Archives for November 2008

Who’s Who with the Local Title Companies

With the recent developments, including Chapter 11 bankruptcy, surrounding LandAmerica; I thought it would be important to share with you "who's who" locally.   Due to the bankruptcy, some lenders are not accepting title policies backed by LandAmerica.  If you are buying or selling a home right now, please check with your lender or real estate agent to make sure your title company is acceptable.

Our market has many different "brand names" of title insurance companies and actually just a few actual title underwriters.   Here's a quick run down of how the local companies currently stand (note: this will be changing as Fidelity National Financial is in the process of buying LandAmerica if the transaction is successful):

The LandAmerica Title Insurance (currently going through bankruptcy and being acquired by Fidelity National Financial).  Note: percentage of ownership is based on this report effective December 31, 2007.  Hat tip to Matt Carter.

Commonwealth of Puget Sound = LandAmerica's underwriter named Commonwealth with 50% stake in Commonwealth of Puget Sound.  Windermere, along with independent broker/owners have financial interests.

Rainier Title, LLC = LandAmerica's underwriter named Lawyers with a 25% stake in Rainier Title LLC.  John L. Scott and Coldwell Banker Bain have financial interests. (See Update 12/9/2008 below for changes).

Northpoint Title and Escrow = LandAmerica is the underwriter through Lawyers and reported a 40% stake in Northpoint.

Fidelity National Financial (in the process of merging LandAmerica's title division).

Fidelity Title and Escrow = Fidelity.

Chicago Title and Escrow = Fidelity.

Ticor Title and Escrow = Fidelity.

First American Title Insurance Company

First American Title and Escrow = First American.

The Talon Group Title and Escrow = First American.

Pacific Northwest Title = First American.

Stewart Title and Escrow = Stewart Title

Old Republic Title and Escrow = Old Republic

As I mentioned, this list is scheduled to change.  Fidelity National Title hopes to have the LandAmerica merger complete by the end of this year…Fidelity called the merger off in the ninth hour in a previous attempt.  Currently some major lenders, including Countrywide, Bank of America, Flagstar US Bank and Chase, have LandAmerica companies on their "non-approved vendors" list which may cause a hiccup with transactions that are in process.

I will keep you posted a this story develops.

Update 12/3/2008: Countrywide will accept LandAm policies stating that Fidelity Reinsurance Treaties are acceptable when your title commitment shows Commonwealth or Lawyers as the insurer.

Update 12/5/2008:  Provident Funding issues memo stating they "will not accept title policies underwritten or escrow services provided by a LandAmerica subsidiary…"

Update 12/8/2008: Flagstar Bank has issued a memo stating they will "require all title commitments, title policies and closing protections to be in the name of the new entities" for loans registered after December 1, 2008.   Flagstar's memo also states that Land America affiliated settlement agents (escrow) "who have not been associated with a closing disbursement with Flagstar since September 8, 2008 will "expired" from their closing agent database.

Update 12/9/2008:  Rainier Title, LLC has announced "we have become an authorized policy issueing agent for Stewart Guaranty Company".   (No mention in the email of Fidelity or their proposed merger).



Happy 2nd Birthday Mortgage Porter!

I'm often asked what caused me to start blogging…well two years ago today I was watching the late night news about a local case of mortgage fraud and the reporter closed the story with wrong information about loan originator licensing.  I just had to get the truth out.  I wasn't sure if anyone would ever read Mortgage Porter.  Two years later, I have over 750 articles written with my clients in mind and I hope to continue writing for you.

To celebrate my 2nd blog birthday of Mortgage Porter, I have a special treat for my readers and commenter's.  Now when you leave a comment, you have the option of creating a free typepad profile which will appear when you leave a comment.  Your profile may also include a photo.  Of course, you can still comment anonymously, if you prefer.  Comments will also be in a thread format instead of a "line" format, which may promote conversation with each other.  You can also be notified of future comments.   This is a new feature that I'm literally installing as I type…so hopefully it won't throw a fit like a typical 2 year old!

Again, many many thanks for reading Mortgage Porter.

Happy Thanksgiving

There are so many things to be thankful for in this world.  For starters, I have a wonderful family.  At this time, I would also like to thank my many clients, friends and those of you who are reading this blog.  I truly appreciate all of you.  I hope you are surrounded with loved ones this holiday.

Mortgage Master is closed today and tomorrow in observance of Thanksgiving.  We will reopen for business as usual on Monday, December 1, 2008.  Soon I'll be working on the appetizers that we're bringing over to my sister's home…today I'll be enjoying the company of family.  Although my office is closed tomorrow, I will be working on Good Faith Estimates for clients who are interested in our current low rates.

Happy Thanksgiving!  By the way, if you're still trying to figure out how you're going to cook your bird, here's my recipe for smoked Turkey Breast on a Big Green Egg.

Why You Should be Following Me on Twitter

UPDATE 2010:  If you've landed on this page, it's probably because you clicked an ad that I have on a blog–THANK YOU!   Please note, the rates below are from 2008 and DO NOT reflect current rates.  I'm still posting rates on Twitter and I'm happy to provide you with your personal mortgage rate quote as long as your home is located in Washington (I'm only licensed to help with mortgages in Washington state).

This is what my Twitter page looks like so far today.


If you're following me on Twitter, then you all ready know how low mortgage interest rates are today based on what I'm quoting for Washington State homeowners.  These are actual "live" rate quotes. 

Following is easy…just click on the "follow" button under my head when you visit  You can "un-follow" anytime.  As you can see, rates can vary just based on the time of day (various rate sheets–we're averaging 3 rate changes per day) and personal criteria.  

My twitter quotes are posted on the left side of this blog. 

For your personal rate quote for homes in Washington State, please contact me. 

Mortgage Rates are LOWER right now

Here's an example of scenarios I'm quoting this morning:

Purchase with 10% down and a 729 mid credit score and a conventional loan amount of $373,500.  5.25% priced with 1 point (apr 5.393).  Seller is paying allowed closing costs.

Purchase with 3% down FHA and a 777 mid credit score (this rate would apply to any mid credit score over 620).  Loan amount is $349,200 with a rate of 5.500% priced with 1 point (apr 6.353).  Seller is paying allowed closing costs.

Rate term refinance 30 year fixed based on 717 mid credit score with a loan amount of $464,000 and loan to value of 80%:  6.00% priced with 0.5% points (apr 6.087%).

For a rate quote based on your personal scenario for your home located in Washington State, factoring:

  • loan to value
  • mid credit scores
  • purpose (purchase, refi, rate term refi)

Please contact me.  I am quoting rates live on Twitter.  Click follow me to get an idea of what rates are being quoted or locked.

Client Question: Where is your YSP?

I've been asked this a couple times this week…I'm wondering if it's possibly caused by Aubrey Cohen's recent article in the PI about mortgage brokers, subprime mortgages and outrageous yield spread premiumsor if consumers are more savvy and aware of YSP.

Loan originators who work for mortgage brokers may receive a yield spread premium from the lender they are brokering the loan to.  This YSP is required to be disclosed on the Good Faith Estimate and the Loan Application Disclosure Form (if you're providing a mortgage for property in Washington State) and as well as the HUD-1 Settlement Statement.  YSP has not only been used for loan originator compensation, it has also helped pay for closing costs or provide mortgages with "no points". 

Loan originators who work for banks, credit unions or correspondent lenders are not paid YSP (unless they are brokering the loan).  However they may still be receiving compensation on "the back side" of the transaction.  It's just not required to be disclosed.  Part of the reason for this, with correspondent lenders, is the inherent difference between them and mortgage brokers.  Correspondent lenders underwrite, prepare loan documents and fund the transaction from their credit lines.  The mortgage is sold to the lender after closing.  A mortgage broker merely originates the transaction and may do some processing/coordinating with the lender.  They do not underwrite or fund the transaction.  A correspondent lender assumes greater responsibility for the transaction and may be compensated after the loan is closed.  Often times, correspondent lenders may receive favored pricing over a traditional mortgage broker as they assume more risk and are performing more of the work (underwriting, drawing docs and funding) than the broker. 

With the media focused on YSP, many consumers have become misdirected on how to select the person who will be advising them on one of the largest transactions they may face in their lifetime.  Focusing on how much they believe a loan originator is compensated will not provide them with the lowest rate, best service or most qualifed Mortgage Professional.  For example, if:

  • Lender A is a mortgage broker who quotes 6.00% priced with zero points and a YSP of 1% of the loan amount.
  • Lender B is a bank who quotes 6.00% priced with zero points (nothing is reported on the back end).
  • Lender C is a correspondent lender who quotes 5.875% with zero points (nothing is reported on the back end).

All loan originators are being compensated in the scenario above…I would bet pretty close to the same.   If the going rate is 5.875-6.000% (as based on this example) why would anyone care how much someone is compensated?  I could totally understand if they received a rate of 6.500% (assuming all loans are locked at the same time/date as rates are currently changing on average three times a day and a 0.25% swing is not uncommon).   When you're shopping for a big ticket item, such as a TV, do you care what the salesperson is making or do you care how much YOU are paying?

If you're a long time Mortgage Porter subscriber, you know that I believe that selecting your mortgage by rate is not the best route to go.  Especially considering that you're making this decision based on a rate that is moot unless you are ready to lock at that moment.  Rates are a moving target.  For this reason, the YSP the mortgage brokers are forced to quote are only a best guestimate because they do not know what they will be paid until the loan is locked.

I don't have a problem letting clients who want to know what the compensation may be "on the backend"…just ask.  I question why a consumer would care if the rate is the going market or better.

Related post:

How Am I Paid?

Picking Your Next Mortgage by Rate Shopping?  You Might as well be playing Liars Poker.

Now is the time to work with a Correspondent Lender

Do You Enjoy Cooking? Check out Culinary Communion

Last weekend I went back to school–to learn how to make pizza.  I specifically had PB160030 major issues with making pizza dough that didn't turn into a leathery brick.  Mixing amazing toppings together and baking them in a real brick oven in the front yard was quite the foodie experience.  The best part was sharing all our creations as they were completed!

I'm making home made pizza tonight and the dough is looking very promising!   Culinary Communion is located on Beacon Hill in Seattle. 

They have many classes to chose from–I've done the Wines of the World series PB160040 last   year.  My next course is how to make pasta (my sister will be joining me)! 

Culinary Communion is available for private events as well.  I highly encourage you to check out this fun local experience.

More photos from my Culinary Communion class: click here.

Related post about my first pizza cooking experience (post Culinary Communion course): click here.

Washington Mortgage Interest Rates

Updated mortgage rates have been posted at Rain City Guide (2:30 pm).

Next week, Mortgage Master will be closed on Thursday, November 27, 2008 and re-opening for business as usual on Monday, December 1, 2008.   We wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Conforming Mortgage Rates (loan amounts up to $417,000 for 1-unit properties).  The conforming rate quote below is based on owner occupied, "full doc" purchase with a sales price of $500,000 and a loan amount of $400,000.  Rates are priced based on a low-mid credit score from 720-739. This scenario includes reserves (taxes & insurance) not being waived.   Rates quoted are priced based on a 45 day lock with no origination or discount points (for your personal rate quote with or without points, please contact me) and there are no prepayment penalties on any of the rates quoted below. 

30 Year Fixed @ 0 Pts: 6.125% (APR 6.060% 6.227%) ~ Priced w/1 Pt:  5.75% (APR 5.902%). 

30 Year Fixed with 10 Year Interest Only @ 1 Pt:  7.000% (APR 7.155%).

15 Year Fixed @ 0 Pts: 6.000% (APR 6.101%) ~ Priced @ 1 Pt: 5.500% (APR 5.753%).

5/1 ARM – LIBOR 5/2/5 Caps/2.25 Margin @ 1 Pt: 5.375% (APR 6.943%)

Conforming Jumbo Rates. Pricing is based on the same criteria above (including zero points) except where the loan amount is $417,001 – $506,000 for properties in King, Snohomish or Pierce Counties; specifically priced for a sales price of $625,000 and a $500,000 loan amount.   NOTE: Conforming Jumbo loan limits for 2009 – lenders are all ready beginning to pull back on loans over the new limit.

30 Year Fixed @ 0 Pt:  6.375% (APR 6.430%) ~ Priced @ 1 Pt: 6.000% (APR 6.147%).

JUMBO (Non-Conforming) Rates. Pricing is based on the same criteria above (zero points), with the exception that the loan amount is $417,001-$650,000 (20% down).   The specific scenario used to price the rates below is a sales price of $850,000 with a loan amount of $680,000. 

30 Year Fixed @ 1 Pt:  8.000% (APR 8.162)

FHA.  Pricing based on credit score of 620 or better and loan amount of $362,790 for FHA in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties with 1 discount/origination point.

30 Year Fixed @ 1 Pt:  6.125% (APR 6.811%).

FHA-Jumbo. Pricing based on 1 discount/origination point and loan amounts from $362,791 – $567,500 for King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties.  NOTE: 2009 FHA loan limits are posted here for Washington state.   

30 Year Fixed @ 1 Pt: 6.500% (APR 7.185%).

VA. Pricing based on credit scores of 620 or better based on loan amount of $417,000.   For VA loan amounts over $417,000, please contact me.

30 Year Fixed @ 1 Pt:  6.125% (APR 6.244%).

Non-owner Occupied/Investment Property.  Pricing based on 25% down payment with $400,000 sales price with low-mid credit scores of 720-739.

30 Year Fixed @ 1 Pt:  7.125% (APR 7.307%)

Prime Rate (what HELOCs are based on):  4.000%.    

12 Month LIBOR (what a majority of ARMS are based on): 2.75125% as posted in the Wall Street Journal.

Rates are as of Friday, November 21, 2008 at 8:30 a.m. and may change at any timeAvailable programs may change at anytime as well.   This is not a guarantee nor is it a commitment of interest rate. 

Stay tuned with what's going on in the market by subscribing to Mortgage Porter (upper left corner) and Mortgage Porter Twitter for live rate updates (click Follow).