Eyesore Ahead

by plano 5. September 2012 07:55

It can be unsightly and upsetting when a home in a neighborhood isn't being maintained like the others. It might be an overgrown yard, a fence in need of repair, paint peeling on the home or even a car parked in front of the home that hasn't moved in weeks.

I believe most people want to be good neighbors and may be willing to correct the issue once it is brought to their attention. In some cases, they may not agree with the same urgency and it might be necessary to seek other remedies.

The most expedient solution may be to contact the responsible person and describe your perception of the problem. An owner-occupant may be sympathetic to the neighbors and more than willing to correct the issue.

However, if you suspect that it is a rental property, check with the county tax records to identify the owner. They may be unaware of the situation and would actually welcome the "heads-up" to protect their investment.

The next step might be to notify the homeowner's association if there is one. The covenants or bylaws will specify how properties must be maintained and the association can enforce them.

The final step would be to notify the city for a possible code violation. Most cities have a separate code and neighborhood services division and some cities have 311 for non-emergency assistance.

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Determining Value

by plano 5. September 2012 07:53

Knowing the current value of your home is important when you're considering a move, refinancing or getting a home equity loan. Prices are determined by recent sales and the supply and demand of current inventory.

The process of selecting comparable properties involves matching similar features like bedrooms, baths, square footage and updates. In addition to price, there are other factors that affect the value and ultimately, the sale of a home.

Location plays a significant role because by the unique combination of improvements and land. Beneficial considerations would be convenience to schools, shopping, transportation and proximity to freeways. Undesirable concerns could include being in the vicinity of busy streets, high-tension lines, commercial property and other things.

To receive a computerized estimate on the value of your home that includes prices of comparable homes that have sold recently and homes currently for sale, click here.

Value is not totally objective and does require a certain amount of subjective considerations. If you have questions after you receive your report by email, contact us and we'll be happy to talk to you about your concerns.

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How Long Do I Have to Wait?

by plano 20. August 2012 11:21

The question concerning people who’ve had a foreclosure, short sale or bankruptcy is when they will be able to qualify for a mortgage loan.  It takes different amounts of time to heal credit scores based on the event.

The following chart is meant to be a general guide for how long a person might have to wait.  During this waiting period, it’s important that the person be current on all payments and maintains a history of good credit.

 

FHA

VA

USDA

FNMA/Freddie Mac

Jumbo

Foreclosure

3 years

2 years

3 years

7 years

7 years

Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure

3 years

2 years

3 years

2 years
<80%

4 years
81-90%

7 years
> 90%

7 years

Short Sale

3 years

2 years

3 years

2 years
<80%

7 years
81-90%

7 years
> 90%

7 years

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

2 years

2 years

3 years

4 years

7 years

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

1 year

1 year

1 year

2 years

7 years

A recommended lender can give you specific information regarding your individual situation and can make suggestions that will improve your ability to qualify for a mortgage.  We want to be your personal source of real estate information and we're committed to helping from purchase to sale and all the years in between.

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Homeownership Rules

by plano 20. August 2012 11:20

Most people agree that homeownership rules! When asked, people say they want a home they can call their own, to raise their family, share with their friends and to feel safe and secure. It also accounts for the majority of most people's net worth.

These rules can help protect your investment and make homeownership more enjoyable.

  1. Don't overpay for your home
  2. Maintain your home's condition
  3. Minimize your assessed value to lower property taxes
  4. Make extra principal contributions to save interest and build equity
  5. Validate the insured value of improvements and contents
  6. Stay current on surrounding property values
  7. Make mortgage interest payments deductible
  8. Invest in capital improvements that increase market value
  9. Don't over-improve the neighborhood
  10. Keep records of capital improvements and other maintenance
We want to be your personal source of real estate information and we're committed to helping from purchase to sale and all the years in between.

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American Dream

by plano 20. August 2012 11:17

The American Dream of owning a home is still alive. People still want a place of their own; where they can raise their family; share with their friends; feel safe and secure. Homeownership creates emotional and financial benefits.

The government supports that dream by allowing deductions for mortgage and home equity interest as well as property taxes. The capital gains exclusion on profits from a home is incredibly generous and a low long-term capital gains tax rate applies to excess profits.

It's reported that some of the social benefits of owning a home include higher voter participation, better physical health, higher student test scores, lower teen delinquency, neighborhood stability and pride in the community.

If for no other reason, the decision to buy a home should be considered when it costs much less to own a home than it does to rent. With the unusually low available mortgage rates, the payment is generally less than comparable rent. However, the decision becomes more obvious when the other benefits are considered like amortization, appreciation and tax savings.

It's not uncommon for the net cost of housing to be half of the actual mortgage payment. In most cases, it is significantly more to rent than to own which could amount to more than the down payment in the first year alone.  Calculate your cost of Renting vs. Owning.

 

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Which Value Do You Use?

by plano 9. July 2012 10:33

What your home is worth depends on why you ask the question. It could be one value based on a purchase or sale and an entirely different value for insurance purposes.

Fair market value is the price a buyer and seller can agree upon assuming both are knowledgeable, willing and unpressured by extraordinary events. This value is generally indicated by the comparable market analysis done by real estate professionals.

Insured value is determined for the proper insurance coverage. Replacement cost could actually exceed the cost of new construction when additional expenses are incurred for demolition and the added complexities of matching existing construction.

Homeowners are generally more familiar with their home's market value. Since it can be lower than the replacement cost, owners should review the insured value with their property insurance agents periodically. Under-insuring could invoke a co-insurance clause that may limit the settlement and increase your out of pocket expenses.

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Star Spangled Banner

by plano 2. July 2012 10:35

Our American flag is obviously the symbol of our country but it has come to remind us of every man and woman who has fought for the freedom that we enjoy. The emotions that are stirred by images of our flag can run from happiness to sadness to even anger and everything in between.

Most of us learned basic flag etiquette when we were young but occasionally, it is a good idea to review the procedures so that we treat the flag with the respect that it deserves.

 

  • The U.S. flag should not be flown at night unless a light is shown on it.
  • The flag should never touch the ground.
  • The U.S. flag should not be flown upside down except as a distress signal.
  • A U.S. flag should be displayed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff.
  • When displaying multiple flags of a state, community or society on the same flagpole, the U.S. flag must always be on top.
  • When flown with flags of states, communities or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor - to its own right. No flag should be higher or larger that the U.S. flag. The U.S. flag is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.
  • When the U.S. flag is flown with those of other countries, each flag should be the same size and must be on separate poles of the same height. Ideally, the flags should be raised and lowered simultaneously.

 

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Second Homes Treated Differently

by plano 25. June 2012 10:23

While a principal residence and a second home have some similar benefits, they have some major differences. A principal residence is the primary home where you live and a second home is used for personal enjoyment while limiting possible rental activity to a maximum of 14 days per year.

The Mortgage Interest Deduction allows a taxpayer to deduct the qualified interest and property taxes on a principal residence and a second home. The interest is limited to a maximum of $1,000,000 combined acquisition debt and a combined $100,000 home equity debt for both the first and second homes.

The gain on a principal residence has a significant exclusion for taxpayers meeting the requirements. The gains on second homes must be recognized when sold. Even if you sell a smaller second home and invest all of the proceeds into a larger second home, you'll need to pay tax on the gain.

Tax-deferred exchanges are not allowed for properties having personal use including second homes.

If the home is owned for more than 12 months, the gain is taxed at the long-term capital gains rate. If the home is owned for less than 12 months, the gain is taxed as ordinary income which would be a considerably higher rate.

The article is intended for informational purposes. Advice from a tax professional for your specific situation should be obtained prior to making a decision that can have tax implications.

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Gift or Inherit

by plano 19. June 2012 14:22

Transferring the title of a home from one person to another may seem simple but it could have a significant tax implication.

When a person inherits property, the basis is "stepped-up" to fair market value at the time of the decedent's death. On the other hand, a gift has a carry-over basis which means that the recipient receives the unrealized gain also.

As an example, let's say an elderly parent, in an attempt to get their affairs in order, gives their home to their adult child. The rationale might be that they are the sole beneficiary and will get the property eventually. In an effort to settle things early, unnecessary income tax may be incurred.

If the home was purchased for $20,000 and worth $100,000 at the time of transfer, there is a possible gain of $80,000. However, if the adult child inherited the property at the time of the parent's death, their new basis would be $100,000 or the fair market value at the time of death and the possible gain would be zero.

This is meant to be an example and many other variables could be involved. If you're concerned about a situation, you should seek specific advice from a tax professional. As always, I'm here to help you I can as your real estate professional.

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If I'd Only Bought

by plano 19. June 2012 14:21

We've probably all said or at least thought "if I knew then, what I know now, I would have done things differently." We should have stayed in school longer. We should have listened to our parents. We should have bought Apple stock in 2002 for $8.50 or gold in 2000 for $300.

Years from now, if we look back at 2012, it may be clear that this was the best buyer's market ever. The prices are down nationwide 35-40% from four years ago, mortgage rates have never been this low and rents are rising. Few homes have been built in recent years to keep up with a growing population. There may never be a better time to buy homes than now.

The housing affordability index which is considered to be good at 100 has increased to over 200 for several months. Shrinking inventories and rising prices in some markets are causing the index to fall for the first time in years.

This 'buying" opportunity applies equally to acquiring a home to live in or to rent as income property. It is estimated that about one-third of the homes purchased last year were done by investors. It is reasonalbe because the positive cash flows far exceed most other investment alternatives.

The question we're all faced with this year is whether we'll be saying we seized or missed an opportunity of a lifetime.

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