Get Ready to Set Your 2021 Finance Goals

No matter what your current situation looks like, there are often opportunities to improve your financial strength and build wealth — especially when it comes to homeownership.

So sit back and think: What financial goals do you want to achieve? Whether you’d like to save money, stop paying rent, pay off some debts or improve your credit score, 2021 is the perfect year to do it.

Let’s take a look at four ways you could start to improve your financial situation:

Boost your savings. Remote work arrangements and cutbacks on entertainment and travel have made it easier for many households to save. Now may be a good time to take stock of your savings efforts and start stowing more away in a high-interest account — especially if you want to buy a home. Be sure to consult your financial adviser.

Buy a house. If you’re a renter, you’ve probably dealt with rising rent prices for some time. This may be the year to make a change. With current mortgage rates, you may be able to afford more than you think (or maybe even get a monthly mortgage payment lower than your rent).

Refinance your home. Those low interest rates can help homeowners, too. Refinancing your mortgage could lead to a lower rate, meaning a reduced monthly payment and lower costs in the long run.

Improve your space. You can also leverage the home equity you’ve built up via a home equity loan or line of credit (HELOC) or a cash-out refinance. Then, use that money to renovate your house and improve its value. Enjoy the upgrades now, and reap the profits once you’re ready to sell.

Get in touch today to discuss your 2021 home finance goals.

Using Gift Money Toward a Down Payment

Down payments can be a big hurdle when buying a home. In fact, nearly a third of first-time buyers received money from friends or relatives to source their down payment.

Are you considering a similar move? If so, proceed with caution. Though getting gift money is quite common, it also comes with some unique challenges.

Here’s what you should do to make sure your down payment gift goes off without a hitch:

  1. Know the rules and regulations around your loan. Different mortgage products have different rules for gift money. The allowed amount may be limited, or the funds may need to be deposited in a certain time frame in order to qualify. We can discuss these specifics together.

  2. Make it clear that you’re not expected to repay the money. If you’re taking on more debt, it will impact your home loan finances. To prove that it’s a gift instead of a loan, you’ll need to ask whoever is giving you the money to write a gift letter, asserting that it does not need to be repaid.

  3. Keep it in your account for a few months beforehand. Ideally, you should get the gift money a few months before you apply for your mortgage. Anything beyond 60 days out should work, and you’ll avoid an unusual deposit during the loan process.

  4. Understand the tax rules around gift money. You won’t have to pay taxes on the money, but depending on how much you’re given, the gift-giver might have to. Make sure they’re aware of these implications before moving forward.

If you’re one of the many buyers considering using gift money for your down payment, reach out today so we can walk through the process.

Approved Mortgage Donates Christmas Day Meals to Local Hospital Staff

Local mortgage companies partner to provide 250 meals to the Franciscan Health COVID staff. Each meal was individually prepared and packaged by the Market District in Carmel, Indiana before being delivered directly to the hospital.

Indianapolis, IN, December 29, 2020 –(PR.com)– The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact both local and global communities while healthcare workers and first responders continue to provide care to those in need. In addition to serving individuals impacted by COVID-19, these men and women are essential to the overall health of their communities.

Approved Mortgage and Bailey & Wood Mortgage Lender partnered to purchase Christmas Day meals from a local grocer and restaurant that fed 250 hardworking inpatient staff members at a local hospital.

“It has always been part of our mission to have an impact on our local communities,” said Jim Landwerlen, President of Approved Mortgage. “We are always looking for ways to extend our corporate ministries to help serve those in need.”

The 250 meals from the mortgage companies were delivered to the Franciscan Health COVID staff. Each meal was individually prepared and packaged by the Market District in Carmel, Indiana before being delivered directly to the hospital.

“We thought this would be another opportunity for us to show our support and appreciation for the local heroes risking their lives for the health and safety of others,” said Kevin Walters, Senior Branch Manager of Approved Mortgage.

This is not the first time Approved Mortgage has donated meals to the essential front line healthcare workers at a local health system. The largest and oldest locally owned mortgage banker in Central Indiana worked with another local hospital and restaurant to provide meals to one hundred workers. Additionally, the company recently participated in a community event that provided free rounds of golf to local heroes and hosted a blood drive where enough blood was donated to save up to 45 lives.

About Approved Mortgage
Approved Mortgage is the largest and oldest locally owned mortgage banker in Central Indiana with over 6.5 billion funded for Indiana families.   As an industry leader for over 25 years, Approved Mortgage is recognized by Zillow® as a 5-star lender, rated a Top 20 Broker by Expertise®, and ranked by Entreprenuer.com® as one of the top 25 Best Small-Company Cultures. Approved Mortgage is a direct lender with in-house underwriting that allows for same day approvals.  We provide a vast array of residential mortgage loans that has served thousands of families making their dream of home ownership a reality. Our residential product line includes conventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, reverse mortgages and portfolio loans for purchase, refinance, and construction transactions. We also offer a variety of commercial real estate loans for multifamily, office, retail, warehouse/flex space, as well as business loans including SBA, lines of credit, credit card merchant services accounts, and factoring.  We look forward to assisting you with your mortgage loan needs by delivering just the right product you need and with the service you deserve. Approved Mortgage has served thousands of satisfied clients and is an A+ accredited member of the Better Business Bureau.

4 Ways to Accomplish Your Money Goals

Whether you’re planning to buy a new home, refinance your existing mortgage or stow away extra cash for retirement, having good financial habits in place can help.

Those habits should include managing your bills, budgeting, keeping an eye on your credit score and more.

Are you looking to achieve some financial goals or get better at handling your money? These four tips could help you get there.

  • Automate your savings. You can set up savings deposits on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. You might even be able to get a small portion of each paycheck deposited into your account automatically.

  • Pay all of your bills on time. If you can automate your bill payments too, do that. If not, you can set up reminders before each bill’s due date. Late payments could hurt your credit score considerably.

  • Download a budgeting app. There are a variety of finance apps, and they can help you keep your spending and saving on track. Some even come with free credit monitoring alerts.

  • Look for small ways to save. There are so many methods for saving. Maybe you’ll find success with coupons, cooking at home instead of eating out or turning off the lights and unplugging devices when they’re not in use. You’d be surprised how little changes can add up.

Improving your finances doesn’t have to be complicated. If you make small adjustments to your spending and saving habits now, you could reap the benefits for the long haul.

And if you have questions about home financing, be sure to reach out.

How to Build More Equity in Your Home

Home equity is the stake in your home you actually own. The more equity you have, the more you stand to gain when it’s time to sell later on.

You can also tap home equity via loans or lines of credit when you need to pay for home improvements, medical bills, college tuition or any other costs that you might be dealing with.

Do you want help increasing the equity you have in your home? Here are five simple ways to do it:

  • Choose your neighborhood carefully. Buy a house in an area where home values are on the rise. When the value of your house increases, so does your equity.

  • Make a bigger down payment. Down payments go straight toward your home’s price. That means that the larger your down payment is, the more equity you’ll have from the start.

  • Pay down your mortgage. The lower your home loan balance goes, the larger your share in the home gets. Consider putting windfalls (like tax refunds) toward your loan each year.

  • Make smart upgrades. Remodeling your home can increase your property value, so choose your home improvement projects wisely. But remember that, while your equity will rise, so could your home insurance costs.

  • Refinance to a shorter loan term. Going from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year loan could allow you to pay off your mortgage — and build equity — faster.

Want to talk more about equity and the financial options it affords you? Get in touch today.

4 Scenarios for Adjustable-Rate Loans

A 30-year, fixed-rate home loan isn’t right for everyone. Depending on your plans, it might actually cost you more in the long run.

Though they’re less common, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) are a better fit for many homebuyers. They may offer a more affordable monthly payment and cost less in interest throughout the life of the loan.

Are you thinking of buying a home or refinancing your current one? Here are some scenarios in which you might want to consider an adjustable-rate loan:

  1. You only plan to live there in the short term. ARMs are a great option if you only plan to be in the house for a few years. They usually come with lower rates than long-term, fixed-rate loans for the first five, seven or even 10 years.

  2. You expect to make more money down the line. These loans tend to come with low rates upfront. Then, after a few years, your rate can change — which means a possible increase. If you know you’ll have the income to support a higher payment down the road, then an ARM might work for you.

  3. You’re comfortable with refinancing in a few years. Another option would be to refinance to a fixed-rate loan during the initial period of your ARM. It would be similar to going through the home loan application process again, but you could end up with a new low rate for the long haul.

  4. You plan to pay off your loan early. If you’re able to pay off the loan before your rate can rise, you may save overall. Some loans do carry prepayment penalties, but you’ll learn if your loan is one of them early in the process.

ARMs are a bit more complex than fixed-rate mortgages, so make sure to reach out for more personalized guidance.

What You Should Know About Rate Locks

Mortgage rates are near all-time lows right now, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stay that way forever.

That’s where a rate lock can come in. Rate locks guarantee you a certain mortgage rate for an extended period, protecting you from the possibility of rising interest rates while you complete the homebuying process.

Are you shopping for a home? Here’s what you need to know about mortgage rate locks:

Q: What is a rate lock?
A: A rate lock guarantees your initially quoted mortgage rate for an extended period of time. Your rate can’t rise at any point during your lock period (even if market rates rise), giving you plenty of time to close the loan.

Q: How long does it last?
A: The length of a rate lock depends, though it’s usually 30, 60 or 90 days. In some cases, you may be able to pay for a longer lock period if you need more time.

Q: Why would you want to lock your rate?
A: Rate locks are smart if interest rates are very low or fluctuating. They’re also a good move if you have a unique situation — like being self-employed — and it could take a bit longer to close your loan.

Q: Are there any risks?
A: In the event market rates drop, there’s a chance your locked-in rate could be higher than what newer applicants are being quoted. You can pay for a “float down” option when you lock, which essentially means you’d get the lower market rate if they do fall.

Do you have more questions about rate locks? Are you ready to sort out your home financing? Get in touch so we can discuss your options.

Add a Touch of Warmth to Your Home

As the days get shorter and temperatures begin to drop, indoor living becomes the norm. But just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your home’s interior has to be chilly, too!

With a little imagination — and redecoration — you can create a cozier living space and enjoy a warmer winter hibernation.

Here are four ways you can use decor to add warmth to your home:

1. Use area rugs to divide larger spaces.
Airy, open rooms with sparse furniture arrangements can often feel cold and lonely. By simply adding an area rug or two, you can break these spaces into smaller, more well-defined living areas. A corner area rug could offset a small office area, while a larger rug could tie together an informal dining area.

2. Arrange furniture to create a sense of intimacy.
Always choose and arrange furniture with the purpose of your room in mind. If your furniture is spaced too far apart, it will make conversations awkward and strained. And you wouldn’t want the furniture in your reading nook to be uncomfortable.

3. Take advantage of natural materials.
If your home boasts natural woods or exposed brick, these are elements that can be tastefully incorporated into your design plan. Imagine how a natural wooden coffee table could be used to complement vaulted ceilings with exposed wood beams.

4. Get creative with color combinations.
A touch of color can immediately impact the perception of a room. If you’re looking for a warm, autumnal feel, go with a variety of rich red and orange tones. Use throw pillows, blankets and other textured accents to make the room pop. A basket full of quilts can be both convenient and aesthetically pleasing.

Want to make a more substantial change to your home, such as installing a brand-new fireplace? Reach out to discuss your financing options.

Get Your House-Hunting Checklist

There’s a lot to consider when you’re searching for a home. You have to ask important questions: Which features are must-haves and which ones are simply desirable? How far are you willing to commute to work, grocery stores and other frequently visited places?

Some of the decisions you have to make during your home search are a little bit more fun, like which architectural styles you prefer and what fixtures and finishes you’d like to have. And it’s important to note these details.

So once you’re preapproved for a mortgage, start your search off on the right foot with a house-hunting checklist. Bring it with you while touring homes, checking things off and taking notes so you can more easily compare each option.

Get the checklist below to make your next home search go smoothly.

Click here to get your checklist.

Worry Less With This First-Timer Guide

You’re thinking of buying your first home — a place to call your own. But, like many, you don’t even know where to begin. The process of buying a home seems so complicated and expensive.

https://content.outboundengine.com/ebooks/First-Time+Homebuyers+Guide+2019.pdf

Don’t worry! We can walk through the process together, from getting your financing set up to moving in after the closing. This first-time buyers’ guide was written just for you, to help simplify one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in life.

Click the image to download the guide.

If you’d like to learn more about the homebuying process, or if you have any questions while reading the guide, please get in touch.