Archives for April 2012

What May Move Mortgage Rates the week of April 30, 2012

mortgageporter-economyThis week is packed with economic indicators that tend to impact mortgage rates. Remember, mortgage rates are based on mortgage backed securities (bonds) and may change throughout the day. Signs of inflation tend to cause mortgage rates to rise higher. The release of economic data is not the only thing that impact rates – unplanned (and planned) world events may also impact mortgage rates. Typically, investors will seek the safety of bonds when the stock market is deteriorating and the reverse is true. When the DOW is tanking, mortgage rates tend to improve.  During a volatile day, it’s not unusual to have 3 – 5 rate changes.

[Read more…]

Mortgage Scenarios for a West Seattle Townhome – OPEN TODAY!

It's National Openhouse Weekend and I'm promoting a new listing for of one of my West Seattle clients. This townhome is conveniently located in Highland Park at 7705 11th Avenue SW, Seattle and will be open today, Saturday, April 28, 2012 from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm by Wendy Hughes-Jelen of Mountain to Sound Realty. For photos and more information about this property, click here: MLS#349459.

Here are a few financing options based on the list price of $219,950.  Rates quoted are as of April 27, 2012 and are based on credit scores of 720 – 739 with closing towards the end of May, just in time to move in for Memorial Day.  Home owners insurance is estimated at $50 per month.  This is not a condo, so there are no Homeowner Association Dues.

FHA 30 Year with a minimum down payment of 3.5%.

3.750% has a total estimated payment of $1437.04 with funds due at closing in the amount of $8963 including net closing cost, prepaids and reserves (apr 4.728).

Here is a detailed video review of the above quote:

Conventional financing with 10% down payment using private mortgage insurance with debt to income ratios under 45%.

3.875% (apr 4.397) using monthly private mortgage insurance with a total estimated monthly payment (including estimated insurance and taxes) of $1,259.02 and estimated funds due at closing in the amount of $28,478.26.


4.125% (apr 4.465) using split premium mortgage insurance. Similar to FHA, a portion is paid upfront which reduces the monthly premium. I'm pricing this rate slightly higher to create rebate credit to help reduce net closing cost for the buyer of this West Seattle townhome. Total estimated monthly payment is $1,223.22 with funds due at closing estimated in the amount of $27,671.44.

Here is a video where I review both of the 10% down scenarios with private mortgage insurance quoted above:

This is just a small sample of possible mortgage programs for this home.  In addition to conventional and FHA financing, the sellers will accept VA and cash.

If you would like me to prepare a personal rate quote based on your scenario on this or any home located anywhere in Washington, please click here.

UPDATE:  There will be a Brokers Open (public welcome) this Wednesday, May 9, 2012 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at this home.

HARP 2.0, Greedy Big Banks and….We NOW offer Higher Loan to Values!

It's been a bit disappointing that HARP 2 has not been made as available to consumers as it should be. First, underwater homeowners had to wait a couple months for the program to become available and now, those who have the more challenging HARP refi's (loan to values over 105% or with private mortgage insurance) are finding that their options are even more limited. In addition, many banks are "cherry picking" which of their consumers they'll help and who they'll pawn off to large internet mortgage companies.  

NOTE: Mortgage Master Service Corporation has recently added new lenders that offer loan to values over 105%!!  For your HARP 2.0 rate quote on your home located in Washington State, please click here.

According to this article in Housing Wire, banks are making huge profits by not allowing for more competition, enabling them to charge hire rates to consumers.

HARP demand is rising at the banks, and they are generating new profits from it. Revenue at the Wells Fargo ($33.84 0%) mortgage department jumped by $1.6 billion in the first quarter as originations spiked. The bank said 15% of the originations completed in the first three months of the year were refinances under the new HARP.

Anthony Sanders, a professor of finance at George Mason University, told the panel Bank of America ($8.27 0%) received more than 30,000 HARP applications since mid-January.

A Senate subcommittee is currently reviewing how to make HARP 2.0 more readily available to consumers who qualify. In order to qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program, the mortgage needs to have been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009. Other conditions apply as well.

Expanded LTVs are available – just not as available as they should be if we really want our housing to have a chance to recover.

Mortgage Master Service Corporation has recently added new lenders who are offering loan to values over 105%.  If I can help you with your HARP 2 refinance on your home located in Washington, click here.

I am required to have the language below if I am soliciting your Home Affordable Refi for your home in Washington…and yes, I would love to help you with your HARP (or any) refinance:

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have adopted changes to the Home Affordable Refinance program (HARP) and you may be eligible to take advantages of these changes.  

If your mortgage is owned or guaranteed by either Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, you may be eligible to refinance your mortgage under the enhanced and expanded provisions of HARP.

You can determine whether your mortgage is owned by either Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae by checking the following or

Seattle Bidding Wars: What You Need to Know to Help “Win” Your Home

I’m noticing more “bidding wars” on new listings in the greater Seattle-Bellevue area. Because of the lack of non-distressed inventory and current low interest rates, multiple offers may occur driving the sales price higher than the original offered price. Sellers and listing agents may try to create an environment for a bidding war by slightly delaying the review of offers and by pricing the home either at or slighltly under what may considered “market value”.

Here are a few tips to remember should you find yourself in a possible “bidding war”.

Be prepared to provide a strong offer. Get preapproved early. This will help you know how much you qualify for and the seller will most likely require a strong preapproval letter that illustrates you are strongly qualified and that your loan will successfully close.

Determine your financial boundaries.  What is the most you want to pay for the home and for your monthly mortgage payment?  Bidding wars can be charged with emotion – keep your financial goals in mind. 

I often will provide several preapproval letters at staggered amounts for clients when they’re getting ready to make an offer. The letters might start at their preferred offer price and go up to the limit of their financial comfort zone is (of course they have to for that amount).

Work with a reputable lender. It is not unusual for listing agents to contact the mortgage originator to confirm the preapproval letter and to do a “sniff test” of your mortgage originator. If the listing agent is comparing two offers that are essentially the same, the mortgage originator may be a deciding factor.

Consider a shorter time period for closing. Depending on the seller’s situation, for example if the home is vacant, a shorter closing might help you win the bid. Contact your mortgage originator to see what time frame they can realistically close a transaction before writing an offer for a quick close.

Don’t forget the appraisal. Regardless of what you and five other bidders are willing to pay for a home, it still needs to appraise based on what other homes like have recently sold and closed for.  The seller does not have to accept a lower appraised value. Your lender will rely on the lower of the appraised value or sales price for your mortgage scenario.

Making a non-contingent offer.  Sometimes a real estate agent may suggest that you need to make an offer “non-contingent”. Consider how much earnest money you’re willing to lose if something happens where you elect not to proceed with your transaction (for example, if your appraisal comes in lower than the sales price and you’ve waived your financing contingency). NOTE: making an offer non-contingent on financing may be less risky depending on your personal scenario. 

Be prepared to do your home inspection prior to making an offer. It’s not unusal for greater Seattle area homes that are preparing a bidding war to request inspections be done prior to your offer. This will also help you make your offer “less contingent” it’s not subject to an inspection.

Being as prepared as possible may help give you an advantage over other offers. The sellers and listing agent wants to be assured that what ever transaction they select in a multiple offer situation has the best odds of successfully closing. 

I am happy to assist you with your preapproval and financing of your next home located anywhere in Washington state. I have been originating mortgages, including conventional, FHA and VA at family owned and operated Mortgage Master Service Corporation since April 2000. We are a well respected correspondent lender established in 1976 by the Porter family.  

What May Move Mortgage Rates the week of April 23, 2012

Here are some scheduled economic indicators that are scheduled to be released the week of April 23, 2012:

Tuesday, April 24: Consumer Confidence and New Home Sales

Wednesday, April 25: Durable Goods Orders and FOMC Meeting

Thursday, April 26: Initial Jobless Claims and Pending Home Sales

Friday, April 27: Consumer Sentiment Index (UoM); GDP – Gross Domestic Product and ECI – Employment Cost Index

Remember, when the stock market is getting pummeled, bonds (like mortgage backed securities) tend to improve as investors will seek the safety of bonds. The reverse is also true – when the DOW is having a great day, we tend to see mortgage interest rates rise.  As I write this post (10:11 am) the DOW is down about 141 and mortgage backed securities are in the "green".

It is highly unlikely that the Fed will make any changes to the Fed Funds Rate on Wednesday. Investors will be all ears to hear what the Fed has to say including signs of inflation or if the economy is improving (both of which may cause mortgage rates to trend higher).

For your personal mortgage rate quote for homes located anywere in Washington state, please click here.  You can also see mortgage rates that I'm quoting "live" by following me on Twitter.

HARP 2 and Appraisal Waivers

When the expanded guidelines of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (aka HARP 2) were released late last year, they announced that loan to value (LTV) restrictions were being removed. It all sounds very simple however, no big surprise here, there’s a little more to it.

[Read more…]

Reader Question: Does Getting a Mortgage Preapproval Impact my Credit Score?

One of my Seattle subscribers wrote me to ask this great question:  

“I’m considering purchasing a home soon, but I’m concerned about getting preapproved too early.  If I get preapproved and don’t find a home until the preapproval expires and I need a new one, will the credit hit from the first approval damage the score of my second approval?”

Credit scoring is intended to reflect a persons credit habits. When a credit report is pulled by a mortgage originator, a persons score may go down a few points. The initial pull of your credit report will help determine if there’s anything that needs to be address to help improve your scenario before you find your next home. It’s not uncommon to find that your score may be lower than what you estimated, perhaps there’s a parking ticket, or or a payment was reported late that you’re not aware of. This is the time to find out.

Loan preapprovals generally last around 90 days (this may vary depending on how old your supporting documentation is that was provided to validate your preapproval). Your credit report may not need to be repulled until you have a bona fide offer if at all depending on when your transaction is scheduled for closing.  Sometimes a “second preapproval” can be updated with new paystubs or bank statements.

Credit scoring is accumulative. So if you’ve been shopping for a car or a big screen television, these inquiries compounded with one from your mortgage lender will have more of an impact than just the credit being pulled for a preapproval alone.  By the way, if you’re shopping for new credit before (or during) being preapproved for a new home, be ready to explain every one of your credit inquiries. 

Odds are, if you’re worried about your score dipping from being preapproved you really should proceed with having it pulled by a local, licensed mortgage originator now…just in case a little elbow grease can help pump up your scores. Something as simple as paying down a debt to be under 50 or 30 percent of the total credit line may make a difference for an improved mortgage rate or qualifying for certain mortgage program.

I tend to lean towards getting preapproved as soon as possible. At the very least, it’s an opportunity to develop a game plan to make sure you’re in the best position possible for qualifying for your next mortgage. In addition, I’m seeing more non-distressed home homes in the greater Seattle area that are having multiple offers or “bidding wars”. If you’re considering buying a home, you’re going to need to be prepared with a preapproval letter from a reputable lender. You never know when a home that you want to make an offer on may become available.

If you’re considering buying a home in Seattle, Redmond, Walla Walla or anywhere in Washington, I’m happy to help you with your mortgage preapproval. 

FHA Underwriting Guidelines Tightening

UPDATE 6/19/2012: HUD has rescinded some of the guidelines issued in this Mortgagee Letter. Specifically those addressing collections and disputed accounts.

In late February, HUD released Mortgagee Letter 2012-3 with tougher guidelines for self-employed borrowers, disputed accounts and collections. Over the weekend, HUD amended the guidelines to have the disputed accounts and collections go into effect on July 1, 2012.  However the new guidelines for self employed borrowers went into effect for case numbers as of April 1, 2012.  

Here is a quick(?) 4-1-1 of the new guidelines:

Income documentation requirements for self-employed borrowers:

A P&L and Balance Sheet is required if more than a calendar quarter has elapsed since the date of most recent calendar or fiscal-year end tax return was filed by the borrower with no exceptions.

If income used to qualify the borrower exceeds the two year average of tax returns, an audited P&L or signed quarterly tax returns obtained from the IRS are required.

NOTE: This is in addition to providing two years your most recent complete (all schedules) personal and business tax returns. Borrowers who are doing an FHA non-credit qualifying streamline refi may be exempt.

Disputed accounts on your credit report

When an account on your credit report shows as being disputed, the application will be referred to a DE underwriter for review unless:

  • The TOTAL oustanding balance of all disputed credit accounts or collections are less than $1000; and
  • Disputed credit accounts or collections are aged two years from the date of the last activity as indicated on the most recent credit report.

Disputed credit accounts or collections resulting from identity theft, credit card theft, or unathorized use, etc., will be excluded from the $1000 limit provided acceptable supporting documentation can be provided, such as a police report.


Disputes on authorized user accounts are also factored into the $1000 limit.

NOTE: Conventional financing has really cracked down on disputed accounts as well.


If the total outstanding balance of all collection accounts is equal to or greater than $1000 the borrower must resolve the accounts (e.g. enter into payment arrangements with minimum three months verified payments) or paid off in full at time of or prior to closing. 

If the total outstanding balance is less than $1000, the borrower is not required to pay off the collection accounts as condition of the mortgage approval.

NOTE: If you're paying off collections, please consult with your mortgage originator before you do and remember to always obtain documentation to show your account is satisfied and paid in full.

If you're planning on paying down balances of disputed accounts and collections to reduce the accumulative balance to $1000, you can forget about it.  HUD says this is a no-go. 

But wait… there's more! 

As Washington is a community property state, if a non-purchasing spouse has outstanding collections and/or disputed accounts, the unpaid balances must be considered in the $1000 cumulative limit UNLESS documentation can be provided to document the debt incurred prior to the marriage – it's possible an attorney's opinion letter may be required stating the borrower was not responsible for that debt.

Medical collections are included (NOT excluded) from the $1000 cumulative limit. This is possibly the most surprising to me as FHA, in the past, has been more forgiving of medial debts. Not so anymore.  


Yet…I'm also reading in the FAQs that unpaid charge-offs are not factored into the $1000 accumulative limit. I find this interesting as lenders view charge-offs as collections. Although HUD might be okay with charge-off's, I would anticipate lender underwriting over-lays on this one.

Speaking of underwriting overlays, we still need to see how lenders will embrace the new guidelines. Although the disputed accounts and underwriting guidelines for collections have been delayed until July, it's quite possible some lenders might implement these guidelines earlier.

Stay tuned and get started on your preapproval for your mortgage EARLY.

If I can help you with a home located anywhere in Washington, please contact me.