Home Authors Heather Petty
Heather Petty

Heather Petty

Staff writer

Heather Petty is a personal finance writer at Finder specializing in home loans, banking and insurance. After falling victim to a disreputable mortgage broker when buying her first home, she’s on a mission to help readers avoid similar experiences when managing their own finances. A self-proclaimed word nerd, her writing has been featured on MSN, Credit.com and MediaFeed.org, among others. Heather previously worked as a technical writer and editor for the casino systems industry and is an internationally published young adult mystery author. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Expertise

  • Home loans
  • Home equity products
  • Homeowners insurance

Highlights

  • Over 20 years of experience as a writer and editor
  • Skilled at breaking down technical concepts and jargon into simple, easy-to-understand terms
  • Featured on MSN, Credit.com and MediaFeed.org, among others
  • Author of nearly 200 articles covering all aspects of personal finance
  • Internationally published young adult mystery author

Education

  • Bachelor of Arts in English | University of Nevada, Reno | 1993–2000

Featured Publications

Industry insights from Heather Petty

We asked Heather to shed some light on the wild real estate market and what it means for homeowners and potential buyers — post-COVID.

Is it possible to refinance my current home equity loan to take advantage of lower interest rates and soaring home values?

If you have a good credit history, applying to refinance your existing home equity loan can help you lower your payment and interest rates. Refinancing is also a great time to shop around and make sure you’re getting the best deal with your current lender. But if your credit has seen better days, going through the refinancing process could cost you more than it saves you in the long run.

I’m over $60,000 in student loan debt, and struggling to pay it off. Will it ever be possible for me to get approved for a mortgage?

Some banks offer mortgages designed for professionals like doctors, lawyers and CPAs, which allows them to set aside student debt when qualifying for a loan. But even if you don’t fit into one of those job categories, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) under the Biden administration recently announced a change in how student loan payments are calculated for FHA loans that could help you qualify. The new underwriting rules allow mortgage lenders to use your actual student loan payment to calculate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, rather than an inflated figure that was based on the assumption that your payment would be 1% of your total student debt. That reduction in your DTI could be exactly what you need to qualify for a mortgage.

I’m still unemployed because of COVID-19 staff reductions. Can I refinance my home to lower my mortgage payments?

Possibly, but it can be difficult. If you have someone willing to sign onto your loan as a guarantor or have proof of another source of income to repay the loan, you should be able to refinance. But you also can consider special loan offerings, too. Most government-backed loans require less documentation, and the FHA offers streamlined refinancing that doesn’t require income verification. Some lenders also offer special refinancing options for low-income borrowers. If none of those options are available to you, consider alternatives to refinancing, such as loan modification or the foreclosure and forbearance relief available through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Latest articles by Heather Petty

206 articles written by this author

Lake Michigan Credit Union mortgage review

Offers low down payment and profession-based options to borrowers in a limited service area.

Heather Petty 31 August 2021
Lake Michigan Credit Union mortgage review

TD Bank home equity review

Choose from several options, but beware of this lender’s fees and poor reviews.

Heather Petty 27 July 2021
TD Bank home equity review

Embrace Home Loans mortgage review

Your closing date is guaranteed with this lender, but it doesn’t offer home equity products.

Heather Petty 20 July 2021
Embrace Home Loans mortgage review

Third Federal Savings & Loan home equity review

Get a low rate guarantee, but you won’t know if you’re eligible until you apply.

Heather Petty 20 July 2021
Third Federal Savings & Loan home equity review

PenFed Credit Union home equity review

Get a line of credit with low closing costs — but you can’t apply online.

Heather Petty 20 July 2021
PenFed Credit Union home equity review

How to start a photography business

From your marketing strategy to financing and insurance, we'll walk you through how to start a career behind the lens.

Heather Petty 15 July 2021
How to start a photography business

BECU home equity review

Get fixed- and variable-rate options in a HELOC, if you qualify for membership.

Heather Petty 9 July 2021
BECU home equity review

CrossCountry mortgage review

A partner of Costco, this lender offers savings on closing costs but no online applications.

Heather Petty 30 June 2021
CrossCountry mortgage review

Planet Home Lending mortgage review

Good for borrowers who need nontraditional credit standards and don’t mind digital lending.

Heather Petty 30 June 2021
Planet Home Lending mortgage review

AppleTree Credit Union home equity review

Get low rates with minimal fees — if you qualify for its limited membership.

Heather Petty 23 June 2021
AppleTree Credit Union home equity review
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