Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Is Today's Mortgage Rate?

When you ask a mortgage professional what his rate is, you must first know if you are rate shopping or evaluating a professional. Borrowers shopping for the lowest rate are almost always guaranteed to pay more for their loan - either in rate, fees, or both. Borrowers who are evaluating what mortgage professional they want to work with are much more likely to get the best loan available for their needs and circumstances. That is, if they understand how to make their evaluation.

A lender who blindly quotes a rate, who responds immediately to your rate question with "4.75%" or "I can get you 4.x", is being dishonest at worst & disingenuous at best. Mortgage rates are not like produce prices, posted in the grocery store for all to see and available to all buyers. Many factors go into getting the best mortgage for you.

Some factors are based on your circumstances:
  1. Your credit score
  2. Your down payment (or loan-to-value for refinances)
  3. The amount of your loan
  4. Are you ready to lock your rate now?
  5. How long before you need to close?
  6. Are you a teacher, veteran, policeman, fireman, first time home buyer, etc?
Other factors are based on your needs:
  1. How long do you plan on living in this home?
  2. Do you plan on refinancing in the future?
  3. Do you prefer a lower payment or lower costs?
  4. What is your tolerance for risk?
Only an open, honest conversation with a mortgage professional will illustrate how each of these factors influence the mortgage rate that is available on the best loan for you.

If you are in the market for a home now and would like to discuss your situation or if you have a home and would like to see if you can save by taking advantage of rates near historic lows, contact me. There is no obligation. You owe it to yourself to see what a proper mortgage interview can do for you.

Tim Epps

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tax Credit Deadline Looms for Sellers, Too

Home sellers in Oklahoma need to pay attention to the calendar just as much as home buyers, especially if they are in the first time home buyers' price ranges. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 enhanced the tax credit available to first time homebuyers but also provided for expiration of the credit if the purchaser does not close and possess the home on or before November 30.

This is important a home seller because a very large pool of buyers for their home could dry up if a purchase contract is not entered into soon. Fewer buyers that are available for you = Less demand = Lower price.

As of the start of the current Congressional recess, there were no less than 5 bills or resolutions in the US House and the US Senate seeking to extend, and possibly expand, the First Time Home Buyer tax credit. Jay Thompson of Thompson's Realty in Phoenix has a good synopsis on his blog. If one of these proposals survives (like Jay, I think one will), we can proceed past the current deadline. However, as a first time buyer or as a seller to one, do you want to risk this on what Congress might do? Or would you rather act on what we know right now.

The tax credit alone should not be the sole reason for a person to buy a home nor for one to sell their home to a first time buyer. But, if it is a part of your decision making process, you should act soon. There will be a crush of loans to go through underwriting and to close at the title company. Appraisers and inspectors will be booking up. And, of course, if anything comes up that can delay your deal past November 30, the credit is gone (as of now). So sellers, make your deal attractive now or you could be left holding your keys.

If you have questions about how a financing strategy can help you sell your home, call me.

Tim Epps

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Less Than 3 Months Left to Claim Up to $8000 from Your Rich Uncle

Have you been looking for a home? Thinking about it? It is your first home (or have you not owned a home in 3 years)?

STOP! Stop looking & considering. Start FINDING one.

If you are a first time homebuyer, you must close on the purchase of your first home by the end of November* to earn a tax credit of up to $8000. Note that this is a CREDIT not a deduction. If you are expecting a refund, it will increase your refund by the amount of your credit. If you will owe taxes on your 1040, your taxes will be reduced by the amount of the credit and you will receive a refund if due. Before I continue, as with any tax advice here or from any source that is not your trusted professional, you should review this with your trusted professional to apply to your situation.

First time home buyers (and those that have not owned a home in the last 3 years) can claim a tax credit of 10% of the purchase price of their primary residence. The maximum credit is $8000 and there are income limitations on who can claim.

MORE EXTRA GOOD NEWS - If you buy your home in time to claim this credit, you can amend your 2008 tax return even though your purchase may be in 2009! This will get the money in your hands sooner!

*So, why less than 3 months left if the clock stops at the end of November? Because you must CLOSE your purchase by then. It generally takes 30 days from offer to close (although we can perform faster in many cases).

Let me know if you have any questions that I can help with.

Tim Epps

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

$8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit for FHA Down Payment? NO (and maybe)

Much has been written and Tweeted about the US Department of Housing and Urban Development allowing the use of the $8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit as down payment on a new home. First, HUD said yes. Then, HUD said no. Now, HUD says maybe. Mortgagee Letter 09-15 which was released and then rescinded has now been revised & re-released. Despite fairly clear language in ML 09-15 (below - emphasis mine) there are still many that mis-understand and mis-report.
  • Pursuant to 12 U.S.C. 1709(b)(9), the homebuyer’s downpayment required for eligibility for FHA insurance may not consist of any funds (including funds derived from a sale of the homebuyer tax credit) provided by the mortgagee, the seller, or any other person or entity that financially benefits from the transaction (or by any third party or entity that is reimbursed, directly or indirectly, by the financially benefiting person or entity). Accordingly, the proceeds of the sale of the tax credit to FHA approved mortgagees, the seller, or any other person or entity that financially benefits from the transaction (or any third party or entity that is reimbursed, directly or indirectly, by the financing benefiting person or entity), may not be used to meet the 3.5% minimum downpayment, but may be used as additional downpayment, buying down of interest rate, or other closing costs.

IF a buyer is eligible for the credit, and IF there is a lender (or agency) available to do so, buyers can use their tax credit as collateral on an additional loan over and above their FHA mortgage to pay some of their closing costs, pre-paids, points for lowering rate, or down payment IF they are putting down the minimum required 3.5% down payment without those funds. Bottom Line - you MUST still have the 3.5% down payment from funds outside of the tax credit.

Your 3.5% down payment can come from savings, gift from relative or employer, your 401k/IRA, etc. Any use of the tax credit at the time of closing can go toward down payment over the 3.5% minimum ONLY.

The use of the tax credit at closing is as collateral on a loan to help you with costs. However, just because HUD has allowed this on FHA loans does not mean that you will be able to find a lender or agency in your area that will assist with this. As of now, there are precious few opportunities to accomplish this. No one in Oklahoma has announced their participation to date. Also, the major national lenders have yet to release their guidelines for underwriting FHA loans with these secondary liens included.

How then can a First Time Homebuyer use this credit to their advantage? There are many ways - savings, emergency fund, home repairs/renovations, etc. For most buyers, the last resort should be using it in getting an additional loan to help with closing.

Speak to a Mortgage Professional about your specific conditions, needs and goals. Have a conversation - do not be sold. Get the RIGHT loan for YOU.

Tim Epps

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Broken News! Call a Mortgage Professional to Discuss Your Down Payment Options

Yesterday, Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced at the morning session of a meeting of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) that HUD intended to allow the use of the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit as collateral on a bridge loan to assist borrowers with the 3.5% down payment required for an FHA loan and any closing costs. This was also posted on HUD's website Monday night in Mortgagee Letter 09-15. That posting has since been rescinded and pulled.

Why was this pulled? Because HUD had not fully prepared for this. Thank goodness they did not allow you to print coupons for it. Think if this had been announced on Oprah, and she had said to go to Well, this has happened to an extent.

Many Realtors, home builders, (and even some Mortgage Professionals) who have an active blog or Twitter account, have been shouting from their virtual rooftops that this is now available to First Time Home Buyers. IT IS NOT!!!!! It never was! I waited to post or tweet about this because it is too easy to get expectations built too high without the facts to support them. Secretary Donovan delivered the announcement in a prepared statement so it cannot be said that it was an idle comment by the Secretary. And, the Mortgagee Letter 09-15 was posted for awhile on the HUD website exhibiting that they had full intention of carrying this out. However, many things were not yet in place to allow this to happen at this time. Who would underwrite and fund the bridge loans? Will the IRS allow assignment of the tax credit to a third party?

The moral of this story? Be wary of "Breaking News" in real estate. Seek advice on property matters from your Realtor. A proper Mortgage Professional will always refer you to your Real Estate Professional for advice on selection, pricing, negotiation, etc. But, at the risk of upsetting my Realtor friends, partners and future partners, please seek advice on real estate financing from your Mortgage Professional. There is a vast array of programs and terms to suit prospective homeowners. These programs and guidelines change every day. Rate sheets have a life span of less than 6 hours in today's market. There are many down payment options from no-down and low-down to all you care to put down. This never-even-official program was not the only way to go. Allow your Mortgage Professional to prepare for you the best package of rate and term to meet your situation and desires. Allow your Realtor to find you the best home at the best price to you meet your situation and desires.

My role is to work as a teammate in the purchase of your home. I may post here about home values in our market. I do so, not as an appraiser or Realtor, but as an active participant in the real estate profession and to help Oklahomans understand that much of the national news about home values does not affect us here. National news affects lending guidelines for local buyers but not local values. I will NOT advise a client on the proper price to pay for a home (or to sell it for). I WILL advise them on the amount they can be approved for and how to pay for it. I will NOT advise a client on where to buy a home. I WILL advise them on what loan programs may be available in certain areas. Additionally, although I am knowledgeable on the First Time Home Buyer tax credit and other tax advantages of home ownership, I will NOT attempt to replace their current trusted tax professional or give specific advice on my clients' situation. I WILL link to IRS Form 5405 for reference and convenience.

If I can help you (buyers, Realtors, sellers - you will need approval for a new home), please let me know. It would be my pleasure to serve you with sound advice and not hype.

Tim Epps

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Has your mortgage professional talked to you about the HVCC?

This is not about your HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning). This is about the HVCC which stands for the Home Valuation Code of Conduct. You can do your own search for its hsitory and draw your own conclusions about its need. But the reality is that the HVCC takes effect on Friday, May 1st, 2009 and it will have an effect on your next mortgage. This Code is currently only directly related to loans originated by mortgage brokers and to conventional loans - those delivered to Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac - originated mortgage bankers. FHA, VA, USDA and some other programs are not required to comply, but many lenders will choose to do so for sake of consistency.

The Home Valuation Code of Conduct essentially puts a wall between mortgage lenders and appraisers so that there can be no influencing of appraisers to manufacture false values. This is well intended and may seem like a small, behind the scenes change. But, in practice the HVCC will make your loan take longer to obtain.

Do not make the mistake of not asking your mortgage lender about the HVCC and how it will effect you.

Mortgage brokers are the ones most impacted since they are seen as having no "skin in the game". Mortgage bankers fund the loans in their own name and have some risk. Mortgage brokers will no longer be able to engage appraisers directly at all. If the broker needs to take your loan to another funder, he will have to order a new appraisal from a different appraisal management company. This will cost you more money. (Note: This post is not intended to enflame or start a debate on the merits of working with a mortgage banker vs. a mortgage broker. This is only intended to inform of the facts of how the HVCC impacts borrowers.)

What is the direct impact to Oklahoma consumers and Realtors who are not getting an FHA/VA,USDA loan OR who are working with mortgage brokers?
  • It means that you can’t expect an appraisal to be done in 3 days any more if you are if you are working with a mortgage broker.
  • It means that you can’t get an appraisal done with one lender and take it to another lender if you are working with a mortgage broker.
  • It means that your mortgage broker no longer has “control” over which appraiser and/or the quality of the appraisers. That control has probably all been relegated by an appraisal management company.
  • It means that your either your appraisal will cost more or the appraiser will make less if it is ordered through an appraisal management company.
  • It means that it’s important to work with a mortgage banker who is on top of things and plans ahead - such as ...
Tim Epps
Fairway Independent Mortgage

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

First-Time Homebuyer Seminar - How to get $8000 to buy the home you want!

You will hear about options like: 

  •       $8,000.00 tax credits & more
  •       Lowest interest rates in 40 years
  •       Bank owned homes
  •       How to find and get the best deal
  •       Available homes in your price range
  •       Meet with industry professionals (Mortgage Lender, Realtor, Insurance Agent) that can show you how to get started
  •       Q & A session to answer all your questions
  •       No obligation necessary
  •       Convenient to all at TCC Southeast campus

Event will be held Saturday, April 25, 2009 from 10AM to Noon.

You will be out in time to attend open houses and find your new home!

Call or e-mail TODAY to register – Seating IS limited!

918-528-4010 or

Brought to you by:

Tim Epps - Fairway Independent Mortgage - 918-528-4010

Dean Dretske - Keller Williams Realty - 918-340-8303

John Buchanan - Country Financial - 918-481-6900

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mortgage Help Available For Tulsa Homeowners

Mortgage Help Available For Tulsa Homeowners

Posted: March 5, 2009 04:13 PM

Updated: March 6, 2009 07:39 AM

Mortgage Help Available For Tulsa Homeowners

By Scott Thompson and Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- President Obama's $75 billion mortgage relief plan is aimed to help close to 9 million homeowners refinance their mortgages.

Real estate Web site says 38 percent of homeowners in Tulsa and Creek counties are eligible for part of the plan.

But a local mortgage banker says it may not be the best option for area homeowners.

The plan includes two programs and is intended to help one in every nine U.S. homeowners.

One program is aimed to help homeowners with a loan through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac refinance their loans to lower or fixed interest rates.

The other program allows for the loan to be modified and has strict qualifications: you must have signed your mortgage before Jan. 1; you must be the owner and live in the home; you can't owe more than $729,750 on the loan; you must be able to prove that you can't pay the mortgage because of a financial hardship, like a reduced income or medical problems; and your monthly payment must be more than 31 percent of your monthly income.

Tell us your story. Click here if you plan to use the President's plan to refinance your home.

Not everyone thinks the plan will make a difference.

"I am dubious as to how much it will be able to help even on a national basis," said Tim Epps, a mortgage banker with Fairway Mortgage.

Epps says Tulsa remains insulated from the national housing crisis.

"We've actually still had year over year growth over the last eight years ... moderate, small, but it's been responsible growth," he said.

The numbers back him up. says 5 percent of Tulsa mortgage holders are underwater, meaning they owe more than their home is worth.

The national average is 20 percent.

Epps says there are other options in the area. With interest rates dipping about 5 percent, he recommends homeowners contact their mortgage broker professional and ask for a simple refinance.

He says it may be easier than the government's new plan.

President Obama's mortgage relief plan is intended to help one in every nine U.S. homeowners.
President Obama's mortgage relief plan is intended to help one in every nine U.S. homeowners. says 5 percent of Tulsa mortgage holders are underwater. says 5 percent of Tulsa mortgage holders are underwater.
Tim Epps says the mortgage relief plan may not be the best option for area homeowners.
Tim Epps says the mortgage relief plan may not be the best option for area homeowners.
Tim Epps

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Black Swans, Pink Dolphins, & the Making Home Affordable Program for Oklahomans

Okay.  It is out. The Obama administration's plan to help homeowners that are underwater (owe more on their home than what it is worth). Will this plan help Tulsa homeowners?

The Tulsa market (as well as the whole state of Oklahoma) has enjoyed fairly stable appreciation of their home values over time. Most of what we get exposed to in the national press refers to the Case-Shiller Index which studies value change in the largest 10 and largest 20 markets in the entire USA. Unfortuneately, our local media often runs the national report each month without reporting the local data that is so important to our local market. While all mortgages are national (subject for a future post), all real estate is local. Even the data that is presented here from Zillow is for the Tulsa MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) as a whole. Individual communities (Jenks, Broken Arrow, Owasso, etc.) and even subdivisions will see some differences from the MSA data, but it provides a good basis for our market in comparison to the national values.

The chart below shows that home values have made responsible, steady growth in the Tulsa MSA over this decade. And, while median owner equity has fallen (partly because new buyers are putting smaller amounts down), the Tulsa, OK MSA is not experiencing the extent of negative owner equity being reported elsewhere in our country.

This graphic shows that there is one area of our market that reports over 10% of homeowners having negative equity, or underwater with their mortgage. As with the data above, we are well below the Case-Shiller numbers as well as the national averages.

So, how will Making Home Affordable plan help Tulsans and other Oklahomans with their mortgages? Fewer than most will be able to take advantage of this program. Given our market conditions we are the black swan or pink dolphin of the nation's real estate condition - a beautiful rarity.

Mortgage rates are still very low and most homeowners in our area can qualify for a great refinance without one of these new programs. If you have any questions about whether or not you could benefit from refinancing, call me for a no-obligation consultation.

Check back later for more details (they still are sketchy) on the program, including the Home Affordable Refinance Program, and what it may be able to do for you and your mortgage here in Tulsa, OK. If you can't wait, you can read the fact sheet.

Tim Epps

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The $8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Explained

NOW we can finally talk about it since President Obama has signed the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). After some fits and starts, higher credits approved and removed, etc., the final details were worked out to the betterment of First Time Home Buyers. The act is for buyers who purchase after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.

What are the major differences affecting Oklahomans?
  1. First Time Home Buyers (and those not owning a home in the past 3 years) will now get a tax credit of 10% of the purchase price of their home up to a maximum of $8000.
  2. NO REPAYMENT or recapture if home is maintained as your primary residence for 3 years.
This is great news for those in our market looking for their first home.

Now, go FIND YOUR HOME while rates are still great as well.

Call to discuss how this can help you with your purchase (or with the sale of your home to a first time home buyer). As always, also consult a tax advisor for your specific situation.

Tim Epps

Monday, February 16, 2009

WSJ - For Some, It's Finally Time to Dive Into Housing Market

From the Wall Street Journal – February 11, 2009. Page D1


For years, even as her friends bought huge houses in the expensive Phoenix market, Elizabeth Child remained a renter.

But in January, the airline customer-service agent and her boyfriend closed on their first home. The three-bedroom, two-bath house, complete with granite countertops and a pool, had been listed for $340,000 in late 2007, but the couple bought it for $220,500. "Six months ago I didn't think I would own a home," says Ms. Child, 27 years old. "And now I do. It's so perfect."

Mark Peterman for The Wall Street Journal

Elizabeth Child and William McGeary were able to buy their first home after prices in Phoenix dropped sharply.

The housing bust is creating a new group of winners: first-time home buyers. People who sat on the sidelines -- often watching wistfully as their friends became homeowners -- are suddenly in a position to grab some great deals. Indeed, first-time home buyers made up 41% of all buyers at the end of 2008, up from 36% in 2006, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors.

The new buyers are being lured in by home prices that are down about 25% from their peak levels in mid-2006, according to the S&P/Case-Schiller Index. In some markets, prices have dropped even further -- slumping around 40% in Phoenix, Miami and Las Vegas. Lower mortgage rates have also helped make real estate more affordable, and as houses languish on the market longer, more homeowners are willing to negotiate. With Congress considering plans to sweeten a tax credit for first-time home buyers, the picture could get even brighter.

"Buyers are now coming back into those hard-hit markets to take advantage," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors' association. "It's a buyer's market."

Related - Developments blog: Frequently asked questions on the home buyer tax credit

Ululani and Scott Larson looked for a house in the Seattle area several years ago, but held off from buying, deterred by the high prices. "I felt like we were missing out, because everyone knows it's the American dream to buy a home and build equity," Mrs. Larson says.

The couple was shocked to discover recently that they could afford a four-bedroom home in Federal Way, Wash. The assessed value of the home in January was $400,000, Mrs. Larson says. Their offer of $315,000, with a down payment of $15,000 was quickly accepted by the relocation company, which had had the property on the market for six months. "Honestly, I didn't think we'd get as nice of a house as we did," Mrs. Larson says.

Of course, would-be buyers need decent credit scores and the money for a decent down payment. Also, finding the right property can be a challenge for first-time buyers, who tend to be seeking less-expensive homes. The typical first-time buyer purchased a home costing $165,000 last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. Yet some of the best bargains right now are in luxury condos and sprawling single-family houses.

"The disproportionate McMansion inventory doesn't work," says Shari Olefson, a real-estate lawyer who works in southern Florida. "Even if you qualify for the loan, there are huge overhead costs to buying a larger home."

Still, real-estate agents and mortgage lenders are banking on first-time buyers to help stimulate the otherwise dreary housing market. Many are holding workshops and information sessions designed specifically for first-time buyers, addressing federal and state tax incentives for homeowners, local prices and ways to take advantage of low mortgage interest rates. Tim Epps, a mortgage adviser in Tulsa, Okla., runs rent-vs.-buying simulations for would-be buyers and recommends that other prospective buyers do the same long-term calculations.

Mr. Epps and many mortgage lenders recommend that buyers come up with as big a down payment as possible, even though Federal Housing Administration loans will allow some first-time buyers to enter the market with as little as 3% down. ( has more information about FHA loan programs designed for first-time buyers.)

"Even if [a home owner] loses some paper equity, in the long run, there are some tax benefits," says Mr. Epps, referring to the deduction for interest paid on mortgages and the credit for first-time home buyers.

Mark Peterman for The Wall Street Journal

Elizabeth Child bought a home once listed at $340,000 for $220,500.

The $7,500 tax credit for first-time buyers, which Congress passed last year, has had little effect on the market so far. Because the credit has to be repaid, buyers are viewing it as another loan, industry experts say. But the stimulus package that Congress is working on is likely to repeal the provision that requires buyers to pay the credit back and possibly enlarge the tax credit as well.

For many buyers, the biggest question is whether to hold out for even better conditions. Historically, recoveries in the housing market are slow, and most experts expect the prices to stay low for some time. That means people can take their time shopping for the right property, real-estate experts say.

John Stratton, an agricultural engineer in Lisle, Ill., was serious about buying last summer but held off from making a bid. Some of the money he planned to use for a down payment suffered losses from mutual-fund investments. He's also waiting for prices in his area to go down further. "I can do better investing in things other than real estate," he says. "Right now, I'm not diving in."

Patience can pay off. Jen and Drew Rocky spent over a year tracking their prey before the price was right. In the summer of 2006, they saw the four-bedroom, 2½-bathroom home of their dreams in Sherman, Conn. The asking price was $565,000, "completely out of our price range," Mrs. Rocky says.

But they didn't give up. The Rockys kept driving by the vacant house. They had online alerts to notify them of changes in the property's listings. They went to town hall to research the home's public records. As they suspected, the home was in foreclosure. "There were liens all over the place," Mrs. Rocky says.

They bought the home in December 2007 for $410,000. "I felt so vindicated," Mrs. Rocky says. "We got a good deal, but I'm sure there are even better deals out there."

Write to Mary Pilon at

Tim Epps




Saturday, February 7, 2009

5244 S Marion Ave, Tulsa - First-Time Homebuyers' Home-of-the-Week

[Click image to see larger]
Great Neighborhood - Quiet Street - Backyard Retreat
Only $125,000! (Previously listed for $132,500)
See below for financing options

This home offers much to all buyers. It has a bright, open living area and vaulted ceilings throughout. The spacious kitchen has a great tile floor and new built-in oven. Newer vinyl windows. New furnace and raised duct system.

SQ Feet:1,350
Garage:0 - See Below
Total Baths:2
Full Baths:1
3/4 Baths:0
Half Baths:1

Street Address:5244 S Marion AVENUE
TULSA, OK 74135
Community Name:Lou North Woodland Acres
Zip:74135 (TULSA)
School District:TULSA - SCH DIST (1)
Elementary School:Carnegie
Jr. High/Middle School:Nimitz
High School:Memorial

The photo here shows a carport, BUT construction started this week to convert that to a GARAGE!

Call Christine Baker of Coldwell Banker Select at 918-630-4381 to see this home today.

Call Tim Epps of Fairway Mortgage at 918-528-4010 to get financing, payment details, and pre-approval tailored to your situation, needs and goals.
Financing options include FHA, VA, or Conventional mortgages. With FHA, the down payment would be $4375 at the $125,000 list price and ... 
First-Time Homebuyers get their $7500 TAX CREDIT! 
Many more options available. 
Your total payment would be less than $1000/month!

Tim Epps

Thursday, January 29, 2009

First-Time Homebuyers to Get Tips from Industry Professionals

In case you missed last week's post, the Community Action Project of Tulsa County will hold a Homebuyer Education Seminar.

People who have signed up for the free program will receive orientation and a financial readiness assessment from a CAP counselor. Then, they attend this seminar to help guide them through the steps of a home purchase.

Kathryn Jones and Christine Baker of Coldwell Banker Select will teach those in attendance about how a successful home search works.

John Buchanan, Jr. of Country Financial will review what to look for in homeowners' insurance and how to shop properly.

I, Tim Epps of Fairway Mortgage, will talk with the audience about how to obtain the best loan available for their situation and how the mortgage market and process works.

Based on where they select a home, those that enroll and complete this program can be eligible for up to $3500 in down payment assistance from CAP.

With all of the constant changes in real estate, insurance and mortgages, this program can help all buyers get up to date. The adage that "all real estate is local" has never been more true. Values in Oklahoma have not seen the precipitous drops that the largest 10 and 20 markets have seen. Those markets reported in the Case-Schiller Index also saw precipitous rises in value while Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and the rest of the state saw our home values rise at a modest, sustainable rate.

Mortgage guidelines are updated mainly on what happens in the market as a whole, so we are not immune from what happens outside of Oklahoma. But money is still available. Good loans (with good rates and terms) are available for most borrowers.

If you think you may want to buy a home, first time or not, check in to the Community Action Project of Tulsa County's Homebuyer Education Program. It will prepare you for everything they don't show you on House Hunters or Property Virgins.

Tim Epps

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Help for First-Time Homebuyers (Repeat Homebuyers Will Learn Also)

Do you dream of owning a new home, but worry that you will not qualify for a mortgage?

Do you need downpayment and closing cost assistance?

Do you live in Oklahoma?

Hope has arrived! No, not the hope that was sworn in yesterday. This hope is brought to you by the various community action agencies in Oklahoma. I am writing today about the Tulsa area agency specifically, but similar programs are available throughout the state. See the Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies website for details on your local program.

The Community Action Project of Tulsa County provides a tremendous program to educate potential buyers on homeownership and how to prepare themselves for it.

Education consists of:

  • Housing Orientation - offered several times per month.
  • Financial Readiness Assessment - a housing counselor reviews your credit report, assists with discrepancies and develops a plan of action to build and/or repair your credit.
  • Homebuyer Education Seminar - covers budgeting, money management, finding the right loan, finding the right home, insuring your purchase, and the steps to take to ensure a smooth process.

This education can be invaluable to anyone in the market for a new home. How many of us did it exactly right the first time? Do you even remember all of the pitfalls and hurdles? How much has changed since then?

If you are a first-time homebuyer, you can get up to $3500 toward your down payment and/or closing costs! Simply complete the CAP program, purchase a home within CAP's service area, qualify for financing, and meet income guidelines. (Down payment assistance funds are subject to availability and the purchased property must be your primary residence.)

Coupled with the $7500 (maximum) tax credit you can get from the IRS, you can receive up to $11,000 toward your first home if you buy before June 30, 2009!

Call Shelli Davidson at the Community Action Project, 918-382-3240, for more information and scheduling. Classes can fill up fast (and funds for down payment assistance are limited), so call today to reserve your spot. [I understand that the speakers at the next session (January 31, 2009) are full of great information for Tulsa area first-time homebuyers!]

Have you been through this program? How did it help you? Please comment below.

Tim Epps

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Only 4 Months Left to Earn $7500 from Your Rich Uncle!

Have you been looking for a home? Thinking about it? It is your first home (or have you not owned a home in 3 years)?

STOP! Stop looking & considering. Start FINDING one.

If you are a first time homebuyer, you must close on the purchase of your first home by the end of June* to earn a $7500 tax credit. Note that this is a CREDIT not a deduction. If you are expecting a refund, it will increase your refund by the amount of your credit. If you will owe taxes on your 1040, your taxes will be reduced by the amount of the credit and you will receive a refund if due. Before I continue, as with any tax advice here or from any source that is not your trusted professional, you should review this with your trusted professional to apply to your situation.

First time home buyers (and those that have not owned a home in the last 3 years) can claim a tax credit of 10% of the purchase price of their primary residence. The maximum credit is $7500 and there are income limitations on who can claim.

EXTRA GOOD NEWS - Already buy your first home? Did you buy it after April 9, 2008? You can claim this credit also!

MORE EXTRA GOOD NEWS - If you buy your home in time to claim this credit, you can use the credit on your 2008 taxes even though your purchase may be in 2009! This will get the money in your hands sooner!

The catch? (Isn't there always one from Uncle Sam?) You have to pay this credit back - over 15 years. However, you don't have to start paying it back until 2 years after your claim year. The payback is done every year on your 1040, so you can adjust your withholding to take an extra $10/week if you think that may pose a problem when you file. If you sell your home before then and make a profit (above all costs to sell), you have to pay back the amount you still owe on your claim. There are other payback forgiveness provisions, but that again is where your trusted professional should step in to advise you. He needs to earn his money, too.

At worst case, this is a 15-year, interest-free loan. At best case, this can help you redecorate and set up your new home the way you want it!

If you have not yet begun working with a Realtor, let me know. I can refer you to one that will be invaluable in your search efforts and advise you properly on the selection of and offer for your new home.

*So, why only 4 months left if the clock stops at the end of June? Because you must CLOSE your purchase by then. It generally takes 30 days from offer to close (although we can perform faster in many cases).

Comment below or let me know if you have any questions that I can help with.

Tim Epps