Tips for Selecting a Mortgage Lender

When you buy a home, you’re in for a long-term commitment. You’ll have a mortgage payment for 15 to 30 years, so it’s smart to find the perfect mortgage lender for your requirements. Consider the following tips when making your decision:

Decide what kind of lender you want – small or large. If you prefer a more personal touch and a lender who will know your name you will more than likely want to go with a smaller lender. If you are the type of person that cares more about the interest rate, a large lender may be your best bet.

Talk to your real estate agent. A top-notch agent will not limit their recommendations to their in-house lenders. And most importantly, savvy loan officers take especially good care of clients that are recommended by real estate agents. So definitely use this to your advantage. This personal connection can be a big help when it comes to reducing closing costs.

Know your potential lenders. The competition between lenders is fierce so it’s best to know what’s available. I highly suggest going local. Online lenders are plentiful, but a local company comes with the added benefit of knowing the neighborhoods, properties and the real estate professionals in your area. Here are the most common lenders you can choose from.

· Credit Union: Member-owned, offering favorable interest rates to their members.

· Mortgage bankers: These are bankers who work for a specific financial institution and package loans for the banks underwriters.

· Correspondent lenders: These types of lenders are often local mortgage companies that fund your loan but rely on other lenders such as Wells Fargo, Chase and others to sell your loan to as soon as it is funded.

· Savings and loans: These institutions were once the base of home lenders but are now very hard to find. S&Ls are smaller institutions that are very community-oriented and worth speaking to.

Always compare rates from several lenders. This is where your homework begins. As I noted above there are many lending options – neighborhood banks, commercial banks, credit unions and online lenders, so you have many options to consider.

Once you have several quotes, compare the rates and costs and decide which makes the most sense for you. Don’t forget, everything is negotiable so make sure you have the best rate available because a low rate can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

Think beyond the dollars. Keep in mind that finding a mortgage lender involves more than just obtaining a good interest rate. Make sure the company is staffed by professionals who will effectively steer you through the entire process. Choosing a lender that displays honesty, integrity and are committed to making you the best deal possible is of utmost importance.

Narrow your choices by asking your friends, family or even your real estate agent for referrals. Once you have some options make sure you ask them the right questions:

· How do you communicate with your clients – email, text or phone? And, how quickly do you respond to your messages?

· What are your turnaround times on preapprovals, appraisals and closing?

· Ask what fees you will be responsible for at closing and can any of those fees be rolled into the mortgage?

· Don’t forget to discuss the down payment requirements

Get Your Credit Score in shape, as it will largely determine the terms of your mortgage. The higher your credit score the more power you will have to negotiate better rates from your potential lenders.

It will be important to make sure your credit reports are accurate. Get your report from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Remember, they are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report every 12 months.

Try to pay off your high-interest debt in an effort to lower your overall level of debt as quickly as possible. This will improve your debt-to-income ratio. Also, paying off credit cards and unsecured loans before you buy a home will free up more funds for the down payment.

Always read the fine print. Payments on a mortgage are not the only costs associated with homeownership. Make sure you ask your lender to line out all the additional costs – closing costs, points, origination fees and any transaction fees there might be. Ask your lender for an explanation of each cost.

Always examine the fine print of all your loan documents, especially the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure. These documents will tell you the exact finance rate, who pays the closing costs, contingencies, closing date and many other important details.

Just remember, there are throngs of mortgage lenders ready to accept your application. Just because a lender accepts your application doesn’t mean they’re the right option for you.

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You Might Want To Buy Your Retirement Home Before You Retire

If you’re considering retiring in the next 8-10 years then you might want to start considering to buy your retirement home! If you buy it early there can be significant financial benefits. This is especially true if you’re planning on getting a mortgage.

By doing so early you’ll be taking advantage of the current low-interest rates as well! 30 year fixed mortgages have dropped to approximately 3.4% currently. Not only are there some appealing saving options but there’s considerable financial benefit to putting money towards your retirement home while you’re still employed. So let’s jump right into some of the most important reasons you should consider buying your retirement home so far in advance.

Getting approved for a mortgage

When your loan application is being evaluated your debt-income ratio will be a very important aspect of that evaluation. This ratio will obviously be in a better position while you’re employed. Which means, you’ll have an easier time applying for your mortgage while you still have a reliable income.

If you waited to apply for the mortgage until you retired, it’s possible that you’ll minimize the size of the loan you could potentially apply for. Also, you can start chipping away at that mortgage ahead of time and take less of your allotted retirement income out of your pockets. Essentially, you’re getting well ahead of the overall financial impact a mortgage can have.


Odds are when you finally pick your retirement home you’ll be looking to make some improvements. If you’re purchasing a newly built home or building your home from the ground up however, you can ignore this section.

It’s definitely recommended that you set yourself a budget for the renovations you might have in mind when planning to buy your retirement home. Referring back to the first point made about securing your mortgage early. It’s also very beneficial to have a steady income from working full-time during the renovation process as well. It’s always possible to uncover a random setback and this steady income can help you deal with it accordingly.

Chipping away at that mortgage

Like I said earlier, beginning to pay off your mortgage early will put you well ahead of the game once you buy your retirement home. The ideal goal is to obviously be debt free during retirement. For that very reason, some may choose to rent when they retire. However, if you’re choosing to become a homeowner, the sooner you can start paying off that mortgage the better!

Not only are you getting ahead of the game initially when you buy your retirement home, but you could make additional payments as well. Getting ahead 8-10 years on that mortgage is one thing but being able to possibly afford additional payments while you’re employed? You could cut your mortgage to a 15-year mortgage by the time you’re ready to move in.

Long term plans

Budgeting your living expenses for retirement and to buy your retirement home, can be rather unpredictable. However, if you already have your retirement home set aside you can get a very good idea of what it will cost on a monthly basis to live there. So owning your home in advance gives you years of planning in terms of financial allocation.

Your portfolio

Finances willing, if you can carry two mortgages at once after you buy your retirement home, you have the opportunity to rent out the house those 8-10 years before you actually want to move in. Essentially allowing tenants to cover the cost of the mortgage while you’re waiting to retire. Or you could allow yourself to retire early by utilizing the additional income from your potential tenants.

Additionally, you should look into the potential tax benefits of making it a rental property. There are a number of benefits to renting out your additional property after you buy your retirement home, before you actually decide to move in.

If you have any more questions regarding how to buy your retirement home, don’t hesitate to ask! Your retirement should be treated with careful planning. Living in comfort financially should be a very manageable task for you to accomplish.

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Don’t Waste Your Time!: Get A Mortgage Pre-Approval

You’ve made that very personal decision, to consider buying a house of your own! You may have put off this moment, for a variety of reasons, including; indecisiveness; geographic; job-related; financial, etc., but now, you think, you’re ready! So, what should you do first! The logical first-step is to discuss finance, and the all-important mortgage information, with a qualified mortgage broker or banker. If you have received a recommendation from someone you trust, and is knowledgeable, begin with a conversation with that professional. If not, interview, and hire, a real estate professional, who will take care of your needs, and provide you with recommendations of reliable mortgage professionals. Either way, be certain to get a Mortgage Pre-Approval, before you begin your quest for the house of your dreams.

1. A pre-qualification is not a pre-approval: Beware, there is huge difference between being pre-qualified, and pre-approved! The former means that based on the basic information you have provided, you would be able to qualify to get a certain size mortgage. On the other hand, the latter means the broker/bank, has done a thorough review of your income, liabilities, etc., as they would before they issued a mortgage, and, as long as the house comps out, you will get a mortgage.

2. Other debts/liabilities: Lending institutions use a formula to determine how much mortgage one might qualify for. It takes into consideration all debt owed, and that combined with your new mortgage debt, cannot exceed a certain percentage. That is, in addition to, the mortgage must fall within a certain percentage of one’s income.

3. What can you afford as a down-payment?: Traditionally, you are asked to put down 20% down-payment, and you can then use your mortgage for the balance. However, there are loans available, which require less down, but that means a higher monthly payment! You may also be in a position to put down more, and carry a smaller mortgage. This must be a combination of what you can actually afford, as well as your comfort level.

4. What can you afford monthly: The lending institution will come up with a maximum figure, they say you can carry monthly. They base this as a percentage of one’s income. However, you may not feel comfortable with that amount of debt, so you must take that into consideration. All this valuable information will help you decide the price ranges you should look at, when you search for a home.

5. Move to the front of the line: Let’s say you’ve taken into consideration the above information, and now are prepared and ready, to begin your search, in earnest. You have searched, and found the house you want, but others feel the same way. When there are competing offers, the buyer with a Pre-Approval, often is given more consideration, because it is considered a better bet, for the seller.

It is the responsibility of a qualified real estate professional to help you find the right house, at the best available price, with the least amount of hassle or wasted time! Make it easier on yourself, by beginning properly, by getting a Mortgage Pre-Approval.

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Do You Judge a Home by its Curb Appeal?

Do YOU Judge a Book by its Cover? Or

Do You Judge a House by its Curb Appeal?

Summer is finally here and people are on the move. It’s a great time to sell your home! So why isn’t it selling? There could be several reasons, but there is one I see way too often. And that is poor curb appeal. When sellers put their houses on the market, curb appeal is often not the priority. There is so much interior work to be done, that often the exterior is neglected. There’s the painting, cleaning, repairs, updates, and the seemingly endless job of decluttering. There is often little effort to make the exterior look absolutely amazing.

I happen to believe that curb appeal is just as important-or even more important- as anything you can do on the interior for this simple reason: The vast majority of buyers will do a drive-by of your house to help them decide if they want to see it inside. If the curb appeal is poor, they often will move on to another house. Their thinking is that the condition of the exterior is a good indication of the interior. Now, that is not always the case, but unfortunately that’s how most buyers’ minds work. I know… I’ve done it myself! Unfortunately, we often DO judge a book by its cover.

So the goal should be to get as many people in that door as possible by enticing them with your curb appeal. There are lots of houses available in this market, so give them a compelling reason to choose to see YOUR house. And then, after they get inside, give them a compelling reason to BUY your house!

The BASICS of curb appeal needed for every house that goes on the market include:

1. Clean all the windows and doors and power wash the siding.

2. Ensure all the door/entrance hardware is in good condition; if not, replace it. That would include the doorbell, the light fixtures, the door handles/locks, mailbox, etc.

3. Trim any trees and shrubs to allow lots of light inside and to make your house easily visible from the street. Remove any dead or dying trees or shrubs.

4. Keep the lawn free of weeds and freshly mowed.

5. Replace or repair steps and/or walkway if needed.

6. Move children’s toys, bikes and garbage/recycling bins, hoses to an inconspicuous area.

7. Touch up paint/caulking if needed.

8. Paint or stain the steps, veranda, deck and fence if needed.

How to make your house REALLY stand out (and get those buyers in your door)?

1. Paint your front door a bright color to make it pop.

2. Add shutters and paint them to complement the door color. If you already have shutters, paint them a complementary color.

3. Plant some annuals for lots of color.

4. Spread bark mulch to clean up messy areas.

5. Add a couple of urns with flowers on each side of the front door.

6. Hanging baskets are great, especially if you have a front veranda.

7. Add a small bistro table/chairs, or two comfortable chairs on the front veranda/step if there is room.

8. Don’t forget the back of your house! If you have a deck, arrange an eating area and a lounging area with some nice patio furniture. Flowers in large flower pots always add appeal.

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Buying a Home and Your Credit Report

Have you been looking at the housing market and thinking you want to buy a home?

Ads are everywhere listing properties, in fact, it would be hard to make it through a day without seeing eye-catching photos of your possible dream home.

But before you fall in love with that home – any home – do you know what your credit score is? When is the last time you checked your credit report?

Those two things should always be the first steps you take when you start thinking about buying a home.

Any lender will pull reports from all three bureaus and take the median score so it’s important to know the information on all three.

The free versions of the reports do not include your score; however, you can pay a small fee to have that included.

Some credit cards provide you with your free score so check if that is available to you. But don’t open a new account just to get your score!

A score of 740 or higher should qualify for the best mortgage rates. Anything below 640 is going to make it difficult to qualify.

Get your free copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus at


First review your report for accuracy. Check all names listed, including spelling, former addresses and account information. You can dispute any errors to all credit bureaus online.

If all items are accurate but perhaps not favorable, it is best to focus your attention on rebuilding your credit. It’s not always easy but there isn’t anything on your credit report that “time and/or money” can’t fix. There are great resources online or at your local library if you need guidance. For example, Dave Ramsey’s “Debt Snowball Method” advises to make all your minimum payments and focus any available extra onto the account with the smallest balance. Once that account is paid off, add that payment to the next smallest account and so on until you are debt free. Mortgage lenders are also happy to talk with you about ways to repair your credit.

Most importantly, know that no “credit repair services” can do anything you can’t do for yourself – for free.

Negative account information will stay on your credit report for seven years from the date of the original delinquency. Once negative accounts have been paid off, all you can do is wait. It doesn’t take the entire seven years for your score to start increasing but patience is required.

Repairing your credit is simple. Not often easy but simple.


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Avoiding The Pitfalls Of First Time Home Buying

Viewing a house can be exciting. You can imagine yourself living the good life as you would be living on your own home. That said, purchasing your first home could also be daunting and in fact concerning if you ever heard of first time homebuyer’s problems. Aside from moldy insulating panels and infestations, buying a nice home without any problem can be slim and if you are considering a new home, it can be quite expensive and might not fit your budget.

If you are buying or considering purchasing a home, then you might benefit from the following tips below.

Two Eyes are better than one

While you may be impressed by the sweet talk of the real estate agent, having someone with you can help you a lot especially if the agent is not paying attention to that person. Your friend or your relative can help you spot some problems of the house and if they have their own homes chances are, they would be able to check places that can cause problems especially if they experience it first-hand. Second person would also help you make an informed decision as they can also ask questions that you have not thought about preventing you from making a quick decision that you may regret later. Your friend can also take a video or photo of the rooms, window fixtures, furnishings and other details that you may find useful.

The Early Bird catches the Worm

One trick that can really help you decide is to arrive a few minutes early to take a good look and feel of not only the property, but also its neighborhood. This would allow you to see if the place is in good location and safe. If you do not feel safe or feel threatened then it is best to politely decline after the tour.

What you should ask Your Agent

It can be hard to ask questions if you do not know what to ask and as such, it is important to have a checklist of things that you think is important to you. It is also essential that you talk with the agent about the previous owners if it is not a new home. If it is newly built, then ask the agent about the neighborhood, possible taxes, and what the developed land used to be. Some homes are built on reclamation lands that are used to be bodies of water, if it is, then it is important that you know which developer it is and what potential problems one might face.

These are just some of the things that you may want to avoid especially if you are considering buying your first home. If budget is of no issue then you might also hire an assessor to check the house for you. You have to pay some but it will be worth it in the end.

There are some cool apps that you can download to your phone that can help when you are looking for a new property. House Inspector App is a software application that is available for Android and iOS and is a convenient way to view the house.

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Real Estate Marketing as an Art Form

While there are a lot of practical skills involved in the processes required to complete a transaction related to any type of property, there is also a certain amount of creativity that needs to go into the marketing process if you are looking to ensure that your agency stands out from the crowd.

In many ways, real estate marketing can be considered something of an art form. Get it right and you will find you have no trouble attracting offers for the properties you’re working with. Get it wrong, however, and you may find yourself with a lot of angry customers who can’t understand why their properties aren’t attracting the attention they believe they deserve.

You will need a number of creative skills to successfully market a property, so we will look at the three most important ones here.


More than 90% of house hunters use the web to start their search, which means that the first impression they get of any property is going to be an online listing. If they don’t like what they see, it only takes a click of the mouse to move on to the next one.

That’s why it is important to get the photography right when marketing a property. Nobody wants to buy a house that looks dark and dingy, so understand the importance of proper lighting and framing in all of the shots you take. Every photo should show the house in the best possible light, so anything less than that should be discarded.

Written Copy

So let’s assume that your photos are brilliant and the potential buyer has been enticed into finding out a little bit more about the property. This is where you will need to exhibit a number of written skills to make sure you keep their attention and convince them to communicate with you with a view to actually looking at the property.

Aside from the basics, such as proper spelling and grammar, your listing needs to make the house sound remarkable without being too salesy. Always stay honest, but be sure to accentuate the positives and downplay the negatives. If the house has a feature that is going to prove attractive, make sure it is front and centre in the written copy so that it attracts attention.


Now that the advert itself is working its magic, your final step is ensuring that the property itself looks the part before anybody comes to view it. Proper staging of the rooms and exterior can make all of the difference between attracting a serious buyer and having somebody want to walk out as soon as they set foot in the door.

Make sure that the house looks presentable on a practical level, meaning fresh licks of paint and tidying up where needed, before focusing on staging the rooms. Make sure that each room is displayed to highlight all of its positives. This means proper use of lighting and furniture arrangements that display how much space is available and the potential that the room offers to a potential buyer.

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