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In memory of Samantha "Sammy" Rangel.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

In memory of Samantha "Sammy" Rangel.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and this has special meaning to us here at Benchmark.

Facts About Childhood Cancer

  • Every day 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer
  • Every day 7 children will die from cancer
  • Pediatric cancer kills more kids than cystic fibrosis, pediatric aids, and asthma combined
  • 1 in 330 children will develop cancer by the age of 20
  • Those that do make it will have side effects from treatment that will last a lifetime.
  • You are aware, now spread the knowledge

Our own Misty Rangel witnessed this first hand when she lost her daughter.

I am not really sure where to begin with this but Sammy was a normal child that developed childhood cancer (wilms tumor) at the age of 4. She fought hard and won the battle twice in her 8 year struggle. The third time it came back with a vengeance and she fought as hard as she could but the human body can only take so much and we lost sweet Sammy Oct 2nd 2016 at the age of 13. God had a beautiful purpose for her life. Her journey, strong faith and beautiful smile touched and inspired so many lives. To this day I am amazed at the number of people that were led to Christ through her journey.

She made it thru sept last year and past on Oct 2. She refused to die in Sept and I know this with all my heart.

Our Benchmark family loved and supported us so much during her last fight. We were so blessed through it all and I am forever grateful.

Misty Rangel — Benchmark Corporate Office

Daughter of Benchmark Originator Angela Rose, Tegan Rose was diagnosed with leukemia on March 17, 2017, two days before her 11th birthday.  Tegan is a fighter and we know she will WIN the battle she has in front of her.

UPDATE — Tegan Rose is now in remission but still has one more chemotherapy treatment in October to make sure it never comes back. 

Benchmark Memo: When Disaster Strikes, You Have Options

In the aftermath of the historic flooding in  South Texas, and in anticipation of Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean, you should be aware of your financial options in the wake of devastation.

The FHA 203(h) is a ZERO down program, and is available to homeowners and renters alike.

 

At Benchmark, we know how important it is to rebuild after devastation. Your Benchmark Loan Originator can help with options like the FHA 203(h) program.

Here Is How You Can Help Victims Of Hurricane Harvey

The following is where you can divert your attention, donations, and time (if permissible). We know that people are generous and want to know how to help those in need. This list was first published by Texas Monthly (http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/ways-can-help-people-hurricane-harvey) It has been adapted to be a quick glance sheet.

Help Children

The Texas Diaper Bank — assembling relief kits for families with small children.

The Driscoll Children’s Hospital — is located in Corpus Christi, open, and has power. They are accepting financial and blood donations.

Help Pets

The SPCA of Texas — is taking in hundreds of animals. Donate to help cover costs, or open your home to animals who need somewhere to go before they can be reunited with their families.

Austin Pets Alive! — is accepting cash, to keep operating, volunteers to foster animals, and pet supplies: large plastic or metal bins with lids to store food, leashes and collars, cat litter, large brooms, cat-specific beds, and liquid laundry soap. (no crates or pet food at this time)

Help With Medical Needs

Portlight — is working to ensure that people who require medical equipment and assistive technology have what they need after they evacuate, and to make sure that they are able to get to safety. They accept donations via PayPal.

Direct Relief USA — offers prescription drugs and other medical supplies. They’re accepting financial contributions.

Provide Food

(via the Houston Press):

Houston Food Bank
832-369-9390
houstonfoodbank.org

Galveston Food Bank
409-945-4232
galvestoncountyfoodbank.org

Food Bank of the Golden Crescent (Victoria)
361-578-0591
victoriafoodbank.org
Closed Friday

Corpus Christi Food Bank
361-887-6291
foodbankcc.com

Southeast Texas Food Bank (Beaumont)
409-839-8777
setxfoodbank.org

Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley (Pharr)
956-682-8101
foodbankrgv.com

Brazos Valley Food Bank (Bryan)
979-779-3663
bvfb.org

Central Texas Food Bank (Austin)
512-282-2111
centraltexasfoodbank.org

San Antonio Food Bank
210-337-3663
safoodbank.org

To Help The Homeless

The Houston Coalition for the Homeless — shelter for the homeless in Houston, up-to-date information about shelter space availability, the best fit for each one, and how to get there safely. Accepting financial donations.

To Help Those Displaced

List your home on Airbnb for free — (with no service fees to anyone) Most listings are in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. Consider listing your space.

Trusted World — operating three shelters in Dallas which need donations, supplies (clean clothing, non-perishable food, toiletries, diapers, and baby formula), and volunteers.

Global Giving — trying to raise $2 million to help those affected by the storm. Provides food, gas, clean water, hygiene products, and shelter in the short-term, and then funnels the remaining resources to local organizations to facilitate long-term recovery.

H.E.B. — doesn’t accept donations, but the supermarket chain provides emergency response services, mobile kitchens, and disaster-response units to affected areas. (Now collecting donations at the register for the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, and Feeding Texas.) Many stores in affected areas (including the entire Houston area) are closed.

5 Tips To A Great Start For The New School Year

Every new school year brings with it a clean slate, nervous excitement, optimistic hope, and high expectations. In addition to the tips we published before (A New School Year Means New Opportunities), here are 5 tips to getting off on the right foot.

 

A Place For Everything, And Everything In Its Place

Establish a designated place for all school supplies and papers. You will appreciate having a single location where school related items stay, especially when things get hectic.

 

Tell Your Calendar Who Is Boss

Schedule your family’s important doctor, dental, and other appointments ahead of time. Before blocking out your calendar with after school activities, block out important dates and appointments. The dates will be set, and you won’t be scrambling to fit them in later. Don’t forget to schedule your own appointments too!

 

Well Laid Plans Make Life Easier

When it comes to planning, anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Set yourself up for success by doing more than just planning. Over-plan, because failing to plan is planning to fail. Within a few short weeks, everyone in your household will ease into their own rhythm, and the hours will plan themselves. Until then, overdo your preparations for new learning strategies, new schedules, and new teachers.

 

Take The Time To Soak It All In

Don’t forget to stop and slow down every once in a while. Every new school year brings with it the excitement of novelty and the anticipation of change. Remember to stop every now and then, to take a deep breath, and to enjoy each moment. As Socrates famously said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

 

Embrace Your Inner Optimist

Attitudes are contagious, so remember to smile, maintain a positive attitude, and believe that the best is yet to come.

Benchmark Introduces the Medical Doctor Loan Program


Benchmark understands that life moves quickly, especially if you’re in the medical field. That’s why we go the extra mile to accommodate your busy schedule and unique financial outlook.

Benchmark is now offering a program geared specifically toward doctors! The program is for borrowers with a medical license who would like to use future income to get a home now. It allows for up to 95% loan-to-value with a minimum credit score of 680. Individuals with student loan payment debt, have the potential to exclude student loan payments when calculating loan-to-value if you have a minimum credit score of 720, and your student loan payments are in deferment or forbearance a minimum of 12 months after the note date.

To be eligible, at least one borrower on the loan must have one of the following designations, and they must start employment within 60 days of closing:

  • Medical Resident
  • Medical Doctor (MD)
  • Doctor of Dental Science (DDS)
  • Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) and dental surgeons specializing in oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Doctor of Optometry (OD)/Doctor of Ophthalmology (MD)
  • Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)
  • Doctor of Osteopathy (DO)

Let Benchmark make the process of buying a home easy. We will be with you every step of the way home.

Facebook Introduces Targeted Real Estate Advertising

Calling it “Dynamic Ads for Real Estate,” Facebook describes the service,

Facebook’s dynamic ads for real estate leverage cross-device intent signals to automatically promote relevant listings from your inventory with a unique creative on Facebook.

This is the first time the social media giant has ventured into Real Estate specific advertising, raising potential concern for platforms specializing in the niche industry. With this move, Facebook offers direct advertising access to real estate professionals who can now show relevant properties to a target audience on a platform that they already use.

Benchmark’s own Marketing Director had this to say,

Facebook entering the real estate space is huge for the every day Realtor. They will now have the ability to reach targeted, potential buyers with accurate information that comes straight from the listing agent as the source. – Garrett Finkelstein

The Future of Real Estate Ads?

Whether this poses a threat to existing niche vertical advertising platforms remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: the advertising landscape is changing at Facebook.com.

With more Millennials interesting in buying homes, this comes across as a step towards reaching the audience where they are, in a way that is automatically optimized for both advertiser and customer alike.

Under 35 Homeownership Rate Increases

The Rate of Homeownership has increased from 34.3% to 35.3% from first Quarter 2017 to Second Quarter 2017 for those under 35 years of age, according to a report from the United States Census Bureau.

While popular media seems to portray Millennials as a generation of renters, a whitepaper from First American lists six reasons why the number of Millennials becoming homeowners will continue to rise. Here is a quick summary.

They Are The Most Educated Generation

First American says,

“Our model shows that, all other factors being equal, the likelihood of homeownership increases by 3 percent for those that earn a bachelor’s degree over those with a high school degree. The likelihood of homeownership jumps another 3 percent for those that earn a graduate degree.”

To summarize, more education results in a higher rate of homeownership. Since Millennials are the most educated generation in the United States, we should expect to see the rate of homeownership for this group increase over time.

 

Marriage And Homeownership – Happy Together

As a generation known for delaying life milestones, many are marrying later. With the homeownership rate being 30% higher for married couples over non-married homes (according to First American), we can expect to see the rate of homeownership increase over time for Millennials.

 

Parents Prefer To Own

According to First American‘s research:

“The homeownership rate is 1.7% higher for households with one or two children compared to households with no children, and it is 5.4 percent higher for households with three or more children.”

As Millennials mature, there may be an increase not only in marriage, but also in producing the next generation. According to First American‘s latest report, this could also result in a bump in homeownership for this up and coming group.

 

Economics And Income

First American‘s study ties recent gains in income growth and a stronger economy to an increased willingness and ability to buy a home. While this is referring to the entire labor pool, it includes Millennials.

 

Benchmark.us Sessions

This is hardly proof, but it is interesting to note that ages 25-34 is the largest age group represented in visitors to Benchmark.us so far in 2017, at 32% of all sessions being within this age range.

 

The Future Is Here

The generations are aging, expectations are changing, and the time is right for the Millennials to take on the American Dream of Homeownership and to establish familial wealth.

Why Buying Is Investing

If you are thinking about becoming a homeowner, it is important to see your house as an investment. A home is an asset with the potential to  increase your financial stability over time. Unlike renting, where you pay your landlord’s mortgage without seeing any return yourself, homeownership works to broaden your financial worth. After purchasing a home, owners enjoy an increase in equity as they continue making payments, an increase in property value over time, and a growing net worth as a cumulative result.

 

You Are Paying Yourself

Purchasing a house helps you build equity. To figure out your equity in your house, subtract your loan’s principal balance from the market value of your home. For example, if your home’s fair market value is $256,000, but your remaining principal balance is $125,000, you have $131,000 ($256,000 – $125,000) in equity. This equity is available to you as collateral for major expense loans for financing your child’s college education, renovation projects, or paying off credit cards.

 

Asset Appreciation

The value of most purchased items does not increase over the period of ownership. On the other hand, a home is an investment that is likely to appreciate in value. A home’s value gains over time based on local real estate markets and the improvements made to it. If you decide to sell your home, you will could make a profit if the house value at time of sale is greater than the initial purchase price.

 

Low Initial Investment

Buying a house may appear to be a scary financial jump. Luckily, you do not need to use all of your savings to purchase a house. You can become a homeowner with just a low percentage (determined by credit and financial factors) of the home value needed for the down payment. While your regular payments are paying down the balance over time, the value of your property is probably rising. A short time into your investment, you will have a home that is worth more than what you paid for it at the time of closing. This equity gives you more financial security and an increase in your net worth.

 

Are You Ready To Own?

Buying a home can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way with Benchmark. When you feel ready to purchase a home, find your branch. A loan officer will match you with the best loan for your financial needs.

Buying a home can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When it’s time to buy a new home, give me a call or apply now. I’ll work with you to find the best loan type for your financial needs.

Buying a home can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When it’s time to buy a new home, contact us or call your loan officer. We work with you to get the best mortgage for your financial needs.

How to Score in Today’s Housing Market

Housing inventory dropped 8.5% over the last year as of 2Q 2017, the 9th quarter in a row of this decrease in the number of available homes. Buyers are buying homes the fastest time on record since tracking began in 2012. When supply is down by 20% compared to five years ago, it is normal to expect demand to respond in normal economic fashion. Today, only 47% of homes stay on the market longer than 2 months.

Of course, the decrease in supply has lead to the expected economic consequence of raising prices. Homes are becoming less affordable, especially for first time homebuyers. While there is not much you can do to influence the economics of the market, below are three steps you can take to be able to play the game successfully.

Get Proactive

Before you begin to search, talk to your mortgage consultant and a Realtor. In a highly competitive market, it’s important to be prepared. Homebuyers who begin their home hunt with a pre-approval in hand are able to act fast, resulting in an accelerated time table. The most prepared buyer’s readiness is often more attractive to sellers, putting the proactive buyers at an advantage.

Have a Plan

Whether you’re a first time homebuyer or a homeowner looking to sell your house, creating a timeline model is a great way to plan your success. With clear expectations and a calendar, your lender and Realtor can help make your journey as smooth as possible.

Rely On Your Teammates

Your Realtor and your mortgage lender are on your team, and ready to help you find the best home and financing plan that takes your needs and desires into account. While buying a home can seem like a daunting task, we know that it doesn’t have to be. It’s all part of what we call The Benchmark Way.


* Data and information sourced from Trulia https://www.trulia.com/blog/trends/inventory-q2-2017/ accessed on July 21, 2017

5 Things People Look For When Moving to a New City

If you plan on moving soon, you may find your home in a new city. While there is no doubt that moving to a new city will be an adjustment, prioritizing what’s important to you and your family can help make the decision much easier. Consider these 5 factors as you evaluate your options.

 

School Districts and Schools

If you are a parent, moving to a new city may also mean choosing a new school district for your children. Education can be a huge consideration in your family’s search for a new place to call home. 

 

Jobs

Moving to a new city may also mean moving to a new career. When relocating, job availability is an important consideration. How is the job market for your field of work in your new home town? Of course, a new career or job opportunity may be the very reason for moving.

 

Accessibility

Access to healthcare, transportation, entertainment, and cafes or restaurants can make a location more livable. Moving to a city that gives you accessibility to a thriving culture, convenience, and basic amenities can help support a more satisfying rhythm of life.

 

Cost of Living

Being in a new location, your new cost of living most likely won’t be the same. Finding a location with a comparable or reduced cost of living is a priority for many Americans who plan to move. Research eligible destinations before making a final decision to ensure that you can afford to live in your new home town and aren’t caught by surprise on arrival.

 

Climate

Your environment matters, which is why weather is often part of the decision-making process when families move to a new location. If you can’t imagine yourself living in a particular climate, you may want to look for a new home in an area with more preferable conditions. If you are sensitive, consider other environmental factors, like allergens, humidity, heat, and pollution.

If you are looking to move, find your Benchmark branch, and call today. If you’re looking to buy, call, message me, or apply now! If you’re looking to buy, contact us or apply now! We would be happy to help you discover homeownership in your new city.