Calculating Loan-to-Value (LTV)

Understanding the definition of Loan-to-Value (LTV), and how it impacts a mortgage approval, will help you determine what type of loan amount and program you may qualify for.

Since the LTV Ratio is a major component of getting approved for a new mortgage, it’s a good idea to learn the simple math of calculating the amount of equity you may need, or down payment to budget for in order to qualify for a particular loan program.

The LTV Ratio is calculated as follows:

Mortgage Amount divided by Appraised Value of Property = Loan-to-Value Ratio

*On a purchase transaction for a residential property, the LTV is calculated using the lesser of either the purchase price or appraised value.

For Example:

Sally qualifies for a 96.5% Loan-to-Value FHA program, which means she’ll have to bring in 3.5% as a down payment.

If the purchase price is $100,000, then a 96.5% LTV would = $96,500 loan amount. And, the 3.5% down payment would be $3,500.

$96,500 (Mortgage Amount) / $100,000 (Purchase Price) = .965 or 96.5%

In addition to determining what mortgage programs are available, LTV also is a key factor in the amount of mortgage insurance required to protect the lender from default.

On a conventional loan, mortgage insurance is usually required if you have an LTV over 80% (one loan is more than 80% of the home’s appraised value). On that point, if you are currently paying mortgage insurance and think that your LTV is less than 80%, then it may be time to refinance, or call your lender to restructure the payment.

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Frequently Asked LTV Questions:

Q:  Why do the lenders care about Loan to Value?

Lenders care about the LTV because it helps determine the exposure and risk they have in lending on a certain property. Statistics show that borrowers with a lower LTV are less likely to default on their mortgage.  Also, with a lower LTV the lender will lose less money in case of a foreclosure.

Q:  Can I drop my mortgage insurance on an FHA loan?

The mortgage insurance on an FHA loan is structured differently than a conventional loan. On a 30 year fixed FHA loan, the monthly mortgage insurance can be removed after five years, as well as when the borrower’s loan is 78% LTV.

Q:  What does CLTV stand for?

CLTV stands for Combined Loan To Value. The CLTV calculation is as follows:
(1st Mortgage Amount + 2nd mortgage amount) / Appraised Value of Property = CLTV

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Common Documents Required For A Mortgage Pre-Approval

Even though many lenders are still quoting quick 10 minute pre-qualifications over the phone or online, a true mortgage approval that holds any weight is one that has been issued by an underwriter who has had an opportunity to review all of the necessary documents.

With a constant stream of new lending guidelines, volatile mortgage rates and tightening regulation from Washington, very few real estate agents will show new homes to a First-Time Home Buyer without at least a pre-qualification letter.

A Pre-Approval Letter will help you in three ways:

It’s obviously a good idea to get your paperwork prepared ahead of time so that the pre-approval process is as thorough as possible.

In order to get a pre-approval letter, you’ll start by filling out a loan application and submitting a few documents for the loan officer and / or underwriter to review.

Common Loan Pre-Approval Documents:

Income / Assets for Wage Earner:

  • Last 2 year W2s and Tax Returns
  • 2 most recent Pay Stubs
  • 2 most recent Bank Statements, 401(K), Liquid Assets, Investment Accounts

Income / Assets for Self-Employed:

  • Last 2 year Tax Returns – Business and Personal
  • Last Quarter P&L Statement

Letter of Explanation For:

  • Employment Gap or New Line of Work
  • Late Payments / Judgments / Bankruptcy on Credit Report

Other:

  • Bankruptcy Discharge
  • Child Support Documentation
  • Lease Agreements (If own other Rental Properties)
  • Mortgage Payment Coupons (If own other Real Estate)

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Most borrowers also want an opportunity to learn more about the loan officer before digging up all of these personal documents. Spend 15 minutes on the phone asking the loan officer to explain how mortgage rates work, quizzing them on some basic industry vocab or just to see if they know what to prepare your agent for ahead of time. The Q&A session can be more than just a lender qualifying you, as long as you’re prepared to ask the right questions.

Either way, you’ll definitely want to have the above list of approval documents ready once you’ve decided on the right loan officer that you trust will meet your expectations.

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Top 8 Things To Ask Your Lender During The Application Process

Knowing what questions to ask your lender during or before the loan application process is essential for making your mortgage approval process as smooth as possible.

Many borrowers fail to ask the right questions during the mortgage pre-qualification process and end up getting frustrated or hurt because their expectations were not met.

Here are the top eight questions and explanations to make sure you are fully prepared when taking your next mortgage loan application:

1. What documents will I need to have on hand in order to receive a full mortgage approval?

An experienced mortgage professional will be able to uncover any potential underwriting challenges up-front by simply asking the right questions during the initial application and interview process.

Residence history, marital status, credit obligations, down payment seasoning, income and employment verifications are a few examples of topics that can lead to stacks of documentation required by an underwriter for a full approval.

There is nothing worse than getting close to funding on a new home just to find out that your lender needs to verify something you weren’t prepared for.

2. How long will the whole process take?

Between processing, underwriting, title search, appraisal and other verification processes, there are obviously many factors to consider in the overall time line, which is why communication is essential.

As long as all of the documents and questions are addressed ahead of time, your loan officer should be able to give you a fair estimate of the total amount of time it will take to close on your mortgage.

The main reason this question is important to ask up-front is because it will help you determine whether or not the loan officer is more interested in telling you what you want to hear vs setting realistic expectations.

You should also inquire about anything specific that the loan officer thinks may hold up your file from closing on time.

3. Are my taxes and insurance included in the payment?

This answer to this question affects how much your total monthly payment will be and the total amount you’ll have to bring to closing.

If you include your taxes and insurance in your payment, you will have a higher monthly payment to the lender but then you also won’t have to worry about coming up with large sums of cash to pay the taxes when they are due.

4. Will my payment increase at any point after closing?

Most borrowers today choose fixed interest rate loans, which basically means the loan payment will never increase over the life of the loan.

However, if your taxes and insurance are included in your payment, you should anticipate that your total payment will change over time due to changes in your homeowner’s insurance premiums and property taxes.

5. How do I lock in my interest rate?

It’s good to know what the terms are and what the process is of locking in your interest rate.

Establishing whether or not you have the final word on locking in a specific interest rate at any given moment of time will alleviate the chance of someone else making the wrong decision on your behalf.

Most loan officers pay close attention to market conditions for their clients, but this should be clearly understood and agreed upon at the beginning of the relationship, especially since rates tend to move several times a day.

6. How long will my rate be locked?

Mortgage rates are typically priced with a 30 day lock, but you may choose to hold off temporarily if you’re purchasing a foreclosure or short sale.

The way the lock term affects your pricing is as follows: The shorter the lock period, the lower the interest rate, and the longer the lock period the higher the interest rate.

7. How does credit score affect my interest rate?

This is an important question to get specific answers on, especially if there have been any recent changes to your credit scenario.

There are a few key factors that can influence a slight fluctuation in your credit score, so be sure to fill your loan officer in on anything you can think of that may have been tied to your credit.

8. How much will I need for closing?

*The 2010 Good Faith Estimate will essentially only reflect what the maximum fees are, but will not tell you how much you need to bring to closing.

Ask your Loan Officer to estimate how much money you should budget for so that you are prepared at the time of closing.

Your earnest money deposit, appraisal fees and seller contributions may factor into this final number as well, so it helps to have a clear picture to avoid any last-minute panic attacks.

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Now that you have the background to these eight important questions, you should feel more confident about finding a mortgage company that can serve your personal needs and unique scenario.

Remember, the more you understand about the entire loan process, the better your experience will be.

Most frustration that is experienced during the home buying and approval process is largely due to unclear expectations.

You can never ask too many questions…

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Top Mortgage Terms To Know

While most mortgage web sites offer a glossary containing hundreds of real estate and lending related terms, we wanted to highlight the top terms that most borrowers will hear several times throughout the approval and home buying process. 

Understanding the “Shop Talk” between the various industry professionals that you’ve assembled on your team will hopefully give you greater confidence when discussing important topics that may impact your transaction. 

Mortgage Related Terms:

Amortization Schedule: 

A schedule of payments showing the amount applied to the principal and interest through the payoff. 

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 

The effective rate of interest that includes loan related fees.  The APR helps determine the total cost of borrowing a loan and is used to compare loans that are advertised with different note rates. 

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM): 

As opposed to a fixed-rate mortgage where the payment is set for the full term of the loan agreement, an ARM is tied to a specific financial index and may adjust after a set amount of time. 

Buydown: 

Where a borrower pays an up-front fee to lower the mortgage rate and monthly payment.  Rate Buydowns can be used to help a borrower qualify for a loan, or as a means of negotiation where the seller would contribute to a lower rate in order to entice a buyer to purchase their property. 

Combined Loan-to-Value (CLTV): 

The total amount of mortgage obligations on a particular property compared to the fair market value. 

Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI):  

A borrower’s minimum monthly liability payments divided by their gross monthly income. 

Default: 

Failure to fulfill an obligation to pay a mortgage.

Delinquency: 

Late payments on a monthly liability.  Creditors generally report payments to credit bureaus once the delinquency goes past 30 days. 

Disclosure: 

A big stack of documents that the lender, buyer and sellers sign during a real estate purchase or mortgage transaction.  These disclosures may also notify all parties involved of their rights and obligations. 

Discount Point: 

The amount paid to decrease an interest rate.
 

Fico Score: 

The three credit reporting agencies in the United States, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, collect data about consumers used to compile credit reports. The credit agencies use FICO software to generate FICO scores, which are sold to lenders. 

Each individual actually has three credit scores at any given time for any given scoring model because the three credit agencies have their own databases, gather reports from different creditors, and receive information from creditors at different times. 

Fixed Rate Mortgage: 

A mortgage loan where the interest rate on the note remains the same through the term of the loan, as opposed to loans where the interest rate may adjust or “float”.

Good Faith Estimate (GFE): 

A good faith estimate must be provided by a mortgage lender or broker in the United States to a customer, as required by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The estimate must include an itemized list of fees and costs associated with your loan and must be provided within three business days of applying for a loan. 

These mortgage fees, also called settlement costs or closing costs, cover every expense associated with a home loan, including inspections, title insurance, taxes and other charges. 

A good faith estimate is a standard form which is intended to be used to compare different offers (or quotes) from different lenders or brokers. 

Gross Income: 

Total taxable income which is generally verified by a lender through tax returns and W2’s. 

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): 

A line of credit secured by real estate. 

HUD-1 Statement: 

A comprehensive and itemized list of closing costs prepared by a closing agent that details all of the financial figures in a mortgage refinance or purchase transaction.

Joint Liability: 

When more than one person applies for and secures a mortgage. 

Jumbo Mortgage: 

A mortgage with a loan amount above conventional conforming loan limits. This standard is set by the two government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and sets the limit on the maximum value of any individual mortgage they will purchase from a lender. 

Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FHLMC) are large agencies that purchase the bulk of U.S. residential mortgages from banks and other lenders, allowing them to relieve restrictions on liquidity to lend more mortgages. 

When FNMA and FHLMC limits don’t cover the full loan amount, the loan is referred to as a “jumbo mortgage”. The average interest rates on jumbo mortgages are typically higher than that of conforming mortgages.

Loan-to-Value (LTV): 

The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio expresses the amount of a first mortgage lien as a percentage of the total appraised value of real property. For instance, if a borrower wants $130,000 to purchase a house worth $150,000, the LTV ratio is $130,000/$150,000 or 87% (LTV). 

Loan to value is one of the key risk factors that lenders assess when qualifying borrowers for a mortgage. The risk of default is always at the forefront of lending decisions, and the likelihood of a lender absorbing a loss in the foreclosure process increases as the amount of equity decreases. Therefore, as the LTV ratio of a loan increases, the qualification guidelines for certain mortgage programs become much stricter. Lenders can require borrowers of high LTV loans to buy mortgage insurance to protect the lender from the buyer default, which increases the costs of the mortgage. 

The valuation of a property is typically determined by an appraiser, but there is no greater measure of the actual real value of one property than an arms-length transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller. Typically, banks will utilize the lesser of the appraised value and purchase price if the purchase is “recent.” What constitutes recent varies by institution but is generally between 1–2 years. 

Loan Rate Lock: 

Where the loan officer locks a specific rate with a lender for a set amount of time. 

Liquid Assets: 

Money in a bank or investment account that can be obtained quickly. 

Loan Origination Fee: 

A fee paid by a borrower to a lender for obtaining a mortgage loan. 

Loan Servicer: 

A mortgage servicer is the company that borrowers pay their mortgage loan payments to. Mortgage servicers either purchase or retain mortgage servicing rights that allow them to collect payments from borrowers in return for a servicing fee. The duty of a mortgage servicer varies, but typically includes the acceptance and recording of mortgage payments; calculating variable interest rates on adjustable rate loans; payment of taxes and insurance from borrower escrow accounts; negotiations of workouts and modifications of mortgage upon default; and conducting or supervising the foreclosure process when necessary. 

Many borrowers confuse mortgage servicers with their lender. A mortgage servicer may be a borrower’s lender, but often the beneficial rights to the payment of principal and interest on mortgages are sold to investors such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, FHA, and private investors in mortgage securitization transactions. 

Mortgage Insurance: 

Mortgage insurance (also known as mortgage guaranty) is an insurance policy which compensates lenders or investors for losses due to the default of a mortgage loan. Mortgage insurance can be either public or private depending upon the insurer. 

Mortgage Backed Security: 

A mortgage-backed security (MBS) is an asset-backed security or debt obligation that represents a claim on the cash flows from mortgage loans, most commonly on residential property. 

First, mortgage loans are purchased from banks, mortgage companies, and other originators. Then, these loans are assembled into pools. This is done by government agencies, government-sponsored enterprises, and private entities, which may offer features to mitigate the risk of default associated with these mortgages. 

Mortgage-backed securities represent claims on the principal and payments on the loans in the pool, through a process known as Securitization. These securities are usually sold as bonds, but financial innovation has created a variety of securities that derive their ultimate value from mortgage pools. 

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): 

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is insurance payable to a lender or trustee for a pool of securities that may be required when taking out a mortgage loan. It is insurance to offset losses in the case where a borrower is not able to repay the loan and the lender is not able to recover its costs after foreclosure and sale of the mortgaged property.

Real Estate Related Terms

Acceptance: 

Generally used when a seller accepts the terms presented in a purchase contract offer. 

Contingency: 

A “Subject To” provision in a purchase contract or mortgage approval that requires more work or documents to be submitted prior to a final decision to be completed. 

Due-Diligence: 

The period of time described in a purchase contract for the buyer and seller to perform certain duties such as appraisal, loan approval and inspections. 

Deed of Trust: 

In real estate, a trust deed or deed of trust, is a document wherein specific financial interest in the title to real property is transferred to a trustee, which holds it as security for a loan (debt) between two other parties. 

One is referred to as the trustor the other referred to as the beneficiary. In its simplest terms the trustor would be the receiver of money and the beneficiary would be the lender of money. The trust deed document most likely would be recorded (constructive notice) with the County Recorder where the property is located as evidence of and security for the debt. 

When the loan is fully paid, the monetary claim on the title is transferred to the borrower by reconveyance to release the debt obligation. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the trustee has the right to foreclose on and transfer title to the lender or sell the property to pay the lender from the proceeds. 

Earnest Money: 

The deposit money deposited in escrow by a buyer in good faith to secure a purchase transaction. 

Escrow

A third party that holds money or property in trust until a transaction has been complete.  There are several uses for the word “Escrow” in the real estate or mortgage process.  Closing Escrow describes when a purchase transaction is complete.  An Escrow or Impound account involves having your annual property and hazard insurance payments handled by a third party and taken out of monthly installments in a mortgage payment. 

Equity: 

The difference between a loan balance and a property’s fair market value.

How Much Can I Afford?

How much mortgage money can I qualify to borrow?

This is typically the number one question mortgage professionals are asked by new clients.

Of critical importance when considering mortgage financing: There is sometimes a difference between what a client ***can*** borrow and what they ***should*** borrow.

In other words, what makes for a comfortable long-term mortgage payment?

The Quick Answer:

If we’re simply considering the financial math, lenders will calculate your Debt-to-Income Ratio and generally allow for 28-31% of your gross income to be used for the new house payment with up to 43% of your gross income to be used for all consumer related debts combined.

Sample Mortgage Scenario:

Let’s use a gross monthly income of $3000 and a qualifying factor of 30% Debt-to-Income Ratio:

$3000 multiplied by .3 (30%) = $900 max monthly mortgage payment

This means that your mortgage payment (Principal, Interest, Taxes, Hazard Insurance) cannot exceed $900 a month.

“Ballparking” a Qualifying Loan Amount:

Simple step:  We use a safe average of $7 per month in payment for every $1000 in purchase price so…

Step 1)  $900 a month divided by $7 = $128.50

Step 2) $128.50 multiplied by 1000 = $128,500 loan amount.

Remember, these are average ratios and guidelines set by most lenders for common mortgage programs.

Keep in mind, while most consumer debts are listed on a credit report, there are some additional monthly liabilities that may contribute to the overall qualifying percentages as well.

Regardless of how your personal income and credit scenarios factor in, it is important to consider your overall budget when trying to determine how much of a mortgage you should qualify for.

Other items to consider in your monthly budget:

1. Confirm all debts are taken into account
2. Any private notes or family loans
3. Short-term expenses – medical, auto repairs, travel, emergencies
4. Plan on additional expenses for the home such as water, electric, maintenance, etc…
5. Keep a cushion for savings and financial planning

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Ten Credit Do’s and Don’ts To Bear In Mind Prior To Getting Your Mortgage Loan

How can a fully approved loan get denied for funding after the borrower has signed loan docs?

Simple, the underwriter pulls an updated credit report to verify that there hasn’t been any new activity since original approval was issued, and the new findings kill the loan.

This generally won’t happen in a 30 day time-frame, but borrowers should anticipate a new credit report being pulled if the time from an original credit report to funding is more than 60 days.

Purchase transactions involving short sales or foreclosures tend to drag on for several months, so this approval / denial scenario is common.

It’s An Ugly Cycle:

  1. First-Time Home Buyer receives an approval
  2. Thinks everything is OK
  3. Makes a credit impacting decision (new car, furniture, run up credit card balance)
  4. Funder pulls new credit report and denies the loan

In the hopes of stemming the senseless slaughter of perfectly acceptable approvals, we’ve developed a “Ten credit do’s and don’ts” list to help ensure a smoother loan process.

These tips don’t encompass everything a borrower can do prior to and after the Pre-Approval process, however they’re a good representation of the things most likely to help and hurt an approval.

Ten Credit Do’s and Don’ts:

DO continue making your mortgage or rent payments

Remember, you’re trying to buy or refinance your home – one of the first things a lender looks for is responsible payment patterns on your current housing situation.

Even if you plan on closing in the middle of the month, or if you’ve already given notice, continue paying that rent until you’ve signed your final loan documents.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

DO stay current on all accounts

Much like the first item, the same goes for your other types of accounts (student loans, credit cards, etc).

Nothing can derail a loan approval faster than a late payment coming in the middle of the loan process.

DON’T make a major purchase (car, boat, big-screen TV, etc…)

This one gets borrowers in trouble more than any other item.

A simple tip: wait until the loan is closed before buying that new car, boat, or TV.

DON’T buy any furniture

This is similar to the previous, but deserves it’s own category as it gets many borrowers in trouble (especially First-Time Home Buyers).

Remember, you’ll have plenty of time to decorate your new home (or spend on your line of credit) AFTER the loan closes.

DON’T open a new credit card

Opening a new credit card dings your credit by adding an additional inquiry to your score, and it may change the mix of credit types within your report (i.e. credit cards, student loans, etc).

Both of these can have a negative impact on your score, and could result in a denial if things are already tight.

DON’T close any credit card accounts

The reverse of the previous item is also true. Closing accounts can have a negative impact on your score (for one – it decreases your capacity which accounts for 30% of your score).

DON’T open a new cell phone account

Cell phone companies pull your credit when you open a new account. If you’re on the border credit-wise, that inquiry could drop your score enough to impact your rate or cause a denial.

DON’T consolidate your debt onto 1 or 2 cards

We’ve already established that additional credit inquiries will hurt your score, but consolidating your credit will also diminish your capacity (the amount of credit you have available), resulting in another hit to your credit.

DON’T pay off collections

Sometimes a lender will require you to pay of a collection prior to closing your loan; other times they will not.

The best rule of thumb is to only pay off collections if absolutely necessary to ensure a loan approval. Otherwise, needlessly paying off collections could have a negative impact on your score.

Consult your loan professional prior to paying off any accounts.

DON’T take out a new loan

This goes for car loans, student loans, additional credit cards, lines of credit, and any other type of loan.

Taking out a new loan can have a negative impact on your credit, but also looks bad to underwriters and investors alike.

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Follow these Do’s and Don’ts for a smoother mortgage approval and funding process.

Just remember the simple tip: wait until AFTER the loan closes for any major purchases, loans, consolidations, and new accounts.

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