News

Who picks the Title Company?

I was at a networking event recently and during the break, after I spoke about our title company, someone asked me “who picks the title company?”  The answer is the consumer has the right to choose the title company but in most cases they defer to either the real estate professional or the mortgage professional with whom they have been working.  Your average person only needs a title company once every 5-10 years so it’s rare to have an established relationship already built.  This is why the Real Estate Agent or Mortgage Loan Officer is often looked upon to guide consumers where to go for their title needs.  

As consumers we are trained to comparison shop for most things in our life.  Before we purchase a flat screen TV at Target we are on our phones seeing what it costs at Wal-Mart.  This mindset is even more prevalent when entering into the process of obtaining a mortgage loan.  Shopping interest rates and mortgage closing costs are engrained in our minds because it’s such an important decision; however when it comes to title services most people don’t think to comparison shop.

At 7 Title we take a lot of pride in saying we are one of, if not the most reasonably priced title companies in the area.  We don’t issue this statement lightly and without being informed.  On an annual basis we do a pricing review of our biggest competitors in the market.  All title companies have the same basic suite of services, but the charge for those services can vary quite a bit from company to company.  From that review we adjust our fees accordingly with an eye on making sure we bring our clients the most value.

If you are a real estate or mortgage professional and you are already referring business to 7 Title, Thank you!! We appreciate the trust you have placed in us to bring value to your clients.

If you are a real estate or mortgage professional and you aren’t referring business to 7 Title, reach out to us! We have an approach to doing business that we are proud of and would like to share it with you.

If you are a consumer in the process of buying, selling or refinancing a home or you are in need of some real estate title advice, reach out to us at 7 Title.  You can do so with the peace of mind knowing that whatever the cost of the service you need, we have made sure that you are paying a fair price.

Nicole Squibb joins 7 Title

In February 2019, Nicole Squibb joined 7 Title as Operations Supervisor.  Nicole has been in the financial services and mortgage industry for the past 12 years of her career serving in a leadership capacity in 6 of those years.  She brings a lot of talent with her as she takes on this new role.

The role of Operations Supervisor is an important one within the organization as Nicole will oversee the quality and level of service being delivered to clients and business partners.  Nicole will also be a key contributor in the effort to utilize technology to keep 7 Title up to date with enhancements that are available in the market.

Please join us in congratulating Nicole on her addition to the 7 Title team and the new role within her career!

Understanding Credit Reports

Credit Reports are an important tool used by the industry to get a snapshot of your financial history.  Understanding the process for reviewing, disputing, and resolving information on your report is a critical part of your financial health.

What’s in your Credit Report?

Credit Reports are usually only reviewed when people are planning a major upcoming life event.  Obtaining a mortgage or consumer loan, applying for a credit card, background check for employment, being the victim of identity theft, and obtaining or changing insurance policies are all things that could trigger a review of your credit report.  Many of us treat our credit reports as “out of sight, out of mind”.   Experts say that is a mistake.  Your credit report details how you handle your debt and is used by lenders to determine how big of a risk you are when lending you money.  The information in your report leads directly to your credit score (a three-digit number) which is a big factor in determining interest rates, terms, and other aspects of any loan.  Reviewing your report at least once a year can help you negotiate better terms by being educated on what to expect from any lender.

Here are a few things to know about credit reports:

Annualcreditreport.com is the only government-authorized website for the free annual credit report that you are guaranteed by law.  Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax are the three major credit bureaus.   It’s important to know the different bureaus are used by each lender, so pulling from all three will give you access to ALL of your information and verify the information is accurate.  Requesting your information online is very straightforward and is as simple as providing basic data such as your name, address (both past and present), social security number, date of birth, etc.

 

Credit reports include four sections:

  • Identifying information: This is where you will find your name, social security number, current and former addresses, phone number and other personal information.
  • Credit history: This is your complete borrowing history, including every loan you’ve ever had and whether you paid on time. You’ll also find information such as creditor names, account activity, account number, credit limit, minimum monthly payment and current balance.
  • Public Records: This is where negative credit information like bankruptcies, liens and court judgments are listed. Negative information can remain on your report for up to seven years.  Keeping items off this section is a key part of maintaining a high score.
  • Inquiries: This is triggered when your credit report is pulled. Inquiries fall into two categories: hard pull or soft pull. Hard pull inquiries are when potential lenders pull your report when you apply for a loan. They can temporarily lower your credit score by up to five points. Soft pull inquiries are when a person or company checks your report as part of a background check. Soft inquiries don’t affect your credit at all, so don’t worry about frequently checking your own credit reports.

Things to look for:  According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, be on the lookout for these common reporting mistakes:

  • Identity errors: Is there a phone number, address or name you don’t recognize?
  • Accounts that don’t belong to you.  Occasionally someone else’s information with a similar name could inadvertently appear on your report.
  • Accounts opened as a result of identity theft.
  • Incorrect account status: This includes closed accounts reported as open, you being listed as an account owner rather than authorized user, duplication of debt, and/or wrong opening, payment or delinquency date.
  • Right account number but wrong balance or credit limit listed. (Keep in mind your balance is fluid so this could simply be the result of when the report was pulled)

How to fix errors:  First, you’ll want to contact the credit bureau that has the error.  This can be accomplished online, over the phone, or by mail.  Always keep good records and copies regardless of the method you choose.  Explain in detail why the information is wrong and include copies of any supporting documentation. Once it is received the bureaus will, in general, investigate and respond within 45 days.  If for any reason your dispute is ruled “frivolous” you’ll be notified within five days.  This can happen if someone tries to dispute clearly accurate information and is simply trying to “game” the system.  In the case of a factual error you will also want to file a dispute with the company that made the mistake so they can provide updated information to the credit bureaus.  If they made the error, it is their responsibility to contact the credit bureaus and provide the corrected information.

If the investigation is not in your favor, you have two choices.

Maintaining an accurate Credit Report begins with simply reviewing it on a yearly basis.  This will help you obtain favorable financing, get discounts on insurance products, and improve your overall financial health.

7 Tips for Successfully Negotiating a Real Estate Contract

Negotiating a contract can sound intimidating.  Don’t let it scare you. Negotiations are a critical part of any real estate sales contract and there is nothing wrong with doing all you can to get the best deal possible.

Check out these 7 tips to strengthen your negotiating skills.

  1. First and foremost, hire a real estate agent. Sure, you could go at it alone, but a successful negotiation starts with having the knowledge and experience on your side.
  2. Get pre-approved by a reputable mortgage lender and obtain this conditional approval in writing. Be sure you are 100% transparent with the lender, allowing them to spot and solve any potential roadblocks early in the process.  Having financing in place will make your offer much more compelling in the negotiation.
  3. Everything is (potentially) negotiable! This is important to understand, because if you don’t ask you don’t get.  Keep in mind that requests should be respectful and within reason and remember the seller also has the right to refuse.  It’s then up to the buyer to decide whether or not to move forward with the deal.  Price is the most obvious of the negotiable items.  But closing costs, closing dates, financing contingencies, home warranties, repairs, etc. are all things to be considered during the negotiation process.
  4. Be prepared to walk away. This may be the hardest part of any negotiation.  While on the surface it may seem like you “lost”, the reality is that the deal did not meet all of the criteria you needed for it to be successful.  Understanding the local market, being aware of other properties that are of interest to you, and having a clear understanding of your financial picture and budget will allow you to negotiate without emotion.  This is critical to avoid entering into a deal that could result in buyer’s remorse.
  5. Avoid too many back-and-forth requests. Nothing can sour a seller on a deal faster than endless additional requests after an initial contract is offered.  Make sure you thoroughly do your homework and make your initial offer as close to where you would like it to be as possible.  There will always be things that come up during home inspections.  While these are understood, you should avoid making additional requests for price reductions, financing assistance, etc. once the initial offer is accepted.  Keep in mind the seller also has the right to just walk away from any deal.
  6. Contingencies are a drag! While sometimes necessary, sellers often are reluctant to enter into a deal that involves too many, or any, contingencies (home sale, etc.).  No one likes to feel like a hostage to something out of their control.  It’s best to limit these or totally avoid them when possible.
  7. Lastly, STAY POSITIVE! Buying a home is supposed to be an exciting, life-changing experience.  Don’t let emotions derail you from your goal.  Keep in mind, the person you are negotiating with is simply doing exactly what you are doing, just from the opposite perspective.

 

HAPPY NEGOTIATING!!!!

 

Wendy Robinson

AVP Mortgage Services

NMLS #1006528

7 Mortgage

www.7.coop

 

Buying Your Dream Home? Don’t Lose Your Life Savings to Fraud in the Process.

Imagine the joy and stress of buying your dream home. As you are managing dozens of tasks from packing, arranging movers, cleaning, etc. you receive an email from your realtor or lender with a last minute change of plans to your closing. The request is simple; due to a minor mix up you need to wire the funds to a new location as to not delay your closing. Because you have built trust with this individual and because of the immense amount of stress you are under, you quickly do it. Unknowingly, you have just redirected your life savings to a criminal and those funds are likely never to be seen again.

While the example above would appear to be a plot of a thrilling fictional movie, it is actually far more common than you would think. Title companies reported a 480% increase in wire fraud attacks in 2016 and a 2,370% increase in identified exposed losses. Even at our title company in Knoxville, TN we see several of these attempts per year and the frequency in which they are occurring is steadily growing. We remain vigilant, while the tactics and strategies used by criminals are constantly changing and adapting as technology is increasingly introduced into financial transactions.

The specific example above is commonly referred to as Business Email Compromise (BEC). Fraudsters become aware of an email chain between client, realtor, and/or lender through email systems such as Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, etc. From there, the fraudster does his best job at cloning or spoofing either the realtor or lender’s contact information. He then begins emailing and/or calling the others in the loan closing process. These BEC jobs are very elaborate, going as far as creating new domains, copying email signatures, and using common writing styles as the individual spoofed. At quick glance, the fraudulent emails can barely be detected unless reviewed closely. And because they are very well done and the entire real estate industry relies on email, people are frequently losing their life savings to these criminals.

As an organization, we have several safeguards in place to prevent a successful BEC attempt. However, we only control a piece of the closing process. Here are a few tips to prevent becoming a victim of fraud yourself.

Tip 1: Avoid using free email services that offer limited security
Tip 2: Never change wire instructions based on an email or call
Tip 3: Always call multiple sources to verify information
Tip 4: Read emails very closely, looking for misspelled words

For more information and a full list of tips, please visit the FBI’s article below. http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/business-e-mail-compromise-on-the-rise 

James Schiermeyer
Closing Agent
7 Title
www.7title.com
865.560.7478

Chris Boler
President and CEO
7, LLC
www.7.coop
865.560.7499

 

VA Loans Are Here!!

We are pleased to announce that 7 Mortgage now offers VA Loans.  Extending these products to those who have served the U.S. is a great honor.  Great benefits like 100% financing, No PMI, no flipping restrictions, and more are just the beginning!

VA Requirements

  • Eligibility – Be an eligible veteran or active duty service member.
  • Credit- Be able to meet the VA and lender’s credit Standards.  Flexibility with lower credit scores, bankruptcies, foreclosures, and collections may be available.
  • Income- Have enough qualifying income to support the mortgage payment and existing consumer debts.
  • Assets- Be able to produce valid asset documentation if needed.

Eligibility – A Certificate of Eligibility (CPE) must be issued from the VA to make a final determination for eligibility.  The VA considers the following before issuing the CPE:

  • You have served 90 consecutive day of active service during peacetime. or
  • You have served 181 days of active service during peacetime. or
  • You have more than 6 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves. or
  • You are the spouse of a service member who has died in the line of duty or because of service- related disability.

Properties

  • Single Family
  • Multi-family up to 4 units
  • Condo
  • Manufactured Homes

Products

  • Purchase Loans- Up to 100% financing with no money down and the seller is permitted to pay closing costs.
  • Cash Out Refinance- Financing up to 100% of the current value of your home.  The proceeds may be used to pay off your existing mortgage, consolidate debt, or for home improvements.
  • VA IRRRL- Sometimes referred to as a VA Streamline Loan.  Allows borrowers with a current VA loan to refinance to a lower rate if available.  Appraisal, income, or asset verification typically isn’t required

You’ve served the U.S.  Now let us serve you!

Why Choose an Independent Insurance Agency?

Independent Agent vs. Captive Agent.

An independent insurance agent offers insurance policies provided by several insurance carriers, allowing them to offer a wider array of insurance options.  For example, 7 Insurance works with twelve separate insurance carriers.  In comparison, a captive agent offers policies through an exclusive contract by a single insurance company.

As we all are aware, when a teenager starts to drive, your insurance rates skyrocket; their inexperience drives these rates.  However not all carriers think “exactly” the same.  All carriers will increase rates for any teenage driver, however not all carriers will increase rates equally.

So, if you are with a captive agent you have only one choice, “this is your rate” with no other options.  With an independent agent you have the option of all the agency’s carriers; the rate difference can be significant from carrier to carrier.

I tell people carriers do not like teenage drivers; however some of the carriers do not dislike them as much as others.

In summary, independent agents provide:

1. Choices – Your Personal Shopper

a. Multiple insurance carriers provide you the opportunity to review quotes from many different carriers.

2. One-stop Shopping

a. Although most policies have very similar coverages, not all carriers offer all the programs/products you may need.

3. Lifetime Agent

a. Since independent agents utilize multiple carriers we are able to place you with the right carrier, year after year.

4. Separation

a. With a captive carrier, large claims (hurricanes, hail storms, tornados, etc.) are spread across the country.  So, you could be paying extra premiums based on losses that happened across the country.
b. With an independent agent, if there are rate increases through one of our carriers, we can move you to another.

5. Unbiased Advice

a. Multiple carriers assure you have the best coverage for your situation.

6. Advocate / Annual Reviews

a. At 7 Insurance we conduct annual reviews automatically, to make sure you have the best product/program/pricing we have available.

 

7 Insurance is proud to be an independent insurance agency.  If you are with a captive agent, give us a call today and we can show you the independent agency difference.

Jerry Tweeten
President
7 Insurance

Why Choose an Independent Insurance Agency?

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About 7 Insurance: Independent insurance agency headquartered in Knoxville, TN and licensed in 30 states. Our agents are not paid commission so you can rest assured you are getting the best policy at the best price available. Our new clients save over $500 per year when switching insurance coverage. And because we know your needs change, we automatically review your policies for you every year to ensure you are receiving maximum value from your policies. For a quote, call 865.859.0591 or visit www.7.coop/insurance

Why work with a CUSO?

When was the first time you heard the term CUSO?  What was your first impression?  If you are new to the credit union industry or a seasoned veteran, perhaps it is time to take a closer look at a CUSO.

First, my CliffsNotes summary of what a CUSO is…..

Rules governing Credit Union Service Organizations (CUSOs) can be found in Part 712 of NCUA Regulations (Chapter VII of Title 12, Code of Federal Regulations[1]).  These rules provide guidance to federal credit unions relating to the investment in, loans to, and related parties of a CUSO.  Among other stipulations, the regulation requires a CUSO to primarily serve credit unions (712.3) and further lists the permitted and prohibited activities of a CUSO (712.4 & 712.5).  In summary, these rules allow for credit unions to be entrepreneurial in their pursuit to offer solutions for members.

Now, why should a credit union partner with a CUSO?…..

Culture

There is something special about the credit union movement and it doesn’t take one long to experience the difference when joining the industry.  This impalpable, yet powerful, difference is what sets the credit union far ahead of other financial institutions in consumer satisfaction surveys year after year.  And because CUSOs are formed directly from credit unions, the same culture exists at CUSOs.  Credit Union Service Organizations are not vendors merely trying to earn business; CUSOs are credit union people helping credit union people.  If your credit union is looking for a solution which will have direct member contact, wouldn’t it make the most sense to partner with an organization that already understands the credit union difference?  Non-CUSO vendors often struggle to replicate or even imitate the “secret sauce” of credit unions.

Economies of Scale

With each passing year, hundreds of credit unions are forced to merge or liquidate.  While some are involuntary as a result of failure, most are voluntary and likely due to ever increasing operational expenses.  By working together as an industry and pooling resources, credit unions are finding it very beneficial to work with CUSOs to slow expense growth.  Additionally, when credit unions partner with a CUSO, their collective memberships are able to tap into additional products and services which may not have been available if going at it alone.  With reduced expenses and new sources of revenue, operational efficiency improves for all involved.  Thus, economies of scale are reached and more credit unions stay relevant and healthier longer.

Sustainability

Of the 6,000+ credit unions in the country, the top 10-20% is carrying the vast majority of the advocacy efforts at the state and federal level.  These credit unions write large checks each year to national, state, and federal organizations whose sole purpose is to promote and protect the credit unions industry.  This advocacy work is absolutely necessary as other organizations such as the American Bankers Association (ABA) have much larger wallets and would like nothing more to see the credit union industry as we know it dissolved.

Another common trait amongst the nation’s largest credit unions is their involvement in CUSOs.  Over time, they have formed CUSOs as a way to help smaller credit unions and to generate revenue; income that, in part, is put to use for advocacy efforts and credit union industry awareness.  Over the course of my career, I have seen many examples of credit unions choosing to partner with large banks for products and services over a CUSO.  Each time, I wonder to myself if the deciding credit union realizes they may be funding the industry (ABA) which wishes to see them extinct.

In conclusion, CUSOs provide the opportunity for credit unions across the country to partner together to solve our own challenges.  As financial cooperatives, we are guided by the seven cooperative principles.  None are more important to the long term success of the industry than principle number six “Cooperation among cooperatives”.  So the next time your credit union needs a product or service, consider a CUSO because as JFK often said, “A rising tide lifts all boats”.

 

Chris Boler

President and CEO

7, LLC

Why work with a CUSO?

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About 7, LLC:

Rooted in the seven cooperative principles of the cooperative movement, 7 is a credit union service organization made of experienced credit union people with the passion, insight, and skills to help credit unions and their members thrive.  Our name is a direct reflection of our commitment to credit unions and the principles on which they were founded.  We are 100% owned by credit unions and proud to provide products and services to other credit unions through our three companies: 7 Mortgage, 7 Title & 7 Insurance.

[1] http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=823c0f66240459dc0f59ef0bab427f5d&mc=true&n=pt12.7.712&r=PART&ty=HTML

 

7 Reasons Why It Is Time to Shop for Auto and Home Insurance Coverage

Insurance is probably the least interesting purchase the average consumer will ever make, unless you can save money.  You hear the commercials and they all sound the same; some use humor, some overload you in statistics, and others pull at your heart trying to convince you they are the best.  While all of these can be effective, as a consumer you should always shop for coverage and here is why:

  1. It’s been too long. The average consumer has not shopped auto or home coverage in many years, if ever.  We recommend you shop annually.
  2. Your situation continually changes. You’ve graduated college, got married, had children, moved houses, zip code, changed vehicles, changed careers, etc. but never considered how these factors might impact your insurance coverage.
  3. Insurance companies have different risk appetites. While your situation is continually changing, so is your insurance company’s risk appetite.  Perhaps they like teen drivers or maybe they don’t.  Shopping around is the only way you will know if lower rates are available.
  4. Bundling may not be your best option. Many assume that having all of your policies in one place is best, however each consumer’s situation is unique and sometimes unbundling is the best option.
  5. You might need an umbrella policy. Adding this added layer protection is essential as the consumer’s financial situation evolves.  Many times it can be added for a minimal increase in premium.
  6. Your coverage may be lacking. What are your deductible limits?  What are your liability limits?  Will the full value of your roof be replaced after a storm?  These are all important questions to ask during the shopping phase.  Do you have items that need a separate endorsement such as art, guns, jewelry, etc?
  7. You could save hundreds of dollars. While your risk profile has likely improved over the years, your premiums have only gone up.  Shopping is the only way to ensure you are getting the best deal and could save you hundreds per year.

Insurance is a very valuable component of overall financial wellness.  If you haven’t shopped for insurance coverage in a while, you should seriously consider it to make sure your family is protected in times of need.  At worst, you can have peace of mind knowing you are covered.  At best, you can improve your coverage and save hundreds of dollars per year.

Jerry Tweeten

President

7 Insurance

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About 7 Insurance:  Independent insurance agency headquartered in Knoxville, TN and licensed in 30 states.  Our agents are not paid commission so you can rest assured you are getting the best policy at the best price available.  Our new clients save an average of over $500 per year when switching insurance coverage.  And because we know your needs change, we automatically review your policies for you every year to ensure you are receiving maximum value from your policies.  For a quote, call 865.859.0591 or visit www.7.coop/insurance or email us at info@7insurance.com

Congratulations Katie Bailey!

Please join us in congratulating Katie Bailey on her promotion to Supervisor Mortgage Processing!

Katie has been with the organization for the past 7 years, serving 7 Mortgage for the last 6.  Katie has experience in processing, system administration, and a vast knowledge of the mortgage industry.

Katie will be a great asset to the Processing Department and we look forward to seeing her success.