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Explor-a-Mortgage, Part 2  by Jan


As you may or may not know, I’ve been exploring refinancing my home on and off for a couple of months.

My latest meeting was with Larry, and we worked the numbers (OK, Larry worked the numbers…) and I came to the conclusion that, even though the interest rate was a smidge lower, the $250 toward closing offer wasn’t enough of a savings for me to refinance, nor did it make sense to enter a 15-year refi agreement, what with the closing costs and all. But… I thought maybe the special 10 and Done offer might be worth it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the info I needed with me. (Derp.)

So, I finally got my schtuff together and met with Tom Wehmeyer, another one of our crack mortgage specialists. I brought in my most recent mortgage statement to see if the 10 and Done refi offer would be a good fit for me. We uncovered a few surprises, and I gotta say, I learned a lot!

Basically, Tom walked me through how refinancing would change things financially for my family. (I asked him to walk really slow, like we were idly strolling, looking in shop windows. And I warned him we might have to circle the same block a few times.)

When my husband refinanced our home in 2012, I thought we had set up payments so that the 20-year mortgage would be paid at an accelerated 15-year rate. But no. We had refinanced for 20 years, and we were making payments that would pay off our mortgage in, you guessed it, 20 years. So we had 16 years of payments left instead of 11 years.

And this misconception affected everything.

In order for us to take advantage of the 10 and Done refinancing offer, we would have to condense that 16 years into 10, which would increase our mortgage payments by $255 each month. A-a-a-and, that amount doesn’t include taxes and insurance. We also would have to set aside money to pay that out of pocket when the due dates came around. (No more of this handy escrow stuff to make sure the money was available.)

Basically, yes, said Tom, you would save some money. Over the 10-year run, we would save about $3,200 in interest. But you’d have to be comfortable with increased monthly payments. Is that “worth ‘feeling the squeeze’ every month?” as Tom put it.

Whew! An extra $255 a month? Not gonna happen. But on the bright side, Tom did lay out another option for me.

If I did want to pay it off faster, we could simply start paying more on a monthly basis. The beauty of this option is that we’re not committed to the higher payment, so if other expenses got in the way that month, we could simply pay our regular amount.

I have to say, Tom was awesome. Not only did he stroll through the numbers and terms slowly enough for me to keep up, he was willing keep circling back until I thoroughly understood what he was saying. All the while, never making me feel like I was the dullest knife in the drawer. Patient, he was. Knowledgeable, he was. Condescending, he was not.

I asked him if our conversation was typical of refinancing meetings. Oh, absolutely, he said. You get involved with each person a bit before narrowing it down to what’s best for them.

I love that about Linn Area Credit Union. Even though I spent a few hours exploring various options, and ultimately decided not to refinance, not a single person acted like I was wasting their time. They were truly looking out for my family’s best interests, not pressuring me to sign something that I would regret.

Maybe in five more years, we could take another look at refinancing. Until then, I’ll just keep my eyes open for other ways to save.

Explor-a-Mortgage, Part 1  by Jan


When was the last time you refinanced your home? Were interest rates lower or higher? If you don’t know, then you should take a look at your mortgage paperwork. It might be totally worth your while!

My interest (pun intended!) in this is very personal. My husband and I refinanced about four years ago, and I had little to do with it. I was going through a very difficult time trying to help manage my parents’ health, so my husband took care of the whole shebang. It was all I could do to show up and sign the papers. Even that stressed me out.

Flash forward to April 2016. Hey, hey! I now work for Linn Area Credit Union, and I’m around money-smart people all day long! So I got this crazy idea that maybe we should look at refinancing again (re-refinancing?), and maybe even rolling our HELOC in with it and doing other crazy-fancy financial stuff. This time I was prepared to take the lead, instead of my husband.

So I had a little sit-down with Larry, one of our top mortgage specialists. Totally cool guy. Brews his own beer, knows oodles about mortgages, and has an awesome sense of humor. (As I like to say, he’s hi-Larry-ous!)

Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t going to work out exactly as I imagined. We couldn’t roll the HELOC into the mortgage because of a little thing called the loan-to-value ratio, aka LTV. Basically, with both the HELOC and the mortgage together, the loan would be higher than 80% of the home’s value. (I didn’t know that was a thing, but, yes, Larry knew it was a thing.)

Larry gave me something else to think about, too. We’ve only got about 12 years left to pay on our home, and when you bundle the closing costs into the mortgage, you raise the amount you owe. In our case, even though we could refinance at a much lower interest rate, in the short term, the savings would be offset by the closing costs.

So the savings would be a wash, unless we commit to this house for the next 10 years. Even though my husband and I have no plans to move, I’m not willing to predict what the next 10 years will bring. Which brought me to a standstill.

Of course, that was in April… flash forward to July!

Right now, Linn Area has a couple of really great special offers that might tip the scales toward refinancing. Because of my earlier chat with Larry, I’m guessing the promotion that offers $250 toward closing costs might not be for me. (It could be perfect for you, though… everyone’s situation is different. Linn Area mortgage specialists will help you figure out what’ll work best!)

Personally, I’m intrigued by the 10 and Done special offer, since I would only have to pay $100 in closing costs. I’ll have to make another appointment with Larry, or one of our other mortgage specialists if he’s not available. (They’re all super-sharp and fun to work with, even if they don’t all homebrew.)

And even though my HELOC-bundling idea didn’t pan out, I really feel like there IS a way for our family to refinance and save some money, especially with the current mortgage offers. If so, I know the Linn Area mortgage team will help me find it!

Hungry for a Tasty New Ride?  by Jan


Boat and SUV on a forkA boat and an SUV on a fork? What’s THAT all about?!?

Well, it’s March, and we know that you’re starting to think about all the fun stuff you want to do… if only you had the right tools and/or toys! (We know you’re thinking about it, because WE’RE thinking about it, too!)

So…? Now is a great time to satisfy your craving for a tasty new ride! Go ahead and get that loan you’ve been thinkin’ about, and we’ll EAT a half percent of your rate! (You knew we would work in that fork somehow.)

I ask you: What are you hungry for? Maybe an RV? An SUV? ATV? Motorcycle? Boat? Car? Truck? We’re happy to serve up any and all of these goodies for you!

Here’s what comes with the main dish:

  • All loans subject to approval.
  • Existing Linn Area loans do not qualify.
  • Loan must be for $5,000 or more.
  • May not be combined with other offers.
  • Minimum of 2.0% APR.
  • Other restrictions may apply.

This blue-plate special is good through March 31, 2016. If you have questions about the menu, ask to speak to a loan chef at (319) 378-0101 or email us at

If you’re ready to stick a fork in it (there’s that fork again!), you can come on in and see us or apply online right now! Bon appetit!

First step to buying a home!  by Tara


Buying a house is a big deal. Big. Huuuuuuge. (Pretty Woman reference, anyone, anyone??) One of the most important steps is getting preapproved. Why? Because the last thing you want to do is go falling in love with a house that you absolutely can’t afford.

Like, I think this house is gorgeous (pool boy is included, right?), but my bank account disagrees:

beautiful backyard with pooloutside of modern mansion

To make sure you’ve got your head in the game and your eye on the right price range, the smartest thing you can do is work with a mortgage officer before you even start daydreaming on the internet. Don’t deny that you’ve been doing it, buddy! Nope, you don’t even have to have a realtor at this point. (We can help you find one if you’re not sure where to start, too!)

So it’s kind of like one of those choose your own ending books of yester-year. You have several options on ways to get preapproved:

  1. Give us a call at 378-0101 ext. 3. Many times we can tell you over he phone in just 10 minutes what you will be preapproved for!
  2. Throw on your PJs and apply online at – fill out as much of the app as you can. A mortgage loan officer will get back to your toute suite!
  3. You can stop into our Blairsferry, Marion or Edgewood Road offices and we can help you get started, face-to-beautiful-face.

Information you’ll want to have available at the time of preapproval (for you AND a co-borrower, if one will be involved): social security number, contact info, employment info, and best estimates of your income and assets.

Taaahhhhhh DAHHH! You’re preapproved! I knew you had it in ya!

Now its time to get out there are find your new home!

Denied? No biggie.  by Tara


I heard something the other day that I wanted to address. Someone told me that they wanted to apply for a loan, but were afraid that they would be rejected. If this happened, the person was worried that they would feel embarrassed.

As someone who truly encompasses the values of LACU, my first reaction is “Ahhhhh! I want to give this person a hug!!!” Okay, now that I have THAT out of my system, I want to scream to the hilltops that we will never, ever judge you. We encourage people to come in, chat with us about your needs and then let us help you figure out how we can save you money or determine if we can help get you that new car you need or the bigger home for that growing family of yours.

But let’s push away the hearts and flowers for a second. I’m going to reveal to you exactly what happens if you are not approved for a loan:

A financial counselor will let you know that you have not qualified at the time. Instead of laughing at you (which would never happen here!) or kicking you out the door, the financial counselor will go through your credit report with you. Together, you’ll look at what portions might be, well, bruised. Based on what the credit report says, the financial counselor will be able suggest things you can do to start improving your credit right away. You might even be able to determine a timeline as to when you could reapply for whatever loan you were hoping for.

What’s helpful about this process is that once you see the good, the bad, and even sometimes the ugly on your credit report, you’ll finally be able to determine a plan of attack. I truly believe that a PLAN is the key to achieving your goals!

You should know that we are required by law to give you a denial notice. The notice contains all sorts of information, including your credit score, contact info for the credit bureau that we obtained your credit report from, and information on how you can obtain a free copy of your credit report (you just have to mail that denial notice into the credit bureau we got your info from).

Also, a denial is never listed on your credit report and does not negatively impact your score. For example, if you were denied a loan from us, your credit report would say that Linn Area Credit Union had an inquiry, but it does not say that you were not approved.

I hope that this has taken out some of the mystery for you curious folks. We will always remain professional and you’ll even receive some great financial advice to help improve your future! See, there really is a silver lining to a denial!

When Loans Get Personal  by Tara


Life happens when you can least afford it. Come on, you know exactly what I mean. It seems like the worst – and most expensive – things happen at the most inconvenient times. 

My husband and I are expecting our first child, which I hear can be rather expensive! In preparation for the little one, we’ve been very careful with our finances. Now, we may have one on the way, but we already have a fur-baby, a 2 year old Yorkie mix named Wrigley. Little Wrigley weighs in at a hefty 4.5 lbs and is pretty much convinced he’s a human. Yeah, that’s probably my fault. 

Anyway, Wrigley fell severely ill from some sort of random bacteria. After three consecutive visits to the vet, we needed to take him to a 24/7 veterinary hospital. Our little guy had to stay under their care for about 48 hours. We were fortunate enough that we had access to money to cover this unexpected, but necessary cost. Although I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if we weren’t able to cover the cost… 

Sure, the vet hospital has financing options, but I definitely wouldn’t have been comfortable going that route unless it was absolutely necessary. I needed a trusted PERSON I could talk to, especially in such an emotional state. What on Earth would we have done? 

Wait, better question: What could Linn Area have done to help us out? 

I spent a little bit of time with one of our financial counselors, JoAnn, to find out what would happen if someone such as myself would have called upon Linn Area for help.

JoAnn first reminded me that one of our strengths is that we are PEOPLE who get to know PEOPLE. She said that the first thing she would have done is listen to the entire story. Next she would have started asking questions about current accounts, loans and assets, searching for ways to help me get the lowest rate possible. One of the very first things she would look for is whether or not I had a current car loan (which I do!). Depending on how much I already had paid off, increasing or extending the loan might be a possibility. Another thought was that I could take out a small signature loan and set up automatic payments so that I didn’t have to worry about remembering to pay it at a certain time each month. I could also take out a Home Equity Line of Credit to cover my unexpected expenses. Even opening a credit card could be another solid option (imagine all those Rewards points if I went that route!). 

I seriously couldn’t believe all the options we had available! And, remember, even if you’re not currently a member, Linn Area would be happy to help you! (Yes, you’d have to become a member, but that’s super easy!) 

I was comforted to know that here at Linn Area Credit Union we truly will do whatever we can to help you out. Is it possible in every scenario? Unfortunately, no. But we will listen to your story, bend over backwards and hopefully it ends up mutually beneficial. 

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, Wrigley is back to his vibrant, healthy self again!