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Home Buying Basics

lady in dungarees looking inside a box for help as a first time homebuyer

First-Time Home Buyers’ Steps and Programs: A MoneyTips Guide

Getting your first home loan can be challenging, and, sometimes, you may wonder if you’ve been left to struggle through the process on your own. Luckily, that’s not true. There is help out there. And many programs specifically offer financial assistance to home buying newbies. What Are the Advantages of Being a First-Time Home Buyer?...

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lady sitting outside her house as a first time home buyer

What Is a Mortgage? A Guide for First-Time Home Buyers

The word “mortgage” gets thrown around a lot when you’re buying a house. And that totally makes sense. Unless you’ve got high-earner, “Selling Sunset” money, you’ll probably need a mortgage loan to buy a home. Here’s what we don’t recommend: walking into the mortgage process blindly.  What we do recommend: learning everything you need to...

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this pic describes the thought process of understanding escrow

What Is Escrow and How Can It Help You Buy a Home?

Escrow is the safe third party that holds the money until all the red tape is done.  Chrishell Stause, Selling Sunset As you dip into the home buying waters, you may hear the term “escrow” being thrown around. As a homeowner, you’ll typically be set up with a mortgage escrow account, which will serve you...

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Two people shaking hands

What Is Cash to Close?

During your home buying process, you might have heard the term cash to close. While cash to close might evoke images of showing up to closing with a duffle bag full of cash, that idea can be misleading since virtually no one uses paper money for cash to close. Though your down payment and mortgage...

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Two people working at a home desk

11 Common Types of Home Loans for Buyers and Owners

Like snowflakes, no two home buyers are alike. And there are different types of mortgage loans to accommodate different types of buyers and home refinances. But every mortgage option has its benefits and drawbacks. That’s why it’s important to find the best home loan for your unique situation. To begin our journey through mortgage options,...

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Couple in a kitchen with their baby

Should You Take a First-Time Home Buyers Class?

Buying a home is a big decision. It may be the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. Because the stakes are so high, you should learn as much as you can about the home buying process before you take the proverbial plunge. One way to do that is by taking a first-time home buyers class....

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Front door in autumn

What Are Prepaid Costs When Buying a Home?

We’d be surprised if you never heard anyone say that a home is the biggest investment you may ever make. It would be surprising given the validity of this widespread notion. Most home buyers begin their real estate journey parting with a sizable chunk of their savings and then taking out a mortgage to pay...

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Blue calculators

Mortgage Par Rates: A Complete Guide

If you’re shopping for a home loan, you’re probably familiar with the concept of mortgage rates. You probably also know that even a small change to that number can change the amount you pay in interest over the life of a loan by tens of thousands of dollars.  But you may not have heard of...

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Homeowner documentation

Defeasance Clause: Definition and Overview

Real estate transactions are often chock full of complex terms, complex jargon and complex concepts. Even a question as simple as whether you or not you own your home after closing can result in a not-so-simple answer. (Hint: It depends on which state you live in.)  The answer to the question of ownership may rest...

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3 hands holding dollar signs

Impound Accounts Explained: Why Your Lender Holds Funds

If you’re like most people, you may not fully understand the purpose of an impound account. In short, an “impound account,” also known as an “escrow account,” is a way for your lender to ensure your property taxes and homeowners insurance are paid on time.  The lender is responsible for managing the account, but it’s...

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Three siblings looking out playhouse window

A Guide to Inheriting a House With a Sibling

Property is a common way to pass wealth to another generation. A parent or relative might leave a house to you and your siblings as an inheritance. It’s a generous legacy, but inheriting property can also be a complicated process – especially when you’re grieving.  Inheriting a house with siblings comes with many questions: Who...

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Row of red houses

What Is a Warranty Deed?

If you’re wondering how the government and other people will know your house is actually yours, then you’ll want to understand how deeds work. There are several types of deeds, but the ones you’ll want to seek out are known as warranty deeds because they can help protect you and your rights as a homeowner....

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stylized laptop, monitor, smartphone and house key

What Is an eMortgage?

The internet has given us countless innovations over the last several years. And these days, you can buy just about anything online, including your next home. With an eMortgage (also known as an electronic mortgage), borrowers can potentially move through the entire home buying process, including closing, without ever getting off their couch. Given the...

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Man in mortgage office offering chair

What Are the Different Types of Mortgage Lenders?

Buying a home is more than a major life milestone. It’s a major financial investment. And with so much at stake, it’s important to work with real estate professionals, including mortgage lenders, that can offer accurate information and help you make smart decisions.  Our guide will help you recognize the different types of mortgage lenders...

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pink float on pool

What is a Mortgage Float-Down Option?

Once you start considering buying a home, the obvious next step is researching and creating a plan. And you quickly find one phrase that seems to proliferate in your search results like a financial-jargon bacteria: interest rate.  Interest rates are one of the most important aspects of the mortgage process. They can have a huge...

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Signing a document

Title Endorsement: What To Know

Understanding the difference between title insurance and title endorsement is part of buying a home. And whether you’re ready to buy your first home or you’ve done the whole home buying thing before, you’ll need to either learn or refresh your memory of the title insurance and endorsement lingo used by real estate professionals. Humblebrag:...

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Sale in 3D letters on colored blocks

What Is a Due-on-Sale Clause?

One thing’s for sure, buying a home is an involved undertaking. And if you’re getting a mortgage or deed of trust to purchase a new home, it gets even more involved. There are all kinds of legal aspects to be aware of, including the due-on-sale clause that most mortgages contain.  A due-on-sale clause is a...

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Woman in chair with fishing pole

What Is a Mortgage Recast?

For homeowners with mortgage loans, refinancing (read: swapping out your original loan for a new loan with different terms) is a well-known way to lower monthly mortgage payments.  But refinancing isn’t the only option. Have you ever thought about a mortgage recast? Not sure what that is? We can explain what mortgage recasting is (it’s...

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Woman looking at papers

What Is Proof of Funds?

You’ve been saying no to takeout, fancy lattes, and yes, avocado toasts in pursuit of your goal: to save up for that down payment on your dream home. The time has come, and you’re ready to start an exciting new chapter in your life – homeownership. But, before you can start the homeownership chapter, you’ll need...

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Trash can with balled up papers

How Often Does an Underwriter Deny a Loan: What To Do

We get it, rejection never feels good. But sometimes it happens during the home loan application process. It’s important to understand why your application was rejected during underwriting. Knowing why can improve your chances of successfully securing a mortgage on your next attempt. So, whether your mortgage application has been denied or you’re wondering how...

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Shaking hands

What Is a Co-Borrower and Should Your Mortgage Have One?

When applying for a mortgage, lenders pay close attention to your credit history, assets and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to help them decide if you qualify for the loan. If you carry a lot of debt, your credit history is poor or your credit score is low, lenders may charge you a higher interest rate or...

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room filled with dots

What Are Basis Points in Mortgages?

If you’re in the process of getting a mortgage or just want to know all you can about the home buying process, you’ll want to get familiar with basis points. Basis points can impact your mortgage rate, which will impact how much interest you pay over the life of your loan.  We’ll give you the...

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Hands holding dollar signs

What Are Mortgage Constants?

Choosing which mortgage to go with is a big decision. A home loan is likely the biggest loan you’ve ever taken out, and it will affect your credit and financial health for the term of the loan. It’s an exciting time, but you should choose wisely.  You’ll want to know the pace at which you’ll...

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Man on his work computer

What Is a Mortgagee Clause?

Buying a home (or any other kind of real estate) may be the largest and most expensive purchase you ever make. And for most of us aspiring home buyers, buying a home usually means borrowing money from a lender (read: getting a mortgage). As you might have already guessed, to get a mortgage loan, you’ll...

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Bar graph

How Are Mortgage Rates Determined

When you started looking for a mortgage, you probably saw different advertised mortgage interest rates and wondered who sets these rates and how they’re calculated. Stab in the dark here, but you probably also wondered what you needed to do to make your mortgage interest rate lower. Well, your mortgage rate is affected every day...

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Woman on a laptop

How To Write a Mortgage Letter of Explanation

On a scale from one to exciting, buying a home is pretty exciting. Getting approved for the mortgage, not so much.  Your mortgage lender or underwriter might ask you for a letter of explanation during the underwriting stage of your mortgage application process. During that stage, an underwriter gets into the nitty-gritty of your finances...

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Man and woman in office

What Is a Mortgage Loan Originator?

You can’t just buy a house. You’ve got to prepare to buy a house. That means figuring out how much home you can afford, weighing mortgage options, getting the best rates and organizing your paperwork. There’s a financial professional who can help you navigate the mortgage application process – the mortgage loan originator (MLO). A...

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People at a meeting table looking at papers

Closing Cost Assistance Defined and Where To Find It

As you’ve been saving up to buy your first home, you’ve probably given a lot of thought to how much you can afford for the down payment. While the down payment deserves a lot of thought, don’t forget about your closing costs. Closing costs are generally 3% – 5% of the home sale price –...

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two people standing in an office

Who Is a Mortgagee?

So, you want to buy your first home, but you don’t have the cash to pay for it in full. Allow us to introduce you to the mortgage loan. A lender (aka a mortgagee) lends you the money you need to buy the home, and you pay the money back according to the terms you...

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Woman with green book

What Is Mortgage Title Insurance?

If you’re buying a new home, your mortgage lender will probably require you to purchase mortgage title insurance as part of your closing costs. You may be asking, “How does my house have a title? Is it a member of the royal family? Well, simply put: It’s not that kind of title.   Get ready to...

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Person fills in calendar date for mortgage payment due date

When Is Your First Mortgage Payment Due?

Congratulations, you did it! You took the plunge and officially entered the housing market. Becoming a homeowner is an exciting time in a person’s life and, chances are, you’re feeling pretty proud of yourself.  The road to closing may have been long and winding, but that part’s over, and we’re here to help you navigate...

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Processor working on paperwork at a desk.

What Does a Loan Processor Do?

If you’re deep into the process of getting a mortgage, that means you’ve already talked to a loan officer who helped you find the right mortgage (yay!). You filled out the mortgage loan application and handed over any requested documents to the mortgage loan officer.  Maybe you’ve been told that your application is with the...

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What Does a Title Company Do?

You’ve fallen in love with a property, signed a sales contract and arranged your financing. There’s one more step to complete before finalizing the purchase of your new home – making sure the title is clear.  A clear title means no one’s standing in line waiting to claim a piece, if not all, of your...

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Painted graph

What Is Negative Amortization? How It Works and How to Avoid It

If you use it right, debt can afford you some of life’s greatest purchases – a dream home or your own set of wheels. But debt comes at a price. The price of debt is interest, and interest is the price you pay to borrow money.  Normally, the amount you owe on a loan gets...

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Proof of Employment: What It Is and How To Get It

There’s no way around it. Proof of employment is a big part of getting a mortgage. Besides verifying your credit score and credit history, your lender is going to ask you to prove that you’re bringing in enough money to pay off the loan you want (dolla dolla bills, y’all!).  If you’re wondering why your...

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Person signing paperwork

What Is a Mortgage Note?

It’s all nervous giggles and sweaty palms as you iron out the last few details of owning your dream home. After the offer is accepted and you sign on the dotted line, those keys drop into your palm, and you’re ready to step over the threshold.  But let’s rewind to that dotted line and, cough,...

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How Does Mortgage Interest Work?

Buying a home can be challenging. From figuring out the right time to buy a home to figuring out how to buy a home (all while learning insider mortgage lingo in your spare time), it’s a lot.  It may look like madness, but, trust us, there’s a method to the “madness.”  Your home (because we...

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Stacks of colored blocks

What Is Mortgage Amortization? Calculators and Schedules Explained

Picture this: You found the perfect home. You qualify for the loan. You’ve got a pen in your hand, you’re ready to sign your mortgage loan, and then your lender starts talking about your amortization schedule. If you’re like a lot of us, you probably start to wonder what an amortization schedule is and why...

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game board on blue background

What Are Mortgage Points? Should You Buy and How To Calculate

Have you ever wondered whether you should buy mortgage points? If this is your first time buying a home, we wouldn’t be surprised if you were asking yourself just what exactly a mortgage point is.   You see, many home buyers are known to experience intense happiness and excitement after learning that they’ve been approved...

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