The Seven Real Estate Stages of the Pandemic

By now, some of us have lost a loved one, friend or community member to COVID-19.  Though if the cavalier denialism exhibited by some Americans is an indicator, there are still many who have yet to share the magnitude of such a loss.  But even putting one’s head in the sand about the medical realities of the coronavirus cannot spare us the social, emotional and economic impacts. 

It’s accepted as true that though we all grieve a loss, everyone grieves in a unique manner.  One of the most referenced works on the topic was written in 1969 by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in her book On Death and Dying. This philosophy is popularly referred to as the “stages of grief,” and whether comprised of five emotions or seven, it feels increasingly as though we are traveling through ‘stages of the pandemic’ in both our professional and personal lives.  Sometimes we mourn the loss of our “past life” in a linear fashion and sometimes we jump along the steps chaotically, but without a doubt we have been presented with an event that has impacted our world and is in the process of shaping our future.  If I think back to February or March, and reflect on today, here are some examples from my journey through the stages: 

1) Shock and disbelief

Wait, no broker tours, no showing of property?  Here we go again a la Lehman, 2008 or 9/11 — investors leaving the market and loan programs being suspended or canceled.  Tremendous rate chaos.  

2) Denial

No way they will shut businesses down — that’s crazy.  What do you mean the kids are not going to go to school?  The Junior Warriors basketball season is canceled?

3) Guilt

I should have been more forceful with our clients who were on the fence.  How did we get lulled into complacency with credit availability?  Why did we let our guard down and not consider existential risks in our assessments of the market?  

4) Anger and bargaining

Why are we, here in CA, subject to shelter-in-place while people in other parts of the country are still conducting business as usual?  What do these “health experts” really know?  Man, I HATE Zoom meetings!

5) Depression/loneliness/reflection

My 85-year old dad is 2000 miles away and I’m not sure when he’ll see his grandson next.  I’m not going to see the inside of a bustling conference room for many months. Some of the skills, habits and personality traits I’ve used to build my business are going to be sidelined indefinitely.  Put the professional wardrobe in mothballs…

6) Reconstruction and working through

Yes, this is the landscape of our new reality — it is not temporary.  Embrace, learn and master the tools and tactics necessary to maintain momentum.  Contemplate what it will take to grow in a remote world.  Reinvest marketing dollars accordingly.   Rethink all iterations of “it’s just the way we do things.”

7) Acceptance and hope

The way we did business is over.  What remnants exist are gifts but my mindset must accept that I am in a foreign country now and I need to first learn and then speak their language.  I can still think in my native tongue, but the longer I hold out and do so, the more difficult it will be to assimilate.  The sooner I embrace the good and bad of the new culture, the sooner I will be open to its wonders.

Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, I can find myself cycling through several or even all of the above stages on any given day.  My guess is that most others do as well — unless they are stuck.  Maybe they’re stuck in denial.  Maybe they’re still pissed off — at their governor, at their clients, at themselves. Then again, maybe some are well on their way of reconstructing their businesses but  require help they never previously needed; with new technology, with new tools, with new ideas.  My point is that we have all lost a loved one — our pre-pandemic way of life and business.  It’s now up to us to move on, yet before we do we must confront the grieving process.  Recognizing that is part of a healthy healing process too.

In loving memory,

Rob 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 Are Credit Tradelines?

I think I’ve made it clear before that I find no shame in talking about how hard we work for our clients. My assistant, Jamie, and I see a good number of mortgage applications come across our desks every week and in 2019 and 2020, a high percentage of them have been for jumbo home loans, which means that our borrowers must demonstrate strong credit depth by way of an adequate number of tradelines on their credit report. Gone are the days when one could just have a decent FICO score in order to cross credit concerns off of the loan approval list.

When we talk about credit tradelines and credit depth, most of the prominent jumbo mortgage banks like to see recent credit activity (that is, use of credit and timely payment) to consider any account active. And that’s really what a “tradeline” is — an account. An individual tradeline might be a mortgage, an auto or student loan or a credit card. All are different types of “trades” but in the case of revolving debts like credit cards, use of those cards in the last year or two is what really brings the tradelines into active status and works to meet the jumbo lender’s requirements.  By far, the gold standard for jumbo credit is three active tradelines with activity in the last twelve months, per borrower.

So in that spirit, I’m going to let you all in on a secret for getting a great jumbo loan if you are thinking that a mortgage application may be in your future in the coming months. Here are three GREAT ideas for taking that seldom-used credit card lurking in the back of your wallet or purse, or that forlorn department store card that you forget you had, and turning it into a bona fide active tradeline which, in turn, makes you eligible for the widest selection of jumbo loan programs.

1) The Starbucks Triple Mocha Frappuccino (Venti): $4.95

This frosty beverage will set you back both 500 calories and 500 centavos — but don’t you dare pinch pennies to pay this time. Instead I want you to reach for the least-used credit card in your quiver and rack this hefty charge on that piece of plastic. By doing so, you’ll bring this credit card to “active status” within the last 12 months and you’ll be on your way to both cardiac arrest and credit qualification.

2) Nashua Tape 1.89 in. x 120 yd. 300 Heavy-Duty Duct Tape (2-Pack): $10.88

Race fans! Hot rodders! Weekend warriors! Remember when you bought your house and your mother-in-law gave you a $100 gift card to Home Depot? Remember when you used it all plus another $400 on that initial visit and they convinced you to open a store card, take advantage of the discount and then pay the rest off later? Remember too that you haven’t used the card since that day twelve years ago? Well, now’s the time to repair everything in the house with duct tape. We already knew of its all-purpose abilities, so you’re burnin’ daylight, pardner. Get crackin’ on those DIY projects and the ‘honey do’ list and pick up a two-pack just in case.

3) The Warren Plaid Boxer: Now $15.00

One other thing that we know is that if someone is going to have a collection account on his credit report, and it’s going to be of the variety of which he’s unaware, it’s either going to be a medical bill or a Banana Republic store card (close third to a cell phone bill never received). I’m not sure why this is, but people go bananas over Banana’s billing. So let me help you save your credit shorts and get into a clean, fresh pair of undies while at the same time giving you an excuse to A) actually locate your Banana Republic card, B) place an order on it before they call you to tell you it’s been inactive since Marky Mark made skivvies the shizzle and, C) bring your store card to active status in the eyes of Equifax, Experian and Transunion.

My point(s) above are simple.  Active credit tradelines are a critical component to getting a great jumbo loan, but you can’t create them after you’ve applied for a mortgage. When we pull your credit report as part of the pre-approval process we’re looking at both credit history and recent activity but the time to address both is BEFORE you’re in the mortgage process. Or while you’re saving for your down payment. Or while you’re waiting for more inventory to hit the market, etc. Bringing your unused tradelines to active status is a little step you can take that will pay a big dividend later — opening up the widest array of jumbo options and, as a result, giving you access to the most competitive rates.  Let me know if you have questions about this aspect of getting a jumbo loan and I’ll be happy to help you craft a road map to success and hey, I might even let you in on a few more bargains as well…

Venti triple mocha frap for Ron,

Rob 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 Refinance a Mortgage on a COVID Forbearance Plan?

Back at the end of the first quarter of 2020, the president might still have wanted to downplay COVID, but many real American homeowners suddenly found themselves in dire financial straits and quickly took advantage of the forbearance plans offered by the servicers of their mortgages.  This payment relief allowed them to navigate the most uncertain and immediate impacts of the pandemic and for some, provided a bridge to re-employment and/or firmer financial footing.  Now that some of these borrowers have made readjustments to the new normal, they may wish to take advantage of the historic low interest rates that have stemmed largely from the Federal Reserve’s response to this same pandemic.  So can a borrower refinance if there has been a forbearance or deferral on the current loan?  Let’s examine the options available today if the borrower has a conforming/conventional loan.  Jumbo loans and government loans (FHA and VA) behave differently and I’ll cover those in a separate post.  But here’s what we need to know today:

  • If you are or were in forbearance with no missed payments, then we must verify that all payments were made to terms of the agreement AND the payoff of the existing loan cannot include any funds due. 
  • If you were in forbearance, had missed payment but brought them current prior to making your refinance application, then we just need verification that your mortgage is current and no funds due to complete any reinstatement are included in the loan’s payoff.
  • If you were in forbearance, had missed payments and brought them current after making your refinance application, then we need verification that your mortgage is now current and we need to source the funds used to bring the loan to that status.
  • If you have a plan for payment deferral then you must provide a copy of the agreement issued by your servicer and you must have made at least 3 consecutive payments following the effective date of the deferral agreement.  The payoff of the loan can, in this case, be used to satisfy the full amount of the mortgage, including the payments deferred.

The low rate environment that exists today is unprecedented, a lot like the adjustments we’re all being required to make as we confront our new reality.  If you’ve taken advantage of the forbearance or deferral agreements available to you, and have adhered to the terms, there’s a good chance you can refinance your conforming or high-balance conforming mortgage today at historic low rates.  You’d be incorrect to assume otherwise.  Get in touch if you think we can help. 

Mask it or casket,

Rob 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 Keep Making My Mortgage Payment?

With so many people refinancing these days, and with the loan process sometimes crossing one or two months’ time, a question we frequently get from those in process is, “Should I keep making my mortgage payment?”  The answer is a simple and clear, “Yes!”  

But let’s talk about why, because the concept is as simple as it is often misunderstood.  In our formative financial years, many of us rented a home or apartment before we made the leap into home ownership.  And I’d be willing to be bet that more than a few of us got chased by a landlord about the rent being a few too many days late past first of the month.  Herein lies the mortgage payment dilemma when it comes to refinancing.  Unlike rent payments, which are due on the first of the month and cover the month ahead, mortgage payments are applied in arrears.  This means that you live in the house in August, for example, and you pay for that time (in interest and principal) on September 1.

Now let’s assume you’re refinancing a home and your expected close of escrow is the 10th of August.  Let’s also assume that you have not made the mortgage payment on the first of August.  Your mortgage has a grace period until the 15th of the month, after which you are assessed a 5% penalty.  But back to our closing scenario — the payoff demand on your existing loan, once received by escrow, will include all of the days of interest for July, plus the expected days of interest in August until the close date of the transaction.  Your new lender will collect prepaid interest from August 10 through August 31.  You will “skip” a September 1 payment altogether (no regular payment with either old or new servicer) and your first payment with the new loan will be due on October 1.  Got it?  OK, great.  But remember, on August 1 and into August AND until escrow closes, you are still responsible for your August payment!  If for some reason you don’t close on the 10th and there are delays past the 15th (where you’d incur a penalty) and, heaven forbid, delays past the end of the month where you’d report late to the credit bureaus, the responsibility to have made the August payment falls squarely on you.  

The best advice any of us can give on any mortgage transaction is to ALWAYS make your payment if you are unsure of how things will work out or if your lender or closing agent is not responsive or clear on the matter.  Until your new loan is funded and closed, you are ALWAYS responsible for making your mortgage payment and the risk of going 30 days late on your home loan is a risk too great to run.  Any overpayment, as painful as it might be, is far less damaging than the credit blemish of a missed payment.  If you have questions on any scenario, get in touch and we’ll be happy to explain further. 

The check is in the mail,

Rob 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

How Long Is a Pre-Approval Good For?

You’ve decided to make the leap and enter the real estate market as a buyer.  You’ve been looking at homes online, the temptation has become too strong and you realize it’s time to hit the street and actually start looking at properties.  Your Realtor almost immediately informs you that not only will she not participate in your search before she knows you’re pre-approved, but also that in this pandemic day and age, without a pre-approval letter no serious listing agent will even let you step foot in the home for a viewing.  And so you reach out to your preferred lender and you get pre-approved for a mortgage.  Now, how long will that preapproval be good for?

There are a few elements involved in the lifecycle of a pre-approval so let’s look at some of the ones that typically govern the validity of your profile and the day it may expire:

Credit Report

It’s safe to say that your credit report has a 90-day expiration.  Even in cases where a lender will permit 120 days, we have to assume that a purchase timeline might be 30 days.  Since it’s largely not in your control, you never want your credit report expiring while you’re in contract.  At some point between 75 and 90 days, credit expiration becomes a material factor.  Now, if the original credit pull has you with 800 FICO scores and you’ve done nothing that would jeopardize your strong credit rating, it’s highly unusual for your credit report to suddenly become an issue, but a re-pull is warranted if you think you may enter a non-contingent contract when you’re coming up on your expiration date.

Tax Filing Deadline

In 2020, the income tax filing deadline was July 15, but in most years, April 15 is the day by which you either need to file your tax returns or file an extension.  If your pre-approval did not include this year’s filing and you’ve since filed your return (including e-file), your pre-approval must be updated accordingly.

End of Year

During January and February, most of us get our W-2 forms, our 1099s, K-1s and other year-end statements of earnings.  All of these must be included in your file, so if your property search crosses the end of the year, your pre-approval would need to include the newly released information.

Life Events

If you get a new job, your hours on your current job are reduced or changed, if you get divorced, buy a new car, etc., all of these events could impact your pre-approval.  A good way to conceptualize your pre-approval would be to assume that anything that impacts your income, assets or credits could influence your mortgage application.  Let us know when these things happen and we’ll make the necessary adjustments.

Your mortgage pre-approval is always a work in progress until you go into contract.  We can make any necessary changes and advise on financial aspects in advance too.  We’re here to help and ultimately our goal is to build and maintain and strong and ready file so that you have the best chance of winning your offer.  We need your help to do that and we, in the industry, can all help by reminding you it’s not over until the keys are in your hands.

Best if used before,

Rob 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

Let Me Be Clear

As we go through life, I’d bet most of us come to a point where we realize we must be comfortable in our own skin.  Warts, blemishes, imperfections and all.  So as my career has progressed, I have had less difficulty ditching the pretense of needing to conceal the fact that I never attended college and accept that, in matters of business discourse, I was raised mostly with a blue collar approach of getting to the point. 

Yeah, I know I have been accused of possessing a certain facility with language that belies the high school diploma I struggled to achieve, so it won’t surprise you to know I make a consistent effort to build my vocabulary, my catalog of quotes and my storehouse of witticisms.  Still, I harbor a broad disdain for “corporate jargon.”  I bring this up because, working in the San Francisco Bay Area, with its proximity to Silicon Valley, most of my clientele has exposure to the sprawling tech campuses that employ the nation’s best and brightest.  So while the purpose of this post is not to make fun of anyone — especially not those whose intelligence far exceeds mine — if you’re going to work with me, I want you to know a few things:

  • I work in the mortgage industry, not the mortgage space.  This was an industry nearly 20 years ago when I took the leap of faith to become a full-time salesperson.  It’s still a vibrant industry today.  Let’s leave the space exploration to NASA.
  • I try not to leave any loops to close.  I do have a bias to action in order to get things done efficiently out of the gate.  Don’t put off to tomorrow that which you can finish today, right?
  • I’m not going to open my kimono and be fully transparent.  There, I said it.  I’m sorry, but I work for my buyers or homeowners.  I don’t reveal their information to other parties in the transaction in any feigned virtue of being completely transparent.  I will be honest 100% the time, but I will not be “transparent” to that degree.  This is business.
  • I never go “out of pocket.”  I don’t even know what that means.  Yes, sometimes I cannot be reached for good reasons, but when that is a possibility, I will try to provide instruction for my next in command.  Outside of those few occasions, I am probably one of the most responsive and accessible professionals in the mortgage space…I mean, industry.
  • I am not rate or program agnostic.  I have strong opinions and I will share them with you.  I will respect you if you agree or disagree with reason and tact.  The way I see it, you should expect a professional to share his/her experiences and perspective because that’s valuable insight built over a career.  And it’s exactly the kind if information from which a client — someone who may only transact a few real estate deals in his/her life — can benefit.
  • “Deep dives” are often bested by keeping things simple.  Even with a myriad of loan options, 95% of our clients end up with our Top 5 solutions.  That doesn’t mean that mortgage financing is simple, but it often means that wide and shallow works better for most.
  • I always have the bandwidth to provide great customer service.  You will never see me more aggravated than if a member of my team tells a client or prospect that “we are slammed.”  I have worked hard my whole career in order to be busy for the remainder of it.  If I have too much business, I have enough revenue to hire additional staff to assure you timely and competent service.

So that’s my rap.  As they say, it’s easy to make a simple thing complex and hard to make a complex thing simple, so in an effort to achieve greater clarity, I’m cool with ditching the Silicon Valley lingo when we work together.  Clear communication polls way high up on the customer satisfaction surveys all the time, and my career would look very different without the effort I make to deliver it to the street.  What about you?

Time to log off,

Rob Spinosa
Senior 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 Credit May Be Good, But Is It Jumbo Good?

“I have an 800 FICO so I know I’ll qualify…”

We, here at Guaranteed Rate, pride ourselves on being a great jumbo mortgage lender. And because of my geography and clientele in the San Francisco Bay Area, we encounter a lot of higher loan amounts. Our rates are very competitive and we have many investors who can cover the needs of just about every jumbo loan scenario that can realistically be done these days. Moreover, we retain control of the underwriting, so we can exercise “makes sense” judgment and get files approved where many other banks and brokers cannot.

Yet, we are not immune to the quirks of the current state of jumbo mortgage lending and credit tradeline requirements definitely fall into the “quirk” category. A theme that will emerge here, and true to our opening statement, is that FICO score alone does not a jumbo approval make. As we’ll see, the credit requirements for jumbo loans reach beyond a borrower’s score and delve deeper into the components that comprise those very numbers, namely:

  1. Credit history — depth and age of tradelines.
  2. Blend of credit — distribution of open credit between mortgage, installment and revolving debt.
  3. Use of credit itself — how recently have accounts been used?

If you are in the market for a jumbo mortgage, it’s important to work with a mortgage professional early, as some of these requirements simply cannot be met in the time period it would take to close a traditional escrow. Let’s look at one jumbo investor’s credit profile requirements:

  • Minimum of 3 open tradelines with minimum of 12 month history for EACH borrower.
  • Authorized user accounts cannot be used to meet minimum tradeline requirement.
  • Credit depth must be a minimum of 2 years.
  • All 3 tradelines must have had current activity.

Or another’s:

  • Minimum 3 tradelines open and active for at least 24 months.
  • At least one of the three tradelines must be a mortgage or installment loan.
  • Remaining tradelines must be rated for 12 months.

So, a moral of this story might be that you may indeed have a very good FICO score. But if you do not demonstrate to a jumbo mortgage investor that you can produce a high score by way of the behavior that they believe will most likely lead to repayment of their loan, you may find yourself on the outside looking in. Remember, if you don’t like to use credit — if you pay cash for that auto, if you eschew credit cards — this can be highly effective financial behavior from a personal standpoint, but it can leave the mortgage lender in the dark about whether you’ve got the right credit curriculum vitae.

 

If you have questions about a jumbo home loan and/or about how your credit report and profile will be viewed by a jumbo lender, get in touch today. I can help you make sense of what it takes to qualify for a jumbo mortgage, and in many cases, we can find just the right investor to work with your existing credit profile. Your credit may already be excellent but we’ll make sure it’s jumbo good.

 

Rob Spinosa
Senior 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 ChicagoIL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

What Is an Alternative Mortgage?

Every so often in popular music, movies, art and culture, the unconventional becomes the rage, the “alternative” becomes mainstream.  When it does, it usually reshapes people’s ideas of what’s “normal” and it can redefine what’s acceptable — even preferred — for a generation or more.  But…mortgage lending is not quite that exciting.

No, instead, alternative mortgage lending, also known as “non-QM” or “unconventional mortgage” or even yesteryear’s “Alt-A,” simply provides a viable solution to home loan scenarios that don’t quite fit in the relatively narrow box of conventional mortgages.  Conventional loans include mainstream conforming loans, FHA and VA programs and even the widely-accepted jumbo mortgage options for those who need loans with higher amounts.  But for now, let’s focus on some of the main alternative mortgage programs and how they help buyers and homeowners in the real world.

Asset Depletion

An asset depletion loan allows a buyer or borrower to leverage his/her cash equivalents, investments and sometimes even retirement accounts to derive a hypothetical income stream that can be used for qualifying. These assets do not need to be moved or liquidated, just documented. For those who have sufficient net worth but insufficient traditional qualifying income, an asset depletion loan (also known as asset-backed, asset utilization, asset amortization, etc.) can prove an ideal solution.

Bank Statement Qualification

Business owners who show strong income into their business may want to consider a bank statement loan as an alternative to a stated income loan. For a bank statement qualification, we will typically examine 12 months of business bank statements. We’ll total all of the legitimate business deposits and we’ll apply an expense ratio to that sum. The resulting figure is the qualifying income. For those who “write off” a lot of business income on tax returns, a bank statement loan may circumvent that age-old challenge, because for these programs, no tax returns are required.

Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR)

For the real estate investor who will struggle with a conventional mortgage qualification, we now have the debt service coverage ratio, or DSCR, home loan option. This program looks at the property’s income and nets out the housing payment on it. As long as the ratio is positive (and all other qualifying criteria are met), we have a deal.

Another great aspect of alternative lending is that some of the features above can be combined, or other positive aspects of a borrower’s profile can be added.  For instance, those who have a lot of equity in real estate may be able to parlay some of it into qualifying income, then combine that with regular asset depletion and circumvent an issue a conventional lender may be having because this same person’s tax returns don’t really show the fair story.

The moral of the story is that there’s a “makes sense” element to approving alternative mortgages and if you feel that the mainstream lending industry hasn’t given you a fair shake, we are here to help match you to a program that sees the light and gets you a great outcome.

Get on the snake, 

 

Rob Spinosa
Senior 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 ChicagoIL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

Form 1098 and Your Mortgage Interest Statement

“At first you go bankrupt slowly, and then all at once.”  This quote has been attributed to Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain and even F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Indeed, it’s a great one, though fortunately I cannot personally attest to its veracity.  Nevertheless, it does touch on a concept I want to cover at a particular time of year — from about mid-January to the end of February.  It is during these weeks that most of us gradually give up our moorings to the previous year and then suddenly realize that we need to start planning to file our tax returns for it.  Also during this time, we receive our W-2 forms, 1099s and, if we hold a mortgage, our Form 1098.  With the help of one of my very capable colleagues at Guaranteed Rate, Michael Most, I’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions and answers regarding this document.

Q: What is a 1098?

A: The 1098, also known as the Mortgage Interest Statement, is a form issued by a mortgage servicer to the borrower which details the interest and expenses paid on a mortgage during a tax year. These expenses can be used as deductions on U.S. income tax form Schedule A, which reduces taxable income and the overall amount owed to the IRS. Tax disbursements are not included on the 1098. Contact your county tax authority for those figures.

Q: Where can I find my 1098?

A: Your annual 1098 comes from the company that services your mortgage loan (your “servicer”). Verify the lender has your correct mailing address if you are not living in the home. Most servicers allow you to access and print tax forms free of charge by logging into your account on their website. Guaranteed Rate provides 1098 copies from previous tax years upon request.

Q: When can I expect the 1098?

A: The IRS requires that tax documents are available on or before January 31st, which is the typical distribution date. The 1098 form is mailed to the address listed for the primary borrower.

Q: I have multiple borrowers on the mortgage. Do we all file the 1098?

A: 1098s are mailed solely to the primary borrower listed on the mortgage. If multiple borrowers are listed on your mortgage, you may decide among yourselves who will file the form. The form may only be filed once.

Q: Is there any way to get the 1098 myself?

A: Most long-term servicers allow you to access and print tax forms free of charge by logging into your account on their website.

Q: Can I obtain a copy of my 1098 from years past?

A: Guaranteed Rate can reprint and mail 1098 forms, which may take several business days.

Q: The 1098 I received doesn’t reflect all the payments I’ve made.

A: It is possible that you made payments to more than one servicer during the year. Please allow until February 15th to receive the 1098 from all servicers.

As always, please call or email me with any additional questions. For specific questions regarding taxation and the filing of your income tax returns, please be sure to consult your own tax professional.

The sun also rises, 

Rob 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 ChicagoIL 60613 – (866) 934-7283

What Kind of Insurance Do You Need When You Buy a House?

Let me start by saying that I’m not in the insurance business, but that the insurance business is in mine.  And my business is helping home buyers and homeowners get a great mortgage.  So just what are the insurance requirements when you buy a home or go to refinance a mortgage on residential real estate you own in California?  Why does your lender care about the insurance coverage you keep?

Homeowner’s Insurance

Also known as “hazard insurance,” or “fire insurance,” this is the key policy you will be required to carry if you have a mortgage.  While the actual coverage may seem to be a clear benefit to you, there’s a mutual benefit for the lender.  After all, the home is both where you live and the collateral for the lender’s loan.  Without the home itself, it’s unlikely the lender would/could ever be paid back in the event of a loss.  By this logic, some homeowners who are “free and clear,” meaning they have no mortgage, will opt not to carry a homeowner’s policy.  In the event of a total loss from a fire, for example, they would be completely out of a place to live with no reimbursement for loss of its use.  Ouch.

Flood Insurance

If your lender determines that your property is in a FEMA special flood hazard area, you’ll be required to carry flood insurance.  Regulation requires that mortgage servicers impound your flood insurance premium even if your homeowner’s insurance and property taxes are not impounded (aka “escrowed”).

Earthquake Insurance

Earthquake insurance is not required by lenders in California, even though the risk of earthquake damage is real in many areas.  You can, at your discretion, purchase earthquake insurance but only about 10% of CA owners will choose to do so.

Title Insurance

When you buy a home and use financing, you’ll be required to get a “lender’s” title insurance policy.  This protects the lender from title defects and future claims against the title (which, like with homeowner’s insurance, could jeopardize their rights to the collateral).  You’ll notice that you’re also being quoted an “owner’s” policy, which is technically optional.  The vast majority will purchase this coverage too, and with good reason.  Should anyone claim an interest in your property down the road, the owner’s policy would provide you cover and the title insurer would step in to deal with the claim.  Worth noting is that the owner’s title insurance policy is in effect for the time you own the home.  The lender’s policy is in place for the time you hold the specific loan involved in the transaction.  If you refinance, you would purchase only a new lender’s policy.

Life Insurance

Like earthquake insurance, life insurance is not required when you take on a mortgage.  Also like earthquake, it may not be a bad idea.  Life insurance can help a surviving spouse pay off or better manage the payments on a loan in the event of the death of the other spouse, and you can make a very good argument that life insurance is an incredibly responsible financial purchase to consider at the time of home ownership.  We work with some great life insurance agents on a regular basis, so ask if you need a recommendation.

Private Mortgage Insurance

I am including private mortgage insurance or “PMI” in the insurance category because it makes sense that when borrower looks at the voluminous paperwork involved in buying a home, all of the insurance terminology starts to look the same.  But PMI is exclusively related to your mortgage and if you’re putting at least 20% down and/or not using an FHA loan, you may not have PMI at all.  So the best way to look at PMI is not as an insurance coverage required by the property, but one sometimes required by the loan.  You also do not need to “shop” for PMI like you would any of the other insurance types listed above, like homeowner’s.  Your lender should always attempt to find the least expensive private mortgage insurance available among the eligible providers.

So, to recap.  If you have a mortgage on a home, you will always need homeowner’s insurance and a lender’s title insurance policy.  You may be required to carry flood insurance.  Depending on your loan’s characteristics, you may also be required to have private mortgage insurance.  Owner’s title insurance, earthquake insurance and life insurance are up to you.  If you need help or perspective on these decisions and choices, I am always available to share my experience and insight.  We routinely work with many great insurance professionals because our industries are inevitably intertwined with the financing of real estate.  If you would benefit from a referral, please don’t hesitate to ask.

You’re in good hands, 

Rob 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