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.