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Homeownership 101: What Are The Costs?

When faced with consistently rising rent prices and the desire to build wealth, homeownership is one of the most beneficial money moves you can make in your lifetime. But that doesn’t mean it comes without its costs. 

To avoid any surprise expenses after buying and moving into your new home, future homeowners need to understand all the costs of homeownership before signing any dotted lines.

Let’s take a look at the most common costs of owning a home so you can enter homeownership financially prepared. 

Upfront Costs

Down Payment

The most widely mentioned homeownership expenses are the out-of-pocket amounts you will need to close on your home. Typically, these upfront costs consist of your down payment and other closing costs. 

Down payments vary in amount, but they are often between 3% and 20% of a home’s price. Some government-backed loan programs, such as VA and USDA, require zero down payment; however, if you don’t qualify for a zero-down-payment loan, it will be in your best interest to save up a decent amount of money to be able to purchase your home. 

Closing Costs

Closing costs are fees that you acquire throughout the home-buying process. Closing costs consist of lender fees, taxes, insurance, title search fees, etc. They are typically between 3% and 6% of a home’s purchase price. 

Monthly Mortgage Costs

Property Taxes

When you get a mortgage, property taxes might be included in your monthly mortgage payment, which would allow your lender to hold the funds in an escrow account and pay them on your behalf. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditures Survey (CES) estimates homeowners paid an average of $3,370 in property taxes in 2019. 

Insurance

Homeownership will likely also come with an insurance cost added to your monthly mortgage payment:

  • General Home Insurance – covers loss and damage to your house, as well as the assets inside your home if a damaging event occurs and would be used to restore your home to its original value. 
  • PMI – Private mortgage insurance is a cost only applicable to conventional (or non-government-backed) loans. PMI is an “assurance fee” typically applied to monthly payments if a borrower cannot put 20% or more down on the home they purchase. PMI acts as a buffer for lenders when the risk of default is on the table while making homeownership possible for borrowers who can only put a small percentage down on the home they want.
  • MIP – A mortgage insurance premium is much like PMI, but it only applies to government-backed (FHA) loans, and it is required no matter your down-payment amount. This mortgage insurance consists of an annual MIP and UFMIP (upfront mortgage insurance premium).

Day-To-Day Costs

Once you’ve closed on your home and moved in, there are other living costs to consider aside from the expected monthly mortgage expenses.

Utilities

An umbrella term familiar to any new homeowner who was first a renter, utilities consist of all electricity, fuels, and services needed to keep your home livable. 

The 2020 Consumer Expenditures Survey (CES) supports the idea that utilities can make up a sizable chunk of monthly expenditure when they state that the average homeowner spent around $4,150 on utilities, or about $350 a month.

But don’t let these numbers scare you. Utility costs can vary depending on your location, the size and features of your house, and how much you use them overall.

Homeowners Association (HOA) Fees

Nowadays, many communities have a homeowners association that you will likely have to join, which means you will need to pay a monthly fee to that association. 

HOA fees generally pay for the following services shared by neighbors or community members:  

  • repair of shared community buildings 
  • neighborhood walkways or roads
  • upkeep of common areas
  • landscaping or weather-related services (such as lawn care or snow removal). 

Monthly HOA fees are often $200 – $300, but the exact cost is dependent on the extent of shared spaces and services your community offers. The fewer community spaces and services available, the lower your HOA fee will tend to be. 

In some cases, HOAs will ask you to pay a special assessment if an unforeseen emergency expense arises and they don’t have funds set aside to cover the cost. If this occurs, your HOA will request the special assessment fee in addition to your typical monthly HOA fees.

If you’re considering moving into a neighborhood with an HOA, make sure you understand the regular dues (and special assessments) you’ll have to pay.

Internal Upkeep: Maintenance 

Homeownership comes with the responsibility to fix things that need fixin’. This is where maintenance costs come in. If some part of your home needs to be replaced, cleaned, or otherwise serviced, you will need to have the money (and time) set aside to get things working as they should. 

According to a 2021 index from Thumbtack, a home services organization, the average homeowner should “budget $4,886 for a single-family home—up about $450 from last year, in part due to labor and material shortages.” 

The above price estimate may seem daunting to new homebuyers, but be aware that this estimate is a result of the past few years of unique, global circumstances. As things continue to fall back into normalcy, so should maintenance expenses. 

Here are the most common repairs and maintenance services homeowners need:

  • water damage
  • roof issue
  • HVAC care
  • plumbing problems
  • pest removal

If you want to be as prepared as possible to cover these costs if they arise, a good rule of thumb is to save 1% of your home’s value each year. 

Renovation Costs

Renovation costs are also something new homeowners should consider. However, they are not a definite expense. If you feel the need to make aesthetic additions to your home in the form of painting, rearranging, or upgrading, be sure to set aside enough funds for your home makeover to go smoothly. 

Though renovation is not a requirement, it can be a great investment, as many of these projects can help boost your home’s value. MortgageRight also has an awesome Renovation Loan Program to help you fund any renovations you might want to undertake. 

Financial Preparedness Is The RIGHT Way To Approach Homeownership

Homeownership is rewarding, but it’s not something you should jump into unprepared. If you need more help navigating the ins and outs of homeownership expenses, or you’re ready to put your money where your mouth is, contact us here, and we’ll get you started!

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Appreciating Our Veterans One VA Loan at a Time

What does it mean to be a Veteran? Being a veteran means fighting for the freedoms of those you have never met. It means having a willingness to give up everything while expecting nothing in return. Being a veteran means volunteering to leave the home you’ve always known, so others won’t have to. It means that you not only understand the concept of courage, but you embody it.

Most of all, being a veteran means taking off the uniform and rebuilding a civilian life when your service is complete. Here at MortgageRight, we understand how difficult it can be to make the transition from protector to private citizen. To show our appreciation for your sacrifice, we provide easy access to a mortgage made just for you—the VA home loan.  

What Is a VA Loan?

Homeownership can become a hassle if you’re not equipped with the financing option that is right for you. For the vast majority of military borrowers, the VA loan program is the most beneficial. These versatile, $0-down payment mortgages have made it possible for more than 24 million service members to achieve their dream of homeownership. 

Despite the program being designed to create a seamless homebuying experience for service members, much of our military population is left in the dark about the program’s unique benefits, and this leads them to choose less favorable loan options.

Who Qualifies? 

To be eligible for a VA loan, you must be a veteran or active service member who has satisfied at least one of these service requirements:

  • Served for 90 consecutive days during wartime 
  • Served for 181 days during peacetime 
  • Served in the National Guard or the Reserves for 6 years

Surviving spouses of service members may also qualify if the service member’s life was lost in the line of duty or if they sustained a service-related disability.

Before you can obtain a VA loan, you will need to present your lender with a copy of your Certificate of Eligibility, which is a document provided by The Department of Veteran’s Affairs as proof of your qualification. To prove previous military service, you must provide a Report of Separation (DD Form 214). If you are on active duty, you will need to provide a Statement of Service instead.

Though The Department of Veteran Affairs does not require a minimum credit score to qualify, it is best to maintain a credit score of 620 or higher to ensure third-party lender requirements are met. 

Backed by Benefits

  • Zero Down Payment

Other loan programs usually require at least a 3% down payment when purchasing a home. However, if you’re looking to buy a home with a VA loan, one of its most advantageous aspects is that the down payment requirement is no longer a burden. 

  • 90% Equity Cash Out

For homeowning service members and veterans, refinancing with a VA loan opens the door for a 90% equity cash out. This option replaces your existing mortgage with a new loan for more than you owe on your current mortgage and allows you to pocket the difference if your home has risen in value. This is especially beneficial if you are looking to save for higher education or retirement, pay off higher-interest debt, or make needed home improvements.

  • Say No to Mortgage Insurance Costs

Unlike other home loans on the market that require mortgage insurance premiums when the borrower has less than 20% equity in their home, VA loans do not come with any mortgage insurance premiums or private mortgage insurance costs—which helps borrowers save even more each month. 

 

Though a VA loan offers savings opportunities at every corner, it does require a VA Funding Fee (that is 2.3% of the amount borrowed with a VA loan, which increases to 3.6% if you are a previous VA loan borrower).

  • The IRRRL Deal

If you have an existing VA-backed home loan, the IRRRL (Interest rate reduction refinance loan) is another added perk. This program is perfect if you want to reduce your current monthly mortgage payments or increase payment stability. 

Let Us Appreciate You

As a Veteran owned and operated lender, MortgageRight always rises to the challenge of helping active and veteran service members navigate the VA-loan landscape and secure the mortgage that meets their unique homebuying needs.

Unsure if the VA loan is right for you? We can help! Get a quote or pre-approval letter or email us at contact@mortgageright.com for any questions.

Happy Military Appreciation Month & Thank You for Your Service!

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VA Loans

The VA (Veterans Affairs) loan helps service members, veterans and their families become homeowners by providing a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help veterans obtain, retain, or adapt a home for personal occupancy.

VA guaranteed loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies, and not by the VA directly. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is not a direct lender, therefore the loan is made through a private lender and partially guaranteed by the VA so long as guidelines are met. Through the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program, VA guarantees a portion of your loan against loss and helps lenders provide you with more favorable financing terms.

The VA loan remains one of the few mortgage options for borrowers who do not have a down payment. VA loans are available to more than 22 million veterans and active military members.

Most members of the military, veterans, reservists and National Guard members are eligible to apply for a VA loan. Spouses of military members who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability may also apply.

MortgageRight is Veteran Owned and Operated and understands the needs and requirements of our veterans. We remain steadfast in honoring their dreams of homeownership.

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FHA Loans

A FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan is a government-insured mortgage loan. An FHA loan has features that may make it easier for first-time homebuyers to achieve the dream of homeownership with low down payment options, flexible credit and income guidelines and a fixed-rate. FHA mortgage insurance protects the lender if a borrower defaults on the FHA loan.

Each FHA borrower pays a mortgage insurance premium. The premiums are collected and used by the FHA to reimburse the lender (not the borrower) should the borrower default and the lender must foreclose upon the loan and sustain a loss. This insurance enables a lender to provide loan options and benefits often not available through conventional financing. 

Fortunately, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requirements for credit scores and down payments are lower than for conventional loans. Borrowers may be able to qualify for an FHA loan with a credit score of at least 580 and a downpayment of just 3.5 percent. FHA loans may allow sellers to pay up to 6 percent of the loan amount to cover buyers’ closing costs.

Meet with MortgageRight.

Not all lenders can offer you a FHA loan, however MortgageRight is a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) approved lender.

  • You must prove that you have 2 years of steady employment, showing your income has remained the same or increased.
  • You cannot have declared bankruptcy in the past 2 years or had a foreclosure in the past 3 years. If you have, you may not qualify for an FHA loan.
  • You must also have the cash to pay the downpayment on your loan which is generally 3.5 percent of the total cost of the loan.

If you feel that you can or are close to meeting these requirements, call a MortgageRight loan officer today!

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USDA Loans

USDA loans are mortgage loans guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program is officially known as the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program (Section 502 Loan). USDA loans are also known as ‘Rural Housing Loans’, however USDA loans can be used in many suburban areas as well – dependent upon eligibility.

USDA loans are popular among today’s home buyers because the USDA program offers no-money-down financing where homebuyers can finance 100% of a home’s purchase price and can also use when purchasing a modular home. USDA mortgage rates are typically lower than the rates for FHA, VA and Conventional mortgage rates and may offer reduced mortgage insurance rates to its borrowers.

Originally designed to help rural Americans realize the dream of homeownership, the USDA Mortgage now services a wide variety of locations, homes and properties through USDA approved lenders. The USDA Rural Development Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program is one of the most powerful mortgage options available for rural and suburban homebuyers.

USDA Loans come with significant benefits that provide homebuyers the opportunity to achieve loan terms that no other program can offer. Of the many benefits, the most cited is the ability to obtain 100% financing.