Interest rates still they remain low





Julia Hernandez, mortgage loan adviser for First Federal Bank of Kansas City, said, “People love to just look at the price of the home. They need to look at their budget and what they can spend.”





Samanta Torres (top right) said, “I decided to take the home buyers class. Had it not been for the class and a grant that was given to me I would have never been able to purchase my home. It’s a miracle because they showed me how to prepare and apply for my home loan. I’m Living the American dream of owning my own home.”



BY JOE ARCE AND COREY CRABLE
Part II series on buying a home


If you’re on the lookout for a home you can call your very own, don’t let the homebuying process scare you away from your dream of building equity, one local mortgage loan adviser says.

Julia Hernandez, mortgage loan adviser for First Federal Bank of Kansas City, tells prospective homebuyers that “if you’re ready, let’s make it happen.”

“It’s an intimidating process, and finding the right loan officer who can hold your hand throughout the process is important,” Hernandez says. “You have to have someone who can answer those questions for you.”

First, Hernandez says, before doing anything else, take a look at your personal finances and know what you might be able to afford, or if you still need to raise your credit score before applying for a home loan.

“People love to just look at the price of the home,” she says. “They need to look at their budget and what they can spend.”

A glimpse at current interest rates will reveal that overall, they remain low.

“Even though interest rates have risen in the past 90-120 days, they’re not high,” Hernandez says. “This is just what the economy is doing. You have your markets that would come up and go back down. Once the rates come back down, you’ll have equity in your home to refinance to a lower rate.”

The minimum credit score that First Federal will accept when accepting loan applications is 620.

“Fill out an application. The worst (we) can say is ‘Hey, I can’t help you at this moment, but I can steer you toward resources that can – how to repair your credit, for instance. Those resources will put you on the right path.”

If your finances are in good order, connecting with a mortgage loan adviser like Hernandez will be a crucial step.

“A lot of times, it’s just word of mouth. … A lot of times, you don’t even need to meet one-on-one with a loan officer,” she says. “We’ll need to look at your credit, your current debts and your income, and the application process is easy.”

Thankfully, applicants don’t need to worry about language being a barrier. Many banks have bilingual staff members who can help lay everything out in language that is easy to understand.

“To have someone explain the process in English and Spanish is very helpful,” Hernandez notes. “It gives people peace of mind.”

She says she thinks that applying for a traditional loan is best.

“I try to steer people away from Federal Housing Administration loans. FHAs are government-funded loans,” she explains. “They have a funding fee on it. You’d have that tacked onto your monthly mortgage, usually 1.75 percent. So that’s another cost you’re paying on top of your loan. That’s why I’d recommend a conventional loan.”

Hernandez says she tries to tell her clients about the I-10 Program, which she sees many Hispanic clients use.

“It’s used by Hispanic individuals primarily as long as they have two years of tax returns,” Hernandez says. “If your credit score is under 700 but above 640, we have an adjustable rate. The minimum down payment to put down is 16 percent (of the home’s listing price). This is part of the American Dream – to own your home for your family.”

Still, Hernandez stresses, a misconception about preparing to buy a home is that the buyer must put down 20 percent. She says that simply isn’t true.

“If you have funds saved for a down payment, you can get away with just putting down three percent it doesn’t have to be that 20 percent down,” Hernandez says. “You don’t have to put down as much as people think you need to. There are some loan programs that are income-based or that even do down-payment assistance. …There shouldn’t be anything holding you back when looking to purchase your home.”

Hernandez says she recommends that all newcomers to homebuying take a first-time homebuyers course, which also is offered through First Federal. At least one new homebuyer says the course helped to prepare her for finding her new home.

Samanta Torres (32) took the homebuyers course. She told Hispanic News she had been working on her credit score since 2020 and also saving to buy her first home in the metro. She started looking for help to purchase a home and then, “I found Sandra Olivas with First Federal and she explained the First Federal Homebuyer course to me and I decide to take the class. Had it not been for the class and a grant that was given to me I would have never been able to purchase my home. It’s a miracle because they showed me how to prepare and apply for my home loan, I’m Living the American dream of owning my own home.”

Hernandez says her industry is here to make the homebuying process easy to understand for those looking for their dream home.

“We have such a large Latino community,” she says, “and we want to reach everyone.”

For more information, contact Hernandez at First Federal at 816-245-4380 or e-mail Julia.hernandez@ffbkc.com.