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USELFUL LINKS:
State Department Travel Information
FlightAware Flight Tracking
Hotels.com
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Important news before you travel:

If you are in the United States you should be aware of certain Travel Advisories which are given to citizens who choose to travel abroad. These advisories can affect you and may even change your travel plans. So before you go to the airport you should always check to see if your destination country is on the List of the United States Government Travel Advisories.

For more information: Check out the link below which will send you to the US Governments official website.


https://travel.state.gov
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.
WHY A TIMESHARE PROPERTY MAY BE YOUR PERFECT VACATION ANSWER:

You may not know it but many people throughout the world have Timeshare properties which they use for vacations.

A timeshare is a property with a particular form of ownership or use rights. These properties are typically resort condominium units, in which multiple parties hold rights to use the property, and each sharer is allotted a period of time (typically one week, and almost always the same time every year) in which they may use the property.

Units may be on a partial ownership, lease, or "right to use" basis, in which the sharer holds no claim to ownership of the property.

Two basic vacation ownership options are available: timeshares and vacation interval plans. The value of these options is in their use as vacation destinations, not as investments. Because so many timeshares and vacation interval plans are available, the resale value of yours is likely to be a good deal lower than what you paid.

Both a timeshare and a vacation interval plan require you to pay an initial purchase price and periodic maintenance fees. The initial purchase price may be paid all at once or over time; periodic maintenance fees are likely to increase every year.

Deeded Timeshare Ownership. In a timeshare, you either own your vacation unit for the rest of your life, for the number of years spelled out in your purchase contract, or until you sell it. Your interest is legally considered real property.

You buy the right to use a specific unit at a specific time every year, and you may rent, sell, exchange, or bequeath your specific timeshare unit. You and the other timeshare owners collectively own the resort property.

Unlike a vacation home which may be vacant part of the year, you only pay for what you use. Thus, the use of a very expensive property could be more affordable; for one thing you don’t need to worry about year-round maintenance.

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HOW MORTGAGE RATES ARE DECIDED

In deciding mortgage rates mortgage lenders don't have prospective homebuyers' best interests at heart. Loans, after all, are products and mortgage lenders are salespeople pushing those products, whether they're right for a specific homebuyer or not. Lenders typically earn a one percent commission on each mortgage or mortgage refinancing they successfully process as well as additional points, called overages, if they can convince homebuyers to go with a loan higher than average current mortgage rates.

It's not unheard of for unscrupulous lenders to delay processing a loan if current mortgage rates are rising and the end of a 60-day interest lock-in rate is fast approaching. While mortgage brokers themselves aren't directly regulated by a federal agency, the Federal Trade Commission has taken action in the past against companies routinely engaging in this questionable practice.

Lenders use APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) when they promote mortgages or mortgage refinancing in order to give prospective homeowners an accurate estimation of the loan's annual cost to them.

However, every lender calculates the APR in a slightly different way. One lender may include application fees in the APR calculations, while another lender may not. Additionally, APRs differ according to the size of the loan, whether interest will be assessed at a fixed or variable rate, and insurance required. Homeowners may end up paying different amounts on two loans both advertised at an APR of 3.5 percent.

Mortgage rates have a tendency to get lifted on Friday regardless of whether the market calls for it or not. Avoid locking your rates on any Friday. Mortgage rates are loosely tied to other fixed rate investments like Treasury bonds. US Treasury bonds are believed by the markets to be “as good as gold” or risk free to say it another way. So when investor fear putting their money anywhere else (ie. stocks, commodities, etc.) yet still want to earn a return however meager, they buy Treasury bonds.

If the demand for bonds is high, the rate the bond pays drops. If the rate bonds pay drops, so does the rate mortgage backed securities pay…and even thought it’s not quite that simple, mortgage rates come down.

The reason Friday seems to be a day the bankers “forget” the market is because they don’t know what the weekend will bring. If there is “good” economic news made over the weekend like a good jobs report or exports are up, investor will want to dump the bonds and move to stocks or commodities. This will mean rates will have to be raised and it’s seems they all think that it is better protection if they do that on the previous Friday.

Say we turn on the news to find out that there is an oil spill, tsunami, or earthquake that just occurred. This will impact mortgage rates almost immediately.

What will happen as you’ve probably already guessed is rates will improve. When investor move their money out of risky investments and into US Treasury bonds this is call a “flight to quality” or a “flight to safety”. Look for any big negative news story to trigger a flight to quality and take advantage if you can. Many investor like to wait out the negative events by sitting on the sidelines…and moving their funds from stocks to bonds is how they do that.

Locking before versus after a “flight to quality” could be costly. I’ve seen a half a percent in the rate difference in the past. Nobody likes disasters but you will have this mortgage for many years and a .5% rate drop could save you $10,000′s in needless interest if you simply stay abreast of current events and know the trends.

So if you get an urgent phone call from your loan officer begging you to lock in a rate right now, click over to Bloomberg or CNBC and find out what the stock market is doing. You may find more often then not, stocks are on the upswing. He maybe trying to get you to lock the worst possible time.

On the flip side, if you tune into the stock market (which you should be doing daily if you have an unlocked loan in process) keep your eye out for the opposite occurring. Say the DOW is falling like a rock your loan officer will not call you! You will have to call him.
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