Category Archives: Real Estate

“Know Before You Owe” – The Impacts of TRID on the HomeBuying Process

In our last blog , we described how The “Know before you Owe” mortgage initiative will promote the transparency of information associated with mortgage and lending procedures – thus helping borrowers better understand and prepare for their home financing decisions. TRID also referred to as the “TILA-RESPA” rule  (an acronym formed by combining the Truth in Lending Act or “TILA” and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act or “Respa”) aims to simplify the disclosure and loan-closing process for consumers and better prepare buyers for their mortgage transaction.

We’ve compiled a review of how TRID Impacts lenders and borrowers below – Enjoy!

1. New Loan Disclosure Forms & Closing Disclosure Forms

Lenders must now provide borrowers with new disclosure forms that explain the loan estimate and loan closing process in more detail. This new Loan Disclosure form combines the Good Faith Estimate Form and the Truth in Lending Disclosure form have been combined into a new, simpler Loan Estimate form.

TRID also mandates that mortgage firms can not charge credit report check fees until the borrower has received the loan estimate form and has indicated intent to proceed with said firm. These new regulations should make it easier for consumers to shop for and understand the interest rates associated with different loan packages from different firms. 

TRID also gives rise to a new Closing Disclosure form that combines the final Truth-In-Lending statement and the HUD-1 settlement statement while providing details on the entire real estate transaction – including loan term, fees, and closing service costs.  

The accuracy and delivery of the new forms will be critical to ensuring the mortgage process is not derailed or delayed, and that borrowers have a smooth home purchase process.

2. Lenders must now provide Borrowers with the Loan Estimate & Closing Disclosure Forms in 3 Days

Three business days after the consumer provides a lender with their name, income, Social Security number, property address, property value estimate and mortgage loan amount sought, the send that consumer his/her Loan Estimate & Closing Disclosure Forms.

3. Longer Approval & Closing Times

In order to comply with the regulations imposed by TRID, lenders will be extra careful while both evaluating clients & filling out necessary paperwork – thus translating to longer approval & closing times and pretty much eliminating the the possibility of closing ahead of schedule.


Unfortunately, this extended loan closing timeline resulting from TRID will impact the home buyer’s move-in logistics and timeframe. Nevertheless, the increased transparency regulations will undoubtedly help more home buyers understand their loan options.



TRID For The Borrower- What It Means


There are officially t-minus two days until ‘TRID Day’, and whether you are a potential borrower or an existing lender, there are no reasons to panic. On October 3rd, 2015, the TRID (also known as the ‘Know Before You Owe Rule’) Rule  will be implemented by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as a way to better inform and protect borrowers during the lending process. TRID (short for TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure) is the merging of the Truth In Lending Act and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act that aims to make the mortgage process more streamlined and highly functioning for regulators, borrowers, and lenders. Its goal is to create a more informed and therefore better protected consumer through regulated time constraints and clear, comprehensible documents for the consumer-which is why the act has attained the nickname ‘Know Before You Owe’.

The change comes in a time where transparency in every industry is essential for consumer trust and transaction, and when the Real Estate Industry has a need to shift priorities from stimulating the economy towards borrower comprehension in the lending process (seeing as it is one, if not THE biggest financial decisions they will make in their lives). The idea is that more time and more consumer-friendly documents will create breeding grounds for an all around more informed borrower.

So what specifically is changing under the TILA Act, you ask? Not too much. Here are the biggest two changes in the process:

1) Loan Estimate- As Rayce Robinson explains, what was originally the Good Faith Estimate has now changed to become the “Loan Estimate” or LE. The LE is created at the beginning of the lending process following the application submission of the borrower to their preferred lender and provides potential borrowers with a clear and accurate disclosure of any estimated fees during the lending process. The LE breaks things down for the buyer as well as makes it easier for buyers to compare estimates between firms.

2) Closing Disclosure- The Closing Disclosure, or CD, replaces the HUD-1. The CD is a detailed and accurate disclosure of every fee needed to close. The main difference with the CD is that lenders are required to provide borrowers with the document 3 days prior to closing to give them adequate time to compare the document to the LE as well as ask any questions they may have. Since last minute changes tend to occur when buying a home, after the borrower signs off on the CD, the lender need not add additional 3 days for changes unless they fall under three exceptions. 1) The last minute change caused APR to become inaccurate, 2) Borrower wants to change loan program, or 3) a pre-payment penalty was added to the loan.

The idea is to integrate the 3 days, not add them- something that will require planning, focus, and organization from all parties involved in the lending process.

TRID is going to be a refreshing change for the consumer in the Mortgage industry, and the biggest takeaway a potential borrower can get from the change is that there will be more transparency in a more simplistic fashion. It is important to find a lender who is trained, has tested, and integrated TRID methods into their practice- and at Alpha Mortgage, our loan officers are trained, tested, integrated and PREPARED to provide you with the best experience possible. Contact us today!

*Note: If you are looking to secure Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs), a reverse mortgage, or a mortgage secured by a mobile home or dwelling not attached to real property, it is important to recognize that TRID won’t apply to you. *

What is a Jumbo Loan & Would I Qualify


It’s over halfway through 2015 and the luxury housing market is booming. According to the Washington Post, soaring prices and sales in the luxury market are factors due to the rapid growth of “jumbo loans” in the Washington area and around the nation. Nearly 1 in 4 mortgages originated in 2014 around the country were jumbo loans, spurred also by lenders’ efforts to make the mortgages more attractive to buyers. 

What is a Jumbo Loan?

A Jumbo Loan is a conventional mortgage with a loan amount that is higher than $417,000 in most areas of the United States, exceeding conforming loan limits imposed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the large financial agencies that purchase the bulk of US residential mortgages from banks and other lenders, allow for institutions to free up money to lend more mortgages to those looking to purchase homes. Jumbo loans happen when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not cover the full amount of the loan, which normally occurs when homebuyers are looking to buy larger, more luxurious homes, which come with a higher price tag.

Difference between Jumbo Loan and Conventional Loan

 In the past, jumbo loans have required higher interest rates from buyers, but according to the WSJ, low interest rates triggered a refinance flurry in the first few months of 2015 and the volume of jumbo mortgages—those above $417,000 in most places and $625,500 in some high-price areas—reached an estimated $160 billion in the first six months of 2015, up about 36% from a year ago at the same time, says Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, which covers the industry. Since these normally higher interest rates have stayed relatively low, the main difference between a Jumbo Loan and a Conventional Loan is just the higher monetary amount and monthly payments that the loan is for.


So how do you know if you as a borrower qualify for a jumbo loan? To secure a jumbo loan, you must start by having a high credit score (greater than 700), and low debt-to-income ratio (no more than 45%)  . As a lender, there are some risks associated with providing jumbo loans since they are worth more money (and come with the potential to lose more). In order to secure a jumbo mortgage, you will have to put down a higher down payment than with a conventional loan. Along with a higher down payment (typically around 20% of the price of the home), the monthly payments and interest rates will also be higher- although in recent years interest rates for jumbo loans have been reduced. The Washington Post reports that today, the interest rates and down payment requirements are more aligned with conforming loans, making them more appealing for borrowers. Jumbo loan borrowers still typically need to prove they have cash reserves in the bank, a high credit score, a solid employment history and a low debt-to-income ratio in order to be approved.

Remember- jumbo mortgages are great solutions for those looking to buy higher-priced homes, and it is critical to do your research when trying to secure the best value. In the very near future, interest rates for jumbo loans are expected to rise especially if the Federal Reserve raises its interest rate benchmark (expected in September), so for the best rate, don’t wait! Need more assistance? We can help. Contact Alpha Mortgage today and make the first step in securing your jumbo loan.

Mortgage Market Update

Housing news dominates the headlines this week. The Commerce Department reported on Tuesday that sales of newly constructed homes rebounded in April, up from the dip in March, as the spring buying season got underway. New Home Sales rose by 6.8% to an annual rate of 517,000, which was above the 510,000 expected. Since April 2014, sales are up a whopping 26%. The median price for a newly constructed home in April was $297,300, up 8.3% from a year ago. The report comes after a contrast in Existing Homes, which makes up a bulk of the market, which fell 3.3% in April.
Data from the Case Shiller 20-city Index on a year over year basis revealed that home prices rose by 5% from March 2014 to March 2015. Home prices have now risen year-over-year for 35 consecutive months following the housing bubble bust in 2007 and 2008. The 5% gain was above the 4.6% expected, while matching the February annual gain. From February to March, prices were up 0.9%. “The pattern of consistent gains is national and seen across all 20 cities covered by the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee.
The last positive report today showed that May Consumer Confidence rose from April. The Index rose to 95.4 in May, above the 94 expected and up from April’s reading of 94.3. The report read that business conditions remained “good” last month, while the employment component said that those stating jobs are plentiful rose to 20.7% from 19%. The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey®, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch.

Can I Afford A House?

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 12.53.33 PM

When it comes to purchasing a new home, there are always many questions and factors to consider before putting down an offer. “Why is the owner selling? Do I like the location and surrounding area? Does the home have all of the amenities I am looking for?” The first, however, should be “Can I afford this home?” What would seem to many to be a simple ‘yes or no’ is actually one of the more complex questions when it comes to home-buying-101.

The question, ‘Can I afford this home,’ seems for the most part straightforward. You either can or you can’t. But what goes into determining the answer is where the complexity sets in. Below we have compiled a list of 5 important things to keep in mind when determining if you can afford a home or mortgage that you are interested in purchasing.

  1. Income Factors
    • Income before taxes is one of the most important factors in determining if you can afford a home and mortgage payment. But “income” doesn’t only refer how much you make per year before taxes. Income should also be evaluated by job security (the probability that you will keep your job), opportunity for raises and bonuses, confidence in keeping steady commission if your job operates off of this, chances that salary will stay the same or increase, and other considerations such as if you are planning on having kids soon.
  2. Monthly Spending
    • Monthly spending or your typical monthly budget is another factor that should be evaluated when determining if you can afford a house. Living expenses such as bills/utilities, transportation, health, fitness, home, kids, travel, personal care, pets, shopping, taxes and other expenses should be calculated, multiplied by 12, and then subtracted out of your income to get a clear picture of how much money you have left to work with. It is extremely important to be honest with yourself when calculating your monthly budget.
  3. Down Payment & Closing Costs
    • Monthly mortgage payments are not the only thing that you have to worry about paying when you plan to purchase a home. Once you decide on a home and have calculated your monthly spending and compared it to your yearly income, the next things that should be considered are down payments and closing cost. According to Mortgage 101, ‘Traditionally mortgage down payments range from 10 to 25 percent of the total purchase price of the property.” However, there are now more options that can potentially lower your down payment that our loan officers can help you decipher and apply for. Just as a rule of thumb, it is best to prepare to pay within that percentage for a down payment. Along with a down payment, closing costs should also be considered when determining if you can afford a home. Closing costs vary individually based on location and property values, but typically will include the costs to transfer property deeds, titles, land transfers, legal fees, loan fees, etc. On top of this remember that typically the closing itself will usually cost you 2-3% of the home price.
  4. Taxes/ Insurance
    • Once you purchase a home, taxes and insurance must be paid in order to protect both you and the lender. The main tax that a homeowner will pay is a yearly “Property Tax.” What a property tax does is quantifies the value of your property and home and gives the tax money you pay to the government. Normally, people set up Escrow Accounts that take money from your accounts monthly to go towards your end-of-year property taxes and insurance bills, and then accumulates that money until it is due (so you don’t have to come up with the lump sum all at once, which can be overwhelming). If you own your property outright, some people do choose to pay their yearly property tax at outright without an Escrow Account.
    • Homeowners insurance varies based on many factors including location, and risk factors, but is also something that you are required to pay. This can also be deposited monthly into an Escrow account. The main thing to remember with homeowners insurance is the more risk your property has, the more money you will pay on a policy. Basic homeowner policies usually include (but are not limited to) Dwelling Protection, Personal Property Protection, Natural Disasters, Other Structure Protection and Injury Liability. Another insurance you will likely have to pay is a mortgage insurance to ensure you will pay your monthly dues. Sometimes Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is required if you as a buyer are putting less than 20% down on a house and better protects the lender.
  5. Monthly Mortgage Payment
    • Monthly mortgage payments will be what you pay every month that goes towards the principal (money you borrowed) and interest on that money. They also sometimes include some of the home’s insurance and taxes. Mortgage payments vary depending on the home, location, money put down on the property and individual’s credit score. To see an estimated monthly mortgage payment you can click here, but until you meet with a lender, this will just be a projection.

Along with income factors, monthly spending, down payments and closing costs, taxes and insurance, and monthly mortgage payments, there will usually always be random “other” costs included when purchasing a home including homeowners dues, home maintenance, home inspection, etc. When predicting if you are going to be able to afford a house, it is always best to over-price your projected spendings. Don’t forget that according to CNN, Total debt payments (credit cards, student loans, car payments, etc.) should be less than 36% of gross income because that has been shown to be a level of debt that most borrowers can pay back comfortably.

Buying a house is a difficult process, but here at Alpha Mortgage, we are ready to assist you in any way possible. Contact us today!

Best Time to Refinance Your Mortgage



In order to best understand the most opportune time to refinance your mortgage, it is essential to understand how the process works. Refinancing is the process of trading in your old mortgage for a new one that features a new interest rate and term. When you refinance your mortgage, the loan officer who grants you the new mortgage basically pays off the remainder of your old mortgage and provides you with a new mortgage- by refinancing the remaining amount. Another way you can think about refinancing is that you are “resetting your mortgage” – not getting rid of existing debt.”

When you’re considering refinancing, it is important to do your research and crunch out the numbers to make sure that the deal is better over time as opposed to being beneficial short-term. Interest is the silent killer when it comes to refinancing homes; so planning into the future and weighing out scenarios is essential when you’re considering refinancing. This being said, there are major benefits to refinancing with the top three being lower interest rates over time and the opportunity to reduce the term of your original mortgage through standard refinancing, and to acquiring cash from the home’s equity value to use on other purchases through cash-out refinance transactions.

So once you figure out that refinancing is for you, when exactly is the best time to refinance your Mortgage?

  • You plan on staying in your home for a long time- Most of the time, when one refinances their mortgage, they end up extending the term of the loan. This means that you will be paying smaller amounts for a longer time. It is important to look at the savings compared to cost as well as how long you want to stay on your property. If you plan on staying for a while, and the numbers are right, refinancing is a good option to save money.
  • You want to shorten your Mortgage term- Refinancing your mortgage presents the opportunity for borrowers to reduce their mortgage term under reduced interest rates. As long as you’re able to pay the increased monthly payments (which vary from a little to a lot depending on the cost of the mortgage) this is a great option for people looking to pay off their loan sooner rather than later under ideal circumstances.
  • Current interest rates are at least 2% below your existing mortgage interest rate-The University of Minnesota reports that “Most lenders agree that the greatest gain in refinancing your home occurs when the current interest rate stands at least two percentage points below your existing mortgage loan interest rate and refinancing costs are affordable. If those two conditions exist, you should look into refinancing, which offers potential benefits, depending on your situation.”
  • Refinancing costs are reasonable- Most people don’t take into account that there are costs associated with refinancing mortgages. Usually one will have to pay closing costs (in the thousands), taxes, insurance, and prepaid items. Factor these costs into your refinancing decision. If the costs are reasonable and you are still saving money, go for it!
  • It will save you money in the long run- The ultimate goal of refinancing is to save money. By calculating monthly payments and long-term interest costs, borrowers can get a better picture and see if refinancing is a good option. If the conditions are right and you’re saving more money than you would on your existing mortgage, refinancing is a great option to save cash.

Remember: refinancing is a great option for homeowners under the right conditions. A tip to keep in mind if you’re considering refinancing your mortgage is to do it only once to keep incurring home equity (since refinancing resets your mortgage clock). If you are interested in refinancing your mortgage, our expert loan officers can help. Contact Alpha Mortgage today!

What Makes a Good Loan Officer?

Wilmington, NC Loans

With 2015 upon us and the economy looking up, many people are looking towards purchasing a new home this year. It is no secret that one of the most important steps in property purchase involves communication and collaboration with loan officers. Loan officers, or Mortgage Originators, evaluate, authorize, or recommend approval of loan applications for people and businesses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they are normally responsible for contacting companies inquiring about loan needs, meeting with loan applicants to gather personal information, obtaining and verifying financial information, explaining loan terms and types, analyzing and evaluating applicant’s finances, and eventually approving or denying loan applications. So what should you look for in a loan officer to make your home-buying experience as seamless and stress-free as possible?

A good loan officer holds many great qualities including time-management skills, problem-solving skills, and responsiveness, but 5 traits that an outstanding Loan Officer must have are listed below:
• They are transparent with customers- a great loan officer is always in line with all national loan regulations, but arguably even more importantly, they are open and forthcoming with customers and realtors about important information that can make or break a loan in a timely matter. They never over-promise or under-deliver.
• They are passionate about what they do- one thing that sets apart excellent loan officers from average is their love for what they do. It is apparent when a loan officer hates what they are doing, but through positive energy and attentiveness to customer needs, passion from a loan officer shines.
• They measure all of their data and information- great loan officers understand that nothing can be improved if it is not first measured. Best performers know exact numbers of leads, credit report pulls, contracts, and closings they have had in specific time periods because they understand how imperative numbers are both to potential borrowers and to their own success.
• They are accountable- They work for companies that hold employees to high work standards and ethical standards because they want to push themselves to their highest potential as a loan officer. They appreciate accountability because it shows borrowers and real estate agents that they can be relied on for closings.
• They are connected- The best loan officers not only know basic real estate principles, but they have rich professional connections with local real estate agents. Great loan officers have a deep base of knowledge they use to inform real estate agents about the closing process for clients, and maintain a positive communication process between the parties.
Looking for a Loan Officer on the North Carolina Coast? Alpha Mortgage has their own in-house team of specially trained Loan Officers that meet all of these qualifications! Check them out and contact one today to get the ball rolling on the purchase of your dream home!

Jacksonville, NC Loan Officers

New Bern, NC Loan Officers

Wilmington, NC Loan Officers

Mortgage Market Guide 11-17-14

News from abroad read that Japan has fallen into a recession after the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined for two consecutive quarters. A recession is defined as a significant decline in economic activity, which includes industrial production, employment, real income and wholesale retail trade. A recession is measured by two consecutive negative quarters of GDP data. Japan’s GDP fell by 1.6% in the third quarter after falling 7.3% in the second quarter.

The New York State Manufacturing Index bounced back in November after a somewhat weak reading in October. The index rose by 10.2 this month, up from the 6.2 registered in October, but lower than the 12.0 expected. The general business index signaled that business condition activity continued to expand in November, though at a slower pace from the May to September period. Within the report it showed that the employment component edged lower.

A recent study reveals that first-time homebuyers are faced with many challenges with the mortgage process, according the J.D. Power 2014 Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction study. The big issues facing first time homebuyers is growing student loan debt and affordability. Recent data shows that among the respondents purchasing a home, 58% are first timers. In addition, lack of experience and uncertainty regarding the process is also a barrier when it comes to first time buyers.

Mortgage Market Guide

Americans filing for first time unemployment benefits fell to multi-year lows in the latest week as the sector continues to recover and move into greener pastures. The Labor Department reported that Weekly Initial Jobless Claims fell by 10,000 to 278,000 and is the second lowest level since the Great Recession ended. The four-week moving average of claims, which irons out seasonal abnormalities, fell to a 14-year low of 279,000, down 2,950 from the previous week. Since June, claims have averaged 293,000 per week compared to last year’s same time period of 343,000 and well below the 594,000 average per week in 2009.

Global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported today that after falling to a 14-year low in September, planned layoffs by employers across the nation surged by nearly 70% from September. U.S. employers announced planned cuts of 51,183 in October, well above the 30,477 planned in September. October is the second highest amount of planned cuts since the May 2014 figure of 52,961 and marks only the fourth time in the last 22 months that planned cuts were above 50,000.

With the Thanksgiving Holiday quickly approaching, more Americans are expected to take to the skies to visit friends and relatives this season. Airlines for America reports that 24.6 million passengers will fly domestically between November 21 and December 2. That’s up about 1.5% from 2013, or 31,000 more passengers per day. U.S. carriers have reaped some big profits in that past year and are making sure that there is enough room to meet the growing demand. The top three destinations for Thanksgiving are Chicago, Orlando and Cancun.

Mortgage Market Update 09-12-14

Americans across the nation opened their wallets in August spending their hard earned money on automobiles and a range of other goods, including back-to-school items. Retail Sales rose by 0.6% last month, above the 0.3% recorded in July, which was revised from 0.0%. The report signals that the economy continues to recover after the weak readings from the beginning of the year.

Consumer Sentiment hit a 14-month high this month, in a survey done by the University of Michigan showing a rate of 84.6, up from the previous reading of 82.5. The surveys gauge of consumer expectations rose to 75.6 from the 71.3 reading last month and above a forecast of 73.0. The uptick in Consumer Sentiment was one of the reasons for the rise in Retail Sales as consumers feel more confident about the economy.

The price for oil continues to fall after a ramp in supplies pushing the price to lows not seen in over a year. The recent drop has pushed prices at the gas pump lower as the national average price for a regular gallon of gasoline is at $3.41, down nearly 4% from this time last year. Prices usually fall this time of year after the summer driving season, but with the large supply of oil on the market, AAA predicts a 15 to 20 cent drop by Halloween. The drop in gas prices puts extra cash in the consumers pocket, which could be used on the upcoming shopping seasons.