Is Tax Time the Right Time?

Recently, W2 forms arrived in the mail, which means it’s time to gather receipts and other needed forms to file income taxes. For many, it’s a dreaded chore. For others, a potentially hefty bill causes them to fearfully drag their feet into the preparer’s office. For some, a bit of a refund drives them to file quickly, and hopefully make wise choices on how to spend or save those extra funds.

We have good news! Right now may be the right time to boost your financial situation, and maybe even turn your dreams of homeownership into reality. Let’s explore several reasons why.

  • Refunds. For those that do receive a refund, when used wisely, it can become a long-term investment. Consider paying down consumer debt, thus improving your credit score, and obtaining a better mortgage rate. Alternatively, a refund could help with closing costs or as a partial down payment on a new home or refinance.
  • Housing market. The housing market is hot. This is good news for the homeowner who wishes to refinance. A higher assessed value can allow a homeowner to eliminate private mortgage insurance, qualify for a better loan or take cash out to pay off other debt. For homebuyers, prices are expected to steadily climb, so now is the time.
  • Convenience. This is a matter of personal convenience, but once the process of gathering financial information for taxes is complete, you may as well use those documents to begin the mortgage process before filing them away.
  • Tax cuts. There won’t be a great deal of change in your 2017 tax return, but the 2018 tax cuts will likely put more money in your pocket soon. New tax rules took effect on January 1, and employers have been asked to use new withholding tables by February 15, 2018. The Treasury Department estimates that 90% of wage earners will see an increased paycheck due to reduced withholdings. While the amount of increase varies depending on income level, Nerdwallet estimates an average raise of 1 to 2%.
  • Bonuses. In response to tax cuts, many companies have announced reinvestment into their employees. This includes AT&T, Bank of America, FedEx, Lowes, Walmart, Southwest Airlines and more. If you’re one of those fortunate employees, refer to our information above regarding refunds.
  • Tax changes that did not occur. It was feared that the mortgage interest deduction would be eliminated, but it was saved, albeit with a lower cap. The standard deduction is now significantly higher, which results in a simpler tax process and lower amount of taxable income for many. Whichever deduction option you choose, 80% of Americans will see overall lower taxes when they file their 2018 returns.

Of course, tax preparation and withholdings are quite complicated. We suggest that you visit a qualified professional to file your taxes quickly, in order to have more money in your pocket, and get prequalified to become a homeowner or refinance for a better financial future.

Should I Refinance? Five Questions to Ask

December brings cold weather, holiday cheer, and as the month goes on, thoughts of a new year and new goals. As holiday spending takes a toll on your bank account (or worse, credit card balances), it may be time to consider options to improve your financial situation.

Refinancing is not a handful of magic beans that will undoubtedly turn one’s financial situation around. Under the right circumstances, though, it can be a useful tool that saves money each month and in the long term. These five questions will help you decide if it might be time to refinance.

  1. What’s my current interest rate? You’ve heard the news. Interest rates have risen slightly in recent months. Still, they are very low when compared with historical rates, and it is possible that you are paying more in interest than you should be. Consider not only the set interest rates, but also whether your credit scores have improved, which could earn a better rate.
  2. What are my current loan terms? How much longer do you have left on the loan? Are there prepayment penalties? Are you paying PMI? Do you have an adjustable rate mortgage that could rise? What is my current payment and what would my payment be with a new loan? Yes, there are several questions listed there, but all fall under the category of current loan terms. If your current loan no longer meets your needs, it may be time to refinance.
  3. What are my long-term goals? Do you need to remodel in order to sell in a few years? Do you need to build equity quickly in order to later pay for college tuition or other anticipated expenses? How can your home and its equity to meet your future goals?
  4. Do I have debt that is hurting me each month? Consumer debt, such as credit cards, comes with a high price in the form interest and fees. Refinancing to consolidate debt can save hundreds each month, and a great deal more in the long term.
  5. Am I ready to act in accordance with my goals and plans? While debt consolidation can be a great idea, it backfires when people rack up new credit card debt after refinancing. Sit down with one of our experts and discuss your budget. Determine how you can use a refinance to build your financial future.

The professionals at Vinson Mortgage can tailor a loan to meet your family’s financial needs. We can help you save each month, and since it takes just 8 days to close, we can have your future looking brighter before we ring in 2018!

Is it Time to Renovate or Should You Just Throw in the Towel?

Maybe the time has come when the dream home you bought and loved isn’t so dreamy any more. Your tastes have changed, your family has gotten bigger — or smaller — or maybe it was a starter home and you’re ready to start thinking about an upgrade. If that’s true, you’ve likely been wondering if you can remake the dream in the house you’re in or if it’s time to go shopping. The decision is a daunting one, but a few simple questions will help make it whole lot easier.

First of all, what is your budget?

Renovations cost money, there’s just no way around that. If you are in need of additional space, a different layout, or a new outdoor setting, you’re going to have to spend some money to make that happen. While some changes can be made with minimal cost, changes that require demolition, reconstructing, re-flooring, or switching out appliances are going to cost a lot up front.

If you have a very small budget and some drastic changes, you’re likely better off looking for a new home that better suits your needs. However, if you love your location and have the money to invest, renovating is worth considering. One determining factor might be the equity you have in your home now, since for most homeowners that is the most advantageous source of funds for even minor renovations.

Now, what’s really wrong?

You’re unhappy for a reason. Maybe you’ve outgrown your current home. Or those dated kitchen appliances may be dragging you down. Whatever the cause, it’s resulted in you not being happy with your current home.

Make a list of the things you’d like to change about your current space if money wasn’t a factor. Then prioritize this list and narrow it down to the things that are minor dislikes and those that are actually making you unhappy. You may be surprised at how easy it is to forget about the bathroom tile when you have a new dual sink with plenty of hideaway storage. Or how happy you’ll be just by turning your dividing wall in the kitchen into a half wall looking into the dining room. Don’t always assume that extreme changes are going to be the ones that make you happy with your space.

Is it one area or the whole house?

Understanding whether the problem is just a matter of a room or two, or whether it’s an issue with the neighborhood or property as a whole is a big step to determining whether a move or renovation is ideal. If you are set on a pool but have virtually no yard, then a move is the obvious choice. However, if you live on a piece of land that you can’t imagine leaving, then you should focus your efforts on what you can fix inside the space.

Can you do it in stages?

Renovation can be a stressful ordeal. It’s good to know what your options are in terms of timelines and phases. If everything can be done over the course of a few weeks, then maybe that’s a good time to plan a vacation (or invite the kids/friends into town to help). If it’s going to take place over several months, you’ll want to outline your needs and how to make it work without your stress level going through the roof.

Is it worth it?

And the last, and maybe most important question, is all the work worth it? If you are seriously considering the pros and cons of renovating versus moving, then you’ve already asked yourself this question and the answer is probably yes. But be sure to take into consideration both your mental health and wellbeing, and well as the financial responsibility of any renovations. Be sure that the money you are putting into the home is money you can get back if you decide to sell down the road.

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We’re here if you need to close on your dream home fast (we are, after all, the “home of the 8 Day Close”) and we can help you get the right mortgage for you even when your credit isn’t great. Call your local office, or fill out our easy on-line form, to get one of our licensed loan officers working on the right financing to get you into the home of your dreams!

Missouri: 314.839.9999
Kansas: 913.344.9999
Colorado: 303.740.9999
Illinois: 618.839.9999
California: 866.774.8999

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He Saved $300 a Month: True Story

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Ben M. is a St. Louis native who bought his first house in the city, a duplex. That worked until he got married and started a family. He moved to the county and rented both sides of the duplex.

It made for a pretty good plan until his bank told him his mortgage holder had been bought out and his terms were changing. Not just changing a little bit, but actually going up about $150 per month.

For a man supporting a family and paying on two mortgages, one on his personal residence and one on the investment property, that’s a tough situation. He was already keeping the margins tight, his tenants had just signed new leases so he couldn’t pass the costs on to them even if he wanted to.

But Ben didn’t see any reason to panic. He had 10 years of perfect history with his mortgage and good credit. He figured he’d find another lender who could at least match the monthly payment he’d been paying. He talked to the bank that held the loan on his personal residence as well as other banks. He called mortgage companies he’d seen on TV or heard on the radio who claimed they could refinance anyone. But over and over he heard, “Sorry we can’t work with you, the numbers just don’t work.”

He started to be fearful of what the new payment amount was going to do to his budget. Especially if a major repair came up with his rental property he knew he’d be hurting since the margins were already razor thin.

Then he talked to Jim Lyle. Like all of our Certified Loan Officers Jim’s first priority was to find the right mortgage and get the deal done as fast as possible. He gathered the information we needed from Ben and started putting things together.

They signed on the loan less than two weeks later.

As Ben says,

“It was really refreshing to find somebody that didn’t immediately say, ‘There might be some problems.’ From the get-go Jim was like, ‘We’re going to make this work and it’s going to be really painless for you.’ That turned out to be true.”

But that wasn’t the best part. When it was all said and done Ben’s monthly payment was $150 LESS than he’d been paying on his previous loan. That was about $300 less than he would have been paying if he had stayed with his previous lender.

That leaves money for a rainy day AND a college fund.

We were thrilled to sit down with Ben with the camera running and let him tell his story his own way.

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We’re here if you need to close on your dream home fast (we are, after all, the “home of the 8 Day Close”) and we can help you get the right mortgage for you even when your credit isn’t great. Call your local office, or fill out our easy on-line form, to get one of our licensed loan officers working on the right financing to get you into the home of your dreams!

Missouri: 314.839.9999
Kansas: 913.344.9999
Colorado: 303.740.9999
Illinois: 618.839.9999
California: 866.774.8999

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Does Your Home Hold the Key to Your Next Job?

If you have kids you probably have a plan (or are working to create a plan) for their higher education. But what about you?

Many adults are finding that their education and experience will only take them so far. With downsizing, a shifting workplace dynamic, and rapidly changing tech landscape, skills can become obsolete and employers want a level of education that might not have been relevant before.

Or maybe you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of people who got on the education treadmill before you really knew what you wanted to do in life or what you wanted from life. It’s perfectly normal that once we start to navigate our way through our lives, personally and professionally, we discover certain truths about ourselves. We have experiences that give us insights about who we want to be — grownup or not.

Whether it’s because the market has changed, or because you have changed, now might be the perfect time to consider improving yourself, your skills, and your marketability according to your evolving goals.

But how do you finance that next degree or certification without sacrificing your family’s lifestyle, or even well-being?

If you, like many of our clients, have seen a rebound on your home’s appraised value, and you’ve been making your mortgage payments regularly, you may find the money to help you make more money, right there in your home.

Of all the ways you could finance higher education, borrowing against the value of your home is probably the only one with tax benefits (and now is the right time of year to be thinking about that!) And it’s probably the easiest for you to secure.

If you think a home equity loan might be a relatively inexpensive way for you to leverage your home’s value to increase yours we’re here to help. Call your local office, or fill out our easy on-line form, to get one of our licensed loan officers working on the right financing to get you back in school!

Missouri: 314.839.9999
Kansas: 913.344.9999
Colorado: 303.740.9999
Illinois: 618.839.9999
California: 866.774.8999

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