The Essential Moving Checklist

Getting ready to move? Here’s a checklist you can use to make sure you’re prepared.

3 Weeks Before Move

  • Set up a “move” file or folder
  • Set up a “move” calendar
  • Hold a garage sale
  • Collect financial, tax, and employment documentation needed for your loan
  • Donate un-needed furniture to charity
  • Contact insurance companies to update addresses and/or transfer policies (life, auto, homeowners)

2 Weeks Before Move

  • Arrange cut-off dates for utility companies (telephone, gas, electricity, water, garbage, cable television)
  • Prepare new address or moving notifications for friends and relatives
  • Request change of address kit from post office
  • Check out voter registration for the new area

1 Week Before Move

  • Label items you will need to access easily and place them in a separate room or closet
  • Tend to outdoor items and furniture: water hoses, propane tank from BBQ grill, gas and oil from lawnmowers
  • Properly discard all aerosols, paint, oils, and other flammable or toxic chemicals
  • Arrange new utility services at your new home

Moving Day

  • Remember, items packed last will be unloaded first
  • Conduct a final review of the house including attic, stairwells, closets, cupboards, storage, garage, and behind doors
  • Relax and enjoy your new home

Take the stress out of moving by being organized! Please get in touch with UCCU Mortgages if you have any questions about your home financing!

Share Button

Nest: save on utility bills right from your pocket

The skinny:

Nest is a smart thermostat. It allows you to control the temperature of your home right from your smartphone. Within about a week, Nest learns your habits and adjusts to your preferred temperatures.

Who’s it for? Anyone who wants to save money on their heating and cooling bills. Nest automatically lowers the temperature when you go to bed and shuts off when no one is home. The average user saves 10-12% on their heating bills and 15% on cooling bills.

Nest is also great for people who own vacation homes. If you see a big temperature drop coming, but you’re at your full-time residence, you can turn the heat on at your second home so your pipes don’t freeze.

What platforms? iOS and Android

Cost? The app is free. The device itself costs about $250, depending on the retailer. If you need professional installation, it costs between $99-250.

We seem to run our lives from our smartphones, and now we can run our thermostats that way, too. Nest is connected to your Wi-Fi, which allows you to control it from your smartphone.

But the best thing about the Nest thermostat is its intuitiveness. You don’t have to use the app to turn the heat on before you get home from work. You can skip having that moment of panic while on vacation when you realize you left your air conditioner running. Nest knows the rhythms of your life and adjusts accordingly. It knows what time you come home from work and knows if nobody’s home so it makes appropriate changes for you. Plus, you can make adjustments using the app if you need to do that.

Nest comes with some great additional features. You can look at your energy history to see how much you are using. Daily reports show how much energy you’re saving and give tips on how to use less to save even more on your bill. When you’re choosing temperature settings, you’ll see a leaf symbol when you’ve chosen one that saves energy.

You got a great rate on your mortgage with Utah Community Credit Union. Save even more money by installing Nest!

Your Turn: What energy-saving methods do you use in your home? Let us know!

Share Button

6 Buyer Tips for Hot Housing Markets

Couple outside new home

The housing market is heating up! For buyers, this may lead to submitting multiple offers or a potential bidding war. If you or someone you know is in the market to buy a home, here are six ways to give your offer the best chance for seller acceptance, especially when the competition is stiff:

Get preapproved: Go through the process to be pre-approved so you know your purchase ability, and have a strong cover letter prepared for your seller.

Don’t lowball: When making offers, try to be first and don’t lowball. Being first to the negotiating table plants you in the seller’s mind. But when listings are scarce, lowball offers are a losing strategy.

Opt for an escalation clause: In a hot market you can opt for an escalation clause in your offer that tells the seller you will beat any offer exceeding your bid by $1,000, up to a maximum amount of your choosing.

Perform inspections upfront: It may cost a few hundred dollars, but having an inspection performed upfront shows your’re serious. And when you make an offer without contingencies, sellers pay attention.

Tell them you love it: Ask you agent to deliver a letter listing the reasons why this house is perfect for your family (include pictures and be specific).

Don’t overpay: Do your research on the market by reviewing comparable property sales prices, schools, and online reviews for local businesses. Chat with your potential neighbors as well to get a wealth of information as well as a possible inside scoop.

What other tips do you have for navigating a hot housing market? Leave your tips in the comments!

Share Button

6 Ways to Declutter Your Countertops

If you find yourself short on counter space, these six inventive tips can help you organize and maximize any counter in the house:

  1. On the wall: Take a look around your walls, particularly walls where cabinet spaces end. Wall-mounted corner shelves or receptacles near workspaces can give everything a lift.
  2. Drawer decisions: More organized drawers can help clear counter clutter. And drawer organizers aren’t just for tableware! Find solutions for everything from kitchen doodads, to that bulky butcher’s block of knives, to spice racks that fit inside drawers.
  3. Tool time: Save even more drawer space by moving spatulas, whisks, and other tools with handles onto a wall-mounted towel bar with “S” hooks.
  4. Think inside the box…or basket: Natural fiber boxes and baskets can consolidate space for groups of items, like measuring cups and spoons or lotions and styling products, while adding that designer touch. Or use them in cabinets to neatly organize space.
  5. Charging chamber: mount a plug strip to the inside of a drawer to keep those electronics powered-up and out of sight.
  6. Paper pusher: If paper is your problem, try using a wall-pocket organization system with multiple cubbies. Don’t forget to create a system for managing the flow. For example, one cubby might be for bills that need immediate attention, another might be for interesting things to read.

One of the biggest keys to cut clutter is frequently taking stock of what you don’t use regularly. Ask yourself if you really use it, and if not, don’t be afraid to minimize and donate?

Your turn: What do you do to keep clutter down in your house? Comment below to contribute!

Share Button

What Causes Home Loan Rates to Move Up and Down?

The Federal Reserve (Fed) monitors the U.S. economy and, when necessary, takes steps to address inflationary concerns to avoid economic recession. When the Fed discusses interest rates, it is primarily concerning the Fed Funds Rate, which is the rate banks use when lending money to each other overnight.

Home loan rates, on the other hand, are dictated by the trading of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS or Mortgage Bonds), which are a type of bond.

At the real heart of home loan rate movement is the dual relationship between Stocks and Bonds, as they compete for the same investment dollars on a daily basis. Inflationary pressures, economic conditions, and geopolitical events all influence the direction of Stocks and Bonds.

When economic reports are weak or disappointing, investors often move their money from riskier investments like Stocks into Bonds, which are considered safer. Since home loan rates are tied into Mortgage Bonds, this helps home loan rates improve and go down.

In contrast, strong economic news often causes investors to move their money into Stocks to take advantage of any gains. This can cause Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates to worsen, or in other words, the home loan rates go up.

Inflation also plays a role as it reduces the value of fixed investments like Bonds. This means that a low inflation environment tends to be good for Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates (think lower rates), while high inflation can cause both to worsen (think high rates).

Political turmoil or economic crises around the world can also cause investors to move their money into the safety of the Bond markets, helping Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates improve.

If you’re trying to decide if now is a good time to purchase a new home, visit with our Mortgage Center or call your neighborhood mortgage expert! We’ll analyze your financial situation together and create a plan that’s right for you.

Share Button

Rising Interest Rates: What Do They Mean For You?

Home

If you read financial headlines, you’ve no doubt seen the news that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates. These headlines can be accompanied with all sorts of hyperbole about the end of the stock market, the boom of bonds or any of a dozen other possible predictions. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when there’s this much information and so much of it is conflicting. Let’s set the record straight on what rising prime interest rates mean for you and your:

  • Adjustable-rate Mortgage
  • Portfolio
  • Savings
  • Debt

The prime interest rate is the rate that the Federal Reserve charges financial institutions to borrow from it. It influences a lot of other financial prices. Many of these are only of concern to investment bankers, professional investors and other economic enthusiasts. Here are some key ways the prime rate hikes can affect you!

1.) Get out of your ARM

Many people opted for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) when interest rates were historically low. These mortgages often have much better rates for an introductory period, usually five years, before they adjust to a new rate. That new rate is determined in large part by the rate the Federal Reserve charges.

The Federal Reserve is planning to continue to increase interest rates as the economy continues to improve. This means the rate on your ARM may go up as well. Worse yet, the rising rates could make your monthly mortgage payment unpredictable, putting you in a bit of a budget bind. Fortunately, you can refinance your mortgage into a fixed-rate loan and take advantage of still-low interest rates. You may still be able to secure a low rate on a 10-, 15- or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. As interest rates continue to rise, your fixed-rate mortgage will stay the same, meaning your savings will increase as time goes on.

2.) Balance your portfolio

The historically low interest rates over the past six years have done wonders for the stock market. Because companies could borrow at affordable rates, they could expand rapidly. That expansion fuels growth in stock prices.

As interest rates rise, that credit availability will decrease. Companies will find it more difficult to expand, and their growth will slow. This slowing of growth may lead to a decline in stock prices.

However, as interest rates rise, bond rates will also increase. That will lead to an increase in their price as more investors chase those rates. Individual investors need to ensure their portfolios are properly balanced to take advantage of changing market conditions. Speaking to a financial adviser to ensure your assets are where they need to be will help keep your investments growing at a healthy rate.

3.) Save more

The Federal Reserve interest rate also affects the rates that financial institutions are able to offer account holders. As it becomes more expensive to borrow from other institutions, it’s more profitable for those institutions to “borrow” from their members in the form of certificates and savings accounts. As interest rates continue to rise, it’ll be increasingly more profitable to sock your money away in an interest-bearing account.

If you’ve been putting off opening a certificate or increasing the deposits in your share account, now is an excellent time to consider it. With a 12- or 24-month certificate, you can take advantage of rising interest rates while still leaving yourself the flexibility to re-invest once interest rates rise again.

4.) Refinance your debt

The service charges on several kinds of debt are tied to the prime rate. Notably, credit cards and private student loan rates may increase as the prime rate continues to climb. That makes now a great time to think about refinancing.

Take advantage of currently low interest rates with several strategies. A home equity line of credit can help bundle your high-interest, unsecured debt with your low-interest mortgage. A personal loan for refinancing can also help secure a better interest rate. Other options exist, and the sooner you speak with a debt counselor or other financial professional, the better off you’ll be.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the financial terminology surrounding news events like rate hikes. That’s why it’s best to have an advocate in your corner to help you figure out what to make of a changing economic landscape. Utah community Credit Union can do just that. Call, click or stop by to speak to a member services representative about how you can take advantage of this opportunity and put yourself on the path to financial wellness.

Find your nearest UCCU location here: http://www.uccu.com/home/uccu/locations

Your Turn: Got questions about rising interest rates? Leave your questions in the comments. Or, if you’ve got a handle on all things economic, share your wisdom with others!

Sources:

http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/consumers/2017/01/19/bit-bit-rising-interest-rates-making-impact/96560462/
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/your-money/increases-in-interest-rates-on-savings-accounts-remain-slow-to-materialize.html?_r=0
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/12/28/what-2017-may-mean-your-personal-finances/95736736/

Share Button

First Time Home Buyer Seminars

Snowy house

UCCU has always valued our stance on inspiring smart decisions! To educate our members on the home-buying process and better prepare you for homeownership, our mortgage department is hosting First Time Home Buyer Seminars monthly through 2017! This is a great way to learn what to look for, what to expect, and where to start when buying a home.

So if you’re considering buying a home sooner or later, sign up for this course. It’s just one of many ways we are helping to inspire smart decisions!

To sign up for the course go to www.uccu.com/seminars.

Share Button

More house. Same payment.

With UCCU’s low interest rates and mortgage insurance rates, you could qualify for up to 14% more house than you could with other local lenders! Here’s how:

LOWER INTEREST RATES
UCCU’s rates are just plain lower than the competition. An independent survey on 10/21/2016 of 30 lenders in our market showed that UCCU’s 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 0.375% lower than the group’s median interest rate.

LOWER MORTGAGE INSURANCE
When your down payment is less than 20%, you are typically required to pay for mortgage insurance. This can be a significant monthly expense that gets added into your payment. UCCU receives lower mortgage insurance rates than banks and mortgage companies, which can make a big difference in your monthly payment.

Call 801-223-7640 to speak to a mortgage expert today!

Share Button

Builders Seeing the Bright Side

blog_20down

Builder confidence in September jumped to its highest level since October 2015 as reported in the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index. The Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months. The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers. All three components moved higher in September from August.

Limited inventory of new and existing homes for sale, solid job creation and low interest rates are fueling demand, according to NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz.

While tight inventory remains a challenge in many areas of the country, the good news is that home loan rates continue to hover in historically low territory. This is helping offset home price increases due to limited supply, and providing great opportunities for people looking to purchase or refinance.

If you have any questions about home loan rates or loan types, please don’t hesitate to contact UCCU Mortgages at (801) 223-7640.

Share Button

Alternatives to Putting 20 Percent Down on a Home

blog_20down 2

Real Estate is said to be one of the best long term investments out there. If that’s the case, then why put off getting into a home? For some, it’s because there is a misunderstanding on what is required to buy a home. Below are a four loan types and their down-payment requirements.

Conventional
Many believe that 20% is required for this loan type, however,that isn’t true in most cases. By putting 20% down you won’t have to worry about mortgage insurance, and you would qualify for a lower rate. The minimum down payment required for this type of loan is actually just 5%. As for sourcing the funds, the full 5% down payment must come from the primary borrower.

FHA
This is a government backed loan. The minimum down payment required is 3.5%. Considering the nature of the loan, the down payment affects aspects of this loan less. Either way, you will be required to have mortgage insurance with an FHA loan. What’s the advantage to this loan then? The 3.5% can come as a gift from a relative, offering some flexibility on the savings.

VA
VA loans are done via the Department of Veterans Affairs, and allow veterans of the U.S. Armed Services access to programs other U.S. consumers do not. One such program is the no-money-down VA loan.

With 100% financing and accommodating underwriting standards, VA loans make approvals simple and offer lower rates than a comparable conventional mortgage. Additionally, VA loans require no mortgage insurance no matter how much you put down.

First Time Home Buyer

For those who qualify, there are special loan products that will allow up to 100% financing. Those loan requirements can vary by location, so we recommend getting in touch with your local mortgage loan officer to see if you qualify for 100% financing.

The easiest way to make sure you are getting the best type of loan for your situation is to sit down with one of our Mortgage Experts to help you get the home you want, at a price you can afford. You’re just a phone call away from reaching your dream of home-ownership. Visit your local branch or contact us by email at homeloans@uccu.com or by phone at 801-223-7640.

 

Share Button