Michele's Blog

Looking to Buy While You Are Selling?

Buying a home is thrilling and exciting and terrifying all at once.  Add in the fact that you haven’t sold your current home, and there are many more moving parts to your transaction.  In a hot real estate market, sometimes you have to jump in and make an offer before you’re quite ready (or able) to sell your current home.  If you have a hefty savings account and income sufficient to qualify for both of your mortgages, it might not be a problem, But for millions of homeowners, this scenario requires a different solution.

First and foremost, you can consider submitting an offer with a contingency.  While this makes things easier on paper, it can affect the desirability of your offer - especially in aforementioned hot markets.  Putting your current home up for sale first can mitigate some of this risk for the seller of your new home, but there will likely still be some sort of contingency in the event your home doesn’t sell or the sale falls through.

In order to put yourself in a position of strength at the negotiating table, you’ll want your house to be sold, and all contingencies from your buyers signed off prior to submitting your offer.  Again, this is an ideal scenario, but not necessarily practical.

Enter the Bridge Loan:

A Bridge Loan is a short-term financing solution that allows you to finance two homes at once, temporarily.  Once you sell your current home, you pay off the temporary bridge loan and are left with the one mortgage on your new home.

American Pacific Mortgage offers two programs to secure your bridge financing:

  • The first is our Close with Confidence program, which is used when your current home is already pending sale, but not yet closed.  The equity from your current home is used to fund the purchase of your new home. This option can have a term as long as 3 months and can exclude the payment on your departing residence from your overall qualifications on your new home if the home is in contract.
  • The second option is our Debt Inclusive program, which doesn’t require that your departing residence is sold - only that it is listed for sale.  The term for this option can be as long as 4 months but includes all of the payments (current mortgage, bridge loan, new home) to be factored into your qualifications on your purchase.

Either way, you can get the equity out of your current home to facilitate your new home - without the seller looking askance at whether your offer is bonafide.  Add an APM approval letter and you’ve put yourself as close to a cash buyer as possible without having to actually have cash on hand for the purchase. This puts you in a much better negotiation position with the seller and takes a load of the worry out of the gymnastics required when buying and selling at the same time.

Be sure to talk to Michele about what option might work best for you, and put yourself in the driver's seat for your next home purchase.

Posted in:General
Posted by Michele Morse Reen on September 11th, 2018 12:36 PM

As a first-time home buyer, it can be overwhelming to hear all the stories from friends and family about home loans. Often times you’re left with a lot of assumptions and not all of the facts about the process, possibly keeping you from taking the steps toward getting the home you’ve been dreaming about.

We’re happy to clear up the facts and make sure you’ve got the information you need to make a homebuying decision. Let’s bust some down payment and private mortgage insurance (PMI) myths right now!

Down Payment and PMI Myths

Myth #1: Borrowers need at least a 10% down payment.

The Facts: The majority of first-time home buyers believe they need at least a 10% down payment (source: NAR), but that’s simply not true with all of today’s different loan types and programs. Average down payments are generally in the range of 5-10% but there are loan programs that allow as low as 3% and even a few no-down loan options.

Myth #2: PMI is always required on home loans with less than 20% down.

The Facts: PMI is generally required by the lender when a borrower purchases a home using conventional financing with less than a 20% down payment. But there are loan programs available that don’t require PMI. VA Loans do not require PMI and neither does our new No MI Advantage Loan. There are other loan programs with possible reduced mortgage insurance, so be sure to check in with us to find out what might fit your particular situation.

Myth #3: PMI protects the borrower.

The Facts: Many borrowers make the mistake of thinking that PMI is insurance that either protects the home or protects them if they end up in a foreclosure situation. PMI is in place to protect the lender from default on the loan, which enables lenders to help more borrowers get loans. It does not provide protection for the borrower if they go into foreclosure. And PMI is not to be confused with Homeowner’s Insurance, which is required and protects the physical home and property.

Myth #4: PMI cannot be canceled.

The Facts: PMI is in place to protect the lender when there is less than 20% equity built up. Once more than 20% equity is in place, PMI can be removed. PMI will automatically be terminated when the principal balance reaches 78% of the original value. You can also request cancelation sooner in writing if your home value has increased enough (contact your lender for exact requirements and instructions).

Now that you know more of the facts about down payments and PMI, are you feeling motivated to begin your homeownership journey? APM is here to help educate you and clear up any misinformation on the home loan process. We are standing by to answer your questions and help you every step of the way!

Posted in:General
Posted by Michele Morse Reen on August 28th, 2018 11:17 AM

If you have been contemplating buying a house, we are here to help you think through the possibilities.

When to Buy a House - Factors to Consider

There are several factors to consider before you decide it’s time to buy a house. Here are a few:

  • Is it better to rent or buy? You’ll want to consider your long-term goals; whether you will stay in the area; if you would like more control in customizing and making a home your own; if you are ready to make an investment in real estate; as well as a cost comparison taking into account taxes, insurance, and maintenance/repair costs.
  • Are you financially ready? Have you saved enough money for a down payment and closing costs? Are you prepared for monthly mortgage payments? Estimate your monthly payments using our mortgage calculator and aim for that number to be no more than 28% of your pre-tax income. Have you considered the maintenance and utility costs of owning a home?
  • What are your family’s needs and desires for housing? Do you need more space for your family or a space that is arranged differently? Are you looking for a yard, outdoor space, or a garage or more room to park? Think about home features that may be important to you and what will ultimately be a good fit for your family situation.
  • Are you satisfied with the location you currently live in? Do you want to live in a different neighborhood or school district? Are you looking for somewhere closer to work? You may decide that you either want to be in a brand new neighborhood or you may want to live in an established neighborhood where the homes aren’t as close together.
  • Are interest rates and market conditions favorable? Interest rates and market conditions are always changing. We can forecast what may happen, but can never predict the future. Are interest rates at a reasonable level that you can afford? Is it a seller’s or buyer’s market? You can buy a house in either type of market, but you’ll want to adjust your home buying expectations differently for each.
  • Does the season or time of year affect when is a good time to buy? Spring/Summer is the busy season for home buying and Fall/Winter is slower. You can buy a house whether the market is busy or slow - there are pros and cons to each. In the busy season, there may be more inventory available but also more competition trying to buy. In the slow season, there are generally less homes coming onto the market, but you could have fewer buyers to compete with and possibly get a better price on a home.

Once you have carefully considered all of the above and decided it’s time to buy a house, get ready for your next steps!

When You Have Decided to Buy a House - Next Steps

Now that you have decided it’s time to buy a house - what next?

  • Do your homework. Check out our free resources below and read up on important topics on our Home Buyer Blog to help you to know what to expect throughout the home buying process.
  • Contact Michele Morse Reen. The time to get your loan advisor is before the whole process begins! Our helpful and friendly advisors can answer your questions, help you find a loan program that suits you, and advise you on what information you’ll need to begin your homeownership journey.
  • Apply for a pre-approval. Don’t start home-shopping without a pre-approval. You’ll be ahead of the competition and will know exactly what price range of homes you should be looking for. Your loan advisor can get you started.

Free Resources

As you decide when to buy a house, check out our free resources to help you through your journey!

5 Step Road Map of the Home Loan Process


5 Step Roadmap of the Home Loan Process

We’ll take you step-by-step from start to finish of the homeownership journey so you’ll know what to expect and can better prepare.


Am I Financially Ready to Buy my First Home

Am I Financially Ready to Buy My First Home?

Get your financial questions answered as you work toward your homeownership goal. You may be ready sooner than you think!

Deciding when to buy a house is a big decision. There is a lot to think through but we hope you’re closer to making that decision now that you have the information you need. Are you ready to take that next step? We are standing by to help!

Posted in:General
Posted by Michele Morse Reen on August 16th, 2018 12:42 PM

One of the obstacles that keeps first time home buyers out of the housing market is the misconception that they need to have a 20% down payment.* As housing prices have risen, saving up a 20% down payment* can seem like a far-off goal. Are you trying to save up to buy a home? Did you know that there are plenty of low down payment options for you?

The down payment is the portion of the home price that you pay cash for rather than financing it - most lenders require that some percentage of the purchase price be paid at the time of closing. Though a 20% down payment* will allow you to avoid paying private mortgage insurance, the average down payment size for borrowers is typically in the range of 5-10%.

How a Low Down Payment Helps You

You can definitely purchase a home with less than a 20% down payment!* Being able to make a low down payment can benefit you in a few ways:

  • You may be able to buy a home sooner since you’ll need less money down.
  • You may be able to afford a higher priced home if the down payment is no longer an obstacle.
  • A low down payment lets you use more of your money toward closing costs or new home expenses.

Low Down Payment Programs for First Time Home Buyers

There are several loan programs that allow low down payments and APM is proud to offer these loans to help first time home buyers like you. Here are some of our programs that allow low down payments:

*There may be qualifying factors. Please visit our Disclosures page for more details on loan types.

There are more specialty programs with APM that can help you afford a home by allowing a lower down payment - check out a few programs below!

And don’t forget - many first time home buyers can also get assistance with down payments:

Down Payment Saving Tips

Now that you know you have several low down payment loan options with APM, you can focus on saving up the amount you will need. Saving up a down payment doesn’t have to feel like such a chore. Try a few of our saving tips:

  • Set up an auto-transfer to a savings account for a set monthly amount. Chances are when it happens automatically, you won’t even miss those extra dollars.
  • Adjust your monthly bills - try going without or reducing your Cable bill,  or increasing car insurance deductibles and adjusting coverages to reduce your expenses.
  • Skip eating out for a month and put all the money you saved toward your down payment.
  • Put your tax refund, bonus pay and unexpected monetary gifts toward your down payment savings.

Achieving your homeownership dream may be just around the corner! Research your low down payment options, start saving your dollars, and contact one of our friendly loan advisors today so they can help you discover the programs that will work for your situation and help you plan ahead for your purchase.


Posted in:General
Posted by Michele Morse Reen on July 3rd, 2018 2:11 PM

The Bay Area real estate market continues to grow at exponential rates. Over the last six years, the median home price has surged by 143%. The area is currently experiencing a feverish high-demand, very-low-supply dynamic. The near-continuous hike in home prices means that many Bay Area homeowners have enjoyed surge in equity, thereby giving them the means to upgrade to larger homes.

However, many of the would-be homebuyers have their wealth tied up in their first home. They can’t afford to upgrade to a new house without selling the old one first. They could put in contingency offers on the homes they hope to buy, but with a long line of other buyers ready to put down all-cash offers, it may be difficult to compete.  

In an ideal world, they could sell their property at the same time as buying their new property, but two escrows would mean double the risk. If they sell their home first, they would need to rent until they find a new home and their offer gets accepted. However, with the high-demand of the Bay Area real estate market, it could take months or more, which means potentially wasting thousands of dollars on a rental property.

A potential solution to this type of dilemma is a getting a Bridge Loan. A Bridge Loan is not a replacement for a mortgage; it’s a loan secured by your current home as collateral. This type of loan is typically used by home buyers to purchase a new home prior to selling their current home. It’s a short-term loan that gets repaid within a six-month to three-year timeframe, depending on the terms that are negotiated.

Essentially, a Bridge Loan allows a Bay Area home buyer to purchase their second home, even if their first one hasn’t sold yet. Since the Bay Area real estate market is in no short supply of buyers, selling a home usually isn’t a problem, it’s just a matter of time – Bridge Loans allow for time.

If you want to further explore whether a Bridge Loan is right for your situation, contact us today. The Reen Team will give you the individual attention you deserve. We will help you understand the process to qualify, apply and be approved.

Call today at (408) 626-1879! You can also apply here.

Posted in:General
Posted by Michele Morse Reen on June 21st, 2018 12:41 PM
When you apply for a mortgage, we calculate your debt-to-income ratio to ensure you have enough income to comfortably pay for a new mortgage while still being able to pay your other monthly debts. Most underwriting for conventional mortgage loans requires a qualifying ratio of 28/36.

The Front-End Ratio considers and adds up your anticipated monthly mortgage payment, plus other monthly costs, such as homeowner association (HOA) fees, property taxes, mortgage insurance and homeowner’s insurance, and divides it by your gross monthly income.

The Back-End Ratio looks at your other payments and revolving debts such as minimum monthly credit card payments, student loan payments, alimony, child support and car payments – all of which are analyzed and added together. Then, those payments are added to your estimated monthly mortgage payment and housing expenses, and divided by your monthly gross income for your total debt-to-income ratio.

Here are some examples:

28/36 (Conventional)

  • Gross monthly income of $8,000 x .28 = $2,240 can be applied to housing
  • Gross monthly income of $8,000 x .36 = $2,880 can be applied to recurring debt, plus housing expenses

With a 29/41 (FHA) qualifying ratio

  • Gross monthly income of $8,000 x .29 = $2,320 can be applied to housing
  • Gross monthly income of $8,000 x .41 = $3,280 can be applied to recurring debt, plus housing expenses

If you would like to run your own numbers, we offer a Mortgage Loan Qualification Calculator. Remember, these ratios are only guidelines. Contact us and let us help you figure out what kind of payments would best fit your budget. We help home buyers every day achieve the dream of home ownership!

Posted in:General
Posted by Michele Morse Reen on May 29th, 2018 3:21 PM

At a recent Housing Wealth in Retirement Symposium held by The American College of Financial Services and the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., researchers and policymakers discussed the role of reverse mortgages under the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM).

They found that Reverse Mortgages are underutilized by seniors today and can in fact, help provide added retirement security to retirees when used appropriately. According to a study conducted by Laurie Goodman, PhD, founder and co-director of the Housing Finance Policy Center at The Urban Institute, less than one percent of eligible homeowners utilize a reverse mortgage today.

Chris Mayer, professor of real estate at Columbia Business School, stated that recent changes to the HECM program have added additional consumer protections. In fact, reverse mortgage programs that exist today offer more consumer protections than in the past. For example, currently, a homeowner is not on the hook for a HECM debt that exceeds their home value at the end of the loan.

Ultimately, the Housing Wealth in Retirement Symposium found that reverse mortgages deserve more attention from retirees because, when used appropriately, a reverse mortgage can help support a more financially secure retirement for seniors.

Many homeowners who are on a limited income and need additional funds find reverse mortgages advantageous for their circumstance. Social Security and Medicare benefits aren't affected by reverse mortgages and the funds are nontaxable.

The requirements of a reverse mortgage loan are:


  • Being 62 or older;
  • Using the home as your main residence; and
  • Keep current on taxes, insurance and home maintenance.

Paying back your loan is not required until when the borrower puts their home up for sale, moves somewhere else, such as into a care facility, or passes away.

If you want to further explore the advantages of *reverse mortgages, contact us today at (408) 626-1879!

Our loan professionals will give you the individual attention you need and deserve.

*Reverse mortgages are loans offered to homeowners who are 62 or older who have equity in their homes. The loan programs allow borrowers to defer payment on the loans until they pass away, sell the home, or move out. Homeowners, however, remain responsible for the payment of taxes, insurance, maintenance, and other items. Nonpayment of these items can lead to a default under the loan terms and ultimate loss of the home. FHA insured reverse mortgages have an up front and ongoing cost; ask your loan officer for details. These materials are not from, nor approved by HUD, FHA, or any governing agency.

Posted by Michele Morse Reen on May 10th, 2018 10:44 AM

With a reverse mortgage (technically known as a home equity conversion loan or HECM), homeowners over the age of 62 may use home equity for anything they need without selling their homes.

With a reverse mortgage, the loan is based on your home equity. You can decide how you would prefer to receive your funds: by a monthly payment, a line of credit or a lump sum. You don’t have to pay the loan, interest accrued and finance charges back until you sell the home or move into a care facility.

Many homeowners find reverse mortgages advantageous for their circumstance.

There are a lot of great reasons to take advantage of a reverse mortgage and we have decided to list the top three reasons why our clients rave about them.

Reason #1 Invest that money. The saying goes, “It takes money to make money.” A lot of retirees have money sitting in their home’s equity not doing much for them. However, many retirees are finding that they can use that equity to put it to good use. Some retirees have taken a reverse mortgage and purchased property that they can rent out to bring them more income. Social Security benefits don’t always offer enough to live a comfortable lifestyle. So, if you’re looking to supplement your retirement income, you can get a reverse mortgage to get a lump sum large enough to buy property you can rent out. In some cases, retirees are making $2,000 to $3,000 a month in extra income off their rental property.

Reason #2 Retire early. As individuals get older, it becomes more difficult to work full time. Whether for health reasons, or lack of high-paying jobs for seniors, sometimes early retirement is the best option. However, continuing to pay a regular mortgage can become a challenge for many seniors and early retirement may not be an obvious option. However, with a reverse mortgage, seniors over 62 can take their regular mortgage payment and put it into bills and a retirement account, such as a 401(k). Those investments will keep growing for several years, making you more money than it otherwise would have as equity. You may be better off leveraging the equity in your home and keeping the retirement savings in place because that’s earning more money. So, you can take that money to build a retirement savings that can last 10 to 20 years after you stop working. Or, if you have plenty in savings, you can stop working 10 years earlier because you planned.

Reason #3 Travel. Using a reverse mortgage for travel is used for seniors who have already planned for retirement and have savings tucked away, but don’t have enough disposable income to travel to places they’ve never been, or they want to address other wants on their bucket list. Some people live and work their whole lives and never get a chance to visit places they’ve only dreamed of visiting. There is a space of time in everyone’s life when there is time for travel and your health is relatively OK. Work has subsided, the kids are grown and you don’t need around-the-clock nursing care – a lot of time, but nothing to do. This is the time when seniors should take advantage of what they have worked hard for, such as utilizing the equity in their home, and using the time they have left wisely.

Don’t wait until you’re too old to travel. Use a reverse mortgage to travel so that you can look back fondly at the trips you took with your grandchildren, spouses or friends. Those are some of the greatest memories we can take with us through the journey of life.

Reverse mortgages do not affect your Social Security and Medicare benefits. Plus, the funds are non-taxable. Reverse Mortgages may have adjustable or fixed rates. Your home will not be taken away if you live past the loan term, nor will you be obligated to sell your residence to pay off the loan even when the loan balance grows to exceed current property value.

Contact us at (408) 626-1879 if you want to explore the advantages of reverse mortgages.

Posted by Michele Morse Reen on April 12th, 2018 9:42 AM

Is this the year you’ll finally buy that dream home? Have you been wondering whether you should wait until later in the year to start your homeownership journey?


Buying a home now

It may still be the “off-season” for home buying, but that is about to change with the arrival of Spring. Consider jumping into the housing market now to get ahead of the competition of Spring/Summer buyers and to avoid potentially higher mortgage rates that are being forecasted for 2018. Of course, you should always research your market and plan ahead. Let’s talk about some reasons to go ahead and buy a home now…

Why You Should Consider Buying a Home Now

  • Mortgage Rates Rising
    Since December 2017, mortgage rates have slowly been on the rise. Though rates are still at affordable levels, they are forecasted to continue to rise in 2018. As rates increase, so would your monthly payments on a new loan. More importantly, rates impact the purchase price you will be able to qualify for. Lenders qualify home buyers based on several factors, most notably your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). DTI is calculated by dividing total recurring monthly debt by gross monthly income, and it is expressed as a percentage. As rates rise, your DTI is impacted, which often decreases your buying power and therefore the price of the home you can afford. A good way to determine how much you will qualify for is to get pre-approved before you begin to shop for a home.
  • Less Competition in the Market
    April through June are the busiest months in the housing market, with the highest number of listings and the most people looking to buy a home. Buying before the busy season means you may have a better chance of having your purchase offer accepted and therefore less likely to end up in a bidding war.
  • Sellers are Motivated
    Homes that are on the market in the off-season may be there due to not selling in the past months or due to an urgent need (relocation, financial situation, life event) to list now and sell quickly, which means sellers are more willing to negotiate. You might need to be willing to compromise on what you want in a new home, but you also have an improved chance of getting a good deal.
  • Abundance of Industry Professionals
    During the off-season, real estate professionals are less busy and are working with fewer clients at one time. This means realtors, title companies, loan advisors, and others will have more time to devote to you and your home buying needs, helping the process to go even smoother and quicker.

Take the Next Step

If you want to take advantage of buying a home now and are ready to start down the path to homeownership, check out the tips from our First Time Homebuyers Checklist (even if you’re not buying for the first time!) and then our 5 Step Roadmap of the Home Loan Process. These tips and resources will help you plan for the step-by-step process as you partner with one of our expert loan advisors.

If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home now, we hope you’ll carefully consider your options and see why this might be a good time for you to purchase. If you’re ready, let us team up with you to make the process simpler!

Posted in:General
Posted by Michele Morse Reen on March 14th, 2018 2:17 PM

Buying a home involves more than just looking at houses that fit your wish list. There’s the loan process to think about as well. As part of that process, you know that there will be a loan application to complete, but do you know what information lenders are looking for on that application? You might be surprised.

Just know that we’re here to help you navigate the process and make it as simple as possible. Let’s take a look at what lenders generally will be looking for…

What Lenders Look for on Loan Applications


Credit Score and History - Lenders will be looking at your credit score and credit history. Your credit score is one of the main factors that helps determine what type of home loan and rate you will qualify for. You can check on your credit ahead of time and work on boosting your score.

Debt Ratio - Lenders consider your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which is your total monthly debt divided by your gross monthly income. Generally, lenders require a DTI of 43% or less. If your ratio is higher than that, don’t panic - there may still be loan programs available to you.

Income Type and Amount - Lenders will want to ensure that you have sufficient monthly income to cover your mortgage payments. This income includes salary and bonuses as well as income from dividends and interest. Depending on how much your income fluctuates may make a difference in how much documentation you need to provide. Please note: Try not to make any sudden employment changes right before applying for a home loan.

Employment History - Lenders will usually verify at least two years of your employment. They are looking at length of time in your profession, as well as whether your income is stable. If you are self-employed or own your own business, you should be ready to provide your tax returns and additional documentation. APM has loan programs to make documentation simpler for self-employed borrowers.

Assets and Reserves - Lenders will ask for bank and/or investment account statements for the past two months or more to confirm how much you have available in assets and cash reserves. They will be checking to make sure that funds have been there for several months and will ask for sources of any recent large deposits. Save up as much as you can to show that you can cover a few months of mortgage payments.

Down Payment Amount - Lenders will consider the amount of down payment you have, which will determine which loan programs are a fit as well as whether or not you will be paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). If you pay a 20% or more down payment, you will not require PMI and may qualify for more favorable loan rates and programs. If you have less than a 20% down payment, there are still plenty of loan programs available, mostly ranging from 3%-20% down payments as well as some zero down loan programs.

By being aware of what lenders will be looking for on loan applications, you will be better prepared and avoid feeling overwhelmed when you begin the process.


More Help With Loan Applications


Be sure to check out our additional resources to take the mystery out of the loan process and help you to know what to have ready for home loan applications:

Feeling ready to take on the home loan application process and begin your homeownership journey? We’re here to simplify the steps for you as well as help you through the process. Find your nearest friendly loan advisor and let’s do this together!

Posted in:General
Posted by Michele Morse Reen on March 6th, 2018 10:19 AM

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