When it comes to mortgages there is a lot to know and a lot of choices. One loan that was popular before the housing crisis was the interest-only loan. An interest-only loan is an adjustable-rate loan with an initial fixed period when only interest is due. They are typically available in 5-, 7- or 10-year terms. Economists blame interest-only loans for the foreclosure crisis citing they were issued too freely. Today, interest-only loans are more difficult to obtain. Borrowers were using interest-only loans to qualify for a more expensive home and when the interest-only term ended the payment went up leaving many homeowners unable to afford the mortgage payment. Interest-only loans are now being used by wealthy borrowers as a financial tool to help them manage irregular cash flow, reap a tax benefit, or free up cash for investment elsewhere. Lenders that offer interest-only loans have strict qualifying standards. They generally require 30 percent equity in a property, and a minimum FICO score of 720. Lenders also look at the ability to pay back the loan is based on the fully amortized payment, not the interest-only payment.
With mortgage rates at all time lows, you might be wondering if you should be considering refinancing your home. While it may seem like a great thing to do, there are a few things to consider before you decide. An obvious reason for refinancing to a lower interest rate is the monthly, and even more importantly the long term, savings you will get. Depending on the decrease in interest rate and the amount of the loan, you could see a savings of at least $50/month or $600/year or $6000/10 years. Refinancing to a shorter term loan can also help save on the interest you pay over the life of the loan so if you can afford a 15 year mortgage the benefits outweigh that of a 30 year. Some things to consider - If you have owned your home for a long time, your monthly payments are going more towards the principal of the loan, not the interest. Refinancing would cause you revert back to monthly payments of more interest than principal, losing the equity that you have built in your home. You may be charged for an appraisal on your home which can be around $500. The bank will want to make sure that you are refinancing for an amount your home is worth so some out of pocket expense is required. If you plan on moving in the next few years, refinancing may not be worth the amount you will pay in closing costs. There are several refinancing calculators available on the web including at http://www.zillow.com/mortgage-calculator/refinance-calculator/ and http://www.smartmoney.com/calculator/real-estate/should-i-refinance-my-mortgage-1302835660427/. No matter what you choose, being fully informed of all the options, costs and advantages/disadvantages is key to a successful refinance. Make sure you talk with you current lender, as well as other lenders to get the best refinance possible.
Are you looking to buy a bigger home? If you are looking to make the move a jumbo mortgage might be right for you. A jumbo mortgage is a home loan with an amount that exceeds conforming loan limits set by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) or better known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Currently, the loan limit is $417,000 in most parts of the United States, but can increase to $625,500 in the higher cost areas. OFHEO sets the conforming loan limit size on an annual basis. Jumbo loans have slightly higher interest rates because they carry more credit risk.