Blog


By Jeremy Durham 

Have you ever found yourself in the market for a particular sized home in a certain school district, but everything you’re seeing appears to have last been updated by the Brady Bunch? Have you loved the location of a home, but found yourself walking away from making an offer due to avocado green appliances? Or peach and country blue wallpaper? Did you think to yourself “I wish I had extra funds to buy this home AND be able to remodel it?” What if you could buy a dated home, in the part of town you wish to live and renovate it to your tastes…all before you ever move in? Perhaps you should consider a Renovation Loan as an option. 

When you purchase or refinance a home, your appraised value is based on the value as the home sits right now. In the condition, it’s in, right now. With a Renovation Loan, your home’s value will be based on the projected After Improved value once your renovation work is complete. Adding square footage, an extra bedroom, bathroom, additional living space, all with more modern fixtures/appliances, means instead of the value of a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom home that you are buying/or currently own, your value will be based on comparable homes with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms that closer meet what your home’s square footage WILL be after the work is completed. Also, all of this can be completed in one transaction with between a 3.5% and 5% down payment, or if you already own the home you wish to renovate this can be accomplished with all costs incorporated into your new loan.  

The Renovation option can also be successfully used by progressive listing agents who perhaps have a dated listing with linoleum floors, wallpaper in every room, a 1950’s pink bathtub, and tile etc. Market the home and provide potential buyers looking at that home with the great backyard in just the right school district, as what the house CAN be, not what it is right now! 

As a local mortgage banker, we specifically offer five variations of the renovation program. There are two types of FHA’s 203k which require a down payment of 3.5%. For our nation's Veterans, there is a VA Renovation option that requires no down payment. Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle option allows for much higher loan amounts than FHA and enables luxury features to be incorporated in your remodel, but still requires only a modest 5% down payment. First Integrity Mortgage has even taken this last product one step further and created a renovation program we refer to as Design Plus.

Design Plus starts with the foundation set forth by our very well-known Power Plus program that combines 1st and 2nd position liens to 1) either avoid costly mortgage insurance without having to make a 20% down payment, or 2) purchase a much more expensive home than conventional lending guidelines allow, all while still producing only a 5% down payment. The Design Plus incorporates Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Renovation program that provides for a loan amount up to $484,350 (increased for 2019) and a 2nd position lien up to an additional $250,000. In essence, this program can allow a homebuyer (or a current homeowner) to renovate a home with combined loan amounts up to $734,350….all with a 5% down payment (or 5% equity in your current home), no presence of mortgage insurance, AND the rate of both loans are based on the current market 30 year fixed rate. 

Please give First Integrity Mortgage a call today, and we’d be happy to go over these options with you in detail, lay out a timeframe for lending and renovation completion, and get you on your way to having a home in that perfect neighborhood, that’s designed and decorated just the way you want it. 

If you have questions about improving or updating your home or know someone who is and would like more information on any of the renovation loan program, please contact Jeremy Durham at JDurham@firstintegrity.com or 314-856-5626, NMLS# 989777.


By Kiara Johnson

This is, by far, one of my favorite times of the year! It’s the time of year where most people come together and realize how important it is to be thankful for the many blessings we have. We know everyone’s story is different, and no one is dealt the same hand. This is why it is so important for us to give back while we can. 

Here at First Integrity Mortgage Services, we don’t wait until this time of the year to show support to our community. This is something close to all of our hearts and an ongoing trend year round. Once a quarter, First Integrity Mortgage picks an organization to give back. Money is raised among the employees and donated at the end of the quarter. The organizations chosen are usually near and dear to the employees here.

In 2018 the organizations were the following: 


1st Quarter 2018 – A Safe Place


2nd Quarter 2018- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)


3rd Quarter 2018- ABC Brigade


4th Quarter 2018- Pink Angels

Although the majority of our donations come from our employees, everyone is welcomed to participate. If you would like to donate to FIMS current organization of choice, feel free to contact our office at 314-878-7900.

Backstoppers is another organization FIMS holds close to heart. Police officers, firefighters, and EMS workers continue to face significant challenges and make sacrifices for our safety every day. Supporting Backstoppers is one of our ways of saying “Thank You.” We give a $750 credit for every Backstopper loan we originate. The borrower receives $500 off closing cost, AND we donate $250 to the organization. 
We don’t stop there! Every year, in April, we host a Trivia Night in support of Backstoppers. 

Our first year in 2016, we raised approximately $8,000.
Our second year, we took it to a new level and raised over $16,000!  We didn’t stop there. In 2018, we hit a record of $22,000!!!  Everyone is welcomed to attend our trivia night. We will send out the details in early 2019.

Another group that we like to show our appreciation and support to is our Veterans, the individuals that have fought for our country and for our freedom definitely deserve a break and some recognition. Every VA loan that is originated, we waive our origination fee.  Just a simple way of saying “Thank You” and we appreciate everything you have done. So as we go into the holiday season, let’s show what the season is all about…Love, Peace, & Happiness!

If you would like more information or have any questions, comments, or concerns, please reach out to Kiara Johnson, NMLS# 869292 directly at kjohnson@firstintegrity.com or 314-568-6389. 
Happy Holidays!


By Jeremy Durham 

When you decide it’s time to begin searching for your first home, a step-up home, or even a downsize home, you should be provided with a number of loan program options and consulted on which best suits your specific personal and financial life. If you are or have been a member of our United States Armed Forces, you have access to a program that the majority of home buyers do not. A VA (Veterans Administration) Loan is reserved for Regular Active Duty, Retired Veterans, and Reservists who have completed 6 years of honorable service. 

Why would a VA Loan benefit me? 

Through the VA Loan program, a veteran is eligible for a 0% down payment loan, with NO monthly mortgage insurance! As this loan program is insured by the Department of Veteran Affairs, the interest rates are significantly lower than the rates offered on conforming loans as well. There is a popular misconception that VA Loan eligibility may only be used once, and this is inaccurate. While a veteran may only own one, owner-occupied home with a VA loan, you can sell a current home and use a VA Loan to purchase your next home, as long as you do not own two houses at the same time secured by a VA Loan. In addition to the Mortgage Insurance free loan and reduced interest rate, First Integrity Mortgage Services also waives our traditional $985 Commitment Fee at the time of closing out of respect for a veterans service to our country. 

Checking on Eligibility: 

If there are any questions regarding your eligibility for a VA Loan, I would be happy to request your Certificate of Eligibility from the Dept. of Veteran Affairs. I would just need a copy of your DD214 to get that started.  

VA Funding Fee:

While the VA Loan program does not involve mortgage insurance, veterans do need to be aware of the one-time VA Funding Fee. This fee is charged at closing on both Purchase and Refinance transactions, is rolled into your loan amount, and is paid to the Dept. of Veteran Affairs. The Initial Use VA Funding Fee is 2.15% of the loan amount (assuming $0 down payment) for active duty service members and 2.40% for Military Reservists. This percentage does decrease in the event a down payment is made by the veteran(s). 

After your first VA Loan, any additional VA Loans taken out will involve Subsequent Use VA Funding Fee of 3.30% regardless of Regular Military or Reserve status. A veteran can also refinance the balance of their VA Loan to reduce their interest rate with a VA IRRRL (Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan) with a .5% VA Funding Fee (this is for Rate & Term refinances only and not Cash Out refinances) and is designed to be Much more streamlined than an initial VA Loan. 

If you are an eligible Veteran or knows someone who is and would like more information on the VA loan program, please contact Jeremy Durham at JDurham@firstintegrity.com or 314-856-5626, NMLS# 989777.


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.


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