Moving Tips

Following these suggestions can make a move go more smoothly.

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Understanding Reverse Mortgages

Reverse mortgage loans are like traditional mortgages that permits homeowners to borrow money using their home as collateral while retaining title to the property.  Reverse mortgage loans don’t require monthly payments.

The loan is due and payable when the borrower no longer lives in the home or dies, whichever comes first.  Since no payments are made, interest and fees earned are added to the loan balance each month causing an increasing unpaid balance.  Homeowners are required to pay property taxes, insurance and maintain the home, as their principal residence, in good condition.

Reverse mortgages provide older Americans including Baby Boomers access to their home’s equity. Borrowers can use their equity to renovate their homes, eliminate personal debt, pay medical expenses or supplement their income with reverse mortgage funds.

Homeowners are required to be 62 years and older and meet the following requirements:

*          Own the home free and clear or owe very little on the current mortgage that can be paid off with the proceeds

*          Live in the home as their primary residence

*          Be current on all taxes, insurance, and association dues and all federal debt

*          Prove they can keep up with the home’s maintenance and repairs

Payouts are based on the age of the youngest spouse. The younger the age, the less money can be borrowed. Reverse mortgages offer two terms … a fixed rate or variable rate. Fixed rate HECMs have one interest rate and one lump sum payment. Variable rate loans offer multiple payout options:

*          Equal monthly payouts

*          A line of credit with access until the funds are gone

*          Combined line of credit and fixed monthly payments for a specified term

*          Combined line of credit and fixed monthly payments for the life of the loan

Traditional reverse mortgages, also called Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, HECM, are insured by FHA. There are no income limitations or requirements and the loan funds may be used for any purpose. The borrower must attend a counseling session about the HECM, its risk, benefits, and how much can be borrowed. The final loan amount is based on borrower’s age and home value. FHA HECMs require upfront and annual mortgage insurance premiums but can be wrapped into the loan.

Proprietary HECM loans are not federally insured. Lenders create their own terms, including allowing loan amounts higher than the FHA maximum. Proprietary HECMs don’t require mortgage insurance (upfront or monthly), which may result in more funds available. Proprietary reverse mortgages typically have higher interest rates than FHA HECMs.

Advantages

*          Create a steady stream of income during retirement

*          The proceeds aren’t taxed or risk borrower’s Social Security payments

*          Title and rights to the home are retained by the homeowner

*          Monthly payments are not required

Disadvantages

*          The loan balance increases over time rather than decreases as with an amortizing loan

*          The loan balance may exceed the property value eliminating inheritance

*          The fees may be higher than traditional mortgage loans

*          Any absence of the home for longer than 6 months for non-medical or 12 months for medical reasons makes the loan due and payable

More information is available about reverse mortgages from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau <https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-a-reverse-mortgage-en-224/>  or Federal Trade Commission <https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0192-reverse-mortgages>  or HUD.gov <https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/housing/sfh/hecm/hecmhome> .

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VA loan limits removed

Veterans are no longer restricted to a loan limit beginning January 1, 2020.
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An Investment Perspective on a Home

Looking for an investment that will turn $10,000 into $80,000 in seven years?  Sound too good to be true?  What if I told you that you could live in it every day during that seven years?  Would that sound even better?

A $300,000 home purchased today on an FHA loan would have a $10,500 down payment.  If it appreciated at 2% annually, which is less than  the U.S. average, the future value of the home would be $344,606 in seven years.  The unpaid balance on the loan would be $256,350 based on normal amortization which would make the equity in the home $88,256.

The annual compound rate of return on the down payment would be 35%.  This number sounds so large, that you might start doubting the credibility of this example.

Looking at some alternative investments, a ten-year Treasury note is currently paying 1.73%.  You can earn 2.1% on a ten-year certificate of deposit.  If you could handle the volatility of the stock market and pick the right stock, you might earn 7-10%. 

There really is no alternative investment that can earn the return that an owner-occupied home can offer while giving you the ability to live and enjoy the home during the holding period.

Even if you could find an investment that paid a good return, when you realize the gain, you’ll be required to pay income tax, either at long-term capital gains rates or ordinary income.  However, a person who has lived in a home for at least two of the last five years can exclude up to $250,000 of gain from their income if they are single and up to $500,000 of gain if the owners are married, filing jointly.

A home can certainly be a place of your own to feel safe and secure, to raise your family, share with friends and build memories.  A home could be considered an emotional investment and one that pays big dividends.  A home is also a financial investment not just for the reasons mentioned above but also because the equity can be accessed by doing a cash-out refinance or a home equity line of credit.

See what your investment might look like by using the Rent vs. Own and giving us a call at (320) 762-7106.

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Understanding the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Mortgage interest paid on your principal residence is deductible today as it was in 1913 when 16th amendment allowed personal income tax.  The 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act reduced the maximum amount of acquisition debt from $1,000,000 to $750,000.

Acquisition debt is the amount of debt used to buy, build or improve a principal residence, up to the maximum amount.  A common misunderstanding among taxpayers is that you are entitled to that much debt even if you refinance a home during your ownership years.

Acquisition debt is a dynamic number that changes over time.  It decreases with normal amortization as the principal amount of debt is reduced.  The only way to increase acquisition debt after a home is purchased is to borrow additional funds that are used for capital improvements.

Assume a person buys a home with a new mortgage and after the home has enjoyed significant appreciation, refinances the home for much more than is currently owed.  Let’s also say that the refinance amount is less than $750,000 which might lead the borrower to an erroneous conclusion that all the interest will be deductible.

The current acquisition debt is transferred to the new mortgage.  Only the portion of the funds used to pay for new capital improvements can be combined to equal the increased acquisition debt.  The interest on that part of the mortgage is deductible as qualified mortgage interest.

The remainder of the refinanced mortgage is attributed to personal debt and the interest paid on that is not deductible.

Lenders are not generally concerned with making a homeowner a fully tax-deductible loan.  Lenders are interested in making a loan which will make a profit and be repaid according to the terms.  The annual statements that most lenders issue to borrowers indicate how much interest was paid in a calendar year as they are required to do by federal law.

Part of the confusion may be because homeowners believe they can deduct interest on debt up to $750,000 and this annual statement shows the interest paid for the year.  It is up to each homeowner to keep track of their acquisition debt and only deduct the qualified mortgage interest.

Your tax professional can be very helpful in determining this amount.  It is important to notify them that you have refinanced a home during the tax year for which the taxes are being reported.  For more information, see IRS Publication 936 and Homeowners Tax Guide.  Home equity debt has not been allowed since the beginning of 2018.

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Title Insurance

Happy customers ready to sign a contract at office

Most people who have car, home and health insurance have probably made claims and wouldn’t consider being without it.  However, it might be difficult to find a homeowner who has made a claim on their title insurance which could lead a person to think that it may not be necessary. 

Title insurance covers the largest investment most people have and if there was a loss, it could be devastating.  Title insurance indemnifies the policy holder from financial loss sustained from defects in the title to the property.  The policy holder is determined by their interest in the property.  

An owner’s title policy protects the owner of the property from title issues that may arise other than the mortgages that are being placed on the property at the time of purchase.  The title of the property goes back in time to check that clear title (no unsatisfied liens or levies and poses no question to legal ownership) was passed from owner to owner up to the current seller.

A mortgagee’s or lender’s policy protects the lender by guaranteeing they have an enforceable lien on the property and legal claims from parties asserting they have a claim against the property.  Lender’s generally require the borrower to provide this coverage.

The title search is an examination to determine and confirm legal ownership and if there are clouds on the title so the seller can pass a clear title.  A cloud is defined as any document, claim, unreleased lien or encumbrance that might invalidate or impair the title to real property.

If a person passes title to a buyer that has unsatisfied liens on the property, the new buyer could become responsible for the money owed and it could affect their ability to sell the property in the future.

Unlike most insurance that has a specific term and periodic premiums, title insurance covers the insured for a single premium.  An owner’s policy lasts for as long as they or their heirs have an interest in the property.  It guarantees the title up to the date and time that the property was deeded to you and recorded in the public records.

The majority of homes purchased in America have title policies insuring the new owner.  You could live in the home for five, ten or twenty years without an incident.  Then, when you’re ready to sell the home, a title claim could happen.  The title policy would still protect you at that point.  It is a peace of mind coverage that is part of the investment in your home.

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