Scam alert: Important info regarding my mortgage?

Image result for mortgage scam postcards

Mysterious postcards are showing up in mailboxes all over the country and they’ve started hitting home. This “time-sensitive” matter has many of us scratching our heads and saying, “huh?” Well, guess what? They’re 100%, for sure, mortgage scams.

So, what the heck are they?

Let’s address the elephant in the room and put to rest that these did NOT come from Wauna Credit Union — in fact, they did not originate from any financial institution. Recipients are urged to contact a toll-free number (after doing some digging, these postcards have listed 855-901-9227, 800-230-8750, 888-405-0963, and 855-549-212) regarding a recently closed WCU mortgage.

Where are they coming from?

Whether or not you have indeed recently closed on a WCU mortgage (congratulations if you have!) companies from all over the world have the ability to purchase your information if it has been publicly listed (sometimes even if it hasn’t been!) But your first giveaway should be that the Mortgage ID number provided is bogus.

Often times, scammers will pull what’s called the “phantom help” maneuver, where they’ll encourage you to reduce or even stop your mortgage payments while they work to lessen your costs (for a moderate fee, of course). Unfortunately, by the time you realize you’re being taken advantage of, the phantom helper is long gone.

If you look reeeeeeally closely in the bottom right-hand corner of the examples we’ve provided, you’ll see a “All information provided by H.W.C.” and a “Not affiliated with…” disclosure. Problem is you can grow old searching for information about H.W.C. and come back with nothing solid. We’ve also seen loandepot.com, Heritage Warranty Company, and Mortgage Protection Services, only none of these are legitimate businesses.

Conduct a quick online search for “Mortgage Protection Services” and you’ll find they have an ‘F’ rating with Better Business Bureau, hundreds of thousands of complaints on Ripoff Report, and even have Cease and Desist orders from several states, including Illinois and Massachusetts.

We called the number!

Image result for mortgage scam postcardsDarn right we called the number. In fact, we tried all the numbers we were able to find. Some connect to a live person, others are recordings, and one dialed directly to an automated system. Regardless of which number, we were eventually probed for personal information. Funny enough, these fraudsters refuse to give out any information about themselves, or even the actual company they are working with.

To be clear: Wauna Credit Union will NEVER ask for your social security number, passwords, or other sensitive information via postcard or over the phone.

So, how do I protect myself against these postcards?

It never feels good to be the target of a scam, but unfortunately it happens to us all. Should one of these end up in your mailbox, recycle it. Do not call the number. Do not play their games. Toss it and forget it. Remember, Wauna Credit Union will not send you notifications like this. If you are ever uncertain, contact us right away.

Onto protecting you from the next scam!

Saying “I Do” to Homeownership: How to Prepare for This Big Commitment

Buying a home is a major commitment. It’s a bit like, well, getting married. You’ve got to be ready and you have to find the right “one.” And, like a marriage, homeownership is a dynamic experience that requires a tremendous amount of care and attention. If you are ready to shift from renter to buyer, you’ve got some legwork to do.

Here’s how to prepare:

Credit matters
Quite simply, the past can either haunt or help you. If your debt-to-income ratio is too high, financial institutions will likely be wary of extending you another loan. If you have had problems repaying past obligations, a lender will have trouble trusting that you will pay your mortgage on time.

You can increase your FICO score (a credit scoring model that helps lenders assess risk) by reducing debt, making timely payments, not shopping aggressively for credit, having a variety of credit instruments, and keeping at least one credit card for a long period of time. Make significant improvements in as few as six months.

Understand what you can afford
Most lenders require that total housing costs not exceed 28% of gross monthly income, and total debt payments per month (including the mortgage) not surpass 36%. In real terms, this means that if you owe no consumer debt and have a household income of $75,000, then $1,750 in housing costs is within your range.

Accumulate cash
If you don’t have at least some cash in your coffer, start a savings plan now. How much you will need depends on many factors, including the home price and how much you will put as a down payment. Closing costs, points, moving expenses, and a post-purchase reserve fund of two to three months worth of housing payments can add up to many thousands of dollars.

Once you own your home, you may eventually want a bigger or better living space. Rather than purchase a new residence, first consider remodeling. You can add rooms and customize your home to meet your needs and desires without having to move. Yet while remodeling can be wise, it can also be stressful and expensive. Be careful when hiring someone to do the work for you. A contractor you hire should:

  • Have a licence
  • Carry general liability insurance
  • Carry workers’ compensation insurance
  • Provide you with a written waiver at the end of the job
  • Guarantee work for at least one year from date of completion
  • Provide you with references
  • Be financially sound, so won’t declare bankruptcy in the middle of your project
  • Can provide proof that he or she has completed similar projects
  • Ensure that the price includes removal of all job debris and full clean up

So how are you going to pay for those fabulous improvements? There are three basic options: cash, refinancing, and using home equity.

  • Cash: If the job is small or short term, paying with cash is often the best method. A nice advantage of using savings is that you won’t have to repay a loan for the work that is done. When using cash, be sure to pay in agreed-upon increments.
  • Refinancing: Swapping a higher interest mortgage for a lower interest one can free up money for the project. You can refinance your existing mortgage and take all or part of your current equity in cash. Keep in mind though, that it will only be cost effective if you plan on remaining in the home long enough to recoup the closing costs and other fees associated with refinancing.
  • Home equity: Using home equity can be a great way to make major improvements – and get a tax benefit of interest deduction at the same time. To tap into your home’s equity, you can get a conventional second mortgage, a home equity loan, or a home equity line of credit. Second mortgages and home equity loans are best for large, long-term projects that require lump sum payments. Home equity lines are good for short-term projects or those requiring incremental payments.

Finally, remember that at home is not only where the heart is—it is also where the money is. You can get the most from your relationship with real estate by giving it the time and attention it requires, just like a marriage.

Visit our Real Estate Loans and Mortgage page to learn more about how you can get started today.

Provided by Balance.

April Statement Insert – Strong Mortgages, Ubiquitous Banking, Youth Month

 

Strong Mortgages From Wauna Credit Union #WaunaStrong First-Time Buyer Second Mortgage Investment Property Bare Land & Construction Loans We have the Mortgage you need! Plus, take advantage of our Spring Special for a Home Equity Line Of Credit (HELOC) Apply, day or night, even on the weekends, by phone or online: 800-773-3236 waunafcu.org

Strong Mortgages
From Wauna Credit Union
First-Time Buyer
Second Mortgage
Investment Property
Bare Land & Construction Loans
We have the Mortgage you need!
Plus, take advantage of ourSpring Special for a
Home Equity Line Of Credit(HELOC)
Apply, day or night, even on the
weekends, by phone or online:
800-773-3236
waunafcu.org

April is Credit Union Youth Month! Open a Youth Account or make a deposit in an existing Jump Start or Youth Account & be entered to win $$ prizes. Plus, cool freebies for kids & teens all month long! Get Ready! For A Better Experience! For Convenience! For the Future now! Ubiquitous Banking coming this May!

April is Credit Union Youth Month!
Open a Youth Account or make a deposit in an existing Jump Start or Youth Account& be entered to win $$ prizes.
Plus, cool freebies for kids & teens all month long!

Ubiquitous Banking coming this May!
Get Ready!
For A Better Experience!
For Convenience!
For the Future now!

How do the new tax laws affect mortgages?

You may have heard about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was signed into law at the end of December. This major legislation affects many things. If you want to learn more about how it affects you, please reach out to a certified tax professional.

Wauna Credit Union CXO John Moore
John knows that changes in the tax law can change how people deal with their finances.

The Wonderful World of Wauna decided to dig a little deeper. So, we sat down with our CXO John Moore, who has 23-years of experience in finance, which includes overseeing Wauna Credit Union’s mortgage and lending teams, to talk about how the new laws impact mortgages.

Please note, this blog should not replace advice from a certified tax advisor.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
My pleasure. It’s great to talk to somebody who’s beard is almost as magnificent as mine.

Can you give an overview of how the new laws change things?
In general the law lowers the limits related to mortgage deductions. In short if you own expensive real estate you may not get the deductions you used to. The main changes:

  • The maximum mortgage debt homeowners can deduct was decreased from $1 million to $750,000. Although those with existing loans are grandfathered in
  • The law eliminates tax deductibility for interest paid on home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs)
  • The deduction for property taxes is now limited to $10,000

How does this change things for mortgages?
The thing it really does is make first mortgages much more appealing. Since the interest in first mortgages is still deductible, and because the rates on first mortgages are almost always lower than equity loans and lines, we expect to see more of our members looking at refinancing.

What about members who want to do home improvement, or previously used home equity loans and HELOCs to finance other things, like education and paying down high-interest debt?
First mortgages can be great for that as well. Since Oregon and SW Washington have seen a dramatic rise in home values, most of our members have a lot of equity in their homes. Those who have a big expense can take care of it with a cash out first mortgage for any home improvement or debt consolidation.

Does this make second mortgages less appealing?
Not necessarily, even though non-housing interest is no longer deductible on equity loans, they still are very useful. First of all, the rates on equity loans tend to be lower than non-secured loans, which means you are still stretching your money further. In addition, just having an equity line handy in case of emergencies can provide tremendous peace of mind.

Any final things you’d like us to know?
Han shot first.

Thanks John for taking the time to speak with us. If you have any questions about mortgages WCU has experts in every branch who are happy to help you with your existing mortgage, or get you on the road to home ownership, and phone consultants available 24/7 at 800-773-3236. 

What Are The Cocoa Nights Of Winter?

Wauna Credit Union is offering great loans, collectible mugs, and even cocoa to warm you up!

These are the Cocoa Nights of Winter! But, what are “Cocoa Nights”? Much like the Dog Days of summer when the high temperatures seem way more oppressive that they were in June and July, these final nights of winter, though often warmer than the evenings of December and January somehow seem colder. Have you noticed this?Cocoa nights of winter image

In homes all over the Northwest, people keep turning the thermostat up in the evenings, even though it’s actually in the 40s most nights now, and despite the fact that some rhododendrons are already blooming. For some reason, the cold seems so much colder. No one is quite sure why this happens at the end of winter and the end of summer, but it does. Perhaps it is our bodies preparing for the warmer or cooler temperatures ahead, much like our dogs’ shedding?

Maybe it’s our homes? Do you have old, drafty windows? A furnace that needs a repair? Do you need a new roof, or perhaps a new house altogether? Maybe it’s just time for a refi? After all, a better rate or lower monthly payment will help warm anyone up!The cocoa nights of winter mugs

From now until the end of winter (or while supplies last), everyone who gets a new Home Loan, Refinance, or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) from Wauna Credit Union will receive a pair of beautiful, limited edition, 3-color print mugs and cocoa!

Sitting around the fireplace, or in front of the television or computer, with a beautiful mug full of warm chocolatey goodness is guaranteed to make everyone’s night better, and keep us warm until spring officially arrives! Come in today – before all the mugs and cocoa are gone!

Come in to any Wauna CU branch, apply online, or by phone, and take advantage of this offer.

https://waunafcu.org/loans/home.shtml

Get a pair of Limited Edition, 3-color Wauna Credit Union mugs and cocoa with any Home Loan, or home related loan – Now until Spring! While supplies last.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Held at Mortgage Origination Office

LONG BEACH, WA – Wauna Credit Union (WCU) officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Mortgage Origination Office (MOO) at 910 Pacific Avenue in Long Beach, Washington on January 18, 2017. The office opened on November 15th, 2016 and has one employee, Jeff Parker, who serves as the Real Estate Relationship Officer.

Long Beach and Wauna CU dignitaries celebrate the opening of the MOO.  (from L to R) Debi Smiley, WCU Chief Marketing Officer, Monica Lauber WCU VP Mortgage, Steven Linhart, Long Beach City Councilor and Mayor Pro-tem, Jeff Parker, WCU Real Estate Relationship Officer, Robert Blumberg, WCU CEO and President, Natalie Hanson, Long Beach City Councilor, McKenzie Wilson, WCU Real Estate Loan Officer, Paige Tischer, WCU Real Estate Loan Officer
Long Beach and Wauna CU dignitaries celebrate the opening of the MOO.
(from L to R) Debi Smiley, WCU Chief Marketing Officer, Monica Lauber WCU VP Mortgage, Steven Linhart, Long Beach City Councilor and Mayor Pro-tem, Jeff Parker, WCU Real Estate Relationship Officer, Robert Blumberg, WCU CEO and President, Natalie Hanson, Long Beach City Councilor, McKenzie Wilson, WCU Real Estate Loan Officer, Paige Tischer, WCU Real Estate Loan Officer

The new office provides local, affordable Real Estate services to the Credit Union’s growing membership in Pacific County. All residents, businesses, and organizations throughout Pacific County are eligible for membership with Wauna Credit Union.

A new ATM machine was installed in December, 2016 at the MOO and is now fully operational. It is a CO-OP network ATM, which offers surcharge-free ATM access nationwide to participating credit union members.

The ATM machine is slated to become an Interactive Teller Machine (ITM) in mid, June of 2017. ITM’s are interactive, with a screen that connects to a Virtual Member Service Specialist person in the WCU Communications Center. The Communication Center Specialists can answer questions and assist members with their transactions.

WCU CEO and President Robert Blumberg talked about the new ITM at the Ribbon Cutting and explained, “This branch office is the branch of the future using a smaller footprint with more technology.” WCU embraces technology, offering online and mobile banking to all its members.

 

Meet Monica Lauber Vice President of Mortgage

Wauna has many talented and amazing people who work for us, including Monica Lauber who recently was promoted to the Vice President of our Mortgage Department. The Wonderful World Of Wauna caught up with Monica to talk about her time here, and find out more about what she does, and what motivates her.

How long have you been at Wauna? I’ve been at Wauna for 13 incredible years. I started in the Warrenton Branch as an MCR and moved over to the Lending Department in 2005.

What is your new position at WCU? I am the now the VP of Mortgage. I’ve been managing the Mortgage department since 2013, and have seen us grow to continue to meet the needs of our members.

What do you like most about your new job? There are so many things I like love about my job. I have an amazing team that I have built over the years. Most of which have been promoted from within. We all believe in Wauna’s mission and vision statements and strive to deliver positive experiences to our members every day. I look forward to continuing to build on that success for the department and the credit union as a whole. We are growing more and more every day!

What do you think makes Wauna Credit Union special? Our Leadership Team and Board of Directors listen to the needs of our members and the communities we serve. They allow me to create and structure products unlike a bank or mortgage broker. The mortgage industry changes every day,

Monica poses with her team at the Wauna CU Mortgage Origination Office groundbreaking last August. Cookies from Pink Poppy Bakery.

and I strive to be ahead of the game for the benefit of our membership. We are not for profit and we truly care about our membership and their financial well being.

What is your favorite memory of working with a member? You saved the best for last. However that’s a very tough question! I have had the pleasure of working in all of our branches over the years and I continue to travel them weekly.

There have been so many memories that I have gained over the years.

I’ve helped our members from buying their first home and then worked with them again to remodel that home to meet their growing needs. I look at each interaction with our members and strive for them to choose us for all their financial needs, not just for a mortgage..

We live by Wauna’s mission statement Wauna Credit Union will be the financial institution that members choose first, use the most, and grow with throughout their lives.  It is important for us to live by those words, because that gives us lots more membership memories. It’s what makes me love what I do, every day!

PRESS: Wauna CU Mortgage Department Featured in Coast River Business Journal

McKenzie-in-CRBJ

Faces Of Lending

McKenzie Wilson, Loan officer, Wauna Credit Union, Warrenton:

“I’ve been here since 2012. In August of 2015, I started doing the real estate financing.”

Monica Lauber, Assistant vice president of mortgage, Wauna Credit Union:

“I started at Wauna 12 years ago in the Warrenton branch and then moved into the loan department over in Astoria. Then made my way up to Saint Helens. Right now I’m the assistant vice president of the mortgage department. I oversee the staff at all the branches.”

What misconceptions exist about financing for a first home?

“A lot of younger people coming in think that the process — that they can’t do it. That it’s a super hard process to buy a house. I think that’s the misconception — that people think it’s impossible to buy a house sometimes. It’s really not, especially working with the credit union. We’re giving the guidance to get to that point, we’re not just saying ‘no’ and sending you back.”

How has lending evolved?

“I’ve definitely seen a change. I’ve been doing it since 2004, I went through the crisis, people rebuilding their credit. The best thing right now is we’re seeing people starting to regain equity in their homes, which is allowing them to improve their current housing situation.”

What advice would give a first-time borrower?

“Come prepared with a budget. And not more so a “this is a house I want to buy.” Think more toward, is that monthly payment going to fit into your budget. If fixes come about, am I going to be able to afford these fixes? I think that’s the biggest thing, just having all that in mind.”

What’s the typical down payment?

“We can do as little as little as three percent. Typically it’s about three to five percent. With more first-time homebuyers we don’t see a lot in the way of down payment money because there are programs that offer 100 percent financing. But we encourage it, the more they put down the better their rate is going to be.”

On best preparation, what do you take into account?

“We want to make sure that they’re credit worthy. We want to make sure that they’re aware of monthly costs and closing costs.”

What’s the sales frequency compared to last year?

“Our borrowers definitely have to be more on their game. They have to have a pre-approval in hand. Since homes are selling so quickly, those borrowers that have worked hard to prepare themselves with us are the ones making the offer, and it’s accepted because they know they have all their ducks in a row.”

Typical time a house is on the market?

“They’re definitely selling faster. Being prepared is huge.”

How does it compare to 10 years ago?

“Rates are extremely low right now.”

“Oh gosh, we were around 6-7 percent.”

Is there a typical mortgage rate?

“It varies depending on the program they’re doing. You have government program in the low 3-percent range, then you’ve got your conventionals that are higher 3’s — still great compared to what it’s been in years’ past.”

What’s the sales frequency compared to last year?

“Our borrowers definitely have to be more on their game. They have to have a pre-approval in hand. Since homes are selling so quickly, those borrowers that have worked hard to prepare themselves with us are the ones making the offer, and it’s accepted because they know they have all their ducks in a row.”