Feb 012017
 

Closing TableDefinitions: Closing Costs in New York.

When people think of closing costs typically they think of the fees paid at the closing table. The fact is, closing costs are all fees associated with the purchase (or refinance) of a house. For our purposes in this definition, we’ll concentrate on closing costs associated with purchases in New York.

 

The bulk of closing costs are indeed paid at the closing table. These include:

• Origination fees and other miscellaneous fees (application, underwriting, document prep, etc.) paid to your mortgage lender
• Flood Certification Fee paid to independent verification of flood zone
• Title charges paid to the title company (including searches and insurance for you and for your mortgage)
• The fee paid to your attorney to represent you (you might pay a retainer fee to your Attorney in advance of the closing)      Closing Attorney
• Municipal fees paid to record your mortgage and record your deed
• Taxes or transfer fees required to be paid to your state, county, or local municipality
• Escrow deposits to create your escrow accounts for the purpose of paying your annual homeowner’s insurance renewal premiums and property tax bills when due
• Miscellaneous Fees associated with your loan application and/or closing: Title Closer “pickup” fee, Title endorsement fees, Bank Attorney, and etc.

You will pay other fees in advance of closing, too. These include:

• Home Inspection: All Homebuyers should obtain a Home Inspection report from a Certified Engineer or Home Inspection Service. This report will give you advance warning of the condition of the plumbing, heating, electrical, roofing, foundation and other structural and age-related issues for the house you wish to purchase.
• Appraisal Fee: An Appraisal determines the value of the house for the purpose of making a lending decision. Typically the appraisal fee is paid for within 5 days of the Lender sending you a Loan Estimate of Closing Costs. (Lenders are not permitted to incur any fees on your behalf such as an appraisal fee or application fee or an origination fee until 4 days after they have sent a Loan Estimate to you; you must have time to review this document and agree by signing an “Intent To Proceed” form before a fee such as an appraisal fee can be charged to you)
• Application Fee: Many Lenders charge application fees in the beginning of processing a loan application.

Preparing for Closing

Prepare for closing by reading your Closing Disclosure

• First Year Homeowner’s Insurance: When you buy your home you are required to purchase, prior to closing, the first full year of Homeowner’s Insurance for your home. You must present proof of this insurance, including a receipt indicating the insurance premium has been paid in full for one year, prior to closing your mortgage loan. If you are including escrows in your monthly mortgage payment for your insurance and property taxes (required by all Lenders for FHA Insured Mortgage Loans and most Conventional Loans), then your Lender will pay your renewal premium every year after your first year from your escrow account.

Closing Table

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!

Jan 312017
 

There are several reasons why Buyers can’t use FHA Financing for their home purchases. You would think that HomeBuyers should have the full range of loan programs options available to them when making their financing decisions.  They DO!  But Buyers are too often getting discouraged and diverted from using FHA Financing by Realtors, home Sellers, and, yes, mortgage professionals.

And many of those Buyers don’t qualify for other types of financing, which makes these reasons all the more insidious and dastardly.

REASON 1: Inexperienced FHA Appraisers. Unfortunately, the FHA program has an incorrect reputation for “difficult” appraisals, i.e., appraisals requiring lots and lots of repair items prior to closing.  I hear often from real estate agents of the terrible experiences they had with FHA loans, specifically the appraisals. Thanks to the radical changes in our mortgage business since 2010, many very experienced Appraisers left the business. This deficit was eventually filled, especially as the economy improved, by new appraisers.

These Appraisers simply don’t have the necessary understanding of FHA appraisal standards. I reviewed once such appraisal yesterday. The Buyer found me after an intensive Google search for an expert mortgage professional on FHA 203k Renovation financing. She’s been trying to buy a bank-owned foreclosure property (REO) since last July!  The Lender she was working with simply couldn’t figure out how to make the financing work with the renovation financing.  When I reviewed the documents she submitted, I realized the main problem with her file was the appraisal.

First, this was a terrible appraisal all around: Incorrect purchase price, comments skewed all over the report instead of properly situated in the addendum, crazy comments on, and use of, comparable sales, and I mean CRAZY.  Secondly, and most importantly for this poor Homebuyer, the appraiser demonstrated a crystal clear LACK of understanding of FHA “health and safety” and property condition guidelines.  This appraisal is for a property in Westchester County, an area where I often hear the objection from realtors about their bad experiences with FHA appraisals.

REASON 2: Realtors’ bad experiences.  First and foremost, let me state this radical idea: NO ONE gets to tell a Home Buyer what type of financing they can or can not use to complete a home purchase. But too often, that’s exactly what happens.

Because Realtors have had a bad experience with an FHA transaction—or worse, they’ve “heard” of people having bad experiences—they strongly discourage Home Buyers from using this option.  I have personally had Realtors tell me on the phone, “Oh, no, they can’t use an FHA loan for this house.”  No kidding!  When I inquire as to the reasons why, there ensues a litany of false information embedded in the Realtor’s mind about how the FHA program works.  I will then explain that, since I work for the Lender, and have extensive experience with FHA financing, these ideas in their heads are, ummm…WRONG!

Let’s be clear: if a Realtor, or a home Seller, by extension, has had a bad experience with an FHA loan, that does NOT prevent a Buyer from going ahead with the financing of their choice.  I mean, what if these people once had a bad experience with home buyers who showed up driving silver four-door cars?  Would they be prevented from buying the home?  Of course not because that is just absurd!  Well, so is the idea that a Buyer cannot use their preferred (or ONLY) method of financing a home purchase.

REASON 3: Inexperienced or misinformed mortgage professionals.  The answers given to home buyers by mortgage professionals range from, “Oh, you cannot buy a home with FHA financing over $417,000 with less than 10% down.” FALSE. To, “You know, FHA financing is only for people with bad credit.” FALSE. To, “That program is only for First Time Buyers.” FALSE. To the all-time doozy, “My bank does not Offer FHA financing.” From the depository lender with the HUD Eagle on the front door!

Make no mistake, the lack of understanding of the FHA program and/or lack of experience/education by these professionals is probably the biggest reason why so many Buyers have difficulty using FHA financing (and why Realtors and Sellers have so many bad experiences).

What to do?

If you are buying a home using FHA financing, let NO ONE discourage you from using the loan program.  It’s an excellent program and has been available to home buyers for more than 80 years!  And, when selecting a mortgage professional, do your background research on that person’s experience in general (HERE on the NMLS Consumer Access website by clicking “Self-Reported Employment History” on an individual’s licensing profile) and for FHA financing specifically.  GOOGLE is your friend!

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!

Jan 252017
 

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their 2016 annual report. The good news: sales of existing Single Family homes (including Condos and Co-Ops) are the best in a decade. The bad news: Inventory of homes for sale hit a record low.

I’ve experienced this low inventory trend anecdotally through my experiences working with First Time Home Buyers here in New York.  

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said, “Solid job creation throughout 2016 and exceptionally low mortgage rates translated into a good year for the housing market,he said. However, higher mortgage rates and home prices combined with record low inventory levels stunted sales in much of the country in December.”

Here’s my advice to you First Time Buyers out there:

First, you must be prepared before you hit the streets looking for homes. If there are not enough homes available, but lots of Buyers walking around competing with you for that limited supply of houses, then being well-prepared can put you ahead of the crowd. One of the best ways to beat out another Buyer when competing for a house is to have “all your ducks in a row” even if your Offering price is LOWER! I’ve seen it happen, time and time again.

Second, you must strike while the iron is hot. If you see a home which comes close to your “Wish List” for location, features and price, present your OFFER the same day! The early bird gets the worm!

With homes inventory at record low I have also seen in my travels lots of homes that have no business being on the market! Yes, there are homes out there which you actually cannot or should not buy. The reasons are many and varied but they range from unrealistic Sellers with over-priced homes and a stubborn refusal to negotiate price to bad Listing Agents who tell you that your financing package won’t work for their Seller if it’s an FHA or VA loan to homes with serious physical or legal problems (mold in the basement; ancient and leaking roof; an extension without permits/certificates; a deceased owner with improperly filed estate documents, and etc., and etc.).

If you are prepared with a solid team of professionals they will guide you away from potentially harmful or crazy deals. Which brings me back to being prepared!

I have seen it time and again when existing home inventory is low: the Buyer who is clear-eyed and prepared wins and accomplishes their goal of homeownership!

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!

How To Prepare to Become a Homeowner

 First Time Homebuyers, The Affordable Home, Uncategorized, Veterans  Comments Off on How To Prepare to Become a Homeowner
Jan 232017
 

START. No matter what your timeline for when you plan to become a Homeowner. START. Put “all your ducks in a row” as it were.
START. Now. Why? Too many Homebuyers wait until they’re actively looking for homes. Then it becomes overwhelming because of the lack of preparation.   

Think about it. You’re out on a Sunday afternoon visiting three open houses you saw advertised on Zillow. The first house is a wreck, and a bank foreclosure to boot (and that wasn’t in the advertisement!). But the second house, painted in a lovely yellow tone with the perfect fieldstone finish around the foundation, in great condition, and priced right…now this is a house worth considering!

So you want to put in an Offer. But you are not yet Prequalified for mortgage financing. (Preapproved? Prequalified? Same thing, no matter what the real estate agents tell you!). Oh, and you don’t even have an Attorney selected. Home Inspector? Who? What? WAIT…whoa…WOW…this is overwhelming!!!

START. Find a great Licensed Mortgage Loan Originator with a reputable Direct Lender. If you follow the “get pre-approved” link on Zillow, you’ll be referred to an excellent and local mortgage professional. But don’t stop there. For that mortgage professional, or any mortgage professional you come across in your research, do a little background checking…you know, like a “Private Detective!” You can verify the license of your mortgage professional at National Mortgage Licensing System Consumer Access HERE. When you’re on the site, click on “Self-reported Employment History.” If the mortgage person was managing a pizza restaurant three years ago, well, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. Remember, longevity in this business is hard to accomplish and in the doing, the mortgage pro gets better and better and…yes, experience counts!

START. Get referrals to two very important members of your home-buying team: a great Attorney who specializes ONLY in real estate and a Certified Home Inspector. Interview them; review the cost; determine if you like these pros. Put them on notice you’re not yet ready to buy, but you’ll want them at a moment’s notice once you’re out there shopping for a home.      handsome

START. Credit: let the mortgage professional tell you if your credit is sufficient for mortgage financing. I meet lots and lots of consumers who—while checking their own credit reports—decide ON THEIR OWN that their credit isn’t sufficient. Except…wait for it…you don’t work for the bank! Let the bank tell you if your credit is acceptable, or not. You’ll most likely be surprised.

START. Income: here’s the basics for qualifying for a mortgage loan. 2 years consistent employment history. We’ll use your current salary to qualify (not what you were paid before you got that big raise three months ago). Unless you get lots of overtime, or bonuses are a regular occurrence, or if you are Self-Employed, we don’t need to average your income; we’ll use the current salary. For those other income situations, your mortgage pro will do the math for you based on the different loan program guidelines (FHA has different requirements from FannieMae and different from FreddieMac). If you recently graduated college with a degree, we can use the education history (in most cases) towards the two year requirement.

START. CASH!!! Here’s the thing, even if you’re buying in New York, where the closing costs are the highest anywhere, you really can buy a home with minimal down payment. Because many loan programs allow the Seller to pay your closing costs through a “Sellers’ concession.” You’ll negotiate this into your purchase price when you make an Offer.

START. Put your team together. Review your Credit, your income, your cash. Rely on a trusted mortgage professional to tell you exactly where you stand today for a mortgage loan. Focus on monthly payment. Even if you’re not going out looking for homes until next summer, preparing for that experience is one of the smartest things you can do today in your endeavor to become a 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

Happy House Hunting!

NEGOTIATE Your Offer: Hit Them Like a Freight Train!

 First Time Homebuyers, How-To Negotiate, Uncategorized, Veterans  Comments Off on NEGOTIATE Your Offer: Hit Them Like a Freight Train!
Jan 182017
 

I have a client making an Offer tomorrow on a multi-family house in The Bronx. This client—a First Time Buyer and a Veteran of the Armed Forces using VA financing—has been working very hard to find the right house.

Three weeks ago he was moments away from signing a contract to buy a home. He had done the home inspection and there were serious concerns about the property. He presented these concerns to the Seller through the Seller’s Agent, notably, a very bad roof and a serious water and mold problem in the basement. The Seller’s response: not gonna fix it. Have a nice day. Home inspection fee of $550 out the window; in the garbage; down the drain. Not really. “Money well spent,” I told my client. “You found out for minimal cost the potential money-pit-nightmare this house could become for you. Walk away.”

And walk away he did. Yesterday he saw another house he really likes. This time, I suggested we go at the Seller like a freight train bearing down on him.

Hit ’em hard. Provide a clear and concise layout of the price and terms of your Offer. Let me, the Mortgage Banker, speak to the Realtor about how well-qualified you are and the rapid timeline for an approval and closing. Put it all in writing. Have all your “ducks in a row” with the Offer spelled out with price and closing timeline, Attorney information, date for the home inspection, and your Prequalification Letter for VA mortgage financing.

As if that isn’t enough of a speeding train on the tracks, give the Seller a deadline: just over 24 hours to respond. Present your Offer mid-day Thursday; require a response by 3pm Friday. Tell the Seller’s Realtor you have appointments to look at other houses starting Saturday morning.

WOW. FREIGHT TRAIN!

Listen, anyone, any Buyer anywhere can do this. You need two things to see this through. One, have your Prequalification letter and your “team” lined up: Attorney, Home Inspector, Mortgage professional. Two, just DO IT. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You’ll find out if the Seller is serious; if they really want to have a constructive dialogue with a Buyer; if the Realtor is a serious professional.

Line ’em up on the tracks, make your Offer, run at them like a freight train and hit ’em hard. I promise you, this method WORKS.

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!

Nov 222011
 

Wow, 27+ years as a Mortgage Banker! I have seen the occasional short appraisal! I started in November 1989 because I wanted to become a Homeowner so I chose a path which would get me there: Mortgage Professional.

Times were tough back in that market.  Interest rates were high and property values had dropped dramatically.  The employment picture for many Americans wasn’t very promising.  There were a lot of foreclosures and homeowners had a hard time refinancing their mortgages due to lost equity.  Sounds very similar to our recent post-meltdown market with the exception of the interest rates (11% in 1989!!!).

I received a valuable part of my education early on in my career as I dealt with purchase transactions where the appraisal came in for less than the purchase price.  Buyers, Sellers and their respective Realtors are all “IN IT TO WIN IT” and make the deal happen.

How you see your house!

I carry that education with me to this day when my HomeBuyer clients ask me at application time, “What happens if the appraisal comes in for less than the Purchase Price?”   I know many HomeBuyers may think it’s a NO-BRAINER: the Seller will automatically reduce the price.  But that is NOT the case right out of the gate.  Here’s what I learned all those years ago about appraisals that come in short:

How the Appraiser sees your house

When the bank appraisal comes in for less than the contract price

there are FOUR ways to proceed with the transaction.

 

  1. The Purchaser comes up with the difference in cash. If the appraisal is less than the Purchase price, the Seller basically assumes the Purchaser wishes to buy the house according to the terms of the contract, including the agreed upon Purchase Price. Therefore, the Seller assumes the Purchaser will come up with the cash necessary to complete the transaction.
  2. The Purchaser and the Seller meet in the middle. The Purchaser comes up with some cash but the Seller also agrees to reduce the price enough to meet the Purchaser somewhere “in the middle.”  Both sides want to complete the transaction and so they work it out.  This is compromise at its best.
  3. The Seller reduces the Purchase Price to equal the Appraised value. This is the least likely scenario, but not an impossible one.  Sellers often want to complete the purchase transaction on the original terms of the contract, including the price. But a determined Purchaser working with a great Realtor, by digging in and working hard to negotiate can often make it happen.
  4. Nothing happens and the deal is cancelled. The Purchaser either cannot or will not come up with the extra cash and the Seller refuses to reduce the price completely or even a little bit to meet the Purchaser.  In this case the transaction is cancelled, the Down Payment is returned, and everyone goes home unhappy.  The Purchaser has to begin all over again and the Seller has to put the house on the market and try to find a new Purchaser.

In the end, the motivations of all parties to make the deal happen and close the transaction rule the day.  Those motivations drive everyone to find a solution and get the deal closed.  Or not.

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 212009
 

I heard it again tonight from a client who’s looking to buy his first home for his family: he thought because his wife had no credit that meant she had “bad” credit.

This is NOT TRUE. False. Fallacy. Myth. Mis-Information. Incorrect assumption. Bad Medicine (oh, wait, this blog is NOT “Dances With Wolves!” Scratch that last part)

If a person has no credit that just means the person has no credit score and no established credit history that a financial institution can use to determine credit-worthiness for approving a car loan, student loan, personal loan, credit card, line of credit, checking account, car insurance, or a mortgage loan. No credit means just that: here’s a person who has no established credit history.

Bad credit means just that: BAAAAADDDDD CREDIT!!! When a finance professional reviews a credit report with bad credit we encounter such things as charge-offs, collection accounts and judgments. Maybe the person owes money to a former landlord or a utility in the form of a judgment. Maybe the person had a checking overdraft account that went unpaid and ultimately wound up with a collection agency. Maybe the person borrowed a book from the library and never returned it thus racking up late charges eventually resulting in a collection account (yes, I’ve seen it), or, MAYBE the person didn’t show up for jury duty and has a judgment for a fee incurred as a penalty for not reporting to jury duty from the County Clerk’s office (I can’t believe I capitalized that for a person that sues people for not showing up for jury duty).

All of that stuff is what you can easily see is BAD CREDIT. It’s NOT “no credit.” There’s some form of credit in there and it’s bad. And it’s on the person’s credit report.

Those other folks—like my client’s wife—who don’t have any credit appearing (whether Good, Bad, or Ugly), those folks have NO CREDIT.

There’s a difference. And with FHA mortgages, a person with NO CREDIT has a chance of building an alternative credit profile and getting approved for an FHA Insured mortgage loan.

The person with BAD CREDIT (and no other credit) has less of a chance of getting approved for such a mortgage loan. Let’s say “zero” chance, and leave it at that.

But get that idea out of your head right now about No Credit meaning “Bad” credit.

Hope that helps!

Apr 092009
 

I like to share my professional and personal experience with HomeBuyers. To that end, I created this blog four years ago. I’ve written extensively about the experience of buying a first home, especially with regards to negotiating with Sellers.

As the Spring Buying season gets underway (and it is DEFINITELY doing so as witness recent activity within my market), I thought I might Re-Post one of my blog articles about how-to make an offer to buy your first home. There is a definite process to making an offer as you will see in the article. Not only did I present information from the “old-fashioned” way of buying a home through a Realtor, but I seeded the article with much that I had learned as a mortgage professional. In my experience, this is a technique that is tried and true and it WORKS.

When Buyers ask me, “Hey Trevor, how do I get a sense what the Seller’s “real” price is?” I respond: “MAKE AN OFFER!”

When Buyers like a house but realize it needs updating, or, the house location is great for their needs but the house itself isn’t quite right, thus leading in both instances to a desire to pay substantially less than the asking price, I recommend those Buyers, too, use the Offer technique described in my article.

Too often Buyers look at homes they really like but walk away without making an offer. In New York State, until you sign a contract of sale, you can make as many offers on as many houses for whatever prices as you like without being committed to a danged thing. Use the Offering technique to get what YOU want. In today’s Buyer’s market this technique is useful to get unrealistic Sellers shaken loose from the idea that their home is still worth what it was in 2005.

Try it and you’ll find you get results when you are dealing with what I consider to be “serious” Sellers and Realtors. The method also helps you weed out unrealistic Sellers from your search for a home. It’s true, there are Sellers out there who aren’t serious. By using my offer method you discover quickly and avoid wasting your time dealing with them.

Let’s talk about Realtors for a moment. With the market in such disarray, many, many Realtors have departed the real estate business; they could not earn enough to pay their bills. They have moved on to take salaried jobs elsewhere. You would think this cleansing process would leave only serious real estate professionals, those who are earnest in their desire to adhere to professional standards and ethics. Too, you would think the part-time Realtor, the “dabbler” if you will, couldn’t possibly survive. In both cases your thinking would be wrong. I’m sorry to report that I’m still coming across situations where Buyers are working with less-than-professional-Realtors. Unfortunately, this can affect a Buyer because you don’t get the high quality of professionalism that you deserve. In a difficult market where Sellers are unsure of their course of action the results can be disastrous. The Realtor’s role is to bring Buyers and Sellers together. A seasoned professional does so ethically and with quality sales techniques. The Pro doesn’t use sales “mumbo-jumbo” instead adhering to the idea that a good salesperson listens to the needs of the customer/client and finds a way to satisfy those needs. The Seller wants the best price in a “Buyer’s Market” and the Buyer wants the home they love without over-paying. Quality Realtors make that happen.

My experience with many part-time Realtors is they don’t have the resources to find the right home for their Buyer. Neither do they have the time nor the inclination for lengthy negotiations.

Many of those “Boom-Time” Realtors who made a killing selling homes to anyone with a pulse just don’t care to understand the finer points of being a good salesperson. In an attempt to survive they are still using the methods that sold homes four years ago. For example, I had a Realtor tell one of my clients at an open house that he had “…better hurry up and make an offer because there are 3 other really good offers on the table.” WHAT!?! In this market that cannot possibly be true. That’s “Boom-Time” selling, not Buyer’s Market professionalism.

My Buyer tested the waters using my offering technique. The offer was neither accepted nor countered. We do not believe the Realtor even presented the offer to the Seller, a violation of New York State law. My client’s offer was very reasonable considering the market conditions, their seriousness as qualified homebuyers, and the fact the house needed $30,000 of updates. The Buyer used the offering technique to discern if the Seller was serious about selling the home. Clearly the Seller was not, or, as I suspect, the Seller’s Realtor was a substandard salesperson. The house is still on the market a month later. I guess the other “really good offers” just didn’t work out (if they existed at all).

My client, on the other hand, has gone on to find a superb and experienced Realtor after using my offering method to walk away from a good house with a bad situation.

Check out the article and you, too, can get the home you want at the price you want to pay. As I have often said around the internet after posting advice on one forum or another, “Hope that helps!”