Finish your holiday shopping in five minutes Nov 18, 2013, 9:00 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Looking for the perfect gift for those hard-to-please relatives and friends?

Didn’t get all your holiday shopping done on Black Friday? Shopped out?

We have the solution: a VISA® Gift card. Bank of American Fork’s VISA® Gift cards allow recipients to decide how they want to spend their money, saving you the hassle of shopping for all the people on your list. They’re the perfect gift for any occasion, including those coming up—holidays and end-of-the-year employee rewards.

VISA® Gift cards can be used to make purchases in stores, in restaurants, over the phone, online, or anywhere VISA® cards are accepted. VISA® Gift cards are available in any whole-dollar amount from $25 up to $500 when purchased online or up to $750 when purchased in a branch. You can pay for in-branch purchases right out of your Bank of American Fork checking account.

Learn more about VISA® Gift cards and applicable fees, or visit a branch or order online.

VISA®, VISA (stylized) and the name Visa are federally registered Trademarks of Visa.

Rehabilitation loans Nov 12, 2013, 8:40 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

When a customer came to Becky Ivins and Layne Cardon interested in buying a home that needed a lot of fixing up, they did what they usually do: look for a custom-fit solution that would work for the customer and for Bank of American Fork. The solution was a rehabilitation loan.

Rehabilitation loans work this way: the bank uses a construction loan to aid in the purchase of a home in need of rehabilitation. The appraiser looks at the current value of the home and the expected value after rehabilitation. The loan includes money to fix the home up. The loan then rolls over to a mortgage based on the higher value. In the end, the homeowner generally has an immediate ROI with the extra equity that results.

This is not a get-rich-quick scheme, but generally has win-win-win outcomes. This is a good program for first-time home buyers and a good way for individuals to build a rental portfolio using solid financial practices; this process improves run-down homes in older neighborhoods and has a positive effect on property values; and the bank benefits from these loans.

“I had a client that had lived in his home for several years and he needed to update the home and add extra bedrooms,” said Ivins. “We were able to help him add an extra bedroom and bathroom.  We started with the construction loan, paid off his existing mortgage with the loan and then he rehabbed the home. In the end, his payment was just a little bit higher and he was able to reduce his rate.”

The following are some FAQs about rehabilitation loans:

Q: What do I need to have in order to be considered for a loan like this?

A: It’s a good idea to have:

• A source for foreclosed or run-down homes. One example is www.hudhomestore.gov for FHA-foreclosed homes.

• A financial institution.

• Some cash—at least 20-30 percent of the project cost to invest, depending on the project cost.

• A good contractor.

• An inspector.

• Landlord experience.

• Time.

• A realtor that understands the process.

• An idea of rents in the area. You can try looking at services like www.rentometer.com.

Q: What are the first steps in obtaining a rehab loan?

A: Contact Becky Ivins at Bank of American Fork—she’ll send you a list of questions to get the initial process rolling. You’ll need to be prequalified to purchase a property, and after that, Becky Ivins (NMLS #447529) or Layne Cardon (NMLS#447514) will sit down with you to go over the details of your specific situation. Once you’re prequalified, you find the property that fits the program. A realtor can help calculate the estimated rent, how much it would cost to rehab, an estimated return on investment and whether it’s better to rent the property or resell it.

Q: What are some of the risks, pitfalls or things to avoid?

A: First of all, we will help you look for some of the problems that a person obtaining this type of loan might face (sometimes this is why a loan is turned down). Ivins always tells those who are interested, “We’ll work through the numbers together and figure out if this might work for you.” That being said, there are some risks you should consider.

If you have not been a landlord or had rentals before, it can be a challenging and frustrating process.  The key is learning about the program and getting all the details before you begin.

Don’t be surprised if along the way you have some things that you did not think you would need to fix and end up having to fix them.  That is why it is best to have some cash available.

If you can’t sell the home, finish the project or rent it out for enough to service the debt, you could lose money or even go bankrupt.

Rehabilitation loans are a good option for first-time homebuyers, and a good way for individuals to build a rental portfolio using solid financial practices. Becky Ivins and Layne Cardon at Bank of American Fork have the experience with this type of loan that will help you feel confident and comfortable. If you want to learn more, call 800-815-BANK and ask for Becky Ivins or Layne Cardon.

Vote with your money: Move to a community bank Nov 05, 2013, 8:00 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

When it comes to banking, your vote is the one that matters. If you want your bank to take care of you personally, support the local economy and get the most for your money, then show your vote by switching to a community bank.

Why? Here’s the short version:

    Community banks usually have just as many services. Bank of American Fork offers online bill pay, online money manager (an aggregator and budgeting tool), person-to-person electronic payments, mobile apps and more.

    Community banks support the local economy. The loans we make are usually local and we pay local taxes.

    We’re fast. Because decision-making is local, we can be quick about it.

    We care about the community. We are here to stay. We want to be involved in community events. We want to support community-building teams, groups, activities and people.

    Community banks care about you. When you switch to a community bank, you’re switching to personalized service and relationship-based banking. We don’t just want to give you a place to put your money, we want to help you understand your options and become more financially savvy.

Tell us, what do you look for in a bank?

Thinking of switching to a community bank? Call 800-815-BANK to find out more.

Senior finances: How families should help Nov 04, 2013, 8:45 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Putting checks in place, not blame

Families are often together during the holidays, making it a great time to talk about how everyone can be involved in protecting senior family members from financial abuse. Some shy away from money talk, but families can take the pressure off the situation by making the conversation about putting checks in place, not about blame.

In Utah, up to $1 million a day is stolen from seniors—an average of $85,253 per victim (Source: The Utah Cost of Financial Exploitation, Jilenne Gunther, MSW, ID, Legal Services Developer, Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services). The majority of seniors are exploited when they become unable to manage their own finances and they have to ask for help. However, families and trusted friends or advisors can put systems in place so that help is available when needed, without the threat of fraud or liability of false accusations.

The top three ways seniors are exploited happen when seniors deed their homes, add others as a joint bank account holder or give to someone else a  general financial power of attorney. These are often done to make it easier to manage their finances, but there are ways to help without so much risk. Since 57 percent of the amount stolen from seniors is stolen by family members, putting precautions in place protects everyone involved.

Use third-party monitoring. Instead of giving the helper joint access to accounts to make sure the senior family member isn’t being scammed, consider asking a family member, CPA or trusted friend to monitor accounts with extra statements or online view-only access. There are several ways this acts as a precaution. In a situation where the helper has read-only access instead of joint account access, helpers can watch for scams or fraud by others, while the senior still maintains full control over their finances. On the other side, if a helper is added as a joint account owner, they are seen as an equal, regardless of who originally owned the account. One of the implications of having a helper that has joint access is that they can make payments or account changes without any approval from the senior. Another is that now that account and the senior are vulnerable to lawsuits or tax liability of the joint owner—the money, by law, is seen as theirs and can be seized.

Limit access to nest eggs.  If a senior has a nest egg, and a helper is needed to manage bills or payments, consider adding the helper to a second smaller account. At Bank of American Fork, seniors can set up automatic transfers each month so the amount that is needed to pay bills would come from the larger account that income is deposited in. Then, the helper can be given access to the smaller account for paying bills, limiting the risk of fraud to only the balance in the smaller account.

Use a limited power of attorney agreement instead of a general financial power of attorney. A general financial power of attorney agreement means that the helper has unlimited power—to sell the house or car even. This creates serious temptation, even for honest people. Using a limited power of attorney agreement to assist with smaller accounts only means that the senior can still get the help they need, but in a less risky way. This also protects the helper or family member involved from being falsely accused of mismanaging funds or other assets. Sometimes disagreements within families about how to manage the senior family member’s finances result in false blame.

Don’t deed your home. A senior who deeds their home can be kicked out—they no longer control the home. This can be the result of conscious fraud, but it can also be an accident. The home is now vulnerable to a lawsuit or liability against the helper that the home is deeded to, and can be repossessed. Most of the time, a home is the owner’s largest asset. Thus, it is recommended that they keep this financial safety net as long as possible.

Choose advisors carefully.  If you or your family member is considering hiring a new broker, attorney, accountant or other professional, be sure they’re properly registered or licensed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or say no. After all, it’s your money!

Protect your personal financial information.  Never give out your bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, PINs, passwords or other sensitive information unless you made the contact. Even if you did make the contact, it’s okay to ask why the person asking for it needs it. Keep your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information in a safe place and shred old documents that have this information on them. If you’re concerned about remembering these numbers and want to share them with family members in case of an emergency, consider giving access to each of these numbers to different helpers—so no one person has full access.

Closely monitor credit card and bank account activity. We mentioned that read-only access is a good alternative to adding a joint account holder. Make sure that the senior and the helper with read-only access are reviewing account activity often.

Take your time when making major financial decisions. It’s okay to ask a lot of questions and make sure you understand the decision you’re making. If you don’t, talk to your lawyer or trusted financial advisor. If you are being pressured to do something right away, or if someone tells you that you have to do something right now, walk away.

Beware of requests from strangers or solicitors selling goods, services or “need-to-know information.”

• Be suspicious of calls from any company or organization that you don’t have a prior relationship with. If you want to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive, you can sign up for the national Do Not Call Registry (call 1-888-382-1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov).

• Don’t comply with a request from a stranger to deposit a check into your account and wire some or all of it back—if the check you received was counterfeit, you could be held responsible for the losses.

• Be aware of scams involving reverse mortgages, or any other salesman using high-pressure tactics to sell you something.

• One of the ways scammers target seniors is by using information about their families to get money. A caller may contact you and pretend to be a relative in distress, asking you to wire money. Make sure you talk to another close relative of that person, and call the relative in distress with the phone number you have for them. Talk to your banker or a trusted advisor, who may be aware of similar scams in your area.

• If someone tells you that you have to have it or do it, don’t hesitate to take down their information and talk to a trusted helper before you send or buy anything.

The best way to protect yourself or your family members from fraud is by setting up these regular checks ahead of time. Just as a business owner wouldn’t give full access to make changes and decisions to the accountant without some checks and balances, families should have some checks in place to keep decisions transparent. Families who trust and care about each other can set up financial plans that will protect everyone involved from fraud or liability—these tips aren’t just for repeat offenders or seniors who don’t trust their helpers.

Bank of American Fork offers products specifically designed with this issue in mind—seniors who want or need some help, but want to be protected from fraud, and families who want to be helpers, without the liabilities of full control. Visit a branch to set up AccountSmart Tools for Seniors, or to find out more, call 800-815-BANK or visit www.bankaf.com.

Event: Solar power at home and work Nov 01, 2013, 8:00 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

The new Utah gold rush

A perfect storm is brewing for solar energy in Utah. The installed cost of photovoltaic, or PV, solar panels continues to decline, and Rocky Mountain Power projects significant rate increases throughout the coming decade. With tax breaks, government rebates and favorable banking finance programs, solar adoption is rising brightly on the Beehive State’s energy horizon.

Bank of American Fork is a sponsor for a panel discussion on the benefits and implementation process of solar systems for homes, apartments and businesses. The panel will be on Friday, November 8 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Provo Marriott, 101 W 100 N in Provo.

The panelists include Dr. Bernell Stone, Global Energy Management; Scott Cruze, Concept Property Management; Erik Anderson, Rocky Mountain Power; James Johnston, The NRG Bureau; Jeff Barrett, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Energy Division; and Orrin Farnsworth, Utah Solar Energy Association. Panelists will discuss the trends, incentives, costs and favorable payback expectations for commercial and residential solar power retrofit and usage. Unlike typical investment risks, solar energy’s future looks brighter by the day. All attendees will receive the Solar ROI Case Study & White Paper, which is the same data Warren Buffet’s solar team is reviewing.

This event is a must for you if you are a:

• Homebuilder—Green, energy-efficient homes are in demand.

• Financial advisor—Solar tax advantages are at an all-time high.

• Commercial property owner—Get your share of $7.8 million in Utah solar rebates.

• Homeowner—Own your own power plant for $1 a day in less than 10 years.

Register for the event here: http://bit.ly/1aKg4rW.

This event is presented by Progressive Power Solutions and sponsored by Bank of American Fork, Utah Valley Home Builders Association, GOED, Concept Property Management, Utah Solar Energy Association, City of Provo, Utah Technology Magazine, Progressive Power Solutions, Real Goods Solar and Platt Electric.

The truth about prepaid cards Oct 31, 2013, 8:10 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

There’s a lot of hype surrounding prepaid, reloadable cards—with providers promising “no annual, monthly or overdraft fees and no minimum balance.” Users are interested in the idea of feeling like they aren’t tied to a bank.

Bank of American Fork exists to strengthen individuals and communities by providing safe financial services, and our dedication to our customers motivates us to develop products and services that fit your needs. Since there has been this buzz about prepaid, reloadable cards, our product development team decided to consider whether we could and how we should offer this product.

After extensive research, we concluded that this product may not be beneficial, or even desirable, to our customers. We want to tell you more about what we learned.

Research showed that there is little demand among our customers for this type of product, and where there is a demand there is reluctance to pay fees. However, one of the findings about existing prepaid cards is that they still carry fees—most of them more expensive than a checking account. An article in The Banc Investment Daily said the same thing. (Banc Investment Group, LLC. “Banc Investment Daily: No song bird,” PCBB, October 3, 2013).

If consumers want a product that allows them the flexibility of using a card, but hesitate to use a product that has fees, there are likely better options for them out there.

Many community banks still offer free banking services for many products, including free checking accounts that come with a debit card. The standard definition of a “free” checking account is a checking account with no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fee. In fact, Bank of American Fork offers a high-yield checking account with a free debit card, nationwide ATM refunds and more. You can read more details about this account at www.bankaf.com/MyRate. This type of account is low-cost, safe and easy for customers and usually fills the needs of those who are interested in the convenience of a prepaid card.

Besides the fee income a company earns from offering prepaid cards, why else are companies offering them? Is there really a high demand for them? Or have many of the benefits been oversold, creating the demand? Companies may not be offering prepaid cards just because they believe their customers want them, but also to encourage a product that earns them income and costs them less.

While much of the hype says that prepaid cards are a way to get away from banks, the fact is that regardless of where you buy a prepaid card, it’s still a bank product. Most companies are just offering financial services through a partnership with a bank, without a bank charter.

If you’re looking for a card that has low fees and allows you flexibility with loading and reloading, consider a financial institution that has a free checking account. They’re still out there.

Event: Utah economic update Oct 30, 2013, 8:00 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

What are the current housing and employment conditions in Utah? What is the outlook for the Utah economy in 2014?

On November 14, Bank of American Fork and Jim Wood, director of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Utah, will team up to provide an update on Utah’s economy. Wood will provide insight into the current state of the Utah economy with a special focus on the housing market and employment issues. In addition, he will lay out expectations for the coming year to help you make decisions for your business. A light lunch will be provided. RSVP to heidi.carmack@bankaf.com or at 801-642-3139.

Nov 14, 11:30 – 1:00

Bank of American Fork, Riverton Branch

2691 West 12600 South

Riverton, UT 84065

 

James A. Wood, Director, Bureau of Economic and Business Research, University of Utah
James Wood joined the Bureau in 1975.  He graduated from the University of Utah in finance in 1967 and did graduate work in economics at the University of Utah from 1970 to 1974.  From 1975 to 2002 he was a senior research analyst at the Bureau and since 2002 has served as director.  His areas of research specialization are: (1) housing (2) construction (3) real estate and (4) economic development.  He currently serves as a member of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, State of Utah Revenue Assumptions Committee, the Salt Lake Downtown Alliance Development Committee, past president of the Wasatch Front Economic Forum and a member of the board of Salt Lake Neighborhood Housing Services.  He has published more than 100 articles and studies on topics related to the Utah economy.

Bonus history and cookie spotlight: Layton’s one-year anniversary Oct 29, 2013, 8:20 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

We’re celebrating one hundred years of serving Utah communities with free cookie Fridays. Each month one of our 13 branches will be spotlighted—for that month, the spotlighted branch will have free cookies in their lobby. This month we are doubling up with Draper and Layton spotlights! November 19 is our one-year anniversary of the Layton branch. You can read a little bit about the history of Bank of American Fork below, with a history of the spotlighted branch. For a deeper history and to view photos visit here and select “downloads”.

Bank of American Fork was established in 1913 as The People’s State Bank of American Fork. The first two decades after opening brought success for the bank and its reputation for being safe and sound was solidified. Challenges came in 1932, when the People’s State Bank of American Fork closed its doors to prevent a run on deposits. While a third of the nation’s banks did the same and never reopened, the People’s State Bank was open for business nine months later after tremendous sacrifice on the part of its management. The 1940s and ‘50s were better years for banking, and the People’s State Bank of American Fork thrived. In the 1960s the name was shortened to Bank of American Fork and proved itself a technological leader when it made a large investment in upgrading to advanced computerized systems. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Bank of American Fork began to receive national recognition for being safe and strong. It was during this time that the bank began strategic expansion across Utah, finding communities where Bank of American Fork fit and filled needs. Today, we are proud to be a part of 13 communities, and Utah’s community bank leader.

Layton Branch November 19, 2012 Bank of American Fork opened its 13th branch and first in Davis County. The bank was staffed with locals and a Davis County Advisory Board was established to ensure strong ties to Layton and surrounding communities. After a Kaysville-based community bank closed, Bank of American Fork saw a need in Davis County for a community bank. A loan officer began generating loans in the Layton area, and the bank purchased a portion of the previous Barnes Bank’s loans. Bank of American Fork hired seasoned Davis County bankers and established an advisory board made up of prominent members of the commercial market in Davis County to keep tied to the needs of the community in Layton.

Don’t forget to stop by the Layton branch on Fridays in November for cookies!

November branch spotlight and cookies: Draper Oct 28, 2013, 8:40 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

We’re celebrating one hundred years of serving Utah communities with free cookie Fridays. Each month one of our 13 branches will be spotlighted—for that month, the spotlighted branch will have free cookies in their lobby. You can read a little bit about the history of Bank of American Fork below, with a history of the spotlighted branch. For a deeper history and to view photos visit here and select “downloads”.

Bank of American Fork was established in 1913 as The People’s State Bank of American Fork. The first two decades after opening brought success for the bank and its reputation for being safe and sound was solidified. Challenges came in 1932, when the People’s State Bank of American Fork closed its doors to prevent a run on deposits. While a third of the nation’s banks did the same and never reopened, the People’s State Bank was open for business nine months later after tremendous sacrifice on the part of its management. The 1940s and ‘50s were better years for banking, and the People’s State Bank of American Fork thrived. In the 1960s the name was shortened to Bank of American Fork and proved itself a technological leader when it made a large investment in upgrading to advanced computerized systems. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, Bank of American Fork began to receive national recognition for being safe and strong. It was during this time that the bank began strategic expansion across Utah, finding communities where Bank of American Fork fit and filled needs. Today, we are proud to be a part of 13 communities, and Utah’s community bank leader.

Draper Branch July 2, 2001 The eighth branch opened in a strip mall as Bank of American Fork’s first branch in Salt Lake County. Utah was the third fastest-growing state in the nation; between the 2000 and 2010 census, population grew an astounding 23 percent. Utah County was the fastest-growing county in the state and Bank President Dale Gunther began to notice particular population and retail growth in the Draper area, just past the northern border of Utah County. While searching for the right permanent spot, the branch opened in a strip mall. The staff moved into a new branch building in June 2005, after they finally found a better spot, closed the deal on a new spot and designed and built the new building.

Don’t forget to stop by the Draper branch on Fridays this month and grab a cookie!

Bank of American Fork helps keep seniors safe Oct 24, 2013, 8:40 am By Heidi Carmack Pfaffroth

Charter presentation kicks off Senior Crimestoppers at Rocky Mountain Care

Last week Bank of American Fork and Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation teamed up to present the Senior Crimestoppers program at Rocky Mountain Care Center in Murray. Senior Crimestoppers is a coordinated set of components that work together to create a zero-tolerance-to-crime platform in senior housing facilities. Components include personal lockboxes for the residents, cash rewards up to $1,000 paid anonymously for information about wrongdoing of any kind and education and training for staff members and residents. Senior Crimestoppers has reduced all aspects of crime in participating facilities by 92 percent. Bank of American Fork is the first Utah bank to fund this program.

“This marks the formal announcement that Rocky Mountain Care is the newest member of Senior Crimestoppers,” said George Clinard, vice president of Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation. “Our mission is to provide a safe and secure living condition. The reason this program works is because it’s made up of a group of components that all work together.”

“We’re excited to be a part of this. We are committed to communities,” said Rick Anderson, senior vice president, Bank of American Fork. “My father recently lost some money because he thought he was helping someone in need. He’s a former college professor and we wouldn’t have expected this, but crime can happen to anyone. We’re committed to helping protect against this and other types of crimes against seniors.”

After presenting the Senior Crimestoppers charter plaque at Rocky Mountain Care in Murray. Kim Bangerter, administrator, Rocky Mountain Care; Tracey Larson, senior vice president, Bank of American Fork and financial representative, Governor’s Commission on Aging; Jon Allen, chief compliance officer, Bank of American Fork; Rick Anderson, senior vice president, Bank of American Fork; Carol Van Horst, field representative, Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation; George Clinard, vice president, Senior Housing Crime Prevention Foundation; Bill Swadley, vice president and CRA officer, Bank of American Fork; with residents Roberta Read and Robyn Fewkes.

One of the fun parts of the Senior Crimestoppers program is an annual $250 check for the care facility to use as they see a need—some throw a party for residents and other facilities use it to help a specific individual. Rocky Mountain Care had already designated what they would use their first “Wish Comes True” check for.

“We’re using this to purchase an iPad for a resident that can’t speak for himself,” said Kim Bangerter, administrator for Rocky Mountain Care. “This will allow him to communicate with staff and other residents.”

Some residents in the sponsored facilities have already received their personal lockboxes, and one resident told the group that she loves her lockbox. She said that knowing that only she knows where her key is allows her to feel secure that her important items—like Christmas gift money, her will and photos of her family—are safe.

Also in attendance was Tracey Larson, vice president and special projects manager at Bank of American Fork, who was recently appointed as the financial representative for the Governor’s Commission on Aging. Larson and Jilenne Gunther, from the Utah Department of Aging and Adult Services, will continue the conversation about how to protect seniors from financial abuse on a live internet radio show on November 20 at 6:00 Mountain Time, at www.latalkradio.com.

100 Year On Blog
This blog includes articles, information, tips and advice on all things money by the financial experts at Bank of American Fork. But this blog is not one-sided; we want to hear what you think. Share your ideas, experiences and comments to get the dialogue going.

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