Mortgage Options

While we may currently be in turbulent economic times, I want to make it known that solid and safe mortgage options still exist.

I must also state that the mortgage industry has changed. There are no longer no-income qualifying loans, and 100% financing is almost non-existent. What it reminds me of is the financial climate that existed when I first obtained my real estate license in 1987. Back then you pretty much had to have at least 3% down and you had to provide full documentation to show your ability to repay your loan. That is a good description of today’s mortgage market. But even in this tight climate, there are some interesting options.

First is FHA. FHA is a mortgage option that is backed by the Federal Government. It is intended to help people become homeowners, but it is not limited to first-time buyers. The necessary down payment is just 3%, although this is increasing to 3.5% in January. The purchase price can be as high as $362,790 in Clackamas, Multnomah or Washington Counties. There are no pre-payment penalties. It is fully assumable. The mortgage insurance premiums are typically lower than those available on conventional mortgages, and the interest rate offered is typically very competitive. As of 10/18/08, there are 34 houses for sale in Lake Oswego that are priced within the FHA loan limit.

If you are a veteran, you will enjoy your veteran’s benefits when you buy a home because you are one of the few borrows who can still get 100% financing. For a purchase of up to $417,000 you can finance 100% of the purchase price. If the purchase price is over $417,000, you can go as high as $1,500,000 if you have a 25% down payment for the amount that exceeds $417,000. There is no mortgage insurance and the interest rates are always on the low end of what is offered. As of 10/18/08, there are 69 houses for sale in Lake Oswego that are within the VA loan limit for 100% financing.

My resource for the information about FHA and VA loans is Robin Cusma, a senior loan officer at Northwest Mortgage Group. I think of Robin as my miracle worker. If you are looking for a good loan officer, I highly recommend her services. She can be reached at rcusma@nwmortgagegroup.com.

So what if you don’t have 3% down and you are not a veteran? Can you still get 100% financing? Yes, you have two options that I know of. First is the Guaranteed Rural Housing Program. This is a government sponsored loan to assist rural communities. The catch is that the town that the house exists in has to have a population of less than 25,000 people, so it won’t work in Lake Oswego. The other program is offered exclusively at Key Bank. It is the Key Community Mortgage Program and it’s pretty amazing. Not only is it 100% financing, but it has no mortgage insurance. In order to obtain this loan, one of two criteria must be met. The property must be located in a targeted area (and Lake Oswego is not in a targeted area, to see the targeted areas click here) or the household income of the borrower must be 80% or less of the medium income for the county. In Lake Oswego/Clackamas County, the medium income is $65,000 and 80% of that is $52,000. So could you buy a house in Lake Oswego using this program? Probably not. House prices in Lake Oswego remain substantially higher than the $162,000 sales prices that would be the top-end purchase price with the income restriction. However, I think it is a good program to be aware of and it may be something that a borrow would want to consider using in other parts of the metro area. My source for information about the Key Community Mortgage is Lori Randall, a mortgage advisor at KeyBank. For Lori’s website, click here. Or you can contact her at lori_e_randall@keybank.com .

Finally, not focusing on low-down payment options, there remains traditional conventional financing. With 5% or more down, conventional loans remain available to qualified buyers with good credit. Because of the high value of houses in Lake Oswego, a jumbo mortgage may be needed. Are those available? Yes.

A jumbo mortgage is a mortgage that is greater than $417,000. It typically has a slightly higher interest rate than a “conventional” mortgage (that is a mortgage amount of $417,000 or less). When the mortgage crisis first began a year ago, jumbo loans were the most drastically affected. There were a couple of weeks when they simply were unavailable. The jumbo market has since stabilized. A jumbo loan can now be obtained with as little as 10% down if the borrower has a credit score of at least 700 and for loan amounts up to $650,000. Remember that with less than 20% down, there will be mortgage insurance. The old habit, to avoid having to pay mortgage insurance, was to get a combined loan that was an 80% first mortgage and a 10% second mortgage. The borrower ended up with 90% financing, but didn’t have the additional monthly cost of mortgage insurance. There are rumors that these sort of combined loans may be coming back. We will have to wait and see.

The source of my information for jumbo loans is Naida Paris at Valley Mortgage. I have known and worked with Naida for over 20 years. There is no lender with greater integrity than Naida. I highly recommend her services. Naida can be reached at naidaparis@yahoo.com .

While the economic times may be troubling, the mortgage industry has not come to a total standstill. If you find yourself at a point in your life where you need to buy or to sell a home, there are good mortgage options available.

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2 Replies to “Mortgage Options”

  1. This is a great post about available financing options for buyers. The market out there right now is ever-changing – daily – and many people, including myself, are skiddish. You mentioned assumable loans and I found a great website that others might find useful. Homeassume.com is a website that allows sellers with assumable mortgages to advertise their properties and its free for buyers to search. So cool!

  2. Thanks so much for the info on Homeassume.com. This is just the sort of tool that may help people to make the best of an otherwise tough situation.

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