Why We Hire Brains & Character Over Experience

Last I week I blogged about our office manager who embezzled $200,000, and how she was a result of a “panic hire.” We needed help so badly that we hired the first person we found with experience. As we started to grow, we frequently turned to applicants with experience to fill slots even when we […]Read More

Prime Rate Up; HELOCs Up; PMI Down

Prime Rate was 3.5% last year at this time. Currently the Prime Rate is 4.25%. It has been climbing steadily with every increase in the Fed Funds Rate. Prime Rate is the interest rate that large companies pay to borrow funds for short periods. It matters to real estate b/c Home Equity Lines of Credit […]Read More

What If Spouse Has Horrible Credit? Too Much Debt?

We frequently get husband/wife borrowers where one spouse has stellar credit and the other has awful credit. Most people know that the solution is simply to do the loan in the name of the “good-credit-spouse” only, as long as the good-credit-spouse has sufficient income to qualify on his or her own. The bad-credit-spouse can do […]Read More

Retaining Talent – Culture & Profit Sharing; Not About The Money

Recruiters from other mortgage companies constantly call our team members to lure them to their firms… and it always elicits chuckles across our office b/c the recruiters are so clueless. They don’t understand our model or why our top performers stay. Heejin and I used to be even more clueless when it came to retention […]Read More

Why Rates FELL After Fed RAISED Rates; Econ Data Trumps Fed Policy

The Fed raised its short term “Fed Funds Rate” again yesterday, but long term mortgage rates fell. Once again, the Fed Funds Rate is only a short term interest rate (the rate that banks charge other banks for overnight loans necessary to pad their required reserves). This short term rate does not always directly influence […]Read More

How To Hire Great People; Horror Story

It was June of 2011 when Heejin noticed one of our deposits was smaller than it was supposed to be. So Heejin dug a little deeper and found a bunch of accounting irregularities. She then got very worried, continued to dig and discovered over $200,000 had been embezzled from our accounts. Our officer manager was […]Read More

How & Why We Offer “No Cost” Refi’s

Nobody, and I mean nobody, expected rates to fall this much in 2017. When rates do fall, we reach out to all of our eligible borrowers and offer the option to refinance – usually at “no cost” (where JVM pays for all non-recurring closing costs). Borrowers sometimes wonder how we get paid when we offer […]Read More

Why Elite, Awesome Marketing Company Lost Our Business

We recently sent requests for proposals to elite marketing firms all over the United States, and were pleasantly surprised by the reception. The firms wanted to work with us b/c they loved our website, focus, messaging, image, etc. They were happy to avoid the basics of “Marketing 101.” What was most interesting though was how […]Read More

Things to Know About Mortgages and Divorces

This is a popular blog from January that we think is worth repeating b/c the info is so important. Things to know about mortgages and divorces: 1. Spouse can quit-claim off title, but NOT off the loan. The only way a spouse can get “off a loan” is with a full refinance. 2. If a […]Read More

Beware “The Happiness Bubble”; Scrum

On June 1st, when I walked into our office, everyone was silent, focused and intensely working. Also on June 1st, we had a one-hour meeting at 2 PM to go over our systems, processes and training to fix everything that needed improvement, like we do every week. I point this out b/c May was an […]Read More

Condos – Three Numbers To Know

If you’re looking at a Condo, there are three numbers to know: 1) % of owners delinquent with HOA Dues: Less than 15% of owners must be less than 60 days late. This number is often an issue after market corrections b/c people are more likely to walk away from condos (and stop paying HOA […]Read More

What’re You Reading? Real Education After Formal Education

I loved college and was an excellent student who tried to learn as much as I could during my academic years. My problem was that after law school, I stopped learning the things I needed to learn. I didn’t realize that my real education only started after my formal education. I continued to voraciously read […]Read More

Cash Out Refi’s Back – For Good Reasons This Time; Down Payments?

Prior to the meltdown in 2006, almost 90% of all refi’s were “cash out,” meaning that borrowers increased the size of their loan with their refi. Borrowers effectively used their homes as ATMs, and used the cash from their refi’s to buy expensive cars, time-shares, vacations, boats and other luxury goods. Heejin and I bore […]Read More

Know Your “Why” For More Business and More Fun

I exchanged emails with an extremely successful friend in the mortgage business over the weekend. He was having his best month ever, but was nevertheless feeling very down. The constant grind of the business had gotten to him. His focus is on awesome customer service and on growing a great business, but he doesn’t have […]Read More

Calling Listing Agents; From 2nd to 1st; What We Tout

Some of our selling agents have us call the listing agent every time they make an offer. They do this b/c it works. The effectiveness of listing agent calls was illuminated again this week when our phone call pushed our offer from a solid 2nd place to a rock solid 1st place, and we’re now […]Read More

Recurring and Nonrecurring Costs; Estimating the Total for Credits

A few readers had questions yesterday about recurring and nonrecurring closing costs. Note: I was using the term “reoccurring” yesterday but according to the internet, “recurring” is the more correct term, even though the meaning is very similar. Nonrecurring closing costs include the one-time fees that buyers pay only at the time of purchase. These […]Read More

Seller & Lender Credits; Can’t Exceed Closing Costs; Repairs; Rules

We thought it was time to repeat a few basic, but very important, guidelines in regard to seller and lender credits. We’ve had numerous delays in recent weeks b/c of mistakes. 1. If a credit is specified to be for a repair either in the contract or addendum, the repairs will have to be completed […]Read More

When Technology Fails…Somebody Actually Has To Think

It took me two and half hours to take an Uber from Manhattan to JFK airport last week. The reason? My Uber driver had moved to NYC four days earlier and he relied entirely on his Waze app to navigate. And Waze does NOT work in Manhattan (too much traffic and too much data, and […]Read More

What Realtors Can Say To Appraisers- Anything; Comp Guidelines

Lenders are not ever allowed to communicate directly with appraisers. We are only allowed to order appraisals through our Appraisal Management Company, which in turn contacts the appraiser. Realtors, however, can communicate directly with appraisers and we highly recommend it. Realtors often ask us what they are “allowed to say.” Our answer is: “anything, as […]Read More

Team Building – Freedom, Profits AND CLIENT EXPERIENCE; Awesome Testimonial

We constantly tout the need for effective team building as a necessity for all leaders and business owners. Hiring team members to do every task better than you can is the only way to expand free time and profits and to enhance service levels. In fact, we are planning a huge Lunch & Learn in […]Read More

How to Eliminate Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI

Here are three options for eliminating the private mortgage insurance (PMI) obligation associated with a conventional loan (FHA MI is permanent). Option #1 – Refinancing: If your property appreciates to the point where we can garner a new appraisal to support a value high enough to reduce your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio to 80% or less, […]Read More

Scariest Phrase in English Language: “But We’ve Always Done It This Way”

Sam Zell is a famously blunt billionaire real estate investor who was recently interviewed in the WSJ. There are many fascinating things about him but his quote in regard to a $315 million LOSS he experienced was the best part of the interview. Interesting things: * He is 76 and still going full speed * […]Read More

Renters Finally Returning to Markets In Droves, per WSJ; Fed Still Buying Bonds!

This is a quote from today’s WSJ: “In a shift, new households are overwhelmingly choosing to buy rather than rent. Some 854,000 new-owner households were formed during the first three months of the year, more than double the 365,000 new-renter households formed during the period, according to Census Bureau data. It was the first time in […]Read More

200 Yelps! Vodka, Tequila, Deducting Interest For Taxes

JVM has 200 Five Star Yelp reviews, as of this morning!! This is a milestone we’ve been shooting for for some time now, and it is no small feat given how many of our reviews get filtered. We still love Yelp though b/c the reviews are 100% authentic and can’t be edited. A few very […]Read More

YPN Event Tonight! Stats & Market Trends; Reality vs. Psychology

We would like to invite everyone to tonight’s YPN Event in Oakland at Tertulia Coffee at 1951 Telegraph, at 5:30 PM. The topic tonight is “Statistics and Market Trends.” Danny Winkler and I will be on the panel. At JVM, we love this topic b/c we rely so heavily on data! We zealously monitor our […]Read More

Gift of Equity; Condo’s Reserve Requirements; Townhouses

Here are a few reminders: Gift of Equity: When a relative buys a home from another relative (“relative” can be used very loosely), the buyer does not need any down payment funds. Buyers can obtain a “gift of equity” from the seller equal to 20% of the purchase price or more, and no down payment […]Read More

Why We (& Everyone Should) Pay Employees Above Market Wages

In another excellent James Altucher Podcast, the founder of WordPress (Matt Mullenweg) told some great stories about compensation. First, when Matt was only 19, he got a job in San Francisco that paid more than his father’s, even though his father had worked for the same company for 27 years. Making matters worse, his father […]Read More

Importance Of Own Appraisal Panel! Why We Left The Broker Channel

We used to navigate the broker channel with amazing efficiency b/c we knew every lender’s guidelines and systems so well, and our volume and reputation allowed us to curry many favors. Reminder: The “broker channel” is one where loan officers do not work for a specific mortgage bank but instead submit their loans to multiple […]Read More

College Is Hardly Necessary For Success; Calling Listing Agents

After sending out Monday’s Comments discussing how we use college as a screening tool at JVM, I received the following comical email: “None of these dudes qualify to work at JVM??”   Richard Branson – CEO of Virgin Group… Bill Gates – Former Microsoft CEO… Micky Arison – CEO of Carnival… Mark Zuckerberg – CEO […]Read More

College vs. No College; Hiring & Interviewing Tips; “Give A Damn & Empathy”

James Altucher recently had Ryan Deiss (the young founder of a huge digital marketing firm) on an excellent podcast. They both strongly advocated not going to college, despite the fact that both are highly educated college grads themselves. They think college is far too expensive and too vague for young people with no clue what […]Read More

Illegal In-Law Units and Credits For Closing Costs Always OK If…

We blogged yesterday about “Clean Contracts” and received a couple of great questions. Illegal in-law units and/or kitchens:  Appraisers cannot attribute value to illegal units in most cases, unless they are typical for the area and there are comparable sales with similar units to support the value. Also, stoves from non-permitted kitchen areas must be […]Read More

Helping Lender Close On Time: Complete/Clean Contracts & Addenda a Must

We often remind Realtors, Escrow Officers and Borrowers that “everyone has to be on board” if we are going to close on time, especially if we’re closing in 15 days. Realtors are often unaware, however, that they are sometimes the biggest impediment to closing on time. For starters, we need escrow information, basic contract terms […]Read More

Reasons Why Inventory Is So Low

When my boys and I go back to South Dakota to hunt pheasants, one of the most interesting things to observe (besides the massive cultural chasm between the Bay Area and rural America) is the real estate market. In some parts of South Dakota, the inventory and the “days on market” are almost infinite b/c […]Read More

Rules & Too Much Rigidity; Piling on United; Employees Afraid To Yell “Wrong”

Last week at a staff meeting, several team members called me out for being blatantly wrong about a major decision (my expansion plans were not practicable). Calling me out is common and encouraged at JVM, and it is another reason why we perform so well. I thought of this when I read a recent WSJ […]Read More

Early Pay Off Penalties – Six Months Is All We Ask :)

Shockingly, rates have fallen about 1/4% over the last month. We say shockingly b/c we were told that this time they were going up for sure (after about twenty false alarms over the last eight years). And… once again the Fed seems powerless and the experts were wrong. BUT – that is not the point of this blog. […]Read More

Four Habits That Guarantee Success; Hire People With Habits Ingrained

Dan Sullivan is our favorite business coach and podcaster b/c of his straight forward advice and hugely successful track record. We’ve been implementing his ideas for years and we highly recommend his very short and excellent podcasts. He often talks about the “four referability habits” that will virtually guarantee success. Everyone thinks they practice these […]Read More

Income Taxes Owed Must Be Paid; Or Payment Plan Set Up

We have to review every borrower’s tax return. And, every time we see a tax liability owed on a tax return, we need proof (a canceled check, a receipt from the IRS, or a bank statement reflecting the withdrawal of the payment) that it has been paid. If it has not been paid, the borrower […]Read More

Consumer Credit Scores NOT The Same as Mortgage Credit Scores

As we explain from time to time, most mortgage lenders pull credit scores from the three major bureaus (Transunion, Equifax and Experian) and they correlate to the middle of the three scores. If there are two borrowers, lenders usually correlate to whichever borrower has the lower middle score, often frustrating borrowers with especially good credit. […]Read More

Who’s Your Inner Circle? Perspective & Decisions

I’ve blogged a few times about losing $3 million as a result of bad investments and stupid decisions. One of the many huge mistakes I made prior to my colossal losses was never building an inner circle of advisors. Management and self-help books always talked about this necessity but I never took it seriously until […]Read More

What the Heck Is Going On With Rates? They’re Rising, Right? Wrong

Interest rates fell again, surprising everyone (again) b/c rates are supposed to be going up, right? Wrong. Rates are supposed to being going up b/c the Federal Reserve has been increasing the short term Fed Funds Rate; b/c the economy is heating up; b/c Mr. Trump’s policies are potentially inflationary; and b/c the Fed is […]Read More

Warehouse Store Mortgage Screw Ups; Warning for Borrowers and Agents

One of our borrowers didn’t like the news we gave him so he went to a major warehouse store to get his mortgage. And – the entire situation is a great lesson on why Bay Area buyers should not go to a warehouse store to get a mortgage. 🙂 Appraisal Issues: They used a national […]Read More

Marketing Tips from Top Realtor Who Told Us Our “Website Sucks!”

One of the nicest things that ever happened to me was this – a super successful real estate agent pulled me aside and said, “I have to be honest with you – your website really, really sucks. I am serious. It’s awful…” 🙂 It was so nice b/c it was the impetus we needed to […]Read More

Lose Your Temper, Lose Your Business; Successful People Control Emotions – Always.

I lost my temper with a borrower last night … and I thought of my Dad, whose business empire fell apart largely b/c he couldn’t control his temper. He burned all of his bridges with employees, customers and business contacts. I also thought about all the rock star mortgage brokers and Realtors I have known over the years […]Read More

Condition Issues Disclosed Must Be Fixed; Escrow Needs to Be Careful Too

We recently had a transaction come to a screeching halt b/c the escrow officer told our “funder” that there was a plumbing leak so she was crediting $1,000 to the buyer to cover the cost of the repair. Escrow officers and Realtors can discuss things with the JVM Team (or their loan officers) off the […]Read More

Need Assembly Line for Effective Team; Bottlenecks Alleviated

This was a “Kudos” sent to our entire office last week: “We are so lucky to have Beau as our appraisal manager. Besides ordering and reviewing appraisals and conditions, he also communicates with the realtors when there are issues. This releases so much burden from the processing team. Our Closing Specialists therefore get more time […]Read More

You’re Invited To Our Homebuyer’s Seminar on April 12th. Save Your Seat!

I’m going to guess you know someone just like Kim. Kim was a nurse making good money and renting in Pleasant Hill. Kim was working with one of our Realtors for over a year but had been too apprehensive to pull the trigger and buy a home. And it seemed as though that was how […]Read More

Unison – 10% Down Payment Assistance For Small Share of Appreciation

Unison contributes 10% of the purchase price or more to help buyers increase purchasing power, to save cash for other uses, to avoid PMI, or to reduce payments in order to lower debt ratios or just save money. Unison does not charge interest or any payments, but only takes a small percentage of the appreciation […]Read More

“Top 20 Companies Transforming Industries;” JVM’s #10, and Proud!

The Muse is a major online job search and career website with hundreds of major clients across the country. And recently, they published an article titled 20 Companies Transforming Industries. We were delighted and very proud to see that JVM Lending ranked #10, among some very strong competition. This is what The Muse had to […]Read More

Occupying Properties w/i 60 Days; Notice to Vacate; Proof; Calling Loan

“Owner occupied” financing is more favorable than investment property financing b/c the risk of default is much less. B/c of this lenders need to make sure properties are actually owner-occupied. “Owner occupant” buyers must take possession within 60 days of close of escrow (this is why “rent-backs” can’t exceed 60 days too). Problems arise if […]Read More

Tutorials = Path to Freedom & Lifeblood of Business

Heejin was at a Strategic Coach event in Toronto last week among a large number of extremely successful entrepreneurs. She was amazed to see how many of them were glued to their phones and very stressed out, despite their seven figure incomes and high net worths. What all of them lacked was a trained support […]Read More