Eryn

First 2022 Michigan Mortgage Service Scholarship Winner Announced

In conjunction with our #MMGivesBack and Service Rewards programs, we’ve launched the Michigan Mortgage Service Scholarship in hopes of recognizing High School Seniors with dreams of pursuing a career in service.

Careers Include:

  • Military
  • Teachers & Educators
  • Government & Politics
  • Police
  • Firefighters
  • First Responders
  • Doctors & Nurses

We received dozens of applicants and examined each one closely. We learned about their goals and aspirations, the community service they completed and impacts they made in West Michigan and how they plan to give back to those that need it most.

We assembled a Scholarship Committee to select our 2022 winners. Two West Michigan graduates will receive $1,000 to further their education.

ErynAfter much consideration, Michigan Mortgage is pleased to announce Eryn Bouwhuis, a 2022 Spring Lake High School Graduate, as a winner of this year’s Michigan Mortgage Service Scholarship.

She said the following in her application.

“The word ‘service’ brings two other words to my mind which are: selflessness and sacrifice. The first word, selflessness, goes with the idea that in order to perform service you have to put other people’s needs first before yours. Service is the act of putting others in front of yourself. The second word, sacrifice, goes with the idea that service is the act of giving up one’s comfort for the benefit and needs of someone else. Service is done without any complaints, and it is done for the welfare of others. Service brings joy and happiness to others. I believe that service can truly change the lives of others, both the giver and the receiver. Even the smallest acts of service can go a long way. I believe that it is your duty to perform many acts of service throughout your whole lifetime.”

“I hope to work at a local hospital or somewhere close in order to give back to my local community of West Michigan. I believe that working as a nurse will serve as a way to give back to those in need. Another way I hope to impact our local community is by continuing to volunteer at local food pantries, food trucks, and blood drives. I have participated in some volunteer activities through my years on student council that I hope to continue with as I get older.”

Eryn plans to attend the University of South Carolina and major in Nursing. She may further my education by becoming a Nurse Practitioner or Physician’s Assistant.

“This scholarship will help alleviate some stress that comes with paying for college,” she said. With less stress, I will be able to concentrate fully on my studies.”

Congratulations, Eryn! You are so deserving of this recognition.

Local Lender

5 Reasons to Choose a Local Mortgage Lender

Buying a home might be the single biggest purchase you make in your life. You want it to go right. That is why the mortgage lender you choose is critical to making sure your homeownership dreams come true and the experience is hassle-free.

Whether you are a first-time buyer needing assistance through the lending process or you are an existing homeowner seeking to refinance or purchase a vacation home, it pays to go with a local lender as opposed to a big-name national bank or brand.

Local LenderHere are 5 reasons to choose a local mortgage lender like Michigan Mortgage.

1. Personalized Service
A local mortgage lender gives you the chance to to work face-to-face with an expert, if need be. The growth of digital mortgages, like our Pro SNAP app, has eliminated the need for as much face-to-face meeting in the past, but as a home buyer it can be reassuring to know that your loan officer is right around the corner as opposed to across the country or overseas.

A local lender gets to know you. Your messages won’t sit in a voicemail box unanswered for weeks on end. With Michigan Mortgage, you’ll get a cell number for your loan officer and can call or text them at a moment’s notice to get your questions answered.

2. Local Expertise
Another advantage of local lenders is their familiarity with local market conditions. We know our local neighborhoods, so we know what’s going, what the trends are, and we use that knowledge when helping buyers obtain mortgages.

For example, a national lender with no roots in the local community may be reluctant to approve a mortgage for an atypical property, such as an original farmhouse on acreage that’s now covered by a subdivision. A local lender like Michigan Mortgage will know the history of the area and the changing demographics and economic trends and may be more comfortable underwriting such a loan.

Local lenders also have their finger on the pulse of the local or regional economy, and have a better sense of the lending risks in the area. What looks to a big lender like a dilapidated section of town might actually be an up-and-coming area where properties re increasing in value. Local lenders will know this.

Local lenders may also be more attractive to some home sellers and real estate agents who want an efficient and timely closing. Reputation matters. In situations where several offers are on the table, having a local, trusted lender could be the difference between closing or not closing.

3. Realtor Relationships
Local lenders invest a lot of time and effort building relationships with local Realtors. Realtors and lenders are the yin and yang of real estate. Michigan Mortgage loan officers are on a first-name basis with most of the real estate agents in their local areas.

Also, with everyone on your team – the Realtor, the lender, you– working in proximity, a closing can happen quickly and without hassle. The final stage of home buying is sometimes the most stressful. Having a unified team that is familiar and comfortable with each other can make the process quick and painless.

4. Varied and Specialized Products
Local lenders have a better understanding of property values and the local economy. When you work with Michigan Mortgage, you’re paired with a licensed loan officer and team of professionals who are experts in your region. Our loan officers help you choose the right type of loan for your circumstance and we keep you updated along the way. We have in-house tools and resources to expedite a loan, ensuring everything is taken care of in a timely manner.

Local lenders are where you’ll find the specialized loans the big lenders won’t bother with. Maybe you want an adjustable-rate mortgage with a 15-year lock? Or you want to buy a vacation property that lacks a furnace? Or you want to buy or refinance a home for less than $100,000, an amount too small to be of interest most lenders? Or you want a jumbo loan?

Local lenders are have more flexibility. Big banks need process large numbers of loan applications. To do that, they have rigid guidelines about who they will and won’t lend to. Big banks are more about volume than customer service.

At Michigan Mortgage, we have been Michigan’s leading MSHDA first-time buyer lender for 6 straight years. We are also a recognized USDA rural development leader.

5. Reliable, Responsive & Flexible
Local lenders are better at closing loans on a timely basis. If the closing of a loan has to be extended by a week, local lenders are more flexible than big banks who have corporate mandates to crank out the volume.

Local lenders, along with local real estate agents, have an incentive to provide you with excellent service because they want you to be a referral source for future business. They stake their reputation on each and every customer.

With a local lenders, you are much closer to the decision makers with the authority to approve your mortgage. You aren’t dealing with a corporate bureaucracy.

Michigan Mortgage loan officers are more likely to get personally involved in qualifying you for a mortgage, as opposed to big banks. Often, it’s a matter of the getting to know you. Perhaps you are self-employed with irregular income. Or you have poor credit due to a financial crisis, but have good income and low debt.

Michigan Mortgage loan officers are better suited to be responsible and flexible for borrowers like these.

At Michigan Mortgage, you will never be just a name or number on a loan application. We manage every step of the mortgage process, from application to underwriting to closing, to make the process easy. We have been financing the American homeownership dream for nearly three decades. We can do the same for you.

Everything You Need to Know About MSHDA

Did you know that Michigan Mortgage was named the #1 MSHDA Lender in 2021?

In fact, our very own Dave Lehner was named the #1 MSHDA Loan Officer in West Michigan in 2021!

There are many MSHDA misconceptions in our marketplace – it’s a hard program to master. But our knowledge and expertise has set us apart from our competition.

Dave and Rob sat down with Alex Craig of the Dolinski Group to talk all things MSHDA and share their experiences over the past 25 years.

If you have questions about MSHDA, don’t hesitate to reach out! We’re here to help in any way we can.

co-borrower

Benefits of Having a Co-Borrower

It’s no secret – home prices in Michigan are on the rise. If you’re in the market for a new home and are wondering whether or not you can afford a home on your own, bringing on a co-borrower may be a possibility.

You may not need a co-borrower to qualify, but there are benefits to having one.

co-borrowerYou can enter the market sooner. In today’s market, it’s all about speed and strength. Having a co-borrower added to your mortgage application can increase your buying power and help you enter the competitive market with your best foot forward.

You can afford a bigger home. If you add a co-borrower to your mortgage application, it’s likely that you’ll be able to afford a larger home at a larger price point. Your Loan Officer will combine your income (if the co-borrower credit qualifies) to determine how much you can spend on a new home.

You’ll have more money for a down payment. Much like income, as stated above, if a co-borrower is added to your mortgage application, their assets are included in financing calculations. Between the two of you, you may have more money saved for a down payment.

Like all things, there are positives and negatives to adding a co-borrower to your mortgage application.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Your co-borrower must credit qualify. As mentioned earlier, co-borrower must credit qualify to be included on your mortgage application. We will verify your co-borrower’s income and credit before proceeding. We recommend that you have these conversations with your co-borrower before application is taken.

You are both liable for the loan. Before you add a co-borrower to your mortgage application, please make sure you’re comfortable with the long-term consequences. If a payment is missed or the home is entered into foreclosure, you’re both liable and your credit scores will be impacted.

Trust is key.

If you’re interested in purchasing a new home, we recommend that you sit down with an experienced Loan Officer to better understand your options. We’re here to help any way we can!

Realtor

How to Find the Right Realtor to Fit Your Needs

Choosing the right realtor can make your home-buying or home-selling process much less stressful. Here’s how to find the right Realtor for your needs.

RealtorBuying or selling a home is a big decision, one of the most financially impactful you’ll ever make. A little expert guidance would be very helpful – but how can you find an expert you can trust? One who’s both knowledgeable and ready to look out for your best interests? It’s all down to choosing the right realtor.

That may seem easier said than done. In most places, you can choose between several or even dozens of real estate professionals. How can you find one that works for you? That’s what we’ll answer in this article.

Realtor, Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Broker, or …

First, let’s clear up some confusion around who’s who in the real estate industry. According to Realtor.com:

  • “A realtor is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of REALTORS®.
  • real estate broker runs an agency and has agents working under them. The broker must take additional courses and pay additional fees to maintain their state-issued broker license.
  • real estate agent is a state-licensed salesperson selling on behalf of the broker. Some states mandate that all real estate agents take additional coursework and pass another test to become associate brokers, who sell under a managing broker.”

It’s also good to know that there are usually two real estate agents involved in each transaction: a listing agent (who lists the house on behalf of the seller and represents them) and a buyer’s agent (who represents the buyer). While some states allow dual agency (one real estate agent representing both parties), it’s usually a good idea to have one person absolutely dedicated to your interests.

Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling, it’s important to find the right realtor for your unique situation. How exactly should you do that?

How to Choose the Right Realtor

First, do your own investigation. Learn about the real estate market where you want to live. Find out about current home sizes and prices. If you haven’t already, talk with a loan officer about your mortgage options and get a preapproval when you’re sure you’re ready to buy.

Next, research multiple realtors. You can start with referrals from friends or family or look online. Find out which ones have good reputations for communication, honesty, efficiency, and reliability. This person is going to act as your agent, so make sure they’re the kind of person you feel comfortable doing business with.

Create a list of at least three realtors and interview them. During the interview, try to determine their:

  • Local knowledge. Deep knowledge of the real estate market is a given, but a good realtor will have more than that. It takes more than a certain monthly payment and a certain number of square feet to love a house; your realtor should also know what neighborhoods will mesh with your goals and personality – whether you’re looking for a quiet and upscale setting, a family-friendly area with great schools, or so on.
  • Communication and people skills. How does the realtor handle negotiation? Are you comfortable talking with them? Are they happy to answer questions? Do they reply promptly to phone calls, texts, or emails?
  • Experience. How long has the realtor been in the business? How long have they been in the area? If you’re selling your house, ask about how many homes they’ve sold in the past year, their selling percentages, and how they plan to market your home to buyers.
  • Specialty. Does the realtor work mostly with buyers or sellers? If they focus more on one than the other, you might want to find someone with more expertise in your field. Also, what kind of properties do they mostly handle – commercial, residential raw land, special use? Again, if they focus on something other than residential, you might want to look elsewhere.

Finally, don’t forget to read any agreements or contracts between you and your realtor carefully. Make sure you understand everything and don’t hesitate to ask questions. A good realtor will be happy to explain things; a bad one will rush you into signing.

Florida Real Estate

Licensed to Serve Your Florida Real Estate Needs

Michigan Mortgage has served the lakeshore for more than 25 years. It’s been a wild ride and we have no intentions of getting off anytime soon.

We have, however, expanded our reach. We are now licensed in Florida!

“Many of our clients are buying second homes and investment properties in Florida,” Rob Garrison said. “I thought it would be helpful for me to be able to serve them with the care they deserve and are accustomed to.”

Rob and his team spent countless hours learning about Florida’s Real Estate Market and understanding the laws and regulations that make it unique.

As Licensed Loan Officers in Florida, we can do purchases and refinances on primary residents, second homes, and investment properties up to four units.

Florida Real EstateWe can finance condominiums, single family homes and modular homes.

And we promise to provide the exceptional customer service you’re used to.

“The entire process will be completed in our Michigan offices,” Rob said. “Clients will have direct access to me and our amazing team.”

Why Florida?

Because the market is HOT.

“Many people are moving to Florida as COVID-19 has allowed more folks to work remotely,” Rob said. “And like more of the country, inventory is low and appreciation has been high in the last 12 months.”

During the cold winter months here in Michigan, a little sunshine in the Sunshine State sounds magical!

If you have questions about purchasing a new property or refinancing your current mortgage in Florida, give us a call! We’re happy to help in any way we can.

Success Story: Alex & Mista

When you buy a new home, you experience a whirlwind of emotions. When you buy a home during a national pandemic and an incredibly competitive market, that whirlwind becomes a roller coaster ride you can’t wait to get off of.

Alex and Mista know that firsthand.

Alex & Mista“We were so excited to start looking for homes,” Mista said. “I have always loved looking inside houses and envisioning the potential each home has or what I would do to make it my own!”

“Since we bought during a difficult market, I honestly didn’t expect the process to be as hard at first. We had a couple of homes we put offers on that got outbid. I didn’t expect the roller coaster of emotions that came with it. But once we found “the one” everything kept getting better and went so smoothly!”

Amy Hendrickson and her team at our Holland office exceeded all expectations.

“I heard about Michigan Mortgage from my Realtor, Aubree DeVisser,” Mista said. “I am a small business owner myself so loved the idea of going with someone who was local! Now I recommend Michigan Mortgage to anyone I know looking to buy.”

“When we put an offer in on our house, we were in the top five,” she said. “But what made our offer stick out even more, was the fact that we were using Amy with Michigan Mortgage.”

“The listing agent worked with Amy and her team in the past and knew that the transaction would go smoothly if they accepted our offer, because we were using Amy as our lender. So not only did Amy and her team help all of this go smoothly by great communication with not only us, both realtors, and our insurance agent, but she clearly has been great to work with by so many and has made an impact on not only her clients, but the other people in the field as well.”

Alex and Mista had nothing but great things to say about Amy and her team. Their positive feedback means so much to our team!

“Amy and her team were all very helpful,” she said. “I loved how they would send us what our monthly payment would be based on the house, area and our down payment. They really helped us decide what we could afford to put down and feel comfortable with.”

“They had great communication and were quick to respond. Which is important when there are deadlines and houses come and go as fast as they do.”

Alex and Mista are so excited to make their new home their own. They’ve started renovating and decorating and can’t wait to do more!

We can’t thank you enough for trusting Michigan Mortgage to guide you home.

Job Change

Can I change jobs while buying a house?

After you’re pre-approved for a mortgage loan, any drastic changes to your credit score, debt and income can quickly derail the process.

When possible, we suggest our buyers avoid job changes, making big purchases and opening new lines of credit until after their loan closes.

If you’re interested in buying a new home or refinancing your current mortgage – and you’re contemplating a career change – here are a few things you should know.

Job ChangeBefore Applying for a Mortgage

Sometimes, job changes are unavoidable. If you’re on the hunt for a new job, for one reason or another, we recommend that you get settled before applying for a mortgage.

You’ll be asked to submit pay stubs for approval, so it’s best to wait 30 days before reaching out to a lender about financing. Most jobs changes should not impact your mortgage application if you haven’t applied for a mortgage yet.

According to industry experts, “You still need income that is reliable, stable and likely to continue in the future. And your new job should be an upward – or at least lateral – move within the same industry. As long as those criteria are met, changing jobs before you buy a house shouldn’t be a problem.”

While You’re in Process

When you apply for a mortgage, you’re approved based on the information you submit. If anything changes throughout the process – your income, debts, assets – please let your Loan Officer know immediately.

When you change jobs applying for a loan, we will have to start over again at the beginning. New documentation will need to be collected and your debt-to-income will need to be recalculated.

Best case scenario, you’re approved based on your new job after a short delay.

Worst case scenario, you’re denied based on your rate of pay or pay structure.

After the Loan Closes

After your loan closes, and you have the keys for your new home in hand, you’re free to change jobs. We will not reopen your loan or verify your income unless you reach out about refinancing in the future.

Your job change may impact your ability to refinance at a later date, but we can tackle that when the time is right.

Other Factors to Consider

Promotions: If you receive a promotion from your current company while in process, no need to worry! If your salaried or hourly rate-of-pay is increasing, and your pay structure is not changing, a promotion will likely increase your buying power.

Changes in Pay Structure: Commissioned employees may have the ability to earn more, but this pay structure can also complicate the mortgage process. Often times, commission pay cannot be counted as income unless it has been received for 12-24 months. The same is true for bonuses received.

If you have additional questions about your employment status and its impact on the mortgage process, give us a call. We’re happy to help in any way we can!

A Thank You Letter

It’s been a wild ride, but one Rob Garrison and Dave Lehner will remember forever.

As we close out their 25th year in business, they wanted to take a few moments to say, “thank you!” to the many people that made their journey remarkable.

To Our Employees

Rob: When we started this 25 years ago, rates were 10 percent, applications were hand-written and we wore pagers! Some of you guys were here in those early, early days. To you I say thank you for hanging in there when we had no clue what we were doing. Thank you for your loyalty, patience, and confidence that we were on to something good. For the rest of you, thank you for committing your time and talents to help drive us into the future.

Dave: I would like to thank all our current and past employees from day one until now for trusting in us and believing in our vision of this company. Without your hard work and dedication, we would not be where we are at today. There has been a crazy ride over the years, a lot of ups and downs, smiles and tears but our staff is the best and has weathered thru all of it.

To Our Business Partners

Rob: We talk often about relationships and supporting local businesses. We are so grateful for those businesses, Realtors, title companies and appraisers that have supported us over the years and have become not only partners, but friends.

Dave: Twenty-five years ago, I had no idea the relationships I would form and all of the great people that would come into my life from this business. I have so many stories and friends from all involved: realtors, appraisers, inspectors, title companies, insurance people, clients, employees and so many more.

To the Community

Rob: One of our Core Values is Serving Hearts. Included in that mix is always giving back to our community. We love our schools, places of worship, restaurants, and places of recreation. For everything they give us, we are proud to give back to them.

Dave: I love my community and all the people in it! I love that we give back and help guide people home in this community and the surrounding areas. This is the best area in Michigan in my view and my heart is and always will be here.

To Our Families

Rob: A Specific thank you to Jill and Rhonda for guiding us and encouraging every day. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without you. We are blessed beyond measure!

Dave: My family raised me here and taught me values, work ethic and respect to all. Without the support of my family and wife, I would not have been able to do what we have done. They covered me and supported me through the hard times and good times.

To Each Other

Rob: Dave has been the best partner I could image.  So many partnerships fail for myriad of reasons. While we rumble through things quite often, we always remember that this is about clients, partners, and employees. With this philosophy in mind, often we land at the correct decision.

Dave: I am very thankful for Rob! Twenty-five years ago, we both had a vison/goal and together we went for it! Rob, you have been a great partner and together we worked to find common goals and I am so thankful for our friendship.

There are so many people we need to thank!

From the first Realtors that trusted us when we were brand new in the business, to the underwriters who took time to stop and help us figure out the rules, to all the people we leaned on in the business, to our trusty beepers, Nextel flip phone and fax machine.

We are so honored to know all of you and will always remember the journey!

Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts.

Meeting

Five Mortgage Interest Rate Factors You Control

Did you know that over 30 factors go into selecting a mortgage interest rate? In this post, we look at five things you can improve – and two factors you can’t control at all.

MeetingWhen you’re considering a mortgage, your first thought is probably “Can I afford it?” A mortgage lender asks themselves a similar question: “Will this person be able to repay the loan?” To the lender, giving you a mortgage is a risk, no matter how great your credit history is or how much money you make. To offset some of the risk, lenders charge interest on the mortgage.

A mortgage interest rate is usually calculated as a percentage of your loan amount. It’s added to the amount borrowed; most of your monthly payments go toward the principal, but some go to the interest rate. This rate can be fixed (i.e. the same for the entire loan period) or it can be variable (i.e. the rate rises or lowers at intervals throughout the loan period).

So, what affects the interest rate a lender offers you?

Five Mortgage Interest Rate Factors You (Mostly) Control

As we’ve said before on this blog, mortgage interest rates are not just about the borrower. They’re also about the lender, the market, and the economy as a whole. But there are some things you can control – at least partly:

  • Credit Score. Your credit score is a big factor in determining your creditworthiness, or how much of a risk you represent to the lender. A credit score of under 640 can mean a higher interest rate; a score of 740 or above can get you a lower rate. Here’s how you can improve your credit score.
  • Debt Ratio. The amount and kind of debt you have will impact your credit score, but lenders also look at the debt ratio itself. As a general rule, no more than 43% of your monthly income should go to defraying debt (e.g. car payments, credit cards, etc.). The reason is simple: the more debts you have, the more likely it is that you’ll have a hard time keeping up the payments.
  • Down Payment / Loan Amount. A larger down payment can lower your loan amount, which means you could get a lower interest rate. If, for example, you pay 20% down instead of 10% down, you’ve removed some of the lender’s risk. Your reward: a lower interest rate and a substantial amount of savings.
  • Loan Type.  Different loan types come with different requirements, guidelines, and interest rates. Check out these types of home loans to learn more.
  • Home Location, Price, and Use. Ok, you may not have a lot of wiggle room on your home location or budget – but if you’re looking for value, you may want to shop around. Homes in different areas of the same city can be priced higher or lower according to demand; price impacts the loan amount, which affects the interest rate. And if you’re shopping for your primary residence (as opposed to a second home, vacation home, etc.), you’ll likely get a lower interest rate, too.

Two Mortgage Interest Rate Factors You Can’t Control

No matter who you are or what you make, the following factors are outside of your control. Unfortunately, they still affect your mortgage interest rate:

  • Local Real Estate Market Conditions. If home sales are slow in your area, there’s less demand for mortgages. This means mortgage lenders have to compete a bit for business, which translates into a better deal for you. On the other hand, moving into a hot market means higher prices, higher demand, and higher interest rates.
  • The Economy. During an economic downturn, mortgage rates tend to decline for the same reason as mentioned above: a lack of demand. During an economic upturn, people are more apt to start house shopping again, which drives up demand and interest rates.

So, if you’re shopping for a mortgage with a great interest rate, keep these factors in mind. Maybe you can increase your down payment or reduce your debt. Don’t forget to compare offers from different lenders; that too can help you find a better interest rate. If you’re not sure what your next move should be, talk with one of our mortgage specialists.

This blog post was written by experts at Mortgage 1 and originally appeared on www.mortgageone.com. Michigan Mortgage is a DBA of Mortgage 1.