Author Archives: Paul Lou

About Paul Lou

Professionals across multiple industries

房产 – 抢房

2021年西雅图地区房市火爆程度在全美位居前列,好的房子抢破头,为了拿到房子,买家通常会waive很多东西并且增加一些对卖家有利的内容,这里简单介绍一下算是科普(申明:不构成legal advice不承担任何责任).

  1. Inspection Contingency (NWMLS Form 35)
    能做inspection的情况最好是做。如果卖家提供了inspection report,或者自己请人做了pre-inspection,觉得没大问题可以waive。新房有warranty以及county会有一些inspections,一般也可以考虑waive
  2. Financing Contingency (NWMLS Form 22A)
    这就是传说中的cash offer,waive后仍然可以贷款。这一条如果waive但贷款贷不下来的话,会损失Earnest Money,没有lender会保证贷款能够通过,决定权在underwriter那
  3. Waiver of Low Appraisal Protection (NWMLS Form 22A or 22AA)
    银行/lender会做appraisal,出高价抢房容易出现估值有比买价低的情况,这个时候不waive这一条的话是可以跟卖家讨价还价的,否则只能多出首付把差价填上
  4. Title Contingency (NWMLS Form 22T)
    产权一般没问题,即使不waive,卖家也不会觉得waive了这一条的offer好多少
  5. Information Verification Period Contingency (Form 21, 25 or 28, General Term (w))
    就是用来核实卖家或listing firm提供的信息,如果有materially inaccurate information可以全身退出,譬如说房间数不对等等。这一条在下offer前就可以做,一般都waive了
  6. Seller Disclosure Statement (NWMLS Form 17)
    卖家的disclosure,正常情况对里面内容不满意可以全身退出,现在一般也waive了
  7. Conversion of Earnest Money to Nonrefundable Deposit
    这一条就是在Mutual后直接把earnest money给卖家,不管最后能不能成交
  8. Homeowners Association Review Period (NWMLS Form 22D, Paragraph 8)
    如果小区有HOA,可以review HOA的各种条款,不满意可以退出,但这一条一般也waive了

有时还有一些其它条款,譬如说close后免费给卖家住一段时间等。现在是卖方市场,对买家很不友好,最后能拿到好房子的offer都很aggressive.

贷款 – 买房

我很幸运做了很多贷款并且在很多客户中赢得了靠谱、利率好以及工作高效的reputation,这里想分享一些tips给来帮助顺利close transactions。

买到房之前

  1. 尽早提交材料拿pre-approval letter,这样可以确定看什么价位的房子,看有没有risk,如果有怎么处理。同时开始准备贷款材料,一旦mutual可以马上开始做。注意: condo/townhouse的HOA可能会减少pre-approval里的贷款额度
  2. 准备好首付:需要有两个月clean的bank statements. 首付最好尽早到位集中在一个帐户,该卖股票的找好时机卖,需要从国内转钱的尽快,跟别人换钱多次要特别注意,有可能这部分钱不能用,甚至整个帐户的钱都不能用。大额转账需要来源清楚。有些公司的401K可以取5万出来做首付。自住房首付最低可到3%-5%
  3. 注意提高保养信用分
  4. 如果有工作变动或其它变化,及时跟loan officer沟通

合同Mutual后

  1. 尽快提交材料开始贷款过程并且锁定利率
  2. 购买房屋保险,effective date就说closing date
  3. 如果agent有rebates,可以用来cover closing costs,通知loan officer
  4. Condo要麻烦一些:跟loan officer合作order HOA questionnaire
  5. 及时提交lender所需要的各种材料

贷款 – For Real Estate Brokers

我很幸运做了很多贷款并且在很多客户中赢得了靠谱、利率好以及工作高效的reputation,这里想分享一些tips给跟我合作的房产专业人士来帮助顺利close deals。

Mutual前

  1. 尽早让客户准备pre-approval letter,这样可以确定看什么价位的房子,并且跟我沟通看有没有risk,如果有怎么处理。同时建议客户开始准备贷款材料,一旦mutual可以马上开始做。注意:condo/townhouse的HOA可能会减少pre-approval里的贷款额度
  2. 让客户准备好首付:需要有两个月clean的bank statements. 首付最好尽早到位集中在一个帐户,该卖股票的找好时机卖,需要从国内转钱的尽快,跟别人换钱多次要特别注意,有可能这部分钱不能用,甚至整个帐户的钱都不能用。大额转账需要来源清楚。有些公司的401K可以取5万出来做首付。自住房首付最低可到3%-5%
  3. 让客户注意提高保养信用分
  4. 如果有工作变动或其它变化,让客户及时跟loan officer沟通
  5. 写Offer时closing date写 date or sooner,这样如果提前close不用addendum。大部分情况下30天close,condo建议加5天做缓冲。如果waive financing contingency注意风险,因为没人能担保一定能贷到款,即使客户条件非常好,只能calculate risks。Condo如果waive financing有更高的risk,因为Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac对condo有不少要求
  6. 现在西雅图很多房子需要抢,这里简单介绍一下抢房

Mutual后

  1. 让buyer尽快提交材料包括 PSA / contract开始贷款过程
  2. 找listing agent要escrow company联系方式(名字、电话、邮箱和地址)发给loan officer
  3. 提醒buyer购买房屋保险,effective date就说closing date, premium paid at closing
  4. 尽快提交Form 40给closing gent。如果有credit给buyer,同时发给loan officer,注明credit可以用来cover closing costs。如果credit超过lender允许的closing costs,closing agent / escrow会把多余的给你的公司,你的公司再给buyer,会有一点点B&O tax (1.x%)。中介直接把钱给buyer是不合法的
  5. Condo要麻烦一些:尽快找listing agent拿HOA company联系方式(名字、电话和邮箱)和master insurance给loan officer
  6. 贷款过程中可以找loan officer询问状态包括问appraisal。如果loan officer反应escrow company不给力,建议联系listing agent帮忙催
  7. 一旦贷款完全批准CTC (cleared to close),可以看看signing date和closing date (funding date)看没有没问题,能不能提前close
  8. 其它各种问题都可以问loan officer:譬如buyer签字时在外地怎么办,换工作了怎么办
  9. 注意有不少事情不在loan officer控制范围内:closing agent是否给力,appraisal company有多快、估值多少,HOA company速度等

最后一步是lender打款、escrow company做recording,recording收到receipt即可帮buyer拿钥匙交房!恭喜又帮助了一位客户!

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。这些信息来自多年一手经验+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。强烈推荐买kitchen sink strainer放在garbage disposal口上 (譬如https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CWXLMB8)

P.S.

Kitchen Sink Strainer

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

关于cooking oil
http://www.seattle.gov/utilities/protecting-our-environment/sustainability-tips/fats-oils-and-grease-(fog)

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