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Rocky Top Lending


  • Conventional Fixed-Rate Mortgages
    The traditional fixed rate mortgage is the most common type of loan program, where monthly principal and interest payments never change during the life of the loan. Fixed rate mortgages are available in terms ranging from 10 to 30 years and in most cases can be paid off at any time without penalty. This type of mortgage is structured, or "amortized" so that it will be completely paid off by the end of the loan term. Even though you have a fixed rate mortgage, your monthly payment may vary if you have an "impound account". In addition to the monthly "principal + interest" and any mortgage insurance premium (amount charged to homebuyers who put less than 20% cash down when purchasing their home), some lenders collect additional money each month for the prorated monthly cost of property taxes and homeowners insurance. The extra money is put in an impound account by the lender who uses it to pay the borrowers' property taxes and homeowners insurance premium when they are due. If either the property tax or the insurance happens to change, the borrower's monthly payment will be adjusted accordingly. However, the overall payments in a fixed rate mortgage are very stable and predictable.
  • Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM)
    Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM)s are loans whose interest rate can vary during the loan's term. These loans usually have a fixed interest rate for an initial period of time and then can adjust based on current market conditions. The initial rate on an ARM is lower than on a fixed rate mortgage which allows you to afford and hence purchase a more expensive home. Adjustable rate mortgages are usually amortized over a period of 30 years with the initial rate being fixed for anywhere from 1 month to 10 years. All ARM loans have a "margin" plus an "index." Margins on loans typically range from 1.75% to 3.5% depending on the index and the amount financed in relation to the property value. The index is the financial instrument that the ARM loan is tied to such as: 1-Year Treasury Security, LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate), Prime, 6-Month Certificate of Deposit (CD) and the 11th District Cost of Funds (COFI). When the time comes for the ARM to adjust, the margin will be added to the index and typically rounded to the nearest 1/8 of one percent to arrive at the new interest rate. That rate will then be fixed for the next adjustment period. This adjustment can occur every year, but there are factors limiting how much the rates can adjust. These factors are called "caps". Suppose you had a "3/1 ARM" with an initial cap of 2%, a lifetime cap of 6%, and initial interest rate of 6.25%. The highest rate you could have in the fourth year would be 8.25%, and the highest rate you could have during the life of the loan would be 12.25%.
  • FHA Home Loans
    FHA home loans are mortgage loans that are insured against default by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). FHA loans are available for single family and multifamily homes. These home loans allow banks to continuously issue loans without much risk or capital requirements. The FHA doesn't issue loans or set interest rates, it just guarantees against default. FHA loans allow individuals who may not qualify for a conventional mortgage obtain a loan, especially first time home buyers. These loans offer low minimum down payments, reasonable credit expectations, and flexible income requirements. What is an FHA Home Loan? In 1934, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was established to improve housing standards and to provide an adequate home financing system with mortgage insurance. Now families that may have otherwise been excluded from the housing market could finally buy their dream home. FHA does not make home loans, it insures a loan; should a homebuyer default, the lender is paid from the insurance fund. Buy a house with as little as 3.5% down. Ideal for the first-time homebuyers unable to make larger down payments. The right mortgage solution for those who may not qualify for a conventional loan. Down payment assistance programs can be added to a FHA Loan for additional down payment and/or closing cost savings. Documents Needed for FHA Loans: Your loan approval depends 100% on the documentation that you provide at the time of application. You will need to give accurate information on: Employment Complete Income Tax Returns for past 2-years W-2 & 1099 Statements for past 2-years Pay-Check Stubs for past 2-months Self-Employed Income Tax Returns and YTD Profit & Loss Statements for past 3-years for self-employed borrowers Savings Complete bank statements for all accounts for past 3-months Recent account statements for retirement, 401k, Mutual Funds, Money Market, Stocks, etc. Credit Recent bills & statements indicating account numbers and minimum payments Landlord's name, address, telephone number, or 12- months cancelled rent checks Recent utility bills to supplement thin credit Bankruptcy & Discharge Papers if applicable 12-months cancelled checks written by someone you co-signed for to get a mortgage, car, or credit card, this indicates that you are not the one making the payments. Personal Drivers License Social Security Card Any Divorce, Palimony or Alimony or Child Support papers Green Card or Work Permit if applicable Any homeownership papers Refinancing or Own Rental Property Note & Deed from any Current Loan Property Tax Bill Hazard Homeowners Insurance Policy A Payment Coupon for Current Mortgage Rental Agreements for a Multi-Unit Property FHA vs. Conventional Loans The main difference between a FHA Loan and a Conventional Home Loan is that a FHA loan requires a lower down payment, and the credit qualifying criteria for a borrower is not as strict. This allows those without a credit history, or with minor credit problems to buy a home. FHA requires a reasonable explanation of any derogatory items, but will use common sense credit underwriting. Some borrowers, with extenuating circumstances surrounding bankruptcy discharged 3-years ago, can work around past credit problems. However, conventional financing relies heavily upon credit scoring, a rating given by a credit bureau such as Experian, Trans-Union or Equifax. If your score is below the minimum standard, you may not qualify. What can i afford? Your monthly costs should not exceed 29% of your gross monthly income for a FHA Loan. Total housing costs often lumped together are referred to as PITI. P = Principal I = Interest T = Taxes I = Insurance Examples: Monthly Income x .29 = Maximum PITI $3,000 x .29 = $870 Maximum PITI Your total monthly costs, or debt to income (DTI) adding PITI and long-term debt like car loans or credit cards, should not exceed 41% of your gross monthly income. Monthly Income x .41 = Maximum Total Monthly Costs $3,000 x .41 = $1230 $1,230 total - $870 PITI = $360 Allowed for Monthly Long Term Debt FHA Loan ratios are more lenient than a typical conventional loan. Bankruptcy and FHA Loans Yes, generally a bankruptcy won’t preclude a borrower from obtaining a FHA Loan. Ideally, a borrower should have re-established their credit with a minimum of two credit accounts such as a car loan, or credit card. Then wait two years since the discharge of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or have a minimum of one year of repayment for a Chapter 13 (the borrower must seek the permission of the courts). Also, the borrower should not have any credit issues like late payments, collections, or credit charge-offs since the bankruptcy. Special exceptions can be made if a borrower has suffered through extenuating circumstances like surviving a serious medical condition, and had to declare bankruptcy because the high medical bills couldn't be paid.
  • VA Home Loans
    The VA Loan provides veterans with a federally guaranteed home loan which requires no down payment. This program was designed to provide housing and assistance for veterans and their families. The Veterans Administration provides insurance to lenders in the case that you default on a loan. Because the mortgage is guaranteed, lenders will offer a lower interest rate and terms than a conventional home loan. VA home loans are available in all 50 states. A VA loan may also have reduced closing costs and no prepayment penalties. Additionally there are services that may be offered to veterans in danger of defaulting on their loans. VA home loans are available to military personal that have either served 181 days during peacetime, 90 days during war, or a spouse of serviceman either killed or missing in action. What is a VA Loan? The Veteran Administration's Loan originated in 1944 through the Servicemen's Readjustment Act; also know as the GI Bill. It was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was designed to provide Veterans with a federally-guaranteed home loan with no down payment. VA loans are made by private lenders like banks, savings & loans, and mortgage companies to eligible Veterans for homes to live in. The lender is protected against loss if the loan defaults. Depending on the program option, the loan may or may not default. Who is eligible for a VA Loan? Wartime/Conflict Veterans Veterans who were NOT Dishonorably Discharged, and served at least 90 days World War II – September 16, 1940 to July 25, 1947 Korean Conflict – June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955 Vietnam Era – August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 Persian Gulf War - Check with the Veterans Administration Office Afghanistan & Iraq – Check with the Veterans Administration Office Veterans Administration website Peacetime Service At least 181 days of continuous active duty with no dishonorable discharge. If you were discharged earlier due to a service-related disability you should contact your Regional VA Office for eligibility verification. July 26, 1947 to June 26, 1950 February 1, 1955 to August 4, 1964, or May 8, 1975 to September 7, 1980 (Enlisted), or to October 16, 1981 (Officer) Enlisted Veterans whose service began after September 7, 1980, or officers who service began after October 16, 1981, must have completed 24-months of continuous active duty and been honorably discharged Reserves and National Guard Certain U.S. Citizens who served in the Armed Forces of a government allied with the United States during World War II. Surviving spouse of an eligible Veteran who died resulting from service, and has not remarried. The spouse of an Armed Forces member who served Active Duty, and was listed as a POW or MIA for more than 90-days. What type of home can I buy with a VA Loan? A VA home loan must be used to finance your personal residence within the United States and its territories. You have choices for the type of home you purchase: Existing Single-Family Home Townhouse or Condominium in a VA-Approved Project New Construction Residence Manufactured Home or Lot Home Refinances and Certain Types of Home Improvements What are the benefits of a VA Loan? 100% Financing & No Down Payment Loans No Private Mortgage (PMI) No Penalties for Prepaying the Loan Competitive Interest Rates Qualification is Easier than a Conventional Loan Sellers Pay Some of the Closing Costs Can be combined with additional down payment assistance to reduce closing costs How can I apply for a VA Guaranteed Loan? You can apply for a VA Loan with any mortgage lender that participates in the program. In addition to the application requirements from your lender, you will need the following at application time: Certificate of Eligibility from the Veterans Administration by submitting a completed VA Form 26-1880. Proof of Military Service from a VA Eligibility Center If I have already applied for one VA Loan, can I get another one? Yes, your eligibility is reusable depending on the circumstance. If you have paid-off your prior VA Loan, and disposed the property, you can have your eligibility restored again. Also, on a 1-time basis, you may have your eligibility restored if your prior VA Loan has been paid-off, but you still own the property. Either way, the Veteran must send the Veterans Administration a completed VA Form 16-1880 to the VA Eligibility Center. To prevent delays in processing, it's advisable to include evidence that the prior loan has been fully paid, and if applicable, the property was disposed. A paid-in-full statement from the former lender or a copy of the HUD-1 settlement statement must be submitted. What are the disadvantages of a VA Loan? VA Loans made prior to March 1, 1988 can be assumed with no qualifying of the new buyer. If the buyer defaults the property the Veteran homeowner may be liable for the funds. Some sellers are hesitant to work with someone obtaining a VA Loan because it takes longer than a conventional loan to process. Sellers are often asked to pay a portion of closing costs and therefore less likely to negotiate the sales price of the home.
  • Jumbo Loans
    A jumbo loan is a mortgage used to finance properties that are too expensive for a conventional conforming loan. The maximum amount for a conforming loan is $724,200 in most counties, as determined by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Homes that exceed the local conforming loan limit require a jumbo loan. Also called non-conforming conventional mortgages, jumbo loans are considered riskier for lenders because these loans can’t be guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie, meaning the lender is not protected from losses if a borrower defaults. Jumbo loans are typically available with either a fixed interest rate or an adjustable rate, and they come with a variety of terms.
  • Investment Purchases
    An investment property is real estate you buy to make income. The term “investment property” can apply to everything from a one-unit condominium to a high-rise commercial building in a city. However, for the purposes of this article, we’re focused on residential real estate loans, which only allow financing on properties between one and four units. Residential investment home types include: Condominiums Manufactured homes Multi-family homes Coopertives A true investment property loan assumes you won’t be living in the property you purchase and will rent it out to tenants to earn rental income. You may also use some standard loan programs to purchase multifamily investment homes, as long as you plan to live in one of the units.
  • Down Payment Assistance
    What is Down Payment Assistance? Down payment assistance (DPA) programs are locally-supported initiatives that give away cash grants, cheap loans, and tax breaks to buyers of U.S. homes. The programs are funded and administered by government agencies, private foundations, and local charities; and, offer up to 100% financing on homes. Many DPA programs behave like zero-interest-rate cash advances to be repaid when the home is refinanced or sold. Others grant money for specific purposes such as renovations to make homes more habitable, which raises local property values and property tax bases. The amount of money you can receive from down payment assistance varies based on where you live, what you earn, and how early you apply for assistance. How does Down Payment Assistance work? Down payment assistance programs work by helping first-time home buyers purchase homes with little or none of their own money or down payment. Down payment assistance programs are administered on the federal, state, and local levels. Federal DPA programs include first-time home buyer tax credits, cash grants to buy homes, and interest rate subsidies for higher home affordability. Most DPA programs, though, are administered by state and local governments, and by private entities and charitable organizations. Non-federal programs may require buyers to use specific mortgage loan types such as FHA loans; and, may require additional paperwork not associated with the mortgage application. Down payment assistance is sometimes paid as cash at closing or before. Other times, they’re awarded as forgivable loans and paid at the time of closing. Some DPA programs target professionals, such as teachers, nurses, and EMTs. Others are available to any person buying in a certain neighborhood or street. Who qualifies for Down Payment Assistance? There are more than 3,000 down payment assistance programs available nationwide and the majority of DPA programs target first-time home buyers. Federal DPA programs such as The $25,000 Downpayment Toward Equity Act target low- and middle-income first-time buyers and often add one or two additional eligibility criteria. For example, some programs are limited to teachers and nurses and EMTs. Other programs are for first-generation buyers only. On the state and local levels, down payment assistance programs tend to be geography-based and available to home buyers only in specific cities, communities, or neighborhoods. Down payment assistance programs don’t replace primary mortgages – they enhance them to make homeownership more affordable. Therefore, to qualify for down payment assistance, home buyers must also qualify for their mortgage. Find out if you’re eligible by talking to your mortgage lender.
  • 3-2-1 & 2-1 Buydowns
    What is a Buydown Mortgage? A buydown is a mortgage-financing technique that allows a homebuyer to obtain a lower interest rate for at least the first few years of the loan, or possibly its entire life, in return for an extra up-front payment. It is similar to the practice of buying discount points on a mortgage in return for a lower interest rate. Either the homebuyer/borrower or the home seller may cover the costs of the buydown. In general, 3-2-1 buydown loans are available only for primary and secondary homes, not for investment properties. The 3-2-1 buydown is also not available as part of an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) with an initial period of fewer than five years. In a 3-2-1 buydown mortgage, the loan’s interest rate is lowered by 3% in the first year, 2% in the second year, and 1% in the third year. The permanent interest rate then kicks in for the remaining term of the loan.1 In a 2-1 buydown, by contrast, the rate is lowered by 2% during the first year, 1% in the second year, and then goes to the permanent rate after the buydown period ends. Pros and Cons of a Buydown Mortgage A 3-2-1 buydown mortgage can be an attractive option for homebuyers who have some extra cash available at the outset of the loan, as well as for home sellers who need to offer an incentive to facilitate the sale of their homes. It also can be advantageous for borrowers who expect to have a higher income in future years. Over the first three years of lower monthly payments, the borrower can also set aside cash for other expenses, such as home repairs or remodeling. When the loan finally resets to its permanent interest rate, borrowers have the certainty of knowing what their payments will be for years to come, which can be useful for budgeting. A fixed-rate 3-2-1 buydown mortgage is less risky than the above-mentioned ARM or a variable-rate mortgage, where rising interest rates could mean higher monthly payments in the future. A potential downside of a 3-2-1 buydown mortgage is that it may lull the borrower into buying a more expensive home than they will be able to afford once their loan reaches its full interest rate. Borrowers who assume that their income will rise in line with future payments could find themselves in too deep if their income fails to keep pace.
  • Credit Repair
    How is my credit judged by lenders? Credit scoring is a system creditors use to help determine whether to give you credit. Information about you and your credit experiences, such as your bill-paying history, the number and type of accounts you have, late payments, collection actions, outstanding debt, and the age of your accounts, is collected from your credit application and your credit report. Using a statistical program, creditors compare this information to the credit performance of consumers with similar profiles. A credit scoring system awards points for each factor that helps predict who is most likely to repay a debt. A total number of points -- a credit score -- helps predict how creditworthy you are, that is, how likely it is that you will repay a loan and make the payments when due. The most widely use credit scores are FICO scores, which were developed by Fair Isaac Company, Inc. Your score will fall between 350 (high risk) and 850 (low risk). Because your credit report is an important part of many credit scoring systems, it is very important to make sure it's accurate before you submit a credit application. To get copies of your report, contact the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax: (800) 685-1111 Experian (formerly TRW): (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742) Trans Union: (800) 916-8800 These agencies may charge you up to $9.00 for your credit report. You are entitled to receive one free credit report every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This free credit report may not contain your credit score and can be requested through the following website: What can I do to improve my credit score? Credit scoring models are complex and often vary among creditors and for different types of credit. If one factor changes, your score may change -- but improvement generally depends on how that factor relates to other factors considered by the model. Only the creditor can explain what might improve your score under the particular model used to evaluate your credit application. Nevertheless, scoring models generally evaluate the following types of information in your credit report: Have you paid your bills on time? Payment history typically is a significant factor. It is likely that your score will be affected negatively if you have paid bills late, had an account referred to collections, or declared bankruptcy, if that history is reflected on your credit report. What is your outstanding debt? Many scoring models evaluate the amount of debt you have compared to your credit limits. If the amount you owe is close to your credit limit, that is likely to have a negative effect on your score. How long is your credit history? Generally, models consider the length of your credit track record. An insufficient credit history may have an effect on your score, but that can be offset by other factors, such as timely payments and low balances. Have you applied for new credit recently? Many scoring models consider whether you have applied for credit recently by looking at "inquiries" on your credit report when you apply for credit. If you have applied for too many new accounts recently, that may negatively affect your score. However, not all inquiries are counted. Inquiries by creditors who are monitoring your account or looking at credit reports to make "prescreened" credit offers are not counted. How many and what types of credit accounts do you have? Although it is generally good to have established credit accounts, too many credit card accounts may have a negative effect on your score. In addition, many models consider the type of credit accounts you have. For example, under some scoring models, loans from finance companies may negatively affect your credit score. Scoring models may be based on more than just information in your credit report. For example, the model may consider information from your credit application as well: your job or occupation, length of employment, or whether you own a home. To improve your credit score under most models, concentrate on paying your bills on time, paying down outstanding balances, and not taking on new debt. It's likely to take some time to improve your score significantly.



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