Greg Cowart on Zillow
Greg Cowart - Mortgage Broker or Lender at The Securus Group
Greg Cowart - Roseville Loan Guy

Get My Mortgage App!

Enter you number and receive via text or scan the QR code below...

More mortgage payments being made on time since before recession

This has been a popular subject on this site, I’ve often discussed it in a way that flies in the face of what the conventional media has been pushing for the last few years; the rate of mortgage delinquencies nationwide has decreased to its lowest level in the last six years (since “pre-crash”).

mortgage-paidIn the 4th quarter of 2013 the percentage of homeowners at least 60 days late on their mortgages had dropped to under 4.0%. Marking two straight years of quarterly improvements and the first time this metric has been sub-4% since 2008.

The level is still too high, with most economists preferring it be under 2% in a normal market, but improvement is improvement. And steady improvement is even better!

But real estate is always local, right? Indeed, for the most part that is true, and in California our rate is 3.06% for Q4 2013! Beating the national average by quite a bit and putting us nearly in the normal range and at one of the lowest mortgage delinquency rates of any of the 50 states. The rate in the Roseville/Rocklin/Lincoln area is even lower, well within the historically normal range.

Looking forward? As we’ve discussed many times here, less delinquent accounts = less foreclosures in the future. This is why I was telling everyone that was so scared of the media’s boogeyman of the last half decade, “shadow inventory,” that they have nothing to worry about. It didn’t exist and, while the foreclosure problem looked as scary as could be in 2010-2012, the fact late payments were on the decline told us that distressed sales in the future were also going to decline.

Couple that with the FACT that mortgages of the last 5 years have been of MUCH higher credit quality (no more people that couldn’t buy homes could anymore, and are therefore less likely to default), we see an ever-improving real estate market that should stand on its own after years of being propped up by Washington.

Put this one in the win column!

SOURCE: TransUnion Data

Greg Cowart
Senior Mortgage Consultant – 18 Year’s Experience
Paramount Equity

(916) 412-3313

Creative financing options to increase the odds of getting your offer accepted

(especially in the ultra-hot Roseville and Rocklin real estate markets)

This is a GREAT tip for buyers out there right now…

If you are out there looking at homes and making offers in this market, especially in the Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln, Granite Bay, or Folsom areas, you know we’re seeing home sellers having a large number of offers to choose from. Likewise they are choosing the best offer they have and the odds of getting a seller credit towards closing costs aren’t as high as they have been from 2008-early 2013. Especially on the hottest, multi-offer properties…

Unfortunately, the reality is many buyers simply can’t pay their own closing costs.  Or can they?

With a little bit of creative financing you can have the winning offer AND also have your closing costs paid for!

On a $349,000 purchase you can simply bump up the rate a little and have us (or any lender really) give you a rebate towards closing costs. If today’s 30 year FHA rate is 4.0% (this is not a rate quote, rates change every day) it would be as easy as taking a 4.25% rate and getting as much as 1% of a lender rebate to pay for all your closing costs.

In this scenario the buyer’s payment only went up by $48 but they got a $3,490 lender credit to cover closing costs and their offer was accepted! In all reality who can argue with a 4.25% rate anyways, especially if it saved $3,500 up front which, if you didn’t have saved for closing, you may not have been able to have your offer accepted anyways.

The same idea can work with pretty much any loan. Putting down 10% and going conventional? It may be possible to make this work too, rather than asking for a seller credit on a property you know will have multiple offers. 

This is how we do it… Get you financed but also get you the home you want instead of someone else having their offer accepted. If you have more than enough for down payment and closing costs this is not really necessary, or advisable, but for those that don’t this is another tool to get your offer noticed and increase the likelihood of being accepted.

Sincerely (your outside the box lender),
Greg Cowart

 (916) 412-3313

Lincoln still in play for USDA (100% financing)

Yep, that is right. The city of Lincoln, Ca is still eligible for 100% USDA financing.

Over the last two years USDA was supposed to change their eligible areas based on the 2010 US Census but the date of the new map’s going into effect keeps getting pushed back.  The most recent date for the change was Jan 16th, 2014 (it was also slated to change in October 2013, March 2013, and October 2012)…

USDA-mortgage-transWhat does this mean?

Well, it means if you want to buy in Lincoln, or any other city/area that will no longer be USDA-eligible once the new maps go into effect (Auburn being one of them), you now have until (at least) October 1st, 2014 to get into contract and have your lender get the application over to USDA.

For the map of eligible areas plug your subject address into this link on the USDA website and it will tell you if it is eligible or not (Lincoln, CA is 100% eligible as of the search I did today).

USDA Eligibility Map Lookup

If you would like to lookup what the future map looks like, whether it changes on October 1st, 2014 or if they push it back again, it is right here…

USDA Future Eligible Area Map Lookup

If you would like any assistance or would like to get prequalified for a USDA loan please give me a call. In my opinion it is one of the best loans out there, if you want to buy in a USDA-eligible area of course. 100% financing is allowed, it is government-backed so rates are on the lower-end (similar to FHA and VA in most cases), but it does not have the huge UFMIP and annual Mortgage Insurance premiums like FHA does (that makes FHA such an expensive loan in comparison to most other loans these days).

Lets say you are looking in the Northern part of Rocklin but can’t find anything in that your price-range or down payment availability will allow you to qualify for. 12 Bridges is right there and you may be able to (subject to minimum income/asset/credit requirements) buy with a lower down payment, or even none at all.


Greg Cowart
Senior Mortgage Consultant – 18 Years Experience
(916) 412-3313

The Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM)… What is it?

What is an EEM and is it even relevant in the world of real estate in the Roseville/Rocklin area or greater Sacramento?

EEM-Roseville-Rocklin-MortgageWhether you’re purchasing or refinancing, today’s reality is that many of us should consider making energy conservation improvements to our homes. Most homes can benefit from energy upgrades.

Any home built before 1994 should benefit from an Energy Efficient Mortgage. Why?  Simple… The energy codes used up until 1993 are no longer industry standard.  Mechanical systems, insulation levels, and water heaters are the main determining factor in a home’s energy consumption.  Those installed before 1994 are less efficient, not to mention they are old!  With the Energy Efficient Mortgage, you can renew and upgrade all the critical factors that determine the energy consumption of your home, and include the total cost in your home loan.

Personal consumption has increased along with energy costs.  Today’s homes use electronics to manage almost everything, from ovens, microwaves and refrigerators, to DVRs, iPods, and tablet computers; not to mention all the battery chargers needed to keep them running.  Though prices are relatively stable, we use almost 25% more electricity today than we did in 1993.  Natural gas, however, is a different story.  Most of Californians cook, heat their homes, and their water, with gas.  Our consumption has increased a modest 10%, while the price has skyrocketed over 70%.

Simply stated, utility bills have become the second largest monthly expense of modern living, behind the mortgage or rent payment. An Energy Efficient Mortgage may lower both of these costs, definitely utility bills and overall monthly expenses.

There is plenty opportunity to take advantage of an Energy Efficient Mortgage for those looking for homes in Roseville/Rocklin or anywhere in the greater Sacramento market. Like most of the lesser-known special programs ignored by other lenders I’ve become THE local expert in the Energy Efficient Mortgage! Give me a call any time if you’d like more information.

~Greg Cowart
(916) 412-3313

Negative equity in the region becoming a thing of the past?

The amount of homes worth less than owed on their mortgage in the Sacramento area has continued to fall.

up-down-real-estate-roseville-rocklinJust two years ago almost 50% were underwater and as recently as January 2012 over 40% were still underwater. Since then things have changed immensely. Looking at the immediate past, 4th quarter 2012 (data for the 1st quarter of 2013 is not yet available) there were only 32% in that same boat.

In the 4th quarter of last year, 32% or about 150,000, of all residential properties in the Sacramento region had a mortgage for more than their homes were worth. This is compared to 36%, or about 175,000  properties, in the previous quarter.

This is still a high number but that means about 25,000 homeowners in region now have equity when they didn’t have it just three months earlier.

The 1st quarter 2013 data is not available yet but there is no doubt in my mind there will be another dramatic change as property values are appreciating even more today than they were in the 2nd half of last year. My guess is when it is reported the number will be well under 30%. Not quite where we want it to be yet, but definitely headed in the right direction.


Greg Cowart
Senior Mortgage Planner -17 Years Experience
Partners Mortgage
(916) 412-3313

Roseville’s Downtown Bridges Project

Three new bridges and a big change coming to Roseville, the Downtown Bridges Project.

The city is about to make some drastic changes to downtown and the Royer Park area. The main library bridge will be replaced with a new one, a new bridge will be built from the library to downtown Roseville, and the Oak Street bridge will be extended. Oh ya, and the firehouse will be graded as part of the project, connecting downtown Roseville with Royer Park.

The committee selected to choose which design plan (of a few) has recommended that the council choose Mark Thomas & Company’s plan because its design more closely matches the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration architecture called for in plans for downtown Roseville, as well as this design’s trail plans.


It won’t be until at least 2014 before construction begins but soon enough we will see a dramatically different downtown Roseville.

Greg Cowart II
Mortgage Planner – 17 Years Experience

CalHome Mortgage Assistance Program (SHRA)

This program, administered by the SHRA, only applies to those in the city and unincorporated portions of Sacramento County (so not available in Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Galt, Folsom, Rancho Cordova or Isleton) but it is a great deal for those that qualify in buying a home…

The CalHome Mortgage Assistance Program is a down payment assistance (DPA) program for low-moderate income buyers. The DPA equals a whopping 20% of the purchase price, up to $40,000!

The maximum purchase price is currently $199,000 and here are the income limits:

1-person $42,650
2-person $48,750
3-person $54,850
4-person $60,900
5-person $65,800
6-person $70,650

Please contact me if you have any questions about this fantastic program.

Is this too late? Good news never is!!!

I know I know, it has been a long time since I have posted. And I meant to post this a few weeks ago, a HAPPY NEW YEAR and WELCOME 2013 post if you will. So consider it a belated one of those… 🙂

2012 was a very interesting, and depending on who you ask, a good year for jobs, the economy, and real estate (I of course will be focusing on the latter).

Completed Foreclosures were down a whopping 23% year over year (Nov 2012 compared to Nov 2011). The number is still too high but has been shrinking month after month, and year after year, for long enough to call it a trend.


There were approximately 1.2 million homes in some stage of foreclosure (the foreclosure inventory) in November, about 3.0 percent of all homes with a mortgage.  In November 2011 there were 1.5 million homes or3.5 percent of all mortgaged homes in the inventory.  This is a decrease of 18 percent year-over-year.


CoreLogic’s Mark Fleming said, “The pace of completed foreclosures has significantly improved over a year ago as short sales gain popularity as a disposition method. Additionally, the inventory of foreclosed properties continues to decline while the housing market demonstrates an ongoing ability to absorb the distressed sales that result from completed foreclosures.”

All data points show a continuing trend of ever improving housing markets, jobs increasing, and improvements to the economy. As mentioned these are not good enough, but I have a good feeling about the future!

Images and data courtesy of CoreLogic.

New & Improved Short Sale Guidelines Changing The Game?

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced new, more clear, guidelines, for mortgage companies that will bring many short sale programs into just one and streamline the timeframes as well. The new short sale streamline program is going to enable lenders to speed up the process of qualifying eligible homeowners, which should, in theory, speed up the short sale process (that can currently take many months to complete). The new guidelines show the FHFA’s and Fannie Mae’s desire to help people avoid foreclosure and stabilize communities.

The new guidelines, which go into effect on Monday (11.1.12), will permit a homeowner with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed-mortgage (remember Fannie/Freddie doesn’t make mortgages) to sell their home in a short sale even if they are current on their mortgage if they have an eligible hardship. Lenders will be able to expedite a short sale for homeowners with hardships such as divorce, job relocation, death of a spouse, etc without going to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac for their approval.

Here are the details:

  1. Those that have already missed payments will no longer be requested to show hardship in order to have the short sale approved. Saving time and paperwork.
  2. Homeowner hardships such as death, divorce, disability, and job relocation will no longer require additional approval from Fannie or Freddie. The lenders that service the loan will be able to approve these without submitting it to the GSE that backs it.
  3. Fannie and Freddie will waive the right to pursue deficiency judgments against homeowners in exchange for a financial contribution when a borrower has sufficient income or assets to make cash contributions or sign promissory notes:
  4. Service members who are being relocated will be have their short sales approved automatically, even if they are current on their existing mortgages, and will be under no obligation to contribute funds to cover the shortfall
  5. between the outstanding loan balance and the sales price on their homes.
  6. Consolidating existing short sales programs into a single uniform program will give servicers more clear and consistent guidelines, making it easier to process and execute short sales.
  7. New guidance will clarify when a borrower must submit their application and a sales offer to be considered for a short sale when there is already an NOD, or the foreclosure process has begun, so that last minute communications and negotiations are handled in a uniform and fair manner and no homes are foreclosed on with a short sale closing scheduled for right around the corner.
  8. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will offer up to $6,000 to second lien holders to expedite a short sale. Previously, second lien holders could slow down the short sale process by negotiating for higher amounts. Increasing this offer to $6,000 will make it more likely for them to accept, as will the knowledge that $6,000 is also the cap and they will not be able to get any more out of the deal no matter what they do. It is basically take $6,000 or get nothing if the home goes into foreclosure.
  9. The last item, and this is a big one, is: Lenders/servicers are now required to review and respond to short sale offers within 30 days of receipt of the offer. Weekly status updates must be provided to the seller/buyer is the offer is still under review after 30 days and a final decision must be communicated to the seller/buyer they must provide weekly status updates to the borrower if the offer is still under review after 30 days, and they must make and communicate final decisions to the borrower within 60 days of receipt of the offer, no matter what.


Weekly Update: Slow but steady recovery, who is taking notice?

James W. Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, noted that “for the first time this recovery, there are real signs that the housing market is actually improving. For instance, home prices in June rose 2.5 percent over the same period in 2011, according to CoreLogic, which tracks real estate data. Strip distressed homes from the calculation, and prices jumped 3.2 percent.

“Every economic recovery in the post-war era has coincided with improvements in housing—except this one—he noted. ‘This may finally be changing,’ Mr. Paulsen said, adding that this could also bode well for the job market.” [Paul J. Lim, The New York Times 8/12/2012]

Wall Street is noticing. The numbers are improving for real estate and the big money managers are watching carefully.

But to say that economic recoveries have always “coincided” with better housing sales? Improvements in housing come when certain forms of stimulus—the same ones that warm the retail sector—begin to affect the goods-and-services markets’ sales volumes. For example, more housing sales mean more carpets are laid means more workers are employed, etc. It’s not a big mystery.

So many retail goods and important services are affected by the health of the real estate market that we can count on improvements in a wide range of economic indicators and, yes indeedy, “this could also bode well for the job market.”

But let’s look for a moment at one of the most remarkable housing recoveries in the nation. Recent computations show that the city to study is Phoenix, “where list prices were up 29.73% in the second quarter, compared with the second quarter of 2011, and for-sale inventory plunged 44.2% over that time.”

This situation is repeated, though to a less dramatic effect, in many other cities and areas today—Oakland, Miami, Boise, San Jose, Bakersfield, San Francisco, and others. It comes down to a lack of inventory, on the one hand, and a sizable growth in demand. The recovery of the economy in the Silicon Valley, for example, has meant more jobs, and that’s meant more homes are needed for the newly-hired employees.

But there’s a statistic that should catch our eyes. In the fourth quarter of 2011, 54.5% of the homes in the Phoenix area were underwater. By the end of the first quarter of 2012, the number had declined to 46.2%.

This means that the inventory squeeze and the potential buyers willing to bid up selling prices of available homes have increased the value of homes enough to pull a surprisingly large percentage of them out of the water. These are homes that can now be sold without a short sale, homes that are unlikely to face foreclosure. It is a real estate market healing itself. Granted, it has a long way to go, but we need to see that it has already come a long distance. Very few people, a year or more ago, were predicting that the problem of a huge foreclosure overhang—the much-discussed “shadow inventory”—could be eased this quickly or—dare we say?—easily.

Many investors have long been betting on this process. As a consequence, a high percentage of home sales over recent years have involved investors who paid cash—an act of considerable faith—for the properties they bought.

A lot of money has been bet, therefore, on the Phoenix recovery. Many investors feel that there are lots of other markets whose approaching appreciation rates warrant such bets.

All of which is to say that, despite the uncertainties still surrounding this real estate recovery, chances are good that we’re headed to higher ground in a majority of American real estate markets. At least, that’s the way I tend to read all of this.