Blog


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. 


BY: KIARA JOHNSON

If you have ever purchased a house in the past, I assure you that today’s home buying process is much different. 
In today’s world, lenders ask for so much information that you will probably wonder if you even want to proceed with buying a home. This is a common feeling, but rest assured that someone with a 600 credit score will still need the same documentation as someone with an 850 credit score. 

This article is to enlighten you on documents your lender will request, why they are requesting them and other significant milestones throughout the process.

Congratulations! Your contract has been accepted, meaning you have made an offer on a home and the seller has agreed to the terms and conditions that you and your realtor have outlined in the contract. The first important date is your acceptance date. This is a date that the contract is accepted. From that date, you have typically 24 hours to provide your earnest money to your agent. Earnest money is the pre-negotiated amount that you put down in advance to show the seller that you are serious about purchasing this property. 

Also, from this date, it is essential that you sign your “Intent to Proceed” with your lender. The Intent to Proceed form says that you have chosen that lender to work with on the purchased of the specified property.  Without this form being signed, your lender is limited on what they can do with the file. They cannot order the appraisal or request certain documents in order to get the loan process moving.


Another milestone date that buyers should be aware of is your inspection period. Typically, unless otherwise stated, you need to have your inspections completed within ten days of the acceptance date. This includes, but is not limited to, your building and pest inspections. During this ten-day window, it is also important to call insurance carriers to make sure the property is insurable. Any concerns should be drawn up in an inspection report which your realtor will send over to the seller to see what issue(s) they may or may not be willing to address. 


Simultaneously, your loan coordinator is working hard on preparing the file for underwriting. Your loan coordinator will be your primary point of contact outside of your loan officer.  As a lender, we want to make sure you will be able to make your payments, so we need to verify sources of income. Whether that may be from a job were you receive paychecks, self-employed income, or even fixed income. We will typically collect a month worth of pay stubs, two years federal tax returns, W2’s and/or 1099’s. You would think that would be enough to prove your income, right? The answer is “No.” Behind the scenes, we are calling your employer to verify the information you provided and contacting the IRS to verify your tax returns were filed identically to what you gave us. This is not done out of choice on the lender’s part but because the guidelines require it.

When we run your credit report, we will ask you to explain or provide documentation on any derogatory information. This includes bankruptcies, judgments, charge-offs, late pays, etc. We will also have you explain any inquiries to your credit within the past 6 months. We want to make sure we have an accurate picture of your debts and liabilities so that we are meeting mortgage lending guidelines. There are times where credit accounts will not report to the credit bureaus. When that is the case, we need to know about those accounts from you.


We also require asset statements.  Not only for the accounts that will be used for closing; but for all your asset accounts.  Sometimes the difference between your loan being approved or denied can be that little extra money you have in a 401K or investment account that can be used for reserves.  We will also ask you to document and support deposits that aren’t payroll. We will request information that may be specific to your financial situation. This may include divorce decree or separation agreement, job gap explanations, and unfortunately much more.

There will be times were you provide everything requested and we still come back and ask for more. How frustrating! Most likely, the information you provided triggered for more questions or documentation for clarity. It can be an emotional roller coaster but keep in mind, we are all on the same team with the same end goal- to get you into the home of your dreams.


After all that has been squared away, we have loan commitment. This may be the most important date for the lender, realtor, and seller. This is the date that you are contractually obligated to provide loan approval. Most loan commitments will have a few conditions on them such as a 24-hour verbal verification of employment, 24-hour credit soft pull, or finalize insurance. These items are nothing to worry about. 

The most exciting date for all parties involved is your closing date. This is the day you receive the keys to your new home- which is exciting, and it’s also the day you sign a significant amount of paperwork- which may be less exciting.


Call Kiara Johnson at 314.568.6389 to get pre-approved and learn about all of the mortgage options you qualify for.  I can also be reached by email at kjohnson@firstintegrity.com. 
 


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