Buffalo Maritime Festival


The 2nd Annual Buffalo Maritime Festival is September 19-21, 2014. Featuring the US BrigNiagara, Tug DeWitt Clinton, USCG Response Boat Medium, and our own Spirit of Buffalo! The three-day festival is sure to be fun for all-ages with boat tours, kids’ activities, food & beverage, a beer garden, live music, & much more! Admission is free!
Please check out directions and parking information for Canalside! (**Note that “Canalside 2 hour street parking” will be closed during the Buffalo Maritime Festival). If you have any questions about parking or directions to Canalside, please contact us.

Friday September 19
Festival open 3:00 pm-8:00 pm
Time Event Details
3:00 PM* US Brig Niagara is welcomed to Canalside with a boat parade Watch from the Boardwalk as theNiagara sails into Canalside with a boat parade!
3:00PM – 8:00PM Food & Beverage, vendors open, beer tent open Featuring food trucks, & Clinton’s Dish as well as West Marine and RCR
3:00PM – 6:00PM Imagination Playground with Explore & More Children’s Museum Build n’ Play Fun with Explore & More – FREE
4:00PM – 6:00PM Day sail on the Spirit of Buffalo For more info and tickets visitSpiritofBuffalo.com

5:00PM – 8:00PM Live music on stage Featuring thePointless Brothers Band and The Canal Street Mariners!
*Note that the Brig Niagara’s arrival time is approximate and can vary based on weather, winds, & other factors out of Canalside’s control. Stay tuned to our Twitter page for the most up to date information on the Niagara’s arrival time!

Saturday September 20
Festival open 10:00 am-10:00 pm
Time Event Details
10:00AM- 6:00PM Deck tours of the US BrigNiagara Tours are $7 Adults and $5 for Children 12 & under (purchase advance tickets here)

10:00AM– 6:00PM Tours of the Tug DeWitt Clinton& the USCG Response BoatMedium Tours of the DeWitt Clinton and Medium are FREE
10:00AM– 10:00PM Food vendors, Beer garden open
10:00AM– 5:00PM Buffalo Saturday Artisan Market
Shop nearly 30 local artisans and enjoy live music & entertainment on the Boardwalk!
10:00AM– 6:00PM Rowboat Rentals with the Buffalo Maritime Center
$10 for 30 minutes, available in the Historic Ruins/Commercial Slip area!
11:00AM– 5:00PM Kids maritime crafts, activities, & face painting Enjoy arts & crafts, face painting & more on the Dart Lawn for FREE
11:00 AM Boat Building Demonstration Join the Buffalo Maritime Center in the Historic Ruins for free boat building demos!
1:00 PM Children’s Maritime Parade Prizes for best costumes & goodie bags for the first 100 participants! For more details, click here.

2:00PM– 4:00PM Buffalo Maritime Chowder Competition: Red, White, & Other! The public is welcome to participate: either as a contestant or taster- only $2 for a tasting ticket! For more details,click here.

3:30PM– 4:30PM Children’s musical performance: Susie Rozler Susie Rozler performs the “Erie Canal Show” on the Dart Lawn- FREE!
5:30PM– 9:30PM Live music on stage Featuring Jack Mahone, The Truth, & more
6:00PM– 8:00PM Evening Sunset Sail on the Spirit of Buffalo For more info and tickets visit SpiritofBuffalo.com

8:00 PM Adult Maritime Costume Contest Dress as your favorite Maritime-themed character- pirates, mermaids, sailors, etc. Prizes for best costume. For more details, click here.

Sunday September 21
Festival open 10:00 am-6:00 pm
Time Event Details
10:00AM- 6:00PM Tours of the US Brig Niagara Tours are $7 Adults and $5 for Children 12 & under (purchase advance tickets here)

10:00AM– 2:00PM Tours of the Tug DeWitt Clinton& the USCG Response BoatMedium Tours of the DeWitt Clinton and Medium are free
10:00AM– 2:00PM Food & merchandise vendors open Featuring Clinton’s Dish as well as West Marine and RCR
10:00AM– 6:00PM Clinton’s Dish beer garden open
10:00AM– 2:00PM Kids maritime-themed arts & crafts tent Enjoy free maritime arts & crafts under the tent!
10:00AM– 6:00PM Rowboat Rentals with the Buffalo Maritime Center
$10 for 30 minutes, available in the Historic Ruins/Commercial Slip area!
11:00AM– 1:00PM Live Music on stage The Heenan Brothers
12:30PM– 2:30PM Day sail on the Spirit of Buffalo For more info and tickets visit SpiritofBuffalo.com

6:00PM – 8:00PM Evening Sunset Sail on the Spirit of Buffalo For more info and tickets visit SpiritofBuffalo.com

Monday September 22
Time Event Details
1:00PM- 7:00PM Public sail on the US BrigNiagara 6 hour immersive educational sail on the Brig Niagara. This is not a luxury cruise! Ages 12 & over only. For more information and tickets visit US Brig Niagara‘s site.
6:00PM – 8:00PM Evening Sunset Sail on the Spirit of Buffalo For more info and tickets visit SpiritofBuffalo.com

Posted in Local Info | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Fall Lawn Care Tips

Although spring lawn care gets all the attention, fall lawn care is the make-it or break-it season for grass.

“I’m already thinking about next year,” says John Dillon, who takes care of New York City’s Central Park, which features 200 acres of lawn in the middle of Manhattan. “The grass I grow this fall is what will be there next spring.”

Fall lawn care is no walk in the park. It’s hard work, and Dillon guides you through the four basic steps.

1. Aeration
Aeration gives your lawn a breather in autumn and provides room for new grass to spread without competition from spring weeds. Aeration tools pull up plugs of grass and soil, breaking up compacted turf. That allows water, oxygen, and nutrients to reach roots, and gives seeds room to sprout.

If kids frequently play on your lawn, plan to aerate twice a year — fall and spring. If your lawn is just for show, then aerate once a year — and maybe even once every other year.

A hand-aerating tool ($20), which looks like a pitchfork with hollow tines, is labor-intensive and meant for unplugging small sections of grass. Gas-powered aerating machines (rental, $20/hour) are about the size of a big lawn mower, and are good for working entire lawns. Bring some muscle when you pick up your rental: Aerating machines are heavy and can be hard to lift into your truck or SUV.

Depending on the size of your property, professional aeration costs about $150.

2. Seeding
Fall, when the soil temperature is about 55 degrees, is the best time to seed your lawn because turf roots grow vigorously in fall and winter. If you want a lush lawn, don’t cheap out on the seed.

Bags of inexpensive seed ($35 for 15 pounds) often contain hollow husks, weed seed, and annual rye grass seed, which grows until the first frost then drops dead. Splurge on the good stuff ($55 for 15 pounds of Kentucky Bluegrass seed), which resists drought, disease, and insects.

Water your new seed every day for 10 to 20 days until it germinates.

3. Fertilizing
A late fall fertilization — before the first frost — helps your grass survive a harsh winter and encourages it to grow green and lush in spring. Make your last fertilization of the year count by choosing a product high (10% to 15%) in phosphorous, which is critical for root growth, Dillon says.

Note: Some states are banning phosphorous-rich fertilizers, which are harmful to the watershed. In those places, look for nitrogen-rich fertilizers, which promote shoot and root growth. Check with your local extension service to see what regulations apply in your area.

4. Mulching
Instead of raking leaves, run over them a couple of times with your mower to grind them into mulch. The shredded leaves protect grass from winter wind and desiccation. An added bonus — shredded leaves decompose into yummy organic matter to feed grass roots.

A mulching blade ($10) that attaches to your mower will grind the leaves even finer.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/lawns/fall-lawn-care-tips/#ixzz3DE5wJQu2. Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

Posted in General Interest | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Ways to Spruce Up Your WNY Home with Staging

Studies have suggested that staged homes sell faster, and as such, more sellers may be willing to give it a try.
So what are some staging ideas for sprucing up your WNY property?
Thomas Rouse, a design producer at “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” offered the following tips in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.
1. Paint: A fresh coat of paint in a neutral palette can be an inexpensive upgrade with big impact.
2. Have furniture but don’t clutter: Don’t leave rooms empty because potential buyers may struggle to visualize what all you can do with the space. Also, Rouse suggests avoiding furniture with patterns, which can be distracting.
3. TV artwork: Mount a flat-screen TV to a wall and have a slideshow playing on it with images of nature, Rouse suggests.
4. Fill the walls: Don’t leave walls bare, which can make a home feel cold, according to Rouse. Hang photography, framed artwork, and mirrors to spice up the walls.
5. Flower displays: Have fresh-cut flowers in simple glass vases displayed on the dining room table and in other places in the home to bring more life to a space, Rouse says.
6. Gender-neutral bedrooms: Keep bedroom colors neutral and have simple bedding — preferably in white — to make a room feel fresh, Rouse says.

Posted in General Interest | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Role of the Builder

A lot of people don’t understand the sheer complexity of the builder’s job and the systems required to build a house from scratch.

Many analogies have been used to describe the professional builder: the conductor of an orchestra, the captain of a ship, even a general executing a military campaign. The point is that the builder is the one who must coordinate the innumerable players and products needed to transform a set of two-dimensional drawings into a finished home. The builder has to make sure that everything happens just when it’s supposed to, and that the end result is exactly what the clients envisioned.

Ideally, this responsibility begins well before the first shovel breaks ground. One advantage to choosing a builder early in the design process is that the builder can make sure the home can be built in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Bringing on a builder at this early stage can yield significant cost savings.

Once the plans are complete, the builder has to work with local zoning and code authorities to secure the proper permits. Professional builders have a thorough understanding of building codes, as well as good working relationships with local authorities. This is another big plus to hiring a pro: the building department is likely to scrutinize more closely a permit application submitted by a homeowner, or even by a small building company, than one submitted by an established professional contractor with a
reputation for solid management and quality work.

Professional builders also have close relationships with quality subcontractors. And because the builder is a source of ongoing work for those contractors, prices offered to the builder will likely be less than prices offered to anyone else.

Once the project is under way, the builder’s management skills really make a difference. These skills include:

  • Keeping the job on schedule by ensuring that all workers and materials show up at exactly the right time. Construction timetables can change quite often, with causes that range from bad weather to late deliveries. The time and organization required for the builder to constantly adjust everyone’s schedules is something homeowners seldom see.
  • Overseeing the job to guarantee that all trades deliver quality work. The builder knows enough about each specific trade, and has a good enough relationship with each subcontractor, to make sure things get done right. For example, if it’s too cold to pour a concrete slab, the builder will have the knowledge and authority to put it on hold even if the concrete contractor is tempted to move ahead.
  • Solving and preventing problems. A new custom home is an extremely complex undertaking with a million things that can go wrong—and that will go wrong without a skilled and experienced person in the lead. Having a professional builder in charge of solving problems takes a lot of stress off the homeowners.
  • Completing the punch list at the end of the project. Everyone has heard horror stories of unprofessional contractors who left a job with a list of small things undone. The professional builder has the resources to make sure that everything is complete before the key is turned over.

Finally, from start to finish the builder protects the homeowner by carrying the needed licenses and insurance policies and confirming that everyone else on the job is similarly covered.

Building a home is not a seat-of-the pants endeavor. Good builders have well-honed management systems for making it all happen. These systems are an important part of the professional builder’s value.

Warm regards,

Jim Mordeno, CGP

Mordeno Construction
2603 Love Road
Grand Island, NY 14072
(716) 773-5908 – Phone
(716) 773-6160 – Fax

jmordeno@mordeno.com
www.mordeno.com

Posted in Buyers, General Interest, Local Info | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Selling Your House? Get Ready for Inspection

By: Michele Lerner

You’ve prepared your house for sale, hired a listing agent and the marketing plan has succeeded so well that you have an offer on your home. All good news so far, but you still have a couple of challenges to face, including a home inspection.

No matter how much you know about the place you’ve occupied for the past few years or decades, a home inspector may find issues that your buyers will want you to address. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll ace your inspection, you can take steps to make it less likely that a home inspection will put an end to your sales plan.

Consider a Pre-Inspection

Depending on the age and condition of your home, you may want to schedule an inspection before you put your home on the market. If your home is relatively new and you’re not aware of any problems, you can probably skip this step; but if you have any concerns about your property, it could be worthwhile to spend $400 or so to hire your own inspector. Once the inspection is done, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing about potential problems and having the opportunity to address them on your own time, rather than under pressure from a buyer who wants work completed before the settlement date.

You can and should disclose to buyers any problems your home inspector finds and what you’ve done about them – whether you’ve made a repair, replaced an appliance or planned to offer a credit for the buyers so they can fix it their way.

Prepare for the Inspection

Regardless of whether you’ve had an inspection, your buyers are likely to hire their own home inspector. You can be helpful to that inspector in several ways, which is likely to make the inspector feel a little more favorable towards you and your home. That’s not to say that the inspector would overlook a serious problem, but perhaps he would lighten up a bit on some minor issues. Try these methods of buttering up an inspector:

Remove clutter:
You’ve probably started packing a bit, but it will help the inspector more if you empty the spaces beneath your bathroom and kitchen sinks and move any belongings that block access to your water heater or other appliances.

Get your paperwork together:
You should create a file with documentation of all maintenance and repairs
you’ve done on your home, including annual or semi-annual furnace inspections,
receipts for roof or chimney repairs and other inspections. If you’ve had an
insurance claim on your house, keep those papers together, too, so you can prove
that you took care of the problem.

Provide complete access to your home:
Make sure you unlock gates and doors to a shed or garage that don’t have
lockbox access. Move anything that’s blocking entrances to the attic, basement
or storage spaces.

Leave home:
Inspectors find it easier to do their work without the presence of the homeowners and, even more important, without your pets and children around.

Clean your house:
It won’t make a bit of difference if you have a leak, but a clean home gives the impression
that you take care of your property and so the inspector shouldn’t expect to find as many problems.

Leave the lights on:
Make sure your light bulbs work, especially in storage spaces or areas you don’t often
use.

The easier you make things for a home inspector, the more favorably disposed he’ll be toward your home.

Posted in General Interest, Sellers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why Use a Realtor®? 6 Important Reasons

By: Alex Cortez

Real estate is a big deal. For most Americans, a home is the most expensive purchase they’ll make in their lifetime. It’s a serious transaction with significant financial and emotional ramifications for the parties involved, and having proper representation is critical.

Today’s buyers and sellers agree. In 2012, a full 89 percent of buyers used a real estate agent, and so did 88 percent of sellers. Realtor® representation during a real estate transaction is important for both buyers and sellers.

Here are six of the chief reasons:

  1. Fiduciary responsibility. When you work with a Realtor®, their fiduciary responsibility is to you. That means you have an expert who is looking out for your best financial interests, an expert who’s contractually bound to do everything in their power to protect you. That’s big— the value of that commitment cannot be overstated. For more than 100 years,
    Realtors® have subscribed to the NAR’s strict Code of Ethics as a condition of
    membership, says National Association of Realtors® President Gary Thomas. Realtors® have the expertise and experience to help sellers protect their investment and help buyers build theirs.
  2. Complex, ever-changing real estate regulations. Buying or selling a home is not like purchasing a plane ticket. Every home is different, and laws change every year and vary from state to state. Generally speaking, people purchase a new home every 7-10 years, and a lot can — and usually does — change between transactions. Realtors® are immersed in real estate, and they must stay current with all the updates in regulations, laws, contracts and practices. Once you retain your Realtor®, they put that knowledge to work for you.
  3. Help finding the right home, beyond square footage and baths. Browsing online is a terrific way to start a home search —in fact, almost 90 percent of people start their home search online. But when it’s time to buy, knowing all the pros and cons of a property can help you make the right decision. Realtors® live and breathe real estate, and they can share information about a home that you wouldn’t otherwise know. For example, they can tell you about the perils of polybutylene piping (a plumbing material that’s prone to bursting), or the concerns with FRT plywood (a roofing material that can spontaneously combust in higher temperatures, like those in attics). Your Realtor® can go beyond the aesthetics and tell you important details about homes you’re considering.
  4. Pricing and selling a home. There are lots of sites where you can view price estimates for your home before you list it for sale, but you take a risk using them. In some markets, online estimates can be off by as much as 35 percent, and they often rely on tax records and data that can be as old as 6-12 months. Realtors® know the local market, have access to the freshest sale data, and can price your house in line with the market to maximize your earnings. In 2012, sellers using an agent got $40,100 more: The median sale price for the 88 percent of sellers who worked with an agent was $215,000, versus a median sale price of $174,900 for the 9 percent of sellers who didn’t use an agent.
  5. Contracts and negotiations. Finding the right home is the fun part. Then the real work begins. Today’s contracts can be 50 pages long — not counting addendums and riders. Realtors® can help you navigate these complex documents and craft an attractive offer that makes sense for you. Plus, when it comes to negotiation, your Realtor® is your advocate and can bring an objective voice to a very subjective situation.
  6. Following a code of ethics. When you work with a Realtor®, you’re partnering with a professional who operates according to a strict code of ethics. In place for over 100 years, the Realtor® Code of Ethics ensures that consumers who work with a Realtor® are treated professionally and ethically in all transaction-related matters.

Posted in General Interest | Leave a comment

With home buying, planning ahead will make the multiple-step process easier.

By Michele Lerner, Published: January 16, The Washington Post

If you’re planning in the spring to buy your first house, you already may be feeling a bit overwhelmed about what can often be a complicated and convoluted process. The good news is that you have plenty of time to learn the myriad steps to buying a home and getting prepared for the endeavor. Many experts say that — even before finding a real estate agent — the first things you should do are to get your finances together and to find a
lender who can get you prequalified and advise you on how much house you can buy.

Scott Davis, a senior loan officer at McLean Mortgage in Fairfax, says buyers should never start searching for a home without speaking first with a lender. This will help you avoid falling in love with a home you can’t afford. Plus, a lender can advise you on how to prepare for a mortgage application.

“Applying for a mortgage is actually counterintuitive,” Davis says. “Things that might be good for you financially can actually hurt your chances of getting a mortgage approved. For instance, some people think it’s really smart to take all their cash and pay off their debt, then close their current credit card accounts and open a zero interest card. The problem is, you won’t have enough cash reserves for a deposit, a down payment and an emergency fund. You’ve also dropped your credit score from 800 to 600 if those closed credit cards had a good payment history. Now your score is based on a history of about 30 days.”

Even before you contact a lender, there are a few steps you should take as far in advance as possible before making an offer on a home, including checking your credit, developing a budget, saving money and getting your cash in place.

Steven Cohen, vice president at First Place Bank in Rockville, says prospective borrowers should request their own credit report to check for errors. A 2012 Federal Trade Commission study found that 20 percent of all consumer credit reports have mistakes. You can get a free copy of your credit reports annually from AnnualCreditReport.com. You don’t have to get all the credit reports at once; you can request one from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian at different times of the year to keep on top of your credit profile. You can also pay a small fee to get your credit score.

“You should make sure that everything is reported correctly, such as any late payments that you actually made on time or a debt that you don’t actually owe,” says Craig Olson, vice president of mortgage operations at Pentagon Federal Credit Union in Omaha. “I had an account that showed up twice.”

Cohen recommends that each credit card account have a balance of less than 50 percent of the limit. He says it’s better to have two or three accounts with smaller balances than one card with a high balance. Your credit score will be higher if you limit your credit card balance to less than 25 percent of the limit.

Get your cash ready

Olson says first-time buyers often come to him without an idea of their own budget. He recommends sitting down for a few minutes at your computer or with pen and paper to draw up a quick plan that shows your income and expenses.

“You can find calculators online that can help you estimate what your payment will be under different scenarios,” Olson says. “You can use those numbers as a starting point and figure out your own comfort level with different payments.”

Depending on the loan program you choose, you’ll need at least 3.5 to 5 percent or more for a down payment, plus you may need cash for closing costs unless you can negotiate to have the seller pay those fees. You should have been saving for a down payment, but there are some other options for cash, such as a gift or borrowing from your retirement account if you’re employer allows it.

“Some people may be depending on gift money from their parents, but you need to get an idea of how much to expect,” Cohen says. “Someone may think they’re getting $20,000 when the parents are thinking $2,500.”

Davis says that Federal Housing Administration loans allow for the entire down payment to come from gift funds, but conventional loans require borrowers to have at least 5 percent of their own funds for the down payment.

“If you’re receiving a gift or moving funds from one account to another, you should put the funds into an account at least 60 days before you apply for a mortgage,” Davis says. “Lenders are required to look at two months of bank statements during the application process, so any money placed in your account earlier than that becomes your money and you don’t have to provide a source for the funds.”

Olson says that while you’re consolidating your funds, you should begin to gather the paperwork you’ll need for a loan application, including:

Two most recent W-2 forms.
Two most recent pay stubs.
Two months of bank statements.
Two months of investment/retirement account statements.
Two years of tax returns.

Consult a lender

Once your paperwork is in order, then you can meet with a lender to discuss your loan options. If you’ve already identified a real estate agent to work with on your home purchase, he or she can suggest several reliable lenders. You can also ask trusted friends and colleagues for recommendations and then interview two or three lenders.

“Interviewing a lender should be a lot like a job interview,” Davis says. “I think it’s important to have a face-to-face meeting because you need to find someone you can trust and form a relationship with. You can ask if they’ve worked with a lot of first-time buyers, but I think it’s more important to find someone you can trust to work with you regardless of your price range. You want to work with someone who’s driven by building a
relationship, not by earning a commission.”

A lender can help you wade through the options for various loan programs and then use your paperwork and loan application to preapprove you for a loan.

“Some lenders offer a ‘prequalification’ for a loan, which can be a good starting point for learning about the mortgage process,” Cohen says. “A prequalification is based on your verbal statements about your income and assets and an estimate of your credit score. A loan preapproval, which many Realtors require before they’ll work with a buyer, means that the lender has verified your credit, your employment, your income and assets, and determined how much you can borrow based on that information.”

The preapproval letter can be used as part of your offer when you’re ready to buy a home to prove that you can afford the property. Cohen says a preapproval letter is generally valid for three months and can be renewed with a quick update of your credit profile.

Loan programs

“There are a lot of factors that go into a loan approval,” Davis says, “which is why every prospective buyer should consult with a lender to see where they stand.”

Many first-time buyers opt for FHA financing, because this program requires a down payment of only 3.5 percent. While the FHA says borrowers must have a credit score of 580 or higher to qualify for a low-down-payment loan, most lenders require a minimum credit score of 620 or 640 or above, Cohen says.

“FHA loans are less popular now, though, because they carry heavy mortgage insurance that lasts for the life of the loan if you make the minimum down payment,” Cohen says.

Cohen says that a down payment of 20 percent is ideal because you won’t have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) and you’ll pay the lowest interest rates, particularly if you have good credit. He says borrowers with a credit score of 740 and above pay the lowest interest rates for conventional financing. Most conventional lenders offer loans with a down payment of 5 percent, although there are some special loan programs available with a lower down payment. Veterans Administration loans, available to
veterans, do not require a down payment.

In addition to your credit score, an important element of your loan qualification is your debt-to-income ratio.

The federal government’s new “qualified mortgage” rule, aimed at toughening standards to prevent another foreclosure crisis, “requires a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent,” Cohen says. “If you make $120,000 a year, your gross income would be $10,000 per month, so your maximum payments for your housing plus the minimum payment on all other debt, such as your car, credit cards and student loans, would have to be $4,300 or less.”

Home buyer programs

In addition to consulting a lender, most first-time buyers can benefit from taking a home buyer education class that helps them establish a budget and prepare for homeownership. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers a list of government-approved housing counselors that offer free programs; state and local governments also offer home buyer education.

The District, Maryland and Virginia offer home buyer assistance for down payment funds or low-cost loans, provided the buyers meet specific criteria. Some programs are limited by income or exclusively for first-time buyers.

A strong understanding of your finances is an important first step on the path to homeownership.

Mortgage terminology

Here are definitions of several terms you will encounter as
you confer with lenders :

Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM): A mortgage loan with an
interest rate that periodically changes.

Annual percentage rate (APR): The yearly interest rate paid
on a loan. Federal law requires that this rate is disclosed as part of the
truth-in-lending documents.

Conventional mortgage: A mortgage offered by a lender that
will probably be bought on the secondary loan market by Fannie Mae or Freddie
Mac; these loans have an upper limit of $625,500.

Federal Housing Administration (FHA): A government agency
that offers low-down-payment loans along with housing information.

Fixed-rate mortgage: A mortgage loan in which the interest
rate remains the same for the entire length of the loan.

Good faith estimate: An estimate of the entire cost of buying
a home, including all down payment, interest payments and closing costs
associated with a loan; to be provided by the lender within three days of a
loan application.

Jumbo loan: A mortgage loan above $625,500; these loans
sometimes carry a higher interest rate and require a higher down payment and
higher credit score than smaller loans.

Loan origination fee: A fee charged by the lender for
administering and processing the loan; also sometimes called a “point” and is
equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.

Mortgage insurance: Insurance that protects the lender
against loss if the borrower defaults on the loan.

Points: A fee charged by the lender equal to 1 percent of
the loan amount; points can be paid at the closing to lower the interest rate
on a loan.

Preapproval: A qualification for a mortgage by a lender
based on proof of your income, assets and credit score that states the maximum
loan that you can qualify for; final loan approval also requires an appraisal
on the property, which demonstrates that the value of the property is more than
the loan amount.

Prequalification: An estimate of your ability to qualify for
a loan given by a lender based on your credit worthiness, income and assets but
without a complete proof of all assets.

 

 

Posted in Buyers, General Interest | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Do you have a “Flip” Transaction?

What is a “flip?”
A flip is defined as a property that has been purchased for the purpose of quickly reselling at a profit.

FHA

Properties sold between 91 and 180 days after acquisition. A second appraisal by another appraiser is required if:

  •  the resale date of the property is between 91 and 180 days following the acquisition of the property by the seller
  • the resale price is 100% or more over the price paid by the seller when the property was acquired.
Resale’s occurring between 91 days and 12 months following acquisition. 1st Priority Mortgage reserves the right to require additional documentation if:
  • the resale date is more than 90 days after the date of acquisition by the seller, but before the end of the 12th month following the date of the acquisition
  • the resale price is 5% or greater than the lowest sales price of the property during the preceding 12 months
Conventional*
  • If owned less than 12 months, additional documentation to support increased sales price will be required, i.e. 2nd appraisal required, receipts showing the improvements made.
    * please note: some investors will not purchase flip properties
Diane Russo-Sadowski
1st Priority Mortgage
Cell: 716-480-9087
dsadowski@1stprioritymortgage.com

Posted in Buyers, General Interest | Tagged , | Leave a comment

How to Review and Correct your Credit Report

Some financial advisors and consumer advocates suggest that you review your credit report periodically. You can obtain a free copy one a year of your report by going to: www.annualcreditreport.com. Once you do this, you should review it carefully. Why?

  • Because the information it contains affects whether you can get a loan – and how much you will pay to borrow money.
  • To make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.

If your credit report contains errors, it is important that you take steps to correct it.

Tell the credit reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate. Include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in your report you dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or corrected. Credit reporting companies must investigate the items in question – usually within 30 days – unless they consider your dispute frivolous. When the investigation is complete, the credit reporting company must give you the results in writing and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If you ask, the credit reporting company must send notices of any corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.

If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the credit reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You can also ask the credit reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in he recent past. You can expect to pay a fee for this service.

You should also dispute the information directly with the creditor, again supplying copies of documents that support your dispute. Negative – but correct – information stays on your report for 7 years.

Diane Russo-Sadowski
1st Priority Mortgage
Cell: 716-480-9087
dsadowski@1stprioritymortgage.com

Posted in General Interest | Leave a comment

The Perfect Loan File

The media has it all wrong – securing mortgage approval and
satisfying credit underwriting guidelines are not the difficulties plaguing
mortgage consumers. It’s in meeting the rigorous documentation requirements
that most people fall flat. The good news is, the fix is simple. Just scan,
photocopy, fax, and deliver every aspect of your financial life. Then, shortly
before closing, check everything again.

Mortgage consumers who enter the mortgage approval process
ready to battle their chosen mortgage lender will come out with a nightmare
story to tell. As the process, requirements, and guidelines are the same for
everybody, your mindset is the game-changer. Accepting the redundant
documentation necessary for lender approval will make everyone’s life easier.

When I was a kid, my father occasionally issued directives
that I naturally thought were superfluous, and when asked why I needed to do
whatever it was he wanted me to do, his answer was often: “Because I said so.”
This never seemed to address my query but always left me without a retort, and
I would usually comply. This is exactly what consumers should do during the
mortgage approval process. When your lender requests what seems to be
over-documentation and you wonder why you need it, accept the simple edict –
“because I said so.” You will find the mortgage approval process much less
frustrating.

So, what’s the perfect loan? Well, it’s one that (a) pays
back the lender and (b) pays back the lender on time. Underwriting the perfect
loan is not the goal that mortgage lenders aspire to today.

The real goal is the perfect loan file.

Mortgage lenders have suffered staggering losses and gone
out of business because of the dreaded loan repurchase. As mortgage
delinquencies increased, FannieMae and FreddieMac began to audit mortgage loans
they had purchased and discovered substandard and fraudulent underwriting
practices that violated representations and warranties made, stating these were
high quality loans. Fannie and Freddie began forcing the originating lenders of
these “bad” loans to buy them back. So a small correspondent mortgage lender is
forced to buy back a single mortgage loan in the amount of $250,000. This
becomes a $250,000 loss to a small mortgage business for a single loan, because
it will never be repaid.

It doesn’t take many of these bad loan buybacks to close the
doors on many small mortgage operations. The lending houses suffered billions
of dollars of losses repurchasing loans from Fannie and Freddie, and began to
do the same thing for loans they had purchased from smaller originators.

The small and medium sized mortgage originators that
survived created underwriting guidelines and procedures to eliminate the threat
of future loan repurchase losses. The answer? The perfect loan file.

It’s no longer necessary to have excellent credit, a big
down payment and stable employment with income sufficient to support your debt
service to guarantee your loan approval. However, you must have a borrower
profile that meets the credit underwriting guidelines for the loan you are
requesting. And, more importantly, you have to be able to hard-copy-guideline-document
your profile.

Every nook and cranny of your financial life has to be
corroborated, double- and triple-checked, and reviewed again before closing.
This way, if the originating lender has created a loan file that is exactly
consistent with published underwriting guidelines and has documented while
adhering to those guidelines, the chances are that your loan will not be
subject to repurchase.

Borrowers also need to prepare for processing and
underwriting. Processors and underwriters are the people trained and charged
with gathering (processors), all of your required-for-approval financial
documents, and then approving (underwriters), your loan. You can assume these
people are well trained and very experienced, as they are tasked with
assembling and approving a high-quality-these-people-will-pay-us-back loan
file. But just how do they go about that?

The process begins with the filter – the loan originator
(a.k.a loan officer, mortgage consultant, mortgage adviser, etc.) – tasked to
match the qualifications of a particular mortgage deal to the appropriate
underwriting guidelines. It is the filter’s job to determine if a loan scenario
is approvable and to gather the documentation to support that determination. It
is here, at the beginning of the approval process, where the deal is made or
broken. The rest of the approval process is just papering the file.

The filter determines whether the information provided by
the borrower can be validated and documented. This is simple, since most
mortgages are approved by automated underwriting engines such as Desktop
Underwriter, and the automated approval generates a list of the documents
needed to paper the loan file. An underwriter can, at this stage, request
additional supporting documentation evidence at their discretion, as not all
circumstances neatly fit into the prescribed underwriting box. If the filter
creates a loan file with accurate information, then secures the documentation
resulting from the automated underwriting findings, the loan will close
uneventfully.

So, let’s begin with the pre-approval call. Mortgage
pre-approval is typically accomplished with a telephone interview. A
prospective borrower calls a mortgage rep (filter), and the questions begin.
There will be lots of questions as this critical phase of the process is akin
to the discovery period in a trial – you’ll need to disclose everything. Expect
to answer queries on what you do for a living, how long you’ve been employed in
your current field, and what your salary is. If there is a co-borrower, they
will have to answer the same questions.

Every dollar in checking, savings, investments and
retirement accounts, also known as assets to close, as well as gifts from
relatives and non-profit grants, has to be accounted for. Essentially
everything appearing on a borrower’s asset-radar-screen has to be documented
and explained.

If you were previously a homeowner and sold your home in a
short sale, or if you own a home now and plan to keep it as an investment or
rental property, there are new and specific underwriting guidelines created
just for you. In these cases, full disclosure of your credit and homeownership
past can potentially eliminate unforeseen mortgage approval woes. For instance,
FannieMae has a new underwriting guideline called “Buy-and-Bail,” for current
homeowners’ planning on keeping their existing home as an investment/rental
property. Properties not meeting the 30% equity test for “Buy-and-Bail” result
in additional asset requirements to purchase a new home. Buyers with a short
sale history may have to wait two to three years before they are eligible for
mortgage financing again. Full vetting of your previous mortgage life will save
you the dreaded we-have-a-problem call from your mortgage lender.

It all comes down to your proof. If the lender asks for a
specific document, give them exactly what they are asking for, not what “should
be OK,” – because it won’t be.  This is
where the approval process tends to go off the rails, when the lender asks for
specific documentation and the borrower supplies something else. Here, too, is
where both sides get frustrated. So if the lender asks for a bank statement and
there are 5 pages for that bank statement, send them all 5 pages, and not just
the summary. If you send them the summary page and they ask again, don’t
complain that the lender keeps asking for the same thing when you never sent it
in the first place. This may sound elementary, but the vast majority of
mortgage approval process woes stem from scenarios just like this.

The reason the mortgage approval process is now so rigorous
is simple. Avoiding defaults and loan buybacks has become the primary goal of
mortgage lenders.   Higher standards are
reducing loan defaults, which should mean fewer foreclosures in the future.
Government data shows that less than 2% of loans originated in 2009, that were
resold to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae went into default after 18 months, down
from more than 22% default rates for 2007 loans.

So when your lender requests specific documents from you,
give it them just “because they said so.”

You can thank my dad for that.

Mark Greene, Contributor
The Perfect Loan – Forbes

Posted in Buyers, General Interest | Tagged , , | Leave a comment