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News, Events, Tips and Resources from The Jamisons

About Capital Gains

by The Jamison Team on 07/22/14



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


30 Year vs. 15 Year Mortgages

by The Jamison Team on 07/20/14



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?

Darlene

Best Home Owner Insurance – What Is The Best?

by The Jamison Team on 07/02/14



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.


Can Credit Counseling Really Help?

by The Jamison Team on 06/13/14



If you have high debt, and are in trouble, you have probably heard the term “credit counseling,” but do you understand what it is? Oftentimes this term is used in the same sentence as debt negotiation or debt settlement, but actually, it’s a completely different process. With credit counseling, you will actually work with a professional credit counselor to pay off your debt in lower, monthly payments that you can afford.

The people most likely to need credit counseling are those who are receiving troubling phone calls from bill collectors, or whose accounts have gone to collection agencies. If you think that you may benefit from using a service like this, please read on to find out the best way to work with a credit counseling company.

First, you’ll need to be able to find a good credit counseling company, and not fall victim to one of the many credit counseling scams that are out there. Start by avoiding any ads that promise you quick fixes for your credit report. There is no such thing. Instead, look for a reliable company that is accredited by Consumer Credit Counseling Services.

Next, you’ll have to meet with a professional credit counselor, and provide them with all of the details of your debt. Don’t be tempted to leave anything out because they will need the information in order to create a re-payment plan made just for you.

Now, you can sit back and allow your professional credit counselor to work for you. They will contact all of your creditors and inform them that you are trying to create a plan that will allow you pay off your debts. They will work with them all and coordinate a re-payment schedule that you can live with. Many times, they will be able to lower your interest rates in order to allow for lower payments.

Some credit counseling services offer a debt management system. What is it? Instead of having to keep up with all of the payments yourself, you will have the option of submitting one lump sum payment to the credit counseling service and they will do it for you. One note of caution here: there have been instances of a credit counseling services paying their client’s payments late, and if that happens, your credit report will suffer for it. Knowing that, be sure to check out the company thoroughly, by checking references, before signing up for their debt management program.

What will you pay for all of these services? A reputable Credit Counseling Service will only charge you a small fee, somewhere between nineteen and fourty dollars per month. If they are asking for alot of money up front, they may not have your best intests at heart. Be on the look out for potenial scams.

You should also be aware that working with a credit counseling service can do some damage to your credit report. However, the good does out weigh the bad. After all, it’s much easier to explain an honest attempt to get your finances in order than it is to explain a bankruptcy or a credit report full of charge-offs.

How to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

by The Jamison Team on 05/21/14



Buying a home is euphoric and scary. On one hand, you are moving into a property you own. On the other, you are committing to the repayment of a lot of money.

How to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

Buying a property can throw your emotions all over the place. First, you are ecstatic when the seller agrees to your offer. Soon thereafter, you start worrying about the price, potential problems and the commitment you have made to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next 15, 25 or 30 years. It can be a monstrous rollercoaster for your emotions. You need not have buyer’s remorse.

The first issue giving rise to remorse is almost always the purchase price. If it makes you feel any better, the seller almost always thinks they should have asked for more. In truth, the agreed upon price is almost always pretty fair if you obtain a mortgage loan. The lender is not going to give you a loan well in excess of the value of the home, so you can rest assured you probably got a fair price. Yes, you may have paid $10,000 too much, but it is a relatively insignificant amount given the value of the property over time.

The second area of remorse is the payment obligation. Buying a home sounds great until you realize payments of $1,500 or $2,000 are due each month. What if you lose your job? What if someone gets sick? What if, what if, what if… Stop worrying. Life is full of risks and buying a home is a relatively minor one compared to other decisions we have to make. If you default on a mortgage, so what? Yes it is bad, but they are not going to put you in jail. Most successful business people fall on their faces five or ten times before hitting it big. In a worse case scenario, you can do the same.

Remorse can be an all encompassing thing. If you let it take hold of your emotions, you are going to suffer for no reason whatsoever. Remember, real estate is an excellent long term investment. If you keep the property in decent shape and hold on to the property for five or ten years, you will inevitably come out ahead.  Stop stressing out and enjoy your new home!


The Jamison Team!
Kevin & Darlene

Lease Options or Rent to Own?

by The Jamison Team on 05/02/14



Finding a rent-to-own house is one of the many ways someone with bad or no credit can buy  a house. You will often find them called names like lease/options, lease with option to buy, lease purchase, lease 2 purchase, rent with option to buy, rent to own, or rent to buy homes.

There are a few differences between rent-to-own and lease-option agreements, although many people use the terms interchangeably. With a rent to own (or rent to buy) home, the buyer makes an agreement with the owner that part or all of the rent money will go towards the down payment of the home, and at a certain date, perhaps 2-5 years in the future, the renter will purchase the home, using the money that was set aside as the down payment.

There is usually not much money put down in the beginning, outside of what would normally be needed for a rental home, so this is a good way to get into a home for little or no down payment.

Another advantage to a rent to buy situation is that if you compare how much rent money is applied monthly to the home price, even if it is only 25-50%, it will still be much more money paid on the principal of the house than if you had taken out a loan for it. If you look at how much money goes to the principal payment of a home with a typical mortgage loan, you will find that most of your mortgage payment in the beginning is just paying interest on the loan. A rent to own agreement, where the money goes directly to the payment of the home, could be saving you a lot of money in the long run.

With a lease-with-option-to-buy, a renter signs a lease agreement (often for a shorter period of time, like1-2 years, but it could be longer). The renter/buyer usually pays a sum in cash, usually non-refundable, to the owner in agreement to buy the house at a later date for the price agreed upon. The renter has the option or right to buy the home, so in the end they have a choice and can back out it they want. Some of the rent paid may or may not go towards the purchase price of the home.

This is a technique often used by real estate investors in periods when the interest rate is rising fast. This way they hope to buy the home at a lower interest rate on a later date. In the meantime, they will sublease the home to someone else, who will make the payments for them.

Again, the terms “lease option” and “rent to buy” are pretty much used interchangeably today, so check with the owner to find out exactly what terms they are offering. Or approach an owner with your own offer for renting to own.

If you are a renter who is tired of paying someone else’s mortgage and want to own your own home, this is one of many ways that you can buy a home. One of the drawbacks is that you will still need to purchase the home at a later date. This may be a problem if you have bad credit, because you may still need to qualify for a loan when it is time to purchase the home. If your credit can be repaired in several years, this may be a great way for you to get your home now, and good motivation to clean up your credit for the future.

If you have any questions or concerns about Lease Options or Rent to Own, please call Darlene us at 215-439-5626. 

How to Maintain Great Credit

by The Jamison Team on 04/28/14



The majority of people these days rely a little bit too much on their credit in order to keep them living in the lifestyle that they are accustomed to. For many people their entire life seems to be run on a line of credit. This is all good but because credit has become such a life line to so many people, they have to resort to loosing almost the entirety of their paychecks from work just to keep their credit going.
 
Most people are either living with credit debt that is so high it prevents them from getting a home or a car, and others are working just so that they pay their credit limits with credit cards so that they live off of those credit cards until their next paycheck. People who live like this condemn themselves to this repeated cycle of spending and credit for the majority of their lives.

 Since most people begin to establish their credit line when they are young, they are predisposed to see the credit as free money. That is of course; until they realize that eventually they will lose it all unless they pay off these ridiculously high limits. It is not uncommon for people with high credit limits to try to fix the balance of one credit card by getting another one and making the payments with the new cards and vice versa. This is a dangerous game to play that usually results in multiple credit debts that have to be fixed instead of one.

Using credit is meant to be a help to you and your life, and not your primary means of supporting yourself. When you decide to get credit, you must do so responsibly. Ideally, you would only use your credit cards in an emergency, but that is rarely the case anymore. Thanks to online shopping capabilities, people are spending more money than ever on their credit cards. Credit is a very tricky thing that can destroy your entire life because it can put you so deep in debt that you can’t get out of it.

If you are already deep in debt because of your credit, you should visit your local debt consolidator for help. If you are just starting out with your credit, the best advice that can be given to you is to be responsible and never spend more between paychecks than you can afford to pay back in full. As long as you keep up on paying your creditors on time and keep a copy of your credit report or score, you can easily maintain excellent credit and avoid bankruptcy.

Blog and stay tuned to our blog post for more information about credit and bankruptcy. Thanks for reading.

The Jamison Team
Kevin and Darlene
 

Fixer Upper Homes - Are You Ready?

by The Jamison Team on 03/28/14



Fixer upper homes can be found in even the most expensive cites for much less than other homes. Even in areas where a small home will usually be over $200,000, an investor from Chicago recently told us he found one for $35,000. Before you get excited by the idea, though, here are the two most important questions you should ask yourself before buying a fixer upper:

1. Do you want to deal with it? You don't necessarily have to fix the house yourself, as you will see in the example below. Still, you will have to deal with hiring contractors, and you'll have the stress of unexpected problems that always occur with fixing houses. There are always unexpected problems.

2. How much is it worth to you to deal with it? Suppose you end up with total of $125,000 into a house that is worth $145,000. Does that $20,000 equity gain make it worth it? It is entirely up to you to decide how much you want for your trouble. How do you know what you'll gain in equity? Figure it like an investor would, as in the following example.

Putting A Price On Fixer Upper Homes

When you look at a fixer upper, decide what you would need to do to make it a nice place to live. It might need a new roof, new carpeting, paint and a dozen smaller things done. Make a list all the things you will do if you buy it.

With the help of a real estate agent or appraiser, estimate what the house would sell for if it was the way you want it. Now you have your finished value. Work backwards from here to arrive at the price you will offer.

Suppose the house will be worth $179,000 when it is done. It will need carpet, wall repairs, yard work, paint, a new door, new appliances, and a few other things. Calling around to get a few quotes, you determine this will all cost $12,000 unless you do some of the work yourself. Subtract this from the $169,000.

Subtract "holding costs." This includes interest on the loan, taxes, insurance, and utilities during the time you can't live house while it's being fixed. You can skip this if you get to move right in, but we'll assume $2,000 for our example. Subtract another $2,000 for anything unexpected.

Subtract the amount that "makes it all worth it." For our example, we'll assume it's worth the trouble for you if you get an instant equity gain of $13,000. Now, having subtracted the repair costs, holding costs, unexpected event money, and your "profit," we arrive at $150,000.

$150,000, then, is the most you should pay for the house. Offer less, maybe $144,000, so you have some negotiating room. If you can't get it $140,000 or less, you should probably walk away. This is the short lesson on how to buy fixer upper homes.

Good luck!
The Jamison Team

Home Buying Basics

by The Jamison Team on 02/28/14



The most important investment you will ever make is probably the purchase of a home. Finding the right home for you can be a long and arduous process, but there is no getting around that.

Know Your Wants And Needs

Before embarking on your journey of house hunting, you must know what you really want to find. Sit down with pen and paper and list all the features you care most about, such as:

- Location (in a particular city, school district or neighborhood)

- Size -- how many bedrooms and bathrooms

- Parking -- a 1-car garage or 2?

- Style -- 2-story house or ranch style home?

- Heating -- central heating and/or air conditioning?

Equally important, on a new sheet of paper list all the features you absolutely do not want in a house. For example:

- high-traffic area.

- high noise area (airport, train station or highway in close proximity)

- maintenance -- major repairs needed

As you look at houses, keep both lists in mind. Your lists may change over time as you do more looking. You'll want to add or remove features, or perhaps you'll become willing to make compromises. Realize that you most likely will not find the "perfect" home. Experienced homebuyers will tell you, perfect homes are not found, they are made perfect through hard work.

Get Your Credit Report In Order

Prior to looking at properties, you must get your finances in order. This is the time to review your credit report and clean it up, if need be, to maximize your credit score. Many people do not realize how important it is to check your credit report periodically to make sure it is accurate. You should pay off any past due amounts, or negotiate a settlement price to close the debt. Get such agreements in writing, before paying any settlement. Keep all receipts for any settled items from your credit report since it may take months to get the debt actually removed.

Research Your Home-Buying Options

Decide what kind of property you are interested in. Do you want a HUD property, a foreclosure, real estate, or property for sale by owner?

A number of web sites list homes according to city, state, or price range. Visit these sites to see pictures of homes, many with virtual tours, and review the listing features.

Get Pre-Approved For A Loan

You're ready now to find a lender and get yourself pre-approved for the loan. Being pre-approved offers a number of advantages. It will clarify the price range you can afford. Also, once you find the home you want, you can place an immediate offer. If you have to wait for pre-approval, someone could buy the house right out from under you.

Several special programs are often available from lenders, such as the FHA, VA or PHFA, that can save you money in the closing. Ask the lender about any special programs before you decide on a loan.

Find A Good Real Estate Agent

It is wise for the first time homebuyer to work closely with a real estate agent, no matter what type of property you're looking for. A knowledgeable real estate agent will make your house-hunting much easier. A good real estate agent is usually a good negotiator, and will be able to help you with the complicated paperwork involved in placing an offer on a house or in closing a deal.

It's essential that you have a real estate agent working for you as the buyer. They will represent you and look out for your best interest. And keep in mind, although the agent will be representing you, the sell pays his or her commission. How sweet is that!

To select a real estate agent, you should check with your friends and neighbors for recommendations. Find an agent you feel comfortable with and who is knowledgeable about the area you hope to buy in.

These are just the basics of home buying. You will find many details you need to master as you move through the buying process, but having these basics under your belt will give you a head start.

The Jamison Team
Kevin & Darlene

Want to Have Some Family Fun This Weekend?

by The Jamison Team on 02/15/14

Blue Cross River Rink



What great family fun! Especially, if you haven't ice skated before.
Watching family and friends trying to skate on the ice is priceless!

Description

Dates:
November 29, 2013–March 2, 2014

Overview

Lace up your ice skates and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Blue Cross RiverRink, an Olympic-sized ice rink at Penn’s Landing that is a waterfront winter tradition.

A family-friendly holiday activity, the RiverRink features breathtaking views overlooking the Delaware River and Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

Don’t worry if it’s a little brisk — the RiverRink features a heated pavilion with a snack bar and game room to keep you warm. There’s also plenty of special events to keep you coming back each week — a live DJ is featured every Friday and Saturday night from 9 p.m. to 12 midnight to keep you moving.

Market Street and Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 925-RINK

Learn more at http://www.delawareriverwaterfront.com/places/blue-cross-riverrink