VA Mortgage : Eligibility standards for active military personnel, veterans and spouses and familiesHere is some great information from Dan Green regarding the VA loan program. Click here to read Dan’s blog.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ home loan guaranty program enables eligible borrowers to apply for a VA loan to buy a home or refinance an existing mortgage. But who is eligible for this program?

The answer is not everyone, but more people than might be obvious. Here’s an overview.

U.S. Military Veterans

Most veterans must complete a minimum term of qualifying active-duty service to be eligible for a VA loan, though this requirement does have a few exceptions.

The minimum term of service varies depending on the dates of that service.

Veterans Serving From August 2, 1990 Through The Present Day

Veterans who served from August 2, 1990 through the present day must have completed 24 months of continuous service or a full period of at least 90 days during which they were called or ordered to active duty.

Veterans Serving From September 8, 1980 Through August 1, 1990

Veterans who served from September 8, 1980, through August 1, 1990, must have completed 24 months of continuous service or a full period of at least 181 days of active duty. The beginning date that applies to officers for this requirement is October 17, 1981.

Veterans Serving From May 8, 1975 Through September 7, 1980

Veterans who served from May 8, 1975, through September 7, 1980, must have completed 181 continuous days of active duty. The ending date that applies to officers for this requirement is October 16, 1981.

Veterans Serving From August 5, 1964 Through May 7, 1975

Veterans who served from August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975, must have completed 90 days of active duty. The beginning date that applies to veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam for this requirement is February 28, 1961.

Veterans Serving From February 1, 1955 Through August 4, 1964

Veterans who served from February 1, 1955 through August 4, 1964 must have completed 181 continuous days of active duty.

Veterans Serving From June 27, 1950 Through January 31, 1955

Veterans who served from June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955 must have completed 90 days of active duty.

Veterans Serving From July 26, 1947 Through June 26, 1950

Veterans who served from July 26, 1947 through June 26, 1950 must have completed 181 continuous days of active duty.

Veterans Serving From September 16, 1940 Through July 25, 1947

Veterans who served from September 16, 1940 through July 25, 1947 must have completed 90 days of active duty.

Additional Eligibility Requirements For Veterans

Veterans who were discharged due to hardship, government convenience, reduction-in-force, certain medical conditions or a disability connected to military service can be eligible for a VA loan even if they don’t meet the minimum term of service requirement.

Veterans who were dishonorably discharged are not eligible for the VA home loan program.

VA Loan Eligibility For Non-Veterans

The VA home loan program is available to non-veterans, too. This eligibility class includes certain active military borrowers, their families, and others.

Servicepersons On Active Duty

Active-duty servicepersons can be eligible for a VA loan after they have served 90 days of continuous active duty. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are eligible.

Military Spouses

Some military spouses can be eligible for a VA loan, too.

If the serviceperson to whom the spouse is married is alive, the spouse can be eligible if the serviceperson has been officially declared missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW) for at least 90 days. This eligibility is limited to one-time use.

If the serviceperson to whom the spouse was married has died, the surviving spouse can be eligible if he or she hasn’t remarried and the serviceperson died on active duty, was a totally disabled veteran or was a veteran who died as a result of a service-connected disability.

Spouses who have remarried may be subject to more complicated rules.  A consultation with a VA loan expert is advised to determine eligibility.

A spouse who obtained a VA home loan with an active-duty serviceperson or veteran who subsequently died can be eligible to refinance that VA loan with a new VA loan at a lower interest rate through the VA streamlined refinance program. The serviceperson’s or veteran’s death need not be related to his or her service in this case.

Children of active-duty servicepersons or veterans, whether alive or deceased, aren’t eligible for VA loans as a benefit of the parent’s service.

Reservists and National Guard Members

Members of the National Guard and Reserves can be eligible for VA loans if they have completed six years of service in the Selected Reserve or National Guard and they continue to serve in the Selected Reserve or were honorably discharged, placed on the retired list or transferred after honorable service to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve.

Other People Eligible for VA Loans

Individuals who have completed service with certain federal government organizations also can be eligible for VA loans.

Examples include cadets at the U.S. Military, Air Force or Coast Guard Academy, midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, World War II merchant seamen, U.S. Public Health Service officers and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration officers.

Getting Your VA Loan Approval

The VA loan program is federally-supported and “guaranteed”. This means that the U.S. government protects VA lenders against loss in the event of a VA loan default. Because of this guarantee, VA mortgage rates often feature more favorable rates and terms as compared to conventional mortgages.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 30, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week- December 30, 2013The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index was improved for December at 82.5, after the November reading was adjusted from 82.5 to 75. Analysts noted that consumers were relieved when legislative gridlock ended.

Durable goods orders reached their highest level since May with November’s reading of + 3.5 percent. Without the volatile transportation sector, the reading for November was +1.2 percent.

This could be a sign of economic recovery for manufacturing, as more orders are being placed. Economists expected an overall increase of 2.0 percent for overall durable goods orders.

The U.S. Commerce Department provided housing markets with good news with its New Home Sales report for November. 464,000 new homes were sold in November against expectations of 440,000 new homes sold.

This expectation was based on the original reading of 444,000 new homes sold in October, which has been revised to 474,000 new homes sold. The latest reading for October is the highest since July of 2008.

While rising mortgage rates slowed home purchases during the summer, analysts note that home buyers seem to be adjusting for higher mortgage rates by purchasing smaller homes in less costly areas.

Home Builder Confidence recently achieved its highest reading since 2005, a further indication of overall economic recovery and housing markets in particular.

After Wednesday’s holiday, the Weekly Jobless Claims report came in with a reading of 338,000 new jobless claims filed. This reading was lower than expectations of 345,000 new jobless claims and significantly lower than the previous week’s report of 380,000 new jobless claims.

This was the largest decrease in new jobless claims since the week of November 17, 2012. After seasonal volatility associated with the holidays, analysts expect new jobless claims to decrease at a slower rate in early 2014,

Freddie Mac released its Primary Mortgage Market Survey on Thursday. Although some economic analysts had expected a jump in mortgage rates after the Fed announced its plan to begin tapering its monthly securities purchases in January, mortgage rates showed little change.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 4.48 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.70 percent. Average 15-year mortgage rates also rose by one basis point to 3.52 with discount points moving up from 0.60 to 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by 4.00 basis points to 3.00 percent, with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.

2014 shows promise of a steady economic improvements, and given the latest New Home Sales report, it’s possible that improving housing markets will continue leading the way.

What’s Ahead

As with last week, this week’s schedule of economic events is reduced due to the New Year holiday. Pending home sales for November will be released Monday, Tuesday’s economic reports include The Case/Shiller Housing Market Indices and the Consumer Confidence report.

After the holiday on Wednesday, Thursday’s scheduled reports include the Weekly Jobless Claims and Freddie Mac PMMS on mortgage rates. Construction Spending will also be released. There is no housing or mortgage-related economic reports set for release on Friday.

7 Ways New FHA Loan Limits Might Affect Homebuyers in 2014

By Scott Sheldon

saving money on a new houseThe Federal Housing Administration recently announced a reduction in high-cost area loan limits. This reduction comes in accordance with the government’s ongoing effort to retreat from the housing market. Rewind the clock back to 2008, when financial markets were significantly depressed, the economy was on the verge of recession — enter the FHA as the new outlet to support a frail housing sector.

Since then, unemployment has dropped, job growth, while still bleak, is improving, and real estate is in demand. The FHA has accomplished its goal of helping to boost the housing market. Now the government wants to minimize its exposure to bigger loans.

The FHA loan limit reduction will affect home buyers in higher-end properties. For example, if you take Sonoma County, Calif., the maximum new FHA loan limit in January will be reduced to $520,950 from $662,500. Homebuyers who once could buy with less capital will now have to invest more cash into the deal or buy less house. If you’re looking to buy a house but haven’t yet, here’s what to expect in 2014.

1. Your Mortgage Limits Will Be Reduced: Most counties will see the maximum loan limits decrease, on average, by $67,250 beginning January 2014.

2. You’ll See Jumbo Mortgages Again: A jumbo mortgage loan typically has tighter qualifying restrictions in terms of credit history and debt ratio requirements than its FHA loan counterpart. For example, a buyer with tarnished credit can use an FHA loan to purchase a home three years out of the short sale or foreclosure or two years after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. But with many jumbos, the standard seven years will apply in most cases. One exception to this is if you have 30 percent down, a lender will consider granting a jumbo loan to a borrower two years after they’ve had a short sale.

3. You’ll Need to Get Your Credit Score in Order: You’ll need at least a 700 credit score to play ball. The best terms will go to those with 740 scores or better. (Before you even start shopping for a home, it’s important to know what shape your credit is in. There are many ways to check your credit scores, including Credit.com’s Credit Report Card, which is a free tool that shows you your credit scores and an overview of your credit report so you know which aspects of your credit you need to work on to get a higher score.)

4. You Might Need a 20 Percent Down Payment: No longer will homebuyers on the higher-end market be able to purchase a home with less than 20 percent down if the loan is not conforming high balance or FHA. In other words, 20 percent down is going to be the new normal in most markets for majority buyers. Many investors simply do not allow for mortgage insurance on large scale loan sizes.

5. You’ll Need More Gift Money: Brought on by the FHA’s transition out of the mortgage market, and the need for more money down, buyers may have to turn to gift money as a source for the down payment needed to buy the home. But if you do, be ready to have these monies documented and sourced from all the parties.

6. You’ll Need Reserves: Lenders look at reserves as a cushion to make future mortgage payments. While the FHA does not have a reserve requirement, jumbo loans typically do. You’ll need six months of mortgage payments in the bank post-closing escrow.

7. You Might Have to Buy Less House: This could end up being the unfortunate fact for many buyers in the market who have substantial income but not enough down payment and/or cash to seal the deal. They may have to scale back the purchase price and loan in order to meet the maximum loan limit criteria in your area.

Keep in mind, the FHA would not reduce the loan limits if there was not financial justification to do so. Home prices have risen in 2013, and future home prices show promise for strong improvement, which can be directly attributed to an improving economy — as the unemployment rate drops and new job creation increases. In essence, people buy homes when they’re feeling confident about their employment and they have the income necessary and the confidence to do so. While these changes will inevitably affect a percentage of the homebuyers in the market, this is a sign of an overall improving economy which points to good news for home equity and subsequent home sales.

Click here fore more information: http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2013/12/19/new-fha-loan-limits-effects/

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 23, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week- December 23, 2013According to December’s NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, home builder confidence rose by four points to a reading of 58; this surpassed the consensus of 56 and November’s reading of 56.

November Housing Starts were released Wednesday and also exceeded expectations and the prior month’s reading. 1.09 million housing starts were reported for November against expectations of 963,000 and October’s reading of 889,000 housing starts.

Building permits issued in November came in at 1.01 million and fell short of October’s reading of 1.04 million permits issued. November’s reading exceeded expectations of 990,000 permits issued.

The week’s big news emerged after the conclusion of the Federal Reserve’s FOMC meeting. The committee announced that it would begin tapering the Fed’s $85 billion purchases of securities. The taper was modest; the Fed will reduce its rate of purchases to $75 billion monthly, with a split of $40 billion in Treasury securities and $35 billion in mortgage-backed securities.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke gave his final press conference as Fed chair. He noted that the FOMC was confident that the economy would continue to improve at a moderate rate and that the Fed would continue monitoring economic and financial developments to guide future adjustments in its monthly purchase of securities.

Mortgage rates were expected to rise after news of the Fed’s tapering of its quantitative easing program, as the program was intended to hold down long-term interest rates and mortgage rates.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey confirmed expectations of higher mortgage rates. Average mortgage rates ticked upward by five basis points to 4.47 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by eight basis points to 3.51 percent.

Discount points for a 30-year mortgage were unchanged at 0.70 percent for a 30-year mortgage and dropped from 0.70 to 0.60 percent for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose from 2.94 percent last to 2.96 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.

Weekly Jobless Claims came in at 379,000 and were higher than projections of 338,000 and the prior reading of 369,000 new jobless claims. Although the reading was the highest since March, analysts attributed the higher reading to changes in work schedules during the holidays.

Sales of existing homes slipped to their lowest levels in close to a year. The NAR reported that existing home sales fell from 5.12 million in October to 4.90 million in November.

Projections were set at 5.00 million sales for November, but a shortage of available homes and rising mortgage rates were seen as reasons for fewer sales. The approaching holiday season and cold weather typically contribute to a lull in home sales during the winter months.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news is light due to the Christmas holiday, but Monday’s releases include consumer spending, personal spending and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index.

New Home Sales for November will be released Tuesday. The week’s scheduled news will conclude with Weekly Jobless Reports on Thursday, as no further economic news is scheduled for Friday.

FHA Lowering Loan Limits for 2014

Effective for case numbers ordered on or after January 1, 2014

Last week the Federal Housing Administration announced new, lower single-family loan limits for 650 counties across the country, including all of the counties in the Chicago area.

Effective January 1st, the maximum loan size for a single family home will drop to $365,700 from the current $410,000 amount.

The prior high loan amount was put into place in 2008 to help the housing market after the economic collapse.  This was supposed to be a temporary 1 year move but was extended by Congress several times.

Now that the housing market appears to be recovering the FHA is working to improve it’s balance sheet.

New FHA Loan Limits:

FHA_Loan_Limit

Click on the following link for a complete list of FHA loan limits: FHA Loan Limits

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 16, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - December 16 2013Mortgage Debt Rises For First Time Since Recession

Last week was relatively quiet concerning scheduled housing-related news, but the Federal Reserve’s financial accounts report, released on Monday, indicated that mortgage debt in the U.S. had increased for the first time since the first quarter (Q1) of 2008.

Mortgage debt increased by a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $87.4 billion, or 0.90 percent. Mortgage debt remains approximately 12.00 percent below pre-recession levels.

Increasing debt is not often considered good news, but in the case of mortgage debt in today’s economy, it suggests economic recovery in the form of higher home prices and fewer foreclosures.

Another instance of counter-intuitive economic results was released Tuesday. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report for October.

JOLTS indicated that 2.39 million workers quit their jobs in October. This was the highest number of jobs quit since 2008. While this may appear counter-productive to a growing economy, it indicates that workers are leaving their jobs for better positions.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Federal Budget Deficit Shrinks

On Wednesday the U.S. Treasury announced that November’s federal budget deficit had shrunk to -$135 billion from November 2012′s deficit reading of -$172 billion. This represents a year-over-year deficit decrease of 21 percent.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS) report provided good news as average mortgage rates fell last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.46 percent to 4.42 percent. Discount points rose from the previous week’s reading of 0.50 percent to 0.70 percent.

15-year fixed rate mortgage rates fell from 3.47 percent to an average reading of 3.43 percent, with discount points rising from the prior week’s reading of 0.40 percent to 0.70 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped from 2.99 percent to 2.94 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.

Lower mortgage rates are good news for home buyers facing higher home prices.

Weekly jobless claims rose last week. The previous week’s reading of 300,000 new jobless claims was short-lived as the reading for new jobless claims rose to 368,000 last week and surpassed a consensus of 335,000 new jobless claims.

Financial analysts cautioned that employment data can be volatile during the holidays, and noted that the four-week average of new unemployment claims rose by 6000 to 328,750.

Whats Coming Up

There are several significant releases set for housing-related news. The NAHB housing market index, Housing Starts, and Building permits indicate how current builder confidence and new construction may impact the supply of available homes.

On Wednesday, the FOMC will issue its usual statement at the conclusion of its two-day meeting. Some analysts expect an announcement concerning the Fed’s quantitative easing policy; Outgoing Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is set to give a press conference after the FOMC statement.

In addition to the weekly jobless claims report and Freddie Mac’s PMMS, Reports on Existing Home Sales and Leading Economic Indicators will also be released.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 9, 2013

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – December 9, 2013Last week brought several indicators of a strengthening economy. New home sales, private and federal employment and mortgage rates rose.

The Department of Commerce released construction spending numbers for October with mixed results. Although public projects fueled an 0.80 percent increase in month-to-month construction spending, residential construction fell by 0.60 percent.

Analysts had expected an increase of 0.50 percent and also noted that the negative effect of the government shutdown was a “blip.” October’s reading for construction spending was the highest since 2004.

CoreLogic released data that home prices rose by 0.20 percent, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 12.50 percent for home prices. Pending home sales were suggested that November sales are expected to hold steady as compared to October, and projected year-over-year sales for November at 12.20 percent.

Slower growth in home prices was attributed to higher mortgage rates and a fear of a housing bubble in the West, where demand for homes far exceeds the number of available homes.

Not wanting to buy at the top of the current housing market, some potential buyers may be waiting for the talk of another housing bubble to subside before buying. Robert Shiller, co-author of the Case-Shiller Housing Market Index, noted that home buyers may not be “psychologically ready” for another housing bubble.

New home sales for October were higher than expectations of 419,000 homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. October’s reading of 444,000 new home sales was 21.60 percent higher than September’s reading of 354,000 new homes sold. The national median home price fell by 4.50 percent to $245,800 in October; this was the lowest month-to-month reading since November 2012.

The number of available homes fell to a 4.90 month supply in October. This may cause buyers to put their home searches on hold as they wait out the winter months and hope for supplies of available homes to increase.

U.S. Employment Improving, Mortgage Rates Rise

ADP a private-sector provider of payroll services reported 215,000 new jobs added in November as compared to October’s reading of 184,000 jobs added. Weekly jobless claims supported the ADP reading as new jobless claims fell to 298,000 against expectations of 325,000 new claims and a prior reading of 321,000 new claims.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics brought more good news with its Non-Farm Payrolls report and Unemployment Rate for November. Non-Farm payrolls added 203,000 jobs in November against expectations of 180,000 jobs added and October’s reading of 200,000 jobs added.

The National Unemployment rate dipped to 7.00 percent in November against expectations of a 7.20 percent reading and October’s reading of 7.30 percent. The Federal Reserve has set a benchmark unemployment rate of 6.50 percent as an indicator of economic recovery.

Last week’s strong economic news boosted mortgage rates; Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by 17 basis points to 4.46 percent with discount points lower at 0.50 percent.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also gained 17 basis points at 3.47 percent with discount points at 0.40 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by 5 basis points to 2.99 percent with discount points at 0.4 percent.

What’s Coming Up

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Retail Sales, Weekly Jobless Claims and Freddie Mac’s report of average mortgage rates.