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Obama Says, ‘Let’s Allow Everybody to Refinance’

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It was encouraging to hear that housing is solidly on the Obama Administration’s radar. The president confirmed this during a live online interview August 7th.

Of particular note were his comments about HARP 3, the proposed third version of the Home Affordable Refinance Program. HARP was first introduced in 2009 to help struggling homeowners reduce their mortgage payments by refinancing their government-secured loans (mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).

HARP 3 would make it easier for all homeowners, whether they have a government-secured loan or a private one, to refinance their mortgage.

Despite all the great news in housing (there’s plenty of it in the RE/MAX National Housing Report), the truth is that there are still many homeowners who are underwater or who haven’t regained all of the equity they lost during the recession. Most of the people this pertains to probably bought their homes at the peak of the market, when home values were inflated and interest rates were closer to 7 percent.

If homeowners were able to take advantage of the amazing interest rates right now (about 4.5 percent!), they’d be able to regain equity more quickly; they wouldn’t be paying as much interest at the same time that their home’s value is inching higher.

HARP 3 would be good for homeowners, for neighborhoods, for the housing market, and for the overall economy. And it’s especially good that there’s buy-in all the way at the top.

As President Obama noted, if more people are able to refinance their homes, they’re more likely to feel comfortable taking on something like a car loan. When consumer confidence is high, that’s when the economy is at its strongest.

If you think a HARP 3 program would be good for the United States, let your congressman or congresswoman know.

If you’re a homeowner who’s struggling, contact a RE/MAX All Pro Agent who can help you reach the best resolution.

Fireplace Maintenance Checklist

As days get shorter and weather gets colder, we retreat indoors to the warmth of our homes and hearths. If you have a fireplace, fall is a great time to make sure the chimney and flue are in good working order. If your assessment uncovers any issues that gives you pause, call in a chimney professional to diagnose the problem before it gets big, expensive, and potentially dangerous.

 

Exterior
Visually assess the chimney from the outside. Is it leaning? Are there any chipped bricks or masonry joints? Do you see any cracks or holes? If your chimney is factory-built metal, look for any corrosion, stains, or loose sections. If your chimney is exposed to your attic, make sure to check there, as well. Look for any signs indicating that repairs are necessary.

Fireplace Maintenance Tips - Chimney Cap

Photo: Bat Guys

Chimney Cap
A good cap can reduce damage caused to a chimney by water and wildlife. Rain and snow can enter an uncapped chimney and subsequently freeze and thaw, causing expansion damage. Small wildlife can nest in chimneys, clogging them and potentially introducing fleas, ticks, worms and other disease-causing pests into the home. A chimney cap with screen mesh will keep animals out, while shielding your roof from embers and sparks.

Leaks and Stains
Inside the house, check the area around your chimney for any stains or dampness. These could be caused by faulty flashing around the chimney at the roof line, or by a damaged flue liner. If you see signs of water around your chimney, call a chimney professional right away.

Flue
Open the clean-out door from the base of the flue, located either in your basement or outside the house. Using a small mirror and flashlight to see up the flue, look for buildup of soot and also any cracks, holes, or separations. If in doubt, give your chimney professional a call for a good checkup and cleaning.

Fireplace Maintenance Tips - Wood burning fireplace

Photo: Fireplace Stop

Fireplace
Check the brickwork in your fireplace for wear. Check the damper, as well—it should open and close easily. Look into the smoke chamber above the damper to see if it has a buildup of soot. Again, call your chimney professional for service if you see any of those telltale signs.

Chimney safety should be a high priority for every homeowner. With regular maintenance, your fireplace and chimney can give you years of wonderful service. A chimney professional can spot things that even a diligent homeowner could miss. Call on a pro to do regular cleanings and safety checks as a part of your home maintenance routine. Then throw another log on the fire, sit back, and enjoy.

 

Article Credit: http://www.bobvila.com/blogs/fireplace-maintenance-checklist/

For more on fireplaces, consider:

Gas Fireplaces 101
12 “Different” Ways to Store Firewood
Quick Tip: Make Your Fireplace More Efficient

RE/MAX Chairman Dave Liniger explains housing can help the overall economy

RE/MAX Chairman and Co-founder Dave Liniger, asks the presidential candidates to let housing help the economy (http://bit.ly/R2inNG) on Fox Business’s Markets Now – November 2, 2012.

 

Short Sale: Avoid Foreclosure

There may be another option to save you and your home from foreclosure. Short sales allow you to avoid foreclosure and salvage your credit. Contact a knowledgeable RE/MAX agent to find out more.

Don’t Miss the 2013 RE/MAX R4, 40th Anniversary Celebration

Put it on the calendar and book your trip today to the 2013 RE/MAX R4 and RE/MAX 40th Anniversary Celebration, Feb. 25-28, at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

Dave Liniger, RE/MAX Chairman, talks housing and economy on CNBC’s Power Lunch

Housing Outlook BRIGHTER!

RE/MAX Agents Outperform the Competition

RE/MAX CEO, Margaret Kelly, discusses how RE/MAX agents are successfully helping more home buying and selling consumers. Sales statistics show that for 13 consecutive years RE/MAX agents have out- performed the competition, and are working hard to better serve their clients. Nobody in the world sells more real estate than RE/MAX.

Antelope Valley Real Estate Experts

Introducing the RE/MAX All-Pro Minute

A panel of experts answering questions
from home-owners, home-buyers, and investors

 

Have a question? CLICK HERE to contact us for an answer 

Your question may be posted in our next video to help others get the answers they need!

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7 Smart Steps Every New Homeowner Should Take

Antelope Valley Real Estate Experts

RE/MAX All-Pro Presents Real Estate Tips from Investopedia

800.336.3629 Bringing families Home Serving the Entire Antelope Valley Since 1990 

7 Smart Steps Every New Homeowner Should Take

Turning the key in a lock that no landlord has access to, reading in a hammock in your own backyard and painting your dining room bright red – what could be more exciting than making the leap from renter to first-time homeowner? Getting swept up in all the excitement is a wonderful feeling, but some first-time homeowners lose their heads and make mistakes that can jeopardize everything they’ve worked so hard to earn.

TUTORIAL: How To Buy Your First Home

Don’t be one of those people; take a few moments to ponder these seven practical concerns that will help ensure that your first home becomes the place of luxury and financial freedomyou’ve anticipated.

1. Don’t Overspend on Furniture and Remodeling 
You’ve just handed over a large portion of your life savings for a down paymentclosing costs and moving expenses. Money is tight for most first-time homeowners – not only are their savings depleted, their monthly expenses are often higher as well, thanks to the new expenses that come with home ownership, such as water and trash bills, and extra insurance.

 

Everyone wants to personalize a new home and upgrade what may have been temporary apartment furniture for something nicer, but don’t go on a massive spending spree to improve everything all at once. Just as important as getting your first home is staying in it, and as nice as solid maple kitchen cabinets might be, they aren’t worth jeopardizing your new status as a homeowner. Give yourself time to adjust to the expenses of home ownership and rebuild your savings – the cabinets will still be waiting for you when you can more comfortably afford them. (For further reading, see To Rent Or Buy? The Financial Issues.)

 

2. Don’t Ignore Important Maintenance Items
One of the new expenses that accompanies home ownership is making repairs. There is no landlord to call if your roof is leaking or your toilet is clogged (on the plus side, there is also no rent increase notice taped to your door on a random Friday afternoon when you were looking forward to a nice weekend). While you should exercise restraint in purchasing the nonessentials, you shouldn’t neglect any problem that puts you in danger or could get worse over time, turning a relatively small problem into a much larger and costlier one. (For tips on how to spot problems with a potential home before you buy it, see Do You Need A Home Inspector?)

 

3. Hire Qualified Contractors
Don’t try to save money by making improvements and repairs yourself that you aren’t qualified to make. This may seem to contradict the first point slightly, but it really doesn’t. Your home is both the place where you live and an investment, and it deserves the same level of care and attention you would give to anything else you value highly. There’s nothing wrong with painting the walls yourself, but if there’s no wiring for an electric opener in your garage, don’t cut a hole in the wall and start playing with copper. Hiring professionals to do work you don’t know how to do is the best way to keep your home in top condition and avoid injuring – or even killing – yourself. (For tips on finding qualified workers, read The Better Business Bureau’s Tool Belt For Saving Cash. For home improvement projects most homeowners can tackle themselves, read Do-It-Yourself Projects To Boost Home Value.)

 

4. Get Help with Your Tax Return 
Even if you hate the thought of spending money on an accountant when you normally do your returns yourself, and even if you’re already feeling broke from buying that house, hiring an accountant to make sure you complete your return correctly and maximize your refund is a good idea. Home ownership significantly changes most people’s tax situations and the deductions they are eligible to claim. Just getting your taxes professionally done for one year can give you a template to use in future years if you want to continue doing your taxes yourself. (For more insight, see Crunch Numbers To Find The Ideal Accountant and Give Your Taxes Some Credit.)

 

5. Keep Receipts for Home Improvements
When you sell your home, you can use these costs to increase your home’s basis, which can help you to maximize your tax-free earnings on the sale of your home. In 2008, you could have earned up to $250,000 tax free from the sale of your home if it was your primary residence and you had lived there for at least two of five years before you sold it. This assumes that you owned the home alone – if you owned it jointly with a spouse, you could each have gotten the $250,000 exemption. (To learn more about how having a spouse can affect your tax return, read The Tax Benefits Of Having A Spouse and Happily Married? File Separately!)

 

Let’s say you purchased your home for $150,000 and were able to sell it for $450,000. You’ve also made $20,000 in home improvements over the years you’ve lived in the home. If you haven’t saved your receipts, your basis in the home, or the amount you originally paid for your investment, is $150,000. You take your $250,000 exemption on the proceeds and are left with $50,000 of taxable income on the sale of your home. However, if you saved all $20,000 of your receipts, your basis would be $170,000 and you would only pay taxes on $30,000. That’s a huge savings: in this case, it would be $5,000 if your marginal tax rate is 25%. (For more insight, see Is it true that you can sell your home and not pay capital gains tax?)

 

6. Don’t Confuse a Repair with an Improvement
Unfortunately, not all home expenses are treated equally for the purpose of determining your home’s basis. The IRS considers repairs to be part and parcel of home ownership -something that preserves the home’s original value, but does not enhance its value. This may not always seem true. For example, if you bought a foreclosure and had to fix a lot of broken stuff, the home is obviously worth more after you fix those items, but the IRS doesn’t care – you did get a discount on the purchase price because of those unmade repairs, after all. It’s only improvements, like replacing the roof or adding central air conditioning, which will help decrease your future tax bill when you sell your home.

 

For gray areas (like remodeling your bathroom because you had to bust open the wall to repair some old, failed plumbing), consult IRS Publication 530 and/or your accountant. And on a non-tax-related note, don’t trick yourself into thinking it’s OK to spend money on something because it’s a necessary “repair” when in truth it’s really a fun improvement. That isn’t good for your finances. (To find out which improvements can add the most value to your home, read Add Value To Real Estate Investments.)

 

7. Get Properly Insured
Your mortgage lender requires you not only to purchase homeowners insurance, but also to purchase enough to fully replace the property in the event of a total loss. But that’s not the only insurance coverage you need as a homeowner. If you share your home with anyone who relies on your income to help pay the mortgage, whether it’s a girlfriend or a child, you’ll need life insurance with that person named as a beneficiary so he or she won’t lose the house if you die unexpectedly. Similarly, you’ll want to have disability-income insurance to replace your income if you become so disabled that you can’t work. (For ideas on how to save money on your home insurance, readInsurance Tips For Homeowners.)

 

Also, once you own a home, you have more to lose in the event of a lawsuit, so you’ll want to make sure you have excellent car insurance coverage. If you are self-employed as a sole proprietor, you may want to consider forming a corporation for greater legal protection of your assets. You may also want to purchase an umbrella policy that picks up where your other policies leave off. If you are found at fault in a car accident with a judgment of $1 million against you and your car insurance only covers the first $250,000, an umbrella policy can pick up the rest of the slack. These policies are usually issued in the millions. (For more on car insurance, see Shopping For Car Insurance.)

Bottom Line
With the great freedom of owning your own home comes great responsibilities. You must manage your finances well enough to keep the home and maintain the home’s condition well enough to protect your investment and keep your family safe. Don’t let the excitement of being a new homeowner lead you to bad decisions or oversights that jeopardize your financial or physical security. 

 

For further reading, see To Rent Or Buy? There’s More To It Than Money.

 

Amy Fontinelle is a financial journalist and editor for a variety of websites, public policy organizations, and book publishers. She has written hundreds of published articles and blog posts on topics including budgeting, credit management, real estate and investing. Her articles have been featured on the homepage of Yahoo! and on Yahoo! Finance, Forbes.com, SFGate.com and numerous local news websites.

 

 

Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/mortgages-real-estate/09/new-homeowner-tips.asp#ixzz1T9Kf8Wwr

Antelope Valley Real Estate Experts800.336.3629 Bringing families Home Serving the Entire Antelope Valley Since 1990