Posted by: msundermier | December 9, 2019

Stories in the Making

The stage is set this week to be an incredibly volatile one filled with newsworthy headlines.  These stories could have huge implications for mortgage rates.  Generally speaking, mortgage rates fall when economic indicators are sluggish or uncertain.  This week’s scheduled events could make markets very nervous and, depending on the outcomes, push rates lower.

Here is a list of stories in the making this week:

December 10thThe World Trade Organization (WTO) will cease to operate.  This multi-lateral trading system underpins 96% of global trade, but our American government has put a block on appointing new judges.  Two judges are retiring this week, so there will not be enough judges to hear new cases. While this event has been in the making for months (if not years), its significance is noted, especially given the rising trade war tensions around the world.  With no “sheriff in town,” the “gun-slinging cowboys” of global trade may feel brazen to impose stiffer trade rules and costs.

December 11thThe last Fed press conference of 2019.  After two back-to-back rate reductions in the Federal Funds rate, most analysts are expecting The Fed to not take any action in this week’s meeting. However, what they say in their press conference could have ripple effects through the world’s financial markets

December 12thBritish election that will shape the fate of Brexit.  A special election is being held on the hope that the Prime Minister’s party will win majority in their parliament.  If that takes place, the Conservative Party’s agenda, which includes a quick exit from the European Union, will forge ahead more swiftly.

December 15thNew round of tariffs set to take effect on $160,000,000,000 of Chinese goods (that’s a lot zeros!!!). With no sign of a written trade agreement between the two biggest economies on the globe, it is possible the next round of scheduled tariffs on Chinese imported goods will take effect.  While prior tariffs have targeted production materials, this tariff will directly apply to finished Chinese goods sold in America, including cell phones and other electronic and household products.  With less than a week to go, it is still uncertain if this latest tariff is a threat or a promise.  Its anybody’s guess how the next few days will play out in the financial markets, and its by far the most important story to follow in the coming days.

USA and China trade war[1]_ US of America and chinese flags crashed contain

Indeed, uncertainty is high, and I think there is potential for mortgage rates to fall in the days ahead.  Peek back at my August and October blog posts that share my thoughts on these story lines in the past, and give me a call if you want my forecast on whats ahead.

Posted by: msundermier | October 29, 2019

This should be illegal, but it’s NOT!

Whether you like it or not, your credit information is for saleI first blogged about this little known scandal over a decade ago, and it is worth revisiting as this issue has become more rampant than ever.  In my opinion, it should be illegal (it’s not!), but there is something you can do to fight back and protect your credit information from being sold to aggressive cold-callers!


First a little back-story: under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, banks and other creditors can pay the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) to be notified when a competitor pulls your credit report.  For example, you come to me seeking guidance and estimates for home finance options.  To provide you with accurate information, I ask the credit bureaus to compile a credit report for your transaction (a service I have to pay the bureaus for).  The credit bureaus then notify other mortgage firms that you are shopping for a home loan.  These other “professionals” also obtain your contact information, and proceed to call you tirelessly offering their services.

Let me repeat for emphasis: when you choose to do business with me you should expect dozens of cold-calls from other lenders the moment I pull your credit!  You never granted these companies permission to call you, yet its legal for them to know when and why your credit is pulled.

I equate it to this: imagine you go into your favorite furniture store to buy a new sofa.  After a store associate walks you around the store and points out a few options, you decide on your sofa.  Upon making your selection, hidden cameras within the store notify competing furniture stores that you are about to buy something.  Droves of salespeople from OTHER furniture stores immediately come rushing into your favorite store, aggressively offering sofas, beds, dining room tables and other furniture alternatives while you’re in line to pay for the sofa you’ve already selected.


It may not be illegal, but its certainly an inappropriate practice!

Crazy, right??!!  Supporters of this practice defend it as capitalism at its finest. After all, if you’re shopping for a product isn’t it good to have options?  Yes, you should shop around, but you should do it on YOUR TERMS.  It is inappropriate for the credit reporting agencies to have the ability to sell your information to companies that you have no desire to hear from, particularly given their track record of keeping customer information secure (remember in 2017, Equifax had data of 143,000,000 consumers stolen by hackers)!

But there is something you can do to stop this harassing practice!  You can Opt-Out of these solicitations by visiting  You can submit an electronic request that will stop these solicitations for 5 years, or submit a request by mail to permanently opt-out.  There is no cost to do so, and it takes 1-minute to complete the electronic option.  It may take 5 days for the request to take effect, so I recommend ALL clients complete this simple process ASAP.

If you’d like to take it a step further, you can register with the Direct Mail Association (small $2 processing fee required) to reduce all forms of solicitations, including email, catalogs and other “junk mail” offerings.  Lastly, you can register with the National Do Not Call Registry to remove your mobile and landlines from Telemarketing lists.


Your credit information is valuable, and should not be shared with just any company willing to pay for it.  We hope you take the precautionary steps to protect it, and in doing so save some sanity by stopping unwanted solicitations.

Posted by: msundermier | October 28, 2019

Team Member Spotlight – Donna Adams

Donna is our most seasoned team member, having joined us the first year we opened our doors.  She immediately made an impact on how we handle transactions and, more importantly, how we care for clients.


Her perfect combination of industry experience and warm personality is a perfect fit within The Blue Waters Group.  As she has many team responsibilities and the licensing to originate loans and sell homes, its likely she’ll be essentially involved the next time you need our team’s help.
Posted by: msundermier | October 17, 2019

I’ve Never Done THIS Before!

Over my career, I’ve referred to my thoughts on the markets as forecasts. For example, my yearly post about the market is titled the annual market forecast, and I’ve been known to compare timing the markets with forecasting the weather.

Today I’m taking it a step further; I’m going to make a bold prediction about where interest rates are heading. I’ve never been so daring in my career, but in doing so I’m hoping to get you prepared to take advantage of what I believe will be record low mortgage rates in the coming months.

If I’m going to make such a provocative declaration, I want to back it up with data. So, as a fair warning I’m going to show you some graphs. Don’t close your browser just yet; I promise to make it impactful and easy to follow (it may be easier to watch the video starting at 1:15).


OK, here we go!  Above is a graph of the interest rates on 10-yr US Treasury Bonds. These rates are closely correlated to mortgage rates, so we’re just going to focus on the direction of the rates. As you can see, rates have been in mostly a free fall for the last year, and we’ve helped many clients in the last two months take advantage of these low rates. In fact, I’d like to focus on these recent two months where this jagged saw tooth action has been and show you where on this timeline our clients have been locking rates.

graph2Beginning in August, refinance clients began locking in their rates; each of these X’s indicate when one of my clients locked their loan. We were on a roll until just after Labor Day, and then rates took a big jump up on the announcement of a future meeting between US & China trade officials. During this volatile time, several clients submitted an application to refinance with us, but we recommended against locking in the hopes the markets over-reacted and would settle back down. That’s indeed what occurred, and we had a number of clients lock in their low rates in the “trough”. No one locked at the peak!


Now history appears poised to repeat itself. For the last week, rates have been on a steep rise as verbal agreements were made in the widely anticipated trade meetings. The US and China economies are the two largest in the world, so easing tensions of a trade war is definitely good news. But, I think the markets are being overly optimistic. First off, none of the details of this trade agreement are in writing yet. That is supposed to be done over the next several weeks. Secondly, analysts say the agreements do not address some of the more critical issues of the trade tensions; this is being called simply Phase 1 of trade discussions. And thirdly, trade and tariff policies can be set unilaterally by a president in the name of national security. They can also be changed or removed unilaterally.

Bottom line, the trade war outlook is still uncertain, and when the markets figure that out then rates will fall. There are other factors at play that support my theory, and I’m happy to share them with you individually, but for fear of losing my audience I’m just cutting to the chase…mortgage rates are poised to fall. That is my bold prediction; and here is my strong recommendation; begin a refinance application now so you can be prepared to lock in a low rate if my prediction comes true. A trusted colleague of mine put it this way…if you go tailgating at a football game you don’t want to still be in the parking lot when the big play happens. Sure, the roar of the crowd will prompt you to make your way in, but by the time you get into the stadium you’ve missed the moment. Grabbing a low rate on a refinance is much the same; you need to be in your seat, watching the game in order to participate in the exciting plays.


I can’t lock an interest rate until the needed paperwork to complete an application has been submitted. So, let’s do that now. If rates drop during the holidays do you really want to scramble to grab w2s and bank statements for me then? No, lets do it now. I’ll absorb any upfront application expenses for you, and if rates don’t drop we don’t need to complete the refi. There isn’t really any downside for you coming into the game: if my prediction is right you’ll get to celebrate with everyone on the field with a great refi rate, and if I’m wrong you’ll have a front-row seat to my crystal ball fumble.

Contact me so we can discuss ways we can make it easy for you to start your refinance application ahead of the next interest rate down turn.

Posted by: msundermier | October 16, 2019

Team Member Spotlight – Barry Harris

Barry joined our team in 2018 after working for a larger bank for many years.  He saw the value of working with an independent mortgage brokerage like us, and wanted to care for his clients with our teamwork approach.  Barry embodies all of the principles The Blue Waters Group holds paramount: honesty to all, commitment to clients, and excellence to his craft.



We are fortunate Barry has become a member in our work family, and a representative of The Blue Waters Group in our community.

Posted by: msundermier | August 16, 2019

WAR. CURVES. DRAMA. A Story Line For a Refinance BOOM!

War. Curves. Drama.

These may sound like buzz words of a summer blockbuster, but they are the central themes of our current financial markets and why mortgage rates are in a free fall.

Trade WAR
Political DRAMA

All of these factors (scroll down for the backstory on each) are pushing mortgages rates to historic lows, and giving nearly EVERYONE a reason to consider refinancing. Yesterday I quoted a rate I don’t think I’ve ever been able to offer…2.875% (3.17% APR) on a 10-yr fixed loan. Yes, a fixed-rate mortgage under 3%!!!

I have spoken to many clients in recent weeks, but I haven’t had a chance to connect with everyone. Many of our clients are refinancing for a wide variety of reasons, such as:

Lower interest rates and monthly payments
Cash out to pay off credit cards or student loans
Cash for home improvements
Remove PMI or adjustable rate 2nd mortgages

If any of these scenarios sound like they may apply to your finances and we have not yet spoken, please reach out to me ASAP. I’ll be working through the weekend to be sure I help my clients take advantage of these rates before they change. My team and I promise to get back to you quickly with no-nonsense advice on your refinance options.


Trade WAR
USA and China trade war[1]_ US of America and chinese flags crashed containThe escalating tensions between the US and China have the global markets very concerned. If it costs more to trade goods between the world’s two largest economies, then less goods will be traded. This will slow spending, profits, and potentially lead the world into the next global recession. We are watching this story closely, particularly as it affects mortgage rates.

Typically, the longer you invest your money, the greater return you should expect on your investment. For example, putting your funds in a 5-yr Certificate of Deposit (CD) will typically have a higher return than a standard savings account. If illustrated on a graph curve, the return on your investment (also called a “yield”) line goes up the more time your money is invested.

Business man drawing a graph EDITEDThis is also generally true when investing in US government bonds (also called “T-Bills”), but there have been a few instances in the last 70 years where this graph becomes INVERTED, meaning a bond buyer actually realizes a higher return from a shorter-term bond. And EVERY time this bond yield curve has become inverted since 1969, the beginning of a financial recession has followed in the months after. On August 14th, 2019, this yield curve became inverted for the first time since 2007 (a year before the latest recession), and the 30-yr bond yield hit an all-time low. During recessions, mortgage rates tend to be lower, so the recent foreshadowing has pushed mortgage rates lower as well.

Political DRAMA
Our teammate, Chris McGann, recently said that President Trump has more influence on the financial markets than Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. He has a point; due to Twitter and 24/7 media outlets, the financial markets are aware of the President’s political agenda and personal diatribes on a constant basis. As arguably the world’s most powerful person, the President’s actions, ambitions, and tweets must be considered by the financial markets.

The “Trump Effect” however, may be losing its potency, as the markets seem to be accounting for the fact a tweet rarely becomes legislative policy. Regardless, the unreliability of the signals President Trump provides the markets make things uncertain. This uncertainty is leading to lower mortgage rates.


Bottom line: mortgage rates are low and they may fall lower if these factors continue to plague our financial markets. While this may be unpleasant for your retirement portfolio, it creates tremendous opportunities for refinancing your mortgage.  Call us to help you easily navigate your options.

Posted by: msundermier | May 14, 2019

Interest Rates, Backyard Landscaping & The Weather Man

ed0431b4-364f-4e42-b156-60bd79610733[1]Spring is finally here! The sunshine and blue skies are a welcomed sight at our household. It also means that we are FINALLY able to get started on the next stage of our backyard landscaping project. We started phase 1 (the demo) last fall, and made quick progress. Demo goes REALLY fast when you get rid of everything! We also encountered plenty of delays, and as a result have had to stare at a lot of dirt—and when it rains mud—for the better part of 6 months!

Scheduling has proven to be the biggest challenge. When our contractors were available, the weather didn’t cooperate. And when the weather was good, our contractors had prior commitments. It felt a little like trying to catch lightening in a bottle. 7a7be339-e720-4266-8a96-9699f33f7915[1]We would try our best to plan ahead, but predicting the weather is 50/50 at best. After all, the weather man seems to be wrong as much as he is right. I went to great lengths trying to control the weather. I know that sounds funny, but I did. I thought if the grounds crew for the San Francisco Giants can keep the infield dry when it rains surely, I can keep my backyard from getting muddy. If I could succeed in keeping the ground dry then maybe, just maybe I’d be able to have the stars align for one Saturday when our contractor was also available. (How did I do? I’m happy to report that I was able to keep the ground dry. But as is often the case when you’re working with a good contractor who is in high demand, they had limited availability.)

Throughout the process, I realize a similarity between my responsibilities as a loan officer and my self-appointed duties as landscape project manager. In the same way that I can’t predict when the weather will be ideal for work on the landscaping project, I don’t know when rates will drop creating the ideal opportunity for our clients to capitalize on a refinance. What is within my control is my ability to keep in touch with our clients to know their needs and goals and stay vigilant to the direction that rates are headed. Much like the weather man’s forecast, I provide an educated forecast of what we anticipate rates to do. But we also stay prepared to reach out to our clients when rates improve unexpected. After all, you never really know when it’s going to be a sunny day!

Posted by: msundermier | April 2, 2019

2019 What to Expect

crystal ball (2)Many of us have begun to get our tax paperwork in the mail, and are beginning to get into that annual financial mindset of planning for the upcoming year. It probably doesn’t hurt that every third TV ad is H&R Block or Turbo Tax commercial! This annual market forecast is a timely message to my clients and readers who may be wondering if now is a good time to buy or sell.  I’ve always said forecasting is a fancy word for guessing.  No one knows for certain what lies ahead in our local real estate market. Nevertheless, as someone who witnesses the front-lines action in the market, I have the chance to share observed indicators with you.

Perception is Reality
From 2012 to 2017, demand was VERY high, supply was low, and interest rates were low (but rising). Those years were certainly a strong sellers’ market characterized by multiple offer situations and home values increasing 10% and higher year after year. 2018 on the other hand, the market began to shift. The combination of interest rates rising 1% coupled with low inventory has had a twofold effect on both buyers and sellers. Rising rates hurt buyers’ purchase power. Higher rates make it more expensive for sellers too, and many opt to not move further contributing to the low inventory problem. Many buyers anticipate (and hope) the market will run out of steam and have a wait and see mindset. These factors have led to the number of homes sold to decline for 11 straight months. While the rate at which homes are appreciating has slowed, values aren’t declining. In 2018, the Sacramento area saw an appreciation of 6-7% in home values. In 2019, I expect appreciation closer to 3-5%.

Buyers are getting picky (and they should)
According to the California Association of Realtors, the median sales price and median income in Sacramento County last year was $371,000 and $63,000, respectively. It would take the “median buyer” 16 years to save enough for a down payment of 20%. Fortunately for buyers, there are many options to purchase a home with less than the traditional 20% down payment. Many buyers can’t afford 20% down, but they’re able to afford the housing payment. With home prices at all-time highs, buyers are not willing to spend more on a house that is in need of improvements.

The Fixer Upper Effect
Everyone has a favorite home renovation show-I’m personally a fan of Nate and Jeremiah by Design. We watch while updating our Pinterest board with ideas for our dream home. But home renovations aren’t cheap! I know. My wife and I are 2 years and several $1000’s into our own. Like I mentioned above, it’s more difficult than ever to save money for a home purchase. Because of that buyers are no longer willing to pay extra for a house that isn’t turn key. If buyers are going to pay record prices, many want and expect the home to come with higher end finishes. A word of caution to sellers that are considering listing. Price accordingly. Yes inventory is still low, but it’s trending up. Don’t expect to list your home that has floral wallpaper, blue carpet, and avocado colored kitchen counter tops at an unrealistic price simply because you’re the only house for sale. Buyers aren’t willing to overpay for a fixer.

A Balanced Market is Coming
chris hands 2 (2)I anticipate sales activity to rebound in 2019; especially in the Sacramento area. Sacramento and the surrounding communities continue to be a popular destination for bay area transplants as well as other buyers looking to relocate. In fact, last year Sacramento was the number one destination for one way U-Haul rentals in the country! Yes, California (Sacramento included) is still in the midst of an unprecedented housing shortage that makes it one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S. However, over the last 2 months rates have fallen .5%, and we anticipate they will remain stable for the foreseeable future. Lower rates combined with increase inventory will help move the market more towards a balanced market. Expect to see home appreciation to slow to 3-5%. In my opinion, this is a win/win for buyers and sellers. Home values continue to go up, but not at a rate that prices out potential buyers.

Posted by: msundermier | April 2, 2019

It’s the Climb

mount20kilimanjaro (1)A few years ago my brother, Andy, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.  The trek requires 6 days of climbing to get to the 19,000+ summit and back.  Needless to say, I was eager to hear of this trip upon his return that took him to the top of an African mountain like no other on this planet.  Over a beer and a narrated slide show, Andy shared with me the details of this life-changing adventure.

As I reflect on his stories, I most remember his journey up the mountain rather than his time at the top.  Sure, the pictures of the summit were breath-taking, and the sense of accomplishment I saw in him was inspiring.  But, in life’s adventures it’s often the challenges, not the triumphs, which best define the experience. 

On Andy’s climb, one of his porters broke his leg, so they had to carry on with fewer resources until a replacement could catch up with their team.  On the day before the summit he climbed a cliff called Barranca Wall, a steep 800 foot vertical climb that intimidates many climbers to simply turn back down the mountain.  Andy and his team were among the first that day to tackle it, meaning they had a unique opportunity to be at the summit in solitude.  These challenges they faced and overcame are the pieces from his adventure that I most remember.

As the great philosopher Miley Ray Cyrus says, “It’s The Climb” (listen to it here) *

“I may not know it,
but these are the moments,
that I’m gonna remember most yeah,
just gotta keep going.”

It’s no secret; life is challenging for everyone.  For you, for me, for your Instagram buddies that only show the polished side of their lives…for everyone.   Several of my posts on this blog have been about dealing and struggling with challenges;

Living In Gratitude

Win Some, Learn Some

In some way, all of these posts have also been about embracing challenges.  “There’s always gonna be another mountain”, and “it’s always gonna be an uphill battle.”  We need to learn to embrace challenges, because life is rarely a cake-walk.  We can keep our eye on the summit and relish those moments when we’re at the top, but we need to remember that it’s the climb that defines our journey.  I think Andy would agree.

*The song “The Climb” is provided only for illustrative purposes, and is not meant to be distributed without copyrights.


Posted by: msundermier | March 19, 2019

Taxes Are Almost Due! Are You Prepared?

There are only 28 days until Tax Day! If you’re like most, you’re probably getting tired of all the tax commercials on TV. Doing your taxes is one of those activities that you either absolutely dread because it is so much work, or kind of look forward to because of the possibility of a refund. No matter how you feel about the subject, this year will be different because it is the first year we all prepare our taxes based on the changes from the 2017 tax reform.
Important Disclaimer – I am not a CPA, for that reason, do not take this as tax advice.
What I can speak to is that there have been major changes to the tax law. For example, the Child Tax Credit has changed. In case you were wondering, that cute tax deduction…I mean kid…is my trusted team member’s (Chris McGann) little boy.  Almost as important as our kids are our homes, and there have been changes to the tax law that affect home ownership. For example, homeowners are now only allowed to deduct a combined maximum of $10,000 in property and state income taxes on their federal returns – even if the amount they paid was greater than $10,000. There was also a significant change to the mortgage interest deduction. The cap on this deduction was lowered from $1 million to $750,000. While this doesn’t affect all of us, it does impact many people who live in high cost areas like the Bay Area. Ultimately, there are several noteworthy changes to the tax code that could impact you this year. Don’t wait until the last minute to file.
If you have questions about whether you’re preparing your taxes correctly, I’d be happy to recommend a good CPA.

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