Sunday, August 2, 2009

Buyers Shouldn't Wait on Falling Prices

Fear of overpaying for property is common in today's economic environment, especially in places like California where prices continue to be unstable.

If you find yourself on the fence, afraid to pull the trigger, or just down-right scared about jumping into today's real estate market, because you're concerned you'll pay too much, here are some factors to consider:

Waiting for the right time can be expensive. Some buyers would have more equity today, despite falling prices, if they had bought when they were first considering it, instead of continuing to pay rent.

Financing is fickle. Some people who were highly qualified last year are unable to find financing this year because the credit market has tightened or their personal financial situation now makes them an undesirable borrower.

Interest rates are headed up. If prices decline by another 10 percent, but interest rates increase by 1 percentage point, the monthly payment will be the same.

Don't be the last person on the bus. Educate yourself about your buying power and what options are available to you. With prices at an all time low, you don't want to find yourself chasing the market because you weren't prepared to play the game!

For a free Home Buyer's Information Packet, feel free to contact me anytime. Email all requests to

Friday, June 26, 2009

Today's News -Home Buyer Tax Credit Could Expand

Home Buyer Tax Credit Could Expand
A first-time home buyer tax credit of up to $8,000 has helped to move housing inventory during an otherwise sluggish real estate cycle. Now both legislators and the business community are hoping to build on the incentive's success by expanding it.

A number of bills have been introduced in the House and the Senate that lobby for an expansion of the measure. Among the proposed changes:
  • Setting a new cap of $15,000.
  • Extending the tax break into mid-2010.
  • Making the benefit available to all home buyers, not just first-timers.
  • Offering a separate tax credit to $3,000 for borrowers who refinance.

USA Today, Stephanie Armour (06/22/09)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Be Patient, Make a Profit

We've all watched the late night infomercials and the reality shows about flipping property to make a quick buck. Some of us have even attended seminars and read the books on getting rich by flipping houses.
For ages, investment property has been looked at as the ticket to long-term growth and financial independence. But does investing in income property still make sense in today's market?
I would say yep, absolutely. Income property can be looked at like a bond that pays you interest. As long as the property is pulling in enough rents to cover mortgage, taxes, insurance, repairs and other operating expenses, and bringing a decent return on investment, you are good to go no matter how much the property fluctuates. As long as your goal is to hold the property for the long term, you won't get caught up in the risky business of flipping, hoping you'll make a profit, such as those speculators who got burned when the market went from hot to extra frosty in a matter of months.
Ask yourself this question...are you investing in real estate to create long-term wealth or make a short-term profit? You can not and should not treat real estate like a game you play with the stock-market.
The key to successfully making money in real estate is to do a thorough analysis of the property expenses and cash flow to make sure you are purchasing at the right price. You must also consider how much up-front cash (down-payment, closing cost, repairs) you can afford to put in to the property. Location is also paramount, as well as the property type. First-time investors tend to make the mistake of purchasing a single family residence or condo, in the hopes they can rent it out and make a profit, while building long-term equity. The price of residential properties rely heavily on "comps" (the selling price of similar homes in the area) and not on cash flow. Because of this, you will more than likely end up paying much more for a house and if the local market takes a dive, the value of your property will more-than-likely plunge as well.
That's why the fastest and easiest way to make a profit in income property is not to purchase a home, fix and flip it, but to find a multi-unit complex or apartment building who's seller has owned the property for many years and is charging below-market rents. As the new landlord you can come in, raise the rents, find new tenants and increase the value of the property by boosting its income stream. Now there is a risk in this. You must be able to cover any vacancies until you get them occupied. Another option is to leave the current tenants in place, but sign them to shorter lease terms. One year, versus long-term leases of five to ten years. This way you can eventually replace them with tenants willing to pay more, ensuring a higher stream of cash flow.
Apartment buildings, off-campus housing (near community colleges and major universities), and multi-unit complexes, are all opportunities smart investors should be taking advantage of, especially in the depressed California market place, where you are able to find distressed owners willing to give up the property for much less. There are opportunities and possibilities in every market. Do you homework and you'll find your reward!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Update on the $8000 Homebuyers Tax-Credit-How to Use the Loan for Your Downpayment

How to Use the Tax Credit for Downpayments

Potential first-time buyers have yet another reason to consider purchasing a home: the monetization of the tax credit. Here are four ways your clients can get access to those funds for upfront costs.

Short-term bridge loans are now available from a variety of lenders so that buyers can tap the benefits of the $8,000 Federal Housing Tax Credit for First-Time Home Buyers upfront. If your clients are eligible for the tax credit, these bridge loans will enable them to use the money for their down payment and closing costs with the credit as collateral. Consumers will have to pay the money back after they’ve filed their tax return and received a refund.


There are essentially four sources for this type of financing, and their terms can vary considerably.


1. State HFA Bridge Loans

As of early June 2009, 10 state Housing Finance Agencies offered tax-credit bridge loans, and more were planning to do so. The easiest way to learn whether one is offered in your state is to get your HFA’s phone number through aHousing Finance Agency list maintained by the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA). NCSHA also maintains a list of HFAs that already offer the bridge loans. The HFAs with loan programs already in place are Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.


If your state HFA offers the loans, you should be able to get more information about them on the agency’s Web site. Look for “tax credit advance loan” or some variant of that, or else look for information on the HFA’s regular mortgage program, which should include info on the tax-credit advance loan somewhere. Although each state HFA loan differs, here are some typical characteristics:



  • You’ll need to make a minimum downpayment from your own funds, probably around $1,000.
  • You’ll have to go through local lenders approved by the HFA to actually originate the loan, since HFAs are not originators.
  • In some cases, the loans are interest-free; check with the state HFA to find out.
  • The HFAs have set aside a limited amount of funds for the loans, so they tend to be made on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • You’ll be expected to use HFA-backed financing for the mortgage on your home purchase. This financing typically comes with a below-market interest rate and usually requires borrowers to meet eligibility criteria. These criteria will vary greatly, but they often require borrowers to be first-timer buyers and meet income-eligibility requirements. For the bridge loans, there’s a good chance the criteria will be similar to what’s required for the tax credit.


Since the bridge loans are made in tandem with your HFA’s financing products, you apply for the loans when you apply with the HFA-approved lender for your mortgage financing. You should be able to find a list of approved lenders on the HFA’s Web site.


2. Local Government or Nonprofit Loans

If your state HFA doesn’t offer the loans, you can ask an HFA staff person to direct you to local nonprofits or state or local government agencies that do. If that person can’t help you, a good place to start a search is with a national nonprofit group called NeighborWorks, which maintains a list of more than 200 local affiliates that provide housing assistance. The loan programs for each of these affiliates differ, so you or your client will need to check with them on their underwriting standards and loan terms—and even on whether they make bridge loans repayable with the tax credit.


3. Local HFAs

Another source, if your state HFA can’t help you, might be the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies. Local HFAs are much like state HFAs but with jurisdictions limited to their locality. To learn whether there’s a local HFA in your area, call NALHFA at 202/367-1197.


4. FHA-approved Lenders

If you’re unable to identify a state or local HFA or other governmental agency or nonprofit to assist you, you can tap bridge-loan assistance if you work with a lender approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to originate FHA-backed loans. HUD maintains a database of FHA lenders on its Web site that’s searchable by a number of criteria including city, state, county, and service area.


In a difference with the assistance provided by state and local agencies or nonprofits, the bridge loans provided by private, for-profit FHA-approved lenders must be structured in the form of a personal loan or line of credit collateralized by the tax credit. The bridge loan can’t be structured as a second mortgage.


Also, although FHA allows you to use the bridge loan to cover your closing costs or to buy down your interest rate, you can use it for the down payment only after you’ve covered the 3.5 percent minimum that’s required on any FHA loan. Thus, you’ll have to come up with the 3.5 percent minimum down payment yourself or else tap another source of assistance for it. That can include gifts from family. Seller-funded down-payment programs are not permitted. HUD provides complete details in a May 29 Mortgagee Letter on “Using First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credits” (2009-15) that went to its approved lenders.


Since it’s the HUD-approved lender and not FHA itself that’s making the bridge loan, actual loan terms will vary. At a minimum, though, the bridge loan must meet certain restrictions, most of them imposed to weed out fraud or ensure borrowers aren’t getting in over their heads. These include:



  • Loans can’t result in cash back to the borrower.
  • The amount can’t exceed what’s needed for the downpayment, closing costs, and prepaid expenses.
  • If there’s a monthly repayment, it must be included within the qualifying ratios and, when combined with the first mortgage, can’t exceed the borrower’s reasonable ability to pay.
  • Payments must be deferred for at least 36 months to not be included in the qualifying ratios.
  • There can be no balloon payment required before 10 years.


Start with the Deepest Assistance First

Since state HFA bridge loans are typically allowed for as much of the downpayment as possible (up to the credit limit of $8,000), your client’s best bet is to start with the state HFA. If it doesn’t have a program in place, learn what you can from it about other state or local programs, including nonprofits. If these sources don’t pan out, your buyer can work with an FHA-approved lender. However, since HUD requires borrowers to put down a minimum of 3.5 percent, they can access bridge-loan assistance only for other upfront expenses such as closing costs, an interest-rate buy-down, or a portion of the downpayment above 3.5 percent.

Source REALTOR® magazine June 2009  

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What Info Is Needed When Filling Out a Loan Application

What information will be needed when Buyer's are applying for a loan

Here is a list of the information mortgage lenders will use to consider your loan application.

For all loans

Social Security Number, for borrower and co-borrower if any

Employment History

For the last two years, employment dates, addresses, salary.

Current pay stubs or W-2 forms.


Check and Savings Accounts and Certificates of Deposit

Location of bank accounts, account numbers and balances;

Address of bank if out of town

Last 3 months' statements


Stocks, Bonds, and Investment Accounts

Broker's name and address, description of stocks, bonds, etc.

Last 3 months' statements or copies of stock certificates


Life Insurance Policies

Insurance company, policy number, face amount, cash value, if any


Retirement Plan

Approximate vested interest value

Copy of latest statement



Make and model of automobiles, their resale value


Other Assets

Market value of personal and household property


Liabilities and Other Non-Mortgage Debt

Creditors names, addresses, account numbers

Monthly payments and balances


Other income information you may need


If you're self-employed

Two years tax returns, profit and loss statements, both company and personal if separate.

Current balance sheet and profit and loss statement if more than two months into the new fiscal year, signed by CPA.


If you have income from:





Rental Property


Notes Receivable


You'll need two years' personal federal tax returns


If employed in family business

Personal federal income tax returns and all schedules for the past two years


If divorced or separated

Complete executed divorce decree and settlement agreement

Payment history of alimony/child support over the past 12 months, if it is a financial obligation.

If you choose to have this be considered as part of your income (you don't have to), be prepared to provide 12 months canceled checks or bank statements reflecting income deposits.


If you own real estate

Name and address of all mortgage lenders for the past 24 months, account numbers, monthly payments and balances

If you've sold your home but not closed:

A copy of the sales contract

If you've sold your home, closed, and you will use the proceeds for your new down payment:

A copy of the HUD-1 Uniform Settlement Statement


If you rent 

Name, address and phone number of landlords for the past 24 months


If you're buying a home 

Purchase sales contract or offer to purchase and all addenda

Furnish contract with original signatures of buyer and seller


If a source of your down payment is a gift:

Name, address and relationship of donor.

Gift funds will be verified in both the donor and recipient's accounts.

Note: Not all loan programs allow gifts to be part of your down payment.


For FHA Financing

Evidence of Social Security Number and photo identification


For VA Financing

DD214 and Certificate of Eligibility


For Construction/Perm Loan

Signed construction with cost breakdown, builder plan and specifications

Happy House Hunting!



Friday, May 29, 2009

Forecasters Say Recession Nearing End

More than 90 percent of economists think the recession is nearing its end, but they don't expect the economy to soar anytime soon.

Nearly 75 percent of economists, surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics, say that the recession will end in the third quarter. Another 19 percent think the turnaround will come in the fourth quarter. The rest are betting on the first quarter of 2010.

Americans seem to believe that things are getting better too. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index rose 14.1 points in May to 54.9, the second month in a row in which there have been an increase.

Forecasters say that home sales will bottom out in the second quarter, an important stabilizing factor.

Source: The Associated Press, Jeannine Aversa (05/27/2009)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


When I am working with first time homebuyers, most want to know the advantages and disadvantages of different house types. The decision to buy a condo, townhouse or a traditional single family house is one that takes much consideration. Each brings its own set of advantages and disadvantages. One type may be better suited to your budget and lifestyle than another. Also, depending on your location, you may find more choices of one particular type of home than others.

1. Single Family Homes

By far the most common form of housing, the most important distinguishing factors that determine a single family residence are that it sits on its own piece of land and it is not attached to anyone else's residence. Restrictions about what you can do with your property are primarily dictated by the city in which you live, but for the most part you can do with it as you wish. You will probably have a yard of some sort-from very small up to multiple acres-and your ownership will include all of it. 

Advantages of a SFR
  • You can modify or improve it as you wish
  • Re-sale value is generally the highest on a single family home
  • You can add on to the existing home if more room is needed
  • Generally there are no property management fees as there are in condo and many townhouses 
Disadvantages of a SFR
  • All maintenance and repair costs are your responsibility including electricity, gas, water, sewer and trash removal
  • Lack of amenities (for example, community pools, gym, playgrounds, etc.) that you may find in a condo or townhouse
  • You are responsible for upkeep and landscaping
  • In most areas, SFRs are more expensive
Is a Single Family Residence the Right Fit for You?

You like your own "space"
You like modifying your home, making it your own-changing the color, the appearance, the size.
You like the idea of maintaining your own lawn, and the home's surroundings
You like the idea of being able to build your house

2. Townhouses

A townhouse is a home that is attached to one or more other houses, but which sits directly on a parcel of land that you also own (if you don't own the land, it is a condominium). Townhouses can ranges from duplexes and triplexes all the way through huge townhouse communities consisting of hundreds of similar homes. Townhouses to some degree offer attributes of both SFRs and condominiums. 

There is a good degree of variance in the way townhouse communities are structured. It may be a simple agreement (as is often the case of duplexes and triplexes) that each parcel of land and the home that sits on it is separately owned. In the case of larger townhouse communities, you will generally have an additional shared ownership in the common areas of the complex as well as any amenities such as swimming pools, park areas, etc. This ownership you will share jointly with all other townhouse owners in the complex. 

In any townhouse purchase that involves an Homeowners' Association
, it is critically important to get as much information as you can, since the association can have a considerable impact on your ownership experience! (we'll explore Homeowners' Associations in a later post)

Advantages of a Townhouse
  • Less exterior maintenance and repairs
  • There may be amenities in the community such as pools, tennis courts, playground, etc.
  • Sharing common walls with neighbors may bring a greater sense of security
Disadvantages of a Townhouse
  • You are responsible for Home Owner's Association fees (which cover common areas and other "perks" of community living)
  • Your options for changing the exterior look of your house will be limited
  • Sharing common walls with your neighbors, you give up privacy as compared to SFRs
Is a Townhouse the Right Fit for You?

You like your own "space" but not having to deal with all of the exterior maintenance
You don't mind having neighbors close to you.
You like the idea of a small yard 

3. Condominiums

Condominium ownership is basically an apartment you own (in fact, many condominiums are apartments that have been converted over the years). Your ownership extends inward from your interior walls, floors and ceilings. In addition, you are a partner, with all of the other owners in the complex, of the exterior structure (the foundation, exterior walls and roof) as well as any common areas and amenities (for example, swimming pools, clubhouses, tennis courts, play areas, etc.) One of the requirements of condominium ownership is the payment of a monthly condo fee, which covers general repairs and maintenance to the common areas of the complex as well as (hopefully) build up a cash reserve for future needs. In general, all exterior maintenance and repairs are the responsibility of the condominium association, although you will be charged for them, either through your association dues or a special assessment (a one time charge assessed to all owners for, as an example, a new roof). The normal day-to-day maintenance of the grounds (some examples are cutting the grass and maintaining the pool) are also the responsibility of the association. Interior maintenance and repairs (for example, replacing a dishwasher) are the responsibility of the individual owner. 

In some areas, a condominium may be the only consideration that fits within your budget. The reason for this is simple. In general, the same square footage will cost less in a condo setting than it will in a single family home or townhouse, due mainly to land cost--you can build many more condos than you can single family homes on the same amount of land. 

Advantages of a Condominium
  • Little or no exterior maintenance or repairs
  • Many condo communities offer amenities such as pools, tennis courts, playground, etc. 
  • Condos are often more reasonably priced and are good entry level homes for first-time homebuyers or excellent for empty-nesters looking to downsize 
Disadvantages of a Condominium
  • You are responsible for Home Owner's Association fees Less privacy
  • Resale of a condo is harder and often takes longer to sell  
Is a Condominium the Right Fit for You?

You do not want to do any exterior maintenance or repairs
You like the idea of amenities
You don't mind having neighbors close to you.

All three forms of ownership are good's a matter of finding the best fit for you. A house gives you more independence, but also greater responsibility. A condo or townhouse has the security of more regular expenses and freedom from maintenance and repairs.

Happy House Hunting!

Monday, May 18, 2009

So What's the Deal with those REOs?

Although most buyers are excited about the opportunities REOs (REO stands for Real Estate Owned by the beneficiary/lender that foreclosed) present in today’s real estate market, I find that many are also concerned about purchasing a home that can have many unseen problems which may not show up until long after escrow closes. This post is dedicated to addressing some of those concerns. 

How Does a Home become an REO

An REO is a foreclosed property. In California, when you buy a home, unless you pay cash for it, chances are you will have to finance the purchase. A home is financed in much the same way a car is financed - you sign legal documents called “a note” for a loan. The lender gives you the money which you agree to pay back with interest over a term of (usually) 30 years. If you default on the loan, the lender can then take the home back and sell it to someone else. The legal process of taking the home back for default on a note is called foreclosure. Although the process in California includes a trustee (a neutral third party-typically a title or escrow company) who is given the note and who is notified by the lender to begin foreclosure proceedings in the event of non-payment the basic idea remains the same: don't pay the mortgage (or property taxes or Homeowner's assessments) and lose the home.

In order to begin the foreclosure process, the lender is required by law to send a homebuyer who has defaulted on the loan a Notice of Default. The lender notifies the trustee in writing that the trustor (borrower) is in default, and instructs the trustee to initiate foreclosure proceedings. This notice is recorded at the county clerk recorder’s office in the county where the property is located and is a document of public record. This means that anyone with an interest in the property may see it. The notice states when the lender is planning on foreclosing, ie. the date of the trustee’s sale and the outstanding amount the homeowner can pay to cure the default and stop the trustee’s sale.

More often than not, the default is not cured and the trustee auctions the property to anyone who will buy it. If there are no buyers at the trustee’s sale, the house becomes a foreclosed property and is referred to as an REO - real estate owned by the lender.

What you should know about an REO as a Homebuyer

Most lenders are not in the business of real estate; they are in the business of finance. And so, the house acquired by a bank through a foreclosure is usually put back on the open market. To come up for a sales price for the property, the bank hires a Realtor® and asks for a BPO - a Broker Price Opinion. The Realtor® appraises the property based on similar properties also known as “comps” and offers to list it. Since most foreclosures are fixers, they are usually placed on the market for a substantially discounted price.

As a home buyer of a bank owned home, your concerns are justified. An REO is usually a fixer. The most obvious reason for this being the family that was foreclosed upon was low on finances. If they didn’t have enough to make their mortgage payments, chances are there are quite a few things about the house that went unrepaired. This is also called deferred maintenance. Deferred maintenance can be a small problem, like a leaky faucet, or can hide bigger problems, like a leaky faucet that rotted the bathroom sub-floor.

You should also be aware that as a purchaser of an REO, you don’t receive full disclosure about the house. The bank is not required to provide you with a Transfer Disclosure Statement, partially because the lenders have never been in the home and are unaware of what exactly is wrong with it. 

Resolve your Concerns

So is purchasing a foreclosure the best bet? Sure, the price is deeply discounted, but does that make up for everything else? While that's a question only you can answer, the one thing I stress to take the pain out of any future problems: Always, always, always get a physical inspection!

Brokers recommend a variety of inspections, including pest, roof, septic system and a complete home inspection. Disregarding any of these inspections can be a big mistake on the part of a homebuyer. While most banks will not repair any items listed as potential or real problems during these inspections, you can get an idea of how much work is involved in making the home as habitable as you want it and decide if the asking price is worth the risk and work involved. The price you pay for the inspections is well worth its weight in gold.

You, The Homebuyer

With so many bargains out there in short sales, REOs and pre-foreclosures, if you are serious about buying a home at a deeply discounted price, chances are you will find what you are looking for. Do yourself a favor and get all the facts, look hard and long and don’t be scared to make an offer when you find the right one!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Property Source is now supported by the Anderson Realty Team. 

Meet the Team

Maurice Anderson-Broker, REALTOR, GRI

Sharing his father’s passion for helping people realize their real estate objectives Maurice Anderson obtained his Brokers license and joined the company in 1976 after graduating from the University of Oregon with a BA degree in Finance and Business Economics.

Maurice is an expert in the southern california real estate market. Always willing to share his experiences and knowledge, he has taught courses at the local community colleges helping others realize their potential in becoming real estate agents.

His professional goal is to serve the client first. Clients who are seeking to purchase a home appreciate the dedication and commitment he shows in partnering with them to view and understand what the current market offers. He takes the time needed to help clients realize their dreams, and works diligently to attain the highest price and best terms for his sellers and the best deal possible for his buyers by providing unique negotiating strategies that have proven successful on homes in every price range.

Susan Anderson- Office Manager

As an active member of the Long Beach community, Susan has a deep understanding and appreciation for the areas she serves.

After earning her BS degree in Psychology and a Masters in Public Affairs-Business Management-Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Oregon, Susan moved to the Long Beach area and raised three children here, gaining an even better insight into local communities, entertainment, services and schools.

Since 1979, Susan has been effectively representing both sellers and buyers in purchases of single-family homes and condominiums, as well as investment properties. She loves what she does and enjoys greatly the interaction and relationships with both clients and other real estate professionals. In addition, Susan works as the office manager, helping to guide other associates through their transactions.


Andrea Bolder-REALTOR, REO Buyers Agent

Andrea is the newest addition to the Anderson Realty team. A former professional track & field athlete and Olympian, Ms. Bolder has nearly eight years of professional sales experience.

Andrea holds a BS in Biochemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles where she attended on a full scholarship and was awarded multiple honors, including All-American, three-time Pac-10 Champion and NCAA National Champion. Upon graduation, she traveled the world running professionally for two years before entering the business arena.

Andrea worked as a sales account manager with a major corporation before committing full time to real estate. The same professionalism and dedication that made her successful in the athletic and corporate world she now brings to her real estate clients and customers.

Let Anderson Realty be your partner in Real Estate!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The First Steps Series-Finding a Realtor

A Real Estate Agent will help you save time and effort in your search for a new home. They have access to home buying tools and with their experience will guide you through the buying process. An agent will assist in finding a home that suits your needs and price range. They’ll help you:


1.    understand the contracts and paperwork

2.    find a home that meets your needs

3.    search property values in your area

4.    negotiate the offer

5.    coordinate the closing process

Buying and selling real estate is a complex process. Every property is unique. No two properties are alike. Homes differ and so do contract terms, financing options, inspection requirements and closing costs. Also, no two transactions are alike. An experienced agent can walk you through the legal forms, financing, inspections, marketing, pricing and negotiating. 

Talk to family and friends. See what experiences they had with the Realtors that sold them their homes. Ask for referrals but make sure that the agent is right for you. Take the time to interview more than one agent.  In the times of where over 80% of both buyers and sellers turn to the internet when they initially decide to buy or sell, it is to your advantage to have a tech savvy REALTOR.  Remember, your agent is an extension of you and you want to make sure he/she represents you well.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The First Steps Series-Get Pre-Approved

Get Pre-approved for a Loan

Very few people buy a home with cash. According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), nearly nine out of 10 buyers finance their purchase, which means that most all buyers -- especially first-time purchasers -- require a loan.

When it comes to financing, the real issue is not getting a loan (anyone willing to pay higher interest rates can find a mortgage), but getting the loan that provides a mortgage with the lowest cost and best terms.

Agents suggest that serious buyers start the mortgage process well before bidding on a home. By meeting with lenders and looking at loan options, you will find which programs best meet your needs and how much you can afford.

REALTORS® also recommend pre-approvals for another reason: Purchase forms often require buyers to apply for financing within a given time period, in many cases, seven to 10 days. By meeting with loan officers in advance and identifying mortgage programs, it won't be necessary to quickly find a lender, check credit, and rush into a financing decision that may not be the best option.

A pre-approval letter, unlike a pre-qualification letter, involves verification of your financial information. The lender will ask for documentation to confirm your employment, the source of your down payment and other aspects of your financial circumstances. Granted, a pre-approval is more time-consuming (and possibly more stressful) than a pre-qualification. The additional due diligence is exactly why the pre-approval carries more weight and shows your borrowing power.  You can visit as many lenders as you like and get several pre-approvals, but keep in mind that each one carries with it a new credit check, which will show up on future credit reports.

Although not a final loan commitment, the pre approval letter can be shown to listing brokers when bidding on a home. It demonstrates your financial strength and shows that you have the ability to go through with a purchase. You'll have more leverage in negotiations with the seller. Sellers often prefer to negotiate with pre-approved buyers because the sellers know such buyers are financially qualified to obtain the financing they need to close the transaction. A pre-approval letter is an especially favorable point in situation where the seller is presented multiple offers.

Keep in mind, pre-approval letters aren't binding on the lender, are subject to an appraisal of the home you want to purchase and are time-sensitive. If your financial situation changes (e.g., you lose your job, lease a car or run up credit-card bills), interest rates rise or a specified expiration date passes, the lender will review your situation and recalculate your maximum mortgage amount accordingly.


How do you get pre-approval?

Real estate financing can be obtained from a number of sources, including banks, savings and loan, credit unions, mortgage companies, various government lenders and in some cases, individual REALTORS® themselves. Talk with several lenders before you decide. Your real estate broker will be familiar with lenders in the area and what they are offering. With their experience they can usually suggest lenders that have a variety of programs and competitive rates.

The loan officer will carefully review your financial situation, including your credit report and other information. The lender will then suggest programs which most-closely meet your needs.

This is also an opportunity to ask your lender about the following programs:

·      Government Loan Programs: FHA and VA offer loan programs particularly beneficial to low-and moderate-income individuals.

·      State and Local Housing Programs: Potential home buyers can familiarize themselves with a variety of state and local housing programs that offer additional benefits in their local area


For instance, a first-time buyer may qualify for state-backed mortgage programs with little money down and low interest rates, while a repeat purchaser (someone who has bought a home before) with more equity (money invested in the home) might want to get a 15-year loan and the lower overall interest costs it represents. Typically, first-time buyers opt for the traditional 30-year loan, with either a floating interest rate or a fixed rate of interest over the life of the loan.


Friday, March 27, 2009

The First Steps Series-Credit Scores and Credit Reports-Part 2

What is a Credit Score and Credit Report?

Credit Scores
A credit score is a single number that helps lenders and others decide how likely you are to repay your debts. One kind of credit score is a FICO score (FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation Inc., the company that developed a common scoring method). FICO scores range from 300 - 850 points.
When you apply for a mortgage, your credit score is evaluated. Your credit score may also be used to determine the mortgage interest rate.
Your credit score is based on several types of information contained in your credit report:
Your payment history.Late payments will decrease your credit score.
The amount of debt you owe.If your credit cards are at their limits, this can lower your credit score - even if the amount you owe isn't large.
How long you've used credit.Your credit history is important. If you show a pattern of managing your credit wisely, keeping credit card balances low, and paying your bills on time, your credit score will be positively affected.
How often you apply for new credit and take on new debt.If you've applied for several credit cards at the same time, your credit score can go down.
The types of credit you currently use.This includes credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts, and mortgages.
Your credit score is only one factor in the credit decision. Mortgage lenders also look at your credit report, employment history, income, debt-to-income ratio, and the value of the home you want to buy.

What the Numbers Mean
FICO does not make specific statistics available to the public regarding credit scores. However, they do provide some snapshot numbers that can help you understand how to interpret your credit score:
Credit scores ranging from 770 to 850 are considered very good, and the best credit rates are usually available to borrowers within this
Credit scores above 700 are considered good, according to FICO, and most borrowers' credit scores are within this range. The median credit score is about 725.
When credit scores are below the mid-600s borrowers may experience higher interest rates when looking for a loan.
It is important to remember that credit scores are like snapshots of your credit – they show a "picture" of your credit based on current information. By using credit wisely, you can improve your score over time.

Credit and Credit Reports
Your credit can have a big influence on whether or not you can get a mortgage, as well as the terms of the loan and the interest rate. If you have good credit, you will have a wider range of options. That is why it is important to understand what affects your credit and to monitor your credit reports regularly.
Your credit report should accurately represent your credit history. From the moment you first apply for a loan or a credit card, you likely have a credit history.
Credit-related transactions appear on your credit report, including your current debts, paid debts, and payment histories. Your credit report is compiled by three private companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These companies sell your credit report to banks and other creditors so they can review your past credit history.Your credit report includes:
A list of debts and a history of how you've paid them.This can include credit cards, car loans, and student loans.
Any bills referred to a collection agency.This can include phone and medical bills.
Public record information.This can include tax liens and bankruptcies.
Inquiries made about your creditworthiness.An inquiry is made when you apply for credit. Your credit report can also show if you were given credit based on the inquiry.
Adverse or derogatory credit information in your credit report is required to be deleted after 7 years (bankruptcy-related information and federal tax liens are required to be deleted after 10 years). Your credit report is continuously updated, which is why you should always know what it looks like.
Additionally, regular monitoring of your credit can help you spot and put a stop to identity theft early before your credit is seriously harmed.

Happy House Hunting!