BBB Integrity Counts! Award Honoree

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We are very proud to be an Honoree of the 2008 Integrity Counts! award from the Southwest Idaho Better Business Bureau… as it turns out, honesty is still the best policy!  Questions?  Call 208.388.0500
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Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe…

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… is no way to pick your mortgage lender.  Most of our clients come to us by referral.  If you are using the internet to search for professional to help you with your mortgage, you should consider asking someone you trust for a referral instead. After all, if shopping for a mortgage was just about getting rate quotes, we never would have experienced a foreclosure crisis. CLICK HERE to see what people are saying about us. 

Not Your Average Mortgage Bankers

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It’s our team that makes us different.  No giant call center with a “we’ll get to you when we get to you” attitude.  We’re local folks too and it’s all about you being excited to see us when we bump into each other at the Saturday morning farmer’s market.
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Questions?  Call (208) 388-0500

It Takes a Village…

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We believe in keeping business local.  It helps the Idaho economy and it also fosters a quicker, less stressful closing.  We take pride in having relationships with some of the best Idaho REALTORS®, Title Professionals, Escrow Agents, Insurance Agents, Home Inspectors, Builders and Appraisers who are knowledgeable, ethical and share our philosophy.  Need a recommendation?  Call 208.388.0500

Feb 16

Helping Home Owners: Understanding the Property Tax Reduction Program (Circuit Breaker)

property taxesI was having dinner with a dear friend of mine who was widowed a few years back. When her husband died, she was left with a young son and limited financial resources. She is blessed to own her home free and clear, but her biggest fear is that someday they will be uprooted from their home because of an inability to afford the Idaho Property taxes. She lives  in an area of Boise with notoriously high property taxes, so I could understand her fears. Heartbreaking.

I knew about a property tax reduction for certain elderly folks, but I wasn’t sure if other low income folks might qualify and if so what the criteria  were.

After a little digging, here’s what I found out:

The Property Tax Reduction (Circuit Breaker) program reduces property taxes* for qualified applicants. Contrary to popular belief, this discount is not just for older folks! The amount of reduction is based on income for the previous calendar year. If you qualify, the property taxes on your home and up to one acre of land may be reduced by as much as $1,320.

Who Qualifies? 

According to the Idaho Tax Commission’s website, you may qualify for property tax reduction in 2015 if you:

  1. Owned and lived in a home or mobile home in Idaho that was your primary residence before April 15, 2015 (You may qualify if you lived in a care facility or nursing home. Contact your county assessor for information.), and
  2. Had income of $29,100 or less for 2014, and
  3. Met one or more of the following status requirements as of January 1, 2015:
    * Age 65 or older
    • Widow(er)
    • Blind
    • Fatherless or motherless child under 18 years of age
    • Former prisoner of war/hostage
    • Veteran with a 10% or more service-connected disability or receiving a pension from Veterans Affairs
    (VA) for a non-service-connected disability
    • Disabled as recognized by the Social Security Administration, Railroad Retirement Board, or Federal Civil
    Service

How to Apply

  1. Contact your county assessor for application materials. The office is listed under County Offices in your
    telephone directory, or you can click on this link: http://tax.idaho.gov/i-1015.cfm
  2. Complete an application. Here is a link: http://tax.idaho.gov/forms/EFO00002_01-01-2015.pdf If you have
    questions, the assessor’s office can help you. When you file your application, you must provide proof of:
    • Income
    • Medical expenses
    • The requirement(s) you meet (age 65 or older, blind, VA disability, etc.)
    • Ownership, if the property is owned by a trust or limited liability corporation (LLC)
  3. File the application with your assessor’s office by April 15. If you don’t have all of your income information, fill
    out as much of the application as you can and file it by the April 15 deadline. You must apply for your 2015
    property tax reduction between January 1 and April 15, 2015.

You must apply and qualify each year to receive this benefit. Property tax reductions are not renewed automatically. If your application is approved, your property tax reduction will appear on your December 2015 tax bill. For complete details: http://tax.idaho.gov/pubs/EBR00135_09-05-2014.pdf

* Property Tax Reduction benefits will not reduce solid waste, irrigation, or other fees charged by government entities.

Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC d/b/a Benchmark Mortgage 5160 Tennyson Pkwy STE 2000W, Plano, TX 75024. NMLS ID #2143 (www.benchmark.us) 972-398-7676. This advertisement is for general information purposes only. Some products may not be available in all licensed locations. Information, rates, and pricing are subject to change without prior notice at the sole discretion of Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC. All loan programs subject to borrowers meeting appropriate underwriting conditions. This is not a commitment to lend. Other restrictions may apply. Idaho Mortgage Broker & Lender #MBL – 4060

Jan 12

A Lender’s Perspective: 4 Reasons to Buy Before Spring

 

7635697The holiday season is behind us, time to focus on what exciting new experiences 2015 can bring! If you are planning on becoming a homeowner, or moving up to the home of your dreams in 2015, here are four great reasons to consider buying a home now, instead of waiting until spring.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 15.1% (most pessimistic) and 32.8% (most optimistic).

In Boise, the bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense. 

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year home loan have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by the end of 2015.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

Jan 05

A Lender’s Perspective: Can Boise Home Owners Have Better Success Selling in the Winter?

Most homeowners believe that the winter is not a good time to sell. This belief is based on the fact that historically the number of buyers decreases in the winter and then increases dramatically during the spring buying market.

Contrary to historical patterns, this year does not appear to be normal. Why do I say this?  An interesting pattern developed over the last few months of 2014. The number of prospective purchasers actively looking at a home (measured by foot traffic) has remained strong going into the fall… a fact that is also supported by the higher than normal number of loan applications we have received the last couple of months. As a matter of fact, the foot traffic far exceeds the numbers reported for the same months last year (see chart):

foot traffic graphic

At the same time, the National Association of Realtors revealed that the months’ supply of housing inventory has decreased from 5.5 months to 5.3. That equates to less competition for homeowners selling today as compared to next spring when many homeowners will decide to put their home on the market.

The local numbers are even lower. According to the Executive Director of the Ada County Association of Realtors, Marc Lebowitz, in Ada County we now have 3.5 months of inventory on hand, essentially unchanged from the end of July. The price categories in shortest supply are $100,000 to $119,000 which has 1.3 months; and $120,000 – $159,000 which has 1.8 months. From $200,000 to $400,000 we have 4 months available. *

Bottom Line

The supply of homes for sale has gone down, but the number of interested buyers looks higher than ever. The simple law of supply and demand predicts that this winter may be a great time to put your house on the market.

All information is the opinion of www.KeepingCurrentMatters.com. Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC d/b/a Benchmark Mortgage 5160 Tennyson Pkwy STE 2000W, Plano, TX 75024. NMLS ID #2143 (www.benchmark.us) 972-398-7676. This advertisement is for general information purposes only. Some products may not be available in all licensed locations. Information, rates, and pricing are subject to change without prior notice at the sole discretion of Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC. All loan programs subject to borrowers meeting appropriate underwriting conditions. This is not a commitment to lend. Other restrictions may apply. Idaho Mortgage Broker & Lender #MBL – 4060

 
* Resources: 
http://acarwatercooler.com/ 
www.Keepingcurrentmatters.com 

Dec 29

Harvard vs. Realtors: Who’s Right About Investing in Real Estate?

Harvard vs RealtorsThe real estate market has been on quite a roller coaster ride.  Chances are that either you or your loved ones have experienced both the ups and downs of the real estate market.  The question on many potential homebuyer’s minds is whether buying real estate is really safe… or even better than safe… is it a good investment?

Talk to Boise real estate experts and they will espouse the benefits of home ownership.  But what does the Ivy League crowd think?

Turns out they agree.

Eric Belsky is Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University. He also currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Housing Research and Housing Policy Debate. Last year, he released a paper on homeownership – The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America. In his paper, Belsky reveals five financial reasons people should consider buying a home.

Here are the five reasons Belsky says you should buy (each followed by an excerpt from the Harvard study):

1) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available.

“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”

2) You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent.

“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.”

3) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings.”

“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”

4) There are substantial tax benefits to owning.

“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income…On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”

5) Owning is a hedge against inflation.

“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition.”

Bottom Line

We realize that homeownership makes sense for many Americans for an assortment of social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially.

 

 

All information is the opinion of www.KeepingCurrentMatters.com. Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC d/b/a Benchmark Mortgage 5160 Tennyson Pkwy STE 2000W, Plano, TX 75024. NMLS ID #2143 (www.benchmark.us) 972-398-7676. This advertisement is for general information purposes only. Some products may not be available in all licensed locations. Information, rates, and pricing are subject to change without prior notice at the sole discretion of Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC. All loan programs subject to borrowers meeting appropriate underwriting conditions.  This is not a commitment to lend. Other restrictions may apply. Idaho Mortgage Broker & Lender #MBL – 4060

Dec 09

A Lender’s Perspective: The Current State of Mortgages

Are you confused about the current state of mortgages? Don’t let fear keep you on the fence… this infographic shows that getting a mortgage is getting easier and that mortgage rates are still keeping the cost of home ownership down:

Infographic - KCM - a current snapshot of mortgages 11 2014 (2)

Nov 24

Future House Prices: Looking into the Crystal Ball

 

projected home appreciationToday, many real estate conversations center on housing prices and where they may be headed. That is why there is tremendous value in the Home Price Expectation Survey. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists about where prices are headed over the next five years. They then average the projections of all 100+ experts into a single number.

The results of their latest survey:

  • Values will appreciate by 4.6% in 2014
  • Cumulative appreciation will be 19.5% by 2018
  • That means the average annual appreciation will be 3.6% over the next 5 years.
  • Even the experts making up the most bearish quartile of the survey still are projecting a cumulative appreciation of almost 11.2% by 2018

cumulative house appreciation

Individual opinions make headlines. This survey is a fair depiction of future values.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All information is the opinion of and provided by www.KeepingCurrentMatters.com | Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC d/b/a Benchmark Mortgage 5160 Tennyson Pkwy STE 2000W, Plano, TX 75024. NMLS ID #2143 (www.benchmark.us) 972-398-7676. This advertisement is for general information purposes only. Some products may not be available in all licensed locations. Information, rates, and pricing are subject to change without prior notice at the sole discretion of Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC.  All loan programs subject to borrowers meeting appropriate underwriting conditions.  This is not a commitment to lend. Other restrictions may apply. Idaho Mortgage Broker & Lender #MBL – 4060

Nov 10

4 Demands to Make On Your Boise Real Estate Agent

4 Demands to Make On Your Real Estate Agent Are you thinking of buying a home? Are you dreading having to walk through strangers’ houses? Are you concerned about getting the paperwork correct? Hiring a professional real estate agent can take away most of the challenges of buying. A great agent is always worth more than the commission they charge just like a great doctor or great accountant… but they are not all created equally. You want to deal with one of the best agents in your marketplace. To do this, you must be able to distinguish the average agent from the great one. Here are the top 4 demands to make of your Real Estate Agent when buying a home:

  1. Tell the Truth About the Price

Too many agents just take your offer at any price and then try to ‘work’ both the seller and you while negotiating later. A great agent help you make an educated decision about the price you are offering. They will talk to you about their plan to get both the seller – and the bank – to accept that price. Every house in today’s market must be sold two times – first to you and then to your bank. The second sale may be more difficult than the first. The residential appraisal process has gotten tougher. A recent survey showed that there was a challenge with the appraisal on 24% of all residential real estate transactions. It has become more difficult to get the banks to agree on the contract price. A red flag should be raised if your agent is not discussing this with you at the time of the original offer.  A great agent will recommend a lender with a great appraisal panel so that your chances for success are better.

  1. Understand the Timetable with which Your Family is Dealing

You will be moving your family into a new home. Whether the move revolves around the start of a new school year or a new job, you will be trying to put the move to a plan. This can be very emotionally draining. Demand from your agent an appreciation for the timetables you are setting. You agent cannot pick the exact date of your move, but they should exert any influence they can, to make it work.

  1. Remove as Many of the Challenges as Possible

It is imperative that your agent knows how to handle the challenges that will arise. An agent’s ability to negotiate is critical in this market. Remember: If you have an agent who was weak negotiating with you on parts of the purchase offer, don’t expect them to turn into a super hero when they are negotiating with the seller for you and your family.

  1. Find the Right HOUSE!

There is a reason you are putting yourself and your family through the process of moving. You are moving on with your life in some way. The reason is important or you wouldn’t be dealing with the headaches and challenges that come along with purchasing. Do not allow your agent to forget these motivations. Constantly remind them that finding the right house is why you hired them. Make sure that they don’t worry about your feelings more than they worry about your family. If they discover something needs to be done to attain your goal (i.e. rethinking price), insist they have the courage to inform you. Good agents know how to deliver good news. Great agents know how to deliver tough news. In today’s market, YOU NEED A GREAT AGENT!  Having been in the mortgage industry for over a decade, we know lots of great agents… just reach out to us if you want a referral for someone who specializes in what you need.  208.388.0500

 

All information is the opinion of and provided by www.KeepingCurrentMatters.com | Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC d/b/a Benchmark Mortgage 5160 Tennyson Pkwy STE 2000W, Plano, TX 75024. NMLS ID #2143 (www.benchmark.us) 972-398-7676. This advertisement is for general information purposes only. Some products may not be available in all licensed locations. Information, rates, and pricing are subject to change without prior notice at the sole discretion of Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC.  All loan programs subject to borrowers meeting appropriate underwriting conditions.  This is not a commitment to lend. Other restrictions may apply. Idaho Mortgage Broker & Lender #MBL – 4060

Nov 03

A Lender’s Perspective: Why You Need a Real Estate Pro in Today’s Market

Why You Need a Realtor

Why You Need a Realtor

Many people wonder whether they should hire a real estate professional to assist them in buying their dream home or if they should first try to go it on their own. In today’s market: you need an experienced professional!

You Need an Expert Guide if you are Traveling a Dangerous Path

The field of real estate is loaded with land mines. You need a true expert to guide you through the dangerous pitfalls that currently exist. Finding a home that is priced appropriately and ready for you to move in to can be tricky. An agent listens to your wants and needs, and can sift out the homes that do not fit within the parameters of your “dream home”.

You Need a Skilled Negotiator

In today’s market, hiring a talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step of the way – from the original offer, to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the possible cancellation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until

it closes.

Realize that when an agent is negotiating their commission with you, they are negotiating their own salary; the salary that keeps a roof over their family’s head; the salary that puts food on their family’s table. If they are quick to take less when negotiating for themselves and their families, what makes you think they will not act the same way when negotiating for you and your family? If they were Clark Kent when negotiating with you, they will not turn into Superman when negotiating with the buyer or seller in your deal.

Bottom Line

Famous sayings become famous because they are true. You get what you pay for. Just like a good accountant or a good attorney, a good agent will save you money…not cost you money.

 

 

 

 

All information is the opinion of and provided by www.KeepingCurrentMatters.com | Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC d/b/a Benchmark Mortgage 5160 Tennyson Pkwy STE 2000W, Plano, TX 75024. NMLS ID #2143 (www.benchmark.us) 972-398-7676. This advertisement is for general information purposes only. Some products may not be available in all licensed locations. Information, rates, and pricing are subject to change without prior notice at the sole discretion of Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC.  All loan programs subject to borrowers meeting appropriate underwriting conditions.  This is not a commitment to lend. Other restrictions may apply. Idaho Mortgage Broker & Lender #MBL – 4060

Oct 27

4 Reasons to Buy Your Home Now!

4 reasons to buy your home now (fall 2014)

Here are four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report released recently projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 11.2% (most pessimistic) and 27.8% (most optimistic).

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise later this year. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by the end of next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

 

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a recent paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All information is the opinion of and provided by www.KeepingCurrentMatters.com | Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC d/b/a Benchmark Mortgage 5160 Tennyson Pkwy STE 2000W, Plano, TX 75024. NMLS ID #2143 (www.benchmark.us) 972-398-7676. This advertisement is for general information purposes only. Some products may not be available in all licensed locations. Information, rates, and pricing are subject to change without prior notice at the sole discretion of Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC.  All loan programs subject to borrowers meeting appropriate underwriting conditions.  This is not a commitment to lend. Other restrictions may apply. Idaho Mortgage Broker & Lender #MBL – 4060

Oct 20

The Truth about Buying a Home: You Don’t Need 20% Down in Idaho

Zero Down On a New Home?

In a recent survey, How America Views Homeownership, it was revealed that 68% of Americans feel that now is a good time to buy a home and 95% said they want to own a home if they don’t already. Franklin Codel, head of Wells Fargo home mortgage production, explains:

“Although the home buying process has changed in many ways in recent years, our survey found Americans still view homeownership as an achievement to be proud of and many believe that now is a good time to buy a home.”

Confusion Creates Paralysis

However, the survey also reported that many are afraid to purchase a home because of uncertainty about “qualifying for a mortgage or navigating the home buying process”. Though 74% said they “know and understand” the financial process involved in buying a home, they also gave answers that suggest otherwise. For example:

  • 30% of respondents believe that only individuals with high incomes can obtain a mortgage
  • 64% of respondents believe they must have a “very good” credit score to buy a home
  • 44% believe that a 20% down payment is required

In actuality many of these beliefs are unfounded. Let’s look at the question of down payment: Freddie Mac, in a recent blog post addressing the issue, confirmed that there is misinformation regarding the amount necessary when determining the down payment for a home purchase:

“Did you know 40 percent of today’s homebuyers using mortgage financing are making down payments that are less than 10 percent? And how about this: since 2010, the number of people putting down less than 10 percent for conventional loans has grown three fold.  So, not only are low down payment options real, they represent a significant portion of today’s purchases.”

In a separate Executive Perspectives, Christina Boyle, Freddie Mac’s VP and Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management explained further:

  • A person “can get a conforming, conventional mortgage with a down payment of as little as 5 percent (sometimes with as little as 3 percent coming out of their own pockets)”.
  • In Idaho, multiple zero down options exist including options for folks with moderate income, veteran’s status, or home buyers looking at rural properties.
  • Qualified borrowers can further reduce the down payment coming out of their own pockets to 3 percent by lining up gifts from family, grants or loans from non-profits or public agencies.

Education is the Key

Boyle talked about the importance of educating potential buyers:

“Letting more consumers know how down payments are determined could bring more qualified borrowers off the sidelines. Depending on their credit history and other factors, many borrowers can expect to make a down payment of about 5 or 10 percent.”

Codel agreed:

“It is important for prospective homebuyers to feel empowered to ask lenders and real estate agents questions about available options, such as down payment assistance or FHA loan programs or VA loans for veterans.”

Bottom Line

If you are saving for either your first home or that perfect move-up dream house, make sure you know all your options. You may be pleasantly surprised.

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