Paul recently assisted the KTUL channel 8 news team by providing state of the market information. Following is a link to the news clip.
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Mortgage Modifications – FAQ
It is understandable to have questions when coping with a new and challenging situation, especially when a home is at stake. The reality is that millions of homeowners across the country are finding out that they have more questions than answers. We hope that the following information will help you better understand the circumstances. If you have further questions not addressed below, or would like additional information resources, feel free to contact us.
Do I qualify for a short sale?
The qualifications for a short sale include any or all of the following:
- Financial Hardship – There is a situation causing you to have trouble affording your mortgage.
- Monthly Income Shortfall – In other words: “You have more month than money.” A lender will want to see that you cannot afford, or soon will not be able to afford your mortgage.
- Insolvency – The lender will want to see that you do not have significant liquid assets that would allow you to pay down your mortgage.
What is a mortgage modification?
A mortgage modification is a process through which your mortgage lender changes any or all of the following:
- Your interest rate
- Your principal balance (through a reduction)
- Your loan terms (example: from an adjustable to a fixed rate)
This process can allow borrowers to stay in their property when they can no longer afford their current mortgage payments.
Why would a lender modify my mortgage?
Lenders have realized that in some cases it is better for them to work with current borrowers to lower payments or possibly improve terms in order to keep homeowners in their properties. The average foreclosure can cost a lender from 35-50% of the value of a property, so keeping borrowers in their homes is a good option for everyone.
What do I need to qualify for a mortgage modification?
According to the Making Home Affordable Web site (www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov), you will need the following information for your lender to consider a modification:
- Information about your first mortgage, such as your monthly mortgage statement
- Information about any second mortgage or home equity line of credit on the house
- Account balances and minimum monthly payments due on all of your credit cards
- Account balances and monthly payments on all your other debts such as student loans and car loans
- Your most recent income tax return
- Information about your savings and other assets
- Information about the monthly gross (before tax) income of your household, including recent pay stubs if you receive them or documentation of income you receive from other sources
If applicable, it may also be helpful to have a letter describing any circumstances that caused your income to reduce or expenses to increase (job loss, divorce, illness, etc.)
How do I qualify for a mortgage modification?
The first call you make should be to your lender, have the information above ready to discuss with them and call your customer service line to ask them what options you have available. If the person you speak with does not understand what you are asking, you can ask to be referred to one of the following departments (different lenders have different names for these departments):
- Loss Mitigation
- Mortgage Modification
Prior to contacting your mortgage lender you can quickly complete an eligibility test at www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov. This test will let you know if you are eligible for a modification through the government-sponsored Home Affordability and Stability Program (HASP). For a list of mortgage lenders and servicers, visit www.HopeNow.com.
What if I don’t qualify for a mortgage modification, can’t afford my home, and owe more than it’s worth?
You are not alone and foreclosure is not the only option. If your mortgage lender or servicer will not work with you to reduce your payment, you may want to consider a short sale. Agents like me, with the Certified Distressed Property Expert® Designation, have undergone extensive training in how to process and negotiate short sales. A short sale allows you to sell your home for less than what you owe and avoid foreclosure. Speak to your market expert to see if you may qualify.
What is a Home Affordable Refinance?
If Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns your mortgage, you may be eligible for a Home Affordable Refinance. This will allow you to refinance your home and often lower your payments.
What are the qualifications for a Home Affordable Refinance?
According to the resources released by the government, following are a list of qualifications:
- You are the owner occupant of a one- to four-unit home
- The loan on your property is owned or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
- At the time you apply, you are current on your mortgage payments (you haven’t been more than 30 days late on your mortgage payment in the last 12 months, or if you have had the loan for less than 12 months, you have never missed a payment)
- You believe that the amount you owe on your first mortgage is about the same or slightly less than the current value of your house
- You have income sufficient to support the new mortgage payments, and the refinance improves the long-term affordability or stability of your loan
Mortgages After Financial Reform: 5 Changes
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Types Of Mortgage Lenders
Mortgage Bankers are lenders that are large enough to originate loans and create pools of loans which they sell directly to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, jumbo loan investors, and others. Any company that does this is considered to be a mortgage banker. Some companies don’t sell directly to those major investors, but sell their loans to the mortgage bankers. They often refer to themselves as mortgage bankers as well. Since they are actually engaging in the selling of loans, there is some justification for using this label. The point is that you cannot reliably determine the size or strength of a particular lender based on whether or not they identify themselves as a mortgage banker.
An institution which is lending their own money and originating loans for itself is called a “portfolio lender.” This is because they are lending for their own portfolio of loans and not worried about being able to immediately sell them on the secondary market. Because of this, they don’t have to obey Fannie/Freddie guidelines and can create their own rules for determining credit worthiness. Usually these institutions are larger banks and savings & loans. Quite often only a portion of their loan programs are “portfolio” product. If they are offering fixed rate loans or government loans, they are certainly engaging in mortgage banking as well as portfolio lending.
Once a borrower has made the payments on a portfolio loan for over a year without any late payments, the loan is considered to be “seasoned.” Once a loan has a track history of timely payments it becomes marketable, even if it does not meet Freddie/Fannie guidelines. Selling these “seasoned” loans frees up more money for the “portfolio” lender to make more loans. If they are sold, they are packaged into pools and sold on the secondary market. You will probably not even realize your loan is sold because, quite likely, you will still make your loan payments to the same lender, which has now become your “servicer.”
Lenders are considered to be direct lenders if they fund their own loans. A “direct lender” can range anywhere from the biggest lender to a very tiny one. Banks and savings & loans obviously have deposits they can use to fund loans with, but they usually use “warehouse lines of credit” from which they draw the money to fund the loans. Smaller institutions also have warehouse lines of credit from which they draw money to fund loans.
Direct lenders usually fit into the category of mortgage bankers or portfolio lenders, but not always.
One way you used to be able to distinguish a direct lender was from the fact that the loan documents were drawn up in their name, but this is no longer the case. Even the tiniest mortgage broker can make arrangements to fund loans in their own name nowadays.
Correspondent is usually a term that refers to a company which originates and closes home loans in their own name, then sells them individually to a larger lender, called a sponsor. The sponsor acts as the mortgage banker, re-selling the loan to Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac as part of a pool. The correspondent may fund the loans themselves or funding may take place from the larger company. Either way, the loan is usually underwritten by the sponsor. It is almost like being a mortgage broker, except that there is usually a very strong relationship between the correspondent and their sponsor.
Mortgage Brokers are companies that originate loans with the intention of brokering them to lending institutions. A broker has established relationships with these companies. Underwriting and funding takes place at the larger institutions. Many mortgage brokers are also correspondents. Mortgage brokers deal with lending institutions that have a wholesale loan department.
Most mortgage bankers and portfolio lenders also act as wholesale lenders, catering to mortgage brokers for loan origination. Some wholesale lenders do not even have their own retail branches, relying solely on mortgage brokers for their loans. These wholesale divisions offer loans to mortgage brokers at a lower cost than their retail branches offer them to the general public. The mortgage broker then adds on his fee. The result for the borrower is that the loan costs about the same as if he obtained a loan directly from a retail branch of the wholesale lender.
Banks and Savings & Loans – Banks and savings & loans usually operate as portfolio lenders, mortgage bankers, or some combination of both.
Credit Unions – Credit Unions usually seem to operate as correspondents, although a large one could act as a portfolio lender or a mortgage banker.
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Getting The Highest Price For Your Home
In order to get the highest price in the shortest time, you need to know how to market your home. The better you market your home, the more offers you will get. And the more offers you get, the more choices you have to get the price and terms you want.
The most important factor of marketing your home is pricing it right. Your price should be adjusted to reflect the market, and the property’s worth. The key is to get many people checking out your property at a fair price instead of having no buyers because your price is set too high.
Another important factor is the condition of your home. Make sure that your home looks ready to be sold. Fix any defects (peeling or faded paint, cracks, stains, etc.) Condition alone can sometimes prompt fast buying decisions. Not only should you fix any defects, but consider upgrading your home by making major repairs and cosmetic improvements before selling. A nice looking home triggers the emotional response that can lead to a financial response.
Learn how to negotiate the best terms for all parties involved. Terms are another factor which may be adjusted to attract buyers. If you insist on getting your asking price, think of what you can offer to the buyers, for example, improvements you’ve made, or even offering seller financing at a lower than market interest rate on a portion of the sale price. Convince them why they should be paying the price you have set.
Lastly, get the buzz out about your home. List your house with a hot agent that ensures your house is listed on the MLS and on the Internet. On your own, get the word out. It should be visible to passerby’s that your house if for sale, whether it be signs, local advertisements or you telling friends, family, and acquaintances.
FICO Score – A Brief Explanation
When you apply for a mortgage loan, you expect your lender to pull a credit report and look at whether you’ve made your payments on time. What you may not expect is that they seem to be more interested in your “FICO” score.
“What’s a FICO score?” is a common reaction.
Each time your credit report is pulled, it is run through a computer program with a built-in scorecard. Points are awarded or deducted based on certain items such as how long you have had credit cards, whether you make your payments on time, if your credit balances are near maximum, and assorted other variables. When the credit report prints in your lender’s office, the total score is displayed. Your score can be anywhere between the high 300’s and the low 800’s.
Lenders wanted to determine if there was any relationship between these credit scores and whether borrowers made their payments on time, so they did a study. The study showed that borrowers with scores above 680 almost always made their payments on time. Borrowers with scores below 600 seemed fairly certain to develop problems.
As a result, credit scoring became a more important factor in approving mortgage loans. Credit scores also made it easier to develop artificial intelligence computer programs that could make a “yes” decision for loans that should obviously be approved. Nowadays, a computer and not a person may have actually approved your mortgage.
In short, lower credit scores require a more thorough review than higher scores. Often, mortgage lenders will not even consider a score below 600.
Some of the things that affect your FICO score are:
- Too many accounts opened within the last twelve months
- Short credit history
- Balances on revolving credit are near the maximum limits
- Public records, such as tax liens, judgments, or bankruptcies
- No recent credit card balances
- Too many recent credit inquiries
- Too few revolving accounts
- Too many revolving accounts
FICO actually stands for Fair Isaac and Company, which is the company used by the Experian (formerly TRW) credit bureau to calculate credit scores. Trans-Union and Equifax are two other credit bureaus who also provide credit scores.