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!

Can You Use a VA Loan to buy a CONDO in New York?

 First Time Homebuyers, The Affordable Home, Uncategorized, Veterans  Comments Off on Can You Use a VA Loan to buy a CONDO in New York?
Jan 172017
 

Yes it is possible to use a VA loan to purchase a condo in New York. BUT…the condo must be a VA approved condominium. If the condo is not on the list, you cannot use a VA loan to purchase the condo.

Find VA Approved Condos HERE.

Everyone wants an affordable home…but there are other considerations you must take into account when considering a Condo.

As an advocate for First Time Buyers, I always give this advice to clients who are considering purchasing a condo. First, consumers often have the mistaken impression that condos are “cheaper” or have lower monthly payments than you would have for a home purchase, say of a Single Family Home.

While this may be true on the overall price of the property, in terms of the monthly payment, a condo can often be nearly equal to that for a single family home. This is because the monthly expense for a condo is not only Principal, Interest, Insurance and property taxes (and mortgage insurance depending on the loan program if other than VA), but also the monthly expense for the Homeowners Association. This “HOA” cost can be prohibitively expensive. When I prequalify a client for a condo in NY Metro area, I use an average monthly HOA expense of $650. Obviously HOA fees vary from one condo to another, but this is a fair average cost based on my experience.

So,when factoring that $650 into a monthly housing expense, the overall monthly expense for a condo can be almost or exactly equal to that of a single family home.

Therefore, I advise first time buyers to look at the other aspects of condo living to make a determination as to whether this is a good “fit” for their home buying experience. If a condo is considered as a “starter home” experience, then I would caution a first time buyer that a single family home is probably a more reasonable property to accomplish that goal.

Other factors to consider with condos:
When real estate markets turn “down” Co-Op, Condo, and 3 & 4 Family homes tend to suffer first in the potential for resale. So, if you own one of these properties, and you MUST sell, but the market has turned south, you will face significant challenges in getting your home sold.

-Living in a condo means you will often be living “up close and personal” with your neighbors. Very much similar to living in an apartment building, even if the condos are townhome style properties.

Condo living comes along with restrictions—more often than not—on what you can and cannot do to your property.

Overall costs for a condominium can increase dramatically if the condo is poorly-managed, or if an unexpected major incident—such as a heating system failure or roof collapse—occurs and winds up costing the condo monies in excess of their “capital reserve” account. If a condo association needs to increase its capital reserve account for any reason, this means a special assessment for the individual condo owners, maybe as much as several hundred dollars a month.

I often say to first time buyers that Condo living differs from owning a single family home not in the monthly payment, but rather by asking this question: “Do you mind shoveling snow?”

BOTTOM LINE: Approach a CONDO purchase by reviewing ALL variables in the experience and don’t focus solely on cost.

Read about the Basics of VA loans HERE.

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

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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!

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

How To Buy A HUD Home

 First Time Homebuyers  Comments Off on How To Buy A HUD Home
Aug 192013
 

How to buy a HUD home

1. You must have a Prequalification letter from an FHA Approved Lender
2. You must present your bid/Offer through a HUD Registered Real Estate Broker
3. Helpful Hint: when you make your Offer, add a 2 digit number to the end of the bid price. Example: $357,019 instead of $357,000.
4. You’ll need a Cashier’s check to present with your Offer; the HUD Real Estate Broker will advise of the amount.
5. You can request a renovation loan with your Offer: ask for the 203k Streamline
6. Have a GREAT Home Inspector lined up
7. Have a GREAT real estate Attorney lined up
8. Make your bid and GOOD LUCK!

Find HUD Homes at the HUD Homestore: http://www.hudhomestore.com/Home/Index.aspx

My friends at Yahoo! Finance’s “Destination Home” Series provide a great summary on buying HUD Homes:
How To Buy A Home for $15,000

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.

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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!

Definitions: Short Sale

 Definitions, First Time Homebuyers, Veterans  Comments Off on Definitions: 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