Budget-Friendly DIY Projects for New Homeowners

Budget-Friendly DIY Projects for New Homeowners

Investing a little time, effort, and cash into your home can make a big difference in improving the way your home looks and feels. If you’re looking for a few quick and easy ways to upgrade your space, these budget-friendly projects can be done in almost no time at all without the help of hired professionals.

Dress Up Your Front Door

You’d be surprised what a fresh coat of paint, some new hardware, and additional outdoor lighting can do to really wow your visitors at your entryway. Try adding a bright new welcome mat, a couple plants, a front door wreath, or new house numbers for an extra special touch. This project can be done in a quick weekend and make all the difference. For front door inspiration, click here to visit our Pinterest page.

Spruce Up Your Walls

It’s no secret – adding a fresh coat of paint is one of the quickest, easiest, and most budget-friendly ways to completely transform the look of a room. Whether you choose to paint a single wall or an entire room, new paint can hide old scuff marks and make your home feel brand new. If painting isn’t your thing or you’d like to try something different, installing an accent wall is a trendy way to upgrade your space without picking up a paintbrush. For instructions on how to complete an easy DIY shiplap wall – click here.

Add/Upgrade a Ceiling Fan

An old ceiling fan can be an eyesore in any home. Upgrading your current fan or installing a new one can help improve the look of your home as well as increase your home’s resale value. While this DIY project may be a little pricier up front, it’s important to keep in mind that it can actually help you save money on your energy bill in the long run as ceiling fans help to circulate cool air in the summer and disperse heat in the winter. While there is electrical work involved, it is possible to install a new ceiling fan on your own as long as you take the proper safety measures and follow instructions. Check out this how-to video from the Home Depot or this article from DIY network before you get started.

Kitchen Cabinet Refresh

Are your kitchen cabinets old and outdated? While you may be dreaming of installing brand-new, gorgeous, HGTV worthy cabinets, the expense to replace them is less than dreamy. The good news is, if you’re up for the challenge and won’t mind a little chaos in your space for a short time, painting the kitchen cabinets on your own is possible and can make a big difference in transforming the way your kitchen looks. Here are 25 Tips for Painting Kitchen Cabinets from DIY Network to help get you started on the right track.

Plant a Flower Garden

Instantly boost your home’s curb appeal in a quick and easy way by planting some flowers and shrubs. A well-maintained garden can keep your outdoor space looking fresh and beautiful as long as it’s regularly tended to. Missing that green thumb and unsure of where to start? Begin by weeding your planting space and removing any debris, then check out this article on How To Plant Flowers from The Home Depot.

We hope these budget-friendly DIY projects will help you make your house a home!

All About VA Loans

All About VA Loans

As we celebrate our nation during July, we’re reminded that we live in The Land of the Free because of The Brave Who Served and Sacrificed for us.

To our veterans and active military personnel, we tip our hats to you, and to your sacrifices that make our freedom possible. We are committed to making your dream of homeownership possible with our VA mortgage loan options.

What is a VA loan?

A VA (Veterans Affairs) mortgage loan is designed specifically for service members, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses, offering excellent benefits that allow eligible VA borrowers to purchase a home with:

  • No money down
  • No PMI* (primary mortgage insurance) required
  • More flexible credit guidelines

What Can You Do with a VA Loan?

A VA loan is similar to any other conventional loan, allowing you to:

  • Purchase a home or condo
  • Build a new home
  • Refinance your current home
  • Make improvements on your current home, such as adding energy efficient features

Who is Eligible^?

In order to be eligible for a VA mortgage loan, veterans and surviving spouses must meet requirements based on available entitlement and years of service. To learn more about our VA mortgage loans, contact your local Inlanta loan officer today.

Finally, to all of those who proudly serve or have served in our US military, we thank you for your service!

 

*PMI is typically required when purchasing a home with a down payment under 20%, and the payment is added to your monthly mortgage payment.

Top Tips for a Successful Relocation

Top Tips for a Successful Relocation

Moving can be stressful. Add in relocating to an entirely new area and moving can be downright overwhelming. Never fear –Inlanta Mortgage is here to help you through the process!

Here are our top tips for a successful relocation:

  1. Leaving it all behind

Whether you own a home or are renting, make sure to give yourself and your family enough time to make arrangements to sell your home or get out of your current lease.

  • Renters: Check your rental agreement for instructions and plan on giving your landlord the required notice before you vacate the property.
  • Homeowners: Contact a trusted real estate agent in your area to discuss the necessary steps to begin the selling process. If you plan to purchase a home in a new state, be sure to contact your local Inlanta area loan officer to help you seamlessly through the process.

 

  1. Making a Budget

Are you relocating for a new job? Check with your employer to see what costs they’ll cover. Some companies will pick up moving expenses entirely, while others may reimburse you for only certain services, an established dollar amount, or not at all. Once you know what’s covered, make sure to factor in travel expenses such as hiring movers, rentals, boxes, shipping your items, gas, flight, hotel, insurance, deposits, and more.

 

  1. It’s Give or Take

Now that you have your budget, it’s time to take inventory of everything you own to determine what you value and need the most. Determine if some items would be more cost-effective to sell or leave behind, such as bulky furniture or appliances, and make a plan to get rid of them by having a garage sale, selling online, or donating them. If you’re moving yourself, be sure you have enough moving blankets, boxes and strapping tape to accommodate your stuff.

 

  1. Getting it Done

Now for the big question: Logistics. How will you move your items and your family? Are you able to move your stuff on your own, or will you need to hire professionals? This is the time to nail down your relocation process and research your options to figure out what’s right for you. Look into different truck rental companies, shipping container companies, and movers to discuss rates, advantages, disadvantages, etc., to help make your decision.

 

  1. The Big Move

Often people forget the importance of making a “day-of” moving plan. Having this plan will ensure you and your family are fully prepared and keep your moving day stress-free. Keep these things in mind:

  • What goes in the car with you? Keep your valuables and important documents with you, along with any necessary food/drink. Consider packing a bag or two of items that you’ll need immediately in your new home, such as toys for the kids, a fresh change of clothes, toiletries, electronics, bedding, etc.
  • If traveling by car, service your vehicle before you leave to avoid any potential problems while on the road. Plan ahead for directions and any cash you’ll need for tolls/stops along the way.
  • Have pets? Plan for enough food and water for the trip and for the first few days in your new home, account for potty stops along the way, and create a safe place for them to travel.
  • Make it fun! Enjoy the excitement of your trip with music, movies, and stops along the way.

 

  1. Getting Started Over

Little things for your new home, like setting up electric, cable, and phone, can be easily forgotten during a big move. Before you go, set up your utilities so that your home is ready for you when you arrive. In addition, give your forwarding information to your post office so your mail is waiting for you at your new home.

 

Once you’ve arrived at your final destination, don’t forget to update as soon as possible your personal information for all your banking, insurance, investment and credit card accounts, obtain your new driver license, vehicle registration and license plates, and update any other key identification information.

 

We hope these tips will help make your relocation a success. If you have any questions regarding the home buying process, please connect with one of our loan officers today!

Live with Less – Top Tips to Downsize Successfully

Live with Less – Top Tips to Downsize Successfully

Whether you’re planning a big move or simply looking to declutter your space, we’ve got downsizing tips to help make the transition smooth and stress-free!

Step #1: Make a Plan

Downsizing can be stressful. That’s why it is imperative to begin planning early on to help determine your goals and what needs to happen to get it done. For example, if you’re planning a move to a smaller place, measure the rooms in your new home and plan to get rid of big, bulky furniture and other items that won’t fit well with your new space.

Step #2: Take or Toss

Once you’re plans are in place, purge your home of unwanted, unnecessary items. This can be the most difficult part of downsizing because we can be sentimental of certain personal items. But by keeping in mind your end goal and why you’re downsizing, you can give up things up easier. Begin by going through your items and decide what’s worth taking and what needs to be tossed to prepare for your new lifestyle.

Step #3: Put in Purpose

Now that you’ve officially decluttered your space, take a look at everything you have left and ensure that every single item has a specific place and purpose. This is especially important if you’re moving to a smaller place where you may want to purchase multi-purpose items and things that can be folded and easily stored, helping maximize use of your new space.

Step #4: Utilize Storage

If you find yourself struggling to let go of certain items that you can’t find a place or purpose for in your space, consider renting a temporary storage unit. While this may seem counterproductive, putting items away in storage for a predesignated amount of time can actually help you realize what you missed and what you can live without. If you didn’t miss it in the first six months or so, you may not really need it.

Downsizing can also teach you to utilize storage space in unconventional areas like under your bed, in your ottoman, or even in your oven. There are even unique storage items designed specifically for all sorts of unique storage uses that can help you find a place to store any extra stuff.

Step #5: Bring in a Pro

When all else fails, consider calling on a professional to help you pack and sort your belongings.  These masters of organization can give you an objective opinion on what you really need and can help provide insight on where you can donate or get rid of unwanted items effectively.

Memorial Day Safety Tips to Follow

Memorial Day Safety Tips to Follow

Memorial Day is a day for remembering the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the United States Armed Forces. While we honor their sacrifice and celebrate over the long weekend, it is important to make sure safety comes first. Here are some helpful safety tips for those of you who plan to enjoy the water, fireworks, grill, or take a road trip:

Water Safety

The American Red Cross offers these tips regarding water safety:

  • Swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.

Firework Safety

If you’re planning to avoid the crowds at a public firework show by putting on your own, follow these tips from the ARC (American Red Cross) to keep you and your family safe:

  • Never give fireworks to small children.
  • Always follow the instructions given on the packaging.
  • For safety reasons, always keep a supply of water close by.
  • Make sure the person lighting fireworks always wears eye protection.
  • Light only one firework at a time and never attempt to relight a “dud”.
  • Never throw or point a firework toward people, animals, vehicles, structures, or flammable materials.

Drive Safely

With more people on the roads, it’s important to drive safely. Be well rested and alert, use seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. If plans include drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink. Other tips for a safe trip include:

  • Give one’s full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.
  • Use caution in work zones.
  • Make frequent stops.
  • Clean the vehicle’s lights and windows to help the driver see, especially at night.
  • Turn the headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather. Don’t overdrive the headlights.

Grill Safety

The American Red Cross offers these tips to stay safe while cooking those tasty cookout treats:

  • Never grill indoors – not in the house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use, and make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, deck, tree branches or anything that could catch fire.
  • Keep the chef safe by using the long-handled tools specially made for cooking on the grill.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Be ready to close the lid and turn off the grill to cut off the fuel if necessary.
  • Keep a fireproof pan under the grill to catch any falling ash or grease.
  • Trim excess fat from meat to avoid flare-ups.
  • Wash one’s hands in hot soapy water before preparing food, after touching raw meat and after any interruptions such as using the bathroom, handling pets, stopping to do something with children.

Another thing people can do is download the free Red Cross first aid app which puts expert advice for handling everyday emergencies right at your fingertips. The free app is available for direct download from the Apple or Google Play for Android app stores.

We wish you a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!

 

 

Vacation Home Financing

Vacation Home Financing – You Should Know

Whether you see yourself at the beach, in the mountains, or on the golf course, our Inlanta Mortgage loan officers are here to help provide you with the financing you need to make your dream a reality!

When it comes to financing second homes, it’s important to note that lenders are most concerned that the transaction makes sense. In other words, the lender wants to ensure that the buyers are not using the second home as an investment property rather than a true second home.

This is because investment properties have much more rigid financing guidelines, so don’t be surprised if you find your lender asking what you are really trying to accomplish with this home purchase.

Fannie Mae does have some additional requirements regarding the ownership of a second home. The first is that the property must be a single-family dwelling that is occupied by the buyer at least part of the year. Additionally, the property must be habitable year-round, and there can be no time-share or other similar agreement on the property.

Beyond these factors, the financing of a second home is similar to that of a primary residence. Keep in mind that the financing on these properties will be mainly through a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac type of program, as FHA will rarely finance second homes.

Down payment amounts typically range from 10% up to 25%, based on factors such as credit.

Contact your local area Inlanta Mortgage lender partner for more details on financing the vacation home of your dreams.

Fraud Awareness and Prevention

Fraud Awareness and Prevention

Fraud, or the broad term describing wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain is, unfortunately, something that happens everywhere, every day, negatively affecting the lives of many.

Fortunately, there are ways one can prevent falling victim to fraudulent acts, starting with educating oneself on the types of dangerous fraud schemes out there as well as what to watch out for.

Mortgage Fraud:

Mortgage fraud happens which is why it is crucial to work with a lender you can trust. According to stopfraud.gov, traditional mortgage fraud involves homebuyers and/or lenders falsifying information in order to obtain a home loan. Struggling homeowners are also often affected by “foreclosure rescue firms” claiming they can help these struggling individuals obtain home loans ultimately leaving them in more debt and distress. The first thing to watch out for in these situations is requests for all cash payments and to work only with credible lenders, real estate agents, and appraisers.

Other Types of Fraud:

According to FindLaw, there are many types of fraud offenses individuals can be duped by (often unknowingly) that include:

Click here to learn more and educate yourself on popular scams occurring today.

Preventing Fraud – What to Watch out for:

Some warning signs of fraud are more obvious, such as the telemarketing or internet schemes that ask you to “send money immediately” to receive an offer, or, those asking directly for your social security number.

Others can be more tricky and deceptive, even imitating people you know personally or professionally asking for help or money via email, false charity organizations asking for donations, or, pyramid schemes that offer big rewards for a “work from home” position.

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself and your family from falling victim to fraud:

  • New forms of fraud pop up every day. Educate yourself on the common scams happening presently
  • Keep your personal information confidential. Never give out personal information, such as your social security number or credit card details, over the phone, through email, or over the internet unless the contact is verified.
  • Update your passwords and PIN numbers monthly to ensure your information is secure. Make sure to use a password that is strong in security and includes letter, numbers, and symbols.
  • Check your statements and online banking records regularly to ensure there are no unusual transactions.

If you think you or someone you know has been affected by fraud, begin by reporting the issue immediately to your local police department. Otherwise, take these steps from USA.gov:

 

PMI vs. MIP – What’s the Difference?

It’s no secret that purchasing a home, especially for the very first time, can feel overwhelming and intimidating. With all of the mortgage and real estate lingo, processes, and procedures involved, it’s no wonder buyers often find themselves confused and asking questions. Some of which regard mortgage insurance.

What is Mortgage Insurance

Mortgage insurance is a payment required of home buyers who have limited down payments of less than 20 percent for home loans. Mortgage insurance is designed to offset the borrower default risk for lenders and guarantee agencies that loan large amounts of money to borrowers with very little “skin in the game”. There are two types of mortgage insurance – PMI & MIP.

PMI & MIP

Although the concept of insurance protection is similar, there are distinct differences between private mortgage insurance (PMI) and FHA mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) that should be considered when deciding which loan program suits your financial needs.

PMI is private mortgage insurance that typically is available in a variety of premium plan structures and offers payment options that can usually be tailored to the borrower’s needs. There are a number of private mortgage insurance providers and each structure their offerings a bit differently.

MIP is the government-administered mortgage insurance program for the FHA. Since FHA loans offer reduced down payment options, MIP is required to offset the risk of a borrower defaulting.

Major Differences Between MIP & PMI

Major differences between these insurance programs include:

  • No upfront mortgage premium required with PMI while an upfront MIP is required.
  • PMI can be canceled after a stated LTV (loan-to-value) is achieved and favorable payment history has been established, while MIP is paid for the life of the loan regardless of LTV. In order to remove MIP, a borrower must refinance their FHA mortgage loan and meet minimum down payment and credit requirements.

Contact an Inlanta Mortgage loan professional to discuss your options and ensure that you select the program that is right for you! Click here to find a licensed mortgage loan professional near you or apply online today.

Tips for Choosing the Right Realtor and Lender

Tips for Choosing the Right Realtor and Lender

For most, choosing to purchase a home is a big decision. Choosing the right real estate agent and mortgage lender to help you smoothly along the process, a team you can entrust with all of your sensitive financial information who can educate you on the proper loan options and the ins and outs of homebuying is key to a successful transaction.

Here at Inlanta Mortgage, our mission is to be the home financing partner that you trust to serve your family, friends, and community. Whether you are purchasing or refinancing, we want you to know we have your back every step of the way. Our team of mortgage professionals works with top real estate agents every day. While we want to assist you with all of your mortgage lending needs and can refer you to a great agent, we also want to provide you with the tools necessary to choose the right lender/realtor partner for your particular needs and circumstances. Here are some tips on how to choose the right homebuying team.

  1. Do Your Research

The market is changing every day. That’s why it is wise to shop around and talk to a few local lenders and agents in your area to learn more about the types of loan programs offered, current market rates, and current listings available. This will also give you the chance to explain any unique financial needs you may have to your potential lender as well as your timeline and exactly what you are looking for to your agent. Note – while it may be tempting to want to choose a loan officer that advertises the “best rate,” it is important to take into account customer satisfaction, knowledge, experience, and more.

  1. Referrals and Testimonials 

You can learn a lot about a lender or agent based on real online reviews and testimonials from real clients they have had in the past. Successful transactions produce successful reviews and can provide social proof of happy peers in your area that are now homeowners with the help of their homebuying team. Visit lender and agent websites, Google+, Yelp, or Facebook pages and speak to recent clients to get an inside look at past client experiences.

  1. Communication

Communication is key during the homebuying process, so having a team that will stay in touch with you and keep you up to date on the market outlook, status of your loan, and any current listing information while providing you with honest feedback is important. When researching lenders and agents, inquire with them about their communication styles and if applicable, ask to meet their team prior to conducting business with them to learn how it all works. It is important for you to not feel afraid to ask questions. Open communication with your loan officer and real estate agent will help ease any worries you have throughout the process.

  1. Knowledge and Experience

Strong knowledge of the real estate and loan process along with information on loan programs and the current market is important when choosing the right team to help you purchase a home. With knowledge comes experience. Working with an experienced team that has successfully helped many homeowners achieve the American dream may help give you peace of mind during the process. Whether you are new to the process or are a seasoned homeowner, your agent and loan officer should be able to speak with you on the process and provide you with the education and guidance needed based on your level of experience. Ask about professional awards, years of experience, licenses, and credentials to ensure you are selecting the right team for your needs.

If you’d like to get in touch with one of our mortgage professionals today, click here to find a local lender within your area or contact us for more information. We’d love to have one of our lenders set you up with a top real estate professional – ask us about our referral partners today.

 

25 Years Strong

Here’s to 25 Years Strong!

Twenty-five years ago, our Chairman of the Board and Founder, John Knowlton, assembled a small group of mortgage professionals and began offering mortgage lending services in Greater Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Today, Inlanta Mortgage continues to thrive, employing more than 250 people with a solid presence in 20 states across the nation.

Key to Success

It’s no secret – our employees are the key to our success. Team Inlanta’s first priority and #1 shared goal is to provide the highest-level mortgage lending services possible to our friends, families, and communities.

Here at Inlanta, our licensed, experienced mortgage loan officers help borrowers determine the loan program best suited to their financial needs from our wide array of loan products to make home buying a breeze. Our highly trained team of processors work diligently to collect and organize all the information necessary for a loan file to move to underwriting. Our underwriting team then reviews all loan files quickly and thoroughly, speeding up the time it takes to move your loan file on to our experienced funding team. The funding department ensures that your closing date goes as planned and you are able to move into your house on time!

Educating Borrowers

It is our responsibility to educate our borrowers and our communities to help them make wise choices when it comes to home financing. We take this responsibility seriously and will continue to do so for the next 25 years. While it is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting with one of our licensed mortgage loan officers, our blog regularly includes home buyer tips, industry news, and specific loan program information to support borrowers during this important time. Visit our blog regularly or visit us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, Google +, Pinterest, and Instagram for current news, events, team photos, and more.

About Inlanta Mortgage

Headquartered in Pewaukee, WI, Inlanta Mortgage was established in 1993 and is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018. The company has grown to over 40 branches in 20 states and over 250 employees.

Inlanta Mortgage’s mission is to be the home financing partner that you trust to serve your family, friends, and community. Our team of dedicated mortgage professionals is committed to delivering an exceptional experience using honest and ethical lending practices.

Inlanta Mortgage was named a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Top Workplace in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Inlanta has also been recognized as one of the “50 Best Mortgage Companies to Work For” by Mortgage Executive Magazine and one of the country’s “Top Mortgage Employers” by National Mortgage Professional.

To find your local Inlanta Mortgage branch or loan officer, click here. If you are interested in employment opportunities with Inlanta Mortgage, we encourage you to visit our careers page today!