Patricia White's Blog
You may have heard the term “escrow” in your experience with real estate. You might know it’s an account, but what exactly does it do for you as a buyer? An escrow account is what your lender uses to make payments on things like property taxes, insurance, and more. The lender collects your monthly mortgage payment, and part of that cash goes into an escrow account.
This type of account is an excellent option for homeowners because your bills relating to being a homeowner will all be paid without you having to do anything. It makes budgeting a breeze because there aren’t any complicated calculations involved. Every month, your lender collects 1/12 of the estimated tax bill and insurance cost for the home. The rest of your mortgage payment covers the principal and interest on the loan of the house.
Are Escrow Accounts Mandatory?
You’ll find that most lenders require you to have an escrow account. The purpose of the account is to keep the home safe as collateral for the loan. The bank has an interest in the proper insurance behind the property. The taxes also need to be paid on time in order to keep the property in good standing. If the taxes aren’t paid, a tax lien will be placed against the house.
Everything In One Place
You’ll receive an annual statement from your lender that will show you how much money was collected and placed in your escrow account. Escrow payments often change because insurance premiums and taxes tend to change quite frequently. The amount being put into escrow may change a few times throughout the year. The lender keeps track of all this for you, saving you some time.
Bills That Need To Be Paid
Whether you have an escrow account or not the bills that are included must be paid one way or another. It’s a good idea to speak with your lender before you buy a home to find out that bank’s procedures around these insurance and tax payments. Property tax and home insurance are items that you’ll need to budget for regardless of how your lender does things. An escrow account can be much more convenient for many buyers.
Escrow is just another one of the many essential terms that you’ll come across as a homebuyer. Knowing the advantages and purpose of the account helps you to be informed as you dive into the home buying process.
Getting a mortgage is one of those things that everyone seems to have quite a bit of advice about. While people surely have good intentions, it’s not always best to take the buying advice of everyone you meet. Below, you’ll find the wrong kind of mortgage advice and why you should think twice about it.
Pre-Approvals Are Pointless
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can give you an upper hand when it comes to putting in offers on a home. Even though a pre-approval isn’t a guarantee, it’s a good step. It shows that you’re a serious buyer and locks you in with a lender so they can process your paperwork a bit more quickly when you do want to put an offer in on a home.
Use Your Own Bank
While your own bank may be a good place to start when it comes to buying a home, you don’t need to get your mortgage from the place where you already have an account. You need to compare rates at different banks to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal on a mortgage. You’ll also want to check on the mortgage requirements for each bank. Different banks have different standards based on down payment, credit scores and more. You’ll want to get your mortgage from the bank that’s right for you and your own situation.
The Lowest Interest Rate Is Best
While this could be true, it’s not set in stone. A bank with a slightly higher interest rate could offer you some benefits that you otherwise might not have. If you have a lower credit score, or less downpayment money, a bank offering a higher interest rate could be a better option for you. Low interest rates can have some fine print that might end up costing you a lot more in the long term. Do your research before you sign on with any kind of bank for your mortgage.
Borrow The Maximum
Just because you’re approved for a certain amount of mortgage doesn’t mean that you need to max out your budget. It’s always best to have a bit of a financial cushion for yourself to keep your budget from being extremely tight. When life throws you a curveball like unexpected medical bills or a job loss, you’ll be glad that you didn’t strain your budget to the end of your means. Even though the bigger, nicer house always looks more attractive, you’re better off financially if you’re sensible about the amount of money you borrow to buy a home.
The dream of paying off your mortgage fast may seem like an overwhelming task. After all, it is money that is involved. And it is not just an amount you can sneeze at; it is thousands of dollars. In this modern era of financial distractions, being able to pay such amount of money within a snap of your fingers is not common.
However, if you wish you to pay off your mortgage fast, you can do so by switching to a biweekly payment plan.
What is a bi-weekly Payment?
When you are dealing with your debt, and you are trying to pay it off, a monthly structure is available. This monthly structure includes interest which you deal with and, it pays off every month.
The point of you getting out of debt on time is to live your life and pursue your dream so you need to use the tools and the knowledge available to you that you can implement right away - bi-weekly payment is one.
A biweekly mortgage is like your traditional mortgage. What makes it different is that you will need to structure your payments. In other words, you won’t be making one payment at the start of a new month; you will be making half of your payments every two weeks.
Bi-weekly Payment Are Not Twice a Month Payment
The main difference between a fortnightly payment and twice a month payment is that you have to pay an extra month payment at the end of a year. So, there are 12 months in one year. At the end of the 12th month, you would have paid 13 months of payment without spending more than you are already paying every month.
With a bi-weekly payment, you only have to split your mortgage in half. You take care of the first half after the first 14days and the second half at the latter 14 days, so nothing is changing in your monthly payments. The only difference with bi-weekly payments is that you have to make sure your money is going towards the principal and not the interest charge balance.
How Does Bi-weekly Payment work?
- 52 weeks a year/ 2 bi-weekly payment in a month = 26 payments a year
- Divide 26 payment by 2 to get the picture of what a “full month’s payment” would be. 1 full month payment = 1 month
- 26 payment per year/ 2=13 full payments (13 months) instead of 12 monthly payment in a year.
You will make an additional loan payment per year without any extra effort. Bi-weekly payment can help you pay off your mortgage fast, but you will need to consult a mortgage advisor to know if it will suit you.
Most homeowners would love to be able to pay off their mortgage early. However, few see it as a possibility when they take into account their earnings and other bills.
There are, however, a few ways to pay down your mortgage earlier than planned. But first, let’s talk about when it makes sense to try and pay off your mortgage.
When to consider paying off your mortgage early
If you recently got a promotion, have someone move in with you who contributes to paying the bills, or recently got a secondary form of income, you might want to consider making extra payments on your mortgage.
However, having extra money doesn’t always mean you should spend it immediately on your home loan.
First, consider if you have a large enough emergency savings fund. It might be tempting to try and throw any extra money at your mortgage as soon as possible, but there are other financial commitments you should plan for as well.
If you have kids who will be applying to college soon, remember that student aid takes into account their parents’ finances. If your children plan on applying to institutions with high tuition, then your equity will be counted against you.
Refinancing to pay your mortgage early
Refinancing your home loan is one option if you’re considering increasing the payments on your mortgage. If you can refinance a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan with a lower interest rate, you’ll save money in two ways--your lower interest rate and the fact that you’ll be accruing interest for less time.
There is a downside to refinancing. Once you refinance, you’re locked into your new payment amount. So, if your higher income isn’t dependable, it might not make sense to commit to a higher monthly payment that you aren’t sure you’re going to be able to keep paying.
There’s also the matter of refinancing costs. Just like the costs associated with signing on your mortgage, you’ll have to pay closing costs on refinancing. You’ll need to weigh the cost of refinancing against the amount you’ll save on interest over the term of your mortgage to see if it truly makes sense to go through the refinancing process.
Paying more on your current loan
Even if you aren’t sure that refinancing is the best option, there are other ways you can make payments on your mortgage to pay it off years sooner than your term length.
One of the common methods is to simply make thirteen payments each year instead of twelve. To do this, homeowners often use their tax returns or savings to make the thirteenth payment. Over a thirty year mortgage, this could save you over full two years of added interest.
A second option is to make two bi-weekly payments rather than one monthly payment. By making biweekly payments you have the ability to make 26 payments in a year. If you were to just make two payments per month then you would make 24 total payments. Over time, those two extra payments per year add up.
When considering becoming a homeowner, one of the decisions you can make that will be beneficial to you is to deposit a down payment. However, the question is how do save up that hefty down payment?
One of the biggest roadblocks for prospective home buyers is securing a down payment. Fortunately, though, technology seems to be playing a huge factor in shrinking the burden of down payment. The whole saving process has become quite a bit less rigorous.
Below is a list of how you can overcome the down payment hurdle and ensure you have enough money when it’s time for you to buy.
Save A Fixed Amount Every Month
Saving a fixed amount is the simplest and most convenient way to save money. Open a savings account and discipline yourself to pay in a certain sum into the account every month. Discipline yourself not to use the money for any other purpose aside for your down payment.
Save a lot more than you spend, review your expenses and cut down on items that are not necessary. Whatever money generated as a result of this should be added to your down payment account.
Skip Vacations for A Year
I know going for a vacation during the year is something you are looking forward to and you have it all planned out. However, if you are looking to save up enough money for your down payment, then you should consider scrapping out vacation until you have enough money for your down payment.
Reduce Your Debt
Having a credit card with a high interest rate can limit your ability to save. Pay off your interest debt starting with the highest; after that, you can close off that card while you proceed to pay off the next.
Borrow from Your Retirement Plan
You can ask human resources or your payroll officer if it’s possible to borrow against your savings to buy a home. Many profit sharing setups make provisions for employees to loan a certain amount from their retirement plan to become a homeowner.
Borrow from A Relative
When it comes to getting a home of your own, most family members and relatives would be willing to help; they can grant you loans without interest, gifts and other non-monetary items that will help you in your down payment quest.
Get Another Source of Income
Getting a second job would mean you would probably be working round the clock, but in the long run, it would pay off. Getting another job means another source of income and more money to save into your down payment accounting.