Stephens was dead to begin with.
Sorry, maybe we should provide some context before we get to that part. To celebrate the holiday season, we’re doing a Reach Home Loans-themed version of Charles Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol. Our star is Brandon Brotskrooge, a grumpy guy who’s hoping to buy his first home during 2019. The problem is that he doesn’t know anything about buying a home, much less getting a mortgage. Going into the housing market ignorant is a decision that will come back to haunt you.
In this case, literally!
Brotskrooge was terrified to find out, when he arrived at his apartment on Christmas Eve, that his deceased business partner Adam Stephens was waiting for him. Ghost Adam looked spooky, wrapped in chains, with sheets of paper strung along them. “Brandon,” wailed Adam. “It is I, Adam Stephens, sent to warn you: Pay off your credit card bills!”
Adam was notorious for his credit card debt, buying brightly colored suits and motivational posters for the office. He explained that even after he died of heartbreak from not being able to buy the home of his dreams, his bad credit had followed him to the grave, chained to him forever. Brotskrooge thought this sounded a little melodramatic, but Adam persisted:
“I have come to warn you so that you can avoid a similar fate as I,” he said. “Tonight you will be visited by three spirits, who will advise you on the homebuying process! Be prepared for the first ghost, when the bell tolls one!”
The Ghost of Mortgage Preparation Past
Brotskrooge went to bed, a little shaken from the conversation with his dead buddy. He had slept for a few hours, and then a fog appeared in his room. In a poof of smoke, a glowing specter appeared, his robes billowing in the air, despite the lack of breeze.
“Hello Brotskrooge,” said the ghost. “I am Gian, the Ghost of Mortgage Preparation Past. I’m here to show you what must be done before you apply for a mortgage, so that you’ll qualify for the home of your dreams.”
With a sweep of the ghost’s hand, they were at the local Harley Davidson dealership, where past Brandon was licking his lips and looking at a ‘hog. “Just don’t do it man,” the ghost said. “Making a big purchase drags your credit down, and that’s the last thing you want happening before applying for a mortgage.” He waved his hand again, and they appeared at Brandon’s favorite boutique for buying leather jackets. “Try faux leather this year,” the ghost said. “You’ll want to put that extra cash toward a down payment. The more you can put down, the less you’ll need to borrow, and the less total interest you’ll pay. Also, if you can put 20% down, you’ll get out of mortgage insurance!”
With that, the ghost left Brandon at his apartment to await the next spirit.
The Ghost of Mortgage Present
Brotskrooge awoke again, this time because of the bright lights coming from the opposite room. He didn’t mind the haunting so much, but he wished they wouldn’t waste electricity.
A giant, muscular ghost in a green robe sat in the kitchen. “I’m Justin, the Ghost of Mortgage Present,” he said. “Come in and know the mortgage process better, man!”
The spirit ghost-zapped them to a showing, full of eager buyers. “See that couple over there, happily chatting on the phone?” he said, pointing. “They’re speaking with their Realtor, and they feel confident that they can win this home, even with all the competition. And it’s because they got Preapproved for a mortgage before they started looking at homes.”
Brotskrooge was curious. “What should I know before going in for Preapproval?” The ghost was happy to assist. “You should look at your current financial situation and decide what works best for you,” he explained. “Consider how much home you need, and figure out how much down payment you’re willing to put down for it. Keep in mind that you’ll want to save some cash for closing costs, as well as at least two-months of funds just in case.”
“Anyway, good talk,” the ghost concluded. “Have fun with the next one. He’s a bit more spooky.”
The Ghost of Mortgage Yet-to-Come
The ghost wasn’t kidding. Brotskrooge jumped a foot in the air when he saw the next spirit; it wore a dark hood, and a stream of fog billowed from under its robe. It offered no introduction, but waved its creepy hand, beckoning Brotskrooge to follow.
They entered Brotskrooge’s living room, where much of the furniture was missing. Brandon could see himself crying on the couch. “Why am I so upset, spirit?” It pointed at papers spread out on the floor. Brotskrooge picked one up; it was a notice of foreclosure. He picked up the other papers and saw unpaid mortgage bills. He looked at the amount owed; clearly he had not planned wisely when choosing his home. The ghost waved its hand and they appeared in a graveyard. “Why are we here?” Brandon asked, his voice trembling. The ghost pointed toward a gravestone, covered in snow. Brotskrooge stumbled toward it, imploring the ghost as he went. “Oh no. Please no,” he said. “I can change! I’ll do whatever it takes! Please not this!” He knelt down, fearing the name he would see on the stone. He wiped the snow.
“Potential for Renovations or Other Investments Lost Because Homeowner Didn’t Tap Into His Equity.”
“Oh. That’s not what I was expecting,” Brotskrooge said, turning back to the ghost. “Equity is a big deal, huh?”
The ghost lowered its hood (revealing Byron, by far the scariest member of the Reach Home Loans staff). “Yeah dude,” it said. “There’s a record amount of equity stored in homes right now, and people are afraid to tap into it because interest rates are going up. But speaking to your lender about refinancing or another method allows you to get at your equity while paying as little as possible in interest.”
“Cool,” said Brotskrooge. “I guess I’m ready to create an informed home-buying strategy now! Thanks Reach Home Loans Ghosts!”
We hope you enjoyed this classic tale. Happy holidays to you and yours from the Reach Home Loans team!