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Buying a Second Home

November 9th, 2010

Unless you have no access to radio, TV, newspapers or the internet, you are aware of the difficulties the housing market is experiencing. Evictions, foreclosures, and people just driving away in the middle of the night are stories you hear every day. In this bleak time, though, there is also opportunity.

Many people have been planning and dreaming for years to own a second home. A growing number of baby boomers are retiring, and that means more people entering the "snow bird" category - living in the Northeast or Midwest during the warm weather, then becoming a snow bird in the winter when they head to Florida or Arizona. Some seek solitude in a weekend get-away home. Still others are looking for a place to vacation, then rent the house for income the other months of the year - with the intent to someday retire there. Do you fall into one of these categories? 

Now is the perfect buyer's market. Many locations are experiencing more than a 30% decrease in home values.

Purchasing a second home can be a great investment, but it's more difficult than a first-home purchase. It's best to have your first home paid off, or very close to being so. It is not uncommon to pay higher interest rates or to be required to make a larger down payment with a second home mortgage. All of these issues make it extremely important to work with a professional mortgage broker.


Pursue your dream.


Two points - and we're not talking basketball

November 2nd, 2010

When you're preparing to purchase a house or refinance your current mortgage, you'll hear the term "points". This is a term that describes charges that you'll pay to the lender. There are two different types of points - origination points and discount points. 

Origination points are strictly an expense to obtain a loan to cover the lender's expenses. There is no benefit for the borrower, plus these charges are not tax deductible. Therefore, it is in your interest, as a borrower, to locate a lender - or a specific loan - where there is no charge for origination points.

On the other hand, discount points are paid to obtain a loan at a lower interest rate. Best described as pre-paid interest, it is equal to 1% of the total principal amount of the loan. If you're borrowing $150,000, each point will cost you $1500. Each point purchased will lower your interest rate. Either the buyer or the seller can pay the points, and it is not uncommon to share or split this fee. These dollars are tax deductible as home mortgage interest if itemized on Schedule A of your Form 1040.

So how do you decide whether to purchase points? How long you plan to remain in this house is a key issue, because you'll need to figure if the savings in interest will offset the up-front payment.

A professional mortgage lender who has your best interest in mind will help you with the calculations and guide you in the right direction. 


No Tax Deduction for Mortgage Interest?

October 26th, 2010

In 2007, 36 million taxpayers claimed the mortgage interest tax deduction. This is one of the biggest - if not THE biggest - deductions the average American can claim. The thought of losing this option is unthinkable to many of us, but Steve Kerch made provided some interesting information on MarketWatch that might just support such a move.

He states that there is little evidence that the deduction encourages homeownership, which has been a goal since the end of World War II. Statistics show that 36 million people use the deduction, and that equates to just 23% of all taxpayers (a huge minority).

So, will we see this change in our taxes soon? Kerch doesn't think so. He said, that "the only way the mortgage-interest deduction will ever seriously be in play would be as a part of a complete overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

I'm guessing that will be a long way off, if ever.


Refinance and Modification - What's the Difference?

October 19th, 2010

We all are hearing about home loan modifications and refinancing as opportunities for those who are struggling financially to stay in their homes. So, what's the difference between the two? Here are the basics, but before you decide, talk to a trusted mortgage broker so you know you're making the right decision.

Refinancing basically means that you pay off your current mortgage with a new mortgage that has better rates, payments and terms. You will have title, escrow and appraiser fees as well as taxes to pay with a refinance. Normally you are required to have equity in your home, a good credit score and proof of income.

Home Loan Modification is the process of changing the terms of a mortgage to a more affordable monthly payment, and a good credit score is not required. Often a lender will choose to modify the loan instead of foreclosing. With a modification, you have to show proof that your current loan creates financial difficulty. For those who have lost their job or have any other financial hardship, modification may be a good solution.

Which option is best? It depends on your situation. Understanding the pros and cons of each will help you decide. Just remember, there are a variety of options to help you stay out of foreclosure.


Why Trust and Reputation Matter

October 12th, 2010

Everyone is aware of all the negativity that's in the news regarding the mortgage industry. Just a few examples:

Because of this, now - more than ever - it is important to work with someone you trust when you need a mortgage broker. Grandview Lending, and myself personally, have worked diligently and professionally to earn your trust and confidence. Not in the practice of tooting my own horn, I believe it is important to let you know how our customers feel. Some emails and feedback we've received:

  • "If more people who claim to be mortgage experts were like Mike and his team, there would be significantly fewer frustrations in this process."
  • "I will be happy to direct potential future customers to your company."
  • "It was wonderful working with such a professional, knowledgeable, and virtuous person. Of course we will tell everyone about your great service."
  • "I can't imagine using another lender - ever!"

I could go on, but you can read more on the Grandview Lending website. The point is, when you're ready for your first or next mortgage, be sure to work with someone who has earned that honor.


Is Your Credit Report Information Accurate?

October 5th, 2010

Are you considering buying a new house? Do you know if the information on your credit report is accurate? 

Knowing what's in your report - and correcting/removing any inaccurate information - will benefit you when you apply for your loan. Your credit score weighs heavily with lending institutions when they determine if or how much you will be eligible to borrow. It's not uncommon for one or all of the three - Experian, Equifax and TransUnion - to have items that need to be removed or corrected.

In addition to cleaning up your credit report prior to applying for a loan, you'll also want to continue to monitor your report. This will enable you to immediately catch and fix new, inaccurate information, as well as be aware of any possible fraud. 

To learn how to contact the credit bureaus, visit the Credit Basics section of our website.


Is now the right time to refinance?

September 28th, 2010

The economy has caused interest rates to be extremely low. There are so many opportunities to buy "more" of a house than you could previously afford. Or buy the house you want for a lot less. Another opportunity is to build that dream home, as builders are also offering great opportunities. 

And then, of course, there is always the option to stay where you are and refinance for a lower payment. Or, refinance for a shorter loan period, possibly cutting your 30-year mortgage down to 20 years or even 15 years. Or, after reviewing everything, you might find it is best to stay where you are and do nothing with your mortgage.

There are numerous options, and each circumstance is different for everyone. So how do you know what to do? A good place to start is to consider your particular needs and wants; then you'll have some numbers to discuss with a professional mortgage broker. We have mortgage calculators that can provide answers to many of your questions. We invite you to plug in some numbers, consider what you'd like to do, and then you'll have a better idea of the best options to consider. 

Grandview lending is here to help you sort through your options and guide you to the best answer for your situation.


Peace of Mind in Your New Home

September 21st, 2010

It's a great feeling when moving into a new home. Whether it's newly built, or new to you, owning another - or your first - home is exciting! We at Grandview Lending completely enjoy sharing these times with you and are pleased with the great feedback we receive about the smooth and professional process we provide. 

When moving into a new house, often new furniture, appliances and decorative items are purchased. We'd like to encourage you create an inventory of your belongings. 

Why? You know you have proper insurance coverage on the house itself, as the value is determined. But what about the contents – the items that might be stolen or destroyed by fire or natural disaster? Do you have high-end clothing, a lot of jewelry and/or collectibles? Are your furniture pieces high-dollar, name brand items? If so, you might not have enough insurance because the personal property coverage is based on a percentage of the house value. So, how do you know? A list of your belonings will supply that answer.

You’re probably thinking, “But I have insurance, so why do I need to have this information?” If you have to file an insurance claim, even though you have insurance, you will be required to list each item in your home, when you purchased it and what it cost. That’s a daunting task! Try it … list everything in your garage without looking. Hand tools, power tools, lawn and garden equipment, toys, sports equipment, possibly even a compressor, power washer, ladders - the list goes on. Do you know the manufacturer and model numbers of the tools and lawn equipment? It’s overwhelming thinking of doing that for the entire house; can you image pulling this information together when under the stress and emotion caused by the situation that created the need to file a claim?

A record of all that you own (photographs and written report), prepared now, will help you remember and prove value. If you don’t want to create your own inventory, Hartman Inventory will complete that task for you. They will also help you identify items that should be appraised or covered on a rider. All of this will ensure you’re properly insured, and will be able to recover if you have a disaster. 

The right mortgage, the proper insurance coverage and a thorough inventory. Ahhh…now you can sit back, feet up, and enjoy peace of mind.


Will That Be Debit or Credit?

September 14th, 2010

The current economy has encouraged entrepreneur Jack Loop from New Canaan, Connecticut, to re-introduce his innovative "HomeCard" idea. 

The card was introduced in 1995 without much success, and he has made several attempts since then. Unfortunately, each has been unsuccessful. Loop is hoping that the result will be different this time.

The idea is for the debit or credit HomeCard (either a Visa or MasterCard branded card) to be used by prospective home buyers. Consumers would receive up to 25% cash back on purchases that can be deposited into an interest-bearing savings account and used toward expenses related to a home purchase.

But Loop is having a hard time finding a bank to work with him on this concept. He stated, "Consumers need more help than ever getting on the path toward buying a home. The key for us is finding the right bank to partner with us to bring this to market."

It's an interesting concept and we'll keep you informed if Mr. Loop has success with finding a bank partner. And, of course, whenever you're ready to make a new home purchase, Grandview Lending will be here to help you with your mortgage needs.


When Will Mortgage Fraud Go Away?

September 8th, 2010

The short answer to that question is, not any time soon. According to the Mortgage News, the FBI has been working in states that recently passed residential mortgage fraud acts to stay abreast of the latest fraud tactics. They have found that those committing fraudulent activities are taking advantage of others and have clever ways to hide their intent. Some of the mortgage fraud happening today:

Flipping vs. Serial Flipping: A fraudulent flip is when it increases the value by using an inflated appraised value. This example from Mortgage News: "if a property was purchased for $175,000 and soon thereafter was sold for $500,000, most professionals would notice. However, serial flipping is trickier. Say a house sold for $175,000, soon after sold for $250,000, then $325,000, then $400,000 and then $500,000. Fewer professionals would even raise an eyebrow. This scheme takes more time, but the end result is the same: fraud."

Chunking: This is similar to flipping, but involves multiple loans to the same person rather than multiple sales. Often this begins when attending "get rich quick" real esate seminars. Knowing a person is vulnerable, they are contacted by a third party who offers them an investment opportunity. This third party acts an agent and submits loan applications on the borrower's behalf (often without their knowledge). At closing, he then pockets the loan, leaving the borrower with the debt.

Fraudulent Qualification Documents: Incorrect or completely false statements of bank balances, employment, income and credit records provide false information regarding the borrower’s ability to qualify for a loan. These are becoming increasingly common due to sophisticated editing software.

Bogus Assignment Fees, Liens or Invoices: Misrepresentations, inflated prices, inflated appraisals and even shell companies fall under this category of fraud. 

Reverse Mortgage Fraud: Those seeking ways to creating fraudulent acts find foreclosed, empty or distressed properties. Seniors are recruited to purchase the property without the exchange of money. After living there for 60 days, the seniors obtain a reverse mortgage using an inflated appraisal, usually based on repairs or remodeling that were not done. A lump sum disbursement of the equity is requested, and the fraudster takes the funds at closing. Unfortunately, this type of fraud is not often discovered until after the death of the borrower.

These are just some scenarios that the FBI is investigating. When you're ready to invest, purchase, refinance or obtain a reverse mortgage, it is in your best interest to work with someone you know and trust. As in most every situation, if it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true! Grandview Lending will be happy to assist you with all of your mortgage needs.

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We partner with our clients, walking shoulder to shoulder with them through the financial maze that mortgage lending has become. We provide our clients with exceptional service and integrity which has become our hallmark. Every loan is different. So we listen to our clients to help them assess the impact their mortgage decisions have, not only today, but tomorrow.
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