Are you ready to buy a home, sell a home or refinance your house? Attorneys Rob Draughon and Shelley Rothman will be covering a checklist of things you need to check to protect your title to the property and make your closing smoother. I will be sharing some ways to prepare your financial picture to get the best terms on financing.

What do YOU want to accomplish with YOUR mortgage? Make your plan. Let’s work your plan. If the deal works for you today, let’s do it today. Call and let’s explore your options. (901) 482-0354 Subscribe for Real Estate Mortgage Shoppe weekly podcasts with show notes at

To listen to today’s show just click below!

To Your Success,

Jo Garner, Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS# 757308

(1st segment 9:06am to 9:15Am) LET’S GET STARTED…

(Jo) (Good morning, Memphis! Welcome to our internet listeners and podcast listeners across the 50 states! You’re on Real Estate Mortgage Shoppe. I’m your host, Jo Garner, Mortgage Loan Officer. You can connect with me at Our general topic is PAVING THE WAY TO PREPARE & PROTECT YOUR HOME’S TITLE & YOUR FINANCING. . Subscribe to get Real Estate Mortgage Shoppe weekly blogposts with podcasts at Call us while we are live today DECEMBER 9th, 2022 at 901 535 9732.


Also, back again in the studio are our expert real estate attorney, Rob Draughon of Griffin Clift Everton and Maschmeyer Law Firm. Rob, my mortgage clients and referring partners love the way you get title issues ironed out and the closing done on time. You also, take the extra time at the closing table to explain important points to the person buying a home or getting a mortgage. Take a couple of minutes and introduce yourself to our listeners and tell us about some of the services you offer your clients. (Rob, take a couple of minutes to intro yourself and talk about the services offered to your customers.)

(Jo)As a mortgage loan originator, I am seeing an increase in the number of people and families getting preapproved  to buy a home.  For the first time in over two years, I see sellers helping the buyers pay closing costs and repairs.   With the seller helping with buyer costs coupled with some down payment assistance, first-time homebuyers are finally able to buy their home with little or nothing down again.

First-time home buyers and experienced home buyers who can afford to buy a home they want are opting to buy a home vs paying rent.   The mantra goes like this:   “Marry the house. Date the interest rate.”  When and if rates move down low enough to make it beneficial to these homeowners, they plan to refinance.  In the meantime, they can start building equity where they live instead of paying the landlord’s mortgage.

Getting a mortgage is so easy today. It’s not the process your parents or grandparents went through to get their loan.  Today, you have options. You can connect with a loan officer online and upload your supporting documents through a secure portal.  More and more clients do most of the process conveniently online with me.   Others of all ages still want the face-to-face meeting with me at some point in the process.

A good, local mortgage loan originator and a good realtor can walk you around pitfalls and get you safely to owning your home.


(Jo) I think my mortgage customers have been looking into the future. Here is a perfect example of someone looking into the future and taking action to profit. Mikia Mitlin,(not her real name) a single professional in her late 30’s. She had been renting her whole adult life, stressing at every rent hike. Now it was time for her rent to go up AGAIN. She was already paying more for food and gas and everything else.

Mikia started watching videos and reading online about the real estate market and the forecasts for the future. Home prices, she decided, were going to keep going up and so were the mortgage rates. If she could manage to buy her own home now, she would feel good about paying for something that would go up in value over time. With some help from a realtor friend from her church and her mortgage officer, Mikia was persistent, prepared and had a strong preapproval letter from her mortgage officer. This is what Mikia said, “Just help me own my own home. If I can buy my home, I don’t care what the rates are. I can always refinance later if rates come down one day.”

Rob and Shelley, we have about three minutes before we head into a break. Let’s start jumping into some of your tips to protect your homeownership position and prepare for a smooth mortgage process. (Rob and Shelley launch into their topics until break—to be continued after break)

You’re on Real Estate Mortgage Shoppe. I’m your host, Jo Garner, licensed Mortgage Originator. Connect with me at What do YOU want to accomplish with YOUR mortgage? Make your plan. Work your plan. If the deal works for you today, let’s DO IT TODAY. When we come back you will be getting more wisdom from our expert real estate attorneys, Rob Draughon. See you back in just a moment.

2nd segment is after 9:15 break from about 9:18Am to 9:30 AM break

Garner # 33 11/13/14 ANSWER: Exchange Building

Question: In my reincarnation in 1910, I became the tallest building in Downtown Memphis. Who am I?

Hint: I stand tall next to one of the original four public squares in Memphis.

Hint: Both the Cotton Exchange and the Merchants Exchange were located in me until they moved to another location in 1924 and 1931.

Hint: The building that replaced me at the tallest in Memphis was my neighbor, the Lincoln-American Tower in 1924..

Answer: Exchange Building. The original Exchange Building opened at the northwest corner of Second Street and Madison Avenue in 1885. The Cotton Exchange was relocated from Front Street & Madison Avenue and the Merchants Exchange was relocated from the first Exchange Building (built in 1847) at the corner of Front Street & Poplar Avenue, where the Cannon Center is located today. The 1885 building was razed to make way for the 19-story Exchange Building which opened in 1910, replacing the Dr. D. T. Porter Building (11 stories, built in 1895) as downtown’s tallest building. The Cotton Exchange built its own building at Front Street & Union Avenue in 1924 to be closer to the cotton industry of Cotton Row, and the Merchants Exchange moved over in 1933.

Over the years, numerous offices and businesses were located in the Exchange Building, and even clothing stores like Phil A Halle and Alfred’s. The 1955 phone book lists 32 different railroad offices in the building. The Exchange Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 and converted to apartments in 1996.



(901) 752-1133


Pre-closing and closing title related issues and ways to try to recognize some of them early on in the process.

If title problems are not caught early enough, they can:

  • delay your closings;

  • Cause frustration to everyone involved; and potentially

  • Kill your deal.

Whether you are representing the buyer or the seller communication with your customer AND the closing attorney is critical.

The goal is for the seller to convey clear and marketable title to the purchaser. What does that mean?

  • First thing, we need to make sure the seller owns the property!

  • Any and all recorded liens against the property must be dealt with. The obvious one is existing mortgages. We order a payoff statement and pay it off at closing. Easy enough, right? Well, no, not always. You may be surprised at how many people do not know that the line of credit they opened up at their bank a few years ago is secured by a Deed of Trust on their home. Another issue we come across more and more frequently are the homeowner’s assistance loans and modifications whereby a portion of the loan is deferred, purchased by HUD, and secured by a second or a Partial Claim Deed of Trust to lower the borrower’s monthly payments. The borrowers do not have to make any payments on many of these second mortgages until they sell their home and if they don’t sell, 30 years later. What we have repeatedly heard is that these borrowers were sent documents to sign in front of a notary that were not explained to them. All they knew was that there house was saved and their payment was lowered. They were not told it had to be paid back. They even forget they exist.

*What loans does your seller say they have? You need that information to run some figures for them. Ask them if they have a line of credit. Even if they have not used it, it must be terminated and the lien released.

  • If the seller has a judgment against them that is recorded, it attaches to the property. This includes judgment liens, Federal Tax Liens and State tax liens. If there is a person with a name similar to the seller’s name, or the Buyers name, we have to contact every lien holder to verify it’s not the same person. To do that, we need their social security numbers. *See if you can find out if your customers may have had any judgments rendered against them or if they are in a payment plan with the IRS. Believe it or not, the IRS has lied to taxpayers! Once they enter into a payment plan the IRS has told people they will not lien their property and next thing you know it’s recorded. If you are not comfortable asking this question, enter their names and every variation of it on the Shelby County Register’s website and see what pops up. Judgments expire 10 years after the date they are entered if they are not renewed.

  • If the seller is in bankruptcy we WILL find out and require an order from the Bankruptcy Court approving the contract, authorizing the sale and directing us how to disburse the proceeds. I’ve been questioned by sellers on more than one occasion how I found out about someone’s bankruptcy and why is it my business.

How do you ask these hard questions? I’ll let you know how I approach it. This works for me for buyers and sellers in the context of sharing the closing process. I tell people that once the contract is signed, the closing attorney orders a title search from a title company. The title company checks the public records to make sure the seller owns the property, what recorded restrictions affect the property, and they also check the names of all sellers and buyers for any liens and bankruptcies. So if they think something may pop up just let us know so we can work through it before it becomes a bigger issue. If you have the buyer and they are getting a loan, title is a huge part of the loan process and the lender will also do their own independent research.

Let’s talk about marriage, divorce and death. Fun topics, I know.

PLEASE be prepared to provide information to your lender and closing attorney, if married, unmarried, separated, or in the process of getting a divorce and let the closing attorney know.

If your seller holds title alone but is married, start with the assumption that their spouse will need to attend closing. Tell them it is very likely, but the ultimate decision will lie with the closing attorney and title company. PLEASE let the closing attorney know the person on the contract IS married but holds title alone. The closing attorney will take it from there.

If your buyer is married but is the only one going on the loan and title, the assumption IS that their spouse will need to sign documents at closing waiving marital rights in the event of a foreclosure. Depending upon the circumstances I have had that requirement waived by the title company.

Once a divorce action is filed there is an automatic injunction against either spouse using marital assets. The title company does not care about us violating this injunction, but we do since we can lose our licenses if we participate in violating that injunction. You potentially run that risk as well. PLEASE let the lawyer know. Each of these situations is different. Sometimes we need the written consent from each of their lawyers. Sometimes we just need the estranged spouse to join in on the Deed of Trust. Those of us doing this long enough know what we need to obtain to protect ourselves and YOU. We just need to know early enough in the process to deal with it in a timely manner. Frankly, a few times in our experience, the non-purchasing spouse has used this as leverage and an opportunity to get more out of the divorce. It is what it is, they need to work it out, and I still have my license to practice law.

Even when a Seller’s divorce has been finalized, we frequently need a copy of the final divorce decree and marital dissolution agreement. Many times MDAs will provide that the spouse quit claiming title or not in title to begin with gets a % of proceeds from the sale of the property or a fixed amount of money.

Death and Dealing with the Dead.

The subject of death and title revolves primarily around the Seller. However, it can also have an impact on the purchaser. Particularly if closing is substantially delayed or title cannot be cleared without a lawsuit.

We actually have a manual called “Dealing with the Dead” in real estate transactions which contains title company underwriting guidelines and relevant statutes.

I have had more beneficiaries selling homes the past two years than ever before.

We CANNOT close on the sale of a property within sixty days of the owners date of death. The statutes give that time to people that may hold unrecorded deeds to the property to get them recorded. We cannot change that. All the begging, pleading and crying in the world cannot change that. I’m sorry.

The information we need just to get started if the owner has passed away is the date of death, if they died a resident of Tennessee, a copy of the death certificate, and whether or not a Probate has been opened. If there were two owners and they both died, we will need death certificates for both of them. From there we determine the next steps to properly determine and evidence who the owners of the property are. That is NOT always the person that signed the contract as the seller.

People sometimes find a form and file their own Affidavits of Heirship. An Affidavit of Heirship is a sworn statement from someone who knew the deceased for many years, preferably for their entire reproductive life, and can state with certainty any children they had during their lifetime, both alive and deceased. Whether or not they were married when they died. If they had no children and no spouse, we need to know if either of their parents are alive, or when they died, and if the deceased had brothers or sisters. This process sometimes takes a long time. We have to be able to locate all of the beneficiaries to have them sign closing documents or a power of attorney authorizing someone to sign on their behalf. The title company also has to run all of their names for judgments. The most beneficiaries I’ve had on one closing was well over 20. Of course they were all over the country AND before mobile notaries were around.

This process cannot be rushed.

I’ve seen people unrelated to the deceased file Affidavits of Heirship that are fraudulent. I’ve had relatives hurry up to file Affidavits that are completely wrong but they felt justified because the person they left off has had no contact with them for years. I recently had a son of a deceased person have affidavits of heirship filed that he was the sole beneficiary. His brother did not appreciate that. But we fixed that one and the brothers surprisingly showed up to closing together. How do we catch these? We get death notices. We google obituaries. We get “gut” feelings.

We frequently need to escrow funds at these closings until the time has passed for any creditors to file claims against the estate of the deceased. The statutory time will vary depending upon whether or not there has been a Probate, the date of death, and several other factors. Unfortunately many people make plans to spend their money before they get it. Some have signed contracts for the purchase of another home.

PLEASE let your beneficiary sellers know that they need to contact the closing attorney to discuss when their funds can be disbursed to them.

Another thing we’ve seen more than usual is people selling property that has been in their family for generations. Everyone in the family knows who is supposed to own great-great grandma’s house. Nothing is documented. We have to extract all the information we can from the family members, follow family trees, get death certificates, affidavits of heirship, and have sometimes require a Probate be filed for muniment of title if a Will can be located. What that means is that the Will is only filed to prove ownership of a property.

A couple of other things I would like to touch on.

If the property is in a trust or is being conveyed to a trust, the buyer or seller needs to be prepared to send the closing attorney a copy of the full trust agreement. There are different types of Trust, and depending upon how it is structured the closing documents may require the signatures of people other than your buyer or seller.

If the property is owned by an entity such as an LLC or corporation, or is being purchased by an LLC or corporation, they need to be prepared to send a copy of their filed Articles of Organization or Charter, together with other company documentation. We need to determine that that entity is active and in good standing and who has the authority to sign the closing documents.

If it is investment property please let the closing attorney know it is investment property and whether it is occupied or vacant. A copy of the leases and a current rent roll will be required on occupied investment property.

Finally, fraud. I could go on for days about fraud. It’s a constant battle.

Wire fraud is running rampant. It is not in your best interest to request wiring instructions from the closing attorney to forward to your customer. They get intercepted by the crooks, changed, and then sent on to your client. It happens frequently and it happens everywhere. Let the closing agency send the wiring instructions directly to your client securely with instructions. Please communicate this to your buyers. They should NEVER hesitate to call the closing attorneys office at the number you know is to that office to verify any emails they get. ESPECIALLY wiring instructions.

New fraud – there are now fraudulent loan payoff statements being sent out to closing agencies. I’ve seen them and they look real.

Forged deeds – primary targets are vacant houses without liens on them. I’ve come across my fair share of them and they are not an easy fix.

Stealing entities – if title is held in an entity and they allow that entity to go inactive for failure to file annual reports or not being current with the Department of Revenue someone can swoop in and open a new entity with the same name. Then they try to sell the properties that were actually owned by the entity that went inactive.

We attend seminars and webinars that give us tools to fight fraud to the best of our ability.

Where do the buyers and sellers live? Will they be available to attend closing? This is a VERY important detail that we frequently do not get until a day or two before the closing date. We have more closings than ever with people that are unable to attend their closing and have ways to work with this. But we need to know as soon as possible from the contract effective date.

In conclusion –

I have had to have many difficult conversations with clients. Most of the time they listen calmly and ask any questions they may have. Sometimes it doesn’t go so well at first. Depending upon the issue they can get embarrassed, defensive and sometimes even lash out. There’s been a few times people have totally freaked out and I’ve been yelled at, cursed at, told that things are none of mine or anyone else’s business and that they are walking away from the deal. I let them vent. Then I tell them I understand how stressful this is, remind them that they have a team behind them, we are on their team, and are working with them to make this happen for them. I also explain that we are not forcing them to do or disclose anything. This is part of the closing process and it is their choice if they want to close. If they are still too upset to go any further I tell them to think about what I’ve said and what they want to do and I will reach back out to them later. I believe I’m at or close to 100% of them calming down, apologizing (which I tell them is not necessary) and working with me and their agent towards a successful closing. It’s important that they know we are on their team, we are not judgmental and are working with them, not against them.

Communication is the key. Communicate with your agent and lender and your closing attorneys. There really is no such thing as a silly question and we appreciate an overabundance of caution.


3rd segment following 9:30 break about 9:35 am to 9:45 am


More steps to prepare for your mortgage and other financial plans

  1. Your Credit

Improving your credit score can position you into better price breaks for your mortgage. Depending on the loan amount you will be borrowing, adding 100 points to your credit score can save you hundreds of dollars on your monthly mortgage payment. That could mean you save tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage.

I am not a licensed credit report company, but being in the mortgage business over 25 years had taught me a few things about cause and effect in getting credit scores higher.

Most everyone knows to make every payment on time. Don’t let medical bills or student loans bills languish unpaid. Unpaid bills usually end up in collection account which holds your credit scores down.

Customers who keep the balances down under 30% of their credit limit for their revolving credit lines like credit cards, usually see their credit scores move up quickly.

Stay away from 12-months-same-as-cash. These accounts score as maxed out credit cards and can plummet your credit scores really fast.

Tip to the Wise: If you can’t get your credit scores any higher in time to purchase your home or refinance, you might want to try a government mortgage program like FHA, VA or USDA. The government loan programs do not tend to penalize you as strongly for lower scores.

Call me about this. I am happy to help you explore loan programs for the one that fits you best.

2. Your budget—know what you can afford. Brenna and Brandon Bothem—A Better Life on a Budget but not Without Roadblocks


Brenna and Brandon were so different in some ways and so like-minded in other ways. Brenna lived life in full color as a graphic designer. She was happiest painting beautiful pictures and creating catchy videos and ads for business owners to promote their brands. Brandon, on the other hand, thought in a more concrete reality. As an engineer, he could vividly imagine creating something, but he thrived with math and measurements. Brenna and Brandon could both visual clearly a life they wanted together. They could see themselves, one day having ample funds to travel and experience being in cultures around the world. Brandon looked at their finances, shaking his head. “Our travel dreams will never come true unless we build that reality into our budget and our bank accounts.”

Problems to overcome:

Rents were going up every year with no end in sight.

Competition was still with multiple offers from other would-be homebuyers on the home the Bothem’s wanted. The Bothem’s did not have enough money to close without emptying their emergency fund. The payment on the houses they wanted would blow their budget and they would never be able to get ahead. But, renting was not an option either because the increasing rents were breaking their budget too.

Brenna and Brandon were renting and paying more and more each year to the landlord . With rent rates soaring around the country with no end in sight, Brandon and Brenna Bothem connected with local realtor and a loan officer to buy a house. After making several offers over a period of a couple of months, the Bothems finally got their offer accepted.

The loan officer showed the Bothem’s a way to get qualified with down payment assistance program, leaving money for them to move and keep an emergency fund.

Brenna and Brandon had a clear vision of what they wanted their life to look like and the house they purchased was not their dream home. “We can make it beautiful,” Brenna told the realtor. “It is just the leverage we will need one day when we move up to our dream home,”Brandon stated hopefully. The house was a little smaller than they originally wanted but they planned to finish out the area above the garage for Brenna to have a small studio. Brandon would have the garage to work on projects.

Before Brenna and Brandon started shopping for houses, they charted every expense over the last six months, listing the expense in designated categories. To reduce their expenditures without giving up their quality of life, the two of them thought outside the box for ways to find what they needed at bargain prices. They talked with friends about bartering some services to avoid having to pay cash for them. They found ways to enjoy movie night at home with friends instead of going out to eat and to a theater. It turned out to be more fun meeting a home with friends than everyone driving to a restaurant and the to a theater or other event.

Before too long, Brenna and Brandon had a hefty emergency fund. They set up for some automatic bill-paying services. They agreed to give to their church and charity 10% of their earnings. They ask their employers to take another 10% of their earnings to go straight to a 401K retirement account and savings. The other 80% of their funds, they paid their bills and, each month they concentrated on paying down their credit cards. The pain and frustration they felt when they started budgeting turned into a swelling sense of confidence. The Budget project was becoming fun, like a game they were winning.

One day, if they took care of the house and continued saving their money, they would be able to afford the much bigger home in a different neighborhood. They joined a travel club and started taking occasional vacations at bargain prices with friends.

4th segment following 9:45 am break about 9:48 to 9:56 am

REAL ESTATE TIP OF THE WEEK ( Rob and Shelley gives a money-saving or other good tip about 1 min or so )

Real Estate Tip by Jo Garner:

After listening to Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell, chief economist for the National Assocation of Homebuilders and other notable housing market economic experts, here is the summary of what we can expect now and into 2023:

If mortgage rates go up, home prices will come down. It will cost you more per month but not so much on the price.

If mortgage rates go down, home prices will go up. It would cost you so much in mortgage interest, but you will be paying an even higher price for the home.

It is looking like buying a home will cost you LESS to buy a home now than later.


Talk Shoppe offers free networking & education to anyone interested in real estate or in business or in health and wellness. Talk Shoppe meets every Wednesday 9A-10A CT at Concorde Career College 5100 Poplar Ave 1st floor Memphis, TN (Clark Tower). You can also join the even on zoom. Go to and click the Events tab for the link to get into the event online. Mary Lou Nowak, owner of Mid-South Home Helpers will have a panel of health experts to present: “The Best You in 2023-Panel of Three Health and Wellness Experts” Mid-South Home Helpers offers non-medical assistance to your aging or handicapped loved ones so your loved ones can enjoy living safely and comfortably in their own home. (901) 414-9696.

Thank you to these sponsors who make Talk Shoppe’s free networking and education free to our community. Talk Shoppe could not offer the business building tools they offer without the special sponsors who contribute .

Thank you to Peggy Lau of Club Seacret, for your contribution to our business community. Make great memories on quality vacations with people you love. Even better, you get to take these vacations at bargain prices. Call Peggy at 901 289-0747

Thank you to Suzan David of for your contribution to support our business community. Suzan David can design your web page and social media messages with the power of story to build loyalty to your from your target customers. Connect with Suzan David today at

  1. Jack Redden’s Challenge: Who do you know at work, your business network, your family who is alone or suffering a loss? Spend time with that person over coffee this holiday. Be the friend that person really needs. You may never know this side of heaven the value of this time spent being a friend. Jack Redden was killed in a car accident in 2012, but his challenge to us lives on.

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QUOTE CORNER: “You were born to win, but to be a winner you must plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win .” Zig Ziglar



  1. Mark McLaurine, Refrigeration Unlimited (901) 216-7782

  2. Kelly Inman, Next Day Access (modifying homes for handicapped access) (901) 258-2626

  3. Leah Anne Morse for CARTRIDGE WORLD OF COLLIERVILLE (901) 853-3230

Transitional Music: “You’re Doin’ It Right” by Rodney Atkins; “Get Ready” by the Temptations; “The Story of Your Life” by Matt West; “Memphis” by Johnny Rivers for the Look Back Memphis Trivia Contest


An essential guide for real estate professionals and their customers.

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(901) 752-1133


WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH WITH YOUR MORTGAGE? (901) 482 0354 twitter @jogarner NMLS# 757308

(currently working with Cardinal Financial Company, Limited Partnership NMLS #66247 equal housing opportunity 2645 Appling Rd 102 Memphis, TN 38133 ) Online loan application for licensing info “Whatever YOUR personal priorities are, my job is to help you get the mortgage terms that will give you bragging rights when you talk about it and help you score on hitting your goals .”

As a mortgage loan officer, my job is to help you get to the benefits you want from your financing terms. What is most important to you? I can help you find the financing terms that will help you get to what you want. What is your comfort level on a house payment? How much are you comfortable paying down,? What type of financing do you need to get the house you want to buy or refinance?

Different clients have different priorities in life—some are buying their first home with very little down payment funds. Some are recovering from medical challenges, divorces or preparing to send children to college and some are embarking on a long term goal of buying properties to build rental income.”

Jo Garner is a mortgage officer with extensive knowledge in tailoring mortgages to her customers who are refinancing or purchasing homes all over the country. She offers conventional, FHA, VA or other loan programs for refinancing and purchases.

Jo can help you look at rent vs buy, when it makes sense to refinance, how to get the best deal on your home purchase financing.

Jo Garner has been in the real estate/financing business for over 25 years.  She grew up in West Tennessee and got her start in real estate in Portland, Maine where she first began her real estate career. She received her real estate education from the University of Southern Maine  and was personally mentored in San Diego, California  by Robert G. Allen, author of Nothing Down, Creating Wealth and The Challenge.

On moving back to West Tennessee in 1987, she went into business buying and selling discounted owner-financed notes secured on real estate.  In 1990 Jo went to work for a residential mortgage company and has been a mortgage loan officer for over 25 years.  Her goal is to offer excellent, affordable service to her customers, tailoring the loan programs to the specific needs of her clients. 

In addition to her work in the mortgage field, Jo Garner  is the primary sponsor and founder of Talk Shoppe in Memphis. Jo Garner also host the radio show Real Estate Mortgage Shoppe airing on News Radio AM 600 WREC and iHeart Radio with podcasts and show notes published on Pick up Jo Garner’s book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble “Choosing the Best Mortgage-The Quickest Way to the Life You Want”