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Our Blog Puts YOU in the Driver’s Seat

Helping customers like you achieve their financial goals is all we do, which is why we’re arming you with our expert insight, tips, and advice to help you get there.

APM Elevate: November 2023

As we gather in gratitude for the year's journey, we reflect on the steadfast spirit that binds us together. In this month's newsletter, we aim to provide you with insightful updates on the ever-evolving landscape of the mortgage industry, ensuring you stay informed and empowered in your homeownership journey.

November Elevate-1

From market trends to juicy tidbits, we are dedicated to keeping you at the forefront of the latest developments. Thank you for being an integral part of our mortgage family, and we look forward to continuing this journey with you.


Bump Up Your 401(k) Contributions In 2024

Earlier this month, our friends at the IRS announced new, higher limits for employer-sponsored 401(k) accounts and several other plans. This means you can park up to $23,000 in your 401(k), 403(b), 457 or Fed's Thrift Savings Plan in 2024. Considering that your employer match doesn't count toward this contribution limit, this makes the new limit even more attractive.

If you're 50 or better, you can still make an additional, catch-up contribution of up to $7,500 next year on top of that $23,000 maximum, which adds up to $30,500.

If you have an IRA account, you can bump up these contributions to $7,000 next year, up $500 from this year's $6,500.

While the 2024 contribution limit for Roth IRAs will be the same ($7,000), there are new income caps for these. The 2024 limit will be $161,000 for single taxpayers, which is an increase from $153,000 in 2023.

More details of these savings and investment changes are available on the IRS website.

Source: money.com


Buy a Home with 1% Down With our 1% Home Program!

It's a tough market out there right now for people who are looking to buy a house. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or looking to move, the current mortgage rates and high home prices can be limiting. Many homebuyers are second-guessing whether now is the right time for them to buy.

But what if we told you that homeownership just got 2% easier?

Our new 1% down payment program, also known as the 1% Home program, is helping to address affordability issues. With 1% Home, buyers who fall below the area's median income can buy a house with 1% down and receive a 2% down payment assistance grant, with a maximum loan amount of $275,000. 

Let's dive into the details of this new program and learn how it can be a game-changer for homebuyers in today's real estate market.


Why IULs Are a Hot TikTok Topic

The 401(k) retirement plan has become the standard for private sector employees. However, a competitor is getting plenty of social media attention: indexed universal life insurance, or IUL. Here are some IUL basics and why it could be an addition to your retirement planning.

An indexed universal life insurance policy is permanent life insurance that provides cash value and a death benefit. Unlike a 401(k), you can access IUL funds before retirement, which is a big plus for savers who prefer the freedom of early withdrawals. You also have control over the stock and bond indexes that your IUL's cash value mirrors, such as the S&P 500. Your insurance company pays interest based on your chosen index's performance.

Some TikTok users are raving about IUL-linked stock market returns that could be around 10% annually, accelerating your cash value's growth. However, stock market returns are never easy to predict, and some IULs are capped at a lower percentage. Something else to keep in mind: if your 401(k) receives an employer match, you won't benefit from this with an IUL.

Other potential drawbacks of IULs are similar to other insurance policies. For example, if you withdraw from your cash value and the market has declined, it could potentially subtract from your death benefit. And if you run into a future cash flow challenge and allow your policy to lapse, you could lose your entire investment. Like any other insurance purchase, it's best to consult a professional before you open an IUL.

Source: nerdwallet.com


Why Your Next Home May Include An HOA

If you live in a condo or townhome, a homeowners' association (HOA) is probably part of the setup. This is because you and your neighbors make up a "common interest community", with all owners paying fees that finance shared amenities and common areas. However, as new construction continues to grow, it's become increasingly common for buyers of single-family homes to find themselves in an HOA-governed community.

Over 80% of new single-family homes built in 2022 are HOA-run, mainly because more local municipalities are making it mandatory for new construction. This is a money-saving move for municipalities, as it transfers the responsibilities (and costs!) of maintaining roads and sewer systems to the neighborhood's homeowners.

A common sales pitch for HOA-run communities is that this type of management will help preserve property values. For example, no resident will be allowed to park vehicles on their front lawn or let their home's exterior deteriorate. And an HOA-funded community may offer attractive amenities such as a golf course or combined gymnasium/swimming pool. But there are potential drawbacks to consider before buying into an HOA, including these:

All HOA members are required to pay monthly or annual fees. These may change with little notice. Also, an additional fee schedule may be levied if the community requires expensive repairs, such as sewer replacement or road repaving.

Any dispute between a homeowner and their HOA will probably require attorneys. This is because city and municipal governments have no power to control an HOA's board, changes in rules, or the fees charged to its members. The only way to settle disputes is with a civil court case.

With these possible drawbacks in mind, it's recommended that any potential buyers research the HOA's fees and regulations — and ask to be a guest at an HOA board meeting, if possible — before making an offer on a home.

Source: cnbc.com


Your Black Friday/Cyber Monday Shopping Guide

If you're thinking that the holiday season begins earlier every year, you're not alone. Big box retailers like Target and Walmart introduced early Black Friday sales last month. But if you're waiting for the real thing — November 24th Black Friday or Cyber Monday — it's time to start planning. Here are some recommendations from shopping experts.

Tune in on TVs. Look for discounts on televisions, laptops, wireless headphones and soundbars.

Postpone buying toys if possible. There may be deals on Black Friday, but if retailers' sales are down, they'll slash toy prices further in December.

Check out small kitchen appliances. Prices on popular items like air fryers, KitchenAid mixers and Nespresso coffee machines were at their lowest last Cyber Monday.

Consider sporting goods. One potential problem isn't the price, it's that a new bicycle or snowmobile can be difficult to hide until December 24th. Also, Adobe's holiday season forecast data is predicting December 4th to be the best day to equip your athlete.

Stock up on winter apparel. Black Friday may bring better buys than expected, especially as winter temperatures took longer to arrive this year. Retailers worried about excess supplies may decide to begin their December sales on Black Friday.

Consider power tools and DIY items. While some of these are discounted in November, you may want to do some research on price histories. This is because these items' discounts tend to lag behind others during the holiday season.

Relax. Data found that most of this year's holiday shoppers are already beginning to feel stressed. Remember...your loved ones will still love you, no matter what your gift budget may be.

Source: nerdwallet.com


Homemade Thanksgiving Stuffing

Hosting this year's holiday meal? This traditional Thanksgiving stuffing is sure to be a winner. Not only is it simple and economical to make, but your entire home will smell wonderful while it's baking.


Holiday Decor for Multi-Generational Households

No matter what you have in mind for your tree and table, it'll be more fun if everyone feels included. Here are some decorating and gift ideas that appeal to everyone from Generation Z to Boomers.

Tree Collars
If your tree skirt looks tired, consider a tree collar instead. It's a sophisticated way to hide a bulky tree stand and there are plenty to choose from, so you'll find one that blends with the rest of your decor. You can choose from metallics, wicker, and painted collars, or even make your own from a woven basket.

These began life as LOL Surprise dolls and have expanded by leaps and bounds. Now you can purchase many of your favorite toys in miniature, such as Rubik's Cube, Gudetema and even the ViewMaster stereoscope from 1939.  Tie some to a wreath or use them as stocking stuffers.

Not going formal? Google candycore decor and deck the halls in pinks and pastels. Take fairytale charm further with pink holiday napkins, pastel-colored ornaments, stained glass ornaments and scalloped table runners.

Advent Calendars
Created to count the days until Christmas, advent calendars are now available with all sorts of themes. Foodies will go for calendars with miniature candies or jams while children will love a Barbie- or Lego-themed calendar. There are even pet-themed advent calendars available this year, so no family members are left out.

Source: purewow.com


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