Boca Mortgage Blog

While everyone else in The States is beginning home prep work to hibernate indoors, South Florida residents are getting ready to spend more time in the open air. Because come fall and winter, Florida's humidity drops and air cools to reveal nothing but perfect weather. Upgrade your home's outdoor space this fall and get ready to lounge in Florida's beautiful open air.

Home Upgrade Tips From The Boca Raton Mortgage Brokers

Outdoor Kitchen

Take Sunday barbecues a step further. Not only does adding an outdoor kitchen add value to your home, but also creates a shaded outdoor space for you to dine, lounge and entertain guests. For a little inspiration to get you started on your own design, check out these 30 Fascinating Outdoor Kitchens from Just Imagine.

Create a Water Garden

Florida is covered in water. Why not add one more pond, but this time in your own backyard. Water Gardens are surprisingly easy to create with the right tools and a completely free weekend. Purchase a Pond Kit complete with everything you need to make the water feature of your dreams. Maybe one of these Water Ponds from Architecture and Design will peak your interest.

Illuminate With Outdoor Lighting

A little outdoor lighting goes a long way to illuminate your world. Use lighting to highlight your favorite parts of your outdoor living space. Whether it's illuminating a tall palm tree or creating a resort-like feel, outdoor lighting can completely transform your backyard's atmosphere to create stunning effects.

Size Doesn't Matter

Have a small patio or backyard? Make the most of it. A small outdoor space means you can afford to splurge more on details to make your patio larger than life. Play with unique textiles, tiles, angles and furnishings to give your pint-sized outdoor space a big personality. Click over to the Huffington Post for 16 ways to get more from your small backyard.

Posted by Leonard Silvestri on September 28th, 2015 12:38 PM

Finding a way to finance your mortgage is bunked with confusing forms and strict policies. Both bankers and mortgage brokers have taken hard hits since the 2008 financial crisis which has left consumers wondering whom to approach. Bankers or Mortgage Brokers? Both comes with pro and cons and determining their weight in funding power is a delicate balance of rate versus approval.

Mortgage Brokers

Mortgage Brokers are an intermediary entity who brings together and arranges transactions between a mortgage borrower and a mortgage lender. However, they do not use their own funds to emanate the mortgage. They are licensed professionals with access to hundreds of loan options for home buyers - sometimes exclusively. They support home buyers and mortgage borrowers by leveraging relationships to secure the best loan option available. Brokers have been known to help buyers save thousands of dollars on attaining their mortgage.

People consult Mortgage Brokers for their expertise. While loaners provide other lending options such as auto, boat and personal loans, Mortgage Brokers focus solely on mortgages. Brokers are the wheelers and dealers of mortgages with the ability to negotiate and find only the most competitive offerings.

The cost of hiring a Mortgage Broker is a downfall for many first-time buyers. And it's true - mortgage brokers do require a fee for their services. Closing costs are pricey as is and adding a fee for the Mortgage Broker will only pay more stress in the matter. However, most borrowers say a one-time fee is worth it to cut on mortgage payments down the road.

Mortgage Bankers

When looking for a mortgage, many people turn to their banks. It's a simple decision really. Most people trust their banks and already have an established relationship. They know exactly what to expect in terms of service and deals. This is a big pro for bankers as their ease of service and lack of a third party dealer make them very appealing.

However, a big con of Mortgage Bankers is that your bank already knows a whole lot of information about you. They know your credit score, if you're reliable with payments, how much money is in your account, income, spending, habits, etc. While this makes qualifying easier, it means there's not much wiggle room for negotiation.

Which ever you decide, Mortgage Broker or Mortgage Banker, it's worth doing the extra bit of research to discover which option makes more sense for your situation. If you do decide upon a Mortgage Broker and are looking for a Florida Mortgage, call the Boca Raton Mortgage Brokers at Alternative Mortgage Group for the best rates at 561-395-4264.

Posted in:General
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on September 18th, 2015 2:20 PM

You love your pets. But sometimes Fido and Mr. Meowsworth aren't perfect when it comes to relieving themselves where they're supposed to. This can be a real problem when it comes time to sell. No one wants to buy a house that smells like a kennel. Cleaning pet odors from carpet, wood floors and floorboards can be tricky, but with the right cleaning agents you'll have a fresh home in no time.

Cleaning Pet Odors From Carpets

If you catch your pet in the act, grab some paper towels and try to absorb as much liquid as possible. Now spray the urine stain with carpet cleaner. Mix 2 parts water with 1 part vinegar and saturate the stain. This will help neutralize the odor and kill any bacteria. Let the mixture soak for 5 minutes before blotting up the excess solution. Now sprinkle baking soda on the spot for more absorbing and neutralizing power. Vacuum and voila! If smell still persists, try using an enzymatic cleaner. These cleaners release cultures that eat the urine, leaving things smell-free and sanitary. Never use a steam cleaner on urine stains as the steam will bond odors to carpet fibers.

Cleaning Pet Odors From Harwood Floors

Pet urine can be very damaging to hardwood floors and cause big, ugly stains that are difficult to remove. Clean it up immediately to best avoid any long-lasting damage. Blot up any remaining liquid, trying not to spread the stain's surface area. Now mix baking soda and white vinegar into a paste-like consistency and apply to the stain. Let the paste dry completely and wipe up. Next, soak a paper towel in 3% hydrogen peroxide and let it sit over the stain for several hours. This will help lift the smell and lighten the stain. Be careful with hardwood floors and monitor treatments to ensure no damage is done.

These easy, homemade remedies should work to clean up foul odors caused by pet urine. In cases where a stain was allowed to sit and absorb, a professional cleaner may be necessary.

Posted in:General
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on September 9th, 2015 10:55 AM

For many hopeful homeowners out there, buying is simply out of the question for the time being. Student loans, career changes and life's many uncertainties have a way of keeping you stuck in the rent zone. While owning a home does miracles in boosting your credit score, there's always more than one means to an end. Be a proud - and smart - renter and take advantage of your situation. Make your rent payment work for you to build credit and bring you one giant step closer to those home ownership dreams.

Build Credit History

Build your credit history and watch as your financial life benefits tremendously. Even bad credit tends to win over no credit in most situations. Institutions want to see evidence of your financial responsibility, especially in home mortgage situations. The more you build your score, even if starting from a bad place, the more financial credibility you have to your name. Paying rent allows you to build your credit score if your landlord reports data to credit bureaus - which they should be doing anyway. Not all landlords report, so be sure to ask in your apartment search.

Pay On Time

Making any financial payment on time goes a long way in improving your credit score. Think about it. Essentially, you're playing with someone else's money in all terms of credit and not paying that money backlashes with consequences. Don't pay your electricity bill, the lights go out. Don't pay your minimum payment on time, get slapped with a fee. It's important to make as many payments as you can on time and in full - including rent.

Pay Rent With Credit

More than likely, your landlord is going to want payment in the form of a check, making it difficult to use a credit card. However, it's still possible. Many landlords use digital transactions like direct deposit or electronic payments to accept rent. If this is the case, take full advantage of using rent to build credit. If you're new to using credit, putting rent on credit is a good way to get in the habit of paying cards off monthly. An additional bonus is that it helps diversify your credit use. Pay rent off every month in full and these habits act as a testament to your good credit habits.

One word of warning here. Don't let rent eat up your available credit. Credit score is dependent upon the ratio of how much credit you have available to how much you actually eat up. The lower your ratio, the higher your score.

Use these renter good money habits now, boost your score and reap the benefits in home ownership later.

Posted by Leonard Silvestri on August 26th, 2015 1:06 PM

It's pretty evident that self-employment has skyrocketed in the past few years. Some even claim it may be on the road to becoming the new normal. Many opt for this less conventional lifestyle for its freedom in time and dress code. No pant workdays? Sign us up. The downfall, however? Qualifying for a mortgage.

While qualifying for a loan under self-employment is difficult, it's not impossible. All it takes is a little ingenuity and advance planning on your part to convince the banks you're one-man business is financially sound.

Take Advantage of Tax Write-Offs

You're probably doing so already, but if not, take advantage of what constitutes as a tax deduction for the self-employed. Business dinners, retirement plan funds, business expenses, and interest on business loans are all tax deductible to help your small business out come tax time. However, mortgage underwriters typically look at tax returns as a proof of income. While not all mortgage lenders understand this, a growing percentage do. Some mortgage lenders will allow certain deductions to be added back in the income. Keeping records of these write off's as well as receipts can help plead your case when consulting with your mortgage broker.

Plan Ahead and Take The Long Route

Due to the unconventional nature of self-employment, less than conventional tactics will need to be taken. The self-employed will need to plan ahead longer than most mortgage borrowers before buying a home. One way to do this is by writing off less expenses leading up to the home buying purchase. Separate business expenses from personal ones with a business credit card and use it for more expensive business purchases, such as a new computer.

Prove Your Business' Growth

Nothing makes a mortgage lender happier than knowing that the loan they lend out will be coming back to them. And few things prove this more than seeing a client's assets increase in value. Lenders will ignore the usual seasonal peaks and troughs in income, but will perk up when they see a continual trend in growth year after year.

Enlist The Help Of A Co-Signer

Sometimes, creativity and technique just won't push a mortgage lender. If this is the case, then enlisting the help of a co-signer to back you up on your behalf. Another idea is to lower your loan expectations and seek a smaller loan you do qualify for and think about investing in a townhome or condo instead. Again, sometimes you have to go the long route.

Alternative Income Verification Loan

Think of the alternative income verification loan as the sister to the stated income loan. Not everyone offers these just yet, so do your research in finding a mortgage broker who offers such a loan. At Alternative Mortgage Group, we offer stated income loans and are more than happy to assist you. This sort of loan is verified by using 12 months of business bank statements and personal bank statements.

Posted by Leonard Silvestri on August 18th, 2015 12:22 PM

Purchasing South Florida real estate can be an overwhelming process especially without guidance from a professional Boca Raton mortgage broker. If you're a first time home buyer, it can be even more intimidating. The professionals at Alternate Mortgage Group can help guide you through the process. Here are some key things to consider:

What mortgage terms are right for you?

Mortagage rates generally come in two forms:

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A fixed rate mortgage is pretty self-explanatory - the interest rate is fixed. That means for that the interest rate will remain fixed for the entire duration of the loan term. Other factors may fluctuate, such as insurance and taxes, but the interest rate will always remain the same. Fixed rate mortgages typically have a slightly higher interest rate, but the borrower has the security of fixed principle and fixed interest payments.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage

An adjustable rate mortgage payments and interest rates fluctuate over the life of the loan. Typically, these loans begin with a fixed period anywhere from one to ten years. Then the rate adjusts based on a number of factors, such as the prime lending rate. Many home buyers like the take advantage of low introductory rates allowing them to budget for a larger home.

How much should you put down for a down payment?

Choosing how much to put for down for a down payment is a big factor in determining the cost of your new loan. The more equity you owe versus the home's value can help you get a better interest rate. Typically, a down payment of 20% of the home's value will help put you in a good position with lenders. An equity position of less than 20% usually requires that you pay mortgage insurance which will add to the overall cost your mortgage payback. It's best to pay as much of a down payment as you can while still leaving enough for savings and emergencies will afford you the best interest rate and terms.

Buy down the interest rate or pay points up front?

Points are upfront fees to lower the interest rate by a fixed percentage, usually in increments of 1%. Points are a good idea of you plan on owning your home for a long time.

Hidden mortgage rate factors to watch out for

Special conditions may exist that will affect the overall cost of your home and your monthly mortgage. The bank's main goal is to protect its investment and they will look for factors such as flood zoning, the type of property (single-family home, condo, etc) and such. There's a loan for every type of property but interest rates are typically lower for single-family homes while high-risk propertis will come with a higher interest rate.

Posted in:General and tagged: boca raton mortgage
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on August 10th, 2015 2:30 PM

Blindsiding, term misconceptions, charges, fees and a lack of complete disclosure were just some of the nightmares facing homebuyers at the height of the foreclosure crisis. Those dark days are over however as the Consumer Financial Protection Breau has been working on creating transparency in loan process since 2011 and a payoff is about to go in effect. This year, what is being known as the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule will change the way loan seekers will interact with the disclosure rules for their mortgage.

Starting October 3rd, two new "Know Before You Owe" forms will replace four current forms and introduce buyers to the mortgage process in a simpler way. These two new forms will walk consumers through the process every step of the way to better understand the loans and fees they're paying.

The new forms have received much praise from all entities involved in the home buying process. "The forms are fantastic. They are just awesome," says Casey Fleming, mortgage professional and author of "The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage." And since the forms are standard, they make it much easy compare rates and fees from multiple lenders while mortgage hunting.

The Loan Estimate Form will be revised to pinpoint a number of confusing factors including:

  • Interest rates
  • Fees for both lender and third-party services
  • Estimated closing costs
  • Right to shop services
  • Payment penalties
  • Future expected changes in interest rates

The Closing Disclosure will also be revised to iron out details in:

  • Final figures for closing costs
  • Prepaid taxes and insurance
  • Payments
  • Fees and mortgage terms
  • Payment costs by buyer and seller
  • Real estate transaction cuts

New rules are scheduled to go in effect August 1st but lenders have 60 days to meet compliance. While praise for the new rules has been overwhelmingly positive, real estate agents fear it will delay the closing process and many agents are adding 15 days to contracts to make up for delays.

Posted in:General and tagged: home mortgage
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on July 28th, 2015 2:28 PM

They weren't kidding when they said a home is a long-term investment. You put down your down payment and paid up monthly on a mortgage and now it's time to sell. And just like any financial payback, it's always nice to walk away with a good return on investment. You don't need to invest thousands of thousands of dollars more to increase its value. A few simple tweaks can double your dollars with minimum effort.


Storage is valuable, especially in older homes. If you have space to spare, expand a closet or add a large wall unit wardrobe. In living rooms and kitchens a little shelving can go a long way to add value to your home and increase functionality.

Two Person Vanity

Master bathrooms are much more partner friendly when there's a his and hers sink keeping couples from fighting for bathroom time in the morning. Adding another sink is a little more of an investment, but one well worth adding.


Get rid of your shower's old water damaged showerhead. Bring a touch of luxury to your bathroom with a rain showerhead. This simple upgrade instantly brings an effortless touch of sophistication to your bathroom.


Adding a porch to your home is a big project with a big payoff. A porch adds another living space to your home and can really up your home's curb appeal. The best part is that this is one project that can be budgeted according to your desires.

Kitchen Island

A kitchen island instantly adds cooking space to your place. It can be used as a food prep area during meal times and a decorative countertop when not. There are many options to choose from over at IKEA or customize one of your own.


Upgrade your kitchen walls with a brand new backsplash. A backsplash only looks expensive and can completely transform the feel of your kitchen.


First impressions are everything and nothing spells neglect more than dying flowers in the front yard. Give your green thumb some practice and replace wilting plants with their fresh and colorful counterparts.

Paint Exterior

Every home needs a facelift during the buying period and years of exposure has faded your exterior paint color. A fresh paint job and a fresh lawn pair together to make the first impression your home needs.

Neutral Paint

Your red accent wall may be one of your favorite features in the house, but might not be to taste with prospective buyers. When selling your home it's best to repaint interior walls a neutral color so potential home buyers will have an easier time picturing themselves there.


Crown molding along windows, doors and ceiling frames add instant luxury for a good cost. The weekend project is surprisingly easy to do and brings in the feel of instant class.

Kitchen faucet

Just like in the bathroom, upgrading your kitchen faucet and appliances is another small project with big impact. Using metal appliances appeals to most and will completely transform the way you prepare food and wash dishes.


A home security system increases property value tenfold and well worth the investment. After all, you can't put a price on the feeling of safety.

Posted in:General and tagged: home hack
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on July 16th, 2015 1:15 PM

Buying a home is an exciting process. Whether you're a first-time buyer or seasoned vet, buying a home can flow smoothly with the right guidance. We've developed a simple 9 step process that will have you in your new home in no time.

1. Make the Decision

With the many rewards of home ownership, more and more families are opting to buy. From building upon a sound investment to simply being able to paint your walls any color, the benefits of ownership are worth their weight in gold.

2. Choose Professional Guidance

Despite your level of experience, hiring a real estate professional to guide you through the home owning process will expedite it insurmountably. A real estate professional will find the right home to meet both today's needs and those planned for the future.

3. Prepare for the Hunt

When prepping for the house hunt, it's crucial to obtain a notice of loan approval, known as a NOLA. A NOLA is much more substantial than a pre-approval letter as it approved by an underwriter and allows for more leverage in negotiation.

4. Know the Market

Real estate professionals have neighborhood expertise. They know the local schools and economy to guide you toward the right locations that suit your goals.

5. Find Your Dream House

It's time to find your dream house. Once your ideal locales have been identified, your realtor will guide you through a series of homes. Your wish list will be identified and tailored as your tour homes until you find "the one."

6. The Negotiation

The negotiation process is typically the most intimidating part for buyers, but with the right expertise it can be managed hassle-free. Your realtor will manage and track the necessary items such as contracts, addendums and inspections to protect your interest and get you your dream home.

7. Complete the Loan Process

Completing the loan process should be painless and will flow smoothly with proper guidance.

8. Close the Deal

During the closing process, your real estate professional will make sure all documents are in order for closing.

9. Move In!

Call the movers cause you're moving into your new dream home!

Posted in:General and tagged: home mortgagehome buying
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on July 9th, 2015 2:56 PM

According to the latest housing data by Florida Realtors®, tightening inventory continues to impact the state's housing market. Median prices are rising and homes see fewer days on market for single-family homes, townhouses and condos alike.

May's monthly sales totaled 24,789, up 7.7% from May of 2014. And according to realtors, "there's not enough for-sale inventory to meet the demand from buyers," says Florida Realtors President Andrew Barbar. Properties are selling higher and quicker than they have in years. Homes in May spent a median of 49 days on market, 9.3% less than their numbers last year.

"Sellers currently have a great opportunity in Florida's housing market: Sellers of single-family homes are seeing 94 percent of their asking price at the closing table and townhouse-condo sellers are receiving nearly 93 percent of their asking price," says Barber.

Florida's rising housing market doesn't appear to be a trend that's going away anytime soon. Statewide median sales prices continue to rise for the 42nd month in a row and currently sits in at $200,000 for single-family existing homes and $159,000 for condos and town-homes.

To see Florida's full statewide housing reports, go to Florida Realtors Media Center.

Posted in:General and tagged: florida real estate
Posted by Leonard Silvestri on June 25th, 2015 12:20 PM


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