Refinancing in St. Louis 
Dave Puzniak Home Loans St. Louis By: Dave Puzniak

Every day, on the TV, on the radio, on the internet, in the mail, on billboards, at your favorite sporting events, and concerts, it’s the same message:


Making the decision to refinance is an important decision and should not be taken lightly.  Your home loan is possibly the largest financial investment you will make and you need to analyze your options based on your unique situation to ensure the refinance is right for you.  A refinance can take many different forms and your situation dictates the route you need to take in order to improve your financial situation.

The most common refinance is utilized to lower your interest rate and your monthly house payment.  This is called a rate and term refinance. The ability to lower your rate will be dependent upon several factors: on the interest rate market improving since the last time you either purchased or refinanced your home; having your credit improve, or seeing your property value rise.  A lower interest rate may also allow you to build equity in your house quicker, by increasing the amount of your payment going to reducing the principal balance. 

A second type of refinancing is decreasing the term of your mortgage.  A shorter term mortgage amortization, such as a 20 year or a 15-year term mortgage, generally has lower interest rates.  The trade-off is a potentially higher monthly mortgage payment. However, there is the added benefit of a larger amount of the payment dedicated to paying down the principal balance of your mortgage.  The greatest benefit is the ability to pay off your loan sooner, reducing your total interest costs over the life of the loan. 

Other reasons to refinance are to change the type of loan program.  With the large variety of mortgage programs available such as FHA, VA, USDA, in addition, to grant programs, you may have a program tha helped you as a first time homebuyer,  but as you build equity may not be as beneficial 5-10 years into the mortgage loan.  In some cases, you may start with an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to take advantage of a lower introductory rate then change to a fixed-rate mortgage in an effort to stabilize your payments for the remainder of your time in the home. The situation can work in reverse as well.  If you know you are going to move within a 5-7 year period then you may look to the ARM in lieu of a fixed rate mortgage to take advantage of the lower rates on the ARM loans.

The final option is using your home as an asset.  You may want to remove some of the equity from the house to handle other financial obligations.  This is called a cash-out refinance. If you are short on cash but flush with equity in your home, then cashing out the equity in your home can provide you with some options to handle other financial situations within your family. 

The uses for the equity can include:

1- Renovations or Repairs– allows you to make improvements to your property or help in the maintenance, put on an addition, redo a kitchen or bathroom
2- Family Budgets – allows you to pay off bills which may have accumulated and lower your overall monthly outlay
3- Tuition Cost – allows you to help pay schooling costs, maybe cheaper than student loans and could potentially be tax deductible
4- Debt Consolidation – provides relief to high interest, variable rate credit card debt by turning these payments into a fixed rate manageable payment and restore your household budget
5- Weddings – can help to handle the cost of a wedding
6- Judgments, collections or liens – provides relief for these premium debts from medical issues, lawsuits, and other legal issues

No matter the decision you choose to make regarding refinancing, it is recommended you use a qualified mortgage professional to assist you with your decision.  You will want to share your financial goals with your mortgage professional in order to provide them with the information necessary to properly advise you to meet your financial goals.

Licensed mortgage professionals at First Integrity Mortgage Services use their experience, expertise, and the special programs available to discover your goals, present multiple relevant options, and recommend the program that best meets YOUR needs!

Contact David Puzniak NMLS # 559106 to schedule an appointment today at 314-486-2652 or to start the process of refinancing your home!

First Integrity Mortgage Services is a locally owned mortgage banker located at:
77 West Port Plaza, Suite 200
St. Louis, MO 63146, NMSL#276593.
Visit us today at and see the difference!!

Choosing a Mortgage Professional in St. Louis, MO 

Life Is...

Christine Elbert Home Loans in St. Louis By Christine Elbert 

Life is all about choices. Choosing the right lender can be the difference between an easy, smooth closing or…something else. How does someone know what Lender to choose? There are so many different places and so many different styles of business. Internet loans? Call Centers? Local bank?

These are some of the options, but we at First Integrity believe there is a lot more to a good mortgage company besides a hefty marketing budget.

So what would make a great Lender?

First Integrity Mortgage Services believes it comes down to one simple concept. Provide the best possible options and personal service to every single one of our clients. That part is simple, what it takes to do that is not.

It takes a local Mortgage bank, a company that controls its own funds so on closing day you are not waiting for a wire from someone over in Seattle, your banker, your money, is right here so we know closing and funding your loan will be no problem.

It takes a company that believes in rational lending (a First Integrity term founder Joe Bayer Sr. coined referring to us simply using our brains). First Integrity still takes a common sense approach to loan approval. Not everyone fits in the same little box. A good mortgage company believes boxes are for moving day.

So how do you create that company?

 It starts with the people. First Integrity has a handpicked staff who are committed to providing the very best in mortgage service. With over 400 years of combined mortgage experience, First Integrity has created a small and powerful mortgage company. You don’t have to be big to be good.

So what about the process?

Joe Bayer Sr. answered that question a few years ago by designing a loan process unique to the mortgage industry. By breaking away from the “assembly line” style of loan approval followed by the industry, First Integrity created a new and better path to home ownership. Instead of an assembly line of 5-6 different strangers working on your loan, at First Integrity you have a 3 person team committed to knowing you and knowing your loan. Your loan officer, Loan Coordinator and underwriter all work as a team to make sure your loan goes through correctly and quickly.

At First Integrity Mortgage, we believe in the 3 Pillars – it comes down to People, Pricing, and Products.

We’ve created the perfect team, we offer some of the best competitive pricing in the area and have a vast range of mortgage products, some unique only to First Integrity, that we can offer our clients the best way to own their home.

So Why First Integrity Mortgage Services?

We believe we are the best possible choice for those clients who want personal and professional service. Add to that the widest range of products, highly competitive pricing and a system designed to simplify the loan process and you have a solid, reputable mortgage bank.

You deserve a mortgage bank that works for you. First Integrity delivers.

We Care! We Think! We Deliver!

Christine Elbert is a Senior Mortgage Banker with more than a decade of experience in the industry. For questions or comments about this article, Christine can be reached at or 314-495-1865 NMLS# 238515.

Mortgage Interest Rates & Home Values in St. Louis 

By: Tim WhitmireTim Whitmire Home Loans in St. Louis

Thankfully mortgage interest rates are still very low, but up from their lows, and homes are still reasonably priced.  But you have undoubtedly heard about interest rates rising and you also have likely noticed home values increasing in your subdivision.  Interest rates have increased approximately 0.75% over the last few months and according to data the Mark and Becci Real Estate Team has gathered from the MLS, values of single family homes and condos in St. Louis County, St. Louis City, and the St. Charles area have increased a combined 7.7% over the last year.  Many expect both interest rates and home values to continue to increase.

Mortgage Interest Rates

Mortgage Interest rates are largely driven by economic data and reports such as jobs reports, inflation, unemployment rate, and consumer confidence.  Mortgage interest rates generally increase with positive economic news and decrease with negative economic news.  Other factors such as the Federal Reserve raising short term rates and the sale of mortgage backed securities play a role.  Recently economic reports haven’t been excellent but have improved compared to what they had been and the Federal Reserve is expected to raise short term rates and also slow down their purchases of mortgage backed securities.  Given the current environment we are in and recent trends, I expect mortgage interest rates to slowly climb throughout the next 12 months.

Home Values

My co-workers and I along with others in the mortgage industry have been very busy preparing pre-approvals for potential home buyers over the last few years and there has been a constant theme with the feedback pre-approved home buyers have shared.  There is a lack of inventory of desirable homes.  Homes in the hottest markets many times get multiple offers from pre-approved buyers within the first few days of being on the market.  The average days on the market is down 8.1% over the last year.  The simple laws of supply and demand have allowed home values to increase over the last few years and there is no sign of it slowing down any time soon.

Home Affordability

The combination of interest rates rising and home values increasing effects home affordability.  With interest rates climbing and home values increasing now is a great time to purchase your first home or to move up into your next home.  Consider the following scenario to illustrate what a difference a year can make when interest rates and home values are both on the rise:


                January 2016                                                                                    January 2017

$200,000 Purchase Price  ===è 7.7% Increase in home values      $215,400 Purchase Price

$190,000 Loan Amount (5% down payment)                         $194,398 Loan Amount (5% Down)

3.5% 30 Yr. Fixed Rate             ===è .75% increase in rates                       4.25% 30 Yr. Fixed Rate

$853.19 Monthly Payment + Escrows for taxes, insurance, PMI       $956.33 Payment + Escrows


The same buyer purchasing the same home now has a monthly mortgage payment that is $103.13 higher than if they would have purchased the home one year sooner.  Last year was a phenomenal time to purchase a home.  Historically speaking mortgage interest rates are still very low but rising and homes are still affordable but values are increasing.  It is still a fantastic time to buy a home and Now is the time to do it!

Licensed mortgage professionals at First Integrity Mortgage use their experience, expertise, and the special programs available to discover your goals, present multiple relevant options, and recommend the program that best meets YOUR needs!

Don’t sell yourself short. Call today to start your home buying path!

Tim Whitmire

Office phone number: 314-878-4900
Cell phone number: 314-402-8184

NMLS# 279207

First Integrity Mortgage Services is a locally owned mortgage banker located at 77 West Port Plaza, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63146, NMSL# 276593.

Visit us today at and see the difference!!



Renovation Mortgages in St. Louis

By Jeremy DurhamJeremey Durham Home Loans

Are you in the market for a new home, but nothing has that Wow Factor you seek? This is an issue that home buyers in all price ranges experience whenever there is even a slight hint of a shortage of inventory. But what if you could take the home you desire in the school district you choose, or location you so badly want, and give it the Wow Factor that meets your tastes to a T? Well, you can! What you need is a Renovation Loan; a loan that allows you to purchase a home at an agreed upon sales price, while rolling the costs of updating the kitchen and bathrooms, replacing that 25 year old worn out deck, replacing siding, soffit, & fascia, and a variety of other home upgrades and improvements into the loan. The value for these programs are based on the Subject To Value of the home once the renovations are completed, and not at the current value at which the humdrum home is listed for sale.

FHA 203K:
This renovation option requires a small down payment of 3.5%, the lowest rate, and can accommodate all homebuyers regardless of whether they are a first-time homebuyer, or buying their fourth home. This program will allow for a loan amount of 110% of the home’s appraised value as long as that loan amount does not exceed the program limit of $271,050.

Fannie Mae Homestyle: 
This program allows for higher purchase prices and loan amounts up to $424,100. The Homestyle will also allow for “Luxury” amenities to be added to the home that the FHA option does not allow for. This option does require a 5% down payment. 

First Integrity Mortgage’s Own Design Plus:
This program is the one of a kind Renovation version of our own Power Plus program. This program is designed for a premium level of house
, that will allow a $424,100 1st loan, closing in combination with a 2nd that can, in certain circumstances, reach $300,000. There is no other program available that will allow the Luxury Home client to perform this level of renovation on a new home, or their current home, without dipping into their own funds for the renovation.

If the idea of purchasing a home in your ideal location and renovating it to meet YOUR tastes sounds like a plan you can buy into, please call me at (314) 856-5626 or (314) 878-7900, or e-mail me, to discuss the best renovation option for turning your blah home, into the home of your dreams! 

First Integrity Mortgage Services - We Think. We Care. We Deliver.

First Integrity Mortgage Services in St. Louis

By: Christine ElbertChristine Elbert Loans in St. Louis

First Integrity Mortgage Services has always been dedicated to building strong communities in Missouri and Illinois. That commitment extends supporting organizations that support our communities. First Integrity has been a longtime supporter of, donating over $15,000 in 2016 and continuing our program of donating $250 to the BackStoppers organization and $500 closing cost credit for every First Responder loan done through our company. We also host an annual Trivia night benefiting the organization. 

A company being supportive of organizations is great, but when that commitment to help extends from every employee as well, it’s not hard to understand how proud the employees and the owners are of the type of company they work for.  Employees are given a variety of ways to contribute. Every quarter, a new charity is chosen and funds are raised from “casual dress days” and a collection box in the breakroom.

The last quarter of 2016 was focused on Gateway to Hope a local organization that assists Breast Cancer survivors with financial need in a time of crisis, allowing people to concentrate on healing.  In October, I was lucky enough to perform in a benefit show for Gateway to Hope at a local club. There is no better feeling than seeing some of my fellow employees and some of their kids show up to support the cause and me.  Past organizational support has gone to Autism Speaks to support people with Autism, and TASK, which creates and supports team activities for special needs kids.

Our employees also give their time and money individually by being involved with organizations including Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, the Salvation Army, The LGBT Center of St Louis, St Jude, Habitat for Humanity, the Trevor Project, American Association for Suicide Prevention, and Lydia’s House.

Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  Being an employee of First Integrity allows me to do accomplish both at the same time, and to me, that is the greatest gift.  

Be sure to follow us on our Facebook and Twitter pages for more information about the organizations we support and the upcoming BackStoppers Trivia night to come.

Licensed mortgage professionals at First Integrity Mortgage use their experience, expertise, and the special programs available to discover your goals, present multiple relevant options, and recommend the program that best meets YOUR needs!

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