Inflation Makes Mortgages An Asset; DON’T Prepay Your Mortgage

Dave Ramsey is a financial guru who encourages paying off all debts, including our mortgages. Here are Ramsey’s 7 Steps for taking control of our finances. A lot of other finance “gurus” of sorts take serious issue with Ramsey though b/c his advice only works in a world with minimal or falling inflation – a […]Read More

Why Should You Refinance Your Mortgage?

What Is Refinancing Refinancing is an excellent opportunity for homeowners to change their mortgage rate and terms to lower their interest rate, monthly payment, or cash out some of their property’s accumulated equity.  There are two types of refinances available for homeowners:  Rate/Term Refinance: A rate and term refinance is the refinancing of an existing […]Read More

Programs and Loans For A First Time Homebuyer

As a first time homebuyer, you have many loan programs and grants to choose from that help you afford your first real estate purchase. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best of these programs, grants, and loans that generally assist with the down payment and closing costs for first time homebuyers like yourself. […]Read More

How Long Does It Take To Get Pre-Approved And Apply For A Mortgage?

Agents frequently ask us how long it takes to apply for a loan, and how long it takes to get pre-approved (so they can share the info with their clients). Our answer is always that “it depends” b/c there are so many variables, but that it takes much less time than it did in the […]Read More

A Second Home Vs. An Investment Property

Looking to purchase a second home? Or maybe your goal is to buy an investment property. It’s important to know the difference between an investment property and a second home. Especially because obtaining mortgage financing for each of the two is a very different process where the costs can vary dramatically.  Differences Between Second Homes And […]Read More

What Is A Jumbo Loan In California?

What Is A Jumbo Loan? A jumbo loan is a conventional (not government-insured) mortgage loan that exceeds the conforming size limit for sale to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that buy and sell bundled mortgage loans. These limits vary by county. For most counties in the Bay Area, the 2021 conforming loan limit is $822,375, […]Read More

What Is A Jumbo Loan In Texas?

So What Is a Jumbo Loan in Texas in 2021? A jumbo loan is a conventional (not government-insured) mortgage loan that exceeds the conforming size limit for sale to Fannie and Freddie, the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that buy and sell bundled mortgage loans These limits vary by county. For all counties in Texas, the […]Read More

Understanding Your Credit Score And How To Improve It

There are many components to your individual financial profile that lenders assess when examining a mortgage application. One of the most important is your credit score. A question for many first time homebuyers is, what is a good credit score? And how can you improve it? What Is A Credit Score? Three different credit reporting […]Read More

Are Home Equity Loans Tax Deductible?

Homeowners cannot claim tax deductions on home equity loans in some cases. However, they can still benefit from cash-out refinancing programs to use the equity they’ve accrued in their homes. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed by President Trump in December 2017, introduced this change. Interest paid on home equity loans is no longer […]Read More

Can I Still Get A Home Loan With A Low Credit Score?

A critical factor that influences a person’s eligibility for a mortgage is their credit score. But what if you have a low credit score? Are you not going to qualify for a loan? This is a widespread concern among homebuyers with low credit scores. However, it’s also a tough question to answer because every loan […]Read More

What Are Closing Costs And What Do They Include?

The cost of purchasing a home includes more than just the down payment. In addition to the down payment, you will also need to pay closing costs which include various items and costs. It is crucial that homebuyers keep these in mind when budgeting. On average, closing costs range from 2% to 5% of the […]Read More

When Is The Best Season to Buy a Home?

The best season to buy a home is…winter! In addition to a reduced number of buyers plus more enthusiastic sellers, the slow season of winter allows all parties involved in a sale to really concentrate on each transaction that comes along. This can mean a shorter time period between offer and settlement. Let’s dive into […]Read More

Negative Rates Are Coming; What It Means For Real Estate And Mortgages

Negative interest rates are heading our way – with certainty – according to Luke Gromen, a macroeconomist who was featured on The Investor’s Podcast recently. Mr. Gromen believes that the Fed and the U.S. government have no choice but to continue to push rates down in whatever way possible in order to finance our massive […]Read More

Is Renting Or Buying Better For You?

Many people want to know if renting or buying a home is right for them and their finances. There are pros and cons to renting and buying a home. To find out if you should continue to rent or if you’re prepared to own, check out the rest of this blog. Pros Of Renting Possible […]Read More

Getting The “Best Deal” Cost Client $300,000; It’s %’s; Putting Money Where Your Mouth Is

In 2010, we had a client shopping for homes in what was and still is one of the hottest markets in the entire country – “the Rockridge” neighborhood in Oakland, CA. He was well-qualified with ample cash and low debt ratios, but he was determined to get the best deal possible; he was convinced that […]Read More

The Requirements To Purchase A Home With A Mortgage

Are you considering buying a home and plan on using a mortgage loan to help finance your purchase? If so, there are some requirements you should be aware of before you start the process. Buying a home is a significant investment that most often requires mortgage assistance to finance such a large purchase. To secure […]Read More

“I’m 8 Years Into My Loan & My Rate is 3.625%, Should I Refi?”

JVM: READY FOR REFI’S! First and foremost, JVM is open and ready to take on ALL refinances again! We had to temporarily shut them down last summer simply b/c we locked in so many that we swamped our system. But, now that we have cleared out our pipeline, aligned with a new (much faster) mortgage […]Read More

How To Minimize Your Down Payment

As of June 2020, a 20% down payment on a median-priced home in the Bay Area would cost a homebuyer around $228,205. You could minimize your down payment with these simple tips. Homebuyers don’t have to use a 20% down payment when purchasing a home. However, many choose to do so because a 20% down […]Read More

Can You Avoid Paying Mortgage Closing Costs?

What Are Mortgage Closing Costs? Mortgage closing costs consist of all the additional costs that homebuyers have to pay as they prepare to close on their home. There are two types of mortgage closings costs: Nonrecurring closing costs Recurring closing costs Nonrecurring Closing Costs Nonrecurring mortgage closing costs include all one-time fees that buyers pay […]Read More

How Do Credit Scores Affect Your Mortgage Rate

Credit scores are among the most critical factors that lenders look at to assess a homebuyer’s loan qualifications. Credit scores can affect the mortgage interest rate homebuyers receive from their lender. WHAT DETERMINES A MORTGAGE RATE? Many factors affect your mortgage rate, especially your credit scores. Here are a few of the most common and […]Read More

How Much Can I Borrow For A Home Loan

It is crucial for a homebuyer to understand how much you can borrow when you applying for a loan. This question is one of the biggest on every potential homebuyer’s mind. The answer will determine where you will look for homes, what you can offer, and how much you’ll have to save. We’ve put together […]Read More

Pay Cash For House Now & Get Financing After Close; “Delayed Financing”

Despite the COVID crisis, there seems to be more cash-rich buyers than ever right now in our three biggest markets – Bay Area, Austin, TX, and Dallas, TX. This is a result of several things, including the thriving tech economies of Austin and the Bay Area; the prevalence of cash-rich Californians taking their home equity […]Read More

A Senior Citizen’s Guide to Home Loans and Reverse Mortgages

Can an individual ever be too old to buy a home? The answer is an emphatic no; you’re never too old to buy a home. If you have the money, or qualify to get a home loan, there is no age limit for buying a new home. While anyone who qualifies for a home loan […]Read More

Homebuyers Should Know These Five Home Loan Types

  There are lots of home loan types to consider when buying a home in California or Texas. It makes sense that first-time homebuyers tend to feel confused and overwhelmed. So let’s simplify things. Mortgages are not one-size-fits-all. There are various programs available, but finding the best option largely depends on the buyer’s financial situation […]Read More

Should You Pay Off A Mortgage Or Invest?

The choice between investing and paying off your mortgage can be difficult. Wanting to reach your financial goals but not knowing which is better is a common challenge. Buying a home can be exciting and stressful and the idea of being in debt for 30 years to pay off your mortgage may seem daunting. Because […]Read More

Explaining The Basics of Refinancing A Mortgage

There are many possible benefits to refinancing your home mortgage. You may have heard from friends or neighbors who have already refinanced about some of the various advantages connected to refinancing your mortgage. For instance, refinancing can lead to a lower mortgage payment, a quicker timeline for paying off your mortgage, a lower interest rate, […]Read More

How to Get a Low Down Payment: A Guide for Borrowers

For many homebuyers, the down payment is the most significant obstacle on the road to homeownership. This is why so many homebuyers are looking for mortgage loans with low down payment options when purchasing a home. We’ve outlined a few of the ways borrowers can get a low down payment and how they may be […]Read More

What Is A Good Credit Score To Buy A House?

“What is a good credit score to buy a house?” Credit scores are often at the top of every prospective homebuyer’s mind when they begin their house hunt. Mortgage lenders pull credit scores for homebuyers from three major bureaus: Transunion, Equifax, and Experian. When lenders pull credit, they correlate to the middle of the three […]Read More

Refinancing FAQs; Essential Info for EVERY Borrower

With rates this low, $4 to $5 trillion of mortgages are now eligible for refinancing. This is more than twice the mortgage industry’s annual capacity and rates look to stay low for some time. Because refis are now such a hot topic and will continue to be for months (if not years), we recently added […]Read More

Are Mortgage Lenders Better Than Banks?

There are many reasons why choosing a local mortgage lender to buy or refinance a home is best. Working with a trusted local mortgage lender can ensure that homeowners get the highest level of customer service and the best deal when applying for a loan. 4 THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN PICKING A LOCAL […]Read More

Should You Consider A Real Estate Investment In Texas?

Many people should consider a real estate investment in Texas. Real estate is considered a hard asset, and as a result, it makes an excellent inflation hedge. In healthy housing markets, real estate tends to appreciate in value. In markets like the Austin area, real estate value can often skyrocket in appraised value. Texas is […]Read More

Should You Consider A Real Estate Investment In California?

Many people should consider a real estate investment in California. Real estate is considered a hard asset, and as a result, it makes an excellent inflation hedge. In healthy housing markets, real estate tends to appreciate in value. In markets like the Bay Area, real estate value can often skyrocket in appraised value. PURCHASING A […]Read More

5 Reasons Why There Is Demand For Housing Right Now

5 Reasons Why There Is Demand For Housing Right Now There are numerous signs that the purchase market is coming back to life and that there is an increasing demand for housing. Anecdotally, the number of pre-approval requests in our office are up over 50% from our March and April averages. The number of ratified […]Read More

Interest Rates/Mortgage Industry Update; When NOT to File Taxes

Interest rates have come back down but they are still about 1/4% to 3/8% higher than where they were when they bottomed out on March 9th. This is because the mortgage industry is still trying to fend off excess volume brought on by low rates and a surge of refis. And – it is also […]Read More

Goldman Sachs Loves Housing Still; COVID-19 Will Push People Away From Cities

In October, I blogged about my millennial nephew paying $4,250 per month in rent in San Francisco. I pointed out that the property he was renting was worth about $2 million and that he was probably better off renting – IF he stayed in San Francisco. His financial planner and I, however, both told him […]Read More

Stocks Down; Rates Up; DELAYS Caused by Coronavirus and Refi Boom

NORMALLY – WHEN STOCKS FALL, RATES FALL (BUT NOT THIS WEEK) The Dow Jones stock market index peaked at 29,551 only 1 month ago (on Feb 12th). As I type this on March 13th, the index has fallen to 21,362 – a staggering 27% drop. Initially, as everyone knows, mortgage interest rates plummeted along with […]Read More

Study Shows First-Time Dallas Homebuyers Look for Financing First

A housing report by the Washington Post shows that first-time homebuyers get pre-approved before house hunting. In the Washington Post’s housing report, they found that 74% of homebuyers start their house hunt in areas like Dallas, Texas, by researching financing options and getting pre-approved with a local Dallas lender. For first-time homebuyers, that percentage increases […]Read More

5 Key Credit Reminders & Misconceptions

#1 – Consumer credit scores are not the same as mortgage credit scores. Borrowers often share their credit scores with us, as if those scores are set in stone. Those scores, however, are often generated by online “consumer” oriented scoring models that are much less stringent than the scoring models mortgage lenders employ. As a […]Read More

House Hacking: Using Rent from Units to Offset Mortgage Payments

We cohosted a “House Hacking” seminar earlier in the year where we illuminated the many advantages of buying multiple units with rental income, as opposed to buying a single family residence. I was one speaker along with a seasoned agent, a property manager, a tax planner, and a financial planner. The advantages of buying units […]Read More

Charles Schwab No Longer Charges Commissions for Trades

Charles Schwab started to offer discount brokerage services (low commission trades) way back in 1975. Much of the financial industry paid little attention to the upstart firm but it nonetheless continued to grow and capture more and more market share. And then finally, 44 years later, Schwab announced that they would charge no commissions at […]Read More

Why Cash-Heavy Buyers Should Put LESS Down – Liquidity and Investment Returns!

We have had so many “cash-rich” borrowers ask us if they should put more money down lately, that we thought we should repeat this popular blog. Long-story-short:  borrowers usually should not put more money down as long as they have optimal financing and are not paying mortgage insurance. Borrowers also should not be so gung-ho […]Read More

First-Time Homebuyers Hunt for Financing Before Houses

A new housing report by the Washington Post shows that first-time homebuyers get pre-approved before house hunting. First-Time Homebuyers Look for Financing First In the Washington Post’s latest housing report, they found that 74% of homebuyers start their house hunt by researching financing options and getting pre-approved. For first-time homebuyers, that percentage increases to 85%. […]Read More

Why Even Cash-Rich Borrowers Need 30-Year Mortgages; LIQUIDITY!

Borrowers often underestimate the importance of liquidity. Especially when times are good. When rates are relatively low (under 8%), we always recommend using financing (obtaining a mortgage) to buy real estate, even if borrowers have ample cash. Similarly, we usually advise borrowers (who want lower 15-year rates) to take 30-year mortgages over 15-year mortgages. Even […]Read More

Mortgage Banks vs. Commercial Banks; What’s the Difference? What’s Better?

The Wall Street Journal featured an article recently that stressed that buyers in a competitive market need a lender with a stellar reputation, an ability to close quickly, great communication skills, and local appraisers. Big bank/commercial bank corporations are just that: they’re big. Large corporations tend to have huge amounts of clientele. As a result, […]Read More

Bank Statements – Why They Are SO Important!

STRONG BORROWER DENIED FINANCING – WHY? We once had a borrower who qualified for financing in every way (income, assets, credit, etc.) but she was denied financing. The reason? She had five unexplainable overdraft charges on her bank statements that indicated she could not manage cash. Every borrower has to provide bank statements for every […]Read More

Refi’s Die; Mortgage Industry Shakeout; Cheese Moving

In 2012, 72% of mortgage industry volume consisted of refinancings, or”refi’s” for short. In 2017, refi’s dropped to only 37% of total volume – the lowest percentage in two decades. This is from a recent WSJ article that we will reprint below this blog. 70% of Quicken’s 2017 business was from Refi’s, and that percentage […]Read More

Bitcoins, Bubbles, Burning Bankers; Beanie Babies

In 1307, King Philip IV of France couldn’t pay his massive debts to the Knights Templar. So naturally he accused them of false crimes and burned them at the stake. I stole that story from a recent WSJ article called Hooray for Bitcoin. It illustrates two things: (1) it’s an excellent way to eliminate your […]Read More

Tax Transcripts; Proof Taxes Were Filed; 4506-T; How It Works

Every lender is required to get the last two years of tax returns from every borrower for almost every loan. We then have to prove that the tax returns are authentic and that they were actually filed with the IRS. This is why every borrower has to sign an IRS Form 4506-T as part of […]Read More

FHA Financing Is Fast, “As Is,” & Easy; 15 Day Close

Heejin and I did a presentation yesterday on marketing for real estate agents, based on everything we have seen work and not work with the hundreds of agents we have worked with. It went really well, and if anyone would like to see it, please let us know. But, this blog topic surfaced after the […]Read More

Income Taxes Owed Is OK; Tax Liens Must Be Paid Though

This is a quick reminder that borrowers can still obtain mortgage financing even if they owe income taxes.  But, a payment plan with the IRS must be in place. For FHA, we need proof of three payments, and for conventional, we need proof of one payment (and it can be made in escrow). Borrowers cannot obtain […]Read More