Author: Elise Loan Tucson

What Types of Home Loans Are There?

Buying a new home can be the most exciting purchases you will ever make. Whether it’s your first home as a newlywed couple, or the long-awaited dream home where you intend to enjoy retirement, understanding what types of home loans are available, will save you stress in the long run! 

Oftentimes factors such as credit score and income play a large part in what you can afford, however, rest assured there is a loan out there for you, regardless of your circumstances! Let’s look at a few of the main types of home loans to help you better understand your options. Knowing what loans are available to you, and how they work, will set you up for success in choosing which home loan you can afford. 

FHA Loans

FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, which acts as a back up in the case of nonpayment. This type of loan requires the homeowner to pay for private mortgage insurance. This insurance is paid as an initial premium payment at closing, as well as a monthly insurance payment on top of that. FHA loans are very commonly used with first time home buyers, due to its low requirement of only 3.5 percent down payment. Applicants are required to have a minimum FICO score of 580 to qualify for the 3.5 percent down. You can still receive an FHA loan with a FICO score below 580, but it will require a much larger 10% down payment. FHA loans generally have lower closing costs, require less credit history, and offer lower interest rates, making it a great option for many homebuyers. 

Conventional Fixed Loans

These loans are not backed by a government agency like the FHA. Because they are not guaranteed by the government, they are considered riskier by lenders and therefore have tougher requirements. Conventional loans require at least a 20 percent down payment, but do not require private mortgage insurance. Requirements vary by lender, but 620 is the typical minimum score required to qualify for a conventional fixed loan. These loans are available in 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40-year terms, although the most common are 15 and 30- year terms. If you have the means to put down 20 percent on your home loan, and avoid having to pay for private mortgage insurance, you will save significantly on your monthly payment. 

VA Loan

VA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These home loans are available only to veterans of the U.S. armed forces, service members, and occasionally their spouses. This type of loan was created by the U.S. government in 1944 to help returning service members purchase a home without needing a down payment or great credit. As was mentioned, these loans require zero down payment, and private mortgage insurance is not required. Generally, VA loans have a more competitive interest rate compared to non-VA loans. With benefits like these, veterans would do well to take advantage of this type of loan when buying their home.

Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM)

Adjustable Rate Morgages, or variable-rate mortgages, are loans in which the interest rate can vary over time. This rate is based off the economy, and the cost of borrowing money at the time. There are different types of ARMs. One common type of ARM is a 5/1. As an example, with this type of loan the interest will stay the same for the first 5 years, and then will become adjustable for the following 25 years. The interest rate will reset every year following the initial 5 years. The main benefit of using an adjustable rate mortgage, is that you will receive an extremely low initial interest rate. In general, ARM mortgage rates start out about 0.5 percent lower than fixed-rate loans. Despite having lower monthly payments during the initial lower interest period, some homeowners chose to make their payments as if it were at a standard interest rate. This allows a much larger portion of the principal to be paid off every month, gaining a large amount of home equity in a noticeably short period of time. ARM loans are particularly appealing when conventional interest rates are high. Lenders may set their own credit score standards, but the FHA will guarantee loans for borrowers with scores as low as 500. In addition to helping those with low credit scores, the ARM may also be a good option for someone planning to sell or refinance within a few years.

USDA Home Loan

The USDA home loan is a unique loan. The home you purchase must be located in the eligible rural or suburban area as defined by the USDA, but if your home qualifies, you’re looking at zero down payment and a low interest rate. These loans are guaranteed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Because of the USDA guarantee, eligibility requirements are lenient, provided your home is in a qualifying location. The USDA’s definition of “rural” has expanded more recently to include many small towns, suburbs, and outlying areas of major U.S. cities. Mortgage rates are often lower than FHA or conventional loans. The minimum credit score needed to receive this loan is 640. If you don’t mind living away from the hustle and bustle of the city, a USDA loan may be the perfect fit for your lending needs. 

Interest Only Loans

Interest only loans allow the borrower to pay only on the interest of their loan for the first 5-10 years. After the initial period of paying interest only, the loan is paid off as a conventional loan would be, with principal and interest included monthly. Interest only home loans require a higher credit score, with a minimum of 720. These also require a higher income and down payment in comparison to several of the loans mentioned previously. This type of loan slows down repayment of principal, so equity in the home is not seen until much later on. First time home buyers who can only afford a low mortgage payment may consider this loan, however, be aware that your mortgage will go up significantly after the initial 5-10 years. This type of loan can also be helpful for someone looking to buy a fixer upper, with the intention of selling right away. This will free up more money to put towards renovating the home. 

Now that you have a better understanding of what types of home loans there are, you can be confident that you will make the right choice. Happy house hunting!


Fix-n-Flip Financing Explained

Being a real estate investor (or a real estate agent working with one) is not for everyone, that’s for sure.  However, one of the reasons people don’t dive into the real estate investing pool is they don’t understand how the deals are financed.  Let me give you a quick breakdown of how some fix-and-flip deals are financed.

Step one:  You take the acquisition price – example: $200,000; you’ll need to put down 10% – in this example: $20,000.

Step two:  Determine how much will be needed in repair costs to get the home ready for appraisal and sale – example: $35,000.

Step three: The acquisition price was $200,000 with $20,000 down, so $180,000 will be needed for the home acquisition, and $35,000 will be needed for the repairs.  Added together, that’s $215,000 needed from a lender.

Step four:  Determine the home’s After Repair Value (ARV) – example: $375,000.  The lender will lend up to 65% of the ARV – example: $375,000 X 65% = $243,750.  Because 65% of the ARV is higher than $215,000 (the acquisition and repair costs), all’s well.

Step 5:  The “flipper” (borrower) will be required to put together a precise list of what improvements are to be made to the home calling out specific materials.  An appraiser will be called in to compare the current state of the home to the repair schedule to determine what the ARV will be.  If it comes back higher than previously thought, great.  If it comes back lower, it may require the buyer to bring more money to the table – example: the home’s ARV is set at $320,000 (65% of that is $208,000, and $215,000 is needed – the borrower would have to come up with an additional $7,000 over and above the $10,000 they brought in for the down payment).

Step six:  Once the ARV is established, the lender moves forward with finalizing the loan and financing the project.  The terms will usually be 12 months with interest only being charged.  Example: on a $215,000 loan at 9.5% interest only, that would be a monthly payment of $1702.08.  The lender is going to charge fees up front that usually add up to about 4-5% of the loan amount.  That amount will be paid at closing along with any closing costs (about 2.5% of the loan amount).

So, let’s put this in real numbers and see how much a flipper would make:

$20,000 for down payment

$15,050 for fees and closing costs (about 7% of the loan amount)

$20,425 (12 months of interest)



$375,000 house sells for this amount

$215,000 amount financed



$160,000 total cleared from sale

-$ 55,475 total costs

$104,525 PROFIT

That number just north of $100K isn’t the TRUE profit because you have short-term capital gains taxes to consider, but this gives you a general idea of how such a fix-and-flip project is financed and how all the numbers are calculated.

This is just one of many different ways to finance a fix-and-flip.  We also have other strategies that appeal to a “flipper” mentality but allow the flipper to avoid those short-term capital gains taxes.  And for those who are leaning more toward the buy-and-hold strategy, we have ways to help them acquire properties without the need for income verification.

As an agent, by having a passing knowledge of what your lending partner can do to help finance these types of deals, you become an asset to your existing customers who are in the investor pool with both feet and to those who are nervously perched at the edge unsure of whether they should dip their toe in the water to see how it feels.  Give them a splash of your insights, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at who jumps in!

Creating v. Competing

In the not-too-distant past, marketing and advertising were costly and, quite often, labor intensive (which means “costly”).  With social media being readily available and free to everyone, that significantly evened the score for everyone involved.  So, instead of having a handful of players who have the money and means to go after a target audience, we now have everybody and their dogs (and cats) going after that same target audience.  In other words, the lake remained the same size, but now we’re cheek by jowl full of people casting in their lines and nets to catch a fish.

That doesn’t mean that when Kyle posts “hey, if you know someone who is looking to buy or sell a house, let me know” it’s equally effective and persuasive as when Karen creates a multi-media ad featuring pretty people and flashy graphics, but it does mean that both of them are waiting for someone to come to them.  In light of this, I recently taught a class to some real estate agents on different ways to create customers rather than marketing to buyers and hoping the buyer will call or email them.

I’m not going to go over the different items we covered (I’m not bitter) mainly because it was a lot of back-and-forth discussion and brainstorming.  What I will say, though, is that each and every idea we discussed boiled down to agents and lenders LITERALLY working together to CREATE customers.  This doesn’t mean Lender A buys a bunch of leads and sends them over to Realtor B to cull through them and see if any of them are any good.  Nor does it mean that Realtor A is going to send out a mailer with Lender B paying for half the costs.

Near the end of our discussion, one of the agents in the class asked that I create a very simple chart that outlined the P&I payment for a certain loan amount in relation to a particular interest rate.  For those of you who just rolled their eyes after reading that last sentence, I will agree that such a chart already exists, isn’t that hard to get, and isn’t all that sexy or persuasive.  But I will tell you this: it fit perfectly into a plan we had come up with together that will CREATE customers rather than market to people who are already on the hunt for a home (and who every other agent and their menagerie of pets are also trying to attract).

For grins and giggles, I’m including that non-sexy chart.  Give me a call if you want me include your branding on that chart or if you want me to schedule a time to sit down with you and a handful of your fellow agents and go over this brainstorming session on how to create customers.  I’m here to help!

A VA Loan Myth Dispelled

VA Loan Info with Priority Lending Mortgage

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with a person who is relatively new to being a real estate agent but not new to selling a house.  Our conversation turned to the subject of her own home that she and her husband were about to put on the market.  She wanted to know what mortgage options were available to potential buyers since her home will be listed for approximately $550,000.  FHA, obviously, wouldn’t be an option because the loan amount caps out significantly further south than $550,000 – she knew that.  But what about VA?  She started to say that she knew the cap on a VA loan, while not as low as FHA, was still not high enough to enable someone to purchase her home using that option.  Not true – not entirely.

One of the great benefits of a VA loan is the fact the buyer isn’t required to put any money down.  But like many benefits, there’s a limit.  In the case of a VA loan, that limit is $484,350 (unless the house is in a high-cost area).  Patriotism aside, a difference of $65,650 between the limit and the asking price in my new agent friend’s case is a tad beyond negotiation.  In this case, a VA loan is still a very viable option, and I urged my new friend that she should indicate in her listing that she accepts VA loan offers.  Unlike unicorns and politicians who don’t have an ego, there IS such a thing as a VA Jumbo Loan – no myth!

Caps when dealing with VA Loans

While there’s a cap of $484,350, that cap applies to the amount up to which the borrower will not be required to come in with a down payment.  With a VA Jumbo Loan, though, the borrower is only required to bring in 25% of the DIFFERENCE between the loan limit and the purchase price.  In my friend’s case, that difference is $65,650.  That means a VA borrower could purchase her home with a down payment of ONLY $16,412.50.  Yes, you read that correctly: for less than 3% of the purchase price, a VA borrower could use their benefit and purchase that house.

On my friend’s listing, it’s absolutely imperative that she indicate that VA loan offers are accepted, the main reason being that more than the majority of agents are like she was before our meeting and don’t believe it’s even an option.  I didn’t get a finance degree from Harvard (although I did buy a t-shirt there once), but I’m fairly certain that increasing the number of potential buyers for your property is a good thing.

For more information feel free to contact Priority Lending LLC today.

Offense Doesn’t Need to be Offensive

American Football, Running Back, Football Player anology for credit

For numerous reasons, when I’m in the middle of taking a mortgage application, and I ask the borrower for her/his social security number, I often get these responses:

“Do you really need to pull my credit?”

“Can we wait to pull my credit until . . . ?”

“I’m not comfortable giving that to you.”

They don’t flinch when I ask them how much money they make or what they have in the way of monthly debts, but when I ask for their social, you’d think I was asking for intimate measurements or nuclear launch codes.  They forget that they came to me (I wasn’t standing on the street corner soliciting) in search of the amount for which they can qualify.

In today’s environment, though, many of us as agents and originators are actively soliciting people’s business – we’re not just waiting for our phones to ring or our inboxes to fill.  Because of this go-on-the-offense behavior, we want to be very careful that we’re not being lumped in with Zillow and other marketing monsters who are just looking to grow a database that can be sold or leveraged.

To that end, we’ve come up with a new way to help buyers pull credit without having to share their social security number OR their birth date – and it’s a soft pull, which means it has NO EFFECT on their current scores.  When you as an agent come across a buyer who is reluctant to have her/his credit pulled, sometimes you’re sitting precariously on the horns of a dilemma because you don’t want to show them houses until they know what they’re qualified to purchase, but you don’t want to let them go and get scooped up by another agent.  Because of that, we give you this service to keep in your back pocket and keep them in your sphere.

This is the essence of 21st-century customer service: protecting your clients’ privacy while providing you with value.  Give us a call so we can show you how this is done – you’ll be glad you did.