Before Closing a Loan

Do's and Don'ts before closing_Blossman

My partner and I are being foreclosed on. Why did I get served with papers when I am not on the note, just on the deed?

The note is the obligation to pay, so it sounds like your partner may have to wage that battle alone. However, everyone that may have an interest in the disposition of the property will typically be served when the lis pendens is filed. That would include all of the parties on the deed, the HOA or condo association, second lien holders, etc.

It is not too late to structure a short sale just because you were served with foreclosure documents. In most cases, a short sale is the best option for the owner and lender. Please call us direct for more details.

As always, please visit us at or for questions, email us at


How do we know if it’s best to get a 15 year fixed rate mortgage or a 30 year fixed rate one?

If you can easily afford the 15 year payment, do it. Not only do you pay the loan off much more quickly, but you will receive a lower interest rate as well. This serves to create a dynamic that will result in a much accelerated equity build up and a more financially favorable monthly payment.

As an example, a $250,000  mortgage at 4.25% for 30 years would result in a monthly payment of $1,230.  That same loan amount at 3.5% for 15 years would result in a monthly payment of $1,787. Then consider that over the life of the loan, the 30 year option would result in total monthly payments of $442,800 vs $321,697 in the case of the 15 year. That’s $121,103 in savings!

For more info, please visit us at or email us at

Ed & Terri Smith, Broker Owners
RE/MAX Coastal Properties
850-837-5500 x1




What’s the best way to raise my credit score when applying for a mortgage?

Improving your credit (FICO) score quickly can be akin to turning a battleship on a dime. It can be difficult. The time to begin credit score management is months before you make loan application.

However, a good loan officer can help you get “re-scored” based on errors and certain changes, but generally speaking, paying your bills on time and keeping outstanding debt levels low are the key items considered in determining your overall credit score. And, do not close accounts that you’ve successfully paid off. Available unused credit is good for your score as well!

For more on this topic or for a list of great local loan officers, please email us at

Risk Determines Rate

Regardless of what a lender quotes on mortgage rates, the actual rate paid by a borrower is based on a number of variables. Lenders determine whether to loan money and at what rate based on the risk involved with the transaction.

Factors that increase the risk that the loan will be repaid will proportionately increase the interest rate charged to the borrower. If the risk becomes too high, the loan will not be approved. Some of the most important considerations:

Loan amounts – conventional loans for more than the conforming limits set by Fannie Mae are considered jumbo loans and generally have a higher interest rate. Many loans in the Destin and South Walton markets exceed those limits.

FICO score – the lowest interest rate is reserved for the highest credit scores; the lower the score, the higher the rate borrower will pay.

Occupancy – borrowers occupying a home as their principal residence are considered a better loan risk than second homes and investment properties.

Loan purpose – purchase transactions generally have the lowest interest rate while refinancing a home is often higher. Real estate purchases for use as second homes or for investment (as is so common for this market) will command a higher interest rate and higher down payment requirements as well.

Debt-to-Income ratio – a borrower’s monthly liabilities divided by their gross monthly income develops a ratio that helps lenders to assess the borrower’s ability to repay the mortgage.

Loan-to-Value ratio – the lower the percentage of the loan to the appraised value of the property will generally lower the interest rate.

Any combination of these factors could limit a borrower’s ability to secure a mortgage at the rate initially quoted. Being pre-approved by a trusted LOCAL mortgage professional is the best way to know what rate you can expect to pay. We say local because many properties in this market are considered non-warrantable. Only certain lenders have investors for properties so designated. The “banker back home” is unlikely to have any sources for financing properties in Florida. Please call us for recommendations!

How long after a short sale can I qualify to buy a new home?

The answer depends upon which type of financing you wish to pursue. After completing a short sale as a seller, for example, VA and Conventional (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) mandate a two year wait. Another arm of the federal government, FHA, mandates three years.Non-conforming products such as that for jumbo and condo loans can be almost anything, depending upon the individual investor. From what we are seeing in the market though, non-conforming loan investors are requiring waiting periods of somewhat longer than that of the government sponsored loans. We have seen waiting requirements for non-conforming loans of from five to seven years. You may also expect higher than average down payment requirements.

To be on the safe side, short sale sellers should be prepared to face greater levels of credit scrutiny for a period of up to seven years after the successful completion of a short sale.

Will the proposed Cap and Tax legislation require extensive energy upgrades on home resales?

The National Association of Realtors (NARissued a “Myths and Facts” memorandum with regard to HR 2454. Fortunately,  this bill only indicates that federal funding would be offered as incentives for owners of existing properties to voluntarily improve the energy efficiency of their structures:
HR 2454 does not require that buildings be energy retrofitted. Idoes however provide for federal funding to states in order that they may offer financial incentives, such as loans or grants, to property owners who voluntarily improve the energy efficiency of their propertyThere are guidelines and conditions to meet in order to receive funding and also with regard to exactly how states may spend the money. Some type of verification that the energy improvements have been properly made will be required to help ensure against fraud
In sum, at least at this point, there are no point-of-sale guidelines or any other such requirements of any sort. Of course, this bill has only been passed by the House. It must still be passed by the Senate and then signed by the President to become law. It may not happen at all. Time will tell.

Q: When does the $8,000 new buyer tax credit expire?

The new buyer tax credit applies if you are a first time buyer and close on a primary residence between January 1st and December 1st 2009.  However, a bill has just been introduced that would not only raise the tax credit to $15,000, but would also make the credit available on any primary residence purchase, even if not the case of a first time buyer. The bill would also eliminate the current income ceilings of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples.

How will this new Fannie Mae home refinance program work?

Unfortunately, the program referred to as “Making Home Affordable” (MHA) will not benefit many homeowners in this market. Call me a cynic, but I believe that the scope of this program is so narrowly focused that very few homeowners will be able to qualify. 


The reason is that area depreciation (like so many others) has been severe. This program will not allow you to refi more than 5% above the current value of your home. As an example – Say you had put 10% down on a home in 2005. If that home has now depreciated by 25%, you would be 15% “upside down”, or 10% above the qualification threshold. 


Look at it another way:


$300,000   –  Purchase price in 2005


$  30,000   –  Down Payment


$270,000   –  Mortgage Balance


$225,000   –  Current Value (25% less than original purchase price)


$236,250   –  Maximum MHA refi loan amount (5% above current value)


As you can see, there is a difference (deficit) of $33,750 between the existing mortgage balance and the amount that could qualify for a MHA refi.


This program equates to typical government fuzzy math.  It’s like putting lipstick on a pig – It sounds cute but it does not accomplish much 🙂





New rules raise the bar for condo mortgages in Florida

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New rules raise the bar for condo mortgages in Florida

Lending giant Fannie Mae is slapping tough new requirements on mortgages for Florida condos, moves that analysts believe will make it even more difficult to sell units in buildings already starved for residents and struggling financially.The standards, which took effect last week and apply only to Florida, include requiring that no more than 15 percent of a building’s unit owners be delinquent on association fees as a condition of funding home loans to new buyers.

Fannie Mae buys the majority of home loans from lenders, so it wields significant power in the making of mortgages. Fannie-backed loans generally offer the best rates and lowest down payments for borrowers.

The company, wracked with financial problems of its own and in conservatorship with the federal government, said it singled out Florida after a review of its mortgage loans revealed record-high default and foreclosure rates among condo owners. It also cited the excessive number of condos listed for sale, which has driven down prices.

The new rules come at a time when condo buyers already face difficulties getting mortgages. Many banks over the past two years have dramatically pulled back on condo lending, requiring down payments of up to 40 percent in new buildings. Some lenders even have blacklisted condo buildings, citing a high risk of price declines and defaults.

Fannie Mae’s timing ”couldn’t be worse,” said Jack McCabe, a South Florida real estate consultant who believes the region is mired in a housing depression. “This is effectively going to make it much more difficult to qualify.”


The new conditions include:

• No more than 15 percent of unit owners can be 30 days or more past due on association fees.

• For new condo buildings and condo conversions, at least 70 percent of units must have been sold or put under contract. That’s up from 49 percent previously.

• Fannie will have to review condo buildings itself to make sure they meet Fannie requirements — at the lender’s expense. Before, Fannie relied on the lenders to perform these reviews.

Charles Foschini, vice chairman of debt and equity finance for brokerage CB Richard Ellis in Miami, said Fannie was protecting investors, borrowers and taxpayers, as it should in a climate of increased risk.

Borrowers will benefit, he said, by knowing they are moving into a condo complex that is adequately funded and has plenty of reserves, allowing them to predict their monthly expenses.

”From the taxpayer’s perspective . . . the quicker we can instill sounder underwriting practices for mortgages for Fannie or anyone else the more confidence we’ll have in the market,” Foschini said.


But many condo buildings won’t meet those requirements, meaning the buildings most in need of bringing in fresh buyers will increasingly have trouble doing so.

Sharon Dodge, president of the condo association at The Venetia, a 30-year-old building next to the Venetian Causeway in Miami, said about 32 percent of unit owners were past due — more than double Fannie’s new rules.

She described the rules as ”driving the nails in the coffin,” just as the association is making headway on collecting delinquent payments and when sales were finally picking up.

”To have the major source of loans draw a line through us is terrible; it’s wrong and it shouldn’t happen,” Dodge said. “The feds can’t pull the rug out from under us.”


McCabe estimates as much as 25 percent of the market in the tri-county area will be shut out of Fannie-funded financing.

Peter Zalewski, whose Condo Vultures realty specializes in bulk sales of distressed condos, said his figures show that as many as 41 new buildings between the Julia Tuttle and Rickenbacker causeways, and from I-95 to Biscayne Bay, may be ineligible for Fannie Mae approval because they don’t meet the new 70 percent ownership threshold.

”It’s devastating,” Zalewski said.

Fannie is not the only source of funding for lenders who want to make condo loans. But John Bancroft, executive editor with trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance, said No. 2 mortgage guarantor Freddie Mac typically follows Fannie Mae’s lead and would likely implement Fannie’s guidelines soon.

The two companies owned or backed nearly $900 billion in new home loans in 2008, more than two-thirds of the market overall. Ginnie Mae is the major guarantor for FHA and VA loans. Few new buildings had been able to meet FHA certification requirements either, Zalewski said.


Because few lenders are holding loans in their own portfolios, the Fannie vacuum could create new opportunities for cash-rich buyers who will be able to command even greater discounts, predicted Grant Stern, principal broker of Miami-based Morningside Mortgage.

”Fannie Mae declared Christmas for hedge funds who want to buy bulk in these buildings, but it’s leaving everyday investors and people who want to buy for their own personal use in the dust,” Stern said.

Stern added the restrictions further exemplified the self-fulfilling, cyclical nature of the credit crisis because Fannie’s action would bring about further price declines, more foreclosures and potentially more losses for the company.

”It starts with fear, then a reaction. Then the reaction causes that fear to occur, which then confirms the fear and causes a further negative reaction,” Stern said.

© 2009 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.