We’re excited to announce that our Senior VP of Sales & Marketing, Daniela Bigalli, is being featured as a guest on Fintech Hunting, a podcast that highlights lending leaders, tech visionaries, and innovative executives. Hosted by Michael Hammond JD, CMT, keynote speaker, author, and founder of NexLevel Advisors, Fintech Hunting brings you valuable insights from the industry’s greatest financial leaders.
You can find Daniela’s episode on Fintech Hunting on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or Anchor FM. Tune in to hear Daniela’s insights.
If you’re looking to buy a home this year, you’ll want to know all you can know before diving in. Here’s what to expect when it comes to the housing market and getting a mortgage in 2020.
Low Rates and an Extended Buying Season
With rates low in 2019 and expected to stay low or even move lower, the 2020 housing market is an ideal environment for buyers. Thanks to these enticing rates, the buying season is extending – starting earlier than usual as buyers move to snag low rates.
More New Home Construction and Purchases
Since December, there has been a 40% increase in applications to purchase newly constructed homes. With 2019’s shortage of homes for sale, home construction is on the rise to catch up with demand. As more homes are built, the market that was so desperately in need of inventory should see a strong season of home buying.
Advancements in Technology Create a Favorable Environment for First-Time Homebuyers
Technology has been relentlessly growing and improving for years. As a result, the process of attaining a mortgage will continue to be changed by advancements in technology. Digital improvements will make the mortgage experience easier and quicker, which will be very attractive to millennials and first-time home buyers. Thanks to low rates and technology that create a streamlined mortgage process, we should see a favorable environment for buyers who have been holding off from purchasing their first home due to high home costs and a competitive market.
Home Values Increase
Home prices are expected to appreciate by about 5.6%, up from 2019’s 3.5% appreciation. This is great news for sellers and anyone looking to refinance. Homeowners looking to take advantage of this opportunity who aren’t looking to sell can utilize the increased equity to go for cash-out refinancing in order to pay off debt or invest in home renovations.
2020 will be a year of change and shifting trends when it comes to housing and mortgages. Driven by expansions in technology at a time when younger, more tech-savvy buyers are entering the market, the mortgage and real estate landscape will create an advantageous time for first-time home buyers. Buyers and sellers alike may be able to thrive if they keep these trends in mind and make smart decisions.
Is 2020 Your Year to Buy or Refinance?
If you’re looking to buy a home or refinance your existing one in 2020, contact us today to find out how you can get started.
Source: National Mortgage News, NerdWallet
2020 is a Leap Year, a year that comes every 4 years in which there are 366 days rather than 365 days. Read on to learn more about what leap years are, why we have them, the history behind their celebration, and other interesting facts, including what to do when your birthday lands on February 29th.
What is a Leap Year and Why Do We Have it?
The Earth doesn’t spin around the sun in exactly 365 days. It actually takes an extra 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds longer than that, making the solar year 365.242 days. This means that, if we don’t account for that extra time, our calendar will fall behind the seasons we’re used to. So, in 750 years, June would start in the middle of winter. Throughout history, we’ve tried to account for this in different ways. Today, we remedy this by, every 4 years, adding an extra day to the end of February – the 29th.
But even that doesn’t completely solve the problem. So we have to add in a few little extra rules you’ll see explained below.
We all know that leap years are the years that are divisible by 4 (i.e. 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024, etc.), but there are some exceptions to this rule, which can get kind of confusing. To put it as simply as possible, if the year is also divisible by 100 (i.e. 1800, 1900, etc.), it is NOT a leap year. However, if it is divisible by 100, but also divisible by 400 (i.e. 1600, 2000, etc.), then it actually is a leap year. If that was confusing. see our handy chart above to help you easily determine when it’s a leap year!
History of Leap Years
Throughout history, humans have dealt with the fact that the solar year doesn’t line up with our calendar in many different ways. The ancient Sumerian calendar of 5,000 years ago very simply divided the year into 12 months with 30 days each. With just 360 days, this calendar was an entire week shorter than the Earth’s orbit around the sun. The Egyptians who adopted this calendar attempted to solve that problem by adding an extra 5 days of festivals and partying at the end of the year.
The Egyptians eventually began observing a 365-day year with a leap-year system. But the Romans were still behind, trying to adjust their calendar by randomly adding days or months here and there. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar declared they would, for just one year, take on a 445-day calendar he called the Year of Confusion. The idea behind this decree was to all at once correct the damage that had already been done from years of drifting out of sync with the seasons. After this, he ordered a 365.25-day year with a leap day added every four years.
But even this change wasn’t good enough. Since 365.25 days, while close, is still longer than the 365.2422-day solar year, Pope Gregory XIII eventually created the Gregorian calendar that we currently follow in which a leap day is occassionally skipped. This makes the average year 365.2425 days long – much closer to the solar 365.2422-day year. While this still doesn’t perfectly line up with the solar year, it will be 3,300 years before this calendar begins to diverge from our solar year by a day.
What Happens if Your Birthday is on a Leap Day?
If you were born on February 29th, you might be called a “leapster” or a “leapling.” About 5 million people on earth were born on February 29th. Out of 7.5 billion people, that means 0.07% of people on earth are leapsters.
So which day do you celebrate your birthday on when it’s not a leap year? Among leapsters, it seems to be split almost 50/50. Many who celebrate on February 28th – “28thers” – are avid “February babies” who identify with being born in the month of February and refuse to be “March babies.” Those who celebrate on March 1 – “1sters” – hold tight to the idea that they were born on the day after February 28th, which is March 1st on non-leap years. Other leaplings choose to celebrate the moment the clock hits midnight between the 28th and the 1st. Others still, choose to celebrate on both days! After all, why choose sides when you could double the party?
Fun Facts About Leap Day
1. The chances of having a birthday on February 29th are about one in 1,461.
2. When adding an extra day doesn’t cut it, we’ve had to do things like adding a “leap second.” This last happened on June 30, 2015.
3. The Titanic sunk on a leap year (1912).
4. The official animal of leap day is the Australian rocket frog who can leap over 50 times his own body length.
Enjoy Your Leap Day!
Now that you know more about leap years, make sure to celebrate this unusual time. This unique day comes just once every 4 years, so make the most of it!
And happy birthday to all the leaplings out there! Enjoy your special day.
Sources: History.com, National Geographic, Vox
Hearing that we’re in the middle of a seller’s market might scare people from buying houses. Factors like concerns about job stability, the state of the economy, and high home prices are responsible for hesitation to purchase homes. However, we are seeing a change in sentiment, thanks to recent trends and forecasts in the market. Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Sam Khater, said, "The combination of very low mortgage rates, a strong economy, and more positive financial market sentiment all point to home purchase demand continuing to rise over the next few months."
Mortgage Rates Are Down and Expected to Stay Down
Source: Freddie Mac
According to a recent survey by TD Bank, 68% of respondents said that now is a good time to purchase a home. Mortgage rates are down significantly, making it the ideal moment to snag a low rate and save money. Even if home prices are high, you could save more money since a lower priced home with a higher rate could actually end up costing more.
The Supply of Homes is Increasing
Within the last year, there was a shortage of inventory of homes for sale, affecting first time buyers especially. However, this year more entry-level inventory is expected to become available. This means that if you were worried about finding a home, you may have better luck discovering the perfect house now that supply is increasing.
Job Security is Increasing
Many of those who aren’t sure about purchasing a home cite anxiety over job security as a reason. In fact, a TD Bank study showed that 51% of respondents stated they had concerns over their job stability. But with the growing economy and job security increasing, this sentiment is changing. More and more, people are becoming more confident in the stability of their job, allowing them to consider buying a home more seriously.
The Economy is Strong
The economy has been and is expected to continue to be strong, creating a favorable environment for purchasing a home. While there is always some fear about its stability, forecasts say the economy will continue to grow. Fannie Mae describes the economy as resilient, overcoming challenges and making it a better atmosphere for home buying.
Buying a Home in 2020
Low mortgage rates, a growing supply of homes, more job security, and a strong economy all indicate good conditions for buying a home. But if you’re still nervous after hearing that we’re in a seller’s market, take it from chief operating officer at Ellie Mae, Joe Tyrell, who said, “…Overall the market is still favorable for homeowners looking to refinance and millennials considering purchasing their first home."
If you’re ready to take advantage of these unique conditions, contact us today to find out which mortgage product is right for you.
Source: National Mortgage News
Looking for thoughtful, unique gifts for you loved ones this Valentine’s Day? Say goodbye to boring, cliché boxes of chocolate and teddy bears. Here are some ideas for easy and fun things to make that your valentine will actually be happy to receive.
Date Night Jar
Get a bunch of popsicle sticks and write ideas for easy, fun things you can do throughout the year with your partner. Then, store all the popsicle sticks with your date ideas in a jar that you decorate however you like! This is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Jar Full of Reasons Why You Love Them
Another gift you can easily make is a jar with notes listing reasons you love your partner. Just write all your reasons down on different pieces of paper, roll or fold them up, and place them in a jar. Extra credit: Tie little ribbons around the rolled-up notes to turn them into fancy scrolls. Then, decorate the jar. This gift is a fun reminder of your love that your special someone can always look back on.
A Handwritten Frosting Note
This idea is the best of sweet treats and love letters in one! Bake a big cookie, cake, or whichever dessert you like as long as you can decorate it with icing. Then, write a love letter on it with frosting. Now, your sweetie can enjoy two gifts in one – a beautiful profession of your love and a delicious treat!
Heart Shaped Tea Bag
Make your valentine a cup of tea and add a little touch of romance by attaching a heart-shaped piece of construction paper to the end of the tea bag. Bonus points: Write little love notes on each heart.
Write down several conversation starters to keep in a jar or a box. Break them out on date nights to entice interesting conversations. Some examples to consider: “What is your favorite memory?”; “What is your favorite thing about me?”; “Describe your dream date.”
Chalkboard Love Mugs
Get some chalkboard paint and paint hearts onto a mug. You can paint one big one and write a love note on it. Or, try painting small hearts all around the mug and write things like “you’re cute,” “be mine,” and “kiss me” on them. You can even get creative and write inside jokes on them.
Sticky Note Love Letter Surprise
Write thoughtful notes on sticky notes and stick them in the shape of a heart on the bathroom mirror or somewhere your special someone will end up seeing. We recommend setting them up in the bathroom before your valentine wakes up so that they’ll see the sweet surprise first thing when they get up in the morning. This gift is extremely easy to make as it only requires sticky notes and a marker, but it shows a lot of thoughtfulness your loved one will appreciate.
Heart Shaped Breakfast in Bed
You don’t always have to overthink Valentine’s Day gifts because everyone loves breakfast in bed. Just make your valentine a yummy breakfast and include sweet little touches like heart shaped eggs, flowers, and a love note.
Handmade Perfume or Body Spray
Easily make a perfume or body spray by combining witch hazel and your own selection of essential oils in a bottle. Make sure to choose essential oils that both you and your sweetie will love. Tie some ribbon around the bottle or write a heartfelt label. The beauty about this idea is that, since you’ll be smelling it when they wear it, it’s a gift that both of you will love!
Monthly Date Envelopes
We saved the best for last! Get 12 envelopes, one for each month, and fill each one with a date idea. Include tickets to shows or gift cards to restaurants and places you’d like to go on dates to. Now, for the next year, you’ll have a date lined up for each month!