Moving home can be very exciting, but also very stressful at the same time. If you are methodical and organized you can make the transition much more easily and save time too.
Once you have completed closing, you can decide on a moving date. In this interim period, begin throwing away all that junk from the attic, shed and garage you haven’t seen for years. Go through your possessions and use the opportunity to discard or sell the items you never use. Clean cupboards and pack systematically as you sort.
Decide if you are going to undertake the move yourself with a rental truck and friends or use professional movers. Obtain quotes and book the truck or moving firm. Make sure the moving company is licensed and what level of insurance is available and who is going to be responsible for the packing, especially if you have any precious or valuable items.
Seal boxes as you pack, and then label them on the outside with marker pen. You can use a simple number system with each number corresponding to a number on a room plan which you can give to the movers on the day. Alternatively a more sophisticated plan is to construct a spreadsheet with a list of individual items, or types of items, to correspond to different numbers or symbols.
Make arrangements with the post office to have your mail forwarded to the new address.
Compile a list of all the people you will have to contact when you move house. In order that you can do this soon after moving without actually having to hunt out the paperwork, the list should include provider policy numbers and telephone numbers, so you can just check off the list as you speak or write to car insurers, banks, credit card companies etc.
Make arrangements for your children and pets to be looked after on the day- you won’t have time to give them any attention at all.
Find all the hidden keys to your home and outbuildings and give these to your real estate agent just before you move- you won’t have time on the day.
On the day
- Pack some items in your car so you don’t have to wait for them or wonder where they are.
- Keep aside coffee, soft drinks and snacks so you can motivate the movers. If this is safe you can access it at the other end as soon as you get there.
- If you pack a box of cleaning materials, you can clean up each room as the movers empty it and you will be ready to use it in the new house.
- Also keep aside a few plates, knives and forks so you can eat your first carryout later on in your new house.
- Have your bedding with you too so you can at least make up the beds.
- Pack towels, personal toiletries and a change of clothes.
When you arrive
- Take meter readings when you leave and also read the meters at the new house.
- When you first arrive, quickly check everything works, then open the windows to air the property because a great deal of dust will be generated when you start unpacking.
- Ideally you would clean the house thoroughly before moving in, but if this is not possible, do not unpack everything until you can clean the cupboards etc.
- Change the locks as soon as possible because you don’t know if anyone still has access to the keys.
- Organize new telephone and broadband services if you have not been able to do so in advance. In the meantime find out where free WiFi services are available.
- Speak to neighbours and find out where the best GP and dentists are and register the family.
- Find out where the local tip is and continue to declutter as you unpack.
If you are a homeowner and haven’t refinanced your mortgage within the past 12 to 18 months, you are likely paying far more interest on your loan than you need to be paying. Over the past year and a half, home loan interest rates have dropped significantly and are much lower than the options that were offered last year. In addition to new low rates, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has introduced new mortgage refinance initiatives that are helping homeowners more easily refinance and save money very quickly.
The refinance program that works best for you and the amount of money that you can save on your mortgage depends on the type of mortgage that you currently have. There are several different kinds of mortgages, and each one has specific refinance programs that it will qualify for. Not all mortgages will qualify for all types of refinance programs. Here we will discuss the two most popular kinds of loans and the refinance options that work for each one.
FHA and First-Time Homeowner Loans
If you are a first-time homeowner, meaning that the home you currently own is the first one you have ever purchased, you likely have an FHA loan. These loans are great options for first-time buyers as they have low interest rates, low down payment requirements, and low or no upfront closing fees. In addition, they do not require that the buyer purchase additional private mortgage insurance (PMI).
If you have an FHA loan, your mortgage is guaranteed by the government, and you can only refinance with FHA or government programs. Luckily, the FHA has recently released the new FHA streamline Refinance program, which allows homeowners with an FHA loan to refinance quickly and affordably. The new FHA refinance program requires no credit check, no employment verification, and no home appraisal. The purpose of the streamline program is to refine the refinance process, making it happen quickly and very affordably. The fees associated with this program have been reduced or eliminated, and can help homeowners save money within 30 days of applying. If you have an FHA mortgage, the FHA streamline refinance is likely your best bet for lowering your interest rate and saving money.
If you are or have been a member of the United States Armed Forces, you likely used your veteran benefits to purchase your home with a VA loan. If you qualify, VA loans are easily the best home buying option available. They carry the lowest rates, best closing fees, and most convenient terms out of any mortgage available. Only US veterans and members of the Armed Forces qualify for these loans, however, so if you have not served there is no way you can get a VA loan.
Similar to the FHA options, the those with VA loans can also apply for a VA streamline refinance and save money quickly with little or no money paid upfront on fees or application processing. The streamline program requires little verification and does not require a home appraisal. VA mortgage rates are the lowest available out of any mortgage option, and the refinance options are quick and affordable. Current rates are extremely low and can potentially save you thousands on your mortgage depending on your current interest rate.
Start Saving Money Immediately
If you have either of these kinds of mortgages and haven’t yet refinanced your property, or have refinanced but it has been a while since you did, you may be able to save a significant amount of money on your mortgage with the right refinance. Take some time to speak with a few different lenders and learn about their refinance options and see what rates they are currently offering. It is important to shop around as different lenders charge different fees up front and offer slightly different mortgage rates. Be sure you are getting the best deal and start saving today!
Jessica Markam is an associate at StreamlineRefinance.net and writes about current mortgage industry news including refinances, new home loans, and other lending options.
Great News for Home Buyers in Michigan. Check out the recent changes in the law regarding the Principle Residence Exemption (formerly called the Homestead Exemption). This law change will definately help buyers save money on property taxes and will help reduce cash required for closing because they will not have to build up as much in their escrow account to cover the higher tax rate any more.
The Michigan Association of REALTORS® is pleased to report the following recent major RPAC legislative accomplishments.
Principal Residence Exemption – On May 1st Governor Snyder signed legislation providing homebuyers a fair process when it comes to their property taxes. Senate Bill 349 creates two Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) filing dates; one on June 1st, and the other on November 1st. Additionally, this legislation allows bank-owned properties to retain their PRE so that buyers can qualify at the lower rate of taxation. This is particularly important since foreclosures have flooded the market in recent years.
Statewide Taxation Reform - The legislature recently passed historic legislation containing much needed structural tax reforms, along with the elimination of the Michigan Business Tax (MBT) and its burdensome 22% surcharge. The passage of this legislation creates a positive business environment in this state to attract and retain jobs. In passing these tax reforms, Michigan will see increased economic growth and job creation. Our industry fully supports providing a structure to make Michigan a more competitive state for attracting and retaining jobs. With tax reforms in place, Michigan will once again be “open for business”. Prohibition of Private Transfer Fees – Public Act 34 and 35 of 2011 providing a pre-emptive strike on practices that have sprung up in other states where a private party collects a fee every time a property is sold in a development is now law. These fees are an excessive restraint on the transferability of property and also prey upon homebuyers. Non-Recourse Loan Legislation – Public Act 67 of 2012 sponsored by Senator Arlan Meekhof (R-Olive Township), creates the “Nonrecourse Mortgage Loan Act” to do the following:
- Prohibit a post closing solvency covenant from being used as a non-recourse carve-out or as a basis for any claim against a borrower, guarantor, or other surety on a nonrecourse loan.
- Specify that a noncompliant provision in loan documents would be invalid.
- Specify that the Act would not prohibit a loan secured by a mortgage from being fully recourse to the borrower or guarantor, if the loan documents did not contain nonrecourse provisions.
- Include statements of legislative recognition and intent.
When people buy a home most tend to do some bit of research before actually getting serious about the process. However, there is quite a bit more in terms of buying tips home purchasers should be aware of but frequently are not. There were ten critical tips that were shared, by Dottie Herman and Eric Tyson, on the June 2nd broadcast of “Eye on Real Estate” radio show. Herman, the CEO and President of Prudential Douglas Elliman, and Tyson and real estate mogul and best-selling author, discussed real estate topics for listeners near and far.
These tips include:
1. Affordability – Buyers should before even beginning discussion what they can truly afford in a house and what they cannot. This rule is critical to avoid getting locked into a house that will end up costing too much and will eventually end up in a foreclosure down the road. The bank, mortgage broker, and real estate agents won’t always watch out for this. Many times the fees and initial interest pay off any loss risk they might have before the loan is sold off to another lender.
2. Map Out Personal Circumstance – The same way a homebuyer determine affordability ahead of time, he should also understand every aspect of his personal circumstances. This includes all other liabilities, income, demands, expectations and future financial plans. All have an influence on buying a home.
3. Comfort Level – Buying a home also needs to be as stress free as possible. A home buyer will not be in the right frame of mind to buy the right home for his needs if he’s worried about holding onto a job, expecting a child in a month or two, trying to close a major deal, or deal with a divorce. Life has many moments of stress and moments of calm. Buying a home should happen during periods of as much calm as possible.
4. Avoid Salespeople – It never fails. A party goes into buy a home and gets hammered with ten to twenty different sales pitches before the home purchase is done. This can include insurance policies, pest contracts, warranties, alarm systems and even landscaping. Every opportunity to leverage another sale is attempted by home sellers and their affiliates.
5. Hire a Good Financial Planner – This seems like an odd tip. Why does someone need a stock picker to a home purchase? It’s not quite that sort of situation. A financial planner provides a valuable service in looking a one’s financial activities from an outside perspective. A planner can point out where advantages or disadvantages exist, which can thousands of dollars in differences from taxes to real estate investment.
6. Hire Top-Notch Real Estate Representation – Did you know buyers can have real estate agents as well as sellers? It’s true, and those agents get paid by the sale, not out-of-pocket, just like the seller’s agent. Having a good agent, mortgage analyst and home insurance company can make the difference in avoiding home-buying problems or being buried in them.
7. Buy and Refinance? Hold On – Most refinancing costs $5,000 to $10,000 by the time a deal is done. So a homebuyer needs to ask himself, will the change in loan interest recover enough in two years to not only offset that cost but create a cost avoidance of the same amount? If the answer is no, then refinancing should be delayed until a better opportunity comes along.
8. Look for Automation – An electronic, schedule mortgage payment keeps a homeowner on track with his home loan. Without that deadline automatically charging an account, a homeowner could be tempted to delay a payment one month a few days when times are tight. That becomes the start of problems.
9. Still Save and Save Some More – A home purchase may seem to suck up any available money, either in a down payment or related expenses like moving, furniture, accessories and even room paint. However, putting back an emergency fund in one’s savings account as quickly as possible is critical.
10. Mortgage Insurance – Skip It – Agents will push mortgage insurance as a necessary part of the home buying process as a safety net for a home loan. However, it’s not necessary. Instead, a good life insurance policy will truly help provide a financial safety net for a family if income is lost and a mortgage is in jeopardy.
There are also a few after-the-fact issues homeowners should be aware of as well, according to Dottie Herman and Eric Tyson. First, don’t take increases in property tax assessments lying down. Many county assessors change tax rates from behind a desk, never truly evaluating the value of a property versus its actual market worth. When an assessment goes up, an owner should fight it if it seems extreme. Holding onto purchase documents is a smart idea as well; it allows for a true documentation of what a home gained in value when sold later on. Finally, buyers need to purchase the home they truly want within their means. Buying something less will result in immediate dissatisfaction soon after. And given all the money involved in a typical purchase that would be a huge waste.
You just bought a new house and want to make sure you get the most professional efficient cost effective relocation. You can follow these simple steps to ensure this happens.
First, educate yourself on what kind of move you have and how you are being charged for the process. Different types of moves have different types of charges.
- Local Move: You are moving within a local area less than 60 miles. These estimates are based on an hourly rate, depending on how many workers are needed and how much time it will take to pack, load and deliver your possessions. This is called a time and material estimate.
- Out of State Move: Your move is out of the state, estimates will be based on the distance of the move and the weight of your goods. To provide you with an accurate estimate, your sales consultant will need about an hour of your time to walk through your home. He or she is viewing and quantifying everything that will be relocated on your move.
Other factors can influence the price of your move, including what optional services you select for your relocation.
- Packing: Are you going to pack all the loose items in boxes for transport? Or is this a service you would like the professionals to handle?
- Specialty Items: Do you have unique, heavy or delicate pieces, such as automobiles, pianos, large exercise equipment, or large appliances that may need special servicing and attention?
On a local move time is of the essence. The faster the move gets done, the more money you will save. The key is to have everything as ready as possible when your moving crew arrives. Have all boxes taped, labeled and ready to go. You don’t want to end up paying $100 or more an hour for movers to tape boxes. You want your professional crew doing the things that make them the professionals; prepping and wrapping the important items, and handling your precious items with care.
Labeling boxes is also very important. I recommend labeling the boxes with a room location and a brief description of what is in the box. This will save time at destination when items are going into the new home. This avoids the headaches of opening the boxes to see the contents then deciding where it goes. You will be too busy showing the movers where you would like the bigger pieces set and placed.
Additionally, if you have everything prepped and ready there are a couple other time saving tips that can save you time and money. You can disassemble tables, beds and anything else that needs to be disassembled to get out of the house. You can also make items more easily assessable by eliminating stair carries and long walks. Bringing some items from basement to main floor or garage will knock tons of time off your final bill. If manual labor isn’t your thing and you don’t want to take the risk of getting injured you always have the option to just sit back and point and let the experts take care of everything, as they are on your clock and would be happy to assist you with anything.
Finally, if you are moving over 60 miles within the state or out of state your estimate will be based on distance and weight. You really can’t control the distance of your relocation but you can control the final weight of your shipment. Moving provides a great opportunity to sort and eliminate items and household goods no longer needed. You can focus on eliminating heavy items in order to save costs on your move. For example excess books, weight equipment, tools, and large appliances can sneak up on you very quickly towards the final weight of your move. I am not saying to get rid of items you use on a daily basis and are necessities, but a good example would be if you have 20 boxes of old college texts books at 50 pounds a box totaling 1,000 pounds. This is 1,000 pounds of weight you may not want to pay to have moved. Make sure you get things as organized as much as possible before the estimator arrives. This will allow the consultant to quote the move as close as possible to the actual final shipping weight.
It is my hope these small tips will help you understand what is needed to have your most cost effective relocation. If you have any additional question, or would like a free in home estimate, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (734) 740-2072 to schedule an appointment. I look forward to the opportunity to add you or your client to our growing list of satisfied customers.
Morse Moving/agent for ALLIED van lines
Visit our website at www.morsemoving.com
By: G. M. Filisko
Published: January 05, 2012 Don’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary — know the score on each home tax deduction and credit.
As you calculate your tax returns, consider each home tax deduction and credit you are – and are not – entitled to. Running afoul of any of these 10 home-related tax mistakes – which tax pros say are especially common – can cost you money or draw the IRS to your doorstep.
Sin #1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes
You take a tax deduction for property taxes (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/taxes-incentives/property-tax-exemptions/) in the year you (or the holder of your escrow account) actually paid them. Some taxing authorities work a year behind – that is, you’re not billed for 2011 property taxes until 2012. But that’s irrelevant to the feds.
Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you actually paid in 2011, no matter what the date is on your tax bill. Dave Hampton, CPA, tax manager at the Cincinnati accounting firm of Burke & Schindler, has seen home owners confuse payments for different years and claim the incorrect amount.
Sin #2: Confusing escrow amount for actual taxes paid
If your lender escrows funds to pay your property taxes, don’t just deduct the amount escrowed, says Bob Meighan, CPA and vice president at TurboTax in San Diego. The regular amount you pay into your escrow account each month to cover property taxes is probably a little more or a little less than your property tax bill. Your lender will adjust the amount every year or so to realign the two.
For example, your tax bill might be $1,200, but your lender may have collected $1,100 or $1,300 in escrow over the year. Deduct only $1,200. Your lender will send you an official statement listing the actual taxes paid. Use that. Don’t just add up 12 months of escrow property tax payments.
Sin #3: Deducting points paid to refinance
Deduct points you paid your lender to secure your mortgage (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/tax-deductions/deduct-mortgage-interest/) in full for the year you bought your home. However, when you refinance, says Meighan, you must deduct points over the life of your new loan. If you paid $2,000 in points to refinance into a 15-year mortgage, your tax deduction is $133 per year.
Sin #4: Failing to deduct private mortgage insurance
Lenders require home buyers with a down payment of less than 20% to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI). Avoid the common mistake of forgetting to deduct your PMI payments (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/tax-deductions/deducting-private-mortgage-insurance/). However, note the deduction begins to phase out once your adjusted gross income reaches $100,000 and disappears entirely when your AGI surpasses $109,000. Also, unless Congress acts to extend the PMI deduction again, 2011 is the last tax year for which you can take this deduction.
Sin #5: Misjudging the home office tax deduction (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/tax-deductions/tax-deductions-when-you-work-home/)
This deduction may not be as good as it seems. It’s complicated, often doesn’t amount to much of a deduction, has to be recaptured if you turn a profit when you sell your home, and can pique the IRS’s interest in your return. Hampton’s advice: Claim it only if it’s worth those drawbacks. If so, here’s what to know about what you can write off (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/tax-deductions/tax-deductions-when-you-work-home/).
Sin #6: Missing the first-time home buyer tax credit
While the original home buyer tax credit deadline passed in April 2010 (and isn’t available in 2012), military families and some government workers on assignment outside the U.S. were given an extension until April 30, 2011 (http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=215594,00.html), to get a home under contract and take advantage of up to $8,000 in tax credits for first-time buyers and $6,500 in credits for repeat buyers.
It applies to any individual (and, if married, the individual’s spouse) who serves on qualified official extended duty service outside of the United States for at least 90 days during the period beginning after Dec. 31, 2008, and ending before May 1, 2010.
Sin #7: Failing to track home-related expenses
If the IRS comes a-knockin’, don’t be scrambling to compile your records. Many people forget to track home office and home maintenance and repair expenses, says Meighan. File away documents as you go. For example, save each manufacturer’s certification statement for energy tax credits, insurance company statements for PMI, and lender or government statements to confirm property taxes paid.
Sin #8: Forgetting to keep track of capital gains
If you sold your main home last year, don’t forget to pay capital gains taxes on any profit. However, you can exclude $250,000 (or $500,000 if you’re a married couple) of any profits from taxes. So if you bought a home for $100,000 and sold it for $400,000, your capital gains are $300,000. If you’re single, you owe taxes on $50,000 of gains. However, there are minimum time limits for holding property to take advantage of the exclusions, and other details. Consult IRS Publication 523 (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p523.pdf).
Sin #9: Filing incorrectly for energy tax credits
If you made any eligible improvement (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/tax-deductions/how-to-claim-energy-tax-credits/), fill out Form 5695 (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5695.pdf). Part I, which covers the 30%/$1,500 credit for such items as insulation and windows, is fairly straightforward. But Part II, which covers the 30%/no-limit items such as geothermal heat pumps, can be incredibly complex and involves crosschecking with half a dozen other IRS forms. Read the instructions carefully.
Sin #10: Claiming too much for the mortgage interest tax deduction
You can deduct mortgage interest (http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/tax-deductions/deduct-mortgage-interest/) only up to $1 million of mortgage debt, says Meighan. If you have $1.2 million in mortgage debt, for example, deduct only the mortgage interest attributable to the first $1 million.
This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon by readers as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice; tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.
Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
Energy Efficiency: Pick Upgrades that (Actually) Drive Down Costs
By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon
Published: November 3, 2011
A new study says home owners won’t see their utility bills drop until they’ve conducted four or more energy upgrades. Here are projects that will give you the greatest bang for your energy buck.
I’ve long suspected that saving energy is like saving calories: Small measures add up, until a Thanksgiving pecan pie — or a dazzling holiday light display — wrecks a year’s worth of small though consistent efforts.
Evidently I’m right, according to a new study claiming that doing a couple of small, energy-saving measures actually increase utility bills. And that a home owner must perform at least four energy upgrades before their utility bill drops.
The 450-page study, conducted by the eco-curious Shelton Group, found that energy-efficient home owners think they should replace water heaters and install a higher-efficiency HVAC system, though they actually replace windows and add insulation.
We think they’re half right: Adding insulation, especially in the attic, is a low-cost way to reduce utility bills. But replacing windows requires a huge upfront cost, which you probably won’t live long enough to earn back.
To see net-net savings — in your lifetime — select upgrades that reduce energy consumption by 5% and require modest initial investments. We suggest:
Seal and insulate ductwork through unfinished and unheated areas, such as the attic, garage, and crawl spaces.
Install a programmable thermostat so you don’t overheat your house when you’re away or asleep.
Seal air leaks around windows, doors, attic access, and recessed lights.
How many energy-efficient improvements did you make last year? Did you see a drop or increase in your utility bills?
The market has definitely changed
After the last five or six years of very little to no new construction homes 2012 is set to be the year that new construction starts up again. Since there were virtually no new homes built over the last few years there is some pent up demand for new homes. Most of the homes on the market have been distressed in some way either foreclosed or short sale with deferred maintenance. In the areas that I work (about a 25 mile radius around Canton) whenever a home priced properly and in good shape hits the market there are instantly many showings and in many cases multiple offers. There is definitely demand for homes in move in condition.
There are a couple of savvy local builders that have continued to build homes the last few years because they have adapted their business plan to the market conditions. The entry level new construction homes priced from $160k to $250k up have been moving very quickly. The homes that I have walked through have been very well built but typically don’t have a lot of the details that homes were built with five or six years ago.
There are many advantages for buyers to look toward new construction rather than existing homes. The obvious is that there is a builder warranty and everything is new. So with a new home you don’t have to be worried about replacing a roof or furnace. New construction homes are also a clean slate so a buyer can move in and not have to worry about removing traces of a previous owner. Another huge issue that has been prevalent in existing home sales is the appraisal. Appraisals are typically not in issue with new homes.
Builders that have been on the sidelines for the last five years are testing the market and building one or two homes to get back into the marketplace. I firmly believe that this trend will continue and will ramp up significantly as we get closer to the summer months. Communities like Canton, Northville, Novi and Commerce are already seeing a lot of builder activity.
If you are interested in seeing new home constructions that are currently available check out the New Construction tab at DiscoverGreatHomes.com. This site will give you links to available new construction homes available in various communities. When you are ready to start shopping for a new construction home be sure to have a Realtor with the Accredited Buyers Representative (ABR) professional designation working for you. The ABR will help you look at the purchase objectively and help with details such as site selection, options/upgrade selection, new construction financing and negotiating with the builder.
So let’s see if 2012 really shapes up to be the year of New Construction. I welcome you to leave your thoughts and comments on this subject. Have you been looking at homes? I would love to hear your thoughts on this article and also on the market conditions for new construction in Michigan.
Realtor, ABR, SRES
Coldwell Banker Preferred, Realtors
44644 Ann Arbor Road
Plymouth, MI 48170
A recent article published on MSN looks at some mistakes people often make when choosing a neighborhood to relocate to. Most people comb over a potential new home but neglect to spend sufficient time investigating the surrounding neighborhood.
On February 14 HUD announced that they are increasing the annual mortgage insurance that they charge on FHA loans by .25. That means that the current .9% annual MIP charged on an FHA loan with 3.5% down will increase to 1.15%. Additionally, FHA will begin charging annual mortgage insurance on some 15 year loans that they hadn’t done up until now.
The impact of this increase on a buyer will vary based on the loan size but the example that FHA cites in the HUD Mortgagee Letter dated February 14, 2011 shows a $163,000 purchaser with a $157,295 mortgage. This buyer will pay an additional $33 monthly after the increase.
Note that the increase is for case number assigned on or after April 18, 2011. For clarification, lenders typically order a case number on a transaction once a purchase agreement has been accepted and the customer has applied for the loan.
Why does this matter? Are you a home buyer sitting on the fence? Are you negotiating to the last nickel? Are you “giving it a little more time” before they make an offer? This time delaying can and will cost YOU more money. Home Buyers need to get moving now and avoid the increase.