How It Works, Your Mortgage File

Homeowner’s Insurance Claims

Here are some photos of a recent storm that dumped over 40 inches of snow on our communities.

lead-south-dakota, lots of snow, deep snow

Storm

This fall storm caught mother nature off guard.

The trees hadn’t dropped their leaves and the wet, heavy snow wreaked havoc. Only a few hours into the storm and it sounded like hunting season.  Popping echoed everywhere as branches collapsed under the weight.  They landed on the sidewalk, roofs, cars, and across power lines.  Over 25,000 people lost power. Some for days.

Our neighbor’s roof buckled under the weight and a failing roof truss split the sheet rock .

Another noticed a sagging, brown spot on the ceiling.  A few days later contractors punched holes there and drained three gallons of water.

Flat commercial roofs collected thousands of pounds of weight.  This structure wasn’t up to the challenge.

TMone

Only months earlier, hail stones like these punched holes in roofs and shattered glass.  They dinged siding and destroyed gutters.

hailstones

Home damage sickens us.  We’re much happier shoveling snow than working with contractors and insurance companies.  Not to mention  tangling with our mortgage servicer over insurance money.

When you have a lien on your property the lender has a vested interest in making sure your home gets repaired.

Why?

Let’s say your roof caved in and three foot of snow now rests in your kitchen. To top it off, it melts and drips through your sub-floor creating a swimming pool in your basement.

You are uninsured, owe a significant amount on the home, and don’t have savings to cover the damage.

So, you default and walk away from the home leaving the lender with a soggy, worthless piece of collateral.  A lose, lose.

Now, let’s say you are insured.  Your insurance company will foot the bill.  Better news, you’ll be getting a new kitchen!

But, the check is made out to you and your lender which disgusts you.  They need to endorse it in which case they’ll hold the money.

Contact the servicing department right away.  Ask them what steps you need to follow.  They’ll want all kinds of information like a contractor estimate, lien releases for work complete, and inspections.

Be patient with them, especially if they are responsive and good natured.  Like you, they are protecting their collateral.

Do they have a right to hold your money? 

Most mortgages have a clause that allows the lender to control these proceeds.  You are better off learning what their expectations are upfront to avoid frustrations down the road.

In any event, button up and stay warm this winter.

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Quick Tips, Your Mortgage File

Quick Point #1 Co-Signer vs. Co-Borrower

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Mortgage Quick TIp

Co-signer and co-borrower are not synonymous.  There is a difference.

A co-signer is responsible for repayment of the mortgage note but otherwise has no ownership interest in the property.  While a  co-borrower is also responsible for the debt  they do have ownership interest in the property. This means they are on title to the home.

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How It Works, Your Mortgage File

A number of mortgage questions crop up during a divorce. I remember working with a married couple on the purchase of their first home. They were excited, giddy almost, about this purchase. Three months later I listened as he explained the situation. It was going to end badly and he wanted options.

Another time, a young unmarried couple moved to the area and couldn’t stand the thought of renting. What a waste of money. Nearly a year later she was on my phone, desperate to stay out of forclosure.

I’ve seen it all to often. Each time questions come up:

  • Both of us are on the loan. Can I get the loan in just my name without a refinance?
  • Why can’t I just take my spouse off the title?
  • What happens if I can’t qualify for a refinance?

Unless neither side wants it, the home is awarded to one party. In each situation, the divorce decree will outline who was awarded the home, how the equity is split, and the timeframe necessary to complete these changes.

Let’s tackle the questions.

Both of us are on the loan. Can I get the loan in just my name without a refinance?

Typically, no. The note is a contract which obligates both parties to repay the loan. A refinance is required. You must be able to qualify for the loan under your own financial strength. Once you close on the new loan, the old one will be paid off, removing your spouse from obligation.

Why can’t I just take my x-spouse off the title?

The title or deed is the document that tells us who owns the property. The loan note tells us who is obligated to the debt. The mortgage connects it all together. Make sense?

Think of it this way: Ownership vs. Obligation.

So, removing someone from title eliminates their ownership interest but does not relieve them from their obligation to repay the debt.

Typically, it’s a tradeoff: One party refinances, the other party agrees to sign a quit claim deed to remove any ownership interest.

What happens if I can’t qualify for a refinance?

This is usually the hardest question to answer. A number of things will happen if you are unable to refinance.

Note: A finalized divorce decree is required to complete a refinance transaction. This means a court approved, recorded document. Nothing short of this will work. Divorce situtaions are complex and the terms constantly change until the judge signs and stamps the document.

Run the gamut of options with your lender. There are a lot of programs out there including some tempoary solutions. Be cautious and weigh your options. Tempoary loans like adjustable rate mortgages might offer a solution but will they fit your long term goals?

Try to find a co-borrower. A parent or sibling might strengthen the loan if they are willing take the risk for you.

If you are unable to qualify for a refinance within the required timeframe, you might end up listing the home for sale. If this happens, keep your head up. There will be many good things headed your way.

Remember, good memories are the only invaluable real estate. You’ve got this!

Divorce . . Nasty Business

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How It Works, Mortgage Philosophy, Your Mortgage File

A Good Loan Officer

Recently, I was asked to evaluate the qualities of a successful loan officer. The timing could not be better. I had just read an article about pain borrowers experienced during the mortgage process.

Loan officers catch flack when things go wrong. And why shouldn’t they? He is the face of the transaction and deserves to bear the burden when things go wrong. When ‘closing-in-thirty’ turns into sixty, when the appraisal comes in low or when interest rate jumps, the loan officer takes the verbal beating.

Boiled down, the best thing a loan officer can do is set the right expectations. This is a paradox because he might be afraid to tell the whole truth else you’ll stomp over to the competition.

I know!

I’ve been that loan officer and I have the bruises to prove it.

It doesn’t end that way if it starts out right. You can take a part in that if you know what to look for.

Ready?

–knuckle crack–

Let’s begin with some words

  • Pushy
  • Vague
  • Promises
  • Chatterbox

Now – let’s tear it down:

PUSHY! “This rate is the best you’ll ever see”. “We need to secure money for the appraisal, let’s get started now”. “You need to sign this so we can get things started”. You feel more rushed than the last time you opted to self checkout in Walmart.

Stop! A loan officer is an adviser, not a used car salesperson (sorry, no euphemisms here). You need someone who will take it slow, work out the details. This is a HUGE transaction and it deserves patience and respect. It’s a relationship, not a one night stand (yeah, went there)

VAGUE! You know things were unclear in the beginning, but now you have a pen in your hand and things are still gray. The dotted line stares up at you and a zillion questions bounce around your head.

Stop! A loan officer is teacher. She will take your hand and guide you gently through a maze of foreign terms, complicated disclosures and options. You know she cares because she’s patient, repeats without hesitation, and spends time explaining. She WANTS you to understand. This is a BIG deal!

PROMISES! “This loan is no problem”.  “We won’t need anything else from you”. “We’ll get you closed in twenty days”.

Stop! A good loan officer is a coach. Without scaring you, she will outline a plan of events and what you can expect to encounter. She will also know that issues might come up. Heck, she might even ask for patience because this process is complex, time consuming and arduous   But,she’s your advocate and will work with you. Yes, you might need to provide additional documents, have patience, and need to vent. She’ll communicate and explain and together you’ll get through it.

CHATTERBOX! Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The loan officer that won’t stop talking. He is more interested in sharing his life and you struggle to laugh at those lame jokes. Maybe if you just sign the application he’ll shut up.

Stop! A loan officer is as good as your counselor. She listens to your needs, works with your situation and helps find solutions. She wants to know about you! How else can she fit you into the right product. You should be the one talking!

Let’s end with some words:

  • Adviser
  • Teacher
  • Coach
  • Counselor

Next time you’re sitting in front of a loan officer, measure him!

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