Stretches for Desk Workers

Stretches for Desk Workers
Woman stretching at desk

Stretches for Desk Workers

Whether you’re still working from home or going back to the office, chances are you’re sitting at a desk for most of the day. We’ve laid out some important stretches that you can do to keep your blood pumping, reduce pain, and improve posture.

Stretch Tip #1: Shoulders and Neck:

For the shoulders, reach your arms behind you, interlock your fingers, and lift your arms up. Be sure not to crane your neck while doing this.

For the neck, try a slow head roll. Start on one side, slowly roll your head to the other side, and hold it in place for 10 seconds. Then, repeat in the other direction.

Stretch Tip #2:

Hips: Kneel on the floor while holding your torso straight. Then, pick up one leg and place your foot flat on the floor, ensuring your knee is right above your ankle. Make sure your hips stay aligned as you move your torso forward, allowing your knee to glide forward as well. Hold this position for 30 seconds before switching legs.

Stretch Tip #3:

Legs: While standing, grab one of your ankles and pull it toward your buttock while ensuring you maintain an upright posture. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, then switch legs.

To stretch your hamstrings, stay seated at your desk chair. Extend one leg out, then reach toward your toes. Hold this stretch for 10 to 20 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Stretch Tip #4:

Back and Spine: Lie on the floor and draw both knees into your chest. From here, you can rock and massage your back. You can also extend one leg out while keeping the other hugged in. Slowly guide your hugged in knee across your center line toward the floor. Repeat on the other side.

Now that you’ve got these stretches in your pocket, try to take some time throughout the workday to stretch.

Sources: Healthline, Mayo Clinic, Greatist.com

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The Ultimate Tips to Overcome Objections

The Ultimate Tips to Overcome Objections
business agreement

The Ultimate Tips to Overcome Objections

Are you putting a ton of work into your sales process—working with a prospect for days, weeks, maybe even months—to get a deal to the finish line? Just to see it fall through because of some last-minute objection?

Today, we are going to talk about how to make you a stronger salesperson by working on overcoming objections.

Number One

The first thing we want to talk about today: Don’t get scared. It sounds so simple, but every sale has objections. If objections weren’t part of the sales process, everyone would be in sales. This is your chance to show how good of a sales rep you are. Know that the objection is going to come, and be prepared.

Number Two

That’s our second tip: be prepared. You know that there’s three to five objections in any sale that you’re automatically going to get. Don’t worry about the random ones that creep up; those are not going to be the majority of the things you have to deal with. It’s things like the partner, I have to check my budget, let me think about it—things you’re going to get on a daily basis. Make sure you have your script, practice it, and be prepared to deliver your rebuttal to that objection.

Number Three

The third tip: be confident. This is the point in the buying process where your buyer is starting to get a little fearful. They aren’t sure if they want to move forward and they’re a little less confident. You need to be confident for them. They need reassurance at this point. Do not waiver. Be confident. Stand your ground.

Number Four

Lastly, with our fourth tip: ask for the order. So many reps freeze in this moment. They give their prospect more time to think about why they should not move forward. If you can transition from your rebuttal into asking for the order again, you’re going to show your prospects how confident you are that they’re making a smart decision with choosing to work with you today.

There you have it. Four quick tips that hopefully help you deal better with the objections in your day to day. If you like what you saw here, start following us on Facebook and Instagram. But most of all, take action!

6 Ways To Stop Paying Rent and Own Your Own Home

6 Ways To Stop Paying Rent and Own Your Own Home
two happy people with new home

6 Ways To Stop Paying Rent and Own Your Own Home

People fear what they don’t understand. A good example is the purchase of a home. The average consumer knows very little about the home buying process. Between finding the right house, making sure it won’t fall apart the day after you buy, and finding the best financing, it’s no wonder so many people are afraid to buy homes.

Purchasing a home is one of the most important financial decisions you’ll ever make. For a first-time homebuyer, the decision to purchase can be daunting. It represents a major step since you and your family will potentially be assuming your largest responsibility. As with any major decision, it’s important that everyone—especially first-time homebuyers—take full advantage of the information that’s available to more clearly understand the home buying process.

To prepare, do some research before beginning the search for your dream home. Here are 6 steps to get started:

STEP 1: Before you start your house search, think carefully about what it will be like to be a homeowner. For most people, homeownership can be one of the most significant financial turning points in their lives. The advantages (tax benefits, pride of ownership, financial investment) far outweigh any drawbacks.

STEP 2: Your credit history is one of the first things a lender will look at in making a decision on your loan. Request a copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, Innovis and/or TransUnion, and review it carefully to be sure all the information is correct. If you find discrepancies, work with the credit agencies to resolve them.

STEP 3: Saving for a down payment can be one of the biggest barriers to homeownership. Mortgage lenders recognize this dilemma, and some even offer loans with down payments as low as 0%, under certain circumstances.

STEP 4: Keep in mind that most real estate agents represent the seller, not the buyer. But it’s possible to work with a Realtor who is dedicated to YOUR interests as a homebuyer. By using a “buyer’s agent”, you have a real estate professional in your corner who can disclose things to you about the seller (or the home) that you’d never learn if you dealt only with the seller’s agent. Best of all, even though a buyer’s agent works for you (not the seller), you don’t pay their commission (the seller does)! If a Realtor won’t offer you a buyer agent agreement, look for another agent.

STEP 5: Before you begin working with a Realtor, find a mortgage lender you can trust and ask to be pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval is different from pre-qualification. Getting a pre-qualification letter is easy. You just call a mortgage lender, provide some basic financial information, then wait a few minutes for the letter to come via fax or email. Getting a “pre-qual” from a website is just as easy. Enter some information, click “submit” and voilà.

A pre-approval letter, on the other hand, involves verification of the information. Rather than taking your word on faith, the lender will ask for documentation to confirm your employment, the source of your down payment and other aspects of your financial circumstances. Granted, a pre-approval is more time-consuming (and possibly more stressful) than a pre-qualification, but the additional due diligence is exactly why the pre-approval carries more weight.

Most lenders will provide this service free of charge. Pre-approval will let you know exactly how much you can spend on a home BEFORE you start your search. A pre-approval in hand also makes you a more attractive buyer when you’re ready to make an offer on a home. Home sellers are more likely to accept an offer from a buyer who can demonstrate the ability to secure financing.

STEP 6: Many mortgage lenders, nonprofits, and even Realtors offer homebuyer education classes to prepare you for homeownership. Classes normally run about four hours and cover the basics of home buying. Some of the topics covered are how to apply for a loan, finding the right Realtor, making an offer on a home, and the advantages and responsibilities of homeownership.

So, what’s in it for you?

Obviously, there are real advantages to getting yourself out of the “trap” of paying rent. Now that you’ve seen some of the steps involved in achieving that goal, what’s the best way to proceed?

Yes, you could wander out into the mortgage market on your own and start shopping, comparing and negotiating directly with banks. Even if you’re working with a trusted real estate agent, you’re still pretty much on your own when it comes to financing since most Realtors don’t fully understand mortgages.

Keep in mind that that once you’ve signed a purchase agreement, you have to apply for a mortgage almost immediately. Is a day or two long enough for you to make a decision all by yourself that could affect you and your family for the next 30 years?

Dealing directly with a financial institution can add even more stress. Most banks like to “cherry pick” the easy clients that fit into standard off-the-shelf mortgage products. If your needs are slightly different, you may be turned down or end up paying a higher rate.

Why complicate and struggle through what should be one of life’s greatest pleasures? As your local mortgage lender, I’d be happy to help you realize your dreams of homeownership and take care of everything for you, for FREE. By working with a true professional—someone who has specialized knowledge of home financing—you can get the best available mortgage program and rate plus be confident you’ve made the right decision for today and the foreseeable future. The result: you’ll possibly save thousands of dollars and take a big step toward future financial security!

Down Payments: How Much Do You Really Need?

Down Payments: How Much Do You Really Need?
home buying cartoon

Down Payments: How Much Do You Really Need?

Down Payments: How Much Do You Really Need?

This is one of the very first questions most first time home buyers ask themselves, “How much do I need for a down payment?” Saving up for a down payment can be one of the biggest hurdles for buyers to overcome but there is still that prevailing myth that you need a 20 percent down payment but that’s simply not true. Different loan programs have different minimum down payment requirements and it’s even possible to get into a home with no down payment at all. Let’s take a look at different types of loan programs and what their guidelines say.

VA Loans

VA loans require nothing for a down payment. It’s a zero down program available to veterans of the armed forces, active duty personnel with at least 181 days of service, National Guard and Armed Forces Reserve members with at least six years of service and unremarried spouses of those who have died while in service or as a result of a service related injury. Not only do VA loans eliminate the need for a down payment there is no monthly mortgage insurance payment required, making homes even more affordable.

USDA Loans

USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) loans do not require a down payment. This program has been around for years in different forms and today provides a way for to finance homes located in rural and semi-rural areas. As long as the property is located in an area approved by the USDA, borrowers can apply for a USDA loan. USDA loans are also designed to those considered as “moderate” income. USDA loans limit the amount of household income to 115% of the median income for the area. If you want to see if a particular property is in an approved area or want more information about a USDA loan, give us a call and provide us with the property address.

FHA Loans

FHA loans ask for a down payment of only 3.5% of the sales price. There are no limitations regarding income limits, where the property is located or being in a particular class of borrowers. The FHA loan can be used by anyone. FHA loans are limited by the loan amount however and this amount can vary based upon location. FHA loan limits are set for each individual county. In West Palm Beach the current limit is $345,000 for a single family home and $450,800 for Naples.

Conventional Loans

Conventional loans are those underwritten to standards established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and are the most popular loans issued in today’s marketplace, garnering nearly two-thirds of the market share for home loans. The minimum down payment for a conventional loan is 5.0% of the sales price of the home. Fannie Mae has a loan program designed for low to moderate income buyers that asks for a down payment as low as 3.0% of the sales price.

Understanding the Mortgage Credit Certificate Program

Understanding the Mortgage Credit Certificate Program
choosing house

Understanding the Mortgage Credit Certificate Program

The Mortgage Credit Certificate Programs which are also known as MCC, allows homebuyers to claim a tax credit for a percentage of their paid mortgage interest each year.  It is a dollar-for-dollar reduction against your federal tax liability.

Who is Eligible:

  • Homebuyers who have not owned a home within the past three years.
  • You do not exceed the income and home purchase price limits.
  • You meet the lender qualification for a mortgage loan.
  •  You will occupy the home as your primary residence.

How Much of a Credit Can You Claim?

  • The amount of annual tax credit can range from 10 to 50 percent of the annual mortgage interest you pay each year.
  • The annual tax credit cannot exceed the lesser of $2,000 or your annual federal tax liability.
  • Each State/Local jurisdiction has MCC percentage and income/price limits.

Here is a sample MCC calculation that shows how this works:

$200,000 (mortgage amount) x 4 percent (mortgage interest rate) x 20 percent (MCC percentage)
= $1,600 (eligible credit amount)

Thus, the borrower would be able to claim $1,600 in credit on his or her annual tax return.

Contact Us for Information About Our State and Local Jurisdiction MCC Credits!

5 tips for successful house shopping during a pandemic

5 tips for successful house shopping during a pandemic
House bubble

5 tips for successful house shopping during a pandemic

Whether you’re house hunting during flu season or a pandemic, here are some strategies to help you find what you’re looking for while staying safe:

  1. Start with a video tour. Get an overall sense of each home’s condition and layout by taking a video tour and viewing photos. Use this knowledge to develop a short list of homes that you’ll actually visit.
  2. Expect to fill out health questionnaires. Before visiting a home, you may be asked to sign a form that certifies you’re symptom-free. You may also have to sign a form to acknowledge that visiting a home carries a risk of transmission.
  3. Keep your schedule flexible. Some showings and open houses may limit the number of potential buyers in a property at once. You may need to book a specific time. And throughout the shopping and buying process, expect delays as the industry accommodates new rules and staffing levels.
  4. Wear a mask. This is highly recommended for showings and meetings with Realtors, lawyers and mortgage brokers. Take your own hand sanitizer too, and use it each time you touch anything or sign a form.
  5. Be prepared for competition. As pandemic restrictions lift, buyers are flooding into the market all at once. To get the home you want, you may need to make your best offer first.

For other house-hunting tips, contact us today!

3 questions to ask your mortgage lender

3 questions to ask your mortgage lender
question marks

3 questions to ask your mortgage lender

Buying a home is a big investment as well as a complex and time-consuming transaction. Whether you’re brand new to home ownership or a seasoned purchaser, you need the support and advice of a local mortgage professional. Specifically, you need answers to these 3 questions:

  1. What kind of mortgage is best for me? Once your local mortgage expert has done a thorough analysis of your financial needs and goals, the next step is to recommend mortgage options. If your goal is to cut interest costs and become mortgage-free faster, a 15-year mortgage may be a good choice. But that may not make sense if you’re planning to sell in the medium term. If you have credit challenges or a small down payment, you may want to consider an FHA loan. Whatever your situation, it’s essential that your mortgage match your needs and goals.
  2. What am I going to pay? You’re entitled to receive a detailed loan estimate that includes all costs, including mortgage broker fees, interest rate, monthly payment, lender fees, closing costs, prepayment penalties, taxes and insurance. If the loan you’re being offered won’t fit your budget, ask for more options. Do a side-by-side comparison of various lenders and mortgages, then choose the most cost-effective option.
  3. Should I save a larger down payment? Saving a 20% down payment means you won’t have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). But draining all your savings for a down payment isn’t a wise decision since you should always have enough cash on hand to cover 3 to 6 months of emergency expenses. Your mortgage expert can help you decide whether PMI makes sense, or whether you can qualify for a loan that doesn’t require PMI at all, like VA loans.

As your local mortgage experts, we’re happy to do a free analysis of your finances and help you find the most cost-effective mortgage for your specific needs. Call us today!

How to prepare your finances for a natural disaster or pandemic.

How to prepare your finances for a natural disaster or pandemic.
calculator and money

How to prepare your finances for a natural disaster or pandemic

The thing about crisis situations is that you never know when to expect them. The only way to cope is by being prepared. Here’s how to prepare your finances to help you make it through challenging times:

  • Start saving an emergency fund. The best advice is to have enough set aside to get you through 6 months without income. That’s a challenge but work toward $1,000 then build from there.
  • Set aside money for major home repairs. This is especially important if you live in an older home. Get a home inspection done so you can make a list of everything you need to budget for.
  • Make sure you’re adequately insured. Savings alone won’t cover major property destruction. Insurance is essential, but regular homeowner policies don’t cover all disasters. For floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc., you usually have to buy separate coverage.
  • Have an emergency document kit. Keep copies of important documents (as well as some cash and a USB stick of digital documents) in a waterproof, fireproof box. It should contain insurance policies, mortgage or lease information, wills, investment records, driver’s license, government ID, photos of your home and possessions, and real estate documents, including appraisals. The more evidence you have of your property value before a loss occurs, the better.

If you’d like advice from one of our trusted local insurance partners, please call us today!

When is it smart to pay off your mortgage early?

When is it smart to pay off your mortgage early?
house and money

When is it smart to pay off your mortgage early?

Being mortgage-free sounds wonderful. But as with most financial choices, there are pros and cons. Before using an inheritance, a raise or savings to pay off your mortgage early, here are some things to consider:

  • Immediate savings. Paying off your mortgage eliminates monthly payments and saves you thousands of dollars in interest.
  • Peace of mind. If you’re the kind of person who lies awake at night worrying about
    finances, imagine the peace of mind that comes with being mortgage-free! It may not always be the most cost-effective choice, but you’ll find life a lot less stressful.
  • Enforced savings. Some of us have difficulty saving money unless we’re forced to. Paying off your mortgage makes your money less accessible so you’re more likely to save it and less likely to blow it on a whim.
  • Borrowing potential. Even if you use all your savings to pay off your mortgage, you can still get affordable access to the money you need with a home equity line of credit (HELOC).
  • Investment potential. If you put your money in the stock market instead of paying down your mortgage, on average you’d end up ahead financially. But as recent events demonstrate, stocks sometimes lose money. On the other hand, you could invest your money in a revenue property so you earn rental income and capital gains. Again, on average you’d end up financially ahead—except during real estate downturns.
  • Liquidity. Paying off your mortgage may take up all your savings, leaving you with very little liquidity (cash to spend). Everyone needs cash on hand for emergencies, house and car repairs, etc.
  • Investment risk. Putting all your savings into your mortgage can be risky if real estate markets drop. If you need to sell during a downturn, you may get less money out of your home than you put in.

If you’re trying to decide whether to pay off your mortgage early, call us today for a free analysis of your financial situation!

Making an Offer on a House? 11 Strategies to Win

Making an Offer on a House? 11 Strategies to Win
women typing on keyboard

Making an Offer on a House? 11 Strategies to Win

So you’ve found your dream house and you’re ready to make an offer, but how do you make sure your offer stands out among all the others? How do you make your offer more appealing? Whether you’re dealing with a competitive housing market or a cautious seller, getting your offer accepted requires creativity, compromise, and a strong strategy.

So how can you convince a seller to side in your favor? Check out these 11 strategies to help you seal the deal and make “home sweet home” a reality.

1. Get pre-approved for a home loan
Getting pre-approved will show the home seller you can actually afford to buy the home. This is an important step for a buyer in any situation, but it’s even more critical if you want to make the strongest case that your offer is solid.

2. Offer more than the list price
Whether you’re making an offer on a house in Atlanta, GA or are looking to buy a condo in Dallas, TX, offering more money than anyone else usually wins the deal. So if you can afford it, offer more than the list price.

3. Add an escalation addendum
When making an offer on a house, you can stipulate that if anyone beats your offer you’ll raise your offer by a certain amount, with a cap as high as you’re willing to go. This also helps you avoid overpaying, but still keeps you in the game in case there are other offers coming in.

4. Waive contingencies
Contingencies are certain things that must be met in order to close a deal on a property – such as a home inspection. In multiple offer situations, buyers can waive some or all contingencies to reduce the seller’s risk and speed up the home selling process. Generally, the fewer contingencies you have, the stronger, but riskier, your offer.

5. Increase earnest money
Earnest money, also referred to as the good faith deposit, is typically 1%–3% of the sale price of the home and is applied toward the buyer’s closing costs. It also shows that a homebuyer is serious about the purchase of a home, because if they walk away from a deal after it’s been accepted, such as a change of heart, the home seller usually gets to keep the earnest money. By increasing the amount of earnest money you put down, you can show how serious you are about buying any home.

6 . Increase the amount you’re willing to put down
A higher down payment typically means less financing issues with a mortgage lender and also less risk for a seller. So when you are wondering how to make an offer on a home and win, a higher down payment can make the difference. Presenting documents such as pay stubs, tax forms, and your 401(k) balance can also show that not only are you prepared to put more down, but you also have the funds to do it.

7. Write a personal letter to the seller
Sometimes a personal offer letter can win a seller over when making an offer on a house. Tell them what you love about the home and try to make a personal connection. Compliment them on a recent renovation, a color palette choice, or the landscaping. It won’t always matter, but sometimes a personal touch such as a letter can mean more than having the highest bid.

8. Release earnest money early
This means the seller gets your earnest money, in cash, prior to closing. The strongest offers release all of it immediately upon going under contract. Note: This option only makes sense if you waive all contingencies when making an offer on a house.

9. Be flexible with the closing date
If your lender allows and you’ve been through underwriting, you can promise to close quicker (15–21 days). Generally, the faster the closing process, the stronger your offer. However, the seller may be looking for a longer closing process. In that case, letting the home seller know that you’re flexible with the closing date could allow them the much needed time to move their belongings into their next house.

10. Arrange a rent-back agreement
If the seller is nervous about selling their home before they can buy a new one, you can offer to be flexible with the closing date or arrange a rent-back agreement.This gives the sellers extra time to live in the home after closing. Essentially the buyer takes on the role of the landlord, and the seller becomes the tenant for a short period of time.

11. Pay in cash
This isn’t going to apply to everyone, but if you have the cash to cover the purchase price, offer to pay it all up front instead of getting financing. Not only are you eliminating the need for a third party to get involved in the deal, but you’re also showing the seller that you mean business.

Originally published by Redfin