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2nd step to buying a home—choosing the right loan for you

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So you’re ready to buy a home, and have finished the first step of pre-approval. Did you know that nearly half* of home purchases are from your fellow first-timers? It can be a daunting process, so we’re continuing the step-by-step approach to help you navigate this important financial decision.

There are many home loan choices. Finding the right lender will be the key to obtaining the information you need to make the right decision. The pre-approval process should have uncovered many of the factors that determine which loan will work best for you and let you know what interest rate you might be paying. Remember, to get a good interest rate, you’ll need as high a credit score and down payment as possible. The right lender will be able to guide you and explain the differences in each of the loans you qualify for.

Here is a general discussion of some of the mortgage loans available, to help prep you for your first meeting with a potential lender. The main differences are the size of the down payment and whether the interest rates can change.

Types of mortgage loans:

Conventional vs.Non-Conventional– One of the first decisions you will discuss with your lender is whether you want a conventional or non-conventional loan, which often depends on the size of your down payment.

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Conventional - A conventional loan typically requires a minimum down payment of 5 percent.  If you put down 5 to 19 percent, private mortgage insurance (PMI) may be required. This insurance protects the lender if you do not repay your mortgage.  Typically, you’ll have to pay this insurance until 78-80 percent of your mortgage is left, and then you may be able to remove PMIfrom your payments.  To avoid that extra insurance from the beginning, you’ll typically have to put down 20 percent or more.

Most first-time buyers choose homes with a median value of $147,000*, but in case you’re wondering, the conventional loan limit in most areas is $417,000. These loans can be fixed or adjustable (more on that in a minute). Conventional loans also allow you to have the seller pay up to 3 percent of your home’s closing costs and prepaid taxes and insurance.

FHA (non-conventional) – FHA loans typically require lower down payments than conventional mortgages, but there are also drawbacks to them. For example, FHA loans require mortgage insurance up front and it is usually more than private mortgage insurance with a conventional loan. Here’s how this type of loan works: The Federal Housing Authority does not actually lend the money but insures 100 percent of what the lender funds. FHA loans tend to be the most flexible in their credit guidelines. They usually allow for lower credit scores, higher debt-to-income ratios and as little as 3.5 percent as a down payment. These loans allow for up to 6 percent seller-paid closing costs and prepaid taxes and insurance.

Veterans Affairs (VA) – The VA loan was designed to offer long-term financing to eligible American veterans or their surviving spouses (provided they do not remarry). The VA loan does not require a down payment and does not require monthly private mortgage insurance.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – This loan is intended to help people purchase homes in rural areas. The property must be located within the USDA Rural Development Home Loan footprint. USDA loans offer 100 percent financing to qualified buyers and allow for all closing costs to be either paid for by the seller or financed into the loan.

Fixed vs. Adjustable Rate Mortgages – After choosing a conventional vs. non-conventional loan, it’s time for another decision: do you want a fixed or adjustable rate?

Fixed-Rate Mortgages – Fixed-rate loans are just that, loans that have interest rates that are locked-in for the term of the loan. This means that your rate will not change during the entire time that you have the loan. Keep in mind that even with a fixed interest rate your payment could vary based on changes in taxes or insurance. The repayment of the loan is also spread out, or amortized, over that same fixed period. You can choose from 10-, 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-year fixed rates. Generally, the shorter the term of the loan, the lower the rate, but also the higher the payment. For example, a 15-year loan will usually have a better interest rate than a 30-year loan, but you’ll have to pay more per month in order to get the mortgage paid off sooner. Therefore, choosing the fixed-rate period will be a large part of determining the amount of your monthly payment.

Adjustable Rate MortgagesThese loans typically allow you to have lower payments at the very beginning, but take on higher risk than fixed-rate loans. There is usually an initial time period (1 to 10 years) where the interest rate is fixed. However, the rate can change after the initial fixed period causing the monthly payment to go up. Be sure to talk to your lender about what type of loan is best for your situation. If any of these factors apply to you, your lender can explain in more detail how an adjustable rate mortgage would work for you. However, an adjustable rate may be a good option if:

  • you plan to sell in a few years,
  • you will pay off the loan early, within the next few years, or
  • interest rates are high right now and are anticipated to decrease in the coming years. (not the case today)

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, remember, your lender is there to walk you through everything. Instead, focus on what your needs are. Then, you can outline with your lender what you’re looking for so he or she can provide your best options.

Arrive at your first lender meeting with answers to the following questions:

  • How much will you have for a down payment?
  • What are your preferred neighborhoods?
  • Do you want to get your loan paid off as soon as possible even if it means higher payments, or do you need lower payments with more time to pay it off?

Choosing the right lender is just one part of your home-buying team. Adding an experienced realtor will save you time and money and will be discussed in step three of buying a home.

*statistic source: NAHB.org

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1st step to buying a home: pre-approval

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Imagine walking in to your new house. You moved in a few weeks ago, you’ve unpacked most of your things, and it’s starting to feel like home. But then you wake up from this fantasy and realize you don’t know how to make this dream become a reality. We’re here to help.

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The process of purchasing your first home should be exciting and rewarding knowing you are taking control of your finances by investing into your own home. We want to give you a head start with understanding the process.

First things first. You’ll need to shop for a lender. Start with your own bank (a source you trust and believe in) and shop with other lenders as well. You’ll want to compare rates, cost associated with the loan and feel comfortable with the lender’s service levels before you apply.  A good lender will work closely with your specific situation. They will explain the loan and buying process and answer all your questions as a first-time home buyer.

The mortgage loan process has changed drastically over the years, so be prepared that the lender will want at least 30 days to get your loan approved and closed. Processing times will vary based on how complex your personal history is to document and verify. We suggest getting a pre-approval letter from your lender before shopping for your new home.

Why do you need a pre-approval letter?

  • A pre-approval letter will give your real estate agent a price range to know what homes to include in your search. It outlines the loan amount and terms you are approved for.
  • Pre-approval gives you a negotiating advantage. A seller might be more inclined to accept your offer if you have a pre-approval letter, even if you make an offer that’s lower than a buyer without a pre-approval. Sellers want the assurance of knowing their buyer can get financing since they are also planning on a home move.
  • A pre-approval letter is a stronger option than a pre-qualification letter because the approval is based on verified credit, income and asset data that an underwriter has reviewed and approved. The pre-qualification is based only on the data provided on the loan application that has not been verified or reviewed by an underwriter.

In order to expedite your loan process, here is a list of the documentation to bring to your lender when you have your first meeting for a loan application:

  • Last two years of W-2’s and tax returns with all schedules – This allows the lender to evaluate any other income or loss for qualifying purposes. All self-employed borrowers will need to provide a two year history of tax returns to determine income for qualifying purpose.
  • Most recent paystubs to cover 30 consecutive days – The lender will review and calculate income for wage earners.
  • Most recent asset statements to cover 30 days – This statement, also known as your bank statement, will need to show you have sufficient funds in your account to close on the loan. Any large deposits will need to be documented as to where the funds came from to meet loan requirements.
  • Additional information may apply based on the type of loan you are applying for – another important reason to select a lender who will walk you through the process and give you clear explanations.

The home-buying process can be long and complicated. Preparation involved in getting a pre-approval letter is fairly simple and it helps both you and the seller in the long-run.

Stay tuned for part two of this series: The second step to buying a home—choosing the right loan for you.

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Diane Hughes is Sr. Vice President/Director Mortgage Sales for UMB at 1010 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO.  She is responsible for the bank-wide mortgage services and has 29 years of experience as a Mortgage Banker. 



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Infographic: 1913 vs. 2013 (Part 2)

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Can you imagine making $621 a year and spending $0.08 a gallon on gas? See how much has changed in the last 100 years.

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1913 versus 2013 Infographic Part 2

Click here to see 1913 vs. 2013 (Part 1).


UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a financial services holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Arizona. It also has a loan production office in Texas. Subsidiaries of the holding company include mutual fund and alternative investment services groups, single-purpose companies that deal with brokerage services and insurance, and a registered investment advisor that manages the company's proprietary mutual funds and investment advisory accounts for institutional customers.



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