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.

Buying a Home Despite Student Debt

Whether you’ve just graduated or have been making those pesky monthly payments for a while, student loan debt can be heavy, burdensome and downright defeating.

The weight of Student loan debt doesn’t have to affect other areas of life – such as buying a home. If you’ve been dreaming about homeownership, but aren’t sure exactly how you can obtain such dream while having student loan debt, we’ve got some tips for you:

1. Talk to your Local Mortgage Pro for Advice

First and foremost, talk to a local mortgage pro as early as possible, whether you’re looking to buy a house this year or a few years down the road, to learn more about where your finances need to be to buy a home. Your mortgage pro will be able to tell about the different loan programs available, and what down payment assistance and other first-time homebuying programs may be available to help you achieve the dream of homeownership sooner, and more easily.

2. Don’t Neglect your Payments

There’s one simple rule you must follow: make your student loan payments on time, every time. Missing a payment or even making a payment late could hinder your credit score, which is a key factor in evaluating your home-buying readiness. As difficult as it can be to make those payments, it is important to understand the negative impact it can have on your financial future. Setting up monthly auto payments is a great way prevent any potential issues.

3. Focus on Building Good Credit

Having a good credit score is essential when applying for a mortgage. It provides your lender with a form of proof that you are a responsible borrower and good candidate to repay the loan. Work to build that good credit by staying below your credit card limits, making payments on time and swiping responsibly. Check out a few more tips on building and maintaining healthy credit.

4. Evaluate your DTI

DTI (Debt to Income) ratio is another important factor in determining your readiness to buy a home. Your lender will review your finances to determine your DTI by evaluating see how much debt you have vs. how much pretax income you are bringing in. Talk to your lender about your DTI to determine where you need to be to buy a home. Check out our step-by-step guide to reduce debt to get started.

Bottom Line:

If you’ve got student loan debt, you’re not alone. According to the Student Loan Hero website, about 45 million Americans currently owe more than $1.56 trillion in student loan debt. While it’s a burden to many, it doesn’t have to prevent you from achieving your dream of homeownership. Start working early with an Inlanta mortgage advisor you help determine your financial path to make it happen.

To learn more about the mortgage process or to find a mortgage advisor in your area, contact us today. Discover how we’ve already worked with borrowers like you to evaluate their unique financial situations and how we helped make their dreams of homeownership come true.


Tips to Make your Home More Environmentally Friendly

How to Make Your Home More Environmentally Friendly

This month, we celebrate World Environment Day – dedicated by the United Nations to encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. 

If you’re inspired to do your part to help Mother Earth, one of the best places to start is with your own home. With a few simple updates, you can help the environment and even see some cost and energy savings.

Here’s some tips to help make your home more environmentally friendly:

Consider an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) Loan

If you’re looking to finance energy efficient home upgrades and improvements, learn more about Inlanta’s EEM program. Find a loan officer in your area or contact us for more info. 

Make Small Swaps

Sometimes little changes make a big impact both for the environment and your wallet. Swap out your current light bulbs for LEDs, set your heating/AC systems on a timer to use less energy when you’re not home, or swap out your showerhead to a low-flow one to help conserve water.

Use Reusable

Save the landfills by using rags over paper towels, cloth napkins over paper, and a reusable water bottle over plastic.

Water at Night

Watering lawns or plants during the day wastes water through evaporation. By watering at night, you’ll use less water and have healthier foliage.

Add Window Treatments

Don’t let all of the heat or cold air escape through bare windows! Add window treatments to help insulate your home and keep costs low.

Maximize Appliance Use

Don’t run your dishwasher or laundry half full. It’s better to run your appliances when full, and let dishes ai­rdry rather than use the heated dry, or even go old school and dry clothes on a clothesline. Not only will you save energy, you’ll prolong the life of your dishes and clothing too!

Unplug

Your cell phone charger could be costing you more than you think. Make sure to unplug all of your cords when they are not in use.

Reduce/Reuse/Recycle (RRR)

It’s a great time to make simple changes around your home to help the environment while saving money and energy. There are many more ways to RRR such as installing solar panels, using rain barrels, shopping with reusable bags, donating unwanted items and even learning how to recycle properly or compost.

Help keep the world – our home – a beautiful place!

For more tips on ways to help preserve the environment and our natural resources, visit the United States of Environmental Protection Agency website today.

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!