Home Authors Kat Aoki
Kat Aoki

Kat Aoki

Writer

Kat Aoki is a mortgage writer at Finder who specializes in breaking down everything you need to know before buying a home — from reviews of top lenders, to the best mortgage providers by state, to the difference between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages. And she’s no stranger to personal finance. Since 2011, she’s written hundreds of thoughtful, informative articles to help consumers make better decisions with their home loans, credit cards, insurance policies and more. Kat is also well-versed in working with leading brands in the real estate, mortgage and personal finance industries, including AMEX, Citibank, GE Money and RealEstate.com.au, among many others. She has a BS in business administration and marketing from California State University, and enjoys travel and hiking in her spare time.

Expertise

  • Mortgages
  • Home equity loans
  • Mortgage refinancing

Highlights

  • Freelance writer for over 10 years, with a focus on technology, fintech, finance, insurance and real estate verticals
  • Written hundreds of articles for industry-leading brands, including AMEX, Citibank, Lenovo, Canon, Microsoft, GE Money and Thomson Reuters
  • Created high-caliber content, e-books, infographics and email campaigns for various multinational companies and startups
  • Earned a certificate in systems programming from Computer Learning Center (CLC), and was a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) for many years

Education

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Marketing | California State University, Sacramento

Industry insights from Kat Aoki

We asked Kat to flex her expertise and answer some of our most burning questions about the state of the mortgage industry in a post-COVID world.

How much do you have to put down so you don’t have to pay private mortgage insurance?

Most conventional mortgages require you to make a minimum down payment of 20% or you must pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) on top of your regular mortgage payment. PMI is a type of insurance that protects lenders in case the borrower defaults on their home loan. However, some lenders offer special loan programs that don’t require PMI. For example, medical professional loans often have no PMI and some first-time homebuyer programs charge a higher interest rate in exchange for no PMI. That said, it’s always a good idea to compare loans and determine which will help you save the most money over the long term.

As we get closer to seeing the end of the coronavirus pandemic, do you think it's better to take out a 15- or 30-year mortgage?

The choice between a 15- year versus a 30- year loan really boils down to how much you can realistically afford to pay toward your mortgage every month. In general, it’s always better to pay off your loan faster than slower if you can afford the higher monthly payments, as it can save you tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the long run. But as the pandemic showed us, life isn’t always predictable, so you need to choose the term length and monthly payment that best fits your needs during times of financial ups and downs.

My house has significantly increased in value since 2020. Is now a good time to tap into my home equity so I can get cash out? I’d love to take a vacation.

Tapping into your home equity with a home equity loan, line of credit or cash-out refinance can give you access to cash for a range of needs. But I would advise against borrowing against your home’s equity unless you have a financially sound reason for doing it — for example, to pay for home improvements, for property or business investment purposes, for debt consolidation or to pay down high-interest student loans. Borrowing against your home equity increases your debt, which you have to pay back either now or later. When it comes to taking on more debt, it’s always important to weigh the pros and cons.

Latest articles by Kat Aoki

121 articles written by this author

Bruins Capital review: Is it a scam?

Bruins Capital review: A bait and switch scam?

Kat Aoki 15 September 2022
Bruins Capital review: Is it a scam?

FHA cash-out refinance: What to know

What is an FHA cash-out refinance and who is it best for?

Kat Aoki 13 September 2022
FHA cash-out refinance: What to know

Cleo cash advance app review

Cleo is a budgeting app offering cash advances up to $100.

Kat Aoki 18 August 2022
Cleo cash advance app review

Cash-out vs. no cash-out refinance

The choice of whether to get cash out when you refinance depends on your needs. We explain the key differences to help you narrow down your choice.

Kat Aoki 4 August 2022
Cash-out vs. no cash-out refinance

VA cash-out refinance

Lets you replace your current loan with a VA loan and get cash out.

Kat Aoki 2 July 2022
VA cash-out refinance

How an FHA Streamline Refinance works

FHA Streamline Refinance: The pros, cons and benefits to borrowers.

Kat Aoki 28 June 2022
How an FHA Streamline Refinance works

Compare HELOC rates in Florida

What to know about HELOC rates in Florida to get the best rate.

Kat Aoki 28 June 2022
Compare HELOC rates in Florida

Truist HELOC review

What to know about a Truist HELOC — before you apply.

Kat Aoki 10 June 2022
Truist HELOC review

How much are closing costs on a HELOC or home equity loan?

Do you have to pay closing costs on home equity loans and HELOCs?

Kat Aoki 10 June 2022
How much are closing costs on a HELOC or home equity loan?

HELOC and home equity loan requirements

Here’s what you need to qualify for a HELOC in 2022

Kat Aoki 10 June 2022
HELOC and home equity loan requirements
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