Why Do I Need To Get Preapproved For A Loan?

Q: I’m in the market for a new home, and everyone I talk to, from friends to financial Home with Sold Sign in frontadvisors, suggests I get preapproved for a mortgage before I start house hunting. Why is this so important?

A: You’re actually on the receiving end of great advice. When looking to take out a large loan, whether it’s for purchasing a home or buying a car, having that preapproval in hand before you start your search is crucial.

Depending upon the type of loan, the process of getting preapproved for a loan can take time. The lender will begin by asking for your financial history and other personal information. If you have a co-borrower, the lender will need this information about them as well.

You’ll be asked to provide your Social Security Number (SSN) and for permission to allow the lender to access your credit report. If the information you provide is satisfactory, as is your credit report, the lender will begin constructing the details of your loan. When they have determined how large of a loan you will be eligible for, they will grant you a preapproval letter. The letter will also detail your estimated interest rate on the loan, though that will sometimes also depend upon the specifics of your purchase, such as the year and condition of a car or appraisal on a home.

Having your preapproval letter will shorten the loan process significantly when you’re actually ready to take out the loan. However, that is only a small benefit of getting preapproved before you start “shopping.”

Here are some other advantages of getting preapproved for a loan:

1.) You’ll know what you can afford

Your preapproval will tell you exactly what you can afford. This way, you’ll avoid being disappointed later when you have your heart set on a certain home only to be told you can’t swing it financially. Knowing how large a loan you’ll qualify for will simplify your search and get you into your new home or car sooner.

Be sure to calculate other monthly costs, such as property taxes, home insurance and increased auto insurance rates when determining the actual amount of money you’ll need to shell out each month.

2.) Don’t get taken for a ride

Picture this scene at a car dealership:

Salesperson: So, you’re here to buy a new car! What are you looking for?

You: Well, I want something with a smooth ride and –

Salesperson: Got it. And how much of a monthly payment can you afford?

You: Weeelll, I think I can swing up to $200 a month, but I’d rather something closer to $150 if you —

Salesperson: Step right this way please! Let me show our new line of Camrys at just $205 a month! They have the most luxurious feel and the ride is smooth as butter!

What happened here is, quite simply, a salesperson looking to make the most money out of a customer. When you’re unsure about how much you can spend, the dealer will capitalize on your uncertainty and try to sell you a car that just barely skims the maximum amount you’ve decided you can afford.

Also, when you name a monthly payment you can manage, the dealer will work with that number instead of talking about the price of the car. They may try to inflate the payment with charges and fees just because they fit within your named payment amount.

In contrast, when you show up at the dealer with a preapproval in hand, the salesman will have to show you cars with price tags that fit within your loan amount.

Don’t get taken for a ride; get your preapproval before you set foot in the dealer shop!

3.) Be taken seriously

A car dealer will take you a lot more seriously when you wave that preapproval in their face, since having that information in hand shows you’re ready to buy.

When purchasing a home, the same rule holds true. A realtor will be able to assist you more efficiently when you know exactly how much house you can afford. They may also give you better service since you’re showing that you’re serious about buying a home. In fact, many realtors refuse to show homes to buyers who don’t have a preapproval in hand.

4.) Know you have financing you can trust

When you show up at the car dealership with a preapproval from your credit union, you know the deal is in your best interest. Many auto shops have access to several financing options and they’re almost always going to put customers into financing options that are in their own wallet’s best interests.

5.) Purchase your dream home

A preapproval makes you a valuable customer. It also helps you stand out from the pack. If you’re looking to buy a home in a competitive market, you may be competing with several other buyers for the same house. Having your preapproval will give you a leg up on bidding wars. A seller will be more eager to work with someone who’s already started the mortgage process. You can end your search sooner with a preapproval!

In the market for a new home or car? Don’t forget to call, click, or stop by Destinations Credit Union to hear about our fantastic rates on mortgage and auto loans!

Your Turn: Based on your own experience, why do you think it’s important to get preapproved for a loan? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://www.investopedia.com/mortgage/pre-approval/ 

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/loans/advantages-of-getting-pre-approved-for-a-car-loan/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.zillow.com/mortgage-learning/pre-approval/amp/

Your Down Payment On A House

Q: I’m hoping to buy a house in the next few months. How much of a down payment should I have saved up?
A: When you think about your down payment, balance is key. If you think you might sell the house within just a few years of ownership, having a large down payment exposes you to greater risk if real estate prices fall. However, a larger down payment can also mean lower monthly payments.
The value of $1,000 is pretty hard to quantify, especially in a real estate market that might have $30,000 homes and $300,000 homes. Instead of thinking about the amount of money, think about a percentage of the value of the house. When making these decisions, here are three questions to ask yourself.
Can I put 20% down?
A down payment of 20% is something of a magic number. With 20% down, borrowers are no longer responsible for carrying Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI is a protection most lenders require to cover their investment in you should you not repay your loan. The premiums for this insurance are paid by you, either as a lump sum at closing or included with the mortgage payment, and thus make your monthly payment higher. PMI usually costs between 0.5% and 1.0% of the value of the loan, though prices vary based upon several factors. Using this model, on a $100,000 loan, expect to pay around $83 more per month.
20% is also a magic number for interest rates. Lenders see a 20% down payment as a sign of a responsible borrower. Meeting that down payment amount means the borrower typically has a lifestyle of spending responsibly and saving money, both of which are signs of a solid credit risk. Regardless of your credit score, a 20% down payment can help save on the costs of the loan.
Can I get help to get there?
There are a wide variety of home buyer assistance programs designed to help people reach that 20% threshold. These come in two forms: grants and delayed repayment loans. They’re offered by housing departments at all levels of government and frequently go unused because home buyers don’t think they qualify.
Grants are no-strings-attached checks that you have to use for a specific purpose, in this case, the down payment on a home. Many are limited by income level or region of purchase, but they are definitely worth exploring. Even more options are open to first-time home buyers, former or current members of the armed forces and people in public service-oriented professions.
Delayed repayment loans are similar. These are second mortgages held by an organization for a portion of the total cost of the house. They do not begin accruing interest until after you’ve paid off your primary mortgage, and some of them are forgiven after you’ve owned the home for a certain amount of time. These are available from housing authorities and private organizations all over the country.
One important note: While you can get a lot of help, you cannot use another loan, even one from your parents or relatives, as part of your down payment. Doing so is a federal crime and can get you in serious trouble! In the best case, lenders will be suspicious of large deposits you can’t explain, and may even refuse to issue the mortgage loan.
If you can’t get to a 20% down payment, there are several options. You could make the smaller down payment, understanding that you’ll have to pay higher interest rates and PMI. You could also look at houses in lower price ranges. You might also decide to postpone home ownership and focus on saving so you can get there the next time around.
Should I go over 20%?
Making a very large down payment is an investment. Think of your mortgage like a savings account. You make an initial “deposit” when you make a down payment. A portion of your payment goes into your account each month while the rest goes to cover interest, which is the price you pay for living in your savings account. The return on your investment in the large initial down payment is the lower total interest you’ll have to pay.
When deciding if you want to put more than 20% down, think of your mortgage rate like the rate of return. If you can put another $1,000 down, that’s $1,000 less you’ll need to borrow. If your interest rate is 4%, then the return on that investment is $40 in interest you don’t have to pay. On the other hand, you don’t have that $1,000 to invest somewhere else now. If your retirement account earns 5%, then that same $1,000 will earn $50 if invested there. Making the larger down payment will end up “costing” you $10 in the long run.
As with any other investment decision, weigh the pros and cons. It may have a comparatively low rate of return, but the risk is negligible. Unless the value of your house drops dramatically, you won’t lose your down payment. It can be a smart move to put down as much as you can, but make sure to leave your retirement fund and emergency fund intact.

Mortgage Pre-qualification

Q: Every ad for mortgage companies I read talks about pre-qualification or pre-approval. Is that something I need to do before I start house shopping?

A: There are two phases to securing a mortgage.

Imagine the lending market as sort of trying to set up a friend on a date. You tell your friend about the partner you have in mind for them, and based on what you tell them, they decide if that person is worth a date. They’re considering the possibility of the date, assuming everything you say is true. If you tell your friend about the potential date’s persistent body odor problem, they might choose to say no. If you tell your friend about their beau-to-be’s interesting job, sense of humor or winning smile, they’d probably set up a date to see for themselves. That’s part 1.

Of course, your friend doesn’t go immediately from your description to wedding bells. First, they have to actually date and get to know each other. Your friend has to see if the qualities you described are actually true and make sure there’s nothing hiding beneath the surface that would rule them out. That’s part 2.

While it does make for some confusion, lenders may refer to either part 1 or part 2 as pre-approval, and the other as pre-qualification. Rather than focusing on the labels, focus on the steps involved and what the steps mean. We’ll keep calling them “part 1” and “part 2.”

What do I need for part 1?

In part 1 of the process, you describe your financial situation to a potential lender. Usually, this information includes salary, savings and current debts. The lender may or may not pull your credit score at this point. Based upon that information, the lender will make a determination about the kind of loan you might qualify for, assuming everything you’ve said is true.

You don’t need to prove anything at this point. It can be done over the phone, over the Internet or in person and no documentation is required.

During Part 1, you might want to compare possible mortgage rates. There’s a lot less paperwork involved, so it’s much easier to ask a lender to run through a variety of scenarios. You can look for a loan situation that combines the monthly payment, interest rate, term and down payment where you have the most comfort.

Part 1 can be completed early in the house shopping process. In fact, it makes sense to do this before you view the first house. That way, you won’t fall in love with a house you can’t possibly afford or convince yourself to settle for a house that doesn’t really meet your needs. This also gives you the chance to straighten out any potential kinks in your financial situation before starting part 2. Don’t worry about multiple checks on your credit if necessary. Credit bureaus lump mortgage inquiries within 30 days together as 1 inquiry, so they won’t adversely affect your credit score.

It’s important to note that pre-qualification is not a guarantee of a loan. To continue our example from above, your friend agreeing to a first date does not mean you get to start planning a wedding! Completing part 1 is a way to get an idea of how much you can afford to spend during your house hunting, as well as a way to show potential sellers that you’re serious. Completing part 1 illustrates to a buyer that you are already part of the way through the lending process, and it’s less likely that your financing will fall through.

What do I need for part 2?

Part 2 is where the paperwork starts to fly. At this point, a lender is deciding whether or not to issue you a loan. Successfully completing part 2 means a lender is ready and willing to provide you with a loan up to a specified amount.

To navigate this step, you’ll need to prove everything you claimed in part 1. This means you need to provide tax forms to substantiate your income and account statements to verify your savings. You’ll also need to sign a variety of forms giving your lender or their agents the power to talk to employers, landlords and the IRS about your financial security.

Generally, lenders will want tax returns for the past 2 years, including supporting documents like W-2 forms. If you’ve switched jobs a few times in that span, you may need to go further back to demonstrate consistent employment. If you’re an independent contractor or own a small business, documentation requirements are significantly steeper. You’ll need to provide enough financial disclosure to show lenders that you can make the payments.

Completion of part 2 is a conditional approval for a loan. If the house you’re buying passes appraisal, you will get financing on the terms you’ve agreed upon with your lender. The paperwork is a bit more cumbersome, so you don’t want to do this multiple times. Only complete this step with a lender you’re going to borrow from.

Part 2 is best to complete before you make an offer, especially in competitive markets. A letter of prequalification or preapproval that shows your financing is in place does a lot to reassure sellers that your offer will survive until closing. If you’re on the fence about what house you’ll put an offer on, this process can still be completed with the property identified as “to be determined”.

Don’t worry if this process seems confusing. You’ll be working with a qualified mortgage professional who deals with it every day and can answer all your questions. One of the benefits of working with Destinations Credit Union, an institution you trust, for your mortgage is that it clears your mind to focus on the important stuff, like where to put the sofa!

This Guy Paid Off His Mortgage In Three Years. So, Why Does He Regret It And Why Is Everyone Angry At Him?


There’s not much in life that is more freeing than finally paying off a large bill. Suddenly, our checking accounts are flush, the future feels more open, and even our favorite jeans seem to fit better. When it comes to a mortgage, of course, that seems so far down the road it’s difficult to imagine, particularly for those just starting out.  If you’ve always paid rent or a mortgage, it just kind of feels like that bill is always there, the background noise of your life. 
So, when 30-year-old Canadian resident Sean Cooper paid off his mortgage in three years, he celebrated by burning his mortgage papers and found a news crew to film it.  But, here’s the twist: He isn’t happy about it, and judging from social media posts and comments on the news coverage, no one else is, either.  In fact, Cooper seems full of regret and everyone else is full of scorn or pity.  What’s going on?
Cooper sacrificed a lot to pay off his mortgage, and even he admits he focused too much on his financial goals.  He worked three jobs, including as a full-time CAD technician $75,000 (about USD $56,000) white-collar job, a customer service job at a local grocer, and writing freelance articles.  In addition, he supplemented his income by living in the basement of his home while he rented the house to others.  As many commenters note, that’s not a healthy way to live and it’s unsustainable.
Often, we lose sight of what’s around us when we focus on our financial goals.  That moment when the bill is paid seems so sweet that we don’t really think about everything it’ll take to get us there.  If you’d like to make financial headway on your mortgage without making yourself crazy, we’ve collected some tips below.  The key idea among them is finding a balance, so you’ll need to adjust them for your own personal situation.  If you’d like a more personal meeting to discuss your financial goals and finding balance, let us know.  Also, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. 
Take gigs, not jobs.  It’s easy to see why renting out one’s home and securing extra employment are so appealing.  Regular income feels safe and makes it easy to plan ahead.  But extra employment can also be confining; It’s difficult to work full-time and still find time for your hobbies, your family, or the occasional afternoon spent binge-watching Netflix (something everyone needs occasionally).  If you don’t find time for your hobbies, you’ll find that your job has become your hobby.  If you don’t spend time with your family, you just won’t have the bonds that families need.
Instead, look at gig-based jobs like Uber and Air-BNB.  While they might not offer the steady income of a regular-hours job, you can scale your work up or down depending on need and availability. Plus, if you don’t feel like working on a given day, you don’t have to.  With Air-BNB, the owners of a rental property can cancel for any reason with as little as 24 hours notice.  That’s the kind of fantastic option that’s not available if you have renters who are playing their music a little too loud above you. 
Turn your hobby into a gig.  If you want another way to generate income, one that doesn’t require you to do mindless tasks, and you want to keep enjoying your hobby, then it might be time to turn that hobby into a gig.  Do you scrapbook or make crafts?  Open a store on Etsy.  Are you an avid collector? Start investing and re-selling collectibles on eBay.  Do you build or tinker? Time for a workshop. Have a design? Put together a working prototype and take to Kickstarter.  Want to write a novel?  Fifty Shades of Grey and The Martian both started life as fan-made, self-published ebooks. It’s never been easier to find an audience or customer base.
If you’re looking to make the move from weekend warrior to someone who can make money with your passion, get some start-up capital. You’ll need workshop space, supplies or a new laptop.  We’ve got a lot of ways for you to invest in yourself.  Who knows, that investment could be the start of a new path to leaving the rat race behind. 
The goal is financial security, not paying off a single bill. There’s no prize in paying off your mortgage. It’s just one less bill to pay.  Your goal is overall financial security.  That could mean refinancing your mortgage to have cash in hand when interest rates are low, or investing significantly when interest rates are high.  So, don’t pay off your mortgage while racking up credit card debt or neglecting your student loans.  Instead, take a look at all of your debt.  Work from the highest interest rate to the lowest, paying off each in turn, so you can pay as little interest as possible every month.
One of the easiest ways to do this is with a home equity loan.  Using the equity you have built in your home will get you a lower rate than your credit cards or medical bills are charging, and it can even be a fixed rate, so you can benefit if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates.  All you need to do is secure a home equity loan then transfer your credit card balances onto the loan.  Sometimes, simply calling the credit card companies with a check from your home equity loan in hand will get them to drop the rate you’re being charged.  Fantastic! Now you can use your loan on a different card.
Whatever you do, you’ve got to be happy.  It’s difficult to find balance, particularly with debt and obligations hanging over our heads. The solution isn’t to take on more obligations and retreat from humanity. The solution needs to be understanding that money exists as a means to an end, not an end itself. 
Sources: 

How Boomers Can Retire The Way Millennials Work


You may have noticed a surge in the number of ponytails and slightly exposed tattoos around the workplace water cooler. Or perhaps you find you now need to get to the office earlier if you plan to land a space for locking up your bike. Maybe you’ve had to make peace with the fact that the kid in your meetings who doesn’t look old enough to ride solo on a roller coaster is not an intern, but an actual employee!  Face it, millennials are a force in the American labor force. In fact, by 2020, they’ll represent more than half of all workers in the country.  In spite of what you’ve read, those pesky youths can actually teach us experienced folks some important lessons about money, some of which might make you rethink part of your retirement planning.  Here are some of the things they’ve figured out that the rest of us might want to consider:

1.)  Don’t be afraid to move.  USA Today recently reported that one-third of all employees in America are freelance, by-the-job workers.  In many cases, these jobs are being handled by young people, many of whom commute over Wi-Fi from home or a coffee shop, instead of 45 minutes of bumper-to-bumper on I-695.  In fact, many of those young people would need an airplane ticket to come into the office.  An increasing number of young people live a “digital nomad” lifestyle, living in the cheapest cities and working wherever they feel most inclined.  It’s easier to make ends meet living in San Antonio, where the median home price is $150,000, than it is in San Francisco, with a median home price six times as high.
The same logic works for retirement.  There’s no reason to keep living in a pricey neighborhood just because it’s a convenient drive to the office you’re not visiting any longer.  In fact, many retirees are following the digital nomads abroad, retiring to Asia and Central America, where the cost of living is pennies on the dollar.  In Belize, for example, a couple can retire with a budget of around $13,000 per year. That’s below the poverty line in the United States! How many flights could you buy for the grand-kids with that kind of savings? Would they love to visit you on the beach?  You bet they would!
 2.) Know what to rent … know what to buy.   It used to be that every young person’s living room looked the same:  futon from the curb, coffee table from Ikea and an enormous corner bookshelf filled to the brim with DVDs. Before that, the DVDs were LPs, the coffee table was a spool table and that futon was probably the same futon from the same curb, just 20 years earlier. But if you ask millennials how many DVDs or albums they own, they’ll respond with a confused look.  Why would anyone own movies or music?  Paying $20 for one movie or album doesn’t make sense when you can get all of Netflix for $8 per month or Spotify for free. 
The same is true for a lot of the things you might want in retirement. Is it time to replace that car? Borrow at the lowest rates possible.  Do you want to own that house forever?  Why not create a leaseback arrangement? Do you own a timeshare?  Sell it and put the proceeds into a high-yield money market account.  It’ll go a long way toward paying for your vacations, wherever you choose to go. 
3.)  Get connected.  Young people can do just about everything through social media, even when they’re otherwise not technologically inclined.  I recently had a millennial ask me what use anyone could possibly have for Excel, which was stunning by itself, but then she proceeded to arrange a meeting over Instagram on her phone at the drop of a hat and on a Saturday afternoon, which was even more shocking.
Make your social media work for you.  Go through the social media apps on your phone, see what you use them for and why you have so many.  Then ask young people why they have apps you don’t. Do those apps sound useful?  If so, get them. If not, try them out anyway. While you’re at it, follow the businesses you use most often, so you can find news and deals.  It’s better than email, faster and easier to interact.  

Most importantly, if you’re not following us on Twitter and Facebook, now’s the time.  We put out a lot of great info to help you with your finances, and you can shoot us a question. With just a couple of clicks, you can see the questions other people have.  You might even learn the answer to a question you didn’t even know you needed to ask!  
Sources:

http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/2014/04/16/the-worlds-9-most-affordable-places-to-retire