“Mise en Place” for Homebuying


In cooking, “mise en place” describes having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, as well as bowls, utensils and pans ready to use before you begin cooking.  The advantage is to inventory the ingredients and recognize if you have everything you need.  You are less likely to leave out an ingredient or step because it is “set up” and ready to use.

The same technique works well in the homebuying process, especially in today’s highly competitive environment where multiple offers are normal and bidding wars are commonplace.

Check your credit … not only does credit determine if you will get a mortgage, but it will also determine the interest rate you’ll pay.  The best rates are for the borrowers with the best credit; lower credit scores mean higher rates because of additional risk to the lender.  Free copies are available from all three major credit bureaus at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

Determine your budget … knowing your income and immediate living expenses will give you a feel for what you can afford but you also need to know what big-ticket expenses are in the future and how much you should be saving for them.  Lenders use debt to income ratios to qualify borrowers, but it may be more than the buyers feel comfortable with.  This is good information to discuss with your mortgage professional.

Meet with a mortgage banker … their job is to get borrowers approved and instead of using calculators on a website, a trusted, experienced mortgage professional can look at your credit, make suggestions if it can be improved, run verifications on income, assets and liabilities and suggest loan programs to benefit your specific situation.  They can even provide a pre-approval letter and phone verification that may be the tipping point to negotiating a successful contract with a seller.

Initial investment … The down payment and closing costs are related to the type of mortgage, which is generally, dependent of how much of the buyer’s savings is available.  The down payment can range between zero and 20%.  Mortgage insurance is necessary on most loans if the down payment is less than 20%.  Buyer’s normal closing costs range between two to five percent of the mortgage.

Costs of homeownership – Most mortgage payments include the principal and interest plus 1/12 the annual property taxes and insurance plus mortgage insurance if required.  Other expenses that will be incurred by the homeowner include maintenance, HOA dues, utilities, upkeep and replacement of equipment and appliances.

Process and timeline … people tend to feel more comfortable when they understand the process of buying a home and the length of time it takes for the different steps.  Your real estate agent will be able to provide this information to you based on the type of mortgage and local market conditions.

Know the numbers … being familiar with the basic statistics makes planning and even, negotiation easier to predict.  Important data, relative to the type of property you are buying, includes the current supply of homes for sale, days on market, sales price to list price ratio, and percent of cash sales in your price range.  This is another area that your real estate professional can be very helpful.

Must-have features … the concept of a “dream home” is more myth than reality.  People rarely get everything they want even when they are building a home.  Especially, in a highly competitive market with rapidly increasing prices, buyers should create a list of their “must have” and “nice to have” features and amenities.  This can be helpful when you are determining whether to write a contract on a home.

Build your team … buying a home is like an athletic team.  By selecting the best “players” for each position, you will have a much better chance for a successful sale and a satisfactory transaction.  Your real estate agent is in a unique position to guide you through the entire process and recommend trusted professionals for each job that needs to be done. 

An excellent meal includes fresh, good food, the right ingredients, superb preparation, and execution.  Whether you are following a recipe or doing it from memory, each step is important and affects the outcome.  The same is true for buying a home.  Get everything together before you start looking at homes.

For more information on buying a home, download our Buyers Guide.

Before you pay cash for a home


Before you pay cash for a home

Before you pay cash for a home, ask yourself if there is a possibility, at some point in the future, you might put a mortgage on the home and would want to deduct the mortgage interest on your federal tax return.

Current federal tax law allows homeowners to deduct the interest on up to $750,000 in acquisition debt used to buy, build or improve a property.  When a person pays cash for a home, the acquisition debt is zero.  The only way to increase the acquisition debt is to make and finance the improvements to the home.

As with many IRS regulations, there are exceptions to this rule.  If a mortgage is secured on the first or second home within 90 days of the purchase closing, the debt is considered acquisition debt.  The interest on the funds used to purchase the home can be deducted on up to $750,000 of the mortgage balance.

Assuming a borrower has good credit, the ability to repay the loan and the home justifies the loan, lenders are willing to make mortgages for homeowners.  It does not mean that the interest on the mortgage will be deductible.

Additional information can be found in Publication 936, Home Mortgage Interest Deduction, of the Internal Revenue Service at IRS.gov.

To deduct home mortgage interest, you must file Form 1040 or 1040-SR and itemize deductions on Schedule A.  The mortgage must be secured debt on a qualified home in which you have an ownership interest.  Interest on home equity loans is only deductible if the borrowed funds are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan.

If you answered yes or even maybe to the question first posed in this article, contact your tax professional to determine the best way to approach your individual situation.  For more information, download the Homeowners Tax Guide.

Optimize Your Sales Price


Optimize Your Sales Price

Doing a lot of work to a car before you trade or sell it to a dealer is not generally a good idea.  In most cases, you won’t recapture the cost of the repairs.  They can do the repairs for a less than you can.  Not to mention, you are selling to a wholesaler who needs to sell it again to the end user and still make a profit.

A home sale is totally different.  The owner is selling the home to an end user.  Since the buyer, in many cases, is using their available funds for the down payment and purchase costs, they don’t have money to spend on repairs or decorating the home.  They would need to live in it “as is” for a while which may not be as appealing as finding a home that is refurbished, up-to-date, and ready to move into.

Even if the buyer would be willing to get a home improvement loan after the sale, it would be a separate loan at a higher interest rate making their payment higher than financing it all in one mortgage at the lower first mortgage rates.

The seller may experience some inconvenience going through the remodeling process, but it will, most likely, result in a higher sales price in less time.  Occasionally, sellers say they’ll let the buyer choose their own colors but not all people have the imagination to know what something will look like after it is finished.  It is better to go ahead and get the work done before putting it on the market.

The bathrooms and kitchen are the most important rooms to update.  If the finish on the cabinets is bad, have them painted.  New countertops and appliances can make a world of difference.  Paint, countertops, and fixtures in the bath give the home a great feel.

In addition to the repairs, a major cleaning and decluttering can make a home look and feel better than the competition.

The first step is to go through the home and pack up or get rid of things you don’t need or things that detract from the home like excess furniture, exercise equipment, personal artwork, etc.  Now, do the same with the closets and cabinets.  By getting rid of things, there will be more room and they’ll look larger.

Next, walk across the street from your house and give it a critical look.  How is the drive-up appeal?  Would you want to go inside to see the rest if you were a buyer?  Are the trees and shrubs trimmed?  Yard cleaned up?  Do you have blooming flowers in the beds?  Does the front door and mailbox need a new coat of paint?  Do you need to power wash the outside of the home and the sidewalks and driveway? Do the windows need washing?

Buyers are visual people and beauty is always rewarded.  Restaurants know that people eat with their eyes first and they go to a lot of effort to plate the food so it is visually appealing.  The same approach works for selling a home.  Ask your agent if they have ever taken a buyer to a home that refused to go inside because they didn’t like the looks from the street.

I, as your real estate professional can make specific recommendations and assist you in finding someone to do the work.  This is what I do.  TRUST me!

Would you Move if it was to your Advantage?

A much-repeated investment strategy is to buy low and sell high.  Some people who purchased around the financial crisis of 2010-2012 are poised to make considerable profits.

The median home price in America is now $295,300 up from $155,600 in February 2012 which calculates close to an 8% annual increase.  The median equity that homeowners have earned during the same period is $140,000.

Inventory is in short supply while demand is high which has caused prices to increase.  Factors that continue to contribute to the lower number of homes on the market are record low mortgage rates and housing starts have not met expectations since the Great Recession.  This year, people spending more time at home due to the pandemic has caused some people to rethink their current living space which has added to the demand.

Some experts believe that a significant portion of the workforce will continue to work from home after the pandemic has passed making the motivation for a larger home more of a long-term effect.

The median days on the market for a listing is 24 which is a direct result of the low inventory and heightened competition.  Sold homes are receiving an average of three offers with some situations ending in a bidding war.  This is an advantage for a seller who can not only realize a higher sales price but also accelerate a move into another home.

While the pandemic has certainly wreaked havoc on some businesses like the hospitality industry, real estate has continued to boom. Seven out of ten sales contracts are closing on-time which can give sellers a great deal of confidence.

Taxpayers can exclude up to $500,000 of qualified gain if they are married and up to $250,000 if single.  Some homeowners are taking the profit from their homes while at the top of the market, reserving part of their equity for investments, and purchasing another home with a higher loan-to-value mortgage at the incredibly low mortgage rates now available.

If you’re curious to see if this might work for you, contact me at (719)  251-1272 to find out what your home is worth now and what homes are available that may fit your lifestyle better.  Download our Sellers Guide.

It’s Worth Digging a Little Deeper

There are hundreds of thousands of people who believe, for one reason or another, they cannot afford to buy a home currently.  Some people  may not for any number of reasons but it would be very surprising to know how many who can buy but have gotten some bad information along the way.  It’s worth digging a little deeper to find out the facts.

John and Karen have been renting a home for the last five years at $2,000 a month.  During that time, the value of the home they were renting went up by $30,000 in value while the unpaid balance decreased by $18, 400.  Even though they were fortunate enough the rent remained constant over the five years, they missed out on close to $50,000 of equity that the owner realized instead of them.

Another thing to consider with today’s low interest rates, it is quite common for a mortgage payment to be lower than a tenant is paying rent for a similar property.  So, in this example, John & Karen paid more to rent than a house payment would have been and missed out on the equity build-up that occurred due to appreciation and amortization.

The simple fact is when tenants like John and Karen pay their rent, the landlord is the beneficiary of the rent received as well as the equity earned.  Over time, the rent paid by John and Karen and other tenants will pay for the landlord’s rental.  It a great concept and a good investment.

True, not everyone can afford a home.  A buyer needs money for a down payment and closing costs.   They also need to have income and good credit to qualify for the mortgage.  Some of these may seem insurmountable but instead of imagining that buying a home is not in the cards at the current time, talking to a real estate professional is a better route to take.

There are lots of low-down payment mortgages available including 100% financing for qualified veterans and USDA eligible buyers.  It is sometimes more difficult to find sellers willing to pay all or part of a buyers closing costs when inventory is low, but lenders do allow it.  It is a matter of finding the willing seller.

The source of the down payment could be a gift from a family member as long as there is no repayment expected.  It’s amazing how many parents or grandparents might be willing to help a relative get into a home.  Funds for a down payment may be available as loans or withdrawals from qualified retirement programs like IRAs or 401k plans.  It’s worth investigating based on what retirement programs you have.

Good credit is necessary to qualify for a loan but buyers should not assume that theirs is not adequate.  A trusted mortgage professional can assess a situation and may be able to suggest some things that will not only raise the score enough to be approved but possibly, even raise the score enough to qualify for a better interest rate.

There are a lot of misunderstandings about whether a person can or cannot qualify for a home at this time.  Instead of relying on second hand information or something that might be floating around on the Internet, spend some time with a real estate professional who can give you the facts, assess your situation and if necessary, point you in the right direction to get help from a trusted mortgage professional.  Call (719) 547-8135 to schedule an appointment where we’ll help you dig deeper to determine whether you can buy a home now.

Download our Buyers Guide to give you more information.

Is a Home Equity Loan an Option?

Here’s the scenario: you have a project and need to borrow some money, but you want to do it in the most economic manner. You’ve got a low rate on your existing first mortgage and don’t want to do a cash-out refinance and pay a higher rate. Is a home equity loan an option?

Prior to 2018, homeowners could have up to $100,000 of home equity debt and deduct the interest on their personal tax return. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the homeequity deduction unless the money is used for capital improvements.

Regardless of the deductibility, lenders will still loan money to owners who have equity in their home and good credit. The most common reasons people borrow against their home equity are:
•Consolidate debt with higher interest rates
•Make improvements on their home
•Refinance an existing home equity line of credit
•Down payment for another home or rental investment
•Creating reserves or available access for potential needs

One available loan is a fixed-rate home equity loan, commonly referred to as a second mortgage. It is usually funded at one time, with amortized payments for terms that could range from five to fifteen years.

Another option is a home equity line of credit or HELOC, where a homeowner is approved for up to a certain amount at a floating-rate over a ten-year period. The borrower can draw against the amount as needed and would pay interest every month and eventually, pay down the principal.

The amount of money that can be borrowed is determined by the equity. Lenders generally will not exceed 80% of the value of the home. If a home was worth $400,000, the 80% ceiling would be $320,000. If the homeowner had an unpaid balance on their first loan of $240,000, an amount up to $80,000 would be possible.

The next variable is the borrowers’ credit score which will determine the rate of interest that will be charged. The higher the score, the lower the rate the borrower will pay. And the converse is true, the lower the score, the higher the rate.

Another common variable considered is the borrowers’ total debt to income ratio. Ideally, the combination of regular monthly debt payments should not exceed 43% of their monthly gross income.

If you have good credit and an adequate amount of equity, your home could be the source of the funds you need. There is a lot of competition among lenders and shopping around can make a difference.

Call us at (719) 547-8135 for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional. If you have questions about whether the interest on the loan will be deductible, talk to your tax professional.

#FoodieFriday: Butternut Squash Noodles with Ground Turkey

Ready to try it!

Ava Shae

Happy Friday All!

I recently tried this meal, and it is my absolute favorite at the moment! Not only does it require minimal ingredients, but it takes 30 minutes maximum to make! Check it out below.

IMG_2506.jpgWhat you need:

2 containers of Green Giant Veggie Spirals Butternut Squash

16 ounces of 93% Lean Ground Turkey

2 Cups of Spinach

Onion Salt

Garlic Powder

Pepper

Italian Seasoning

IMG_2502.jpgWhat You Do:

First, throw your veggie spirals in the microwave for roughly 5 minutes. That way, they are fully defrosted and cooked before you add them to your dish!

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Next, turn stove on medium-high heat. Add your turkey and all of the seasonings listed above to a skillet.  For the seasonings, I added between 1-2 tablespoons of everything! Now, let your turkey brown.

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After your meat is cooked, added both packages of veggie spirals into your pan. Mix  with the meat before adding…

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#MotivationMonday: October Challenge

Perfect way to keep the stress and weight down during the colder months!

Ava Shae

Happy October 1st All!

I thought for this #motivationmonday, I would shake things up and introduce an October Healthy Habits Challenge! My favorite thing about fall is its great movie watching, hot chocolate sippin’ weather! Though, with colder weather, I find it harder to drink water, midterms disrupt my sleep schedule, and I forget to focus on my overall health.

I wanted to use this challenge as a way for me to develop and stick to some healthy habits regarding food, sleep, and a little bit of self-care. I am hoping this will help with my stress levels and combat the flu (in addition to my flu shot!)! I am planning on tracking my progress each day by writing down objectives I have met in a notebook!

Let’s get started, shall we?

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 10.52.32 PM.pngBedtime Abs: x3 Rounds

20 Sit-ups

15 V-ups

20 Russian Twists

10 Leg Lifts

15 Heel Touches

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