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Is buying a home a good idea in November and December?

October 10, 2014

thanksgivingAs the holiday season approaches, based on my years of experience, the months of November and December are great for home buyers. The reasons for this appear to be:

  1. There are fewer buyers – with all the things going on around the holidays many buyers are simply too busy to focus on finding a home.
  2. Fewer buyers mean Sellers may be willing to deal – when homes stay on the market during the holiday season that indicates the seller is very motivated to close quickly.
  3. I find sellers are more willing to pay closing cost and leave items (like refrigerators) as part of the transaction.

So, if you are looking for a home during the holiday season, be sure to contact me and we will find the best place at the best price.

Are you Taking Advantage of Referrals?

May 13, 2014

How do you handle a referral? When someone gives you the name and contact information of a potential client, do you have a process? If you don’t, there’s a good chance you’re not going to take advantage of the referral.

Your Personal Network

Your Personal Network

Sometimes referred to as a “warm lead”, a referral is not an automatic sale. You must manage and nurture the potential client to prevent them from becoming another name in your client list. Here are five tips recently offered by to turn a referral into a client.

  1. Arrange an Introduction

Try to set up a meeting where the prospect, the person giving the referral, and you can meet face to face. Having everyone together is a great way to create trust, get to know one another and generate rapport which is the foundation for a strong working relationship.

2. Do Your Homework

Once you’ve met the referral, set up a time to discuss exactly what the prospect is looking for and how you can be of service to them. By understanding their “wants” and “needs” is a critical first step in determining exactly how you can best present solutions to meet those wants and needs.

Dig deep, many times people don’t know exactly what they really need or want, but they know what they don’t want. Build a picture for them. Be sure to ask follow up questions regarding what they’ve told you to help explain why they want a specific option or service. “Why is that?” or “Please explain?” are great ways to find out the why behind the want.

3. Assume Nothing

When you receive a referral, the referrer may try to tell you everything they know about the prospect. Don’t rely on this information as the only information you depend on as you move forward. You must get to know the prospect personally. Your relationship may well be completely different than that of the referrer and the prospect may respond completely differently in the context of your dealings.

  1. Don’t Overwhelm Your Contact

It is human nature to want to give the prospect everything they will need to make a decision right at first, but many times this will run them off. We want them to be well informed but remember too much at once can overwhelm and frustrate potential clients. Introduce important information each time you meet with them.

  1. Let Your Personality Shine

It’s quite likely that you received a warm contact through someone that knows you, or at least knows of you. They referred you for two primary reasons: your professional ability and your likability. You can prove your professional mettle in a number of ways — defining wants and needs, educating your client on the local market, and demonstrating your expertise in the buying/selling process. Showing your personality is sometimes more difficult than proving professionalism. It’s important to do though, as people want to work with someone they like. As a real estate pro, you’re used to reading people and understanding what makes them tick. Use that skill to “break the ice” early in the process. While you can’t force someone to like you, making an effort to be personable can pay huge dividends.

Once you’ve taken care of the referral, remember to take care of the referrer. You don’t have to fill them in on every single aspect of what you’ve done for the referral, but a few key points will help strengthen your relationship, especially if you tell them how much they have helped you succeed. Of course be sure to reciprocate with a good quality referral. Building your referral network will do more for your long term success than any advertising campaign.

When does a Buyer’s termination option really end?

April 17, 2014

In a recent blog post on the Texas Association of Realtors web site, asked this very question. When does a Buyer’s termination actually end?

ContractMany Realtors say the deadline is 5:00 PM of the last day of the contract but in actuality “TREC contracts and addenda do not specify a time-of-day deadline.” Further the post commented “The language of the termination-option provision allows for termination at any time within a specified number of days after the effective date of the contract. Therefore, a buyer may provide the notice to terminate up until 11:59 p.m. of the last day of the termination-option period.

The best thing to do, of course, is for all parties to avoid last-minute compliance with performance-of-contract obligations or requirements whenever possible to avoid controversy.

It must be noted that the blog has a legal disclaimer (which is repeated here for convenience):

“The material provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be considered as legal advice for your particular matter. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Applicability of the legal principles discussed in this material may differ substantially in individual situations.”

“While the Texas Association of REALTORS® has used reasonable efforts in collecting and preparing materials included here, due to the rapidly changing nature of the real estate marketplace and the law, and our reliance on information provided by outside sources, the Texas Association of REALTORS® makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee of the accuracy or reliability of any information provided here or elsewhere on Any legal or other information found here, on, or at other sites to which we link, should be verified before it is relied upon.”

To read the comments about the TAR article click on

Check List for a Better Spring

April 3, 2014
Time to take care of the yard.

Time to take care of the yard.

Now that we’ve finally reach Spring, it’s time to start preparing the house for both indoor and outdoor activities.  Laura Gaskill recommends things like cleaning off the lawn furniture, fix and patch the house. Check out her entire list:

1. Set up outdoor furniture. If you haven’t yet gotten the outdoor furniture out of storage, now is the time. Give everything a good cleaning, and go shopping for new pieces as needed. Wish you had an outdoor dining area or place to sit with a good book? Jump on the project now so that you have all season to enjoy using it.

2. Tune up lawn mower and gas grill. Make sure all of your outdoor equipment is in working order. Stock up on the types of fuel you will need to run your lawn mower and gas grill. If you have a reel lawn mower (i.e., a push mower), take it in to have the blades sharpened.

Lawn Care

Lawn Care

3. Clean siding. Wash the exterior of your house to remove road salt and grime that has accumulated over the winter. Use a pressure washer or a regular hose with a cleaning attachment, depending on the type of siding.

4. Check fences, driveway and paths for damage. Particularly for regions that experience freezing and thawing conditions, driveways and paths can become cracked over the winter. Take a walk around your home, looking out for signs of damage on the driveway and walkway, as well as the foundation, fences and gates. Schedule repairs as needed.

5. Refresh your mantel. Take everything off your mantel, and wipe down the surface. Bring in something fresh and green — potted ferns, blooming bulbs or cut branches will last longer than cut flowers. If you have a mirror hanging above the mantel, clean it as well. Add a few scented or plain beeswax candles as a finishing touch.

6. Celebrate Earth Day by going greener at home. Commit to making lasting changes to go greener this year by adopting a few easy new habits:
• Trade paper towels for a stack of washable dish cloths
• Use real napkins instead of paper
• Swap out your cleaning products for natural methods
• Check out a local farmer’s market for fresh produce
• Shut off lights when you leave the room

7. Clean windows. Boost natural light throughout your home by cleaning the windows, inside and out. If you have second-story windows, either hire a service to clean the outside or use a hose attachment to clean them yourself (while standing safely on the ground!).

8. Have air conditioning serviced. If you use air conditioning and haven’t had it serviced yet this spring, now is the time. If you use window air conditioning units, change the filters before installing them.

9. Bag up some giveaways. Simplify your life this spring by getting excess stuff out of your home (and out of your way). Grab some boxes or sturdy bags, and aim to fill at least one per room with items to give away, sell, recycle or toss. Your home will feel so much lighter, it’s worth the effort!

10. Rotate artwork. If you love collecting art prints and paintings, you know how easy it is to run out of wall space long before you’ve hung all of your artwork. A simple solution is to rotate your artwork each season, keeping some pieces carefully stored in a closet.

11. Swap towels and bedding. Rotating linens with the seasons is an easy way to perk up your home, and it extends the life of your textiles. You can’t go wrong with classic white towels and sheets, but if you are looking for something a little different this spring, why not pick a bold color instead?

Take care of these things and your Spring and Summer will be so much more enjoyable and healthy.

February Checklist for a Smooth-Running Home 10 to-do’s

February 7, 2014

February means the thick of snow and cold across most of the country — but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream of spring. Spruce up your home this month by giving your bedroom a feng shui makeover in honor of Valentine’s Day, plus take stock of cleaning supplies, keep road salt out of the house and refresh walls with paint (and maybe some new art, too). These 10 to-dos can help you keep your home in top shape, even if the weather outside is still frightful.

1. Tune up the bedroom with feng shui. With Valentine’s Day this month, it seems like a good time to spruce up the bedroom. If you are in the market for new bedding, consider shades of pink and red to encourage romance. Rotating your mattress regularly will help prevent it from developing hills and valleys, which in feng shui can be seen as separating partners in the bed. While you’re moving mattresses around, have a peek underneath the bed — what’s hiding down there? In feng shui a clean area beneath the bed is best for relationships, so be sure to vacuum up dust bunnies and deal with hidden clutter.

2. Fluff pillows and duvets. Duvets and pillows looking flat? That’s because over time, air is pressed out of them, and the filling (whether down or synthetic) can shift and clump.
Some synthetic-filled pillows and duvets can be machine washed (check the labels for instructions), and even down-filled items can be fluffed up in a dryer on a no-heat setting. Toss a few tennis balls into the dryer with your duvet to help it regain maximum fluffiness.
3. Clean up road salt from entrances. If the winters are chilly where you live, you know how grimy road salt and melted snow can leave your floors, especially in high-traffic areas. After giving these areas a thorough cleaning, stow your supplies nearby so it’s easy to sweep floors regularly.
4. Clean seat cushion covers. Like floors, entryway seat cushions can take a beating at this time of year. Take off removable covers and launder them; spot clean upholstery.
5. Tidy and restock cleaning supplies. Get prepped for spring cleaning by sorting out your cleaning supplies. Toss products you tried that didn’t work and fill in gaps with fresh cleaning supplies and tools. Look over your dish towels, mop heads and microfiber cleaning rags, and replace them as needed.
6. Rotate art and touch up walls. Give your home a winter wake-up call by swapping out a few pieces of artwork, patching dings in the walls and touching up paint.
Make rearranging your collection easier in the future by installing a few narrow shelves around the house, like the one shown here.
7. Recycle e-waste. Old tech devices, CFL bulbs, ink and toner cartridges, and batteries contain dangerous toxins and cannot be tossed in with your other garbage or recycling. Store up your e-waste in one place and take it to a recycling center that accepts these items. Some office supply stores, like Staples, have free e-waste recycling programs — just drop everything off at your local store, and you’re done.
8. Change furnace filters. A clean furnace filter will help your heating system work more efficiently and trap more dust and allergens. Most high-efficiency filters should be changed every three months — but it helps to inspect them every month, just to be sure.
9. Spruce up your favorite reading nook. This is a good time to get cozy with a book. Spruce up your reading corner with a warm throw, a soft rug and a comfy ottoman to put your feet on. And if you find yourself stuck in the house on a snowy afternoon, why not spend it organizing your books?
10. Plan your summer vacation now.




Don’t-Miss Home Tax Breaks

January 18, 2014

By: Dona DeZube        

Published: January 10, 2013

From the mortgage interest deduction to energy tax credits, here are the tax tips you need to get a jump on your returns.

Mortgage interest deduction Private mortgage insurance deduction Prepaid interest deduction Energy tax credits Vacation or second home tax deductions Home buyer tax credit repayment Property tax deduction

Mortgage interest deduction

One of the neatest deductions itemizing home owners can take advantage of is the mortgage interest deduction, which you claim on Schedule A. To get the mortgage interest deduction, your mortgage must be secured by your home — and your home can even be a house trailer or boat, as long as you can sleep in it, cook in it, and it has a toilet.

Interest you pay on a mortgage of up to $1 million — or $500,000 if you’re married filing separately — is deductible when you use the loan to buy, build, or improve your home.

If you take on another mortgage (including a second mortgage, home equity loan, or home equity line of credit) to improve your home or to buy or build a second home, that counts towards the $1 million limit.

If you use loans secured by your home for other things — like sending your kid to college — you can still deduct the interest on loans up $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately) because your home secures the loan.

PMI and FHA mortgage insurance premiums 

Helpfully, the government extended the mortgage insurance premium deduction through 2013. You can deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance as mortgage interest on Schedule A — meaning you must itemize your return. The change only applies to loans taken out in 2007 or later.

What’s PMI? If you have a mortgage but didn’t put down a fairly good-sized down payment (usually 20%), the lender requires the mortgage be insured. The premium on that insurance can be deducted, so long as your income is less than $100,000 (or $50,000 for married filing separately).

If your adjusted gross income is more than $100,000, your deduction is reduced by 10% for each $1,000 ($500 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return) that your adjusted gross income exceeds $100,000 ($50,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return). So, if you make $110,000 or more, you lose 100% of this deduction (10% x 10 = 100%).

Besides private mortgage insurance, there’s government insurance from FHA, VA, and the Rural Housing Service. Some of those premiums are paid at closing and deducting them is complicated. A tax adviser or tax software program can help you calculate this deduction. Also, the rules vary between the agencies.

Prepaid interest deduction

Prepaid interest (or points) you paid when you took out your mortgage is 100% deductible in the year you paid them along with other mortgage interest.
If you refinance your mortgage and use that money for home improvements, any points you pay are also deductible in the same year.
But if you refinance to get a better rate and term or to use the money for something other than home improvements, such as college tuition, you’ll need to deduct the points over the term of the loan. Say you refi for a 10-year term and pay $3,000 in points. You can deduct $300 per year for 10 years.
So what happens if you refi again down the road?
Example: Three years after your first refi, you refinance again. Using the $3,000 in points scenario above, you’ll have deducted $900 ($300 x 3 years) so far. That leaves $2,400, which you can deduct in full the year you complete your second refi. If you paid points for the new loan, the process starts again; you can deduct the points over the term of the loan. 
Home mortgage interest and points are reported on IRS Form 1098. You enter the combined amount on line 10 of Schedule A. If your 1098 form doesn’t indicate the points you paid, you should be able to confirm the amount by consulting your HUD-1 settement sheet. Then you record that amount on line 12 of Schedule A.

 Energy tax credits

The energy tax credit of up to a lifetime $500 had expired in 2011. But the Feds extended it for 2012 and 2013. If you upgraded one of the following systems this year, it’s an opportunity for a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability: If you get the $500 credit, you pay $500 less in taxes.

  • Biomass stoves
  • Heating, ventilation, air conditioning
  • Insulation
  • Roofs (metal and asphalt)
  • Water heaters (non-solar)
  • Windows, doors, and skylights
  • Storm windows and doors

Varying maximums

Some of the eligible products and systems are capped even lower than $500. New windows are capped at $200 — and not per window, but overall. Read about the fine print in order to claim your energy tax credit.

  • Determine if the system is eligible. Go to Energy Star’s website for detailed descriptions of what’s covered. And talk to your vendor.
  • The product or system must have been installed, not just contracted for, in the tax year you’ll be claiming it.
  • Save system receipts and manufacturer certifications. You’ll need them if the IRS asks for proof.
  • File IRS Form 5695 with the rest of your tax forms.

Vacation home tax deductions

The rules on tax deductions for vacation homes are complicated. Do yourself a favor and keep good records about how and when you use your vacation home.

  • If you’re the only one using your vacation home (you don’t rent it out for more than 14 days a year), you can deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes on Schedule A.
  • Rent your vacation home out for more than 14 days and use it yourself fewer than 15 days (or 10% of total rental days, whichever is greater), and it’s treated like a rental property. Those expenses get deducted using Schedule E.
  • Rent your home for part of the year and use it yourself for more than 14 days and you have to keep track of income, expenses, and divide them proportionate to how often you used and how often you rented the house.

Home buyer tax credit

There were federal first-time home buyer tax credits in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

  • If you claimed the home buyer tax credit for a purchase made after April 8, 2008, and before Jan. 1, 2009, you must  repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years, with no interest.
  • If you used the tax credit in  2009 or 2010 and then sold your house or stopped using it as your  primary residence, within 36 months of the purchase date, you also have  to pay back the credit. Example: If you bought a home in 2010 and sold in 2012, you pay it back with your 2012 taxes.
  • That repayment rules are less rigorous for uniformed service members, Foreign Service workers, and intelligence community workers who get sent on extended duty at least 50 miles from their principal residence.

Members of the armed forces who served overseas got an extra year to use the first-time home buyer tax credit.  If you were abroad for at least 90 days between Jan. 1, 2009, and April  30, 2010, and you bought your home by April 30, 2011, and closed the  deal by June 30, 2011, you can claim your first-time home buyer tax credit.

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe.

Property tax deduction

You can deduct on Schedule A the real estate property taxes you pay. If you have a mortgage with an escrow account, the amount of real estate property taxes you paid shows up on your annual escrow statement.

If you bought a house this year, check your HUD-1 Settlement statement to see if you paid any property taxes when you closed the purchase of your house. Those taxes are deductible on Schedule A, too.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice; tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

After a foreclosure how to own a home again

December 28, 2013

After a Foreclosure: How to Own a Home Again

swinging house and business man'...

By AJ Smith
If your home was foreclosed upon during the recent housing crash, you might think there’s no chance for you to ever own a home again. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Although lending standards are tighter than they were pre-recession, there are still a few steps you can take to put yourself on the path to homeownership again.
The biggest hit you’ll take after a foreclosure is to your credit score. You may see a drop anywhere from 100 to 300 points depending on your credit history. But a foreclosure only stays on your credit report for seven years and there’s a lot you can do in that time to improve your score.
Rebuilding Your Credit Score: The first thing you’ll want to focus on after a foreclosure is rebuilding your credit. There are lots of paid services out there that claim to boost your score. But there are many things those services do that you can actually do for yourself. Focus on paying all your bills on time to prove that you can be trusted with credit again.
Anytime there’s a negative action on your credit report (foreclosure, missed payment, etc.) your score is going to take a hit. The seven-year waiting period should give you sufficient time though to take corrective action so that you’ll be prepared for homeownership the next time around.
Adding Positive Events to Your Credit History: In order to show lenders that they should lend to you again, it’s important to take small steps here and there. In addition to paying your bills on time, ensure that you pay off past-due accounts and pay off any outstanding credit card bills. It’s important to have a low utilization rate on your credit report. A utilization rate of 10 percent or less is what consumers with the highest credit scores have.
Things like lowering your utilization and opening new lines of credit that you can manage responsibly go a long way to show lenders you’ve learned from past mistakes. If you want to track your progress as you work on your credit, the free Credit Report Card gives you a monthly snapshot of your credit scores and credit history.
Avoiding Another Foreclosure: Although a single foreclosure won’t be devastating to your finances, you’ll want to ensure that it never happens again. Here are some things to focus on to avoid a future foreclosure.
• Don’t buy more house than you can afford. Just because a lender will loan you a certain amount of money doesn’t mean you should borrow that much. You should determine how much you can afford and borrow no more than that. And don’t forget about the extras that go into buying a home like maintenance and repairs. These added costs will be on top of mortgage, property tax, insurance and HOA fees.
• Establish an emergency fund. One way to be better financially prepared is to start an emergency fund. Save three to 12 months of expenses so that if you lost your job or had some other life-changing event, you’d still be able to make your payments.
• Make a larger down payment. First, a larger down payment means you have more equity in your house, so you can meet refinance requirements faster (you have to have 80 percent equity generally to refinance). Second, it means you have lower monthly payments (compared to a smaller down payment on the same loan amount), so you can weather a job loss or income reduction more easily.
More about homebuying and foreclosure from Why You Should Check Your Credit Before Buying a Home

Understanding Your Foreclosure Rights: A Review How to Improve Your Credit Score
More on AOL Real Estate: Find out how to calculate mortgage payments. Find homes for sale in your area. Find foreclosures in your area. Find rental housing in your area.
Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebook.

10 Breathtaking Swimming Pools from the Down Under

December 22, 2013

Looking to put in a Swimming Pool this year? Here are some great ideas!

4 Questions To Surface the Best Neighborhood for You

December 8, 2013

I’m a bit of a logistics nerd when it comes to planning my days, even on the weekends. I try to pack my days to the gills with the projects and people I love, so I need things to run like clockwork, frictionlessly. I’m also a creature of habit, and pride myself on finding and working with the best local merchants.

So, it’s fortunate for me that I live in a neighborhood that is all about the call-ahead. My favorite brunch spot has an hour-long wait – unless you call ahead (FYI: day-of calls only, no reservations in advance, ask for Sam). Same with my nail lady and my tire guy.

They’re the best in town, so they’re very oversubscribed, but they give me VIP treatment because I’ve struck upon the VIP formula: long-time repeat business and calling ahead.

But I didn’t really know this when I moved here – it just so happened to work out that my neighborhood and I are a perfect match. (Don’t even get me started about the regional park down the street, where the rangers take – and post! – almost as many pictures of my pugs as I do.) Of course, this is my third home, and the neighborhoods I landed in on my first two tries were decidedly less well-matched to my lifestyle. They weren’t bad neighborhoods, by any means. Just nowhere near as delightful on a daily basis as my current digs.

When we house hunt, we spend so much time worrying about the basics, like home style, pricing and school district scores, that we don’t always notice the nuances that can differentiate a match made in heaven from something that’s decidedly more meh. If you’re in the process of vetting neighborhoods and want to optimize the match, here are 4 questions to ask yourself, your agent and your prospective neighbors:

1. What do people around here like to do in their spare time? I’m not suggesting that you need to be every-weekend running buddies with your new BFF next door. But if you run into the neighbors while you’re viewing a property, this can be a very revealing question to ask. It’ll help you get a feel for the general connectedness of people in the area. If no one you ask knows what anyone else likes to do, it might be the sort of place where people keep to themselves, which might or might not jive with the sort of lifestyle you’re hoping to build.

Even if people have very different interests, neighbors who talk to each other will know a little bit about each others’ interests. For example, I don’t spend a ton of time with my next door neighbors, and we are very different in age, ethnicity and household composition. But they know I go to yoga, dance a lot and walk my dogs on the regular. And I know they are active in their kids’ schools, run a catering side-business and have delightful-smelling extended family barbecues lots of weekends in the summertime.

If you ask even a few people in the area this question, you might even uncover hidden treasures within a short walk or drive from the property which would have taken you months or even years after closing to find on your own. Maybe there’s a little pocket park on the next street over, a Master’s swim club that meets early AMs at the neighborhood high school, a Baby Boot Camp that meets at a neighbor’s house or a series of cooking classes that meets in the back of the tiny grocery store on the corner. I’ve known buyers-to-be who found everything from their future photography buddies to their future deck-builders simply by getting friendly and chatty with their future neighbors while they were visiting and viewing a home.

2. What do you want your [your family’s] ecosystem to look and feel like? Get real with yourself about what you even want out of your neighborhood. I find it useful to think of your family or household as a living, multi-member, dynamic and ever-changing organism that will thrive in the right ecosystem.

That “right ecosystem” is your neighborhood.

If you are a busy career professional buying a home in a bedroom community of the urban area to which you commute, your biggest priorities might be convenience to the freeway, quiet, low-crime rates and neighbors who have just as much pride of ownership in their homes as you do. If you crave to be able to have your kids walk to school, walk to their extracurricular lessons and walk to their play dates with other kids who walk to the same school, that information will give you and your agent a great deal of direction to the neighborhoods that could be the right ecosystem for you – and a great deal of course-correction away from those that could never fit the bill.

Whether you see your just-right ecosystem as one that will allow you to keep bees and goats in the backyard or one that will allow you to hail a cab or get to the subway at any time of day or night, this question can help you get an actionable vision in place for finding the just-right neighborhood.

3. What do I need to know about this neighborhood that I’m not asking? What is not obvious? If you’re working with an agent who has experience in a neighborhood, they’re probably really good at breaking down the standard selling points about the area: great schools, great views, great local shops – that sort of thing. But when you’ve heard that basic briefing and you’re done getting your specific questions answered, I recommend that you ask your agent this open-ended question.

Throughout the course of your house hunt, your agent will get to know your personality and will get a feel for whether the flavor of person you are is a good fit with the flavor of the neighborhood. So asking them this open-ended question gives them a great opportunity to fill in the blanks in your understanding of the neighborhood based on what they know about both you and the neighborhood.

If your agent has a particularly long history working in that part of town, this question can also sometime serve as the little prompt that reminds them to give you deeper, more nuanced information than you might not get otherwise, like:
•sharing the colorful commentary about the past and present history and residents of the neighborhood
•connecting you with former clients who live there, and even
•telling you a deeper history of the home values in the neighborhood than might be evident from the comps, with the context of various homes they’ve worked with in the area over years and years.

4. Are there any common issues you frequently see with homes in this area? Inspectors know so much more information than they can ever put on a page, some of it comforting and some not. One thing they often know is how the geography, topography, soils, climate and environmental factors tend to impact homes in an area or even on a street over time.

For example, my town’s soils tend to be clay, not rock, and because clay expands and contracts with the weather, homes tend to get little settlement cracks and fall out of plumb over time. Up the hill from here, many of the homes have bridge driveways that span the gap from the hill to the home, and those need to be replaced every 20 or 30 years. And just up the street, homes tend to be very different and have different issues as they are mostly new construction that was built after a major fire a decade ago – compared with the 50 year old average age of homes at the bottom of the street.

Of course, by the time the average buyer talks to a home inspector, they’ve already tentatively settled on a neighborhood match. But occasionally, an inspector’s answers to this question can help you feel great about your choice. And on other, more rare occasions, their answers can help you get the right bids and improve your property preventively to avoid the area-specific issues that have caused nearby home owners to regret their choice of neighborhood.

Home Owners: How did you find the just-right neighborhood for you?

Agents: Beyond the basics, what neighborhood-finding questions do your clients find useful to help them pick the best match between two good neighborhoods?

ALL: What do you think separates a ‘good’ neighborhood match from a GREAT one?

FHA Mortgage Insurance goes up April 9th

March 24, 2012

I wanted to let you know that FHA upfront Mortgage insurance (UFMIP) increases from 1% to 1.75% of the    loan amount effective 4/9.  At the same time, the monthly MI will go up .10 bps.

Call me so we can look at homes, get your offer in and save a lot of money!  You do not have to be closed by April 9th, you just have to be under contract and have a FHA case number by then.

Below is a comparison of FHA purchase loan  before 4/1/12 or after 4/1/12. You will save a lot of money if you are under contract by 4/1/12.  Please see below for an idea of how much you can save!

If you purchase a home for $150,000 and your interest rate is 4% for 30 years:

 Before 4/1  P&I payment   $697.97  monthly mortgage insurance $138.72 with taxes and insurance total estimated payment of $1233.63

 After 4/1  P&I payment  $703.15 monthly mortgage insurance of $150.78 with taxes and

Insurance total estimated payment of $1250.87.

This is a monthly payment difference of $17.24 which doesn’t sound like much but over 30 years this would cost $6,206.00!!

 If you purchase a home for $200,000 and your interest rate is 4% for 30 years:

 Before 4/1   P&I payment $930.63 monthly mortgage insurance 184.96 with taxes and insurance total estimated payment of $1644.84.

 After 4/1  P&I payment of  $937.53 monthly mortgage insurance of 201.04 2ith taxes and insurance total estimated payment of $ $1667.82.

This is a monthly payment difference of $22.98.  Over a 30 year  period a cost of



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