TIPS ON MAKING HOTEL RESERVATIONS:
When traveling for business or fun, there’s nothing worse than thinking you have a reservation and learning your hotel reservations been lost, your room has one bed and not two bedrooms, or you thought your check-in time was noon, only to find out it is really 3:00pm. To help avoid these things from happening, there are a few helpful hotel reservation tips seasoned travelers recommend:
Always use a credit card when making a hotel reservation. A credit cards offers the guest some level of protection should the hotel stay go awry. Any disputes a guest may have with the hotel, or with the billing can more easily be rectified through the credit card company. The card company will act as a mediator once their client can show effort to resolve the dispute. Additionally, if a dispute cannot be resolved, the credit card company has the authority to remove the charge from a client’s bill. If cash were paid, a hotel guest would have no recourse. Note: If you don’t use your own credit card to secure a reservation, be aware that the person whose name is on the card will be responsible for showing the card and signing at check in. If the card does not belong to the person staying at the hotel, notify the desk before leaving home (prior to arrival) and ask what their identification procedure is. They may accept a letter from the credit card holder authorizing use, and a copy of both the front and back of the card.
Ask for deals/discounts at each hotel. Many hotels offer corporate, AAA, senior, or even mid-week/off-season discounts. If one is not offered - ask about them. Many hotels now offer ‘rewards’ programs and some hotels reduce rates by $50 or more, for simply signing up for their program. If making reservations online, look for internet-only rates and shop various websites to find the best deals. Travel agents can often secure unadvertised specials or late check-in opportunities which can translate into huge savings.
When making reservations speak clearly and repeat spelling of all names. There have been many reservations lost because of inaccurate spelling and guests have been told they did not have rooms when a hotel or an entire city was booked to capacity. If any special requests are made, verify them and if possible get them in writing. Also make sure to get the name of the employee. Verify everything spell names and verify information/requests etc. Double check reservations prior to leaving for hotel and make sure names of all hotel employees you’ve spoken to are taken.
When reservations are made, changed and cancelled-confirmation numbers are given. Make sure all numbers are kept in a safe place until credit cards are billed and all charges are verified. Cancellation and confirmation numbers are often the difference between being charged for a hotel reservation that was cancelled, the possibility of a free upgrade when the hotel overbooks and you can prove when your reservation was made, and being stranded away from home without a room for the night.
Discuss hotel policies prior to making reservations, and verify them at check-in. Some hotels require credit cards at check in for any hotel charges, such as telephone usage, room service, meals in the hotel, or even take -out arranged through the hotel with area restaurants, etc. If a credit card is not available, a cash/check deposit maybe required for any services/fees that may accrue during the hotel stay. Determine when check-in/check-out times are, when cancellation policies go into affect and verify occupancy limits if staying in a room with multiple occupants.
Remember these hotel reservation tips when scheduling your travel plans. Whether by internet, through a travel agent, or by telephone, it pays to research the hotel and be meticulous when making arrangements. A little pre-planning when making reservations can save major headaches when traveling away from home.
DID YOU KNOW:
FINDING THE BEST HOTEL RATES:
Due to the internet, the manners in which hotel rooms are procured have drastically changed over the last couple of decades. Prior to internet access, guests called hotels directly to book rooms. While some guests continue to book rooms this way, many have learned that calling a hotel directly may not be the most economical choice. However, it is also been found that hotel rates also vary a great deal from website to website, especially discount travel sites.
Hotels are in constant competition with each other for your business. The goal of every hotel is to achieve 100% occupancy. Not only are they competing with each other, they are often competing with themselves. Look at how many hotels have various hotel chain subsidiaries beneath them. They must stay competitive, but still continue to make a profit while keeping their rooms occupied. This said, many hotels offer blocks of rooms to a variety of other entities to sell. Travel agents and online brokers typically compete to sell rooms for hotels, and they receive a percentage of the purchase price. The rate disparity comes into play two ways. First, the hotel is offering rooms at their standard rates or discount club rates. Second, because hotels offer these agents and booking websites various rates, someone who is getting a larger percentage of the sale price, can afford to offer the room at a lower rate than someone who is getting a small percentage from the sale.
Finding the best room rate:
If contacting the hotel directly, ask if they have any current specials. If your travel plans are flexible, inquire about any future specials, and the specific parameters of those specials.
If you’re a ‘select’, ‘rewards’ or hotel ‘member’, mention this, and ask if they have any special discounts available for members of their programs. Additionally, if you are affiliated with a corporate account, or a roadside assistance plan which offers travel benefits, mention that too. Sometimes guests are eligible for more than one discount and can pick and choose the one that provides the greatest savings.
When placing reservations online through a hotel booking service, first find the service that offers the best deal. The best deal may not be the one which provides the lowest price, but the service with the best room guarantee, who is willing to price match. If you’ve found the room for a lower rate elsewhere, tell your preferred vendor and ask them to match the price. Several websites will even provide a 30-day guarantee against lower prices - so even after booking your reservation, stay vigilant.
Hotel rates vary so much because there are numerous entities vying to secure your business by competing with each other. With a little investigative prowess, you can secure the best rates possible for your hotel stay, despite the varying rates.
DID YOU KNOW ARIZONA IS A VERY POPULAR TOURIST DESTINATION?
Arizona-the Grand Canyon State-is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Beyond the iconic Grand Canyon, experiences await you in every direction and in every corner of the state. Arizona is home to 47 national parks, monuments and refuges as well as 29 state parks that showcase mountains, buttes, deserts and hidden lakes. Visitors often start exploring Arizona from Phoenix, the state capital and the fifth largest city in the United States.
Phoenix and Outskirts
Today, Phoenix is a destination as well as a gateway to further adventure in the rugged deserts, lakes and canyons around its edges. Here are some sites to visit around the city:
Phoenix was not the first town to arise along the banks of the Salt River. Explore Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park to see where the ancient Sonoran Desert people once lived and farmed.
The145-acre Desert Botanical Garden strives to be the premier center in the world for the display, study and understanding of desert plants and their environments. Visitors from around the world come here to appreciate the beauty of the garden and to enjoy its outdoor trails, special events and education programs.
The Heard Museum is one of the world’s finest destinations for learning about American Indian arts and cultures with its 11 exhibition galleries, free guided tours, outdoor sculpture gardens, renowned café, art gallery, trading-post style shopping and more. Be sure and watch the Heard’s Native People of the Southwest video series.
There is a reason National Geographic named Phoenix one of "America’s Best Hiking Cities." Phoenix’s South Mountain Park is the largest municipal park in the United States with 16,000 acres and 51 miles of trails for hiking, wildlife viewing or horseback riding. Other Phoenix area trails and desert preserves include Camelback Mountain, Shaw Butte and Piestewa Peak. The Tonto National Forest is another “backyard” desert playground for urban dwellers-tubing on the Salt River is an Arizona summer tradition!
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
A JUMBO MORTGAGE
A residential mortgage that is larger than $650,000 is referred to as a super jumbo mortgage. It is greater than a jumbo mortgage, the term used to define loans above $417,000. These financial numbers are established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest secondary market lenders, and are based on the national averages for loan amounts, and these bottom line numbers change regularly. When it is necessary to acquire a loan at or above the jumbo and super jumbo levels, other agencies become involved to cover the full amount. This is necessary to cover residential loans that are in excess of one or two million.
Because risk to the lender increases as the mortgage amount increases, the interest rates for these mortgages is higher than with conventional loans. The rates are also affected by the property type and the mortgage amount.
Since the amount of a super jumbo loan is so great, the number of insurers and investors diminishes. This shrinking of available investors has led to increasing use of specialized lenders who concentrate in this field of investment with greater compensation demands beyond the capabilities of conventional lenders.
Insurers for jumbo and super jumbo mortgages are also fewer. As such, the rates tend to be higher. All of these increases are passed along to the borrower.
Finally, rates are higher because the pool of buyers for residential properties in this range is also smaller. More time and effort is necessary to sell and re-sell the property.
Super jumbo mortgages are usually short-term adjustable rate mortgages. Option ARM’s are also available as well as thirty-year fixed rate mortgages, though they are not as common. Hybrid variable rate mortgages can also be acquired with fixed rate payment intervals three to ten years.
Since traditional banks are not equipped for handling this kind of loan, mortgage lending companies handle the arranging of financing using a combination of investment banks and capital from private mortgage sources.
Jumbo and super jumbo interest rates can be as much as half a percentage point higher than a conventional loan. To avoid this penalty, many borrowers will work with lenders and take out two mortgages at the same, with each one covering part of the total loan amount. One will be designed to cover the larger part of the borrowed amount and is considered a first mortgage. The other is considered a second mortgage, and will cover the remainder of the amount.
A 30 year jumbo mortgage is exactly what its name implies, which is a very large amount of money borrowed for the term of 30 years. When you are taking out a jumbo mortgage you are borrowing more than the amount normally allowed by the GSE. The GSE, or Government Sponsored Enterprises, is responsible for maintaining housing loan availability for consumers. The GSE sets a cap on the amount for mortgages and anything over that is considered to be a jumbo mortgage.
Not all lenders offer jumbo mortgages but there are many out there that will. The process of getting a 30 year jumbo mortgage is essentially the same as it would be for a conventional mortgage. The lender is going to be checking your credit history and score as well as your employment history and current debt load. You will need a sizable down payment, as getting a jumbo mortgage without one is unheard of. There will also be fees associated with the 30 year jumbo mortgage that you must be prepared to pay up front at closing.
Because the cost of the home you are purchasing is so high, should you decide to sell you will find it’s not going to happen as quickly as a more modestly priced one might. For this reason you need to be very sure of your ability to pay this 30 year jumbo mortgage’s monthly payments so that you don’t default on your loan. Your lender of course will see at the start if you are able, but we can’t always control the unforeseen in the future. Though your income and ability to pay are fine now, you must consider that this is, after all over the term of 30 years.
If the home you want to buy is indeed over the cap of the GSE then you are looking at a 30 year jumbo mortgage. Time to look ahead at whether this is the direction in which you want to go and feel you are able to do so. If so, you need to do some preliminary planning. Speak with your loan officer about how much of a down payment will be required and what your closing costs will be. Remember, as you are planning ahead for a 30 year jumbo mortgage to also consider the costs of homeowner’s insurance and property taxes.
The 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage is an attractive loan option to some, but utterly unaffordable to others. The term “jumbo mortgage” has a meaning specific to an upper-limit that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest market lenders in the United States, are willing to purchase from the original lender on the secondary market.
The industry standards for conforming loans (those that adhere to the parameters as outlined by government-sponsored enterprises in the United States) are overshot in the case of a 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage, meaning that the maximum these secondary lenders will purchase has been exceeded.
To break down the definition of a 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage, you must understand two different concepts. The first is the concept of a 30 year fixed rate; the second, the idea of a jumbo mortgage.
For starters, the interest rate in a 30 year fixed plan is always the same, from the first to the last year of mortgage repayment. Unlike floating or variable mortgages, the amount of interest an individual or family is responsible for never changes.
A jumbo mortgage (or jumbo loan) is a mortgage that exceeds the $417,000 limit in most portions of the United States, although some high-cost areas in the continental states have a limit of $729,750.
When it is determined that an individual or family can afford the cost and interest payments of a larger mortgage, investment firms and banks will often allow them a jumbo mortgage. These mortgages generally have interest rates around 6.5%, although rates near 8% have not been uncommon and as of 2009, such rates have sunk well below the 5% mark.
When interest rates drop, insurance companies and banks are often more willing to lend the money toward such an investment. A 30 year fixed rate, as mentioned above, simply means that the interest rate paid during the term of the loan will not change. 30 year fixed rates protect buyers from rate fluctuations, and simplify the payment process.
Many people can benefit from a 30 year fixed rate mortgage, and jumbo mortgages are often more than affordable for families who know they will have the finances to purchase a home in the higher price range. A 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage is best suited to those who can afford the higher interest rate, and for those who plan on owning the home for an extended period of time.
When all is said and done, pursuing a jumbo mortgage is not a risk for many people, and indeed can result in a great purchase at an attractive price. The 30 year fixed jumbo mortgage is suited to the long term tastes of many looking to buy while rates are still low.