5 Ways to Make your Business more Energy Efficient!

Conserving energy is about turning down your lights, lowering your heat and using fewer products that come from fossil fuels. Hopefully we all know what we need to do to be good stewards of our environment.

One area of our environment where we often fall short is conservation of our professional energy efficiencies. By being efficient with your energy, you can do more for you and your business.

Look for repeats
When you find yourself having the same conversations, writing the same directions or instructions, or repeating activities think about ways to reduce repetition.
• Create email templates with directions and instructions that you can copy and paste for repeat questions.
• Use of video or audio can help you in situations where you are explaining the same concepts. Create an instructional library, and attach links in emails or messaging to help you answer complex repeat questions.

Book impenetrable time blocks
I have two workouts planned weekly in my calendar and they have been there for years. In my mind these two weekly hours are as important as a meeting with a top producer in my market.
• Figure out what you need to schedule that matters to YOU, and make it of maximum importance.
• Remember that it takes 21 days to make a habit. Repeat!

Stack your visits
When you have an appointment or meeting some distance away, think about what else you can accomplish in that area while you are there.
• Use your road time for business development. Who do you want to meet with that also lives in this area.
• Dig into social media and meet with someone you have never met face-to-face and is in that general location.

Keep everything in your calendar
Send out calendar appointments for your meetings. Your appointments are easily accessible in calendar schedules.
• Email appointment reminders a day or two in advance to avoid last minute cancellations.
• Review your calendar weekly to be sure you have it managed.

Use your technology
Communicate by taking advantage of your voice mail and email out-of-office messages.
• Use your out-of-office message to tell people how and when to reach you, or where you are and when you will get back to save additional communication.
• Use your voice mail to establish expectations and to minimize interruptions.

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More On Energy Conservation And New Regulations!

More On Energy Conservation And New Regulations!

Conserve your energy on TRID until more policies and approaches are developed.

I’m on an earth day theme, but I think that it is really important to talk about TRID. The TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure, or TRID, is the pending regulation that goes into effect on most real estate sales transactions on and after August 1st.

Companies are still making their legal and compliant decisions on how they will approach certain aspects of the TRID regulation. Many of these regulations are open for interpretation and lenders need to determine their policies and procedures for these new rules.

TRID Basics:

TRID is a merger of the TIL and the GFE, the upfront disclosures that go to consumers once they have applied for a mortgage. These forms are being combined into one form called the Loan Estimate (LE) on the front end. In the back end, TRID merges the final TIL and the HUD into one form called the Closing Disclosure (CD).

- As with current disclosures, the new LE forms are required to be delivered within three business days of application

- CD Forms must be delivered three business days prior to closing

- If there is a change in APR, loan product or if a pre-payment penalty is added, the three business day clock re-sets and the closing will be delayed

- Any change in final numbers that do not impact the APR must be approved by lender before closing

The goal of this regulation is to ensure that consumers have enough time to understand the numbers in the mortgage transaction. Once a lender issues the LE, those numbers cannot adjust without a legitimate change of circumstance. At the closing, the numbers should match the initial LE, unless the consumer was notified of a legitimate change. Although the industry has changed a lot, there are still borrowers who voiced that the numbers at closing were not as expected. By the time they got to the table, there was nothing that could have been done so they closed. Now the consumer will have ample time to make sure they understand all the numbers and the lender will have to have everything in order to ensure an on-time closing.

Some TRID basics to help insure there are no closing delays:

You will be hearing more about this regulation as the implementation date of August 1st grows closer and companies firm up their interpretation and approach to TRID.

We all work together to get the buyer and seller to a happy closing table. Real estate agents can support this system by helping to educate buyers. Title agents and attorneys need to complete title orders up front, and consumers need to obtain homeowner\’s insurance early as well as transferring funds early in the process to get the loan clear to close. Nothing impacting the loan application and documentation can be left to the end of the process. Doing everything as early as possible will help ensure timely closings.

TRID TIPS…

- Allow at least two weeks from mortgage commitment date to closing so all conditions can be cleared and the closing numbers can be produced, reviewed and accepted. This will ensure there will be no delay in the closing.

- Counsel buyers to respond to all lender requests with speed. Make sure they understand the consequences of any delay in getting the loan clear to close.

- Allow 3-4 weeks for mortgage commitments. Call your lender to gauge market conditions up front so that proper expectations can be established.

- Be sure to allow additional time for more complicated transactions. Staying in close communication with the lender will set a proper time frame for the specific transaction.

This is the time for all of us to step up and work together. We can get through this new approach and our consumers will be more educated and satisfied they are getting the loan they want.

Next Up:

TRID has new guidance to consumers on how to shop for a mortgage, which could impact the timing of the transaction. There are also new approaches to pre-qualifications that we will address in our next post. Stay tuned!
Amy Tierce
Regional Vice President

We’re here to help you and your buyers do more, learn more and grow more!

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Reduce – Reuse – Recycle For business success!

Reduce
If you are like me, you have a long list of goals to accomplish. One way to achieve this reduction goal is to Reduce the list down to one or two goals, plans or desires. Keep it simple and manageable. Focus your energy on achieving a single goal and see what happens. When you reduce a sauce, it becomes rich and refined. Do the same for your goals and see the richness it can bring to your life!

Reuse
We are a consumer-based society constantly bombarded with new and improved items to buy and products or services to engage. Everything is available in a “newer” model, and often just days or weeks after we have purchased, the “next big thing” is announced!

Take stock of what has worked for you in the past, whether it be a sales strategy or a weight loss program. You don’t need to reinvent your approach. Rather, learn to recognize the products, programs or services that support your desires and goals and look at how you can enhance or utilize those more effectively.

Don’t discard what’s been tried and true for the next shiny, new option. Invest in Reusing effective strategies for your everyday life and business.

Recycle
In business, we are often looking to develop new relationships and expand our networks with potential customers or business partners. This could be new friends, a new gym buddy or tennis partner.

Dig out that Rolodex and look at who you already know, who have you lost touch with, who would you love to see again and reach out. We are frequently looking to build new relationships when we already know people who can enrich and enhance our lives.

It can take 8 – 12 touches just to start a new relationship. It takes just one phone call to reconnect with someone. Recycle those friendships, whether personal or professional. Replacing them takes much more work!

Reduce – Reuse – Recycle to save time, energy and money and see your life simplified and enriched!

Amy Tierce
Regional Vice President

We’re here to help you and your buyers do more, learn more and grow more!

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Wintrust Advisor – Solar Panels Are Everywhere

Solar Panels Are Everywhere. How do they impact mortgage financing?

It’s April and in honor of Earth Day we are going to have an environmental focus on our next few installments!

I was out and about last week and in just few blocks sighted 6 homes in our neighborhood with solar panels. As the daughter of an early environmentalist, seeing so many houses with solar power supplementation excited me. As a mortgage professional I wondered how having solar power might impact the mortgage qualification process.

According to www.CostofSolar.com, updating your home to solar panels as your home’s energy source can save a homeowner on average $20,000 over the course of 20 years. “Residents in some states with high electricity prices can expect to save much more than that – consider Hawaii, where residents save on average $64,000 after 20 years.”

While further researching this topic, I found there are mortgage rules surrounding solar panels to keep in mind when investing in alternative energy production.

The biggest question to remember when thinking about updating your home to a solar panel system: does the homeowner own the solar panels or is the equipment leased or being paid for under an agreement with the solar company?

If you own your solar equipment you should be fine to sell your home later at any time. Complications can arise when you do not own the equipment. I would suggest that if you consider installing solar power, have a lender review the contract to determine if there could be any issues with future financing. Leasing solar panels can make an impact should you decide to sell your home at a later date.

Complications that can arise with leased solar equipment:
• The solar panels may not be included in the appraised value of the property
• The buyer may have to qualify with the solar lease payment included in their ratio
• Traditional electrical services to the house must be maintained and functional
• There are insurance requirements, and other issues to address that make financing a property with leased solar equipment more challenging

Agents, if you are listing a property with solar power, call me early on to determine any possible complications to a future buyer. Some solar providers have created contracts and lease agreements that are suitable to lending requirements, but you want to know what you are dealing with out of the gate. Here is an article on this subject from the LA Times that you might find interesting.

http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-harney-20150322-story.html?track=rss

On another note:
Realtors in this busy spring market if you have a favorite loan originator who you think would enjoy the Wintrust platform, send them our way!

Amy Tierce
Regional Vice President
We’re here to help you and your buyers do more, learn more and grow more!

Wintrust Mortgage is a division of Barrington Bank & Trust Company, N.A., a Wintrust Community Bank NMLS# 449042. Copyright © 2015 Wintrust Mortgage KO15031397

 

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Wintrust Advisor – Tax Season Focus – Self Employed Borrowers

Tax Season Focus — Self Employed Borrowers

Tax transcripts are required on all loan files but are especially important for documentation when a borrower is self-employed. Transcripts come directly from the IRS and demonstrate that the tax returns provided for lending purposes are the same returns filed with the IRS. This proves that no fraud has been committed on the loan application.

As April 15th approaches, there can be delays in obtaining tax transcript verification. When calculating self-employed borrower’s income, we are required to average two years of income if the current year is higher, or use the lowest of the two years if the current year’s income is lower. If you have a self-employed borrower who needs to use their 2014 income in order to qualify, we will need the 2014 transcripts in the file prior to closing. Encourage your borrowers to file their taxes as early as possible in order to avoid delay!
Warning from the IRS!

There are many different tax scams going on across the country. The scam that has been receiving the most press this year is fake IRS phone calls demanding immediate payments, with a threat of jail time if the borrower does not immediately pay the ‘amount owed’. The IRS does not call individuals at home; they will send a letter first. NEVER give out personal information over the phone or send money to an unknown caller. Read more below on this and other tax and identity theft issues to be on the alert for!

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/13/us/irs-scam/

Reach out to Wintrust Mortgage to determine your mortgage pre-qualification options, to learn more about pre-qualifying for a home loan as a self-employed buyer or for any other real estate and financial information!

Amy Tierce
Regional Vice President
We’re here to help you and your buyers do more, learn more and grow more!

Wintrust Mortgage is a division of Barrington Bank & Trust Company, N.A., a Wintrust Community Bank NMLS# 449042. Copyright © 2015 Wintrust Mortgage KO15031397

 

 

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Do you know all the different programs available with little or no money down?

Conventional 97% - (That’s 3% down) Fannie Mae has reinstated their 3% down loan program. One of the borrowers must be a first time homebuyer, which means that they cannot have had ownership interest in a home in the past 3 years. All of the down payment can be a gift from a family member!

My Community Mortgage - Like the Conventional 97 program, this Fannie Mae product is for lower income buyers and offers reduced mortgage insurance costs. Borrowers must complete a homebuyer education class. Income limits are established by county that must be adhered to.

FHA Loans - Allows buyers to get into a home with a 3.5% down payment, which can be in the form of a gift from a family member. FHA makes allowances for lower credit scores and higher ratios.

VA Loans - This is a first class zero down payment loan program. Wintrust waives our processing and underwriting fees for our veterans. The seller can contribute up to 4% as a credit towards closing costs and we can offer a lender credit to minimize closing costs as well. Always be sure to ask your prospects if they have served in the military.

USDA Loans - Yes, the US Department of Agriculture has a home loan division that allows 100% financing. The property must be in a rural zone and the borrower’s income must be within the USA income limits. Give us a call if you want to learn more about USDA qualified communities in your area.

State Bond Programs - Most states offer a housing program of some type that allows for zero or low down payment and other benefits for the state’s low to moderate income residents. For example, Massachusetts offers the Mass Housing programs, which has income limitations and is available to first time buyers only (defined as not having ownership in a piece of real estate in the past three years) and requires that the buyer attend a home buying education class.

Each of these programs offers different benefits and advantages depending upon the profile of the homebuyer. Let your mortgage professionals at Wintrust Mortgage navigate this maze with your buyers. We will provide complete education as to appropriate offerings and provide written comparisons on all programs. Homebuyers will be better equipped to make an educated decision on how to structure their new home purchase in a way that meets their needs and dreams!


Amy Tierce
Regional Vice President

We’re here to help you and your buyers do more, learn more and grow more!

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Amy Tierce and Amyrates moves to Wintrust Mortgage!

Welcome back to the Amyrates Blog!

We have been busy re-building, re-branding and re-structuring our platform.  In case you haven’t heard, after 10 years of building and running the top branch at Fairway Independent Mortgage, I decided to move to Wintrust Mortgage!  I was hired to build a new region for the company and I am very excited for this opportunity. Wintrust Mortgage is part of Wintrust Financial Corporation, a nearly $20 billion asset financial services company based out of Chicago. Since we are a nationally chartered lender, I can lend in all 50 states from our Needham location. Through Wintrust Mortgage, we offer more products and programs than I have ever had access to; as well as a top flight condo department. Wintrust processes loans in a manner that is highly efficient and consumer friendly.

Please enjoy the Amyrates blog site! We will be creating new content weekly as the Wintrust Advisor which is targeted to the real estate community. In addition we will be adding posts on motivation, home buying, leadership, business development and women in business!

Stay tuned and thanks for paying attention.

 WINTRUST MORTGAGE SETTLES IN TO THEIR FIRST NEW ENGLAND OFFICE

With the opening of its new location in Needham, Mass, Midwest based Wintrust Mortgage has expanded into the New England region under the guidance of Regional Vice President Amy Tierce. Wintrust has the systems, compliance and security of a nationally chartered entity along with the flexibility of a correspondent lending platform and offers their clients the stability and clout of a $20 billion dollar bank. The service-focused mortgage lender has great expertise in all facets of mortgage lending, and their portfolio, condominium and jumbo offerings make them an especially good fit for the Metro-Boston market and all of New England.

Veteran lender Amy Tierce is at the forefront of the expansion and is using her vast industry knowledge to grow the New England region for Wintrust. “I am incredibly excited to introduce a new lending brand to New England. There is no one mortgage company, bank or lender who can execute every single deal that comes across their desk, but at Wintrust we can do more than most, and combined with our delivery systems we are the winning team,” says Tierce. She says New England is the perfect fit for Wintrust. Tierce adds, “This is a very challenging environment and I believe that the best originators and realtors need to be served by the strongest lending platform. How could I resist this opportunity?”

Amy isn’t just a top lender at Wintrust, she knows New England. Her knowledge comes from her experience as Regional VP for Fairway Independent Mortgage and manager of their number one Newton MA branch and region. Tierce isn’t the only New England addition to Wintrust’s new location. A strong team was crafted from Fairway, Deana Auman-Kirbach, Regional Operations Manager, Linda Erwin, Sr. Underwriter and Michele Auman, Sr. Processor. On the origination side, Brian Denton, an industry veteran and top originator formerly with Fairway and Drew Grandi former Business Development Director from Poli Mortgage are also on the team. Wintrust’s Executive Vice President of Sales Bob Shield raved, “When we met Amy, and later her team, we knew that this was a group we could build a region around. They have high standards and strong value systems around quality compliant origination, high-trust customer service, education, community engagement and charitable involvement, all hallmarks of Wintrust.”

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What is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)?

Established in the wake of the financial meltdown, the CFPB was tasked with standing up for consumers, making sure they’re treated fairly, and restoring trust in the consumer financial marketplace.  This is a huge regulatory agency which oversees the banking and lending entities in our nation.From the CFPB website:

What’s the difference between being prequalified and preapproved for a mortgage?

Updated 5/8/2013

Prequalification is a lender’s estimate of how much you could be eligible to borrow based on information you supply. Prequalification does not mean you will get the loan. Prequalifications are usually free.

Preapproval usually means that the lender is ready to make you a mortgage loan based on the information and documentation you provided at the time you requested a preapproval. The preapproval will say how long it is valid for and may contain some other conditions for you to get the loan. Your lender may not require that you pay any fees except the cost of a credit report at this time.

The Truth

The CFPB’s definition doesn’t really tell the full story — real estate professionals need to review any letter representing a buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage with great care and scrutiny, no matter what the letter is called.

Today, some banks have made the decision to NOT issue pre-approval letters due to the cumbersome regulatory environment, so they may call their letter a pre-qualification. Lenders licensed as mortgage brokers can’t issue a pre-approval letter because they aren’t licensed to approve loans. Some lenders issue letters based on a simple conversation with the borrower and call them pre-approvals; some lenders have borrowers submit information though a website that churns out pre-approval letters without any lender review; some lenders issue letters only after a thorough investigative process.

What matters is the process used to get the answer — not what the letter is called, but what it says.

When evaluating a pre-qualification or a pre-approval letter on behalf of a seller, this is what you need to look for.

Does the letter contain the following?

  • The purchase price
  • The loan amount
  • An expiration date
  • Names and addresses of all buyers
  • Percent of the down payment
  • Loan type (Conventional, Jumbo, USDA, FHA, VA, etc.)
  • Loan term (Fixed or Adjustable, 30 years or 15 years, etc.)
  • Whether or not the transaction is dependent upon the sale of another property
  • Status of the property being sold (on market, under agreement)
  • Contact information for the loan officer and their NMLS number
  • Lender name and licensing details

Next, you need to ask yourself an important question: “do I know and trust this loan officer/institution?” Do not hesitate to call the loan officer and interview them on their process.

If the letter doesn’t state what documentation has been reviewed as a part of the process, then you should ask if the loan officer has reviewed the following:

  • Two years of federal tax returns
  • Two years of W2’s
  • One month of paystubs
  • Two months of asset statements checking, savings, investments to verify the source of down payment.
  • Credit report
  • Any additional documentation needs that arise out of the client interview

Don’t take a letter from an unknown lender at face value.  A high percentage of purchase transactions fall apart due to financing issues.

It doesn’t matter what the letter is called — it matters that the lender and the buyers worked together to ensure that the transaction will close on time. It matters that the lender is thorough, detailed and transparent about their process.

We are that lender — we’re here to help your buyers through this process and to celebrate your closing success with you! Give me a call anytime you need a second opinion on a letter, no matter what it’s called.

We’re here to help you and your buyers do more, learn more and grow more!

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There Are Many Ways to Evaluate a Mortgage Lender

There are many ways to evaluate a mortgage lender.

I’m a student of the mortgage industry — I read everything I can on the business, whether it’s written for consumers or for industry professionals, and especially if it includes information pertaining to or coming from the CFPB. For those of you who don’t know, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a regulatory authority that was formed four years ago. It oversees consumer financial products and the organizations that provide them. To learn more about the CFPB and their mission, visit www.cfpb.gov.

I’m always surprised and disappointed when guides to finding a suitable lender are published and focus primarily on rates, points and fees. A home purchase is generally the largest financial transaction in which most consumers will ever engage. I appreciate that cost and fees are a large factor when shopping for a mortgage, but there are many other factors to consider when selecting a lender.

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” — Benjamin Franklin

In addition to costs, what else should real estate professionals and consumers be seeking from a loan officer/lender?

Do they have a signature line in their email that includes their contact information and their mortgage licensing information? This is required by law.
Is their written communication well-produced, utilizing proper language, punctuation? Is it professionally formatted? Does the communication make sense? Is it helpful?
Did the lender offer or prepare any written details pertaining to the loan, like a spreadsheet or preliminary estimate of costs and fees, and a loan product comparison?
Did the lender explain how a rate lock works?
Was your initial call or email returned promptly?
Is the lender available to work with you when you’re available?
When they offer a pre-approval or pre-qualification, do they require that the consumer submit all pertinent financial documents to review before issuing a letter?
Are they fast to respond when needed?
Do they have a team backing them up?
Do they offer to talk with the seller or listing agent about a specific borrower/offer?

This list could go on forever — mortgage financing is complicated, and it requires the services of a confident and experienced professional to guide the consumer and agent through to the closing. Of course, no matter who you call, you’ll always be able to find someone willing to do the job for less, but making a large financial decision based exclusively on price can lead to a stressful and unhappy experience. Be sure to shop for quality service too, so that your real estate closing will be a celebration instead of an aggravation!

We’re here to help you and your buyers do more, learn more and grow more!

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Want to provide great customer service? Empower your people!

Everything in business sales — and sales is customer service. How do the people who represent you show up and serve your clients?

I needed to upgrade the prescription for my glasses; the frames were barely used, so instead of just replacing them I wanted to re-use them. (Did you know that it costs more to buy lenses for existing frames than it does to buy a complete set of glasses? Well, that’s another story.)

I went to the eye doctor, got a new prescription, and handed it to the manager of the store along with two sets of frames. I begged for a rush job since I would be traveling, but she said she “couldn’t control that.” Hmph!

I picked up the glasses, and over the following weeks I realized that the prescription was wrong: they were supposed to be progressives, but I couldn’t read anything wearing them. Cut to another trip to the store, where — after much haggling — the manager agreed to take the glasses back to replace the lenses again, but only after she could speak with my eye doctor. Because of the confusion I had to make a return trip to the eye doctor, who told me that they had installed the wrong prescription — period.

Back to the store — again — where I was told that, because progressive lenses were more expensive, I would have to pay an additional $120 to get my frames filled with the correct prescription. Since I’ve been a great client/customer at this store (five pairs of glasses in the last two years from the Tierces), I wondered if perhaps she could do something about the additional fee to compensate for the fact that they had it wrong from the beginning. The store manager wrote down the name and number for her district manager and suggested that I take it higher up!

No one could find the district manager because she’s on the road, and after much deliberation I was put in touch with the customer service manager, who offered to replace the lenses for $25.00 per pair. I said that was nice, but zero would be nicer.

They have an annoyed customer on their hands — had they empowered their manager to negotiate with me, or had the manager called her boss while I was in the store to plead my case, this could have been prevented. I was annoyed when I walked in because I was prepared for a battle and I got one. It would have been easy for the manager to make me feel like my experience matters to the company by behaving as though she cared. How? Well, she could have called her manager directly and fixed the situation, or she could have waived the cost on her own.

Is that how they want me to feel? In the world of blogging, tweeting and Yelp! customers have a voice, and not one that service providers or retailers really want us to have. No matter how right or wrong I think one of my clients is, I will always do what I need to do in order to have them walk away satisfied — not annoyed or angry. Empower the people who represent you to work out issues, to right wrongs, to take responsibility and action on behalf of their reputation.

If someone on my team takes action to correct a concern or problem they’ll be applauded first — if I don’t agree with the tactic used or the money refunded we can address that later, but customer satisfaction is number one on my list of what matters. It should be number one for all retailers, service providers and professionals. I know there are other mortgage companies to serve my clients, just like there are other eyeglass stores (at least 10 near me) where I can take my business. I’m loyal, until I’m given a reason not to be — you should be too!

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