Why Lenders Have to “Beat Up” Borrowers

Our well-heeled borrowers often get extremely frustrated when we ask them to chase down seemingly inane conditions. They will say: “I can just pay cash for the entire house… WHY do I need to provide this?” This happens so often that it prompted me to repeat this blog from a few years ago. BEATING UP […]Read More

Lenders Often Don’t Need Tax Returns

It is a common misconception that lenders always need two years of tax returns for income verification. They don’t. If borrowers are “W2 Wage Earners” only, with no self-employment or side income of any kind, lenders often only need two years of W2s and a month’s worth of paystubs for income verification. These “W2 only” […]Read More

Your Clients Will Google You, And You’re Losing Them

We work with an agent who closes 150 transactions per year, and her “Google presence” is practically perfect. While her Google presence is not the only reason she does so much business, it is a major contributor. When people Google just her name (and nothing else), the search results literally dominate page 1 of Google. […]Read More

Cash Out Vs. Rate & Term Refis – What’s The Big Deal?

Prior to the 2008 meltdown, as much 90% of all refinances were “cash out,” meaning borrowers increased their loan amount with almost every refinance. That percentage has since dropped to about 50%, as borrowers are more conservative nowadays and they don’t want to incur the extra cost associated with cash out refinances. Borrowers are allowed […]Read More

Buying Out Spouse/Partner = Refi; Not Cash Out or Purchase

We recently received the below email from a borrower who left us for what he thought was a lower rate.  “Hi Casey, The other lending company fell through and couldn’t get us a loan in time. Their customer support was horrible and wouldn’t provide me with a direct answer. We would like to see if […]Read More

The Main Step To Becoming a Social Media Influencer

I watched WFG Title’s “Ten Steps to Becoming a Social Media Influencer” yesterday, and step #1 was the best by far! Every Realtor and Lender should become an “influencer” of sorts b/c it all but guarantees a loyal referral base. A Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in […]Read More

7 Dangers From Falling for “Rate Quotes”

Our borrowers come to us constantly with rate quotes from other lenders, and that is all well and good b/c our rates are very low and we love competition! What is not good though is that those quotes are often misleading or inaccurate, or they can’t be honored at all. And worst of all from […]Read More

The Extreme Need for Nice – Part II

My wife Heejin recently received the below text from an agent: “I just LOVE your team. You and Jay did good. These people are such beautiful souls. Jenna really helped me yesterday with some issues that were encumbering being able to sign some disclosures and she was so kind, upbeat, and loving. Makes such a […]Read More

Appraisers Need Ratified Contracts & Comps That Close Prior to Inspection

APPRAISERS NEED RATIFIED CONTRACTS This is a reminder that we need a fully ratified contract (signed by all parties) before we can order an appraisal. This is a regulatory requirement and many appraisers won’t even accept orders without ratified contracts. Appraisers need ratified contracts so they can review all the terms within it to see […]Read More

Expect The Worst & Be Happier – Restraint, Logic, and Moving On

Years ago, we spent several hours and over five hundred dollars cleaning up a borrower’s credit. As a “thank you,” the borrower went silent on us, never paid us, and took his cleaned-up credit to another lender to finance his purchase. The borrower’s duplicity enraged me and there was nothing I could do about it, […]Read More

Seller & Lender Credit Guidelines

Here are a few quick reminders/guidelines for Seller and Lender Credits. If a credit is specified to be for a repair anywhere in a purchase contract, the repairs will have to be completed PRIOR to close of escrow. We will need to show proof they are complete with either an appraiser’s or a licensed contractor’s […]Read More

Comparable Sales Appraisers Can & CAN’T Use

Realtors often send our Appraisal Manager comparable sales (comps) to review for their upcoming appraisal appointments or for rebuttals when appraisals come in low. The problem is that we often cannot use the comps b/c they are so far outside of standard appraisal guidelines. This happened recently when an agent sent us comps that were […]Read More

Income Continuance – Three Years Is All We Ask

When my dog Kevin was issuing pre-approvals based on Desktop Underwriting (DU) findings only, one of his biggest mistakes was not verifying “Income Continuance.” Lenders cannot use Child Support, Alimony, Disability, or Retirement income unless they have proof that it will continue for a minimum of three years after close of escrow. For example, if […]Read More

Ego, Hubris, Hot Markets, & WAMU’s Collapse

I don’t share this often but I used to play in a summertime three-on-three basketball league with Steph Curry and LeBron James (they were my teammates). We not only went 25 and 0, we held every other team scoreless! After two seasons of this, I knew I was great at basketball. So, I dropped Steph […]Read More

How Much Do HOA Dues Zap Purchasing Power?

We recently had a buyer who desperately wanted to qualify for a condo purchase but could not b/c the HOA dues were $800 per month! This prompted me to remind agents and buyers alike of just how much purchasing power HOA dues extract from buyers. In the above situation, $800 of HOA dues equates to […]Read More

Appraisal Condition/Health & Safety Issues to Watch For!

Realtors are often frustrated about “condition” and “health & safety” issues that get called out by appraisers, and they come to us for guidance. They obviously want to avoid getting conditions called out by appraisers that will either cost too much to repair, delay closings, or kill deals altogether. Our Appraisal Manager, Jennifer Muzzall, provided […]Read More

Are Low Rates The “New Normal?” The Fed Is Irrelevant

For years I have been repeating the predictions of various market experts about how interest rates have to go up at some point. And for years, I have been dead wrong! My wrongness was only illuminated again with the recent dramatic drop in rates. All this only makes me think that low rates may now […]Read More

Get More Deals by Telling Millennials They’re Uncool :)

There is a light bulb in Livermore, CA that has been burning since 1901! It was illuminated (no pun intended 😊)  in this recent Planet Money Podcast. Comically, the NPR reporter flew all the way to Livermore to look at it when she could have just googled it here. She pointed out how lightbulb manufacturers […]Read More

When “Appraised” Value Is NOT Market Value

B/c the market is heating up again, we have had several appraisal issues recently where there were simply no comparable sales available to support the contract price (despite multiple offers at that price). B/c the agents involved in the transactions were frustrated, I thought it was necessary to repeat this blog. TEN OFFERS OVER $1 […]Read More

How Long Is a Pre-Approval Letter Valid? Forever, as long as…

We have over 800 pre-approved borrowers in our database – all closely tied to their respective referral sources I might add. As an aside, each pre-approval requires about two to four hours of labor, depending on complexity, with additional hours often required for scenarios, questions, advice, calling agents, etc. Our historic conversion rate for pre-approved […]Read More

Why FHA’s BETTER Than Conventional In Hot Markets

My wife Heejin was “on call” for weekend referrals yesterday, and she had two buyers who wanted to switch from FHA financing to 5% down conventional financing. The buyers were making offers over list price in very competitive markets, and they were convinced their offers would be stronger with conventional financing. And Heejin screamed,“NOOOOOO, DON’T […]Read More

House Flipping Back to 2006 Levels; Worried?

I get several calls or texts every week by someone offering to buy a condo we own in Scottsdale. What is particularly interesting to me is that the offers come from dialers at large call centers that house-flipping firms have set up to make nonstop calls. In other words, house flipping is a big business […]Read More

Unexplained Deposits, Seasoned Funds, Sources For Seasoned Funds

I mentioned yesterday how “unexplained deposits” on bank and investment accounts often create problems when transactions are in escrow. This is b/c lenders want to make sure all funds going toward a down payment are “seasoned.” “Seasoned” means that the funds have been in a borrower’s bank account for over two months and/or that the […]Read More

I Caught My Dog Issuing Pre-Approvals (True Story)

I made the horrible mistake of teaching my dog Kevin how to run Fannie Mae’s automated loan approval software, known as Desktop Underwriter or “DU.” It was easy to teach him b/c all he has to do is gather info from borrowers and input data. BUT, THIS is why it was a huge mistake! Without […]Read More

Eliminating Friction – Most Important Value Proposition?

The avoidance of “friction” is becoming one of the most important value propositions a business can offer. Uber, Amazon, PayPal, Venmo, iTunes, Instacart, TaskRabbit, and ZipRecruiter are great examples of businesses that exploded solely b/c they eliminated friction (they made shopping, securing services, and making payments vastly easier). Even more traditional companies have mastered eliminating […]Read More

Three Important Tax Filing Tips for Homebuyers

With Tax Season upon us, I want to share a few reminders: If income is lower this year, self-employed borrowers might want to file an extension instead of filing tax returns. This is b/c lenders will often correlate to the most recent year only if income is declining, and that will of course adversely impact […]Read More

Asset Loans; Qualifying With Assets Instead of Income

I touched on Asset Loans in December but I wanted to elaborate on them b/c they are such a great alternative for borrowers with substantial assets but limited documentable income. There are three basic types of Non-QM Asset Loans that we offer. Asset Depletion Loan: We simply divide total liquid assets by 120 months and […]Read More

Godzilla vs. Bambi; Zillow vs. JVM

In the classic 1969 film, Godzilla vs. Bambi, the action only lasts for 90 seconds as Godzilla stomps Bambi into oblivion with a single step. But, that was in 1969. In 2019, the much smarter Bambi would be empowered and waiting for Godzilla with superior technology and nimbleness. He would most certainly take Godzilla out […]Read More

Don’t Deposit Gift Funds, Please! (Straight to Escrow)

It is well-known that buyers can use “gift funds” from a relative to help with the purchase of a home. But, we want to again remind buyers to not deposit gift funds into their personal accounts. Buyers should instead tell their “donors” (aka “gifters”) to hold on to their funds and to instead deposit all […]Read More

Too Busy for Big Houses! Too Old & Too Dated Too

I hike for five or six miles every weekend in the hills around one of the Bay Area’s most high-end housing developments. The homes are huge, stunning and fun to see, but the best part is the extremely elaborate backyards with vineyards, gazebos, massive pools, outdoor kitchens, terraces, fruit trees, playsets, sport courts, and immaculate […]Read More

Low Rates & Early Pay Off Penalties; Six Months Is All We Ask

Rates have fallen about 1/4 percent over the last few weeks and they are almost 1% lower than their peak only a few months back. As a result, everyone is rushing to refinance again, as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog. Mortgage lenders love the onslaught of business even though it fosters some major risks. One […]Read More

Beware of Lending Delays; Layoffs & Unexpected Refi Boom

2018 was an absolutely horrific year for the mortgage business. Interest rates were up significantly, all but wiping out most of the refi business. And overall purchase volume was down to boot. As a result, there was massive over-capacity in the mortgage industry so everyone started to compete with lower interest rates to maintain market […]Read More

Share Our Mortgage Info, Please! Educating Buyers With Awesome Content :)

One of our borrowers once told us – “I asked the same question to three other loan officers before I read the FAQs on your website, and none of the loan officers came close to explaining the answer as clearly as your FAQs.” We take enormous pride in the info we provide on our website, […]Read More

Condo vs. Townhome vs. PUD

This is another reminder that condos are not distinguishable from PUDs (Planned Unit Development units) by appearance alone. Attached side-by-side two-story units that all touch the ground can be zoned “CONDO” or “PUD.” Complexes with units that “float” (that do not touch the ground) will almost always be zoned Condo (PUDs must touch the ground). […]Read More

The Fed Halts Rate Increases; Good Or Bad?

Yesterday, the Fed announced that there will be no more rate hikes in 2019. And many people in the mortgage and real estate industries cheered. But a lot of economists and Fed-watchers are more worried than ever. Here is just one of many articles (from the WSJ) I read today illuminating serious concerns. The Fed […]Read More

Inflation: The One Reason No Buyer Should Get Cold Feet

Everyone knows there are many reasons to buy a home, including: (1) enjoying the pride of ownership; (2) locking in a low interest rate; (3) fixing your housing payment; (4) taking advantage of tax savings; and (5) building equity, among other things. But, most people do not appreciate how important real estate can be as […]Read More

Important Condo Considerations

Below are twelve things buyers and agents should consider if they plan to finance the purchase of a condo. I repeat these items from time to time b/c they are so important and b/c we continue to add so many people to our blog distribution list. Concentration Rule. No single entity/person can own over 20% […]Read More

Benefits of Playing By The Rules; College Admissions Scandal

Years ago I worked for a company that required all applicants to pass an IQ test before they could be hired. And I remember one applicant in particular who had just graduated from Harvard and who could not pass the test (even with two tries). Everyone was very surprised until we found out that the […]Read More

Curb Appeal for Marketability and “Appraisability”

BAD LANDSCAPING COSTS SELLERS $200,000 I live near a home that was on the market for nearly three months before it finally ended up selling for over $200,000 less than its original list price. In contrast, I live near another home that is the same size as the home I just referenced, and it recently […]Read More

When Does It Make Sense to Refinance? Rules of Thumb

When I was researching today’s blog, I came across a December of 2010 blog of mine that said: “The refi boom is officially over.” I found that amusing b/c rates were about 1/2 percent higher than they are today, b/c rates fell almost a full percentage point in 2011, and b/c we have had so […]Read More

Be Lucky; Hire Lucky; Luck Can Be Cultivated

A friend of mine was recently promoted to the executive (“C-suite”) ranks of a nationwide food conglomerate and he is now set for life. When I congratulated him and asked what he attributes his success to, he said it is just pure luck. That response made me laugh b/c he was decidedly unlucky in so […]Read More

Both VA and FHA Require Formal Condo Approvals; Alternatives

Most agents and borrowers know that condo complexes need to be “FHA approved” before a unit within the complex can be purchased with FHA financing. What many don’t know, however, is that VA has the same requirement. VA and FHA do not unfortunately maintain the same list of approved condo complexes. You can find FHA’s […]Read More

Only One In Five Willing To Apply for a Mortgage Online

We recently spent $26,000 on a new “point of sale” platform (Blend) to make it even easier for our borrowers to apply online. This was a lot for us as a small business, but it is nothing compared to the $80 million that Loan Depot spent to develop their online application and related technology. But, […]Read More

States With Lowest Mortgage Rates; CA Wins! Why? Bringing Low Rates To Texas!

Lending Tree recently did a study to see which states offered the lowest mortgage rates. And surprisingly, California (the land of all-things-expensive) won! The next best states for low mortgage rates were New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Utah, and Colorado. The worst five states for rates were New York, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Maine. WHAT INFLUENCES […]Read More

Rate Locks – How They Work; Who Pays; Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo was sued in 2017 for charging borrowers for “lock extensions” even though the delays that fostered the need for the lock extensions were clearly Wells Fargo’s fault. It was blatantly dishonest on the part of Wells and they deserved the resulting bad press; you can read more about it here. At JVM, we […]Read More

JVM’s Hiring – The Most Talented People in The World :)

We are often asked how we so consistently foster such great client experiences. And while it is partly a result of our training, systems and culture, it is mostly b/c we hire extraordinarily talented people. And right now, b/c we are growing so quickly, we are aggressively looking for additional qualified candidates. Our current compensation […]Read More

Post Close Client Touches – Homebot Part II

“Hey Jay, Just wanted to let you know that I love this tool. Truth is I actually look forward to it. I like the perspective. Really good business idea. Keep it coming. Thanks! Nick” The above quote is one of many similar comments we get from our past clients in regard to Homebot. I blogged about […]Read More

Impound or Escrow Accounts & Why We Do Not Recommend Them

Impound or escrow accounts are maintained by lenders or servicers and are set up to allow buyers to pay their property taxes and hazard insurance on a pro-rata monthly basis instead of on a semi-annual or annual basis. For example, if property taxes are $6,000 per year, and hazard insurance is $1,000 per year, a […]Read More

8 Ways To Lower Debt Ratios & Qualify for More

I repeat this topic from time to time b/c “Debt Ratios” weigh so heavily in our pre-approval process and b/c tight debt ratios so often prevent borrowers from buying the property they want. I explain what debt ratios are and how we calculate them in this past blog. 8 Ways to Lower Debt Ratios: Put less money […]Read More

JD Power’s Mortgage Lender Survey – What Borrowers Want

The lender you refer your clients to is a reflection on you. I repeat that often b/c it is true and b/c we meet so many agents who are having issues with their lenders. In light of this, JD Power’s recent survey of borrowers should be of particular interest, as it illuminates what borrowers look […]Read More