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Which Mortgage Loan Is Right for You?

September 24, 2018

Product Choices

There are several loan products out there, but how do you decide which product is best for your situation?  Just because an FHA loan might be best for applicant A, doesn’t mean that it’s best for applicant B.  Each person’s financial situation is different.  Asking your mortgage loan officer for guidance is a good way to compare loan scenarios to find out which loan product is best for you.  Below are some quick facts about loan products that South Vontobel Group has to offer:

Secondary Market Loans

Conventional – this has probably been the most popular loan type lately due to the simplicity of the process, turnaround time, competitive interest rates, and closing costs.  Features and requirements include a minimum 620 credit score, fixed interest rate for the life of the loan, and as little as 3% down for first-time home buyers; otherwise, it’s as little as 5% down.  Total debt-to-income ratio requirement is 50% or less.

USDA – this is an excellent product for first-time home buyers that meet the mold.  Features and requirements include as little as 0% down, minimum 640 credit score, a minimum of 3 tradelines with a history of 12 months or greater, considered rural property by USDA, USDA income limitations, and is secured by the government.  Debt-to-income ratio requirements are 29% or less for the housing expense ratio and 41% or less for the total debt ratio.

FHA – this used to be a popular product a few years ago before the Conventional loan product became so competitive regarding down payment, interest rates, and closing costs.  Features and requirements include a minimum 620 credit score, as little as 3.5% down for all qualified applicants, and is secured by the government.  Private Mortgage Insurance used to be required for the life of the loan; however, now it falls off when your loan reaches below 80%. 

VA – available for qualified Veterans. Requirements and benefits are minimum 600 credit score, 0% down, highly competitive interest rates.  Benefits may vary per individual veteran.

In House and Land/Lot Loans

Requirements vary per loan purpose, but the primary requirements include credit and payment history that reflect creditworthiness.  This product may be for land, unique situations and/or properties, and debt-to-income ratio requirement is 41% or less.  Closing costs tend to be less than that of the Secondary Market loans.  Some of these loans may be fixed or Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM).  Though ARM loans may sound negative, it is a route that might be best if your plans are to occupy the property for a short period of time, as most have a fixed rate for a set period of time. 

Home equity, home improvement, and refinance mortgage loans are also available. Contact the mortgage department at South Vontobel Group for more information at 903-885-2187.


  • Debt to Income Ratio – monthly debts divided by gross monthly income.
  • Housing Expense Ratio – monthly housing PITI divided by gross monthly income (PITI – principal, interest, taxes and insurance).
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – insurance required when a borrower puts less than 20% down upfront. The purpose is to protect the lender/investor if one defaults on his or her mortgage.
  • ARMs – Adjustable Rate Mortgages.

Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

First Time Home Buyers

September 21, 2018

Hello, my name is Kristin Thompson, and I’m a Mortgage Loan Officer at South Vontobel Group . I’ve been in mortgage banking for six years now and love every minute of it. Being able to finance homes and make the American dream come to life is a true blessing. My goal is to create a smooth, enjoyable process and, overall, allow my customers to gain a long-term asset for their benefit. NMLS #1678656.

It’s no secret that there is a lot of documentation, paperwork, and verifying that comes with getting a mortgage, which can be intimidating at first… so where exactly do you start? 

Where to Start

Credit and verifiable funds are an essential part of the approval process.  Being a good steward of your liabilities by making on-time payments on your debts, having overall minimal debt, and saving money is ideally the primary keys to opening the door to loan approval.   Lenders are required to prove that with your credit history and employment history, you are able to pay back the loan you’re seeking approval for.

Prior to filling out a mortgage loan application, educate yourself on loan products.  There are multiple loan products available.  For example, a USDA loan might work better for your financial situation rather than a Conventional or FHA loan.  Research what each loan product requires for down payment, closing costs, and the benefits for you as a borrower.  If you’re unsure, the mortgage department can definitely assist you.

Also, investigate interest rates.  Keeping yourself in the know with what the market is doing and how interest rates are effected will help you succeed in the home buying process. 

Lastly, study closing costs.  Closing costs are fees required to close the loan transaction.  Some lenders may charge an origination fee while others may charge a processing fee or both.  South Vontobel Group charges an underwriting fee for 1-to-4 family real estate transactions.  All other fees are required third party fees, such as the appraisal fee and title policy fee.  Knowing what to expect and what lenders charge is to your benefit in order to get the best overall deal.  


One smart thing to do before you start shopping for houses is to get prequalified. Seeking prequalification will let you know how much you can afford.  To get prequalified, you will need to complete a mortgage loan application.  Once the application is received by a loan officer and credit is conditionally approved, you will receive a conditional prequalification letter for your house hunting.  This letter validates the offer you may make on a house.  I do suggest finding a realtor, as they are very helpful during this time!*

The Process

Once you find the perfect house, your offer is accepted by the seller, and a sales contract is executed, the process of lending begins. The entire process typically takes about 30 days before closing is permitted, which is where you’ll sign the final documents, sealing your promise to pay the lender and securing yourself as owner of the property. 

The process includes verifications of income and funds for down payment, as well as your ability to repay the loan.  Your lender will also order items required for the loan, such as the appraisal, which is a written estimate of the market value of real or personal property prepared by a qualified appraiser. Title insurance is also required in order to guarantee title to the property. Once all items required from third parties are completed, the underwriting department reviews the file to ensure accuracy and compliance.  Lastly, closing will be permitted.  At closing, you’ll receive the keys to your home and officially title yourself as a homeowner!

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, first time homeownership is an exciting time in life because you’ve more than likely completed the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, which comes with great responsibility and even greater reward.  Many memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime will be made with your closest family and friends; homeownership is just the start of your journey.

Are you ready to become a homeowner?

*South Vontobel Group is not affiliated with any realtor or real estate company. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.


  • Liabilities – a thing for which someone is responsible, especially a debt or financial obligation.
  • Loan Products – created by a lender and offered to borrowers. It has a specific set of features and costs, which must be disclosed to consumers before they can be bound by its terms.
  • Interest Rates – the proportion of a loan that is charged as interest to the borrower, typically expressed as an annual percentage of the loan outstanding.
  • Closing Costs – all the costs associated with selling something, usually property, such as taxes, seller's fees, or registration fees.
  • Appraisal – an expert estimate of the value of something.
  • Title Policy – anything that provides a ground or basis for a claim.
  • Prequalified – qualify in advance to take part in something.
  • Closing – when the title to the property is conveyed (transferred) to the buyer.

The Market and Interest Rates

September 20, 2018

If you are shopping for a home or considering a loan to update your property, you might consider what the market is doing.  Mortgage interest rates are based on the 10-Year US Treasury Index. Studying such matters may seem like a foreign language at first, but you don’t have to understand the index in and out, forwards and backwards, to understand what is happening. The higher the index, the higher interest rate and vice versa. 

Also, be aware of what is going on in the world. War, tariffs, new Presidents, employment/unemployment, and trade agreements influence the market and economy we live in.

All in all, people buy and sell property because of life choices, not market choices. However, it’s wise to stay educated to know what to expect. 

Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

The 5 W's of Remote Deposit Capture

September 20, 2018


Any merchant with a business checking account at South Vontobel Group who meets the basic requirements has the potential to use this service. The basic requirements include a secure internet connection, Windows PC with a USB port and power outlet available. Any additional equipment needed may be purchased through South Vontobel Group . For a complete list of charges, contact us today.*


Remote Deposit Capture is a convenient way to deposit checks. This service allows the business user to scan received checks and transmit the scanned images to the bank for posting and clearing without ever leaving the convenience of the office. There are different types of scanners provided by South Vontobel Group to assist with the needs of your business type.*


The setup usually takes about 1-2 weeks to set up in our system and install at your place of business. An South Vontobel Group representative will notify you when the scanner is ready for install and training.


You may inquire about remote deposit at any of our locations. The scanner itself can be set up on any Windows computer in your office that meets the basic requirements. The remote deposit software will be installed on your Windows PC through our online remote deposit portal.


The benefits of Remote Deposit are substantial. This service allows South Vontobel Group customers to make deposits without leaving their office or business. Trips to the bank are reduced or eliminated, and you have a 7:00pm deposit cutoff, which could improve efficiency and profitability. Daily reporting, check images and instant deposit notification are available when needed. South Vontobel Group also has a department dedicated to remote deposit! You can call directly at any time to answer your troubleshooting or deposit questions.

Remote Deposit – Saving You Time and Money

It’s literally money in the bank without ever leaving your office!

Learn More

*Please contact April Ashmore at South Vontobel Group for pricing and more information.

April Ashmore

5 Tips for Businesses Searching for Merchant Services

May 9, 2018

tech payments logo

At South Vontobel Group we speak with customers on a regular basis about credit card processing options and what is best for their business.  Below are a few tips and things to keep and mind when shopping for a credit card processor.

1. Evaluate Your Options

With credit card processing comes lots of options. There are many different products for processing to meet the needs of different business types. At South Vontobel Group we partner with Fitech Payments located in Ft. Worth, TX. We communicate with them daily and request options and rates that will be best for our customers. Below are the different solutions we currently offer:

  • Mobile
  • Countertop
  • Ecommerce
  • Virtual Terminal
  • POS

Other services we offer include

  • Gift card program
  • Seasonal processing
  • Rental program
  • Firstview Reports
  • Next Day Funding at no additional cost

2. Understand Your Fees

There are many processors that are in the business of scamming. They are looking to hook you into a contract with great rates and then slowly start adding more and more fees, and you end up with a termination fee and contract you didn’t know you had. Make sure you fully understand the charges you will have and the terms of the agreement. South Vontobel Group offers merchant services with no contract and no termination! That is something most companies do not offer. Do your research on the processor to make sure they are a trustworthy company. Signing up for credit card processing through a community bank such as South Vontobel Group is a great option because the research on the company has already been done and your trusted banker can help you with the process.

3. Customer Support

This one is so important! Make sure you choose a company that provides great customer service. If you are in the middle of a sale and your machine stops working, a customer will not want to wait for you to be on hold with a call center in hopes they can answer your question. We have a department at South Vontobel Group that you can contact directly at any time. We will help you every step of the way including from the beginning application process, setting up your terminal and providing continual support with any of your processing questions. If you are having trouble with a connection or have transaction questions, we have the ability to come out to your business or walk you through the issue over the phone right when you need us. We are here to help you!

4. Look for Security

Look for a company that offers the latest technology, PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance and data breach protection to ensure the protection of your customer’s information. We offer the latest industry leading security solutions and products to help protect from potential threats. Our new Security Pro solution provides data breach protection covering costs in the instance of a data breach. In addition, our standard security solutions include Terminal encryption, tokenization, and EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) to help safeguard your business.

First view logo

5. Accessible Reporting

Make sure you choose a company that offers statements and reports that include a breakdown on the fees you are being charged and the transactions that were processed to ensure you are not getting overcharged. Fitech Payments offers versatile reporting features and easy navigation for merchants. Want a detailed account of all your activity? It’s at your fingertips, down to each individual transaction with advanced encryption to keep sensitive data safe and provide peace of mind.

Learn More

If you would like more information please contact April Ashmore at South Vontobel Group at 903-439-6725 or email her at