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Downsizing Might Make Sense

by Pat Argo, CRS

~~With roughly 12.5% of the population over 65 years of age, it is understandable that some of them are thinking of downsizing because they may not need the amount of space they did in the past.  There is something to be said for the freedom acquired by divesting yourself of “things” that have been accumulated over the years but are no longer needed.

Moving to a less expensive home, could provide cash that could be invested for additional income or savings for unanticipated expenditures.

Savings can also be recognized in the lower utility costs associated with a smaller home, not to mention, the lower premiums for insurance and property taxes.

Going from the home where you reared your family to one of the new tiny homes may be a bit extreme but downsizing to 2/3 or 50% of your current home may certainly be reasonable.  In some situations, your interests may have changed so that a different area or city might be a possibility.

At one time, IRS had a once-in-a-lifetime exclusion of $125,000 of gain from a principal residence but it was changed so that homeowner’s are eligible for an exclusion of $250,000 of gain for single taxpayers and up to $500,000 for married taxpayers who have owned and used their home two out of the last five years and haven’t taken the exclusion in the previous 24 months.

Homeowners should consult their tax professionals to see how this may apply to their individual situation.And of course, call me if I can be of service in comparing real estate changes that might work for you!

Things To Think About Before Refinancing Your Loan

by Pat Argo

Every single day, homeowners who are excited about lowering their rate have a tendency to iStock_000016148905XSmall(er).jpgignore the refinancing costs because they’re being rolled back into the new mortgage. If the payment is lower than what they’re currently paying and there’s no money out of pocket, it seems like a good deal.

Refinancing your home because a lower rate is available is one thing but the closing costs associated with that new loan could add several thousand dollars to your mortgage balance. By following some of the suggestions listed below, you may be able to reduce the expense to refinance.

• Tell the lender up-front that you want to have the loan quoted with minimal closing costs.
• Check with your existing lender to see if the rate and closing costs might be cheaper.
• If you’re refinancing a FHA or VA loan, consider the streamline refinance.
• Shop around with other lenders and compare rate and closing costs.
• Credit unions may have lower closing costs because they are generally loaning deposits and their cost of funds is less.
• Reducing the loan-to-value so that mortgage insurance is not required will reduce expenses.
• Ask if the lender can use an AVM, automated valuation model, instead of an appraisal.
• You may not need a new survey if no changes have been made.
• There may be a discount on the mortgagee’s title policy available on a refinance.
• Points on refinancing, unlike purchase, are ratably deductible over the life of the loan.
• Consider a 15 year loan. If you can afford the higher payments, you can expect a lower interest rate than a 30 year loan and obviously, it will build equity faster and pay off in half the time.

A lender must provide you a list of the fees involved with making the loan within 3 days of making a loan application in the form of a Good Faith Estimate. Every dollar counts and they belong to you.

Thinking About Refinancing?

by Pat Argo

We're constantly bombarded by lenders to refinance our mortgage under a variety of programs. The volume of offers can almost make you numb to the rational consideration.

There are common rules of thumbs that homeowners and agents use such as not refinancing more often than every two years or there must be at least 2% savings from your previous mortgage rate may not always be accurate.

The reality is that if you can refinance for a lower rate and you'll be in the home long enough to recapture the cost of refinancing, it should be considered. The costs of previous refinancing that haven't been recaptured by monthly savings may need to be added to the costs of the new refinance.

Take a look at the chart that shows the average rates according to Freddie Mac for 2012. They are lower today than they were in January of 2012 and for the ten years before that.

Refinancing may save you a substantial amount of money, especially if you're going to be in your home for a long time. It is definitely worth investigating. To get a quick idea of what your savings could be, use this refinancing calculator.

Did You Rent Your Home vs Selling It or Losing It?

by Pat Argo

   

Temporary Rental2.pngSome homeowners, who were not able to sell during the recession, chose to rent their homes instead. In some cases, they didn't need to sell their home at the depressed prices and opted to rent it until the market recovered.

It's a valid strategy but there are time restrictions that could have serious tax implications for some homeowners.

The section 121 exclusion for gain in a principal residence requires that the home is owned and used as a main home for at least two years during the five year period ending on the date of the sale. This allows a homeowner to rent their home for up to three years and still have some part of the exclusion available.

The sale of a home with a $200,000 gain that qualifies as a principal residence would result in no tax being paid by the owner. Comparably, a rental property with the same gain could have a $30,000 or higher tax liability depending on the length of ownership and tax brackets of the investor.

The housing market has dramatically improved in the last year. If you have a gain in a home that has been your principal residence and it has been rented less than three years, you might want to consider selling it while you qualify for the exclusion.

If you are considering a sale on your principal residence that has been rented, consult with your tax professional for advice on your specific situation. For additional information, see IRS Publication 523.

Waiting To Buy ?

by Pat Argo

Waiting periods.pngIt's estimated that 10% of the homes sold in 2013 will be to buyers who lost a home in the past five years. Approximately 500,000 buyers who may have thought they wouldn't own a home anytime in the near future will be homeowners again.

It's estimated that several million of these previous homeowners will purchase again in the next eight years. This kind of activity will contribute significantly to the housing recovery.

Some people thought that the housing crisis would cause a shift in values placed on owning a home but the boomerang buyers definitely don't support that theory. Having a home of your own, where you can raise your family, share with your friends and feel safe and secure is still part of the American Dream.

The rising rents, increasing prices and low, low mortgage rates are also influencing buyers into the market. In many cases, it is cheaper to own that to rent.

All new buyers, including those who have experienced foreclosures or bankruptcies, must have good credit history and the ability to repay the loan. It just may not take as long to reestablish the credit as some would-be buyers might have thought.

Read more about Bidding Wars This Spring, Spring's Wild Card and Boomerang Buyers.

What Color Will Brighten Your Spring?

by Pat Argo

 

Will adding new color in your home put a smile on your face? Have you ever picked a color from the myriad of paint samples available, put it on the wall and decided that it was all wrong? It shouldn't have to be that difficult... but trying to pick the perfect color from those little swatches is just not that easy!

Painters and decorators suggest you buy a small amount of the colors you're considering. Your paint store should be able to mix them in any brand and any color. Once it's on the wall, it will be easy to determine if it needs to be lighter or darker or if it's completely wrong.

Take them home and paint a 2' x 2' area on the wall. If you're concerned about testing the colors on your wall, you can paint some sample boards that can be easily moved around to see how they'll look with the furniture, floors and other items in the room.

Instead of guessing what it's going to look like, you'll actually see how it looks during different times of the day, in natural and artificial light.

While $30 to $40 a gallon for paint may seem like a lot of money, the cost in time and labor to put it on the wall is even more. It's worth taking the time to test the color on the wall before you buy all the paint needed.

And if you are considering selling your nest this year, be sure the colors you select will also appeal to today's buyers, before you make a major change!

Low Inventory?

by Pat Argo

 

Low inventory is a relative term depending on how you're comparing it.  Would the comparison be to total number of homes on the market last year, homes in a certain price range or homes in a certain area?  In some situations, it's a combination of all of those things.

In any given market, inventories will fluctuate based on area and price range.  The National Association of REALTORS® considers a balanced market to be 6 months' supply of homes.  If it takes longer than 6 months to sell, it is thought to be a buyer's market and less than 6 months, a seller's market.  Most buyers and sellers probably feel inventory equilibrium is more like 3 month's supply of homes.

Inventory has a direct impact on price.  During the housing bubble, demand decreased, supply ballooned to four million houses and prices dropped dramatically.  Increased inventories due to foreclosures, bank' revised lending practices and builder's lack of new housing starts each contributed to the dramatically lower prices.

As the market has recovered, economic conditions have improved, banks have loosened their requirements, interest rates have remained low, foreclosures have slowed and gradually, the inventory has been reduced to approximately two million houses.  When demand is constant but inventory is reduced, price tends to increase because the same number of people are trying to buy a smaller than normal number of homes.

Based on the low mortgage rates that have been inching up each week in 2013 and an improving consumer confidence level, most markets are experiencing some increase in demand.  With inventory decreasing, buyers in the marketplace can see that prices are increasing.

Just as signs of spring can be seen to be just around the corner, it should be recognized what direction prices will be moving.  Hindsight is 20/20 but we can't purchase or sell in the past.  We need to make decisions today on what we think will happen in the future.

If you're curious to know what inventory conditions are for your specific market, send me a quick email with the price range and area and I'll send you a report.  Pat@PatArgo.com

FHA is Changing! Here is What YOU need to Know!

by Pat Argo

The 3.5% down payment on FHA loans could be more expensive for buyers than expected. Beginning April 1, 2013, the mortgage insurance premium will go up by .1% to 1.35% which may not even be noticeable to most would-be homeowners.

The staggering increase will occur on 6/3/2013 when FHA's policy on the duration of the required mortgage insurance will be increased for the life of the mortgage. It basically doubles the amount of total MIP if the loan is paid to term.

 Example: Purchase Price $175,000 
with 3.5% down payment at 4% mortgage rate on 30 year term

 

Current

After 6/3/13

MIP duration

78% of original loan

Life of mortgage

Cumulative premium

$20,838.24

$42,447.93

Currently, the MIP is required for approximately 9 years 9 months with normal amortization. The new program would require the MIP for the life of the loan. In this example, the initial monthly MIP is $196.88 which decreases based on amortization.

There are buyers that qualify on income and credit who may not have the necessary additional down payment required for 80% and 90% conventional loans. The 3.5% FHA program has provided a great vehicle to get into a home with a minimum amount of cash.

For homeowners that expect to stay in their home for ten years or less, the new changes might not have much financial impact. Homeowners who expect to be in their home long term can refinance with a conventional loan without mortgage insurance once the equity has increased due to amortization and appreciation.

For buyers to avoid these increases, they will need to act now to get the FHA commitment issued prior to these change dates.

Water Damage? What Do I Do Now?

by Pat Argo

 

A number of things can cause water damage to a home and it's important to know whether they're covered by your insurance policy. Some water damage may be covered and other may not be. Generally, you need an incident to invoke coverage rather than something gradual due to lack of maintenance.

However, some incidents are specifically exempt from homeowner policies such as floods. A flood can be described as rising water due to overflow of inland or tidal waters or unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface water from any source.

Homes in designated high-risk flood areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to have flood insurance.

Even if you don't live in a dedicated flood zone, you could be affected by flood damage. Review your policy about water damage and call your insurance agent to get a better understanding. Ask if you need to purchase additional coverage or separate flood insurance along with other questions.

Flood insurance can be purchased for the building and the contents. The average flood insurance policy costs about $600 per year. For more information, see the National Flood Insurance Program.

Woulda... Coulda.... Shoulda...

by Pat Argo

It is the mantra of people who missed a great deal. It's the theme song of the procrastinator. It's the refrain that reminds us of the one that got away.

Some people are still beating themselves up because they didn't recognize the housing bubble was really going to burst. It is impossible to change the past, but will they see the signs of the next housing trend?

In the past 5 years, prices have adjusted with 30% corrections nationally and much more in areas with high percentages of foreclosures. New homes were almost non-existent but builders are now building again in Brevard. Interest rates are slightly above record lows. Consumer goods are skyrocketing; our budget deficit and national debt are staggering and escalating inflation appears certain.

"Forget stocks. Don't bet on gold. After 5 years of plunging home prices, the most attractive asset class in America is housing." states Shawn Tully, Senior Editor at-Large for Fortune magazine in a March 28, 2011 article.

"If I would have known that this was the best buyer's market ever, I could have taken advantage of the prices and interest rates; I should have fixed my cost of housing for years to come."                       Don't catch yourself saying this. A year later, there are still great opportunities for investing, moving up or down sizing. You owe it to yourself and your family to get firsthand information to see what your options really are. Call or text me if I can help!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 20

Contact Information

Photo of Pat Argo, Broker Assoc, CRS, GRI, RECS, SFR, S Real Estate
Pat Argo, Broker Assoc, CRS, GRI, RECS, SFR, S
Keller Williams Realty of Brevard
6905 N Wickham Road #405
Melbourne FL 32940
Cell/Text: 321-537-4721
Office: 321-259-1170
Fax: 321-435-3124