Five Solid Rock Benefits of VA Loans

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The VA loan program has some great benefits that can help Veterans purchase their dream home.

1.     No money down required. VA loans allow for 100% financing, which means no cash out of pocket for the down payment.  Loan programs normally require up to 3-5% down payment. With a VA loan, so long as the purchase price doesn’t exceed the appraised value of the home, no down payment is required.

2.     No private mortgage insurance (PMI) required. With traditional loans, if you require financing for more than 80 percent of a home’s appraised value, you’ll most likely be required to pay PMI monthly, which protects the lender if you default on the loan. The VA loan does not require PMI which means lower monthly payments! 

3.     Reduced closing costs. Veterans can save money by paying reduced closing costs by using the VA Loan.  This can help the Veterans save hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars.  

4.     Lower interest rates. VA loans are guaranteed by the VA and lenders can offer favorable loan terms in comparison to conventional loans. This can mean lower interest rates and lower monthly loan payments for the Veteran. 

5.     Potentially lower minimum credit score. The VA loan allows lower credit scores for Veterans in contrast to conventional lenders.  This provides more Veterans to qualify and purchase homes using their VA eligibility.  

If you have any questions on the VA loan program, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you,

     Ed Smith

Solid Rock Home Loans

NMLS 327781

What You Need to Know About Interest Rate Locks


When taking out a mortgage for a new home, one of the most important aspects to the loan is the interest rate. The interest rate you receive for your mortgage will determine how much money you pay over time for your home. Interest rates are determined by a variety of factors including loan amount, credit score, and loan term.

What is a rate lock?

               A rate lock is a set interest rate on a loan for a specific loan amount and time. A rate lock can be guaranteed for 30, 45, or 60 days. If the loan is not completed before the end of the rate lock, the lender may or may not extend the lock for the buyer. Depending on the lender, rate locks may cost money in the form of a flat fee or a percentage of the mortgage.

Why lock your interest rate?

               Locking an interest rate is beneficial to home buyers because their interest rate for their mortgage is guaranteed and will not change even if interest rates rise during the home buying process. Locking an interest rate also runs the risk of having interest rates go down after locking, however working with an experienced broker will improve the chances of locking at a competitive rate.

When is the best time to lock?

               There is no guaranteed best time to lock an interest rate. Rates can change daily. Data suggests that rates are more stable on Monday rather than later in the week, however, there are many other factors that play into the best time to lock. The wisest thing to do is to work with an experienced broker who has the knowledge and history of your chosen lender to know when is best to lock your loan.

Solid Rock Home Loans has over 20 years of experience in Hawai’i’s mortgage industry. If you have any questions about rate locks, mortgages, or purchasing a home, we are more than happy to help. Please contact us below:

Ed Smith

Sr. Loan Officer

Solid Rock Home Loans, Inc.

Cell 808-255-7498

eFax 866-780-8558

How Your Credit Card Balance Can Work to Your Advantage


Are you using your credit card to the best benefit you? While many people own several credit cards, how they are used can differ greatly. On the extreme end, some max out their cards monthly, while on the other end some barely use it. Below is an article by Devin Norcross, Regional Director and Manager of National Credit Care describing some scenarios on how you may use your credit card, and what is most beneficial.

Quiz Question - Which situation is best for your FICO score:

a) Using my one credit card, each month, for a tiny amount of $5 then paying it off to $0 immediately after receiving the bill?

b) Using all three of my credit cards each month and keeping them all as close to 30% of the limit as I can?

c) Maxing out my one credit card out each month, then paying it off completely when the bill arrives?

d) Rotating my three credit cards around; keeping only one of them at 50% utilization at any given time?

e) Owning two credit cards and only using them in emergencies?

f) Going to the bar and spending all of my money because the FICO algorithms are irritating and continue to cause me high interest rates?

Just in case you decided to look at this line to find the answer before figuring it out; it might be (c), could be (d), possibly (b), perhaps (a), but definitely not (f). Choosing option (e) is terrible because having revolving accounts and not ever using them is the same as not having any in the first place.

The problem with (d) is that a 50% utilization - though it isn’t awful - is higher than where you want to be. Rotating your cards monthly if you have multiple cards is important, though. Therefore, (d) takes 2nd place.

Option (c) is one of the worst options only because of how the bureaus/creditors have set up their system. You may think that you’re smart - maxing out your card then having the funds and responsibility to pay it off - but the creditors report you to the bureaus before they send you the bill. What generally happens, therefore, is that your credit report shows that you are maxed out at any given time instead of paid off.

Option (b) isn’t terrible but certainly not ideal. At a 30% utilization you aren’t losing a lot of points but you are still losing a few. In addition if all of your revolving accounts are being utilized at once, you are penalized for "multiple revolving balances."

The best answer other than contacting us to help you with your exact situation is option (a). Keeping your balance as low as possible on one account at all times and continuously using it each month is as good as it gets.

Benefits of Paying Off Your Mortgage Early

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Save Money by Shortening Your Mortgage Loan Term

You can save thousands of dollars in interest by shortening the term of your mortgage loan by refinancing a 30 year mortgage loan to a 15 year mortgage loan or paying extra towards your principal loan payment.

Below we provide examples of how you can save money by shortening your mortgage loan term.

The interest rates shown may not be the current market interest rates and each client circumstance may be different to determine if shortening the loan term will be a benefit. However, the principal for paying off a mortgage loan is no different than paying off an auto loan or credit card. In doing so, there will be savings by reducing the interest paid.

30-year vs 15-year mortgage

  • 30-year fixed rate mortgage loan balance is $400,000, 4.125% (4.182 APR) with a monthly payment of $1939.
  • By choosing to refinance or select a 15 year mortgage at 3.50% (3.60 APR) your principal and interest payments will increase to $2,860 or an increase by approximately $921 per month.
  • The interest savings would be $183,179 from the 15-year loan.
                                                       15 year mortgage                             30 year mortgage   Loan Amount                                     $400,000                                         $400000  Interest Rate                                               3.5%                                               4.125%  Monthly Payment                               $2,859.53                                          $1,938.60  Total Interest                                         $114,716                                           $297,896  Total Payments                                     $514,716                                           $597,895                      

                                                     15 year mortgage                             30 year mortgage
Loan Amount                                    $400,000                                         $400000
Interest Rate                                              3.5%                                               4.125%
Monthly Payment                              $2,859.53                                          $1,938.60
Total Interest                                        $114,716                                           $297,896
Total Payments                                    $514,716                                           $597,895                      

Paying Additional Principal Towards Your Mortgage Loan Balance


$200 Additional Monthly Payments

By increasing your mortgage payment $200 per month, you will shorten your mortgage by 3 years & 9 months and save $36,938 in interest.

Mortgage Payoff Summary

              Original Term                                                                                30 Years
              Remaining                                                                                     25 Years
              Annual Interest Rate                                                                        4.125%
              Additional Principal Payment                                          $200 per month
              Normal Payment (P)                                                                         $1,939
              Accelerated Payment (P)                                                                  $2,139
              Total Scheduled Payments                                                           $697,895
              Total Accelerated Payments                                                        $660,957
              Savings                                                                                           $36,938
              Mortgage Shortened By                                                 3 years, 9 months


$500 Additional Monthly Payments

By increasing your mortgage payment $500 per month, you will shorten your mortgage by 7 years & 7 months and save $73,186 in interest.

Mortgage Payoff Summary

              Original Term                                                                                30 Years
              Remaining                                                                                     25 Years
              Annual Interest Rate                                                                        4.125%
              Additional Principal Payment                                          $500 per month
              Normal Payment (P)                                                                         $1,939
              Accelerated Payment (P)                                                                 $2,439
              Total Scheduled Payments                                                           $697,895
              Total Accelerated Payments                                                        $624,709
              Savings                                                                                             $73,186
              Mortgage Shortened By                                                  7 years, 7 months


$1000 Additional Monthly Payments

By increasing your mortgage payment $1,000 per month, you will shorten your mortgage by 11 years & 7 months and save $109,093 in interest.

Mortgage Payoff Summary

              Original Term                                                                                30 Years
              Remaining                                                                                     25 Years
              Annual Interest Rate                                                                        4.125%
              Additional Principal Payment                                        $1,000 per month
              Normal Payment (P)                                                                         $1,939
              Accelerated Payment (P)                                                                 $2,939
              Total Scheduled Payments                                                           $697,895
              Total Accelerated Payments                                                        $588,803
              Savings                                                                                          $109,093
              Mortgage Shortened By                                                  7 years, 7 months


If you would like to discuss the best option for you, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Summer Sizzling Promotion!

This summer, are you planning to purchase a home, consolidate your bills, or need help with home improvement loan?


Solid Rock Home Loans offers exceptional service, a wide range of loan products, and interest rates that will be competitively priced.


We offer:

  • VA Home Loans

  • USDA Loans

  • Conventional Loans

  • FHA Loans

  • Condotel Loans

  • First time home buyer loans

  • Home Equity Loans


We love our clients and will do our best to help them in any way possible.  If you have been turned away from a bank or lender or want a second opinion please let us know!


Feel free to call me or email me to start your journey to home ownership, greater financial freedom, or the opportunity to improve your home.

Preparing for your Home Loan


As home prices and mortgage interest rates continue to increase some first time home buyers have delayed their decision to purchase a home.  However, waiting to buy can be an opportunity to prepare for a bigger or better home.  Here are some suggestions to improve your home buying opportunity.

1.      Keep your credit in good standing. You can save thousands of dollars by having a good credit score, which will help you save money in closing costs and loan fees. 

2.      Payoff, consolidate or paydown debt.  Consolidating and decreasing your debt improves your credit score, as debt directly impacts your ability to purchase a home.  Do not co-sign or take out new loans.

3.      Save for a down payment and closing costs.  A down payment can improve your interest rate and give you more loan options to choose from.

4.      Set a budget you can live on and begin doing it.  A budget will enable you to put into motion a real picture of the how much you earn and spend.

5.      Stay employed for 2 years in the same line of work full time.  This is the standard guideline, although there are exceptions. 

Borrowing is not “one size fits all”, however, the above suggestions can help home buyers position themselves for success.

If you have any questions regarding home ownership please feel free to contact me. 


Ed Smith

NMLS 327781


National Home Prices Up Despite Sales Slowdown


Article via National Mortgage Professional Magazine

by Phil Hall

February saw the third consecutive month of year-over-year declines in home sales, according to new data from RE/MAX. Nonetheless, home prices continued to soar.

Last month saw a relatively 0.2 percent decline in home sales from one year earlier, although sales were up 3.5 percent from January. In the 52 metro areas tracked by RE/MAX, 26 markets recorded year-over-year sales increases, most notably Billings, Mont., with a 59.2 percent spike.

In February, the median sales price was $228,700, up 2.3 percent from January 2018 and up 8.1 percent from February 2017. Only two metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in the median sales price—a 0.2 percent dip in Albuquerque, N.M., and 5.2 percent drop in Burlington, Vt.—while 18 metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages. February marked the 22nd consecutive month of year-over-year price increases.

The average number of days on the market for homes sold in February was 62, up two days from the average in January but down six days from the February 2017 average. The number of homes for sale in February was down 1 percent from January and down 13.7 percent from one year earlier. The inventory supply fell to 3.1 months from January’s 3.4 months; one year earlier, the rate was 3.6 months.


Homeownership is Within Reach

For many, owning a home in Hawai’i is a dream and may appear difficult, if not impossible. However, I can assure you that owning a home is possible and one of the best investments you can make, especially in Hawaii with steady appreciation, especially within the past 7 years.

                        Data from    

                       Data from   

My name is Ed Smith and I am a mortgage broker with Solid Rock Home Loans. We have over 20 years experience in Hawaii’s mortgage industry and we have helped many homebuyers reach their dream by purchasing a home in Hawaii. 


·        Solid Rock Home Loans is a locally owned mortgage company who understands Hawaii’s culture and real estate industry.

·        We provide excellent interest rates and exceptional service.  Our local and national wholesale lenders compete for your business!

·        We will personally guide you step-by-step through the home buying process and answer any questions you may have along the way.


If you are interested in purchasing a home or have any questions, please contact me at (808) 255-7498 or You can also visit our website,, for more information. 


Ed Smith

Sr. Loan Officer

Solid Rock Home Loans, Inc.

Cell 808-255-7498

eFax 866-780-8558

Neighborhood Profile: Kaka'ako


As Oahu’s real estate market continues to expand, today we are profiling one of the up and coming neighborhoods in Metro Honolulu- Kaka’ako.

Condominiums and high-rises are popping up left-and-right in Kaka’ako, a neighborhood near the South shore of Oahu. Here’s more information if you are interested in living in the area:

Location: Kaka’ako is located minutes away from Blaisdell Arena, downtown Honolulu, and Ala Moana Shopping Center. Kaka’ako Waterfront Park is along the ocean, and there are many beaches nearby, including the Ala Moana and Waikiki. There are many restaurants and shops within Kaka’ako, including SALT and Ward Village.

SALT Kakaako

Atmosphere: Kaka’ako has a hip, artsy feel. On nearly any street one can find large murals painted by POW! WOW! Hawai’i. There are restaurants and coffee shops aplenty. Located in metro Honolulu, it is a busy neighborhood given the area’s condensed population.

Cost: Because of the location and newer development, you will need to pay a premium to live in Kaka’ako. The area has condominiums and apartments ranging from $200,000 affordable housing studios to $5 million+ luxury condominiums.


Although living in Kaka’ako at face value seems pricy, the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC) has set aside affordable units for low-median income Hawaii residents who meet specific guidelines.


Summary: Kaka’ako is best for young professionals looking to be nearby to all Honolulu has to offer. The location can’t be beat with restaurants, shops, and beaches located within minutes. However, in Kaka’ako you receive location at a cost for space and price. Majority of available housing are studios, apartments, and condominiums and many of these are luxury units although there are some affordable options available.

For  information on buying or refinancing a home in Hawai'i, please contact Solid Rock Home Loans at (808) 255-7498 or by e-mail at

7 Refinancing Options That Benefit You


There are many benefits to refinancing your mortgage.

Refinancing provides the opportunity to save money, pay off your loan faster, and even provide significant cash. Read below to find out the different ways refinance can benefit you:

1. Lower interest rate

Refinancing allows borrowers to lower their original interest rate, resulting in lower monthly payments and saving thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

2. No Mortgage Insurance

If your first mortgage an FHA-backed loan and you have mortgage insurance, you can get rid of the monthly insurance payment by refinancing to a conventional loan.

3. Shorter term

A shorter loan term allows you to save thousands on interest. The most common shortened loan terms are 15 and 20 year terms. 

4. Ability to Prepay

When refinancing, if you have a lower interest rate but choose to pay the same monthly payment, you will actually be paying off more money on the principal.

5. Fixed rate

If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage, a refinance with a fixed rate allows you to secure a low interest rate as well as keep your monthly payments fixed over time.

6. Cash-out

A cash-out refinance allows you to borrow enough money to pay off closing costs and leave with some cash, in addition to paying off your old mortgage. This is done by taking out equity from your home. People use this extra cash in a variety of ways including to pay off consumer debt.

7. Cash-in

A cash-in refinance allows you to add to your equity by putting down a larger down payment. This will lower monthly payments and save money on interest.

For more information on buying or refinancing a home in Hawai'i, please contact Solid Rock Home Loans at (808) 255-7498 or by e-mail at

*Info from


Happy New Year!


Happy New Year!

Each year the market changes and this year will be no exception.  I have already experienced a slight increase in interest rates (expected to continue through 2018), buyers being more cautious to enter the real estate market (one reason being the increase in home prices), and a larger share of cash out refinancing to consolidate debt.   However, we have the loan programs to overcome and help your buyer(s) with many loan options plus very good interest rates plus very good service.

Solid Rock Home Loans is an experienced mortgage broker company with a proven track record in Hawaii.  You have the distinction of being able to access a menu of loan programs with good interest rates and be confident we will close your loan on time.  

Solid Rock Home Loans provides the following loan programs:

-Conventional, all products.  High Balance, 3% down payment

-Portfolio, condotel, Jumbo, unwarrantable condos, land

-FHA, includes Hawaiian Home Lands

-VA, 100% financing, borrowers closing can be paid for.

-USDA, 100% financing, borrowers closing cost can be paid for.

-MCC for Conventional, VA and USDA loan products.

-HELOCS (fixed rate or ARMs)

If you have any questions or need help with a potential buyer being pre-qualified please feel free to contact me at or (808) 627-5391.

Ed Smith

Sr. Loan Officer

Solid Rock Home Loans, Inc




Oahu Homes Reach New Records in 2017

oahu houses

In 2017 housing prices and sales reached record marks. In June the median price of single-family homes reached $795,000, and in July, the median price of condos hit $425,000, both record highs. During the summertime homes were also selling rapidly, with an average of 12 and 13 days on the market for single-family homes and condos respectively.        

In December, the median price of single-family homes was $750,000. Sales were up 5.9% from the same time in 2016, with 361 houses sold. For condos, sales were actually down 12.2% from 2016, with 461 units sold. Nevertheless, each market experienced overall growth in 2017 with sales increasing 6.3% and 6.9% for single-family homes and condos respectively.

For more information on buying or refinancing a home in Hawai'i, please contact Solid Rock Home Loans at (808) 255-7498 or by e-mail at

**Data from Honolulu Board of REALTORS®

Lenders' Outlook on the New Year



Mortgage lenders continue to have a negative profit outlook, and view competitors as the biggest barrier to profit. Demand for both refinances and purchases has decreased.

" On net, lenders said they view competition from other lenders as their biggest hurdle to profitability. This sentiment, which has driven profit concerns for five consecutive quarters, reached its fourth straight survey high with 75 percent of those with a negative outlook naming this as a reason. Among those expecting profits to improve, increased operating efficiency was cited most often.


More lenders reported seeing declining demand for refinancing over the previous three months.  This continues a trend that started in the first quarter of 2017. The net share of lenders who expect to see refinancing demand grow in the first quarter of 2018 fell to the lowest reading in a year across all three loan types.

Demand for purchase loans was also lower for all loan types compared to the previous quarter and was the lowest for any fourth quarter over the past three years.  The net share of lenders who expect an increase in purchase mortgage demand over the next three months was about the same as it has been for recent fourth quarters."

Read more here.

Quotations from Mortgage News Daily "Mortgage Lenders' Biggest Fear: Other Mortgage Lenders"


Five Simple Ways to Save Money & Increase Your Credit Score

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Merry Christmas and I hope you and your family are well.

One of the most common questions I receive from our clients is “How can I improve my credit score?” A good credit score can be the White Knight that saves you thousands of dollars by receiving a lower interest rate and reduced loan fees. In contrast, a lower credit score can be the kiss of death which may result in your loan not being approved or receiving a higher interest rate and additional loan fees.

I have listed below five simple ways to save money and improve your credit score.


1. Pay your creditors on time.  A significant portion of your credit score is weighted on your payment history.  Mortgage credit history is weighted the highest due to the size of the loan.


2. Keep credit card balances below 50% of the credit card limit.  As an example, if your credit card limit is $1000 your credit card balance will be below $500 or less.  The lower the balances the better. The best scenario is to pay off the balance each month.


3. Limit the amount of charge cards and loans.  Excessive open credit cards with balances greater than 50% of the credit limit and large amounts of installment debt (i.e. auto loans) will reduce or limit your credit score from increasing.


4. If you are applying for a loan limit the amount of credit inquiries made.  Each time you apply for a loan the bank or lender will complete a credit inquiry. Too many credit inquiries in a short period of time may reduce your credit score.


5. Avoid co-signing for loans.   Co-signing for a loan means you take on the risk the lender does not want.  The person who has applied for a loan does not qualify and the lender is requesting for additional support from a co-signer.  When you co-sign for a loan you become equally responsible for the loan repayment and your credit score will be impacted as mentioned in above #1-4. 


In conclusion, I use the analogy of your credit score being similar to having children.  Your credit score will be with you until you die (so will your children) and effort must be made to make sure your credit score is protected.  Neglecting your credit can cost you thousands of dollars when you decide to obtain a mortgage loan.

If you have any questions or would like more information on credit or maybe thinking of purchasing a home or refinancing your mortgage loan, please feel free to contact me. 


Mele Kalikimaka!

Debunking the VA Home Loan Appraisal Process


Solid Rock Home Loans helps Veterans by using the VA Home Loan to help Veterans purchase and finance their homes.  The appraisal process plays an important role in the mortgage process to determine the market value of the property.

While there are differences in Conventional (non-government) and VA Home Loan appraisal processes, there are similarities and in some cases the VA appraisal process can be a better experience.

  1. VA appraisers are licensed appraisers who can also complete conventional appraisals.  The qualifications for a VA appraiser are equal or better than a Conventional appraiser, as VA appraiser must know additional government lending guidelines.
  2. VA and Conventional appraisals completion times are similar.  In Hawaii, VA and Conventional appraisal completion times is approximately two to three weeks or depending on how busy the housing market is. 
  3. The cost for VA appraisal in Hawaii is better or comparable to Conventional appraisals.  The cost for a VA Home Loan appraisal in Hawaii is $650 for residential single-family homes, not including additional fees for extension travel.
  4. VA appraisals allow lenders and mortgage brokers to communicate directly with the VA appraiser.  In contrast, loan officers and mortgage brokers are not allowed to communicate with Conventional appraisers. The advantage to communicating to the appraiser is the free flow of communication and information from the Loan Officer to the appraiser and vice versa.
  5. VA appraisals provide the opportunity for the borrower or realtor to assist the appraiser if the appraisal value is less than the purchase price.  Prior to the completion of the appraisal report the VA appraiser will contact the lender or mortgage broker to request additional information that can help with the final property valuation such as sales comparables or current market data. 

As home prices continue to increase and homes become less affordable to homebuyers the VA Home Loan will be a good option for Veterans.  The VA loan provides 100% financing, competitive interest rates, and flexible underwriting guidelines.  VA Loans can be used to purchase and refinance homes.