Ask Val

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



November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

Filed under: ASK VAL — Valerie Springer @ 9:56 pm

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  A time to gather with family and friends.  This year is a little different as we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house on Wednesday evening for my family and friends and on Thursday lunch for Mick’s family.

It is my time to accept the torch and take some of the hard work and stress off my Mother.  She has hosted all of our family functions for years and basically did all of the cooking as well.  While it was nice to show up and eat a fabulous meal, it will be no more for me.  Instead, Mother will be able to walk into my house and sit and enjoy the meal, “dressed to the nine’s” and looking like the queen matriarch.

We are so excited to have our home blessed with the warmth and laughter this holiday brings.  Autumn smells, crisp air, fabulous food, shopping and football!

This year I am giving thanks first, my relationship with the Lord, second is my precious family, third my career and the ability to make a positive difference in the lives of others almost on a daily basis. 

May you all have a Happy Thanks-Giving and Count Your Blessings!



November 19, 2010

50 Years of Wedded Bliss for Lawrence and Linda Barnett

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Springer @ 9:37 pm
Lawrence and Linda Barnett's Wedding Day

Today, we start our new lives together

I DO!  I often wonder when I attend a wedding if the couple taking their vows really know how important those two words are when spoken?  In most situations I think probably not.  I do believe it takes years of learning and actually experiencing the ups and downs, sickness and health, richer and poorer before we can truthfully say, “I  DO” and mean it.

November 7 is a special day for my family.  Not only did my parents celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary,  my Grandparents, Jack and Cora Holcombe, would have celebrated their 74th Wedding Anniversary and my husband Mick and I celebrated our 29th year of marriage. 

Three generations of ladies who all chose to marry on the same special day.  Tradition is an important way of life for me.  Call me old fashioned but it has worked throughout the years.  My daughter Ashlee, plans to one day share the same wedding date with us but she is currently preparing for her prince charming’s arrival.

On November 7, 2010, Mick and I along with my brother  and his wife, Mark and Sharee Barnett, hosted a tea honoring my parents.  My house was glowing with family and friends, great food and lots of laughter.  We had around 130 guests and were thrilled to share this special occasion with so many.

I am not sure at what point the tables turn and we begin to be proud of our parents, but that time has arrived for me.  Maybe we have to go through those better or worse, sickness and health, richer and poorer days to appreciate the hard work it takes to make a marriage work and remain in-love with someone for 50 years.


Congratulations and I am so thankful you two are my parents!

Happy Anniversary


October 21, 2010

Bankruptcy and Foreclosure With FHA

In today’s market, I receive many phone calls from people who have either had to file bankruptcy or had a foreclosure.  These come from all walks of life…those who made unwise financial decisions to those who are in this position through no fault of their own.  Either way, folks are hungry for guidance and information.

In this post I am going to talk about FHA guidelines and what they have to say about the two big NO-NO’s.

As far as Foreclosure, a borrower in most circumstances is not eligible for three years after principal residence or other real property was foreclosed or deed-in-lieu was given.  However, the lender may grant an exception to the 3 year period if the foreclosure was the result of documented extenuating circumstance beyond the control of the borrower.  This could include a serious illness or death of a wage earner, and the borrower has established good credit since the foreclosure.  Divorce is not considered an extenuating circumstance BUT if a borrower whose loan was current at the time of a divorce in which the ex-spouse received the property and the loan was later foreclosed does qualify as an exception.  The inability to sell a property due to a job transfer or relocation to another area does not qualify as an extenuating circumstance.

Now to address bankruptcy, if at least two years have passed since the date of discharge (Chapter 7) and the borrower has reestablished good credit or chosen not to incur new debt, in most situations would qualify for FHA insured mortgage.  Possibly less than two years but not less than 12 months may be approved if the borrower can show the BK was caused by extenuating circumstances beyond his/her control and has since shown a documented ability to manage their financial affairs in a responsible manner.  The lender must document that the borrower’s current situation indicates that the events that led to the bankruptcy are not likely to recur.

(Chapter 13) is a little different since this is a BK overtime.  If the lender can document that one year of payout under the bk has elapsed and payment performance has been satisfactory and all payments have been made on time, then the borrower may be eligible.  The borrower MUST have written permission from the courts to enter into this transaction.  We must be able to show two years from the discharge date of  Chapter 13 BK.  If the Chapter 13 BK has not been discharged for a minimum of 2 years, the loan must be downgraded to a manual underwrite.

If you need a home mortgage financing, Valerie Springer is your expert loan officer.

Yours to Count On,

Valerie Springer

September 23, 2010

Mother, No Other Name So Sweet

Filed under: ASK VAL,Dear Val,Family — Valerie Springer @ 9:16 pm

On September 26, 1940, a very special little girl was born to Jack and Cora Lee Holcombe.

Linda Holcombe Barnett

Through the years she has carried many names.  A few that come to mind, Daughter, Sister, Wife, Niece, Aunt, Cousin, Sister-in-Law, Room/Team Mother, Friend, Mother-in-Law, Caretaker, Honey (to her grandchildren) but the sweetest name to me is Mother.

For most of my life I thought everyone had a Mother like mine.  Why would I think differently, it was all I had ever known?  My Mother worked during a time when it was not popular for women to have jobs.  It wasn’t easy juggling a career and family life but somehow she managed to do it, and do it well.

I remember when I started first grade, crying everyday because I missed her so much.  I remember how much fun we had on weekends going to the movies, skating, to a play, concerts, bowling, out to eat at a nice restaurant, swimming, horse-back riding and driving the car way before I was old enough for a driver’s license.

I remember going on a field trip to Oak Mountain and losing my money before we ever left.  I called Mother in tears and she left work and headed to the school with two safety pins, 2 five dollars bills and a big smile on her face.  She took me to the restroom and pinned $5 inside each side of my bra!  No scolding or words that made me feel bad, only encouraging me not to worry and have a great day.

I remember coming in too late at night when Mick and I had broken up…waking her at 2 am with tears streaming down my cheeks because I couldn’t find him.  She just hopped out of bed got dressed and together we went driving all over the place looking for him.  Daddy probably wasn’t very happy and thought I was a drama queen, but Mother was always by my side. 🙂

We had the most wonderful time planning my wedding.  You see, I wore my Mother’s wedding dress and she had let me try it on ever so often since I was a little girl.    This made the real event even more special.   And, one other thing, my sweet Grandmother was my matron of honor.  Did I also forget to tell you we were all married on November 7?

The next great event was the day I had my sweet little Ashlee.  Again, Mother was right there and when Mick arrived at the hospital they made Mother leave the room, but I knew she was just on the other side of those doors.  She stayed with me the night Ashlee was born.  After everyone had left, I called for them to bring my baby. (Very different then)  I had barely gotten to see her.  Sometime shortly after her arrival in my room, I fell asleep.  I woke the next morning and Mother was still sitting in that same chair holding that same sweet baby with the most beautiful smile on her face.

I could go on  and on, but my emotions will not allow that today.  I think you get the picture and understand why I know “Mother” is the sweetest name.

Happy Birthday and I am so proud my first blessing was you!  Originally written September 23, 2010, reposted May 8, 2011.  Happy Mother’s Day!



September 17, 2010

Reverse Mortgage, Is It Smart?

Filed under: Elder Law,Estate Planning,FHA Loan,HECM,Reverse Mortgage — Valerie Springer @ 6:50 pm

There are 5 key points to think about when you decide a  HECM Reverse Mortgage may be your best option. Most important find an expert loan officer willing to help you make a determination.

1. Why do you feel a reverse mortgage would benefit you? If you are thinking of taking a vacation or reinvesting the money it would be very costly. If someone is trying to sell you something and suggests you take out a reverse mortgage you should be very cautious of their intent.

2. Can you even afford a reverse mortgage? A reverse mortgage is very expense, You do not make monthly payments but interest will accrue on the loan every month. The younger you are when you take out a reverse mortgage (min age 62) the longer the interest will grow which in essence will increase the amount you owe.

3. Can you afford to use your home’s equity? If you are not facing a financial emergency you may consider another option.

4. Do you have other options? If you have the means to take out a home mortgage and make the monthly payments this would be a less costly option than a reverse mortgage. Have you thought of downsizing and selling your current home to buy one with lower costs or in an area that offers more services?

5. Do you understand how a reverse mortgage works? You need to find out up front if this could benefit you or if there is a better option. You must complete couseling and receive a certificate to move forward. Your HECM Reverse Mortgage Loan Officer can give you the names of counseling agencies in your area.

A reverse mortgage can be the best thing since sliced bread if you understand and limited income. It gives you the opportunity to use your home’s equity while you need it. It can help supplement an income, help with medical expenses or long term care. You can make repairs on your home or purchase a vehicle and not worry about adding high debt to your monthly budget. The money is yours to spend as you wish but wisdom is important.

If you are interested in a HECM Reverse Mortgage in Alabama, call Valerie Springer .  205-995-7283 x 305

Reverse Mortgage Benefits

Filed under: ASK VAL,Elder Law,Estate Planning,FHA Loan,HECM,Reverse Mortgage — Valerie Springer @ 6:46 pm

Until the HECM Reverse Mortgage was introduced the only 2 ways you could use the equity in your home was to sell the home and move out or take out a loan which required monthly payments. If you own your home (or have lots of equity) and the youngest person living in the home is 62 years of age you are most likely eligible.

With the “Reverse” mortgage you do not have to do either of the above. A reverse mortgage is a loan which allows you to take the equity out of your home while continuing to live in it. You most likely never have to make a payment back until you die, sell the home or permanently move out.

You may receive the money in a lump sum, regular monthly cash advance or a creditline that allows withdrawals when needed. Your income levels do not matter because you do not have to make a payment back. If you had no income and owned your home you could still qualify.

Even though you receive a “Reverse” mortgage, you still own your home, so the homeowner will still be responsible for property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and routine upkeep of the home. Once neither of the homeowners live in the house as their primary residence the heirs may then sell the home and repay the lien. If there is money left it is given to the estate.

More to come on Reverse Mortgages. If you have any specific questions you would like Valerie Springer to discuss please contact me at

Reverse Mortgage & HECM

Filed under: ASK VAL,Elder Law,Estate Planning,FHA Loan,HECM,Reverse Mortgage — Valerie Springer @ 6:45 pm

REVERSE MORTGAGES (HECM) and What This Means THE HOME EQUITY CONVERSION MORTGAGE (HECM) is the ONLY reverse mortgage that is insured by the federal government. HECM loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). FHA is governed by US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). FHA tells HECM lenders how much to lend based on age and the value of home. The HECM program limits loan costs and FHA insures the lender will meet their responsibilities.

HECM usually give the largest payout of any reverse mortgage as well as more choices on how the money is paid and most importantly you can use the money for any purpose. Reverse Mortgages can be costly but HECM’s are generally less expensive than those that are privately insured. Privately insured reverse mortgages may have lower fees but are usually higher in interest rate. Overall, HECM’s are likely to be less expensive in the long run.

The state and local government sometimes offer reverse mortgages which cost the least but they are most always used for one specific purpose such as to pay your taxes or make a certain repair. Also mostly available to low to medium income.

HECM’s are available all over the United States. A few key factors:

* Youngest owner must be 62 or older, live in home as primary residence and not be delinquent on federal debt.

* Home must be a single-family residence in a 1-4 unit dwelling or part of a planned unit development (PUD) or a HUD approved condo. Some manufactured homes are eligible but most mobile homes are not.

* Home must meet HUD’s property standards but you have the option of using the HECM to pay for repairs that could be required.

* All homeowner’s wishing to seek a HECM must attend counseling from a HUD-approved counseling agency. Loan officer can provide a list of counselors and borrower’s must present an original certificate before loan can be approved.

For answers to your questions, contact your Reverse Mortgage Expert in Alabama, Valerie Springer.

Yours to Count On,

Valerie Springer

Veterans, Spouses and Widow(er)s

My parents are in the process of completing Estate Planning and Asset Protection.  I have learned so much over the past few years with my Grandfather in the nursing home and the loss of another family.

Both wills had to be probated and while my family members thought they had planned well, we realized there was so much available we missed out on.

For instance. My Grandfather was a Veteran of World War II and would have qualified for Veterans Benefits.  He survived the great depression, worked hard all of his life and made wise financial decisions only to find out his money and assets would cause him to be a “private pay” patient at the nursing home. Lots of money going out monthly, nothing coming in.

He was told he did not qualify for VA benefits due to his income. This is not true. He and my Grandmother could have possibly received $1949 per month from the time they were in their mid to late 60’s. My Grandmother died at age 87 and my Grandfather died at age 93.

This money would have helped defer the costs of private sitters so they could remain in their home as long as possible. It would have also been a great help for assisted living and then nursing home expenses. I want to share this with you in hopes your Veteran or Veteran’s Spouse does not miss out on one of the few benefits available for their unselfish sacrifice to our freedom.

A Veteran or Veteran’s Surviving Spouse may be eligible for the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit to help pay for Home Health Care, Assisted Living Facility Care or Nursing Home Care.

Even if you have been told that you are not eligible due to income or asset limitations, there may be strategies to assist you in qualifying for this benefit.

Who is Eligible?

* The Veteran and The Veteran’s Surviving Spouse

An Eligible Veteran:

*Served 90 days or more active duty, with at least 1 day during a time of war

*Discharged from service, with no less than an honorable discharge

Periods of War:

*World War II December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946

*Vietname Era August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975/February 28, 1961 – August 4, 1964 (in Republic of Vietnam)

*Korea June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955

*Persian Gulf August 2, 1990 through date to be prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law

This little known benefit may pay as much as:

Married Veteran (Veteran + Spouse): $1949 per month tax free

Single Veteran $1644 per month tax free

Surviving Spouse $1,056 per month tax free

If you, a relative or friend needs more information about this valuable benefit, contact Valerie Springer. I will be happy to provide you more information. Hoping to spread the word.

Don’t trust a friend, CPA or general attorney for this information. You need to see an attorney who practices Elder Law. I will be happy to refer you, I work with some of the best in the business.

Also, I am an expert in  HECM Reverse Mortgage. It is not for everyone but for some, it is absolutely a life saver.

If you are searching for more information on the above topics please contact Valerie Springer .

Yours to Count On,

Valerie Springer

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

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