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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 – You’ve Got Help: A MoneyTips Guide

Getting your first home loan can feel like climbing a hill riddled with obstacles. From saving for large down payments and closing costs to deciphering acronyms on loan paperwork, sometimes it can feel like there’s no support for first-time home buyers. But, luckily, that’s where you’re wrong. There is help for you, and being a...

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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

What Is a Mortgage? To start, let’s discuss what the word “mortgage” actually means. A mortgage is a type of loan usually used to buy a home or other forms of real estate. For most of us, getting a mortgage is a necessary first step on the road to homeownership. Here’s why it matters: Using...

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What Is a 5/1 ARM and Is It a Good Idea?

When you’re looking for a mortgage loan, you’ll often be offered a choice between a fixed-rate mortgage and an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).  While there are many different types of ARM loans, the 5/1 ARM is among the most popular, usually offering lower interest rates in comparison to 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. But what is a 5/1...

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What Is a Mortgage Contingency?

Included in every great home sale agreement is a great mortgage contingency clause. If you’re like most of the home buying population, you’re probably getting a mortgage to buy a home.  Because there’s no guarantee that you will qualify for a mortgage, adding a mortgage contingency clause to a real estate contract will protect you in...

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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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Can You Pay Your Mortgage With a Credit Card?

If you’re the kind of person who makes the most of their cash-back and credit card rewards, then writing a check for your mortgage instead of paying with a credit card can feel like you’re potentially throwing a free trip, rental car discount or even cash out the window!  But – while in some cases...

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What Is a Loan Estimate Form and What Appears on It?

After you apply for a mortgage, your lender is going to hand you a three-page document. That document is your Loan Estimate. You’ll want to carefully read through its three pages because they’ll contain critical information and details about the loan. To help you get the most from your Loan Estimate, we break down the...

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What is LTV (Loan-to-Value Ratio) and How To Calculate It

There are a lot of numbers involved in buying and owning a home, like your credit score or debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Another equally important number – not only when you buy your home, but throughout homeownership – is your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio.  Whether you’re looking to become a homeowner or already own a home, it’s...

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What Is Mortgage Underwriting?

When you apply for a loan to buy a home, lenders use mortgage underwriting to decide if they want to do business with you. During this process, your personal and financial information is evaluated to determine whether you can afford the loan.  It’s the last step in the application process. Ideally, it ends with a...

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HomeReady® Mortgage Loans: Sailing Into Your Next Home With a Low Down Payment

Down payments don’t grow on trees 🌴🌴🌴.  Between high rents, deepening student loan debt, and the cost of living going up – it can take a long time to save the traditional 20% down payment. Even buyers with good credit scores can still face challenges when it comes to buying a home. They may not...

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How Much Do You Need for a Down Payment on a House?

For those of us with big dreams of buying a home, there may come a time when the dream becomes reality. To make homeownership a reality, you’ll need to meet its challenges. There are financial hurdles you’ll need to clear before you can grab those house keys. One example of that would be making a...

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30-Year Mortgage: Today’s Rates Explained

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been one of the most popular ways that homeowners in America have financed new home purchases. What is this mortgage mainstay’s secret of success? Is it the right option for you when you buy? What if you want to refinance?  Read on to find out more. How Does a 30-Year...

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Closing Costs: What the Heck Are They and How Much Will I Pay on My Home?

Just when you thought you learned everything you needed to learn about buying a home, you come face-to-face with one of the last pieces of the process: closing costs.  In a 2020 survey of REALTORS®, the National Association of REALTORS® reported that 25% of people ready to buy weren’t fully educated on closing costs.  Handing...

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What To Know Before Co-Signing a Mortgage

Helping out a friend or relative has got to be one of the best feelings in the world.  Whether it’s referring them for a new job, facilitating a conversation between them and a person of interest at the bar, or handing them a stick of gum in their time of need — it all comes...

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Gift Money for Down Payments: How Can I Properly Use It?

Home buying can be a challenging experience for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest challenges for home buyers is saving up enough money to cover a down payment. Maybe that’s why a study from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) found that in 2019 more than 32% of first-time home buyers got a...

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How To Get Preapproved for a Mortgage

Buying a house can be challenging. But getting a mortgage preapproval before making an offer can make buying a house go a lot smoother and work out in your favor, especially in a hot housing market. Home shop smarter, not harder. A mortgage preapproval letter proves that you not only want the house – but...

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payment terminal reflecting how credit scores affect mortgage rates

Credit Score Affects on Mortgage Rates

A good credit score is like having a strong professional network – it opens a lot of doors for you. Behind those doors, you may find perks, like qualifying for a higher spending limit on a credit card, being approved for larger personal loans, and earning lower rates on mortgages and home equity loans. While...

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