About Being an Author

What’s the hardest thing, the easiest thing, the most fun thing, the most frustrating and maddening thing about being an author?

Maybe you’ve thought of writing a book yourself and have wondered about this. Maybe you want to write a memoir or lessons life has taught you. Maybe you have an area of expertise you’d like to write about. If you have a question, feel free to post it in the comments. Meanwhile, some of my random thoughts on the topic…

The easiest thing about being an author is getting the idea. People get excited about their ideas. But having a big idea isn’t enough. You’ve got to take the next step and start writing. I start my writing by creating an outline. Not a formal outline with Roman numerals and letters. My outline consists of a list of chapters with bullet points under each one on my talking points.

Next comes research, and I’m not talking about doing a Google or Bing search. That’s not research. If you simply regurgitate what’s already been published on the Internet, readers will quickly kill your book by posting reviews that say, “You can get all this info for free on the Internet.”

My Research

For Repair Your Credit Like the Pros, I conducted many interviews. I interviewed top successful credit repair business owners who had been doing the work for over 10 years. I interviewed top executives at Fannie Mae. I interviewed top executives at the credit bureaus themselves, Experian and TransUnion. I spoke with employees at American Credit Reporting. This is in addition to my own personal experience working in the industry.

For Get the Mortgage You Want Like the Pros, I got copies of the underwriting guidebooks by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, etc. Each of these are over 1,100 pages long. In addition, I spoke with loan officers from different parts of the country and underwriters. I also called on my own 23 years’ experience in the mortgage business.

The one thing I did NOT do was read other people’s books and copy them. If you do that, you’re not being an author, you’re writing a school report — and you had better cite your sources.

The Most Fun Part

I love the actual writing where I get to express my thoughts and let my voice come through the information. That’s fun. But the most rewarding part is when I hear from my readers. The many emails thanking me for writing the book or for changing their lives is why I work so hard to deliver quality content.

The Hardest Part

For a book to be successful, you’ve got to get lots of 5-star and 4-star reviews on Amazon. That’s the hard part, because only about 10 percent of people who buy a book will leave a review. The big New York publishers give away dozens, if not hundreds, of books to get early reviews. I tried giving away a dozen books (which I have to pay for) on a previous book in exchange for an honest review, whether good or bad; but even though people are happy to get a free book, they won’t necessarily write a review, so I decided not to do that again.

Instead, I just wait for reviews to come in — and that’s really hard. Take my new book, for example. Several hundred have sold, but there are only two reviews so far. So it’s the waiting… and hoping someone will write another review. You can see what I’m talking about here.

The Most Frustrating, Maddening Part

When you spend hundreds to thousands of hours creating an original work and create a title no one has published before, and then someone comes along and copies your title and produces a crummy knock-off, that really gets to me. But then I have to realize it happens to the big NY bestselling authors too, and that those copycat-posers soon fade away, because after their mother and five BFFs give them 5 stars, it never does sell much after that. It’s easy to see, and easy to see why.

But sometimes, I’ve had to go a step further. I had to hire an intellectual property attorney because someone was reselling my original letters, which is a copyright violation and a crime — and theft is never okay.

The Best Part of Being an Author

My greatest thrill came when I walked into the University Bookstore on the campus of Columbia University in New York City, and there on the bookshelf was my very first book for sale! (That was Mortgage Ripoffs and Money Savers, which is now outdated and has been replaced by Get the Mortgage You Want Like the Pros.) That was bigger to me than seeing it in my local Barnes and Noble. I’ll never forget that joyful moment.

With me at the time was a lovely woman who lives in and ministers in one of the dangerous ghettos in New York. (A few days prior, a gang shooting had occurred outside her apartment building.) She saw my book on the shelf and she shared in my joy. Then she said something really cute.

She said, “I’m surprised the employees here didn’t make a fuss over you when you walked in the door, seeing that you’re an author and all.” I chuckled. Well, there are more than 50,000 books in this bookstore, so I’m just one small fish in this ocean. But a very, very honored and happy fish!!!

Concessions to Homebuyers – Yay!

Statistics show that sellers are giving concessions to 42% of homebuyers, a near record high.* So what are concessions and how do you get that?

Concessions are when the seller pays for some or all of the homebuyer’s closing costs. This can be any or all of the following:

  • Lender fees
  • Buying down your interest rate to a lower rate
  • Title insurance
  • Escrow or attorney closing fee
  • County recorder’s fee
  • Property taxes
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Refund for the appraisal report and credit report you paid up front

Concessions CANNOT go toward your down payment. The seller is not allowed to help you buy the property, only to pay for closing costs.

If you need help with the down payment, then there are sources in all 50 states. But, there are restrictions to qualify. For example, with some down payment assistance programs, you cannot earn more than a certain percentage of the median income of the neighborhood. What percentage would that be, exactly?

It could be 80% or it could be 115% or something different, it all depends on the program and which county you’re in.

If you live in an area where the median income is $100,000/year and the percentage is 80%, then your income can be $80,000/year and still receive the assistance money for your down payment.

In my brand new book, Get the Mortgage You Want Like the Pros, there is listed a source to down payment assistance programs in all 50 states. Plus, a ton of other important information for knowing how to get the best home loan.

Back to seller concessions: There are two times you can ask for a seller concession:
1) In your purchase offer that your realtor presents to the seller.
2) After the home inspection, when you get the report showing the imperfections, flaws, repairs needed for the home. At that point, your realtor can share the inspection report with the sellers and ask for concessions in lieu of doing the repairs.

If you have any questions about homebuying, feel free to ask in the comments. The system requires “moderation” meaning it waits for me to read it, to keep out the robo-spammers; but I do read ALL comments and respond.

*According to Redfin, concessions became more popular among home sellers during the three months preceding April 30, 2023, as sellers are giving concessions to 42.9% of homebuyers. This number is up from 25.5% a year ago,

Major Credit Score News for Student Loans

If you have a deferment or forbearance on a federal student loan (including Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loans, or a Perkins Loan) this news is for you!

On August 30, 2023, due to the new Federal Debt Ceiling Law, many deferment and forbearance plans will expire. You will be required to resume making student loan payments.

If you fail to make your student loan payment, people with high credit scores could see a 82 point drop to their credit scores.

People with medium-good credit could see a 49 point drop to their credit scores.

If that happens, you can expect your credit card rates and your auto insurance rates to skyrocket — which could be devastating!

(These statistic predictions are according to Vantage Score.)

This is June. You have three months to get your income and finances prepared to resume your student loan payments. Make your plan now!

Please pass this on to people you know who have student loans, because no one should be hit with a horrific credit score drop by surprise!

How Do the Pros Get a Better, Cheaper Home Loan?

The book people have been asking for is finally here.

What do the mortgage pros know that no one is telling you?

Now available in paperback and Kindle here.

What do the loan officers know that you don’t? How do they get the lowest interest rates? How do they avoid all those stupid junk fees that add up to $1,000 or more?

How do they get their loan applications though the underwriter and to final approval faster and with less stress?

Where can you get…

  • Fix and Flip Loan, where you buy a fixer, pretty it up, and turn a profit?
  • Rehab Loan, where you finance the renovations into the loan itself (and then live in the house)?
  • Down Payment Assistance, for people who need help coming up with the down payment? (All 50 states have a source)
  • Loans for people with low credit scores?

In addition:

What if you can’t come up with the documents the underwriter is asking for?

What if the appraised value comes in lower than the purchase price — what are your three options?

How do you get your interest rate locked?

Are the Lock and Shop programs worthwhile or are they a scam?

What are the real requirements regarding credit and income? (Find out the truth here.)

As a licensed mortgage broker for 23 years, as a professional who’s worked in both retail and wholesale lending, working for a big national bank, for a small direct lender, and for a broker having access to wholesale rates, I believe you will find information here that is not in any other guide for homebuyers.

For more information, see here.

Junk Fees for Renters (Boo!)

Homebuyers aren’t the only ones who need to lookout for garbage fees nowadays.

I’ve written a lot about nonsense fees charged by some mortgage lenders and escrow closing companies. Now it’s time to speak out for renters, because what’s happening isn’t right.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s legitimate and what’s bogus.

APPLICATION FEE goes to pay for the credit report and criminal background check. That’s fair. But you should receive a copy of those reports if you aren’t approved to rent the home. The National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit, moves this fee from “fair” to “junk” when the tenant can’t use them to apply elsewhere.

When a renter has to pay the application fee over and over again, it adds up to a significant sum. What if your credit and background is good, but there was too much competition for the unit for your application to be accepted? You should receive either a refund or a copy of your reports to use elsewhere.


Extra charges that pad the landlord’s pockets, as identified by the National Consumer Law Center, and objected to by Marcia Fudge, secretary of the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development are these:

  • Move-in charge
  • High-risk fee
  • Security bond
  • Convenience fees for paying rent online

If you’re charged for something that doesn’t make sense, you might want to quote Ms. Fudge of HUD: “Many renters today face fees that are hidden, duplication, or unnecessary.”

I personally know a renter who objected to the $35 credit report fee. She said she could get her credit report for a lot less than that, and she would provide it to the landlord. The landlord agreed. She brought in her own credit report and subsequently, leased the home. So I know it can be done.

For me, I would only object to costs that don’t make sense or for duplicate fees or for a report I could provide myself. And there is no way on earth I would pay a so-called convenience fee for paying rent online. It’s actually more convenient for the landlord, so if anything, they should be paying ME. Ha! If I had to pay by check to avoid that unfair cost, I would. Look at how much it adds up to over a year, and then decide for yourself.

Greed fees have long been a pet peeve for me. So I object and I fight them.

IF YOU ARE DENIED due to a rent-screen report, credit report, or any other report, you must get a copy so you can read it to see if it contains false information or information that belongs to someone who is not you. It’s your right to have an accurate report. Ms. Fudge also mentioned that many of these reports often “have inaccurate information and questionable validity in predicting renter behavior.”

If you see erroneous posts on your report, use the same strategies you read in Repair Your Credit Like the Pros to write a dispute and get it corrected.

I would like to thank the people who took the time recently to thank me for writing about finances and credit. Your encouragement means everything to me!

Mortgage Credit Score vs. Consumer Credit Score

Have you ever checked your credit score?

You may have received a credit score from one of these sources:

  1. Your credit card company.
  2. A free site, such as Credit Karma or Credit Sesame.
  3. One of the credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion
  4. Your mortgage lender.

Don’t be surprised if the score you got from your mortgage lender was different from your score you obtained elsewhere. Why the difference? And, which score is correct and true?

To answer these questions, let’s look at some quick facts.


  • FICO stands for Fair Isaac Credit Corporation, the creator of credit scores used by mortgage companies and other lenders. Mortgage pros say “credit score” rather than the full “FICO credit score.” It’s the same thing, whether you say “credit score” or “FICO score.”
  • Your mortgage credit score is the one used to qualify you for a mortgage loan. It is a stricter grading curve than the scoring system used by credit cards. This makes sense, because it’s less risky to lend someone a few thousand on a credit card versus $250K or $500K on a mortgage. Thus, your mortgage score is likely to be lower than other types of credit scores.
  • The consumer credit score, the ones used by credit card companies, is more lenient and typically higher than the mortgage score.
  • When you use Boost to boost up your credit, it can help your Experian credit card score, but it does nothing for your mortgage score. Nor does it help your scores with Equifax and TransUnion.
  • Vantage Score is a completely different scoring system than any other. The big three credit bureaus collaborated to create a more accurate and inclusive credit score algorithm. Currently, the mortgage industry does not use Vantage scores, but that will be changing in 2024-2025.
  • CreditKarma and other independently-owned sites have their own guess at how scores are calculated. They do not have the “secret recipe” used by the credit bureaus. Thus, any score you get from them could be wildly OFF. They are only useful for seeing if your score is trending upward or downward.
  • Insurance companies have a different credit scoring system designed for themselves. It can be impossible to learn what your insurance score is, other than a general “excellent,” “good,” “fair,” or “poor” rating.
  • Currently, mortgage scores are based on FICO version 2, 4, and 5. They plan to update in the next year or two.
  • Credit card companies most often use FICO version 8, 9, 10, or Vantage score.
  • FICO 10T is FICO 10 with Trended Data added in. Trended date is credit score AI that looks at your behavior and activity, not only your payments and balances. Mortgage lenders will use FICO 10T in the next year or two.

    This is all interesting, but you don’t need to memorize the FICO versions. You only need to know how to manage your finances and credit so that you earn a top tier credit score.

    Having a credit score over 740 gets you the best mortgage interest rate on a conventional (best) home loan. Having a 800 score is the icing on top that gets you the highest respect. Some lenders, such as Provident Wholesale, reward people with a 780 – 800+ score with an even lower interest rate. (You get a wholesale loan through a mortgage broker, not a bank or credit union.)

    I hope this info is helpful. There’s a lot more to credit scoring. If you’d like to become an expert on how credit scoring works and how to earn a top tier credit score in the shortest time possible, then I can recommend these two publications:

    1) Build and Protect Your Credit Like the Pros here
    2) Credit Repair Mindset here

    If you have any questions on credit scoring, please feel free to add a comment. I see each and every comment, usually within an hour or two. If it’s the middle of the night on the Pacific Coast, then please give me longer.

First Time Homebuyer Loans

You don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify for a loan that’s tagged as “first-time buyer” most of the time.

Most loans advertised as “first-time homebuyer” are loans that are popular because they require minimal to no down payment. Let’s look closer at these loans.

But first, let’s be clear about one thing: being a first-time homebuyer does not mean you get a free house. The only person giving away free houses is Santa Clause, and I haven’t seen a real Santa for a very long time. Ha!

3% Down payment Conventional Loan

For this loan, you cannot have owned a home in the past three years, but you don’t have to be a first-timer.

Fannie Mae’s program is called HomeReady, and Freddie Mac’s program is called HomePossible. With these programs, you get the same low interest rate that buyers putting 20% down get, so that’s what makes them so special. In addition, the monthly mortgage insurance (MI) fee is lower.

This generous loan is designed to help more people become homeowners. I love these loan programs! I prefer HomePossible, because it requires slightly less documentation from the borrower.

The debt-to-income ratio is lower and stricter than for other conventional or for the FHA loan, so you can’t push your buying power.

If you qualify, there is no downside.

(If you aren’t familiar, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are nicknames for government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that provide money to banks and mortgage lenders for home loans. You don’t go to them directly, but to a mortgage lender or mortgage broker.)

3.5% Down payment FHA Loan

For this loan, you do not have to be a first-time buyer, and it’s okay if you own other property–recently or currently. There’s nothing “first-time” about it except that it’s easy to qualify for and makes for good advertising.

FHA is only for a primary residence where you will live in the home for at least the first 12 months. You cannot use it for a second home or an investment property.

Generous credit score and debt ratio guidelines make it popular.

The downside is the Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium of 1.75%; but it’s not a stopper, because it is rolled into the loan itself and not a closing cost requiring cash. Also, the monthly MI fee does not get waived on the 3.5% down 30-year fixed rate loan, so you have to refinance to get the MI eliminated.

Down Payment Assistance (DPA) Loans, Truly for First-time Buyers

Getting help with the down payment is a concept that all 50 states have embraced for first-time buyers. These are the true first-timer programs. Each state has its own unique programs, which I’ve spent a good deal of time researching recently. In my upcoming book, Get the Mortgage You Want, Like the Pros, I included links for all 50 states and Guam. I will post when it’s available with more information about what’s included in the pages.

In the meantime, if you have at least 3% saved for a down payment and your credit has been on track for the past 12 months, reach out to a local mortgage broker to see if you qualify to become a homeowner. The down payment may be gift from family or you might qualify for a DPA. There are closing costs in addition to the down payment, which can be paid by you, the seller, or a combination. Or, your lender might give you a credit for part of the closing costs, in exchange for a higher interest rate. (There is no free money from the lender.)

Be prepared with your W2, current paystubs, and two months of recent bank statements for the preapproval.

Do You Have a Bankruptcy on Your Credit Report?

I wanted to share with you a message I received from a book reader. (This is shared with his permission.)


Just wanted say thank you so much for this!  I am half through it and I just got it yesterday!  

You approach this topic with such compassion and hope…you sincerely bring tears of joy and hope to my heart because your way of approaching the topic shows me that I made mistakes that I should forgive myself for and learn from them.

 Makes me feel that there is light at the end of the tunnel I dug for myself but I must do the work.

Keep doing and living your purpose!  May the creator continue to bless you in all areas of your life that you may be a good witness for him!
God bless!!!

This message made my day. It is why I reach out to executives at the credit reporting agencies for information, why I make phone calls to successful, experienced, and ethical credit repair business owners, and why I read Acts of law. I spend many hours doing field research (not cruising the Internet to read what other people, many of them copying wrong information from others who are also copying) to gather information.

If you or someone you know has a bankruptcy on their credit report, you can read more about this publication here.

What is Easter About?

Pontius Pilot condemned Jesus to death for crimes He did not commit.

Jesus accepted His fate, trusting in God’s bigger plan.

Christ bore the weight of the world’s sins as He drew His last breaths on the cross. His body was removed from the wooden cross and mourned by His mother Mary and many of His followers.

His body was embalmed and placed in a tomb that was donated by a wealthy Jewish man named Joseph of Arimathea. The tomb was sealed by a large boulder and guards were placed at the door to prevent possible theft of Jesus’ body.

On the third day of His death (as the ancients counted the calendar), Mary Magdalene and the other women found the boulder of the tomb rolled away and Jesus was not there! What could this mean?

She ran to Simon Peter and brought him back to the tomb. There, they met an angel who told them not to worry. Jesus had risen from the dead at the will of His Father. Peter remembered the words Christ spoke in Galilee, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised to life.” The disciples departed from the tomb knowing Jesus had risen at the will of God.

More than 500 people saw Jesus after He had been resurrected, including Jesus’ brother James and the Apostle Peter.

Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday is the conquering of evil, sin and death. It is the promise of eternal life with God in Heaven.

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Have a blessed Resurrection Sunday! Your comments are welcome.

Who Owns the Appraisal Report?

The answer may surprise you, and it has far-reaching implications.

You, the borrower, pay for the appraisal report at the time your lender orders it — with the exception of the VA loan.

(With VA, it is paid at closing.)

You pay by credit or debit card after making full application and after you have received the initial disclosures, which is a packet of information about the loan that includes a form for permission and payment of the appraisal report.

It’s wise to get your home inspection done before ordering the appraisal, just in case there is a fatal flaw with the property that makes you rescind your offer.

Even though you pay for the appraisal report, the lender owns it. By law, you receive a copy of the report. But you do not own it.

On the appraisal report is the lender’s name.. You cannot take that report and switch off to another lender with it. No other lender will be able to use that appraisal report, with the first lender’s name on it, for approval of your loan.

You can certainly show your copy of the appraisal report to anyone you choose, including your real estate broker, your mother, or even another lender. But you don’t own the rights to it, and you cannot request the appraiser to change anything on it. Only the lender has that right.

If there is an error on the report, such as an address typo or the valuation is wrong, then the lender is the one who communicates that to the appraiser and asks for the correction.

It’s good to know upfront how these things work. If you have a general question about the appraisal process, let me know and I’ll do my best to answer it.

This weekend, I will be posting an Easter message here, just so you know.