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FHA Loan Changes

by Nancy Heim-berg

The Federal Housing Administration has been insuring U.S. mortgage loans since 1934. The insurance helps protect lenders against loss by providing claims to lenders in the event an FHA-insured homeowner defaults on a loan. Though it makes the payments to lenders, the program is really provided for the benefit of American homebuyers.

The FHA program helps extend the American dream of owning a house to lower income Americans and people who could not otherwise meet traditional lending requirements. Instead of requiring 20% down, FHA qualified buyers can purchase a new home with 3.5% down. Homebuyers must qualify for the program, however, and they – not the lenders – pay for the insurance as part of their monthly mortgage payments.

The program worked well throughout history and made it possible for millions of Americans to purchase their own homes. The premiums paid by FHA borrowers were added to the program’s reserves, and those reserves were then used to pay lenders in the event a borrower defaulted on a loan. Unfortunately, the unprecedented number of defaults that occurred from 2000 to 2009 greatly reduced the FHA’s reserves and led to a number of significant changes that went into effect on April 1, 2013. Specifically, the program’s down payment requirements, annual insurance premiums, and eligibility requirements changed.

Beginning in April 2013, buyers who obtain loans above $625,500 will be required to put 5% down, instead of 3.5%. Annual mortgage insurance premiums will go up by 0.10% for loans under $625,500 and by 0.05% for loans above $625,500. Borrowers with credit scores below 620 will also be required to have a debt-to-income ratio of at least 43%. Additionally, fixed-rate “Standard” reverse mortgages will no longer qualify for FHA insurance.

Additional changes are scheduled to take effect in June. Beginning on June 3, 2013, payment of the required mortgage insurance will extend from a period of five years to the life of the loan in most cases. This change, while small, means buyers will end up paying significantly more to take out an FHA-insured loan in June 2013 and beyond than they paid in the past. Thankfully, there’s still time to obtain an FHA loan before the final change takes effect.

Nature Connects at Lauritzen Gardens

by Nancy Heim-berg

Where can you savor the once-in-a-lifetime experience created by 500,000 LEGO® bricks, clicking together to form 27 breathtakingly realistic sculptures, and 14 mind-blowing displays? The unique place available to take this all in is Lauritzen Gardens, located north of Interstate 80 and south of Omaha's historic Old Market district. Some of the other landmarks nearby include Rosenblatt Stadium, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and the Durham Museum. 

Bring the family on down to Lauritzen Gardens and stroll underneath an 8-foot tall hummingbird, wander aimlessly next to 7-foot roses, look a 5-foot butterfly in the eye, and then show off your own personal skills and abilities at building inside the Nature Connects exhibit's LEGO® Brickyard.

An indoor exhibit that is both inspiring and inspired at the same time, the Nature Connects at Lauritzen Gardens has been created, designed and developed to bring to light, and teach the public about, the myriad life-sustaining connections there are to Mother Earth.

Out of those half million legos already mentioned, 45,143 are on magnificent display in the mother bison, which is the exhibit's most massive structure. In addition to ‘mama’ bison, visitors will be able to enjoy creatures from six inches to eight feet in size, along with other LEGO® creations, such as a tiger swallowtail butterfly, a hummingbird, a gardener.

All throughout Nature Connects and its coinciding interpretive messages, attendees can gain extensive knowledge on the inner workings of how ecosystems are dependent upon diverse aspects of the natural world in order to survive. The exhibit also teaches how healthy and well-balanced populations are maintained, about connections between pollinators and plants, and how our endeavors as humans impact, often in a permanent and deep-rooted way, our home planet, Earth.

The wildly imaginative mind and artistically gifted building skills of Sean Kenney are responsible for bringing Nature Connects to life. An artist with 10-plus years working with LEGOS, and whose work has been highlighted by some of the nation's most well-known media outlets, such as the New York Times, Good Morning America and the Wall Street Journal, Kenney is far from a newcomer in the world of LEGO® sculpting. Among the medium's various challenges is its relatively limited palette of colors, block-shaped pieces and their respective grids.

Kenney blazed the trail for other artists with aspirations of becoming a LEGO® artist as the first LEGO® Certified Professional who is not a LEGO® employee, but enjoys official recognition by the company as a trusted business partner. For more information about the artist, and to view other works, visit Sean Kenney's website at www.seankenney.com.

Nature Connects is scheduled to run from Feb. 2nd through May 19th. The hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The price for admittance into the Nature Connects exhibit section at Lauritzen Gardens is included with the usual admission fee: $6 for adults ($7 after April 1), $3 for children 6-12 and free for garden members and children less than six.

Omaha Storm Chasers Home Opener

by Nancy Heim-berg

Don't miss out on a single pitch, stolen base or home run in the upcoming Omaha Storm Chasers 2013 season, which celebrates its home opener at Werner Park on Friday, April 12th, with the first pitch scheduled to be thrown at 7:05 p.m.

In addition to top-notch Triple-A baseball action, the Storm Chasers' (a Kansas City Royals affiliate) games provide fabulous entertainers, special giveaways and more than 30 different themes designed to recognize and celebrate the franchise's historic 45th season.

When you are marking your calendar for the forthcoming season, make double sure to include the super awesome giveaway game dates, such as the ConAgra Irving Falu Replica Jersey game on Saturday, April 13, and the Well's Blue Bunny, George Brett Bobble-Arm game on Saturday, May 18. Be sure to place a checkmark as well on entertainer game dates, including the Human Cannonball, presented by Bucky's and Pepsi on Saturday, June 1, and the Werner Enterprises Country Concert, which will feature Craig Morgan, on Friday, Aug. 23.

Even though single game tickets for this spring and summer officially went on sale on Friday, March 22, you can still purchase advance tickets for any one of the 72 games at Werner Park at a discounted price. Advance ticket prices begin at $16.50 for Club Seats and end at $7 for seats in the McDonald's Berm. You can also receive additionally discounted tickets for children aged 3 to 10, senior citizens and military service men and women in conjunction with this advance purchase discount.

You can buy your tickets at the Omaha Storm Chasers ticket office in person, by phone at (402) 738-5100 and at www.omahastormchasers.com.

The Storm Chasers organization wants fans to know that there will be an increase in the general parking price - from $2 per spot to $3 per spot. The VIP parking pass price will remain at $5. For more information contact Andrew Mitchell, Media Relations for the Omaha Storm Chasers, at (402) 738-2185.

The International Horse Show

by Nancy Heim-berg

The International Horse Show is scheduled to take place on Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13 at the CenturyLink Omaha Convention Center and Arena.

In addition to being a world-class equestrian experience - combining top-notch, incredibly intense competition with educational and entertaining activities - the International Horse Show will play host to a number of fun family activities and jumping events.

Show jumping is a fast-moving, exciting and beautiful sporting event that, due to the outstanding effort and strongly beating heart of the horses, both captivates and enraptures a broad audience. This thrilling, competitive sport is all about execution, speed, agility and the athletic spirit of both the horse and its rider. It is the only Olympic sport where men and women compete directly against each other.

The horse-and-rider combos have about 75 seconds to clear at least 13 obstacles of varying heights and widths. The horses are beautiful, strong and physically fit; their riders are also athletic and strong. The rules are very simple to understand and explain to newcomers, so one can easily keep track of the scores - there are no style points, it's all about execution and speed here.

Every competitive show jumping event is different and unique. Each course is designed and built to give horse-and-rider combos different advantages and disadvantages, based on what the course designer requires of them. This makes each new event, with its original course, fun to watch.

The International Horse Show is operated by the Omaha Equestrian Foundation, a certified not-for-profit organization. The foundation's major focus is to create, develop and foster world-class caliber, internationally competitive, equestrian athletes as well as to support the local community. The foundation gave tickets to The International Horse Show in 2012 to the Nebraska Humane Society, Girls Inc., Boys and Girls Club and area military families.

Here's where you can The International Horse Jumping Competition tickets.

Omaha Performing Arts Presents Disney's THE LION KING

by Nancy Heim-berg

The Orpheum Theater in Omaha presents the cultural and theatrical phenomenon that is Disney’s The Lion King. The sensational Tony Award®-winning Broadway live theater adaptation of the 1994 animated motion picture, also from Disney, began its run at the Orpheum on March 12 and is scheduled to continue through April 7. Visit Ticket Omaha for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

The live theater production of The Lion King is a musical, featuring amazing, unforgettable music from Elton John, with lyrics written by Tim Rice. The legendary Hans Zimmer composed the production's musical score, containing choral arrangements from Grammy Award winner Lebo M. The score pulsates with the mesmerizing rhythms of the Pride Lands of Africa, as well as Rice and John's Oscar-winning song, "Can You Feel The Love Tonight", several other familiar songs from the big screen version and some new original tunes composed specifically for the theatrical production.

Produced by Disney Theatrical, The Lion King's breathtaking visuals involved in bringing African animals to life via costumed actors and actresses and enormous, hollowed out puppets is directed by Julie Taymor.

Enduring Success of Timeless Story

The very first opening night for the live stage musical version of The Lion King was July 8, 1997. It took place at another Orpheum Theatre, this one is in Minneapolis, and by anyone's reckoning was an instant hit. This was even prior to its Oct. 15, 1997, debut at the New Amsterdam Theater on Broadway for previews, with its official premier taking the stage on Nov. 13, 1997.

Moving to the Minskoff Theatre on June 13, 2006, the Broadway production of The Lion King remains a popular attraction after more than 5,350 total performances. According to an article in the April 10, 2012, edition of the Guardian, The Lion King has become the fifth longest-running show in Broadway's storied history. The Guardian goes on to say that its $853.8 million gross makes it the legendary theater district's highest grossing show of all time.

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

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Heim-Berg Team
Berkshire Hathaway
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Omaha NE 68154
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402-679-7108
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