New Rotary Board to Focus on Environment

Rotary BOD 2018-19


Rotary Club of Vero Beach 2018–19 Officers and Board of Directors: Daniel Fourmont, Past President; Kathryn Barton, Treasurer; Ken Ligon; Michael Kanuka, President; Richard Carlin; Brenda Bradley, Secretary; Stuart Kennedy, President-Elect; Camille Yates, Vice President; Jim Brumbaugh and Larry Parks. (not pictured – Tom Mitchell).

The Rotary Club of Vero Beach (Vero’s 1st Club) recently celebrated its 92nd birthday. Chartered on June 9, 1926, club members through the years have exemplified Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self,” by donating their time and resources to the local community.

“Rotary is all about connecting and providing service to the community, fellowship with members, and personal and professional development,” says Michael Kanuka, President of the Rotary Club of Vero Beach. “We are the oldest Rotary Club in the area and have proudly helped at least 45 local charitable organizations who serve thousands of people. We have raised money in various ways, and established our Vero Beach Rotary Charities Foundation which has donated more than $100,000 to help local children and adults in need.”

In addition to helping those in need locally, the Rotary Club of Vero Beach works on international projects including ones that bring clean water and dental care to people in the Dominican Republic. They also participate in a Homestay program hosting international Rotarians to give them a perspective of what it’s like to live in Indian River County.

“We are committed to continuously improving our community and our strategic focus is now on the environment,” says Kanuka. “Our recently installed Board of Directors have been brainstorming new civic projects which we will soon be announcing.”

Rotary is an international organization boasting more than 1.2 million members in almost 35,500 clubs around the world. The Rotary Club of Vero Beach meets every Thursday at 11:45 am at the Vero Beach Yacht Club, 3601 Rio Vista Blvd., Vero Beach, FL 32963. For membership information contact President, Michael Kanuka at kanuka@oceanmortgage.com or visit www.rotaryofverobeach.com.

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Be Nice To Your HOA


If you are financing the purchase of a condominium unit, you are going to need help from the homeowners’ association (HOA). A property management company is often hired to manage the affairs of the complex, but the HOA is ultimately responsible for many things – including:

  • Building structure, machinery and equipment (roof, HVAC, security, electrical/mechanical)
  • Common areas (lobby, pool, work-out facilities, BBQ area, landscaping)
  • Other functions (insurance, accounting, budgeting, approving leases, collecting HOA fees)

Your lender will require a detailed project review whenever your down payment is less than 20%, or if your condo will be a rental property. This means the HOA will likely need to provide you with several documents (e.g., bylaws, financials, master insurance certificates) and complete a condo questionnaire to confirm that:

  • There is no existing or pending litigation
  • Sufficient reserves exist in the repairs and maintenance budget
  • The condo does not have short-term “hotel-type” rentals
  • No more than 15% of the owners are delinquent in their association fees
  • One owner does not own more than 10% of the units

The questionnaire takes time to complete, and so the HOA may charge you a fee for doing so. But in the end, knowing everything about your purchase will protect you from unforeseen events – including special assessments for which you may be responsible right after your purchase.

In addition, the HOA’s insurance agent will need to provide you with written evidence that the condo master property and liability insurance also applies specifically to your unit being purchased.

Here’s the Point: When you purchase or refinance a condo, there are several reasons why you will want the homeowners’ association on your side.

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Know Before You Owe

loan estimate mortgage disclosure rules


In 2015, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) created “Know Before You Owe” mortgage disclosure rules. These were implemented to ensure that consumers would have easy-to-understand information before making what is usually their largest financial decision – namely, the purchase of their own primary residence.

There were a bunch of disclosures required by the CFPB – with changes introduced every year. The key disclosures are the Loan Estimate (which replaced the old Good Faith Estimate), and the Closing Disclosure (which replaced the old HUD-1 Settlement Statement). A lender or mortgage broker is required to issue you a Loan Estimate within three (3) business days to a prospective borrower who is “in application”.

Borrowers refinancing or purchasing a residential property are deemed to be “in application” when the following six items have been received:

  1. Full Name
  2. Social Security Number
  3. Property Address (for a purchase, there should be a reasonable probability of going under contract)
  4. Estimated Value (for a purchase, what the offer is expected to be)
  5. Loan Amount (this item would not be considered received if the down payment is uncertain)
  6. Income (the borrower’s actual and projected earnings should be reasonably reliable)

This was a good rule, because consumers often never really knew what their loan costs and reserves would be until right before closing. Unscrupulous lenders and brokers had been “hooking” their borrowers – thereby making it difficult to change lenders right before funding.

Interestingly, these rules do not apply to commercial, reverse, mobile home or HELOC mortgages.

Here’s the Point: Get a Loan Estimate as soon as possible when applying for a mortgage – so that you know what your costs are likely to be.

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Should You Buy That Home in Your Name?

mortgage individual name


Most mortgage lenders specializing in residential mortgages will not extend financing unless you own the property in your personal name. This is usually a requirement of the investor who purchases the mortgage from the lender who closes on your loan. And this is the case whether the property is your primary residence, second or vacation home, or rental/investment property.

Why would you create an LLC or corporation to hold title to your real estate?

The main reason is usually to limit your personal liability – say, in case someone slips and falls while on your property. For example: If title is in your LLC, you are more likely able to shield your personal assets against a claim (however you should always consult with your attorney).

If you decide not to purchase a residential property in your personal name, however, the loan will be deemed a commercial loan – not a residential loan. While there are many community banks that will lend to an LLC or corporation, you would generally always need to personally guarantee the loan in any event. Also, commercial loan interest rates tend to be a little higher than a residential loan in your name.

Some people acquire their residential properties in their personal name, but then later transfer title via quit claim deed to an LLC. As a general rule, this is not permitted within the loan documentation – but residential lenders do not typically audit title (especially if you continue making your monthly mortgage payments on time).

Here’s the Point: ​The interest rate will usually be more favorable when you purchase a residential property in your individual name.

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First-Time Homebuyer Programs?

first-home-buyers


First-time homebuyer programs (FTHP’s), when available, can make purchasing a home more affordable for low-to-moderate income individuals and families – but there is generally always a catch. For example, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation advertises that they offer fixed, low-interest rate FTHP loans. This is true, however the rate is actually higher than what is offered by the most active mortgage lenders in the industry.

Before you get excited about being approved under a government-sponsored first-time homebuyer program, you should know:

  • Some grants can only be used towards your down payment, not closing costs – and in most cases are required to be repaid (getting a gift from a relative may be better)
  • A home inspection report (not required under a conventional loan) may crater the deal because all costly repairs will likely need to be completed prior to closing
  • Some programs have long waiting lists, so be prepared that it may take well over a year before you find out if you qualify
  • Including all other income sources with your application (such as alimony and child support) will often disqualify the applicant because the maximum income threshold may be exceeded

First-time homebuyer programs generally always require another separate government approval stamp. It is therefore not uncommon for loans to be declined at the last minute when it would appear the borrower could qualify for a regular conventional loan.

Sometimes all it takes is a little more preparation and guidance – and a first-time homebuyer can comfortably qualify for more cost-effective conventional financing.

Here’s the Point: First-time homebuyer programs, if available, are not always the best or most cost-effective solution.

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You Really Think You Are Pre-Qualified!

mortgage pre-qualify


“My real estate agent said I need a pre-qualification letter, and I was wondering if you could provide one to me within the next hour so that I can make an offer on a property.”

It is very rare when a borrower has pre-prepared all of the paperwork required to demonstrate their ability to repay the mortgage they are seeking.

A pre-qualification letter is absolutely useless, unless it confirms that the preparer has verified the prospective borrower’s income, liquidity and credit. This would include at least the receipt and review of the following, as applicable:

  • last 2 years of tax returns, W-2’s or 1099’s
  • last 30 days of paystubs
  • last 2 monthly bank and retirement account statements
  • tri-merge credit report from the 3 national credit reporting agencies 

Without the above, there is no way a lender can properly confirm that a borrower is truly pre-qualified.

Real estate agents showing “pre-qual” letters to sellers that do not confirm the above are likely wasting their and their seller’s time.

Ideally, an “Approve/Eligible Finding” should also be obtained from government-approved software, evidencing that a greenlight was received from FannieMae or FreddieMac to proceed with a bona fide mortgage loan submission.

Many people are in such a rush to make their offer, they avoid mortgage professionals who take the time to diligently ensure the buyer is a capable borrower. Instead, some buyers actually call around until they find a lender who accepts verbal confirmations alone – and then a letter is issued that usually does more harm than good.

Here’s the Point: ​You can get a mortgage pre-qualification letter in less than 10 minutes – but they are not worth the paper they are written on.

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Are You Sure About Value?

appraisal


When valuing your home, don’t simply rely on a few houses that recently sold in the neighborhood. Just because Fred sold his place across the street for $450,000 (or because Trulia/Zillow estimated your value to be $435,000) doesn’t mean your home is worth the same.

Fred’s house is not a good sales comparable if he has:

  • a pool (and you don’t)
  • 4 bedrooms/3 baths (versus your 3 bedrooms/2.5 baths)
  • a 2-car garage (to your carport)
  • a newly renovated kitchen (versus your limited renovations)


Without doing your homework, you may be unable to sell your home for the price you want – or your loan entitlement could be much less on a cash-out refinance or reverse mortgage.

The lender will require an appraisal prior to closing – unless an appraisal inspection waiver is granted (such as when you may have substantial equity in your house).

In a conventional or government purchase mortgage, you can get pre-approved by a lender before getting an appraisal (so you shouldn’t spend $485 on an appraisal until you see the loan closing conditions). Whereas in a reverse mortgage, you generally cannot get pre-approved without the appraisal (so make sure your home value estimate is accurate before paying for the appraisal – otherwise you may be disappointed when your approved loan amount is far less than you had expected).

Analogous to lawyers being trained not to ask a question without knowing the answer, you, as a borrower, should be confident in your home valuation before paying for an appraisal.

Here’s the Point: Before you refinance, don’t waste your money on an appraisal until you have done your own homework on value.

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Just Retired and Can’t Get A Mortgage

retired mortgage


The plane tickets are booked for golfing and walking on a Florida beach for three months. Upon settling into retirement, you realize how nice it would be to own a home in your favorite vacation spot. With family back home, the perfect scenario would be to keep your primary residence – and buy a vacation property.

But do you really want to spend a good chunk of your retirement savings by paying cash for your Florida home? Most people would rather finance their vacation home – to save their funds and capitalize on low interest rates.

However, getting pre-qualified for a mortgage may be problematic if you do not have a monthly pension. You need to show the lender sufficient ongoing annual income to prove you can continue to make monthly mortgage payments.

There are two programs available that allow you to create an earnings stream without having to spend all your retirement funds:

  1. Structured Annuity: Establish a monthly draw from your 401k or IRA funds, and show you are able to continue this income stream for 36 months;
  2. Assets-For-Income: Create a hypothetical income stream without liquidating your brokerage account (equal to 70% of your assets divided by the number of months in your loan);

If you aren’t worried because you expect to continue earning commissions from your prior business while retired, be careful because you may be deemed a Self-Employed borrower after retiring from your W-2 job (conventional lenders require two years of tax returns from Self-Employed borrowers).

Here’s the Point: You can retire without a stable income stream and still qualify for a mortgage.

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The Mortgage Colonoscopy

mortgage colonoscopy

Okay, maybe the analogy is extreme… But, thanks to the cumbersome mortgage regulations, it will be a long time before borrowers exclaim: “Boy was it ever easy to get that mortgage!”

It is always advisable to expect the process to be highly invasive in respect to your personal financial records. And, it is a time-consuming exercise, fraught with an abundance of disclosure and closing documents. But believe it or not, the process has actually improved over the years.

For the time being, the negatives are essentially fixed. But at least the most active, progressive lenders have been able to offset some of the frustrations by simplifying the process and offering more cost saving solutions. For example:

  • Instant Funding: The wire can now be released to the borrower as soon as the last document is signed (it used to be that the lender needed to review all of the signed documents, and then provide an authorization number for funding – which could take hours);
  • Appraisal Waivers/Refunds: At or below an 80% loan-to-value ratio, the appraisal could possibly be waived – depending on overall borrower financial profile. Or, depending on the mortgage product, some lenders will refund the appraisal cost up to $500;
  • PMI Discounts: Economies of scale from larger lenders has lead to attractive discounts to monthly private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums;
  • No Overlays: Many lenders have traditionally added their own conservative requirements to the minimum lending conditions imposed by Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac. Today, industry competition has rendered these “add-ons” as unnecessary.

Here’s the Point: Getting a mortgage will never be a “walk in the park”, but at least some lenders are making the process a little more tolerable and efficient.

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Combine Your Financial and Physical Health

financial physical healt

"Sorry for the mix-up. Your financial health is fine. It was your physical health I was looking at."

One of the benefits of obtaining or refinancing a mortgage is that you get the opportunity to fully understand your financial health. The most common complaint, though, is how detailed of a process it is and how time consuming it can be to complete. In the end, people tend to remember these negatives – that’s just the way it is.

The ideal outcome would be to comfortably orchestrate the advancement of your financial health, but yet also improve your physical and mental health at the same time. It certainly would make things easier to contend with the anxiety associated with extensive mortgage documentation – by ensuring that you become or remain physically fit in health, mind and body.

To discover the simplicity behind walking longer distances, learning how to jog or run, or advancing your current running to a whole new level of fitness, I highly recommend that you enroll in the following WalkRun program created and coached by my Olympic Medalist track and field sister (www.LynnKanuka.com):

lynn_kanuk

https://runwalk101.thinkific.com/courses/walkrun101

I can unequivocally state that this program works. I know, because I did it – and I advanced my fitness to a level that I never thought I could achieve in such a short period. Specifically, I improved my best time in a 10 kilometer road race by over 5 minutes. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made that continues to provide me with a more rewarding and less stressful lifestyle today – while navigating the ever changing, challenging mortgage industry.

Here’s the Point: In 2018 and beyond, keep in mind that taking care of your physical health can also give you the energy, patience and mental health to help you achieve your financial goals.

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