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Looking for the best seasonal jobs? Seasonal jobs are a great way to make extra money without having to work full-time all year. These jobs are perfect if you’re wanting to work part of the year, if you’re looking to make a part-time income, or if you want to try something a little more adventurous….

Looking for the best seasonal jobs?

Seasonal jobs are a great way to make extra money without having to work full-time all year. These jobs are perfect if you’re wanting to work part of the year, if you’re looking to make a part-time income, or if you want to try something a little more adventurous.

Depending on what you like and what you’re good at, there are many different jobs that can help you earn a good paycheck.

Plus, I know many, many people who work seasonal jobs and make a full-time income, so the money can be great as well.

17 Best Seasonal Jobs

Below are the best seasonal jobs.

1. Camp counselor

One of the most popular seasonal jobs is being a camp counselor. This can include working at a daytime summer camp or even a week- or months-long summer camp.

This seasonal job revolves around creating a safe and enjoyable environment for campers. This involves running different activities such as games, arts and crafts sessions, leading hikes, and sometimes sharing stories around the campfire.

Typically, camp counselor positions are seasonal and tend to be during the summer months and can be either full-time or part-time.

When it comes to qualifications, a love for the outdoors, being good with kids, and having a responsible and caring demeanor are important.

While the pay can vary, camp counselors many times make around $20 an hour.

This is one of the best seasonal jobs for college students because it typically happens when you are off from school, and it may come with housing!

Recommended reading: 29 Best Jobs In Nature To Make Money

2. UPS

If you want a dependable seasonal job, UPS is a popular option.

My husband actually used to work for UPS for many years (as did his brother and many of our friends), and it is a very popular job for many reasons, such as the great health benefits.

UPS has seasonal positions such as being a seasonal driver helper.

During the holiday season, UPS ramps up its workforce, hiring over 100,000 helpers to manage the gift-giving rush. Positions such as driver helper are always needed and you can expect to earn around $20 per hour.

In terms of the work schedule, expect to work 20 to 30 hours per week. Driver helpers are only hired in October, November, and December.

Recommended reading: 15 Part Time Jobs With Health Insurance

3. Tour guide

Becoming a seasonal tour guide could be a way for you to combine work with your love for travel and adventure. It’s a job where you can share your passion with others while exploring new places.

Tour guiding is a job for anyone who loves talking to people and telling stories. You could guide visitors through a busy city, lead nature adventures, show art and history at museums, or organize trips for groups. There’s a tour guide job to match your interests and skills. To do well, you need to know a lot about the place you’re guiding in and have good communication skills.

Regarding earnings, tour guide pay varies widely. On average, hourly wages range from about $15 to $25, with specialized roles potentially earning up to $30 per hour.

4. Gift wrapper

Gift wrapping is a good winter seasonal job, especially if you are good at wrapping gifts!

Working as a gift wrapper during the holiday season is a great way to make extra money. Many stores hire seasonal gift wrappers to help shoppers. Your job would be to wrap presents quickly and nicely.

Gift wrappers usually earn between $14 and $24 an hour, which can help with your holiday budget. One of the best parts is that you don’t need any experience. Many employers will train you on the job to improve your wrapping skills.

You can check out local malls or stores for seasonal jobs. These opportunities are often advertised at larger shopping centers.

5. Raft guide

If you love the outdoors and adventure, becoming a raft guide could be an exciting and rewarding seasonal job. As a raft guide, you’ll guide customers through the river.

This is an outdoors job that typically happens during the summer and fall, so it is a seasonal job that could be a lot of fun in places like Colorado, California, Utah, Oregon, and West Virginia.

You can find seasonal raft guide jobs by contacting raft companies in popular locations to check for job postings. You can also use social media to join groups and follow pages about outdoor jobs, and networking with current and former guides can give you valuable job leads.

6. Retail sales associate

If you want a job that fits around your life and only lasts for a short time, becoming a retail sales associate might be perfect for you. Many stores hire retail associates for seasonal work. This could also be for full-time or part-time jobs.

As a retail sales associate, your job would be to provide customer service and keep the store running smoothly, such as by checking out customers at the cash register.

There are many stores that hire for seasonal cashier jobs, such as Target, Best Buy, Walmart, Home Depot, Michaels, and more.

Plus, you can typically get a discount when working at a store too! I used to work as a retail sales associate and while customer service can be hard, I also made some great friends and had a good time.

7. Landscaping worker

If you enjoy being outdoors and want to make good money during the warmer months, you can become a landscaping worker. These jobs usually come up in the spring and summer when grass, trees, and flowers grow quickly.

Taking care of lawns is a big part of the job, such as mowing grass, trimming edges, and using fertilizers or pesticides to keep lawns looking nice.

Landscaping jobs usually pay between $15 and $25 per hour, and this can vary based on where you work and how much experience you have.

8. Fireworks stand worker

Running a fireworks stand can be a great way to make extra money, especially during busy times like the Fourth of July.

When I was younger, I had many friends who had summer jobs working at fireworks stands, and while the work was hard (long days in the heat!), they did seem to like it.

Your job at the fireworks stand is important but simple. You’ll sell fireworks to customers, keep the stand looking nice, and handle transactions while keeping track of sales.

9. Ski instructor

If you love snow and want to share that love with others, becoming a ski instructor could be a great winter job for you, as ski resorts are typically open from around November through April.

One thing that many people don’t realize is that you don’t need to be an Olympic skier to become a ski instructor – this is something that you can learn how to teach. I’m not saying that it isn’t hard, though, as this is still hard work!

Ski instructors teach people how to ski and they work outside on the slopes, spending their days teaching beginners and helping more experienced skiers get better.

Your pay as a ski instructor depends on where you work and how much experience you have. New instructors might start at around $18 to $25 an hour. Certified instructors can earn more, sometimes up to $50 an hour or more.

You can look for ski instructor jobs by checking the websites of ski resorts, where they often post job openings. You can also attend outdoor job fairs, especially those focused on winter sports, to meet ski resort representatives and learn about job openings. Plus, networking with current and former ski instructors through social media, forums, and industry events can also be helpful.

10. Tax preparer

If you’re good with numbers and like helping others, being a tax preparer could be a good seasonal job for you during tax season!

Tax preparers help people complete their tax forms. Many companies need extra help from January to April, during the tax filing season.

You don’t have to go to formal school to become a tax preparer, but having the right education and training can help. Many tax preparers start by taking courses or getting certifications in tax preparation from community colleges, trade schools, or online platforms.

Sometimes, this can be remote work too. I actually have my tax return filed remotely each year and have never met my accountant in person, so I personally know that this is real!

11. Bartender

If you want to earn some extra money, seasonal bartender jobs could be perfect for you. These jobs are really popular during the summer and holidays when there are lots of parties and events happening.

Becoming a bartender usually involves a mix of hands-on experience and knowledge. While formal training like bartending courses can help, many bartenders start by working entry-level jobs like barbacks or servers. This lets them learn important skills like making drinks, handling money, and talking to customers.

12. Lifeguard

A job as a lifeguard could be your perfect pick for a summer job. This is one of the top seasonal jobs for teenagers and young adults in the summer.

Lifeguards are really important for keeping swimmers safe at pools or beaches. They watch swimmers carefully to stop accidents and help quickly if someone’s in trouble. Lifeguards are trained to save lives, helping right away and doing rescue techniques if needed. They also know how to give first aid to people who get hurt while swimming.

Lifeguard jobs can pay well, with some jobs paying around $20 per hour as employees for pools and beaches.

13. 1-800-Flowers

If you want to earn extra cash, especially during the holidays, you might want to check out job opportunities with 1-800-Flowers. This well-known company sells flowers and gift baskets.

At 1-800-Flowers, there’s a big need for extra people during busy times like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. You can find seasonal job roles such as:

  • Gift assembly – Put together lovely gift baskets
  • Distribution – Pack and send off products
  • Production – Get the items ready to look nice

14. Fly-fishing guide

A fly-fishing guide can be a year-round job or seasonal, depending on how you approach it.

I know some fly-fishing guides who are guides year-round, where they live in one place (such as in Florida or the Bahamas), and some who travel for 6 months to one fly-fishing area and then spend 6 months in another area. I also know some fly-fishing guides who only guide during the summer months, such as up in Alaska (and they do a different line of work the rest of the year).

So, there are many ways to make this job work for you!

Fly-fishing guides teach people how to fly-fish, share tips on fishing tactics, help with fishing gear, and more.

15. Sports referee

A sports referee can be a seasonal job, and you can choose the sport you want to ref (typically, you’d pick the one you know best or know a lot about). This could be sports like soccer, baseball, and football.

You can find jobs by checking with local recreation centers or job listings in your area.

Referees typically make around $20 to $50 per hour.

16. Parking lot attendant

Some parking lots are open year-round, and others are open only during big events, such as for summer concerts or a sporting event.

Parking lot attendants help cars find spots, take payments, and handle issues.

17. WWOOFer (unpaid but free food and stay)

WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It connects people with organic farms all over the world.

With WWOOF, volunteers can pick a place and country to visit and work on a farm. You can stay for a few days or several months, based on what you and the farm agree on.

In exchange for food and a place to stay, you need to work 4 to 6 hours a day on the farm.

So, WWOOFers do not get paid actual cash, but I did still want to mention this in this article because I know that many people are looking for seasonal jobs with housing.

You might be asked to cut wood, pack items, feed animals, make food, plant seeds, make compost, help with the garden, and do other helpful tasks for the farmer.

Recommended reading: How To Get Paid To Travel The World

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions about how to find seasonal jobs.

What seasonal job pays the most?

The seasonal jobs that pay the most include working as a helper (at UPS), tour guide, raft guide, fly-fishing guide, ski instructor, and bartender. Also, any job where you can get paid in tips tends to pay high.

What are some seasonal jobs with housing?

Seasonal jobs that may include housing include working as a campground worker (such as at a national park or RV park), a camp counselor, and a WWOOFer. Also, certain seasonal gigs like fly-fishing or raft guiding may come with housing as well, such as in places where housing is hard to come by or is very expensive.

What are the best seasonal jobs for college students?

The best seasonal jobs for college students include retail sales associate, camp counselor, and parking lot attendant.

What are the best seasonal jobs in winter?

The best seasonal jobs in the winter include a driver helper for UPS, working on a Christmas tree farm, and becoming a gift wrapper.

Best Seasonal Jobs – Summary

I hope you enjoyed this article on the best seasonal jobs.

Many seasonal jobs not only pay you but also give you unique experiences. You could be a camp counselor and spend time outside with kids, or work as a ski instructor and ski every day. If you’d rather work inside, you could be a sales associate in a store or wrap gifts during the holidays. Other jobs, like tax preparer or fireworks stand operator, are available at certain times of the year and can pay well too.

As you can see, there are many different seasonal jobs that may fit what you’re looking for.

What do you think are the best seasonal jobs?

Recommended reading:

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

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An acronym for generally accepted accounting principles, GAAP is a set of rules and principles that public companies in the U.S. must follow when preparing their annual financial statements.

Without GAAP, it would be much more difficult for lenders, investors, and other interested parties to know whether a business is performing well or poorly.

Read on to learn more on what GAAP is and how it works, pros and cons of GAAP, the differences between GAAP and non-GAAP, and more.

GAAP Defined

GAAP, or generally accepted accounting principles, is a commonly recognized set of rules and procedures designed to govern corporate accounting and financial reporting in the U.S.

GAAP was established to provide consistency in how financial statements are created, eliminate the potential for fraudulent or misleading financial reports, and make it easier for investors and creditors to evaluate companies and compare them apples-to-apples.

All publicly traded businesses in the U.S. must use GAAP in their financial statements. While small businesses that don’t get audited aren’t required to use GAAP, doing so can still be helpful, particularly if your business may be interested in attracting an investor or exploring small business loans at some point.

How GAAP Works

Three nonprofit organizations — the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF), Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), and Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) — play a role in setting GAAP standards as follows:

•  FAF oversees the FASB and GASB organizations

•  FASB issues GAAP rules for businesses and nonprofits

•  GASB issues GAAP standards for state and local governments

For businesses filing periodic reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), GAAP dictates how a company can recognize revenue and expenses and how information needs to be presented to shareholders in an audited report. It also standardizes the financial reporting process so that third parties can easily compare and contrast two GAAP-compliant companies or entities.

GAAP incorporates three components to help eliminate misleading accounting and financial reporting practices:

•  10 accounting principles

•  Rules and standards issued by the FASB or GASB

•  Generally accepted industry practices

Recommended: Annual Business Revenue Explained

Pros and Cons of GAAP

GAAP offers a number of benefits. It guides companies in preparing accurate and clear financial data, reduces fraudulent financial reporting, and provides consistency in the financial statements of one GAAP-compliant company to another.

However, GAAP also has some limitations. Its “one-size-fits-all” approach to financial reporting, for example, doesn’t always address issues faced by specific industries. GAAP can also be overly complex, as well as costly to implement, for smaller businesses. And, it’s not a globally used standard, which can make it challenging for international organizations and for investors who want to compare companies operating in different countries.

Pros of GAAP

Here are some of the pros of GAAP:

•  Fosters honesty and transparency in financial reporting

•  Makes it easy to compare one GAAP-compliant company to another GAAP-compliant company

•  Ensures that businesses follow the same accounting principles for all reporting periods

•  Enables businesses to compare their performance with that of their competitors

Cons of GAAP

Here are some of the cons of GAAP:

•  Strict accounting model does not address many industry-specific situations

•  Can be costly for smaller companies to become GAAP-compliant

•  Overshadows non-U.S. GAAP financial performance metrics, such as adjusted EBITDA

•  Not a global standard

Recommended: No Money Down Business Loans

10 Important GAAP Principles

GAAP has 10 fundamental principles companies must follow:

1. Principle of Regularity

Accountants must adhere to the rules and regulations of GAAP accounting. This principle keeps accountants from making up their own methods. With GAAP, any accountant can understand the work of another accountant. This is extremely important when comparing businesses and analyzing their worth.

2. Principle of Consistency

Accountants must apply the same standards and techniques for all accounting periods. This ensures financial comparability between periods. Any changes or updated standards must be explained in the footnotes to the financial statements.

3. Principle of Sincerity

Accountants must be as honest, impartial, and accurate in their reporting of a company’s financial performance as possible. They cannot lie or fudge numbers to make a company seem more profitable.

4. Principle of Permanence of Methods

All GAAP-compliant companies must be consistent with their methods and procedures. By doing so, all GAAP-compliant companies can be compared regardless of their industry.

5. Principle of Non-Compensation

Businesses must report all aspects of their performance, both good and bad, and without the expectation of debt compensation.

6. Principle of Prudence

Accountants should never speculate or give their opinion in a financial report. All records must only include expenses and provisions for spending that have or will certainly take place.

7. Principle of Continuity

While valuing assets, accountants must assume the business will continue to operate in the foreseeable future. Any potential buyouts or foreclosures should not be considered.

8. Principle of Periodicity

Accountants must report all revenue and expenses in the appropriate accounting period, such as fiscal quarters or fiscal years.

9. Principle of Materiality

Accountants must strive to fully disclose all financial data and accounting information in financial reports.

10. Principle of Utmost Good Faith

All parties that contribute to a company’s financial report are assumed to be honest and reputable.

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Alternatives to GAAP

IFRS

The International Financial Reporting Standards, or IFRS, are another set of accounting standards, but these are used at the international level. IFRS is standard in the European Union and many countries in Asia and South America, but not in the United States. IFRS was established so that companies could be comparable from country to country.

The main difference between GAAP vs. IFRS is that GAAP prioritizes rules and detailed guidelines, whereas IFRS only provides general principles to follow. Accountants have more leeway when following IFRS, but often need to include explanatory documents. On the other hand, businesses that use GAAP may feel confined by the lengthy rules.

Recommended: How to Calculate Cash Flow

Tax Basis

Tax basis accounting follows the accounting that a company is required to use for filing its federal tax return. If allowed by creditors, investors, and other financial statement users, tax basis accounting can make sense for a privately held company, since it means less work when preparing the company’s tax return. When comparing tax-basis vs. GAAP accounting, tax basis accounting is less complex and often leads to less footnote disclosures in financial statements.

GAAS

Generally accepted auditing standards, or GAAS, is the framework that guides auditors. GAAS standards help auditors prepare a transparent and reliable audit report on companies. Following these standards also ensures that auditors don’t miss any important information. When comparing them, it’s important to remember that GAAP is used by accountants, whereas GAAS is used by auditors. Therefore, an auditor following GAAS may see how well a company is following GAAP.

The Takeaway

GAAP is the set of accounting rules and principles that public U.S. companies must follow when putting together financial statements. The goal of GAAP is to hold publicly traded companies accountable and ensure their financial statements are complete, consistent, and comparable.

For small business accounting, you are not required to follow GAAP regulations. However, doing so can make it easier for outsiders to evaluate your business and compare it with other companies in your industry. Publishing GAAP-compliant financial statements could make it easier for your business to attract an investor or get approved for certain types of business loans.

If you’re seeking financing for your business, SoFi can help. On SoFi’s marketplace, you can shop top providers today to access the capital you need. Find a personalized business financing option today in minutes.

With SoFi’s marketplace, it’s fast and easy to search for your small business financing options.

FAQ

How many principles does GAAP have?

The generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, has ten principles. They are:

1.   Principle of regularity

2.   Principle of consistency

3.   Principle of sincerity

4.   Principle of permanence of methods

5.   Principle of non-compensation

6.   Principle of prudence

7.   Principle of continuity

8.   Principle of periodicity

9.   Principle of materiality

10.   Principle of utmost good faith

Is GAAP the same in every country?

No, only U.S. publicly traded companies must use GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles). IFRS (the International Financial Reporting Standards) is used in the European Union and many countries in Asia and South America.

Why is GAAP important?

GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) is important because it ensures honesty, transparency, and uniformity in financial reporting. Without GAAP standards, businesses could report their earnings differently, which could make it difficult for investors and creditors to evaluate and compare companies, and could also provide opportunities for fraud.

What does GAAP stand for?

GAAP is the acronym for generally accepted accounting principles, a comprehensive framework of accounting rules. GAAP is primarily used in corporate accounting and financial reporting in the United States.

Who oversees GAAP?

Three nonprofit organizations — the Financial Accounting Foundation (FAF), Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), and Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) — play a role in setting GAAP standards. FAF oversees the FASB and GASB organizations, while FASB issues GAAP rules for businesses and nonprofits and GASB issues GAAP standards for state and local governments. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can establish GAAP via government regulations, but it typically allows the private sector to establish the standards.


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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Source: sofi.com

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Broker Products; Legal Thoughts on Dual Licensing; Agency and Investor News; Interview With Tour de France Rider

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Fri, May 24 2024, 11:57 AM

“Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” (Dante’s words, not Disney’s.) That could be the slogan of Times Square, but for those who just spent days at the Secondary conference in Times Square, trying to avoid everything in Times Square, you can look forward to the same event at the same place in the same hotel next year, May 18-21, 2025. Manhattan has so, so much more to offer. In a year, will groups still be discussing Attorney Opinion Letters, offering a savings on refis and new construction for Agency loans? What about LOs coming real estate agents, and vice versa? (For lenders considering that, given the NAR lawsuit that isn’t 100 percent settled yet, Attorney Brian Levy addresses dual licensing in “Double Dipping and Conflicts of Interest” and “Employee or a Duck?”.) Found here, this week’s podcasts are Sponsored by Truv. Truv lets applicants verify income, employment, assets, insurance, and switch direct deposits. Unlock the power of open finance, with Truv. Today’s has an interview with Tour de France cyclist Joe Dombrowski on his transition from an athletic career to one in (potentially) residential lending.

Broker Products

Calling all mortgage brokers! Kind Lending is pumped to announce the return of VIBE 2024 – Very Important Broker Exchange, the ultimate “Growth Mindset” event designed to supercharge your success! VIBE is the only growth mindset event of its KIND within the Mortgage industry with a one-of-a-KIND speaker lineup. Don’t miss out on hearing and learning from industry-shaking speakers, Glenn Stearns, Grant Cardone, Barry Habib, and more to be announced! Join us at the Pearl Theater located at the beautiful Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, NV on Friday, 10/18. Registration and Sponsorship packages are open and ready for the taking! Visit www.kind-vibe.com to learn more, catch up on VIBE 2023, and/or reserve your spot at this one-day, growth mindset event! We look forward to vibin’ with you in October at the entertainment capital of the world!

“Rocket Pro TPO continues to deliver valuable training opportunities! Earlier in May, a new Pro Performance Sales Training was held for partners and featured insights from three mortgage industry experts. Attendees learned how to convert social media engagement into leads, close more loans by meeting clients at the right time and place on social media, and provide ongoing value to clients even after they’ve bought a home. The training also offered tips on using analytics to target messaging with confidence. Now, this exclusive training is available to everyone: catch the replay here. Additionally, mark your calendars for IGNITE Live on July 9th, 2024, hosted by Mike Fawaz, EVP of Rocket Pro TPO. This event will cover industry discussions, current trends, and offer insights on staying ahead in the current market. Don’t miss this opportunity. Contact Rocket Pro TPO today to explore partnership opportunities that can benefit both your clients and your business.”

Agency and Investor, Correspondent and Broker News

Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a Request for Input (RFI) on the mission of the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLBank) System as the Agency considers next steps for related rulemakings. The RFI provides an opportunity for the public to provide feedback on a core recommendation of FHFA’s Federal Home Loan Bank System at 100: Focusing on the Future report. Recognizing the importance of government-sponsored enterprises serving a clear public purpose, the report recommends clarifying the mission of the FHLBank System and updating how the Agency evaluates the FHLBanks’ achievement of that mission.

FHA published ML 2024-09 amending FHA’s eligibility requirements to remove the home office geographic address from data that must be the same in both the Lender Electronic Assessment Portal (LEAP) and SAM.gov. This change will streamline data reporting and support lender compliance by reducing potential contradictory information between the LEAP and SAM.gov platforms.

The Appraiser Quality Monitoring (AQM) list is moving to Fannie Mae Connect™. You can find it and over 80 other reports using the app’s search feature. The list will continue to be available on the AQM webpage through July 30, 2024, after which Fannie Mae Connect will be required for viewing.

Fannie Mae issued Selling Notice, Area median incomes (AMIs) will be implemented in Desktop Underwriter® (DU®) and HomeReady® application programming interfaces (APIs), Loan Delivery, and the Area Median Income Lookup Tool effective May 19. The AMIs will continue to be applied in DU based on the casefile create date, while the Application Received Date provided in Loan Delivery will be used to determine which AMI limit to use when evaluating eligibility for the loan-level price adjustment (LLPA) waiver.

Discussed in Pennymac announcement 24-48, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have both issued recent clarifications on how seller-paid real estate agent commissions are treated in light of recent settlements and ongoing litigation involving the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced the 2024 Area Median Income (AMI) limits with an effective date of May 19, 2024. Pennymac is aligning with these change, view Pennymac announcement 24-49.

At the direction of FHFA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have updated their Selling Guides to provide more specificity regarding lender responsibilities to ensure that properties are covered by adequate insurance. Pennymac Announcement 24-50: Property Insurance Sufficiency provides additional information.

United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) announced 0 percent Down Purchase, a program aimed to help more borrowers become homeowners without an upfront down payment. This UWM-exclusive program allows qualified borrowers to receive a 3 percent down payment assistance loan up to $15,000 from UWM. This loan will not accrue interest and will not require a monthly payment. Contact UWM for borrower requirements.

PHH Mortgage updated Government UPB LLPAs and Spec Adjustments to allow for more accurate pricing.

Capital Markets

On the heels of the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes from Wednesday, which unsurprisingly showing that FOMC voters feel they need to see more evidence of disinflation before considering any interest rate cuts, markets yesterday finally received some data from this week to crunch on.

New-home sales disappointed, dropping 4.7 percent in April after an above-average print in March. The pullback was a bit sharper than anticipated but can largely be explained by early April’s move higher in mortgage rates. And speaking of mortgage rates, 30-year fixed mortgage rates fell below 7 percent for the first time since that early April rise, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Separately, initial jobless claims dropped again.

New home sales declining means both new and existing home sales are now trending in negative directions. While rising inventory levels in the resale market are a factor weighing on new sales, existing home sales (a much larger portion of the market) have been in a downward trend since hitting a six-year peak at the end of 2020.

Existing home sales are currently running at just 79 percent of the millennium-to-date sales average. This is partly due to the majority of American homeowners being locked into their homes from record low mortgage rates as a result of QE4. Two cheers for Jerome and his efforts that will keep tens of millions of homes off the market for years to come. As far as new home sales slacking, single-family home building has been lacking since 2008.

U.S. business activity grew the most in two years in early May, evidenced by flash Manufacturing and Services PMI readings for the U.S. showing accelerating growth. The reports invited some speculation that the Fed could hold off on its initial rate cut, with pricing for a September cut now a coin-toss. If you recall, the minutes from the FOMC’s May 1st decision showed “many” Fed officials questioning whether policy was restrictive enough. Some even mentioned a willingness to tighten further if needed.

Fed speakers, of which there seem to be far too many, have stuck to the script since that meeting, cautioning investors that they will need to see more evidence of disinflation before any rate cuts are appropriate. If you don’t agree with the “too much Fed speak” sentiment, look no further than this week’s Atlanta Fed Financial Markets Conference. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic has taken the stage on six different occasions, and there were eight other Fed speakers issuing remarks for public dissemination.

Today’s economic calendar is under way with durable goods orders for April at +.7 percent! Expectations were for a decline of 1.0 percent month-over-month versus a 0.9 percent increase previously. Later today brings remarks from Fed Governor Waller, and final May Michigan sentiment. Pay attention to the 1-year and 5-to-10-year inflation expectation components of the Michigan figures, which the Fed places an emphasis on when it comes to the central bank’s theory of what causes inflation. It hasn’t been pretty lately: The 1-year index has risen three releases in a row to 3.5 percent, while the 5–10-year index has also increased over the past three releases to 3.1 percent and has weighed on market hopes for rate cuts this year.

Things stop trading at 2PM ET, 8AM HT, per SIFMA’s recommendation ahead of the Memorial Day holiday. We begin the day with Agency MBS prices unchanged from Thursday’s close, the 10-year yielding 4.49 after closing yesterday at 4.48 percent, and the 2-year little change at 4.94.

Jobs

“Dreaming of a better way to run your business? We’re on a mission to empower independent mortgage banks like yours to reach new heights of success. As part of the Homestead Funding team, you’ll maintain your independence so you can focus on production. We provide cutting-edge tools, technology, and executive support to help you thrive without the burdens of regulations or compliance. Our extensive product line is constantly evolving to meet market demands, ensuring you have the programs and financing solutions to successfully assist diverse clients. Plus, our dedicated marketing team is here to amplify your visibility and attract new leads through print and digital campaigns. Since 1995, we’ve been inspiring professionals like you to thrive. Our force in the industry has proven that growth doesn’t mean sacrificing independence. Contact Dave Stagnitti to learn how you can accelerate your career with Homestead Funding, 518-390-5960.”

A 49-state licensed mortgage lender with a large servicing and strong capital base, seeking to expand retail footprint by partnering with large production teams or regional mortgage banks interested in a capital partnership. The goal of the relationship is to leverage back-office mortgage functions (e.g., secondary, technology, compliance, operations, and licensing) to provide you with long-term production growth opportunities. By partnering with us, you can utilize our mature systems to add loan officers and scale your operations across the US. If you are a strong retail loan origination team feeling constrained by layers of management, or an independent mortgage lender looking for new options for your team, we offer a compelling alternative to standard “branch” offerings. Confidential and serious inquiries can email Chrisman LLC’s Anjelica Nixt.

“Evergreen Home Loans™, a leader in the Western U.S. mortgage industry, is proud to announce its fourth consecutive recognition at the Puget Sound Business Journal’s Corporate Philanthropy Awards 2024. This accolade underlines our steadfast commitment to community engagement and philanthropy, a core aspect of our corporate culture that attracts passionate professionals dedicated to making a difference. Located across Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, Evergreen is continually looking for talented individuals eager to advance their careers in a supportive and dynamic environment. Join us in our mission to provide affordable home financing solutions and make a meaningful impact in our communities. Explore opportunities at Evergreen Careers.”

Canopy Mortgage is attracting producing loan officers across the Nation and remains profitable as we move into the summer! How many national lenders can say that they’ve made it to profitability this year? Not many. Canopy Mortgage is forging ahead with significant momentum and looking for branch managers to be part of their success story as they continue to innovate and empower LO’s with highly efficient tech that’s driving down the cost to fund a loan. Looking for a better way to run your business? Contact Josh Neumarker at 888-696-9076 for more information or to schedule a one of a kind Tech-Demo to see where the magic happens.

Nations Lending notched another win. Mortgage Executive Magazine has ranked Nations as one of the top 40 mortgage companies in the country. CEO Jeremy Sopko cited the recognition as proof of the company’s commitment to customer experience and industry innovation. The philosophy of Home Loans Made Human® has led to the continued success of Nations. This recent accolade comes on the heels of Scotsman Guide naming several of their originators in the top 5 percent nationally. Nations hosted its Presidents Club Awards to celebrate many of these top producers. The event also honored and recognized the contributions of non-producing support staff. Nations Lending President Bill Osborne summed up the spirit of the event. “It’s our way to show how thankful we are to everyone that makes this company great.”

“This lender landscape demands both speed and adaptability, which is why Sierra Pacific Mortgage (SPM) is rolling out AI within our proprietary origination system, ExpressLoan™, that provides precise and comprehensive guidance tailored to a borrower’s needs in a matter of seconds. No more wasting time sifting through underwriting guidelines to qualify potential loan scenarios! Hey Sierra is designed to fill the gaps in the mortgage industry, giving both tech-savvy newcomers and seasoned professionals an equal opportunity to work smarter, not harder. Whether you’re looking for FHA, VA, Conventional, or other loan product guidelines, Hey Sierra is the tool you turn to if you want to become a more efficient and effective loan originator. Ready to work with a lender who equips their originators with the cutting-edge technology they need to serve more clients and grow their business? Connect with a member of our Sales Leadership Team today.”

 Download our mobile app to get alerts for Rob Chrisman’s Commentary.

Source: mortgagenewsdaily.com

Apache is functioning normally

Embrace Home Loans celebrated the grand opening of its new location at 102 South Main St., Suite 101, on May 16, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony sponsored by the Culpeper County Chamber of Commerce.

Members of the Culpeper community were able see the new office and enjoy food and beverages.

According to Christina Swift, producing sales manager and loan officer for Embrace, when the home loan company first came to Culpeper in the early 2000s, it opened its first office on West Davis Street.

A few years later, the business moved to a space on Madison Road, where it stayed for 15 years before returning to downtown Culpeper.

“We had many, many offices and we were downsizing in a way and we also wanted a downtown location,” Swift said on the decision to move again. “When the downtown location came up, we found that this was the perfect fit for us.”

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Swift added the customer response has been positive, and complimented the newly renovated office. She said he hopes the new location can attract foot traffic from those walking in the downtown shopping area and allow her to show potential clients new to the area the appeal of Culpeper.

Among Embrace’s well wishers was Justin McFarland, senior vice-president for Oak View National Bank’s Culpeper branch. “(Swift) does a lot of the same things I do in the mortgage business and in the commercial business but she’s always been a fair competitor and a great friend,” he said.

Tish Smyth, a member of the board of directors for Culpeper Renaissance Inc., added, “It is wonderful to have a local lender downtown in our small community.”

Embrace Home Loans is a residential mortgage lender helping people buy and refinance homes. The company also advises and guides clients through the home buying process.

The corporate office is in Rhode Island and has offices throughout the East Coast, including Fairfax, Woodbridge, Virginia Beach and Ashburn in Virginia.

To lean more about the business, visit embracehomeloans.com.

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Apache is functioning normally

It’s a scenario many people aren’t prepared for: A loved one becomes disabled and requires your care. That care can bring financial challenges you may not be prepared for. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a person with a disability in the U.S. will spend $17,431 each year on average for healthcare expenses—in many cases, for the rest of their lives.

What’s more, medical costs may only scratch the surface of the financial repercussions. A person with a disability may lose some or all of their wage-earning ability, and the individual caring for them might also have to work fewer hours. You may incur additional expenses for home modifications, assistive devices, or occupational therapy, and a child or adult with a disability may also need specialized caregivers.

If all of this sounds overwhelming, take heart. Many financial resources exist that are designed to help people who are supporting a disabled adult or child, as well as to help secure your loved one’s financial future. Here are important things you need to know to make that happen.

Defining a disability

A basic definition of disability is any condition that challenges a person’s ability to perform certain activities or interact with their surroundings. But that definition may become more nuanced when it involves someone’s ability or inability to work, as well as any government benefits they are entitled to receive. 

For adults, the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines a disability as any mental or physical condition that is expected to be continuous in nature for at least 12 months that renders a person unable to perform the duties required by a job. To meet the SSA’s definition, people must have “a severe impairment(s) that makes you unable to do your past relevant work … or any other substantial gainful work that exists in the national economy.”  

Per the SSA, a child is considered to have a disability (and be eligible for benefits) if they “have a physical or mental condition that very seriously limits his or her activities” and if this condition has lasted or is expected to last for longer than a year.

Assessing whether your loved one’s disability meets the SSA’s definition is the first step in researching available benefits. Your family healthcare provider or a professional advisor who specializes in disability benefits may be able to help you make this determination.  

Benefits for children with disabilities

Children with disabilities are entitled to multiple government benefits to ensure they have quality healthcare, as well as services and supplies to meet their basic needs. One form of aid is Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is distributed by the SSA. The requirements for children to receive this supplemental income include: 

  • The applicant must have little or no income.
  • The applicant must have few or no assets. 
  • The applicant must have a disability (including blindness).

The amount of money received by each approved applicant is determined by various factors, such as where they live and how much they own.  

“Qualifying for SSI is critical,” says CPA James Lange of Lange Financial Group in Pittsburgh, “because it simultaneously qualifies you for other benefits.” 

For example, in most states, children with disabilities who qualify for SSI are automatically eligible for Medicaid healthcare coverage. If a child with a disability does not qualify for SSI, they can sometimes still receive Medicaid benefits via a Medicaid waiver, which waives the income- and resource-related thresholds for qualification—in other words, your child could receive Medicaid benefits regardless of your income or assets. These policies can differ from state to state, so check your home state’s department of health and family/social services website for the most accurate and current information. 

The bottom line when it comes to SSI, Lange reiterates, is to be proactive. “Don’t procrastinate,” he explains. “Getting all of this right will make a huge difference in your and your child’s life. You may be in for a long and difficult process of providing for your child and should do everything you can to take advantage of government programs.”

Finally, families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid may still be eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a government program that offers low-cost health insurance to children. If the parent of a child with a disability earns too much to qualify for Medicaid benefits but still struggles to pay healthcare expenses, CHIP can be a helpful solution. As with Medicaid, each state runs its CHIP program differently, so check your home state’s website for more information.

Benefits for adults with disabilities 

Adults with a disability may also be eligible for SSI if they have little or no income, few or no resources, and have a disability (including blindness) or are age 65 or older. They may also be eligible for Medicaid benefits and Medicaid waivers. 

In addition, those who previously worked a certain number of years and paid into Social Security may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Eligibility for SSDI is based on two requirements. The individual must have: 

  • A disability that prevents the individual from working for at least a year
  • Years of work during which they have earned sufficient Social Security credits  

Of course, each case is different, and eligibility will be determined by the SSA. 

“It can be tricky to navigate some of the rules around SSDI,” says Dan Stous, a Certified Financial Planner® and lead wealth advisor at Flagstone Financial Management in Lincoln, Nebraska. “But in a nutshell, you should be aware that your disabled loved one may qualify for federal financial aid.”

Adults with disabilities who continue to work  

People with disabilities can receive disability benefits and continue to work—up to a point. Someone receiving SSDI payments may not earn more than what’s known as substantial gainful activity (SGA). As of 2024, that amount is $1,550 per month. However, people who are blind have a higher SGA of $2,590.

Adults ages 18 to 64 with a disability who want to work can get a leg up through the Ticket to Work program, a government program designed to help people with disabilities find employment that’s right for them. The program guides participants through free employment services that can help them determine whether they are able to work, prepare to enter the economy, find a job, and be successful in the workplace. 

Veterans with disabilities 

Veterans with certain disabilities can qualify for monthly pension benefits, depending on yearly income and net worth. To be eligible, Veterans:

  • Must not have been dishonorably discharged
  • Must have served a certain length of time in the military—including at least one day during wartime—or have served as an officer
  • Must be at least one of the following:
    • Over the age of 65, permanently and totally disabled, living in a nursing home or long-term care facility due to a disability, or receiving SSDI or SSI payments

Caregiver support

A caregiver may get overwhelmed by aspects of providing care to a loved one, including managing finances. They may also struggle with the everyday demands of caregiving. Fortunately, resources exist that can help ease these hardships.

Some states offer programs that compensate family members or friends caring for a relative who receives Medicaid benefits. These programs vary significantly between states and often have complex eligibility requirements, so it’s important to do your research before applying. 

If the individual you’re caring for (say, your spouse) previously purchased a long-term care insurance policy, they may be eligible to submit claims for in-home care. Some policies will also provide compensation for a family caregiver. Contact your insurance agent and ask for a written confirmation of benefits.

For Veterans specifically, in-home care is accessible through Veteran-Directed Care, a government program that provides services to Veterans who need assistance with daily activities. This program can supplement the caregiving provided by a loved one to ease their care workload. Veterans who qualify can also make use of Aid and Attendance benefits or Housebound benefits, which are monthly payments that can be put toward in-home care for those with permanent disabilities. 

If you’re the parent of a child under the age of 18, are unemployed or underemployed, and can demonstrate that you have a low or no income, you may qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. This government program provides states with grant money to assist families that are struggling financially. If you qualify, you may receive a monthly cash payment for a set period. For many states, the lifetime limit of this aid is five years.  

You might also consider applying for benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which offers subsidies for food purchases to ensure that those with low or no income can maintain good nutrition. The SNAP program has special eligibility guidelines for those with disabilities, which may make it easier for those who already qualify for SSI or SSDI to also qualify for food assistance.

Banking options for people with disabilities

People who are disabled have access to special banking accommodations, including ABLE accounts, which allow people with disabilities to set aside savings without being taxed on the earnings of those accounts, as long as they spend the money on qualified expenses. (In this way, these accounts are similar to 529 college savings accounts.)

Another key benefit: For the most part, savings in an ABLE account won’t affect eligibility for SSI, Medicaid and other means-tested programs. 

Right now, ABLE accounts are available to people who became disabled before the age of 26. But thanks to the recent ABLE Age Adjustment Act, that threshold will increase to age 46 starting on the first day of 2026.

“I’ve found that ABLE accounts aren’t as well-known as I would have hoped among parents of children with disabilities,” says Stous. “They’re a great tool to help financially care for a disabled loved one and can act as a first step in that journey of preparing for when you may no longer be around and your child can no longer rely on your income to help meet their needs.”

There are limits to the amount of money that can be deposited into an ABLE account each year—$18,000 in 2024, with additional annual contributions allowed for ABLE account holders who work and who don’t participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan. There are also limits to what the beneficiary can spend the money on—qualified expenses include things like education, healthcare, assistive devices, and employment training. It’s also helpful to keep in mind that even if your state doesn’t offer an ABLE account program (though most do), you can enroll in another state’s program even if you’ve never lived there. 

Accessible facilities and products

Many banks also provide assistive technologies for people with disabilities to make their banking experience easier. These can include things like spaces designed to accommodate people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices, digital banking interfaces that can be used even by those who have difficulty seeing images or colors, and ATMs that are accessible to all. 

You can help a loved one with a disability

For people with disabilities and the loved ones who care for them, financial concerns can be significant—but there are numerous solutions to make them easier to navigate. With the right tools and the needed know-how to make wise decisions, meeting the financial challenges that a disability can bring becomes infinitely more manageable. 

Looking for ways to pay for upgrades that make your home more accessible? Learn how to finance home modifications that will support your loved one with disabilities.

The article and information provided herein are for informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Please consult your financial advisor with respect to information contained in this article and how it relates to you.

Articles may contain information from third parties. The inclusion of such information does not imply an affiliation with the bank or bank sponsorship, endorsement, or verification regarding the third party or information.

Source: discover.com

Apache is functioning normally

Purchasing a home is a journey filled with complexities and legalities. The process that can seem bewildering, particularly for first-time homebuyers. Among the many terms you’ll encounter in your home buying process, “escrow” is one that plays a pivotal role but is frequently misunderstood.

To understand the home buying process fully, and to ensure you’re well-equipped for this significant financial decision, it’s vital to grasp the concept of escrow. This guide aims to help you understand escrow, explaining its role in real estate transactions, the purpose of escrow accounts, and the pros and cons of this system.

Key Takeaways

  • Escrow is a financial arrangement where a neutral third party holds funds until the buyer and seller fulfill their obligations, providing security and neutrality during real estate transactions.
  • The escrow process includes steps like signing the agreement, depositing earnest money, obtaining mortgage approval, coordinating closing costs, and transferring the property title.
  • Escrow accounts offer benefits like financial protection and managing taxes but add complexity and extra costs. Be aware of potential escrow fraud by verifying companies and consulting professionals.

What Is Escrow?

At its core, escrow serves as a neutral third party in various types of transactions, most commonly in real estate. It’s a financial arrangement where a third party, the escrow agent, holds and regulates payment of the funds required for two parties involved in a given transaction.

This process ensures the transaction is carried out smoothly and everyone fulfills their obligations before the transfer of ownership occurs. Whether it’s earnest money from buyers, the deed from sellers, or the paperwork in between, escrow plays a critical role in safeguarding assets during the transaction period. It’s like a financial safety net, protecting both the buyer and seller from potential complications.

How Does the Escrow Process Work?

The escrow process can feel like a whirlwind of paperwork, signatures, and deadlines. But when broken down into a series of steps, it’s a structured system designed to safeguard all parties involved in a real estate transaction. Let’s take a closer look at each phase of the escrow process:

Step 1: Agreement Signing

The escrow process starts when both the buyer and seller come to a mutual understanding and sign a purchase agreement. This agreement outlines the terms of the transaction, including the purchase price, any contingencies, and the closing date.

Step 2: Earnest Money Deposit

The buyer then makes an earnest money deposit, demonstrating their commitment to the transaction. This earnest money is placed into an escrow account, providing security until the final closing day of the home purchase.

Step 3: Mortgage Approval Process

Meanwhile, the buyer works with their mortgage lender to secure a mortgage loan for the remaining purchase price. This process includes credit checks, income verification, and property appraisal.

Step 4: Escrow Agent Coordination

The escrow agent coordinates various administrative tasks. They ensure all necessary documents are signed, and that the mortgage lender releases funds to cover the purchase price, less the buyer’s deposit.

Step 5: Managing Closing Costs

The escrow agent also manages the payment of closing costs. These costs can include real estate agent commissions, title insurance, property tax liens, and the fees for the escrow services.

Step 6: Conclusion of Escrow

Once all paperwork is finalized, funds have been disbursed, and all conditions met, the escrow process concludes. The title of the property is then transferred to the buyer.

What Is an Escrow Account?

Escrow accounts are secure, temporary homes for funds during a transaction. Let’s look at how they work in the context of real estate.

Escrow Accounts During Home Purchase

During the purchase of a home, the buyer’s earnest money deposit is held in an escrow account until the sale closes. This account secures the down payment, releasing it only when all contractual obligations are met.

Mortgage Escrow Accounts

Many mortgage lenders set up a mortgage escrow account as part of the home loan process. This account accumulates a portion of the monthly mortgage payments, paying your yearly property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums when they’re due.

  • Monthly contributions: Each month, as part of your monthly mortgage payment, you contribute to your escrow account.
  • Payment of taxes and insurance: This account, in turn, pays your yearly property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums when they’re due.
  • Smooth out expenses: Mortgage escrow accounts help smooth out these significant expenses, breaking them down into manageable monthly payments.
  • Adjustments: The mortgage servicer can adjust your monthly escrow payment each year based on changes to property taxes or insurance premiums.
  • Ownership of funds: The funds within these accounts are still yours. If the property is sold, or the mortgage loan paid off, any funds remaining in the escrow account will be returned to you.

The Role of Escrow in Real Estate

In the world of real estate, escrow plays a significant part in ensuring all parties meet their obligations. An escrow company provides escrow services, managing the earnest money deposit and any agreed-upon funds until the sale is finalized.

The real estate agent often helps facilitate the setup of this escrow process, but ultimately, it’s the escrow company that guides the process, ensuring all contract conditions are met before the transfer of funds and property.

Who Manages an Escrow Account?

Managing an escrow account is typically a job for a neutral third party, such as an escrow agent or an escrow company. In the context of a mortgage, however, the task often falls to mortgage servicers. Let’s examine the role of each:

Escrow Agents and Companies

Escrow agents or escrow companies are neutral third parties that hold on to the funds and documents involved in a transaction until the deal’s conditions are met. In a real estate transaction, they handle tasks like facilitating the closing process, recording deeds, and disbursing funds.

It’s worth noting that sometimes, the escrow agent or company may also be the same as the title company. In such cases, this entity not only manages the escrow process but also oversees the title search, ensuring there are no issues with the property’s title before the sale is finalized. This consolidation of services can streamline the transaction, as you will be working with a single company throughout the process.

Mortgage Servicers

Mortgage servicers play a pivotal role in the lifespan of your mortgage, from closing until the day you pay off your loan. They are responsible for various tasks, including collecting your mortgage payments, maintaining the records of payments, and crucially, managing your escrow account.

Your mortgage servicer could be the same as your originating lender. However, this is not always the case, as sometimes lenders sell the servicing rights to your loan. Understanding whether your lender typically services their own loans can be beneficial, as not all mortgage servicers provide the same level of service, and some charge more fees than others.

With a mortgage servicer taking care of your escrow account, your involvement is minimal. You don’t have to send in your tax or insurance bills—your servicer ensures they know who to pay, and when.

The only exception is if you change insurance providers or policies. In such cases, you may need to provide the new policy information to your servicer.

The management of your escrow account, therefore, can fall to different parties depending on the nature of your transaction. Whether it’s an escrow agent, an escrow company, or your mortgage servicer, their role is essential in ensuring a secure, fair, and efficient process.

The Pros and Cons of an Escrow Account

Just as every coin has two sides, using an escrow account in a real estate transaction comes with both benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a look at the main pros and cons:

Pros of an Escrow Account

  • Protection: An escrow account adds a layer of protection for both parties involved in the transaction. It holds funds and documents securely until all terms of the transaction are met.
  • Financial management: Escrow accounts, especially mortgage escrows, can help homeowners manage their yearly property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums. They break down these large expenses into manageable monthly escrow payments, preventing any potential financial strain.
  • Neutral oversight: The escrow process ensures a neutral third party is involved to oversee the transaction, offering a fair and unbiased service to both the buyer and seller.

Cons of an Escrow Account

  • Complexity: Escrow accounts add an extra layer of complexity to transactions. For some buyers and sellers, particularly those experienced in real estate, this additional step might feel unnecessary.
  • Time-consuming: The process of setting up an escrow account, managing it, and closing it can be time-consuming. This is particularly the case in more complex real estate transactions, which may already involve a significant amount of paperwork.
  • Extra costs: While escrow accounts offer benefits, they come at a cost. Fees for escrow services are usually part of the closing costs paid at the end of the transaction. Buyers should factor these costs into their budget when planning their home purchase.

Escrow Fraud and How to Avoid It

The unfortunate reality is that even with systems designed for protection, there can be risks of fraud related to escrow accounts. Just as cybercriminals target banking systems, scammers can also target the escrow process. Let’s look at how you can steer clear of such threats.

Recognizing Escrow Fraud

In escrow fraud scenarios, scammers pose as legitimate escrow companies or agents, creating a false sense of security. They might set up sophisticated websites and provide convincing, yet fake, contact information. The goal? To trick buyers or sellers into handing over funds or sensitive information.

Tips to Avoid Escrow Fraud

With the right precautions, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of escrow fraud:

  • Do your homework: Don’t take an escrow company’s legitimacy at face value. Research the escrow service before engaging in any transaction.
  • Check licensing: A legitimate escrow company will be licensed in the state where it operates. You can typically verify licensing through the state’s Department of Insurance or Department of Financial Institutions.
  • Beware of unusual payment requests: Be cautious if an escrow service asks you to transfer funds to an individual or to an overseas account. Reputable escrow companies will not make such requests.
  • Secure communication: Ensure all communications happen through secure channels. Never share sensitive information via email.
  • Consult professionals: If in doubt, consult a real estate agent, attorney, or financial advisor. They can help validate the escrow company’s legitimacy.

Remember, vigilance and due diligence are your best defenses against escrow fraud. Always double-check before you send funds or personal information.

Conclusion

Understanding the escrow process can make a world of difference in your real estate transactions. It provides security, aids in financial management, and ensures smooth transitions for both buyers and sellers. Despite its complexities, the benefits of escrow are clear, offering a level of protection and neutrality that’s integral to the success of a transaction.

However, It’s essential to do your homework, ensure the legitimacy of your escrow service, and understand the full scope of your financial commitments.

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or an experienced real estate investor, a well-informed approach to escrow can help streamline your buying or selling process. As you move forward, remember to consult professionals and always make decisions in your best financial interest. Here’s to successful real estate transactions and secure, informed decisions. Happy home buying – or selling!

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to the money in the escrow account if the deal falls through?

If a real estate deal falls through, what happens to the money in the escrow account usually depends on the reason the deal didn’t close, and the stipulations outlined in the purchase agreement. Both the buyer and seller have certain contingencies that, if not met, could allow them to back out of the deal without forfeiting the earnest money deposit.

If these contingencies are not met and the buyer backs out, the earnest money is typically returned. If the buyer simply changes their mind or cannot secure financing, the seller may keep the earnest money.

Can you waive escrow?

In some cases, you may be able to waive escrow. This typically requires a significant down payment or a high level of equity in your home. However, waiving escrow means you’ll be responsible for paying your taxes and insurance premiums directly, which requires discipline to ensure these large bills are paid on time. Some lenders may also charge a fee for waiving escrow.

How long does the escrow process take?

The length of the escrow process can vary widely, but it typically takes 30 to 60 days for residential real estate transactions. This timeline can be affected by various factors, including loan underwriting times, inspections, and negotiations after inspections.

What types of transactions might use an escrow account?

While escrow accounts are commonly associated with real estate transactions, they can be used in many types of large transactions where the buyer and seller do not fully trust each other to fulfill their obligations. This can include the sale of expensive items like cars, boats, or art, and even online transactions for goods or services.

Are escrow accounts only used in real estate?

No, escrow accounts aren’t solely used for real estate transactions. They can be used in many types of contractual agreements where an impartial third party is needed to ensure the terms of the contract are fulfilled. This can include business acquisitions, online sales, and construction projects, to name a few.

E-commerce transactions can benefit from escrow, especially when they involve high-ticket items or international trade. The escrow process protects both the buyer and seller by holding the purchase price until the buyer receives the goods in the agreed condition.

How are escrow fees determined?

Escrow fees are typically based on the purchase price of the home and can vary widely by region and company. Some escrow companies charge a flat fee, while others charge a percentage of the home’s purchase price. Always ask for a breakdown of the fees and compare costs from different companies before making a decision.

Source: crediful.com

Apache is functioning normally

Fewer things are more comforting than a crackling fire on a chilly day, but what happens when your chimney needs a little TLC? Repairs generally cost between $160 to $750, with an average repair running around $455, according to HomeAdvisor. But the amount you end up paying will depend on several factors such as the type of repair needed, your chimney’s materials, and labor costs.

Even if you only light your fireplace for part of the year, you’ll want to fix any chimney problems as soon as you can. A damaged chimney could increase the risk of a fire or prevent toxic gasses from passing safely into the air outside.

Here’s a closer look at common chimney repair costs so you can plan accordingly.

Factors That Impact Chimney Repair Cost

If a chimney is well maintained, you can expect it to last for 50 to 100 years. Still, it’s a good idea to carve out space in your household budget for occasional maintenance and repairs. When you’re planning how to pay for the fixes, keep in mind that several different factors can impact your chimney repair costs.

Type of Repair

The type of repair can impact the overall cost of a project. For example, capping repair usually involves replacing the very top cap on your chimney. This type of project typically costs between $150 to $300, according to HomeAdvisor.

Another common repair is fixing the mortar and bricks in a chimney. The job might entail tuckpointing, which incorporates two different mortar colors to make the chimney look newer. Masonry chimney repair costs usually cost between $300 and $1,500, while prefab chimneys cost less because they have fewer components. The job typically costs between $250 and $1,200.

Lining repair involves fixing the chimney liner, which, when cracked, can pose a fire risk. Chimney liners cost between $625 to $7,000, with a national average of $2,500.

Recommended: What Are the Most Common Home Repair Costs?

Type of Chimney

Chimney types vary by material, and this can impact how much a repair costs. Four common types of chimneys include brick, stucco, metal, and prefabricated.

Depending on how much damage there is, brick chimneys cost $175 to $1,000 on average to repair, though you can expect to pay more for more significant work. If you’re fixing a metal and prefabricated chimney, plan on paying in the neighborhood of $200 to $1,200, depending on how extensive the damage is.

Have a stucco chimney? You’ll likely need to pay more to have it repaired. Projects typically run between $570 to $1,920, though bigger jobs can run as high as $4,200.

Labor

Professional chimney repairs usually cost between $50 and $200 per hour. That said, the more damage there is, the harder the damaged area is to reach, and the more time a project requires, the more you may end up paying in labor costs.
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Additional Costs

A repair may not be the only cost you encounter. Chances are, you might also pay for routine chimney inspections, chimney cleaning, ongoing maintenance, and permits.

Chimney Inspection

Whether you’re buying a fixer upper or renovating your current home, you should plan on having your chimney inspected by a professional once a year. The condition a chimney is in determines the type of inspection it needs. There are three levels of inspection:

•   Level one inspection: A level one inspection is an annual routine inspection and typically costs between $100 and $950.

•   Level two inspection: A level two inspection goes a step further to include a more extensive investigation into potential structural issues caused by recent damage. It costs between $200 and $1,000.

•   Level three inspection: A level three inspection looks at every part of a chimney, inside and outside, which may require taking out walls or portions of the chimney. It costs between $500 and $5,000.

Chimney Cleaning

Cleaning a chimney typically runs between $120 and $390, or an average of $250. If your chimney has not been maintained well, there may be heavy creosote buildup or other damage. This could lead to a higher clean-up bill of up to $5,000.

Ongoing Chimney Maintenance

All chimneys need regular maintenance. Depending on the type of upkeep required, you may pay for a simple cleaning (an average cost of $250). But if a chimney repair contractor finds that your chimney restoration needs more attention, you could pay more.

Permits and Related Fees

Once you find a contractor and finalize your plans, work can begin. Keep in mind that before constructing or changing the outside dimensions of a structure, your contractor will need to secure a building permit. A building permit generally costs $50 to $300 for small jobs.

Types of Chimney Repairs

From the crown to the flashing, we’ll look at the various parts of the chimney and what it might cost to fix each one.

Stack Repair

The chimney stack is the part of the chimney that appears above the roof. Chunks of missing masonry, crumbling brickwork, and visible cracks can signal that your chimney stack needs to be repaired.

Mortar Repair

Mortar acts as a buffer between the bricks in a chimney. But that buffer can crack and deteriorate from movement and pressure, so pay attention to how your mortar looks from year to year.

Repair could involve repointing and/or tuckpointing. Repointing means removing and replacing damaged mortar joints, while tuckpointing uses two different colors of mortar to make the mortar joints look different.

Crown Repair

The crown is the top part of the chimney and prevents rainwater from getting into your chimney. Typically made of concrete, the crown should be checked for visible cracks, deterioration, wall damage, and pooling water.

Cap Repair

Chimney caps, usually made of steel or copper mesh, sit on the crown at the very top of the chimney. The cap covers the flue, or the duct that allows smoke to leave the chimney. Caps also keep rainwater, animals, and debris from entering the chimney. Missing tops, rusted screens, creosote accumulation, and screen holes can all indicate that your chimney cap needs attention.

Foundation Repair

Chimneys often have their own foundations, but they sometimes settle. This could allow moisture, critters, and other items to enter your home. Look for a crumbling foundation, which might also present fire hazards and falling bricks and mortar.

Liner Repair

A chimney liner, or flue liner, is the vertical passage located inside your chimney that carries fumes to the outdoors. Similar to an exhaust pipe, the flue keeps wasteful gasses from spreading into your chimney cavity.

There are some signs that yours may need a replacement, including finding broken shards and flakes of parts of your chimney and smoke in your home. It’s a good idea to consider replacing your chimney liner if it’s older. Less-expensive models should last up to five years, while a well-constructed liner can usually be counted on for up to 20 years.

Wood Rot Repair

Wood rot can compromise your home’s structural integrity and affect any part of the chimney that has wood in it: the crown, cap, or flue liner. Indications of wood rot might include discoloration or staining, a musty smell, cracks in the wood, and evidence of pests.

Smoke Chamber Repair

The smoke chamber refers to the part of the chimney located just above the damper and connects the firebox to the flue. It guides smoke from a fire up into the flue and out of your home. Since many smoke chambers contain steps, gaps, and holes, they can contain flammable creosote and soot buildup.

Flashing Repair

The flashing of a chimney joins the roof to the chimney and is made of aluminum, steel, copper, vinyl, or PVC. The flashing should last 30 years. But if there’s damage, you could end up with leaks in the roof due to rusting and corrosion, animals, loose caulk and gaps, and wear and tear.

Flue Repair

A flue is any open, vertical part of the chimney that lets smoke escape. (Don’t confuse this with the chimney liner, which lines the flue.) Signs the flue needs attention may include broken shards and flaking and smoke in your home.

Cricket Repair

A chimney cricket, also called a roof cricket, sits behind your chimney and looks like a tiny peaked roof. It juts off the main roof and sits directly against the backside of the chimney to divert water from the masonry. Water stains on the ceilings or walls, rafters near a chimney or damaged mortar and bricks or rotten wood can identify whether the chimney cricket is working or not — or if you need a chimney cricket and don’t have one. (Tip: Chimneys that are 30 inches or larger need a cricket.)

Brick Replacement

Brick replacement may involve replacing just a few bricks — or redoing the entire chimney. Note that if the bricks are in areas that are hard to reach, a professional may charge more for the job.

Siding Repair

If you have a chimney made of siding, it can be at risk for rotting, swelling, and deterioration. Even if it looks good from the ground, a “diseased” chimney could be rotten and cause water to enter your home through the roof or ceiling.

Repairing vs Replacing a Chimney

The extent of your chimney’s damage determines whether you should have it replaced or simply repaired. However, there are some clear signs that indicate you may need to completely replace your chimney:

•   Large cracks in the bricks

•   White streaks on the bricks

•   Spalling bricks (bricks falling down)

•   Tilting

Even if some of those indications are present, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional to know exactly what to do next about your fireplace chimney repair.

Signs You Need a Chimney Repair

Indications you need a chimney repair include cracks that appear, smoke blowback, leaks, leaning, or spalling bricks. Let’s walk through what these might mean.

Cracks

Cracks in the chimney’s masonry can signal that it needs attention. Cracks can lead to gas seeping into your home, which can increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Excess moisture, earthquakes, or other weather events; hail; acidic decay; wind; and hot or cold temperatures usually cause cracks to appear.

Smoke Blowback

Smoke blowback creates a safety and health hazard. Not only could your house sustain a fire, but you could also face carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and other pollutants in your home. There are several causes for smoke blowback, including a blockage in the chimney or even a home that’s too well insulated.

Leaks

Chimney leaks are a common problem. When your chimney drips water or you see moisture in the fireplace or surrounding walls, you may also see attic and wall damage. The chimney itself may have a leak, or the roof may leak. For example, the chimney cap or crown may be damaged, bricks or mortar may have issues, the flashing may not be working properly, or condensation may have built up in the chimney.

Leaning

Exposure to all sorts of weather can cause the mortar joints in a chimney to decay. This causes bricks to loosen and the chimney to lean. Other reasons for leaning include a lack of footings and shifting soil. A leaning chimney doesn’t just look bad — it can also pose a safety risk and may even collapse.

Spalling Bricks

Spalling brick refers to bricks that flake, pit, or crumble and fall away from the masonry. Small cracks usually start and grow larger until the brick completely deteriorates. Improper mortar, weather, improper insulation, non-breathable masonry sealants, cleaning with a pressure washer, and impact to the bricks can all cause spall. Spalling poses a safety risk — there’s a possibility the structure collapses and damages the rest of the roof.

Shaling Tiles

Have you noticed pieces of flue tiles accumulating at the bottom of your chimney? This may be the result of shaling, which is a sign that your flue tiling is damaged. A professional can use special equipment to confirm whether there’s an issue, identify the problem spot,and offer potential solutions.
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Can I Repair My Chimney Myself?

Depending on the issue, fixing a chimney can take a big bite out of a homeowner’s budget, but there are several ways to finance the cost of chimney repair. For instance, you may decide to dip into emergency savings, use a credit card, take out a personal loan, or turn to your homeowners insurance.

Or, depending on your situation, it might make sense to explore a cash-out refinance, a home equity line of credit (HELOC), or consider emergency home repair financing options. As you make your decision, it’s a good idea to compare the interest rates and the pros and cons of each type of financing.

You may also be tempted to attempt to tackle the work yourself and save some money in the process. Though many home improvement projects may be appropriate for the DIY-er, chimney work is not one of them. You assume serious risks when completing a chimney repair yourself — the same kinds of risks you’d face repairing a roof. Even if you can overcome those risks, you’ll still have to know how to repair the chimney. And certain tasks, such as a complete chimney replacement, require advanced knowledge of the mechanics of a chimney.

Recommended: How to Pay for Emergency Home Repairs, So You Can Move on ASAP

The Takeaway

A well-maintained chimney is designed to last for decades, but that doesn’t mean it won’t require the occasional repair or maintenance. Repairs typically cost between $160 to $750, though that price depends on a range of factors, including the type of chimney you have, the work being done, and labor costs. But chimney upkeep is an important line item to include in the budget because there are potential safety risks involved when repairs aren’t made.

When it comes to financing chimney repairs, homeowners have several options, including homeowners insurance, dipping into an emergency fund, and taking out a personal loan.

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FAQ

When should I replace my chimney?

You may never need to replace your chimney as long as you live in your home, since chimneys can “live” up to 100 years. However, if you live in an old home or can see issues with your chimney, consult a chimney repair contractor, who can determine whether it needs to be replaced.

How often should I clean my chimney?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests having your chimney cleaned and inspected once per year by a chimney sweep. You should also have your chimney swept at least once per year. A professional can ensure that everything is in working order.

What qualifications should I look for in a chimney repair contractor?

Hiring a professional with the right credentials is important, so look for certifications by the National Fireplace Institute (NFI), Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), and Certified Chimney Professionals (CCP). Check a chimney repair contractor’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating. Ask for a portfolio and recommendations, and confirm that the company is insured.

How do I compare quotes from different chimney repair contractors?

Get several quotes from various contractors in your area and compare them apples to apples. The cheapest one may not be the best fit for the job. For example, one contractor may offer a more thorough repair than another for, say, brick chimney repair costs. Ask for a list of services and a detailed list of the costs involved before you decide on the contractor. It also doesn’t hurt to ask friends and neighbors for recommendations.

Are there any permits or inspections required for chimney repairs, and how much do they cost?

A building permit typically costs $50 to $300 for small jobs, though it may depend on where you live. Once you find a contractor, they should be able to answer your questions about the costs of a building permit.

Will my homeowner’s insurance cover the cost of chimney repairs?

If your home is damaged by a covered loss, your insurance will cover the cost of chimney repairs. For example, your insurance will likely provide coverage if lightning strikes your chimney and ruins the brick and mortar. However, if your chimney has been neglected and causes a fire in your living room, your homeowner’s insurance may not cover the damage. Ask your insurance carrier for more information about your specific situation.

How can I finance the cost of chimney repairs?

Consider a variety of different types of financing, from using your credit card to taking out a personal loan from a lender (such as your mortgage lender). Also consider emergency home repair financing options, a cash-out refinance or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Compare the interest rates, pros and cons of each type of financing, to determine which type of financing works best for you. For example, if you know you will have a repointing chimney cost on your hands, consult with at least five contractors and get prices, then ask your bank or credit union for more information about financing options.

Are there any tax breaks available for chimney repairs?

Generally, home repairs, such as fixing a broken chimney, are not tax deductible. However, a home improvement, such as adding a chimney to your house, may be tax deductible. Check with an accountant for more information.

How can I ensure my chimney repair project stays within budget?

Put together a budget so you know exactly how much you can afford to spend on your chimney repair. Keep in mind that the chimney repairs cost could run you between $160 to $750, with an average repair cost of $450, to fix your chimney. Chimney rebuild costs will likely cost the most. Check with an experienced contractor in your area to learn about your project’s costs, and be sure to get a list of costs ahead of time.

What are the risks of not repairing my chimney?

Leaving chimney issues unchecked can result in a number of safety hazards, including fatal fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other toxic chemicals. To help you spot and address problems early on, consider getting an annual inspection recommended by the NFPA. A professional chimney inspection could uncover a chimney repair problem you can’t see from your living room or from the ground.


Photo credit: iStock/arak7

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Source: sofi.com