Student Debt & Home Buying Power

Boo – no shocker here, student debt causes many future homeowners to take a moment’s pause. When they think about the thousands of dollars in student debt they have, is homeownership the first goal on their minds?

According to a new study by, total student debt in the U.S. has reached $1.5 trillion, a new all-time high. When broken down, the average student loan borrower owes about $34,500.

That’s $8,500 more than the typical down payment of $26,000.

To put it not so lightly – $1.5 trillion is enough to buy every single home on the market in the U.S. – twice.’s Senior Economist, George Ratiu, explains, “The important implication of rising debt is that young generations are delaying major life decisions. Student debt is already impacting borrowers’ ability to buy a home and education debt is expected to hamper consumers’ financial decisions for many years down the road.”

The Federal Reserve believes that the increased student loan debts since 2005 have created a 20% decline in homeownership amount young adults.

For more real estate news, check out the rest of Alliance Title’s Blog here.

Meet our Nampa, ID Branch

Which city has an authentic small-town feel, but big city fun?

Nampa, Idaho!

Nampa is the largest city in Canyon County and is a short 25-minute drive from downtown Boise. The city came to life in the early 1880s, when the Oregon Short Line Railroad passed through from Granger, Wyoming, to Huntington, Oregon. Now, Nampa has an estimated population of 102,030!

With a cute farmer’s market, a downtown main street community, a national wildlife refuge, and a local brewery and winery scene, Nampa has something to offer just about everyone.

Only a six-minute drive from Lions Park, you’ll find our Alliance Title Nampa office. With 75+ combined total years of experience in the title and escrow industry, our knowledgeable team is ready to meet your real estate needs!

Our Nampa team strives to provide the best customer service for their clients – their consistency, accuracy, and customer care truly sets them apart from the competition.

Our amazing Nampa team!

Being involved in the community and volunteering where they can, the Nampa branch strongly believes in lending a helping hand. The team participates in Stampede for the Cure, Festival of Trees, Meals on Wheels, and donates to the Nampa Family Justice Center.

In the last three years, the Nampa branch has raised over $7,900 for local charities through their annual Sporting Clay Shoot!

When our Nampa team isn’t hard at work in the office or volunteering for the community, they like to unwind and relax by either baking, hunting, or designing furniture.

Vice President and General Manager, Star Nieves, speaks on behalf of the Nampa office when she says, “Our customers are great! They are always ready to support us.”

Whether you’re buying or selling commercial or residential property in Canyon County, the professionals at Alliance Title’s Nampa location are delighted to help make your next transaction a success!

Alliance Title Nampa Branch
1005 W Sanetta St., 83651

Home Buyer Checklist

Daydreaming about buying a home is one thing – preparing to purchase, however, is another.

Before you jump the gun and reach out to an agent, it’s important to know where you stand in terms of finances and what features of a house matter more to you than others.

Know Your Credit Score

It might be good to consider knowing your credit score before you start your home and loan search. You can request a free copy of your credit score from Annual Credit Score or Credit Karma.

But remember, keep inquires to a minimum, or talk to your lender beforehand.

Know Your Numbers

How much home can you afford? Before you make an offer, consider the cost of your mortgage payment as well as homeowners’ association dues, taxes, and insurance.

These user friendly calculators from Bankrate and Alliance Title will help you run the numbers and stay informed while you make important decisions about your home purchase.

You’ll want to be preapproved by a lender first, before you talk to an agent. This will help you and your agent know where you stand in terms of finances. Check out our mortgage shopping how-to article here.

If you want more real estate news, be sure to check out Alliance Title’s Blog!

Employee Spotlight – Michael Benke

We’ve got a new employee spotlight! Let’s all applaud Michael Benke!

Michael is a Business Development Representative for our Lewiston and Clarkston branches. He is responsible for customer service, public relations, marketing, and building strong relationships with our clients and customers. Having been with us for three years, Michael has been a wonderful addition to the team!

As a Business Development Rep, Michael enjoys being able to interact and get to know a wide variety of clients in the industry and the communities. Michael explains, “Everyone has their own story and reasons for how they operate; it’s interesting to learn what drives people, what makes them happy, and how they measure success.”

Of the Alliance Core Values, “Teamwork” is Michael’s go-to. He illustrates, “There are so many moving parts and so many people working hard to bring a great experience to our customers, that it takes a strong and unified team to be able to provide service at a high level.”

When he’s not working hard in the office, Michael makes sure to spend quality time with his family and friends. He likes to unwind by playing golf, watching sports, and traveling to different destinations.

Michael’s favorite quote, “No sense in crying over spilled milk,” is something he tries to remember during the stressful times. He believes, “how we react and handle adversity and not worrying about things that aren’t in our control are important in our day-to-day activities!”

Now that you’ve gotten to know Michael a little more, stop by Alliance Title’s Lewiston or Clarkston office and write them in on your next transaction! Michael looks forward to helping make your home closing a simple and smooth experience.

Michael Benke – Business Development Representative at Alliance’s Lewiston and Clarkston Branches
1455 G st., Ste. 102, ID, 83501
735 5th St., WA, 99403

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Safety for Agents

As a real estate agent, you need to be diligent and attentive when it comes to safety in your line of work.

So, what are some safety tips you can apply to your daily routine? Check out our tips below.

Open Schedule

We don’t necessarily mean being available at all times of the day – rather, we suggest letting your coworkers and teammates know where you will be and who you will be with during the day. Let someone in your office know if you’re meeting a client at a coffee shop, or if you’re preparing for a showing. Think about sharing your calendar with your colleagues.

Set Boundaries

Make sure that when you set times for clients, you are taking into account of when you want to meet. If you feel uneasy meeting out after dark, be upfront and list your hours clearly in any marketing materials you have.

Meet in the Office First

If it’s possible, meet your clients in your office first. This way, you can make a copy of your client’s driver’s license and have them fill out a Prospect Identification Form. This little extra step of filing a name into the system might stop a potential criminal from committing to a form of action.

When they do meet you in the office, make sure you introduce them to someone. The more eyes on them, the less likely they are to make an attack.

Let Clients Lead

This works for a showing – let the clients direct themselves through a home. You can say things like, “the bonus room is to your right.” This allows you to keep an eye on them.

Be Prepared

Take your phone with you to all meetings and make sure it is fully charged. Think about installing a security app that allows you to easily call for help in a secretive manner.

These are just a few of the many safety tips available for real estate agents. The National Association of Realtors has an entire page dedicated to protecting agent’s safety.

Looking for more real estate tips and news? Check out the rest of Alliance Title’s Blog for more!

Psst…Homeowners and HOA Fines

Homeowners and HOA associations have quite the love-hate relationship.

HOAs are incredibly prominent – if you don’t live an apartment complex or neighborhood with an HOA, chances are you know someone who does. Those living with the association have grown over the last 50 years from 10,000 communities in the 70s, to more than 300,000 as of 2016.

And while HOAs can be beneficial, there are some rules and regulations homeowners would rather do without.

The biggest fines HOAs seem to hand out to homeowners usually fall within improper landscaping and trash being taken out too late or too early.

52% of homeowners say that have not paid an HOA fine and 29% say they have knowingly broken an HOA rule.

Even though a majority of homeowners don’t agree with many of the association’s rules, 57% of HOA residents said they would want their next home to still be in an HOA community. Reasons like increased safety, preserving their home’s property value, and recreational amenities might be what keeps homeowners coming back.

Check out The Porch’s Infographic concerning HOA’s here:

Where Are Home Mortgage Rates Headed?

Oh where oh where could mortgage rates go?

Potential homeowners hold their breath each time a new mortgage rate report has been released – what about this one?

Next year, according to Fannie Mae, rates could drop as low as 3.4%!

Forecasters also foresee home price growth to moderate. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the MBA are all predicting the same – that home price growth will slow to 2.2% appreciation by 2021.

A spokesperson from Fannie Mae explains, “Rates fell for most of this year, and lower rates have translated into a stronger housing market. Both home sales and housing construction are firming. We expect a significant increase in mortgage refinance originations in the coming quarters.”

Last week, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.56%, down 1.06 percentage points from a year ago.

How Much Equity have Homeowners Seen?

Homeowners, rejoice!

Those who have purchased homes in 2012 (the year prices reached their lowest point following the Great Recession) have earned a total of $203 billion in home equity!

That’s a big chunk of change.

On average, the typical homeowner earned $141,000 in home equity individually.

This Redfin analysis shows that an average home that sold in 2012 has increased $110,000 in value – with Tacoma, Washington and Virginia Beach, Virginia having the biggest percent increases in home equity.

Looks like homebuyers are able to eat their cake and have it too! Experts will be studying the housing market closely as we enter into the winter season.

If you’re wanting more real estate updates, check out Alliance Title’s Blog to stay in the loop!

What Exactly is Escrow?

Are you new to the real estate market? A few terms may be unfamiliar to you – and it’s true; why would you ever use “underwriter” and “liens” in your day-to-day conversations?

But that’s why Alliance Title is here to help break down the steps to owning your first home.

So, you’ve found the home, agreed on the price, and are now seeing all the “scary” documents come your way. You’ll be hearing “escrow” quite a lot – so, what is it?

In the real estate world, escrow refers to funds and documents that are held by an impartial third party (like AmeriTitle) on behalf of the buyer and seller and / or lender during the completion of the transaction.

Written instructions will be created and given to all parties involved, and it is only then that funds will be distributed and documents recorded in accordance to what the written instructions stated.

But why have an escrow, you might ask?

Not only is having an escrow convenient, but it act as protection for the buyers and sellers. All parties rely on the escrow holder to faithfully carry out their mutually agreed upon instructions – or, advise the parties if any of the instructions are contradictory or cannot be completed.

Once everything has been fulfilled within the terms and conditions of the written instructions, and all closing conditions are competed, the escrow is closed and the transfer of property and money is completed.

Escrow for the Seller

The seller is assured and feels confident that the transaction will properly close, and that the title will not pass to the buyer until the purchase price is fully paid.

Escrow for the Buyer

The buyer is able to review the condition of the title to property by receiving a copy of the Preliminary Title Report prior to closing, and of course, that the transaction will be properly completed and the title cleared.

So, there you have it! Escrows help protect both buyer and seller – so don’t eschew from them!

Check out Alliance Title’s Blog for more on all things real estate.

Closing the Hunger Gap 2019

Let the donations begin! Alliance Title’s 25 locations in Idaho, Montana, and Washington strive to make your closing process smooth and easy. Each branch is staffed with friendly and experienced professionals who pride themselves on providing you with a personalized transaction and doing their part to support the local community.

This October, Alliance Title is hosting the 8th annual ‘Closing the Hunger Gap’ food drive campaign and partnering with local food banks to collect nonperishable food and monetary donations to help end hunger in the communities we serve.

With our convenient locations, you’re never too far from exceptional service or a donation site!

Vote for your favorite canstructures here! Vote once a day throughout the month of October!

Check out the impact we’ve made through our Closing the Hunger Gap history page.

Contact us for your next transaction and stop by any Alliance Title location to donate food items or make a monetary donation to help us end hunger!

2018 Closing the Hunger Gap Treasure Valley Check Presentation to the Idaho Foodbank