Tag Archives for " loan "

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.

TV Mini-Series: “The Borrowers” (Episode 2)

FADE IN:

Ring Ring.

OMC: “Hello, this is Mike from Ocean Mortgage Capital – How can I help?”

CLIENT: “Hi – My Friend would like to borrow money to replace the roof on her house. She has a roommate who agreed to be a co-borrower.”

OMC: “Is your friend unable to qualify for a mortgage on her own, and so her roommate is willing to co-sign on her loan?”

CLIENT: “Yes, exactly. My friend’s husband should be able to qualify for a mortgage, but he doesn’t think it is necessary to borrow money to fix the roof.”

OMC: “Well, your friend and her husband would both need to sign the mortgage – which means they both need to cooperate and show they are willing to allow a mortgage to be secured by the home.”

CLIENT: “Tell me more about how her roommate can help my friend with this loan.”

OMC: “To be a co-borrower, your friend’s roommate could apply for and be jointly liable for the loan, but would typically have ownership in the property (lenders prefer occupying or non-occupying co-borrowers to also be on title).”

CLIENT: “The roommate does not have any ownership interest in the property.”

OMC: “If not on title, then the roommate could be a co-signor who guarantees all obligations under the loan, jointly with your friend. However, this loan cannot proceed unless your friend’s husband agrees to sign the mortgage – whether he is a co-borrower or not.”

CLIENT: “That will never happen.”

OMC: “Then unfortunately neither will your friend’s loan.”

Here’s the Point: Before obtaining a loan on your primary residence, make sure your spouse is willing to sign the mortgage document – otherwise the lender will not close.

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.

 

Saved by… the Appraiser?

I think it’s time we cut them some slack. No doubt there are instances where the appraiser completely missed the boat – when values were quickly overturned either after correcting errors or reflecting missed facts. I hear countless stories where the FHA appraiser was “too picky” regarding some of the reported observations on the condition of the property.

Lately, I have had several borrower prospects complain about their realtor or mortgage broker not recommending a property inspection. “I bought the house and had no idea there was a roof leak.” “You should have seen the termites in the attic right after we closed the deal.”

Let me tell you something: Engaging a property inspector is entirely up to the borrower/buyer – caveat emptor. Sure, there are times when it is obvious – and therefore when it is incumbent upon the industry professionals to strongly suggest an inspection by a licensed contractor. But if you purchase a property, it is your fault if you elect to forego the inspection and later find serious problems.

One appraiser recently conditioned his report on the receipt of an inspection report – to address what appeared to be some insignificant siding damage. The lender refused to close and fund the loan until a professional contractor confirmed in writing that the damage was cosmetic. It was a great call by the appraiser, because it turned out there was over $15,000 of structural damage from dry rot. That “picky” appraiser saved my clients from committing to a serious money pit.

Here’s the Point: If you decide not to have a licensed contractor perform a property inspection, then you are to blame for problems uncovered after your purchase.

 

Beware of Bonus Income Guidelines

bonusTo qualify for a conventional mortgage, your income should be “…stable, predictable and likely to continue”. You need to demonstrate your ability to repay – and, ideally, that your income is likely to continue for 3 years. If you earn bonus or commission income, your employer needs to verify that you have received it for the past 12 to 24 months – showing positive factors that offset the shorter income history.

But what if you decide to move to a different location (i.e., to maximize your earnings, to be closer to family, or because it’s just too cold where you are)? Unless your “transfer” is with the same company, you won’t be able to use your bonus income to qualify for a mortgage in your new location.

One of my clients has had consistent earnings with the same major automotive company for 25 years. But because the dealerships are franchisees, each franchisee is deemed to be a separate employer – so his move from one franchisee to another disqualified him from using his bonus income. And because the majority of his income is always from bonuses, he couldn’t qualify for a conventional mortgage. Even though he generated consistent monthly bonuses over the past 7 months at the new franchisee, he needed to show at least 12 months of bonus earnings.

The Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) would not bend the rules for this solid income earner. The prevailing private lender agreed that the conventional bonus income guidelines do not incorporate common sense.

Here’s the Point: If you do not have at least 12 months of bonus or commission earnings, you will not be able to use that income in your mortgage qualifying ratios.

 

Condo Loan Craziness

Just because you have good credit, low debt-to-income ratios and a good size down payment, don’t think that qualifying for a purchase mortgage on a condominium will be a breeze. It may not be you that the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) is concerned about. Since FNMA is the likely buyer of the mortgage advanced by your lender, they are fastidious about how the condo homeowners association (HOA) or property management company is managing the affairs of the building.

There are some rules you should know before making an offer:

  • If you intend the condo to be an investment property, over 50% of the units in the building must be owner-occupied.
    WHY? Owner Occupants look after their units and are less apt to default on their mortgages
  • If the building offers in-room housekeeping and concierge services, FNMA will assume the condo is operated as a hotel and your loan will be declined.
    WHY? Short-term rentals (daily/weekly/monthly) are prohibited – whether offered by the HOA or the unit owners (and if the latter, the HOA will need to police this use)

It is not easy for the HOA to monitor the number of rental units – in which case the appraiser will need to make what is often an unreliable estimate. If this estimate is high, it triggers a red flag in the eyes of the lender. Letters of explanation and verbal confirmations will be required, thereby causing substantial delays and increasing the odds that your loan may not close.

Here’s the Point: Need a loan to buy a condo unit? If the building offers short-term rentals, chances are you won’t get your loan.

 

Free Money at the Closing Table

Free?  I think not!  But there are definitely “lender credits” available to you, depending on the interest rate you select.  The technical term for this credit is “yield spread premium”.  But is the lender passing this credit on to you, or are they keeping it – and therefore booking additional profit from your loan?  This profit would be in addition to their processing fee, and results from the earnings spread they generate between what you pay them versus what it costs them to fund your loan.

The higher the interest rate you pay, the higher the credit to which you should be entitled – all of which can be applied towards offsetting your closing costs.  In arriving at this credit, the lender factors in certain standard risk adjustments that are based on variables such as your credit score, loan amount, collateral type, and loan-to-value ratio.  The lesson to be learned is that your lender should always fully disclose the amount of this credit – even if it is in the form of a reduced interest rate.

Recently I had a client who was able to increase his lender credit by simply taking a few steps to improve his credit score.  After following a program of credit card debt reduction, his FICO score increased from 599 to 642.  This favorably resulted in an increase to his lender credit of 1.25% of his loan amount – a savings of $2,500 which he was able to apply towards the closing costs on his $200,000 residential mortgage.

Here’s the Point: The next time you get an interest rate quote from a lender, be sure to ask them how you can increase the “credit” to which you may be entitled to apply against your closing costs.

 

Identity Theft: Curious Advice…

idtheftImagine some guy by the name of “Greg” using your name and social security number to borrow three private loans totaling $10,000. Wouldn’t you feel violated? You would also be furious if this showed up on your credit report only 5 days before your new mortgage is scheduled to close!

The fraudster is not about to make principal and interest payments on the scam loans. So your credit score will immediately deteriorate because of late payments, which you likely won’t even know about – unless you frequently check your credit scores.

This happened to a client of mine last week. His attorney recommended that he: (i) request a fraud alert be placed on his credit report, and (ii) commence making the required monthly payments on the fraudulent loans…

PARDON??!

Imagine making payments on a fraudulent loan – and then trying to prove later that your payments should be recouped? I don’t actually blame the lawyer – because he was simply trying to stop the fraudster, and help the borrower get a mortgage by maintaining a decent credit score. What was missing, however, was that a new conventional or FHA mortgage lender will require evidence that an act of fraud had been committed – which will include the filing of a police report. The omission of or delay in filing this report gives the appearance of “hiding” the identity theft. It is very important to demonstrate to the lender that all the right steps have been taken to address the problem as quickly as possible.

Here’s the Point: You can’t hide identity theft when you apply for a mortgage. Promptly have the credit bureaus put a fraud alert on your credit report so that no further borrowing can take place without your approval.

 

Refinancing? The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

grassMy client made the right decision last week. He decided not to refinance his mortgage – even though:
(i) he qualified for a better interest rate (because his credit score had improved),
(ii) the value of his primary residence was way up, and
(iii) he could have used some of the equity in his home to consolidate debt.

His credit score was 650 – lower than what he had hoped for, mainly because of some unavoidable late payments a while back. Keeping his loan-to-value ratio at 80% (to avoid mortgage insurance premiums), he was surprised to discover that, with his credit score, he would still be assessed 3.0% of the loan amount at closing. In addition, because he was looking to pull out some equity (i.e., obtain a new loan greater than his existing loan amount), the “cash-out refinance adjustment” would have been another 2.625%. Along with a couple of other incidental adjustments for loan size and overall risk profile, the cumulative risk adjustments would have been 5.85% of his requested loan amount – or $5,850 on a $100,000 loan.

Sure – I found a lender who would offset all of these costs. The problem was his interest rate would be no different than the rate he already had on his existing loan. Also, his principal amortization schedule would reset upon the commencement of his new 30-year mortgage. Therefore, the portion of his new monthly mortgage payment attributed to principal reduction would be less than what his principal payment was under his existing loan.

Here’s the Point: Make sure to understand all of the “risk adjustments” (costs) that lenders assess before you refinance your mortgage – because you might be surprised.