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What's the Point?

by John Riggins

What's the Point?

Prepaid interest, sometimes called “points”, is generally tax deductible when a person pays them in connection with buying, building or improving their principal residence.  When points are paid on a refinance, they are not a current deduction but have to be taken prorata over the life of the mortgage.DEDUCTIBILITY.png

For instance, if $3,000 in points were paid on refinancing a 30 year mortgage, a deduction of $100 per year is allowed.  When the loan is paid off or replaced by refinancing again or the home is sold and the mortgage paid off from the proceeds, the balance of any un-deducted points may be taken in that tax year.

Your tax professional needs to be made aware of any of these situations so that he or she can accurately reflect the deductions in your return.  Currently, the most common situation is homeowners may be refinancing their home for the second, third or even, fourth time. If there are points that have not been completely deducted, they need to be treated in the year of refinancing.

For more information, see points in IRS Publication 936; there is a section on Refinancing in this publication. For advice considering your specific situation, contact your tax professional.

 

How's Your IQ on the QM?

by John Riggins

How's Your IQ on the QM?  
 

Qualifying Guidelines.pngThe Qualified Mortgage Rule came into effect on January 14, 2014 as one of the results to the Dodd Frank Reform Act to protect consumers from predatory lending practices.  This will affect the underwriting standards that the majority of lenders will use to qualify borrowers.

The ability to repay rule states that financial information must be supplied by the borrower and verified by the lender.  The borrower must have sufficient assets or income to pay back the loan which limits the maximum debt-to-income ratio of 43%.  In an effort to present a more accurate picture of the costs to the borrower, teaser rates can no longer hide a mortgage’s true cost.

A maximum of 3% in upfront points and fees can be paid on behalf of the borrower.  There can be no negative amortization, interest-only or balloon payments and the loan term limit cannot exceed 30 years.

While there are more requirements, most deal with good underwriting practices that are followed by reputable lenders such as considering and verifying things that affect the ability to repay the mortgage like income, assets, employment status, simultaneous loans, debt, alimony, child support and credit history.

Every Homeowner Needs One

by John Riggins

Every Homeowner Needs One

water meter key.jpgA water meter key is like insurance; buy it before you need it.

Imagine a pipe has burst and there is water flowing like a river through your home.  There may a cut-off valve to each sink if it works and if that’s where the leak is coming from. Your home may have a master cut-off valve but if you haven't used it before, you might not know where it is. The last resort is to cut off all the water to your house at the meter.

In most cases, you'll need a key to get into the meter.  With water starting to rise in your home, concern over the damage being done may add to your anxieties.  You don’t have time to call a plumber or even go the store to buy a water meter key.

Emergencies are handled much better when you plan for them in advance and practice, even though you hope you’ll never need it.

1. Determine what kind of key you need to open your water meter. 
2. Purchase it at the home improvement or hardware store. 
3. Practice opening the meter to be able to do it quickly and easily. 
4. If your meter key doesn’t have a wrench on one end, you need a wrench to turn the water valve. 
5. Practice turning the water off just to see how it works and feels. 
6. Put the key in an obvious and conspicuous place. 
7. Have the phone number of an emergency plumber, just in case you need it.

While you’re planning for the unexpected, it might be a good idea to show some of the other family members how it works and where you keep the key.

Reasonable Expectations

by John Riggins

fortune cookie2.pngCoffee should be hot. Beer should be cold. Mexican food should be spicy.  However, if these things are less than the standard that you expect, there are not any lasting consequences.

Reasonable Expectations

As the value of the object in question rises, either in price or gravity, the expectations usually increase and decisions become progressively more important.  Marriage, children, health and careers are certainly a few of the more important items that bear careful consideration.

The sale of the largest asset that most people own, their home, also merits having reasonable expectations.  A homeowner should expect to get the market value for their home in a reasonable period of time with as few inconveniences as possible.

According to the latest Home Buyers and Sellers Survey, more homeowners are entrusting the sale of their home to real estate professionals.  Owners can increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome by sharing their expectations with agents prior to listing their home for sale.

Challenge your agent to explain what they intend to do to:

  • Price the home correctly
  • Prepare the home to make a good impression
  • Position the home in the marketplace

It is reasonable for a seller to expect the agent will work hard to sell the home; will tell the truth and represent the client’s interests to the best of their ability.  Agents exemplify remarkable service when they when they exceed the seller’s expectations.

Rate/Payment Relationship

by John Riggins

Rate/Payment Relationship

Rate Payment Relationship 2 small.pngA ½% increase in interest rate may not sound like much but it is roughly equivalent to a 5% increase in price.  It becomes obvious when you compare the payments.

If you financed 100% of the cost of a $250,000 home at 4.5% interest for 30 years, the payment would be $1,266.71 per month.  If the mortgage rate went up to 5%, the payment would be $1,342.05.  If the home increased 5% in value, the $262,250 loan at the lower 4.5% rate would have payments of $1,330.05.

The two payments are close enough to justify the statement that a ½% change in interest is approximately equal to 5% change in price.

Each time interest rates go up, fewer people can qualify to buy a seller’s home.  The mortgage rules that went into effect this year require buyers to meet specific payment to income ratios.  As demand picks up for the seasonal market, most experts expect rates to increase.

Buyers will be doubly challenged in the current market because prices are rising (NAR reports 11% last year) along with the anticipated mortgage rates.  Buyers who wait will inevitably be paying more to live in the same home had they acted sooner.

Check out on how Interest Affects Price for a home in your price range.

Interviewing a Mover

by John Riggins

Interviewing a Mover

Mover 250.jpg“I’d wish I’d know that before I made a decision.”  If you’ve ever regrettably said this to yourself, having a checklist might have prevented the issue in the first place.  This list of questions can provide you with things to discuss when interviewing a moving company.

Fees

  • What is the charge for packing?
  • Does it include boxes? If not, what do they cost and will you deliver them?
  • Is there an additional charge to deliver some items to a storage unit?

Insurance

  • How is a damage claim handled? 
  • What insurance do you provide and is there a cost? 
  • Does the insurance cover items packed by the owner? 
  • Can additional insurance be purchased? 
  • If items are covered by my Homeowner’s insurance, whose insurance pays first?

Unusual Items 

  • Can you ship my car(s)? Will they be in the moving van or towed? 
  • What are the charges for shipping cars, lawn tractors, etc? 
  • What items cannot be shipped? 
  • If a shuttle truck is needed because of the location of my house or size of the drive way, is there an additional charge? 
  • If packing and loading are on different days, can you leave the beds and other basics out for us to use?

Dates 

  • What dates are available for our move?
  • What date will you pack and how long will this take? 
  • What date will you load the van? 
  • What date will the van arrive at my new location? 
  • If my new home is not ready for delivery, how many days can it be delayed before there is a charge? 
  • What is the charge for additional days or weeks?

Terms 

  • Are there any additional fees that I’m responsible for that have not been discussed? 
  • What are the terms of payment? 
  • Is a down payment required? 
  • When will the balance be due and who is authorized to accept it?

 

What Can You Expect?

by John Riggins

What Can You Expect?

crystal ball 2.pngThe two most frequently quoted constants in life are death and taxes.  Two more things would-be homeowners can expect in the near future are increases in mortgage rates and housing prices.

Interest rates have been kept artificially low for several years by the Federal Reserve in an effort to strengthen the economy. Policy is shifting to allow them to seek their own natural level and that will surely result in higher mortgage rates.  Rates on 30 year fixed mortgages are up over 1% from January, 2013.

Foreclosure activity is down, new home starts are up and prices have been increasing in most markets for two years.  Most experts agree that the cost of housing is going up.

If the price were to go up by 2% and the mortgage rate by 1% while a buyer is “sitting on the fence” making a decision, the payment would go up by almost $175.00 each and every month for the term of the mortgage.  Even if a person can afford to make the higher payments, what could they have done with that extra $175.00 a month?  Buy furniture?  Car payment?  Principal reduction?  Retirement contribution?  Save for a rainy day?

Click here to determine what the cost of waiting to buy will be using your price home.

cost of waiting to buy.png 

Refinance to Remove a Person

by John Riggins

refinance 250.jpgRefinance to Remove a Person

Most people are familiar with the various reasons a homeowner refinances their home which generally result in two major benefits: saving interest and building equity. 

There is however another reason to refinance which may not be as common which is to remove a person from the loan. In the case of a divorce, when one party wants to keep the home and the other party wants their equity out of the home, it is possible for the remaining party to refinance the home. If the equity is sufficient to justify it and the remaining owner can qualify for the new loan, the refinance can provide the proceeds to buy out the other spouse.

Refinancing to remove a person from the loan could also involve a situation where two or more heirs jointly own a property and have differing opinions on when to sell. The same situation could apply to a rental property with multiple owners and the refinance would provide a way to buy out a partner.

Sometimes, it’s not about taking cash out of the home to buy out the other party. If a person’s name is on the mortgage, they’re responsible if it goes to default. One party may be willing to deed the home to the other party but it doesn’t necessarily relieve them of the liability of the mortgage they originated.

Many times, once a person has made their mind to move on, they’ll take the fastest and easiest way out. Removing a person from the deed or a mortgage is a reason to consider obtaining legal advice to protect your interests. Refinance Analysis calculator.

Reasons to Refinance

1. Lower the rate 
2. Shorten the term 
3. Take cash out of the equity 
4. Combine loans 
5. Remove a person from a loan

Who's Paying Your Mortgage?

by John Riggins

Who's Paying Your Mortgage? 
 

who is paying your mortgageAs a homeowner, you obviously pay for your mortgage but as an investor, your tenant does.  Equity build-up is a significant benefit of mortgaged rental property.  As the investor collects rent and pays expenses, the principal amount of the loan is reduced which increases the equity in the property.  Over time, the tenant pays for the property to the benefit of the investor.

Equity build-up occurs with normal amortization as the loan is paid down.  It can be accelerated by making additional contributions to the principal each month along with the normal payment.  Some investors consider this a good use of the cash flows because interest rates on savings accounts and certificates of deposits are much lower than their mortgage rate.

In the example below, is a hypothetical rental with a purchase price of $125,000 with 80% loan-to-value mortgage at 4.5% for 30 years compared to a 3.5% for 15 years.  The acquisition costs were estimated at $3,000, the monthly rent is estimated at $1,250 and $4,800 for operating expenses. 

11-11-2013 7-42-16 AM.png

Notice that both properties have a positive cash flow before tax.  The cash on cash return is the revenue less expenses including debt service divided by the initial investment to acquire the property.  The 15 year mortgage will obviously have a smaller cash flow and lower cash on cash but the equity build-up is significantly higher.

If the goal of the investor is to pay off the property to provide the highest possible cash flow at a later date, a shorter term mortgage with a lower interest rate will help them achieve that.  A simple definition of an investment is to put away today so you’ll have more tomorrow.  Sacrificing cash flow now, during an investor’s earning years, is a reasonable expectation to provide more cash flow in the future when it might be needed more.

Contact me if you’d like to explore rental property opportunities.

All Dollars Not Equal

by John Riggins

home money.jpgAll Dollars Not Equal

The division of assets between the spouses is an important decision to finalize a divorce.  The exercise looks relatively simple: assign a value for each of the assets and divide them based on a mutual agreement between the parties.

The challenge is to make a fair division which requires an analysis to determine their value after they’re converted to cash.

Assume the two major assets in the example, a retirement account and the equity in the home, are equal at $100,000.  It might seem logical to give the home to one spouse and the retirement account to the other.  However, if the person receiving the home decides to sell the home, the net proceeds could be considerably less than the spouse receiving the retirement account.

Let’s pretend that the spouse with the home negotiates a lower price of $475,000 due to current market conditions.  The former couple had owned the home for many years and refinanced several times, pulling money out of the home each time.  When the remaining spouse sells the home, there could be a considerable gain that was never recognized.

As a single person, he or she is now only entitled to $250,000 exclusion and would have to pay tax on the excess gain.  After paying the sales costs, outstanding mortgage balance and the taxes due on the gain, the remaining spouse would have net proceeds of $24,375 compared to the $100,000 that the former spouse received in the settlement.

The message in an example like this is to examine and consider the potential expenses that may be involved with converting the assets to cash after the divorce. Obviously, expert tax advice is valuable in making such decisions.
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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 19

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