Category Archives for "Credit"

Bridge Basics (Not the Card Game!)

Bridge Loan

A Bridge Loan can be an effective solution if you need to pull equity out of an existing property to purchase a new property. It can especially come in handy if you suddenly come across the perfect home to buy – but you have not yet sold your existing home (and you know that your income is likely insufficient to cover the mortgage payments on two properties at the same time).

Provided your credit score is at least 680, up to 75% of the value of your current, to-be-sold home may be extended to you via a Bridge Loan in one advance.  The Bridge Loan proceeds would need to be used to fully repay your existing mortgage balance, but you can also use any leftover loan proceeds towards the down payment on your to-be-purchased home.  The Bridge Loan structure allows you to make an offer on a new property, which is not contingent on the sale of your existing property.

Bridge Loans are generally due in 12 months, which is ample time to sell your existing property. No mortgage payments are required to be made on the Bridge Loan until your property is sold (at which time the principal would be paid back plus accrued interest). And, because there are no monthly Bridge Loan payment requirements, Bridge Loan obligations are not counted towards the lender’s debt-to-income ratio calculation. The same lender will then separately advance you a permanent loan of up to 80% of the value of your to-be-purchased primary residence.

Here's the Point: Bridge Loans are alive and well, and therefore you don’t necessarily need to have sold your current home before purchasing your dream home.

The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Buying a House

From time to time, Ocean Mortgage receives requests from guest authors to contribute a post to our blog. Today, we welcome Emily Huddleson from REDFIN. We are pleased to post Emily's informative article for the benefit of our clients and potential clients; however, we wish to make it clear that Ocean Mortgage is not affiliated with Ms Huddleson or her company, and the publication of this article should not be construed as an endorsement or solicitation for Emily or her company. As always, nothing contained in our blog (or elsewhere in our website) should be construed as legal, financial, or other advice. You should always consult with appropriate professionals in your jurisdiction before purchasing a home and/or obtaining a loan.

If you are interested in having us publish an informative (not advertising or soliciting) article on our blog, please submit your proposal or a copy of your proposed article to  admin@oceanmortgage.com.


Buying a house for the first-time or even second time can be extremely exciting, but it can also be one of the most complex purchases of your life. Not knowing what to do when and how to start can make it even more daunting. To simplify things, we’ve broken down the timeline and created a step-by-step guide to help you navigate all the twists and turns along the way.

home-buying-timeline

6 Months Out

Assess your situation and get your financials in order. Before jumping into your home search, you must determine how much you can afford. You may have saved enough for your down payment, but don’t forget to account for closing costs, taxes, insurance, and any other unforeseen expenses that may arise when buying a house. This is also the time to make sure you’ve paid down your credit cards and that your credit score is in good condition, ensure you’ve filed your taxes, and that you have a paper trail for all recent major financial transactions.

Get pre-approved and find a mortgage lender. It’s important to apply for a mortgage pre-approval before you begin house hunting in earnest. Not only will this help keep you realistic about your options, but it also shows sellers that you’re a qualified and serious buyer. Don’t be tempted to just go with your current bank. It’s best to shop around to find the best rate and determine which mortgage and lender are right for you. Pre-approval letters do have an expiration date, so be aware of when yours is. It’s okay if you have to apply again later on.

3 Months Out

Find a buyer’s agent. A buyer’s agent is a licensed real estate agent who will represent you throughout your buying journey. A good buyer’s agent will be an expert on the home buying process, know your area inside and out, be familiar with local listing agents, and be a skilled negotiator.

Begin searching for homes. Ask the questions that will help set parameters for your home search. Are you looking to move to a new city such as Sacramento or Portland? Are you set on buying a house in a particular school district or neighborhood? How many bedrooms do you need? Do you want a single-family home or are you open to a townhouse, or maybe even a condo?

Attend open houses and go on tours. When you’re touring multiple homes, it’s easy to confuse different features or concerns so take notes as you’re touring. Don’t forget to pick your agent’s brain and ask for their input.

2 Months Out

Submit, or resubmit your pre-approval application. If you didn’t get a pre-approval letter, now is the time. Most letters last for 60 to 90 days. If your search extends beyond that, reapply.

Make an offer. You’ve found the home you want to call yours. Submit your offer as soon after touring the house as possible. Speed is of the essence in a competitive housing market with limited inventory. Talk with your agent about the terms of your deal and the competition you face to determine an offer price. You and your agent will work together to write and submit the offer letter to the seller’s agent.

Negotiate Home Price. Counter-offers are common and should even be expected when buying a house. Common counter-offers can include proposed changes to the price, closing date, or purchase contract contingencies. You may go back and forth with the seller a few times before you come to terms you both agree on.

Enter the closing process. Once you and the seller agree on the terms, you’ll enter the closing process, which usually takes 30 to 45 days. You’ll likely be in very close communication with your agent, lender, and escrow agency during this time.

1 Month Out

Deposit earnest money. Once the seller has accepted the offer, the earnest money will be deposited into an escrow account or held by the listing agent. Once the sale of the home has been completed, the earnest money you paid will be applied toward your closing costs.

Order your title. You’ll receive a preliminary title report from an escrow agent or attorney within a week after you reach mutual acceptance on an offer. Once the transaction closes, you will receive a final title policy.

Line up a home inspection. This step is critical as it allows you as the homebuyer to discover any material defects or necessary repairs before buying the house. Pay special attention to the results of the inspection because many states hold a buyer responsible for understanding and investigating issues raised during inspections. Also, if there is an inspection contingency, you can negotiate with sellers to cover the costs of certain repairs, ask for concessions, or back out of the sale.

Finalize the home sale. Now that you’ve completed all negotiations, it’s time to finalize and sign the purchase agreement with the seller.

Complete the mortgage application and book an appraisal. While you have been pre-approved, you still need to meet with your lender and finalize your mortgage application. The lender will also request an appraisal at this time.

1-2 Weeks Out

Receive Loan Approval. A licensed appraiser will determine the home’s market value based on comparable recent sales of homes in the neighborhood. After the appraisal has been completed, it will typically take around two weeks for the lender to get all the paperwork and approval completed.

Final walk-through. This is when you can verify that the condition of the house hasn’t changed and that all updates and repairs have been made. The final walk-through usually takes place 24 hours before the scheduled closing day.

Closing Day

Pay closing costs and sign all paperwork. Come to closing day prepared with your government-issued ID and any requested documents. Bring a cashier’s check for your down payment and be prepared to pay any closing costs. Now all that’s left to do is close escrow and sign the required paperwork.

Get your keys. Congratulations on your new home! Depending on if your house is turnkey ready or not, there might be some maintenance and remodeling you want to complete before moving in. You’ll also want to think about hiring movers, buying new furniture and appliances, setting up your utilities, etc. You’ll pay for these after the house is yours but may want to factor them into your budget or create a separate post-move budget.

Emily Huddleston is part of the content marketing team for REDFIN and enjoys writing about real estate trends and home improvement. Her dream home would be a charming Tudor-style house with large windows to let in lots of natural light.

Mortgage Tips for Snowbirds

Flying South

Snowbird mortgage rules are the same for anyone looking to finance a vacation home, unless the borrower resides outside the U.S. In the latter case, there are more onerous foreign national mortgage regulations, a higher interest rate would apply, and there are several title, estate planning, legal and tax issues which would need to be carefully considered. Given today’s exchange rate [CAD$1.00 = US$0.76], Canadians would do well to obtain a mortgage from a U.S. lender – preferably one affiliated with their Canadian bank (for relationship, credit history and funds transfer purposes).  

But here are a few thoughts for those who are able to qualify for a conventional mortgage for the purchase of a property in the sunny South:

  1. Whether a condo or single-family home, call it a second or vacation home – not an investment property (rent it later, if necessary) - you can borrow up to 90% of value (vs 85% for a rental) and avoid a risk adjustment charge of 2.125% to 4.125% of the loan amount, depending on your credit score.
  2. Get your credit score to 740. Otherwise, depending on your down payment, another 1.125% to 3.250% risk charge could apply.
  3. Get a reliable pre-qualification letter. You don’t want to find out just before closing that your debt-to-income ratio (including mortgage obligations of all properties owned) exceeds the maximum lender threshold.
  4. Understand the costs, and then budget accordingly. There will likely be unexpected repairs, improvements, HOA/property management fees, travel costs, etc.


Here’s the Point: Snowbirds could save a bundle of money by doing a little homework before financing a Florida home purchase.

The Christmas Bridge

Scrooge and Tiny Tim

One cold and snowy night, Bob Cratchit was wondering how he could purchase a new home for his family by Christmas.  Not just any home, but one that would surely be perfect for Tiny Tim and his wife – a dream come true.

Their current home was fine, but space was cramped now – and the heater and roof would likely need to be replaced within the next few years.

“I could sell my home and use the net proceeds towards the down payment of our new home”, he thought, “but I need more time to get our current home ready for sale.” “And, how can I afford mortgage payments on two homes?”  It didn’t seem possible.

Would his cruel boss, Ebenezer Scrooge, give him a bonus to make this work?  As expected, Cratchit was laughed out of Scrooge’s office.  Discouraged and dejected, Cratchit gave up.

But Scrooge, after being visited that night by Christmas ghosts, miraculously agreed the next day to simultaneously lend Cratchit two loans: 75% and 80% of the values of his current and dream home, respectively!  Cratchit, having just a 680 credit score, could now use Scrooge’s Bridge Loan proceeds towards the down payment on the new home.  Scrooge’s 12-month Bridge Loan term would provide ample time for Cratchit to sell his existing property.  And, Scrooge waived all Bridge Loan payments until Cratchit sold his current home – when the principal would be paid back plus accrued interest. 

Cratchit made an offer on his dream home the next day!

Here’s the Point: Bridge Loans are alive and well, and therefore you don’t necessarily need to sell your current home before purchasing your dream home.

Bank Statements Only – No Tax Returns Required!

Do you own your business and maximize your expenses to minimize your taxes?

Who wouldn’t employ this strategy!

Well, a break-even tax return would prevent you from getting a conventional mortgage. But if your business has been open for two years, and you can show reasonably consistent deposits each month – then you might qualify for a mortgage under a bank statement program.

You can be approved for a mortgage based solely on your bank statements – without the lender even needing to see your tax returns. There are programs that will accept as little as three consecutive months of bank statements. The more months you are willing to provide (i.e., 24 months provides the best interest rate), the more comfortable the lender can become with your operations.

The lender will tally your average business deposits, and apply an expense ratio – which could be from: (i) an internal or third-party industry standard, (ii) your external accountant, or (iii) your Profit & Loss Statement that matches your selected bank statement period.

Since your resulting net income figure is used to calculate the mortgage amount for which you could qualify, it is more advantageous to select the current bank statement period that maximizes your business deposits.

Some lenders will:

  • Extend a loan as high as 90% of the purchase price (Required: 680+ FICO, 4 months reserves)
  • Credit you for any positive net cash flow from a rented property that has at least 25% equity
  • Allow you to use a gift for the down payment

Here’s the Point: Don’t pass on obtaining a mortgage just because you think your tax return doesn’t
report enough business earnings.

No Way I Will Be Declined

declined

You went under contract to purchase a property, and then started accumulating the supporting documents to obtain your mortgage.Well, guess what? Your steps should have been reversed! Here are some common excuses for those who figured getting a mortgage would be easy, but then discovered there would be some difficulties:

  • “XYZ Credit Co. said my FICO score was 665, which I knew would be good enough for me to qualify for a mortgage. Plus I could always add my spouse, who has an even higher score than me.” Unless you use https://annualcreditreport.com, or have a licensed mortgage broker or lender pull your tri-merge credit report, 90% of the time the score you receive from your source is likely to be 10-50 points higher than your true score. This could be enough to disqualify you from getting a mortgage. Also, the lender will use the lower score of the two – so your spouse can only help if you need to show additional income.
  • “I had a mortgage before, and I have never had trouble qualifying for a credit card or an auto loan.”Most lenders require that you have at least three (3) separate tradelines, one of which should have been in place for as many as 12 months – with an authorized amount of $1,000 or more. You also need to be the primary card holder, not just an “Authorized User”. And, if your prior mortgage has been repaid, that doesn’t count towards the minimum tradeline requirement.

Here’s the Point:Have your credit score pulled before you start making offers – and make sure it is a tri-merge report from all three credit bureaus.

Mortgage Pitfalls for Self-Employed

Pitfalls

Have the revenues from your business been solid over the past two years? Great! Well that’s not good enough to get a mortgage. Here are two main reasons:

  1. If you have been maximizing expenses in order to minimize your taxes payable, remember that it is the net (after expense) income from your business that is used by a lender to calculate your qualifying ratios
  2. If your projected income in the current year is lower than the income reported in your tax returns over the past two years, a conventional lender may decline your loan request outright

The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) publishes self-employment income guidelines for lenders. To qualify for a mortgage, your self-employed net income should be stable, predictable and “likely to continue”. While having guaranteed, contractual income is not a requirement, lenders carefully analyze the financial strength of your business, your sources of income, and the economic outlook for your industry.

Some suggestions to maximize loan approval probability:

  • Understand how the lender calculates your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio – especially if your most recent tax return shows declining net income
  • Produce a current year Profit and Loss Statement (P&L) showing year-to-date actual figures along with realistic projections for the remainder of the year
  • Show that your company distributes less income than it earns (to demonstrate growing cash reserves)
  • Ensure the new mortgage payment (for which you are applying) is in line with or lower than your current rent or the mortgage payment on your existing loan.

Here’s the Point: Make sure you produce a solid Letter of Explanation (LOE) to your lender that will support the continuity of earnings from your business.

Immigrant Lending: An Odd Discussion With A Banker

Immigrant Statue of Liberty“Mike, I’d like to refer you a typical immigrant client who doesn’t have a social security number and runs a ‘cash business’ – and I think you know what I mean”.

“No, actually, I don’t know what you mean.  Does their business generate a lot of cash earnings that they do not report to the IRS?”

“Well, I didn’t say that – but okay”.

“Sorry, I can’t help you – I don’t risk my reputation by recommending that my capital sources conduct business with someone who illegally evades taxes.  Moreover, I think it’s offensive to imply that immigrants typically operate cash businesses to evade taxes”.

“Well then what exactly do mortgage brokers do?”

Before quickly ending my conversation with the banker (for obvious reasons), I indicated that I would be happy to work with self-employed people who legally minimize their taxes with legitimate expense deductions.  Also, I would be happy to source mortgages for those who have not yet become U.S. citizens, do not have U.S. permanent residency, or even have not yet qualified for a social security number.

Surprised?!

As long as a “foreign national” or non-U.S. citizen can evidence an adequate two-year foreign or domestic credit history, there are capital sources who will gladly underwrite their mortgage.  In fact, it is a preferred business platform because statistics prove that these borrowers work hard to repay their debts – and tend to have solid liquidity and reserves.  One key issue is that all required documents written in a foreign language need professional translation.

Here’s the Point: Not having a social security number or green card doesn’t mean you can’t qualify for a mortgage – but you must be properly reporting your income.

Since When Do Builders Dictate Your Loan Terms?!

Do you really want to build your own house? The planning, budgeting, change orders, cost overruns, time commitment and anxiety… but, admittedly, it still may be the most economical way to own a home.

Then there are ramifications behind financing either the construction of a to-be-built home, or the acquisition of a home nearing completion. If you own the land, then you would need a construction loan – and your land investment would likely act as the equity or down payment for your lender. Construction loan draws would reimburse the builder as the home reaches certain levels of completion. Once completed, the construction loan would convert to a standard mortgage.builder lenderIf you are buying a speculative or partially completed home, then standard purchase mortgage guidelines should apply after you sign the builder’s purchase contract. Once the builder completes your home, your mortgage lender provides you acquisition financing (loan closing would coincide with receipt of the certificate of occupancy).

In either case, builders also hope to profit from your loan. They do this by offering attractive financing incentives, such as covering a portion of your loan closing costs if you use one of their affiliate or approved lenders. But be careful, because when they say: “We will cover closing costs if you use one of our approved lenders”. Not only will your interest rate likely be higher, this really means: “We will not provide any closing cost credits unless you use our affiliate lender” (thereby essentially “tying” you to their loan source).

Here’s the Point: When financing a property purchase from a builder, always compare the loan terms offered by the builder’s “approved” lender to those from other unaffiliated lending sources.

 

Would You Lend Money to Donald or Hillary?

Trump and ClintonYou may have been conscientiously deliberating which candidate to vote for over the past several months. Your selection might become clearer if you contemplate this title question – as if you were a lender deciding whether to extend them a loan! Not voting is always an option, but not likely a decision that would sit well with you (even though reports suggest this option is seriously being considered by many voters).

When a client applies for a mortgage, the assignment is either accepted or declined – with concrete rationale behind either decision. But a lender electing to entirely avoid making the decision to either lend or not – may be compared to not voting. Imagine a lender choosing never to return your phone call to give you their credit decision. In this analogy, not voting (or not providing a credit decision) doesn’t help either candidate (or borrower) – nor would it likely help yourself.

There is no excuse for lender/voter unresponsiveness. Borrowers/candidates deserve prompt, reliable feedback which, from a lender’s perspective, is generally based on the following 5 “C’s” of credit:

  1. Credit History (Repayment History & Credit Score)
  2. Capacity (Ability to Repay & Earnings Stability)
  3. Capital (Down Payment & Liquidity)
  4. Collateral (Property Type & Value)
  5. Conditions (Loan Terms & Purpose)

The first one above was formerly entitled “Character” – which arguably is still the most important factor. But by telling a client their loan was declined because of “Character” (or lack thereof), the decision could be judged as discriminatory.

Here’s the Point: Don your lender’s cap and consider the key factors that would be used before advancing money to either candidate – and focus particularly on “character” before making your decision.