There’s a Southwest 737 for sale on Facebook

There’s a Southwest 737 for sale on Facebook


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Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: thepointsguy.com

Forbearance Improvement Remains Slow, But Steady: Black Knight

Following the trend of mid-month increases in forbearance volumes that have taken place since the recovery began, the number of mortgages in active forbearance rose by 15,000 (+0.06) since last Tuesday, according to recent data from Black Knight.

Despite the weekly increase, the monthly rate of decline held steady at -2%, continuing the trend of very slow but steady improvement in the number of outstanding forbearance cases. Monthly declines have been averaging less than 2% since early December.

According to the McDash Flash daily mortgage performance data set, 2.69 million homeowners (5.1% of all mortgage-holders) remain in active forbearance, as of February 16. This includes 9.2% of FHA/VA, 3.2% of GSE and 5.1% of portfolio/private mortgages.

Portfolio-held and privately-securitized loans saw the largest increase in plans (+12,000 / +1.8%), followed by FHA/VA loans, which saw active forbearance plans rise by 5,000 (+0.4%). GSE loans were the only cohort to see a decline, albeit a slight one at 2,000 (-0.2%).

New plan starts hit a post-pandemic low this week, while just one of every 77 homeowners who entered the week in forbearance left their plans, one of the lowest removal rates we’ve seen.

Some 204,000 forbearance plans are scheduled to term expirations at the end of February, suggesting that any decline in forbearance volumes in the coming weeks is likely to be limited.

Source: themortgageleader.com

Want To Build Your Own House? The Pros, Cons, and Costs

Building a brand-new home may sound like a dream come true. You get to choose the ideal layout for your family’s needs, and have a say in each and every design element. However, the process may also be daunting if you’ve never done it before.

To help you through it, we’ve created this Guide To Building Your Own Home. It will provide all the detailed information you need at each stage of the home-building process so that everything goes as smoothly as possible.

In this first article, we’ll offer a glimpse into the pros and cons of building a house, including how much it costs, how long it takes, how it’s financed, and much more that will help you decide if this option is right for you.

Pro: You can get exactly what you want

Building a home is a popular option these days. Construction on single-family homes was up 10% in November 2020 compared with the previous year, according to the National Association of Home Builders. And, it makes sense: When you build your own home, you get exactly what you want: an in-law suite for when the grandparents visit, a decked-out office for working from home, midcentury modern style, and more. Anything is possible.

“You get a blank slate,” says Marc Rousso, CEO of JayMarc Homes in Seattle. “The fun part about building a custom home is that it can be whatever you want.”

That might sound overwhelming, so Rousso suggests starting with a vision board. Check out websites like Houzz or Pinterest, and drive around snapping photos of homes you like. Then think through how big you want the home to be, how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need, and the bonus spaces you want to live as comfortably as possible.

The best way to make sure you get what you want (and that it fits within your budget): Hire a great builder from the start. This crucial step sets the best possible foundation (in every sense of the word) for your new home. Builders help you select others on your team (such as an architect, interior designer, and landscaper) and serve as your point person throughout the process.

Not sure how find a homebuilder? NAHB offers an online directory, and its members are committed to ongoing education and ethical standards. Hiring builders who have been in business for several years is also a plus, as they’ve proven they can weather both the highs and lows of economic cycles.

Pro: You can build just about anywhere you want

Have you always dreamed of living by the water or having a mountain view? Or maybe you want no neighbors in sight? Building a home lets you set up your residence just about anywhere you want.

Talk to your builder before making a land purchase, though, Rousso urges. The builder will need to do a feasibility study on the land to make sure it’s a suitable place for the home you want to build.

“We’ve talked more people out of buying land than into buying land, because there are so many pitfalls,” he explains.

Builders help make sure the land is zoned for residential development and identify any issues with building on the site, such as connecting to utilities or developing the land before building can start.

Another thing to note: Land development can be costly. HomeAdvisor estimates it to be $1.30 to $2 per square foot of land, including surveying, drainage plans, utility and septic mapping, permits, soil testing, land clearing, excavation, and demolishing any existing structures.

Pro: New homes typically come with less maintenance

An obvious advantage of building a home is that everything is brand-new. That means maintenance and repairs will be minimal or even nonexistent for a while, saving you plenty of headaches and thousands of dollars a year. According to HomeAdvisor, in 2020, homeowners spent an average of about $3,200 on home maintenance.

Nonetheless, a new house isn’t entirely maintenance-free. You’ll probably still need to do yardwork to keep up your newly installed landscaping. And you may want to pay for some preventive upkeep, such as a maintenance contract on your HVAC system, costing $150 to $500 a year. But that could save you money in the long run.

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Watch: How Much a Home Inspection Costs—and Why You Need One

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Con: Building usually costs more than buying an existing home

Building a house is an expensive enterprise, and typically costs more than buying a preexisting home. As such, you’ll need to have some in-depth discussions with your builder on what you want, and whether it’s affordable for you.

“A builder can help guide the design process starting with schematic design to give the prospective client an idea of the budget,” says Tim Benkowski, senior project manager at Balsitis Contracting in Lake Geneva, WI. “That way, design revisions can be made early without the owner falling in love with a home design only to find out they need to cut out their favorite parts or reduce the project scope.”

Several factors determine how much your newly constructed home will cost: location, size, complexity, and design elements.

The NAHB estimates that the median price of constructing a single-family home is $289,415, or $103 per square foot. Labor typically constitutes about 40% of the cost, followed by permits, design fees, and materials. Here’s more on how much it costs to build a house.

Con: Getting a construction loan can be complicated

To finance building a home, you’ll need a construction loan, which is a little more involved than getting a traditional mortgage to buy a preexisting house, says Steve Kaminski, head of residential lending at TD Bank.

For starters, you’ll likely need a 20% down payment since construction loans are considered higher-risk. Along with the usual financial documents needed for your loan application, you need to provide project plans, costs, and land value. You also need a signed contract or purchase contract with the project’s plans, specs, and budget details, and a timeline for the construction.

“The lender is not only evaluating the borrower, but also the project plans and oftentimes the builder to ensure they will be financially solvent throughout construction,” Kaminski explains.

Construction loans are usually shorter-term, covering just the duration of the build, and may have higher interest rates, usually about 1% higher than conventional mortgages, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Once the home is completed, you can pay off the balance or convert the loan to a conventional mortgage. The interest rate and the type and terms of the mortgage will depend on your credit history and lender.

When shopping around for a mortgage for a new home build, Kaminski urges borrowers to go with a lender experienced in working with construction loans.

Con: Building a home takes a while

Generally, it takes a bare minimum of three months to build a simple house, and it can take much longer. But it’s a “sliding scale,” says Benkowski. “A 2,500-square-foot and under [home] can typically be completed in seven to nine months with proper planning. A 7,500-square-foot home and up would likely take 12 to 30 months.”

Planning as much as you can will keep the project on track. Still, delays do happen. Weather is the biggest one, with temperature shifts and rain or snow postponing work. Your own choices could also be to blame. If you’re taking too long to choose your favorite flooring or windows, it could make it all take a little longer.

Here’s more on how long it takes to build a house.

In the next installments, we’ll cover how to buy land, design tips, the ins and outs of mortgages for home construction, and lots more.

Source: realtor.com

Travelers to Alaska are no longer required to provide a negative COVID-19 test

Travelers to Alaska are no longer required to provide a negative COVID-19 test



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Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: thepointsguy.com

The Golden Rule Doesn’t Apply in Marketing Anymore!

For years, the Golden Rule has been applied to the realm of marketing and selling. Treating people like you would like to be treated seems not only morally right but a good practice in the business world.

Sherlock: not having an accurate view of sales performance is a recipe for disaster
Pat Sherlock

Throughout history, this maxim has been upheld as a key to professional and personal success. But, when it comes to today’s marketing efforts, it doesn’t apply as it once did. What has happened to diminish the Golden Rule in selling?

Social media has forever changed the way consumers purchase products, including home loans. In mortgage banking, the average age of originators is between the late 40s and early 50s. Experian notes that the median age of first-time home buyers is 34.

According to Smart Insights, there are significant differences between how specific age groups use social media to discover and research products. The key takeaway is that older originators who assume that younger prospects use the same social media platforms they do risk disconnecting from an important target audience.

This is not surprising, but it is an overlooked topic by many lenders, especially banks, that often dictate what social media platforms and content the sales force can use. Case in point: while the originators’ age group (45 to 54) researches products via social media 33% of the time, younger prospects (25 to 34) do so 50% of the time.

For originators concentrating on purchase money and first-time home buyer loans, not being active on the same social media platforms as prospects will hamper sales performance. This becomes even more problematic when lenders provide generic content that is not personalized for prospects and referral sources.

Once our current refinance market inevitably shifts to a purchase money environment, it will be critical for originators to align their social media marketing efforts with the usage patterns of prospects in order to succeed.

Social media platform preferences are only part of the picture. Just as important is the type of content being published. Consumer demand for online video content has grown exponentially, a trend that will undoubtedly continue. Faster download speeds and cost-effective production have made it easier than ever for sales professionals to harness the power of video for their marketing efforts.

While COVID-19 restrictions forced many originators to make video sales presentations instead of meeting prospects in person, this format is here to stay. The issue is no longer whether originators should be on video, but how good they are at convincing prospects to do business with them via this medium. Moving forward, while AI can streamline product selection and loan processing tasks, a computer can’t duplicate the warmth, interest and caring that a salesperson can convey in a video presentation.

Originators who put the time and effort into developing and perfecting video presentation skills will win in today’s marketplace. This isn’t about being a Hollywood movie star but more about a salesperson being real, current, and tech-savvy. This one skill will separate better originators from the rest of the pack.

Are your originators meeting customers where they are? Are they providing marketing content in a way that consumers want to receive it? These are critical considerations for producers who want to connect with their best prospects.

Pat Sherlock is the founder of QFS Sales Solutions, an organization that helps organizations improve their sales talent management and performance. For more information, visit https://patsherlock.com.

Source: themortgageleader.com

10 Things Taxes Pay For: Where Do Your Federal Tax Dollars Go?

Your taxes pay for a variety of government services, as well as government debt and salaries.

A young Black woman sits at a desktop computer and looks intently at the screen. One hand rests on the keyboard and the other holds a mug of coffee or tea. There is a yellow wall and blackboard behind her and two notebooks stacked on the desk beside her.

The federal government spends a lot of money. In 2019, for example, the government spent a total of around $4.4 trillion. You know that sounds like a lot, but how much is it really? 

For comparison, $4.4 trillion was around a fifth of the total national GDP for that year. GDP, or gross domestic product, is the value of all the goods and services provided or made within the country during that year.

What funds the things the government pays for? Well, $3.5 trillion of that spending was paid for by “federal revenues,” which mostly refers to taxes. The other $984 billion was borrowed. Discover 10 things taxes pay for below to understand just how the federal government is spending those trillions of dollars.

10 Things Taxes Pay For

  1. Government Debt
  2. Social Security
  3. Medicare
  4. Other Health Care
  5. National Defense
  6. Veterans Benefits
  7. Safety Net Programs
  8. Education
  9. Infrastructure
  10. Salaries and Wages

1. Government Debt

If the United States’ government borrowed more than $900 billion in 2019 alone, you can bet the total debt is high. At the end of 2019, it was $22.8 trillion.

According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which keeps a daily national debt clock, as of February 24, 2021, the national debt was as much as $27,932,601,755,468—more than $27.9 trillion. Not sure exactly how much that really is? Consider this—if everyone in the United States covered an equal portion of that debt, each person would need to pony up $84,029.

It’s not surprising that a large chunk of what the federal government spends goes to debt, then. In 2019, around 8% of federal spending covered only the interest on debts!

2. Social Security 

Funding the Social Security program is a big expense for federal taxpayers. Social Security spending is part of an overall government spending category known as mandatory spending. These don’t require appropriation because the spending is mandated by a previous law or appropriation. With mandatory spending, the government funds the programs based on the need—however many people are eligible for and draw from Social Security, for example, determines how much is funded.

Many of the mandatory spending programs started in the middle of the 20th century. As the population has grown, so has the amount needed to fund these programs. In 1962, mandatory spending accounted for 31% of the federal budget. In 2019, it accounted for 61%.

Social Security accounts for the largest amount of mandatory spending. In 2019, the program accounted for 38% of all mandatory federal spending. That was around 23% of the total budget, or about a trillion dollars.

3. Medicare

Medicare also represents a mandatory spending item on the federal budget. It’s typically second to Social Security, and in 2019, it accounted for more than 23% of mandatory spending. This program provides health care benefits for qualified retired individuals as well as some eligible disabled persons. Overall, about $651 billion went to Medicare in 2019.

4. Other Health Care

Medicare isn’t the only health care and wellness program covered by the federal government. Others include Medicaid, which the federal government funds in partnership with the states, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and health care market subsidies. These subsidies are funded under the Affordable Care Act and usually taken as a reduction on how much someone might pay in taxes.

In 2019, all of these other health care programs cost around $450 billion.

5. National Defense

Defense is not included in mandatory spending. It is discretionary spending and it must be included in congressional appropriations bills annually.

Defense tends to be the biggest discretionary spending item on the federal budget. Some, but not all, foreign aid can be classified under defense because that spending is meant to stabilize other nations for the defense of the United States.

In 2019, defense accounted for around 50% of all discretionary spending. However, that was only around 16% of the total budget. 

6. Veterans Benefits

Veterans benefits refers to a wide range of health and wellness programs, financial assistance, and other programs designed to support veterans of the United States military. This type of spending can actually fall under both discretionary and mandatory, as there are VA programs in both categories. In either case, though, it’s a relatively small percentage of total spending.

7. Income Security or Safety Net Programs

Income security refers to federal spending on safety net programs to increase the health and safety of the general population. Programs included under this umbrella term cover, but aren’t limited to, housing assistance, nutrition and food assistance, unemployment compensation, foster care, and certain tax credits.

In 2019, income security accounted for the third-largest mandatory spending category after Social Security and Medicare. Around 16% of mandatory federal spending was in this category. Around 5% of discretionary spending that year was also in this category.

With two COVID relief acts in 2020, you should expect to see percentages in this category go up for that year. The types of spending related to those bills—such as the stimulus payments to qualifying Americans—would be considered income security. 

8. Education

The children are our future—but you might not know it by looking at how federal funds are spent. Education is normally a relatively small discretionary spending item (about 7% of discretionary spending in 2019), and it often includes both K-12 education as well as spending on college, training, and employment services. It’s also worth noting that only around 8% of K-12 public school spending across the country is federal. The rest is covered by state and local funds. 

9. Infrastructure

Infrastructure refers to physical structures and facilities that we depend on to function as a society. This includes buildings, roads, and power supplies. 

As with education, infrastructure expenses are shared among federal, state, and local budgets. According to a report from the House Committee on the Budget, the total infrastructure spending across all these entities in 2017 was only 2.3% of GDP, or around $441 billion.

10. Salaries and Wages

Not including the military and other non-civilian workforces, the federal government employs more than 2 million people. That’s a lot of people to pay, which means a lot of spending on salaries, wages, and benefits. The federal government spends billions of tax dollars to cover these expenses every year.

What If You Don’t Agree with Federal Spending?

As much as we’d sometimes like to pull the plug on our own tax bills because we don’t agree with how the federal government is spending our money, you still need to pay your taxes. Not doing so has legal consequences and could also lead to debt that might derail your financial goals and credit score. 

But you can take some actions if you don’t agree with how the federal government is spending your tax dollars:

  • Contact your legislators. Find your representatives in the House of Representatives and the Senate, then contact them about your concerns. Don’t forget to contact your state representatives as well as your US representatives.
  • Use your vote. Vote for candidates for president, the House of Representatives, or the Senate who align most closely with your policy beliefs and who may be more likely to spend money in a way you agree with.
  • Get involved. Learn more, get involved with grassroots change efforts, or sign or create petitions for change.

But while you’re doing all those things, don’t forget to do your federal taxes.

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Source: credit.com

Hotels and airlines bet big on flexibility and peace of mind

Hotels and airlines bet big on flexibility and peace of mind


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Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: thepointsguy.com

Homie’s Denver Housing Market Update January 2021

With the start of a new year, we can’t help but look forward to watching how the market changes throughout 2021. So how did the Denver market start out the new year? We’ve got your update!

Data from ReColorado from January 1, 2021 to January 31, 2021.

Monthly Sales

It’s common for the volume of sales to shrink during the month of January, and this year has been no different. With a 38% decrease from December, January monthly sales landed at 3,164. This is a 6% decrease from January of the previous year.

Graph of Monthly Sales

Data retrieved from ReColorado.

New Listings

New listings also experienced a year-over-year decrease, landing at 4,285. While this is a 12% decrease from the previous year, it’s a 29.6% increase from the previous month.

Graph of List Prices

Data retrieved from ReColorado.

Sale Price

In contrast to new listings and monthly sales, sale prices saw a significant year-over-year increase. The average sale price for a Denver home in January was $550,165, a 16% increase from this time last year.

Sales Price

Data retrieved from ReColorado.

Days on Market (DOM)

Even though there were fewer sales in January than there were last January, those sales are happening at much faster speeds. The average number of days spent on the market for a Denver area home in January was 26, which is a 19-day decrease from last January.

Graph of Days on Market

Data retrieved from ReColorado.

Turn to a Homie

Whether you’re ready to buy or sell, Homie has experienced, local real estate agents who are ready to find you what you’re looking for. These agents understand all the ins and outs of the Denver market, and they’ll lend you their expertise while you buy or sell your home. Click to start selling or buying and to get in touch with your dedicated agent.

Learn more about Colorado Real Estate

How to Buy a Home in Denver
How to Sell a Home in Colorado
5 Tips to Help You Afford Your First Home

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Source: homie.com

Bodnar of MMG: Rates Move Higher, But We May Have Found a Bottom

Bill Bodnar of The Mortgage Market Guide (MMG) says that rates moved higher this week, but we might have found a bottom.

“We have numbers for you, your clients and partners to follow,” Bodnar says. “Rising lumber prices are hitting New Home Builders. Was today’s weak Housing Starts a sign of things to come?”

Watch the short video to see what it means for you.

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Source: themortgageleader.com

Marriott announces elite status updates and new promotions – The Points Guy

Marriott announces elite status updates and new promotions – The Points Guy


Advertiser Disclosure


Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: thepointsguy.com