Mortgage and Home Loan Company in St. Louis Gives Back! First Integrity Mortgage Services Loans

By Michelle Lewis 

Here at First Integrity Mortgage Services, giving to our community is one of our core pillars, along with teamwork, integrity, and customer service! Commitment to our community evident daily by our leadership, within our culture, in our vision, and our core values. It is woven within the fiber of who we are. 

All company meetings begin in the same way, with us reciting these words, “Our vision is to lend a helping hand to all in our community.” Clearly, this is a pillar upon which we can set a firm foundation.  

And it’s not just lip service, either! We put our money where our mouths are! Well, technically, it’s donations given, raised, and time invested, but you get the drift! We give back in many ways, including volunteering, hosting events, holding food drives, donations of time, and even digging into our own pockets! Each of our employees is encouraged and supported by leadership to give back to our communities.  

We pick an organization or cause each quarter to support with donations. The organizations we choose are personally significant, have touched our lives and hearts in meaningful, inspiring, and heartfelt ways!  

In 2019, some of the organizations and causes supported were: 

BackstoppersPolice Officers, firefighters, EMS workers put their lives on the line for our safety and we are proud to support Backstoppers not only with our donations raised by our annually held Trivia Night but also via our Backstopper loan program.  

The Backstopper Loan Program: FIMS gives a $750 credit, the borrower receives $500 off of closing costs, and we also donate $250 to the organization for each Backstopper loan originated.  

Our Veterans: Another group that we so much appreciate, respect, and support is our Veterans. These individuals have fought for our country and sacrificed for our freedom, and we are forever indebted to them.  

In support of our Veterans, one of the organizations we raised donations for this year was the Sgt. Bam Foundation, whose mission is to bring our Veterans more peace of mind when they’ve returned home by raising funds to train and distribute service animals to our Veterans in need. 

The VA Loan Program: In addition to the VA loan benefits such as 100% loan to value and no mortgage insurance requirement, First Integrity goes a little further to show our respect and appreciation for our Veterans. For every VA loan we originate, we waive the $985 origination fee as a way of saying “Thank You.”  

Here are just a few other causes and organizations First Integrity Mortgage Services has supported: 

  • SSM Health Foundation: Donations provided paid for materials to make blankets for those undergoing cancer treatments or in hospice care. 
  • St. Joachim & Ann (Food Drive & Blanket Collection) provides many services to those in need, including food and warmth.  
  • A Safe Place is a local domestic violence shelter who provides services to meet the immediate needs of individuals and their children who are victims of domestic abuse.
  • Autism Speaks to support people with Autism, and TASK, which creates and supports team activities for special needs kids.

All of us are so proud to be a part of this company, which is more like a family. First Integrity Mortgage Services believes in giving back, in supporting the needs of our communities, and consistently upholding our core values. Our commitment to serving, to helping, to giving is just part of what makes our First Integrity Family so unique and special!  

If you would like to propose a charity that is near and dear to your heart, please share your story with me, Michelle Lewis, at or at 314-662-0364, NMLS# 640206.  

Veterans Mortgage in St. LouisVA Mortgage in St. Louis, MO  

By: Tim Whitmire  with First Integrity Mortgage Services in St. Louis  

I want to start with thanking our veterans and those who currently serve our country in the military. The VA mortgage, in my opinion, is the best mortgage program in the industry as it should be. It’s a benefit that has is earned by serving our country.

When most think of the VA mortgage, they think of 100% financing with no mortgage insurance (PMI). These are two significant benefits of a VA mortgage, but they aren’t the only two benefits. Interest rates on VA mortgages are lower than competing conventional mortgages, and a VA mortgage is still a great option even when making a down payment.

Even though VA Loan doesn’t charge mortgage insurance, they still have a substantial up-front fee called the VA funding fee. This up-front funding fee is a genuine fee, but it’s typically rolled into the loan and doesn’t increase the amount of out of pocket cash needed to close. The amount of this funding fee varies depending on your level of service, whether it’s the first use or subsequent use, and how much the buyer’s down payment is. VA’s funding fee may be waived if the buyer has a service related disability.

The funding fee is its highest when making no down payment and obtaining 100% financing. Making as little as a 5% down payment significantly reduces this fee. Making a 10% down payment reduces the fee even further.

Conventional mortgages generally do not have an upfront fee similar to VA’s funding fee. Furthermore, if the buyer can make a 20% down payment, conventional mortgages also have no mortgage insurance (PMI). Therefore, many consumers and loan officers automatically default to a conventional mortgage without even considering a VA loan when the borrower makes at least a 20% down payment. 

Although it is true that there are less up-front fees for a conventional mortgage than a VA mortgage, the interest rates for a VA mortgage are so much lower than a conventional mortgage that most of the time a borrower can save significantly more money with a VA loan over the life of the loan. VA mortgages also allow borrowers to obtain more of their home’s equity with a cash-out refinance than a borrower otherwise could with an FHA or conventional mortgage.

Whether you are looking to purchase or refinance a home and regardless of how much down payment you are making or how much equity you have in your home, veterans should always give VA mortgages consideration when financing a home. After all, it’s an earned benefit. I find that VA mortgages almost always provide a valuable option.

We have full underwriting authority for VA loans at First Integrity Mortgage Services, and we love serving members of our military and veterans. We’ve helped our heroes close on homes even as they’ve been deployed, via video conference! We also waive our standard commitment fee for veterans.

We would love to earn your business! Check out our reviews on Google, visit our website at, and call First Integrity today at (314) 878-7900.

Call Tim Whitmire today at (314) 402-8184 or email at, NMLS# 279207. Apply online at We would love to earn your business!

Renovation Loans in St. Louis Construction Loans in St. Louis, MO

By Ryan Cox - Senior Renovation Loan Specialist 

If you are considering building your dream home instead of buying an existing home on the market, it could surprise you to learn that you will not be getting a traditional mortgage. Alternatively, you’ll likely be getting a construction loan. For your benefit, I have put together some information to help you learn what construction loans are, how they work, as well as the pros and cons of using them to finance your dream home.

What are Construction Loans?

Construction Loans are higher-interest, shorter-term loans that are used to cover the cost of building or rehabilitating your home. Unlike a traditional home loan, which is based on the fair market value of the home and determined by the home’s condition in comparison to other recent sales, construction loans are based on what the projected value of the home will be once the work has been completed.

There are a few different types of construction loans that you can choose from:

  • Construction-to-permanent loans: These loans work well if you have definite construction plans and all your timelines in place. In this case, the bank will pay the builder as the work is being completed. Then, that cost will be converted to a mortgage at closing. This type of loan will allow you to lock in your interest rate at closing.
  • Construction-only loans: A construction-only loan must be paid off in full once the building process has been completed. This could be a good choice if you have a large sum of money to work with, or you are confident that the proceeds from the sale of your current home will cover the cost of the new build. In this case, if you need a mortgage to cover the cost, you will have to search for the lender yourself and also be approved another time.
  • Renovation loans: These types of loans can be used if you are considering buying a fixer-upper or a property that needs a lot of work. In this case, there are several different products that can be used to incorporate the projected costs for all renovations you plan on doing to the property, along with the purchase price, then everything is wrapped up in a mortgage. There will be one loan, one closing & one payment.

How construction loans work

Traditional loans are paid out by a mortgage company to cover the cost of the home in one lump-sum at closing. With a construction loan, payments are made in installments. A bank will pay the builder as different phases of the building process have been completed. The total cost is transferred to you once the entire project has been completed. These installments are called draws. Each draw will reimburse the builder for the costs needed to cover that phase of construction. Before each draw can be made, the bank will do an inspection to verify the estimated cost of that phase and to make sure all of the work listed has been completed. Since the financing of a construction loan has many variables, it is crucial to work with a good builder. You will want someone that is experienced in budgeting, scheduling and has the ability to work well with everyone involved in the process.

What are some benefits of a construction loan?

  • They are interest-only during construction: Since the loan isn’t paid out in full until all of the construction is complete, the bank doesn’t ask you to start paying down the principal until then either. During construction, you will only be expected to pay lower, interest-only payments on the loan, which will give you more time to save.
  • They have flexible terms: Though you will need to provide the bank with specific plans for your project, construction loans offer more flexibility in regards to loan terms and guidelines than traditional loans do.
  • The added scrutiny provides structure: Though added scrutiny may not seem like a good thing at first, during the building process, it can actually help ensure that your project stays on budget and schedule.

What are some disadvantages of a construction loan?

  • They are sometimes harder to qualify for: Since construction loans are flexible, they often come with higher qualifying standards in terms of credit and down payment. Typically, you will need a score of at least 680 and a down payment of at least 20%.
  • They have higher interest rates: Construction loans usually have variable interest rates that correspond to a certain percentage over the prime rate or the rate that the bank is offering. Example: if the prime rate is 4.5% and the loan rate is prime plus 2%, you would pay 6.5%.
  • Shorter-term loans can be risky: Especially if you are going for the construction-only loan. At the end of the construction phase, you will need to be able to pay off the loan in full. Even If your original financing falls through, you will still be obligated to pay off this loan.

For more information or questions about how Construction loans or Renovation loans could help you accomplish your future goals, please contact me, Ryan Cox, Senior Renovation Specialist with First Integrity Mortgage Services, NMLS# 1547172 at (618) 581-3015 or email  I look forward to helping you achieve your dreams!

Mortgages and Home Loans for Investment Properties in St. Louis

By: Jeremy Durham 

Many people realize the importance of investing, or more so, having a diverse portfolio of investments to protect against unexpected unfavorable market conditions. While many rely solely on 401k’s, IRA’s, mutual funds, etc., another option to expand the reach of your investment portfolio is through Investment Properties. I speak with many potential clients that have a tremendous interest in getting into this line of investing but need guidance and answers to their questions. That’s why I’m here! Let’s begin by discussing the types of available financing for your investment needs. Jeremy Durham First Integrity Mortgage Services


  • Conventional Lending – This is historically the most common method of financing for individuals interested in Turn Key Ready, Long Term Investments. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer 30-year loans at competitive rates (since these are somewhat risky, income-generating properties, rates will be slightly higher than what one would expect on a personal home) and will allow you to finance up to 10 properties through conventional lending means. Down payments are required and depend on the number of units (1-4) and the number of properties you currently have financed.


  • Investor Solution programs – These programs are slightly less common than conventional lending, but are very useful for the existing investor who has a very good accountant and writes off much of their earnings from their investment properties, and/or have somewhat lower credit standards than conventional programs, and/or allow for shorter terms out of bankruptcy, and/or no limit on number of properties financed, and allow for much higher loan limits than a conventional program limit of $484,350. These options also are Non-Income Qualifying as they are based on the Cash Flow of the property. This is huge for the investor that wants to build a portfolio of properties!


  • “Fix & Flip” Options – These options are also referred to as Hard Money Lending. They allow for funds to purchase AND renovate the subject property all in one transaction. Down payments vary and are influenced by the number of properties that you have “flipped” in the past and your level of experience (and be prepared to prove it). Many investors also don’t wish to be involved in a longer-term loan (6 months or longer) as they want to renovate and sell. This program allows for that. 


  • Cross Collateralizing – You might be thinking, “I have been doing this for ten years, and I’m sick of having 8-10 loans for all of my properties.” That is why cross-collateralization options exist. When you have a significant number of properties, you can roll all of your properties into one loan and enjoy the combined and considerable equity from your combined properties. While First Integrity Mortgage does not offer This lending option yet, I can recommend one of our professional partner banks or credit unions who DO offer this lending option! 


My name is Jeremy Durham, Sr. Mortgage Banker with First Integrity Mortgage Services in St. Louis, MO, and I would love to speak with you regarding your needs or questions about your options with investment properties! My contact information is or 314-856-5626, NMLS# 989777.

Refinancing in St. Louis, MO  

Here a Refinance, There a Refinance, Everywhere a Refinance!

By Tim Whitmire Tim Whitmire St. Louis, MO

Mortgage interest rates have come down to near all-time lows and home values have seen strong appreciation over the last few years. As a result, great opportunity exists, RIGHT NOW for many homeowners. Improving my client's financial position through refinancing has been part of what has made me a successful mortgage professional for closing in on 20 years. Here are the top three things to think about when it comes to refinancing your home loan.

Why Should I Refinance?

Depending on your short and long term goals, refinancing can help you lower your monthly payment, remove PMI (private mortgage insurance), reduce the term of your mortgage, build wealth quicker, finance improvements to your home, or consolidate other debt you may have. If you have a $200,000 mortgage and lower your rate by .5% you would save approximately $1,000 in interest the first year. This can be used to increase your cash flow by lowering your monthly payment, or you can apply this $1,000 in savings towards your monthly payments to build equity and pay off your mortgage quicker.  

Eliminating PMI can have the same impact. If you’ve owned your home a few years, you’ve paid your mortgage down a bit, in most cases, the value of your home would have increased, and you may have the equity needed to remove/eliminate PMI.  Just like lowering your rate, these savings can be used to lower your monthly payment or be applied towards your mortgage each month to pay your home off more quickly.

Financing expensive home improvements can be difficult and saving money for the improvements can be even harder.  Refinancing can be an easier and more affordable way to finance home improvements. Our special renovation mortgage program allows you to borrow up to 95% of your “as completed” future value of your home. For example; if the current value of your home is $200,000 and the value of your home after improvements will be $300,000, you can borrow up to $285,000 to finance home improvements.

When Should I Refinance?

You should refinance when the opportunity to save money or accomplish your goals presents itself. A year ago almost everyone believed rates were headed up, instead rates have dropped. This is a special opportunity to refinance and save money that hasn’t existed for a few some time now.  If you are considering refinancing solely to save money by lowering your rate or removing PMI it’s important to have enough savings to recoup any closing costs you pay within a few years. 

How should I Refinance?

At First Integrity Mortgage Services we offer no-cost mortgage check-ups. To make it happen, all we need is a copy of a recent mortgage statement. This allows us to compare what you currently have vs. what you possibly can take advantage of right now! We analyze your opportunity to save and present to you all of your refinancing options with no obligation or cost involved. We will let you know if it’s worthwhile refinancing or not. We make it very easy and we will only allow you to refinance if there is a true benefit to you!

Call Tim Whitmire today at (314) 402-8184 or email at, NMLS# 279207. Apply online at We would love to earn your business!

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