Thursday, November 15, 2012

Revealing My Sources, Part II

The #1 Question I'm asked about this blog is: How do I meet people? The #2 Question is: How do you know about all this cool stuff? 

In this blog post, I will reveal another one of the many sources I go to for information about what's happening, new businesses, and ideas for blog postings. The Morning Call's Go Guide, a weekly insert in the Thursday print edition of the regional newspaper, is a "to do list" for your weekend. Beyond merely listing what's happening (though the section does this in great detail, featuring events and activities in many categories), it highlights the good stuff, and once again, look to the section's ads for more detail. 

Here's part of today's cover. It's a tabloid size. 

The first two pages always include Go Picks, which are often big, new and special. This week's edition highlighted the Lehigh Valley's wine trail and holiday performances at SteelStacks.

There's always a restaurant review. Be sure to keep an eye out for a review if you are planning to go to a new restaurant. The writer gives a candid (but always positive) review of the restaurant, and recommends dishes. It's also useful for an unexpected reason: if a restaurant is highlighted in Thursday's Go Guide, you can bet it will be busier than usual the following Friday and Saturday nights. So make a reservation, or you'll be stuck in line at Olive Garden instead.

Finally, here are two ads for Baum School of Art classes for Children & Teens (now that fall sports are over and your kids are making you crazy inside the house), and a fall chocolate festival at The Brew Works. I included a column of the Go Guide's events below to give you an idea of some of the categories of programs they catalog each week: Christmas, Dance, Film, Kids, Music... and lots more. 

If you are not a Morning Call subscriber, maybe you turn to's Entertainment Guide. It is thorough, too. But if you subscribe to the paper on Saturday and Sunday as I do, you will likely be offered Thursday and Friday home delivery for free. And then you'll know what's going on, every week, before it's Friday night and do the same old thing. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Guest Post: Mortgage Advice for Lehigh Valley Transplants

By Eve Robinson: 

For a nearly a quarter of a century, the Lehigh Valley has been the location in which large numbers of families from New York and New Jersey have decided to up-sticks and relocate. Despite a potentially longer commute to work, many families who move from NY and NJ are attracted to Lehigh Valley due to the attractive quality of life and lower cost of living.

Often given the nickname ‘transplants’ by the locals, relocating to a new area is usually an exciting time but it goes without saying that there is plenty to think about. Because of this things don’t always run smoothly for the Valleys newest residents, especially when you take into consideration the stresses and strains associated with moving house and relocating to a new area.

Relocating is far from plain sailing
The truth is finding your dream home is relatively straightforward when compared to the decisions you’ll have to make when it comes to choosing the right home loan for your new property. To make things even more complicated, people looking to purchase a new property will find that there are literally thousands of home loan deals available, with each one seeming to be ever so slightly different to the last. 

It’s fair to say that the property market isn’t what it was once was. In recent years, there have been more than enough stories in the media regarding mortgages - how expensive they are, the various types that may or may not be available, the change in criteria that means many people don’t qualify for a mortgage. With so much to take in successfully navigating your way through what could potentially be a mortgage minefield is vital.

So where do you even begin to start in deciding which one will be most suitable?

Seek the right advice to understand the mortgage market
A good place to start when it comes to looking for a suitable mortgage is to contact your local mortgage broker and have them take care of everything for you. Or at least it was! In all honesty, it’s not the best time to be a mortgage broker. The once good name of many a mortgage broker/advisor (call them what you will) has been dragged through the mud and back again, with large groups of industry experts laying the blame of property market collapse solely at the brokers door. This is taken one step further by the some leading banks saying that they will stop using mortgage brokers altogether. All this is happening when more borrowers are seeking guidance on mortgages than ever before.

If financial institutions won’t work with mortgage brokers, then why should borrowers?
 It’s a good point and one simple answer is that not all mortgage brokers are unscrupulous sharks who only have their own interests at heart. Far from it, there are still plenty out there who will offer you the best advice, rates and financial planning possible.

That said it will certainly make sense for you to research when it comes to choosing someone who is going to give you advice on your mortgage.

Here are some good rules of thumb as you take those all important steps into home financing:

Compare mortgage brokers
You shouldn’t limit yourself to choosing one mortgage broker, why put all your eggs in one basket? Cast your net far and wide. As ever, if you can find a personal recommendation from a satisfied customer then that will almost certainly be invaluable. If a recommendation isn’t forthcoming then you might want to search online for a reputable advisor or look what is available to you locally. A good place to start is by finding an advisor in your area who is registered with either the MBAA or NAMB; this means that they are authorized to give you advice.  A good place to start for brokers in Lehigh Valley is the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce or the Lehigh Valley Association of Realtors (LVAR).

Be prepared!
When you eventually come to meeting with your broker, it’s really important that you are as prepared as possible, in order to get the most out of your meeting. Go in with a list of questions; make a note of your current circumstances and what it is that you need from your mortgage. Make sure you know (exactly) your current salary and how much you are looking to borrow. During the meeting, if you are at all unclear with any of the information the broker has told you then ask him or her to explain exactly what it is they are advocating.

Finally, even if you are quite satisfied with your broker, it won’t do you any harm to do some of your own research online. The internet is awash with mortgage comparison sites. These sites will help you to find the best rates and will give you a good base in which you can compare anything offered to you by your broker.