Beginning of the Year Check-Ups!



We are halfway through January and I’m guessing that you have either gone to or have scheduled your annual checkups with your doctor, dentist and maybe even your CPA.  While you are reviewing your yearend statements that are rolling in for tax time, consider taking a quick look at your mortgage rate. 

Refinancing your mortgage can make sense if you have a one percent decrease in your mortgage rate.  A percentage point can be impactful to your cash flow and the interest paid over the term of your loan.  As of mid January 2020, 30 year rates are in a range below 4% and the 15 year rate is near the bottom of the 3% range.

Benefits to a refinance are not limited to a decrease in rates.  High interest debt such as credit cards can be paid off with a cash out from a mortgage refinance.  You can also improve the resale value of your home by using funds from a cash out for a home renovation. 

Regardless of your situation, if you have a mortgage, consider taking a holistic approach to maximizing the equity of your largest asset – your home!  With a quick phone call, the First American Bank loan officers can assess your personal situation and goals in relation to the current market giving you the most efficient path forward – even if that path is to stay where you are.

Jeff Bishop

Mortgage Division Director

NMLS ID #640461

706-354-5012 (direct)

706-380-8850 (cell)


An (Almost) No-Surprises Mortgage Process

We usually prefer to avoid last minute surprises at the closing table, but there’s one surprise our mortgage customers love!  Here’s a hint…it’s not discovering their closing costs or interest rate are higher than they were expecting.  At First American Bank, our mortgage customers get exactly what they expect.  What they might not expect is a beautiful custom painting of their new home by local artist Heidi Hensley.  Heidi is a rising star in the Athens art community and someday we will all be able to say “we knew her when.”

We know you have many options when you’re selecting a mortgage lender for your home loan.  While we are sure we can win you over with our excellent customer service, competitive rates, and low closing costs, we also feel this very personal and exclusive gift from First American can’t hurt!  If you want to get to the closing table on time without any last minute surprises, except your Heidi Hensley original, contact one of our experienced mortgage lenders at First American Bank!

Equal Housing Lender logo MEMBER FDIC

frank author

What to Expect When You're Applying for a Loan

As a mortgage lender, I’ve taught classes at Athens Land & Trust for prospective home buyers. I truly enjoy working with these individuals because they’re doing something that is vital to purchasing a home: preparing. One of the main things I emphasize over and over again to my class is how much work needs to go into the home buying process. Buying a home is not a decision you make overnight, nor should it be a decision a prospective homebuyer rushes into. I always like to set clear expectations up front to prepare them. However, the most prepared homebuyers that I work with come to me 6-8 months prior to applying for a loan. The best question they ask is, "What can I do now to be completely prepared when I want to apply?" And this is my answer:

1) Have Your Credit Checked.

Understanding your credit profile and score will give you a better understanding of your finances when you sit down with your mortgage lender. Having this information will provide you with a sense of the affordability of your house payment, which is based on your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). Your DTI is one of the most important factors in determining qualification.

2) Have a down payment of 3%-5% (or more).

The majority of loan programs require a down payment of 3%-5% of the purchase price. This is crucial because your down payment has a long-term effect on your finances, as it determines your monthly mortgage payment and your initial equity in your house. Setting aside money for a down payment will give you a great chance at owning the home of your dreams.

3) Have your income documentation ready.

When you apply for a mortgage, it reveals a great amount of personal financial information that you might otherwise wish to keep private. Lenders need to examine paystubs, w2’s, 1099’s, tax returns, and even your bank statements. You may be asked for additional documentation, but having these documents ready will speed up your application.

4) Have a monthly payment goal.

There are really three major things people focus on when obtaining a mortgage: interest rate, how much they need to bring out of pocket, and the monthly payment. The monthly payment is something that every future homeowner should be concerned about since it will most likely be their largest household expense. Determine what a comfortable payment is to set you up on the right track financially.

charlie author