Simple Tech Solutions That Work! Insights from Top Agent Who Uses Them

I have attended hundreds of symposiums, talks, seminars, expos and events of every sort over the last 30 years – giving me more than enough exposure to learn what types of events are the most interesting and rewarding. The events I like the most are: (1) short overall (a few hours at most); (2) comprised […]Read More

Condition/Foundation Issues – How To Handle?

Agents often ask us about properties with condition issues and last week was no exception when an agent was looking at a property with major foundation problems. In light of this, I thought it was time to set out some of the options once again. I. DON’T TELL US 😊 (NON-DISCLOSURE) If lenders/underwriters are made […]Read More

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Required – Contract Provision?

Time and again, we have to send appraisers back out to re-inspect properties to verify the presence of both Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors. This is frustrating for us b/c the detector requirements have been in place in CA since 2010, the re-inspections can delay closings, and agents often inexplicably get upset with us […]Read More

Apology to Coldwell Banker! Rent Back & Max Financed Property Reminders

I want to extend my sincerest apology to Coldwell Banker, and particularly to all of the excellent Coldwell Banker agents we get to work with regularly! On Monday, I blogged about the shutdown of an excellent brokerage and brand (Climb) and my only point was to remind agents of the importance of fully establishing their […]Read More

4 Options for Buying Homes for Parents

We are often asked if buyers can purchase a property with “owner occupied” financing for their parents. Our answer is “it depends,” but the frequency of the question prompted me to set out four options below. I. SECOND HOME “Second home” financing is almost as favorable as owner-occupied financing, so this is a great option […]Read More

Legal Sources of Funds; FHA Purchase to $800,000

I received the following questions from a very seasoned agent last week: “I have a 3.5% down offer for $795,000 on my desk – A. Does FHA even go that high; and B. What are the legal sources of funds for a down payment and closing costs?” MAX FHA LOAN AMOUNTS In “high-cost areas” (most […]Read More

Major Brokerage Shutdown in Bay Area – Biggest Lesson?

Realogy to shutter Climb, integrate it into Coldwell Banker That was the Inman headline and news that shocked the Bay Area last week. It was so shocking b/c Climb has done a beautiful job building a formidable brand in the Bay Area since its inception in 2010. We at JVM had been watching it closely […]Read More

Lessons From a Gruesome Medieval Battle

  Nicholas Hook shoved his arrow into the soldier’s eye socket and kept pushing until he felt the arrow slide through the soldier’s gelatinous brain and finally come to a rest at the back of the skull… OK – the above is an “attention-grabber” (I hope it worked 😊) that actually happened in a book […]Read More

Rates Do NOT Always Go Down In Election Years

We have a great client who was holding off on a “no cost” refinance because he was convinced rates were going to fall further this year “because it’s an election year.” But fortunately, he finally locked in his rate last week, taking advantage of the temporary rate drop (caused by the Iran skirmish) right before […]Read More

Geopolitical Strife & Interest Rates; “Flight to Safety;” Trends

After I heard the news of the Iranian missile attacks against U.S. bases in Iraq, I 100% expected rates to be significantly lower this morning. And, I was 100% wrong. Rates are holding relatively steady. SKIRMISHES, WARS AND “FLIGHTS TO SAFETY” Typically when there is significant geopolitical strife (wars, skirmishes, threats of war) of any […]Read More

Why Now Is The Best Time to Buy – Again; Home Prices 8.45% LOWER In January

We beat this dead horse all too often but am beating it again because it is excellent information to share with potential buyers who may be on the homebuying sidelines for a variety of reasons. Mansion Global recently published a column titled With Recession Fears Diminished, January Is a Smart Time to Buy. Here are […]Read More

OLD Coaches Changing NFL – NOT the Young; Need to Innovate!

Ten years ago, the New England Patriots led the Indianapolis Colts 34 to 28 late in the 4th Quarter, and it was “4th and 2.” (even if you’re not a football fan, keep reading; the blog is short and there is a great message here 😊) New England’s coach, Bill Belichick, decided to go for […]Read More

10% Down to $1.24 Million; 5% Down to $1.07 Million

“High Balance” Conforming Loan Limits are now $765,600 in “High Cost” areas, which include much of coastal California including the Bay Area. These much higher conforming limits now allow buyers to purchase homes in the $1 million+ range with much smaller down payments – if they couple their first mortgage with a “piggyback” Home-Equity-Line-of-Credit (HELOC) […]Read More

Don’t Set Goals for 2020! Systems Please!

“GOALS ARE FOR LOSERS” That is the opinion of Dilbert cartoonist, blogger and author Scott Adams, and it is a point he makes in his 2013 best-seller – How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. NOTE: Mr. Adams has become a political commentator since he wrote that book and I am neither […]Read More

2010s = Best Decade Ever? Holy Change Batman!

We are pummeled with negative news every day b/c, frankly, it sells. Fortunately, at the end of every year numerous columnists remind us both of how much improvement we have seen and how quickly things have changed. From the Business Insider, we get Tech Products That Didn’t Exist Ten Years Ago. The list includes the […]Read More

Predictions for 2020 – Higher Rates; Tech Disruptions; Fight for Eyeballs; Collapse of Mortgage Industry; Start of Boom

I have read dozens of predictions of various sorts over the last month, so I thought I’d add a few of my own. HIGHER RATES While many pundits like Barry Habib (owner of MBS Highway) think there will be a recession next year, resulting in sharply lower rates (b/c all of our economic indicators have […]Read More

No “Business Funds” Please

We have a section in our “Buyer’s Guide” on our website titled Actions to Avoid After Getting Pre-Approved. It includes all kinds of actions that borrowers need to avoid so they don’t slow down their transaction or blow up their ability to qualify altogether. Actions to avoid include co-signing for another person’s debt; filing tax […]Read More

OK Boomer; Millennials At Their Best

“OK BOOMER” = WORD OF THE YEAR As an official baby boomer (born in 1962), I love to make fun of millennials, oblivious, of course, to how much they make fun of me back. According to this recent WSJ article, the phrase “OK Boomer” is likely to become the “Word of the Year.” The author […]Read More

Salesperson/Deal Maker vs. Manager; Lesson from Disney’s CEO

I recently read the autobiography of Disney CEO, Robert Iger, and I of course loved it. Iger started out at ABC television in 1974 and quite literally clawed his way to the top – enduring adversity and setbacks that few of us mortals could have ever endured. He ended up at Disney after Disney bought […]Read More

When You Should Drop Your Husband

Yesterday, I received the following text from a savvy agent we have worked with for years: “I received an offer on a property and it’s ‘wife only,’ stating ‘husband is starting a business and that’s why he isn’t on the loan.’ I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. Does this mean the husband has […]Read More

“Silver Tsunami” and “Golden Age” of Real Estate Coming Soon!

In October, I wrote a blog titled The Biggest Housing Boom In History Has Just Begun. I pointed out how a massive surge of millennials, hitting peak homebuying age, will foster a huge increase in demand for housing. But then in early November, I blogged about people staying in their homes much longer nowadays and […]Read More

Why We Ask For So Much When Pre-Approving Buyers

In April I caught my dog Kevin issuing pre-approvals and blogged about it. 😊 I was being mildly facetious, making fun of all the companies that issue “pre-approvals” based solely on “DU” findings and/or cursory reviews of pay-stubs, W2s and credit reports. “DU,” once again, stands for “Desktop Underwriter” and it is the software that […]Read More

Danger! Bill Belichick, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos & Nick Saban “Wannabes”

I received a surprising number of comments in response to Friday’s blog about Patriot’s Coach Bill Belichick. Most just appreciated the message, but several said they know or work for people just like Belichick, and this made me smile. I smiled b/c I read about or meet people all the time who try to channel […]Read More

Lessons From the Greatest Football Coach of All Time

I rarely watch sports but I love to follow the personalities b/c the drama is so extreme and the stakes are so high. B/c of this I recently read the book Belichick – The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time, and it was fascinating to say the least. Belichick, the head coach […]Read More

Fast Closes and Rentbacks to Compete Against Cash; CD Timing

Rentbacks: All lenders offer lower rates for “owner-occupants” than they do for investors. To qualify for “owner-occupied” rates, buyers must agree to move into the property within 60 days of close. Hence, most lenders allow sellers to rentback properties from buyers for up to 59 days. Competing Against Cash Offers: Writing an offer with a […]Read More

Bridge Loans Overrated? Why We Like Equity Lines

We are asked constantly about “bridge loans,” or temporary loans (usually 2nd mortgages) that sellers take out prior to selling. Bridge loans can be used for necessary repairs or for a down payment to allow sellers to buy a new home before selling their old/current home. There are several types of bridge loans available including […]Read More

Two Guaranteed Appraisal Killers: Overstating Square Footage & Including Expensive Personal Property In MLS/Contract

OVERSTATING SIZE BY INCLUDING DETACHED UNITS In September, I blogged about a Realtor who vastly overstated the value of his own home because he included the square footage of his huge, detached in-law unit in his total square footage estimate. His main house/dwelling was only 2,300 square feet while his detached in-law was 1,400 square […]Read More

No VA Loan Limits! FHA and Conforming Loan Limits Way Up!

VA LOAN LIMITS ELIMINATED – 2020 When “VA loans” first surfaced in 1944, the average cost of a house was only $8,600, making “loan limits” a nonconcern for the most part. As home prices rose, however, loan limits or maximum loan amounts were put in place just like they were for FHA and Conforming loans. […]Read More

When to Expect High Appraisal Fees and/or Appraisal Delays

We recently had a Texas transaction involving a large acreage with a 1 bedroom home and an accessory dwelling unit. It took us a few weeks just to find an appraiser willing to appraise the property (even though we shopped it very aggressively), and the fee was $1,000! The delay and the fee caught the […]Read More

Getting Good Reviews; Avoiding Bad Reviews; Best Platforms for Reviews

I love it when clients flame me or JVM about pretty much anything for two reasons: If they are flaming me directly, they are not doing so publicly on social media; and We use every morsel of feedback we get to constantly improve everything we do. We frequently discuss the importance of garnering authentic, five-star […]Read More

Online Reviews Losing Value/Can’t Be Trusted – Major Problem!

BIG COMPANY WITH BAD REVIEWS TRIED TO RECRUIT JVM A few years ago, a large nationwide mortgage bank was trying to recruit us. They had amazing technology and a very interesting CEO, so my wife Heejin and I agreed to meet with them to see what they had to offer. We researched the company prior […]Read More

5 Reasons to Keep a Gratitude Journal; Happy Thanksgiving Too!

JVM will be closing at 1 PM today for the holiday. We will, however, have Mortgage Analysts “on-call” all day today as well as on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as always. We will not have anyone on-call tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day. THE GRATITUDE “FAD” 😊 Every Thanksgiving we all get endless reminders to be grateful for […]Read More

Down Payment Assistance – Requires Seller Credit for “No Cash Out of Pocket” Closing

I blogged Thursday about Down Payment Assistant Programs and about the Chenoa program in particular. We received a lot of positive responses but I still sensed some confusion in regard to one of the points I made. THE NEED FOR SELLER CREDITS If buyers have very little cash on hand, they will need a seller […]Read More

How Hard Should You Work to Succeed?

A few years ago, we hired some extremely talented people from Silicon Valley who informed me after they started that people from Silicon Valley “usually don’t work that hard,” and that the famous “Silicon Valley ‘all-nighters’ are just myths.” Those people are no longer with us for several reasons, not least of which was the […]Read More

JVM Has A Down Payment Assistance Program; When Down Payment Assistance Programs Are Overrated

JVM offers the Chenoa Down Payment Assistance Program (DPAP). The “assistance” is a 3.5% (of purchase price) 2nd mortgage that can be coupled with either a 96.5% loan-to-value FHA loan or a 97% loan-to-value conforming loan. Hence, qualified borrowers can purchase a home with no down payment. The 3.5% 2nd mortgage is at a rate […]Read More

Special Deals for First-Time Homebuyers? Only at JVM!

Throughout my 25-year mortgage career, I have heard First-Time Homebuyers ask again and again if there are any “special deals” for First-Time Homebuyers. The answer has always been “no” for the most part. There are some low money down (3%) loans that only First-Time Homebuyers qualify for, but these loans are often hard to qualify […]Read More

“Rising Bond Yields Ease Recession Fears” Does It Matter?

The title of today’s blog is from this recent WSJ article (as always, we can send key excerpts to non-subscribers). The article quotes Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, as he pointed out how strong consumer spending and employment numbers indicate that the U.S. economy remains robust and should retain its health into the near future. Inflation […]Read More

How Do You Not Be Blockbuster?

I received a lot of feedback yesterday in response to my blog “Netflix vs. Blockbuster.” Some asked what I meant, and some asked how to find the next Netflix. What I meant is that we all need to make sure we don’t wake up one day to find that our industry has changed so much […]Read More

Blockbuster Video vs. Netflix – Lesson for All of Us

There are some business stories that surface over and over in the many business books I read. Here are a few great examples. Steve Jobs “borrows” the GUI and mouse from Xerox. Jobs famously visited Xerox and immediately saw the potential of the mouse and (Graphical User Interface) GUI, and the rest is history. Here […]Read More

No Lender Fees & Lender Credits = Higher Rates; No Free Lunches

We recently had a Texas borrower almost leave us for a competitor that was offering “no lender fees, no appraisal fee and a small credit for closing costs.” Fortunately though, the borrower sent us the “Loan Estimate” from the competitor and we were able to see that the competitor was charging a higher rate. In […]Read More

Only 21% Think “Now” Is A Good Time to Buy; Demographics Say Otherwise

CONFIDENCE IN BUYING DROPS Only 21% of Americans think now is a good time to buy a home, according to October’s Fannie Mae Housing Survey. This is down from 28% in September, and it shows that low rates do not drive purchase volume as much as many of us might suspect. In response to this, […]Read More

FHA Spot Approvals for Condos; We Are Getting Them Already

I mentioned a few times now how HUD is now granting “Spot Approvals” for FHA financing for single condo units within condo complexes that are not FHA approved. We have already made several requests for spot approvals and have received answers in about a week each time. To obtain a Spot Approval we need the […]Read More

People Staying In Homes Much Longer – Creates Inventory Shortage

“Fewer homes for sale is a big reason why even ultralow mortgage rates, record levels of home equity and a strong job market haven’t jump-started the sluggish housing market.” The above quote is from this recent WSJ article – People Are Staying In Their Homes Longer – A Big Reason for Slower Sales (we can […]Read More

Rate Buydowns Instead of Price Reductions; BETTER for Everyone!

We are starting to see a lot of stale listings at the higher end of the market. This is b/c “slow season” is starting and b/c the high-end market seems to be slowing in general due to affordability issues and anxieties about the market overall. As a result, we are seeing frequent price reductions that […]Read More

Airbnb/Vacation Rentals – Can Lenders Use Income? Are They Allowed?

When buyers purchase multiple unit properties or single family rentals, they can use future rents to help qualify for the purchase, as I mentioned in Friday’s blog. Multiple unit buyers can use the market rents from units to qualify even if the units are vacant. Similarly, investors, purchasing a single family residence, can also use […]Read More

Using Rental Income From Units to Qualify; Vacant Units; Illegal Units

I blogged recently about “House Hacking” (here and here) or buying multiple-unit properties in order to use the rental income to subsidize one’s mortgage payment. We received numerous questions in response that made for some great blog fodder, discussed below. How much rental income can we use? For all units that will not be occupied […]Read More

HELOC vs. Cash Out; Fed Cuts Fed Funds Rate

Borrowers in need of cash often wonder if they should get a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) or if they should just refinance into a larger first mortgage with “cash out.” The answer is “it depends.” HELOCs are usually tied to Prime Rate, which has been at 5% for several months and will likely […]Read More

Why Interest Rate Might Be Higher at Contract Time Than at Pre-Approval Time; Not a “Bait & Switch” :)

We pre-approved a borrower in August and sent him numerous estimated payment scenarios, based exactly on the interest rates available at that time. When he went into contract in mid-September, we locked him at a 1/4% higher rate than what we estimated in August. The borrower was upset b/c he thought we pulled a “bait […]Read More

House Hacking Part II: Co-Buying; Sufficiency Test; Fourplexes

I received a lot of feedback in response to Friday’s blog about “House Hacking,” or the strategy of buying two to four unit properties in order to use the rental income to subsidize a mortgage payment. One successful Bay Area Agent sent me the following message: “… This is the gospel I’m always preaching to […]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