Rapid Re-Scores; We Can’t Charge Borrowers

RAPID RE-SCORES We often do a “rapid re-score” to repair a borrower’s credit for a variety of reasons: (1) to raise a borrower’s score above a minimum requirement, such as 700 for a HELOC or for Jumbo financing (more important than ever in this post-COVID lending environment); (2) to improve a borrower’s interest rate, as […]Read More

Condition Issues; What’s “Lendable”; Don’t Disclose in MLS if “As Is”

We recently had an “as is” purchase almost blow up again b/c condition issues were disclosed in the MLS. This is another reminder to make sure the MLS references no significant condition issues if a transaction is “as is.” Both appraisers and underwriters review MLS and neither can turn a blind eye to condition issues […]Read More

Why Borrowers Should Not Pay Points to Buy Down Interest Rates

This is a topic I touch on or repeat at least once per year b/c borrowers continue to ask us if they “should buy down their rate,” and our answer is almost always “no.” EVERYONE WHO PAID POINTS IN 2009 WASTED THEIR MONEY In 2009, when rates fell below 5% we refinanced our entire database […]Read More

Yes, We Have Inflation Now – ASSET Inflation; Real Estate = Inflation Hedge

When I tout real estate as an inflation hedge, I often get comments like this: “Dude, we are seeing DEFLATION now; INFLATION is the least of our concerns….” I then get examples of items that are far less expensive now such as gasoline, cars (way cheaper now for all the tech, speed and safety we […]Read More

Loans Just Got Tougher For the Self-Employed; Low Supply Keeping Prices Up

LOW SUPPLY/PENT UP DEMAND KEEPING PRICES UP Keith Robinson, Chief Strategy Officer of NextHome, pointed out in a post last week that there are about 30% fewer listings on the market this year, relative to last year. B/c there is plenty of pent up demand right now facing this decreased supply, home prices are remaining […]Read More

Habib’s Optimistic Housing Market Predictions; What About Agents Who Are Unable to Leave Home?

Everyone is asking and wondering what will happen to the housing market as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. And fortunately one of the most accurate prognosticators weighed in on the topic in this recent Housing News Podcast. The prognosticator is Barry Habib, CEO of MBS Highway. I quote him often b/c he is apolitical […]Read More

Why People Remain Bullish On The Housing Market; Foreign Buyers

There are numerous signs that the purchase market is coming back to life. Anecdotally, the number of pre-approval requests in our office are up over 50% from our March and April averages. The number of ratified contracts rolling in has surged to levels not seen since last spring, with 13 coming in last Monday alone. […]Read More

HELOCs Fading; Jumbo Rates Way Higher; FAQs

Two of the nation’s largest banks announced that they will no longer originate new Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs). This is of course in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We still offer HELOCs but only to 90% Combined Loan to Value (95% CLTV no longer exists) and only for purchase money financing. In Texas, […]Read More

Qualifying The Self-Employed – The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Self-employed borrowers can still qualify for mortgage financing, and in some ways they actually have advantages. THE GOOD Self-employed borrowers qualify with previous years’ tax returns, which fortunately will not reflect any slowdowns which might have occurred b/c of the COVID-19 crisis. Self-employed borrowers can qualify with 2018 and 2019 tax returns, or with 2017 […]Read More

Qualifying After Returning to Work

Many people are wondering how soon laid off and furloughed borrowers will qualify for mortgage financing once they return to work. EMPLOYMENT GAP UNDER SIX MONTHS If the layoff or furlough lasts less than six months, lenders will be able to fund most loans as soon as borrowers return to work (for conforming, FHA and […]Read More

What Your Clients Want to Know; Wage Inflation Too

All of our clients – past and present – want to know two things right now: (1) what is really happening to mortgage interest rates; and (2) what is happening to home values – particularly their own. I know this b/c we are getting so many inquiries from clients, and, more significantly, b/c so many […]Read More

New Reasons to Buy Now; Conforming Loan Limit Reminders

THE CRAZIEST THING HAPPENED LAST WEEK… A seller in an extremely hot market agreed to $15,000 of credits and concessions after the inspection reports came back. We are still seeing a lot of purchase activity and the above is one of the reasons why – sellers are suddenly much more flexible. In today’s fast-changing market, […]Read More

1st/2nd Combos Instead of Jumbo; Backup Offers; Temporary Loans; Self-Employed Borrowers

1ST/2ND COMBOS INSTEAD OF JUMBO This is a reminder that 1st/2nd combo financing remains a great alternative to jumbo.  CA 2nd liens are Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCS) while Texas 2nd liens are fixed-rate 2nd mortgages; HELOC lenders tie their loans to Prime Rate (3.25% currently); and most accept revised appraisal guidelines (exterior only […]Read More

Jumbo Market Gets Even Tighter as Wells Fargo Pulls Out; Forbearances Again

WELLS FARGO PULLS OUT OF JUMBO MARKET Wells Fargo announced yesterday that it is pulling out of the jumbo mortgage market, sending shock waves through the industry (b/c Wells is such a force). Many other jumbo lenders and investors (that buy jumbo loans) are following suit or tightening up their own internal policies in response […]Read More

Interest Rates Hit Record Low; Closing Cost Tricks Big Banks Play

CLOSING COSTS ARE ALMOST THE SAME FOR ALL LENDERS A buyer said this to me yesterday: “Both of the banks I visited offered to match your rate and give me $4,000 less in closing costs; I only went with you b/c you could close on time and the banks could not…” Both of those banks […]Read More

Appraisal Waivers; Appraisal Contingency Waivers; & DANGER!

Many lenders are again touting “Appraisal Waivers” as something unique that only they offer. Appraisal or “Property Inspection Waivers” are, however, available to every borrower obtaining a “conforming” loan (that conforms to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines). Fannie and Freddie simply use an algorithm that decides when to grant appraisal waivers. If we get […]Read More

More HOA Dues = Less House; Personal Litigation

HOA DUES = LESS HOUSE This is another reminder that HOA dues can significantly offset purchasing power, as HOA dues are a payment that affects debt ratios like every other monthly payment. In this low-rate environment, $100 of HOA dues can offset purchasing power by as much as $20,000. In other words, a buyer looking […]Read More

The “Mother” of All Testimonials :) (Winnie the Pooh Too!)

I try very hard to keep this blog as informative as possible, without inserting too much “Rah, Rah JVM!” material. But sometimes, I can’t resist – especially when even the “Rah Rah” stuff is informative. We work extremely hard to cultivate relationships with real estate agents, primarily by pointing out all we can do for […]Read More

5 Key Credit Reminders & Misconceptions

#1 – Consumer credit scores are not the same as mortgage credit scores. Borrowers often share their credit scores with us, as if those scores are set in stone. Those scores, however, are often generated by online “consumer” oriented scoring models that are much less stringent than the scoring models mortgage lenders employ. As a […]Read More

#1 Reason We’re Not In A Housing Bubble; Life Events & Housing

I am asked every week by friends, family, team members and clients if I think “now is still a good time to buy” and “do I think we are in a housing bubble.” Even though I blog about this often, everyone still wants reassurance. And some of the strongest reassurance I have yet to see […]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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Correlating to the Worst Credit on a Loan Application When There Is More Than One Borrower

When discussing credit with our borrowers, we often hear something like this: “My credit score is only 670, but don’t worry; my wife’s score is over 800!” Unfortunately though, lenders correlate to the worst credit on the loan application when there is more than one borrower. LOWER MIDDLE SCORE Most mortgage lenders check credit with […]Read More

Rent vs. Buy Calculators – Surprising Results

WHEN RENTING MIGHT MAKE SENSE My young nephew pays $4,250 per month to rent a property in San Francisco’s Marina District. This is a bargain rate given the lifestyle that renting in one of America’s most desirable zip codes affords – short commute, stunning views, awesome nearby parks, perfect weather, best restaurants, etc. His financial […]Read More

“Biggest Housing Boom In History Has Just Begun” SFR Rentals = Future

The above subject line is the title of this Forbes.com article. The author focuses on the supply of houses, shifting demographics and massive pent up demand. From the 1950s through the early 2000s, an average of 1.5 million new homes were constructed every year in the U.S. But, over the last ten years, we have […]Read More

Which Week Is the “Black Friday” For Homebuying?

  This was the title of a Housing Wire article I read last week. I am lifting this directly from the article: “Apparently, the best time to purchase a house is the first week of Fall. This time of year, buyers have less competition, more price reductions and greater inventory, according to realtor.com. Out of […]Read More

“PMI” or “Private Mortgage Insurance” Explained (Briefly)

PMI remains a great option for high-LTV financing in 2019, and all too many borrowers and agents do not fully understand how it works. First of all, PMI protects lenders (not borrowers) in the event of default. So borrowers with PMI will still be on the hook or liable for their mortgage debt even after […]Read More

Credit Inquiries – Way Too Much Concern

Over 500 borrowers come to JVM every month seeking mortgages. And way too many of them are far too concerned about credit inquiries. It is our strongest borrowers who are often the most concerned, which is ironic b/c they are the least affected by credit inquiries. This is b/c credit inquires only affect a strong […]Read More

Adding Eggs & Why Agents Should Let Sellers Help Sell Their Home

  When General Mills introduced Betty Crocker boxed cake mixes in the 1950s, they included dried eggs. Aspiring cooks just had to add water to the mix in order to get a perfect cake. But, the cakes were so easy and so good that women felt guilty about deceiving people and sales lagged. So, General […]Read More

Home Sales Fall Despite Falling Rates; Is the End Finally Here? We Can Only Hope :)

TULIP MANIA In the 1630s, the Dutch experienced one of the world’s first major financial bubbles – Tulip Mania. They were all convinced that the price of the exotic (at the time) tulip bulbs would increase forever, not taking into account how easy it was to reproduce them and how the ridiculously high prices were […]Read More

Life Events That Influence Decisions to Move; Big Data

Zillow, with all of its faults, often publishes interesting articles. A recent example is Behind Every Move Is a Story (Life Events That Influence Decisions to Move). It is of course no surprise that major life events influence decisions to move – almost 70% of all movers surveyed experienced one or more major “life events” […]Read More

Why Cash-Heavy Buyers Should Put LESS Down – Liquidity and Investment Returns!

We have had so many “cash-rich” borrowers ask us if they should put more money down lately, that we thought we should repeat this popular blog. Long-story-short:  borrowers usually should not put more money down as long as they have optimal financing and are not paying mortgage insurance. Borrowers also should not be so gung-ho […]Read More

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

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

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

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