Home Financing

How Much Down Payment Do I Need?

Buying A Home: How to Handle the Down PaymentMany people think they need 20 percent down to buy a home, but it may not be necessary. Home buyers, particularly first time home buyers, could have several alternatives to making a large down payment. Gaining a better knowledge of typical down payment arrangements will help borrowers to make the right choice for them.

Understanding the 20 Percent Down Payment Myth

Lenders offering traditional mortgage loans might cite 20 percent as a standard down payment, but there is a little nuance to this assessment. Putting down a 20 percent payment to get into a house has...

How to Use the 203k Loan to Your Advantage

Understanding the 203k FHA LoanA 203k loan is a way for home buyers to both buy a home and fix it up without being subjected to outrageous interest rates. This is a specific type of FHA loan created to stimulate homeownership rates and bring attention to some of the nation's more decrepit neighborhoods. It takes a lot of gumption to buy a home in need of repairs, and the government would like to see more of that go-getter attitude. See how to use the 203k loan to your advantage, so you can end up in the home (and the block) of your dreams.

How 203k Loans Work

A 203k loan isn't the same as a typical FHA loan, although they...

Understanding VA Loans: A Guide to Alternative Home Financing for Military and Veterans

Understanding VA LoansVA loans are perfect for those in the US military who want to purchase a home without breaking the bank. These loans don't require the potential home buyer to make a major down payment, which is usually the biggest hurdle in purchasing a home. VA loans may be made through private lenders, but they're backed (up to a certain amount) by the VA, provided the applicant meet all of the requirements.

Eligibility Requirements

Veterans Affairs (VA) loans are available to any active or formerly active member of the military. Certain spouses of deceased military members are also eligible, if their spouse passed...

FHA Home Loan Basics: What Homebuyers Should Know About the FHA Loan

FHA Home Loan BasicsIt can be hard to come up with a 20 percent down payment. However, this does not mean that prospective homeowners need to delay getting into a first home. Lenders do prefer a larger down payment but will approve a home mortgage with a smaller down payment.

Homeowners can put as little as 3.5 percent and step into their first home. Learn more about FHA home loans and how you may qualify today.

Own Your First Home

FHA loans make it more affordable for individuals to own their first ...

Dreaming of a Home Out in the Country? Using a USDA Loan to Finance Your Home Purchase

Whether your dream home is a refurbished Joanna Gaines style farmhouse or a modern home out in the country, a USDA loan may help you make your dream a reality. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) single-family loan program assists qualified homebuyers by guaranteeing mortgages or making direct loans for the purchase of homes and land.

Types of USDA Loans

While the USDA has a number of loan products available, the organization's Section 502 Direct Loan Program and Section 502 Guaranteed Loan Program are available to US citizens and other legal residents who wish to purchase a single-family residence. Unlike other government loan programs, like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, the home must be located in a designated rural area like ...

Financing Your Seattle Home: Is Cash the Only Option?

Anyone looking to purchase real estate in Seattle knows that the market is one of the most competitive in the country. With minimal inventory levels and increasing property values, buyers are finding the conditions to be challenging. It's not uncommon to send through 3, 4, 5 or more offers on various properties before one finally gets accepted. Now, recent data published in the Puget Sound Business Journal indicates that 20 percent of real estate transactions are being paid for in cash.

That's great for those who have the cash available to secure luxury listings, but for many people, cash is not an option. So how can you finance a home purchase in a way that works for you, while also getting an accepted offer? 


Mortgage Mistakes: What NOT To Do Before Applying for a Mortgage

You often read about what to do before applying for a mortgage to buy a home. However, despite all the attention paid to the housing market and restrictive lending standards over the past few years, it is still quite common for home-buyers to be unaware of what "NOT" to do before, or during their application for a mortgage.

In this post, we'll discuss some of the potentially costly mistakes home buyers make when applying for a mortgage to buy a home.

Don't Change Your Job or Career

It's surprising how often we encounter...

Applying for a Mortgage: Top Ten Tips for Home Buyers

Applying for a mortgage these days, while not nearly as difficult in the past few years, still has challenges. While lending standards have loosened up a bit, the housing market has become more difficult for home buyers, with limited inventory and multiple offer situations. As a result, home buyers quickly discover they MUST be fully prepared when they commit to searching for their next home.

What can you do to ensure your offer will be considered, while also receiving the lowest cost mortgage with best terms? Below are Top 10 Tips to consider when applying for a mortgage, to help make your next home buying experience more enjoyable - and hopefully result in a winning offer.

applying for a mortgage...

Increasing Home Mortgage Fees May Impact Seattle Home Buyers

Dollar Signs - Mortgage RatesAre you waiting to purchase a new Seattle home in 2014? Take note... as in addition to likely increasing interest rates, mortgage charges & fees will likely be more expensive for many borrowers!

As a result of changes in the mortgage market, home buyers looking to finance their next home purchase with a mortgage can expect to pay more in 2014.

Regulator Announces Changes to Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

A Federal Government regulator currently oversees Fannie & Freddie Mac. These regulations were placed over both entities as a direct result of the 2007-2008 housing market meltdown - which were caused by risky, or downright lazy lending practices. The regulator recently announced that in early 2014, higher fees will be charged to borrowers for loans without larger down...

First Time Home Buyer in Bellevue? Planning Ahead is a MUST!

mortgage planning credit & debtWanting to buy a home or condo in Bellevue, or anywhere on Seattle's Eastside as a first time home buyer? Take notice...

It can happen when you least expect it: an opportunity unexpectedly opens up - and you suddenly realize that the time to become a homeowner is here! It may happen when the landlord of the Bellevue home you've been renting suddenly decides it's time to sell. Or, during a search for a rental, you happen upon a new local listing that's such a bargain you'd be crazy not to snap it up!

Or more likely in the hot Bellevue housing market these days, you've finally found that "perfect" home that came on the market today after looking for month. Problem is 22 other home-buyers ALSO want that same home or condo, resulting in a bidding war. This is not an...

What Documents Do You Need When Applying For a Mortgage?

mortgage documentsIt Pays to Be Fully Prepared for a Mortgage

While it has gotten "easier" for home buyers to apply for a mortgage during the past couple years, don't be mislead - it's still an arduous process, as many of our Seattle area clients will tell you. Thus, it truly pays to be to be fully prepared before seriously looking for a home, as knowing what's ahead can save a home buyer thousands of dollars long-term.

All mortgage applicants, regardless of income or financial status, should expect to provide lenders with plenty of documentation prior to approving the mortgage application and funding the loan. Between July - September 2012, fewer than 6% of banks tightened mortgage guidelines, and roughly 10% of banks actually loosened them. But, don't be fooled... applying for a mortgage is...

Keep Your FICO Score High For Best Mortgage Rates

Thinking of buying a home in Seattle soon? For today's home buyers, the value of "good credit" has never been higher. Virtually all Mortgage loan approvals will depend on your FICO score, as does your final mortgage rate, which varies depending on what range your FICO score falls into.

If you're shopping for a home in Seattle, or contemplating a refinance, be aware of how credit behaviors can affect your FICO score. Even small events can make a big impact. For example, we often work with clients who's score is only off by a couple points from getting a the "best rates." Do you think the lender is going to make an exception? Probably not... So, it pays to know where you stand with your FICO score several months in advance.

Tips to Improve Your FICO Score

Recently we blogged about the...

Paying Credit Card Balances Before the Statement Date - Applying for a Mortgage

credit cards and mortgagesBuying a new home and applying for a mortgage? For the next 2-3 months, you should consider paying off your credit card balances in full just prior to the "statement date."


Yes... yes... I know, you proudly pay all your balances in full, and you carry no debt. So what's the problem? Why on earth would you want to pay your balance before the statement date?

Because if you don't, your credit card charges and balance as of the statement date will be reported to the credit bureaus. Thus, even if you always pay your statements in full, carry no revolving credit card debt, and never pay any interest, as far as the credit bureaus (and potential creditors) are concerned, it "looks like" you are carrying balances. So,...

What is a Financing Contingency?

financing contingenciesA Financing Contingency, in basic terms, is a clause in the home Purchase & Sale Agreement which allows a homebuyer the time necessary to apply for, and obtain financing for a new home purchase.

Not all home financing contingencies are created equal however. Depending on the region and local real estate customs, such contingencies can vary greatly, particularly when non-MLS forms or addenda are used, or other local or state promulgated forms are not used - for example, when an attorney creates the contract, or when a home builder's purchase and sale contract is utilized instead.

Thus, it is critical for a home buyer to understand the precise meaning of the financing contingency, how it relates to ...

Mortgage Rates Rise For Third Straight Week

Attention Issaquah home buyers! Mortgage rates are on the rise again... not only in the Seattle metro area, but nationwide. But don't fret, mortgage rates in Washington State are still at record-low rates. However, combined with rising home prices in Issaquah, rising interest rates further reduce home affordability for many. Thus, while we know it's "cliche" - NOW is a great time to buy a home in Issaquah, or anywhere else in the Seattle metro area.

homes mortgage rates rising in Seattle According to Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey, for the third week in a row, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate increased, this time tacking on 3 basis points...

Seattle Home Mortgage Loans Easier to Qualify For

Seattle mortgage qualification standards less restrictiveMortgage Lending Standards Ease - Our Seattle Buyers Still Frustrated

Yet another signal of an improving U.S. economy, the nation's biggest banks have begun to loosen mortgage lending guidelines. And while mortgages may be slightly easier to come by in the past few months due to less restrictive loan qualification standards, in the Seattle area anyway, we've still had buyers who experienced significant frustrations.

Lending Standards Relax... But Patience Still Required!

Last quarter, none of the larger banks reported tightening their mortgage lending standards when compared to the quarter prior and "modest fractions" of banks reported easier mortgage standards. While this is great news, a few of...

Foreclosure Filings Predicted To Rise This Spring

After a series of months during which foreclosure filings were low, total filings have started to rise again, says RealtyTrac. The pace of foreclosures in Seattle has slowed significantly in most of the metro area, and in many areas, there are no foreclosures available for sale at all. In fact, as of the date of this post, there were only 2 foreclosed homes in Issaquah for sale, and 3 in Snoqualmie.

foreclosure filings increase nationwide


In February, 21 states posted a year-over-year increase in monthly foreclosure filings, according to the national foreclosure-tracking firm. This is nearly twice as many states as compared to December 2011, marking the highest monthly reading since November 2010.

A "foreclosure...

Buying a Home or Renting - Which is Cheaper?

home buyingAt some point, most renters ponder the wisdom of buying that first home. Although we're already seeing housing prices increase in the Seattle area real estate market, given that intrest rates are still historically low levels, you still have time to capitalize on the opportunity to become a home owner.

Buying Has Become Cheaper Than Renting

Trulia recently examined housing prices, foreclosure activity and job opportunities across the nation. Given the housing market, it's not too surprising that they found that in 74 percent of the largest metropolitan areas, it's actually cheaper to buy than to rent. Considering today's low interest rates and affordable home prices, first time homebuyers with reasonable credit scores may qualify...

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