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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


Get 20% Off & Get Ready for the Breakaway Music Festival

August 21st, 2017 by Ima Admin

Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids is proud to be a part of the Breakaway Music Festival, which has expanded north this year to bring a new music experience to the emerging venue of Benknap Park. Featuring a well-curated musical lineup of national and local artists, local vendors and food trucks, and more, Breakaway is your release from the everyday life.

As supporters, we’re also giving 20% off discounts to all at the link below.

The lineup includes EDM artists such as Zedd and Travis Scott. The event could turn out to be one of the largest outdoor festivals in Grand Rapids.

Tickets: Inlanta customers can enjoy a special discount at this link only: INLANTA 20% DISCOUNT TICKETS

The Schedule:

  • Friday, August 25: Doors open at 2PM. The event runs until 11PM.
  • Saturday, August 26: Doors open at 2PM. The event runs until 11PM.

 

After parties follow at the Intersection. The Countdown is On!

For more details, visit: http://breakawaymichigan.com/

 

 


4 Safety Tips for Your Michigan Summer

August 18th, 2017 by Ima Admin

Keep Yourself, Your Family, and Your Home Safe

Summer is a great time for vacations, outdoor activities, and family gatherings. However, the summer heat can add risk to everyday activities. Michiganders know how tricky the summer weather can be – sometimes a cool morning will give way to an unexpectedly hot afternoon!

Whether you’re planning on buying a home in West Michigan or have recently moved to the area, here are some tips on how to keep you and your home safe. Simply use the arrow controls in the top right, swipe, or click & drag on the images to move through the gallery.






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!


West Michigan’s Featured Home Loans

July 11th, 2017 by Ima Admin

Which Michigan Home Loan Program is Right for You?

This month, we’re featuring five of our best loan programs to help you on your path to home ownership. Inlanta Mortgage is here to get you the best mortgage deal and educate you on the different types of home loans available in Michigan. We highlight the distinctions and complexities so that you can make an informed decision. Check out these five popular programs to see which one is best for you!

Simply use the arrow controls in the top right, swipe, or click & drag on the images to move through the gallery.

#1: FHA Loans

  • No down payment
  • Gift funds allowed
  • Cash reserves not required
  • Flexible credit history requirements
  • Closing costs can be paid by seller
  • Flexible debt-to-income ratios
  • Streamline refinance available

#2: Jumbo Loans

  • No mortgage insurance and regular mortgage insurance options
  • As low as 10% down payment
  • Purchase and Rate & Term Refinance
  • Fixed and Adjustable Rates Available
  • Single family residence, duplexes, town homes
  • Cash-out option for single-unit primary residencies only*
  • LTVs up to 90%

*Max cash-out is $250,000.

#3: Renovation Loans

HomeStyle

  • Make renovations, repairs, or improvements totaling up to 50% of the as-completed value of property with first mortgage
  • No minimum renovation amount
  • Fixed and adjustable rate options
  • Private mortgage insurance

FHA 203k

  • Covers your purchase price and the cost of improvements
  • Credit requirements vary yet can be more flexible than with conventional financing
  • Low down payment
  • Gift funds allowed
  • Closing costs can be paid for by the seller

#4: USDA Loans

  • No down payment required
  • Closing costs can be financed into loan
  • 30-year loan at a fixed rate
  • Must buy home in USDA eligible area: town population under 20,000
  • Flexible credit history requirements
  • First-time home buyers eligible

#5: Veteran (VA) Loans

  • No down payment
  • No private mortgage insurance
  • Cash reserves not required
  • Closing costs and prepaid expenses can be paid by seller
  • Streamline refinance available

Get the Guide: Know the Score on Your Credit Score

June 27th, 2017 by Ima Admin

It’s one thing to know your numbers. It’s another to know what those numbers mean. Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids has just published a handy guide, “Understanding Your Credit Score,” to help consumers learn the ins-and-outs of credit scores and the impact on mortgage rates and program eligibility.

“Credit reporting is counter-intuitive. Often, it’s the solid, steady folks who are shocked to learn that while they may have managed their money admirably, their credit scores are quite a bit lower than they could be, and therefore their interest rates may be higher,” says Jonathan Arnold, Branch Manager of Inlanta Grand Rapids.

“Nine out of every 10 people we talk to can save tens of thousands of dollars in interest if they talk to us the moment the notion to buy, sell or refinance occurs to them. It’s important, and the sooner they see us, the faster we can help them boost their scores.”

Some of the Questions Answered In This Credit Guide:

  • Do lenders weight your credit report elements differently?
  • What scores are needed for each mortgage type?
  • How do government-backed lenders use credit scores?
  • How do student loans affect scores?
  • How should I prepare for a mortgage?
  • What are the “D0s & Don’ts” when a mortgage application is in process?

Follow this link to read the article and download a free PDF. Then talk to us to get advice to get the best mortgage rate with the best loan program for your unique circumstances.


4 More Tips for a Fun-Filled Michigan Summer

June 27th, 2017 by Ima Admin

Explore West Michigan’s Wonders

Lake Michigan’s coastline is beckoning – hit the road this summer and check it out! If you’re looking at homes in Grand Rapids, go a few miles further to discover the wonders that await you just outside the city. Head to the lake to take a swim, check out Michigan’s Adventure, or drive up the coast for boundless fun. Flip through our slideshow for some inspiration. 

Simply use the arrow controls in the top right, swipe, or click & drag on the images to move through the gallery.






10-Stop Roadmap to a Home Loan in West Michigan

June 16th, 2017 by Ima Admin

Get on the road to a new mortgage in Grand Rapids, MI!

Thinking about buying a new home in Grand Rapids or West Michigan? At a glance, the process of getting a home loan can look a bit confusing. Inlanta Mortgage is here to help with this handy guide detailing 10 key stops on your road to a new home, starting with pre-approvals all the way to close.

Simply use the arrow controls on the top right, swipe through, or click & drag to navigate the gallery:

#1: Get Pre-Approved

Submit your application and the documents needed to verify income, assets, and debts, including thirty days of recent paystubs, last two years of W-2s & two recent bank statements.

#2: Home Search & Offer

Your Realtor will help you find the perfect home. Once you’ve found your new home, your Realtor will show you comparable properties to determine the amount you want to offer.

#3: Purchase Agreement

Your Realtor will write up the contract for you and the seller to sign. A deposit is generally required. This agreement will outline all of the required dates, deadlines, and contingencies.

#4: Home Inspection

If the offer is accepted, a home inspection is next. Home inspections are not required but highly recommended. A home inspector will look for any issues or violations with the property.

#5: Applications & Disclosures

You will need to review and sign a number of documents, including your mortgage application and a Loan Estimate, which details the estimated costs of financing.

#6: Appraisal & Title

An appraisal (an estimate of property value) will be ordered to justify the purchase price. Also, a title company will be selected to research the property title.

#7: Homeowners Insurance

Proof of insurance and your first year’s premium paid in full are required prior to closing. We will contact your insurance agent for the invoice and verification of the amount of coverage.

#8: Final Approval

Underwriting will review all of the documentation n ecessary to approve your mortgage loan. Additional verifications may be necessary at this point. If all the documentation is acceptable, you will be clear to close!

#9: Closing Disclosure

You will get a final break down of all costs and money required at least 3 days before closing. At time of closing, you will need a government issued identification, as well as a cashier’s check or wire transferred funds for your closing costs.

#10: Your Loan Closing

It’s closing time! Did you bring your identification? Do you have a certified check to cover closing costs? During the closing, a representative from the title company will review all the loan documents with you. They will get signatures from both you and the seller. After all money is disbursed, the deed will then be recorded with you as the new owner of record!


Want to get started on your journey through the loan process and into a new home? The experts at Inlanta Mortgage in Grand Rapids, MI are here to help! To download a PDF version of this article, simply visit our Guides Section. Please feel free to Contact Us with any questions or to get started!


5 Tips for Summer Fun in West Michigan

June 16th, 2017 by Ima Admin

Five Fun Activities for One Memorable Summer in Michigan

Whether you’re a long-time resident of Grand Rapids or if you’re thinking of buying a home in West Michigan, summer is a great time to get outside and explore all of the fun things there is to do here. Residents and visitors alike enjoy short drives to scenic beaches, sprawling woodlands rife with trails, window shopping downtown, or just enjoying the pleasantly warm weather in the comfort of their backyards.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for your summer activities in Grand Rapids or West Michigan, check out the gallery below to see 5 fun things you could try! Simply use the arrow controls in the top right, swipe, or click & drag on the images to move through the gallery.







Join Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids at the Bissell Blocktail Party!

May 24th, 2017 by Ima Admin

Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids is proud to be a sponsor for the BISSELL Pet Foundation’s “Blocktail Party” benefiting animal welfare organizations in West Michigan and beyond! Jonathan & Michelle Arnold’s very own rescue dogs, Sierra and Maya, are “Blockstars” this year, as shown in the “family” photo above.

To celebrate their celebrity fur-babies, Inlanta invites YOU to bring your pooch to enjoy tasty ‘yappetizers’, a silent auction, and mingle with other animal lovers and their four-legged friends!

Last year, nearly 1,000 guests joined the fun on the lawn of Mangiamo, raising $555,000 and helping thousands of animals. BISSELL Blocktail Party proceeds help reduce the number of homeless pets through grants assisting spay/neuter programs, microchipping, adoption, and foster care services. We’re proud to be part of a pack that is devoted to making a difference in the lives of thousands of pets each year.

Silent Auction

The auction is a major attraction at the BISSELL Blocktail Party. Every year there are many one-of-a-kind items that help raise funds for pets in need. Check back at the Blocktail Party site for updates on auction items.

For tickets, to sign up for email, or to make a donation, visit the BISSEL Blocktail Party website at http://bissellblocktailparty.com/