Monthly Archives: October 2015

10 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Mortgage Lender


choosing a mortgage lenderThe first step in searching for a home is to choose a mortgage lender to set your home search budget. In a world of advertisements, both online and off, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by options. Mortgage lender ads are everywhere! It’s also invaluable to know yourself, because the mortgage lender that’s right for one person, or couple, may not be right for another. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How much do you know about mortgages? Are you a first-time home buyer or a seasoned real estate (or financial) professional? Or a household that has bought and sold many homes?
  2. Do you need someone to educate you about your loan options (i.e. the pros and cons of fixed rate vs. adjustable mortgages)?
  3. Are you more comfortable meeting with someone face-to-face or are your comfortable with phone and online interactions?
  4. Who do I know—and trust—to refer their mortgage lender to me? Or who can I talk to about a lender they would not recommend?
  5. Which lender offers the best customer service? What are their response times?

Once you know your preferred mode of communication (face-to-face vs. virtual), and the amount of assistance you need navigating through the home buying process, now it’s time to narrow your options. Let’s make one thing clear: though you do need to apply to get the exact mortgage rate, you do not need to apply to get possible mortgage rates and a list of fees. Make a list of possible mortgage lender possibilities and screen them by asking these questions:

  1. What are your current mortgage rates (be aware that mortgage rates, even fixed rates, do change over a period of time and that buyers get different rates based on their credit)?
  2. Can you get me a complete (COMPLETET) list of fees?
  3. What kind of loan is the best option for me? (If you are interested in a loan specifically for veterans or think that a HUD loan is the best option, be aware that not all lenders can assist you.)
  4. What kind of documents do you need to approve my loan (if I decide to proceed with you)?
  5. How long does the home sale process take? What can I do to expedite the process?

Have any questions? Contact your local real estate agent for a list of local mortgage lenders that their past clients have worked with. Once you’ve selected a mortgage lender, and have selected a home purchase price that fits your budget, your real estate agent can guide you through the rest of the process: finding the right home that fits your approved budget.

What is earnest money?


earnest moneyIn a seller’s market, every buyer is looking for an edge—a way to show the sellers you’re serious about the property. For some properties, that edge comes in a serious purchase price or in another way: earnest money.

Earnest money is a deposit included with your offer that shows you’re serious—earnest—about purchasing a property. The amount of earnest money is applied to the purchase price at sale. For example, if you include an earnest money amount of $5,000 in your offer of $115,000, you will pay $110,000 at closing.

To determine the amount of earnest money you should include, ask your real estate agent for their recommendation. The amount of earnest money varies nationally, and even among communities and counties in Wisconsin.

If the purchase falls through due to contingencies included in your offer, such as an issue found in the home inspection report, the buyer should receive the earnest money in full. If the buyer defaults on the sale, an agreement can be made to compensate the buyer while still giving the buyer a partial refund.

So why should you include earnest money with your offer? Earnest money is the edge that sets your offer apart, and shows your offer is genuine and committed. Including earnest money up front shows the seller you are making a down payment not only on a property, but also in the future.

Have any more questions about earnest money? Ask us your questions on our Facebook page, or via email. We’d be glad to answer your questions about earnest money, and help you navigate through your home sale.