Featured post

贷款 – 步骤简谈

首先恭喜你找到一位放心、省心、有责任心和专业能力强的loan officer (简称LO)给你做贷款(在美国有时得自我宣传,请别见怪)。贷款过程取决于情况需要30-60天,少有的情况会超过60天。贷款有不少步骤,这里简单介绍一下。如果不想了解也没关系,你的LO会一步一步引导你完成贷款全过程。注意给你打电话的人只有你的LO和最后约当面签字时间的人,lender不会打电话。

  • 1. 准备材料:LO会发材料准备清单到你的邮箱。材料都不难准备,如果觉得哪个材料不容易准备尽管告诉LO。这一步最快有人半小时搞定。正常的话,花1-2小时focus time应该可以准备好,慢的话可能要1-2天或更长
  • 2. 做loan file与锁定利率:你的LO会用你提供的资料,花时间做你的loan file,这个过程中要pull credit report,并且可能问额外的问题或要额外的材料。
    1. 做完loan file会提交给lender,之后如果利率不错即可锁定。一旦利率锁定,不能更改,利率涨跌都不受影响。锁定利率后不做,有时会有一点penalty
    2. 为提高体验和效率,LO会先垫付credit report fee,然后借款人paypal/zelle转给LO,这样不需要信用卡的信息(卡号地址),或者在closing时付
    3. 注意贷款期间最好不要开新的credit(e.g 开信用卡、买车等),避免大额资金转账,保持银行帐户clean和有足够余额
  • 3. 电子签字初始文档:Lender会发一些文件电子签字。大部分是disclosures,快速过一眼即可。需要重点看的是Loan Estimate(LE),里面有很多数字。如果需要的话,你的LO会让你明白每一个数字,是的,每一个数字。1003 application也可以快速看一下,里面的数字如果跟LE不一致,以LE为准。有的lender可能会寄这些文档的hard copy到家,电子签过所以不用管。不同lender的细节Provident Funding
  • 4.1 初步Review: Lender会初步review你的loan: 这一步可能会让你提供新的文件
    1. 如果appraisal被waive掉,有些lender要签waiver文件。我这边10套SFH自住房中在我的争取下有8-9套能够拿到waiver
    2. 如果appraisal不能被waive掉,要做appraisal,费用需要提前支付。LO可以先垫付然后borrower paypal/zelle转给LO,这样不需要信用卡的信息(卡号地址等),或者在closing时付
    3. Condo需要HOA questionnaire和master insurance policy,新Condo会需要很多其它文档。尽快联系你的HOA company,可能有$100-$300的费用。有的HOA给力,有的不给力,邮件2天不回就得打电话。更多请参考关于Condo
  • 4.2. Title and Escrow: 跟我合作的是一家很好的公司叫Chicago Title,联系人是 Lachmi Murjani (Lachmi.Murjani@ctt.com, Escrow Assistant) 或 Jun Lu (Jun.Lu@ctt.com, Escrow Officer)。Title公司会发一封邮件,里面有几个文件主要是prelim title,发件人是Chicago Title Eastside Title Unit via smartview – svo@smartviewonline.net,这封邮件不需要管。另一封邮件发件人noreply@inhere.com,要填questionnaire,建议时不时查收邮箱因为很可能会进spam folder。下面是简要填表参考(同时请参考详情)
    • Power of attorney 一般选NO,除非你自己不能签字,需要别人代签
    • 要签payoff authorization找现lender拿payoff statement
    • 会让你填questionnaire如下图。Lender Name和Loan Account Number填你现在的贷款;Pay Off Loan As Part of Closing 在refinance时要填YES,因为新贷款会取代旧贷款;Have your entered into a forbearance…? 一般填NO,因为我的客户财务状况都不错,不存在这种少见的情况
  • 5. 审核批准:
    1. 审核贷款的人的叫underwriter,中间可能找你要更多文档: 新的paystubs,bank statements,mortgage statement;解释credit report里的credit inquiries;HELOC subordination agreement;解释大额存款;需要保证银行帐户有足够余额等。underwriter在所有conditions都被解决后会批准你的贷款,进入CTC (Cleared to Close)。
    2. CTC前后lender会准备你的Initial Closing Disclosure(CD),这个文档跟之前看过的Loan Estimate很像,如果有问题尽快告诉LO让lender修改。同时可参考解读payoff amount。如果产权人配偶不是贷款人,需要配偶手签签字页后扫描发给lender。注意,有些数字(譬如说prepaid interests, payoff)根据具体哪天funding可能会变化。Lender可能会要VOE (verification of employment) 相关信息
      不同lender的细节Provident Funding
  • 6. 签字和打款给escrow company
    1. escrow会打电话约签字,快签字那几天手机最好随身携带。可以去escrow office签字,也可以让escrow派人上门(打电话的人会说收费$95,已经包括在escrow fee里,去office并不会省$95)。escrow会发邮件确认appointment,里面会提到会另外发邮件要打多少钱等等,有问题可以回那封邮件
    2. 如果在家签字,建议提前准备好蓝色墨水的笔,准备好桌子,在车库或后院签字,戴口罩保持距离,比较安全
    3. 已结婚并且夫妻都在产权上,需要都在场签字
    4. 携带Driver’s license。如果lender是Provident Funding,需要带绿卡 或 I-797 with current visa
    5. 签字时可以提供银行账号信息用来给新贷款做automatic payment
    6. 如果CD上有Cash to close from borrower,签完字后尽快做wire transfer(可以在网上做),或者提前准备cashier’s check(需要去一趟银行)在签字时给escrow公司,注意需要用之前提交过的银行帐户,否则会导致不必要的麻烦。参考如何做wire transfer
    7. 重复一下第5.2步:如果还没有的话,建议把Closing Disclosure上的数字看一遍,避免在签字的时候对数字有疑问而影响签字,解读payoff amount。负责帮忙签字的人是notary,对贷款细节并不了解
    8. 如果已经付了房产税,但closing时在prepaids里交了6个月,escrow公司会退给你
    9. 如果当月中下旬close,建议手工取消旧lender的自动还款
      不同lender的细节Provident Funding
  • 7. 签字后Funding及后续
    • lender会做funding review,可能会有新的conditions,譬如说VVOE(verbal verification of employment)不顺利,wire transfer的银行不是之前提交的等
    • Funding review通过后就正式funding,escrow公司会负责disburse funds给各方包括payoff前lender,并在county record,recording后贷款正式结束
    • 旧lender/bank的贷款并不会马上清零,不同的lender处理所需时间不一样。由于这个原因,旧lender的自动还款建议手工取消
    • 旧lender/bank会把escrow account (如果有的话)剩余的钱退给你,如果一个月内没收到check,建议打电话问
    • 旧lender/bank如果多收了payoff会退给你,如果一个月内没收到,建议打电话问。有些银行譬如First Tech会直接打到Savings Account里
    • 特别注意:半年内不能再做refinance或者卖房,否则会有penalty (少数情况高达$10k),因为lender会亏损
  • 8. 新lender
    1. 新lender会寄mail给你(一个月内寄到都正常,注意查收),拿到信后在网上setup account和设置自动还款,注意loan number跟之前的不一样。如果mail没收到或者弄丢了,建议在网上找客服电话打过去。一些lender用的网站: Dovenmuehle Mortgage https://dmi.yourmortgageonline.com/ , BSI https://myloanweb.com/BSI/, and One American –https://oneamericanmortgage.myloancare.com
    2. 一般来说close之后的那个月的mortgage payment不用付,譬如说2月close,3月不用付月供, 4/1付第一次月供。
    3. Lender很有可能会把你的贷款卖给Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac,这在美国很正常(可以说是by design),loan servicing(交payment的地方)可能会转到其它公司 (loan servicer公司清单)。在新的公司设置还款即可,设置过程很容易
    4. 特别注意:半年内不能再做refinance或者卖房,否则会有penalty (少数情况高达$10k),因为lender会亏损

上面说的是面向客户的流程,后台还有很多其它事要做。请理解lender, title&escrow, appraisal等公司的不少事情都不在Loan Officer控制范围内,但不管什么情况,Paul Lou都会尽力帮你。整个过程中,给你打电话的只有你的LO和最后约当面签字时间的人,给你发邮件的人只有Lender和Title/Escrow company,任何其它人都跟本次贷款无关。请联系你的LO whenever in doubt。

做贷款要多久

现在做refinance几乎是全民运动,导致refinance比以前慢。另外每家lender不一样,利率好业务量大的会更慢。One American从锁定利率那天到签字,绝大部情况要45-60天。Quicken Loans 绝大部分情况下30-40天。Provident Funding 绝大部分情况45天内。

美国政治 – Stop Asian Hate

华人在美国目前面临一个重大问题,那就是对亚裔的仇恨,这跟很多因素有关,有历史原因,更近期的原因包括地缘政治、COVID-19和大嘴川普把危机变大而不变小的能力,这里并不是说民主党/拜登就能解决问题。亚裔仇恨会是一个长期并影响几代人的问题。讨论、集会等很重要,更重要的是行动!

  • 身份确认:只要你在美国,长着亚裔的脸,你就是亚裔美国人,跟你有没有绿卡是不是公民没有关系,跟你是华人还是韩国人没关系,跟你英文如何没关系,跟你在哪出生没关系,要从外界的角度看问题。既然来了美国这个移民国家,你就是这里的主人,这一点一定要想清楚。不要想着回某个地方的退路,对99%以上的人来说没有退路。如果能够入籍,尽量入籍。
  • 武装起来:亚裔需要大规模或者全民“武装”,所有成年人包括老年人和大一些的小孩外出一定要带pepper spary / bear spray,或者带枪,如果不知道怎么买枪用枪,在Youtube上看看视频学习一下,不难。多买几瓶pepper spray,要练习,练习不是浪费。买枪后一定要去靶场练习,多买子弹练习,我一般每次买1000发。事先想清楚,碰到危险怎么做。我外出随身带pepper spray和枪,并且想清楚了一旦有重大危险,立马开枪,一开就会让对方永远没有说话的机会,脑海里多次模拟过,靶场也练习过。保护好自己和家人,才能保护别人。当然万一有意外,没有办法,不这样做出意外的概率更大。从宇宙的角度来看,一个人只是一粒尘埃。
    Handgun
Murdoch's – SIG SAUER - P229 Legion 9mm Pistol

Pepper Spray

Bear spray

  • 团结华人、亚裔和其它族裔的人,从自己的社区开始,用各种社交软件找到社区,参与社区,定期参加活动,最好是能露脸的活动,不要等着别人来主动联系你,不管你是大伽还是默默无闻。要么自己建立和组织社区,要么加入已有社区,不需要志同道合,只需要有最基本的认同即可。避免只生活在华人圏,避免只看中文信息,避免只用一种社交软件。如果你是某个社区/组织的负责人之一,放开胸怀,跟其它组织合作,求同存异,一起壮大。
  • 提高在美国社会的影响力,在职场、商场、政治、文化等各个领域。

Mortgage – Lender – Provident Funding

Every lender is different. Provident Funding is unique since it provides very competitive rates and has strict underwriting requirements. Here are the steps.

1. File review:Lender will send you an email from NoReply@myloanzone.com. You can click the link to go to https://www.myloanzone.com/ to sign some docs electronically. You need to type your SSN on the web site. Your Loan Officer (LO) will also send some docs for signing.
Note that for the Property Characteristics Disclosure,Choose I/We do not in most cases

2. Underwriting:Lender will have some conditions/TODO items during underwriting. You can upload the required docs directly or send the docs to LO. You just need to look at the Borrower section and the Broker section.

  • One doc is called Incomplete Credit Application. It is a reminder and you can ignore it.
  • Verification of employment: you can use a coworker’s email address. Refer to Step #5.
  • Tax return: you can go to  https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript  to get the transcript or upload your tax return. Note that it needs to signed (electronically for by hand)
  • Letter of explanation: no template needed. Just write a simple doc, save it as a pdf and sign it electronically or by hand

3. Closing Disclosure: Lender will send the Closing Disclosure after your loan is CTC (cleared to close). You can go to the portal to sign electronically. If there is a non borrowing spouse, the spouse needs to print the page as below, hand-sign it with the date your sign on the portal and then scan it back to your LO.

4. Signing: you need to bring your green card or I-797 with current visa if you are not a US citizen. There are two notes and not every notary knows about that.

Noe #1: NOTICE OF RIGHT TO CANCEL: do not forget to initial the highlighted dates

Note #2: ALIEN STATUS ID CERTIFICATION: Option 1 is for green card holders. Option 3 is for I-797 with visa

5. Funding review:Lender will do VOE (verification of employment). It will ask for Manager/HR’s email address. Lender does not accept the third party web sites like theworknumber.com, inverify.net, truework.com because those websites refresh the data monthly. Suggest using a coworker/a friend’s email address which needs to be your company domain. The questions asked by the lender are very simple. e.g. is the borrower still working? Replying to the email takes literally a couple of minutes.

Mortgage – Steps

First, congrats on working with a trustable and professional loan officer (LO)! The loan process might take 30 to 60 days. Here are the steps. Please feel free to contact your LO if you have any questions.

  • 1. Prepare documents:LO will send the document list to your email address. Normally you can get all the docs ready by spending a couple of hours of focus time although it may take a couple of days.
  • 2. Build your loan file and lock rate:LO will pull your credit and use your docs to build a loan file. LO may ask you additional questions or docs.
    1. Once the loan file is done, LO will send it to the lender with the best rates for your case. Then the rate can be locked. Once the rate is locked, it can not be changed. There might be a little penalty for some lenders if the rate is locked and you decide to back out.
    2. To improve the efficiency and customer experience, LO will pay for the credit report fee instead of asking for your credit card info. The fee will be paid at closing by you or you can paypal/zelle the fee to LO outside closing.
    3. Please do not open new credit lines (e.g open a new credit card, buy a new car), avoid large deposits, keep your account clean and maintain enough balance.
  • 3. Sign initial docs:Lender will send you some docs for e-sign。Most the docs are disclosures . The most important doc is the Loan Estimate(LE) and there are many numbers in it. Your LO will explain every number to you if you like. Lender may mail the hard copy of the docs to your home and you can ignore it. If the lender is Provident Funding, please read Provident Funding
  • 4.1 File Review: Lender will review your file and may ask for additional docs
    1. if appraisal can not be waived, an appraisal will be required and the fee will need to be paid before closing. To improve efficiency and customer experience, , LO will pay for the appraisal fee instead of asking for your credit card info. The fee will be paid by you at closing or you can paypal/zelle the fee to LO outside closing.
    2. If it is a condo(some townhouses are condos legally), you need to get the signed HOA questionnaire and the master insurance policy from your HOA. To avoid a delay, please contact your HOA company ASAP. There might be a charge of $100 to $400.
  • 4.2. Title and Escrow: Chicago Title will be your title and escrow company. The contacts are Lachmi Murjani (Lachmi.Murjani@ctt.com, Escrow Assistant) or Jun Lu (Jun.Lu@ctt.com, Escrow Officer). Escrow will send you an email which contains a few files. One of them is the prelim title and the sender is Chicago Title Eastside Title Unit via smartview – svo@smartviewonline.net. You can disregard the email. Escrow will send another email and the sender is noreply@inhere.com asking filling out a questionnaire. The email might go into the spam folder. Here is some reference for filling out the form.
    • Power of attorney: Normally select NO unless you can’t sign yourself.
    • Lender Name and Loan Account Number: use the info of your current mortgage. Pay Off Loan As Part of Closing: YES. since the new loan will replace the old loan. Have your entered into a forbearance…? Normally NO. It is not a common case.
  • 5. Underwriting and CTC:
    1. The underwriter may ask for additional docs like new paystubs, new bank statements and new mortgage statement. LOE for credit inquiries;LOE for large deposits. Once all the conditions are satisfied, your loan will be CTC (Cleared to Close)。
    2. Lender will send you Initial Closing Disclosure(CD) before or after CTC. This doc is very similar as Loan Estimate. Please let your LO know if any number is not correct. If your spouse is not the co-borrower, she/he needs to hand-sign the CD. Note that some numbers like prepaid interests and payoff may change depending on which day the loan will be closed.
  • 6. Signing
    1. Escrow will call you to schedule a signing appointment. You can go to the escrow company’s office OR ask for a mobile notary so you can sign the docs at home. The person who calls you might tell you that the mobile signing has a charge of $95. The fee is already included. Going to the office would not save your money. The escrow company will send an email to confirm the appointment. Please feel free to reply to the email if you have any questions.
    2. If signing at home, please prepare blue ink pens and a table. You can sign at your garage or the backyard or any place you are comfortable with. Please follow the COVID protocol.
    3. If married, both husband and wife need to be present to sign.
    4. Get your driver’s license ready. If the lender is Provident Funding and you are not a citizen, get your green card or I-797 with current visa ready.
    5. You can provide your bank account info for automatic payment at the signing.
    6. If there is cash to close from borrower in the closing disclosure, please do a wire transfer ASAP after the signing or get a cashier’s check beforehand and give it to the notary. Note that the cashier’s check needs to be from one of the bank accounts you submitted to avoid unnecessary trouble.
    7. Repeat step 5.2: if you haven’t, make sure that you understand the numbers on the Closing Disclosure to avoid questions at the signing. The notary does not know the details.
    8. You can cancel the automatic payment of the next month with your old lender.
      If the lender is Provident Funding, please read Provident Funding
  • 7. Funding
    • Lender will do funding review. There might be new conditions. Once the funding review passes, Escrow will disburse funds and record it at the county. Then your loan process is complete.
    • The balance on your old lender’s account might not go to zero immediately. It may take some time for the old lender to process the payoff demand.
    • The old lender will refund all the money in the old escrow account if you have one. If you don’t get a check within a month, please feel free to call your old lender.
    • In case the old lender gets more than the payoff amount, it will refund. Some banks like First Tech will refund it to your savings account directly.
    • Note that you can’t do another refinance or sell your house within 6 months. Otherwise there will be penalty (sometime it is as high as $10k) because if you do that, the lender will have monetary loss. Ask your LO if any questions.
  • 8. New Lender
    • In general, there is no payment for the month after your loan is closed. e.g. if your loan is closed in Feb, there will be no payment in March. Your first payment would be on 4/1.
    • Lender may sell your loan Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. This is almost by design. The loan servicing company will be probably a different company.
    • Note that you can’t do another refinance or sell your house within 6 months. Otherwise there will be penalty (sometime it is as high as $10k) because if you do that, the lender will have monetary loss. Ask your LO if any questions.

贷款 – 报税 tax return

很多朋友在疫情带来的历史低利率下做了refinance或买房子贷了款,那在报税时有什么要注意的呢?我不是税务专家,不能提供税务建议,这里仅提供一点信息供参考,如果有问题请咨询税务师并以他们说的为准

自住房

报税时如果选standard deduction,那就没什么事了。只有在用itemized deduction时,才需要考虑贷款方面的影响。可以抵扣的部分是一整年交的利息interests和买点discount points的费用。取个例子

年收入$100k,去年付了$5000利息,买点花了$1000,那可以把$5000+$1000从收入里减掉

我这边>95%的人贷款时没有买点,特别是no cost refinance的情况。如果你不确定,可以看Loan Estimate or Closing Disclosure. % of Loan Amount (Points) 那一项,没有就是没有买点

投资房

投资房子是有租金收入的,可以把利息与买点的费用从租金收入里减掉

参考文章:https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/home-ownership/mortgage-refinance-tax-deductions/L2fzA7hg5

房子 – 厨房sink堵塞问题之终极篇

厨房sink堵塞在美国并不少见,郁闷的时候你会因为这个问题考虑换房。先说解决方案,再说预防。这些信息来自一手经验+很多朋友的分享,这篇文章的目标是终极篇,如果有你碰到的情况没有被cover,麻烦告诉我

解决

很多时候堵塞是油脂积累,相对容易一些,不少情况下用化学品(如drano)+热水 或 只用热水可以搞定,可以反复试几次,也可以试试plunger,但如果用了化学品用plunger时得小心,因为容易溅出来。如果不行,拆开下面p-strap清理看能不能解决。如果还不行,用手动蛇或t租电动蛇(譬如RIDGID K-400这一款),最好带sewer gloves/ugly gloves(至少带手套),手动蛇因为没有动力可能走不远。用snake前,建议用wet/dry vaccum把sink里的水吸走,然后拆开管道时慢慢拧开,用一个桶接住,同时准备毛巾吸溅出来的水,没有经验的话场面会比较喜人。

如果不是油脂堵塞,而是starchy food (面粉、米饭、土豆等),化学品和热水可能没多大用,基本上要靠蛇。

不少情况情况可以DIY,但需要请人时不要犹豫,这个比换房便宜很多:-)。plumber工具好而且有经验,既快也好。有些专门做水的华人师傅也能解决大部分问题,跟普通老美plumber差不多。但如果有很难解决的问题,建议找专业的公司,有的公司既快(譬如说2小时内到)也能解决复杂问题,但会比较贵。另外,有些情况要去crawl space疏通,特别是厨房与厕所一起堵上的话。家里的管道宽度一般是2 inch,到下面是3 inch。

问题:能用开水灌sink么?这里有一篇比较深入的技术讨论https://diy.stackexchange.com/questions/88476/should-i-run-the-tap-while-dumping-boiling-water。 我个人经验是只要不是大量持续灌没问题,但每个人情况可能不一样

预防

  1. 切记不要扔starchy food (面粉类、米饭、土豆等)
  2. 很油脂的东西不要扔,盘子上有很多油脂用paper towel先擦掉
  3. 买一个小点的桶套上绿色回收垃圾袋(costco有卖),专门放厨余,之后放yard waste。这一条非常推荐,否则放垃圾桶会导致垃圾桶很臭
  4. Garbage disposal: 建议少用,甚至可以当做不存在。可以买kitchen sink strainer放在garbage disposal口上 (譬如https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CWXLMB8)

P.S.

Compostable bags at Costco

手动蛇

小电动蛇

大电动蛇,下面是RIDGID K-400,Home Depot可以租另一款

贷款 – VOE (verification of employment)

做贷款快close时lender要做VOE,用来核实borrower还在工作。不少lender需要Manager/HR的email address,因为在COVID期间Lender不认可第三方的网站譬如theworknumber.com, inverify.net, truework.com等,因为这些网站的信息一个月更新一次。Lender发邮件问的问题很简单(譬如是否在工作,哪天加入的),回复lender邮件只需要一二分钟,按实际情况回复即可

不少人不愿意找manager,HR也不提供这种服务。幸运的是,不同的lender提供了不同的替代方案。One American Mortgage可以用most recent paystub替代,Provident Funding可以用同事的邮箱替代

贷款 – 找银行做贷款

Jumbo loans只能找银行,conforming loans找银行得非常注意,体验好的肯定有,我在这里分享一些我知道的情况。另外一般来说除了jumbo loans,银行的利率比不上mortgage brokers.

Chase

一位朋友结婚前买的房子,结婚后refinance,说了把配偶加到Title里,结果没加。还好第2次在我这里做refinance发现并纠正了。

另一位微软朋友,很简单的w-2, primary house refinance,花了3个月还没做完

First Tech

一位朋友买房找的first tech,做refinance时银行说让在网上拿报价,但网上报价不清楚没人解释。找一个能报价并解释的人就这么难。

贷款 – wire transfer

Wire transfer在网上很容易做,但第一次做可能不觉得容易。这里简单介绍一下,每家银行都不一样,但大同小异。有些网上银行(e.g. discover bank)需要打电话才能做wire transfer,有个别银行甚至不提供wire transfer

  1. 拿到escrow company发的wire instructions / wire information,注意发件人以免fraud
  2. 在贷款申请时提交过statements的银行网站上点Wire Transfer / Wire Money -> Add a recipient,有的银行要验证码
  3. 填写相关信息:
    • Routing Number, Account Number, Recipient Name
    • 如果需要地址,填escrow company地址,在文档右上角
    • 如果需要Account Type,填Checking
    • Message to recipient 和 Message to recipient bank 填 Escrow No.,这个用来定位一笔wire transfer属于哪个客户
    • 具体金额,escrow company会发邮件告诉你
  4. 提交完成。Wire transfer一般当天或者下一个business day就可以到。做完后不需要跟escrow company确认是否收到。