Thanksgiving is almost here and whether you’re looking forward to spending time with friends and family or dreading the event entirely we all have something to be thankful for. The lessons I learned in Iraq are true still today, “things can always get worse”, that’s why one should always be thankful and not just on one day of the year. I have found that if I can think of five things I am thankful for each morning then the rest of the day becomes easy.
One of the easiest things we can do is help another person out. Someone in need these days does not always fit the Dickensian model of being impoverished. In this economy a family may drive a nice looking car but it may be on the verge of being repossessed. Some people may appear to be living in a nice house but they may in fact be homeless and living with friends or family. Because the face of poverty is not easily discernible, the team at Creekside Mortgage did something different this year by finding individuals and families in need and delivering the means for them to have a thanksgiving meal. Real food was delivered and not the kind only found in a can. Our friends in need still value there independence and have only hit a bit of sour luck. Like all of us in our time, they just needed a helping hand.
We would like to issue a challenge this Thanksgiving asking you to reach out and help another in need. Buy a cup of coffee for the person in line behind you, reach out to that family member who you argued with and have not spoken to in weeks, or offer to clean up the kitchen for the one who cooked that delicious meal. We all have times where we wish we could help but find excuses not too. Start small, you don’t need a fortune to donate, you have your time, energy and self that is worth more than a monetary donation.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s easy to get caught up in the commercialism, family, and food. I don’t have any problem with doing that, and enjoying the season, but I encourage you to take a moment to not only be grateful, but truly show your gratitude.
David Casler is an amazing example of showing his gratitude. On Sunday a deadly series of tornadoes hit the Midwest. David Casler is part of a group of volunteers that help out in disasters like that.
David is a United States Marine Veteran. He served our country in Iraq in 2004. If that sacrifice wasn’t enough, he now volunteers with a group of veterans to provide fast disaster relief. Each person on the team is trained to handle disaster relief and help the devastated residents with the tear down of their homes, often saving them $10,000.
Using David and his comrades as inspiration, I hope that we all take advantage of this time of year as an opportunity to reach out and help.
Some of us have been more blessed than others, but all of us can help out in one way or another. Volunteering for me has been one of the more rewarding ways for me to make a difference.
I remember my dad dragging me to a widows house when I was about 15. The woman had recently moved into poor living conditions and her belongings were stored in a shed with a leaky roof. The storm was just beginning when we started nailing tarps all over the unstable structure. It was one of the most cold, wet, and miserable experiences of my life - until I put my heart in the right place. Once I realized I was helping someone who couldn’t help herself, once I saw the old pictures and heirlooms we were saving, it was then that I learned to enjoy service.
There is something about serving others that is cleansing to the soul. Let’s take the time this season to help the less fortunate, to lift them up and help them out of their difficult times.
This nation’s pride and joy, our military veterans, have put their lives on the line for the rights and values we hold dear. It’s no wonder we have no problem offering those service members the opportunity to get into housing with much more relaxed lending standards than for normal civilians.
The VA loan program gives our valiant services members the option of buying a home with zero money down and consistently allows borrowers to get interest rates that are much lower than conventional rates.
Nearly 8 out of 10 VA borrowers would not have been able to qualify for a home using conventional financing. That means that 504,000 families last year, were able to move into homes all because the VA loan program was their to help.
Besides not requiring a down payment, the loan also has looser restrictions on credit scores. A Veteran can be considered for a VA loan with a score as low as 620. You may be considered for a conventional loan with a 620 credit score, but your interest rate will be very negatively impacted.
You’d expect there to be a higher rate of foreclosure with this easier to obtain loan, but the VA loan has out performed nearly all other loan programs for the last several years. It goes to show that if we can trust them to fight for us, we can trust them to manage their own finances just as well.
In fact, our economy depends on this amazing group. Of all the loans closed last month, VA loans made up nearly 14 percent. Imagine where all 504,000 Veterans would be if they couldn’t find financing through the VA loan program.
Buying a home is one of the most exciting and nerveracking decisions most people will make in their lifetime. It is also likely to be the single largest purchase most people will ever make.
With all the stress of buying a home, it’s no wonder you’re questioning when is the best time to buy a home. There are many factors to look at when answering that question, and it varies widely from situation to situation.
Time of Year
The time of year actually does have a rather interesting effect on how much you’ll likely end up paying for your home. The top key influencer here is the classic principle of supply and demand.
As soon as the flower buds start popping - realtors, buyers, and sellers all come out of hibernation and the deals start flying. Spring is the worst time of year to try to get a good deal, but one of the best times if finding the perfect home is more of a priority. This is because the selection of homes (supply) dramatically increases.
The best time of year to get a great deal on homes is in winter. Many real estate professionals consider the holiday season excellent because there are fewer buyers, and sellers tend to feel much more generous.
Winter was found to be the best season to get great a value. The National Association of Realtors found that the average sales price of existing homes over the last 5 years drops 15 percent in the winter months compared to the spike in the summer months.
A lot of people fear the D-word and that’s because many lenders require a downpayment of 20 percent. If you can’t muster that kind of money you have two options.
First, give up your home buying dreams. Or second, and much more inviting, is finding a government sponsored loan program. The FHA loan program allows you to put down as little as 3.5 percent and the VA loan program doesn’t require any down payment! You can talk with your loan specialist and they’ll be able to help find the best program for you.
One of the first things a lender will look at in order to evaluate your eligibility, is your credit score. You will be required to have a minimum credit score depending on what lender and what loan program you use.
The lender will also look at your credit report to make sure it doesn’t raise any red flags.
Obviously each loan program is different, but there are some fairly universal red flags. Most programs will not allow a bankruptcy within the last 2-5 years. However the VA and FHA loan programs will look at some extenuating circumstances when it comes to considering bankruptcy and foreclosures. Most loan programs don’t like to see any 30 day late payments with the last 12 months. Collections and judgements usually need to show as paid in full and will require a letter of explanation for the circumstances around the collection.
There are many more factors to consider when deciding when to buy a home, but with the help of your loan specialist and your realtor, you should be able to decide when and what works best for you.
Isn’t it nice to have dedicated holidays to help us remember the things that are important to us? I know we should always be grateful, especially for the men and women who sacrificed so much for us, but life gets overwhelmingly busy. I’m grateful we have days like today, Veterans Day 2013, to help refocus our thoughts and build unity as a nation.
When I was 19, I went away to serve the people of Spain in a religious way. In my two years abroad, I learned a lot about many european and even South American countries. I also learned a lot about our country and culture.
Other countries have great things to offer, including freedom. Freedom is a blessing, which I fear we sometimes neglect to remember was not solely given to Americans. It is definitely missing from many other nations, and is something special that many Americans died for. But we are not the only country to have freedom. I also learned that other countries have nice appliances and gadgets; fancy cars and roads; and even trendy music and pop culture. But one thing I think no other country has is our unique and powerful loyalty to, and pride for our nation.
If you ask me, what makes America great is that special feeling in our hearts when we see the flag, or hear the National anthem. It’s the love we feel for the aged men who stand saluting as we honor their service. It’s the interest we have in making sure this nation’s future is secure. Some call it patriotism.
I love the patriotism we have, and if we let that patriotism fade from our hearts, if we let quarles and greed tear us apart, then, in that day, we will have lost exactly what makes America great.
May we always remember what really matters, and use holidays like today to refocus on what is really important.
This year our own Mike Frakes represented Creekside Mortgage, Inc at the 2013 Symbol of Freedom benefiting CDM Long-Term Care services.
This year’s event not only honored our Veteran’s but also commemorated a dark day in history. Fifty years ago this month, President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Many of those attending today’s function remember that tragic day because they watched it unfold minute by minute on television, this being at a time before twenty four-hour news coverage and social media.
There is a famous photograph of a Secret Service Agent jumping onto the back of the President’s car as it sped away and that Agent was the guest speaker at today’s event. Mr. Clint Hill gave a personal account and kept his audience glued to his every word as he told the story from his personal experience.
After an incredible story there was of course the charity auction in which Mike made his contribution to the CDM Scholarship Fund benefiting Veteran’s and their families. Mike is a generous spirit and would give you the shirt off his back if he knew you needed it but not tomorrow as he will need it to march in tomorrows Veteran’s Day Parade.
Veteran’s Day is just around the corner and if you were wondering what to do this weekend we have compiled a short list of free eats and treats, shopping and entertainment.
Get out of the house and see a parade! On Saturday, November ninth come hear cannons fire and get free American flags at the Annual Veteran’s Day Parade at Fort Vancouver. Enjoy a day at the Oregon Zoo as they are offering free admission to Veteran’s and their families.
Many businesses will be having sales over the weekend but here are a couple that offer discounts year round. Aeropostal 10% and AT&T has a 15% discount to active and retired military personnel.
Food! Ok the list of free eats can be extensive but here is the short version for the Portland and Vancouver area. Applebee’s is offering a free meal to Veteran’s and they always give a 10% discount to active and retired military. Hooters is offering a free burger or chicken sandwich on Veteran’s Day but wait there is more, every Monday they do offer a 20% discount to our military members but not on the same day as the free meal. IKEA also has a free meal option to veterans as well but they are offering this over the entire holiday weekend! So remember the 9th through the 11th for IKEA. Another everyday discount is at McDonalds where they give a 10% military discount. Burgerville is also giving away a free milkshake or Tillamook cheeseburger on Monday. Once you have completed your feasting you can stop by Starbucks for a free tall cup of coffee.
Take advantage of the discounts and offers knowing it’s in recognition of the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.
Update** Burgerville does offer a 10% military discount but it may not be known to all employees.
The National Association of Realtors puts out an annual report on the current home buying environment. If you’re a numbers person like me, this report is priceless. But, I’m probably correct in assuming that the majority of you are not so intrigued by the numbers, and so I have opted to put together an infographic that will help share that data in an easy to digest manner.
For the less visual learners, he are the highlights of the findings.
The Home Buyer
-Thirty-eight percent of recent home buyers were first-time home buyers. Which is 2 percent lower than the historical norm of 40 percent.
-The typical home buyer was 42 years old
-The typical first-time home buyer was 31 years old
-The typical repeat home buyer was 52 years old
-Sixty-six percent of of home buyers were married
The Typical Home
-Of recent home purchases, the typical home size was 1,900 sq ft, it was built in 1992, and had 3 bedroom 2 bathrooms
-Eighty-five percent of recent buyers considered heating and cooling costs at least somewhat important when choosing a home
-Seventy-three percent of recent home buyers considered a commute at least somewhat important when buying a home
Finding a Home
-Ninety-two percent of recent home buyers used the internet to aid them in their search
-Eighty-eight percent of recent home buyers used a realtor when buying a home
Financing a Home
-Eighty-eight percent of recent home buyers financed their home using debt
-For those using debt to finance their home, 90 percent of the home’s value was being financed
The data was collected from a sample 148,011 recent home buyers. 8,767 people responded to the mailed out survey.
Creekside Mortgage, Inc is a proud advocate for Veterans. As a Veteran owned and operated company, we eagerly help other Veterans and their military families with their VA loan needs. Give us a call today at 1.800.920.5420.
On Friday, November first, Creekside Mortgage, Inc attended the Clark County Veterans Assistance Center’s Black Tie dinner and auction. Proceeds from the event will go towards assisting veterans as they make the transition from military to civilian life.
The evening’s revelry included a silent auction, dinner and live entertainment provided by Don Campeau former lead singer of “The Letterman.” Special guests included Mayor Tim Leavitt and the Hula dancers of the Ke Kukui Foundation who gave a surprise performance at the conclusion of the auction.
The evening’s auction did get competitive for items such as a hot air balloon ride, spa tickets and even a cart of twenty five freshly baked pumpkin pies. What can one do with twenty five pumpkin pies? Share them! That is exactly what was done; upon winning the pies Mr. Bob Nichols promptly donated them to the volunteer staff.
Our very own Mike Frakes won a hand made jewelry box and skis. Kerry Greenwald owner of Creekside mortgage, Inc won the raffle and interestingly enough Becky Greenwald also won the raffle. Rest assured, the raffle was not rigged in any way, shape or form. Cough! Cough! Just kidding!
Creekside Mortgage, Inc would like to extend a happy and heartfelt congratulation to Michael “Mike” Frakes for winning this year’s mandatory potluck and costume contest! Mike took best in show as the club wielding Neolithic loan specialist. Way to go Mike! Hurry in for that Stone Age rate, if you have found that special cave with a double mastodon garage and tar pit.
This year, we had 100% participation even without our energetic Pam Conrad. Pam missed this year’s festivity in lieu of creating a nightmare for any unsuspecting Elk. Best of luck in the hunt Pam!
The food and company were awesome as usual, and to top it off, we were all regaled with scary stories from boot camp and deployments from the not too distant past. Of course it was all in good fun and not meant to be too scary for those who have not been in military service or were in the Air Force. Just kidding Elisa, you know we love you, in fact your minion costume has inspired us all to be minions next year, leaving you our reader to guess who will play the part of Gru. You can see pics of all the staff in costume on our Facebook page too.