Aug 282013
 

Often First Time Buyers rely on family to provide extra money for the purchase of a home in the form of a Gift.

In general, before using Gift money from family, I recommend you have a discussion with the Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) who prequalified you. Depending on the Loan Program she used to qualify you, there may be restrictions on using Gift funds or there may be other requirements.

Gift funds, like all monies used in the purchase of a home, must be “sourced.” That is, your Lender will need to see the source of the Gift money from your family member. In most instances the Lender will also need to track the transfer of those funds from your family member into your bank account.

Again I caution: Speak with your MLO before using Gift monies for the purchase of a home.

A question that often comes up when Gift monies are involved is:

“What are the tax consequences of using

Gift money when buying a home?”

I’m happy to refer you to the website for my good friends at Burns & Rodriguez for professional guidance in this area from tax professionals:

http://www.brodtax.com/newsletter.php#6

 
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

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

What Is The Future of the Real Estate Market?

 First Time Homebuyers  Comments Off on What Is The Future of the Real Estate Market?
Aug 232013
 

What Is the Future of the Real Estate Market:

Buy NOW with a 30yr Fixed Rate mortgage

I recently answered a question on TRULI.com  about the future of the real estate market.  Here’s what I had to say about that:

The future of the real estate market is the past: it is CYCLICAL. As with many other markets—commodities, stocks and bonds, comic books and baseball cards—prices, values and activity go UP and they go DOWN.

If you seek to buy a home to live in and to reap the intangible benefits of homeownership, then the LAST thing you should be thinking is about market peaks and valleys. Create your “dream list” of location and features you want in a home. Get prequalified for mortgage financing so you know your limits in terms of the monthly payment for a mortgage loan. Then jump in the water, so to speak, and buy your home.

 

If, on the other hand you’re attempting to “time the market” well,

Good Luck with that.

In my nearly 24 years working in this field, I’ve seen many different “markets” come and go. But one thing has been constant: many people want to live in a home of their own. To them it doesn’t matter what the “market” is doing.

 

 

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!

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!

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
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 092010
 

There is a deliberate process to making an offer and I include here a step-by-step set of instructions on how that works. More to the point: my instructions will help you get the house you want, even if you are dealing with a difficult Seller, a Bank-Owned property, or if you are competing against another Buyer for the same house.

 

I have seen these methods work many times over with my clients over my 26 year career as a mortgage professional.

green typical residential house door in Ireland (number 5, golden lock and handle)

 

My basic methodology here is one of making your Offer a very formal proceeding. When you take these formal steps you are demonstrating to everyone involved in the transaction just how serious a Buyer you are. You will set yourself apart from the crowd. I have seen this method work time and time again for my Homebuyer clients.

 

FIVE Steps To Making An Offer:


STEP 1. Always make offers in writing. Yes, it is absolutely true that offers can be presented verbally. Don’t do that. Put your offer in writing every time. Even if you are in a situation where you and the Seller are sending counter offers back and forth, every new offer should be in writing.

When your offer is in writing, you come across to the Seller as serious. Think about it, anyone who is taking the time to go in to the real estate office and sign the form is serious about buying a home.

Put the following into your written offer:

-The amount of your “earnest money deposit” or “good faith deposit.” That is the amount of money you’ll put into escrow with the Seller’s attorney upon signing the contract of sale.

-The amount of your mortgage financing. Of course you’ll back this up with a prequalification letter, but you must include the amount of your mortgage in the offer.

-Items included in the sale. If the appliances and the chandelier in the dining room are to be included in the sale, make sure they are written in to the offer. This shows the homeowner you were paying attention when you inspected the home and asked, “What’s included in the sale?”

-Attorney Information: the name and complete contact information for your attorney.

-Anticipated contract date. Always make this date within 48 hours of your offer. Present the assumption the Seller will accept your offer and immediately forward a contract to your attorney.

Again, this demonstrates to the Seller how serious you are. You are in effect saying, “I am so serious about buying this home I want to sign the contract immediately!” Imagine how many other Buyers out there are delaying things like signing the contract (and potentially changing their minds).

-Anticipated closing date. This is an interesting point for the offer. I always recommend putting the closing date for an offer within thirty days of the contract. The fact is most closings take place within 60 days of contract, and your attorney will most likely change that date in the contract, but if your offer says “thirty days,” once again you demonstrate how serious you are about buying the home.

mind the step caution sign on a blue wall background


STEP 2. Prequalification letter.
Your mortgage professional should be available to fax a prequalification letter within hours of your making your offer; even on Saturdays or Thursday evenings.

 

STEP 3. Mortgage pro phone call. I think a phone call from your mortgage professional to the Listing Agent is a home run. When the Listing Agent hears from the mortgage person directly how eminently qualified you are, imagine how that raises your profile in the mind of the agent and the Seller!

 

STEP 4. Home Inspection ready to go. When you sign your offer, be sure to tell your Realtor that you’ve already spoken with your Home Inspector and you can have the inspection done tomorrow. Whoa, that’s really the mark of a serious Buyer!

 

STEP 5. Get ready with your counteroffer. If you offered less than the asking price, then you need be prepared with your counter offer if the Seller either declines or counters your opening offer. All of the steps above should be repeated with the new price replacing the original number. Organization and swift responses rule the day! Oh, you may not want to counter offer. That’s okay, too.

Close-up shot of keys in the lock of open door. One key is in lock another hanging on the ring

Unlock the door to homeownership with this method

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

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

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.  If you wish to Comment on any entry, please do so and I will quickly review and approve.

First-Time Buyer Tax Credit Fraud: Get $8,000, GO TO JAIL

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on First-Time Buyer Tax Credit Fraud: Get $8,000, GO TO JAIL
Sep 052009
 

The IRS is closely watching the First-Time Buyer Tax Credit program for fraud.  I’m glad they are.  I have personally heard of two situations where people have collected $8,000 under the program and they have not yet purchased homes.  In one of those instances, I was told that 3 people in one family received the credits—totalling $24,000—and they had not yet purchased a home, were planning to, and were told by their tax person that, “If you don’t buy the house by the deadline you just have to repay it.”

I can’t imagine why anyone would think a stimulus program allows receipt of the stimulus money without actually undertaking the stimulus activity: BUYING THE HOUSE!

 

Here’s an excerpt from the IRS press release and a link to the IRS site for more information:

 

“The Internal Revenue Service today announced its first successful prosecution related to fraud involving the first-time homebuyer credit and warned taxpayers to beware of this type of scheme.

On Thursday July 23, 2009, a Jacksonville, Fla.-tax preparer, James Otto Price III, pled guilty to falsely claiming the first-time homebuyer credit on a client’s federal tax return. Price faces the possibility of up to three years in jail, a fine of as much as $250,000, or both.

To date, the IRS has executed seven search warrants and currently has 24 open criminal investigations in pursuit of potential instances of fraud involving the credit. The agency has a number of sophisticated computer screening tools to quickly identify returns that may contain fraudulent claims for the first-time homebuyer credit.

‘We will vigorously pursue anyone who falsely tries to claim this or any other tax credit or deduction,’ said Eileen Mayer, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. ‘The penalties for tax fraud are steep. Taxpayers should be wary of anyone who promises to get them a big refund.'”

IRS Warns Taxpayers To Beware Of First-Time Buyer Credit Fraud

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!