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

When is the Right Time to Refinance? Hint: Now!

Interest rates have reached a point that many people never believed would happen. With 30-year fixed rates dipping below 4%, millions of homeowners are in a position to refinance and save significant money. Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider refinancing any existing mortgage.

Better Rate Means Lower Payments

The most obvious reason that attracts most people to refinance is the appeal of a lower interest rate, resulting in a lower payment. For a mortgage of $250,000 a change in 0.75% in rate can lower the monthly payments by $110. A wider gap in rates, such as 1.25% or even 2% can mean a savings of over $200 per month. For most homeowners this is reason enough to consider the costs of refinancing.

Better Term with Similar Payment

There is a lot of math involved in this example, but the bottom line is that a homeowner can save thousands of dollars in the long run.

Suppose you or someone you know took out a home loan approximately 3 years ago at a rate of 5.25% with a beginning balance of $250,000. The balance would likely be around $239,000 as of this writing. By refinancing that $239,000 at 3.95% on a 20-year loan, you could save over $100,000 in interest payments over the next 20 years. The home payment would increase by approximately $50 a month, but it could be a great financial move in the long term.

Improve Your Annual Tax Deduction

In recent years, Congress has changed the rules concerning using mortgage interest for a tax deduction. The interest paid on a 2nd mortgage is no longer deductible if that mortgage was not used to purchase the home. This means that people with a HELOC or a fixed rate 2nd mortgage that was used to consolidate debts or any other reason no longer get the tax deduction for that 2nd mortgage. By combining the existing 2nd mortgage with the 1st and refinancing everything to one loan, you will regain that tax deduction.

Move to a Different type of Mortgage

Some people may have purchased their home using FHA. Others may have used a less than ideal type of mortgage with a high interest rate. If you have made your mortgage and other debt payments on time for the past 12 months, your credit may now be strong enough to refinance to a conventional loan. A conventional loan will have better interest rate and, even if you pay private mortgage insurance, the mortgage insurance will eventually drop off once the balance is low enough. With FHA loans, the new rules state that the private mortgage insurance must remain in place for the life of the loan.

Regardless of your situation, if you have purchased a home within the past 3 to 5 years, now is a great time consider refinancing and taking advantage of these historically low rates. Contact your local Inlanta Mortgage loan expert today to get started.

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!

Inlanta Recognized Top Military Originators

Congratulations to Yvette Clermont, Balenda Hetzel, Jeremy Page and Jim Snyder on being recognized as National Mortgage Professional Magazine‘s Top Military Originators!

We are honored to have these “Homeownership Heroes” on our team and thank #TeamInlanta for continuing to help serve those who have served and sacrificed so much for us!

If you’re a veteran, active military member or surviving spouse and are interested in learning more about Inlanta’s VA loan program, click here.

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 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.

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.