Rates Down Despite Fed’s 4th Increase in One Year; Why?

On December 14th, 2016, I quoted a rate of 4.0%* in this blog. Today I will quote 3.75%. It is interesting that 30 year fixed rates have fallen 1/4 percent over the last year even though the Fed has ostensibly increased rates four times. The Fed increased rates yesterday again and 30 year rates are […]Read More

Technology, Hand-Holding, & Big Bank Horror Story

Team Member’s Mom Goes to the Competition One of our team member’s Moms went to the “competition” for a refi, and we were mortified… OK – actually, we weren’t. She has a very unique situation in regard to zoning that a big bank signed off on before, so she went back to them to refinance. […]Read More

FHA Loan Limits Up Too; Why & When To Use FHA?

HUD recently released FHA Loan Limits for 2018, and in high cost counties they largely (but not always) match the new loan limits for conforming loans. In high cost counties (most of the CA coast), the FHA Loan Limit ranges from $679,650 for a one unit property, all the way up to $1,307,175 for a […]Read More

What You Can Learn from Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream; Taking Risks

How I Built This Heejin’s and my favorite podcast is NPR’s “How I Built This” b/c we love hearing the horror stories that founders endured before they hit it big. The lessons are excellent b/c they remind everyone that there are no overnight successes, that growing a business is always difficult, and that there is […]Read More

Beware of Flood Insurance! Full Payment Up Front

Flood insurance can be brutal. We recently had a transaction in Oakland that required our buyer to pay almost $8,000 up front (prior to close) so we could obtain our required evidence of flood insurance. Similarly, we had a small transaction in a Contra Costa County suburb that required a $5,300 upfront payment. In both […]Read More

Inspirational Quote Contest at JVM; More Fun & Inspiring Than Expected

We frequently have internal contests at JVM for all kinds of things – favorite songs, cookie decorating, baking contests, flip cup, dart gun wars, trivia, Jenga, etc. They always turn out to be more fun than expected, and we highly recommend the practice. The winners are decided by an all-office vote, and they usually get […]Read More

Blindsided by Supplemental Tax Bills; Property Tax Season

It is property tax season again in CA, with the first installment due on Nov 1st and late on Dec 10th. We explain property taxes well during our buyer-education process, but the biggest issue is often “Supplemental Taxes” b/c the bills can be large, and they can catch buyers off-guard. Below is the information we […]Read More

Life Way Back… in the 1990s Was So Hard! Can’t Believe I Endured It

There has been a slew of articles and podcasts lately about America’s complacency and lack of innovation. And, it all might be true at some level. But – from my perspective, we have been riding a wave of innovation that makes life 1,000x better than it was even 20 years ago. In fact, I can’t […]Read More

Conforming Loan Limits Way Up For 2018; What It Means

Fannie and Freddie recently announced their 2018 Loan Limits, and they went up significantly. The “Low Balance” limit for a one-unit property jumped from $424,100 to $453,100. And the “High Balance” limit (for “High Cost” counties comprising most of coastal California) jumped from $636,150 to $679,650. The limits for two, three and four unit properties […]Read More

Power Struggle at the CFPB; What It Means For Lenders, Realtors, Borrowers

There was a fascinating power struggle at the CFPB this week. The departing director, Richard Cordray, named his deputy, Leandra English, to be his successor (or acting director until Cordray’s term ends next year). President Trump named his own acting director in Mick Mulvaney. We then had two people claiming to head the CFPB – […]Read More

Why “Compliance” is SO IMPORTANT in the Mortgage World

The term “compliance” is thrown around constantly in the mortgage industry, and it is for good reason. The mortgage industry is regulated by the CFPB, HUD, Cal BRE, and the Fed, among other entities. All of these organizations impose myriad rules and regulations that every company must comply with. Companies can incur massive fines and/or […]Read More

Thanksgiving Factoids and Business Lessons :)

Here are a few Thanksgiving stories for this last day prior to the big day. Most people don’t know that the Pilgrims experimented with communal living when they first arrived in 1620. They had no private property, and they pooled and shared everything. And… it failed miserably. There were shortages, resentment, constant theft, and starvation […]Read More

Thanksgiving and the “Gratitude Fad” – More Than Meets the Eye

Every Thanksgiving we are reminded ad infinitum to give thanks, to be grateful, to show gratitude…until it gets annoying. Equally annoying is the entire “gratitude fad” – the constant reminders all year long to show, think and express gratitude. But, here’s the thing. It works. It not only makes the recipients of your gratitude feel […]Read More

How to Optimize Your Facebook Profile For Business Part II

Yesterday, we introduced Nikko’s Sales Blog, and we of course received a lot of great feedback. So, here is Part II of Nikko’s Four Part series on Optimizing Facebook for Business. FROM NIKKO SAENZ: Welcome backkkk!! This is the second installation of this blog series. In case you missed Part One of this four part […]Read More

How To Optimize Your Facebook Profile for Business; Nikko’s Sales Blog

I raved a few weeks ago about our “Linchpin” Business Development Officer – Nicholas Saenz. I mentioned how he literally vacuums up all the sales and marketing books and blogs he can get his hands (or eyes) on. What I did not mention was that he also started an excellent blog – Nikko’s Sales Blog. […]Read More

Hazard Insurance & Mortgages – A Few Things To Know

Here are a few tidbits about Hazard Insurance, something that is required with every mortgage. 1. Hazard insurance is also known as fire insurance and homeowners insurance, and it should not be confused with mortgage insurance, which only covers the mortgage and not the dwelling. 2. Lenders require the “Dwelling Coverage” to match or exceed […]Read More

Lenders & Vendors = Reflection On You More Than You Realize

I was chatting with some very successful Redfin agents recently and I learned just how important strong vendor and lender relationships are. As most people know, Redfin agents do not work for commission, but instead get paid a salary and bonuses based primarily on “customer satisfaction.” Customer satisfaction is measured by the results of an […]Read More

Who Can Pay Closing Costs? Seller, Lender, Realtors; Happy Veterans Day

JVM Lending will be working a half day today because of the Veterans Day Holiday. We will, however, have a Mortgage Analyst “on call” all day and all weekend, per our usual practice. We frequently have transactions with closing costs as high as $20,000 with title, escrow, appraisal, underwriting fees, impounds, transfer tax, sewer lateral, […]Read More

Meltdowns, Earthquakes, Witches, & Regulators; Be Careful What You Wish For

When Heejin and I visited Portugal, we learned about the massive 9.0 earthquake that lasted for almost six minutes and devastated Lisbon in 1755. People fled to the river and coast to escape the destruction only to be hit by several massive tsunamis. The parts of the city that were not crushed by the earthquake […]Read More

Buyers’ “Story” Trumped Money; When Values Align

We recently closed a transaction for buyers whose offer was substantially less than numerous other offers. I wish I could say it was JVM that made the difference, but alas – we were barely a factor. What made the astounding difference was the “story” the buyers told. The seller was an urban farmer who lived […]Read More

Capping Mortgage Interest Deduction to $500,000; What Does It Mean?

The GOP’s tax bill has a provision to cap the mortgage interest deduction to loan amounts of $500,000 or less. To be clear, borrowers will not be ineligible for the mortgage interest deduction if they owe more than $500,000; borrowers will only be able to deduct interest that accrues against $500,000 of their mortgage, no […]Read More

An Amazing “Linchpin” Story!

Yesterday, I wrote about “Linchpins,” or people who go the extra mile with everything they do to make themselves indispensable. I work with so many linchpins that I hate to illuminate just one. But this individual’s story is so impressive that it needs to be highlighted. When he first started at JVM, he had spent […]Read More

Seth Godin’s Linchpin; Fun Read; Great Motivator; Necessary in Every Business

We love Seth Godin at JVM, as he is a brilliant author, blogger and marketer. One of our favorite Godin books is called Linchpin, another short and fun read we recommend for everyone. Godin’s primary point is this: Team members can no longer just carefully follow instructions at their job to get ahead; nowadays they […]Read More

When Character Doesn’t Count – Lending in 2017

There may be murderers and bank robbers with 800 credit scores who are eligible for the best mortgage financing available. This is b/c financing is available for anyone who can manage his/her credit and income, irrespective of his/her underlying character. This occurred to me for a couple reasons. First, there was an article in the […]Read More

Why Underwriters Request Inspections; Handyman Before Appraiser

We recently had an “as is” transaction blow up b/c the appraiser called out significant wall cracks and dry rot. Appraisers can turn a blind eye to minor deferred maintenance, but they have to call out major (visible) items or they will lose their license. When our underwriter saw our appraiser’s photos, she asked for […]Read More

Why Higher Interest Rates Are Good

After last November’s presidential election, rates shot up 3/8 to 1/2 percent and the real estate market seemed to come to a standstill. It scared everyone into thinking that higher rates would severely impact the real estate market overall. But, it was really just “uncertainty” that kept everyone on the sidelines, and not the higher […]Read More

Why We Stopped Brokering Loans & Started Banking: Appraisal Issues

JVM was a “mortgage broker” until 2014. Instead of underwriting and funding loans in-house like we do now (as part of a “mortgage bank”), we brokered our loans through various wholesale lenders or external mortgage banks. We originated and packaged the loans up front, but we shipped them off to be underwritten elsewhere. We stuck […]Read More

3 Ways to Avoid PMI When LTV Is Over 80%

There are 3 ways to avoid monthly Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) when a down payment is less than 20%: (1) Combo Loans; (2) Lump Sum or Single Payment PMI; and (3) Lender Paid PMI. Combo Loans employ 2nd mortgages to cover the loan-to-value portion that is over 80% (eliminating the need for PMI). We can […]Read More

You Need a Warm, Visual, Simple Website to Build Trust & Retain Clients; Content’s NOT King

I heard this excellent quote on a podcast yesterday, from a guest quoting her Rabbi: “When I was young, I admired people who were clever; now that I am older, I admire people who are kind.” I love that quote b/c it is another lesson that took me too long to learn. I only now […]Read More

DISC/Personality Tests For Every Hire & Yourself; Self-Awareness

It was my first day on the job at Wells Fargo Bank some 27 years ago, and I was riding up the elevator with the HR director who hired me. She looked at me and said, “You are going to be a star here…” But, I was not in fact a “star,” and I was […]Read More

6 Awesome Tips For Facebook Marketing; A Must in 2017

“Facebook is the internet.” I have read or heard that at least ten times in the last two weeks. If that phrase is not yet a cliché to you, you are probably not marketing enough or properly. In 2017, the most effective way to market is via social media, and especially via Facebook, b/c it […]Read More

How Long Does a Pre-Approval Take? And Why?

One weekend when I was on call for weekend leads, a borrower called me while he was shopping for groceries. I was able to effectively pre-approve him in about 15 minutes. I emailed a pre-approval letter to him and his agent, and 15 days later he owned a house (literally; the entire process went like […]Read More

More Lead Conversions! Speed, Double Dials, Fascinating Info

Most people know that “speed to lead” is everything in sales. But, most people don’t know the actual stats. In his excellent book, The Conversion Code (about Internet Marketing), Chris Smith shares some great data. If you call an internet lead back within five minutes of receiving it, you are 100 times more likely to […]Read More

Awesome Lessons From The Only Woman Fortune 500 CEO; #1 – Ask For Help

Katharine Graham was the only woman to head a Fortune 500 Company for most of her career, and also one of the most successful leaders, by far. She took over the reigns of the Washington Post Company in 1963 after her husband committed suicide. As an interesting aside, her husband ran the company b/c Katharine’s […]Read More

Calling Listing Agents; Doing What’s Best for Borrowers – Even If We Lose A Loan

Quick Reminder: Having your lender call the listing agent when you are making offers vastly improves the odds that your offer will get accepted. This of course assumes that your lender is articulate and can make a strong case. At JVM, we of course love to call listing agents, and we all rehearse the very […]Read More

How Fast Appraisals Can Equal No Appraisal Contingency

Our appraisals are completed within four business days of the time we receive a ratified purchase contract, on average. Getting an appraisal back so quickly benefits everyone b/c it eases minds and cements transactions. There is another benefit, however, that many of our referral partners take advantage of – they waive the appraisal contingency altogether […]Read More

Mind Sweeping; Quick Time Management Technique; Far Less Stress

I was at a coaching seminar recently listening to a time management guru. Her best piece of advice was something I have been practicing for years – she called it Mind Sweeping. Mind Sweeping is the practice of writing down everything that you have to do or are thinking about doing – personal, business, complex, […]Read More

No-Go on Escrow Holdbacks

We recently had a deal on a cute condo with a loft area. The issue was there was no railing on the area of the loft adjacent to the stairwell, so the appraiser called it out as a health and safety hazard (someone could literally fall down the stairs). The underwriter of course called for […]Read More

Deadline to File Returns Approaching; Advice to Borrowers Making Offers

It’s that time of the year again! We are approaching October 15th, which is the deadline to file 2016 taxes with the IRS if you previously requested an extension. This affects many of our pre-approved borrowers who are making offers, as we will need to verify one way or another that their tax returns have […]Read More

Appraised Value Often Does Not Equal Market Value

I share this story often during our Mortgage 101 Seminars. We once had a transaction in Berkeley involving a property that was listed for $850,000, and there were more than ten offers for over $1 million. The market value for that property was clearly over $1 million b/c there were so many buyers willing to […]Read More

What Ever Happened to APR? Annual Percentage Rate

Best quote of the day from the WSJ (Jason Gay): “Watching the Cleveland Browns is like watching a golden retriever make Thanksgiving dinner. Enthusiastic, yes, but not very successful.” I loved that b/c we work with all too many golden retrievers :). Every lender is required to quote an Annual Percentage Rate, or APR. APRs […]Read More

Communication; Communication; Communication

When Heejin and I were loan officers, we were spread way too thin. We had to do everything – talk to new buyers, engage Realtors, work on marketing, manage our teams, pre-approve files, research loan guidelines, put out fires, etc. As a result, we were never able to maintain the type of communication we would […]Read More

The “Yield Curve”; What It Is, and Why It Matters

After the 2008 meltdown, almost all of our borrowers insisted on only 30 year fixed rate mortgages b/c so many had heard horror stories about adjustable rate mortgages, or ARMs. The ARMs that earned the bad rap, however, were primarily sub prime adjustable rate loans with short 2 year fixed periods and very steep adjustments. […]Read More

Awesome Hiring Tip: Never Hire A Players!

Here is an invaluable hiring tip I recently heard on Noah Kagan’s fun and irreverent podcast. Mr. Kagan, an early Facebook employee and Silicon Valley superstar, was discussing how to easily “2x” your business with his guest, Jonathan Siegel (another Silicon Valley superstar). The tip: Don’t ever hire A Players. They are impossible to come […]Read More

Consult Lender Before Moving Money; Paper-Trailing Assets

We recently had a Realtor remind his client to talk to us before moving any money around, and it was a very pleasant surprise. Most Realtors and borrowers do not realize how stringent lenders have to be when paper-trailing all assets used for reserves, down payment funds, and closing costs. Today’s blog is a quick […]Read More

Sam Walton & Walmart; “Made In America” Awesome Book & Lessons

One of the books that most inspired Gary Keller (of Keller Williams) was Sam Walton’s Made in America. And having recently read the book, I can see why. The book is short, interesting and chock-full of great lessons (no matter what you might think of Walmart itself). If Sam Walton was alive today, he would […]Read More

Appraisals; Turn Times; Rush Fees; Tracking; Herculean Effort

We take appraisals far more seriously than most lenders. It costs us dearly, but it is well worth it. Rush Fees: First of all, we order every appraisal as a rush, and we eat the rush fee. We do this b/c we have discovered that paying the extra fee to appraisers helps get much higher […]Read More

Our Interest Rates vs. The Other Guys’ Rates; Rate Comparisons

I wrote Monday about the debacle Heejin and I endured after we chased interest rates in Texas (the bank lost our file for 17 days). Interestingly, the bank is now trying to save the deal and won’t take “no” for an answer, but we know there is no way it can perform in time. I […]Read More

Our Personal Experience With Big Bank Financing; Not So Good

Heejin and I are buying a property in Texas. B/c JVM is not yet licensed in Texas, we pursued financing with other lenders. B/c we are well qualified, Heejin submitted applications to numerous lenders so we could observe their processes and see what they had to offer. She focused on large banks and credit unions […]Read More

We Don’t “Mansplain” or “Torture”

We recently received a humorous response on our post-close survey and thought we’d share it. We never “mansplain” and are happy to answer every question a borrower can throw at us. Q7 Please let us know what impressed you in particular about JVM, if anything? Before choosing JVM, I was speaking with another lender. This […]Read More