American Security Mortgage

Home Lending Done Right!

When the nation found itself in a mortgage nightmare after 2008, American Security Mortgage Corp. held on tight and persevered. It might have been the Charlotte-based firm’s sense of attitude and excellence. It might have been the ethics and strong banking reputations of both founders Jim Abbot and Phil Mahoney. Or, it might have been the free hugs.

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Home Lending Done Right!!!

June 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment

Important Numbers

June 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

How much can I afford?

How much mortgage money can I qualify to borrow?

This is typically the number one question mortgage professionals are asked by new clients.piggy-bank

Of critical importance when considering mortgage financing: There is sometimes a difference between what a client ***can*** borrow and what they ***should*** borrow.

In other words, what makes for a comfortable long-term mortgage payment?

The Quick Answer:

If we’re simply considering the financial math, lenders will calculate your Debt-to-Income Ratio and generally allow for 28-31% of your gross income to be used for the new house payment with up to 43% of your gross income to be used for all consumer related debts combined.

Sample Mortgage Scenario:

Let’s use a gross monthly income of $3000 and a qualifying factor of 30% Debt-to-Income Ratio:

$3000 multiplied by .3 (30%) = $900 max monthly mortgage payment

This means that your mortgage payment (Principal, Interest, Taxes, Hazard Insurance) cannot exceed $900 a month.

“Ballparking” a Qualifying Loan Amount:

Simple step: We use a safe average of $7 per month in payment for every $1000 in purchase price so…

Step 1) $900 a month divided by $7 = $128.50

Step 2) $128.50 multiplied by 1000 = $128,500 loan amount.

Remember, these are average ratios and guidelines set by most lenders for common mortgage programs.

Keep in mind, while most consumer debts are listed on a credit report, there are some additional monthly liabilities that may contribute to the overall qualifying percentages as well.

Regardless of how your personal income and credit scenarios factor in, it is important to consider your overall budget when trying to determine how much of a mortgage you should qualify for.

Other items to consider in your monthly budget:

1. Confirm all debts are taken into account
2. Any private notes or family loans
3. Short-term expenses – medical, auto repairs, travel, emergencies
4. Plan on additional expenses for the home such as water, electric, maintenance, etc…
5. Keep a cushion for savings and financial planning


Related Articles – Mortgage Approval Process:


May 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

Mortgage Loan Application Process

What Happens After You Apply For A Mortgage?

Scientists who study and measure human behavior find that buying a home is one of the most stressful experiences of our lives. Contributing significantly to this anxiety is waiting for the mortgage to be approved. Much of the homebuyers’ unease results from not knowing what is going on. You know credit checks and verifications of employment are taking place-but what makes the difference between getting or not getting that loan, and how long does it take? This page can dispel at least some of that anxiety by detailing the steps the lender takes in making the loan decision-process called “underwriting.”

Are You a Good Risk?

Just as wise stock market investors carefully research the companies in which they plan to buy stock, careful mortgage lenders investigate the financial background of each loan applicant. In lending the prospective homebuyer the money to buy the home, the lender assumes a long-term risk. The assumption is that the borrower is going to eventually repay the loan and in the meantime make the loan payments on time.

Once all the information is collected and eligibility is established, the lender decides whether to extend the homebuyer credit. In other words, lenders analyze the risk of lending (making the investment), and match it to an appropriate interest rate and loan term.

There are no established, industry-wide standards for underwriting, though most lenders follow standards set by government-related agencies, private mortgage insurers, private mortgage investors or institutional investors. The vast majority of mortgage lenders attempt to approve a loan application if at all prudently possible, but to approve a loan that will become delinquent serves no one’s best interest. The burden falls on the lender to establish that an applicant is qualified.

The Initial Interview

The process usually begins with an interview where the prospective borrowers and a representative of the lender sit down to discuss the potential loan. Increasingly, however, lenders are not requiring a face-to-face meeting and accept a completed application by mail. Many lenders today will even qualify you for a loan before you begin to shop for a home. Many lenders advertise this service in the local newspaper, but any lender can provide it. Knowing approximately how much money you are qualified to borrow can save you time and prevent disappointment when you are looking at houses.

When going to see a lender for an initial interview, you should take:

  • Purchase contract for the house if you have one.
  • Certificate of Eligibility from the Veterans Administration (VA) if you want a VA loan. (Note: If you do not have one, the lender will obtain the information for you from your service records.
  • Bank account numbers and the address of your bank branch. This will save the lender time in checking your credit.
  • Credit card bills for the past several billing periods.
  • Pay stubs, W2 forms or other proof of employment and salary.
  • If you are self-employed, you should be able to present balance sheets, tax returns and other information about your business.

The important document that gets the whole process rolling is the loan application. It asks in-depth questions concerning you, your income, assets and liabilities, your credit, and your legal history, as well as a description of the property you wish to buy. The lender will verify the information you provide on the application before making the decision whether to extend the loan.

Applicants usually will know after the initial interview if they are qualified for the type and size of loan they want. Lenders try to let the borrower know as quickly as possible if they really are not qualified for the size of loan that they request.

Consumer Safeguards

The initial interview sets in motion some important consumer safeguards. The Truth-in-Lending disclosure requirements provide the applicant with an estimated yearly cost for the loan – the Annual Percentage Rate (APR). The other important disclosure that follows from the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), a federal law. This requires lenders to provide homebuyers with information on known and estimated closing costs.

The initial interview also starts a clock that will allow applicants to know whether or not they have been approved in about 30 to 60 days from the submission of a completed application. If the loan is denied, the lender must disclose the specific reason (s) for the rejection.

Is Your Income Sufficient?

Following the initial interview, or loan application, the first step the lender takes is to verify your employment or income. This is done by mailing employment and income forms to current and past employers, and it will help the lender determine how much debt you can successfully take on.

Income Requirements

A general rule is that you can qualify for a loan of up to twice the family’s income (i.e. a family with income of $30,000 a year usually can qualify for a mortgage of up to $60,000). Often, the amount you earn may not be as important as how you earn it. Bonuses and commissions can vary greatly from year to year, and lenders are reluctant to depend on them if they make up a large percentage of your income. There are similar problems when a large portion of your salary is based on overtime pay, and you rely on it to qualify for the loan. In the case of bonuses and commissions, the lender will want to verify your bonus and commission status back two or three years to get a better idea of what you earn from those sources on average. In the case of overtime, the lender will establish whether the work is expected to continue and whether or not the amount of overtime income is reasonable for the extra work. After establishing these points, the mortgage lender will make a decision as to how much to allow for these additional sources of income.

If you are self-employed, you should plan on producing a balance sheet, profit and loss statements and copies of your federal income tax returns for the past two or three years. Tax returns may also be required to verify other income claims, such as when income from securities is a major source for mortgage payments.

Income/Expense Standards

Lenders use a set of general standards (income/expense ratios which show how much income is used for various expenses) to test the application for qualification. These standards are based on what experience shows a homeowner can spend to own the home and also take care of other long-term financial obligations, though lenders use their own discretion in making the final decision.

Lenders generally say that housing expenses (including mortgage payments, insurance, taxes and special assessments) should not exceed 25 percent to 28 percent of the homeowner’s gross monthly income. For Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, this figure is not to exceed 29 percent of the homebuyer’s gross monthly income. With loans guaranteed by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), lenders measure prospective homebuyers with Residual Income, or the monthly income minus expenses. The remainder is then measured against geographical and family size data to qualify the borrower. Your lender will work out these figures for you when you sit down to discuss the mortgage you want.


Lenders usually define long-term debt as monthly expenses extending more than 10 months into the future. These expenses should not exceed 33 percent to 36 percent of the homeowner’s gross monthly income. FHA-insured mortgage lenders define long-term debt as monthly expenses extending 12 months or more into the future, and look for these expenses plus housing expenses not to exceed 41 percent of the homeowner’s gross monthly income.

Is Your Credit Good?

Before extending credit, lenders will want to examine the risk of not getting the money back. To do this lenders will look at four crucial aspects of your credit history when you apply for a mortgage:

  • History of past credit – what were the size and terms of past loans?
  • Type of Credit – have you obtained real estate, auto, personal or other installment loans in the past?
  • Attitude toward credit – are active accounts current , and is there any recent bankruptcy or judgment?
  • Lapses in employment or debt repayment – how many unexplained lapses are there, and for how long?

From the information uncovered by these four questions, lenders can develop a fair idea of just how you will handle your responsibilities once you have signed the contract for repaying the loan. However, lenders cannot examine everything when putting together a credit history. They have two extremely important limitations on credit information gathering.

Credit Information Safeguards

The first limitation is the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which was designed to ensure fair and accurate consumer credit reporting. The Fair Credit Reporting Act stipulates that lenders must certify the purpose for which the information is sought and use it for no other purpose. The Act also prohibits reports based on subjective information from neighbors and others concerning character, general reputation and other personal aspects. Certain other credit information, such as bankruptcy more than seven years before, is also prohibited unless the principal involved in the action was $50,000 or more.

The second consumer safeguard limiting the credit information lenders can use to make a mortgage decision is the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). ECOA prohibits discrimination in lending based on race, color, national origin, sex, marital status, age (provided the applicant may legally contract), and the fact that all or part of the applicant’s income comes from a public assistance program.

Lender’s are also prohibited by law from asking:

- questions concerning the applicant’s spouse, unless

  • the spouse will be contractually liable,
  • the spouse’s income will be used to qualify,
  • the applicants live in a community property state, or
  • the applicant will use child support, alimony or separate maintenance payments from a spouse or former spouse to qualify.
  • - questions concerning future parenting plans (although the lender may ask the ages and current number of children the applicant has).

    Can You Make The Down Payment?

    Lenders expect homebuyers to have enough money available to make the down payment of between 10 and 20 percent of the asking price for the house-though FHA and VA loans require smaller down payment (0 to 5 percent) and to pay their share of the closing costs (3 percent to 6 percent of the loan amount). If, however, you cannot come up with a 20 percent down payment, a lender can make you a loan for as little as 5 percent down. He will, however, require you to carry private mortgage insurance for conventional (not FHA or VA loans), for which you will pay a premium for the first year and an additional monthly fee in subsequent years.

    Sources on which prospective homebuyers may draw for the down payment and the closing costs include savings, stocks/bonds, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), pension funds, real state holdings, life insurance policies, mutual funds or employee savings plans.

    Homebuyers may also rely on another source of funding for the down payment-a gift, or money given by a parent or other relative that need not be repaid. a person may give another person up to $10,000 per year without either party being taxed. A married couple, therefore, could give a child or spouse as much as $40,000 for a down payment tax-free. Remember, however, that if you use gift money for a down payment, you will need to present a letter so stating and signed by both the giver(s) and the receiver( s) to your lender.

    Mortgage lenders send a form to the homebuyer’s savings institution(s) to verify the amount available for purchasing the house, as well as the amount of outstanding loans with that institution.

    Is The House You Are Buying Worth The Price?

    Mortgage lenders also examine the real estate being purchased to make sure that, in case of foreclosure, the lender has a salable property. The property’s acceptability is established by an independent appraisal.

    The appraiser looks not only at what the home is worth today, but how the neighborhood’s dynamics will affect the property value in the future. The three main points the appraiser checks are:

    • Physical security of the property: age, structural soundness, landscaping, etc.
    • Location: the kind of neighborhood, surrounding houses, access to transportation, commercial development nearby, etc.
    • Local government’s plans for the area: how zoning and taxes will affect the property in the years to come.

    Do I Get The Loan?

    Your lender has made all the checks. Your income, credit, assets, property and all necessary documentation have been scrutinized. Now comes the big decision.

    If the lender’s decision is to extend the credit, you will be notified, usually through a commitment letter. The mortgage lender can approve the homebuyer for the entire amount asked for, or a lesser amount based on the borrower’s qualifications. The commitment terms relating to interest rate and/or discount points may be firm at the time of commitment or conditioned on the market rate at the time of closing. If the decision is not to extend the credit, the lender has 30 days from the acceptance of the completed application to notify the prospective homebuyer. This notification must also include the reason(s) for the rejection.

    If the loan is eligible for government insurance or guaranty, written agreements stating so are issued. These can be either an FHA or Firm Commitment or VA Certificate of Commitment. Conventional loans (not FHA or VA) receive an application for private mortgage insurance if the down payment is less than 20 percent of the purchase price.

    By now you should feel a bit more at ease about what happens after you apply for a mortgage. If you have a good credit rating, it will speak for itself. Also, it is up to the lender to prevent homebuyers from over-extending themselves to the point of losing their homes. Prudent underwriters should prevent this from occurring.

    Certainly there will always be some anxiety associated with applying for a mortgage, but if you understand the process, waiting for approval will be far less worrisome.

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    May 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

    Loan Application Checklist

    This is a list of documents most lenders will require in order to process your mortgage application.

    Verification of income

    • Earnings statements: W-2 forms, recent pay stubs and tax returns for the past two years;
    • If you are self-employed: profit and loss statements and tax returns for current year and previous two years;
    • Additional income: social security, overtime bonus, commission, interest income, veteran’s benefits and so on.

    Verification of your assets

    • List of bank account numbers, the address of your bank branch, checking and savings account statements for the previous 2-3 months;
    • List of savings bonds, stocks or investments and their approximate market values;
    • Copies of titles to any motor vehicles that are paid in full.

    Information about the purchase

    • Copy of the ratified purchase contract;
    • If you made a deposit to the seller to show that you are serious about buying the house, bring a copy of canceled deposit check on house.

    Your debts

    • Credit card bills for the past few billing periods;
    • Other consumer debt such as car loans, furniture loans, student loans and other personal and cosigned installment loans with creditor addresses and phone numbers;
    • Evidence of mortgage and/or rental payments;
    • Copies of alimony or child support.

    If you have no established credit history, supply the lender with canceled checks for rent, utilities and other recurring obligations to show payment history and amount of revolving debt.

    Lenders may also ask you about the origin of your downpayment. If money for downpayment is a gift from a relative, bring to the interview a copy of gift letter and copy of gift check. The gift letter states that the money will not have to be repaid.

    Having these items on hand when you visit the lender will help speed up the application process.

    Keep in mind that different lenders may have slightly different information requirements, so ask your lender what to bring to your initial loan interview.


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    May 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

    5 Mortgage Facts You (Really, Seriously) Need to Know


    by Dan CaplingerMay 17th 2013 5:00AM

    One reason why the housing bust was so severe was that millions of homeowners got blindsided by the terms of their own mortgage loans. Yet years after the financial crisis, potential buyers still don’t know everything they should about financing a home purchase — even the most basic things.

    Zillow recently surveyed prospective and current homeowners about their mortgage expertise, and results from the study reveal that many homebuyers don’t know the answers to simple questions about mortgages.

    To help fill in the gaps in their knowledge, let’s look at five important facts you really need to know about your mortgage.

    Fact 1: APR means “annual percentage rate” and measures mortgage costs.

    The cost of mortgage loans is more complicated than you might think, as you can’t just consider the stated mortgage rate. In addition to interest, you also have to take upfront origination fees, closing costs, and any mortgage points you pay into account in order to get a full sense of the total cost of your loan. The APR makes allowances for all those costs, giving you a better gauge against which to make comparisons between different lenders. Often, you’ll find that lenders that offer lower rates actually end up charging a higher APR once you add in the fees.

    Fact 2: Mortgage rates change rapidly.

    Many homeowners mistakenly believe that mortgage rates are stable. Yet the same way that stocks, bonds, and other financial investments rise and fall throughout the day, mortgage rates are subject to the same market forces. As a result, even a quote you receive earlier on the same day might be out of date if you try to lock in later in the afternoon. That hasn’t been a huge problem lately, with rates near all-time lows, but in more challenging interest rate environments, it’s essential to understand the value of getting a mortgage rate locked in quickly.

    Fact 3: Different lenders charge different rates and fees.

    Mortgages have gotten a lot of attention from federal regulators lately, with efforts to prevent abuses and standardize procedures for getting mortgage loans. But there aren’t any regulations that require different lenders to offer the same rates on mortgages. On top of that, lenders are free to charge different amounts in fees for related services like appraisals, title insurance, and credit checks. Comparing notes with different lenders will help you make sure you’re paying as little as possible for those fees while getting the best rate you can find.

    Fact 4: Refinancing may be possible even if you’re underwater on your mortgage.

    During the financial crisis, homeowners who suddenly found themselves owing more money on their mortgages than their homes were worth found it nearly impossible to take advantage of low interest rates to refinance their mortgages. But with federal government assistance through the Home Affordable Refinance Program or the FHA Streamline Refinance program, many homeowners have successfully refinanced their existing mortgages despite being underwater on their loans. Different rules apply depending on whether your loan is backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Federal Housing Administration. But if you haven’t refinanced lately, it’s still worth looking to see if you qualify.

    Fact 5: Low-down-payment loans are still available.

    Ideally, putting 20 percent toward a down payment when you get a mortgage loan will give you immediate equity in your new home. But most people struggle to save up even a fraction of that amount. Under certain loan programs offered by federal agencies like the Federal Housing Administration, the Veteran’s Administration, and the Department of Agriculture, you may be able to get financing with little or no money down. FHA loans in particular have become extremely popular recently, with terms that make 3.5 percent down payments possible.

    May 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

    Jacksonville top NC City to raise kids


                                                                Jacksonville top N.C. city to raise kids

    JACKSONVILLE – Business Week Magazine named Jacksonville the best city in North Carolina to raise children.

    •  Low crime rates and quality schools were the magazine’s top-two criteria. The magazine also used criteria like recreation opportunities and affordability.

      The ranking doesn’t surprise Mayor Sammy Phillips.

      “Jacksonville has come a long way,” he said. “We’ve tried to plan our growth in such a way that it doesn’t impact our quality of life.”

      The magazine notes the city’s rise from farm town to commercial hub. City officials say the Marine Corps has played a huge role in that growth and development. It’s also kept the crime rate low.

       “They are very disciplined, and they are very self-controlled and well behaved. And they project that very positive image,” Phillips said.

      The Marine Corps is what brought both Kasi Flores and Chelsea John to Jacksonville. They say they’re excited to raise their young children in the city.

      “I like the fact that there’s lots of people that have children here. So its not hard to find little friends for them to go and play with.”

      City officials hope the city’s positive attributes will keep them here.

      Greenville and Wilmington were North Carolina’s runners up. Mount Prospect, Ill., a Chicago suburb, was named best place in the nation to raise children.


    April 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

    Create a “Must Have” Checklist Before You Start, To Make the Search Easier.

    Home Buying Simplified

    April 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

    It’s Packing Time

    It's Packing Time

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    Protect Your Investment With This Home Maintenance checklist


    April 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment

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