Karen asks what all do I need to gather for a mortgage?

This is an easy one for us to answer!  Reference this list, and you will be prepared!!

  1. Valid driver’s license – To comply with the Patriot Act, this will verify your identity.
  2. Secondary ID – Either a passport or Social Security card
  3. One month’s pay stubs – If you are paid hourly or salary
  4. W-2 forms from employers from the past two years – To verify employment and earnings history
  5. Two years of signed federal tax returns (all pages)  – These are essential for self-employed, bonus, and commission income.  Even if you are paid a salary, this proves income.
  6. Two months of bank statements – These provide evidence of assets for down payment, closing costs and reserves.
  7. Purchase contract for the property you are buying
  8. If refinancing, a copy of the deed
  9. Landlord contact – If you are a renter, the name, phone, and address of the landlord can help verify that you pay timely
  10. Attorney contact – May help coordinate the closingTax 1040

Roy Asks… How can I make my mortgage work for me?

The equity in your home can give you a financial advantage if used correctly.

  1. Consolidate Debt.  Use your equity to pay off high-interest debt and consolidate your payments into one lower-interest payment.
  2. Cash Out Refi for Renovation.  Remodel your kitchen or bathroom or add a bedroom.  It may be cheaper than buying a new home and you will still have all the familiar comforts of your current home!
  3. Cash Out Refi for Major Purchase.  Cars, tuition, weddings, travel, second homes are just some major purchases.  Using the equity in your home allows you to loan money to yourself without putting it on a credit card.
  4. Accommodate Changing Needs and Goals.  We provide an annual fiscal check-up by phone in less than 10 minutes to see if your mortgage makes the most sense for you.
  5. Cash Out Refi for Other Real-Estate Investments.  Cashing out your equity for wise investments can be very lucrative.
  6. Increased Interest Rates.  Adjustable rate mortgages can be useful at times, but you must be ready to act quickly when the time comes.
  7. Decreased Interest Rates.  In the financial market cycle, there are short term “windows of opportunity” you can use to refinance your loan for significant savings.

Having a Loan Officer watching the market for you and ready to act is a valuable asset in your financial tool box.

Cheryl is ready and avaialble to help! YES-button


Martin asks….I am ready to buy a home. Do I need my own realtor or can I just go through the seller’s agent?

 keyYou are not alone in your thinking, Martin.  Many buyers believe they could save money and have an advantage if they use the realtor who listed the home.  You may have an opportunity for a reduced commission – but don’t count on it. The agent has the right to make this decision, so have that discussion in advance.  One thing to keep in mind is that now the agent has responsibility for BOTH sides of the transaction.  Also don’t be so quick to believe that just because you worked with the seller’s agent you will automatically get the house.   It is often in your best interest to have your own agent working for you.  A buyer’s agent will be your advocate and negotiate the best price and terms for you.

Ask the agent about agency agreements and laws in your state.

The bottom line is that buyers should consider the risks as well as potential rewards before they decide to forgo buyer representation. Having a real estate professional on your side will ensure the closing goes well, you are represented and will avoid costly mistakes throughout the process.

Mary Asks… Is there a tax advantage to making my January mortgage payment in December?

Mortgage ToolsYES, by making your January 2014 mortgage payment before this years end, you may in fact save yourself a substantial amount of money. If you were to pay your January 1, 2014 mortgage bill in advance, by the end of December of this year, your interest deduction from January would be shifted to this year’s deductions. This translates into you saving money and receiving a greater tax break for 2013. This should be incredibly appealing if you anticipate that you’ll be in a lower tax bracket next year.

In order to do this properly, you must take into consideration the following information:

◾January is the only month that this tax saving situation will apply

◾Make sure that your payment is received in time for it to count towards this year. Keep in mind that December 31, 2013 is a Tuesday (not to mention New Years Eve) so mailing in your payment a few days earlier or making it on –line would be best to ensure it posts in December.

◾Make a quick phone call to your mortgage company to discuss your intentions. They can also help you assure that this is credited as an interest payment for this year.

◾You MUST be certain that you’ll be in a lower tax bracket next year. Otherwise, you will not be saving much money other than getting and get ahead on your mortgage – which is never a bad thing – just know the facts!

Making your January mortgage payment in advance is a great idea that will save you some money, that is if you fit the criteria above and of course are in a financial situation that allows an additional payment in December!

Tricia asks….I have heard that buying a home in the winter months can be beneficial. I have SO many other things to do right now, why should I add this to my list?

Oh the weather outside is frightful….Buying is so delightful!!

Determined buyers can find so many benefits during the cold holiday season. It may truly pay off for you to add one more thing to your TO DO list:

  • During the nice weather months, MANY people  are out looking for a new home.  This means you are in competition with all those people and you may pay more for a property, miss a good-value, or even receive less attention from busy real estate and mortgage professionals.
  • The holiday seasonal sellers are just as determined as you are as the buyer!  These sellers are committed to selling, the professionals can give you more of their attention and you will have full view of the good-value listings.  When there is less competition in the buyer’s market, you will get more personalized service, more for your money, and have the time to feel confident in all of your decisions.

Although the holiday season typically means putting life on hold to eat more, spend more, be with family more, it doesn’t mean it is the right choice to ignore real estate opportunities.  Your real estate goals and dreams just may become a reality during this special time of year which would make it an even more thankful time.86528300-1.

The most important thing to remember is sellers that have listed during this time of year are very serious about selling.  Understanding their needs and wants during this time will go a long way for you as the buyer as well.  Perhaps they have a hard close date in mind.  Try to meet that date for them and maybe they will be likely to accept your purchase price offer.  Take advantage of the “worst time” weather and learn what you can expect from a property:

  • Walk through a home during a rainstorm and you’ll see how well the eavestrough system does its job. Observe the gutters, corners, and exterior walls. Ensure there is no exterior water damage or water in the basement.  Does the water collect on the property or move into the street?
  • Drive by houses after a fresh snowfall and you’ll discover which are well insulated (snow on roof) and which are losing heat (melted snow).
  • Tour a house on a very windy day and drafts, insufficient insulation, and poorly-sealed windows and doors will be revealed.
  • If it is an especially cold day, investigate if the furnace heats the whole house. Are the back rooms cold?  How is the upper floor and the basement?
  • During the holiday season when parties and cooking are popular pastimes tour condominium units and you’ll see how far noise and smells travel in the building and into the suite or townhome you’re considering.
  • Ask an experienced real estate and mortgage professional for their “best things” about “worst times”.


Jody asks…. I found the home of my dreams – but the inspection shows issues – what should I do?

I have dreamt of being a homeowner for years.  But the inspector I hired found a few issues.  Is my dream shattered? You still may be able to follow through with that dream. You did the right thing by hiring an inspcector – the money it costs upfront can save you thousands in the long run! So the inspector’s findings should be considered very seriously if they fall into the following categories:

  1. Mold: If you smell anything musty in the home, be on the lookout for mold.  Mold could be caused by poor air circulation or water leakage issues.
  2. Pests: Damage caused by termites and other pests can lead to costly repairs.
  3. Faulty wiring: Outdated wiring and electrical problems in a home can cause fire hazards. Be on the lookout for any indication of faulty wiring, such as exposed cabling.
  4. Poorly done projects: Ensure the previous home owner’s do-it-yourself projects were done correctly and are up to code. A poorly done flooring and  wallpaper that has been painted-over can be time-consuming and costly to fix.
  5. Drainage problems: Test sinks by running water and checking the drains.  Flush toilets to test for any potential problems. Look in the yard for potential flooding areas.

Not every finding on an inspection report is a reason to cancel the dream, just make sure you are protecting yourself from any known future issues that could be time-consuming and costly. Asking for a 2nd opinion is an option as well. Make sure you are working with a professional Realtor and Mortgage professional to ensure your needs are being met and rights are being protected as a buyer!

Paolo asks…What are the top things I should focus on to maintain my good credit score?

Credit CardIf you keep these tips in mind – your credit scores should always be high.

  1. When possible, make automatic payments so bills get debited from your checking account at the same time every month.
  2. Pay on time – every month.
  3. Pay down credit card balances – pay more than the minimum payment.  You should stay under 50% of your available credit, even if you pay the entire bill every time.
  4. Do not close a credit card, even if you do not use it.  When you add up the balances of all of your outstanding debts and compare it to the credit limits –  there should be at least 50% credit available.
  5. Do not get tempted to apply for instant accounts at department stores, even if you get a savings.  In general, it is not good for your FICO score.

Our IN-HOUSE Credit Services Department can evaluate the credit report and offer personalized recommendations that could potentially improve a borrower’s credit rating.  This is a FREE service to ALL applicants of NOVA Home Loans!


Robert Asks… My agent showed my wife and I a house that is known to be haunted by local legend. It’s a little freaky – any way to know for sure?

Yes. If you currently have your eye on a home and are considering purchasing it but have a sinking suspicion that it may already have an “occupant” or two, there are in fact a few things you can do.

First and foremost, you should check the seller’s disclosure. This disclosure is a form which reveals what the seller knows about the property’s physical condition and they are required to complete it. In this disclosure the seller may in fact reveal what oddities or paranormal activity they may have experienced while living in the home.

If the seller’s disclosure shows no sign of haunting activity, there are a few more things you can do to help with your peace of mind. Take some time to talk with the neighbors and ask questions about the home. Ask what exactly they know about it. The more you know the better. And odds are the neighbors would know the most about it and know the history of the home. Use the local library to research records and previous owner’s names and information. You can check the police records as well to check for deaths and or criminal activity at the home. You may even find newspaper articles about the home if there was ever any unusual activity! These types of reports typically get media attention.  The Internet will be a good tool in your research as well. You never know what a simple Google search may turn up.

Now in the rare case that you are seeking a haunted home as your next residence or are currently trying to sell your haunted home, you’re in luck. There are resources available, that will direct you to real haunted home listings. Search on line for paranormal home listings and make sure your agent details the activity in the listing- many people are fascinated by haunted houses and you will most likely have a buyer in a very short time!!

If the thought of buying a “haunted home” is still a little freaky to you  – then move on – this is just one of thousands available and the right one is just waiting for you to be the rightful owner.

Sharon Asks….How do I choose a mortgage provider I can trust?

Smiling business teamFirst Things First – Do your Research!!

There are great resources for you to use when researching which mortgage provider is best for you.  Check with your local Better Business Bureau and ask for a company reliability report.  Also, seek referrals within your own network of friends, co-workers, neighbors family and a trusted Realtor.

Gather a list of potential mortgage companies and ask them questions:

  • Are you affiliated with Industry Associations?
  • Are you a Lender or a Broker?
  • Do your loan officers have experience and education?
  • Will you provide a written estimate of loan terms and costs?

Kep in Mind:

  • No money should be required up front for your loan application other than a credit report or an appraisal
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Be prepared to answer personal questions about your employment, income, and credit history.  Consider how much you want your monthly payment to be and understand you may qualify for a loan and payments for more than you are wanting to spend. Do your research and make decisions comfortable for you.

You can check Cheryl’s credentials at the following places.


Josh and Karen Ask…We want to move soon. How should we prepare our home to sell?

home_for_sale_sign_11Sometimes a little planning can make all the difference in selling a home.  Remember you only get one shot for your home to make a wonderful first impression! Some Pro Tips for preparing your home to sell are listed below.

  1. De-clutter: Donate it, dump it, or if you really need it, store it.
  2. De-personalize: Remove family photos, personal memorabilia and keepsakes.
  3. Remove furniture: Create the feeling of space, especially if square footage is limited.
  4. Clean: A clean home tells buyers that it is well-maintained.
  5. Paint: Keep the walls neutral to appeal to more buyers.
  6. Bring in the light: Remove heavy window treatments, clean windows, and bring in lamps.
  7. Add curb appeal: Clean up the yard, trim shrubs, add a nice doormat to welcome visitors.
  8. Minor Repairs: Replace light bulbs, fix leaky faucets, make sure closet doors are on track and clean grout.
  9. Update kitchens & baths: Buyers place a huge value on updates

Remember to create a positive first impression and showcase the best attributes of your home.

what customers are saying

"Annie and I wish to say thanks to ALMC Mortgage for all they have done for us in getting the mortgage we wanted." –John W.

"I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to ALMC for hustling to meet my desired closing date." –Debi

"Cheryl, Thank you so much for all you did for us to help us buy our first HOME!" –Matt & Alicia

"Cheryl and Jessica were great at getting my loan done. Very professional and always looking out for their customer." –Lindy

"Our loan went smoothly and it was hassle free. I will recommend ALMC to all of my friends!" –RJ Ramirez

"You kept us informed and went out of your way to take care of our needs. Thank you!" –Doug & Dotty Smith

"ALMC has twice exceeded my expectations. A great big thank you!" –David Moylan

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