Should I Stay or Should I Go?

This is a frustrating market for buyers. Many move up buyers wonder if they should stay put and renovate or expand their current home versus moving. Below are 10 points to consider when thinking about a renovation provided by Bruce Irving, Renovation Specialist. Bruce was formerly the producer of public televisions “This Old House” and today has a construction consulting practice as well as a successful real estate sales practice.

Ten Things to Get Straight before You Renovate

1. Live there. Unless the home you’ve just purchased is a total wreck, live in it for a good period of time before shaking it up with a renovation. Learn its flow, where the groceries land, where the laundry wants to go, how the sun hits it, where the choke points are, which way the rain slants, even get a sense of its soul–all of which will inform your choices when you make your plans to change things.

2. Accept this truth: almost every job costs more and takes longer than you think. After you (and your advisors) have done your very best to estimate the cost, add 20%. If you don’t have the funds, cut the job back. Ditto on the time: add 25%. If it’s a big job, add slightly less–say 20%–if you can vacate the house for the bulk of the project. If you happen to beat these projections, then your surprises are happy ones.

3. Good professional help is worth the money–that means design as well as construction. You are about to spend more than you ever thought possible—it might as well be for a correctly designed thing.

4. Use your professionals wisely and efficiently: Many architects charge by the hour (which is a good way to work with one), so bring a lot of thinking and pictures (of likes and dislikes) to your first meeting. If he or she doesn’t ask you a lot of questions about your needs, desires, and the way you live, find someone else. Listening skills and curiosity are crucial in an architect and builder. With contractors, be willing to pay for (and wait for) a good one. Skip the low bidder and probably the one who is available right away.

5. Choose your teammates wisely. Be it a designer or a general contractor, ask to contact their last three clients. These people will have experienced the person at his or her current level of achievement and staffing. Also ask the architect for two GCs s/he has worked with; ask the GC for two architects. These people have seen the person as only a professional can. Visit a couple of candidates’ jobsites to check out cleanliness, organization, and vibe.

6. Take your design to the schematic stage (as opposed to finished “biddable” plans) and then get a contractor or two to look at it. This way you can find out if your project is in the right budget ballpark before falling in love with a plan–and paying for a complete set of bid drawings. It’s also a good way to meet potential contractors, get their input, and not misuse their time.

7. Lay it out for real. Lots of people have great difficulty truly understanding blueprints. They say they get it, but quite often they don’t. Whenever possible, mark out the proposed change on the floor, the wall, the yard, and walk through it. The experience may surprise you. Ask lots of questions. There’s no such thing as a dumb one, and besides, it’s your money you’re spending. You should know why and on what.

8. Water kills houses. If you’re faced with a choice of working on the outside or the inside, start on the outside. No point in putting in a new floor if the roof is getting set to leak. Gutters, grading, foundation plantings, flat roofs—make sure the water is going where it should: away from the building.

9. Synthetics are good. Especially when it comes to the exterior, low-maintenance is the name of the game, and cement clapboarding (HardiePlank), expanded polyurethane moldings (Fypon), and cellular PVC trim (Azek) outlast today’s wood and hold paint better. Each has its own quirks, so make sure your contractor is familiar with them or willing to learn about them. New treatment processes have made real wood exceptionally rot-resistant as well—Centurion is a pine trim that comes with a 50-year warranty against decay.

10. Psychology counts. I was describing my business to someone in a restaurant when the woman at the next table leaned over. She was a psychologist and she said that in her experience, renovations were right up there with moving and loss of a job as stressors on couples. The issues, she said, were power, control, and money. One way to see what your issues will be is to take on a small project together–paint a room, put up a mailbox. Your styles will soon be apparent, and you can work on figuring out a division of labor that might accommodate them–on that job and larger ones in the future.

BONUS: Spend good money on things you touch every day–door hardware, doors, faucets, appliances, kitchen cabinets. The tactile experience sends a daily reminder to you and your guests about the solidity and quality of your home.

EXTRA BONUS: Think long and hard before you replace your windows. If they’re original to the house and are in half-decent shape, they can and should be resuscitated. In combination with a storm window, a properly functioning old window comes very close to equaling the energy efficiency of a modern thermal-pane unit–and will outlast it. Anyone claiming that you will earn your money back in energy savings by installing replacement windows is either misinformed or looking for your money himself.

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Over communicate with your clients to avoid frustration!

Sitting at the airport waiting on a once cancelled and now extremely delayed flight; the frustration among the travelers is palpable. They are pacing, and huffing and speaking angrily into their phones trying to find an alternative. This has been going on for over an hour and will continue until we are comfortably in our seats and racing down the runway for takeoff.

It would be easy to alleviate some of the shared frustration and anxiety, if they would just communicate! I crave an announcement that would say, “We are terribly sorry for this situation, we promise to provide you with active updates every 15 minutes until you are on the plane.” That would be great, much better than the electronic sign which says that we are boarding now.

This is a situation that will last for a matter of hours. Imagine living through this unknown for days or weeks. That can be today’s mortgage and real estate buying process. A complicated process full of unexpected events and requirements, many that come up during the process adding stress and anxiety.

All we can do to make the experience more welcoming is to communicate from the beginning and throughout until the loan has closed and the buyer is soaring. Communicate consistently and at pre-determined intervals; reach out immediately if there are any concerns or new requirements. Deliver the news immediately and communicate even when there is nothing to say but “we are on track and there is no news.” It’s not much, but it is exactly what consumers crave, honest and frank communication about their specific transaction.

We cannot remove the pitfalls and hurdles in the mortgage process. All we can do is keep our borrowers, agents and sellers informed throughout with accurate details as to the timeline for the transaction. In the end, we all want to know what is going on in real time. Whether it is with our delayed flight or our mortgage application, keeping us informed will keep the relationship and the transaction on track and get us to take off with less stress.

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Who really wants to move in 30 Days?

Think about it. Four weekends total to pack and arrange all that is required to make a move. It’s hard, taxing, stressful and painful. Unless there is a reason that one has to move in 30 days, most people would prefer to have more time for this massive undertaking.

It is hard for mortgage lenders to close loans in 30 days too, painful, stressful and full of anxiety… mostly because so much of the process is out of the control of the lender. Among the greatest stressors in the mortgage industry today is the appraisal process. Today, much of New England expects a three-week period, or more, from the time the appraisal is ordered until the lender receives it. Once received, the appraisal has to go through an approval process, either with an underwriter or the lender’s appraisal review department. It is almost guaranteed that the report will need some type of correction. Appraisers are moving fast and can be overworked. They’re only human, they can make mistakes. However, today’s exacting mortgage process requires that all documents be absolutely perfect, to market specifications, prior to closing.

Getting corrections on an appraisal report can take several days. Appraisers are on the road daily and often spend their evenings at the computer, completing reports, or revising and correcting old ones. It can take time to connect with them to discuss the necessary changes to the report and to get the corrected report back.
The appraisal industry seems to be in crisis. Today there are fewer and fewer appraisers in the industry to meet the demands of this aggressive market. In the State of North Dakota alone, there are only 17 licensed appraisers. Thus in many areas of our country, appraisers are demanding $1000 to $2000 for a report, not including rush fees.

Think about this: in MA it takes at least 21 days to obtain an appraisal report, 2-5 days for approval, or revisions and final approval, then the loan needs to be clear to close prior to the closing date to meet the requirements of TRID regulations.
This situation makes 30-day closings near impossible, unless the stars align for all parties. The process might be easier for everyone if contracts were written with an, “On-or-Before,” closing date of 40 days out. This way, when there is a one-to-two-day minor delay in a closing, the need for extensions and back-and-forth goes away. The buyer and seller remain protected by the mortgage contingency and deposit check.

The knowledge that all are prepared to extend the closing date by a few days, due to unforeseen minor delays from third parties, helps all of those affected by the home buying process to sleep a little easier.

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Are Your Buyers Ready to Roll?

Now is a great time to make sure your buyers are well prepared to go forward when making the decision to buy. A mortgage professional can be very helpful in ensuring they are on the right track. Here are some tips that will help your clients make the process go smoothly.

1. Review your credit. There are a lot of free credit report websites available to use, although these sites do not provide the same credit scores used in the mortgage industry, they provide excellent insight into your credit profile. Take a moment to review your credit to insure there are no surprises. It is vital that you make sure all your accounts are current and there are no late payments, charge off’s, etc. It is important you avoid making any new purchases on credit or opening any new credit lines and do not close any credit accounts even if paid in full.

2. Make sure you can verify your income. Small business owners, entrepreneurs, and other self-employed individuals are concerned about their ability to qualify; there has been a lot of miss information about lending requirements. Talk with your accountant about how you file and how to maximize your income for mortgage qualification. File your tax returns as early in the New Year as possible. Keep copies of invoices, contracts, and any other income documentation that arrives throughout the year so that you can create a mid-year snap shot of income since last tax filing. Meet with a trusted mortgage professional to review all options and maximize your mortgage potential.

3. Keep your money where it is. This is not the time to be shifting your money between accounts. When the mortgage lender reviews your loan, they are likely to need a paper trail documenting every transfer, withdrawal and deposit. Don’t create undue stress and complication with any unnecessary shuffling of funds.

4. Get educated. If this is your first home purchase, ask about first time homebuyer classes you can take. Some first time buyer programs require a homebuyer education class, learning about the process is never a bad way to start your house hunt.

As you know, the housing market is roaring back, make sure your buyers are ready when the time comes. Preparation and diligence are vital in ensuring a great home buying experience.

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Wintrust Announces New Branch Manager – Thomas David

ROCHESTER, NY — September 15, 2016 — Wintrust Mortgage is announced that Thomas David, NMLS# 469082, has joined the company to build a branch in the Rochester area.

Mr. David brings years of banking, finance and customer service expertise to the growing Northeast Wintrust Mortgage team. After graduating from Georgia State University with a degree in finance, he began a career in the banking industry and later went on to pursue a master’s in business administration at the University of Buffalo.

With more than 15 years of mortgage lending experience, the company is hopeful he will grow Wintrust Mortgage’s market share in upstate New York. A top producing loan originator in his own right, Mr. David will continue to serve his clients, realtors and other business associates with all their mortgage finance needs, while building and developing a team of mortgage professionals.

“We are so excited to welcome Thomas to our team,” said Wintrust Mortgage Regional Vice President Amy Tierce, NMLS# 15695. “He brings a lot of related experience and leadership to our growing brand. Both the clients he serves and the team that he leads will be lucky to work with him. I am so excited that he chose to join us!”

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Wintrust Announces New Branch Manager – William Reese

ROCHESTER, NY — September 14, 2016 — Wintrust Mortgage is excited to announce William Reese, NMLS# 595580, as a new branch manager in Rochester, NY.

Mr. Reese has been in the banking industry for 25 years. After graduating from the University of California at San Diego with a degree in sociology and economics, he began his finance career at JP Morgan Chase, where he was a mortgage officer for 12 years.

With his decades of experience, Mr. Reese will be an integral part of the new Rochester branch launch. The Wintrust Mortgage team believes his talent and experience position him well to grow a sales team that will be able to exceed the region’s mortgage needs. In addition, Mr. Reese serves a community of borrowers and real estate agents in southern California built during the time he lived out there.
“A testimony to the quality of his service is that Bill’s clients from out West remain loyal to him although he is across the country,” said Wintrust Mortgage Regional Vice President Amy Tierce, NMLS# 15695.

While working at Wells Fargo, Mr. Reese consistently ranked in the top one percent in mortgage volume for seven years. A highlight of that tenure came in 2002 and 2003, when he was awarded the High Volume Producer Award, originating more than $150 million in mortgages each year.

“We are excited to have Bill on our team, and have no doubt his leadership will be instrumental in the success of this new branch,” continued Ms. Tierce. “This area in upstate New York offers a great opportunity for us to provide the same quality service that our customers in Massachusetts have come to expect.”

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Wintrust Mortgage announces new area manager – Donald Tilkins

SARATOGA, NY — September 14, 2016 — Wintrust Mortgage has announced that Donald Tilkins, NMLS# 420542, is the new area manager in upstate New York.

Donald Tilkins has worked in the banking industry for more than 15 years. After graduating from Niagara University in 2000 with a degree in business and marketing, he started his career at Wells Fargo. While there, he worked his way up from sales to branch manager. In his previous experience, Mr. Tilkins has worked at Cole Taylor Bank and EverBank as a branch manager.

He will capitalize on this experience as he transitions into the area manager of New York, servicing the Buffalo to Albany region. In addition to his duties in that role, Donald will also be responsible for growing a strong area presence as the primary recruiter for Wintrust Mortgage’s new location in Saratoga.

“We are excited to bring Donald in as part of our leadership team,” said Wintrust Mortgage Regional Vice President Amy Tierce, NMLS# 15695. “Donald is the perfect fit to create a lasting and prolific footprint in upstate New York. We needed to employ an area manager who can rise to challenges of this region. We think Donald is uniquely qualified to develop these branches and lead them to continued success.”

Mr. Tilkins was awarded the Leaders Club National Sales Conference Management and Personal Production and Customer Service Rating 100% Award eight times. In 2013, he was one of the Top 5 Nationally ranked Producers.

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Who really wants to move in 30 Days?

Think about it. Four weekends total to pack and arrange all that is required to make a move. It’s hard, taxing, stressful and painful. Unless there is a reason that one has to move in 30 days, most people would prefer to have more time for this massive undertaking.

It is hard for mortgage lenders to close loans in 30 days too, painful, stressful and full of anxiety… mostly because so much of the process is out of the control of the lender. Among the greatest stressors in the mortgage industry today is the appraisal process. Today, much of New England expects a three-week period, or more, from the time the appraisal is ordered until the lender receives it. Once received, the appraisal has to go through an approval process, either with an underwriter or the lender’s appraisal review department. It is almost guaranteed that the report will need some type of correction. Appraisers are moving fast and can be overworked. They’re only human, they can make mistakes. However, today’s exacting mortgage process requires that all documents be absolutely perfect, to market specifications, prior to closing.

Getting corrections on an appraisal report can take several days. Appraisers are on the road daily and often spend their evenings at the computer, completing reports, or revising and correcting old ones. It can take time to connect with them to discuss the necessary changes to the report and to get the corrected report back.
The appraisal industry seems to be in crisis. Today there are fewer and fewer appraisers in the industry to meet the demands of this aggressive market. In the State of North Dakota alone, there are only 17 licensed appraisers. Thus in many areas of our country, appraisers are demanding $1000 to $2000 for a report, not including rush fees.

Think about this: in MA it takes at least 21 days to obtain an appraisal report, 2-5 days for approval, or revisions and final approval, then the loan needs to be clear to close prior to the closing date to meet the requirements of TRID regulations.
This situation makes 30-day closings near impossible, unless the stars align for all parties. The process might be easier for everyone if contracts were written with an, “On-or-Before,” closing date of 40 days out. This way, when there is a one-to-two-day minor delay in a closing, the need for extensions and back-and-forth goes away. The buyer and seller remain protected by the mortgage contingency and deposit check.

The knowledge that all are prepared to extend the closing date by a few days, due to unforeseen minor delays from third parties, helps all of those affected by the home buying process to sleep a little easier.

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Back to School, Back to Life

The dog days of summer are beginning to fade and fall is just around the corner. Our kids are headed back to school and the leisurely pace of summer is quickly becoming just a memory. We find ourselves shifting into high gear to get everything done. It occurred to me that this is quite a paradigm shift that we all experience this time of year. That being said, why do we make resolutions for New Years? Do our lives really change that drastically from December 31st to January 1st? Why not take advantage of the natural momentum that fall brings to make some real and lasting changes in our personal and professional lives? Even if you don’t have children, we are coming up on the end of the fiscal year and all the work that goes in wrapping the year up.

At this point, most of us are already in list-making mode, organizing everyone and everything. This is a great time to add personal goals to this list. You are rested and renewed from the summer and ready to charge ahead. Whether it be fitness goals, self-improvement and further learning, this is a great time to take stock of your goals and plans for accomplishing them.

“Renewal requires opening yourself up to new ways of thinking and feeling.” – Deborah Day, BE HAPPY NOW!

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Wintrust Mortgage announces plans for continued Northeast expansion

In two years, Wintrust Mortgage grew its New England location by 80 percent and has announced plans to continue expansion across the Northeast region. In addition to its Needham headquarters, Wintrust Mortgage recently opened a new office in Worcester and will be opening soon in North Attleboro, Massachusetts.

The company also announced a presence in New York with the addition of an experienced team in the Rochester area and the opening of an office in Saratoga. Area Manager Donald Tilkins, NMLS# 42052—an experienced mortgage leader who has had success growing mortgage sales teams—will manage the New York region.

“We are excited about the expansion of our Needham presence,” said Wintrust Mortgage Regional Vice President Amy Tierce. “It’s been amazing to oversee the build out of the New York offices and finish up the renovation details in North Attleboro and Worcester.”

Tilkins, who has worked in the banking industry for more than 15 years, will also be responsible for growing a strong presence in the region as the primary recruiter for Wintrust Mortgage’s Saratoga location. The group brought on William Reese, NMLS# 595580, who has 25 years of banking industry experience, as branch manager of the Rochester office. Wintrust Mortgage’s increased sales have also pushed the company to add additional operational support with recent hires in underwriting, processing and the additions of two loan originator assistants.

“We will continue with the growth strategy of hiring tremendous origination talent, supporting them more than any other company and building around them,” Tierce continued. “There is a lot that goes into an expansion, but we’re excited to say that we now cover the Northeast region versus the New England region.”

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