First-Time Buyer: Planning for the Total Cost of Buying a House

If you are at the same time excited and terrified at the prospects of purchasing your first house, don’t worry, you are not the only one. This is probably the largest financial venture you will undertake so it is natural to be a bit nervous and to wish to research everything in detail so you can feel comfortable as much as possible. With that in mind, here is a list of certain expenses you need to keep in mind when you are planning the budget for your first home.

Prepare for the down payment

Everyone who has purchased a house, vehicle or other more expensive asset had to prepare for the down payment. It represents a portion of your new house’s price which is paid upfront and it can go up to 20 percent of that sum. For instance, if the house costs $200,000, the down payment would be $40,000 and if you saved up that amount, that means that you would have to acquire another $160,000 through a bank loan or some other financial scheme. Both your savings and the manner you would obtain the rest of the sum is something you need to plan for in advance to make sure you come up with the optimal solution when it comes to monthly installments and the length of the payment period. 


Keep in mind the house insurance

Taking out home and contents insurance is a small pre-purchase step which could mean a lot in case something happens. One of the most important features you should pay attention to is the 24/7 assistance, while others that could be of use include temporary accommodation in case the damage is substantial and counseling after a traumatic event. The insurance costs vary varies from property to property, and you can click here for home and contents insurance reviews to get more familiar with the conditions and choose the option which would suit you the most. Some things you need to ensure your new home and belongings against are fire, earthquake, storm, flood, and make sure you read the small print and to know exactly what is covered by the insurance.

Anticipate building inspection costs

Since you are buying a house for the first time, you probably don’t have much experience with assessing the offer and there is a reasonable fear among many people when they start looking for the first property that they might overpay for a place. This is why building inspection is a perfect manner to check the structural soundness so you don’t pay too much for a house that is essentially better to be knocked down and built again. These inspections usually cost up to $600 which is not a big amount, considering that it gives you peace of mind regarding a long-term investment that is much larger.


Don’t forget the moving expenses

In all the commotion regarding finding the perfect place and arranging the finances to purchase it, many people forget about moving. Since your belongings won’t magically appear in your new home, you need to take it very seriously, as well as the incurred expenses. Besides a lot of hard work related to decluttering, organizing items and cleaning the place, you will need packing supplies and a truck or a moving crew to transfer your things to the new place. Also, some people go for moving insurance, just to make sure they are safe if anything gets broken or damaged during a move, which is not impossible, having in mind the amount of (semi)fragile belongings that you might have. 

When you think you’ve found your dream house, before saying ‘I do’ to it, sit and think about all the expenses and plan your budget well so you can make sure that you having everything under control. That is the only manner you will be able to truly enjoy your new house and to consider it ‘home sweet home’.

The Reverse Mortgage Process: An Interview with Houtan Hormozian of CRESTICO Funding

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

At CRESTICO, we pride ourselves on being the company that is changing the face of the real estate industry with our top notch service philosophy which focuses on meeting your needs as a consumer. Our Home Ownership Services Strategy includes affiliations with mortgage, title and closing services, home warranty and other services that are essential in the real estate transactions that are made available to customers like you. It’s our attempt at making the home buying or selling experience less stressful to you, presented as a one-stop shopping experience. CRESTICO is your one-stop shop for all your real estate and mortgage lending needs. We were created for the purpose of serving a homeowner with the highest quality service and providing all the services you could possibly need in connection with the purchase and/or sale of your home.

We will work for you to get you everything you need. We have great relationships and ties in the community and real estate professionals, and can get you the best pricing possible on loans as well! Sometimes the details of buying and selling real estate can be confusing, scary, emotional and nerve racking. We believe in researching the details and presenting them in common terms in order to put your mind at ease and take you through the process with no stress and frustration.

Can you briefly explain what a reverse mortgage is?

A reverse mortgage is loan available to homeowners who are over 62 years of age. It enables them to convert some of their home equity into cash. Generally, it is a means to help retirees with limited income use the accumulated wealth in their homes to cover basic monthly living expenses and pay for health care. The loan is called a reverse mortgage because the traditional mortgage payback stream is reversed. Instead of making monthly payments to a lender, as with a traditional mortgage, the lender makes payments to the borrower.

What are the most common circumstances when a homeowner would qualify for a reverse mortgage and want to consider applying for one?

There are several factors required for a reverse mortgage, first the age qualification, meaning that borrowers listed on title must be 62 years old. Next, there must be a primary lien, meaning that a reverse mortgage must be the primary lien on the home. Any existing mortgage must be paid off using the proceeds from the reverse mortgage. (Reverse mortgage proceeds can be used.) Third, there are occupancy requirements, which means that the property used as collateral for the reverse mortgage must be the primary residence. Vacation homes and investor properties do not qualify. Fourth, there are the taxes and insurance which must be kept in current status along with other mandatory obligations, including condominium fees, or the borrower may be susceptible to default. Finally, the property condition must be kept up and the borrower is responsible for completing mandatory repairs and maintaining the condition of the property.

How long does the process typically take?

From application to closing, it generally takes 20 to 30 days, as in most typical real estate transactions.

What are some of the biggest issues you’ve seen homeowners in Southern California face when it comes to a reverse mortgage?

Unfortunately, California was one of the hardest hit markets in the recent economic crisis. Many seniors bore the brunt of the misfortune. Sadly, some lenders tended to aggressively pitch loans to seniors who cannot afford the fees associated with them, not to mention the property taxes and maintenance. Others wooed seniors with promises that the loans are free money that can be used to finance long-coveted cruises, without clearly explaining the risks. Some widows faced eviction after they were pressured to keep their name off the deed without being told that they could be left facing foreclosure after their husbands died. Now, as baby boomer generation heads for retirement and more seniors grapple with dwindling savings, the newly minted Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is working on new rules that could mean better disclosure for consumers and stricter supervision of lenders. More than 775,000 of such loans are outstanding, according to the federal government.

What advice would you give to people in the Southern California area who need help with a home loan?

I would encourage them to educate themselves on the options that they have when it comes to loan products and mortgage programs. At CRESTICO, we believe that the educated consumer always makes the best decision for himself and his family which ultimately results in a better society and economic environment for everyone.

What’s the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

You can visit us on the web at or contact me directly via email at[email protected] or by telephone at (310) 933-4748.

The worst mortgage advice you could get

Bad mortgage advice could cost you tons of money and time.

Are you thinking about buying or refinancing a home in the near future? If so, chances are you’re getting all kinds of advice from well-intentioned friends and family.

Just remember to keep this important piece of advice in mind: Don’t listen to everything you hear. According to industry professionals, some words of wisdom are not wise at all.

To help you separate the bad advice from the good, check out five common statements that should cause you to cover your ears immediately.

Bad Advice No. 1: “A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is best for everyone.”

The common perception is that a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is always the best option, because it typically offers lower monthly payments than other shorter-term mortgages. But the kicker is that interest payments over the course of the loan can be quite substantial when compared to mortgages with shorter terms and lower interest rates.

Consider this example based on rates from Freddie Mac, as of March 20, 2014:

A 30-year loan on a $200,000 property with a 4.32 percent interest rate has a monthly payment of $992 and interest payments totaling $157,153 over the life of the loan. On the other hand, a 15-year loan for the same property with a 3.32 percent rate has monthly payments of $1,412 and yields $54,187 in total interest paid. So by opting for the shorter mortgage, you could save more than $100,000 in interest, which is worth it if you can meet those higher monthly payments.

Whether or not a 30-year fixed mortgage is the right choice depends on the borrower’s goals and financial situation, says Houtan Hormozian, vice president of Crestico Funding, a Los Angeles-based mortgage brokerage firm.

For example, if you have cash saved up for job, family, or medical emergencies and you already have college and retirement funds set up, then a 15-year mortgage might be a better option. Without money saved up, losing a job or an expensive surgery could deal a hard blow to someone’s finances, including their ability to make mortgage payments.

Bad Advice No. 2: “Stay away from adjustable-rate mortgages.”

An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) is a loan with an interest rate that is fixed for a period of time then adjusts, causing the ARM payments to increase or decrease.

ARMs get a bad rap, because they’re seen as risky products that contributed to the housing bubble, easy credit, and ultimately, the subprime mortgage crisis.

“The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the most popular type, because everyone is afraid of adjustable [rates],” Hormozian says.

In fact, only 3 percent of homebuyers chose adjustable-rate mortgages in the first half of 2013, reports Freddie Mac. With that low figure it’s easy to get scared off, too. But the fear associated with ARMs is somewhat unjustified, according to Hormozian.

“Depending on the consumer, circumstances, and knowledge of their economic situation, there could be an ARM that fits them,” says Frank Percival, board president of the Washington Association of Mortgage Professionals.

One major benefit of an ARM is that it typically will have a lower interest rate than fixed-rate mortgages at the outset. For example, a 5/1 ARM will have an initial fixed rate for the first five years then adjusts afterward.

This is a great option for homeowners who plan on moving out of their house before the rate adjusts. However, this does carry some risk, since personal finances and the condition of the housing market may make moving difficult in a set amount of time.

So choosing an ARM may come down to your financial situation and your aversion to risk. Percival explains that if a homebuyer with a 5/1 ARM saves $200 a month in interest compared to a 30-year fixed mortgage, it may make sense to choose that type of loan. However, if someone wants to err on the side of caution, given the risks discussed, a 30-year fixed mortgage might be the more sensible choice.

Bad Advice No. 3: “If your home is underwater, consider a short sale.”

“When the housing market was bad a year or a year and a half ago and the values of homes were low, people were encouraged from realtors [and] buddies at work to walk away from their home,” says Percival. He calls this “one of the worst pieces of advice in recent history.”

If desperate homeowners took that advice, they would usually do a short sale on their home. What exactly is that? It’s a real estate transaction in which a lender agrees to let the borrower sell his or her property for less than – or “short” of – what is owed on the mortgage.

Even if your home is underwater, it’s a bad idea, asserts Percival. If homeowners can still afford to make their mortgage payments, then they shouldn’t do a short sale.

“People who didn’t have medical emergencies or lose their jobs were dropping their keys and leaving their homes,” Percival says. This is a dumb choice, he adds, since it’s possible that their home value could go have gone up.

Plus, if you do a short sale, you may have to wait several years to qualify for a home again, says Percival. The reason? Because a short sale usually lowers your credit score just as a foreclosure would, according to myFICO, the consumer division of FICO. Shortsellers may be able to qualify for a mortgage in as little as two years, but this may depend on a variety of factors, like how much you are able to put down.

Beyond your own finances, short sales have a far-reaching effect, according to Percival.

“Every short sale or foreclosure reduces the value of every home in the neighborhood,” he says. “If folks would have waited for the recovery to kick in and housing prices to go up, they could have sold it at a profit. People just wanted to walk away from debt.”

Bad Advice No. 4: “An FHA loan is your only option.”

First-time homebuyers are particularly susceptible to bad advice. For example, homeowners who can’t afford a large down payment may hear that a government-backed FHA loan is their only option, since the down payment requirement can be as low as 3.5 percent of a house’s purchase price. But that’s not necessarily the case.

Some homeowners might be surprised that getting a conventional loan might be better suited – and easier – for them than an FHA loan, says Aaron Vantrojen, president of the Arizona Association of Mortgage Professionals, says.

The standards to qualify for an FHA loan have tightened, says Vantrojen. Plus, the FHA loan has become more expensive in recent years due to its rising mortgage insurance premium (MIP).

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the mortgage insurance on an FHA loan must be carried for the life of the loan. On the other hand, the private mortgage insurance (PMI) on conventional home loans can be dropped when equity in the home reaches 20 percent, Vantrojen says.

As a result of dropping the insurance premium, homeowners can save thousands of dollars in the long run. “The annual mortgage insurance for FHA loans is so high, we are trying to get people into conventional loans if they qualify,” Vantrojen says.

The biggest advantage FHA loans have over conventional loans is the low down payment requirement. But conventional loans, with a 5 percent down-payment required, might be a better deal when you factor in the mortgage insurance payments, says Vantrojen.

“I will always look at options for conventional loans [for homebuyers],” says Vantrojen, president of Geneva Financial, a mortgage banking firm based in Tempe, Arizona. “The guidelines for conventional loans are changing, and a person who couldn’t qualify for one a month ago might be able to qualify now.”

Bad Advice No. 5: “Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.”

If you’re in the market for purchasing a home loan and in need of a little guidance, you might want to think twice about listening to someone who tells you: “Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.”

“One of the most common mistakes is not getting advice from a mortgage investment advisor,” says Hormozian. “Any time you don’t seek advice from a professional, you could be in trouble.”

But not all mortgage professionals are created equal, which is why Hormozian says homebuyers should make an effort to consult and get the opinions of established mortgage advisors, licensed mortgage companies, and reputable professionals when they are ready to purchase a loan.

“At the end of the day, my job is to make sure my client will have a comfortable life and a sound investment,” Hormozian says. “If I feel they are going to have a hard time making a payment or living up to that liability, I have to advise against it.”

For example, if someone tells you it’s a great idea to buy investment property as a source of instant income, you better consider the source. Instead of talking to real estate agents, homebuyers should talk to unbiased resources, who could help them avoid potential mortgage heartaches, says Vantrojen.

 “Do your due diligence, talk to industry professionals – people who have been real estate investors and [who] can tell you the highs and lows of owning real estate,” he explains.

If owning a new home for you and your family is a main objective, Percival says it might be a good idea to check whether you are dealing with licensed mortgage professionals. He suggests verifying mortgage loan originators (MLOs) and their MLO license numbers through the National Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS), which performs this service for free.



Is a 30 year fixed mortgage loan a waste of money?

Some people may say yes!

Upward sloping yield curve. It’s important to understand that due to the time value of money and inflation, the longer you borrow the higher your interest rate. If you borrow money from me today to pay me back tomorrow, I won’t charge you interest.  But, if you want to borrow money from me today, to pay back over the next 30 years, you better hell believe I’m going to charge you an interest rate above inflation to counteract inflation, make some money, and bake in some risk of default.

Average length of stay. First of all, the average duration one lives in and owns a home is 7 years. If that’s the case, what on earth are you doing borrowing a 30-year fixed rate mortgage for? A 23 year + overestimation of ownership is a serious miscalculation based on the statistics at hand. With a 5/1 ARM, your underestimation is only 2 years, but you already have baked that in.

Match fixed rate with length of stay. If you plan to live in your house for 10 years, take out a 10 year fixed rate (amortizing over 30 years) as the most conservative loan duration. A 10 year fixed rate is cheaper than a 20 year or 30 year fixed rate.  It is only logical that you match your mortgage fixed rate with your expected duration of stay. Sure, you might stay longer, but you might also stay shorter as well. If you know you plan to stay in your house forever, it’s more justifiable to take out a 30-year fixed, but I still wouldn’t because 1) You will likely pay down your loan faster than 30 years, and 2) The spreads are unjustly high in this environment.

Adjustable rate loans have an interest rate cap. People think, thanks to fear mongering by the media and mortgage officers, that once the adjustable rate loan period is over, your mortgage rate will skyrocket and make things super unaffordable.  This is not the case because everything is relative and rates are capped. I’m refinancing to a 5/1 ARM at 2.625% with all fees included, and after 5 years, the interest rate can reset one time to a maximum of 7.25%. Whoopdee doo!  After 5 years, if I don’t pay any extra principal, my principal mortgage amount is about 10% less. A 7.25% mortgage rate on a 10% lower principal amount is very digest-able.

If rates rocket higher, you will be celebrating. Things don’t happen in a vacuum. The 10-year yield is a reflection of inflation expectations. If the 10-year yield, and therefore mortgage rates are skyrocketing, that means inflation expectations are at the very least skyrocketing. However, you don’t have inflation expectations going higher unless demand for real goods and services going higher. Higher demand is a reflection of a stronger economy, and your real assets (property), by very definition or inflating!  So what if inflation rises from 2% to 5%, causing your mortgage to reset to 7% due to the 2% spread?  If your home is now inflating by 5%, and you have a 80% loan-to-value ratio, your cash on cash return is going up by 25%!

0 years in a row of deflation. Look at the historical 10-year treasury yield. Rates have gone down for 30 years in a row.  That’s right folks. THIRTY YEARS!  Are you telling me there’s no trend here? Are you saying that we are going to see massive inflation spikes on the way (which are fine as I just wrote) all of a sudden? In these 30 years, we’ve become a much more efficient society who enacts monetary and fiscal policy in anticipation or with shorter lead times. Yes, there will be occasional upward blips in pricing, but I highly doubt there will be a 5-10 year continuous ramp in inflation, which means your 5-10 year ARM is just fine.

Are Loan Officers (LO) legally liable for their company’s comp plan?

Section 129B(d) of TILA, as added by the Dodd-Frank Act, permits consumers to bring actions against individual mortgage loan originators for violations of certain provisions of TILA.  For example, while LO’s can be held personally liable for receiving compensation in violation of the Rule, they are not personally liable under TILA/LO Comp for failing to maintain the records of compensation required by the rule.  The LO Comp Rule, which implements the DFA’s statutory authority confirms this personal liability through its changes to Reg. Z’s definitions. Specifically, the change to § 1026.36 (a)(1)in the LO Comp Rule clarifies the definition of “loan originator” to mean either the individual LO or the company.  The following is from the CFPB’s small business compliance guide which seeks to use plain language explanations for the Rule (although it still warns you that you need to see the actual Rule for details):  “A “loan originator” is either an “individual loan originator” or a “loan originator organization.” “Individual loan originators” are natural persons, such as individuals who perform loan origination activities and work for mortgage brokerage firms or creditors.  “Loan originator organizations” are generally loan originators that are not natural persons, such as mortgage brokerage firms and sole proprietorships”

TILA is confusing for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest areas of confusion in the LO Comp and Ability to Repay rules are the differing obligations imposed on “Creditors”, “Loan Originators”, and “Loan Originator Organizations”.  These definitions are critical in determining who is responsible for any obligation under TILA.  LO comp is one of the few times where the obligation extends all the way down to the individual LO, but the liability is potentially huge. I don’t know about the issue from the LO’s perspective (ask an attorney; see below) – does the borrower have a life of loan defense? As best I understand it, the life of loan defense is true as it relates to foreclosure but the remedy is not a free house, it is three years of interest and other fees (loan, attorney) – a monetary judgment. So there shouldn’t be any runs on any particular company.

Attorney Brad Hargrave (MedlinHargrave) writes, “Loan originator compensation is one area of Truth in Lending and Regulation Z wherein someone other than a creditor; namely, the loan originator, can also be held liable for a violation.  The citation in support of this proposition is found at 15 USC §1639b(d)(1) which provides, in pertinent part, that ‘for purposes of providing a cause of action for any failure by a mortgage originator, other than a creditor, to comply with any requirement under this section, and any regulation prescribed under this section, section 1640 shall be applied with respect to any such failure by substituting ‘mortgage originator’ for ‘creditor’ each place such term appears in each such subsection.’  And, §1640 is that section of TILA that imposes civil liability for various TILA violations, including those sections regarding LO Compensation.  (I have not addressed the recoupment and setoff issues in the event of foreclosure in the context of the LO, given that an LO would not be the party initiating the foreclosure; and thus, this section really isn’t applicable to an LO).”

Mr. Hargrave’s note continues, “The penalties are potentially severe. In an individual civil action brought by a consumer, the creditor who paid the violative compensation could be liable to the borrower for actual damages, plus twice the amount of any finance charge in the transaction (capped at $4,000), plus an amount equal to the sum of all finance charges and fees paid by the consumer (unless the creditor can demonstrate that the failure to comply is not material), plus reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs if the borrower were to prevail.  The loan originator’s exposure to such a claim (per 15 USC § 1639b(d)(2))is the greater of actual damages to the consumer or three times the total amount of direct and indirect compensation paid to the LO in connection with the subject loan, plus the costs to the consumer of the action, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.  In addition, the CFPB could sue the creditor and the loan originator in Federal District Court and seek any one of a number of remedies, including restitution and/or disgorgement, and appropriate injunctive relief, as to all loans wherein the LO received unlawful compensation.  It is also possible that the matter could be referred to another agency for enforcement.”