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Homeowner Tips

What do you need to know about homeowners insurance?

February 15th, 2021 by Ima Admin

Homeowners insurance protects your home and personal property as well as your liability from accidents that injure others or damage their property.  There are various coverage levels and costs which is where things can get complicated.
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New Hybrid EClosings!

July 15th, 2020 by Inlanta Staff

We are excited to bring you our new Hybrid Mortgage EClosing.  This process allows us to further practice social distancing by having most of the closing documents signed electronically, continuing a smooth and efficient mortgage process.  E-documents are reviewed in advance with any questions answered and the time spent in-person at the title company is greatly reduced. Read the rest of this entry »


Springtime TOP 10 Home Maintenance Checklist

March 23rd, 2020 by Inlanta Staff

Spring is here.  Seasonal Home Maintenance Time!

Your home is your largest investment and regular upkeep can lead to higher value in the future.  This Top 10 Spring Cleaning  List will keep your home well maintained, helping to save you from costly repairs in the future.

  1. Clean windows inside & outside
  2. Clean all screens, replacing or repairing any damage
  3. Visually inspect roof for missing, loose or damaged shingles
  4. Remove debris from gutters & downspouts
  5. Power wash windows & siding
  6. Touch up/repair damaged paint
  7. Fertilize your lawn
  8. Replace batteries in smoke & carbon monoxide detectors (check expiration dates on these as well)
  9. Change filter in furnace, air conditioner and dehumidifier
  10. Have airflow vents cleaned

Get our complete home maintenance checklist with additional tips and tricks below:

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    Why Paying PMI May Be in Your Best Interest as a First Time Home Buyer

    February 16th, 2020 by Inlanta Staff

    One of the biggest hurdles that First Time Home Buyers face is saving up for the down payment.  There are many misconceptions that home buyers need to have at least 20% down; which can add years to the buying process for the funds to accumulate.  When a home is purchased with less than 20% down there is required PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) that is added to the monthly mortgage payment.

    Paying PMI may be in the best interest of many first time home buyers due to the rising interest rate and home price environment we are currently facing.  Additionally, as a new home owner they can begin to build equity immediately instead of waiting for years to have the 20% down payment saved up.

    Take a look at the graphic below for the recent Home Price Expectation Survey, which shows an example of a home owner who purchased in January that would gain nearly $50,000 in equity over the course of five years based on the home price appreciation alone.

    So what does all this mean?

    As a first time home buyer, you should start a conversation now about all your mortgage financing options instead of waiting.  Our Inlanta Team can easily layout these options and put together a plan for what is best for your individual situation.  You may end up deciding to purchase right away or take some time to better prepare.

    Get a Free Guide For First-Time Homebuyers

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      TOP 3 Reasons to Stop Renting & Buy Your Own Home

      September 10th, 2019 by Inlanta Staff

      Is it time to leave renting behind and purchase a home to call your own?

      There are many advantages to becoming a homeowner in 2020.  We are sure you have seen the news, interest rates have dropped to all-time lows once again, making homeownership more affordable than many rising rent payments.  When considering buying a home you want to evaluate your current circumstance and stage in life.  Buying a home is not always right for each  situation. Read the rest of this entry »


      The Best Way to Use Your Tax Refund

      February 26th, 2019 by Inlanta Staff

      A Down Payment on a New Home is the Best Option for your Tax Refund!

      The tax season is well underway.  If you are receiving a refund, have you planned what you are going to do with it?  Utilizing your tax refund towards the purchase of a new home is a great long-term investment.  Typically, there is a minimum down payment of 3.5-5% on the purchase of a primary residence. The thought of this large down payment is one of the biggest challenges for home buyers to overcome.

      One benefit of tax season is being able to utilize your IRS or State tax refund for a down payment. In some cases a refund is also helpful to pay off outstanding debts or credit cards to improve credit or qualify for a larger mortgage.  The most important step is start a conversation, where we can review your situation to know the best way for you use your refund and get you closer to a new home. Read the rest of this entry »


      Do You Have the Best Mortgage Quote?

      August 28th, 2018 by Inlanta Staff

      Check Your Current Mortgage Quote

      Get a custom review of your current mortgage quote to ensure you are in the best mortgage for your individual situation.  Mortgage quotes are not all created equal.  It is important to take into account your goals today as well as in the future.  Check your current mortgage quote now!

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        Free Mortgage Calculators and Affordability Calculator with New Inlanta “IMhome” App

        November 28th, 2017 by Ima Admin

        Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids is happy to say “there’s an app for that!” with the release of its robust “IMhome” app, which features mortgage calculators and homebuyer guide information. Are you a first-time home buyer wondering what kind of mortgage payment you can afford? Maybe you’re in the market to refinance your home, and want to run some scenarios. Or you’re ready to move up to your dream home and would like to see what’s involved in getting a Jumbo mortgage.

        You can run scenarios for different types of mortgages, and save your calculations. The app, brought to you by Grand Rapid’s leading Mortgage company, will also allow you to upload documents if you decide to apply for a home loan, and will keep your communications organized with it’s simple, easy-to-use interface.

        Features of the IMhome Mortgage App

        Take a moment to scroll through these screen shots to see the different mortgage calculators available:

        • FHA Mortgage Calculator
        • VA Mortgage Calculator
        • USDA Mortgage Calculator
        • Conventional Mortgage Calculator
        • Jumbo Mortgage Calculator
        • Affordability Calculator
        • Amortization Schedule

        In addition, you’ll have quick links at your finger tips for:

        • Homebuyers Guides
        • Loan Application
        • Loan Status Updates every step of the way
        • Scan and upload documents securely
        • Easy Access to call or text your loan originator
        • Plus News, Guides and a Glossary of mortgage terms

        How to Install Inlanta’s IMhome Mortgage App

        Check out this quick video tutorial to help you get started.


        Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids Helps Veteran Journey to Homeownership

        October 17th, 2017 by Ima Admin

        Bryan Heath and his wife Danielle outside of their new home in West Michigan

        Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids recently had the pleasure of helping a local veteran on his quest for homeownership through the VA Mortgage program. Bryan has elected to share his story to raise awareness of the challenges vets face in financing homes and re-entering civilian life. If you know someone his story can help, please share this article.

        The Plight of Veterans

        • Homeless Vets: According to the National Coalition for Homeless Vets, the national average of veterans homeless on a given night is 39,471. Meanwhile, another 1.4 million vets are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions.
        • Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: According to Wounded Warrior, there are currently 433,000 veterans who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injury, and 13.8% of veterans who will be diagnosed with PTSD.
        • Suicide: According to an updated 2016 Study by Veteran Affairs, an estimated average of 20 veterans commit suicide per day in America – representing 18% of all suicides. A growing body of research suggests that stable housing may help reduce stress, which is an important aspect of suicide prevention.
        • Substance Abuse: While there is no definitive national statistic currently available, various studies suggest that substance abuse affects anywhere from 15% to 39% of the veteran population who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that substance abuse is on the rise.
        • Where to get help: Veterans Crisis Line offers text, chat and phone support plus features an online database of where to get direct assistance. Visit https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

        Far From Home

        For Bryan Heath, a home of his own would be his “safe place.” But finding that sense of peace and belonging was a long hike through dangerous terrain. The journey would span Afghanistan and the battlefields of Iraq, but little did Bryan know his gravest danger wasn’t on foreign soil. The perils facing veterans on home turf in the USA are multiple, and in some cases, can be just as deadly as engagement. Twenty veterans will take their lives today, according to Veterans Affairs research, and at higher risk of suicide are the thousands that suffer PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. A staggering 39,471 veterans across the country will be homeless tonight. (See sidebar.)

        An even larger number of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans will struggle with alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse to tame the ravaging horrors of war.

        When Bryan joined the Marine Corps right out of high school in 2002, he had no idea he’d face these perils when he returned to US soil.

        After boot camp, the young Grand Rapids man was sent to Afghanistan for his first tour of duty, where he served as a “Motor T” – marine-speak for transport driver.

        Pretty soon, the US was fully engaged in Iraq, where Bryan would spend two more tours that would leave him, and thousands like him, struggling with PTSD when he returned to civilian life.

        “I was anxiety-stricken. I’d shut down. I’d have cold sweats at night, flashbacks…” Bryan recalled.

        Kent County has the fourth largest veteran population in Michigan, estimated at 36,000. According to a report by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of between 11-20% of veterans who fought in the Iraq war suffer PTSD. Bryan would become one of those statistics.

        But before he knew of the struggle he’d face on his return and the haunting legacy of Iraq, he would be blindsided by a loss closer to home. Four days after his discharge, his mother died. Gone were his dreams of spending time with her, supporting her in her illness, when he got out. Those plans had sustained him through the worst times in Iraq. He’d been counting the days to see his mom again.

        “I was devastated. Why was this happening to me? My life became a whirlwind where I spent the next three years drowning in alcohol and living for the moment. If I wasn’t wasted, I didn’t feel comfortable,” Bryan recalls.

        Re-Entry to Civilian Life: From Jobless and Homeless to Moving Forward

        Bryan Heath and his family standing outside of their new West Michigan homeBryan’s experience seeking relief from the overwhelming anxiety and the night terrors of PTSD in the bottom of a bottle is not uncommon among vets. According to the National Veterans Foundation, one study estimated that 39% of Afghanistan and Iraq vets showed signs of substance abuse. Another study in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that 12-15% of 88,235 combat veterans deployed to Iraq reported abusing alcohol. A NIDA study estimated that 25% of vets aged between 18 and 25 exhibited substance abuse or mental health disorders, more than double the incidence of older veterans.

        “If I’d known then what I know now, I wish I’d have taken steps to get involved with the VA (Veterans Association) right then,” Bryan said.

        His path to sobriety and the development of coping skills for civilian life were both thanks to the help he received when he eventually reached out to the VA and joined support groups. That, and the enduring love of a good, strong woman, helped put him on a path toward stable employment and home ownership. But the road was fraught with the snowballing consequences of his early struggles when discharged.

        “In 2009, it was not a good economy. I was living paycheck to paycheck through a series of temp jobs,” Bryan said. “Survival was the focus, and my credit rating suffered.”

        Like many vets, he and his family were homeless, staying with friends and family for a few months. After that, it was a series of apartments and eventually a mobile home.

        At the time, homeownership seemed like an impossible dream. Meanwhile, four marines he’d served with had taken their own lives. That scared him more than anything. So too did a year-long separation from the woman that had become his wife, Danielle. When they reunited, Bryan knew he had to get serious about creating a stable life for himself and his family.

        “That pushed me to reach out to ‘the wizards’ at the VA. They truly do help. It’s all in how you deal with it,” he said

        For Bryan, ‘dealing with it’ meant doing some serious self-study in a range of group therapy settings, from AA to VA.

        “What I came to understand is that I wasn’t ‘owed’ anything. But I did have benefits, and I had to use them and put forth the effort. You’ve got to work at it,” Bryan said. “I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and develop new coping strategies.”

        Bryan caught a lucky break when he was offered an apprenticeship as a machinist at a local company committed to helping vets in 2011. Stable employment was the first piece of the puzzle that would later help him access a VA loan through the Jonathan Arnold team at Inlanta.

        After a rocky interlude early in his apprenticeship, Bryan returned to sobriety and reconciled with Danielle.
        “We were going to work this out. We knew we loved each other. We pinched every penny that we could. We didn’t want to live paycheck to paycheck. We wanted a place to call home.”

        The Path to Home Ownership

        The next step was to sit down with Jonathan Arnold, Inlanta VA loan expert and branch manager, to map out a strategy for restoring his credit in order to qualify for a VA mortgage.

        “I honestly thought he’d laugh at me. I felt bashful,” Bryan admits. But Danielle was adamant. They were going to do whatever it took to qualify.

        In Bryan’s case, that meant paying down debt to strategically improve his credit score, which had been battered during his struggle with PTSD and substance abuse combined with an unstable income. Danielle took the reigns and put him on “an allowance.”

        During the credit clean up process, the Heath family caught another lucky break.

        The score minimums for Inlanta’s government-backed loans, including the VA, were dropped from 620 to 581 in qualifying circumstances. The Heaths met those circumstances.

        “From day one, Jonathan and his team said they could get me there. I was very much amazed. I thought it was going to be much harder than it was,” Bryan said. “To me, it was a breeze. Everybody made sure we knew how to get something in when it was needed. They were top of the line, amazing,” Bryan said.

        “From day one, Jonathan and his team said they could get me there. I was very much amazed. I thought it was going to be much harder than it was,” Bryan said. “To me, it was a breeze. Everybody made sure we knew how to get something in when it was needed. They were top of the line, amazing,” Bryan said.

        Unlike many of his veteran friends who found qualifying for a VA home loan nearly impossible, he said his experience was “very smooth.” He credits this comparative ease to the pre-application guidance he was given.

        “Jonathan gave me a list outlining exactly what we had to do,” Bryan said.

        Together with an all-star effort from realtor Josh Livingston from JH Realty Partners, Bryan’s “home” team stuck with him through the first half of 2017 all the way to a June closing.

        Every day, Bryan and Danielle would drive past their dream home on their way to work, filled with anticipation. They were tired of rentals, trailer parks, and relying on the good graces of family members. Their dream was within tantalizing reach. They were packed up and ready to go two days before the deal closed.

        On closing day, as soon as they got the keys, Bryan, Danielle, and their daughter, Destiny, sprawled out on the bare living room, soaking in the joy of accomplishment and amazed that it had really happened. Django, the family’s American bulldog, tore around the huge, fenced backyard for an hour, reveling in his off-leash freedom.

        For Bryan, home ownership has brought another kind of freedom – freedom from stress, and a feeling of safety.

        “It’s alleviated a lot of my stress and tension. If you have PTSD or traumatic brain injury, homeownership is only going to help,” he said. “I’m more at home than I’ve ever been in my life.”

        In their short time in their new home, the Heaths have already hosted a family boxing party, and are looking forward to hosting their first Thanksgiving gathering, something they’ve never been able to do. Bryan doesn’t mind tending to his “honey-do” list. Like freedom, it’s been hard-won.

        “Having a place to go home to that’s yours…it’s the key to everything,” Bryan said. “It’s your safe space.”

        For others who are struggling as he did, Bryan wants them to know it’s important to reach out and receive support through the VA and the veterans’ community. It might feel like a long journey, but there’s light in the end. “There’s hope out there.”

        How to get help:

        Bryan has learned first hand that one of the most useful strategies for re-integration with civilian life and dealing with PTSD is to join veteran support groups and “talk it out.”

        If you’re a vet, consider reaching out to the local Veterans Administration at: https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/facility.asp?ID=429

        For additional support or to Donate to assist veterans, visit: http://www.westmichiganveterans.com/

        For veteran fellowship and outdoor recreation opportunities, Bryan is grateful to the Veterans and Sportsmen United, http://www.veteransandsportsmen.org/ 269.214.0835

        For information on AA, use the location finder available at: http://www.aa.org/

        For help applying for a VA mortgage or seeing if you would qualify, Contact the Jonathan Arnold team at Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids.

        For help finding a new home, Bryan highly recommends Joshua Livingston
        JH Realty Partners:  josh@wearejhr.com 616.550.2251


        Mortgages for Grads With Student Debt: 5 Tips From Your Future Self

        July 31st, 2017 by Ima Admin

        So, you’ve recently graduated from college and your world is unfolding. Maybe you’ve finally landed a good job in your field and are thinking about buying a new car or getting a nicer apartment, one with a view.

        Stop right there, says Jonathan Arnold, manager of Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids.
        Your future self would like a word with you.

        “We get so many calls from recent grads with student loans. After about 10 minutes of discussion, a scenario emerges: The caller has high loan repayments, car debt, credit card debt and zero in a 401k. This is where we try to explain how home ownership fits into the overall picture as it relates to their 20, 30 and 40-year positions in the world,” Arnold says. “So many lose opportunities to establish financial stability between the ages of 20 and 30. If only they could hear the advice their future selves would give.”

        Advice from Your Future Self:

        1. If you know you’re going to stay in the area for even a few years, buy, don’t rent.

        The hard reality that everyone faces is that you’re going to have to have housing one way or the other. It can feel overwhelming when you have substantial student debt. But instead of making your landlord rich, invest in an affordable property. The benefits are two-fold. First, you can deduct your interest. Secondly, over the next 10 years, you’re very likely to build equity.

        “If instead of renting, your present-self bought a house in this thriving market, in 10 years your future self might have 30k equity in addition to the tax write offs of interest and property taxes.”

        Inlanta Mortgage has programs that require no down payment. With some good advice and some tax return planning or family gifting, home ownership is more in reach than many grads realize.

        2. Don’t wait to meet your “significant other” to buy a house.

        The next reason young grads wait to buy a home is the traditional idea that they should wait until they’ve met their significant other. While pairing up does double what you can afford, it doesn’t make sense to put wealth-building on hold until the right guy or gal comes along.

        3. Don’t buy a new car, and don’t lease. Buy a second-hand car, cash.

        Stop and think before you finance a new car. However low the payments may be, those payments will affect your debt-load ratio in qualifying for a mortgage, and your return on investment on a new car is zero. Save the new car smell for your reward after you’ve spent a few years getting your financial feet under you by building equity and contributing to a 401k first.

        4. Manage credit wisely.

        Many grads think they won’t be eligible for a mortgage due to high student loan repayments, but in actuality, government-backed loan programs take repayment into consideration at a 1% of balance rate, even if its in forbearance. If your payments are current, and there’s room in your budget, student loan debt does not have to scuttle your homeowner dreams.

        The area some grads run into trouble with more frequently is actually credit card balances, ratios and repayment timeliness. Get familiar with how mortgage lenders view your score, and read Inlanta’s Guide to Credit as a primer.

        5. Invest in your 401k to strengthen your future fiscal freedom.

        Inlanta team members counsel young grads to plan on contributing to a 401k, and to include this plan when determining mortgage affordability. Working with a team member will help prioritize your best moves to build future financial stability.

        “Young graduates should be arming themselves with information to understand what their big-picture options are. We’re always happy to help put together a plan so they can proactively build their fiscal position,” Arnold says.

        So listen to your future self and start building that wealth today. Contact the experts at Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids to get started!


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