Saturday, January 30, 2010

Options for Avoiding Foreclosure

Home Affordable Refinancing
Many homeowners pay their mortgages on time but are not able to refinance to take advantage of today’s lower mortgage rates perhaps due to a decrease in the value of their home. A Home Affordable Refinance will help borrowers whose loans are held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac refinance into a more affordable mortgage.




Many homeowners are struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments perhaps because their interest rate has increased or they have less income. A Home Affordable Modification will provide them with mortgage payments they can afford.



Friday, January 29, 2010

How Long Should Appliances Last?

Replacing a home’s windows, appliances, or roofing can be pricey. So knowing approximately how long before the refrigerator is likely to stop working or the roof might spring a leak can have value to buyers and home owners.

If you are thinking about buying a home, you may want to factor in replacement costs for aging components when you make an offer. If you already own a home, this information can be helpful when trying to decide whether to replace a component before a move.

A recent study by the National Association of Home Builders provides some insight that can help you estimate the average useful life of more than 100 household appliances and building materials.

Of course, the actual longevity of any household material depends on maintenance, use, quality of installation, and climate conditions. So, these averages are only a general guide.

100 Years or More
Brick siding: Lifetime of the home
All wooden floors: Lifetime of the home
Cellulose insulation material: 100-plus years

50-100 Years
Slate, copper, and clay and concrete roofs: 50+ years
Copper gutters: 50+ years
Kitchen cabinets: Up to 50 years
Modified acrylic kitchen sinks: 50 years
Vinyl floors: 50 years

30-50 Years
Thermostats: 35 years
Wooden windows: 30 years
Wood shake roofs: 30 years
French interior doors: 30–50 years

10-20 Years
Built-in audio system: 20 years
Aluminum windows: 15–20 years
Asphalt shingle roofs: 20 years
Faucets, kitchen sinks: 15 years
Gas ranges: 15 years
Cultured marble countertops: 20 years
Dryers and refrigerators: 13 years
Air conditioning units: 10–15 years
Lighting controls: 10+ years
Interior and exterior paints: 15+ years
Electric or gas water heaters: 10 years
Air conditioners: 10–15 years
Furnaces: 15–20 years

5-10 Years
Security systems: 5–10 years
Heat and smoke detectors: 5–10 years
Dishwashers: 9 years
Microwave ovens: 9 years
Carpet: 8–10 years

Friday, January 22, 2010

Springtime Homebuying Off To An Early Start

The homebuying season has been moved up this year! The springtime spurt in home buying does not seem to be waiting for the snow to melt this year as buyers scramble to meet an April 30 tax credit deadline.

The spring buying season typically takes off in March and runs through May. But buyers who want to claim this year's tax credit — up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and up to $6,500 for repeat buyers — aren't wasting any time. They must have signed purchase contracts by April 30 and they have to complete the deal by June 30.

So, what are some important things to keep in mind?
  1. First of all, be prepared for the amount of time it will take to close a deal. The average time it takes to get a home loan processed is about eight weeks now — two weeks more than it used to be, according to the National Association of Realtors. As we get closer to the deadline, loan processors could get very busy. Plan accordingly. Don't wait until the last minute.

  2. Sellers should be prepared to appeal to first-time home buyers, who still make up the majority of buyers. Keep in mind that many first-time home buyers need assistance with their home purchase (i.e. help with closing costs/downpayments, help with significant maintenance issues).

  3. Buyers should expect rising prices in some markets. As activity increases, prices could potentially begin to increase.

Visit my website for more up-to-date real estate news.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is Your Identity Safe?

Here is important informaton you need to know… and you need to tell your family and friends right away!

Few people realize that each time their credit is checked, the information provided to the credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Innovis or Experian) immediately becomes a commodity that is sold not only to other lenders but also to companies that sell and resell the same names and personal information.

That’s right - the credit bureaus have found a way to increase their revenues at our expense, without our permission!

These "inquiry leads" include name, address, phone numbers (including unlisted), credit score, current debt and debt history, property information, age, gender and estimated income. They are marketing personal, confidential information to competing creditors and making millions. Our privacy is being sold, not just once, but over and over again.

Lenders that have purchased these leads at a premium will then do everything they can to recoup their investment and turn a profit. Often, bait and switch tactics are being used to lure buyers away from reputable lenders.

The good news is that you can help make it stop! The consumer credit reporting industry has provided a way for consumers to “opt out” or remove their name from these lists. You can contact them by phone at (888) 567-8688 or online at https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t.

You must opt out at least 48 hours prior to having your credit checked to make sure it is processed in time. You can choose a five year or lifetime option. The lifetime option does require a signed form.

Remember to call this number or go to this website BEFORE you begin shopping for mortgages to stop your name from being sold. If you are a real estate broker, be sure to share this information with your clients. You will be providing a great service to your buyers!!!

For more helpful Buyer Tips, visit my website at www.CristinaTheRealtor.com.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tax Credit Gets 2010 Off To a Great Start!

As we begin 2010, both real estate professionals and home buyers are "hitting the ground running" — anxious to take advantage of the extended and expanded home buyer tax credit.

Everyone I talk to in real estate is busier than usual for this time of the year. Buyers are anxious to make sure that they don't "miss the boat".

Originally created in 2008, the home-buyer tax credit has evolved from a $7,500 credit, which had to be repaid by the home buyer over the course of 15 years, to an $8,000 tax credit with no repayment required in 2009. Now, for a limited time in 2010, the $8,000 home buyer tax credit will still be available to first-time home buyers and certain current homeowners will also be eligible for a $6,500 credit.

Under the extended home buyer tax credit, as long as a written binding contract to purchase a home is in effect on April 30, 2010, and the deal is closed by July 1, 2010, one can claim the credit.

For current homeowners purchasing a home it is important to point out that the existing home does not need to be sold. One must, however, occupy the new home as a principal residence and do so for three years or risk recapture of the credit. Also, the new home does not need to cost more than the old home despite the concept that it is directed at “move up” buyers.

To better understand the extended and expanded home buyer tax credit, click here for more highlights of the changes.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

As you begin to prepare for "tax time" don't forget about the energy efficient tax credits that may be available to you.

If you purchase an energy-efficient product or renewable energy system for your home, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit. Most products are eligible for tax credits at 30% of the cost, up to a total credit of $1,500 and must be "placed in service" between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010. Tax credits are also available for some vehicle purchases.

Click here for an overview of the federal tax credits for energy efficiency.

To Claim Your Tax Credit:

  • Claim improvements made in 2009 on your 2009 taxes, filed by April 15, 2010.
  • Use the 2009 version of IRS Tax Form 5695
  • Save your receipts and the Manufacturer Certification Statement for your records.

See the ENERGY STAR FAQ for more information on tax credit amounts.