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Whats the difference

There is a difference in a property disclosure, a home inspection and a home warranty and the roles they play in the purchase of a home.

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Show Them You’re Serious

June and July are the busiest home sale months of the year. When inventory is in short supply and you may be competing with other offers, it is important to show the seller you’re serious. Make your offer look as good as possible because you may not get the chance to make or accept a counter-offer.

Put yourself in the seller’s shoes.  Your home has just gone on the market.  There is lots of activity and suddenly, there is more than one offer to purchase.  The seller’s first consideration may be to accept the highest offer but there are many other things to consider like closing dates, closing costs, possible repairs, contingencies and of course, the ability of the borrower to get a loan.

Offer a fair price for the property in your initial purchase agreement.  It shows sincerity and good faith that you’re actually trying to purchase the home and not trying to take advantage of the seller.  The old adage that you can always go up later may never happen if there are multiple offers on the property in the beginning.

  1. Remove the uncertainty that you may not be approved for a mortgage by having a pre-approval letter from your mortgage company.
  2. Show your sincerity by increasing the normal amount of earnest money customary for the area and price of the home.  The earnest money will be applied toward your down payment and closing costs.  Consider placing even more money in escrow when the contingencies have been met.
  3. Specify a closing date in the contract but acknowledge that you can be flexible to accommodate the sellers’ moving date.  If it becomes an issue, it still must be mutually agreed upon.
  4. Make the contingency periods shorter if possible to make the seller feel that they’ll know sooner that the offer is solid.
  5. If the contingency really isn’t important to you, leave it out of the offer.  The more contingencies included in a contract, the more the seller will wonder what might happen to keep it from closing.
  6. Write a personal note to the seller explaining why you like and want their home.  Consider including a picture of your family and pets.
  7. If you’re not using a digital contract, physically sign the offer with a felt tip pen of contrasting color.  You’d be surprised how this adds a personal touch to the offer.

One way to eliminate the competition of multiple offers is by not procrastinating.  When you have decided to write a contract, don’t wait; do it immediately and ask your agent to deliver it quickly.  Your agent will be able to help you craft a solid offer that makes you look serious and can give you advice that may be unique to your situation.

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Temporarily Renting a Home

Cropped portrait of an affectionate mature couple standing outside

IRS has provisions for homeowners regarding the sale of a principal residence that allows for temporarily renting the home without losing the ability to exclude the gain if the home is sold under the correct conditions.

The rules for the exclusion of gain on the sale of a principal residence are:

*          Up to $250,000 of gain may be excluded for single taxpayers and up to $500,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly.

*          Ownership and Use must have been a principal residence for two of the five years preceding the date of sale (closing date).  This allows for a temporary rental for up to three years maximum.

*          Either spouse may meet the ownership test.

*          Both spouses must meet the use test.

*          No exclusion has been used in the previous 24-month period.

Let’s pretend that a person had owned a home from more than two years.  This person married and moved into their new spouse’s home two years, six months ago.  That person decided to sell the home and would have approximately $200,000 of gain in the sale.

If the property is put on the market, sold and closed prior to the three-years that they moved out, the home would still be eligible for the section 121 exclusion on the sale of a principal residence.  If the sales closes after that three-year period, the owner would owe tax on the gain.  If the long-term capital gains rate for the owner was 15%, they would owe approximately $30,000 in taxes.

If you or a person you know is in a situation like this, they should certainly seek professional tax advice as well as discussing the marketing and value of the property with their real estate professional.  This is something that I have experience with; call me at (320) 762-7106.  The timing is very important and critical to a favorable outcome.

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2018 PHBS – veteran buyers

One in five homebuyers or their spouse was a homebuyer last year.

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How long do you need to keep these?

Some documents need to be kept longer than others and these are the basic rules.

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Tech to Find the Right Home

Shot of a young couple going through their paperwork together at home

According to the 2018 Profile of Buyers and Sellers, 52% of buyers want help to find the right home to purchase.  Physically locating the home is certainly part of what buyers want from their agent but finding the right home at the right price and terms is also crucial.

87% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker.  Slightly more than half of buyers were referred to their real estate professional by/or is a friend or relative or had used the agent previously to buy or sell a home.

There are tech tools that can be used together with the expertise and experience of your real estate professional to make the home buying process efficient and effective.

Listing Alert … while this service is called by other names, the buyer identifies the specifics about the home they want, and it will notify them directly when a new listing comes on the market that matches their needs.

Real estate smartphone apps … imagine driving a neighborhood, seeing a sign and immediately being able to know the price and specifics about the home; very convenient.  There are a variety of different apps available such as Homesnap, and others, ask your agent for their recommendation before installing one.

Digital documents … companies like DocuSign have revolutionized real estate negotiations by doing everything digitally so that you’re not going back and forth between the parties signing and initialing changes.  It is safe and secure and your agent will handle this end of it for you.

ColorSnap Visualizer … this Sherwin Williams app for iPad allows you to paint walls on a picture, match photos to find paint colors and other things before you commit to a color.

Google maps … plug in an address on Google Maps and you see street view of the home, satellite view, surrounding businesses, traffic speed and other things.

Sex Offender RegistryNSOPW, the National Sex Offender Public Website is a safety resource that provides the public with access to sex offender data nationwide.

Financial Calculators … fill in the blank applications that can illustrate the benefits of renting vs. owning, Equity Accelerator, Adjustable Rate Comparison, Cost of Waiting to Buy and many other homeowner situations.

Free Public Records DirectoryOnlineSearches provides access to public record sources like deeds and assessor and property tax records.  While this service is free, some state and county agencies may charge fees for accessing public records.

Virtual open house … an alternative to physically viewing a home is to look at the multiple photos online.  If the property is interesting, you can schedule a physical showing with your agent.

Check your credit … Order free credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion each once a year at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.

The final recommendation is your phone.  When you have a question, contact your agent.  Calling another agent may seem like an expedient way to get an answer, especially if you cannot get a hold of your agent but it could inadvertently, cause issues. Your real estate professional can assist you with these and other tools to help you find the right home. 

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Mistakes to Deny a Mortgage

Some, not so obvious, things that can cause a mortgage to be denied.

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Things That Can be Negotiated

There are a variety of things that can be negotiated beyond price in a home sale.

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Will Points Make a Difference

Serious mature couple receive professional advice

Lenders typically quote mortgages at a market rate but can offer a lower interest rate loan if the borrower is willing to pay points up-front which is considered pre-paid interest.  These points are generally tax deductible for the year paid when the borrower pays them in connection with buying, building or improving their principal residence.

A point is one-percent of the mortgage amount.  A lender will quote a lower-rate mortgage with a certain number of points.  There is not a standard amount; it is an individual company policy.

A simple comparison of the two alternatives based on the borrower’s ability to pay the points and whether the borrower will stay in the home long enough to recapture the costs will help to determine which loan will provide the cheapest cost of housing.

In the example below, two choices are compared; a 4.25% loan with no points vs. a 4.00% loan with one point.  If the buyer stays in the home at least 69 months, they will recover the $3,150 cost for the point on the lower interest rate.

If the purchaser stays ten years, he’ll save two thousand three hundred dollars over the cost of the point.  A less obvious advantage will be realized because the unpaid balance on the lower interest rate loan will results in an additional $2,076 savings.


Use this Will Points Make a Difference app to discover whether paying points will make a difference in your situation.  This is an example of a permanent buy-down but temporary buy-downs are also available.  A trusted mortgage advisor can help you determine alternatives.

For more information about the deductibility of points, see IRS Publication 936 and if you’re refinancing a home, there is a section specifically on that.  For advice on your specific situation, contact your tax professional.

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Label Circuit Breakers

Labeling your circuit breakers is a two-person job using your cell phones.

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