How Important Is The Lender in a Real Estate Purchase?

How Important Is The Lender in a Real Estate Purchase?

More important than you think….

Hi!  Sabrina Caton here, Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Redwood City.  I wanted to write my own article today – to shed some light about the importance of the Lender you are working with when purchasing Real Estate in the Bay Area.

If you are a Buyer in the Silicon Valley – then you already know how competitive this market is.  If a Buyer wants to be the winning bidder on a home – they pretty much have to write their best offer – Non Contingent.  Meaning they’re locked into that contract no matter what.  Interest rates rise and they can’t afford their loan?  Doesn’t matter if their offer is Non-Contingent.  House doesn’t appraise for their offer price?  The Buyer better pony up the money or risk possibly losing their good faith deposit – because the offer was Non-Contingent.

As scary as Non-Contingent sounds – it is doable – as long as a Buyer has their ducks in a row – and what I mean by ducks is the Buyer is working with a terrific Realtor and a fantastic Lender, who has already run their credit, taken their application and had the Underwriter  review it all before drafting the Pre-Approval Letter.

Often times, at this stage in the process – a Buyer is looking for the best “deal”.  Meaning – they will follow the path that gets them the “most money” – or so it is perceived.  People may shop a Lender based on their closing costs, the interest rate quoted or because they know them.  All fine and well – but we need more!  The worst is when a buyer uses any Online Lending Score – that is a horror story for another blog post.  (Just take my advice and use a local Lender when buying in the Bay Area.)

When a Buyer is writing a Non-Contingent offer – they are heavily relying on what their Lender has told them.  What some Buyers overlook is the followthrough.  Did the Lender have the Underwriter  (The Bank God as I call them) review the application to ensure they fit into the box?  Did the Lender verify employment?  Does the Lender know one income earner is on leave?  Will their income still be used to qualify for the loan?  What happens if their income is not used?  What happens in a Buyer takes on new debt?  What is a Buyer pays down debt?  So many issues can up at any time, it is best to start off with their best foot forward.

The last thing a Buyer needs once they get an offer accepted is surprises in their loan.  Like – they don’t have a loan!  Large purchases that change their debt to income ratio can turn a Buyer from Pre-Approved to Not Approved.  To make things worse – what if a Buyer found this out AFTER their Non-Contingent offer is ACCEPTED?!  Well – the Buyer could risk losing their Good Faith Deposit and around here that’s 3% of the purchase price and our purchase prices are at least $1 – $1.5 million dollars.  So we’re taking $50,000 here!  

Unless a Buyer is buying a home in cash – the home loan is the most critical part of the transaction.  Any Sellers Realtor worth their salt will call each Lender on each offer they receive – to ensure the strength and validity of the loan.  Because without the loan – there is no sale and NO SELLER is going to risk the most important sale of their lives on “what if’s.”

I could go on and on about the horrors of bad lending.  So instead let me leave you with this.  When you are starting the journey towards homeownership – the true first step is to apply for a home loan and determine your budget.  That entails sitting down and making your own personal home budget.  Itemizing what you spend your money on and how much you have left towards the mortgage.  Once you’ve applied for a home loan, find a Reatlor your can talk to and trust and sit down and do just that – talk.  Each client is a unique situation and therefore requires a different plan.  The Caton Team is comprised of myself Sabrina and my partner/mother in law – Susan.  Together we have 35 years combined, local real estate experience.  Chances are we’ve worked through similar situations as you are in now.  Our time is free, our advice is free – put us to work for you.

If you’ve got Real Estate questions – we’ve got answers.  Contact the Caton Team when you are considering a purchase or sale of Real Estate.

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The Caton Team strives to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

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What You Need to Know before Shopping for a Mortgage

Buying a home doesn’t start with the house – it starts with the home loan.  I cannot tell you how important it is for Buyers to LOAN SHOP BEFORE they house shop!  It is a task only the Buyer can do.  Your Realtor cannot apply for home loans for you.  It is a LOT OF WORK!  Ask anyone who recently brought a home, you will be scanning and rescanning documents till you’re blue in the face.  I find many people shy from the responsibility which will only make their journey into homeownership much more difficult.  In our Silicon Valley Market – Time is of the Essence.  I say this because it is also a term in our legally binding contract – not just a sediment of our breakneck speed.   

So when I read this article, I knew I had to share it.  So here you go…

What You Need to Know before Shopping for a Mortgage

Buying a home is probably the largest purchase you will ever make. The best ways to ensure that you do not make a mistake that could cost you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars over the term of the loan is to shop around for the best possible mortgage for your circumstances. What should you know before hopping for your loan?

How is your credit?

Whether you get a loan or not is dependent on your personal credit situation. You must have a credit score that will assure you of meeting the lender’s requirements for approval. Also, the rates you are offered for the loan will be a direct result of your credit scores. Therefore, before going mortgage shopping, access your credit reports and scores. Just because your credit is not perfect does not mean you would not qualify for a mortgage. If there are negative entries on your credit reports, make sure that they are accurate. Errors are commonly made and they result in depressed scores. There are laws that govern what and how information is reported on your credit reports. These laws were passed toprotect you. If you do not know how to exercise your consumer rights, there are legitimate Credit Restoration companies who could do this for you (like New You Credit Repair). Look for the NACSO logo on their website to assure yourself that these companies are legitimate.

Want to know more about getting a mortgage or bettering your credit profile and scores, give us a call!  650.568.5522 /

Comparison Shop

Before choosing a mortgage, do a little comparison shopping and get information from several lenders. You should ask for quotes from commercial banks, mortgage companies, and credit unions and compare the rates you receive for the types of mortgages offered. Most people are surprised to find significant differences in the offers they are given.

Clarify Costs

Make sure you know upfront all of the costs associated with a mortgage. You should ask for specific information concerning:




•Down Payments

•Mortgage Insurance

•Closing Costs

The goal is to avoid any surprises concerning hidden fees, so never feel as if you are asking too many questions. The more you know the less risk there is you will end up with a mortgage you cannot afford.


It is possible to negotiate a better offer than what you are initially given. If you like things about one mortgage offer and other things about another mortgage offer, let the lenders know what you have been offered and see if they will work with you to get you the exact mortgage you want.

Communication is key in this process.  Speak freely with your lender, your Reatlor and yourself.  Ask questions.  Do the ‘Homework’.  The Caton Team has over 25 years combined Silicon Valley Real Estate Experience.  We know what it takes!  Curious if you can buy – give us a call or email to set up a complimentary evaluation.   650.568.5522 /

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4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

I had to share this article – with our Fall Real Estate Market starting now – it’s a good time to think about your budget if you are planning on becoming a home owner!  I find so many buyers thinking about the house they want before they consider the impact of home ownership on their day to day finances.  Taking time now, before you house shop, to put your financial house in order – will help your chances in this competitive market today!  Enjoy – Sabrina

4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

By knowing how much mortgage you can handle, you can ensure that home ownership will fit in your budget.

1. The general rule of mortgage affordability

As a rule of thumb, you can typically afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. If you earn $100,000, you can typically afford a home between $200,000 and $300,000.

To understand how that rule applies to your particular financial situation, prepare a family budget and list all the costs of homeownership, like property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care costs.

2. Factor in your downpayment

How much money do you have for a downpayment? The higher your downpayment, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you put down at least 20% of the home’s cost, you may not have to get private mortgage insurance, which costs hundreds each month. That leaves more money for your mortgage payment.

The lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for and the higher your monthly mortgage payment.

3. Consider your overall debt

Lenders generally follow the 28/41 rule. Your monthly mortgage payments covering your home loan principal, interest, taxes, and insurance shouldn’t total more than 28% of your gross annual income. Your overall monthly payments for your mortgage plus all your other bills, like car loans, utilities, and credit cards, shouldn’t exceed 41% of your gross annual income.

Here’s how that works. If your gross annual income is $100,000, multiply by 28% and then divide by 12 months to arrive at a monthly mortgage payment of $2,333 or less. Next, check the total of all your monthly bills including your potential mortgage and make sure they don’t top 41%, or $3,416 in our example.

4. Use your rent as a mortgage guide

The tax benefits of homeownership generally allow you to afford a mortgage payment—including taxes and insurance—of about one-third more than your current rent payment without changing your lifestyle. So you can multiply your current rent by 1.33 to arrive at a rough estimate of a mortgage payment.

Here’s an example. If you currently pay $1,500 per month in rent, you should be able to comfortably afford a $2,000 monthly mortgage payment after factoring in the tax benefits of homeownership. 

However, if you’re struggling to keep up with your rent, consider what amount would be comfortable and use that for the calcuation instead.

Also consider whether or not you’ll itemize your deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t also deduct mortgage interest payments. Talking to a tax adviser, or using a tax software program to do a “what if” tax return, can help you see your tax situation more clearly.

By: G. M. Filisko

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Changes are Coming to FHA Home Loans…

Changes are Coming to FHA Home Loans

I am a fan of the FHA home loan because it helps so many first time buyers get a home here on the SF Peninsula where home prices are an the high side.  What saddens me are the recent changes in store for FHA clients.

Newly Originated FHA-Insured Loans Will Become More Expensive Beginning June 3, 2013.

One of the attractive features of FHA mortgages is the low down payment option. In fact, many FHA loan programs require as little as 3.5% down.

Today, mortgage insurance on FHA loans remains in place for a finite period of time. However, on most new FHA loans originated on or after June 3rd, the MI premium will remain for the life of the loan. 

Now sure how this will impact you?  Give The Caton Team a call or email!

If you or someone you care about have considered purchasing a home, please contact us immediately to ensure this new FHA policy doesn’t increase the lifetime cost of the transaction. Beating the June 3rd clock could potentially save thousands over the life of the loan.

And please do not be discouraged – there are several different loan options and programs available!

Thank you Melanie Flynn of First Priority Financial for this information.  If you would like to connect with Melanie – give us a call or email!

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25% of Consumers Have Errors on Credit Report – I WAS DECEASED! Great article – had to share!

When I came across this article I had to share it.  I also have to laugh – when my husband and I bought our first home and our credit was run – it came back that I was deceased!!!!  What really made me laugh though was that all my payments – from the grave  – were on time!  Since you cannot get a mortgage if you are not breathing, I called my bank and corrected their error; within a month my credit report stated I was alive again.  Sadly, we went through this again when we bought a car a few years later.  This time my husband wad deceased.  Instead of friendly help from our credit union, they hung up the phone and said they couldn’t help us.  So my husband went to a notary who certified that the man before him, was alive and well and with that notarized document we were able to correct his credit report.  Thankfully the dealership wasn’t too concerned and we bought the car before the correction – nonetheless – the moral of the story here…  Check your credit report YEARLY!  You can do so for free on sites like , and monitoring it yearly will keep surprises to a minimum when trying to buy a home!  Enjoy this article from the Daily News…

25% of Consumers Have Errors on Credit Report

Consumers need to be extra vigilant about checking for any errors on their credit reports, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

One in four Americans report they’ve found an error on their credit report, according to a study conducted by the FTC, which analyzed 1,001 consumers’ credit reports from the three major agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Researchers helped the consumers spot potential errors on their reports.

Five percent of the consumers found such large errors on their report that they could have gotten stuck paying more for mortgages or other financial products, if they hadn’t taken steps to correct it before applying, according to the study.

Twenty percent of the credit reports studied that were found to have errors in it were ultimately corrected after the consumer took steps to dispute it, which resulted in about 10 percent of consumers receiving a higher credit score, according to the study.

Consumers are entitled to receive a free copy of their credit report each year from the three reporting agencies.

Source: “Study: 1 In 4 Consumers Had Error In Credit Report,” The Associated Press (Feb. 11, 2013)

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina