Changes in Real Estate
Introducing our multi-part series discussing the various options available to homeowners looking to sell their homes

Over the course of history, things change. Sometimes for good, sometimes for the bad, and most times…well, they fall somewhere in between. One thing that’s as sure as death and taxes is, though, that things always – always change. With the continuing evolution of the internet, smartphones, easy-to-use apps, and such – Real Estate has changed much over the last 10-15 years. If you wish to sell your home, the choice is no longer simply whether to hire a traditional Realtor (who uses traditional selling techniques for a traditional fee) or go it on your own as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). Now there are options. A plethora of them. Continue reading


Six Ways to Improve Your Office’s Creative Thinking

Key takeaways:

  • Creative thinking is critical for problem-solving in unique situations
  • An inability to adapt and think creatively can cost you clients and referrals
  • There are simple ways to strengthen your office’s creative thinking

If you have a problem to solve, you need to be able to think creatively to formulate the best possible solution.

This is especially true when it comes to real estate. Each buyer or seller presents a unique situation and an agent must be able to adapt quickly. Failure to adapt usually means an unhappy client, which in turn means no referral. Not a great way to earn a positive reputation in the community.

In 2010, Newsweek published the results from a study into creativity. The study shows that since 1990, while IQ scores may be increasing, creativity has been inching downward. Further research into the decline shows that people in general are less creative as they get older.

Now more than ever, creative thinking is crucial to productivity. Think of your career. Has there ever been a time when your ‘job title’ hasn’t evolved to adapt to changes in your industry? Have you had to think ‘outside of the box’ to get an edge over your competition?

If you answered those questions with anything other than “every day,” then you have some catching up to do. Continue reading

mortgage refinancing

Before deciding whether a new mortgage to replace the current one is the best option, determine what it is you want to accomplish before anything else. Remember, refinancing a mortgage doesn’t pay off the debt; it just restructures it, often at a lower interest rate and possibly a different loan term than the current mortgage. Just so you guys don’t jump ship too early, here are three situations where it simply doesn’t make financial sense to refinance:

1) Your mortgage is old

In a mortgage, the proportion of a payment credited to the principal of the loan goes up each year while the proportion credited to the interest goes down. This means in the later years of a mortgage, more of a payment applies to principal and helps build equity. By refinancing late in a mortgage, you will restart the amortization process, and most of your monthly payment will be credited to paying interest again and not to building equity. However, if you refinance to a lower rate and a shorter term, the interest expense may still be in your favor. It’s worth asking a mortgage professional.

2) Your current mortgage has a prepayment penalty

A prepayment penalty is a fee that some lenders may charge if you pay off your mortgage loan early; to include a refinance. If you refinance with the same lender, ask whether the prepayment penalty can be waived. Consider the costs of any prepayment penalty against the savings you expect to gain from refinancing. Paying a prepayment penalty will increase the time it will take to break even, when you account for the costs of the refinance and the monthly savings you expect to gain.

3) You plan to move or sell your home in the next few years

The monthly savings gained from lower monthly payments may not exceed the costs of refinancing. You may want to consider an adjustable rate mortgage, if you are confident that you will not remain in your house for an extended time, doing the math to see if refinancing makes sense. Sometimes ARMS offer better terms.

If you’d like to learn more about whether refinancing is the best option for you or your clients, contact Bob Gratz at


*Not all borrowers will qualify. Contact us for more information on fees and terms.

Mortgage Lending
Mortgage interest rates are now at their lowest levels in nearly three years. This has led to a surge in applicants seeking to refinance their home mortgage. From the latest data provided by Freddie Mac, the average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.75 percent, down nearly a full percentage point from the beginning of the year. Meanwhile, the average rate for a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage is down to 3.37 percent, the lowest since September of 2016. This is music to the ears of homeowners and buyers alike. Continue reading

When evaluating your personal financial landscape, it can be easy to make assumptions about what you can or can’t do with your money. For example, you shouldn’t buy that brand new laptop, or maybe you can splurge a little bit on a new hoodie. Smaller purchasing decisions are typically easier to determine as they tend to be paid out of pocket. Continue reading

$500 AmeriCash
For many, buying a home is likely the largest expense they will ever make – any sort of financial relief could help to instill more confidence and get you into the home of your dreams. With this in mind, Amerifirst is now offering a buyer incentive program that allows you, the buyer, to receive $500 toward your closing costs.

The program, which is open to any buyer, is good for all of 2019 and renewable each year afterward, and is eligible with almost every loan we offer.* Continue reading