Category: ‘Saving Money’

Real Estate Time Bomb

January 30, 2014 Posted by Andre Hemmersbach

If you regularly read financial periodicals, you will come across articles from financial experts on doomsday scenarios. Many times they are motivational pieces focused on selling you something to “protect” you against the awaiting catastrophe; other times it is a true warning by an expert that sees something very disturbing. The Dotcom Bust, the Asian Currency Crisis and even our 2008 Real Estate Bubble all had warning signs and experts who correctly predicted the financial disaster.  Today’s popular pending Armageddons are the Student Loan Bubble, the T-Bill Bubble and in the real estate sector a warning about Equity Lines of Credit (ELOC).

If you were a homeowner in 2004 – 2008 you were receiving multiple free offers for ELOC with low payments and teaser rates. Many homeowners took advantage of those freebies and started using their home equity like credit cards to buy everything from automobiles to vacations. In hindsight these mortgage instruments have been pretty good deals. Historic low-interest rates over the last 5 years and the tax benefits associated with the ELOCs have made this a very cheap method to finance any purchase.

Unfortunately, most homeowners do not understand the mechanics of their ELOC. Many times the promissory note they signed ten years ago was never read, explained or maybe just forgotten.  A quick explanation of how an ELOC works will help you understand the time bomb lurking in the shadows.

98% of all ELOC have a 10 year draw period. During this time you can use your line like a credit card to buy goods and services. After the 10th year starts the 20 year repayment period begins (a few ELOCs have 15 year repayment periods).  All ELOC have an index and most are based on the prime rate (currently 3.25%). Lenders use an index to make sure that they receive an interest rate that is commensurate with current market conditions. To the index rate the lender adds a margin (the Bank’s profit) usually 0.0% to as high as 3.0% or more. Check your Promissory Note or with your servicer to find your margin. Every month the lender adds the index rate to the margin and divides by 12. This is the monthly rate you are charged on your outstanding balance. These loans do not contain any sort of periodic cap to protect you from quick interest rate increases month over month. A lifetime interest rate cap of 18% is standard.

So where is the potential powder keg? As the 10 year draw and interest only periods are coming to close, borrowers will get notices of their mortgage payments increasing as their ELOC change to  fully amortizing loans. The amount could be startling for some homeowners! For example, an $85,000 balance, which is pretty typical of what I see on my customer’s loan applications, at a current rate of 4.25% (3.25% Prime Rate plus a 1.0% margin) has an interest only payment of $301.04 this would go to $526.35 on a 20 year repayment. But that’s not the whole story! Understand that we are at historically low rates. In the past the Prime Rate has been above 8% seven times since 1970 and at 8.25% as recently as September of 2007. So let me run those numbers on a balance of $85,000: Current payment interest only $301.04, new payment with rates at 9.25% (Prime Rate 8.25% plus a 1.0% margin) would be $778.49 for a 20 year repayment. If your ELOC has a 15 repayment your new payment would be $874.82. That is a payment increase of $573.77 or 191%

Please do not misconstrue that I am predicting an 8.25% prime rate anytime soon, but recognize that homeowners who have ELOC s with larger balances need to be aware of potential payment increases and how it could affect them.

If I can help you figure out how your ELOC will adjust and the steps you can take to minimize the impact please call me at my office. 310 540 1330.

How does your credit score measure up?

December 13, 2013 Posted by Andre Hemmersbach

Every once in a while I will get a customer that wants to know how his score compares to the average person. So I did a little research and was surprised to find out that credit scores were not dispersed as I had thought.

Your credit score is a numerical reflection of the quality of your credit based on statistical logarithms developed by some brainiac math geniuses that will not release the exact formula they use. But the generalities break down like this:

Payment history, length of credit history, recent inquiries, number of accounts and used credit vs available credit. For more on how credit scores are generated and how you can raise your score see How a credit score is figured

Back to credit score averages. Statistically, I was expecting to find a bell-shaped curve where the majority of people are in the middle and that either end of the spectrum (lowest and highest scores) would have less people. Apparently credit quality is fairly even across the board. See the chart below to see how you compare.

Its important that you know your credit score and that it accurately reflects your credit history as generally speaking the higher the credit score, the more likely you are to be offered better credit terms.

If I can be of any assistance in educating you about your credit score in preparation of buying your home, please call me.

 

 

Anatomy Of Your Credit Score

November 23, 2013 Posted by Andre Hemmersbach

A Credit Score is a number that ranks a consumer’s credit risk based on a statistical evaluation of information in the consumer’s credit file. In layman’s terms, it’s a number that represents the risk that you will default on a loan, using your prior payment history and other factors as a benchmark. Statistically speaking, the higher your credit score number the less likely the lender will experience delinquencies or a default on your account. Different industries use different credit score products. For instance mortgage lenders rely on FICO or the Fair Issac Credit Company score to determine your credit risk level for home loans. A car dealer and a credit card company may rely on different credit score products. Each mathematical algorithm used to calculate credit scores is unique and extremely complex, so the information below is a simple explanation of how a FICO credit score works.

A FICO score is based on five different weighted factors as presented in the pie chart below:

The most common question I hear about a borrower’s credit score, is how to quickly increase the borrower’s representative score, so that we can get the borrower approved for a home loan. Sometimes we can also quickly improve a score to get a client a better rate and fee combination. The basics for increasing your credit score are all related to the weighted factors in the chart above and have to do with:

  • Correcting any delinquent payment histories that are incorrect.
  • Paying off account balances.
  • Rearranging account balances.

We have tools available by which we can create a plan that actually allows us to try different credit scenario fixes and measure the resulting credit score improvements. This new tool has already saved many of our clients time, money and frustration and is not available through your standard mortgage conduits. If you are looking to purchase a home in the next six months I would highly recommend a free credit consultation to make sure you have the best possible chance of getting the lowest interest rates on your mortgage.

Finally, when dealing with credit score issues it’s best to get help from someone who understands how credit scores are figured.  Attempting to raise your credit score yourself could be counterproductive as simple mistakes made during the process can actually decrease your credit scores delaying or making your home loan more expensive.  Please call me if I can help you.

Historical Low Rates Are Still Available

October 31, 2013 Posted by Andre Hemmersbach

Even with the rate increases from May, mortgage rates are at incredible levels of which prospective borrowers should take advantage. Twenty years from now people will be talking about how they should have bought back in 2013 and financed using 4.0% interest rates, just like they talk about how they should have bought that piece of property back in 1990!

Click link at the bottom if you wish to review on a larger format.

Basics of Negotiating with Collection Agencies

May 10, 2013 Posted by Andre Hemmersbach

These simple tactics work on unsecured debt only, mainly credit cards to include department store cards, medical bills and bounced checks. You cannot negotiate on Liens, Judgments and other items.

Remember you always want to negotiate for removal of the derogatory item.

  • An old unpaid collections account is far better for your credit score than a recent paid collection account.  A paid collections account is a negative mark on your report, therefore always negotiate for the removal of the derogatory item!

There are two basic methods to negotiate with collection agencies.

First of all you will want to negotiate with a manager, not some customer service rep as they usually don’t have the authority. It’s also important to only work with them via written letters or email so you have a paper trail.

1)      Payment in Full. Let’s say you have a $500 debt with an agency. Offer them $200 to settle the debt and to have the item removed from the Big Three (Trans Union, Equifax and Experian). They have probably only paid pennies on the dollar so trust me, they are profiting and willing to work with you most of the time. Do not let them simply update the item to a paid collection or paid account.

2)      Set up a payment plan. If you don’t have the cash on hand offer to make monthly payments  which you can afford and make sure to get the agreement in writing! It can be a simple written contract which states that the collection or derogatory rating will be removed after the agreed upon amount is paid in full.

If you have any questions regarding this or any other tips on increasing your credit score please call me.