Category Archives: Real Estate

Better Late than Never – U.S. Credit Scores Drop

It's a tragedy that the U.S. Credit Downgrade has not happen sooner.  I mean the state of the economy as it is – well, is just pitiful.  Even though this credit downgrade is "official", there is expected to be little impact on the direction of interest rates.  

So what does this mean to us?  I think we are still at status quo.  It is all a matter of time and consumer confidence in the market.  Until then, those of us who are doing deals are just plain lucky.

New CFPB Disclosures Make Understanding Loan Details Easier

Know Before You OweGuest Author Scott Stevenson, President of Northwest Title.

I’ve been celebrating that new form smell over at Northwest Title. Finally – finally! – a piece of legislation has prompted a change that will benefit consumers. The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act required several changes, one of which included the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The bureau’s primary goal is to create transparency for consumers to make sure they understand exactly what they’re getting— and what it’s costing them — when they’re borrowing funds. One of the most important components of the new disclosure will help consumers understand the true cost of the loan terms and rate they obtain.

Lenders will be obligated to explain loan terms in more detail, which should lead to better-informed consumers and (hopefully) a reduced risk of default. The impact on our industry is primarily in making sure we comply with the CFPB requirements. There will be some expense involved, but the uniformity it will bring to all lenders is good for consumers.

Thanks to these disclosure requirements, consumers may finally see clear and more complete information that will help them make better decisions when choosing a mortgage lender. The new form, which will combine the Truth in Lending Act disclosure with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Good Faith Estimate (HUD-GFE), has already generated a lot of interest. The CFPB introduced two prototypes that received a whopping 13,000 comments from consumers and industry professionals.

After analyzing the comments and feedback, the CFPB has now entered the second phase of the process, focusing specifically on explaining closing costs to consumers more clearly. The CFPB has introduced two designs, Redbud and Dogwood, incorporating the analysis from round one. They are seeking feedback on how well the two forms communicate the information to consumers.

There are some very helpful sections to the forms. One section that I particularly like is the “loan estimate” section, which projects payments over time. The other section that should help consumers make more informed decisions is the “cautions” section that warns the consumer about features of the loan that could cause payments to increase (like an adjustable rate).

The big question, of course, is whether all of these improvements to the disclosures will actually make a difference in the way consumers shop for a lender. My view? Probably not. People want to own homes, and they’ll stick with the first lender who tells them they can make it happen. And, even with the improvements, there’s still a lot of detail and complexity to the form .

In Closing…

Even if consumers don’t do a lot of homework when they’re finding a lender, the new CFPB-compliant forms will help consumers understand the terms of their loan repayment and whether or not there are any prepayment penalties or other unusual elements to the loan. The forms also make it more likely that consumers will engage in meaningful dialogue with loan officers and seek more clarification before committing.

Scott Stevenson

Are you really ready to sell?

Recently, I had a client lower their price dramatically and within the week we were in contract.  I firmly believe that a home is sometiems not selling because the price is not within what the buying market will bear.  Ten Signs Your Home Might Be Overpiced is a wonderful article for real estate clients who are selling to read because it goes into some of the most common mistakes that sellers make when pricing a property.

The biggest question for sellers should be "What do I want out of this deal?".  All I can do to answer if what you want out of the deal is feasible is to look at the data in front of me.  Sometimes, it just takes putting the property on the market first to see what the buyers have to say or not say and then adjust the price.  What other means of control do you have?  

Ultimately, you cannot change: 

  • the location of your property,
  • the values others have bought similar properties, 
  • the minds of the buyer market.

Are you really ready to sell?