Ari Koufos
REALTY EXECUTIVES | 617-799-8948 | ari@arikoufos.com


Posted by Ari Koufos on 11/6/2018

There are a number of programs, government-sponsored and otherwise, that are designed to help aspiring homeowners find and get approved for a mortgage that works for them.

Among these are first-time homeowner loans insured by the Housing and Urban Development Department, mortgages and loans insured by the USDA designed to help people living in urban and rural areas, and VA loans, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.


In todayís post, Iím going to give you a basic rundown of VA loans, who is eligible for them, and how to apply for one. That way youíll feel confident knowing youíre getting the best possible deal on your home mortgage.


What is a VA Loan?

VA loans can provide soon-to-be homeowners who have served their country with low-interest rates and no private mortgage insurance (PMI).

If youíre hoping to buy a home soon and donít have at least a 20% down payment, you typically have to take out private mortgage insurance. This means paying an extra insurance bill on top of your monthly mortgage payments. The downside of PMI is that it never turns into equity that you can then use when you decide to move again or sell your home.

Loans that are guaranteed by the VA donít require PMI because the bank knows your loan is a safer investment than if it wasnít guaranteed

VA loans may also help you secure a lower interest rate, or give you some negotiating power when it comes to discussing your interest rate.

Finally, VA loans set limits on the number of closing costs you can pay in your mortgage. And, if youíve ever bought a home before, youíll know how quickly closing costs can add up.

Who is eligible?

There are some common misconceptions about who can apply for a VA loan? So, weíll cover all the bases of eligibility.

If you meet one of the following criteria, you may be eligible for a VA loan:


  • Youíve served 90 consecutive days during wartime

  • Youíve served 181 days during peacetime

  • Youíve served six or more years in the Reserves or National Guard

  • Your spouse died due to their work in the military

There are some restrictions to these eligibilities. For example, your chosen lender may still have credit score minimums.

Applying for a VA Loan

There are two main steps for applying for a VA Loan. First, youíll have to ensure your eligibility. You can do this by checking the VAís official website. Be sure to call them with any questions you may have.

Next, youíll need a certificate of eligibility. The easiest way to acquire one is through your chosen lender.  If you havenít chosen a lender, you can also apply online through the eBenefits portal, or by mailing in a paper application.

Once you have a certificate, you can apply for your mortgage and youíll be on your way to buying a home.





Posted by Ari Koufos on 10/16/2018

Paying off a mortgage early is a dream of many homeowners. By making larger payments on your home loan, you can cut years off of your loan term and save thousands of dollars in interest payments that you can use toward savings or investments. But in an economy that has seen decades of wage stagnation and increasing costs of living, it can often seem like an unattainable goal.

With some planning and initiative, however, there are ways to pay off your home loan before your term limit.

In todayís post, weíre going to talk about three of the ways you can start paying off your mortgage early to avoid high interest payments and save yourself money along the way.

1. Refinance your mortgage


If youíre considering making larger payments on your mortgage, it might make sense to look at refinancing options. Most Americans take out 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.

If you can afford to significantly increase your mortgage payments each month, you could refinance to a 15-year mortgage. This will save you on the number of interest payments youíll have to make over the years. But, it will also help you secure a lower interest rate since shorter term mortgages typically come with lower interest rates.

This option isnít for everyone. First, refinancing comes with fees youíll have to pay for upfront. Youíll have to apply for refinancing, get an appraisal of your home, and wait for the decision to be made.

But, youíll also have to ensure that you can keep up with your higher monthly payments. If your income is variable or undependable, it might not be the safest option to refinance to a shorter term mortgage.

2. Make extra payments

An option that entails less risk than refinancing is to simply increase your monthly payments. If you recently got a raise or are just reallocating funds to try and tackle your mortgage, this is an excellent option.

Depending on your mortgage lender, you may be able to simple increase your auto-pay amounts each month, streamlining the process. Otherwise, itís possible to set up bill-pay with most banks to automatically transfer funds to your lender.

3. Bi-weekly payments or one extra payment per year

Making bi-weekly instead of monthly payments is an option that many homeowners use to pay off their mortgages early. Bi-weekly payments work by paying half of your monthly payment once every two weeks.

The vast majority of homeowners make 12 monthly payments per year. But by switching to 26 bi-weekly payments, you can effectively make 13 full monthly payments in a year without seeing too much of a difference in your daily budget.

This doesnít seem like much savings in the short term, but letís take a look at how much you could save over the term of a 30-year mortgage.

On a 30-year fixed mortgage of $200,000 with a 4.03 annual interest rate, you would make a monthly payment of $958.00 and a bi-weekly payment of $479.

Over 30 years of an extra monthly payment, you could save nearly $20,000 on the total interest amount and pay off your mortgage almost 5 years early.





Posted by Ari Koufos on 9/22/2015

If you are in the market for a mortgage you will need to know how a lender determines if you are a good candidate for a loan. When you apply for a mortgage or look to refinance your current mortgage there is a mortgage loan underwriter who who has the job of reviewing your loan application and all of the accompanying documents. After you have completed all the paperwork on your end, you may be wondering what exactly is the underwriter looking for? Typically, the underwriter is looking for two things: 1.) your general creditworthiness and 2.) your debt-to-income ratio. How does an underwriter evaluate creditworthiness? Your creditworthiness will give the lender an idea of your willingness to repay your debts. The most common way to determine creditworthiness†is to use your credit score. The lender usually uses your FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation)†score. Your FICO score is based on an analysis of your various credit files by the three major credit repositories, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. How does the underwriter determine debt-to-income ratio? The second thing the underwriter wants to determine is how the new mortgage payment will impact your ability to repay. The underwriter will use a calculation called debt-to-income ratio (DTI). When calculating DTI the underwriter compares your monthly gross income (before taxes) and your monthly debts. DTI requirements vary but typically the underwriter is looking to see if the ratio of debt to incomeó after the cost of your mortgage principal, interest, real estate taxes, insurance and any private mortgage insurance ó is less than 40 percent. There are many other factors that go into whether or not you will be able to obtain a mortgage but these are two of the biggest factors.