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Save the Cost of Mortgage Insurance

May 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

During the banking crisis in the Great Recession, certain types of mortgages were unavailable that are once again being offered. Fortunately, the 80-10-10 mortgage is one of those making a reappearance and it can save borrowers a considerable amount of money.

The objective of an 80-10-10 mortgage is to avoid the expense of mortgage insurance for buyers wanting a 90% loan. A buyer can obtain an 80% first mortgage and a 10% second mortgage with a 10% down payment and not be required to have private mortgage insurance.

For example, a buyer could put $30,000 down on a home priced at $300,000 and get an 80% first mortgage without mortgage insurance. The borrower could get a second mortgage, either through the same lender or a third party.

In the example, the 80-10-10 would save a buyer $193.71 per month which can be a considerable amount of money over a ten-year period. The interest rate on the second loan will be higher than the first because there is more risk.

Helping buyers make better choices is a valuable service real estate professionals can provide. Having the right tools and information can make the decisions easier to understand. Using an 80-10-10 calculator you can see what the savings might be for your situation



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An Alternative to Paying Tax Today

April 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The cartoon character Wimpy would say that he’d gladly repay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. Some real estate investors say a similar thing to Uncle Sam to be able to hold on to their proceeds from the sale of an investment and agree to pay the tax later.

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The benefit of a 1031 exchange is that it allows the investor to defer the tax due from the sale into the replacement property. This allows more money to be reinvested. In the example shown, the investor has 27% more to invest now by deferring the tax into the future.

The property to be exchanged must be like-kind which means real estate for real estate. Rental property can be exchanged for other rental or investment property. Personal-use properties like a first or second home are not eligible for exchanges.

There are some critical dates that restrict the validity of the exchange. The investor must identify the replacement property within 45 days of the sale of the relinquished property. The replacement property must be closed within 180 days of the sale of the relinquished property.

* The replacement property must be equal to or greater in value, equity and debt than the one being relinquished.

* All net proceeds must be used in acquiring the replacement property.

There are specific rules involved in constructing a valid tax-deferred exchange. There are three professionals that should be involved: a tax advisor, a real estate professional and a qualified intermediary who will assist in the acquisition and transfer of both the relinquished property and the replacement property. Additional information can be found in IRS Publication 544 <https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p544.pdf> .



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Lower the Rate – Deduct the Interest

April 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Credit card debt in America is back to levels prior to the recession. The average credit card APR is just under 16% according to CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Report.

Homeowners have an advantage over renters when it comes to getting their arms around debt issues.

Basic money management suggests that higher rate debt be replaced with lower rate debt. Credit cards, personal cars, boats, motor vehicles and other personal property, typically have interest rates higher than that of real estate loans.

Borrowing against a person’s home usually provides the lowest rate of financing. Refinancing a home mortgage to take cash out to retire personal debt is one option. Another would be to secure a home equity or HELOC, home equity line of credit.

An alternative advantage of borrowing against one’s home is that the interest may be tax deductible unlike the interest on most personal debt. Qualified mortgage interest includes acquisition debt which can only be used to buy, build or improve a principal residence and up to $100,000 of home equity debt which can be used for any purpose.

Managing money is a critical life skill that people need to master. While the goal may be to become debt-free, paying the least amount of interest possible can be a good first step. Owning a home provides an asset that allows for options not available to tenants. Seek professional advice to determine your best course of action.



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Rentals are IDEAL

April 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Rental homes are the IDEAL investment because they offer a higher rate of return than other investments without the volatility of the stock market. With certificates of deposit and bonds at less than 2%, people need an alternative investment that they understand and with a reasonable amount of control.

In this case, IDEAL is an acronym identifying the advantages of rental properties.

Income from the monthly rent contributes to paying the expenses and a return on the investment.
• Depreciation is a non-cash deduction that shelters income for some investors.
• Equity buildup occurs with amortized mortgages because each payment is composed of interest owed and principal reduction to retire the loan by the end of the term.
• Appreciation is achieved as the value of the property goes up.
• Leverage can increase the return on investment by using borrowed funds to control a larger asset.

These individual benefits working together make rental real estate a good investment for today’s economy. Increased rents, high rental demand, good values and low, non-owner occupied mortgage rates contribute to positive cash flows and very favorable rates of return.

To find out more about how rentals might complement your current investment plans, just give me a call to discuss.



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Important Estate Documents

April 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

An estate plan is a collection of documents to ensure that your wishes are carried out because of death or incapacity to make decisions for yourself. Spouses, minor children, adult children, property and investments can all be factors that should motivate a person to undergo the process.

Will – this document specifies the way a person wants to manage and distribute his/her assets after their death. When a person dies without a will, the laws of the state where the person resided will determine the distribution of the property.

Durable Power of Attorney – this document grants to a designated person the authority to act on behalf of the principal in in legal affairs should the principal become incapacitated. Among other things, this would allow the attorney-in-fact to buy and sell property on the behalf of the principal.

Healthcare Proxy – this document grants that a designated person can legally make healthcare decisions on behalf of the principal when they are incapable of making and executing specific decisions stated in the proxy.

Living Will – this document directs physicians with respect to life-prolonging medical treatments in case they become unable to communicate their decisions.

Hippa Release – this document allows heath care providers to release your health care information to a designated person. Otherwise, they are required by federal law to protect the privacy of your health information.

Letter of Instruction – This document contains information and instructions about a person’s wishes upon death. It is intended to offer details on whom to contact and where to find important documents about personal and financial matters.

Requirements of these documents can vary from state to state and legal advice should be obtained. If you need a current estimate of value on real estate that may be involved, usually a price opinion from a licensed real estate professional will suffice. It would be my privilege to assist you with this at no cost or obligation.



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Before You Pay Cash for a Home

March 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The National Association of REALTORS® reports in its 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers that 12% of all buyers paid cash for their home.

Before paying cash for a home, a buyer should decide if they might put a loan on the home in the near future. It may affect the ability to deduct the interest on a mortgage placed on the home at a later date.

Homeowners can currently deduct the interest on up to $1 million of acquisition debt which are the borrowed funds used to buy, build or improve a home. Paying cash for a home establishes acquisition debt at zero. The only deductible interest to the owner would be home equity debt which is limited to $100,000 over acquisition debt.

Paying cash certainly seems like a simple decision but it may limit a homeowner’s ability to deduct interest on a future mortgage. You can get more information about this from IRS Publication 936 or from your tax professional.



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Not Available for All Buyers

March 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Lenders regularly publish mortgage rates but they may not be available for all buyers.

Imagine that the mortgage payment based on an advertised rate influenced a buyer to make an offer on a home. After negotiating a binding contract, this buyer makes a loan application and finds out that for any number of possible reasons, that rate isn’t available.

Even if the person does financially qualify for a loan at a higher interest rate, it will not be the payment that the buyer expected when the contract was negotiated.

Lenders evaluate several factors such as the borrower’s credit score, debt-to-income and loan-to-value ratios. These variables are used to assess the risk associated with the repayment of the loan.

While mortgage money is a commodity, it isn’t priced the same way items are that involve cash for goods. The lender puts up the money today based on a promise from the borrower to repay over a long term, possibly up to thirty years.

The simple solution to avoid surprises such as the one described here is to get pre-approved at the beginning of the home search process. Since pre-qualification does not mean the same thing to all lenders, call if you’d like a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional



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What Would You Give?

March 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Yogi Berra said he’d give his right arm to be ambidextrous. While most first-time home buyers are not going to that extreme, it is interesting to see what sacrifices are being made according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

• 43% – cut spending on luxury or non-essential items
• 34% – cut spending on entertainment
• 27% – cut spending on clothes
• 14% – canceled vacation plans
9% – earned extra income through a second job
• 7% – sold or decided not to purchase a vehicle
• 44% – did not need to make any sacrifices

Forty-percent of first-time buyers experienced some difficulty during the mortgage application and approval process. Single, male buyers expressed a higher incidence of difficulty than single females and married or unmarried couples.

Pre-approval from a qualified mortgage lender before the home search process begins is still considered the best advice for all buyers who will purchase with a mortgage. Your real estate professional can make recommendations for a loan officer that could help you avoid unnecessary aggravations.



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Mortgage Loans from Relatives

February 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Occasionally, when dealing with close relatives who might also become heirs, signing a note and handling the paperwork properly may seem like a needless effort but it could mean the difference in being able to take a legitimate interest deduction.

Home mortgage interest is deductible only if the loan is a secured debt which involves the buyer signing an instrument like a mortgage or deed of trust that makes the ownership of the home security for the debt. That instrument must then be recorded or otherwise perfected according to state or local law and the home, in case of default, must be able to satisfy the debt.

In a family situation, a parent, grandparent or other relative may decide to loan a buyer the money to purchase a home because they have it available and it isn’t earning much in certificates of deposit. They offer to loan it for a rate equal to what a conventional lender is charging but without the fees.

While it may appear to be a win-win situation, there could be problems if things are not done correctly. Even if the borrower makes the payments, they are not entitled to an interest deduction unless three criteria are met: 1) sign a debt instrument specifying the terms 2) securing and record the debt properly and 3) the home is sufficient collateral for the loan.

It would be prudent to consult with an attorney before you sign the final settlement papers to be comfortable that both buyer and the lender-relative are complying with IRS regulations. For more information, see IRS Publication 936 – Home Mortgage Interest.



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Boomers Are Staying In-Place

February 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

There seems to have been an accepted progression for homeowners going from starter home, to gradually moving into one’s dream home, then, downsizing after becoming an empty nester and finally, into a retirement home. However, Marianne Cusato’s 2016 Aging-in-Place Report indicates that many older Americans don’t plan on following that pattern.

61% of homeowners above the age of 55 intend on staying in their homes indefinitely. 2/3 of them believe that the home’s layout will serve their needs without having to make aging-related improvements.

Some of the reasons being cited for staying in place are:
• 66% say their home is conveniently located
• 38% say they live close to their family
• 68% say they feel independent in their home
• 54% say they are familiar with their neighborhood
• 66% say the feel safe in their home

Typical renovations that might be considered for their current home are things like grab bars in the tub or shower, shower seats, taller toilets, handheld showerheads and additional handrails on stairways.

It seems that the report’s conclusion is that regardless of a homeowner’s age, they want to thrive in their home. The same emotional reasons that causes a person to want to buy a home are the things that cause them to hold onto them if is practical.



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Attracting Buyers

January 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

There is a common body of knowledge among real estate professionals that indicates that the longer a home is on the market, the lower the price will be. Many sellers discount this belief in the beginning because they feel confident their home will sell quickly.

Lowering the price is the most obvious thing that can be done to encourage buyers but it might be good to look at what builders do. Builders offer a variety of incentives such as upgrades, seller-paid closing costs, interest rate buy downs, washers, dryers, refrigerators or big screen TVs.

Interestingly, much of the resale market doesn’t employ these techniques. According to the latest NAR Home Buyers and Sellers Profile, 64% of sellers did not offer any incentives at all.

21% of sellers offer a home warranty. 16% of sellers offered assistance with closing costs and 6% offered credit toward remodeling or repairs.

The attached chart indicates that while 80% of sellers were not willing to offer incentives in the beginning of their marketing period, as weeks passes and their home hasn’t sold, closer to half did add incentives.

The ideal outcome is to maximize proceeds in the shortest time possible with the fewest unexpected issues. This involves having a firm understanding of current, local market conditions and crafting a marketing plan that will insure results.

There is so much at stake, the value of a trusted real estate professional is essential.



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Rent or Buy – You Pay for the House You Occupy

January 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The ironic thing about people who think they can’t afford to buy a home for themselves, end up buying the home for their landlord. There are several facts that support this notion.

Mortgages, whether held by an owner-occupant or an investor, are usually amortized so that each payment reduces the principal amount owed so that the loan will be repaid totally over the term. A tenant is inadvertently retiring the landlord’s mortgage with his monthly rent.

In most cases, the mortgage payment including taxes and insurance will be lower than the rent tenants are paying. Some experts are saying that we may never again experience the incredibly low mortgage interest rates currently available.

Renting precludes a person from enjoying the advantage a home has as a leveraged investment. When the borrowed funds cost less than the investment is returning, the rate of return on the down payment grows much faster. As you can see from the chart, a 2% appreciation on a home could result in big returns on the down payment. In most cases, there are very few or no alternative investments that offer homeowners similar returns.

Even if a buyer agrees with all of these things but doesn’t have the down payment or cannot qualify for a loan, they still need to investigate further. To find out exactly what types of loans are available and the specific down payment required which can be a whole lot less than 20%, they need to consult with an experienced, trusted loan professional (an Internet lender or a “BIG” bank may not be the best choice.) Call for a recommendation.



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Facts or Myths

January 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

• “It’s impossible to get low down payment loans.” – FACT! FHA down payments are 3.5% and VA is 0%. In some areas, there may be some 0% down payment USDA loans available. FNMA and Freddie Mac have 3% down payment programs.

• “It takes perfect credit to get a loan.” – FACT! There is a relationship of better rates to better credit but many issues on a credit report can be explained or corrected. The way to know for sure is to speak to a reliable lender.

• “If I’ve had a bankruptcy or foreclosure, I can’t qualify.” – FACT! Credit history following a bankruptcy or foreclosure is very important and there can be extenuating circumstances. It only takes a few moments with a reliable lending professional to find out if your individual situation will allow you to qualify for a new mortgage.
• “Getting pre-approved is expensive.” – FACT! Usually, the only expense to getting pre-approved is the cost of the credit report which could be around $35. The advantage is that you will know that you qualify for a particular mortgage amount.
• “I should wait to qualify until I find a home.” – FACT! It can take weeks to qualify for a mortgage especially if there are issues that need to be corrected. The best interest rates are only available for the highest credit scores. It is to your advantage to start the qualifying process early in your home search.
• “All lenders are the same.” – FACT! Reliable lending professionals will explain the entire process before collecting fees, quote fees up-front, have competitive products, do what is necessary to get the loan approved and close at the locked rate and terms. Ask for recommendations from recent borrowers.
• “Adjustable Rate Mortgages are more expensive than fixed rate mortgages.” – FACT! Adjustable Rate Mortgages can be less expensive than fixed rate mortgages if the buyer’s circumstances warrant it. If a buyer is only going to be in a home for a few years before selling, it can be determined if an ARM loan will result in the lowest way to finance the property. There are many variables and you need to be aware of them before deciding which type of loan to finance your home purchase.

Buyers and Sellers need solid information to make good decisions. Call us with your questions or to get a recommendation of a reliable lender who can give you the real facts.



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This is going to be the year

December 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Every year, it seems like the same things are on the list but this could be the year you really do invest in a rental home.

Rents are climbing, values are solid and mortgage rates are still low for non-owner occupied properties. A $150,000 home with 20% down payments can easily have a $300 to $500 monthly cash flow after paying all of the expenses.

There are lots of strategies that can be successful but a tried and true formula is to invest in below average price range homes in predominantly owner-occupied neighborhoods. These properties will appeal to the broadest range of tenants and buyers when you’re ready to sell.

Single family homes offer an opportunity to borrow high loan-to-value mortgages at fixed rates for long terms on appreciating assets with tax advantages and reasonable control.



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What a Difference 50 years Makes

December 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

In 1966, a gallon of gas was $0.32 and today, it is $2.49. A dozen eggs were $0.60 but they’ve only doubled to $1.33. A gallon of milk was $0.99 and today, it costs $3.98. You could send a letter for five cents and now, it costs forty-seven cents.

The average cost of a new car in 1966 was $3,500 and today, it will cost $33,560. New cars have more features than the earlier models but they’re still ten times more expensive. The median price of a new home was $21,700 and now, is $304,500.

Interestingly, mortgage rates are actually lower today at 4-4.5% than they were fifty years ago when they were just under 7%. The rates have been low for long enough that many people have been lulled into believing that they are not going to go up.

Yes, rates are a little higher but in perspective, they’re still a bargain. Years from now, will you be remembering and comparing what they were back when?



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Can 0.5% Really Equal 5%?

December 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Since the election, rates have started going up and it will have a direct effect on the cost of housing. There is a rule of thumb that a ½% change in interest is approximately equal to 5% change in price.

As the interest rates go up, it will cost you more to live in the very same home or to keep the payment the same, you’ll have to buy a lower priced home.

Before rates rise too much may be the best time to buy a home whether you’re going to use it for your principal residence or a rental property. Low interest rates and lower prices make housing more affordable.



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Time May Be Running Out

December 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

During the Great Recession, some homeowners elected to rent their home rather than sell it for less than it was worth.

IRS tax code allows for a temporary rental of a principal residence without losing the exclusion of capital gain based on some specific time limits. During the five year period ending on the date of the sale, the taxpayer must have:

• Owned the home for at least two years
• Lived in the home as their main home for at least two years
• Ownership and use do not have to be continuous nor occur at the same time

If a home has been rented for more than three years, the owner will not have lived in it for two of the last five years. So the challenge for homeowners with gain in a rented principal residence that they don’t want to have to recognize is to sell and close the transaction prior to the crucial date.

Assume a person was selling a property which had been rented for 2 ½ years but had previously been their home for over two years. To qualify for the exclusion of capital gain, the home needs to be ready to sell, priced correctly, sold and closed within six months.

All of the gain may not qualify for the exclusion if depreciation has been taken for the period that it was rented. Depreciation is recaptured at a 25% tax rate.

A $200,000 gain in a home could have a $30,000 tax liability. Minimizing or eliminating unnecessary taxes is a legitimate concern and timing is important.

Selling a home for the most money is one thing; maximizing your proceeds is another. For more information, see IRS publication 523 and an example on the IRS website and consult a tax professional.



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It Isn’t Final Until It’s Funded

December 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Mortgage approval isn’t final until it’s funded. Things can change prior to the loan being closed that can affect a pre-approval such as changes in the borrowers’ financial situation or possibly, factors beyond their control like interest rate changes.

Good advice to buyers is to do nothing that can affect your credit report until the loan closes. Opening new credit cards, taking on new debt for a car or furniture or changing jobs could affect the lender’s decision if they believe you may no longer be able to repay the loan.

The benefits of buyer’s pre-approval are definitive: it saves time, money and removes the uncertainty of knowing whether the buyer is qualified. The direct benefits include:
• Amount the buyer can borrow – decreases as interest rates rise
• Looking at “Right” homes – price, size, amenities, location
• Find the best loan – rate, term, type
• Uncover credit issues early – time to cure possible problems
• Bargaining power – price, terms, & timing
• Close quicker – verifications have been made

It is a very common practice for mortgage lenders to require income and bank verifications and to re-run the borrowers’ credit one final time just prior to closing. Mortgage approval isn’t final until it’s funded.



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Gift or Inheritance – Does It Matter?

November 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A person called into a radio talk program with a situation that was troubling to the caller and disturbing based on the potential tax liability that may have been avoided.

The caller’s elderly father had deeded his home to his daughter a few years earlier because in his mind, his daughter was going to get the home eventually and this would be one less thing to be taken care of after his death. The daughter didn’t really care because the father was going to continue to live in the home and take care of it so that it would be no expense to her.

Obviously, unknown to either the father or the daughter, transferring the title of a home from one person to another could have significant tax implications. In this case, when the father “gave” the home to his daughter, he also gave her the basis in the home which is basically what he paid for it. If she sells the home in the future, the gain will be the difference in the net sales price and her father’s basis which could be considerably higher than had she inherited it.

If the home was purchased for $75,000 and worth $250,000 at the time of transfer, there is a possible gain of $175,000. However, when a person inherits property, the basis is “stepped-up” to fair market value at the time of the decedent’s death. If the adult child had inherited the property, at the time of the parent’s death, their new basis would be $250,000 or the fair market value at the time of death and the possible gain would be zero.

In most cases, there are less tax consequences with inheritance than with a gift. There are other factors that may come into play but being aware that there is a difference between a gift and inheritance is certainly an important warning flag that would indicate that expert tax advice should be sought before any steps are taken.



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It’s the Principal of the Thing

November 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Most people think they’ll have a house payment and a car payment for the rest of their lives but it doesn’t have to be with a plan and a little discipline. The plan is to make additional principal contributions to a fixed rate mortgage to shorten the term and save tens of thousands in interest.

If a person were to make an additional $100 payment each month applied to principal on a $175,000 mortgage, it would shorten the loan by five years six months. If the person were to make $200 a month additional payments, it would shorten the loan by 9 years. $459 additional payment would shorten it to 15 years.

If a person does make a decision to regularly pre-pay their mortgage, it will be their responsibility to verify that the lender is applying the money to the principal each time as opposed to being placed in the reserve account for taxes and insurance.

In today’s market, a savings account pays around 0.5% or less. Even with the low mortgage rates available, there is still a considerable savings. People who might need the funds in the near future should carefully consider this option due to the difficulty to access equity easily from one’s home.

Make your own projections using the Equity Accelerator.



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A Cost to Consider

November 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Homeownership, part of the American Dream: a home of your own where you can feel safe, raise your family, share with your friends and enjoy life. The benefits are easily recognizable but maintenance is just a real and should be considered.

Property taxes and insurance are two of the largest expenses homeowners have aside from their mortgage interest. But, as any homeowner knows, there will be occasional expenses for repairing toilets, faucets, windows and other things. There are also the significantly larger expenses that arise like replacing a water heater or HVAC unit. And don’t overlook the periodic maintenance like painting or floor coverings.

Financial experts suggest that homeowners save one to four percent of the home’s value per year for repairs and maintenance. Two to eight thousand dollars a year may sound like more than you’ll need but the cost of an air conditioning unit can easily be $6,000.

Some homeowners purchase home warranties to avoid the unexpected costs. An annual premium instead of an unexpected large expenditure. Coverage varies from company to company and are not intended to cover existing conditions.

The alternative to not saving for these anticipated expenditures means that a homeowner might have to put it on a credit card at a very high interest rate or get a home improvement loan. Appreciation is a distinct benefit of home ownership and deferred maintenance can limit the value as well as lengthen the market time when it sells.



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Down Payment: FOUND!

October 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Saving the down payment may be unnecessarily keeping would-be buyers from getting into a home. They may be unaware that the funds might be available.

The NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reports that 81% of first-time buyers got all or part of their down payment from savings. Less than 4% said that all or part of the down payment came from a withdrawal in their IRA and 8% from their 401(k) or pension fund.

Traditional IRAs have a provision for first-time buyers which include anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the previous two years. A person and their spouse, if married, can each withdraw up to $10,000 from their traditional IRA for a first-time home purchase without incurring the 10% early-withdrawal penalty. However, they will have to recognize the withdrawal as income in that tax year. For more information, go to IRS.gov.

Allowable withdrawals from traditional IRAs can be from yourself and your spouse; your or your spouse’s child; your or your spouse’s grandchild or your or your spouse’s parent or ancestor.

Roth IRA owners can withdraw their contributions tax-free and penalty-free at any age for any reason because the contributions were made with post-tax income. After age 59 ½, earnings may be withdrawn as long as the Roth IRA have been in existence for at least five years.

Up to half of the balance of a 401(k) or $50,000, whichever is less, can be borrowed by the owner at any age for any reason without tax or penalty assuming the employer permits it. There can be specific rules for loans from a 401(k) that would determine the repayment; interest is usually charged but goes back into the owner’s account. You can consult with your HR department to find out the specifics.

A risk in borrowing against a 401(k) comes if your employment ends before the loan has been repaid. The loan may have to be repaid as soon as 60 days to keep the loan from being considered a withdrawal and subject to tax and penalty. Even if you continue with the same employer, failure to repay the loan could be considered a withdrawal also.

Your tax professional can provide you specific information on how making a withdrawal from your retirement program might affect you. Additional information can be found on www.IRS.gov.



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It’s not far, if you know the way

October 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“It’s not far, if you know the way.” What this expression implies is that you could have a long way to go if you don’t know where you’re going or how to get there. Just like reading a map, there are some definite steps that will improve your success in buying a home in today’s market.

• Know your credit score – the best mortgage rates are available to borrowers with the highest scores. Unless you know what your credit score is at all three major credit bureaus, you don’t really know what rate you’ll have to pay.
• Clean up your credit – it is estimated that about 90% of credit reports have errors. Some are not serious but others could affect a borrower from getting the loan they want. It is your responsibility to know what is on your different reports and correct them if possible. You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report each year from Experian, Trans Union and Equifax.
• Get pre-approved – Taking the time to make a loan application with a qualified lender even before you start looking at homes will provide peace of mind, make sure that you are looking at the “right” homes and may help you negotiate the best price on the home you select.
• Do your homework – when you find the home that meets your needs and desires, get the home inspected and research the tax assessments, school ratings, crime activity, possible zoning changes and comparable sales in the area.

Call for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional and an inspector.



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Sale of Home by Surviving Spouse

October 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Special consideration is made by IRS for the sale of a jointly-owned principal residence after the death of a spouse. Surviving spouse may qualify to exclude up to $500,000 of gain instead of the $250,000 exclusion for single people if certain requirements are met.

• The sale needs to take place no more than two years after the date of death of the spouse.
• Surviving spouse must not have remarried as of the sale date.
• The home must have been used as a principal residence for two of the last five years prior to the death.
• The home must have been owned for two of the last five years prior to the death.
• Survivor can count any time when spouse owned the home as time they owned it and any time the home was the spouse’s residence as time when it was their residence.
• Neither spouse may have excluded gain from the sale of another principal residence during the last two years prior to the death.

If you have been widowed in the last two years and have substantial gain in your principal residence, it would be worth investigating the possibilities. Time is a critical factor in qualification. Contact your tax professional for advice about your specific situation. Contact me to find out what your home is worth in today’s market. See IRS Publication 523 – surviving spouse.



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Rental Real Estate is Preferred Choice

October 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Real estate is the overwhelming preferred choice by Americans as identified in a recent survey. With the Dow Jones industrial average reaching record highs, it might be expected that the stock market would be the favored choice but that wasn’t the outcome.

Analysis of the report suggests that the popularity for houses could be that they are tangible assets that you can see where your money is actually invested compared to stocks and bonds which tend to be unclear where the money is invested.

There are several distinct advantages of homes as investments over other popular alternatives.
1. High loan-to-value mortgages available
2. At fixed interest rates
3. For long periods of time
4. On appreciating assets
5. With definite tax advantages
6. And reasonable control.

Another advantage of rental homes is that most people are comfortable with them. It is the same type of property that they live in but used as a rental. They have a tendency to understand the key components such as value, appreciation, rent, maintenance and financing.



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When the rate goes up

October 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s not “if” the rate goes up but “when” the rate goes up; it could make a big difference for some buyers. Freddie Mac predicts that mortgage rates will be at 4.5% a year from now.

If buyers can afford a home with higher interest rates, it means higher payments. Higher payments might mean they won’t have the money to spend on other things like furniture or improvements to the home or an unrelated purchase like a new car.

When the rate moves 0.50% on a $250,000, the payment goes up by $70.66 a month. If it moves 1.00%, the payment goes up by $143.74 per month, each and every month for the entire term of the mortgage which means paying over $50,000 more for the house.

The question facing every borrower in this situation is “How will you feel about having to pay more to live in the same house because you were not ready to commit?”

Then, there’s the borrower who is absolutely maxed out as to what they can qualify for or sometimes, it is a borrower who just refuses to pay a higher payment. When that’s the case, the buyer has to make a larger down payment. In the same example, a 0.50% increase in rate would require $14,873 more in down payment. That could make the purchase impossible or require the buyer to buy a lesser price home that will not have the same amenities.

Mortgage rates have been low for so long that some people think that is what they should be. There are some economists who believe that the economy will not be strong again until mortgage rates are in the 7% range.

To see how this type of scenario might affect you, go to the If the Rate Goes Up calculator.



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Waiting to Buy…WHY?

September 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Some people wait to buy a home until they have 20% down payment to avoid paying the mortgage insurance which is required by lenders when the loan-to-value ratio is greater than 80%, with the exception of VA loans.

To illustrate a typical situation, let’s assume that buyers have $10,000 for a down payment on a $200,000 home. They could purchase it today with a 95% loan or save another $30,000 in order to get an 80% loan without mortgage insurance.

If it took three years to save the additional down payment, the $200,000 home at 3% appreciation would cost $218,545. A 20% down payment on the increased sales price would be $43,709, less the $10,000 the buyers currently have leaves them $33,709 to save which would amount to $936.36 a month. They would secure a $174,836 mortgage at the then current mortgage rates, which in all likelihood, will be higher than today’s rates.

The alternative is for the buyer to purchase the home today with a 95% loan at today’s low interest rates plus approximately $85 a month for mortgage insurance depending on their credit score. At the end of three years, the unpaid balance would be $179,548. Assuming the home will be worth the same $218,545, the buyer’s equity would be almost $39,000. To reduce the mortgage to the same amount as the first example, the buyer would need to make an additional $125 a month principal contribution above the normal payment. Then, the mortgage would have an unpaid balance at the end of three years of $174,775.

When there is sufficient equity in the home, the mortgage insurance is no longer required. Some lenders may drop the mortgage insurance requirement with an appraisal to provide proof. In other situations, it may require refinancing to eliminate the insurance. Call to discuss options that may be available to you.



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Dust-Free Home

September 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Having a dust-free home isn’t difficult, but it takes a serious commitment and a housekeeping strategy that addresses the dust and its causes. Whether your motive is cleanliness or to eliminate the cause of some allergies and asthma symptoms, it will be worth it.

• Try to dust your home at least twice a week. Dust the tallest items and work your way down. Dust picture frames, blinds, baseboards and anything that stands out from the wall.
• Feather dusters can spread more dust than they collect compared to microfiber cloths that attracts dust because they have an electrostatic charge.
• Filters on heating and air-conditioning systems should be changed often not only to remove dust from the air but to increase the efficiency of the units themselves. Special HEPA filters can improve the overall indoor air quality.
• Frequently changing the bag or emptying the container in your vacuum is helpful in eliminating dust.
• Vacuum the floors at least once a week. Vacuum under furniture and periodically, move appliances to clean behind and underneath. Use the proper attachments to vacuum upholstered furniture and under cushions.
• Eliminate dust magnets like carpet, heavy drapes and upholstered furniture. Consider hard surface flooring like wood or tile instead of carpet.
• Keep windows closed to keep dust out.
• Clean your pillows and drapes.
• Damp mopping and dusting with plain water helps hold the dust and is environmentally friendly.
• A humidifier can eliminate static electricity which holds dust.
• Air purifiers circulate are and capture dust and other pollutants.



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Getting to Value

September 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Fair market value is the price that real estate would sell for on the open market without any unusual forces being involved. The definition is relatively simple but there certainly different methods of determining what it is.

A homeowner could order an appraisal before they put their home on the market but would incur the expense of an appraisal and more likely than not, it won’t or can’t be used by the buyer or their lender. The advantage is that an appraisal is a professional approach by a disinterested party to establish value.

Licensed appraisers use three approaches to value: the market data, the replacement cost and the income approach. The appraiser can put more weight on one approach than another based on his/her assessment of what would be appropriate.

The replacement cost looks at what it would cost to rebuild the property today less the depreciation it has experienced by age and wear and tear plus the value of the lot.

The income approach uses a capitalization rate based on the net operating income of a property to determine value. It is more applicable to commercial properties than it is for homes used by homeowners and not rented.

The market data approach relies on recent sales of similar properties near the subject. The appraiser will make monetary adjustments for differences in the comparables that are used to create a more accurate comparison.

Real estate agents use a similar approach to determine fair market value by performing a Competitive Market Analysis, CMA. Like the market data approach of an appraisal, it looks at recent sales of similar properties, it also considers properties currently for sale and what homes were unsuccessful in their attempt to sell. This approach is sensitive to supply and demand and may be more reactive to rapidly rising or declining markets.

Both appraisals and CMAs have a distinct advantage because of the personal opinion as a professional compared to online website estimates using raw data and mathematical formulas. Regardless of which method is used, it is an estimate. Obviously, some estimates are more accurate based on the experience of the person making the estimate. A price is placed on the property by the seller but value is ultimately determined by the buyer when a final sale is achieved.



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Pay Off Your Mortgage?

August 31, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Becoming debt free is as much a part of the American Dream as owning a home but there certainly can be conflicting circumstances that make the decision to pay off your mortgage early unclear.

The advantages of paying off debt early is increased cash flow, less interest paid and a higher credit score. The disadvantages are lower cash flow available as discretionary funds for meals, entertainment and other things. If the ultimate goal is financial security, is it worth the intermediate sacrifice?

Whether you pay off your mortgage early is a personal decision that may be right for one person and not for another. Consider the following before you get started:

Reasons you should
• Peace of mind knowing that you don’t have a mortgage
• You’ll save interest regardless of how low your mortgage rate is
• Lowering your housing costs before you retire

Reasons you shouldn’t
• You can invest at a higher rate than your mortgage
• You have other debt at a higher rate than your mortgage that needs to be paid off
• You might need the money in the future and want to remain liquid
• You might not qualify for a mortgage currently
• You should pay off other debt with higher interest rates
• Your employer has a matching retirement plan that would benefit you more
• You have more urgent financial needs like emergency fund, life, health and disability insurance
• You expect high inflation and the value of your mortgage debt will decrease

Use this Mortgage Accelerator to determine how quick you can pay off your mortgage.



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Two Negotiations

August 31, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

There are two negotiation periods in some home sales. The primary negotiation takes place when the contract is agreed upon that includes the price, closing and possession. Buyers and sellers alike feel relieved once this first round has resulted in an agreement but there may be more negotiations to come if there are contingencies for financing, inspections or other things.

The purpose of an inspection is for the buyer to receive an objective evaluation about the condition of the home and its components to identify existing defects and potential problems. The expense for inspections can be several hundred dollars and it’s reasonable for buyers to not want to spend the money before they find out if they can come to terms with the seller. From a different perspective, sellers want to know quickly if the buyer is going to reject the home due to the inspections.

Sometimes, buyers will expect sellers to make all of the repairs listed on the report and this is where the second round of negotiations begins. If the seller refuses, the negotiations can go back and forth until the other party accepts the offer on the table or the contract falls apart.

When purchasing a new home from a builder, it is expected for everything to be in working order; after all, it is new. However, it is reasonable to expect that existing homes, that are not new, have a different standard. While it’s understandable that buyers would want to be aware about major items that are not in “working order”, normal wear and tear of components based on its age should be expected.

In a highly competitive seller’s market, buyers might do whatever they can to get their contract accepted, realizing that there is another place to negotiate when they’re not competing with other buyers’ offers to purchase.

For this to be a WIN-WIN negotiation, both seller and buyer must feel good about the transaction. Neither party should feel that they have been taken advantage of.



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Ready for Retirement?

August 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s surprising to realize that most people spend more time planning their next vacation or cell phone purchase than they do on their own retirement. Let’s look at a hypothetical situation where you have $35,000 to invest for your retirement in 15 years. Have you compared where you might have the best opportunity?

The safest place to put it might be a certificate of deposit because it’s insured but unfortunately, rates would be less than 2%. The value would grow to $47,233.26 at the end of the 15 year holding period.

Investing in a mutual fund has more risk but also a greater opportunity to earn a higher rate of return. An estimated 7% return would project an accumulated value of $99,713.14.

Using the $35,000 for a 20% down payment and closing costs on a $150,000 rental home could realize much higher proceeds. Using a familiar investment analysis spreadsheet, the $35,000 could grow to a future wealth position of $153,302. This analysis considers leverage, 3% appreciation, re-investing cash flows, 7% sales expenses and paying applicable taxes which the previous examples do not.

The rate of return on these three examples are 2% for the CD, 7% for the mutual fund and a comparable 14.19% return on the rental. As the rate of return increases on investments, additional risk is reasonable.

Most people are much more familiar with homes than they are with mutual funds, bonds and other similar investments. The same REALTOR® who helped you with your home can help you invest in a rental home.



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Avoid Wasting Time

August 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“If you waste my time, don’t expect me to hang out with you very long.” This could have been said by a buyer or seller or a real estate agent. Time is valuable and no one wants to waste their time.

Most people can’t put their lives on-hold while they’re trying to buy or sell a home. Whether they have a family, a couple or single, life continues and the time constraints of moving can become burdensome.

Your agent is committed to helping you save time while making the experience memorable. They know the process and the potential problem areas and can help you move through them.

To preserve your time and your agent’s, please consider the following:
• If your plans to buy or sell change, let your agent know.
• Be on time for appointments or if it is necessary, cancel them with as much notice as possible.
• Get pre-approved through a trusted mortgage professional.
• Cooperate with your loan professional by providing all requested documentation.
• Don’t wander into builder or REALTOR® open houses without your agent. If you find yourself in that situation, immediately notify them that you have an agent.
• Only talk to the other party through your agent until after closing.

Your agent is working to help you meet your goals. Things work best when it’s like a partnership where each party mutually respects the other and their resources including their time.



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Picture This!

August 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Listing photos may be one of the most important marketing efforts that lead to a potential buyer.

Nearly, all buyers use the Internet during the home search process. They usually start looking at homes online before they contact an agent. It’s far more efficient to screen properties by looking at the pictures that have been posted than to make appointments with each homeowner, drive all over town and waste a lot of time looking at homes that would never meet a buyer’s criteria.

• There needs to be enough pictures of a property to adequately represent the home; most websites allow for at least 24 and more may be needed if it is a large home.
• Take horizontal shots to accommodate the format of most listing websites.
• The pictures should be well-lit so that it is easy to see all of the features of the room. Natural light is preferred over the limitations of flash.
• They should be taken with a wide-angle lens so that you can see the majority of the room in one picture.
• Large rooms can be taken from different angles to give the buyers a different perspective.
• Rooms should be set if not staged prior to taking the pictures so they will give the buyer an idea of what the room might look like with their own things in it.
• Arrange pictures in website to help buyers visualize the floorplan as if walking through it.



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How Will It Feel?

August 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It has been said that change is the only constant. Most of the financial experts have been expecting interest rates to increase along with home prices. While homes, in most markets, have definitely seen increases over the past five years, the mortgage rates today are actually lower than they were a year ago.

If the interest rates were to increase by 1% over the next year while homes appreciated at 6% during the same time frame, a $250,000 home would go up by $15,000 and the payment would be $211.53 more each month for as long as the owner had the mortgage. The increased payments alone would amount to $17,769 for the next seven years.

When facing a decision to postpone a purchase for a year, a legitimate question to ask oneself would be: “how will it feel to have to pay more to live in basically the same home a year from now?”

It is easy to understand that if the price of a $250,000 home goes up by 6%, it increases the price by $15,000. A slightly more difficult concept to realize is that if the interest rate were to go up by ½%, it is approximately equal to a 5% increase in price. A 1% increase in mortgage rates would approximately equal a 10% change in price. This means that if a home goes up in price by 6% and the interest rate goes up by 1%, it is equivalent to the price of the home going up by a little more than 16%.

Use the Cost of Waiting to Buy calculator to estimate what it might cost to wait to purchase based on your own estimates of what interest rates and prices will do in the next year.



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Increase The Chance Of Your Offer Being Accepted

July 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

While all contracts must have certain required elements, mutual assent, consideration, capacity and legality, there are some things that increase its chance of being accepted.

The seller generally wants the highest possible price with the fewest inconveniences in the shortest period of time. In the same way, the buyer generally wants the lowest possible price with the fewest inconveniences in the shortest period of time.

The perspective of the principal can change depending on how these different parts of an agreement are structured.
• Offer Price – While the price of the home seems to be the major point of contention in a home negotiation, the seller’s net proceeds and the buyer’s mortgage payment may actually be more critical.
• Financing – 86% of buyers financed their recent home purchase as opposed to the 14% who paid cash. Some financing has higher fees than other types of financing and in some instances, sellers must pay the additional charges on behalf of the buyer.
• Concessions ? Seller-paid closing costs – paying all or part of a buyer’s closing cost requires less cash outlay for the purchaser and makes it easier or more appealing for them to buy the home.
? Seller-paid buydown – prepaying interest to the lender on behalf of the buyer gives them lower payments for the first one, two or three years even though they must qualify at the note rate of the fixed-rate mortgage.
? Personal property – seller may agree to include existing or new personal property like washer, dryer or refrigerator.
? Improvements – seller may agree to make modifications to the existing condition of the home like floor covering, countertops, appliances, painting or other things.

• Earnest Money – more money gives the seller a sense that the transaction is more likely to close while putting the least amount at risk is generally, more appealing to the buyer.
• Timing – depending on which party is more flexible, sometimes an earlier or later closing or a position on occupancy can be an offsetting consideration that can balance the differing terms.
• Contingencies or lack thereof – requirements that must be satisfied before the contract can be closed.

The training and experience of a skilled negotiator can benefit both buyers and sellers to save time, avoid difficulties and bring all parties to an agreement. Your real estate professional should be able to help you structure a good offer and negotiate a win-win situation.



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The Right Questions are Key

July 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Asking the right questions will lead to the answers that help you determine which agent to use for one of the largest investments that most people make…the purchase or sale of their home.

Rudyard Kipling wrote the verse “I keep six serving men, they taught me all I knew; their names were what and why and when and how and where and who.” Prefacing your questions with one of these words can help you get the information you need to make a good decision about the REALTOR® you use.
• How long have you been selling homes and is this your full-time job?
• What designations or other credentials do you have?
• How many homes did you and your company sell last year?
• What is your average market time compared to MLS and your top competitors?
• What is your sales price to list price ratio?
• When will you report to me on the progress of my transaction?
• Who can you recommend for service providers like mortgage, inspections, repairs and maintenance?
• Why do you want to work with me?
• Where are the biggest opportunities to expose my home to the largest market?

Finding the right person to represent you is a little like the person who ordered a lobster dinner at a restaurant. When the waiter brought out the meal, the lobster only had one claw. The customer asked why it only had one claw and the waiter said: “I don’t know; I guess it was in a fight.” The customer looked at him and said: “then, bring me the lobster who won.”



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Opportunity Can Disappear

July 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

In the last few years, some people who were unable to sell their homes, rented them instead. The market has improved in most places and the home may easily sell now and possibly, for a higher price.

Even though the opportunity to sell in the near future might not change, there could be another opportunity that could quickly disappear for some homeowners.

Most homeowners are aware that there is a capital gain exclusion on the profits of a principal residence of up to $250,000 for single taxpayers and $500,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly. The rule requires that you must own and use the home as your principal residence for two out of the last five years.

A homeowner can rent their home for up to three years and still be eligible for the exclusion. As an example, if they had owned and lived in it for two years and then rented it for two and a half years, they would need to sell and close the transaction before the remaining six months expired.

If there was a $200,000 profit in the home that didn’t qualify for the exclusion, a 15% long-term capital gain tax of $30,000 could become due depending on the tax bracket of the owner. With some careful planning, the tax could be avoided. Awareness of the time frames and the right team of tax and real estate professionals could save a considerable amount of the homeowner’s equity.



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Retirement Funds for Home Purchase

July 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Retirement Funds for Home Purchase

For the person who has good credit and income but not enough money for the down payment on a home, their qualified retirement program could offer them some help. The rules are different depending on whether it is a 401(k), a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA.

Up to half of the balance of a 401(k) or $50,000, whichever is less, can be borrowed by the owner at any age for any reason without tax or penalty assuming the employer permits it. There can be specific rules for loans from 401ks that would determine the repayment; interest is usually charged but goes back into the owner’s account. You can consult with your HR department to find out the specifics.

A risk in borrowing against a 401(k) comes if your employment ends before the loan has been repaid. The loan may have to be repaid with as soon as 60 days to keep the loan from being considered a withdrawal and subject to tax and penalty. Even if you continue with the same employer, failure to repay the loan could be considered a withdrawal also.

Roth IRA owners can withdraw their contributions tax-free and penalty-free at any age for any reason because the contributions were made with post-tax income. After age 59 ½, earnings may be withdrawn as long as the Roth IRA have been in existence for at least five years.

Traditional IRAs have a provision for first-time buyers which include anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the previous two years. A person and their spouse, if married, can each withdrawn up to $10,000 from their traditional IRA for a first-time home purchase without incurring the 10% early-withdrawal penalty. However, they will have to recognize the withdrawal as income in that tax year. For more information, go to IRS.gov.

Another interesting fact about this provision is that the taxpayer making the withdrawal can help a relative includes children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents.

If you want more information to clearly understand the issues involved relative to your specific situation, talk to your tax professional or consult www.IRS.gov.



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Increase Your Marketability

June 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The seller has three tools available to affect the marketability of their home: price, condition and terms. Price is the easiest to adjust for the competing properties, amount of inventory or market conditions. However, lowering the price is not necessarily the best decision when trying to maximize the proceeds of sale.

If a home is in poor or outdated condition, updating can be done to make it show favorably with other homes that are currently on the market. Sometimes, sellers rationalize not doing the work by saying they believe the buyers would rather make their own choices. The truth is that most buyers are using all their resources to get into the home and will have to live in its present condition until they can save enough to make the changes they want.

Another reason to go ahead and invest the money and effort into improving the condition is that it is difficult for buyers to imagine the home any other way than its current condition. When comparing one home to another, buyers will sometimes refer to a home as the “stinky house” or the “old kitchen” which may put it at a disadvantage.

While price and condition are the main things that control the marketability, terms can be equally effective. Terms relate to financial considerations made by the seller to induce a buyer to make a decision to purchase their home.

Seller-paid points or closing costs, interest rate buy downs and owner-financing are examples of terms that may increase the marketability of a home because of the additional benefits they offer to buyers.

An example could be that a seller will carry a 10% second lien so that the buyer can get an 80% loan and avoid the expense of mortgage insurance. The seller gets most of their equity plus a fair interest rate on the loan that doesn’t have to be tied up for 30 years like the first mortgage.

Increasing the marketability of your home is a great conversation to have with your real estate professional especially to help you get the highest price in the shortest time with the fewest problems. Just be aware that not all agents may be as creative as some.



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If you’re going to play, GET IN THE GAME

June 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If competition is a buyer’s biggest concern, for goodness’ sake, get in the game. In a new survey of close to a thousand home buyers conducted by Redfin, affordability is still the number one concern but due to low inventories, competition from other buyers is moving its way up the poll.

26% identified affordability while 19% mentioned competition and 15% mentioned low inventory as their respective top concerns.

To win, athletes study the competition to come up with a plan and buying a home is not different.
1. Ask what terms are important to the seller before you write the offer.
2. Once you decide to make an offer, do it as fast as you can, hopefully, to be the only one the seller is considering.
3. Make a good (or possibly, your best) offer in the beginning; you may never get a chance at improving it. In highly competitive situations, offer above the list price.
4. Attach your pre-approval letter from a respected lender. This means you’ll need to get pre-approved before you even think about writing an offer.
5. Have your lender call the listing agent to reassure them of your ability to qualify.
6. Include a higher than normal amount of earnest money to show you are serious.
7. Eliminate unnecessary contingencies.
8. Write a personal, hand-written letter telling the seller what you like about their home and why you want it. Consider including pictures of your family.
9. Minimize seller expenses paid for the benefit of the buyer.
10. Shorten inspection times.
11. Don’t ask for personal property.
12. Be flexible on closing dates to accommodate the seller’s move.

Once you find your dream home, don’t take a chance on losing it. Write a winning offer that will be good for both the sellers and the buyers.



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The Obvious Alternative Investment

June 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Rental homes can be a natural alternative investment choice for homeowners because they are already familiar with houses. Maintenance on a rental is not that much different than on your personal home. The same plumbers, painters and other workmen can be used to make repairs.

Single family homes offer an investor high loan-to-value mortgages at fixed interest rates for long terms on appreciating assets with defined tax advantages and more control than other investments.
1. High loan-to-value mortgages – most investments require that you pay cash but rental properties can be purchased with 20% down payment.
2. Fixed interest rates – most commercial loans are based on a floating rate such as prime interest plus one or two percent compared to real estate loans as fixed rates for the term.
3. Long terms – commercial loans are generally short-term such as six months or a year with the possibility of being renewed for another six months or a year unlike real estate where a 30-year mortgage is commonplace.
4. Appreciating assets – real estate has a long-term history of going up in value.
5. Defined tax advantages – many investments are taxed as ordinary income but rental real estate enjoys a non-cash deduction called cost recovery, the profits from sale are taxed at lower long-term capital gains rates or may be eligible for a tax-deferred exchange.
6. Control – rental homes don’t require partners and afford the investor more options than investing in mutual funds and other traditional investments.

The demand for good rentals is strong and the rents continue to go up in most markets. There are people who choose not to buy or cannot buy a home who would prefer to live in a single family home rather than an apartment.



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Your Tenants Will Send Your Kids to College

June 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Parents, with children getting closer and closer to entering college, may also be feeling stress because they haven’t saved enough for tuition and other expenses. It’s estimated that the average cost for the 2015-16 school year is $32,405 for private colleges, $9,410 for state residents of public colleges and $23,893 for out-of-state residents.

If you started saving the year your child was born, you’d have to save $4,608 per year for 18 years at 5% to accumulate $129,620. If you waited until they were 10 years old, you’d have to save $13,574 per year to have the right amount. Saving enough can be difficult if you have a lot of time but if you only have a short time to meet your goals, it can seem impossible.

student debt

Student debt is one way to handle the tuition but many parents are reluctant to saddle their children with the obligation. Currently, there is more than $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt to 40 million borrowers with an average balance of $29,000. Some economists suggest that this debt is delaying would-be buyers from making their first home purchases.

There is another way to pay for the education by making an investment in a rental property. Rents are continuing to rise, homes in owner-occupied neighborhoods are appreciating and the leverage due to borrowed funds can be a huge help in building the equity to pay the tuition.

Rent the home and maintain its condition over the years. As the loan amortizes and the value increases, the equity will grow. When your student is ready to start college, you’ll actually have several options.

You can sell the property; pay the tax on the gain at the reduced capital gains rate and fund the education. Another option would be to refinance and take the proceeds to pay for the tuition. This would allow you to continue to own the asset but would free your equity. Under current tax laws, it is a non-taxable event.

In effect, your tenants are paying to send your kids to college.



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7 Out of 50 Could Save Money

May 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It is estimated that seven million out of 50 million homeowners could save money by refinancing their existing mortgages. Obviously, if the replacement mortgage has a lower rate than your existing one, you will save money.

If you bought a home before 2011 and are paying mortgage insurance, you should investigate refinancing to eliminate that requirement. Even if you don’t get a lower interest rate, the savings could amount to hundreds of dollars a month.

If a home you purchased since 2011 has appreciated enough, it could easily justify refinancing to eliminate the required mortgage insurance. Most loans don’t require mortgage insurance if the loan-to-value is 80% or less. There are some programs for 90% mortgages that don’t require mortgage insurance. It is certainly worth investigating with a trusted mortgage professional.

Continuing to pay mortgage insurance that could be eliminated is like having a broken cell phone and continuing to make the monthly payments for something you can’t use and don’t need.

If your current mortgage is several years old, instead of getting a new 30 year mortgage, you might consider a 15-year term. The money you save with a lower interest rate could help you to retire your loan in a shorter time so that your home would be paid for.



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Matching Downpayment Assistance Grants Available through NeighborhoodLIFT®

May 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Huge opportunity!! If you are contemplating purchasing a home, now may be one of the best times. The Neighborhood lift program is kicking off on June 10/11 2016 It will be held downtown Minneapolis at the convention center and you need to make a reservation to meet with a loan officer to review the program and get qualified. Contact me and I’ll tell you about this amazing program sponsored by Wells Fargo. They are giving away grants to qualified prospective homeowners. It can be stacked with other programs like MHFA or local community or foundations. Time is of the essence. When the money is gone, it’s gone.



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HARP Guideline Updates- a useful link

May 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Are you underwater on a loan and want to look at the possibilities of a refinance? Check out this link I found on the new HARP guidelines- HARP Loan Program : Eligibility & Guidelines for 2016

http://themortgagereports.com/259/harp-making-home-affordable-guidelines . Maybe refinancing is an option. Are you considering selling and would like to know the currently value of your home, let me know and I will generate an automated report.



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You may never stop paying for some improvements

May 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

You’ve saved the money and are ready to pay cash to build a new pool for your home. However, that’s just the beginning of your soon to be increased expenses which will include maintenance, higher utilities and higher taxes.

Homeowners obviously benefit by a larger equity when their home increases in value due to appreciation. A not-so-obvious effect that will also more than likely take place is that their property taxes will increase. In most cases, a property’s assessed value is generally tied to market value to calculate the property taxes based on the tax rate for that year.

Similarly, a homeowner can affect the value of their home by making capital improvements. Some small items may never be recognized by the taxing authority but items that require a permit, certainly are brought to their attention. Items such as a fence, roof, remodeling, windows, new rooms or swimming pools can easily increase the assessed value of a property.

Most states have an established time frame in which to challenge the current tax assessment for that year. The process is relatively simple and doesn’t require professional representation. It generally involves showing that there is an error which has overstated the value or that current comparable sales indicate a lower value.

If you’d like more information or need the comparable sales data, please let us know. We would be happy to help you investigate the possibility of lowering your property taxes.



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Your Home May be Worth a lot More Than You Think

May 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Real estate lost a lot of value during the recession but most areas have rebounded considerably. In some cases, the homes are worth more than they were before the housing bubble burst.

The dynamics are classic for this type of market: inventories are low, mortgage rates are low and demand is high. All price ranges are on the rise with some at an even higher rate because the short supply is causing competition among buyers.

Another reason many homeowners’ may have more equity is simply not staying current with what is going on in the market. In a recent FNMA study, it indicates that 23% of owners believe they have negative equity in their home when actually, it is 9%. 37% believe they have greater than 20% equity in their home when actually 69% of homeowners do.

Even if you’re not planning to sell your home, knowing the value helps you understand your financial position better. Home equity debt up to a $100,000 limit is tax deductible and can be used for any purpose. Owner’s commonly refinance to eliminate mortgage insurance, consolidate mortgages, pay off higher interest rate debt like credit cards or student loans or to buy out an ex-spouse’s equity.

Be aware that an automated value model like Zillow Zestimates uses algorithms to determine a price and while it might be in the ballpark, AVM results may only be accurate about 20% of the time. A comparable marketing analysis or broker’s price opinion will be more accurate due the subjective approach that will be used by an agent with personal experience in the area. An agent will consider factors like condition, floorplan, marketability and demand.



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Temporary Buy Down

May 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

There is an infrequently-used mortgage program available that could be the solution to a buyer’s or seller’s problem.

Temporary Buy Down

A temporary buydown is fixed rate mortgage that the seller has prepaid interest at closing to lower the payments for a number of years. The borrower must qualify at the note rate but gets the benefit of lower payments for the early years.

A 2/1 is a common buydown that the first year’s payment is calculated at 2% lower than the note rate and the second year’s payment is calculated at 1% lower than the note rate. The third through thirtieth years’ payments are the note rate.

Let’s set the scene. A buyer is using their available cash for down payment and closing costs to get into the home. They’d like to put their own touches on the home when they move in but may not be able to for a year or two since most of their cash was used.

In this example, a $250,000 home is purchased with a 3.5% down payment and a 4% mortgage for 30-years. Normally, the principal and interest payment would be $1,151.76 for the full 30-year term. If the seller will pay the lender $4,736 at closing, it can be applied to pre-pay part of the interest for the first two years.

Temporary Buy Down

The first year, the buyer’s P&I payment will be $891.71 for 12 months based on a 2% interest rate or 2% lower than the 4% note rate. It is $260.06 lower per month in the first year. The second year, the buyer’s P&I payment will be $1,017.12 for the next 12 months based on a 3% interest rate or 1% lower than the 4% note rate. It is $134.64 lower per month in the second year.

A bonus for the buyer will be that the cost of the buydown paid at closing by the seller becomes prepaid interest that is deductible by the buyer in the year of purchase. The buyer gets lower than normal payments for the first two years and a sizable tax deduction.

This type of program can be very beneficial to a seller who wants to offer terms to improve the marketability of their home rather than lower the price. The challenge will be explaining it to not only potential buyers but even agents who are not familiar with this program.



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Tips for Buying Rentals

April 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Buying rental property can be an excellent decision and the better informed you are, the more likely you’ll have favorable results. The following suggestions can help you with your decisions.

Real estate is a long term investment affected by supply, demand and the economy. It isn’t an investment that is easily converted to cash. The costs to acquire and dispose of real estate are sizable and need to be spread over years to minimize their effects on the rate of return.

Invest in average price homes or slightly below average price to appeal to the broadest market not only when you are renting but later on when you sell it. The average price is relative to the market you are in and those specific prices.

Lower-priced homes will rent for more relative to higher-priced homes. There is an inverse relationship between rent as a percentage of the price. As the price increases, the rent as a percentage of the price decreases. For example, a $200,000 home might rent for $1,750 a month or 0.88% where a $400,000 home might only rent for $2,250 a month or 0.68%.

Choose predominantly owner-occupied neighborhoods because when you sell the home, it will appeal to a homeowner who will most likely pay a higher price for the home. Homes in predominantly tenant-occupied neighborhoods tend to sell to investors who pay lower prices and will not be emotionally involved with the purchase.

Purchase a property with the idea of selling it in mind. You may be able to get a property for a bargain price today but if it is due to a functional obsolescence like a bad floorplan or not enough bathrooms, that problem will still be there when you’re ready to sell the property. Identify what the problem is and what solutions are available. The property may rent fine in that condition but before you sell, it will need to be corrected.

Get the home inspected before you purchase it. Having the property checked out can save thousands in unanticipated expenses.

Consider getting a home warranty on your rental. The annual premium can limit the out of pocket expenses for repairs and maintenance.

Risk can be minimized by understanding the investment and what is involved in the acquisition, operation and disposition. For the typical homeowner, rental property is something that they can relate to because of the similar attributes of the home they live in.



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How Earnest Are You?

April 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“If I tell you it’s going to rain, you can put the buckets on the porch.” If you grew up in the south, you made have heard this expression when a person is testifying to the veracity of his word. If you know a person and/or their reputation, you know whether you can trust their word or not.

However, with a stranger such as a buyer, the seller doesn’t know whether they’ll live up to the terms of the contract or not. Buyers submit earnest money along with a contract to demonstrate their commitment to the terms of the offer.

The more earnest money that the buyer deposits indicates to the seller a higher level of commitment to the contract. Except for stated contingencies in the sales contract, if the buyer fails to close on the sale, the earnest money may be forfeited. Significant earnest money makes the seller feels more secure that the contract will close.

There certainly are a lot of things that can dictate how much earnest money is appropriate. Local customs, price of the home and type of mortgage can all help to determine the proper amount. In some areas, it may be common for it to be 1-5 percent of the purchase price. In other areas, it might be a specific amount like $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the sales price. It really comes down to whatever the buyer and seller agree is the proper amount.

Another strategy is to put up an adequate amount initially until you get through the inspections or contingency period and then, to put up an additional amount when the contingencies have been removed.

The earnest money demonstrates the buyers’ sincerity in making the offer and proceeding according to the agreement so the seller can take their home off the market and start making plans to move and give possession of their home. Ultimately, both parties want to close as anticipated according to the contract and the earnest money helps facilitate that.



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Components of a Credit Score

April 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Credit scores are used by lenders to measure the credit worthiness of borrowers. While there are several different companies that offer scores, the FICO, Fair Isaacson Corporation, is the model that is used most often.

There are five key components that determine the overall score or rating. The most emphasis, 35% of the overall score, is placed on payment history which reflects whether the borrower paid on time and as agreed by the terms of the credit. Being late, missing payments or going into default would have adverse effects on this part of the score.

The second largest component, 30%, is credit utilization or the amount owed in relation to amount available. A person might have a $4,000 outstanding balance on available credit of $20,000. This would be a 20% ratio and would be considered acceptable. Owing $15,000 on $20,000 of available credit would be a 75% ratio and would negatively affect this part of the credit score. FICO says people with the best scores average around 7% credit utilization.

The length of time each account has been open and the account’s activity determines 15% of the total credit score. By having a longer credit history, the credit provider has a better indication of the borrower’s long-term financial behavior. Having an open account without activity doesn’t offer a provider much information.

New credit and types of credit each account for 10% of the total score. New credit can adversely affect a score because it is a new obligation without history of how it will affect the borrower’s ability to repay all of their liabilities. Types of credit include both revolving and installment debt. A good mixture of each can indicate less risk for lenders.

The combination of all five areas make up the total score which lenders use to determine credit worthiness. Another confusing issue is that all credit scores are not mortgage credit scores. This particular score determines not only whether the lender will make a mortgage but at what interest rate.

The best place to get your credit score if you’re planning on purchasing a home is from a trusted mortgage professional. This person will be able to suggest things to improve your score if necessary. Buying a home is one of the largest investments in most people’s lives; it is really not a do-it-yourself activity.



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More Money in Your Paycheck

April 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A homeowner’s tax savings benefit is generally realized when they file their federal income tax return after the money has been spent for the interest and property taxes. Some people look forward to the refund as a means of forced savings but some people need to realize the savings during the year.

It is possible to adjust the deductions being withheld from the homeowner’s salary so they realize the benefit of the savings prior to filing their tax returns in the form of more money in their pay checks. Employees can talk to their employers about increasing their deductions stated on their W-4 form.

By increasing the exemptions or deductions, less is taken out of the check and the employee will receive more each pay period. If a person over-estimates their exemptions and therefore, underpays their income tax, they might incur interest and would have additional tax to pay when they filed their tax return.

Buyers considering this strategy should seek tax advice and discuss it with their human relations department at work. Additional information is available on the Internal Revenue Service website about Completing Form w-4 and Worksheets.



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Postponing a Purchase

March 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

You might be surprised how many people contact real estate offices because they want to buy a home but they don’t have the down payment or the credit to qualify. Occasionally, an agent will be working with someone who does have the down payment and credit but for whatever reason, decides to postpone the decision to purchase now for some point in the future.

It’s not uncommon that once they’re out of the market, the money starts burning a hole in their pocket and they end up buying a boat or a motorcycle or some other thing that cannot positively affect their lives and security the way a home does.

If the money had been put away somewhere safe like a certificate of deposit, it wouldn’t earn a lot but it would be there when they decided the time was right to buy a home. $8,750 would grow to $9,286 in three years in a 2% CD.

For the person who could tolerate a little more risk, they might consider investing in the stock market. If you found a mutual fund that would earn 7%, at the end of the same three year time frame, the $8,750 would have grown to $10,719.

Alternatively, if the would-be buyers used the same amount to purchase a $250,000 home that appreciated at only a modest one percent, the equity in the home at the end of the same three year period would be $29,597.

The dynamics of earning appreciation on the value of the home rather than just the down payment combined with the amortization of the mortgage makes the equity in the home almost three times greater than the mutual fund. If you used a 2% appreciation, the equity would be over $37,000 in the same period.

Obviously, there are legitimate reasons for postponing the purchase of a home. An important thing to remember is to safeguard the hard-earned down payment so it is ready when you are to buy in the future.



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Worth the Effort

March 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible…” While Judge Learned Hand was talking about federal income taxes, it can be applied to property taxes as well.

States have a process of assessing the value of a property based on a number of things that can include size, amenities, location and what the owner paid for the property. Most states make adjustments to that value annually. Once it has been published to the owner, there is a process available for those who disagree with the value.
1. Learn the assessment process and what the filing deadlines are to apply. Since different states have different requirements, it is important to know the process in your area.
2. Obtain your assessment records – they may be available online and you can find out how your value was determined. Check for mistakes in square footage, bedrooms, amount of land, etc. Then, verify if the comparable sales in the neighborhood support their position or not. Your real estate agent can be valuable in this area.
3. Proceed to make your case from the lowest to the highest level necessary. It isn’t necessary to hire someone to represent you. Sometimes, just talking to employees at the tax assessor’s office may be enough. If not, there is a process for a hearing where you present your evidence and so does a representative from the assessor’s office. If this still doesn’t give you the remedy you want, you may need to proceed to the courts.

Challenging your assessment really isn’t an adversarial position. Their job is to assess a fair value and your job is to pay the least amount of taxes. Whether it be an employed assessor or a voluntary board, they have a job and they appreciate being treated professionally and courteously.

Keep this last thing in mind: the people you’re presenting your case to have the ability to lower your taxes.



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Leverage – A Maximum Advantage

March 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Leverage gives the user a maximum advantage whether it is physically lifting a large object or rapidly building equity in a home. In the case of the home, the high loan-to-value mortgage allows the profits made to be greater than simply the cash invested.

A $250,000 home can be purchased on a FHA loan with a 3.5% down payment of $8,750. If the home appreciates at 2% a year, in seven years the equity will grow to $75,920 due to the appreciation and the amortization of the mortgage. That would be a remarkable 36.2% rate of return.

It is estimated that homeowners have a 45 times higher net worth than renters. Since the obvious difference is that renters don’t own a home, owning a home is a distinct advantage. The leverage that allows a borrower to control a much larger asset with a small down payment gives them a return on the much bigger asset than on just the down payment.

Another interesting contribution is the forced savings that occurs with each payment made on the mortgage. A portion of the payment is applied to principal so that the loan will be paid in full by the end of the term, usually 30 years. The amortization on the 4% mortgage example from above has approximately $4,300.00 paid in the first year to reduce the principal which increases the owner’s equity in the home.

For people who have the necessary funds for the down payment and good credit, buying a home can be a financially stabilizing event. While research on the Internet can provide valuable information, there is no substitute for having a face-to-face meeting with a trusted professional to determine your specific facts.



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Digital Showings

March 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Ask any real estate professional if they have sold a house without the buyer having physically seen it and they’ll most likely tell you they have. While it may have been an unconventional sale, it is more prevalent today than it was twenty or even ten years ago.

The digital world of the Internet has changed the process of buying a home. It is evolving as people have become more comfortable with the reliability of the information available.

Getting in a car and driving around all day looking at homes that may or may not fit your needs or wants is not productive for buyers or the agents.

The quality and the quantity of pictures has dramatically improved in the last twenty years. Buyers and agents alike can view a property online and get a fairly accurate idea of the condition and layout of home and whether it warrants a physical visit. Videos can “walk” you through the house to be able to assess if the floorplan will work for you.

The 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reports 89% of all buyers cited an online website as an information source with real estate agents being a close second at 87%. 42% of all buyers looked online for properties for sale as the first step taken during the home buying process.

Interestingly, 87% of buyers in 2015 purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker compared to only 68% in 2001. The agent services deemed most valuable to buyers were help finding the right home to purchase (53%) and help to negotiate the terms of sale (12%) and the price (11%).

A challenge for sellers is to understand that the digital showings are a critical part of today’s process. They save time and money for both buyers and are convenient because they can be done at any time of day and from anywhere. The difficulty is the seller’s feelings of inactivity when they believe their home is being shown frequently.

Agents can share statistics that show a variety of digital activity like number of unique visitors, length of time spent on the listing site as well as the other features that were accessed. 65% of all buyers walked through the home they purchased after they viewed it online.



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Pay Yourself First

February 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The principle to pay yourself first has been referred to as the Golden Rule of Personal Finance.

The concept is that one of the first checks you write each month is for your own savings. The rationale is that if there is no money left after a person pays their bills, there is nothing to contribute to savings or investments that month.

By establishing a priority to save, a person realizes that the balance of their monthly income must cover living expenses and other discretionary spending. This is a much different strategy than saving what is left over from monthly expenses and other spending.

Many financial experts have likened an amortizing mortgage to a forced savings account because a portion of each payment is applied to the reduction of the principal amount owed. Some homeowners have taken that concept further with a shorter term mortgage to build equity faster.

In the example below, a $250,000 mortgage at 4% interest is compared with two different terms. The 30 year mortgage would have payments of $1,193.54 each month with the first payment having $360.20 being applied to the principal. Each payment would have an increasingly larger amount applied to the principal.

The 15 year mortgage would have payments of $1,849.22 each month with the first payment having $1,015.89 being applied to the principal. The $665.68 difference in payments goes toward reducing the loan amount and acts like a forced savings.

A homeowner might opt for the longer term and intend to put the difference in the two payments in a bank savings account each month or make an additional principal contribution to pay the mortgage down. However, as any person responsible for paying household bills knows, there will always be something that comes up that could hijack your intentions.

By committing to the shorter term mortgage, a borrower is committing to make the higher payment each month and the benefit is that it will reduce your principal balance faster.



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Homeowner Advisory

February 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Similar to an annual wellness physical, homeowners should consider an annual review of the financial elements of their home. It’s particularly valuable based on the fact that their home and its equity is generally, one of their largest assets.

• List of similar properties recently sold and currently available
• Information on challenging property tax assessment
• Refinance Analysis to: ? lower your rate
? shorten the term
? make improvements
? eliminate mortgage insurance
? remove a person from the loan
? eliminate credit card debt
? combine loans
? take cash out of the equity

• Equity Accelerator to retire the mortgage within a specific period of time
• Repairmen and contractors recommendations
• Information on rental property opportunities

We’d be happy to provide this information at no obligation as part of our on-going commitment to providing homeowner information, both in general and specifically, to our contacts. It is part of a long-term strategy whereby we hope to earn your loyalty and referrals when you do need our services to buy or sell.



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It’s a Big Difference

February 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Let’s say that you just won $8,750 on a lottery scratch-off ticket. You’ve decided to be frugal and invest the money and have decided on three alternatives: buying a certificate of deposit, a mutual fund or use the money as a down payment for a $250,000 home.

To compare the three alternatives, let’s look at the equity in each one three years from now.

Your Best Investment

The certificate of deposit can be invested at 1.3% in today’s market and you believe you can reasonably earn 5% on a mutual fund. You expect the home to appreciate at three percent a year.

The certificate of deposit would be worth $9,096 at the end of three years and the mutual fund would be worth $10,129. However, the equity in the home at the end of three years would be $45,204. That is a four time’s higher yield on the home.

One of the main reasons for the big difference is that the buyer benefits from leverage: the use of borrowed funds to increase the results. The $8,750 down payment is controlling a $250,000 investment. The appreciation is determined by the price and not merely by the cash invested. Another factor is that the loan balance is smaller at the end of five years than originally borrowed due to amortization.

There are certainly other factors to consider such as maintenance and other expenses but when the financial benefits are as strong as they are, it certainly deserves a much closer investigation. One of the first things to consider is whether the borrower can qualify for a mortgage and the only satisfactory way to be certain is to get pre-approved by a trusted mortgage professional.

Use the Your Best Investment calculator to make your own projections.



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Is Understanding Costing You Money?

February 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

People tend to fear what they don’t understand. Homeowners understand fixed rate mortgages and remember the horror stories of people who lost their homes because they could no longer afford them when their adjustable rate mortgages went up.

Interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages have be so low for enough years, that borrowers haven’t even given much consideration to an adjustable rate mortgage. Changes in the way adjustable rate mortgages are now made make them much safer for borrowers who understand not only how they work but know they’ll only be in the home for a limited period of time.

Adjustable rate mortgages can go up or down according to an index that the lender has no control. The amount that can be adjusted is limited by caps for each period and for the life of the loan. While there are different periods for ARMs, the most popular lock the first period for five to seven years and then, can adjust annually after that.

One quick and easy way to determine whether an adjustable may be a viable alternative to a fixed would be to determine the maximum payment adjustments possible to find out when the savings from the early years are exhausted which would be the breakeven point. If the borrower is certain they’ll move prior to that date, the ARM will definitely provide a lower cost of housing.

The breakeven point for a $250,000 mortgage would be 8 years 3 months comparing a 2.9% 5/1 adjustable-rate with 1 and 5 caps to a 3.8% fixed-rate mortgage. In the initial five-year period, the payments on the ARM would be $124.32 lower and the unpaid balance would be $3,522 less than the fixed-rate to make a total savings of $10,981.

adjustable

Whether you’re buying or refinancing, get some good advice from a trusted lending professional about the adjustable-rate alternative. If you’re only going to be in the home a short time after the mortgage is made and your tolerance for risk allows you to feel comfortable, the ARM may be the best choice for you. Check out this ARM Comparison to use your own numbers.



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Remember to Get Your Annual Credit Report

January 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

You are probably aware that Federal law entitles you to a free copy of your credit report annually by each of the three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. By regularly looking at each of these reports, you can determine if there are any errors on them and be aware of your credit worthiness.

Instead of ordering all three at the same time, experts recommend that you stagger them throughout the year. This will let you look at your credit at three different times during the year instead of only once a year.

An easy way make this happens on a timely basis is to set a recurring appointment on your digital calendar whether it is on your phone, your email program or a contact manager. Make the appointment to order a free credit report from www.AnnualCreditReport.com a recurring event to take place every four months. You’ll order one report from each of three companies once a year.

You can record that date and the bureau you ordered the last report in the appointment’s note section so that you’ll have a history and won’t try to order the same report twice in one year.

This isn’t just for people who are trying to clean-up their credit. This procedure allows you to monitor your credit to be sure that your report is accurate. You might even discover that someone is illegally using your good credit.



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It’s Your Advantage

January 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Technology has certainly streamlined the home buying process and introduced things that help purchasers make better decisions. Buyers have enthusiastically embraced video tours, digital signatures and the enormous amount of information available about a home, neighborhood, schools and neighbors.

The ironic thing is that buyers are ignoring the one single thing that can help them secure the “right” home. Talking to a lender or using a financial calculator is not pre-approval.

Pre-approval requires written verification on employment and income and ordering a credit report for the purpose of obtaining a mortgage. A mortgage credit score is different than what a person might see from credit reporting websites.

Pre-approval gives buyers the confidence to know the amount they can borrow which can result in bargaining power when dealing with a seller or competing against another offer. Transactions can close quicker once a buyer has been pre-approved.

If any issues are discovered in the initial process, the purchaser and lender will have more time to correct them compared to trying to get it done during the loan approval period as stated in the sales contract.

Most lenders best interest rates are only available to the best borrowers. You might get approved on a loan but at a higher rate than you expected which could make a significant difference in the monthly payments.

The “right” home without financing will never have the buyer’s address. Getting pre-approved with a trusted mortgage professional is one of the first steps in the buying process. It can definitely be an advantage that will benefit you in negotiations and ultimately, during the time you own the home.



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Early Burnout Could be Good

January 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Most of us understand the expression “burning the candle at both ends” to mean working so hard that you burn yourself out. Normally, that wouldn’t be a good idea unless it is intentional.

If the candle is your mortgage and the strategy is to get it paid off early, being “burned out” would be a good thing. One end of the candle would be your regular mortgage payments and the other end would represent additional principal contributions.

Since the Great Recession, lenders have been reporting a higher than normal number of borrowers getting shorter term mortgages not only when the purchase the home originally but when they refinance them also. It seems like the mindset of America’s homeowner has shifted a little from the belief that they will always have a house payment.

The extra $100, $200 or $500 in your checking account isn’t earning interest. Additional principal contributions with your regular payments on a fixed rate mortgage will save interest, build equity and shorten the term of the mortgage.

Wealth management is about making financially wise choices. If having your home paid for by retirement age is one of your goals, making extra contributions regularly could get you there. Use this Equity Accelerator to see how it will affect your loan.



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Emergency Ready Kit

January 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that all Americans have some basic supplies on hand in order to survive for at least three days if an emergency occurs. It is recommended that the Ready Kit should be assembled well in advance of an emergency.

The concept is to be able to survive for at least 72 hours until local officials and relief workers arrive on the scene. The disaster could be wide-spread and involve a lot of people that makes it difficult for relief workers to reach everyone immediately.
• Water, one gallon per person per day for at least three days

• Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
• Battery powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Medications (prescription and basic)
• Whistle to signal for help
• Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Manual can opener for food
• Local maps
• Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
• Family and emergency contact information
• Extra cash
• Emergency blanket
• Pet supplies if necessary

Click here for a print version of this list and additional items to consider adding to an emergency ready kit. The American Red Cross has a suggested list for first aid kits and has other items available for purchase at their online store.



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Forced Savings

January 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the big banks has a voluntary program available that transfers $100 each month from your checking account to your savings account. In five years, the account owner would have over $5,000 because of a type of forced savings.

Similarly, when a person buys a home with a standard amortizing loan, each month, a part of the payment is used to reduce the principal loan amount. Amazingly, over $4,000 would be applied toward the principal in the first year of a $250,000 mortgage at 4% for 30 years. In five years, the loan amount would be reduced by almost $25,000 through normal payments.

The other dynamic that is in play is that while the unpaid balance is being reduced, appreciation causes the value to increase. The difference between the two makes the equity grow even faster. Three percent appreciation on a $250,000 home would increase its value in five year by almost $40,000.

A 30-year mortgage of $250,000 will be paid for in 30 years. At an average of 3% appreciation, the asset would be worth about $600,000. If you continue to rent, the asset belongs to your landlord instead.

Many experts believe that the homeowner benefits from the forced savings of amortization and the leveraged growth that takes place in the investment. It has been observed in the tri-annual Consumer Finance Survey by the Federal Reserve Board that homeowner’s net worth is considerably higher than that of renters.



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More Equity…More Options

December 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The more equity in your home, the more options you have. Since equity is determined by the difference between value and what is owed on a property, when homes lost value during the Great Recession, homeowners’ equity decreased.

Negative equity occurs when the value is less than the mortgage owed. According to CoreLogic, 91% of all mortgaged properties have equity and only 4.4 million properties remain in negative equity at the end of the second quarter in 2015.

A homeowner, who qualifies, can release part of their equity by refinancing the existing loan and taking out additional cash or by getting a home equity loan. The benefits include:
• To get a lower rate on your current mortgage
• To finance capital improvements on your home
• To payoff higher interest rate debt such as credit cards or student loans
• To purchase items that would not have deductible interest like personal cars, boats, etc.

It could be as simple as waiting for positive home equity so owners can move to another home without having to pay out-of-pocket expenses to sell their home.



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Two Things Everyone Needs to Know About Plumbing

December 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The first thing every homeowner needs to know about plumbing is how to turn the water off in case of an emergency. It’s like having a fire extinguisher; you hope you never need it but you want it just in case you do.

Generally, the cutoff is in the front of the home. There may be a separate cutoff box on the owner’s side of the meter. If not, the owner needs to be able to open the water meter and turn it off there. This will require a water meter key which can be found at a local home improvement store and a wrench. Once you have the key, practice opening the meter door and check out how the shutoff valve works. Then, put the key in a quick and easy place to find when you need it.

The second thing a homeowner needs is a recommendation of two good plumbers. Having a backup name is always good in case your first choice can’t make it when you need them.

Some homeowners prefer to go the do-it-yourself route. There are plenty of DIY videos on the Internet but having the name of a good plumber if the job gets out of hand can be the tool that saves the day.

Our business puts us in touch with some of the most reliable and reputable service providers and we’re willing to share their names with you. Regardless of whether you “do it or delegate it”, being familiar with the basics can be very helpful.



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Look at a Rental This Way

December 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Appreciation, tax advantages, cash flow, leverage and equity build up each contribute to the rate of return on rental real estate. If that sounds confusing and it’s keeping you from investing in rentals, try looking at it a different way.

Consider this, look at only cash flow and equity build-up to determine whether to buy the property. They are easy to calculate and their outcomes are both reliable and predictable.

Most homeowners, based on their familiarity with their own home, should feel more comfortable with a rental than alternative investments. A conservative strategy is to purchase slightly below average price range homes in a predominantly owner-occupied neighborhood. Collect the rent, pay the bills and make necessary repairs.

A cash on cash rate of return is determined by dividing the cash flow before taxes by the cash invested in the property. It considers all of the “real world” income and expenses related to the property.

purchase price

The equity build-up occurs from the normal process of amortization with an increasingly larger portion of each payment applied to reduce the principal loan amount.

In this hypothetical example, the combination of the Cash on Cash and the Equity Build-up is almost 12% which is considerably higher than certificates of deposit and bonds and nowhere near as volatile as stocks or mutual funds.

In most of today’s markets, rents are expected to continue to rise and due to a low inventory of homes for sale coupled with growing demand, prices will continue to rise. Even though there is value in appreciation, tax advantages and leverage, they could be considered an unexpected bonus to this basic rate of return.



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One-button Pricing?

November 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

An Automated Valuation Model, AVM, is a computer approach that looks at public records to make a determination based on square footage, comparable sales and other elements. It is as easy as putting your address in a blank but unfortunately, AVM results may only be accurate about 20% of the time.

A popular AVM, Zestimate®, states “It is considered a starting point at determining a home’s value.” While an AVM contains some of the same information as a comparable market analysis, it lacks a critical human factor.

Having a pair of experienced eyes consider aspects that are not easily quantified can make a big difference. A skilled professional can tell which properties are truly comparable. A knowledgeable expert can recognize features, floorplans and other things that can affect value but are difficult to quantify.

Even if a person isn’t ready to sell their investment, they like to know its value. It is easy to find the price of stocks or mutual funds on any given day but the value of a home is more difficult.

Regardless of whether you’re just curious as to how much your home is worth or are ready to monetize your equity, I’m available to give you that information without obligation. If you’re not ready now, just keep the letter for when you are.



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Resource Central

November 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Homeowners should recognize that the same trusted professional who helped them buy or sell their home can be a valuable resource while they own their home too.

Think of your REALTOR® as an indispensable homeowner’s resource who can make recommendations about a variety of services that homeowners will use throughout the tenure in their home. This experience far exceeds personal experience because of the day-to-day activities working in the industry.
• To recommend reputable and reasonable service providers.
• To offer information about your community, nearby businesses and local agencies.
• To solicit general homeowner knowledge such as protesting your property tax assessment, determining fair market value, determining the best improvements and other things.
• To assist with advice and suggestions about maintenance, protecting value and saving money.

Our goal is to have a long-term relationship with you. We want to help you be a better homeowner not only when you need to buy or sell but all of the year’s in-between. We want to earn a recommendation to your friends. We want you to consider us your REALTOR® for life.



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At Least Consider a Shorter One

November 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Affordability and stability are reasons homebuyers choose a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. It makes the payment lower than a 15-year mortgage and the principal and interest portion of the payment will be constant for 30 years.

A common belief among homeowners for decades was that they would always have mortgage payment. The Great Recession has caused many individuals to rethink that concept and make plans to get their home paid for sooner.

For people who can afford it, shorter term mortgages will provide a lower interest rate and build equity faster. A 3.09% 15-year fixed-rate mortgage compared to a 3.87% 30-year loan will have a $562.42 higher payment.

The equity would be $66,903.04 greater on the 15-year term at the end of seven years. Even after you consider the higher payment on the shorter term, the equity difference is still almost $20,000 greater.

mortgage amount

By choosing a 15-year loan, a borrower is committing to the higher payment for the term of the mortgage in exchange for a slightly lower interest rate. Another approach would be for the borrower to acquire a 30-year mortgage and make payments as if it were on a 15-year term. The slightly higher rate would allow the borrower the flexibility of not having to make the higher payment in the event he could not afford it on any particular month.



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Discussion with your Insurance Agent

November 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Insurance and homeowners go together like peanut butter and jelly. Lenders require fire insurance at a minimum for homes with a mortgage but many owners opt for a more comprehensive coverage with a homeowner’s policy.

However, comprehensive doesn’t mean that everything is covered. Filing a claim is not the time to learn that you don’t have the right coverage. Discuss the following issues with your insurance agent to get a better understanding of your policy and whether some adjustments might be in order.
• Flooding?
• Rising water?
• Mold?
• Earthquakes?
• Pools?
• Termites?
• Certain kinds of pets or breeds of dogs?
• Limits on jewelry and cash?
• Deductible amount?

The whole concept behind buying insurance is to transfer the risk of loss that you cannot afford for an annual premium that you can. Price and coverage need to be considered when comparing policies. Call your agent and make sure you understand what you’re insured for and if there are alternatives available.



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Real Cost of Housing

October 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A variety of factors have led to a shortage of rental units, especially single family homes, and as a result, rents have been steadily increasing nationwide. In most markets, it is considerably less to own than to rent.

In some cases, the total house payment is less than the rent for a similar size and condition home which supports a purchase. However, when you factor in some of the financial benefits like principal reduction, appreciation and tax savings, the difference becomes even more dramatic.

Let’s look at an example of a $250,000 home with 3.5% down payment and a 4.50% mortgage for 30 years. We’ll assume a 3% annual appreciation, 25% federal tax bracket, $1,200 annual maintenance and current rent of $2,100 a month.

The total house payment with property taxes, insurance and mortgage insurance premium would be $1,834 a month. Once the principal reduction, appreciation, tax savings and maintenance have been considered, the net cost of housing is about $673 a month. It costs a tenant over $1,400 more a month to rent than to own which would amount to $17,000 in the first year alone. That’s almost twice as much as the down payment to get into the home.

real cost housing

In this example, the down payment of $8,750 grows to almost $94,000 in seven years due to appreciation and amortization of the loan. Owning a home is one of the few investments available that allow these personal and financial benefits.

One of the obstacles in the past five to seven years has been a borrower’s inability to qualify for a mortgage but new programs and relaxed requirements have allowed more people to be eligible for mortgages. The important step is to talk to a trusted mortgage professional very early in the home search process. Your REALTOR® can make recommendations based on experience from actual closed transactions.

Use the Rent vs. Own calculator to see what the benefits might be in your price range.



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6 Reasons for Rentals

October 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Rental homes have several distinct advantages compared to alternative investments. These advantages coupled with the opportunity for a higher yield make it a clear choice for some investors.

1. Most investments must be paid for in cash. Stocks can be purchased with 50% cash but if the value goes down, more cash has to be used to keep the margin at 50%. Rentals can readily be financed with only 20-25% down payment.
2. Most loans made for business or investment purposes are at a floating interest rate compared to the prevalent fixed-rate mortgage on non-owner occupied real estate.
3. Terms for investment loans if possible are generally six months to a year with a possible renewal but real estate commonly has long term loans up to 30 years.
4. Real estate has a long-term history of appreciation.
5. Real estate enjoys tax advantages like long-term capital gains treatment, cost recovery and tax deferred exchanges that are not available to many other types of investments.
6. Single family homes and similar properties give the investor a reasonable amount of control to make improvements and manage the property which are limited to simply determining when to buy and sell for other investments.

The ins and outs of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, commodities and other investments are unfamiliar with most people. It is obviously possible for anyone to invest in them but the lack of knowledge about how they work could make it more difficult to have a successful outcome. On the other hand, homeowners can use their experiences to select, manage and sell with much more confidence using a single family home for rental purposes.

To find out more about investing in rental properties, contact me today.



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Possibly Your Best Investment

October 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

According to a Federal Reserve report on Consumer Finances, homeowners’ net worth is 36 times greater than that of renters. Building on that study, the National Association of REALTORS® believes that by the end of 2015, the factor will grow to 41 times greater.

There can be several factors that contribute to this disparity but an important one is the forced savings that is achieved due to an amortized mortgage. A portion of the payment goes to the reduction of the principal balance of the mortgage which increases equity in the home.

Appreciation is also a major contributor to homeowners’ equity. Homes, in most areas, have consistently increased in value over the long term and during the past four years have experienced solid growth. Many economists expect home prices to increase in the next five years.

Let’s look at a scenario where a qualified buyer considers three different options to see what their investment would be in five years: purchase a certificate of deposit, invest in the stock market or buy a home. The following assumptions are made: a $250,000 home with an $8,750 down payment with a 4.5% mortgage for 30 years and 3% annual appreciation; CD rate at 2% and a 5% return in the stock market.

The $8,750 would grow to $9,661 in the certificate of deposit, to $11,167 in the stock market and to $69,900 in equity with a home purchase. That is over a six times growth in the same period of time due to the amortization of the loan and the appreciation.

Check out Your Best Investment to compare possible differences in your price range.

your best investment



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The Cost of Co-Signing

October 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

It seems fairly innocuous; a friend or family member wants you to co-sign on a loan because they don’t qualify. They assure that they’ll make the payments; they’re quite convincing and very appreciative. You don’t want to disappoint them and after all, it’s not like it’s going to cost you anything…is it?

Think of it this way. They couldn’t get a loan unless you co-sign for them. If they don’t make the payments, the lender is all going to look to you to repay the loan plus late and collection fees. The lender may be able to sue you, file a lien on your home or garnish your wages.

And it’s not just money that you could be losing, it could be your credit too. Co-signing a loan is a contingent liability that could affect your debt-to-income ratio and your ability to borrow.

Co-signing is an obligation to repay the debt if the other signer is unable. You could be out the money and unable to recoup the loss because you don’t have control of the asset. The impact on your credit could take years to recover.

Before you obligate yourself, consider all of the ramifications involved in co-signing a loan for someone.



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Finding the Best Mortgage

October 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

As rates are inching up but still very affordable, buyers should remember that there is an alternative to a fixed rate mortgage that can provide the lowest cost of housing for the homeowners who understand the parameters.

A $300,000 fixed-rate mortgage at 4% has a principal and interest payment of $1,432.25 per month for the entire 30 year term. A 5/1 adjustable mortgage at 3% has a $167.43 lower payment for the first five years and then, can adjust, up or down, based on a predetermined index.

Another interesting fact is that the unpaid balance on the ARM at the end of the first five years is $4,624 lower than the fixed-rate mortgage. The total savings in the first five years on the ARM is $14,669.00.

Adjustable rate mortgages are not the right choice for everyone but buyers should at least consider the options based on their individual situation. It could be an obvious choice for a buyer who is only going to be in the home for five years or less.

Use the ARM Comparison worksheet to see what possible savings you could have based on your actual numbers. A trusted mortgage professional can help you to understand the advantages and disadvantages based on your situation. You need the facts to make the best decision.



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Special Buyer Money for Woodbury MN Home Buyers

October 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The City of Woodbuyr continues to offer $25,000 in deferred financing to income-qualified first-time homebuyers.

Please visit www.woodburyloans.com to see the program guidelines and learn more information.

As a reminder, five main advantages of our program that may save you hundreds of dollars per month include:

1. The principal of the Woodbury loan is deferred for 30 years.

2. Woodbury’s interest rate of 3.00% (2.75 for seniors or vets) is lower than the first mortgage’s rate.

3. Woodbury’s funds will help you eliminate the need for PMI.

4. Woodbury charges no origination fee.

5. Woodbury funds are exempt from mortgage registration taxes.



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Cut Mortgage Insurance

September 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Making additional payments toward the principal of your mortgage will do three things for the homeowner: save interest, build equity and shorten the term on fixed rate mortgages.

These things should be beneficial enough to justify the extra payments but another huge advantage is available to those who have private mortgage insurance on their loan. Mortgage insurance rates vary but can range from seventy-five to two hundred dollars a month on a $200,000 mortgage.

Lenders are required to automatically terminate mortgage insurance when the principal balance reaches 78% of the original value of the property. It is important for homeowners to monitor their balance because sometimes lenders may inadvertently fail to terminate the coverage.

Mortgage insurance is a necessary but expensive requirement for many people who are limited to a down payment of less than 20%. Eliminating the need for it can save thousands of dollars over time.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB, issued a compliance bulletin on August 4, 2015.



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Lower the Rate & Deduct the Interest

September 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A home can easily be a person’s largest personal asset and it can be a powerful tool to increase financial stability also.

Since most mortgages are amortizing, the loan becomes a forced savings account that reduces the unpaid balance with each payment. The equity could be used to improve a homeowner’s financial position involving other loans.

While every homeowner recognizes that they can deduct the interest paid on their mortgage, it is surprising how many don’t know that they can write-off the interest on up to $100,000 of home equity debt assuming there is sufficient equity in the home.

The real advantage to a homeowner is that the money borrowed can be used for any purpose and the interest is still deductible. Homeowners could payoff high-interest rate credit card debt or student loans with a considerably lower rate on a mortgage and deduct the interest on the home-equity debt.

Replacing debt with lower rate loans that have deductible interest can be a strategic decision to financial stability and a debt-free environment. A trusted mortgage professional can help you analyze your individual situation to determine if it would be better to refinance with a cash-out first-mortgage or a dedicated home equity loan.



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Things That Kill Your Credit

September 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Some people take their credit for granted and don’t start paying attention to it until they need it. The problem with this is that it could delay if not altogether cause the loan to be denied.

The most common issue is not correcting items on your credit report. A large majority of credit reports have errors but not all of them are critical. Since it takes time to remove them, it is a good practice to review your free credit reports from each Experian, TransUnion and Equifax once a year at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

Another problem is making late payments. One 30-day late payment could be enough to cause a borrower to pay a higher interest rate or even be denied a loan. Payments have a due date and even when they allow a few days before a late fee kicks in, if it isn’t on-time, it is late.

Maxing out credit cards is another big problem. Ideally, a person wants to have an outstanding balance of no more than 30% of their available credit. As the percentage of available credit decreases, the credit score will go down.

Bad credit can not only keep you from getting the loan you want, it can raise your rates on the insurance you buy. In a study released by the Consumer Federation of America, people with good credit paid less than people with average and poor credit. Their results indicate that some customers with poor credit scores were charged about twice as much as those with excellent scores.

A prudent idea if you are going to be moving to a larger home is to get pre-approved with a trusted mortgage professional before you sell your current home. Occasionally, sellers find out after they’ve sold their home that they can’t qualify for another mortgage.



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Checking for Water Leaks

September 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

An unexpected, larger-than-normal water bill could lead a person to think that they might have a leak. Before incurring the cost of a plumber, it is fairly easy to run your own test.

Locate your water meter. They’re usually in the front of the house, near the street. In some cases, you might need a meter key to open it; they can be purchased at Lowe’s, Home Depot or other hardware stores.

Step One – Write down the numbers on the meters to get a current reading. Don’t use any water for thirty minutes. If the meter shows water usage during the test period, proceed to step two.

Step Two – Shut off the valves to all of the toilets. If you have a pool with an automatic filler, it has a similar device. Repeat the test again for the same thirty minute period. If the numbers haven’t changed this time, it indicates that the toilets probably need servicing.

If the numbers have changed during step two, it is an indication there may be a leak and it will need to be tracked down. This could be the time to call a plumber or plumbing leak specialist. Your water department may have a consumer help line that can offer suggestions also.



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More Home for a Lower Cost of Housing

August 31, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

What if you could live in a larger and possibly newer home for less than you are currently? Would you consider moving? Do you want to hear more?

Interest rates, while they’re expected to go up, actually took a small dip and are still hovering at the 4% or below mark for a 30 year mortgage and almost one percent less for a 15 year term.

Let’s assume that you have a $225,000 mortgage currently at 6% which has a principal and interest payment of $1,348.99. With a 4% rate, you could have a $282,561 mortgage with the same payment. A $57,000 more expensive home could help you get what you need most such as more square footage or a different location or a newer home.

If you’re going to be making that payment for years to come, why not allow lower interest rates to help you get the features you want without having to necessarily pay a higher payment. Taking that logic a little bit further, let’s see how utilities can make a difference too.

A newer home could easily have lower monthly utility costs than your current home due to being more energy efficient. Construction materials, windows, doors, insulation, modern HVAC systems and energy efficient appliances all contribute to lower utility costs. A new home with these advantages could easily save a homeowner up to 25-50% on utilities for the same size home.

The concept is simple: get the most home you can for the amount you spend on the payment and utilities. It will take some investigation and your real estate professional can help.



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Get Ready for College

August 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

One of the important things as a parent is to plan for their children’s education. Let’s look at two different approaches: a savings account or investing in rental real estate.

Assuming your child is five years old and you start putting $250 a month in a savings account earning 2%, in 13 years you’d have $44,497.41 to pay for their college. Anticipating that isn’t going to be enough, you’d have to save $500 a month to end up with $88,995.

Another way would be to make a lump sum contribution of $20,000 today in a mutual fund earning 5% that would be worth $37,713 in 13 years. You’d have to make a $47,196 initial contribution to end up with the same $88,995.

An alternative to savings would be to invest in a $100,000 home in a good area. Assuming a three percent appreciation and rent of $1,000 a month, an initial investment of $23,500 could have a future wealth position of $83,838 at the end of 13 years.

Obviously, this is just an example of why rental homes are the IDEAL investment providing Income, Depreciation, Equity build-up, Appreciation and Leverage. While rentals certainly have more risk and management than a savings account, they do provide an opportunity for a higher rate of return.

If you’re concerned about paying for college tuition in the future, it is certainly worth investigating the possibility of investing in rental homes today.



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Disclaimer: This communication is provided to you for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon by you. RE/MAX Results is not a mortgage lender and so you should contact a mortgage broker or lender directly to learn more about its mortgage products and your eligibility for such products. Regarding specific blog postings, external links and any other information found on this site, neither John Mazzara nor RE/MAX Results assumes any responsibility nor guarantees the accuracy of this information and is not engaged in the practice of law nor gives legal advice. It is strongly recommended that you seek appropriate professional counsel regarding your rights as a homeowner. John Mazzara and RE/MAX Results are not associated with the government, and our service is not approved by the government or your existing lender. Even if you accept this offer and use this site and/or our services, your lender may not agree to change your loan should you decide to pursue a short sale or any other change involving your loan or loan terms and conditions. If you should decide to engage our services in marketing your home as a short sale, there will be no up front cost to you and you may cancel our listing contract at any time. · Each Office Independently Owned and Operated

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