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Annette Levinson's Blog

By Annette Levinson | Mortgage Broker
or Lender in New York, NY
  • How to choose a Reverse Mortgage Professional

    Posted Under: Financing, Agent2Agent, Foreclosure  |  September 4, 2012 7:07 AM  |  217 views  |  No comments
    Six Steps to Selecting a Reverse Mortgage Professional

    You’re retired, have solid equity in your home, and have been seeing ads for reverse mortgage, or HECM (home equity conversion mortgage). You’re thinking this might be beneficial for you now. How do you go about choosing the right professional to assist you?

    Here are six guidelines for selecting a reverse mortgage originator (also known as a loan officer):

    #1: Experience. In any field, experience is primary, and nowhere is this more crucial than when it comes to your home and financial security. Ask how long the reverse mortgage professional has been doing this type of work, and note from their response whether he or she seems to enjoy it.

    A corollary to the above: is reverse mortgage lending all this person does? You want someone who has a passion for serving seniors, and who will be focused on you — not someone who’s dividing their time and attention between other types of loan activity. Because reverse mortgage is unique, it requires a dedicated specialist. After all, you wouldn’t consult a foot specialist for a hearing problem, right?

    #2: Education. Like other professions, the reverse mortgage field has licensing standards. An NMLS (Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System) number tells the consumer a reverse mortgage originator has “passed a background check,” so to speak, and is generally competent to handle loan transactions. Another measure of education is how well the professional knows the history of the reverse mortgage industry, and can explain how this impacts you as a potential borrower today.

    You’ll also want to ask about continuing education. Someone who has earned their CRMP designation — Certified Reverse Mortgage Professional (NRMLA) — has demonstrated superior knowledge and competency in the reverse mortgage field, and is dedicated to upholding the highest ethical and professional standards.

    #3: Reputation. Business, like life, turns on relationships. Ask your prospective reverse mortgage originator which professionals in the community can recommend them. Financial planners, elder law attorneys, CPAs and senior care providers are all good sources who can potentially speak to a loan officer’s reputation.

    #4: Resources. You want to be sure the company you choose can meet your needs. Ask whether they offer a variety of reverse mortgage products, such as both the Traditional (Standard) and “Saver” HECM, as well as fixed and adjustable loan rates. A full portfolio of products gives you more options for making the best choice for your specific situation.By the same token, ask, “How large is your organization?” While you don’t need to deal with a huge company, you do want the group you select to have a consistent track record of closing loans and handling consumer needs.

    #5: Service after the sale. A reverse mortgage, by its very nature, implies an ongoing relationship. Ask, “What’s your policy after the sale is complete? Will you be available to answer any questions I may have, and later for my children if they need help selling the house?” Ideally, the company you choose will have been around long enough to have assisted the families of those who’ve purchased a reverse mortgage, once it’s time to pay back the loan.

    #6: Planner vs. Product Promoter. As noted above, you’ll do best with a loan officer who cares deeply about seniors and is focused on the big picture: your income, your expenses, your health, how long you plan to remain in your home, etc. — all of which helps to shape the type of product you choose. A reverse mortgage professional whose first concern is senior service will be your partner in making a wise financial decision.

  • Can you buy a home when you have bad credit.

    Posted Under: Home Buying in New York, Financing in New York  |  June 11, 2012 2:56 PM  |  304 views  |  No comments
    Can you buy a home when you have bad credit? NO!!
    Your credit is an indication to the lender on the chances of you paying your mortgage. If you don't pay your bills now, why should the lender expect you to pay your mortgage on time?
    You need to learn how to pay your bills on time and help on setting up a budget. Non profit housing groups like the Neighborhood Housing Services of NY provide credit counseling services. A credit counselor will go over your credit report with you. They will explain what you are doing wrong and what you should do to correct it. This is not a service that negotiates your bills. You need to learn how to manage your expenses.
    When you pay your bills on time and stay within a realistic budget then your credit report will reflect it. Then you will be ready for the biggest purchase of your life-your home.
  • Can you afford to buy a home?

    Posted Under: Market Conditions, Home Buying, Financing  |  September 21, 2010 8:40 AM  |  638 views  |  2 comments

    Lawrence Yun, chief economist for NAR, wrote that homeownership is more affordable then ever. The average on affordability was 118 for the last 40 years. By the end of the year it is expected to be 200. The higher the number the more affordable is homeownership.
    Why is homeownership more affordable? Prices of homes have come down and mortgage rates for a 30 year fixed is the lowest ever. My parents bought a house in 1959 and paid an interest rate of 5.9%. That makes it lower then it has ever been in my memory.
    Current rates for a 30 year fixed rate are around 4.50%. Couple that with a down payment requirement of 3.5% of purchase price, a home purchase costs the same as moving into a rental. The seller is allowed to pay closing costs. Once in a home, interest, mortgage insurance and real estate tax is deductible from your income. For many people it means a savings of 25% or more in taxes owed on those amounts. Often the net cost is lower then rent.
    With homeownership you often get a larger residence. You also have the ability to make changes to the residence to make your life easier or the changes enchance your feelings. It now makes sense to use the long form for your tax returns and with that you find more items you are allowed to deduct from your taxable income. This means more savings for you especially if you live in a state with income tax (not to mention NYC which also has an income tax).
    If you are a renter can you really afford to not buy a home?
  • Homeownershipis more affordable then ever

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Financing  |  August 26, 2010 1:05 PM  |  539 views  |  No comments

    I often hear complaints about the cost of owning a home-its too expensive-I don't make enough money. Here on Long Island, land of high real estate taxes, it only takes income of $70,000 to buy a $208,000 house with a FHA mortgage. I think that is very affordable! With home prices and mortgage rates down a home is more affordable then ever before. And I have not even taken into consideration the tax advantage. Every dollar you spend on mortgage interest, real estate taxes and mortgage insurance is deducted from your taxable income! That means Uncle Sam is helping you make the payments. Owning a home also means you are using the long form for your income tax, which means you can now deduct other items from your taxable income. How much to you give to charity last year? Well when you own a home, Uncle Sam is paying part of that charitable contribution. Due volunteer work? You can deduct mileage you put on your car for the volunteer work. And it goes on. It would be foolish not to buy a home in this market.  
  • Is a second mortgage cash out?

    Posted Under: Financing  |  August 11, 2010 4:03 PM  |  276 views  |  No comments

    FHA announced that they will consider second mortgages taken out after purchase was a cash out. What that means to the homeowner looking to refinance with FHA, they can only receive a 85% loan to value. That means if your house is worth $200,000 the highest mortgage you can get in a refinance is $170,000 (if you have a second mortgage taken out after you purchased your home). Not very helpful if you owe $180,000 and your home value has gone down these last 2 years. Is this how the Obama administration is helping Americans?
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