Monthly Archives: May 2015

Basic Mortgage Terminology

Do you speak Mortgage?
Even for Loan Professionals, Mortgage lingo can be very confusing. To help take the confusion out of the Mortgage process, we have come up with a listing of some of the more commonly used mortgage terms, and definitions in plain language.
Just Download and Print!

Loan Terminology

Just Download and Print!


Why real estate clients should hire you and not another agent?


“Why should we hire you instead of another real estate agent?” Do you fear this question? If so, you probably have not identified your unique value proposition (UVP). Some people call it the unique selling proposition (they say toe-may-toe; I say toe-mah-toe).

Regardless of what you call it, your unique proposition is what makes you different. It is why someone should hire you and not someone else. Based on our experience, it is hard for many of us to confidently state what we do differently — which is pretty scary, considering that we need to convince people of our value in order to earn new business. But each one of us has several qualities that makes us exceptional at what we do. We just need to discover them.

We have come up with a simple exercise to help you identify your UVP in fewer than 20 minutes. Grab a pen and piece of paper. Write down a list of answers to these questions. Just write. Don’t edit. It’s OK if you repeat yourself. Give yourself three minutes for each question.

  1. What are the skills for which you are known? Your friends, family and colleagues probably call you for help or advice with these projects. Maybe you are handy with technology. Perhaps you are a creative problem-solver. It could be that you have a great eye for design.

  1. What are your favorite parts of this business? This is what you spend time doing because you enjoy it — not because you are struggling with it. Maybe you love the marketing element of the job. Perhaps you enjoy collaborating with other people. Or maybe you have fun tinkering with market numbers and statistics.

  1. What are your past career accomplishments? Whatever you did before this career is likely reflected in your way of helping clients. Former financial advisers or accountants have a facility for numbers and an understanding of a property as an asset. Former customer service people understand the importance of listening and addressing concerns. Former teachers spend time educating their clients to help them in their decision-making processes.

  1. What are your personal interests? Whether you like taking photographs, walking around your neighborhood or watching home improvement shows, there may be a relevant interest there.

Take a look at the list you just wrote. I bet your answers represent a benefit (or several) for your clients.

Now let’s reduce this list to something usable. Here is how we do it in fewer than 10 minutes:

  1. Select the three skills or interests on your list that are the most relevant to your business. (It’s OK if there are fewer than three.)

  1. Write one concise sentence for each skill, communicating how it benefits your clients. Here’s an example: “My love of architecture helps me to sell your home more quickly because I can identify and market the stylistic qualities that attract buyers.”

  1. Be sure the benefit is something that matters to your clients. Clients are most often concerned about saving (or yielding) the most money, completing the sale quickly and alleviating stress in the process. The goal is to tie your skill, experience or interest back to one of those concerns.

You should now have a better idea of what makes you unique — and you should feel more comfortable about answering the dreaded question, “Why should we hire you and not another real estate agent?”

Use your unique value proposition in your listing presentations, bio, social media posts, marketing pieces — heck, shout it from the mountaintops! Once you have these differentiators committed to memory, you will be more successful at winning new business. Source:

Your Loan in the Valley

VA Home Loan Guidelines and Loan Limits


The VA home loan offers incredible benefits to current and former members of the US Armed Forces. VA loans require no down payment, no mortgage insurance, and less money upfront.

Over 20 million veterans have taken advantage of the program since its creation in 1944. Some 630,000 obtained a VA loan in 2013 alone. The VA home loan program is catching on and gaining steam.

And for good reason.

Veterans enjoy low overall loan costs. VA mortgage rates today are 0.25% to 0.50% lower than those available for conventional loans and mortgage insurance is never required — regardless of your downpayment.

VA-eligible mortgage applicants save thousands in mortgage interest throughout their loan term.


VA mortgage rates are among the lowest of all available mortgage rates. There are several reasons why.

The first reason why VA mortgage rates are low is because VA home loans are guaranteed against loss by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Lenders assume very little risk on VA loans.

A second reason why mortgage rates are low for VA loans is that the program boasts some of the lowest default rates of any mortgage loan type. Lower default risk leads to lower future costs and rock-bottom rates.

A third reason is competition.

Lenders like to make VA loans for the two reasons above and the competition for veterans’ business creates downward price pressure.

Mortgage rates today are at 21-month lows with many VA lenders offering mortgage rates in the low-3 percent range.

Today’s mortgage rates are helping to keep home affordable for VA home buyers, and the VA streamline refinance program has helped reduce payment for thousands of existing VA homeowners since last year.

Just a few years ago, VA mortgage rates were in the 8s.


Among the benefits of a VA loan is that the program allows for “jumbo” loan sizes in some U.S. cities without charging its borrowers extra.

For example, VA buyers can borrow up to $417,000 with no money down, which means that any U.S. home sold for $417,000 or less can be financed 100%.

However, this $417,000 limit is just a minimum. In certain “expensive” parts of the country, however, VA loan limits range much higher.

Consider that the average sales price in December 2014 for a single-family home was $255,800, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Yet, in San Francisco, California; or, New York City, buyers would be hard-pressed to find a home for even two or three times that amount.

To help its military borrowers, then, the Department of Veterans Affairs extends its maximum loan limits in cities in which costs are typically higher.

As a few examples of the VA’s extended loan limits:

Marin County, California home buyers: VA loans up to $625,500

Seattle, Washington home buyers: VA loans up to $517,500

Boulder, Colorado home buyers: VA loans up to $456,550

The 2015 VA loan limits chart tops out at $721,050 for home buyers in Honolulu, Hawaii.

These extended limits help VA-eligible buyers nationwide — especially as home prices rise. Via the VA loan guaranty program, veterans have a zero-down mortgage option for homes sold above the national average. Source:

Your Loan in the Valley