• Starter Homes Filling the Gap in the Next Hot Housing Market

    September 08, 2017, 9:34 AM


    First-time homebuyers have been sidelined from home ownership for a decade thanks to the housing market crash and the Great Recession. Yes, the housing market has rebounded in recent years, but it hasn't been the sort of bounce that holds appeal to this buyer class.

    More Starter Homes Coming to Your Area?

    Major builders are finally beginning to migrate away from their focus on luxury homes and take a look at giving consumers what they want, namely more affordable entry-level housing. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the share of first-time homebuyers dropped to 32 percent in 2015. This was a nearly three-decade low from an average of 40 percent. That figure was back up to 35 percent in 2016.

    Our nation's housing recovery has shown a clear divide, with a soaring luxury market over the past several years that has beat out the affordable housing side of the equation. It's not just a lack of lower-cost housing that has depressed the market. Other factors that have contributed include slower wage growth, higher student debt obligations, and tougher lending standards. Fortunately, the tide is beginning to turn for one class of buyers - Millennials.

    The Millennial First-Time Homebuyer

    Millennials are generally defined by demographers as people born between 1980 and 2000. This group is increasingly either tired of living with their parents or throwing away money on rent and are ready to make a change. There is a strong misconception that Millennials have an aversion to owning "things." This isn't the case at all. In fact, it's this group that is driving today's housing market. The National Association of Realtors 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study reports that Millennials were the largest group of home buyers (34 percent) followed by baby boomers (30 percent).

    The Housing Market Today

    There has been a steady shift in 2017 towards homeownership over renting, which is a clear sign that first-time home buyers want to take advantage of mortgage rates while they remain affordable. The Census Bureau reports that 854,000 new-owner households were formed during the first quarter of 2017, more than double the 365,000 new-renter households reported during the same period.

    The nation's major homebuilders and mortgage lenders are working diligently to address buyer sentiment in this next hot housing market. Arizona-based Taylor Morrison Home Corp. says that they are building more three-story townhomes and single-family homes on narrow lots. Fannie Mae reports that 42% of their mortgages so far in 2017 were for first-time homebuyers, up from a low of 31% in 2011.

    Finance Your Starter Home at City Bank

    If you've been looking for the best time to buy a home, don't wait much longer. Mortgages rates are on the rise but are still affordable for first-time homebuyers. City Bank offers a full line of mortgage options that are flexible and competitively priced. Apply online or contact us at (800) OUR-BANK to get started today!

  • Standing Strong: An Important Announcement Regarding Hurricane Harvey

    September 01, 2017, 10:13 AM
    LUBBOCK, Texas

    Dear Friends, Family and Customers,

    The impact Hurricane Harvey has had on our employees, customers, and neighbors is devastating. We applaud the volunteers and first responders working tirelessly to help those in need. Our thoughts and prayers remain with those in South Texas and neighboring communities.

    Due to recent flooding, our Houston branch and our Beaumont mortgage location are temporarily closed. Our top priority has been the safety of employees, family, friends and customers. However, we are making every effort to restore these facilities to full operating status. Currently, we anticipate our Houston branch to reopen on Tuesday, September 5th. The reopening of our Beaumont mortgage location remains undetermined as we continue to monitor conditions. For updates on affected locations, please visit our Facebook or Twitter pages or this website.

    In the meantime, City Bank is taking the necessary steps to meet the financial needs of our customers and businesses affected by the recent storm. If there are any circumstantial needs that we can assist with, please contact our Customer Care Center at 1-800-687-2265 Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. or Saturday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.. Some of the beneficial solutions we will offer to help affected customers include:

    • Waiving late fees
    • Waiving ATM fees
    • Providing opportunities to defer payments

    For customers with access to Online Banking or our Mobile App, these services remain unaffected.

    Additionally, as we look to recover from Hurricane Harvey, join us as we contribute to reputable agencies assisting our communities. Together with City Bank's donation to the American Red Cross and Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund established through the Texas Banker Foundation, we can aid in immediate assistance and the upcoming recovery process.

    Cory T. Newsom
    President and CEO
    City Bank

  • Hurricane Harvey Affects Houston/Beaumont Locations; Donates To Disaster Relief

    August 30, 2017, 7:39 AM

    City Bank has temporarily closed its Houston branch and Beaumont mortgage location due to flooding in south Texas. City Bank is monitoring the situation with plans to reopen the affected locations after the situation can be more carefully assessed. Customers can monitor the status of these locations by calling 1-800-687-2265 or by checking for alerts posted on the City Bank Facebook news feed.

    “Our thoughts and prayers go out to our employees and those in our communities affected by the recent devastation as a result of Hurricane Harvey,” says Cory Newsom, President and CEO. “We have temporarily closed our Houston and Beaumont locations so that our employees and their families can take the necessary steps to seek safety.”

    To help with immediate and ongoing rebuilding efforts, City Bank has donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross in addition to $10,000 to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund established by the Texas Bankers Foundation. “Aiding and recovering from a tragedy such as this will take time and contributions from so many. I encourage others who can give to do so through the American Red Cross or other agencies providing relief for victims in south Texas,” added Newsom.

    Additionally, City Bank is working closely with affected customers. Account holders and business owners are encouraged to contact City Bank to make necessary arrangements in regards to interrupted financial services due to Hurricane Harvey.

  • What is the 50/30/20 Rule of Thumb for Budgeting

    August 10, 2017, 10:03 AM

    Budgets are about paying your monthly bills on time, with the goal of giving you more power over your spending. The best way to give you that control is for you to be able to figure out exactly what you are spending your money on each month. This can allow you to better proportion your spending and align your financial activity with your savings goals.

    Enter the 50/30/20 rule of thumb, also referred to as the 50/30/20 budget. This budget is a proportional guideline that you can apply to your budgeting system. These guides, which can be tweaked to suit your unique situation, can help you simplify the budgeting process so that you are gaining financial ground each month rather than finding yourself in the red. Here are the four steps involved in using the 50/30/20 budget.
    Step 1: Figure Out Your After-Tax Income Before you can create a budget, you need to know how much money you have to spend each month. This is equal to your take home pay, or after-tax income. If you have a salaried position with a steady paycheck, this should be an easy find. If you are hourly or self-employed figure out your average take home pay each month. Items that you should add back in for all of these include retirement contributions, health care, and other benefit deductions. Step 2: 50% of Your Income Pays for Needs Now that you have an after-tax income figure to work with, you can create an accurate budget. No more than 50% of your after-tax pay should go towards your "needs." This includes such things as housing, food, health care, utilities, and car insurance. Other "needs" include minimum payments on any outstanding debts. This "needs" category is fairly strict as it includes only items for basic subsistence and survival. Some of the things that you think you "need" are actually "wants." Step 3: 30% of Your Income Pays for Your "Wants" Devoting 30% of your budget to "wants" may sound attractive, until you realize how much is omitted from the "needs" category. For example, cable TV and smartphone plans are "wants," not "needs." Some gourmet foods are also "wants," as are visits to the hair salon and brand new clothing. Plan your budget wisely, however, and you'll be able to fit a few of these items in comfortably. Step 4: 20% of Your Income Goes Towards Savings and Debt Repayment Last, you should devote 20% of your monthly budget to saving money and debt repayment. Everyone should have an emergency fund and begin saving for retirement as early as possible. It's also a good idea to put extra money each month towards debt repayment beyond just the minimum monthly payments that were allocated for in your "needs" bucket.

    Establishing good budgeting and saving habits is a skill that will provide you and your family with a lifetime of benefits. This percentage-based system can be applied to just about any living or salary situation, but feel free to adjust it so that your budget makes the most sense for you.

    Open a City Bank Savings Account today.

    Reach your financial goals faster when you make the decision to bank with City Bank. Please call 1-800-OUR-BANK or stop by your local City Bank branch location for current interest rates or to open a savings account today. 


  • Paying for a Wedding with the Help of Personal Loans

    July 20, 2017, 10:30 AM
    Paying for a wedding with a personal loan

    You and your future spouse want nothing more than to make your commitment official and begin your lifetime journey together. Unfortunately, you might find a few obstacles between the engagement and saying your "I Dos." Chief among them that weddings are expensive. One option is to finance your wedding with the help of a personal loan.

    Average Wedding Costs

    Even the simplest wedding can be costly. Every bride wants a beautiful wedding dress, and then there is the attire for the groom and the wedding party. Add in the venue, food, flowers, entertainment, photos, and the requisite bachelor and bachelorette parties, and it begins to add up quickly. This is before we've even thought about the honeymoon. Ugh!

    According to The Knot, the average American couple spends $32,641. If you live in a city like Chicago, expect that average to nearly double to more than $61,000, while residents of New York will pay upwards of $82,00 for an average wedding. The Knot reports that the average reception hall alone costs $14,788 and couples spend as much as $2,300 on flowers and other wedding decorations.

    While cutting back on some areas might be possible, the fact remains that weddings are still expensive and a cost that is out of reach for some couples. Financing your wedding with a personal loan might be an excellent alternative in these situations. Remember, this is one of the most important days of your life, so you want it to be special.

    Personal Loans for Weddings

    Personal loans for a wedding might also be called "wedding loans" by some lenders. If you see this term, it's important to understand that this is all marketing. These are all unsecured personal loans that you can use to pay for your engagement, wedding, and honeymoon expenses. When you shop for a personal loan, using a reputable lender such as a local bank should be a priority. It's a simple task to find a predatory lender that is ready to persuade you to take out a high-interest personal loan for more than you need. A better plan is to approach a local lender that has a commitment to serving its community.

    Anyone can apply for a personal loan, but you should understand how these loans work so you can decide whether you, your future spouse, or both of you should apply together. Approval for a loan is based on your credit score, credit history, and debt-to-income ratio. These factors will also help determine your loan terms, such as your interest rate and the length of your loan.

    Many couples choose to finance their wedding with credit cards, which have several disadvantages. Credit card use not only tempts overspending, but the interest rates on the cards can be outrageous, making repayment take longer and cost more over time. With a fixed amount from a personal loan, couples are more likely to stick to a budget and have a set of known monthly payments to repay the loan over two to five years. While no one likes to think of starting a marriage with a loan balance, an unsecured personal loan is an affordable and low-risk way to cover wedding costs while minimizing your financial stress.

  • Helping Aging Parents’ with their Finances: When to Step In

    June 29, 2017, 8:30 AM

    Helping Aging Parents with Finances

    As much as you might not want to think about it, there may come a time when your parents can no longer handle their own finances. They might be hesitant to ask for help when that time comes, so you might need to step in and offer your assistance. This needs to be handled delicately and gradually to make the process as comfortable as possible for your parents. Here are some tips that may help you with that.


    Start The Conversation Before There is a Problem

    The best way to begin the conversation about money management with your parents is to bring up the subject before any problems arise. You might not think it will make it much easier, but it will give your parents some time to think about the situation and get used to someone else handling their finances. You may also need to get your parents' advanced written permission to take over their finances, since privacy laws may prevent you from handling their money when or if they start to have problems. Make sure to keep the rest of your family in the loop as well. Your relatives can be a great source of support for yourself and for your parents.


    Start Slow

    You don't need to take over your parents' bank accounts right away, nor should you. Increase your support little by little by starting out offering help only when you and your parents think they'll need it. Go over their finances with them, and always let them have a say in how their money is being spent. It is still their money, and they deserve to maintain control over as much of it as they can as long as it is safe for them to do so.


    Help Your Parents Get Organized

    A good first step when helping your parents with their finances is to organize all the information they might need and put it someplace that is easy to find. This includes a list of important contacts, account numbers, and important legal documents such as birth certificates, insurance policies, and wills. Make sure all the information is up-to-date, and place it in a secure location that you and your parents can find.


    Keep Things Simple

    When it comes to managing finances, it's best to keep things as simple as possible. Take a look at your parents' sources of income such as retirement or savings accounts and switch them over to direct deposit whenever possible. This will ensure that there will always be money in their bank accounts even when they cannot make a deposit themselves. Next, go over your parents' household budget and streamline it to make it as easy to follow as possible. You might even want to consider an automatic bill pay service if their bank allows it as an option.


    Know the Signs of Financial Problems

    While you should speak with your parents before they begin to have problems, you should also know the signs of trouble when they arise. Look for unusual purchases that don't fit your parents' usual spending habits, piles of unopened mail, or signs of memory problems. All of these are indicators that you might need to step in and provide some assistance with your parents' finances and spending habits.


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