Home Equity Line of Credit

If you want to get an equity line of credit, you need to go to your bank or credit union and you need to know what to shop for. I give advice to my clients as part of my ongoing service and it can be a useful tool for some and it can be a bad idea for others. Banks and credit unions generally don’t offer advice, they just offer financial products. I offer advice and here is some on HELOC’s



March 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment

Is your Mortgage Professional doing this?

I recently shared a Total Cost Analysis report with a Realtor to show her the options I had given to the client she had referred to me and she absolutely loved it and was just floored by all of the information and the vast array of choices presented to her clients. She was thinking that this was a fixed rate type of loan environment and that there were not really that many choices to make and you just choose a lender and move forward and it did not make much difference who you chose. I am happy to say that this report changed all of that in her mind and she felt compelled to refer all of her clients to me from that point forward and that was when I saw the real value of how I conduct my business.

Advisor Path

The she said something that took our conversation to the next level. She asked how I had shared this valuable information. I told her I had emailed it directly to the client so that both husband and wife could look at it when they had the chance and that online the report is actually interactive and then she said “It’s too bad you could not put yourself with the report so you could explain it as well as you did with me.”  She was completely blown away when I told her I had done precisely that and I showed her the following link.

Click here to see the report I showed her.

Years ago I decided that I was going to become a mortgage professional. I had been calling myself a pro for years but I actually wanted to become a pro and take my service and my business to the next level and I started investing in education so that I could go from Loan Officer to a consultant and a trusted advisor and in my travels I picked up some great information and some really powerful tools. I had come to take it for granted and this conversation reminded me that there are not that many professionals out there and even less trusted advisers.

I know this may read like a commercial for me or the way that I do business but it is much more than that. I believe strongly in what I do and the people that I serve and it has taken my relationships to a much higher level and that is what keeps me excited and engaged in what I do and ultimately what gets me to the office every day to continue to serve my clients.

If you want this type of service, give me a call or send me an email and let me know what you are thinking of doing with real estate today.

                                                                                                                  – Hans

October 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment

Certificate Of Eligibility for A VA Loan

In order to apply for a VA loan you will need a Certificate of Eligibility, or COE for short.

There are different steps required to receive a Certificate of Eligibility depending on your personal situation and branch of the military.

NOTE: You will need your DD214 Discharge papers no matter what route you take below. An honorable discharge and completion of your tour of duty are typically required in all cases.  This will determine if you are eligible for this benefit, you will need to contact a VA lender to determine if you qualify.

Group 1: Veterans, Activity Duty, Reservists and National Guard Members Who Been on Active Duty

If you belong to one of the above categories then you have three different ways that you can receive a COE:

  • Apply Through Mail: Fill out VA Form 26-1880, which you can find on va.gov, the official VA website. You can then mail it to the address that is listed on the form.
  • Apply Through A Lender: Your lender may be able to acquire your COE for you online; if so, the process typically only takes a few minutes. Be sure to speak to your lender beforehand to determine whether or not this is an option.

If for whatever reason you cannot print out Form 26-1880 you can contact the VA at 1-888-244-6711 and request a copy be mailed to you.

Group 2: Reservists and National Guard Members Who Have Not Been On Active Duty

Group 2 enjoys the same options as Group 1 above.

Group 3: Spouses of Veterans Who Either Passed Away During Service or As a Result of Service

Unlike the application options for Groups 1 and 2, you are required to mail your application.

If your spouse passed away during service, the process is relatively quick and straightforward. However, if your spouse passed away after service, the VA must first confirm that the death resulted from a disability connected to the service.

This process can take anywhere between 2 to 3 months depending on the current caseload of the VA.

To apply, download and fill out VA Form 26-1817, which you can find on http://www.va.gov, the official VA website. The address you should mail the form to is:

VA Loan Eligibility Center
PO Box 20729
Winston-Salem, NC 27120

Similar to above, if for whatever reason you cannot print out Form 26-1817, you can contact the VA at 1-888-244-6711 and request a copy be mailed to you.

Regardless of the category you personally fall into, you will have to provide some sort of evidence to prove you are eligible for a COE. The eligibility graph on the VA website (located at http://benefits.va.gov/homeloans/eligibility.asp) details exactly what kind of evidence will be required from you.

March 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment

All About Credit Scores

I was going to tell you all about credit scores here but these kids did it brilliantly so……..

November 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment

Which Loan fits you?

Look at the chart below to see which loan may fit you. Of course, you can always call or email me to discuss details and get you into the right home loan for you.

Click to Enlarge


June 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment

Realtor Tips – Lender Friendly Contracts

I LOVE Realtors!

July 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment

HARP 2.0 – Will that help me?

A lot of people can’t refinance because they owe more than their house is worth or they have a 2nd mortgage or Mortgage Insurance (MI) and we have solutions for many of those issues. There are several programs here now or coming but let’s start with the HARP which stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program.

What is HARP 2.0?    

Everyone is talking about HARP 2.0 and so let’s define it. First of all, since it is 2.0 that means that the program was already around and we are talking about changes so let’s show you what it looks like now and then discuss changes that are sort of in effect now and really in effect after March 19th 2012 when the new changes will be coded into the automated underwriting systems so we can actually approve these loans.

The first thing that you need to know is that this is only for people who have a mortgage already owned by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. People tell me all the time that their mortgage is owned by a big bank but if you have a 30 year fixed rate mortgage and it is not interest only, it is probably owned by Freddie or Fannie and I will show you how to find out a little later. Currently you can refinance your home even up to 125% Loan To Value (LTV) and there are different rules and pricing at different levels (95%, 105% etc.). Currently it is a little more difficult if you have a 2nd mortgage or MI. This is what HARP 2.0 is looking to fix.

The first part is easy, they have removed the LTV issue altogether. There will definitely be approvals where we do not need an appraisal but there will also be instances where appraisals will be required but in all instances, any LTV can be approved. Next, it is getting easier to keep a 2nd mortgage or HELOC in place while refinancing the first mortgage and we will be able to accommodate many loans with MI. There is another enhancement that limits the fees on these loans and the qualifying ratios will most likely be relaxed. My suggestion is to look online and see if your loan fits and if it does, gest started with your favorite lender. Start by going to  www.FreddieMac.com/mymortgage/ and/or www.FannieMae.com/loanlookup/  to see. Loan applications can be taken in mid February 2012 but may not be able to be fully approved until March 19th if you need the new rules. This program makes sense because they already own these loans and so giving people lower payments makes them more stable so everyone wins.

What if I don’t have a Freddie or Fannie Loan?

On the flip side, you can see why if Fannie or Freddie does not own your loan currently they may not be too excited to take on a new loan of $250,000 on a home that is worth only $200,000 but there may be hope for these people as well. There is talk of using FHA to help these folks even if they do not have a current FHA loan. I think this will probably come true but I do not know how long it will take or what the rules will look like so stay tuned.

Anything special if I have an FHA or VA or USDA loan?

One more note is that if you currently have an FHA, USDA or VA loan, you can get a streamline loan without an appraisal and with relaxed qualifying guidelines. We do not use debt ratios at all and we weigh heavily on whether the house payment has been made on time in the last 12 months. This program has been around for the entire 22 years I have been in business so the model is strong.

Please send me your real estate and mortgage related questions. I am happy to answer you and it may become the topic of a future article.

Hans Bruhner is a branch manager for First Priority Financial. Hans is licensed by the CA DRE # 01085398 and NMLS #243484 and First priority is licensed by the CA DRE # 00652852 and NMLS #3257. If you have a question, please contact him at (707) 347-9250 or hans@hansblog.com

March 22, 2012 by · 2 Comments

Consumer Tips – How to buy a used car

the meat of this video was shot and produced and edited by my friend Dave Bundtzen. He is awesome and I am trying to ride on his coat tails here. You can see more of Dave’s stuff at http://www.youtube.com/user/flixdigital

December 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment

Burma Shave in Guerneville, CA

I am definitely too young to remember Burma Shave ads along the highway but I have heard of it and I knew what was going on when I saw the signs along my beloved River Road stretching from the northern end of Santa Rosa all the way into downtown Guerneville. I did not understand what was going on exactly and why somebody was reviving the Burma Shave ad campaign when the product is not even around anymore.

I absolutely loved it and my friend and I took turns reading the catchy jingles with the punch line always being…. Burma Shave! This was the brain child of Allen Odell in 1926 and was an immediate hit well into the 60’s. Here is how it worked:









Watch below as my friends and I demonstrate how these work.



The whole idea is to have a little fun and to get people to stop in the cute little town of Guerneville and do a little shopping or get a sandwich and an ice cream….. basically not to just cruise right through.

We can thank Wendell Joost for coming up with this idea and executing it so well. I am not going to spoil anymore of the jingles or the story. You should go and live it for yourself. I will tell you this, you can go and read the catchy jingles on the roadway and then the last one lets you know that you can buy the jingle book in town at different merchants.

have fun this summer and take a drive! I know gas is expensive but it is cheaper than flying. In fact, you will have plenty of time to read the signs if you bike into town. You can get more information at www.burmashavesign.com

June 1, 2011 by · 3 Comments

Shredding party in Sebastopol

Financial Spring Cleaning



What did he say? What is Financial Spring cleaning?

As a mortgage banker and broker, we have a shredding service that comes by and destrys documents and copies of our clients sensitive information when we are done with it. This is a service we pay for and they come periodically in a super cool truck and we can actually see the documents shredded and carted off. I am happy to report that Integrity Shred  in Santa Rosa is our shredding vendor and they recycle the paper and their name truly represents who they are.

Several friends of mine know that I have this service and over the years have asked to drop off their own sensitive documents that they have saved and wish to get rid of in a safe way. This got me thinking that it might be a really good idea to offer this service to the community that we serve so that they too can purge their garage or shed or home office of unwanted and sensitive documents.

Last year we had a woman stop by with 17 years worth of patient records from her husband’s medical practice. he had passed away years earlier and she felt she had hung onto them long enough. Please be considerate of others and bring no more than 10 boxes to shred.  Any more than that will simply take too long and hold up the process for others.

Talk to your friends and family and tax advisors and lawyers about how long to keep certain documents. Some things you may be advised to hang onto for 7 years and other items could possibly be tossed after 3 years.

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May 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment

Why work with a local lender

Many people ask me why they would work with a local lender and the answers are plentifull for me. Number one is that I am the local lender so I would rather you chose me over some big bank lender. That keeps me employed and it keeps me paying rent on my office and it keeps folks employed in that office and it keeps food on the table for my family and the family of my employees, local appraisers and title companies. That is my selfish reason but I have some selfish reasons for you as well:

  • Get real advice from someone you will see in your community.
  • Get the same rates and fees or less for that good advice.
  • Have a resource that you can drop in on and call well after the transaction has closed.


I have been helping people for 2 decades and most of that has been right here in Sonoma County. I am proud of the work that I do and proud to have helped so many of my neighbors get into homes or save money on their mortgage payments or help work with financial planners to make a comprehensive plan for people. Most of my clients are referred to me, give me a call and find out why.

April 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment

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Hans Bruhner and Finance of America Mortgage LLC are both licensed by the California Department of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act.