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Posted On Monday, 13 September 2021 20:07
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“The first step in getting what you want from life is deciding what you want.” Ben Stein 

Your mortgage is usually the biggest debt you have. It is usually the one debt you keep the longest too.   Getting the right terms on your mortgage will impact your financial struggles and successes through life.  


Describe what you want in your home.  What are the amenities in the house that are a necessity? Describe the surrounding area where you want to live. Do you want to be in the city, the suburbs, or out in the country?   

How long do you plan to keep the home and the mortgage? What other activities will be a part of your lifestyle?  Will your home be located near those events and activities? What other financial events do you expect over the next five years?


How much can you comfortably afford to pay each month on your house payment? The usual advice you can find on financial posts and podcasts suggests keeping your total house payment under 33% of your gross income.  The total house payment includes taxes and insurance, mortgage insurance, and association fees.  These same financial gurus suggest keeping total debt under 43% of your gross income, including the new house payment.  Think about other activities where you spend money.  Your comfort level may be different than the standard recommendations. 

How much can you comfortably pay down to buy that house that is calling your name?   Remember to keep a healthy amount of emergency funds ready in the bank.  If you are short on funds to close, check out for down payment assistance programs in your area.  If you have a house to sell and will have a windfall profit coming to you within a few weeks of buying the new home, you may want to look at a temporary bridge loan to help until you sell the other house and pay off the bridge funding. 

Consult with a trusted financial advisor.   Other great resources to help you gather the information you need are reputable realtors, a knowledgeable and trustworthy lender, home inspector, real estate attorney and insurance professional. 


If you need down payment assistance, the geographic location of your home will be key on which programs are available. If you plan to keep this home longer than five years, a general rule of thumb is to stay with a stable, fixed-rate mortgage program.  The lower the interest on this loan, the better. If you are paying extra money to buy down the mortgage rate, make sure the difference you are enjoying in the lower payment will more than pay you back for the extra buy-down funds you paid for the lower rate. 

If you are not planning to keep the home for more than five years, the general rule of thumb is to minimize your costs to buy the house. The down payment you can get back if values continue to rise over time, but the closing costs to third parties is a cost to do the transaction and eats into your profit when you sell shortly down the road. 

Compare mortgage terms with other lenders.  If you are shopping mortgage terms with different mortgage lenders over a two-week period, you can risk getting a few credit pulls from mortgage companies. Those mortgage inquiries score as one inquiry to give you a chance to shop for the best terms without being penalized on your credit score.  

Remember, the lowest rate is rarely ever the best deal.   Look at the details on the estimate of closing costs. Some lenders quote an extremely low rate but have higher fees than a different lender quoting a little higher rate.  

Get your copy of Jo Garner’s new book “Choosing the Best Mortgage-The Quickest Way to the Life You Want.”  An essential mortgage guide with stories of people finding the right loan and overcoming common barriers.  

Buy on Amazon and Barnes and Noble or 

Posted On Monday, 13 September 2021 00:00 Written by

I often get asked, “How long does it take to be successful in this business?” The next most common question is “How many hours do I have to work to be successful?” Both questions are the opening to a discussion that is different for almost everyone who asks it. The first question leads to my return question, “How do you define success?” Success is different for everyone. It means different things to different people. To me, you must have a target to aim for and measure against. While time frame is important, does it really matter how long it takes as long as you get there? It also matters that once you reach what you consider to be successful, that you can stay there! Longevity matters! But to be specific, I have always maintained that a successful originator be able to average 8 to 10 units per month consistently year in and year out by themselves. Other than that, you decide. How long should it take to get there? Those that commit to the process and do the work can generally make that happen in the first 6 to 12 months in the business.

As far as the number of hours required to be successful. That becomes more of a challenge because there are significant differences in markets, types of loans, clients, availability of loan products, and how you choose to work your business. Clearly it takes a significant investment of time and energy to get started. You have much to learn, many things to master, and schedules that will constantly be refined. However, once you have become established and mastered the skills and schedules surrounding your business, you should find it easy to work a 50-hour week, taking one long vacation (two weeks) and three short vacations, one week, and a series of long weekends (three or four days) a year.

There will be times when you will work longer hours based on seasonal or situational opportunities, but you will see how your market tends to flow quickly and go from there. But again, how you work your business and with whom you work with has a lot to do with the time you commit. Some people work longer hours because they want to. Some choose to hire assistants to take some of the work off their plates and work less. It’s a choice you make for yourself. But yes, you can also work 80 hours a week and close 3 loans a month or work 35 hours a week and close 15 loans a month. It is YOUR choice!

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