VA vs. FHA; Differences & Similarities

Realtors often confuse VA and FHA guidelines b/c the loans are somewhat similar in that they are both backed or insured by the Federal Gov”t. There are, however, many differences as well. This blog will set them all out. Appraisals – Similar The appraisal requirement for FHA and VA are largely the same. Our Appraisal […]Read More

Other Lenders’ Reviews – Horror Stories

READ THE REVIEWS!   We tout our 500+ Five Star Reviews so often, we’re becoming a broken record. So, I’ll resist the urge today (even though I just did it again :), and instead focus on our competitors’ reviews. I am not doing this to just beat up on competitors, as I know that is not […]Read More

Pre-Quals Vs. Pre-Approvals; Huge Difference!

PANICKED BORROWER ON VERGE OF LOSING DEPOSIT We had a borrower in contract come to us a few weeks ago in panic mode. The reason? He was on the verge of losing his earnest money deposit b/c his loan had just blown up at America’s largest mortgage lender. The loan officer had only done a […]Read More

Digital Marketing Is Hard! We Know B/c We Did It Wrong; Wasted $1,000s

EXPANDING BEYOND THE BAY AREA Last year we decided to expand beyond the Bay Area b/c our value propositions (speed, communication, appraisal quality, etc.) had become so established and effective. DIGITAL MARKETING Our primary goal was to market to Realtors to establish more referral relationships. The only way to do this on a mass scale […]Read More

Mark Cuban: “More Sales Cures All”

RATES AT 2014 LEVELS We have not seen interest rates this high since 2014, and both the mortgage and real estate industries are in panic mode b/c volumes are dropping. MARK CUBAN And, it reminded me of a blog I wrote in 2014 where I quoted something Mark Cuban said – “More Sales Cures All.” […]Read More

Appraisal Horror Story; Appraisal Success Story! “Appraisal Manager”

APPRAISAL HORROR STORY Back when we were in the Broker Channel (when we sent loans to outside lenders for underwriting), we ordered a purchase appraisal in a high-end Bay Area community called Orinda. The lender forced us to order appraisals through a nationwide Appraisal Management Company that kept most of the appraisal fee itself and […]Read More

Primary Residence Capital Gains Exclusion – Boring But Necessary

Homeowners can usually avoid capital gains taxes when they sell their primary residence for a profit. Individuals can exclude $250,000 of gains, and married couples can exclude $500,000 – if they meet certain guidelines. Most people in the real estate and mortgage industry are aware of this in general, but they don’t understand the specifics […]Read More

Condos Must Be FHA & VA Approved; Townhomes & PUDs Don’t Need FHA/VA Approval

We are asked this so often that we thought it warranted a reminder. An entire condominium (condo) complex needs to be FHA or VA approved before a unit within the complex is eligible for FHA or VA financing. Townhomes and PUDs (Planned Unit Developments) do not need to be FHA or VA approved, even if […]Read More

Seth Godin’s Excellent Blog; Short, Sweet & Always Good

One of the many benefits we’ve received from our coaching network was an emphatic recommendation to subscribe to Seth Godin’s Blog. We were reluctant b/c we get so many emails and info pieces already. But upon our friend’s urging, we did subscribe and we love it b/c they are always excellent and very short. So […]Read More

When Training Beats Experience! How and Why

“Thank you again for your hard work… It’s amazing you guys can close an FHA transaction in 2 weeks…the seller couldn’t believe how fast it happened – lol” We received the above comment from a very seasoned and busy escrow officer yesterday, and we thought we’d share it 🙂 WHEN BRAINS & TRAINING BEAT EXPERIENCE […]Read More

If You Owe Income Taxes, Can You Get a Mortgage? Yes!

INCOME TAXES OWED Income tax liabilities are a frequent issue during tax season, and worthy of addressing again. Borrowers can get mortgage financing if they owe income taxes, in most cases. This is important b/c borrowers often have limited funds for a down payment and cannot afford to pay their taxes without depleting those funds. […]Read More

Vodka And Lenders Are The Same! (OR NOT)

ALL VODKA’S ARE THE SAME Vodka is just pure alcohol with some water added, and there is no difference among the brands. I have been saying this repeatedly for years, much to the annoyance of friends and co-workers. My assertion was backed up recently by this excellent Planet Money Podcast, called “The Vodka Proof.” According […]Read More

Change Your “Mental Models” to Better Solve Problems

NEW “MENTAL MODELS” FOR PROBLEM SOLVING Our new Marketing Assistant, Lauren Cary, came across this excellent article about the need to shift your mental models, and she wrote most of the blog too. The article, which I highly recommend, is called “Mental Models: How to Train Your Brain to Think In New Ways,” and it […]Read More

First Time Homebuyer Program Limitations; First Time Homebuyer Programs = FHA

Our first time homebuyers almost always ask about special financing programs for first time homebuyers. With the exception of a few down payment assistance programs and city-specific programs, there are no effective first time buyer programs other than good old fashioned FHA. JVM has access to various first time buyer programs, but they have significant […]Read More

Seller Rent Backs & Owner Occupancy Rules

OWNER OCCUPANCY Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA all require buyers to move into a financed property within 60 days of close of escrow to meet owner-occupancy requirements. As a reminder, FHA offers only owner-occupied financing (FHA offers no investment property financing), and Fannie and Freddie of course offer much better terms for owner-occupants b/c […]Read More

The Need for Coaching & Networks; Our Experiences

BAD COACHING EXPERIENCE Years ago, I had a business coach insist that I join the Rotary Club. Nothing against the Rotary Club, but it was not a fit for me and it did not help our business. The Coach was also egotistical and bombastic, and I did not enjoy his calls. I also didn’t enjoy […]Read More

VA Financing! Key Questions Answered & Explained

Today’s Blog was written by Abigail Martin from our team. We want to answer some common questions regarding VA loans to help our agents negotiate and close more VA purchases. VA loans represent one of the most competitive financing options available with respect to interest rates, fees and down payment options. In addition, VA loans are […]Read More

Great Tips for More Five Star Reviews! A Necessity!

FIVE STAR REVIEWS ARE AN ABSOLUTELY NECESSITY IN 2018 Numerous five-star reviews are an absolute necessity in 2018. You need them on multiple platforms as well. We sponsored a huge Realtor Mastermind Event on Monday where a gentleman named Cody Gibson (a huge KW producer and coach) spoke. One of the big takeaways was his […]Read More

25 Principles of Adult Behavior – A Must Read

A friend sent me these principles over the weekend. I loved them so much that I forwarded them to Heejin and our senior team members. They loved them as much as I did, and the 25 Principles are now part of our onboarding process for new team members. The principles were written by John Perry […]Read More

Interest Rates Remain a Gift – History Vs. Hysteria; Look at the History, Please

PANIC OVER RISING RATES Borrowers, Realtors, investors and the markets as a whole all seem to be in a panic over rising interest rates. The only people who should be worried, however, are “refi-ologists” (businesses and companies who focus only on refinancing). For starters, higher rates can be a good thing for several reasons, as […]Read More

Appraisal Differences Explained! Conventional vs FHA vs VA

This blog was written by our Appraisal Manager, Beau McGlasson. Agents and borrowers alike often find the appraisal process confusing and opaque – it’s why we consistently field questions on what appraisers look for when inspecting a property and how agents can best prepare. Not only can appraisers’ opinions on value make or break a […]Read More

Work Less to Succeed More; A Necessity

“FREE DAYS” NECESSARY FOR FRESH IDEAS The renowned business coach Dan Sullivan’s primary message for all entrepreneurs is to work less. His system involves three kinds of days: Free Days, Focus Days and Buffer Days. Free Days involve nothing work related. Focus Days involve money-making activities. And Buffer Days are for preparation. Sullivan is adamant […]Read More

Is Inflation Back? Houses Are An Inflation Hedge!

INFLATION RAVAGED THE 1970s The only thing that ravaged the 1970s more than the bad music, hair and clothes was the high rate of inflation. High inflation rates hurt economies b/c they create uncertainty, increase interest rates and decrease purchasing power and economic investment, among other things. Inflation is primarily a result of the Fed […]Read More

Our “FAST 14” Returns! 14 Day Closes! What A Difference A Day Makes

RETURN OF OUR 14 DAY CLOSE! Closing in under 15 days is hard! Files need to be pre-underwritten, appraisals have to come back in five days, systems need to be airtight, and everyone needs to be on board! This is why we were amused to see some of our competitors tout 15 days closes when […]Read More

We No Longer Tout “Tax Benefits” From Buying; We Do Tout Inflation Hedge, Equity Building

WE NO LONGER EXPLAIN TAX BENEFITS Prior to the recent tax law change, we carefully explained the tax benefits from buying real estate to every borrower. This, however, is a reminder that we no longer tout tax benefits b/c the Standard Deductions for every taxpayer are now so large that few buyers enjoy significant tax […]Read More

Our Rates Are Lower; How & Why? Rate Surveys & Lending Channels

INTEREST RATES AT JVM We want to address interest rates again b/c we sometimes get compared to some of the large banks offering promotions. LOWERED OUR RATES First and foremost, our rates are now lower than ever, relative to our competitors. We have been able to lower our rates for several reasons: (1) New Investors: […]Read More

What Strategies Get Offers Accepted? Cash, or SAME as Cash

“I KNOW JVM; THEY’RE AS GOOD AS CASH” That is an exact quote from a listing agent to a buyer’s agent, after the listing agent saw our pre-approval letter. It is something we hear often, and it is something we tout often in our marketing. REDFIN COMPARED STRATEGIES ON THOUSANDS OF OFFERS Redfin evaluated thousands […]Read More

Why Interest Rates Should Finally Increase This Year; Or Not

INTEREST RATES PLUMMET AFTER 2008 MELTDOWN After the 2008 meltdown, mortgage interest rates plummeted from the mid 6% range all the way down to the low 3% range at various times. More recently, mortgage rates have hovered in the 4% range. Over the last ten years, I have repeated pundit predictions of imminent rate increases […]Read More

Lessons from President Grant – Avoiding Victimhood

A good friend of mine gave me Ron Chernow’s 960-page biography of President Grant for Christmas, and I not only loved it, I found it wonderfully inspirational. President Grant failed miserably time and again; he was cheated and lied to by his family and closest friends over and over, and he endured viciously unfair insults […]Read More

Low Appraisal – Options for Buyers

As soon as we receive a low-value appraisal report, we work quickly to analyze all options (usually in the order below) with both the realtor and the client. We always strive to resolve a low appraisal issue within 1 business day, as long as both the realtor and borrower are fully responsive and on board. […]Read More

Leveraging Yourself Virtually with MyOutDesk

We often encourage Realtors to leverage themselves by hiring an assistant, but many are afraid to take the leap. They often have no idea how to hire someone, or they are simply afraid of the overhead. A great solution may be MyOutDesk. MyOutDesk offers highly qualified staffing solutions with candidates from overseas at very affordable […]Read More

Pinot Noir Blind Taste Test; Tequila and Vodka Too

We have a lot of contests in our office, and fortunately many involve alcohol :). Most recently we had a contest for the best Pinot Noir under $30, and we thought we’d share the results. Walt Blue Jay was the clear winner with 5 votes! Further results below: WINNER: Walt Blue Jay – $30.00 2 […]Read More

Loans Must Be “Salable”; No Exceptions No Matter How Strong a Borrower Is

Major mortgage companies have gone out of business entirely b/c they could not sell a large block of their loans on the secondary market. Salability is an enormous concern and potential risk for every mortgage company. Mortgage banks fund loans with large warehouse lines or lines of credit. They then sell the loans on the […]Read More

Need Income and Bonus History

We often have self-employed borrowers come to us who are rolling in profits and cash, with perfect credit and everything else a good borrower needs. BUT, they do not qualify for conforming financing. The reason is that they often lack the necessary income history. We almost always have to average the last two years of […]Read More

Scott Galloway’s Excellent Career Advice! Good for All Ages

EXTRAORDINARY CAREER ADVICE Scott Galloway, the CEO and founder of L2Inc., churns out some of the most informative and entertaining videos on the internet. A few months ago, he provided this short video with career advice that I have been meaning to share for some time b/c it is so accurate and entertaining. If you […]Read More

Are 2 Kitchens Allowed? Garage Conversions? Friendly CPAs

2 KITCHENS USUALLY NOT ALLOWED This question comes up often, so we thought we’d revisit it. Lenders will usually lend against a property with two kitchens IF both kitchens have permits. If one of the kitchens is not permitted (also known as unwarranted), lenders will usually not lend against the property, primarily b/c the extra […]Read More

$5.4 Trillion of Home Equity; How To Tap It? HELOC or Cash Out Mortgage?

CONFORMING AND FHA LOAN LIMITS This is a reminder that Conforming and FHA Loan Limits are up for 2018.             $5.4 TRILLION OF HOME EQUITY A recent article in The National Mortgage News reported that there was $5.4 trillion in home equity in the U.S. in 2017. $3 Trillion of […]Read More

Testimonials = Necessity; EASY To Get With Reach150!

BUSINESS DEPENDS ON REPUTATION AND TESTIMONIALS Much of our business success depends on referrals and online reputation, and prioritizing this part of our business is essential to thrive in today’s market. With respect to borrower testimonials, we have had enormous success with Yelp, with over 250 Five-Star Reviews at last count. The mainstay of our […]Read More

We Wish You Bad Luck! The Obstacle Is The Way :)

All of us are excited to embark upon the new year, full of promise and goals and great things to come. But – it is extremely important to remember that all will not go well, as such is life. And some things will go horribly awry. And horrible things are often the best things that […]Read More

Debt Ratios Explained; Very Important! Not Boring – I Promise

OK – this probably is boring, but it is super important b/c almost every competitive mortgage loan available requires some sort of income verification and debt ratio calculations. This is a good thing b/c it ensures borrowers can actually make their payments (unlike the pre-2008 mortgage world). Many borrowers and Realtors are confused about debt […]Read More

Five Most Important Things Every Real Estate Agent MUST DO to Crush It in 2018

27,000 Things Realtors MUST DO… There is literally an endless supply of lists of things every real estate agent “must do” to crush it in 2018. At last count, there were about 27,000 “must do’s”, including writing business plans, reading more books, negotiating better, finding your niche, eating frogs, meditating, etc. Fortunately for everyone, we […]Read More

Predicting the Future, and Happy New Year!

PREDICTING THE FUTURE In 1893, Chicago hosted a hugely successful “World Fair” where governments, companies and individuals showcased the most promising technologies of the time. Scientists and inventors were asked in a poll to name the technologies that would most influence the next hundred years. And – not one person named the automobile. They simply […]Read More

Kindness As A Business Model! Simple, and It Works!

TURNING AROUND JVM We did a lot of things in 2014 to turn around JVM that we discuss often in this blog. But there is one thing we don’t often mention: Heejin and I became nicer. I thought of this b/c a friend recently suggested that I subscribe to Seth Godin’s very short and excellent […]Read More

Why I’m the Least Attractive Person at JVM; Key to Happiness: Other People

GREAT COLUMN ABOUT HAPPINESS Scott Galloway (CEO of L2 Inc) recently tweeted this excellent column from the NY Times about the key to happiness, and I thought it was well worth sharing. The column is titled “Happiness Is Other People” and can be found here. ONE HOUR FOR GROOMING? The first interesting thing that really […]Read More

Tax Bill Passes; Advice: Defer Income; Prepay Property Taxes NOW; Move to Texas :)

A few points about the GOP’s Tax Bill Deductions: Mortgage Interest Deduction: Current homeowners will be grandfathered in and still allowed to deduct interest against $1mm of mortgage debt. Starting in 2018, however, buyers will be limited to $750,000 in mortgage debt, and interest against home equity lines will not be tax deductible. State and […]Read More

Condition Issues Again; Inspect The House Prior to Appraisal; Fast Appraisals

ORDERING RUSH APPRAISALS TO SPOT CONDITION ISSUES UP FRONT One of the reasons we order ALL appraisals as a “rush” (and eat the rush fee :)) is b/c it allows value and condition issues to surface right away. If we get the appraisal back within five days, we have ample time to address problems, or […]Read More

JVM’s “Don’t List”; Actions to Avoid After Getting Pre-Approved

Over the years, we have seen hundreds of borrowers knock themselves out of qualifying range after getting pre-approved. To avoid this, we send a link to the below list of “actions to avoid” with every pre-approval letter we send. These actions do not always disqualify borrowers, but they do prevent lengthy delays and the need […]Read More

Bitcoins, Bubbles, Burning Bankers; Beanie Babies

In 1307, King Philip IV of France couldn’t pay his massive debts to the Knights Templar. So naturally he accused them of false crimes and burned them at the stake. I stole that story from a recent WSJ article called Hooray for Bitcoin. It illustrates two things: (1) it’s an excellent way to eliminate your […]Read More

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