Realtor Advice

TRID – Help with the New Mortgage & Settlement Process

d0c7b-closed_mortgage_filesReal estate agents need to make sure they understand the new Loan Estimate (LE) and Closing Disclosure (CD) process.  As the HUD-1 and the GFE forms go away, real estate agents are in the best position to help guide home-buyers through the new process.

It seems that the CFPB reached out to NAR for help in spreading the word about a new tool addressing questions about what exactly the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule will mean for the real estate industry.

The CFPB launched “Know Before You Owe: The Real Estate Professional’s Guide.” The online tool is intended to help industry professionals get up to speed on changes related to TRID that are coming their way. For real estate agents it’s another opportunity to brush up on what TRID means for closings and keep clients informed about the road ahead. Those tools went live this week on the CFPB’s website.

Please contact the Jeff Baxter Mortgage Team for assistance with the new process.  We are speaking to local real estate offices to help spread the knowledge.  Contact Jeff to schedule a presentation.

Consumer Advice, Realtor Advice

Married Same-Sex Couples and Mortgage Applications

How does the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriages affect mortgage applications? same sex marraige

The short answer is that is doesn’t affect them at all.

I’m are proud to say that Fairway Independent Mortgage has always permitted the recognition of same-sex marriage on our applications.  If the borrower’s indicate they were married, then for our purposes, we consider the borrowers as married.

We do not question whether or not a borrower is legally married simply because of a same-sex spouse. If the borrower was legally married in a state that allows/accepts/recognizes same-sex marriage, for legal purposes, that borrower is married and will report himself/herself as married regardless of the state the borrower may purchase or refinance a property in.

These same rules apply for conventional, FHA, USDA, and VA financing.

The rules are slightly different for unmarried borrowers . . .

Unmarried borrowers, including but not limited to, unmarried same sex couples may apply for joint credit on a joint mortgage only if they have a history of living together, currently reside at the same residence together, share at least one reported joint credit account and share at least one joint asset account. If the borrowers meet these criteria and will be on a joint 1003 – then a credit report must be pulled jointly.

If two unmarried borrowers are applying for mortgage and do not display ALL of the required characteristics above, they must be listed on separate loan applications with an individual credit report for each borrower.

Please contact me with any questions.


Consumer Advice, Realtor Advice

Five Things That Could Decrease the Value of Your Home

rainbowhouseIf you are thinking of selling your home somewhere down the road, there are a couple of things that the experts suggest that you NOT do because it could actually decrease the value of your home and make it less appealing to potential home buyers.  REALTORS, this is also a good list to review with potential listing clients.

I wanted to share some of them with you.

  1. Bold Paint Colors: When buyers view your home, bold colors may stick out like a sore thumb and they may look at it as an extra expense to have the walls repainted. If you decide to use a bolder color, it’s recommended that you use it on an accent wall with lighter shades.
  2. Over-remodeled Kitchens: It’s one of the most important rooms in your home. There is a point where it can be overly done and doesn’t fit with the rest of your home. It’s suggested that you don’t go overboard—remodel so it matches the style and design of the rest of your home.
  3. Landscaping: It’s the first impression that makes them want to walk in the door. Get rid of overgrown shrubs and plant new ones. If you have weeds growing in your lawn, apply a good weed killer. Fertilize the grass to make it look greener. Get rid of junk and toys in both the back and front yards. bad-landscaping-chico-ca
  4. Unfinished Projects: You may be doing them yourself or have hired a contractor who has not yet finished an improvement project. Make sure it’s complete before listing your home for sale. Buyers may view it as costing them money or may not be able to imagine the finished project.
  5. Wasted Space: Do you have a spare bedroom that has turned into a storage area? Or a den or office that is now an exercise area? Potential buyers want to visualize how every square foot can be used—especially if home prices in your area are somewhat tied to the square footage of your home.

Would you please share some other things that might be a problem when listing your home for sale?

Consumer Advice, Realtor Advice

What the Heck are Specialty Consumer Reports?

I know you are well aware that credit bureaus keep track of your debts, payment history and credit scores.

But, did you know there are other reporting agencies that keep track of your insurance claims, your employment history, your banking history and much more?

So, I’d like to share with you the names of some of the reporting agencies so you can investigate them yourself to make sure your records are accurate. I am provided the names of the companies and locations so you can Google and find the website links.

Your Banking History:

  • Certegy Check Services, Tampa, FL
  • ChexSystems, Inc, Woodbury, MN
  • TeleCheck Services, Houston, TX

Your Employment & Background Check:

  • First Advantage Consumer Relations, Seminole, FL
  • LexisNexis Consumer Center, Atlanta, GA
  • Verifications, Inc, Watertown, SD

Your Insurance Claims History:

  • C.L.U.E Report from LexisNexis Consumer Center, Atlanta, GA
  • iiX Company, Bryan, TX
  • A-PLUS Consumer Inquiry Center, Jersey City, NJ

Your Medical and Prescription Drug History :

  • MIB Inc., Braintree, MA
  • MedPoint/Ingenix, Inc., West Valley City, UT

Your Utility Account History:

  • NCTUE Disclosure Report, Atlanta, GA

Your PayDay and Sub-Prime Loan History:

  • Clarity Services, Clearwater, FL
  • DataX, Ltd., Las Vegas, NV
  • FactorTrust, Inc., Alpharetta, GA

If you’d like a complete list with phone numbers and email addresses of the companies mentioned, please visit (a non-profit education and advocacy agency for consumers).

Realtor Advice

It’s May 1st – How is Your Year Going?

PanicIt’s true, nothing is ever gained by panic.  Hopefully, at the beginning of the year, you set goals and developed a plan for 2015?  Well, it’s now May 1st and you are 1/3 of the way through the year.  How are you doing?

If you are ahead of your goals and have a full pipeline of clients and potential clients looking for homes or looking for mortgage financing, then congratulations.  Now is the time to buckle down and keep the pedal to the metal – winners don’t coast when they reach a plateau.  Winners pedal harder while others simply coast.  But, the problem with coasting is that you then begin to go downhill.

If you are behind in your production for the year – don’t panic!  Review what you did the first third of the year and see what tactics and strategies are working and which are not doing so well.  Refine the most promising and drop the losers. Develop new plans to reach your goals.  Set a short term to get yourself back to where you need to be based on your numbers.  If you can accomplish that short-term fix over the next two months, you’ll have the second half of 2015 to really blow it out.

Nothing is ever gained by panic.  Thoughtful, realistic analysis of your situation and a look back to how you did things in the first part of the year will tell you what you need to do.  Best of luck for the remainder of 2015.  Let’s do this!

Consumer Advice, Realtor Advice

What the Loan Disclosure and Closing Disclosure Means for Consumers

d0c7b-closed_mortgage_filesYesterday we talked about the elimination of the HUD-1 and GFE this August as directed by the CFPB.  Click on Getting Ready for New Closing Documents and Disclosures to check it out.

Today, I wanted to show you the CFPB’s attempt to explain why this is good for consumers.  As you can see, our regulators still believe that consumers are too often deceived about mortgage loan terms.  I personally do not believe that is true and from my own experience, I can tell you that there is too much disclosure these days.  Nevertheless, here we are . . . let me know what you think about all this in the comments below.

New Closing Disclosures – What it means for consumers

Marketing, Mortgage Business, Realtor Advice

There’s a Lot More to a Loan Officer than Interest Rates

loan_officer_boyI often get calls that start out by asking the same question: “What are your interest rates?”

It reminds me of the time when a distant relative purchased a home. I quoted him an interest rate and when I called to follow up to see if he wanted to set up a loan application appointment, he told me that he ended up going with a lender who had a lower rate.

Fast forward 3 weeks later. The same relative called in a panic. One week before the scheduled closing date, you know what happened, right? His loan had been denied by the other lender due to too much debt. The other lender told him there was nothing more he could do. Case closed.

So, the file was transferred and yes, he had too much debt. But, by paying off one of the credit cards (yes, he got a gift to help him out), he qualified and closed the loan.

Here’s what I have found when a file gets transferred to me from another lender:

  • Some lenders “lowball” the interest rate just to get a loan in the door.
  • Some lenders don’t obtain a credit score BEFORE quoting an interest rate.
  • Some lenders don’t review the file before it goes to an underwriter.
  • Some lenders just don’t know the mortgage rules.

I wanted to tell you my story because if you find that you are having problems getting one of your real estate transactions closed, I’m available to give you a “second opinion.”

I want you to know that “I’m more than just a loan officer who quotes interest rates!”

Consumer Advice, Personal, Realtor Advice

What to do if You’re Feeling Burned Out

BurnoutI recently read that “burnout” can be caused by long-term exhaustion or a diminished interest in work due to boredom. Burnout happens over time, but once it hits, some real estate agents just quit the business because they just don’t know how to overcome it. Others just keep plodding along hoping things will change.

While praying that things will change is always an option, there may be other things that you can do to change your attitude.

If you find yourself doing the “slow burnout” or have experienced it in the past, I’d like to share some suggestions that other agents have successfully used.

Take Some Time Off

      – It could be just a long weekend. Or maybe a week or two.

Don’t Think About It

      – Have someone cover your business while you are away and don’t think about real estate during that time period.

Do What You Enjoy

      – It’s the little things. Visit friends, golf, garden, exercise—whatever you like to do. Consider the motto, you

“Work to Live, Not Live to Work.”

Research a New Real Estate Niche

      – Maybe you’d like to become a new-construction specialist. Or a “green” specialist. Or work with baby boomers. The NAR has special designations for different genres that you may want to look into.

Learn Something New

    – Take a class at your local university. Sign up for an art class. Volunteer at your favorite charity. Find a hobby.

Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results is not the way to get rid of that burned-out feeling. Please consider some of my suggestions because it just may give you a fresh perspective on the work that you do and a new purpose in your life.

What have you done in the past to overcome burnout?

Consumer Advice, Realtor Advice

The Year Ahead

Mortgage rates moved higher this past week, increasing by about 1/2 discount points.  Here is a newsletter I follow to give you some context:  RATELINK

The future of the economy will continue to be debated.  There is no certainty in predictions but the recent data and Fed statements clearly show continued signs of improvement.  The Fed is now talking about raising rates sometime possibly mid 2015 depending on the data.  The uncertainty is what that will do to the housing sector, which remains a vital part of the economy.  The last thing the housing market needs is higher rates at this point.

What we can be certain of is the likeliness that mortgage interest rates will become volatile as we get closer to a Fed rate hike.  Historically, mortgage interest rates seem to improve slowly.  In contrast, when rates increase, they often do so quickly and furiously.  One negative day often erases a week of positive improvements.  Of course even that maxim was tested the last few months of last year as market swings of 3/8 a discount point both up and down were often seen in very short spans of time.  There were interest rates movements of 31 basis points over 5 times in December alone.

It is possible for mortgage interest rates to remain favorable considering the Fed still wants to keep them relatively low and continues to reinvest maturing holdings and payments back into the mortgage-backed securities market.  However, we are in unprecedented times and rate increases are still a real possibility.

The Fed isn’t the only player in the financial markets and there are many others buying and selling securities. Remember that the Fed does not directly dictate that mortgage interest rates will be at a certain rate. Rates are determined by the supply and demand for mortgage-backed securities and can change rapidly hour to hour. However, the Fed is still the major player in the market at this time with $1.7 trillion in holdings and they do set the lead.

Despite volatility throughout 2014, the Fed kept rates historically low.  The big unknown is how things will play out this year as the Fed signaled an intention to raise rates.  Now is a great time to take advantage of mortgage interest rates at these still favorable levels.