Where Do I Go From Here?

January 12, 2016

You may be aware that I am the father of five very amazing daughters!  My wife and I often joke about what we missed during the 80’s and 90’s because for nearly 20 years, beginning in 1984, we were very busy with little girls. Part of living in a very active, colorful and energetic household of little girls was watching, singing, playing, dressing up like and reading Disney princess musicals.  The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan and Pocahontas were all danced to, dreamed about, reenacted and sung with vigor around the Short house during those memorable years.

One of the songs which comes out of those years is a song sung in Pocahontas II by the daughter of the Indian chief entitled “Where Do I Go From Here?”  This song is sung in the movie as Pocahontas encounters a crossroads and she is reflecting on what she has heard from many in her life as she contemplates her next move.  The chorus in this song is this:SIGNPOST_3-253

“But where do I go from here?
So many voices ringing in my ear.
Which is the voice that I was meant to hear?
How will I know?
Where do I go from here?”

Many who are contemplating an upcoming home purchase must feel the same way!  Radio and TV Ads, direct mail, social media, neighbors, brothers-in-law – they ALL freely offer their advice, even when NOT asked!  They are sure, from their experience,  who should be called, what should be required, where one should look, and how long it should take!  However, their experiences are generally very limited to their own few transactions and in light of their own unique circumstances.

What many “would-be, well-intentioned” advisers don’t tell you is that they have a very limited experience in the process of buying (or refinancing) a house.  The TRUTH is that many of the national loan program guidelines are changing often and individual companies often have their own overlaying restrictions which are added to the federal government-mandated qualifying guidelines.

Most honest Realtors, Real Estate Attorneys, insurance agents, home builders, financial planners and CPA’s will admit that keeping up with home loan requirements is not part of their daily or weekly routine and therefore the borrower should wisely start their home buying (or refinancing) process by contacting a nationally certified, state licensed, experienced mortgage professional who has the information and attention to keep the unique needs of the borrower at the forefront of the available financing options being considered.

In answering the wanna-be, home buyer (or homeowner who desires to refinance their home loan) when asking, “Where Do I Go From Here?”,  I recommend contacting a local, experienced mortgage professional who can be reached and trusted to help the borrower reach their goals.  How can I help you?

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Revisiting FHA – Increased Loan Limits for 2016

December 10, 2015

2000px-US-FederalHousingAdmin-Logo.svgYesterday, FHA announced the increase of their loan limits beginning on January 1, 2016 to $437,000 for single family residences in the following Tennessee counties: Cannon, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Hickman, Macon, Maury, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson, and Wilson.  The increase of the FHA loan limits will likely enable increased home-ownership opportunities in these 14 Tennessee counties for many reasons – some of which might be overlooked by the casual observer.

The obvious additional opportunities for those desiring to buy or refinance houses is possibly obvious.  Now home buyers wanting to buy a house up to $452,000 can do so with only a 3.5% down payment!  Buying a $452,000 anywhere in these counties with only a $15,800 down payment is an amazing option for many to consider.  This down payment can come as a gift from a family member and all of the closing costs for this purchase can be paid by the seller or the lender.  This arrangement can be a life-changing opportunity for many who have desire to live in an area where the safety, convenience or educational benefits could reap returns for many generations to come.

Happy Family

Many growing families may find the increased FHA Loan Limits in 2016 to be a lifesaver when considering their need for additional space, improved local schools or safer neighborhoods.

Others many need to refinance their homes or consolidate 1st and 2nd mortgages or other overwhelming debts and need the benefit of refinancing their home with an FHA loan up to 85% of the appraised value.  A borrower using an FHA loan to refinance their home is allowed to draw out this cash with no questions asked for paying off these high payment debt accounts or for making home improvements to their existing house.  The $11,500 increase in the FHA loan limit on January 1 might give those in need the extra breathing room to cause this new refinance loan to make sense for them to accomplish these financial goals to set them up for success for decades to come.

And finally, what many may not be aware of, the uniqueness of FHA underwriting guidelines may allow many who desire to buy or refinance to move forward with their new loan for any of these reasons:

  1. FHA allows for a “non-occupying, co-borrower” to be added to the loan where those who are planning to live in the house might not qualify on their own merits.  Lenders can add a parent, sibling, child, grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin to the loan application and include their income, assets and credit profile to strengthen the quality of the loan to increase the possibility of loan approval.
  2. FHA allows for financing of mixed-use properties with residential interest rates and guidelines.  This would give a buyer the opportunity to purchase a property designed for use as a business AND a residence to purchase the entire property using FHA qualifying guidelines and still use part of the house for business use.
  3. FHA allows for property owners and home buyers to buy or refinance their homes setting aside additional money for repairs, upgrades, remodeling and rebuilding of the house – all in one loan.  This renovation loan called the FHA 203K is an amazing loan which enables home buyers to buy a distressed house and make it a dream house with all of the features that the new home buyer needs to make this home an investment they will enjoy for decades to come and to improve the entire neighborhood.

FHA loan increases on January 1, 2016 may seem like something that only mortgage geeks like this author might get excited about when really other industry partners and home owners and future home buyers should also welcome as we ring in the New Year!

(Please contact this author for additional details about any of the uses of the FHA Mortgage and how it might be of help to you or those you know.)


Renovation Loans that You can Finally Understand!

January 28, 2015

203K Guide coverHave you every wondered if you could make improvements on your current house in such a way as to bring the value of your house up, “BUT” didn’t have the cash or the equity in your house currently to make this happen?

Have you considering buying a “fixer-upper” to move into, “BUT” knew that 2-3 years of weekend projects would not be realistic with your work or family responsibilities and you didn’t want to pour all of your extra cash into the improvements on the house?

Have you found a house that would be perfect for your family “BUT” the kitchen….., or the master bedroom…., or the exterior (siding, roofing, windows)…., or the bathrooms…., or the heating and air conditioner……..,or the flooring…. need some changes?

Finally, any of these “BUTS” can be alleviated from the mix of your consideration by using the FHA 203K Renovation Loan to finance your desired improvements with OUR MONEY!  You keep your cash and let us roll the costs of the qualifying improvements into your new loan.  You close on your house loan (and transfer ownership into your name if its a purchase loan) and then we’ll pay the contractors as they finish up the work on your house!

This is one of the best WIN-WIN-WIN mortgage loans available in the industry today.  Want to know more? CLICK HERE to download the New 203K Guide: “Building the Bridge to Home Ownership”

Need to learn more about the FHA 203K Renovation Loan?  Try this: http://www.ReBuildTennessee.com


One More Chance to Refinance in 2015?

January 4, 2015

IS NOW A GOOD TIME TO REFINANCE?

2015 shirtHomeowners who missed the last refinancing boom have been given another chance.

According to a weekly survey by Freddie Mac, average interest rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell last week to their lowest level in over a year and a half last week. Interest rates are the lowest the country has seen since mid-2013, and remain close to their lowest level in 50 years.

Not many experts expect rates to stay low, however.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 30-year fixed mortgage rates are likely to rise as early as 2015’s first quarter; and should end the year at 5%. The mortgage industry trade group also predicts rates at 5.4% by 2016.

With current mortgage rates low (but expected to rise), U.S. homeowners are submitting applications to refinance by the tens of thousands.

Refinancing can be a great way to save money, but there are times a homeowner should choose to say “no”. For example, because there are costs associated with refinancing, sometimes, refinancing to a lower interest rate mortgage can be more expensive than keeping your current one.

So, how should you determine whether refinancing is right for you?

First, you will want to understand how refinancing works. Then, you should consider your current financial situation and what you plan to accomplish with a refinance.

Click to get today’s interest rates.

HOW REFINANCING WORKS

The mechanics of a refinance are basic — you give a new mortgage which pays your original mortgage in full, leaving you with just the “new” mortgage(s) on your home.

The interest rate of your new loan; and the term of your new loan may be different for your original, but the property securing the loan is the same.

Many people find it simpler to refinance a home than to get the loan needed at the time of purchase. This is because refinance transactions typically require less paperwork and documentation as compared to a purchase loan.

Refinance mortgage rates may be higher or lower than rates available on a home purchase.

Click to get today’s interest rates.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER PRIOR TO REFINANCING

Low mortgage rates are an excellent reason to refinance a home; however, for today’s homeowners, there are other considerations as well.

How Much Equity Do You Have In Your Home?

In general, homeowners may find it challenging to refinance without sufficient home equity. In mortgage terms, “sufficient home equity” can be defined as have a loan-to-value on your home of 80 percent or better.

However, there are a number of refinance programs available to homeowners with less than 20% equity. Two popular programs are the VA Streamline Refinance and the FHA Streamline Refinance.

Available to homeowners with existing VA and FHA loans, respectively, these two streamlined refinance plans ignore a homeowner’s home equity percentage and allow refinancing based on recent payment history. Homeowners nearly always qualify for the VA or FHA Streamline Refinance if when they’re current with their loans and the refinance shows benefit.

For homeowners with conventional loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two options exist. The first option is the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) which allows for unlimited loan-to-value; and the 97% LTV program for homeowners with at least three percent equity in their homes.

The 97% mortgage program is available to all homeowners who meet the program criteria; and can be used by homeowners with existing FHA mortgages to “cancel FHA MIP”.

What Is Your Current Interest Rate?

When you can lower your current interest rate, it may be worthwhile to refinance your home.

Lower mortgage rates can mean lower payments but, for many homeowners, the deciding factor in refinancing to lower rates is going to be some variation of “how long it will take recoup your loan closing costs?” For example, if your refinance carries total closing costs of $3,000, and you save $100 monthly with the transaction, the general thinking is that you should not refinance unless you’ll be in your home for at least 30 months.

However, there are other considerations with a refinance including getting “cash out”, and the value of having access to extra money today.

Choosing a lower mortgage rate can be a good reason to refinance — it just shouldn’t be the only reason.

Click to get today’s interest rates.

What Are The Closing Costs To Refinance?

Closing costs are an important consideration when deciding whether to refinance and there are three ways to handle your costs.

The first way to handle your costs is to pay the minimum at closing, in cash or as part of your loan balance. For example, if your closing costs total $2,500, you can opt to bring $2,500 to your closing in the form of a check; or you can add $2,500 to your loan balance.

In both instances, you are paying closing costs from your own money — either as cash or in the form of home equity.

The second way to handle your costs is to elect to pay discount points, which lowers your mortgage rate below “standard” market rates, in cash or as part of your loan balance. 1 discount point costs 1% of your loan size such that a $250,000 loan with 1 point will carry an additional loan fee of $2,500.

In general, paying 1 point will lower your mortgage rate 25 basis points (0.25%). This will result in lower monthly payments and, eventually, you will save more on your payments than you paid in points at your closing. Recouping your discount points could take as few as 12 months or as many as 60.

The third way to handle your closing costs is via a zero-closing cost mortgage. With a zero-closing cost, you willingly accept a slightly higher mortgage rate from your lender in exchange for having all of your loan closing costs paid on your behalf. In general, on a $250,000 loan, a mortgage rate increase of 25 basis points (0.25%) will convert your loan into a zero-closing cost mortgage.

Zero-closing costs mortgages can be sensible for homeowners whom expect to move from their homes in the next few years; or whom expect to refinance within the next 24 months.

For homeowners planning to make their next refinance last 30 years, zero-closing cost loans can be the most expensive route. Mortgage calculators can be a helpful tool to determine which program works best.

Do You Want To “Own Your Home Sooner”

Another consideration for refinancing households is whether you want to extend or reduce the number of years until your mortgage is paid in full.

For homeowners with an existing 30-year mortgage, refinancing to a new 30-year mortgage may yield tremendous monthly savings. However, the new loan will reset your years of indebtedness to thirty. Long-term, you’ll still save money, but you’ll be paying on your loan for more years overall.

Not wanting to “start over” is one reason why the 15-year mortgage is a popular refinance choice. 15-year mortgage offer low mortgage rates and fewer years to repay in full. It should be noted that payments on a 15-year mortgage are higher as compared to 30-year loans, but over the life of the loan, today’s 15-year mortgages save homeowners 65% in mortgage interest costs.

With its huge long-term savings, the 15-year mortgage can be an excellent way to save for homeowners to plan to retirement or to save for college tuition costs.

GET TODAY’S REFINANCE MORTGAGE RATES

Deciding whether to refinance is a personal decision. Consider how long you’ll be in your home, how much you’ll save each month, and how long it will take to recoup your costs. Thankfully, with mortgage rates low, the market is ripe for homeowners to take action.

Click to get started. 


The Road to Mortgage Ready Credit eBooklet

January 19, 2013

by Brian Short

Mortgage Ready Credit coverThe Road to Mortgage Ready Credit with Brian Short – The 22 page booklet carefully explains 1) What is good credit, 2) What is a Credit Score, 3) What improves your credit, and 4) Other Credit Issues which could keep you from qualifying for your upcoming home purchase or refinance loan.  Down load this eBooklet for your use or forward to a friend or loved one who is considering a home purchase or refinance in the coming months.


HUD Proposes Lowering FHA Loan Limits in Middle Tennessee

May 31, 2011

Last Thursday, just before the long Memorial Day weekend marking the beginning of the 2011 summer, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a 23 page proposal outlining loan limit decreases in 669 US counties – 13 of them in Tennessee and all of these located in middle Tennessee. 

Unless Congress prohibits these proposals, beginning October 1, 2011, each of these 13 counties, including Cannon, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Hickman, Macon, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson, Wilson, will see their maximum FHA loan limit decrease $39,200 to a new lower maximum FHA loan limit of $393,300. 

Counties Affected by Possible Decrease in FHA Loan Limits for Loans

The current FHA maximum loan limit in these 13 counties was set at $432,500 in 2008 as a part of the Housing and Economic and Recovery Act during the waning days of the Bush administration in an attempt to stabilize the fragile housing and credit industries. 

This 9% decrease in FHA maximum loan limits in middle Tennessee will affect less than .5% of all of the FHA loans being originated in these middle Tennessee counties.  HUD decision to lower these maximum loan limits is an attempt to ward off the Republican critics in the US House of Representatives who are proposing changes to the FHA mortgage insurance program to limit the expansion of the risk of taxpayer supported programs in hope that private players and investors will re-enter the mortgage industry to replace what the Federal Government discontinues subsidizing.

Last year 32,126 FHA loans were closed in these 13 middle Tennessee counties and the new decrease in loan limits would have affected 138 of those transactions.  The argument could be made that Tennesseans borrowing more than $393,300 to buy or refinance a house would have been able to use other loan programs or that other non-government programs would be developed if FHA would move out of this particular high-end market.  Statistically, these higher-end mortgages have preformed much better than the lower-end mortgages but HUD would argue that these loans are not part of their stated mission to target “lower and middle-income borrowers” when they are using taxpayer money to operate a program insuring home mortgages at more than 150% higher than the Area Median House Price.

What is the expected outcome of such a move if Congress does not block these proposals for home buyers in Tennessee? 

Minimal.  Most first-time home buyers or home buyers with a scarred credit profile are not buying homes $400,000+ homes with only a 3.5% down payment as currently required by HUD for FHA insured loans. 

The initial potential panic caused by news reports of such proposals may cause a handful of buyers to get off the fence to get approved for their high-end FHA insured mortgage in order to beat the October 1, 2011 deadline but because so few Tennesseans will be affected by this proposal, only 138 in 2010, the Tennessee Congressional Delegation would likely not support any legislation thwarting efforts by HUD to continue to solidify the government supported mortgage insurance program – especially if these changes will affect only a few wealthy Tennessee home buyers.


Choosing Your Mortgage Professional

June 20, 2009
By Brian Short, CMC, CRMS, GMA
 
“Shopping for a Mortgage Professional is much like shopping for a medical doctor or an attorney. Choosing your medical or legal care based on “who is the cheapest” may not really be the best strategy. You want you choose a professional who is trained, certified, experienced and has a good reputation.” 
 
Often times, this is my response to those asking for me to give them a detailed list of all their closing costs if they select me and my company to provide the financing for their upcoming home purchase or refinance of their current home.
 
I have heard of real estate industry partners telling their customers that choosing a mortgage professional is as simple as getting a “Good Faith Estimate” and comparing the costs contained on those documents.  This sets up the borrower to work with the “best liar”, too early in the 30-60 day process of finding a home, rather than getting the most professional financing help to get the deal closed correctly.
 
How can this be?  Aren’t all “Good Faith Estimates” accurate?  Aren’t all mortgage professionals the same?  Aren’t all mortgage companies the same? 
The truth is: the numbers on the “Good Faith Estimate” given too early in the process are RARELY CORRECT!  You see, the numbers on that document are affected by one or more of the following 13 variables below:

-> Sales pricegood-faith-estimate

-> Appraised value

-> Loan amount

-> Borrower’s employment status and history

-> Credit scores and payment history

-> Amount and source of down-payment

-> Date of closing

-> Immigration or citizenship status of the borrower

-> The housing type and location (Single family dwelling, Duplex, Condo, Townhouse, PUD, suburban, rural, urban, etc.)

-> The county where the home is located

-> Mortgage Interest Rate

-> The Term (length) of the Loan

-> The Title Company being used to close the loan

I have worked for several mortgage companies during my mortgage career and even owned my own company for 5 years. I know that some “loan guys” will “low-ball” the initial estimate, only to pull out the “surprise” at the closing table when your options for making any changes are very limited.  Of the 21 separate line-item fees on the “Good Faith Estimate” I give to my borrowers when they sign their loan application forms and disclosures, only one of those fees is the same for every loan and is not dependent on any of the variables listed above.

Mortgage interest rates change daily (sometime, even more often!). I could simply print off a “Good Faith Estimate” with made up numbers as some customers request (as other “loan guys” may do) but it will not be accurate because of all of these variables I have mentioned.  That process of collecting “Good Faith Estimates” prior to having all of the above variables identified will very time-consuming and wasted effort by the borrower and “loan guys” passing out worthless forms with inaccurate numbers.

My goal is to take the worry and uncertainty out of the process of originating, processing, underwriting and closing the loan.  I help guide my borrowers through their negotiations with their seller by providing honest numbers as they become available rather than simply making up numbers to get “my hook set”.

I have been in the business for over 11 years and nearly 100% of my business comes from referral and repeat business. A businessman can not build that kind of business by being a con-man, cheating others or participating in the bait-and-switch tactics that have riddled this industry for years.

This helps my my borrowers understand how I have built my business and how I provide a level of confidence and professionalism which will make my borrower’s Real Estate purchase a very smooth and cost effective transaction over the next.

So, you ask, how should I select the Mortgage Professional to close my loan for me?  I’m glad you asked.  Allow me to give you a few guidelines for starters:

1. Choose a Mortgage Professional who is EXPERIENCED.  Was he selling shoes or washing cars last week and then some buddy of his talked him into “trying out the mortgage business”?  Does he really know what he’s doing?  Has he been originating mortgage for 5-10 years?  Does he do this full-time or this just a hobby or part-time gig? 

NAMBCertified2. Choose a Mortgage Professional who is CERTIFIED.  Has proven to anyone that he knows the laws, the process, the programs and theory and mechanics behind the mortgage industry.  Has he taken courses and exams to measure his competency?  Is his certification a national designation? Is his certification from a professional association who can objectively measure and monitor his expertise or from some mail-order outfit looking to make few bucks?

3. Choose a Mortgage Professional with a GOOD REPUTATION.  Is your selection a true professional who is respected and well-known in his industry.  Who knows him and what kind of work he does?  Who has ever closed a loan with him?  Who can speak for his level of trustworthiness, honesty and attention to detail?  What do you know of his character and personality?

4. Choose a Mortgage Professional who is a PROFESSIONAL.  Does your choice know the market, the industry, the community, the history, the trends and your desires?  Is he a member of his professional association?  Has he been awarded and recognized by his peers and fellow business associates for his contribution to the industry and community?

During the month that your loan is supposed to close it is the most important transaction in your Mortgage Professional’s office.  “Getting it cheap” doesn’t mean much when your “loan guy” drops the ball and makes a mess of the whole deal simply because  he has “never seen anything like this before.”  That stack of bogus “Good Faith Estimates” collected 30-60 days prior to your closing will mean very little when you find out that returning phone calls, diligently following up on underwriting conditions, and working long hours to insure that all of the bases are covered on your deal are not his priority or part of his work ethic.

Paper is cheap, and ink toner to print fictitious loan estimates is even cheaper.  Experience, Certification, a Good Reputation and Professionalism are priceless life-long attributes and qualities you want in your Mortgage Professional.  Leave the spreading of such worthless papers to those lying, low-balling, bait-n-switching, short-termers who do not deserve to work with someone like you who, understandably, expect it to get done right the first time.