This June, Celebrate National Homeownership Month

June is National Homeownership month. Americans often think of their homes as more than just a place to “hang their hats.” Homeownership has long been considered part of the greater “American Dream” that includes “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as mentioned in our country’s Declaration of Independence.

Here’s a rundown of key events related to homeownership dating back to our nation’s infancy:

The man who was the second vice president and third president of the United States believed that property ownership was a citizen’s right. Thomas Jefferson pushed for legislation that helped define property lines and a system for purchasing land that was the basis for how real estate and ownership are described and transferred today, called the Land Ordinance of 1785.
President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act into law, which helped establish the western part of the country through migration. Settlers who paid a filing fee and completed five years of continuous residence received ownership of 160 acres of public land. Homesteaders also had the option of purchasing the land from the government for $1.25 per acre. The Homestead Act led to the distribution of 80 million acres of public land by 1900.
Bank collapses, millions of jobs and life savings lost during the Great Depression resulted in up to a quarter of the nation’s mortgages going into default. The number of mortgages dropped dramatically from nearly 6,000 in 1928 to under 1,000 in 1933. U.S. homeownership dropped to its lowest levels of the century in 1940.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was formed and provided access to flexible mortgage financing. Prior to establishment of the FHA, mortgages required 50% down payments and terms were generally five or ten years long and usually had large balloon payments due at the end.
Congress passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act – more commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights. The GI Bill helped veterans pay for college and buy homes. The Veterans Administration (VA) still insures low- to zero-down payment loans for veterans, active-duty service members and their spouses.
A storm was brewing as lending thresholds and interest rates dropped, making mortgages easy to get and driving home prices up.
The nationwide real estate bubble that formed due to frenzied demand amidst loose lending practices burst, and home prices began a multi-year decline that led to approximately eight million foreclosures.
First-time home buyer tax credits and other housing stimulus programs were established to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.
U.S. housing prices bottomed out in March, having dropped by 33%.
U.S. housing values recovered all $9-trillion dollars lost in the housing crisis of the prior decade.
After a long-anticipated span of rising mortgage interest rates that began in 2018, rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages experienced the sharpest one-week drop in over a decade in late March, setting the stage for higher affordability heading into the traditionally busy home buying and selling season.
Questions about home values, mortgage interest rates or the path to homeownership?
We can help! Contact us today!
Sources: Library of Congress, CoreLogic, Freddie Mac, Zillow

Renting vs. Owning a Home

Rent vs. Own

Dogs vs cats, Netflix vs Hulu, pancakes vs waffles… rent vs own? These are some of the great debates of our time and while we understand that renting makes sense for certain situations – we want to make clear that we are totally Team Own on this one. Here’s why:

Owning a Home is More Attainable than you Think

We’re sure you’ve heard this before: you need 20% down to buy a home. We’re here to tell you that statement is not a fact. While putting 20% down on a home allows you to skip the extra PMI payments, today you can put as little as 3.5% down on a home or even no down payment at all if you are a veteran or active military personnel. To put things in perspective – 3.5% down on a $200,000 home is $7,000. 20% down on a $200,000 is $40,000. While some of you may have $7,000 already in your savings, chances are, that $40,000 is way more out of reach.

Owning a Home is an Investment

Some say that when they are renting, they feel like they are throwing money out the window. It may feel this way for renters because their payments are going directly into the pocket of their landlord instead of into something that has ROI. Owning a home allows you to build equity and invest in your future as home values and prices tend to generate upwards.

Owning a Home Offers Fixed Payments vs Rising Rent

It’s no secret – rents can change and are likely to increase over time. One of the many benefits of homeownership is being able to get a hold of your budget by having a fixed mortgage payment each month giving you the security of knowing exactly how much you will spend while avoiding surprise rent hikes from your landlord.

Owning a Home Allows you to Plant Roots

Renters – here are some freeing words for you: when you own a home, you are your own landlord! Want to re-do your kitchen, paint your ceiling, or even remodel your home to take after your favorite childhood cartoon? You can! Owning a home allows you to put roots down in a place that’s yours offering stability, comfort, and community.

Owning a Home is like a Forced Savings Account

Do you set aside money for a 401(k) or a “rainy day” fund? You may be interested to find out that owning a home is similar! Instead of spending your money on rent or other things without return, having a mortgage is like putting aside money into a savings account each month as home values/the equity in your home tends to increase over time.

Bottom line: rates are still at historic lows making now the perfect time to take advantage of the market and invest in homeownership today. Get started now by getting pre-approved with one of our local Inlanta Mortgage loan experts or click this link to apply today with our short/easy online app!

Top Tips to Build and Maintain Healthy Credit

7 Tips to Build and Maintain Healthy Credit

Building and maintaining healthy credit is important. A good credit score can help you achieve some of your biggest financial dreams, like owning a home or even starting your own business.

If you’re like most people, your credit score isn’t perfect – and that’s ok! There are plenty of steps you can take to begin building and maintaining solid credit.

Here are our top tips to help you build and maintain a healthy credit score:

  1. Swipe Responsibly

    A good rule of thumb for building solid credit is to only borrow what you can afford to pay back. This means, only using your credit card if you have enough available in your bank account to pay the balance off in full right away. It is also good practice to leave your credit card at home if you’re heading out shopping or somewhere you will be tempted to spend.

  2. Stay Below Your Limit

    Experts recommend keeping your credit spending at about 30% of your maximum balance. Avoid maxing out your credit cards to keep you in a good place financially and out of debt.

  3. Start Small

    If you are just starting to build your credit, do your research and begin with opening only one card. The last thing you will want to do is open a number of new cards, creating additional debt to keep track of.

  4. Never Miss a Payment

    Missed credit card payments not only leave you behind in debt but also show lenders that you have a track record of being financially irresponsible. This can negatively affect your future when it comes to, for example, wanting to purchase a home as you are more likely to be approved if you have a healthy credit history and a higher credit score.

  5. Pay More than your Minimum Due

    If you’ve had a credit card for some time now, it is likely you also have built a balance on that card. This is not necessarily a bad thing for building credit, as long as you are consistently making payments on-time every month. If you are unable to pay off your balance in full, you’ll want to make sure you are paying more than the minimum payment due in order to pay off your balance as quickly as possible to help improve your credit score and avoid pesky interest payments.

  6. Build a History

    If you’ve just opened a new card, plan to keep it long-term to help you display a solid history of creditworthiness. Lenders appreciate at least a few years of experience in maintaining timely payments and the longer you keep your card, the more likely your credit score will increase.

  7. Regularly Review your Account History

    Take some time to review what you are spending money on. If you find yourself swiping your card every time you grab a latte in the morning, you likely aren’t using your credit wisely. Try designating your credit card for emergencies or basic needs such as groceries and gas to help promote good spending habits. Also, keep an eye out for any types of fraudulent purchases; if you notice anything strange, notify your credit card company immediately to save yourself from financial distress.

5 Great Ways to Celebrate Mom this Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday, you may be scrambling to find the perfect way to express your appreciation and gratitude for the Mom in your life. While no gift, regardless of price, can thank her enough, there’s plenty of ways to thank the woman who helped raise you without breaking the bank. After all, it’s the thought that counts right?

Consider doing one of these five things for Mom this Mother’s Day:

Breakfast in Bed: A Mother’s Day tradition that never goes out of style. This Mother’s Day, show your thanks by waking up before her and bringing her breakfast in bed. There’s no doubt she’ll be overjoyed to spend a morning relaxing and enjoying a meal in the comfort of her own bed, and it’s a perfectly sweet way to show your gratitude.

Frame Favorites: Be prepared, this may bring on the water works! Show your mom how much you care by giving her a framed photo of you both of a special time you spent together. Or, if you’re feeling creative, take the time to hand-write a personal poem or a heart-felt letter, then frame it for her instead!

Give Her the Day Off: Flip the script and take on the Mom duties! From the moment she wakes up, give her the day to herself to enjoy and relax. Then, take on her usual tasks and tackle any chores she completes throughout the day. She’ll be moved by your thoughtful gesture and feel cherished on her special day, but most of all, she’ll enjoy a leisurely day off!

Spend the Day Together: As you grow older and your own life becomes busier, finding time to spend with mom can be a challenge. Devote this Mother’s Day to spending it with your mom doing what she likes to do. Take her to a movie, out to brunch, shopping, or just relax at home and catch up on life. Remind her how grateful you are for having her in your life, and thank her for helping make you the person you are today.

Pamper Her: Treat your mom to a spa-like experience to give her some deserved R&R. You can save money by turning your living room into an at-home resort using candles, music and a variety of lotions, oils and beauty supplies. Or, surprise her with a scheduled day of pampering at your local spa. This thoughtful idea will surely give her a Mother’s Day she won’t forget!

Thank you, moms, for all that you do! And to all of our friends and families in the communities we serve, we wish you and yours a Happy Mother’s Day!

Inlanta Mortgage Named 2019 Top Workplace

Inlanta Mortgage Named 2019 Top Workplace

We spend much of our time everyday at work and Inlanta works hard to make our work-home the best it can be. And we’re being recognized for this! We’re pleased to announce that Inlanta Mortgage has again been named a Top Workplace by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for 2019. We’re honored to be recognized with this award that’s based solely on our employee feedback, and we thank all of Team Inlanta for making this happen.

But it doesn’t end with that! This year, we’ve also been named a 2019 Best Companies to Work For by National Mortgage News and a Top 10 Mortgage Company in Customers Satisfaction for 2018 by SocialSurvey. And we proudly rank between 4-5 stars on the popular employee review sites Glassdoor & Indeed, and have a 4.9 star rating on customer review engine, SocialSurvey.

2019 Top Workplace Award Criteria

Top Workplace honors are awarded to companies whose employees have rated their companies highly in categories such as leadership, direction, ethics, culture, training and benefits. Top Workplace award winners do not know whether their employees have rated them favorably until a third-party, Workplace Dynamics, collects and reviews all results. Some examples of questions employees were asked to answer include: “I believe this company is going in the right direction,” and “At this company, we do things efficiently and well.”

Join Team Inlanta

Learn more about what makes Inlanta a place people want to work and why we’re committed to positively impacting everyone we touch while striving to improve the lives of those we serve and work with in our communities. At Inlanta, we’re proud to be a family-owned business since 1993 where we treat our employees like family, and are employees are commonly referred to as “Inlanta Family” or “Team Inlanta.”

Learn more about how you can become part of our team by contacting us today, visit our visiting our Team Inlanta website.

The Power of Pre-approval

The Power of a Pre-approval

Whether you’re currently looking for a new home or not, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Get pre-approved.” Perhaps it was through a radio or TV ad, on social media, or from your friends or family. What you should know is what being pre-approved means in the homebuying process, and how it can make you stand out in a crowded buyer’s market.

What is a Pre-Approval?

To get a mortgage loan, you need to be pre-approved by a lender. This means that your lender will need to collect certain documentation, such as bank statements and W2s, to verify your income and determine that you are able to repay the loan.

Why is it Important?  

Getting a pre-approval from a trusted lender is a powerful tool for homebuyers for many reasons, and is recommended before you even begin home shopping so that you may: 

  1. Know your Budget
  2. Gain Peace of Mind
  3. Get Ahead of your Competition
  4. Increase Buying Power
  5. Expedite your Closing

With a pre-approval, your Realtor will know you’re a serious buyer and understand your budget, helping narrow your home search to homes that are a right match for you. It can save you from the heartache of falling in love with a home you can’t afford, while letting your realtor know that you’re ready and able to make an offer on a home anytime, anywhere.

For the sellers, a pre-approval makes you an attractive buyer as it shows sellers that you are financially capable of purchasing their home, giving them the peach-of-mind that your offer will stand.

Lastly, it expedites the closing process which means smoother stress-free closings and getting you into your new home that much sooner.

Ultimately, getting pre-approved is a smart move if you’re looking to buy a home anytime soon. To get your free pre-approval, reach out to one of our loan experts in your area or apply for your pre-approval today using our fast and easy online application process!

Benefits of VA Mortgage Loans

Benefits of VA Mortgage Loans

At Inlanta, we believe in honoring our Vets who have proudly served and sacrificed for our country to protect our freedom. And it’s personal for us, with our Vet loan officers representing every branch of the military.

If you are a veteran or active military member, it is our privilege to serve you to help make homeownership possible. We are all committed to serving Veterans with our VA loan program, and have also partnered with Pets for Vets, an organization that helps pair rescue dogs with at-risk returning veteran, and donated $25,000 to their cause earlier this year.

Why Choose a VA Loan?

A VA (Veterans Affairs) mortgage loan is designed specifically for service members, veterans, and eligible surviving spouses to help them purchase a home.

VA Loans offer excellent benefits that allow eligible VA borrowers to purchase a home with:

  • No money down
  • No Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) required
  • More flexible credit guidelines

PMI is usually required if a down payment of 20% is not provided when purchasing a home. With the VA mortgage loan, both the down payment and PMI requirements are waived for veterans.

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?

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

Did you Know?

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the GI Bill! Passed in 1944 as the “Servicemen’s Readjustment Act,” the law that positively impacted millions of veterans and their families by providing a wide range of benefits to Veterans including low-cost home loans, education and vocational training, unemployment payments, and an expansion of Veterans’ health care.

Mortgage Madness – Get in the Game

Mortgage Madness – Get in the Game

It’s officially March Madness – the height of any college basketball fan’s year!

It’s also time for “mortgage madness” as we enter into the height of the homebuying season – the spring market.

You may have your team picked, your bracket filled in, and your wings pre-ordered for the big game, but do you also have your game face on for the competitive spring homebuying season?

Here’s some pre-game strategies to help you score big on the home of your dreams.

  • Find your Team

Did you know that you + your mortgage pro + your real estate pro = the dream team?

That’s right! Don’t go through this process alone when you can have a dynamic duo of industry professionals coaching you through it all. Buying a home is not a game-time decision and having that coach by your side will ensure that you’re taking all the right shots to score the home of your dreams. To find a mortgage expert in your area today, click here.

  • 3 Pointers
  1. Apply
  2. Get Pre-Approved
  3. Start Shopping

Before you even lace up your high-tops and hit the court, make sure to take advantage of Inlanta’s easy online application process and get your pre-approval before you even begin home shopping. This is crucial because it allows you to know exactly what you can afford, and also give you an edge over your homebuying competitors who don’t have the security of a fully underwritten pre-approval.

  • Buzzer Beater

You may have heard that today’s mortgage rates are still at historic lows. In fact, MarketWatch recently reported that rates have now fallen to a one-year low, making now the perfect time to lock in your mortgage interest rate before the clock runs out with Inlanta’s Lock & Shop program. For more info, check out our Benefits of Rate Locking before Home Shopping blog.

  • Slam Dunk

If you’re ready to take the winning shot and become a homeowner today, we’d love to chat with you! We have a deep bench of loan programs, as well as down payment assistant programs to help you score the home of your dreams. Inlanta Mortgage has been helping homeowners win the home of their dreams throughout the nation for more than 25 years, and we put our customers first in every transaction. See why our customers say trusting us with their mortgage transaction is a “slam dunk” here!

Whether you’re getting in the game or sitting on the sidelines this year, we hope you enjoy a successful spring!

How Much Is My Home Worth?

How Much Is My Home Worth?

Recent news of a positive spring market for home buyers probably has you wondering – what is my home worth and is it time put it on the market?

If you’re like most, you don’t know where to begin to determine your home’s value, so here’s some tips to help you get started:

1.      1. Use Online Evaluation Tools

Today when we have questions, we turn first to Google. A Google search of “what is my home worth?” pulls up a multitude of online home evaluation tools that combine things like public records, property transfers, tax assessments, local listing prices, etc. to offer an estimated price for your home. You can find these tools on popular real estate hubs like Zillow or Redfin, however, the predicted price is just that – a prediction – so make sure to check into steps 2 & 3 below before taking the answer as final.

2.      2. Chat with your Real Estate Agent

Working with a licensed real estate professional is important when determining your home’s worth. They will have the inside scoop on past home sale prices and comparable listings in your nearby neighborhoods. They’ll also be the ones who will put in the time, effort and research necessary to find out exactly how much your home will go for. They also know what’s selling currently, and can help you identify simple things to make your house more appealing.

3.      3. Chat with your Mortgage Pro

Don’t count your mortgage pro out of the process just yet! They can provide you with the latest scoop on current market trends and mortgage rates, and can also connect you with trusted real estate professionals as well as skilled appraisers.

 

Why Is Knowing My Home Value Important?

Knowing exactly what your home’s worth can benefit you even if you’re not planning to sell your home anytime soon. You may find that your home value has increased giving you the chance to refinance your mortgage and utilize the cash to upgrade your home, help pay off debts or meet other financial goals. Contact your local Inlanta Mortgage loan officer today to find out how best to determine the value of your home, then get prequalified for your next home, or learn about your refinancing options!

 

 

Four Ways to Help you get Out of Debt in 2019

Four Ways to Help you get Out of Debt in 2019

Dealing with debt can be overwhelming and straining on your finances. If it is your goal to be debt free in 2019, take a look at our top tips.

  1. Set a Firm Budget – First and foremost, evaluate your income, debt and expenses, then set a firm budget using those numbers. This is a great way to figure out exactly how you’re currently spending your money, and where you are being frivolous, to help know where to make adjustments. If your income doesn’t cover your expenses, it may be time to consider asking for a raise at work, taking on a second job, or adjusting your lifestyle to live below your means and focus on paying off debt.
  2. Use the “Debt Snowball” Method – If you haven’t heard of this debt reduction strategy, the debt snowball method presented by money management expert Dave Ramsey provides a plan to pay off debts in order of smallest to largest, then as debts are paid, rolling that money into the next smallest balance. Here’s Ramsey’s process:
  • Step 1: List your debts from smallest to largest.
  • Step 2: Make minimum payments on all your debts except the smallest.
  • Step 3: Pay as much as possible on your smallest debt.
  • Step 4: Repeat until each debt is paid in full.
  1. Streamline & Simplify – Create an “automated budget” by setting up auto-payments for each paycheck to cover your bills and add to your savings account. This helps avoid spending income on non-essentials because you’ve spent the money before it even gets into your “spending” account. You can also simplify your lifestyle by cutting out unnecessary spending and putting daily practices into place, like making your coffee at home or packing your lunch for work. While this step can be one the hardest of all – we all love our Starbucks — remember that this is only temporary but is necessary to help give you financial freedom to do even more in the future.
  2. Consider a Refi – if you’re a homeowner, there’s a chance you’re paying a higher interest rate than today’s rates. By refinancing to lower your interest rate, you can save money on your monthly mortgage payments that frees up cash to help pay down debt. Or, depending on how much equity you have, you could even do a cash-out refinance to pay off credit card debt, car loans, personal loans, school loans, etc.

To learn how the right mortgage can help you reduce debt, click here to contact your local Inlanta officer today!