Strategy session to discuss future of West Ashley

The future of West Ashley will be discussed during a strategy session Monday at West Ashley High School. Citadel Mall, which has struggled financially, is the area's central shopping destination.

Much has been said about the future of West Ashley as it relates to its business climate, especially since Citadel Mall changed hands after its former owners lost the property in a foreclosure lawsuit more than a year ago.

Government leaders will join with civic organizations and business people 6-8 p.m. Monday to discuss what's in store for the area during an Economic Development Strategy session at West Ashley High School.

The meeting, open to the public, will provide an opportunity for the exchange of information and ideas. Contact task force chairwoman Sue Stevens at sstevens314@gmail.com.

With new mortgage guidelines now in effect, including a reduction of the minimum downpayment to 3 percent from 5 percent, WalletHub said in its 2014 Mortgage Insurance Report that low-downpayment buyers can save up to $12,000. The saving is based on whether they choose to get Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance or a private policy.

According to WalletHub, FHA premiums have nearly doubled since 2008. Someone who buys a median-priced home now has to pay $17,398 in premiums during the first five years, compared to just $9,210 in 2008.

Consumers with downpayments below 20 percent can save from $2,251 to $12,026 in five years by choosing private mortgage insurance instead ofFHA coverage, WalletHub said. The higher the credit score and downpayment, the more potential savings.

Borrowers who put down less than 20 percent toward the purchase of a home purchase are required to buy mortgage insurance. Rates can range from 0.32% to 1.2% of the principal.

The rub is that, unlike private policies, FHA premiums are assessed throughout the life of a loan, even after the loan-to-value ratio drops below the 80 percent threshold. This can create big cost disparities over time, according to WalletHub.

Private mortgage insurance rates are down relative to 2013, having fallen by an average of 3.36 percent across all credit scores. The biggest drop (11.36 percent) has been for buyers with a credit score of at least 760 who are making a 90 percent, loan-to-value purchase.

Go to wallethub.com/edu/mortgage-insurance-report/8645 for the report.

The Federal Housing Administration's loan limits will remain unchanged this year. Its calculation for maximum loan limits in high-cost metro areas of the country will remain the same as the 2014 level of $625,500. The current standard loan limit for areas where housing costs are relatively low will hold at $271,050.

The mortgage loan limits for FHA-insured reverse mortgages will also remain unchanged. The FHA reverse-mortgage product, known as the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, will continue to have a maximum claim amount of $625,500, with actual loan limits based on property value, the borrower's age and current interest rates.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.