Should you lease a new car, or should you buy one? Like most financial questions, the answer depends on your situation. For some people, leasing a car presents distinct economic advantages. For others, buying a car is the way to go.
There’s plenty of online material to help you choose your optimal path, but this 3-minute piece from NBC’s The Today Show serves as an excellent summary. In it, you’ll learn about the basics of leasing a car, and for whom leasing can be a great fit. You’ll also hear reasons to avoid a lease completely.
The NBC interview makes all of the following points :
- Leasing allows you to drive a car that may be “too expensive” to purchase
- Leasing puts you in a new car, with the latest safety features and gadgets, every few years
- Buying a car means that you have no mileage limits, and can sell at any time
For many people, it concludes, buying a car is preferable to leasing one, with a notable exception being those people who can claim their car or truck as a tax deduction. Be sure to check with your tax advisor if you plan to take that route.
However, for another group — homeowners and active home buyers — leasing a car can invite mortgage approval trouble. This is because a car lease payment is assumed by a mortgage underwriter to be a perpetual debt; one that never reduces or gets extinguished. When a lease is complete, it must be replaced with a new lease, and so on.
Therefore, no matter how many payments remain in a lease, mortgage applicants must use the full car lease payment for purposes of a mortgage approval.
By contrast, for people whom are owners of their automobiles, car payments must only be added to debt ratios if more than 10 car payments remain until the car’s loan is paid-in-full. For homeowners and buyers in Frisco , this can improve debt-to-income ratios and support a higher purchase price on a home.
There is no firm rule for whether it better to lease a car or to own one. The arguments for both sides are compelling and reasonable. Start with the video, then do your own research.
As another signal of an improving U.S. economy, the nation’s biggest banks have started to loosen mortgage lending guidelines.
As reported by the Federal Reserve, last quarter, no “big banks” reported stricter mortgage standards as compared to the quarter prior and “modest fractions” of banks reported easier mortgage standards.
The data comes from the Fed’s quarterly Senior Loan Officer Survey, a questionnaire sent to 64 domestic banks and 23 U.S. branches of foreign banks. The survey is meant to gauge, among other things, direct demand for consumer loans and banks’ willingness to meet this demand.
Not surprisingly, as mortgage rates fell to all-time lows last quarter, nearly all responding banks reported an increase in demand for prime residential mortgages where “prime residential mortgage” is defined as a mortgage for an applicant whose credit scores are high; whose payment history is unblemished; and, whose debt-to-income ratios are low.
Consumers were eager to buy homes and/or refinance them last quarter and 6% of the nation’s big banks said their credit standards “eased somewhat” during that time frame. The remaining 94% of big banks said standards were left unchanged.
The ease of getting approved for a home loan, however, is relative.
As compared to 5 years ago, Plano home buyers and rate shoppers face a distinctly more challenging mortgage environment. Not only are today’s minimum FICO score requirements higher by up to 100 points, depending on the loan product, applicants face new income scrutiny and must also demonstrate a more clear capacity to make repayments.
Tougher lending standards are among the reasons why the national home ownership rate is at its lowest point since 1997. It is harder to get mortgage-approved today as compared to late-last decade.
For those who apply and succeed, the reward is access to the lowest mortgage rates in a lifetime. Mortgage rates throughout Texas continue to push home affordability to all-time highs.
If you’ve been shopping for a home, or planning to refinance, with mortgage rates low, it’s a good time to commit.
Beginning Monday, June 11, the FHA is changing its mortgage insurance premium schedule for the second time this year.
Some FHA mortgage applicants will pay lower mortgage insurance premiums going forward. Others will pay more. The new premiums apply to all FHA mortgages, both purchase and refinance.
The MIP update will be the 5th time in four years that the FHA has changed its mortgage insurance premium schedule.
FHA-backed homeowners who have not refinanced within the last 3 years will benefit from the new MIP. This is because, beginning with all FHA Case Numbers assigned on, or after, June 11, 2012, homeowners whose current FHA mortgage pre-dates June 1, 2009 will be entitled to dramatically reduced annual mortgage insurance premiums and almost zero upfront MIP via the FHA Streamline Refinance program.
Whereas new FHA applicants may pay up to 1.25% per year for annual mortgage insurance plus 175 basis points at closing for upfront MIP, the “grandfathered” FHA applicants will pay just 0.55% per year for mortgage insurance and 1 basis point at closing.
Assuming an FHA loan size of $200,000, the savings are large :
- New FHA applicant : $208 per month for annual MIP; $3,500 due at closing for upfront MIP.
- Pre-June 2009 FHA applicant : $92 per month for annual MIP; $20 due at closing for upfront MIP.
The premiums apply to all FHA mortgage applicants, regardless of loan product or term. For example, 15-year FHA mortgage will follow the same mortgage insurance premium schedule as a 30-year FHA mortgages.
Another class of FHA-backed homeowners won’t get so lucky. For homeowners in high-cost areas whose mortgages are between $625,500 and the local FHA loan limit, annual mortgage insurance premiums will be raised by 0.25% for all 15-year and 30-year loan terms.
For loan sizes above $625,500, the new annual FHA mortgage insurance premiums are as follows :
- Loan term of 15 years or fewer, loan-to-value of 90% or less : 0.35% per year
- Loan term of 15 years or fewer, loan-to-value greater than 90% : 0.60% per year
- Loan term of more than 15 years, loan-to-value of 95% or less : 1.45% per year
- Loan term of more than 15 years, loan-to-value greater than 95% : 1.50% per year
FHA-backed homeowners with loan terms of 15 years or fewer, and with loan-to-values below 78%, are exempt from annual MIP. Upfront MIP payments, however, remain mandatory.
The FHA continues to tinker with its mortgage insurance premiums, attempting to strike a balance between affordability for its homeowners and solvency for its program. Experts expect the FHA to change its premiums again. And, when it does, it’s likely that premiums will rise.
If your FHA mortgage will be for more than $625,000, and you plan to make a purchase or refinance application soon, it’s best to get your FHA Case Number prior to Monday, June 11. Otherwise, you’ll pay higher annual MIP.
Against a $700,000 mortgage, the extra 0.25% in MIP per year will add $1,750 to your annual housing payment.
Despite several big-name banks pulling the product from their respective home loan offerings, reverse mortgages remain a popular mortgage choice among homeowners aged 62 or over.
A reverse mortgage is exactly what it sounds like — a mortgage in reverse. Rather than borrow a fixed amount of money then pay that loan balance down to zero as with a “forward” mortgage, a reverse mortgage starts at a given loan balance and works its way up as scheduled payments are added to the existing loan balance.
This 4-minute piece from NBC’s The Today Show highlights a few pros and cons of reverse mortgages, and the reasons why you may want to consider one, including :
- No mortgage payments are ever due on your home
- There is no credit check required for a reverse mortgage
- There is no income requirement to qualify for a reverse mortgage
There are some basic qualification standards for the reverse mortgage program including a requirement that all borrowers on title must be 62 years of age or older; and that the subject property be a primary residence. Loan fees can also be higher than with a conventional-type mortgage.
If you meet the qualification standards, though, with a reverse mortgage, you have flexibility in how your home equity is distributed to you. You can receive a lump-sum payment, elect for monthly installments over time, create a line of credit, or a combination of all three.
Like all mortgages, reverse mortgages are complex instruments. That’s one reason why all reverse mortgage borrowers are required to attend counseling — the government wants you to be certain that you understand the nuances of the reverse mortgage program.
Your lender will want you to understand the program, too.
The new, revamped HARP program is now available in Texas and nationwide. It was officially released Saturday, March 17, 2012 by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
HARP is an acronym. It stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program. HARP is the conforming mortgage loan product meant for “underwater homeowners”. Under the HARP program, homeowners in Allen can get access to today’s low mortgage rates despite having little or no equity whatsoever.
HARP is expected to reach up to 6 million U.S. homeowners who would otherwise be unable to refinance.
HARP is not a new program. It was originally launched in 2009. However, the program’s first iteration reached fewer than 1 million U.S. households because loan risks were high for banks, and loan costs were high for consumers.
With HARP’s re-release — dubbed HARP 2.0 — the government removed many of HARP’s hurdles.
In order to qualify for HARP, homeowners must first meet 3 qualifying criteria.
First, their current mortgage must be backed either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Loans backed by the FHA or VA are ineligible, as are loans backed by private entities. This means jumbo loans and most loans from community banks cannot be refinanced via HARP.
- To check if your loan is Fannie Mae-backed, click here.
- To check if your loan is Freddie Mac-backed, click here.
The second qualification standard for HARP is that all loans to be refinanced must have been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009. Mortgages securitized on, or after, June 1, 2009 are HARP-ineligible.
There are no exceptions to this rule.
And, lastly, the third HARP qualification standard is that the existing mortgage must be accompanied by a strong repayment history. Homeowners must have made the last 6 mortgage payments on-time, and may not have had more than one 30-day late within the last 12 months.
If the above three qualifiers are met, HARP applicants will find mortgage guidelines lenient overall :
- Refinancing into a fixed rate mortgage allows for unlimited loan-to-value
- The standard 7-year “waiting period” after a foreclosure is waived in full
- Except in rare cases, home appraisals aren’t required for HARP
Furthermore, HARP mortgage rates are on par with non-HARP rates. This means that HARP applicants get access to the same mortgage rates and loan fees as non-HARP applicants. There’s no “penalty” for using HARP.
To apply for HARP, check with your loan officer today.