Georgia Mortgage Rates

Posted: 30 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT
Case-Shiller Change In Home Values Jan-Feb 2010
Earlier this week, Standard & Poors released its February Case-Shiller Index, a home price tracker for select metropolitan areas.
Overwhelmingly, home values fell in the 20 markets tracked by the Case-Shiller. Only San Diego showed a modest increase. The other 19 markets averaged a 1.23 percent decline between January and February.
However, that's not the story you read in the most papers. Instead, headlines read that home values were up in the United States, citing annualized data.
Unfortunately for active home buyers and sellers, year-over-year data isn't all that helpful when making a real estate decisions. It's the month-to-month data that matters. Month-to-month changes in home prices are what defines a housing market. Month-to-month is what sets the tone for contracts and negotiations on a purchase.
The rosier, annualized data published this past week just doesn't capture the reality of what was the February 2010 market. And even then, the data is somewhat useless because it's from February and May will be upon us next week.
Case-Shiller is on a 2-month lag -- hardly reflective of the "right now" of real estate.
When you're looking for real estate data that actionable, consider using sources that are more "real-time". A real estate agent may be the right place to start. Because for all the data that Case-Shiller and the other housing indices collect, it can never be as relevant to your individual needs as a well-executed, timely market analysis.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (April 28, 2010 Edition)

Posted: 28 Apr 2010 01:45 AM PDT

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishToday, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 9-to-1 to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within in its current target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

In its press release, the FOMC noted that, since March, the U.S. economy "has continued to strengthen" and that the jobs markets "is beginning to improve". This is a step up from the last meeting after which the Fed said jobs were "stabilizing".

It also reiterated that business spending "has risen significantly".

Today's statement marks the 7th straight press release in which the Fed shows optimism for the U.S. economy. Furthermore, the Fed has now closed all but one of the programs it created to support markets during last year's financial crisis.

Threats remain to growth, however. The Fed fingered a few:

  1. Employers are reluctant to hire new workers
  2. High unemployment threatens consumer spending
  3. Consumer credit (still) remains tight

Also in its statement, the Fed re-acknowledged its plan to hold the Fed Funds Rate near zero percent "for an extended period". This was expected.

Overall, the statement's tone was positive and the Fed noted that inflation is within tolerance.

Mortgage market reaction has been muted thus far. Mortgage rates are unchanged post-FOMC.

The FOMC's next scheduled meeting is a 2-day affair, June 22-23, 2010. The 55-day span between meetings will be the FOMC's longest of 2010.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

The Fed Adjourns From A 2-Day Meeting Today And What It Means For Mortgage Rates

Posted: 28 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Comparing 30-year fixed mortgage rate to Fed Funds Rate since 1990The Federal Reserve adjourns from a scheduled, 2-day meeting today. It's one of 8 scheduled Fed meetings for 2010.

Upon adjournment, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke & Co. will release a formal statement to the market. In it, the Fed is expected to announce "no change" in the Fed Funds Rate.

The Fed Funds Rate is currently in a target range of 0.000-0.250 percent.

The Fed Funds Rate is an inter-bank lending rate. It's also the basis for Prime Rate, a consumer interest rate on which credit card payments are based, among other consumer loans. Prime Rate is equal to the Fed Funds Rate + 3 percent. Credit card rates, therefore, will likely stay flat today, too.

Mortgage rates, however, should change. Possibly by a lot. The 30-year fixed mortgage does not correlate with the Fed Funds Rate (as shown in the chart at right).

The reason mortgage rates will change today is because, in its statement, the Federal Reserve will highlight vrious parts of the economy, identifying strengths, weaknesses and probable threats to growth.

These observations influence investors with a stake in bond markets and future returns and, with Wall Street on edge right now -- unsure of whether recent economic growth is a longer-term trend or a short-lived blip -- mortgage rates could shoot higher or they could drop, depending on how traders interpret the Fed.

It's a difficult time to be shopping mortgages.

Further complicating matters is Greece's recent debt downgrade to junk status. A small contagion fear is budding worldwide and, as a result, the flight-to-quality has picked up steam. Mortgage rates are down because of it but could reverse higher at any moment.

Therefore, if you're actively shopping for a mortgage today, it may be prudent to lock your rate ahead of the Fed's announcement and any major market reversal. Mortgage rates may fall today, but there's very little room for them to fall. This is, however, a lot of room for them to rise.

The Fed adjourns at 2:15 PM ET. Call your loan officer to lock your rate.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

New Homes Sales Were Strong in March, But Not As Strong As The News Would Have You Believe

Posted: 27 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

New Home Sales Mar 2009-Mar 2010The sales of newly-built homes soared in March. Even more than what was expected. But the news may not be as glowing as what the media is telling us.

Take a look at the headlines from last Friday:

  • Sales of new homes rocketed up 27 percent in March (WaPo)
  • New-home sales rise fastest in 47 years (CNNMoney)
  • Sales of New Homes Climb by Most Since 1963 (Business Week)

None of these statements is false, per se, but each is somewhat misleading. The biggest reason why March's New Home Sales was even able to rise 27 percent is because data from the month before it -- February -- was the worst in New Home Sales history.

In February, new homes sold posted its lowest level in recorded history.

A better comparison would be against March a year earlier; or October 2009, the month before the home buyer tax credit's initial expiration date.

Against both of those time periods, March 2010 fared well.

Home buyers - first-timers and repeats alike -- went under contract last month, taking advantage of the soon-to-expire federal home buyer tax credit program. The credit gives up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and up to $6,500 for repeat ones.

Buyers must be in mutual contract on or before April 30, 2010 to be eligible for the credit, and must closed on or before June 30, 2010.

The New Home Sales data included other strong housing data, too. The current supply of new homes nationwide is at a multi-year low. Along with stronger home demand, this should push home prices higher throughout the coming months.

It's no wonder builders are bullish on the economy.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 26, 2010

Posted: 26 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Federal Reserve meets Apr 27-28 2010Mortgage markets worsened last week in see-saw trading. By the time Friday's market closed, mortgage rates were higher across the board -- ARMs, fixed rates, FHA and conventional.

The biggest stories of last week were actually non-stories.

First, the ash cloud from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano dissipated, allowing warehouses to move inventory, airlines to move people, and businesses to move product. In addition, Greece moved closer to securing emergency funding that will help it stave off default.

When these two issues were threats earlier in the month, mortgage bonds rallied on safe haven buying, driving rates down. As the threats lessened over the course of last week, however, mortgage bonds sold off and mortgage rates rose.

By contrast, this week features lots of stories. Economic data will be at the forefront, as will the Federal Reserve which meets for one of its 8 scheduled meetings of the year.

  • Monday : Greece is expected to announce an aid package
  • Tuesday : Case-Shiller Index reports on home values from February
  • Wednesday : Fed adjourns from its 2-day meeting
  • Thursday : Initial Unemployment Claims are released
  • Friday : GDP and consumer confidence numbers are released

Furthermore, Wall Street will have its eye on the Senate's questioning of key Goldman Sachs employees in the wake of the SEC's fraud charge.

In general, news that's "good" for the U.S. economy will be bad for mortgage rates, and vice verse. And with mortgage rates changing as quickly as they have been, rates could really rise in a hurry.

The best defense against rising mortgage rates is to execute a rate lock. If you're nervous about rates moving higher, call your loan officer and execute your rate lock today.


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Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Home Resales Boom Into The End Of The Tax Credit; Home Values Seen Rising.

Posted: 23 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Existing Home Sales Mar 2008-Mar 2010Existing Home Sales rose in March, as expected. U.S. home buyers closed on 7 percent more homes as compared to February.

Furthermore, versus March 2009 -- a month many people equate to the low point of the U.S. economy -- sales volume was up 16 percent.

"Existing home sale" is the technical term for a home resale; a home previously inhabited by a person. It's the opposite of a "new home sale" which is a sale of a newly-constructed home.

Existing Homes Data is tracked by the National Association of Realtors® and a closer look at the March data reveals some other interesting notes:

  1. Year-over-year sales are higher for the 9th straight month
  2. Real estate investors represented 19 percent of all homes purchased
  3. First-time home buyers account for 44 percent of all buyers

Also worth noting is that the supply of available homes is down on a broader basis. At the current rate of sales, the existing home inventory will be exhausted in 8 months.

Despite banks releasing foreclosures and REO into the market, that's still one half-month less from February.

When supplies drops, home prices tend to rise. It suggests an underlying strength in housing that should support home prices through the next few months -- especially as the home buyer tax credit finishes working its way through the system.

That said, real estate markets are local. You shouldn't assume that what's happening on the national level is also happening here at home. Be sure to check with your real estate agent about local market conditions before making a decision to buy or sell.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Fight Your Real Estate Property Tax Bill Without A Lawyer

Posted: 22 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

More than 60 percent of U.S. homes are "over-assessed", says an industry trade group. Homeowners pay more in property taxes than they otherwise should have to. You might be one of them.

Have you considered fighting your real estate tax bill?

In this 4-minute piece from The Today Show, you'll learn:

  • When to file your tax bill dispute for the best chances of winning
  • How to pull your "property card" and check for tax bill-raising errors
  • What to do if the taxing authority turns down your request

Most importantly, you'll learn that don't need to hire an attorney to fight your tax bill. You just need to be prepared. Do your research and make your case. It's estimated that nearly half of all contesting homeowners are successful.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

How Iceland's Volcanoes Are Helping Mortgage Rates Fall

Posted: 21 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Mortgage rates react to natural disastersMortgage rates and home affordability have improved lately, thanks to an unlikely ally -- Mother Nature.

In the 7 days since Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull erupted, ash clouds have grounded planes, disrupted businesses, and stranded exports in warehouses worldwide.

It's a drag on commerce that's spilled over onto Wall Street. As experts debate the potential for future seismic activity, traders are taking some of their investment risk off the table.

In trading circles, it's called "safe haven buying". When the market gets cloudy, investors often move their cash into relatively safe assets. This includes government-backed securities -- mortgage-bonds among them.

Demand for bonds rise, pushing up prices and driving down rates.

Conforming and FHA mortgage rates touched a 3-week low earlier this week.

Volcanic eruptions and like natural disasters remind us: mortgage rates change for all sorts of reasons. Some we can predict, most we cannot. There's literally thousands of influences on the U.S. mortgage market.

If you've been shopping for a home or floating a mortgage rate, luck's been on your side. Mortgage rates have fallen post-Eyjafjallajökull. However, as ash clouds dissipate and business resumes worldwide, investors will regain their collective appetite for risk and safe haven buying will reach its natural end.

When that happens, mortgage rates will rise.

Therefore, use the seismic uncertainty to your advantage. Consider locking your mortgage rate sooner rather than later -- while rates are still low.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Housing Starts Data Hints That Housing Will Expand Even After The Tax Credit Expires

Posted: 20 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Housing Starts Apr 2008-Mar 2010After a strong March showing and a surprise upward-revision for February, Housing Starts are, once again, trending better.

It's yet another signal that the housing market nationwide is stabilized.

A Housing Start is a new home on which construction has started and, over the last 6 months, home builders are averaging one half-million starts per month.

This marks the highest 6-month average since 2008 and a reading one-fifth percent better from 12 months ago. Revisions to prior data have all been higher, too.

Even more interesting, though, is that the number of newly-issued building permits is exploding. Permits were up more than 5 percent last month and have climbed back to the levels of late-2008.

Housing permits are an important data point in housing because permits are precursors to actual housing starts. According to the Census Bureau, 82% of homes start construction within 60 days of permit-issuance.

Therefore, because March's housing permits increased, we should expect Housing Starts to continue to rise into the early months of summer.

This, too, reflects well on housing because the federal home buyer tax credit won't be in existence this summer. The simple fact the homes are being built now shows that housing is likely to expand even after the tax credit expires.

Non-military members must be under contract by April 30, 2010 and closed by June 30, 2010 in order to claim up to $8,000 in federal tax credits.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 19, 2010

Posted: 19 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Existing Home Sales Feb 2008-Feb 2010Mortgage markets improved last week for the second week in a row. And, also for the second week in a row, rates were down on "safe haven" buying -- just not for the same safe haven reasons as before.

If you'll remember, safe haven buying is when investors sense market risk, then move money toward less risky investments.

Well, because the U.S. government backs the bonds of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, mortgage bonds tend to fit the "less risky" description and as Iceland's volcanoes shut down air traffic in Europe, mortgage bonds benefited.

That was early in the week.

Then, on Friday, when the SEC announced fraud charges against Goldman Sachs, a second wave of bond buying began as Wall Street fled the stock market. Mortgage rates fell a second time and the improvement carried through the market's weekly close.

Conforming and FHA rates are as low as they've been since March.

This week, there's not much data due until Thursday, but even Thursday's releases won't make a huge impact on rates.

  1. Initial Jobless Claims : Important vis-a-vis broader employment figures. A strong number could push rates up.
  2. Existing Home Sales : Housing remains a key part of the economy. Strong sales are expected because of the tax credit.
  3. Producer Price Index : A "Cost of Living" index of business. A weak reading is expected because inflation is low.

Then, Friday, New Home Sales is released.

The bigger risk to home buyers this week than data is the reversal of the safe haven buying patterns that have kept mortgage rates down over the past 10 days. Keep an eye on the markets and your loan officer on speed dial. Markets can -- and do -- change quickly.

You'll want to time your lock accordingly.


 - first time home buyers

=== Google News Alert for: first time home buyers ===

On the House: Tax-credit program details
Philadelphia Inquirer
For the tax-credit program, the IRS defines a first-time home buyer as
someone who has not owned a principal residence during the three years
before the ...
See all stories on this topic:

First-time homebuyers race to snag tax credit before deadline
Denver Post
Homebuying activity has been strong in Denver, partially because of the
greater variety of properties available to first-time buyers. ...
See all stories on this topic:

Extreme fixer-upper
Detroit Free Press
It is the only option if you are a first-time home buyer and don't have the
cash to renovate," she said. The 203(k) loan is similar to a construction
loan. ...
See all stories on this topic:

Latest News: Will tax credit help first-time buyers ignite home sales?
Daily Break News
Will tax credit help first-time buyers ignite home sales? The wobbly
housing market rests on how appealing a tax credit of up to $8000 is to
first-time ...
See all stories on this topic:

Headlines: Will tax credit help first-time buyers ignite home sales?
Los Angeles News Today
(LiveDaily.com) Experimental rockers Stardeath and White Dwarfs have lined
up spring headlining dates in support of their debut album, along with a
few ...
See all stories on this topic:

Time is running out to use homebuyer tax credit
The Herald | HeraldOnline.com
Miller said she's seen a mix of first-time buyers and repeat buyers eager
to reap the benefits of Uncle Sam's generosity. The deadline has potential
buyers ...
See all stories on this topic:

Utah's housing market: Good time for buyers, but for how long?
Deseret News
MURRAY — After walking a pair of reporters through the World War II-era
brick cottage, Bill Heiner is questioned about whether the home's $209900
price ...
See all stories on this topic:

Home Sales, Goods Orders Probably Climbed: US Economy Preview
The Obama administration in November extended a credit for first-time
homebuyers and expanded it to include some current owners. The deadline for
signing ...
See all stories on this topic:


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

It's A Good Time To Look At Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Posted: 16 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Comparing the 30-year fixed to the 5-year ARM Apr 2009-Apr 2010

Each week, government-led Freddie Mac publishes a weekly mortgage rate survey based on data from 125 banks across the country. According to this week's results, the relative rate of a 5-year ARM is extremely low versus its 30-year fixed-rate cousin.

Consider this comparison:

  • In April 2009, the two products ran neck-and-neck with respect to rates
  • In April 2010, the two products are split by 0.99 percent

On a $200,000 home loan, that's a difference of $117 per month to a mortgage payment.

Adjustable-rate mortgages aren't suitable for everyone, but they can be a terrific fit given your individual circumstance. For example, any one of the following scenarios could warrant a 5-year ARM:

  1. Buying a home with an intent to sell within 5 years
  2. Currently financed with a 30-year fixed mortgage with plans to sell within 5 years
  3. Interested in low payments and comfortable with longer-term interest rate and payment uncertainty

Additionally, homeowners with existing ARMs may want to refinance into a brand-new ARM, if only to extend the initial change date on the current note.

Before opting an ARM or a fixed, speak with your loan officer about how adjustable-rate mortgages work, and what longer-term risks may exist. The savings may be tempting, but there's more to consider than just the payment.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

How To Buy Bank-Owned Homes In A Period Of Rising Inventory

Posted: 15 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Foreclosures concentrate on 4 statesForeclosure filings rose close to 20 percent nationwide last month versus February, according to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac.com, and for the 13th straight month, total filings topped 300,000.

In addition, bank repossessions reached an all-time, quarterly record. Through the first three months of 2010, banks reclaimed more than 257,000 homes.

Nonetheless, 4 states dominated foreclosure activity nationwide.

California, Florida, Arizona and Georgia accounted for more than half of all bank repossessions. It's a disproportionate distribution of foreclosures. Together, the 4 states represent just 23 percent of the overall U.S. population.

The RealtyTrac report revealed some other interesting statistics, too.

  • Foreclosure activity was up in 40 out of 50 states last month
  • Bank repossessions rose 9 percent versus the same quarter last year
  • For the 13th straight quarter, Nevada topped the state foreclosure rate

Regardless of where you're buying, foreclosures and REO are making a profound impact on pricing and product. Distressed homes are 35 percent of the overall resale market.

There's excellent value in foreclosures out there if you know where to look, but keep these points in mind:

  1. Buying bank-owned homes can take 120 days to close or more. Be flexible.
  2. Foreclosures aren’t always listed for sale publicly. Some inventory is privately-held.
  3. Bank-owned homes are often sold "as is". There may be defects that render the homes mortgage-ineligible.

The REO market can be different from the traditional "existing home" market. Therefore, if you have an interest in buying REO, be sure to talk with an experienced real estate agent first.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Why You Shouldn't Schedule Your Closing For May 28, 2010

Posted: 14 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

3-day weekends can make closings toughThe federal home buyer tax credit expires April 30 and the deadline is sparking a home sale surge. It figures to burden real estate, mortgage and title offices nationwide over the next 60 days so plan your closing date accordingly.

Especially because the last Friday in May is the Friday before Memorial Day.

Now, if the connection between the tax credit and Memorial Day is not immediately clear, think of your own office on a 3-day weekend's Friday. Some of your colleagues take a half-day at work, others take the entire day off.

Office-wide, productivity drops.

The same is true in the real estate space. Offices are short-handed ahead of a holiday so, if you're under contract for a home and plan to close in May, consider a closing date other than Friday May 28, 2010.

And meanwhile, with 6 weeks until Memorial Day, here's some steps you can take today prepare for other people's time off later.

  1. Notify your lender of your planned vacation time between now and your scheduled closing
  2. Purchase a homeowners insurance policy and prepay the first year. Send proof of payment to your lender.
  3. Have Power of Attorney forms lender-approved and signed by all parties in advance, if applicable
  4. Deposit gift monies and/or retirement fund withdrawals into an acceptable bank account, if applicable
  5. Schedule your final walk-through as far in advance as is realistic so there's time to make "fixes", if needed
  6. Have your closing funds ready at least 1 day in advance

The tax credit's expiration is around the corner and as it gets closer, real estate-related businesses are taking on more work. Basic title and mortgage tasks are taking longer to complete and that should persist for a while.

Get ahead of the curve and beat your contract dates handily. Use the checklist above and be responsive to your lender's requests.

And, if at all possible, avoid closing on the Friday before Memorial Day and even the Tuesday after -- it's when office staffs are at their smallest.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Home Renovations That Increase Your Resale Value (2010 Edition)

Posted: 13 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Not all home improvement projects are created equalNot all home improvements are created equal. Especially if you're looking for "resale value" back from your work.

An article from the Wall Street Journal lays it out cleanly. Function beats flash these days so be wary of where you spend.

Environmental upgrades such as home insulation and energy-efficient steel entry doors are recovering a much greater percentage of their cost these days than major remodels including kitchens or bathrooms. This is especially true for homes that are already "over-improved" relative to the neighborhood.

Upgrading the biggest and best homes on the block can be a losing proposition.

The article's findings include data from groups such as the National Association of Home Builders, Remodeling Magazine, and Consumer Reports. It lists the following home improvements among its top "paybacks":

  • Steel entry door replacement : 129% cost recovery
  • Wood deck addition : 81% cost recovery
  • Vinyl-replacement window : 77% cost recovery

Energy-efficiency projects also recoup costs monthly in the form of lower heating and cooling bills.

Remodeling Magazine says a larger number of homeowners will remodel their homes in 2010 with less emphasis on upgrading kitchens and bathrooms, and more emphasis on adding new rooms. From an appraisal perspective, this is a terrific way to increase your home's value -- especially if your home's bed/bath count lags your neighbors.

Before starting a home improvement project, regardless of whether your goal is increase resale value, talk with a real estate agent about other homes in the area and how they're built. At worst, you'll gather some ideas you can work into your plan. At best, you'll keep yourself from over-improving.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 12, 2010

Posted: 12 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Greece default concerns are lowering mortgage ratesMortgage markets improved last week to the delight of rate shoppers.

Against a sparse economic calendar, Wall Street turned its attention to geopolitics in Greece and the Eurozone. It didn't like what it saw. Safe haven buying buoyed mortgage bond markets last week as pricing recaptured two-thirds of its monumental losses from the week prior.

Despite last week's surge, however, conforming and FHA mortgage rates remain near their worst levels of the year and appear poised to increase throughout the summer months.

The U.S. economy is improving. From last week:

Furthermore, continuing jobless claims were down again.

Good news for the economy is generally bad news for mortgage rates. Last week, that wasn't the case because of Wall Street's want for "safe" assets right now. This includes mortgage bonds and is helping to keep consumer rates low. When the safe haven buying eases, rates should climb.

Meanwhile, this week, the calendar is back-heavy.

There's no real data until Wednesday's Consumer Price Index, and then there's a flurry of new releases through Friday's market close including Retail Sales, Consumer Confidence and Housing Starts.

Strength in these issues should push mortgage rates back up.

If you're floating or shopping a loan right now, be wary of market volatility. Rates have been jumpy since April 1 and mortgage rates are changing quickly. This week, locking in before Wednesday may be your safest, near-term rate locking strategy.


Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

Latest From : Atlanta RE 5 by 5

It's Time To Re-Approve Your Pre-Approval

Posted: 09 Apr 2010 07:45 AM PDT

Get re-approved for your mortgageAs the federal home buyer tax credit nears its April 30 end-date, there's a lot of would-be home buyers still working to get under contract.

A piece of advice for all of them : If your pre-qualification and/or pre-approval letter is more than 8 weeks old, it would be prudent to have your lender "re-pre-approve" you. Mortgage guidelines have been in flux and your original lender letter may now be invalid.

For example, over the past half-dozen months, the majority of mortgage lenders have reduced their risk tolerance with respect to:

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratios
  • Minimum allowable credit scores
  • Calculation of "assets in reserve"

For buyers of condominiums and co-ops, even the subject property itself is coming under tougher scrutiny.

Today's mortgage applicants need to be a complete package. It takes more than just good income and credit to get approved anymore and today's buyers should revisit their qualifications. What passed underwriting in January may not pass in May.

Being pro-active brings other advantages, too. If a mortgage re-pre-approval does unearth an issue, it'll be easier for every party to the transaction to address and correct it up-front versus trying to clean up a mess once a home's already under contract.

Talk to your agent and your loan officer about your pre-qualification/pre-approval letter before you bid on a home.