Work With An Individual Loan Officer or A Loan Officer Team?

January 16th, 2023
Work with individual or a team

Should you work with an individual Loan Officer or a Loan Officer team? This discussion will stir up some controversy. I will likely get some angry comments as well as some supportive comments. Keep it classy, and let’s discuss! Read the rest of this entry »

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Home Price Reduction and Rates

December 31st, 2022
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How do home price reduction and rates affect one another? I have clients who have reported seeing price reductions in the asking prices of homes for sale. This is the first time I have heard of this in years and years. So, are real estate values about to correct? It probably depends on where you live. And of course, as with many of life’s answers, the answer is a matter of degree. Some markets may be in for a large correction, some a small correction, and some markets may still experience price gains.

Are housing values dropping?

I have heard of some home shoppers say they feel home sellers owe it to homebuyers to drop prices just because of the interest rates increase. Read the rest of this entry »

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2023 Much Higher Conforming Loan Limits Announced

December 3rd, 2022
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2023 conforming loan limits have been announced! The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) sets the loan size limits each year on conventional mortgages that Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae will buy from mortgage lenders. In 2022 the conforming loan limit for a single-family home was $647,800. This year, the conforming loan limit for a single-family home has increased to $726,200, a little over a 12% increase! Read the rest of this entry »

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Waiving Contract Contingencies On A Condo

November 25th, 2022
new home under contract

When buying a condo, you may find yourself in a competitive bidding situation and your realtor may ask you about waiving some or all the contingencies in your contract. These contingencies are usually things like a home inspection contingency, appraisal contingency, and financing contingency. But waiving contract contingencies on a condo can be risky. Read the rest of this entry »

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How are property taxes calculated?

October 3rd, 2022
calculate property taxes

Property taxes are a part of the cost of owning a home. When you buy a home you not only have to consider the cost of the monthly mortgage payment, but you also need to consider property taxes, homeowners insurance, any HOA dues, maintenance, and utilities.

Many people wrongly assume property taxes are a fixed cost, and that whatever amount is billed when you first buy the house, is what the amount will be for the life of owning the home. However, property taxes can change quickly after buying a home. Most counties assess property value annually, and adjust the amount due annually. Read the rest of this entry »

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Using Retirement Account As Income For A Mortgage

September 10th, 2022
older couple in retirement

There are times that I have used a mortgage borrower’s retirement account balance/s as income, even if the borrower is not currently taking required withdrawals from the account/s. But how can an asset be used as income? It can, and the guidelines allow it. However, there are many rules to consider.

  • The mortgage must be for a 1-unit or 2-unit Primary Residence or a second home; no investment properties are allowed, and no 3-4 unit properties are allowed.
  • The mortgage must be a purchase loan or a no cash-out refinance, not a cash out refinance.
  • The maximum loan-to-value is 80%.
  • At least one borrower on the account must be 62 years old.
  • We take the account balance and divide by 240 to get the monthly income. For example: $800,000 401(k) account balance / 240 = $3,333.33/month in income to help qualify for a mortgage

All the Freddie Mac rules related to this can be seen by clicking here.

For retirement accounts that are already being used to take distributions as income, the Fannie Mae rules to document that as acceptable income are found here under the area marked “Retirement, Government Annuity, and Pension Income.” The main points are:

  • If retirement income is paid in the form of a distribution from a 401(k), IRA, or Keogh retirement account, determine whether the income is expected to continue for at least three years after the date of the mortgage application.
  • Eligible retirement account balances (from a 401(k), IRA, or Keogh) may be combined for the purpose of determining whether the three-year continuance requirement is met.
  • The borrower must have unrestricted access to the accounts without penalty.

If you are getting near retirement age or you are already retirement age, consider using your retirement accounts as income to help you qualify for a mortgage, even if you are not currently taking withdrawals from the account.

To contact me to discuss any income qualifying or other mortgage questions, click here to schedule a call or you can email me directly.

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Are Housing Values Dropping Now?

August 10th, 2022
ten percent off sale

Potential homebuyers who contact me for a mortgage are now frequently asking if they should wait to buy a home.  The implication is that people are now worried that housing values are going to fall, so why buy now? Isn’t it smarter to wait? Maybe, maybe not. It is understandable why everybody is asking the question, “are housing values dropping now?”

Markets are very local. Don’t assume that real estate is going to fall across the board in every community, in every town, in every city across the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cash Reserves Requirements For Jumbo Loans – UPDATE

July 10th, 2022
dollar 1362243 1920

Jumbo loans, also called Non-Conforming loans, are loans that do not conform to the Conforming loan limits. Conforming loan limits can be found by clicking here. If you have a loan amount that is higher than the Conforming loan limits, then you have a Jumbo loan. Jumbo loans require that a mortgage borrower has cash reserves. The Jumbo loan cash reserves requirement is different from Conforming loans, in that Conforming loans many times do not require cash reserves at all.

Cash reserves is a certain amount that a lender may require that the borrower has left over after they pay their down payment and closing costs at closing, in reserve.

Different lenders have different requirements for cash reserves for their Jumbo loans. There are requirements for the amount of cash reserves, and there are requirements for the types of cash reserves.

Amount of cash reserves (the below is illustrative as it may vary from lender to lender):

6 months of the PITI (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) are required in general.

4 months PITI if you are retaining your current primary residence

4 months PITI for each rental property you own

4 months PITI for a second home/vacation home that you own

Cash reserves are based on all recurring housing expenses for the subject property and in some cases for other property owned by the borrower. Cash reserves are also cumulative, so if you are buying a new home and have a rental property, per the above, you may need 10 months of cash reserves. Housing expenses, also known as principal, interest, taxes, insurance, and assessments (PITIA), include but are not limited to:

  • Principal and Interest (as used in the qualifying payment amount)
  • Insurances (hazard, flood, and/or mortgage)
  • Real Estate Taxes
  • Ground rent/leasehold
  • Special Assessments
  • Homeowners’ association fees
  • Monthly co-op fees
  • Any home equity loan or HELOC payment, if applicable

Types of cash reserves:

  • Cash accounts (checking account, savings account, money market accounts, CD’s)
  • Mutual Funds
  • Stocks
  • Gift money is usually not allowed to count towards cash reserves
  • Retirement accounts may or may not be allowed to count towards cash reserves

I have seen lenders go back and forth over the years on allowing retirement accounts, such as 401(k), 403(b), IRA, and TSP; to be used as cash reserves.

When a mortgage lender is considering retirement accounts as cash reserves, they are not suggesting that you must liquidate or borrow against the retirement account to generate cash. Lenders are only considering the balance of the retirement account without having to liquidate any of it or borrow against any of it.

Retirement accounts are not very liquid, and hence they shouldn’t be considered cash, which is why at some points in time I’ve seen lenders not allow retirement accounts to count towards cash reserves requirements.

But currently, as of the date of this blog, we have many lenders we work with that allow retirement accounts to be used as cash reserves. This is an important development because it now allows borrowers to only need to have their down payment and closing costs liquid, but not the cash reserves.

Mortgage guidelines can change frequently, please schedule a call or email me with questions on your specific situation.

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e-closings The Reality

May 30th, 2022
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There has been a lot of talk about e-closings recently, which allows someone to close on a mortgage remotely from the comfort of their own home or office, without physically going to a title company office. However, knowing the details is important. You need to determine if this is an option that is available to you, and if it is a good idea for you.

As of the writing of this blog, e-closings are not available in all 50 states. You need to determine if your state has passed legislation to allow them. Then you need to find a mortgage lender and a title company that have the knowledge and technology needed to participate in e-closings.

You may also hear an e-closing referred to as a digital closing, electronic closing, remote closing, and other variations.

There are also different types of e-closings such as: Read the rest of this entry »

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Escrows For Weather Related Home Completion Items

May 11th, 2022
unfinished house

Lenders are sometimes asked by a mortgage borrower to allow an escrow account to be created for some items to be completed. Repairs cannot be addressed by putting money in escrow. Repairs are usually required to be completed prior to closing. However, lenders may allow an escrow account to be created for items unable to be completed due to weather. Weather related delays are most common in new construction homes.

In my 3.5 decades in the mortgage business, I don’t recall a lender I have worked for ever allowing repair escrows. That is because they are typically messy, and many times end up not being resolved in a timely fashion. There are contractor problems and other situations where the cost exceeds the escrow account reserve. Weather related escrows are a different story, but repair related escrows may be impossible to get approved by a lender. Read the rest of this entry »

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