How do you handle your mistakes?

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/

Savor your mistakes, let them shape you.

I’ve been thinking about my Dad the past couple days, most likely because my parents just watched our kids for a weekend. As my thoughts drifted from how fortunate I’ve been to grow up in a loving family it also made me realize that it isn’t the happiest of times that I’m going to remember as the years pass.  Sure, I’ll remember those too but I’m more drawn toward the ‘tough’ love times and how they shaped who I am.  The times where my normally gentle and lighthearted father was overwhelmed with frustration and anger.  It’s those moments that resonated years later and took a foothold in my mind, leading me to shape how I wanted to act as an adult.

In the big scheme of things, how I conduct myself both personally and professionally and my views on life were directly affected by the mistakes of my youth and how I moved on from them.

As I continue in my profession for the 14th year I have realized something as well.  The professional mistakes, just like those teenage acts of lunacy are the moments that irk me.  I cringe when I think about something I’ve done that is stupid, overlooked or simply lacked forethought.

It may sound crazy, but I am thankful for these moments and love that they make me feel regretful. This emotion has been a great driver to help perfect my profession.  In anything we spend time on, it should be worthwhile.  In order to be worthwhile personally, I want to do everything in my power to improve day after day and with each interaction.  If things always go smooth, there would be no catalyst to change or grow.  I love taking a break like anyone else and simply enjoy doing nothing.  Some of my favorite moments are exactly that!

My love of doing nothing helps me keep a running thought in my head. “If I choose to put energy into this, I want to give it 100%”  When I work towards 100%, that includes improving.  Thank goodness I’ve made enough mistakes to understand, there is always something more to work on.

I’ll never be perfect, but I can certainly try.


Bad Appraisal? Here are a few options.


A few months back I was referred a client “Jim” and his wife.  They had recently had their loan declined with a larger bank because of a low appraisal value.  This left them frustrated for a few reasons. First, they were sure their home was worth more than the value they were given and second, they felt frustrated that they had just spent $400 to have this appraisal and had no way to fight the value.

What does one do in this situation? It can feel like you’ve been ripped off and now are no better off than when you stated the process. Well, there are two choices and neither come with guarantees. In the off chance, this happens to a client of mine here’s what we do:

1. Appeal the appraisal.  Most lenders have some sore of appeal or review process in place, allowing you, the borrower and/or a Realtor to show why they feel the value is inappropriate.  The best way to do this is to find comparable homes that have sold more recently or closer to the home than the homes used in the appraisal. This most likely won’t get you the higher value you are looking for but will offer some peace of mind with an explanation for what was used to determine the value and why.

2. Take your chances with a new Lender.  Now this one, I rarely, if ever advise. The odds are not in your favor to have an appraisal come in higher.  The quality control process now leaves a lot to be desired, but overall values tend to be fairly consistent.

When Jim and I talked about his situation, we realized two things very quickly.  First, the other Lender did not offer an option to appeal the value and two, the loan officer that he was working with lacked the ability to think critically about this situation.  In fact, with the appraised value Jim had gotten, he could complete his refinance by moving into an FHA refinance program instead of the conventional program he was told to pursue.  Most loan officers are aware of the higher loan to value (or percentage of homes value that can be lended) with this program.  Jim just had bad luck with a poorly educated professional.

Here’s how Jim was able to obtain his refinance. After going over the risks of paying for another appraisal, we decided together that the risk was low for the benefits of the refinance.  The appraisal came back around the same value as the first mortgage, but that was all we needed to combine his first and second mortgages into one new mortgage at a lower interest rate as well as save Jim and his wife over $350 per month.  This gives Jim a lot of room each month to enjoy his new boat and do some Walleye fishing in Detroit Lakes.

Sometimes, the value of the appraisal isn’t the problem, sometimes it’s simply finding the right solution for the facts at hand.

Have a great week!


Image courtesy of cooldesign /

Contract for Deed? Sometimes it’s the most sensible option.

Image courtesy of phasinphoto, /

There are many ways to sell a house and for most of them, I highly recommend a licensed Realtor. Every once in a while,  a client of mine will bring up a situation that’s unique.  I enjoy these one off situations because it’s a exercise in creativity as well as a chance to offer direction and education. “Cody and John” were very recently married when I first met them.  They were also expecting their first baby soon and needed to move out of the tiny home that John owned.  Here was the problem: John bought his home at the peak of the market.  Three years later, he owed more than the home was worth and wanted to avoid a Short sale with the bank to protect his credit. Fortunately, Cody had a friend looking to buy a house but couldn’t get approved for a traditional mortgage with her credit history anyway.  This left both sides with an obvious solution: Having Cody’s friend buy the house from John on Contract for Deed. This was when John called me to see how to go about this. I am not an expert on Contract for Deed’s.  My expertise is in Mortgage’s themselves. Fortunately, I have worked with many different professions and situations over the past fourteen years and sent them to a former client of mine who specializes in real estate law.  Scott could walk Cody and John through every portion of the Contract for Deed, ensure they had every legal protection in place that they would need and complete the transaction for them.  This is when I got to do my job and walk them through buying a new home for their budding family. Cody, John and their little daughter are happily set in their new home.  I still get to check in with each of them for pictures of their growing daughter and share parenting stories. It sounds like #2 won’t be too far off either… Have a great week!   -Matt

Buying a home: The first and most important question to ask.

Image courtesy of

Like many clients I work with ‘Barbara’ wanted more than anything to be a homeowner.  She had taken the time to save up a down payment and like many home shoppers, had started window shopping online in her spare time.

When I first spoke with her, she had a pre-approval from a large bank stating what price home she could buy.  The question posed to me was what interest rate she could get and what the closing costs would be for the type of home she was shopping for.  Important information that I was happy to provide.

I had one question for her: How much are you comfortable paying each month for a mortgage? I ask every home buyer this question before providing a pre-approval for a few reasons.

1. Your Budget is important!  Home ownership comes with many expenses that renters aren’t accustomed to.  Water bills, trash bills, higher energy bills.  Recognizing these costs before buying will keep your budget in line and avoid any potential of being ‘house poor.’

2. Online Calculators don’t give you the full information. Many leave out Mortgage Insurance (required in most cases if you have less than a 20% down payment) as well as not estimating property taxes or homeowners insurance.  This can lead to searching for a home that is really out of your comfort range.

3. Once we know this number, we can tailor the home search and mortgage process to meet your individual needs.  This process is fluid and based in communication between you and your mortgage professional.

Barbara spent the greater part of year finding the house that fit her budget and her needs, we traded emails back and forth any time she had a question or wanted to know the exact payment of a property near the top of her budget and once we closed on her new home, the smile on her face was worth $3 Million Dollars. Our hard work and cooperation paid off by getting her a home that not only gave her everything she wanted but would keep her from worrying about making a payment each month!

I live to hear “I love my house!”