There goes a saying, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Sometimes you just need to schedule some flex time to give your work travel a little boost and sight see. It might mean arriving a day early or catching an earlier or later flight home after your meetings have ended. Why not? You came all this way after all. We feel very privileged each year to participate in our company’s annual Family Reunion for Keller Williams Realty. Each year the destination changes and this year we just got back from New Orleans. We enjoyed not only learning new ways to refresh and re-energize our business but had time to enjoy the culture of this city. What’s your favorite travel destination? What made it an amazing experience?
Creative New Year’s Resolutions that
Could Enhance Your Life in 2019
Countless people use the beginning of a new year as an opportunity to set goals for their health, careers, and relationships—hence the age-old concept of New Year’s Resolutions. As you think about what you want to achieve this year, consider the following unique resolutions that could potentially enrich your life:
- Have lunch with someone with whom you disagree—and vow to keep an open mind. Whether you’ve sparred with a friend about politics, philosophical issues, or you’ve simply had a rift, the first step in healing the relationship is to have a truly open-minded conversation. If you know someone whom you used to value, but whose differences you have been unable to see past, consider inviting them to lunch. Agree that neither of you will attempt to persuade the other; instead, maintain a sense of curiosity and strive to simply have a conversation. Even if you both hold steady to your beliefs, you should be able to establish the mutual sense of respect that is essential to rekindling your relationship.
- Schedule time to be bored each week. From smartphones to streaming television, many people never feel bored in today’s hyperconnected world. But did you know that occasional boredom can benefit your brain? When your brain has “off time” as it does when you are bored, it becomes better equipped to solve nagging problems, connect disparate ideas, and gain a sense of clarity about your personal journey and goals. While you may find it difficult to relax, resolve that you will schedule some electronics-free time each week to simply do nothing.
- Seek out rejection. Most people are terrified of rejection—and this fear holds many...
Thinking about mortgage refinancing? You’re not alone, with some of the best mortgage rates available in history many people are debating whether they should spend the money and refinance.
The benefit of refinancing comes from borrowing at a lower mortgage rate so you can either lower your payments or reduce your loan term, either way saving thousands of dollars over the life of your home loan.
However, there are some pitfalls to watch out for; here are some of the mortgage refinancing mistakes you will want to avoid:
1. Paying high closing costs.
When you refinance, you are essentially getting a new mortgage to replace your old mortgage. This means fees; origination fees, administrative fees and other closing expenses.
Many people simply pay them, adding them to the cost of the loan and reducing the savings benefit of refinancing your home. Instead, shop around and compare costs between various banks and credit unions. Check out this article on how to lower your home loan closing costs.
2. Not getting a big enough discount on the rate.
Many people refinance because rates have dropped but then find that the difference in the interest rate wasn’t big enough to really save them money. If there is only a small difference, the closing costs can erode the savings you are getting.
If you don’t stay in your house for five to seven years after you refinance, this small difference can actually result in you losing out over all. The generally accepted rule of thumb is that the new rate should be at least a full percent lower than your current rate, and you should be planning to stay in your home for a few years....
From paying off student loans to saving for retirement.
For grads who are stressed about the numbers in their bank account—take a deep breath. This week's "Adulthood Made Easy," with host Sam Zabell, breaks down the most important issues young adults need to worry about, as well as the savings plans that will set them up for the future. Zabell is joined by Donna Rosato, a business journalist and senior writer at MONEY, who shares her wisdom on the major money issues most grads will face upon graduation. Below, some of her advice on the most important topics:
1. Student loans: Rosato's best advice is to increase how much you're paying when your salary increases—it might seem like a big financial commitment initially, but dragging it out over a standard 10 year plan can mean that you pay a lot in interest. If you need help deciding on a payment plan that's right for you, she suggests using the government's Repayment Estimator to help map it out.
2. Budgeting: Think of it more as a "spending plan." Everyone...
If you get a flat tire, your car battery dies, or severe weather forces you off the road, will you be prepared? You may already keep essentials such as your owner's manual and proof of insurance in your car, but what else should you have on hand? Even if you pay for a roadside assistance service, here are some essential items to keep in your car in case of emergency.
1. FIRST AID KIT
You can buy a prepackaged kit or assemble your own. Be sure to include bandages in multiple sizes, gauze, an antibiotic cream, over-the-counter pain relievers, allergy medicine, hand sanitizer, and cotton swabs. To be even more prepared, consider packing a thermometer, heating pad, battery-powered radio, and any medications you and your family might need.
2. WATER BOTTLES
Whether you store a case of water bottles or a few jugs in your trunk, water will do more than quench your thirst. You can also use water to clean oil off your clothes or pour into your radiator if your car overheats.
You can use your cell phone as a light source, but you’ll definitely want to preserve your battery in an emergency. A heavy duty, waterproof flashlight will allow you to take a look under the hood and make a nighttime car emergency less scary. Just make sure you have extra batteries.
4. WARM CLOTHING
Keeping blankets, sweatshirts, and other warm clothing in your trunk can be a lifesaver when the temperature drops and you’re stuck in your car without a working heater. If you live in a colder part of the country,...
The startup Cape calls itself “the world’s first online drone flight platform,” and they do exactly as the name implies: Cape lets you fly a real drone, in a real-world location, without ever leaving the comfort of your desk chair.
Sign up for the company’s public beta, and soon you’ll be invited to launch one of Cape’s drones placed all over California. Once you’re in, use your computer, tablet, or smartphone to launch and fly the thing—no pesky FAA certificate required, no worries about crashing an expensive investment, and (apparently) almost no lag between the controls and the drone.
We haven’t gotten access to the public beta just yet *shakes fist in the air*, but DPReview has and the setup seems pretty simple.
You simply pick an available DJI Inspire 1 along the coast or in the desert of California—each location is active at different times and days—read over the controls really quick, and hit enter to automatically take off. Once you’re in the air, you’ll be automatically fenced into a safe zone, kept at a legal altitude, and otherwise prevented from having too much fun at the expense of Cape’s fleet, but otherwise you’re free to fly around to your hearts’ content.
As a bonus, you never know what you’ll find. Cape posted...
You're ready to buy a home, but you're also looking for a bargain. A foreclosed home seems like the ideal solution: You know that foreclosed properties typically sell for less — sometimes much less — than homes listed and sold on the open market by real estate agents and owners.
But what you might not know is that buying a foreclosed property can also prove challenging to anyone who isn't a professional real estate investor. You might not know, either, that some foreclosed homes come with so much damage that the repairs needed to make them livable will quickly eat up any savings on their sales prices.
Then there's the matter of actually buying a foreclosure. Depending on how you buy such a property, you might find yourself competing with others who buy, repair, and sell foreclosures for a living. Trying to outbid these pros for your foreclosure is no easy task.
To sum up: Buying a foreclosure can be a challenge, one that could cost you plenty of time and money. Here are seven things you absolutely must know if you plan to buy a foreclosed property.
1. Foreclosure Inventory Is Falling
It's becoming more difficult to find a foreclosed property today. That's because fewer homeowners are falling into foreclosure. According to RealtyTrac, foreclosures were reported on 1.08 million U.S. properties last year. That's a drop of 3% from 2014, and a huge fall of 62% from 2010. Back in 2010, more than 2.87 million U.S. properties had foreclosure filings against them.
2. You Can Buy Foreclosures in One of Two Main Ways
There are two main ways to buy a foreclosed home. In the first, lenders auction off homes after the owners of these homes stop paying their mortgages. These properties are then sold at public auctions. The second main way to buy a foreclosure — the way that works better for...
We’ve already covered why your real estate agent is your best friend… but could an agent also be your best choice for President? I think so, and here are 11 reasons why.
1. Real estate agents are great at public speaking.
In fact, they spend at least 75% of their time talking to, lecturing, training, mentoring, and educating their clients and some co-workers. An agent wouldn’t even need a speechwriter because they can speak off the cuff and from the heart. You can trust what they say, too, because they tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Wouldn’t this be a refreshing change in the highest elected politician?
2. A real estate agent would reduce the national debt.
Real estate agents know all about managing money. Since it takes 30-45 days for a sale to close and earn a paycheck, agents learn to spend their money wisely and stick to a tight budget. They already are conditioned to account for money spent on marketing, office expenses, association dues and other things – so that would help when needing to revamp social security, government spending and how often to vacation in Hawaii. They know not to spend carelessly because they have to deduct broker fees and 30% in taxes from their checks, so having been self-employed would be a huge asset when running the country.
3. Real estate agents are always accessible.
They always answer their phones, and can also be reached...
Private Mortgage Insurance, more commonly referred to as PMI, is a mortgage expense that draws a wildly varying set of opinions from homebuyers and homeowners. Before we dive too deep into the financial implications or pros and cons of PMI, you need to fully understand its background, what it is and why it exists.
First, PMI is not a new concept. It was originally introduced more than 120 years ago as a tool to protect banks so that they can provide mortgage financing to those that lacked the assets to provide a substantial down payment.
To this day, it still serves the exact same purpose. How it is used, how much it costs and who has to pay it has taken many forms since the idea was first introduced. I will spare you the history lessons – Wikipedia has that covered – although it does provide insight into why different generations vary from ambivalence to disgust when it comes to the subject.
Simply put, PMI allows borrowers to obtain a mortgage without having to provide 20% down payment by covering the lender for the added risk of a high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgage. It has helped MILLIONS achieve home ownership. It is not the devil. It’s a financial decision made daily by families everywhere. Let’s get the skinny, shall we?
PMI is risk-based. Your credit score and debt-to-income ratio will play a part in your premium. They are both secondary players to the lead character: loan-to-value. If you need OR choose to put the minimum down, then you’ll pay more. So 5% down borrowers will pay more than 10% down borrowers and 10% down borrowers pay more than 15% down borrowers.
So that is your first decision: what do I have in the bank, how much of it should I use and what will it...
You’re looking at your investment property and reflecting on the work put into it. Hopefully, the property has made you money, made tenants happy, and given you tax breaks. But now you’re ready to make an even bigger profit by selling the property. Everyone knows that home appreciation is one of the biggest gains that comes with real estate investing. Just make sure you’re gaining as much as possible.
Before listing your property, think carefully about why you want to sell and if your reasons are valid (smart).
Reasons You Should Sell Your Investment Property
1. You’re Not Making Money
If you’re not even breaking even on an investment property, that’s a reason to sell. Making money is the number one objective in real estate. Maybe your investment property was making money initially, but due to various reasons, it’s generating negative cash-flow. This can be from vacancies, damages, or costs have gone up too much like insurance or taxes. On the other hand, an investor could be making money but is anticipating some major repairs.
So definitely sell if you’re experiencing this, right? Well, understand the market conditions really well. You might be able to make more money by holding on to the property for a bit longer. Check out appreciation, rental rates, and future development plans. If these are going to increase soon, hold on to the property and consult an agent...
It appears the bargain basement mortgage rates that have been part of the economy since the Great Recession may slowly be slipping away. And as rates tick higher, many homeowners are beginning to wonder if the moment has passed to refinance. If you've been keeping a close eye on interest rates, but still aren't sure if refinancing your home is worth it, here are some important questions to ask that just may help you decide. (See also: How to Refinance Your Mortgage)
Do You Have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage?
As interest creeps higher, strategic homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages are seeing a chance to lock in lower rates now. Many buyers who jumped in the market quickly during the housing boom did so with the help of adjustable rate mortgages. Now that those rates are set to adjust upward, homeowners are refinancing and moving to fixed-rate 15-year or 30-year loans. According a recent refinance report by Freddie Mac(PDF), it's estimated that refis will account for 75% of single-family home loan originations in 2013 and about 50% in 2014.
Most homeowners typically choose to refinance either to reduce their mortgage payment or shorten the life of their loan. If you're strapped for cash, refinancing into a 30-year fixed-rate loan could help, but you may actually end up paying more in the long run because you're extending the term of your loan (and thereby, extending the interest period).
Could You Lock in a Lower Fixed Rate?
Many homeowners who've delayed refinancing and chosen a wait-and-see...
If anything about refinancing your mortgage might be described as "fun," it would have to be
locking in your new lower interest rate. But once that's done, you'll have to deal with the decidedly
not-fun part of gathering all the documentation you'll need to support your refinance loan application.
To get started and stay organized, it's helpful to have a checklist of which documents you'll need.
While each loan officer or mortgage broker might have their own specific checklist, here's a look at generally what you can expect:
- Photo ID: Typically a driver's license or passport, this document is used to confirm your name, identity and home address.
- Paystubs: Typically, you'll need to produce your paystubs from at least the last 30 days. If you don't have your paystubs, ask your employer's payroll or personnel department to give you these documents which must show your name, the name of your employer and your total year-to-date earnings, according to Joe Metzler, mortgage specialist at Mortgages Unlimited in St. Paul, Minn.
- Asset statements: Gather monthly or quarterly statements from your various asset accounts from the last two to three months. Asset accounts include checking, savings, investment and retirement plan funds.
If you don't have your statements handy, you can print them from most financial institutions' websites, Metzler explains. Each statement must include your name, the name of your financial institution and the beginning and ending account balances. A print out of your current transactions "usually does not work" for loan application purposes, Metzler warns. Rather, a true statement is required.
Did you know that 3 out of 4 car seats aren't used correctly?
Free Car Seat Check Up Event
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
1:00 - 4:30 PM
1301 South Bowen Road
Arlington, TX 76013
(Corner of Church & Milby - Chase Bank)
Call (817) 264-4553
for an appointment!
Child must be present and in their carseat.
Free giveaways while supplies last.
People usually think that a big difference in your money only comes from making a big lifestyle change.
While selling your house or working an extra job can produce huge results, there are several other ways to give your money a positive kick in the budget. You won’t notice these small changes as much as you’ll notice the additional cash.
Check out these nine small spending adjustments that can give you big outcomes:
Join Loyalty Programs. According to the 2015 Colloquy Census, there are roughly 3.3 billion customer loyalty memberships in the United States. Sign up for loyalty programs and you can score deals on restaurant meals, airline tickets and more. Start by visiting the websites of your favorite restaurants or clothing stores and see if they mention perks for frequent shoppers. If you simply need to sign up for a loyalty program, then go for it! Just avoid anything that’s based on getting a credit card.
Get Creative With Date Night. Eat dinner at home and go out for dessert. Go hiking on a nature trail instead of heading to the movie theater. Download an app like Scrabble. You can’t beat the value, and you definitely can’t beat the quality time with each other!
Take the Surveys. Those survey offers at the bottom of restaurant or retail store receipts are worth a few minutes of your time, especially when they offer free meals or a chance to win $1,000. Visit a website, give feedback, and earn a coupon for your next trip.
Buy Generic. It’s...
If you're having trouble paying your mortgage, remember there are options before you concede your home.
It was not so long ago that the term “short sale” was about as familiar to the average American as a novel written in hieroglyphics, while “foreclosure” was a thing that happened infrequently and only to other, irresponsible people. Today, these terms are sadly mainstream.
Whether due to an adjustable-rate mortgage which has reset, resulting in higher loan payments, or because of job losses or pay cuts making once affordable payments now unaffordable, too many homeowners are finding themselves facing difficult decisions. If you find yourself in one of these situations, it is important to know that you do have options.
A short sale is a sale of your home in which the proceeds will be insufficient to cover your obligations including costs of sale, any unpaid taxes or other liens, and (most importantly) your outstanding mortgage balance. Short sales require lender approval, since the lender will be agreeing to accept less than what is owed as payment in full....