Beach Haven West View from a BoatWhat amazes me about the Beach Haven West section of Manahawkin is the view from a boat. When you drive down the streets, you see well-manicured homes
You Might Not Need 20 Percent Down
Tip #2: Opt for an FHA loan
If you're a first time homebuyer who just can't get a 20 percent down payment together, a loan through the Federal Housing Administration (or FHA) may be the answer, says Grace Keister of Irvine California's First Team Real Estate. "FHA loans are great because you are able to secure them with less-than-perfect credit and looser underwriting guidelines," says Keister. "[They] are the most popular and easiest way for first-time homebuyers to get help securing a low down payment. "This type of loan is available to first time homebuyers with a down payment as low as 3.5 percent, she explains. Additionally, your closing costs can be rolled into this type of loan, so you don't have to worry about the upfront cash costs. The one caveat is that your loan and closing costs can't exceed 96.5 percent of the home's fair market value. And while this is a great option for borrowers who can't put down a large down payment, there is one cost that comes with this loan: Private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI is meant to protect lenders against loss if a borrower defaults on a loan. Most lenders require PMI until the borrower has paid at least 20 percent of the loan's principal, but some FHA loans require PMI for the life of the loan, so make sure to talk to your lender about the exact terms of the mortgage. To qualify for this loan, a borrower must be able to put down at least 3.5 percent, since the loan covers 96.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. And eligible properties are one-to-four unit structures. Beyond that, you can have less-than-perfect credit, but may be deemed ineligible in the following cases, according to HUD:
- You have delinquent federal debt.
- You have suffered a foreclosure in the previous three years.
- You have declared bankruptcy in the past two years.
- You have made late mortgage payments in the past 12 months.
- Your credit report reveals that you are disputing any credit accounts or public records.
Tip #4: Lower your debt-to-income ratio In order to get away with a low down payment, it helps to be financially fit. One major indicator of this is a strong debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, says Gjeldum. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the DTI ratio is one way lenders measure your ability to make monthly payments on money you've borrowed. It's calculated by adding up monthly debt payments and dividing them by gross monthly income (before taxes and deductions), says the CFPB site. Generally, the down payment amount isn't more important than a borrower's DTI, according to Joe Fairless, a real estate investor and mentor in New York City. "The down payment is merely a means to acquire the house," explains Fairless. "The real issue is if the buyer can afford the monthly payments, so really it's a matter of the right debt-to-income ratio to ensure the borrower can afford the payments." So what's the right number? A DTI that's 43 percent or less is ideal, because studies show that borrowers with a higher DTI have difficulty meeting their debt payments, according to CFPB. So if you have a low down payment, you should strive to have a DTI under 43 percent. That number is also based on Qualified Mortgage (QM) guidelines, which ensure that you're more likely to make your payments, says the CFPB site. If your DTI is higher than 43 percent, there are two ways to reduce it. First, you can increase your income, which could mean working overtime, asking for a salary raise, or working an additional side gig. But if that doesn't seem feasible, your second option is to pay off your debt, which could make your DTI drop dramatically.
Tip #5: Increase your credit score
If you want to land a mortgage with a low down payment, your credit score could help in your eligibility for certain loans, because it tells lenders the likelihood that you will repay your debts. For example, an FHA loan generally requires a FICO score of at least 580 to qualify for maximum financing with a low down payment of 3.5 percent. But what if your credit score isn't so great? "If you have anything less than ideal on your credit history, a true mortgage professional will be able to help counsel you on ways to improve scoring, how to get things permanently removed, etc.," Gjeldum says. They can also help you spot errors. "Spending a week or two fixing errors on your report can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan," says Gjeldum. The lower your credit score, the more costly everything becomes - including the rate, fees, and mortgage insurance premiums. Nathan Fisher, a lighting analytics specialist with Technical Consumer Products of Cleveland, Ohio credits his strong credit score with helping him get a low down payment mortgage. The 24-year-old had a credit score of 750 and was approved for a government-backed FHA loan. According to HUD's website, borrowers with credit scores below 499 are not eligible for FHA loans. Additionally, a borrower needs to have a credit score of at least 580 in order to qualify for financing with a 3.5 percent down payment or less.
I grew up in Beach Haven on Long Beach Island and graduated from The American University with a BS in Business Administration. While in college I met my wife Holly. After school I worked as a Wage ....
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