Buying a Home


couple managing finances, reviewing bank accounts using laptop computer

couple managing finances, reviewing bank accounts using laptop computer

A popular New Year’s resolution is paying off debt. A new year offers people a brand new to start to get their financial situation together. But many people wonder where to start to get themselves out debt. Here are 4 tips to help you get started start on living a debt free lifestyle:

  1. Make A List of All Your Debts- The first step in getting out of debt is to tally up each debt you currently have. Take a look at your credit report to ensure you didn’t miss any. Figuring out your debt grand total will show you exactly how much debt you currently have and how you can make a plan to tackle it.
  2. Pay Off Debt Smallest to Largest- This is also known as the debt snowball. The reason this works with a lot of people is because it gives you momentum. When each debt is paid off you start to see progress and builds momentum to pay off the next debt.
  3. Start A Monthly Budget- Starting a budget is a great way to figure out where your money is going to each month. Do you know where every dollar you spend is going? Most people do not and this will help determine that. If you realize that you are spending a lot on going out to eat or getting lattes every morning, you can make adjustments that can give you more money to pay down your debts.
  4. Live Within Your Means- Spending less than or equal to the money you bring in every month means you are “living within your means”. By spending no more than you bring in each month, it will ensure you do not go into further debt. By making this small change, you can change your financial situation and no longer live paycheck to paycheck.
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3 Steps To Get Yourself Ready To Buy A Home in 2018

Young Couple Standing Outside Dream Home

Young Couple Standing Outside Dream HomeBuying a home is not only one of the biggest purchases you will make in life but it’s also big process to go through. Getting yourself prepared now can save a ton of time and answer many of your questions. There are three steps that you can take now to get yourself ready to buy a home in 2018. Find out what they are:

  1. Find Out Your Credit Score: Checking your credit score is a necessary task to see if you are ready to take on a mortgage. Your credit score is representation of your repayment history. The higher your credit score is, the better interest rate you will get. A high interest rate can save you a lot of money over the life of your mortgage loan. If you have any errors on your credit report, now is a good time to take care of those. In this step, you should also not open any new credit lines or credit cards as they can affect your credit score.
  2. Get Pre-Approved: Getting pre-approved is an essential task to answer many questions, such as how much of a home you can afford. When you are trying to get pre-approved for a mortgage you need to show your lender some important information such as proof of your income, proof of your assets, proof of your employment and proof of your credit score. By showing all the above paperwork, a lender can then determine how much of a home you can afford, what your interest rate will and most importantly how much your monthly payment will be.
  3. Start Interviewing Real Estate Agents: Once you have checked your credit score and you have a pre-approval letter in your hand, it is now a good time to start interviewing real estate agents. There are many real estate agents out there so make sure you find one who is knowledgeable of the real estate marketing right now as they can help you get through any situation. Another quality to look for in a realtor is one who is organized, knowledgeable of the area you are looking to live in and has connections with real estate professionals.

These three steps are pivotal phases of the process and can answer many questions to help get you prepared with the homebuying and mortgage processes. If you have any question about the first and second steps (checking your credit score and the pre-approval process) you can reach out to one of our knowledgeable Senior Mortgage Specialists at (877) 290-9991. Our Senior Mortgage Specialists also have a lot of local real estate agent connections that can help you tackle step three.

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5 Tips for A Debt Free Christmas

Family celebrating Christmas at home.

Family celebrating Christmas at home.We all know Christmas lands on December 25th every year but it always seems to sneak up on us, leaving most Americans unprepared. A majority of Americans start the new year with a big pile of debt because they overspent during Christmas. With Christmas being just a few weeks away, we want to help you have a debt free Christmas. We have compiled a list of 5 tips to help you stay debt free this holiday season:

  1. Make a Budget – Start by making a budget of how much money you need to spend this holiday season. Then make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for this holiday season. Christmas gifts are a large chunk of this budget but don’t forget to budget for decorations, holiday cards, food, wrapping paper and anything else you know you are going to spend money on over the holidays.
  2. Use Cash – Using cash is a great way to ensure you will not overspend and go into debt this holiday season. Many people do not think about the money they are spending when they swipe their credit card to make purchases. Using cash generally makes consumers more aware of the money they are spending.
  3. Make A Gift List – Making a list is like making a budget! If you can put a gift list together, you can shop around for the best deals. Then you also know what you need to buy when you go shopping at the store. By having a list and sticking to your list, you can ensure you do not overspend.
  4. Shop Online – Shopping online is a great way to save lots of money! There are wonderful deals available online and it’s a great way to stick to your list and budget. Shopping online also saves time and money driving to the store!
  5. Look for Coupons and Promo Codes – Before you start shopping, be sure to check newspapers and flyers for coupons. During the holidays, there are also several promo codes in circulation online. Before checking out online, be sure to look for a promo code so you can potentially save some money!

If you can follow these tips this holiday season, you can go into the new year without having to worry about paying off your debt. Christmas is not a reason to get into debt. Christmas is a time to make memories with your friends and family. It’s also a time to reflect on the positive things going on in your life and helping others in the community who are less fortunate.

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Top 5 Advantages of a VA Loan



Being a military veteran comes with some great benefits, especially when it comes to home loans. Veterans who want to purchase a home can do so with a VA (Veteran Affairs) loan. The goal of the VA loan program is to make homeownership feasible for active and retired military personnel. The Department of Veteran Affairs makes buying a home easier for Veterans through the VA home loan program. Find out the top 5 advantages of the VA loan program:

  1. A Down Payment is Not Required- One of the biggest advantages of a VA loan is that a borrower does not have to pay any money toward a down payment. This is the only mortgage loan where a buyer does not have put money down to secure a loan. The reason for this is because VA loans are made by private lenders whereas for other loans the bank, mortgage company and other lenders put the funds toward the purchase of your home.
  2. Do Not Have to Pay Private Mortgage Insurance- VA borrowers do not have to pay private mortgage insurance if they do not have a 20% down payment toward their home. This is significant because private mortgage insurance can add $100 or more to a borrower’s mortgage payment each month. This benefit can save VA borrowers thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
  3. You Can Use the VA Loan Benefit Numerous Times- A big misconception of a VA loan is that borrowers believe they can only use this program one time. There is not a limit on the number of times a borrower can use the VA loan program. Veterans who served our country earn this benefit for the rest of their life and can use this loan program as many times as needed.
  4. VA Loan Interest Rates Are Typically Lower- The interest rates for a VA loan are very competitive and typically lower than a conventional loan because it is guaranteed by the Department of Veteran Affairs. Since the Department of Veteran Affairs backs this particular loan, financial institutions feel more secure and can offer lower interest rates.
  5. Flexible Approval Guidelines- Veterans do not need to have perfect credit to secure a VA home loan because the Department of Veteran Affairs oversees the program. The Department of Veteran Affairs is not a lender and therefore it does not require minimum credit scores. This is a significant benefit because most conventional loans have a minimum credit score benchmark that must be met to receive a competitive interest rate.

If you are a Veteran and would like learn more about the VA program, give one of our senior mortgage specialists a call at (877) 788-4564 or to receive a free quote click here >>

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What to Look for During Your Final Walkthrough

Luxury Home Interior

Luxury Home InteriorThe excitement of buying a house and transforming it into a home can sometimes result in the buyer making an irrational decision. Nobody wants to make an investment that they later regret, which is what the purpose of a final walkthrough is. What is a final walk through, you ask? Well, it is essentially the last chance you will have to walk around the premises with your realtor.

Unless you are aware of what to look for, there is a chance you might miss something, such as an underlying problem that could potentially turn into an expensive repair job. With that being said, it is crucial that you use this time wisely to ensure the property condition has not changed in any way since the last time you inspected it.

Here are the main things you must focus on for the final walk through:

  • Check Repairs – Should there be a problem, get an estimate of how long the repairs will take to complete, so that you can move into the house with no worries about the condition. In most cases, the owner of a property will arrange to repair visible and invisible problems prior to the moving in date. This is the time to check if the repairs requested were made. In the event that the repairs are not required until after the moving in date, a home warranty will cover it.
  • Check Appliances – There are several things you should inspect when you attend the final walk through. Failure to do so might result in you spending thousands of dollars for repairs once you finally move in. Flip the light switch on and off when entering every room, test all appliances, and flush the toilet. Heating and air conditioning may encounter a fault if the appliances are not maintained properly, too.
  • Check for Leaks – Did you know that a leak inside a property can cost you a lot of money? In fact, even the smallest of leaks can increase water usage by a lot. If you don’t take the time to listen for hissing noises, check the leak indicator on the water meter, and investigate the average water usage, it will be you who is responsible for funding the repairs, not the seller.
  • Check for General Damage – Make sure there isn’t any damage from when the offer was submitted to time of the final inspection. If the property condition has changed from the first time you walked around it, you have the right to request the property owner to pay for repairs. An insurance policy will come in handy if you notice damages after you have moved in. However, the type of coverage you receive will depend on state laws, so bear this in mind and contact a claim representative if in doubt.

Once you have completed the final walk through and have deemed the condition to be good, a contract will need to be signed. The contract addendum serves as proof that you are satisfied with the property. Furthermore, it confirms the completion of any agreed-upon repairs.

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5 Qualities to Look for in a Realtor

Realtor Showing Hispanic Couple Around New Home

Realtor Showing Hispanic Couple Around New HomeThe process of buying a house is not as simple as searching through the real estate listings, contacting the seller, and putting your money on the table. In fact, there is a lot more to the whole process, which will be challenging if you lack the help of a professional realtor. From submitting an offer to attending open house tours, the stages of buying a home should not be rushed.

When investing in a home with a helping hand from a broker, a realtor will keep a percentage of the final sale price. After all, he or she must make money in some way or another! This commission will be well deserved if the realtor is good at what they do. Feel confident when choosing a realtor by assessing their qualities.

If he or she boasts the following attributes, you are onto a winner:

  1. Great Communication Skills – The way in which a realtor communicates with his or her clientele will have a direct effect on the realtor’s success in the property industry. The real estate agent must know what you, the buyer, is searching for specifically. From the location to the budget and the interior/exterior design, a realtor will be a good listener. Furthermore, they will keep the client(s) up-to-date with the latest information regarding best offers and real estate market trends.
  2. Full Time Real Estate Agent – Understanding the local housing market is absolutely essential for a realtor to perform their job properly, make a commission, and satisfy the buyer. The most successful real estate agents will be self-motivated and have the ability to hustle in a fast-paced environment. With the local housing market changing on a daily basis, it is crucial that the realtor is able to solve problems with tenacity and attention to deal. Hiring a full time realtor allows the buyer to communicate with the agent whenever need be. Hiring a part-time realtor can potentially cause communication and scheduling issues.
  3. Knowledge of Current Real Estate Market – Not only will a good real estate agent have knowledge of the property but also, the area. From the future developments that are expected to take place in the future to the conveniences, schools, and transport in the local area, a realtor must do their homework.
  4. Honesty and Integrity – Never buy a home with the help of a realtor who does not possess these critical qualities. An honest realtor will have your best interests in mind and not just have the commission in mind. Trustworthiness is absolutely essential and in order to get a true understanding of a realtor’s integrity.
  5. Negotiation Skills – Dealing with tricky situations is all part of a realtor’s job. Focus on how well the real estate agent is able to build rapport when you meet with them for the first time. Can they solve problems and eliminate misunderstandings before they arise? Ask yourself these questions to ensure you choose a realtor who can negotiate the best deal on your dream home.

Experience is absolutely paramount for a real estate agent to help you find your ideal home for the best price. In addition to their level of experience, it is crucial that you find out how many years the realtor has worked in the industry. Preferably, he or she will have gained the title of professional realtor at least five years ago. A realtor who has a lot of contacts in the industry is someone worth teaming up with for a house hunt.

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Add A Personal Touch When Submitting Your Offer

Business women hands working writing notebook on wooden desk, lighing effect

Business women hands working writing notebook on wooden desk, lighing effectJust because you have your eye on a property and have been shown around the premises by a professional real estate agent, it does not mean that you will be the only person interested in submitting an offer. In fact, there could be multiple people making an offer at the same time, which is why it is imperative that your offer really stands out!

It is rare for a buyer to offer the seller the asking price, with most buyers putting their haggling skills to the test in order to land their dream home for a desirable price. So, how can you peak the seller’s curiosity and improve your chances of receiving a positive response?

Capture the seller’s attention with a personal letter. A traditional tactic that has not lost its touch, personal letters can make you stand out among a sea of bidders.

How to Write the Perfect Personal Letter

Including a personal letter with your offer is known to help get an offer accepted. Below, we discuss the three main points to include in your letter:

  • Personal Information - Opening up to the seller will strike a chord with them. It will help them to get to know you, without even meeting you. Furthermore, it will allow them to make a choice based on who they would (ideally) like to transfer home ownership to. Including personal information in your offer letter that is related to your profession, your pets (if any), and your family size will make your offer stand out. Plus, the inclusion of personal information will prove to the seller that you are a serious and honest buyer.
  • Express Emotion - Connecting with the seller on an emotional level can be a challenge, but if you accomplish it, the chances of your offer being accepted are far greater. Perhaps you have decided to buy a new home so that you can use the leftover expenses to fund a relative’s surgery or a child’s college education? Maybe you want to relocate as a way of feeling safer in the neighborhood? Whatever your reason(s) for wanting to buy a particular property, don’t be afraid to express emotion in your letter.
  • Show Appreciation - It is nice to be nice! Even if the seller already has someone else in mind, this doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve some gratitude. After all, they invited you into their home and took the time to read your letter, right? Be polite and you never know – the seller could change their mind and accept your offer over someone else’s.

When you realize the difference a personal offer letter could make to your chances of being accepted for a property purchase, you won’t want to approach a seller without writing a letter ever again! A well-written letter that demonstrates your suitability for the house can be read over and over by the seller, thus enabling them to make an informed decision. After all, it is their pride and joy they are selling, so they won’t be willing to hand the keys over to just anybody.

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What is a VA loan?

little girl hugging her military father

little girl hugging her military fatherDown payments are a critical step to securing a good deal on a mortgage. The general percentage of the total amount required ranges depending on the lender and the personal applicant. In some cases, whereby the property a buyer is hunting is relatively large and expensive, a higher down payment will be requested.

Putting a big chunk of money on the table is not always achievable for people on a lower income or people with a poor credit score. This is where a VA loan comes in – one of the few loan types made available to homebuyers with an undesirable lending history.

Five Things to Remember About VA Loans

The thought of being granted that all-important loan that could transform your dreams into reality is definitely something to get excited. Since they are a lot more straightforward and easier to get granted acceptance for than unconventional loans, there is no wonder why they are such a popular option. Get clued up on the subject before you decide whether or not VA loans are right for you.

Here are five valuable and beneficial pieces of information to keep in mind ahead of the application stage:

The Fees – A variable funding fee will be required just once to set up an account of this kind.

Eligibility – The majority of people who apply for a VA loan will be approved during the pre approval phase.

Military Members – Although most applicants will be accepted, lenders prefer active veterans and Military members.

Simple Application – The fact that VA loans can be granted without mortgage insurance makes it a much more appealing choice for borrowers.

No Down Payment – Financial stress is relieved for borrowers who don’t have access to a great deal of funding.

Tips for Improving Credit Score

Taking the time to make some small changes to your finance habits will aid you in boosting your credit score. Make payments, even if they are very small, to improve lender trust. This will also put you back in the good books of lenders you failed to pay in the past. Following a budget plan is another viable option.

Do you really need to borrow?

Let’s say for example, you are planning on sprucing up a property that is currently for sale at a price that is hard to beat, the temptation to borrow will be irresistible, for sure. Nevertheless, thinking things through is crucial because you might find yourself in a spot of future financial bother if you are not capable of repaying now. Take the time to boost your credit score and approach a lender again.

Figuring Out a Repayment Plan

The importance of understanding if you are able to commit to regular mortgage payments cannot be stressed enough. Getting in touch with a lender is the best way to figure out how much you can realistically afford to repay. The calculations will be based on a few factors, such as:

– Your incomings

– Your outgoings

– Your reliability with previous payments

Don’t worry too much about that last one, because even if you have been unreliable in the past, some lenders will consider you based on other determining factors. To improve your chances at obtaining a VA loan from a trusted lender, aim to make a fee changes. For example, try to reduce existing debt as a way of improving credit score.

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