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

67 articles written by this author

Newrez mortgage review

A top originator of home loans, but customer reviews are mixed.

Kat Aoki 21 July 2021
Newrez mortgage review

First Community Credit Union mortgage review

Offers mortgages and home equity products, but loan availability varies by state.

Kat Aoki 19 July 2021
First Community Credit Union mortgage review

Opportunity Bank mortgage review

A community bank with first-time homebuyer programs, but it’s only available in Montana.

Kat Aoki 5 July 2021
Opportunity Bank mortgage review

Stockman Bank mortgage review

A top agricultural real estate lender, but state availability is limited.

Kat Aoki 2 July 2021
Stockman Bank mortgage review

Arbor Financial Credit Union mortgage review

Offers competitive rates on mortgages and refinances, but it’s only available in Michigan.

Kat Aoki 2 July 2021
Arbor Financial Credit Union mortgage review

BankPlus mortgage review

Offers mobile home loans, but it’s only available in a few Southern states.

Kat Aoki 30 June 2021
BankPlus mortgage review

Bank of the West home equity review

Offers reduced-rate, no-closing-cost HELOCs, but only in specific states.

Kat Aoki 25 June 2021
Bank of the West home equity review

Union Bank home equity review

Offers no annual fee, discounted HELOCs — but locations are limited.

Kat Aoki 23 June 2021
Union Bank home equity review

Sikorsky Credit Union mortgage review

Offers competitive rates on its home loans, but it’s only available in Connecticut.

Kat Aoki 17 June 2021
Sikorsky Credit Union mortgage review

KeyBank home equity review

Offers reduced-rate home equity products, but it’s only available in select states.

Kat Aoki 11 June 2021
KeyBank home equity review
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