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Knowing your Credit Score

When applying for any type of loan or mortgage, one of the important factors a financial institution will look at is your credit score. These credit checks are necessary as they give that financial institution better insight into the level of risk you may pose for them in a business relationship. This is no longer a time when people get loans from banks they have had personal relationships with for a long period of time. Although not a definite benchmark, your credit score is an indicator of your ability to pay back that loan.

While it might seem that a credit score is number you have no control over, the fact is there are several things to consider. The first of which is how the number of credit checks you apply for affect your score. There are two types of credit inquiries, which is important to know since only one of those will negatively affect your score. That type is known as a hard inquiry, due to how it involves you initiating an application for credit. This is done for potential lenders or financial institutions and is necessary when you are applying for an auto loan, credit card or mortgage. On the other side of the fence are soft inquiries, which don’t affect your score in any way. This type of inquiry is not initiated by you, nor does it involve you applying for credit. Soft inquiries are mostly credit checks that have been requested by employers or potential landlords. Basically from people/institutions that are entering into business with you and want to verify you are who you say you are.

Hard inquiries stay on your credit record, and can lower your score by about five points for a few months. Those few points may not seem much, but if you have several pulls then it might drag your score from something considered above average to just good. See below for the categories of credit scores and what your number means:

  • Excellent: 730 and Higher
  • Above Average: 700-729
  • Good: 670-699
  • Below Average: 585-669
  • Poor: Less than 585

Credit Scores aren’t an exact number, each bank/lender uses various scoring models to grant you credit of any sort. What is important to score: payment history, credit utilization (30% of balance), new credit and derogatory items including late payments, collections, judgments and liens. Integrity Financial loan specialists can give you all of the facts about the mortgage options you qualify for and help you understand your credit score. Give us a call today at 1-877-760-9854 to find out more information.

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On The Fence About Home Purchasing? Rising Interest Rates May Change Your Mind

In our earlier blog post Look to Rising Mortgage Rates, we mentioned there was evidence of a rate increase trend going to occur.  Rates from the 30-year mortgage fixed rate were rising to above 3.5% and applications for mortgages were starting to decline.  Now three months later we are seeing definite proof of this and mortgage rates are climbing above the 4% mark for the first time since May of 2011.  The window of opportunity to lock in on a historic low point is closing, so if you are on the fence about refinancing or purchasing there is not much time to waste anymore.

With mortgage rates now shooting to their highest point in over a year the question turns to what is changing and how it is affecting the housing market.  The 10-Year Treasury Rate is a very important indicator, as it is what dictates the 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Rate.  Treasury yields are determined by supply and demand, and the lower the demand the higher the yields increase.  Higher treasury yields directly correlate to higher mortgage rates, which can affect the purchasing power of a buyer.  Recently, these Treasury yields have gone up from 1.9% to over 2.15% in a very short period of time.  Although this might not seem like a large jump, mortgage rates are typically 2% higher than that treasury yield number.

Demand for Treasury bonds have been kept low thanks to the Federal Reserve and their purchasing of up to $85 billion a month in bonds and mortgage-backed securities.  However, the Fed has announced that they are going to decrease their purchase activity which means that lenders won’t be able to sell mortgages at low rates anymore.  The timeframe for which they are backing away is shrinking, initially projected at late 2013 but now moving down to September or sooner.  Private investors will have to step in where the Fed left and they will raise rates in order to see a better return on their investments.  To put this in perspective, rates will likely move closer to the 5.23% mark, which was a 37 year low point back in 2003.

Since we know all these signs point to rising interest rates, now is the time to lock in a rate whether you are looking to purchase or refinance.  If refinancing has been on your get it done list act on it quickly before it isn’t worth your time.  Rates may not be at rock bottom anymore but they are still at historic low points.  In order to find out more about what mortgage rates we can get for you please fill out the loan application to have a qualified consultant contact you.  Integrity Financial loan specialists can give you all of the facts about the mortgage options you qualify for and help you through your buying process.  Give us a call today at 1-877-760-9854 to find out more information.

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Looking to Lower your Interest Payments? Be Prepared With This Refinancing Checklist

If you purchased your home at a time when mortgage rates were high, then refinancing could be a good option to lower your monthly payments.  When rates are lower, as in what we are seeing today, refinancing can potentially save you thousands of dollars in interest.  Locking in this lower interest rate is great, and refinancing can come with some other benefits as well.  However it can be a tricky process and this post will talk about some of the items you will need.

Generally, most mortgage brokers or financial services companies will require a checklist of items for you to have in order to move forward with refinancing.  Some items are more readily available, but others may take some time in order to gather.  Use the below general refinancing checklist to see what most lenders require, so you can be best prepared.

  • Photo Identification: Driver’s license or passport can be used, but make sure both aren’t expired!
  • Proof of Income: A previous month’s pay stub is required to verify your total year to date income.
  • Asset Statements: Bank account statements for your Savings and Checking from the past 2-3 months.
  • W-2 tax forms: Previous two years of documents help lenders verify your previous employment and income history
  • Homeowners Insurance: Needed to show that you have current coverage on your home.

In order to find out more about what you will need for refinancing or if it even is the right option for you fill out the loan application to have a mortgage consultant contact you.  Integrity Financial loan specialists can give you all of the facts about the refinancing options you qualify for and help you through your buying process.  Give us a call today at 1-877-760-9854 to find out more information.

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Should I Rent or Buy?

In today’s market, it is a justified question to ask if you should rent or buy your next property. At some point, every person who rents property has gotten frustrated and asked if their lives would be better by switching to purchasing their own real estate.  Making this decision is a complicated one, and requires a heavy amount of consideration regarding this long term investment.  At a first glance of the market, buying a home is an attractive concept that saves you money in the long run and gives you freedom to change your place how you like.  However, there are several things you need to ask yourself if buying is the right choice for you or your family.

 

The first question to consider is that does make financial sense to stop renting and purchase a home?  One popular real estate concept is the Rule of 15, which states that it makes sense to buy if the home in your area is worth less than 15 times what your annual rent.  To clarify with an example, let’s say you have a monthly rent of $2,000 which equates to an annual total of $24,000.  Multiplying that annual number by 15 gets you to $360,000 which is the maximum you should be willing to spend on purchasing.  If you cannot find a home you are happy with in the area you want under that number then it makes sense to wait or change your search strategy.  The New York Times has a great visual graph on their site that further explains this and can help in your decision process.

The next point you should ask is if you are in enough of a financially stable and comfortable position to afford this move?  Affordability is a large factor, and houses come with many costs other than just your mortgage such as closing costs, HOA/Condo fees, taxes and homeowners insurance.  Determining what housing you can afford can be difficult, but it is suggested that you do not exceed spending more than 3 times your annual income on any property.  Credit score is as well a large factor in your decision, as a low score will relate to much higher interest rates.  Mortgage companies look at these factors including credit score, employment and your debt to credit ratio in setting what your mortgage limit is.

The last question to research is if the market is at the right point/time for you to purchase a property?  Currently we are seeing a very strong market where there are more purchasers than sellers.  Inventory on current listings is down 25% from this time last year, which is driving prices on those properties up.  On a given property, this could lead to multiple offers and quick closings on listings which are why it is important to do your research before and speak to a mortgage lending services professional.  Integrity Financial loan specialists can help you determine what loan options you qualify for and help you through your buying process.  Give us a call today at 1-877-760-9854 to find out more information.

 

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Looking for Housing Assistance in Rural Areas? USDA can help.

In the past few years the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set a goal of building up rural development. Implemented in 2009, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) set its sights on tackling this issue by setting several goals. These goals were simple, and aimed to increase home ownership in rural areas, improve the quality of life for its inhabitants and create and/or save jobs. In order to achieve their goals, the Recovery Act has been charged with deploying recovery funds that when implemented would deliver more than $20 billion in loans awarded to accomplish the following:

  • Building high-speed broadband infrastructure
  • Constructing or improving rural water and waste disposal systems
  • Building critical community facilities such as hospitals and community centers
  • Financing homes for rural families

There are several program-specific plans for helping individuals and families purchase homes, and the Single Family Housing (SFH) provides 100% financing to customers in rural areas. These rural areas are defined as locations with a population no higher than 10,000 residents, if located outside of a metropolitan area. The financing from these loans can be used for several housing development purposes, including building, repairing, renovating or even relocating a home. This can also include providing water and sewage facilities to your location. Not everyone is eligible for this loan type but there are several key benefits to a SFH, including:

  • No down payment: USDA Mortgages require a zero down payment when purchasing a home
  • Low Mortgage insurance: Reduced requirement of monthly private mortgage insurance compared to other loan programs(assists borrowers in keeping payments low compared to other loan types)
  • Competitive Rates & Closing Costs: Guaranteed by the USDA, results in lenders offering competitive Interest rates. Allows sellers and other interested parties to assist with buyers closing costs.

As mentioned above, there are eligibility requirements for USDA Rural Housing Programs. Families must be without adequate housing, but be able to afford the mortgage payments including taxes and insurance (typically 24% of applicant’s income). Payment subsidy is available to applicants to enhance repayment ability, and applicants must be unable to obtain credit elsewhere, yet have reasonable credit histories. To find out more information on whether your property is eligible, please visit the USDA site here. Integrity Financial is also available to speak with you directly about USDA Rural Housing loans and assist you through each step of the process. Give us a call today at 1-877-760-9854 to find out more information.

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Getting Started with Commercial Loans: Types and Tips

The commercial property real estate market is full of opportunities but can also be a sizeable investment for businesses and individuals. If you are planning to enter the market and are researching commercial mortgages and commercial loan programs this blog post contains some helpful information to start your search. The first item to understand is the similarities and differences between commercial and residential mortgages.

The biggest fundamental difference is that the collateral for this loan type is required to be a commercial building or other business real estate and is not residential property. Secondly, with commercial mortgages the qualifications follow a different standard. When applying, financial institutions look at the property and the income stream it will generate compared to residential mortgages in which lenders mainly look at the borrowers financial and credit history. One tip to consider is that personal credit is still a factor in commercial mortgage loans, as the investor will want to know you have a good history of paying off previous debts. Down payments also differ, with the rates being much lower for residential mortgages. With rates for commercial loans typically requiring 20 percent down it can really impact your property investment location and strategy.

The length of payment is also a factor where commercial mortgages with balloon payments can be amortized over a longer period of time but have a shorter term payout date. This type of commercial mortgage is great because it involves low monthly payments; however the downside is at the end of the term you’re left with a large, or ballooned, dollar amount comprising the remaining interest and loan principal. It is important to note here that when the term is due, the borrower will most likely refinance the loan or sell the property to make the final payment. Other commercial loan types are available, and include the following:

  • Working Capital Lines of Credit
  • Small Business Administration Loans
  • Partner Buy Out
  • Business Acquisition Lending
  • Equipment Finance
  • Accounts Receivable Lending

Now that you have a brief overview, it is important to select the right lender…one who is knowledgeable and has the industry experience necessary to help you through every step of the process. Integrity Financial Services is experienced in commercial loan arena and is available to help you decide which commercial loan is right for you. Contact us today at 1-877-760-9854 to find out more information.

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Take Advantage of Your VA Home Loan Options.

In today’s tough economy, the decision to become a homeowner is one of the biggest financial and personal decisions you can make. It is a decision that requires carefully weighing your options and picking one that is right for you. Buying a new house can be daunting and begs the question where exactly do I start?

For former & active military servicemen & women, that should be looking at Military VA Home Loans. VA Home loans are specifically designed for both active servicemen & and women as well as veterans by being guaranteed by the Federal Government and issued by specially approved lenders. When looking at the different loan options available, VA Loan Candidates benefit from special advantages not available to the general public. A common myth about real estate is that renting is always cheaper than buying a home, but this is not always the case with VA home loans due to the following key benefits:

  • 0% Down Payments – Generally no money is required at closing
  • Low Qualification Standards – Expanded credit criteria allow for easier loan approvals
  • Competitively Priced Interest Rates – Guaranteed loans lead to lower monthly costs
  • Jumbo Loans – Can exceed the $417,000 normal loan limit

If you have already gone through the home buying process and have an existing VA Home Loan then you may be eligible to save even more through VA Streamline Refinance. This loan is also referred to as a VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (IRRRL) and is the most common refinance VA loan type available. The IRRRL works by refinancing your loan and lowering your current interest rate. This directly correlates to paying less money on your monthly mortgage payment. It is important to note that not everyone will qualify for this loan, and to do so you must meet the following requirements:

  • Current on your mortgage with no more than one 30-day later payment in past year
  • Monthly IRRL Payment must be lower than your previous loan’s monthly payment
  • Cannot receive any cash from the IRRRL
  • You must have previously used your VA loan eligibility on the property being refinanced

Integrity Financial Services is a VA Approved lender and can assist you whether you are a first time homeowner or looking to refinance. Take advantage of your military status and Contact Us or Give us a Call today at 1-877-760-9854 to find out more information.

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Look to Rising Mortgage Rates

Interest rates have an ebb and flow to them, where one month they are rising only to see the next month decreasing. Looking from a general perspective, these interest rates have dropped significantly within the past 20 years and have been resting at a near historic low point. This however is looking to change as there have been recent small increases to the rates recently indicating a potential large shift in the market.

Data released by Freddie Mac showed the rates from the 30-year fixed rate rose an average 0.7 points for the previous week to 3.53%. This change may have been small, but it marked for this first time since September 2012 that the rate rose above the 3.5% mark. Other types of mortgages, such as the 15-year fixed rate and 5 Yr. ARM, are also showing slight increases which confirm a growing trend. With these increases now being noticed by the public, it is affecting the total number of mortgage applications. For the first time this year these applications saw their first decline in total number being processed for the month.

However, this mindset may be the wrong approach to take. With a known trend of increasing rates on the horizon, now is the best time to act and lock in the current rates. These rates vary, but getting the best interest rate depends on the following components:

  • Credit Score: The higher the borrower’s score the better the rate
  • Purchase Type: Your rate all depends on whether or not this is a primary residence, second home or investment property
  • Transaction Request: Rates are complicated in design, and vary by decision to purchase or refinance

Do not wait and miss your opportunity to lock in a rate at the current low levels before they increase even higher. Integrity Financial Services has 35 years of mortgage and home loan banking experience and can secure you the best rate available. Give us a call or Contact Us today at 1-877-760-9854 to have a representative walk you through each step of the process and provide you with answers to your questions.

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Applying for a Loan? Check!

Before succeeding in obtaining any loan, whether it’s personal, home, auto, business or the like, you are required to complete a loan application at any accredited bank or financial institution. Before you start the loan application process it is important to be prepared and ready to provide a surplus of information in order to be qualified.
Let Integrity Financial Services help you for this important process. Familiarize yourself with the checklist we have provided below in order to have all the necessary qualifiers ready now to save time later!
Loan Application Checklist:

  •  Address to your place of residence (past two years)
  • Social Security numbers
  • Names and location of your employers (past two years)
  • Gross monthly salary at your current job(s)
  • Pertinent information for all checking and savings accounts
  • Pertinent information for all open loans
  • Complete information for other real estate you own
  • Approximate value of all personal property
  • Certificate of Eligibility and DD-214 (for veterans only)
  • Current check stubs and your W-2 forms (past two years)
  • Personal tax returns (past two years), current income statement and business balance sheet for self-employed individuals

In addition to the listed items above, you will need to pay for a credit report and appraisal of the property. It is also important to note that the processing of your loan application may not be immediate and funds will be dispersed accordingly. Preparedness, patience and a good attitude will have you on your way to receiving the necessary funds you desire! If you have other questions regarding loans, or concerning loan application requirements, give Integrity Financial Services a call at 1-877-760-9854. We are always waiting and ready to help you!

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To Buy, or To Build?

Both buying and building a home are exciting endeavors that require careful thought and contemplation. Both will get a roof over your head, but each option has pros and cons that may, or may not, make it the option for you! Building a home and buying a home are completely different tasks and weighing these pros and cons needs careful consideration before diving in.
Buying a Home – There is actually much more to consider when purchasing a previously owned home. More research, more construction history and more real estate options, etc. Purchasing a previously owned home had many constructive pros and cons to consider:

Pros:

  • Established neighborhood location
  • Mature landscaping
  • Better value for your dollar
  • More negotiable price
  • Included appliances and fixtures
  • Superior craftsmanship and material

Cons:

  • Not reflective of your taste
  • Cost of maintenance or renovations
  • Lack of modern amenities and wiring specifications
  • Less energy efficient

The two biggest advantages of buying an existing home are convenience and cost. After closing on a home, ideally, you can be comfortably living in it 30-45 days from the time of purchase.
Building a Home – Building your own home gives you the flexibility to have things just the way you would like, but even with the added conveniences of a developer, there are some drawbacks as well.

Pros:

  • Dream home sentimental value
  • Customizable structure and design
  • Emotional fulfillment and pride
  • Brand-new everything
  • Up-to-date construction materials and building code

Cons:

  • Delayed timeline
  • Exceeding cost expectations
  • Double mortgages
  • New neighborhood construction noise
  • More expensive per square foot to build than to buy
  • Time consuming meetings with the developer
  • Restricted to the floor plans of the developer

The decision to build or buy is not an easy one and each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that require careful consideration. Owning a home is a great experience, but it is also an extremely taxing event in your life and you need to be prepared for what lies ahead. Look into both options and take the path that is best suited for you. Integrity Financial Services is always happy to help. Give us a call today at 1-877-760-9854 and let us answer your questions.

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