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

Bankruptcy Seasoning Requirements – 0 to 7 Years

Here are the seasoning periods necessary after a borrower files for bankruptcy protection. FHA Financing with 3.5% Down Chapter 7 (Debt Liquidation) BK: 2 years from discharge Chapter 13 (Debt Payoff Plan) BK: 0 years with court approval if borrower is still in the BK. Conventional Financing All Bankruptcies: 4 years from discharge Jumbo Financing […]Read More

Marketing & Lead Gen – “There Is No One Thing”

We work with a Keller Williams agent who closed 140 transactions last year (over $100 million in sales). When people ask her what she does to generate so much business, she always says: “There’s No One Thing.” Her comment always amuses me too b/c the namesake of her brokerage (Gary Keller) wrote a famous book […]Read More

The Importance of Perfect Shoelace Tying

John Wooden was one of the most successful people of all time, and his amazing record as UCLA’s basketball coach is proof of his success. He won 10 NCAA championships, and had a stunning 80% win/loss record. One of our favorite stories is how he started every season with the most fundamental of lessons: how […]Read More

Bedrooms 101 – Everything You Must Know About Bedrooms

When my wife Heejin and I visit Austin, Texas, we stay (via Airbnb) in a small two bedroom bungalow that is worth close to $800,000.** If that same bungalow had three bedrooms though, it would be worth $50,000 to $75,000 more. In many Bay Area markets, those numbers would be much larger. ** Quick Tip: […]Read More

Divorce Season; Things to Know About Mortgages and Divorces

As a friend in the industry reminds me every year, “divorce season” is now upon us. People don’t like to file for divorce around the holidays or during hectic summers, so March turns out to be the peak filing month. With that said, I am repeating key information that everyone should know about mortgages and […]Read More

Rethinking Yelp – Why We Hate Them and Love Them

Here is an irony – some of the worst reviews on Yelp are of Yelp. They average two stars, and you can see them here. Credit to Yelp for not filtering them. WHY WE HATE YELP We hate Yelp b/c they seem to randomly filter our best reviews, they charge a fortune for their advertising […]Read More

When “Pa” Didn’t Wear Underwear; Authenticity In Marketing

My daughter recently had me read a fascinating book called Prairie Fires. It was basically the “true story” about Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of all the “Little House” books. It turns out that the “Little House” books were almost entirely fictional and just carefully edited for mass read appeal; they were all about “a […]Read More

Property Condition: Old, Tired, Worn Is OK; Health/Safety/Structural Issues Not OK

We once had a Realtor call us about a property that was formerly used for the “production of medicine” (aka an illegal weed farm). He asked whether the appraiser would call out the holes in the floor (for ventilation and grow lights) and the damage caused by the angry guard dog. The answer was yes, […]Read More

Five Misleading Closing Cost Tricks the Big Banks Play

We sent out this blog right after the New Year and feel it is worth repeating now, as we’ve seen the below scenarios play out more and more recently. We have been stealing a lot of loans lately from the big banks b/c our service is better and our rates are lower. As a result, […]Read More

How Points, Origination Fees and Lender Credits Affect Rates

In Friday’s Blog, I pointed out how many things affect a buyer’s interest rate, including Credit Score, Loan Amount, Property Type, Lock Period, LTV, etc. But – I received questions asking how “points” and “origination fees” affect rates – the subject of today’s blog. POINTS, ORIGINATION FEES, & DISCOUNT POINTS Even though distinctions can be […]Read More

There Is No “30 Year Rate;” Many Factors Influence A Buyer’s Rate

We often have buyers or agents ask: “What is your 15-year rate today?” Or “What is today’s interest rate?” We always respond by explaining there is no single rate, b/c the market moves so often and b/c there are so many things that affect an individual borrower’s rate. Here are factors that influence an individual’s […]Read More

When Buyers Need to File Taxes Early?

In Monday’s Blog, I explained why buyers often do not need to file 2018 tax returns until October. But there is one case when buyers should file taxes as soon as possible. Self-employed buyers should definitely file ASAP if their 2018 income was higher than 2017’s (if they want to qualify for a larger loan […]Read More

Learning (a lot) From Dutch Bros Coffee!

Dutch Bros Coffee absolutely amazes me b/c they continue to open up new stores and thrive in the ridiculously crowded coffee shop field. There are many factors behind their success but one stands out above all of the others. Dutch Bros is an Oregon-based chain of over 800 drive-through coffee shops in the western U.S. […]Read More

When Do Buyers Need to File 2018 Tax Returns?

Lenders don’t actually need 2018 tax returns until October in most cases, as October 15th is the final deadline for filing. After April 15th, lenders will require 2018 tax returns OR a copy of the request for an extension that was sent to the IRS. If buyers provide a copy of their extension request, they […]Read More

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

Unison is a company that contributes funds towards a purchase in exchange for a percentage of a property’s appreciation. Again – Unison only takes a share of a property’s appreciation, and not a share of the “total equity” like many people mistakenly believe. This type of down payment assistance is excellent for: Buyers with tight […]Read More

“It Takes At Least Ten Years to Build a Real Business”

BONOBOS FOUNDER GOES THROUGH HELL I was listening to the Bonobos (clothing) founder on the “How I Built This” podcast yesterday, and he was discussing the overwhelming issues he faced while trying to get his company off the ground. Among other things, he ran out of money and could not make payroll, he had a […]Read More

VA Loans – The Bad and The Good

I blogged about VA loans in October, explaining that they are the best deal in the mortgage world. VA loans have low interest rates, no mortgage insurance, and they allow for 100% financing. You can read my entire VA blog here. DRAWBACKS TO VA LOANS Despite all the benefits of a VA loan, there are […]Read More

Call Center Horror Story :) The Need for Training & Skill

CALL CENTER FAIL Last week a borrower came to us to discuss her refi b/c she had lost trust with the lender she was working with (America’s largest non-bank lender). In any case, she was trying to refinance the house she lived in but it was owned by her Dad and she was not on […]Read More

Another Gov’t Shutdown Update; Must Be On Title If On Loan; Title Only

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN NOT AN ISSUE FOR MOST BORROWERS I read recently that there are buyers waiting on the sidelines b/c of concerns about the government shutdown. They shouldn’t be b/c the shutdown is not affecting that many buyers. There are some issues causing delays such as furloughed employees not being able to close until they […]Read More

Digital Marketing Is NOT What You Think It Is

We work with an agent who closed 140 transactions over the last year, totaling over $100 million in sales. And when you google her, she literally dominates Page 1 of the search results, with everything popping up – Yelp, Google Reviews, Zillow, Reach 150, Realtor.com, Google Business Info, LinkedIn, her website, etc. Is this the […]Read More

Why Rates Matter So Much Now

GOV’T SHUTDOWN UPDATE The IRS has agreed to process tax transcripts (tax return verifications). This is good news, as this could have held up the funding of numerous loans. REALTOR DROPS LOAN OFFICER B/C HIS RATES WERE TOO HIGH My wife Heejin recently visited a Realtor who had been using the same loan officer for […]Read More

Hire Skill Over Experience – Like Clemson & Silicon Valley

I don’t watch college football, but I do read the headlines and follow the drama b/c the stakes are so high for the coaches, schools and players (who hope to go to the NFL). That is why this recent headline in the WSJ caught my eye: How Clemson Emulated Silicon Valley To Win a National […]Read More

The Fed Lost Control Over Interest Rates; Now What?

RATES AT 8 MONTH LOW Rates are at an eight-month low right now – about 1/2 percent lower than they were at their peak in October. I should add though that they still remain about 1/2 percent higher than they were last year at this time. So, did the Fed finally achieve its stated goal […]Read More

An Homage To My Hero Herb Kelleher of SW Airlines

I learned this morning in this WSJ editorial that SW Airlines founder Herb Kelleher passed away recently. The man is one of my heroes b/c his entrepreneurial exploits are the stuff of legends. He built one of the world’s mightiest airlines and made air travel far cheaper for everyone despite ferocious opposition from the entrenched […]Read More

Max Number of Financed Properties

We often see borrowers with multiple financed properties nowadays b/c so many of them have been on buying sprees since 2008. Having more than four financed properties used to be an issue b/c so many lenders and investors were excessively restrictive after the 2008 meltdown. But, guidelines have definitely softened and there are now multiple […]Read More

When Renovation (203k) Loans Are Not Practicable

Renovation loans, also known as “203k” or “Homestyle” loans, are an awesome resource for properties that are badly in need of major repairs or updating. These loans allow buyers to finance major home improvements with their initial purchase money mortgage by increasing the mortgage to cover the cost of improvements. For major repairs required by flood, […]Read More

Two Areas Big Banks Beat Us: CRA and Private Banking

I mentioned yesterday that we have been beating the “big banks” across the board on the interest rate front. But, there are two areas where we rarely beat the big banks in rate: CRA Loans and Private Banking. CRA LOANS CRA stands for Community Reinvestment Act. It is a law that “encourages” (aka requires) banks […]Read More

Five Misleading Closing Cost Tricks the Big Banks Play

We have been stealing a lot of loans lately from the big banks b/c our service is better and our rates are lower. As a result, the big banks are using some very aggressive and often misleading tactics to win borrowers back. These tactics include massively understating closing costs and then implying that their closing […]Read More

The Beverly Hillbillies Recession Prediction – A Recession Is Coming For Sure!

CURING THE COMMON COLD When I was a kid I loved a TV show called The Beverly Hillbillies. It was about a family of hillbillies who struck oil, got rich and moved to Beverly Hills. The family matriarch was Granny and she had a cure for the common cold that made the family’s banker (the […]Read More

Great Lessons from Budweiser

I am reading a fascinating account of Anheuser-Busch’s (Budweiser’s) rise and fall in a book called Bitter Brew. The book mostly illuminates how not to run a business or live a life, as the Busch family managers were often conniving, back-stabbing, misogynistic, vindictive, womanizing, arrogant jerks. It is amazing that the company thrived for as […]Read More

How The Government Shutdown Will Affect Mortgages

Many people are wondering how the government shutdown will affect the funding of mortgages. The last time we endured a protracted gov’t shutdown was in 2013 when it lasted for 16 days. PRIMARY CONCERNS: TAX TRANSCRIPT (4506t) VERIFICATIONS AND FLOOD INSURANCE At that time, the only major holdup had to do with Tax Transcript Verifications […]Read More

Trader Joe’s and In-N-Out: Fans, Not Customers

We give every new hire a copy of a book about In-N-Out Burger. We do so b/c In-N-Out is a great example of business that thrives with no marketing at all b/c its extraordinary customer service, systems and focus on quality keep customers coming in droves. In-N-Out’s story is simply a great business lesson for […]Read More

Surprising Reasons Why People Are Refinancing

The Fed raised short-term rates again yesterday but rates still remain much lower than expected. Part of the reason is that investors think the rate increases will hurt the economy at this point. As a result, investors moved from stocks to bonds and this demand for bonds keeps rates lower than expected. In any case, […]Read More