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Construction Lending in St. Louis, Missouri  

By Dave Puzniak

The dream of building your own home from the ground up typically ends up with a construction loan.  
For an individual, construction loans can be challenging to obtain as they have special guidelines and include monitoring to ensure timely completion so your repayment can begin promptly.  

Construction loans are often shorter term loans with a maximum of one year, along with variable rates.  In addition, these loan rates are higher than rates on permanent mortgage loans.  In order to gain a loan approval for a construction loan, lenders will need to approve a construction timetable, detailed plans, and a realistic budget. Once approved, the borrower will be put on a bank draw schedule which follows the project’s construction stages and will typically be expected to make only interest payments during the construction phase.  As funds are requested, the lender will inspect the property to monitor the job’s progress.  Upon completion, which is often defined by a certificate of occupancy or full payment of the contractors and their lien releases, the borrower’s liability on the loan will then be refinanced into a standard mortgage product.  

Recently, lenders have been combining both the construction and permanent financing into a single 30-year loan with only one closing.  This is called construction-to-permanent financing.  The bank’s higher loan to value risks in construction-to-permanent financing transactions will typically require the borrower to make a larger deposit.  The lender may only provide 80% of project costs or possibly less.  If you own the land on which the construction will occur, that can provide a portion of the equity requirement.

Construction loans represent a fairly small percentage of home loans made.  Construction loans also provide a greater risk for the banks, so it is typically not a financing type lenders aggressively advertise.  You will need to do your homework with any lender.  Make sure to include smaller regional banks and credit unions to determine the loan which best meets your construction loan needs.

David Puzniak
Senior Mortgage Banker
NMLS #559106
Contact me at 314-486-2652 with any questions.


By: Ryan Cox

    In today’s real estate market many people have thought about buying an investment property or wondered how they could get started investing in real estate.  For most people, unless you have a good amount of money saved up or have access to extra cash, this is not an option.  Which leads most people to believe that they have to be wealthy or have a lot of money in order to be able to invest in real estate. Don’t assume you can’t afford to own an investment property. Check out all your options for buying an investment property before just throwing in the towel… This is confusing… the proverbial towel throwing… am I quitting?  Didn’t I just get started??? IDK!!!

     Did you know that you can buy investment properties with Renovation financing or a Home Improvement loan?  Many people are not aware that these products even exist or the many benefits that they can offer.  Renovation financing is unique in the fact that it works off of the “after improved value” instead of the “as is value”.  This allows the buyer to get value for all the things they are looking to do to the property up front and many times can include them in with the financing.  This can be a big advantage for someone who has less money to get started investing, or also be beneficial to someone has a good amount of money to cover all the improvements needed.  For the customer that has less money to get started, this could be a great option to help them get started in their real estate investment journey.  For the customer that does have more money put away, this could allow them to possibly purchase multiple properties with the same amount of money, instead of just doing one property at a time.  Another great benefit that these products offer is the down payment requirement is usually less than many other options.  These programs will allow for an 85% LTV, which is a down payment of 15% of the total acquisition cost (purchase price + all renovations).   

     These products will allow you to make the purchase of the property in most any condition and include all the updates, improvements or renovations needed.  The process can be easy with just one application, one loan approval, one closing, and one monthly payment.  For more information about the possibility of buying your next investment property, or discussing the many benefits these specialty products have to offer, give First Integrity Mortgage a call to discuss your options in more detail and let us help you reach your real estate investment goals.
For more information regarding investment properties or mortgages in general, or just for comments or concerns, please call Ryan Cox, NMLS# 1547172, at 618-581-3015 or email at rcox@firstintegrity.com.


First Integrity Mortgage Services in St. Louis Expands! 

WE HAVE MOVED! After 25 years in West Port Plaza, First Integrity Mortgage Services  has moved just a short mile or so down the road to Park 270. This move has been in the works for several months. On Friday, July 13th we packed up 77 West Port Plaza Suite 200 and moved into our new office. The feelings you feel when you are packing up your childhood home were definitely in full swing that day and the weeks before.  We found many old pictures, binders, holiday decorations, and employee of the month plaques while packing and the memories that came with those objects came along. It was hard for some of us to part with the old décor and furniture, but for the most part, we have a brand new office! It is absolutely beautiful and everything that Joe Jr. and I envisioned it would be months ago. 

In our new office, we are able to showcase the type of company we are without saying anything. When you walk in you see pictures of our team out in the community with First Responders. You see the past, present and future of First Integrity Mortgage in the main conference room. You see the First Integrity Difference! I don’t want to ruin all the surprises! Every square foot of this office was thought out and has a personal touch by all who are a part of the First Integrity Family. 

Back in April, we surprised Joe and Stavra with a 25th Anniversary party. The party was not at a hall, a nice restaurant or bar, but at a vacantspace, that is now our new office. We rented tables, set up decorations and had a slideshow of memories that brought us all to tears. It was a symbolic reference of the old First Integrity Mortgage transforming to the new!
We are still the same company, same staff, same process, same team but with one heck of a makeover! 
Come by and visit us at 1807 Park 270 Drive, Suite 265 St. Louis, MO 63146.


 Joseph Bayer Sr.

Some industries differences are subtle like the old song comparing potato and tomato.  
Is it poTAYto or poTAHto?
Is it, toMAYto or toMAHto?

The song is an expression, meaning an “unimportant difference”.  In other words, who cares?  

Most mortgage lenders are like poTAYtoes or toMAHtoes, there is little difference.  Most all mortgage lenders sell their loans.   Lenders that say otherwise are most likely not explaining it correctly to consumers.  Some lenders collect payments in their names, they service the loan for the end lender.  But, that does not mean they own the loan. Is that important?  It’s poTAYtoes and toMAHtoes. 

Home buyers should remember, your choice of a lender should be exactly that... your choice.  That means the quality of your mortgage experience is up to you and only you.   It is not your Realtor’s® role to choose your lender.  Unfortunately, too often Realtors push lenders on their clients. This is usually because their choice is based upon personal marketing agreements with specific lenders, or their company has such a relationship. There is nothing inherently wrong with a business-to-business relationship as long as you cross-check it.  Picture this image in your mind - your mother is leaning over you wagging her finger and saying these words – “Did you look for it yourself?”  Sorry, but Mom was right!  

Buying a home can be an anxious time.  Making an uneducated choice of a lender could mean more than a nightmare experience.  In this seller’s market, if your lender cannot perform you could lose the house.  You may have only one chance to get that home.  You should always assume that the listing agent has a backup list of other people wanting your home.  Remember your mother!

A little research on your part is part of your responsibility.  In today’s world, you have access to the experiences of homebuyers.   It is called Google®   Many so-called reviews can be manipulated, stick with Google®.    Reviews are the gold-standard of reviews.  Go into Google and type the name of any lender you want. You will find their overall score like 0 to 5.  Five (5✰) stars are the best.  And, the number of clients posting reviews, 115 just happens to be an excellent number as well.

Remember, it is not an accident that lenders have high marks on Google. It is also not an accident when lenders have low marks on Google.

Seriously, you should research all lenders you are considering, or your agent is recommending.  If not here is another,               
“You have no one to blame but yourself”   Love Mom.

We Think. We Care. We Deliver! AND, we will be with you every step of the way to guide and educate you through the home buying process. Call or email us today with any questions about your mortgage or if you are ready to get pre-approved for the next home! 314.878.7900, or info@firstintegrity.com. 


By: Denise Grab

Once you have gone through the process of purchasing a home you either feel like an expert, or you feel like the last 30 days was a whirlwind of crazy and you are just happy to be in your beautiful new home. At First Integrity Mortgage Services in St. Louis, Missouri we do our best to educate our buyers throughout the process with what to do as well as what not to do throughout the process. It is essential because sometimes you might think you are doing something to improve your financial situation such as consolidating credit cards, closing out old trade lines on your credit report or trading in your car, and reducing your car payment. One might think that these steps are great ideas, but when you are in the process of buying a home could be detrimental to the process. Always, ask your loan officer before you make changes to your credit while you are in the loan process. 

As a consumer, when I am looking at switching insurance companies or picking out sunscreen, I like to have options. I want to be able to choose if I want a lower deductible but a higher premium or to have Coppertone with oil and 15 SPF, or the Target brand because it’s the same quality but cheaper. The point is, at First Integrity Mortgage Services, we provide you options we think are best for your financial situation based on conversations, but we leave it up to you to decide what is best for your needs. Sometimes the 20% down payment conventional 30 year fixed cookie cutter loan that you have been saving for might not be the best product for your situation. I know that doesn’t sound right, but we take pride in educating buyers and being mortgage experts so that our customers are confident that after closing they made the best financial decision for one of the most significant purchases they will have to make. There are so many products that if you Google mortgage programs, there would be page after page of different options. I would not suggest doing that because you will overwhelm yourself very quickly. Some of the primary loan programs that you hear of on the streets are conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, Fixed Vs. ARM terms, jumbo, construction, HELOC, Portfolio, Homepath, Homepossible, PowerPlus, 203K Renovation, DesignPlus…the list could continue for days. This is just the point. Don’t overwhelm yourself and talk to your loan expert at First Integrity Mortgage Services to find the best program for you!

The purchase market is very competitive right now, so it is essential that buyers are prepared with a “valid” pre-approval and are confident with their loan program before hitting the streets looking for a new home. It is important to run through your budget and what you are comfortable with in regards to your monthly payment because more than likely the house you put an offer on will have multiple offers on it and you will have to have your best offer presented right off the bat. This is not something that we are used to, but the market has shifted in our area. This is why it is critical to work with a real estate expert that can educate you on comparables in the area and make sure that you are not overpaying. This brings up a very important part of your loan, the appraisal! A third party appraiser will go out and assess the property and provide a report with what their opinion of the value is based on facts or comparables of like homes that have sold in the neighborhood. Right now, buyers in some cases, are bidding over the list price so it is important to note that there is a chance the value could come in less and you could possibly have to pay the difference in purchase price and appraised value if you really want the home. We base our loan off the lower of the two, purchase price or appraised value. 

Not only are your First Integrity Mortgage Services loan officers always available for you to answer questions you also might have something in your home that can answer questions about the loan process and First Integrity that you didn’t know was available to you for that reason. For those of you that want to do a little more research online before you talk to a live First Integrity team member, tell Alexa, “Start First Integrity Mortgage.” Alexa will prompt you to hear about different programs, customer reviews, Do’s and Don’ts, the difference between a Pre-Approval and Pre-Qualification and many other items that can be very useful throughout the process. 

We Think. We Care. We Deliver! AND, we will be with you every step of the way to guide and educate you through the home buying process. Call or email me today with any questions about your mortgage or if you are ready to get pre-approved for the next home! 
Denise Grab, NMLS# 738524, 314.220.9620, or dgrab@firstintegrity.com. 


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