Is A Reverse Mortgage Right For You?

Is A Reverse Mortgage Right For YouImagine the bank depositing monthly premiums into your account instead of you writing a mortgage check. That’s basically how a reverse mortgage works.  

Traditional mortgages involve people paying down the interest and principal on a home loan. The goal is generally to pay off the property and cruise through retirement without that monthly installment eating at your budget. With your home paid off, those previously allotted finances can be used to relax and enjoy your retirement to the fullest. That’s the best-case scenario anyway.

But financial life has changed significantly over the past half-century. The formula for economic security has been chipped away by rising health care costs, tax increases, and other complications. Working hard and paying off your family home may no longer equal financial flexibility later in life. The valued elders in everyday American communities may require enhanced resources and the reverse mortgage has been a viable option for many.

How A Reverse Mortgage Works

The product was created to allow homeowners who are 62 and older to convert their home equity into cash payments. Rather than you paying the bank, the roles are reversed and the lender basically buys out your equity by paying you in monthly installments.  

Homeowners are required to stay up to date on things such as local property taxes, association fees and insurance. The lender receives reimbursement for the equity purchase when the home sells at the conclusion of the agreement. What was once money going out each much makes a full swing to cash coming into the home. That can be a remarkable financial boon.

Types Of Reverse Mortgages

The reverse mortgage products on the market can be broken down into three basic types. The overwhelming majority are federally-insured home equity conversion mortgages.

Industry insiders often refer to these products as HECMs and they are supported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They reportedly comprise upwards of 90 percent of reverse mortgages. Other types include private loans and those with a single purpose. For example, a qualified homeowner may secure a reverse mortgage to make a necessary home improvement. State agencies and nonprofits often back these to help low-income families through adversity.

Benefits Of A Reverse Mortgage

When people discover that their pension, 401(k) and savings won’t necessarily carry them through a comfortable retirement, selling the family home and downsizing emerges as one of the solutions. But reverse mortgages can offer an alternative by providing the following benefits.

  • Steady Home Life: Reverse mortgages allow homeowners to stay in their home and receive payments on the equity rather than sell, move and squirrel away the profit. The key benefit is remaining in the family home that is rich with memories.
  • Relieve Burden: The increased costs of taxes, insurance, utilities and other living expenses may eat away at the financial relief gained by paying off a home. Reverse mortgages infuse elders’ budgets and help overcome financial shortfalls.
  • Eliminate Mortgage: For those who still have a monthly mortgage payment, a reverse mortgage can pay off the outstanding balance. The product allows homeowners to subtract money owed and still receive monthly installments. That can be a substantial financial swing.

Reverse mortgages can be an excellent tool to improve your quality of life during retirement. However, it’s important to have a realistic long-term financial plan in place.

If you are considering a reverse mortgage, speak with an experienced mortgage professional about options that best meet your needs.

3 Key Advantages Of Listing Your House This Fall

3 Key Advantages Of Listing Your House This FallHomeowners looking to maximize their return on investment often want to know what season best achieves that goal. Getting near or full asking price can be influenced by a wide range of factors, including market trends, inventory and interest rates to name a few.

It will come as good news to know there are strong indicators that this fall has unique listing advantages. That means listing a home this fall could help sellers get the price they want.

1: Inventory Remains Very Tight

The rules of supply and demand apply equally to the housing market and there are not enough homes to go around.

The single-family housing shortage has been driven by multiple factors. A large population of Millennials have entered the real estate market at a time when new home construction had been stifled for years. Simply put, the supply of new homes has significantly fallen behind the demand.

Although builders are starting to ramp up construction, the economic boom continues to position first-time buyers more quickly than the lagging supply. The real estate wild card may be how quickly construction outfits put more homes in play.

Should the building sector pivot to take advantage of higher prices, inventory could loosen in 2019. That makes this fall a prime time to maximize profitability and avoid the risk of improving supply.

2: Fall Looks Like A Seller’s Market

Although summer was once again a popular time to sell, it appears home sales did not satisfy the high demand. With fewer listings available and plenty of active buyers jumping on properties, listing this fall could put sellers in the driver’s seat.

One interesting caveat is a recent study that says buying a home is currently less expensive than renting in 35 percent of American counties. Talk about motivated buyers. By listing a property now, the odds are on the seller’s side that the home will close at a desirable price.

3: Homes Move Quickly

Market data shows that homes are selling at a fast clip across the country. According to a report by realtor.com, the median days on the market rate continues to decline.

From 2012 to 2017, the number of days a home spent on the market declined by nearly one-third in some comparable months. This year, homes are selling at a staggering rate in traditionally high-priced metropolitan markets. According to research, homes in San Jose, California, were only on the market an average of 28.6 days. In Seattle, Washington, homes sold at an average rate of 34.1 days and Nashville, Tennessee, saw a short 40.6 window. While these areas may be considered hot, they show that homes are moving quickly even in high-end areas.

Sellers may find the elixir they are looking for by listing this fall. Economic and market indicators point to a vibrant seller’s market flush with motivated buyers.

One of the key aspects of listing your home is figuring out where you are going to live when your home sells. Be sure to contact your mortgage professional to learn about all of the financing options available for your next home purchase.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 17th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 17th, 2018 Last week’s economic news included readings on consumer credit, inflation and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Fed Reports Consumer Credit Jumps in July

The Federal Reserve reported that consumer credit rose from $9 billion in June to $17 billion in July. Analysts said a majority of consumer credit was issued for education loans and auto loans. June’s reading was revised downward to $8.50 billion from the original reading of $10.2 billion.

Credit card debt increased by 1.50 percent in July after declining by – 1.40 percent in June. Non-revolving consumer debt rose by 6.40 percent in July after growing 4.0 percent in June. July’s reading was the largest increase in eight months. The Fed’s Consumer Credit report does not include mortgage loans.

Inflation increased by 0.20 percent in August, which fell short of analyst expectations of 0.30 percent growth. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, rose by -0.10 percent and was lower than the expected reading of 0.20 percent growth. July readings for inflation and core inflation were 0.20 percent.

Mortgage Rates and Consumer Sentiment Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates for the third consecutive week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to an average of 4.60 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged seven basis points higher at 4.06 percent and mortgage rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.93 percent and were unchanged from the prior week. Discount rates were reported at 0.50 percent for fixed-rate loans and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims fell last week to 204,000 claims filed against expectations of 210,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 205,000 first-time jobless claims filed.

Consumer sentiment rose in September. The University of Michigan reported an index reading of 100.8, which surpassed the expected index reading of 97.0 and the August reading of 96.2.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled releases include readings from the National Association of Home Builders, The National Association of Realtors® on sales of pre-owned homes and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Mistakes Seasoned Home Buyers Often Make

Mistakes Seasoned Home Buyers Often MakeIt’s not uncommon today to move several times during adulthood, whether across town or across the country. Seasoned home buyers have been through the real estate process, often more than once. However, even if the home purchase has become routine, there are mistakes that can be avoided.

Stuck In The Past

The real estate market doesn’t stand still. It cycles and shifts, which is why it’s often recommended to rely on a real estate professional for an understanding of the current market. Home buyers with property purchased ten years ago, likely won’t have the same experience buying today. Don’t get stuck in the past, thinking the process will play out the same. It may, but it’s important to be ready for changes.

Skipping Homework

Whether upgrading to a larger home to accommodate a growing family or downsizing as the nest empties, it’s essential to do the homework before placing the current home on the market and committing to a new one. Certain homework needs to be done before beginning the buying process, especially if the purchase is reliant on the sale of the current home.

  • Determine if buying with cash or need to sell current home.
  • If need to sell current home first, will seller of new home offer contingency?
  • Is a flexible timeline needed for closing on current home/buying new?

Working out these types of critical details, even for seasoned home buyers, can be daunting, which is why it can be helpful to have a trusted real estate agent.

Allowing Emotions To Lead

Maybe the current house wasn’t the “forever” home. Seasoned home buyers, just like first-timers, can find themselves lost in emotions when searching for the perfect house. It’s a pitfall every home buyer should work to avoid. The home may have some of the exact features desired or be in the ideal location, but if it doesn’t fit the budget or has other issues, it’s not the right one.

Overextending Resources

Home buying is an exciting experience and it can be easy to become caught up in the process. However, overextending resources can make life after the purchase difficult. To help protect against overextension of resources later, always factor in the following when buying a home:

  • Budget
  • Time
  • DIY Abilities

Overextending on budget can directly affect the ability to make any needed repairs and if schedules are hectic, there might not be enough time for projects. In addition, it’s important to honestly take stock of DIY ability, and it’s okay to acknowledge that some jobs/repairs will require professionals or some level of assistance. 

The key for seasoned home buyers, as well as first-timers, is to never be afraid to ask questions, make lists, and rely on professional help from a real estate agent. 

Lastly, it’s important to meet with your trusted mortgage professional to get pre-approved for your new loan and to learn about your financing options. 

Real Estate Remains A Strong Wealth Management Investment

Real Estate Remains A Strong Wealth Management InvestmentA young long-haul trucker driver once took an elder’s advice and invested all of his money into real estate. Even though he was seldom at home to enjoy the fruits of his labor, he hired a property management company to handle the properties. The advice that stuck with the driver was simple. “They’re not making any more of it, land that is.”

In terms of growing personal wealth, the real estate market may fluctuate, interest rates change, and the GDP can bounce like a ball. But, land is permanent. That may seem like a simplistic view of wealth management. Maybe it is. But that trucker retired early with multiple investment properties and a reasonably wealthy man.

His portrait in wealth management success highlights the notion that real estate remains a strong financial driver. The next logical question is whether or not now is the time to build a powerful real estate portfolio.

Current Market Conditions

Real estate investment does not necessarily follow the popular stock market thinking about buying low and selling high. In fact, investors such as the trucker had no plans to sell at all. That being said, the current real estate trends are widely considered a “seller’s market.” Are they really?

With Millennials and soon Generation Z buying up homes, inventory remains lower than demand. That naturally has resulted in an uptick in listing prices. Couple the supply and demand issue with a Fed raising rates and one might think this is a bad time to buy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Buying rental properties are long-term investments. Buyers would be wise to do the math on how much the monthly mortgage, insurance, taxes and overhead measure against the potential revenue. Some property owners do their math based on 10 months rather than 12 to account for unexpected expenses. If the math works, it could be a valuable asset.

Real Estate Less Risky Than Stocks

Return on investment in real estate has the potential to far outpace stock buys. Consider that when you purchase a stock, things outside your control impact value and dividends. Think for a moment about how Elon Musk turned Tesla stocks into a roller coaster ride due to a few odd tweets and media interviews.

Owning property insulates investors from many external forces. Over time, rental revenue pays down the note. This allows owners the ability to siphon off money or leverage equity for additional real estate buys. With measured determination, your wealth management portfolio could include multiple properties that are paid off at retirement age. It worked for a truck driver who took some simple advice from an elder.

There’s little doubt that real estate remains a strong asset for increasing personal wealth. If you are considering a purchase, be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional as soon as possible.

What To Ask About How Loan Application Data Is Kept Private

What To Ask About How Loan Application Data Is Kept PrivateAfter hackers breached Equifax and stole vital financial records of 145 million Americans, people have a right to be afraid of disclosing personal information. That’s why it’s imperative that lending institutions to do everything in their power to protect your privacy.

When a prospective home buyer submits a loan application, defining information such as date of birth, home address, social security number, credit cards, bank accounts, and pay stubs are included. Basically, everything a hacker needs to penetrate an individual’s financial world is disclosed on a loan application.

If you are applying for a mortgage, get answers to these and other questions before handing over information. Hackers are too skilled at breaking into computer systems and the financial risk is too high to take any chances.

Does The Lender Take Submissions Via Email?

With the flurry of high profile email hacks making headlines, it may surprise borrowers that some lending institutions continue to take data via email.

Some estimates say that upwards of 70 percent of lending institutions routinely use email during the application process. When an applicant doesn’t have a bank account or credit card number handy, some lenders will take it electronically to complete the process. This is a major misstep.

Despite efforts to protect email, it continues to be a doormat for hackers to breach systems and steal data.

Does The Lender Use Encryption Software?

Although there is no perfect method to protect online data, many companies enlist the help of high-level IT personnel to maximize security. One of the better standards is the use of encryption.

When files are encrypted, the data enjoys two-tier protection. First, the hacker would need to breach the system to lift financial and personal information. Even if the internet criminal manages to steal data, they will be tasked with decoding it.

Breaking encryption software acts as a strong protection and future deterrent. Hackers tend to go after the low-hanging fruit. Ask about encryption protocols when applying for a loan.

Does The Lender Share Information?

The days of lenders sharing and selling personal information without consent are over. Under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, banks must provide applicants with a disclosure form that states information sharing policies.

Don’t be startled that the form lists third parties who will review your information. Banks often reach out to businesses in their network when making a determination about loan approval or rejection. Nothing happens in a vacuum so to speak.

But take the time to review this form carefully. If you do not feel comfortable with some of the outfits on the list, trust your instincts and walk away.

Ask About The Lender’s Data Protection Policy

Data protection has emerged as a significant problem. For every new protection program a hacker will find away to breach it.

Cybersecurity has grown into a major business sector and borrowers would be wise to ask about a lending institution’s policies, protocols and investment into data protection. Compare how each company addresses threats and make an informed decision about who can be entrusted with critical personal and financial information.

Your trusted mortgage professional is an essential part of your home buying experience. Be sure to ask these questions to increase your confidence in this important partnership.

Want To Buy A Home? Here’s How You Can Save Your Own Down Payment

Want To Buy A Home? Here's How You Can Save Your Own Down PaymentBurdensome student loan debt and a penchant for purchasing new electronics by 20- and 30-somethings can make saving up for a down payment on a home seem impossible. But Millennials and other potential home buyers may be surprised to discover that previous generations had money-saving challenges of their own.

Consider for a moment that many of our valued elders did not have the level of opportunity to attend college and earn a high-paying job. Look further back and you may realize that the Greatest Generation suffered through the Great Depression only to fight World War II.

Somehow, these outstanding Americans found a way to save money and become homeowners. So can you. By employing these money management techniques, you can cull together a down payment and still enjoy the latest gizmo.

Do The Math On Savings

It doesn’t make a great deal of sense to mindlessly squirrel money away without a comprehensive savings plan.

First steps should include discussing your pre-approval limit with a mortgage professional. By knowing your mortgage threshold, you will be able to work backwards and calculate a down payment amount.

One tried-and-true savings approach remains the 20-30-50 financial disbursement method. Structure your spending so that 20 percent of your earnings are going directly into debt reduction or savings. Approximately 30 percent should cover rent and the other 50 percent can be allotted for incidentals.

Make certain the 20 percent consistently finds its mark each month. Once you have cleared out the debt and are going full-bore on saving for a down payment, it can be motivating to watch your goal become a reality.

Eliminate High-Interest Debt

According to reports, the average American carried upwards of $6,375 in credit card debt during 2017. Folks, that is simply too much to effectively save money for a home down payment.

The high interest rates everyday people incur from credit card debt remains a significant impediment to saving money. If you have several cards with high balances, there is no quick fix to this problem. It will fall on you to be disciplined and methodical about paying them off.

Start with the card that charges the highest interest rate and work diligently to eliminate its balance entirely. Once you clear out the worst interest-rate offender, move on to the second worst. As these debts fall, you will have an opening to shuffle funds into your down payment savings account. We call that winning.

Pick Up Part-Time Gigs

The down payment effort can be accelerated by creating an additional revenue stream.

A few years back, the idea of the “gig economy” was trending. Stringing together a series of short-term and part-time jobs was considered cool. Although the so-called gig economy may have been the byproduct of a business sluggishness, such is no longer the case.

These days, unemployment is at record lows and employers are chomping at the bit to hire people. Consider picking up a few hours each week doing something you enjoy. It could entail anything from bartending to working as a coffee house barista. Make it fun and make certain the money goes only toward your home down payment. Talk about a win-win.

With strategic financial planning, people of all walks of life can earn the American homeownership dream. It’s time to stop thinking about the generational obstacles. Adapt, overcome and make it happen.

Your trusted mortgage professional is just the expert you need to guide you through all of your home financing options.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 10th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – September 10th, 2018Last week’s economic news included readings on construction spending, along with public and private-sector jobs growth. The national unemployment rate, weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Construction Spending Rises in July

July construction spending ticked up to 0.10 percent from June’s negative reading of -0.80 percent. Year-over-year, construction spending was 5.80 percent higher than for July 2017.Public-sector construction accounted for most of the growth and increased by 0.70 percent as private-sector construction projects decreased by -0.10 percent.

Month-to-month spending readings can be volatile, but analysts said that construction spending for the first seven months of 2018 were up 5.20 percent from the same period in 2017. July’s slower spending rate suggested that construction projects are slowing.

Given ongoing shortages of available homes, this is not good news for housing markets. High demand has driven home prices up, but affordability has become an issue in areas where home prices outpace inflation and wage growth.

Mortgage Rates Rise as New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week; the rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 4.54 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.99 percent and were two basis points higher.

Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged eight basis points higher at 3.93 percent. Analysts said that home prices continued to rise as demand for homes softened Higher home prices and mortgage rates sidelined first-time and moderate-income home buyers as slim inventories of homes for sale sidelined buyers who could not find homes they wanted to buy.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 213,000 claims filed. Analysts expected 212,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s reading of 213,000 first-time filings. The national unemployment rate held steady at 3.90 percent.

ADP payrolls dropped to 163,000 private-sector jobs in August as compared to 217,000 private-sector jobs added in July. The Commerce Department’s Non-Farm Payrolls reported 201,000 public and private-sector jobs added in August, which fell short of the expected reading of 212,000 jobs added and the prior month’s reading of 213,000 jobs added.

Whats Ahead

This week’s economic readings include reports on inflation, retail sales and the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Creative Storage Tips When Downsizing Your Home

Creative Storage Tips When Downsizing Your HomeDownsizing at any stage of life can offer multiple benefits. Less square footage may come with a smaller price tag and usually means less space to clean. However, when downsizing a home, there’s usually the question of what to do with everything. That’s when creative storage ideas become essential. 

Before Downsizing, Take Stock

Before selecting the best storage options, it’s important to first take stock of all personal items, from furniture to clothing, kitchen gadgets, and keepsakes. Sort into items to keep, donate, discard, and place in long-term storage. Long-term storage may mean investing in a self-storage unit to hold things like seasonal decor. Less stuff can mean less storage space needed in a smaller home.

Maximize Closet Space

It doesn’t need to be a walk-in closet to have the capacity to store an array of personal items. Maximize any closet’s storage space with a few tricks. Install a second tier hanging rod and rely on an expandable shoe rack to keep the floor clutter-free. Reduce the number of hangers used by layering outfits on a single hanger — blouse, sweater, and necklace or dress shirt, tie, and jacket. Store seasonal clothing, linens, and pillows in space-saver bags that remove bulk.

Rely On Under-the-Bed Storage

Even in homes with expansive square footage, under the bed often is an under-utilized space. Shoes, books, and other items are shoved out-of-sight, collecting dust and remaining unorganized. When downsizing, every space should have a purpose. Depending on the bed height, consider flat storage boxes ideal for clothing, blankets, and other items. Storage boxes with rollers can make it easy to access and act like an additional set of drawers.

Choose Space-Saving Furniture

The popularity of tiny houses and the number of people downsizing has created a boom of innovative space-saving furniture options. For the living room there are ottomans that open to reveal storage space for pillows, blankets, or video cases. Consider a couch with built-in drawers that slide out. In the bedroom, there are multiple bed choices that have built-in drawers and storage, perfect if the room doesn’t have dresser space. 

Open Shelves Provide Functionality Plus Style

Whether in the kitchen, bedroom, or main living area, open shelves offer great functionality in a smaller space while providing style to the home’s decor. Use them as storage for books, collections, and artwork. They’re ideal when there isn’t space for large bookcases or a coffee table. In the kitchen, open shelves can hold everything from dishes to glassware and potted herbs.

Whether you are looking to buy a smaller home or make modifications to your current home, your trusted home mortgage professional can help you navigate all of your financing opportunities.

 

4 Things You Should Know About Conventional Mortgage Rates

4 Things You Should Know About Conventional Mortgage RatesSecuring the best conventional mortgage rate possible can pose a challenge for even veteran property buyers.

Your mortgage rate will be determined by a variety of factors that pertain to your unique financial portfolio as well as economic forces. While no one has full control over all of the things that influence the process, understanding the manageable aspects can improve your negotiation position when securing a conventional mortgage.

Consider these four things that impact how conventional mortgage rates are determined.

1: Credit Is King

A borrower’s credit score has a tremendous impact on the final mortgage rate. The general rule is that the higher the score, the lower the rate. The opposite generally holds true as well.

Lenders usually require a minimum credit score of at least 620. Some will dip as low as 580. If yours falls lower, qualifying for a conventional loan may not be an option. But the good news about credit scores is that this is an element you have control over.

A credit report details your repayment history, previous loans, credit card and financial bandwidth, so to speak. Before mortgage shopping, get a copy of your credit report, clean up any blemishes and amp it up as high as possible.

2: Economic Growth Matters

The average home buyer has zero control over the economic forces that impact mortgage rates. But you do have choice about when to buy.

It’s no secret that the country is in the midst of tremendous GDP growth, historically low unemployment, improved consumer confidence and rising wages. This may seem like a good time to buy. Not necessarily when it comes to conventional mortgage rates.

Prosperity tends to create an uptick in consumers vying for home loans. That demand seems like a good thing. But the Fed often responds to high levels of consumer confidence by raising rates across the board. The theory behind this unfortunate environment stems from the idea lenders have limited resources.

It may seem counterintuitive, but weak economies often enjoy lower rates. For practical buying purposes, the U.S. economy looks like a juggernaut right now. You may want to buy sooner rather than later. Rates could go up again.

3: Price And Down Payment

Another set of facts that you have control over are the down payment amount and price of the home.

Conventional mortgages require a minimum down payment of 20 percent or higher. Like credit scores, the higher the down payment to better positioned you will be to secure the lowest possible rate. The basic concept trails back to the level of risk the lender takes by writing the loan.

For example, borrower defaults often force banks to take losses upwards of 30-60 percent of the loan. That 20 percent shows that you have real skin in the game and are less likely to stop paying the monthly premiums. Big down payments often correlate to lower mortgage rates.

Although 20 percent remains the industry standard, borrowers can secure a loan with less down. If you qualify for a conventional loan with less than 20 percent down, expect a less than desirable rate and the additional cost of private mortgage insurance. It’s kind of a double whammy.

4: Loan Types Differ

There are several variables in the loan-writing process that directly impact rates.

Most loans have terms of 15-30 years and lenders are more apt to offer lower rates on shorter term mortgages. Fixed- or adjustable-rate types are also profoundly different. Adjustable mortgages tend to enjoy lower rates in weak economies. But when the country ramps up, so does your interest rate and monthly premium.

Fixed-rate conventional mortgages are static throughout the life of the loan. The rate may be slightly higher at the closing. However, you won’t be betting against the economy.

Lastly, borrowers have the ability to buy points. This practice allows borrowers to pay more upfront costs and enjoy lower mortgage rates for the life of the loan. It’s one method some people use to overcome less-than-perfect credit scores.

As always, contact your trusted mortgage finance professional to discuss the best plan for your individual circumstances.

Consumers wishing to file a complaint against a company regarding the origination and/or servicing of your mortgage loan or a complaint against a residential mortgage loan originator concerning residential mortgage loans on real estate located in Texas should complete and send a complaint form to the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending, 2601 North Lamar, Suite 201, Austin, Texas 78705. Complaint forms and instructions may be obtained from the department’s website at www.sml.texas.gov. A toll-free consumer hotline is available at 1-877-276-5550. The department maintains a recovery fund to make payments of certain actual out of pocket damages sustained by borrowers caused by acts of licensed residential mortgage loan originators. A written application for reimbursement from the recovery fund must be filed with and investigated by the department prior to the payment of a claim. For more information about the recovery fund, please consult the department’s website at www.sml.texas.gov.