closing (15)


Another milestone reached by the mortgage industry reform: the end of the  disclosure forms confusion! Provided to those applying for a mortgage, these forms were originally created based on two separate federal statutes: Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). The duplicate information as well as erratic language of these two separate documents, lead to an immense amount of confusion. Apart from those two documents, there were also two sets of disclosures: one provided when applying for a mortgage, and the other provided at the closing or just prior to closing on the loan. The consumers weren’t the only ones confused -even the lenders had a difficult time completing the forms. Basically, if the lenders weren’t even able to understand the verbiage, how could they possibly explain the documents to the consumers? 

[Update: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a proposal to delay the effective date of the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule until Oct. 1.Click here to read more.]

The resolve (hopefully) . . two new, straight-forward disclosure forms. This change will apply to all consumer mortgage applications received on or after August 1, 2015. The change is currently being referred to as “TRID,” for TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure.

The changes . . In a Nutshell

♦ With TILA, lenders use a uniform system for disclosures, including the same credit terminology.

♦ The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) applies to any federally related mortgage loan, generally including any loan secured by a first or subordinate lien on family residential property (1-4 units).

♦ CFPB was responsible for integrating the existing disclosure requirements with the new amended requirements by combining the RESPA and TILA disclosures.

♦ The integrated mortgage disclosures use language that is designed to help consumers better understand the mortgage loan closing transaction.

♦ The new “Loan Estimate” form integrates and replaces the existing RESPA Good Faith Estimate (GFE) and the initial Truth in Lending forms.

♦ The new “Closing Disclosure” form integrates and replaces the existing RESPA HUD-1 and the final Truth in Lending forms.

♦ The integrated disclosure rule does not apply to HELs, reverse mortgages, mobile homes and dwellings not attached to real property, or for those making 5 or less mortgage loans per year.

♦ The definition of an “application” has been changed; now, an application consists of six pieces of information which are submitted.

♦  Consumers can’t be charged for fees until after they’ve been given the Loan Estimate form and consumers have agreed to proceed with the transaction.

♦ The Loan Estimate is provided to the consumer within 3 business days after submitting a mortgage loan application.

♦ There are only six legitimate reasons for revisions to a Loan Estimate form.

♦ The Closing Disclosure form integrates and replaces the existing RESPA HUD-1 and the final Truth in Lending disclosure forms.

♦ A Closing Disclosure is provided to the consumer so that they have a 3 business day waiting period before closing on the mortgage loan.

♦ There is now a three business day requirement once the consumer has received the Closing Disclosure, representing a waiting period for the consumer to review the disclosure.

♦ The lender now has all the liability for preparation and delivery of the Closing Disclosure form, even if they allow the escrow company to do it.

♦ The new Integrated Disclosures must be provided by a lender or mortgage broker that receives an applicationfrom a consumer for a closed-end credit transaction secured by real property on or after August 1, 2015.

♦ For a Loan Estimate, a “business day” is a day on which the lender’s offices are open to the public for carrying out business functions.

♦ For a Closing Disclosure, a “business day” includes all calendar days except Sundays and legal holidays.

♦ The Loan Estimate must be delivered or placed in the mail no later than the 3rd business day from receipt of the mortgage loan application.

♦ The Closing Disclosure must be placed in the mail no later than the 7thbusiness day before consummation of the loan.

♦ The “Your Home Loan Toolkit: A Step-by-Step Guide” replaces the HUD Settlement Cost Booklet.

Key Points derived from The CE Shop “RESPA/TILA Changes: Are you Ready?” course. Right now the course is completely free when you use the promotional code (respafree) at check out. No credit card info is required.



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Just Sold! 1817 Anhalt Dr, Madison Wisconsin 53704

We are happy to announce a sale for another Madison Wisconsin Rock Realty home seller!

This home was the perfect little tri-level on Madison's East Side. The buyers got a great price on this bank accepted short sale. Congratulations to the buyers and our sellers on this successful Madison short sale transaction!

If you are thinking of selling or buying a home in Wisconsin, our home buyer specialists would be happy to assist you. Give Rock Realty a call at 877-774-7625. We are a full service real estate brokerage.

 Search Madison Wisconsin MLS Listings


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If you have your REO Systems in place and you are experiencing growth, have you considered an REO Team?


If so, what would you consider looking for as you build your team? I have just chosen three tips for this post. There are many more, but I find that these three are important to building a successful REO business.


1. Experience

2. Education

3. Integrity


How much experience does the potential member have in doing BPO’s? What asset companies have they dealt with and for how long? What about tasks such as Utility set up and ordering services from your vendors? When it comes to the closing transaction tasks, how much experience do they have in dealing with escrow/title companies, lenders and co-agents? These are just a few of the question you should consider when building your REO team.

This is important because the REO market is different for every REO agent. And it is crucial to have a good amount of experience in dealing with asset companies, asset managers, banks, title companies, lenders and other REO agents. I have found that there is a basic flow to an REO transaction, but sometimes there are exceptions. And I have found that learning from that exception, adds to my REO experience. And I can add this to my REO process to reach a successful transaction.


Training is so vitally important. Would you consider adding a team member to your business who already has been trained on various REO portals or someone who you have to train? Time is critical, especially when it comes to tasks such as BPOs or determining occupation status. Do they know the criteria for searching for comps for the BPO?

And when it comes to the contract to close tasks, how much training does the team member have in using various online transaction management systems? Such as EbrokerHouse, SettlementRoom, RELAY, TransactionDesk, TAZAREO, and others? Again, your time is important and having a member who is proficient in using these systems will save you time and money.


Enough can’t be said about this topic. Simply put, everyone needs to be honest in their business dealings with one another. I feel that this is a foundation in a truly successful business. If a member is cutting corners to try to get the job done, it will come out in the end. Just a quick example. If a bid (quote) is submitted by a vendor for a repair on the REO property, don’t change the amount when submitting it to the asset company. I have known of this to happen and the person did think they were getting away with it. And since it was just a small amount in the beginning, it was not discovered. So the person felt safe and increased their bid amounts. But when the asset company discovered this, all monies had to be refunded for all of the bids. And of course that agent lost their business with that asset company. A hard but powerful lesson.

I hope these few tips: Experience, Education and Integrity can help you in your search for a successful REO Team.

To your business success!



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Happy Short Sale Seller

Rock Realty Client Testimonials

"I had a very challenging home sale and Mike Collins was diligent every step of the way. The most difficult aspect may have been me, I was very specific about which closing dates worked and how I wanted to proceed. Mike patiently answered all of my questions and accommodated all of my requests. When issues between the title and mortgage companies arose, Mike was a swift and competent negotiator. I know that the buyer's agent was very impressed with Mike as well. My house had an accepted offer within 10 days of listing. I am amazed that it all went so smoothly. THANKS MIKE!"

John B.(Madison, WI)
Rock Realty Seller Client

Rock Realty Client Testimonials

Thanks for the compliments, and Congratulations on your closing John!

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Front-Yard-e1357247853719.jpg?width=300We are happy to announce the closing on another one of our short sale listings, this time in Madison, WI! This was a Bank of America negotiated short sale. Bank of America has made many changes to make their short sale process easier and more efficient. Short sale transactions can be complex, but if you have an experienced Short Sale Realtor® the process is much more manageable.

This was a beautiful home, at a great price that the new owners are sure to enjoy! If you are thinking of selling or buying a short sale home in Wisconsin, our short sale specialists would be happy to assist you. Give Rock Realty a call at 608-921-8536.

Is a Short Sale right for my situation??

If you are considering the possibility of a short sale for your home and have further questions, feel free to visit the page below:

Is a Short Sale right for My Home?

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First Time Home BuyerThe real estate industry is just like any other major industry segment. The people that work within the industry use specific phrases and words that are not too common in other types of work. Understanding some of the common jargon will help first time buyers feel a little more comfortable with the process.


Mortgage – This is a loan that provides the financing for the purchase of a home. Buyers will sign a promissory note that explains the terms of the loan. The interest rate, amount borrowed and number of payments required to repay the debt are all laid out in this document. A mortgage is different from a car loan or a credit card since a piece of property is used as collateral for the loan.

Appraisal – This is a report that explains the home's value. A professional appraiser will inspect the home and then compare it to other similar homes in the nearby area. Based on common criteria such as location, square footage, age and amenities the appraiser assigns a market value to the property. This is slightly different from a home inspection. A home inspection is designed to point out any areas in need of repair or replacement. An appraisal simply decides how much a home is worth as it currently stands.

Contingency – These are requirements spelled out in the real estate contract that must be completed or met in order for the sale to go through.

For instance, most contracts will have a contingency concerning the appraisal. If the home is not worth the sales price then the buyer may be able to get out of the contract.

Escrow – This refers to the funds, assets or securities being held by a third party separate from the buyer and seller. The buyer will place funds in escrow as proof that they wish to go forward with the sale. Once the seller has met the conditions of the contract the funds will be released.

Disclosures – The buyer must be informed of various details by the seller prior to the purchase. Each area will have slightly different requirements for the disclosures in their location. An example would be the location of a home in a known flood zone. This would affect the homeowner's insurance and could affect the buyer's ability to pay.

Closing – This is the last phase of the property purchase. All parties involved in the transaction will meet at either an attorney's office or an escrow agent's office (title company). The seller, buyer, and any attorney will typically attend the closing. At the closing the seller will receive funds for the transaction and the buyer will sign the necessary documents for the loan. The deed will be transferred from seller to buyer. Finally, the closing costs will be paid based on the agreed terms in the contract.

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Anyone with experience in short sales and REO's know the bank requires proof in writing that the buyer has the necessary funds for the purchase of the property. If the buyer is paying cash I have always advised them to obtain a letter from their bank stating they have the necessary funds for the transaction.

In a recent short sale where I had the listing, the buyer submitted a letter from his bank signed by the Vice President of Banking which included his contact number and email.

Short Sale Proof of Funds

The negotiator with the bank would not accept the letter as proof of funds and asked for a copy of the buyer's account statment. His reason was the wording "access to cash currently on deposit". He said the buyer could move these funds from this account into another account at any time. I responded by saying the buyer could still move funds from an account after he gets a copy of the bank statement. He simply said "A bank statement would be different".

I understand an actual copy of the bank statement is a harder proof of funds, but if there is any issue, the negotiator could call the Vice President and get clarification. If the letter was truly a fraud then what would be the end game? Not closing? I don't understand why banks are making the process more difficult than it has to be. In this case, it ended up being an acceptable offer and went to closing.

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Rock Realty Client Testimonials

"My first listing contract (with another agency) expired without a single showing. I contacted Mike Collins hoping to get some straight advice about whether he thought the property would ever sell versus letting the lender foreclose on the property and save my mortgage payments for legal counsel. He was upfront from day one. He told me that it would take a while and that I'd probably have to hold it through the winter (I called him in September) but it would probably sell in the spring. His honesty made me immediately willing to hire him. He found a buyer in May and worked with my lender to close the sale in record time."

Drew V.(Marshall, WI)
Rock Realty Client

Rock Realty Client Testimonials

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Marshall Short Sale ClosingWe are happy to announce that last week we had another successful Wisconsin short sale closing, this time in Marshall. As you have likely heard, short sale transactions can be complex, and an experienced Short Sale Realtor® is a must.

This was a great home that the new owner is sure to enjoy! If you are thinking of selling or buying a short sale home in Wisconsin, our short sale specialists would be happy to assist you. Give Rock Realty a call at 877-774-7625.

Or, if you are considering a short sale for your home, feel free to fill out our no obligation

Short Sale Home Evaluation Form

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If you have a home loan through Bank of America and you are currently concerned about making your payments or your home is worth less than you owe, you may qualify for a short sale incentive from BoA. They refer to it as an 'enhanced relocation assistance payment'. To qualifying home owners/sellers, this could mean a check given to you for up to $30,000 after a successful short sale closing! Trust me, this is no scam. Here is a recent email that was sent to Bank of America Short Sale Specialists, like myself.

BoA Short Sale Incentive at Closing Letter

My name is Michael Collinsreal estate agent and broker at Rock Realty. If you are currently considering a short sale in Wisconsin, I would be happy to walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have. I am certified as a Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource through the WRA.

Realtors® who have earned the SFR certification know how to help sellers maneuver the complexities of short sales as well as help buyers pursue short sale and foreclosure opportunities. The certification program includes training on how to qualify sellers for short sales, negotiate with lenders, protect buyers, and limit risk. Call my cell at 608-921-8536 and we can see if you qualify for any of these incentives.

Is a Short Sale right for My Home?Also feel free to fill out our simple
Short Sale Home Evaluation Form

Additional Short Sale Information

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If you receive a letter from Chase Bank stating that you are eligible for a short sale incentive, please do not throw it away. It is not a scam. Distressed home owners have been receiving these letters for over a year now, and guess what? They are the real deal!

Real estate agents and Realtors® have been reporting that their clients are getting large checks cut to them at closing. In some cases, as much as $30,000! Yes, Chase Bank is not only forgiving the debt on a short sale, they are giving the current sellers/owners a check at closing. Don't believe it? See an example letter below:

Chase Short Sale Incentive Letter

My name is Michael Collins. If you are currently considering a short sale in Wisconsin, I would be happy to walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have. I am certified as a Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource through the WRA. REALTORS® who have earned the SFR certification know how to help sellers maneuver the complexities of short sales as well as help buyers pursue short sale and foreclosure opportunities. The certification program includes training on how to qualify sellers for short sales, negotiate with lenders, protect buyers, and limit risk. Call my cell at 608-921-8536 and we can see if you qualify for any of these incentives.

Original Post -
Chase Bank Short Sale Seller Incentive

Additional Short Sale Information


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No Money Down USDA Mortgage

USDA MortgagesUnderstanding the No Money down USDA Mortgage

Buying a home in Wisconsin with no down payment is still a reality thanks to the USDA program.  The Rural Development section of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made great strides in the past two years to educate loan officers and potential borrowers of the benefits of this program.  The mortgage offered by the USDA is quite different from other programs and is a great way for people to purchase a home without a costly down payment.

Mortgage Insurance

Unlike conventional loans and FHA loans, the USDA loan does not require any mortgage insurance.  This means that every dollar of every payment is going towards the principal, the interest or the escrow for the home.

Closing Costs Paid by Seller

A conventional loan allows the seller to pay closing costs up to 3% of the purchase price.  Similarly, FHA will allow the seller to pay closing costs up to 6% of the purchase price.  However, USDA has no limit on the amount that can be paid by the seller.  This means it is possible to find a house and purchase it without paying a down payment or any closing costs.

Property Location

In order to be considered for the USDA loan a home must be located in an area designated as rural by the USDA.  However, would it surprise you to learn that of the 72 counties listed in Wisconsin, 50 of those counties are considered rural?  And the remaining 22 counties have sections that are considered rural. This means that there are numerous homes that could be eligible for this type of loan.

Income Limits

There are also some limits on the person’s income.  The USDA bases the limits on the total number of people that will occupy a home.  For example, a family made up of a mom, dad, and three children under the age of 18 will be allowed more income than just a married couple.  A Wisconsin loan officer can look up the limits for each county and let you know if you meet the guidelines.

Loan Limits

The maximum amount allowed for a USDA loan is different for each county in Wisconsin.  However, the limits are very liberal.  Some counties, such as Ozaukee and Dane, will allow qualifying borrowers to get a loan up to $230,000.

Not For Select Buyers

Some people are under the impression that the USDA loan is only for Wisconsin borrowers looking for their first home.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  People buying their first home or their fifth home can use the USDA loan.  The only stipulation is that the property must be the borrower’s primary residence.

It has been mentioned in the news a lot in the past three years that mortgage rates are at an all-time low.  When rates are so low it is only a matter of time before they start to rise.  Take the opportunity to talk to a Wisconsin loan officer and find out if you can get a home using the USDA loan.

This communication is provided to you for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon by you. Rock Realty is not a mortgage lender and so you should contact a USDA lender directly to learn more about its mortgage products and your eligibility for such products.

Original Post - Understanding the No Money Down USDA Mortgage

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10 Reasons Why Your REO Grade Could Be Low.

Brokers and agents often wonder why they receive such a low rating with REO Banks and Asset Management Companies. Instead of looking at their past output and current REO Process from assignment to closing. All asset managers want to feel like they are #1 and the only  client on your list. If your rating has fallen and you have not received any new or very limited properties from the REO bank and Asset Management Company, the following is a list of possible reasons why per several of the AMs I talk to often.

1.       Not following instructions!

2.       Your follow-up timeframe does not exceed the expectations of the asset manager. Are your taking more than 24 hours to verify the occupancy of the dwelling?

3.       Initial BPO and updated BPOs. Is it taking you longer than 48 hours to complete the BPOs? REO Banks such as GMAC expect 48 hours or less. Yes, we all see the 7 day turnaround time in EQUATOR but it needs to be completed much sooner.  No asset manager wants to see your task in red or yellow. Otherwise, your grade will be affected.

4.       Cash for Keys – How many CFKs have you successfully negotiated and if your are not successful, have you improved your CFK negation skills? Work on it!

5.       Are you following the bidding process and guidelines established by the asset company or are you making your own and trying to set your own rules to the requirements? If your are setting your own rules, you will get a low grade.

6.       Reimbursements – Each company has guidelines that list how the reimbursement must be submitted and a list of all supporting documents that are required. Are you submitting the requirements?

7.       Are you submitting estimates, bids, proposals, and statements in place of invoices? Shame on you. There is a big difference between an Invoice and the other items listed above.

8.       Setting the Price Right! Surprisingly, most asset manager use your expertise to set the price unless, you have a growing history of over and under pricing.

9.       Days on the Market (DOM) – Do you have properties on the MLS for more than 60 days? This is a big NO! NO! Work on getting the property more exposure. Don’t rely only on the MLS and Craig’s List. Post the property on 50+ sites (most free), and create a viewing report monthly for the AM. Additionally, add more than one photo to the MLS and marketing efforts.

10.   Are you keeping your closings on track and updating the required individuals in the loop? This is a big “To Do”!

You should also be aiming to build a reputation with the asset companies. You can build confidence in your skills, experience and profession if you settle for the basics. There are more reasons but I opted to list the top 10.

11.   Poorly written documents.  Consider using fill-able forms.

12.   Marketing verbiage is not impressive. Agents tend to provide simple verbiage on the best of homes.

13.   Poor quality photos used in marketing and BPOs.

14.   Lack of organization and file tracking outside of the portal.

15.   Lack of professionalism in emails and phone calls.

16.   MLS sheet lacks enough information that will get the buyers/investors interested.

Consider improving your skills, process, and perhaps, revamping your team.  Don’t be the eager beaver by taking on more properties than you can manage.  Turn your grade around and go for the A+.


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Do you have a plan that will help you manage your properties? How organized are your files and if the bank calls you regarding an invoice submitted three months ago or inquires about the details of a property, are you prepared? I help several agents remotely organize their files and provide different resolution based on their setup.Here are a few tips that will help keep you organized. It may not pertain to everyone and depends on the current process being used.• Get rid of the post-it notes. They are not meant to be used as long term solutions to tracking notes.• Create a spreadsheet or pay an expert database designer to create a MS Access database that runs on queries. If you would like to create a secure online program, you will need to hire an expert programmer.• If you are not ready to go paperless, I suggest using 3-ring binders and index tabs to keep your files sorted by banks and property address, and/or• Use the correct folders so proper recording is maintain. Go to for an assortment of real estate related folders, or use the classification folder with dividers, click here, and/or• Use an online transaction management program for online storage and upload all pertinent documents to the BPO or bank system immediately and check off as completed.• Upload your action plans online or use Outlook to track due dates and send out reminders.• Only use one email address to communicate with the BPO Companies or banks. Multiple emails accounts increase the chance of mail being sent to the junk box or deleted. Include your full contact information in the signature line and account name section.• If you find that you are always responding too late or missing the BPO orders, setup alerts through your Blackberry or a compatible email account such as Yahoo or Hotmail so you can receive your notifications via text message. You can also hire an assistant that will work as a backup to catch those that you have missed and begin the process of ordering photos, pulling comps, etc• If you decide to go paperless, invest in a PDF converter that will allow you to extract documents, delete documents, sort pages, insert files, etc. As the transaction progress, you can add the new pages and/or delete the amended pages and more.• Once the property has closed, remove all old and completed transactions. Archive each to CD or DVD. Make multiple copies if needed.• Use the task reminder of you contact management program. Once you input a task based on a property, you will receive the alerts. This will increase your responsiveness to the bank and buyer agent.•Use Microsoft Street & Trips to calculate proximity if you are looking for a reliable program.• Keep an updated copy of all bank guideline at the front of the binder and/or store online within your OTM program.• Store each property file separately on your computer and label each property using the property address. Example: 1234 Mockingbird Lane, Anywhere US 01234. Then create subfolders. One for the listing documents and the other for the closing documents.• Add the full contact information for each bank, asset manager, accounts payable, etc to your Outlook contact file for the bank using categories. Print out the contact sheet and include it in your binder, folder, or online within the OTM program. This will provide quicker access to contacts when on the road and less searching on the PDA.• Offer a fillable PDF of the Offer to Purchase and all bank documents on your website. By doing so, this will give the buyer agent the opportunity to present a clearly written offer with all required fields completed. You can also include a check list as a part of the download. If the agent doesn't provide all of the check list items, they don't have a serious buyer.• Learn how to improve your process. If one method does not work, move on to something better, not worse.• Know what you have in inventory at all times. A simple spreadsheet can be used to track your inventory and the status.How do you keep your files organized?Carolyn Dobbs, | | |
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REO Closings. The Best Price on title Insurance

I have noticed that most REO/Bank closings for Floridaare using title companies in South Florida and charge double or triple the customary charges.I am looking for a list of REO closing departments that we can contact to infrom them of our prices and services.Any advice or direction would be appreciatedBarry MillerThe Closing Agent,
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