Many potential homeowners don’t even attempt to buy – and miss out on serious opportunity. Common home buying myths scare them off.
A survey by Wells Fargo & Co. last fall showed that many borrowers who could afford a home didn’t take the plunge because of misguided ideas about getting a house loan. In fact, two-thirds of the respondents believed that people needed a very good credit score to get a house. And 40 percent thought you still needed 20 percent down to buy a home. It’s time to set the record straight.
Here are six of those mortgage myths debunked:
Myth No. 1: Your credit history and credit score have to be stellar
“A good benchmark is having a 640 credit score, and you pay your bills on time,” says Jill Underwood, senior loan officer at PrimeLending in Kansas City, Mo. “Even if you don’t have a good track record of paying your bills on time, you can still buy a house.”
There are even mortgage programs out there to get a loan if you have a 580 to 620 credit score. But what happens with these programs is that you will need more money down and have to have more money left over for the closing, she says.
Myth No. 2: You can still buy a house even with a really crappy credit history
Yes, this is the opposite of the No. 1 myth. But there are people out there — Underwood comes across them all the time – that believe they can get a mortgage with a 550 credit score and three pages of collections on their credit report.
“They think they can get a loan to buy a house. They come in my office and tell me that they have been out looking at houses. They have so many bills they haven’t paid. It’s crazy. There’s no program for that,” she says.
Myth No. 3: You need 20 percent for the down payment
“In today’s world, you can get a zero down payment even if you aren’t a veteran,” Underwood says. VA loans allow for zero down.
“Plus, there are so many down payment assistance programs out there in most states. I have four or five payment assistance programs right here in Kansas and Missouri. You can get free money that you don’t have to give back,” she says. “The FHA loans ask for 3.5 percent down but that can be a gift from your mom, dad, grandma or others. People can buy houses without any money out of their pocket.”
Myth No. 4: Closing costs are outrageous
Underwood says they don’t have to be. In fact, she has many buyers who are getting their closing costs paid completely by the seller.
“Nine out of 10 of my contracts, the seller is paying between $4,000 to $5,000 toward the buyer’s closing costs,” she says.
Also, some loan officers can charge a higher interest rate and then pay the closing costs for the borrower.
“But everyone is so rate sensitive these days, so not a lot of lenders are doing this. Everyone is spoiled with interest rates being in the 3’s. The 4 percent range sounds so terrible to them. But I started in this business when interest rates were in the 18 and 19 percent range,” she says.
Myth No. 5: Owning a home is the American dream
“Not necessarily,” Underwood says. “It really depends on what generation you are from.”
According to Zillow’s annual housing predictions, about 42% of millennials (those under the age of 35) say they want to buy a home in the next one to five years, compared to just 31% of Generation X (those 35-50 years old). That makes the millennials the largest home-buying age group.
Myth No. 6: A house is always a great investment
Sometimes, and sometimes not.
“In the sand states such as Florida, Nevada and California, they saw more than a 25 percent or more drop in value during the mortgage crash,” Underwood says. “But the value of purchasing a home is about planting roots, having the right to write off the interest on your taxes and having stability in your life. You can hope that you get appreciation in its value.”
Zillow predicts that home values will slow down from an average 6 percent to 2.5 percent by the end of 2015.
Awesome photo credit: Unsplash/Vladimir Kudinov