Whether you’re purchasing your very first home or you’re looking for one to retire in, Omaha has a wonderful assortment of homes to choose from all throughout our neighborhoods. Similar to our city’s great variety of homes is the awesome number of local experts that are well-versed in the home buying process. If you want to make sure that the home buying experience is just as great as your future new home itself, we recommend working with the following businesses and professionals!

Always Adapting to Market Changes

At Centris Federal Credit Union (centrisfcu.org), you can find all types of mortgage financing, including Conventional, Jumbo, FHA, and VA, in addition to several niche programs designed by Centris. These include zero down payment purchase, a first-time homebuyer purchase with as little as $500 financial contribution, and a 100% medical professionals program with eased underwriting requirements for student loans.

Heidi Weeks
Centris Federal Credit Union

“The home purchasing market has been steady – although at a lesser rate than in years past. Our market, like many others, has been hampered by a lack of inventory and now rising interest rates. These two factors together will slow the pace of the purchase market even further,” said Vice President, Real Estate Lending Heidi Weeks.

“However, we pride ourselves at Centris on being adaptable to the market changes while continuing to help borrowers achieve their mortgage-related goals. We create special programs and promotions to aid those who have been searching for that perfect home, but now feel shut out of the market. This, along with our credit union
philosophies, can make us stand out from the larger box financials.”

Heidi advised that when looking to buy a home, it is especially imperative in this market to be prepared to make an offer quickly and confidently. There can be many options in lending to choose from. By talking to your lender early in the process about your goals and going with them through the full pre-approval process, the buyer and seller can be confident that the offer on the table is strong and ready to commit.

“We have a limited time Mortgage Rate promotion that is going on now until August 31,” Heidi shared. “Details on this can be found at centrisfcu.org/2022-399-mortgage-rate. We also invite readers to contact any of our mortgage loan specialists to start having the important conversations about planning, preparing, and purchasing their first, next, or forever home!”

Finding the Right Policy

Michelle Leiting
Midland Insurance Agency

Take the hassle out of shopping for insurance and have an independent agent – like Michelle Leiting with Midland Insurance Agency (midlandinsagency.com) – find the best rate out there for you. Midland Insurance is an independent agency that has access to several appointed and non-appointed markets. Some of the options they offer are Nationwide, Travelers, and Farmers Mutual, just to name a few. Michelle is able to write most of your personal risks, as well as commercial risks, making them a one-stop shop for all your insurance needs.

“Each homeowners policy needs to be specific to the client,” said Michelle. “For example, does the client have a small business within the home? Does the client have enough water backup coverage for the square footage of their home? It should never be a cookie-cutter policy. Your agent needs to ask the right questions to determine what the best coverage is for their client.”

Home buyers should also be asking certain questions when shopping for the right policy. Michelle offered her suggestions: Is this enough coverage to rebuild my house in case of a total loss? Do I have water backup coverage? Do I have a flat deductible? What is the company’s reputation with claims?

“In simple terms, the reason you need to have homeowners insurance is ‘to put your home back as it was prior to the claim’,” said Michelle. “Insurance can be cumbersome and just frustrating for most customers to understand. This is why you need an agent that works for you and has your best interest. Myself, I first point out to my clients how they would be covered in case of a partial or total loss. The next question usually is ‘What do I pay out for that loss?’. At this time I find out how much risk my client is willing to take on, which determines their deductible amount. Customers don’t wish to have to pay for insurance, but in case of a claim, they do want the claim to be covered. A good conversation with the client will reassure them that they have the best coverage to fit their needs.”

Lending – With a Personal Touch

Brad Joseph
Pinnacle Bank

Pinnacle Bank (pinnbank.com) offers many different types of mortgage loans that cover almost every borrower, including first-time homebuyers. These loans include Conventional/Conforming, VA, FHA, USDA RD, and NIFA. The two programs that they offer for first-time homebuyers are NIFA and the FHLB grant program. Brad Joseph, assistant vice president/ mortgage lender, shared with us a few things that people looking to buy a home right now should keep in mind.

“I think a few of the most important things to keep in mind when preparing to buy a home are credit score, funds for closing (down payment, reserves), and the home price range you are comfortable with,” Brad began. “To avoid mortgage insurance on a conventional loan, you must put at least 20% down. There is also an option to pay a onetime upfront mortgage insurance premium to avoid the monthly mortgage insurance if you put less than 20% down. Regarding credit, late payments and revolving credit balances are the two biggest factors of your score. Setting up auto payments is the easiest way to avoid late payments and keeping your revolving credit balances at 30% or below will help your score immensely. The higher your score is, the better rate you get and the lower your payment is. A high score is something to be very proud of and something to strive for. Finally, you do not want to buy too big a home where you are not comfortable with the payment. It is all about balance and your comfort level.”

Brad explained more interest rate increases throughout the year are being predicted, though things should eventually ease and rates will head back down to create a great opportunity for buyers. Plus, as  Brad pointed out, this will give those that needed to get into a home at a time when rates were high the opportunity to refinance at a much lower rate to lower their payment and interest paid overtime.

“I think what makes Pinnacle Bank unique is the personal touch you receive from our mortgage lenders,” said Brad. “We are always here for you and, a lot of times, take calls and answer emails well after or before work hours and even on the weekends when a lot of clients are looking at homes and needing a quick pre-approval letter. That is our job and we are very pleased to accommodate whatever is necessary. We also give you our best rate. We have a reputation for having the best rates around and we are very proud of that!”

House Shopping Made Fun

Whether you’re buying your first home, your dream home, or your tenth investment property, Professional Realty Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (PRG, www.prg-ne.com) understands how important and big of an investment buying a home is. That’s why they have an army of experts ready to make sure they find the best property for your unique circumstances.

Ben Bleicher

“When buying a home, start by making a wish list and setting a budget,” said Ben Bleicher, team lead and realtor. “We can help you choose a lender to get you pre-approved for a loan, and then you’re ready to start house hunting. Search for your dream home on our website: www.prg-ne.com. You can even compare walk scores, school ratings, and neighborhood demographics for different listings.”

When you save a search on PRG’s website, any new homes matching your wish list criteria will be delivered straight to your inbox the moment they go up for sale. When you find a home you love, your agent will help you submit an offer. PRG’s agents are skilled negotiators that know how to get you the best price and value possible. Once an offer has been accepted, they’ll help you navigate through inspections, appraisals, and closing in a stress-free way. They do all of this at no cost to you, the buyer, as they are compensated by the sellers.

Keep the Home Buying Process Local

Steve Kucirek
West Gate Bank

Local community bank West Gate Bank (westgate.bank) places the interest of their customers and clients first and foremost. As a result, they process, review, underwrite, and service all mortgage home loans locally in Lincoln. With their mortgage team positioned in both Omaha and Lincoln, West Gate Bank is better able to provide top-quality and immediate service to their clients, realtor partners, and business affiliates during every transaction. They offer a variety of home products for interested home buyers, including Conventional, FHA, VA, USDA RD, and NIFA financing. Mortgage Loan Officer Steve Kucirek offered us some advice to share with our readers who are looking to buy a home.

“To access all of our first-time homebuyer programs, I would recommend that clients have a credit score of at least 640. This will provide the greatest opportunity and access to just about our entire portfolio of mortgage products,” Steve suggested. “Also, not all homebuyers are required to provide a 20% down payment. In fact, we have several programs that allow a down payment as low as 3%, or 0% down for veteran VA home loans.

“As a veteran myself, I specialize in VA home loans and have assisted several dozen military members in purchasing a home (often site-unseen) during a PCS move,” Steve continued. “In fact, I have assisted clients moving to Omaha while they were stationed in Korea, England, Guam, Germany, France, and Australia! As a three-time Platinum-level lender with the Nebraska Mortgage Association, I have proven that virtually no challenge is too big to take on. I always value the privilege to serve military veterans and their families in purchasing their new home.”

While the home buying frenzy has certainly slowed compared to several months ago, this has provided some additional opportunities for homebuyers to become a bit more selective of the home they purchase. This is something West Gate Bank is honored to help their clients do.

“As members of the community, we value the customer experience we provide and are truly privileged to earn the trust of our clients while we work with them while buying their new homes.”

Custom Storage Solutions

You did it, you found the perfect home – except the storage situation is not what you had hoped it would be. Don’t let this scare you away! ShelfGenie (shelfgenie.com/locations/omaha) can help you fix your storage problems by providing custom glide-out shelves for new or existing cabinets. These solutions turn everyday frustrations into joy by giving you up to 50% more storage and better accessibility to the items in your cabinets. Whether you need storage solutions in the kitchen, pantry, bathroom, closet, or a creative space, ShelfGenie’s team of professionals can create a custom answer for you. To start the process, a designer from ShelfGenie will visit your home – in-person or virtually – to generate a 3D rendering of your custom solution in real time at no cost or obligation. Once you’ve decided on the solutions you want to implement into your home, a ShelfGenie-certified installer will schedule a field measurement, and a manufacturing team will begin hand-crafting your shelves out of the high-quality, durable materials and finishes you select. Finally, a ShelfGenie installer will return to your home to install your storage solutions, and you’ll be ready to enjoy them by the end of the day.

Ready to make the first move on purchasing your future home? You’ve got this! We encourage you to work with these local experts for a smooth and enjoyable experience.