How Much is an “In-Law” Unit Worth? Less Than You Think

REALTOR MISSES VALUE OF HIS OWN HOME BY $500,000 Years ago we were refinancing a Realtor who insisted his remodeled 3,700 square foot home was worth at least $1.5 million. We were therefore shocked to see the appraisal come in under $1 million. We reviewed the appraisal and quickly realized why it was so low. […]Read More

Top Five Options For Low Appraisals

Whenever an appraisal comes in under contract price, we work quickly to consider all options with both agents and buyers.  We can usually resolve appraisal issues within one business day if everyone is responsive.  Below are five of the options available when an appraisal comes in under contract price. 1. Rebut the appraisal. This approach […]Read More

When Zillow Misleads Homeowners

First, I reluctantly have to admit that Zillow really does have impressive algorithms, that sometimes yield surprisingly accurate results. But, Zillow also often badly misleads homeowners, creating huge issues for lenders and agents alike. A few years ago, a friend of mine was irate when his appraisal came in $75,000 lower than Zillow’s “Zestimate®.” But […]Read More

The Real Cost of Waiting To Buy

Cost of Waiting to Buy in 2013 We remind our clients of this particular story frequently, as it illuminates why waiting is almost never going to save them more money: In 2013, we had a borrower looking to buy in Oakland, CA and she was obsessed with getting the absolute lowest possible price. As a […]Read More

5 Characteristics of Agents Who Can Survive in Any Market

Click the button below to download your own copy of the Unlocking the Secrets of Real Estate’s New Market Reality! This 17-page eGuide will discuss the subtle change that caused a revolution in this industry, the opportunities available to those who embrace it, and the five characteristics of an agent who will succeed in the New Market […]Read More

FHA & VA Myths

LOAN OFFICER QUOTES RIDICULOUS FHA RATE We hosted a large first-time homebuyer seminar last week and one of the attendees had just been pre-approved by another lender for FHA financing. The loan officer convinced her that she was only marginally qualified, that FHA loans are harder and that FHA rates are higher. He quoted her […]Read More

8 Ways To Lower Debt Ratios & Qualify for More

We repeat this topic from time to time because “Debt Ratios” weigh so heavily in our pre-approval process and because 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: #1 – Put less […]Read More

12 Things To Consider Before Buying A Condo

Below are twelve things buyers and agents should consider if they plan to finance the purchase of a condo. We remind our clients of these items from time to time because they are so important. Concentration Rule. No single entity/person can own over 20% of the units in the complex. Prior to 2018, the ownership […]Read More

The Best Way To Get An Offer Accepted In A Hot Market

Buyer’s Story Wins The House! We recently closed a transaction for buyers whose offer was substantially less than numerous other offers. I wish I could say it was JVM that made the difference, but alas – we were barely a factor. What made the astounding difference was the “story” the buyers told. Here’s why having offer […]Read More

The Real Cost of Waiting To Buy In Texas

Cost of Waiting to Buy in 2013 We remind our clients of this particular story frequently, as it illuminates why waiting is almost never going to save them more money: In 2013, we had a borrower looking to buy in Austin, TX and she was obsessed with getting the absolute lowest possible price. As a […]Read More

What Homebuyers Really Want In A Lender

The lender you refer your clients to is a reflection on you. I repeat that often because it is true and because 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

12 Factors That Impact Your Mortgage 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 12 factors that affect almost […]Read More

Why Perfect Credit Scores Don’t Matter

200 MILLION AMERICANS NOW HAVE FICO SCORES About 200 million Americans now have FICO Scores, and about 3 million have perfect scores of 850, according to this Bloomberg article:  “How More Americans Are Getting a Perfect Credit Score.” America may be approaching “peak credit score” with average scores now above where they were at the […]Read More

[eGuide] Things to Consider When Selling Your House – Winter Edition

Click the button below to download your own copy of the Things to Consider When Selling Your House – Winter Edition! Our goal is to provide agents with the tools they need to build their business. To be the first to know about new tools, guides, industry updates and more, subscribe to JVM’s Blog!   […]Read More

First-Time Homebuyers Hunt for Financing Before Houses

A new housing report by the Washington Post shows that first-time homebuyers get pre-approved before house hunting. First-Time Homebuyers Look for Financing First In the Washington Post’s latest housing report, they found that 74% of homebuyers start their house hunt by researching financing options and getting pre-approved. For first-time homebuyers, that percentage increases to 85%. […]Read More

Five Reasons Why This Winter Is The Best Time To Buy

Most seasoned real estate agents already well know that winter can be a great time to buy real estate. Below are our top five reasons why this winter is the best time to buy: #1 – Rates Hit Six Week Low! While rates have been climbing for most of the year, they hit a six-week […]Read More

Things to Know When Considering ARM Financing

Not all buyers go for the tried-and-true 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. For some, an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) is a better loan product for their housing needs. Here are a few things to keep in mind for buyers considering using an ARM to finance their property. Most ARMs today are actually “Hybrid” ARMs A Hybrid ARM […]Read More

California Buyers Worry Student Loans Prevent Pre-Approval

  The national student loan debt has now surpassed $1.5 trillion and comprises 42 percent of all consumer debt. Millennials have most of the student debt, which has increased 130 percent since 2008. Buyers Are Afraid Of Their Debt With all these outstanding balances, it’s no wonder that California buyers are afraid that their student […]Read More

Study Shows Mortgage Insurance Lessens Difficulty In Obtaining Down Payment

18 years of saving for a California 20% down payment. California’s increasingly competitive market has made property prices soar. With the high price tag associated with California real estate, many homebuyers are increasingly concerned about how they will afford a down payment on a home. Zillow recently released a study that showed that it takes […]Read More

Jumbo Loans in California

Jumbo loans are becoming increasingly popular for California homebuyers. This is mostly due in part to the rising costs of homes in the state. The median price for a single-family home in the San Francisco Bay Area is $935,000. As a result, increasingly more homebuyers in California are having to use jumbo loans to finance […]Read More

How Stock Market Corrections Affect Real Estate

The stock market has been particularly volatile lately, and there are many predictions of another large “correction” that could come any day now. Here are a few considerations in regard to a stock market correction, at least as they relate to real estate and mortgages. A stock market “correction” is defined by The Motley Fool […]Read More

How Much Income Do California Borrowers Need To Purchase A House or Condo?

California borrowers often have questions about what income they need to purchase a house or condo. Lenders use a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to determine how much income a borrower needs to fund their purchase or qualify for financing. Most lenders in California recommend that borrowers stay within a 45% – 50% DTI limit. Determining How […]Read More

How Many Times Can Veteran Borrowers Obtain A VA Loan?

A VA Loan (Veterans Administration Loan) is a mortgage that is guaranteed by the VA for veterans. VA loans are the best bargain in mortgage financing for qualified veterans because of their flexible underwriting and down payment guidelines. VA loans also have low interest rates, no mortgage insurance, and 0% down payments for most veterans. […]Read More

Four Steps to Prepare for Closing Day in California

Closing day is the last step for homebuyers in their loan process. All their paperwork gets finalized and the deed of the property is officially transferred to the new owner. Here are four steps to help California homebuyers have an easy closing day! Start saving! One of the best ways California homebuyers can prepare for […]Read More

5 Tips For Buying A Foreclosure

Understand that the purchase process is different. In traditional real estate transactions, homebuyers work directly with the property sellers and their agents. Homebuyers will typically present an offer directly to the seller and their agents to purchase the property. When homebuyers are planning to purchase a foreclosed property, they are not dealing with a traditional […]Read More

VA Loans: Everything You Need To Know

We’ve assembled this VA guide to help buyers and agents alike. These are the common questions we receive on a daily basis about VA financing. If you’d like to discuss VA options, schedule a call with us to chat anytime! What is a VA Loan? A VA Loan (Veterans Administration Loan) is a mortgage that […]Read More

52% of Homebuyers In California & Nationwide Have Down Payments Less Than 20%

Zillow recently published their Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, which includes in-depth reporting surveys on trending household decisions across the nation. The comprehensive report found that nearly 52% of homebuyers across the nation are making down payments on home purchases with less than 20% down. This should come as a welcome surprise for homebuyers who […]Read More

First-Time Homebuyers Should Consider FHA

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are an excellent option for first-time homebuyers looking to buy in the competitive California market. FHA loans have low down-payment financing options with flexible underwriting guidelines that are great for homebuyers with liquidity or credit issues. FHA loans are growing increasingly popular among the first-time homebuyer demographic. The Urban Institute […]Read More

Real Estate = Your Retirement Fund

I was hiking in the middle of nowhere a few weeks ago when I ran into a couple in their early 60s. We struck up a long conversation and I learned that they currently lived in Palm Desert. They’d recently relocated there from the San Francisco Bay Area for over 30 years before selling their almost […]Read More

Some Rate Reminders for California Borrowers

  Rates are a hot topic for California borrowers. Everyone wants to get the best mortgage rate possible when they’re getting ready to take out a loan for their home purchase. Here a few helpful reminders to keep in mind about mortgage rates in California: Rates will vary depending on the loan type. There are […]Read More

Mortgage Acronyms Every California Borrower Should Know

The mortgage industry is infamous for throwing a lot of acronyms around. If borrowers aren’t familiar with the industry or the lingo it can be confusing to understand what’s going on at times. Here are seven of the most common mortgage acronyms that every borrower should know when planning to take out a loan: APR […]Read More

Contingencies for Buyers in California

  Contingencies are clauses written in real estate purchase agreements and contracts that give a buyer a way to “back out” if they decide they no longer want to move forward with the purchase. Contingencies are very common in California real estate contracts. There are three types of contingencies that are the most common for […]Read More

Are We About To Enter a Buyers’ Market?

Home sales are below last year’s levels, home values are appreciating at a slower pace, and there are reports showing purchasing demand softening. This has some thinking we may be entering a buyers’ market after sellers have had the upper hand for the past several years. Is this really happening? The market has definitely softened. […]Read More

Why Can’t Rates Stay Low Forever?

A few weeks ago I discussed why rates don’t always increase when the Fed announces a rate increase. (You can find that blog here.) I had pointed out how the markets often account for likely increases in the Fed Funds rate long before the Fed announces them. Since that September 6th discussion, rates have continued to […]Read More

What Does “PITI” Mean for California Borrowers

What does “PITI” mean? Lots of borrowers are unsure what “PITI” means when it comes to their home loan. PITI is a common term used within the mortgage industry to describe the four factors that impact a loan. PITI (pronounced “pity”) stands for: Principal Interest Taxes Insurance Principal Principal refers to the actual amount of […]Read More

What’s the Deal with Home Insurance in California?

Home insurance is a policy that nearly all homeowners need to protect them from financial losses in the event their property becomes damaged. What is Home Insurance Home insurance is a specific type of insurance that is designed to protect homeowners against losses and damages caused by natural disasters (fires and storms), burglary and vandalism. […]Read More

What Is in A Mortgage Application

Mortgage applications are designed to be borrower-friendly and standardized across the mortgage industry. The mortgage application used in all U.S. states and territories for the past 20 years is the Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA). Here is a breakdown of everything borrowers need to know about URLA and filling it out. URLA: The Standardized Mortgage […]Read More

What Borrowers Need to Know about Escrow and Prepaid Items

Many borrowers are confused when it comes to prepaid items and escrow accounts and what role they play when it comes time to figuring out closing costs. Here is a breakdown of all the information borrowers need to know. Escrow Accounts Defined Escrow Companies act as at third party buffer between buyers and sellers. Escrow […]Read More

VA Loans Explained

What is a VA Loan? A VA Loan (Veterans Administration Loan) is a mortgage that is guaranteed by the VA for veterans. VA loans have flexible underwriting and down payment guidelines for veterans and their spouses only. VA loans also have low interest rates, no mortgage insurance, and no down payment requirements for most veterans. […]Read More

Buyers Beware of Google!

One of the reasons loan officers and homebuyers were able to get away with so much fraud prior to the mortgage meltdown was the lack of public records and information in general. That is no longer the case, and homebuyers in need of financing need to be extra careful nowadays because underwriters Google everything – […]Read More

Cash-Out Refinance in California

House values are continuing to increase across the state of California, and homeowners are now finding themselves with more equity in their homes. Many homeowners utilize a cash-out refinance to convert some of their equity into cash. What is a Cash-Out Refinance? A cash-out refinance loan refers to the refinancing of an existing mortgage into […]Read More

Mortgage Banks vs. Commercial Banks; What’s the Difference? What’s Better?

The Wall Street Journal featured an article recently that stressed that buyers in a competitive market need a lender with a stellar reputation, an ability to close quickly, great communication skills, and local appraisers. Big bank/commercial bank corporations are just that: they’re big. Large corporations tend to have huge amounts of clientele. As a result, […]Read More

What’s The Difference Between an FHA and VA Appraisal?

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 deal, but they also play a crucial role in determining […]Read More

How Much Will Home Prices Correct, IF They Correct?

Here’s the best answer: Nobody has a clue. BUT – I can say that it will be a lot less than in 2008, and this is why: Prior to the meltdown in 2008, financing was far too easy to obtain, particularly with respect to investment properties. Homebuyers could buy with no income and no asset […]Read More

The Mortgage Underwriting Process Explained

The Underwriting Process There are three main parts to the mortgage process: the beginning, the middle, and the end. Most people are familiar with the beginning – reaching out to start the prequalification process and applying for a mortgage loan, and the end – funding the loan and moving into their dream home. However, the […]Read More

The Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio: A Guide for Borrowers in California

The Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV) is a key mortgage term for homebuyers and homeowners to know and understand. We mention LTV a lot when breaking down other mortgage topics and products. Today we’re giving a crash course in LTV and explaining the impact LTV has on purchasing and owning a home. Loan-to-Value Ratio Defined The loan-to-value […]Read More

Do First-Time Homebuyers Need Mortgage Insurance in California?

Mortgage Insurance (MI) can set off alarm bells for first-time homebuyers. Homebuyers are not automatically required to pay for mortgage insurance just because they are first-time homebuyers. MI requirements can vary between loan amounts and loan programs. Mortgage Insurance Triggers Buyers are generally required to pay for mortgage insurance if their down payment is less […]Read More

Do California Homebuyers Need Title Insurance?

What is Title Insurance? “Title” refers to the legal ownership of a property. Title insurance is a policy that new homeowners can take out to protect against claims from past occurrences on the property. For example, if someone files a lawsuit claiming that they are still a full or partial owner of the property, financial insurance […]Read More

Buyers Don’t Need a ‘Perfect’ Credit Score to Get a Loan

Buyers in California don’t need a perfect credit score to qualify for a loan. Having a high credit score can help buyers secure a loan with a lower interest rate. However, today’s loans have more forgiving guidelines when it comes to a buyer’s credit, which is especially true with government-funded loans. Where Do Credit Scores […]Read More

Are Home Inspections Required in California?

Home inspections are non-invasive inspections that are used to give buyers a greater understanding of the condition of the home they are looking to buy. Home inspections tell buyers the true state of the property they are considering buying and identify any potential issues with the property. Are home inspections required? Buyers are not required […]Read More