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October 2018

why real estate agents fail

9 Tips to Put Your Realtor Career Back on Track

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If you’re a successful MN Realtor, you may not often ask why real estate agents fail. If your career has stalled, however, check out these nine tips to help you get back on track.

Don’t Get Complacent

Failing Realtor Easy Job

First, we have to warn you to be aware of how your market works. Did you know that 93 percent of real estate deals are done by on seven percent of your colleagues? In other words, you may be one of the large group of agents that are fighting for seven percent of the business. Don’t ever think that times are so good that you will always have enough business, because a bad economy can knock you down in a hurry. To be better positioned for a downturn, and to help you be the best you can be, follow these guidelines:

Back to Basics

You don’t have a “normal” job — you have a lifestyle. You have to learn how to use the best productivity apps to get things in motion. Plus, it’s all about you, and if prospective clients don’t like you for any reason, they will go elsewhere. Cultivate and develop your personal brand and realize that it’s your job to make clients happy; while you’re in it for the money, that money will flow faster if you put your clients’ needs first. Treat your clients right and you won’t need to spend your spare time taking paid online surveys for extra bucks.

Remember — this can be one of the greatest careers on earth (just click play below and find out why).

It IS Your Job

So your contract says the clients have to prepare for an open house, and when you get there, you see a mess in the kitchen with a load of dirty dishes. Great Realtors step in and fix the issue without lecturing the client or referring back to the contract. Do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Respect the Big Picture

A string of unclosed deals doesn’t mean you are a failure. If you really want to know why real estate agents fail, one reason is that that they become mired in a few deals that have not closed. Your next listing will turn out better!

You Can’t Cancel

Clients can cancel meetings, but you can’t. Always be where you say you are going to be, and don’t be late. Client-facing time is invaluable, so don’t waste any opportunities.

Don’t Over Promise

A Realtor had a lead on a condo listing. He told the client, “OK, I’ll be there with my maintenance guy and my lead painter. We’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to get your unit ready for sale.” When the Realtor met the client at the property, the agent was alone, and said, “Sorry, my guys were stuck on another job and couldn’t make it.” No client wants to hear the words, Well, what had happened was…” This Realtor instantly lost his credibility.

Learn How Marketing Works Today

Real Estate Marketing

You can’t just read an AdWords article and expect to be able to do a proper AdWords campaign. Learn what your Facebook page needs to look like in order to be effective. Do you know what social media really consists of? Do you have an up-to-date website? If you move slowly in a fast-paced world, you’ll quickly find out why real estate agents fail.

Be Available

Some clients like to talk by phone. Others prefer email. Some like to text. Some use platforms like Slack to instant message. Can you do all of this stuff correctly and efficiently?

Know Your Market

Real Estate Market Trends

That’s a no-brainer, right? Check this out: You just sold a big suburban home for a wealthy client, but they have a campus-area four-family that they want to get out of. You took the listing, but frankly, you know nothing about that area of town. If you don’t want to be on the list of why real estate agents fail, make sure you do your homework quickly and learn that neighborhood, or you may be a one hit wonder.

All businesses and careers have rough patches. Make sure you can get through bad times by getting back to the basics and ensuring that you are consistent  and well-liked by your clients. And remember, just as good times don’t last forever, a period of slower sales will improve if you are diligent.

Five Renovations That Add Value to Your House

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The title of this post should really be “Five Renovations That Add Value to Your House THIS Year in YOUR Local Real Estate Market.” The five best projects to do before you sell will depend on the year and your location. That said, home renovations on a budget can take a lot of work. 

Health/safety issues and other big red flags should always top the list. If the roof leaks, your foundation cracked, or the walls contain mold, solve these problems.

After that, invest renovation dollars in appearance and the impression your house makes. Do the research: check the 2018 Cost vs. Value Report, and ask your realtor how to be competitive in your market.

home renovations on a budget

Curb Appeal is Out in Front

A house makes its first impression from the curb out front, which is why Curb Appeal consistently ranks #1 for Return on Investment. A lush lawn, for example, whether it needs reseeding or grooming, will repay what you put into it. As will well-tended plants and an inviting front door area with fresh details and good lighting.

The Cost vs. Value Report recommends some other projects for 2018. Replacing the garage door had the highest increase in ROI, up 18.6%. Outdoor living space has been a buyers’ priority in recent years, so the ROI for adding a wood deck is now up 17.7%. And, the report says, stone veneer is currently popular.

Kitchens and Bathrooms Count

Good kitchens and baths add value: People spend time in those rooms every day, and buyers often don’t want to take on expensive remodels. But buyers also don’t expect a house to be brand new, so you can add value without a full renovation.

The cost-conscious 2018 Report suggests that a little renovation is enough, and inexpensive small projects add up. Fresh paint, a new faucet, new lighting fixtures, and simple, matching pulls on cabinets and drawers go a long way, while refinishing cabinets costs much less than replacing them.

It’s important to ask your agent about the market before you make plans for home renovations on a budget. If comparable homes for sale all have granite countertops, you might need to invest to keep up.

Energy and Weather Upgrades

What is true for countertops is also true for energy upgrades. You might assume, for example, that today solar power and panels are always a winner. If everyone around you does have them, that’s one thing. But if not, think carefully about this renovation.

In some climates, solar panels just can’t bring ROI. They can even turn buyers off because technology changes so rapidly; like the latest phone, home technology becomes yesterday’s news fast. Also, leased panels add to the monthly payment. Realtors have found this added cost discourages buyers despite the panels’ money-saving potential.

However, no matter where in the world you live, there are always ways to make your home more energy efficient.

Depending on your climate, good weather-proofing around doors and windows, and servicing or replacing the HVAC system, can be a better investment. Attic insulation, where applicable, has always had high ROI. Some communities even offer free energy-efficiency assessments and advice that can help you add value.

Wonderful Wood

The wood floor remains eternally popular, for practical and aesthetic reasons. If you have wood floors, refurbishing them to look their best is worth the investment. You may not get full ROI, but floors are a large visual in any house, and beautiful wood floors have a “wow” factor.

If you don’t have wood floors, you may want to invest in them, or in laminates that resemble wood but cost less. After all, you are moving out, and it’s important to think like a salesperson.

Home Renovations on a Budget

Whatever home renovations on a budget that you choose, don’t underestimate decluttering, deep-cleaning, and staging. Realtors agree they are key steps to presenting a home that prospective buyers can imagine living in, and that is what sells houses.

All your personal stuff, signs of everyday life, and anything other than minimal, fairly neutral décor, needs to disappear. Let people see the house itself, a house where they could potentially live, rather than the house where you live. Remember to declutter closets and storage areas, too, to highlight their spaciousness.

Deep-clean the house from ceiling to floor, including washing walls, cabinet corners, and inside appliances. Buyers will notice and like sparkling cleanliness, which often does increase their offers, adding real value. Don’t neglect smells as part of your cleaning.

Staged homes consistently sell more quickly and for more money than empty homes. You or a professional stager can arrange rooms for easy flow and to display the lifestyle the house offers. Emphasize features like fireplaces and views, and define “extra” rooms as offices, family spaces, etc. Create vignettes that give spaces atmosphere and tell a story. These steps matter outside as well, so declutter and groom your landscaping, and stage outdoor living areas.

No amount of renovation will compensate for a cluttered, dirty house. And these three steps are the frosting on the cake of your other home renovations on a budget.

If you’re looking for a home to get started in Minnesota — contact us today!

saving for a minnesota house

10 Tips to Start Saving for a House in Minnesota

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Unless you can get a VA no-down payment loan, you are going to work on saving money for a house for a first home deposit. Conventional mortgages usually require at least five percent down, and FHA loans will ask for three percent. If you are buying a second home or if you have compromised credit, you will have to come up with more cash. Let’s look at some ways to accumulate that elusive down payment when you are saving money for a house, including those awesome side gigs.

Saving for a house

Image via

Treat Money Wisely

You don’t necessarily have to go on the peanut butter only diet to save cash, but with some commodities like milk, the bottom of the shelf brand that the stores try to hide is probably the same product as the more expensive nationally branded milk. Try it, and if it tastes the same, buy the cheaper brand and you’ll save money every week.

Pay Yourself

According to SavingLoop, “it’s important to set up a bi-weekly direct deposit to a savings account—same as a deduction taken from your check. You won’t feel it, and you will accumulate dollars fast.”

Ditch the Corvette

Saving Money with Kia

*Save money with a Kia lease

Get a sensible car that is reliable. Think KIA Soul, and if you can drive a manual transmission, you can lease one of these for under $200 per month.

Become a Landlord

Rent your garage or an extra bedroom and pick up cash monthly. This strategy really helps saving for a house. Let’s say you have an apartment in an area like Uptown, well, maybe you have a money-making opportunity on your hands. Rent it out!

Sell It to Start Saving for a House

Old cards, vintage guitars and collectibles that you never will use can sometimes fetch great prices. If you are not using it, turn it into cash.

Don’t Be a Walmart Snob

Stuff is cheaper there and you can really save some money at Costco. It really is. That $4.50 two-ounce tube of cortisone cream you just bought at CVS is probably sold at Walmart for two bucks. Check out dollar stores as good retail alternatives also, and saving for a house will be less of a hassle.

Saving for a house with Costco

Get a Side-Hustle to Start Saving for a House

This means a second income stream. Cut lawns, wash cars, walk dogs, babysit, work catering gigs; just find out what else you are good at beside your regular job and work a few extra hours.

Locate Your Rich Uncle

Your family may include someone that will loan you down payment cash. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Buy a Smaller House

If your dream home is out of reach, go intermediate and buy a smaller or starter home. Treat it nicely and in a few years, you can sell it and move on up.

Find a Duplex


If you have only saved a minimum down payment, find a duplex where you can rent the other side. While this falls into the starter home category, think of the advantages that having someone else paying half of your mortgage will afford you.

All in all, there are a ton of ways to save money; we’re not saying one is better than the other. A lot of people use really cool apps like Digit, but there are a ton of ways you can do it, too.

As you know we, at C4D really hope you can get traditional financing. But if you can’t, be sure to let us know. Yes, we also require down payments, but our innovative use of MN Contract for Deed has allowed us to help many that had previously thought home ownership was impossible. Be sure to contact us!

Most Affordable Cities in the United States

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So, you’ve lived in Minnesota all of your life, but you’re ready for a change?

Do you want the ambiance of safe living in a large city with the feel, affordability, and safety of living in a small town? Then, you might want to look at a lesser-known city like Arlington, TX or Pittsburgh, PA. 

Here are three awesome cities that fly under the radar. We think you will agree, these are cities worth exploring.

Example of How We Rate a City: Arlington, TX

What makes a city a good place to live? We look at the following criteria before we endorse a city:

    • Cost of living
    • Educational facilities
    • Diversity of the population
  • Entertainment

Cost of living

The cost of living in Arlington is lower than most major cities in the United States. The single factor that makes the cost of living higher than other cities in Texas is the price of home ownership. However, Arlington is a very nice city to live in and many people bypass that hurdle by living in a luxury apartment in Arlington Apartments.

Opting for apartment living reduces the monthly cost of living. When you factor in the maintenance of keeping a home while you are building your career, your cost of living is much lower. There is no such thing as free money, but you can certainly try to make things easier on yourself!


Arlington comes in the top 200 public schools in the United States. Many of Arlington’s residents are furthering their education at the University of Texas Arlington or one of the 36 colleges and universities that are within a 50-mile radius of Arlington Center. There are 2-year and 4-year schools as well as trade schools.

Diversity of population

There are 392,787 people living in Arlington. Across the board the diversity of people is close to equal. The three primary races that make up the numbers are White people, 39.8%, Hispanic people, 29.7% and Black people 35.3%.

There is a significant number of people in their mid-30’s but, with a student body of more than 10,000 people at University of Texas, there is a large population of people in their early adult years.


Arlington is the home of Globe Life Park Baseball stadium and the A.T.&T. Football stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys.) This is just two sports stadiums in Arlington. There are many more. So if you love sports, you will love Arlington.

Arlington features Six Flags of Texas amusement park. While this park is the most popular, it is by far not the only amusement center in the city. Click here for a list of the top 10 amusement parks in the area.

Due to the fact that Arlington if just a few miles from Dallas, there are many world-class museums, art galleries, and a booming nightlife.

If you are a person who loves fine dining, you will love this city. Try Restaurant 506 if you want great American food. Chamas Do Brazil is the place to go for Brazilian Steak. One of our favorites is Taste of Europe. They serve Polish, Russian, and Eastern European food.

There are plenty of restaurants that features every type of food from Asian to Greek. There are many family-style restaurants and of course, every kind of fast food you can imagine.

Charlotte, NC

If you want to live in the most upcoming city in the United States, you need to head to Charlotte. There are many reasons why Charlotte is so popular. You can describe Charlotte in one word; diversity!


Charlotte is the melting pot. Industry is drawn to the area because it is a hub. This makes it easy and profitable to produce and distribute product in Charlotte. Of course, where there is industry, there are employees. Employment is available, as is housing, and public transportation.


There are 40 colleges and universities within 25 miles of Charlotte, including University of North Carolina. The NCES rates the 2 and 4-year colleges have the highest education rate in the country.

There are 113 public schools and 128 private schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district. Charlotte has above average ratings in their overall

Diversity of population

Charlotte has a diverse population. There are 45% white, 35% black, and hispanic, asian, Native American and many other ethnic groups are represented.


Charlotte is well known for their museum’s variety of world-famous collections of art. However, there are many more museums in this beautiful city. Enjoy science, history, discovery, and racing museums. Click here for more information and details.

Charlotte is breathtakingly beautiful. It draws nature lovers and adventurers. There are nature hikes and trails for every level of hiker.

The entire family will enjoy the theme parks that feature the highest roller coaster in the country and the largest man-made white-water river. Motor sports are very popular and they are the home of the motorsports hall of fame.

Enjoy high-end restaurants that feature gourmet food from around the world, family dining, and plenty of fast-food venues near the activity centers.

Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh is a historical city in the western part of the state of Pennsylvania. When you think of Pittsburgh, three things come to mind. They are history, traditional and modern art, and the Pittsburgh Steelers football team.

There are many other attributes of this city. Let’s look at a few of them.


According to research done by sites that Pittsburgh schools at every level score very highly.

There are 29 colleges and universities within the greater Pittsburgh area. The top college for 2018 and 2019 is Carnegie Mellon University. There are also many trade schools. No matter what path one chooses to take, they can get the education they need to succeed.

Students report that Pittsburgh is a safe area, and the diversified student body gives them a unique opportunity to meet people of different cultures.

Cost of living

It may surprise you to know that Pittsburgh is rated as one of the most affordable cities to live in. The city is beautiful. It is built where three rivers join. Their reputation for historic sites and art make us immediately associate the city with money.

Commerce is alive and well in Pittsburgh. They have a massive and impressive list of corporations, so jobs are plentiful. They have an unemployment rate of only 3.9%. Housing is not a problem.


As mentioned there is a large network of various types of museums. Sports are big in Pittsburgh with football being the top of the heap. The diverse citizens contribute to the many types of foods you can enjoy at every level.

With the colleges and universities in the city, there are plenty of young adults who want to party. Pittsburgh has a thriving and exciting nightlife. Whether you want to throw back a few beers with the guys or go for wine and dancing, it is available to you.

All in all, Pittsburgh fits comfortably into our top three places to live.

Other cities that made our list

Based on the same criteria, here is a list of other cities around the country that we consider to be on this level. We encourage you to do your own research. Plan a trip to a city that you are interested in and go for it. Don’t go by what other people say. Gather your information based on what you are interested in. You will not be disappointed.

    • St. Louis, Missouri
    • Kansas City Missouri
    • Lafayette, Louisiana
  • Syracuse, New York

Final thoughts

There are good attributes and bad in every city. Based on our research, any of these cities have a lot to offer. We encourage you to do your research. We recommend you start with this list. You may find exactly what you are looking for.

First Time Minnesota Home Buyer Programs

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While you may think that you are at a disadvantage being a first time home buyer, there are Minnesota first time home buyer programs that can assist you. First, let’s talk about the difference between being a first-time buyer and a multiple-time home buyer.

The U.S. government and the State of Minnesota both want everyone to be able to participate in the American Dream of home ownership, but they realize that there are barriers to entry. One of the biggest problems is the ability to accumulate a large enough down-payment. Initial down-payment requirements can range from zero to 10 percent or more. Ten percent on a $200,000 home is $20,000, and that can be difficult for a new buyer to come up with.

What Do You Know About Closing Costs

Another issue is closing costs, even with Minnesota first time home buyer programs. If you have good credit (yes, you can still buy with bad credit), and you are offered a credit card, there are usually no fees involved. Even with some personal and auto loans, there can be very in fees required to complete the transaction. Look, however, at this list of closing costs for a residential home loan:



Loan Origination Fee

$2,500 (1%)

Discount Fee $625 (0.25%)
Processing Fee $450
Underwriting Fee $500
Wire Transfer $25-$50

Credit Report


Tax Service $50
Flood Certification $20
Title Insurance $550
Escrow/Signing $450
Courier Fee $20
Appraisal $450
Recording $110

Homeowner’s Insurance first year premium

6 Months’ Property Tax Reserves


Those are a substantial amount of potential fees, and closing costs can easily rise to almost $10,000 in some transactions. Yes, you can try and get the seller to pay for some of these, but again, closing costs can be a problem to overcome. Luckily, there are Minnesota first-time home buyer programs in place to help.

National First Time Home Buyer Programs

First let’s talk about national programs. VA loans are available for veterans and they require no minimum credit score, low down-payment requirements, and do not require PMI or private mortgage insurance. There usually is a VA funding fee, however. If you are a veteran, first look to the VA, as this is one of the most advantageous programs out there.

If you’re not a veteran, you can investigate FHA Minnesota first-time home buyer programs. FHA loans can usually be done with only a three percent down-payment requirement. Even if you have a very low credit score, you still can possibly get a loan with a higher down-payment rate however.

Minnesota First Time Home Buyer Programs

Minnesota First Time Home Buyer Programs

According to our friends a, “As a [Minnesota] first-time home buyer, you may benefit from loan programs offered by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, or Minnesota Housing. If you’re eligible for these programs, you’ll also have access to down payment and closing cost assistance. Minnesota Housing defines a first-time home buyer as anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three years; however, certain programs are available to repeat buyers as well.”

Check out this site for further information.

What Are The Alternatives?

As we have consistently mentioned, we like traditional financing and hope that you are approved for it. But even if some of the available Minnesota first-time home buyer programs don’t work for you, please contact us at C4D. We are Minnesota contract for deed experts, and we have ways to provide the path for home ownership that others do not.

Tips to Find Money for Your Down Payment

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Buying a home sometimes seems impossible. For starters, how do you come up with money for a down payment? Should you get first time home buyer down payment assistance? And what does that even mean? Well, let’s get into the details.

If you don’t own your own home now, let’s say you’re leasing an expensive place in the ever-popular Austin, Texas, then you’re probably paying rent to someone. In many cases, that rent payment would probably be the same as a home mortgage payment; the only problem is, you usually need a down payment in order to qualify for a mortgage. Some reasons for this are:

  • It protects the lender. If you default, at least they have received some cash.
  • It shows you will be motivated to pay the mortgage because you have skin in the game.
  • It shows that you can save money while at the same time paying your bills.

Even if you are buying a home using an FHA mortgage, you’ll still have to come up with at least three percent of the purchase price, and with a $350,000 home, this can still be over $10,000. So how do you go from zero to $10,000 relatively quickly? What first time homebuyer down payment assistance is available?

first time home buyer down payment assistance

First Time Home Buyer Down Payment Assistance Gifts

It is completely legal for someone to gift you your down payment assistance for first time home buyers, and the way tax laws work, relatives can give you up to $15,000 tax free. They could also give that amount to your spouse, so taxes are not an issue. If you do use gift money for a down payment, the lender is going to want to track it, so make sure that this transaction is completely transparent.

Consistently Save and Start Early

Just as interest compounds on credit cards and student loans (advice here if you need help with those overbearing student loans), the magic of compounding works the other way also. Save $100 per month at an average rate of four percent, and you will have $14,983.62 at the end of ten years. So, if you start saving when you are 16 years old, you’ll have a nice down payment at age 26 and you won’t be looking for first time homebuyer down payment assistance.

There are also many sites out there, much like our friends at the Saving Expert, that will help you get your finances on track. And don’t forget about that side hustle; online jobs can be a huge help!

Compound Interest


Check out what the State of Minnesota has to say about first time homebuyer down payment assistance:

“When you get a Minnesota Housing mortgage, you can also receive an optional down payment and closing cost loan up to $15,000. Down payment and closing cost loans are only available when you get a Minnesota Housing first mortgage loan and additional eligibility requirements may apply, including income limits.”

Other states have similar programs also.

Tap Your IRA

If you have a substantial IRA, it may be worth it to withdraw funds. Our friends at tell us:

“IRA withdrawals for home purchases are allowed, up to $10,000. Roth withdrawals are tax-free and without penalty if you’ve had the account for at least five years. Tapping a traditional IRA will trigger income taxes.”

Crowdfund It

Have a good story? Set up a Kickstarter or GoFundMe site and see if you can reach your goal. Again, the lender will of course want to track your down payment dollars, so make sure everything is easily documentable.

Real Estate Crowdfunding

Down payments may seem daunting, but with planning and diligence, you should be able to raise the funds to get you on the path toward home ownership.

Mortgage Loan Denial: Is This A Racial Problem?

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So, you need a down payment on a house, but you do not have handfuls and handfuls of cash to make it happen. A mortgage loan can help with that, but what if you can’t get one?

Well, many persons think that race and ethnicity are major factors in mortgage loan denials, and the following chart backs this up:

Down Payment on a House - Mortgage Denial

Others, however, feel that observed denial rates do not give the true picture, and that what is called “real” denial rates paint a truer picture:

Mortgage Denial Reporting

According to Urban Wire, “the real denial rate is still a blunt tool, because it requires the simplification of complex data and trends. It considers credit scores, loan-to-value ratios, debt-to-income ratios (DTI), and product and documentation types, but it does not consider income or income variability (we only have access to DTI; the lender will have more detailed financial information).”

Mortgage Loan Denial: Racial Profiling?

Statistics can be molded to show whatever authors want them to show, and both charts seem to portray that more minorities are denied mortgages than whites. Of course, there could be many reasons for this, and the raw data just does not tell us what that is.

Some think, however, that if a person of color walks into a mortgage lender’s office—even if they have a down payment on a house–the would-be borrower is automatically subjected to a higher level of scrutiny that then causes them to become credit denied. While this can be possible, these anomalies don’t guide the way we do business at C4D.

Down Payment on a House: We Can Help

Whether you are Asian, white, black, Hispanic or a Native American, we just don’t care. We know that good people can simply have bad credit problems. We understand that your credit rating may have been injured because:

  • You lost a job within the last year.
  • You have a lot of student loan debt.
  • Your credit cards are maxed out.
  • You got a divorce.
  • You owe taxes to the state.
  • You have legal judgments against you.
  • You declared Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  • You defaulted on a personal loan.
  • You faced foreclosure.
  • You don’t have a large enough down payment on a house.

There can be many other reasons that you may not qualify for traditional financing, but we at C4D are here to help you. We utilize a very innovative program called MN contract for deed. It works like this:

  • You find a house.
  • We buy it.
  • We sell it to you on a MN contract for deed basis.
  • We keep the deed until you make all of your payments.

Yes, you still will need a down payment on a home, but we consider things that a bank does not.

Our Process to Help with Your Down Payment on a House

Down Payment Assistance

Fill out our online application, and we will evaluate your situation. If there is any way we can help you, we will first talk on the phone, and then we will get together personally. We do work with a local bank, and the bank respects our judgment. If we can make a good case that you have a down payment on a house and that you will be able to make the payments, we do everything possible to get the deal done.

We have said it before:  We love traditional financing and wish that everyone could get a standard mortgage. If you can’t, however, don’t give up. Talk to us today!