How To Prepare to Become a Homeowner

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.

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!

The Affordable Home: Washing the Dishes

I believe in The Affordable Home.

dishmasterI’ve debated for many years with various folks, friends and family members over washing the dishes, not that I mind the household chore, rather the expense of hand-washing dishes versus using a dishwasher.

Thanks to the National Resource Defense Council, I’m both wrong and I’m right!

They say that using a newer Energy STAR efficient washing machine is the least expensive way to wash your dishes. But they make a good case for “efficient” hand-washing. A new Energy STAR efficient dishwasher uses 3-5 gallons of water and 1kWh energy. dishwasher

Efficient hand-washing, where you use separate tubs to soap the dishes and wash them by hand then rinse in a separate tub thereby not running the water the whole time is nearly as efficient with 8 gallons and 1kWh. More efficient than an older dishwasher which can use up to 15 gallons and 2-3 kWh!

Make your home more affordable: either invest in a new Energy STAR efficient dishwasher or get more efficient in the way you wash your dishes by hand.

More on the NRDC website HERENational Resource Defense Council



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

Intangible Benefits of Homeownership

I don’t think my radar is any more tweaked than usual, but I did pick up quite a few quotes in today’s which point to the American Dream of homeownership and the “intangible benefits” of same.

I have long said that you simply cannot put a number to quantify the intangible benefits of homeownership. When you live in your own home there is something that changes within you, there is a feeling which you simply can’t express with a number such as “4% increase in property value.”

My entire career as a mortgage professional has been spent helping people who think as I do, who “feel” it makes complete sense to own their own homes. These folks focus on the monthly payment—can they afford to own a home—then decide to move forward if that payment fits. They move forward regardless of the person sitting in the White House, regardless of interest rates or property values or what the newspapers say about it (“Buy NOW! Real estate always goes up!” or, “Worst time to buy real estate!”).

These folks know deep down inside there is something they will receive that you can’t put into numbers, and only rarely into words, that just makes it feel like you did the right thing when you put it all on the line to buy a home.

’nuff said from me, here are some quotes (with the links) from today’s

From “The Backyard In New York City-An Urban Oasis” (The article describes the joys and rather unusual circumstance of a backyard within the urban confines of New York City)— August 31, 2008

“”I wish they’d pass a law,’ said Rebecca Cole, a designer of high-end backyard, terrace and rooftop gardens, ‘that if you have outdoor space you have to put something on it because the rest of us want it.’”

“’One of the reasons we love it, it’s garden to garden,’” said Ms. Franklin

My Fave Quote from the article:
“At night, after putting their sons to bed, they set up a folding table to sip cocktails and grill by tiki candles and music on the radio while counting their blessings, as Mr. Pinn says: ‘A house, two kids, two cars and a lawn.’”

I don’t detect a single word about “ROI” (Return On Investment), the state of the economy and the effect on property values, or the mortgage meltdown of 2007. Nope, this is what the folks are talking about:

“They consulted neighbors who were also fixing up their yards. ‘We get together over drinks and talk about seeds,’ Mr. Pinn said. ‘It’s kind of an odd conversation for the city.’”

Instead of watching the value of his property ticking up or down:

“…weekends often find him pushing a manual mower back and forth across the baby lawn but he doesn’t mind. ‘It’s a little therapeutic,’ he said. ‘I get out there and do my thing. It kind of softens up the hard life of New York City.’”

Another article on reports on the unique penthouses being constructed atop an apartment building in Manhattan! The penthouses look like quaint little suburban tract homes. But the most interesting part of the story is the reaction of neighbors watching these mini-Manhattan-miracles make their way onto the (above) streetscape:

“Ms. Gavilanes found the penthouses alluring. ‘I would get a car,’ she said, ‘and put it out in the driveway. And then I’d add a white picket fence, and AstroTurf. Maybe have a golden retriever playing in the yard.’”

Even Jaded New Yorkers Are Intrigued By The Little Houses On The Roof. — August 31, 2008

I’d like to say, “Only in New York” but the fact is, these articles/comments all reflect the deep-seated understanding that there is something special about owning a home. That understanding isn’t unique to a bunch of New Yorkers, either. I’ve believed it for so long, I’ve forgotten just how long. And I’ve defended this intangible benefit vehemently, even during the “fantasy boom” when all the rage was “values going up, up, up,” and then later during the meltdown when all the pessimists said, “Don’t buy NOW. Wait ’til the prices drop.”

You can’t put a price on this stuff. Period.