Todd & Lisa Sheppard
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Lisa
Sheppard
Mobile:
707-483-9990
Email:
Lisa@TEAMSHEP.com
BRE # 01154225
Todd
Sheppard

Mobile:
707-235-6870
Email:
Todd@TEAMSHEP.com
BRE # 01314350

Archive for April 2012

Everybody Calm Down – The Market IS Recovering

April 23rd, 2012   by lisasheppard

It didn’t take long for the naysayers in real estate to jump all over the National Association of RealtorsExisting Sales Report which was released last week. It is true that sales were down 2.6% from the previous month. However, monthly variations should not be the determining factor in deciding where the market is going. For example, in the same report, NAR explained that sales WERE UP 5.2% over last March’s numbers.

The experts should look at the key underlying data that truly determines where the market will be heading. Here is what leading economists in the housing industry are saying:

Paul Diggle, property economist, Capital Economics

“March’s decline in existing home sales probably reflects the normal month by month volatility rather than renewed underlying weakness. The increase in households’ confidence in the outlook for the housing market, coupled with a gradual improvement in the pace of the economic recovery, should drive a rise in home sales later this year….It is possible that the pattern within the quarter has been driven by the weather, with falls in the most recent two months reflecting a degree of payback after January’s gain.”

Doug Duncan, chief economist, Fannie Mae

“Conditions are coming together to encourage people to want to buy homes. Americans’ rental price expectations for the next year continue to rise, reaching their record high level for our survey this month. With an increasing share of consumers expecting higher mortgage rates and home prices over the next 12 months, some may feel that renting is becoming more costly and that homeownership is a more compelling housing choice.”

Celia Chen, senior director of housing economics, Moody’s

The residential property market is recovering, as the factors underlying demand and supply strengthen. Even after accounting for unusual seasonal patterns brought on by the unusually warm winter, conditions have not been this strong since the government ended homebuyer tax credits in 2010.”

Mark Vitner, senior economist, Wells Fargo

“Existing home sales dropped 2.6 percent, but are up 5.2 percent from a year ago. While existing sales are down for the second consecutive month, we are likely continuing to see payback from increases earlier this year. That said, we could see one more month of disappointing data, but we still contend the recent declines are not indicative of the trend. Stabilization will become more apparent once we return to normal weather.”

Mark Fleming, chief economist, CoreLogic

“Since the peak in home prices, mortgages rates have declined and affordability has risen dramatically. Housing affordability is at levels not seen since prior to the early 1990s …While real estate professionals often say that “now is a good time to buy,” it is clear today that April 2006 was probably not a good time to buy, while now may well be the time.”

Mortgages and Veterans

April 19th, 2012   by lisasheppard

One of the great things about this country is that we do a lot for those who have served us. And in the area of real estate financing, we can do exceptional things.

Understand that the VA (Veterans’ Administration) is, in the mortgage world, like HUD is with FHA financing. They are an insurance company, collecting premiums and using the backing of the Federal government to guarantee the payments to lenders. Because of the government’s guarantee, lenders can stretch traditional guidelines and offer very competitive terms (of course, while adhering to the VA’s guidance).

Some of the more attractive features of a VA loan are:

  1. 100% Financing on Home Purchases – Veterans, assuming they are in good standing, can buy a home with no money down. In most cases, the maximum VA loan is $417,000.
  2. The Ability to Finance Reasonable Closing Costs – On many VA loans, the closing costs are negotiated into the sales price and the seller pays them. This feature can significantly reduce the cash a veteran needs to buy a home.
  3. More Understanding with Regards to Credit Challenges – In an effort to help those who served us, lenders are more liberal towards hiccups in credit.
  4. Common-Sense Look at Income – Rather than approve loans strictly by income ratios, VA mortgages incorporate what is called Residual Income. There is a form that actually budgets all expenses (not just housing) to account for family size, heating and electrical usage, and more.
  5. Financed Insurance Premium – The VA charges what they call a Funding Fee to set up a fund to reimburse lenders, should a default occur. The Funding Fee varies on loan terms and usage (consult your lender for exact costs), but the good news is that it is typically just added to your loan. Instead of paying thousands of dollars up front, you can pay $10-$50 a month in a higher payment.
  6. Refinancing Your VA Loan is Easy – Through the I.R.R.L. (Interest Rate Reduction Loan) Program, getting a better rate (if the market has better rates) does not carry with it all the verifications of income, credit, appraisals, and assets of other loans…and closing costs can be added into the loan! The logic is the VA is already “on the hook” and lowering the payment increases the likelihood of continued payments, so why not be as lenient as possible.

New Foreclosure Wave: What Will Be the Impact?

April 18th, 2012   by lisasheppard

We reported two months ago that foreclosures will significantly increase this summer as a result of The National Mortgage Settlement. This month, both Reuters (Americans brace for next foreclosure wave) and CNNMoney (Flood of foreclosures to hit the housing market) concurred. However, we believe this increase in distressed properties will have a much different impact on the housing market than previous increases for three reasons.

1. Demand Will Absorb Much of the Increase in Supply

The last wave of foreclosures entered the market as both consumer confidence and demand for housing was on the decline. That created an overhang of discounted properties that pushed down the prices on non-distressed homes. This new increase in foreclosures is hitting a different type of real estate market. Consumer confidence is stabilizing and the demand for housing is increasing. The impact on prices will be much less dramatic in most markets than it has been in the past.

2. Many Banks Are Doing Necessary Repairs and Renovations

Historically, the typical foreclosure has sold at a discount of 25-30% compared to non-distressed properties. The banks are finally realizing that they may soon own one or more of homes in any neighborhood. For that reason, we are beginning to see banks do the necessary repairs and renovations in order to garner a price closer to the value of non-distressed properties in the marketplace thereby lessening the impact on the value of surrounding homes.

3. Different Regions Will Bear the Brunt

Originally, many thought that the foreclosure fiasco was confined to the four ‘sand’ sates (CA, AZ, NV and FL). We now realize that cities like Chicago and Atlanta, along with many others, have also faced the burden of falling prices because of an increase in distressed properties.

This next ‘flood of foreclosures’ will have the largest impact in the judicial states that impeded the foreclosure process over the last few years such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. California, Nevada and Arizona will be impacted in a much less dramatic way than in the past.

6 Don’ts After You Apply For A Mortgage

April 12th, 2012   by lisasheppard

I learned a long time ago that “common sense is NOT common practice“. This is especially the case during the emotional time that surrounds buying a home, when people tend to do some non-commonsensical things. Here are a few that I’ve seen over the years that have delayed (and even killed) deals:

  1. Don’t deposit cash into your bank accounts. Lenders need to source your money and cash is not really traceable. Small, explainable deposits are fine, but getting $10,000 from your parents as a gift in cash is not. Discuss the proper way to track your assets with your loan officer.
  2. Don’t make any large purchases like a new car or a bunch of new furniture. New debt comes with it, including new monthly obligations. New obligations create new qualifications. People with new debt have higher ratios…higher ratios make for riskier loans…and sometimes qualified borrowers are no longer qualifying.
  3. Don’t co-sign other loans for anyone. When you co-sign, you are obligated. With that obligation comes higher ratios, as well. Even if you swear you won’t be making the payments, the lender will be counting the payment against you.
  4. Don’t change bank accounts. Remember, lenders need to source and track assets. That task is significantly easier when there is a consistency of accounts. Frankly, before you even transfer money between accounts, talk to your loan officer.
  5. Don’t apply for new credit. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a new credit card or a new car, when you have your credit report run by organizations in multiple financial channels (mortgage, credit card, auto, etc.), your FICO score will be affected. Lower credit scores can determine your interest rate and maybe even your eligibility for approval.
  6. Don’t close any credit accounts. Many clients have erroneously believed that having less available credit makes them less risky and more approvable. Wrong. A major component of your score is your length and depth credit history (as opposed to just your payment history) and your total usage of credit as a percentage of available credit. Closing accounts has a negative impact on both those determinants of your score.

The best advice is to fully disclose and discuss your plans with your loan officer before you do anything financial in nature. Any blip in income, assets, or credit should be reviewed and executed in a way to keep your application in the most positive light.

What It Means To Be an ‘EXPERT’ in Real Estate

April 9th, 2012   by lisasheppard

 

If you are either buying or selling a home in today’s market, you need a real estate expert. However, we must realize what the term ‘expert’ actually means. An expert in any area cannot give perfect advice as no one can predict the future. But they can give excellent advice based on their insight into their field.

If you go to an attorney with a legal challenge, he/she will look over your case and give you your options. They realize they cannot guarantee the outcome of any of the options. Still, they give the best advice possible and allow you to decide the option with which you feel most comfortable. They then will put together a strategy which hopefully will bring about the most favorable conclusion.

If you go to a doctor with a serious ailment, he/she will give you your options and work with you to develop the best treatment program. They cannot guarantee any program’s success. They will, however, monitor your progress and adjust your treatments or medications. They will stand next to you until the best result is achieved.

Real estate is no different. A true real estate professional will understand your options and simply and effectively explain them to you and your family. Once you chose an option, they will strategize a plan to help you accomplish your goals. They will standby you as the process evolves and will help you make the necessary adjustments if necessary.

They cannot see the future any better than doctors or attorneys and thus their advice will never be perfect. However, just like those other professionals, an expert agent will give you excellent advice that will bring about the best possible outcome.

The 4 C’s of Mortgage Underwriting

April 5th, 2012   by lisasheppard

With Spring upon us, and new buyers out looking for houses, I thought today might be a good time to review the basics of what lenders look for as they decide to approve (or deny) mortgage applications. For at least 25 years, I have heard them called “The 4 C’s of Underwriting”- Capacity, Credit, Cash, and Collateral.  Guidelines and risk tolerances change, but the core criteria do not.

CAPACITY

CAPACITY is the analysis of comparing a borrower’s income to their proposed debt. It considers the borrower’s ability to repay the mortgage. Lenders look at two calculations (we call ratios). The first is your Housing Ratio. It simply is the percentage of your proposed total mortgage payment (principal & interest, real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance and, if applicable, flood insurance and mortgage insurance – like PMI or the FHA MIP) divided by your monthly, pre-tax income. A solid Housing Ratio (often called the front end ratio) would be 28% or less; although, at times loans are approved at a significantly higher number. That’s because your front end ratio is looked at in conjunction with your back end ratio.

The back end ratio (referred to as your Debt Ratio) starts with that mortgage payment calculation from the Housing Ratio and adds to it your recurring debts that would show up on your credit report (auto loans, student loans, minimum credit card payments, etc.) without taking into consideration some other debts (phone bills, utility bills, cable TV). A good back ratio would be 40% or less. However, loans sometimes are granted with higher debt ratios. Understand that every application is different. Income can be impacted by overtime, night differential, bonuses, job history, unreimbursed expenses, commission, as well as other factors. Similarly, how your debts are considered can vary. Consult an experienced loan officer to determine how the underwriter will calculate your numbers.

CREDIT

CREDIT is the statistical prediction of a borrower’s future payment likelihood. By reviewing the past factors (payment history, total debt compared to total available debt, the types of monies: revolving credit vs. installment debt outstanding) a credit score is assigned each borrower which reflects the anticipated repayment. The higher your score, the lower the risk to the lender which usually results in better loan terms for the borrower. Your loan officer will look to run your credit early on to see what challenges may (or may not) present themselves.

CASH

CASH is a review of your asset picture after you close. There are really two components – cash in the deal and cash in reserves. Simply put, the bigger your down payment (the more of your own money at risk) the stronger the loan application. At the same time, the more money you have in reserve after closing the less likely you are to default. Two borrowers with the same profile as far as income ratios and credit scores have different risk levels if one has $50,000 in the bank after closing and the other has $50. There is logic here. The source of your assets will be examined. Is it savings? Was it a gift? Was it a one-time settlement/lottery victory/bonus? Discuss how much money you have and its origins with your loan officer.

COLLATERAL

COLLATERAL refers to the appraisal of your home. It considers many factors – sales of comparable homes, location of the home, size of the home, condition of the home, cost to rebuild the home, and even rental income options. Understand the lender does not want to foreclose (they aren’t in the real estate business), but they do need to have something to secure the loan against, in case of default. In today’s market, appraisers tend to be conservative in their evaluations. Appraisals are really the only one of the 4 C’s that can’t be determined ahead of time in most cases.

Now, each of the 4 C’s are important, but it’s really the combination of them that is key. Strong income ratios and a large down payment with strong reserves can offset some credit issues. Similarly, long and strong credit histories help higher ratios….and good credit and income can overcome lesser down payments. Talk openly and freely with your loan officer. They are on your side, advocating for you and looking to structure your file as favorably as possible.

National Housing Survey 2012

April 4th, 2012   by lisasheppard

Each quarter, Fannie Mae releases their National Housing Survey. They survey the American public on a multitude of questions concerning today’s housing market. We like to pull out some of the findings we deem most interesting each time it is released. Here they are for the most recent report:

84% of the general population believes that owning a home makes more sense than renting.

The Most Important Reasons to Buy a Home

When we talk about homeownership today, it seems that the financial aspects always jump to the front of the discussion. However, the study shows that the four major reasons a person buys a home have nothing to do with money. The top four reasons, in order, are:

  1. It means having a good place to raise children and provide them with a good education
  2. You have a physical structure where you and your family feel safe
  3. It allows you to have more space for your family
  4. It gives you control of what you do with your living space (renovations and updates)

The Home as an Investment

Though most people purchase a home for non-financial reasons, everyone realizes there is a money component to homeownership. Here is what they said on this issue:

  • § 63% of the general population believes that homeownership is a ‘safe’ investment.
  • § 53% believe that homeownership has more potential as an investment than any other traditional asset class.

Rent vs. Buy

We are always interested in the difference people see in renting vs. owning.

  • § 64% of renters have aspirations to someday own their own home
  • § 70% of renters think that owning is superior to renting

Bottom Line

Our belief in the value of homeownership grows each time this survey is released.

Housing Market: About to SPRING Back

April 2nd, 2012   by lisasheppard

 

We believe that 2012 will be the year that home sales start to climb again. Over the past thirty days, more and more experts are saying the same thing.

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase CEO

“I believe we’re very close to the inflection point. People look at prices that are still coming down but all the other signs are flashing green… You could come up with a pretty bullish case (for housing).

Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist

“Even the housing market is showing some signs of shaking off the depression-like conditions that have plagued it for much of the past few years.”

Goldman Sachs Group

“Stabilization in U.S. housing fundamentals is creating an attractive investment opportunity. Many of the ingredients are in place for continued improvement in housing.”

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist

“If activity is sustained near present levels, existing-home sales will see their best performance in five years. Based on all of the factors in the current market, that’s what we’re expecting with sales rising 7 to 10 percent in 2012.”