Benefits Of Being A Good Neighbor

By January 11, 2019

Good Neighbor


When you think about the places you have lived, what do you remember the most? That really cool restaurant nearby? Your favorite store around the corner? Ask many people what they most remember about a previous home and they’re likely to say, “The people I knew and the relationships I had with my neighbors.”

If this is the case for you, you’ve already experienced some of the benefits of being part of a neighborhood. Having someone in the area you can trust with an extra key in case you lock yourself out or who can pick up your papers and mail while you are on vacation offers more than just convenience – it’s good for your health.

A Matter of Trust

Over the years, studies have found a correlation between trust and health. People who trust their neighbors are less stressed and report feeling better. Among older respondents in one of the studies, people with strong interpersonal contact appeared to live longer. 

While it may be a stretch to say having good neighbors saves lives, a neighborhood that fosters familiarity becomes a place where people look out for one another, their kids, property, and public safety. However, to have good neighbors, it helps to be a good neighbor.

5 Traits of a Good Neighbor

  1. Responsible pet ownership. Good neighbors take measures to ensure that their pets stay on their property and clean up after them when on walks. Additionally, in the case of dogs, they try to bring barking episodes to a quick end.

  2. Mindful parking etiquette. In busy areas, it is easy to unwittingly block driveways or park in reserved spots. Being aware helps, as does making sure visitors know where they should park when visiting.

  3. Forthright with potential surprises. From providing a head’s up when entertaining to giving advance notice when having work done on a home that might impact others, it helps to warn neighbors of the potential for temporary inconvenience.

  4. Reliable sources of news and information. There may be a need for improved awareness or for sharing news of the neighborhood. Staying connected and being involved helps.

  5. Selective about houseguests. As person-to-person rentals of rooms and entire homes have become more prevalent, it helps to be considerate of your neighbors when participating in these programs. Let them know if you have tenants booked and make sure to give detailed instructions to tenants about parking and noise rules, etc.

Choosing a Home While Choosing a Community

Whether you buy a home in the suburbs or a condo in an urban area, you have an opportunity to belong to a community of people who share your interest in keeping the neighborhood attractive to future homebuyers.

Meeting neighbors and bringing people together often starts with a wave and a smile. Some areas have annual block parties. Others set up lending “libraries” for tools. Some even offer online communities using Facebook, or other social apps, to share information. Many individuals have added outdoor areas to the fronts of their homes to increase interaction with their neighbors. It doesn’t take much to reap the benefits of being part of a community, just a willingness to belong.

Beware Store Credit Cards

By January 11, 2019

Credit Cards


Tis the season! So much shopping to do and when it seems there is a sale everywhere, it’s hard to resist buying a few things for yourself, the home, etc. Sometimes when money starts going out in December, we just go with the flow and figure we’ll worry about the budget “next month.” Similar to our diets – once control is lost, we just let go and enjoy the ride. The release can be therapeutic for many, and it allows us to blow off steam so that we’re ready to knuckle down and get back to business once the festivities are over.

Stores and credit card companies know we tend to be a little looser with our purse strings and willpower during the holidays. We have so much to do and buy and have limited time and money with which to do it. Enter the store credit card pitch.

When the cash register is beeping away, and your purchase receipt is getting longer and longer, it’s hard not to listen when the store employee says, “Would you like to apply for a [insert store name here] card? You would get [insert amazing deal here]!” It might be 10% or 20% off your current purchase or perhaps it’s no-interest/no payments for a certain amount of time? Or maybe you’ll get a gift card so you can come back and spend more later?

Whatever the deal, whatever the store, the deals usually sound great at the time, but let’s look at why you need to be careful. You may end up paying way more than the discount you receive.

Also, if you are currently in escrow for a home, you need to be very careful about opening any new credit card accounts. The credit check necessary when opening a card can have an adverse effect on your credit and if you charge a significant amount, it can affect your loan to value (LTV). It’s best to wait until your home purchase has closed before buying any expensive items on credit. If in doubt, always check with your Loan Officer first.

Let’s look at some common deals so you can be prepared once an offer is extended.

A certain percentage off entire purchase

The current average store credit card annual percentage rate (APR) is 24.99%. Many jewelry retailers can be as high as 28%, even for customers with good credit. If you accept an offer of 10% off your total bill and then don’t pay entire bill in the first month, you are paying the company back the 10% you saved, plus an additional 14.99%. It depends on how often your credit card compounds though and that can vary card to card.

Keep in mind, if you’re savvy and disciplined, you can benefit from that discount but you must pay the whole purchase off the first month. If you don’t have stellar credit, the APR can be even higher, so be careful. Or, if the store offers, take the account option that is tied to your debit card so you can get a discount and not carry a revolving credit card balance.

No interest/no payments

Financial advisers often caution about accepting these offers because the downside can be quite severe. But if you know and understand the caveats of these offers, you can utilize them for the excellent deals they are. The catch is they must be paid off completely before the no-interest/no-payment time period is up. Even if you don’t have a minimum payment due each month, you still may be accruing interest every month.

Ignore the “no payment” option and set up a payment plan for yourself that will have the entire bill paid before your trial period ends, with no exceptions. To illustrate how crucial this is, let’s say you’ve accepted a 12-month, same-as-cash offer (another name for no interest/no monthly payments).

If you bought a big-ticket item (usually the case for these offers) such as a new refrigerator, let’s say for $2,000 total, you need to calculate the entire financed balance and divide it by 12. Make sure it’s going be paid in full by the end of your 12-month period.

Pay that amount each month without fail. If you pay off the refrigerator within the 12-months, you truly do get it for no interest or same as cash. However, if you have any balance at all, possibly even $1, you run the risk of being billed for the entire 12 months of interest. Bottom line: read the details of your agreement carefully.

A free gift or gift card with new account

This is another impulse deal. You’re stressed, at the checkout stand and under pressure to get your errands done. It’s not uncommon for stores to offer hard-to-find or premium items as an enticement to opening a credit card. Or a gift card, which can help with your additional shopping. If it’s not something you need or are looking for, resist temptation and politely say, “No.” Or if you do want the item, use the same rule of thumb: pay off the card the first month. You get your free gift and won’t pay more than your original bill. Keep in mind, when your January budget is already feeling the pinch from the end of the year, that bill may not be as easy to pay as you expect.

Be mindful of pressures

If you’ve decided to resist these offers or accept them only on your own terms, please be courteous of employees who extend the invitations. Because these offers are so profitable for the stores, it’s not uncommon for employees to be under tremendous pressure to open new accounts. These incentives can be in the form of a daily or monthly contest where they receive a prize for having the most or disciplinary action for not having enough. Stores may even utilize secret shoppers to make sure the employees are asking every single shopper if they want to open an account. Please be patient with those pitches and just say, “No thank you,” if you’re not interested.  

A little relaxing of the rules during the holidays can help celebrate the season but be mindful of traps that can cause you to pay for months on a moderate discount today.

Millennials and Communication: How To Engage

By January 11, 2019


Digital Natives Have a Different Way of Researching, Shopping and Keeping in Touch

Like most industries, and the way we live, lending and real estate are changing because the largest cohort of consumers is changing. Our newest, largest wave of potential homebuyers are millennials who are preparing for and easing into homebuying in ways very different than their parents and grandparents. As digital natives, millennials research, shop, communicate, and raise a down payment are also different from the generations before as well. 

Because they’re doing things their way, industries courting this market must adjust to optimize a connection in different ways too. If we want to compete on this new, high-tech playing field, communicate with them the way they want to be communicated with so you can help them understand their homebuying advantages. 

Buyers in Need of Guidance

Millennials are expected to overtake baby boomers in sheer size in 2019, and they’re already the largest segment of first-time homebuyers. Why is this so important to real estate agents and loan officers? Well, as the saying goes, “This isn’t my first rodeo.” Once a person has purchased a home, they don’t usually need as much assistance as those who have never done it before. Also, they are not as in need of many of the types of programs first-time homebuyers are, such as low down payment options, down payment assistance and homebuyer education resources. 

Reaching millennials with the knowledge they need is a great way to connect with them. Respect their need to self-serve and research at their own pace in the beginning but be prepared to offer helpful information once a connection is made. Use finesse in this stage of the game when an overt sales pitch might turn them off. Send relevant, helpful content and use phrases such as, “I thought you might find this interesting.” It can be a text, email or social media post. Pro tip: Find out their preferred method of communication early on. (More about this below.)

New Behaviors, Old Ideas

Though they’re connected and have access to the entire internet of information, young homebuyers may still believe many of the old, traditional rules their parents and grandparents have passed on without realizing it. 

These traditional homebuying “rules” (now homebuying myths) may include: 

  • You need a 20% down payment

  • You need to have excellent credit

  • You can’t have a high debt-to-income ratio

  • You should be married and ready to have kids before you buy

Those in the industry know these are no longer true but if a young person has internalized his or her parents’ life experiences, they may not realize these “rules” may no longer apply. When they begin their research process, hopefully, they’ll quickly learn that things have changed. 

How Professionals Can Help

Down payment assistance (DPA) programs are probably one of the better-kept secrets in the housing industry and the fact that the recipients don’t necessarily have to be low income even more so. Loan Officers and Housing Industry Professionals who regularly keep apprised of their state’s options can provide a valuable service to their clients. Since the down payment is often considered one of the biggest hurdles to homebuying, the sooner potential buyers can overcome this, the sooner they might be able to purchase a home. 

Individual states may offer DPA for veterans, law-enforcement professionals, educators, recent college graduates, etc. Making it a habit to search your state’s first-time homebuyer programs every few months in order to share the information with clients may speed their homebuying goals by months or even years. This also gives professionals an ideal opportunity to reach out to contacts every few months to share tips and information without being too obtrusive. 

Communicate with Clients in Their Terms

There are so many ways to communicate these days, and one thing is becoming increasingly more evident – people tend to have one or two preferred modes of communication and using the others risks annoying them. For those who prefer text, a phone call might be perceived as too intrusive. Those who prefer email might ignore texts. If they want to speak with a real person, robocalls or email will likely garner no response. One of the best ways housing industry professionals can keep in touch with their “incubating” clients is to learn their preferred method of communication and use it. From there, it is easy to check in (periodically) to share relevant tips. 

Keep clear notes about your clients so you are sure to connect with them on their terms and also know the issues the client is working on so you can share personalized content and information. If you utilize an app such as GoGo Partner from New American Funding, you can make notes for each client and log their communication preferences, where they are in their homebuying journey, and what type of information/assistance they might need or tend to respond to.

For instance, if you have clients who have almost compiled their down payment but are working on clearing up their credit, you might check in with them with a quick text: “Hi, I hope all is well. Last time we talked, you were working on your credit – I thought you might find this helpful. If you have any questions, give me a call.” And link to content with tips about raising one’s credit score. 

Keep it Light and Low Pressure

People remain in contact with professionals or follow them on social media because they are interested in their input or products. This is a great way to build trust and a comfortable relationship. But beware of too many overt sales pitches because they can quickly become a turnoff. Extend help and share information in a personal way, so it doesn’t come off like a blanket pitch or form letter, and offer answers to any relevant questions they ask. 

If you sense, by their questions, that they’re nearing the point where they move from “casual shopper” to “serious buyer,” you can increase your contact, with content that may be more immediate. An example would be offering to get them preapproved or sharing the GoGo Home app that will help with their search. 

With all the ways there are to communicate, share tips and knowledge, and keep in touch, understanding how your potential customers want to be communicated with is half the battle. As the professionals, we must learn and grow to capture the millennial market by speaking their language.

New American Makes National Mortgage News' 2019 Best Mortgage Companies to Work For List!

By January 11, 2019

New American Funding has been named a Best Mortgage Companies to Work For by National Mortgage News and Best Companies Group for 2019. The national mortgage lender ranked 31st in the nation. The annual survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize, and honor the best employers in the U.S. mortgage industry. Thirty-seven companies made the inaugural list.

To see the full 2019 list, please visit: National Mortgage News

“We’re extremely honored to have National Mortgage News recognize us as one of the best mortgage companies to work for,” said Rick Arvielo, CEO of New American Funding. “We do our best to cultivate a positive, family atmosphere here and we’re gratified our employees have given such amazing feedback.”

To be eligible for the list, companies from across the United States entered a two-part survey process to determine placement. The first part evaluated each company's workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems, and demographics. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. The combined scores determined the top companies and final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process, analyzed the data, and determined the final rankings.

"Securing and retaining top talent is one of the biggest challenges faced by every employer,” said Austin Kilgore, editor in chief of National Mortgage News. "We launched this annual ranking to recognize companies committed to investing in their employees' growth and development and to inform executives looking for insight on how to boost job satisfaction among their own teams.”

In recent months, New American Funding has received notable accolades including a Gold Stevie® for Employer of the Year and Best Workplace for Women and Best Workplaces for Diversity by FORTUNE and Great Place to Work®. 

Pantone Color of the Year 2019 - Living Coral

By January 11, 2019

At first blush, the hue is inspired by the living coral found in thriving oceanic reefs throughout the world but the inspiration for its uses can translate to land uses anywhere. It is 2019’s Pantone Color of the Year: Living Coral.

“Animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone” is how Pantone described this particular shade in its announcement of the 2019 Color of the Year: Living Coral. This pinkish-orange shade is already making its impression on design trends for paint colors, clothing and apparel and interior looks. Whether the shade makes you think of the vibrance of multicolored reefs, brilliant sunrises and sunsets or the perfect cut of salmon, this color does represent life-affirming memories and emotions.

“Vibrant, yet mellow PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment,” the announcement further describes the emotional impact of the color.

Whereas 2018’s choice, “Ultra Violet” was intense, deep and powerful. Or, as some designers described, “In your face,” Living Coral represents a more soothing palette. Maybe this is the calm our psyches need this year – a color that evokes saltwater aquariums, a young girl’s favorite summer dress, or a day-spa relaxation room?

Some might be reminded of tropical vacations and the color of conch shells, tropical fish and birds, and the aforementioned sunrises and sunsets. It is a transformative color, whether it evokes delightful memories or puts you in a serene, calm, relaxing state of mind whenever you encounter it.

So, what are the ways you can incorporate the serenity of this color to evoke its magic?


This color is ideal for spring and summer, both day and evening. It complements a tan, and it’s been a favorite for vacation and resort wear for women on and off for years. But it can work for men as well. Going well with khaki or denim, a coral polo is the perfect shade to keep you cool while hitting the links or enjoying vacation outings. 


Foster soothing calm so you can get restful sleep. This color coordinates well with neutrals, such as browns, muted greens and grays. It also contrasts nicely with black and whites. So, if some find the color too feminine or light, touches can be incorporated in the form of accessories, pillows, a lamp base, or perhaps a glass art and a few florals to brighten up a neutral or dark room?


This color (or hues close to it) can be found in nature a lot, especially among food. Think smoked salmon, Himalayan sea salt, pink grapefruit … this color can bring vibrancy to your dishes or food-themed décor in the kitchen. Brightly colored backsplashes are expected to be on trend this season. What if you incorporated a bit of Living Coral to your décor? This color works as retro or modern too, so it can provide a vintage or contemporary look, depending on the presentation.


Who doesn’t remember this color common among tile choices for midcentury architecture? Compared to teal and white, it was one of most prevalent. And according to decorator Pam Kueber (seen in article linked above), there was a reason for that. The color was Mamie Eisenhower’s favorite. While “Mamie Pink” may have been closer to a standard pink, there were variations on coral that were quite popular as well. After studying the phenomenon of why pink bathrooms were so popular in the 1950s, Kueber launched a movement called

This was now a decade ago and has elicited national media attention where Kueber has given tips and decorating ideas that will update the pink bathroom while maintaining their authenticity and history. Incidentally, if you check the blog, “10 Facts About Pink Bathrooms” on Pam’s blog, one of the great reasons for the color is that the reflected lighting is extremely flattering for everyone.

If you’d like to take some of your décor from Ultra Violet to Living Coral to help you calm things down a bit in the coming year, a remodel or renovation can be just the solution you’re looking for. A Cash Out Refinance from New American Funding can help finance your new look.