HomeMortgagesFinancing Your First HomeHome Buying Basics

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?...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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:...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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 –...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
"ok!" on a pink pastel background

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...

Read More
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...

Read More
Man working in bicycle store

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...

Read More
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,...

Read More
Abstract and colorful shapes stacked next to each other

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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
Interlocking semi-circles

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...

Read More
Life preserver

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...

Read More
A credit card

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...

Read More
File Folders

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...

Read More
Block stacks

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...

Read More
Orange background with a red thumbs down and a green thumbs up

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...

Read More
Blue background with small pink ships sailing in

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...

Read More
Yellow background and blue table with money falling on it

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...

Read More
A row of colorful pencils leaning up against a white wall

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...

Read More
A pink background with money floating around

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...

Read More
Woman co-signing agreement

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...

Read More