What is wire fraud? What are lender affiliate programs and why does it pay to take a keen interest in them? Is it still a seller’s market? Why is now a good time to refinance? Without further ado, let’s jump in!
1. Watch out for wire fraud.
Though it’s not fun to think about, “fraud” was an unavoidable term in 2017. Fraudsters are continuously working to get smarter and better at scamming you but there are things you can do to tilt the safety odds in your favor. One thing you can do now is keep an eye out for wire fraud.
- What is it? Fraudsters send you mail or phone calls pretending to be your title company. They’ll send wire transfer instructions as if they were official documents, and command you to wire a certain amount of money to a certain account. They will often say that your action is URGENT and time-sensitive, and that you will be penalized if you do not act quickly.
- How to beat it? If you see a document like this or get a call like this, verify that it actually came from the title company associated with your home loan. What company do they say they’re from? Is that actually the title company on your home loan? If not, you can be sure it’s a scam! If the company checks out, politely tell them you need to put the phone down for a minute, hang up, and immediately call your title company personally to verify the truth of their claim. If you do in fact owe money, you can be sure they will let you know when you call. If the call did not come from them, let them know there is an imposter scamming people in their name. They will be glad to know about this so they can help rectify the issue and notify others.
2. Prospective home buyers: be careful if your realtor has a lender affiliate program.
You’re ready to go house shopping so you start working with a realtor. The process can be long, complicated, and full of unfamiliar information that will have a huge effect on your future. Your realtor is there to be your trusted guide. They have expertise in the market, and their sole purpose should be to get you the home you want at a comfortable price. To be clear, most realtors operate this way, working with integrity, good faith, and a sincere desire to effectively fulfill your needs. That said, some buyers are feeling pressured by realtors with “lender affiliate programs.”
- If your realtor has a lender affiliated program, make sure you do your own homework and shop around for rates before inking a contract. Increasingly, realtors adopt “affiliations” (sometimes called “loan affiliate programs” or something similar) with a certain lender as a way to help promote business between each other. While there is nothing wrong with this, it may cause a realtor to become more partial to one lender over others – whether or not this matches the needs of the buyer. During the home buying process, notice whether you feel pressured to work with a specific lender.
- Research the current loan rates, both nationally and in your area, based on the terms of your loan. The internet makes it fast and easy for you to shop around and gather this crucial data.
- If you have an existing relationship with a financial institution already, consider the benefits of working with them for your home loan as well. This might help simplify the process and give you peace of mind.
- Try not to make your decision under pressure. Taking advice can be helpful, but ultimately you are the one who will be living in your new home for the foreseeable future, along with any family or friends who will be joining you. Therefore, your needs should always drive the process, not the other way around.
- For a simple, easy home buying experience, contact a dedicated Unitus Home Loan Expert who will listen first, communicate often and inspire confidence in you.
3. Is the market finally becoming more friendly to buyers? Yes!
After an extraordinary housing boom in recent times, the tide in Portland is finally shifting back toward a buyer-friendly market. Slowly but surely, the market is balancing out, giving more leverage to buyers.
Inventory is rising, increasing supply. Sales are starting to slow, decreasing demand on the whole. Higher supply and lower demand equal happier buyers!
There was an important regulatory change last year: homebuyers can now borrow nearly $30,000 more toward a mortgage thanks to a recent regulatory increase in the conforming loan limit. This could be especially helpful for first-time homebuyers, who will be able to borrow more and put less money down.
Another reason now is a good time to buy: rates are still historically low, and mortgage rates are expected to increase throughout 2018. Taking all of this together, if you have had home buying on your “someday” list, now is a good time to make your dreams of home ownership come true.
4. Who else is benefiting from the market? Homeowners!
Sure, higher listing prices make it more challenging for prospective homebuyers. However, there is a positive flipside. Homeowners are benefiting with rising home equity balances which help improve cash flow and build assets. Not only that, but rising home equity makes a refinance a smarter option.
Short-term rates, such as those on a 15-year mortgage loan (a popular refinance option) are still very low right now. So, if you have been paying into your 20- or 30- year conventional loan for a while, a refinance might help you save a lot in the long term. It could help you pay off your loan faster, and at a lower interest rate, saving you money for the other important things in life like tuition, home improvements, travel, or whatever will make 2018 your best year yet.
Posted By: Brad Goodenough
About the Author: Brad joined Unitus Mortgage in November of 2013. He began as a dedicated mortgage originator and has developed into a results-oriented sales manager focused on maintaining a high level of service and integrity across the Home Loan team. Throughout his career in financial services he has gained expertise in multiple lending platforms and local housing markets. He owes his success to his first professional priority: to add value to his community by sharing knowledge and always providing honest, reliable information.