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Understanding Which Mortgage Loan is Right For You: An Interview with Matt Hunter of Hunter Mortgage, Inc.

By Matthew Hunter

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Hunter Mortgage, Inc. is a family-owned business that allows for personalized and caring service from the beginning of the process to the closing table and beyond. We offer financing for purchasing primary, secondary and investment homes, and also refinancing for the above mentioned properties. Our loan programs include FHA, USDA, VA and Conventional loans.

What is one of the most important things for potential homeowners to know when they're starting to look at the different types of home loans?

First and foremost, borrowers need to know that we don't bite. When we ask for personal information and request permission to pull one credit repository (which is free), it is to find out which product would best fit their budget and credit situation. If we have to deliver unpleasant information about their current qualifications, we will offer advice on what they can do to get their credit score to go up and also what their income and savings will allow them to anticipate purchasing a home when the time is right. With this information, the borrowers get pointed in the right direction right from the start.

If the borrower(s) are well qualified with their current credit score, income and savings and they have a good idea of the dollar amount they want to spend each month, we can let them know what price to shop within. If they tell have no idea of what they could qualify for with their monthly income and debts, we can calculate the dollar amount they can spend monthly in order for them to qualify for any given program.

They also need to know that they have options. With each program, there are benefits and potential pitfalls. We'll take the time to explain the differences between their financing options and help them to make an informed decision.

Is there a common misconception about mortgages that you've seen first-time home buyers have?

The most common misconception that we've heard recently is that you have to have a twenty percent down payment. That's not true. While that large of a down payment opens up more opportunities and lower monthly payment, for a young home buyer that may not be realistic. We have several programs that offer low down payments and some that don't require a down payment at all, if the borrower qualifies.

How should people approach trying to understand the types of loans that are available to them and deciding which one is the best fit?

The easier ways to understand the difference between the different loan programs is to come and sit down with us. We will go over each type of program and will give the borrower a breakdown of several loan programs so that they can compare them side-by-side. We always appreciate an appointment so that we can spend the time necessary to cover all of their questions.

What are two or three of the most common types of loans that people apply for and the main benefit of each one?

A majority of the loans we close are Conventional, FHA or USDA, although we also close quite a few VA loans. Each has benefits and drawbacks when it comes to monthly payments, closing costs and down payment. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Our loan officers will spend as much time as necessary for our borrowers to understand which loan program would best fit their situation. This is a free service to all borrowers and also, Hunter Mortgage does not charge any origination fee for the loans they close, thus making closing costs much lower for any of the programs.

What advice would you give to prospective home buyers who want a lot of flexibility with their mortgage?

Our first piece of advice is to determine how much of a monthly payment they are comfortable with paying. That will drive the price of the home that they are looking for and which loan program would best suit their needs. Secondly, they need to know how long they plan on staying it their home. If it's not a "forever" home, an adjustable rate mortgage may offer a lower monthly payment but those often are not for the faint of heart. Their payments can fluctuate after the fixed period of the loan and would likely increase in the future, if their plans change. We do very few of this type of loan. The borrowers always have the option of the fixed rate mortgage that will never change during the life of the loan.

The interest only and less than interest only type loans have gotten many borrowers in trouble. We do not off that type of loan. If the borrower decides to pursue this program, it would be wise to do so in an area where there is significant appreciation.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your company?

The best way for people to reach us is to call 803-644-4010. A lot of the application process can be done over the phone. They can also use that number to set up an appointment time for us to sit down face-to-face and spend time looking at their options. Our receptionist is always ready to help people talk to a loan officer or set up an appointment. The borrower can submit a loan application on our website ( 24 hours a day. The application will come to us the following morning and we'll review it and call or email the borrower to advance to the next step for processing the loan. A word of warning is that the on-line application can be the most daunting. It may take a client 30 to 45 minutes to input their information and get the application submitted where it would only take a 10 minute phone conversation to go over the same information. The on-line application asks for more information than is actually needed and our loan officers can ask the right questions and save the borrower time and frustration.

The bottom line is that Hunter Mortgage is here to help guide any borrower along the road step by step to home ownership.

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