News, Events, Tips and Resources from The Jamisons
Let's get down to brass tacks with the home buying process. You as a buyer are spending a lot of money and have the right to be comfortable and happy with your purchase right? Of course you do. So essentially the question is what needs to be done in order to ensure that this is so? Well, probably the most important things is communication. It's a good idea to remember that your realtor is there for more than simply helping with some contracts. Your realtor is your info source of information on anything that you might not know or be familiar with. The more you communicate with your realtor the smoother this process will be.
Another way to ensure that you are completely happy with the home that you have bought is to never settle for anything less than what you need. This happens a lot when buyers are too eager to purchase quickly and in that quickness, things get overlooked. Remember that this is going to be your home, take the time to learn everything you can about the home in question. Does it have enough room for you and your family? Is there some extra room in case your family grows? Forward planning is an essential part of buying a home, and should never be overlooked.
When everything is said and done you should be left feeling like you have made the most intelligent purchase of your life. You should also have a financial arrangement that fits your lifestyle and payment abilities. In order to make this happen you need to be in complete control of your financial life, you should have your credit completely sorted out and dealt with so that there are no bridges that have to be crossed in order to secure the necessary funds for the purchase. Follow the advice of your realtor and the process should be a lot more fun than it is stressful.
We hope this helps!
The Jamison Team
When buying a condo, we are all seduced by the decor, the ambiance, the view, and other visual effects, when we should really be checking something else that is not visual!
The Home Owners Association (HOA) often plays a very nondescript part in the whole process of choosing a condo, - especially for first-time condo buyers. However, the HOA can play a very large part in using up your finances if you hit an unlucky situation after moving in.
In order to avoid a surprise, ask a few pertinent questions about the HOA. One of the important factors would be 'who is running the show?' In a very small condo complex it may be run by residents, but a professional management company is preferable, especially in a condo of any size.
Professional management companies do charge for their services, but they can often save this fee by obtaining lower quotes for repairs, because they will use the same company many times. There is also less chance of the company using their influence on resident votes, so they may be construed as more fair. Finally, it is a business to them, and it the HOA will be run as such, instead of as a part-time rush before each meeting is due!
Always ask to see the rules of the HOA, the financial report, the by-laws and the minutes of the last several meetings. The conditions, covenants and restrictions (CC&Rs) will affect your lifestyle, so make sure they 'fit in' with it.
The financial report will tell you if there are any big increases in the fees coming up, or if there are any 'emergency' fees due soon. This raises the important question, what will happen if there is a big emergency? How is it paid and how much money is in the HOA kitty?
The maintenance reserves will be important; there will hopefully be approximately one third of the gross annual fees charged to all residents in the reserves. A favorable minimum amount would be $4,000 per condo, although is manageable.
Another aspect that the HOA manages is the percentage of rental units allowable. Under 20% is passable, but any more and the re-sale of the condos becomes risky. Renters often do not have the same respect for property or neighbors, so they decrease desire ability. Also mortgage companies are aware of this and are reluctant to give out mortgages to high-rental complexes.
Once you have ironed out all these questions, you can consider whether you would like to get a professional inspection done. These inspections include the common areas as well as the condo you are interested in. Once all these precautions are in place, you will feel more secure to go ahead and make an offer.
Before moving any of your belongings into your new home, its important to make sure that everything is as it should be. You may have had a list of repairs you expected – or this may be the first time you've seen the house empty.
Take some time to go around with a notepad and check all of the sockets for obvious signs of wear and tear and look for damage that you might be otherwise liable for.
Ensure that any cupboards are empty, free of damp, mold or bad smells, and keep a close note of what where the electricity, water and gas stopcocks are. While doing this, you'll also be getting a feel for where you can place any furniture, how to get it up any stairs or even just into the house.
Note down any damage or concerns you have to be discussed with whomever you're dealing with – its important to have these notes before moving anything in so that you can get the problems remedied as soon as possible.
If you're letting from a landlord, he'll give you a list of any fittings, fixtures and furniture he's leaving – its very common nowadays for landlords to leave 'white goods' – kitchen appliances, such as the fridge, freezer, washing machine and cooker.
If you're letting, your landlord should also give you contact details, emergency repair numbers and any paperwork pertaining to these emergency repairs that you may need. You may also want to get bank details or arrange a good time to come and collect rent. Any final paperwork can be signed now, and then you can start making your new place your own.
You should also ensure that the central heating and boiler are working correctly and collect any manuals for these from the previous occupant – these manuals will save you a lot of frustration in the long run.
We wish many blessings and happy years in your new home.
The Jamison Team
Sometimes it’s helpful to sell your home before you really want to move. This often happens when you are having a new home built, but aren’t sure of the completion date. Is there any way you can sell your home so you’re sure of the funds available for the new purchase, but continue to live in your old home until construction of the new one is complete. Yes, there is with the renting back strategy.
Enter the Lease-Back or Rent-Back Agreement
The particulars of this strategy vary from state to state, but in the strong seller’s market we’re experiencing, buyers will often agree to let the seller stay in the home for a period of time as long as rent is paid. In a competitive situation, the buyer willing to do this will often have the winning bid even though there is another offer as high as his.
The agreement covering the situation states the length of time the seller will remain. It can be done with a specific date named or wording that allows the seller to remain up to a specific date with the possibility of her moving sooner. The amount can be a fixed figure paid out of the proceeds of settlement or a monthly amount, or a daily amount. It is usually, but not always, tied to the amount of the mortgage payment under the buyer’s new loan. Sometimes there is a deposit against damage, sometimes not. There is usually a clause saying the seller will hold the buyer harmless for any damage to himself or his property which occurs after the sale is consummated and before the seller moves.
The attorney who draws up your contract offer can create such an agreement. If you’re using online forms, you should be able to find one for this situation. If you’re working with a real estate broker, he or she can handle it for you.
I’ve recently seen a very pleasant example of this idea in action. An elderly widow contracted to have a one level condo unit built in a new community which provides all exterior maintenance. She had had hip replacement surgery and wanted to get away from the drawbacks of the home in which she’d reared her children. The home was large, had stairs and was located on a large, partially wooded lot with many mature perennials and shrubs. Both the home and garden were beautiful, but high maintenance.
Her contract to purchase required a series of deposits and a firm indication as to her source of funds well before settlement on her new condo. The widow put her home on the market. A young couple with two sons was very anxious to buy it. The situation was competitive. They made the widow an offer. She countered their original offer. She did not raise their offer price, which was slightly below her asking price. She did not believe the young couple would qualify for a larger loan. Instead, she did something rather creative.
The widow countered with a proposal that she “rent back” for a period of “up to” a certain date (a date beyond her scheduled competition date on the condo) in exchange for a modest flat sum to be paid to the buyer at settlement. The total rent back period was less than two months. The flat fee was less than the amount of the new mortgage payment for the buyers. However, since they made no payment on their new mortgage the first month, it wasn’t too far out of line. The couple really wanted the home, so they accepted the counter offer.
Another win, win situation was created. The widow only had to move one time and the young couple got a house they probably wouldn’t have in a straight bidding war. If you find yourself in a situation similar to either the widow or the young couple, perhaps you can work out a similar solution.
Thanks for reading!
Darlene Jamison, RE/MAX
When you buy real estate in Pennsylvania and sell it for a higher price, the difference between the selling price and the purchase price is known as capital gain. In other words, profit from selling a property for a higher price is the capital gain on the property. Capital gains may be short-term or long-term.
Short-term gain: If you sell your property within 3 years after purchasing it, the gain is called short-term capital gain.
Long-term gain: When a gain occurs from selling a property after 3 years of its purchase, it is a long-term capital gain.
Calculation of capital gain: Capital gain is the difference between the selling price or the transfer price and the total cost of acquisition of the property.
The cost of acquisition includes purchase price of the property, cost incurred in registration of the real estate property in Pennsylvania, its repairs, storage expenses, etc. In short, all the expenses of capital nature are part of the cost of acquisition.
The transfer price includes commission or brokerage paid by the seller, registration fees, cost of stamp papers, traveling and litigation expenses incurred while transferring the real estate property in Pennsylvania.
Capital gains tax:
Capital gains tax is charged on the gain that you make on selling a real estate for profit in Pennsylvania. It is calculated by subtracting the cost of acquisition of real estate from the transfer price of the property. The difference is added to your taxable income and charged according to the tax bracket you fall into.
The tax rates for short-term and long-term capital gains are often different. You must be alert of the tax structure of Pennsylvania to know what tax bracket you fall under and what tax rates are applicable for your capital gains.
Criticism: It is often argued that capital gains tax results in double payment of taxes. The property’s value that is sold might have been included in the value of assets sold by you while calculating wealth tax. Thus, including capital gain in the income tax statement in the same year may result in double-payment of taxes.
For more read at http://taxfoundation.org/article/high-burden-state-and-federal-capital-gains-taxes
Discussions of mortgages often focus on interest rates, but there is a much more basic decision to make. Should you go with a 30 year mortgage term or a 15 year mortgage term?
30 Year vs. 15 Year Mortgages
Any discussion of mortgages tends to turn on two points. How can you qualify for the most money with the lowest payment? How can you get the lowest interest rate for the mortgage? While these are two important issues, there is an addition one that people fail to consider, resulting in significant wasted money.
The term of a mortgage is extremely critical for a couple of reason. First, it sets the length of the obligation you are undertaking. Second, it defines the amount of interest you are going to pay over the life of the loan. These are huge issues when it comes to building equity.
The longer the loan, the more total interest you are going to pay. The trade off, of course, is you are going to have smaller monthly payments the farther you stretch out the obligation. While this may sound like a good goal when you first get the mortgage, it can backfire on you in the long run.
Most people focus on interest rates as a way to save money on mortgages. This is a valid approach, but playing with the length of the loan is a better way to save money. If you can cut the payments in half by going with a shorter loan, you can save huge amounts on the total interest repaid to a lender.
The decision on the term of the loan is relatively simple, but entirely dependent upon your personal situation. There is no absolutely correct choice. First, you need to determine if you can comfortably afford the higher payments that come with a shorter term loan. In general, a 15 year mortgage will have payments 20 to 25 percent higher than a 30 year loan. Of course, you will pay the loan off faster, to wit, be building equity in the home quicker.
The modern mortgage industry has a variety of different term length products. When applying for a loan, take the time to evaluate the different terms to see if you can find a loan that is perfect for your situation.
Which mortgage term and type are you considering?
The best homeowner insurance is the insurance that best meets your needs. The insurance shopper that takes the time to understand the basic elements of home insurance will have much more confidence and sense of satisfaction when making an insurance purchase. The homeowner policy has been around for a long time and so most of us have a general concept on how the policy works. The more you know about the market value of your home and the approximate cost to rebuild it the better off you will be when shopping for the homeowner policy.
This kind of knowledge is the foundation for determining what kind of policy to purchase. The age of your home has a direct bearing on the market value. The older homes built in the 1900’s have much lower market values today because most of them have depreciated. The market value for an older Victorian style home may be $50,000 but the actual cost to rebuild that home may be $200,000. The older homes that depreciate in market value are insured with actual cash value policies. They are often called market value policies. These policies will reimburse you for the market value of your home when there is a total loss. The market value policy is the best homeowner policy for the older home that has depreciated.
The replacement cost policy is better designed for newer homes or homes under construction. The replacement cost of a home and the market value are almost the same. Replacement cost is applied to the dwelling and most often to the contents of the dwelling. Replacement cost will repair or replace any loss with like kind and quality of materials without depreciation.
The best homeowner insurance for you will be determined by the age and market value of your home. The discounts for older and newer homes are the same. The protective device discount for deadbolt locks, smoke detectors, and fire extinguisher apply to both types of policies. Fire and burglar alarm systems are additional discounts that could be applied to both older and newer homes. Check our recommended insurers for more details.