When Are Marin County Property Tax Bills Due?

As I write this in October of 2019, my very own Marin County property tax bills just arrived. Well, allow me to reframe that. It is widely understood that our real estate tax bills are issued “sometime in October,” but when you actually receive them in the mail on October 1, it says all you need to know about our Assessor’s intent to get the point across. So with the same procrastination exhibited by most fellow Marin County property owners who will join me in actually paying the bill a few days before a penalty is assessed, I thought it was a ripe opportunity to share some basics on how, when and where to pay our real estate taxes and at the same time avoid the consequences of late payments.

Property Tax Bill Information and Due Dates

Secured property tax bills are mailed in October and payable in two installments:

  • First installment due date: November 1
  • Second installment due date: February 1

“Now hold on a minute!” you say. “I was told I could pay in December and April!” Well, technically, you can.  The late dates for the installments are December 10 and April 10, respectively. And what I’ve noticed after a long career in home finance is that most county residents pay just before these late dates. In fact, if you really want to people watch at the post office and you can’t make it on any given April 15, your next best viewing opportunity is very likely December 10. Late penalties are 10% of the installment amount, so it’s not just a slap on the wrist. State law extends the deadlines above to the following Monday if December 10 or April 10 fall on a weekend, but postmark determines the payment date. If you’re late and don’t include the penalty, the county will send back your original payment.

What About an Impound Account?

If you have an escrow or impound account through which your mortgage lender pays your taxes, your property tax bill will state, “a copy of this bill was sent to a paying agent at their request.” If you are unsure of whether or not your lender has paid your tax installment, you should clarify this with your servicer. They are the folks who send you your monthly mortgage statement. I always advise my clients to let me know if they need help with this — I just feel it’s a service any good mortgage professional should provide, and we handle the “straightening out” of countless, anxiety-inducing property tax questions throughout the course of any year. Note that if you pay your mortgage in full or refinance during the course of any year, you may become responsible for your tax payments even if you’ve impounded all along. Again, call us if we can assist.

How to Pay

Payments may be made via any of the methods below and partial payments are NOT accepted by the Marin County’s Assessor’s office.

  • Online:  www.marincounty.org/Taxbillonline. You will need the parcel number (APN) from your bill.
  • Phone: 1-800-985-7277 using your bill number.
  • Mail: Marin County Tax Collector, PO Box 4220, San Rafael, CA 94913-4220
  • Office: 3501 Civic Center Drive, Room 202, San Rafael, CA 94903 (Mon/Fri, 9am to 4:30pm)

Remember that if you’re in the loan process and you need to document payment of any installment (which can occasionally be a requirement), you’ll probably need to obtain a receipt by paying at the window.

What About Supplemental Tax Bills?

Great question! The County issues a supplemental assessment when a change in ownership occurs. This bill reflects the difference between the seller’s basis and your new and ongoing basis and you’ll only receive it in that first year of the purchase. Afterwards, the correct tax amount is entirely reflected on your regular bill. The Assessor’s office provides owners with new, previous and supplemental values and you can always call them directly at 415-473-7215.

Every day I work to help people buy and refinance real estate in Marin. Often it’s a challenge for them, mostly due to lack of inventory and high home prices. As the rest of us grouse and grumble about writing our checks to the county, let’s remember that it’s also a privilege to do so.

Read my lips, 

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

What Happens When My Appraisal Comes in Low (or High!)?

You’re in the process of buying a home, and so far things have been going pretty smoothly.  Your lender has pre-approved you, your Realtor has found you the perfect home, and with a bit of luck, the seller accepted your offer and now you’re in contract.  It’s very likely that early on in your loan process — usually within the first few days of having your offer accepted — your lender ordered an appraisal.  From there, a licensed appraiser went out to the property and then turned in a completed appraisal report (which, at its core, is a professional opinion of value).  Of course, you know the dollar amount you’re paying for the home because that figure is on your contract.  But what happens if the appraisal doesn’t support that price?  What happens if the appraisal comes in low, or for that matter, high?  Let’s take a look.

My Appraisal Came in Low

I’m in California and I like to use round numbers, so let’s say you’re buying a home for a cool $1,000,000.  You are putting 20% down ($200,000), and you are getting a loan for $800,000.  We would say your loan-to-value (LTV) is 80%.  When your lender pre-approved your loan, he probably structured most of the important aspects of your financing, such as program selection, approval guidelines, interest rate, etc., on the assumption you would have an LTV of 80% or less.  Let’s say the appraiser goes out to the home, does the best job she can and after all comparable properties (“comps”) are analyzed, can only support a value for the home of $975K. How does the lender react to this information?  For conventional mortgages, the lender will use the lesser of the purchase price or appraised value to determine the LTV.  This is the key concept and we’ll come back to it in a minute and in a different scenario, but for now, let’s go to the chalkboard and do the math:

Before appraisal:

  • $1,000,000             Contract price
  • ($1,000,000)          Assumption of value
  • $800,000                Loan amount
  • 80%                        Loan-to-Value

After appraisal:

  • $1,000,000             Contract price
  • $975,000                Appraised value
  • $800,000                Loan amount
  • 82%                        Loan-to-Value

Houston, we have a problem.  If your loan approval has rested on the assumption that you have an LTV of 80% of less, we can see that this is no longer the case.  This buyer might pursue these options to remedy the matter:

  1. Use a different loan program that might accommodate the higher loan-to-value.  This might mean taking PMI (private mortgage insurance), or using a piggyback loan, for example.
  2. “Making up the difference in cash.”  To produce an 80% LTV against a value of $975K, the loan amount would be $780K.  Assuming the purchase price stays at $1MM, this buyer, who would have previously made a down payment of $200K, will now need to make a down payment of $220K.
  3. Renegotiate the contract.  Often, we’ll see the buyer go back to the seller and ask for some concession on the price.  Maybe the seller will be willing to reduce the price slightly to keep the transaction moving forward, instead of falling out of contract and starting over with a new buyer.
  4. Rebut the appraisal.  Perhaps factual error or oversight of a strong comp caused the appraised value to be lower than it might be otherwise.  Buyers can opt to have their lender pursue a reconsideration of value.  Word to the wise, many rebuttals come back with no change.  In other words, they uphold the original appraisal.  But most also chew up a lot of contractual time.  Pursuing a reconsideration can be a gamble with a low probability of success.
  5. Try a new appraisal?  Hold on a second — this is not a valid option, but I bring it up because we do get the question.  So long as you stay with the lender who performed the original appraisal, ordering a new appraisal to “value fish” is not permitted.

The last important point about a low appraisal value is that it may only matter to the buyer whose loan is near an important loan threshold or guideline.  In our example above, the reason the low appraisal triggered significant changes is because the 80% LTV threshold is important in conventional lending.  And there are others like it you may not recognize, but that your lender can explain.  However, let’s say our buyer above was putting $500K down on a purchase of $1MM (50% LTV) and the appraisal comes back at $975K.  Now the LTV is 51%.  Big deal.  No key lending thresholds are crossed and this borrower very likely sees zero change to his terms.

What Happens If My Appraisal Comes in High?

Well, this paragraph is going to be a lot shorter.  In conventional lending, and for a purchase transaction, you cannot “monetize” an appraisal value that comes in above the purchase price.  Again, we use the lesser of the purchase price or appraised value to determine LTV.  Still, it’s great news.  You are getting a deal on the home, but in terms of making a smaller down payment or otherwise leveraging the higher value, there are “no dice” here.  Yes, down the road that higher value might allow you to refinance with greater ease and/or better interest rates, but practically speaking an appraisal that comes in higher than contract price is really just a vote of confidence.

If you’re reading this post and find yourself in a bind because your appraisal just came in low, don’t hesitate to get in touch.  We have a large selection of mortgage programs that grant more flexibility with LTV, and we have a lot of experience navigating the loan process together with the intricacies of fulfilling requirements of your contract.  We’re here to help with your mortgage needs whether your appraised value comes in high, low or right on the money.

Thing of value, 

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office:  324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA  94960
Berkeley Office:  1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA  94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate.  In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

Your Debt-to-Income Ratio Is High and It Will Be Alright

You might have been lured into reading this blog post under the false assumption that I’d be discussing the controversial subject of financing cannabis-related businesses and property.  Well, you can let that notion go up in smoke.  Instead, we’re going to talk about the ways you can get a great jumbo mortgage in California if your debt-to-income ratio (also known as “DTI”) is higher than Jeff Spicoli at 4:20pm.  OK, dude, not really, but we are going to address the ways you can get a decent home loan with a very competitive rate if your DTI exceeds 43% — the maximum amount specified for a qualified mortgage, or “QM.”  Let’s get together and review a little background first.

Your debt-to-income ratio is determined by dividing your gross monthly income into your housing debt(we use the total monthly housing payment or “PITI”) to determine the “front end” or “housing” ratio, and then we use gross income divided into your total obligations for your “back end” or “total” DTI.  Remember to let us do the calculations to precision, but certainly feel free to use these examples as a guide.  Let’s say our borrower earns $10,000 gross per month and will have a housing payment of $3000.  This would produce a 30% housing ratio.  Now let’s also say that this borrower has $1000 per month in other expenses (auto payments, student loans, credit card minimum payments, etc.).  Our $4000 in total monthly debts, once combined with the housing payment, produces a total DTI of 40% ($4000 / $10,000 = .40).

Conforming, FHA and VA loans have a temporary exemption in the eyes of our regulators.  These types of mortgages can have a debt to income ratio that exceeds 43% and STILL be considered a qualified mortgage.  But once the loan amount exceeds conforming loan limits (and sometimes even where it doesn’t), we now have a “jumbo” loan and we are held to the letter of the law.  This means that the DTI ratio cannot exceed 43%.  If it does, we have a “non-QM” loan.  With the non-QM status, the lender incurs additional risk.  Where the lender incurs additional risk, the borrower typically pays in interest rate.  In short, more risk, more rate.  But not all lenders address the risk piece identically and quite frankly, many of the largest jumbo lenders won’t go above 43% at all.  We’re different in two ways:

  1. We have competitively-priced mortgage options — on the jumbo side — that allow a DTI of 49.99%.  Another of our options will permit a 47% debt-to-income.  How about interest-only loans?  We have them too, and they allow a 45% DTI (using their formula for qualifying payment, which is not the interest-only payment).  Sometimes our strategy will involve using a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to bring the debt ratio in line.  There too, 45%.  Indeed, sometimes our wide credit box allows us to solve the issue just by way of a niche loan program.
  2. We often view the income and debt calculation more favorably than Lender B, or we bring in income from other sources, such as asset utilization.  In these cases, we keep the debt ratio under 43%, but we do so in a manner that again thinks outside of the QM box, though it often prices equivalent to a QM mortgage.

So if you’re looking for a jumbo mortgage in California and the usual banking suspects are telling you that you don’t qualify because your DTI is high, then I’m telling you to get up, stand up and connect with me today.  Let’s review your scenario free of cost and obligation and get you back into approval status for the home you love and the loan you need.

I shot the sheriff, 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

Can I Get a Mortgage If I Am Retired?

I live in an aging county. So if you ever find yourself vacationing in the lovely city of San Francisco, give this little exercise a try: Simply get in your Uber. Or rent one of those death trap three-wheelers at Fisherman’s Wharf. Or bundle up take it on the heel and toe and come across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to magical Marin County. Now, did you feel yourself getting older in the process?

Even if not, Marin County’s residents, with their 46.1-year old median age, clean air, great schools and liberal politics, will welcome you to one of the most special places in the USA. I’m willing to bet it won’t be too long before one of our residents will tell you that our median home price, at least at the end of 2019, is hovering right around $1,200,000. So what happens when a retired person wants to buy a home in a high-cost area with a jumbo loan but without the income one would typically have from employment?

Lately, I’ve seen an increasing number of mortgage scenarios exploit a qualifying feature known as asset utilization (AU). Depending on the investor, this might also be known as asset depletion, asset amortization or an asset-based mortgage. This alternative qualification method can be a real benefit to a retired borrower or to a buyer/owner who is not of retirement age but who has amassed a sizable asset portfolio (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, cash equivalents, etc.). Regardless of what it’s called I’m going to demonstrate how thinking outside of the employment-based income box can open up a world of home loan possibilities.

How Does it Work?

First and foremost, an asset utilization loan is NOT a stated income loan. We’re not going to party like it’s 1999. This is also not a reverse mortgage. With AU, we’re going to look at a borrower’s total liquid assets and we’re going to apply a formula that will create a hypothetical income stream. Assets do not need to be liquidated, distributions do not need to be taken and money does not need to be pledged or moved. But we’ll take our allowable asset total, which discounts for reserves and risk of the asset class itself, and we’ll come up with an equivalent monthly income figure. This number can, in turn, be used to replace or supplement traditional employment-based income.

Who Can Use It?

Most of our AU programs are available to all borrowers, regardless of date of birth. However, depending upon age, certain assets may or may not be allowed in the calculation. It would be a safe assumption and example that for a 45-year old borrower, we would not be able to asset deplete a retirement account. However, for that same borrower, non-retirement investments would all be eligible for the AU formula. Let’s take the case of a tech entrepreneur who is between start-up gigs. She is in her late 30’s and has $2MM in stock and investments. We can’t qualify any salary or self-employed income but we certainly can look at the assets and derive a monthly income. And if it fits her scenario, she could be eligible to buy today, even without verifiable employment. More traditionally, let’s take our 69-year old retiree. He has $3MM “in the bank,” wants to buy a home worth $1.1MM and doesn’t want to pay cash, which would erode the value of his portfolio (the same one that will produce the income on which he’ll largely depend in years to come). Without liquidating anything other than the down payment and closing costs, the borrower can use an AU program and seek to qualify for a mortgage that meets his needs.

What About the Math?

We have a handful of investors that offer AU qualifications and they all work slightly differently. Their programs will range from ARM to fixed and their formula for the generation of asset-based income will yield, for example, a monthly stream of between $3000 and $6000 per $1MM in assets. And remember, this income can be used in addition to other qualifiable income such as social security, pensions and regular employment’s wages or self-employed documented income. The key concept is that AU income can be used both ‘in place of’ and ‘in addition to.’ It’s a great feature in the hands of an expert loan advisor but not all lenders have these programs available and even of those who do, few loan originators take the time to master them.

So before I need a nap, remember that if you are retired from employment, but not necessarily from participating in the housing market, we have a mortgage program you may wish to consider. Call me today if I can be of service.

On golden pond, 

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959 Fax: 415-366-1590
rob.spinosa@rate.com
Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

Do Any Mortgage Lenders Work on the Weekend?

The fact of the matter is that a lot of real estate business gets done on Saturdays and Sundays. Prospective buyers go to open houses and buyers’ real estate agents often need to structure offers for their clients. Unfortunately, not all banks are open on the weekend even those that may take deposits and cash checks often do not have a home loan professional available to pre-approve a buyer or answer a complicated home loan question in an instant.

I’m different. Even though I’m generally not in the office on the weekend, I can always be reached and I have the full capacity to work through your scenario and give you an edge over your competition — those other bankers, brokers or lenders that may wait until Monday morning to get underway.

Let us know if we can help you today, whether that day is during the work week or the two days that follow, and that everybody’s been waiting for.

C’mon let it go! 

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

Should I Refinance into a 15-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage?

With the Federal Reserve tongue-tied and twisted and an easy trade war time-tripping into the future, we find ourselves the beneficiaries of another very appealing low interest rate environment here in the second half of 2019. This stands to benefit many who have mortgages at higher rates and even some who may not fit that exact bill, but who are focused primarily on reducing the term of their loan and perhaps paying their entire balance off at a faster rate. We are seeing a number of homeowners who are seeking to determine if they should abandon their 30-year amortized loans and refinance into a 15-year fixed. What are the key concepts these individuals need to know before they make this leap?

  1. For the vast majority, the mortgage payment will go up.  A while back I did the research on this and came up with my “10 and 2” rule. Namely, if you are in a 30-year loan now and have been paying it down for 10 years, then you refinance into a 15-year fixed rate loan with at least a 2% rate reduction over your present loan, only then would you have a new payment that is the same or lower than your current payment. And that’s a reach. So for most, refinancing into a 15-year fixed means a higher monthly payment, safe in the knowledge that the additional amount is going to reduce your principal balance and not to additional interest.
  2. You save big long-term. The total finance charge (aka, interest) on a 15-year loan versus a 30-year loan is dramatic. For example, on a $400K loan at 4%, you will pay a total of $287,478 in interest over 30 years. On a 15-year fixed at 4%, you will pay $132,575. But there’s a silver lining for the 15. Often the rate on a 15-year fixed will be lower than for a 30, so not only do you save on interest because of the term, but you save on interest additionally because of the lower rate. The rich get richer.
  3. Be mindful of your credit capacity. If you refinance into a 15, you’ll have a higher payment reporting on your credit report. Other creditors who may examine your debt-to-income (DTI) as a function of your creditworthiness could limit your access to credit due to the higher payment. This may or may not be a factor for your financial future, but do take it into consideration before you take the 15-year plunge.
  4. It’s possible to be debt free but wealth poor. I realize this sounds funny, and paying off a home is a commendable financial goal, but realize that while you are doing it, most of us also need to meet concurrent objectives when it comes to our money. Having a “rainy day” fund, paying off any tax-disadvantaged higher-rate consumer debt, saving for college and retirement and investing outside of real estate are important and worthy objectives and if all of your discretionary income goes into a higher mortgage payment, you could find yourself debt-free but savings poor down the road. That would almost certainly force you to look into refinancing the home again and accessing the equity, likely with a 30-year loan or a HELOC. Don’t laugh, we’ve seen this movie before…

With rates lower, it might indeed be worth looking into a 15-year fixed rate mortgage. But keep the above points in mind as you do. Like in physics, all actions have opposite reactions and finance is no different. Getting a lower rate, paying less interest over term and paying off your home quicker are all enticing objectives. There is a price to entry, however, and any true loan professional can help you assess that cost. Let me know if you need my help at any point in your journey.

Free and clear, 

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

Closing Costs on a Mortgage

When a homebuyer, or homeowner looking to refinance, obtains a mortgage, there are always associated costs. Even in the so-called “no cost” loan structures, trust me, you’re paying something. When a consumer does the research on what it will cost to get a loan, there are a few ways to categorize and better understand what’s being charged. Specific numbers will vary wildly depending on the nature of the transaction, the amount and where the settlement takes place. A key takeaway of this article will be to differentiate between a “cost” and a “settlement charge.” They are not the same, and how they interact plays a large part in the total amount of cash a borrower ends up bringing to the closing table. I have found that by using three broad categories, we can get a better sense of how things will play out, and as a result, feel less of a sense of shock about the total amount of any settlement. Let’s look at these “buckets” now:

Lender Costs and Fees

Most lenders will charge an “origination fee,” and that cost is usually intended to cover their overhead. What I see across the industry is that this fee will typically range from $500 to $1500, though it may be called something other than origination. Lenders might also charge separate fees for credit reports, appraisals, flood certs and tax service, for example. If you are paying any discount points to lower your rate, they will be listed in this section as well.

Title/Escrow/Closing Agent Fees

Two things you’ll likely need in your transaction will be a closing agent (this can be an escrow company, attorney or other, depending on the real estate practices in your area) and some form of title insurance. While your fees for the settlement services themselves and the title insurance policy(s) will be the largest costs in this category, you’ll also see smaller amounts such as document preparation, notary, recording and other costs associated with title and escrow.

Prepaid Items

If there’s a place where things get tricky and where a settlement can “blow up,” this is it. “Prepaids” are amounts of mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance (both homeowner’s and flood, if required) and other components of the total monthly housing payment that are collected in advance and that contribute to your settlement. Without going into the complex calculations, know that when you have an impound or escrow account and you close a purchase or refinance transaction, your lender will collect those amounts in multiples of months. If the timing of your close predicates that you must reserves six months of property taxes and your property taxes are $6000 per year ($500 per month) then at close the lender will collect $3000 in tax impound reserves. It should be noted that this is not a “cost” of getting the loan. Your property taxes are due once you are an owner, but how you pay them drives this calculation and adds to your settlement.

While in this category, let’s do a little refresher on how mortgage payments are made. You pay mortgage interest ‘in arrears,’ which means that you live in the house for one month and then you pay your mortgage payment on the first date of the next month. If you close a home transaction on July 15, for example, your first payment on your mortgage will be due on September 1, not August 1. But why? Because mortgage interest is paid in arrears. At this closing, you would pay prepaid interest from July 15 through the end of July. You would have no August 1 regular payment (sometimes called “skipping a payment”). Then, because you’d live in the home all of August, you would get a ‘regular’ mortgage statement on September 1 for that time. It is by this logic that we discourage our clients from financing the prepaid interest, which can amount to several thousand dollars. If your settlement statement shows this amount of closing costs, it may be financially wise to bite the bullet and pay it, as you will not have your regular mortgage payment coming right on the heels of the closing.

Understanding how closing costs work goes a long way to understanding the actual amount you’ll see on your settlement statement. In any transaction there will be a total settlement amount, of which only a part will be actual costs to get the loan. Still, there is always a bottom line and understanding that at the start can help avoid confusion and unwanted surprises with cash to close.  If you have questions or need my help, get in touch any time.

Coffee is for closers, 

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

What’s the Point of Points?

Let’s get right to the point. What point? Points. I don’t get it. What’s your point? The point is points — what are they, how do they work and should I pay them when I get a mortgage? There’s a lot of confusion about points and when a borrower researches his or her best mortgage options, inevitably there will be an element of points in the debate. So in order to help ourselves find the best terms on any home loan, we need to get this point thing under our belt.

Point One (One Point)

Simply, one point equals 1 percent of the loan amount. If you have a $500,000 mortgage, 1% of it is $5000. Similarly, fractions of a point work the same. In our example, 1/2 point on $500K is $2500. If a lender says you can get any certain rate by paying 3/4 of a point, simply take your loan amount and multiply it by .75%. This rule never changes, despite loan size, type, borrower profile, etc. One point is one percent of the loan amount.

Point Two

Let’s put a finer point on points. We’re going to focus on “discount points” and not “origination points.” Discount points are meant to have a direct impact on the rate that the borrower obtains. “Origination points” are a cost to get the loan itself — independent of the rate provided. An important concept to know here is that on any given day, a mortgage lender can offer the public a range of rates. Let’s say a borrower qualifies for a 4.000% rate with “zero points.” This means that without paying any discount cost, the borrower’s rate would be 4.000%. Easy, right? OK. So what happens if the borrower wants a rate of 3.75%? Is that possible? Yes. But in order to get the lower rate, the borrower will need to “pay” the lender what it would cost to bring the 3.75% rate to “par,” meaning to level equal with the cost of the money at 4.000%. On the lender side, there is more cost associated with lower rates and an “inverse cost” (aka, lender credit) associated with higher rates. So on the scale of, say, 3.500% to 4.500%, the lowest rate would have the highest cost to obtain and the highest rate would have the highest “rebate” or lender credit. Due to regulation, lenders cannot profit any more or less depending on the rate chosen, so the cost or credit to obtain any rate must come from, or go to, the consumer.

Point Three

Does it make sense to pay points when you get a mortgage? Now I must tell you that as a veteran loan originator, many borrowers pay points to get a “sexy” rate. Let’s say a 4.000% rate is available with zero points, but that a 3.875% rate can be bought for a half point. Some will make that investment just to have the ‘3’ handle on their “water cooler rate.” OK, fine. It happens. But the decision to pay points should always include a math calculation and fortunately, it is a simple one. Let’s use our example again and say that 4.000% is available on a $400K loan at 0 points, or “par.” The payment on this loan would be $1910. Now let’s say this borrower hopes to get a rate of 3.750%. The lender comes back and says that 3.750% will cost .75% (3/4 of a point) to obtain. So, we have an investment of $3000 that will be paid at close as discount points, but in return, this borrower will get a 3.750% rate instead of 4.000% for the life of the loan. The payment savings per month in this case would be $58. Remember that the borrower is “investing” $3000 at close to get the $58/M savings, so we divide the cost by the savings to determine the number of months it will take to recover the investment. In this case, it will take 52 months, or a little over four years. If this borrower plans to be in the home and not replace the mortgage within the that time, the choice to pay points may indeed be a good one. However, if the borrower does sell or refinance in that initial window, the investment (or part of it) really will not return. Yes, the borrower got the better cash flow per month, but he/she never realized the true savings the lower rate would provide.

The decision to pay points is a personal one. This is not a “right or wrong” choice and is highly individualized to the scenario and the borrower’s financial plans and goals. Helping a buyer or someone looking to refinance understand how points work, and if paying them is worthwhile, is a conversation we are always happy to have. Call any time if I can be of service!

In the right direction, 

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

No-Cost Refinances. Too Good to Be True?

With all the talk of trade wars pushing mortgage rates to lows we haven’t seen in a couple of years, perhaps you’ve been thinking of refinancing and maybe even done a bit of research on the topic. It’s likely you’ve come across the term “no cost refinance,“ and you may be saying to yourself, “How do some lenders offer a refinance without costs?” or, “Is this too good to be true?”

It’s important to recognize that all financial transactions involve some costs. In the case of a mortgage these could be lender fees, appraisal fees, charges paid to a title or escrow company and even days of interest on the loan itself. It would not be fair to say that a refinance has “no costs,” but perhaps more accurate to realize there are different ways these costs can be paid. Let’s look at the three most common ways a borrower will cover the expenses of a refinance:

  1. Increased loan amount: Let’s say our borrower has an existing loan balance of $400,000 and closing costs that total $3000. This applicant would aim to finance $403,000 with the new loan. So long as the appraised value of the home will permit and so long as the new rate and payment allow, this would be the most common way we’d see a borrower refinance his or her home loan.
  2. Out of pocket: In our example above, this homeowner would not increase the loan amount, but instead leave it at $400,000 and would write a check, at closing, for the $3000 in total settlement charges. The largest benefit here is that the loan amount does not increase. This is the least common approach we see.
  3. “No Cost” structure: In a no cost refinance, the borrower actually opts to take a slightly higher rate than he could otherwise attain. With the higher rate, the lender will usually be able to offer a higher “rebate” or lender credit, and these funds are then used to pay the settlement charges. The borrower does not increase the loan amount, but foregoes a rate that might otherwise have been slightly lower.

So you may be asking, “Why would anyone deliberately take a higher rate?” The answer comes down to math and a slight shift in philosophy. In the case of the math, a lower rate and payment, no increase in loan balance, and costs that do not need to be paid out of pocket are all desirable and very likely have financial benefit in both near- and long-term. And in a philosophical light, the borrower is accepting that it is better to get most of the benefit at none of the cost than all of the benefit at some of the cost.

What’s the best way to refinance? The answer depends entirely on your own situation. If your subject property is in California, get in touch today and we’ll help you make that determination.

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose,

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

When Is a Good Time to Refinance?

There’s that great, old maxim that goes, “There are two kinds of jobs in the world; the kind you shower before and the kind you shower after.” And in that spirit, I would offer that there are two kinds of refinances in the world — the kind you transact because you want to and the kind you pursue because you must. We’ll cover both here and we’ll talk about when it may be a good time to consider refinancing your home. But first, some basics.

Refinancing your mortgage(s) allows you to change the terms of your current loan or loans, by replacing them with a new one. Yes, you will go through the loan process again and there will be associated costs. Analyzing the recovery period on the costs involved will be a component we’ll address below, but even in the case of a “no cost” refinance, just accept that there are always some expenses. Next, because your title does not transfer in a refinance, it is very unlikely your property tax basis will change via refinancing. Many homeowners express that concern, but it is a concern that is generally unfounded. You can most often refinance without fear of triggering a reassessment and seeing your property taxes go up. Finally, there are two, broad categories of refinances; rate and term, and cash out. A rate/term refinance will cover just the payoff of your existing loan balance and perhaps your closing costs. A cash out refinance will pay off the existing loan or loans, your closing costs and will allow you to “cash out” some of the equity in your home. In other words, you walk away from escrow with a check. And no, you do not pay income taxes on those proceeds, as they are not income, but equity instead.

Refinances of Choice

By far, most refi activity is driven by rate. If you hold a mortgage at 5.000%, for example, and rates drop to 4.250%, and a refinance at the lower rate can save you $250 per month, you can consider making the switch. Now if it costs $3000 to refinance the loan, you will “recover” your closing costs in the first year you hold the new loan, but thereafter, you are saving $250. Some might argue that part of your savings stem from resetting the loan term back to 30 years — and they would be right. But nothing prevents this borrower from refinancing then continuing to make the original payment they had with the old loan, right? By doing so, they might even get ahead of total interest payments. So a refinance by choice provides options for saving in the near-term or long-term, depending on the borrower’s objectives. And we help them analyze and figure this out.

We’ll occasionally help a borrower convert a 30-year fixed into a 15-year fixed loan to hasten pay down of the loan. Sure, the payment almost always goes up in these cases — so this would definitely fall into the “choice” category — but if the owners can afford it, the reduction in term interest can offer a real financial benefit.

Next, we have the “cash out” refinance where the borrowers will use the proceeds to finance home improvement, a large purchase, college tuition, etc. I’ll even go so far as to say a debt consolidation refinance can fall into the “choice” category because there are occasions where a borrower’s debt may still be manageable but a careful review suggests that by consolidating it with the mortgage, the overall financial result is positive. And then there are other occasions where debt gets out of control and a refinance is really the only way to bring it back to a manageable state. That brings us to our next category…

Refinances of Necessity

Debt consolidation refinances where a borrower can significantly reduce payments are NOT, I repeat, not a free lunch. If you build student loan, credit card and other consumer debt into your mortgage, you might effectively be financing short-term debt at higher rates over a much longer term at lower rates. Still, interest is accruing in both cases.  Further, it’s incumbent upon the borrower to avoid racking up new debt once the old ones are consolidated. That kind of fiscal discipline must go hand in hand with a debt consolidation refi if it truly to move the homeowner forward financially. Other refinances of necessity happen when a loan has a balloon feature. In these cases, the loan holder must change the terms of the note before the balloon payment is due. Even though not as dire, we’ll often see a refinance used to get a borrower out of an ARM loan that will begin adjusting in the future and into a fixed rate loan. I’ll also group refinances to drop PMI (or FHA MIP) in the ‘necessity’ category. Sure, paying the insurance premiums perhaps isn’t life or death, but most borrowers do feel that if they can drop PMI and save right now, that’s something worth acting upon instead of waiting.

Individual financial situations are as unique as houses themselves. Refinancing is a tool that can help accomplish a wide array of financial goals, but regardless of the intended outcome, it’s vitally important that the math and the costs are understood. In each case, we help our refinance clients develop a better understanding of what’s at stake today, during the process and into the future. If you feel we can help you with your refinance decision, get in touch any time.

Back Jack, do it again, 

 

Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending
Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959
rob.spinosa@rate.com

Marin Office: 324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA 94960
Berkeley Office: 1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate. In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate’s Human Resources Department.

Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 – (866) 934-7283