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.

Inlanta Mortgage Named Top Mortgage Employer

We are excited to announce that Inlanta Mortgage has officially been named a 2020 Top Mortgage Employer by National Mortgage Professional!

We love what we do and want to thank each and every member of #TeamInlanta for their hard work in operating with one unified corporate goal – to create a great consumer experience every day. #TopMortgageEmployer

Inlanta Mortgage is always looking for qualified, motivated mortgage professionals to join our team. If you’re interested in career opportunities with Inlanta, click here to view our current employment opportunities.

10 Ways to Protect Your Home While on Vacation

 

10 Ways to Protect Your Home while on Vacation

From booking travel arrangements to packing, a lot of preparation goes into planning a vacation. One thing many overlook though in the midst of pre-vacay chaos, is preparing their home for what may happen after they leave.

When you go out of town, especially for an extended period of time, ensuring your home is safe from possible intruders or other incidents should be a priority. Aside from checking that all of your doors and windows are locked, there are many other precautions you can take to protect your home.

Here are some tips to help keep your home safe while you’re away.

1. Give friends spare keys

Give a set of keys to a trusted friend or relative in case of emergency. If you have any spare keys outside under a flower pot, door mat, or other hiding spot, move them inside while you’re away.

2. Don’t advertise your vacation on social media

When you advertise your vacation on social media, your home becomes a target. You may think there is no need to worry since you are just sharing the information with friends. However, your friends are not the only ones that can see your posts online. Posts can reach friends of friends or even complete strangers if you do not have the proper privacy settings. These people may not be so trustworthy. Save the sharing until you are back from vacation.

3. Set lamps on timers to avoid looking vacant

A home that is noticeably dark for multiple days is a clue that you and/or your family are on vacation. Give the illusion that someone is home by putting lamps on programmable timers.

4. Have a friend Do a Safety check on your house

Have the same friend or family member you lent your spare key to check on your home while you’re away. Ask them to be on the lookout for any signs of a break in or home/property damage. Have them care for any pets that are still in the home and request that they bring in the mail if you do not suspend your mail service. This will help give the appearance that you are home.

5. Adjust The Thermostat

Setting your thermostat at a lower temperature during the winter, or a higher temperature during the summer can significantly reduce your heating and cooling costs while you are away. You can even use this trick while you are at work every day to save money on your monthly energy bill!

6. Advertise home security with signs

If you have a security system, post signs outside to signify your home is protected. Burglars are less likely to approach a home if they know there is a risk of setting off an alarm.

7. Stow valuables in a safe place

Hide valuable items in a safe place, bring them with you or consider getting a safe deposit box at your bank to store your important items while you’re gone.

8. Unplug and switch off electronics

Reduce the chances of an electrical fire by turning off and unplugging non-essential electronics. Many electronics will still use energy even if they are turned off. Therefore, you will also save money on energy costs by unplugging your electronics.

9. Cover garage windows

If you have windows in your garage, invest in some curtains to cover them. If someone can clearly see there is a missing car or two from the garage, it could increase the chances of a break-in.

10. Park an extra car in your driveway

Parking an extra car in your driveway lets people know that someone is home. Whether they think it is just a visitor or the resident’s car, if there is one parked out in the driveway, it can be a red flag for a burglar.

 

You should spend your vacation relaxing and enjoying time with your family, not stressing out about your home security. Give yourself peace of mind while you’re away by taking these precautions before you leave. 

If you have any additional questions regarding your home or if it’s been a while since your last mortgage checkup, contact us today.

 

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” before.

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!

June Marks National Homeownership Month

June is National Homeownership month! A time dedicated to celebrating the many benefits that homeownership brings to families and friends in communities across the country.

What does homeownership mean to you? 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

Stay at Home Safety Tips

Coping with COVID-19 has been hard on all of us. The worry, the fear and the wonder of when normal life will resume can feel both consuming and exhausting.  

With all of us spending the majority of our time at home in quarantine, it’s important to make sure your space provides a safe haven for you and your family.

These essential tips will help you stay safe at home and hopefully bring you some peace of mind during this uncertain time.

1. Be Cautious

Take every day preventative steps to ensure you are staying safe and keeping your home clean by:

  • Washing your hands frequently
  • Avoiding touching your face
  • Covering your cough or sneeze
  • Wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing when you go out in public
  • Cleaning countertops, door handles and other areas of your home frequently

Ensure your home is safe for you and your family by:

  • Keeping all safety hazards such as cleaning supplies and medication out of reach of children
  • Testing your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Creating a fire escape plan
  • Anchoring furniture to prevent dangerous accidents
  • Covering outlets, adding child locks and setting up safety gates around the home

2. Have a Plan

Take a moment to discuss a plan of action in case someone in your home becomes sick. Consider the following to ensure safety:

  • Watch for the following symptoms
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
  • Designate a room in your home to keep the ill person away from others
  • Continue to wash your hands frequently and disinfect surfaces and other areas in your home
  • Avoid sharing personal items
  • Check in on your family members to see how they are feeling physically and mentally
  • Stay informed of your local outbreak situation and get up to date info from your public health officials

3. Love your Home

We’re staying at home now more than ever before. This makes it a great time to put some extra love into your space to make it feel clean and cozy. Try the following to put some extra love into your home:

4. Go Outside

It’s important for your physical and mental health to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. We recommend:

  • Going for walks/hiking
  • Gardening/yard work
  • Getting some exercise – try going for a bike ride, run, or completing an outdoor workout
  • Playing yard games
  • Eating your meals or having a drink outdoors
  • Getting creative with sidewalk chalk
  • Camping in the back yard

We are Here for You

With all of us practicing social distancing, and many of us experiencing the state-mandated shut-down of many businesses, we want to assure you that Inlanta Mortgage has remained fully operational and working on your loans.

If you have any questions about your current loan, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your loan advisor directly.  

If you’re interested in a new loan to refinance or purchase a new home, or have any other mortgage questions, please contact us to find a loan advisor near you.

3 Tips to Run a Successful Virtual Meeting Presentation

Have an online meeting you need to prepare for? We’ve got you covered.

With physical meetings and office presentations going virtual, it can feel difficult and even a bit awkward at first to transition into a remote environment. However, with these key tips, you’ll soon be successfully hosting your own virtual meeting like a pro.

  • Plan Ahead

Whether you are meeting in person or online, it is always best to plan ahead. Begin by deciding your meeting goal or objectives and then create a clear agenda to stay on topic and avoid wasting time.  

Once you have your meeting outlined, decide how much time you will need to efficiently cover everything (along with a Q&A portion at the end of the meeting) and then determine what time of day is best for everyone’s schedule.

Remember that communication is key – especially when you are unable to see/speak with your coworkers face to face, so be sure to send out the agenda with your meeting invite to your participants ahead of time to prepare them on what you will be covering and when.  

  • Prepare your Surroundings

Whether you have a home office or are making due working at the kitchen table, make sure your work space is neat and tidy and that you will be able to conduct your meeting in a quiet environment.

This can be difficult with little ones, so if you are unable to receive help with childcare, simply let your team know ahead of time that you may have a noisy little coworker pop in here and there.

It is also important to prepare yourself for the meeting by looking professional as you would if you were having a typical meeting in the office. While a suit and tie are surely not required, you will want to look presentable to your audience and show enthusiasm for what you will be covering.     

  • Engage your Audience

When having a virtual meeting, distractions are inevitable. Engage your audience with meeting tools such as sharing your screen, doing a poll/Q&A portion, hand raising, as well as chat to help maintain interest.

You will also want to have some questions prepared to help involve participants as much as possible. Check out these tips for more on how you can engage with your audience using Zoom.

While this may be a bit uncomfortable at first, remember that we are all in this together and need to embrace the “new normal” of successfully connecting remotely with our fellow employees.

We are Here for You

We hope that you stay safe and healthy during this time! Like so many of you, we have spent the last several weeks learning about COVID-19 and how it is impacting our world in ways that change almost daily. With all of us practicing social distancing, and many of us experiencing the state-mandated shut-down of many businesses, we want to assure you that Inlanta Mortgage has remained fully operational and working on your loans.

If you have any questions about your current loan, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your loan advisor directly.  

If you’re interested in a new loan to refinance or purchase a new home, or have any other mortgage questions, please contact us to find a loan advisor near you.

Inlanta Wins Top 10 in Customer Satisfaction 3rd Year in a Row

Way to go, #TeamInlanta! We are proud to be named a Top 10 mortgage company in customer service and satisfaction by SocialSurvey for the third year in a row!

Thank you to all of our hardworking team and to our customers for making this happen! To see what people are saying about working with Inlanta Mortgage, click here: https://socialsurvey.me/pages/company/inlanta-mortgage-inc.

We look forward to serving you in 2020 and beyond!

5 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day will look a little bit different this year with restrictions due to COVID-19, but it doesn’t mean you can’t recognize those amazing women in your life with a little bit of creativity and fun!

Think simple and consider doing one of these five things for Mom this Mother’s Day:

  1. Send a homemade card: With so much of our lives turning virtual, there’s no better time than now to send a handwritten note with a homemade Mother’s Day card. Consider using photos of you together, or write an original poem to include inside the card. This is sure to make it on the refrigerator!
  2. Create a video montage: Be prepared, this may bring on the water works! Show your mom how much you care by sending her a montage of photos of you together through the years, pairing it with her favorite song. Then email it to her, or even post it on her social.
  3. Send her dinner: With so many restaurants now delivering, send her a special lunch or dinner from her favorite local restaurant. Be sure to include an appetizer or dessert. This is a great way to give her a night off cooking while supporting local small businesses.
  4. If you’re at home with your mom, then do a traditional breakfast in bed: 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.
  5. Another tip if you’re home with your mom, then 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!

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!

10 DIY Outdoor Projects to Spruce up Your Curb Appeal

People often make the mistake of thinking that creating an inviting outdoor environment is always extremely expensive and a lot of work. Even the littlest things can make the outside of your home more inviting. Here are some ideas to make your outdoor area a retreat.

  1. Create posts to hold hanging flowers or lamps.

This simple addition can be done many ways, but it can make a great difference. Good lighting and small decorative touches can instantly transform your outdoor area into a unique & inviting living space.

Pinterest: DIY Patio Area with Texas Lamp Posts

  1. Add a fire pit and bench to your outdoor seating area.

Cozying up next to a blazing fire in your own backyard fire pit can make those cool summer and fall nights even better. Skip the portable fire pit and plastic chairs that you have to put back in storage every winter, and trade up to this exceptional bonfire area that everyone is sure to love!

Pinterest: DIY Fire Pit and Benches Project

  1. Add black mulch and/or a stone path to spice up your outdoor curb appeal.

The contrast of this black mulch with some stone and plants really makes the landscaping around your house pop! Your house will surely stand out with this amazing addition.

Pinterest: Black Mulch and Stone Path

  1. Use reclaimed wood to add a walkway from your patio or driveway to your yard.

This is a simple yet inviting thing you can do that is sure to get noticed. Repurposing wood can help keep your costs down and is environmentally friendly, so you can feel good about making this upgrade to your outdoor space!

Pinterest: DIY Pallet Wood Garden Walkway

  1. Add rope lights to your outdoor space.

When it comes to creating a trendy, eye-catching backyard or outdoor area, simply adding unique lighting, such as rope lights, can have a great impact. Line your walkway with rope lights or add them to your deck railings to create a dynamic effect.

Pinterest: 3 Ways to use Rope Light Outdoors

  1. Plant an herb garden.

Doing this has two benefits: not only does it look great, but you also have fresh herbs to make a fantastic meal. Fresh herbs make all the difference when it comes to cooking. You can plant them in small pots and continue growing them inside in the winter, or you can pick the remaining herbs and dry them out.

Pinterest: Growing Herbs in Window Boxes

  1. Turn a Pallet into a flower planter.

Pallets have become a versatile material for many DIYers. If you need to spruce up your curb appeal, consider using them to create planters for your flowers. The pin below is one of our favorite ideas.

Pinterest: Pallet Planter for Butterflies

  1. Make your own outdoor furniture with just some pallets, paint, and cushions.

Outdoor furniture can be pretty pricy. Here is another creative way to use pallets to spruce up your curb appeal. Outdoor couches and sectionals provide a great seating area that is different from your average table and chairs.

Pinterest: DIY Pallet Sofa Ideas and Plans

  1. Create sensational tiki torches out of old wine bottles.

Tiki torches are an extremely popular outdoor staple. Instead of buying the standard torches from the store, kick it up a notch by creating your own. Use glass jars or bottles that reflect your personality to add a little more character to your torches.

Pinterest: DIY Wine Bottle Tiki Torches

  1. Use faux stone to make the exterior of your home more appealing.

Skip the expensive aesthetic projects on the outside of your home. Putting in real stone can be extremely expensive and more than likely cannot be done on your own. This fake stone looks just like the real thing and makes your home’s exterior look ten times better!

Pinterest: Faux Stone Exterior Update

It doesn’t take much to spruce up your curb appeal. Even on a small budget, a little time and ingenuity can transform your outdoor space into a place where you will love to spend your time. Like our suggestions and want more project ideas? Follow us on Pinterest!