REFinBlog

Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

December 21, 2016

Promissory Note v. Mortgage

By David Reiss

photo by Thugvillage

 

Zing! quoted me in What’s the Difference Between a Promissory Note and a Mortgage? It opens,

Buying a home can sometimes feel like learning a new language. Preapprovals, appraisals and the fact that “concessions” don’t involve hot dogs at a baseball game can be more than a little bewildering for first-time homebuyers. If you’re in the market for a mortgage, the more you know, the more confident you’ll be with each transaction during the life of the loan. If you find yourself scratching your head over mortgage lingo, we’d like to make your contract a little clearer by explaining two items that are often confused for one another: a promissory note and a mortgage.

What’s a Promissory Note?

Essentially, a promissory note is an agreement that promises that the money borrowed from a lender will be paid back by the borrower. “It also includes how the loan is to be repaid, such as the monthly amount and the length of time for repayment,” explains David Bakke, a finance expert at MoneyCrashers.com.

Although the home loan process involves both a mortgage and a promissory note, a promissory note can be used singularly in a lending relationship between two individuals. In this case, a promissory note is simply a promise to pay back the amount of money that is borrowed in a set amount of time.

“Another way to think of it is that the promissory note is the IOU for the home loan,” says David Reiss, who teaches about residential real estate as a law professor at Brooklyn Law School in New York.

What Is a Mortgage?

The second part of the home loan involves a mortgage, also referred to as a deed of trust. While a promissory note provides the financial details of the loan’s repayment, such as the interest rate and method of payment, a mortgage specifies the procedure that will be followed if the borrower doesn’t repay the loan.

“The actual home loan (or mortgage) provides information as far as the lender being able to demand complete repayment if the loan goes into default, or that the property can be sold if the buyer fails to repay,” says Bakke.

In the case of a home loan, the promissory note is a private contract between the client and the lender, while the mortgage is filed in the regional government records office. “Once you have paid off your loan your lender will record a document that releases you from the liability of the deed of trust and the promissory note,” says Ross Kilburn, CEO of Ark Law Group, PLLC.

It’s a Package Deal

In the home loan process, a mortgage and a promissory note are not a question of one or the other, but rather, both play distinct roles in the relationship between the lender and borrower. “A home loan refers to a transaction where a borrower borrows money from the lender and in turn signs a promissory note that reflects the indebtedness as well as a mortgage that gives a security interest in the home in case the debt is not paid back,” explains Reiss.

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December 21, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments

December 20, 2016

Light Bloggin’ Through The New Year

By David Reiss

snow-falling-at-night

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December 20, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments

Tuesday’s Regulatory & Legislative Roundup

By Jamila Moore

  • Brooklyn housing advocates can rest easy! A Bushwick developer has finally agreed to set aside 20% of the housing units as affordable housing.
  • Investors are shifting their stock purchases to real estate to ensure they receive income from their stocks.

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December 20, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments

December 19, 2016

Negotiating Real Estate Fees

By David Reiss

office-negotiationPolicyGenius quoted me in 5 Mortgage Loan Fees and Rates You Should Always Negotiate. It opens,

When it comes to making major purchases or financial decisions, we always hear that mantra, “Everything is negotiable.” You can haggle with the salesman when shopping for a new car, or with the hiring manager at a new job over your starting salary. It’s even possible to negotiate your tuition rates as a college student.

But a lot of the costs associated with buying a house can be difficult to negotiate down, according to mortgage advisor and author Casey Fleming.

“Appraisal, underwriter and processor are chosen by the lender, and the variation in fees is quite small,” he says. “Escrow and title services are typically chosen by the real estate agent of the seller in most areas, so the buyer has little say in what those fees will be.”

There’s also not much way around paying private mortgage insurance — you’ll need no less than a 20% down payment to avoid it.

But, you don’t need to let the non-negotiable items prevent you from bargaining for a better deal on other house-hunting costs. Here are a few fees and costs worth negotiating:

Real estate broker’s fees and commissions

From the outset, consider negotiating your real estate broker’s fees, according to Prof. David Reiss of the Brooklyn Law School, who teaches real estate finance and community development. “If 6% is standard in your community, you can look for brokers who will sell your home for 5% or less,” he says. “Be careful how low to go though, because you want your broker to be motivated enough to sell your property.”

Reiss notes that to gain the most advantage in negotiating their fees, your broker’s listing agreement should outline all the services they’ll provide you regarding advertisements, showing, and the plan in place to buy or sell the property in question.

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December 19, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments

Monday’s Adjudication Roundup

By Jamila Moore

  • A Boston cab mogul is in legal trouble again after escaping jail time and being sentence to probation for his prior behavior. However, a Boston real estate developer will not let him off the hook for the mogul abandoning their 145 million dollar property deal.
  • A California jury convicted four real estate investors due to their devious involvement in California’s foreclosure auctions. This bidding scheme involved over 100 properties in the San Francisco area.
  • Commonwealth Insurance Company is relieved because a New York court freed the company from a 100 million dollar suit.

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December 19, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments

December 16, 2016

Muddled Future for Fannie & Freddie

By David Reiss

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The United States Government Accountability Office released a report, Objectives Needed for the Future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac After Conservatorships.  The GAO’s findings read a bit like a “dog bites man” story — stating, as it does, the obvious:  “Congress should consider legislation that would establish clear objectives and a transition plan to a reformed housing finance system that enables the enterprises to exit conservatorship. FHFA agreed with our overall findings.” (GAO Highlights page) I think everyone agrees with that, except unfortunately, Congress.  Congress has let the two companies languish in the limbo of conservatorship for over eight years now.

Richard Shelby, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, asked the GAO to prepare this report in order to

examine FHFA’s actions as conservator. This report addresses (1) the extent to which FHFA’s goals for the conservatorships have changed and (2) the implications of FHFA’s actions for the future of the enterprises and the broader secondary mortgage market. GAO analyzed and reviewed FHFA’s actions as conservator and supporting documents; legislative proposals for housing finance reform; the enterprises’ senior preferred stock agreements with Treasury; and GAO, Congressional Budget Office, and FHFA inspector general reports. GAO also interviewed FHFA and Treasury officials and industry stakeholders (Id.)

The GAO’s findings are pretty technical, but still very important for housing analysts:

In the absence of congressional direction, FHFA’s shift in priorities has altered market participants’ perceptions and expectations about the enterprises’ ongoing role and added to uncertainty about the future structure of the housing finance system. In particular, FHFA halted several actions aimed at reducing the scope of enterprise activities and is seeking to maintain the enterprises in their current state. However, other actions (such as reducing their capital bases to $0 by January 2018) are written into agreements for capital support with the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and continue to be implemented.

In addition, the change in scope for the technology platform for securitization puts less emphasis on reducing barriers facing private entities than previously envisioned, and new initiatives to expand mortgage availability could crowd out market participants.

Furthermore, some actions, such as transferring credit risk to private investors, could decrease the likelihood of drawing on Treasury’s funding commitment, but others, such as reducing minimum down payments, could increase it.

GAO has identified setting clear objectives as a key principle for providing government assistance to private market participants. Because Congress has not established objectives for the future of the enterprises after conservatorships or the federal role in housing finance, FHFA’s ability to shift priorities may continue to contribute to market uncertainty. (Id.)

One finding seems particularly spot on to me. As I wrote yesterday, it appears as if the FHFA is not focusing sufficiently on building the infrastructure to serve secondary mortgage markets other than Fannie and Freddie.  It seems to me that a broader and deeper bench of secondary mortgage market players will benefit the housing market in the long run.

 

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December 16, 2016 | Permalink | No Comments