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Mortgage Advice from BHHS Hodnett Cooper Real Estate

The Combustible Adjustable Mortgage

mortgage advice

You’ll pay a little more for a fixed rate mortgage for the peace of mind that your principle and interest payment will never increase but that’s not always the most appealing choice for some homebuyers.

The longer you intend to stay in your home,–generally five years or more–the safer you are with a fixed rate. But if you plan to occupy your home for only a short time, the adjustable rate mortgage or A.R.M. might be worth considering. You can buy a more expensive home with a lower interest rate, or you can take the difference in what you’d pay toward a fixed rate and put it into savings, if you’re that disciplined.

On the downside, risk is greater with an A.R.M., depending on its terms–when and by how much the loan adjusts in interest. An A.R.M. isn’t a bargain if you have to come up with several hundred dollars more per month after a short period, or if you have to refinance your A.R.M. into a fixed rate for several thousand dollars a few years later.

A hybrid loan may offer the best of both worlds. A hybrid is fixed for a period of time, such as five, seven or ten years, then adjusts to a new rate when the term ends, giving you plenty of time to sell your home before the first adjustment.

Talk to your lender, share your plans and calculate the differences in a fixed rate and an adjustable rate mortgage.

Using Gifts as a Down Payment

Merry Christmas, homebuyer! Don’t cash Mom and Dad’s check yet! Your loan could be denied if the money isn’t carefully documented.

Why? Gifts can cause confusion. Is your parents’ money a gift or a loan? Unless the terms are clearly defined, don’t mix the gift with your own funds. It alters your bank statements and raises your income both of which could muddy your financial picture.

Lenders require a paper trail for all monies, so no phone deposits. They also limit the size of gifts in relationship to the total down payment. Some loan programs require the borrower to contribute at least 3%down payment gifts to 5% of the down payment if the down payment is less than 20%, while other programs allow the entire down payment to be supplied by a gift.

To avoid questions, provide a certified down payment gifts letter or sign an affidavit that explain:

  • The amount of the gift, accompanied by a corresponding cashier’s check, including a photocopy of the check
  • The name and address of the gift-giver and relationship the gift-giver has to the homebuyer
  • The purpose of the gift – to be used only as a down payment on the subject property, complete with the property’s address
  • A statement confirming that the gift is not a loan, and does not need to be repaid
  • Signatures of the borrower and the gift-giver

If you’re planning to use a gift as part or all of your down payment, ask your realtor how to meet all the appropriate requirements regarding down payment gifts.