Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Planning a trip this summer?

There is no better time to refinance. Contact us and we will show you how!

© 2021 Affiliated Mortgage, LLC. NMLS #14211: AZ NMLS#0947858. All Rights Reserved. Affiliated Mortgage, LLC is a Division of Lend Smart Mortgage NMLS #4474

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

4 Useful Ways to Build Home Equity

Building equity in your home is important. Home equity can be used to finance your kid’s college education, remodel your home or buy another property. A smart homeowner can take advantage of both mortgage payments and their real estate investment to build financial muscle and eventually gain wealth.

What is Home Equity? 

Home equity is the difference between what your house is worth and the balance of your mortgage. It’s the money you have leftover after accounting for your outstanding loans.

For example: If your home value is $350,000, and you owe $200,000 on your mortgage. The equity in your home will be $150,000 (Home value ($350,000) – Mortgage balance ($200,000))

How to Build Equity?

As a homeowner, there’s nothing more valuable than having home equity. This is financial ground that’s under your feet (pun intended) and should not be taken lightly. 

Here are two basic ways to build equity in your home

  1. Increase the property value
  2. Decrease the amount of debt owed to the lender

Find out how can you increase your property value and decrease the amount of debt by following these 4 useful tips and ensure you’re building equity in your home faster and smarter.

  • Focus on Paying Off Your Mortgage

Your home equity is equal to your down payment and the amount of money you’ve put toward paying off your mortgage. This means you can build your home equity simply by making your monthly mortgage payments. Just think, every month that you make all of your principal and interest payments on time, you’re building equity in your home.

To have a successful home equity building plan, it’s important to understand what parts of the mortgage repayment play into equity building. Here are the two different ways you can build equity quickly:

Paying more: If you have a 30-year mortgage and make extra payments toward your mortgage, the value of your home will grow faster than the cumulative interest on your loan. In effect, any part of a payment made to the principal is an investment in the equity you will build.

Paying faster: Your home is your biggest investment. One of the best ways to build equity in a home is by accelerating mortgage payments. This approach is actually good for the lender too as it reduces the amount of interest they have to pay on their investment over time, for a total win-win that benefits both of you.

  • Make a big down payment

The down payment is the initial amount of cash you’ll typically need to put toward a home. While some lenders will allow for just 3% as a down payment, having a down payment that is equal to 20% or more of the final purchase price will enable you to avoid PMI and provide you with more equity instantaneously. This way, if your home’s value decreases during the time it takes you to pay off the mortgage, your equity will still cover part of its worth and you’ll be able to sell your home or refinance into an assumable loan.

  • Refinancing to a short-term loan

If you have a 15-year mortgage, you get a lower interest rate and a larger portion of your payments go towards principal rather than interest. This will increase the amount of home equity you build every month compared to a 30-year mortgage. It’s important to note that payments are higher with a shorter-term loan. Still unsure of which loan is best for you? Schedule a free consultation with one of our mortgage experts today!

  • Increase the property value

Homeowners who are looking to improve their equity or pay off their mortgage faster, invest in home improvement projects that increase the value of their home. The key to finding what upgrades will give you the most return on your investment is understanding the benefits and the costs of each project.

It’s no secret that with each passing year, home prices continue to rise across the country. However, investing in home remodeling projects is also a great way to boost your equity and increase the value of your home. 

Before making investment decisions, you should always do your research. There are various ways to increase home value, and every project will have you looking at comparable market data to see what homes have sold for in the surrounding area.

Contact us at (605) 718-9820 or schedule a call and let our mortgage experts help you with your home loan.


© 2021 Affiliated Mortgage, LLC. NMLS #14211: AZ NMLS#0947858. All Rights Reserved. Affiliated Mortgage, LLC is a Division of Lend Smart Mortgage NMLS #4474

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Thursday, April 8, 2021

Title and settlement services: A step-by-step overview

Your closing costs may be presented upfront as one lump sum. But it’s important to understand that the cost of your closing is divided into two parts: “title services” and “settlement services.” 

Getting a mortgage for your home has many steps. There are many different professionals involved. One of those professionals is called the title company, and their job is to make sure that no one else has any claim on your new home. If someone has a legal right to your house, you will lose it. So it’s important that there are no claims on the house when YOU buy it.

If you have already received your mortgage loan estimate, you may also notice a cost for “title fees.” These fees cover the costs for the title insurance and settlement fees that relate to the title due diligence work, issuing title insurance, and preparing settlement documents. 

What is title?

Title is the legal record of the ownership of real estate property. In order to acquire a clear title for a real estate purchase, a title search must be done on properties before they are purchased, especially when multiple parties are involved in the transaction. The process is overseen by a company called a title company. A title company will also issue an owner’s title insurance policy to protect against any problems with land ownership that could prevent an individual from owning land.

Title is an essential part of the real estate transaction–in fact, it is one of three key components to successfully completing a “real estate deal” (the other two being the contract and the escrow). Without a valid title, there can be no real estate closing or transfer of property.

What does the title company do?

A title company is an independent, third-party organization that reviews real estate transactions for legal compliance, assists with the escrow process, and manages the escrow account. It’s their job to research any title claims, make sure all documents are in order, and approve or decline a title insurance policy.

If all goes as planned, the title company does not get involved until you’re ready to close and pay them for their services. They then submit a final title report to their title insurers, who provide insurance coverage for each transaction.

Title companies provide unbiased and experienced third-party monitoring services that reduce risk and reduce costs. Your title company is a vital player in your real estate transaction. While many don’t understand their role, title companies are an honest and fair go-between to keep things on track and ensure every piece of your property will transfer smoothly from seller to buyer.

If you are a potential home buyer, you need to know what goes on at closing when you are purchasing a home. Do you know what to expect? How long does it take? Here’s an overview of the process based on what title companies do during your mortgage transaction.

  • Starting the Process

A purchase agreement is a signed contract between the buyer and seller. It gives all parties who will be involved with the sale, including buyers and sellers, information about the sale. When both parties are ready to take action, a purchase agreement may be signed by each party indicating the commitment is understood by both parties.

The escrow agent initiates the closing procedure by opening a title order. The file begins to be processed. Tax information, loan payoffs, survey (if necessary), homeowner/maintenance fees, inspection repair estimates (if necessary), flood certificate (if necessary), assessment payment(s) are gathered and verified.

  • Title Search and Examination

The title search is conducted by lawyers and licensed or certified appraisers. The title search is used to gather information about the property used as collateral/loan and determine if there are any liens, easements, or encumbrances on the property. For property transfer, a title search is conducted to ensure that the seller still owns the property and that he has no commitments regarding other properties.

The title search is conducted using public records. The records searched include mortgages, deeds, paving assessments, wills, liens, divorce settlements, and other documents that affect the ownership of the title of the property. 

Title examination is the examination of the documents that are found during the title search and affect the title of the property. It begins with locating the current owner of the property being searched. Once the owner is identified, ownership is examined to determine if there are any known liens or other encumbrances (i.e. mortgages, judgments, or mechanics lien claims). The title analyst will then either certify that the title is free and clear and no further investigation by a licensed investigator is required (no defects in the title) or note known defects (encumbrances) in a preliminary report. In addition to factual findings, your attorney will also engage in a discussion about any specified legal requirements pertaining to your inquiry.

  • Fix any title-related disputes 

If the title company finds any issues with your escrow, they’ll report them back to you and begin working to resolve them. They may chat with the seller to learn more about ownership disputes or ask for paperwork to prove that someone else doesn’t own the home. For example, if the problem involves an unpaid tax payment, the title company can work with the seller of the home to resolve it. Title companies work hard to get everything perfect before you’re obligated to follow through on your home purchase. 

  • Issue Title Insurance

After a title company is completely sure that a property is free of any title disputes or errors, they give a green light to move forward with the process and issue title insurance policies. 

Title insurance policies protect future homeowners and lenders from unexpected claims and legal problems relating to a property’s title.

A lender’s title insurance policy is mandatory in every purchase and refinance mortgage transaction. In fact, it’s one of the first items that’s checked when applying for a mortgage loan. You may have even heard of it as an “MIP” (mortgage insurance premium).

  • Settlement or Closing the Transaction

After you have your title insurance policies and all the requirements by the lender are met, the title company can schedule a closing date, also knows as the settlement date. Your lender and your title company will work together to prepare for your mortgage closing.

The settlement process usually takes between three and four hours. On closing day, you will need to pay several fees, as well as taxes and insurance premiums at settlement, so you will want to consider arranging for a loan (or savings) to cover these costs. Your title company will be able to help you with this as well.

Once the title company accepts the liability of the sale, they will ask you to sign documents and send them in to be countersigned and notarized. This basically just means you are signing over ownership of the property and that all information is true and accurate.  The title company will take care of getting everything signed, notarized, and sent back to them before sending it to your lender.

  • Post-Closing Mortgage Funding and Recording

If everything went well on the closing day, your title company will submit your mortgage loan for recording at your county’s records office. After that, the local officials will make note of the details for public record. 

Now, the title company will lay out funds for the new mortgage loan, homeowners insurance (if applicable), and taxes. The borrower will receive information about meeting their future mortgage obligations in a closing statement that also includes final calculations of interest costs and fees paid at closing. This statement must be signed by all parties to close on the home purchase.

Final Thoughts

While the title search and settlement may seem less thrilling than hunting for your dream home, it’s a crucial step in the home buying and mortgage process.

Contact us at (605) 718-9820 or schedule a call and let our mortgage experts help you with your home loan.


© 2021 Affiliated Mortgage, LLC. NMLS #14211: AZ NMLS#0947858. All Rights Reserved. Affiliated Mortgage, LLC is a Division of Lend Smart Mortgage NMLS #4474

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Welcome Lori and Andy Epstein to Affiliated Mortgage

Andy and Lori Epstein Joins Affiliated Mortgage as a Loan Originators

Affiliated Mortgage is excited to welcome senior loan originators, Andy and Lori Epstein to its team.

Rapid City, SD – Andy Epstein and Lori Epstein have joined the Affiliated Mortgage team as mortgage loan originators. They are licensed mortgage loan officers in Scottsdale, AZ. Lori is a passionate and renowned home loan officer who has vast experience in real estate and mortgage loans. Lori obtained her college degree from Eastern Michigan University and started her dream career right away in the mortgage industry in Chicago, IL. Andy studied business and finance at the University of Michigan and spent 25-years managing sales and company operations in Chicago. 

“I gained valuable experience during my time in Chicago where I paved my way to write home loans in all 50 states. My clients in Chicago respected me for my honesty, integrity, and creativity to get mortgage deals done. I’m excited to put my skills to work for homebuyers in Scottsdale, AZ, and will make sure that they get a mortgage deal that best fits their financial needs.” said Lori Epstein, Senior Loan Originator at Affiliated Mortgage. 

“I work for my clients and they can consider me their personal loan concierge. From my 25 years of work experience, the one thing I have learned is that the only constant metric for success is customer satisfaction. Therefore, my ultimate goal is to simplify the loan process for my clients, identify the optimal financing vehicle for their specific needs, and facilitate an expedient white-glove experience for them.” said Andy Epstein, Senior Loan Originator at Affiliated Mortgage.

“We are exhilarated to welcome Team Epstein to our Affiliated Mortgage family.  We truly believe that they will help a lot of folks in Arizona get a new home loan or refinance their existing loan.  We are excited that our organization is expanding into the Arizona marketplace.  Team Epstein has a great deal of financial services and lending experience that will make our new Scottsdale, Arizona office very successful.”, said Troy Trombetta, the Branch Manager at Affiliated Mortgage. 

As new members of the Affiliated Mortgage team, Epsteins’ ultimate goal is to offer an expansive variety of mortgage products to service anyone’s financial needs. They are ready to offer their clients efficient and seamless loan transactions in Scottsdale, AZ so that they can move into their new homes as soon as possible. 

Affiliated Mortgage is a trusted national home loan provider and a real estate search firm, headquartered in Rapid City, SD.  Affiliated also has sister offices in Montana and now Arizona. Their primary goal is to offer affordable home loans to anyone searching for a new home. Affiliated Mortgage features online mortgage applications so that homebuyers can get a pre-qualification letter for a home loan within minutes. They also present an advanced home search tool so that homebuyers can search and purchase their new homes in one place. 

Over the years, Affiliated Mortgage has helped thousands of U.S. citizens with affordable and customized home loans. Whether you are looking to purchase your first home or are looking to refinance an existing mortgage, their highly qualified loan officers will make sure that you get the best mortgage deals possible. 

Affiliated Mortgage is a division of Lend Smart Mortgage, LLC; NMLS #4474.  Lend Smart Mortgage is a national direct lender with both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which means we control the entire mortgage process from start to finish.  Not only does that make a difference in the service level we can provide to our customers, but it also makes a difference in the price we can offer our clients as there are no middle men eating away at profits.

Know more about Andy and Lori Epstein at

Lori and Andy would love to help you refinance your existing home or purchase a new home.

Check out their new website and book a free consultation.

Click Here

© 2021 Affiliated Mortgage, LLC. NMLS #14211: AZ NMLS#0947858. All Rights Reserved. Affiliated Mortgage, LLC is a Division of Lend Smart Mortgage NMLS #4474

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Friday, April 2, 2021

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to You and Your Family from Affiliated Mortgage!

© 2021 Affiliated Mortgage, LLC. NMLS #14211: AZ NMLS#0947858. All Rights Reserved. Affiliated Mortgage, LLC is a Division of Lend Smart Mortgage NMLS #4474

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Monday, March 29, 2021

How do school districts affect home buying

When searching for a new home, most people consider price, amenities, neighborhood, square footage, and rent in deciding which house to buy. They often forget to add another important aspect of home buying to their research list-school districts. Even if you don’t have school-going children, a school district can impact your standard of living and home value.

What is a School District?

A school district is a special purpose district that operates local public primary and secondary schools in various states.

A good school district will have the following qualities:

  •       Friendly and capable staff
  •       New and old teachers
  •       Student-Centered Values
  •       Collaborative environment
  •       High standardized test scores
  •       Funding
  •       After-school programs

How to search for a home in a good school district?

Some of the ways to search for a good school district are:

  1.     Research Online:

Most schools and school districts have informational websites, where you can read about the school and its facilities, as well as school reviews. Websites such as, NeighborhoodScout, and the National Center for Education Statistics have compiled ratings of elementary, middle, and high schools in many school districts by zip-code and city-wise.

While searching for a school, keep the following factors in mind:

  •       School ranking
  •       Average SAT scores
  •       College enrollment rates
  •       Number of school clubs
  •       Class and district size
  •       Languages offered
  •       Student-to-teacher ratio
  1.     Consult your local real estate agent

The local real estate agents have a good understanding of the local school districts and can give an objective opinion/recommendation.

  1.     Talk to other parents

Once you have narrowed down your choices to a couple of school districts, talk to the parent body about their experience to get a general understanding of that school experience.

  1.     Visit the school

Visiting the school will help you get a real picture of the experience. You can finish all your doubts in the meeting and clear out any confusion you have as well.

Why Should You Move to a School District?

There are multiple reasons why you should buy your next home in a school district:

  1.     A good school district is a good neighborhood

The locality will be safe to live in, with multiple places for recreational activities, ease of access to transport facilities, public parks, and close to urban centers.

  1.     Home Value Stability

Property prices can change in value based on macro-volatility, but a good school district can preserve the market value of the house in poor economic conditions as well.

  1.     Higher selling price

Houses in good school districts have a higher demand and are easier to sell. Moreover, even if you don’t move, you are still in a great position to build long-term equity for your home. According to, homes in school districts sell 8 times faster than homes in other districts and take an average of 58 days.

  1.     Good quality education available

Purchasing a house near a high-quality public school may be expensive but it is still cheaper than private schools and boarding schools.

  1.     Low home property taxes

Property taxes are relatively lower in school districts as large businesses and highly-valued properties share the burden of educating children across a large tax base.

However, homes in school districts are relatively more expensive than the national average. They are also larger in size and typical homes in high-scoring districts had 1.5 more rooms than homes in low-scoring ones.

How to get a good deal on a home in a quality school district?

Here are some ways to get a good deal on a home in a good school district:

  1. Look for areas away from the city center

Districts closer to the city center are more expensive than the ones away from the city center. A study conducted in Massachusetts showed that residents who had a commute of 25 minutes were found to be one grade level above their peers. However, in Sharon, the commute was 38 minutes and the average CGPA was 2.9. Parents who look around in sub-urban areas may find housing in good quality school districts at reasonable prices while maintaining a short commute.

  1.     Look for homes in Off-seasons

You can easily find deals in good school districts in the off-season, as that’s when the least shifting occurs. Look for homes during the school year, preferably in the months between November and February. Homebuyers typically pay the highest premiums in July, August, and September.


According to the NAR 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 25% of home buyers listed school quality and 20% listed proximity to schools as the deciding factors in their home purchase. Therefore, school districts should be on your radar regardless of whether you have kids or not. The right home should be one where you feel comfortable, with a good public school nearby.

Contact us at (605) 718-9820 or schedule a call and let our mortgage experts help you with your home loan.


© 2021 Affiliated Mortgage, LLC. NMLS #14211: AZ NMLS#0947858. All Rights Reserved. Affiliated Mortgage, LLC is a Division of Lend Smart Mortgage NMLS #4474

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