How Do You Choose a Mortgage Lender?

Great Real Estate Advice Regarding Finding a Mortgage LenderWhen considering buying a home, I’ve found that many folks go about it backward. They fall in love with a house, online or off, often getting excited about certain properties and neighborhoods right off the bat. This can be frustrating and disappointing if they find out that they are not really in their price range, or aren’t quite ready to buy or sell. Thus, right up there with choosing a real estate professional is choosing a good lending pro.

I asked home-buying pros from the other side of the table this question so you can benefit from the perspectives of both a veteran Realtor and a young real estate pro.

“Choosing your mortgage lender is one of the most important decisions you will face in the real estate process,” says Amanda Johnston, with Century 21 Select Properties. “A lender can make or break the deal. You need to be able to trust your lender completely.”

You may already have a lead on a lender, or you may have to turn to research and referrals.

“If you don’t have previous experience with someone, ask your Realtor or other people you trust for recommendations,” says Brenda Mills, also with Century 21 Select Properties, and who happens to be Johnston’s mother. “Your Realtor can recommend multiple lenders with whom they have had good experience; in fact, they are obligated to tell you about more than one.”

I would add that, in addition to your real estate pro, ask appraisers and closing attorneys and the like. Other pros likely have a go-to list of lenders. It’s important that whomever has recommended a loan officer has had good professional experience with them.

“There are a plethora of options in the lending industry, from mortgage companies, banks or credit unions to private lending sources,” Mills says. “Each of these vary with specific programs and areas of emphasis, and vary in terms of service model.”

Items to inquire about: Qualification requirements, points, fees and those lock-in time periods. You should be provided with Truth-in-Lending statements and Good Faith Estimates would also be helpful to further establish your bottom line. Always look for the bottom line. That is, what is in all the details that will benefit you, the buyer? Once you think you have identified the lender who is right for you, meet them for a face-to-face interview to be sure that your expectations are in line and communication is easy.

“In that search for lenders, there are three criteria that I think need to be considered: accessibility, timeliness in response and specific knowledge base,” Johnston says. “Look for a mortgage pro that will serve you in the time that suits you and who provide direct contact information. When you contact them, they should respond in a reasonable time period. In real estate transactions, time is of the essence. Do not be intimidated to ask about their knowledge. Check out company websites. Listen for how they set expectations.”

At a minimum, you’ll want the loan officer to pre-qualify you so you know how much you can actually afford. Don’t go by any standard rules of thumb you may read about. “Every person’s situation is different and needs to be evaluated individually,” Mills says. “It doesn’t mean you need to spend as much as you can qualify for, but it will at least give you parameters.”

Many lenders today are also offering pre-approval – themselves or through their investors. That goes beyond pre-qualification and means you go through the underwriting process before you’ve even found a home. That way, once you find the right home, you will be ready to go and your loan will be contingent only on the appraisal of the property you choose. According to Johnston, “this makes you a much stronger buyer in the eyes of a seller, especially in competitive markets or neighborhoods.”

Mills sums up the goal of your search well. “The three of us: client, Realtor and lender should be able to walk through the real estate transaction with a winning result for all parties.”

As a Homeowner How Do I Know If I Qualify for HARP 2 Refinancing?

Harp 2 Refinancing QualificationsThere are new guidelines being released to qualify for HARP 2.
YES.  And more people will qualify for HARP program than ever before.
YES. The question remains…  “Will I qualify HARP 2?”
Here is how you can begin to know….

Step 1:
Who Owns My Loan?

You need to know if your loan is owned by either Fannie Mae (FNMA) or Freddie Mac (FHLMC).
It is not something you will know off the top of your head.  You must check the websites below AND call your lender to ask, “Who OWNS my loan?”  You are trying to find out who the investor is.  This is a different party in many cases from the company that collects your payments (the servicer).  Enter the information into each of the forms through the links below and also call your current servicer unless you get a “yes, match found” answer.

Step 2:
What if Fannie and Freddie Don’t Own My Loan?

If, at some point, you get a YES answer to either of these questions:  “Does Fannie Mae own my loan?”  or “Does Freddie Mac own my loan?”then you can proceed to step 3.

If you are getting a NO answer to the above questions you need to continue to try both links repeatedly (as FNMA and FHLMC both acquire loans) AND you need to call your lender. A NO answer generated from the forms on these links does NOT necessarily indicate that your loan is NOT owned by either of these entities.  Just entering information differently (IE misspelling, typos, abbreviations or missing information) from how it is in the lender’s system can produce a NO answer…

If you get a NO you will still want to consult with an experienced broker who works with many different lenders and can ascertain whether or not there is another program available to you. There ARE other programs available that do not involve either of these entities.  There are also potentially ways that you can improve your own situation to qualify for a refinance (IE paying down the loan, getting a second job, paying off debt, getting a “gift” from family, etc.).  If you get a NO you can also ask your current lender if they participate in the federal Making Home Affordable Program.

A definitive NO here is the end of the road for a HARP refinance for the time being but be sure to keep in touch with those sites and with an experienced lender to determine if something has changed.  If one thing is for sure, things change!  It has happened again and again over the last half decade as these programs have rolled out.

Step 3:
If you discover YES My Loan is Owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac

Your loan IS owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  Now what?!
You will potentially qualify under one of the following programs:



The difference between the “OR” programs above relies on who the servicer of the loan is.  One program is only available to the servicer of the current loan (sometimes through a broker) and the other is available to any lender who offers the loan product.  Some servicers do not exist any longer and some do not offer the specific program a borrower might need or the guidelines needed to qualify.  This is where it can get dicey and an experienced lender is necessary to help you determine where your loan qualifications might fit it.  And NO Lender is omnipotent so NEGU (never ever give up).

The first answer is TALK to an experienced lender, maybe even more than one.  Each bank offers a DIFFERENT VERSION of this product, therefore going to one bank, with one set of guidelines, may not be your solution.  One bank will still only go to 105% of the current home value with your loan balance, while another bank will go to 125% of the current property value.  If you have a second mortgage, that changes what you qualify for, as well.  Again, some banks will go higher on the COMBINED loan to value (meaning the balance now including the second mortgage loan balance versus the current propert value).  I must also add:  there are situations where I refer a client back to their original lender because the guidelines and/or the pricing might be better but I would definitely prefer to talk through the situation with the client FIRST to determine what makes the most sense for their particular situation.  Most borrower wants to talk to their servicer AND a trustworthy and experienced broker.  Sometimes a servicer will have different guidelines for their borrowers with loans already with them versus loans that are owned by a different lender as well.  Try to be sure you have an experienced loan officer with the servicer as well.  Not all loan officers are equal in terms of experience and knowledge and talking to the wrong person can get you the wrong answer as well.

I am seeing pricing and guidelines vary GREATLY from one lender to another.  Just because Fannie or Freddie “release” new guidelines does not mean that any specific lender will offer the program just as they release it.  Lenders have overlays, rules in addition to the guidelines, that will sometimes limit what is available through their bank.

AND, just because your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac does not mean you qualify otherwise.

You will need to meet some other qualifications:

For example, your loan has to have been originated before 6/1/2009 if it is owned by Freddie Mac.  You can only take advantage of the program one time.  And your overall credit risk profile will still have to qualify through the electronic processing system as well.  It sounds like this system may “relax” sometime in March.

My recommendation is to talk to your lender now and get your HARP 2 refinancing application going.  When (and if) the flood gates do open on HARP 2 program, you want to be ready to go.

Remember, persistence is KEY when it comes to getting refinancing especially under HARP!  As is the EFFORT to keep trying!  AND, when you find a solution, do not wait for something better to come along.  SNATCH IT UP as fast as you can!


Sheila Goulart- Siegel
President and Senior Loan Consultant
Synergy Financial Group
(949) 388-9254 ext. 101
(949) 388-9372 fax
DRE license #:    01247838
NMLS license #:  239691

Can the Mortgage Professionals Tell Me Who Owns NAMB Enterprises, LLC?

Or is NAMB Enterprises, LLC a secret society dedicated to the promotion of unethical practices? Perhaps the facts, as we find them, will speak for themselves.

Mortgage Professionals: please help me put the puzzle together. Post any relevant factual information you have in the comment section. Here is what I have unraveled so far…

NAMB Enterprises, LLC was registered in Delaware in May 2007. Other than the Delaware registered agent, no other names are listed on the filings. Suspicious? Stay with me, it gets even better.

When NAMB Enterprises, LLC was formed Roy Deloach indicated to others in the industry that Directors for NAMB Enterprises, LLC would be a revolving list. Roy also said that its Board would be made up of himself, the President and Immediate Past President. And he said it was a wholly owned subsidiary of NAMB.

The LLC filing doesn’t show NAMB or any organization as a parent, which makes NAMB Enterprises a standalone organization.

My presumption, unless they can prove otherwise, is that Roy and George Hanzimanolis have been continually involved in running the LLC since it was formed.
If Roy has been running NAMB Enterprises, LLC since 2007, doesn’t that discredit his statement that “ Directors for NAMB Enterprises, LLC would be a revolving list?”

These two are factually tied to NAMB Enterprises, LLC. Are there others? I have heard that a man by the name of James Pair may be as well, but have not seen verification of that yet. Last week discovered on a LinkedIn John Councilman is the Treasurer and FHA Chairman at NAMB and was asked by others on LinkedIn for financial information for NAMB Enterprises LLC but he shamefully attacked others rather then compling.

The facts I have come up with include that NAMB 990’s make no reference to NAMB Enterprises, LLC as a profit subsidiary. No other records, financial or otherwise, have been found or produced.

Accusations and attacks against anyone asking for financial information from NAMB Officials about NAMB Enterprises LLC seems to be common. If you are reading this and have NAMB Enterprises, LLC financial documents, please post them publicly for both NAMB members and non-NAMB members to see. I want to see bank statements, tax returns or evidence that there is a checking account and, if so, who is authorized to sign the checks. How much did the LLC earn? Who was paid out of the LLC?

Apparently when NAMB officials discussed Roy’s compensation options a year ago Roy offered to accept a third of NAMB Enterprises, LLC as part of his package. What does that tell us intuitively? NAMB Enterprises, LLC is making money! Why else would anyone offer to accept part of it as compensation?

If I was a board member at NAMB I would be very concerned. If NAMB Enterprises, LLC, or those controlling it have committed any type of fraud, director liability insurance will probably not cover it. Which could lead to innocent people being blamed for others actions.

Why board members should be worried? NAMB itself refuses to release any financials. They say it is because they are involved in a lawsuit and do not want the plaintiffs to know the scope of their assets. This makes for a great excuse to hide financials from members. If the lawsuit argument is not legitimate, every board member may be personally liable for intentional concealment of assets

People outside of NAMB are probably wondering who Roy DeLoach is, if you don’t know of him already. In addition to his NAMB Enterprises, LLC dealings, he has cushy $30K a quarter lobbying job from NAMB, is a married man who dabbles in infidelity (he would likely argue differently but as journalist we have had this statement verified by several within NAMB and outside of NAMB) and is a close friend of George Hanzimanolis.

George doesn’t have the highest morals, has been featured on this blog before. He is best known for getting caught paying illegal referral fees (George called them consulting fees) to unlicensed loan officers, while being the President of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers. George then negotiated a consent order agreeing to restitution, heavy fines and a 6 month suspension of his license. George denied violating the law… 37 TIMES!! And why has NAMB not kicked him out for violating the NAMB Code of Ethics?

Each person can make their own judgment on Roy’s and George’s ethical or unethical judgment based on how they handle themselves, but the facts make it clear to me where they and NAMB stands.

Once again I would be happy for NAMB and non-NAMB members to post any further information below in the comment section.