6 Financial Tips for Service Members and Their Families

Monday, June 26 at 09:15 AM
Category: Personal Finance
Finances are often identified by service members and their families as one of their most significant stressors – even more than deployments and personal relationships. Financial concerns at home make it extremely difficult for service members to focus on the mission at hand. Planning ahead as much as possible is key for the millions of military families who face unique financial challenges like deployments and relocations.

These financial tips can help lessen the financial burden on military families:
  • Contribute automatically to a Thrift Savings Plan. Military members have access to the Federal Thrift Savings Program, which offers the lowest-cost retirement savings plan available. Have automatic contributions withdrawn from your paycheck. 
  • Plan for deployment. Before deployment, have a family conversation about managing the household budget. Military personnel also receive additional funds while deployed. Decide on the best use for that extra cash, whether it is paying off debt or increasing Thrift Savings Plan contributions. 
  • Meet with your banker before active duty. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers all military personnel entering active duty a variety of financial protections. The SCRA covers issues ranging from interest rate reductions to limits on debt accrual. Ask your banker about the key provisions of this law and how they can help you.  
  • Set up automatic bill pay. Whether you’re stationed stateside or overseas, automatic bill pay will give you and your family one less thing to worry about each month. It can be particularly helpful during deployments in regions where internet access is unreliable and mobile banking isn’t an option.
  • Consider housing options. With mortgage rates at notably low levels, homeownership may seem like a no-brainer. However, service members should consider their options. Frequent relocations and deployments can make owning a home challenging and expensive. Renting may be a smart option for short-term assignments. Decide what’s best for your family and your finances. 
  • Consult a financial advisor. Schedule a visit at a Personal Financial Management Program (PFMP) office, located in your military and family support centers. They offer free one-on-one counseling, as well as other financial education resources. 
Service members juggle a lot of stresses, and we hope to reduce the financial stresses with these tips.
 
Information courtesy of American Bankers Association. 

Tags: Financial Education, Home Loans, Mortgage, Retirement, Savings
 

Commercial Real Estate Market Absorbs Over 1,000,000 Square Feet of Space in Northwest Arkansas

Monday, April 24 at 08:15 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

Multi-family vacancy rates up slightly but remain low.

Arvest Bank today released its Skyline Reports on commercial and multifamily real estate in Northwest Arkansas for the last six months of 2016.

In the commercial real estate market, 1,005,502 square feet of commercial space were absorbed in Northwest Arkansas during the second half of the year, while 541,561 square feet of new space were added, resulting in a net positive absorption of 463,941 square feet. The vacancy rate for all commercial space fell from 12.7 percent in the first half of 2016 to 11.7 percent in the second half. During the first half of 2016, the commercial market experienced net positive absorption of 11,847 square feet.

The retail submarket has seen a slight increase in vacancy rates from 9.2 percent in the first half of 2016 to 9.4 percent in the second half of 2016, while the warehouse submarket has seen a more significant decrease in vacancy rates year-over-year from 11.5 percent in the second half of 2015 to 8.1 percent in the second half of 2016. According to Kathy Deck, lead researcher for the Skyline Report and director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, this trend is likely a result of the changing shopping preferences of consumers.

“As consumers have increasingly embraced online shopping, it stands to reason that these new shopping preferences will have an impact on different types of commercial real estate with the retail real estate market softening while the warehouse market begins to tighten. I think that is what we are likely witnessing here in Northwest Arkansas,” said Deck.

The office submarket continues to show strength. While 155,933 new square feet were added in the second half of 2016, 271,396 square feet were absorbed – a net positive absorption of 115,463 square feet.

From July 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, there were $137.2 million in commercial building permits issued in Northwest Arkansas, a decrease from the $206.5 million in commercial building permits issued in the first half of the year and a slight increase from the $112.8 million in issued in the last half of 2015.

“Overall, the commercial real estate market can be described as both very active and well-balanced at this time,” Deck continued.

Vacancy rates in multifamily real estate rose slightly from the first half of the year but remain at low levels throughout Northwest Arkansas.  The overall vacancy rate for the Northwest Arkansas multifamily market during the second half of 2016 was 3.2 percent, up from 2.4 percent in the first half of the year. The Skyline Report tracks 336,159 multifamily units in 735 multifamily properties across Northwest Arkansas.

Craig Rivaldo, president with Arvest Bank of Benton County, said about the Skyline results, “We are visiting with a large number of clients who have been very encouraged regarding the real estate development market here in Northwest Arkansas. They have been seeing and hearing what this report indicates – that the market is well balanced, and there are plenty of good opportunities for intelligent commercial and multifamily projects now and in the future.”

Springdale continues to have the lowest vacancy rate in the region, now falling below 1.0 percent to 0.9 percent followed by Bentonville at 1.3 percent, Siloam Springs at 1.8 percent, Rogers at 2.7 percent and Fayetteville at 4.7 percent. Fayetteville’s vacancy rate of 4.7 percent was up from 3.6 percent in the first half of 2016, the result, according to Deck, of a substantial number of “by-the-bed” rental units targeted to college students coming onto the market after the start of the Fall school semester.

Increased demand put upward pressure on lease rates with the average monthly lease price for a multifamily property unit in Northwest Arkansas increasing to $627.04 from $608.88 in the first half of 2016.

“We are running out of adjectives to describe the multifamily market in Northwest Arkansas,” Deck said. “Considering that what is generally considered the normal vacancy rate in multifamily properties is 5 percent, for the overall rate in Northwest Arkansas to be in the 3 percent range and to have stayed under 4 percent since the second half of 2014 is remarkable. With so many new multifamily properties under construction or recently announced, we anticipate that we will likely be in the more normal range of 5 percent within 18- to 24-months. And with so many of the newer properties having a more robust set of amenities, it won’t be surprising if we see higher average rates at that time, even with a higher overall vacancy rate.”

The Arvest Skyline Report is a biannual analysis of the latest commercial, single-family residential and multi-family residential property markets in Benton and Washington counties. The report is sponsored by Arvest Bank and conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) in the Sam. M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.

In 2004, Arvest Bank entered into a contract with CBER to collect information about the local real estate markets. CBER researchers aggregated and analyzed data from local governments, property managers, visual inspections and the business media to provide a complete picture of the status of property markets in the two counties.

The CBER provides excellence in applied economic and business research to federal, state and local government, as well as to businesses currently operating or those that desire to operate in the state of Arkansas. The center further works to improve the economic opportunities of all Arkansans by conducting policy research in the public interest.

Tags: Arkansas, Arvest Benton County, Arvest Biz, Bentonville, Business Banking, Community Support, Home Loans, Mortgage, Northwest Arkansas, Prairie Grove, Press Release, Rogers, Siloam Springs, Springdale
 

Need a Mortgage? Know Your Options

Monday, April 10 at 09:35 AM
Category: Personal Finance
Sometimes shopping for a mortgage can seem overwhelming. However, these five tips will help guide your search to find the best home loan to fit your needs. 
 
  1. Know what you can afford. Review your monthly spending plan to estimate what you can afford to pay for a home, including the mortgage, property taxes, insurance, monthly maintenance and utilities. Make sure you save for emergencies. Plan ahead to be sure you will be able to afford your monthly payments for several years. Check your credit report to make sure the information in it is accurate. A higher credit score may help you get a lower interest rate on your mortgage. 
  2. Know your options when comparing loan programs. Shopping takes time and energy, but not shopping around can cost you thousands of dollars. Find a lender and loan officer you’re comfortable with to give you the information to make informed choices. A loan officer can help you choose the loan that best meets your unique needs.
  3. Understand loan prices and fees. Many consumers accept the first loan offered and don't realize they may be able to get a better loan. Lenders and brokers consider the profit they receive if you agree to the terms of a loan with higher fees, higher points or a higher interest rate. Shopping around is your best way to avoid more expensive loans.
  4. Know the risks and benefits of loan options. Mortgages have many features – some have fixed interest rates; some have adjustable rates; some have payment adjustments; on some you pay only the interest on the loan for a while and then you pay down the principal (the loan amount); some charge you a penalty for paying the loan off early; and some have a large payment due at the end of the loan (a balloon payment). Consider all mortgage features, the APR (annual percentage rate) and the settlement costs. Ask your lender to calculate how much your monthly payments could be a year from now, and five or 10 years from now. Mortgage calculators* can help you compare payments and the equity you could build with different mortgage loans.
  5. Get advice from trusted sources. A mortgage loan is one of the most complex, most expensive financial commitments you will ever assume – it’s okay to ask for help. Talk with a trusted housing counselor or a real estate attorney you hire to review your documents before you sign them. You can find a list of counseling resources at NeighborWorks* and on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD)* website or by calling (800) 569-4287.
With some conscious effort and research, you can feel more confident in whom you select to finance your home loan needs.

Information courtesy of Federal Reserve. 

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Tags: Financial Education, Home Loans, Mortgage
 

Tips to Simplify Home Loan Process

Tuesday, March 28 at 09:20 AM
Category: Personal Finance
Are you looking for ways to simplify and reduce the stress of the home loan process? Check out these tips to help you do just that!

Disclose All Assets: Loan officers regularly run into situations where a little extra verified funds can make the difference in a loan approval. When applying for a loan, borrowers sometimes forget equity in assets such as vested interest in retirement plans, automobiles or other real estate that may help to approve a borrower.

Timely Response: Another “big” issue loan officers face is timeliness of response for documents. It’s imperative borrowers realize returning requested documentation immediately is integral in a successful and stress free transaction, especially with the mandated time frames for review.  

Verify Funds:
Funds used to close, including cash, will need to be seasoned, verified or tracked to be utilized in the home-buying process. 

Closing Times: Real estate agents, lenders and other service providers are faced with quick closing times on a regular basis. And while sometimes this is unavoidable, all parties should understand the potential pitfalls that can result. In many cases, problems can be avoided if all parties had a slightly longer closing time frame. Items to consider when determining a closing time: 
  • Sellers and buyers scheduled time frames regarding things such as: scheduling moving companies, closing on other homes, weather delays, utility transfers, holidays and others. 
  • Documentation, contractual obligations, and negotiations when inspection and repairs are required. Weather delays may significantly impact a closing date while waiting for work to be completed on or around the exterior of a home. 
  • New rules that allow additional time for review of initial disclosures, estimates, closing costs and closing statement review. 
Although there are legitimate reasons for an expedited closing date, giving all parties the time they need to successfully complete their responsibilities, will help avoid unnecessary stress on buyers and sellers.  

Servicing Your Loan: When you get a mortgage, you may think the lender will hold and service your loan until you pay it off or sell your home. That’s often not the case. In today’s market, loans and the rights to service them often are bought and sold. In many cases, the company that you send your payment to is not the company that owns your loan. So it’s important to know who may ultimately service your mortgage, upfront, in the mortgage process. At Arvest Bank we service 99% of our mortgage loans so what starts here, stays here.   

All parties involved in a real estate transaction, if informed and understand these issues, can bring tremendous value and provide a stress-free customer experience. It reminds me of a couple things my grandmother use to say, when quality is important or I was faced with an important task – “Haste makes waste,” and, “A job worth doing, is worth doing right.” Words to live by! 

Tags: Financial Education, Home Loans, Mortgage
 

Arvest Reaches Mortgage Milestone

Thursday, January 05 at 11:25 AM
Category: Arvest News

Arvest Bank's mortgage division makes company history in 2016!

Arvest Bank announced Jan. 3 its mortgage division originated more than $1 billion in purchase-money mortgage loans in 2016, the first time it has done so in its history.

Arvest announced in September it had originated more than $1 billion in mortgage loans – both purchase-money and refinances – for the 14th consecutive year. Steven Plaisance, President and Chief Executive Officer of Arvest’s mortgage division, said passing the $1 billion mark in purchase-money loans alone is a testament to Arvest’s mortgage lenders and a good indicator of healthy local economies within the bank’s footprint.

“We couldn’t have reached this remarkable milestone without the dedication and expertise of all our mortgage lenders, assistants and our operations team,” Plaisance said. “Additionally, low interest rates have helped many people realize the dream of buying their first home, their dream home, or something in between. We’re always happy to help provide the opportunity for people to improve their lives through the purchase of a home.”

As of Dec. 28, Arvest had closed a total of 6,170 purchase-money loans with total loan value of $1,001,191,628. In 2015, Arvest closed a total of 5,931 purchase-money loans with total loan value of $941,340,727.

“Mortgage interest rates remain one of the best deals going, and thus we are very excited about the 2017 purchase-money market despite the recent rate movement,” Plaisance said. “We urge everyone to keep in mind historical mortgage rates as we move forward.”

Arvest is unique among most local lenders in that it services 99 percent of its mortgage loans, meaning that customers make their payments to Arvest and deal with Arvest for any needs after their loan closes.

Tags: Home Loans, Mortgage, Press Release

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