To Prepay Or Not to Prepay, that is the Question

 Tax Benefits of Homeownership, The Affordable Home  Comments Off on To Prepay Or Not to Prepay, that is the Question
May 232015
 

calculator photo2I was included in a FaceBook thread where a homeowner considered whether to refinance his 30year Fixed rate mortgage into a 15 year fixed rate mortgage, or to find an online calculator that would assist him in creating a prepayment plan.

Here’s his query:
Can anyone recommend a decent mortgage calculator site/app/spreadsheet?
We’re currently on a 30 year/4% fixed. Trying to compare two options:
1) Switch to a 15 year/3.65%.
2) Start paying an additional quarterly payment against principal with the existing mortgage.
I know this isn’t exactly advanced math, but I also feel like someone must have put something together that shows the impact of added payments against principal. Mortgage calculators are great at helping figure out the cost of new mortgages (i.e., option #1 above), but not so good at helping jigger existing mortgages (option #2).
Any help?

Here’s my response:Light-Bulb-Clip-Art
First check with your tax professional before you consider a day in the near future when you “burn the mortgage!” While it may feel great to someday own your home free of any debt, you might lose out on a valuable (in real dollars) tax deduction. Second, rather than refinance and incur closing costs again, prepaying a 30 year mortgage is easy-peasy! Simply add 4% of your current Principal and Interest monthly for year one of your prepayment plan. In subsequent years, add ANOTHER 4% of each years’ NEW monthly payment. Treat your mortgage like an employee with “4% cost of living raises” each year. If you follow this course you can prepay a 30 year loan in 13 years. Hope that helps!

 

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Happy House Hunting!

May 182015
 

inspector 1You definitely want to be present at the inspection; budget anywhere from 2 to 5 hours for the inspection. Dress as if you might get dirty; bring a flashlight. You’ll go through the house side by side with your Inspector. After the inspection, your Inspector will discuss with you any major issues you need be aware of to discuss with your Attorney. You’ll get a written report shortly after the inspection day.

Typically your Home Inspection will alert you to problems in five key areas, and these key areas directly relate to the contract of sale in a New York home purchase:

1. Foundation: sound and solid
2. Roof free of leaks
3. Plumbing working and leak-free
4. Heating system sufficient and operating
5. Electrical system sufficient and up to code

image w definitions

If there is a serious problem with any of these five items, typically the Seller has a responsibility under the terms of the contract of sale to repair the problem at their expense, not the Purchaser’s expense. Sometimes a Purchaser will receive a credit at closing to repair one of these items (assuming the home and the defective issue has not compromised the Lender’s appraisal). When the Purchaser receives a credit at closing, the amount of the credit is based upon legitimate estimates for repair and negotiations between the Attorneys representing each party.

Other items you discover are in need of repair/upgrade (i.e. dishwasher not operating properly; air conditioner on second floor inoperable, etc.) can be negotiated for a repair credit or replacement at the Seller’s expense. Again, these negotiations are typically handled by the Attorneys.

It is not as common as you might think that a purchase price is reduced due to repairs from a Home Inspection. Best to consult with your Attorney for more detailed information in this area.

 

 
Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Happy House Hunting!

Apr 132015
 

tax refundIt’s tax time and many homeowners receive large tax refund checks. Here’s some advice I’ve put together for you on different ways to use that money.

This article is part of my series “The Affordable Home.”  In the series I seek to focus on the intangible benefits of homeownership by making them, well, tangible.  I believe the affordable home is the sensible and proper approach to homeownership; so many new homebuyers today specifically focus on the affordability of the mortgage loan instead of the “HGTV” aspects of a house. I find this attitude refreshing for two reasons.

First, it’s an “old” attitude: in decades past the idea of buying a home revolved around diligent budgeting to save up the down payment and the concept the monthly payment should be affordable.

1950-oct-28-crop

The features of the house—granite countertops, high end appliances, paved driveways—were minor considerations and certainly did not make for sound decision-making when buying a home.  Those features could be added later, if one so desired, and those “old-timers” (I was once one of them) knew that.

Second, during the past decade, during the “Boom” the focus was on something I considered completely nuts: buy a home, an amazing home packed with big rooms, big features, and big monthly payments, at any cost.  Affordability be damned.  I struggled as a mortgage professional during those years to try to talk sense into people.

Since it’s tax-time, the advertising from folks who want your refund checks are everywhere.  There was the TV advertisement: “Just in time for your tax refund we’ve received a new stock of bamboo flooring!”

bamboo

It occurred to me that this is the time of year when many people, especially homeowners, get large tax refunds and the sharks start circling looking to take a bite out of that refund check.  To this I say, “STOP!  Take a minute to reflect on what you should do with your money!  You worked hard for it, and you bought an affordable home so you could get that refund, don’t throw it away without giving it due consideration.”

Here are my suggestions to spend your tax refund wisely:

1. Consider investing the money for your future.  My pal Nick, the owner of the Westside Steakhouse  was at one time a stock broker.  Here’s his take on wisely using your money:: “Never spend more than you make and save some money every week.”  Awesome advice and I believe that fits very handily into my concept of the affordable home.   Especially in this day and age of doubt over pensions, we consumers must be smarter and more responsible with our planning for retirement.  Follow Nick’s advice and invest your tax refund to begin or supplement your savings plan.

The New York Times “Your Money” section featured a wonderful piece recently about a new vehicle that makes it easier for us to create a sound investment strategy without all the costly bells and whistles.  Here’s the link to that article:  Financial Advice for People Who Aren’t Rich

I have long advised my clients to consider retaining a Financial Advisor to provide counsel on all things finance-related: investing, budgeting and insurance.  You can find a local Financial Advisor in the your area here:  National Association of Personal Financial Advisors

And here is sound advice from a CPA about investing not just your refund, but investing throughout the year and the tax benefits/ramifications: Fund Your Retirement Or Your Child’s College?

2. Create an Emergency Reserve.  Take some or all of that refund check and put together your emergency reserves.  Park the money somewhere it’s inaccessible by debit card!  You’ll need ease of access, but putting it within reach of a debit card is a surefire path to disaster.  pile of cash

3. Pay down debt.  This tends to be the long held standard amongst many homeowners I’ve known over the years.  I believe this is an admirable activity, but I believe taking your tax refund to pay down debt should be part of a comprehensive plan for debt management.   To take a page out of my friend Nick’s finance playbook: don’t spend more than you earn.  I advocate tending to your credit use respectfully and as part of your total family budget every month.  This way you won’t necessarily have to take your hard won refund check and pay down a credit card balance.  Of course, if, during the year you experienced an emergency and needed to access your credit to assist with that emergency, then paying off that debt at tax time is a sound strategy since it’s a one time event.

I’ve found that Consumer Action is the best site on the ‘net for sound advice on all things credit related, including how to obtain lower credit card rates and fees and great counselling on preparing and maintaining a family budget.  Find them here: Consumer Action

 Another Smart Strategy for The Affordable Home: Take home more money in your paycheck; get a smaller refund at tax time.

I hope my suggestions are useful to you at this exciting time of year.  Of course, I also advocate that you really shouldn’t get such a large refund at tax time if you’re a homeowner.  I’ve long believed that you should incorporate into your homeowners’ “network of advisors” a great tax professional or CPA.  By doing so, you can lean on your tax professional/CPA to advise you on the correct withholding throughout the year to increase your take-home pay, reduce your end of the year tax refund (and prevent having to pay!), and enjoy the benefits of homeownership every month instead of once a year. Here’s the IRS page on how to calculate correct withholding, but I recommend you do this only under the guidance of your tax professional/CPA:  IRS Withholding Calculator

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Ask Trevor A Question

The document ‘drip’

 First Time Homebuyers  Comments Off on The document ‘drip’
Sep 242013
 

docs 1I once lost a client because he was annoyed with me for asking him to provide documents for his loan application.  He felt that my request for ALL the pages of his bank statement (he only provide page 2 of a 6 page statement),  various W2 forms and 1099 forms (he had varying income streams) and the complete contact information for his wife’s employer was “too much.”   He cancelled his loan application, and I was happy to see him go.

I believe my role as someone’s Loan Originator is to help them have a positive and tranquil experience with their Loan Application and approval process.   I believe I should use my extensive knowledge garnered from nearly 24 years in the industry to know most-all the documents an Underwriter will require in order to approve someone’s loan request.  So, I ask for a lot of documentation up front at the time of application.

Then there’s my childhood friend Bill who moved out west after retiring here in New York.

docs 3He found a house and applied for his loan.  I recommended a fantastic national mortgage banking company (I’m not Licensed in Bill’s state).  Instead, Bill chose his bank, where he’d had his money parked for many years.  A few weeks into the loan process he called me one evening ranting and raving.  It seems the bank kept calling him and asking him for more documents every day.  He said they were “papering” him to death!   We reviewed the requested documents together and I told him they were all reasonable requests. What was unreasonable was the fact his Loan Originator should have gathered these documents with the initial loan application.

As to my former client—the real estate agent who referred him to me told me after he closed how he was complaining during the many weeks it took to get his loan approved how the Loan Originator kept asking him for more and more documents every day.  The real estate agent said the guy was pretty stressed over those requests.

When you apply for your mortgage, your Loan Originator can either gather all your documents up front—the mark, IMHO, of a true and experienced PRO—or document “drip” you through to closing.docs 2

Here’s what you should be prepared to submit at Loan Application:

__Paystubs: most recent four weeks consecutive

__W-2’s: most recent two years

__Tax returns: Federal Tax returns for most recent two years including all schedules

__Bank Statements: most recent three months consecutive statements, all pages

__Other assets: proof of other cash assets: 401k, IRA, Employer Pension Plan, Retirement funds, Mutual Funds, Stock accounts: Most recent three month statement, all pages

__Photo ID

__Fully signed Purchase Agreement (Contract of Sale)

__Proof of your Earnest Money Depositdocs 4

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Ask Trevor A Question

You Need To Build Credit: Where to Begin

 All You Need To Know About Credit, First Time Homebuyers  Comments Off on You Need To Build Credit: Where to Begin
Aug 232013
 

You need to build more good credit. I recommend opening the following accounts as a way to build credit:pile of cash

  • Sunoco http://www.gosunoco.com/ways-to-save/gas-credit-cards/
  • CareCredit: available at your Dentist. http://www.carecredit.com/apply/landing.html
  • CapitalONE secured credit card http://www.capitalone.com/creditcards/mastercard-secured-credit-card/

A secured credit card works like this: you deposit with the credit card company a pre-determined amount, say, $500. This amount is your credit limit. You swipe and use the card same as a regular credit card; the secured card activity gets reported on your credit report thus building your credit history. My advice: open the account and use no more than 50% of your “limit.” Then make MINIMUM monthly payments; don’t replenish the total amount! This type of activity gets much better results on a credit report.

  • Bank Debit/Credit Card: If your bank offers a card attached to your checking account that can be used as either credit or debit, then you should use the card as credit. Check with your bank to see if they offer this type of card AND if they report the activity to the credit bureaus when you use the card as a credit instead of debit.

Visit my Useful Links page for other great websites that provide accurate and honest advice on building credit.

 

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Ask Trevor A Question

Definitions: Earnest Money Deposit or EMD

 Definitions, First Time Homebuyers, The Affordable Home, Veterans  Comments Off on Definitions: Earnest Money Deposit or EMD
Aug 192013
 

Earnest Money Deposit or EMD

When you sign a contract to purchase a home, you’ll provide an “earnest money deposit” to be held until closing in an escrow account by the attorney for the homeowner. If you are purchasing a HUD Home the EMD check is presented with your Offer by the HUD Approved Broker in the bidding process.

If you’re applying for an FHA loan, the EMD usually equals your 3.5% down payment. If you apply for other types of financing—-VA or Conventional—then your  Real Estate Agent or Attorney will guide you as to the amount requested by the Seller.

There is no “set” or required amount for the EMD, although many Sellers’ often request 10% of the purchase price. This is a matter of some negotiations between your Real Estate Agent/Attorney and the Seller’s Agent/Attorney.

For example, what if you’re closing out a CD for your entire down payment but you only have $10,000 cash on hand for the EMD today? It’s important to discuss with your Real Estate Agent/Attorney before you come in to sign the contract the amount of the EMD.

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Ask Trevor A Question

How-To Convert from “Renter” to “Homeowner”

 First Time Homebuyers, Rent Vs. Own, The Affordable Home, Veterans  Comments Off on How-To Convert from “Renter” to “Homeowner”
Aug 182013
 

Rent today; Buy tomorrow. ???????????????????????????????How to convert from Tenant to Homeowner.

When I rented my first apartment in Astoria, I did not want to be a Tenant my whole life and pay my Landlord’s mortgage. I longed to become a Homeowner.

That’s why I found my way into the mortgage business in 1989 and soon afterward became a Homeowner. Here are the fundamentals any Tenant should know to prepare to become a Homeowner in the future, no matter when that might be.

Credit: Establish 3 credit accounts, no more than 5. Pay your bills on time. Keep your balances to no more than 50% of your credit limit. Don’t pay off the accounts in full. Keep balances active for 12-24 months. All of the above will provide both a good credit score and adequate credit history to qualify for a mortgage loan.

Assets: A basic savings budget isn’t hard to accomplish. Pay your rent first in your budget; then set aside 10% of your income before taxes . Make it a budget priority and you’ll still have money left over for entertainment and restaurants and clothing.

How much money do you need to buy a home? Many buyers spend no more than $25,000 to buy their first homes. There are loan programs with low down payment requirements and many real estate agents negotiate for their Buyers a “Seller’s concession” to include the Buyer’s closing costs (which are HIGH here in New York!) in the price of the home.

???????????????????????????????

Imani got the keys to her new home with a VA Loan

 

Income: Two years consistent income is the basic requirement for either a salaried individual or a self-employed person. Income from Bonus, Commission, and Overtime is treated differently and is best discussed with your Mortgage Banker.

Market Survey: it doesn’t hurt to go out and get to know neighborhoods where you might like to buy a home. Visit open houses on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s okay that you’re not yet buying; tell the Realtor at the Open House you’re just beginning your “survey.” You’ll also get to know market prices for different kinds of homes. It’s okay to “window shop” homes on the weekend at Open Houses!

I hope these fundamentals will help you better understand the path to homeownership is a process that, with preparation and dedication, you can move through easily.

George S. converted from Renter to Homeowner!

George S. converted from Renter to Homeowner!

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Ask Trevor A Question

Experience COUNTS! Work with an experienced Mortgage Loan Originator

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Experience COUNTS! Work with an experienced Mortgage Loan Originator
Aug 172013
 

If you’re a First Time Buyer you MUST begin your search for a home with a Prequalification AND a Licensed Mortgage Loan Originator with at least 15 years experience.

Why 15 years? This is a person who worked in the mortgage business before the “Boom and Bust” years. During those toxic times all that was needed for a mortgage approval was a credit report and verification the Applicant had a heartbeat.  Access to becoming a Loan Originator was ridiculously easy and it attracted all sorts of the wrong people.  Those of us with real careers in mind often struggled to succeed competing against the amateurs.

In the “old days” of mortage lending we old-timers approved mortgage loans the same way we do now in 2013: with FULL DOCUMENTATION. That’s 2 years income tax returns and W2’s, 30 days recent paystubs and 3 months recent bank statements. It’s not enough, either, to have the documents. Those docs must be reviewed with a critical eye to anticipate obstacles to a loan approval.

For example: you took a loan against your pension two years ago. Your paystub indicates a repayment of that pension loan. If you’re qualifying for a Conventional, FannieMae type loan then the monthly payment of that loan is counted against your income much as a car payment, credit card payment or other monthly obligation. The pension loan payment is counted into the Debt-To-Income Ratio for qualifying purposes. And for some folks, they might not qualify with that payment.

The experienced Loan Originator knows about this guideline and

seeks out these stumbling blocks in the prequalification process.

What to do?

  1. Interview the Loan Originator: How long in the business? Do you focus primarily on Purchase loans or Refinance Loans? Do you review ALL required documents before you issue the Prequalification or do you simply run a credit report and ask me a few questions?
  2. Check NMLS: The National Mortgage Licensing System was created to provide professional standards for Loan Originators and to protect consumers. You can see the Licensing/Registration status of any Loan Originator on the NMLS Consumer Access website. Open up the “Self-reported Employment History” tab to verify that your Loan Originator wasn’t managing a fast food restaurant three years ago before getting into the mortgage business. http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org/
  3. Switch Loan Originators: when you called the Lender/Bank you weren’t “assigned” the Loan Originator. YES, you can switch to a different professional!

For the biggest financial decision of your life
work with an experienced professional.

I welcome Comments for all my blog entries but they must be approved.

 I will be happy to review and approve all legitimate comments provided by readers of tcurranmortgage.com. I do not permit unfettered access to comments for obvious reasons: mortgage spammers and their ilk. If you wish to Comment on any entry, please do so and I will quickly review and approve.

Thanks for reading tcurranmortgage.com.

Hope that helps!

It’s a Long Ride on a Short Sale

 Definitions, First Time Homebuyers, Veterans  Comments Off on It’s a Long Ride on a Short Sale
Aug 162013
 

Definitions: Short Sale

The definition of a short sale is when a homeowner owes more to their current mortgage lender than they can sell the house for on the open market and sells the house for the market price
after negotiating with their lender to accept less.

For example, Henrietta and John own a single family house. The balance on their current mortgage is $267,000. John lost his job and they wish to sell the house to relocate to another state for better employment opportunities. They invite local Realtors to make a “Listing Presentation” as to how much Henrietta and John’s house could sell for under current market conditions. The consensus among these Realtors is a price range of $195,000-$220,000.

Henrietta and John owe more than the house can be sold for. They retain the services of a local attorney who specializes in negotiating short sales. Their attorney then negotiates with their existing Lender to accept less than the $267,000 owed on the house and basically to accept payment based on whatever Henrietta and John can sell the house for.

The negotiating of the short sale is a complicated and difficult process. Henrietta and John’s attorney will need to present comprehensive income documentation to their Lender. The Lender will in turn conduct it’s own analysis of the value of the house and the merits of accepting Henrietta and John’s offer of less money rather than conducting a foreclosure proceeding.

Thanks to recent Federal Government initiatives, the process to negotiate a short sale has become easier. What used to take nearly a year to accomplish can now be negotiated in as little as 45 days, although the average processing time for a short sale approval is probably closer to six months.

When Henrietta and John receive the approval for their short sale, there will be some fundamental conditions in place.

1. Their Lender will receive ALL proceeds of the sale AFTER Henrietta and John have paid customary closing fees for their locale and real estate commissions and legal fees to their attorney.

2. They will not be allowed to receive any funds in their pocket.

3. Their Lender may reserve the right to obtain a “deficiency judgment” against Henrietta and John for the amount of the mortgage loan left unpaid by the approved short sale.

What does a short sale mean for a Homebuyer?

1. Be PATIENT. You may have a considerable waiting period from the time you sign a contract of sale to the point when the short sale is approved on the house you are buying.

2. Get your Mortgage Approval and MAINTAIN your financial status. Once your mortgage loan application is approved and your Lender issues a loan commitment, be sure your Income, Assets, and Credit stay the same as when you made your loan application. Because it may be some time before you close, your Lender will update your documentation used for the loan approval. If your financial situation changes, you may lose your approval altogether.

3. You can’t get Something For Nothing. Don’t think you can get a house in a short sale situation for “fire sale” prices. After all, the house didn’t get burned in a fire, the Homeowner simply owes more than current market prices will bear. If you offer substantially below the market price, chances are the Lender approving the short sale for the homeowner may counter your offer to a higher price. This is based on their independent analysis of market prices for similar homes in close proximity to the house you are buying.

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Ask Trevor A Question

Sunday Dinners

 First Time Homebuyers, The Affordable Home  Comments Off on Sunday Dinners
Aug 152013
 

Sunday Dinners

I was speaking to one of my clients yesterday. She has been shopping with her husband since January for the right house. They had two houses locked down in contract only to discover in both cases the Sellers had problems that prevented my clients from closing, even though their mortgage loans were approved.

I have learned one thing in my 23 years helping First Time Homebuyers and I shared that one thing with my client yesterday as a way to help her maintain her energy and optimism.

I told her, “Someday soon in your new house, when you are sitting down to a Sunday dinner with your family at your dining room table you will remember all the hard work, disappointment, crazy sellers, and challenges you had to overcome in order to buy your first home. You will look around that Sunday dinner table and think to yourself, ‘All that hard work was worth it.’”

It’s true: the thing I learned a long, long time ago, through my early experiences as a mortgage professional and through the challenges I faced buying my first home, the thing I learned is that all the hard work pays off. To sit down with your family to that traditional Sunday dinner in YOUR dining room in YOUR own house, oh yes, that’s when you truly reap the rewards from your hard work shopping for that house.

I encourage all of you to stick with it. You will find shopping for that home to be challenging, arduous, and filled with nail-biting anxiety. But it’s all worth it in the end.

Paying rent just isn’t worth it in the long run; 

owning something that’s yours really is worth the work.

Think of your future Sunday dinners next time you are feeling

blue about the home buying experience.

Do you have questions?  Click on ASK TREVOR and I’ll respond to any and all inquiries, even if you’re not buying a home in New York State.

Check out my Trulia profile HERE

Check out my Zillow profile HERE

Find me on TWITTER: @tcurranmortgage

Ask Trevor A Question