Whether you’re a first-time or experienced home buyer, the home buying process can be complex. We hope these resources, ranging from mortgage basics to the closing process, can answer many of your questions about the home lending process.

Contact your local Loan Officer to discuss your specific home lending questions.

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Mortgage Basics

Mortgage Approval Process

Whether you’re a First-Time Home Buyer or seasoned investor, the mortgage approval process can be a slightly overwhelming adventure without a proper road map and good team in your corner. Updated program guidelines, mortgage rate questions and down payment requirements are a few of the components you’ll need to be aware of when getting mortgage financing for a purchase or refinance. While this …

Mortgage Basics

Talk the Talk – Know the Mortgage Lingo at Closing

What the heck are they talking about? Many borrowers go through the closing process in a haze, nodding, smiling, and signing through a bunch of noise that sounds like Greek. Even though you may have put your trust in your real estate and mortgage team, it helps to understand some of the terminology so that you …

Real Estate Appraisals

Four Possible Reasons To Refinance

A mortgage is generally the largest debt most homeowners have to manage.  It’s a good idea to give your personal real estate finance portfolio a check-up at least once a year. Since there are many reasons a homeowner may choose to refinance, we’ll take a look at the four most common. 1.  Mortgage Rates Drop: Typically, the …

Home Buying Process

What’s The Difference Between A Primary Residence, Second Home and Investment Property?

When applying for a mortgage, a borrower’s “Occupancy Type” is a major factor in the amount of down payment required, loan program available and mortgage interest rate. Whether you are purchasing, doing a rate/term refinance or taking equity out of your property through a cash out refinance, occupancy type is always considered by the underwriter. Three Types of Occupancy: Owner Occupied / Primary Residence …

Home Buying Process

What You Need To Know About The Home Inspection Process

Congratulations on finding a house! You now have only a few days from when you signed the purchase and sales agreement to have a home inspection. Chances are your real estate agent made the offer contingent upon a satisfactorily home inspection and obtaining mortgage financing. What Is A Home Inspection?  According to Wikipedia, a home inspection “is a limited, …

Home Buying Process

Assembling Your Home Buying Team – Knowing The Players

Buying a new home is literally a team sport since there are so many tasks, important timelines, documents and responsibilities that all need special care and attention. Besides working with a professional team that you trust, it’s important that the individual players have the ability to effectively communicate and execute on important decisions together as well. Real …

Home Buying Process

Five Myths About Home Values

During periods of economic growth, when home values are typically just going up, most homeowners do not question appraisals much. And in times of turmoil when property values are declining, home sellers and even listing agents quite often question and pick apart appraisals. However, the actual appraisal process changed very little over the course of the …

Mortgage Rate Basics

How Much Can I Afford?

How much mortgage money can I qualify to borrow? This is typically the number one question mortgage professionals are asked by new clients. Of critical importance when considering mortgage financing: There is sometimes a difference between what a client ***can*** borrow and what they ***should*** borrow. In other words, what makes for a comfortable long-term …

Mortgage Rate Basics

Understanding An Amortization Schedule

By committing to a mortgage loan, the borrower is entering into a financial agreement with a lender to pay back the mortgage money, with interest, over a set period of time. The borrower’s monthly mortgage payment may change over time depending on the type of loan program, however, we’re going to address the typical 30 year fixed Principal and Interest loan …

Mortgage Rate Basics

How Do Mortgage Rates Move When The Fed Lowers Rates?

Lower mortgage rates is a common misconception that is perpetuated by the mainstream media when the Fed makes an announcement of lowering rates. However, when the Fed cuts interest rates, mortgage rates can actually increase. Fed 101: According to Wikipedia: The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve, and informally as the Fed) is the central banking system of the …

Mortgage Rate Basics

How Are Mortgage Rates Determined?

Many people believe that interest rates are simply set by lenders, but the reality is that mortgage rates are largely determined by what is known as the Secondary Market. The secondary market is comprised of investors who buy the loans made by banks, brokers, lenders, etc. and then either hold them for their earnings, or bundle …

Mortgage Rate Basics

Top Five Market Factors That Influence Mortgage Rates

Timing the market for the best possible opportunity to lock a mortgage rate on a new loan is certainly a challenge, even for the professionals. While there are several generic interest rate trend indicators online, the difference between what’s advertised and actually attainable can be influenced at any given moment by at least 50 different …

Understanding Credit

Calculating Loan-to-Value (LTV)

Calculating Loan-to-Value (LTV) Understanding the definition of Loan-to-Value (LTV), how it is calculated, and how it impacts a mortgage approval will help you determine what loan amount and type of program you can qualify for. Since the LTV Ratio is a major component of getting approved for a new mortgage, it’s a good idea to …

Understanding Credit

What’s My Debt-to-Income (DTI) Ratio?

What’s My Debt-To-Income Ratio? Debt-to-Income (DTI) is one of the many new mortgage related terms many First-Time Home Buyers will get used to hearing. DTI is a component of the mortgage approval process that measures a borrower’s Gross Monthly Income compared to their credit payments and other monthly liabilities. Debt-to-Income Ratios are designed to give …

Understanding Credit

Alternate Sources For Establishing Credit

While the basic Rule-of-Thumb for acceptable credit history is a minimum of four trade lines documented on a credit report, there are alternative methods of building a credit picture that an underwriter can use to make a decision for a loan approval. For potential home buyers with little or no credit history, keeping records for 12 months of …

Understanding Credit

Is There A Rule-of-Thumb Regarding The Number Of Credit Lines To Have Open?

While the actual credit score has a big impact on a loan approval, it’s not the only component of the credit scenario that underwriters consider for a mortgage approval. Since loan programs, individual lenders and mortgage insurance companies all have their own credit report restrictions, it’s difficult to define a standard Rule-of-Thumb to follow. However, the number of “Open and Active …

Understanding Credit

Ten Things You Can Do To Protect Your Identity

Facts About Identity Theft: It’s estimated that there were 10 million victims of identity theft in 2008, and 1 in every 10 U.S. consumers have reported having their identity stolen. The U.S. Department of Justice reported in 2005 that 1.6 million households experienced fraud not related to credit cards (i.e. their bank accounts or debit cards were …

Mortgage Basics

Who Owns My Home If I Have A Mortgage?

Many borrowers believe that when they purchase a property by obtaining mortgage financing, they also own their home. Technically speaking, full ownership on a property only happens once the mortgage loan amount has been paid in full. To break this down in more detail, there are a few components of a mortgage:  A Promissory Note is …

Mortgage Basics

Top Mortgage Terms To Know

While most mortgage web sites offer a glossary containing hundreds of real estate and lending related terms, we wanted to highlight the top terms that most borrowers will hear several times throughout the approval and home buying process. Understanding the “Shop Talk” between the various industry professionals that you’ve assembled on your team will hopefully …

Mortgage Basics

Top 8 Things To Ask Your Lender During The Application Process

Knowing what questions to ask your lender during or before the loan application process is essential for making your mortgage approval process as smooth as possible. Many borrowers fail to ask the right questions during the mortgage pre-qualification process and end up getting frustrated or hurt because their expectations were not met. Here are the top eight …

Mortgage Basics

Common Documents Required For A Mortgage Pre-Approval

Even though many lenders are still quoting quick 10 minute pre-qualifications over the phone or online, a true mortgage approval that holds any weight is one that has been issued by an underwriter who has had an opportunity to review all of the necessary documents. With a constant stream of new lending guidelines, volatile mortgage rates and tightening regulation …

Mortgage Basics

Why Do I Need Mortgage Insurance?

Mortgage Insurance, sometimes referred to as Private Mortgage Insurance, is required by lenders on conventional home loans if the borrower is financing more than 80% Loan-To-Value. According to Wikipedia: Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is insurance payable to a lender or trustee for a pool of securities that may be required when taking out a mortgage loan. It is insurance to …

Mortgage Basics

Understanding the FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP)

* Disclaimer – all information in this article is accurate as of the date this article was written * The FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium is an important part of every FHA loan. There are actually two types of Mortgage Insurance Premiums associated with FHA loans: Up Front Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP) – financed into the total loan …

Mortgage Basics

Standard FHA 203k Loan

FHA Section 203(k) insures mortgages covering the purchase or refinancing and rehabilitation of a home that is at least a year old.  At closing, a portion of the loan proceeds is used to pay the seller, or if a refinance transaction funds are used to pay off the existing mortgage lien. The remaining funds are placed in …

Mortgage Basics

Streamlined FHA 203k

The Streamlined FHA 203(k) loan is intended to facilitate uncomplicated rehabilitation or improvements to a home being purchased or refinanced for which plans, consultants, engineers and/or architects are not required.  You will still need the services of a contractor as required. FHA’s Streamlined 203(k) program permits homebuyers (purchase loan) and homeowners (refinance loan) to finance up …

Real Estate Appraisals

What Do Appraisers Look For When Determining A Property’s Value?

Most people are surprised to learn what appraisers actually look at when determining the value of a real estate property. A common misconception homeowners generally have is that the value of their home is determined after the appraiser has completed their physical property inspection. However, the appraiser actually already has a good idea of the …

Closing Process

Making Sure Your Cash-To-Close Comes From The Proper Source

Providing proper asset documentation and the actual source of the funds is a critical element of the loan closing process. There’s nothing worse in a real estate purchase than making it all the way through the hoops and hurdles just to have a loan denied after the final documents have been signed due to the …

Home Buying Process

First-Time Home Buyer Credit Checklist

Getting a new mortgage for a First-Time Home Buyer can be a little overwhelming with all of the important details, guidelines and potential speed bumps. Since there are so many rules and steps to follow, here is a simple list of Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind throughout the mortgage approval process: DO: Continue …

Mortgage Rate Basics

Calculating The Net Benefit of A Refinance Transaction

Calculating the net benefit of refinancing can be a challenging task if you do not understand what to calculate. We are going to focus on the net benefits of refinancing from the standpoint of lowering your interest rate. Although there are several reasons to refinance, lowering your mortgage rate to save on interest payments over …

Understanding Credit

Shopping For A Hazard Insurance Policy

Shopping For A Hazard Insurance Policy When shopping for a hazard insurance policy, something called “bundling” can make the difference when it comes to how much you are willing to pay. Bundling can save you the money that can make or break your choice in insurance policy. Many of the big insurance companies price their …

Mortgage Basics

What is an FHA 203k Loan?

Named after the Federal Housing Authority Section that outlines its guidelines, the FHA 203(k) loan fills a unique and important need for homebuyers buying a house that needs repair or modernization.  The loan is for both homebuyers and existing home owners.  The FHA insured 203(k) loan program enables borrowers to purchase or refinance their home …

Mortgage Rate Basics

8 Questions Your Lender Should Answer About Mortgage Rates

Simply checking online for today’s posted rate may not lead to your expected outcome due to the many factors that can cause each individual rate and closing cost scenario to fluctuate. We can preach communication, service and education all day long, but it’s our ultimate goal to earn your trust so that you can be …