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No dues dollars are
ever used to market MTA
Editor: Elizabeth A. Bejoian
The MTA Advantage is published three times a year as
a supplement to MTA Today by MTA Benefits, Inc.
“The rules have changed,” said Paul
Gershkowitz, first vice president of
retail lending for Berkshire Bank Home
Lending, a partner in the MTA Mortgage
Program. “Today’s tougher mortgage
standards call for more paperwork and
documentation. First-time buyers should
seek out a mortgage consultant to help
them with the lending process six to 12
months ahead of buying a home. Getting
information as early as possible can help
MTA members save a lot of money over
Gershkowitz pointed out that MTA
Mortgage Program professionals at
Berkshire Bank educate buyers about the
process and explain how to prepare for it
so members can achieve the best possible
outcome. Being knowledgeable before
the process starts is essential to
pulling it all together, he said.
Without professional help, the
experience can become daunting —
and more expensive — for the buyer.
“In the past, consumers got similar
rates and closing costs, regardless
of factors like credit scores and
down payments,” Gershkowitz said.
“Now, loan pricing and interest
rate quotes are made based on each
consumer’s risk factors. The stronger
the consumer, the better the rate and
transaction costs. The higher the
credit score, the more a member
Looking at finances
“Credit scores and stable income
are major factors in obtaining a loan
and keeping payments low,” said
Gershkowitz. “Buyers may need
to improve their credit by reducing
or restructuring debt, or even by
establishing a successful credit record.
That takes time. They also need to
have enough money for a down
payment. A large down payment
and a high credit score are going to
translate into a low rate, one that could mean
savings of tens of thousands of dollars over
the life of the loan.”
A mortgage consultant can point out ways
that buyers can save in order to make a more
significant down payment. The mortgage
professional will also explain other fees and
costs associated with buying and owning a
home, such as property insurance, real estate
taxes and closing costs.
The consultant can provide information on
what price range the member will qualify for
and what a comfortable payment might be.
Even though the homebuyer might be eligible
for a larger loan amount, Gershkowitz said,
the buyer must budget comfortably and
realistically for mortgage payments and
The preapproval process is more formal and
important than the prequalification process.
Preapproval verifies a homebuyer’s credit,
finances, employment and ability to qualify
for a mortgage. This strengthens the buyer’s
position when making an offer.
Types of loans
“Many loans are available to first-time
homebuyers,” said Gershkowitz. “Banks
need to show reinvestment in the community,
and loans favorable to first-time homebuyers
demonstrate that commitment.”
An FHA loan, insured by the Federal Housing
Administration, is a favorite of first-time
homebuyers. It requires a very low down
payment of approximately 3. 5 percent.
Conventional loans, veterans’ loans, USDA
loans and other options are available.
MTA Mortgage Program
MTA members enjoy all of these
advantages through the MTA
; Reduced monthly payments
through low-interest-rate programs ; A wide range of programs,
including low down payment
options for first-time homebuyers ; FREE prequalification and
FREE preapproval ; FREE flood certification ; Reduced appraisal fees ; Capped attorneys’ fees
Direct line to Paul Gershkowitz
“MTA members are welcome to
contact me for more information
at 866.475.HOME (4663), ext.
125,” said Gershkowitz. “I’m
available to help first-time and
other homebuyers get an early
start on the mortgage process.”
Some past homeowners
can be first-time
A first-time homebuyer is defined as
someone who has not had ownership of
a property for the past three years.