Here’s What You Need to Know About Gift Funds

What You Need to Know About Gift Funds

It’s the holiday season and we’ve all got presents on the brain. Some gifts, however, don’t come from a store and can help us with one of the biggest purchases we’ll make in our lifetimes – a new home.

For first time homebuyers, coming up with a down payment is often one of their greatest barriers to homeownership. But did you now that you can leverage “gift funds” to help with your down payment?

What Are Gift Funds

Gift funds are simply contributions from other parties, such as family members, to be used for a down payment or to help cover closing costs, with no expectation of repayment by the borrower.

For most loans, generally acceptable gift donors include your family members by blood or marriage (closely related in most cases – mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandparent, spouse, etc.), fiancés, employers, charitable organizations, or government entities.

But the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) also allows gifts to come from a close friend with a clearly defined and documented interest in you, the borrower.  This means that someone with a long-standing or close relationship with you, such as an ex-step-parent that truly continues to think of themselves as a parent of a child.

How Do Gift Funds Work?

When you’re using gift funds, there’s mandatory documentation required to ensure the funds meet the approved criteria. In these cases, you can count on your mortgage company’s underwriting team to ensure there is proper documentation for the gift funds to document that adhere to the requirements.

Here’s how it works: It’s acceptable for the gift donor to borrow funds to gift to the borrower, as long as they’re not borrowed from an interested party to the transaction (seller, builder, realtor, lender, etc.).  Cash is not an acceptable method of giving gift funds as underwriters cannot document the source of the funds as coming from the gift donor.

Additional gift options can include gifts of equity, which occurs when a borrower is related to the seller of a property that they’e purchasing. In this case the seller, may choose to give a gift of equity to the borrower to reduce the amount of funds the borrower needs to have available for down payment/closing costs.

Gifts cannot be used to meet reserve requirements that may apply to the loan. For conventional loans, gifts are allowed for either owner occupied properties or second homes.  They are not eligible for investment properties.

For some loan types, the borrower might be required to bring a certain amount of their own funds to the loan in order to qualify (minimum borrower contribution).

Contact Us

If a new home is on your holiday wish list and you’re seeking down payment assistance, receiving a gift may help give you just what you need to achieve the home of your dreams.

Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about down payment assistance programs or to discuss which type of loan is right for you and your financial situation.

Simple Ways to Get Involved in Your Community

Simple Ways to Get Involved in Your Community

With the holiday’s right around the corner, it’s a good time to take a moment and reflect on the good we have in our lives. Most likely, we all can think of something that we’re grateful for, such as our family, our friends, or even our pets. During the holiday season, there’s no better way to express your gratitude than to get involved with your local communities in one of these 5 simple ways:

  1. Shop Local

Planning a shopping trip? Take a break from the big box stores and take your shopping lists to your favorite local shops which are likely owned by someone in your own community. Reminder – the Saturday after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as “Small Business Saturday,” marks the annual shopping tradition that supports these small, locally owned businesses and celebrate communities everywhere. So, grab a friend or family member and enjoy discovering your own local treasures!

  1. Become A Sponsor

Whether you have a student-athlete in your home or not, chances are you know someone who does. One great way to give back to your community that involves very little time and investment is to become a sponsor for a local sports team. Are the Arts more your scene? Sponsor your high school or community theatre’s upcoming production. Whatever your passion, there are local organizations and events that need your financial support.

  1. Volunteer

Volunteerism is a great way to put your passion into action, and feel great doing it. While time and a little internet research can uncover a variety of volunteer opportunities, you can narrow down your list by selecting an organization that needs volunteers with your skillset, or by choosing an organization that supports a cause you care about.

  1. Get to Work

Help build a better community by rolling up your sleeves and putting yourself to work! If you are physically able, why not use your time and energy to get involved in construction projects in your community? Try getting your hands dirty in a community garden, grabbing a hard hat to help build a home, or channeling your inner artist to help paint a mural.

  1. Talk to Your Employer

Employee volunteerism is important to many companies and organizations, so consider contacting your own HR department to find out ways your employer is involved with your local community. Some employers even offer incentives for volunteering on your own time, or even allow you to volunteer on their clock.

Our Favorite Ways to Give Back

Here at Inlanta Mortgage, giving back to our local community is an integral part of our culture and is ingrained in our mission and vision. In fact, Inlanta contributes to our communities year-round! Some of our favorite non-profit organizations include the Cancer Research Institute, the Lombardi Walk/Run to Tackle Cancer, the American Red Crossthe Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation, the United Performing Arts Fund, the local Pewaukee Food Pantry, and more. This year, we’ve partnered with Pets for Vets, an organization that pairs returning vets with shelter dogs, and are making a donation to their organization with every loan closing through the end of the year.

Inlanta’s Partnership with Vets

Inlanta’s Partnership with Vets

Our veterans have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. And Inlanta Mortgage believes in paying tribute to these heroes every day by partnering with them in many ways, every day, including:

VA Loans

Inanta is proud to offer our veterans and active military personnel VA mortgage loan options to help our heroes purchase or refinance a home. Designed specifically for service members, veterans and eligible surviving spouses, these mortgage loans offer excellent benefits including:

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

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

Pets for Vets

It’s our mission to help everyone achieve the dream of homeownership, including our returning service members who may find their transition to civilian life difficult. It’s important to have someone special waiting for them at home to provide friendship and comfort to make that transition easier. That’s why we’ve partnered with Pets for Vets, an organization that adopts shelter dogs, trains them and pairs them with a veteran in need, to donate a portion of every loan closed through the end of 2018. For more information on Pets for Vets, click here: https://www.petsforvets.com/

Homes for Heroes

Homes for Heroes is the largest nationwide network of affiliate real estate, mortgage and local business specialists committed to providing easy ways for heroes to save on a home. The organization was established shortly after 9/11 to give back to firefighters, EMS, law enforcement, military (active, reserves & veterans), healthcare professionals and teachers. Team Inlanta has a network of Homes for Heroes mortgage professionals that are supporting its mission to help our heroes achieve the dream of homeownership. To find an Inlanta Homes for Heroes lender in your area, contact us today.

Inlanta Veterans

We’re honored to have military veterans on our Inlanta team who personally understand the sacrifice and selflessness of our vets and active military personnel. They are thrilled to have the opportunity to help their fellow veterans achieve the dream of homeownership and are prepared to help those who have served and their families obtain a mortgage loan. Contact us today if you’d like to find a veteran lender in your area.

Happy Veterans Day to all those who have served for our country and for our freedom!

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is just around the corner! While this haunting holiday is often a magical time of year for kids filled with candy, costumes, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and more, parents know that Halloween festivities can turn from fun to scary quickly.

That’s why we’ve put together some top tips to help keep you and your family safe this Halloween.

Trick or Treat Tips:

  • Make sure kids under 12 are always accompanied by an adult during trick-or-treat
  • For older kids who plan to go alone with friends, discuss specific routes and a timeline
  • Remind your kids about stranger danger, and to never get into a car with someone they don’t know
  • Have kids use the buddy system to ensure no one gets lost or separated
  • Instruct children to walk slowly, look both ways before crossing the street, use crosswalks and follow traffic signals
  • Adults need to stay off electronics and keep their heads up and vision clear at all times. Older kids should do the same
  • Keep your kid’s costumes safe by adding reflective tape and stickers, and avoid masks that can obstruct vision. Consider using face-paint instead
  • Offer your kids flashlights or glow sticks to carry with them to help light the way and make them more visible to cars
  • If you’re out and about, drive more slowly and stay extra alert through residential areas, and enter/exit driveways and alleyways with caution
  • If you’re attending a party, drink responsibly and arrange for a designated driver to get home safely

For more on Halloween safety, please visit the National Safety Council website today. We hope these tips help prepare you to have a safe and spooky fun holiday. Happy Halloween from all of us at Inlanta Mortgage!

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.