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Ways to Help the Environment: Part 2

Apr 30
8:00
AM
Category | General

Ways to Help the Environment: Part 2

If you missed last week’s article on how you can reduce your carbon footprint, check out Part 1 on sustainability and the multitude of ways you can create a long-lasting green home and healthy environment.

This week the focus is on commuting and home and business improvements. Let’s dive in!

Home and business improvements – improving your earth-friendly habits can be inside and outside your home or business. Since you take great care in your home’s maintenance, you can add one or two of these green ideas to extend the benefits of a healthier environment.

  • Seasonal ‘to-do list’
    • Preparing your home for seasonal changes, benefits how efficiently your house or business is running. This includes sealing up cracks and holes, to not waste heat and energy. It may also help save money. We have several ideas on what you can do for each season to help keep your home in tip-top shape: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
  • Hazardous waste
    • Every home is bound to have harmful substances lurking around. Whether it’s motor oil, old computers, weed killers, or something similar, dispose of it properly. Call your local government or visit their website to find drop-off sites for these items.
  • Grow plants
    • Indoor plants can help filter air. So, grab a fern, rubber plant for palm tree to use as a natural air filter! Bring one into the office; it will brighten up your workspace and provides oxygen and natural filtration.
  • Get rid of toxic products
    • There are so many eco-friendly cleaners now, or you could make your own! Invest in some good glass bottles, and you are reducing the amount of plastic waste and toxic runoff.
  • Water wisely
    • This is for inside and outside the house! Be aware of your water usage while brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, and even flushing the toilet! “Up to a third of the drinking water that comes into the typical Western home goes straight down the toilet.” source
    • Put a timer on your sprinklers. You could even check the weather to make sure they won’t get a double dose if rain is in the forecast. If you have the space, you could use a bucket or something similar to collect rain water to water your plants on dry days.
  • Solar panels
    • Having a renewable energy source for your home or business means good news for the planet and environment. There are no emissions when running, it gathers energy from the sun, and it may reduce your carbon footprint. Once installed, they require little to no maintenance, and they last approximately 50 years, so you should be set for years to come. Check with your local government and tax professional to see if your city or state offers additional deductions or kickbacks for have residential solar energy. The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy has a guide for homeowners if you want to learn more.

Leave the car at home: Some folks have already swapped out their mode of transportation for an eco-friendly alternative. If you haven’t, consider some of these options:

  • Bike to work
  • Public transportation
    • This may not be your first choice, giving recent social distancing, but as we adjust as a nation, this might be a benefit you would enjoy. Riding the subway, train or metro could give you extra time to catch up on emails or even read that book you don’t have time for.
  • Share a ride
  • Telecommute
    • For many, working from home is the new norm these days. Even if there is an option to go back to work, maybe you can work from home a couple of times a week; every little bit helps.
  • Shop from home
    • Don’t pretend you don’t do this already; we see those Amazon boxes on your doorstep. To improve your online shopping, choose the option to bulk ship items together even if it takes longer to get to you, and select companies with eco-friendly and recyclable packaging.

The RMS Difference

  • 95% of our staff have been working from home this past year. When the offices open, there will be an option to do a combo of returning to the office and working from home.
  • When a new team member is hired, onboarding is virtual and paperless and has been for the last four years.
  • All RMS employee files electronic as of June 2020.

There are many simple steps that you can take to help the environment from the comfort of your own home. Being conscious of the decisions you are making as a consumer and a homeowner can make a big impact on your carbon footprint. RMS is dedicated to putting on our green-thinking cap and improving our work environment while supporting our Team, and current and future homeowners.


General

Ways to Help the Environment: Part 1

Apr 23
8:00
PM
Category | General

Ways to Help the Environment: Part 1

Sustainable living has come a long way. Pretty much everything we do seems to influence the planet and the next generation’s future. Every little piece helps. Doing your part for the environment used to look like separating your plastic and paper in a blue recycling bin on a weekly basis. These days, there is so much more you can do to create a long-lasting green home and healthy environment.

Want to know how you can help?

There are simple and understandable ways you can contribute to a healthier Earth. In this two-part series you can read up about lots of less obvious, but no less important, earth-friendly habits.

Reduce, reuse, recycle: As obvious as this seems, it can be more than just putting your bin out every week. There are a few ways you can up your recycle game and lessen your waste.

  • Check out your plastics
    • Fun Facts: five plastic bottles (PET) recycled provide enough fiber to create one square foot of carpet. Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every HOUR. Recycling one ton of plastic bottles is the equivalent energy usage of a two-person household for one year.
  • Bags, bottles, and cups, oh my
    • Start by bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. If you don’t have any, they have plenty of options to choose from. If you ALWAYS forget yours, try keeping them in the car once you’re done unloading the groceries. If that still doesn’t work, most grocery stores have an area that you can recycle the plastic bags that you use.
    • Don’t just throw them away! Next, get rid of those one-use plastic bottles! Find a fun water bottle and show your style, BPA-free if possible.
  • Clothes, toys, and unwanted items
    • There are so many donation options. Check out your local listings to find one close to you. Or, if there is a charity near and dear to your heart, consider reaching out to friends and family to have one big load to donate.
    • There are non-profit companies in cities that help struggling adults and homeless prepare, and dress, for interviews and other important life markers. Your dress, or nice pair of pants could be just what that person needs to make the right impression and get their life going in the direction they want.
    • For oversized items, make a few calls to local churches. Sometimes they will pick up for free for a family that needs a slightly worn couch or bed.
  • Composting
    • Keep your scraps of food for a natural nutrient enhancer for your garden. You can also mix it with your yard clippings for a soil-boosting combo. If that seems too complicated, or if you live in an apartment and don't have space, check to see if your area has a curbside composting service. These Garbage to Garden services have a weekly pick up. Then, when the weather is right, they deliver a bag of compost to put in your garden. It supports your local economy and makes composting accessible for everyone.
  • Technology
    • It's easy for our various electronics to end up in landfills. Our tech gets obsolete so fast these days; who can keep up! Electronic waste totals approximately 2% of the waste in the U.S. These toxic metals and plastics that are making up our waste can also be recycled. Best Buy, Staples, Apple, and even Amazon have recycling programs. There can be fees associated, so check with your local retailer.

Save your energy: Take a look inside your home and make a plan. When you consume less power, you reduce toxic fumes released into the air. Do you know what your carbon footprint is? Try EPA's Household Carbon Footprint Calculator to estimate your annual greenhouse gas emissions. By taking steps to reduce your energy intake, you’ll contribute to a healthier and happier world.

  • Turn off your lights
    • It may seem obvious, but make sure the family is turning off lights when not in the room. You can install a timer for outside lights that automatically turns them on and off at designated times. Or you could install motion detector lights, so the lights are only on when needed.
    • You can also start replacing your lightbulbs with LED bulbs. LED typically use 25%-80% less energy than traditional. LED lights are also of better quality and have a longer lifespan. It’s a win-win!
  • Appliances
    • When it comes time to upgrade your stove or refrigerator, look into one that is energy efficient. You may save on your utility bills, and if used correctly, it will extend the working life of the appliance. Look for the Energy Star label. It is the symbol for energy efficiency created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. This means the appliance is significantly more energy-efficient than the minimum government standard. Learn more at www.energystar.gov
    • Even small things like waiting for a full load before doing laundry or running the dishwasher will help over time. Don’t forget to clean the air filter in the dryer and think about airdrying clothes in the upcoming months. Yay Spring!
  • Phantom power
    • Plug your TV, DVD player, and/or VCR into a power strip, then when you turn off your TV at night, turn off the power strip.  This way, they won’t be drawing “phantom power” when not in use.

Upping your food game – wasting food also squanders resources (like water and energy) that went into the production of that food. Here are some easy ways to shop and eat more efficiently to waste less food.

  • Make a plan
    • We all have our favorite foods that we consistently get at the store, but how often do you grab this or that as you’re going down the aisle because inspiration strikes or you’re hungry? Taking on the task of food shopping with a list and a meal plan for the week will reduce the amount you buy (save money) and hopefully reduce the amount of food that goes bad after making too much. If you still buy more than you can eat, consider donating it to your local food kitchen or food bank, especially around the holidays.
  • Leftovers
    • Breathe new life into what seems like the same old meal day after day. Meal planning can, after all, be boring on the tastebuds. Simple proteins can be turned into fun sandwiches, stews, or casserole. Once you start finding inventive ways to reinvent your extras, everyone will come to the tables for leftovers!
  • Plant a garden 
    • Plant an edible garden. Not only will your yard look beautiful, you will save money on groceries. If you don’t have a lot of space, there are quite a few options for patio pickers and container gardening for a few of your favorite veggies and herbs.
  • Protein sources
    • Cows release more greenhouse gas than any other protein source. For a change, switch out one of your hamburgers for a veggie burger or a nice piece of fish. Try having a meatless Monday for a month and see how you feel. You might like the change!

The RMS Difference

  • RMS has recycling habits for paper, plastic, glass, and cans. Our corporate office has flatware, cutlery, and a dishwasher to reduce single-use plastic and paper.
  • One update RMS has made, is introducing our RMS Ready mobile app (a convenient and secure application for uploading documents). We are continuing to find ways to make your home financing experience as paperless as possible.
  • RMS also uses cloud-based software for better industry updates and team processes. In addition, our IT team recycles hardware when applicable.

There’s endless possibilities, we hope this gives you some ideas to start a “green” to-do list today! Earth Day 2021 is on Thursday, April 22. We hope you join us in celebrating the environment and making small changes every day to improve the impact we have, to restore our Earth. Stay tuned next week as we continue the Earth-friendly education series!


General

What you may need to have with you at the closing table

There is great wisdom in the motto “always be prepared.” It is important whether you are in the market to buy a house for the first, second or third time.

As we've discussed in the past, buying a house is composed of a series of processes, from mortgage shopping, applying for a loan, looking for the right house and making an offer. As its title suggests, closing is the culmination of it all, where the seller, buyer, listing agent and other parties sign the paperwork to make the transfer of ownership official. Here are a few of the things — and people — you may need to have readily available at the closing table and why:

Your closing team

While you may be the one living in your house, several people help make closing on your home happen and you may need to have them with you during closing. These individuals may include an escrow officer, attorney, title insurance agent, real estate agent and your co-signatory, among others. These are generally the main people involved in closing transactions. The seller will have their team assembled as well. Your real estate agent and/or loan officer should be able to assist in making sure the necessary parties are there. The closing company involved in the transaction will also be able to provide guidance.

The proper materials

There’s a lot of paperwork at the closing table; all the i's must be dotted and t's crossed. Here are some items that you may need to bring, as recommended by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

  • A cashier's check or proof of wire transfer

  • Personal identification, such as a photo ID or drivers' license - (Your current photo ID proves who you are and protects against fraudulent transactions)

  • Your checkbook

Each of these items serves a specific purpose. For instance, mortgage companies require you to purchase homeowners insurance as a precondition to extending a loan. The declarations page of a homeowners insurance policy should be sufficient verification you've done so. You may also need to show documentation that you're up-to-date on your premium payments.

A cashier's check from your bank is traditionally used to cover certain closing expenses. Some of these funds, for example, may go toward the down payment. Plus, a cashier's check guarantees you have the funds to cover the expenses. These are also called certified checks. Wire transfer is another method of doing this and is often leveraged for security purposes.

Your checkbook is mainly "just in case." This is typically used to reimburse the seller for gas or propane that may be left in the tank.

Other things you may need

It's safe to say that no two closings are perfectly identical. With so many moving parts, some things or people you may need for one may not be relevant for another. What may be required is documentation associated with the home inspection. As Homelight notes, there are usually two home inspections: One is paid for and handled by the seller, and the other by the buyer. They also generally happen at different stages. The seller's inspection normally takes place prior to putting the home up for sale; the buyer's occurs upon placing an offer on a home.

Depending on the findings on the inspection, the terms of the purchase agreement may change, such as if there are safety issues or repairs that need to be taken care of. Ideally, these problems can be addressed before closing, but they may be hashed out at the closing table. For instance, a buyer may decide to take care of required fixes that would normally be the seller's responsibility. This is a scenario where it pays for both the seller and buyer to bring their checkbooks.

Ensuring a smooth closing experience is all about knowing what to expect. At Residential Mortgage Services, we'll help you every step of the way. Contact us today.


General

Looking Back at 2020

Dec 24
8:00
AM
Category | General

Looking Back at 2020

2020 has been a challenging year for all industries and communities alike. The pandemic has brought obstacles for every industry, and has changed the way many of us do business. In this year of uncertainty, giving back to the community and working together is more important than ever. Residential Mortgage Services, Inc. (RMS)  has given back to communities within its footprint, while supporting it’s own employees through this unprecedented time.

Beyond helping guide their clients home, RMS has always been committed to giving back to the communities they serve. Over the course of the past year, the Company has made financial contributions to 14 local food banks across its footprint that provided over 30,000 meals to those in need. RMS also donated over $50,930 to local charities in November and December 2020, with half of the donations coming from RMS employees. These donations represent RMS's commitment to the regions in which it operates, as COVID-19 has led to record-breaking unemployment, economic disruption and food insecurity.

RMS’s employees also are very active within the communities that they live and work in. Up and down the East Coast, RMS employees volunteer, donate, champion causes and help. Here are just a few of the great contributions our employees and RMS made in our communities last year.

Through this pandemic, RMS has operated with over 90% of employees working from home. Record breaking 2020 volume levels tested the capacity limits of the Company’s Sales and Operations Teams. Employees have remained vigilant and adapted to new protocols and processes to keep business running smoothly. Productivity levels are higher than ever, and they attribute this to RMS employees embracing and supporting the spirit of teamwork and collaboration across all areas of the company.

Wishing you and your family a happy holiday season, and a wonderful New Year!


General

Medical Professional Mortgage Loan Programs

People who are fresh out of medical school may be concerned they won’t qualify for a mortgage because of their unique circumstances. Thankfully, there are mortgage loan programs that are designed to help medical professionals achieve their dreams of homeownership.

What is a Medical Professional Loan Program? 

Tailored to meet the needs of residents, medical doctors within 10 years of residency, dentists and veterinarians, the Medical Professional Mortgage Loan Program may be the ideal lending solution for individuals working in the medical field. This type of loan program considers the timeline of those who went to medical school, and can help those who may have accumulated student debt, purchase or refinance a home.

It may be possible to not include student loans in the debt-to-income ratio (DTI) if evidenced they are in deferment for at least 12 months after closing.

The Medical Professional loan program also has a feature that allows for delayed employment if the borrower will be employed within 60 days after closing. This feature is available to newly licensed medical students who are beginning new employment or residency within 60 days of closing; or new medical professional graduates who are under contract for residency and are starting within 60 days of closing. This is especially helpful for medical professionals who are trying to coordinate home financing before the start of their new job or residency. Requirements that must be met for a borrower to use this feature are:

  • Provide a fully executed employment agreement/contract that identifies the terms of employment, including position, rate of pay, and start date. The agreement/contract must be non-contingent. Contingencies include drug tests and background checks. A letter from the employer clearing all contingencies is required, if applicable.

  • Employment start date referenced on agreement/contract must be within 60 days of note date.

  • Applicant must document reserves sufficient to cover the monthly liabilities included in the DTI ratio, as well as the PITIA (principal, interest, taxes, insurance and association fees - if applicable) for the subject property, for the number of months between the note date and the employment start date.

  • A verbal verification of employment (VVOE) must be completed that meets Pre-Funding Employment Verification guide supporting the executed employment agreement/contract terms.

These factors make homeownership much more achievable for medical professionals after completing their studies.

Who Qualifies for a Medical Professional Loan?

These loan programs are designed for medical doctors, those who have chosen a medical researcher position and newly licensed medical residents who are currently employed in residency or fellowship. Keep in mind, a copy of the borrower’s current state issued medical license or equivalent, is required to document eligibility. It is important to note that after graduating medical school, new doctors are awarded a provisional medical license to complete their residency. In addition to the license or equivalent, if a borrower is in a researcher position, the verification of employment (VOE) must provide support that the position is utilizing their doctorate skills.

If you are interested in learning more about medical professional loan programs, or other aspects of homeownership, please contact RMS today!


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