Equifax Breach and How You’re Affected

Equifax is one of the oldest and largest credit-monitoring companies, aggregating information on over 800 million consumers.  The company provides detailed information about personal credit and payment history of individuals, indicating whether they are eligible to receive a loan.  In order to provide a full credit report, Equifax houses an enormous amount of sensitive data, such as full names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates and sometimes driver’s license numbers.

Last week, Equifax revealed their data had been compromised during a cyber-security breach which occurred mid-May through July 2017.   Hackers gained access to personal information on 143 million American consumers.  Equifax also confirmed at least 209,000 consumers’ credit card credentials were taken during this attack.   This means that the opportunity for identity theft has tremendously increased for the majority of American residents.

We at First Home Mortgage understand the seriousness of this attack and need you to realize how important it is to take action immediately and be pro-active so identity theft does not happen to you.

How can I be proactive? Help!

First, monitor your credit report for any suspicious activity.  Check to see if new accounts have been opened that you did not open, late payments on debt you do not recognize or fraudulent charges made on a card.  You can check your credit report free, once a year here.  If you suspect identity theft, contact the credit card company’s fraud department immediately.

For extra protection, freeze your credit with the three major credit bureaus.  This is the best way to prevent identity theft.  Once accounts are frozen, you will not be able to open new lines of credit or have your credit checked without lifting the freeze.  Contact each bureau immediately to freeze your account.  Or, request a freeze online.  Note: You will not be able to freeze your credit if you are currently pending a large purchase or financing activity.

  •                Equifax:  1-800-349-9960 or  Click Here
  •                TransUnion:  1-888-909-8872 or  Click Here
  •                Experian:  1-888-397-3742 or  Click Here

Equifax is offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection to all who may have been impacted, for one year.  You may also enroll in Equifax’s program to see if you are one of the millions affected by the hack.  To get started, enroll here to begin.  The enrollment process must be completed by November 21, 2017.

For additional information on what to do if you are a victim of identity theft, click here.  This site will guide you on how to report identity theft if, for example, someone else filed a tax return using your information, if your information was exposed in a data breach or anything else.

Still not sure how to get started or need additional information? Contact your local First Home Mortgage Loan Officer today and they will help point you in the right direction. 

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ALERT- DC Open Doors Closing Cost Grant Special

DC Housing Finance Agency is offering a DC Open Doors Closing Cost Grant Special in the amount of $1,500.  This can only be used towards the borrower’s closing costs and the loan must be closing between June 9, 2017 and September 1, 2017.

Eligibility

  • Borrower must purchase a home in the District of Columbia
  • The borrower’s income must be at 80% or less of the Area Median Income ($88,240)
  • Grant is only available on a loan reserved/locked as a DC Open Doors HFA Preferred loan product (Fannie Mae loan with or without Down Payment Assistance)
  • DCHFA will provide a Grant Disclosure for the borrower to sign

Contact a First Home Mortgage Loan Officer today to see if you qualify.

 

This is not a guarantee to extend consumer credit as defined by Section 1026.2 of Regulation Z.  Programs, interest rates, terms and fees are subject to change without notice.  All loans are subject to credit approval and property appraisal.  First Home Mortgage Corporation NMLS ID #71603 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).

FHA Reduces Mortgage Insurance Premiums UPDATE

*Update 1/22/17: The Trump administration suspended the pending rate cut to FHA mortgage insurance indefinitely. The National Association of Realtors have requested that the premium cut be reinstated in order to help up to 40,000 new homebuyers in 2017. Presently, it is unclear whether this suspension will be repealed.*

Original post:

On Monday, the Federal Housing Administration announced it would be reducing monthly mortgage insurance premiums on loans closing or disbursing January 27th or later. This change means more borrowers may be eligible to purchase a home through the FHA in 2017.

The FHA provides government backed mortgages for as little as 3.5% down, which is why FHA loans are very attractive to first time and low-to-moderate income borrowers. In exchange for a lower down payment, homebuyers must pay mortgage insurance. When there is a reduction in this required cost it opens the door for more aspiring homebuyers.

Every time mortgage insurance premiums decrease, more borrowers can meet the debt-to-income ratio required to purchase a home. New borrowers who close on an FHA mortgage on or after January 27th could save an average of $500 this year, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This comes at the right time for consumers who might be facing higher credit costs due to rising mortgage interest rates.

FHA mortgage products have always provided opportunities to creditworthy borrowers who may not be able to obtain conventional loans. This cut in mortgage premiums breathes new life into the housing industry and may enable more borrowers to utilize the FHA program to achieve the dream of homeownership.

To read the full HUD press release about FHA, please visit their site here.

First Home Mortgage is an approved FHA lender. To learn more about FHA loans, contact your local Loan Officer.

FHFA Increases Loan Limits for 2017

Last week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced loan limits would increase for the first time since 2006. For over 10 years, the maximum loan limit for single family homes has been $417,000 in most counties across the country. In 2017, the loan limit will rise to $424,100, an increase of 1.7%. Why did the loan limit increase and what does it mean?

Every year, the FHFA announces the maximum loan limit for the year ahead. Loan limits set a cap on the size of mortgages that can be guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. As long as your loan amount falls below the maximum limit, you are eligible to finance your home with a conforming loan (if the loan amount is above the limit, it is considered a Jumbo loan). Conforming loans are considered industry standard, with easier terms and generally lower interest rates, appealing to many borrowers.

Loan limits are determined by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA), which was enacted to help the housing market recover after the crisis in 2008. The act dictates that loan limits will only adjust once home value prices are equal or greater than what they were in 2007. This past year, average home prices met and even surpassed the 2007 level. During the third quarter of 2016, the average price was roughly 1.7% above where it was in the third quarter of 2007. This is how FHFA decided to raise the loan limit 1.7%, up to $424,100.

Loan limits will be even higher if you reside in a county FHFA designates as a “high-cost area”; where the local median home value exceeds the baseline loan limit. For example, Maryland’s Montgomery County will have an increased loan limit of $636,150 compared to $517,500 in Baltimore City, and $424,100 in Wicomico. The limit also corresponds to the type of home you purchase. If you are in the market for a two-unit, three-unit or four-unit, the loan limit rises accordingly. See a full list of the maximum loan limits here.

Overall, this increase is a good sign. It means the housing market is starting to recover and our economic outlook for 2017 is relatively positive. As a home buyer, it will allow you to consider homes that are priced slightly higher, expanding your options and purchase power.

Why Are Rates Going Down?

In the past couple weeks, there have been some international events driving interest rates down. Well what really drives mortgage rates? The old story from George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” is still true, for those that need a reminder there is a run on the Bank, and George explains that the money is in lent out to build the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, what happened in It’s A Wonderful Life happened many times in American history, and rarely had a positive outcome. The problem was one of liquidity. Liquidity, loosely is the ability to exchange something for cold hard cash quickly and cheaply.  George Bailey couldn’t just trade the loans for cold hard cash during that era.

Today, that isn’t quite the case. If that happened today, George could underwrite the mortgages to Fannie Mae’s standards and have something that he could trade to another bank for cash. The market for Fannie Mae loans is one of the most liquid in the world and allows American’s to borrow at rates as low as they are today! This is also because the liquidity allows other mortgage investors to painlessly invest in loans to American consumers. If you have a pension, or a life insurance policy, almost assuredly some of those funds are invested in mortgages. Anyone who has cash and wants to invest it in American mortgages can do so, and they even include international financial institutions.

That brings us to the main reason mortgage rates are so low today. The American economy and financial markets are much more stable compared to those internationally. In Japan, and Europe, interest rates are even lower than they are here, so money has been flowing from their banks and financial institutions into American’s mortgages.

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