Twin Cities real estate market hits 10-yr high

Minneapolis, MN: The Minneapolis, St Paul area real estate market reached a 10-year milestones in June 2015, with signed purchase agreements rising 19.2 percent to 6,266. Last year, closed sales had increased 22% to 6,928.

Real Estate, Minnesota, Minneapolis, for sale, mortgage rates, interest rates
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This is all welcome news, because the last time demand was this strong was back in June 2005, according to a release Monday from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

The June 2015 median sales price climbed 4.7% to $229,900. This puts the AVERAGE home price to within just 3.5% of the record high set back in June 2006, which was at a then record median high of $238,000. Typical price per square foot, now at $128, is about 18.5 percent below its June 2006 record high.

The local real estate market continues to be a sellers market, because of the ongoing imbalance between the supply of homes for sale, and the number of active buyers looking to buy a home.

Sellers are getting on average about 99.6% of their last list price, with large numbers of homes selling within days, with multiple offers, and over list price.

For buyers, this means you need to be fully mortgage lender pre-approved, with pre-approval letter in hand, and ready to make an offer immediately on anything you love.

 MN first time home buyer programs


Advantages of a Mortgage Professional vs Application Clerk

Advantages of a Mortgage Professional vs Application Clerk

Buying a home is an expensive proposition, and usually the largest single financial transaction of the average persons life.  Not all mortgage loan officers are created equal.  It is important to understand the advantages of a true licensed mortgage professional,  versus an unlicensed application clerk.

A deserved premium is always given to those Loan Officers who have deep knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of mortgage financing and loan programs. They are an asset for different kinds of clients because of their life experiences, loan experiences, wisdom, and resourcefulness.

Most people simply contact their bank, and whomever answers the phone is who they entrust with the mortgage.  Why?  The next biggest group of people use whomever their Real Estate Agent suggests.  Why do you blindly trust these people?

Licensed versus Unlicensed

If I asked you if you preferred to work with a licensed or unlicensed Loan Officer, the answer is pretty simple. Just about everyone would say a licensed person. Yet the vast majority of Loan Officers do NOT have an individual Loan Officer License.  Depending on where they work, they are not ever required to have a license.

licenseIf they work at a bank, credit union, or mortgage company owned by a bank or credit union, no licensed required. If they work at a mortgage broker, or other non-bank owned lender, a license IS required.

But just because a licensed is not required, does not prevent someone from getting a license. If they really cared about you, and being the best they could be, they would show it by obtaining a license. This proves to clients they have met the requirements for background checks, schooling, passing testing, and continuing education.

How to Check for a License

All Loan Officers must have a tracking number, known as an NMLS number (Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry).  This is NOT a license number!

nmls

To verify a Loan Officer is Licensed, not simply registered, go to the NMLS Web Site at www.NMLSconsumerAccess.org.  Type in the Loan Officers name or NMLS number.

Towards the bottom of the page, it will say State Licenses/Registrations, or Federal Registration.

If it says: Federal Registration, and Federal National Mortgage Originator. This means the person is NOT Licensed

If it says: State Licenses/Registration, then lists one or more states, this means the person IS Licensed.

Who to Choose?

I am not saying that the person who is simply registered and NOT licensed is a bad person. I am not saying they don’t have experience. I am not saying that a person with a license is a good person…

But what I am saying, is someone who has taken the time to pass the required background checks, taken the schooling required, pass the required state and federal tests, and receives mandatory continuing education each year show you the consumer that they are true professionals. If the person you are working with doesn’t have a license, ask they why? An answer of “I don’t need one” is a poor answer.

Clients enjoy a peaceful mind knowing that an important aspect of their lives is in the hands of a highly professional Loan Officer. This draws the line between application clerks and real professionals.

In the context of service, respectfulness, dedication, and commitment to helping others, I am choosing a Licensed Professional, regardless of the industry!

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Joe Metzler is a Senior Mortgage Loan Officer for Minnesota based Mortgages Unlimited. He was named the 2014 Minnesota Loan Officer of the Year, and provides Home Mortgage Loans in MN, WI, and SD.

He can be reached at (651) 552-3681


The Truth about Short Sales

SHORT SALES: TOP 10 MYTHS DEBUNKED!

Myth #1: The homeowner must fall behind on mortgage payments in order to qualify for a short sale.   Truth: Years ago this may have been true, but not today

  • A financial hardship must exist, such as the ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage) increasing in monthly payments.
  • Loss of job or income.
  • Health or medical issues.
  • Extraordinary loss in home value (which may be considered a hardship).

No one should be advised to miss a mortgage payment.

Myth #2: Banks would rather foreclose on a property than approve a short sale. Truth: Many still believe this myth to be true, but more accurately, banks would prefer not to foreclose on a property due to the $50-70k it may cost the bank per transaction. Banks lose less money on a short sale than on a foreclosure.

Myth #3: Homeowners must be pre-approved by their lender to be eligible for a short sale. Truth: Absolutely not true. By and large, most lenders will consider short sale offers. However, each lender may have unique and specific processes to follow, from listing the home to the acceptance of a short sale. Bypassing any part of this process may result the sale not closing, so be sure to follow each lenders’ processes closely.

Myth #4: Short sales never close. Truth: Obviously not true. In some areas of the U.S., nearly 50% of all closings are considered to be “distressed” properties, meaning REOs and short sales.

Myth #5: Short sales take months (and months) to close. Truth: The short sale processes must be learned. Once mastered, it may not be uncommon to close a short sale in 30 days. However, certain idiosyncrasies may slow the process and each lender presents their own unique set of specific challenges. No two short sale transactions are identical.

Myth #6: Damage to the homeowner’s credit standing is comparable in a short sale and a foreclosure. Truth: In many cases, credit repercussions and deficiency protections are more damaging with a foreclosure. Short sale transactions can often lead to faster financial recovery for the homeowner and should be carefully considered. Note: If the homeowner missed no mortgage payments, they may be eligible to finance the purchase of a home immediately following a short sale transaction.

Myth #7: Following a short sale, the homeowner will be ineligible to purchase another property for the next 7 years.
Truth: Not true. Using conventional lending guidelines, some consumers may obtain a Fannie Mae backed mortgage a short 24 months after the close of their short sale with 10% down payment. FHA loans is three years.

Myth #8: After a short sale transaction, the homeowner will receive a 1099 and be forced to declare the loss as income.
Truth: The owner may indeed receive a 1099, but due to the 2007 Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, among other considerations, the homeowner may not owe any taxes on their transaction. Note: This Act is due to expire at the end of 2012.

Myth #9: The lender will sue the homeowner after the close of a short sale (or foreclosure, or deed in lieu of foreclosure) for the deficiency.
Truth: Each state and each transaction is different. Many states have anti-deficiency protections in place for short sales and foreclosures.

Myth #10: Real Estate Agents don’t need additional training to learn all of the ins and outs of the short sale process.
Truth: Only work with agents experienced in short-sales.


USDA Home Loans are Zero Down Payment

USDA 100% Home Loan Financing – Best Kept Mortgage Secret! 

7 out of the 11 Twin City County Areas are eligible. These properties are closer than you think!

The USDA Guaranteed Rural Housing Mortgage Program offers individuals and families 100% financing for semi-rural to rural properties throughout the state of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

  • 100 % Financing – ZERO down payment
  • No Cash From Buyer
  • Cheap Mortgage Insurance (especially compared to FHA loans)
  • No Assets Needed – No Money left in the bank needed
  • Relaxed Credit Requirements
  • Finance Closing Costs into the Loan


Winning or losing – How to play the Mortgage Interest Rate Game

Mortgage interest rates — just like stock prices — change price daily and you can win big or lose big if you don’t know what you are doing.

#1 Mortgage Interest Rate and Lender Shopping Tip | MN and WI Mortgage Rates | Quote, Float, or Lock? |

For the home buyer that is “shopping” for a mortgage, or waiting for rates to fall, or just “hasn’t gotten around to it”, we suggest you almost always lock, and to do it quickly. The sooner you lock your rate, the less chance you have of losing in the Mortgage Rate game.

If you are refinancing, you can gamble a bit more, but if you have a signed purchase contract in hand, lock your rate as soon as possible.  There is no better way to protect yourself from the fickle mortgage markets. Holding out for 1/8th – 1/4% more is just not worth the risk! If you want to gamble… go to Vegas.

What is a Rate QUOTE? When buying a home or refinancing, it is common to call around to many lenders to get a rate quote. A quote is not a guaranteed rate. Another common issue with getting a quote is you often get one from Lender A on Monday, Lender B on Tuesday, and Lender C on Wednesday. Rates can change daily, sometimes multiple times, so unless you get all your quotes at the same time, you don’t have accurate information. THE ONLY QUOTE THAT MATTERS IS THE DAY YOU LOCK. Many lenders quote you low to get you to stop shopping, knowing that you will usually NOT be locking the same day of the quote – especially for any purchase loans. Be wary of anyone significantly lower than anyone else.

What is a Rate Lock Period? The lender will usually quote rates along with a rate lock period, usually 15, 45, or 60 days. The loan must close within this period. The longer the rate period, the higher the interest rate.

What is a Rate Lock? When you “LOCK” your interest rate with your lender, you and the lender agree this is the guaranteed rate you will receive, and that no matter what the markets do before closing, you will not be charged a higher rate if rates go up, and you will not be able to get a lower rate if rates go down. Your rate lock should be in writing.

What Does It Mean to Float? Floating your rate means means that while your loan is in progress, the rate is NOT yet guaranteed. You are taking the risk that interest rates will either not go up or that they will fall. If rates have been dropping, then you might want to take a chance that rates will be lower by the time you close your loan than they are today. Discuss the floating with your Loan Officer. Sometimes it is worth the gamble, sometimes it isn’t.


Government to step in with new refinance options?

Minneapolis, MN: Many reports have surfaced recently that the government is seriously considering a wide range of ideas to assist consumers in refinancing their homes loans owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to take advantage of today’s amazing low interest rates. For a variety of reason, mostly to due to negative equity or current tighter credit underwriting guidelines, large numbers of these homeowners have been left to the sidelines.

As a Loan Officer, I have never fully understood some of the silliness in some underwriting guidelines, and have a few suggestions.

If Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (you and I since the government took the over during the peek of the credit crunch) already “own your loan”, you are current with your payments, and your basic financial position is OK, what does it matter if your home is underwater? They already own the the loan, and have all the risk. Wouldn’t lowering their payment reduce the risk and simply make sense?

While allowing these people to refinance, I would add one rule…  That being that you couldn’t “go backwards”. In other words, if the homeowner currently has a 30-yr fixed mortgage with 26-year remaining, they would not be allowed to have a new loan longer than 26-years.

While it is little know, and even less used as most people select a very traditional 15-yr, 20-yr, or 30-year mortgage, many mortgage lenders (including us) allow you to select any number of years you wish. If you want a 17-yr fixed, or the aforementioned 26-yr fixed, no problem. We can do that.

For FHA loan holders, a quick, immediate fix is possible to help those people refinance by simply changing a mortgage insurance rule. Allow people with existing FHA loans to refinance with their current mortgage insurance rate.

Everyday I speak with homeowners with FHA loans, where I could easily lower their interest rate by 1% – 1.5%, but it makes no financial sense for them to do it.

FHA loans all have mortgage insurance. Up until recently, the cost of the insurance, which is included in their monthly payment, was just 0.55% of their loan amount. A simple way to understand the cost, is on a $200,000 mortgage loan, the insurance costs $110 per month.

Last year, FHA increased the insurance to 1.15%. So on the same $200,000 loan, the monthly cost is now $230! YIKES. The higher insurance cost eats up most, if not all of their potential monthly savings, leaving many FHA homeowners unable to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates.

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There are differences in Loan Officer qualifications. Know how to tell who you are working with

Is your Loan Officer Licensed, or simply registered? There is a BIG difference YOU need to understand

Recent changes to the lending industry requires all loan officers to have a tracking number, known as an NMLS number (Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry). It should be displayed on their business cards, E-Mail, web sites, all correspondence, and most loan documents.

The display of the NMLS number may make many believe the Loan Officer is licensed. Sadly, this isn’t true, and working with an unlicensed, untrained Loan Officer can cause you many headaches and hassles.

Simply put, Loan Officers at Banks, most Credit Unions, or Mortgage Companies owned by a bank are NOT REQUIRED to be licensed, take classes, pass any tests, take continuing education, or pass any state or federally mandated tests to be a Loan Officer!

CHECK YOUR LOAN OFFICER OUT on the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry at http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org

My NMLS # is 274132

It is hard to determine if the Loan Officer is simply registered, versus licensed. When looking up a loan officer, you have to go to the bottom of their NMLS identification page and look under State Licenses/Registrations or Federal Registrationheading.

  • A LICENSED Loan Officer will say “State Licenses/Registrations” and will have one or more STATES listed with licensing information.
  • An UNLICENSED, but simply REGISTERED Loan Officer will say “Federal Registration” and the something like Federal Mortgage Loan Originator.

Who is Best? Banks, Brokers, or Direct Mortgage Lenders?

Now I am not trying to make this into a David versus Goliath story, but I am trying to emphasize the huge differences between Loan Officer training. As the new requirements have been rolling out across the country, many Loan Officers who have been unable to meet the new licensing and testing requirements, and especially those who have failed the new tests, have simply gone to the large banks to work.

Calling “1-800-Big-Bank” to get a loan??? YIKES. Here is a chart to show the differences:

SAFE ACT Loan Officers
(MLO’s)
Bank Loan Officers (RMLO’s)
Have Personal License Yes No
Registered in NMLS Yes Yes
FBI Background Yes No
Fingerprinted Yes No
Surety Bonded Yes No
Pre-Employment education Yes No
8 hours continuing education each year Yes No
Personal Credit checked Yes No
Pass Tough State Test Yes No
Pass Tough Federal Test Yes No
Complaint mechanism’s Yes No
Licensing fees and renewals Yes No
Loan Officer Designation MLO RMLO
NMLS = Nationwide Mortgage Lender System and Registry (Tracking Number)
MLO = Mortgage Loan Officer (Licensed and Trained)
RMLO = Registered Mortgage Loan Officer (simply registered)

I think the choice is clear. Who would YOU rather be working with on the largest financial transaction of your life? A fully trained, licensed, fingerprinted, and background checked Loan Officer – or the untrained, unlicensed, and simply registered Loan Officer at the bank?

The funny part is the cost for the service based on rates and fees are usually about the same, if not slightly cheaper in both rate and costs. Plus non-bank lenders usually close the loans faster, and have more knowledgeable and experienced Loan Officers.

The best S.A.F.E. ACT Loan Officer (non-Bank) analogy I can use is having a choice of working with an experienced CPA to do your taxes vs. you using Turbo Tax to do it yourself, but paying the same price.

Finally, THIS IS A CLEAR REASON why people should follow my #1 mortgage shopping rule: GOOGLE THE NAME OF YOUR LOAN OFFICER before allowing them to handle the largest financial transaction of your life!


Current lending rules too tight

The percentage of mortgage applications rejected by the nation’s largest lenders increased last year, spotlighting how banks’ cautious lending practices are hampering the nascent housing market recovery.

In all, the nation’s 10 largest mortgage lenders denied 26.8% of loan applications in 2010, an increase from 23.5% in 2009, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of mortgage data filed with banking regulators.

Although lenders were expected to pull back from the freewheeling conditions that helped inflate the housing bubble, some economists argue they are now too conservative, and say that with the U.S. economy still wobbly, mortgages need to be easier to obtain for qualified borrowers, not harder.

Read the full story


Refinancing? Common mistakes to avoid

Mortgage Interest Rates are near historic lows. You want to refinance?
Common mistakes, and what NOT To Do

There are a lot of things “not to do”. I will point out only the 3 most common mistakes I see people make.

  1. Setting an unrealistic goal. I always get inquiries from people who say something like, “I have a 30 year fixed rate loan at 5.875% and I will refinance ONLY when rates get to 4.0% with no closing costs”. Sometimes I call people back and say, “Why 4%? why not 3% or 2%? They say, “Well rates are not going to go that low”. Right and they are unlikely to go to 4% with no closing costs also (“no closing cost” loans typically cost anywhere from 1/2% to .75% higher than the going interest rate) You should first succumb to the fact that once you can lower your rate with no out of pocket expense, you should probably refinance. Don’t draw unrealistic interest rate lines in the sand. They get blown away too easily.
  2. The “Once rates start dropping, they are going to continue to drop and I’m smart and I am going to lock when rates hit the bottom of the market” syndrome. It is very hard to guess the interest-rate cycle, and pretty hard to catch the bottom. Remember that rates can rise fairly quickly.
  3. “If the rate goes down just another 1/8th percent, then I’ll lock” This one just kills me! I see people lose all the time over this theory. If your current rate is 5.875% and today’s rate is 4.875%. LOCK & CLOSE! Most people have what I call “interest rate block”. They get a rate stuck in their head, and that is the rate they want, no matter what. Most people fail to realize (and most loan officers fail to show them), that the difference on the average loan over 1/8th a percent is usually less than $15 per month. If you can save $150 per month on your loan at today’s rate, why gamble? Why hold out for another $15 when the odds are against you?

Don’t get piggy. Work with us. Set a goal and lock when it gets there. Are we going to hit the bottom? Probably not. Are we going to save you money? Yes. If you can save money with no out of pocket costs, than you have nothing to lose. If you want to gamble go to Las Vegas. It’s a heck of a lot more fun. Apply Now

Extra Tricks to Save Money When Refinancing

The purpose of most refinance loans is simply to save money. The goal is to minimize your expense over the life of the loan or to minimize your monthly payment in the near future.

If you can swing it, don’t roll every cost of refinancing into your new loan. Most people escrow for taxes and insurance. If you do, your current lender must give you escrow refund within 30 days of paying off their loan. Your new lender, be it us or someone else, must take the equivalent amount of money (or more) at closing to start the new escrow account.

Remember that you always get to skip a month of payments. If you close June 5th, your first new payment is August 1st.

Knowing this, paying some of your closing costs out-of-pocket will save you even more money in the long run. Why roll in $4000 in closing costs, when you really only need to roll in $2000 ($1000 escrow refund + $1000 missed payment = $2000). Paying that $2000 over 30 years doesn’t make sense if you don’t have too.

On the other hand, some people love the fact that they didn’t pay anything out of pocket to refinance, got a nice escrow refund check, then got to miss a mortgage payment. They use the ‘extra’ money to pay bills, go on vacation, etc.

Picking a Lender & Closing Costs

Shopping for a home loan is confusing. No matter what we’re looking for — from cars to refrigerators’ — there’s a built-in element of confusion. Why? Lack of knowledge. An unfortunate rule of thumb is that the less we know about something we need to buy, the more we can expect to pay for it.

Shopping for a mortgage in Minneapolis, St Paul, Duluth, Rochester, Madison, Milwaukee, and throughout all of Minnesota and Wisconsin is complex at best — even for the savvy previous home owner. Daily rate changes, time-sensitive lock-in periods, points, lender’s fees… plus the emotional element of probably the largest financial deal any of us will ever make. Throw in to this already murky stew the ingredients of tricky internet mortgage rate advertising, commissions for every officer, agent and broker who ‘helps’ in your transaction, and the obscure differences between ‘rates’ and ‘fees.’ It’s no mystery that many buyers settle for a home loan that exceeds their monetary means out of sheer exasperation!

Please review our information on closing costs and “BAD Good Faith Estimates“. There is currently a large number of fly-by-night lenders doing some incredibly misleading rate & closing cost advertising. Remember, if it sounds too good, it probably is! Also check out my article “Best Rate or Lowest Cost” for more loan comparison information.

The Bottom Line
Remember, the first rule is that there are no rules. You should refinance if it makes sense for you. Every person & situation is different. What makes sense for one family, may not make sense for you. Call me today to discuss your wants, needs, and goals. Together we’ll determine if refinancing makes sense for YOU.

Click here for more information on the actual loan process.
Click here for
10 Tips to a Smooth Closing
Click here for
10 Mistakes to Avoid


NAR fees are up, and I’m on a budget

NAR fees are up, advertising costs are up, real estate sales are down, but as a Real Estate Agent, you need to find more clients, and you need to do it on a budget. Here are a few simple tools to increase your business and make more money from Joe Metzler at Mortgages Unlimited, and the Mn Real Estate Daily Show.

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IRS Reports First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Abuse


The IRS says there was significant abuse and fraudulent claims related to the $8000 First Time Home Buyers tax credit. Pretty shocking numbers… $29 Billion dollars given to 4 million people, and the fraud amounted to…

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MORTGAGES for SELF-EMPLOYED, and COMMISSIONED INCOME Clients

MORTGAGES FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED,   COMMISSIONED, or TIPPED INCOME Clients

Self employed individuals often ask … Why is it so difficult to qualify for mortgage financing?

Minneapolis, MN:  Self-employed borrowers, those who work on commission, or those who receive tipped income present one of the most challenging areas of mortgage underwriting. Qualifying self-employed people often requires significant extra time, energy, and patience. A fair and honest pre-qualification requires a special set of Loan Officer skills and expertise.

Long gone are the days when any Loan Officer could give a low doc, no doc, or stated income loan to a self-employed borrower, commission, or tipped income client without any training or special consideration.

Generally speaking, it’s tougher for the self-employed buyer to qualify for a mortgage because it is hard to answer the question: “What is your income?”

What did you earn, what did you write off? Taking advantage of tax laws to reduce income is great for reducing tax liability, but also shows you make less money, making a potential home mortgage loan approval difficult.

Next lenders are looking to see a income history. Is income increasing, decreasing, or stable? This all comes into play for self-employed, commissions, and tipped income home buyers and those same type clients interested in a refinance of their existing home loan.

Today, lenders are back to the old way of providing mortgage loans, and the vast majority of Mortgage Companies, and especially Mortgage Loan Officers are either afraid to work on a self-employed persons home loan, or simply lack the extra knowledge and skill required to get self-employed people a home loan.

Reading, understanding, and qualifying a buyer off of tax returns is not for the weak of heart, or unlicensed bank reps working at a call center.


Self-Employed and Commissioned DOCUMENTS REQUIRED:

Be prepared to send us the following documents. We will be unable to assist you or evaluate you mortgage loan qualifications without them:

  • Last two years personal tax returns (all pages, All schedules)
  • Last two years business returns if employed through a corporation (all pages, all schedules)
  • Current Year-to-Date P&L (Profit and Loss Statement) and Balance Sheet

We will also require the traditional standard home loan approval documents:

OTHER INCOME

  • Copy of most recent two (2) years W-2 statements (for you and any co-borrowers)
  • Copy of pay stubs covering the last (30) thirty days (for you and any co-borrowers)

ASSETS

  • Copy of most recent monthly bank statements (ALL PAGES. If it says “page 1 of 3”, I need all 3 pages no matter what is on them.
  • Copy of most recent statements on 401K, IRA, or Mutual Fund Accounts
  • Copy of most recent brokerage statement for any stocks, bonds or certificates of deposits (or copies of actual certificate)

LESS THAN 2-YEARS SELF-EMPLOYED? YES, it is possible… But it is an exception and NOT easy to get approved. You will need to have worked in the exact same field, with a similar income, and have at least 1-yr of self employed Federal Tax Returns


How to have Real Estate Success in a down market

Look, there is no magic trick to being a successful Real Estate Agent. Winning agents in a down market don’t make excuses, they make the sales calls they need to make to generate new business. Partnering with a successful and motivated Loan Officer and Lender enhances your success. Watch this motivational clip by Joe Metzler of Mortgages Unlimited, St Paul, MN

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Fannie Mae HomePath offers 3.5% in closing costs (temporarily)

Fannie Mae temporarily offers 3.5% in closing cost incentive to home buyers purchasing a Fannie Mae HomePath eligible foreclosed home.

But wait,  beware of the small print… this is a limited time special incentive offer…. Watch to learn more

Mortgages Unlimited is a HomePath Lender in the Minneapolis and St Paul area, and for all of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Search for HomePath Homes in MN and WI

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Grow Your Real Estate Business for Free if you know the secret

MN Real Estate Agents, Are you closing deals, making money, and growing your business, or are you killing your future business.

Learn how to grow your business with the right attitude and the right mortgage lending partners.