Moving towards a Paperless Mortgage with e-sign

This week our company, Mortgage Master Service Corporation, has been upgrading our “loan operating system”. This will allow our clients to have the option of reviewing their loan documents and acknowledge (sign) them electronically with “e-signatures”. Of course our clients can still print or receive hard copies of their loan documents. 

This step forward is not only “green” by reducing waste (it’s estimated a typical file uses around 400 pieces of paper); it will also help streamline the mortgage process. For our clients, instead of having to sign their names over and over again with their initial loan application documents, they will simply use their personal computer to securely access their loan documents and “click” their autographs.

E-signatures are allowed with conventional and VA mortgage loans. Currently it is not yet available for FHA or USDA mortgages. Hopefully this will change soon!

You may notice that my on-line loan application has changed – this is to support our new system.

Here is more information on how our e-sign process works

If you’re considering buying or refinancing a home anywhere in Washington, I’m happy to help you!

Comparing Closing Cost

Sometimes I see quotes from competitors that befuddle me. This morning, a home owner in Maple Valley asked me to review their FHA streamlined refinance quote that they received from a big bank.

The great big bank not only has a much higher interest rate, their closing cost are more expensive too. In fact, when I review the closing cost, it makes me wonder if the loan officer has originated many FHA loans.

Here are the bank’s closing cost for an FHA streamline refi…

Bank FHA
Big Bank’s Closing Costs

…and there’s only a $10 closing cost rebate with an interest rate that is 0.5% higher than mine! 

Compare this to my closing cost (BELOW), which are covered with a rebate credit (which also pays for my clients prepaids and reserves). 

My closing cost
My closing costs

I really don’t understand how our quotes could be so far apart…but you can see, they are. Many consumers would trust their bank would provide the most competitive rates and closing cost. The quotes I’m looking at today illustrate this isn’t always true. If this Maple Valley homeowner did not shop his rate quote and only trusted his big bank, he would be paying a much higher rate over the life of the loan and overpaying in fees. 

Yet those in Congress feel that mortgage originators who work for banks can be held to lower standards per the SAFE Act. Remember, bank mortgage originators are not required to be licensed, they are only registered. I recently met a nice loan officer who works for a different big bank and who presented herself to be NMLS licensed, when I asked her directly if she was “registered” or “licensed” she did correct herself. Believe me, there is a  difference.

If you are considering refinancing or buying a home anywhere in Washington state and have a rate quote from another lender or bank, I’m happy to review it to see if I can offer a better rate and/or lower closing cost. Send me an email with a pdf of the rate quote you would like me to review. Remember, I can only help with homes located in Washington state, where I’m Licensed to originate mortgages.

Mortgage loans and the first Presidential Debate

Did you watch the Presidential debate last Wednesday?  At one point, President Obama and Mitt Romney discussed regulations that are impacting getting a mortgage – namely: Dodd Frank. When you hear media discussing that some borrowers are  having a difficult time qualifying for a mortgage or that the process is cumbersome, odds are it’s regulations like those you’ll find in Dodd Frank that are the cause. 

Here’s a bit from the debate:

President Obama:

…the reason we have been in such a enormous economic crisis was prompted by reckless behavior across the board. Now, it wasn’t just on Wall Street. You had…loan officers…giving loans and mortgages that really shouldn’t have been given, because they’re — the folks didn’t qualify. You had people who were borrowing money to buy a house that they couldn’t afford. You had credit agencies that were stamping these as A-1 (plus) great investments when they weren’t. But you also had banks making money hand-over-fist, churning out products that the bankers themselves didn’t even understand in order to make big profits, but knowing that it made the entire system vulnerable.

So what did we do? We stepped in and had the toughest reforms on Wall Street since the 1930s. We said you’ve got — banks, you’ve got to raise your capital requirements. You can’t engage in some of this risky behavior that is putting Main Street at risk. We’re going to make sure that you’ve got to have a living will, so — so we can know how you’re going to wind things down if you make a bad bet so we don’t have other taxpayer bailouts.

Mitt Romney:

Let me mention another regulation of Dodd-Frank. You say we were giving mortgages to people who weren’t qualified. That’s exactly right. It’s one of the reasons for the great financial calamity we had. And so Dodd-Frank correctly says we need to… have qualified mortgages, and if you give a mortgage that’s not qualified, there are big penalties. Except they didn’t ever go on to define what a qualified mortgage was… 

It’s been two years. We don’t know what a qualified mortgage is yet. So banks are reluctant to make loans, mortgages. Try and get a mortgage these days. It’s hurt the housing market…because Dodd-Frank didn’t anticipate putting in place the kinds of regulations you have to have. It’s not that Dodd- Frank always was wrong with too much regulation. Sometimes they didn’t come out with a clear regulation.

Read the full transcript of the Presidential Debate courtesy of NPR.

I was actually surprised to hear “qualified mortgages” (also referred to as QRM or qualified residential mortgage) brought  up in the debate. Banks have been waiting for the definition of what constitutes a QRM for some time. One of the biggest concerns is if the government uses loan to value (how much down payment or home equity) to qualify as a QRM

It’s quite possible that in order for a mortgage to be classified as a QRM, a home buyer may have to come up with 10 or even 20% down payment when they’re buying a home. I would imagine that mortgages that fall outside of the QRM criteria will have much higher rates to compensate for the risk that bank will be taking. First time home buyers or those without larger down payments (assuming loan to value is one of the factors) will be penalized. Obviously this would not help the housing market’s recovery nor help our economy.

The Center for Responsible Lending reports:

QRM mortgages requiring a 10% down payment would lock 40% of all creditworthy borrowers out of the market. A 20% down payment would exclude 60% of creditworthy borrowers.

In my opinion, it’s time to move forward with common sense underwriting. We don’t need the government creating underwriting guidelines for those who are wanting to buy or refinance their home (the flaws with “net tangible benefit” requirements illustrates this).

Stay tuned…

A compromise for waiving your escrow reserve account

moneyclockmortgageporterAn escrow reserve account is used to collect and “reserve” the real estate taxes and home owners insurance portion of your monthly mortgage payment for when your taxes and insurance bills are due. In Washington state, property taxes are paid twice a year and home owners insurance is paid annually.

[Read more…]

Tis the Season for Vacations

Many families are squeezing in a vacation during the remaining days of summer. I can’t blame them, I’m just back from one myself! If you are in the mortgage process, it’s critical that your let your mortgage originator know of any vacation (or business travel) plans. 

If you’re going to be in a spot where you can receive important documents and respond to emails, it may not be a huge issue. If you’re going off the grid, it may impact your rate lock commitment if your loan is currently locked. Your mortgage originator will need to price out a long enough lock period for your loan (if you’re locking) or you may opt to float and not lock in the current rates available.  And of course, if you run out of time with your lock, the rate lock commitment may be extended

Another factor is signing your final loan documents. Escrow companies can email (I do not recommend sending final docs via email) or send your loan documents via something like FedEx or UPS. This can be a bit risky as well as if a signature is missed or something is not notarized properly, your transaction may be delayed.

The more notice you can provide your mortgage originator about vacation or business travel, the more time they will have to prepare your options for the mortgage process.

President Obama’s Refi Plan for Non-HARP Qualified Homeowners #MyRefi

Refi

On last week’s State of the Union Address, President Obama announced a plan to help underwater homeowners who do not qualify for a Home Affordable Refinance.  In order to qualify for a Home Affordable Refi (aka HARP 2.0) the home owner’s mortgage needs to have been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009 and meet other qualifications.  If the home owner currently has a jumbo loan, they are instantly disqualified for HARP 2.0. since jumbo mortgages are non-conforming (not Fannie or Freddie programs). HARP is also restricted by existing conforming loan limits and in the greater Seattle area, the current conforming loan limit is $506,000.  Even if you have a conforming loan amount of $567,500 (last year’s conforming loan limit in Seattle), current HARP guidelines limit you to a $506,000 loan amount.

President Obama’s proposal is to help underwater home owners who have made their mortgage payments on time and who do not qualify for HARP 2.0 is to allow them to have an FHA insured mortgage without an appraisal.  FHA insured mortgages have different loan limits than conforming. In the Seattle area, the FHA loan limit is $567,500. Obama’s new refi program, should it come to fruition, will be limited to FHA loan amounts. 

FHA mortgages are a great program, however they’re also very expensive when compared to conventional loans.  This is because they have both upfront and monthly mortgage insurance fees, which are constantly being raised by Congress. FHA mortgages have both upfront and monthly mortgage insurance regardless of the loan to value of the property. 

As of 8:30 this morning, an FHA rate on a loan amount of $567,500 in Seattle – Bellevue with a 720 or higher credit score is 3.750% for a 30 year fixed rate (apr 4.767).  Principal and interest with the financed UFMIP is $2,654.46 and the monthly mortgage insurance premium is an additional $515.85 for a total (PIMI) payment of $3,170.31, not included property taxes and insurance.  This PIMI payment equals an interest rate in the low-to-mid 5% range if you compare it to a conventional mortgage.

NOTE: Rates quoted in this post are from February 1, 2012; for a current rate quote for your home located in Washington State, click here.

This program is also costly as Obama plans to pay for it by charging banks additional fees and we all know that this trickles down to the consumer. The Temporary Payroll Tax illustrates how banks have increased mortgage rates AND the cost to extend a rate lock commitment.

It’s reported that the new program will not require an appraisal or proof of income and will be available for primary residences only. Employment will need to be verified and mortgage payments must have been made on time for the last 6 months.  Although this is “Obama’s Refi Plan”, we have to wait and see if Congress approves it and how the big banks and lenders will embrace this program.

If you currently have an FHA insured mortgage, you don’t need to wait and see if Obama’s refi plan will help you. You may already be able to refinance with an FHA streamlined refi without an appraisal. 

If you would like to stay informed of mortgage programs like this, please subscribe to my blog (upper right corner) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook.  You can unsubscribe anytime!

If you are interested in a mortgage for a home located anywhere in Washington state, I’m happy to help you! I have been originating all types of loans at Mortgage Master Service Corporation since 2000.  Click here for your no-hassle mortgage quote on your Washington property.

Mortgage Update for the Week of October 10, 2011

Today we recognize Christopher Columbus which means that the bond markets are closed. Did you know that October 9th is Lief Erikson Day?  Speaking of Europe, the DOW is up 277 as I write this post (10:35 am) since it looks like Europe may be getting closer to solving their financial crisis.  There are no economic indicators scheduled to be released today.

Here is what's scheduled for the remainder of the week:

Wednesday, October 12:  FOMC Minutes

Thursday, October 13:  Balance of Trade and Initial Jobless Claims

Friday, October 14: Retail Sales and Consumer Sentiment (UoM)

Remember, typically good news for the stock markets tends to drive mortgage rates higher as investors will trade the safety of bonds (like mortgage backed securities) for the greater returns possible with stocks. Last Friday was an example of this when the Jobs Report was released with better than expected data.

While we hope for good news for our economy and signs of recovery, keep in mind that this may cause mortgage rates to trend higher. Signs of inflation will also drive mortgage rates higher.

Although rates are still historically low, they have been trending higher over this past week. 

With the bond markets closed for Columbus Day, some of our lenders are taking the day off and we do others available should you decide you want to lock in a mortgage rate today for purchase or refinance in Washington.

Happy Columbus Day and belated Leif Erikson Day.

“Going Above and Beyond” is Doing Our Jobs

2011-05-20_09-46-37_561 I received a really nice thank you card from Shannon Ressler at Findwell Realty last week that I want to share with you. We recently helped Shannon's clients buy a vintage bungalow that was a short sell in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle using an FHA insured mortgage. Being a short sell and an FHA insured loan, there was no shortage of paper work and the transaction was coming "down to the wire".  

Closing was set to take place on Friday…and early Thursday morning, I received a message from one of our buyers saying he was flying out at noon for a family event…he'd be back on Monday. Luckily Mike was able to reschedule his flight until four, however, we were still in a crunch to get docs out.  NOTE:  I normally like to have loan docs out several days before signing…but sometimes transactions (especially short sales) don't happen that way.

Extentending contracts with short sales can be a chore since in addition to dealing with a buyer and a seller, you also have the seller's lender.  Adding to this, I had renegotiated our clients interest rate lock lower and the lender I had the rate locked with charges a higher extension fee once a rate lock has been renegotiated.  We really needed to close on time.

We were able to rush loan docs out to the escrow company.  As a correspondent lender, we prepare our loan docs at our main office in Kent and we make our own underwriting decisions (following guidelines, of course)…escrow was gracious receiving loan docs last minute AND THEN, their system crashes.  I have to say, I've never had this happen!  Mike's flight out was rapidly approaching.  We were running out of time and escrow's computers were not cooperating.

Marilyn Porter, President of Mortgage Master Service Corporation (and my sister-in-law) had an additional set of their loan docs printed and we arranged to meet our buyers at Sharps Roasters by SeaTac Airport.  While we were heading to Sharps, Mike and Mary obtained their cashiers checks for the estimated amount due for closing. Marilyn even had a couple orders of sliders and fries waiting for everyone…figuring with all the rushing around, they'd probably be hungry.

By the time we were done with the signing, escrow's system was back up and they emailed their docs (escrow instructions, estimated HUD-1 Settlement Statement) to our clients to sign and return. I created a video review of their estimated HUD since escrow was not able to review it with them.  

Our job wasn't over. Escrow needed the buyer's cashiers checks before 4:00 that day in order to have them in time for funding tomorrow. We wound up having the wire instructions emailed to our phones and we deposited the buyers checks directly into escrow's accounts.  

And, I'm happy to say that we DID fund and close on time. 

I am so proud of the crew I work with at Mortgage Master Service Corporation. 

Thank YOU Shannon, for your recommendation and thoughtful card!  Shannon was an asset throughout this transaction, it was a great team effort from all.