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Sunday, September 4, 2016



Building your forever home COURTESY OF SOLID ROCK CUSTOM HOMES

When building a custom home, many thoughts and ideas go into planning and designing your forever home. As you are thinking of lot location, how many rooms, and what finishes you would like in this home, another important idea to think of is aging in place. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably …” Creating a home that will give you this capability in the future, as well as accommodate your current lifestyle, requires a builder that has the education and experience to do so. Lain Chappell, owner of Solid Rock Custom Homes, has earned his Graduate Master Builder designation from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and is one of only five contractors in the state of Colorado to receive this designation. Mr. Chappell also holds a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) accreditation from the NAHB and noted “The classes and certifications required to obtain these designations equipped me with the knowledge and foresight I need to design homes to meet the specific and unique needs of our clients.” Lain Chappell also remarked, “Our clients are finding that a ranch style home is perfect for one-level living throughout the main stage of their lives. The ease of having all the necessary amenities on the main level is very appealing to our buyers, regardless of their age, and they realize it will give them greater flexibility


to remain in their home throughout their senior years. They can choose whether they want to use the other levels for their enjoyment or to accommodate guests or a live in care giver. If access to the other levels of the home is important, installing an elevator, or pre-planning a future location for the elevator, is wise. Designing areas of the home to be wheelchair accessible and aging-friendly, such as incorporating curbless showers, wide halls and doorways, and installing lever handles are a few examples of how you can turn an ordinary house into a livable forever home.” Solid Rock Custom Homes has been building in the El Paso, Teller, and Douglas counties since 2004. As a fully custom home builder, the team at Solid Rock understands the design concepts that are needed in creating a forever home. They work with local architects to create the vision and design of their client’s home, building it efficiently and with aging in place concepts in mind.

Located at Hwy. 83 & Flying Horse Club Drive.

At Solid Rock Custom Homes quality is as important as the design. Recognized for their workmanship, they were awarded the Quality in Craftsmanship Award by the Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association for their 2015 Parade Home. These aspects help you build the forever home that embodies the quality standards found in a house that will be able to stand the test of time, and be enjoyed by your family for generations to come. To learn how Solid Rock can build you the custom home of your dreams, contact them at 719-494-0932 or go to ■

STAY. PLAY. LIVE. STA STAY FHC.


The Gazette ·

Sunday, Sep 4, 2016

REVERSE MORTGAGE: What is it and how does it work? BANKRATE

Reverse mortgages are often considered a lastresort source of income, but they have become a planning tool for cash-strapped homeowners. The first Federal Housing Administrationinsured reverse mortgage was introduced in 1989. Such loans enable seniors age 62 and older to access a portion of their home equity without having to move.


A type of home equity loan for older homeowners. It does not require monthly mortgage payments. The loan is repaid after the borrower moves out or dies. It is also known as a home equity conversion mortgage, or HECM.


Steven Sass, program director at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, says a reverse mortgage makes sense for people who: • • •

Don’t plan to move. Can afford the cost of maintaining their home. Want to access the equity in their home to supplement their income or have money available for a rainy day.

Some people even use a reverse mortgage to eliminate their existing mortgage and improve their monthly cash flow, says Peter Bell, president and CEO of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association. “In some cases, people may have an immediate need to pay off debt, or they may have had some unexpected expenses like a home repair or health care situation,” Bell says. The bank makes payments to the borrower throughout his or her lifetime based on a percentage of accumulated home equity. The loan balance does not have to be repaid until the

borrower dies, sells the home or permanently moves out.


• How does it work? The bank makes payments to the borrower based on a percentage of accumulated home equity. • When does it need to be repaid? When the borrower dies, sells the home or permanently moves out. • Who is eligible? Seniors age 62 and older who own homes ou-tright or have small mortgages. • How can the money be used? For any reason. Retirees typically use cash to supplement income, pay for health care expenses, pay off debt or finance home improvement jobs. Better yet, you can never owe more than the value of your home in a reverse mortgage loan, regardless of how much you borrow. And if the balance is less than the value of your home at the time of repayment, you or your heirs keep the difference.

HOW MUCH CAN YOU GET? According to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, several factors determine the amount of funds you are eligible to receive through a reverse mortgage.

FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE LOAN AMOUNT • Age (or the age of the youngest spouse in the case of couples). • Value of home. • Interest rate. • Lesser of appraised value or the HECM FHA mortgage limit of $625,500.

To be eligible for a reverse mortgage, you must either own your home outright or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off at the closing with proceeds from the reverse loan. You must also use the home as your primary residence. Generally, the older you are and the more valuable your home, the more money you can get. There are no restrictions for how the money from a reverse mortgage loan must be used. The method of payment collection depends on the type of mortgage. Retirees with an adjustablerate mortgage can collect their payments on a reverse mortgage as a lump sum, fixed monthly payment, line of credit or some combination. Holders of fixed-rate mortgages receive a lump sum.


Pros • Does not require monthly payments from the borrower. • Proceeds can be used to pay off debt or settle unexpected expenses. • The money can pay off the existing mortgage. • Funds can improve monthly cash flow. Cons • Fees and other closing costs can be high. • Borrower must maintain the house and pay property taxes and homeowners insurance. • A reverse mortgage can complicate one’s wish to keep the house in the family.


A reverse mortgage wouldn’t be the best option if you can’t maintain the costs associated with the home, even without a monthly mortgage payment. If you die or the home isn’t the primary

residence for more than 12 months, the loan comes due, which means either you or the estate has the option to repay the loan or put the home up for sale to settle it. Homeowners interested in taking out a reverse mortgage are required to receive mandatory (free) counseling by an independent third party, including an agency approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development or a national counseling agency such as AARP. These organizations help homeowners review alternative options. “As you get older, it gets harder to grasp some of the terms in these kinds of transactions, so it’s not a bad idea to have someone younger who you trust, like an adult child, involved in the process,” says Phillip Cook, a CFP professional in Manhattan Beach, Calif.


If you decide to proceed with the loan, you can expect to pay higher-than-average closing costs based on the value of your home, including origination fees, upfront mortgage insurance and appraisal fees. The interest rate you pay is also generally higher than that for a traditional mortgage. Anyone who takes out a reverse mortgage remains responsible for paying property taxes, insurance and repairs on their home. If you fail to comply, you may be required to repay your reverse mortgage early. Spending the equity in your home diminishes the value of your estate. “Always explore all other sources of income first before tapping into your home equity,” advises Cook. “Liquidate your portfolio and cut down on your living expenses. If you still don’t have enough, a reverse mortgage may make sense.” ■ Visit Bankrate online at

YOUR PLACE: A time to repair, or maybe a time to reflect BY ALAN J. HEAVENS ■ THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

Summer has gone by quickly — again. Time to start thinking about getting the house ready for winter. It is tradition for my male readers, on the day this column appears each year, to bury the Real Estate section at the bottom of the recycling pile so their wives can’t say, “But Al Heavens said you should clean the gutters.” (It’s too expensive to just recycle a computer or smartphone, so you might as well grin and bear it.) Today, I have to admit that I have fallen behind on my spring and summer chores. I bought a gallon of exterior paint in early March to begin repainting the house for what I say is the last time. As a result of a rainy spring, with painting limited to weekends, and a hot and humid summer, with thunderstorms threatening constantly, I still have one-quarter of that first gallon of paint left. With yard work, I have had some notable successes, however. I built a fourth raised bed in late May, and it has produced a magnificent supply of yellow beans. The three other beds gave us nearly eight weeks of butter-crunch lettuce before the heat caused it to bolt, but the fall lettuce is doing nicely now. The herb garden near the kitchen is thriving, we have had more raspberries than we can consume, and the rain barrels I installed at the garage downspout are usually overflowing, saving, I hope, some money on the water bill. I don’t believe in watering lawns, just gardens. The downside to backyard gardening? The pests: rabbits; chipmunks; squirrels; and

mosquitoes. The rodents took 59 of the 60 apples on the two trees I planted two years ago. I ate the 60th, just to see how it would have tasted. It needed another month. I’m ripening our abundant tomato crop by wrapping them in newspapers and keeping them in the garage. “Look what I found in the pages of the Sunday Inquirer,” I said to my wife as I showed her three nicely ripened large tomatoes. Squirrels and chipmunks will take a bite out of them on the vine, then leave the rest of the tomato open to bugs. That’s the year for you — tomatoes ripened in the hothouse, then in the field and finally in the garage. The rabbits have taken out the zucchini in the garden, as well as the hosta on the north side of the house. The mosquitoes seem to find me even when I’m just thinking about going outdoors — and find me and find me and, well … A major completed project involved gravel — three-eighths of an inch pea shingles, to be precise, which I had delivered in a two-ton load in June. With shovel and borrowed wheelbarrow, I moved the two tons from the driveway to the backyard patio, then used it to create paths and other landscaped spaces. As with everything house-related, I will need more, so another ton will be ordered next month. Unlike the two other houses I have owned over the last 35 years, this one has offered me a

chance to create rather than just fix — including a window seat with bookcases beneath it in the kitchen, a workshop in the garage, an office in the basement, and a wall in the master bedroom with a fireplace, bookcases, and storage for suitcases behind it. If I don’t feel like doing something — too hot to paint, too tired to weed — this house doesn’t

seem to care, if you know what I mean. The other houses wouldn’t let me alone. A problem unattended always grew worse. You may be asking where that promised list of winter prep chores is. I have decided to take a page from my house and give you a break. Enjoy the rest of the summer. Winter can wait. ■

5 ways you can buy a house even if you don’t meet income requirements

Sunday, Sep 4, 2016

The Gazette ·

SH 3

BY NATALIE CAMPISI ■ GOBANKINGRATES.COM Buying a home is an exciting process that takes time, research and money. And for people who need a mortgage, it also usually requires a good credit score. If your credit history is less than what most lenders deem acceptable for a home loan, then it’s time to explore your options. Although rebuilding your credit is one way to improve your chances of qualifying for a mortgage, it can be a lengthy process. Before you even start the application process, use a mortgage qualification calculator to figure out how much you can afford; this will give you an idea of your price range and how much you’ll need to ask the lender for. Many lenders advise not to spend more than 28 percent of your income on your mortgage. Some folks might want to own a home sooner — because of attractive real estate prices or a low annual interest rate — than it might take to boost their credit score. Even if you don’t have time to make a helpful boost to your credit score, there are still things you can do to help yourself get a mortgage. Here’s a list of alternative strategies to help you figure out how to buy a house when you don’t meet certain requirements.


When underwriters look at income, they take a pretty conservative stance. For example, income from your part-time job might not be considered unless you have a history of working more than one job. Rental income might take a 25 percent cut right off the top of your income, and if you deduct business expenses that have yet to be reimbursed on a Schedule 2106, your lender will probably also deduct them from your qualifying income. However, sometimes the rules work in your favor. As required by the Equal Opportunity Act Amendments of 1976, income that the borrower receives from public assistance programs might be used to qualify for a loan if it can be determined that the income will probably continue for three years or more. This can be helpful in boosting total income. Here are other sources of income that you might not have considered: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Alimony or child support Automobile allowance Boarder income Capital gains income Disability income — long-term Employment offers or contracts Employment-related assets as qualifying income Foreign income Foster-care income Interest and dividends income Mortgage credit certificates Mortgage differential payments income Non-occupant borrower income Notes receivable income Public assistance income Retirement, government annuity and pension income Royalty payment income Social Security income Temporary leave income Tip income Trust income Unemployment benefits income VA benefits income


Some mortgages have more forgiving guidelines than others when it comes to income. VA loans, for example, calculate income two ways — the standard debt-to-income method and the “residual income” method, which is much more generous. For people with lower incomes, a worthwhile option to look into is Freddie Mac’s Home Possible program. To qualify, the borrower must have a yearly income that’s either equivalent to or less than the area median income for the census tract where the property is located. The only exception to this rule is if the property is in a designated underserved area or high-cost area. The Home Possible rules state that if the property is in a high-cost area, the annual income can exceed the area median income, within certain limits. Likewise, if the property is in an

underserved area, AMI requirements don’t apply at all. Credit might be another option for people who have a history of paying their bills on time, even if they experienced a period of financial hardship. FHA loan qualifications state that these candidates might still be able to qualify for a loan, regardless of isolated cases of late or slow payments.


There’s always the option of bringing in a coborrower. Extra income allows you to qualify for a bigger mortgage. Co-borrowers can be occupants or non-occupants. An occupying co-borrower lives in the home with you. A non-occupant co-borrower is more like a co-signer; this person doesn’t live in the house but is responsible for the payments. Lenders are more likely to put restrictions on non-occupant co-borrower loans, such as requiring a higher down payment. Government loans come with fewer restrictions. For manually underwritten loans, the income from a non-occupant co-borrower might be considered as acceptable qualifying income. This income can offset certain weaknesses that might be in the occupant borrower’s loan application, such as limited financial reserves or limited credit history.


The term “subprime mortgage” often has a negative connotation because of the housing bubble and financial crisis it’s often associated with; however, subprime mortgages can actually be a gateway to homeownership for some people. Basically, a subprime mortgage is a home loan with higher interest rates than their prime mortgage counterparts. The higher interest rates are in place to offset the risk of loan default by subprime mortgage borrowers who are risky customers because of poor credit. These mortgages might be either fixed or adjustable rate mortgages. The benefit of this kind of mortgage is that people with poor credit don’t have to wait as long to own a home. They can repair their credit by paying their mortgage each month, rather than waiting years to repair their credit and then buy a home. The obvious disadvantage, besides higher rates, is that closing costs and fees associated with home loans will usually be higher for subprime borrowers. Although credit score requirements aren’t as stringent for subprime loans, borrowers must still show proof that they can afford the mortgage payments each month.


It might surprise you to know that income is actually one of the less important underwriting criteria. If you don’t believe it, try calling a few lenders. Tell them you make $1 million a year but have a 500 FICO score and only 5 percent to put down. You won’t get far. You can build a stronger application by including compensating factors such as: • History of a low use of debt • Proof of regular saving habit • Showing that the home you intend to buy is energy-efficient • Holding a job with excellent prospects Documentation of extra, unofficial income, such as commission income that you haven’t been getting for the required minimum of two years People with low-to-moderate incomes get mortgages all the time, especially when they have excellent credit, a decent down payment and money in the bank. Establishing great credit and substantial savings are part of the first few steps to buying a house. It also helps to have an emergency fund — enough in the bank to cover two to six months’ worth of bills — and a credit score of 720 or better. ■ is a leading portal for personal finance news and features, offering visitors the latest information on everything from interest rates to strategies on saving money, managing a budget and getting out of debt.

Featured Houses Featured Home of the Week 5591 Blue Moon | $315,000

Neighborhood: Wolf Ranch Driving Directions: From Woodmen/Powers – North on Powers, 1st right at Research Pkwy, make left at Tutt (1st round about), first left on Flicka, left on Blue Moon. Home on the left. Agent/Company: Lenka Martin, 719-205-5248, For more info:

3 bdrms/3baths/2 car garage/ 2653 total sq ft Ranch plan with finished basement on cul-de-sac. Main level living at its best! Master bed, laundry, second bed or office, two full bathrooms, great room, kitchen & dining nook, outdoor room/covered patio all on one level. Gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances, designer cabinets, granite countertops, hardwood floors. Basement has additional bed and bath, rec room, wet bar, game area and additional storage area This home is part of established Wolf Ranch community with many amenities, and part of low maintenance area called Parkwood where HOA maintains front yard landscaping and snow removal. OPEN HOUSE THIS WEEKEND.






5945 Bow River Drive | $263,000

Neighborhood: Northeast/Sundown Driving Directions: From Woodmen, south onto Austin Bluffs, left onto Whetstone, 2nd left onto Balsam, right onto Corinth & first left onto Bow River. Home is on the left. Agent/Company: Bianca Taylor, 719-229-6488 ERA Shields Real Estate

Fantastic location and spectacular home that has been wonderfully updated. The large kitchen is every cook’s dream; granite countertops, pantry, stainless appliances, breakfast bar that faces towards the dining area! Natural light pervades this immaculate home! 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, 2 car garage. Located on a corner lot with a fabulous flat backyard with mature trees. Walk to the park and school; close to major arteries; this home has it all! Hosted by Erin Handlin 719-651-9683

Featured Open House WOODLAND PARK MASTERPIECE 555 Pembrook Drive | $1,100,000

Hours: September 4 and 5 ~ 12-3pm Neighborhood: The Reserve at Tamarac Driving Directions: From Hwy 24 in Woodland Park, take Hwy 67 North. Right on Fairfield Ln across from Shining Mountain Golf Club. Left on Pembrook Dr. Home is located on the right hand side. Agent/Company: Janet Porterfield, 719-650-0835 Porterfield Real Estate Group This extraordinary executive home with over 7000 sq ft of exquisite finishes features alder cabinetry, granite countertops, gorgeous hardwood and marble flooring, main level master bedroom with private walk-out, two-sided fireplace and adjoining 5-piece master bath. Stunning Pikes Peak views. Great room with stone fireplace, soaring ceilings and opens to gorgeous outdoor entertainment space.

Featured Open House Creek front property! Located in Crystal Hills Neighborhood of Manitou Springs. 22 Sandra Lane | $368,000

Hours: September 4th from 1:00 to 4:00 Neighborhood: Manitou Springs Driving Directions: From Manitou Avenue on the east side of town, turn south onto Crystal Park Road. Left on Sandra Lane. There is a yard sign. Agent/Company: Mike Casey, 685.1212 Homes of Manitou Springs

3 baths / 3 beds / 2 car / 2,560 sf. Wide open floor plan. Engineered wood floors (no carpet) and vaulted ceilings throughout the entire main level. Private bath and walk-in closet in the owner’s suite. Modern kitchen with nice appliances. Gas fireplace in the huge living room. Elevated deck overlooking Sutherland Creek. Large family room with sliding glass doors out to the stamped-concrete patio. Brand new carpet throughout the lower level. Roof and all mechanical systems are in great shape. Central A/C. Attached two-car garage.


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Careers The Gazette ·

SH 5


You took the first step and asked someone to be your mentor. Congrats! Whether you chose this seasoned pro to help you hone specific skills or to give you long-term career advice, it’s up to you to drive the relationship — so you get the most out of the time you’re both putting in. “When you work with a mentor who can give you a lay of the land, support you when you’re faltering and help keep your goals on track, you’ll get from A to B faster and more intelligently because you learn how to avoid common pitfalls and to stay dedicated to your process,” says Gerard Adams, co-founder of media company Elite Daily, entrepreneur, and self-made millionaire. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? It’s a give and take, but with these tips, you’ll be able to maximize your mentorship and jumpstart your career.


If you’re the type of go-getter who’s upping your job game with the help of a mentor, you’re probably a motivated, driven and accomplished person yourself. But in this role, you’ve got to remember that you’re the student, and he or she is the teacher. So relax and allow yourself to be taught. That means respecting your mentor’s opinion, considering everything they say carefully, and ultimately, taking your ego down a notch. “In mentorship, it’s important to be a good listener,” says Adams. “Many people don’t take constructive criticism well and can’t manage their ego that tells them they’re always right. Know that you are always going to be learning, and be willing to listen when advice is brought to the table.”


Chances are, your mentor is extremely busy. He or she hasn’t gotten where he or she is by slacking off. So be respectful of your mentor’s time by scheduling your meetings in whatever way is most convenient for him or her. “Students can get the most out of their mentorships by setting a consistent meeting schedule with their mentors and using every

minute of those meetings to their best interests,” says Greg Stahl, vice president of marketing at Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform based in Boston. “These check-ins could be in-person, via Skype, over the phone — whatever allows the mentorship to fit seamlessly into the mentor’s schedule.”


Too often, and especially in mentorships with younger people, mentees know they want a mentorship but don’t know what they want out of it. That’s why coming to each meeting with guiding questions, based on what you want to accomplish, is key to a successful relationship — plus, it saves you from wasting time figuring out what to focus on. “If you’re still a student, questions could relate to how you can prepare for your career path, how to balance remaining schoolwork with making decisions about your post-grad plans, how to effectively make these decisions, and so on,” says Stahl. You should also learn why your mentor has made professional decisions. It’s helpful to become familiar with your mentor’s career arc and how he or she has achieved professional success — but it’s even more useful to understand why your mentor made such decisions. That way, you can apply a similarly discerning thought process to your own professional choices. “Try to learn how their mind works,” says Susan R. Meyer, president of Life-Work Coach in New York City.


Create a series of short-term and long-term goals — and check in periodically with your mentor so you can track your progress. This will not only help keep you focused and accountable, but it will also show your mentor that his or her advice is valued. “Demonstrate that their investment of time,

effort and expertise in you was worth it via a disciplined focus on key milestones you commit to,” says David Nour, CEO of The Nour Group, a consulting firm based in Atlanta. “They have to see you improve, grow and become a stronger professional. Otherwise, they’ll lose patience and you’ll take the wind out of their sail to want to continue to help you.”


Usually, mentors don’t owe you anything. They’re taking you under their wing under the goodness of their hearts (and they see potential in you). And their investment in you can and often does lead to real results.

Ashley Hill, CEO of College Prep Ready, a Cincinnati-based scholarship firm, remembers how influential her mentor was in finding career success (she was a graduate assistant in her biological sciences degree program). “She took time after class and outside of office hours to help me understand the class material as well as give career guidance,” says Hill. “This relationship led to a $10,000 internship and allowed me to discover my love for research. As a result, I am in a very fulfilling career that is using those research skills to assist students in leveraging talents and achievements to find and win merit scholarships to pay for college.” Someday, you may find the roles reversed, so it’s important to be grateful, especially after you’ve found success. ■

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