Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Protecting Your Credit

One of the “big” three credit bureaus recently announced that a massive hack has exposed the personal information of up to 143 million people. To add perspective to that statement, that is about two-thirds of American credit card holders or close to half the population of the United States.  Part of protecting your credit is being vigilant and making it difficult for thieves to steal your identity. 17405556-250.jpg

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, an initial step is to place a fraud alert on your account. Contact one credit reporting company (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion), tell them you are an identity theft victim and ask the company to put a fraud alert on your credit file. Confirm that the company will contact the other two companies.

The initial fraud alert will make it harder for an identity thief to open accounts in your name. The alert lasts for 90-days and it can be renewed.

A more severe precaution called a credit freeze restricts access to your credit report. A credit freeze makes it more difficult for thieves to use your identity to apply for loans or credit cards in your name.

By contacting each of the three credit reporting agencies separately, you can request a temporary freeze. This would prevent them from providing credit information without both your explicit permission and a PIN that temporarily lifts the freeze.

Unlike the fraud alerts, the agencies may charge you a fee for instituting the freeze in addition to another fee to lift the freeze each time.

A credit freeze will not affect your credit score. If you are in the process of buying a home, contact your loan officer and discuss the decision you are considering. If you will be making a mortgage application in the near future, you can temporarily lift the freeze for the lender you are using.

A trusted mortgage professional is a key team member in purchasing a home. Making an appointment with them is one of the first steps along with determining your real estate professional. Contact us to get a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional.

To request a credit freeze, you can do it online or by phone:

Equifax – 800-349-9960 | Experian – 888-397-3742 | Trans Union – 888-909-8872

For more information, see Credit Freeze FAQs at the Federal Trade Commission.

It is important to personally monitor your credit reports through annual credit report.com to discover any unusual activity.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Investing on Your Side of the Fence

Denver horse properties is not the topic here so lets not get distracted! Below is a sound investment opportunity for anyone who has owned a home and is worried about college tuitions in the future, or just wants a steady, dependable investment. And Lord knows I have been distracted into "trading schemes", "oil & gas" investments, etc where I really had no business going. Hence our opening line today:

The grass tends to look greener on the other side of the fence. Maybe that’s why some people invest in things they don’t understand. It has been said that the grass is just as hard to mow on the other side of the fence so stay with what your most familiar.Denver

Single-family homes used for rental property give a person a chance to invest in something they understand: a home. They also have distinct advantages over other types of investments.

An investor can borrow up to 80% of the value at fixed interest rates 30 years. The financing creates leverage so that the investor can benefit from the increase in value of the home not just the down payment.

It is reasonable to expect that the home will appreciate while providing tax advantages and practical control that are not available with many other investments. Low housing inventory in many markets has caused rents to increase and low new home growth will make it difficult to keep up with demand.

Consider a $150,000 home purchased for cash that would rent for $1,500 per month. With $18,000 income and allowing for property taxes, insurance and maintenance, it is still reasonable to expect $10,000 net income. There would be an 8% return on investment without considering tax savings or future appreciation compared with 5-year CDs paying less than 2.35% and a 10-year Treasury yield at 2.13%.

An added bonus is the amortization that occurs on the loan as the principal is reduced with each payment. It becomes a forced savings account that increases the equity and isn’t taxable until the property is sold.

The reasonable control has a lot of appeal to many investors who find the volatility of the stock market unacceptable and don’t want the risk associated with alternative investments. Please contact me if you’d like to know more about available opportunities.

Even though our market is drastically different than the example above, the rents make up for it. Denver's median rent is in the $1400 per month for a 2 bedroom condo, while a 2000 square foot house might rent for over $2000 per month, depending on the neighborhood. Therefore, if you want to investigate buying a rental home as an investment property; for college tuition or other; lets have a chat. Contact me

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Deductible Dilemma

Denver home owners have experienced more than our fair share of insurance claims with the hail we seem to get during the season. And making sure we have the right amount of coverage balanced with the deductible is more math than I care to do in a month. But to be well protected one needs to do that analysis. And folks across the country today are finding that their insurance simply does not cover the losses they are facing. Do the Denver Double check of your coverage with your agent, and remember...

The purpose of insurance is to shift the risk of loss to a company in exchange for a premium. Most policies have a deductible which reduces the amount of the claim that is paid by having the insured share in the first part of the loss.Denver flood insurance

In the process of managing insurance premiums, policy holders often consider higher deductibles to lower the premium. Lower deductibles mean less money out of pocket if a loss occurs but also results in higher premiums. Higher deductibles result in lower premiums but require that the insured bear a larger part of the loss.

A small fire in a $300,000 home that resulted in $2,500 of damage might not be covered if the policy holder has a 1% deductible. If the homeowner can afford to handle the cost of repairs in exchange for cheaper premiums, it might be worth it. On the other hand, if that loss would be difficult for the homeowner, a change in the deductible could be considered.

Homes in high-risk flood areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders require additional flood insurance. However, each homeowner needs to assess the risk of being able to financially sustain a flood loss on their home when flood insurance is not required. The recent events in south Texas and Louisiana are evidence that the unexpected can happen.

It is important to review your deductible and discuss risks with your property insurance agent so that you’re familiar with the amount and make any changes that would be appropriate before a claim is made.  The FEMA website has information and frequently asked questions about flood insurance.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Your Home's Equity Could Be the Answer

When I got into real estate here in Denver one of the first things I realized was there were months with nothing and others with plenty. Home sales were good and bad, so I needed some kind of way to fill in the dips, valleys and smooth the road. A Home equity line did the trick. Here is somemore...

A home equity line of credit, HELOC, is a mortgage loan made to homeowners to be used on an as-needed basis. A lender, such as a bank, will approve a borrower for a specified amount based on the equity in their home and all the necessary paperwork is signed to authorize the loan.Denver Home Equity

The line of credit amount is available to the borrower and no interest is due until some or all the money is used. When the money is paid back, the line of credit is again available in full to the borrower.

The specifics of the repayment will depend on the HELOC lender. It may require interest only or it may require amortized payments of principal and interest.

The proceeds from a HELOC can be used to make improvements on the home or anything else such as medical expenses, college tuition or unexpected expenses or other liquidity issues.

Unlike personal credit card interest, the interest on a HELOC may be tax deductible. Your tax advisor will be able to let you know about your situation.

Rates and fees can vary widely on HELOC loans. Borrowers should shop around, compare and get recommendations before deciding on a lender.

The truth is that sometimes folks use HELOCs for other purposes. One might be to buy an investment property. Or do a kitchen update, or even add on to the house. One thing you cannot do is get a HELOC when your house is on the market for sale. SO make sure you reach out before so we can talk through your plans. CONTACT ME

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Which Value Do You Want?

Often when asked to help someone sell their home, or just sit and visit, the value ends up being staying in Denver, versus moving across town or to another state. Your decision may be based upon the estimated value that I can provide you, and that may even suffice for an estate! So when you are thinking it might be time to move, a conversation about real estate might be the best way to determine what the plans really are. But read on, there's more...

What your home is worth depends on why you ask the question. It could be one value based on a purchase or sale and an entirely different value for insurance purposes.Denver real estate

Fair market value is the price a buyer and seller can agree upon assuming both are knowledgeable, willing and unpressured by extraordinary events. This value is generally indicated by a comparable market analysis done by real estate professionals.

Insured value is determined for insurance coverage. Homeowner policies typically have replacement clauses in them and the cost of demolition, new construction and the added complexities of matching existing construction could exceed the cost of new construction.

Investment value is based on the income it can generate during its useful life. This value is dependent on what kind of yield an investor requires to capitalize the value over time. The formula for this is to divide net operating income by the capitalization rate required by the investor.

The assessed value of a home is used to determine the property taxes the owner must pay. This value is determined by the responsible state government agency.

Homeowners are generally more familiar with their home’s market value. Since it can be lower than the replacement cost, owners should review the insured value with their property insurance agent periodically.

There can be a surprising difference in each of these separate values. It is important to know the purpose that it is going to be used for the value.

Due to my level of experience I am often asked to establish a value for a home here in Denver that is being managed by an estate or a trust, and they need to liquidate. A divorce can be another reason to get a value for a home as can the blending of 2 families, or the expansion of another. I have even estimated value for an un-developed oil & gas lease in the DJ Basin. Life as a Realtor here in Denver can be very diverse. So Have a conversation about real estate.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Shorter Term - More Savings

When counseling someone about that next Denver home it always seems to be the question: "How much can I afford?".Only the most disciplined clients can stay in the 15 year mortgage range of price, but it can be so worth it. And it can also provide the college tuition for later on, simply by providing the equity in your home. Yet that first/second home is about other things, like family & schools, and neighborhoods. So read on...

Whether you’re refinancing your current home or buying a new one, something worth considering is a 15-year loan rather than a 30-year term. The payments will be a little higher but you’ll get a lower interest rate and you’ll build equity much faster.Denver short term

Let’s look at an example of a $300,000 mortgage with the choice of a 30-year term with a 3.92% rate compared to a 15-year term with a 3.2% rate. The payments would be $682.28 higher on the shorter term but the equity would be considerably higher even after you adjust for the higher payments.

Another benefit is that the shorter-term loan creates a forced savings situation where the savings on longer term loan might end up being spent rather than being saved and invested.  A conscious decision to pay more in payments could pay big dividends in the future.

30 vs 15 in Denver

When the time comes to "discuss your plans" about whether to re-finance, sell that Denver home and move into something that suits your lifestyle, or to access the equity for improvements, I can aim you at professionals who can help. Just CONTACT ME to start the ball rolling.


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Home Energy Aware

When we first moved to Denver and bought that first house, I was thrilled to have aluminium dual paned windows. Today they would be the first thing torn out, yet there are people who can only afford that house. Extra insulation, and more efficient, dual speed heating systems, even a furnace that looks like a fireplace, have all come along to help us reduce our energy bills. So read on Denver...

After the mortgage payment, the largest homeowner expense is for utilities and the major component is energy.  Contributing factors include air leaks, insulation, heating and cooling equipment, water heaters and lighting.Where does my money go.png

Computers, monitors, TVs, cable and satellite boxes, DVRs and power adapters are spinning your electric meter even when they’re not being used. Even though they only represent a small percentage of a home’s total energy consumption, about 3/4 of the electricity is used when the products are turned off.

Unplugging devices can actually make a difference in the size of your electric bill. Plugging several of these offenders into a power strip with a single on/off switch may make the task easier. Most computers have options to put them into sleep mode or even turn when not in use.

The Department of Energy has an Energy Saver Guide and do-it-yourself suggestions.

Here is a offer you might not want to refuse! Anyone who buys a house in metro Denver from me this year will get a free energy/airleak audit from me. This service is known as a "blower test" where air is blown into the home (or sucked out depending on the season) and thermal images are taken with infrared camera to see where insulation can be added. Additionally, if you have newer appliances, or features that are saving energy, those will be noted. And just so you know, and Debbie with Bestway Insulation will be there; what a font of information she is. You can reach her at 303 469 0808 if you want to know more about the service offered or just CONTACT ME.