About Government Refinance and Home Purchase Programs

Information and Updates on Government Mortgage Programs

[Update — The Fed has been compressing mortgage interest rates on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, and USDA mortgages for some time now. Due to those efforts and other market factors, mortgage rates and APR’s on most 15-30 year fixed government-backed mortgages have recently been coming in between 3.5% and 4.875%. Contact us today to learn more.]

HOME PURCHASES

There are several government-backed home purchase programs designed to make it easier for Americans to buy a home, including programs from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, USDA, and the VA. The goal of these programs is to allow for low down payments and to make it easier for people with less than perfect credit to qualify for a mortgage. With mortgage interest rates still near historical lows and housing prices increasing across the country again, now is a terrific time to look into buying a home. Fill in the contact form on our home purchase programs page to learn more about the available government-backed purchase programs and perhaps to get pre-qualified for a home purchase loan.

HOME REFINANCES

For Homeowners Who Have Equity

There are several superb government-backed refinance programs for borrowers who have even a little equity in their homes and there are various good reasons to seek a refinance:

Contact us in the form in the sidebar to be pointed in the right direction on these refinance options.

For Homeowners Who Are Underwater Or Upside Down On Their Mortgage(s)

There are several options for the millions of U.S. homeowners who owe more on their home than the property is currently worth. Here are a few:

1. FHA Streamline Refinance — If you currently have an FHA loan, refinancing through the FHA streamline program is an excellent option. It is a low cost, low headache process designed to lower payments and interest rates. Fill in the contact form on this page if you have an FHA loan and would like to learn more about the FHA-to-FHA streamline program.

2. VA streamline (IRRRL) Program — For borrowers who have a VA loan now, the VA to VA streamline (also known as the IRRRL program) is a terrific, low cost way to significantly reduce payments and interest rates, even for borrowers who are underwater on their homes. If you have a VA loan contact us to learn more about the IRRRL program.

3. HARP Refinances — With President Obama’s HARP program, qualified homeowners can refinance a conventional first mortgage which is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac no matter how underwater they are. (See here to find out if your conventional mortgage is backed by Fannie or Freddie.) As long as the current Fannie or Freddie loan was started prior to May of 2009 there should be no loan-to-value (LTV) limits. Further, while the HARP 1.0 program did not work well for people currently paying mortgage insurance (PMI), the changes in the HARP 2.0 program allow borrowers with PMI to participate. The HARP program does not allow second mortgages to be combined with first mortgages but will allow the first mortgage to be refinanced with the second mortgage remaining in place as is (called a subordination). Contact us to learn more.

4. Loan Modification Programs — If you are unable to qualify for any other refinance program or if you are delinquent on your mortgage payments and are on the verge of foreclosing your best bet is often to seek a loan modification from your current lender. Loan modifications normally reduce mortgage payments by lowering interest rates or extending the loan period. Obama’s new “Home Affordable Modification Program” (HAMP) gives lenders incentive to modify troubled loans as well. See this page for strategies on seeking a loan modification.

Be sure to bookmark this site and check back for the latest updates on government-backed efforts focused on alleviating the housing crisis in the US (see stories below). To contact us about your options just fill in the contact form in the sidebar.

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LATEST GOVT-RELATED MORTGAGE NEWS:

Filed under Government Home Purchase Programs, Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

After the general election in November of 2016 mortgage interest rates spiked significantly higher than they had been the weeks and months prior to the election. Since then rates have not returned back to the low levels we saw in the summer of 2016 but they have eased back a bit from the peaks we got in December of 2016. While rates are not currently at all time lows, mortgage interest rates remain at least near 50 year lows compared to long term averages. And with housing values rising steadily in most parts of the country, buying a home is looking like a wise financial decision for more and more American families. The summer housing rush is coming to an end soon but there are often excellent housing deals to be had in the fall months. Contact us today to see about getting pre-qualified for a government-backed mortgage.

Comments (0) Posted on Wednesday, August 16th, 2017


Filed under Government Home Purchase Programs

While the USDA and VA mortgage programs require zero down payment when purchasing a home, the two most popular government-backed mortgage programs, FHA and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, do require down payments. The minimum FHA down payment amount is 3.5% of the purchase price and in most cases you need 5% of the purchase price as a down payment for Fannie/Freddie loans. Because many families have trouble saving up 3.5-5.0% of the purchase prices, there are down payment assistance (DPA) programs that have popped up all over the country.

Not Federal Programs

There is no DPA program sponsored by the federal government that works throughout the country. Rather all current government-backed DPA programs are sponsored by either city, county, or state governments. Because of this, there are no uniform rules when it comes to DPA programs — the availability and terms of DPA programs depend on the city, county, or state you live in.

DPA programs are usually not free

In the vast majority of cases, DPA programs are not “free money”. Rather, it is common for the programs to pay for themselves by charging significantly higher interest rates than the rates one would get by coming up with a down payment on one’s own (through savings or help from family). The problem with significantly higher interest rates is it could cost a borrower vastly more in interest paid over the life of the loan than the DPA money they are getting up front. In addition to higher interest rates, some DPA programs also charge up front fees that roll into the new loan. In addition, some DPA programs are just additional loans that need to be paid back rather than forgivable grants.

Because of these things, it is extremely important for borrowers to ask a lot of questions before diving into a local DPA program.

Alternatives to DPA programs

First, there are the USDA and VA mortgage programs to check out. Second, in many cases borrowers who are looking at FHA or Fannie/Freddie loans would be better off saving up a little longer or getting gift funds from family/friends to cover the down payment rather than use the local DPA program. Gifts from family are acceptable sources of down payment money (even if one intends to pay the gifter back eventually). If avoiding a DPA program means getting a significantly lower interest rate, the extra effort often pays off in the long run.

Contact us on our home purchase page to learn more or to get directed to a lender who could help you get pre-qualified for a home purchase loan.

Comments (0) Posted on Friday, April 28th, 2017


Filed under Government Home Purchase Programs

As we discuss on our home purchase page, there are several government-backed home purchase programs available. The main categories of programs are Fannie/Freddie loans, FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA rural housing loans. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Below is a list of some pluses and minuses of each program.

Fannie/Freddie loans

+ No up front fees
+ No PMI when you have more than 20% equity

– Requires at least 5% down payment
– Normally requires good credit scores and history

FHA loans

+ Only requires 3.5% down payment
+ Much more lenient on credit scores and past credit problems

– Has a 1.75% up front fee that rolls into loan
– Requires monthly PMI fee for the life of the loan

VA loans

+ Zero down payment required
+ No PMI

– Must have military experience to be VA eligible
– Charges up front fee of at least 2.25% of loan (unless borrower has disabled status)

USDA Rural Housing loans

+ Zero down payment required
+ Much smaller upfront fee and ongoing pmi-like fee than FHA

– Only applicable in areas deemed “rural” by USDA
– Requires good credit scores and history
– Has upper income limits — borrowers who make too much not eligible

All of these programs are excellent overall. It’s mostly a matter of which program fits best. Contact us today at our home purchase page to learn more about which program fits best for you and to get pre-qualified for a home purchase loan.

Comments (0) Posted on Saturday, March 11th, 2017


Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

In January of 2017 the FHA announced that it would be reducing its ongoing mortgage insurance fees for 85 basis points per year to 60 basis points per year. While not an earth-shattering change, it would have been a nice reduction in the pmi rates for new FHA borrowers. The change was scheduled to go take effect on January 28. Upon entering office, the Trump administration put a hold on all pending changes. As a result, the reduction of FHA pmi is currently, and possibly permanently on hold. Time will tell how the new administration will deal with government-backed mortgage programs over the next four years. So far, no major changes — just this one minor change in plans.

Comments (0) Posted on Saturday, February 18th, 2017


Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

For many years the maximum loan amount for a conforming (Fannie/Freddie) mortgage has been set at $417,000 except in counties designated at “high-cost” counties. Starting in January of 2017 that limit has finally been increased to at least $424,100 in every county in America. The limits are higher than that in high-cost counties still too. Likewise, the maximum loan amount for FHA loans in non high-cost counties has been increase nationwide from $271,050 to $275,665. The loan limit changes aren’t earth-shattering, but they will be helpful to borrowers who are getting loans right near the limits. See here for the loan limits in every county in America.

Contact us today to learn more about available government-backed home purchase and refinance programs.

Comments (1) Posted on Thursday, December 8th, 2016


Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

As we reported last spring, the USDA Rural Housing program will be significantly improving its terms starting in October of 2016. Here is an excerpt of the announcement from the USDA:

Upfront Guarantee Fee and Annual Fee Reduction for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017

This message provides advance notice of the upfront guarantee fee and annual fee structure that will be effective for Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (SFHGLP) loans in fiscal year (FY) 2017, which begins October 1, 2016 and ends at the close of business on September 30, 2017. The upfront guarantee fee will change from 2.75% to 1.0% of the loan amount. The annual fee will change from 0.50% to 0.35% of the average scheduled unpaid principal balance for the life of the loan.

Please refer to the unnumbered letter (UL), “Upfront Guarantee Fee and Annual Fee for Fiscal Year 2017,” for additional details.

In short, the fee to get started on a USDA loan will be cut by more than 60% and the only ongoing monthly USDA fees will be cut but 30%. All of that makes the USDA Rural Housing program even more useful. The USDA Rural Housing program is great for folks willing to buy a home away from urban areas and who don’t make more than about $80-90k per year as a household. The rates are low on USDA loans and USDA home purchase loans require $0 down. For a map of eligible areas see here.

Contact us today for more info on the USDA Rural Housing mortgage program.

Comments (0) Posted on Friday, September 9th, 2016


Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

The world financial markets did not take last week’s British vote to leave the European Union well. Stock markets all over the world tumbled Friday and Monday as the shock waves of the so-called Brexit vote reverberated around the world. The immediate result was investors fleeing stocks and racing to the relative safety of bonds. That rush to buy bonds pushed the yield on the 10 year T-Note lower, and as usual, mortgage interest rates mirrored that move lower. Mortgage interest rates dropped between 1/8 and 1/4 percent between Thursday and Monday. Rates have remained lower so far this week but with a rebound in the US stock markets on Wednesday we’ll see where rates end up for the rest of the month.

The takeaway from this is that now is an excellent time to research a mortgage refinance or a home purchase. Rates are near historic lows and there are several government-backed mortgage programs available. Contact in the sidebar for guidance regarding refinances or on our home purchase page for assistance qualifying for a home purchase loan.

Comments (0) Posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2016


Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

In the wake of the 2007 housing bubble bursting, adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) got somewhat of a bad rap. The problem in the early 2000’s was too many borrowers were purchasing homes with ARMs without understanding how they work. The result was their ARMs began adjusting higher years down the road and unprepared borrowers found themselves unable to make their payments. But ARMs can be very useful loans when understood and utilized properly.

Paying a premium for 30 years mortgages

While 30 year mortgages are currently the most popular form of mortgage, they come at a cost. There is a premium, in the form of a higher interest rate, to be paid for the guarantee of keeping a rate fixed for 30 years. For homeowners who keep their mortgage a over the course of decades, that premium is well worth the security of a long term fixed rate. But the reality is that most people sell their home or refinance within 5 years of getting their mortgage. So most folks get a higher rate for the right to have a fixed rate for 30 years but then end up selling or refinancing a couple of years later anyway.

Who should get an ARM?

Folks who feel fairly confident they will sell their home in the next 5-10 years are excellent candidates for ARM mortgages. Rates on ARMs are significantly lower than rates on 30 year mortgages so refinancing to an ARM (or purchasing a home with an ARM) can lead to huge interest savings.

Contact us to get a quote on a government-backed ARM loan

If you think there is a good chance you’ll sell your home in the next 10 years contact us today to get an estimate on a refinance to an ARM. Rates on ARM lows are surprisingly low and a refi to an ARM could save you a ton of money over the next few years before you sell your home.

Comments (0) Posted on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016


Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

There was some question leading into yesterday’s Federal Reserve announcement whether the Fed would raise its short-term interest rate or not. The answer came back as a “no” for now. The Fed cited mixed economic reports in recent months in their decision to hold off on a rate hike. The Fed is looking for more clear signs that the U.S. economy is healthy and growing before hiking rates again, and there is no sure way to know when that will happen. Most pundits are forecasting that it will likely be September at soonest before a rate hike might be on the table again.

All of this means we can expect nice low mortgage interest rates for another couple of months at least. That means now is a great time to look into a refinance or a home purchase. With home values continuing to increase across the country, cash out refinances are becoming popular again. Increasing home values are also making homes more attractive as investments. Contact us today to get more info on available refinance and home purchase programs.

Comments (0) Posted on Thursday, June 16th, 2016


Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

The jobs report that came out about a week ago came in with a much lower number of new jobs created than analysts were expecting. While unemployment numbers are staying relatively low, the number of new jobs created in the economy was troubling to the financial community. The immediate result of the report was a pullback in the stock markets and a dip in the yields for government bonds. That dip in bond yields, as usual, correlated with a small dip in mortgage interest rates. So mortgage interest rates are looking good right now.

If you are considering a refinance or a home purchase, now is an excellent time to get the process started. Contact us in the sidebar for for refinance information, or on our home purchase page for info on home purchase mortgage programs.

Comments (0) Posted on Thursday, June 9th, 2016


Filed under Government Home Purchase Programs

The USDA Rural Development home purchase program just announced plans to significantly reduce fees starting this fall. Here is what the USDA said in a recent email announcement:

Upfront Guarantee Fee and Annual Fee Reduction for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017

This message provides advance notice of the upfront guarantee fee and annual fee structure that will be effective for Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (SFHGLP) loans in fiscal year (FY) 2017, which begins October 1, 2016 and ends at the close of business on September 30, 2017. The upfront guarantee fee will change from 2.75% to 1.0% of the loan amount. The annual fee will change from 0.50% to 0.35% of the average scheduled unpaid principal balance for the life of the loan.

Please refer to the unnumbered letter (UL), “Upfront Guarantee Fee and Annual Fee for Fiscal Year 2017,” for additional details.

The USDA RD program helps home buyers purchase homes with no money down, provided the the home is located in a designated rural area. See our home purchase page for more details on the program. This reduction in fees will make the USDA RD program an even more attractive option for home buyers.

Comments (0) Posted on Friday, April 29th, 2016


Filed under Government Mortgage Financing Programs News

Janet Yellen, the Chair of the Federal Reserve, gave a speech on Tuesday that sent stocks higher and the yield on bonds lower. The gist of Ms. Yellen’s speech was that the economy is showing signs of weakness and thus the Fed would not be raising its interest rates any time soon. As usual, mortgage interest rates dipped in concert with the dip in the yield on the 10 year T-Note. With signs of a possible new recession mounting, the Fed won’t want to do anything to make economic conditions worse in the short run. That is a good sign for folks looking to refinance or to purchase a home. Contact us today to get more information on available mortgage programs while rates are still near historical lows.

Comments (0) Posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2016