National Parks Thank America's Armed Forces
WEST GLACIER, MONT. - Glacier National Park, as well as the other 397 sites of the National Park Service, will offer a free annual pass to active duty military members and their dependents. The annual pass will allow free entrance to national parks and other federal recreation sites.
Active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents can obtain their pass at Glacier National Park's headquarters building or any park entrance station. They must show a current, valid military identification card to obtain their pass. More information is available at www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm.
This military version of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass also permits free entrance to sites managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service.
The active military pass is not available to veterans and retirees, but there are other passes available. US citizens 62 years of age and older may purchase a lifetime pass for $10, and citizens with a permanent disability may obtain a free lifetime pass. An annual Glacier National Park pass for unlimited access to the park for one year from time of purchase of the pass is available for $35. An annual pass available for $80 allows free entrance to federally operated recreation sites across the county.
National parks and the military have strong ties going back to the establishment of Yellowstone as the world's first national park in 1872. The U.S. Cavalry watched over America's national parks and did double duty, serving as the first park rangers until the National Park Service was created 44 years later. During World War II, many parks were set aside for the training and care of military personnel. Today, dozens of national parks commemorate military battles and achievements. The new military pass, and any of the annual passes, may be obtained from a staffed park entrance station, or from the park headquarters building. For more information about the passes please contact Glacier National Park at 406-888-7800.
The longest day of the year kicks off the summer celebrations of Whitefish, Montana. The sun doesn't set until after 10:00 on the summer soltice -- giving you long days to explore Glacier National Park, ride and hike the trails around Whitefish, and discover the town's shops and restaurants.
World-class dining, broadway-calibre theatre, amazing shopping and artistic discoveries are your gateway to the epic landscapes and adventures of Glacier National Park, Whitefish Mountain Resort and more!
We look forward to seeing you soon in Whitefish, Montana!
Volatility Keeping Low Mortgage Rates on Track
There is a lot of volatility happening in markets these days as Europe continues to battle its financial crisis. On June 9th Spain officially requested a bailout making this the fourth and largest European economy to request help. While these global events continue to happen, volatility is keeping low mortgage rates here in the U.S. on track. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey, overall applications rose 1.3% with refinances accounting for 78% of all business for the week ending June 1st.
While the purchase index decreased slightly, mortgage refinances were up 2%. FreeRateUpdate.com's survey of wholesale and direct lenders shows that mortgage rates remained stable over the week with 30 year fixed mortgage rates at 3.375%, 15 year fixed mortgage rates at 2.750% and 5/1 ARM loan rates at 2.125%, all of which are available with 0.7 to 1% origination fee to well qualified borrowers.
High affordability for a home purchase may bring some positive action as the active summer buying season begins at the end of this month. Home buyers need stable employment and income, enough assets for the closing and reserves, as well as, good credit in order to receive lender approval. Current homeowners who have mortgages with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are finding that HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, is helping them to refinance to lower mortgage rates, thus avoiding a future foreclosure, short sale or strategic default.
To be eligible for HARP, the existing mortgage must have been sold to either of these GSE's prior to June 1, 2009. It is easy to find HARP information with a quick online inquiry that returns a response within minutes. HARP inquiries online are more successful because there are more lenders available in one place and at one time who are eager and willing to assist borrowers with their needs.
The FHA Streamline Refinance with reduced upfront and annual mortgage insurance premiums is now underway and is expected to bring in millions of FHA refinances until the end of 2013. This program is now available to FHA borrowers who have mortgages that were endorsed prior to June 1, 2009 and is expected to be a huge success. While the program does not allow for cash out, it also has no verifications required which means that even borrowers who have lost income can be approved.
Due to the amount of borrowers applying for this FHA loan program, using an online inquiry that does not require a social security number can produce the quickest results to a lower FHA mortgage rate. Current FHA 30 year fixed mortgage rates are at 3.125%, FHA 15 year fixed mortgage rates are at 2.625% and FHA 5/1 ARM loan rates are at 2.625%. FHA purchase mortgages have dropped since the increase in the upfront mortgage insurance premium on new loans which makes FHA closing costs high, however, borrowers need to know that in most cases these expenses can be added to the mortgage amount.
Jumbo mortgage rates have also remained stable for the week with jumbo 30 year fixed mortgage rates at 4.125%, jumbo 15 year fixed mortgage rates at 3.125% and jumbo 5/1 ARM loan rates at 2.250%. These are the lowest jumbo mortgage rates available with 0.7 to 1% origination fee for borrowers who have maintained excellent credit. Jumbo mortgage rates have been significantly low for high end borrowers and are obtainable provided that substantially good qualifications for employment, income and assets are in order. A larger amount of assets may be required for higher down payments and additional months of reserves since these are private loans with lenders. Guidelines can be stricter since lenders want to reduce their risk when giving an approval.
MBS prices, which move mortgage rates in the opposite direction, did not suffer any major changes this past week keeping mortgage rates stable. The biggest news is coming from the continued financial crisis in the Euro-zone. Greece had another election. China had an unexpected rate cut in order to boost economic growth, which came as a surprise to investors who are concerned about any slowdown in China. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke disappointed investors when he made no promises for further assistance, but is prepared to act, if necessary, to protect the financial system and the U.S. economy. Markets will continue to be volatile while this financial uncertainty remains worldwide.
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Before You Sell
Deciding to put your home on the market can bring on a wide range of emotions. You may feel excitement at the prospect of moving on or moving up. Some sellers feel anticipation about what the future holds and about what kind of deals buyers may bring to the table.
On the opposite end of the spectrum you may be feeling sadness or even regret. That's because selling your house can feel a lot like selling your home. Any and all of these emotional responses are normal! In order to stick to your guns and to keep on the sunnier side of the selling process it's important to do five key things before you sell. Feeling prepared and in control of a situation is paramount in feeling good about your decision.
Here are the five pre-selling tips:
• Organize Paperwork: You most likely have papers regarding any home warranties. Prospective buyers are going to want to have these. Having them ready for viewing is a great selling point. You might also consider putting together a list of current contacts for pool maintenance, lawn care, and even repair work companies.
• Get an Inspection: Even almost new homes can have hidden damage. Most every buyer in today's market will be getting an inspection. Beat them to the punch and have your own inspection performed so that you are not surprised come negotiation time.
• Perform Repairs/Get Estimates: Having your own inspection gives you the time to identify problem areas and either repair them or get estimates to have ready for prospective buyers. They'll love how organized and up-front you are!
• Get Organized: Start packing as soon as you decide to list your home. Removing or packing away some of your personal belonging has two great benefits. First, it allows your home some breathing room to be staged and cleaned for showings (see #5). Buyers want to be able to see the house, not your stuff. Second, it starts the process of moving on. As you pack up your stuff you'll find that the house will feel less and less familiar, which can be great for letting go of attachment.
• Stage: This means it's time to amp up your curb appeal for starters. Trim trees and shrubs and pick up any debris from your yard. Keep your lawn in showing-ready state all year around. You should also consider staging outdoor areas with freshly potted flowers, comfy chairs, and even outdoor accessories, such as lanterns, throws, and dinnerware.
You may wonder what these very practical tasks have to do with emotions, but the truth is they are so inextricably linked! Our experiences dictate our emotions. So, take the time to prepare for the selling process. Dot all your i's and cross all your t's and then sit back and enjoy your journey into a new stage of life!