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Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is President and Chief Lending Officer at Approved Funding, a privately held local mortgage banker and direct lender. Shmuel has over two decades of industry experience, including licenses and certifications as a certified mortgage underwriter, residential review appraiser, licensed real estate agent, and direct FHA specialized underwriter. Shmuel provides a uniquely holistic approach to comprehensive real estate and financial matters that goes well beyond any single transaction. Shmuel is an award-winning financier recognized for maximizing the short-term and long-term objectives of his client. As a contributing writer to many local and regional newspapers and publications, his insights have been featured in the media for many topics, including mortgages, personal finance, appraisals, and real estate trends.

I recently had a business trip that required arrangements for air travel with very short notice. Having not traveled much over the past year because of the pandemic, I was a little thrown off at how some airlines were now handling charges. Apparently, these days, “basic” plane tickets do not come with any baggage allowance, both check-in, as well as even over-head. In addition, if you want to reserve a seat in advance, that too is not part of a standard fare anymore. Should you bring luggage onto the plane, they will charge you, and if you wish not to get the worst seat on the plane (like, in front of the bathrooms) – that too costs extra. Also, expect to board the aircraft last unless you pay to upgrade.

Because I was in a rush, initially, the distinction was hard to notice while researching flights on many of the popular search sites. Once you move forward trying to book the flight, they attempt to upgrade you for what one would think is a “normal” ticket. My initial reaction was disgust, but then I realized there’s really nothing to complain about. There it was in big letters, right in front of me, everything that I would and would not get if I merely booked the basic ticket. I didn’t have to follow footnotes or click on links to see the fine print. It was pretty evident and deliberate.

That experience made me think of another time when I was candidly given information and didn’t fully appreciate all the peculiarities. A few months ago, while shopping for a new car lease, I called my usual leasing “guys,” as well as several of the more common leasing companies. To adequately compare, I created a quick spreadsheet to jot down some of the essential items such as the monthly payment, upfront costs, allotted mileage, and any other miscellaneous fees or comments. For the most part, comparing the total prices by factoring in monthly payments plus upfront fees over the life of the lease was pretty straightforward. Some of them tried to sidestep how much would be required upfront, but it eventually came out when I persisted.

One leasing agent, who I was recommended to for the first time, was much more transparent about everything and highly informative. Unfortunately, his total upfront fee was slightly higher than the other company I’ve used several times in the past. He was highly knowledgeable and patient, so I was honest with him and told him my concern. He was very forthcoming with information and details. He started talking about registrations, inspections, plates, delivery, and some other items that he would take care of for the duration of the lease. Aside from the hassle of having to handle some of these items myself, it would cost me hundreds of extra dollars throughout the lease term. I then also realized that over my many years of leasing, I never considered some of these items, which I ended up paying and handling for each car. The numbers add up.

There are many things that we purchase or attain that are easy to “shop” for. The internet has made it very convenient to price-compare and to learn about what to avoid. Sometimes we are so worried about the fine print that we diligently shop and choose the “cheapest” offer without even realizing that we are not actually getting everything we could be, or should be. Sometimes there are items “between the lines” that bring the most significant value of all that we neglect.

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