Tag Archives: mortgage

Three Things to Look for in a Starter Home


If you’re in the market for your first home, congratulations! Becoming a homeowner is an exciting step on your financial journey. At Heartland Bank, our dedicated mortgage lenders are here to help you find the best financing option for your new home. Remember you can stop in and secure a pre-approval letter before you start your home search.

After speaking with a mortgage lender to help determine your family’s ideal price point, it’s time to start viewing potential homes. During this process you’re bound to find a home you’ll fall in love with, and others that may send you running for the hills. As you ride this rollercoaster of an experience, we recommend searching for the following three things in your family’s ideal new house:

  1. Good Bones. Starter homes are a great option to find a great house within an affordable budget. To ensure your investment lasts for the long-term, we recommend taking a hard look at any foundational cracks, leans, or other structural ailments. While the rest of the house could look fantastic, these three issues should be instant red flags signaling you to continue looking at other homes.
  2. Cohesive Neighborhood. The people you surround yourself could be the individuals you see at 6:00 AM taking the trash out, or the partiers you have to ask to turn down the music at 11:00 PM. As you tour properties, don’t be afraid to chat with any potential neighbors and see if there is any information they can give on families you’ll be living alongside.
  3. Suitable Layout. While some renovations are certainly possible when purchasing a starter home, obstacles such as load-bearing walls could limit your expectations. Consider the overall layout of the home at the showing, and see if you could picture yourself the way it is. If the answer is no, then you may want to find a few backup options should the renovations not be available within your budget.

The perfect home will look different to everyone. If you’re ready to start searching for your family’s new house, our experienced mortgage lenders are here to help. We work with many successful local realtors, and we would be happy to refer you to the one that fits your needs best. Give us a call or stop by to begin the search for your home today.

How to Shave Thousands of Dollars off Your Mortgage

Home Financing

Congratulations on purchasing your home. You are now privileged to enjoy the thrills of home repair, maintenance, and occasional renovation. Depending on your mortgage structure, you may be paying off your home for up to thirty years. Luckily Heartland Bank has some tips and tricks to help you reduce your repayment time. Using these three strategies, we’ll show you how to pay off more of your principal to decrease the term of your loan, and lessen your overall interest costs.

Method 1: Making Additional Payments

In addition to your regularly scheduled payments, making extra installments can help you knock down your principal and associated interest. These additional amounts can be paid on the same day as your scheduled portion, or they can be more frequent throughout the month as funds become available. If you find yourself having a surplus in your budget, a great option would be to use those dollars as an additional mortgage payment.

Method 2: Increasing Your Monthly Payments

As you make your mortgage payments each month, create a plan for how much you can add on top of your regular installments. Similar to method two, these subsequent funds will continue to help you pay down your principal amount, and lessen the amount of interest owed for the life of the loan.

Method 3: Making One Lump Payment

Sometimes if you’re refinancing or purchasing a home, you may be trading an old mortgage for a new one. In this case, we recommend making one large installment after closing. This not only pays off a large portion of your loan but brings your overall interest accumulation down as well.

Owning a home is an exciting and well-earned milestone, however, the additional costs of ownership can raise questions. If you’re curious about the most efficient way to pay down your mortgage, stop in and speak with one of our experienced lenders today.

4 Ways New Homeowners Can Save on Their Taxes


Becoming a homeowner is an exciting and trying time in your life. Once all the papers are signed, and the keys turned over, it all seems worth it. That is until a pipe bursts, lightning knocks out a tree, or your dog decides to burst through the screen door. Not all hope is lost however. In return for your endless work, and commitment to a never ending to-do list, the U.S. Government has provided four tax-based ways to reward you for your new home ownership. See how to take advantage of these four tax breaks, and make the most of your home purchase:

  • Early IRA Withdrawal: For many new homeowners, securing the initial down payment can be the first hurdle in their real estate journey. If you’re a first-time home buyer and have an IRA, or Roth IRA, the IRS will allow you to withdraw up to $10,000, penalty-free, to aide in the cost of your new dwelling!
  • Valuable Deductions: Between your mortgage interest, mortgage insurance, and real estate taxes, your home deductions could make a big dent in your taxable income. When preparing your taxes as a new homeowner, be sure to bring any mortgage documents, and escrow account information, to your tax professional to gain the full benefit of the deductions.
  • Renewable-Energy Tax Credit: Did you upgrade your home appliances to more efficient and environmentally-friendly options? Did you install a geothermal system in your home? If so, this helpful tax credit may be able to take a portion of that improvement cost out of your deductible income!
  • Tax-Free Profit on Sale: When you go to sell your home, the IRS allows you to avoid the capital gains tax on the profits you generate from the sale. This means that if your home’s value goes up $35,000 in the two or more years you live there, you are then able to retain the additional $35,000 your home is sold for without having to pay any taxes on those funds. One other major stipulation of this benefit is that in order to avoid the capital gains tax, you must purchase a new home as your primary residence within the next two years.

With these key homeowner tax breaks, the next thing to put on your to-do list is to make a plan for those tax refunds! If you have questions on how to best budget for your new home, don’t hesitate to stop in. We’d love to talk taxes, financing, or other improvement ideas you have for your home!

The Do’s and Don’t of Home Buying

Home Buying

Begin the journey of purchasing your new home with Heartland Bank! We’ll help guide you through the process of securing a new residence for you and your family. Stick with these easy do’s and don’ts and you’ll be on the path to success.


  • Secure a loan before a home: While the hunt for the first house is exciting, your final decision will depend on the mortgage you can secure. Your first step in the home buying search should take place with a loan officer who can assess whether you qualify for a mortgage, and if so, at what price. This provides a framework guiding the search so you don’t expend time and money on houses outside your means.
  • Take your time: The average homeowner occupies their house for nine years before relocating, so additional time spent thoroughly searching for homes can reap a decade of benefit. Track trends in the housing market to buy during the most cost-effective season. Weigh personal, important factors beyond price listing, such as neighborhood quality, length of commute, and potential for expansion and home improvement.
  • Consult the professionals: The listing agent represents the interests of the seller, not the buyer. As a first-time home buyer, you’ll need as much trusted, unbiased advice as you can garner. Ask friends and family to recommend their real estate agents so you receive counsel from a professional with a track-record of success.


  • Look at homes well over your budget: You set a budget for a reason. Stick to it! Paying more than you designated for a home can financially limit you to update and repair as needed. By spending within your originally determined limit, you’ll avoid heftier mortgages and continue to withhold extra funds for any household incidentals.
  • Empty savings into a down payment: Securing your mortgage requires a down payment. Putting down less than 20% requires you to buy mortgage insurance. To avoid this added expense, some home buyers drain their savings to cover the down payment upfront. Liquidating your account, however, leaves you without a safety net in the event of job loss or medical emergency. The expense of mortgage insurance is worth the financial cushion you can leave in your account, and you can always eliminate the insurance once you’ve paid off 20% and opt to refinance your mortgage.
  • Speed through the closing: The end is in sight, but don’t let the glow of the finish line obscure your view of the paperwork. Review documents with a fine-tooth comb, double check that nothing has been altered in your agreement, and ensure that it describes your understanding of the transaction to a “T”. A day or two of extra analyzing can save you years of headaches!

At Heartland Bank, we offer a number of mortgage options to make securing your home as feasible as possible. To schedule your first meeting with one of our knowledgeable mortgage bankers, give us a call at (515) 352-3181.

Preparing Your Finances for Purchasing a Home

If you are getting ready to purchase a home, you need this information about preparing your finances.

If you are getting ready to purchase a home, you need this information about preparing your finances.

No one wakes up one day and says, “I want to buy a home today” and does it. Purchasing a home for yourself, your family or for you and your spouse to spend retirement in requires lots of planning and preparation.  This ensures you get the financial details correct.

Spring is the beginning of the busy season for buying and selling homes. If you are going to be purchasing a home this spring or summer, now is the time to start preparing your finances to do so. Here is a breakdown of things to do before you begin the search for your new home.

  1. Expect and Prepare for Surprises. Fees and unknown costs will come up. Therefore, it is best to expect and be prepared for these surprises by creating space for them in your budget.
  2. Examine Your Credit Score. Take a free look at your credit score by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Be sure to fix any blemishes or errors on your credit report, as a higher credit score will help you get the best interest rate on your mortgage.
  3. No Big Purchases. Now is not the time to be making any large purchases. Keep your spending in check during this time, saving what you can and remaining constant on everything else. This will help provide a more consistent picture of your finances to lenders.
  4. Check the Numbers. Be prepared for number overload. They dictate everything from how large a mortgage you can afford to what you ultimately pay for your new home:
    • Down payment- the larger down payment you make, the less of the purchase price you have to finance. You can also avoid the additional payments that come with private mortgage insurance (PMI) by making a down payment of at least 20 percent.
    • Repair costs- is there anything that needs to be repaired in the home after you purchase it?
    • Fees and taxes- escrow costs, fees for multiple copies of your credit report and so on can add up. Try to get a good idea of what to expect as soon as you can.
    • Utilities- be sure to ask the current owners what they average per month in utility payments.
    • Moving Costs- renting a truck or hiring help is another cost many people forget about until it comes time to move.
    • Closing Costs- leave some wiggle room in your budget, as closing costs are often unknown until a few days or even hours before you close on your home.
  5. Materials and Documents. Purchasing a home requires a lot of documentation, enough that it may seem like you are drowning in paperwork at times:
    • W-2s for the last two years to gauge your income
    • A month of paystubs to further assess your income level
    • Investment statements to help the lender determine the diversity of your money and any other avenues to pay for your home
    • A list of all debts with balances, interest rates, monthly payments and terms if applicable
    • Multiple forms of ID, such as your drivers license, social security card and/or passport. Make copies of these as you will most likely have to provide them numerous times.
    • To be sure about all documentation, contact your loan advisor as they will have a better idea about all the paperwork you will need.

Thorough preparation is the only way to ensure the mortgage and home purchasing process goes as smooth as possible. If there’s one thing that can make life infinitely better than  a new home for you and your family, it’s doing so without any major headaches.

Get in touch with the mortgage lenders at Heartland Bank today if you are planning to purchase a home in the near future.

Heartland Bank, member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender