Michael J. Kanuka
Author Archives: Michael J. Kanuka

Short Sellers Are Back

Homeowners who entered into short sales after the U.S. Housing Crisis are back purchasing homes again.

Between 2010 to 2014, a significant number of foreclosures took place. Lenders exercised steps to take title to many homes – typically because borrowers were unwilling or unable to correct their late payments or defaults. Now, 7 years after receiving a Certificate of Title evidencing the property foreclosure sale, many borrowers can qualify for conventional financing (only 3 years to qualify for FHA financing).

Instead of allowing a foreclosure, however, many people took the time to sell their homes for less than the amount of the outstanding debt – at the approval of their lenders. As indicated in the following chart, these “short sale” arrangements require less of a waiting period to obtain a conventional mortgage than the waiting period for a foreclosure.

Years of Seasoning for Mortgage Qualification:












Short Sale




Provided 4 years have elapsed since the HUD-1 Closing Statement was finalized from a short sale, mortgage financing can generally be made available again (only 3 years for FHA, and 2 for Veterans Administration loans). These waiting periods are the same if, instead of a short sale, title to the property was voluntarily transferred to the lender in exchange for a release from the mortgage obligation – i.e., a Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure (DIL).

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), short sales and DIL’s are down at least 65% since 2014 – and therefore a large segment of home purchasers are buying homes again, which is contributing to increased home values.

Here’s the Point: Many people are now able to qualify for mortgage financing, now that their short sale or foreclosure seasoning periods are over since the U.S. Housing Crisis.

Irma The Monster

Were you really ready?  

hurricane irma

According to the National Hurricane Center, Irma is among the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and one of the five most forceful storms to hit the Atlantic basin in 82 years.  Her size covers the entire State of Florida at least more than two times.  And just when you think she may by-pass your home or where you are located, the outer edges of Irma’s vastness introduce tornadoes more powerful than the pulverizing winds of the hurricane itself – and major flooding takes place from the storm surge waves and heavy rain deluge!

As the behemoth approaches, we see images of the path of devastation she leaves behind.  These heartbreaking scenes prepare us for the worst, and yet most of us will never experience the true wrath of the storm like those who have lost everything.  Imagine if those who were not so lucky elected to forgo obtaining wind insurance for their homes and possessions? 

We all quickly get our priorities straight by:

  • Having a clear plan of action to keep your family safe
  • Storing up on food, water and other emergency supplies
  • Boarding up our homes and securing our possessions

But as the behemoth slowly inches away and subsides, count your blessings and know that things could have been way worse.  You know there are things you could have done beforehand that you did not do this time around.  Hurricane Season is not over yet – so you have another chance to prepare.

Here’s the Point: While everything is fresh in your mind, update your “hurricane to-do list” now.

Mortgage Approval! (Not So Fast)

Everything looks good on your application for a mortgage to purchase your single family residential investment property:

  • You are under contract at a below-market purchase price,
  • You have a signed lease with rent that far exceeds your projected property expenses,
  • You have sufficient liquidity to cover your down payment, closing costs and prepaid expenses,
  • Your credit score is excellent,
  • Your Debt-To-Income Ratio is below the standard 43% threshold (monthly combined housing and other debt obligations divided by monthly net income), and
  • You received an “Approved/Eligible Finding” on the required Fannie Mae report for the lender.

But then, in the process of reviewing your documentation and running their required public record reports, the underwriter discovers that you own other financed properties…

Conventional underwriting guidelines require borrowers to have a significant amount of reserves when you have multiple financed properties. For example, if you have two other $100,000 mortgages, you are required to show that you have $4,000 of additional reserves in the bank – representing 2% of the Unpaid Principal Balances (UPB) of these mortgages. This percentage increases to 4% of UPB if you have five or six financed properties, and 6% of UPB for up to ten financed properties.

Three reserve considerations when you have multiple properties (the last two requirements apply to the to-be-financed property, and only the last one requires that funds be escrowed):

1) 2-6% of Unpaid Principal Balances

2) 6 months PITI (Principal, Interest, Property Taxes and Insurance)

3) 3-4 months escrow cushion for property taxes and insurance.

Here’s the Point: If you have multiple financed properties, make sure you have sufficient liquidity to satisfy all of the conventional loan reserve requirements before obtaining a mortgage.

TV Mini-Series: “The Borrowers” (Episode 2)


Ring Ring.

OMC: “Hello, this is Mike from Ocean Mortgage Capital – How can I help?”

CLIENT: “Hi – My Friend would like to borrow money to replace the roof on her house. She has a roommate who agreed to be a co-borrower.”

OMC: “Is your friend unable to qualify for a mortgage on her own, and so her roommate is willing to co-sign on her loan?”

CLIENT: “Yes, exactly. My friend’s husband should be able to qualify for a mortgage, but he doesn’t think it is necessary to borrow money to fix the roof.”

OMC: “Well, your friend and her husband would both need to sign the mortgage – which means they both need to cooperate and show they are willing to allow a mortgage to be secured by the home.”

CLIENT: “Tell me more about how her roommate can help my friend with this loan.”

OMC: “To be a co-borrower, your friend’s roommate could apply for and be jointly liable for the loan, but would typically have ownership in the property (lenders prefer occupying or non-occupying co-borrowers to also be on title).”

CLIENT: “The roommate does not have any ownership interest in the property.”

OMC: “If not on title, then the roommate could be a co-signor who guarantees all obligations under the loan, jointly with your friend. However, this loan cannot proceed unless your friend’s husband agrees to sign the mortgage – whether he is a co-borrower or not.”

CLIENT: “That will never happen.”

OMC: “Then unfortunately neither will your friend’s loan.”

Here’s the Point: Before obtaining a loan on your primary residence, make sure your spouse is willing to sign the mortgage document – otherwise the lender will not close.

TV Mini-Series: “The Borrowers” (Episode 1)


Ring Ring.

OMC: “Hello, this is Mike from Ocean Mortgage Capital – How can I help?”

CLIENT: “Hi – My Friend would like to take $50,000 of equity out of her home to buy a business. Can you tell us what her home is worth?”

OMC: “Well, we can help to arrange a cash-out refinance of her home, but she should really speak with a realtor or appraiser about valuing her house. Her realtor should have access to some sales comparables, and she could also check Trulia.com or Zillow.com to get a preliminary indication of value.”

CLIENT: “Thank you – I’ll tell her.”

OMC: “Okay – and if she concludes that the value would support her loan request, then I would be happy to pre-qualify her. I would need to ask her about her income to confirm she is comfortably able to make the required mortgage payments.”

CLIENT: “So then I should tell you that her husband lost his job recently, but he had been working with a good company for at least 15 years.”

OMC: “Well, her husband’s prior employment experience should help him with his interviews and support his job search. Hopefully he will land something soon. Is your friend presently employed to help support their mortgage request?”


OMC: “Not only does your friend and/or her husband need to show they presently have ‘the ability to repay’ from their earnings, but they will also need to show that their income is likely to continue for the next three years.”

Here’s the Point: Instead of setting yourself up to default on a mortgage, make sure your income comfortably supports your ability to make your monthly loan payments and other obligations.

IDEA: Let’s Hide a Few Assets!

Very Bad Idea.

A mortgage broker will help compile your mortgage application paperwork so that:

  • your financial condition is accurately depicted,
  • the lender will be able to more easily and efficiently review your file, and
  • you are portrayed in the best possible light.

The whole idea is to present a thorough, well-organized package to expedite a sound credit underwriting decision for your benefit.

A good broker should make it so easy for the underwriter, that practically all of their work will be completed for them in advance – which they will very much appreciate.  This includes identifying any and all risks, and the corresponding mitigants that will, ideally, allow the underwriter to quickly approve your loan request.

An incomplete, disheveled submission not only reflects poorly on the broker (who should be keenly focused on their reputation), but it will underscore the fact that you are just not ready to obtain a mortgage.

The absolute worst thing is to omit critical information from the submission.  Sometimes a borrower will not disclose certain assets they own – thinking that the additional equity or liquidity are not required.

“My reported net worth is sufficient without having to disclose my other rental properties”

Lenders run ownership reports designed to uncover everything.  If you sign a loan application that is obviously missing material assets, it will be an uphill battle once the error is discovered.  Inadvertent omission is one thing, but intentional omission is likely to be perceived as fraud by the lender.

Here’s the Point: Asking your mortgage broker to hide something from the lender is tantamount to fraud, and there is no place for that in any industry.

Brokers Are Back

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that retail banks (Wells Fargo, Bank of America) held 75% of the U.S. mortgage market before the Housing Market Crash of 2007. This ratio has now reduced to 50%, after the tightening of regulations from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The other 50% of mortgages are extended by “nonbanks”, which are mortgage lenders who do not take federally insured deposits from consumers to make loans.

Like retail banks, some nonbanks lend directly to the public (Quicken Loans, Rocket Mortgage). But nonbank lenders also include “wholesale lenders”. Wholesale lenders offer the most competitive interest rates because they use mortgage brokers to originate loans (and therefore do not have the corresponding overhead costs).

United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) is the largest U.S. wholesale lender, closing $22.9 billion of mortgages in 2016. UWM reports that mortgage brokers handled 35% of all U.S. residential mortgage closings in 2005. After the housing crisis, this ratio bottomed at 10%.

Mortgage broker loan originations are now back up to 14%, with UWM projecting an increase to at least 20% by 2020. This market share growth is supported by what the public is embracing again, which is that only mortgage brokers:

(i) help consumers shop among many well-developed capital sources for the best mortgage rates and fees
(ii) have a multitude of mortgage products from which to choose (far more than any one lender), and
(iii) do all the consumers’ legwork and negotiate for the fastest loan execution.

Here’s the Point: Consumers are taking notice that only mortgage brokers shop the best mortgage lenders in the nation – which means a better interest rate and a faster closing.

Time To Move On

walk away

When searching for a mortgage, how many times have you given your lender or broker a chance to overcome a miscue – or allowed them to redeem themselves by providing you with better service? You believed they were genuinely trying to help you. So – you decided to give them the benefit of the doubt once, maybe twice… but then you realized you should have trusted your instincts and found someone else right off the bat.

Do you stay the course at this stage? The next time you don’t see eye-to-eye, or you are not receiving the kind of attention you expect and deserve, save time by being upfront and honest with them!

Imagine applying for a mortgage in-person, and being given a detailed list of exactly what would be required for the underwriter to make their decision. You gathered and provided all of the items on the list, and were told that no further information would be needed – and that a decision would be forthcoming shortly. A week later, and without explanation, they send you a new list with 10 other items they would need to proceed (all of which were entirely new items with little connection to what you had already provided).

As seemingly crazy as the above example sounds, unfortunately in the mortgage industry this sort of thing can happen all the time. But it is the way in which it is communicated to you that matters the most – which boils down to the basics: experience and customer service.

Here’s the Point: Save time by trusting your judgement when you think the service you are receiving could be better.

Will You Trust Me?

Isn’t that really the key question we are asking our clients when we meet them for the first time? Yet most of us are, appropriately, not so candid with our word selection. We would all acknowledge the importance of that initial greeting: the eye contact, the handshake, and the opening dialogue – all of which could be very different depending on our instincts and sense of the other person.

We get better at this with experience, or even perhaps with age. The question is whether we are consistent, or if we sometimes lose a little focus and leave an unintended impression.

Don’t forget how essential it is for your client to interview you. If you are a mortgage broker, lender, accountant or financial consultant, your client prospect needs to decide whether they can trust you with highly confidential information – i.e., their tax returns, social security number, bank statements, pay-stubs, divorce papers, bankruptcy documents or all of the above. If you make one odd gesture or leave them with a tiny bit of uncertainty, they are not likely to call you back – nor should they.

But if you are a borrower or investor looking for a trusted advisor, it’s a two-way street. Your prospective advisor is interviewing you for the same purpose. Leaving an impression that you have not been entirely forthright may require you to settle for a less professional or inexperienced advisor.

You will know if an acceptable level of mutual trust has been gained.

Here’s the Point: Trust must be earned, not expected – and it won’t be immediately or fully granted, regardless of your reputation.

Only The Media Knows?

It would not be far-fetched to forecast a continued stock market rally from our new President’s proposed fiscal stimulus package – earmarking funds to revitalize our country’s infrastructure and military. Coupled with imposing regulatory and corporate tax reform, the resulting inflationary pressure is likely to be curtailed by the Federal Reserve in the form of cautious interest rate hikes over time.

The DJIA was 18,333 the day before he won the election – versus almost 20,000 today. It increased by 257 points or 1.4% to 18,590 on the day of his win. The media predicted the markets would plummet with a Trump victory. The very opposite happened.

10-Year Treasuries (the benchmark generally used to predict mortgage rates) were 1.88% the day before Trump won – versus almost 2.50% today. It increased to 2.07% on the day he won (a significant one-day change). The media predicted there would be a flight to quality investments with a Trump victory – in other words, investors would convert their stock holdings into more safe-haven bonds (thus, driving bond prices up and interest rates down). The very opposite happened.

Media sources now attribute the recent market rally to the long term policies put in place by the Obama Administration. Given their prediction pattern, shall we continue to consult with the media on interest rate projections?!

A temporary stock market rally is commonplace after an election. The focus now should be on whether Trump’s policies will add inflationary pressure – which, if so, will continue to put upward pressure on rates.

Here’s the Point: At your next dinner party, think twice before confidently sharing what you think you learned from the almighty media.
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