May 1, 2013
A recent report by Cisco suggests that there will be more mobile devices on earth than people by the end of 2013. The statistics for mobile use are eye opening. My top five “wow” stats (from various web sources) are:
- · 77% of tablet users use their device every day and spend an average of 90 minutes on it.
- · 87% of smart phone owners access the Internet.
- · The vast majority of smartphones in use today are Androids.
- · 75% of Americans take their phones into the bathroom.
- · More than half of smart phone users get information about local businesses.
Clearly, mobile devices have changed the way consumers get information. From finding a place, better prices, and even finding a mortgage lender, more and more people are relying on their smart phones and tablets these days. However, what types of content do users look for?
PC users still tend to be more research and news oriented. For mobile uses, it all seems to come down to convenience and instant information. Mobile users are more action oriented. One of the fastest growing segments of mobile devices is m-commerce (mobile commerce). People are making more purchases on their mobile. They can buy a gift while standing in line at Starbucks.
With its GPS capabilities, smartphones and mobile devices make it easy for consumers to find local information when traveling. This has been a great asset for us as mortgage brokers. We live in a historic gold rush community that attracts a lot of tourists. While in town for a short time, their phones put them instantly in touch with local businesses, including Delta Home Loans. With a simple voice search for Grass Valley mortgage lenders, we come up at the top of the page.
Being ranked at the top of Google’s list is a statistic we like. Another great stat is being voted “Best Mortgage Lender in Nevada County” for 10 years. Whether you’re in town or not, we’re just one click away from helping you with your home or refinancing loans.
March 15, 2013
The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has been around for a few years to help homeowners under water, so you may be wondering why there’s so much buzz over the new, improved HARP 2.0. Turns out, there’s a lot going for this just-available program, primarily easier access to refinancing opportunities.
While HARP 2.0 was approved many months ago, only a few lenders were able to offer it and only to their customers. Homeowners didn’t have the opportunity to shop around, and if they weren’t approved with that one lender, their hopes for getting a break were dashed. The long delay in making HARP 2.0 widely available was due to automating Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s underwriting systems and getting all the new rules in place. Yes, new, easier rules!
Many roadblocks that borrowers encountered have been removed, including the cap of what the home is worth vs. what the mortgage balance is (typically 125%). Also noteworthy is that there is no minimum credit score with HARP 2.0 (although individual lenders can require one), plus the new program releases the lender’s liability on the original loan. This makes it more appealing for more lenders to offer HARP 2.0, and with more lenders to choose from, mortgage brokers and homeowners can shop around.
A few of the requirements to keep in mind are:
- Your mortgage must have been sold to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae before June 1, 2009.
- You must be current on your mortgage and have no late payments for the last six months.
- Not more than one late payment in 12 months.
- Possible appraisal waiver.
- This must be your first refinance with HARP.
I believe that at long last, homeowners can feel good, and hopeful, about the refinancing opportunities that are now out there. HARP 2.0 became available the first of March, and already the demand has been steadily growing. My advice is to contact us sooner rather than later to lock in today’s historically low interest rates before they go up significantly. The time is now to save your home and some money. We can do it together!
February 7, 2013
Think up. Nearly six years of a recessionary economy that’s still lingering, there are signs of life in the housing market. That’s the good news. For those still thinking the bottom hasn’t hit or interest rates will continue to drop, this is not-so-good news, as it means interest rates are going up and so are home prices in many areas.
While mortgage rate hikes are nominal at this point, and still below 4% for a 30-year fixed rate, it’s nevertheless an upward movement that’s indicative of what is likely to be the trend for 2013. Consider what is happening currently.
First, mortgage rates are already at historic, all-time lows and haven’t been this low since 1905. It’s not likely they would drop lower, and if so, it wouldn’t be significant enough for “fence sitters” to worry about. The odds are greater that they’ll go up rather than go down significantly more.
Second, the housing market today is much more competitive. The buying momentum at the end of 2012 has carried into 2013. This is particularly true of nearby Sacramento which is leading the nation in a “real estate boom.” Even locally, in Nevada County, homes are not sitting as long on the market.
With more people re-entering the market, including those who earlier foreclosed, short sold, filed bankruptcy and are now qualified buyers, plus investors snapping up affordable property, the supply is dwindling and the demand is going up. Sellers are more in control these days and are experiencing bidding wars. Buyers don’t have the luxury of taking their time. They need to be ready to act quickly and have rates locked in if they want to take full advantage of a fading homebuying opportunity.
It’s true that there have been a few false starts before; however, I feel there’s real solid footing for the housing market to continue on its current trajectory. Foreclosure rates are dropping and inventory continues to diminish. With the traditional spring and summer “busy” real estate season just around the corner, we should see even more vibrant activity.
Everything is pointing up. If you’re considering buying a home or even refinancing, the time is now. What are you waiting for?
December 17, 2012
In my Ebook, When Can I Buy a Home Again, I offer many tips and steps on improving credit scores. With the recession effecting so many homeowners and prospective buyers, it was important to address the many concerns and questions we get with regard to repairing credit in order to buy again. One of the most frequently asked question is whether or not paying off a collection will improve a FICO score right away.
The short answer is no. Even with today’s circumstances causing financial difficulties for so many, the scoring process looks at actions and behavior to predict performance on future payments. If you missed payments that led to a collection, it demonstrates a past behavior of willingly foregoing payments. In fact, it doesn’t matter how high or low the collection is. It’s all about the negative incident that predicts how you might handle payments in the future. If you did it once, you might do it again.
It’s also good to know that collection agencies don’t automatically remove the collection debt from your credit reports, even if you paid off the debt. If a collection agency agrees to do so, get it in writing before you pay them off. Even then, it is questionable as to whether or not they will follow through, but you can.
There are, however, several effective steps you can do to repair or maintain your credit score on your path toward home buying. One is to not file a dispute on any accounts on your credit report. Another one is to not consolidate your credit cards into one or two because it appears that you maxed out on some cards.
If one of your 2013 resolutions is to have a good credit score and to take advantage of the great home buying opportunities, we can help. You can also download my e-book for free at http://www.yourmortgagewiz.com. It’s a little holiday gift from us to you! Visit our website for more good-to-know info. http://www.deltahl.com.
November 27, 2012
Sometimes well-intended laws don’t turn out so well. In my humble and professional opinion, this is particularly true with the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC), a process that was implemented as a safeguard for consumers regarding appraisal fraud, yet, in reality, has turned out to be more costly.
The HVCC is an appraisal process that took effect in spring 2009 after New York’s State Attorney General filed a lawsuit against a major mortgage bank for allegedly pressuring appraisers to submit inflated home values. FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which purchases most of our country’s mortgages, adopted the Code of Conduct that requires lenders to use an appraiser from an appraisal management company rather than selecting their own. It was created to prevent any fraudulent acts between lenders and appraisers, and would thereby protect the public.
Today, appraisers are randomly selected which means they could be coming from out of town. They may have little or no knowledge of the town, community, neighborhood or surrounding amenities. While the appraisers are all licensed, there are other key problems associated with HVCC:
- Too many long-time, established appraisers have gone out of business because appraisers are now paid a small portion of what they use to. They are the ones with insight into a home’s real value based on its location within a community. They have built their business on longevity in the industry and repeat business, which has gone away with HVCC.
- Appraisers with less experience are doing home evaluations. It doesn’t take a lot to get a residential license and be selected from a pool of appraisers to evaluate a high-end home.
- Appraisers with less experience and local knowledge tend to submit lower appraisals. In many cases, it’s below the selling price. Unless the seller is willing to negotiate, the transaction is cancelled, which is unfortunately happening a lot these days.
- Somebody has to pay to keep appraisal management companies operating. That somebody is you, the consumer.
According to the website Change.org, “Consumers and small business are being significantly harmed by the Interim Final Rule on Appraiser Independence. Consumer costs have increased by over 2.8 Billion dollars a year; thousands of small business residential appraisers have gone out of business, as the rule diverts appraisal orders to often unregulated middlemen-owned by the large banks. Since the rule was implemented, valuation fraud has increased over 50% and it has led to the continuing depreciation of home values.”
You, the consumer, can help make a change by signing a petition to end HVCC and allow lenders to order an appraisal directly. Simply go to: www.naihp.org. Today. In the meantime, we can help clear any confusion or concerns you might have regarding HVCC. http://www.deltahl.com.
October 16, 2012
There’s a lot to be said about living in a small, rural community. Certainly, there are trade-offs for enjoying the quality of life offered here. While we lack some conveniences and level of services taken for granted in a big city, we are surrounded by a lot of very big-hearted folks. Perhaps it’s because everyone virtually knows everyone here. Regardless, this is a community that goes the extra distance to help one another.
October is well known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. So how does a small town take part in a highly visible and international campaign? We create our own customized, large-scale effort. Our Paint the Town Pink is in its sixth year, and continues to grow with more attendance, a grander expo and more money raised. The really good news is that our donation dollars stay right here in our community and goes to the hospital’s foundation that provides mammograms and breast cancer care for our residents.
Even in our small community where the recession is particularly difficult and the need for care is on the rise, Paint the Town Pink puts “unity” in our community. The organizers have done a fabulous job at keeping the event a must-do of the year as well as make it easy and affordable for all to donate.
This year, Paint the Town Pink established fundraising teams. We signed up as the Mortgage Divas Team. Moreover, our head diva, Dawn Narvaez, is the event’s team coordinator. The competition is on, and we’re serious about being the winning team that raises the most money and takes home the top prize! It’s a diva thing.
Those in need have many faces – a neighbor, the bank teller, the soccer coach, or the anonymous family going to our local Food Bank to survive. We may be a small town, but we are big on compassion. Life here is just a little sweeter by the simple desire to take care of one another. It’s gratifying, especially when you know how it’s helping and who it’s helping.
Donations of any size can be made to the Mortgage Divas Team by calling (530) 263-8129.
July 18, 2012
There’s talk around the lending industry that mortgage giant Fannie Mae will tighten its loan grip this October. The plan is to lower the loan amount that buyers and refinancing homeowners can take out. They also plan to eliminate the all-attractive 3% down and require a minimum of 10% down payment.
Considering the recent momentum in the real estate market fueled by new government programs (HARP and easier USDA, FHA loans), this news come as a surprise. It will no doubt be disappointing for the numerous buyers and homeowners out there seeking to take advantage of this historic buying opportunity or to lower mortgage payments to save their home.
Currently, individual counties determine loan amounts. More populated ones have loans as high as $729,000 while our rural Nevada County is $477,250 and Placer County $460,000. With Fannie Mae government controlled, the recession-stuck economy seems to be the reasoning behind this move. Everything these days is getting cut or getting cut back.
If you’re feeling confused, you’re not alone. In the past six months, our office has seen a surge in loan activity, a sign to me that the recent new federally supported programs are giving the market the long-awaited boost. With current loan amounts, it widens the net to save more homeowners from going under. Moreover, the low down payment, along with historic low interest rates, is finally attracting first-time buyers who are the catalyst in moving up buyers to the next level.
October is just a few short months away. While there are other programs out there offering 3% down payment and USDA 0 down payment, they cost more. You owe it to yourself to explore this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy or refinance. It costs nothing. Simply give us a call – before it’s too late.
June 26, 2012
Are you a homeowner with an FHA loan opened on or before May 2009? Or a USDA rural loan for at least 12 months? If so, there’s good news for those looking to refinance to a lower rate and cost.
Under the Obama administration, both FHA and USDA have implemented easier refinancing guidelines to help the housing market’s recovery and homeowners who are underwater. Essentially, the programs aim to lower monthly mortgage payments with all-time low interest rates and expedite the process by reducing some requirements and paperwork. One critical requirement is that you must have 12 months of on-time mortgage payments and proof of sufficient income to qualify.
A few of the key changes include:
- Eliminating a new appraisal.
- Lower interest rate and monthly payment.
- Lower Mortgage Insurance charges.
- No cash out of the refinancing.
While both are intended to be breezy transactions, they each have their own specific requirements which unfortunately may exclude many desperate homeowners. This is particularly true for FHA mortgages taken out after the May 31, 2009 cut-off date. Housing prices and interest rates have continued to go down over the past three years. With that, there are many who would no doubt want the opportunity to save some money as well as their home.
The FHA and USDA Streamlined Refinancing have just recently been launched and come on the heels of the government’s new, improved HARP 2.0 (Home Affordable Refinance Program) that assists those with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgages. There just might be a safety net out there for you, and we can help you find it – for free!
May 25, 2012
Since the new, revised Home Affordable Refinancing Program (HARP) rolled out in March, our office has been inundated with inquiries. This isn’t too surprising given that the program offered more hope and fewer restrictions to so many homeowners under water with their mortgage. While working on several applications, I’m discovering that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two giant government-controlled mortgage lenders, are changing their tune with regard to the much-hyped refi program.
The two key stand-out features of HARP 2.0 were the unlimited loan-to-value ratio and no appraisal. This opened the door for a greater number of hard-hit homeowners to seek assistance. Just in the last two weeks of securing new loans for our clients through HARP, Freddie Mac has changed the unlimited loan to value guideline to a maximum of 105% of value. Additionally, getting appraisals waived has been a constant struggle, and not always successful.
I can understand that programs of this enormity and complexity don’t always run flawlessly upon implementation. However; HARP 2.0 was in development for over a year before being launched. Secondly, its purpose was to loosen the restrictions in order to capture more hard-hit homeowners – the downfall of the original HARP.
Perhaps I’m unfairly harping on HARP 2.0. Yet with so much of the loan process hung up in the program’s automated system, we have been working tirelessly, evenings and weekends, with the automated systems to get the loan approved the way it is needed. Fannie Mae’s system works a bit better, but overall, it takes tremendous perseverance and tenacity to get to the finish line.
The good news? We are averaging a savings of $250 a month on new HARP loans. That’s a real boom for struggling homeowners. If you have a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae mortgage, we can help you realize that too and you don’t pay us a dime!