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Florida VA Loans

One of the benefits for serving our country in the armed forces is the Veterans Administration Loan Guaranty Program, often referred to as a VA loan. If you are a veteran who is relocating to Florida or simply moving to a new home, Embrace Home Loans can help you with VA loan financing.

What are VA loans?
It’s important to note that VA loans are not issued by the Veterans Administration but are guaranteed by them. That allows mortgage lenders to provide you with more favorable terms than other borrowers. The process is not much different than conventional home loans. You find a property that meets your needs, apply for a loan with a lender and present your discharge papers and/or a Certificate of Eligibility (COE). The property will be appraised by an approved appraiser and if the application is approved, you will get the loan. The VA guarantees the loan, protecting the lender if you fail to repay the loan.

What are the advantages of a VA loan? VA loans come with significant benefits that can help veterans, service members and military families. These benefits include:

  • No down payment. Qualified borrowers can finance 100 percent of a home’s value without any down payment.
  • No private mortgage insurance. Most conventional borrowers must pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI), but VA loans are guaranteed by the Veteran’s Administration. This means lower payments and potentially thousands of dollars saved over the life of the loan.
  • Competitive interest rates. Interest rates are based on the risk assumed by the mortgage lender, and VA loans are less risky because they typically have rates that are lower than conventional interest rates.

Who is eligible?
Generally speaking, VA loans are available to service members, veterans, spouses and other beneficiaries. The VA determines who is eligible, and will issue those people a COE. You can apply for your COE online or by mail. Embrace Home Loans will be happy to assist you with your application. You must have satisfied your service requirements and have sufficient “entitlement” available for a VA loan. Veterans with full entitlement may qualify for a VA loan of up to $417,000.

Eligible VA loan borrowers must qualify for any loan they receive, which means they must have appropriate income and creditworthiness. The lender sets this criteria within VA guidelines, so these requirements may vary. What properties can I buy with a VA loan? The primary restriction is that VA loans must be used for owner-occupied, single-family homes or VA-approved condominiums, townhouses or multi-family homes of up to four units.

How do I find out more? You can contact Embrace Home Loans by visiting or calling 800-333-3004 extension 3560

Brevard County mortgage communication, service and experience

Realtors working with our local Brevard County mortgage team have an advantage which puts them and their home buyers in a better position with respect to the home financing position.  Our Brevard County mortgage team excels at 3 basics requirements of any financing team; Communication, Service, and Experience.

Communication – This is a touchy subject when talking to many Brevard County Realtors and Builders who are usually left in the dark with progress of their very important buyer.  Embrace Home loans offers immediate online updates for buyers, and followed up correspondence to all parties involved in the transaction, all the way to the closing day.  We also provide upfront estimates, review scenarios to predetermine if your buyer is approvable.  In fact, ask us about our “Approved To Move” program , where we can provide an actual underwriting Loan Commitment, prior to starting construction or writing a contract!  You’ll be informed every step of the way.

Service – We believe service comes down to teamwork.  We are 2 local loan officers who live and work in Brevard County, Stephen and Karen Thaggard, and have our own loan office assistant, Ryan; who is backed up with 4 processors here in Florida who are led by Paul, our own Processing Team Leader.  We underwrite our own loans, and can ask upfront for any special considerations on questionable mortgage loans, through our underwriting support team.  Service at Embrace Home Loans is unsurpassed.

Experience – Their are 2 types of Brevard County or FL mortgage professionals; those with experience and the others.  Karen and I bring 19 years of FL mortgage experience; and our processing team has even more; and Embrace Home Loans has been providing mortgage loans for 31 years and counting!  Staying informed with current mortgage programs and sharing FL mortgage loan options ensures your buyer has the best of opportunities to purchase their first or next Brevard County home.

If you have a question regarding Brevard County home mortgage financing, please contact us at 407.733.6425 (Stephen) or 321.987.9876 (Karen).  We would love the opportunity to assist and share how we can help your team close more homes.

A FL mortgage truth upfront, is always better

Ever have a home buyer who was pre-qualified for their FL mortgage loan, then learn only days prior to closing they were denied?  When home buyers are shopping around for a low mortgage rate and request to be pre-qualified for their FL mortgage loan, many forget one of the most important steps is working with an experienced FL mortgage professional.  An experienced FL mortgage professional knows to review all income and asset supporting documents as early in the mortgage loan process as possible to ensure their home buyer is well qualified.   

Yesterday our client, approved for a FL VA home loan, learned that his current home under contract had to be cancelled.  The buyer of his home was pre-qualified over a month ago, and now 3 days prior to closing, was denied because their qualifying debt ratio was too high.  That’s right, only 3 days from a scheduled closing!  This is something the loan officer should have known earlier in the process, yet has now stopped 2 home buyers from closing on their dream homes here in Florida.  Next time, they need to speak with an upfront FL mortgage professional that has experience.  Finding out the FL mortgage truth upfront is always better.

I have always said there are 2 types of mortgage loan officers.  Ones that depend solely on the final underwriting review to determine if their client was ever qualified… they are order takers.  While true FL mortgage professionals work upfront and pre-underwrite clients, understanding specific mortgage product knowledge, income analysis, and overall soundness of their clients’ specific qualifications.  This makes all the difference in the world to home buyers, FL Builders, and FL Realtors. 

If you need an upfront review of your home buyer, please make sure to contact our office, email me directly at or call 800.333.3004 ext 3560 and ask for Stephen Thaggard

Stephen Thaggard, NMLS 356309,  Sr Loan Officer, licensed in Florida

Embrace Home Loans, NMLS 2184,,  485 N 5500 Murrell Road Suite 201, Viera, FL 32940

FL jumbo mortgage with less than 20% down payment

So you have owned a FL home  in the past 3 years; you’re not a first time home buyer.  In fact, you suddenly realize that it’s time  to move up and buy the home you have always dreamed about here in Florida.  Don’t let large down payment requirements keep you from your dream.  We have a special FL Jumbo mortgage that allows you to put as little as 10% towards down payment.  Consider this…

  • FL jumbo mortgage loan amount up to $750,000 with only 10% down payment requirement
  • No mortgage insurance is required
  • Seller can contribute up to 3% of the sales price towards your closing costs and prepaids (escrows)
  • Rate is fixed for a full 10 years
  • No prepayment penalty

Keep in mind that this is only one of several FL jumbo mortgage options available,  so make sure to explore all of your jumbo mortgage loan options.  If you or your buyer is seeking a FL jumbo mortgage loan, please make sure to call 800.333.3004 ext 3560, ask for Stephen Thaggard or email directly at

Stephen Thaggard, NMLS 356309,  Sr Loan Officer, licensed in Florida

Embrace Home Loans, NMLS 2184,,  485 N Keller Road, Suite 550, Maitland, FL 32751

FL Jumbo Mortgage Loan options for your FL dream home

It seems like yesterday when FL Jumbo mortgage loan options were reduced to “cash only” transactions.  That was roughly 5 years ago, and the Jumbo markets have dramatically improved.  In fact, there are several options available to help secure the best in interest rate options to suit your specific FL Jumbo mortgage needs.  

FL Jumbo mortgage loans come in many sizes here at Embrace Home Loans. We can provide several types of  Jumbo financing options to choose from, including Jumbo loan amounts starting at $417,001 all the way up to $5,000,000.  This can open the door to explore more homes and find the one you deserve. 

 Embrace Home Loans offers FL Jumbo loans for well qualified home buyers seeking to finance their first or second dream home here in Florida.  Our Jumbo programs include low 30 year fixed rates, and even lower adjustable rate mortgages or ARM’s, with interest rates that can be fixed for 5 years,7 years or 10 years.  Please ask about the details on Index, Margin and Caps with your FL mortgage professional to ensure you make an informed decision and weigh the advantages of each option available. 

Don’t let the restrictions of other banks and lenders keep you from purchasing the home of your dreams.  Purchase the dream home you desire.  Feel free to call me anytime to discuss your options at 800.333.3004 X3560 or email. 

Stephen Thaggard, NMLS 356309,  Sr Loan Officer, licensed in Florida,

Embrace Home Loans, NMLS 2184,  485 N Keller Road, Suite 550, Maitland, FL 32751


Brevard County first time home buyer assistance

Whether building your first home with one of many Brevard County builders, or finding an existing home of your dreams, have you saved enough to reach your goal of owning your first home?  Savings should include enough to cover any down payment requirements, closing costs and prepaids (property tax and homeowner’s insurance escrows).  That is, unless $10,000 would help you reach your goal of Brevard County home ownership sooner. 

Embrace Home Loans participates with The Brevard County Housing Finance Authority or Brevard HFA to help qualified Brevard County first time home buyers with financial mortgage loan assistance.  This assistance comes in the form of a 0% (no monthly payment) 2nd mortgage for up to $10,000!  This can help cover down payment, closing costs and/or prepaids for your first home purchase.

Another benefit for qualified first time home buyers is the Mortgage Credit Certificate.  This allows the buyer to save money each year they own the home. Qualified first time buyers can deduct 50% of their annual mortgage interest up to $2,000 as a tax credit while the other 50% remains a deduction.  This credit is available each year as long as the buyer owns their home and the 1st mortgage is outstanding. 

Brevard County first time buyers should consider the advantages available when seeking to build or purchase their dream home.  For more information on this and many other mortgage programs, please call 800.333.3004 ext 3560 and ask for Stephen or email directly at

Stephen Thaggard, NMLS 356309,  Sr Loan Officer, licensed in Florida,

Embrace Home Loans, NMLS 2184,  485 N Keller Road, Suite 550, Maitland, FL 32751

FL VA Jumbo loans save Veterans more money

If your buyer is shopping for a FL Jumbo mortgage, that is, a loan amount in excess of the current Fannie Mae maximum of $417,000; they will typically require one of our FL Jumbo mortgage programs.  But, don’t forget to ask them if they are a US Veteran.  We offer a FL Jumbo VA home loan mortgage that may provide better benefits.

FL Jumbo loans usually require a large down payment of 20% or 30%.  This can be expensive when a new home buyer is looking at properties in the $450,000 and higher range.  A FL VA Jumbo mortgage allows the qualified Veteran to borrow higher loan amounts than the prospective current County limit allows under VA guidelines; and should allow qualified Veterans the opportunity to put less towards down payment; possibly saving them thousands of dollars, and at a much lower fixed interest rate.

Basically, the qualified VA buyer would need only put down 25% of the difference in the County VA loan limit ($417,000 in FL Counties) and the contract price.  For example, a qualified Veteran looking to purchase a $500,000 home here in Florida, would need to put at least $100,000 towards the down payment alone (based on 20%), if considering a typical FL Jumbo mortgage.  However, the same qualified Veteran might want to use his or her VA Entitlement and put as little as $20,750 towards down payment.  The VA Jumbo loan option could  save the buyer over $79,000!

Also, VA Jumbo loan fixed rates are usually always lower than a standard Jumbo mortgage fixed rate.  In fact, that’s why many standard Jumbo programs are available with adjustable rates – which makes the payment seem reasonable, for a short period of time.  But why risk it when you can enjoy a lower fixed VA rate?

Remember, the qualified Veteran advantages with a FL VA Jumbo loan, on their new home purchase

  • Lower down payment – saving your buyer thousands
  • Lower fixed rate is typical for VA Jumbo loans
  • No prepayment penalty
  • No monthly mortgage insurance required

Next time your buyer is looking to purchase a FL home and borrow more than $417,000; ask them if they are a Veteran.  And then call us, your Florida VA home loan specialists at 407.733.6425; or email



Save more money on your first FL home mortgage

A popular request for FL first time home buyers is approval for an FHA home loan.  FHA offers a low down payment of 3.5%, is more flexible with credit and Sellers can contribute up to 6% towards the buyers closing costs and prepaids (property tax and homeowners insurance escrows). But with the soon to be increasing mortgage insurance premiums associated with FHA, first time home buyers may also want to consider the advantages with a conventional Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac home mortgage loan.

Starting April 1st, 2013 , FHA will increase the annual mortgage insurance premium, which is paid in monthly payments as part of the overall mortgage payment.  Currently, with a 3.5% down payment, the mortgage insurance is 1.25% of the base loan amount.  It will increase to 1.35% on April 1st, 2013.  Also remember, FHA still requires an upfront mortgage insurance premium which is typically rolled into the loan amount.  That would be another 1.75%! Is there a better option?  Maybe…

In contrast, with good credit scores, credit history and a little more towards down payment, 5%, a FL first time home buyer could enjoy a lower monthly payment with a conventional Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac mortgage. In fact, the mortgage insurance could be dramatically lower for qualified buyers and there is no upfront mortgage insurance required, which lowers the amount borrowed.

Remember the basic three considerations for most FL mortgage loan approvals; credit, employment and savings.  The stronger your credit history and scores; the more stability in your employment; and the more money you have saved towards your first home purchase – the better.  With these basics, you may have more mortgage options to choose from; may enjoy a lower interest rate; and increase your opportunity for your FL mortgage loan approval.

If you have questions on qualifying for your FL first mortgage loan; please feel free to email or call 800.333.3004 extension 3560.

Stephen Thaggard, NMLS 356309,  Sr Loan Officer, licensed in Florida,

Embrace Home Loans, NMLS 2184,  5500 Murrell Road Suite 201, Viera, FL 32940


FL first time home buyers trust an old Boy Scout

Over the weekend Ron, a previous client of ours living in Brevard County, contacted us after searching online.  They were looking to refinance their current Florida mortgage to not only lower their interest rate, but to lower their remaining mortgage term. Lowering the term, as I have coached over the years, can save homeowners thousands of dollars in long term interest.   After speaking with him, I asked why he called on me, he could have called anyone.  He said, he and his wife trust me with all of their mortgage related needs.  Trust.  Wow.

As a former Boy Scout, I recall the first of the twelve scout laws; A Scout is Trustworthy.  After over 17 years and going, many Florida residents continue to depend on my services with respect to their home mortgage needs.  Whether refinancing under today’s very popular HARP 2.0 mortgage, buying a 2nd home or investment property or referring a friend looking to buy their first home; I remain truly grateful for the volume of home owners and home buyers that keep coming back for sound mortgage solutions simply because of trust.

You may not know me, but if you are looking to get answers about qualifying for any Florida mortgage program or have questions on the HARP 2.0 refinance loan; please call or text me at 407.733.6425 or ask for my mortgage perspective online.  I will provide 17 years of trusted Florida mortgage experience.  Thanks

Stephen Thaggard, NMLS 356309,  Sr Loan Officer, licensed in Florida,

Embrace Home Loans, NMLS 2184,  5500 Murrell Road Suite 201, Viera, FL 32940

The housing market meltdown effect in today’s FL mortgage market

I enjoy speaking with home buyers and homeowners regarding qualifying for a particular FL mortgage loan program.  Every day someone is referred or has found us through a Google search; and needs answers to questions upfront, before applying for mortgage approval.  For example, questions regarding short sale, bankruptcy or foreclosure seasoning requirements are frequent.   Did you know that a home buyer may qualify to purchase a new home without waiting 3 years, after a short sale?  I’ll save that for another time.  For now, let’s consider today’s mortgage environment expectations for AAA credit home buyers or borrowers.

Most first time home buyers are so anxious to purchase their new dream home, they will jump through any hoop that an underwriter can heave.  First time buyers have nothing to compare when applying for a mortgage home loan, because it’s their first time at bat.  They have saved some money for down payment, may have even worked out kinks found on their credit report, and have income stability by holding down a good job, or jobs in the same line of work,  for at least 2 years.  Whatever supporting documents are needed to approve their mortgage loan, they’ll provide; usually with no questions asked.  But what about the AAA credit seasoned home buyer?

These buyers or home owners (when refinancing) have obtained a FL mortgage loan or 2 in the past and learn quickly that today’s mortgage market and approval processes are much different.  They may need to provide additional supporting documents that were never asked for on previous home purchase or mortgage refinances.  Over documentation with some lenders seems to take the worry away or reduces the risk in the eyes of the originating lender.  These very well qualified, sometimes over-qualified buyers must jump through the same underwriting hoops as a less qualified home buyer.  This can be uncomfortable especially when many of these AAA home buyers could simply pay cash for their new home and not borrow at all.  Why all this fuss?

The truth is simple.  Lenders and banks are cautious with every mortgage loan – because if that home buyer or home owner ever defaults, the originating lender could be held accountable for any I not dotted or T not crossed.  All of a sudden, credit, income and assets; may no longer lead to a clear path for streamlined underwriting.   I mention to all of my previous AAA clients, to please sit back and relax as we will be asking for more supporting documentation than our last refinance or home purchase mortgage.  As always we FL mortgage professionals will do our best to make the entire home buying or refinancing process as smooth as possible.  Thanks

Stephen Thaggard, NMLS 356309,  Sr Loan Officer, licensed in Florida,

Embrace Home Loans, NMLS 2184,  5500 Murrell Road Suite 201, Viera, FL 32940