How To Build A House Without Getting Divorced!

By Christy Soukhamneut, shared with permission
The first house my husband and I ever bought, we built.  Over the last 21+ years of marriage, we have built 3 additional homes and completely remodeled another. The remodel might have really been the one that did us in – I only wish I had the before and after pictures to show you. PLUS, we were young and stupid and did almost 100% of the work ourselves while selling a house and then living in the midst of a remodel job with no kitchen.  It was truly urban camping.
Somehow, we made it out on the other side of all of that without getting a divorce.  We learned a few things in the process that could help you on your journey.  On the upside, not all of it was bad.  Read on to learn the good, bad, and the ugly from not only my experience, but from top industry experts who have been through the process themselves and helped thousands of clients successfully make it through this journey unscathed.
The Good
 Here is what Ungenita Prevost from Posh on Pennies had to say about purchasing a new construction home (you can fin Ungenita on Twitter @UngenitaPrevost @PoshonPennies or online ) “Building with your partner can be a lot of fun if you start the process with the right attitude, a clear budget and set the intention to create something that you both love. It’s a win, win!”
“We approached it like a joint venture (I know it sounds like business, it’s one of my favorite words).  The point is we were equally involved and contributed.”
The Bad (really, how to keep it from going bad, but it fits with the theme)
According to Paul Sian from HER Realtors (find Paul at 513-560-8002, on Twitter @PaulPSian, or online ), that having “a professional real estate agent can help keep you out of trouble….you have expert advice. At times where emotions can get the best of you having an expert in your corner lest you relax and know someone else has your best interests in mind and will guide you when you need it.”
Shawn Helwig, Area Sales Manager with Henry Homes (you can reach Shawn at 615.573.7444 or online at says “It is very rare that both parties get 100% of what they want in a new home.  Be open to compromise. If you can get 90% of your wish list, consider that a win.  Don’t sweat the other 10%.”
Judy McDougal, a top producing Realtor® with ReMax Savannah (you can reach Judy at 912.354.1555 or online who is currently building a home with her husband Art, says “The best thing you can do is hire a builder that you both can work well with.  Building is a partnership.”  She goes on to agree with both Ungenita that decisions should be made together and with Shawn that compromises need to be made.
The Ugly (again, cut me some slack…it’s a theme)
Jarad Brown, a savvy loan officer with Starkey Mortgage who is currently remodeling a home with his pregnant wife Amber – he is a brave man (Jarad can be reached at 912.604.8848, on Twitter @jaradbbrown or online at  , advises to avoid the ugly by setting a budget. He says to set one for the entire build and one for each section of the build or remodel.  For example, the kitchen is the most important to us so we are going to allot $30,000.  Make sure to use dollar amounts and not vague figures.  Then stick to the budget.  No cheating.
In summary, the top tips are:
·        Start with a good attitude
·        Work with a professional Realtor®
·        Pick a builder you can both work with
·        Make decisions together
·        Be willing to compromise
·       Set a budget & stick with it…no cheating
Follow these simple (though, admittedly not always easy) steps and you should be well on your way to enjoying your new home.
Join us next time as we explore more in the world of mortgage lending. If you have a burning question or just want to chat — I love to be social……you can reach me on Twitter (@ChrisEllaLoans), Snapchat (ChrisElla2), CyberDust (ChrisElla),, at the office at 912.721.9400, and my website at . Find out more about me and more ways we can network (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) at\chrisella
As always, if you liked this article please like, share, or comment…….or all of these things; they are greatly appreciated.
 Oh…One last piece of advice, agree on when you will remove the port-a-potty J It doesn’t go with your décor.
Christy Soukhamneut, Area Manager
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The worst is over! You have chosen a lender and real estate agent, you have found the home of your dreams, and your team has negotiated the best deal available for you. As a homebuyer, all you have to do now is sit and wait for your loan to close, right?


Getting a home loan is an interactive process. To help avoid any surprises while waiting for final approval, clients should consider the following do’s and don’ts.

Bart Swan and his team recommend that you keep your loan process on track by remembering the following:

• Do keep the process moving by responding to your loan officers’ requests.
• Do make decisions as soon as is reasonably possible.
• Do convey questions or concerns you have as they develop.
• Do continue to make all of your rent or mortgage payments on time.
• Do stay current on all other existing accounts.
• Do continue to work your normal work schedule with no unplanned time off.
• Do continue to use your credit as normal.

After you have been preapproved for your mortgage, refrain from falling into some of these common pitfalls, which can tie up your loan process, or worse, reverse the process entirely:

1. Don’t make any major purchases (car, jewelry, furniture, appliances, etc.).
2. Don’t apply for any new credit (even if it says you are preapproved).
3. Don’t pay off charges or collections (unless directed by your loan officer).
4. Don’t make any changes to your credit profile.
5. Don’t make unusual deposits into your bank accounts or move money around.

Follow these simple rules and you will help to make your loan closing as smooth and hassle-free as possible. Call me today for any questions you may have about your upcoming purchase.

Do you have lender problems?

Don’t miss out on buying your dream house because another lender dropped the ball.  Let the professionals at Starkey Mortgage help save the day.

In today’s crazy no holds barred lending environment, the difference in getting the house of your dreams or sleeping in your car with your goldfish while everything you own is packed into the back of a moving van boils down to a simple choice that YOU make at the beginning of your home buying journey.  That choice is who will my loan officer be?

Your loan officer is not only going to be your guide on your loan journey; they are going to be your best friend, your financial advisor, your secretary, your moving planner, and, even, your psychologist.  That’s a lot of trust to place in the hands of one person.  You need to choose wisely.
A lot of lenders look similar, so what are you to do when deciding on your loan officer?
·        Look for a local lender.  You want to be able to sit down with your loan officer in person should you so choose.
·        Experience Pays Off! A lender that does one loan a month is very different than one who does ten.  Make sure your loan officer has been in the business longer than a week; their experience will make all the difference in your home buying experience.
·        Get References! Ask your friends, see what your Realtor® says, check out the testimonials on their websites, and see what they are doing on social media.
·        Most important of all —-Go with your gut! Find the loan officer that you click with; that you feel good about working with; your personalities should match up.  Remember, they are going to be your best friend during this process.
Starkey Mortgage strives to make home ownership a reality by putting people first. Whether you are a first time homebuyer, purchasing a new home or just needing refinance options, the professionals at Starkey Mortgage can tailor the services and products specific to your needs.  In today’s market, it is the team of individuals helping you that make the difference.


New TRID Updates and How They Affect You


The new TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule (TRID) rules and forms took effect October 3, 2015. You may have heard of the new rules, however, I’ve taken some time to clarify a few questions and ways that the new regulations will affect both buyer and lender. This new rule is meant to simplify and clarify. The TRID updates are an attempt to improve and correct possible flaws with the current regulations. Starkey Mortgage can assist with this process which will make for a smooth buying process.


To begin with, there are two new forms that are much more user-friendly than their predecessors. They are the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure forms, which are replacing four different forms from two government agencies. The form layouts are easier to understand, and you might find that they simply look better. They also make comparison shopping loans easier on the borrower.

Another change is the timing of the closing and the delivery date requirements. Borrowers will now be able to review the Closing Disclosure for at least three days prior to closing. In addition, the title company will need to send their fees to the lender well enough in advance of closing to allow the lender to meet the new delivery date requirements. The seller will receive this Closing Disclosure at or before closing. This prevents the deal from changing at the last minute, while giving buyers more time to review the paperwork before reaching the settlement table.


Lenders will likely have a lengthier process to undergo than in prior years. They are now responsible for the Closing Disclosure instead of the title company. Internally, they will need to allow for more time in order to have the required forms submitted on deadline. While the new regulations lay more responsibilities on the lender, they benefit all involved in the long run.


The National Association of Realtors is also recommending that Realtors add 15 days to the normal closing time frame to account for these changes. As a buyer, your quoted closing time may increase, but you will likely benefit from this extra time.

Any inspections or repairs will need to be handled earlier in the process than before the new updates. The goal here is to reduce any last-minute complications. So while the burden is increased on the lender, you the buyer can greatly benefit from the new regulations.


Our team of professionals can help you navigate the TRID maze and come out a winner on the other side. Though the process has changed, our concierge customer service has not. Our experts understand the ins and outs of these new rules, and want to help you feel confident in your home purchase. For more FAQs, please visit:

Choosing a Location for Your New Home


Making the decision to relocate is almost always difficult. You can be influenced to move by many factors. Do you want to upgrade, downgrade, change school districts, or find a better lifestyle? Moving can provide these changes for you, but can also be a hassle without the right guidance. We have some tips to help aid your search for the perfect home in just the right spot.


What kind of climate are you looking for? Do you want a large amount of land or just a small front yard? Decide what you’re looking for before diving into the search. The internet is an excellent tool to research various regions and what they have to offer. You may be surprised to learn what areas align with your perfect idea of a home location.

Contact a real estate professional to save time and become more informed. They will help with home availability in areas you wish to review while advising you of the selling prices of the homes.


If you have children, finding a home within an exceptional school district is probably one of your main concerns when relocating. There are several online resources for DIY research. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics offers helpful data and snapshot reports to help you compare districts. Use this and other free tools to stay informed.

There are also consultants who specialize in finding the best school for your child. If school district is one of your top priorities, consider hiring a consultant to help you navigate the maze of school choice.


Do you enjoy fine dining or walks in the park? Perhaps both? Figure out how you would like to spend your free time and find a location that caters to your needs. If you enjoy hiking or other outdoor activities, maybe the middle of a busy city isn’t the best place for you. If you like a wide variety of restaurant choices nearby, you may not enjoy living in a rural area. Consider your choices carefully, and make sure you fully appreciate the amenities of your new home’s location.


Most of us would enjoy a shorter commute versus a longer one. Figure out travel time to and from your place of business. Get to know the traffic patterns of your potential new location. What seems like a short drive in the middle of the day may actually be quite strenuous during rush hour. Do you use public transportation? Ensure that there are systems in place in your location of choice to get you where you need to go. If you have an electric vehicle, charging stations nearby could be a selling point for you. Travel frequently? A shorter drive to the airport could really help your trip time. Keep your needs in mind and make sure your commute is a sustainable one.


We all want to feel safe. Just like school districts, there are plenty of resources online to check safety statistics on your potential new neighborhood. These resources can prove invaluable, especially if you’re the type of person who likes being able to leave their door unlocked.


Make sure the value of homes in the area you are considering is going up, not down. Are there potential new developments occurring? What will the neighborhood look like in the future? Know approximately how long you plan to stay in that location and choose accordingly.

Consider these and other tips when choosing a location for your new home. You and your family are sure to find contentment if you know your needs and plan ahead.

Ask Bart Swan or any of my team members if you have any questions or concerns. While purchasing a home may be stressful, it is one of the most rewarding and gratifying experiences you will ever have.

September Housing Starts Rise

Housing starts for September were at a seasonally adjusted rate of 658,000. A 15% increase from the August estimate of 572,000. This 15% increase represents the fastest growth pace in 17 months. Housing starts were led by multi-dwelling units, but does offer a glimmer of hope for the sluggish housing market.

As you can see in this chart, September is the current high for 2011, with the low occurring in February with 518,000 housing starts.

Click Here for My Featured Chart.

FHA maximum mortgage limits to be reduced


FHA loans in Florida
FHA loans in Florida

Sometimes people think that FHA is an acronym that means first time homebuyer. The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loan isn’t just for first time homebuyers.  In fact, you can have multiple FHA loans.  It is required that you plan to reside in the home as your primary residence though.  It’s conceivable under certain conditions that you could rent your current home with an FHA loan already in place and relocate to another home and get another FHA loan, having two FHA loans at the same time.  “FHA” does not mean “first time homebuyer”.

The FHA, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), places limits on the mortgage amounts in various counties.  I guess HUD doesn’t want to be financing homes for the rich and famous buying their mega mansion.  They want to finance homes for the common folks like me! HUD changes their limits as prices fluctuate.  The limit is going down this time which seems bad, but it’s because homes are so much more affordable now, and that’s a good thing!

My primary area of business is Okaloosa County,Florida.  The limit in Okaloosa County is reducing from $312,500 to $271,050.  To check the loan limit in your area, click the HUD logo above.  It’s important to note that this change affects loans registered (not necessarily closed) with FHA on or after Oct 1, 2011.  So if you’re working out a purchase agreement in this price range that isn’t going to close for several weeks or months, that’s ok so long as your lender (me, of course) gets it registered with FHA before Oct 1.

How can I help you or your friends?