Monday, March 30, 2009

Facing Crisis with Faith and Trust

I’ve blogged in the past about positive attitude and taking personal responsibility for maintaining a focus on fiscal steadfastness. I want to share with you some wisdom that addresses these same issues. These thoughts are from the pastor of my church. No matter what your particular faith may be, the impact of facing crisis with trust and faith in God gives each of us hope and peace in these turbulent times.

To paraphrase his words: Bail out, recession, layoffs, and foreclosure -- all are media headline material, and it’s hard to ignore that a national and global crisis exists. Most of us are impacted by, or know someone being impacted by, our current economic crisis. There are different types of crisis we encounter in daily life. It’s not a matter of IF a crisis will come, but WHEN it will come. It could be when a death of a family member occurs, a job is lost, someone we care about is assaulted, a divorce, or a diagnosis of cancer.

How do we respond to this? What is a biblical response to crisis? We need to look to the response we choose when crisis comes, no matter the cause of the crisis.

Pastor Anderson shares wonderful passages and stories of persevering, standing firm in faith, a biblical response to crisis. He talks of four central truths about God and these affirmed in the face of any crisis, will help us have a Godly response to crisis:

1. God is in control
2. God has a plan for the world
3. God has a plan for me
4. I can trust God

I encourage you to click on the link provided to listen to the sermon “Trusting God in the Face of Crisis”: Resources/Modules/MinistryTools/Sermon/default.asp

As always, any of us here at InSight Mortgage Group will be happy to assist you with your mortgage needs or questions. Please call us at 913-642-3334 or email me at May God bring you peace now and in your time of crisis.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Recently I attended a seminar by an FBI representative on various types of fraud affecting the mortgage and real estate industries, and of course, our buyers and sellers. Then I had an enlightening conversation with a business associate whose focus is consumer protection and education.

Did you know that identity theft is America’s fastest growing white collar crime? The average dollar amount charged in identity theft is $92,893 and only 1 out of 700 thieves are ever prosecuted. And,the identity theft victim spends on average up to 600 hours restoring their identity. Identity theft is to knowingly transfer, possess, or use without lawful authority another person’s personal information to secure services or products, or to commit crimes in that person’s name.

The mortgage industry has stringent rules and oversights in place to safeguard our business from accepting applications using fraudently obtained information. A new national Red Flags Rule was implemented recently, further enhancing safety practices. At InSight Mortgage Group we have policies and procedures in place providing for the identification, detection, and response to “red flags” that could indicate identity theft.

There are five types of Identity Theft:

1. Financial – your information to obtain money, goods, or services leaving you
with the bill
2. Drivers License – an identity thief could obtain a drivers license in your name and accumulate traffic tickets in your name
3. Social Security – your social security numbers could be used for employment purposes and you could get the tax bill
4. Medical – your personal medical information could be used to obtain
prescriptions or medical health which could affect your health or reduce your
5. Criminal – your information could be used to escape fines or jail time. You
could actually end up in jail.

Military personnel are at risk too. Social Security numbers are the basis of personal and medical administration. In our era of Internet, credit cards, and computer file-sharing, the element of risk increases. The prime target is the deployed military person who most likely will not view his/her credit report for a year or more according to a public affairs officer with Army Human Resources Command. He said contractors, soldiers, and civilians should be aware of the dangers of identity theft and know how to protect themselves from unauthorized release of personally identifiable information.

Everyone should review their credit reports and financial statements regularly for any fraudulent charges. The Federal Trade Commission also suggests being alert to signs such as bills not arriving as expected, denials of credit for no apparent reason, or calls or letters about purchases never made.

Everyone is facing challenging economic times. Finances are a concern for each and every one of us, and identity theft is a potential threat to us all. Please don’t shake it off as a “it can’t happen to me” attitude. I’ve become aware of a valuable service provided by a company with integrity. Adell Associates of Pre-Paid Legal Services offers a comprehensive service you can use right now to help with the tough decisions all families and businesses must make. Everyone needs a will/living will but puts it off, maybe you’re thinking of bankruptcy, everyone signs contracts, and everyone needs to be concerned about their credit score and identity. These are some of the important benefits this service provides. For more information and personal assistance contact Adell Associates at 913-780-2375 or visit

Any of us at InSight Mortgage Group would be happy to discuss how we protect your identity through the loan process, or answer questions you may have. Call us at 913-642-3334 or please email me at Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The HOME AFFORDABLE REFINANCE Program: Questions and Answers

Our post the other day on the new Obama Home Affordable Plan generated alot of questions from you. We appreciate our readers and welcome your inquiries. The following information should clarify the REFINANCE portion of the program. We'll address the Modification portion in another blog.

I’m current on my mortgage. Will the Home Affordable Refinance help me?
Eligible borrowers current on their mortgage but who haven’t been able to refinance into today’s lower interest rates because of decreased home valuation, may be eligible to refinance into a 30 or 15 year fixed rate loan. Through the HAR program, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will allow the refinancing of mortgage loans that they own or that they placed in mortgage backed securities.

Who is considered eligible?
* Owner occupant of a one to four unit home.
* The loan is owned or controlled by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (unsure? See below)
* Are current on mortgage payments – haven’t been more than 30 days late in past 12 months
* The amount owed on the first mortgage is about the same or slightly less than the current value of the home
* Have a stable income sufficient to support the new mortgage payments.

How do I know if my loan is owned or has been securitized by Fannie or Freddie?
You should call your mortgage lender or servicer (company you send payments to) and ask about the program. Both have toll-free numbers and web submission processes to make this data available. Borrowers will enter/provide information to determine if either agency owns or securitized the loan. NOTE: other qualifying criteria must be met in addition to the loan being owned or securitized by either agency.
* Fannie Mae: 1-800-7fannie (8am-8pm EST) or
* FreddieMac 1-800-freddie (as above)

Who is my “loan servicer”? Is that the same as my lender or investor?
The company that collects your mortgage payments and who is responsible for the management and accounting of your loan is the servicer. Your servicer may also be your lender, which means they own the loan. However, many loans are owned by groups of investors (like pension funds) or individuals who buy mutual funds. These loans are managed by banks and other firms that specialize in servicing loans. If you have questions about the loan OR you are behind on your payments you should call your loan servicer at the number on your payment coupon or monthly statement.

I owe more that my property is worth. Do I still qualify to refinance under MHA?
Eligible loans include loans where the first mortgage will not exceed 105% of the properties’ current market value. Example: if your property is worth $200k, but you owe $210,000 or less, you may qualify. The current value of your property will be determined after you apply to refinance.

I have both a first and a second mortgage. Can I still qualify to refinance under MHA?
Borrowers with more than one mortgage may be eligible as long as the first mortgage is less than 105% of the value of the property. Eligibility will depend, in part, on agreement by the lender that holds the second mortgage to remain in a second position, and on your ability to meet the new payment terms on the first mortgage.

Will refinancing lower my payments?
The objective of the Home Affordable Refinance is to provide creditworthy borrowers who have shown a commitment to paying their mortgage the opportunity to get into a safe fixed rate mortgage with payments that are affordable today and sustainable for the life of the loan. You could see an immediate reduction in your payment if your rate is much higher than the current rates. But, if you’re paying on an interest only note, or have a low introductory rate that will increase in the future (variable rate), monthly payments may not go down if refinanced into a fixed rate, but may you avoid future payment increases AND you could save a great deal over the life of the loan. Your lender will give you a Good Faith Estimate that includes your new interest rate, mortgage payment and the amount you will pay over the life of the loan. Compare this to your current loan terms to see if it is an improvement. If not, then refinancing may not be right for you.

What is the interest rate and other terms of this refinance offer?
The objective of the refinance is to provide a fixed, affordable, and safe loan. There will be either a 15 or 30 term with fixed rate. The rate will be based on market rates in effect at the time of the refinance with any associated points & fees quoted by the lender. These rates may vary across lenders and over time as market rates adjust. The refinanced loans will not have prepayment penalties or balloon notes.

Will the amount owed on the loan be reduced?
No. Borrowers will be getting into safer, more affordable fixed rate loans. The principal amount owed to the first mortgage holder will not be reduced by refinancing. But the amount of interest repaid over the life of the loan will be reduced, saving you money.

Can I get cash out to pay other debts?
No. Only transaction costs, like the appraisal or title report fees, may be included in the refinanced amount.

How do I apply for a Home Affordable Refinance?
Call your mortgage servicer or lender and ask about the application process. PLEASE be patient. Detailed program requirements were just sent to lenders and servicers and it may take some time before they are ready to accept applications. Be prepared with your documents and information before you call.

What documentation will I need?
It's best to be prepared before you call. Have available:
* Household gross income (before tax), including recent pay stubs and/or other documentation of additional income sources
* Your most recent income tax return
* Information about any second mortgage on the house
* Account balances & minimum payments due on all credit cards
* Account balances & monthly payments on all other debts such as student loans and car loans.

If borrowers are delinquent on their mortgage, they will not qualify for the refinance plan.

Please call the office, 913-642-3334 with any questions or comments, or email me at We can provide insight and guidance to you and your specific financial picture.

Friday, March 13, 2009

THE NUMBERS GAME -- Your Credit Score

What do you consider the most important number in your life? Your social security number? Your birth date? Your phone number? While the majority of people don’t know this number, it pretty much rules your finances --- it’s your credit score.

A credit score is used by lenders in the decision making process of “if I give Person #1 a loan or credit card, how likely is it that Person #1 will pay me back on time?” This number is also called a risk score and is actually a statistical measure of the risk that a person will be able to repay the debt as agreed.

A good credit rating is essential these days if you plan on making a major purchase, apply for a credit card, or take out a loan. If your credit rating isn’t as positive as you’d like, there are ways to improve it.


There are three major credit reporting bureaus and you are entitled to one free report per agency, per year. And, the reported score may be a different number from one agency to the other. You also have the right to dispute any errors on the report(s). Request a written report to be sent to you:


You can always call any of us at the office,at 913-642-3334 or email me at for additional information on credit scores.


It’s been reported that nearly 80% of all credit reports contain at least one error! So, review your report carefully. Once you’ve identified any discrepancies, they’ll need to be eliminated. A dispute form usually accompanies the credit report (or request one from the website). Fill it out and send it back as Registered Mail. Documentation of each step you take is important, so keep a “paper trail”. And note that the law states that any item that is not verified as accurate must be removed from your report.


Now the mistakes are cleared up, but there are still a few blemishes that are yours. What next? Identify any debts that are still pending and make a plan for eliminating them. It takes time to clear up debt, so it’s important to start now. AND, you also have the legal right to add remarks to your file. This is an opportunity to defend yourself and also highlight the positive points in your report.


Consistent payments (small is fine, as long as it’s the minimum due) is key. Consistency proves you are responsible enough to repay loans as promised. Over time, that consistency outweighs the possible negatives on your report.


Check your credit information at least once a year to avoid any nasty surprises when you’re ready to make a major purchase.


It’s good to have a few open lines of credit, none max’ed out, and no more than what you can afford to pay off on your income. Cancel old cards you don’t use any more. BUT, do not use up one huge line of credit by putting your full amount of debt on it! Credit card issuers like to see no more than 30% of your limit accessed at one time. Prove your self control by having 2-4 lines of credit with a small or even no balance on each.

For help with any of your credit related questions please call me, 913-642-3334, or email me at

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Right now there’s a lot of confusion and big talk about the new government interventions in the mortgage and housing markets. The Obama administration hopes that two new programs should cut mortgage bills for up to 9 million homeowners who are having trouble making their monthly payments and there are also incentives that may pay down principal in some cases.

The government program has two parts:
* The Home Affordable Refinance
* The Home Affordable Modification.

PLEASE NOTE : The details of this program are not finalized! Most importantly, it remains 100% VOLUNTARY and mortgage servicers (the companies that collect the mortgage payments) are not obligated by law to follow these rules and guidelines…YET. Financial institutions who have already received government funding are not obligated to participate. However, financial institutions receiving new, or more, government funding in the FUTURE, WILL be obligated to participate.

SO, no one really knows yet who will participate and how it will all work from a practical standpoint. Most of the media news at this point is generally speculative. After reviewing the Making Home Affordable government program, I can share with you some insights you may find useful.


Three elements in the program:
* The government is offering financial incentives to mortgage servicers who modify loans for borrowers.
* Financial reimbursement is being offered to investors if they allow servicers to modify loans and then take a hit on the borrower’s re-default if the property declines in value after the loan modification.
* The government is offering incentives to borrowers who modify their loans and make their new payments on time.

Only primary residences are eligible, investment properties and vacation homes don’t qualify. Only borrowers who have experienced some sort of financial hardship can qualify. Borrowers will need to document that their current financial situation is worse than when the original loan was made. Income needs to have gone down, and/or expenses need to have gone up. The link provided will allow you to see if you qualify for at least the minimum requirements for the program:

Remember, even if you do qualify under these minimum requirements, your servicer might not be participating in the program yet.


Basics: You must be current on your mortgage payments (no late payments in
the past 12 months);
Your mortgage balance cannot exceed 105% of the current value of your home;
Your mortgage needs to be owned/guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac

Based on the current market conditions, a refinance might make sense for you IF:
You have an adjustable rate, interest only, or balloon mortgage that you
want to convert into a fixed rate; or
You have a fixed rate where the rate is 6% or greater. Actually, if your
rate is as low as 5.5%, I’ll put you into my rate watch program and let
you know when rates get to the point where it would benefit you to

Other Developments of Interest:

There has been some new government legislation impacting homeowners and first time home buyers:

* Home improvement tax credit
* First time home buyer tax credit
* Reverse mortgages for home purchase transactions (age 62 and older)
* Suspension of required minimum distributions for certain retirement accounts (age 70 ½ or older)

I’d be happy to discuss any of these programs with you. Call me at 913-642-3334 or email me at I can lend insight into the confusion of todays market and help you determine the mortgage and home buying choices right for you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I believe we need to downplay the media attitude of Chicken Little’s “the sky is falling”. All that happens is that we get emotional and become too stressed, affecting our relationships and daily activities. (Poor moods,depression,apathy)
This isn’t an ostrich move – putting your head in the sand and pretending the world away! It’s just the opposite. We must look to ourselves and focus on our own personal economy. We need to become financially responsible, so that we can accumulate enough wealth to care for loved ones, live comfortably into old age, and give generously to others.

Many financial advisors recommend having an emergency fund (no, not for the big screen TV you want) and paying down debt. Dave Ramsey suggests starting with a $1,000 emergency fund. Then begin focusing on paying off debt – the credit card or loan with the smallest balance first. Paying these off first gives you a sense of accomplishment and free’s up money to use to pay off the next debt on the list. The quicker the success, the more likely you’ll stay with the plan. After paying off a few of the bills, add to your emergency fund. Plan on having a buffer of 5-6 months of income. This fund is not an investment, it is insurance you pay to yourself!

When you have a plan, live on less than you make, and save money – you’re not in trouble. If you have no credit card debt and the card companies raise interest rates to 30%, you won't have the fears you may be experiencing now!

Given the current economic climate, it’s incredibly important to make sure you protect your largest asset – your ability to earn an income. Could you get by on half a paycheck? ( One of my trusted associates, Deb Clem-Buckert, can give you some insights into recession proofing yourself. She is with HighPointe Financial Group LLC and can be reached at 913-234-0397 or

Anytime you have questions, or comments on our blog, we're happy to hear from you. Email me at or call me at 913-642-3334. Have a blessed day.