Amy at The Bloom-Print Project

Thanks for bearing with me as I wind down an intense period at work. I am counting down the hours until 5pm Friday! I am exhausted, sleep-deprived and desperately in need of a vacation.

I want to introduce you to my friend Amy who blogs at The Bloom-Print Project. She has sent me the most touching emails, virtually holding my hand and hugging me during my time of suffering. While I’m dealing with my anger at God because of the miscarriage and slowly making steps to rebuild our relationship, I feel God may have sent Amy my way to help. She’s truly heaven sent.

The Bloom-Print Project

You’ll understand why when you read this post she wrote. The empathy, concern, and love is so apparent. I am blessed to call her a friend.

Here’s a You Tube video to the lullaby at the end of the post. It’s a beautiful song.

 

Make New Bloggy Friends

It’s time to find new blogs and make friends. I love connecting with more people in the blogosphere! You can choose to follow the cohosts in whatever way is best for you! Bloglovin happens to be my favorite follow method, with my page here.
Ready to party?!
Rules are simple:
1. Follow your host 
The First link below
2. Follow your co-hosts (that’s me down there!)
The Next 5 links below
3. Link up below using your main blog url not a specific post.
4. Make sure to visit some of the blogs in the link up and follow them 
Leave lots of comment love!
5. Tweet about this blog hop

6. Share about this blog hop by grabbing a button and putting it on your sidebar!
I have cohost spots available! Email me if you’re interested at melissa@thelifeofanotsoordinarywife.com



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Money Monday: The Rigors of Getting a Mortgage in this Economy

My friend Affinity who wrote this fantastic post on retiring early, agreed to write another post on getting a mortgage in this challenging environment. She made the move from San Francisco to Oakland and had this important advice to share. This is exactly what I needed to hear. While we are not in any rush to make a move, Dean and I are always on the hunt and having all of these items in place will only make the home purchase process that much easier. Take it away, Affinity!

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My husband and I had owned two units in a tenants-in-common building in San Francisco, where we had purchased the building with a group loan and then later converted to individual loans on each unit, so we were not newbies to purchasing a home or the mortgage acquisition process, but it is much more difficult than it used to be.

The mortgage process is all new, and not for the better. We have a credit rating of over 800 and savings appropriate to a couple retiring in their mid-60s, so we thought the process would not be difficult. Here are my suggestions for making it as painless as possible:

1. Do not overbuy. Buying a house that is a little less than you might like may not appeal to you, but it will make it easier to qualify for a loan.  Lenders are much stricter about your proving you can service the loan than they were prior to the foreclosure crisis of the last few years. In order for us to do that we had to move to Oakland from San Francisco.

2. Most lenders now require a 20% down payment unles you qualify for a special program of some sort. We put down 25% to improve our interest rate. So have your cash in order before you start.

3. During the loan approval process do not buy a car, run up any credit cards, or make withdrawals from your savings, except to move the loan process forward.

4. Have your taxes done and filed. We purchased in February 2013, and our lender wanted us to provide a 2012 return, which we had not filed yet since it was not due, and then they contacted the IRS directly to verify that it matched the IRS return we had given to the lender.

5. Since our condo had been purchased by the seller in the last 12 months and was then being resold to us (flipped), our lender required two appraisals, that then stretched over the next six weeks. So that means you have to be patient.

6. They want every financial document; bank statements, brokerage statements, your W-2, etc. for the preceding 2 or 3 months, and if the loan approval process stretches over longer than a month, then they want you to provide fresh statements.

We had problems with self-employment and seasonal W-2 income. The lender wanted a statement from our accountant that we have a legitimate business. Since we do not have an accountant, they did not want to use the self-employment or seasonal income as part of our ability to pay the loan. This seemed a little odd since we were not only paying state and federal taxes on the self-employment income, but social security (F.I.C.A.) as well. We had had the same seasonal income for over 10 years and it was even W-2 wages so this was an unpleasant surprise.

7. Check your credit. Contact Experian, TransUnion or Equifax for one free credit report a year. You should have a credit score of 720 or higher. Check for errors or small bills that might not have gotten paid. Credit Card debt should not exceed 50% of your credit limit (although in general I recommend you pay your cards off every month). If your balance is above 50% you may be able to get your credit card company to increase your limit.

8. Apply for the loan before any transitions or retirement. We had just retired, and the lender did not want to rely on our W-2 wages since we no longer had jobs, and we had not yet taken any interest or dividend income since we had finished out 2012 living on our savings rather than taking money from our savings accounts, so we had a problem proving we had the investment income to service the loan.

If you are retiring and you have assets, but not much visible income, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac allow your lender to “annuitize” your assets by making a conservative estimate of what your savings/IRAs/assets would generate as income if spread over the life of your loan. In addition, if your are eligible for Social Security but have not chosen to start receiving it, you can generate an estimate to show your lender what is available to you.

9. This is going out on a limb, and you know I could be wrong, but prices are rising, at least in the San Francisco Bay Area. If the tech boom continues, prices may continue to rise, so if you are thinking of buying a home this might be a good time, for some stats on prices rising click HERE.  But then, this bubble may end soon, we will have to wait and see.

Why are things so much more difficult? The many foreclosures and short sales over the past few years have made everyone more cautious about lending money. Not only was there malfeasance on the part of the big banks, there was a lot of fraud on the part of borrowers. Many lenders sell your loan to the F.H.A. and they have to prove a much higher level the borrowers ability to pay back the loan since the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Good luck, we survived the process and are very glad we did. We now live in the Adams Point neighborhood in Oakland.

It has been fun talking about money, feel free to contact me if you have questions: affinitymingle@gmail.com.

I also have a plus size fashion blog and I would love for you to stop by and check it out if you have an interest or know someone who might enjoy it. It is more of a D.I.Y., how to make it work and a resource blog than a true fashion blog. http://affatshionista.com/

Blurbs for the Brain: Mommy, Are We Rich?

A round-up of thought-provoking ideas or research I’ve come across while reading newspapers and magazines.

Wall Street Journal – the Journal Report – Wealth Management

How do you keep heirs from losing their work ethic?

Eleanor Blayney, consumer advocate of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards

I once ran a workshop for wealthy parents on how to raise financially responsible children. One mother shared her unique approach. She told about the time her preteen son came to her and asked, “Mommy, are we rich?” To which she replied, “Your father and I are. But you are not.” I now believe this is the conversation that all wealthy parents need to have with their kids.

I love that! I am rich, but you kiddo are not! In other words, you gotta work  for it. You’re not born into it!

The University of Chicago Magazine, Jan-Feb 2013

Research by Chicago Booth behavioral scientist Nicholas Epley and Yan Zhang MBA ’09, PhD ’09 found that people would rather receive gifts that they requested, over gifts that were unrequested but thoughtful. By the way, if you didn’t know it already, the science of gift giving is extremely uneconomical.

Top 10 Cities for Tech based on venture capital investment

Source: The Money Tree Report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data from Thomson Reuters

1. SF

2. San Jose, CA

3. Boston

4. NYC

5. Oakland, CA

6. San Diego

7. LA area

8. Orange County, CA

9. Chicago

10. Austin Area, TX

1 Night and 1 Day in Point Reyes

While everyone is enjoying the holiday week and weekend, I got exactly 1 day (the 4th of July) to take advantage of an abbreviated vacation. Dean and I took off after work on Wednesday and headed to scenic Point Reyes which is an hour away from San Francisco. Given the limited timeframe, I made sure to pack it in. Here is a visual summary of our 1 night, 1 day vacation.

We stayed at the Tomales Bay Resort in Inverness. Nothing says vacation more than being right on the water.

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We had dinner at the Michael Bauer (SF Food Critic)–approved Sir and Star in Olema. Service was horrendous, but the food was so incredible I didn’t mind. Everything is very locally-sourced within a few miles of the restaurant. Fuck real foie gras, their faux gras was a jar of fatty buttery goodness; it truly should be illegal.

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We had brunch outdoors at the Station House Cafe in Point Reyes Station.

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The Tomales Point Trail took us 4 hours to hike round-trip: coastal bluffs, tule elk reserve, wildflowers, sand dunes. One of the best hikes ever! The snake that slithered in front of me gave me a scare, but otherwise absolute bliss. We hiked to the very end of the trail, to the edge of the continent.

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Homeward bound!

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