Are You a First-TIme Home Buyer? You Will NEED This Credit Checklist!

If you’re a first-time home buyer, getting a new mortgage can be extremely exciting but also a little overwhelming with all of the important details, guidelines, and potential speed bumps. Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to begin or how you should (or shouldn’t) spend your money when you’re about to purchase your very first home.

Well, there’s no need to worry – you don’t have to scrimp and save every single cent to purchase your home, but at the same time, don’t go on a huge spending spree. Since there are so many rules and steps to follow, here is a simple list of what you should do and what you SHOULDN’T do during the mortgage approval process:


*Continue working at your current job
*Stay current on all your accounts
*Keep making your house or rent payments
*Keep your insurance payments current
*Continue to maintain your credit as usual
*Call me if you have any questions


*Make any major purchases – By big purchases, I mean cars, jet skis, your very own home bowling alley – you get the picture, right?
*Apply for new credit
*Open new credit cards
*Transfer any balances from one credit or bank account to another
*Pay off any charge-off accounts or collections
*Take out furniture loans
*Close any credit cards
*Max out your credit cards
*Consolidate credit debt

So what can we pull from this list of things you should and shouldn’t do? Basically, while you are in the process of getting a new mortgage, keep your financial status as stable as you possibly can until the loan is funded and recorded. Remember – any number of minor changes could easily raise a red flag or cause a negative impact on a credit score that may result in a denied loan, so keep it as stable as possible!

Most importantly, check with your loan officer on even the simplest questions to make sure your loan approval is successful. So if you have any questions right now or later on, including late at night, be sure to call me at (618) 709-3821 – those who really know me know that I keep my phone within arm’s reach at all times! You can also check out my website at to see what I can do for you!

The 6 Tips That Will Protect Your Identity From Thieves!


More than half of a million people are victims of identity theft every single year. These thieves scrounge, dumpster dive, skim, phish, steal, and use all sorts of trickery to take people’s identities away from them, and the victims can face several years of frustration and lost money as they attempt to pick up the pieces.

When it comes to fighting off thieves who hunger after your identity, prevention is the best way to keep your identity safe. Follow the tips below to keep your good name safe and clean.

Shred Your Information – In order to keep your identity safe, be sure to shred everything that has pertinent information that thieves could want, including credit card receipts and everyday bills (after they’ve all been paid, of course), old bank statements, medical statements, pre-approved credit card offers, and anything else that has your personal financial information.

Remain Vigilant – Be sure to monitor your bank accounts and credit accounts regularly and carefully. If you happen to notice any missing bills that you were expecting or any unauthorized purchases, this might be a red flag that your identity has been compromised. If you have any unused credit cards, be sure to close them out instead of simply cutting them up.

Limit Your Number of Cards – They say that there’s safety in numbers, but that isn’t so in this case. When it comes to credit cards, the fewer you have the better because it will be easier for you to keep track of everything.

Keep Your Mailbox Empty – Even though you can raise the flag on your mailbox to notify your mail carrier that you have mail to send, you should NEVER leave paid bills inside of your mailbox. That can give thieves easy access to your financial information. Instead, take your paid bills to the post office for safe handling.

Protect Your SSN – Your Social Security Number is unique and should only be given out if it’s absolutely necessary to do so. If merchants demand your SSN on the back of your check, ask for an alternate number and take your business elsewhere if they still demand it. Avoid using the numbers of your SSN in any account number whenever possible, and never carry it and your driver’s license together in the same wallet. Instead, keep it in a safe place that only you know about it.

Never Give Your Information Over the Phone – You should never give your financial information over the phone to anyone who calls you via telephone solicitation. This caller could be trying to pull a scam to get your information. Never give out your Social Security Number, bank account number, or credit card number over the phone.

If you remain vigilant and safeguard your financial information, you should be able to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. For more tips or if you have additional questions about financial matters, call me at (618) 709-3821 or check out my website at!

The Three Top Qualities to Look For in a Mortgage Lender

The Three Top Qualities to Look For in a Mortgage LenderBuying a home is probably the largest, most stressful expenditure you will ever have to make in your lifetime. It will not only be your home and sanctuary, but it will also accrue value as the years pass. Because this is such a huge matter in life, you should be very choosy about whom you select to work alongside you to finance your home.

Sure, there will be plenty of lenders out there who would be “more than happy” to help you with your financial needs, but you will want to make sure that you choose the one that has ALL of the qualifications and qualities that make up a great, competent lender.

So what are those qualities and qualifications that you’ll need to look for? Don’t let the shysters pull the wool over your eyes! See below what makes up a great lender!

They Offer You a Wide Range of Products – You know you’ve found a good mortgage lender when you see that they can offer you a large range of products and programs for you to choose from. Why should this matter? If the lender has a wide range of choices, you are more likely to find the loan that works perfectly for you. While you can call around for this information, it might behoove you to check this information out on all the lenders’ websites. Remember, the Internet is your friend – put it to good use!

They Have the Best Rate and Terms on a Home Loan – Low rates are very, very important when it comes to mortgaging. Finding the best, lowest rate that works for you will take a lot of your time and energy, but trust me, it’ll be worth it in the end. Most of the time, you can do these comparisons online. Simply choose an interest rate and see how the lenders you find compare. The offer with the lowest total of points and fees will be what you’re searching for. Just beware that quotes can sometimes change, so be sure to talk to the lender you choose about it.

They Have Excellent Customer Service – You’re not going to just want a loan officer who’s competent at the work he or she does; you’re also going to want one who excels in customer service (trust me – you will!). The mortgage lender of your choosing should have great personal contact and a professional, courteous disposition. You should feel like this person has a genuine interest in your business and helps soothe your fears about the entire process.

This will be a lot of hard work, but it will be worth it in the long run. When you find the perfect loan officer, you will feel much less stressed about all of your financial needs. If you’re looking for that loan officer right now, I can guarantee that I will be the last loan officer you will ever need! Give me a call today at (618) 709-3821 or visit my website at to find out more!

Shameless Self Promotion – Why You Should Be Choosing ME!

When it comes to refinancing, mortgaging, and anything else in the real estate world, having an excellent, competent mortgage loan officer is key. Without one, you could be lost in a world of facts, figures, and jargon, only to try to figure it out for yourself (which can be a very trying and dangerous task).

Even great real estate agents know that it’s important to work side-by-side with equally great mortgage loan officers. With their forces and know-how combined, the two can be the perfect team to help you with all of your mortgaging or refinancing needs.

That’s where I come into the picture.  I am confident that with my former career in the real estate industry combined with my mortgage experience I can get the job done quickly and accurately. I can guarantee you that I will be the very last loan officer that you will EVER need. Whenever you call me to help with your mortgage or financial needs, you will receive many perks having me on your side, including the following:

Quick and Accurate Pre-Approval Rates – I can give you your pre-approval rates very quickly, usually in 24 hours or less. How many mortgage loan officers do you know who can do that?

Constant Communication – Don’t you hate it when loan officers drag their feet to return their calls or simply seem to vanish into thin air when you need them the most? Well, you won’t have that when you work alongside of me! I believe that constant communication is essential in order to succeed in anything. I make weekly phone calls or write emails to put your mind at ease during the process and to give you updates.

Local Services – You don’t have to worry about having your files sent out of state or even out of town! I use local processing and underwriting. This allows the process to go more quickly and stay on track.

Follow-Up Long After Closing – Once closing happens, I won’t just leave you behind in the dust. I like to keep in contact with my clients through monthly marketing contacts to see how you’re doing after the process.

You Gain An Experienced Ally – I have been a Realtor and have over a decade’s worth of experience to help you through before, during, and after the entire process. I can help you gain insight and knowledge about the process and help you to understand what’s going on.

I’m helping real estate agents and their buyers to get the home financing that they need. So if you don’t know a good mortgage loan officer (or if your current loan officer doesn’t quite get what great service and communication is really all about), you should talk to me! Pick up the phone and give me a call at (618) 709-3821 or check out my website at

What is PMI and Do You Need It?


When we go house hunting, we tend to envision ourselves on HGTV’s House Hunters. We go into a few beautiful homes with an excited real estate agent and are dazzled by the squeaky-clean and fully-equipped kitchen, the spacious and comfy living room, and the luxurious master bedroom and bathroom. Our hearts are stolen away by a beautiful home that seems “just right” for us, and we set our aim on purchasing the home.

Unfortunately, buying a house is more involved and more difficult than one may think. With the cost of housing and an economy that’s still struggling, it can be hard for many people to pay even 20% or more on a down payment.

That’s where PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) comes into play. PMI, or private mortgage insurance, is a form of insurance that basically allows you to purchase your dream home without having to come up with the full 20% down (or more).  Essentially, PMI helps you to pay less money for the time being so you can move into your new home sooner.

“Well, what IS PMI exactly?” you may ask.

PMI is a type of insurance that has been put into place to protect the lender so that they can recover their money even if the home is no longer worth enough to pay off the balance. In reality, there’s nothing in the PMI for you, (well, except a lighter wallet, maybe), which can seem overwhelming to a homebuyer.

However, in most cases it is a necessary and the reality is it only adds a few dollars to your loan payment with today’s interest rates and is well worth it to avoid spending all your savings to come up with 20% down.

If you’re considering purchasing a home or refinancing your current one it can seem like a lot to absorb. But don’t panic!  I’m here to walk you through it.

Just contact me at (618) 709-3821 or visit me online at! I can help you with all of your refinancing needs!

Three Magic Little Numbers – What You Need to Know About Your Credit Score

750. 680. 705.

No, these aren’t area codes. These are some typical credit scores around the nation!

Have you ever wondered how those three magical digits are ever determined? It may seem like a monkey randomly selects lottery balls to determine your credit score, but there is actually a well-designed formula for figuring it out. These scores range from 300 (which is really, really horrible) to 850 (the best). Here is how it’s calculated!

Your Payment History (35%) – The largest chunk of this formula is determined by your bills or fines and if you regularly pay them on time or not. Did you know that even unpaid parking tickets, medical bills, and library fines may appear on your history? You know what that means, right? That’s right – no more hiding those parking tickets in your glove box if you want a high credit score!

The Amount You Owe (30%) – The next largest chunk of the credit score formula is attributed to how much money you owe on each credit card and how that compares with the total credit available to you or the total loan amount you took out. So if you’re constantly maxing out your credit cards, your score could suffer, especially if you don’t make timely payments. And whatever you do, don’t take the tactic of daisy-chaining credit cards to pay each other off unless you want to find yourself living on Ramen noodles for the rest of your life!

The Length of Your Credit History (15%) – How long you’ve had each account and the duration of activity on those accounts amount for fifteen percent of your credit score. In general, assuming you make timely payments, the fewer and older the accounts you have, the better off you’ll be.

Types of Credit You Use (10%) – Yes, there are different types of loans. They include credit cards, retail credit accounts, mortgages, installment loans, and consumer finance accounts. If you have some of these types of loans and make timely payments on them, your credit score should benefit as it shows that you can handle different types of loans, large and small alike. Keep in mind that credit cards will usually carry more weight in this equation since they will more than likely predict if you’re likely to go on a no-holds-barred shopping spree in the near future… over and over and over again.

New Credit (10%) – This refers to how much credit you have taken out recently. If you have recently applied for thousands of dollars in loans and continue to request more lines of credit, your lender may become quite concerned as they may think you’re in dire financial straights. Not that you can’t ever seek new credit – you just need to be selective and try to shop around for your auto loans or mortgages within six weeks or less.

So now you know what these numbers are about. The question is – what should you do about it?

The goal is to make sure that your credit number gets as high as it can and stays that way. For the best rates on credit cards or loans, you’ll want a score around 700, at least.

“How do you do THAT, Tammie?” you ask. Here’s how!

*Pay all of your bills on time!

*Keep your balance low. Shoot for less than one-third of your total credit limit.

*Have at least one credit card that you plan to use for a long time. Be careful not to have too many!

*Pay off your balance entirely every month.

*Stay on top of the information in your reports as much as you can.

Remember – the higher your score, the more money you can borrow, and the less you’ll have to pay for the loan!

Oh, and mortgage companies check three different bureaus for your credit scores – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. They are the three biggest credit-reporting agencies. Luckily, you can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit agencies once each year! You should order it through, which is the only authorized online site under the federal law.

Want more information on credit scores? Need someone to help you refinance loans? Look no further! Call me at (618) 709-3821 or visit my website at to see what I can do for you!

Welcome to My Blog! Prepare to Meet the Last Loan Officer You’ll EVER Need!

Hello, everyone out there, and welcome to my brand-new blog! I hope you enjoy all that you find here.

If you’re unfamiliar with who I am and what I do, then you’d better sit back and take some notes! To some, I’m just a simple loan officer who loves helping others obtain the home of their dreams, but to many I am more than just a loan officer – I’m a LEGEND. In fact, many people are now starting to call me the “Mortgage Maestro!”

That’s right – when you do business with me, you get so much more than acquiring residential loans or refinanced loans for your existing home. I proudly provide quick and accurate pre-approval results – in 24 hours or less – and because I am a former real estate agent with over a decade of experience, I will give you a better understanding of the business and what is needed to make a smooth transaction in what is the largest investment that most people make in their lives.

To me, communication is the key to success. That’s why I take the time to talk with you constantly throughout the whole process! I make it a point to make weekly phone calls or emails to you to let you know how the loans are going, and I also will follow up with you long after the closing happens through monthly marketing contacts.

Yep, I’m helping other real estate agents and their customers get the home financing they need while providing exemplary customer service. If you don’t know a good mortgage loan officer, or if the loan officer whom you are working with now doesn’t really understand what great service and communication is all about, stop what you’re doing now and call me!

In spare time (what’s that?), I enjoy writing, drawing, singing, teaching, and attending my boys’ various sporting activities. Music is a passion of mine, and I enjoy all sorts of music, but I’d have to say that new country, hair bands, and contemporary Christian music are my favorites. Sometimes, you can find me reading articles and short stories or just sitting back and watching girly movies like Sweet Home Alabama (though I won’t turn down an occasional Fast and The Furious!).

Oh, and if that weren’t enough, I’m all over social media now! You can check out my Facebook fan page and like me (which you really should do, you know), and you can now follow me on Twitter as well! You can also give me a call at my office at (618) 288-4700 or my cell phone at (618) 709-3821 for even faster service! For those who know me well, my phone is never further than arm’s reach!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and check out my blog! There will be many more to come in the future, so be sure to come by twice a month to see what I have to offer you!