Thursday, August 18, 2016

What You Need To Know About Closing Costs

Closing costs are something that every home buyer has to face, but many don’t completely understand what they are when they first start shopping for a home. They can be quite expensive, and in past years, have increased on average. Here’s what you need to know about closing costs:
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What are closing costs?
Closing costs are fees associated with the closing of a real estate transaction. Closing costs can be incurred by either the buyer or seller, and occurs when the title of the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer.
What charges are included in your closing costs?
Depending on where you live and what kind of property you own, your closing costs can include a variety of factors. These factors can include an appraisal fee, a fee for running your credit report, inspection fees, insurance fees, loan fees, deposit fees, and more.
How much are closing costs?
Home buyers can expect to pay between 2 to 5 percent of the purchase price of their home in closing fees with prices varying due to taxes and location. Lenders are legally required to provide a loan estimate which will help you determine a starting point for your closing cost. Often times, closing costs can include unnecessary fees, such as mailing and administrative costs. If you encounter a large number of unnecessary charges, you can walk away from the loan and search for other lenders who can offer lower closing costs.  
Can you avoid closing costs?
You can’t fully avoid closing costs, but it could be possible to transfer them. You could ask the seller to pay some of the closing costs if you are short on money. The worst response you could hear is, “no.” You could potentially ask the lender to pay the closing costs as well. The caveat with this is that while lenders may agree to pay part or all of the closing costs or roll it into your mortgage amount, you can typically expect to see a higher interest rate on the loan.
How can you get the most accurate closing cost estimate?
Your final closing costs shouldn’t be a surprise. Within three days of receiving your application, your lender must provide a good faith estimate—a ballpark figure—that lists your estimated costs and any anticipated factors. Prior to closing, you’ll get an HUD-1 settlement statement that itemizes an updated and final closing cost. If the final statement is nowhere near the original good faith estimate, question your lender about it.

To learn more about closing costs and how our professional lenders can help you close on the home of your dreams, visit Financial One Credit Union for more information.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Home Equity Line of Credit Frequently Asked Questions

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Getting in control of your finances doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can be hard to navigate through the vast amount of financial jargon. Take a look below at our frequently asked questions about home equity loans and lines of credit at Financial One.


General Information

- What is a home equity loan?
A home equity loan uses the equity in your home as collateral to secure the loan. The interest rate and monthly payments are fixed which guarantees you a steady and predictable repayment schedule for the remainder of the loan repayment.
- What is a home equity line of credit?
A home equity line of credit is a line of credit secured by your home with a variable interest. It is the maximum amount that you can borrow with a mortgage lender. When you borrow, you only pay interest on the amount of money you actually borrow—not the full line amount.

- Why should I choose a home equity loan or line of credit?
A home equity loan or line of credit with a fixed monthly payment will help your budgeting process for short-term and long-term needs much easier.
- Why should I refinance?
Refinancing loans can help you lower your monthly payment or interest rate on a current loan. You can also switch from a loan with an adjustable rate to one with a fixed rate to have a better idea of your monthly bills. Lastly, refinancing allows you to change the remaining term of a loan and refinance for a higher amount in order to pay off existing debt.

Loan Usage
- What could my home equity line of credit possibly cover?
A Financial One home equity line of credit (HELOC) is often used to cover education expenses, debt consolidation, home renovations and repairs. You can also use a HELOC to finance special life events, like weddings, a new baby, family vacations, and more.
- How can I protect my loan?
To provide the best possible coverage protection on your loan, Financial One offers a Payment Protection plan with Credit Life and Credit Disability insurance. The Payment Protection is available to safeguard your credit and collateral.

Rates and Repayments


- What rates are available?
Loan rates vary based on the loan, your mortgage history, and other factors. Visit our website to view a chart of available rates.
- What terms and repayment options are available?
Financial One Credit Union offers flexible loan plans. Our home equity installment loans feature a fixed annual percentage rate with flexible terms, ranging from 5 to 15 years. Home equity 5-year balloon installment loans feature a fixed annual percentage rate with a 5-year term and a repayment period of up to 20 years.
With loan amounts as small as $5,000, Financial One offers member-first, professional, and helpful service throughout your entire loan seeking process. Visit Financial One Credit Union for more information or apply online for a home equity loan or line of credit.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Home Improvement Appraisals: What You Need to Know

Have you been thinking about adding to or starting a renovation project to up the value of your home? Fantastic idea! The equity in your home can be your most valuable asset. There are a few things you need to know when it comes to increasing the value of your home, especially in the eyes of an appraiser.

Cost Does Not Equal Value

The amount you spend on renovations to your home doesn’t automatically add to the value of your home. Appraisers don’t simply add up the cost of your renovations to determine the new value. The value of a renovation is determined on how much a buyer would be willing to pay for them - so additions that no one wants to pay for will end up costing you money.

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Take, for instance, the principle of substitution. This describes the idea that a buyer won’t pay more for a special feature in a home than the cost of renovating a similar property. To break it down, visualize two homes. Let’s say these homes are identical, except one has undergone a bathroom remodel that cost $30,000. Now say the other home could have the same remodel done for $15,000. Buyers would be more inclined to purchase the second home and do the remodel themselves, saving an extra $15,000. Thus, the owner of the first home wouldn’t recoup the full $30,000 for their bathroom renovations, but the $15,000 it would cost to get the same features in another home.

Know the Difference Between Improvements and Bad Investments

Some additions to your home are a good idea, while others could actually take away from the value of your home or drive away potential buyers. Take a look at our list below:

Improvement: Energy conservation
Energy conservation improvements, such as high-efficiency windows, solar water heaters, water-saving toilets, etc, are key to a good appraisal. Many buyers are looking for green homes, and improvements can be large or small scale.

Bad Investment: A Pool
A buyer’s children might get excited at the concept of a pool, but many buyers will look at it as a source of constant upkeep, a potential hazard for their children, and not worth the added work in cooler states (ie: Minnesota).

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Improvement: Bathrooms and Kitchens
Experts agree that the best renovations you can make in your home are updates to your kitchen and bathroom. Entryways and front door replacements are a good idea as well, but kitchens, especially, should be on the top of the list for renovation projects.

Bad Investment: Special Interest Projects
Specific interest projects such as turning the spare bedroom into a library or the den into a wine cellar are also bad investments. These rooms are fun to add in relation to your own personal style, but potential new buyers will not want to spend the money remodeling a room to fit their own interests.


Bad Investments: Basements
Homeowners treasure a refinished basement, but many appraisers and buyers do not. When it comes to spending money on the value of your home, don’t put your assets in the basement. Basement renovations recoup a little over half of their cost to the value of the home. In the eyes of an appraiser, an attic project will count for more than the basement.


When you start thinking about additions to your home to up the resale value, think about them through the eyes of an appraiser. Though it may not bring up the value of your home, keep your home tidy and declutter extra furniture and decor items. This will make your home seem more open and easier to appraise. When you do decide on renovation projects, document all your renovations. If you put money into your home, be prepared to prove it. Before and after photos don’t hurt either.

For more tips on renovation projects and home appraisal, check out the Do’s and Don’ts of Home Appraisal from houzz.com.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Make the Most Out of Your Credit Card Rewards

Credit card rewards programs are widely available and greatly beneficial to many users, but you may be wondering how to make them work for you and your financial habits. Make the most of your credit card reward points by engaging in the right reward program habits below:
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Score More with Your Rewards
Our ScoreMore program helps you rack up the points that matter. Your points are redeemable for travel expenses, brand-name items, and much more. There are no limits on the points you can receive, they will never expire, and you can keep track of them online! Every Platinum Credit Card includes access to the ScoreMore plan,  competitive fixed rates, and online account management. Best of all, you won’t ever have to pay an annual fee, a cash advance fee, or a balance transfer fee! Learn more about Financial One’s credit card options here.
Pay off the Balance
A big mistake that cardholders make is not paying the balance off every month. Many rewards cards are associated with higher interest rates. If you aren’t paying off the balance of the card, then you are negating the points you have been accumulating. Keep the balance paid off each month to benefit your credit score and to make the most out of those reward points.

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Monitor Your Spending
Ever noticed how a 50% off sign at a retail store can make you spend money on an item that you didn’t really need in the first place? Buying items we don’t need and don’t budget for is a financial habit that many people fall into and causes overspending. Your rewards are not going to be too beneficial if you are struggling to stay on top of your bills. Don’t let the temptation of reward points send you spiraling into debt. Keep track of your spending with the best financial apps of 2016.

When to Redeem Points
Millions of rewards points go unused every single year. Many people forget to redeem points, don’t know how, or simply aren’t aware of how easy it is to use their points. Others simply wait too long hoping to accumulate a bigger offer. Depending on your program, rewards can expire or decrease in value. To get the most bang for your buck, redeem your points often.
Financial One Credit Union offers a reward card that’s safe and easy to use. Our rewards card offers competitive rates and zero fees on balance transfers. Enroll in the Financial One Credit Union ScoreMore program to earn even more reward points that you can use on brand-name items, travel expenses, and savings at your favorite stores.

Monday, April 25, 2016

How to Save for an Emergency Fund

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Some call it a “rainy day fund”, some call it the mayonnaise jar on the fridge, but however you say it, saving sufficient money for an emergency financial situation is something everyone should do. It’s a situation that nobody wants to face—may it be an emergency house or car repairs, a sudden sickness or health ailment, or the loss of a job—most Americans are not prepared to face a $500 financial emergency, as recently reported by the Star Tribune. For some individuals, $500 could cover rent for a month while for some families, $500 may only cover two weeks’ worth of groceries.
Think you’ve got a pretty good nest egg saved up? Experts say an adequate emergency fund should able to cover every expense for at least six months. Take a look at how you should plan for an emergency savings fund:
Take a look at priorities. In the event of an emergency financial situation, your expenses should cover the following:
  • Housing expenses: Rent, mortgage, utilities, insurance.
  • Food: Groceries, school lunches.
  • Healthcare: Medical and dental insurance.
  • Debt: Credit card, loan payments.
  • Transportation: Car payments, loans, insurance, gas, and maintenance.
  • Personal Expenses: Grooming, memberships, entertainment. (These can seem secondary in nature of important expenses to prioritize, but these extra expenses do occur and add up fast, so plan adequately).
Meet with a financial advisor. A professional financial advisor can help you address your finances and help you better understand how you can improve. They can help you formulate the best plan with your earnings, lifestyle, and priorities in order to reach your savings goal. They can help you plan for a short-term and a long-term emergency fund. Emergency savings funds need to be liquid, accessible and low-risk. A financial planner can help you create the best storage plan for you to save smartly and be able to access immediately.
Make a budget. Once you have a list of essential expenses, prioritize the important and create a budget. Commit to a savings plan and devote a percentage of every single paycheck to savings. Consider making those payments to an emergency savings fund an automatic deduction from your paycheck. An automatic deduction will promote steady savings and you won’t be tempted to place that money elsewhere.

Build your savings. In addition to a percentage of your monthly income, consider how else you can contribute to an emergency account. Do you have unused goods to sell? Can you afford to take a second job or find an extra income opportunity? Take a look at what you can cut from your budget. Turn the thermostat down by a few degrees. Cancel memberships and services that you don’t use or don’t benefit from. Cook more meals and entertain more often at home. These small and minor lifestyle changes can make a significant change in your finances.
                                              
Stay on top of your payments. It may be easy enough to say, but it is important to understand the concept of living within your means. Look for ways to tighten your wallet, prevent overspending, and build regular savings. Prevent yourself from charging your expenses so that your credit score doesn’t plummet as you face an emergency financial hardship. Consider continuing these habits when you are no longer in financial hardship. Committing to regular and healthy savings habits can be a lifestyle change for some, but your finances will thank you for it!  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Serve the Community by Participating in Hops for Hunger

This weekend, the Southern Anoka Community Assistance will be presenting the fourth annual Hops for Hunger event. The Southern Anoka Community Assistance is a non-profit food shelf that has been serving the communities of Columbia Heights, Hilltop, Fridley, and Spring Lake Park for nearly forty years.

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The Southern Anoka Community Assistance Food Shelf annual craft beer fundraiser will be sponsored by Financial One Credit Union.

Hops for Hunger will feature delicious and unique beers from 19 local craft brewers including Indeed, Urban Growler, Barley John's Brew Pub, Boom Island, Fair State Brewing Co-op, Bauhaus, Sociable Cider Werks, Able Seedhouse & Brewery, Bent Brewstillery, Northgate, 10K Brewing, 612, North Loop Brew Co, Bad Weather, American Sky, Insight, 56 Brewing, Dangerous Man and Inbound Brewing.

The event will also include food catered by Chowgirls Killer Catering, a silent auction, and music by Minneapolis-based bands Analog Drifters and Blue Groove.

For each dollar raised through the Hops for Hunger event, Southern Anoka Community Assistance will be able to purchase eight pounds of food. To put that into perspective, one $40 ticket will buy 320 pounds of food.

Southern Anoka Community Assistance serves approximately between 39,500 to 45,000 pounds of food monthly to nearly 2,000 families in crisis. Southern Anoka Community Assistance also works with community partners, schools, and police and fire departments to bring food and hygiene products to students in need. The nonprofit also provides a homeless youth program and is in partnership with the 5 Anoka County food shelf.

The event will take place on Saturday, March 26th from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Solar Arts Building at 711 15th Avenue NE, Minneapolis. Tickets are $40. All proceeds will benefit the Southern Anoka Community Assistance Food Shelf. To reserve tickets, visit, 2016 Hops for Hunger 4.0.

Contribute to the community by enjoying a night of local crafts brews, delicious food created by Minneapolis chefs, and local music from Twin Cities natives.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Win Money by Saving Money

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Exciting news if you’re looking to save money in 2016: Financial One Credit Union will be taking part in WINcentive Savings, an incentive program that repays you for saving!


According to a survey done by bankrate.com in June of 2015, nearly 78% of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover them for six months if they were to lose their job. While this may be shocking, it’s even more disturbing that 29% of Americans don’t even have a saving account. Financial One is hoping to reverse this trend by partnering with WINcentive Savings and rewarding members for saving with cash prizes.


So how does WINcentive work?  
Think of this program like a lottery, only you can never lose. For every $25 you deposit into your WINcentive capable savings account, you will be entered into a drawing to win $100 monthly, $500 quarterly and $5,000 annually. Four entries per month are permitted; that means if you deposit $25 per week, not only will you have been entered to win the prize money, but you would have also saved $100 - a complete win-win. Financial One is one of 14 credit unions in Minnesota taking part in this incentive program that started on January 1st. Visit mncun.org for more information on the WINcentive program.


Not sure how you want to save?
Financial One not only has a well-informed staff that can help you figure out what’s important to you, but we also offer a variety of savings accounts to meet your individual needs. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are ideal for planning for the future, and Health Savings Accounts are perfect for members who want to set aside funds for medical expenses before they arise. These are just a few of the accounts offered; you can learn about more ways to save on our website.

For more information contact us on the web, or give us a call at (763) 404-7600.  The first WINcentive Savings drawing for January deposits begin in February, so now is the perfect time to start saving!