Feb-1-blog

Market Commentary 2/1/19

Bonds have been on a tear as rates have dropped in response to a variety of factors including a very volatile December for equities, a slowing global economy, Brexit, Italian debt fears, trade tensions with China, and dysfunctional political system in Washington.

The Fed this week confirmed that it will continue to be data-dependent and that monetary policy is not just simply running on auto-pilot. This was positive for both equities and those relying on debt financing.  

On Wednesday, the Fed chose to keep overnight lending rates at current levels and also opined on the direction of the Fed draw down its balance sheet, also known as Quantitative Tightening (QT), as well as future rate hikes.  A few months ago, most economists had three rate hikes forecasted for 2019, now, the consensus is for probably only one rate hike.  All of this has pushed the 10-year Treasury yield (the benchmark lending rate to under 2.75%) which has helped increase mortgage applications, amongst other requests for credit.

The widely watched monthly jobs report did not disappoint and pushed up yields a touch this morning. The report was very positive with 304,000 jobs created in January. The unemployment rate ticked up to 4%, but so did the Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR). Three-month average job creation is running at 240,000 jobs per month, a very strong number. During the Obama presidency, many economists though numbers like this would be unattainable this late into an economic expansion.  Wage inflation remains in check (as do other inflation readings). Geopolitical concerns have taken a back seat to the resilient domestic economy for now. The U.S. equities market snapped back from an awful December with the strongest January in years. Historically low rates are still in play along with strong U.S employment and positive earnings from many big companies.

It is worth noting that some consumer confidence readings have slipped and how this will play out may not be felt for several months in the economic readings. 

With rates on the rise after this strong jobs report, we believe it is prudent to strongly consider locking-in interest rates at these levels.

Jan-18-blog 2019

Market Commentary 1/18/19

The effects of the partial government shutdown

Interest rates are drifting higher as the damage caused by last month’s brutal volatility washes out and the focus returns back to earnings, the economy, global trade, and inflation.  

We will learn more about earnings in the coming weeks, but it has been a mixed bag so far. With respect to the economy, the U.S. economy remains strong, but across the pond, Europe’s economy appears to be slowing along with China. The global economic slowdown is a big concern and is partly responsible for the drop in interest rates that took hold late last year and continued into 2019. Counteractively, a slowing economy could be good for stocks as it will keep the Fed from raising rates.  

Secondly, the effects of the government shutdown (if it continues), will become a drag on future confidence readings and overall GDP if it’s not resolved soon. However, keep in mind, Wall Street loves political gridlock and the surge in the stock market is evidence of this.

Thirdly, there are rumors that the U.S. and China are working together on a trade deal. Stocks are higher on this news and bonds have sold off a touch as the risk of an all-out trade war subside.

Finally, inflation remains in check even with full employment here in the U.S. This is a big positive for bond yields along with the Fed clearly stating their intention to remain patient.  

With the recent upward trend in stocks, and, the 10-year Treasury Bond trading below 2.80% yield, we remain biased toward locking-in interest rates given recent events.   

Why Having a CPA on Your Mortgage Team Puts You a Step Ahead: Meet Neil Patel, CPA

Most people in the mortgage business do not have a tax background, but Neil Patel, a licensed mortgage broker at Insignia Mortgage has a special superpower; he is also a Certified Public Accountant. Patel’s comprehensive business management and tax experience enable him to better structure loans for the unique, complex financial situations of high net worth individuals. In today’s environment, determining what type of loan is best for particular circumstances is no longer simple—even for individuals with traditional, predictable income streams. This task becomes all the more complicated when non-traditional cash flows are present, such as with foreign nationals, real estate investors, and others who are self-employed. Patel specializes in sourcing financing for high net worth individuals and for the complex loans that are Insignia Mortgage’s specialty.

A Southern Californian through and through, Patel grew up in Orange County, went to school in San Diego, and landed in Los Angeles. He graduated from University of California San Diego in 2011 with a BA in Economics and a minor in Accounting. Prior to joining Insignia Mortgage in 2014, Patel studied for and earned his CPA while working at accounting firms Schonwit & Company and Stuart A Ditsky, CPA PC. He is currently a board member for the CalCPA Los Angeles chapter and maintains his CPA designation through 40 hours of Continuing Education credits per year, which typically include conferences and classes. Patel also obtained his real estate salesperson license and mortgage license through the NMLS in 2014, enabling him to work under brokers to bring in business. As Patel transitioned from underwriting files and analytical work to generating business at Insignia Mortgage, he earned his real estate broker’s license. This designation allows Patel to directly generate business for his firm, something he’s aspired toward since starting at Insignia. “In the next few years, I hope to bring in more business for Insignia through extensive networking and meeting with as many realtors as possible,” says Patel. “I’m hoping these activities will attract a greater number of well-qualified buyers.”

The youngest broker at Insignia Mortgage, Patel also caters to millennial and first-time home buyers. “As a millennial myself, I can relate to the issues specific to this stage of life,” comments Patel. He explains that there is one constant when it comes to lending: when approving, banks look to past cash flows. “I work with those individuals who are still highly qualified, but due to their profession, age, or other circumstance, their tax returns do not convey their true net worth.” In other words, the income verification process becomes incredibly convoluted and involved. That’s where Patel comes in.

Patel’s CPA specialization helps him work with real estate investor clients. For example, if an investor is looking for a loan to purchase and flip a property, the likelihood of approval decreases due to the associated risk. While the buyer is investing in the potential for future cash flows from the property, this “potential” does not carry any weight with the bank. When approving loans, banks solely take into account previous cash flows. Patel understands the nuances of such situations, and how to best package and present information to the bank for loan approval.

Patel and his team recently had a client who owned over 25 tax entities and 20 properties, who was planning to purchase an $8.5 million primary residence. Insignia was able to solidify 55% lender financing by creating a corporation with a foreign trust as the beneficiary. The details included a $4.75 million loan, 7/1 ARM, 3.788% APR, no prepayment penalty on a 30-year term, and a 40-day close of escrow. In other no tax return loan scenarios, Patel may prepare other alternative financial documentation such as recent self-employed income verification, CPA-prepared profit-and-loss statements and balance sheets, divorce and retiree income, real estate schedules, and liquid asset statements.

Patel also recently helped structure a deal for a foreign corporate executive client’s $6 million second home purchase with 60% lender financing (despite a lack of U.S. income, credit, or assets). Patel and his team worked with the client’s advisors, both foreign and domestic, to structure the purchase as tax-efficiently as possible. The complex tactics and creativity used to craft these loan structures are almost limitless.

As with any independent mortgage broker, Patel’s core responsibility is shopping around to find the best rate and terms for a particular applicant. Where he adds significant value, however, is acting as a project manager to get the best loan approved—and approved quickly. Through his deep expertise in complex tax returns and lending, Patel knows what bankers need to see and how to see it in order to approve the loan. Adds Patel, “I look forward to continually amplifying our benefit for clients through my professional experience unique to the field. Not many people can say they are a mortgage broker and a CPA.”

In the mortgage business, each deal is a team effort. Patel’s expertise as a double threat—mortgage broker and CPA—offers tremendous value to any Insignia Mortgage client.

What You Can Expect Working with Neil Patel, CPA:

  • A high skill set in tax returns and complex financials to better structure mortgage loans
  • Tax and business management experience, establishing deep expertise and understanding of high net worth financials
  • Loan implications of numerous non-traditional financial circumstances of buyers, including foreign nationals, real estate investors, millennials, and the self-employed
  • Creativity and knowledge of various intricate mortgage loan structures
  • Perhaps a round of golf or a meal at a nice restaurant with the self-proclaimed “foodie”

Contact Neil today at
Phone: 424-488-3566
Email: neil@insigniamortgage.com
CA BRE: #01952615 NMLS: #1179478