Now is the Time to Sell

The time to Buy a Home has never been better. For the first two weeks of 2015, mortgage interest rates approached the lowest rates in over two years! Since then, the Mortgage Backed Security (MBS) markets have been treading water waiting for the European Central bank to announce their own Quantitative Easing (QE) program Today the ECB announced a $1.3 trillion dollar bond buying program spread over the next 19 months. This has lead to booming stock market increases, especially in Europe and the U.S. Throughout today the 10 year Treasury interest rate, along with the MBS markets, had a volitile session as investors tried to figure out the impact of this new QE program. Ultimately we ended up with interest rates stabilizing where they ended up this past Monday.

In the near term, EU interest rates should continue lower. U.S interest rates continue to compete on a Global scale with countries whose interest rates are headed to zero, if not already there, and in some cases are actually now negative! Yes, you have to pay to have some Countries protect your money!

Since January 2nd, mortgage rates still show a decline of over .375% ! I continue to believe the trend for the next few months will be lower though not by much more than today, with rates in the low 3’s (even the high 2’s) depending on your loan program This is creating a great opportunity for any buyers that you may be working with to qualify for a higher loan amount than just a month ago.

As one would expect, Freddie Mac recently announced that interest rates decreased slightly again. The National average this past week for a 30 year fixed was 3.63%, with an average cost of .70 points. A 15 year fixed dropped to 2.93% with .60 points.

 

Reasons Behind Investing Your Money in Real Estate

As entrepreneurs find success with their primary business ventures, many search for the proper investments for their profits.

Of course, we can and should all start traditional tax preferred vehicles like an IRA and 401k. These are the bedrock of good ‘benefit’ planning for ourselves and our employees. I’m also convinced more entrepreneurs should consider rental real estate as an important part of their portfolio.

I realize many business owners shrug off this concept after the recent downturn in real estate values, but let me list a few reasons that may change your mind:

1. Gain more leverage. Real estate is one of the few investment vehicles where using the bank’s money couldn’t be easier. The ability to make a down payment, leverage your capital, and thus increase your overall return on investment is incredible.

2. Grow, tax-free. Buying rental property based on speculation of its value is a dangerous tactic since cash flow is the key. However, appreciation over the long-run is certainly realistic and at the least you should be considering a tax-deferred strategy. In the future, you may even consider a 1031 exchange, charitable trust, or an installment sale to lesson your tax liability further.

 

3. Tax free cash flow. It’s no secret that because of depreciation and mortgage interest deductions (if you leverage your capital), your cash flow should be tax-free. That’s right! The far majority of the time an investor will never pay taxes on their cash flow and can wait for capital gains on the sale of the property in the future.

4. The tax write-offs against your other income.Depending on your classification as an Active Investor or Real Estate Professional and your income level, there is a good chance your rental property will not only give you tax-free cash flow, but an overage of tax deductions you can use against your other income. With that said, this is something you want to discuss with your tax professional before investing so your expectations are realistic.

5. Increased tax deduction strategies. Rental property affords investors with another incredible opportunity to convert personal expenses to potentially valid business deductions. Don’t forget that rental real estate is a business. This means that travel expenses to check on your properties and payments to family members who manage your properties (such as students away at college) can be deductible and increase the tax benefits when it comes to cash flow and the future sale of the property.

6. Rental real estate is a forced retirement plan. Americans are terrible savers. We lack the self-discipline to put a monthly deposit into our IRA, SEP or 401k as small-business owners. However, buying a rental property is a significant commitment that you are required to commit to and maintain. You will always be grateful in the long-run when you don’t give up on it and build future cash flow and wealth.

I meet with a lot of successful entrepreneurs, and almost every one of them has taken profits from their businesses over the years to invest in rental property. Based on this fact and the list above, I have consistently urged my clients to buy one rental property a year and already have clients with rental properties earning them money they never imagined they’d have.

The far majority of us will never get rich overnight. It takes long-term investing and a diverse portfolio to build true wealth. Don’t forget real estate as an important part of the equation.

Retirement Planning Checklist

Where should you start when beginning your retirement planning?  Below are some areas you should be checking and evaluating.

Many who are planning their retirement need someplace to start — a list to begin their thinking.

1. Check your projected income sourceschck list

  • Social Security — Create a “ my social security ” account to get estimates of your retirement, disability, and survivors benefits. Additionally, you can use my Social Security to get your earnings record and the estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid. For more information on Social Security, check out the “ Apply for Social Security ” page at retiredbrains.com.
  • Pensions — The American Academy of Actuaries’ Pension Assistance List will provide up to 4 hours of free help to individuals interested in checking their plans’ calculations. Visit the Pension Rights Center website for a list of projects and the states they cover . You can also call the toll-free hotline at the Labor Department’s Employees Benefits Security Administration 866-444-3272.
  • Possible inheritances.
  • See if you’re saving enough with AARPs retirement calculator .
  • Sale of real estate, personal property, antiques,jewelry, gold, collectibles, business interests, etc.
  • Annuities
  • Life insurance values, if any.
  • Income from investments and retirement funds including, stocks, bonds, trusts, real estate.

2. Check your projected expenses

  • Rent
  • Mortgage
  • Credit card debt
  • Loans
  • Taxes
  • Health care — The average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2013 with Medicare insurance coverage will need approximately $276,000 to cover medical expenses during the combined remainder of their lifetimes. This estimate includes deductibles, supplemental insurance premiums, out-of-pocket expenses, and services excluded by Medicare.
  • Insurance — Auto, Home, Life, Health & Medicare, Long Term Care, Assisted Living.
  • Relocation — If you’re considering relocating.
  • Travel/Vacation Costs

3. Estate planning

List all your assets, contact information of your accountant, investment adviser, banker, and the location of important documents, passwords, bank accounts, safety deposit boxes, etc. and give copies to your spouse, attorney and accountant. Here’s a handy, printable form to help you capture all of this personal information and more .

  • Make sure you have an updated will, including medical power of attorney, DNR, etc.
  • Make sure your spouse, attorney, physician and accountant understand your wishes in case you are unable  

4. Additional concerns and resources

    • Where possible reduce, consolidate or restructure your debt.
    • If you have any questions as to the ability or reliability of your physicians, attorney, accountant, financial planner consider finding a new one now. If you do not have a professional in each of these areas get one.

    Discuss this list with your spouse to make it as accurate as possible and then with your financia

    Make sure your list of assets is complete and valuations are accurate. Then check to see if you will need to draw against them, and if so, what the estimated yearly amount is. Project these numbers out with your financial adviser to insure you will have enough to last.

    If after a thorough review of your information you find yourself falling short of your retirement expectations, consider working longer or adjusting your

Trends Towards Avoiding Nursing Care

Reports show that an increasing amount of baby boomers are choosing in-home medical care over nursing home services.

The number of Americans over age 65 living in nursing homes has dropped 2% from 1990 to 2010.  In-home medical care

can offer more comfort for seniors and their families, but also can cost much more than a nursing home.  A few ways seniors

can manage in-home healthcare costs include Medicaid’s Community Alternatives Program, Money Follows the Person,

Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, and Veterans Benefits.

See Gregory Herman-Giddenshttp://www.ncestateplanningblog.com/02/14/articles/medicaid/elder-care-trend-avoiding-nursing-home-care/

 

San Jose Rated one of the Richest Cities in the US

  San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.


> Median household income:
 $90,737
> Population: 1,894,388 (32nd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 8.6% (112th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.8% (28th lowest)

Median income in the San Jose metro area, which constitutes part of Silicon Valley, jumped from $85,736 in 2011 to $90,737 last year. San Jose had among the largest concentrations of high-paying professional services and information jobs in the nation. But the area is not only the wealthiest in the nation, it has also become one of the most-desired housing markets. Just 3.6% of housing units were vacant in 2012, down from 4.9% in 2008, while median gross rent reached $1,560 last year, more than any other metro area in the U.S. Home values also were the highest in the nation, with a median of $624,200. More than 20% of homes in the area were valued at over $1 million.

Last Minute Shopping

With Christmas less than a week away, retailers and shoppers alike are scrambling to the finish line.

There are many reasons why consumers put off Christmas shopping until the last minute, in hope that prices will drop dramatically as the days before Christmas tick down. But this year has been different; the National Retail Federation on Monday said its “turning out to be a holiday season like no other”.

Certainly, Thanksgiving late shopping in the season is one plausible explanation. We all know that Christmas falls on December 25 each year, no matter what, but we somehow can’t all embrace the holiday and its trimmings until after we get through the one before it. We complain about Christmas decorations on sale before Halloween and Thanksgiving now getting hijacked by pre-Black Friday sales, but few of us are diligent enough to really take advantage of all of that.

When Thanksgiving in late November robs us of an extra weekend of shopping before Christmas we find ourselves pressed. Heck some of us do not even have all out holiday decorations up yet.

But another part of why this year is like no other is that no again, off again economy. The stock market is mostly of fire and people are starting to get hired again. But there’s a big chunk of the population that is unemployed, under employed, or leaving the workforce because they’re feeling just plain hopeless about finding a job.

 

The retail federation, for example, reports that a relatively high 42% of shoppers used their debit cards, the closest thing to cold, hard cash, to purchase gifts this year. Why does that matter? Because study shows that people spend more on credit cards than they do when they are pulling dollars out of their wallets. When the cash is gone, its gone. Credit seemingly never runs out. Most people without jobs or with stained budgets aren’t likely to be running up big credit-card bills.

And as sales results trickle in, its clean that people aren’t spending, at least not yet, to the degree that retailers had hoped. That means there’s unwanted inventory unmoved. Its why you  see stores like Toys R Us panning to keep the lights on for 87 unremitting hours beginning Saturday at stores nationwide.

Theses are a few examples of how the economy, retailers and consumers alike are facing off this Holiday season!

 

Are you Ready for the Holidays?

Are you ready for Christmas? People get asked this question several times a day during the holidays. Especially when they are weeks away.

We run around from store to store and go to Christmas parties and the bakers are busy in the kitchen preparing cookies, cakes and candy.

While you are working to make the season merry for your own family, take a minute to slow down and think about the moms and dads, grandmoms and granddads, who cant even think about buying Christmas gifts. There are bills to pay and groceries and gas to buy. They are working two or three jobs to afford the necessities. To them, it doesn’t matter what the calendar says, they will not be ready for Christmas.

I am going to write a list of places where you can donate this holiday season.

1.          Sacred Hearts

http://www.sacredheartcs.org/holidays/donations

2.          Second Harvest Food Bank

http://www.shfb.org/

3.          This is a list of the majority of places where you and me can donate this holiday found on KTVU

http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/charities/nFjqS/

 

…..And of course Intero is collecting canned foods and jackets this holiday season. If you would like to donate a jacket or food, you can drop it off right here in Willow Glen Intero at 1567 Meridian Way, San Jose 95125.

 

Happy and Safe Holidays this Season!

 

happy holidays

 

 

Benefits of Buying a Home During the Holidays

The year-end holiday season is a good time for gift exchanging, entertaining and general enjoyment. But what about buying a house? Should you try to do that in November or December, too?

If you’re not picky about the home you intend to buy, the answer might be yes.

Sellers tend to avoid the end of the year because of the short days, wintry weather and conventional wisdom that says buyers are otherwise occupied. Those who sell at year-end are often under pressure and highly motivated to cut a deal.

A seller who is looking to move a piece of real estate during the holidays is a seller who needs to sell, because nobody in their right mind would pick that as the most convenient time to list their property. This is why it might be a smart time to buy. Determined house hunters can take advantage of seller’s urgency.

The biggest downside is the limited supply of listings, which occurs mainly because sellers are so uninterested.

If you can’t find a home you like, you might be able to tap into homes that aren’t on the market.

Another approach is for the broker to send letters to homeowners in your preferred neighborhood, trawling for someone willing to sell a home that meets your criteria.

A third technique is to call agents who sell a lot of homes in your target area and ask about the home that aren’t yet listed, but are helping prepare the “coming soon”.

Less competition from other buyers might mean you’ll be able to negotiate a favorable price. Those properties oftentimes are priced to sell. It could be an opportunity to sacrifice a little bit of time during an otherwise very busy time of the year to get a better investment property.

Still, with fewer homes to choose from, you might have a lower expectation.

If a house comes up that works for you, it should be a pleasant surprise. I wouldn’t set a realistic expectation of finding your dream home during that period.

One pitfall in year-end housing shopping is that homes in cold-weather states might have defects hidden by snow, only to be discovered by thaw in spring. Not to worry Bay Area!

Photography of the home taken earlier in the year and a home inspection can help mitigate some of the risk.

Not only sellers and buyers, but also real estate professionals like to take time off from work in November and December. Realtors and mortgage brokers have friends and family too.

That said, many pros do work during these months, precisely because they know many buyers have vacation time to devote to year-end house hunting.

Either way, it is a good idea to ask you agent what his or her plans are so you won’t be caught off guard of left hanging if your calls or emails suddenly aren’t answered as quickly as you’d expected.

Individual mortgage brokers also might take some time off at the end of the year. But it would be unusual for a mortgage company or bank to be closed any normal business day other than Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas day and New Year’s Day.

I don’t know of any mortgage company or bank that closes for longer than the typical holidays.

If you are a serious buyer, you need not be shy about intruding into sellers homes at a time normally reserved for families and friends. If a home is for sale, presumably the owners want sincerely interested buyers to see it.

Is a seller is willing to put their house on the market during the holiday season; they really want buyers to some in.

If there is a for sale sign, there is a welcome sign!

imagesHappy Holidays 

The Meaning of Thanksgiving

“In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.”

Thanksgiving is more than just a big meal. It is a time to reflect on the blessings you received over the past year. We know that the whole year might not have been the best or most successful, but I’m sure there were some blessings along the way? This is the time where family and friends, can share a big meal at the dinner table and show each other love. Whether it’s been a year since you’ve talked to your family, this is the one time to get together, watch football, eat and talk about what we are all thankful for. I am going to share with you a poem written by Ralph Clark about the “Meaning of Thanksgiving’.

Thanksgiving Day is the day we offer thanks

To those who build the foundation of our land

And to those who dies keeping our country free

A day we thank God for his guiding hand.

 

A day we sit down at our table with those we love

Feeling good knowing no danger lurks at our door

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated each and every year

By all Americans whether we are rich or poor.

 

A day we give thanks we can choose our way of life

In a sinful world where much freedom is gone

Thanksgiving Day is a special day in our country

We are not perfect, but together we stand strong

 

This is the meaning of Thanksgiving

 

 

So take a break, eat good food, watch the game, and most importantly, be thankful for the loved one in your life and the life that you have been blessed with!

800px-Thanksgiving-Brownscombe

 The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth (oil on canvas 1914)

Building Trends in the Bay Area

If you are building a home in the Bay Area, you want to keep an eye on emerging trends. But you also want to steer your own course. There are four exciting residential construction trends that should stand the test of time.

1.       Improve energy efficiency

 

There are a million and one strategies to improve energy efficiency, such as: Constructing low water toilets; improving your HVAC maintenance; installing solar panels on your roof; upgrading your doors and windows; installing programmable thermostats.

2.       Welcoming the Sun

 

Outdoor kitchen and living areas, such as glass and conservatories, are all the rage these days, perhaps in part because Californians are recognizing how important it is to get regular amounts of safe sunlight. In addition to creating outdoor spaces, many homeowners are installing sheer blinds, skylight, sky tubes, and more windows.

3.       Toxin-free homes

 

The Bay Area is one of the epicenters of the green “all natural” movement- and has been for over 50 years. Builders notice they are using more environmentally-friendly materials, such as carpets that emit fewer volatile organic compounds; low degassing paints; toxin-free flooring and other materials.

4.       Automatic Controls

 

Homeowners can now control heating, air conditioning, security systems, TV and video, lights, and other systems using simple devices, like iPads. If you build with home automation in mind, you can find neat design solutions and pre-wire your house for best practices.