Posts Tagged ‘credit’

Ten Incredibly easy steps for buying that first home.

Posted on: April 20th, 2016 by admin No Comments

realty-1151243__180Really you don’t have to be afraid. Like they say “It isn’t rocket science”. If you answer yes to any of these questions, its time to go out an get your piece of the American Dream.

  1. Are you throwing rent money out the window every month?
  2. Are you turning green with envy every time one of your buddies talks about their palace in the burbs or the city for that matter?
  3. Have you been to at least one seminar on how not to invest your money in the stock market?
  4. Have you looked at your income tax return and said to yourself ” How come I don’t have any more write offs?
  5. And finally, has your spouse threaten to leave you unless you find a way out of that dump you live in?

Okay, I’m known for being a wise guy. But seriously isn’t it time to get out and get your own? It really isn’t that hard to get started.

  1. Go find a real estate agent that you like and trust. Talk to your friends about who they used. There is nothing better than a referral. If you don’t have any friends, look around you and go on the internet and see who has a lot of listings. These agents are probably very active in the market. There are agents who specialize as buyers agents but they are not readily identifiable as the listing agents. Be sure to go to the agents websites and look for endorsements from past clients. That will tell you how good they are, regardless if they are a listing or selling specialist.
  2. Once you pick the agent, go get pre-qualified for a mortgage. What does that mean? It means a possible lender will check your credit, your basic income and give you an idea of what you can borrow. Your real estate agent will give you some recommendations on who to go to. There is no charge for this service. But when you find a house, you will have to go through a formal mortgage application.
  3. Go find houses on line and screen them for what you want. Stick to the main websites;  The Multiple Listing Service, your agent’s website or Zillow. If you don’t know what Zillow is, believe me you will learn quickly.
  4. Go drive by the houses first. Pictures and video are great but you have to scope out the neighborhood.
  5. Pick some and go look at them with your agent.
  6. Like one, well go ahead scaredy – cat make an offer. The worse that will happen is that the seller will say no, but maybe if you are lucky you can negotiate the price and other conditions. You know, like removal of the Lama Haired rug or replacing the 40 year old furnace. But its like the lottery…. You can’t win if you don’t play.
  7. Everybody agrees? Okay, do your stuff; inspections, mortgage app, title search(the agent will help you with this for another recommendation).
  8. Go to settlement, sign papers.
  9. Get the keys
  10. Move in

Now was that so bad? Okay… Like I said I am a wise guy.  But it really isn’t that bad. Give me a call and we shall venture the journey together. It can be a lot of fun and maybe by this time next year Uncle Sam will send you a big fat check. Who knows?

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3 programs to help you buy a house if you can’t get a mortgage.

Posted on: May 30th, 2014 by admin

Sold Home For Sale Sign in Front of New HouseI think that there are still challenges in today’s real estate market in either buying or selling a house. Suffice it to say that there are  a lot of folks who owe more than what their home is worth (“underwater”).  There are enough people who have credit problems because of the recession that started in 2007.  Lots of recent  college graduates are strapped with student debt and no jobs and living at home. The economic “recovery” has begun but it is taking forever. And certainly the banks and mortgage companies have not eased up that much on underwriting criteria for buyers. An average credit score to get a conventional mortgage is still almost in the mid 700s. FHA  and VA  are still options but I think we  need to do a better job in spreading the word on those programs and how they work. Plus there are concerns regarding FHA continuous funding. FHA mortgage insurance premium is the highest of any program and never goes away until you finally sell.

I would speculate that with the uncertainty of the economy, that customers are just reluctant to take the risk in owning.

I’ll offer a few alternatives that you might consider in getting  into the housing market. I mean you have to live somewhere. Might as well be a place of your own. Here are three for your consideration.

1. Rent with an option to buy. Probably the most well-known and popular. However it can be the most misunderstood program. An “option” is exactly that. You enter into a  lease to rent a home and you agree with the owner that at some point in time you will, or will not, exercise the option to buy the house at an agreed upon price. You may or may not have put up any money toward that option at the lease signing. You and the landlord may have decided that a portion of the rent goes toward the purchase price or the option. Just remember if you don’t exercise the option, you just remain a tenant and have no ownership rights. Whether you get any money back is determined  by the terms of the option agreement.

2. Lease purchase , land contract or installment contract.  Buyer and Seller enter into an agreement of sale for the purchase of property. The sellers maintain the title to the property during the term of the contract and the buyers have an equitable interest.  A note of caution here to both parties. If the seller has an existing mortgage on the property there may be and probably is a “Due on Sale ” clause in the mortgage documents. This will indicate that if any transfer of equity occurs then the entire loan will become due in full immediately. Depending on the size  of the existing loan, this could cause some major problems for both buyer and seller. Any real estate agent worth their salt will check all recorded documents before proceeding with a proposal. A good real estate attorney needs to be involved for each party. If there is no mortgage , then the owner can act as the bank and transfer title to the buyer . Depending on any down money and credit obligations the equity build up is subject to negotiations at the time of the offer. Again I would recommend a good real estate attorney get involved with any preparation for both buyer and seller.
One nice benefit of this type of transaction is that the buyers can get the tax benefits of home ownership.

3. New program. Just heard about this one. A company buys the home for you and the client enters into an agreement of sale to purchase the property within a certain period of time, i.e 5 years. You put up a down payment of 5 or 10% and pay a 3% admin fee to the company at the time of occupancy. You get the house and its yours to live in as a renter at an agreed upon monthly rent and purchase price. The big difference between this and the rent with option is if you do not get a mortgage by the end of the term you get your down payment back. They keep the 3%. You also agree to a 2-3 % annual rent increase during the term. Again this program is for people who have not been able to qualify for a normal mortgage because of unusual catastrophic circumstances.  Lost a job, unusually high medical bills, and then lost a home through foreclosure or just had some hard times and are trying to work yourself back.  That’s why you agree to a 5+ term. And of course if you can a mortgage sooner, there is no prepayment penalty. There are some additional features. Give me a call and we can discuss some additional details.

A  few “options” to think about. Just leave me a comment. Contact me via Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or the old fashion ways of email, salvatoreruta13@gmail.com or cell phone 6107372310

 

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Spring Market brings confidence, I think.

Posted on: April 29th, 2014 by admin

Business HandshakeI’m not one who just takes recent economic news as gospel. But having said that, it does look like we are moving forward with a better housing market. Just take a look at this recent post by Don DeZube of the National Association of Realtors.  Spring Market. You have to admit its pretty positive.  The increases are slight but are running ahead of  last year. The office that I manage is up about 6% over last year. That includes all categories: average sale price, less time on the market, list price of homes, total volume sold and total listing volume.

If there is one problem, it’s that we do not have enough good salable properties on the market. The buyer demand is there and we find ourselves in multiple offer situations. The sellers are happy but the buyers are not. One  cause for the shortage certainly can be attributed in part to  thousands of properties still”underwater”, that is, the owners owe more than the house is worth. Banks are slow in approving possible short sales. Also the Feds have not extended the “debt forgiveness ” provision that allowed sellers to escape the tax consequences of such a sale. There is also some implication  that lenders are holding back millions of stalled foreclosures from the market in the hope that  rising prices will allow the lenders to recoup a larger return of dollars at the “Sheriff Sale”. Who knows…Plus under the new QM rules (Qualified Mortgage), underwriting guidelines are making it  much harder for the average home purchaser to qualify for a mortgage.

Man Scratching HeadLenders are trying to address the above issues by loosing up certain underwriting criteria. Credit scores of 620 and in some cases 550 will get you into a home.  The fact that mortgage applications for all types of  loans are off in some cases 60% from last year might be one reason that lenders are looking for business with less than a truant officer’s mentality. If they don’t lend it, they are not going to make it. Not rocket science.

Here is an explanation to help you better understand the “QM” rules.

One last thing that I have mentioned  several times. If you are in financial trouble, wondering about whether you can stay in your home because you are behind in your mortgage, are considering bankruptcy or in a reverse mortgage and you have any questions, please give me a call. Don’t do anything drastic until you have a chance to talk to a  professional. I can recommend several that can help. Call me at 6107372310. No obligation.

 

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So what’s the deal with the Stock Market? Gimme the House instead.

Posted on: April 16th, 2014 by admin

Businessman Bouncing Over Stock ChartI don’t have a clue.  Used to be  able to gauge the housing market by what’s going on in the Stock Market.
I gave up on that comparison a long time ago. To me it makes absolutely no sense. How can a barometer of the economy change so fast. I mean really, up 200 points one day, down 225 the next. I saw a pundit on a business show the other day that said traders are now using computer programs that make changes in a nano second. How is that possible? They buy, sell  and set the tone for the market before you or I even have a chance to act before our first cup of coffee. Crazy….  There is a thing called “Penny Stocks”. Companies that are looking for money and issue stocks that are worth literally  less than a penny a share. Okay……  I’ll buy a hundred shares for a dollar? Still sounds like a night at the Casinos to me. Kinda like playing the penny slot machines. Maybe I’ll hit it big and get a 1000% return.

Wall street might be a dead-end for the average family.  But then there is the housing market. The great banking debacle of  2007 seems like a generation ago. Mention to a millennial that their grandparents actually had double-digit interest rates when they bought their first house, they look at you like  you have two heads. But it’s 2014 and there is a zero point 30 year fixed rate at 4.875%.  Pretty good.  The values of homes are rising again and home owners are looking at  increased equity. Buyers are coming out of hibernation but are still a little unsure of how to go about that purchase. One thing that is  a must, is that both buyers and sellers have to be reasonable in negotiating.
Credit is still a concern but there are programs to address the buyer with as little as 580 credit score. How can that be? I have always said that there are only a few ways that banks can make money. The  main way is to lend it. The refinance boom is over for lenders. That means they have to go after purchasers of homes who need mortgages. Now is a great time to be a buyer and negotiate with a lender for a great rate.  For a really concise explanation of the current market and what you might need for a down payment and minimum credit scores  for  potential buyers, listen to this podcast.

There is no getting away  from the financial trauma we all experienced over the last several years, but the housing market is coming back and there is no better investment for the average family. The volatility of the stock market is something that a lot of us just don’t want to risk, at least not right now. There’s something about an”Inverted Yield Curve” that leaves me wondering what it all means. Call me for housing info at 6107372310. Or email me at my new email address salvatoreruta13@gmail.com

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Death and Taxes

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by admin

taxes pictureI think you know what I mean. Its inevitable. But I guess I  anticipate  the tax portion of this phrase with  utmost dread every year. April 15, or some day real close  when the government comes a calling and tells me to pay up.  God I hate it. and I always pay. Oh I know what  some you are thinking… you  always get money back.  How come I don’t. Well because I basically don’t want to give the government the use of my money interest free all year-long. That what it is. They take it out of my paycheck send it in and then those spend happy bureaucrats use it all year-long without so much as a thank you let alone any interest on it. Where’s the fairness in that?

No, I’ll take my chances in taking as many exemptions as I can to get as much cash as I can in my paycheck. I’ll pay  up once a year and the penalty. But in the meantime I am using the money for me and my family. But ideally I should zero out, no refund, no penalty. I’m working on that.

But regardless,you can’t escape. But the good news is, if you are a home  owner and borrowed money to purchase the home ,the mortgage interest is deductible. That, along with any property taxes that you pay. Pray to God that our leaders in Washington stop trying to eliminate these deductions from the average homeowner. That fact that we are almost 18 trillion dollars in debt as a country, leaves little doubt that they will continue to come up with  creative  waves of separating you from your hard-earned money.

It really is a war. Us fighting to keep it, and them fighting to take it. And even death won’t free you from the tax man. Your  federal estate is taxable over 5.4 million dollars and in some states like Pa. the inheritance tax can be as high as 20%.

Because of the terrible economic situation that has occurred since the crash of 2007-2008, many folks have found themselves owing money to the Federal government when they thought they were out of the woods and on the way back to stability. Let me give you some examples.

1. Selling your home short. This is where you received the okay from your lender to sell your home for less than what you owe. Up until the  end of 2013, there was no income tax due on debt forgiveness by a lender for  an owner occupied single family home.  This exclusion  expired at the end of 2013 and Congress has shown no interest in extending this provision. So if you sell underwater in 2014 you may owe a big fat tax bill to Uncle Sam. The only way to escape this is to file Bankruptcy or be declared “Insolvent” by the IRS. There is a difference. Talk to a lawyer and an accountant about these alternatives.

2. Forgiveness on credit card debt. This is similar to the above scenario except there has never been an exclusion. I have met several folks who have worked long and hard to rearrange credit card debt only to receive a 1099 C from the credit card company indicating that the debt is forgiven but now report it to the IRS as income.

It really is a shame that folks are trying hard to work out some equitable solution to pay their bills and find out that the hole is some cases is deeper.

Because of situations I mentioned, it is getting harder and harder  to reestablish oneself for the possible purchase of  a home, let alone pay off debt. But there is hope. Did you know that you can buy a house and get a mortgage after a discharged bankruptcy. Also if you lost a home to foreclosure, yes you can buy another house after a period of time. There are some  new credit caveats for sure, but it is possible. If you are in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy your time frame is even quicker. Chapter 13 is when you are actually making payments to a creditor under court supervision.

Look, we all have problems. Some are financial, some are medical, some are emotional. But I am one of those guys that feels if you recognize your limitations and mistakes and are willing to keep on plugging for you and your family, then don’t give up the dream. That’s why I’m here, to discuss the options and give you some advice. Those experts that I can suggest you meet with will help you, not for free, but they won’t break the bank for you again.You owe it to yourself and those you love. But you have to take the initiative. Call me and get started. 6107372310. The first meeting with me is on the house. Click here for some additional 2013 tax tips.

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Touchy, Feely

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by admin

touchy feelyInternet, smart phone,voice mail, email,Facebook. What do they all have in common?  Heck this one is easy.  They all allow so-called communication between two or more people without any overt face to face interaction. No, you can’t count Skype.You know you all have heard or seen the story, or perhaps you actually participated in the event, where two or more people are at some location, function, or event, where  or at least the majority of people are transfixed on their cell phones and everyone  is texting, emailing or Facebooking  to someone else and are not even looking or speaking at the person next to them. By the way is Facebooking really a verb?

I’ll probably be accused of paranoia or at a minimum some  old senior member of the real estate community who just doesn’t quite get it. They will say this is not the wave of the future but it is the present. It’s reality, and get on board. Well I think, notwithstanding my age,  I get around pretty good in the Digital Age.  I am Linked In, Facebooked, Pinned, Twittered and am blogging away. But I know from my long life in the Real Estate profession, that after searching online for their dream house, buyers want to talk to somebody for advice, they want to go out and look at the house, drive by the neighborhood, go inside, look at the carpeting, paint and room sizes. They want to smell the air inside to see if there were smokers in the house, if it smells like, cat, dog or a beauty salon. A Buyer is not going to get the “feel” for those things  just looking online.  And most importantly, they want to be with a professional who can provide decent council about the house. Here are some additional tips on preparing yourself before you buy. Tips

If you are a seller , can you really be objective about the house where your kids were born, or where you grew up? Maybe  you really liked all of that Flock wallpaper when you lived there. Or those metal kitchen cabinets that you painted 3 times different colors over the last 20 years. And 1 and half baths were just fine for your family of 5 and you never had any problems with the 20 year stove, refrigerator or the dark walnut paneling in the family room or finished basement. You get the drift. If you are honest with your self, if you are a seller, here are some examples  of  things you can do to get your house ready. Click here.

I guess what I am saying that if you want to sell or buy a home and you think you can do it by yourself using only digital and social media marketing;  then maybe you might want to rethink  your purchasing and selling strategy. Go with an agent and touch the house, feel it, see it and ask a million questions. If your selling home sweet home, look that agent straight in the eye and make him  give you  no baloney answers on what you need to do to get it sold. You might have to spend a few dollars, but it might save you some eye strain staring at those digital devices.  And you might make a connection with someone who will become a trusted adviser.

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Buy an investment property? Now is a great time thanks to FANNIE MAE.

Posted on: October 3rd, 2012 by admin

Well lets see, I can sit around thinking about the Presidential election and come up with some esoteric, ideological baloney that no one will believe anyway or actually give you some interesting real estate information that might even make you a couple of bucks if you act to buy some property.
Well I picked this up from our friends at the National Association of Realtors. Seems like Fannie Mae is going to give a break to so called “Mom and Pop” Investors. You can now purchase up to 20 properties now and get a Fannie approval. The underwriting for those mortgages…. well that is a whole separate article that we can discuss later and that I would place under the heading of “Miracles in La La Land”. Oh ye of little faith. But what the heck. Give me a call if you have any questions. Good stuff.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2012 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

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Wondering about your credit?

Posted on: August 17th, 2012 by admin

 

 

Credit Score Requirements Ease for Some

 

By Salvatore Ruta

Prudential Choice Properties

 

 

            Tighter lending guidelines have weighed on the U.S. housing market during its ongoing recovery. Most lending institutions during the past two years raised their credit score requirements to as high as 650, making it nearly impossible for many people to obtain a loan.

Wells Fargo made it a little easier for homebuyers this past year, when the lender lowered its credit score requirements on FHA mortgages.

            “Under its new policy, Wells Fargo will accept borrowers with credit scores of 500 to 579 if those borrowers can make a down payment of at least 10%,” said Robert Lentini, a mortgage expert who blogs for the website thetruthaboutmortgage.com. “For borrowers with credit scores of 580 to 599, borrowers must put down 5%. Borrowers with credit scores of 600 or higher can make a 3.5% down payment.”

            Quicken Loans, Inc. Adapted similar policies— dropping to a minimum 580 FICO score. “There are folks who have steady incomes and a solid payment history but were temporarily affected by the economy or a life event in some way. These challenges can lower their credit score significantly,” said Quicken Loans Inc.’s Chief Economist Bob Walters in a company statement. “We believe that a credit score, on its own, is not the sole arbiter of a person’s credit worthiness. This change will open up credit to a significant group of people and allow them to again have access to purchase or refinance a home.”

            Such developments have been welcome news to FHA Commissioner David Stevens, who earlier this year urged lenders to lower their minimum credit score requirements to help the real estate industry as a whole. Stevens said that stringent requirements have constrained home sales by as much as 20% over the past year.

 Salvatore (Sam) can be reached at (610) (737-2310). 

Prudential Choice Properties is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates  Equal Housing Opportunity.

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You’re Credit Challenged?

Posted on: April 23rd, 2012 by admin

 

These guidelines can be a little tedious to work through, but if there is any strong advice that I can offer,  its to plow through the paperwork and work with an experienced real estate agent and mortgage officer. If you do,   and you are looking for that Lehigh Valley home for sale you have a great chance to get the home of your dreams.

Many Credit Challenged Buyers Purchase HUD Homes!

FHA underwriters have a great deal of discretion when they decide who will be approved and who will not be approved for loans. They are allowed to use compensating factors to offset conditions when a borrower’s profile falls outside general loan parameters. Any compensating factor used to justify mortgage approval must also be supported by documentation.

The table below describes the compensating factors that may be used to justify approval of mortgage loans with ratios that exceed FHA benchmark guidelines.

COMPENSATING FACTORS BENCHMARK GUIDELINES

Compensating Factor Guideline Description
Housing Expense Payments The borrower has successfully demonstrated the ability to pay housing expenses greater than or equal to the proposed monthly housing expenses for the new mortgage over the past 12-24 months.
Down Payment The borrower makes a large down payment of 10 percent or higher toward the purchase of the property.
Accumulated Savings The borrower has demonstrated· ability to accumulate savings, and· a conservative attitude toward using credit.
Previous Credit History A borrower’s previous credit history shows that he/she has the ability to devote a greater portion of income to housing expenses.
Compensation or Income Not Reflected in Effective Income The borrower receives documented compensation or income that is not reflected in effective income, but directly affects his/her ability to pay the mortgage.This type of income includes food stamps, and similar public benefits.
Minimal Housing Expense Increase There is only a minimal increase in the borrower’s housing expense.
Substantial Cash Reserves The borrower has substantial documented cash reserves (at least three months worth) after closing. The lender must judge if the substantial cash reserve asset is liquid or readily convertible to cash, and can be done so absent retirement or job termination, when determining if the asset can be included as cash reserves, or cash to close.Funds and/or “assets” that are not to be considered as cash reserves include· equity in other properties, and· proceeds from a cash-out refinance.Lenders may use a portion of a borrower’s retirement account, subject to the conditions stated below. To account for withdrawal penalties and taxes, only 60% of the vested amount of the account may be used. The lender must document the existence of the account with the most recent depository or brokerage account statement. In addition, evidence must be provided that the retirement account allows for withdrawals for conditions other than in connection with the borrower’s employment termination, retirement, or death. If withdrawals can only be made under these circumstances, the retirement account may not be included as cash reserves. If any of these funds are also to be used for loan settlement, that amount must be subtracted from the amount included as cash reserves. Similarly, any gift funds that remain in the borrower’s account following loan closing, subject to proper documentation, may be considered as cash.Note: Reserves from retirement accounts and gifts as described above may be considered as cash reserves when scoring the mortgage application through TOTAL.Reference: For information on acceptable sources of cash reserve funding, see HUD 4155.1 5.B.
Substantial Non-Taxable Income The borrower has substantial non-taxable income.Note: This applies if no adjustment was previously made when computing ratios.
Potential for Increased Earnings The borrower has a potential for increased earnings, as indicated by job training or education in his/her profession.
Primary Wage-Earner Relocation The home is being purchased because the primary wage-earner is relocating, and the secondary wage-earner· has an established employment history· is expected to return to work, and· has reasonable prospects for securing employment in a similar occupation in the new area.Note: The underwriter must document the availability of the potential employment.

 

I have worked with several good bankers and mortgage pros over the years. If you want to consider a home purchase, my suggestion is to start with the financing. With a credit approval and estimate of home purchase in hand, you will be way ahead of others  in a similar credit situation.  Email or call me for a recommendation.

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