest-only period, when the borrower pays only interest without paying down the principal.
For those who aren’t hosting guests and parties this year, house hunting over the holidays is advantageous for a number of reasons. A handful of the benefits buying a home during the holidays include:
1. Homes are priced to sell. Sellers who are actively looking to sell their homes during the holiday months – namely, October through December – are serious about shedding the weight of their residences. This often works in favor of savvy buyers looking to get a deal on discounted homes.
2. There is less competition. Having less competition on the buyer’s side can mean lower prices on homes, in addition to fewer counter-offers to compete against. Without as many buyers eyeing a potential new home, shoppers have a greater likelihood of keeping savings on their side by avoiding the price creep consistent with multiple buyers interested in the same property.
3. Interest rates are still low. Interest rates have been consistently low since the Federal Reserve suppressed rates to near zero. While the Fed has announced rates will remain low on mortgage loans at least into 2015, there’s no denying the eventuality that rates are starting on the upward course.