Monday, October 4, 2010

Losing your house because of unpaid HOA fees?

People Are Losing Their Homes Because of Disputes With Their Homeowners' Associations
What’s the latest reason people are losing their homes? It’s not just bankruptcies and late mortgage payments. It’s disputes with their Homeowners’ Associations. According to ABC News, over 80 million people in North America live in “self-governing” communities, run by boards that decide everything from the color of paint on houses, to trash pickups, to street parking, and collect fees to minimize crime, repair roads, and take care of pools, gardens and other public areas. Homeowners who break the rules – or don’t pay their fees – are fined and forced to bring their property into compliance. Fines can easily snowball to six figures, leading to foreclosures, violence, and homeowners jailed for small infractions.
For example, an ailing Florida grandfather couldn’t pay his mortgage and afford to re-sod his lawn. So, he let it die. He was thrown in jail until neighbors pitched in to replace his grass. A North Carolina man’s fines for unpaid dues and an illegal white picket fence reached nearly $25,000. A few days before he was scheduled to be evicted for the unpaid fines, he burned his house to the ground – while he was inside it.
So, how can you protect yourself? If you’re buying in a regulated community, read the deed restrictions and Homeowners Association requirements and penalties before you close escrow. If you already live there, re-read the paperwork so you know where you stand. Finally, don’t ignore any notices about late payments or violations, which can lead to a lien and even foreclosure. In fact, go out of your way communicate with your board – so you can work out a solution that works for everybody.
Moral of this story: Even if you can't pay the mortgage, if you want to do a short sale to save your credit...keep up to date on your HOA fees. Unpaid HOA fees can wreck or break a sale.

Friday, September 3, 2010

5 Reasons Homeownership Is Better Than Renting
The seemingly endless run of bad housing news is discouraging some potential home buyers from considering a purchase. But the truth is that the advantages of homeownership have very little to do with investment gains. The best things about owning a home have a lot more to do with personal comfort and satisfaction.Here are five of them:·
1. Be your own landlord. The bank can only kick you out if you don’t pay; a landlord can be much less dependable – deciding to sell the property or choosing to live there themselves.·
2. Paying the principal is forced savings. Yes, it’s possible that home prices will fall further. It is also possible that your 401(k) will lose value. But over the long haul, both are likely to enjoy modest gains in value.·
3. Fixed-rate mortgages never rise – and eventually you pay them off. With mortgage rates at record lows, people who buy now are locking in real bargains.·
4. Good schools. Family-sized rentals are harder to come by in areas with excellent public schools.·
5. Spacious properties in pleasant neighborhoods. Sizable homes in attractive communities are almost always owned – not rented.
Source: The New York Times, Ron Lieber (08/27/2010)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stage to Sell Your Home Fast- Some thrifty tips

With today's market turnaround, more inventory is coming on the market, the median sales price is starting to rise and multiple offers are coming in in certain price ranges, so it's important to not only price your home right but to make it appealing on the first visit!

May 19, 2010--Surveys show that staging pays off and often helps to sell a home fast. But don't spend thousands to make a big impact. Put the home center stage with these thrifty tips:
1. First Impressions Count. Roll out the red carpet for potential home buyers by sprucing up your entryways, especially the one on a lockbox. Welcome mats, planters filled with seasonal flowers, and clutter-free foyers and hallways set the stage.

2. Sell the Space, Not Your Stuff. Remember that the goal of a successful showing is to make a prospect feel at home – like it's theirs, not yours. Put away your extensive personal collections. Less is more: open up your space so prospects can actually see what they're buying.

3. Paint and Elbow Grease Work Wonders. Fresh paint and a thorough cleaning will give you the greatest “bang for your buck”. Remember that neutral walls are your best bet when staging a home for sale. Lowe's has all the right shades to make your home more inviting. Get started with Lowe's online Paint Visualizer.

4. Go with the Flow. Arrange furniture for easy traffic flow. Consider placing a major piece of furniture at an angle, such as a couch or desk. Angles add interest and can create a more open feel.

5. See the Light. Move lamps to dark corners and arrange window treatments so that natural light floods your rooms. Brighter is better, and your rooms will look larger. Visit Lowe's extensive lighting section for the latest in fashionable, functional lighting.

6. Go Green. Live plants can add decorative flair, without spending a bundle. Plants and cut flowers have a way of warming up a room.

7. Don't Forget the Outdoors. If you have a porch, deck or patio, clean the furniture and replace worn cushions. Give your deck a fresh finish with a new stain and seal.

8. Make the Kitchen Sparkle. Declutter the countertops by removing toasters, food processors, and other non-decorative items. If you have a breakfast table or counter, put out a couple of table settings complete with place mats, napkins, and dinnerware.

9. Warm Up an Empty Home. If your home is vacant, consider renting furniture for key rooms, but don't go overboard. Ask your real estate professional for advice, based on your home's unique features and selling points.These home staging tips are a great place to start as you gather ideas for your open house.

(Jennifer and Marion have their own inventory of staging materials- make an appointment for staging ideas and ways to sell your home fast: or (831)254-8654, text OK)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How Many Credit Cards is Too Many?

While one in seven Americans has at least 10 credit cards, the average is four, according to a report from Experian. The national average interest rate on credit cards as of November 2009 is 12.64%.

So what is the correct number of credit cards a consumer should have to most effectively manage and optimize their overall credit profile? The answer is not simple; it’s not the number of cards you have, but how you manage them.
TIP: utilize your credit card each month but do not allow the balance to exceed more than about 30% of your credit line.
Always pay at least the minimum payment but pay extra when possible and pay ON TIME.

By doing this your credit card utilization and payment history provides a strong contribution to your credit score and risk profile, which should help you obtain lower interest rates on new credit in the future.

Beware: Although you make your payment on time every month, if you are regularly “maxing out” your credit card limit, you are actually negatively impacting your credit score and profile. Your overall credit profile would be better served spreading the expense over two or three cards and maintaining the card limits at or below 30%.

The reality is that you can have excellent credit with one well-managed credit card with a positive established history. The primary variable is how you manage your credit versus how much credit you have access to use. The general makeup of a credit score is based: 30% on payment history, 35% on the amounts you owe compared to available credit, 15% on the length of your credit history, 10% on newly established credit and, finally, 10% on the types of credit you use.
Having the right balance of credit cards and overall access to credit can be extremely helpful. Additionally, well-managed credit cards will assist you in establishing a stronger credit profile and better credit scores that can potentially lead to lower interest rates and better terms when applying for new home loans, auto loans, credit cards or even insurance.
Think carefully about adding new credit cards. Do you need the extra card to manage your credit profile better or are you exposing yourself to a greater and potentially unmanageable debt situation? Whatever the reason, it’s important to know that when you add a new credit card, your credit score will likely suffer a temporary drop until you have established a payment history with that card.
Finally, don’t make the mistake of canceling your older credit cards, even if they have higher interest rates than ones you may get on newer cards. Remember, 30% of your credit score is based on payment history and 15% on the length of your credit history. Keep that older, well-established card for that reason and use it once in a while on smaller purchases.