Important news before you get a HELOC

 Owner-occupied, Regulations  Comments Off on Important news before you get a HELOC
Feb 052018

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or

By G. Steven Bray

With rising home prices, you may be eyeing your increasing home equity with plans for remodeling or some other important need. However, before you do, take a few minutes to consider how the changes to the mortgage interest deduction might affect your tax bill.

It’s been well-reported that the new tax law reduces the max mortgage that qualifies for the mortgage interest deduction from $1m to $750k. For most of us, that’s not a big deal. The bigger deal is that starting this year, interest paid on a home equity line of credit (HELOC) no longer will be eligible for the deduction.

When you take cash out of your home, you have a couple options if you have an existing first mortgage. You can refinance the first mortgage adding to the balance the amount of cash you want, a so-called cash-out refinance, or you can use a HELOC, which typically is a 2nd lien on your home that leaves the existing first mortgage in place. Many folks prefer a HELOC because they have a really low rate for their existing first mortgage.

With the new tax law, the interest paid on a cash-out refinance is still eligible for the mortgage interest deduction. The interest paid on a HELOC is not.

So, before you decide which option to use, consider whether getting a new first mortgage would allow you to itemize your deductions. If it does, then you may find it’s a better financial decision to cash-out refinance your existing mortgage even though you may end up with a slightly higher interest rate.

TX home equity loans on the ballot in Nov

 Owner-occupied, Regulations, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on TX home equity loans on the ballot in Nov
Jun 142017

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or

By G. Steven Bray

Texans will have a chance to vote this fall on important changes to lending rules for home equity loans. The changes will allow those with lower-valued homes and rural homes to gain access to their home equity.

Texas has strong homestead protections that are written into the state constitution. Thus, changes to rules governing home equity require voter approval.

Currently, fees associated with a home equity loan are capped at 3% of the loan amount. While a cap on fees sounds great, it doesn’t take into account that certain fees, such as the appraisal and survey fees, don’t vary by loan size. This has prevented many homeowners of lower-valued homes from accessing their equity because the fees would exceed the cap. The new rules cap the fees at 2% but exclude fees associated with the appraisal, survey, and title policy.

The new rules also will allow owners of homes on agricultural land to apply for home equity loans. While this is a favorable development, it will be interesting to see which lenders will be interested in these loans. I suspect conventional lenders will shy away because the loans will be difficult to package with other home equity loans.

A final change will particularly benefit homeowners who used higher-rate, home equity second mortgages for things like remodeling their homes. Previously, a home equity loan only could be refinanced with another home equity loan. The change allows the homeowner to refinance their first and second mortgages into a new conventional loan that is free from the home equity restrictions.

Click here for more information about the amendment.

Act quickly if you want a reverse mortgage

 Loan Guidelines, Loan Programs, Residential Mortgage  Comments Off on Act quickly if you want a reverse mortgage
Apr 222015

For more information, please contact me at (512) 261-1542 or

By G. Steven Bray

FHA-insured reverse mortgages have been a fairly painless way for seniors to tap into their home equity. FHA has not evaluated applicants’ income, credit, and assets under the assumption that because the borrowers are receiving money that their financial situation is unimportant.

But with the housing downturn, FHA took a bath on reverse mortgages, and it ran into problems with seniors failing to pay property taxes and insurance. As a result, FHA has decided that starting Apr 27th it will only offer the program to seniors who can demonstrate an ability to maintain their homes. FHA calls it a financial assessment, and the evaluation criteria mean that applying for a reverse mortgage will be a lot like applying for a standard forward mortgage. Prepare to provide tax returns, account statements, and other documentation of your financial situation. In addition, now the lender will review a credit report.

If the financial assessment indicates you may have difficulty paying your property taxes and insurance, you’ll be required to set aside part of the mortgage proceeds, similar to way borrowers escrow for taxes and insurance with a forward mortgage.

It appears the changes will disqualify weaker borrowers regardless of how much equity they have in their homes. And given the losses FHA incurred on the program, that probably was the plan. To beat the changes you need to apply before Apr 27th.