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Important news before you travel:

If you live 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


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          AIRPORT TIPS


To make your way to a flight on time and to get throught security as quickly as possible you can try the following tips:

1) Sign up. The TSA's PreCheck, a trusted traveler program, has spread to more cities across the U.S. and is now available at some 40 airports. Members of the program are pre-screened and can then whiz through security, sometimes without having to take off their shoes or remove laptops from cases. The U.S. Customs Department's Global Entry program is another shortcut for frequent international travelers, especially as the federal government contracts and customs lines potentially get longer.

Critical Security Checkpoints:
To make clearing security as easy as possible...
-Review the guidelines for liquids and gels on your Flight carriers Carry-On Baggage page before your flight.
-Have your government-issued photo identification and boarding pass ready for inspection.
-Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off, since all footwear must be x-rayed.
-Remember to place all coats and jackets in a bin for x-ray screening.
-Make your laptop easily accessible for inspection.
-Avoid wearing anything metal or place these items in your carry-on baggage for screening

2) Check flight status. Although this is obvious, many people often fail to do this one simple but critical thing.

I recommend doing the same before abandoning your ride or your car just before you head to the terminal; flight status updates change by the minute, so a last-second check is always a good idea.

Most airlines will text you flight status updates if you sign up on their Web sites, and sites like Flightaware.com do the same by text, on the Web and through smartphone apps.

4) Check in online. Especially if you are not checking bags, this can save you a heap of time. I have found that when checking bags, having the pre-printed boarding pass in your hand doesn't help all that much, and check-in agents often reissue another boarding pass when you check in your bags -- but it sure doesn't hurt.

5) Before you leave for the airport, put your ID, credit card and boarding pass (if applicable) in an easily accessible part of your wallet or bag. There are two reasons for this: one, by going through this exercise, you make sure that you don't leave home without these crucial items. Two, you don't waste your (and other people's) time fumbling around for them at the moment you need them.

Check the airport parking situation online. Knowing ahead of time where to park, which lots are open and how far they are from the terminal can save you a lot of anxiety on your drive in, as well as keep you safer as you navigate tortuous and almost always poorly marked airport ring roads. Additionally, during peak travel periods, lots fill up quickly, so you will want an alternate parking plan.

When you are ready to board always take inventory of what you will need to do when you get to the front of the security line. Do a quick mental review of everything you are wearing that you will need to remove (such as shoes, jewelry, watch, jacket), and what you have inside your carry-on bag that might need to be taken out (liquids, electronics). When you get to the front of the line, blast through your mental inventory and make it happen. Done well, you can go from fully clad for winter weather, with laptops and iPads in your bag, to a T-shirt, pants and socks, and all your sensitive electronics in their own bins, in seconds.

Using these tips will get you through the airport, on your flight and towards your destination as quickly as possible.

more traveler informaiton tips available at the TSA website:  https://www.tsa.gov/precheck/faq
         NEW YORK'S JFK AIRPORT

JFK international airport is located 15 miles by highway from midtown Manhattan. JFK’s terminals, parking lots and hotels operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and cover more than 880 acres.

If you choose to enter the terminal with the passenger, please be aware that only ticketed passengers will be allowed past the security checkpoint. However, you may enjoy any of the areas before security. As an alternative, you may drop off your passengers at the Kiss and Fly located at the Lefferts Boulevard AirTrain Station where they can ride AirTrain free of charge to their terminal in just 10 minutes.

Electric Vehicle Charging
Air travelers who own electric vehicles can charge them at Kennedy International.
...read more



  BOOKING THE RIGHT  HOTEL


Hotels are more than just a place to sleep. The best hotels offer information and services that help familiarize you with your location, address the special needs of families and business travelers and, they hope, give you something to write home about.

When it comes to choosing a hotel, it’s better not to rely on star ratings.  Because the criteria for these star ratings are sometimes based on insignificant details, they don’t always accurately represent the quality of a hotel, with some 4 star hotels being of much higher quality than some 5 star hotels, but losing a star because they don’t include a mini-fridge in every room. 

You can receive “five-star service” in a one-star hotel. That small hotel/B&B will many times be family-owned and run, not always have a fancy reception desk (reception may be a small table or desk where a computer, phone and registration book is kept), but they will be willing to sit down with you and give you information such as the best restaurants in the neighbourhood.

The best way to get the most out of your time in the city, help you plan your days, suggest things to do, issue attraction tickets, book a taxi (many smaller hotels/B&Bs have certain companies they work with and trust), and many other things.  The five-star hotel may not have time to spend with you like that.

Star ratings will generally not be an indication of cleanliness and comfort. A one-star hotel/B&B can offer you the same shiny bathroom tiles, clean carpeting and spotless sheets and towels that a two, three or more star hotel can.

there are many websites online with information on hotels and ratings by reviewer's which can offer valuable information in determing which hotel you book on your next trip.

Sometimes making a decision on where to stay can be easy, especially when your finances allow you to book hotels at any price. For those of us who may be on a budget, doing a little search online can often end up saving us hundreds of dollars on our lodging.

No matter where you are or where you are going, booking a hotel is something you want to make sure you do right the first time. Besides, one man's 3 star hotel can be another man's 5 star hotel.

Choosing a hotel with a good location is critical to making your trip a great one. But what does a good location really mean? That depends on what you'll be doing while you're staying at the hotel. You don't need to plan your entire itinerary in order to choose a hotel, but you should have a general idea of what you need or want to do once you arrive at your destination....
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             HISTORIC BERLIN GERMANY

Founded in the 13th century, Berlin has had an eventful history. Excavations from 2008 suggest that the city may be even older than was previously assumed: state archaeologists have discovered an oak beam that probably dates back to 1183.

Almost no other metropolis has experienced such frequent, radical change transforming ...
read more

        YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Yosemite National Park is located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more. More than 5 million people visit Yosemite each year....read more

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FHA REVERSE MORTGAGE
QUESTIONS ANSWERED


The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) is FHA's reverse mortgage program, which enables you to withdraw some of the equity in your home.  The HECM is a safe plan that can give older Americans greater financial security. Many seniors use it to supplement Social Security, meet unexpected medical expenses, make home improvements and more.  You can receive additional free information about reverse mortgages in general by contacting the National Council on Aging at (800) 510-0301 or downloading their free booklet, "Use Your Home to Stay at Home," a guide for older homeowners who need help now. It is smart to know more about reverse mortgages, and decide if one is right for you!

1. What is a reverse mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a special type of home loan that lets you convert a portion of the equity in your home into cash. The equity that you built up over years of making mortgage payments can be paid to you.  However, unlike a traditional home equity loan or second mortgage, HECM borrowers do not have to repay the HECM loan until the borrowers no longer use the home as their principal residence or fail to meet the obligations of the mortgage.  You can also use a HECM to purchase a primary residence if you are able to use cash on hand to pay the difference between the HECM proceeds and the sales price plus closing costs for the property you are purchasing.

2. Can I qualify for FHA's HECM reverse mortgage?

To be eligible for a FHA HECM, the FHA requires that you be a homeowner 62 years of age or older, own your home outright, or have a low mortgage balance that can be paid off at closing with proceeds from the reverse loan, and you must live in the home. You are also required to receive consumer information free or at very low cost from a HECM counselor prior to obtaining the loan. You can find a HECM counselor online or by phoning (800) 569-4287.

3. Can I apply for a HECM even if I did not buy my present house with FHA mortgage insurance?

Yes.  You may apply for a HECM regardless of whether or not you purchased your home with an FHA-insured mortgage.

4. What types of homes are eligible?

To be eligible for the FHA HECM, your home must be a single family home or a 2-4 unit home with one unit occupied by the borrower. HUD-approved condominiums and manufactured homes that meet FHA requirements are also eligible.

5. What are the differences between a reverse mortgage and a home equity loan?

With a second mortgage, or a home equity line of credit, borrowers must have adequate   income to qualify for the loan, and they make monthly payments on the principal and interest.  A reverse mortgage is different, because it pays you - there are no monthly principal and interest payments.  With a reverse mortgage, you are required to pay real estate taxes, utilities, and hazard and flood insurance premiums.

6. Will we have an estate that we can leave to heirs?

When the home is sold or no longer used as a primary residence, the cash, interest, and other HECM finance charges must be repaid.  All proceeds beyond the amount owed belong to your spouse or estate.  This means any remaining equity can be transferred to heirs.  No debt is passed along to the estate or heirs.

7. How much money can I get from my home?

The amount you may borrower will depend on:

Age of the youngest borrower
Current interest rate
Lesser of appraised value or the HECM FHA mortgage limit of $625,500 or the sales price; and
Initial Mortgage Insurance Premium--your choices are HECM Standard or HECM SAVER
In addition, the more valuable your home is, the older you are, and the lower the interest rate, the more you can borrow.  If there is more than one borrower, the age of the youngest borrower is used to determine the amount you can borrow.  For an estimate of HECM cash benefits, select the online calculator from the HECM Home Page. Many online reverse mortgage calculators can provide you with an estimate of the amount of funds you can borrow.

8. Should I use an estate planning service to find a reverse mortgage lender?

FHA does NOT recommend using any service that charges a fee for referring a borrower to an FHA-approved lender.  You can locate a FHA-approved lender by searching online at www.hud.gov or by contacting a HECM counselor for a listing.   Services rendered by HECM counselors are free or at a low cost.  To locate a HECM counselor Search online or call (800) 569-4287 toll-free, for the name and location of a HUD-approved housing counseling agency near you

9. How do I receive my payments?

You can select from five payment plans:

Tenure- equal monthly payments as long as at least one borrower lives and continues to occupy the property as a principal residence.
Term- equal monthly payments for a fixed period of months selected.
Line of Credit- unscheduled payments or in installments, at times and in an amount of your choosing until the line of credit is exhausted.
Modified Tenure- combination of line of credit and scheduled monthly payments for as long as you remain in the home.
Modified Term- combination of line of credit plus monthly payments for a fixed period of months selected by the borrower.
10. What if I change my mind and no longer want the loan after I go to closing?  How do I do this?

By law, you have three calendar days to change your mind and cancel the loan.  This is called a three day right of rescission.  The process of canceling the loan should be explained at loan closing.  Be sure to ask the lender for instructions on this process.  Mortgage lenders differ in the process of canceling a loan.  You should ask for the names of the appropriate people, phone numbers, fax numbers, addresses, or written instructions on whatever process the company has in place.  In most cases, the right of rescission will not be applicable to HECM for purchase transactions.more on fha




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