BBB Integrity Counts! Award Honoree

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


Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe…

… 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

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.
Questions?  Call (208) 388-0500

It Takes a Village…

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

Oct 21

Will the Presidential Election Impact Mortgage Rates?

When the presidential election is over, one thing is fairly certain: there will be some changes to interest rates, affecting stocks, bonds, and mortgage rates. We know something will happen; we’re just not sure which way things are going to go.trump-vs-clinton

Historically, rates generally drop after a Democrat is elected, according to Freddie Mac data. The last couple of years have bucked that trend, but only slightly, with average rates rising from 3.66% in 2012 to 3.85% in 2015.

Politico thinks things are leaning the opposite way: Rates are going to have a big impact on the election. With a “still-uneven economy,” even a small rate hike could “unsettle” the progress we’re making.

According to CNN Money, “Raising rates too soon can … rattle the stock markets. It can also crush consumer and business confidence.” With one more Fed meeting scheduled before the election — only six days before — is it possible Janet Yellen will choose to bump up interest rates? It seems highly unlikely.

Elections and candidates often have a negative impact on the economy because candidates need to point out problems in the country so that they can offer ways to fix them.. According to Tim Kane, an economist at the Hoover Institution, this negative talk “creates pressure on the Fed to keep rates low to boost the economy.”

In a more general sense, the impact of the election is one of uncertainty: We don’t know who will win, and therefore we can’t begin to predict economic trends over the next few years. This pushes consumer confidence down and makes more people reluctant to go out on a major spending limb, especially for such a big-ticket item as a new home.

Whatever you decide to do, though — jump in while rates are low, or hold off to see how the economy reacts to the new regime — just remember there is no right or wrong answer. The housing market is constantly in flux, and only you and your real estate advisors can determine what’s best for you. If you’d like to discuss these trends and ideas further, my office door is always open.

Contact me for a conversation today.(208) 388-0500

Jan 26

6 Housing Related Tax Deductions You Don’t Want to Miss!


It’s tax season and it’s a great time to talk about the benefits of home ownership specifically in regards to saving money on your income taxes.

As you prepare to file your tax returns, there are a number of housing related expenses that you should discuss with your accountant because they MIGHT save you money on your income taxes. Here are our top 6:

  1. Mortgage interest you’ve paid
  2. Any discount points or origination fees you paid in the last year to get your loan
  3. Property taxes you’ve paid
  4. Home office related expenses are also sometimes tax deductible
  5. Certain moving expenses especially if you relocated for work
  6. Mortgage insurance.

Mortgage insurance (or MI) is the new kid on the block. Congress created this tax deduction in 2007 as a way to help boost the distressed housing market. It had a sunset clause, but it has since been extended through 2016 for qualifying borrowers.

As with all tax deductions, there are limitations, but it’s a conversation you should be having with your CPA especially if your adjusted gross income is less than $110,000.

On behalf of the whole Boise team at Benchmark mortgage, we hope this tip helps you save money!

Benchmark is a mortgage bank. We have local processing, local underwriting and a local appraisal panel. Our goal is to help our clients save money not only when they take out a loan, but also after closing… and we’d love to help you too.

Dec 11

Self-Employed Home Buyers Struggle, but Help Is On The Way


If you’re self-employed, I just wanted to share a quick mortgage tip with you that might help you buy a home even if you’ve had problems in the past.

We have a new mortgage program that is specifically for people, like yourself, who are self-employed. What makes it different is that it only requires one year’s worth of tax returns. This is new and it’s HUGE.

Traditionally…you would have been asked to provide the last two years’ worth of tax returns which has been a big challenge for many self-employed folks…especially if their income has been inconsistent.

While this program may not help everyone, we are projecting that it will help 30% more business owners than prior loan programs. Again, that’s huge!

My husband Dean, and I work as a team. Benchmark is a mortgage bank and we have local processing, underwriting and appraisals. Dean is absolute expert on helping self-employed people.

Call us today… we’d love to help you too.

May 19

A Lender’s Perspective: Home Sales are Skyrocketing

Recently, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Existing Home Sales Report. The numbers shocked many analysts as they revealed a 10.4% increase over the same month last year.

This is the highest number of sales since September 2013. Sales have increased year-over-year for six consecutive months and the 10.4% increase is the highest annual increase since August 2013. March’s sales increase was the largest monthly increase since December 2010.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, explained:

“After a quiet start to the year, sales activity picked up greatly throughout the country in March. The combination of low interest rates and the ongoing stability in the job market is improving buyer confidence and finally releasing some of the sizable pent-up demand that accumulated in recent years.”

Here is a graph showing home sales so far this year:

Existing Home Sales | Dean & Shanna Tucker Benchmark Mortgage

An increase in sales occurred in every region of the country even the Northeast that experienced one of their roughest winters in years:

Existing Home Sales by Region | Dean & SHanna Tucker Benchmark Mortgage

Bottom Line

Houses are flying off the shelves. If you are looking for a quick sale in a market that is favoring sellers, this may be the perfect time to sell your home too.

May 12

This Advice on Home Ownership Hasn’t Changed in 200 Years

OneTrust Home Loans Mortgage Lenders in Boise & Idaho VA Loan Experts - Dean & Shanna Tucker, providing the very best service, check out our five star reviews!

This Advice on Homeownership Hasn’t Changed in 200 Years | Dean & Shanna Tucker Benchmark Mortgage

Billionaire John Paulson… like many of the wealthiest individuals… believes in the financial advantages of homeownership. He has often repeated:

“I think, from an individual perspective, the best deal investment you can make is to buy a primary residence that you’re the owner-occupier of.”

However, he has not been the only billionaire to give such advice. As a matter of fact, that same advice has been given by people of wealth throughout the history of our nation.

Here is a quote often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States and billionaire real estate developer:

“Every person who invests in well-selected real estate … adopts the surest and safest method of becoming independent, for real estate is the basis of wealth.”

Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest entrepreneurs in American history said:

“90% of all millionaires became so through owning real estate.”

Bottom Line

If the same advice has been given by the wealthiest people in each era of our country’s history, perhaps we should take it.

May 07

The Deal of the Century?

The Deal of the Century?? |Dean & Shanna Tucker Benchmark Mortgage

Recently, Freddie Mac published a blog post titled Mortgage Rates: Still the Deal of the Century. They explained that, if you are planning to purchase a home, now may be the time:

“If you are in the market to buy a home, today’s average mortgage rates are something to celebrate compared to almost any year since 1971.”

And they let their readers know that there is no guarantee that rates will remain this low:

“Over the past few years, we’ve enjoyed a long run of historically low mortgage rates. While no one expects them to change dramatically overnight, they are expected to head up. Most experts agree that mortgage rates will drift up in the coming months to end the year approaching 4.50%…Buying a home is a big investment – perhaps the biggest one you’ll make in your life. So, it’s important to be sure you are ready to make that purchase. If you are ready, today’s rates are not to be missed.”

The article went on to calculate what the principal and interest payment would be based on a $200,000 fully amortizing mortgage at different times in history.

Mortgage Payments | Dean & Shanna Tucker Benchmark Mortgage

Here is a look at rates over the decades:

Historic Mortgage Rates by Decade | Dean & Shanna Tucker Benchmark Mortgage

Here is a look at rates over the last four years and what Freddie Mac projects for next year:

30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Rates | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of buying your first home or looking to move up to your dream home, now may be the time to do it.

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

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:
  2. Complete an application. Here is a link: 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:

* 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 ( 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 Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC d/b/a Benchmark Mortgage 5160 Tennyson Pkwy STE 2000W, Plano, TX 75024. NMLS ID #2143 ( 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: 

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 Ark-La-Tex Financial Services, LLC d/b/a Benchmark Mortgage 5160 Tennyson Pkwy STE 2000W, Plano, TX 75024. NMLS ID #2143 ( 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

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