Blogs

 - How to Stay Safe While Using Online Banking Services

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more individuals have begun to rely more on online banking than ever before.

Whether it be to deposit a check, initiate a transfer, or pay bills—it has never been easier to access our accounts.

In today’s digital age, there are many benefits to online banking services. It’s easy, convenient, and allows the everyday American to feel more empowered in their financial decisions.

But on the flip side, digital banking can be a dangerous place. Even though Farmers Bank’s online banking takes your security seriously, hackers and other criminals lurk around every corner.

In fact, the US Federal Trade Commission received 2.2 million consumer fraud reports in 2020 alone. 

As these hackers continue to advance their techniques and equipment, they become even more skilled in trying to gain access to accounts of unsuspecting consumers. Even the best online bank can fall victim to fraudulent activity should their customers’ accounts become compromised.

Luckily, there are several steps you can take to better protect yourself and your family as you use these resources.

Keep reading below to learn more.

 

Key Tips to Stay Safe While Using Our Online Banking Services

It's true the threat to consumer security is heightened while using a digital banking service. However, this does not mean these programs cannot be utilized safely. Customers can reap the many benefits and conveniences of online banking, by just taking a few extra steps to prioritize safety.

Consider implementing the below tips to improve your own online safety while accessing financial accounts

.

Do Not Use a Shared Device

While it may be convenient to use digital banking services on the go, it’s important to only do so on a trusted device. Whether it be borrowing a friend’s cell phone, or at an internet café—you never know where your information may land.

This does not just apply to physical devices. Public Wi-Fi networks can serve as a gateway to hacking in many areas.

While it’s true most public networks have grown significantly safer—they may still fall victim to advanced hackers. Protect yourself, and be sure to avoid opening any online banking apps or websites while connected to these networks.

It is possible a malicious actor has placed malware on this device, or some other method of collecting your information. Even if just using a shared device for a few minutes—your account can become compromised with the click of a button.

It is far better to play it safe and avoid logging into sensitive accounts on shared devices.

 

Use a Unique Password

Most of us know by now how important it is to use a complex password. It should have a complicated combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

The more complex a password, the harder it is to hack.

But with that said, there is an extra layer of protection associated with these passwords. Be sure to avoid repeating passwords on other sites, that you then recycle for use with your Farmers Bank’s online banking account, as well.

Should that other, less secure site fall victim to hacking as well, the culprit may be able to connect that other account to your online banking system. From there, it is a simple click of a mouse to log right into your digital banking program.

In order to avoid this occurrence, be sure to use a complex and unique password for any digital banking accounts.

 

Keep Your Devices up to Date

Another important way to protect yourself while using an online banking service is to keep all devices up to date. This includes computers, cell phones, tablets, and other devices.

As technology continues to improve, manufacturers will issue system updates. This often includes security improvements, designed to protect consumers from the constant evolution of hacking.

The more outdated a device is, the less secure it tends to be. For this reason, it is imperative that you keep all devices as updated as possible before using digital banking services.

 

Remain Vigilant Beyond Online Banking

There are other common scams that do not just involve hacking accounts with computers. Phone scams continue to rise in popularity, targeting vulnerable populations in particular.

Be wary of any callers asking for personal information. Even if they identify as representatives of the bank, the government, or any other institution, be skeptical.

Do not be afraid to ask for proof of who the caller is, or what company they claim to be from. Better yet—hang up, and call back the publicly listed customer service number. If the company is legitimate, this should be no problem.

Above all, the best way you can protect yourself online is to stay on your toes. Remain vigilant, and don’t be afraid to be doubtful when something doesn’t feel right.

But in addition to this, it’s imperative that you have a partner in this fight. When looking for a bank in Idaho you can trust—Farmers Bank is the clear solution.

We work hand-in-hand to ensure we are doing our part to protect your accounts, as well.

 

Farmers Bank Online Banking Protects You

Even though there are plenty of dangerous actors out there looking to wreak havoc on your bank accounts, we are here to help. Farmers Bank online banking takes several key steps to protect our customers from falling victim to these attacks.

Furthermore, we offer free online educational courses with advice on how to better protect your identity. You can rest assured that Farmers Bank online banking takes your security seriously.

For more information on how you can stay safe while using our digital banking services, contact us today!

-Your Southern Idaho Land Loan Experts



There are dozens of reasons you may need to get a loan during your lifetime. From mortgages and auto loans to small business and personal loans, there is no shortage of loan opportunities available.

Though not quite as common as other types of loans, land loans are perfect for those looking to build their own house or use the land for recreational purposes.

 

What are Land Loans?

Land loans are loans specifically crafted for purchasing different types of land, either for personal or commercial use. Depending on your goals, there are different types of land loans available.

A raw land loan is for land that is completely undeveloped. This land does not currently have access to roads, electricity, or sewers. The benefit is that this type of land tends to be the cheapest.

Raw land loans are harder to get since they pose the most risk to lenders. You'll need a detailed plan of how you intend on using the land. A land loan down payment tends to be higher than home loans. You'll also want a strong credit score.

Unimproved land loans are similar to raw land loans, except the land has a bit more access. It may have access to some utilities and roads but isn't fully ready to build upon.

Lastly, improved land loans have greater access to utilities such as water and electricity, along with convenient roads. Improved land tends to be the most expensive type of land, but the loans are lower risk, meaning the requirements may not be as strict.

Most large, national banks do not offer land loans because they are at higher risk than home loans. Borrowers who finance land are more likely to walk away, leaving the lender to deal with an unwanted property. As such, residential or recreational land loan interest rates are usually higher than mortgage rates.

Smaller, local banks are more likely to work with you to obtain land loans, especially if you have plans to build in the immediate future.


Uses for Land Loans

There are many reasons to purchase land in the first place. Most people who intend on buying land plan to build their dream home or cabin. With a solid plan in place to make it happen, obtaining a land loan for this is very doable.

Land loans for agricultural purposes are also very common and have specialized land loans for this purpose.

Others purchase land in order to start a business or relocate their personal residence. Maybe they simply need more space or want to capitalize on up-and-coming areas. 

And still, others simply intend on using the land for recreational purposes. Having your own private piece of property to hunt, fish, or four-wheel is a dream come true for many.

Whatever your intended use, Farmers Bank is one of the best banks in the Magic Valley for land loans. We have a multitude of loan options and can work with you to create the perfect lending plan.


Land Loan Lenders Near Me

Farmers Bank is an independent community bank located in the Magic Valley of southern Idaho. With over 100 years of experience in serving our local communities, we pride ourselves on offering the best lending products for our customers.

We have six branch locations in and around Twin Falls. We can't wait to speak with you about your land-ownership goals. Whether you are looking to acquire new land or refinance land loans, we are here to help.


Contact us today so we can work together on creating the perfect land loan for you.

"A Tradition You Can Count On": 5 Reasons Why You Should Choose Farmers Bank

Are you looking for a new bank that you can build a business relationship with? Are you tired of feeling uneasy about the way that your current bank treats you? If so, then you need to learn more about Farmers Bank and why we're the best option for your needs. Doing so can help you make an informed decision. As our motto implies, we pride ourselves on being “A Tradition You Can Count On”. In other words, a tradition that's so tried and true, it'll work wonders for your needs.

See below for several reasons why you should choose Farmers Bank for your personal and/or business banking needs moving forward.

 

1. Strong Tradition

We know that there are a seemingly endless number of banking options out there, but how many of them can say they truly believe in your community. Many banks have come and gone, but Farmers Bank has stayed true to the Magic Valley. 

The Hamilton family has owned and grown the bank since 1918, encompassing over 100 years and four generations. As the area has grown and matured, the Hamilton family continues to see the same level of potential in this community that J.C. Hamilton saw back in 1918.

Many outsider banks see your personal and business needs as a chance to grow their own pockets. Farmers Bank has a proven track record of embracing local potential, growing those relationships, and providing the funds and services to help them succeed. 

We pride ourselves on serving the people of the Magic Valley. In fact, we want to help you grow a tradition of your own with the investments that you make. Trust in Farmers Bank and we won't let you down! We will always be "A Tradition You Can Count On".

2. Personal Touch

As an active member of the community, we've taken tremendous strides in proving our loyalty to the great people of the Magic Valley.

We don't just want to make a business transaction, we want to make a connection with you and your family. Each day we focus on being as friendly and reliable as possible. You tell us what you need and we'll work to the best of our ability to make that happen.

Unlike other banks who will say whatever they need to in order to get you to commit to their schemes, we'll be honest and upfront with you. If there's some work that needs to be done, we'll let you know it.

We're happy to answer any questions that you have. If you have a question we don't know the answer to, we'll do all we can to solve it. 

Our focus is making life as lucrative and enjoyable as possible for our market. We've shown time and time again how our personal touch sets us apart and sets our clients up for success. As the old saying goes, "if it ain’t broken, don't fix it".

 

3. Variety of Services

To put it simply: we have everything you could possibly need in a bank.  The Magic Valley has a wide variety of businesses and thriving industries in it, so we aim to keep up.

For example, we offer a plethora of helpful loans such as ready reserve overdraft protection, agricultural loans, home mortgage loans, consumer loans, commercial loans, and SBA loans to help the local market continue to grow.

If you're a local business, we offer support in the form of business credit cards, check re-order, online/mobile banking, merchant services, merchant remote deposit, ACH direct deposit, night drop boxes and safe deposit boxes to protect your assets. If you're unfamiliar with these services, we'd be happy to explain them and their benefits in further detail.

Of course, we're not just focused on business. We want to help you take care of your personal finances as well. We can offer you all the new electronic banking tools you might need along with Bill Pay, Zelle funds transfers, and mobile deposit plus checking/savings accounts, IRAs, Certificates of Deposit, credit cards, check cards, and uChoose Rewards . That way, all your bases are covered.

No matter what your needs are, we're a bank you can trust. Stop by or give us a call to learn more about how our services can make your life easier.

 

 4. Modern Banking Made Easy

Many banks are behind on the times in the services they offer. Farmers Bank has placed a premium on providing our customers with all the latest and greatest in banking technology.

Look no further than mobile banking. You'll be able to access and control your bank accounts, credit cards, and loans from wherever you are with online banking or mobile banking. You can quickly check the balance, transfer funds, and pay bills from your smartphone. 

Farmers Bank also offers a way to minimize contact in these unprecedented times by allowing you to place your Farmers Bank Credit/Check Card in your mobile wallet.

 

5. Competent Staff

A bank is only as good as the staff that occupies it. We place all of our efforts into making sure that our staff is well-compensated, well-trained, and treated with respect.

Each member of our staff is knowledgeable on all of our services, excels in their position, and prioritizes your needs. They're happy to help you in any way that they can.

We're one big family here at Farmers Bank. Whether you're a client or a staff member, we want to make you a part of our family and the tradition we're continuing to grow. 


Trust Farmers Bank for All Your Personal and Business Needs

Now that you have seen a list of reasons why you should choose Farmers Bank for all of your banking needs, be sure to reach out or give us a visit!

Be sure to visit this page in order to learn about what's new with our bank and everything we're adding to heighten your experience as one of our clients.

For more inquiries, please be sure to reach out via our contact us page and we will be happy to assist you further.

- Detecting Common Phone Scams (& How to Avoid Them)

 Phone scams can happen in a number of ways. From robocalls, to real people pretending to be somebody else, to unsolicited text messages designed to look like they are coming directly from your bank; scammers are getting more and more sophisticated when it comes to stealing your personal and private information. In 2018, the FTC reported more than 3 million calls, stating that the national average is continuing to go up from previous years.

“We collected more than 1.4 million fraud reports, and people said they lost money to the fraud in 25% of those reports. People reported losing $1.48 billion to fraud last year – an increase of 38% over 2017.” (FTC, 2019)

Scam artists do not discriminate against age, race, gender or socioeconomic status, so how do you go about recognizing them and defending yourself? Our number one piece of advice is to just say “No, thank you” and then hang up. However, if you are interested in learning more about some of the most common phone scams and how you can avoid them continue reading below. Interested in finding new ways to protect your identity? Check out our FREE online education courses.

Common Phone Scams


“CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve won _________!”
Have you ever received a phone call like this? Saying you’ve just won some tropical vacation that includes a seven night stay while promising you the moon and the stars? Odds are, you’ve most likely been attacked by a phone scam-artist. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Be weary of great deals on travel packages, hotels, flights, etc. That “great deal” could turn into hundreds to thousands of dollars in hidden fees.

One-Ring Scams
These are tricky. These are those times that you receive a phone call from an unrecognized number but it only rings once in hope that you will return the call. The caller may even leave a voicemail asking that you return the call because of reasons X, Y and Z. Although, this may seem innocent; the second you hit the redial button you’re setting yourself up to be scammed. The scam actually happens when you return the call. You will get automatically charged a connection fee due to it being an international call that might have been masked to look like a US number.

“This is the IRS calling…”
With tax season on the horizon, the number of phone calls that you are going to receive from the “IRS” are likely to go up. You may receive a call stating that you owe back on your taxes, and the caller will then attempt to steal your personal information by threatening you with some type of legal action. Whatever you do, do not give in. The more pushy the caller is the more likely it is a scam.

“There’s a warrant out for your arrest!”
Hopefully this kind of phone call will automatically raise a red flag, but it may be more believable if the call is concerning a loved one or a family friend that is in trouble and needing money. It is in our human nature to stay out of trouble so you may be tempted to act quickly in these situations. However, do not wire money to anybody under any circumstances over the phone without first proving their identity. Understand that debt collectors do not have the power to arrest anybody. If you are truly concerned about legal action, hang up and call your local police station to get more information.

Google My Business Scams
This one is geared more toward small business owners. First and foremost, you will never receive an unsolicited call from Google asking you to pay money to get your Google My Business (GMB) account set up. GMB is a free service that allows you to be easily found on the search engine. If someone claims to be from Google and asks that you send them money to get “verified” hang up, immediately. GMB has great resources to teach you how to identify scammers on Google My Business Help pages.

Charities
In the midst of a tragedy or natural disaster you can expect to receive phone calls from scammers that have set up fake organizations looking to take advantage of your generosity. Before agreeing to anything be sure to look into the organization to make sure that it is a legitimate charity, and don’t give into pressure when asked to donate right away. Contact the state consumer protection office or the Better Business Bureau before choosing to donate.

Bank Alerts
Have you ever received a voicemail from a robotic phone operator claiming that there are problems with your debit/credit card? These kinds of phone scams can even come as a well-designed text message that looks like it is coming from your bank. Popular banking scams include; overpayment scams, unsolicited check fraud, automatic withdraws and phishing. Hang up and call your banking establishment’s designated customer service number whenever asked to verify your banking details over the phone.

So what do you do?


Use caution when answering phone calls
This may go without saying, but always be cautious when answering unrecognized phone numbers. If somebody really needs to get ahold of you they will leave a legitimate message. If you decide to answer, be sure to ask multiple questions and be patient. If the caller or telemarketer is trying to get you to make an immediate decision - rest assured that it is probably a scam. If the caller asks, “Can you hear me?” Don’t respond with “Yes.” This gives the scammer the opportunity to record your audible consent and then they can manipulate it and use it against you.

Sign up for the National Do Not Call Registry
This is a free service that allows you to choose not to have your number put on telemarketers call lists. You can register both your home line and your mobile device.

Absolutely DO NOT Provide Your Personal Information
Never offer personal or account information over the phone without verifying the caller’s identity. If you’re feeling suspicious, trust your instincts and hang up and initiate the call yourself by using a known number.

Use Pins and Passwords
Some scams actually hack into your phone by downloading viruses so they are able to access your personal information, including your banking records. Set the phone to require a password to power on the handset or awake it from sleep mode. If it's lost or stolen any personal information stored on the device will be more difficult to access. Only download authorized apps and if you receive a suspicious text with a link refrain from clicking on the link. Treat your mobile device like your wallet and do everything you can to protect it.

Don’t feel bad about hanging up on robotic calls
You may be tempted to follow the prompt to be connected to a representative and ask to be put on their Do Not Call list, but please refrain. This will most likely actually lead to more robotic calls in the future. Just hang up.

Contact the Federal Trade Commission

You can do this online or by phone at 1-877-382-4357 to report suspicious calls. For a more-detailed list of common phone scams and ways to avoid them, visit www.usa.gov/common-scams-frauds.
____________________________

For more information contact our customer service team at 208-734-1500 or contact us online.

- Previous Blogs

10 Ways Ag Loans Can Help Your Farming Business Grow

Farming is a business with significant equipment needs. Every farm operation relies on tools to help get the job done. While some equipment may only be a small purchase, other equipment is a significant investment.

Because the equipment is a major cost driver for farm operations, it is critical to evaluate and plan for your ongoing needs. In some cases, a farm equipment loan might make the most sense. Because the equipment is vital to keeping an agricultural business running at full capacity, it becomes a purchase that cannot be delayed.

 

Considerations of a Farm Equipment Loan

The decision to replace farm equipment is complex. When looking at existing equipment, you should factor in reliability, changes in capacity, and tax savings of a new equipment purchase.

But it is more than just the up-front cost. The total cost of ownership includes maintenance and the interest that may be paid on financing the purchase. However, these costs may be offset if production can increase, be made more efficient, or savings in repairs on older equipment.

As you look to make an equipment purchase, you can consider buying at a slow time to get a better deal. You can look at different financing options. An experienced agricultural lender can help you find the right loan term with a competitive interest rate and affordable repayment.

Reliable equipment can improve your overall farm operation. Purchasing production and processing equipment and help improve your profitability. Farm equipment loans can be used for a range of equipment and vehicles, such as:


  • Combines
  • Tractors
  • Balers, plows, planters, and sprayers
  • Drying and storage equipment
  • Logging equipment

At the time that you begin assessing your equipment purchase, you should also start working on your loan application. You want to have your financing lined up at the time that you make the decision on which piece of equipment to buy. Even if you do not have the specifics, such as the final purchase price, talking to a lender can give you an idea of the terms and the monthly payment.

 

Information Needed for a Loan Application

If you have not taken out a farm equipment loan before, or it has been a while, you need to be prepared with some information when you talk to a lender. Having this information ready can make the process go more smoothly.

You will need to prepare a financial statement. These are often detailed and can take some time to compile. You'll need to provide schedules of your existing machinery and equipment, as well as your crop/livestock inventory, real estate, and other assets. You'll also need to identify any debts that you have, both personal and for the farm operation.

You will need to provide several years' worth of tax returns. The lender will look closely at your Schedule F to analyze your farm income and expenses. If you have your operating line of credit with the same bank, they may have some of this information on file, along with your projected cash flow for the year.

Once you have identified the equipment that you want to purchase, you need to give the bank a description of the equipment and the purchase price. This will be the collateral for your new farm equipment loan.

 

How to Qualify For a Farm Equipment Loan

The bank will gather your financial information and put your application through underwriting. A credit analyst will examine your cash flow and overall farm business based on the information that you have supplied.

Because of the cyclical nature of farming, cash flow can be tricky. You may have months where you do not have as much income, yet the equipment loan will still have a fixed monthly payment. Fortunately, experienced agricultural credit analysts are very familiar with monthly cash flow analysis and know-how to assess shortfalls.

If you have an agricultural operating line of credit, this can further supplement the months where you may fall short. The bank will know that you have access to funds, provided you have enough available on the line even with the new payment.

The bank is ultimately looking at your repayment capacity: does your farm operation generate enough income to make the payment on the new loan for farm equipment?

 

FSA Guaranteed Loans

If you have trouble qualifying for a loan due to lack of collateral, lack of credit, or lack of financial equity, you may be able to get a Farm Service Agency (FSA) guaranteed loan. The loan is still between you and the bank, but the FSA backs the loan, making it less risky for the bank.

While the FSA does not do term loans specifically to finance the purchase of equipment, it does provide operating loans, which could be used to buy equipment.

The FSA has different requirements for loan eligibility. You should talk to an FSA lender to determine what else you may need. In addition to the bank's own requirements, you may need to provide a resume, farm history, information on any past government loans, projections, and five years of crop yields.

The bank will go through its own approval process for your loan. Then the lender will submit your application to the FSA for approval. If approved, the FSA notifies the lender to close the loan and disburse the funds.

 

Finding a Lender for Your Farm Equipment Loan

When it comes to financing your farm equipment loan, you want a lender that understands agricultural lending. Farm operations are unique and different from commercial businesses. An experienced ag lender will help you find the right type of loan and terms to purchase farm equipment.

At Famers Bank, we have been working with Magic Valley ag businesses for over a century. Contact us today to speak to a lender about your farm equipment needs.



 

Choosing Banks in Twin Falls, Idaho: A Guide 

Are you looking for a trustworthy bank in the Twin Falls area? Do you need a change of pace from the bank that you have used in the past? If so, then you need to identify the best banks in Twin Falls during your search.

Doing so can help you find a bank with a customer-first mindset. You need someone that's willing to give you financial support towards your endeavors and has a track record of success. Talk is cheap, let the bank's history determine whether they're to be trusted or not.

See below for a guide you can use to find reputable banks in Twin Falls. Find the best bank in Idaho, and your financial needs will be met from this day forward.


1. Focus on Tradition

As the great Martin Luther King Jr once said, "We are not makers of history. We are made by history". In other words, the history of each person or company speaks to how they think, act, and behave daily.

What does this have to do with banks? We at Farmers Bank believe that history can help you indicate which bank you should trust with your personal and commercial finances. 

Some banks have a questionable reputation in their history. At Farmers Bank, we pride ourselves on our roots. Our bank began in 1917, and has been run by the Hamilton family lineage ever since!

In over 100 years of business in the state of Idaho, we've developed successful branches in six different locations. We take the time to train our staff efficiently to ensure they provide our customers with friendliness and fair offers on all of our services.

We're not just a bank, we're a member of the Twin Falls community. We want your personal and commercial needs to be met so that you can also help us grow our community's future.


2. Accessibility

There's a balance to be had when finding the bank that you'll trust with you and your family's finances.

You want to find a bank that has the friendliness and at-home feel of a smaller bank, but one that is also accessible wherever you are in town. Otherwise, you have to go out of your way to withdraw money, discuss loans with the bankers, etc.

As previously mentioned, Farmers Bank currently has six locations, three of which are within the Twin Falls city limits. We have our Blue Lakes, Pole Line, and Shoshone Street locations.

If you're a bit outside of Twin Falls, you can also visit our Wendell, Jerome, or Buhl location. We want you to feel like you have a special connection with each of our branches.

Our goal is to make you feel right at home, no matter which branch you visit. As our mission statement implies, we strive to make a "Tradition that you can count on" for each of our locations.

Wherever we set up shop, we're focused on that branch helping build the economic strength of that community. As a whole, the state of Idaho is on the rise, and we want it to have a scalable economic backing as it continues to grow!


3. Innovative Products and Services

At first glance, you might assume that a bank that prides itself on tradition wouldn't be open to new ideas. 

While tradition is at the backbone of everything we do, it doesn't stop us from adding new and innovative services that are going to improve our customer's experience.

Any time you look into a bank, make sure they offer groundbreaking services for your convenience. For example, mobile banking can help you do such things as:

  1. Make sure your bill payments are on time.
  2. View your account transactions.
  3. View your account's balances.
  4. Transfer funds from one account to the next.
  5. Customize the alerts sent to your phone, ensuring you're in the loop with your accounts.

4. Loan Options

Imagine the horror of committing yourself to a bank, then finding out they don't offer the type of loan that you need. For example, they might not offer agricultural loans, consumer loans, or small business loans.

Now you're forced to go to another bank besides your primary one to get the loan you need. 

At Farmers Bank, we offer loans such as:

  • Small Business (SBA) Loans
  • Consumer Loans
  • Ready Reserve
  • Agricultural Loans
  • Home Mortgage Loans
  • Commercial Loans

If you have a need, we can accommodate it. We want to make sure you have the financial backing that you need for all your personal and business endeavors.


5. Focus on Both Personal and Business 

It's rare to be able to find a bank that focuses on providing personal and business products for its clientele. They usually prioritize one or the other, severely lacking in opportunistic products for the other.

At Farmer's Bank, we're committed to both. We realize the impact that both personal and commercial finances play in our Twin Falls community. 

Look for Banks in Twin Falls that offer personal financing services/products such as:

  • Certificates of Deposits
  • Mobile Banking
  • Bill Pay
  • uChoose Rewards
  • Check Reorder
  • Safe Deposit Boxes 
  • Individual Retirement Accounts & More

On the business side of things, look for banks that offer products such as:

  • Electronic Banking
  • MyCardCreation®
  • Bill Pay
  • e-Statements
  • Business Check Cards
  • Business Credit Cards
Find the Best Banks in Twin Falls for Your Needs

Now that you have seen the different factors that you should look for in the best banks in Twin Falls, make sure to use them to your advantage.

Be sure to read this article for more information on the 5 reasons why you should choose Farmers Bank over any other banks in Twin Falls.

For more inquiries, please be sure to reach out via our contact us page and we will be happy to assist you further.



 

5 Tips to Prepare for a Mortgage

Buying a home is one of the biggest investments and commitments that you’ll make in your lifetime. As you prepare to purchase your first (or even second or third) home, you need to establish a solid savings plan along with good spending habits. Below are five tips on how to better-prepare for a mortgage.

  • Put Together A Realistic Budget 
    Creating a monthly budget is a great way to save for a down payment on a home while also giving you a better idea of how much you can realistically spend on a monthly house payment.

    • The general rule of thumb is that a household should spend no more than 28% of its total monthly income on housing expenses. Another recommendation is that the household should spend a maximum of 36% on all of their debt, combined. Knowing this, and these numbers, should help as you begin to plan a budget that doesn’t break the bank and leave you financially distressed.

    • Budgeting is a great way to get in the habit of paying a large monthly payment. A great place to start would be by putting an estimated house payment into a designated savings account each month to help you save up for a down payment, while also getting you into the habit of spending $XXXX each month (with money set aside for additional housing expenses that may pop up along the way).
As you sit down and begin to write out your budget make sure to include all of your monthly bills, estimated costs for gas and groceries, and a designated amount of expendable income for eating out/entertainment.

  • Save Up For a Down Payment
    Most financial institutions recommend saving at least 20% of your total estimated mortgage when buying a home.

    • The more money you have to put toward a down payment, the lower your interest rates and monthly payments. This can take months, even years to accomplish; which is why is important to start saving early when considering buying a home.

    • Another option is to apply for an FHA loan. These loans, insured by the Federal Housing Administration, are strictly reserved for first time home buyers. They allow lower down payments (3.5%) as long as you have a 580+ credit score. You can still qualify for an FHA loan if your credit score ranges from 500-579 if you have 10% down. Mortgage insurance is required for these types of loans, but it makes buying a home more affordable for those who aren’t capable of saving 20% of their total estimated mortgage cost.
  • Pay Off Your Debt
    Before diving headfirst into a heaping new pile of debt, you should begin working to pay off your smaller loans to help cut back on your monthly costs. A great strategy to apply here is the debt snowball technique taught by personal finance guru, Dave Ramsey.

    The Debt Snowball 
    • This strategy revolves around paying off your smallest loans first while continuing to make the minimum payments on your larger debts. As you pay off each loan, you will then redirect or “snowball”, the funds you were spending toward your next loan on your list, with each payment getting larger and larger without changing your monthly living costs. This strategy may not save you on interest, but it helps keep you motivated to tackle each loan.

    • Think of it this way: Say you have a car loan for $12,000 and a total of $40,000 in student loans. You would dedicate as much of your expendable income as possible toward your car payment ($300/month) until that loan is paid off while still making the bare minimum payment of $400 on your student loans. Once your car is paid off, you would then pay a total of $700/month of your student loans until those are completely paid off.

    • The debt snowball technique is just one of the many strategies used to pay down your debts. Do your research and find one that works best for you. Keep in mind that as you pay off each loan your credit score will change. Some debt can be used to your advantage when it comes to building your credit score (see below).

  • Build Your Credit Score
    Your credit score has a major impact on your ability to finance a home. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest and monthly payments will be

    • Lenders look at your credit score as a way of analyzing whether or not they can trust you to make monthly payments. It is important that you are familiar with your own credit score and that you work to improve your credit score in the months leading up to applying for a mortgage.

    • Make sure not to close any of your current accounts during the same calendar year that you plan to buy a home, as this can drastically affect your score. Be sure not to sign or co-sign for any other major loans during that time, as well. Reach out to a bank mortgage loan officer at Farmer’s Bank for more information on ways to improve your credit score. Contact us at 208-734-1500 or contact us online.

  • Last but not least… Do your homework & be realistic with your goals

    Don’t rush into a mortgage just because you’re in a hurry to close on a home. Be sure to look into different lenders and options to make sure that you get the best deal possible - you’ll be making payments on this mortgage for a good portion of your life so make sure to take your time and do your research. Understand the difference between a 15- and a 30-year mortgage while also double-checking on prepayment penalties to ensure you don’t get penalized for paying your mortgage (or any other loan) off early.

    Realistically set a time frame that you aim to accomplish these tasks so that moving forward you’ll be set up for success. The more upfront you are with your goals and expectations at the beginning of the process, the better off you will be five years down the road when you’re in the smack-dab in the middle of it all.
For more information reach out to our mortgage specialists ,call us at 208-734-1500, or contact us online.
 
 


Financial Habits to Help Build your Credit Score

We live in a world that demands good credit. If you want to finance anything - be it a car or a home mortgage - you have to have good credit. Whether you’re trying to raise your credit score due to prior derogatory marks on your account, or you’re starting from scratch with little-to-no credit history; these tips and tricks are proven strategies to help raise your credit score wherever you’re at in life.
 
  • Know What Your Credit Score Is (Weekly and Annual Reports): There are free credit monitoring apps and services that you can use to check your credit score weekly and annually. Both Credit Karma and TurboTax are great resources to give you good perspective as to what your credit score looks like on a week-to-week basis. Weekly monitoring is a great way to catch little mistakes and stay up-to-date on all of the changes happening on a weekly basis. You should also take advantage of the opportunity to request your full credit report one time per year without having an affect on your score.
     
  • Dispute Inaccuracies: As soon as you come across a red flag that there was a hit on your credit, dispute it. A missed payment that wasn’t truly missed or an account opened under your name by somebody else can take a serious toll on your credit score. That is why it is so incredibly important that you dispute any mistakes that you find as soon as they arise. At the end of the day, you are solely responsible for your own credit health.

  • Pay Your Bills On Time (Or Before They’re Due): While there are multiple factors that affect your credit score, payment history is the most important of them all. Making up 35% of your FICO credit score, missing a single payment can be detrimental to your credit health. These marks can leave lasting impressions on your credit report for up to seven years. The best way to prevent this from happening altogether is by setting up automatic payments that are scheduled to go through before your bill is due. This will ensure that payments are made on time, and will boost your score even more by paying before the initial due date. Making multiple payments throughout the month is another great way to score extra points on your report, as well.

  • Take Out A Secured Loan or Credit Builder Loan: Creditors want to see that you’re utilizing your credit and making monthly payments. By taking out a secured loan, you are putting up collateral to back the loan to ensure creditors that you’ll be making payments on time. You can either use the loan to pay for something you currently need, or save it to repay the loan monthly to guarantee that you’ll have the funds to do so. A Credit Builder Loan is another great option because you will essentially get all of your money back once the loan is paid off. The money you put toward the loan goes into a savings account so that when it is paid off, a large percentage of it is returned back to you while simultaneously raising your credit score in the process - it’s a win-win.

  • Apply For A Secured Credit Card: Secured Credit Cards are different from regular credit cards because you place a refundable security deposit on the card that acts as your credit limit. This guarantees that you will never spend more than you already have, but allows you to raise your credit score in a safe and practical way. Some secured cards even offer rewards programs as an incentive to sign up and utilize them.

  • Keep Unused Accounts Open - Just Freeze Them: If you have older accounts that you don’t use anymore, push the pause button on calling to close those accounts. Instead, cut up the card and ensure you’ve paid off your entire bill before essentially forgetting about it. Letting your credit accounts age is a great way to raise your credit score over time while keeping multiple lines/forms of credit open looks great on your FICO report. On the other hand, don’t try to open six accounts in a single calendar year. The more hard inquiries you have on your account, the lower your score will drop. Spread out larger purchases to give your credit score a break.

  • Keep Total Debt Below 10% of Total Available Credit: Your total available credit is the credit limit on all of your accounts. For example, if you have five cards with $2,000 limits on each card, then your total available credit is $10,000. Therefore, you should keep less than $1,000 total on your cards to maximize your credit utilization score.

For more information on ways to improve your credit score reach out to us at 208-734-1500 or contact us online.