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News, Events, Tips and Resources from The Jamisons

A Secret to Real Estate Profits – Follow The Builder

by The Jamison Team on 12/12/14



As the real estate market cools, the profit potential of home ownership has cooled as well. Here’s a strategy called “follow the builder.”

It is relatively easy to make a profit when you sell your home if the market is rising sharply like it has been in most of the country for the last three years. It becomes more difficult when a hot market slows down. It’s very difficult to make a profit on the sale of your home when prices are falling.

Is there a way to be relatively sure you’ll make a profit when you sell your home? There is under all but the most negative market conditions. In fact, We’ve seen young, energetic couples use this maneuver multiple times when they don’t even need to move.

Follow That Builder

In many areas of the country, there are builders who build hundreds of houses each year within a fifty mile radius of each other. They build entire communities or are one of three to five builders who build entire communities around big employment centers. This present you with an important opportunity.

New Community

Builders will typically sell first phases of communities for significantly less than later phases. On one hand, they need to get the cash flow moving. On the other, it is harder to sell at high prices because the community typically consists of dirt lots and construction equipment. Put the hands together and you have a great profit opportunity.

The idea is to get in on the first phase of the build out. You will purchase the home at a discount, which gives you built in equity. As the community is built up, you sell the home for a profit at a higher price. While you’re doing this, you keep tabs on the builders projects and find another location where you can do the same thing.

You’ll end up living in each house for a year or more and picking up nice profits along the way. The only real downside is you have to move repeatedly.

Tax Consequences

We’ve seen this work well for a number of people who have done it more than once. However, you need to be aware that generating profit this way can have tax consequences. You need to discuss your plans (including projected timing and profit potential) with your tax professional so that you are prepared to deal with any tax consequences.

Good luck!
The Jamison Team

Being Comfortable With Your Home Purchase

by The Jamison Team on 11/13/14



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

Buying a Condo-Who's Running The Show?

by The Jamison Team on 10/28/14

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.

Good luck!!!

Before Moving Anything Into Your New Home

by The Jamison Team on 10/13/14

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


"Renting Back” After Your Home Is Sold

by The Jamison Team on 10/01/14

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.  

An Example

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



Car Loan Refinancing

by The Jamison Team on 09/06/14



When you bought your own car, you might not have found the best financing deal. You could have taken out your car financing through a car dealer at an interest rate that is possibly higher than other financers. This could be one of the reasons why you are currently paying way too much your current car loan. If your credit has not been in tip-top shape, you could be paying a higher interest rate as penalty. If so, then it’s high time you looked into refinancing.

Car loan refinancing is fast and easy. Once your car loan refinancing application has been approved, your current loan will be paid off by the new car finance company. You will be making payments at a lower interest rate than you have been previously paying. You’ll be surprised at how much you will be saving on car loan refinancing. Your savings could amount to hundreds, even thousands of dollars over the course of the loan, depending on how much your new interest rate is charged on your car loan refinancing deals.

Car loan refinancing may be a very promising way of saving you money but most people have not thought of refinancing their cars. You can say that car loan refinancing works in the same way as home refinance. In car loan refinancing, you pay off your current car loan with a refinancing car loan.  This time the loan comes from a different lender with a lower annual percentage rate, making your monthly car loan payments much less with interest rates that have dropped, while allowing you to pay off the balance of your car loan in a shorter span of time. Car loan refinancing has become a very popular trend because of the dropping interest rates. Use the money you save through your car loan refinancing to pay off credit card debt or accelerate your car loan payoff.

This is exactly the reason why people with bad credit who are paying a high APR need to apply for a car loan refinancing with low APR. Most bad credit borrowers can indeed refinance to a lower APR but many don't think to try because they were "programmed" or duped by the dealer into thinking they are stuck at the higher APR they have imposed.

It's very important to have a car loan refinancing early, because with car loans, the interest is mostly paid in the earlier payments.  The earlier your car loan refinancing is approved, the more money you save.  If you wait until the 4th year to refinance your car loan, your savings will be a lot less.

How much is the ideal APR for a car loan refinancing? If you didn’t get 0% to 3% APR car loan from a dealer or bank, you should consider a car loan refinancing. Even if you got a decent APR auto loan, consider having a car loan refinancing. Most online car loan refinancing sites have a car loan calculator.  You’ll be surprised at how much money you can save just by lowering your interest rate. Refinance your car loan today!

I hope that this information helps!

Kevin 

I’m Almost Ready To Buy A Home, What Should I Do?

by The Jamison Team on 09/03/14



Well, the first thing you should do before you shop for your new home is to get a copy of your credit report and credit score! You can obtain a copy of your credit report and score from one or all of the three credit bureaus:  TransUnion, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA. 19022,800-888-4213,www.transunion.com; Equifax, P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA. 30374, 877-784-2528 ,www.equifax.com;  Experian, P.O. Box 2104, Allen, TX. 75013, 888-397-3742 ,www.experian.com.  You are entitled to receive a free credit report every year by law. Go to annualcreditreport.com to obtain your free reports.You may even consider ordering a three in one credit report to see what each credit bureau is reporting about you. 

You’ll want to review your credit report for any potential problems that will need to be cleared up before you start shopping for your home. You don’t want any surprises when you complete your home loan application. So, it’s important to be proactive about getting your credit report first!

After you have secured your credit report, the next step for you to consider when preparing to purchase a home is to get pre-approved for your home loan.  That’s right, get pre-approved for your home loan not pre-qualified, there’s a big difference! Getting pre-approved for your home loan means that you have obtained approval from your chosen lender to pay a certain amount for the home you are about to purchase.  

Basically, pre-approval means you already have your money for your home purchase and have the ability to negotiate a better deal with the seller because you have the funds to purchase quickly.  A pre-qualification doesn’t have much clout, because you have not secured approval of your home loan from a lender.  A pre-qualification is that you may qualify for a home loan.  So, do your research and secure  pre-approval of your home loan from a lender of your choice before you start shopping for your home!  

On the other hand, in addition to real estate agents having a good understanding of the approval process and what's required, they have establish relationships with lenders who offer an assortment of loan products. Contacting a real estate agent may be the best way to achieve a pre-approval and to find out about buyer programs and options.

As you look for your home, you may want to choose a buyer’s agent to represent you for your home purchase.  Remember, the sellers agent represents the seller and not you the buyer! That means that whatever offers you make or whatever you tell the sellers agent for the most part must be relayed to the seller.  For example, if you tell the sellers agent that you could pay up to $200,000 for a particular property but relay a bid of $180,000 directly to the agent for the seller, the agent usually has a duty to tell the seller that you would pay up to $200,000 for their property.  This would leave you with no room for further negotiations of the purchase price to the seller.  So, consider getting your own buyer’s agent that will represent your interests for the home you are trying to purchase.  Consider getting a buyer’s agent that will split or get a portion of the real estate commission for the home sell with the sellers agent so you’re not stuck paying a commission fee directly.

If you’re interested in purchasing a brand new home, it is recommended that you have your own buyer’s agent representing your own interests and not the agent who represents the builder! In most cases, you will find that the terms of the contract for the purchase of the new home presented by the builder’s agent, is one sided and may not protect your interest! So, get an agent that will represent you for your new home purchase.  You will find that you may have a better peace of mind during the purchase of your home.

Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you’ll make in your lifetime.  It’s also one of your bigger investments for your future.  So, it’s important that you do your research before you buy and take precautions that will make your home purchase easy going, less stressful and carefree! So go ahead, get started on your home purchase today!

Darlene Jamison is a licensed realtor with Remax Specialists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. To learn more about Darlene and her services please go to www.kevinanddarlene.com 

How to Consolidate Student Loans

by The Jamison Team on 08/20/14



A lot of graduating students have taken loans for their further studies and want to consolidate student loans. You may be one of those responsible individuals who is working towards repayment of your college loans.  But here the problem is how to pay the monthly installments, as you have to make monthly payments to many. You could be in a situation wherein you are not able to come up with enough cash to make payment to all lenders. No matter what the reason is for not being to pay up your student loan installment on time consolidation of student loans is a good idea and it will positively reduce your financial tensions.

Another important thing is how much do you know about consolidating student loans, do you have an idea what it actually is? There are many advantages but can be disadvantages also to consolidate student loans. You will some answers to your doubts in this article. Just go ahead and read on.

You will first of all like to know how student consolidation loan works. The answer is very straightforward. Once you have graduated from college you will have to start repaying all your student loans. When you move to consolidate student loan that is in other words you will add up all the loans you have taken from all different places, as one single loan and will have to pay to one lender only and that to at a low interest rate and you may get more time to pay up also. By consolidation of student loans, you will be able to repay your college loan with ease and little tension.  Maybe this can also save hundreds of dollars for you in the long run.

There are advantages as well as disadvantages in every situation and it goes without saying that it applies when you consolidate student loan also. There is a grace period and if you consolidate your loans during this time, as you will know grace period is the first 6-month following your graduation, and start repayment you will be able to seize the benefit of a lesser consolidation loan interest rate.  But on the flip side you will have to forgo the rest of the grace period and start the payment within the next sixty days.

But to overcome this there is a good strategy of consolidating student loans almost at the end of the grace period to take advantage of both. You can discuss this issue with your lender.

It is also very possible to extend the repayment time when you go for student consolidation loans. The repayment period can be extended up to a period of thirty years! But that primarily depends on your entire education loan debt. As a result your monthly payment sum will noticeably go down. This has its own drawback as the longer you take to repay your loan the more you will have to shell out. It’s entirely your own choice and also the situation you are in.


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