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Buy, Buy, Buy

October 2, 2023

How to Buy Your First Home as an Investment and Retire Rich

As young people enter the full-time workforce and begin to think about living on their own, it may not seem practical or wise to consider buying a home.  However, it may be a pivotal decision for your financial security and future retirement.

Rents are going to increase based on the shortage of rental units needed for the demand of the market.  Buying a home is a way to control those costs and even provide income by converting it to a rental as you decide to move up into another home.

There is an advantage to buying a home before a person gets married, starts a family, and has their standard of living at a higher pace.  Their expenses are lower, and it is easier to not only qualify for a loan but possibly, take advantage of programs for down payment assistance, grants, or other options like gift funds or co-signers.

Purchasing a home is a significant financial decision, particularly for first-time homebuyers. However, there are several benefits to buying a home early in your career, even if it is not your dream home.

One of the most significant benefits of buying a home as an investment is that it can help you build equity. Equity is the difference between the value of your home and the amount you owe on your mortgage. As your home’s value increases, so does your equity. This can be a valuable asset in the future, as you can use it to finance other investments or retirement expenses.

Another benefit of buying a home as an investment is that it can generate passive income. If you rent out a room or two in your home, you can use the rent to help cover your mortgage payments and other expenses. This can free up your disposable income to invest in other areas, such as your retirement savings.

Of course, there are some risks associated with buying a home as an investment. The value of your home may not always increase, and you may have to deal with unexpected expenses, such as repairs or maintenance. However, the potential benefits of homeownership can outweigh the risks, particularly if you are strategic about your investment.

When choosing a home to purchase as an investment, it is important to consider the location. A home in a desirable area that is likely to appreciate in value over time is a wise investment. It is also important to consider the size of the home. A home with three or four bedrooms will be easier to rent than a property with less.

The strategy can be as simple as:

  1. Buy a house when you enter the workforce and take on paying roommates.  Declare the income on your income tax.
  2. It doesn’t have to be the perfect home, but it does need to be a good home in a good area.
  3. Never sell the home; instead, convert it to a rental when you move up in the near future as your income goes up.

If you have young adult children who would benefit from this advice, please share it with them along with our Buyer’s Guide.  If they would like to learn more specifics, we would love the opportunity to meet with them.

The Best Planning & Marketing Pays Off

October 2, 2023

Proven techniques to shorten your market time

Are you in a hurry to sell your house? Whether it’s due to relocation or a desire to streamline the selling process, selling your home quickly doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With extensive experience in assisting homeowners, our expert team has identified three key strategies that can help secure a fast and favorable sale. Let’s explore these techniques in detail.

Maximizing the appeal of your home is key to generating interest from potential buyers. Take the time to clean, declutter, and depersonalize your space before listing it. By storing away family photos and neatly packing your belongings into boxes, you create a blank canvas that allows buyers to envision themselves in the space. Consider hiring a professional cleaner to ensure your home is in impeccable condition. A pristine presentation will entice buyers to submit attractive offers promptly.

Don’t let minor repair issues become obstacles during negotiations. Prior to listing your house, proactively take care of any small repairs that may arise. Fix faulty light sockets, replace worn-out door handles, and address other minor issues that could potentially delay the sales process. By resolving these matters upfront, you can facilitate a smoother inspection and negotiation phase.

To expedite the sale while maintaining a favorable asking price, consider providing incentives to potential buyers. This strategy can greatly enhance buyer motivation. Explore options such as covering closing costs, offering an interest rate buydown, a repair allowance, or including essential appliances as part of the sale. By offering enticing incentives, you’ll likely attract buyers who are willing to expedite the closing process, even if it means paying a higher price.

For homeowners looking to sell their property quickly, employing these three effective strategies can significantly expedite the sale without compromising the final sales price. By preparing the home meticulously, addressing minor repairs proactively, and offering appealing incentives to potential buyers, sellers can create an enticing package that encourages prompt and attractive offers. Collaborating with an experienced real estate agent further enhances the chances of a smooth and successful transaction. Embrace these strategies today to pave the way for a swift and favorable home sale.

For more information, download our Seller’s Guide. If you have any questions regarding these techniques or any other aspect of the selling process, reach out to me and we’ll talk.

Home Equity

October 2, 2023

Tips to Achieve Your Full Potential Equity

The real estate market is constantly evolving, presenting homeowners with challenges in determining the accurate value of their properties. In today’s era of rapid fluctuations, it is essential to equip yourself with the right knowledge and tools to make informed pricing decisions. There are three crucial factors to consider when assessing your home’s worth.

Online estimators offer a convenient starting point for obtaining a rough estimate of your home’s value. While they may not provide pinpoint accuracy, these tools, readily available on reputable real estate agents’ websites and portals, can provide a general idea of where your property stands in the market.

Traditionally, real estate professionals would consider comparative home sales data from the past six months. However, the current market volatility demands a shift towards using more recent comps. Notably, 2022 and 2023 witnessed a significant doubling of mortgage interest rates within a six-month span, causing home prices to respond accordingly. To ensure accurate pricing, it is crucial to work with a seasoned real estate agent who can identify and leverage the most recent comparable sales.

While research and analysis are valuable, nothing compares to the expertise of a professional real estate team. Their experience and training enable them to price your home accurately from the outset. A skilled agent can identify the key amenities and upgrades that will yield the highest return on investment, as well as develop a tailored marketing plan to outshine competitors.

Evaluating the obvious and the subtle differences between your home and the comparable sales can make the difference in achieving your full potential equity in the least market time with the fewest deterrents or not.

In the ever-changing real estate market, determining your home’s value requires a multifaceted approach. By utilizing reliable online tools, considering recent comps, and collaborating with an experienced real estate team, you can confidently navigate the dynamic market and price your home appropriately. If you have any questions or need assistance with real estate matters, please feel free to reach out to me. I am here to serve as your dedicated resource for all your real estate needs.

Home Appreciation

October 2, 2023

How Appreciation and Amortization Benefit Homeowners

Owning a home is not only a place to live but also a valuable asset that can contribute to long-term wealth accumulation. Two key factors that play a vital role in increasing a homeowner’s wealth are appreciation and amortization. Understanding how these factors work can provide homeowners with insights into building substantial financial equity over time.

Appreciation refers to the increase in the value of a property over time. Real estate markets tend to experience appreciation in the long run, although it can fluctuate in the short term. This appreciation can significantly benefit homeowners’ wealth accumulation in several ways.

As a property appreciates, the homeowner’s equity, which is the difference between the property value and the mortgage balance, increases. This equity serves as an asset that can be leveraged for future financial endeavors.

Capital Gains: When homeowners decide to sell their property, the appreciation becomes recognizable. The difference between the purchase price and the selling price results in a capital gain, which can be taxed at favorable rates. Homeowners benefit from an exclusion of up to $500,000 of capital gain for married taxpayers filing jointly.  If the gains exceed the exclusion, they are taxed at a lower capital gains rate.

Amortization refers to the gradual repayment of a mortgage loan over time. It is facilitated through monthly mortgage payments, which consist of both principal and interest. With each mortgage payment, a portion goes towards reducing the principal balance of the loan. This reduction in debt increases the homeowner’s equity in the property, effectively building wealth over time.

Amortization acts as a form of forced savings. Homeowners are essentially paying themselves by building equity with each payment, rather than paying rent to a landlord. As the mortgage balance decreases, homeowners gain ownership of a more significant portion of the property, leading to increased wealth.

As equity grows, homeowners can access it through home equity loans or lines of credit, allowing them to invest in other ventures or make home improvements that can further enhance the value of their property.

Understanding the dynamics of appreciation and amortization is crucial for homeowners looking to accumulate wealth through their real estate investments whether it be a home or a rental. Appreciation allows for capital gains and the growth of equity, while amortization steadily reduces debt and builds equity over time. By leveraging these two factors effectively, homeowners can secure their financial future and take advantage of the long-term wealth-building potential of homeownership.

Take Inventory Often

October 2, 2023

Protect your belongings with a Home Inventory

As a homeowner, you invest time and money into creating a comfortable and secure living space for you and your loved ones. However, unforeseen events such as natural disasters or burglaries can occur, resulting in the loss of your personal belongings. To protect your investment, it’s crucial to create a home inventory of your personal belongings. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of having a home inventory and how to construct one.

Benefits of a Home Inventory

  • Insurance Claims: In case of a natural disaster or burglary, a home inventory can be used to file an insurance claim for lost or stolen items. Having a detailed inventory will help expedite the claim process and ensure you receive the full value of your lost belongings.
  • Estate Planning: A home inventory can also be used for estate planning purposes. It can help identify and distribute personal belongings to heirs or beneficiaries in the event of your passing.
  • Peace of Mind: Knowing that you have a detailed inventory of your personal belongings can provide peace of mind. It ensures that you are aware of what you own and can help you prioritize what to protect in case of an emergency.

How to Construct a Home Inventory

  • Start with a List: Begin by creating a list of all your personal belongings. This list should include items such as electronics, furniture, jewelry, and artwork.
  • Document the Details: Once you have a list, document the details of each item. This should include the make and model, serial number, purchase date, and purchase price. For high-value items such as jewelry and artwork, consider including photographs.
  • Organize Your Inventory: Keep your home inventory organized and easily accessible. Consider storing it in a safe or secure digital location, such as cloud storage or a password-protected computer.
  • Update Your Inventory: Review and update your inventory regularly. This should include adding new items as you acquire them, removing items you no longer own, and updating the details of existing items.

In conclusion, creating a home inventory of your personal belongings is a smart and practical way to protect your investment as a homeowner. It provides peace of mind, helps with insurance claims and estate planning, and ensures you are aware of what you own. By following these simple steps, you can easily construct a home inventory and safeguard your personal belongings.

If you’d like some more tips and forms to use, download our Home Inventory.

Property Taxes

October 2, 2023

Understanding How Homeowner’s Property Taxes are Calculated

Property taxes are an essential part of homeownership, but understanding how they are calculated can feel like unraveling a complex puzzle. However, by unlocking the secrets of property tax calculation, homeowners can gain valuable insights into their tax obligations and make more informed financial decisions. In this article, we will demystify the property tax calculation process, providing homeowners with a comprehensive understanding of the factors involved.

Understanding Assessed Value – The first piece of the property tax puzzle is the assessed value of your home. Assessed value refers to the value assigned to your property by the local taxing authority for tax purposes. It is typically determined by professional assessors who consider various factors such as property size, location, improvements, and recent sales of comparable properties. Understanding how assessed value is determined is crucial, as it forms the foundation for calculating your property tax.

Individual states will adjust and publish the assessed value for the upcoming year.  This is usually done in advance of the tax rates being set by the different tax authorities.  The property owner will be notified of the valuation and may challenge it.  Reasons that could affect the valuation include material mistakes like square footage or others, the deteriorated condition of the property, comparable sales not known to the assessor, and other possible things.

In the assessment notification, there will be timelines for challenging, as well as specific information on the different remedies that may be available.

Knowing the Tax Rate – Once your home’s assessed value is established, the next step is to determine the tax rate which is set by local taxing authorities, which can be multiple ones like city, county, school, hospital, and other special districts. The rate is expressed as a percentage of the assessed value. Tax rates can vary from one jurisdiction to another, and they are often determined based on the needs of the local government to fund public services and infrastructure projects.

The tax rate usually varies annually and even if the property valuation goes up, it doesn’t mean that the property taxes for that year will necessarily be higher.

Accounting for Exemptions and Deductions – Many jurisdictions offer property tax exemptions and deductions that can help reduce your tax liability. Common examples include homestead exemptions, which provide tax relief to homeowners who use the property as their primary residence, and exemptions for senior citizens, veterans, or individuals with disabilities. These exemptions can significantly reduce the amount of property tax you owe. It’s crucial to research and understand the available exemptions in your area to maximize your tax savings.

There may be deadlines for qualifying for a particular exemption for a particular tax year.

Performing the Calculation – Now that we have the assessed value and tax rate, let’s put the pieces together and calculate your property tax. Multiply your home’s assessed value by the tax rate (expressed as a percentage) to determine the preliminary tax amount. For example, if your assessed value is $400,000 and the tax rate is 19.6%, your preliminary tax would be $7800. Remember to consider any exemptions or deductions you are eligible for, as they will directly impact your final tax amount.

Anticipating Changes and Planning Ahead – Property taxes are not static, and they can change over time. Factors such as reassessments, improvements, changes in tax rates, or modifications to exemptions can influence your future tax bills. Staying informed about potential changes and planning can help you anticipate and manage fluctuations in your property tax obligations. Keep an eye on local tax policies, attend public hearings, and consult with local tax authorities or professionals to stay ahead of any potential changes that may impact your finances.

Conclusion – Understanding the secrets of property tax calculation empowers homeowners to make informed decisions and better manage their finances. By following this step-by-step guide, you can gain clarity on the factors involved in property tax calculation, such as assessed value, tax rates, and exemptions. Your real estate professional can be a resource to help you understand the process and provide comparable sales data and other recommendations.

Real Estate is the best Investment

October 2, 2023

Retirement Dreams to Reality with Rental Properties

Planning for a comfortable and secure retirement is a priority for many individuals. While traditional investment options like stocks and bonds play a crucial role, there’s another avenue that holds great potential, rental real estate. Let’s explore the 12 key benefits of investing in rental real estate for retirement, shedding light on why it is a smart strategy to consider.

Steady Passive Income – Rental real estate offers a consistent stream of passive income, providing a reliable source of cash flow during your retirement years. This income can serve as a supplement to other retirement funds, ensuring financial stability and peace of mind.

Inflation Hedge – Rental income has the unique advantage of increasing with inflation. As living costs rise, rental prices can be adjusted accordingly, safeguarding your purchasing power, and allowing you to maintain your desired lifestyle.

Potential for Appreciation – Investing in rental properties allows you to benefit from potential long-term capital appreciation. Over time, your properties can increase in value, presenting the opportunity for substantial gains and a higher return on investment.

Tax Benefits – One of the significant advantages of rental real estate is the array of tax benefits available to investors. Deductions for property expenses, mortgage interest, and depreciation can help lower your annual tax liability, effectively maximizing your income in retirement.  Tax deferred exchanges and favorable long-term capital gains rates are also significant advantages.

Diversification – Including rental properties in your investment portfolio provides diversification, reducing the risk associated with relying solely on traditional investments. Real estate often performs independently of the stock market, adding a valuable layer of stability to your retirement plan.

Tangible Asset – Unlike intangible investments, rental real estate is a tangible asset that you can see and touch. Owning physical properties provides a sense of security, especially during turbulent economic times, and serves as a valuable asset that can be refinanced without triggering tax on the mortgage proceeds.

Equity Buildup – As tenants pay down the mortgage on your rental property, your equity in the property increases. By the time you retire, you can have a significant amount of equity built up, offering a potential source of additional retirement income through refinancing, selling, or leveraging that equity.

Control Over Investment – Investing in rental real estate grants you control over your investment. You can make decisions regarding property management, rental rates, and property improvements, allowing you to align your investment strategy with your retirement goals and preferences.

Downsizing Options – Rental property investments provide flexibility and options for downsizing in retirement. If you own multiple properties, you have the choice to sell some and generate income while simplifying your responsibilities as a landlord.  Another option could be to sell your personal home, take the capital gain exclusion, reinvest the proceeds for more retirement income, and move into one of your current, smaller rentals.

Legacy Building – Rental real estate offers a unique opportunity to create a lasting legacy. You can pass down your property to your heirs, with the tax advantage of a step up in basis, providing them with a valuable inheritance and potentially securing their financial future.

Ability to Leverage – Investing in rental properties allows you to leverage your investment. By utilizing financing options, you can multiply your returns, potentially amplifying your wealth accumulation and retirement income.

Flexibility – Rental real estate offers flexibility throughout retirement. You have the freedom to adapt your investment strategy to match your changing lifestyle and financial goals. Whether it’s adjusting rental rates, exploring different property types, or exploring new markets, you can customize your approach to maximize your returns.

Investing in rental real estate for retirement can unlock a range of benefits that contribute to financial security, steady income, and a comfortable lifestyle. From passive income to potential appreciation, tax advantages to legacy building, rental properties offer a path to a blissful retirement. By carefully considering the advantages discussed, you can make informed decisions investing in real estate for your retirement.

Download our Rental Income Properties guide.  If you want more information, and your agent is not familiar with rental investments, we would love to work with you to better understand the opportunities.

Buy as much Real Estate as you can

October 2, 2023

The Best Rental Property Strategy for Beginners

Getting started on the road to rental investments is generally the most difficult obstacle for people without 25-30% down payment.  That is where buying the property as an owner occupant can be a huge advantage.

The first example would be to buy a home to live in with a minimum FHA down payment of 3.5%.  If you find the right seller, they may even participate in paying part of your closing costs.  This type of loan requires that you live in it, which if it is a single-family property, means you won’t be able to rent it while you are living in it.

There is no set period but after living in the property for a while, say a year or so, you buy another single-family home to live in but instead of selling this home, you rent it.  With rents as high as they are currently, it will probably even have a positive cash flow.

The rub may be in putting together another down payment and closing costs to acquire the second property.  There is no physical limit to how often FHA will allow this if there is a legitimate reason for moving like closer to work or family, better floorplan, safer area, or others.

FHA allows a buyer to buy up to a four-unit building on an owner-occupied loan if they live in one unit.  While the buyer may not have the income to qualify for the payment on a four-unit, the lender will consider the rents to be received from the other units.

In this type of situation, the cash flow from each of the three units could reduce the amount needed to pay for the portion of the home you occupy. FHA, VA, and Conventional all allow for owner-occupied financing for up to four units.

Multi-unit acquisitions build the portfolio faster, but the problem is that local zoning laws may have restricted them to certain areas.  Some cities may have duplexes but not three and four-unit properties.  Properties with more than four units are not eligible for owner-occupied financing.

This approach could allow a person or couple to put together a sizable group of rentals with a minimum amount of down payment within a few years.  Interestingly, after investors have several properties, their equities grow to allow them to buy others and financing becomes easier because lenders are more confident with experienced investors.

The contrast to this approach is for a person or couple to buy a home to live in and as they start spending money on decorating and fixing it up, the ability to qualify for investment properties becomes more difficult.

To find out more about this type of strategy to acquire rental properties, contact your real estate professional.  You can also download our Rental Income Properties.

Homeownership is too important to pass up

October 2, 2023

The Top 5 Benefits of Owning a Home

Purchasing a home can feel like an overwhelming project, but the long-term advantages of homeownership make it a smart investment to secure your future where the benefits extend beyond simply having a place to live.

Building equity is one of the most significant advantages of owning a home. As you make mortgage payments, your equity increases, and over time, your home can become a valuable asset to use the equity to finance home improvements, pay for college tuition, or even as a down payment on a second home.

Two factors determine equity; the home going up in value and the unpaid balance of the mortgage being paid down.  Appreciation is the increase in value expressed in an annual amount.  Homes have averaged 4% nationally for the past 50 years.  Amortization is the systematic principal reduction that occurs with each house payment made.

Another advantage of buying a house is the stability of housing costs. With a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly principal and interest payments remain the same for the life of the loan, giving you predictable and stable housing costs. This can help in your financial planning.

Control over your living space is also a significant benefit of owning a home. You can make changes and improvements to your home to suit your needs and preferences without having to get permission from a landlord. This can help you create a space that truly feels like your own and can contribute to your overall sense of well-being and satisfaction.

Finally, homeownership also offers several tax benefits that can contribute to long-term financial savings. You may benefit from itemizing deductions for interest and property taxes that would exceed a person’s normal standard deduction.  Regardless of which deduction a homeowner takes, additional tax advantages apply to home ownership like an exclusion of up to $500,000 of capital gain for married, filing jointly taxpayers and $250,000 for single filers who meet the occupancy and use requirement.  

The long-term advantages of buying a house are significant, including building equity, stable housing costs, potential appreciation, control over your living space, and tax benefits. Although the process of purchasing a home can seem overwhelming, the benefits of homeownership make it worth considering. Ensure that you do your research, get pre-approved for a mortgage, and work with a qualified real estate agent to find the right home for your needs and budget.

For more information, download our Buyers Guide and Homeowners Tax Guide.

Find the Right Agent

October 2, 2023

Talking Points to Identify an Agent

Having a list of questions and concerns prepared before meeting with a real estate agent can be incredibly valuable in guiding the conversation and helping you make an informed decision about who will represent you in the sale of your home. Whether you’re a first-time seller or it has been a while since you last sold a property, asking these questions can reveal important information about the experience and expertise of your candidate.

Even if you already have a trusted friend who is in the Real Estate business, it’s still appropriate to understand how different issues will be handled. A true professional should not feel challenged to discuss these important concerns.

  1. Tell me about your experience and training.
  2. Do you work in real estate full-time, or do you do it as a hobby?
  3. Are you a REALTOR� and a member of MLS?
  4. What is the average price of the homes you have sold and how many did you sell last year?
  5. Which neighborhoods do you primarily work?
  6. How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood?
  7. What is your list price to sales price ratio?
  8. How many buyers and sellers are you currently working with?
  9. Tell me about the positives and negatives of my home.
  10. How will market preparation and staging affect my sales?
  11. Describe your marketing plan for my home and if you will use outside professionals.
  12. Specifically address Internet exposure, open houses, and showings.
  13. Describe how you’ll keep me informed all along the way.
  14. Will I work directly with you or with team members?
  15. Can you provide me with three recent references?

It’s important to note that price was not included in the list of talking points. As the seller, you ultimately set the price, but the market and the buyer will determine the value. The agent can advise you about the proper range that will ensure activity and ultimately affect your final proceeds. This advice should be based on facts that are available to all agents as well as prospective buyers and appraisers.

In other words, the decision to list your home with a particular agent and company should never be based on the listing price suggested by a prospective agent. Trust a reputable agent to provide sound advice and guidance throughout the selling process.  You may find more helpful information in our Sellers Guide.

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