Thursday, February 25, 2016

March Social

Mark it on your calendar! The next upcoming Richmond Mortgage Bankers Association event will be organized the new Social Chair - me!  That means you know it will be fun and productive like yours truly.  So make sure you attend to make this event a blast, because it won't be fun without you, too!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

5 Avoidable Mortgage Mistakes

     We live in an age of DIY.  People can learn amazing skill just from typing in a few keywords. Things like “how to revamp your kitchen cabinets” or “how to make your own hot sauce,” are just recent searches of mine!  But as a mortgage industry professional, it KILLS me to see individuals going into what may be the biggest investment of their life with nothing but a few broad strokes and Google searches of home lending knowledge.  Some can and do get out clean, with a great rate and a mortgage they can live with, but it’s a sad day when homebuyers run into any of these pitfalls that could have been avoided.

1. Applying for a loan on a home that’s under construction.  You aren’t going to get approved for a loan while construction is in progress.  It will immensely delay the process of an appraisal, especially if major features are missing like sinks or appliances.  Either wait to start construction until you get the loan, or wait until it’s complete.

2. You maxed out your credit on another big purchase.  Your financing may not go through if you decide, while you’re applying for a loan, to lease a new car. Now is not the time.  If your lender does a credit refresh you may fall out of a debt-to-income desirable ratio.

3.  Co-signing isn’t an “in-case” scenario.  It means you’ve taken on a shared burden of the debt you’re co-signing for.  It’s the same as it would be for leasing a car of your own.  You’re responsible, and new debt affects your credit more than old debt.

4.  Don’t ask, don’t tell—  it doesn’t work that way.  Your lender WILL find out whatever you’re not telling them.  The proof is in the pudding.  It’s very beneficial to you if you’re upfront with your lender about your finances so they can manage around any potential difficulties.

5. New home, new start, new…..job? Yikes! That translates to your lender “no income, no home, not happening.”  Don’t quit your day job, or take a leave of absence while your loan is processing, it’s kind of a deal breaker.

     Working with a professional means they can guide your lending process to be a successful one and not full of twists and turns due to completely avoidable mistakes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

7 Habits to STOP for Credit's Sake

I write a lot about how many first-time buyers can probably qualify for more of a loan than they think.  Applying for a home loan can be intimidating and many people that want to buy put it off, and put it off because they just don't know how to take the first steps, or think it's more complicated than it really is.  Well, what if you don't qualify for everything you hoped - or - you know that homeownership is in your future, but while you're waiting those couple of years to get to that place, might as well work on your credit to get a better rate, right?  YES!  So, while you're stacking that cash for your down payment or doing some damage control, here are some habits to STOP while trying to improve your credit.

7 Ways You're Ruining Your Credit
By: Lauren Gensler

You know your credit score is important, but are you clued in on what you might inadvertently be doing to sabotage it?

This three digit number acts like a grade for your financial life and is calculated based on the information in your credit reports, like your history of paying credit card bills and taking out loans.

Lenders use it to determine your eligibility for mortgages, car loans and credit cards, plus how high of an interest rate you’ll pay. Your reports can even be pulled by prospective landlords or employers as they evaluate you for an apartment or job.

A FICO score, which is used by the vast majority of lenders, ranges from 300 to 850. Anything above 780 is considered very good and anything below 600 is considered fair to bad.

Here are some of the top credit score killers:

1. Paying bills late: Your history of making payments is one of the most important factors that goes into your credit score, whether it’s for a credit card, student loan or mortgage. It’s the first thing a lender wants to know, says Fair Isaac Co., which produces the FICO score, and composes about a third of your score. By slipping up and failing to pay your bills on time, your score gets dinged.

With that said, don’t assume that just as long as you make payments on time every month you have perfect credit, says John Ulzheimer, credit expert and president of consumer education at

2. Not paying bills at all: It’s devastating for your credit score when you start missing payments entirely (say, you lost your job and can’t afford your mortgage) and they get sent to collections. A collection listed on your credit report will typically remain there for seven years, regardless of whether you pay it off later or not. (That’s right, an unpaid collection is no worse for your score than a paid collection.) With that said, generally the older a collection is the less it will hurt your score.

If you get to the point where you’re forced into foreclosure or bankruptcy, that’s particularly catastrophic and can easily knock 100 points off your score.

3. Maxing out your credit card: If you have a $10,000 limit on your credit card, that doesn’t mean you should charge that much every month. In fact, experts say your credit card balance should never exceed 30% of your credit limit, and ideally it should stay below 10%. That means no more than $3,000 should ever be put on a card with a $10,000 credit limit.

It doesn’t matter if you never exceed the limit and you’re religious about paying your bill in full every month. The fact remains: Amassing big balances on your credit card, relative to your allowance, is harmful to your score.

With that said, there are a few tricks you can employ to spend as normal and take full advantage of credit card rewards, without putting your credit score in harms way.

For one, “you have ultimate control over the balance that’s reported to credit bureaus,” says Ulzheimer.  Your balance is only reported once per month, which means you can pay down your credit card bill beforehand so it appears low when it’s passed along to the credit bureaus.

The balance that’s reported is typically the one on your monthly statement, so figure out when this hits your mailbox and pay well in advance. Call your credit card company to check.

Just “don’t play chicken” with your bill, says Bill Hardekopf, CEO of Your best bet might be to make credit card payments multiple times a month to ensure your balance is always low. Or if you make a big purchase, say a $1,500 flat-screen TV, go home and pay it off right away.

You can also try to boost your credit limit, either by requesting a higher limit on your existing card or signing up for another credit card. Your total credit limit rises with each additional credit line you’re extended.

4. Thinking you don’t have to pay if an item is in dispute: You’re expected to pay your credit card bill every month, even if you’re challenging an item on your statement. Were you charged for a catering job you thought was subpar or hotel parking you thought was free? Shipped a defective product? By all means, fight for a refund with the merchant and call up your credit card company to tell them you’re disputing the charge (they’re supposed to designate that charge as pending.) But then pay your credit card bill.

Just because you’re disputing one item doesn’t mean you’re suddenly off the hook for paying the rest of your bill on time. A late payment is a late payment as far as your credit score is concerned. “Lose the short-term battle, but win the long-term war,” says Ulzheimer.

5. Co-signing: When you co-sign a loan for a relative or friend, you open yourself up to blow-back from any bad activity that happens down the road.

“It’s like saying, ‘A bank won’t touch you by yourself, but for some reason I trust you and I’ll put my credit reputation on the line,” says Ulzheimer.

The loan will show up on your credit reports, almost as if it’s yours, and any missteps like late or missed payments will negatively impact your credit score. While it could make for an awkward conversation at the dinner table, you have to consider the worst case scenario before signing on the dotted line. Imagine if your son suddenly can’t make payments, and you’re faced with making them yourself or accepting the hit to your credit score.

6. Taking on too much credit at once: You shouldn’t be opening a lot of accounts in rapid succession, especially if you’re younger and don’t have a long credit history. “It’s a red flag that something is going on,” says Hardekopf, because it indicates to a lender that you might be in financial trouble and grasping for credit.

Plus, every time you apply for a new credit card or loan, a lender makes something called a “hard inquiry” to check you out. This can ding your credit score, although if it does it probably won’t be by much. Or for long. Inquiries aren’t factored into your credit score after 12 months have passed.

7. Shunning credit: While it may seem counterintuitive, steering clear of credit and debt isn’t the responsible thing to do either. When it comes time to buy a house or a car, and you don’t have enough cash on hand to do so, the bank you approach for a loan will assess your risk. Do you have a squeaky clean past or skeletons in the closet? If you’re a credit hermit, you’ll have little to show either way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Hidden Costs of Buying a Home

One of the biggest challenges to buying a home, and one of the scariest, is trying to figure out exactly what you can afford.  As a potential homeowner, you want to be comfortable in the home you purchase for many years to come and not grow out of it in just a few short years.  However, you don't want to stretch your budget so thin that you won't be able to make unforeseen repairs or handle the change of a job.  There are a few costs that many homebuyers, especially first-time homebuyers, tend to overlook when calculating exactly how much house they can afford.

All the Hidden, Unexpected Costs of Buying a Home
By: Kristin Wong

Your home is probably the most expensive thing you’ll ever own, and that expense goes beyond the closing price. There’s the cost of the house, but then there are other ongoing and upfront expenses that can catch you off guard. Especially if you’re a first time buyer, it helps to know what you’re getting into.

Zillow estimates that, on average, Americans pay about $9,000 a year in extra home ownership costs, but that varies depending on where you live, and how you buy. Some of these costs aren’t exactly “hidden” but they are commonly overlooked. Let’s take a look at them in detail.

Home Inspections

You put an offer on a home, and it got accepted. Hooray! From here, inspections will be your first major expense. Yes, there may be more than one inspection.

Before you officially close on your house, you’ll want to schedule a thorough inspection. In fact, your lender will probably even require one. At a minimum, you want to order a general inspection of the house and an inspection for wood-destroying insects (also known as termites), if that’s not included in the general. A general inspection will run you a few hundred bucks, and a termite will probably be around a hundred. Depending on the age and condition of the house, you may also want to schedule a sewer inspection, which can be another couple hundred dollars.

All of these can add up to over a thousand dollars, but that’s a small price to pay to make sure you’re not getting a lemon. If the house requires a hefty amount of maintenance, you might renegotiate with the seller, pull out of the deal completely, or simply budget for the added expense.

In some states, if a previous buyer backed out but they conducted a home inspection, the seller is required to disclose that inspection. In this case, if your mortgage lender doesn’t require you to conduct your own, there’s nothing stopping you from skipping the inspection altogether. You already have a report, after all. However, it’s always a good idea to get your own inspection anyway. It’s a big purchase, so it’s better to err on the side of caution. Plus, you want to be around during the inspection to see things for yourself.

In some cases, lenders require survey costs, too. That can be another few hundred bucks, but you’ll get a professional survey of your property so you know exactly where your boundaries are.

Closing Costs

After your offer is accepted, your lender will crunch some numbers and run the paperwork. At this point, they should give you a detailed list of what your closing costs are. According to Zillow, closing costs will run you an extra 2% to 5% of the home purchase price. So if you’re buying a $200,000 home, expect to spend between $4,000 and $10,000. Here’s what these costs usually include:

Lender fees: These include everything from administrative costs to wire transfer fees to fees for pulling your credit report.
Appraisal: The home appraisal can be a big expense, at several hundred dollars. The lender wants to make sure the home appraises for the sale price.
Title or attorney fees: Government filing fees, escrow fees, notary fees, and any other expenses associated with transferring the deed over to you.
Escrow fees: You might be required to pay some of your property taxes and insurance into an escrow account upfront.
Interest: You’ll have to pay interest that’s prorated from the date of your closing to the first of the following month.

You can always plug some numbers into a closing cost calculator to get a bit more specific idea of what you’ll pay, but in general, expect to spend several thousand dollars on top of your down payment when you close on your home.

Budget for Ongoing Taxes and Insurance

Monthly mortgage calculators tell you what your mortgage payment, including interest, will be each month. They don’t always include the taxes and insurance, though, and that adds up. For example, if you have a $200,000 mortgage at 4% interest over thirty years, your mortgage and interest will be $954. Not too bad. But calculate your total monthly mortgage principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. (PITI), and here’s what your payments look like:

All the Hidden, Unexpected Costs of Buying a Home
When calculating your monthly mortgage payment, include the cost of interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI).
That’s quite the jump! It doesn’t even include mortgage insurance, which you generally have to pay if your down payment is less than 20 percent. That can range from 0.5% to 1% of the cost of your loan.

Of course, your taxes will vary depending on the value of your home and where you live, but WalletHub reports that the average U.S. homeowner pays about $2,000 a year. It’s about $1,000 for homeowner’s insurance, but again, that varies quite a bit.

Depending on the terms of your loan, you might pay this monthly into an escrow account (also known as an impound account). In this case, you make these payments to your lender, and they’ll pay your taxes and insurance on your behalf. If you don’t have an escrow account, you’ll just pay them on your own directly when they’re due.

However and whatever you pay, make sure to budget for this ongoing, recurring cost. There’s good news, though: you can deduct your property tax and mortgage interest from your taxable income, so you’ll pay a less in taxes every year.

Keep Funds On Hand for Maintenance and Repair

When your air conditioning craps out as a renter, it’s a pain, but all you have to do is call your landlord and hope for the best. As a homeowner, it hurts a little more because you have to pay for for the repair yourself.

Most people know owning your own home means forking over the cash for your own maintenance, but you might underestimate how much these projects will run you. Jammed disposals, leaky faucets, and cracked exterior paint are just a few repair projects that catch most first-time homeowners off guard.

Every home is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for determining how much you’re going to pay on maintenance every year. However, here’s what one financial planner told The New York Times, based on his own experience with clients:

Mr. Stearns estimates that owners of a newer home that do some work for themselves but contract major work out to others will pay 3.6 percent of the original purchase price annually for maintenance and 4.5 percent if it’s an older home.

Other sources put that number as low as one percent. When dealing with money, it’s almost always a good idea to err on the side of caution though, so it can’t hurt to have about four percent of the purchase price budgeted for repairs each year. For a $200,000 home, that’s about $8,000. It seems like a lot, but even if you don’t spend that money, consider it an emergency fund for your home.

Prepare for Higher Utility Bills

Let’s say you moved out of your cramped apartment and into a nice, three-bedroom home. Elbow room is great, but it also means your bills will be a little higher.

Depending on what you’re used to paying, your gas, electric, and water bills won’t necessarily be higher when you buy a home, but they often are. Plus, your landlord might foot the bill for some expenses (like trash pickup or water) that you’ll have to pay when you own. According to the latest data from the U.S. Census, homeowners pay a couple of thousand dollars extra on utilities every year, compared with renters. Here’s the breakdown:

Average expenses for homeowners versus renters, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Of course, this is an estimation based on national data, so once again, your own numbers will vary. To get an idea of what your own situation will look like, home site Money Pit suggests asking the seller if you can take a look at their past bills:

Your realtor can arrange this through the seller’s realtor, or, in the case of a house for sale by owner, ask the seller directly for the tally. Use this information as a guide, remembering that year-to-year changes in climate conditions and energy use patterns by a new combination of residents will lead to variations.

It might be a long shot, but it’s probably the easiest way to see how much you’ll pay. You could also order a home energy audit using the Home Energy Rating System. This basically involves an auditor inspecting your home to tell you how to improve its energy efficiency. According to This Old House, that’ll run you about $400, though. You can do a general one yourself by checking your insulation, looking for air leaks, and possibly replacing some appliances and A/C systems.

Buying a home is traditionally thought to be a smarter financial decision than renting. The argument is that, when you rent, you’re throwing money away, but when you buy, you own your home at the end of the day. Sure, if you compare rental price to the bare bones price of your mortgage, that may be true. However, all of these extra costs add up. And, like your rent, those expenses don’t exactly buy you anything: they’re just the price you pay for owning.

Still, even with these costs, buying is a better long-term financial decision than renting in many areas. You want to crunch the numbers yourself, considering all of these unexpected costs. (The New York Times rent vs. buy calculator is probably the best tool we’ve seen for crunching these numbers.)

At any rate, once you make your decision to buy a home, be prepared for the price you’ll really pay. Factor in these expenses, and you should be on track.

For the full article, visit two cents.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Guest Speaker, Secretary of the Commonwealth at RMBA

Had a great time at the Richmond Mortgage Banker's Association Luncheon this week, hearing our special guest speaker, Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney!

Do you see me there in the back??  Lunch was delicious! :P

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Should You Refinance?

     With lots of people still trying to take advantage of historically low rates in the housing market, many people are considering refinancing their mortgage.  There can be many great benefits of refinancing, however, it's critical to crunch the numbers and make sure it makes long-term financial sense.  For instance, getting a lower rate without shortening the length of the mortgage could end up costing you more in the long run.  Many people put their equity to work by refinancing to make improvements on their home, which can be a great investment!  Ultimately, there are lots of factors to consider.  I found this article on HuffPost Business by Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, that explains the pros and cons of refinancing and whether or not it's right for you!

Should You Refinance Your Mortgage?
By Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz

Rising short-term interest rates are on a lot of people's minds these days. For savers, it's a plus, but borrowers--especially those with credit card balances--may see their payments creep up over time. However, for homeowners with a mortgage, it's a slightly different story.

While adjustable rate mortgages may be affected by short-term rate increases depending on the benchmark used to adjust the rate, fixed mortgage rates tend to be more closely aligned with the 10-year Treasury note. So, for instance, the recent increase in the short-term federal funds rate is unlikely to cause rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage to increase dramatically. Plus, even though we've seen rates inch up, when you compare today's mortgage rates to historical norms, current rates are still a good deal.

But rates aside, deciding whether or not to refinance depends on a lot of personal factors. So you first need to ask yourself some questions and look at some specifics.

What's your goal?
People refinance for a lot of reasons. Do you want to lower your monthly payment? Reduce the length of your mortgage? Take out extra money for home improvements? These are important initial questions.

If decreasing your payment is a top priority and you can lower your interest rate by ½ to 1 percent, it's probably worth the effort. For instance, lowering the interest rate on a $350,000 30-year fixed mortgage by 1 percent could lower your monthly payment by about $300 a month.

On the flip side, if your goal is to shorten the length of your mortgage and you refinance that amount for 15 years, your monthly payment would go up, but you'd save a considerable amount in interest over the life of the loan.

How long will you be in the house?
Refinancing usually involves paying points and fees. Points basically represent interest you pay upfront to get a lower rate on your loan. It's not uncommon for points and fees to add up to 3-6 percent of your loan. You can pay this out of pocket or, often times, add them to the balance of your loan. (One positive: points on a refi are tax deductible, amortized over the life of the loan. Should you refi again, you can deduct any unamortized points at that time.)

However you pay them, it will take time to get to the breakeven point where these additional costs are offset by the lower rates, so you have to think realistically about how long you intend to be in your home. If you plan to sell in the near future, the extra cost of refinancing may outweigh the monthly short-term savings.

How much home equity do you have?
Just like with the down payment on a first mortgage, if you have less than 20 percent equity in your home, you'll likely have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI fees can range from less than half a percent up to about 1.5 percent of your loan. While that may not add a considerable amount to your payment, if your goal is to reduce your monthlies and you have very little equity, you may want to reconsider.

Do the math
As you can see, it becomes a numbers game. A good way to start is to run some different scenarios using an online mortgage refinance calculator. That way you can see how it all adds up and decide on the optimum rate and loan term for you. In this interest rate environment, it could be smart to move from an adjustable rate mortgage to a fixed--depending on the rate, of course.

Also be aware that to get the best rate, you need to have a good credit rating, so you might want to begin the process by looking at your debt ratio and paying down outstanding credit card balances.

And if you're increasing your loan balance or shortening the loan term, each of which could increase your monthly, make sure you're being realistic about your ability to handle the new payment from your income. The last thing you want to do is to shortchange your retirement savings or emergency fund for the sake of your mortgage.

To read the full article, click here.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Show Your Support to Those You Love on World Cancer Day

     Every year I strive to raise as much money as I can for the annual Light the Night Walk in Richmond, VA for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  For me, it's not only about raising awareness, but taking action.  So decide what you'll do this year to honor your loved one and the struggle they went through.  Raise money, walk a 5K, give them a hug.  Every little bit helps!  

     Cancer people always remember the day their entire world changed. Some ask why, I was more like "WTF, are you kidding me?" I had a cough. A cough that was piercing to everyone's ears and it hurt! Kirk said I had TB, some thought I had whooping cough and there was even a kennel cough thrown in there. At first, my doctor just thought it was allergies and asthma. After 2 weeks, it wasn't any better--maybe I had bronchitis? He listened to my chest and determined that I was wheezing and my lungs did sound congested. 3 weeks later, my cough was even worse. I was throwing up all the time when I coughed and I couldn't catch my breath--it was terrible! Being at my wits end, I went back to the doctor and he ordered a chest x-ray, maybe I had pneumonia (?), but it didn't sound like it. The scan was done right before July 4th weekend, and my doc wouldn't be back in for about week. No big deal, I had dealt with it for this long what's a few more days?!

     I will tell you this, no one will ever tell you that you have cancer over the phone. When I was told I needed to come into the office and whenever I got there would be fine, I knew something was definitely wrong. I've never had a shorter wait to get into see my doctor!! And then he dropped the bomb of my life.."You see this?" as he pointed to a mass that was sitting on my bronchial tubes shown on the x-ray, "This is a problem." He handed me a piece of paper with 2 names on it, one was a thoracic surgeon, the other an oncologist. I kind of stared at him, " Do I have cancer?" He hadn't exactly said it quite yet. "Yes, but you are going to be fine. I promise."
I walked out of his office in a daze, got to my car and called my mom, who was suffering with Stage IV breast cancer. "Mom, I have cancer." Typical of my mom, "No, you don't. Missy, quit screwing with me." --still makes me laugh that I can hear her saying it now:) Side bar: I was strangely obsessed with calling my mom and saying things to get a rise out of her i.e. I was pregnant, had eloped, gotten my nose pierced, gotten a tattoo, etc.

     I digress...My oncologist appointment was first and my dear friend Branch went with me. She was my scribe. She knew I would be too wound up to take in everything that was being said--she was 100% correct. My oncologist said I either had lymphoma or something else with an 'oma', but I had a very high rate of success for remission. Next up, thoracic surgeon. He took one look at my xrays and said I had Hodgkin's Disease--he didn't know which one, but that's what I had. Now, I have always been a fly by the seat of my pants kind of person, but this was a lilttle ridiculous. In a one week span, I had been diagnosed with cancer, was supposed to have a major surgery (they were deflating one of my lungs to get to the "oma" which was near my heart, inserting my port and inserting this kick ass pain killer contraption into me) and I had 2nd row tickets to a Yankees-Rays game in Tampa behind the Yanks on-deck-circle!!. After a little haggling, I was cleared to go to my game (yes, my beloved Yanks won!) and would have the surgery the day after I got back. I won't even go into my hospital stay---What a hot mess!!

     I didn't tell a lot of people my diagnosis. My tight circle of friends knew and my family. I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for me or say something awkward because truly, what do you say in the situation--sorry you have a sickness where you are going to lose all your hair and energy, feel like shit for awhile and be in a situation for the better part of a year that changes everything in your life? They don't make a Hallmark card for it, I looked:) I had cancer and I wasn't going to die. Just needed some time to get through my issues and deal with myself. For the next 6 months, I went to chemo every two weeks, and then had radiation for 17 sessions. I would take chemo every day to not have radiation--it is the worst!!

     October 2012, I was finally put in remission and my chemo port was removed. This little cancer spell was behind me.

     I was very lucky, my cancer was caught in the early stages and I had an awesome team of doctors--some are not that lucky, which is why I now raise money for LLS! They help people who are not Missy Bass. Those who don't have insurance and live in the metropolis of Richmond where cancer centers are cutting edge. Those who don't have friends and family who will take them to all their doctors appointment while they are going through treatment. It's these people that I want to help and with you, it's possible:)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

3 Questions When Shopping for a Mortgage

     Purchasing a home loan is a big deal.  As with any purchase, shopping around and doing a little research is what’s going to get you the better price and the better quality product.  However, according to, “Almost half of consumers seeking a loan to purchase a home do not shop lenders.” When shopping for a home, there isn’t a single buyer that would say “Any old two bedroom will do!”  So why the lack of interest when deciding on where your money will be going for the next 30 years?  While mortgages can seem intimidating, ignorance is not bliss in this particular case.  Here are some questions to ask while seeking the best Mortgage product for you.

What’s the difference between fixed and adjustable rates?
     Generally speaking, a fixed-rate mortgage locks you into one rate over the life of the loan while an adjustable rate mortgage fluctuates based on market interest rates chosen by the bank (duh!).  However, for adjustable rate mortgages, there is typically an introductory period ranging from one to ten years where your interest rate will hold steady.  In the current Richmond market with interest rates still so low, a fixed rate mortgage is ideal.  But for first time home buyers who generally move before the life of their mortgage is over, an adjustable rate mortgage may be a good option— especially if they have a lengthier introductory period.

What are Points?
     Points are upfront fees that a homebuyer can purchase to lower their interest rates.  It is generally recommended if you are planning on staying in that home for a long period of time.   You can also get negative points, which means upfront fees are reduced in exchange for a higher interest rate.  It’s important to consider your long-term costs when determining which way to go.

Do I qualify for any special programs?
VA Loans— For active military or veterans, VA Loans offer little or no down payments and protection if you are no longer able to make monthly payments

FHA Loans— Also a product offering low down payments, but open to the public.  Very attractive for first-time buyers, offering a more forgiving credit score standard than traditional loans.

USDA loans— For purchasers in rural areas, USDA loans offer a little or no down payment mortgages, help with closing costs, as well as assistance if you fall behind on payments.

HUD— There are lots of options for first time home buyers, visit for assistance programs in Virginia.

     Ultimately, shopping around will help you to get a cheaper loan, which in turn will build equity faster! Get the mortgage that’s right for you and talk to a mortgage professional today!