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!

PMI vs. MIP – What’s the Difference?

Purchasing a home, especially for the first time, can feel overwhelming and intimidating. With all of the mortgage and real estate lingo and the sometimes-overwhelming processes and procedures, it’s no wonder buyers often find themselves confused and with lots of questions. One of the most common ones we hear is, “What is mortgage insurance, and why do I need it?”

What is Mortgage Insurance

Mortgage insurance is typically required of home buyers when their down payments are less than 20 percent for their home loans. Note that mortgage insurance is designed to help protect lenders and guarantee agencies when borrowers don’t have enough equity in their homes and is not intended to protect the borrowers. 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 best suits your financial needs.

PMI, provided by private companies, is typically available in a variety of premium plans 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 borrowers defaulting on their loans.

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
  • Cancellation
    • PMI can be canceled after a stated LTV (loan-to-value) is achieved and favorable payment history has been established
    • MIP is paid for the life of the loan regardless of LTV. In order to remove MIP, borrowers must refinance their FHA mortgage loans, 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.

5 Home Resolutions to Make in 2020

5 Home Resolutions to Make in 2020

Resolutions are a great way to set yourself up for success in the New Year. While you may already have committed to some for yourself, your family or your business, setting resolutions for your home will help keep your space well-kept and cared for.

Here are some homeowner resolutions you can make in 2020:

  1. Create a Home Maintenance Schedule

Caring for a home is a big responsibility that requires time and attention all year long. That’s why it’s best to get ahead of your home’s needs by creating an annual home maintenance schedule. If you’re wondering where to start, check out our Home Maintenance Checklist to help keep your home in great shape.

  1. Update One Outdated Feature

We all have features in our homes that we’d like to hit the refresh button on. Maybe it’s your outdated bathroom, popcorn ceilings or outdated kitchen cabinets and laminate counter-tops. Whatever is giving you a headache, choose one thing to check off your list in 2020.

  1. Take Some Time to De-Clutter

Clutter can bring chaos. Start the New Year off by clearing your space to help get you cleaned and organized. Here are some top tips from decluttering experts via The Huffington Post to help get you started.

  1. Accomplish a DIY Project

You don’t have to be an expert or hire one to make improvements around your home. DIY, or “do it yourself,” projects are great for saving you money and upgrading your home for less. Check out our Pinterest page for some DIY home improvement ideas you can tackle in 2020.

  1. Make Extra Mortgage Payments

Resolving to put a little extra money toward your mortgage in the New Year can make a big impact on paying off your mortgage that much sooner, saving you money on interest. Talk to your local Inlanta Loan Officer today to see if making extra mortgage payments could benefit you!

We hope your new year is filled with joy, success and a happy home!

14 Ways to Make Your Home Cozy and Inviting

14 Ways to Make Your Home Cozy and Inviting

Do you ever stumble upon a picture of a home that looks cozy and beautifully decorated and think, “I wish my home looked like that”? Good news! Creating an inviting home is simple when you break down each element that ties the look and feel together. Here are 14 ways you can create the warm and inviting home you’ve always wanted.

1. Spruce up your Bedding

Make sure to choose bedding that matches nicely with the room. Spring for more expensive sheets to make the beds cozier!

2. Add Throw Blankets

Find some nice, quality throw blankets that coordinate with your living area and bedroom. A nice throw blanket on the living room couch encourages guests to make themselves right at home. Keeping a throw on your bed can give it a nice decorative touch.

3. Try a Blanket Ladder or Basket

If you can’t decide what throw blanket to display, why not pick out your most stylish ones and find a nice woven basket or blanket ladder to put them on display. This will help to invite your guest to grab a blanket and stay a while!

4. Get yourself a Comfy Couch

Nothing says, “Welcome!” quite like a nice, comfortable couch. The couch is the staple of a living space, so choosing the right one will elevate the room.

5. Accentuate the Fireplace

If your house has a fireplace, highlight it by decorating the mantle area with things like vases, candles or other decorative pieces. Don’t try too hard to follow a set decorative plan for your mantle. Finding pieces that work with your style and coordinate with the room will help give your space some personality! Also, putting one big focal piece, such as a mirror or painting, in the area above the fireplace will help draw the eye and pull the room together

6. Make Room for Fresh Flowers

Fresh flowers make a great addition to the kitchen and/or bathroom! Visit your local grocery store or farmers market and pick out flowers that coordinate with the room you want them in along with a nice vase to put them in.

7. Use the Right Lighting

The right lighting can work wonders. If you’re having a cocktail party, you’ll want to give your room plenty of light. This invites your guests in from the outside and highlights your home’s features on the inside. When you are having a small get-together with close friends, dimmed lighting can create a cozy atmosphere.

8. Use Light Paint Colors

Light, vibrant paint colors can make any room look bright, warm and inviting. Dark colors tend to make rooms look smaller and don’t have a very homey appeal.

9. Create an Outdoor Hangout Spot

Take your living space outdoors! Comfortable chairs and a fire pit are a great addition to your outdoor space for fair weather seasons.

10. Let There be Candlelight

Having plenty of candles around your home gives it a sense of warmth. Put a couple candles in each room and people will feel a sense of comfort no matter where they are in your home. Plus, your home will smell great, too!

11. Hang Unique Mirrors

Placing a cool mirror above a dresser or table can give a room personality and reflect your style. Mirrors also give the illusion that a room is much larger than it really might be due to reflecting light.

12. Get Plenty of Comfortable Pillows

Pillows can be a great accent to a living area. Investing in ones that are comfortable and stylish takes it to a whole new level.

13. Incorporate a Large Area Rug

If your living area has hardwood floors, a large area rug will instantly warm up the space. People sometimes like to make the area rug a focal point and choose their accessories, pillows, and paint color based on the color and/or pattern of the rug.

14. Create Themed Photo Collages

Displaying pictures is a great way to let people know who or what is most important to you and also adds a personal touch to your home. Make a framed collage to add to an empty wall by choosing a bunch of pictures that have a common theme, like a family vacation or special event. You can buy collage frames pre-made or group individual frames together for added style.

These tips are sure to make your home as cozy and inviting as can be! If you’re currently sitting in a rental property dreaming of ways you will make your future home cozy and inviting, contact one of our loan experts today to see just how close you are to achieving that dream of homeownership!

Top 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 the Minimum – 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. Review Your History Regularly – 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.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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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:

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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.