VA Home Loans – Top 10 Benefits for Borrowers

VA home loans can make becoming a homeowner easier and more affordable—yet only 13 percent of those who are eligible take advantage of their VA loan benefits.

For veterans, reservists, active-duty service personnel, military spouses and members of certain other groups, VA home loans can be the ideal mortgage solution. Here’s why.

Utah VA home loans

No. 1:  No Down Payment

Unlike most conventional loan programs, VA mortgages enable borrowers to finance 100 percent of a home’s purchase price. The lack of a down payment puts homeownership within easier reach.

No. 2:  No Mortgage Insurance

With conventional home loans, lenders typically insist that borrowers who do not put at least 20 percent down pay for mortgage insurance. As this is not the case with VA loans, they are a very affordable option.

No. 3:  Low Closing Costs

Saving up money for closing costs can be an obstacle to becoming a homebuyer. VA loans help in this regard, as borrowers are exempt from some of the fees normally due at closing.

No. 4:  Easy Qualification

Like all types of mortgages, VA loans have eligibility requirements. However, compared to most other mortgage programs, the guidelines are more flexible. So, even borrowers with less-than-stellar credit can qualify.

No. 5:  Government Guarantee

Lenders offer exceptionally favorable terms for VA home loans for a reason – they come with a guarantee from the federal government. In the event of foreclosure, the lender receives compensation for their loss.

No. 6:  No Prepayment Penalties

When borrowers decide to sell their homes or refinance their mortgages, VA loans do not impose early-exit fees. There are no penalties for prepayment or refinancing, regardless of the time frame.

No. 7:  Funding Fee Flexibility

VA loans require most borrowers to pay a funding fee. But the costs are waived in some cases, and funding fees do not have to be paid in cash – the expense can be added to the home loan.

No. 8:  Financing Options

Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate VA loans are available. And, a borrower can finance the purchase of a house, duplex, condo, manufactured home or other types of properties. In addition, borrowers can refinance their existing mortgages.

No. 9:  Potential for Transfer

When a borrower decides to sell their home, they can transfer their VA mortgage to an eligible buyer. The fact that VA loans are assumable can be a huge benefit, particularly with the rising interest rates.

No. 10: Range of Mortgage Lenders

VA home loans are not funded by the government – banks, credit unions, savings-and-loans institutions and mortgage companies provide the funding. So, borrowers have the freedom to shop around and compare offers.

Are you eligible for a VA loan? If you’re ready to become a homeowner in Utah and want to explore your home loan options, Integrity First Lending can help.

As mortgage and home loan experts with decades of combined experience, the Integrity First Lending team has the skills and qualifications to find your best financing solution. We can get you pre-qualified and pre-approved for a mortgage, and with us, the process of becoming a homeowner is both easy and convenient. Contact our South Jordan or Tooele, Utah, office today to discuss VA home loans.

The Basics of Closing Costs for First-Time Home Loans

In addition to a down payment, most conventional first-time home loans come with closing costs. These fees can make budgeting to buy a house more difficult, so understanding what to expect ahead of time is important.

Here, the mortgage experts at Integrity First Lending explain what closing costs cover, how much yours may be and an option to avoid saving up for the expense.

First-time buyer closing costs

What Are Mortgage Closing Costs?

Generally speaking, they’re costs charged at the closing of a real estate transaction. Most home buyers pay fees for:

  • Property appraisal
  • Home inspection
  • Property title search
  • Home loan application
  • Mortgage underwriting
  • Mortgage insurance application
  • Lender’s title insurance

Mortgage lenders typically also require home buyers to prepay a portion of their property taxes. Plus, the annual homeowners insurance premium along with another two or three months’ worth of payments is usually due at closing.

How Much Are Mortgage Closing Costs?

In most cases, the costs at closing are between two and five percent of the mortgage loan total.

To put that into perspective, imagine you’re thinking about buying a house for $350,000. The total of your closing fees would likely be somewhere between $7,000 and $17,500.

Can the Home Seller Pay the Closing Costs?

If saving up enough money to pay the costs due at closing would mean putting off your dreams of becoming a homeowner, you might consider another option – structuring your offer to have the seller absorb the fees.

Here’s how that could work, using the above example. Let’s say you’ve agreed to the price of $350,000, and according the mortgage lender’s outline of closing expenses included with your first-time home loan estimate, your costs will amount to $10,000. Offer the seller $360,000, stipulating in the contract that the seller will use the extra to cover the fees at closing.

Should You Consider Financing Your Closing Costs?

If you can’t afford to pay the costs upfront, incorporating them into your first-time home loan could be a smart move. That way, you won’t have to delay your dreams of becoming a homeowner. And, if you plan to stay in your new home for just a handful of years, you might end up paying less overall if you finance the closing expenses than if you pay upfront.

Keep in mind, though, that you’ll likely end up with a less favorable interest rate and higher monthly mortgage payments. But later on, you can consider refinancing to improve your home loan terms.

Are you ready to buy your first house? For expert help navigating the mortgage process and answers to all of your questions about first-time home loans in Utah, turn to the experts at Integrity First Lending.

With decades of combined experience in the home loan and mortgage industry, the Integrity First Lending team has the skill to find a financing solution that meets your needs and fits your budget. For more information on closing costs or to explore your options for first-time home loans, contact us today.

First-Time Home Loans – 15-Year vs. 30-Year Mortgages

Getting ready to apply for a first-time home loan? One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is whether to go with a 15-year mortgage or a 30-year mortgage.

Many people choose to pay on their mortgage loans for 30 years – some even think that a 30-year term is required for first-time buyers. The truth is, the standard length for home loan is not set in stone. You can, if you like, choose to pay off your loan in half the time with a 15-year mortgage.

Deciding on the right term for your first-time home loan requires careful thought. To figure out if you should take out a 15-year or 30-year mortgage, consider the advantages of each term option.
First-time home buyer mortgages

Benefits of 15-Year Mortgages

A 15-year home loan comes with several plusses. The advantages of choosing this mortgage term length include:

  • Paying off your mortgage more quickly – When you no longer have a loan payment, you can make easier preparations for retirement, work shorter hours and enjoy greater financial freedom.
  • Paying less interest – With a 15-year mortgage, you’ll put less money toward interest. Depending upon the amount you’re financing, this could add up to tens of thousands of dollars in savings.
  • Building home equity faster – As your loan balance decreases, your equity grows. This occurs with any home loan, but the rate is much faster with a 15-year mortgage.

Benefits of 30-Year Mortgages

Though a shorter first-time home loan term can be advantageous, taking out a traditional 30-year mortgage can be a smart move for many first-time buyers. The benefits of choosing a 30-year term include:

  • Having a lower mortgage payment – With a longer term, the monthly payments are more affordable. Keeping the payments low can make budgeting both easier and less stressful.
  • Freeing up money for other goals – By paying less on your home loan each month, you’ll be able to pay down debts, make home improvements and increase your savings. You can make higher payments if your budget allows, but you have the freedom to choose when to pay more.

Which Mortgage Term is Right for You?

The term length of your first-time home loan term will have a long-lasting impact on your personal finances.

Before making a decision between a 15-year mortgage and a 30-year mortgage, take a good hard look at your money situation. If you don’t have much in the way of extra income or savings, a shorter term with a higher monthly payment may not be in your best interests.

Also, consider your future goals. If you’re confident you can afford a higher mortgage payment and you’d like to eliminate your home loan soon to free up funds for the next stage in your life, a 30-year mortgage might be the right choice.

Not sure which mortgage term length to choose? The highly-experienced loan officers at Integrity First Lending can help you compare your options and find a favorable first-time home loan.

Integrity First Lending, serving the greater Salt Lake City area and the surrounding northern Utah communities, is here to guide you through every step of the mortgage process. For expert advice and answers to your questions about first-time home loans, contact our South Jordan or Tooele office today.

Advantages of HomeStyle Renovation Loans

With a Fannie Mae HomeStyle renovation loan, you can purchase or refinance a property and have funds for remodeling or repairs – without the need for a second mortgage, home equity loan or line of credit.

A HomeStyle loan is an easy and affordable option for financing major home improvement projects. If you’re looking to rehabilitate your current property or want to buy or refinance a fixer-upper, choosing one HomeStyle renovation mortgage instead of two separate loans can save you money and time. For a closer look at the advantages of this Fannie Mae program, read on.
Utah home renovation loans

Flexible Loan Options

One of the greatest benefits of the HomeStyle renovation program is its flexibility.

This type of home loan applies to owner-occupied properties, but borrowers can also take out financing for rental or investment properties and second homes in need of rehabilitation or remodeling. HomeStyle loans are available to first-time and repeat home buyers, and borrowers can choose fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgages.

Affordable Financing

A HomeStyle loan doesn’t require a large down payment or strong equity position.

To buy a single-unit property with a fixed-rate renovation loan, the HomeStyle program only requires borrowers to put down 5 percent of the purchase price. For homeowners who want to refinance, 5 percent equity is typically enough to qualify.

Renovation Possibilities

With a HomeStyle renovation mortgage, you can finance a vast range of home improvement projects.

Some loan programs place restrictions on the types of renovation projects homeowners can finance. The HomeStyle program specifies that any home improvements must add value to the property, but the possibilities are nearly endless. From finishing a basement and remodeling the interior to building an addition, performing structural repairs or even installing a swimming pool, homeowners have a wide array of options.

Is a HomeStyle Renovation Loan Right for You?

Are you looking to buy a home than needs a little TLC? Or do you want to refinance your mortgage and have money for home improvements or repairs? A Fannie Mae HomeStyle renovation loan could be your ideal solution.

But, the HomeStyle program is not your only choice. As we mentioned, you could get a home equity loan or line of credit. A second mortgage might also meet your needs. Or, you may prefer a FHA 203k loan, as it requires just a 3.5 percent down payment and has more lenient eligibility requirements.

If you’re ready to explore your renovation loan options and you live in northern Utah, the mortgage experts at Integrity First Lending can help.

With decades of combined experience in the home lending industry, our friendly team can explain the various financing options and find a solution that’s right for you. And with Integrity First Lending, you can count on having a smooth and easy experience. Contact our South Jordan or Tooele, Utah, office to discuss HomeStyle renovation loans today.

How to Get a Home Refinance Loan

A home refinance loan can benefit your budget in multiple ways. Mortgage refinancing can free up more money each month, help you pay off your house more quickly or allow you to consolidate your debts — and any of these advantageous outcomes can put you on better financial footing.

Are you ready for mortgage refinancing? To get started on a refinance loan for your Utah home, take the following steps.

How to refinance your Utah home

Set a Clear Goal

First, determine what you hope to gain by refinancing your mortgage. Whether you want a lower interest rate, lower monthly payments, more favorable loan terms or debt consolidation, setting a home refinance goal can help you achieve your desired outcome.

Review Your Credit Report

The better your credit score, the better home loan refinance terms and interest rates lenders will offer. Comb through your credit report before you apply, and resolve any reporting errors you find. And, consider ways to improve your credit score.

Research Your Home Equity

The amount of equity you have can play a role in mortgage refinancing. You may be able to get a home refinance loan with as little as five percent equity, but more is better. Lenders offer the best rates and terms to homeowners with at least 20 percent in equity,

Gather the Paperwork

When you apply for a refinance loan, lenders will want to review your finances. Be prepared to locate, print or download bank statements, pay stubs, federal tax returns and any other requested financial documents.

Prepare for an Appraisal

Before making a home loan refinance offer, some lenders may require an appraisal to determine the current market value of your home. If any lenders want appraisals, make sure to point out repairs or improvements you have made that boost its value.

Consider the Closing Costs

With a home loan refinance, you can expect a number of fees and expenses. You might be able to add many of the costs to the mortgage balance, but if you’d rather not increase the amount you owe, come to the closing with enough cash on hand.

Compare Rates with Multiple Lenders

Home loan refinance terms and interest rates vary from lender to lender, so shopping around is well worth your time. Compare mortgage refinancing offers from several lenders, looking at the details to determine which best meets your goal.

If you live in South Jordan, Tooele or elsewhere in northern Utah and are ready for mortgage refinancing, turn to the home refinance experts at Integrity First Lending.

Our friendly loan officers have decades of combined expertise in the lending industry, and we’re always happy to answer questions and offer advice. We can assist with all of your mortgage, renovation and investment loan needs, and the Integrity First Lending team strives to provide a top-notch customer experience.

Let Integrity First Lending find your ideal financing solution. Contact us to explore your Utah home refinance loan options today!

First-Time Home Loans – Is a Fixed-Rate Mortgage Right for You?

When you shop for a first-time home loan, you will come across a wide range of options. Fixed-rate mortgages are popular, as they come with several advantages. However, going with a fixed rate loan is not the right choice for every home buyer.

Getting a home loan that meets your individual needs is important, so consulting with a mortgage expert is well-worth your time. Meanwhile, for a general understanding of whether you may benefit from a fixed-rate loan, read on.

Fixed interest mortgage loans for first-time buyers

Advantages of Fixed-Rate Home Loans

Many first-time home buyers turn to mortgages with fixed rates because the benefits allow for easier budgeting. Reasons to consider this type of mortgage loan include:

  • Stable interest rate – The rate never changes, so market fluctuations are no cause for concern. At the same time, if the interest rate drops, you can refinance.
  • Payment predictability – Though the amounts that go toward principal and interest change over the life of the mortgage, the monthly payment remains the same.
  • Ability to pay down principal – Most first-time home loans with fixed rates do not have restrictive prepayment penalties, which means you can make extra payments without incurring fees.

Disadvantages of Fixed-Rate Home Loans

As we mentioned, a fixed-rate mortgage is not always the right solution for everyone who’s buying their first home. The drawbacks include:

  • High upfront costs – With a fixed-rate loan, the origination fees, underwriting fees and other closing costs are usually steeper than they are with other types of mortgage loans.
  • Eligibility requirements – Loans with fixed rates can be difficult to qualify for, and buyers who have poor credit or plan to make small down payments are less likely to get an approval.
  • Lockedin interest rate – If the interest rate is currently high, locking in that rate for a first-time home loan may not be a wise financial move.

Should You Consider a Fixed-Rate Mortgage?

Generally speaking, if the interest rate is currently low, locking it in for the lifetime of your first home loan can make sense. That said, not all home buyers benefit from this type of loan. You may want to consider an alternative mortgage option if any of the following describes your situation:

  • You are only planning to stay in the home for a few years
  • You have a low credit score and/or a small down payment
  • You want a loan with a lower starting interest rate

When choosing a mortgage, you will need to consider a number of personal and financial factors. To make the decision easier, get advice from a mortgage expert – like the professionals at Integrity First Lending.

Our friendly loan officers are happy to help first-time home buyers in northern Utah, and we have the skill, knowledge and experience to help you find a first-time home loan that meets your individual needs. The Integrity First Lending team can answer your questions, explain your mortgage options and help you every step of the way.

If you are planning to buy your first home in South Jordan, Tooele or in the greater Salt Lake City area, let Integrity First Lending make the process easier. To discuss fixed-rate mortgages and first-time home loans, contact us today.


To Become a Landlord, Consider an Investment Property Loan

The traditional path to becoming a landlord is to save up money to purchase a rental home. Taking out an investment property loan is a shortcut, allowing you to achieve your goals sooner.

However, when it comes to financing investment properties, the options are somewhat limited. Many programs, including VA home loans and FHA mortgages, are only open to borrowers who want assistance purchasing a primary residence.

If you’re interested in an investment property loan, talking to an expert in rental home financing – like the team at Integrity First Lending – is the best course of action. In the meantime, here’s a look at the basics on loans for investment properties.

Utah investment property loans

Conventional Home Loans

Conventional mortgages, or those not backed by the government, are an option for investment properties.

To purchase a rental home with conventional financing, you’ll need a solid credit score and a significant down payment – up to 20%, in some cases. Fixed-rate mortgages with 15- or 30-year terms are popular, but some adjustable-rate loans may also be good options for aspiring landlords.

Cash-Out Refinance Loans

If you have equity in your current home, a cash-out refinance loan may put you on the path to becoming a landlord.

With this financing solution, you’ll be refinancing the balance of your mortgage along with up to 80 percent of the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of a rental home. You’ll end up with a new loan that covers both properties and has a single payment.

Qualifying for an Investment Property Loan

You may be ready to become a landlord, but are your finances in order? To qualify for a loan with a good interest rate, you should be in a strong financial position – you want lenders to know that you can afford to invest in a rental home.

For the best chance at an approval for an investment property loan with a favorable rate, experts say you should take steps to improve your credit score. Pay down your credit card balances, take care of any small bills in collections and, if possible, get added as an authorized user on an account with a good payment history.

Having a large down payment also improves the likelihood of being approved for financing and may even help you secure better loan terms. In addition, if you put down at least 20 percent, you can save thousands by avoiding mortgage insurance.

Consult with an Expert in Rental Home Financing

Investing in a rental home is a great way to boost your income, but finding a lender and securing financing may take a little ingenuity. If you’re ready to take the leap, having a highly-experienced loan officer at your side can make all the difference.

Integrity First Lending, based in northern Utah, can help you realize your goal of becoming a landlord. Our team of professionals has decades of combined experience in the mortgage and home loan industry, and we can tell you everything you need to know about qualifying for an investment loan.

For more information about Integrity First Lending, or to discuss your options for an investment property loan, contact our South Jordan or Tooele office today.

When to Use a Broker Like Integrity First Lending

Why would you want to use a broker for your home loan? It would be easy to just run to your nearest bank or credit union. But this may not be the best way to get a loan that is created just for you.

Like everything else, there are good loans and bad loans. Lenders are really investors in your home. They want to make the most money for their investment, with the safest return. When giving a loan, they are more concerned with their own interest in the loan than you or your needs.

A mortgage broker is different. They are a personal loan shopper for your home loan. Because they are not the lender, there is no conflict of interest in getting you the loan that is looking out for you. Think of them as the glue that holds the process together without ripping at the edges.

It is the job of the broker to verify your financial information, run the numbers, and understand your needs. Then, they can go out and look at all of the options that you qualify for to find the best loan, at the best interest rate, with the lowest closing costs.

If you have special needs before qualifying for your loan, such as information on your credit report and repairs that you can make to improve it, they will be there for you. They can refer you to a specialist in credit repair, set up your private mortgage insurance, and so much more.

The brokers at Integrity First are not only knowledgeable about the loans that are currently on the market, but they have taken the time to specialize in specific types of loans. It is our mission to know the best interest rates for every type of loan. They will help you determine if an FHA loan or conventional loan is best. What if you are a veteran that is looking to own your first home? They’ll help you navigate a VA loan. They will help you get all of your paperwork in order, saving you time and frustration.

Getting a mortgage can be a very time-consuming process. When you let a broker do the heavy lifting and point you in the correct direction, you can save time and money navigating the mortgage process.

Eligibility Requirements for Utah VA Loans

Do you qualify for a VA loan?

Ultimately, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has the final say, but many service members, reservists, veterans and their surviving spouses meet the VA loan eligibility requirements. An experienced loan officer can determine whether you’re likely to qualify, but these are the basic guidelines for qualification.
How to qualify for a VA loan in Utah

VA Loans for Servicemen and Veterans

If you’re on active duty now, you can establish eligibility after 90 consecutive days. Similarly, anyone who served at least 90 days of active duty during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War or the Gulf War should qualify.

For veterans who served during peacetime and those who were separated from service, qualifying for a VA loan requires at least 181 days of continuous active duty.

In the event of discharge due to a service-connected disability, current and formers members of the armed forces may qualify for a VA home loan with fewer days of active duty.

VA Loans for Military Spouses

If you’re a surviving spouse of a service member or veteran, you may be eligible for a VA home loan under a few different circumstances.

Un-remarried spouses of veterans who died during service or as a result of a service-connected disability are typically eligible, as are spouses of service members who are missing in action or prisoners of war. Surviving spouses who are receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits may also qualify.

In addition, surviving spouses age 57 or older who remarried on or after December 16, 2003 may be approved for a VA home loan.

VA Loans for Selected Reserve and National Guard

If you’re a reservist, you can qualify for a VA home loan by completing at least six years of service. To meet the requirements, you must be a member of an active unit in the Selected Reserve or National Guard, attend the required weekend drills and complete the necessary two weeks of active duty for training.

The VA also requires reservists who want a home loan to meet one of the following conditions: continued service in the Selected Reserve, transfer to the Standby Reserve or the Ready Reserve after honorable service, an honorable discharge or placement on the retired list.

VA Loans for Other Beneficiaries

The Veteran’s Administration also approves home loans in some other circumstances.

If you are a U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of one of our World War II allies, you may qualify. You might also be eligible if you were a member of certain organizations. Cadets at the U.S. Military, Air Force or Coast Guard Academy, midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, Public Health Service officers and officers of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration are among those who may be approved for a VA home loan.

Do you have questions about VA loans? Or are you ready to get the ball rolling and apply for a home loan? Let Integrity First Lending help.

With decades of combined loan and mortgage experience, the professionals at Integrity First Lending can explain your options and help you find the best solution to meet your needs. To discuss your eligibility for a VA loan, contact our South Jordan or Tooele, Utah, office today.

Save More Money When Getting an Investment Loan

Becoming an investor in real estate is a great way to make a “long term” profit in today’s real estate market. But getting a loan with current lending standards can be out of the reach of most investors. An investment property, one that you don’t live in but rent out, is a great way to build money for the future. If you’re looking for a short term quick flip, plan on having a large reserve of money to get started. At Integrity First Lending, we specialize in long term investment planning. We want you to succeed for years.

What does it take to get an investment mortgage in today’s tighter lending standards? The only type of loan you can qualify for in a home you don’t plan on living in is a conventional loan. Let’s look at the basic criteria for a conventional loan and the twist you need to make it an investment loan.

Credit Score

Credit scores have a high impact on any conventional loan, but when you’re looking at investing, the lender is going to look at whether you have the financial ability to maintain an investment property and your long term stability from past responsibilities. Before you start, take a look at your credit score and make sure it’s above 740. This may be the place you need to start to get the best loan on your first investment property. This is a great way to get a better interest rate on your investment loan. The better the credit score, the better the interest rate.

Finding a property with a great loan-to-value ratio is essential to saving money on your loan. It pays in the long run to have a property that is investment worthy.


Since investing is all about making money, you should have an adequate amount to invest. Know up front the type of property you plan on investing in. If you invest in a single family home, you will be required to have at least 20% down. If you have more than the minimum amount, you can save money in the long run. The more down, the lower the end pay off, the lower the monthly mortgage amount.

Investment properties require at least 20% down on single family homes and 25% on multi-family homes. Since this is a basic requirement you also save money by avoiding (PMI) private mortgage insurance.

The Integrity Plan

The experts at Integrity First Lending want you to succeed in your investment plan, saving you the most money. We start your investment with a long-term business plan. Showing you how to make sure you have a back-up plan in case of an empty property, renovations that get the best return, and getting the best possible loan available. If you’re looking for a great property that can be occupied by you the borrower and have a rental attachment, we help you verify the rules and regulations for your house.

Give us a call today to learn more at 801.542.0961.