Key Points for VA Loans

veterans 1More Veterans are using their Veterans Benefits to buy homes today with VA Loans.  The problem many of them encounter is this: Mortgage Loan Originators (MLO) don’t have sufficient experience with VA Loans.  This can make for some troublesome times when a Veteran is buying a home.  You definitely want to work with an experienced MLO, someone with at least 15 years experience.   Take some time when shopping for your VA Loan to interview the MLO before you make a decision.

Some key points for you to know when you interview a Licensed Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) for your VA Loan:

VA Funding Fee is 2.15% of the Loan Amount (and is always financed) for Active Duty Veterans with at least 180 Days active duty. No Funding Fee for Disabled Veterans.

The Funding Fee is different for other service types/periods, including Reservists.

A Veteran can finance 100% of the purchase price of the home.modern home 191

A Seller can pay all of a Veteran’s Closing Costs, and more.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about VA Loans and your MLO will need to be available to explain and reassure the Seller and the real estate agents of the VA process. For example, many Sellers and/or real estate agents believe that VA Loans take “a LONG TIME” to approve and close. Not true. (My average closing time on VA loans is about 6-8 weeks compared to 3-4 weeks for FHA). They also believe that VA Appraisals ALWAYS slash the value of the house. Not true. I’ve only seen one VA Appraisal come in slightly less than purchase price in the last couple of years, and, in that case, both the Listing Agent and I suspected the value might be tight before. Bottom Line: your MLO has to have clear communication to make it easier for you to negotiate with Sellers when competing against other Buyers with different financing terms.

If your MLO asks you for your DD-214 right away, then you know you’re dealing with someone with experience. You don’t need the Certificate of Eligibility or COE as we MLO’s can obtain that directly from VA on your behalf.

thank you veteransFor a New York Purchase you’ll need some cash for your “Good Faith Deposit” when you sign the contract of sale. It’s the rare Seller who will sign a contract with a Buyer who doesn’t at least put $10,000 on the contract (refundable to the Veteran at closing due to the 100% financing). Not that it’s impossible (I’m working with 3 Veterans right now who have less than $5,000 to put down), but it will require serious negotiating on the part of your MLO, real estate agent, and Attorney.

VA Condos: few and far between because the VA just doesn’t approve enough Condos, so focus on Single Family Homes. Find VA Approved Condos

Two Family Homes: unless you have experience in property management (and can prove it), you’ll have to qualify with your own INCOME for the purchase; rental income will be excluded from the qualifications.

You’ll need a Termite Report but YOU CANNOT PAY FOR IT, the Seller must pay.

We qualify Veterans’ Income two ways: a percentage of monthly gross income, or “Debt to Income Ratio” AND a residual income method which is similar to doing a family budget, so it’s a pretty cool way to qualify you. idyll

 

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

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

Definitions: Earnest Money Deposit or EMD

Earnest Money Deposit or EMD

When you sign a contract to purchase a home, you’ll provide an “earnest money deposit” to be held until closing in an escrow account by the attorney for the homeowner. If you are purchasing a HUD Home the EMD check is presented with your Offer by the HUD Approved Broker in the bidding process.

If you’re applying for an FHA loan, the EMD usually equals your 3.5% down payment. If you apply for other types of financing—-VA or Conventional—then your  Real Estate Agent or Attorney will guide you as to the amount requested by the Seller.

There is no “set” or required amount for the EMD, although many Sellers’ often request 10% of the purchase price. This is a matter of some negotiations between your Real Estate Agent/Attorney and the Seller’s Agent/Attorney.

For example, what if you’re closing out a CD for your entire down payment but you only have $10,000 cash on hand for the EMD today? It’s important to discuss with your Real Estate Agent/Attorney before you come in to sign the contract the amount of the EMD.

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

Make an OFFER NOW

When negotiating on the purchase of your first home, I strongly advocate making an Offer as quickly as possible. Strike while the iron is hot!

When negotiating on the purchase of your first home, I strongly advocate making an Offer as quickly as possible.  Strike while the iron is hot!

 

I mean that you should make an Offer when you first visit

a home that meets the two following conditions:

 

  • Comes close to your “Wish List.”   The “dream home” exists only in our minds.  Smart first time buyers who search for a home by first creating a comprehensive wish list—and writing it down for constant review as you house hunt—can make a prompt decision on any given home.  When a home hits most of the points on your list, it’s time to make an Offer.

 

  • Matches Your Affordability Level.  I assume you have been properly prequalified by an experienced mortgage loan originator.  By knowing your “numbers” you’ll know when a given home matches your level of affordability for a monthly payment.  It’s all about monthly payment.  When a home matches what you can afford monthly, it’s time to make an Offer.

 

Make an Offer NOW; don’t go home and think about it! 

Too many first time Buyers do that and they wind up losing

out on a great house because of their tardiness. 

 

Here in New York you are not committed to the transaction at the Offer-stage; not until you sign a contract of sale with your Attorney (usually about a week later) are you prevented from changing your mind.  If you’re not in New York, check with your local Realtors and/or real estate Attorneys to see what you’re committed to at the point you make an Offer.

 

 

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!

Appraisal came in SHORT. WHAT NOW?

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.

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!

Weekend House Hunting

Spend a few minutes with your Saturday morning coffee and tcurranmortgage.com preparing to visit Open Houses, FSBO’s and real estate offices.

I know it’s cold outside, but the weather this weekend is shaping up to be incredibly mild in comparison to our very nasty winter so far, you might even say this weekend will be “Spring-like!”

Thus a good weekend to get out there House Hunting!

Here then some links to previous posts First Time Buyers need before hitting the streets looking for a home. Spend a few minutes with your Saturday morning coffee and tcurranmortgage.com preparing to visit Open Houses, FSBO’s and real estate offices.

Buying a home is not about “investing!” It’s about owning a piece of the rock and those intangible benefits of homeownership!

Learn from others’ mistakes: BUY A HOME YOU CAN AFFORD! All those crazy people buying houses during the “BOOM” over-stretched their housing budgets. Know what you can afford and Use A Blanket That’s Big Enough!

I learned early in my career as a Mortgage Banker: It’s All About The Monthly Payment.

Okay, now that you are ready to hit the pavement shopping for a home, you’ll need some insight so you can get the house you want at the price you’re willing to pay:

How do you guess what the house is worth? Use your Personal Market Value “Divining Rod!”

Don’t be put off by the List Prices! EVERYTHING is negotiable! Asking Prices Don’t Matter To Realistic Buyers. (That would be YOU!!!)

Let’s say you have an awesome weekend and lo and behold you find a great house in a great location at a price reasonably close to what you’re willing to pay! WOW! Now it’s time to hunker down and negotiate. Cast aside your fear of rejection through preparedness. Prepared Buyers WIN negotiations by showing a Seller how serious they are!!! Follow these FIVE Steps to Get YOUR HOME THIS WEEKEND!
Five Steps To Making An Offer To Buy A Home

Good luck, enjoy the weather, have fun and Happy House Hunting!

5 Steps To Making An Offer To Buy A Home

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” when you follow my method.

There is a deliberate process to making an offer. I include step-by-step instructions on how this works. 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 almost 28 year career as a mortgage professional.

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.

5 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.

Include 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.

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

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.

Good luck and Happy House Hunting!

 

Use a Blanket that’s Big Enough

People don’t want to get in over their heads with a mortgage payment they can’t afford.

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!

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

All those mortgage losers who put this industry and the economy in the toilet are returning to prey on consumers once again.

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!

My Mom is harrassing me to buy a house. She keeps telling me I have to get this $8,000 stimulus refund and I have to close this year!

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.