Skip to Content
StraightTalk Blog Banner

Thinking About Buying Your First Home? Read This First!

Posted in
Updated June 18, 2021 3:10 PM
Blog Header Buying a Home 2021 6 21

As a first-time homebuyer, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the entire home buying process. There's a lot of information out there about how to buy a home, and you deserve a knowledgeable partner to help you every step of the way. We've highlighted the key information you need to get started and when you're ready, our mortgage experts are here to assist you with the pre-approval process. After you’re approved, they’ll continue to be your resource for all of your questions and will provide you with information about our special mortgage relationship pricing, the closing process, and more. 

Getting Started

Ready to start looking at homes? Before you do, consider getting a mortgage pre-approval first. Getting a pre-approval will help you and your real estate agent determine what you can afford so you have an idea of what to look for when you’re house hunting. Our pre-approvals last for up to six months, which is 2x longer than our competitors. 

Next, find a licensed real estate agent. This is the person who will help make your house hunting easier and find you the home you’re looking for. They know how to negotiate the sales price and prepare a purchase contract once you’ve found your home.

Do I Need a Down Payment?

Yes, but although many people believe you need to put 20% down to buy a home, you can actually finance your new home with CCU with as little as 3%* of the purchase price as a down payment. But don’t forget, you’ll also need to factor in additional fees that come with closing on the house such as the closing fees, appraisal fee, optional inspection fees, title charges, and state or local taxes. We will be able to provide more information to you once you have found your home and are ready to begin the closing process.

What to Do After You Find Your Home

It’s recommended (not required but it could save you money in the long-run) to hire a licensed home inspector. They will help you determine the quality of a home and help protect your investment. Ask for recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues to find someone who is trustworthy and thorough in their inspection.

Once you find your home, your inspection is complete (if you choose to get one), and your offer has been accepted, it’s time to start your mortgage process. After you have a signed purchase contract, forward it to your CCU mortgage originator. Our team will prepare and send your application documents to you and also take care of ordering a full appraisal of the property (this determines the value of the property) once all documents are signed and received. Finally, you’ll choose an attorney to represent you and review all mortgage documents and coordinate a closing date with the seller’s attorney.
 
Once these steps are complete, congratulations! You are ready to close on your new home! All that’s left to do is sign, collect the keys, and unpack. 

Not Quite Ready to Start? No worries!

It’s important to take time to do your research and figure out your finances when you’re considering buying a home. For more information, check out the rest of our website, give us a call at 800-677-8506, email us, or stop by one of our branch locations. 

Ready to Get Started?

Apply for your pre-approval with CCU today! And be sure to check out our special mortgage relationship pricing to help you save money on your home.

          

*You should consult a tax advisor for information regarding the deductibility of interest and charges. Property insurance is required. An example of a monthly principal, interest, and private mortgage insurance payment for a 3% low down payment fixed rate mortgage on $97,000.00 at 6.237% annual percentage rate for 360 months would be approximately $606.54. This payment does not include property taxes and homeowner/flood insurance. The interest rate for a 3% low down payment mortgage product can be .5% higher than a conventional 5% down payment mortgage. Private mortgage insurance and escrow for taxes and insurance are required with a down payment of less than 20%.

 

How to Prepare for Your Next Home Project

Posted in
Updated June 17, 2021 5:24 PM
Blog Header Preparing for Next Home Project 2021 6 21

This past year has had many of us spending more time at home than ever before. Combine that with the warmer weather, and you may be itching to start some of those lingering home projects. From kitchen and bathroom updates to a new roof, a pool, or smaller projects, this is the perfect time to start making your house feel more like home. But sometimes those home projects can be overwhelming and it can be challenging to know where to start. That’s why we put together our top tips to help make sure you’re getting the job done, within your budget.

Set Project Goals 

It’s time to put pen to paper. You may have a general idea of what you want to accomplish with this project, but writing out your goals and objectives really gives you a clear and visual idea of what you plan to achieve. Depending on the type of project, you may even want to consider getting blueprints or sketching out your plans before you start. 

Establish a Budget

It’s important to create a budget to identify how much you’re able to spend and how much you need to set aside for the project. It might even be helpful to make an Excel sheet to plan and track your budget along the way (however, it’s not required if it’s not quite your thing).

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself before getting started: 

  • What’s the average cost for a project like this?
  • Are there other options that are cheaper and more within my budget?
  • What other resources do I need for this project?
  • Will there be any additional or unforeseen costs?
  • Do I have all of the money I need for it right now?
  • Is my project deadline realistic financially?

While a budget is super helpful, it can be a little discouraging if it is low. But don’t get discouraged if you have a small budget and big ideas – a lot of times you can make something look like you had a really big budget but in reality, it didn’t cost that much. The internet is a wonderful resource to help make DIY projects look like a million bucks on a budget. 

Find a Contractor

If the project you have in mind is more than a DIY project, we suggest finding a reputable contractor. Start by getting recommendations from friends, family, and local community members and then ask those contractors for written estimates. Also, ask for copies of current licenses and insurance certificates based on your state’s contractor licensing requirements. A reputable contractor should be carrying personal liability, workers’ compensation, and property damage insurance. Lastly, ask for a written contract with all project specifications, including start date, completion date, cost, guarantees, warranties, and promises. 

Create a Timeline

Whether you’re working with a contractor or doing the work yourself, it’s important to create a timeline to stay on track to ensure everyone involved will be on the same page. If you choose to work with a contractor, it’s important to know their schedule so you know when they can start the job, and when they can finish it. 

How We Can Help!

We’re here to help you, no matter how big or small the project is. Check out a couple of our helpful options below.

CCU’s Home Improvement Loan1

This loan is a great option if you don’t have substantial equity in your home but want to make improvements or prep your home to sell. Unlike home equity loans, this loan option allows you to borrow up to $25,000 for home improvement projects without needing to borrow against your home. This loan could be used for new flooring or windows, a kitchen or bath remodel, or installation of an in-ground pool or central air and more. 

Looking for Other Options?

Let us help you find the best option that meets your specific needs. Contact us today to learn more. 
  

1Credit Union membership required. Minimum borrowed amount $7,500. Approval for financing is subject to lending guidelines and credit qualifications. Must be a homeowner to qualify. Home must be your primary residence. For home improvement projects only; an itemized list of materials or estimate from a contractor is required. Limited time offer.

 

New Card? Easily Update Your Card Info!

Posted in
Updated June 16, 2021 8:03 PM
Blog Header Card Updater Tool 2021 6 21

Picture this: you’re out and about doing your usual errands and as you go to pay, you realize your credit or debit card expires soon (don't worry, we will be sending you a new one!). You start thinking about all of the places you shop online that have your card info saved and all of the automatic bill payments you have linked to your card and realize that updating them could be a time-consuming task. Great news! With our Automatic Card Updater Tool, you can instantly update your card info in one place, at one time. All you have to do is enter your info once and it will update across all participating sites whenever your card information changes in the future.

So, what is it?

The Automatic Card Updater Tool securely and quickly updates your card information in apps and on websites where you shop and pay. Simply register your CCU debit and/or credit card and select your merchants. If you get a new card or change card information in the future, this tool will help you update your card information instantly!

Is it safe?

Yes! The app is completely safe. It relieves the pain of getting a new card and helps you update your accounts. All that you need are the login credentials for the sites you’d like to update and this information remains secure in your account. 

Cool! How does it work?

Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Click the “Learn More and Get Started” button below and accept the Terms of Service.
  2. Select all the merchants with whom you would like to update your card.
    Don’t see the merchant you want? We’re always adding to our list! Just contact us and let us know!
  3. Enter your card information one time.
  4. Enter your login information for each merchant.

We hope this tool provides a better banking experience and saves you time!

 

Digital Banking Enhancements Made Just for You

Posted in
Updated June 17, 2021 5:02 PM
Blog Header Digital Banking Enhancements 2021 6 21

You may have noticed a few updates to your online banking or mobile app recently. We’ve been busy behind the scenes enhancing features and functionality as part of our continued mission to create a better and more seamless banking experience for you. These updates include a new look and feel for the way you manage your cards, the ability to add travel notes on your account, quick access to redeem your CCU Visa® credit card points, and new login and security updates. Keep reading to learn more about these enhancements. 

Cards Widget Updates

Formerly known as the Cards widget, the updated “Card Management” widget has a new name and new look, with all of the same functions as before. When you select this widget, you’ll now see a display of your active ATM, debit, and credit card(s) and have the ability to freeze and unfreeze them, report a card as damaged, lost, or stolen, and have a new card ordered. 

Create Travel Notes

You’ll also notice the Card Management widget now allows you to create travel notes. Travel notes are a great tool to let us know of your current and future travel plans and are the best way to ensure your card transactions won’t be interrupted while you’re away. If we aren’t aware you’re traveling, purchases you make can look suspicious and may be blocked, so be sure to fill out the quick and easy form in digital banking before you leave. 

Redeem Your Visa® Points!*

If you are a CCU Visa Signature® Rewards+ or Visa® Platinum Rewards credit cardholder, you can also easily review your rewards history and redeem any available points from the purchases you’ve made. If you have a points card, you’ll see this option under the Rewards tab of the Card Management widget. Once you redeem your points, we will deposit your funds into the account you select. Remember, you must have a minimum of 2,500 points before being able to redeem, so be sure to keep using your CCU card on your everyday purchases to allow those points to add up. 

Login Updates

Logging in just got easier. You can now enter your username and password at the same time on the CCU website, which means one less click and step to access your account on your desktop computer. The login screen on your mobile app has also been updated to include an option to hide or show the password you’ve typed in by tapping on the “eye” icon.

We’ve also made an optional security setting available. As you already know, we’ll occasionally prompt you to receive and enter a verification code. This type of security feature is known as two-factor authentication and is designed as extra verification that it is you logging in to your account. Now you can choose to receive a prompt every time you log in. To enable this setting, simply go to Settings > Security > Two-Factor Authentication. If you use a verification code app (like Authy), these are also now supported. This enhancement creates an extra layer of security on your account. To enable, go to Settings > Security > Two-Factor Authentication > 2FA App.
 

*Please note, travel notes and points redemption are only available for CCU Visa Signature® Rewards+ and Visa® Platinum Rewards cardholders.

 

Creating a Positive Impact on Elmira-area Businesses - National Small Business Week 2021

Posted in
Updated May 14, 2021 2:36 PM
Blog Header National Small Biz Week 2021 5 21

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve looked for ways we can help meet some of the biggest needs in the communities we serve. One of the ways we’ve assisted small businesses and put a significant amount of money straight into the local community is through local gift card matching initiatives. We saw great success when we partnered with Corning’s Gaffer District and Corning Enterprises in the spring of 2020 for their Buy Now, Shop Later program, where we exhausted our matching funds in fewer than three days. After this overwhelming positive response from the community, we continued to look for more of these initiatives in other areas. In conjunction with this year’s National Small Business Week from May 3-7, we partnered with Elmira Downtown Development (EDD) for their very own Buy Now, Shop Later program.

We provided a dollar-for-dollar match on gift card purchases to Elmira-area businesses throughout the week. Customers were able to purchase a gift card right on the EDD website or by phone where CCU automatically made a matching donation to that business for up to $50. That means a business received $50 for a $25 gift certificate purchase. The match ran until the $25,000 in matching funds was exhausted (spoiler alert: funds were exhausted in just under three days!) and 62 different businesses had gift cards purchased and matched. Gift cards were mailed out by Friday, May 7, so if you made a purchase, you should expect it in the mail soon if you haven't already received it. 

So, why Buy Now, Shop Later? According to Jennifer Herrick-McGonigal, EDD Executive Director, “Participating in this program means supporting the heart of what makes our community unique and supporting our local businesses at a time when they need it most.” For us, we recognize small businesses have seen some the biggest challenges they never could have imagined during this past year. We’re proud to support them and directly inject cash into the small business community. We believe we can make a difference together, especially right now.

Initiatives like these help create a positive impact on our communities and we look forward to other ways we can help in the future. 

 

Mail Delays and What To Expect

Posted in
Updated March 04, 2021 2:02 PM
Mail Delays 300x200 3 3

Communications that you may be expecting from CCU through the mail (like statements and notices) may take longer than usual to arrive due to the continued impact of COVID-19 on postal services. Delays may also impact anything you are mailing to CCU, such as loan payments or other documents. 

Don’t worry – we’re still here to help ensure you have access to your accounts and your information! With 24/7 account access through online and mobile banking, the following are options available to you: 

•  Go paperless 
•  Pay bills 
•  Set up automatic transfers 
•  Turn on account notifications 
 
For information on other services available to you, visit www.digital.corningcu.org.


 

Why Your Feedback Matters

Posted in
Updated March 03, 2021 9:00 PM
VOM Image 300x200 3 21

We're always looking for ways to improve to ensure you receive exceptional service. Maintaining your loyalty and trust is very important to us. Through our "Voice of the Member" survey program, we're able to receive valuable feedback from our members and implement changes as a result. 

In 2020, we received 12,592 survey responses from our members. More importantly, we reviewed every single response received. As a result of your feedback, several service and process improvements – including team trainings to enhance member experiences and digital banking enhancements – were implemented. 

Your feedback helps us grow. If you receive a survey, please consider completing it. If you have not had the opportunity to share your feedback or would like to tell us more, we encourage you to let us know about your experience. 




 

Four Ways to Protect Yourself from Fraud

Posted in
Updated December 23, 2020 3:05 PM
Blog Header  General Fraud Info 12 20

By taking steps to protect yourself from fraud, you can help keep your personal information safe. Minimize the risk of someone accessing your personal information by following the four steps below.

Set up Fraud Alerts and Purchase Alerts

When you have alerts set up, you’ll be the first to know when there's activity on your card(s). Alerts are easy to set up and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re being proactive with monitoring your account.

If you’re a CCU member, you can set up Automated Fraud Alerts to receive a notification whenever there’s suspicious activity on your cards. You can also set up Visa Purchase Alerts to stay up-to-date on all of your purchases. We also encourage you to check out our Fraud Prevention Services.

Shred Documents with Sensitive Information

Shredding documents makes it less likely for dumpster divers to steal any information on sensitive documents containing your name, address, credit card info, and more. Learn more about how long to hold onto certain documents and when it’s time to shred them here.

Don’t Give Out Your Personal Information

A reputable business will never ask you for your personal information. It’s important to be cautious about who you give your information to – no matter how convincing it may sound – because it could be a scam. Always ask why someone needs the information and what happens if you do not provide it. If you are speaking with someone over the phone and have a feeling it may be suspicious, hang up right away and call the business directly to speak with someone who works there.

It’s important to make sure you’re also cautious about the information you are sharing online. If you receive an email or a deal that is too good to be true, it probably is. These types of scams are usually referred to as phishing scams, and the scammers always try their best to be as convincing as possible. That’s why it's important to pause, check to see if the communication or offer is legitimate, and keep your information out of the wrong hands.

Also, be sure to think twice before sharing on social media. By oversharing information about yourself on the Internet, a fraudster could figure out your password or answers to your security questions just by knowing your pet’s name, where you were born, or what kind of car you drive. To learn more about phishing scams and how to keep your personal information even more safe, click here.

We will continue to share information on the most recent scams so you can stay up-to-date and protected. We also encourage you to check out this page for additional information and resources.

Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords make it less likely for fraudsters to hack your accounts and steal your information. Make sure you are creating a unique and strong password for every account using a variety of characters and symbols. We recommend using a passphrase and password generator and storing these passwords in a safe place where you are the only person able to access them. As an extra layer of protection, we also recommend setting up login alerts when given the option, so you always know if there is suspicious activity on the account. To learn more about building strong passwords, click here

Think You’ve Been a Victim of Fraud?

At a minimum, you should do the following:

  • Place fraud alerts with all three credit bureaus
    • Experian: 888-397-3742
    • Equifax: 800-525-6285
    • TransUnion: 800-680-7289
  • File a complaint with the ID Theft Hotline: 877-ID THEFT
  • Check credit report information and review accounts
  • Alert your financial institution of the situation
  • Close accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently
  • File a police report (and keep a copy of the report for your records)


 

What You Need to Know About Escrow on Your Mortgage

Posted in
Updated October 06, 2020 6:18 PM
Blog Header  Escrow 10 20

Many homeowners have a variety of questions when their mortgage includes an escrow account. Whether you’re an experienced homeowner or a first-time homebuyer, we’re here for you. That’s why we’re breaking escrow down for you to help you understand the annual escrow analysis statement you’ll receive in the mail. 

What is Escrow?

Your escrow payment is part of your total monthly mortgage payment. Escrow funds are used to pay real estate taxes, property insurance, mortgage insurance, and other related items. Each year, an escrow analysis is conducted to estimate future payments to and disbursements from your escrow account.

It’s important to note if taxes or insurance change, it would impact your monthly mortgage payment. To learn more about your assessed value which is used to calculate taxes, reach out to your specific town, city, or village tax assessor.

Based on the location of your property, the following taxes could apply:

  • Town
  • County
  • City
  • Village
  • Borough/Township
  • School
  • Fire District

What is an Escrow Account Disclosure Statement?

An Escrow Account Disclosure Statement projects the tax payment activity for the upcoming twelve months and calculates your new payment and indicates the surplus or shortage, if applicable. The annual history shows all transactions for your account since your last escrow analysis.

What if I Have a Surplus in My Escrow Account?

If you have a surplus greater than $50.00 in your account, you will receive a check in the amount of that surplus. If the surplus amount is less than $50, it will be retained within the escrow account and will lower your monthly payment by 1/12 of the surplus amount.

What if I Have a Shortage in My Escrow Account?

Your monthly payment will be increased by 1/12 of the shortage as indicated on the last page of your statement. You can reduce the amount of this increase by depositing additional funds into your escrow account prior to your payment due date. Also, remember all such deposits must be made by the date stated in your analysis statement. If you choose to make an additional deposit, you will receive a new escrow analysis statement with your adjusted monthly payment.

What if There is a Change to My Monthly Payment?

If there is a change to your monthly payment, you may need to make adjustments through: 

  • Your employer’s payroll department
  • Your financial institution’s online bill pay service
  • Your financial institution’s recurring payments

For changes to the amount of your automatic transfer within your Corning Credit Union account, including a reduction, please contact us to speak to a Member Service Representative.

Property Tax Relief Programs

Some states offer property tax relief programs for eligible homeowners. Be sure to check with your local government for any applicable property tax relief programs you may qualify for.

What if I Have Additional Questions?

If you have questions regarding your escrow analysis, please contact our mortgage department weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. (ET) at 607-962-3144 or 800-677-8506. Press option 1, followed by option 3, then option 4.

 

3 Steps to Take After Opening a Windfall Checking Account

Posted in
Updated September 22, 2020 2:46 PM
WF Checking Steps 8 20

If you’re reading this, chances are you just opened a Windfall Checking® account at CCU. Congratulations! Now that you have a high-yield checking account with benefits, including no monthly fees and refunded ATM fees with no minimum balance requirement, you might be wondering what happens next.

To ensure you’re getting the most out of your account, we’ve outlined a few steps for you to take. These steps are requirements to ensure you receive your Windfall Checking benefits each month. If these requirements are not met, no dividend will be paid and ATM fees will not be refunded – but don’t worry! If you can’t meet the requirements in one month, you’ll start receiving your benefits the next month that you do. The steps listed below are simple and quick, and we’re confident they will make your banking experience even better. 

Step 1: Sign up for eStatements 
With eStatements, you can reduce the paper clutter in your home (and we know it can pile up at times!) while helping the environment. Once you’re signed up, you can receive and view your monthly account and Visa® credit card statements online or in the mobile app whenever you need.

To sign up for eStatements on the CCU mobile app: 

  • Log in to your digital banking account
  • Tap "More," then select "eDocuments"
  • Select “Settings” in the corner of the screen
  • Tap "Subscribe" and follow the instructions then tap “Subscribe” again to complete the process

To sign up for eStatements online:

  • Log in to your online banking account
  • Go to the eDocuments widget
  • Click Subscribe in the Overview section then follow the instructions then click “Subscribe” to continue

Learn more about eStatements benefits.

Step 2: Set up Direct Deposit

Would you rather worry less about picking up your check before you leave work for the day? Even better, do you want to skip the lines in a branch or the extra steps in mobile banking to deposit your check? The good news is you can. By setting up direct deposit, you can have your check automatically deposited into your account by the opening of business each weekday. Plus, it’s FREE!

To enroll for direct deposit:

  • Ask your employer if they participate in a direct deposit program
  • Provide your employer with CCU’s Routing and Transit Number (222380359) and the additional information below depending on whether you’d like your deposit to go into your savings or checking account
    • For savings and checking: Head to the “Information Widget” in Digital Banking (either within the CCU app or on desktop) to look up your direct deposit numbers
    • For savings and checking: Contact us to have a CCU representative print, fax, or email your direct deposit information to you
    • For checking: Give your employer a voided check or the full 14-digit account number from the bottom of your check, starting with "9570"

Learn more about payments that can be directly deposited into your account and payroll distributions.

Step 3: Make At Least 12 Card Purchases Each Month

Plan and make sure you have at least 12 CCU Visa credit or check card purchases posted to your account each month. We recommend making your Windfall Checking account your go-to account to help meet this requirement. A helpful way to do this is by linking your card to your monthly utility payments, Amazon account, and any other subscriptions you may have, such as Netflix or Hulu.

Thanks for Choosing Windfall Checking at CCU!

We’re so happy you chose Windfall Checking for your financial needs and hope you enjoy your better banking experience. If you have any questions, please contact us.  

Learn more about Windfall Checking!

Federally Insured by NCUA. All accounts are verified through ChexSystems. Membership eligibility required. Dividends paid on balances up to $20,000. ATM fees refunded up to $30 a month. To qualify for a dividend and ATM fee refund, member must: have at least 12 CCU Visa® credit or check card purchases posted to your account each month, have a direct deposit into your account, and receive eStatements. If requirements are not met, no dividend will be paid and ATM fees will not be refunded.