Choosing a Mortgage Professional in St. Louis, MO 

Life Is...

Christine Elbert Home Loans in St. Louis By Christine Elbert 

Life is all about choices. Choosing the right lender can be the difference between an easy, smooth closing or…something else. How does someone know what Lender to choose? There are so many different places and so many different styles of business. Internet loans? Call Centers? Local bank?

These are some of the options, but we at First Integrity believe there is a lot more to a good mortgage company besides a hefty marketing budget.

So what would make a great Lender?

First Integrity Mortgage Services believes it comes down to one simple concept. Provide the best possible options and personal service to every single one of our clients. That part is simple, what it takes to do that is not.

It takes a local Mortgage bank, a company that controls its own funds so on closing day you are not waiting for a wire from someone over in Seattle, your banker, your money, is right here so we know closing and funding your loan will be no problem.

It takes a company that believes in rational lending (a First Integrity term founder Joe Bayer Sr. coined referring to us simply using our brains). First Integrity still takes a common sense approach to loan approval. Not everyone fits in the same little box. A good mortgage company believes boxes are for moving day.

So how do you create that company?

 It starts with the people. First Integrity has a handpicked staff who are committed to providing the very best in mortgage service. With over 400 years of combined mortgage experience, First Integrity has created a small and powerful mortgage company. You don’t have to be big to be good.

So what about the process?

Joe Bayer Sr. answered that question a few years ago by designing a loan process unique to the mortgage industry. By breaking away from the “assembly line” style of loan approval followed by the industry, First Integrity created a new and better path to home ownership. Instead of an assembly line of 5-6 different strangers working on your loan, at First Integrity you have a 3 person team committed to knowing you and knowing your loan. Your loan officer, Loan Coordinator and underwriter all work as a team to make sure your loan goes through correctly and quickly.

At First Integrity Mortgage, we believe in the 3 Pillars – it comes down to People, Pricing, and Products.

We’ve created the perfect team, we offer some of the best competitive pricing in the area and have a vast range of mortgage products, some unique only to First Integrity, that we can offer our clients the best way to own their home.

So Why First Integrity Mortgage Services?

We believe we are the best possible choice for those clients who want personal and professional service. Add to that the widest range of products, highly competitive pricing and a system designed to simplify the loan process and you have a solid, reputable mortgage bank.

You deserve a mortgage bank that works for you. First Integrity delivers.

We Care! We Think! We Deliver!

Christine Elbert is a Senior Mortgage Banker with more than a decade of experience in the industry. For questions or comments about this article, Christine can be reached at or 314-495-1865 NMLS# 238515.

The Home Buying Process in St. Louis, MO

David Puzniak Dave Puzniak Homes Loans in St. Louis

In the 1960’s, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote these lines for a song, “The long and winding road, that leads to your door, will never disappear.”  Contrary to popular belief, the song, “The Long and Winding Road” is not about Lennon and McCartney’s first home buying experience, but it does mirror the path all homebuyers must follow in order to go from initial decision to own a home to actually buying and closing on the home.

Ideally, the home buying process starts by visiting with a credible lender who can provide information on the various mortgages available and help make sense of all the options. A good lender will want to discuss financial goals, family goals, and more in order to offer a program that is specifically designed for the borrower’s unique needs and wants.

Once a home to purchase decision has been made, it’s in the interest of the borrower that a complete preapproval is performed. This will include checking credit history and submission of income and asset information. The lender will then analyze all of the documentation, identify any pitfalls and work to be completed in order that the borrower is fully prepared when the right home is found. THIS IS A PREAPPROVAL; it is a thorough review of credit, income and asset documentation. It is important to obtain a preapproval and not a prequalification.

A prequalification is simply a credit report and a verbal acknowledgment of income and assets. Often, online lenders will ask borrowers to simply complete an online form and do NOT collect any documentation to support the income and asset levels shared on the forms. Without the documentation, the figures are simply opinions.

Once a price range is established, it’s time to seek out the advice of a real estate agent. Friends and neighbors can be the best resource for finding a real estate agent, as they have had direct experience with the Realtor’s® attitude and qualifications. Lenders can also be a great resource, as they have had direct experience with various Realtors® in their region. 

Smart borrowers will interview a few agents to ensure they are in tune with their wants and needs. It’s also recommended to share search information with the agents and to share all the desired elements for the home to be purchased - the number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, the need for a garage, the need for a specific school district, handicap accessibility, etc.  These factors and much more will be taken into consideration by the real estate agent while helping a borrower find a home.  The Realtor® should also provide valuable insights about the neighborhood and suggest borrowers drive through the neighborhood at various times of the day/night/weekend in order to get a feel for the area.  

When searching for a home, make sure to introduce the Realtor® chosen to the lender.  A great working relationship between the borrower, real estate agent and lender keeps the lines of communication open and helps to move the home buying process in the right direction.

The Home Buying Process has many different players. If the long and winding road is well navigated, at the end of the journey, a HAPPY HOME is found!

For any questions or comments, David Puzniak can be reached at 314.486.2652 or

David Puzniak

Senior Mortgage Banker

First Integrity Mortgage Services

NMLS #559106 


 Reverse Mortgage in St. Louis, MO 

Reverse Mortgage in St. Louis By Dave Mattull

First—Am I Eligible?

To be eligible for a reverse mortgage, you must:

  • Be at least 62 years old
  • Live in the home as your primary residence
  • Have sufficient home equity
  • Not be delinquent on any federal debt

Also, your home must:

  • Meet FHA (Federal Housing Administration) property standards
  • Be one of the following property types
  • Single-family home
  • Two-to four-unit home with one unit occupied by the borrower
  • FHA-approved condominium

How Much Money Can I Get?

This depends upon a number of factors, including the age of the youngest borrower or non-borrowing spouse, your home value, the amount of equity, FHA lending limits, the current interest rate, and the reverse mortgage product and payment option you choose.

Using Home Equity as a Retirement Asset:

Why should I consider a reverse mortgage?

Your retirement funds may come from savings, investment income, and Social Security. But now, there’s another source that may help you complete the longevity planning puzzle. Reverse mortgages are becoming increasingly recognized by homeowners and financial advisors as a smart and safe way to access an important retirement asset: Home Equity. 

A reverse mortgage could help you live more comfortably and be more financially prepared for the future.

For example, you can use a reverse mortgage to:

  • Avoid selling investments at a loss in a “down” market
  • Establish a “stand-by” line of credit that you can tap as needed. Unlike a traditional Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), a reverse mortgage line of credit cannot be reduced or revoked, as long as the terms of the loan are met. And the unused line of credit grows over time.
  • Supplement retirement income
  • Delay collecting Social Security, for a larger monthly benefit
  • Pay for medical or long-term care costs
  • Finance the purchase of a more suitable home, with no monthly mortgage payments

Among the benefits of a reverse mortgage:

  • The ability to use your home equity to help you maintain a more comfortable standard of living, in your own home
  • Great flexibility. You can choose to take your proceeds as a line of credit; monthly advances for a set period of time; a monthly stream of funds for as long as you live in your home; a lump sum; or a combination of these options.
  • No monthly mortgage payments. If you qualify and have an existing mortgage, home equity loan or any other type of debt, you can pay it off and reduce your monthly expenses. Or, if you own your home free-and-clear, you can get the additional funds you need with no minimum monthly repayments required. (As the homeowner, you remain responsible for paying property taxes, homeowners insurance, and homeowner’s association dues if applicable.)
  • Opportunity to have funds for travel.
  • A cushion for the unexpected.

Remember:  You still own your home and you can stay in your home as long as you want or you can sell the home to anyone and receive any remaining equity after the loan is paid off.

For any questions that you may have contact SVP Dave Mattull


Dave Mattull

Senior Vice President

Reverse Mortgage Specialist

First Integrity Mortgage Services

Cell:  314-570-4970

Office:  314-878-7900

Fax:  314-878-5636

NMLS  #241253


Home Loans & Downpayments in St. Louis

Kiara Johnson Home Loans in St. Louis By Kiara Johnson 

A home purchase is in your future, NOW is the time to start thinking about a down payment. When considering buying a home, the down payment amount plays an important role. So, what is a down payment? 

A down payment is a percentage of the home’s purchase price, which is paid upfront, in order to obtain home financing; it’s viewed as an investment, from the buyer, in the home. While there are programs that have little to no down payment requirements, it’s always wise to have money set aside when purchasing a home. A home is typically one of the largest lifetime investments, and it is considered best practice to begin with money down.

While there are many ways to gather a down payment, here are 5 of the most common methods: 

1.    Tax Time Baby! Over 80% of tax filers are expected to receive a tax refund this year. Why not use that nice refund to help purchase a dream home? 

2.    401K or other investment accounts. A retirement and/or investment account is a common source for a down payment. Of course, consult a financial, tax, or legal advisor before withdrawing or making any decisions about investment accounts. 

3.    Down payment assistance programs. There are county and state programs designed to help homebuyers get into a home through assistance with a majority of, if not all of, a down payment. There may be credit, property, and/or income limitations to these programs. Check with a loan officer for eligibility. 

4.    Gifts from Relatives. Sometimes family can be of help; it’s common for parents to assist their children in the purchase of a home. As long as the assistance comes from a relative and the funds provided are truly a gift (no repayment is intended nor required), it is an acceptable source for a down payment. 

5.    The Famous Power Plus. This unique product can only be found at First Integrity. Not only will it reduce the down payment to only 5%, it can also eliminate PMI without taking a rate hike for the program. WOW!!!!!!

 The best down payment option will vary from buyer to buyer and will depend on their current financial situation. Regardless of the method, set up a consultation with a lender to discuss all options. Creating a clear and concise action plan will make the home buying process easier.

Licensed mortgage professionals at First Integrity Mortgage use their experience, expertise, and the special programs available to discover your goals, present multiple relevant options, and recommend the program that best meets YOUR needs!
Don’t sell yourself short. Call today to start your home buying path!

Kiara Johnson
Office phone number: 314-878-7900
Cell phone number: 314-568-6389
NMLS# 869292

First Integrity Mortgage Services is a locally owned mortgage banker located at 77 West Port Plaza, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63146, NMSL# 276593.

Visit us today at and see the difference!!

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Mortgage Interest Rates & Home Values in St. Louis 

By: Tim WhitmireTim Whitmire Home Loans in St. Louis

Thankfully mortgage interest rates are still very low, but up from their lows, and homes are still reasonably priced.  But you have undoubtedly heard about interest rates rising and you also have likely noticed home values increasing in your subdivision.  Interest rates have increased approximately 0.75% over the last few months and according to data the Mark and Becci Real Estate Team has gathered from the MLS, values of single family homes and condos in St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and the St. Charles area have increased a combined 7.7% over the last year.  Many expect both interest rates and home values to continue to increase.

Mortgage Interest Rates

Mortgage Interest rates are largely driven by economic data and reports such as jobs reports, inflation, unemployment rate, and consumer confidence.  Mortgage interest rates generally increase with positive economic news and decrease with negative economic news.  Other factors such as the Federal Reserve raising short term rates and the sale of mortgage backed securities play a role.  Recently economic reports haven’t been excellent but have improved compared to what they had been and the Federal Reserve is expected to raise short term rates and also slow down their purchases of mortgage backed securities.  Given the current environment we are in and recent trends, I expect mortgage interest rates to slowly climb throughout the next 12 months.

Home Values

My co-workers and I along with others in the mortgage industry have been very busy preparing pre-approvals for potential home buyers over the last few years and there has been a constant theme with the feedback pre-approved home buyers have shared.  There is a lack of inventory of desirable homes.  Homes in the hottest markets many times get multiple offers from pre-approved buyers within the first few days of being on the market.  The average days on the market is down 8.1% over the last year.  The simple laws of supply and demand have allowed home values to increase over the last few years and there is no sign of it slowing down any time soon.

Home Affordability

The combination of interest rates rising and home values increasing effects home affordability.  With interest rates climbing and home values increasing now is a great time to purchase your first home or to move up into your next home.  Consider the following scenario to illustrate what a difference a year can make when interest rates and home values are both on the rise:


                January 2016                                                                                    January 2017

$200,000 Purchase Price  ===è 7.7% Increase in home values      $215,400 Purchase Price

$190,000 Loan Amount (5% down payment)                         $194,398 Loan Amount (5% Down)

3.5% 30 Yr. Fixed Rate             ===è .75% increase in rates                       4.25% 30 Yr. Fixed Rate

$853.19 Monthly Payment + Escrows for taxes, insurance, PMI       $956.33 Payment + Escrows


The same buyer purchasing the same home now has a monthly mortgage payment that is $103.13 higher than if they would have purchased the home one year sooner.  Last year was a phenomenal time to purchase a home.  Historically speaking mortgage interest rates are still very low but rising and homes are still affordable but values are increasing.  It is still a fantastic time to buy a home and Now is the time to do it!

Licensed mortgage professionals at First Integrity Mortgage use their experience, expertise, and the special programs available to discover your goals, present multiple relevant options, and recommend the program that best meets YOUR needs!

Don’t sell yourself short. Call today to start your home buying path!

Tim Whitmire

Office phone number: 314-878-4900
Cell phone number: 314-402-8184

NMLS# 279207

First Integrity Mortgage Services is a locally owned mortgage banker located at 77 West Port Plaza, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63146, NMSL# 276593.

Visit us today at and see the difference!!



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