Existing Home Sales Up 4.9% in May
In the greatest gain since October, the housing market posted a 4.9 percent increase in existing home sales. The May increase propelled us right into the Summer selling season and is fueling a lot of excitement for the improved buying and selling opportunities.
Stabilized Interest Rates
There has been a lot of volatility with rates over the last year. It all started with the Federal Reserve announcing a reduction in their $85 billion asset purchasing program. SInce then there has been political and economic unrest and at times even chaos. After a year of volatility, it appears as though rates have finally stabilized to more manageable levels.
Across the country and especially in the Pacific Northwest, we saw small inventory increases. While the numbers aren’t reason to shout for joy, they do signal positive changes moving forward.
Slower Pace of Home Price Increases
As we finally began to come out of the recession, it seemed as though we were launched out it. Home values increased at their fastest pace in years as homeowners were coming out from underwater. This helped push inventories up and gave a little bit of breathing room for the housing market. We’re now seeing a gradual slowing of the rate at which home values are increasing. Many people have expressed concern that it could be a sign of another bubble bursting, but many economist agree that the change is simple a move to a more sustainable rate of increase.
There are many ways to approach the process of selecting a lender for your home mortgage. Some people choose to make impulsive decisions, calling the first lender they find. Other people may be overly thorough by starting an application with several lenders during the buying process. It’s easy to see that calling a lender without researching is a bad idea, and you probably don’t have the time to work with multiple lenders at once. So what are some wise and efficient ways to select a lender?
Five Things to Consider When Selecting a Lender
Below is a list of things you should take into consideration when deciding on a lender for you new home loan. Whether you’re looking to refinance or buy a new home, these recommendations will help you.
Nothing of Value is Free
If you use the internet to find a mortgage broker, you’ll find a plethora of lenders touting rates well below industry averages, with no fees, and free services like appraisals or credit reports. While these seem very attractive, you must be careful. Often times the rates/terms being promoted are for extreme situations. Often the offer is for an Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) for the most ideal borrower, and unfortunately very few borrowers can qualify.
Be cautious when investigating the companies that make these claims, and remember the saying, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
Testimonials and Online Presence
One excellent way to validate a lenders claims is to check customer feedback. This has become an ever easier task with internet rating sites like Yelp and Google Local. Satisfied customers are happy to share their stories and disgruntled customers are eager to warn others away from lenders with poor customer service. Learning from other’s experiences can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
In addition to looking for reviews, can you do a online search and find the company? Try typing the lender’s name into a Google or Bing search. Do you see results from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Yelp, and social media sites? Or does nothing of value show up? Having an online presence is a good indicator of a lender that is not trying to hide something.
The Man Behind the Curtain
Many mortgage experts like to think of big brands like Well’s Fargo, Veterans United, Chase, and USAA as the “man behind the curtain.” The big name company is the curtain and a lot of borrowers take comfort in that big name. For them the name offers some type of protection. But the fact of the matter is, your loan is only as safe as the person, not the company working on it. Behind the curtain of these big brands is a person, and while they may have a business card that says Wells Fargo, that doesn’t mean they have more experience or knowledge than your local mortgage broker.
When considering a lender, don’t get caught up in the company, as much as with the person who will be handling your loan. Your goal should be to find the loan officer that will work hard for you, is honest, and is easy to reach.
When you call the lender, are you asked to push a number to get to a department, or does a live person answer the phone? Often in the loan process you need to quickly communicate with your loan officer, and it is vital that you are able to reach him or her as soon as possible. Being able to communicate with your loan officer in a timely manner can mean the difference between getting an approved offer on a home or it going to someone else.
Having a local lender should be viewed as more than just a luxury. A local lender general has these added benefits…
1. Knows and has worked with the local appraisers
2. Easier to meet with in person
3. Has a network of local realtors and other mortgage professionals
4. Is familiar with the housing market in your area
When it comes to selecting a lender you can trust, following the five guidelines listed above can really be the difference in having a pleasant home buying experience or having a stressful one.