FHA Helps Potential Homeowners Carrying Student Loan Debt

If you’re like the many post-university students in America, then you understand the burden that comes with holding and carrying your student debt.

For wanna-be-homeowners with student debt, the situation can come even harder. Many loans are weary of your debt-to-income ratio, thus, making it harder for you to obtain the financial assistance you need to purchase a home and become a homeowner.

Luckily, it looks like eases of requirements are changing.

Last summer, the National Association of Realtors® joined a team of roughly 20 housing groups in calling on leadership at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the FHA to help change underwriting policies that calculate a borrower’s student loan debt.

Specifically – the aim was to close the gap between White and Black Americans when obtaining a mortgage loan. According to NAR, the gap between the two is larger today than it was in 1960, and Black homebuyers are more than twice as likely than Whites to have student loan debt and be rejected for mortgage loans.

The meeting ended up launching the Black Homeownership Collaborative. This group will continue to push for policy reforms and work with the FHA’s student loan change. These updates in policy will remove “unnecessary constraints for otherwise creditworthy borrowers” in helping to aid first-time homebuyers and underserved communities.

Student loans – and your race – shouldn’t prevent you from becoming a homeowner and fulfilling your real estate dreams.

For more updates on the policy change, check out the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s site here.

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Real Estate Tip of the Week: When to Follow-Up

The dreaded call-back. The terrifying email pursue.

What all agents know and fear: the follow-up.

Now, maybe not all agents fear the follow-up – but there is always a certain pause as to when an agent should follow-up with a potential lead.

So, how do you know?

Rely on Previous Conversation

Each client will be different in terms of when to follow-up. Think back on your conversation with them: what was their urgency, what was their main topic (finances, finding a lender, finding an agent, finding the right neighborhood, etc.).

Gather exactly what it is they were needing and pursuing, and obviously, how quickly they needed results. Follow your gut with your past conversation with them, and base that off when to reach out to them. Be sure that when you reach out to them, you include information that touches on what they were looking for previously and how you can help.

Try and Schedule a Meeting

One major piece of advice is to not try and win a lead over phone call, text, or email. You should always push to meet in person (or Zoom, etc.) when selling exactly who you are, your commission prices, etc.

After you’ve reminded them of who you are, and mentioning that you remember they were trying to find a home in “X” neighborhood, ask if they’d like to schedule a time to chat in person or through a web-video platform to learn more about the ways you can help.

Looking for more real estate tips and tricks? Stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

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What’s A Closing? – A Homebuyer Guide

You searched for months on Zillow, you hired a real estate agent to guide you through the homebuying process, and now – closing time.

Except….what is a closing, anyway?

We get lots of questions like this all the time. But essentially – the closing (or the settlement, as it can be called in some states) is the important part of the purchasing process. This is the stage you legally commit to your mortgage loan.

Title insurance – an Owner’s Policy – protects your property rights. This one-time fee protects your important property rights for as long as you or your heirs own the property. Without title insurance, real-life title problems could affect your property rights.

Owner’s Policy protects you from:

  • Unpaid mortgages
  • Unpaid property taxes
  • Child support liens
  • Missing heirs who could claim the property belongs to him or her
  • Missed easements or rights of way that could limit your use of the property

Here’s what you can expect when you go to your title & escrow office for your closing:

  • Talk with your real estate agent on where to “shop” for the closing agent who will gather all your legal documents, close the loan, and handle the money involved in your purchase (ahem, us!)
  • During the closing, you’ll sign many documents. Some of the documents you’ll sign include:
    • Closing Disclosure: This contains the terms and cost of your transaction. Your lender, by law, must provide the Closing Disclosure to you three days before your closing appointment.
    • Promissory Note: This is your promise to repay the mortgage to your lender. It details the amount you owe, the interest rate, the dates when payments are to be made, the length of time for repayment, and where the payments will be sent. It also details consequences if you fail to make payments.
    • Deed of trust: Also called a Security Instrument or Mortgage, this document transfers legal ownership of the property with the condition that the lender may foreclose on your home if you fail to repay your mortgage.

Don’t be scared of your closing and your title insurance. It’s put in place to protect YOU, the buyer, from any real-life title problems that may occur on your property. And you don’t want that.

Enjoy your home, and congratulations on your closing!

For more real estate guides, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

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Community Spotlight – Soda Springs, Idaho

What Idaho town has the world’s only captive geyser, 14 historical sites along the Oregon Trail, and famous hot springs? – Soda Springs, Idaho!

The only captive geyser, The Soda Springs Geyser, blows 70 feet into the air every hour on the hour. The Geyser is open to the public year round with no fees.

Only a four-minute walk from Geyser Park, you’ll find our Alliance Title Soda Springs office! With 20 years of title and escrow experience combined, The Soda Springs branch is thrilled and ready to help you close!

Vice President and General Manager, Kat Nielsen, explains why the Soda Springs office stands out from the local competition: “The Soda Springs team is friendly and enjoys meeting new people – especially in a one-on-one basis. We strive to make our customers feel welcome, and we strive to provide them a knowledgeable, professional service throughout their transaction.”

The Soda Springs branch spends their time wisely when they’re not in the office! Kim Black loves the outdoors – whether it’s walking, riding a bike, riding a horse, fishing, kayaking, or four-wheeling. She also has years of experience in horticulture! Escrow Officer, Kim Lindstrom, loves the outdoors as well; camping and four-wheeling are her favorites! She also enjoys needlework, and playing both the organ and the piano.

Alliance Title Soda Springs’ Kim Lindstrom & Kim Lindstrom

Alliance’s Soda Springs office cares about making personal connections and closing successful and smooth transactions. Kat continues, “Every transaction brings an opportunity to meet new people. Some have become dear friends and repeat customers. We have return customers who have periodically stopped by our office to meet and greet, and past and current employees with whom they have learned to care about and respect. We hope to continue this tradition as we grow and work together as a team.”

Whether you’re buying or selling commercial or residential property in Caribou County, the professionals at Alliance Title’s Soda Springs location would be delighted to help make your next transaction a success! Give Soda Springs a shout out on their Alliance Soda Springs Facebook page!

Alliance Title Soda Springs Branch
71 E 1st St S, Soda Springs, ID 83276

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Up, Up, and Away: Mortgage Applications Rise

Mortgage applications are seeing better days; after three straight weeks of declines, mortgage applications have increased 4.2% since June 11th. Purchase and refinance also increased, with refinances up 5.5%.

Why the sudden rise of applications?

The 30-year fixed rate fell to 3.11%, which is the lowest rate it’s been since May. And, although applications are starting to tick back up again, it is still 22% lower than the same week one year ago. Think peak quarantine – plenty of potential homebuyers were trying to find more and better space.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) share of total mortgage applications increased to 9.6% from 9.5% the week prior.

For a full breakdown of mortgage news statistics, check out Mortgage News Daily’s article.

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Real Estate Tip of the Week: What’s a Reverse Mortgage?

You might have heard about reverse mortgages – but what are they, exactly?

These are a type of loan that allows homeowners – aged 62 and older – to borrow some of their home’s equity as tax-free income. Most of these homeowners have already paid off their mortgage.

“Regular” mortgages consist of the homeowner paying the lender, but in a reverse, the lender pays the homeowner.

How the heck does that work, you may ask?

First, it comes down to how much the homeowner can actually borrow. This is known as the principal limit, and it varies based on the age of the youngest borrower or eligible non-borrowing spouse, current interest rates, the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) limit, and the home’s value.

So – why would homeowners think about applying for a reverse mortgage? How does this help them?

These mortgages can be used for supplementing retirement income, covering the cost of any needed home repairs, or paying for any sort of out-of-pocket expenses.

And just like “regular” mortgages, there are several types of reverse mortgages:

  • Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM): this is the most popular type and are federally insured. These usually have higher upfront costs, but the funds can be used for any purpose.
  • Proprietary Reverse Mortgage: This is a private loan, so it is not backed by the government.
  • Single-purpose Reverse Mortgage: These are usually offered by nonprofit organizations as well as state and local government agencies. This loan can only be used to cover one specific purpose.

Reverse mortgages offer older homeowners to supplement income in retirement, pay for renovations, or other expenses. Although this might seem like the perfect option for you, it’s always best to talk with your lender to discuss your finances and how things might look in the long run. You can also speak with a HUD-approved counselor before committing to a reverse mortgage by visiting HUD’s online locator, here.

For more tips and news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

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Employee Spotlight – Laurie Searle

Let’s give a round of applause for our newest Alliance Title Employee Spotlight, Laurie Searle!

Laurie is Alliance’s Escrow Officer for our Rexburg, Idaho branch. She works closely with clients, lenders, and realtors and puts together closing documents. Although only new to the team 10 months ago, Laurie has quickly become an all-star employee and part of the Rexburg team!

Laurie enjoys meeting clients and realtors and putting a name to a face! Laurie explains, “Being new to the community…it’s nice recognizing others and being able to have a connection with them.”

Of the Alliance Core Values, “Teamwork” is Laurie’s favorite. She continues, “I like working with realtors, clients, and fellow co-workers. I feel like working together and helping each other makes lighter work. Everyone in our office has welcomed me in and helped me get comfortable in my new setting.”

When asked whom she admires, Laurie thinks of her parents: “They have taught me a lot about working hard, being reliable and dependable, and doing your best work. By doing these things, it has helped me gain many friendships.”

When she’s not working hard in the office, you can find Laurie relaxing up in the mountains! She loves to go fishing, hiking, camping, and riding ATV’s with her family.

Laurie’s favorite quote, “Be kind and kindness will find you back,” is something she tries to live her life by. Laurie explains, “I like and appreciate when people treat me with respect and kindness. I try and exhibit those same qualities and treat others with the respect and kindness they deserve.”

Now that you’ve gotten to know Laurie a little more, give a shout out to Alliance Title’s Rexburg branch on Facebook and write them in on your next transaction! Laurie looks forward to helping make your home closing a simple and smooth experience.

Laurie Searle
Escrow Officer – Alliance Title Rexburg, Idaho

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Where are Buyers Moving?

Looks like cities are getting the boot – or at least, aren’t the place many homebuyers are looking to purchase.

According to a recent report from Knock, a real estate technology company, nearly 6 out of every 10 pandemic homebuyers opted for a new, often less populated city within the same state they currently live.

With COVID changing much of our world, more and more homeowners and buyers were able to start working remotely, which ended up changing how the real estate market worked as a whole.
Sean Black, Knock’s co-founder and CEO, explains, “Almost overnight, our homes took on a whole new meaning. In addition to where we live, they became where we go to work, go to school, workout, and everything in between. It prompted us to re-evaluate what we want and need our home to be.”

More space is the key – with our homes becoming more and more of the space where we’ve grown accustomed to doing most things, homeowners and buyers are looking for room to grow.

40% of survey responders insisted on moving for a larger home, 39% wanted to move to a quieter neighborhood, and 37% wanted more outdoor space.

We’ll see what 2021 and beyond brings to the real estate market in terms of what buyers and sellers want and need.

Stop by Alliance Title’s blog for more real estate news and guides.

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Homes Age Too: Homeowners Staying Longer

Homeowners haven’t been jumping to move – on average, homeowners have been living in their homes for about 10 years (which is double that between the years of 2000 and 2009).  There are plenty of reasons why homeowners might choose to keep put – what are yours?

According to the National Association of Home Builder’s analysis of census data, the median age of an owner-occupied home is 39 years old. This is up from a median age of 21 in 2005. More than half of these homes were built prior to 1980, and about 38% were built before 1970.

Housing professionals believe that this might mean that this aging housing stock shows a growing remodeling market. Older homes do need updates or repairs – which makes sense to plenty of homeowners. But it also might mean that homeowners are turning to remodels because of rising home prices.

Take a look at NAHB’s Median Age of Housing Stock by State infographic below:

NAHB’s Infographic

Stop by Alliance Title’s Blog for more real estate news.

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Hot Hot Hot: Tips to Buy a Home in a Seller’s Market

We all know it – the real estate market is totally in favor of seller’s right now. And it’s a crazy, busy time!

But if you’re a buyer, what are you supposed to do to stand out and close the deal on the home of your dreams?

Buying a home in a seller’s market might present its challenges, but it doesn’t mean buying a home that you love is impossible.

Check out our suggestions below:

Do Your Research

Gather the data and research you need to better understand what houses are currently available for sale through real estate listings. When you find homes you’re interested in, take a moment to drive out and visit the neighborhood to get a better idea on the home’s surroundings and if you enjoy the local area.

This step will allow you get a better idea of what you’re looking for without feeling pressure to put in an offer. And you’ll also be able to have better conversations with your real estate agent on the make or breaks.

Get an Agent

Speaking of real estate agents – it would greatly help your transaction if you hired one. Agents have tools and resources not available to the public to find listings before they hit websites like Zillow.

Agents will also be able to guide you through the real estate process. Our recent Guide on Hiring a Real Estate Agent can give you more info!

Receive the Loan Approval

Make sure you’ve done the work of comparing mortgage interest rates from different lenders. After you find a mortgage loan that works for you, work with your lender to receive preapproval.

Preapprovals shows sellers that you’re serious – which can help set you apart from other buyers.

Offer a Rent-Back Agreement

If you’re trying to really stand out from the crowd (and aren’t in a rush to move), you can instruct your agent to let the seller’s know you’d be interested in a rent-back agreement. This gives the sellers more wiggle room in their timeline of moving out, and would give you quite the edge. Rent-back agreements are just that: agreements. If it comes to this, make sure to work with your agent and come up with a plan that suits you.

Don’t Waive

You might be reading that plenty of buyers are waiving the home inspection to help the sellers like them more – and yes, while the sellers theoretically would like that, it isn’t necessarily good for you. If the home inspection comes back with some pretty bad reports, you want to be able to back out.

BUT, you can set a standard home inspection instead. If the inspector finds only minor issues with the home, the seller knows you’ll move forward with the deal without asking for repairs.

Keep Positive

2021 (so far) has been pretty tough for buyers. With a lack of inventory and prices reaching record highs, your patience will be put to the test. But it doesn’t mean you can’t find the best deal for you.

Focus on what you can control, and stay within your financial limits.

Check out Alliance Title’s Blog for more real estate homeowner/buyer/seller guides.

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