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Showing posts from August, 2013

Find the "Right" Agent Before the "Right" Home

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It’s a common practice for buyers to make a list of what they want in a home during the search process and to explain it to their agent. However, maybe the first list they should make would have the skills they want their agent to have. The Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers identifies what buyers want most from their agents and as you’d expect, help with finding the right home was ranked highest most often. While it is important, it may not be the most unique of the desired area of expertise. Equally essential to the success of the transaction are the combination of help with price and terms negotiations and assistance with the paperwork, comparable sales, qualifying and financing. To summarize the responses in the survey, Buyers want help from their agents with two things: to find the right home and to get it at the right price and terms. Some agents are actually better equipped with tools and acquired knowledge to assist buyers with financial advice and negotiations. Since an owner…

A Home is More Than an Address

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A home is a place to call your own, raise your family, share with your friends and feel safe and secure. It is also one of the largest investments most people have. Leverage is the ability to control a larger asset with a smaller amount of cash through the use of borrowed funds. It has been described as using other people’s money to increase your yield and it applies to homeowners and investors alike. Positive leverage causes the yield to increase as the loan-to-value increases.  Even a modest amount of appreciation combined with the amortization of a loan can cause a substantial rate of return on the down payment and closing costs.Homes build equity as the price goes up due to appreciation and the unpaid balance goes down due to amortization. The example above indicates the yield on a home considering 3% acquisition costs on the home with a 4.5% mortgage rate and the resulting equity at the end of five years. The different down payments will affect the yield based on the leverage eff…

Get Regular Check-ups

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Following his heart surgery last week, after an issue was discovered during his annual physical, President George W. Bush encouraged everyone to get regular check-ups. Another important checkup that should be done on a regular basis and can be just as beneficial for your finances is an annual homeowner advisory. Why would you treat your investment in your home with less care than you treat your car or even your HVAC system? Consider investigating the following: • Know the value of your home by obtaining a list of comparable sales in your immediate area as well as what is currently on the market for sale. • Have you compared your assessed value for tax purposes to the fair market value in order to possibly reduce your property taxes? • Even if you’ve refinanced in the last two years, can you save money and recapture the cost of refinancing in the time you plan to remain in your home? • Have you considered reducing your mortgage debt with low-earning cash reserves that will not be neede…

Where Is It Invested?

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You’ve saved for a rainy day or retirement. Congratulations but don’t get too comfortable yet; where is it invested? It’s estimated that over 25% of Americans have their long-term savings in cash instead of investments like stocks, bonds or real estate. The memories of the financial crisis of 2008 are recent enough to understand why some people may want to avoid the stock market and real estate. Even though Wall Street and housing have rebounded considerably, uncertain investors are sitting on their cash. However, trying to avoid a bad decision can have serious costs too. If your money is not earning at least at the current inflation rate, you’re losing the purchasing power of your dollars. Bankrate.com estimates the average money-market deposit yields 0.11% and the average five-year certificate of deposit currently yields 0.78%. Rents are continuing to rise and there is a shortage of good, affordable housing. Single family homes have a significant advantage over many other types of i…