Blog


By Tim Whitmire  Senior Mortgage Banker With First Integrity Mortgage Services 

Start with a solid plan today!

The vast majority of New Year’s resolutions have to do with health and finances.  We can’t help you eat healthier, exercise, or lose weight, but we can help you get on track to be financially fit with a refinance or by helping you prepare to purchase your first home or your next home in 2018.

The key to a smooth real estate transaction, whether it is buying your first home, your next home, or refinancing, is following a well-thought-out solid plan.

A successful purchase transaction starts well before looking at your first home.  An informed buyer first prepares by talking with their mortgage banker months ahead of time.  So many times home buyers wish they had done this or wish they had not done that.  We have a list of Do’s and Don’ts to share with home buyers looking to purchase a home in 2018. Call us for this FREE and simple guide.

We also help buyers understand their options with detailed loan analysis worksheets.  These worksheets include a complete breakdown of all costs associated with the transaction, cash needed to close, and a breakdown of what the monthly payments will be.  This helps home buyers establish down payment goals, which can be turned into a monthly or weekly savings plan.

Credit is also very important.  It is important to know your credit score and how it impacts your mortgage.  Even if you already have excellent credit, increasing your score can help you obtain a lower rate and save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.  A First Integrity Mortgage Banker can help you understand how to improve your score.  Viewing and having a full understanding of your credit months prior to your purchase while there is still ample time to improve your score can pay off in a big way.

Is it better to save for a larger down payment, or to use that cash to pay down debt and improve your credit score?  It’s important to get these answers before you begin shopping for a home.

There are many ways refinancing can help you meet your 2018 financial goals.  

With increasing home values, you or a friend or family member may be able to save money by eliminating Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) from your mortgage.  

Or, you may want to make home improvements.  Did you know that you do not need equity in your home to finance home improvements?  Call today and ask how. (314) 878-7900. 

With the Federal Reserve Bank raising short-term rates and Prime rate increasing, you may need help to pay off high rate credit card debt or you may want to pay off an adjustable rate second mortgage.

Refinancing can help you achieve goals of lowering your monthly payment, paying off your mortgage quicker, consolidating debt, lowering your rate, eliminating PMI, adding or removing someone from the mortgage, etc.  

It takes very little effort on your end to find out if you could benefit from refinancing.  A First Integrity Senior Mortgage Banker will ask the right questions to learn about your existing situation and understand your goals.  With this information, we provide a no cost, no obligation analysis to determine if you could benefit from refinancing.  Call Today! Tim Whitmire 314-402-8184 or timw@firstintegrity.com. 


Renovation Loans | Home Improvement Loans in St. Louis, MO 
By: Ryan Cox

Now is the right time to find that perfect home, make updates, improvements, or renovations so you enjoy them this summer.  Whether purchasing a home or wanting to upgrade your existing home, our Renovation loan programs allow a customer to build the costs of renovating into their mortgage and achieve two goals with one loan.  If you have found that home in the perfect location, but it’s not quite what you want:  Don’t wait, Renovate. Are you outgrowing your current home or wanting to upgrade dated items, but do not have enough equity built up or enough money saved?  Don’t wait, Renovate.


There is a lot of talk in the real estate community about low inventory on homes for sale.  That is true in some cases if you are referring to homes in new, pristine, move-in ready condition.  However, there is a great inventory of homes that are outdated or in a distressed condition in very desirable areas which are great opportunities to purchase and renovate.  These homes are typically being sold below market value so, not only can you get a great deal, but you can also include any and all updates, improvements, or renovations that you would like at the same time.  So, don’t wait until you find the perfect home. Turn any home in your desired area into the perfect home with one of our renovation or home improvement products.


Whether you are spending $15,000 for cosmetic repairs and updates, $150,000 for kitchen and bath remodels, or $300,000 to put on an addition and complete major renovations, we have the right renovation program that can help you accomplish all of your goals.  All of these programs work off the “after improved” value, not the “as-is” value which gives you credit for all the repairs, updates and improvements upfront. This allows access to the greatest amount of funds available. 


These programs are mainly designed to benefit home buyers and homeowners, but they are also a wonderful tool that can be used to help Realtors, Contractors, Investors, Financial Planners, and Insurance agents increase their business and help their clients reach their goals.  These programs work well on all owner-occupied properties, but they can also be usedto for second homes and even investment properties.
Choosing the right lender is as important as choosing the right loan program.  Both need to work for you today and tomorrow.  At First Integrity Mortgage Services, you can expect the best possible service to help you plan effectively, purchase confidently, and own successfully.

If you would like to learn more about our Renovation programs or see if one might be a good fit for your next project, please contact our Renovation Specialist (Ryan Cox) to set up a free consultation 618-581-3015 or rcox@firstintegrity.com NMLS# 1547172.


December 2017 Newsletter

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 & 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. 


1st Quarter 2017 – Team Activities for Special Kids (T.A.S.K.) & Gateway to Hope
2nd Quarter 2017- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)
3rd Quarter 2017- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
4th Quarter 2017- Amy’s Wish

Although the majority of our donations come from our employees, everyone is welcomed to participate. If you want to know 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 great challenges and make sacrifices for our safety every day. Supporting Backstoppers is one of our ways of saying “Thank You”. We give $750 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!  2018 we are looking to go above and beyond. Everyone is welcomed to attend our trivia night. More details to come early 2018. 

Another group that we like to show our appreciation and support to is our veterans. The individuals that have fought for our country and 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 Christine Elbert 

What’s a VA Loan?

The VA loan program is a specialized loan available only to eligible Veterans. The VA loan is insured by the Federal Government, though the loan is held and serviced by mortgage banks. The VA loan has a number of special features that truly make it a great deal for those who serve our country. AND, at First Integrity Mortgage we waive our lender fee of $985 for all veterans that are utilizing their VA benefit through a VA Home Loan!

What makes a VA loan different?

VA loans are unique in a number of ways that make it a stand-out loan. First, there is no required down payment from the Veteran. Second, there is no monthly mortgage insurance. This allows qualified veterans to qualify for a higher priced house with the same payment as perhaps a lower priced house on a conventional or FHA loan. The VA does have a funding fee charged to the Veteran, but it can be added to the loan amount and financed so no cash out of pocket. The seller is also allowed to pay up to 4 percent of the sales price towards the Veterans closing costs and prepaids.

What kind of VA Loans are there?

VA loans can either be a fixed rate for 10, 20 or 30 years, they also offer an ARM program (ARM loans are Adjustable Rate Mortgages. On VA Loans, ARMS are typically lower rate caps effectively lowering the risk of the market). 
VA loans can be used for a number of things. You can purchase your new home with a VA loan (as long as it is your primary residence) or you can also refinance your home using a VA loan. 

Refinances can be either rate and term (just the balance you owe and the cost to close) or a cash out (cashing out a portion of the equity in your house as well as refinancing the old loan).  VA Loans also offer the IRRL (Interest Rate Reduction Loan) refinance, where a refinance can be done on the principal balance with no appraisal. This loan has helped many Veterans take advantage of lower mortgage rates even if their property has lost value since the original purchase. VA also offers a renovation or home improvement loan product so with a VA loan you can improve the property you are looking to buy or already own and still take advantage of the VA loan program.

If you have questions about your VA eligibility, Veterans can go to the VA benefits website and request a COE (Certificate of Eligibility). Your First Integrity Mortgage Services loan specialist is also able to help with the COE, should you need it.

If you are an eligible Veteran or knows someone who is and would like more information on the VA loan program, please contact Christine Elbert at celbert@firstintegrity.com or 314-495-1865. 


Home Improvement Loans in St. Louis, MO 

There are many things to consider when deciding which loan program best suits needs of a homebuyer or homeowner looking to refinance. Home improvement loans or what those in the mortgage business refer to as Renovation mortgage programs have many benefits but are sometimes overlooked as an option. Let’s explore home improvement loans and discover the many benefits. 

Our Renovation Mortgage Programs allow homebuyers/homeowners to purchase/refinance a home plus make improvements. This is desirable for a number of reasons. 


•    There is one application, one loan approval, one closing and one monthly mortgage payment.
•    Financing is based on an appraiser’s estimate of “After Improved Value”.
•    Conventional, FHA, VA, and Jumbo loan options are available.
•    Homes in most any condition can be financed, including owner-occupied, second home and investment properties.
•    Renovation can include virtually any upgrade, repair or improvement purpose.

Who is most likely to benefit from a renovation mortgage program?


•    Buyers walking away from a house in their price range because it doesn’t have what they want even though it is in the neighborhood they desire.
•    Buyers not interested in a fixer-upper because they don’t know how they’ll finance the improvements.
•    Buyers trying to buy a home where current property condition does not allow for traditional financing.
•    Customers that currently own a home that they want to renovate and are looking for financing options.

What is the value of Renovation financing? 


•    Allows homebuyers to add their personal touch to the home.
•    Fulfills two needs — purchase or refinance and renovate — with one loan and one monthly mortgage payment.
•    Allows renovation to begin after closing.
•    Includes wanted and needed renovations such as additions, upgrades, energy-saving improvements, and handicap-accessibility modifications.  
•    Makes renovation costs more affordable by spreading them throughout the mortgage term.
•    Allows the borrower to complete renovations all at one time opposed to one upgrade at a time.

What value does Renovation financing bring to REALTORS?


•    Sets the agent apart from their competition.
•    Helps the Realtor® overcome the challenges of selling a home in need of repairs, such as aged homes or fixer-uppers.
•    Makes aged properties more marketable to a new generation of buyers that are interested in purchasing and remodeling homes.
•    Increases the number of potential buyers.
•    Sellers don’t need to make or pay for repairs prior to listing.

First Integrity Mortgage Services is uniquely able to deliver this loan product. We have a Renovation Specialist and a dedicated team (Coordinator, Processer, and Underwriter) with a focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience when using one of these products. If you think that a Renovation Loan might be right for you, or if you are a Realtor® interested in making this option available to your clients, contact us today! 


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