The Pros and Cons of VA Loans

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: The federal government has provided qualified veteran home buyers with a few mortgage-buying options to help purchase a home.  Below are some of the Pros and Cons for Veterans Affairs (VA) loans.

An important note VA loans are for primary residences only.

To determine if you are eligible for a VA loan, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/purchaseco_eligibility.asp

The first step in getting a VA loan is to obtain a certificate of eligibility from the VA: http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/purchaseco_certificate.asp

Pros:

  • 0% down payment, if desired
  • No Monthly Mortgage Insurance
  • Can generally qualify for a larger mortgage than a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan

Cons:

  • The only person that can co-sign is a spouse
  • An additional fee is rolled into the loan. Depending on the situation, first time use of a VA loan could be anywhere from 1.5% – 2.4%.  The next home mortgage could be anywhere from 1.25% – 3.3%.

Baron Financial Group consults with independent mortgage professionals in order to explore options available to clients.  If you are thinking of purchasing a new home, refinancing a mortgage, or consolidating a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit), lean on us to help you through the process. Please contact your Baron Team if you have any questions.

What documents are safe to shred? What must I keep?

A 30-second read by Victor Cannillo: Whether you are tired of piles of papers cluttering up your home or are trying to go “paperless,” it is important to know what documents you should keep and which you could shred.

Below we list some of the important documents the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that you should always keep:

  • Birth certificates/ adoption documents
  • Social Security cards
  • Marriage licenses or divorce decrees
  • Tax returns
  • Passports or citizenship materials
  • Familial death certificates
  • For items like your home and car, you want to hold on to any automobile titles and home deeds for as long as they are in your ownership.
  • To see more, click here.

Shredding Timeline-The FTC recommends that you wait:

  • 7 years before shredding any tax-related receipts and cancelled checks.
  • 1 year before shredding bank statements, medical bills, etc.

Items such as credit card statements can be shredded right away once paid. To help reduce capital gains tax, retain home improvement receipts until your home is sold.

To view the FTC’s safe shredding timeline infographic, click here.

In addition to decluttering your home, shredding documents with personal information can help prevent identity theft.  Just remember to keep the listed documents above for the suggested amount of time.

Feel free to reach out to us for any other questions.

The Pros and Cons of FHA Loans

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: The federal government has provided home buyers with a few mortgage-buying options to help purchase a home.  Below are some of the Pros and Cons for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.

An important note:  FHA loans are for Primary Residences only.

Pros:

  • Flexible qualification criteria-Minimum down payment is 3.5%. Keep in mind that the less money you put down on a mortgage, the higher the monthly payments will be.
  • Anyone can cosign, if needed, including a friend or parent. However, from a practical perspective, usually the co-signor is a family member.  If a friend co-signs for you, you need to put at least 25% down.  Note: If you are purchasing a multi-family house, even if a family member co-signs, you still need to put at least 25% down. 

Cons:

  • Monthly Mortgage Insurance never goes away for low-down-payment mortgages. If the borrower puts at least 10% down, the mortgage insurance will remain for 11 years. If they put less than 10% down, it will remain for the life of the loan. 
  • An additional fee of 1.75% is required. This can also be paid at closing or rolled into the loan.

Baron Financial Group consults with independent mortgage professionals in order to explore options available to clients.  If you are thinking of purchasing a new home, refinancing a mortgage, or consolidating a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit), lean on us to help you through the process. Please contact your Baron Team if you have any questions.

Tips to Avoid Phone Scams

A 30-second read by the Baron Team: It is not uncommon to turn on the news or read an article and hear about a new scam. Lately, you might have heard about the “Can you hear me?” phone scam, as recently reported by CNBC.

Whether such scams wind up being legitimate or just hearsay, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind. Below is a brief snapshot of some of the phone-scam tips provided by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).  To read the entire FTC article, “10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud,” click here.

  • If you don’t recognize the phone number, don’t pick up your phone.  (If it is in fact a friend, family member or acquaintance trying to reach you, they will probably leave a voice mail.)

  • If you do pick up the phone and suspect it is a telemarketer or if it is a robo-call, hang up the phone. Don’t give out any personal or credit card information.

  • If you received a call that you think might be a scam number, search the number or caller id information, along with the word “scam” on the internet, to see if other people have written any complaints.

  • The FTC offers a free scam alert service that will send tips about scams to your email. Read more at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts.

Feel free to reach out to us for any other questions.

Not all CDs are the same…

A 90-second read by Anthony Benante: When investing in a Certificate of Deposit (CD), you may have more options than you think.  You can purchase a CD at a local bank or you can purchase CDs in your investment accounts (such as a taxable account, IRA or Roth IRA, etc.).  These are typically known as Brokered CDs.  Even though the CDs you get from the bank and the CDs in your investment accounts are called Certificates of Deposit, you should know that there are differences.  In either case, we would recommend that the CDs you invest in are fully covered by FDIC insurance.  If you would like to learn more about FDIC insurance coverage, feel free to ask us or you can go online to www.fdic.gov.

Purchasing CDs from your local bank: If you were to purchase a CD from a local bank that is FDIC insured, you would receive interest and would get your principal investment at maturity. If you receive regular statements, the value of your CD would most likely never change because it is not tradeable.  If for some reason you wanted access to your funds prior to maturity, you would most likely be subject to a penalty, such as 90 days’ worth of interest (but this should be verified individually). Other factors to consider are that local banks can offer “teaser rates” (rates higher than the market) for CDs to attract deposits, but those rates may not be available after your CD matures.  Unless you want to consistently move your money from institution to institution, using time and effort, you will be subject to the rates being offered only by your bank.

Continue reading Not all CDs are the same…

Baron Financial Group Principals recognized as “Five Star Wealth Managers” for 2017

The Five Star award, administered by Five Star Professional,  recognizes service professionals who provide quality services to their clients.

Baron Financial Group is proud to announce that all three Principals, Victor Cannillo, James Shagawat and Anthony Benante, are recognized as 2017 Five Star Wealth Managers in New Jersey.  They are proud to be multi-year award recipients. The list of recipients appears in the January 2017 issue of New Jersey Monthly magazine. 

Sarasota-based Principal, Anthony Benante,  also received the 2016 Five Star Wealth Manager award in Sarasota, as seen in Sarasota Magazine, in the November 2016 issue.  This is the 3rd year in a row Anthony received this honor. 

The Five Star Professional research team applies a vigorous research and evaluation process to identify service professionals who provide quality services to their clients. Professionals do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of Five Star award winners. Five Star Professional follows standard survey practices used by other professional research organizations. The research also includes a regulatory review to provide necessary checks and balances.

Click here for a list of selection criteria and research methodology.

Baron Financial Group is committed to putting clients’ interests first, providing independent and transparent advice, by using a true team approach.  

Do You Have a Will? 3 Basic Estate Planning Documents You Should Have

A 60-second read by Victor Cannillo:  If you haven’t completed your estate planning documents yet, consider making it one of your goals for the New Year.

The beginning of a new year is a great time to start crossing off tasks on your list. Having your estate planning documents in place can help to prevent issues down the road and ensures that your specific wants and wishes will be carried out. For example, did you know that technically, everyone has a will? The question is do you have a personalized will or the standard state version?

Here are the 3 most basic estate documents you should have:

  1. A Last Will and Testament
    A document dictating how you would like your assets to be dispersed after death; to whom do you want your assets to pass? Having a Will safeguards your wishes. If you die without having a Will in place, the State will decide who is to inherit from your estate. The Will can also be useful to save estate taxes, create trusts for children and establish guardians for minor children.

  2. A Durable Power of Attorney
    A document in which you give another person the authority to act on your behalf. If you were ever to become incapacitated, who would you feel comfortable standing-in on your behalf when it comes to your finances, signing your checks, etc.?

  3. A Living Will (also known as an Advanced Medical Directive)
    A document outlining your end-of-life medical wishes if you are not conscious to make those decisions for yourself. What medical actions do you want to take place? It may also allow you to appoint a Health Care Representative to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself.

For more specific information on these documents and to start the process of completing them, contact an estate attorney. Make sure he or she specializes in estate law. If you would like assistance finding an estate attorney that fits your specific profile, feel free to reach out to your Baron team.

5 Financial Actions to Consider at Year-End

A 90-second read by Anthony Benante:  What 5 things should you be thinking about at the end of the year when it comes to your finances?

1. Review your personal budget and commit to a savings plan for 2017

a. On January 1, write down the balance in your checking account. Do this on the first of the month for the next three months. After you incorporate your income for the period, as well as take note of any cash withdrawals from other accounts, you can get a general sense of what your monthly spending is.

b. We work directly with our clients at Baron to help understand how their budget and all of their financial assets work together.  If you would like a budget sheet (either electronic or hard-copy), let us know. 

2. Review your long-term investment strategy

a. Is the long-term strategy in place for you still right for your specific circumstance? Are you going to be making any large purchases coming up in the New Year? Are you thinking about revisiting your risk tolerance – becoming more aggressive or conservative?

b. At Baron, we use a customized approach to design client portfolios.  We not only consider potential return, but also risk, as well as how the investments complement each other.  Having a long-term investment strategy is critical for investing success and provides a guide for when markets act unexpectedly or make a major directional move.

Continue reading 5 Financial Actions to Consider at Year-End

Good Cheer and the Spirit of the Season!

In the spirit of the season, a donation was made in honor of Baron Financial Group clients and friends to the Fair Lawn Food Pantry, to help those in need in the community.

Our clients completed our recent survey, giving us invaluable information to help us enhance the service that we provide. Baron was pleased to donate to the following charities, chosen by and in honor of the winner of the survey drawing.

  • Oasis: A Haven for Women and Children, Paterson, NJ
    Oasis currently serves those fighting poverty by meeting numerous basic needs. Read more at oasisnj.org.
  • Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary
    Catherine’s life was taken at the age of six at Sandy Hook Elementary but her legacy of kindness will live on. Read more at cvhfoundation.org.

We are committed to making the community a better place. Wishing  everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

High Stability Wealth Management