Jake Ott

What questions should you ask a mortgage lender before entrusting them with what will likely be the largest purchase of your life? 

Questions should include the following: “What mortgage products do you offer? Which would you suggest for my specific situation? Why? Would the zip code I am looking for qualify for any special programs? What fees do you charge at closing? Negotiable? Any discounts? Will I have to buy private mortgage insurance, and if so, how much will it cost, and how long will it be required?”

It sounds complicated, but we keep it simple by finding the right solution for you.

How should a buyer get started?

The first step is to get pre-approved by a local lender. 

For your offer to be taken seriously, you must be pre-approved by a local lender who is invested in the community, an expert in the local market, and invested in your well-being. Internet lenders don’t count—their offers are rarely worth the paper they’re printed on. 

Be prepared with your personal information, income documents, and bank statements when applying for a loan, but don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it. 

What should buyers do to ensure they are prepared to make an offer when the time is right?

Get pre-approved ahead of time! I can’t stress that enough! Some Realtors won’t show properties without one, so it is necessary to be pre-approved before the house-shopping process begins.

It’s also important not to make large purchases or take on any debt when planning to buy a home. Have the cash needed for a down payment and closing costs safely tucked away in a savings or checking account. 

Interest rates are relatively high compared to the last 10-15 years. What, if anything, can be done to offset the payment increase? 

We offer a one-time, no-cost refinance for anyone buying in 2024. This will take the sting out of the principal addition when the opportunity for a lower rate comes along. Also, temporary buy-downs are a great option for those with payment sensitivity. Remember that a few extra monthly dollars are peanuts compared to the equity that purchasing a home gains. Now is when everyone who can afford to get in the housing market should do so. Home values and bidding wars are only increasing going into the summer and moving forward. 

What type of loans are offered?

We offer a full range of products, including conventional, Veterans Administration (VA), Federal Housing Administration (FHHA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), down payment assistance, renovation, fix-and-flip, Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), new construction and more. 

How much down payment do you need to buy a home?

We offer zero percent down payment options and low down payment options. For a VA or USDA, you need 0%; conventional loans as low as 3-5%; FHA 3.5%; second homes require 10%, and investment properties as little as 15%. 

What are the pros and cons of purchasing rather than renting?

Building Equity: When you buy a home, you’re investing in real estate. Over time, as you pay down your mortgage and your home appreciates in value, you build equity in your home, which will be a valuable asset and provide financial stability in the long run.

Tax Benefits: Homeownership often comes with tax benefits, such as deductions for mortgage interest and certain closing costs. These deductions can help reduce taxable income and lower overall tax liability for homeowners.

Are there down payment assistance programs?  

We offer multiple down payment assistance programs through MS Home Corporation, Chenoa and Federal Home Loan Bank. Assistance ranges from $7,000 to $15,000.

Do you advise clients on how to improve their credit scores? How long does the process typically take? 

Every day! Our goal is to provide financial guidance for our clients. We help with rapid rescores for those who need quick increases. Depending on the circumstances, it can happen anywhere from a week to a year. 

How long does the process typically take, from application to closing?

Once we receive a complete application, we are typically ready to close within two to four weeks, depending on the client’s circumstances. 

Why you?

My passion for the lending side of the real estate business is turning houses into homes for my clients. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside some of the coolest and most interesting people I know as clients and business associates during my 13-year career. Many of them have become lifelong friends. I even met my incredibly talented, beautiful and wise (tongue-in-cheek) wife, Amelia, over a mortgage conversation! She went with the other lender, so I, naturally, never gave up. It wasn’t the worst decision she’s ever made, but close! Within a year, we refinanced her loan and saved her $400 a month! Fortunately, she followed up that bad decision by saying “yes.” She and our 17-year-old daughter, Ana, are where I find joy. They keep me on my toes and keep the laughter flowing. They put the fun in my life, which allows me to put the fun in funding!