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SCV Community Pride • BANKING & FINANCE




Pride Banking & Finance

SCV Community Pride • Banking & Finance

Santa Clarita’s Finance Professionals Provide Guidance and Insight

Dan Watson/The Signal

Fred Kreger, left, and Fred Arnold with members of the American Family Funding team.


SCV Community Pride • BANKING & FINANCE

Banking & Finance

American Family Funding prides itself on helping community residents reach their financial goals of owning a home

Dan Watson/The Signal

American Family Funding Associates meeting. By Anne Freedman


f you can coach borrowers to help them realize their dream of buying a home, that is the gratifying part of our job,” said Fred Arnold, who is co-branch manager of the full service mortgage banking firm along with Fred Kreger. “People seek out information on the home buying process and we want to help them understand the process from start to finish. Many clients today are not only looking at property as their new home, but are investing with the goal of purchasing a home as a sound investment to build wealth,” he said. Everyone’s financial situation is different, but American Family Funding – a division of American Pacific Mortgage, a $6 billion a year direct funding company – has several programs that make it easier for individuals to purchase a home.

“We think that is a big part of giving back to the community that is so loyal to us,” said Kreger. American Family Funding is especially proud of various programs targeted to veterans, teachers, first responders, those who are recovering from financial hardship, and older homeowners wanting to remain in their homes. “We do the typical 15, 20 and 30-year fixed mortgages in addition to other options that most people see advertised in the paper, but we are very proud we can represent veterans with VA loans,” Kreger said. “Veterans give so much when they serve our country and many of them are unaware that a VA loan is something they have earned.” VA loans offer unmatched benefits to veterans, active-duty military, and surviving spouses. With a VA loan, they can purchase a home with no money down, borrow 100 percent of the value of the home or more, qualify

with lenient guidelines and avoid mortgage insurance requirements. “The eligibility never expires,” said Arnold, who was in the ROTC at UCLA and served in the U.S. Air Force. “We are proud to promote that product. “The program,” he said, “is near and dear to both of our hearts.” The company’s STAR loan program is designed for two other groups of unsung heroes: teachers and first responders. Those that qualify for the program save $500 in reduced lender fees, can use gifted funds for 100 percent of the home purchase down payment and can take advantage of lender paid mortgage insurance options to reduce the monthly mortgage. In addition, there is a one-time interest rate renegotiation option if mortgage rates improve. American Family Funding also guarantees those who are preapproved as part of the “Keys on Time”

loan program if closing doesn’t occur within 21 days, the company will refund some of the closing costs. The company’s “Back in the Game” program is geared for community residents who have suffered a financial hardship and have been unable to obtain financing due to a bankruptcy, foreclosure or other unfortunate events. “A lot of people suffered financially through the latest recession,” Arnold said. “Many of those borrowers have corrected their financial challenges and are looking for an opportunity to get back in the game and provide housing for their families.” “It’s one way to help those in the community who are not necessarily qualifying for the right programs to help themselves,” Kreger said. The “Back in the Game” program offers loan amounts as low as $150,000 and up to $1.5 million, for up to 85 percent of the val-

ue of the home. You can be just two years out of foreclosure or bankruptcy, and can qualify with a FICO score as low as 600. Financial challenges can also be a burden for older homeowners who wish to remain in their homes. A reverse mortgage can help with those financial challenges. “There are a lot of old myths about reverse mortgages,” Arnold said. “Some people believe they will lose control of their home or all of the equity goes to the bank. We try to communicate the opportunities that reverse mortgages offer them and dispel the myths about reverse mortgages.” Reverse mortgages allow homeowners who are 62 or older to borrow against the equity established in their home. In most cases, a reverse mortgage provides the homeowners with tax-free funds, and instead of making mortgage payments, they receive them. It’s available to home-

owners who own their homes, or whose remaining mortgage balance can be paid off by the reverse mortgage. The funds can be used to supplement retirement income, plan for long-term care needs, cover health care expenses, pay property taxes, reduce high-interest debt or remodel or repair the home. “We have a reverse mortgage specialist, Steve Schaefer who works with homeowners to look at the pros and cons, and decide if this is a good option for them,” Arnold said. “It’s often a great opportunity for the consumer. “Everyone’s financial situation is so dramatically different,” Arnold said. “The gratifying part is determining what we can do to help consumers meet their financial goals, to answer all of their questions and help them not only own a home, but build wealth in a home.”

For more than 97 years, The Signal has carried the banner of responsible community journalism in the Santa Clarita Valley. Proud to be this community’s only local newspaper. Total Access to Your Community. Your news. 24/7.



SCV Community Pride • BANKING & FINANCE

Banking & Finance

Liberty Tax Service - Professionals who stand behind their clients those new laws every year it’s always better to go to a professional to get your taxes done.” Some of Khadiya’s employees have been with her from day one. “I’m very proud of my people,” she said. “They’re a very ethical and professional team.” Liberty Tax Service guarantees its accuracy, Khadiya said. “We have a double-check system because there’s always a chance for human error,” she said. “If you have received an IRS letter and are being audited and you need help we stand with you to get that audit done. We do not charge for any assistance since we’ve prepare your taxes. If we prepared your taxes we will stand by you.” It’s easy to spot Khadiya’s Liberty Tax offices by the “wavers” out front. “My wavers, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, stand outside. I hire high school and college students so they can make a little extra money. My current clientele in Santa Clarita tell me they wait for the wavers to come out in January so they know tax season has started.” Liberty Tax Service is located at: 26775 Bouquet Canyon Road, Santa Clarita. 661-296-1000 and 24152 Lyons Ave., Newhall, 661259-1040.

Dan Watson/The Signal

Liberty Tax - From Left, Ritu Khadiya, owner, Amanda Lozano, lead tax preparer, sign waver Luis De La Cruz and Suzie Nguyen, office manager at the Newhall location.

Dan Watson/The Signal

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sional to help you because you don’t know what deductions you have.” With a team of 28 professional tax preparers Liberty Tax is open seven days and even open on holidays during tax season. Hours are 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday,” Khadiya said. “Saturdays are our busiest days now. “We are open on Easter because last year we got a lot of traffic on Easter Sunday,” Khadiya said. “Around the first week of February is one of the busiest weeks, as well as the last three weeks of tax season. That’s when we have lines outside the door. ” Liberty tax will be open till midnight during those peak times. Good news for taxpayers is that the tax deadline has been extended to Monday, April 18 this year due to Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C. so Liberty Tax will be open all weekend. “Many people who did their own taxes have actually come to us, saying, ‘I don’t know why my taxes are higher.’” Khadiya said. “The tax codes change every year and we as professionals have to train every year and keep up with certifications every year and we know the tax codes because we study them. With


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SCV Community Pride • BANKING & FINANCE

SCV Community Pride • BANKING & FINANCE



SCV Community Pride • BANKING & FINANCE

Banking & Finance

For partner at Corporate Strategies, Inc., success is a duty By Laurel Davis


ost people strive for success simply because they, well, want to be successful. They desire the benefits and advantages that come with success, such as financial freedom, long-term security, being a role model, leaving a legacy for their children, the sense of accomplishment, recognition, and the sense of self-worth, to name a few. For Santa Clarita Valley resident Scott Zimmerman, one of three Agency Principals at Corporate Strategies, Inc. in Encino, add to that list his strong sense of accountability. “My duty, obligation and responsibility are to be successful.” “Achieving success is my duty because of all the people who have helped me throughout my life,” Scott explains. “My parents, who raised me and pointed me in the right direction. My children, who are my greatest support and my greatest responsibility. My colleagues at Corporate Strategies, who expect everybody to work together at the same level of commitment to our business goals. And even my clients, who look to me to do my very best on their behalf.” Even after 20 years of proven success with the company, Scott’s sense of duty to be successful remains as strong as ever. Corporate Strategies, Inc. is a full-service employee benefits and insurance agency that provides employers and professionals with tools

and products that will help them protect their assets and run their businesses efficiently, Scott says. They specialize in insurance products as well as employee benefits packages, human resources technologies, payroll administration, risk management, business and estate planning, and life and disability protection for business owners and professionals. The firm was founded in 1995 and has 19 employees. They are a top insurance broker in Southern California and a leading producer for several major insurance carriers, Scott says. Also, he and the two other Agency Principals, Martin Levy and Matthew Tayor, are Life and Qualifying members of the Million Dollar Round Table, a designation for the top 1% of all life insurance producers in the United States. Corporate Strategies’ mission is to “create long term advisory relationships, provide consistent and proven strategies, focus on client objectives, while delivering exceptional service.” As Scott says, “We work hard to help get people covered where they need to be covered.” He insists their emphasis is not on commissions but on finding the right products, plans and programs for each client’s needs. “We make sure to go over and above for clients, and we rarely lose business,” Scott points out. Corporate Strategies handles all of Los Angeles but has clients across the country, and some international

Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Scott Zimmerman of Corporate Strategies, Inc. in Encino stands in his office in front of a map of all the places he’s traveled. business owners for life insurance. One of their biggest specialties is handling all aspects of employee benefits – medical, dental, vision, 401k plans, etc. – including enrollment, regardless of the number of employees. In addition, they developed their own HR package that integrates human resources, payroll and employee benefits together. They take a “21st Century” approach to building client



relationships based on innovative and comprehensive strategies and technologies to streamline clients’ HR functions. Scott, who has been in the insurance industry for 26 years, specializes in longterm care, disability and life insurance strategies and, as a partner in the firm, manages these departments. “I work with an amazing team. We’re like a family.” Scott says he really enjoys helping business owners ful-

fill their goals for their employees and protect themselves and their families. “It’s rewarding when a client trusts me enough to ultimately go with my recommendations.” For Scott and his fellow executive team, it’s all about building those types of lasting relationships, which is the ultimate measure of their success. As he points out, “We want to cover their needs just once,” meaning taking the time to do it right

the first time for every client. Besides being a single father raising two daughters, ages 19 and 17, Scott has hiked Mount Kilamanjaro in Tanzania and the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu, gone white water rafting in Chile, and taken a bike tour through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, among many other exotic world travel adventures. Corporate Strategies, Inc. is located at 16255 Ventura Blvd., Suite 320, Encino.

I help people plan for the What If’s in life: • Life Insurance – What if you were to pass away prematurely? • Disability Insurance – What If you became sick or hurt and couldn’t work? • Long Term Care Insurance– What If you needed assistance or care in your home or nursing home?

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SCV Community Pride • BANKING & FINANCE

Banking & Finance

Real estate firm riding wave after Buffett handpicks friend By David Heitz


ino Blefari not only has been a friend to Michael Rescigno and Alex Woltman for many years, but also served as their broker when Rescigno and Woltman co-owned Intero Real Estates Services of Santa Clarita. Blefari worked out of the Silicon Valley Intero office but assisted the Santa Clarita team until Woltman got his broker’s license. When Warren Buffett handpicked Blefari to head up Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices after acquiring Intero in 2014, Blefari asked Rescigno and Woltman if they would like to directly transition and rebrand as Berkshire Hathaway. “The volume and professionalism of the company had risen them up to national sales records, and Buffet wanted the leadership of Intero, particularly Gino Blefari, to run Berskhire Hathaway and turn it into the biggest and best brand of real estate on the planet,” Woltman said. Woltman and Rescigno

excitedly made the switch when Blefari reached out. “The tools and resources that Berkshire Hathaway offer are really second to none to any company in the industry,” Woltman said. “It is a mind-boggling system. Warren Buffett has spent a fortune to build the brand.” Rescigno said he believes the Berkshire Hathaway brand will position the agency for the future. “We felt it would give us a much greater presence. This area is really growing. There are more jobs, and this is a very good avenue for us to take. The brand really resonates with people. We’re eager to capitalize on the brand’s name recognition and grow our brokerage in the marketplace.” Blefari called Rescigno, Woltman and their team “top-notch professionals who will represent our brand well,” in a news release. “We’re pleased to welcome California Properties to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.” The brokerage recently moved to a new corporate headquarters at 25060 Avenue Stanford in Valencia. Woltman and Rescig-

Katharine Lotze/The Signal

The staff of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in their Valencia offices. no still independently own and operate their brokerage despite their new brand affiliation. Woltman and Rescigno want clients to know that they still can expect the sort of personal service that has resulted in their moving countless Santa Clarita Valley properties, even though they’re now with a brand that has the

backing of huge business magnate Buffett. “Warren Buffett buys for the long term and aligns himself with high-level professionals, which is what Gino is,” Woltman said. Berkshire Hathaway uses its might to give back to the communities it serves and is heavily involved in Sunshine Kids,

an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children with cancer. Locally, Woltman and Rescigno donate clothes to a homeless shelter in Santa Clarita Valley and also sponsor a Soroptomist club. Woltman said their firm proudly serves Santa Clarita Valley residents in the market to buy or

sell anything “from condos to castles,” adding, “We believe people seek out Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices yard signs as symbols of quality service, integrity and innovation. We’re confident our area’s top real estate agents will want to advance their business representing Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.”

Find us in a neighborhood near you. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties is here. That’s a good sign for the market and a great sign for you.

California Properties

Contact us for more information. 661-362-6760 661-362-6762

California Properties ©2016 BHH Affiliates, LLC. Real Estate Brokerage Services are offered through the network member franchisees of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Most franchisees are independently owned and operated. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.® Information not verified or guaranteed. If your property is currently listed with a broker, this is not intended as a solicitation. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Good to know.®


SCV Community Pride • BANKING & FINANCE

Southern California’s Premier Community Bank Since 1945. When we founded our own community bank in 1945, it was out of need. Banks weren’t lending to businesses, so we built our own. We now stand with more than $3.6 billion in assets and 17 business centers—and counting. We’re no longer just a community bank.

Partnering to be YOUR Community

Santa Clarita Business Banking Center Cal Naulls SVP/Business Center Manager 28470 Avenue Stanford, Ste 110 Santa Clarita, CA 91355 Office (661) 295-2850; Cell (818) 257-3430 SBA Preferred Lender | Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender

SCV Community Pride 2016 - Banking & Finance