Ridge Lending Group Employee Spotlight – Autumn Kanakis

Autumn KanakisAt Ridge Lending Group we are a family. Learn more about Autumn Kanakis, a new employee with RLG!

Name: Autumn Kanakis

 Start Date: 9/7/21

Position: Administrative Assistant

Brief overview of what you do: Phone frontline specialist in-training, intake/lead/note capture extraordinaire, and overall team support 😊

What brought you to RLG: Kyle Shepard

What do you like most about working at RLG: A supportive environment with awesome teammates to learn from!

Hometown: Columbus, OH & Butler, PA

Hobbies: Competitive and casual gaming, animal training/husbandry work, hiking/camping, and various art mediums

Book you’ve read over and over again: Warriors series (A childhood favorite)

Top 3 movies: Mama Mia, Lion King 2, Serenity (2005)

A bit about your family: My immediate family is my adorable fur-child Nova and I. The rest of my family, both chosen and blood related, are scattered about the country and world. My father is a retired chef who instilled a love of cooking and food that I enjoy sharing with those around me.

Favorite food: Lamb and youvestsi (pronounced “E-vets”)

Thing you’re scared of: Falling (slipping on ice, out of plane, etc.)

Worst habit: Cracking my knuckles/neck

Dream vacation: Going to the island my family is from in Greece 

Favorite cocktail: Rumchata Milkshake

Ridge Lending Group Employee Spotlight – Liz Walther

Liz Walther

Liz WaltherAt Ridge Lending Group we are a family. Learn more about Liz Walther, a new employee with RLG!

Name:  Elizabeth Walther

Start Date: August 23, 2021

Position: Sr. Mortgage Underwriter

Brief overview of what you do:  Credit Analysis of Borrower income, assets, appraisal and more to approve a loan for the purchase or refinance of a home.

What brought you to RLG:  A Wonderful Recruiter

What do you like most about working at RLG:  Friendly Atmosphere and happy staff

Hometown:  Somerset, PA

Hobbies:  Hiking, skiing, reading

Book you’ve read over and over again:  The History of Religion by Karen Armstrong

Top 3 movies:  The Wizard of Oz,  Charlie Brown Halloween, The Commitments

A bit about your family: Family of five from small town 2 hours south of Pittsburgh, PA at

the foothills of the Appalachian mountains.  All siblings and I taught skiing at a local resort.

Favorite food:  Bratwurst with rot kraut (red cabbage)

Thing you’re scared of:  Encountering a mountain lion during a hike

Worst habit:  A bit overly chatty

Dream vacation:  Cruise to Switzerland, Sweden and Finland

Favorite cocktail:  None

Get Your Investment Property Airbnb-Ready

Property

PropertyPlatforms such as Airbnb and VRBO are just a few examples of numerous platforms that allow homeowners to monetize their vacation rentals. To compete against several other properties in your area, it is essential to first understand the ins and outs of the short-term rental industry. While short-term leases may offer less stability than yearlong agreements, rates are oftentimes much higher. When managed efficiently, a short-term rental property can be incredibly profitable.

Following are some tips to help you get your investment property Airbnb-ready:

Put Your Rental on Autopilot

If you plan on scaling your business with several rental properties, managing these properties all on your own just isn’t feasible. That’s where automation tools come into play to aid you in coping with the workload.

Airbnb provides many ways for hosts to automate almost every management function, from messaging guests and synchronizing calendar to coordinating cleanings and updating pricing. By employing automation tools, you will be able to increase productivity while serving your guests with celerity.

Furnish Your Rental

With Airbnb and VRBO, you are responsible for furnishing the space and catering to a wide range of tastes. Before you get started, it’s important to set a budget that takes into account the best return on investment as well as your guests’ comfort.

There are many resources online that list items and provide ideas for decoration. If you are on a tight budget, Ikea and Facebook Market are fantastic pages to find stylish yet affordable furniture and accessories.

Be Prepared for Unexpected Costs

If you are investing in a short-term rental, make sure to crunch every number and create a realistic plan. This means accounting for cleaning, utilities, repairs and maintenance, and property taxes, for example.

Budgets allow you to better handle having an excess of money or perhaps an unexpected shortage. Because many expenses fluctuate from month to month, it is wise to give your budget some wiggle room for any unexpected expenses.

List Your Vacation Home

When you are ready to list your rental, make sure to thoroughly describe the home and amenities available to guests. Your Airbnb title should be eye-catching and highlight your rental home’s selling points – whether that is ocean view or proximity to downtown.

Additionally, professional, high-quality photos are key to boosting the number of bookings. Other tips to improve your listing with Airbnb include keeping your response rate higher than 90% and your response time down, collecting glowing reviews, and enabling Instant Book.

Promote Your Rental on Social Media 

Promoting your rental on social media can help drive more views to your listing and create a positive ripple effect whereby Airbnb considers your home popular and boosts your rank further.

Visual platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat are the best choices when it comes to capturing your audience’s attention. Just remember to tag businesses, locations, and people in your posts and use relevant hashtags, which are searchable. A few excellent hashtags are: #YourArea (e.g., #blueridgemountains), #TouristAttractions (e.g., #libertybell), #LocalActivities (e.g., #whitewaterrafting, #coachella).

Are you ready to invest in real estate and see the value it can provide? RLG would love to help you! Call us today to learn more.

FHFA suspends Mar. 10 notice: rates to go down

FHFA

FHFA

We have been informed that the FHFA has suspended the increased risk enhancement notice published by the GSEs (Government Sponsored Enterprises, aka Fannie/Freddie) on March 10th of this year, which limited acquisition to 7% per aggregator for investment and second home properties. *

When this limit was imposed earlier this year, we saw interest rates for investment and second homes jump within 24 hours by almost a full percentage point! As of yesterday, that 7% limit has been suspended.

Why is this such BIG NEWS? We expect rates to start coming back down. We can’t say for sure yet exactly what that will look like, but I’m predicting that we’ll see a rate improvement of at least 0.5%! We should find investment property rates back in the 3s over the next few days.

Please understand that if you have a rate currently locked, that is your rate. The only way to relock at lower rates would be to let your existing rate lock expire and wait a full 30 days before relocking would be available.

To learn more andsecure your mortgage rate, call us today!

*The March 2021 amendments to senior preferred stock purchase agreements with Treasury imposed additional risk criteria on GSE-acquired loans. One of those restrictions was a 7% limit on GSEs’ acquisition of single-family mortgage loans secured by second home and investment properties.

Ridge Lending Group Employee Spotlight – Elaine Ha

Elaine Ha

Elaine HaAt Ridge Lending Group we are a family. Learn more about Elaine Ha, a new employee with RLG!

Name: Elaine Ha

Start Date: 07/19/2021

Position: Sr. Loan Processor

Brief overview of what you do: Review all docs that relate to mortgage loan

What brought you to RLG: Great opportunities

What do you like most about working at RLG:  Family culture

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

Hobbies: Traveling and shopping…lol

Book you’ve read over and over again: Notebook

Top 3 movies: Fast And The Furious, Notebook and John Wick

A bit about your family: I’m the only child… I’m married with 2 boys, who are 15 years and 13 years old

Favorite food: Seafoods

Thing you’re scared of: Anything that crawls with no backbones

Worst habit: Stay up late

Dream vacation: Maldives Island

Favorite cocktail: Let’s say I can’t drink…lol

6 Types of Insurance for Investment Properties

Insurance

Types of InsuranceAs a real estate investor, you must determine the types of insurance and coverage needed for your investment properties. The goal of insurance is to protect your home and its possessions from damage or theft, including rebuilding from total loss. If you have a mortgage on your home, many lenders require your coverage to equal 100% of the home replacement cost.

Another factor to consider when shopping for homeowners insurance is coverage for the items inside your home. There are tiers of coverage available depending on the replacement cost of items in your home. In some cases, your insurance agent will offer additional coverage for expensive items such as jewelry or artwork. It is important to talk to your insurance agent and make sure that you fully understand what your policy covers.

For rental properties, an insurance policy can provide income in the event of temporary vacancy losses. As there is a slew of insurance policies for any situation, it’s important to have a solid grasp on each one. Following are six common types of insurance for investment properties:

Mortgage Insurance 

When a homebuyer has less than a 20% down payment to buy a house, they will typically pay mortgage insurance. The purpose of this type of insurance is to protect the lender in the event of a default on the loan. If a loan defaults, the lender must foreclose and then resell the house, typically at a lower price than before. The insurance would then pay the lender for their loss on the loan.

Liability Insurance

A liability insurance provides policyholders with protection against claims resulting from accidents and injuries within your property. It will cover the legal costs and payouts for which the insured party was found legally liable. Because of the many responsibilities involved in being a landlord, this type of insurance can bring you peace of mind. For example, if you are found negligible for failing to properly maintain the rental home or advise the tenant of a potential risk, you could be saddled with thousands of dollars in legal and medical expenses.

Flood Insurance

If your investment property is under a standard homeowners insurance policy, flood damage is likely not included. To cover your home and its contents for flood damage, you must purchase a separate flood insurance policy. Costs for flood insurance vary based on how much coverage you purchase, what the policy covers, and your property’s flood risk. In some cases, you may be required to purchase flood insurance by the government or your mortgage lender.

Most flood insurance policies are offered through the National Flood Insurance Policy (NFIP). However, some policies are sold through private insurance companies. To purchase a NFIP policy, your community must participate in the program. Go here to see if your community participates.

Hazard Insurance

Hazard insurance is a term used to describe the coverage that homeowners insurance provides for certain risks. It covers structural damages from theft, storms, and fire. Though homeowners insurance typically helps cover damage from hazards, real estate investors can add optional coverages or endorsements, such as water damage from water backup from sewers or drains.

Landlord Insurance

This type of insurance combines different insurance coverages that landlords need. Landlord insurance policies will typically provide liability and defense coverages, loss of income insurance as well as protection from damages to the property. For example, in the event of damages caused from fire, this insurance policy will typically cover the expenses required to restore the rental home to its original state and the lost rent due to the damage.

Rent Guarantee Insurance

Unlike a rent loss insurance, a rent guarantee policy is intended to be used if tenants stop paying or skip out on rent. There are many reasons a tenant may fall behind on rent, from sudden unemployment to abandonment. This insurance type essentially prevents an income interruption by reimbursing the landlord.

Are you ready to invest in real estate and see the value it can provide? RLG would love to help you! Call us today to learn more.

Ridge Lending Group Employee Spotlight – Kyle Shepard

Kyle Shepard

Kyle ShepardAt Ridge Lending Group we are a family. Learn more about Kyle Shepard, who’s been with us since 2019!

Name: Kyle Shepard

Start Date: 10.11.2019

Position: Jr. Loan Processor

Brief overview of what you do: I oversee appraisals, schedule and organize signings, and other fun processing things

What brought you to RLG:  Referral

What do you like most about working at RLG:  The fantastic team atmosphere and the ability to work from home.

Hometown: Austin, TX

Hobbies: Hiking, cycling, video games, watching sports

Book you’ve read over and over again: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – mostly when I was younger

Top 3 movies:  The Usual Suspects, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Parasite

A bit about your family: I am engaged to a wonderful woman and we have 2 doggos.

Favorite food: Cheese

Thing you’re scared of: Failure

Worst habit: Procrastination

Dream vacation: Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Backpacking in another country where they don’t speak English 

Favorite cocktail: Margarita

Choosing the Right Floor for Your Investment Property

Floor

FloorThe right flooring can have a tremendous impact on the look of a house. But with so many choices on the market, picking out one that suits your financial standing and complements your investment home can be overwhelming as there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Ultimately, the type of floor that might work best for you will hinge on your investment strategy and the local housing market where the home is located.

For low-end rentals, a floor that is cheap yet durable will be your best bet, whereas in higher-income areas more expensive floors can boost rent price and yield more profit. For fix-and-flip properties, you might consider laminate flooring as it is inexpensive and durable yet elicits the high-end look many homeowners seek.

While there are myriad varieties of flooring available, be sure to understand your local market and audience so you can deliver on homebuyers’ and tenants’ expectations. Here are five common floor types to consider as you explore your options:

Hardwood – This classic, beautiful option will keep your investment home floor from looking dated over time. Hardwood flooring is available in many different stains, colors and sizes, making it perfect for almost any home.

Laminate – Laminate flooring is a low-cost alternative to hardwoods and can produce more durable results. Laminates can be made to mimic almost any flooring material, are easy to clean, and are easy to patch if damaged.

Cork – Cork is a sustainable choice for floors as it’s made from all organic and renewable materials. It is soft and has great insulation properties, which provide comfort underfoot. It is also shock absorbent, causing it to reduce noise as well as reduce the likelihood that dropped glasses or plates will break.

Polished Concrete – This type of flooring provides an industrial look. Concrete is non-porous and easy to maintain. Concrete also stays cool even when the weather is warm, making it ideal for locations in hot climates.

Vinyl – vinyl flooring is a cost-effective option for investors looking to cut expenses. It does not require much maintenance and comes in many styles that simulate materials such as hardwood and stone. While vinyl plank is a versatile, water-proof product that is great for high-traffic areas, it cannot be refinished like hardwood.

Are you ready to plunge into investing in real estate? RLG has the tools and resources at its disposal to get you on your way and not waste a moment of your time. Call us today to learn more and experience firsthand the dedicated, personalized customer service and undivided attention that RLG has to offer!

Ridge Lending Group Employee Spotlight – Jaime Barron

Jaime Barron

Jaime BarronAt Ridge Lending Group we are a family. Learn more about Jaime Barron, our new employee!

Name: Jaime Oliva Barron

Start Date: 7/06/2021

Position: PQ Officer

Brief overview of what you do: My job function is to review application from borrower, ensure that they qualify for program selected

What brought you to RLG: The opportunity to grow and hopefully go into UW’g one day

What do you like most about working at RLG: The professionalism and team we have is beyond words to explain. TRUE PROFESSIONALS

Hometown: Southern California, Los Angeles

Hobbies: Riding Mountain Bikes and riding my motorcycle

Book you’ve read over and over again: Sammy the Bull

Top 3 movies: Top Gun, The God Father, Tombstone

A bit about your family: We are a very outdoors type of family, a lot of camping

Favorite food: Sushi

Thing you’re scared of: Horror Movies

Worst habit: Smoking Cigars

Dream vacation: Anywhere, but with family

Favorite cocktail: None

5 Common Mistakes in Real Estate Investing

Real estate

Real estate investmentIf you are new to real estate investing, you likely know that it can produce the greatest rate of return and a path to financial independence. But what you should know is that the learning curve in this industry is quite intensive and requires a great deal of planning and preparation. Oftentimes, it’s the lending side of real estate investing that most people find intimidating. Here are five common mistakes to avoid as first-time investors.

Underestimating Costs

Whether you are flipping a home or prepping a property for rental, it’s important to get a precise estimate of the repair and renovation costs. It’s not uncommon for new investors to run up “surprise” expenses that significantly drive up the costs and affect the overall profitability of the investment home.

Over-improving

Over-improving means putting more money into a home than you can get in return. For instance, a home may never be worth more than a certain amount of money regardless of whether you add more high-end features and finishes because the location may not be as good. When improving on a home, consider looking at nearby “comps” to see how much buyers are willing to pay for a home with similar upgrades and square footage.

Overestimating Rental Income

Overestimating rental income is another common issue. While researching comparable homes in the area can help you understand rental prices for the home you are renting out, you should keep in mind that vacancy periods may significantly impact your profitability, which is contingent on being able to attract and retain tenants. In addition, rising taxes, utilities and insurance costs can cancel out profits from a stagnated rent.

Failing to Do Proper Due Diligence

In real estate, the period of time known as due diligence is the opportunity to investigate facts about the physical and financial conditions of the property and area the property is located in. Due diligence involves – among other things – walking the property, reviewing documents, conducting inspections, and calculating numbers such as insurance, taxes, and rental values.

Overlooking the Need for Training

As a budding real estate investor, the more training you receive, the less likely you are to commit costly mistakes along your journey. Training can come in a variety of forms, such as books, seminars, and coaching sessions. At Ridge Lending Group, our focus is almost exclusively on the non-owner-occupied sector of lending. We believe investment education is key and take great pride in piloting first-time investors through the waters of their first property.

Call RLG today to continue this discussion and to learn how our financial experts can help grow your business