Mortgage and Portfolio Loan Guide

Do I qualify for a home loan?

Here are all the answers to the question “Do I qualify for a home loan?” The answer to that question is really a four part question regarding you income, credit, assets, and property.

The real questions to be asking are:

  • Does my income qualify me for a mortgage?
  • Does my credit meet mortgage requirements?
  • Are my assets enough to cover the required down payment, closing costs, escrows, and reserves?
  • Does the property I am looking to buy meet lender guidelines and requirements?

In this post I will cover the answers to all of those questions and more. You’ll know exactly what you’re up against when seeking mortgage approval.

Does my income qualify for a home loan?

When applying for a mortgage you have to think like an underwriter.

Regarding income, here is how an underwriter thinks: “does this potential borrower show consistency and stability with their income and employment history?”

In the mortgage world consistency is best demonstrated by providing proof of income for the most recent two year history. If your income is the same or more this year than it was last year, and the year before – that means your income is consistently increasing.

If your income is less last year than it was the year before, that means your income is “declining”. Declining income demonstrates instability, and could potentially cause an issue with approval unless there is a legitimate reason for the declining income.

If showing declining income it helps to show that you’re back on your feet by showing your year to date income is back on track to earn what you did in previous years.

If you are W-2 employee of a company your income will be based on the gross amount on your pay stub. If you are a salary employee it’s very simple.do I qualify for a home loan income

If you are an hourly employee your income is: your wage X average hours per week X 52 / 12.

If you recently received a raise, your income will be based on your most recent raise.

For incentive pay like commission, bonus, overtime – you will need a 2 year history of receiving that income in order to be able to demonstrate consistency/stability.

What if you are self-employed? See full article on how your income is considered.

The way the lender decides if you’re eligible for a loan is by calculating your income and measuring that against your monthly liabilities (including all items shown on credit, alimony/child support, and all real estate obligations). The underwriter divides your debt into your income (or debt to income ratio).

So if your debt is 4,000/month and your income is 8,000/month, you have a 50% debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.

Most lenders to not like to see debt-to-income ratio above 45%, but in some cases 50% DTI is accepted with strong compensating factors (high asset reserves, low loan to value ratio, etc.).

Does my credit meet mortgage requirements?

Credit = credibility of previous payment history.

You have 1 score from each bureau:

  • Transunion
  • Equifax
  • Experian

For a standard conventional loan, 620 middle credit score is needed. [For other loan types, there are cases where you can go as low as 500 credit score. Just ask.

So if you have scores of 650, 675, 690 – the 675 score is what is used.

Important Note: The scores that the credit bureaus report to mortgage lenders are different than what is reported to consumers who pull consumer reports. The scores that lenders see are almost always lower than what you might pull on CreditKarma.com.

CreditKarma.com is still a great site, and gives you something to start with when trying to get an idea of where you stand.

Aside from actual credit score, here are the things lenders look for on your credit report:

  • On time payment history (or lack thereof – aka late payments)
  • Length of credit established
  • Derogatory marks like collections, charge-offs, judgments, tax liens
  • Major credit events like bankruptcy, foreclosure, short sale

Payment History

It’s crucial to be able to show minimal late payments in the most recent 24 months, especially on housing payment history. Most traditional loans only allow one 30 day late payment in the last 12 months.

But there are alternative loan options for unique credit circumstances.

Length of Established Credit

In many cases there will be a need to show at least 12 months of established credit. However, there are exceptions.

If you have 10-20% down payment, >2 years on the job, and can prove rent history, it may be possible to get approved with less than 12 months credit history.

No Credit Score | No credit Historydo i qualify for a home loan credit

Some people just like to pay cash. Plain and simple. I get it.

For those who have no credit established, and no credit score, you may still qualify for a mortgage by using non-traditional credit approach.

A non-traditional credit report would consist of 3 accounts you pay toward that do NOT show on your traditional credit report.

Examples of non-traditional credit:

  • Rental payments
  • Utility payments (gas, electric, water, landline, home phone, cable)
  • Netflix/HULU
  • Child care
  • School tuition
  • Proof of 12 months savings
  • Gym membership
  • And more

If you have a legitimate (and consistent) 12 month payment history on an account there is a chance it may be considered by the lender in the overall decision to lend.

Derogatory Marks

For minor collections, there are cases where they do not need to be paid off prior to closing on your home loan. Medical collections are given some flexibility as well.

But if you have more than $1,000 in outstanding collections, they will most likely need to be paid prior to closing.

Judgments and tax liens must be paid prior to closing. The lender does not want to have to deal with those obligations potentially becoming a lien on the property/collateral.

These derogatory marks do not necessarily need to be removed from the credit report. Most of the time, the lender just wants legitimate proof or paper trail to confirm the obligation has been paid/satisfied/settled.

Disputed Accounts

When you dispute an account on your credit report because you disagree with the way it is being reported, the credit bureaus immediately disregard that account when calculating your scores.

The result of disputing an account is the credit scores go up. This is because the negative account that is being disputed is not being included in the overall scoring calculation.

For that reason, lenders will typically not allow a loan to proceed until the dispute has been removed, and new credit has been pulled. The logic is: if there is a disputed account, the credit scores are artificially high.

Major Credit Events

On most mortgage loans there is a waiting period between when a person has gone through a major credit event, and when they are eligible for new home financing. Below is a basic summary of what to typically expect as far as waiting periods are concerned. [there are portfolio loans where no waiting period is required]

  • Bankruptcy – Chapter 7
    • FHA – 2 year waiting period
    • Conventional – 4 year waiting period
    • VA – 2 year waiting period
    • USDA – 3 year waiting period
    • Portfolio Loan – No waiting period with 20% down payment if home was included in foreclosure.
  • Bankruptcy – Chapter 13
    • FHA – Must have 12 months on time payments and permission from trustee to enter new mortgage. Must be manually underwritten if less than 2 years.
    • Conventional – 2 year waiting period
    • VA – 1 year waiting period
    • USDA – 1 year waiting period
    • Portfolio Loan – No waiting period with 20% down payment
  • Foreclosure
    • FHA – 3 year waiting period
    • Conventional – 7 year waiting period (Unless property that foreclosed was included in bankruptcy. If home was included in BK, waiting period is based on bankruptcy discharge date)
    • VA – 3 year waiting period
    • USDA – 3 year waiting period
    • Portfolio Loan – No waiting period with 20% down payment
  • Short Sale or Deed-in-lieu
    • FHA – 3 year waiting period
    • Conventional – 4 year waiting period
    • VA – 3 year waiting period
    • USDA – 3 year waiting period
    • Portfolio Loan – No waiting period with 20% down payment

Keep in mind, guidelines change constantly. It would appear a portfolio loan is a good option if you’re back on your feet and don’t yet meet traditional waiting period requirements. More on portfolio loans here.

Do my assets meet home loan requirements?

When evaluating assets the underwriter is reviewing available funds for:

  • Down payment – The amount that you’re coming out of pocket to secure the home.
  • Closing costs – The fees associated with acquiring the home (appraisal, origination, title, closing, recording, etc.)
  • Escrows/prepaids (for taxes and insurance) – The amount set aside to account for taxes and insurance on the property
  • Reserves – The amount of left over available funds

The funds used to qualify must be “seasoned” in your account for 60 days to be eligible funds. Any large deposits that are not seasoned must be explained and sourced. Cash deposits are unacceptable because the source cannot be verified/confirmed.

If you have a property that you are simultaneously selling during the process of buying the new home, the proceeds of the sale of that previous home do not need to be seasoned. You will need to provide proof of sale of the home (purchase and sale agreement) as well as the closing statement prior to closing on the new home.

Reservesdo i qualify for a home loan assets

The logic of reviewing reserves is: if the borrower should unexpectedly fall on hard times, there is enough set aside to cover the mortgage payment for X number of months.

Showing adequate reserves helps strengthen the overall file.

Reserves can be from your traditional bank account, brokerage account, retirement account, etc. You cannot use a non-borrower’s account to show reserves.

Gift Funds 

For most loan types gift funds from family are acceptable. There are scenarios where a non-family member can gift the funds, but every lender is going to have a different interpretation of who is acceptable. For best results, just ask.

Non-Liquid Assets

Cars, RV’s, heavy equipment, beanie babies… are not liquid assets.

Vehicles and other items that can be easily valued, can be considered if sold and properly documented.

If you sell a car in order to qualify for a mortgage be sure to have kelly blue book value on hand, bill of sale, and copy of the check you received when you sold the vehicle. Having a full paper trail helps tremendously.

 

Does the property being financed meet lending guidelines?

There are an infinite number of reasons the property might not meet lender requirements.

I am going to cover some of the most common reasons the property can be the cause of denial with the lender.

Non-Warrantable Condo

When buying a condominium, not only does the borrower’s finances get evaluated, but the homeowners association is also closely reviewed.

The lender will order a “condo questionnaire” in order to evaluate the health of the association.

They’ll look for things like: completion status, investor concentration, pending litigation, and so much more.

More on non-warrantable condos here.

Repairs Neededdo i qualify for a home loan house

If the property is in disrepair, the lender will require completion of repairs prior to closing in most cases. Repairs needed will be determined based on appraiser’s comments in the appraisal report.

The repairs need to be completed by the seller, and a final inspection will be needed prior to closing to confirm completion.

If the repairs are fairly minor, there are many landers that will allow a “repair escrow”.

A repair escrow is where funds are set aside at closing to cover the cost of the repairs needed. Then the loan closes, and repairs are done after closing. A final inspection is completed when ready.

Typically this only allowed when repairs are no more than $5,000. With a repair escrow, 150% of the estimated repair costs are collected in case of unexpected cost overages.

Example: if the repairs needed are estimated to be $3,000, the actual amount collected for the repair escrow will be $4,500.

If the excess funds aren’t used, the difference will be refunded to the borrower or applied toward the principal balance.

For properties in need of major repair. There are renovation mortgages available on both FHA and conventional.

Unique Property Type

One of the most crucial parts of the appraisal report has to do with the appraiser being able to find recently sold homes that are comparable in size/condition/use that have sold within a reasonable distance.

If there are unique features to the property, the appraiser may have a challenge that cannot be resolved due to market conditions.

Even if there are comparables, some lenders simply do not allow unique property types.

Unique features that could be a challenge:

  • Berm homes
  • Properties that are not suitable for year round occupancy regardless of location
  • Agricultural zoned property
  • Condo hotels
  • More than 20 acres
  • Hobby farms
  • Leaseholds
  • Rustic log cabins
  • Working farms, ranches, or orchards

For unique property type financing, a portfolio loan may be a solution.

In Summary

There are four major pieces of the scenario to consider when asking the question “do I qualify for a home loan”?

Those pieces are: income, credit, assets, and property.

If any of your questions were left unanswered I strongly encourage you to reach out to me below and ask.

If I cannot help, I should be able to point you in the right direction at the very least.

self employed home loans

 

 

5 Reasons Your Home Appraisal Matters

If you have gotten to the point in the home buying process where an appraisal has been ordered, you’re now moving forward full steam ahead.

Pre-approved. Check.

Found the house. Check.non-warrantable condo

Offer accepted. Check.

Inspection passed with flying colors. Check.

Condo meets requirements. Check.

Time to order appraisal.

Congratulations!

It’s no secret that when buying a home an appraisal plays a significant role in completing the process successfully.

For the most part, the biggest anxiety for all parties is “did the home appraise for the contract price?” While the value is indeed extremely important, there is more that an appraisal brings to the table.

The truth is there are several crucial ways that an appraisal contributes to the approval process other than a highly detailed opinion of fair market value of the property.

Let’s look at those truths with a bit of detail and perhaps provide some clarity to the impact an appraisal has on the home buying process.

5 Reasons Your Real Estate Appraisal Matters

mortgage homeTiming

Getting an appraisal back within a reasonable time frame can make or break a deal. If you’re in a rural area or in an area where the real estate market is booming, you could wait up to 3 weeks or more just to get the appraisal results. This can be even more frustrating if the appraised value comes in low or repairs are needed.

Right now there are even some areas in the country where appraisers are flat out declining appraisal orders because they know they do not have the capacity to turn the appraisal report around in a timely manner.

When the purchase contract states that the deal needs to close within 45 days, and it takes 40 days to get appraisal results, expect an extension to the purchase agreement.

2-real-estate-appraisalCondition

If you’re getting a mortgage, the property needs to meet some basic standards for the lender to give the thumbs up on acceptable property condition.

Common property condition issues that pop up on appraisals and cause issues: mold in the attic or basement, peeling paint on the outside of the home or garage, trip hazards, broken windows, and missing fixtures.

Anything noticeably wrong with the property is likely to be pointed out on the appraisal report including photos. When there are repairs noted on the appraisal the seller will need to complete those repairs prior to closing, and the property needs to be reinspected by the same appraiser to confirm the requested repairs have been made.

home mortgageComparables

When coming up with an opinion of value, the appraiser selects recently sold homes within the market that are similar in size/condition/location/amenities.

The appraiser then compares those homes with the subject property and makes adjustments based on differences and similarities between the homes.

For example: if the subject property is a 3 bed, 2 bath ranch on .5 acre, the appraiser would look to include 3 bed, 2 bath ranches that sit on a .5 acre lot. The appraiser would not be including a 3 bed, 2 bath condominium.

It doesn’t have to be identical and size and condition, but it does need to be the same property type. Unique properties can be very difficult to finance. If there are no similar properties sold within a reasonable distance and time frame (underwriter discretion) the deal could be dead. There is also a limit to how much an appraiser can make adjustments on value based on the differences in homes.

If the adjustments made are too high, the comparable property used could be considered irrelevant or unacceptable and would need to be replaced by a better comparable if possible.

home mortgageConfidence

For some buyers the appraised value can have an impact on their ego.

Let’s say you get under contract on a house for $300,000 and it appraises for $380,000. There might be an increased warm and fuzzy feeling knowing you got a good deal. Another confidence booster in a case like this is that if you’re going to be paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) due to a low down payment, you may be able to refinance in a year and then use the new appraised value to drop your PMI (which could save you hundreds of dollars a month).

Knowing that you have instant equity in the home that you already loved to begin with can really add a nice cherry on top.

house home loanCompliance

The collateral (the house) used to secure the mortgage must comply with lender guidelines.

One of the biggest issues when talking about compliance has to do with finding out if the home is a non-warrantable condo (does not apply to single family homes). If the property is a condominium the appraiser will reveal information pertaining to the number of units that are owned by 1 entity, number of units that are not complete, and other important information about the condo that could cause issues. [more on non-warrantable condos here]

Another fairly common issue that can come up as a compliance issue is number of acres the property sits on. Depending on what type of loan program you’re seeking, there may be an issue with giving any value to acreage beyond 10-20 acres. For someone buying a 50 acre property, this can be a deal breaker if most of the value is in the land.

If the appraisal states subject property was recently was sold, there could also be flipping restrictions depending on what type of loan you’re seeking.

The appraisal can clearly make or break the deal in several unique ways other than home value.

mortgage loan officerIf you have run into an appraisal issue that you seem to not be able to get around, you may want to consider looking into getting a portfolio loan. Portfolio loans are mortgages designed to help with unique property scenarios. Portfolio loans are also a great option if there are unique income or credit circumstances. More on portfolio loans here.

In addition, if you have run into a challenge on obtaining a mortgage that you can’t seem to get around, I invite you to reach out to me for a possible solution. If I cannot help, I should be able to point you in the right direction at the very least.

 

real estate investment loans

Zero Down Mortgage – USDA Home Loans

RD loan

Zero Down Mortgage

Did you know that even if you’re not a veteran you can buy a home with a zero down mortgage in many areas? And it’s not too good to be true. There are, however, some restrictions regarding location and income.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development guaranteed loan usdalogoprogram is a government loan designed to help low-moderate income earners purchase a home in “rural” areas. However, you may be surprised to see what the government considers to be rural and low-moderate income.

Income

The income restrictions will vary across the country and even across each state. Here is an example for my local market in Livingston County, Michigan. For a guaranteed RD loan the annual household income must be at $93,450 or below. Even if the spouse is not a borrower on the loan, their income will be used as a factor in the household income. USDA looks at the whole picture, not just the applicant. You can use this tool to help you get an idea if your family qualifies for an RD loan in regards to income. Remember when using that tool, you’re looking for qualifying on the guaranteed loan, which will maximize your buying power from in income standpoint.

Location

Many folks are shocked when they take a look to see that their neighborhood is in an area that is considered to be a “rural area” which allows them to get a zero down mortgage. Just outside the metro Detroit area and not far from many major cities Rural Development financing is available. Although the mapping tool on the USDA website is not 100% accurate, you can use this tool to give you an idea of what areas are eligible. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that you don’t have be living “out in the sticks” to be eligible for Rural Development financing.

What is also exciting about RD loans is that you can buy a condo with this program as long as it’s within the eligible geographic limits. Crazy right? Some people call RD loans “farm loans” and you can buy a condo with them. How awesome is that?!

What to Expect

  • Make sure you have your ducks in a row in respect to credit. You don’t need to have perfect credit, but it needs to be reasonable.
  • The process may take a little bit longer than other loans because it needs to get final approval by USDA after the lender approves it. However, right now in my particular market in Michigan, the RD turn time is 2-3 days. So not a significant delay currently.
  • Mortgage insurance is significantly less than FHA on a monthly basis, about 1/3 of what it costs on FHA.

There are so many expenses to consider when buying a home. So if you have an opportunity to buy with a zero down mortgage, and you qualify, why not take advantage of that opportunity?

Watch Video:

The Mortgage Collateral

The Property Piece of the Mortgage Puzzle

It’ game time. You have the steady job. Your down payment is sitting safely in your bank account. Your credit expert helped you get things cleaned up. You’re now ready to buy a home! It’s time to put together the last piece of the mortgage puzzle, the property. This is where the fun begins. The factors to consider when figuring out what home fits you the best are endless. This should help you gain an understanding, and a snapshot on how the process works when you find the home of your dreams.
 
Collateral
 
The home you are purchasing is the collateral being used to secure the financing you’re getting. If you expect a lender to give the green light to finance a home for you, be prepared for them to perform due diligence as well. Your lender will have certain standards that the property needs to meet. 
 
Inspection
 
Once your Realtor has helped you negotiate an amazing price, it’s time to order the inspection. Although lenders mortgage collateraldon’t typically require a general inspection to be completed by a licensed inspector, it’s highly recommended that you get one yourself. Your Realtor usually will have a couple recommendations of credible inspectors in your area. An inspection can cost anywhere from $300 to $800 depending on the scope of work and the property size. Your inspector will examine each component of the house in order to give an opinion on what meets code (electrical, HVAC), what doesn’t meet code, and what the estimated remaining life of items might be (water heater, roof, furnace). The cost that you pay for an inspection pales in comparison to the value you receive by knowing exactly what you’re “getting yourself into” with a potential home purchase.

Appraisal

Your lender will require an appraisal to be completed, and will submit an order through a third party. There is no need to order your own appraisal because privately ordered appraisals cannot be used or considered by a lender. The cost can vary depending on scope of work and property size. Typically $400-$750. The purpose of an appraisal is to get an opinion of fair market value of a home, and to find out if there are any serious issues with the home (peeling paint, broken windows, mold…). The appraiser will physically go out to the property to do an general inspection, take pictures, and take measurements. The appraiser will pull records of recent sale history for similar properties that have sold within the area of the home you’re buying. He/she will take into consideration the square footage, amenities, condition, age, and other important factors that contribute to value. The appraiser will make specific adjustments to value based on how those factors compare to the actual property being sold. By doing that, the appraiser can make an educated decision of what people are willing to pay for a home that is similar to the one you’re buying. This is called the sales comparison approach. This approach gives the best indication of what the fair market value is because it’s based on what people are actually willing to pay in that given market. If any repairs needed are noted by the appraiser, there is a strong likelihood that those repairs will need to be completed. You don’t necessarily want to make any repairs, nor will you be authorized in most cases, because you don’t own the home yet. What if you spend $100, and a Saturday afternoon installing a rail on a porch, just to find out you can’t close on the home for other reasons? Doesn’t make much sense.

Property Type

  • Single family home – This is your typical stick built, built from the ground up, free standing home. You’ll be required to maintain your own landscaping, snow shoveling, and exterior maintenance. You may or may not have an organized homeowners association (HOA) in your neighborhood. The HOA will help with general street maintenance and neighborhood needs. Be mindful of what the HOA fees are because it can have an impact on your debt-to-income ratio. In some areas you may think you’re buying a single family home, but find out too late that it’s a “site-condominium”. Depending on your loan program, your lender may have to do a more extensive review of the property and HOA if the home is found to be a site-condo.
  • Condominium – This can be a home in a community of 1 or 2 story homes that are attached, or a building of many stories containing units stacked on top of one another (like an apartment building). You own the interiorcollateral mortgage of the home. The exterior is typically maintained by the HOA, so the HOA fees are typically more costly on a condo. There are usually amenities like a pool and exercise facility among other things. Condos are popular for people who want to enjoy the benefits of homeownership, but pass on the headache of maintaining anything outside the home. Condos require a more thorough review than any property type. The lender will examine the financials of the HOA in detail. They’ll look for things like reserves, delinquent owners in the community, and insurance coverage. If you are getting an FHA loan or a VA loan, you can find out what condos are already approved in your area. For FHA approved condos in your area click hereFor VA approved condos in your area click here
  • Townhome – A townhome can be a very similar setup as the condo that’s in a community with 1 or 2 story homes that are attached. With a townhome you do own the land outside but the HOA will cover day to day maintenance usually. Your lender will contact the HOA, but typically will not be as strict on guidelines as they would be on condos.
  • Manufactured home – These are homes that are built in a factory and placed on a piece of property. It can be a challenge to find a lender for manufactured home financing. One of the reasons many lenders do not offer financing on manufactured homes is because manufactured homes typically depreciate in value. In other words, the value of the home will likely decrease over time. Whereas the value in a single family home, condo, or townhome, will typically increase (appreciate). Of course the housing meltdown in recent years has made many people question that fact. But historically, real estate is a great investment, and will appreciate in value.  
  • Multi-unit – any property that is being sold as piece that has several functional dwellings (units). These are duplex (2 unit home), triplex (3 unit home), and fourplex or quadplex (4 unit home). You can obtain a residential mortgage on multi-unit homes as long as they are 4 or less units. Anything with 5 or greater units will require a commercial loan. Multi-unit homes are a great way to supplement your income and have your mortgage paid for by the tenants.

Escrow Account

  • General – Your escrow account is a cushion set aside so that you have adequate funds available to pay your taxes and insurance when they are due. At closing you’ll pay for your full year of homeowners insurance, and several month’s worth of your taxes (depending on the time of year and frequency of taxes due). In your mortgage payments moving forward you’ll pay a fraction of your annual homeowners insurance and taxes. Each payment will contribute to your escrow account so that enough is accumulated when the next tax or insurance bill is due. Your lender will manage your escrow account for you. This keeps things simple for you because you do not have to worry about having to pay a large bill for taxes and insurance two or more times per year. It’s all included in your payment so you have less responsibility to manage. If you have a FHA loan, VA loan, or put less than 10% down, you’ll be required to have an escrow account with your lender.
  • Insurance – You’ll need to obtain an insurance policy to cover unexpected, significant damage on the home. Each property type will have different requirements, and needs that will be covered. Your Realtor and your lender can give you insight on what type of coverage to get. Certainly the insurance agent you choose will be the expert in that field on what coverage you need.
  • Real Estate (property) Taxes – Be mindful of how much the taxes on your property are. This can make a significant difference on your budget and your debt-to-income ratio. Your taxes are likely to fluctuate, which can cause an adjustment in your monthly escrow payment.

Congratulations! 

With the information you’ve been able to acquire by skimming through the “keeping your home loan process simple” series, you’re now more prepared than the vast majority of home buyers. Use this as a reference. Use it as a tool to come back to as you get closer to being ready to take the next step into the American dream. Subscribe by email to stay in the loop on the latest and greatest info on homeownership, and balanced living.  

A few closing tips…

From Livingston County, Michigan expert, and licensed inspector, Dominic Vagnetti of Inspections on Demand. 517-540-0800

 

-Roof conditions and foundations are the two most worrisome items for buyers. Roofs are a disposable product and we want to start paying extra attention as they reach their 20th birthday. We are seeing longer lifespans from dimensional (or architectural) designs, however exceptions are always present. Curling, granule loss, missing shingles are things a buyer can see driving up to the property.

-Foundation cracks can be problematic but are most commonly superficial. Look for signs of water leakage that would require injection sealant, gaps larger than 1/4 inch, or horizontal cracks which can be signs of significant movement.

-Foundation waterproofing and drainage are mostly typical of 1970s and newer homes. Prior to that, sump crocks and foundation drain lines were either not present or poorly designed. Signs of water damage or flooding can be found by examining homeowner belongings on the floor or looking for stains on wood walls or shelving. It can be important to differentiate between ongoing flood issues and a single water event like a water heater failure or leak in a pipe.