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Conforming loan limits for 2022

When applying for a mortgage, one of the most popular options is a conforming loan. These loans are called “conforming” because they conform to the guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, federally-backed home mortgage companies created by the U.S. Congress to boost homeownership.

What do Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have to do with your home loan?
These entities exist only to support the U.S. mortgage system. They don’t originate loans. Instead, after a loan has been issued, one of the entities will buy the loan from the lender if it meets their criteria. This is an important part of the mortgage market because it allows lenders to sell loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and use the cash raised to engage in further lending.

For a loan to be purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the borrower generally needs:

  • A good credit score
  • A debt-to-income ratio of 50% or less
  • At least 3% down payment
  • A loan amount that’s equal to or less than the conforming loan limit

2022 conforming loan limits
Each year, the Federal Housing Agency decides what the conforming loan limit is. As houses become more expensive, the limits increase. In 2022, the amount increased substantially for all units.

https://www.fhfa.gov/Media/PublicAffairs/Pages/FHFA-Announces-Conforming-Loan-Limits-for-2022.aspx

­­Base limit: This is the maximum loan amount for homes in most areas of the United States.

High-cost limit: This is the maximum loan amount for homes in high-cost markets such as parts of Alaska, Hawaii, California, and Washington, D.C.

Units: The number of housing units per building.

More >> Check what the conforming loan limit is where you live.

Because conforming loans can be re-sold, they’re not as risky for lenders and often have favorable terms for borrowers. Savvy home buyers will keep their loan amount within the conforming loan limits so they have an easier time securing their loan, they’ll have more relaxed requirements, and their rates will probably be better.

If you’re looking for a conventional 15 or 30-year loan (as most people are), you may want to consider keeping the loan amount under the loan limit in order for it to be a conforming loan.

When you need a bigger loan – consider a jumbo loan
If the limits won’t get you a home you’re interested in buying, you could look into a jumbo loan. Jumbo loans won’t be purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, so they don’t need to conform to their loan limits – meaning you can get more money. If you have a strong credit score and low debt-to-income ratio, you may find a lender willing to extend one to you.

However, jumbo loans come with some disadvantages. They have stricter qualification rules, require a sizable down payment (sometimes 20% or more), and normally have a higher interest rate. For those reasons, a lot of homebuyers try to avoid them by finding a home that will keep them within the conforming loan limits.

To see whether you’ll be eligible for a conforming home loan, contact your local Mann Mortgage home lender. Together, they’ll help you crunch the numbers to see what type of loan would be best for you.

Buying a home with challenged credit

Buying a home with bad credit can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Your credit score – whether it’s good or bad – is just one of the factors your home lender will use to decide whether you’re eligible for a loan.

What is a bad credit?
Bad or “low credit” typically means your FICO score is under 600. FICO credit scores range from 300 to 850 and represent how likely you are to pay back a loan. Your score is calculated based on your payment history, amount owed, length of your credit history, new credit, and the mix of credit you have. Your score is used by lending agencies to determine whether you’ll be eligible for a loan and at what interest rate. The closer your score is to 800, the more loan options and lower interest rates you’ll have access to. Lenders tend to define the scores as:

Exceptional: 800+
Very good: 740 – 799
Good: 670 -739
Fair: 580 – 669
Very poor: 300 – 579

To check your credit report annually, you can visit annualcreditreport.com to see what your current FICO score is. It’s free to use once a year and it won’t impact your credit rating.

What’s the minimum credit score needed for a home loan?
There isn’t a universal minimum credit score needed to get a home loan. Instead, each mortgage lender decides the minimum credit score they’ll accept. But when a score is under 600 it’s classified as “subprime” and your loan options drop significantly. A score under 550 is going to have very limited loan options with very high interest rates.

Other factors mortgage companies use
Besides your FICO score, a lender will evaluate how much money you have for a down-payment, how much debt you already have, your credit history, and your income. To increases your chances at getting a loan with bad credit, the best option is to have as large a down payment as you can afford to minimize your risk to the lender.

A potential borrower with a low credit score but a sizeable down payment and a decent credit history is more likely to be approved for a loan than someone with low credit, a small down payment, and no credit history.

How much more will bad credit scores cost in the long run?
Since early 2020, interest rate on mortgages have dropped. Lower mortgage rates mean smaller monthly payments for principal and interest – and a lower cost for the loan over its life. That said, there’s still a big difference between how much someone with good credit will pay compared to someone with a bad credit score.

From the chart below, you can see a borrower with a credit score of 639 will end up paying $95,091 more in interest over the lifetime of the loan than a borrower with a credit score of 760.

Source: MyFICO.com

What home loans are available to someone with bad credit?
FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration and are designed specifically for borrowers with low credit and lower-to-middle income. You’ll need a down payment to qualify for FHA loans, but your mortgage lender may be able to secure a loan through them even if you have a FICO score as low as 500.

The best way to evaluate your loan options is to speak with a local mortgage expert. Based on your financial goals, loan eligibility, and local real estate conditions, they’ll be able to help you find the right loan for your needs.

5 tax deductions homeowners can use

One of the perks of being a homeowner is getting to use your home for tax deductions. Tax deductions reduce how much you pay in taxes by lowering your taxable income.

When filing your annual taxes, you can use standard or itemized deductions. Standard deductions are a set amount deducted from your adjusted gross income based on factors like your marital status, filing status, and age. For the 2022 tax year, it ranges from $12,950 to $25,900.

Itemized deductions allow you to manually add each item you’d like to deduct from your adjusted gross income.

If you use itemized instead of claiming the standard deduction, you can take advantage of the following homeowner deductions:

Mortgage interest
Depending on the type of mortgage you have and the way you file your taxes, you may be able to deduct interest payment on your mortgage, home equity loans, and lines of credit (if they were used to buy, build, or improve your home). The amount may vary, but for the 2022 tax year you can deduct up to $750,000 in mortgage interest.

Real estate taxes
You can deduct the real estate taxes you paid for your primary residence, co-apartment, vacation home, or land.

Mortgage points
The year you purchase mortgage points, the full amount you paid can be an itemized deduction. If you can’t deduct the points in the year you bought them, you may still be able to deduct them over the life of the loan.

Mortgage insurance
For the 2022 tax year, the amount you paid for private mortgage insurance premiums (or mortgage insurance premiums for FHA-baked loans) can be an itemized deduction. However, your loan must have been taken out after January 1, 2007 to qualify.

Energy-efficient improvements
Renewable energy tax credits are available for both existing and new construction primary and secondary homes. To see a full list of credits, visit energy.gov.

BONUS: Possible first-time homebuyer credits
This isn’t a tax credit, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re considering buying a home for the first time. If coming up with a down payment is keeping you from becoming a home buyer, keep an eye out for the proposed First-time Homebuyer Act. It’s a bill that, if passed into law, gives eligible first-time homebuyers up to a $15,000 credit.

Another bill is the Downpayment Towards Equity Act of 2021 which is a first-generation homebuyers grant of up to $25,000 to use towards down payment, closing costs, mortgage interest rate reduction, and other home purchase expenses.

Talk to your loan officer about the status of these bills and whether you’re eligible for them (some are retroactive so you may be eligible even after your home purchase) or other assistance programs.

Next steps
The above list will give you an idea of some of the tax benefits available to homeowners. At Mann Mortgage, we’re home loan experts, not tax pros. If you have any questions about your taxes, be sure to work with a local tax professional.

There are a lot of financial benefits for home ownership. If you’re interested in finding out how your current home or new home can best benefit your financial goals, give us a call. We’ll crunch the numbers together and find the right mortgage program for you.

What is a cash-out refinance?

A cash-out refinance is when a borrower has a mortgage they’ve been paying off and they replace it with a new mortgage for more than their remaining principal. The difference between the principal balance of the first mortgage and the new one is given to the borrower in cash.

How is it different than a standard refinance?
In a standard refinance, borrowers work with their lender to get a lower rate of interest or a new payment schedule. Once the standard refinance is secured, they have a new monthly payment amount based on the new agreement – but their balance on the loan remains the same. In a cash-out refinance, a borrower works with their lender to pay off their home’s mortgage balance with a new loan based on their home’s current value. The difference between the original mortgage the borrower is paying off and the new loan is kept by the borrower. In order to have some equity in their home, most cash-out refinances limit the amount a borrower can receive at 80-90% of their home’s equity in cash (VA refinances don’t have this requirement).

In other words, don’t expect to pull out all the equity you’ve built into your home. If your home is valued at $350,000 and your mortgage balance is $250,000, you have $100,000 of equity in your home. You could do a cash-out refinance of somewhere between $80,000 to $90,000.

The benefits of a cash out refinance
If interest rates are at a new low, you have equity built into your home, and if you would like cash on hand to pay off high-interest credit cards or fund a large purchase, a cash-out refinance is something you might want to consider.

The cons of a cash out refinance
There are fees involved in a cash-out refinance, and you’ll have to make sure your potential savings are worth the cost. Like any refinance, you’ll pay closing costs of around 2% to 5% of the mortgage. And if your lender allows you to take out more than 80% of your home’s value, you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). Freddie Mac estimates most borrowers will pay $30 to $70 per month for every $100,000 they borrowed.

And, don’t forget your overall debt load will increase with a cash-out refinance.

Alternatives to a cash-out refinance
One potential alternative is a home-equity line of credit (HELOC), which you could also use to pay for a home renovation or to pay off credit card bills.

>> Learn more about a HELOC.

Should you get a cash-out refinance?
If you have enough equity built into your home and you get a great rate, they might be a great solution for a home improvement or renovation. To find out what the current rates are and to check your home’s current market value, contact your local Mann Mortgage expert today.

What makes a good starter home?

A starter home is a single-family, condo, or townhome that a first-time homeowner can afford and may outgrow. They’re normally small, modest, and lacking in upgraded amenities. They can be a good investment for some young people and a way to build equity towards a bigger and better house in the future. They’re becoming more expensive and harder to find. Some people are skipping starters altogether – choosing to rent for longer to save money towards a bigger first home purchase.

Stats on starter homes:

  • 31% of home buyers are first-timers.
  • The increased price of homes and the amount of student debt young adults have are impacting the median age of first time homebuyers. It’s the highest it’s been since they started tracking it  – 33 years old.
  • If you’re like most people, you’ll spend an average of 13 years in a home before you sell it
  • The longer you live in your home, the more equity you’ll build in it

Characteristics of a good starter home

It’s in a nice neighborhood
It’s important for you to get a home in as good an area as you can. What exactly is a “good” neighborhood? Generally, it’s one that’s quiet, walkable, in a good school district, close to amenities, and is well maintained. Homes in a good neighborhood will be safe to live in and be easier to sell when you’re ready. If you have any questions about neighborhoods, ask your hometown home lender. They’ll give you an unbiased opinion on the best areas in your community.

The taxes are affordable
Your mortgage is just one portion of what you’ll pay each month for your home. One of the biggest ongoing expenses for your home will be your property tax. This is an annual tax levied by your state and local governments on your land and buildings. And it’s a sizeable fee – usually thousands of dollars. The tax is collected once a year, but many homeowners put money into an escrow account each month to pay the fee. Find out what the current owners paid for their taxes, but be aware the taxes will increase over time. Some states increase property taxes annually while others reassess them at set increments (as example, every 5 years).

Utility bills aren’t too high
Starter homes are no frill, which make them affordable to purchase. The price was kept down by NOT getting the most energy-efficient and latest upgrades. And if the starter home is older, be especially aware of the potential utility costs. You can request to see copies of the seller’s utility bills to see what it may cost you for your electric, water, and other utilities.

It’s affordable
Be strategic about your purchase. If you are planning on selling your home in a few years, think of your starter home as an investment. That means, buy something that will easily sell again. Find the best house in your price and in a good location – and don’t go over budget! If you make a wise purchase now, you’ll be better able to afford an upgraded home in a few years.

What are mortgage points and when should you buy them?

After negotiating the price of a new house and being approved for a home loan, some people opt to purchase mortgage points to lower the interest rate and save on the overall cost of their loan.

Mortgage points are a fee a borrower can pay their mortgage lender to lower the interest rate on their home loan. Each point lowers the interest rate around 0.25% and costs 1% of the mortgage amount. The points are paid for when the loan closes. A full point, multiple points, and even fractions of points can be purchased.

When Should You Buy Mortgage Points?
There’s a “break even” point on mortgage points. It’s when you’ve saved more in payments than you paid for the points. Typically, it takes a few years for that to happen. Do the math for your mortgage and make sure you’ll be in your home at least as long as it’ll take for you to break-even.

When Shouldn’t You Buy Points?
Generally speaking, if you have enough cash to purchase mortgage points, you may be better off putting that money towards your down payment instead. A larger down payment could get you a lower interest rate, reduce the amount you’d pay for mortgage insurance (or eliminate it all together), or reduce your monthly payment.

Mortgage points are a long-term strategy to save money, so if you don’t plan to be in your house long they may not be worth the cost. If you’re interested in mortgage points, talk to your local home lender. They can run all the scenarios to see how best to pay off your loan.

What happens to your mortgage in a divorce?

Couples going through a breakup face many difficult decisions including what to do with their mortgage. In 2020, the average mortgage debt in the U.S. was $208,185 with a payment of just over $1,500 per month. When your relationship changes, what do you do with your mortgage bill?

If the mortgage is in both your names, you’re both responsibilities for the monthly payments regardless of who is living in the house. Missed payments will negatively impact both your credit scores. So the first thing you’ll need to decide is how to continue to make payments during your separation. Then decide what you’ll do with your mortgage.

There are normally two ways separating couples handle their mortgage. Couples either sell their home or refinance to remove one person from the mortgage.

Sell your home and pay off your mortgage
Find a local real estate agent, agree on the asking price, and place your home on the market. When you accept an offer for the house, use the funds to pay off your mortgage. If you’re lucky enough to get any additional proceeds from the sale, those funds can be split between you and used towards financing your new homes. It’s a good way to make a clean split and each have a little extra money to go towards your new life.

Refinance your house in one person’s name
If one of you would like to stay in the house, you can work with your home lender to refinance in just one person’s name. To do this, the spouse remaining in the home will have to apply for the new loan, your home lender will verify they are able to make payments on their own, then the refinance will close. Refinancing typically takes 30 – 60 days and the spouse who stays in the home will have to pay closing costs.

A less common option is for you to continue to co-own the home together. You will both continue to have the mortgage listed as a debt on your credit report and you’ll both be negatively impacted by any missed payments. But it may be a good option if a custodial parent can’t afford the house on their own. By co-owning it together, your kids are able to stay in their house and have a sense of continuity.

A note about community property
Some states observe community property laws meaning both you and your spouse make equal ownership claims to assets, like houses, acquired during your marriage. In these states, you’re both responsible for the mortgage debt whether your name is on the loan or not. And you’re both going to split the home sale proceeds wither you’re on the mortgage or not. The law is more detailed than that, so be sure to contact your attorney if you have any questions.

As of 2021, there are nine states where community property laws are in place for married couples:

• Arizona
• California
• Idaho
• Louisiana
• Nevada
• New Mexico
• Texas
• Washington
• Wisconsin

The law is also observed in the U.S. Territories of Guam and Puerto Rico.

If you have any questions about your mortgage or how you can refinance to remove someone from it, be sure to contact your loan officer. Mann Mortgage loan officers are here to work through any changes you need to make to your mortgage due to life changes.

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