STEPHANIE RIO MACFARLAND | Reading Real Estate, North Reading Real Estate, Wakefield Real Estate


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Property buyers today may think of a credit union as an alternative form of lending and ultimately meant for people who don't fit the stereotypical borrower. But this assumption may a little unfair once you learn the facts. Credit unions present several unique opportunities that you simply won't find anywhere else. We'll give you both the good and bad, so you can make a better decision. 

A Non-Profit Oasis

As a non-profit institution, credit unions tend to have better rates than traditional banks. Plus, they're a little more personal than a regular bank in that they're investing in a single community as opposed to the whole country. So while you may not get the level of sophistication you would from a well-known bank, you will get the kind of personalized service that's hard to find today. 

Signing Up

Before you finance a property, you first need to qualify for your credit union. This essentially means proving you're connected to the credit union somehow. Often, it's based on where you live, but you may be able to join based on anything from your employer to your church to your family members. Before you dismiss your eligibility, talk to a credit union officer to see if there's a connection.  

Once you qualify for the institution, you'll need to become an official member. To do this, credit unions typically have its customers purchase shares in the organization. (These fees are generally affordable and they're the key to securing your membership. 

The Specifics

The practical advantages of a credit union mortgage are the flexible terms and requirements as well as the reasonable fees and rates. Plus, the credit union staff tend to take into account the relationship you've built with them. So while a national bank will encourage you to apply for a mortgage through the company, the fees may not change significantly from those of a stranger — regardless of your track record with the bank.

Why Skip the Credit Union

There are a few reasons not to finance with a credit union. For one, a credit union isn't going to have as many products as a bank would, which could inevitably cause you to miss out on a worthwhile opportunity. It's also likely to be a more traditional style of banking, meaning you may not have options for online banking. And as with a regular bank, a credit union may change leadership, which can, in turn, change the terms of your mortgage for the worse.

Regardless of where you finance, it's probably worth discussing your options with a credit union. As you shop around, you'll get a better sense of which products and terms are right for you. 


There are a number of programs, government-sponsored and otherwise, that are designed to help aspiring homeowners find and get approved for a mortgage that works for them.

Among these are first-time homeowner loans insured by the Housing and Urban Development Department, mortgages and loans insured by the USDA designed to help people living in urban and rural areas, and VA loans, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.


In today’s post, I’m going to give you a basic rundown of VA loans, who is eligible for them, and how to apply for one. That way you’ll feel confident knowing you’re getting the best possible deal on your home mortgage.


What is a VA Loan?

VA loans can provide soon-to-be homeowners who have served their country with low-interest rates and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).

If you’re hoping to buy a home soon and don’t have at least a 20% down payment, you typically have to take out private mortgage insurance. This means paying an extra insurance bill on top of your monthly mortgage payments. The downside of PMI is that it never turns into equity that you can then use when you decide to move again or sell your home.

Loans that are guaranteed by the VA don’t require PMI because the bank knows your loan is a safer investment than if it wasn’t guaranteed

VA loans may also help you secure a lower interest rate, or give you some negotiating power when it comes to discussing your interest rate.

Finally, VA loans set limits on the number of closing costs you can pay in your mortgage. And, if you’ve ever bought a home before, you’ll know how quickly closing costs can add up.

Who is eligible?

There are some common misconceptions about who can apply for a VA loan? So, we’ll cover all the bases of eligibility.

If you meet one of the following criteria, you may be eligible for a VA loan:


  • You’ve served 90 consecutive days during wartime

  • You’ve served 181 days during peacetime

  • You’ve served six or more years in the Reserves or National Guard

  • Your spouse died due to their work in the military

There are some restrictions to these eligibilities. For example, your chosen lender may still have credit score minimums.

Applying for a VA Loan

There are two main steps for applying for a VA Loan. First, you’ll have to ensure your eligibility. You can do this by checking the VA’s official website. Be sure to call them with any questions you may have.

Next, you’ll need a certificate of eligibility. The easiest way to acquire one is through your chosen lender.  If you haven’t chosen a lender, you can also apply online through the eBenefits portal, or by mailing in a paper application.

Once you have a certificate, you can apply for your mortgage and you’ll be on your way to buying a home.


Buying a home is a beautiful feeling, but dealing with the financial aspect of it can be tiring. Well, thanks to mortgages, the financing is no longer a headache. From conventional to Government-insured mortgages, homeownership is now a dream that can be turned into reality once you have done your homework, arrived at a budget, reviewed your credit and nailed down your down payment amount.


The America government is not a mortgage lender but has been helping many Americans become homeowners. How? Through government agency loans, namely:

- Federal Housing Administration, also known as FHA, loans

- The U.S. Department of Agriculture, also known as USDA, loans

- U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, also known as VA, loans

This article will cover FHA loans: how they work, who is eligible, and everything you need to know about it. 


What Is an FHA Loan?

FHA loans give borrowers who do not have a significant down payment saved up and don't have good credit the opportunity to own a home. Since its inception in 1934, the FHA has insured over 40 million home loans.


Types of FHA Loans

FHA mortgagee loans come in different forms. Each form is dependent on your assets, income, age, and current home equity, should any be present. There are seven types of FHA loans:

- Fixed-Rate Purchase Loan

- Adjustable-Rate Purchase Loan

- Condominium Loans

- Secure Refinance Loan

- Home Equity Conversion Mortgages

- Graduated Payment Loan

- Growing Equity Loan


Closing Costs

Like other kinds of mortgage loans, FHA loans come with closing costs. However, expenses may be different depending on lenders, market conditions, geographic location, and down payments.

If you wish to lower your closing cost, you can do so by increasing your credit score, shop through multiple lenders, check for settlement and title companies, or negotiate with the lender you've selected.


FHA Loan Pros and Cons

FHA loans have many benefits such as low down payment, better interest rate, and credit score flexibility. The only downside of FHA loan is that you have to get mortgage insurance that stays with you throughout the life of your FHA loan.


What You need to qualify for an FHA Loan

You will need some form of identification to begin qualifying for an FHA loan. Driver licenses, military IDs, passports, or any other kind of government-issued ID is an acceptable form of identification. You'll also need your bank statements from the last two months and investment statements from the last two years. Be sure to have at least one month of pay stubs available, as well.

If you run a business or you are self-employed, you will be asked to provide:

- Your current tax year profit and loss statement 

- At least two of your recent tax returns

Talk to a mortgage and loan specialist to get the process started.


Getting a mortgage is one of those things that everyone seems to have quite a bit of advice about. While people surely have good intentions, it’s not always best to take the buying advice of everyone you meet. Below, you’ll find the wrong kind of mortgage advice and why you should think twice about it. 


Pre-Approvals Are Pointless


Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can give you an upper hand when it comes to putting in offers on a home. Even though a pre-approval isn’t a guarantee, it’s a good step. It shows that you’re a serious buyer and locks you in with a lender so they can process your paperwork a bit more quickly when you do want to put an offer in on a home. 


Use Your Own Bank


While your own bank may be a good place to start when it comes to buying a home, you don’t need to get your mortgage from the place where you already have an account. You need to compare rates at different banks to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal on a mortgage. You’ll also want to check on the mortgage requirements for each bank. Different banks have different standards based on down payment, credit scores and more. You’ll want to get your mortgage from the bank that’s right for you and your own situation. 


The Lowest Interest Rate Is Best


While this could be true, it’s not set in stone. A bank with a slightly higher interest rate could offer you some benefits that you otherwise might not have. If you have a lower credit score, or less downpayment money, a bank offering a higher interest rate could be a better option for you. Low interest rates can have some fine print that might end up costing you a lot more in the long term. Do your research before you sign on with any kind of bank for your mortgage. 


Borrow The Maximum


Just because you’re approved for a certain amount of mortgage doesn’t mean that you need to max out your budget. It’s always best to have a bit of a financial cushion for yourself to keep your budget from being extremely tight. When life throws you a curveball like unexpected medical bills or a job loss, you’ll be glad that you didn’t strain your budget to the end of your means. Even though the bigger, nicer house always looks more attractive, you’re better off financially if you’re sensible about the amount of money you borrow to buy a home.


Deciding not to pay off ahead on your mortgage can be a decision made because you want to divert your cash to another investment. If you have an investment that is certain to yield interest or because you have a certain way you have planned your finances, paying the full mortgage earlier than due has no place on that list. 

Deciding to pay off or not to pay off early most times is an option because of inheritance proceeds, or life insurance proceeds. If you are in a fix about this decision, here are the reasons why you should not pay off your mortgage early.

Eliminates tax benefits

Owing on a mortgage with interest reduces your tax liability. Deciding to settle your mortgage payment will eliminate all tax deduction benefits. Taking advantage of these tax benefits as a borrower reduces your income on which tax is due and sometimes increases funds available for use.Higher return on investment If there is a guarantee that an investment will pay high interest, why would you want to tie down your money on a mortgage payment? Having other investments aside from your mortgage property is a smart decision to make, as multiple investments may yield more profit and, are a guaranteed way of having multiple streams of income.

For liquidity purposes

Some individuals always like access to cash at any time. For such people, the decision to pay off a mortgage early would only come after they have made all other payments including other investments. For people who value liquidity over an investment, it’s advisable to keep the mortgage as that might be a better option for giving them more cash on hand. 

You might have other debts

In this present generation, there is a lot of other debt to worry about aside from your mortgage. These other debts are some of which you incur from your daily living expenses and are more pressing to settle than your mortgage. Debts like your car loan typically have a higher interest rate than your mortgage and are not deductible from income tax. School loans, credit cards, home equity credit are all debts that should be paid off first before you consider early mortgage payment.

When you do not have an emergency fund

Having an emergency fund that can cover you for at least 12 months is crucial if you are considering paying off your mortgage. You do not want to put all your money on your property and later begin to ask for a home equity loan when unforeseen situations arise. 

Paying off your mortgage is a reasonable decision to make, but do not do it in such a way that leaves you financially crippled. 

Talk to your financial advisor about what works best in your situation for your financial future.




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