How to Buy a Rental Property: 5 Tips for First-Time Buyers

When it comes to making stable financial investments, purchasing a rental property ranks quite high on most people’s lists. An investment property can offer the chance to keep your money safe over a long period and can provide support and security for your family. Understanding how to buy a rental property is easy with the right lender by your side.

The team at TwinCity can help. As experts in the world of home loans, our concierge brokers provide you with the best rates, top service, and a smooth closing process. Whether you are buying a first home or a fifth, we have the experience to get the job done right.

The core steps in securing a loan for a rental property are similar to those for a primary residence. But there are other things to keep in mind that can be unique to this process. Here are five tips for first-time investment property buyers.

1. Pick a good location.

Location always matters in real estate and even more so for investment properties. This consideration is particularly important if you are planning to buy a short-term vacation rental property. You need to make sure that there is plenty of demand in the area where you are planning to buy. 

Spending some time on vacation rental sites such as VRBO or Home Away will help you gauge the demand in a particular area. If there are large numbers of rentals with a lot of availability, it may be a saturated market.

It is also a good idea to see what the popularity of a location looks like during the offseason. If you are planning to buy in a popular summer location, will you be able to make enough to carry you through the other months? Or vice versa?

For those looking to invest in a long-term residential property, the considerations will be slightly different but equally important. You not only need to consider the inventory, but also qualities such as:

  • Neighborhood information
  • Suitability of local schools 
  • Crime rates
  • Accessibility to public transit

When looking at a location for an investment property, be sure to find out if there are restrictions on rentals. Some homeowners’ associations, neighborhoods, and even towns have bylaws that limit or forbid rental properties. Make sure you verify that you will be able to use the place as a rental so that you do not have an unpleasant surprise after closing. 

2. Avoid a fixer-upper.

It can be tempting to grab a bargain on a property that needs a total overhaul. You may have a vision of selling it for millions when the time is right. With rental properties, however, you are best finding a home that requires minimal improvements, if any. 

Making small cosmetic updates can be a good use of your money if they don’t break the bank and are quick to complete. And sometimes, those properties have a great price tag, making it worth a little time and money to spruce them up. The goal when purchasing a rental property is to allow it to make you money as soon as possible. If you have to dump a lot of funds into it right away, you may not see a favorable return on your investment. 

3. Come to grips with expenses.

It can be easy to see an investment rental property as a fast, simple way to make some cash. You just subtract the mortgage amount from the rent and then go on a shopping spree, right? This isn’t quite how it works. You are responsible for all of the taxes, repairs, upgrades, and maintenance.

As a general guideline, you should expect at least 50% of your rental income to go back into the property in some form. In addition to the mortgage, your budget should cover all of the following costs, as they apply to your situation:

  • Capital expenses fund (new HVAC, windows, roof, etc.)
  • Property taxes
  • Property management fees
  • Utilities (for short-term rentals)
  • Insurance
  • Routine maintenance

In addition to ongoing expenses, the up-front costs to buy a rental property can be higher than you expect. Unlike for a primary residence, home loans for investment properties typically require 20% down. 

If you find a property in an excellent location, all of these expenses can be well worth it for your long-term wealth.

4. Try to buy below market value.

Those who routinely invest in real estate rental properties tend to follow one crucial guideline. Purchase a property that is available below the current market value. Grabbing a discount allows you to build equity quickly.

And work with your lender to find the most competitive interest rate. A broker will be able to serve you best. They can offer a wider variety of loan options and usually a better rate, as well.

5. Do your research.

When you consider how to buy a rental property, it’s great to get advice from multiple sources:

  • Your real estate agent
  • Your lender
  • Other landlords
  • Online experts

But none of these sources can be a substitute for doing your due diligence. Take time to understand what properties in your niche sell for, so you are ready if a great deal comes up. Get to know the area, the market trends, and the demand for rentals.

Tell your circle of contacts that you are looking for an investment property. You never know when they may be able to connect you with someone eager to sell. Putting in a little hard work from the beginning can mean that you are ready and waiting when a fantastic deal presents itself.

We Are Ready to Serve

Here at TwinCity Lending, we are dedicated to helping you. We can offer the guidance and advice you need to proceed successfully with an investment property purchase. As a concierge mortgage broker, we have all the tools necessary to get you the best loan package for your needs.

Get in touch today to have a chat with one of our experts and make your rental property dreams a reality.


Top 7 Home Improvements for Resale Value

One of the many reasons people choose to buy a home is the ability to sell that house to make a profit. Homeowners are not always sure of the best home improvements for resale, however. Home renovations and updates are time-consuming and can be expensive. So you need to make sure you know the best home improvement investments for you.

For starters, you can always look at current trends when trying to determine the best home improvements for resale. Those with cable television and streaming services can confirm that we are living in the golden age of home improvement. Homeowners interested in the best home upgrades have all kinds of inspiration surrounding them.

But the quest for quality home improvement ideas can almost feel like drinking from a firehose. Too much, too fast. Let the experts at TwinCity Lending help you narrow it down to seven of the best home improvement investments.

1. Garage Doors

Garage doors might not be quite as fun as shiplap in the bathroom or farmhouse tables in the kitchen. But even with the lack of glamour, garage doors are a sound investment.

If your home has garage doors that are visible from the street, replacing the doors can vastly increase its curb appeal. You will likely recoup about 98% of the cost of this project when you are ready to sell the home. There are many door and window styles, so you are sure to find something that enhances the look of your house.

2. The Kitchen

Homeowners who want to invest in the best home improvements for resale should consider a kitchen remodel. Even minor upgrades can pay big dividends.

The kitchen is the heart and soul of most homes, and it often serves as the family command center. From meal preparation to homework to entertaining, the kitchen meets a lot of needs.

Potential buyers typically have an updated kitchen high on their list of must-haves, so it is wise to get your space ship-shape. Homeowners usually recover about 80% of the cost of a minor remodel and about 60% of a major kitchen overhaul. 

Whether your kitchen remodel is major or minor, the decision is one of the best home improvement investments. A significant kitchen renovation is worth about $40,000 when you sell the property. A smaller upgrade can add between $15,000 and $20,000. And when you consider that homes with updated kitchens tend to sell quicker, a kitchen renovation is an excellent idea.

3. Deck Additions: Think Outside the Box

When looking at home improvements for resale, think about every part of the house, inside and out, front and back. A deck addition is an excellent way to increase your home’s resale value.

Decks are high-profile, and outdoor entertaining is extremely popular. The addition of a deck can add a resale value of around $10,000. Homeowners who opt to build a deck recoup up to 80% of the cost. If your home already has a deck, spending some money to give it a facelift is worth every penny.

4. Go Green: Save Money and the Planet

Installing energy-efficient appliances has multiple benefits. You can feel good about conserving energy, while also driving down your utility bills. In addition, your state may offer tax breaks to homeowners who install energy-efficient appliances.

Prospective buyers will appreciate your commitment to the environment. Many house hunters specifically look for homes with green touches, so your home will be able to stand out from the competition.

And appliances aren’t the only environmentally-friendly improvements. Consider installing new windows to help keep the house warm in the winter and cool during the summer. New windows can add about $11,000 to your home’s resale value, and have a recoup rate of around 75%. 

5. Make an Entrance 

In addition to decks and garage doors, another outside home feature that increases curb appeal is the entrance. Take a look at your front door and think about someone’s first impression. Would it appeal to a potential buyer? Is it dingy, dented, or out-of-date? 

Assess your front door to determine whether it needs a paint touch-up or maybe even a replacement. Front doors are one of the first things that house hunters notice, so this area is worth your attention. If you have a front porch, make sure it is in good repair and consider restaining or repainting to freshen it up. 

6. Make Every Side Your Good Side 

Damaged or worn siding will give prospective buyers an immediate bad impression. They are likely to view the home as a fixer-upper when shabby siding is on display. Siding replacement offers a high return on your investment since you will recapture about 75%. New siding is a worthwhile investment whether you plan to resell soon or not.

7. Bathroom Updates or Additions 

When it comes to the best home improvement investments, bathrooms can reign supreme when done correctly. For updates and renovations, the key is to make modest, good-quality changes. 

A $70,000 bathroom remodel is unlikely to pay off in the long run. But spending a fraction of that to update things like the fixtures, flooring, and vanity can give you a substantial return when you sell. 

One time that it does pay to tackle the bathroom is if you add a new one altogether. Taking a home from a one-bathroom listing to a two-bathroom listing adds a significant amount to the resale value. It also makes it much more likely that your home will sell fast.

Ready, Set, Go!

If you are ready to sell your home and move into something new, reach out to the concierge brokers at TwinCity. We are on your side throughout the whole process.

And for help financing your home improvement projects, contact us for information on a cash-out refinance. One regret homeowners often face is that they wait until they are selling to make improvements. Why not do them now so that you can enjoy them for a while?

TwinCity Lending offers competitive interest rates for home loans, home equity packages, and refinance options. Our lending professionals can help you assess the right tool for you.


How Do You Get a Home Loan for a Fixer-Upper?

Purchasing a home of their own is a dream for many people. But the high price of property often means that it can take a long time and a lot of saving to own a home. To save money, many prospective buyers decide to look for a property that needs some TLC. But getting a home loan for a fixer-upper has some nuances to keep in mind.

Securing a mortgage for a fixer-upper is a great way to get into a property that you can afford. Buying a home that needs a little attention is also the perfect way to make the home uniquely yours as you do updates, upgrades, and renovations.

For any home loan needs, the expert team at TwinCity Lending is here to help. Our concierge service ensures you get the best rates, service, and closing process.

Why Choose A Fixer-Upper?

Choosing a house that requires work can seem daunting, but it can also offer a host of benefits:

  • A Lower Price – If you have your heart set on a particular location, but the prices are out of your range, then a fixer-upper could be the perfect solution. Due to their less-than-perfect state, they often carry prices below market rate. The lower price point makes them a fantastic option. You could find yourself living in your dream location for a fraction of the cost.
  • An Older Home – In general, fixer-uppers tend to be older properties. This is perfect if you are looking for a space that is bursting with character and original items. Rather than designing a house that looks like all of its neighbors, you can restore the period features such as windows, cornices, and super-high ceilings. It is exciting to bring charm and majesty back to a faded beauty.
  • A Chance to Make It Your Own One of the significant appeals of a fixer-upper is the opportunity to put your spin on a property, and make it feel like your home. This chance is particularly exciting if you are planning to stay for the long term. You can design your perfect dream home right from the outset.  

What Are Your Options?

When deciding how to get a home loan for a fixer-upper, many buyers opt for a renovation loan. This type of loan package is beneficial when you want to buy a property that needs some work. It allows you to finance the purchase of the home, as well as the essential improvements required into one loan. You only have one monthly payment to cover the mortgage and renovations.

This streamlined home loan package is an ideal way to get started on homeownership without a considerable outlay of cash.  Some of the most popular renovation loan options include:

  • FHA 203(k): This choice comes through the Federal Housing Association and is accessible to those with a lower income and credit score. The FHA 204(k) is suitable for most home improvement projects. You can use the funds to carry out both structural and cosmetic renovations. Even better, work can begin as soon as you close.                                                                                                                                               

It is important to note that these loans are only suitable for primary residences. You will not be able to submit an application for renovations on a rental property or second home. There are also limitations on what you can do with the funds. Luxuries such as a pool or extreme landscaping do not qualify for using the loan money.

There are two types of 203(k) loans: limited and standard. The limited version is available to use for any renovations up to $35,000, as long as they don’t require major structural work.                                                                                                   

The standard option covers projects with budgets over $25,000 or where significant structural improvements are necessary. For this route, you must work with a HUD consultant. They will help the homeowner analyze bids and oversee all inspections.

  • VA Renovation loan: The loans offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs went through a recent update. Now they are eligible for use in the purchase and renovation of a home. Note that for this type of loan, you will need a VA-approved contractor, and there may be a construction fee attached to the loan.
  • Fannie Mae HomeStyle: A HomeStyle loan requires a higher credit score than the FHA 203(k) loans. But almost any home improvement is eligible, including landscaping or even installing a pool. With Fannie Mae backing, this loan is a popular choice if you are planning a total luxury overhaul of a property.
  • CHOICERenovation Loan: Guaranteed by Freddie Mac, this option carries a lot of benefits. It is ideal for those seeking a lower-cost home to purchase since it has a low down-payment requirement. Borrowers can even earn a down payment by making repairs themselves before closing.                                                                                     

A renovation loan is a perfect way to ensure that you can meet all your financial obligations while still working on developing and building your dream home.

How Do I Get Started On a Home Loan for a Fixer-Upper?

If you decide to head down this route, the first step is to talk with your lender. It is best to work with a mortgage broker rather than a loan officer who works with only one institution. The broker will be able to offer you more options for your financing needs. They will walk you through your options and help you determine the best loan for your needs. 

Once you have a plan with your lender, it’s time to go house hunting. Be sure you have an experienced real estate agent who can help you through this process. And unless you plan to do the work yourself, it’s a good idea to have a contractor available to give you some advice and input as well. 

When you are in contract on a property, you will likely need to obtain estimates for the work to be done. Sometimes this information is necessary to close the transaction. 

TwinCity for All Your Lending Needs

No matter what stage of home buying you are in, the friendly staff at TwinCity Lending is here for you. We can help you navigate FHA and VA loans, as well as home equity and jumbo loan packages. Reach out today to get started.


What Is a Reverse Mortgage and Is It a Good Idea?

Reverse Mortgage

There are a lot of opinions on the wisdom of using a reverse mortgage. Some people believe it is the best thing to happen to an older person’s finances. Others stress the pitfalls and dangers of this type of home loan.

The reality is somewhere in the middle. A reverse mortgage can be an excellent option for many homeowners. But it does carry unique rules and risks that people need to pay attention to before signing on the dotted line.

At TwinCity Lending, we take care of seniors with the respect and dignity they deserve. We will not steer you toward a home loan package that isn’t the right fit for you. But if a reverse mortgage is appropriate, we can help.

What Is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a home loan that works the opposite way of a traditional forward mortgage. In this type of loan, the home serves as collateral, just as it does in a forward home loan. But most other components of the mortgage work in reverse.

With a reverse mortgage, the homeowner borrows against the property’s equity. The lender makes payments to the homeowner instead of the other way around in this scenario. In essence, the borrower can convert their home equity into a significant amount of cash.

Seniors who qualify and choose to take out a reverse mortgage often use the cash to supplement their retirement income. Depending on the type of loan package, there may be stipulations on how the borrower uses the funds.

Home Loan for Seniors

What Happens to a Reverse Mortgage If the Homeowner Dies?

Many concerns about reverse mortgages center on what happens when the homeowner passes away, moves, or sells the home. But protections are in place for this situation. 

Lenders cannot offer a loan for more than the value of the home. Additionally, if the home’s value drops, making the loan balance larger than the home value, the borrower is not responsible for the difference. The borrower’s estate also will not need to repay that difference.

The loan is due in full when any of these events take place:

  • The borrower passes away.
  • The borrower sells the house.
  • The borrower moves out of the home for more than a year. This situation can happen in cases where the homeowner needs to go into nursing care.

Typically, the heirs or the estate sell the home to repay the loan. In some instances, the estate or heirs may choose to pay back the loan and retain the property.

Three Types of Reverse Mortgages

For those considering taking out a reverse mortgage, it’s essential to understand the options.


  • Single-Purpose Reverse Mortgage: This option is generally the least expensive loan choice. But it also is the most restrictive one. Single-purpose reverse mortgages are available through particular government and non-profit agencies. The loan paperwork specifies what the funds are for, and that is the only way the homeowner can use the loan money.
  • Proprietary Reverse Mortgage: This loan option is a rarely-used reverse mortgage. It is only available to borrowers with much higher home values than what a typical reverse mortgage allows. Although you may be able to borrow more money, you are likely to have a higher interest rate, as well.
  • Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM): The HECM is by far the most common form of a reverse mortgage. This version does not have income or medical requirements. HECM loans have backing from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Because of this fact, borrowers must go through a mandatory counseling session before proceeding with the loan. The homeowner pays for the counseling appointment.


Who Qualifies for a Reverse Mortgage?

This type of home loan is not as widely available as a traditional mortgage. There are specific requirements for qualification, and several of them relate to the home, not the borrower.

  1. You must be at least 62 years old and live in the home.
  2. The home must have sufficient equity, as determined by the lender.
  3. The property must be a single-family home. Two-, three-, and four-unit properties also may qualify if the borrower lives in one of the units.
  4. You must have enough income to cover home maintenance and other costs, such as insurance, taxes, and HOA fees.
  5. For HECM options, you will need to undergo the required HUD counseling session.

Is a Reverse Mortgage a Good Idea?

More than a million seniors have secured reverse mortgages since they became available in 1990. This loan option has allowed many homeowners to remain in their houses in spite of fixed retirement incomes. As with any home loan package, there are benefits and downsides to consider.

One of the greatest benefits to a reverse mortgage is the ability to remain in your home while freeing up money for expenses. Homeowners who have significant equity can supplement their income this way, allowing them to live a fuller life in retirement. Since there are no income or medical restrictions for obtaining an HECM, the reverse mortgage can be simple to get.

Many seniors like the idea of having additional income during their golden years. They appreciate controlling their money without having to rely on children or other family members for assistance. And as many people seek ways to age in place, the reverse mortgage is gaining popularity.

Those who qualify can receive their reverse mortgage funds in several ways:

  • Lump-Sum Payment: This distribution is the only one with a fixed interest rate and typically has a cap of 60% of your equity. 
  • Equal Monthly Payments: These payments can last the life of the loan or for a set amount of time, depending on loan terms.
  • Line of Credit: Seniors can draw against their equity and are only responsible for repaying the amount they draw.

Let’s Talk

Cash From Equity

If you or a loved one are considering a reverse mortgage, reach out to the experts at TwinCity Lending. We will thoroughly explain the ups and downs of this type of home loan to be sure you are set up for success. There are many scams out there, and we want to be sure you have protection.

It is our honor to serve the seniors in our community who have already contributed so much. Give us a call today to see if a reverse mortgage is right for you.

What Is a VA Home Loan Certificate of Eligibility?

United States Veterans

When it comes to home loans, the VA program is one of the most popular programs on the market. And rightly so, in our opinion here at TwinCity Lending. But many veterans aren’t sure how to start the process of securing a VA mortgage. It may feel overwhelming to get started, but the first step is to obtain your VA home loan certificate of eligibility.

This vital document also called a COE, is where your VA lending process begins. The VA loan eligibility letter tells the lender that you can receive home loan funding through this unique program.

The team at TwinCity Lending is proud to serve our nation’s active and veteran military members. It is an honor to help you secure a home loan so that you can enjoy the many benefits of the American Dream.

What Is a VA Home Loan?

Before getting too far into your eligibility journey, let’s clarify what a VA home loan is and how it works. This program has been vital in the stability of our nation.

VA Home Loan

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs oversees the VA home loan program. Passed in 1944 as part of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, the VA home loan provides backing for mortgages for those who serve in the military.

The Department of Veterans Affairs does not extend the loan for a home purchase. Instead, it guarantees the loan so that a lender has less risk in making it. Many service people leave the military without a credit history. And obviously, someone who is actively serving or recently discharged doesn’t have a traditional job history either.

With traditional home loans, these two factors would be stumbling blocks. Lenders would see this sort of borrower as too big of a risk. The VA-backed loan, however, provides partial repayment of the mortgage if the borrower cannot pay. This minimizes the risk that a lender must take.

In addition to backing the loan, the VA program also offers:

  • Low or zero-down payment requirements
  • Lower credit score requirements
  • More lenient income requirements

Those who qualify can use the VA home loan option to purchase a condo, mobile home, or single-family dwelling for their primary residence. It also allows borrowers to secure a loan to build or refinance their primary residence. It is not available to use for second homes or investment properties.

A home loan through the VA provides an incredible opportunity for military members and their families. It is a well-earned benefit for their service.

How Do I Get a VA Home Loan Certificate of Eligibility?

To secure your crucial COE, you will have to verify that you are eligible for the loan. There are specific requirements based on when you served, whether it was during war or peace, and how long you served. The reason for your separation from the military is also a factor.

Once you know that you are eligible for the program, you need to obtain the VA loan eligibility letter. To secure your certificate of eligibility, you can apply online through the Department of Veterans Affairs website. You can also apply by mail, although this takes more time.

As soon as your document arrives, you are ready to work with a lender to secure a home loan. The COE will work for any lender who offers VA mortgage options. Take the time to choose a lender you trust and who will answer all your questions. Many veterans opt to work with a mortgage broker such as TwinCity Lending to receive the best service, selection, and interest rates.

What Is the Process for Getting a VA Home Loan?

Military Family

When you have your COE in hand, obtaining your home loan will look much like it does for anyone else. Once you have chosen a lender or broker, the process is generally quite simple. It typically breaks down into five steps.

1. Get a Pre-approval Letter from Your Lender

Whoever you choose to work with for your VA home loan will generate a letter of pre-approval. This letter tells you and your real estate agent how much you can spend on a home. Once you are ready to make an offer on a property, this letter is crucial. It shows the seller that you are prepared to move forward right away. Buyers without this letter have a harder time entering into a contract.

2. Find Your Perfect Home

Work with an experienced realtor to find the right house for you and your family. Unless you have a critical time frame to work within, you don’t need to rush. Buying a home is one of the most significant investments you will make, so go ahead and take the time you need. 

3. Enter into Contract on a Property

Your real estate agent will help you make an offer once you find the home you want. If the seller accepts, then you are under contract to buy the house. Congratulations! This step is when your VA home loan lender will kick into high gear. There will be an appraisal and inspection, and you will likely need to provide more documentation to the lender. 

4. Close the Transaction

At TwinCity Lending, once we have all your documents, we typically can close on your home loan within two weeks. Assuming nothing significant shows up in the inspection and appraisal process, this is a relatively speedy part of buying a home. When you and the seller have signed everything, the paperwork will go into the county records. At that point, you will have the keys to your new home.

5. Move into Your New Home

VA Home Loan for Military

Now it’s time to enjoy this well-deserved reward of homeownership. You served with bravery and honor, and now you can cherish a home of your own. Thank you for your service.

Connect with a Premier Mortgage Broker

TwinCity Lending offers personalized concierge service to all of our clients. And it is an honor to serve those who have served our nation.

Reach out today with any questions about the VA home loan process. Our expert team will help you on your road to buying your very own home.

5 Reasons Minneapolis is One of the Most Fit Cities in the Country

Mountain Biking

There has been an increasing focus on being fit and taking care of yourself in recent years. People across America are more aware of how important the body is and work hard to take care of themselves. Minneapolis is no exception and is one of the most fit cities in the country.

If you are thinking about moving to a city that embraces fitness, Minneapolis is the perfect place. And if you are looking for a home loan in Minneapolis, we are here to help.

At TwinCity Lending, we strive to make purchasing your own home simple and even enjoyable. Contact us today and see how we can help you achieve your dream of homeownership.

As you consider making Minneapolis your home, let’s take a look at all the city has to offer.

Pedestrian-friendly town

1. Bike and Pedestrian Friendly

If you prefer walking or biking around town rather than driving, Minneapolis is the city for you. Minneapolis consistently ranked as one of the friendliest cities to bikers for multiple years. You will find countless paths for bikes throughout the city, along with neighborhoods designed for easy access without vehicles.

Some of the best bike paths in the city are the Midtown Greenway, Chain of Lakes, and the Minneapolis River Parkways. The Midtown Greenway sits in the southern region of Minneapolis along a railroad corridor. This safe path is 5.5 miles long and has year-round maintenance. It also joins with many other trails for ease of access.

One of the nicknames for Minneapolis is the City of Lakes. What better way to experience this than on the Chain of Lakes trail? Take in views of Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, and more. You will always find new sights on this 15-mile route.

The Minneapolis River Parkway is actually two different parkways. The East and West sections are on either side of the Mississippi River. There is no word on whether or not a wicked witch resides in either location. On this path, you will experience the sights of the Twin Cities, including the Stone Arch Bridge and the skyline.

In addition to being bike-friendly, many Minneapolis neighborhoods have high walkability scores. You’re sure to find a community where you can walk to morning yoga or to meet friends at a local bar.

2. Parks Galore

Minneapolis and the Greater Twin Cities are home to some fantastic parks. Whatever area of the city you live in will offer wonderful parks for you and your family. If you live in Minnesota, you know there is no shortage of natural beauty. The parks in Minneapolis are no exception.

Loring Park is in the central area of Minneapolis. Not only is Loring Park incredibly beautiful, but it is also easily accessible and very connected to other attractions in the city. The park itself covers 34 acres and is full of areas for cyclists and pedestrians. It offers numerous athletic courts, as well.

Minneapolis Lakes

Lake Harriet is an amazingly beautiful park located on the southwest side of Minneapolis. Along with the open spaces for enjoying a leisurely afternoon, the park boasts live music and movies throughout the year. For a fun afternoon activity, write a letter to leave at the elf house.

3. Covered Walkways

It comes as no surprise that there are months when the citizens of Minneapolis avoid being outdoors as much as possible. When the temperatures drop, the wind picks up, and the snow falls, a sheltered way to get around town is definitely a plus.

Thankfully, Minneapolis is ready. The Minneapolis Skyway System is impressive in its own right. You will stay warm and dry as you navigate the 9.5 miles of enclosed paths that cover an astounding 80 city blocks. Enjoy walking through downtown Minneapolis in comfort.

The cold winter weather won’t force you to stay cooped up at home. You will be able to stretch your legs and enjoy everything Minneapolis has to offer, no matter the weather.

You can hit the gym, do a little shopping, stop by the bank, and run all of your errands in the covered Skyway System. While you’re out, go ahead and grab a bite to eat, get a pedicure, and pick up a bottle of your favorite wine for the evening.

If you are looking for entertainment, you can even visit three different sports facilities as well as theatres and art galleries. Snow won’t keep you from getting to a show or a Vikings game when you live in Minneapolis.

4. Healthy Food

Farmers Market

If you are looking for a city that makes it easy to eat healthily and stay fit, you will find everything you need in Minneapolis.

A fantastic place to start is the Minneapolis Farmers Market. With multiple locations, days, and plenty of hours to shop, you will be able to get fresh and local food when you need it. Even when fresh produce is out of season, you will find fresh eggs, meat, and cheese, as well as crafts and homemade items.

What better way to support local growers and businesses than shopping at a farmers market? You will love the variety of local items you can find perusing the booths at any of the Minneapolis Farmers Markets. Jump right into the Minneapolis ethos and community at these events.

5. Healthy People

Minneapolis is full of people who value their health and wellness. Residents know how essential fitness is for living an enjoyable life, so you will have a built-in community to support your healthy lifestyle.

It is easy to stay fit in Minneapolis. Local restaurants offer healthy dining options. Gyms and yoga studios make it easy to exercise regardless of how Mother Nature behaves. And mental health centers provide support for those who need it.

Call TwinCity Lending

If all of this sounds too good to miss, call TwinCity Lending today. We will walk you through the process of getting a loan so you can begin your life in Minneapolis, one of the most fit cities in the country. Join a community of people who enjoy living a healthy life and know that the Twin Cities is the place to do it.

Can I Get an FHA Home Loan With Bad Credit?

Get An FHA Home Loan

Having bad credit doesn’t always have to stop you from buying a home. If you have a steady income that allows you to make a monthly mortgage payment, you may be able to get an FHA home loan even with bad credit.

There are several pieces of your financial health that a lender will look at, but there are options for those with credit challenges. Working with a mortgage broker is the best choice for finding a home loan package that will work for you.

At TwinCity Lending, you can learn how to get a home loan from our lending specialists. Contact us to learn more about the options we offer.

Will an FHA Home Loan Help You Buy a Home?

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides financial backing to qualified consumers. The FHA is not the lender for your home loan. Instead, they insure the loan so that lenders are willing to extend credit to borrowers who don’t qualify for traditional mortgages.

This program offers potential buyers the chance to secure a home loan even if they do not have a high credit score or a large down payment.

Credit Score for Home Loans

A conventional mortgage typically requires a buyer to have up to a 20 percent down payment to purchase the property. It also generally demands credit scores of at least 700 to secure a home loan with the best interest rates. FHA loans are different.

The benefits of an FHA loan are numerous. They can include:

  • Lower interest rates on the home loan you secure
  • Reduced closing costs
  • Lower down payment requirements
  • Improved access to credit with lower application requirements
  • The ability to purchase a more expensive home due to the lower interest rate

Every situation is different. Even if you have bad credit, you may qualify for an FHA loan so that you can enjoy the benefits of homeownership.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for an FHA Loan?

There are a few things you need to know about how to get an FHA home loan. Not everyone with bad credit will qualify. Those who wish to buy a house using this type of loan still need to provide proof of income to show they can make a consistent monthly payment.

To obtain an FHA loan, you must have a minimum credit score of 500. If your number is higher than this, you may qualify for additional savings opportunities. If you have a credit score of at least 500, you may be eligible to borrow up to 90 percent of the home’s sale price. This opportunity means you would need to provide only 10 percent as a down payment.

Some borrowers who have a score of at least 580 may benefit for additional financing opportunities. Your down payment requirement drops to just 3.5 percent at that point.

In addition to credit score expectations, other requirements exist. You will need to show:

  • Proof of consistent, adequate income
  • A debt-to-income ratio that is within the lender’s range
  • Proof that the property is in good enough shape to qualify

Your TwinCity broker will help you learn if you’re eligible to get a home loan using the FHA program. We can answer all of your questions about the requirements.

What If Your Credit Score Isn’t That High?

As noted, FHA does not provide home loans. Traditional lenders do. That means you still must meet the lender’s standards for borrowing money.

The FHA backing offers protection to the lender since it is riskier to provide a loan to someone with poor credit. Should you default on the loan, the FHA will pay the lender for their losses. Thanks to that financial protection, the lender is willing to extend you a mortgage at a reasonable interest rate.

If your credit score is lower than 500, the FHA may not be willing to approve your loan application. That means lenders would face a significant risk. This risk will likely mean they will not offer you a home loan. If you have a sub-500 credit number, consider following these tips for improving your credit score before you try to secure a mortgage.

Pay Down Your Debts

Get Rid of Debt

Instead of using credit, make purchases with a debit card or cash. Focus on paying down or eliminating consumer debt to lower your debt-to-income ratio. This ratio is a significant piece of the lending picture. If you have too much debt compared to your income, a lender will not risk extending you a loan. 

Check Your Credit Report

You can get a free copy of your credit report every year from each of the three credit bureaus. Take advantage of this service and check that everything on your credit report is up-to-date and accurate. Errors will lower your credit score, so address them quickly. 

Make On-Time Payments

One of the most significant impacts on your credit score is your ability to make payments on time. Use auto-pay features with your utilities and credit card companies to make sure the payments are never late.

Avoid Opening New Lines of Credit

When you are preparing to seek an FHA home loan, or any mortgage option, don’t open new lines of credit, such as new credit cards. Even if a new credit card has a zero balance, it raises a red flag to lenders. It is potential debt, and it gives them pause.

Consider Debt Consolidation

There are no legitimate companies that can repair your credit for you. Instead, ask your lender if there are options for consolidating your debt to pay it down faster. You might want to seek help from consumer credit bureaus as well. And once you do secure an FHA home loan, the TwinCity experts can explain how to use your home equity for debt consolidation when the time is right.

Ready to Apply for an FHA Loan?

Make a Budget

As you work with a lender to determine if you qualify for an FHA home loan, continue to make all the right financial moves:

  • Build up your down payment.
  • Create a budget and stick to it.
  • Pay down your debt.
  • Consider adding new income, if possible, to help boost your ability to qualify.

If you want to learn how to get an FHA loan or to learn about applying for any home loan, contact TwinCity Lending. Our team can help you to find a mortgage package that will work for you, even if you have less-than-perfect credit. Reach out today to schedule a no-obligation consultation with our team.

Your Guide to the Mortgage Interest Deduction: It’s Not Gone!

Mortgage interest tax deduction

As 2019 is coming to a close, most of us turn our attention to end-of-the-year festivities. Along with great food and joyous time with friends and family, the end of the year also means taxes. Because nothing says “party” like talking tax law and mortgage interest deductions.

So as you embark on the holiday season, you are probably eagerly anticipating tax time right around the corner. No? Just us?

Regardless, if you are a homeowner or are considering buying a house, it’s essential to have accurate information about the tax benefits. It is especially crucial to understand how your mortgage interest factors into taxes.

Get your ducks in a row

Every year it is important to get your ducks in a row to make sure you are prepared for the annual rite of taxation. Part of that preparation includes becoming knowledgeable about what you can deduct and what you cannot.

And to add a little spice to the meatball this year, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) kicks in. This tax reform bill arrived on the scene in 2018, but it did not kick in to affect tax returns until this year.

The TwinCity Lending team is here and ready to help you become a homeowner so that you can take advantage of the associated tax perks. Reach out today to ask questions or start a loan application. You’ll be in the home of your dreams in no time.

Tax Reform Misconception

In addition to changes in tax brackets, tax rates, family benefits, and standard deductions, there is a change in the mortgage interest deduction. Unfortunately, many homeowners mistakenly think that this tax break disappeared with the new law. 

There has been a lot of uproar over this supposed elimination of the deduction. But it didn’t go anywhere. It just changed. If you are a homeowner, it is likely you still qualify for this deduction. But first, let’s review and clarify what your mortgage interest is.

What Is Mortgage Interest?

Mortgage interest is the amount of money you pay for the privilege of borrowing the money needed to buy a home. When you fill out a loan application and seek preapproval for a home loan, the lender will tell you what interest rate you will pay to borrow the money. This rate works just like the interest on any other credit card, student loan, or car loan. But mortgage interest rates are generally much lower than others. This amount will be part of your mortgage payment each month.

Your monthly payment will generally cover the following obligations:

  • Principal loan amount
  • Interest charges
  • Mortgage insurance, if required
  • Homeowner’s insurance, if not paid separately
  • Property taxes, if not paid separately

Historically, those who own homes have been able to include the amount they pay in mortgage interest in their itemized deductions on tax returns. This tax benefit lowers the person’s taxable income, potentially saving them money.

Did the Mortgage Interest Deduction Disappear?

Mortgage interest

No, it did not go away. It’s still there, and most homeowners can take advantage of it.

Under the old law, homeowners could deduct the mortgage interest on a principal loan amount of up to $1 million. They also could deduct interest on home equity loans of up to $100,000. These deductions applied to primary residences or second homes.

So what changed? Taxpayers who are married and filing jointly now may deduct the mortgage interest on loan amounts of up to $750,000. The number is $350,000 for individuals. So although it is different now, the mortgage interest deduction is still around. And many people can benefit from it.

There is even more good news. If you acquired your mortgage before December 16, 2017, the old limits apply to you. So it is not all gloom and doom, as you may have heard. Securing a home loan and buying real estate is still a worthwhile financial goal.

Can I Still Deduct the Interest on Home Equity Debt?

This question doesn’t have as clear-cut of an answer. The tax bill removed the home equity interest deduction in some circumstances.

Specifically, to deduct this interest now, a homeowner must use the loan to buy, build, or make large-scale improvements to their primary or secondary residences. 

The new tax law changes keep valuable tax deductions within reach of most homeowners. The majority of home loans qualify the taxpayer to claim the mortgage interest deduction.

And a home equity loan or line of credit remains a great option to pay for big-ticket items. It can make it possible to get a new roof, a kitchen remodel, or an awesome second home.

And even if you need to use home equity for other needs, such as debt consolidation, it can still be a smart idea to do so. The interest rate for HELOC options typically is much lower than the rate on credit cards and other consumer debt. So it can be a worthwhile plan, even if you can’t deduct the interest. TwinCity Lending can help you get this started.

Get a home loan

Is Homeownership Still the Right Choice?

Buying real estate is absolutely the right move when it comes to building long-term wealth. Even with the tax reform changes, most homeowners will be able to deduct their mortgage interest. 

Any time there are sweeping changes to tax laws, misconceptions and myths can make the rounds. But the new bill does not eliminate the mortgage interest benefit as some do believe. This long-standing deduction has helped homeowners for decades, and that isn’t changing. 

TwinCity Lending Is On Your Side

Regardless of how the new tax rules affect you, the experts at TwinCity Lending are here to help you through the home loan process. We are a concierge mortgage broker team, and our experience and training have us ready to answer all of your home loan questions.

Whether you are just getting started as a home buyer or want to add to your existing real estate portfolio, we have you covered. We offer competitive mortgage interest rates and can help you with programs for veterans, first-time buyers, and more.

Reach out today and let our experienced staff make your dreams of homeownership a reality.

Top Six Reasons for Buying a Home During the Holidays

Buying a home at Christmas

The holidays are just around the corner. Chestnuts are roasting, and lords are leaping. It’s a busy time for most people as the events and gatherings fill up their days and evenings. In spite of how busy this time of year is, buying a home during the holidays is one commitment you may want to add to your calendar.

The holidays can be an excellent time to purchase a house. Seriously. That may come as a surprise, but buying a home at Christmas can be one of the best decisions you will make. With all the hustle and bustle of the season, it may feel like the worst time to attempt something as big as buying a home. But the savvy house hunter finds that crucial factors work in their favor over the holiday season.

Getting a home loan

If you are considering buying a home, don’t let the season stop you. The experts at TwinCity Lending have all the tools you need to get a home loan no matter the time of year. It is essential to understand the home buying process in general and make sure you set yourself up for success when buying a home during the holidays.

Home buying during this time of year creates some challenges. But it also offers fantastic benefits. You may be surprised by these six perks to house hunting in the offseason.

1. Not As Many Buyers Competing With You

Probably the most significant advantage of buying a home during the holidays is that most people don’t do it. Typically, the housing market is much brisker in the spring and summer months than it is November through January.

There are many reasons for the downturn in buyers during the winter:

  • inclement weather 
  • hectic schedules
  • travel plans
  • mid-year school changes

Whatever the reason, fewer people shop for homes during the holiday season. This slow down is great news for you if you are buying a home at Christmas. So as others busy themselves with silver bells and sleigh rides, you can take advantage of the lack of competition. You will have an excellent chance of getting into the home you want during the holidays.

2. Sellers Are Highly Motivated to Sell

Buy a home during the holidays

With fewer buyers in the market, sellers are looking to please you and woo you. Many people who put their homes up for sale during the holidays are eager for the process to happen quickly. They may want to be in a new home of their own before Christmas, making them quick to negotiate in your favor.

You are likely to get a more favorable deal on a property during the fall and winter. You would probably have to pay more if you were to buy the same home in May or June. Since these months are notoriously difficult for sellers, it may mean that they need to sell and move quickly for some reason.

While it may not be good timing for them, it could be excellent timing for you. Be sure you get preapproved for your home loan to help things move even more quickly. Your TwinCity team can help you prepare.

3. A Need for Speed

For various reasons, many people involved in real estate transactions like to finish everything before the new year begins. Sellers may need cash quickly or want to move before Christmas arrives. Buyers may want additional tax deductions for the calendar year. Real estate agents might be looking to meet a personal year-end goal.

This desire for speediness could mean a faster closing process for you. Sellers may not quibble over repairs and the sale price so that everything will move faster. 

When you work with TwinCity Lending, we can usually close within two weeks once we have your loan application and all of your documents in hand. The holiday season is a motivating time. Everyone is eager to get things done so they can move on to the festivities and family gatherings.

4. Lower prices

Isn’t everyone looking for good deals over the holidays? Black Friday, anyone? Winter months historically have the lowest property prices, so buying a home during the holidays is great for bargain hunters. And when you add motivated sellers to low home prices, you get a perfect market for eager buyers.

Save money buying a home at Christmas

In addition to lower home prices, you may find that related services are cheaper too. The holiday season is a slow time of year for painters, handymen, and movers. You may be able to find an amazing deal from someone who wants to fill their work calendar.

5. Eager Real Estate Agents

Realtors are just as eager to earn a living at Christmas as any other time of the year. Since it is a slower season for them, your agent may not have as many clients to juggle as they usually do. They will be able to give you a lot of time and attention. And they can move quickly to get you under contract on the home of your dreams.

6. Year-End Deals

Furniture, flooring, and so much more tend to go on sale at the end of the year. Stores need to clean out inventory, and they want to make you a deal. Buying a home during the holidays can mean that you can find end-of-the-year sales on everything you need for your new house.

TwinCity Is Your Lender for Buying a Home During the Holidays

Clearly, there are plenty of reasons for buying a home at Christmas. It is not always a simple decision, but the benefits of holiday home shopping are fantastic. You will have less competition and save money. It’s a great time to be a buyer.

So if your schedule allows and you don’t mind some winter weather, consider trying out the holiday real estate market. Buying a home this time of year could turn out to be one of the smartest decisions you will make. 

New home at Christmas

Your TwinCity Lending team is here to get you home for the holidays. From filling out your loan application to closing on your new house, we make sure the process is smooth and painless. Reach out today to get started.

How To Get Approved for a Home Loan as a First-Time Buyer

Home Loan

Owning a home for the first time is an exciting opportunity, but it is one you need to approach wisely. Because this is a significant financial decision, you’ll want to learn how to get approved for a home loan that’s affordable for you and your situation.

One survey shows that the median home price for first time homebuyers in the United States is $182,500. These buyers had a median down payment of 6 percent and were 32 years old, on average. With so much at stake, you want to be sure you’re buying the right home with the best loan available to you.

If you’re ready to start the home loan process, TwinCity Lending is available to help you. Contact us now for a free home loan quote.

Home Loan

Are You Financially Ready to Buy a Home?

At the heart of the process of getting approved for a home loan is understanding your overall financial health. Your lending specialist can help you with this process. But it’s best to have a clear picture of your finances already before you begin house hunting.

  • How much money can you commit to each month for a mortgage payment?
  • Are you prepared for increased costs for utilities and maintenance?
  • Have you factored in mortgage and homeowners insurance?

It’s always wise to know your credit score, too. Work to improve your score by using debt wisely and keeping the amount low. All of this helps you to show lenders you’re a good credit risk. 

What Type of Loan Programs Can Help You Qualify?

There are ways for first-time buyers to get approved for a home loan. Several mortgage programs can help support those efforts. Take a look at some options that may fit your goals.

FHA Loans

One of the most commonly used home loans for first-time homebuyers is the FHA loan. Approved lenders, such as TwinCity Lending, can help you qualify for a home loan through this federally-backed program. There are a number of benefits:

  • Lower down payment requirements – You’ll typically need just 3.5 percent of the purchase price in a down payment to secure a loan.
  • Lower closing costs – These fees are less than in conventional loans, reducing how much cash you need to close.
  • Lower credit score requirements – FHA loans can result in approval for some people even with a score of just 580.

VA Loans

Home Loan

VA loans are much like FHA loans in the benefits they offer. The difference is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs backs these loans for current or former members of the U.S. Armed Forces. TwinCity Lending can also help you secure these loans. VA loans typically offer:

  • No down payment requirement for most borrowers
  • Low credit score requirements
  • Lower closing costs

If you believe you would qualify for these loans, be sure to speak to your lending specialist about the options. Many borrowers will find this is an excellent way to secure a mortgage as a first-time buyer.

Tips to Help You Secure a Home Loan as a First-Time Buyer

When you meet with a mortgage broker, he or she can provide you with step-by-step information about how to get approved for a home loan. Use these tips to make the process smoother by being prepared:

#1: Seek Pre-Approval Before Looking for a Home

Bring your proof of identity, income, and expenses with you to your loan consultation. This is an opportunity to gain pre-approval, telling you how much you are likely to qualify for a home loan. If you have any concerns about qualifying, be sure to speak to your mortgage specialist about this.

This step is essential in helping you determine a budget for your house hunt. Your broker will be able to give you a good picture of the full financial commitment. Having pre-approval also gives you much better odds of a seller accepting your offer. When a seller sees that a potential buyer already has lending pre-approval, they are much more likely to agree to your offer. This piece is especially critical in hot markets.

#2: Work with a Real Estate Agent to Find the Ideal Home

While your loan is in initial processing, it’s time to find a real estate agent to be on your team. With any home loan, the property will need to pass a full inspection. Your real estate agent will be able to help you find a house that is perfect for you.

If you hope to buy a home that’s a fixer-upper, be sure to talk to your loan specialist about this opportunity. There are options available, such as a 203(k) home loan, that may help with this approval process.

#3: Answer the Underwriter’s Questions

Home Loan

During this time, you will also need to provide proof of income or verify information about the debt you already carry. You may need to provide tax returns and references to your lender, too. The sooner you respond and submit the requested information, the better. If you drag your feet in providing information or signing documents, the home loan process will take a long time.

#4: Bid on Your Home and Close Your Loan

Once you find your desired home and enter into contract, you can then move forward with the loan closing process. Closing on your home means you sign the contract for your mortgage and finalize the purchase. Be prepared that you may need to provide additional information or verify data right up until closing time.

The good news is that your lending specialist will work with you to make the entire process of getting a loan as easy as possible. Your mortgage broker is an expert in all the details. 

TwinCity Lending Is Your Premier Minneapolis Mortgage Broker

Work with our team at TwinCity Lending to learn how to get approved for your home loan. We typically can close on your home loan within two weeks of an accepted offer, as long as all documentation arrives promptly. Reach out today to get started on your first home purchase.