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

I’m Going To Be Sick

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on I’m Going To Be Sick
Jun 072009
 

The truth comes out, and I am so disgusted by it that I literally want to vomit. I knew there were shenanigans going on back in the day—I watched my clients evaporate before my eyes when I told them they could get a 30yr Fixed Rate loan if they only purchased a cheaper home. Those clients went elsewhere for their mortgage financing, preferring to “drink the koolaid” with mortgage “professionals” peddling loans that were affordable for about the first fifteen minutes after closing.

As much as the “boom” was great for lots of people in the mortgage business, I watched my originations decrease. I made less money. I started writing tcurranmortgage.com as a way to maybe, possibly, sorta-kinda, hold on to clients by demonstrating more about who I was as an originator and how I really had their best interests in mind. I guess I had some vague hope that the clients would read my blog, come to realize they were being bamboozled by the “other mortgage person” and stick with me. They didn’t. (It’s okay, I sleep very well at night)

Little did I realize then—I guess I am that naive—the kinds of officially sanctioned shenanigans going on at companies like Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Read more about it in today’s NYTimes.com article linked HERE.

You might want to be sick while you read.

Excuse me…I think I’m going to be ill…

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!!!

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Mortgage Modification Murder: Homeowner Beware!!!
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!

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!

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!”

The Miracle Rehabilitation Loan known as the FHA 203k Loan

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on The Miracle Rehabilitation Loan known as the FHA 203k Loan
Apr 022009
 

So many Buyers today are eager to purchase homes at below market prices. Often these homes are in need of serious repairs or improvements to update the property. The 203k Program handily meets the needs of Buyers today. I personally have originated and closed dozens of these loans back
in the early 1990’s in Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant under President Clinton’s Inner City Rehabilitation Initiative. Often we were financing a complete gut renovation of an abandoned Single Room Occupancy (SRO) residence. The Buyers usually paid a price around $50,000 and I would find FHA 203k Financing in the range of $250,000 to cover the purchase and the renovations. Under the provisions of the rehabilitation, the Buyer of such an SRO would convert the Certificate of Occupancy from rooming house to legal 2, 3 or even 4 Family home. The 203k allowed for just such a change and the costs involved, including Architectural fees, Plans and Permits, not to mention the construction costs.

Toay this miracle program allows a Buyer to purchase a home and obtain the monies for repairs or home improvements all rolled into a single loan with a SINGLE monthly FIXED RATE payment. The repairs can cost as little as $5,000 or can run as high as necessary to gut-rehab a home. The limit on
the repair monies that can be included in the loan is the Loan-To-Value (LTV) Limit based on statutory FHA Loan Limits in your area (see below). And this LTV percentage is calculated based on the value of the house AFTER improvements.

The 203k program even has a provision allowing the Buyer to request that up to 6 months worth of mortgage payments be included in the loan so they don’t have to pay two monthly housing
expenses—rent and mortgage—while the house is under construction.

With more and more bank-owned “REO” properties offered for sale, Buyers will need the 203k
Program more than ever before.

203k Interest rates run higher than market, usually about 1% higher, but this is still an ideal program to help Buyers achieve their goals of homeownership while simultaneously updating or renovating a home for the lowest possible cost.

Highlights of the 203k Program:

>Buyer can obtain the cash needed to conduct improvements on a home
purchase folded into the same mortgage loan needed to purchase the house.

>Borrower must qualify according to regular FHA Underwriting criteria with regards to Income, Assets and Credit.

>The Program is only open to Owner-Occupants; no investors permitted. BUT you do NOT have to be First-Time Homebuyer.

>No Income Limits; no minimum income requirements. No geographic limitations, with the exception that the property is here in the good ol’ USA!

Purchase + Improvements = ONE Mortgage and ONE Monthly Payment

Current FHA LOAN LIMITS under the 2009 Stimulus Bill for the New York Metropolitan Region:

1Fam: $729,750

2Fam: $934,200

3Fam: $1,129,250

4Fam: $1,403,400

FHA Basics:

* No Reserves on 1 and 2 Family homes (but it helps!)
* 3 Months Reserves required on 3 and 4 Family homes
* 3.5% Downpayment
* 6% Seller’s Concession
* Credit Scores down to 620 (down to 580 with some Lenders)

There you have a good fundamental look at the miracle program known as FHA 203k.

Jan 292009
 

Since the FHA Insurance program is pretty much the only way to get a mortgage these days, I’d like to caution you against working with any mortgage professional that is not approved by HUD to originate FHA Insured Loans.

The process of obtaining such an approval is difficult and expensive. When a mortgage broker is approved, the office receives what is known as a “Mini-Eagle.” The Mini-Eagle is the permission from HUD to originate FHA loans. A Direct Lender, approved by HUD, has a Full-Eagle.

As we become more and more aware of the excessive lengths some unscrupulous mortgage people will go to in order to make money without paying any attention to legalities, ethics, or professional conduct, we need also understand these same lowlifes will try to jump on any bandwagon in order to make a buck.

Fact is the regulation is in place to prevent anyone from jumping on the FHA bandwagon. That regulation is the Mini-Eagle and Full-Eagle.

FHA does allow in certain instances a Non-FHA Approved mortgage broker to recommend a client to a Full-Eagle Lender and to act as a consultant for the client. This permission is limited to consulting and the fee is limited as to how much the consultant can earn. The consultant is paid by you, the client. Consultant means exactly that: advice, counseling and consulting. The Non-FHA approved mortgage professional cannot originate the loan, cannot write the loan application or become involved in any aspect of the process for loan approval. For that you will work directly with the Lender.

Think of the Non-FHA approved mortgage person as a facilitator who connects you with a Lender, is available to answer your questions and offer advice on the program, but cannot do anything more than that.

Beware of the mortgage people walking around saying, “I can do FHA loans.” More often than not these lowlifes are not FHA approved and they plan on convincing you to doing a loan application with them for an FHA loan. “I’ll find an FHA Lender for you. Sign here.” This is ILLEGAL.

Further, this consultant doesn’t have any real standing in terms of accessing information about FHA products or interacting with the Lender to get your loan processed timely for an approval.

Why should you pay one of these people when you can easily find and work with an approved and experienced FHA mortgage professional?

These folks are just trying to take your money by joining in the current mortgage market opportunity without making the proper professional investment (in time and money) to obtain the proper licensing.

Work only with an FHA approved mortgage broker with a Mini-Eagle or an FHA approved Lender with a Full Eagle. You can find listings of both types of Mortgage Company in your area by visiting www.fha.gov and entering your zip code.

Why You Need To Look At Your 401k Statement

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Why You Need To Look At Your 401k Statement
Jan 252009
 

Mortgage Loans are difficult to obtain these days.  Underwriters at Banks are about the craziest I have ever seen in 20 years as a mortgage professional.  Arguments over the interpretation of an underwriting guideline—the kind I used to win back in the 90’s—are frequently Cold-War-style standoffs: there is no clear winner, you see it your way, and I see it mine.

Folks think Underwriting a mortgage loan application is some kind of objective exercise.  It’s not.  Underwriters are human and they are subject to the same day in and day out challenges all the rest of us humans face, with one difference.  If the Underwriter is having a bad day, or, in our current market, a BAD YEAR, that Underwriter is making obtaining a loan approval an impossible endeavor.

As a mortgage originator, I have to “pre-underwrite” each and every client’s situation.  I have learned to “roll with the punches” as it were to find strengths in any given loan application and help my client get the loan approval for the home they wish to buy or refinance.  I’m watching how Underwriters are reacting to market conditions or the directives they are receiving from their bank employers (too often confused and muddled) to gauge the best path to loan approval for my clients.

Thus I look for every little bit of ammunition I can find in order to fight the good fight when I’m prequalifying a client.

One nice bit of artillery is the ubiquitous 401k or retirement account.  Underwriters like “reserves” on a loan application.  Reserves is the money you have left over after closing on a mortgage loan; it’s the money you didn’t spend on downpayment and closing costs.  In the event you experience some life catastrophe in the future, like a job loss, you can use the reserves to pay your mortgage every month while recovering from said catastrophe (finding another job).

Reserves are required for two months’ worth of mortgage payments for Conventional (Non-Government) financing. The FHA does not require reserves for 1 or 2 family home financing; 3 and 4 family homes require 3 months’ reserves. Those are the guidelines, but let’s talk about getting your loan approved during the toughest mortgage underwriting era I’ve ever seen. Reserves count a lot; the more you have, the higher the probability of a loan approval, especially if your application is weak in any of the other areas of loan underwriting (IAC, or Income, Assets, Credit).

Often, my clients come to me for prequalification with their standard documentation in hand: paystubs, Tax returns, bank statements.  I always request but never seem to encounter proof of any retirement accounts, like 401k statements.  And when I ask my clients, “Okay, you don’t have the statement with you, but how much is in your account right now?”  I am often met with blank stares.

Folks just don’t know. Considering how much money they may have lost in those retirement accounts in recent months, they don’t want to know.

I understand a lot of us don’t want to face the bad news of dwindling retirement funds due to markets falling and investments failing.  But you need to open up that 401k statement if you’re planning on applying for a mortgage.  Those monies, eviscerated by market forces though they may be, can be very useful on a loan application.

In fact, I’d be so bold as to say that right now, one of the prime methods to getting a mortgage loan approval is proving you have reserves.  So get out those statements this chilly Sunday afternoon and face the music. Put your 401k statment together with your other documents you’ll need for the loan application.  Doing so might be the difference between getting a mortgage approval, or not.

FHA: Mortgage Solution for 2009

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on FHA: Mortgage Solution for 2009
Jan 222009
 

When I started in the mortgage business in 1989 I was introduced to the FHA Insured mortgage loan. As a Mortgage Banker, the loans I made were typically FHA as this had long been the province of mortgage bankers in general.

During the Sub-Prime “Boom” I found myself often confronted with clients who, in my professional opinion, were prime candidates for FHA financing. The problem with the boom times and FHA was simple: there is a limit to FHA loan amounts, and during the boom, those limits were far below what was needed in the marketplace. FHA loan limits had not kept up with market price advances.

Now, the FHA limit here in the NY Metro region is $625,500 for a single family home. This is something we can work with.

The FHA loan program was created in 1934 during The Great Depression as part of the New Deal. The concept was simple: turn a nation of renters into a nation of homeowners. At the time, 70% of the United States population rented. The FHA program was created to make it easy for families to acquire their own homes. To this end, the FHA was spectacularly successful.

I like that there is so much rich American history associated with the FHA. I have always loved helping my clients obtain their dreams of homeownership with the FHA program. And I am thrilled that during these terrible economic times the FHA has once again come to the forefront to create possibilities of homeownership. I say this often these days, “The FHA is the ONLY game in town.”

And I like that.

I’ll write more about FHA, in the meantime, visit FHA’s website for more information about this wonderful loan program.