Shopping For A Hazard Insurance Policy

When shopping for a hazard insurance policy, something called “bundling” can actually save you quite a bit of money that most people aren’t aware of.

Many of the big insurance companies price their insurance rates to attract a particular segment of the market. They usually price their hazard insurance policies to attract homeowners who need to insure not only their homes with hazard insurance, but also their cars with car insurance and lives with life insurance.

The big insurance companies want customers who will stay with them for years vs shopping around for a better deal every six months.  So, to give customers an incentive to stick with them, they offer discounts if you use the company for all three (hazard, auto, life) lines of insurance.

Companies offer “multiline discounts” to attract customers who will need more than one type of insurance. These companies offer a cheaper rate to insure both your house and car than if you insured each one separately at different companies.

The same goes if you add a second car or a life insurance policy – the discounts keep adding up.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. How much can you actually save when you combine insurance policies with one company?

It varies by company, but with some of the large insurance companies, it will save you up to 40%.

Q. Why are the large companies sometime so far off when it comes to price on my hazard insurance?

Large companies often give significant discounts if you have your hazard, auto and life insurance with them – and they actually *want* to be higher in price if you only have one line. People with only one line of insurance switch more often according to the statistics.

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Who Owns My Home If I Have A Mortgage?

Many borrowers believe that when they purchase a property by obtaining mortgage financing, they also own their home.

Technically speaking, full ownership on a property only happens once the mortgage loan amount has been paid in full.

To break this down in more detail, there are a few components of a mortgage:

A Promissory Note is a document signed by the borrower acknowledging their commitment to pay the mortgage back with interest in a specific period of time.

In addition to the terms of repayment, the Note also contains provisions concerning the rights of both parties involved in the agreement.

In some states, a Deed of Trust is used instead of a Mortgage Note. The main difference is that on a Deed of Trust there is a Trustee, which the legal title is vested to in order to secure the repayment of the loan.

There are three parties involved with a Deed of Trust:

1) Trustor – This is the borrower

2) Trustee – This is the entity that holds “bare or legal” title, and is usually the title company which holds the Power of Sale in the event of default and reconveys the property once the Deed of Trust is paid in full.

3) Beneficiary – This is the lender that is getting repaid

Deeds of Trust are easier for lenders to foreclose on than a mortgage because there is no need for a judicial proceeding.

Mortgages on the other hand, have to go through judicial proceedings, which can be expensive and time consuming.

In summary, until you have your promissory note paid in full, you are not the only one with an ownership interest in your property.

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Four Possible Reasons To Refinance

A mortgage is generally the largest debt most homeowners have to manage.  It’s a good idea to give your personal real estate finance portfolio a check-up at least once a year.

Since there are many reasons a homeowner may choose to refinance, we’ll take a look at the four most common.

1.  Mortgage Rates Drop:

Typically, the most common reason that homeowners refinance their mortgage is to secure a lower interest rate. Interest rate and loan amount determines the total cost that a borrower will pay. The lower the interest rate, the less the overall cost will be. Interest is calculated on a daily basis and usually paid back to the lender on a monthly basis.

2.  Lower Payments:

Lowering a mortgage payment can be achieved by lowering the mortgage rate, lengthening the loan term, combining two or more loans or removing mortgage insurance.

3.  New Mortgage Program:

Refinancing an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) to a new Fixed Rate Mortgage (FRM), combining a first and second mortgage or paying off a balloon loan are three possible reasons to explore a refinance.

4.  Debt Consolidation:

If there is sufficient equity, sometimes paying off consumer debt by combining all debts into one lower monthly mortgage payment can significantly reduce the short-term deficits in a budget.  However, it’s important to keep in mind the total cost of that debt by adding it into a 30 year mortgage payment.

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Frequently Asked Refinance Questions:

Q:  Do I have to refinance with my current mortgage company?

No, you may choose any company to refinance your mortgage since the new loan will replace the existing mortgage.

Q:  Is it easier to refinance with my current mortgage company?

It is possible your current mortgage company may require less documentation, but this could add additional cost or a higher interest rate. Do your homework and shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Q:  Will I automatically qualify if I’ve never made any late payments?

No, you will have to qualify for your new refinance. However, certain programs will allow for reduced documentation like a FHA to FHA Streamline Refinance.

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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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