July 20, 2016, 1:00 PM
Will your home be a blessing or a curse? Your answer may depend heavily on the terms of your mortgage. Those who purchase property within their budget at a low interest rate might feel like they’re living the dream, while anyone who bought a house they couldn’t afford using a mortgage they didn’t understand will likely share a story of tears and regret. If you’re ready to take on homeownership, be sure to avoid these mortgage mistakes.
Not reviewing your credit before applying for financing. Your credit score has the biggest influence on your mortgage rate. The higher your score, the lower the interest rates you’ll see. A few months before you begin house shopping, go to www.annualcreditreport.com to access free credit reports from each of the three main credit reporting agencies. If you find errors, get them corrected before applying for a loan. You will also want to review your credit score. With a score of 720 or higher, most lenders will offer you their best rates, while a score under 620 will make mortgage financing difficult to obtain.
Not getting preapproved. What you think you can afford for a mortgage and what your bank will let you borrow may be two very different numbers. Don’t waste time looking at homes and neighborhoods if you have no real idea how much you qualify for. Prequalification can also give you an edge in many markets, since a seller may not accept an offer without proof of preapproval.
Not shopping for the best rate. The mortgage rate dramatically impacts how much you ultimately pay for your home, so it makes good sense to shop around for the lowest rate you can qualify for. Be sure you provide each lender with the same information and ask about the same type of loan for comparison purposes. City Bank would be happy to provide you a free quote on competitive rates for home mortgage loans.
Not paying attention to the fees. Many borrowers don’t realize that some closing costs and fees can be negotiated with a lender. Keep an eye out for application, processing or underwriting fees, which are unnecessary and can add up quickly. As you speak with lenders and ask for rates, also ask for an estimate of closing costs. Dispute any cost that seems excessive or doesn’t make sense.
Buying a New Home? Whether you want to buy, build, refinance or just find out if you pre-qualify, City Bank will guide you through the process one step at a time. Our secure online application process allows you to apply for a mortgage loan on your schedule, 24 hours a day! You can also schedule a time for a free consultation about mortgage loans in College Station, Dallas, Lubbock and many other communities throughout Texas and New Mexico.
July 12, 2016, 1:00 PM
If a criminal gets ahold of your personal data, that information opens up a world of unlawful possibilities known as identity fraud. Your identity could be used to apply for credit cards, take out a loan, collect government benefits and empty your bank account. Here are some common schemes to watch out for in 2016.
Tech support scams. Don’t be fooled by someone calling and claiming to be from Microsoft® or a tech support company. They might tell you that your computer is infected with a virus (or about to become infected), and that they need remote access to your computer to troubleshoot and fix the issues. If given access, these scammers may intentionally cause damage in order to charge for repairs, or they might steal sensitive personal data and later use it to commit identity theft. Never provide computer access to a stranger who initiates the contact. Instead, report the call to your local police department.
Tax scams. Another common phone scam involves people who impersonate IRS employees or local law enforcement agents and demand payment for back taxes that you supposedly owe. These impostors threaten immediate arrest or a lawsuit if money is not sent via wire or prepaid debit card. They may also send emails and show up as IRS on your caller ID (known as phone spoofing). Remember, the IRS will notify you via mail if you owe taxes, and they will never ask for financial information over the phone or threaten you with arrest.
Public wi-fi scams. If you use a public computer or use wi-fi on an unsecured network, scammers can easily steal information you send over the Internet, including usernames and passwords. Use caution when using free wi-fi networks in public places. Never enter sensitive financial information while on one of these networks, and turn off your computer’s file sharing capabilities to prevent unwanted connections. If you use a public computer, be sure to log out of every site and the computer itself to prevent someone else from using your accounts.
We’re Looking Out for You City Bank takes a layered approach to help protect your accounts and your identity. From simple personal checking to Dallas auto loans and mortgage loans in College Station and other Texas communities, you can count on friendly, secure service from your hometown bank.
July 07, 2016, 6:54 PM
The tallest hurdle to buying your first home will be saving for the down payment. To avoid having to purchase private mortgage insurance, you'll likely need to put down at least 20% of the purchase price, which will probably mean tens of thousands of dollars.
As a young adult, saving this much money may seem impossible — like climbing a mountain. When you climb a mountain, it looks huge from afar. But if you take one step, then another, pretty soon you've reached the top, and the view is great.
Figure out how much you need to save
No matter the amount you have to save, approach it as a challenge. First, figure out exactly how much house you can really afford with the help of a home loan calculator. The calculator uses your inputs (income, expenses, debt) along with local tax data to recommend how much home you can afford — and how much of a down payment you'll need.
Figure out what you spend now
If you don't know exactly what your monthly expenses are, track all your spending for a month and analyze it to see where you can cut back. Think realistically about what you can sacrifice each month to reach your savings goal.
Cut out the small stuff
By now you've probably heard you should skip the daily latte and brown-bag your lunch, but those are savings cliches for a reason: They really do add up.
Something else that can add up: using coupons for your grocery shopping. Get familiar with the BOGO (buy one, get one) days at your local stores. With smartphone apps, you no longer need to clip and save paper coupons to present at checkout.
To save money on entertainment, rent movies through a subscription service such as Netflix or, even better, check out movies from your library. Libraries also frequently offer lectures, book groups and kids' programs. Look for other free community events at your local parks and take advantage of free-admission days at museums.
Find a high-yield savings account
Earning as much interest as possible will help ignite your savings. You can find high-yield savings accounts at Internet banks, credit unions or community banks. When you open the account, add an automatic withdrawal from your paycheck so you won't be tempted to spend money earmarked for the down-payment fund.
Sell what you don't need
You might want to declutter before you move into your first home, so why not start by selling stuff you don't want or need? If your neighborhood puts on a community garage sale, join in. Or sell your unwanted stuff on eBay, Craigslist or via a Facebook “virtual garage sale” page for your area.
Enlist family and friends
No, don't ask your friends to give you money. Instead, let them know that saving for the down payment is your No. 1 priority. If your friends want to go out for dinner, suggest you get together for homemade pizza or a potluck at home. Chances are you'll have a much more memorable evening.
The bottom line
Saving for a down payment can seem like a high mountain to climb, but if you look at it as a challenge, it can also be fun. And just imagine the feeling of accomplishment when you're relaxing someday in a home of your own.
© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
June 22, 2016, 1:00 PM
The perks of owning a small business outweigh the challenges, which is why so many Americans still aspire to be their own boss. Nothing is quite so thrilling as making your dreams of owning a business become reality. And after you’ve launched that small business, the surest way to success is managing and growing it effectively. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Implement project management tools. Project management software allows team members to track a project as it comes to fruition, and gives business owners an overview of the status of every project. Most platforms offer some level of free trial, while Zoho Projects, Teamwork Projects, Wrike and ProofHub are completely free services worth checking out.
Add an e-commerce site. Consumers spent more than $300 billion online in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. With this kind of spending, you can’t afford not to have an e-commerce solution that allows your customers to make online purchases and mobile payments. For less than $100 per month, several e-commerce software platforms are available to help you reach new customers, or even start a new site. Check out Shopify or Bigcommerce for hosted solutions, or WooCommerce for do-it-yourself sites.
Connect through social media and email marketing. Both of these marketing channels are low-cost and give you a direct line to current and prospective customers. Again, there are many software platforms that can help you build and monitor your social media presence across multiple social media channels. Email marketing with providers such as Constant Contact or MailChimp can help you further drive sales and communicate your brand.
Get a grip on financial management. For many small business owners, managing finances is the downfall that ultimately leads to a “going out of business” sale. Remember, the financial aspects of running a business are just as important as the product or service you are selling. Cloud accounting applications such as QuickBooks Online, Xero and Cheqbook can simplify invoicing, reporting and bank reconciliations for your business.
Manage Your Future with City Bank
City Bank offers a range of loans to fuel the prosperity of your small business. For business loans in College Station, Lubbock, Houston, Dallas, Austin and many other locations, call us at (800) OUR-BANK or walk in today.
June 15, 2016, 7:25 PM
Fraud resource: Below is an article published by the FTC as a resource for consumers to help spot and avoid scams.
If you have a computer or a phone, you’ve probably been targeted by a scammer pretending to be someone they’re not: maybe the IRS, another government official, a family member or friend, or a tech company. These imposters come in many varieties, but work the same way: the person pretending to be someone you trust tries to convince you to send money. The FTC received 353,770 imposter-related complaints last year.
Today, the Federal Trade Commission released new resources at ftc.gov/imposters to help you spot and avoid four common kinds of imposter scams: Family Emergency Imposter Scams, Tech Support Imposter Scams, Online Romance Imposter Scams, and IRS Imposter Scams.
The one-minute videos show how people are targeted, how to spot the scam, and where to report it. The articles are part of the agency’s ongoing Pass It On campaign, which encourages older adults to help raise awareness about fraud by talking to family, friends, and neighbors about avoiding common scams. Please share or use the videos and articles to pass on how to spot and avoid imposters.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).
June 03, 2016, 1:00 PM
If you’re itching to start a business—or grow a business you already have—you may want to pursue funding with a commercial loan or line of credit through a bank. Yet no matter how confident you are in your business plan, a bank must be very cautious about investing depositors’ money—after all, it’s the law. If you are confident that a commercial loan is the right choice for you and your business, here are some items you’ll need to convince a loan officer that your proposition is a great investment, and not a great risk.
Collateral. Your business must have hard assets to back up commercial loans. Banks look very carefully at these assets to reduce their risk. The more assets you have and the more you’ve invested in your business, the more likely your loan will be approved. Even if your business is structured as a limited liability entity (rather than a sole proprietorship or partnership), you may still need to pledge personal assets – most often home equity – to get the loan.
A good business plan. A business plan document is nearly always a necessity, no matter what type of loan you’re applying for. It can be short, but a bank still wants to see your basic business strategy and how you intend to pay back the loan, even if things go wrong.
Complete financial details. This includes all of your business’s financials, complete details on accounts receivable and payable, a current balance sheet, and personal financial records from every owner who has a significant share in the business. If you have any black marks on your credit report, get them resolved prior to applying for a loan.
Agreement on ratios. Most commercial loans require the business owner to agree to keep key ratios—such as debt ratio, current ratio, quick ratio—within a certain range, or the loan will be in default. To avoid a surprise, you should calculate these ratios and know you’re within acceptable ranges before approaching a lender. A good rule of thumb is to finance no more than half the value of your business.
Apply for a Business Loan Here.
Give your business what it needs to succeed. To find out more about applying for business loans in College Station and many other communities in Texas and New Mexico, call City Bank at (800) 687-2265 or get in touch using the Contact Us form. At City Bank, our goal is to help you achieve yours.