Considering a New Home Next Year? Start Now and Get a Jump on Improving Your Credit Score

Considering a New Home Next Year? Start Now and Get a Jump on Improving Your Credit ScoreIn the market for a new home in 2018? With the new year just a few short weeks away, that leaves you with precious little time to get your finances in order. Let’s explore a few tips that will help you get a jump on improving your credit score before the end of the year.

Grab A Fresh Copy

The first step is to order a fresh copy of your credit report from one of the major agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to access a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. So, if you have not ordered a copy recently, it is time to do so. You can access this free service through AnnualCreditReport.com, which is a website recommended by the Federal Trade Commission.

Clean Up Anything Outstanding

Now that you have a copy of your credit report, it’s time to go through it, line-by-line. You should recognize every current and outstanding account in the report. Any balances owing should be in order and reflect how much you owe. It’s critical that you flag any mistakes or old debts that you have already paid in full. If you come across anything that shouldn’t be on your credit report, call the reporting agency to let them know. If necessary, they will assist you with challenging the issue.

Pay Down Those High-Interest Debts

The final tip in today’s guide is to prioritize your outstanding debts so that you can pay them off more efficiently. The essential debt payments are your mandatory minimums, which you need to pay to avoid being sent to a collection agency. From there, try to pay off your debts with the highest interest rates first. Getting these paid off faster means that over time, you’re spending less on interest payments. Moreover, you can use that extra cash to pay your debts down further.

The above are just a few of the action steps that you can take today to start improving your credit score. When you’re ready to discuss a mortgage for your new home, give our team a call. We will be happy to advise you on the mortgage offer that suits your needs, budget, and credit.

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Stuck in a Bidding War? 3 Ways to Win Without Busting Through Your Mortgage Approval Amount

Stuck in a Bidding War? 3 Ways to Win Without Busting Through Your Mortgage Approval AmountAre you making an offer on a new home in a hot housing market? If so, one possibility is that you are going to end up bidding against other buyers who are looking to buy the same home. Unfortunately, in some cases bidding wars are inevitable, and they can be a significant source of stress. Let’s take a look at three ways that you can win a bidding war without having to spend more than you can afford.

Price Is Important, But It’s Not Everything

The first consideration to keep in mind is that price is important, but it isn’t the sole consideration that sellers make when deciding which offer to choose. In fact, for many home sellers, the price is secondary to a variety of other factors.

For example, consider whether or not the sellers need to close quickly. Perhaps they are moving to a new city, or have already bought a new house and are looking to get out of their old one. If you have your mortgage financing pre-approved and your paperwork in order, you can promise a shorter close than other buyers may be able to provide.

Have A Face-To-Face Conversation With The Listing Agent

It’s worth investing the time in a sit-down chat with the seller’s real estate agent to find out what their motivations are. Are they selling for the money, are they moving, are they under pressure or just getting rid of the house to make an upgrade? All are factors that you can use to your advantage in a bidding war.

Another great tip: be sure to find out where the sellers plan to live once they sell their home. If they want to stay in the house, you may be able to buy it and lease it back to them. That’s a difficult offer to refuse.

Be Flexible, But Be Firm

Finally, keep in mind that you will need to be flexible to win a bidding war, but you should remain firm. Don’t bend your offer or terms too much. If you table a great offer and still lose the bidding war, that’s life. You can move on and find another great home to live in.

If you are in a hot real estate market, it’s a good idea to mentally prepare for a bidding war when you submit an offer on a new home. For more insight or to find out how much mortgage financing you qualify for, contact us today. Our professional mortgage team will be happy to meet with you and show you how you can purchase your dream house or condo.

Man Vs. Machine: Why Using a Human Mortgage Professional Is Better Than Trusting an App

Man Vs. Machine: Why Using a Human Mortgage Professional Is Better Than Trusting an AppAre you currently house-hunting or plan to be in the near future? If you plan on using mortgage financing to pay for your home, you will soon discover that there’s no shortage of options available to you. You can meet with a local mortgage professional, apply for mortgages online and even download mobile apps that promise to set you up with a mortgage. However, is every option equal?

Let’s explore why, in the epic battle of man versus machine, you will want to place your trust in a human mortgage professional.

Human Mortgage Professionals Have Local Experience

The first and most important reason you will want to work with a human mortgage professional is their understanding of the local real estate market. While you are likely to be working with a real estate agent, your mortgage advisor is another pair of eyes-and-ears that can help to keep your home purchase on the right path. They are also working regularly with many local clients and can share insight and information that no website or app will be able to come up with.

A Human Can Appreciate Your Unique Financial Situation

Online and app-based mortgage technology is… cold. Algorithms are processing the math and other hard facts about your financial history, with little consideration of you and your family as people. When you meet with a human mortgage advisor, you’re speaking with someone who understands the challenges that regular people face. They have also worked with numerous other clients and can appreciate why certain circumstances may have come up in the past.

A Human Will Go To Bat For You If Needed

Finally, don’t forget that a human mortgage professional is invested in your success. A mobile app isn’t going to understand when it needs to go the “extra mile” to ensure that you get the financing you need. You can trust that a human will push for that extra bit of funding or those better repayment terms as they’re on your side.

The above are just a few of the many reasons that you will want to work with a human mortgage advisor rather than using a website or mobile app. Don’t believe us? Give our professional (and human!) mortgage team a call today. We will be happy to share our expertise and insight to ensure you get the best mortgage financing for your new home.

Buying a New Home? Four Key Questions to Ask Your Mortgage Advisor

Buying a New Home? Four Key Questions to Ask Your Mortgage AdvisorAre you in the market for a new home? If you are planning on borrowing some or most of the home’s purchase price, you’ll want to prepare yourself for the mortgage process. Let’s take a look at four key questions that you will want to ask your mortgage professional when you first meet to discuss your home loan.

What’s The Best Mortgage Option For Me?

As you probably know, there is a wide variety of mortgage loan options and programs on the market today. You may qualify for a number of mortgage loans along with certain government programs or specialty mortgages. Your mortgage advisor will be able to share the pros and cons of each type of mortgage loan so you can decide which option best suits you.

What Interest Rate And Amortization Period Fit My Budget?

Next, you’ll want to determine what loan term and interest rate combine to produce a monthly payment that fits your budget. For example, in some cases, you may prefer a lower interest rate over a longer amortization period like 15 or 20 years, which can reduce the amount you pay each month. Conversely, you may decide that you want to pay the loan down faster and take a shorter term with a slightly higher interest rate.

What Fees And Closing Costs Will I Incur?

When you borrow a mortgage to buy a home, you will inevitably incur some additional costs and fees. Some are connected to the home itself, such as home inspection or home appraisal fees. Others are due to the mortgage and might include loan origination fees or discount points that you choose to buy to lower your interest rate. Your mortgage advisor will be able to give you an honest assessment of what fees you’ll need to pay and which you can potentially avoid.

What Documents And Paperwork Do I Need To Prepare?

Finally, you’ll want to get an idea of what documents and other paperwork that you’ll need to prepare. Your mortgage lender will require a number of items to verify your income, credit history and for risk assessment purposes. This might include past income tax forms, pay stubs, bank statements or other materials if you’re self-employed.

These are just a few of the talking points you’ll want to cover when you first meet your mortgage advisor. For more information about the mortgage process and to get things started, contact us today. Our mortgage team is happy to share our insight and answer any questions you might have.

How to Use a Mortgage to Buy a Home After Going Through a Bankruptcy

How to Use a Mortgage to Buy a Home After Going Through a BankruptcyWhile it is sometimes the best option to get your finances repaired, the bankruptcy and following discharge period can be tough. However, while it may delay things for a couple of years, the good news is that even a bankruptcy won’t stop you from borrowing a mortgage to buy a home. In today’s article, we will share some insight into how you can get a mortgage loan after going through bankruptcy.

Step 1: Get A Professional Credit Assessment

Once your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy has been discharged, you will be required to wait for at least two years before you’re able to take out a mortgage. During this time, it is a good idea to sit down with a credit professional and get an assessment. Individuals and families with a bankruptcy on their credit file are going to go through a bit of extra scrutiny when taking out future loans. So spend a bit of time working on cleaning up your credit.

Step 2: Figure Out Your Monthly Budget

As you move closer to buying a home, you will want to start living off of a monthly budget. This will help to ensure that you are always prepared for your monthly mortgage payments and aren’t left short of cash when payment time comes. A budget can be as simple as a spreadsheet listing your monthly sources of income and expenses. Alternatively, you can use iPhone or Android apps which help to make budget tracking easier.

Step 3: Get Your Down Payment Saved Up

You will also need to start saving for the down payment that you’ll place on your home. The amount that you will need depends on a variety of factors including the city you’re buying in, the size of the home and much more. If you’re unsure about this, contact us and we’ll share some insight.

Step 4: Maintain Your Spending Discipline Until It’s Buying Time

Finally, it’s worth noting that you will need to be very disciplined in the period between your bankruptcy discharge and your mortgage application. Your credit report has to stay clean so that your mortgage lender does not doubt your ability to pay.

Don’t get discouraged if you have some work ahead of you to get your credit repaired. With a little time and effort, you can put your bankruptcy behind you and move on as a happy homeowner. To learn more about the financing process and to discuss your options, contact our team of mortgage professionals today. We’re here to help.

It’s Pre-approval Time: How to Get Your Finances in Order for Your Mortgage Approval

It's Pre-approval Time: How to Get Your Finances in Order for Your Mortgage ApprovalBuying a new home is one of the most exciting experiences a person or family can have. Of course, before you can step foot into your new dream home you will need to get prepared financially, especially if you are taking out a mortgage to cover some of the purchase price. Let’s take a look at a few key steps that will help you to prepare for the financial background checks that are part of the mortgage process.

Square Up With The Government

The first place you’ll want to start is making sure that you are fully caught up on any income or other taxes. Rest assured that your lender will be checking your financial history and being behind on government payments is a significant red flag. Make a quick call to the IRS or visit them online to check on your status and verify that you’re fully paid up.

Scrub Your Credit History Clean

Next, you will want to check in with the major credit reporting agencies to get a copy of your credit report. Your credit or FICO score is an important indicator that suggests your risk level and creditworthiness. However, any unpaid or delinquent amounts on your report are equally as important as they can signal that you may have skipped out on debts in the past. Check for any red flags on your credit report and work with the agencies to get them challenged or removed

Get Your Down Payment Saved Up

You’ll also want to have your down payment amount saved and ready for use. Your mortgage lender will want to know how much of your savings you’re contributing to the overall purchase price. Also, if you’re committing less than 20 percent down you may be required to purchase private mortgage insurance.

Have All Your Paperwork Ready

Finally, check in with your mortgage lender to find out what paperwork you’ll need to bring in for your approval meeting. Recent W-2 or tax returns, pay stubs and financial asset information is a good place to start. Your lender may have other requirements so check in to find out what’s needed or give us a call and we can share some insight.

These are just a few of the tasks that you’ll complete on the path to securing your mortgage financing and buying your new home. For more information on the mortgage process or to start your pre-approval, contact us today.

Speed up Your Mortgage Closing Process With This Handy Four-step Guide

Speed up Your Mortgage Closing Process With This Handy Four-step GuideAre you in the market for a new house or apartment? If you are financing the purchase by taking out a mortgage, you’ll want to know how to make this transaction run as smooth as possible. In today’s article, we’ll share a quick four-step guide to speeding up the mortgage closing process.

Step #1: Check In On Your Credit Score

The first step before applying for your mortgage is to check in on your credit. Request a copy of your credit score and history from one of the major reporting firms. Go over this report, paying close attention to any old or outstanding items that you may have already dealt with. Many individuals have old delinquencies that must be challenged to be removed from the report, so take care of these first before applying.

Step #2: Have All Your Documents Prepared

As with any loan, taking out a mortgage requires a small mountain of paperwork. The best way to speed this process up is to have all of your financial documentation ready for inspection and use by the lender.

Note that each mortgage provider has different requirements for what you’ll need. A brief list of some items which are commonly requested includes your current employment details, recent pay stubs, recent W-2 forms or tax returns, proof of self-employment or other means of income, asset details such as bank accounts and investments and debt information such as other mortgages, student loans and more.

Step #3: Have An Offer Ready

If you have already settled on the home that you want to buy, it’s best to get your offer prepared in advance of being fully approved for mortgage financing. Your real estate agent will be able to help with crafting an offer that is subject to the home passing an inspection. It’s especially important to have an offer ready in the event that other buyers are competing for the same home that you are.

Step #4: Get The Inspection Finished Promptly

While your lender is completing the home appraisal process, you should be having the home inspected. Getting the inspection completed promptly will prevent any delays due to problem areas that might be uncovered. For example, a pest problem like termites may need to be dealt with, or minor repairs to the roof structure may need to be scheduled.

Following the steps above will help to ensure that your mortgage closing process goes as smoothly as possible. To learn more about your mortgage options or to get the pre-approval process started, contact us today. Our friendly mortgage professionals are happy to assist.

You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?

You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?Have you been considering a mortgage for your next home purchase? As with any loan or financial product, there are a variety of fees and costs you may incur in the process of closing your mortgage. In today’s post, we’ll explore a few of these potential fees and the situations in which you may encounter them. Let’s get started!

Title Insurance Costs

You’re almost certainly going to incur insurance fees and charges. In most cases, you’ll need to pay for title insurance for the lender, which is based on the purchase price of the home but varies from state to state. This protects the lender if something is missed during the title search, which shows whether or not there are any liens on the property.

Mortgage Underwriting Fees

Depending on the lender, you may or may not be assessed an underwriting fee. When you apply for a mortgage, there’s an intense amount of research required to determine the types of mortgage products that you qualify for and the amount of financing you can afford. This fee covers the costs involved in conducting this research. This may also be referred to as the ‘origination fee’ or included within it.

The Closing Fee

As mentioned above, there are title costs associated with finalizing your home purchase. As the name suggests, the closing fee covers the cost of having a representative from the title company present at the final ‘closing’ of the deal. This professional supervises the formal legal transfer of the home from the previous owner to you.

Legal And Attorney’s Fees

Speaking of legal, in most states you will require an attorney for some part of the closing process. This may or may not be related to the mortgage financing itself. For example, in some states, you will need to have an attorney present when you finalize the mortgage paperwork. In others, you’ll only need them for other parts of the purchase transaction.

Other Miscellaneous Costs

Finally, there are a handful of less common fees and costs that you might incur. These range from courier fees to get documents moved around the city to bank and wire fees to transfer your down payment.

While the list above may look like a lot, in the grand scheme of your total mortgage cost you won’t even notice most of these fees. For more information about mortgage fees or to apply for financing, contact our friendly team of mortgage professionals today. We’re happy to help.

Understanding the Differences Between ‘Prequalified’ And ‘Preapproved’ For a Mortgage

Understanding the Differences Between 'Prequalified' And 'Preapproved' For a MortgageAre you in the market for a new home? If you are going to rely on mortgage financing to cover some of the purchase cost, you will need to start the application process as soon as possible. However, what if you just need to know how much you will be able to borrow so you can start finding homes in your price range?

Let’s take a quick look at the difference between being ‘prequalified’ and ‘preapproved’ for mortgage financing.

The Process Starts With Prequalification

The first step in obtaining mortgage financing is to speak with a mortgage professional to get prequalified. After sharing some quick information about your financial assets, income, and any debts, your advisor will share a range of financing options and amounts that you may qualify for. Prequalification is typically done free of charge and either in person or over the phone.

Note that your mortgage lender will not be doing any digging in the prequalification stage. There’s no credit check and no hard look at your assets. Don’t get too excited if you are prequalified for a large mortgage as you will still need to be approved.

Once You Are Preapproved, You Are All Set

Preapproval, on the other hand, is a firm commitment to access to a certain level of mortgage financing. Your mortgage lender will require a variety of information to get an idea of your financial situation, your current and future employment, your level of risk and more. Once they have a good idea of how much mortgage you can afford, you will be provided with a conditional commitment letter. This letter outlines how much the lender is willing to offer to you as well as other vital information like your mortgage loan interest rate.

Speed Up The Process By Preparing Beforehand

Finally, it is worth a mention that you can speed up the mortgage process by having all of your application paperwork ready before the initial meeting. Gather up your most recent income tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. If you have investments or other financial assets, document those. You will also want to be up front about any outstanding debts that you are paying off. The more prepared you are, the faster the application and pre-approval process will go.

Have you found the home of your dreams? Our team of mortgage professionals are ready to help you finance it. Contact us today and we will be happy to assist you with getting both prequalified and approved for a mortgage.

Closing Costs 101: Expert Tips for Keeping Your Costs Down When Finalizing Your Mortgage

Closing Costs 101: Expert Tips for Keeping Your Costs Down When Finalizing Your MortgageAre you thinking about buying a new home? If you are going to make use of mortgage financing, you may be wondering about some of the costs attached. As you may have heard, all mortgages have a number of fees and other costs that are assessed at the “close,” or when you finalize the loan. Let’s take a look at a few expert tips that will help you to keep your closing costs to a minimum when you take out your next mortgage.

Aim For Zero-Closing-Cost Options If Possible

One question that you will want to ask your potential mortgage lender is whether or not they offer a low-cost or zero-cost option. What this means is that rather than you paying the closing costs, the lender pays them on your behalf. While the upside is that you aren’t stuck with a hefty bill when you are approved for your mortgage, the downside is that you are likely to have a higher interest rate over the life of your mortgage.

Get The Right Mortgage Loan To Suit Your Needs

Another way to ensure that you keep your closing costs down is to opt for the right mortgage. There are a lot of options open to you in today’s mortgage marketplace and navigating them to choose the right one can be tough. There are FHA-guaranteed loans, VA loans, USDA loans, traditional bank financing and a lot more. As each type of mortgage comes with its own set of closing costs, choosing the best one to suit your needs can limit the amount you will need to pay.

Lock In Your Mortgage Interest Rate

Finally, don’t forget that most mortgage lenders will offer a “rate lock.” This means that you can have a particular mortgage rate frozen for a set period. This might be 15, 30 or even 60 days depending on the terms of your mortgage. Using a rate lock can ensure that you keep a lower mortgage rate, even if interest rates were to change significantly in the meantime.

There you have it – three tips that you can use to ensure that you keep your closing costs to a minimum when taking out your next mortgage. For more information about local mortgage options and insight into today’s interest rates, contact your mortgage professional today.