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!

It’s Not Enough: 6 Months Reserves

 First Time Homebuyers  Comments Off on It’s Not Enough: 6 Months Reserves
Aug 272013
 

I’ve noticed a trend on the ‘net over the past two years or so where lots of folks advocate buying a home ONLY when you:

  • Have 20% Down payment
  • Have the cash for your closing costs (here in New York 4.5%-5% of purchase price!)
  • Have 6 to 12 months monthly budget in reserves

 

6-12 months reserves is NOT enough.

Look at the recent recession: many, many, MANY Americans were out of of work for several YEARS. Lots of folks tapped into their savings and retirement accounts to survive; lots of others lost their homes altogether. Clearly, having ONE Year in reserves wasn’t enough.

 

Granted, this recession was more severe than those in recent memory, but do you really believe 6 to 12 months reserves is enough?

 

I can understand a more conservative mindset; it’s a natural reaction to the excesses of the “Boom and Bust.”  Believe me, I really do understand because I lived and worked through that debacle.  I still cannot believe people’s behavior in those days.  Lunatic is a good way to describe it.  From the Account Rep’s at the Sub-Prime Lenders to the amateur real estate agents and loan officers to the barely qualified consumers who simply wanted “MORE” I’m still shaking my head to this day.

 

And so we’re left with a new consumer mentality that, when it comes to buying a home, you should almost pay cash for the house, never mind the mortgage loan.

 

I applaud such an attitude.  

The shame is it’s not based in reality.

Even were one to eliminate all unnecessary debt, never dine out, never rent a movie, brown bag your lunch, hand wash your business clothing, commute on public transportation, take a second (and maybe a third) job, the REALITY is that—for most folks—it would take years and years, not to mention incredible discipline, to achieve this perfect home-buying nirvana.

 

Again to the reserves.  Most definitely a commendable behavior.  Maybe worth postponing the purchase of a home and tightening up a family budget to aspire to this noble goal.   But many families want a backyard for their kids to play in today.   Many other folks are well and truly tired of paying rent to complacent landlords.

 

For those folks, there’s a mortgage loan and

the option to purchase a home sooner rather than later

with the available means.

 

Commendable though it may be, saving oodles of cash to put 20% down, pay all your own closing costs and be left with many months of emergency reserves just isn’t practical for many people.  And it doesn’t help those same folks achieve the goal of home ownership.

 

 
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

Delinquent FHA Mortgages: DOWN!

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Mar 242010
 

The Federal Housing Administration reports that delinquencies on FHA Insured mortgage loans are down.

Many in Congress are worried that the Federal Housing Administration will fail in its attempt to save, bolster and support the crashing housing market. Too many pessimists—and those without a thorough understanding of the longevity of the FHA and it’s ability to weather previous storms—see a future taxpayer bailout of the vaunted agency.

At the end of 2009 and into 2010, HUD (which oversees FHA) took some serious steps towards reigning in potentially damaging loans and Lenders. FHA closed the door on many Lenders who abused the FHA system and subsequently had high default rates. FHA proposed important changes to manage risk on its package of insured loans, including the appointment of a Risk Manager, the increase of the Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (which goes into effect April 5th, 2010), and other important changes to the program to protect the viability of FHA to continue to insure mortgage loans for Americans.

It’s not often you see immediate effects from policy changes in an organization as large as HUD, but there it is: FHA statistics report a reduction in delinquencies of FHA Insured mortgage loans. This change is not very large by the standards of current originations, but it’s certainly a good start.

I’ve been originating FHA Insured mortgages since the day I started in the mortgage business in 1989. I have always believed the FHA truly fulfilled its original Congressional mandate from 1934 to make it easier for Americans to become homeowners. I have helped so many families over the years with FHA Insured loans. I’m thrilled to hear this very positive news in a time when good news about anything housing or mortgage related is a rare thing indeed.

I’m still originating today mostly FHA loans as it seems to be the only way most families in the New York Metro region can manage to qualify to buy a home. I have full faith and confidence in the ability of HUD to maintain its potential to insure mortgage loans.

FHA in the New York Times

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on FHA in the New York Times
Jul 012009
 

I attended the grand opening of the Hamilton Lofts development in Harlem last week.  The developer and sponsor of this brand new condominium project, Romy Goldman, has done an exceptional job: the finishes, the thoughtfulness and attention to every detail are very impressive.  More impressive still is Romy’s understanding of the nuances of financing for her potential buyers, especially with regards to FHA Insured Financing.   She had the condominium approved by HUD to allow her potential Buyers to purchase using the FHA program.   On the entire island of Manhattan there were only 7 other approved condominiums for FHA financing.   Romy was definitely ahead of the curve: her project is the eighth approved condo in Manhattan.

 

The New York Times presented a brief piece about FHA this past Sunday; they interviewed Romy Goldman and included her thoughts on FHA in the article.

My favorite quote from the article, “According to Meg Burns, the F.H.A.’s director of single-family program development, these loans actually perform very well. “That’s kind of a shock to most people because we serve borrowers with riskier profiles,” she said. “But we have pretty stringent underwriting standards. You have to have sufficient verifiable income and employment to make your mortgage payments.” YAY FHA!!!

 

Here’s the article: FHA Loans Help Sales

Jun 202009
 

Today’s NYTimes.com features an article about that particularly New England home, the triple-decker. These are lovely homes from the 1890’s built to house the influx of immigrants from Europe. These homes were a wonderful alternative to the tenement housing of the time. In the ensuing years, triple-deckers have come to describe the character of a neighborhood, whether in Boston or New Bedford. Dennis Lehane, author of “Mystic” featured these homes much like characters in his book (and in the subsequent film directed by Clint Eastwood).

My wife lived in one for a time when she lived in the Boston area and has fond memories of her time living in a triple-decker.

Today’s NYTimes reports of the foreclosure blight affecting this beloved New England icon.

I have a suggestion for any of you first time buyer folks living in a town with triple-deckers: go out and buy your first home—a triple-decker—and use the FHA 203k Rehabilitation Loan to do so. NYTimes reports there are many foreclosures selling far below market. This is the ideal opportunity to purchase a first home at a considerable discount and obtain the money necessary to renovate that home to your specifications. As the article points out, triple-deckers have long been the domain of first time buyers looking for an affordable option for homeownership: the rental of the other two apartments helped homeowners offset their monthly mortgage payments.

The FHA 203k Loan is a program wherein the Lender provides you with the money to purchase the home (acquisition) combined with the money to improve the home (construction) in one closing and with a single 30year fixed mortgage payment. I am an expert in this program having originated many such loans in Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant in the early-mid 1990’s under President Clinton’s initiative to rehabilitate inner cities using the FHA 203k program. We encountered a similar experience then in those communities that New Englanders now face with these triple-deckers: historic brownstones, multiple families of 3 and 4 family properties, were in need of serious rehabilitation and presented first time buyers with an excellent opportunity.

With this program, you make your 3.5% downpayment off the purchase price of the home. You present to the Lender your plans for renovating the property. These plans are prepared in consultation with your contractor and an independent FHA Certified Consultant. The Lender uses your proposed improvements both to appraise the house at “future value” after improvements and to make the final loan decision. Minimum repairs are $5,000 with most Lenders. A feature of the program allows you to include up to 6 months’ worth of mortgage payments in the loan so you don’t have to worry about paying rent on your current apartment and a mortgage on your new home while your contractor completes the renovations.

The Seller of the home receives her money (your 3.5% downpayment and the Lender’s portion of the acquisition loan) at the closing table and you receive title. Your repair money is placed in an escrow account upon closing of title: your contractor receives the go-ahead to begin work with the renovation money available in up to 5 “draws” or payouts depending on the amount of construction/renovation.

FHA Loans are only available for Owner-Occupants; Investors are not permitted. You don’t have to be a first time buyer to qualify, either.

FHA Loans require you qualify based on your income, assets, and credit, although the criteria are much more flexible with most FHA Lenders than with Conventional loan programs. There are no income limitations; the program is available to all American Citizens, Permanent Resident Aliens, and even Aliens working with Authorization from the U.S. Government. FHA is an insurance program so you’ll be paying two insurance premiums (one Upfront at closing, financed in the loan for thirty years, the other built into your monthly payment), and you must pay those premiums regardless of the size of your downpayment (even if it’s more than 20% down).

You can find an FHA Lender in your area at the FHA Website along with more information on the FHA program. If you live in a New England town or city where there are triple-decker homes in need of your love and attention, and you want to get a great deal on your first home, I strongly recommend you consider this financing option to help you make that dream come true. You’ll be doing something good for you, and for the historic quality of New England, too.

Hope that helps!

Apr 252009
 

Recent conversations with First Time Buyers have revealed a refreshing attitude amongst today’s home buyers: affordability. People don’t want to get in over their heads with a mortgage payment they can’t afford. I really like that. I have advocated exactly that concept with my clients for my entire career: buy a home you can afford.

During The Boom my words of advice in this regard fell on deaf ears. I would do then as I do now: calculate the mortgage payment and ask the client if this number fits the family budget. In other words, “Can you afford this?” Too often the answer would be “Yes” when I truly knew it should be a “No.” I tried to tell these folks to buy a cheaper house, buy a home they could afford so as not to lead to trouble down the line. I walked away from many of those situations because I just couldn’t reconcile the math and I wouldn’t be a party to a future financial disaster. I knew full well, as I left the room, that another mortgage “professional” would sit down with those clients and tell them what they wanted to hear, give them a truly bad mortgage, collect his commission check, and march off into the sunset leaving this family with a ticking time bomb.

I sat last night with a young couple shopping for a 2 family home. They make an excellent income and have excellent credit. They’re working with not a whole lot of cash (for New York) and so we’ve qualified them for an FHA Insured mortgage loan. They had an expression, “Use a blanket that’s big enough.” In other words, buy a home you can afford. It’s truly all about the monthly payment. If you can’t reconcile that number with your family’s budget, you’re either not ready to buy, or you should look for a less expensive home.

Even though this couple could afford a pretty hefty mortgage payment based on their income, they insist on shopping for a house that allows for a mortgage payment that leaves “breathing room” in their budget. This is good, sober thinking.

When you buy a home, you’re reaching for the stars to make the dream of homeownership come true. But reaching for the stars doesn’t mean you have to launch yourself into orbit. You can make that dream come true with an affordable mortgage payment if you are honest with yourself and realize that you really need to a “blanket that’s big enough.”

Makes sense to me, a blanket that’s big enough keeps you warm at night.

I welcome Comments for all my blog entries. 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!

Mortgage Modification Murder: Homeowner Beware!!!

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Apr 232009
 

I received a call yesterday at our office from a homeowner in Virginia. He was looking for some kind of FHA mortgage modification company and found us instead in his Google Search. Our company is not licensed in Virginia; neither do we do mortgage modifications. We just do plain old-fashioned mortgage originations, helping people buy homes and doing some refinance work, too.

I spent a few minutes with this gentleman on the phone cautioning him against mortgage modification fraudsters. I told him about the many scams being perpetrated by modification companies seeking to take money from unwitting homeowners while delivering zero satisfaction or assistance. I pointed him instead to the HUD.gov website to seek out a mortgage counsellor who might better assist him with his dilemma. I told him, too, that an attorney was probably his best option.

One of our Loan Officers told us of a man he met who is losing his home to foreclosure. A little over a year ago this man had a perfect mortgage payment history. For whatever reason, he decided he needed to modify his mortgage. He hired one of these mortgage modification murderers and paid thousands of dollars in fees to the fraudster. The crooked scam-artist told the man to stop paying his mortgage; upon the advice of his paid-professional-mortgage-modification-expert, the man did indeed cease paying his mortgage.

There was no modification; no call was ever made the the Lender to negotiate on the homeowner’s behalf. Money was stolen from this man and his family; now they are losing their home to foreclosure. The lowlife scam artist has committed, IMHO, financial “murder.” The crook has taken not only this man’s hard-earned cash, but caused the loss of a home and a substantial financial asset. Disgusting.

Homeowners beware. Too many of you who I speak to or hear of are doing exactly what too many of you did during the boom years: you’re following a dangerous path, ignoring the advice of seasoned professionals, and you’re allowing yourselves to be duped out of your homes the same way many of you allowed yourselves to be duped into bad mortgage loans.

If you feel you need help modifying your mortgage, contact your Lender directly. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, TRY again. If you don’t have the time for that because you are busy working hard to pay your mortgage and your bills, then hire an attorney. Pay your attorney a retainer fee and let a licensed legal professional work on your behalf. If you don’t have an attorney, get a referral from family or friends, or consult your local bar association. You can find local help here, on the American Bar Association website.

President Obama and Congress have provided Homeowners with an opportunity to refinance or modify as part of the 2009 Stimulus Package. Find United States Government help here: Making Home Affordable.

A list of HUD Approved mortgage counsellors can be found here: Foreclosure Avoidance Counselling

I welcome Comments for all my blog entries. 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!

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!

They’re BACK. Mortgage Losers/Thieves/Lowlifes Return To the Industry

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on They’re BACK. Mortgage Losers/Thieves/Lowlifes Return To the Industry
Apr 182009
 

We’re seeing it. All those mortgage losers who put this industry and the economy in the toilet are returning to prey on consumers once again. They’re returning because opportunities abound to separate hard-working homeowners and homebuyers from their money.

We’re hearing of people getting back into the mortgage business after the long cold “winter” of 2007-2009 when business was hard to come by and only the brave and the bold stuck it out to continue hard-earned careers. These mortgage-professional-wannabees are coming back because low interest rates and a newfound sense of optimism are bringing buyers back and opening up homeowners’ minds to the idea of refinancing.

The Associated Press reported of a warning from Senator Charles Schumer about these mortgage losers. The Senator it seems is also aware of the return of these crooks looking to ripoff consumers. Read more HERE

More than ever when shopping for a mortgage the words “Buyer Beware” ring true. Look for those mortgage professionals with substantial experience and preferably those who you find through a referral from a friend or family member, or your tax professional or attorney. Searching the internet for a mortgage professional is, IMHO, a recipe for disaster. You’re likely to come across many alleged experts who only want to tell you what you want to hear just to get your business. Once they get you to the closing table, everything changes and you can watch your money evaporate from your wallet.

I’ve recently cautioned against working with non-FHA approved mortgage people. These are yet another class of mortgage lowlife who pretend they are allowed to originate FHA loans. Worse, they pretend to know “all about” FHA loans. I just spoke on the phone while writing this blog entry with a young man who told me how he encountered many such people who claimed they could approve him for an FHA loan on a Co-Op apartment purchase. He told me they all seemed very happy to want to separate him from his money for application fees and the like. He contacted me to ask about getting an FHA loan for a Co-Op. He seemed to know already that such a loan was not available, but thought it’s because FHA doesn’t insure Co-Op loans. In fact, FHA DOES indeed insure Co-Op loans (FHA is an insurance program; FHA doesn’t make the loan, they insure the Lender’s loan in the event of foreclosure). I explained this fact to him. The problem with FHA and Co-Op loans is there are no Lenders who provide such financing.

No conversation about mortgage lowlifes would be complete without a mention of those poor homeowners trying to do a loan modification. As I mentioned recently, there are many scams out there with alleged “loan modification experts” very willing to take thousands of dollars in fees from distressed homeowners while providing absolutely nothing in return: no modification, no saving of the house, nothing, nada, zilch. Many of these crooks are, in my opinion, former mortgage losers who have changed their crime tactics from putting unsuspecting people into terrible sub-prime loans. Now they seek to steal your money—and your home—by pretending to counsel you on modifying your loan. BUYER BEWARE.

If you truly feel you wish to modify your loan contact an attorney. Or do it yourself.

On a sidenote, I attended a job fair yesterday seeking to recruit salespeople for the company where I work. I met the recruiters from the FBI and asked them to please, “…hire more people today and arrest more mortgage brokers.” They laughed and asked what I do. “I’m a mortgage broker!” I replied. “Please, I’m serious,” I continued, “these people have destroyed my industry, please hire some good people today and go out and arrest more mortgage brokers.”

Postscript: To the young man who called for advice on FHA and the Co-Op loan: Thank you for your kind compliment about tcurranmortgage.com and thank you for stopping by to read my rantings!!!


I welcome Comments for all my blog entries. 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!

Erica’s Mom is Harrassing Her to Buy A House!

 First Time Homebuyers  Comments Off on Erica’s Mom is Harrassing Her to Buy A House!
Apr 142009
 

I met with Erica this evening to prequalify her for a mortgage for a 2 family house she wants to buy in the Bronx. I gave my usual “tcurranmortgage” mini-homebuyer-seminar, not knowing when to shut up and stop talking (that’s why Gary set up this blog when he built my website four years ago; he knows me too well!) as usual.

Near to the end of our visit, I mentioned to Erica that Uncle Sam was going to send her a check for $8,000 for buying her first home this year. Erica responded by telling us, “Yes, I know. My Mom is harrassing me to buy a house. She keeps telling me I have to get this $8,000 and I have to close this year!”

WOW.

YAY to Erica’s Mom! YAY to President Obama and his 2009 Stimulus Package and the $8,000 Refundable Tax Credit!

Just FYI: the tax credit is a truly refundable credit of either $8,000 or 10% of the purchase price of the house (whichever is lower; in NY, that’s going to be the 8k!!!). You don’t have to wait until 2010 to get the cash in your wallet. You can file an amendment to your 2008 tax return and get the money this year. There are restrictions, so be sure to check out the IRS website HERE to verify. You can even download the appropriate filing schedule to bring to your tax professional to file the amendment. Get to it so you can heed Erica’s Mom’s haranguing: GO GET THE MONEY!!!

Thanks Erica for the inspiration for tonight’s blog.