Ask Val

May 9, 2011

STRUCTURES, INC. ~ Remodeling Specialist

In light of all the storms in our surrounding areas I thought it would be great to feature information on home remodeling or renovations.  Birmingham is rich in experienced contractors eager not only to get your home “livable” again, but the showcase you want it to be.

If you have had damage to your home, trust your work to an industry professional who  lives in  the community which they work and who will be looking “eye to eye” with you for years to come. 

Erica Neel, Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders (GBAHB), is Remodelers Chairman.  Erica’s company is Structures, Inc. and you can reach them at 205-663-4252.  Erica has passion about her work and this evidenced in one of the articles I read in GBAHB Remodel Birmingham.  I remember when Erica was born, now she is having a baby of her own…

“The upcoming birth of my first child has made me reflect on my childhood.  I think of all the traditions that were established and where they took place.  Like many of you, I can visualize the small details of the rooms I inhabited as a child.  I can picture the butcher block formica countertops with the harvest gold appliances in my first home.  I can also remember the sunken den and how the shag carpet felt on my feet.  In my second home, I remember the beautiful oak cabinetry in the kitchen and the arched double door at the entry.  These memories are intertwined with the holidays, family gatherings, and the daily life we led in our home.

So often we forget about how important our homes are to us.  Many times we think about the maintenance or the housework we have to do to keep them up, but we must also remember that our surroundings in our home make us feel certain emotions.  We all want to live somewhere that is pleasing to us whether that be with carpeted or hardwood floors, stained or painted cabinetry, or with brick or siding on our house.  Our homes are an extension of our personality and taste and serve an integral part in our daily lives.  We need to love them.”

Spoken by a true industry professional, “I want to assure you that my industry has many qualified professionals who are able to transform your current home into a remodeled masterpiece or create a perfect custom home from scratch.  Now is the time to act.  Interest rates are at an all time low, but are steadily rising.  Labor prices are at record low levels.  We understand that in these challenging economic times, we must spend our money wisely.  That time is now.  Let’s make memories together.”

Yours to Count On,

Valerie Springer

205-995-7283 x 305

 

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April 4, 2011

Three Major Credit Reporting Bureaus

When applying for a mortgage whether it be for purchase or refinance a tri-merge credit report is pulled for an evaluation of the clients current and past credit history.

The three bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Depending on the creditor they many report to one or all bureaus.  Credit scores can vary between agencies so to qualify for financing I will work off your middle credit score to determine your rate.

It is a great idea to get a credit analysis at least once a year.  In doing so you can keep on top of your credit report and quickly take care of any discrepancies.

The bureau information is as follows:

Experian Consumer Relations, 888-397-3742,  P O Box 2002, Allen, TX  75013  www.experian.com

Equifax Consumer Relations, 800-685-1111, P O Box 740241, Atlanta, GA  30374-0193 www.equifax.com

TransUnion Consumer Relations, 800-888-4213, P O Box 1000, Chester, PA  19022 www.transunion.com

The above addresses would be where disputes are mailed to the individual bureau.  I suggest dispute be sent certified mail return receipt requested.  Credit bureau has 30 days to investigate and then derogatory is either confirmed or removed.

If you need a free credit analysis in the Birmingham, AL area, please contact Valerie Springer .  I would be honored to help you with your financing needs.

Yours to Count On,

Valerie Springer

February 2, 2011

Shopping for Mortgage Rate & Closing Costs ~ Properly

Selecting a residential loan officer and banker may be the most important financial decision you will ever make.    Most mortgages are made for large sums of money.  This is something you think about only a few times in your life but I think about it every single day.

When most people think about “shopping”  to find the best rate, they will get on the phone and over the course of a few days call several different mortgage companies and ask “What is your rate and how much is your closing costs?”

May sound like a smart question to the consumer but to the  industry professional is one of the most “gullible” questions that can be asked.  You have immediately let the person on the other end of the phone know you are trying to play in the Major League and your athletic ability is keeping you in Dixie Youth.  

The first question a consumer should ask is, “What moves rates?”  If the loan officer cannot answer that question then you are talking to someone who is only trained to take your information and put you into the same mold as every other consumer.  At this point I would ask myself.. .

How can my loan officer guide me on the best time to lock my rate due to market conditions? 

How can I trust they really know what they are doing? 

Do I just take what they quoted me over the phone? 

How do I know they quoted me the best rate, is it because the other guy said his rate was higher? 

Is that really all there is to it? 

WOW, could these few questions have stopped the whole industry breakdown…That was easy! 

REALLY???  Could you possibly believe you received the best on any account? 

Interest rates move all throughout the day, sometimes we will have a reprice up to 3-4 times daily,  in volatile markets.  The only way a consumer can know for sure they are getting the best rate is to get a quote at the exact same time from multiple lenders and then the voice on the other end of the phone can tell you anything they think you want to hear because the rate is not locked until the rate is locked.   Ever heard of bait and switch?  If you are going to shop you better be ready to do a lot of leg work.

Closing costs, fees and discount points is another area of confusion to the consumer. 

To fully understand closing costs,most would need to sit down with three  good faith estimates and compare them line for line with a knowledgable loan officer or real estate attorney to explain which fees will not change on any of the three, and point out the rest  of the fees are three different opinions and the bottom line is the bottom line no matter who does the financing.

The fees in the 800’s section will not change, every other fee listed is an estimate, someone’s opinion.  Some lenders will estimate low to make sure the bottom line number reflects a greater savings.  Personally I over estimate everything because if you are happy with worse case scenario you will be thrilled the day we sit at the closing table. 

I will be with you at the closing table to make sure everything is as it should be and if you have a surprise it will be a positive one.  I have never had a client leave the closing table mad or upset with me or my estimates.  Most are very pleasantly surprised to pay less than they were prepared to spend. 

Over the last 10 years I have had a few clients who left to go to another lender because they “thought” they were getting less closing costs.  Some have even called me back after closing and apologized as their closing costs wound up being the same or more than what I had originally prepared.  These have been some of my best referral sources over the years and have come to  me for subsequent refinances and purchases.

There is much to do in today’s market to do a pre-approval on someone.  Money spent to pull a credit report and hours of paperwork and phone conversations.  Many in our industry are 100% commission so please ask these questions up front and find trust in someone before the work is done.

On one of your largest financial transactions ever, are you looking for bargain basement and all that implies or integrity, knowledge and service? 

If you need a residential mortgage in Alabama, Valerie Springer is waiting for your call.

205-995-7283 x 305

NO ONE CARES HOW MUCH YOU KNOW UNTIL THEY KNOW HOW MUCH YOU CARE

Yours to Count On,

Valerie Springer

 

 

December 3, 2010

Downpayment on Home ~ Gift Funds Allowed

Filed under: ASK VAL,Conventional Mortgage,Dear Val,Family,FHA Loan,Gift Funds — Valerie Springer @ 3:54 pm
Tags:

Question:  I don’t have enough money for a down-payment, but my Grandmother would like to gift me some money to help…can she do that?

Answer:  Yes she can but we must go through the proper transfer to make the transaction go smooth.

Gift Funds are an allowable source for downpayment money on the purchase of a home.  This money can come from a grandparent, parent, sibling, spouse, fiance’, future in-law or godparent.

The gifter along with purchaser would sign a gift letter stating the money is a gift and no repayment is expected.  Then, the gifter would also have to provide a bank statement, all pages, with proof they have the money to give.

Next step,  once the check has been deposited into the purchaser’s account we would need a copy of the cancelled earnest money check from the gifter and an updated printout of the purchaser’s bank account showing the money is there.   Remember, if a bank printout, bank must put the banking stamp and intials on each page to prove it is authentic.

Really a very easy process but make sure you speak with your loan officer before moving funds around from one account to another.  It will save much time and paperwork!

If you need an approval for home purchase or refinance, Valerie Springer is waiting for your call.

Yours to Count On,

Valerie Springer

 

December 2, 2010

Shopping for Mortgage — What is your Interest Rate?

Filed under: ASK VAL,Conventional Mortgage,Credit,Dear Val,FHA Loan,HECM,Reverse Mortgage — Valerie Springer @ 4:49 pm

 My phone is ringing, I answer and on the other end I hear…”I am thinking about purchasing a home or refinancing my home and I would like to know what your current interest rate is?”

The above question is peep-hole sized compared to the whole room of information that is needed to quote someone an interest rate.  Many will throw out a number just to get you roped in but would never be able to follow through with the rate when the chips are on the table.

An interest rate is made made up of many components and depends on a number of factors:

*Loan to Value

*Loan Amount

*Occupancy Type

*Loan Purpose

*Loan Limits

*Credit Score

*Qualifying Ratios

*Loan Product

*Electronic Approval Level

Many consumers feel like they are using wisdom by calling several companies and asking for rates but truthfully the most honest may never get a shot at the financing because the average borrower doesn’t know how to shop for interest rates nor do they understand what drives rates.  Therefore the one selling a line of deceit may seem to be the best.

If you are searching for a knowledgable loan officer the first question you should ask is “Do you what moves interest rates?”  If they cannot answer, you need to move on.  If they do answer do you know the correct answer? 

The second question “What information do you need from me so you can give me an idea of what loan type would be best for my situation”?

Third, “With the given information, what product do you think would best suit me, rate etc…and why”? (Remember you must do all of these on the same day at the same time because rates move all day long.)

If you call two or three people and do it right, you will have gained a wealth of knowledge by the time you hang up and will also have a “gut” feeling on which loan officer would work best with you and for you.  The lowest rate doesn’t always mean the best so weigh all of your options.

If you have questions, I would be glad to answer.  The present time is a golden opportunity to refinance your home to a lower interest rate or to purchase a home, second home or even an investment property.  Many will not realize until it is too late this is a “once in a lifetime” chance to make a wise financial decision.

If you are seeking residential financing int he Greater Birmingham AL area, Valerie Springer is ready to meet your financial needs.

Yours to Count On,

Valerie  Springer

www.vshomeloans.com

 

September 10, 2010

Inducements to Purchase

In the real estate world today there are many inducements to purchase a home.  Recently I read where a builder in Downtown Birmingham, AL  will give you free tuition if you purchase a loft condominium. 

Sounds like a great reason to purchase one of these properties if you are young and working toward your education.  BUT…

Guidelines on personal property inducements state the following:

IF  the personal property is a car, boat, riding lawn mower, furniture, television etc…THEN the value of the item(s) must be deducted from the sales price of the property value before applying the loan to value factor.

HOWEVER a range, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer, dryer, carpeting, window treatment or other items determined appropriate by the Homeownership Center (HOC) may be considered customary and affect the value of the property before applying the loan to value factor.

The exception is replacement of existing equipment or other realty items by the seller before closing, such as “flooring”, air conditioners, appliances does not require a value adjustment provided a cash allowance is NOT given to the borrower.

Depending on local custom or law, certain items may be considered part of the real estate transaction with no adjustment to the sales price or appraised value. 

A seller can offer anything to close the deal but whether the lender will allow is may all together be a different story! 

Yours to Count On,

Valerie Springer

August 17, 2010

Appraisals and Housing Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC)

Housing Valuation Code of Conduct

 

Sometimes I wonder what our government was thinking when a group of lawmakers, (NY) decided it was in the best interest of consumers to have a third party requesting the most important piece of the puzzle in a refinance or purchase.   

An appraisal is an opinion of a property’s value.  Just like in any profession there are good and bad.  To utilize the best opinions it needs to be an appraiser who is familiar with the area and transactions taking place.   

In today’s market, we order an appraisal with a company who then gets in touch with the  appraiser.    

As a loan officer we do not have knowledge of the appraiser until we receive the finished product.  If there are any questions they are filtered back through the appraisal management company.   

For purchases, not so much negative, but for refinances it is a toss up as to the amount of work appraiser puts in to get the true value of the home.  I have been told sometimes can vary as much as $30k depending on comparables used.   

Thankfully, I have only had one appraisal that was disasterous and that appraiser has been removed from the the appraisal management company’s list.   While most appraisers take great pride in their work there are always those bad apples floating around in the barrel.   

I hope this trial will be one that is deemed unreasonable for all parties involved.  Ask the appraiser how they would rather work???   

If you have a comment or opinion, please share.   

Yours to Count On,   

Valerie Springer

August 12, 2010

Closing a Residential Mortgage, What do I Need to Bring?

By now most everything has been completed and if everyone did their jobs correctly the closing should be smooth and easy!    I will give a checklist for the purchaser and seller to make sure you arrive with everything you will need.

The borrower will need to bring the following:

Certified Funds–By law the closing attorney can accept a maximum of $5k in certified funds but check with the law firm, some may accept less.  The certified funds can be made payable to the firm or borrower and endorsed to the closing attorney firm.  Borrowers should also bring checkbook in the event additional funds are needed.  There could be last minute changes to the HUD Settlement Statement.

Picture ID–Closing attorney will need a picture identification from each borrower at closing.  Driver’s license and passport are acceptable but must not be expired.

Funding Conditions–Any closing conditions required by the lender such as an additional pay stub or proof of gift funds etc…Your lender would let you know this in advance.

The Seller needs to bring the following:

Picture ID–Once again driver’s license or passport are acceptable.

Power of Attorney–Usually a power of attorney for the seller does not require a lender approval.

House keys and garage door openers or any other gadget devices.

Other documents–Original termite letter, septic inspections, repair receipts, and make sure you or realtor have provided the closing attorney with payoff a few days in advance.

In attendance will be the borrower’s, seller’s, realtor for purchaser and seller, mortgage loan originator (not always, but I will be there) and the settlement agent or attorney.

During closing the lender’s conditions will be cleared first and then the closing statement of HUD 1 Settlement Statement is explained and discussed.  Next would be warranty deed and other conveyance documents signed by the seller, financing documents signed by the borrower.  Once everything is completed the signed documents are sent to the lender and after review they will wire funds and they will be disbursed.  This could take about 45 minutes.  This is a good time for realtor documents to be signed or updated if anything was missing.  Keys to the house are handed from the seller to buyer and phone numbers are exchanged, especially if purchaser is not taking possession immediately.

Purchaser needs to go to the tax assessor’s office and file homestead exemption immediately while it is fresh.  Taxes could double if deadline is not met.

I look forward to seeing you at the closing table!  If you need financing advice Valerie Springer is here to help with all of your needs! 

Yours to Count On,

Valerie Springer  nmls 198479

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