Thursday, March 8, 2018

Local Lenders Do It Best!

It’s that time of year again! The Spring Real Estate buzz has already started and it’s time to get busy on your pre-approval to be a competitive shopper in this low-inventory market!

By now you’ve probably been bombarded by pop-up ads and indiscriminate commercials on how to “simplify” your way to hundreds of thousands of dollars in mortgage loans. In an industry that now boasts mobile ready money, a personal touch can still make all the difference in getting to buy your dream home— or not.

The benefit of many local lenders is that they have a “people first” mentality when it comes to doing business. Often times applicants don't qualify right away if they are in need of credit repair or even need help proving income after having written off everything possible as self-employed tax filer. When you work with a local lender there are often programs, workshops, and in some cases, workarounds when it comes to getting you a great mortgage.

The reason many local lenders have flexibility over larger lenders and may even be able to approve applications rejected by conglomerates because their guidelines and criteria often differ. The bigger guys tend to sell their loans to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac which also ties them to their strict guidelines. With a smaller lender there’s more opportunity for special financing and often the person receiving your application is has the final say in approving your loan.

A local lender's focus is on the community around them and helping local businesses and homebuyers qualify. Loan Officers have direct access to managers and a team of professionals that are excited about getting creative to help their clients.


As a local lender, we meet with clients face to face every day. We are reminded that time really is money and closing on time is important. I’ve personally experienced working with a buyer who switched lenders for the promise of half a percentage point savings. After I had filed all the paperwork and submitted their pre-approval letter before the switch, the buyers didn’t let their agents know the financing on the deal had changed. When it came time to close, their new lender had done none of the paperwork to move the deal forward and they ended up not getting the house. The lender had no accountability or urgency for their closing date or sale. 

While this is a special circumstance, the fact remains that giant mortgage lenders deal with clients in bulk and meet their own deadlines— not yours. When it comes to accountability, that 24/7 customer service hotline only gets you so far.


Due to their volume, many national lenders simply treat their customers like a bottom line. While having an 800 number to call might be convenient, you never get the same person twice. Working with a local lender means they have a personal interest in your loan and in working with you to get the best option available. Many online reps follow prompts themselves to lead you toward a box-sized solution. Ultimately, they’re not mortgage lenders they’re tech support. 

Many larger banks brag about their around-the-clock service, however, I have yet to meet a dedicated mortgage professional that doesn’t pick up their phone on a weekend! Not to mention many local lenders have their own specialized apps and technology for easy access to your application and status updates.

Photo by from Pexels 

Ultimately, If you have a standard W-2 based income at a job you’ve had for years, with no hiccups in your credit history, perhaps a mortgage app is a great tool for you. However, like most of us dealing with life; changing jobs, freelancing or self-employment, non-liquid assets, small business ownership, missing a payment here and there— it may be difficult to fill in all that information with two thumbs.

Don’t leave money on the table or wonder if you’re getting the best mortgage for you. Work with a local lender! 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

3 Reasons Homeowners Should Itemize

While the new standard deduction has recently been increased by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ($12,000 and $24,000 for single filers and joint filers, respectively) if you qualify for these 3 tax breaks, it may still be worth it to itemize.

Mortgage Interest
Writing off the interest on a home loan from federal income tax is a major homebuying incentive. While the maximum deduction was capped at $750,000 on mortgage loans taken after December 15, 2017, that still leaves many Americans eligible to take advantage of the tax incentive.

However, did you also know that you can write off your points?  Points refer to one percent of your loan’s total value. While you can’t claim origination points, discount points— or those you pay upfront to reduce your rate—  are very much deductible.

Property Tax
Many major cities have high property taxes and a homeowner's ability to deduct them from
Federal Income tax is a relief to those who live in high property taxed areas. Take as much advantage of your property tax deduction this tax season because in 2018, these property taxes will be capped at $10,000.

If you just bought your home, don’t forget to include the taxes you paid toward the seller for reimbursement. These are the taxes the seller paid before you took ownership.  You can find this amount on your settlement sheet.

Photo: Bernadette Gatsby on Unsplash

Home Equity Loans & Medical Home Improvement
The only way to deduct interest on future home equity loans is if the funds are used to significantly improve the value of your residence. Conversely, Medical Home Improvements are deductible to the extent that they don’t increase the value of your home.

An example from
“For example, if your house was worth $200,000 and adding an elevator cost you $80,000 but increased your home’s value to $250,000, then you could only deduct $30,000 of the expense.”  If it doesn’t change the value of your home, then you can deduct the entire amount. You can also deduct upkeep expenses for medical improvements in future years. 


While the standard deduction has increased, in the case of being able to claim all of these deductions, itemizing may be your best bet!

Most Americans can still take advantage of the many homeowner incentivizing tax breaks this year and next. Be sure to talk to your local tax expert to make sure you’re getting the maximum allowable deduction!