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For a prospective home buyer or renter, there are many pros and cons to either buying or renting a home. This decision can singlehandedly affect you financially for years.

Troy McMahan, mortgage sales manager at Farmers National Bank in Beachwood; and Stephanie Rucinski, a Realtor in New Albany, said low interest rates are key in deciding whether to rent or finance a home.

Mortgage interest rates are at their lowest in years. According to NerdWallet.com, the 15-year mortgage interest rate was 2.253% as of Feb. 10, which is about half of what it was when it peaked at 4.57% in November 2018.

Those rates determine the monthly payment on a home and it’s also a factor in how much a lender can borrow.

A good interest rate will help you get more bang for your buck,” Rucinski said. “Back when rates were 18%, a $2,000 mortgage would get you a $150,000 home. Today, with rates less than 3%, that $2,000 payment would buy you a $430,000-plus home. This is assuming you put 5% down for a 30-year term and don’t factor in taxes or insurance. The lower the interest rate, the better the house you can buy.”

But this process isn’t as simple as getting a good rate and immediately signing a mortgage deed. McMahan said there are complex issues a homebuyer should consider, with the help of a mortgage professional.

“Every website across the country, you go to every lender, they have the posted rate for the day,” he said. “We’re no exception for that. And then you’re going to see a paragraph of fine print that says, ‘You must have a 750 credit score, you must put 20% or more down, you must own or occupy a single-family home, not multi-family.’ There are lots of conditions to get the very best rate every single day. That’s where a mortgage professional can walk them through.”

While it isn’t as simple as getting a good interest rate, Rucinski said that it’s still important to act fast before rates go back up because they change daily.

“There is no guarantee that the low rate today will be available tomorrow,” Rucinski said. “In fact, most experts agree that the only direction rates can go is up. Finally, many people have restrictions that will prevent them from refinancing in the short term, so it makes more sense to do research and to lock in the lowest rate possible at the beginning.”

There are many factors a prospective buyer should consider before buying a home. These include but are not limited to how much money you’re putting down, whether you’re seeking a fixed-rate or mixed-rate mortgage, and whether or not you’re being charged private mortgage insurance.

McMahan said it’s important to sit down with a professional to answer those questions.

“An intelligent, informed consumer is the best consumer,” McMahan said. “So, knowing how long you are going to live in the house and knowing what the purpose of the loan is for will help you with a mortgage professional to pick what is best for you.”

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