Archive for Maine Commercial Real Estate

Summer eNews

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Welcome to our summer e-Magazine Newsletter! Our loyal followers have grown to well over 40,000 subscribers in all 50 states and several countries around the world. It is humbling that you have chosen Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty to be your eyes and ears for Maine Real Estate.

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Homeownership as an Investment: The Role of Price Appreciation

Homeownership as an Investment: The Role of Price Appreciation | Keeping Current Matters

We recently posted on the results from the latest Home Price Expectation Survey(HPES) showing where residential home prices are headed over the next five years. Today, we want to show you what the results of the report could mean to you.

A good portion of every family’s wealth comes from the equity in the home they live in. As the value of their home (an asset) increases so does their equity. Let’s look at a possible case scenario based on the latest HPES.

Here is a chart showing the survey’s projections on annual appreciation over the next five years:

Projected Mean Percentage Appreciation | Keeping Current Matters

We then looked at the five-year impact this would have on the equity of a family that purchased a home in January for $250,000:

Home Price Appreciation | Keeping Current Matters

Their family wealth (based on increased equity) would increase by $47,772 over those five years.

Bottom Line

If you don’t yet own, perhaps you should be thinking about purchasing. If you already own, maybe it’s time to move up to enjoy your dream home and also ride the increase in equity of the larger asset.

Are Mortgage Points Tax Deductible?

Mortgage points area of Schedule A tax formIf you itemize your deductions on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040, you may be able to deduct all your points in the year you pay them.

Some high-income taxpayers have their total itemized deductions limited, including points. You can read more about that in the instructions for Schedule A.

Lucky for you, the IRS doesn’t care whether you or the homesellers paid the points. Either way, those points are your deduction, not the sellers’.

Tip: Tax law treats home purchase mortgage points differently from refinance mortgage points. Refinance loan points get deducted over the life of your loan. So if you paid $1,000 in points for a 10-year refinance, you’re entitled to deduct $100 per year on your Schedule A.

The Fine Print for Deducting Points

The IRS rules for deducting purchase mortgage points are straightforward, but lengthy. You must meet each of these seven tests to deduct the points in the year you pay them.

1.  Your mortgage must be used to buy or build your primary residence, and the loan must be secured by that residence. Your primary home is the one you live in most of the time. As long as it has cooking equipment, a toilet, and you can sleep in it, your main residence can be a house, a trailer, or a boat.

Points paid on a second home have to be deducted over the life of your loan.

2.  Paying points must be a customary business practice in your area. And the amount can’t exceed the percentage normally charged. If most people in your area pay one or two points, you can’t pay 10 points and then deduct them.

3.  Your points have to be legitimate. You can’t have your lender label other things on your settlement statement, like appraisal fees, inspection fees, title fees, attorney fees, service fees, or property taxes as “points” and deduct them.

4.  You have to use the cash method of accounting. That’s when you report your income to the IRS as it comes in and report your expenses when you pay them. Almost everybody uses this method for tax accounting.

5.  You must pay the points directly. That is, you can’t have borrowed the funds from your lender to pay them. Any points paid by the seller are treated as being paid directly by you.

In addition, monies you pay, such as a downpayment or earnest money deposit, are considered monies out of your pocket that cover the points so long as they’re equal to or more than points.  Say you put $10,000 down and pay $1,000 in points. The downpayment exceeds the points, so your points are covered and therefore you can deduct them if you itemize. If you were to put nothing down but you paid one point, that $1,000 wouldn’t be deductible.

6.  Your points have to be calculated as a percentage of your mortgage. One point is 1% of your mortgage amount, so one point on a $100,000 mortgage is $1,000.

7.  The points have to show up on your settlement disclosure statement as “points.” They might be listed as loan origination points or discount points.

Tip: You can also fully deduct points you pay (for the year paid) on a loan to improve your main home if you meet tests one through five above.

Where to Deduct Points

Figured out that your points are deductible? Here’s how you deduct them:

Your lender will send you a Form 1098. Look in Box 2 to find the points paid for your loan.

If you don’t get a Form 1098, look on the settlement disclosure you received at closing. The points will show up on that form in the sections detailing your costs or the sellers’ costs, depending on who paid the points.

Report your points on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040.

There are two things related to points that you can’t deduct:

1.  Interest buy-downs your builder paid

Some builders put money in an escrow account (as a buyer incentive) that the lender taps each month to supplement your mortgage payment. Those aren’t considered points even though the money is used for an interest payment and it’s prepaid. You can’t deduct the money the builder put into that escrow account.

2.  Interest payments from government programs

You can’t deduct points paid by a federal, state, or local program, such as the federal Hardest Hit Fund, to help you if you’re experiencing financial trouble.

Original article: http://www.realestate.com/

Housing Market to “Spring Forward”

Housing Market to “Spring Forward” | Keeping Current Matters

Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward”! Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.

That hasn’t happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong and is currently three times stronger than last year at this time.

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 datessellers listed their homes in 2014 all fell in April, May or June.

Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2015, meet with a local real estate professional to evaluate the opportunities in your market.

 

13,000-Plus Listings Sell Every Day…Is Yours One of Them?

listings_sell

It’s very exciting when a homeowner entrusts you with the marketing and ultimate sale of their home. Yes, you got a new listing!

Fast-forward a couple of weeks or months, and if the listing hasn’t sold, then you have some explaining to do. In a recent Existing-Home Sales Report from the National Association of REALTORS®, annual home sales are listed at 5.04 million homes. In order to put that number into perspective, let’s divide it by 365 days, and you’ll find that there are 13,699 homes sold every day in the United States on average (not accounting for seasonality).

With all of these homes selling across the country daily, blaming the economy or the local market for an unsold listing isn’t going to be a strong position with the home seller. It’s far more likely that you’ve made one or more common mistakes when pricing your listing.

Here are three common pricing mistakes that prevent listings from selling in a timely manner:

1. Overpricing from the Start

It’s extremely common for sellers to overvalue their homes compared to other homes in the same neighborhood and price range. Our job as local market experts is to advise and counsel home sellers on the correct pricing strategy.

One of the most important steps in correctly pricing the home is to take an honest look at similar homes in the area that have recently sold. While the seller may feel that their home deserves to command a higher relative sale price, the market determined these comps to be a fair price, so buyers will expect your asking price to be in the same ballpark.

An overpriced listing is a sure way to scare off plenty of potential buyers and waste a lot of your time.

2. Ignoring Search Ranges

These days, almost every buyer searches for homes online. If a potential buyer searches for homes in the $250,000 to $300,000 price range, they won’t see your listing if it’s priced at $305,000.

Even if your listing is a perfect fit for the potential buyer, he or she won’t know about it, even though it’s only $5,000 above their price range search.

You want to make sure you’re not pricing your listing just outside of someone’s price range, so be sure to avoid pricing just over common increment breaks.

3. Not Being Open to Offers

There’s an old saying in our business that the first offer is the best offer; however, you should advise the seller to carefully consider any and all offers that come in, even if they’re well below your asking price. Negotiation is the name of the game. It’s not where an offer starts, it’s where mutual acceptance ends.

Do you want your listing to be one of the 13,000-plus homes that will sell tomorrow? Review your pricing strategy today!

Wendy Forsythe is the executive vice president and head of global operations at Carrington Real Estate Services.

 

Protecting Your Nest Egg as You Age

Retirement savings golden nest eggPeople pondering their retirement years often conjure images of spending more time on a favorite pastime or traveling around the country or the world.

Health concerns can intrude on those idyllic scenes, though, not only affecting enjoyment of life but also punching a heavy dent in retirement savings.

“As we age, usually our medical or long-term care expenses increase, sometimes depleting our assets to a level of crisis,” says financial advisor Jake Lowrey, president of Lowrey Financial Group.

“It’s important for retirees, and anyone planning for retirement, to become educated about what the pitfalls are and what they need to do to avoid losing their life savings.”

Long-term care especially can burn a hole in savings accounts. In 2012, for example, nursing home care averaged $74,800 a year, according to a report by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Meanwhile, assisted living facilities averaged $39,500 per year, and home-health services averaged $21 per hour.

More than 10 million Americans need some sort of long-term care, the Kaiser report says. That number covers all ages, even children, but about half are people 65 and older.

“Those older Americans had looked forward to enjoying their golden years,” Lowrey says. “They should be able to have actual golden years instead of what can end up being scary years, both personally and financially.”

Certainly, being able to maintain good health is a key factor in protecting savings and making retirement enjoyable and satisfying, he says.

But life doesn’t always work out that way. Fortunately, there are strategies seniors can use to lessen the impact of expenses brought on by long-term care needs. Lowrey says some of those include:

• VA benefits.
Military veterans may be able to offset nursing home or assisted-living expenses through benefits provided by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. A veteran’s eligibility for long-term care services would be determined based on his or her need for ongoing treatment, personal care and assistance, as well as the availability of the service in the area where the person lives, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Other factors, such as financial eligibility, a service-connected disability, insurance coverage, and/or ability to pay may also come into play.

• Medicaid compliant SPIAs. A SPIA is a single-premium immediate annuity. Typically, a SPIA is a contract with an insurance company where you pay the company a sum of money up front (the premium), and the company promises to pay you a certain amount of money periodically for the rest of your life.

A Medicaid compliant SPIA is a specially designed annuity that pays out over the person’s “life expectancy” and has other specific characteristics. A couple who put money in a Medicaid annuity are able to avoid having the income from that annuity count against the financial assistance a spouse receives for nursing home care.

• Setting up a trust. Trusts can help shelter wealth from the look-back periods in Medicaid requirements and assist in qualifying for VA programs, among other advantages, Lowrey says.

Source: www.lowreyfinancial.com

A Stunning $441 Billion Paid in Rent

A Stunning $441 Billion Paid in Rent | Keeping Current Matters

A recently released study revealed that a whopping $441 Billion was spent on rents in the U.S. in 2014. This represents an increase of over $20 Billion from the year before. As shown on the chart below, rents have increased consistently over the last 20+ years.

Median Rents Since 1988 | Keeping Current Matters

However, the recent increases have been astounding.

Why such a jump?

Many Millennials have postponed the purchase of their first home while waiting for the economy to recover. This has increased demand and dramatically lowered vacancy rates. In a recent article on the MarketWatch, economics reporter Ruth Mantell explains:

“Landlords have ramped up rents by the fastest pace in six years, with national vacancy rates the lowest in two decades.”

Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries let us know that increases will continue:

“Another increase in total rent paid similar to that seen this year isn’t out of the question. In fact, it’s probable.”

Home Values Compared to the Peak of 2006-2007

Home Values Compared to the Peak of 2006-2007 | Keeping Current Matters

There is no doubt that the housing market has recovered from the meltdown that occurred just a few short years ago. However, in some states home values still have not returned to the prices we saw in 2006 and 2007. Here is a breakdown showing where current prices are in each state as compared to peak prices.

HPI Price Since Peak

 

MAINE HOME SALES UP 8.6 PERCENT IN JANUARY

SOUTH PORTLAND (February 23, 2015)—Maine real estate sales continued to climb in January, fueled by second-home buyers and those not deterred by the weather. Maine Listings released monthly statistics today, which show that sales of Maine’s single-family existing homes jumped 8.60 percent last month. The median sales price (MSP) for those sales dipped 3.9 percent to $160,000. The MSP indicates that half of the homes were sold for more and half sold for less.

The National Association of Realtors reported a nationwide sales increase of 3.9 percent in January, while prices rose 6.3 percent to a national MSP of $199,800. Regionally, sales in the Northeast were up 3.3 percent and the regional MSP increased 2.7 percent to $247,800.

Marie Flaherty, 2015 President of the Maine Association of Realtors, said, “The January sales data is further proof of a stabilizing real estate market in Maine.” Flaherty, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northeast Real Estate in Westbrook, added that even though temperatures were quite low, “The weather appears to be having less of an impact on home buyers decisions this year.” She also pointed out that nine of ten homebuyers search the Internet at some point in their home search process, with mainelistings.com and realtor.com having the most comprehensive, accurate information for online research.

Below are two charts showing statistics for Maine and its 16 counties. The first chart lists statistics for the month of January only, statewide. The second chart compares the number of existing, single-family homes sold (units) and volume (MSP) during the “rolling quarter” the months of November 1, 2013 to January 31, 2014 and November 1, 2014 to January 31, 2015.

Maine Real Estate

New York Times: Homeownership is Best Way To Build Wealth

New York Times: Homeownership is Best Way To Build Wealth | Keeping Current Matters

The New York Times recently published an editorial entitled, Homeownership and Wealth Creation.” The housing market has made a strong recovery, not only in sales and prices, but also in the confidence of consumers and experts as an investment.

The article explains:

“Homeownership long has been central to Americans’ ability to amass wealth; even with the substantial decline in wealth after the housing bust, the net worth of homeowners over time has significantly outpaced that of renters, who tend as a group to accumulate little if any wealth.”

Many of the points that were made in the article are on track with the research that the Federal Reserve has also conducted in their Survey of Consumer Finances.

The study found that the average net worth of a homeowner ($194,500) is 36x greater than that of a renter ($5,400).

One reason for this large discrepancy in net worth is the concept of ‘forced savings’ created by having a mortgage payment and was explained by the Times:

“Homeownership requires potential buyers to save for a down payment, and forces them to continue to save by paying down a portion of the mortgage principal each month.”

“Even in instances where renters have excess cash, saving a substantial amount is difficult without a near-term goal, like a down payment. It is also difficult to systematically invest each month in stocks, bonds or other assets without being compelled to do so.”

Bottom Line

“As a means to building wealth, there is no practical substitute for homeownership.” If you are a renter who is considering making a purchase, sit with a local real estate professional who can explain the benefits of signing a contract to purchase over renewing your lease!

Original Article