Your Local Michigan Mortgage Specialists

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.


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:


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/


Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids Sponsors New Breakaway Music Festival

May 22nd, 2017 by Inlanta Staff

BreakAway Grand Rapids music festival sponsored by Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids, MIInlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids is delighted to be a part of Grand Rapids’ new and promising Music Festival, Breakaway, slated for BelKnap Park August 25 and 26th.

The Festival is expected to draw record crowds with a Coachella-caliber lineup including chart throbs like Zedd and Travis Scott. Organizers currently project 10,000 visitors over the two days, which would make it the largest outdoor festival in Grand Rapids.

“Grand Rapids is a cool city, and we just wanted to help make it a little bit cooler,” said Inlanta manager Jonathan Arnold.

Stay tuned for the lineup, which will publish soon at http://BreakawayFestival.com, where tickets are on sale now.

Inlanta will be hosting special ticket giveaway promotions throughout the summer so stay tuned!

This just in: Check out the lineup!

This video will give you a glimpse of last year’s Breakaway Music Festival where Chance the Rapper headlined. 

Breakaway 2017 Date Announce

Breakaway Music Festival returns to MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 1-2!Breakaway is also EXPANDING to Grand Rapids, Michigan, set to take place on Aug. 25-26!Lineups coming next month. Pre-sale tickets are on sale Friday, April 14 at noon EST. Attendees of Breakaway Columbus 2016 should check their email for an exclusive pre-sale offer!

Posted by Breakaway Music Festival on Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Jonathan Arnold: Meet The Mind Behind The Mortgage Model

May 4th, 2017 by Ima Admin
Jonathan_MMLARisingStar-edit

Jonathan Arnold (Left) of Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids received the Michigan Mortgage Lender Association’s (MMLA) Rising Star award.

How do you turn the experience of buying a first home into a lesson in leverage and the power of investment? According to Jonathan Arnold, you teach your buyers to fish.

“I want to help people invest in real estate and build security. I am passionate about empowering people with information,” Arnold said. “Our industry has not always been as transparent with consumers as I’d like.”

Arnold is the Grand Rapids branch manager for Inlanta Mortgage, specialists in FHA and VA home loans, as well as Conventional, Home Renovation, and a full lineup of innovative mortgage products. He was recently fêted by the Michigan Mortgage Lender Association as a Rising Star during a ceremony held May 2nd.

How Arnold is Disrupting the Mortgage Industry

Considered by many in the industry to be a maverick in his approach to team-building, Arnold modestly shrugs off the accolades but becomes animated when discussing the root of his twin passions: changing the way that mortgages are processed by ‘pairing the talent to the task,’ and devoting resources to educate his clients.

His results have put his team in the top of Inlanta Branches for the third year in a row. That’s because his team produces almost three times the volume of the industry average. At the same time, the team devotes more time to the client experience and education.

“The difference is we really do treat our people like students and want them to learn. By educating our clients, they end up buying investment properties. They end up buying second homes. They end up doing well. It’s helping someone understand the philosophy of investing in real estate,” Arnold said.

Some might call these results magic. To Arnold, who was tracking mutual funds by the age of 8, it’s just math: incremental adjustments that net exponential results. The challenge was to find the right environment to put his innovative impulses to the test. In the early days, that proved a challenge.

Early Adventures On The Way to Leadership

Michigan Mortgage Lender Association Rising Star AwardAs a child, Arnold was easily bored, and folks marveled at just how much action he could pack into a day. For a time, it seemed he might follow his father’s footsteps in the finance industry, given his facility with numbers. But his path to the mortgage industry was anything but a straight shot; teen rebellion scuttled an early start.

“I’ve learned a lot in life, often the hard way. But my experiences are where I’ve forged my passion for helping my clients build a solid foundation. I know how important it is. You need solid ground under you to weather the storms,” Arnold says.

Arnold is no stranger to hard labor. One of his early full-time jobs after a stint in the service industry was running utility cable for an electrical company on a Kent County Airport project. He and summer college interns from across the state carried giant bundles of heavy cables down through foul subterranean tunnels under the runway. The 75-hour work week and the back-breaking nature of the work prompted Arnold to realize he enjoyed interacting with people more than cables and tunnels.

In a characteristically strategic move, he determined he’d rather work in automotive sales, where he sensed his potential as a high-volume producer. He networked his way into a large local dealership and began breaking sales records. After a time, he realized that while he enjoyed helping consumers navigate options, he could have a much bigger impact in the mortgage market. There, the deals were complicated and good stewardship and advice could make a lasting difference in someone’s life. Arnold loved a challenge, and loved crunching the numbers. It was his version of Sudoku. Before long, he joined a consumer mortgage company and began to build his model for success.

Learning to Think Outside the Bank

“What I realized early on in my finance career is that inside of a corporate structure, there are always people who embrace the status quo instead of looking deeply at what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. People fear or resist change. They don’t ‘think outside the bank. Before I discovered Inlanta, with its inspirational leadership, I needed autonomy in the firm I was with, and the ability to build my own team on my own model,” he said.

In those days, Arnold’s burgeoning model resulted in a small, highly skilled team doing business differently than the rest of the company. Referral networking was key, but not just through the traditional channel of realtors. Arnold instead focused on building a core of divorce attorneys, chartered accountants, estate planners and other professionals in key advisory roles. The result was a department that grew organically at a time when the industry was imploding.

“Our clients trusted us because we guided them in the right direction,” he said. “They wanted us to look after their clients, family members, investors, because they knew we’d do right by them.”

Focusing on advisory-type professions is an example of an incremental change that netted exponential benefit in Arnold’s business model.

Even more importantly, the emerging model lead him to realize the importance of matching the talent to the task. You don’t build those kinds of relationships stuck behind a desk.

“I don’t want a sprinter running cross-country. I don’t want a deep thinker pushing paperwork. I want people who are the best at each task focusing on the task they’re best at. The solution is support. Our system is better – that’s why we’re winning business.”

In the Mortgage Industry, Consumer Knowledge is Power

Today this approach is the foundation of the Grand Rapids Inlanta branch. Arnold’s Team originate significantly more mortgages each month than traditional mortgage offices. But they also have a much larger support staff working with them to ensure that every excruciating detail is managed and that client communication and education is paramount.

There’s an important reason Arnold advocates treating clients like students. Looking back on the industry’s unfortunate sub-prime era, he says many homeowners made choices that were misinformed, with disastrous results.

“If they’d have had the information, they probably would have made different decisions. Instead, I saw people in mortgages that were essentially spring-loaded traps, mortgages that impaired their ability to weather fluctuations in the economy. I love to help people get out of those traps. I love helping people make good decisions.”

Despite the flaws in the industry’s current patch-work of mortgage regulation and compliance — which Arnold feels should be streamlined to reduce consumer cost — the one important achievement that arose with increased regulation was better lending practices. His only wish was that these practices were delivered through a uniform, common sense model of governance.

“The simplicity of controlling predatory lending should be the basis of the regulatory climate. You shouldn’t give money to people who can’t repay the money…or on an instrument that is destined to explode,” he said. “It’s that simple.”

Who Motivates The Motivator?

Arnold ‘sharpens his saw’ with inspiration from the likes of Tim Ferris and Dale Carnegie, coupled with a habit of devouring business books such as Good to Great and The Power of Habit.

At closer range, he credits the Inlanta family and company president, Nick DelTorto, as being inspirational and instrumental to his continued strategic thinking. He also feels blessed to have the great counsel of the people around him, from his parents to his new wife Michelle, who works in immunology and volunteers for animal advocacy.

“She’s the love of my life,” Arnold said.

Together, they enjoy water sports, boating, and making the rounds to their children’s numerous sporting events. His daughter Bella, 13, loves to sing, swim, play volleyball and basketball. Jackson, age 10, likes to play basketball, lacrosse and football.

In addition to mentorship and family support, Arnold thrives on the energy of client success.

One of his favorite stories is the one about a client who referred her son to him. Arnold helped the son and his wife come up with a game plan to lower their monthly expenses and better manage student loan debts. This led to the couple being able to purchase a home. When they felt financially secure enough to start a family, they named their firstborn son in Jon’s honor.

One of the most rewarding elements of his leadership at Inlanta is helping his team aspire to excellence.

“I enjoy being a conduit to help my staff achieve their dreams,” he said. “When we help clients make great decisions, we’re working in a way that is genuine and we’re creating a better experience. As long as we can do these things, and are passionate about what we do, the sky’s the limit.”


Home Renovation Loans: Homestyle & FHA 203K Guide

April 7th, 2017 by Ima Admin

Know Which Home Renovation Loan Suits Your Plans

By: Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids Team

The spring real estate market is ramping up in West Michigan, and for some, there’s no better time to consider a major home improvement project. In a hot market, there are many reasons why home renovation loans such as Homestyle and FHA 203K become popular. The team at Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids can help you find the perfect fit to finance your feng shui, depending on your needs, goals and current financial circumstances. We’ll take a look at different scenarios, including the benefits of home renovation loans in general.

4 Benefits of Home Renovation Loans

  • Low down payments available
  • Ability to wrap in all renovation costs into the loan
  • Good interest rates
  • Mortgage interest is tax deductible; other types of loans aren’t

Scenario A: Love the House You’re In

Many people decide to “stay put” when real estate inventory is tight and prices are strong. In other words, the motto for these folks is:  love the house you’re in.

Sometimes, it takes a bit of “work” to regain that lovin’ feeling, like a walk-in glass and slate shower or perhaps a gorgeous great room or marvelous man cave. Extending your stay and improving your home’s curb appeal can represent a smart investment, provided your project is scaled to values in your neighborhood. In a market where values are high and inventory is tight, deciding to stay put and improve your home can be a wise financial decision for some.

“Homeowners should look at their home value, equity, and plan for the future as part of their annual due diligence. With the right combination of circumstances, these home refinance programs can be a great tool to say goodbye to that 1970s shag carpet or that tile you can’t stand and really live out your HGTV fantasies while at the same time optimizing your available credit,” says Jonathan Arnold, Branch Manger at Inlanta Grand Rapids.

The upside is that instead of moving to a more expensive home that already features some of the upgrades you’d like, you’re improving the value of an existing asset, and thereby increasing the likelihood of bettering your future return-on-investment. This is true whether your home is a single family home or up to a 4-unit rental in which you reside.

Depending on how much equity you’ve accumulated and your loan-to-value ratio based on a new appraisal, you may be a perfect candidate for a Conventional Homestyle Renovation loan, which for those with higher credit scores and a LTV of 80% or lower, can avoid PMI (private mortgage insurance) entirely. (See Home Renovation Loan Programs below.)

Scenario B: The Purchase-Reno Combo

In this scenario, you’re a savvy shopper in the market for a new home. You might be a first-time buyer with your eye on a “fixer-upper” or a seasoned homebuyer trading up, or even an investor looking to purchase a 1-4 unit dwelling. In each case, you know that many of the well-staged, well-maintained properties are selling above asking price, and often with multiple offers submitted. But you also know that if a home has “good bones” and the right location, a sleeper can become a swan in the right hands – yours! In this case, you’d be a good candidate for a combination purchase-renovation loan.

Determining which loan program suits your circumstances will depend on your financial picture, but there are some common criteria to evaluate in order to determine which purchase-renovation mortgage is right for you:Contractor holding blueprints representing home renovation loan

  • You have access to an excellent contractor familiar with home renovation loan specifications.
  • You’re working with a lending specialist like Inlanta who is registered to offer both Homestyle Conventional and 203K Home Renovation loans, with and without a consultant.
  • You do not intend to do the work yourself. Some types of loans will be highly reliant on licensed, professional, line-item estimates from licensed or approved trades, as well as services such as engineering or architecture. These documents can be used in assessing end value of your home.
  • Whether or not you intend to reside at the residence (or up to a 4-unit dwelling) will make a difference as to which loan program will suit.

According to Brian Ferrick of Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids, renovation loans aren’t difficult by default, with one key provision: the team.

“Get the right team to be part of the transaction and things will go well.  You need a good Realtor, a good Lender who has done many of them, and a good contractor.  The team makes the transaction,” Ferrick said.

Home Renovation Loans offered by Inlanta Mortgage

Highlights of a Fannie Mae Homestyle Conventional Loan

(Purchase or Refinance & Remodel)

  • Fannie Mae offers a conventional renovation loan that allows clients to finance the cost of any repairs and renovations. You can do 1-4 units on Primary residences, 1 units on second homes and investment properties.
  • Purchase or refinance & remodel
  • 5% minimum down payment for primary, single-family residences (10% for second homes)
  • You can use gift funds for down payment & closing costs for owner-occupied, primary residences
  • 3% seller contribution allowed
  • Cosmetic and structural renovations allowed
  • Allowable improvements can include landscaping, appliances, swimming pools and more
  •  The maximum you can finance is up to 50% of the appraised amount.
  • Renovation-related costs that may be considered as part of the total renovation costs in addition to labor and materials include: Property inspection fees; Costs and fees for the title update; Architectural and engineering fees; Independent consultant fees; Costs for required permits; and Other documented charges, such as fees for energy reports, appraisals, review of renovation plans, and fees charged for processing renovation draws.
  • Lower interest rates than the standard home improvement loan.
  • Flexible mortgage term options with 15 or 30 years.
  • Does not require mortgage insurance (MI) if LTV is 80% or below.
  • LTV is taken into consideration after renovation is completed (can be great for homeowners who owe more than the value of your home).

Highlights of a FHA 203K Limited Loan (formerly known as 203K Streamline – “Cosmetic”)

(Purchase or Refinance & Remodel)

  • The 203(k) Streamlined Loan is designed primarily for cosmetic upgrades that do not require the use of a consultant, architect, and engineer or as many inspections as the Standard 203K (formerly known as the Full 203K).
  • Like a regular FHA new home purchase, down payment can be as low as 3.5% for primary, single-family residences.
  • It is a renovation loan that allows a minimum of $5,000 with a maximum up to $35,000 worth of renovations to be wrapped into an FHA loan. 
  • It is for primary residences only.
  • It is designed for any renovation that is connected to the home directly and does not include landscaping, blueprints, or foundation work.
  • This makes it a popular option when a typical FHA loan is considered since upgraded flooring, paint and a kitchen are key elements of cosmetic improvements to a home. This loan can imclude appliances.

Highlights of a FHA 203K Standard Loan (formerly known as 203K Full – “Additions, Structural, Etc.”)

(Purchase or Refinance & Remodel)

  • The FHA 203K Standard loan (formerly known as 203K Full) is intended for more complicated projects that involve structural changes such as room additions, exterior grading and landscaping.
  • Like a regular FHA new home purchase, down payment can be as low as 3.5% for primary, single-family residences.
  • A Standard K is also used if your project requires engineering or architectural drawings and inspections.
  • One benefit with this form of the 203(k) is that a single family property may be converted into a two, three or four-unit dwelling or vice versa so long as the owner occupies one of the units.
  • It is a renovation loan that allows up to the maximum financed amount of renovations to be wrapped into an FHA loan. 
  • It is for primary residences only and requires an FHA consultant.
  • By combining the construction funds with your home mortgage, an FHA 203(k) loan limits closing costs because it’s just one loan that provides you the necessary funds to buy a home and make the desired repairs or improvements.
  • An FHA 203(k) loan simplifies the home renovation process.
  • FHA 203(k) loans are backed by the federal government and are typically given to buyers who want to purchase a home and perform upgrades, repairs, remodel or customize to their needs and wants.

Comparing Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle and FHA 203K Home Renovation Loans:

Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle and 203k loan both finance improvements in concert with a purchase loan. The Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan’s minimum down payment is around 5 percent, while FHA 203k’s may only require 3.5 percent. HomeStyle lenders typically require higher qualifying credit scores but feature lower closing costs than those commonly charged on FHA 203k loans.

At the same time, a 203k loan can be used to complete renovations or upgrades on a new or existing home. As with HomeStyle mortgages, the borrower must use approved, licensed professionals to do the renovation work.

Fortunately, the experts at Inlanta can answer your specific questions about the types of repairs and renovations you can perform when you finance your home. Contact us for a deeper look at the smoothest route to your new or improved dreamhome.

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