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Browsing Refinance

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!

Tara’s Refinance Story  by Tara


“Rates are at a historic low! Now is the time to refinance!”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you’ve heard this at least a dozen times. When my husband and I became homeowners in 2008, we locked into a rate that our loan officer was ecstatic about because it was “so low!” As the years passed, the rates got lower and lower. Just like you, I kept hearing, “The rates are lower than we’ve ever seen! NOW is the time to refinance!”

The idea of refinancing kind of scared me. It sounded almost as fun as going to the dentist or listening to an album featuring nails on a chalkboard. My husband and I had avoided it like the plague until September of this year. Rumor was if your APR was 4.00% or higher, you absolutely needed to look into refinancing. People seemed to be saving a ridiculous amount of money – and, since our APR was higher than 4.00%, I thought it was worth a shot.

What’s really cool about our mortgage department is that they can tell you pretty quickly (either in person or over the phone) whether or not you’d save money by refinancing. My husband and I sat down with one of our helpful mortgage loan officers who ran through several scenarios (15 year, 30 year, various other combos). The loan officer seemed to be almost as excited as we were about the difference refinancing would ultimately make in the life of our loan.

Many people find that they can reduce the amount of money they would have to pay each month. We decided to keep our payments the same and, instead, shorten the life of our loan. Thanks to our refinance, we will have our house paid off 8 to 10 years faster than if we had ignored all the yammering about historically low rates. Yes, we did have to bring a little money to the table

Curious about the process? Let me give you the nutshell version:

We met with a loan officer and locked into a new, much lower rate at the end of September. My husband and I had to provide some paperwork, such as our most recent pay stubs, most recent mortgage statement, and our most recent bank statements. (DON’T WORRY! These things are super easy to get your hands on, thanks to online access to accounts! You just need to print stuff off instead of digging through the piles of paperwork you have stored away.)

Linn Area Credit Union selected an appraiser, who then contacted me for an appointment. This was the part I was most nervous about, but it was super easy. You don’t have to clean to closets out, TRUST ME! The appraiser is looking at the overall big picture, not the dust bunnies. Not that I have any of those… Anyway, he had performed the appraisal and returned all of the documents within 3 weeks of us locking into our rate!

Now here’s the part where you get to kick back and relax while Linn Area Credit Union takes care of the rest behind the scenes. What kinds of things are they doing? I’ll sum it up in one word: PAPERWORK. Bleck. So glad we didn’t have to deal with any of that jazz! Occasionally, they’ll need a little more info from you if requested by the underwriters (dun dun dunnnn). We had to resubmit our latest mortgage statement. *shrug* Whatever, no biggie. The next time I had to do anything for our refi was when I was asked what a good time of day would be for our closing. I’m serious! It was THAT easy. Heck, I spent more time signing documents at closing than I did on the rest of the process combined!

Our entire refi process took about 45 days, but they can take up to 60.

So if you’ve been dragging your feet thinking that refinancing was going to be too big of a pain in the tuckus, please at least call one of our loan officers at (319) 378-0101 ex.3 to see if you’re missing a HUGE opportunity! You can also check out rates, find out about our loan officers or apply online at

WE WANT TO KNOW: Have you refinanced? How much did you save??

Member Success Story: An easy $2000  by Nick


What would you do with an extra $2,000? For real-skies. 

I recently had a member come in to talk about getting a boat loan. As I began the going through the application process, I noticed that this member had a loan with another financial institution. They mentioned that it was a car loan. That is when my AH-HA! moment occurred! 

The member let me know that he had locked into a 5% APR rate, which was looking pretty good at the time he initially got the loan. However, our loan rates at Linn Area recently dropped, allowing us to be more competitive than ever. Because of this, I could not only lower his auto rate from 5% APR to 3.25%, but I that was able to shorten the term a little. 

For fun, I did the math to see exactly how much money this fancy financial finagling would save the member over the life of his loan. Any guesses out there?

Are you ready for this? 

It was a total of 2 grand. I’ll give you a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor.

The member looked at me and exclaimed, “Did you just save me $2,000 dollars in less than 20 minutes?!?!”

 I was thrilled to nod my head saying, “Oh, yeah. That just happened.”

 I’ve never seen someone’s face light up as much as his did. I was ecstatic to make these members start off 2011 on the right foot.

 This obviously isn’t the first time I’ve been able to save a member lots of money by helping them refinance an auto loan. It certainly won’t be the last! I’m willing to bet that most of you who are reading this had no idea that you could actually refinance an auto loan. Not only can it save you big bucks, but it’s a very quick and painless process. I’d say the average auto refi takes me all of 30 minutes.

So if you have an existing loan at another bank or from a dealership and are curious about saving some money, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or check out our Linn Area website to see how much we can save you. To be honest, we love saving our members’ bling almost as much as they do!

What would YOU do with an extra $2,000? Tell us in the comments below.