Archive for the ‘General’ Category

I’m moving

July 13, 2010

I’m not moving to a new state, or to a new mortgage company, but my blog is moving to a new URL – The Mortgage Blog.

http://themortgageblog.wordpress.com.

Why? After some discussion with colleagues at Dunwoody Mortgage Services, we decided that consolidating separate blogs to The Mortgage Blog will be better for the reader, better for the writer (me), and better for our company as a whole. This will allow you access to more bloggers, posts, and information!

Please be sure to re-bookmark the home page and re-subscribe to the RSS feed so that you don’t miss out.  It’s a different web address, with a similar look, a few more contributors (among other things), but the same honest, professional, sometimes humorous, mortgage advice that you’ve come to enjoy.

Again, this definitely isn’t my last blog post, but it is my last post here.  Look forward to seeing you at my new home

Advertisements

New facebook page

April 19, 2010

Even though there are numerous ways to find your friendly neighborhood mortgage broker (this blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Dunwoody Mortgage), I figured one more couldn’t hurt!

Introducing my Facebook fan page – Clay Your Mortgage Professional

This page contains what one would expect (contact information, summary about my services, links to websites, etc.), but also allows me to post the occasional picture and provides clients, friends, and family the opportunity to post comments.

If you are on Facebook (I believe that literally everyone is at this point), I’d love for you to be a fan! So join me, won’t you?

New blog feature

March 15, 2010

Introducing Meebo… Meebo is an instant chat application that is now integrated into my blog. Meebo will allow readers to ask me question about mortgages, blog posts, or anything else.

To use Meebo, find the box titled “ask a question” that is located on the upper right side of the blog. If you see “claygj is online“, then I’m logged in and will see your question. All that is left is for you to type and submit your private question.

This will be a quick and easy way for my clients, colleagues, and friends to reach out to me even if they don’t have enough time to call. Oh, and anyone working for a company that employs an office linbacker, don’t worry, it’s so discrete I doubt he will ever notice you sending me questions.

Tax season Q and A

March 2, 2010

It is upon us… one of the two guarantees in life – death and taxes. For this post, we’ll focus solely on taxes as I provide some answers to common questions I receive this time of year.

Let me start this list by stating that I am not a licensed tax professional. For information on how to file tax returns, how to write off the items listed below, etc., please consult a licensed tax professional. If you would like a referral, I know some excellent CPAs, including this one.

  • Is mortgage interest tax deductible? – Yes! Home owners are allowed to deduct interest paid on their mortgage. The IRS requires the mortgage lender to provide the documentation (form 1098) showing the interest paid by the borrower. Bottom line – check your mail and then look at Schedule A on the federal return!
  • Is mortgage insurance* tax deductible? – Possibly. Under the current tax code, mortgage insurance is tax deductible for households with adjusted gross income less than $100,000 ($50,000 for single file). The benefits begin to faze out once crossing the $100,000 ($50,000) threshold, and is entirely gone once adjusted gross income surpases $110,000 ($55,000).
  • How do I file for the home buying tax credit? – Whether a first time OR repeat home buyer (see the IRS website for complete details), anyone claiming one of these tax credits must file a paper (non-electronic) return, include a copy of the HUD-1 settlement statement, and a completed Form 5405. Note that while the form 5405 says “first time home buyer”, it is the form for both tax credits. Filing a paper return may not be as fast as an e-file, but the payoff ($8,000 or $6,500) will definitely be worth it!

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, these are by far the most common questions I’ve received this year. Remember, I’ll be glad to answer any questions and help however I can, but I am not a licensed tax professional. See a tax professional to complete and file your 2009 return.

* – Mortgage insurance is required for borrowers who buy a home with less than a 20% down payment. For conventional loans, mortgage insurance is more commonly referred to as PMI or private mortgage insurance. For FHA loans, it is known as mortgage insurance premium.


to buy or not to buy

February 3, 2010

That is most certainly the question these days. The answer is an easy one if you look at the market as a whole – home values are down, homes are more affordable than they have been in years, financing is available, and there are incentives (federal and some state tax credits). With all of that in mind, it is a good time to buy!

Specifically, if you are in one of the two categories below, there has never been a better time to buy a home.

  • First time home buyers – Conventional loans available with as little as 5% down and FHA loans only require 3.5% down.  The seller can pay for most (if not all) of the closing costs.  The down payment can be a gift from a family member. The $8,000 tax credit still applies to first time home buyers (or anyone who has not owned a home in the last thee years).
  • Buyers looking to move up into a larger home – Buyers may lose money selling their current residence, but save substantially more on their next purchase. For instance, I’ve had clients lose a few thousand dollars on the homes they sold only to buy new homes (that were originally listed over $400,000) in the $300,000 price range. Also, don’t forget about the $6,500 tax incentive available to move-up or repeat home buyers.

Now is indeed a great time to buy, and if anyone is looking to take advantage of one of the tax credits, what are you waiting for?  Remember in order to claim one of the tax credits, the home must be under contract by the end of April and purchased by the end of June.

If you haven’t spoken with someone about qualifying to buy your first home OR seeing how much home you could afford prior to selling your current residence, now is the time! I would enjoy the opportunity to speak with anyone looking to take advantage of the current market and/or government tax programs.

Happy Holidays!!

December 25, 2009

Wishing you and yours the best this holiday season!! 

Lending: the final frontier

August 18, 2009

Lending: the final frontier. These are the blog posts of a mortgage broker. My continuing mission: to explain strange new federal regulations, to seek out new loan programs and new lending sources, to boldly go where no mortgage broker has gone before.

It really does seem like science fiction with all the changes that have occurred over the past two to three years.  Think about it: in 2006, if I said that 100% financing would be nonexistent, conventional loans would require at least 10% down (3.5% for FHA), and defaults on subprime loans would lead to a crippling of our financial system that would help usher in the worst recession since the Great Depression… would anyone have believed me?

These changes have been so unexpected and unbelievable, they border on fantasy.  Sadly, it has been all to real for us!

The latest unforseen example: The federal raid and subsequent shutting down of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker shocked the mortgage world, leaving thousands of borrowers in a bind as they were in the process of buying or refinancing a home, but now facing the prospects of starting over. 

These events only reinforce the importance of working for a mortgage broker with multiple lending sources.  My clients never have to worry about being stuck without a source for their loan.  If one lender decides to only offer loans to borrowers with 20% down, or like TB&W, shuts their doors, I’m able to offer additional options to ensure my clients close on their home.

It’s a scary universe out there.  You never know when a Romulan warship will decloak, putting your life in danger (new Federal guidelines) OR when the Borg show up threatening to wipe out human civilization (TB&W’s sudden closing).  It’s best to work with a professional who is up-to-date on guideline changes and has a plan for action if disaster strikes.  I may just have a great referral for you as you look to buy or refinance a home.

Clay Jeffreys is a Mortgage Consultant with Dunwoody Mortgage Services, Inc. and writer for “Blog Pertaining to the Acquisition of a Mortgage to Purchase a Domicile.”  Dunwoody Mortgage Services seeks to provide mortgage brokerage services with the highest standards of service, care, honesty, integrity and value; concentrating on owner-occupied, residential financing.  For more information about Dunwoody Mortgage and available programs, please visit www.dunwoodymortgage.net.

The world may never know – a stimulus plan review

August 12, 2009

After a year and a half and three stimulus plan attempts later, where are in this economic downturn? One could argue that all of these plans have failed.  Jobs continued to be lost, the economy still hasn’t recovered.  The government wasted the $1.7 trillion dollars used to fix the economy.

The counter argument would be improving a country’s economy is like a turning a ship – it takes time.

Probably the best way to judge how things have gone thus far is to look at history and compare.  I’ve previously blogged (here and here) about the similar situation that Japan and Sweden faced in the 1990s.

  • Sweden acted swiftly with government bailouts to buy up “toxic assets” and helped the economy get back on course in a few years.
  • Japan initially refused to bailout the financial sector.  After ushering in The Lost Decade, the government issued their own bailout to buy up “toxic assets” to help the economy improve.

Where is the USA in this?  I would say definitely closer to Sweden than Japan.  The government began the bailouts pretty early to stimulate consumer spending, help prop up the major banks, and keep the financial infrastructure from completely collapsing.  With this help, there are signs that the economy is recovering.

  • job losses have slowed
  • housing sales are climbing
  • the GDP barely contracted in the 2nd quarter and some economists see the recession ending in the 3rd quater this year
  • consumer confidence is higher
  • stocks improved from their early March lows of 6500 (lowest levels since mid 1990s) to almost 9500 in August
  • the series of positive economic news pushed interest rates off of their historical lows into the low 5’s, which is actually a good sign for the health of an economy (not so good when buying a home)

An intriguing difference between our current situation versus that of Japan/Sweden is our bailout money was not used to buy toxic assets (at least not yet).  Instead, the money was used to buy stocks and prop up banks, which caused the stock recovery. Is this yet another bubble? Hopefully that is not the case!

Only time will tell if the bailouts were the right thing to do.  Without them, we could have seen the complete collapse of our financial system; possibly another Great Depression.  With them, the economic outlook certainly seems much brighter with stocks recovering, home sales climbing, and slightly higher interest rates… but we’ll never really know for sure if they (or how much they) were needed.

Clay Jeffreys is a Mortgage Consultant with Dunwoody Mortgage Services, Inc. and writer for “Blog Pertaining to the Acquisition of a Mortgage to Purchase a Domicile.”  Dunwoody Mortgage Services seeks to provide mortgage brokerage services with the highest standards of service, care, honesty, integrity and value; concentrating on owner-occupied, residential financing.  For more information about Dunwoody Mortgage and available programs, please visit www.dunwoodymortgage.net.

November 30, 2009 – don’t be late!

July 28, 2009

The $8,000 tax credit for first time home buyers comes to an end on November 30, 2009.  Buyers looking to take advantage of it must have the purchase of their new home completed on November 30th… not in process, not loan approved, and not cleared to close… completed, done, finished… you get the idea.

I know what you are thinking, “it’s still July. There’s over 120 days until then.” Yes, it is indeed July. I can’t argue with you there.  That said, think about these two things.

  • If you give yourself roughly 30 days to find a home about the same amount of time to get a loan and close on the home, that is roughly 60 days.  Now all of the sudden, there are only about 60 days to spare.
  • Think about how many people are going to “jump off the fence” and want to buy a home to take advantage of the tax credit before the end of November?  Realtors will be pressed for time… Underwriting times will lengthen… Closing times with attorneys will be harder to schedule.

I am advising all of my first time home buyers to be ready to close (house found, under contract, and loan approved) by the end of October 2009. If there is a delay for any reason, you would still have 30 days to get it resolved.

It won’t be an easy process to find a home, get under contract, and buy the home if you start the process in late October or November 1st.  Don’t be like this guy, who is always running late!

A change will do you good??

July 22, 2009

The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it. It did not begin with the forging of the Great Rings, but with the creation of subprime loans and 100% financing.

Galadriel, chill out, not all change is bad!

Galadriel, relax! Not all change is bad.

Change can be a good thing, but going through the process of change may not be too pleasant.  This is a timely reminder because on July 30, 2009, the Mortgage Disclosure Improvement Act (MDIA) goes into affect.  This changes the way in which borrowers are disclosed information regarding their loan AND the time frame in which a loan can close (based on the disclosure of that information).

Some examples of the new guidelines:

  • Lenders will no longer be allowed to collect any application fees, appraisal fees, etc. until the borrower receives the truth-in-lending statement. 
  • “Received” is when the borrower signs and dates the disclosure OR three business days after loan disclosures have been mailed to the borrower. 
  • During the loan process, if the APR on the loan changes by more than 0.125% for any reason, the borrower must receive an updated set of disclosures and given time to review them. 
  • On a redisclosure, a home closing cannot occur until 3 business days after the lender sends the updated disclosures to the borrower.
  • Redisclosure is required even when the borrower’s APR goes down (better rate, lower closing costs, etc).

The idea behind MDIA is great because it is designed to protect consumers. It will cut down on predatory lending and ensure borrowers know about any changes taking place on their loan.  The days of shady lenders saying at the closing table “by the way, your rate is actually 5.5%, not 5%. Now sign here” are over.

The downside in all of this will be MDIA’s implementation.  There may be delays in ordering appraisals (waiting to collect up-front fees), and possible delays in closings for changes in loan amounts, rate, closing costs, etc. 

As we all adjust to the new guidelines, here are some practical steps to ensure a smooth closing.

  • Plan ahead: Always a good idea, but now even more important to close on time.
  • Schedule closings wisely: Quick closings will become very difficult under the new Act.  Before putting down a quick closing date on a contract, call me so we can schedule a realistic closing date.
  • Be patient:  As with any change, there will be an adjustment period.  Remember, this is not only new for borrowers and mortgage professionals, but also for realtors, appraisers, and closing attorneys.

As cumbersome as these changes may be, it is actually a good thing. There will be some frustration involved as we all adjust to the new guidelines.  That said, it will be worth the trouble in order to provide more transparency and protection for borrowers.

Clay Jeffreys is a Mortgage Consultant with Dunwoody Mortgage Services, Inc. and writer for “Blog Pertaining to the Acquisition of a Mortgage to Purchase a Domicile.”  Dunwoody Mortgage Services seeks to provide mortgage brokerage services with the highest standards of service, care, honesty, integrity and value; concentrating on owner-occupied, residential financing.  For more information about Dunwoody Mortgage and available programs, please visit www.dunwoodymortgage.net.