Thursday, 31 January 2019 / Published in Finance, Home

Governor: California’s housing crisis is a threat to our state’s future.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced recently that the state of California is suing Huntington Beach for “standing in the way of affordable housing production and refusing to meet regional housing needs,” causing “harm to Californian families’ ability to find affordable places to live.”

According to the Governor, California has attempted for quite some time to work with Huntington Beach to comply with the proposed state housing law, but even after several attempts to convince the city to create affordable establishments, the city has refused to build more affordable housing.

The law emphasizes that a city’s housing plan must accommodate a “fair share of the regional housing needs and provide zoning that encourages the development of housing that is affordable to the city’s residents across all income levels, including affordable housing and middle-income housing.”

The issue at hand is Huntington Beach has altered its housing plan to drastically reduce the number of affordable housing.

According to the Governor, the state has attempted to work with the city to ensure that there are more affordable housing projects getting approved, therefore bringing the city of Huntington Beach into compliance with state law. However, the city council recently voted to reject a proposal to build more affordable housing in the city.

As a result, Governor Newsom was forced to take action and sue the city of Huntington Beach.

“The state doesn’t take this action lightly,” Newsom acknoledged. “The huge housing costs and sky-high rents are eroding quality of life for families across this state. California’s housing crisis is an existential threat to our state’s future and demands an urgent and comprehensive response.”

The state’s lawsuit against Huntington Beach “seeks to ensure housing equity, requiring the city to amend its housing plan to bring it into compliance with state law by planning for the development of additional housing units that are accessible to residents of all income levels,” Newsom’s office said.

“Cities and counties are important partners in addressing this housing crisis, and many cities are making herculean efforts to meet this crisis head on,” Newsom said. “But some cities are refusing to do their part to address this crisis and willfully stand in violation of California law. Those cities will be held to account.”

Reference: Ben Lane (2019) California sues one of its own cities for not building enough affordable housing

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 / Published in Finance, Home, Networking

As we enter the new year, uncertainty looms around interest rates and the housing market.

The stage was set in 2018 when the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate four times over the course of the year, leaving current homeowners and potential borrowers wondering:

When will interest rates and the housing market prices go back down?

Even though a slowdown is projected in the future, it doesn’t seem like interest rate hikes are going to alter course anytime soon. Currently, it is around 4.7 percent but many industry analysts expect the average rate to hit 5 percent in 2019. Danielle Hale,’s chief economist, claims the average 30-year mortgage will reach 5.3 percent for at least the better part of the year and even reach 5.5 percent by the end of 2019.

Mortgage rates increased almost a full percentage point over the course of last year, leading experts to believe this year should be a little more consistent in regards to the fluctuating interest rates.

What does this mean for home equity borrowers?

Borrowers with outstanding balances should be prepared to spend more the longer they wait to refinance or take cash-out. Obviously, if you have a fixed-rate mortgage this will not affect you much, but if you have an adjustable-rate mortgage then you should prepare for your interest rate to go up.

For more information on how you can prevent your interest rate from going up on your current adjustable-rate mortgage, click here to refinance or call us at 855-982-3321 to have one of our experienced mortgage bankers assist you with refinancing to a fixed-rate mortgage loan.

What can we expect from the housing market this year?

Housing prices have skyrocketed in recent years, adding to the frustrations of many Americans looking to purchase a home. Although home prices increased about 5 percent in 2018, Freddy Mac predicts that home prices will still increase, just at a slower pace. We can possibly expect an increase of about 4.3 percent in 2019 and then 2.9 percent in 2020.

What does this all mean?

Real estate will always fluctuate based on the surrounding area. Housing prices may go up or down depending on availability and demand. Having said that, the market increase should slow down in 2019. If you are in the market to by a home, before you go searching for the perfect property, meet with a mortgage lender to get pre-approved so that you may be in a position to submit an offer with confidence knowing you can afford it. USAloans is fully prepared to help fulfill your dream of home ownership, click here to discover what you can afford online or call us at 855-982-3321 to have one of our experienced mortgage bankers assist you through the process.

Monday, 01 May 2017 / Published in Home

Your neighborhood could play a factor in your overall health. Here are some considerations to make during your house hunt.

From green space to traffic volume, the neighborhood in which you live could contribute to your health. Think about it: If your neighborhood lacks easily accessible areas for you to exercise, you’ll probably exercise less, at least outdoors. Just as the addition of playgrounds gives children a place to play, sidewalks, for example, can encourage you to get out and walk. And when you do spend time outside in your neighborhood, you’re more likely to get to know your neighbors, which adds to a feeling of community. So whether you’re shopping for a home for sale in Denver, CO, or Columbia, SC, here are some factors to weigh if a healthy neighborhood tops your list of must-haves.

1. Look for sidewalks and bike lanes
Being able to walk or bike for exercise or to conduct daily errands is good for you — plus, less traffic and air pollution means a healthier planet too. Even having access to public transportation can contribute to a healthy lifestyle, since there’s usually some walking to get to your bus stop or train station. “Safety and walkability to a vibrant mix of services, schools, and various modes of travel are keys,” says John Zinner, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Fellow with the U.S. Green Building Council.

2. Don’t underestimate a lush tree canopy
New developments often produce houses that dot every “i” and cross every “t” on most people’s home wish lists. But some new neighborhoods and developments end up with a sparse tree canopy. That’s too bad, because not only do trees often enhance property values, but they can also contribute to a healthy neighborhood. “Tree canopies cool spaces,” says Cassy Aoyagi, president of FormLA Landscaping, a California sustainable-landscaping firm. A cooler lot means your HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard in the heat of summer. Those trees can also provide shade for your outdoor pursuits. But the best part just might be that greenery in general is good for you. “Lush, green spaces have been shown to decrease stress, even mitigating symptoms of PTSD and ADHD,” Aoyagi says.

3. Look for neighborhoods with greenways, community gardens, and trails
The more access you have to nature — and nature’s bounty — the healthier you’ll probably be. “Locating a healthy neighborhood has increasingly become a must-have for many buyers,” says Danielle Schlesier, a Boston, MA, agent. “I point [buyers] toward the community parks-and-recreation website. There, they can see if there are local farmers markets, community fitness programs, greenway trail maps, and dog parks available.” Another great tool to locate your favorite healthy amenities is the Live Well layer in Trulia Maps.

4. Observe neighborhood social connections and activity level
Having a sense of security and even happiness comes with being able to socialize with your neighbors. Visit the neighborhood you’re considering at various times of day to see if people are out and about. Are neighbors chatting out front? Jogging on neighborhood streets? Out walking their dogs or playing with the kids? All of these are positive signs that a neighborhood has a thriving, active, and close-knit community.

5. Scout out parks, sports courts, and places to play
The healthiest neighborhoods offer variety and versatility when it comes to recreation and active living. In addition to nature exploration resources like trails and greenways, look for neighborhoods that offer tennis or basketball courts, playgrounds, parks, fitness centers, and pools. You may have to pay for these extra amenities through homeowners’ association (HOA) fees, membership requirements, or simply higher home prices, but the ability to easily diversify your workouts can lead to greater health and fitness.

6. Go to a neighborhood association meeting
Mark your calendar for the next meeting of the neighborhood association or HOA in the areas you’re considering. In addition to meeting your potential neighbors, you could get an inside look at neighborhood concerns (such as safety issues or traffic congestion) and find out about future construction or plans for enhancements. You’ll also get a sense of how close-knit the community is. An active, positive group of neighbors working to continually improve their neighborhood can clue you in on future healthy upgrades coming to a neighborhood. Plus, if you’re trying to narrow down your options, going to a few of these meetings could help you decide where you’ll really feel at home.

7. Consider traffic volume
Limited traffic, both in volume and speed, can contribute to a healthy neighborhood. But what makes high traffic unhealthy, exactly? Noise, for one. The more traffic there is and the faster cars travel, the noisier the environment, which can affect your sleep and stress levels. There’s that pesky little pollution issue, for another. Plus, longer commutes due to higher traffic volumes can decrease your overall quality of life. Check what your possible commute could look like using the Commute layer in Trulia Maps.

8. Check to see if healthy essentials are within walking distance
Healthy neighborhoods incorporate plenty of ways to be active, but they also have essential services nearby, such as day care centers, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, a hospital, and urgent care. Easy access to affordable, nutritious food from supermarkets or farmers markets is important too — it’s even been associated with less obesity. And give your future new neighborhood bonus points if any of these essentials are within walking distance!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 / Published in Finance

Put these tips to work and get a healthier bank account — starting today.

If someone were to take a hefty amount from your bank account, you’d most likely notice, especially if a transaction was declined or a payment bounced. But how quickly would you notice if a small amount were being removed, say $5 or $10, every month?

Most of us have a general idea of how much money is in our accounts, but we pay little attention to each expenditure — especially if your bills for that apartment in Raleigh, NC, are set on autopay. So while the ship may still be afloat, small money leaks could end up wreaking havoc below the surface. Here are a few unexpected ways you might be siphoning cash — and how to manage your money and plug those leaks.

Five Unexpected Money Leaks

1. Food waste. Ask the average American where they overspend and chances are they’ll mention food, both at restaurants and the grocery store. Yet while you may shovel a large portion of your budget toward this expense, there is probably a large amount of waste as well. A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that Americans waste 40% of their food purchases — which equates to an average of $2,000 per year, per household. Meal planning and resisting the urge to buy in bulk can do wonders when it comes to cutting down on excess spending and combating this socially-prevalent money leak.

2. Bank Fees. Banks have found plenty of ways to cash in on fees, and many act as cash parasites on your accounts. Case in point: overdraft fees. Before 2010, many banks automatically equipped accounts with overdraft protection, resulting in an average charge of about $35 for each transaction that put a customer in the red.
However, after enactment of the Overdraft Protection Law, banks were required to get customers to opt in to receive the “protection.” A 2014 study conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that opted-in customers paid seven times more in overdraft and nonsufficient-funds fees than those who hadn’t opted in.
If you’re paying a monthly fee simply to access your funds or for services you don’t need, it’s time to re-evaluate how you bank and whom you bank with.

3. Energy Hogs. Energy costs typically vary throughout the year. But the change in price isn’t always a direct reflection of the weather. It can also display the energy-saving efforts you have or haven’t taken at home. Programmable thermostats, for example, create a contented environment when it matters most — when you’re actually at home. During the winter, thermal curtains or draft stoppers can keep the hot air inside, and closing your shades during the summer will keep things cool. If your heat or air conditioning is overworking during the hours you’re away, you could be wasting hundreds of dollars each year. Other overlooked energy suckers that could be breaking the bank slowly, are outdated appliances and incandescent light bulbs.

4. Subscriptions and memberships. Subscription services are easy to sign up for, but most of us aren’t as quick to put a stop to them when they’re no longer useful — probably because a $10 monthly charge isn’t a noticeable enough hit to our checking accounts. But if you’ve signed up for more than one of these services, whether it’s getting razors in the mail or a cooking magazine you never crack open, those small fees can quickly add up. Take a moment to audit your subscriptions and say goodbye to the ones you no longer use.
Another potential money drain is a gym membership. If you joined with the January crowd but didn’t stick to your gym routine, it may be time to look into the financial benefits of canceling your membership and searching for apartments with fitness centers or even investing with an upfront, one-time fee for a workout application.
5. Price Creep. Cable and internet providers are frequent culprits of “price creep.” New-customer pricing eventually expires and sometimes fees get attached incorrectly. If you aren’t paying attention, you could be paying far beyond your budgeted amount.
Just remember: every little bit helps! With a little planning and some thoughtful decision making, your bank account could become much healthier. Just put these tips to work and plug up those money leaks.

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