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Displaying blog entries 201-210 of 256

Sale by Surviving Spouse

by John Riggins

 

Sale by Surviving Spouse

The IRS has given special consideration regarding the sale of their jointly-owned principal residence after the death of a spouse. If the surviving spouse does not remarry prior to the sale of the home, they may qualify to exclude up to $500,000 of gain instead of the $250,000 exclusion for single people.

  •  

  • The sale needs to take place after 2008 and no more than two years after the date of death of the spouse
  • Surviving spouse must not have remarried
  • Both spouses must have used the home as their principal residences for two of the last five years prior to the death
  • Both spouses must have owned the home for two of the last five years prior to the death
  • Neither spouse may have excluded gain from the sale of another principal residence during the last two years prior to the death

If you have been widowed in the last two years and have gain in your principal residence, it would be worth investigating the possibilities. Contact your tax professional for advice about your specific situation. Contact me to find out what your home is worth in today's market. See IRS Publication 523 - surviving spouse.

YOU MUST BE THIS TALL TO RIDE

by John Riggins

 

You Must Be This Tall to Ride

Do you remember going to the State Fair or Six Flags as a child? There was a terrific ride your older siblings were going on but there, at the entrance gate, was a sign that read "You must be this tall to ride."

After standing in line and thinking you had just about made it, you found out that you weren't tall enough. Not only was it disappointing, it was slightly embarrassing. You never want to go through that again.

It's remarkably similar when buying a home. You can go through the entire property search process to find the right home and negotiate the contract only to find out that you don't measure up "financially." It's something that no one wants to go through if they have a choice.

Regardless of what you think you know, if you're buying a home, you need to physically visit with a trusted mortgage professional before you get serious. You'll find out your credit score which will directly affect the mortgage rate you'll pay. You'll discover possible blemishes on your credit that may be able to be corrected. You'll even get a pre-approval letter that you can submit with an offer which could dramatically affect your negotiations.

Remember how some rides didn't turn out to be as good as you thought they were going to be? You certainly don't want that disappointment with a lender involving one of the biggest decisions of your life. Contact me for a list of trusted mortgage professionals.

Keep Track of Improvements

by John Riggins

 

Keep Track of Improvements

People are staying longer in their homes according to the National Association of Realtors and the U.S. Census. Over time, even a modest appreciation could result in a significant gain and homeowners should have a strategy to minimize possible taxes.

Maintenance on a principal residence is not deductible but improvements can add to the basis which can reduce the gain in the sale. Improvements are easily identified if they add to the value of a home, prolong its useful life or adapt it to new uses.

Receipts and other proof, such as pictures, should be kept during ownership and for several years after the sale of the home. They can include the closing statements from the purchase and sale of the home and all receipts for improvements, additions or other items that affect the home's adjusted basis or cost.

For a principal residence, basis includes the price paid, plus certain acquisition costs and capital improvements made. When the property is sold for more than the basis, there is a gain. Currently, homeowners that meet the requirements can exclude up to $250,000 of gain if single or up to $500,000 if married filing jointly.

A simple strategy is to put documents that affect the basis of the home in one envelope. Any receipt for money spent on the home that isn't the house payment or utilities, goes into the envelope. Your tax advisor will be able to sort through them to determine the capital improvements.

For more information on determining basis or capital improvements, see IRS publication 523, Selling Your Home.

Where does my money Go?

by John Riggins

 

With the exception of a mortgage payment, the largest homeowner expense is utilities; and energy is the major component. There are lots of contributing factors such as air leaks, insulation, heating and cooling equipment, water heaters and lighting.

It's estimated that 75% of the electricity to power home electronics is consumed when the products are turned off. Computers, monitors, TVs, cable and satellite boxes, DVRs and power adaptors are spinning your electric meter even when they're not being used.

Unplugging devices can actually make a difference in the size of your electric bill. Plugging several of these offenders into a power strip with a single on/off switch may make the task easier. Most computers have options to put them into sleep mode or even turn off when not in use.

Take 3 1/2 minutes and watch Energy 101. Consider hiring a professional home energy auditor or do-it-yourself. The Department of Energy has a checklist with some valuable suggestions.

Print this and keep in your car for emergencies

by John Riggins

 

Subject: Print this and keep in your car for emergencies
4 Things you might not have known about your Cell Phone
For all the folks with cell phones. (This should be printed and kept in your
car, purse, and wallet. Good information to have with you.)
There are a few things that can be done in times of grave emergencies.

Your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for
survival.
Check out the things that you can do with it:

FIRST (Emergency)

The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out
of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an Emergency, dial
112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the
emergency number for you, and interestingly, this number 112 can be dialed
even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

SECOND (Hidden Battery Power)

Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#.
Your cell phone will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show
a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge
your cell phone next time.

THIRD (How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone? )
To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following Digits on
your phone:
*#06# .
A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your
handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe.

If your phone is stolen, you can phone your service provider and give them
this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief
changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't
get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't
use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in
people stealing mobile phones.

And Finally....

FOURTH (Free Directory Service for Cells)

Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411
information calls when they don't have to. Most of us do not carry a
telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of
a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial:
(800) FREE411 or (800) 373-3411
without incurring any charge at all. Program this into your cell phone now.
This is sponsored by McDonalds. 

Converting a Home to a Rental

by John Riggins

 

What's keeping you from taking advantage of the low prices and mortgage rates available today? Concerned that you may need to sell in a few years and won't be able to get your equity out of your home?

Suppose a buyer purchases a home and finds out that they need to move in two years. Instead of selling the home, they could convert it to a rental. It's possible that it could have a positive cash flow even with the small down payment. In most cases, the conversion would not accelerate the mortgage.

The price of homes and low interest rates combined with a very strong rental market in most areas has attracted a lot of investors. Non-owner occupied mortgages generally require 20-30% down payment compared to a 3.5% down payment for a FHA owner occupant.

The following example looks at a home that might have been purchased as a principal residence and then converted to a rental at the end of two years. There are certainly lots of variables to consider but the high indicated rate of return merits closer examination of the possibilities.

For the buyer who has good credit and ample funds for down payment and acquisition costs, there may never be as good a time to buy a home as now. For the buyer who is concerned that they might have to move in the near future, converting it to a rental might make a great investment opportunity.

 

Competing with Cash

by John Riggins

It's not fair! 29% of all sales made in June and July 2011 were cash. How does a buyer who needs a mortgage compete with a cash buyer?

You've been looking for a home for months after thinking about it for years. You've found the home you want and meets your family's needs. You write a contract but before it's even presented to the seller, another offer comes in. With all the homes on the market, you'd think you wouldn't have to deal with multiple offers but you'd be surprised how many times it does happen.

There are some proven strategies that can minimize the advantage of an all-cash buyer.

  1. Get pre-approved and submit the letter from the lender with the offer
  2. Move fast to minimize competing with other offers
  3. Submit larger than normal earnest money to show your sincerity
  4. Be flexible about closing and possession
  5. Avoid unnecessary contingencies in the contract
  6. Write a letter emotionalizing why you want the home

Significant Problems

by John Riggins

"The significant problems you face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking you were at when you created them." Albert Einstein

The housing market has definitely caused significant problems for some people but is also providing some amazing opportunities for others. Agents aren't like retailers who wake up one day realizing they have the wrong merchandise on the shelves.

Everyone needs a place to live and whether you rent or buy, you pay for the house you occupy. While the home for sale remains the same, the methods that produce results have to change.

Listing agents are diametrically opposed to the objectives of buyer's agents. This is not to say that there cannot be a win-win situation but each agentis trying to negotiate the best price and best terms for their client.

Financing can make listings more marketable and structure a transaction to provide the buyer with the cheapest cost of housing. Personal experience is a great teacher but a very expensive way to learn. An expert, like a Residential Finance Consultant can provide information and tools to make better decisions to be able to profit in the current market.

Silent Killer

by John Riggins

Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless and toxic. It's called the "silent killer" in homes because some victims are not even aware that the deadly condition exists.

Homeowners must be concerned about unmaintained furnaces, water heaters and appliances that can produce the deadly gas. Other sources could include leaking chimneys, unvented kerosene or gas space heaters and even exhaust from cars operating in an attached garage.

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests the following to reduce exposure in the home:

  • Keep gas appliances properly adjusted
  • Install and use an exhaust fan vented to the outdoors over gas stoves
  • Open flues when fireplaces are in use
  • Do not idle car inside garage
  • Have a trained professional inspect, clean and tune-up central heating systems annually
There can be many symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning that can resemble other types of poisoning. Headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and feelings of weakness or fatigue are a few of the most common symptoms. Lower levels of exposure may be mistaken for the flu.
Roughly half the states have laws regarding carbon monoxide detectors in homes. Regardless of the requirements, what person would want to put their family, guests or themselves at risk for something so deadly? The devices can be purchased for as little as $20 and plugged into the wall like a night light.

More to Sell

by John Riggins

If you had a 3.5% mortgage on your current home and were buying another home, transferring your low interest rate mortgage would be ideal. Unfortunately, lenders don't allow that.

When buying a home today, it would be smart to think about selling it in the future. To have a good home with unique features makes it marketable. To have attractive financing that could be assumed would add to the salability.

Consider getting a FHA or VA loan to purchase your home. The present advantages are that these loans are priced competitively and a little easier to qualify for than conventional loans. The future advantage is that FHA and VA loans are assumable at the original note rate for qualifying buyers.

There's more to sell than the home itself when you have an assumable loan. The mortgage payment could lower the cost of housing significantly. A buyer may easily be willing to pay more for the home due to the attractive financing, especially if it helps their equity grow faster.

Displaying blog entries 201-210 of 256

Contact Information

Photo of John Riggins REALTOR RB11175 Real Estate
John Riggins REALTOR RB11175
John Riggins Real Estate
1003 Bishop Street, suite 2700
Honolulu HI 96813
808.523.7653
808.341.0737
Fax: 888.369.3210