David Metzdorf | Somerville Real Estate, Cambridge Real Estate, Burlington Real Estate


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Of course, you want to stay within your budget when buying a house. You certainly want value for your dollar. But a buyer should never lose sight of the fact what they truly desire is getting the home they want and that fits their needs. To that end, potential buyers may put in a “low-ball” offer on a house they truly want. They may risk losing a home that meets all of their qualifications by placing an offer that is five or ten thousand dollars less than a price the seller is willing to accept. What can be even more frustrating is that even if a buyer's offer is accepted by a seller, the buyer may just waste that money, or more, on the mortgage they acquire.

Buyers may be surprised to learn how much even a half of one-percent difference in a mortgage rate can make.

Example One

In our first example, after a down payment, a buyer gets a mortgage for $250,000 over 30 years at 4.5% interest. The monthly payment would be about $1,267 monthly. Over the course of 30 years, those payments would total $456,120. The net cost of the loan is $206,120.

Example Two

In our second example, we take that same $250,000 mortgage over 30 years, but the buyer compared mortgage rates and was able to find a lender offering that same loan at 4.0% interest, one-half of one-percent less. The monthly payment would now be $1,194, totaling $429,840. The net cost of this loan is $179,840. The difference between the two loans is $26,280. All because of a .5% interest rate difference. 

The Best Way to Save Money on a Home

Rather than chancing to lose a home you really like by making an offer that is too low, consider instead performing due diligence on mortgage rates. Seeking out a lower rate can be critical in saving you five, ten or twenty thousand dollars or more. That's a far better solution than losing a home you really wanted.

There are a lot of factors that go into determining loan rates for mortgages. These include the buyer's credit rating, work history, income to debt ratio and loan to value ratio. The bottom line is the better your credit the more options you will have in securing a mortgage loan.

One of the best ways to save money on buying a home is saving money on your mortgage rates. The best way to do that is by monitoring your credit rating and working to build it. When it comes time to buy a home, get pre-qualified and compare mortgage rates. You can even use an online calculator to compare rates on your own. Need further assistance in determining how to find the right mortgage for you? Feel free to reach out, and we can embark on your mortgage and home journey together.


A wise man once said to hope for the best, but plan for the worst. When you’re contemplating buying a house, even before beginning the actual application itself, it’s helpful to consider what could possibly lead to its rejection. This is especially important if you’ll be applying for your home loan at a traditional bank. These are particularly finicky with whom they give house loans after the 2008 financial crisis. So, here are a few pitfalls you need to sidestep when filling in your application forms.

Sketchy job history

In order to be sure you’ll be able to pay them their money back, lenders like to get a picture of a steady flow of income in the near future from applicants. You won’t help this cause if your job history reads like a game of musical chairs. Or if there are gaps in your recent past where you had no source of income. Mortgage officers like to see some sort of stability in the income streams of applicants. If they don’t get that impression, your pre-approval might not see the light of day.

In that vein, be sure to document your income streams and assets well in anticipation of the day you will be making that application. This preparation could be the difference between approval and rejection.

Low credit score

A low credit score can be as a result of unpaid debt or debts that you eventually paid up but didn’t update on your FICO records. Either way, if your score is lower than 620, lenders will consider approving your mortgage a risky investment. A low credit score should not, however, spell death to your dreams of owning a home. Get your credit score from one of the many available online sources and see how you can improve it. After a couple of months, you will find yourself eligible for that mortgage.

Outstanding tax liens

An unpaid tax lien or judgment from the past that you may have forgotten about may negatively affect your application. It may not be a problem in the initial stages, but at the point when your lender does a title search for the property, unpaid federal or state tax liens will surface. A clear title policy cannot be issued with outstanding tax liens or judgments. 

Find out your FICO score for free online and talk to your lender to determine the best course of action for you.


Borrowing against your home is called home equity. Home equity is the value of your property after deducting your remaining mortgage balance and is one of the sources of income for homeowners. After ultimately paying off your mortgage, it’s possible that the value of your property increases – which also increase your equity amount. 

If you live in a neighborhood that improved in quality over time, the value of your home may get appraised at a higher value than the initial cost of purchase. Borrowing against your home means using your home equity as collateral to take out a loan. Using your home equity to lend serves as a guarantee to the lender that you will pay the  loan back. If you default in repaying the amount borrowed at the stipulated time, the financial institution may evict you out of your home and put it up for auction. Borrowing against your home is a risky decision to make and one that requires due caution. After paying off your mortgage of about thirty years, it would be regrettable to lose your property to a home equity loan. 

There are various reasons why homeowners seek to borrow against their homes - if properly used, it could be a sizeable benefit to the owner. The equity loan debt repayment is usually for five to fifteen years. There are two options for granting equity loans; the large lump sum of cash or the equity line of credit. 

Using the large lump sum of cash method allows you to take a considerable amount up front which you repay overtime in fixed monthly installments with a fixed interest rate.  The equity line of credit has a more flexible plan, and you might get approved for a maximum amount available. Out of the amount agreed, you can borrow the amount you require and also borrow multiple times from the amount approved. The disadvantage to this option is that lender can freeze your line of credit unexpectedly even before you get the chance to use the money. 

The advantages of borrowing against your home include:

  • It comes with a fixed interest rate that’s usually lower than other forms of loans
  • It’s a more accessible alternative to get a considerable amount of money in a short time. 
  • It’s secured on your house value.
  • You get cash when you apply for an equity loan.
  • You can remain in your home while repaying the loan

Disadvantages of borrowing against your home:

  • You have to make monthly payments.
  • Failure on your part to repay the loan would lead to giving up your property. 
  • The cost involved in getting an equity loan might push a borrower into more debt.
  • After acquiring the equity loan, you still have to pay your regular property taxes, maintenance cost, and your home insurance bill. 

Be careful when deciding to borrow against your property. Be sure you have all the information you need and a solid financial plan.


For those who want to acquire a house, it helps to get your finances in order. That way, you can quickly and effortlessly navigate the homebuying journey without having to worry about how you'll afford your dream house.

There are many quick, easy ways to straighten out your finances before you embark on the homebuying journey, such as:

1. Assess Your Credit Score

Your credit score ultimately can play a major role in your ability to secure a great mortgage. If you understand your credit score, you may be able to find ways to improve it prior to conducting a home search.

It is important to remember that you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Request a free copy of your credit report today, and you can take the first step to evaluate your credit score.

If you find that your credit score is low, there is no need to worry. You can always pay off outstanding debt to improve your credit score over time.

Also, if you identify any errors on your credit report, you'll want to address these mistakes immediately. In this scenario, you should contact the agency that provided the report to ensure any necessary corrections can be made.

2. Look Closely at Your Monthly Expenses

When it comes to buying a house, it generally helps to have sufficient funds for a down payment. The down payment on a house may fall between 5 and 20 percent of a home's sale price, so you'll want to have enough money available to cover this total for your dream residence.

If you evaluate your monthly expenses, you may be able to find ways to save money for a down payment on a house.

For example, it may be beneficial to cut out cable TV for the time being and use the money that you save toward a home down payment. Or, if your dine out frequently, cooking at home may prove to be a substantial money-saver that could help you speed up the process of saving for a down payment.

3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

With pre-approval for a mortgage, you can enter the housing market with a budget in hand. Then, you'll be better equipped than ever before to narrow your search to houses that fall within your price range.

To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you'll want to meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can teach you about different mortgage options and help you assess all of the options at your disposal.

Furthermore, don't hesitate to ask banks and credit unions about how different types of mortgages work. This will enable you to gain the insights that you need to make an informed decision about a mortgage based on your financial situation.

If you need extra help as you prepare to pursue a house, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. In fact, a real estate agent can help you find a high-quality house at a budget-friendly price in no time at all.


There are a number of programs, government-sponsored and otherwise, that are designed to help aspiring homeowners find and get approved for a mortgage that works for them.

Among these are first-time homeowner loans insured by the Housing and Urban Development Department, mortgages and loans insured by the USDA designed to help people living in urban and rural areas, and VA loans, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.


In today’s post, I’m going to give you a basic rundown of VA loans, who is eligible for them, and how to apply for one. That way you’ll feel confident knowing you’re getting the best possible deal on your home mortgage.


What is a VA Loan?

VA loans can provide soon-to-be homeowners who have served their country with low-interest rates and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).

If you’re hoping to buy a home soon and don’t have at least a 20% down payment, you typically have to take out private mortgage insurance. This means paying an extra insurance bill on top of your monthly mortgage payments. The downside of PMI is that it never turns into equity that you can then use when you decide to move again or sell your home.

Loans that are guaranteed by the VA don’t require PMI because the bank knows your loan is a safer investment than if it wasn’t guaranteed

VA loans may also help you secure a lower interest rate, or give you some negotiating power when it comes to discussing your interest rate.

Finally, VA loans set limits on the number of closing costs you can pay in your mortgage. And, if you’ve ever bought a home before, you’ll know how quickly closing costs can add up.

Who is eligible?

There are some common misconceptions about who can apply for a VA loan? So, we’ll cover all the bases of eligibility.

If you meet one of the following criteria, you may be eligible for a VA loan:


  • You’ve served 90 consecutive days during wartime

  • You’ve served 181 days during peacetime

  • You’ve served six or more years in the Reserves or National Guard

  • Your spouse died due to their work in the military

There are some restrictions to these eligibilities. For example, your chosen lender may still have credit score minimums.

Applying for a VA Loan

There are two main steps for applying for a VA Loan. First, you’ll have to ensure your eligibility. You can do this by checking the VA’s official website. Be sure to call them with any questions you may have.

Next, you’ll need a certificate of eligibility. The easiest way to acquire one is through your chosen lender.  If you haven’t chosen a lender, you can also apply online through the eBenefits portal, or by mailing in a paper application.

Once you have a certificate, you can apply for your mortgage and you’ll be on your way to buying a home.




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