Meet First-Time Homebuyers, Carlee and Kasey – Universal Lending #FirstMove

 

First-time homebuyers have a lot on their plate. They are entering a financial world that is unfamiliar to them, they are saving nickels, dimes and dollars everywhere they can, and they often feel overwhelmed by questions for which they don’t have answers.

Carlee and Kasey were no different, but they were lucky. They had Universal Lending loan officer Elizabeth Turra on their team. Check out their story and learn how:

  • they gained the confidence to consider buying a home in a challenging market;
  • they were educated about the process and the difficulties that may arise during the loan process;
  • how they moved ahead with their purchase even when they occasionally got cold feet;
  • and how they learned to trust they were making the right move.

At Universal Lending, we are people helping people achieve their dreams. We work hard to communicate and educate each homebuyer, so they know their first move and all the moves after are the right moves.

Unique Party Games for the 4th of July

Little patriots

We’re celebrating America’s independence in just a couple of weeks. Are you ready? If you’re hosting a barbecue, you may want some ways to have some fun.  Try some of these 4th of July games to spice up your party for children and adults. These games can be played outside or inside.

Red, White and Blue Balloon Pop
Get balloons for all of the kids at your party (adults, too!). Put notes in each balloon. Put them around the party area. When the kids pop the balloons, they get the prize that’s written on the note. Make sure you have enough prizes and balloons for each kid. And if you play this with adults and kids, make sure to separate the two balloon stomps so the prizes are age-appropriate.

Uncle Sam’s Hat
Set up a special table with craft supplies – safety scissors, glue, tape, stars, glitter, construction paper, cotton balls and any other Fourth of July themed craft supplies you’d like to include. Children, teens and adults can make their own Uncle Sam hat. Wear them all day or have a parade to show them off. If you’re looking for a photo for your social media to showcase your Fourth of July holiday, people in their hats will be picture perfect.

America History Trivia
Do you have a backyard full of trivia fans? Get some U.S. history facts and divide trivia buffs into teams or play as individuals. Players can use bells or buzzers to “ring in,” and answer the questions. One person can be a designated “question asker” and another can be the score keeper, or you can take turns.

Independence Day Scavenger Hunt
Get some small Fourth of July themed objects – Liberty Bell, a small Declaration of Independence, flags, mini Uncle Sams and whatever else you can think of. Hide these items inside or outside and create clues that help your guests find them. Let kids work in teams of two or three but hide these items well!

There’s a lot of time between grilling burgers and hot dogs before the fireworks start. Don’t miss a beat. Have fun from beginning to end on this special day. 

10 Dog Hikes that Coloradans and their Best Friends Love

 


Hiker and Dog Sitting on a Rock at Ice LakeAre you and your 4-legged best friend ready to get into gear and get out into the great Colorado outdoors? Grab his leash, grab his water bottle (and yours, too), grab some plastic bags, and get going. Here are 10 of great Colorado hikes that will give you and your hiking companion a taste of what this great state has to offer. Some of these are easy, some are moderate and others strenuous, so make sure you pick the one that is right for you.

Dome Mountain Trail: A strenuous hike near Loveland that climbs to the summit of Sheep Mountain, high above the Big Thompson River and Canyon. The trail is well marked with informative signs that guide you through the plant life, erosions and interesting geology.

Rainbow Lakes Trail: A 2.5 miles out and back trail near Nederland. This hike features a lake and is recommended for hiking from June – October, and is accessible for all skill levels.

Forsythe Canyon to Waterfall and Gross Reservoir: This 2.2 mile out and back trail near Nederland features a lake and waterfall and is accessible for all skill levels. It’s shady, if you’re looking to escape the sun.

North Cheyenne Canon Park: This state park is near Colorado Springs and offers 56 miles of trails, from easy to moderate. Check out the website for a trail guide that can help you decide where to start.

Elk Meadow Park: In Evergreen, Elk Meadow Park is meets the expectations set by its name, providing a likely space to see elk. Your dogs must be leashed at all times for the safety of you, your dog, the elk and other park visitors. This park offers myriad options from easy to difficult.

Alderfer/Three Sister Park: Near Evergreen, you can hike through old stands of Ponderosa Pines, check out landmark rock formations, and view stunning vistas. This park boasts the most trails per acre of any foothills park, with over 15 miles on 1,127 acres.

Red Rocks Trail: The Red Rocks Trail outside Denver is great for a sunrise hike, if you and your dog are early risers. The park includes a cave carved into the sandstone and an interesting geological overlook.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park: Over 35 miles of trails provide something for everyone. Whether you want to spend just an hour or two or make a weekend out of it, you’re going to find stunning views and opportunities for much exercise.

Mount Falcon Park: Hike to an old castle, a lookout tower, and to a site that was intended to be the “Summer White House.” While you’re there, check out gorgeous views of Denver, Red Rocks and the mountains. Close to Denver, in Morrison, Mount Falcon offers this and more.

Three Mile Creek Trail: Be prepared to spend the day with your best friend. This hike, outside of Bailey, is 14-mile trail through a dense deciduous and conifer forest. You’ll cross over a shallow stream several times.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for all Colorado has to offer for hiking. This dog-friendly state makes it easy for you and your best friend to spend time together in the great outdoors. Check out more hikes here and read how to keep you and your dog safe. And have a favorite hike that you and your best friend take? Let us know!

Decisions, decisions – FHA or Conventional Loan?

Piggy Bank and Scales of Justice - 3D Rendering

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re considering a home loan. The last thing you want to feel is conflicted and confused! We’re here to help. One of the questions we hear most often is “What is the difference between a conventional loan and an FHA loan?” Let us tell you.

FHA stands for Federal Housing Administration, which means that FHA loans are backed by the government. Originally, they were created to help make homeownership more accessible to buyers with damaged credit or minimal savings. Over time, they became popular across all income levels and especially with first time buyers.

Conventional loans are your “basic loan.” They must conform to specific guidelines, but they are not backed by the government. They also are very popular.

Both loans offer you flexibility in type (fixed rate vs adjustable rate) and term length (30 years or 15 years).

There are some key differences between the two loan types.

FHA vs Conventional Credit Guidelines

FHA Credit Score Requirements
FHA has lower credit score requirements. A credit score of 580 or over allows you to make a down payment of just 3.5%. If your score is between 500-579, and you need to put down at least 10%. Buyers with credit scores under 500 likely won’t be able to qualify.

Conventional Credit Score Requirements
Exact credit score numbers needed vary from lender to lender and are impacted by other factors, but as a “rule of thumb,” 620 is generally the lower limit of conventional credit requirements.

Down Payment Requirements
One of the biggest myths about mortgage loans is that you need to put 20% down to buy a home. There are options available to put as little as 3% down.

FHA Loan 3.5% Down Payment
With an FHA loan, you can put as little as 3.5% down. For many, this is the same amount as you’d put down for a rental deposit.

Conventional Loan 3% Down Payment
With a conventional home loan, you can go as low as 3% with the program’s “conventional 97 loan.”

Private Mortgage Insurance for FHA and Conventional
If you put less than 20% down using any loan except a VA loan, you must have private mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance (PMI) protects lenders in the event that borrowers with low equity default on their loans.

FHA Loans
FHA loans insurance is an upfront amount paid at closing, with a monthly mortgage insurance premium. To remove this, borrowers must refinance when they have 20% equity in their homes. 

Conventional Loan PMI
PMI is simple with conventional loans. Once you have 20% equity in your home, PMI drops off. You can get there by putting 20% down on the house for your down payment, or by paying PMI until you hit 20% equity with your monthly mortgage payments. Your lender is legally required to drop your PMI automatically at 22%, or per your request at 20%.

Income Requirements
Debt to Income (DTI) is the percentage of your gross monthly income that will go toward paying off debt Lenders use the following formula to work out this number:
monthly expenses ÷ pre-tax monthly income = DTI %

FHA Debt to Income Requirements
With FHA home loans, some lenders may offer a bit more flexibility if the borrower’s finances and credit are good.  However, you want to choose a lender who has your best financial picture in mind, so working with someone who wants you to get your DTI more in line is a positive factor for your long-term financial security.

Interest Rates
FHA loans tend to come with lower interest rates than conventional loans, likely due to the fact that FHA borrowers have historically been less likely to pay off their mortgage early than conventional borrowers. However, if interest rates are your only factor, the difference is usually negligible, and you can easily pay more in PMI during the life of the loan.

Property Eligibility for FHA and Conventional Loans

FHA Property Guidelines
FHA home loans are backed by the government and are designed to help families, so they place more restrictions on the type of house that qualifies.
• Must be occupied by the buyer
• Must be your primary residence
• Must be occupied within 60 days of closing
• Must be assessed for safety with an additional home inspection
• Must be under the capped lending amount

Conventional Mortgage Property Guidelines
Conventional loans have fewer restrictions. Second homes and investment properties both qualify, and don’t require special inspections.

They have a capped loan amount called the conforming loan limit, which your lender can share with you.

Conventional 97 Property Qualifiers
However, if you use a conventional 97 loan and put just 3% down, there are additional requirements:
• The property must be a one-unit, single family home, co-op, PUD, or condo
• The property will be the buyer’s primary residence
• The buyer (or one of the buyers) can’t have owned a house in the last 3 years
• The loan amount is at or under the capped amount

Which Mortgage Loan is Right for You?
There’s no definitive answer here. Your lender will help you to review your finances to determine your best choice. You may want to consider the following:

An FHA loan may be best if:
• You have lower or no credit
• You have a lot of debt
• You already have an FHA loan and want to refinance
• You don’t plan on staying in the home long enough to hit 20% equity
• You have a bankruptcy or foreclosure in your past

A conventional loan may be best if:
• You have fair to excellent credit
• You have a reasonably low DTI ratio
• You need to be able to make the smallest possible down payment
• You want to be able to dump PMI without having to refinance
• You’re buying an investment property or second home

Remember, this is just a guideline to these two loan types. At Universal Lending we work to educate and inform our borrowers so they make the best financial decisions possible to keep themselves and their families financially secure while enjoying the benefits of homeownership.

Father’s Day is Here; Treat Dad Right.

iStock_000043537210_Large

Father’s Day is the one day of the year that we let Dad off the hook for home improvement jobs. Have some fun with Dad by doing something different. This list of ideas may pique Dad’s interest for Father’s Day, his birthday and any other day you want to say “Thanks, Dad.”

Is Dad a golfer? Join him in a game of Miniature Golf. You don’t have to be a professional putter to have fun with this family game and Dad gets to show off the skills you only hear about at home.

Or, if you are a golfer yourself, hire a PGA instructor and you and Dad can spend some time honing your skills, learning from an expert, and not worrying about a windmill getting in your way. If Father’s Day doesn’t work, you can present Dad with a gift certificate and something to look forward to.

There is no age to young or old to start a new tradition of camping on Father’s Day weekend. Check the weather, pack some gear and head out to spend Father’s Day with Mother Nature. If a weekend of camping just doesn’t fit your schedule, a one-day hiking trip may fit the bill.

Does Dad like museums? Pick out some exhibits to check out on Father’s Day and during the year. This isn’t just fun for Dad, it’s educational for the entire family.

Have a field day! Pack a picnic, head to a park or your backyard and have a field day. Potato sack races, tug of war, obstacle courses – these are all easy games to play. Want some more ideas for outdoor fun? Click here for tips for hosting an outdoor party.

If it rains, turn Field Day into Board Game Day and pull out the cards, Monopoly, Sorry, Risk or whatever is Dad’s pleasure. Instead of wrapping up the day with a barbecue, wrap it up with some popcorn and Dad’s favorite movie.

Are you both adults? How about a beer or wine tasting? As a bonus, bring home a few of your favorites to toast with on another special occassion.

Whatever your pleasure, it’s Dad’s day, so celebrate him however you decide!