Mortgage News and Notes

Today I had a 30-minute informational call with a woman in the early stages of a marital separation. We went over the basics, equity buyouts, mortgage payments, and the qualifying process. At the end of the call she told me that she felt so much better knowing not only what her future mortgage payments could look like, but also that she could afford to keep the house if that is what they decide. Then she asked me how much she owed me for the call. Of course the answer was nothing at all.


As a mortgage originator, I am not permitted to collect an hourly fee. I only get paid if and when someone does their mortgage with me. A simple fact, but the conversation reminded me that not everyone knows that! So, I am reminding you today that I am here to help your clients with mortgage solutions for FREE, and without any obligation. 


Considering the fact that getting a divorce is very often an expensive process, I find that my clients appreciate that I can offer them advice based on my years of experience without charge, and that I am always happy to help.


Margie Hofberg, President

Residential Mortgage Center

Posted by Steven Hofberg on January 16th, 2020 9:59 AM

Happy New Year! We said goodbye to 2019 and now welcome 2020 and a new decade. Predicting the housing economy is difficult anytime, but even more so given the trade and geopolitical uncertainties that will continue in 2020 as well as the national election coming up in November.


However, there is some consensus on a few key measures among both industry players (such as financial institutions) as well as the governmental mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac including:


  • Mortgage rates, which dropped from 4.50% to 3.75% during 2019, will continue to decrease, but only modestly. They are expected to reach approximately 3.60% in 2020.

  • Housing activity will show an uptick, with existing home sales up 5% year over year, to approximately 5.5 million sales per quarter in 2020.

  • Mortgage originations are expected to remain steady in 2020, with purchase loans becoming a larger percentage of total originations. 

  • Tight inventories of homes for sale will continue to push home prices up, especially in urban areas like the DMV. Expect the median home price to rise about 5% in 2020.

  • For those contemplating changes to their housing or mortgage situation, the most important factor is your personal financial (and non-financial) goals. How your goals relate to the market is where we can help. Contact Margie to discuss how you can benefit from what looks to be a stable market in 2020 (at least for now.)


    Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2020!


    Steven H Hofberg, Operations Manager

Posted by Steven Hofberg on January 7th, 2020 10:12 AM

Over the past five years, condominiums have surged in both popularity and value. There are a number of reasons for this, but certainly millennial lifestyle choices and affordability (when compared to single family homes) are major factors. This affordability means that condos are popular for first-time homebuyers. But after the financial crisis, FHA stopped accepting “spot” condo approvals, meaning that the entire project, not just the unit being financed, had to have FHA approval. Since very few condo projects took the time and considerable expense of getting full approval, the use of FHA financing for condo purchases has been severely limited for the past decade.

However, that has recently changed. Effective October 15, FHA is again accepting individual condo unit approvals. Although not every condo unit will be approved, this change will substantially increase the number of units that can be financed through FHA. Not all lenders are yet participating with FHA in the spot approval program, but RMC is fortunate to be working with one lender that is participating.

We feel that this is a game changer for condo purchases, especially for first-time homebuyers and those with limited down payment resources. Like any mortgage program, there are lots of details. Contact Margie for further information on this exciting change.


Steven H Hofberg

Operations Manager

Posted by Steven Hofberg on October 31st, 2019 9:59 PM

In the real estate market, there is a perception that spring is THE time to buy. But consider the facts. In hot markets like the DC metro area, spring and summer can be (and was again this year) a very frenzied time to look for a house. In addition, you may face issues like bidding wars, escalation clauses, and no contingency or minimal contingency contracts.


Now consider fall. It can be a great time for prospective buyers. Good deals can often be found for houses that didn’t sell in the spring or summer, as owners may be more willing to negotiate. Or they want to sell before the holidays. In any case, you will almost certainly have fewer buyers competing against you.


So, if you were trying to buy this year but have come up short so far, contact Margie to see how much of a mortgage loan you can qualify for and to get a Qualification Letter. Then go looking for your house!


Steven H Hofberg, Operations Manager

Posted by Steven Hofberg on October 11th, 2019 12:28 PM

Bond Market Weakness Pushes Mortgage Rates Lower

From the RMC Newsletter dated June 4, 2019

Domestic financial headwinds and trade disputes, particularly the huge one between the US and China, have investors moving into “safe havens” like US Treasury bonds. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond settled on Tuesday of last week at 2.268%, its lowest close since September 2017. Investors, analysts, and the Fed itself look to Treasury yields as a barometer of economic sentiment. Bond yields also factor heavily in the cost of debt for all types of borrowers, including home buyers. Few analysts see a risk of imminent recession, but many are predicting slower growth primarily due to disruptions of global trade caused by higher tariffs.


This economic stew does have its positives, one of which is its effect on mortgage rates. They generally track the 10-year bond yield, which has been falling substantially over the past few months. The impact on rates has likewise been substantial, falling a full percentage point in the last six months. This has made home ownership more affordable and it has opened the door to more borrowers who wish to refinance to lower their rate, take cash out, or recast an ARM that has or will soon adjust upward.


Steven H Hofberg,

Operations Manager

Posted by Steven Hofberg on June 5th, 2019 6:17 PM


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