WWU Fall Quarter 2011 Commencement

Congratulations to Bellingham WWU Graduates

Congratulations to WWU Grads of Fall 2011

Congratulations to WWU Grads of Fall 2011

There was standing room only at Carver Gym yesterday afternoon as WWU held its Fall commencement exercises for approximately 600 undergraduates & about 40 masters candidates.  Lylene & I had a vested interest in this Fall’s event as our youngest son, Graham, was one of the 600 sitting out in front of us waiting for the opportunity to move the tassel on his graduation cap from the right side to the left.

 Needless to say there were years of thoughts and memories that were going through everyone’s minds as we all sat and listened to the commencement speakers and the graduates being introduced.  I can only speak for myself remembering the laughter & tears that got us to this point, and all I can say Graham is that we love you & that your Mom & I feel lucky to have been part of the Journey.

Proud parents with their son - a WWU Graduate

Proud parents with their son - a WWU Graduate

So, Fall Graduates, we wish you the best, the World awaits you & needs your enthusiasm, energy, hope and ideas.

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Bankruptcy vs Short Sale

This Attorney Never Recommends Short Sale

We had a local bankruptcy attorney speak at our sales meeting this past week and were given a whole new perspective on short sales.  We all know that many people are in trouble with their home loans and other debt, and we hear a great deal about short sales and foreclosures, but this is the first time I have heard bankruptcy discussed as an alternative.  If spoken of at all, it is usually as a last resort, to be avoided if at all possible – perhaps because the perception is that the bankrupt person is left with nothing and can get no credit for 7 to 10 years.  It seems that isn’t the reality. 

Before continuing, let me emphasize that I am not an expert in this area and strongly advise you to talk with an attorney before taking any action.  The purpose of this article is to get you thinking enough to thoroughly explore your options.

There seem to be 2 kinds of bankruptcy that are most commonly used by individuals:  Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.  They are quite different, but in neither case is the individual stripped of everything (s)he owns.  Chapter 7 takes about 4 months to complete.  Assets are sold and creditors are paid according to the type of security they have (a mortgage would be a strong security interest).  The person filing can keep up to $125,000 of their home equity (if they have no equity, they can keep up to $11,000 per individual or $22,000 per couple from other assets).  They can keep all retirement accounts.  They can keep up to $3200 value in a vehicle and a variety of household goods, clothing, etc.

If someone wants to keep their house, they would look at Chapter 13.  This puts a foreclosure on hold and provides for a financial reorganization of the filer’s assets and liabilities.  A plan is submitted to the court to bring the filer current with the debt over a period of 3 to 5 years, and portions of the debt may be shed (sounds like 2nd mortgages and credit cards are particularly vulnerable).  Part of the plan may be a mortgage modification under the federal HAMP program that can lower interest rates or principal.  The attorney calls Chapter 13 bankruptcy “a debt reorganization plan that works,” unlike scams advertised on late night TV or  phone calls from telemarketers who promise, but can’t deliver. 

Banks servicing loans held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are required by law to participate in the HAMP (Making Home Affordable) program although some large lenders seem to make it so difficult that it simply never happens.    A person does not have to be in bankruptcy to use the program, but it sounds as though a letter from a bankruptcy attorney moves it along much more quickly. 

So why does the attorney advise against short sales and in favor of bankruptcy?  In a short sale, the homeowner may very well end the process without their house but still owing money to the lender (it is called “the deficiency) because the lender may not otherwise give permission for the sale.  Neither form of bankruptcy leaves debt hanging over the filer, and with Chapter 13, they may also keep their house.

This is a very simple overview of a complex process.  If you are behind on your mortgage, underwater in your home value or struggling to pay your bills, check out all your options.  The impact on your life and your family is too big to make an uninformed decision.

Questions About Bellingham/Whatcom County Real Estate

Distressed Properties Come in Many Guises

Recently, when we think of a distressed property, we think of an owner who is behind on their payments or who owes more on their home than it is worth.  Other types of distress can cause a property to be sold at auction…as noted in the following question:

I just saw a notice in the classified section of the newspaper saying that my neighbor’s property is going to be sold at auction to pay the back taxes.  Can I just go pay the taxes?

Yes, you can…and if you would do it to save the property for your neighbor, I must say that is an incredibly nice thing for you to do.  Paying the taxes will remove the lien.  On the other hand, if your idea is that you can pay the taxes and get the property, you need to hold off for the auction.  The process goes something like this: 

     In the State of Washington, when a property owner is 3 years delinquent in tax payments, the County in which the property is located can give notice to the owner, through mailed and published notices, that they intend to foreclose on the property unless the owner brings the taxes current.  The notice process is defined by law as to when and how notice must be given.  If the owner does nothing, the property is auctioned on the courthouse steps (in Whatcom County, it happens inside the courthouse rotunda) on the designated Friday morning.  Buyers must have cash or its equivalent.  Any amount generated more than the taxes due and foreclosure fees is paid to the owner.  It is also interesting to note that the same process can be initiated by a homeowners association for non-payment of dues.

     In both cases, there is no title insurance provided (a buyer might want to check the title ahead of time and buy a title policy), there is no opportunity to look inside any structures and there is no disclosure of property condition, so there are some risks.  In addition, it may be possible for the owner to come back for up to a year after the sale and reclaim the property upon payment of all the costs. 

     It may be a screamin’ deal, but buyer beware!

 

Bellingham Real Estate Loan Rates Lowest in Years

Bellingham WA Home Loan Interest  Rates and Tips

Interest rates are incredible right now – a radio news program today said they are at a 50 year low. 

A financing tip from Sidneysstonecypher-137c

You Must Disclose All Debt:   When making application for a home loan, be sure to list ALL debts to creditors – it’s a good idea to take a look at your latest bank statement so that you don’t forget automatic payments.  Sometimes a brand new line of credit, credit card or car loan may not show up on your credit report for a while, but it will show up as a credit inquiry.  Many lenders are now requesting a letter from the borrower to explain any recent credit inquiries and resulting balances owed.  If any additional liabilities or an increase in existing credit are found during the loan application process, the lender is required to re-qualify the borrower based on the new information.  Re-qualification may impact the interest rate, points & borrower’s ability to qualify based upon current program guidelines.  One big No-No…don’t buy furniture for that new house on your credit card before you close on the house…you may not have a place to put it.

Home loan rates as of Wednesday, May 26 are in the following table.  For more details, or a custom quote, contact Sidney Stonecypher at People’s Bank, 360-676-4597 or sidney.stonecypher@peoplesbank-wa.com.  Remember that many variables come into play in determining the rate a lender will give a borrower.  If you are getting a rate quote from a lender who does not have all your information, that rate may not be real.  What with the low rates, it is a great time to buy a house!

  Down Payment Interest Rate APR Credit Score Points

Conventional 30 yr fixed

20%

4.50%

4.653%

740

1

Conventional 15 yr fixed

20%

4.00%

4.205%

740

1

Jumbo 30 yr fixed

20%

6.00%

6.112%

740

1

FHA 30 yr fixed

3.5%

4.375%

4.787%

580*

1

VA 30 yr fixed

0%

4.375%

4.760%

*

1

*Score requirement will vary by lender

 If you have other questions about financing, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will get you the answer.  If you are wondering, other people probably are as well.  For general financing and market information, check out our website.

Bellingham Real Estate Loan Rates continue to Drop

Bellingham WA Home Loan Rates and Tips

Rates across the board dropped this week, anywhere from .125% to .25%.  The soft economy does have some upside.

A financing tip from Sidney: sstonecypher-137c

Interest Only Loans are Still Available:   Fannie Mae will still buy interest only loans (which means lenders will still offer them), but there have been some changes.  Refinance loans with cash back to the borrower or loans on investment properties are no longer eligible for interest only.  Primary residence loans are available with interest only payments, provided that the borrower has a credit score of at least 720 and the loan to value ratio is no more than 70% (the appraisal must come in at least 30% higher than the amount of the loan).  Other investors will also do interest only loans on these terms, with one additional requirement:  the borrower must have verifiable reserves of at least 24 months of payments.  

Home loan rates as of Thursday, May 20 are in the following table.  For more details, or a custom quote, contact Sidney Stonecypher at People’s Bank, 360-676-4597 or sidney.stonecypher@peoplesbank-wa.com.  Remember that many variables come into play in determining the rate a lender will give a borrower.  If you are getting a rate quote from a lender who does not have all your information, that rate may not be real.  What with the low rates, it is still a great time to buy a house!

  Down Payment Interest Rate APR Credit Score Points

Conventional 30 yr fixed

20%

4.50%

4.641%

740

1

Conventional 15 yr fixed

20%

4.00%

4.164%

740

1

Jumbo 30 yr fixed

20%

5.375%

5.486%

740

1

FHA 30 yr fixed

3.5%

4.25%

4.664%

580*

1

VA 30 yr fixed

0%

4.25%

4.635%

*

1

*Score requirement will vary by lender

 If you have other questions about financing, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will get you the answer.  If you are wondering, other people probably are as well.  For general financing and market information, check out our website.

Little Change to Bellingham Real Estate Loan Rates

Bellingham WA Home Loan Rates and Tips

Bellingham WA Home Loan Rates and Tips

FHA & VA loan rates dropped by .25% this past week, while a conventional 15 year fixed rate loan dropped .125% and the Jumbo 30 year fixed rate increased that amount.  There isn’t much in that summary to complain about!

A financing tip from Sidneysstonecypher-137c

FHA…or No FHA?  FHA loans (backed by the Federal Housing Administration) are popular because they require a down payment of as little as 3.5%, as compared to at least 20% for a conventional loan with a similar credit score.  There are some limits to keep in mind, however:  typically a home must meet somewhat higher condition standards, an FHA loan will cost a seller more money and a condo building must be FHA approved.  Most condo buildings in Whatcom County are not FHA approved, so before you fall in love with a unit, you might want to search for it on the list of  FHA-approved condos on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website at https://entp.hud.gov/idapp/html/condlook.cfm.  It could save you a letdown down the road.

Home loan rates as of Wednesday, May 12 are in the following table.  For more details, or a custom quote, contact SidneyStonecypher at People’s Bank, 360-676-4597 or sidney.stonecypher@peoplesbank-wa.com.  Remember that many variables come into play in determining the rate a lender will give a borrower.  If you are getting a rate quote from a lender who does not have all your information, that rate may not be real.  What with the low rates, it is still a great time to buy a house!

 

Down Payment Interest Rate APR Credit Score Points

Conventional 30 yr fixed

20%

4.75%

4.841%

740

1

Conventional 15 yr fixed

20%

4.125%

4.345%

740

1

Jumbo 30 yr fixed

20%

5.500%

5.604%

740

1

FHA 30 yr fixed

3.50%

4.500%

4.898%

580*

1

VA 30 yr fixed

0%

4.500%

4.872%

*

1

*Score requirement will vary by lender

 If you have other questions about financing, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will get you the answer.  If you are wondering, other people probably are as well.  For general financing and market information, check out our website.

Bellingham Real Estate Loan Rates Drop a Bit

Bellingham WA Home Loan Rates and Tips

The expected jump in real estate loan rates has not materialized – they just keep creeping up and back, which is good news.  This week FHA & VA rates dropped just a tad…every little bit helps!

A financing tip from Sidney

Mortgage Fraud.  It’s a phrase that has been used a lot over the past months, and it is a very big deal (think full and immediate payment of the loan, six-figure fines & jail time), but it may actually consist of very small actions.  A little hedge here, a little puff there, a little something that the loan officer “doesn’t want to see”… they are all loan fraud, and if your loan officer or real estate agent suggests they are “okay”, don’t believe them.  The bottom line is that the lender needs to know everything about your financial situation and the details of the transaction, and it is your responsibility as the borrower to make sure they do.

Home loan rates as of Wednesday, May 5 are in the following table.  For more details, or a custom quote, contact SidneyStonecypher at People’s Bank, 360-676-4597 or sidney.stonecypher@peoplesbank-wa.com.  Remember that many variables come into play in determining the rate a lender will give a borrower.  If you are getting a rate quote from a lender who does not have all your information, that rate may not be real.  What with the low rates, it is still a great time to buy a house!

  Down Payment Interest Rate APR Credit Score Points

Conventional 30 yr fixed

20%

4.75%

4.86%

740

1

Conventional 15 yr fixed

20%

4.250%

4.406%

740

1

Jumbo 30 yr fixed

20%

5.3750%

5.494%

740

1

FHA 30 yr fixed

3.50%

4.6250%

5.041%

580*

1

VA 30 yr fixed

0%

4.625%

5.016%

*

1

*Score requirement will vary by lender

If you have other questions about financing, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will get you the answer.  If you are wondering, other people probably are as well.  For general financing and market information, check out our website.

Loan Rates for Bellingham Real Estate Dip Again

Bellingham WA Home Loan Rates and Tips

Expectations of higher interest rates were not realized this week, as some rates softened a bit from 2 weeks ago.  The rate for a conventional, 30 year fixed rate loan dropped to 4.875% and the jumbo 30 year fixed rate was down to 5.5%.  The rest held steady 

A financing tip from Sidney

If you are planning to take advantage of either home buyer tax credit ($8,000 for a first time buyer or $6,500 for a repeat buyer), remember that you must have a signed contract in place no later than April 30, and the transaction must close no later than June 30.

Home loan rates as of Wednesday, April 21 are in the following table.  For more details, or a custom quote, contact SidneyStonecypher at People’s Bank, 360-676-4597 or sidney.stonecypher@peoplesbank-wa.com.  Remember that many variables come into play in determining the rate a lender will give a borrower.  If you are getting a rate quote from a lender who does not have all your information, that rate may not be real.  What with the low rates and the tax credits, it is a great time to buy a house!

  Down Payment Interest Rate APR Credit Score Points

Conventional 30 yr fixed

20%

4.875%

5.130%

740

1

Conventional 15 yr fixed

20%

4.250%

4.469%

740

1

Jumbo 30 yr fixed

20%

5.50%

5.747%

740

1

FHA 30 yr fixed

3.50%

4.750%

5.172%

580*

1

VA 30 yr fixed

0%

4.750%

5.148%

*

1

*Score requirement will vary by lender

 If you have other questions about financing, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will get you the answer.  If you are wondering, other people probably are as well.  For general financing and market information, check out our website.

Bellingham WA Home Loan Rates Rise

Bellingham WA Home Loan Rates and Tips

The interest rate increases we have been expecting are starting to appear.  Over the past 2 weeks, rates have increased in all sectors except conventional 15 year fixed rate.  The others are up by .125% except for the 30 year fixed rate, which increased by .25%.

A financing tip from Sidney

Now that down payment requirements have also increased, more planning is required if you want to buy a home.  Sidney suggests the following as sources of down payment money:

  • Set up an automatic savings plan
  • Get a gift from parents or grandparents
  • Sell a car, motorcycle, boat or collectibles (keep records, bill of sale, transfer of title, copies of checks received
  • Liquidate stocks, mutual funds, savings bonds or other investments

Down payments need to be “sourced and seasoned”.  What this means is that the lender will want to know how, where and when the funds were obtained.

Home loan rates as of Wednesday, April 8 are in the following table.  For more details, or a custom quote, contact SidneyStonecypher at People’s Bank, 360-676-4597 or sidney.stonecypher@peoplesbank-wa.com.  Remember that many variables come into play in determining the rate a lender will give a borrower.  If you are getting a rate quote from a lender who does not have all your information, that rate may not be real.  What with the low rates and the tax credits, it is a great time to buy a house!

  Down Payment Interest Rate APR Credit Score Points

Conventional 30 yr fixed

20%

5.000%

5.130%

740

1

Conventional 15 yr fixed

20%

4.250%

4.469%

740

1

Jumbo 30 yr fixed

20%

5.75%

5.747%

740

1

FHA 30 yr fixed

3.50%

4.750%

5.172%

580*

1

VA 30 yr fixed

0%

4.750%

5.148%

*

1

*Score requirement will vary by lender

 If you have other questions about financing, don’t hesitate to contact us and we will get you the answer.  If you are wondering, other people probably are as well.  For general financing and market information, check out our website.

ROOROO the Great!

 The Cutest Dog Story Ever  by  Rheagen Leenstra

 

OK THIS MAY BE THE CUTEST DOG STORY OUT THERE AND I HAVE HEARD A LOT OF DOG STORY’S AND OTHER CUTE STORY’S BUT THIS IS FIRST PLACE!!!!  PLEASE READ THIS AND TAKE YOURSELF TO THE WORLD OF GRAHAM (DOG OWNER).

      MIA IS A DOG.  ONE DAY THIS VERY SPECIAL AND IMPORTANT DOG GOT LOST FOR SEVERAL DAYS…4 TO BE EXACT!  SHE WAS BEING DSCN0726SEEN EVERYWHERE BY PEOPLE BUT SHE WAS SO SCARED THAT SHE WOULD NEVER COME TO ANYONE!  SHE WAS BEING SPOTTED FROM VARIOUS PLACES AROUND TOWN AND WAS SO HARD TO LOCATE!  ME BEING A FRIEND OF GRAHAM’S I WAS HELPING LOOK FOR MIA.  ME AND MY MOM AND SISTER WERE LOOKING EVERYWHERE AND WE WERE BEING TOLD THAT SHE WAS HERE THAN THERE SO PRETTY MUCH EVERYWHERE!  WE LOOKED FOR ABOUT AN HOUR.  PEOPLE WERE VERY SUPPORTIVE PUTTING UP THESE SIGNS!

WE LOOKED FOR ANOTHER HOUR OR SO WHEN WE FINALLY GOT A PHONE CALL @ CLOSE TO 8:30 AND TERESA AND PATTY (TWO OF THE FRIENDS HELPING) SAID THEY WERE POOPED AND COULDN’T FIND HER ANYWHERE!  THEN 4 SECONDS AFTER THEY SAID THAT MIA JUMPED OUT OF THE WOODS AND KISSED TERESA AND PATTY’S DOGS THAT THEY HAD COME ALONG AND TERESA GOT A HOLD OF HER AND EVERYONE CAME TO SEE THE REUNITE OF GRAHAM AND MIA.  FATHER AND DAUGHTER IS WHAT I LIKE TO CALL THEM!

   SO THERE THE STORY COMES TO A CLOSE BUT REMEMBER MIA WAS OUT THERE FOR 4 DAYS AND SHE IS HOME SAFE AND SOUND!  SO DON’T LOSE HOPE AND KEEP LOOKING IF YOU LOSE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO YOU! 🙂