Should I Stay or Should I Grow? – Bringing Clarity and Objectivity to the “Move-Up Buyer” Decision Making Process in Uncertain Markets

If Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measured uncertainty and indecision in the housing market, the government would be reporting record numbers right now. And while all homebuyers and sellers are affected by this uncertainty, its most debilitating effects are likely with “move-up buyers “who have the need, wherewithal and desire to buy a bigger home. Powerful motivators notwithstanding, these buyers find themselves lacking not only the confidence to make a decision, but, perhaps more importantly, the basic framework for identifying and evaluating the relevant factors. Armed only with a vague sense of potential further declines in real estate values, the decision to wait is all but inevitable. And all it takes is next month’s Case-Schiller Index to reflect even a fractional decline in housing values to “validate” the prudence of procrastination.
The problem, of course, is not that the decision to wait is necessarily the wrong decision, but that any decision of this magnitude affected by a complex interplay of variables requires a more thoughtful analysis than is typically brought to bear. Absent this, the potential for further declines in real estate values is twice over-weighted in the decision-making process, once when considered in isolation (since the netting effect of the reduced value of the buyer’s current home is rarely explicitly considered) and again when considered in relationship to other offsetting factors such as the potential for increased financing costs if interest rates increase. This latter factor is more difficult to quantify, yet often more consequential to the long-term implications of the decision because its effects are operable over a much longer period of time (assuming a typical 30 year mortgage) and over a larger component of the equity equation (assuming that a significant portion of the purchase is financed).
The good news is that through the magic of Excel, a thorough analysis that properly considers all of these factors can be achieved with limited effort or specialized know-how. With minimal data, a potential move-up buyer can quantify their assumptions about real estate and interest rate trends, provide specific data about the current home’s equity and future home’s target price and immediately see the implications on future equity of buying now, vs. waiting for the market to “hit bottom”. Armed with better information, these buyers can move beyond a reflexive paralysis to a more nuanced and informed decision based upon all of the relevant factors.

Figure 1: Annual Trends - Real Estate down 3%, Int Rates Up 1/2%

Figure 2: Annual Trends – Real Estate Down 5%, Int. Rates Up 1/2%

A Picture Paints A Thousand Words

These two charts illustrate the estimated net equity in a new home under two different sets of assumptions over a 10 year period. In both charts, interest rates are expected to increase by a modest ½% per year over the next two years while real estate values are expected to decline 3% and 5% per year in Figures 1 and 2, respectively. While this analysis alone will not (and should not) be compelling for every buyer, it does clearly show that a modest increase in interest rates will create a greater drag on equity within the first 5 to 10 years after purchase even under very pessimistic real estate pricing trends. Buyers who anticipate being in their new home for at least 5 years may very well be empowered to buy the home they’ve been dreaming about since 2007.

Want your own copy of the Move-Up Evaluator?  Click on the link below.

Want to know more?  Click on the screencast link below for a guided tour.

Move-Up Evaluator

Posted in Realtor / Buyer Tools, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Does A Short Sale Affect Your Credit Score?

by Blue Water Credit…………7-13-11
I am often asked what the impact of a short sale or foreclosure is on a credit score. Unfortunately, there is no straight-forward answer. This is such a difficult question to answer simply because it depends on a variety of factors. In general, a short sale or foreclosure will affect your credit score 85-160 points. Many mistakenly believe, or are misinformed, that a derogatory credit event such as a foreclosure is somehow worse than a short sale. In the world of credit scores, however, both of these events look the same way; the customer did not pay as agreed.
What Is A Credit Score?
A credit score is the statistical prediction of one’s likelihood to pay late over the next two years. The higher the score, the less likely one is to have a late payment. The bank then uses this number to assess the amount of risk involved with lending someone money. Banks are a lot like a casino in a sense, they like to place bets where they feel they will win.
Be aware that there are multiple credit scoring models. Some of the credit scores in these models go up to 990. While there are multiple formulas for calculating credit scores, the formulas introduced by the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) are the most widely used. This score ranges from 300-850. Fair Isaac recently released a report stating that credit scores are affected nearly the same whether you go through a foreclosure or short sale. The report stated that the average points lost on a FICO score are as follows:
• 30 Days Late = 40 to 110 Points
• 90 Days Late = 70 to 135 Points
• Foreclosure = 85-160 Points
• Short Sale = 85-160 Points
• Deed-in-lieu = 85-160 Points
• Bankruptcy =130 to 230 Points
How Are Short Sales Reported To The Credit Bureaus?
FICO does not differentiate between a foreclosure and a short sale. Further complicating matters, lenders don’t have a uniform standard as to how they report a short sale to the credit bureaus. Some lenders report short sales as “settled as agreed” while others may report it as “account legally paid in full for less than the full balance.” In some cases, if the account is more than 120 days past due, the short sale will automatically show up as a “foreclosure” on the credit report. Both a short sale and a foreclosure will report on your credit for seven years from the date of first delinquency.

How to Maximize Your Credit Score during a Short Sale or Foreclosure

Since the number of delinquent accounts is factored into the score, try not to let any other accounts become late or delinquent (if possible). The second largest factor of your credit score is your debt ratio (the limit of your credit cards compared to the balances you carry) try not to let your balances exceed 30% of the limit. Only apply for credit when absolutely necessary. Do not close your credit cards. If you are able to do all of these things you will be back into the 700’s before you know it.
Credit scores play a large factor in our lives, but ultimately we have many other priorities that are more important. Credit, like many other things, will be healed over time.

Jeff Sipes
Blue Water Credit LLC
300 Harding Blvd. Suite 208

Posted in Credit, Foreclosure / Short Sales | Leave a comment

Excellent (If Wonkish) Forward-Looking Analysis of the Mortgage/Housing Crisis

Just passing on some good work by the Amherst Securities Group.

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American Dream Pie – My Tribute to the Mortgage Broker

American Dream Pie

A long, long time ago,
I can still remember
How the money used to make a pile.

And I knew if I had my chance,
That I could whoop those bankers’ pants
And beat their rates and service by a mile.

But Ben Bernanke made me shiver
And Dodd and Frank were co-conspirators
Lobbyists on their door step
Big banks’ cash in their clips.

And I can’t remember if I cried when I
Read the press’ dittoed lies
But something touched me deep inside
The day, the broker died.

So bye, bye mortgage brokers who tried
To compete with mammoth lenders
Who had Ben on their side
And consumers started wondering why the rates got so high
Instead of lower on the day brokers died
Lower on the day brokers died

Did you write the banking laws
Replete with central planning flaws
Cause Obama told you so

Do you believe in cost control
Can government save your mortgaged souls
And can you teach my how to recover real slow

Well I know the banks are in bed with Ben
They brought, golden sacks in covered wagons
With power to abuse,
It’s a regulation ruse.

I was an independent mortgage man
With a heart to serve
And a ton of fans
But that was all before the ban
They day, the broker died

We were singing (Refrain)

I met a girl who sang the blues
Her house now gone to a deed in lieu
The banker smiled as he took it away.

It’s written in the sacred lore
How brokers could’ve helped her more
Till Ben said that the brokers
Couldn’t be paid.

And in the streets, the children screamed
For bailout debts would be theirs it seemed
Not a word was spoken
The growth engine was broken.

And the three that I admire the most
Father Son and Holy Ghost
Are still my only hope and boast
On this day, the broker died.


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Recent Short-Sale Not Necessarily a Barrier to New Financing

FHA Guidelines

What are the guidelines for borrowers with a short sale on a previous principal residence?
When a previously owned property was sold for less than what was owed (short sale), borrowers are considered eligible for a FHA insured mortgage if, as of the loan application date, all mortgage and installment debt payments were made within the month due for the twelve months preceding the short sale.Borrowers that were in default (e.g, late on payments) at the time of the short sale (or pre-foreclosure sale) are not eligible for three years from the date of the sale.  Borrowers who sold their property under the FHA pre-foreclosure sale program are not eligible for three years from the date that FHA paid the claim associated with the pre-foreclosure sale.

Lenders may make exceptions for borrowers in default at the time of short sale if the default was due to circumstances beyond the borrower’s control (such as death of a primary wage earner, long term uninsured illness, etc.); and the credit report reflects satisfactory credit prior to the circumstances (beyond the borrower’s control) that caused the default.

No Exceptions for “Strategic Defaults”
Borrowers who pursued a short sale agreement on their principal residence to take advantage of declining market conditions and purchase a similar or superior property within a reasonable commuting distance are not eligible for a new FHA insured mortgage.
For guidelines regarding treatment of existing principal residences converted to rental properties, see Handbook 4155.1 4.E.4.g.

ML 09-52
Handbook 4155.1: 4.C.2.I

FNMA Guidelines

Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure and Preforeclosure Sale

These transaction types are completed as alternatives to foreclosure. A deed-in-lieu of foreclosure is a transaction in which the deed to the real property is transferred back to the servicer.  A preforeclosure sale or short sale is the sale of a property in lieu of a foreclosure resulting in a payoff of less than the total amount owed, which was pre-approved by the servicer.

The following waiting period requirements apply:

Waiting Period Additional Requirements
Two years 80% maximum LTV ratios1
Four years 90% maximum LTV ratios1
Seven years LTV ratios per the Eligibility Matrix

 Exceptions for Extenuating Circumstances

A two-year waiting period is permitted if extenuating circumstances can be documented, with maximum LTV ratios of the lesser of 90% or the maximum LTV ratios for the transaction per the Eligibility Matrix.


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Purchasers After a Foreclosure Should Ask for the Homeowner’s Title Policy

Reposting and unfortunately all too relevant post from Dwight Bickel, Corporate Counsel for Ranier Title.

Did you know that some title companies do not offer the ALTA Homeowner’s Policy of Title Insurance after a foreclosure sale?  Purchasers who want the extra protection of that policy should shop around.  Other title companies are willing to provide that protection.

A purchaser after a foreclosure needs the extra protection of the Homeowner’s Policy of title insurance even more than usual.  For the same reasons that some title companies are not willing to issue it! 

There are many possible title problems lurking after a foreclosure.  Sometimes junior liens do not receive proper notice, so they remain enforceable against the property.  Sometimes there are errors in foreclosure procedures clouding the lender’s ownership.  The foreclosing mortgage companies and the foreclosure Trustees are not obligated to protect the purchaser against those risks. 

That is one reason I recommend to ask a different title company to search the title after a foreclosure.  A new title company is more likely to reveal problems due to that foreclosure. 

Purchasers do not receive normal deed warranties following a foreclosure or involuntary sale.  The seller will limit its liability for title problems by requiring the transfer by a quitclaim, “bargain and sale,” or “special warranty” deed.  Those deed forms do not promise the sale was proper or the property is clear of other liens.  Those deed forms do not protect the purchaser against possible boundary problems or against unrecorded labor or material liens due to recent work. 

The purchaser relies entirely on the protection of the new title insurance policy.  The standard coverage title policy is inadequate to protect against all those risks.

Every title company in Washington could issue a Homeowner’s Policy for transactions that are completed homes.  The form is available, but some companies refuse to issue it.  That policy form provides substantial protection against boundary problems, unrecorded lien rights, and a long list of risks related to the compliance of the home with easements, covenants, zoning and other matters.  The standard coverage policy that the seller will provide will not provide that protection.

The purchaser who understands these risks is likely to request the extra protection of the Homeowner’s Policy of title insurance.  An offer for property owned by the lender after foreclosure should designate that policy and state that the purchaser will pay the extra premium.  The extra cost to the purchaser for a $350,000 home would be $176.  

If the particular title company will not issue the Homeowner’s Policy, the purchaser is entitled to change to a different title company that is willing to provide the extra coverage.  Most rate schedules say there is no cancellation fee when the purchaser chooses a different title company that offers coverage the first company declines.

If the purchaser will pay the extra for the Homeowner’s Policy of title insurance and is obtaining purchase financing from a “federally-related mortgage lender,” Federal RESPA law says the purchaser has the right to designate a title insurance company that will provide that policy form. 

The HUD web site contains this section of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of the United States Code:  

Sec. 2608. Title companies; liability of seller

(a) No seller of property that will be purchased with the assistance
of a federally related mortgage loan shall require directly or
indirectly, as a condition to selling the property, that title insurance
covering the property be purchased by the buyer from any particular
title company.

(b) Any seller who violates the provisions of subsection (a) of this
section shall be liable to the buyer in an amount equal to three times
all charges made for such title insurance.

You also should know that the seller’s consent is not required.  The title insurance is entirely for the benefit of the purchaser.  The purchaser can always request an upgrade to the Homeowner’s Policy at the purchaser’s expense by an instruction to the escrow company.

When you write the offer to purchase an REO property, first obtain the Addendum that particular lender will require.  That will streamline your offer and give a better chance of approval.  On the Addendum, where it specifies the title policy, cross out where it says “standard coverage” title insurance policy, and writeHomeowner’s.”  The seller will not agree to pay, so I recommend buyer should also write, “The buyer will pay the extra premium.

Your offer will have a better chance of acceptance with these changes if you do not also change their designated title company.  Instead, you should write, “If that policy is not offered, buyer may designate a different title company.

If you are the selling agent for a purchaser seeking residential property after a foreclosure, inform the purchaser about these risks and ask if they want the extra protection of the Homeowner’s Title Policy.

For more explanation, you may want to read my prior blog posts:

The opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own (or Dwight’s, in this re-blogged post) and do not necessarily represent the views of Guild Mortgage Company.

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Buddy, Can You Spare a Million? – Mortgage Solutions for High Net Worth Borrowers

Pity the poor millionaire who needs a mortgage in the current lending climate.  You won’t find politicians creating special programs to alleviate their sufferings.  Of course, they don’t feel the pain in the same way as the common man, but, in many ways, the financial crisis has wreaked more harm upon the jumbo lending market than others resulting in much stricter underwriting guidelines, lower loan amounts (absolute dollar and as a percentage of the property value), higher credit score requirements, and higher interest rate spreads between non-jumbo and jumbo loan amounts.  Combine that with the disappearance of the high net worth borrower’s best friend (aka, the stated income loan) and you have a perfect storm of conditions that can frustrate an otherwise opportune time to purchase or refinance jumbo properties.

The good news is that there are ways to access the current excellent purchase and refinance opportunities that overcome the unique challenges faced by high net worth borrowers. Some are more creative than others (like the Asset Utilization loan), some are downright boring (like more informed, tax savvy underwriting), but, all can be reliable and prudent solutions to an otherwise challenging financing process.

Tax Savvy, Experienced Underwriting Often Eliminates the Need for Stated Income Treatment
Stated income loans have become symbolic of nearly all the housing woes over the past three years.  Nicknames like “liar’s loan” have supplied the necessary sound-bite flair to banish the once popular (and useful) product from the lending universe.  The reality, however, is that, (censurous nicknames notwithstanding), this loan has always been more of a lazy or ignorant loan officer’s loan than it was a liar’s loan.  For ethical borrowers and lenders, income was generally stated not because it was impossible to prove, but rather was difficult and tedious to do so for borrowers with complex financial profiles.  After years of little or no documentation requirements, many of these borrowers, loan officers and even underwriters have lost the ability of documenting complex income situations.  The solution for this problem is fairly straight forward; high net worth borrowers just need a more tax savvy brand of loan officer who thoroughly understands corporate and personal income tax reporting so that an optimized tax return (reflecting low income) does not necessarily need to conflict with favorable underwriting results.   


Asset Utilization Loan – Deemed Income from Liquid Assets
For the income challenged borrower, some lenders will allow documented liquid assets to create deemed income based upon an asset utilization formula.  These formulas vary, but one such program allows income of 4% of discounted asset balances annual income.  This income is added to the borrower’s other sources of income (including dividend and interest income from the same liquid assets) to determine the borrower’s capacity for the proposed loan.  Asset discounts are based upon the type of assets involved with 100% of cash, 70% of stock and 60% of retirement assets (if borrower is at least 59 ½ years old) allowed.  The chart below illustrates the benefit of this approach for a hypothetical investor with a $5 million portfolio. As you can see, for the right borrower, the income impact  can be substantial, resulting in wider borrowing opportunities.

Asset Type

Total Value

Discount Percentage

Discounted  Value

Cash, CD’s, Money Markets








Retirement (only if borrower > 59 ½)




Total value $5,000,000  


Less minimum asset requirement    


Allowed assets    


Deemed annual return    


Deemed annual income (add to other income, including dividends, interest, etc.)    



Trust Loans – Revocable, Irrevocable, Qualified Personal Residence Trusts, etc.
Another challenge somewhat unique to high net worth borrowers are loans for properties vested in irrevocable trusts.  Just about anyone can finance a property in your basic revocable living trusts, but these trusts are often insufficient vehicles for high net worth borrowers which require more complex trusts including (but not limited to) Qualified Personal Residence Trusts.  These trusts are frowned upon by Fannie and Freddie (which will only finance revocable trusts), so, borrowers who need to vest in these sorts of trusts have generally been limited to a handful of higher cost lenders with limited competition. The good news here is that the number of lenders that service these types of trusts has broadened and the processes for underwriting and funding such loans have become more consistent.  High net worth borrowers now have wider options for purchase and/or refinance opportunities without giving their CPA’s, estate planning attorneys and financial advisers a heart attack.

None of these solutions are going to be accessible or relevant to every high net worth borrower, but, for the countless borrowers and their advisers who have not evaluated their lending options over the course of the last year or so, a fresh analysis may yield surprising results.

The opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own and are not necessarily shared by Guild Mortgage Company.

Posted in Jumbo / High Net Worth, Uncategorized | Leave a comment