Call Us Today! (973) 495-8925|


Mortgage News: What’s the process?

house_outline_dollar_400_clr_9658You’ve been pre-qualified. You’ve bought a house or you’ve got a contract on a house, and you need someone who is going to guide you through that. I’m that person. As a mortgage advisor, I try to take the position that I’m going to be with you for the next month and guide you through the entire process. First, you’ll go to an attorney review and you’ll want to get a home inspection. From there, you’ll want to get all your paperwork and documents in order for the mortgage advisor. Remember, ideally you will have met with this advisor one year prior buying a home, but once you’ve met for the attorney review you will definitely want to bring together all the paperwork. It can be a lot like tax time—gathering all the documents with an imminent deadline – there’s a lot of paperwork involved and that’s why it’s good to start early. Once you have it prepared, then it’s time to meet with your mortgage advisor.

As a mortgage advisor it’s very important for me to have a meeting in-person, rather than trying to complete the process online or by phone. This accomplishes a few things: foremost, we can build a relationship of trust because you can get to know me and get to feel comfortable with me so you can ask any questions you might have. It’s difficult to build that kind of rapport over the phone; over the phone the client often feels rushed and forgets to ask questions. When we meet face-to-face, however, you remember to ask the questions and realize you can trust me to help you understand. Buying a home is something many people have never done, or only do a few times in their life, so there are a lot of questions. And getting answers to those questions is often the first part of the process.

Once all the paperwork and documentation is gathered and signed, we submit it to a lender. The lender will process the paperwork. We will also send it to an underwriter, who will review all the paperwork and documentation, and determine whether you are truly qualified for a mortgage. The underwriter will come back with a decision that we call conditional, or first approval. This is approval with a handful of conditions, and it always happens. They always come back asking to see certain things; at minimum it’s title work and an appraisal. From there, it can be many other things, but that’s why I work with you to give them as much documentation upfront—it lightens the load. At this point, I’ll come back to you, the client, to work on getting any additional paperwork needed. I’ll also ask you to start shopping for a homeowner’s insurance policy. In the meantime, I’ll have ordered the appraisal, and we’ll have the attorney order title work. We coordinate all of these, and once we have all the paperwork again—the conditions, the homeowner’s insurance, the title work, and the appraisal—we submit that back to the underwriter. The underwriter clears, or approves, the file (hopefully!), and we are in a position to set up a closing. In a nutshell, that’s the process, and it can be long and tedious.

Not everybody does it that way. I’ve seen mortgage brokers who submit the paperwork and then disappear; the clients have to somehow navigate their way through the process and the people without a designated “go-to person.” This is especially confusing when there are so many people involved in this single transaction. You have the attorney, realtor, mortgage advisor, lender, the lender’s staff, underwriters, and processors. It goes on, because you also have the appraiser, inspector, and the title company. If nobody takes charge to keep things moving in the right direction, it flounders.

The best advice I can give is to be organized and keep all your documentation together. Those who do, who know their passwords (to access statements, paycheck stubs, etc.), and who respond quickly to requests often have a great house buying experience. For those who aren’t organized, and who don’t have all their information together, it seems like the most tedious process. When I ask for more paperwork or documentation they can’t believe it and treat every request like a chore. Those are the people who think buying a house is the worst process. The process is the same, but it matters how you approach it, and who you choose for your mortgage advisor.

I tell my clients upfront: “Look, you’re probably going to be sick of me by the end of the process, but I’m going to keep you moving forward, I’m going to make sure you understand where you are in the process, and I’ll be your go-to person. I’m there for you day and night, weekends, and when you can’t remember what to do next. Call me anytime.”

Mortgage News: How much mortgage do I qualify for?

house_outline_dollar_400_clr_9658Most homebuyers start their search for a home by looking online, or going straight to a Realtor asking to be shown houses in this town or that town. The truth is that the first step in the prospective homebuyers search should be to meet with a mortgage advisor. Why? Because the right mortgage advisor can answer two very important questions: how much can you qualify for, and how much can you afford.

The first meeting between a mortgage advisor and prospective homebuyers will typically start with the mortgage advisor asking the proper questions, looking at all the numbers (income and debt), and running a credit check. From there, the mortgage advisor will figure out how much mortgage the homebuyers can qualify for. Often, that number won’t match up with what the homebuyers think they can afford, so the next phase of the meeting involves some more in-depth questioning. A good mortgage advisor will ask questions such as: What are your spending habits? Are you a shopper? Are you a car person? Do you like to travel? Are you frugal? Do you plan on living in this house forever? All of the answers to these questions will help determine what the homebuyers can afford, giving them a good, solid number to go and talk to a realtor with. The homebuyers can then confidently say, “I can afford a $250,000 purchase price, and I can put 10% down, so let’s start looking in the $200-250,000 range.”

Interestingly, in today’s world of tightening mortgage guidelines, many people think they will qualify for a lot less than what they can afford. I have actually found that it’s the exact opposite; I see a lot of people who can qualify for a lot more than they can afford. A large part of that is because many of the buyers I’m seeing right now are people who are taking good care of their credit, who do not have a lot of debt, and have really prepared over the last couple of years to buy in today’s market by educating themselves well enough to understand what kind of position they have to be in to make a home purchase.

I talk about this all the time, but it’s something a lot of people don’t consider: what you can afford and what you can qualify for also depends on the property taxes. Property taxes vary from town to town. If you’re having a tough time finding a home in the town you really want because the taxes are high, maybe you can afford a little more house in a different town that has cheaper property taxes. In New Jersey, for example, Essex County in general has very high property taxes, so you may need to go to the west to find the house you want.

At any rate (pun intended), if you’re a prospective homebuyer, your first step should be to meet with a mortgage broker. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can find out how much you qualify for and how much you can afford. Maybe you’ll find out that you’d be in a better position if you waited a year because you could save more money for a down payment, allowing you to afford a house in the town you want; or maybe you’ll need to address some debt issues that will put you in a position to qualify for more house in a year. On top of that, perhaps the mortgage advisor will identify some general credit issues that can be fixed, which can increase your credit score enough to help you qualify for a better rate.

There are a lot of reasons to meet with a broker as early as possible, if not a year before when you’re really thinking to buy. And of course, it costs you nothing! If you’re considering purchasing a home, give me a call or send me an email – we’ll find the right mortgage for your lifestyle.

Juliet Payseur: Be Part of The Payseur Family. The Real Deal, episode 23

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn this episode of The Real Deal, Bob talks with Juliet Payseur, Team Leader of Payseur Realty Group. Juliet’s passion for the real estate business shines as she discusses her approach to building her business. The Payseur Realty Group is truly a family business – Juliet’s dad, mom, and brother are all part of the team (and maybe one day she’ll be able to get her sister to join the team, too!). Everyone she works with is treated like part of the family. Listen as Juliet shares with us how she has built her business on referrals by doing what she loves to do and building strong relationships along the way. Thank you for joining us on The Real Deal, Juliet!

Everyone has a dream home.. and Juliet is the key to getting in! (Pun intended). Juliet is in the business of exceeding expectations when it comes to anything and everything real estate. Her Negotiation Certification (CNE) helps tio get the best deals for her clients. The Payseur Realty Group works around the clock and around the country to get you to and from your dream home. The team’s truly relationship based approach means that we become fast friends! By the end of our deal, Juliet will have you happily cooking her dinner in your beautiful new kitchen in no time!

Best wishes to Juliet and all the members of the USA Women’s Kabaddi team in the 2014 Kabaddi World Cup in India! To follow the team’s match stats and see links to the live stream here: USA Women’s Kabaddi on Facebook.

Juliet Payseur, Team Leader of Payseur Realty Group, Keller Williams Metropolitan    973.590.9842




Mortgage News: What are my closing costs?

house_outline_dollar_400_clr_9658Closing costs are pretty expensive these days and seem to go up every year. I guess with more government intervention, closing costs go up. I look at closing costs as being comprised of two sets of costs. One set of closing costs is what I tell people are junk costs and really, that’s what they are. They are all the costs you have to pay to get the loan done, or to close on your home, and you will never see that money again. These include the attorney fees, title fees, survey, insurance, flood certification, appraisal, and home inspection. These junk costs are a big part of the overall closing costs.

The other set of closing costs are what we call prepaids and reserves. Prepaids and reserves are for your property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. The lender takes escrows in order to pay these for you. At closing, they take a couple months worth of property taxes and a couple months worth of homeowner’s insurance. Every month as part of your mortgage payment, you pay one month worth of property taxes and one month worth of insurance, and then they use the amount from escrow to pay these bills when they are due. Those are prepaids and reserves. You also prepay on your mortgage when you close, so there’s interest due at closing, too. Together, these comprise the second set of closing costs.

Altogether, they can be very costly. Prospective buyers should talk to a mortgage adviser before they start looking for a home so they’ll know exactly what to expect for closing costs. Although the amount will not be exact, you can get a rough estimate so you can save for your down payment and closing costs. If you’re a little short, we can work around that by building a seller credit for closing costs in to the purchase price. There are multiple ways, but that’s just one example. A lot goes into the closing costs, and as the mortgage advisor, it’s my job to tell you all of your costs with a very accurate, if not on the high side, estimate of how much money you’ll need to bring to the closing table.

You can get approximations early on in the process, but I can give the most accurate estimate once you have a house under contract. Once I know the price of your home, I will sit down and go through every single possible fee that you could face for a closing cost. Some of them are what we call prepaids, as discussed above, that are paid outside of closing costs. You might also pay for the appraisal or home inspection prior to closing, but the rest of the costs get paid at closing. By the end of our meeting, you will feel comfortable knowing what you need to have at closing, and can make sure your finances are in order.

People really get surprised when I tell them how much closing costs are. I think they are a little shocked. Like I said, everybody gets a piece of the action with the new government guidelines. There are new appraisal guidelines that happened over the last couple of years, so we order appraisals from a third party management company rather than hiring the appraiser directly. So, now we’re going through a management company, and management companies cost money. The buyers are paying for that through an increase in appraisal prices. Title insurance has gone up in price. Attorneys are doing more with each file, so there fees have gone up, and rightly so. It gets more expensive each year to buy a house. The least I can do is get you an accurate picture of what your closing costs are going to look like. Call or email me today to discuss your situation!

Mortgage News: What’s my mortgage rate?

house_outline_percent_9663As a soon to be homeowner, the question you most want answered is, “what will my rate be?” Most likely, your friends, siblings, coworkers, and even your hairdresser have told you their rates, and in doing so have practically dared you to try to get a better rate. The problem with being consumed with the rate, though, is that it’s really not as important as some other things, such as finding the right mortgage program, or the right person to work with. That’s right, finding the best rate should not be your end goal. Your primary goal should be finding the right person to work with. Let me tell you why.

Sure, you might see ABC mortgage down the street advertise a lower rate. You meet with them and they say you are going to get a good rate, but once the paperwork is completed, they end up switching you to a program that might not have as good a rate. They get you in the door by advertising a good rate, but it’s likely a program for only the most qualified buyers, so you end up with a higher rate than advertised. Or they might not ever answer your phone calls or emails. How important does the rate feel when you can’t get a hold of the person responsible for one of the biggest purchases of your life? This happens more than people realize. Companies like this get buyers in the door, but the don’t really get the guidelines, or they don’t do the pre-qualification right. They don’t ask the right questions, and end up putting buyers in the wrong mortgage program, or even worse, they end up telling a couple, “Sorry, we can’t do the deal.”

Legally, companies are not supposed to advertise rates just to get people in the door, but I see it all the time. They offer these great rates that are available if you want to pay X amount of points, X amount of dollars, you have perfect credit, and you’re putting 50% down. It’s like those great deals on cars that you see in the paper, but when you get there they say they only had one car and it’s already gone, but we have these others. They’re teaser rates; they get you in the door.

I actually hear it from Realtors on my show all the time. They say they’ll get three or four weeks into the process and find out the deal is dead because the buyers couldn’t get a mortgage. The mortgage broker that asks the right questions upfront can save a lot of time and disappointment for the buyers, and the Realtors. I have some lenders that do certain programs, and other lenders that won’t, but they’ll take other types of loans. It’s just a matter of making sure you’re working with the right person. In the end, a good mortgage person is going to get the best rate that is available for you, in the best program for you.

Most people want to know what their rate is going to be because they are concerned about their monthly payments. What they don’t realize is that their property taxes can affect the monthly payment even more than the rate. For instance, if you get a rate that is lower by 1/8th point, it will only change your monthly payment about $20 per month. But if you can find a home with $3,000-$4,000 less property taxes, this can save you $300-$400 per month. If you want a lower monthly payment, it’s more advantageous to look at the property taxes rather than the rate. If your budget is really tight, you want to find a house in an area that has lower property taxes. It’s difficult in New Jersey, but it’s all relative.

Remember, many financial institutions advertise their best possible rate just to get you in the door. Often, this rate is tied to a mortgage program with specific qualifying guidelines, which are difficult for the average borrower to meet. Or, the best rate is for, let’s say, an FHA mortgage, but a conventional mortgage program is better for you. If it’s not the right program, then the low rate doesn’t really matter. In the end, we all have the same rates. What is more important is working with someone who can find the best program for you.

Call me for help finding the right program for you!

Bob the Broker

Suzanne MacDowell: Using Deep Foresight to Get the Deal Done. The Real Deal, episode 22

Suzanne MacDowellOn this episode of The Real Deal, Bob talks with Keller Williams Sales Associate, Suzanne MacDowell. Suzanne provides the expertise, guidance and resources home buyers and sellers need to sell their homes quickly and for the maximum amount and/or to purchase a home that meets their needs at a price they can afford sometimes using creative strategies. She is an FHA 203K Renovation Loan and a Short Sale and Foreclosure specialist. She works mainly in Morris County and has also sold homes in Sussex, Warren and Essex Counties. She always goes the extra mile for her clients and rarely takes “no” for an answer but instead looks for solutions that make every transaction a win/win/win for all parties involved. Thank you for joining us on The Real Deal, Suzanne!
Suzanne MacDowell, Sales Associate – Keller Williams  201-602-4458

Rudy Riveron and Ilene Horowitz: Spouses Selling Houses. The Real Deal, episode 21

On thisrudy.ilene TRD episode of The Real Deal, Bob talks with husband-wife team, Rudy Riveron and Ilene Horowitz of Re/Max American Dream. Rudy has been a Realtor for 29 years; Ilene for 17 years. They sell and list properties in Morris County and parts of Sussex. Their experience and knowledge of the area helps them understand the needs of their clients. They always put the needs of their client first, delivering top-notch customer service. Their goal is to educate buyers and sellers and help them make good decisions in the home buying and selling process. Beyond assisting with real estate transactions, they value building long-term relationships with their clients. Rudy and Ilene have become well-known in their area through involvement in their community, White Meadow Lake, in Rockaway, New Jersey. As a third-generation White Meadow Lake resident, Ilene has enjoyed helping grow the annual Festival Days event. Ilene is also volunteering in the real estate community as the President of North Central Jersey Association of Realtors (NJCJAR). Thank you for sharing so many great stories with us, Rudy and Ilene!


Rudy RiveronRudy Riveron, Broker –Real Estate Consultant Re/Max American Dream



Ilene Horowitz

Ilene Horowitz, Real Estate Professional
Re/Max American Dream

New Jersey REALTORS (NJAR): Endless Resources for Members. The Real Deal, episode 20


cindy tichyJarrod Grasso.sizedIn this episode of The Real Deal, we are happy to welcome Cindy Marsh-Tichy back to the show. Cindy was our featured Realtor on episode 16. This time we are talking with Cindy in her role as President of New Jersey REALTORS (formerly known as New Jersey Association of Realtors or NJAR). Cindy is joined by the CEO of New Jersey REALTORS, Jarrod Grasso.

Jarrod and Cindy give us an overview of what New Jersey REALTORS is all about – their advocacy efforts on behalf of the industry and homeowners, and the benefits they provide for their members. They’ll also discuss the rebranding from NJAR to New Jersey REALTORS as the organization approaches its centennial anniversary. Next, Jarrod and Cindy will talk with Bob about the many benefits available to New Jersey REALTORS members such as the 10k Research Project, an amazing resource for Realtors. If you’re a Realtor and you are not aware of this resource, be sure to listen to learn more!

Some of the other great benefits we talk about include the Member Perks program (who doesn’t want help with their taxes?), the many FREE or low-cost continuing education courses, and the Scholarship Foundation for students who are relatives of Realtors.

Thank you Jarrod and Cindy for joining Bob on The Real Deal!

NJRealtorsLogoThe New Jersey REALTORS is a professional trade association representing 42,000 REALTOR and REALTOR-ASSOCIATE members. As the voice for real estate in New Jersey, they advocate at all levels of government on behalf of the real estate industry as well as private property owners. The New Jersey REALTORS also provides educational opportunities as well as products and services that help its members conduct their businesses. For more information visit

Tiffany DeLucia: Moving, Shaking and Negotiating. The Real Deal, episode 19


Tiffany DeLuciaOn this episode of The Real Deal, Bob Snyder talks with Tiffany DeLucia, Marketing Director and Sales Associate at RE/MAX Suburban Lifestyles Realty. Growing up, Tiffany moved every year – that experience, combined with 18 years in various aspects of real estate, allows her to better understand her client’s needs and guide them through the home buying and selling process. She enjoys working with first time homebuyers and also working with buyers and sellers with short sales, investment properties, and rentals.
Tiffany tells us how her personal experiences in buying and selling real estate have taught her how to overcome obstacles and master the art of negotiations. In fact, she’s grown to like the difficult deals because she enjoys sharing what she knows and helping others through the process. Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing your story with us!

Tiffany De Lucia, RE/MAX Suburban Lifestyles Realty  862.242.0390    Facebook: Real Estate by Tiffany

Real Estate is Russo: Red Carpet Service from Jocelyn Russo. The Real Deal, episode 18

JocelynRussoOn this episode of The Real Deal, Bob Snyder talks with Jocelyn Russo of Coldwell Banker. Jocelyn serves the heart of North Jersey, finding and selling only the finest homes. Real Estate is Russo – she aims to be your real estate consultant, educator, and friend for life.

So what makes her The Real Deal? Jocelyn is using some truly outside the box thinking to deliver Red Carpet Service to her clients. She is young, energetic, and understands how to use today’s technology to its full potential. Her design background, love of architecture, and love of helping people certainly play a part in her success. Thank you for joining us, Jocelyn!

Jocelyn Russo, Realtor, Coldwell Banker
Office: 973.415.1059 Cell: 973.704.4541