Not so good karma for your credit?

I just received an email from a popular credit reporting service suggesting that I open new accounts.

Carma

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The difference between your internet credit score and what a mortgage company will use

credit scoreI am taking advantage of the current low mortgage rates and refinancing! I fired up Credit Karma and was surprised to see that my score had dipped. My bank also provides my credit score, which was in line with what Credit Karma was providing – just one point under 720. UGH!!! Apparently, I had used one of my credit cards a little more than I should have over the holidays for some home improvements. One digit in your credit score can make a significant difference in your mortgage interest rate and the cost associated for the rate.

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Establishing Credit Scores

2014-06-20_0758If you’re a reader of Mortgage Porter, you probably know that I just returned from a long weekend to Nashville to visit my son and check out his new apartment. Getting started on your own is an important part of your life and it helps to have established credit. This is especially true if you plan to buy a home as most lender will require that you have three to four established accounts. The credit lines you establish (and other credit events) will determine what your credit scores are.

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Steps in the Mortgage Process

iStock_000003709509SmallEDITORS NOTE 10/23/2015: This post has been updated to include the new disclosures and wait periods required per the Dodd Frank Act effective on loan applications dated October 3, 2015 and later. Click here to read the updated post.

The process of getting a mortgage consists of several stages and typically takes anywhere from 20 – 40 days (or more) depending on how prepared you are, what mortgage program you have selected and if it’s a purchase, the closing date may dictate how long the process will take. The steps below may not take place in the exact order I have listed and some steps may happen simultaneously.

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FHA unveils “Back to Work” Guidelines for those who had a Short Sale or Foreclosure

UPDATE Sept 9, 2013: I just received a memo from our management and we are doing FHA’s “Back to Work” program for home buyers who meet the criteria.

HUD released Mortgagee Letter 2013-26, also referred to as “Back to Work” featuring enhanced guidelines for home owners who lost their homes via short sale or foreclosure due to financial difficulties. “Back to Work” shortens the required wait periods for borrowers wanting to buy a home again.  From ML 2013-26:

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What you don’t know about your credit report may haunt you

Does your credit report have skeletons hiding in the closet? Many are startled at what is lurking on their credit report when they’re getting ready to buy or refinance their home. 

If you’re a long-time subscriber to Mortgage Porter, you’ve probably read some of my tips on how to improve your credit score. Here’s a quick overview of five frightening credit report surprises.

Your on-line credit score may not be what it appears. Your credit report and scores are available on line by the “big three” credit bureaus.  However, don’t be fooled by your on-line credit score which probably is a different number than what a mortgage company (or other lender) will pull. Why? Basically, there are different scoring modules created for the end user (for example a mortgage company or if you’re buying a car).  

Credit inquiries lingering behind. Your credit report will reveal inquiries that were made over the past 120 days. Each inquiry will need to be addressed with a written letter explaining each inquiry and whether or not new credit was obtained. If new credit has been obtained and needs to be added to the loan application with the debt being factored into the debt to income ratios.

Co-signed college student loans. If you co-sign for your childs student loan debts (or any debts) chances are you may get to qualify factoring that debt into your ratios. This can sometimes be resolved if you can document your child (or whoever you co-signed the debt for) has made payments on their own for the last 12 months.

Charge-offs. Consumers often assume that because a debt has been “charged off” that they’re off the hook for the remaining balance, which typically is not true. Lenders will often treat the balance of the charge off that is on the credit report as a “collection” which will probably need to be paid off or resolved prior to obtaining a new mortgage.

Disputed accounts. You disagree with what is being reported against you on your credit report and do what most responsible people would do: file a dispute. Only to find out when you’re getting a mortgage, that the lender will not close on your transaction unless the reported dispute is removed. Torture! 

What may be buried in your credit report is just one more reason why you should start your loan approval process sooner than later.

If you’re considering buying or refinancing a home anywhere in Concrete, Fall City, Forks, Auburn (originally incorporated as the town of Slaughter) or anywhere in Washington state, I’m happy to help you!

How Disputes on Your Credit Report May Impact Obtaining a Mortgage

Reviewing your credit report and disputing information that is being wrongly reported about you is your right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Obtaining your credit report and making sure that it’s accurate is financially responsible and your duty to protect your credit. And the Federal Trade Commission provides you tips on how to dispute items on your credit report.  Did you know that lenders may not accept a credit report where it indicates there is a disputed item? 

It doesn’t matter if you have perfect credit or a low loan to value, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines are forcing lenders to provide a credit report without disputes. I’ve recently had transactions where the borrower doesn’t recall disputing anything and the debtor doesn’t have record of the dispute yet this “dispute” needs to be removed from the credit report or the lender/bank will not accept the loan. This is one reason why anyone considering a mortgage for refinancing or purchasing a home should obtain a copy of their credit report very early on. It can take a great deal of time to have disputes removed if a borrower does this on their own.  

The other option is for a “rapid rescore” which whittles down the process to days. The irony in this is that rapid rescore is not free and it is the credit bureaus and reporting agencies who profit when this service is done – I really have a problem with this when my client and the creditor state there are no disputes of record yet somebody has to pay to have these items quickly removed to accommodate a closing date. Often times, the lender absorbs the cost of the rapid rescore however this eventually drives up the overall cost of doing business and eventually, the consumer pays.

In my opinion, this is something that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need to change pronto. Well qualified borrowers should not have to go through these hoops or have their mortgage denied. A simple written letter of explanation signed by the borrowers and possibly the creditor *should* suffice instead of requiring the credit report not show any sign of a dispute. Apparently back in 2009, Fannie was reviewing their policy however, I’m not aware of any significant changes.  

If our government wants to help the housing industry and our economy, this practice needs to stop now.

Improving Your Credit Score

credit

With every point of your credit score being more crucial than ever, I thought it would be a good time to share some tips on how to improve your credit scores beyond paying your bills on time.   If you are considering obtaining a mortgage within the next 12 months, you should meet with your Mortgage Professional to help advise you on this process.   Some steps in repairing your credit may actually temporarily lower your scores (such as paying off a collection).   What steps you should take depends on how soon you plan on buying a home or refinancing.

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