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Two Major Tax Changes for 2020 Charitable Giving

By Mary Heerwald | December 16, 2020

  It’s natural to reflect at the close of another calendar year. And after the historic events of 2020, many people aren’t sad to see this year come to an end. At Sente, we’ve paid careful attention to our core values to help see us through 2020, and this December, a specific value is top of mind: Care so Much We Make a Difference. We’re thrilled to have been able to give nearly $50,000 through an employer match campaign to nonprofits in local Sente branch locations this year. We’ve stayed connected and close, despite the remote environment. And we’ve ensured that our clients have continued to receive the very best service in the industry — no matter what the markets (or world) have been doing.  While this is a natural time of year to consider collective impact, many people also think about personal giving — about 30% of all donations each year happen in December. Many people give at the end of the year to combine supporting causes they care about — especially relevant on the heels of this turbulent year — with a desire to save on taxes. For those lucky enough to be counting their blessings as we wrap 2020, we’re sharing why this is a particularly good time for charitable giving. Thanks to the CARES Act, signed into law in March of…

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New Conforming Loan Limits Set at $548,250 for 2021

By Mary Heerwald | November 24, 2020

What Does This Mean for You? The Federal Housing Finance Committee (FHFA) just announced that in 2021, new limits for conforming loans will be set at $548,250 for most of the country, up from $510,000 in 2020. What does this mean for borrowers? You’ll have more buying power. The FHFA oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; these entities are responsible for regulating mortgages (which includes setting the limits on home loans that conform to Fannie and Freddie criteria — known as “conforming home loans”). These limits are adjusted annually to account for changes in the average U.S. home price. Conforming loans are seen as some of the most user-friendly for borrowers. Starting in 2021, these loans will be available for mortgages up to $548,250, which means you might be able to put less money down or purchase a bigger house without having to get what’s called a “Jumbo Loan” or a high-balance loan. Jumbo and high-balance loans tend to have stricter income underwriting, higher rates for smaller down payments, and specific requirements for the cash a borrower has in reserve. They can also take longer to close than conventional loans. This will mark the 5th straight year of Fannie and Freddie raising mortgage loan limits — a stark contrast to the decade between 2006-2016 when this ceiling went unchanged. Increasing conforming loan limits is yet…

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How to Help Your Wallet Through the Holidays This Year

By Mary Heerwald | November 16, 2020

Top 6 tips for holiday 2020 budgeting   We’re about to enter a unique holiday season — so what’s one way to take seasonal stress off your plate? Be financially prepared. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans report spending $1,007, on average, for holiday-related expenses. Ensure that you can enjoy the season as stress-free as possible by using these budgeting tips and tricks. Understand (and set) your limits. Make a list of your regular monthly, fixed expenses — these are predictable and will need to be taken care of. This list should include things like loan repayments (home, auto, student), insurance, credit card payments, groceries, gas, education/childcare, and other regular budget items. Then, start identifying buckets of spending specific to the holidays — and write down estimates on cost. Examples include: Holiday cards and postage Decorations and wrapping Travel Unique food items, such as a turkey or special desserts Gifts (more on this below) Add your holiday budget and regular expenses together and compare it to your monthly income. This will give you an idea on how much you need to save or cut. Make a list, check it twice. Write down everyone you’d ideally like to give a gift to this holiday season — then put a dollar figure next to their names for a gift amount that feels appropriate. This should be…

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