Preparing for Back to School During Pandemic

This year, back to school will look incredibly different with the uncertainties of COVID creating many what-ifs and maybes for the start of 2020 school year. Will your children be going back in-person, with or without masks, virtual or even a hybrid of both?

There’s no question it’s stressful planning for so many unknowns. So, here are a few ways to help you and your family proactively prepare for “back to school” – whatever that may look like this year for your children.

Preparing for Back to School – Remote Learning

  • Create a designated work-space in your home to help your little learners focus. Check out these awesome ideas for inspiration
  • Make sure that all computers and programs are up to date and your Wi-Fi is working properly, providing the speed necessary to accommodate virtual learning
  • Keep all necessary log-in information/assignment lists/etc. somewhere easily accessible
  • Set and communicate a schedule with your children and stick to it. Try to keep school hours as normal as your own schedule allows
  • Reduce distractions, but also remember that just like you, kids need breaks! Figure out a healthy balance
  • Don’t teach – help! Remember that you don’t necessarily need to become the teacher, but the helper with learning, communicating and ensuring assignments are being completed
  • Reach out to your children’s teachers if you have questions about expectations, processes or school work to better assure your kids stay on track
  • Stay positive and flexible. This is a tough time for everyone and having a good attitude for your children is more important than ever

Preparing for Back to School – In Classroom Learning

  • Do daily COVID checks before sending your child to school. If your child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above, keep them home
  • Contact the school to discuss safety protocols and who you should check in with if your child has symptoms
  • Talk to the teachers about what safety measures are being taken in the classroom and what the learning will look like during this time
  • Talk to your kids about safety protocols and send them to school prepared. Pack their bag with hand sanitizer, face coverings, their own designated water bottles, etc.
  • Practice daily routines for after school such as washing hands, sanitizing and washing face coverings when they return home
  • Plan transportation ahead of time. Will your child be taking the bus? Carpooling? Or will you be driving them? Take necessary safety measures for your specific situation
  • Plan for the unexpected. Whether that be school closings, reopening, or the possibility of one of your children becoming infected, make a plan as to how you and your family will respond

Preparing for Back to School – A Hybrid Model

  • Use the tips above for both remote and in classroom learning to assist you in planning for in-person versus remote learning days

Finally, be patient and flexible.

As schools continue to create safe and effective learning environments during the pandemic, things may change in their teaching delivery models. It’s key to be ready for both because things may change quickly based on local situations. Most importantly, focus on your own children to ensure their experience is as calm, safe and effective as can be. For more on planning for in-school learning, click here for a full checklist from the CDC

Stay at Home Safety Tips

Coping with COVID-19 has been hard on all of us. The worry, the fear and the wonder of when normal life will resume can feel both consuming and exhausting.  

With all of us spending the majority of our time at home in quarantine, it’s important to make sure your space provides a safe haven for you and your family.

These essential tips will help you stay safe at home and hopefully bring you some peace of mind during this uncertain time.

1. Be Cautious

Take every day preventative steps to ensure you are staying safe and keeping your home clean by:

  • Washing your hands frequently
  • Avoiding touching your face
  • Covering your cough or sneeze
  • Wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing when you go out in public
  • Cleaning countertops, door handles and other areas of your home frequently

Ensure your home is safe for you and your family by:

  • Keeping all safety hazards such as cleaning supplies and medication out of reach of children
  • Testing your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Creating a fire escape plan
  • Anchoring furniture to prevent dangerous accidents
  • Covering outlets, adding child locks and setting up safety gates around the home

2. Have a Plan

Take a moment to discuss a plan of action in case someone in your home becomes sick. Consider the following to ensure safety:

  • Watch for the following symptoms
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
  • Designate a room in your home to keep the ill person away from others
  • Continue to wash your hands frequently and disinfect surfaces and other areas in your home
  • Avoid sharing personal items
  • Check in on your family members to see how they are feeling physically and mentally
  • Stay informed of your local outbreak situation and get up to date info from your public health officials

3. Love your Home

We’re staying at home now more than ever before. This makes it a great time to put some extra love into your space to make it feel clean and cozy. Try the following to put some extra love into your home:

4. Go Outside

It’s important for your physical and mental health to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. We recommend:

  • Going for walks/hiking
  • Gardening/yard work
  • Getting some exercise – try going for a bike ride, run, or completing an outdoor workout
  • Playing yard games
  • Eating your meals or having a drink outdoors
  • Getting creative with sidewalk chalk
  • Camping in the back yard

We are Here for You

With all of us practicing social distancing, and many of us experiencing the state-mandated shut-down of many businesses, we want to assure you that Inlanta Mortgage has remained fully operational and working on your loans.

If you have any questions about your current loan, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your loan advisor directly.  

If you’re interested in a new loan to refinance or purchase a new home, or have any other mortgage questions, please contact us to find a loan advisor near you.

3 Tips to Run a Successful Virtual Meeting Presentation

Have an online meeting you need to prepare for? We’ve got you covered.

With physical meetings and office presentations going virtual, it can feel difficult and even a bit awkward at first to transition into a remote environment. However, with these key tips, you’ll soon be successfully hosting your own virtual meeting like a pro.

  • Plan Ahead

Whether you are meeting in person or online, it is always best to plan ahead. Begin by deciding your meeting goal or objectives and then create a clear agenda to stay on topic and avoid wasting time.  

Once you have your meeting outlined, decide how much time you will need to efficiently cover everything (along with a Q&A portion at the end of the meeting) and then determine what time of day is best for everyone’s schedule.

Remember that communication is key – especially when you are unable to see/speak with your coworkers face to face, so be sure to send out the agenda with your meeting invite to your participants ahead of time to prepare them on what you will be covering and when.  

  • Prepare your Surroundings

Whether you have a home office or are making due working at the kitchen table, make sure your work space is neat and tidy and that you will be able to conduct your meeting in a quiet environment.

This can be difficult with little ones, so if you are unable to receive help with childcare, simply let your team know ahead of time that you may have a noisy little coworker pop in here and there.

It is also important to prepare yourself for the meeting by looking professional as you would if you were having a typical meeting in the office. While a suit and tie are surely not required, you will want to look presentable to your audience and show enthusiasm for what you will be covering.     

  • Engage your Audience

When having a virtual meeting, distractions are inevitable. Engage your audience with meeting tools such as sharing your screen, doing a poll/Q&A portion, hand raising, as well as chat to help maintain interest.

You will also want to have some questions prepared to help involve participants as much as possible. Check out these tips for more on how you can engage with your audience using Zoom.

While this may be a bit uncomfortable at first, remember that we are all in this together and need to embrace the “new normal” of successfully connecting remotely with our fellow employees.

We are Here for You

We hope that you stay safe and healthy during this time! Like so many of you, we have spent the last several weeks learning about COVID-19 and how it is impacting our world in ways that change almost daily. With all of us practicing social distancing, and many of us experiencing the state-mandated shut-down of many businesses, we want to assure you that Inlanta Mortgage has remained fully operational and working on your loans.

If you have any questions about your current loan, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your loan advisor directly.  

If you’re interested in a new loan to refinance or purchase a new home, or have any other mortgage questions, please contact us to find a loan advisor near you.

Top Tips to Remember When Moving to a New Home

Moving to a new home (at least, new to you) is usually an exciting time. Learning the layout of the home, enjoying the neighborhood and getting accustomed to a major change brings about a lot of emotions. Here are some handy tips and mistakes to avoid when you are ready for your next move.

Don’t Hang on to Stuff

Most of us acquire stuff throughout our lives and feel that we need to hold on to all of it. However, most people have items stashed in cupboards and closets that we don’t really need. Instead of packing it away and finding a hiding place for it at the next home, sell it online through sites like Craigslist or eBay, or donate it to a local non-profit.

Make Sure to Notify the Right People in Advance

Moving to a new place can seem like a nightmare if there is no electricity or running water. That is why it is a good idea to contact all the local utilities well in advance of the move and get on their schedule.  Each local agency, such as the internet provider, electrical utility and the water & trash agencies will have their own individual rules and schedules, so you will need to contact them all.

Also, get in touch with the post office and fill out a change of address card. This will help get mail diverted to your new location. Also, let all your creditors know of your new address.

Pack for Emergency

Regardless of how much planning you do, mistakes happen.  The water may be set to get turned on the day AFTER you move in, or the electricity may get turned on only to discover there is an issue with the fuse box.  Pack a small bag with an extra change of clothes and snacks.  If you are forced to spend the night with relatives, or at a hotel, you will have a bag packed and ready to go without the need for opening multiple boxes to search for a suitable outfit.

Change the Locks

If you are handy with tools, changing the locks on the exterior doors is always a good idea.  Since you don’t know who has had access to the home, you really have no clue how many extra keys are floating around to your particular place.  Setting up new locks will give you a little peace of mind and control over who has access to the place.

By following this advice and getting the movers lined up in advance of the big day, you should reduce the stress that comes from moving to a different home.

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is just around the corner! While this haunting holiday is often a magical time of year for kids filled with candy, costumes, trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and more, parents know that Halloween festivities can turn from fun to scary quickly.

That’s why we’ve put together some top tips to help keep you and your family safe this Halloween.

Trick or Treat Tips:

  • Make sure kids under 12 are always accompanied by an adult during trick-or-treat
  • For older kids who plan to go alone with friends, discuss specific routes and a timeline
  • Remind your kids about stranger danger, and to never get into a car with someone they don’t know
  • Have kids use the buddy system to ensure no one gets lost or separated
  • Instruct children to walk slowly, look both ways before crossing the street, use crosswalks and follow traffic signals
  • Adults need to stay off electronics and keep their heads up and vision clear at all times. Older kids should do the same
  • Keep your kid’s costumes safe by adding reflective tape and stickers, and avoid masks that can obstruct vision. Consider using face-paint instead
  • Offer your kids flashlights or glow sticks to carry with them to help light the way and make them more visible to cars
  • If you’re out and about, drive more slowly and stay extra alert through residential areas, and enter/exit driveways and alleyways with caution
  • If you’re attending a party, drink responsibly and arrange for a designated driver to get home safely

For more on Halloween safety, please visit the National Safety Council website today. We hope these tips help prepare you to have a safe and spooky fun holiday. Happy Halloween from all of us at Inlanta Mortgage!

Fraud Awareness and Prevention

Fraud Awareness and Prevention

Fraud, or the broad term describing wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain is, unfortunately, something that happens everywhere, every day, negatively affecting the lives of many.

Fortunately, there are ways one can prevent falling victim to fraudulent acts, starting with educating oneself on the types of dangerous fraud schemes out there as well as what to watch out for.

Mortgage Fraud:

Mortgage fraud happens which is why it is crucial to work with a lender you can trust. According to stopfraud.gov, traditional mortgage fraud involves homebuyers and/or lenders falsifying information in order to obtain a home loan. Struggling homeowners are also often affected by “foreclosure rescue firms” claiming they can help these struggling individuals obtain home loans ultimately leaving them in more debt and distress. The first thing to watch out for in these situations is requests for all cash payments and to work only with credible lenders, real estate agents, and appraisers.

Other Types of Fraud:

According to FindLaw, there are many types of fraud offenses individuals can be duped by (often unknowingly) that include:

Click here to learn more and educate yourself on popular scams occurring today.

Preventing Fraud – What to Watch out for:

Some warning signs of fraud are more obvious, such as the telemarketing or internet schemes that ask you to “send money immediately” to receive an offer, or, those asking directly for your social security number.

Others can be more tricky and deceptive, even imitating people you know personally or professionally asking for help or money via email, false charity organizations asking for donations, or, pyramid schemes that offer big rewards for a “work from home” position.

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself and your family from falling victim to fraud:

  • New forms of fraud pop up every day. Educate yourself on the common scams happening presently
  • Keep your personal information confidential. Never give out personal information, such as your social security number or credit card details, over the phone, through email, or over the internet unless the contact is verified.
  • Update your passwords and PIN numbers monthly to ensure your information is secure. Make sure to use a password that is strong in security and includes letter, numbers, and symbols.
  • Check your statements and online banking records regularly to ensure there are no unusual transactions.

If you think you or someone you know has been affected by fraud, begin by reporting the issue immediately to your local police department. Otherwise, take these steps from USA.gov:

 

Home Prices Jump 10.2%

Home Prices Jump

Home Prices Jump

Home prices experienced their biggest year-over-year increase in February in nearly seven years. According to the CoreLogic February Home Price Index report, home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased by 10.2 percent on a year-over-year basis from a year ago. This jump in home prices is the biggest year-over-year increase since March 2006. This is the 12th consecutive monthly increase in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, including distressed sales, home prices increased by 0.5 percent from January.

Time To Buy

With home prices on the rise, buyers on the fence regarding homeownership may want to consider jumping in the ring. Home affordability continues to be high with average 30-fixed mortgage rates hovering around 4%.

In the news, we hear about the difficulties first time home buyers experience when trying to obtain credit – but many buyers really don’t know if they can qualify for a mortgage. There are loan programs available that allow for no down payments and others that require as little as 3% down. If a down payment is your hurdle to homeownership, consult a licensed originator to discuss your options. Loan officers can counsel home buyers on the steps they would need to take to qualify for a mortgage. Pre-approvals for mortgage loans are a free service loan officers provide and buyers are under no obligation.

First Time Home Buyer Resources

Here are a few of our most popular blog posts for first time home buyers:

Contact a licensed Inlanta Mortgage loan originator to discuss your home financing needs. Use our branch locator to find an office near you.

Inlanta Mortgage is proudly celebrating twenty years in business. Learn more about Inlanta’s twenty year history here.

Inlanta Mortgage offers Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac agency products, as well as a full suite of jumbo and portfolio programs. The company is fully delegated HUD-FHA including FHA 203K, VA, and USDA approved. Inlanta Mortgage also offers numerous state bond agency programs. Review Inlanta’s mortgage loan programs here.

Inlanta Mortgage is a multi-state mortgage banker based out of Brookfield, Wisconsin. NMLS# 1016. Inlanta Mortgage is proud to be a recent recipient of a 2012 Top Workplace Award.