The Design Center Appointment
Last week, in preparation for our design selection appointment, we were invited to a Design Center open house. There, we met our assigned interior designer and received a folder with a list of prices for everything that is upgradable above any standard option. The design center is heaven for any designer with rooms decorated beautifully in different styles to give their visitors an idea of the finished product. The space also held library-style display walls with an impressive variety of flooring, knobs, faucets, and anything else you can think of for a home. Everything was labeled with levels of quality and price which made it very easy for us to gauge how much upgrades would potentially run. Based on how much we qualified for our mortgage, we were able to estimate how much to spend for upgrades above the price of the home.
Yesterday, we returned to the design center for the highly anticipated scheduled three-hour appointment. The day had finally arrived, and we were obviously ecstatic. Our interior designer set expectations for the day as we gathered at a large working table. Our designer entered everything in her computer starting with the floors going down the list from room to room. We had decided on a fine wood floor for the whole first floor and inquired how much it would cost to add it to the second-floor hallways and master bedroom. We felt the wood floor pricing was higher from what we had seen at some of the big box stores, but acknowledged the pricing included installation and that this higher-quality wood would not be readily available.
The focus was then moved to the kitchen, selecting the colors and styles for the countertops, cabinets, door handles, drawer knobs, faucet, sink, appliances, and even under cabinet lighting. At times it was difficult to decide from so many options and styles available. For example, there were a few quartz countertop options we really liked, since none of the standard options appealed to us. Thinking of resale value, we agreed with a lighter color cabinet and a stunning natural quartz that complemented the wood floors and the cabinetry perfectly. Upgrades were also made from the standard appliances to stainless steel.
Three hours flew by the time we had selected everything for the bathrooms, public areas and even the low voltage system for the whole house. What was really interesting is that we were able to create a central system in which all communication (wi-fi, internet, cable, etc.) were housed, allowing us not having to see any wires, modems, or routers sitting around the house.
Looking back at the day, it was incredibly rewarding with very little disagreements. Was it exhausting? Yes, definitely! The amount of decisions that needed to be made were overwhelming at times. Coming in with an open mind to the possibilities was a good way to think about this day. It made a world of difference. Our interior designer was incredibly helpful answering all our questions and showing us options when we couldn’t make up our minds. Above it all, it was exciting to select the choices for our house interiors and can slowly see it becoming a home in our minds.
By the end of the appointment, our designer gave us a 43-page document with all the upgrades with their cost, listing every item one by one. We went home and reviewed the document carefully to ensure everything aligned with what we had selected and the amount we had set aside for upgrades. We also took lots of pictures of each item by room, which was extremely helpful since there were so many items to review. Luckily, we were close to our target figure, but were unsure on a few items, therefore the time between the first and second appointment allowed us the time to think of this more thoughtfully. Everyone has a vision of what a home should look like, with the best of the best. When one is presented with the reality, how much things cost, it is a little perplexing. It adds up quickly too. Thankfully we were given a credit toward the upgrades which was used up pretty quickly.
At a second design appointment this week, we finalized the selection process by deciding what we wanted to change, remove, or add to the list. With this builder, we are required to provide a 30% deposit from the total cost of all upgrades after we have signed the upgrade contract.
What’s next? We should be breaking ground in about a week and closing around September 24 (trusting there are no hurricanes). We’ll be sharing more of the event when the moment arrives!
by Enrique D. at Partners
A Workshop On Finances For Me
As one of my first official tasks as a new member of the Partners Marketing team, I was asked to attend a financial workshop facilitated by my fellow Cast Member Juliana. Primarily, I was there to photograph the event so that we would have images we could use in future articles or on our website. Of course, as Juliana went on to explain, she was excited to have me there because I would be able to get a feel for the types of workshops and education programs Partners offers. Not to mention that it was a millennial-focused workshop, which meant that my 23-year-old self was exactly the target audience. I was pretty curious to see what a “millennial workshop” looked like, and secretly hoped that Juliana wasn’t about to give a presentation full of hashtags, selfies, and memes. You know—millennial things!
I arrived that morning, camera in hand, and helped pass out worksheets and pens. At 9:30, the lights dimmed, and Juliana began her presentation. I took a few moments to really sit back and take everything in; I noticed that, as expected, nearly everyone in the room was around my age. And to my pleasant surprise, I also noticed that Juliana was speaking to the room as she would any other group. While the topic of conversation was definitely geared towards my age group in its focus on building credit now at the beginning our careers, that’s all it was. There were no gimmicks to try to appeal to a younger crowd, and the conversation didn’t feel patronizing or like we were being scolded for not already knowing the information.
I try to keep on top of my finances as much as possible. My dad works for a bank and my mom works in municipal finance, and they definitely instilled in me the importance of financial literacy from a relatively young age. I opened a credit card when I started college so that I could build credit and routinely put away a set amount of money each month. But there’s a lot I still don’t know or understand. I know my friends and I always joke about this, but they really don’t teach us this stuff in school! How much money should I be setting aside for my 401k? But wait a second, what’s the difference between a 401k, an IRA, and a Roth IRA and do I need to pick just one? And believe me, I’ve done all sorts of research on my own, but it’s hard to know what information to trust when you’re constantly bombarded with clickbaity articles such as “11 Things Beginners Absolutely MUST Know About Saving For Retirement” and “20 Things Every 20-Something Should Know About Credit” — to put it simply, it’s all very overwhelming.
So to have a workshop series dedicated to helping people my age, I think that’s pretty special. While Juliana does a fantastic job picking topics that are interesting to us—such as credit, saving for retirement, and protecting your online identity—I think what makes these sessions especially valuable is getting to experience them with a group of likeminded people. All of the participants in the workshop were also just beginning their careers with Disney, and it was amazing getting to see everyone so involved in the conversation. People were taking notes and asking all sorts of question—questions I’d thought of before, but had never had anyone to ask.
When the workshop ended, I felt two things: that I had learned a lot of valuable information, but also that I had found a resource that I would be able to utilize in the process of better understanding and securing my financial future. Which is fantastic timing because I just happened to receive my Disney Benefits package in the mail. And yes, I did manage to snap a few photos as well!
by Sarah B. at Partners
This is really going to happen! Just thinking about the day when we move into our new home makes us so emotional.
A few days ago, along with our agent and check book in hand, we went to our appointment with the builder to select our desired lot and home plan. Before our appointment, we walked over to the lot we liked and took our time evaluating it. We looked at where the sun would point during different times of the day. And upon a closer look, we realized that this lot had a pie shape opening, wider toward the back of the house with a beautiful natural conservation area. All of us immediately imagined ourselves sitting in the backyard appreciating the beauty of nature. Just the fact that we would get a premium lot, and that we would never have anything built behind our house, was enough for us to decide that this was the one! We then drove over to the sales center down the street for our appointment.
We found out that the permits to build new construction in Orlando were taking about four months. We were lucky that the model we wanted had already been permitted and were able to start construction within 30 days. This would put us to into a September/October closing, precisely at the end of our lease where we are renting. This is extraordinary!
At the appointment, we asked some standard questions. Our seasoned real estate agent was also able to ask a lot of questions as well, some we had never really even considered. Having lived through several hurricanes, we made sure to ask if the home was in a flood zone, which we knew would affect our insurance rates. Thankfully, it wasn’t. Our agent asked some good questions about discounts and credits. We found out the builder would give us a $7,500 credit toward upgrades, and $3,500 for closing costs if we applied for a loan with their preferred lender—even if we decided to go with a different lender! Of course, we took advantage of that. At this meeting, we also found out there was a Homeowners Association, and that gave us some peace of mind that there will be rules for upkeep of homes and public areas.
The builder’s sales rep was very transparent, able to provide all the answers to help us make the right decision. Our agent took a copy of the contract and read each paragraph as we reviewed it with the sales rep, often describing or explaining something within it that we should be aware. We quickly realized that builder contracts favor the builder greatly but felt relieved knowing that our agent was there to bring up anything questionable.
We signed the contract, initialed every single page while going through all the details, and wrote a check for the initial deposit that would hold our lot and home. This builder required a 5% minimum down payment. We are to provide a balance in a few days.
You cannot imagine how happy and reassured we were to have signed a contract on what will be our next dream home. To celebrate the special occasion, we drove back to the lot and took a picture showing our new patch of land, and where someday soon our home will be.
We are visiting the design center on April 12, stay tuned for the details.
by Enrique D. at Partners
Buying a home can be both intimidating and overwhelming. It was for us when we purchased our first home back in 1999. We never thought that we could afford it. It was not until we researched the options that we were able to make smarter informed decisions about a better future for our family. We are now in the process of buying our fourth dream home and in the next four to five months, we’ll share our home buying experience with you.
Hi, I am Enrique. In full disclosure, I work at Partners Federal Credit Union as the Design and Brand Manager. My husband and I both have made our careers here at Disney since 1994. Last May, we decided to sell our home near Magic Kingdom where we had been happily living for 10 years in order to bring my mother to live with us. She had just turned 75 still working as an English professor and was ready to retire. We researched various options and found some homes in the area with separate apartments above garages that would work for her. We also looked at homes with divided layouts and even duplexes. The reality was that prices for the most acceptable options we had seen were outside of our budget.
We took a weekend a few weeks ago to visit new area communities being built in Winter Garden close to Disney and walked many model homes with our real estate agent. Once we identified the builder and model we liked, we visited them again to view them with more discerning eyes. We looked at the type of neighborhood, distance to work, proximity to shopping and entertainment venues, traffic patterns, noise, quality of materials and finishes in the construction and interiors, lot sizes, space between homes, keeping of public areas (pools, recreation, gardens, etc.), and even how many cars were actually parked on the street.
We made an appointment to meet with our agent and a builder sales person who was able to give us more information on available lots, prices and construction time frames. We went home and discussed the possible options available based on our timeline and decided on a very nice two-story home with a large common area on the first floor and equally large yard that backed into a conservation zone. The second floor was nicely divided into two wings that felt separate enough for my mother to have her independence while affording my husband and I equal space for our privacy. We would be so close to the Magic Kingdom, that we would be able to see and hear the fireworks every night. How exciting!
Our next step was to get a loan pre-approval, but where could we go for that? Hmm, it was a given, we contacted our mortgage advisor at Partners. We were able to get a pre-qualification letter to bring to the builder. This letter could not only solidify a contract with the builder, but also confirm an idea of what we could realistically afford.
We are excited to share this home buying journey with you and invite you to come back in the next four to five months as we go through the whole process of buying and building our next new dream home! In the next entry, I’ll tell you what happened when we went to sign the contract.
by Enrique D. at Partners
Partners is excited to offer our Members for a limited time, the new and exclusive Disneyland Visa® Debit Card. We partnered with Walt Disney Records and their launch of The Legacy Collection to celebrate the music of Disney’s classic animated films. Additionally, our team also got chance to sit down and discuss the amazing album cover art created by Disney artist and Partners Member Lorelay Bové.
A magical experience came to be when Lorelay Bové received the opportunity to re-imagine the visual presentations of such classic Disney movies as The Lion King, Sleeping Beauty, and Fantasia. To commemorate these films and the 60th anniversary of Disneyland, Walt Disney Records assembled a compilation album series, featuring re-mastered and remixed soundtracks. Lorelay was commissioned to re-create the cover of each album with a design using the rich colors, textures, and themes of its original edition. Her skills, rooted deeply in the artistic world of animation, had brought her to this moment of a lifetime, an exciting project she could not refuse.
Even as a second grade student, Lorelay knew that she wanted to be an artist. Born in Spain, Lorelay and her two siblings moved to the U.S. when she was 14. Her mother and her father, also an artist himself, encouraged all of their children to explore art. “He would always encourage us to draw and paint,” said Lorelay. “I remember when my father brought me a Preston Blair book. I fell in love with drawing the cartoons. That was the moment I knew I wanted to get into animation.”
Lorelay continued her artistic journey, eventually completing her professional degree at the California Institute of the Arts, also known as CalArts. After graduation, she interned at Pixar, where she created stories using such characters as Hansel and Gretel. When her internship ended, Lorelay had the chance to become a trainee in the program in the art department at Disney Animation Studios. She would go on to become a permanent Cast Member, where she’s worked for the last 10 years.
After receiving the news from her manager that she’d be working on Walt Disney Records’ The Legacy Collection, Lorelay affirmed that she was up to the challenge of producing all of twelve album covers for the compilation. “I was really excited to create and re-imagine the art for those classic films I grew up watching,” said Lorelay. Inspired by her love of travelling and her passion for telling stories, she drafted sketches and captured the essence of the original art in a fresh way in order to, as she put it, “bring the warmth of the Disney films to life.”
Visit your local Partners branch to find out how you can get your own Disneyland Visa® Debit Card.
by Sarah B. at Partners
You’re invited to the 2018 PARTNERS ANNUAL MEETING. Join us for our annual election and learn about upcoming credit union 2018 initiatives. Enjoy light refreshments PLUS enter to win some GREAT PRIZES!
|Thursday, April 26 2018 at 5:30 PM PT||Grand Central Air Terminal
1310 Air Way, Glendale, CA 91201
We look forward to seeing you there!
by Sarah B. at Partners
Congrats, you’re a homeowner! Maybe you’re a first-time buyer who has just recently taken the leap into homeownership, or you’re a seasoned pro who has plenty of experience in the real estate game. No matter the situation, your home is likely the greatest asset you have. But how much is your home actually worth? While it’s easy to keep track of your savings and investments, it can be difficult to understand your property’s value, especially in today’s rapidly changing market.
That’s where Partners’ new Find My Home’s Value comes in–a home valuation tool powered by HomeAdvantage™. There are many different factors that influence your home’s value: the neighborhood, the size of the home, and the current real estate market, to name just a few. Unless you’re a professional appraiser or seasoned real estate pro, it can be overwhelming to try and determine the value yourself! We make it easy: simply type in your home address and click “Estimate”.
Of course, this value is an estimate. Based on calculations using local market data, our new Find My Home’s Value tool will present you with your home’s estimated value and the information on comparable properties used to calculate your estimate. And if you’re interested in a more in-depth estimate, you can also request a free, no-obligation market valuation with an agent in our HomeAdvantage™ program.
Knowing the value of your home is a powerful tool; if you’re looking to buy or sell a property, understanding its value will allow you to make smart decisions throughout the process. What if you’re not interested in buying or selling your home? Understanding how much equity you have in your home may help in many situations, such as for insurance purposes, property tax, financial planning for the future, or other home loan options like Home Equity Lines Of Credits. So, what’s your home worth?
by Sarah B. at Partners
We know our Members’ lives can sometimes be busy and hectic, that’s why we’re always looking for ways to make our representatives more convenient and accessible! When you’re already online and have a question or need assistance with your Partners account, who wants to pick up a phone?
With Partners Online Chat, our friendly and knowledgable representatives are just a click away from answering questions about your account, assisting with any loan applications, and more. In fact, our online chat has gotten so popular with our Members, that we are excited to announce extended chat hours for those busy schedules!
Beginning April 2, 2018, our expanded chat service will be available Monday through Friday, from 8 AM ET to 8 PM ET.
We look forward to chatting with you online soon!
by Sarah B. at Partners
Tips To Jump Start Your Budget
2018 is well on its way but it’s never too late to jump start your budget to help you reach your financial dreams. Whether you’re looking for ways to stay on top of your everyday expenses, or saving for the purchase of your dream home, or maybe this is the year you pay off your debt, our Budgeting with Partners video offers a plan to help you get started.
by Juliana T. at Partners