Why You Should Refinance ASAP

If you bought or refinanced your home prior to April of this year, there’s a good chance you’ll save money by refinancing to a lower rate or shorter term. In fact, Inlanta has already helped many of our customers save money with a lower rate this year!

What are some of the benefits of refinancing now?

Lower your Interest Rate

By lowering your interest rate, you’ll save money on your monthly mortgage payments. That frees up cash to help meet other financial goals or live more comfortably financially month to month.

Skip a Payment

Did you know that when you refinance, you actually end up skipping a monthly mortgage payment once the process is complete? That means, you’ll have a month with some extra cash to put towards other financial goals like paying down high interest credit card debt, and what better time of year to do so than after the busy holiday season?

Drop the PMI

With the current increase in many home values, a refinance could help you drop PMI (premium mortgage insurance) to help lower your monthly payment amounts and start the New Year with a lower payment.

Make Necessary Home Renovations

Is a new kitchen on your holiday wish list? A cash-out refinance loan offers you the chance to get the money you need to make the home renovations you’ve always dreamed of.

There are so many great reasons to refinance now and take advantage of today’s low rates. They won’t last long, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to save money, or shorten your term to build equity faster. Contact your local Inlanta Mortgage loan advisor today to see how you’d benefit from a refinance.

4 Reasons to Choose a VA Mortgage Loan

The veterans home loan, also referred to as the VA mortgage, has been around for a number of years and is still a great way to purchase a home. The VA stats show that these mortgages have the lowest occurrence of foreclosure among all types of home loans. While we could list several reasons to choose this mortgage, we are going to focus on the top 4 benefits of a VA home loan.

No Down Payment

The guidelines from the Veteran’s Administration for the VA home loan does not require a down payment for qualified buyers. This means a borrower can get a loan equal to 100% of the home’s purchase price. This one aspect of the loan can save a borrower thousands of dollars of out of pocket expenses at the time of purchase.

Flexible Credit Rules Make It Easier to Qualify

A conventional mortgage often requires borrowers to have a rather high credit score and a strong history of repaying debt in order to qualify for their best rates. This is not the case with a VA mortgage.

The credit requirements for a VA mortgage are more relaxed.  This means that people will less than perfect credit history can often get approved for a VA home loan, opening the opportunity to qualify to many more people.

Mortgage Insurance NOT Required

Conventional loans as well as the FHA loan will charge borrowers private mortgage insurance if the borrower pays less than 20% down at the time of purchase.  This mortgage insurance protects the lender, not the borrower, in the event that the borrower is no longer able to make the payments and the home is foreclosed.  The mortgage insurance is calculated as a percentage of the outstanding loan balance and can get quite costly depending on the borrower’s credit score and the loan amount.

The VA home loan has no private mortgage insurance requirement.  This saves the borrower money each month compared to other types of mortgage loans.

Limit on Closing Costs

The VA guidelines state that there is a limit on the maximum amount of closing costs that can be charged to a borrower.  This provides an immediate saving when the home is purchased that is unique to this type of home loan.

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.

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

4 Mortgage Myths Debunked

Ghost stories, big foot, the loch ness monster. The mysteries of the unknown can leave us perplexed and questioning what’s truly real, and what’s not.

While certain myths are best left unknown, when it comes to the mortgage process, it’s important to know the truth between fact and fiction.

Here are 4 common mortgage myths to be aware of.

Mortgage Myth #1 – You Need a Perfect Credit Score

Do you have less than perfect credit? No problem! Certain loan programs accept FICO scores as low as 581, allowing you to buy a home without a perfect credit score.

If you’re credit score’s not quite there yet, don’t stress. There are plenty of ways to help improve your credit, including making payments on time, swiping responsibly, staying below your limit and more. Click here for more tips to build and maintain healthy credit.

Mortgage Myth #2 – You Need 20% Down

It’s common to think that you need 20% down to purchase a home. In reality, the down payment will depend on multiple factors, such as loan program type, credit score, home price/loan amount and more. Certain loan programs, such as VA loans, offer the benefit of low or no down payment options, and others like FHA loans offer as low as a 3.5% down payment. Plus, depending where you live, there may be local down payment assistance programs available to you based on your situation.

Mortgage Myth #3 – Renting is Cheaper than Buying

It’s not always true that renting is cheaper than buying a home. In fact, in many situations, you may be surprised to find a mortgage payment is actually cheaper than monthly rent.

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

Mortgage Myth #4 – You Can’t Buy a Home with Debt

Got debt? You’re not alone. Many Americans struggle financially and while debt can be a burden to many, it doesn’t have to prevent you from buying a home.

DTI (Debt to Income) ratio is an important factor in determining your readiness to buy a home. When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will review your finances to determine your DTI by evaluating how much debt you have vs. how much pretax income you’re bringing in. This will help to decide whether you’re able to afford a home.

When it comes to the myths of the mortgage world, it’s wise to discuss what you’ve heard from what’s actually true with an expert lender before deciding your homebuying options.

To learn more about the mortgage process or to find a mortgage advisor in your areacontact us today. Discover how we partner with borrowers like you every day to evaluate their unique financial situations to make their dreams of homeownership come true.

10 Fall Decorating Ideas

Fall is here and you know what that means—cooler air, warmer clothes, fun seasonal activities and a change in scenery. For many, changes in scenery are not only reflected outdoors but inside the home as well.

Fall decorations are all about warmth. Incorporating warm colors such as reds and oranges along with warm aromas such as pumpkin, apple, orange and cinnamon make for a cozy home during the autumn season. 

Here are some of our top decor ideas to help make your home feel like the perfect fall getaway!

Gourd and Pine Cone-Filled Lanterns

233ca15aba81125610e0a962f3cf7cd7

This easy porch decor idea will surely help make the outside of your home reflect the warm nature of fall. via hometalk

White Pumpkins with Fun Messages

6cfc90bf9ada04839daeea9cc6743240

Don’t feel like carving pumpkins this year? Try writing out messages onto pumpkins with paint pens to create an inviting feel anywhere in your home. via The Perfect Palette

Vases with Candles and Fall Foliage

03668ed890403cf74b09c1f50d66e143

Candles are a great way to make any space instantly feel warm and inviting. Incorporate a fall foliage mix in a big vase with a fall-scented candle to be used virtually anywhere in your home. Try placing one as a kitchen or dining centerpiece or use to spice up an empty side table! via listsy.co

Unique White Pumpkin Fall Basket

pumpkin-decor-from-whipperberry-2-1-683x1024

This beautifully unique fall piece is a great way to incorporate a different color scheme to your fall decor. It would be perfect for a coffee table, side table or fireplace mantle. via Whipper Berry

Mason Jar Candle Centerpiece with Table Runner

5c5d98908b3be411a4c13c856561649d

This simple yet warm centerpiece is an easy DIY project that won’t break your wallet. Click the link to find out how to make it! via Addicted 2 DIY

Simple Rustic Lantern Centerpiece

76bb6e81e665316a481a028f42e29971

This simple autumn centerpiece is easy to put together and perfect for any occasion! via Serendipity Refined

Fall Foliage and Candle Centerpiece

de6adaab0d96a6cf85faf2894d3c07a5This elaborate autumn centerpiece is perfect for Thanksgiving or any other special get-together you may be having this season! via Babble

Simple White Pumpkin Mantle Decor

67007a6b7dd8b8d3b5d23a0d1e956242

This arrangement is a simple way to spruce up your mantle for the fall season. It is festive but not too elaborate! via Dear Lillie the Blog

Comforting Fall Aromas

feba4bee84dad679c3875bf420e02c1b

Give your home the perfect fall aroma with these 8 scent hacks! via Chasing Foxes

Autumn Wreathscapture-2

Of course, we can’t forget about autumn wreaths! This popular decoration piece has many different variations. From elaborate creations to simple elegance, these pieces are not only easy to find in stores, but they are easy and fun to make as well! via Laura Trevey

Bonus Tip:

9e415171a841ff33697cf35cbc776069

Since pumpkins are a staple in fall decorating, here are instructions on how to preserve pumpkins and other decorative gourds. via 365ish Days of Pinterest

Click here to check out our Pinterest page for other fun fall decorating ideas and more!

Fall is a great time of year to purchase or refinance your home! If you’d like to take advantage of low rates this season, contact your local Inlanta Mortgage loan advisor today!

There’s Still Time to Refi

Time’s running out for a refinance!

If you haven’t started your refinance yet, now’s the time! Don’t miss out on these historically low rates by calling your local Inlanta Mortgage advisor today for a mortgage check-up to see if you could benefit from a refinance.

Here are a few reasons to consider refinancing today:

  1. Lower your interest rate: There’s a chance you could be paying a higher interest rate than today’s rates. By lowering your rate, you’ll save money on your monthly mortgage payments that frees up cash to help meet other financial goals or live more comfortably month to month.
  2. Shorten the life of your loan and save money: Refinancing to shorten a 30-year to a 20-year or even a 15-year term can save you money over the lifetime of the loan. With this extra cash if the loan is paid off earlier, you may be able to retire earlier, travel or even build up investment portfolio.
  3. Drop the PMI: With the current increase in many home values, a refinance could help you drop PMI (premium mortgage insurance) to help lower your monthly payment amounts.
  4. Pay down debt: Use the extra monthly cash saved by lowering your mortgage payment to help pay down debt, or even do a cash-out refinance to pay off credit card debt, car loans, personal loans, school loans, etc.
  5. Make necessary home renovations: If you love your home and plan to be there for a while, you may want to consider a cash-out refinance loan to get the money you need to make the home renovations you’ve always dreamed of, and have time to enjoy those updates!

These rates will not last, so don’t miss out on this window of opportunity! Refinance today.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Fall is finally HERE!

While pumpkin spiced treats, hayrides and cozy sweaters make it a favorite time of year for many, the long awaited cooler temps also make it a great time to take care of some fall home maintenance tasks around the home.

Check these tasks off your list now so you can enjoy the cozy season ahead knowing your home is prepped and ready to take on winter.

Here is your Fall Home Maintenance Checklist:

INDOOR

  • Clean and store summer gear
  • Have furnace properly inspected
  • Remove any window air conditioners
  • Insulate exposed pipes as needed
  • Check accuracy of thermostat, clean and replace as needed
  • Seal/reseal doors and windows as needed
  • Deep clean your kitchen and appliances
  • Assess your home’s energy efficiency
  • Inspect and clean your chimney
  • Check your detectors and replace batteries as needed

OUTDOOR

  • Rake and remove leaves
  • Prune trees and shrubs
  • Clean gutters and rainspouts
  • Inspect roof and exterior of home
  • Clear and inspect your driveway, walkways, deck and railings to ensure winter safety  
  • Close or install storm windows
  • Store outdoor furniture and cushions inside
  • Remove hoses from spigots; drain and store indoors
  • Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned
  • Fertilize, reseed and water your lawn

We hope your fall is filled with joy, abundance and warmth. Enjoy!

Tackling Debt and the Mortgage Process

Football season, fall and “back to school” days are here!

With this being a busy time of year for many, you may be wondering how you’re going to “do it all”. Especially when it comes to paying down debt and saving for a home and other financial goals simultaneously.

When it comes to home buying, people often wonder if they should pay down their debt first or save up for a down payment.  The following information should give you a better idea of how to answer the complicated question of tackling debt and the mortgage process.

Average Down Payment

First, it is wise to understand how much money is needed for a down payment. Most mortgages will ask the borrower to pay between 3.25% and 10% up front as a down payment. For a home priced at $250,000 this would translate to a down payment between $8,125 and $25,000.  The differences in the down payment requirement will depend on the type of mortgage loan as well as the borrower’s credit history.

For most people, it will take at least a year, if not more, to save up for this much of a down payment.  But that is not the full answer. With options available like low or no down payment programs, gift funds, and more, you may need less than you think to purchase your dream home. Contact your local Inlanta loan expert today to find out how close you are to obtaining homeownership.

Paying Down Debt Will Improve Ability to Borrow

When people apply for a mortgage loan, the lender will examine the borrower’s credit history as well as their debt ratios. The debt ratio compares the borrower’s current income and current obligations, such as credit cards, car payments, student loan fees, and any other debt.  The lender will also compare the borrower’s income to their current debt as well as adding in the amount for the proposed home payment.  If the ratio is too high, the lender will likely decline the borrower for the mortgage.

Therefore, many lenders recommend paying down some of the debt for borrowers that are contemplating a home purchase.  The less debt they have, the easier it will be to get approved for a home loan.

In fact, the best advice regarding debt reduction is to focus first on credit card debt.  By making the payments on time and getting the balances as low as possible, the borrower should see a noticeable improvement in their credit score.

Save While Paying Down Debt

Many mortgage experts recommend that potential homebuyers use a double strategy; pay down debt while saving for a down payment.  Instead of using all of their extra income to do one or the other, it would be easier and psychologically beneficial to chip away at the debt while also building up a down payment.

For example, if a young married couple had a total of $11,000 in credit card debt and no savings, along with an extra $400 per month coming from an extra job, it would be real enticing to spend all the $400 towards the credit card bills.  That would take approximately 27 months to pay off the balance.  However, at the end of those 2+ years, the young couple would have nothing saved for a down payment.

Conversely, if that $400 was split between the credit card balances and savings, the couple would have $5,400 plus interest in savings at the end of 27 months as well as having almost half of the credit card paid off.

There is no perfect answer to the question about paying off debt or saving for a down payment, but attacking both at the same time will likely help people reach their goal of home buying much faster.

Mortgage 101 – A Beginner’s Guide to Mortgages

So, you want to buy a house but don’t know where to begin? Maybe you’ve heard of a mortgage loan before, but have no idea what it entails or how to get one. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Almost everyone who buys a home for the first time has many questions and is clueless about the process.

To assist in your search, here’s a crash course in the basics of mortgage that answers the most common questions to help you feel more confident about the process and what it involves:

Q: What is a mortgage loan?

A: A mortgage is a loan used to finance the purchase of your home. It’s essentially a contract in which a borrower’s property is pledged as security for a loan that is repaid on an installment basis. There are many different types of mortgage loans available, so it’s important to talk to a mortgage advisor who can help you find the right loan program for your specific financial situation.

Q: How do mortgage rates work?

A: Mortgage rates are important and complex. Your rate, along with many other factors, determines your monthly payment cost. Things like inflation, government bonds and state of the economy also contribute to the rise and fall of mortgage rates.

Q: How do I qualify for a mortgage?

A: First, you will need to apply with a lender who will gather all necessary information about your income & debts to determine how much you can afford for a home and what you qualify for.

Q: What is the first step in the process?

A: The first step in the purchase process involves working with a loan advisor to apply and be pre-approved. This means that your loan advisor will need to collect documentation like bank statements and W2s to verify your income and determine your ability to repay the loan. It’s important to keep in mind that there are no rules carved in stone for this process, and that each applicant is handled on a case-by-case basis. This means that even if you come up a little short in one area, your stronger point could make up for the weak one, so don’t hesitate to apply.

Q: Why do I need to get preapproved?

A: 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. This way you know your budget and gain peace of mind in the process. Plus, you can get ahead of your competition and increase your buying power to expedite your closing. Click this link to apply to get your free pre-approval with Inlanta today.

Q: What credit score do I need?

A: Minimum credit score needed depends on the type of loan you qualify for. Certain loan programs accept FICO scores as low as 581. Contact your loan advisor directly for more on credit requirements and what goes into determining creditworthiness.

Q: How long does the mortgage process take?

A: The national average for the mortgage process falls around 40 days, however, certain factors can make the process move faster than average and help you close sooner on your home.

Q: How much do I need for a down payment?

A: You may have heard the myth that you need 20% down to purchase a home. In reality, the down payment amount needed to buy a home will depend on multiple factors such as loan program type, credit score, home price/loan amount and more. Certain loan programs, such as VA loans, offer the benefit of low or no down payment options, and others like FHA loans offer as low as a 3.5% down payment.

Understanding the loan process and knowing the mortgage basics will increase your confidence, making the process less complicated overall to purchase a home. For more on home buying basics, contact your local Inlanta Mortgage loan expert today!

Top Tips to Remember When Moving to a New Home

Moving to a new home (at least, new to you) is usually an exciting time. Learning the layout of the home, enjoying the neighborhood and getting accustomed to a major change brings about a lot of emotions. Here are some handy tips and mistakes to avoid when you are ready for your next move.

Don’t Hang on to Stuff

Most of us acquire stuff throughout our lives and feel that we need to hold on to all of it. However, most people have items stashed in cupboards and closets that we don’t really need. Instead of packing it away and finding a hiding place for it at the next home, sell it online through sites like Craigslist or eBay, or donate it to a local non-profit.

Make Sure to Notify the Right People in Advance

Moving to a new place can seem like a nightmare if there is no electricity or running water. That is why it is a good idea to contact all the local utilities well in advance of the move and get on their schedule.  Each local agency, such as the internet provider, electrical utility and the water & trash agencies will have their own individual rules and schedules, so you will need to contact them all.

Also, get in touch with the post office and fill out a change of address card. This will help get mail diverted to your new location. Also, let all your creditors know of your new address.

Pack for Emergency

Regardless of how much planning you do, mistakes happen.  The water may be set to get turned on the day AFTER you move in, or the electricity may get turned on only to discover there is an issue with the fuse box.  Pack a small bag with an extra change of clothes and snacks.  If you are forced to spend the night with relatives, or at a hotel, you will have a bag packed and ready to go without the need for opening multiple boxes to search for a suitable outfit.

Change the Locks

If you are handy with tools, changing the locks on the exterior doors is always a good idea.  Since you don’t know who has had access to the home, you really have no clue how many extra keys are floating around to your particular place.  Setting up new locks will give you a little peace of mind and control over who has access to the place.

By following this advice and getting the movers lined up in advance of the big day, you should reduce the stress that comes from moving to a different home.

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.