Thursday, March 29, 2012

Don't Miss The Recall

Occasionally, you hear about an important recall on a product you have and you take care of it immediately. However, if you were to miss such a notice, it could put you or your family in jeopardy.

You can subscribe to the U.S. government's service to notify the public when recalls are made on vehicles, tires and child restraints through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on their site called SaferCar.gov.

You'll receive a notification by email when there is a new recall based on the type you selected. You can change your selections or unsubscribe at any time by going back to their website in the "Manage Your Notifications" section.

We're committed to helping you be a better homeowner by providing information on items that can protect your home's value, reduce expenses, improve maintenance and increase the enjoyment of your home.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

When Mortgage Debt Is Cancelled

The Mortgage Forgiveness Relief Act of 2007 was passed by Congress to avoid additional financial hardship that some homeowners might experience due to a foreclosure or short sale. The law affects mortgage relief that occurs from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2012.

Normally, IRS considers partial or total debt forgiven by a lender to be treated as ordinary income. This not only affects foreclosures but even short sales where only part of the debt is forgiven would trigger additional taxes for the homeowner. There are exceptions that apply such as bankruptcy and insolvency.

The forgiveness is only applicable to taxpayers' principal residence and only acquisition debt used to buy, build or improve the home. The additional cash taken out when refinancing a home will not be eligible for the relief unless it is used for capital improvements.

The lender is required to submit a 1099 form to IRS and provide the homeowner a copy who will file the forgiven amount on Form 982 as part of their 1040 tax return. How this affects your individual situation may differ due to other circumstances and advice from a tax professional is recommended.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Another Indication...It's A Good Time To Buy

The Housing Affordability Index was developed over thirty years ago to help consumers determine when it is a good time to buy a home. It's considered advantageous to the buyer when the index is over 100 because a median income family can qualify for a median price home.

Recent figures released by the National Association of REALTORS' economic department show that the 2011 index of 184.5 is the highest annual average since it has been calculated. The most recent month released, December 2011, was 194.9. The index is also broken down into four regions of the country.

The two major components that contribute to the index are home prices and mortgage interest rates which are lower than they've been in the last five years which account for the dramatic rise in the index since 2006.

The Housing Affordability Index is another indication that this is a good time to buy a home for people who have good credit, a down payment and want a home. It may be the best time we'll see in our lifetimes.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

FHA Fees Going Up April 9, 2012

FHA has raised the annual Mortgage Insurance Premium to 1.25% beginning April 9th.  MIP is required on all FHA loans and used to fund losses by lenders for borrowers who default on their mortgages.  As of June 1st, FHA loans in excess of the standard maximum of $625,500, in high-cost areas, will have a premium of 1.5% of the loan amount.

In addition to the increase in the annual MIP, FHA also announced it plans to raise the fee on the up-front MIP from 1.00% to 1.75%.  No date was reported for its implementation.

The bottom line will result in a borrower’s payments going up.  However, it might not be restricted to the MIP.  Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that both 30 year and 15 year mortgages have gone up too.

One way to avoid the increase is to have a completed sales contract and have your lender order the FHA commitment prior to April 9, 2012.  If you plan on buying a home this spring, there is a reason to do it earlier rather than later.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fix It Anyway

"If it isn't broke, don't fix it" is certainly popular advice, but if you've ever had a serious plumbing leak, you certainly wished you had taken care of the problem earlier.

Washing machines, like all appliances, are supposed to work and when they don't, it's time to have them fixed or replaced. However, there is a critical connection from your water supply that may even be older than your washing machine itself.

Ask someone whose hose broke while they were asleep or out of town and you'll hear stories of how quickly the water can damage walls, flooring and furniture. Almost anyone can replace the hoses with a pair of pliers for under $30.00 to avoid this potential catastrophe.

As you're shopping for the replacement hoses, consider the braided stainless steel connectors. The advantage is that the stainless steel offers additional protection should a soft spot develop in the hose beneath. They'll cost a little more but offer considerably more protection for a nominal price.