Tag Archives: insurance

Review your homeowner’s policy

It’s that time of year again: time to review your homeowners’ insurance policy.

Wait—you don’t typically do that? There are many reasons why you should give this important policy an annual review, particularly if you made changes to your home during the past year.

Here are some tips regarding what to look for when you do your review. Continue reading

FHA aid to high-priced homes should drop

FHA aid to high-priced homes should drop

Insurance should benefit first-timers, lower-income buyers, George Washington University report says

“The widely used FHA mortgage insurance program should return to its roots of helping primarily first-time and lower-income buyers, say two economists from the George Washington University business school.

“FHA is serving a market — higher-income borrowers — that it has not traditionally served,” say Robert Van Order and Anthony Yezer. “To the extent there is a subsidy involved in FHA insurance, it is not clear that taxpayer dollars should be used to serve these borrowers. There is no obvious purpose achieved by encouraging purchases of homes with $700,000 mortgages and less than 5 percent down payments.”

FHA — the Federal Housing Administration — has increased its mortgage insurance coverage since the housing bubble burst in 2007 and subprime loans evaporated…”

Read more of Union Tribune’s article here: “FHA aid to high-priced homes should drop”.

What’s in a mortgage payment?

What’s in a mortgage payment? This infographic breaks down a mortgage payment into P.I.T.I. – principal, interest, taxes, insurance. When you’re buying a house, keep informed about how much that home will cost you, based on how much you put down and whether or not you will need to pay mortgage insurance.

mortgage paymentsThis mortgage payment-related infographic is from mlsmaps.com.

Factoring energy efficiency into a home’s value

Under the SAVE (Sensible Accounting to Value Energy) Act, estimated energy-consumption expenses for a house would be included as a mandatory new underwriting factor.

When you apply for a mortgage to buy a house, how often does the lender ask detailed questions about monthly energy costs or tell the appraiser to factor in the energy-efficiency features of the house when coming up with a value?

Hardly ever. That’s because the big three mortgage players — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration, which together account for more than 90% of all loan volume — typically don’t consider energy costs in underwriting. Yet utility bills can be larger annual cash drains than property taxes or insurance — key factors in standard underwriting — and can seriously affect a family’s ability to afford a house.

energy efficientA new bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill could change all this dramatically and for the first time put energy costs and savings squarely into standard mortgage underwriting equations. A bill introduced Oct. 20 would force the three mortgage giants to take account of energy costs in every loan they insure, guarantee or buy. It would also require them to instruct appraisers to adjust their property valuations upward when accurate data on energy efficiency savings are available.

Titled the SAVE (Sensible Accounting to Value Energy) Act, the bill is jointly sponsored by Sens. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, and Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia. Here’s how it would work: Along with the traditional principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) calculations, estimated energy-consumption expenses for the house would be included as a mandatory new underwriting factor.

For most houses that have not undergone independent energy audits, loan officers would be required to pull data either from previous utility bills — in the case of refinancings — or from a Department of Energy survey database to arrive at an estimated cost. This would then be factored into the debt-to-income ratios that lenders already use to determine whether a borrower can afford the monthly costs of the mortgage. Allowable ratios probably would be adjusted to account for the new energy/utilities component.

For houses with significant energy-efficiency improvements already built in and documented with a professional audit such as a home energy rating system study, lenders would instruct appraisers to calculate the net present value of monthly energy savings — i.e., what that stream of future savings is worth today in terms of market price — and adjust the final appraised value accordingly. This higher valuation, in turn, could be used to justify a higher mortgage amount.

For example…

Read the rest of this article is by the Los Angeles Times: “Factoring energy efficiency into a home’s value“.

Mortgage Modifications are a Mess

You have probably heard about the robo-signing fiasco and the fact that mortgage modifications are grinding to a standstill. We’re also seeing foreclosures occur after a modification has been approved–even occasionally when borrowers have the ability to make the payments. The whole process is a mess, and according to a top federal regulator, major U.S. banks are about to be penalized for “critical deficiencies” and shortcomings in their handlings of foreclosures.

One of the problems is that it is in loan servicers’ best interest to stall a foreclosure or modification.  This is because they can continue to charge fees while they’re servicing the loans. They charge fees for paying taxes, sending payments to the investors after receipt from borrower, maintaining records, etc.–and those “nickels and dimes” add up.

Having gone through the modification process firsthand, I can confirm that the process is daunting at best. The most painful part was when I had to pay 11% interest on my $400,000-first mortgage when the loan was adjusting at one point; only to have the bank tell me (on multiple occasions over a three-year period) that I either made too much money…or not enough. I went to court to stop a threatened foreclosure, but I still had to pay the ridiculous interest until my modification was approved.

While I won the victory of a modification, every situation is different. Like probably many of you, I’m still upside-down on the property, but at least I’ve lowered my payments while I await the market’s recovery.

In the interim, the Controller of the Currency and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has put sanctions on the banks, as I mentioned above, but the sanctions barely amount to a slap on the wrist. The reality is that the regulating agencies have a history of negatively impacting borrower’s rights rather than protecting them. So where does this leave you if you are fighting to keep your homes?

My personal experience has inspired me to grow my expertise in this area so that I can help others. No American should be subject to the whims of the system, and no American family should lose their home because of the negligent practices of a third party. If you need help fighting through the process, give me a call. I’ll stand by your side.

John A Silva