Category Archives: Homeowner

What Is A VA Loan?

The VA Loan became known in 1944 through the original Servicemen’s Readjustment Act also known as the GI Bill of Rights. The GI Bill was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and provided veterans with a federally guaranteed home with no down payment. This feature was designed to provide housing and assistance for veterans and their families, and the dream of home ownership became a reality for millions of veterans. The GI Bill contributed more than any other program in history to the welfare of veterans and their families, and to the growth of the nation’s economy.With more than 25.5 million veterans and service personnel eligible for VA financing, this loan is attractive and has many advantages. Eligibility for the VA loan is defined as Veterans who served on active duty and have a discharge other than dishonorable after a minimum of 90 days of service during wartime or a minimum of 181 continuous days during peacetime. There is a two-year requirement if the veteran enlisted and began service after September 7, 1980 or was an officer and began service after October 16, 1981. There is a six-year requirement for National guards and reservists with certain criteria and there are specific rules concerning the eligibility of surviving spouses.

VA will guarantee a maximum of 25 percent of a home loan amount up to $104,250, which limits the maximum loan amount to $417,000. Generally, the reasonable value of the property or the purchase price, whichever is less, plus the funding fee may be borrowed. All veterans must qualify, for they are not automatically eligible for the program.

VA guaranteed loans are made by private lenders, such as banks, savings & loans, or mortgage companies to eligible veterans for the purchase of a home, which must be for their own personal occupancy. The guaranty means the lender is protected against loss if you or a later owner fails to repay the loan. The guaranty replaces the protection the lender normally receives by requiring a down payment allowing you to obtain favorable financing terms.

Why Do Mortgage Interest Rates Change? Part II

If the demand for credit reduces, then so do interest rates. This is because there are more people who are ready to lend, sellers, than people who want to borrow, buyers. This means that borrowers, buyers, can command a lower price, i.e. lower interest rates.

When the economy is expanding there is a higher demand for credit so interest rates go up. When the economy is slowing the demand for credit decreases and thus interest rates go down.

 This leads to a fundamental concept:

Bad news (i.e. a slowing economy) is good news for borrowers as it means lower interest rates.
Good news (i.e. a growing economy) is bad news for borrowers as it means higher interest rates.


Another major factor driving interest rates is inflation. Higher inflation is associated with a growing economy. When the economy grows too strongly the Federal Reserve increases interest rates to slow the economy down and reduce inflation.

Inflation results from prices of goods and services increasing. When the economy is strong there is more demand for goods and services, so the sellers and producers of those goods and services can increase prices. A strong economy therefore results in higher real-estate prices, higher rents on apartments and higher mortgage rates.

Also lenders naturally want to see a positive return on their money as their reward for lending it. This leads to the concept of the “real” rate of return. This is typically 3% per year. If inflation is 4 % per year, lenders will want to earn 7% per year on their money.

Likewise, if prices are rising rapidly, people are inclined to borrow “today’s” money so as to repay it with “tomorrow’s” money, which will be worth less.

Mortgage rates tend to move in the same direction as interest rates. However, actual mortgage rates are also based on supply and demand for mortgages.

 There is usually an almost fixed spread between A credit mortgage rates and treasury rates. This is not always the case. For example, bank failures in the Far East in the late 90s caused mortgage rates to move up while treasury rates moved down as fearful investors fled to the safety of the treasury bonds and notes.

Bonds Rates

There is an inverse relationship between bond prices and bond rates. This can be confusing. When interest rates move up, bond prices move down and vice versa. This is because bonds usually have a fixed price at maturity––typically $1000. The bond will start off being sold for the face value, $1000 and at a set interest rate. If interest rates go down, then this bond will go up in price so that these bonds will remain fairly priced compared with current bond offerings. Obviously the longer before the bond matures for the face value, $1000, the greater the price premium will be to enjoy that higher than current yield for the rest of the bond’s term.

The inverse also applies. If interest rates move up, the bond seller will have to reduce his price to offer a similar yield to current bond offerings.

Questions? Contact us at info@mortgagelinkhome.com or visit our web site at www.mortgagelinkhome.com

Why Do Mortgage Interest Rates Change? Part I

To understand why mortgage rates change we need to know why do interest rates change and there is not one interest rate, but many interest rates!

Prime rate: The rate offered to a bank’s best customers.
Treasury bill rates: Treasury bills are short-term debt instruments used by the U.S. Government to finance their debt. Commonly called T-bills they come in denominations of 3 months, 6 months and 1 year. Each treasury bill has a corresponding interest rate (i.e. 3-month T-bill rate, 1-year T-bill rate).
Treasury Notes: Intermediate-term debt instruments used by the U.S. Government to finance their debt. They come in denominations of 2 years, 5 years and 10 years.
Treasury Bonds: Long debt instruments used by the U.S. Government to finance its debt. Treasury bonds come in 30-year denominations.
Federal Funds Rate: Rates banks charge each other for overnight loans.
Federal Discount Rate: Rate New York Fed charges to member banks.
Libor: : London Interbank Offered Rates. Average London Eurodollar rates.
6-month CD rate: The average rate that you get when you invest in a 6-month CD.
11th District Cost of Funds: Rate determined by averaging a composite of other rates.
Fannie Mae Backed Security rates: Fannie Mae, a quasi-government agency, pools large quantities of mortgages, creates securities with them, and sells them as Fannie Mae backed securities. The rates on these securities influence mortgage rates very strongly.
Ginnie Mae-Backed Security rates: Ginnie Mae, a quasi-government agency, pools large quantities of mortgages, securitizes them and sells them as Ginnie Mae-backed securities. The rates on these securities affect mortgage rates on FHA and VA loans.

Interest-rates move because of the laws of supply and demand. If the demand for credit (loans) increases, so do interest rates. This is because there are more people who want money, buyers, so people who are willing to lend it, sellers, can command a better price, i.e. higher interest rates. If you have questions about your mortgage please contact me or visit my web site at www.mortgagelinkhome.com.

Am I Covered?

Here’s a great article about Homeowners’ Insurance by Mary Snider, CLU, CPCU, State Farm® agent:

Some of you may be asking yourself, “Does my insurance coverage fit my needs?” “Do I have enough coverage to replace my home in the event of a serious loss?” “What affects my premium?”

These questions create a need for you to regularly review your Homeowners Insurance and to consider other questions such as: “Have you recently remodeled or improved your home?” “Has the rate of inflation risen since your last appraisal?” “What influences the building construction costs in your area?”

As you consider these issues, it is important to understand that real estate values measure the market value or selling price for a home. For insurance purposes, it is important to estimate the current replacement cost which is the amount needed to hire a contractor to repair the damage or to rebuild the home to its pre-loss condition. Dwelling replacement costs used by insurance companies do not include the value of the land. Market conditions in your area may impact the amount it will cost to rebuild your home if you experience a loss.

Building contractors or professional replacement cost appraisers are a good source for obtaining an estimated replacement cost for your home. Estimates from these sources should reflect your home’s specific features and details. If you are unable to obtain a detailed estimate from these sources, I can help provide an estimate.

Once you know the estimated cost to replace your home, you can decide how much insurance coverage fits your needs. You should also consider other policy endorsements such as back up of sewer and drain coverage, or additional coverage for personal articles with high values such as jewelry, fine arts, and collectibles.

You may want to consider higher personal liability coverage or the need for Flood Insurance which is provided by a separate policy. In addition to the amount of coverage you decide to purchase, your premium is impacted by optional endorsements you select, your claim history, the amount of your deductible, company longevity and multiple policy discounts such as home/auto.

Finally, remember to periodically review your insurance coverage with your agent. That will ensure you have the coverage you need.

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If you have any questions, feel free to email me!

Ellen