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Image of a family hanging up an American flag

Military Vets: Get a VA Home Loan

In addition to being one of the country’s leading lenders to first-time home buyers, Michigan Mortgage specializes in helping veterans of the United States military and their families get into their dream homes.

Veterans Affairs (VA) mortgages make it easier for veterans to obtain financing for home ownership. VA loans are available to veterans and active military members. VA loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and are somewhat easier to qualify for than conventional mortgages.

Image of a family hanging up an American flagVA Home Loan Benefits

VA loans are great because:

  • They can be obtained without any down payment.
  • Mortgage insurance is not required even if you put less than 20% down.
  • The VA does not require a specific credit score for a VA loan.

Although the costs of getting a VA loan are generally lower than they are for other types of low-down-payment mortgages, VA loans do carry a one-time funding fee that varies depending on the down payment and the type of veteran.

According to the VA, veterans who have taken advantage of the program have some of the lowest home ownership default rates, and that the agency also helped 80,000 VA borrowers avoid foreclosure in 2014, saving taxpayers $2.8 billion.

VA Loan Requirements

VA loans are offered to most active duty, reserve or National Guard and veteran service members and even some surviving spouses.

Veterans are able to borrow over $400,000 without any down payment on a principal residence home. According to the VA, almost 90% of VA loans have no down payment.

There’s also no minimum credit score requirement for a VA loan, while most home mortgage loans require a credit score of at least 620 for conventional loans or 580 for most FHA loans. A VA loan can also be used to refinance an existing loan.

VA loans do have specific requirements that most other loans don’t. For instance, all work on the home must be completed before the inspection. Also, there can’t be chipped or peeling paint inside or out, or termites or mold or loose handrails. In other areas, a VA inspection can be a bit more stringent. For example, while most home inspectors merely turn on the home’s furnace to see if it works, the VA requires inspectors to verify that the heat source can keep pipes from freezing.

Are you a vet? Reach out to one of our experienced Loan Officers to learn more. 

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. 

Olivia Woodring

First Michigan Mortgage Service Scholarship Winner Announced

In conjunction with our #MMGivesBack and Service Rewards programs, we 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 over 50 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 2021 winners. Two West Michigan graduates will receive $1,000 to further their education.

Olivia WoodringAfter much consideration, Michigan Mortgage is pleased to announce Olivia Woodring, a 2021 Ravenna High School Graduate, as a winner of this year’s Michigan Mortgage Service Scholarship.

She said the following in her application.

“While in high school, it is difficult to see the value of service past “volunteer hours.” Upon realizing this, I have grown to see service not as a tool, like how it is sometimes portrayed, but as a meaningful goal all on its own. I hope that my greatest priority throughout life is to put others before myself. I am aware of the privilege I have had throughout my life, and to me, ‘service’ means to use the resources I have been given throughout my life to give to others.”

“One of Michigan’s greatest assets is its lakes, and West Michigan is no exception. As someone who has taken advantage of outdoor recreation in West Michigan, I would love to play a role in preserving our freshwater ecosystems, whether it be through my career or through volunteering. I also hope that I can show enough compassion and kindness toward others in my community so that these qualities may be passed on, creating a more caring and inclusive environment for future generations.”

Olivia will be a student in the LSA Honors Program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the fall. She plans to major in International Studies and minor in Science, Technology, & Society.

Melanie Block, an educator at Ravenna High School, had nothing but remarkable things to say about Olivia and her work ethic. Olivia is an invaluable asset to the Ravenna community and hopes to impact her small town for many generations to come.

“I am so thankful for the generous scholarship awarded by Michigan Mortgage, and I am excited to use this financial aid to further my education,” she said.

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

Impact Report

Impacting Our Local Community

Rob Garrison said it best.

“2020 was quite the year. Between a global pandemic, rioting in our cities and a contentious Presidential election, we know that everyone was tired and frustrated and perhaps ready for 2020 to be over. The uncertainty that the pandemic has placed on so many families is disheartening. We are saddened by the medical, financial and personal suffering that so many have endured in 2020. In that vein, we at Michigan Mortgage have doubled our efforts to make the most impact in areas that we can control: our clients, our employees and the community.”

As we work our way through 2021, we wanted to take a moment to pause and look back on all of the good that happened last year.

Impact ReportHere are a few of our favorite highlights. If you’d like to learn more about 2020 community involvement, click here and flip through our Impact Report.

#MMGivesBack – Honoring Our Local Educators

Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we launched #MMGivesBack – Honoring Our Local Educators to give back to those that give so much to our local community. Three times in 2020, we recognized a West Michigan educator that went above and beyond in the classroom and donated $1,000 to their school.

We surprised the following teachers, delivered a gift basket and thanked them for their dedication to their students.

Rosanne Willard, Oakridge Elementary in Muskegon
Tammie Thompson, Griffin Elementary in Grand Haven
Julie Anderson, Beach Elementary in Fruitport

Each woman (and their school) was deserving of our Outstanding Teacher Award and $1,000 donation!

As part of #MMGivesBack, educators that financed their mortgage – purchase or refinance – with a Michigan Mortgage Loan Officer received $100 worth of school supplies and we donated $50 worth of school supplies to another teacher on their behalf. In total, we donated supplies to 75 classrooms in more than 20 West Michigan school districts.

Michigan Mortgage Service Scholarship

In conjunction with our #MMGivesBack and Service Rewards programs, we 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 will award two $1,000 scholarships to West Michigan Seniors in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Dancing with the Local Stars

Our very own Dave Lehner competed in the 2020 Dancing with the Local Stars event in Muskegon. This event was pre-pandemic and one of the last times our community was able to gather for a great cause.

Dave and his team spent hours practicing their routine and gave a flawless performance. We were so happy to be in the audience cheering him on!

Standup for the Cure

This is one of our favorite local events and we were disappointed to miss a fun-filled day at the beach, but our employees stood up and participated at their own homes. Some hiked and explored outdoors while others kayaked, swam and played basketball in their backyards.

Shawn Norden, one of our fabulous Loan Officers, worked hard to raise awareness and get people involved in the 2020 fundraiser. We are always excited to support her and the local food bank and food programs in our area.

“While 2020 was challenging in many ways, it has taught us many lessons that will affect our business for years to come,” Rob said.

Thank you for taking this wild ride with us!

Honoring Our Local Educators

Honoring Our Local Educators: Ms. Tammie Thompson at Griffin Elementary

MM Gives Back was launched as a way for the Michigan Mortgage team to give back to the community, local and afar. This year, we’re honoring our local educators. Each quarter, Michigan Mortgage will recognize a West Michigan educator and donate $1,000 to their school.

This quarter, we honored Ms. Tammie Thompson, a First Grade Teacher at Griffin Elementary in Grand Haven.

Honoring Our Local EducatorsMs. Thompson was nominated on our Facebook page by Erin Alvarez: “Tammie is an amazing teacher and role model. She encourages her students to work to their full potential. When others put children in ‘boxes,’ she lets the child decide what shape suits them best. She is a selfless teacher whose hard work and dedication often goes unnoticed. She is a ray of sunshine whose smile and positivity can be seen and heard through the halls of the school. She forms long lasting relationships with her students and families and truly cares about the ‘whole’ child. She goes above and beyond to make sure that each child is successful not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. My children continue to praise her for her ability to be a positive influence long after her time with them. She makes each child feel they are important and truly loved and cared for.”

She is so incredibly deserving of this recognition; we learned that first-hand when we visited her at Griffin.

My wish for myself and my students, which I share with them every day, is to remember that we are valuable and amazing humans simply because we exist,” Tammie said. “Our job is to learn all we can about so many things while at the same time bringing our best selves to every situation.”

My hope is for all of us to remember that being human means taking risks, making mistakes, feeling strong feelings and learning strategies to manage them. It also means bringing kindness, patience, compassion, respect, and a willingness to listen and learn into every space we enter with others. Every single day I believe this starts with me!”

Click here to see our surprise visit to Griffin Elementary! 

I am an educator because teaching and learning are my passion,” Tammie said! “I am a lifelong learner myself and every day have set out with the intention to inspire others to have a similar mindset.”

I am a passionate advocate for positive reinforcement and strategies that work to support desirable behaviors and consequences. Children have a natural yearning to explore, to reflect, to communicate, to connect, and to dream. It is my role as a guide in my classroom to teach and model positive, appropriate ways of satisfying these natural desires.”

Tending to my students’ emotional and social selves and overall well-being is the first order of business every day in my classroom,” she continued. “By focusing on developing deep and meaningful relationships with students, I can more easily create a space that enables and helps to maintain a strong, safe foundation for curricular learning. Getting to know students on a personal level, listening to their interests, dreams, and concerns sends a strong, consistent message that I believe they are all humans first and learners next.”

On behalf of Michigan Mortgage, Ms. Thompson and Griffin Elementary received a check for $1,000.

Thank you, Michigan Mortgage, for giving me this award,” she said. “I feel so blessed to have worked across decades with such caring, compassionate, and dedicated families in the Grand Haven area who have been committed to quality in the education of all of our children.”

Thank you for your commitment to education, Ms. Thompson! We are so blessed to recognize you as a recipient of our Honoring Our Local Educators Outstanding Teacher Award.

Honoring Our Local Educators

75Walls

Hometown Highlight: 75Walls

Two hometown gals starting a mural movement in Muskegon, Michigan, one wall at a time.

75Walls

Christine Mattson and Jenni Schuitema are the faces behind 75Walls. In line with movements across the U.S., the goal of 75Walls is to beautify inspire and bring joy to the Muskegon area by commissioning artists to transform the Muskegon area – one wall at a time – with a little TLC.

Years ago, Christine and Jenni started a band by the name of 75Walls. Ironically, that band name is now the vision the two friends have for their mission: Turning 75 walls into murals that inspire and bring rejuvenation to Muskegon.

75Walls

Their first project, titled “Lakeside Regatta” and located along the bike path at the entrance to the Lake Express Ferry, is the perfect welcome to Lakeside and the beautiful Muskegon Lakeshore.

Local artist Jimmy Cobb was commissioned to create and transform the wall.

Funded by personal funds as well as Go Fund Me funds, the murals are coming to life with the help of local artists and community members passionate about spreading art and joy across the great city of Muskegon.

The second project entitled “The Siren’s Catch” now adorns one of Lakeside’s oldest walls.

Local artist Angie Mattson was inspired by those who fished our waters and called this port their home, and is now Located on the wall at Torresen Marine.

To support and learn more about 75Walls, check out their Facebook page.

Stay tuned for walls number 3 through 75!

It’s Story Time

Our friends at 92.1 WGHN are hosting Story Time. Have you been tuning in?

We teamed up with the West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors to sponsor the daily segment with Grand Haven Area Public Schools. Tune in at 8:40 a.m. Monday – Friday to hear some of our favorite stories.

Press play below and enjoy a few sweet stories with your family.

More stories are available here. 

Story Time with Grand Haven Area Public Schools

 

Our friends at 92.1 WGHN are hosting Story Time and we are so excited to be involved!

We teamed up with the West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors to sponsor the daily segment with Grand Haven Area Public Schools. Tune in at 8:40 a.m. Monday – Friday to hear some of our favorite stories.

Story Time’s first episode aired this morning. Press play below and enjoy a sweet story with your family.

Honoring Our Local Educators: Ms. Annie Willard at Oakridge Lower Elementary

MM Gives Back was launched as a way for the Michigan Mortgage team to give back to the community, local and afar.

In the past, our monthly MM Give Back charities were selected by our Employee Superstar of the Month. We donated financially and offered our time and resources.

This year, we’re switching things up! 2020 is the year of Educators.

Each quarter, Michigan Mortgage will recognize a West Michigan educator and donate $1,000 to their school. Honoring education is our priority!

This quarter, we honored Ms. Annie Willard, an SXI Teacher (SXI stands for students that have Severe Multiple Impairments) at Oakridge Lower Elementary.

Ms. Willard, along with a slew of others, was nominated on our Facebook page.

“I would like to throw Rosanne (Annie) Willard’s hat into the ring. Annie works with Severe and Multiple impaired special needs students. I have never met anyone who does more for her students and sometimes, more importantly, their families than Annie. She makes their lives so much better, advocating and arranging for supplies and services to be available to assist these students with some of their most basic necessities like mobility, bathing, and feeding Always looking for solutions, she often spends her own money to make sure the students and their families have what they need. Over the years we have had a few students pass away and Annie is with these students and their families, crying and laughing about the joy these kids have brought right up until the end.” – Renee Warmoth

She is so incredibly deserving of this recognition; we learned that first-hand when we visited her classroom.

“Annie is very deserving of this award because there is no end to the lengths that she goes to for her students and their families,” said Principal Angela Ogden. “Annie has a huge heart and cares for her students and staff as if they were members of her own family.”

Click here to see our surprise visit to Ms. Willard’s classroom!

“I became a special education teacher so that I could make a difference in these children’s lives,” said Ms. Willard. “I push them to their fullest potential and expect great things from them. Their gains may be small and far between, but the challenge is worth it. And it is exciting when they accomplish something that nobody ever thought they could do.”

“My students are my kids,” she continued. “I generally have them for seven years before they move on to the Middle School program. I learn a lot about them and their family. Their struggles, their needs, or just when they need a shoulder to cry on. I have been there for the passing of two of my students. Helping the family during a very dark time.”

On behalf of Michigan Mortgage, Ms. Willard and Oakridge Lower Elementary received a check for $1,000. Ms. Willard plans to use the funds to purchase specialty chairs for the lunch room and sensory items for a new space currently under construction.

“I cannot thank Michigan Mortgage enough for honoring outstanding teachers,” Ms. Willard said. “I love my job and would not change a thing, but it is awesome to be acknowledged for our hard work.”

“My students have made a huge impression on my life,” she said. “I am thankful for them every day.”

Thank you for your commitment to education, Ms. Willard! We are so blessed to recognize you as the first recipient of our Honoring Our Local Educators Award.

Image showing an autographed Justin Abdelkader jersey.

#MMGivesBack: Stand Up for the Cure

Each month, our staff selects a local charity to support through our #MMGivesBack program. Our goal is to give back, get involved and make a difference.

In honor of Loan Officer Shawn Norden and her passion for breast cancer awareness, we have selected Stand up for the Cure (SUFTC) Muskegon as this month’s charity.

“As a breast cancer survivor, I learned very quickly the importance of early detection,” Norden said. “It is not a cliché. Finding breast cancer early offers you less invasive treatment options and a much greater probability of survival.”

“My wish is that every woman has the same access that I did for finding breast cancer early – that is why I Stand Up for the Cure,” she said.

The event – the fifth in Muskegon – is slated for Saturday, July 13, at Harbour Towne Beach.

SUFTC’s mission is “to help women find breast cancer early – when it’s more treatable – through education, awareness, screenings and research while building a supportive, compassionate community.” The event aims to introduce non-paddlers to the fun and healthy sport of standup paddle boarding.

According to the organization, “Seventy-five percent of the funds raised at the 2019 event will go to local programs managed through Hackley Community Care, with the remaining twenty-five percent going to Van Andel Institute to fuel Dr. Carrie Graveel’s research into triple-negative breast cancer, which is the most aggressive and deadly form of the disease.”

“We help those right here in our community every day,” Norden added. “This is a huge reason why I support SUFTC. Of course, we want to end breast cancer forever – but until that happens, we need to help those afflicted by this horrid disease.”

Online registration is now open.

As part of this year’s event, Michigan Mortgage will be giving away a Red Wings jersey autographed by Muskegon’s very own Justin Abdelkader.

If you’d like an opportunity to win, stop by our office (6207 Harvey Street, Suite B) between now and July 12. The cost to enter is $10 for one chance and $20 for three.

If you’re planning to attend the July 13 event, stop by the Michigan Mortgage booth for your chance to win. All proceeds will go directly to Stand Up for the Cure.

The winner will be announced at noon on July 13. You need not be present to win.

If you have questions related to the giveaway, please call Shawn Norden at 231-557-9414.

“I am so grateful that our community has embraced this event and all it stands for,” Norden said. “We would not be able to be successful without our very generous sponsors, participants and the community as a whole.”

Muskegon Event Details
Location:
Harbour Towne Beach, Muskegon
Date: Saturday, July 13
Time: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Activities: Kid’s Paddleboard Race, 5K Expert Race, Relay Races, Fun “Sea of Pink” Paddle, Yoga on the Beach, Free Breast Health Screenings, Live Music, Catered Lunch & Happy House, a Silent Auction and much more!

For more information about this year’s event, click here.

Realtors Who Care logo

#MMGivesBack: Realtors Who Care

Realtors Who Care is the charitable arm of the West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors. Their goal is to make our local community a better place to work and live.

Mission Statement: Realtors Who Care shall strive to support Realtors first, people focused local charities, individuals in need and the National Association of Realtors recommended disaster relief.

They often give $300 to support individuals and charities in need and $600 to Realtors in need and disaster relief efforts designated by the National Association of Realtors.

Loan Officer Hayley Woodworth is Co-Chair of the Realtors Who Care Committee and selected the non-profit organization as this month’s #MMGivesBack charity.

Why?

“Realtors give back so much to their clients and communities,” she said. “I think it is important that we support them when they are in need. We meet so many people through this industry, and when you meet someone going through a hardship, it’s such a great feeling to be able to help them.”

The group experienced a very successful 2018 full of giving but has even bigger dreams for the year ahead.

“The goal for 2019 is to raise as much money as possible so we can give more than we ever have back to the local community,” Woodworth said. “We are also striving to gain as much exposure as possible so Realtors, affiliates and the community become aware of our organization.”

“We want to get more people involved and encourage more requests and submissions for donations for people and places in need,” she said.

How can you get involved?

“In May, Realtors Who Care collects toiletries and personal items for local shelters and food baskets,” Woodworth said. The group takes the donated items and assembles baskets for those in need.

Items include: shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, paper towel, feminine products, deodorant, tissues, and other household items used on a daily basis.

More information about Realtors Who Care, their mission and the May Basket charity initiative is available on their Facebook page.