Al Ames

NMLS# 1343206

Senior Loan Officer

Al Ames
Senior Loan Officer

NMLS# 1343206
State Lic: TX # 1343206; NV # 53609; WA # MLO-1343206; AZ # 0930703; CA # CA-DBO1343206;
15333 North Pima Road
Suite 205
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Direct: (480) 265-8836
Fax: (480) 900-5529
Mobile: (602) 432-5462
al.ames@academymortgage.com

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Welcome!

It’s all about service at Academy Mortgage, and our company has been meeting the needs of homebuyers across the United States since 1988. I joined Academy because of its strong reputation for integrity—based mortgage lending, its unwavering commitment to responsible lending practices, and for its broad portfolio of mortgage solutions and tools.

Since 1985, I have helped many individuals and families attain the dream of homeownership. Whether you want to buy a new home or refinance an existing mortgage, I will provide a customized solution for you at competitive rates. No brokering, no middleman, no hassle, no surprises. In addition to homeowners, I have also helped hundreds of business and commercial property owners finance or refinance their properties.

Academy is a direct lender, which means that my Branch and Regional Offices are equipped to complete the entire loan process in—house—all loan processing, underwriting, closings, and funding are handled locally. As a result, we have a proven track record of closing loans as quickly and efficiently as possible

I will be in control of your loan file from start to finish, and I will be up—to—date on the status of your loan at all times. I understand the importance of maintaining continuous communication throughout the loan process and commit to providing you accurate, timely, and honest mortgage advice.

I invite you to put us to the test. Let me show you how simple and easy securing a mortgage can be.

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We are proud to be one of the top independent purchase lenders in the country. We achieved this distinction by continually providing exceptional customer service and by following responsible lending practices, especially in today’s rapidly changing economy.Adam Kessler, CEO, Academy Mortgage

NMLS# 1343206

State Lic: TX: 1343206; NV: 53609; WA: MLO-1343206; AZ: 0930703; CA: CA-DBO1343206;

Corp Lic: TX: 3113; NV: 2731 and 1147; WA: CL-3113; AZ: BK-0904081; CA: 4170013;

Figure: 7 TAC §81.200(c) CONSUMERS WISHING TO FILE A COMPLAINT AGAINST A MORTGAGE BANKER OR A LICENSED MORTGAGE BANKER RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE LOAN ORIGINATOR SHOULD COMPLETE AND SEND A COMPLAINT FORM TO THE TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF SAVINGS AND MORTGAGE LENDING, 2601 NORTH LAMAR, SUITE 201, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78705. COMPLAINT FORMS AND INSTRUCTIONS MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DEPARTMENT'S WEBSITE AT WWW.SML.TEXAS.GOV. A TOLL-FREE CONSUMER HOTLINE IS AVAILABLE AT 1-877-276-5550. THE DEPARTMENT MAINTAINS A RECOVERY FUND TO MAKE PAYMENTS OF CERTAIN ACTUAL OUT OF POCKET DAMAGES SUSTAINED BY BORROWERS CAUSED BY ACTS OF LICENSED MORTGAGE BANKER RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE LOAN ORIGINATORS. A WRITTEN APPLICATION FOR REIMBURSEMENT FROM THE RECOVERY FUND MUST BE FILED WITH AND INVESTIGATED BY THE DEPARTMENT PRIOR TO THE PAYMENT OF A CLAIM. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE RECOVERY FUND, PLEASE CONSULT THE DEPARTMENT'S WEBSITE AT WWW.SML.TEXAS.GOV.; Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight Under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act;

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How to beat the competition this homebuying season

The housing market is a competitive one, requiring prospective buyers to be on top of their finances and paperwork. Indecision or a failure to present certain documentation can mean the difference between getting the house of their dreams or having to continue their search elsewhere. Here are five ways people can beat the competition this season:

1. Get pre-approved

Unless you're a member of the small population of Americans who own their homes outright, you'll need a conventional mortgage. Once you find the home you want, things will move fairly fast. To lean into this process and improve your chances of closing on your desired property, potential homeowners should get pre-approved for a loan, Time magazine recommended. This, along with other necessary paperwork, will demonstrate that you are able to repay the money you're borrowing and will make sellers feel more comfortable choosing your bid.

2. Be present

It's common for prospective homebuyers to send in their offers via email or over the phone. While these are sometimes the only routes possible for certain people, presenting your bid in person could be beneficial to your success, according to Inman. The ability to see the buyer in the flesh and learn a little more about him or her could convince seller or agents that you're the right fit.

3. Introduce an escalation clause

Nervous other prospective buyers will outbid you? Others could be just as hungry for the same property, but you may not be able to meet their price - or they may not be able to match yours. An escalation clause enables you to play this cat-and-mouse game while also ensuring you don't push past your final limit. This effort will increase your bid incrementally above others on the table to a certain, pre-established ceiling. Just don't forget to set your budget and stick to it, Realtor.com warned.

An escalation clause will raise your bid incrementally.An escalation clause will raise your bid incrementally.

4. Find the right team

No matter whether you're a first-time homebuyer or have completed the process in the past, you're going to need all the help you can get. It's important to complete your own research and determine which housing factors are must-haves, but working with savvy professionals in the housing market can help answer all of your most particular questions along the way. An agent or a mortgage broker can make the bidding and homebuying process that much easier and can work their magic with the seller's team as well, according to Business Insider.

5. Don't let pending contracts scare you

It happens more often than you would think. A prospective buyer's bid on a home is accepted and a contract is being drawn up, only to have the person back out before he or she signs on the dotted line. If your dream home is already in the near-final stages for someone else, don't let that deter you. Place a backup offer anyway, according to U.S. News and World Report. It could work out in your favor and place you in the top spot if the initial bidder makes a different choice. 

Academy Mortgage is one of the top independent purchase lenders in the country as ranked in the 2015 CoreLogic Marketrac Report. Visit www.academymortgage.com to find a loan, get a rate, or calculate your payment today.

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Is an FHA loan or a conventional loan with PMI a better option?

Among the many decisions you'll have to make on your journey to homeownership will be the choice of how much to pay upfront, also known as the down payment.

The traditional amount to put toward your down payment is 20% of the home's value. But, as many prospective homebuyers know, this isn't always feasible. Many lenders will accept lower down payments, while requiring the buyer to also purchase Private Mortgage Insurance.

Another way to put less than 20% down is to look into other loan products, like an FHA loan. These are government-sponsored products that allow down payments of as low as 3.5%.

For the buyer who wants to put less than 20% of the price of the home down, both PMI and an FHA loan are good options. But for some, one might be more beneficial than the other. Before making this decision, it's important to know which is the more financially responsible choice.

History of FHA loans and PMI

The Federal Housing Administration was first created in 1934. At that time, the housing industry was struggling immensely, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The FHA helped many Americans become homeowners, and largely improved the market as a whole. 

Years later, in the late 2000s, another housing downturn came in the form of the Great Recession.

"Between 2007 and 2009, FHA loan originations increased 355%."

During this time, many homebuyers didn't qualify for PMI, so people who wanted to buy a home with less than a 20% down payment needed to find another option. This caused FHA loan popularity to soar. Between 2007 and 2009, FHA loan originations increased 355%, according to WalletHub. In 2009, a record 1.8 million FHA loans were issued, compared to the 402,000 just two years prior.

Meanwhile, conventional loans with PMI plummeted. In 2007, 1.5 million conventional loans with PMI were originated. By 2010, that number dropped to 260,000.

In the years that followed, FHA loans began to increase in price. Additionally, as the housing market continued to recover, PMI became affordable again. This gave rise to conventional loans with PMI once more.

In 2015, FHA loans were still more popular than those with PMI attached. However, FHA loans are trending downward overall, while PMI is gradually growing more popular. And while they both have their merits, it's important for homeowners to understand why one might be a better option than the other.

When does PMI make sense?

If you can pay 22% of the home's value quickly or plan on staying in the home for a long time.

WalletHub pointed out that the economic value of an FHA loan depends on several factors, including how long you plan to live in the home and what your credit score is. FHA options include mortgage insurance, but it's wrapped up in the price of the loan as a whole. PMI, on the other hand, is a completely separate product from the loan itself. PMI can be taken off after a few years, once the loan amount reaches 78% of the home's value. In the case of an FHA loan, however, the mortgage insurance will be included for the entire life of the loan.

If you have good credit.

There is no set amount that a lender can charge for PMI, but it's usually between 0.5% and 1% of the cost of the loan per year. One factor that contributes to how much it will cost is your credit score.

"The cost of PMI dropped 47% for people who had a credit score of 760 or more."

Generally speaking, the higher your score, the lower your PMI will be. WalletHub noted that between 2014 and 2016, the cost of PMI dropped 47% for people who had a credit score of 760 or more. But for people who had a credit score of 660 or lower, the cost increased 28%. For people with a good credit score, choosing PMI over an FHA loan could save them as much as $8,000.

When does an FHA loan make sense?

If you plan on refinancing soon.

PMI makes sense if you plan on staying in the home long enough to pay down 22% of the home's value, at which point you can get rid of the insurance and just pay off the loan. Likewise, if you don't plan on staying in the home for long, an FHA loan might be the way to go, since it's generally a bit less expensive right off the bat.

Additionally, Zillow pointed out that FHA loans are typically easier and cheaper to refinance than conventional mortgages through a process called "streamline refinance."

They also are assumable loans, which means they can be transferred to another party. This means that when it's time to sell a home, the buyer can take on the responsibility of the loan at the same time that he or she purchases the house. Since FHA loans typically have lower interest rates, this might end up be a good selling point.

If you have low credit.

If your credit score is 660 or lower, opting for an FHA loan instead of a conventional loan with PMI can save you as much as $11,000.

If you recently experienced a credit problem.

FHA loans also have looser restrictions for time elapsed between certain problems you might have encountered, like a bankruptcy or foreclosure. If you are pursuing a conventional loan, you'd have to wait four years after a bankruptcy or seven years after a foreclosure to qualify. But if you're looking for an FHA loan, you can qualify just two or three years, respectively, after the event.

Academy Mortgage is one of the top independent purchase lenders in the country as ranked in the 2015 CoreLogic Marketrac Report. Visit www.academymortgage.com to find a loan, get a rate, or calculate your payment today.

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Down payment assistance programs can help alleviate savings stress

Buying a house for the first time can be a confusing and complicated experience. Most first-time buyers find there is a lot more to the purchase than they expected. One of the biggest obstacles consumers face is the price.

The median U.S. home price in 2015 was $296,000, a figure that has progressively inched higher since 2009, when the median was $216,700, according to data from the Census Bureau. Most industry experts will advise homebuyers, if they can afford it, to make a 20% down payment. Doing so will likely help them secure a low interest rate on a residential mortgage while also avoiding the cost of private mortgage insurance.

The daunting down payment

Still, coming up with 20% of nearly $300,000 is a lot to ask - it rounds out to nearly $60,000. Most homebuyers source their down payments from their personal savings, according to the National Association of Realtors' Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. But a 2015 GOBankingRates survey found that just 14% of people have more than $10,000 in their savings accounts. As such, it doesn't come as a surprise that the typical down payment is well below the 20% mark:

Fortunately, there are plenty of options for those homebuyers who are lacking in the savings department. More than 24,000 homebuyer programs are available to consumers, with down payment assistance programs being among the most popular, according to Down Payment Resource.

DPAs can be helpful resources to prospective homebuyers who don't have enough money in savings for a substantial down payment. But they also help communities, noted Leslie Darling, the executive director of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, which debuted a new DPA in May, 2016.

"More than 24,000 homebuyer programs are available to consumers."

"We know where there is more home ownership in a community it makes for a greater community and a safer community," she explained to a group of real estate agents, according to DNAinfo.

How to research DPAs

1. Find programs in your area

DPAs are often offered through state, county and city governments, wrote Danny Gardner, Freddie Mac's vice president of Single-Family Affordable Lending and Access to Credit. Your mortgage lender may have one available to you, or know about programs in your community.

2. Research eligibility requirements

Eligibility requirements vary between programs, and might include:

If you qualify, you could receive a couple thousand dollars or more toward your down payment or closing costs.

Gardner noted that some programs require borrowers to attend homebuyer education counseling.

Since DPAs are usually available through a government source, funds are often limited. Most programs are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

While DPAs are commonly regarded as programs for first-time homebuyers, don't worry if you've already owned a home. DPR explained that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development considers anyone who hasn't owned a home for three or more years a first-timer. Plus, there are plenty of programs that don't have a first-time buyer requirement.

3. Ask about payment plans

Repayment requirements also vary. Some programs want all money repaid, while others don't ask for any payments, according to The Mortgage Reports.

At a time when home prices are continuing their rise, an inventory shortage is inspiring bidding wars in many areas, and monetary policy changes are pushing mortgage rates higher, DPAs could become a key aspect of the homebuying process. Making sure you know all options available to you is crucial in making an informed purchasing decision.

Academy Mortgage is one of the top independent purchase lenders in the country as ranked in the 2015 CoreLogic Marketrac Report. Visit www.academymortgage.com to find a loan, get a rate, or calculate your payment today.

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