Take Steps to Refinance Your Mortgage

Low mortgage rates and revived home prices make this a smart time for qualified home owners to refinance mortgages. The key word is “qualified.”

Many homeowners stayed on the sidelines in recent refi rounds as they learned—or believed—they could not meet a lender’s loan requirements. But you should not assume you still are out of the running for a better mortgage rate. Call or drop in to see a Hopewell Federal Credit Union home loan specialist and sort through your options.

Here are ways we can help you decide if this is a smart time for you to refinance:

Calculate your break-even point. This is how soon you will recoup the cost of refinancing through lower monthly payments. If the cost to refinance is $2,125 and your monthly savings is $125, your breakeven point is 17 months (2,125 divided by 125).
Ask about fees. If you’re paying $3,000 in fees to slash monthly payments by $50, refinancing doesn’t make sense if you plan to sell in three years.
Look at a fixed-rate instead of an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). Despite a slightly lower rate on ARMs, the differential isn’t worth the higher risk of an ARM.
Consider job stability. Switching from a 30-year to a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage reduces the total interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan. But if you lose your job, you’ll be stuck with higher payments you might not be able to afford. If job stability is a concern, keep a 30-year loan and consider increasing your monthly payment now—while you have a job—to the rate it would be for a 15-year fixed-rate loan.

Think about taking these steps as you get ready to approach a lender:

Clean up your credit. A credit score of 740 or more, plus 20% equity in your house, likely will get you the best interest rate.
Shop for the best rate. Start right here at Hopewell Federal Credit Union and ask about options and rates. Get good faith estimates to compare offers before you formally apply.
Collect documentation. You’ll likely need to provide recent pay stubs, two years of W-2s, proof of home insurance, two months of financial statements, and—if you’re self-employed—two years of tax returns.

Remember, you can always have a no-obligation conversation with a Hopewell Federal home loan specialist to explore your options and to get the ball rolling.

The 7 Most Reliable New Cars

Knowing that there is only a slim chance your vehicle will require frequent and costly repairs can provide valuable peace of mind.

To help with that, we have compiled a list of seven of the most reliable cars you can buy—from subcompacts to luxury sedans.

Subcompact
Honda Fit-The Fit offers an unusual combination of roomy hauling capacity, the latest technology, and high gas mileage—at a price of less than $20,000 for most versions. The Fit offers good acceleration compared with competitors but is rated for 33 mpg in city driving and 41 mpg on the highway when equipped with automatic transmission.

Compact
Honda Civic00-A top seller among small cars, the Civic has a comfortable ride, a smooth transmission, and is rated for 28 mpg in city driving and 36 mpg on the highway. List price on the Civic ranges from $18,290 to $29,390.

Midsize car
Toyota Camry–The Camry, the best-selling car in the U.S., is a perennial reliability winner. The Camry comes standard with a four-cylinder engine (25 mpg city, 35 mpg highway) but also has an optional V-6 (21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway). Camry list prices range from $22,970 to $31,370.

Large car
Buick LaCrosse–LaCrosse not only looks like a new-style Buick, it sports some of the latest technology. It offers a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot that can stream music or videos to several devices at once. And the LaCrosse offers a partial hybrid version called eAssist that is rated for 25 mpg in city driving and 36 mpg on the highway. The standard V-6 engine is ranked at 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway.

Small SUV
Kia Sportage–For drivers who like brisk acceleration and sharp handling, the Sportage is a good choice. At a time when many new car owners complain of confusing controls, test drivers found the controls in the Sportage easy to use. List price for the Sportage ranges from $21,900 to $29,600.

Midsize SUV
Buick Enclave–For families needing three rows of seats, Enclave offers good value in this high-priced category with list prices ranging from $39,050 to $49,305. Enclave comes with a V-6 engine rated by the EPA for 17 mpg in city driving and 24 mpg on the highway—about standard among its competitors.

Luxury car
Mercedes-Benz E-Class–Mercedes offers E-class sedans and coupes, convertibles and wagons. And there is a big choice of engines, from a V-6 and V-6 hybrid to the 577 horsepower V-8 in the performance model E63 AMG S. List prices range from $51,800 to $103,200.