American Pacific Mortgage

American Pacific Mortgage

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Interest Rate Update...Marathons and Calistoga!

Rates have hit record lows again! I feel like a broken record saying the same thing, over and over… Suffice it to say rates have hovered at or near record lows the last few months and at this point it appears only an economic recovery to spur inflation will cause them to rise. Here goes:

For 30-yr fixed-rate loans:
3.875% (under $417,000)
4.125% (over $417,000 up to $625,000)
4.75% (jumbo over $625,000)
For 5-yr ARM loans:
2.75% (under $417,000)
3.25% (over $417,000 including jumbo)

Rates vary depending on Loan-to-value, FICO scores, loan purpose , occupancy, and points.


I flew to the Bay Area to root for my daughter Katie as she ran a marathon in Santa Rosa the last weekend of August. She finished in a very respectable time under 4 hours, but missed her goal time to qualify for Boston. She’d experienced a quad pull earlier in the week, so was happy with her race.

We enjoyed exploring downtown Santa Rosa, but left for the drive over the hill to Calistoga after she recovered --for a little wine tasting.
Calistoga is one of our favorite places to relax and walk. Monday we visited Rombauer for chardonnay and zinfandel tastings, and then drove to the Frank Family Vineyards’ for a picnic and more tastings. Frank Family offers fine chardonnays, as well as champagnes. Both are family-owned and operated with some of the best wines in the valley.

Our dinner Monday was at Jolē, the farm-to-table restaurant located in the lobby of the historic Mt. View Hotel. The food was outrageous! We brought in our leftover wines to enjoy with dinner (you can’t take them with you) and they were gracious about letting us drink our wines with their food. Their heirloom tomato salad was fabulous.
We also recommend Brannen’s Grill, named for the founder of Calistoga.

Although we’ve stayed at the Mt. View in the past, we elected to stay at the recently renovated Stephenson Manor, a Best Western, which was more economical and offered larger and more comfortable accommodations.


The end of the summer has brought us thunderstorms, hailstorms, The Dana Pt. Tall Ships Festival, football…and weddings!
My eldest son Drew is marrying the lovely and talented MaryGrace this Saturday, so I will tell more about that event next time. I will see all three of my children together for the first time in almost two years this weekend. Kenny (best man) flies in from Spain, and Katie (bridesmaid) from Ann Arbor. Never a dull moment!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dog Days of Summer -- 2 Important Updates!

The Top News is interest rates have officially hit their lows of 2011 on the economic news...and we are very near last year's ALL-TIME lows.

Number Two News:

I have moved my office to 542 N. El Camino Real in San Clemente. New office phone is 949-373-7673 and my cell phone remains same at 714-290-6940. I am working out of a satellite office of Catalyst Lending, a full-service mortgage banker.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July - The Heat is On!

Rates continue to hit records lows, and property values are following suit. Sales volume appears to be picking up. Of course, this is the traditional buying season!

Reminder: if you’re holding onto a loan with a rate over 5.5%, you most likely should refinance. Rates are in the low 3’s for 5,7 and 10 year loans, and in the mid-4’s for 30 year fixed rates. Specific rates all depend on loan size, property value, and FICO score; and for loan approval you’ll need to offer up your firstborn child. NOT! But sometimes it feels that way these days!

Fun in the Sun:

Our Fourth of July was spent with old friends on their boat in the Dana Point Harbor. We kayaked around the harbor, and witnessed the water fights in the main channel where young and old alike—on all kinds and sized watercraft -- enjoyed splashing each other with power hoses, water guns, buckets of sea water, etc. What a sight to see!

We’ve attended the first two free concerts in the park here in Dana Point: a Fleetwood Mac cover band, and last week --the Parrot Heads. You’ve got to love Dana Point and all their community events. The parks offer harbor and ocean views in the Sunday afternoon sun while participants of all ages dance and socialize.

We’re loving summer. We had a short camping trip to Santa Barbara, where I crashed on my mountain bike. Then Steve and I explored the Jalama Beach Resort north of Gaviota, which we’d read about but never seen. It’s beautiful but very remote. We camped at our favorite spot in El Capitan. And, I’ve recovered from my knee injury!

Steve is still commuting to Dallas, and I’ll accompany him later this month. I hope it isn’t sweltering! At least I’ll have a swimming pool…What have you been up to

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First of Summer Update

Rates are moving south again! We’ve officially hit the lows of the 2011 on poor economic and employment reports. If you’ve been putting off a refinance, don’t wait. And, it is better than ever for home buyers with home values at a five-year low.

3% down, no Mortgage Insurance

Fannie Mae has a program for home buyers called Homepath, offering minimum down payments of 3% with no mortgage insurance, and no appraisal! This is for a new primary residence only, but they also allow 15% down for a rental property purchase. The program only applies to homes owned by Fannie Mae. Find out more at

Reverse Mortgage News

Reverse loans aren’t only for refinancing…they are becoming a more popular way for seniors to buy a “retirement” home or new primary residence. I actually closed a reverse mortgage purchase loan for a client a few years ago, and I was told it was the first in California.

Depending on the buyers’ ages (and they must be 62) these loans will provide anywhere from 60% to 75% of the purchase price in a reverse loan. The buyer must provide the balance of purchase price in cash, typically from the sale of their existing residence. Assuming they own their home outright, or have a low-balance mortgage, this frees up cash for investment/liquidity, and eliminates the need to “qualify” for the payments associated with a new mortgage.
Best of all, the rates are as low as 4% fixed.


I visited my son Kenny in early May in Berkeley. He was there to present a paper at a conference in the School of Architecture. We had only a few days together, but we had a great time, and glorious weather. I’d forgotten how beautiful the UC Berkeley campus is, with the creek running through it, rolling lawns, huge old trees, and expansive views down to the Bay and beyond, to the skyline of downtown San Francisco.

Our first stop Sunday was the outdoor deck of the Paragon Café at the Claremont Resort for an afternoon cocktail and a view of San Francisco in the distance. Afterwards, we took a stroll at the Cesar Chavez State Park on the Bay. During our time Monday, Kenny preferred to hang out in coffee houses, studying and talking to students.

We had dinner Monday evening at an old favorite, ẦCộté, a charming tapas restaurant in the Oakland Rockridge district, on College Avenue. It felt a little like old home week for me, since I had visited Berkeley so often while Katie was in school there.

This was my first sighting of Kenny since last September, when he left for Europe for his graduate program. So far, he’s been to Cottbus and Berlin, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; Lisbon, Portugal; Wroclaw, Poland, and London in-between. He’s been in each location for at least six weeks studying architecture at various universities participating in his program. He won’t be home until this September for his brother Drew’s wedding! Best Man...

Claremont Colleges

I’ve seen my daughter Katie, who lives in Ann Arbor, a number of times this spring around her visits here to Cali, most notably on her 27th birthday in April while she was out here with her team for water polo games in San Diego and Claremont. The Claremont campuses were wonderful to visit on a warm April Sunday. You sort of feel like you’re back East on an Ivy campus. Katie’s also been out to visit for Mothers’ Day and Memorial weekend. What a treat!

Local News

Sunset’s is still our favorite local haunt in Capo Beach. As the name implies, it has great sunset views and offers music and dancing every Thursday through Sunday. Walking distance from our home, we frequent it for happy hour, or after dinner and almost always run into friends there! They are hosting a special event this Saturday with music and dancing all day, a live band starting at 6:00 p.m. and a caribbean themed buffet with mojito and sangria bar. Join us!

The California Wine festival at Doheny State Beach, held the end of April, was a great time as usual. They hosted even more wineries than last year’s event, more breweries, and the food selections were fantastic! We found a new local restaurant that was serving a killer salmon ceviche…the Next Door. Steve and I visited the restaurant last week and sampled the ceviche, and bacon wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese. Yummy!

Steve continues to commute to Dallas regularly for consulting on Museum Tower, a high-rise luxury residential development. I’m planning to visit again soon, but in the meantime we have a camping trip planned to our favorite Beach campsite at El Capitan overlooking the Pacific with panoramic views. We take our kayak and bikes, and fill our days with exercise, reading, relaxing…and Steve paints. We are hoping for warm weather!

Hope your Memorial holiday weekend was wonderful! Happy June!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mortgage Rates under 3%!

Calling all mortgages with rates over 5.25%! 30 year fixed at 4.5% …

Today rates are below 3% for a 5-year ARM loan; and as low as 3.5% on a 7-year ARM, depending on loan size. It is harder to qualify for the 5-year loan than the 7-year, since the rates is bumped up for underwriting purposes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quick Rate Update for April

Rates have steadily improved during the month of April, and are hovering just on this year’s lows, while property values are also at their lows in most areas. Great time to buy, and also to refi!

Up to $417,000

5/1 ARM – 3.125%
15 YR FIXED – 4%
30 YR FIXED – 4.75%

$417,000 to $729,000

5/1 ARM – 3.5%
15 YR FIXED – 4.125%
30 YR FIXED – 4.75%

True Jumbo loans (over $729,500)

5/1 ARM – 3.875%
15 YR FIXED – 5%
30 YR FIXED – 5.5%

FHA rates are a bit lower, but they come with mortgage insurance which increases the monthly payment. That said, it is still possible to make a purchase up to $729,000 with as little as 3.5% down. WOW!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rates, Industry Updates, and Dallas Arts District

The mortgage market closed up yesterday by 52 bps, which is a nice improvement on news of the increased danger in Japan and an overall weaker economic outlook. Bad economic news = good news for interest rates.

Mortgage rates are currently running in the 4.75% to 5.125% range for 30 year fixed rate loans up to $729,000, depending on loan size, FICO score, loan to value and occupancy. Rates are lower for shorter terms, i.e. five, seven, and 15 year fixed terms.

The “conforming jumbo” program allowing lower rates for loans over $417,000 and up to $729,000 is scheduled to sunset this September 30th. The government could extend the deadline again, but it is unlikely given the fact that the government wants to get out of the business of guaranteeing mortgages. This is also a precursor for a sunset of the 30 year fixed rate loan. So, if you want one, get it now while they are still available. Rates will rise for those loans over the current conforming limit of $417,000 and it is possible that the limit could drop due to average home values having dropped since the limit went into place.

Dallas and the Arts

I visited Dallas last week to attend various events revolving around the Dallas Art Fair. Steve has been handling the marketing of a high rise luxury home project called “Museum Tower” that is closely aligned with the arts--both fine and performing-- in downtown Dallas.

We toured individual galleries; attended the Gala preceding the opening of the Art Fair; attended a private event at the Trammel Crow Asian Art Museum; had a private tour in the Dallas Museum of Art with the curator of the Gustav Stickley exhibit (think Craftsman home movement); and attended an event for the unveiling of a new sculpture at the Nasher Sculpture Garden. Amazing works of art and sculpture were all around us! I was floored by the sight of many famous pieces I’ve only seen in books.

All of the above were attended by lots of waiters offering food, champagne, wines, etc. Also attending were lots of beautiful and fascinating people. All I could say was WOW.

Dallas seems to have more trendy restaurants and bars within walking distance of the “Uptown” area and the “arts district” than anywhere I’ve been. And, those people love to party! I even had a glass of wine on the terrace of the fabled Mansion on Turtle Creek.

I can’t wait to go back to visit, and will follow up with more in-depth reports on hotels, museums, restaurants, the Katy Trail, etc. I even found a great 24 Hour Fitness downtown with a great Zumba class on Saturday morning…what could be better?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Springtime Mortgage News...and International Travel!

Spring is almost here, and I can’t tell you how happy I was to move the clock forward to enjoy more daylight! Rates are enjoying a little down-spring…due to market conditions following the tragedy in Japan. The stock market is off, so we are currently seeing improvement in interest rates across the board.

Please call me for specifics, as rates are all subject to adjustments for loan-to-value, loan purpose, FICO scores etc.

I have a number of clients who are planning remodels and/or upgrades to their homes. We are refinancing their current mortgages at lower or equivalent rates, to pull some cash out of their homes for completion of their home projects. Now is the time to move while rates are so attractive! Current fixed rates are lower than the rates for most HELOCs (Home Equity Lines of Credit) that adjust monthly and only have one way to go…up!

The other big news for loans is this: Although we don’t know exactly how it will look, or if it will go into effect on April 1st, loan officer compensation is scheduled to change. This will have an effect on the competitive pricing of your loan and ultimately is not in the best interest of the consumer.

Finally, the future of the 30 year fixed rate loan may be relatively short…so get it while you can. Projections of changes to the entire mortgage industry, and complete privatization of same (to get it off the taxpayer’s back) will mean a complete switch over to ARM loans. Banks don’t like to portfolio long term fixed rate loans. Period.

From Russia and Portugal…with love

Thanks to modern technology, I’ve had the unique experience of speaking via live video chat with Steve, who is currently in Russia on business, and with my son Kenny, who is in Lisbon with his graduate Architecture program. Yesterday I actually had both of them on my Gmail chat at the same time. Wow! One on video chat and the other on e-chat…

Steve is in Russia meeting with the developers of a luxury residential resort development in St. Petersburg, and had the opportunity to tour The State Hermitage museum among other historical sites.

Kenny is in Lisbon for six weeks and then off to Poland with his traveling school program. In the middle, he will be flying to UC Berkeley to present a paper at a conference entitled “The Death + Life of Social Factors,” A Conference Reexamining Behavioral and Cultural Research in Environmental Design. The conference is sponsored by the Berkeley Architecture Department and the College of Environmental Design.

He’s also writing articles for publication in a few international design magazines. He doesn’t let much grass grow under his feet!

I have been keeping the home fires going, working at my office and working out at the gym. My latest discovery is BT-Fitness, a new gym in San Clemente. The owners/trainers Adam and Kimberly are passionate about their work and expert trainers offering classes with TRX/Kettlebell and SPX/Proformer systems. Check them out at Great workouts!

Dana Point Whale Festival

I attended the beach concert in the Harbor last Sunday afternoon with friends. The close of the annual Whale Festival, this is always a super fun and casual event. Families and groups of friends hang out on the sand, and there is dancing both in and out of the water. Lots of smaller water craft float around the barge where the bands play at Baby Beach.

After the concert my friends and I walked over to the island in the Harbor to check out the new Island Bar at Aventura.
The restaurant is located above the Aventura Sailing Club with nice views of the Harbor and the ocean. They have live music Thursday through Sunday. We listened to the Flock of 80’s, a favorite of mine and a local San Clemente group who play around South County regularly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rates Have Improved!

Interest rates have slowly improved since February 10th…here are the details:

Loan amounts of $150,000 to $729,500

30 YR fixed - 4.75 to 4.875%
15 YR fixed – 4.125% to 4.375% depending on loan size
5/1 ARM - 3.375% to 3.625% depending on loan size

Jumbo loan amounts – over $729,500

30 YR fixed - 5.625%
5/1 ARM - 4.25%

Rates are down and so are home prices…what are you waiting for?

I’m looking forward to the Oscars…who are you rooting for? Hmmm-- The Social Network, The King’s Speech, or the Black Swan to name a few?

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Year's State of the Union for the Mortgage Industry

I survived January with only a short bout with the flu. Unfortunately I’m not sure how the mortgage industry is going to survive the continuing wave of regulation from Washington. To quote my market research source, at

“After the collapse of the mortgage and housing markets there is a push to make changes based on beliefs that servicers have not done their job well, and are responsible for extending the housing recovery. A long stretch, but that is what the industry has dealt with for the last three years; beat up the lenders but don’t tread on Wall Street as the fuel for the housing market disaster . Blame it on brokers, blame it on servicers, blame it on anyone and don’t let the smoke clear. We don’t really have to say it for our audience; originators didn’t make an Alt A loan or most of the junk originated unless they had an upstream market to sell it to.”

So, who is ultimately taking the fall for all this? The consumer, of course. It is much harder to qualify for a loan. Even if you are qualified! You’d better have perfect credit or you’ll be paying a lot more in interest rate for that new loan. You’d better have adequate equity, or refinancing is more difficult, and more costly in rate, if not impossible; your tax returns need to reflect adequate income, and it had better not be declining.

Your loan modification chances are next to nil, even though the erosion of your property value was completely out of your control and you’ve made all your payments in a timely fashion (almost worse!) but you can’t qualify for a normal refinance due to lack of equity.

I could go on and on…the government programs that were forced onto the banks (after paying them lots of bail-out $$) are parsed out in a very limited basis, and only those who scream loudest are heard, and oftentimes not even then.

Some surmise that only a few mega banks will survive… which doesn’t make for a better deal for the consumer. Who is the real winner in all this? The banks. They pay less, and their agents don’t need the licensing etc. the rest of us brokers/mortgage bankers do. Their profits are rising.

Enough whining today! Enjoy Superbowl. Go Black Eyed Peas!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Interest Rates, Napa Valley and Private Planes

Quick Rate Update:

Not much change, but the markets didn’t react favorably to the State of the Union so rates were slightly worse yesterday, with slight improvement today.
30 Yr fixed rates range from 4.75% to 5% depending on loan size; 15 year rates are slightly lower, and 5-yr arms still hovering in the 3.25% to 3.5% range. All rates and programs are sensitive to FICO score, loan-to-value, reason for financing (purchase, refinance, cash-out) and occupancy type. Underwriting guidelines continue to contract and become more conservative. (!)

Napa Valley Report

We flew to the Bay area for a weekend of wine tasting with Steve’s sisters and their spouses over the Martin Luther King Holiday, which happens to coincide with Steve’s birthday. The most exciting part was flying up and back in a private plane owned by Steve’s younger sister and her husband, who is a pilot. Our “ride” was a four seater and my first comment upon seeing it was “we’re flying in that?” Everyone laughed. Although I’d flown in private planes in the past, nothing quite this small. They all assured me size doesn’t matter! The flight from Carlsbad took two and ½ hours, and was pretty amazing. The weather was clear and we could see forever. We hit a couple of bumpy sports over the grapevine but nothing major.

We took off in a van the next morning for Napa. First stop was Clos Pegase, where we tasted and bought a few bottles for our picnic on their lovely grounds. They have an amazing art collection, and offer tours twice a day. I heartily recommend visiting them. Next stop: Cuvaison, home of a favorite chardonnay. We then headed up into the hills for a private tour and tasting at the O’Shaughnessy Winery, which was a real treat. They offer really “big” reds and an enormous cave build into the hill, including a private dining room and private wine collection to boot.

Afterwards we drove up to our friends’ home on the hill above Calistoga for a glimpse of sunset accompanied by more wine and cheese before heading off to dinner at Brannan’s Grill downtown Calistoga. We had a lovely dinner and enjoyed listening to live jazz. I found out the restaurant is named for the founder of Calistoga, who named the city for its springs, e.g. the “Saratoga Springs” of California, hence Calistoga!

Sunday morning we visited Rombauer – our favorite Chardonnay – and then lunched at Frank Family Vineyards. Our final stop of the day was a tour and tasting at Schramsburg. Their sparkling wines are the best!

Back in Palo Alto, we dined at Trader Vic’s, which is an institution there. Our return Monday was delayed due to heavy fog, and we finally took off after 2:00 in the afternoon. Luckily our pilot Chuck is instrument-rated, so we could have left earlier-- but we waited for better viz. Our flight home was entirely beautiful and uneventful and we arrived to witness a fabulous sunset just behind Catalina before landing. What Fun!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2 Exciting New Mortgage Products!

There are many big changes on the horizon this year. First and foremost, there are two great improvements to programs:

Jumbo Reverse loans

Yes, they are back! We are going to be offering new jumbo reverse loans as high as $5,000,000 for high value homes. This is great news for many Orange County homeowners, since the FHA loan products currently available “cap out” at a $625,000 value.

Make Sense Underwriting – Asset based loan programs

Second, we have a new loan program offering loans to $5,000,000 that are asset based, for purposes of determining income and loan amount eligibility. They will also take assets as “pledged” additional security for loan amounts up to 90% LTV.

For example, if you have assets of $1,000,000 and are 50 years old, you are imputed with monthly income of $5000 a month in addition to income reflected on tax returns. If you have assets of $2,000,000 you are awarded an additional $10,000 a month in income. This “imputed” income is used to determine your eligibility for a refinance or purchase loan. The loans are all 5-, 7- or 10- year terms at competitive rates. THIS IS GREAT NEWS!

Financial planners especially like these programs since the assets are maintained “under management” even if pledged toward the new loan, and if they appreciate substantially they may be released.

Loan Officer Compensation

Last, but certainly not least, the manner in which originators will be paid is up for interpretation at present, due to new legislation l due to go into effect April 1st. No one knows for certain how it’s going to actually work.

Legislators have attempted to cap or limit the fees earned by loan originators so a flat amount per loan. Think of it as a stockbroker or salesman or any other individual paid on a commission basis having their gross commission per transaction limited to a fixed amount. Sound strange? Talk about too much regulation!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Holidays are Over, and so are Record Low Rates!

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Mine was filled with lots of fun as well as stress, but more about that later!

Interest rates have moved higher. The uptick in rates was very sudden in mid-November, and appears to be the result of improvement in the economy coupled with anticipated increasing inflation. There is also the spectre of higher yields demanded by investors to fund the burgeoning budget deficit.

Rates are up approximately 1/2% to 3/4% across the board…which is quite a jump. That said, we are still looking at fixed rates that should continue this year in the 4.25% to 5.25% range which are very low relative to the last 25+ years.
Home affordability index should continue to be high this year. Low home values coupled with rates in the low end of the range make this a great time to buy… and I encourage you, your children and friends to act in 2011.

This year may not be as attractive for refinancing...but much depends on your individual circumstances and current loan program/rate. If you are still on a 5/1 arm due to reset soon, now is the time to act.

We are still dealing with a massive number of foreclosures on the market with more to come at an accelerating pace. It is likely we’ll see more foreclosures in 2011 than 2010. In many markets, over one-third of all housing sales are distress sales, either houses that were in foreclosure, or short sales or some similar non-normal situation. This will continue to keep values down.

Can you identify the Waterfall?

My holidays started with a turkey feast in Ann Arbor with my daughter and her friends, followed by an intimate Thanksgiving Day at my mother’s home, and finally a third Turkey Fest Friday evening after Thanksgiving in Oceanside with Steve’s family. I was entirely turkeyed out!

December brought an extended visit from my daughter Katie, an engagement party for my son Drew and his fiancé Mary Grace, brief hospitalization of Steve in Colorado, (he’s fine now) a minor flood at my mother’s home, and finally Christmas!
We rang in the New Year with a group of old friends at the Balboa Yacht Club and had a blast, complete with slumber party afterwards.

Finally, the waterfall in Dana Point Harbor was flowing again with all the rains before and after Christmas, and I won a bet for a bottle of wine with a co-worker who took this picture of the falls and challenged me to identify it…not realizing I ride my bike in the harbor on a regular basis and have seen it myself during rainy periods!

I wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2011!