Brandon's Mortgage and Real Estate News

Homes for Heroes Corp. has recognized local affiliate, Brandon Snider of Willow Bend Mortgage, as their top lender affiliate in Alabama for 2014. His determination and passion for helping heroes has made the dream of home ownership more attainable for community heroes. In 2014 alone, Homes for Heroes affiliates across the country gave back well over $4.5 MILLION to our nation’s heroes including: military personnel, police officers, fire fighters, teachers and health care workers.

“Brandon exemplifies what it truly means to be a member of Homes for Heroes. Being a Homes for Heroes affiliate requires more than just helping heroes with Real Estate needs, it means getting involved in your local community and helping heroes with whatever they need,” says Ruth Johnson, Homes for Heroes CEO. “We’re proud to have him as part of our growing team of nearly 1600 Real Estate Agents and Lenders that are saying Thank you to heroes all over the country.”

Willow Bend Mortgage is proud of the recognition Brandon has been extended and the hard work he contributes to the local community. "Brandon’s work is a great example of how dedicated Willow Bend Mortgage is to the local community and the company’s commitment to making home ownership a reality for so many hardworking Americans, inside and outside of the workplace," shared Craig Shrank, Executive Vice President.

“This was such a surprise! I’m honored to receive this recognition from the Homes for Heroes organization,” shared Brandon Snider. “I am very proud to be affiliated with program that gives back to those who serve our local community. I have been an affiliate with Homes for Heroes since August of 2013 and was excited to have a way to help those who help us each and every day. I look to continue to raise awareness about the Homes for Heroes program in 2015 and beyond,” Brandon said.

Brandon’s decision to align himself with a great organization like Homes for Heroes was an easy one. “My father and grandfather both served in the military and I have always had a heart for those who serve not only our country, but our local community as well. This program is a perfect way to give back to our local veterans, active military, fire fighters, police officers, EMTs, nurses and teachers. I look forward to working with countless clients in the future as a way of giving back to the local heroes who give their lives every day to serve their local community and our country.”

Brandon has helped numerous heroes over the past year not only in his own local community, but all over the state of Alabama. We talked with a few of his past clients to get their own Homes for Heroes story. 

Cummings FamilyThe Cummings from Sylacauga, Alabama were the perfect couple for the Homes for Heroes program. Renee Cummings has worked as a police officer for 12 years, and her husband Christopher, also works as an EMT. They shared a little about their experience working with Brandon.

“I needed to find me a home fairly quick so my husband applied online with an internet company. Needless to say, that did not go very well,” Renee says. “Brandon was a blessing because the time of day did not matter if I had a question or concern. He quickly walked me through the process and was able to get me in my first home with no hassle or major down payment. I have been so excited and thrilled to be in my first home. Brandon and his team truly put the “homes” in Homes for Heroes. I never thought that on my income that I could have my own home.”

Jason Saunders from Hartselle, Alabama served our country in the Air Force and now serves in the Air National Guard. He also shared a little of his story. Jason begins by saying, “Brandon and his team were awesome.” However, when things with one lender started to go south, Jason began looking for other options. “I called him with a really short window to close on my dream home after not being very pleased with another company,” said Jason. “Not only was he able to get us to closing in 12 days, Brandon also saved us money by telling us about the Homes for Heroes program.”

To learn more information about Homes for Heroes, please visit their website at

Posted by Brandon Snider on March 29th, 2015 5:13 PM
Dear Alabama, in case you didn't know we're entering the severe weather season and I want you to be ready.  As I write this post, it is on the 3 year anniversary of April 27th, 2011.  That day 62 tornados touched down in Alabama and 249 people lost their lives in Alabama alone.  Still today, I am still stirred every time I hear the threat of severe weather, especially the threat of tornados.  

So I want you all to be ready.  I hope that you all now have a NOAA Weather Radio and that you have it programmed correctly to your area.  You'll need your SAME code for the area you live.  For that, click here:

Also, here's a short video on exactly how to program it! (If you can't see the video below, click here:

Also, with smartphone technology these days, there are tons of apps, but there are only a few that are really worth it, and most are just glorified radar maps.  So here's a list of the ones recommended by the top local meteorologists in the state. (Both should be available for Apple or Andriod devices, but click on the images for the Apple iTunes link)

Baron Saf-T-Net

Sirens are a last resort.  It's really ancient technology when compared to a good weather radio or a good smartphone app.  But definitely stay tuned to your local weather on television or radio and be aware of when severe weather may strike your area.

No one wants to experience a generational outbreak like what happened on April 27, 2011, however, it only takes one to affect your home or family to matter.  So stay weather aware NOW and for years to come!

Here's a video of the Cullman tornado taken from our old CFM location on 2nd Ave which was just about 5 blocks from downtown Cullman and it just barely missed our office.

Posted in:General
Posted by Brandon Snider on April 27th, 2014 10:42 PM

Happy Easter from all of us at Consumer First Mortgage in Cullman and Arab!

From the Cullman Team!
Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

From the Arab Team!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Can't view the videos above?  Click on the images below and it will link you to the video.

Posted in:General
Posted by Brandon Snider on April 16th, 2014 3:56 PM

How the Government Shutdown Affects Real Estate Transactions

As you may have heard, the US Government is 'closed for business.'  This has both direct and indirect effects on the lending industry and those looking to close on their new home or refinance.  I have complied a list of ways people may be impacted as a result of the shutdown.

Loan Processing Issues:

Verification Documents -
The shutdown could affect some of the tasks normally required during our processing and underwriting phases.  We will be unable to get IRS Tax Transcripts or Social Security Verifications during this shutdown period.  Also, if the borrower works for the government in any way, this could affect the ability of us or another lender to get a verification of employment for that borrower.

Rate Locks - If there are extended delays, some borrowers could run into rate lock issues if their rate expires.  Locks can always be extended for some period of time for a cost/fee.  Sometimes we (or another lender) can absorb that cost, sometimes we can't.  It depends on how and when the loan was locked.  The borrower or seller can pay the extension fee as well, should there be no other option.  Lock extensions are different for every loan type and the borrower should be in contact with their lender to stay updated on the status of their rate lock.  Depending on how the jobs report goes Friday, that could be a "market mover" for rates, with more risk of them going up than down.  So if a borrower's lock is close to expiring in the next week, they need to contact their lender immediately.

USDA / Rural Development Loans:
We were notified on October 1st from the USDA Central Office that their employees have been furloughed and will not be processing any files until funding has been restored.

As of Monday, September 30th, they were processing files that were received on September 4, 2013.  So they're already nearly a month behind.  This will affect the current schedule of closings for any loan that is using USDA Rural Developement for financing.  If they can't process the files, then no approvals are issued; if no approvals are issued, then there will be no closing.  These borrowers also have the option of switching loan programs if they want to ask their lender about that. 

We have also received word from HUD that many of their employees have been told they cannot work.  They do have the staff to continue to issue endorse new loans.  Consumer First Mortgage is a "DE" Lender for FHA, and this should not affect us.  This may affect others due to the fact that some lenders may not be able to apply for the FHA insurance (endorsement) on their loans.  Everything should be able to process as normal up until that point (unless IRS or Soc Sec verifications hold up the process).

VA Loans:
We have heard that there has been some furloughs at VA as well, but this should affect our ability to process and close VA loans as normal (unless IRS or Soc Sec verifications hold up the process).

If you have any questions regarding the shutdown, you can contact me at (256) 694-7514 or (256) 734-6012, or you can leave a comment below.



Posted in:General
Posted by Brandon Snider on October 3rd, 2013 12:23 PM

I'm running in my first 5k and it's the Oktoberfest Run in Cullman, AL.

CLICK HERE for more information on the event and how to register for the 2013 Oktoberfest Run!

Also, you can search the App Store for "Couch to 5k" and look for the image to the left (or HERE is a direct link) for the iPhone App Couch to 5k that I'm using to train.

Posted in:General
Posted by Brandon Snider on August 24th, 2013 11:50 AM

Service Deserves Its Rewards! A new program we are launching for Alabama is called Homes for Heroes and it's our way of giving back to the people who serve our communities so well. If you are a fire fighter, police officer, veteran, active military personnel, doctor, nurse, EMT, or a teacher...YOU QUALIFY! No strings attached! No red tape!

CLICK HERE to find out more information!

Posted in:General
Posted by Brandon Snider on August 16th, 2013 10:41 AM

Borrowers who are looking to purchase or refinance and take out FHA home loans will soon be stuck with paying for mortgage insurance for the life of the loan, rather than being able to eventually cancel it as they can now.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), parent agency of the FHA, has indicated that it plans to reverse a current policy that allows FHA borrowers to cancel annual mortgage insurance once their unpaid loan balance drops to 78 percent of the home’s “original” value.  USDA made a similar change in October of 2011 by adding an annual mortgage insurance, and it is also for the life of the loan.

No date has been set for making the change, although HUD has indicated it will take place sometime in 2013.

Will only affect new FHA loans

The new policy will only apply to new FHA mortgages taken out after the change is put into effect. Homeowners who currently have an FHA mortgage or who obtain one prior to the change will still be able to cancel their mortgage insurance according to the current rules.

The change will be a costly one. FHA borrowers currently pay an annual mortgage insurance premium of 1.20-1.25 percent on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages; borrowers with jumbo mortgages pay up to 1.50 percent, while those with 15-year fixed-rate loans pay between 0.25-.50 percent.

Annual premium to increase as well

In addition to making mortgage insurance a permanent feature of FHA home loans, HUD announced that it also intends to raise the cost of annual mortgage insurance premiums by 10 basis points, or an additional 0.1 percent, across the board. That means borrowers with a standard 30-year FHA mortgage would be paying annual insurance premiums of 1.30-1.35 percent.

The rule change creates some urgency for homeowners who are thinking of buying a home with an FHA mortgage or doing a streamlined refinance of a current FHA home loan, so they can finalize the mortgage before the new rules take effect.

Homeowners with FHA mortgages would still be able to get rid of mortgage insurance once their home equity exceeds 20 percent of their property value by refinancing into a non-FHA mortgage with no mortgage insurance.

Intended to restore capital reserves

HUD is making the change after a study by an independent actuary found that the capital reserve of the FHA’s mortgage insurance fund had fallen into deficit, with a ratio of -1.44 percent, representing a negative value of $16.3 billion. The losses are attributed to ongoing impacts from mortgages originated prior to 2009.

“While the loans made during this Administration remain the strongest in the agency’s history, we take the findings of the independent actuary very seriously,” said Carol Galante, FHA acting commissioner. “We will continue to take aggressive steps to protect FHA’s financial health while ensuring that FHA continues to perform its historic role of providing access to homeownership for underserved communities and supporting the housing market during tough economic times.”

An official HUD statement announcing the change notes that FHA currently insures mortgages for the life of the loan, but borrowers are only required to pay insurance premiums for part of that time.

Other mortgage types not affected

The HUD rule change does not affect traditional mortgages with private mortgage insurance, which borrowers will still be able to get removed once their mortgage balance drops below 80 percent of their home’s value.

For borrowers who make the minimum 3.5 percent down payment, it takes about 10 years to reach the 78 percent mark on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, but only four years on a 15-year loan. The home’s original value is either the purchase or assessed price at the time the loan was originated, whichever is lower.

To be able to have their FHA mortgage insurance canceled under the current rules, they must reach the 78 percent figure through the normal amortization schedule; that is, they cannot speed up the process by making larger payments.

Final Thoughts

This new HUD rule will drastically affect the overall cost of financing, especially over thirty years.  However, an FHA loan is still a very popular product due to the low minimum investment. 

As with any decision of this magnitude, you need the guidance of an experienced mortgage professional.  Myself and my staff here at Consumer First Mortgage are ready and waiting to assist you.  You can reach us at or by phone in Cullman at 256-734-6012 or in Arab at 256-586-5626. 

Posted in:General
Posted by Brandon Snider on December 1st, 2012 12:54 AM

10 Commandments when applying for a mortgage loanMany individuals do not realize that even the slightest change in your financial situation after you apply for a mortgage can delay or ultimately jeopardize the approval of your loan.

In my experience as a loan officer, I have seen each and every one of these commandments broken.  Unfortunately, some of those had the judgement of the underwriter come down upon them, resulting in their loan being denied.

Please take each of these ten commandments to heart as you go through the mortgage application process.

1) Thou shalt NOT change jobs, become self-employed, or quit your job.

2) Thou shalt NOT buy a car, truck, van, motorcycle, ATV, or any other vehicle (or you may be living in it)

3) Thou shalt NOT use your credit cards excessively or let ANY of your payments fall behind.

4) Thou shalt NOT spend the money you have set aside for downpayment or closing costs.

5) Thou shalt NOT buy furniture, appliances, or household items before you buy your new house.

6) Thou shalt NOT originate or allow any new inquiries on your credit report.

7) Thou shalt NOT make any large OR 'cash only' deposits into your bank accounts or transfer money between accounts without first consulting your mortgage consultant.

8) Thou shalt NOT change bank accounts.

9) Thou shalt NOT co-sign for anyone, or allow authorized users to charge on your credit accounts.

10) Thou shalt NOT omit any debts or liabilities from your loan application.

Any one of these items could result in your loan being denied.  Please notify your loan officer immediately if any of these actions were taken after you applied or after your credit was pulled.

Following these 10 Commandments will lead you to the promised land of LOAN APPROVAL HEAVEN!

For more information regarding the loan approval process, contact me or one of our fantastic loan officers.


Posted in:General
Posted by Brandon Snider on May 19th, 2012 5:17 PM

"Can you get a mortgage without having to put down 20%?"

I was asked this question about three times over the last two days, so I thought I'd put out some information relative to this question.

Needing 20% down is a common misconception in the marketplace today. There are numerous options for obtaining financing with less than 20% down. Below I will lay out several options for either no down payment or low down payment.


USDA/Rural Development - The Guaranteed USDA program offers 100% financing for qualified borrowers. There are many locations outside of major metropolitan areas that are eligible for this program. Click here to see if the area you're looking is eligible. Also, USDA has household income restrictions for their program. They calculate the total household income, regardless of who is on the loan application. This income limit is based on the number of people live in the household, and varies based on the area you live in. Click here to check income eligibility.

USDA also offers a Direct program that is geared for lower income households. This program offers subsidized payments and slightly longer loan terms. Here is more information on the USDA Direct program.

VA Financing - This loan also offers 100% financing and one of the biggest eligibility requirements is that you either need to be an active or discharged member of the armed forces or national guard. Click here to find out if you may be eligible. Here is a link to some frequently asked questions as well. VA loans do have a guideline for disposable income (the money left over after all debt payments are made), however do not have a household income limit.


FHA Financing - FHA offers home loans with as little as 3.5% down. FHA has no income limits for the household, but does have loan limits, based on the county in which you are purchasing the home. Click here to check on the limits for your area. FHA also offers a program for purchasing FHA foreclosure properties for as little as $100 for qualified properties. FHA is one of the most lenient programs in regards to credit history, in my opinion. *Note* This 3.5% down payment can be received as a gift from an eligible source.

Local and State Bond Money Programs - Many states and even some larges cities have down payment assistance programs that can be used with a variety of loan programs. For example, in my state of Alabama, we have a program through Alabama Housing Finance Authority (AHFA) called the Step Up Program. This program allows an eligible borrower to receive down payment assistance from AHFA in the amount of 3% of the purchase price and apply that towards FHA's 3.5% down payment requirement. This amount is financed to AHFA over 10 years at the same competitive rate as the first mortgage. But this allows a borrower to get FHA financing with only 0.5% down payment. Some other local and state programs offer down payment assistance with no payback, if you stay in the home for a certain number of years. Check with your local lenders, housing authorities and local governments to see if these programs exisit in your area.

Conventional Financing - Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both still offer programs with as little as 3% down. For example, FannieMae offers HomePath financing on eligible FannieMae foreclosures. Also, they offer HomePath Renovation loans for foreclosures that need a little TLC. For other homes, they allow as little as 5% down payment. However, when putting less than 20% down, private mortgage insurance (PMI) is required on the loan. PMI is offered by separate companies and they have their own individual requirements based on FICO score, amount of down payment, type of loan, etc. PMI can be paid monthly or it can be paid all at once up front by either the buyer, the seller, or the lender. Ask you lender for details on these programs.


I hope this has answered your general questions about the programs that are available right now. I'd be happy to help you with any further questions you may have.

Brandon Snider
NMLS ID# 181033

Posted in:General
Posted by Brandon Snider on September 15th, 2011 9:42 AM

...that's a great question! I wish I knew the final answer.

On May 25, 2011, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity met with one goal:

"Determine the role of FHA, RHS, and GNMA in the Single- and Multi-Family Mortgage Markets"

Several industry leaders were brought in to testify at the hearing, including NAR's own president, Ron Phipps as well as chairman of Mortgage Banker's Association, Michael Berman.

A draft of the FHA-Rural Regulatory Improvement Act of 2011 was the focus of the hearing. The headline from this act will obviously be the change of FHA's minimum down payment from 3.5% to 5.0%.

I tend to agree with Phipps when he testified, "Proposals to further increase FHA down payment requirements are unwarranted. The current 3.5% down payment and closing costs represent a significat financial commitment. Requiring a larger down payment does little to reduce risk of default compared to strong underwriting requirments, and only puts home ownership out of reach for many families who have the income necessary to carry the cost of the home purchase."

I couldn't have said it better myself. I'm sure most everyone would agree that underwriting standards have only gotten tougher over the past two years.


This new Act had many components and here is a quick summary of the Top 10 issues it addresses:

1) Sets a minimun guidelines for the Special Risk Insurance Fund and the General Insurance Fund, as well as time frames for doing so.

2) Increasing the minimum down payment for FHA loans from 3.5% to 5.0%

3) Sets new FHA loan limits based on 125% of the median single-family house price for each county

4) Sets FHA's Annual Mortgage Insurance premiums to be no less than 0.55% annually but not more than 1.5% annually

5) Any FHA Mortgagee (a direct endorsement Lender) that approves a mortgage that is later found to have not been underwritten correctly, and HUD has to pay a claim in a certain amount of time, HUD may require the lender to indemnify HUD against the loss. If fraud or misrepresentation is found, through out the time periods!

6) Gives HUD the ability to terminate a lender's ability to originate or underwrite FHA loans

7) Establishes a CFO for GNMA

8) Establishes a new Deputy Assistant Secretary for Risk at FHA

9) Would move the management of Rural Housing programs under the HUD umbrella

10) Would potentially change RHS loans' guarantee fee to 1% with an annual premium of 0.5% (payable monthly, much like FHA Loans already work)

Again, none of these are specifically implemented just yet and none of these provisions have been officially approved. But in my experience, if HUD wants to do something, it's pretty much a done deal, it's just a matter of when.

Be sure to connect with me on Facebook and Twitter and visit my website at

Posted in:General
Posted by Brandon Snider on May 26th, 2011 10:10 AM