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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 12/12/17

Before you make a written offer to buy a rehab property, learn what real estate repairs cost (labor and materials), be conservative with your estimates and make a detailed list that you can show to potential lenders, investors and joint venture partners.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 12/5/17

Real estate wholesalers should first build a comprehensive list of potential buyers before they present deals to flip to a mass audience.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 11/28/17

When interest rates are low always borrow (at a fixed rate) for the longest term you can negotiate.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 11/21/17

Confirm contractor availability to work before you commit to buying a property that needs extensive renovations.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerlad’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 11/14/17

Line up multiple potential funding sources beforehand as you plan a property rehab or renovation.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 11/7/17

When you file a property insurance claim, document damage with both photos and video.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/31/17

When you estimate holding costs for a property rehab, consider estimated renovation time as well as the time required to sell the property.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/24/17

Only make small payments to contractors as they satisfactorily complete mutually agreed upon milestones.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/17/17

Demand an itemized breakdown of renovation costs from a general contractor rather than just an overall estimate for an entire home rehab project.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/10/17

When you value a property, consider highest and best use as well as sales comparables.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/3/17

Find out how many jobs a real estate contractor is working on before you hire him. If he has too many jobs running concurrently, the job you hire him to do is unlikely to be completed on time.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/26/17

Only hire real estate contractors that have established trade lines (credit accounts that allow them to buy supplies and materials themselves).

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/19/17

Do a thorough local rental demand analysis before you sign a contract to buy a rental property.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/12/17

Investigate and correct mistakes on your credit report BEFORE you apply for a mortgage.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/5/17

The best way to avoid paying too much for a property is to never offer too much.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/29/17

If you hire a property management company to manage your real estate, make sure your property management agreement has the following 3 items: 1) Roles & Responsibilities 2) Payment Terms & 3) Termination Clause.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/22/17

Don’t rent to tenants who have been previously evicted.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/15/17

Get an environmental audit when you buy commercial property or property that has ever had an underground oil tank.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/8/17

If you allow the seller to stay in a property you are buying after the closing, make sure you have an airtight occupancy agreement that clearly spells out the dates of occupancy and the consequences for failure to abide by those dates.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/1/17

When you buy a property, make sure that ALL current property owners sign the purchase contract.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 7/25/17

If you find an abandoned property, check the local tax records or enlist a skip-tracing service to locate the owner.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 7/18/17

Drive an alternative route to and from work to look for abandoned property that can be purchased & renovated–piles of unread mail & newspapers on the front stoop is a tell-tale sign.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 7/11/17

Before you buy rental property in another state, check to see if that state requires a real estate license to manage the real estate of another person or entity.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/27/17

A property owner must manage his property manager–regardless of how much responsibility you choose to delegate, when you own property, the buck ultimately stops with you.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/20/17

Find out if your homeowners insurance uses “actual cash value” method rather than “cost to replace” method to calculate a claim. If so, depreciation will be deducted from your settlement amount, resulting in lower compensation to you in the event of a claim.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/13/17

When you rent a property, set up group appointments so all the prospective tenants come at the same time. The prospective tenants may bid up the price of your rental and allow you to rent for a higher price.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/6/17

Never let a real estate attorney make a business decision for you. Attorneys exist to review and advise, not to make business decisions. Tell your attorney to stay in his lane and focus on the law.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/30/17

Get copies of your credit report from all 3 credit bureaus and check them all for errors before you get pre-approved for a mortgage.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/23/17

Look at real estate markets and trends locally, not nationally, every local real estate market is different. 

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/16/17

Check references and get a sample inspection report before you hire a home inspector.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/9/17

Use IRS Code 121 to defer real estate capital gains on your primary residence.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/2/17

Use IRS Code 1031 to defer paying taxes on real estate capital gains of investment property.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 4/25/17

Select a real estate attorney that specializes in real estate rather than a jack of all trades.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 4/18/17

Buy a personal liability insurance policy if you own rental property to protect yourself from lawsuits.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 4/11/17

Demand a solid written agreement with a home contractor or handyman before any work begins or any money is exchanged.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 4/4/17

If you own rental property, monitor market rents where your property is located by looking at rental ads online so you can see what your prospective tenants or current tenants are seeing.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 3/28/17

Put money aside for property maintenance. Two pricey items to focus on for property maintenance are your roof and your heating and cooling systems.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 3/21/17

Buy property that is consistent with other property in the neighborhood. It’s smarter to buy the cheapest rather than the most expensive house in an acceptable neighborhood – this increases the odds that your property value will increase and often makes it easier for you to sell.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 3/14/17

Pay for property renovation projects by the job not by the hour.  When you pay by the hour, it normally takes more time and costs you more money.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 3/7/17

Get at least 3 different contractor estimates on any real estate renovation projects you are considering taking on. Make sure each estimate is for exactly the same scope of work so you can make an apples to apples comparison.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 2/28/17

When you rent a property, set up all appointments to show the property at the same time–this saves you time and creates more urgency for tenant applicants to make a decision.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 2/21/17

If you relocate for a new job and rent out your property, you are a landlord in the eyes of the IRS, so make sure you report your rental property on your federal income taxes.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 2/14/17

If your mortgage lender pays your real estate taxes from an escrow account, make sure the real estate taxes you claim on your return matches the number on Form 1098 your mortgage lender sends you. Form 1098 will report any real estate taxes you paid

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 2/7/17

Claim a deduction for state and local property taxes paid on your taxes.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 1/31/17

Think twice before sinking a lot of money into a home renovation like granite counter tops, pricey fixtures and fancy alarm systems–on average, capital improvements add only 50% of their cost to a home’s value!

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 1/24/17

You can defer paying taxes on realized gains on the sale of investment property by utilizing IRS code 1031 (common known as a 1031 like-kind exchange).

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 1/17/17

When you pay for an oil tank scan on a property you are going to buy, have the company you hire determine whether the tank is actively in use. If the tank has been taken out of service, you should request all documents relating to the tank closure including town permits and contractor reports. These documents will prove the tank was closed properly according to regulatory guidelines.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 1/10/17

Always pay for a tank scan to check for underground oil tanks during your purchase contract’s inspection period when you buy property.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 1/3/17

Overpricing a property reduces its selling price. It inevitably ends with price cutting & a weak negotiating position.  The longer a property stays on the market, the less it will sell for.  The key to selling a property for top dollar is pricing it correctly in the 1st 30-45 days it’s on the market.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 12/27/16

Always get at least a 5 year guarantee on a new roof before you make the final payment on it.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 12/20/16

90% of what goes into the current value of a residential property is what similar properties have sold for in the last 6 months—so the key to arriving at the most accurate estimate of your home’s current value is getting recent sold price comparables in your neighborhood.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 12/13/16

As a landlord, it’s best to have a thorough written rental policy that uniformly applies to all tenants and all tenant applicants.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 12/6/16

If you can afford to raise your deductible, you could save 25% or more on your homeowner’s insurance premium.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 11/29/16

Be very careful if you participate in a real estate auction.  Auctions encourage impulsive behavior and at most auctions there’s usually someone dumb enough to pay too much for a property– better to let that person win.  No one ever got rich paying too much for something!

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 11/22/16

Keep the area around your property in neat condition with grass cut as towns often issue fines for overgrown or messy properties.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 11/15/16

Cash-on-cash return for a property = Cash flow before taxes($)/Cash investment($).

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 11/9/16

Rule of 72s: You can quickly calculate the number of years it will take for your real estate investment to double in value by dividing the annual % growth rate by 72: # years to double in value = 72/Rate of Growth. For example: At an 8% annual growth rate, your real estate investment will double in about 9 years (72/8=9)   At an 12% annual growth rate, your real estate investment will double in about 6 years (72/12=6)   At an 24% annual growth rate, your real estate investment will double in about 3 years (72/24=3)

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 11/1/16

The Capitalization or Cap Rate for a property is the ratio between its net operating income (NOI) and the property’s value: Capitalization Rate = Net Operating Income/Value. You can transpose the formula to solve for property value or net operating income: Property Value = Net Operating Income/Capitalization Rate Net Operating Income = Property Value*Capitalization Rate.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/25/16

Classifying real estate expenditures as repairs rather than capital improvements often results in tax savings.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/18/16

Overpricing a property reduces its selling price-it inevitably ends with price cutting & a weak negotiating position. The longer a property stays on the market, the less it will sell for. The key to selling a property for top dollar is pricing it correctly in the 1st 30-45 days it’s on the market.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/11/16

Get a free copy of your credit report from all 3 major credit bureaus and make sure there are no errors that need to be corrected before you apply for a mortgage.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/4/16

Use low-flow toilets to reduce your water bill or make your existing toilet more efficient by dropping a soda bottle filled with sand or water into the tank. It will use less water each time it flushes.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/27/16

Know when to walk away in a negotiation to purchase a property.  When you walk away, a lot of times the other party will come back to you later on – and if and when they do, you’ll have an even stronger negotiating position to work from.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/20/16

Before you make offers to buy property, look at as many similar properties in that area as possible so you’ll have a solid frame of reference to make a reasonable bid.

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Real Estate Tip

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/13/16

In a real estate transaction, don’t accept any piece of important data that is provided to you until you’ve gotten third party confirmation of it (i.e. lease-verified rental income numbers).

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/6/16

Make clear to your home inspector that you’d never hire him to do repair work on your property. Otherwise, he may try to inflate or invent problems with your property in his inspection report and then try to get you to hire him to do the repair work.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/30/16

As a rule, it’s smart to get three estimates for any service or construction work done on your home or property.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/23/16

You can legally invest in real estate with your IRA and 401(K) and pay little or no taxes provided your IRA or retirement plan uses an approved custodian.  The widespread misconception that permissible IRA investments are limited to stocks, bonds, mutual funds and CDs is the result of people and companies who are in the business of selling these products.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/16/16

Be careful when you make offers to purchase bank-owned property, also known as REOs, because there is no previous owner compelled to disclose problems like a leaky roof or oil tank.  You must do your own homework which includes a property inspection–the bank will only give you clear title to the property.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/9/16

Keep detailed records of each expense related to your property so you will be able to take advantage of every single tax deduction you are legally entitled to use.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/2/16

Make sure any contract you sign to buy a house has an inspection contingency that provides you more than enough time to get a thorough property inspection.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 7/26/16

If you choose to hire a property management company to manage your real estate, make sure you require the individual or company to sign a written agreement that spells out roles, responsibilities & payment terms.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 7/19/16

Before you buy a previously owned property, call the local utility companies to try to get historical gas, electrical and water usage info.  This will help you more accurately predict your operating expenses.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 7/12/16

Do a thorough title search before you buy a property to make sure that you get clear title free of outstanding liens or other encumbrances.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 7/5/16

When you renovate a property, get multiple bids from several contractors. Prepare a set of bidding instructions with a detailed scope of work, a start and finish date so you can compare bids effectively.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/28/16

Get a great loan when you buy so you don’t NEED to refinance; if rates improve and refinancing makes sense, aim to do so only once. Serial refinancing can be expensive, wasteful & financially destructive.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/21/16

Before you sign the closing documents for a mortgage, compare the settlement statement with the Good Faith Estimate to make sure there are no errors–these errors coincidentally favor the lender in most cases.  Caveat Emptor.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/14/16

Get a thorough home inspection before you buy real estate and get one before you pay for an appraisal just in case the inspection reveals something so major you decide against buying the property.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/7/16

When you get a mortgage loan to buy a home, ask for a Good Faith Estimate so you can review all the terms on your loan offer and see the interest rate, payment and closing costs.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/31/16

Shop for a mortgage before you shop for a home. By applying for and getting pre-approved for a home loan, you’ll figure out the price range of homes you can afford to buy.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/24/16

Never use a seller’s asking price as a gauge of market value for a property. A property owner may request any price for his property-this may or may not be anywhere near market value. The current market value of a residential property is based primarily on what a similar property has sold for in the last 6 months.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/17/16

Always ask to see any existing leases for any rental property you are considering for purchase. If you buy the property, you will be subject to the terms of those leases. Make sure the leases match the seller’s representations.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/10/16

Most of the best real estate deals will involve properties that are in need of repair.  In order to capitalize on these rehab deals, you or someone you work with will need to know how much time and money are required to renovate these properties.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/3/16

The average number of days on market required to sell a home gives you a good indication of the strength of that local real estate market–a higher average number of days on market usually suggests a weaker market, a lower average number of days on market implies a stronger local real estate market.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 4/26/16

Avoid poorly designed homes–this is often referred to as functional obsolescence. Functional obsolescence reduces the desirability of your home and makes it more difficult to sell. Here are some examples that you should steer clear of: 1) No bathrooms on first floor 2) Bedrooms with no closest 3) Knob-and-tube wiring or fuses instead of a circuit breaker box 4) One outlet per room

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 4/19/16

Buy property that is consistent with other property in the neighborhood. It’s smarter to buy the cheapest rather than the most expensive house in an acceptable neighborhood-this increases the odds that your property value will increase and often makes it easier for you to sell.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 4/12/16

Adapt to the real estate market around you; don’t expect it to adapt to you.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 4/5/16

Never fall in love with a property.  Adhere to my 2nd Real Estate Commandment: Thou Shalt Use Logic And Never Let Emotions Affect Real Estate Decisions.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the -Week of 3/29/16

Before you buy property, incorporate a margin of safety, a buffer for unforeseen circumstances and things that may happen that are outside of your control.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 3/22/16

Whenever possible avoid buying property at auctions. There will usually be at least one person at the auction dumb enough to pay too much for a property–compete with that idiot at your own peril!

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 3/15/16

Prepare a detailed plan of attack long before you begin renovating a property.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 3/8/16

Rather than replacing tile when you renovate a bathroom, consider glazing over old tile-it’s cheaper and if done right can look as professional as new tile.

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Gerald Real Estate Tip of the -Week of 3/1/16

Ultimately, the true value of the property is what someone is willing to pay for it now.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 2/23/16

Before you make an offer to purchase, estimate a property’s monthly rent roll by examining and ideally visiting comparable rental properties in the same neighborhood.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 2/16/16

Consider deferring capital gains taxes using a 1031 exchange when you sell real estate and reinvest the proceeds to purchase like-kind investment property.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 2/9/16

Shop for a mortgage or funding source before shopping for a home or property.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 2/2/16

Never sign a purchase contract as a buyer with an inspection contingency period less than 7 days.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the -Week of 1/26/16

Never lend more money on a property than you would be willing to pay for the property yourself.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 1/19/16

Good tenants are worth keeping. Keep rents for good tenants slightly below market–this limits service calls and reduces your property management and maintenance costs over time.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 1/12/16

Never loan money on a property you wouldn’t mind owning yourself.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 1/5/16

Do all your homework BEFORE you make your first offer to purchase a property.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 12/29/15

Provide multiple comparable sales, with photos, addresses and detailed information when you present a real estate deal to an investor, lender or JV partner.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 12/22/15

Before you make a written offer to buy a rehab property, learn what real estate repairs cost (labor and materials), be conservative with your estimates and make a detailed list that you can show to potential lenders, investors and joint venture partners.

continue reading

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 12/15/15

Real estate wholesalers should first build a comprehensive list of potential buyers before they present deals to flip to a mass audience.

continue reading

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 12/8/15

When interest rates are low always borrow for the longest term you can negotiate.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 12/1/15

Confirm contractor availability to work before you commit to buying a property that needs extensive renovations.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 11/17/15

Line up multiple potential funding sources beforehand as you plan a property rehab or renovation.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 11/10/15

When you file a property insurance claim, document damage with both photos and video.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the -Week of 11/3/15

When you estimate holding costs for a property rehab, consider estimated renovation time as well as the time required to sell the property.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/27/15

Only make small payments to contractors as they satisfactorily complete mutually agreed upon milestones.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/20/15

Demand an itemized breakdown of renovation costs from a general contractor rather just an overall estimate for an entire home rehab project.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/13/15

When you value a property, consider highest and best use as well as sales comparables.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 10/6/15

Find out how many jobs a real estate contractor is working on before you hire him. If he has too many jobs running concurrently, the job you hire him to do will unlikely be completed on time.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/29/15

Only hire real estate contractors that have established trade lines (credit accounts that allow them to buy supplies and materials themselves).

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/22/15

Do a thorough local rental demand analysis before you sign a contract to buy a rental property.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/15/15

Investigate and correct mistakes on your credit report before you apply for a mortgage.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/8/15

The best way to avoid paying too much for a property is to never offer too much.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 9/1/15

If you hire a property management company to manage your real estate, make sure your property management agreement has the following 3 items: 1. roles & responsibilities 2. payment terms 3. termination clause

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/25/15

Don’t rent to tenants who have been previously evicted.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/18/15

Get an environmental audit when you buy commercial property or property that has ever had an underground oil tank.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the -Week of 8/11/15

If you allow the seller to stay in a property you are buying after the closing, make sure you have an airtight occupancy agreement that clearly spells out the dates of occupancy and the consequences of failure to abide by those dates.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 8/4/15

When you buy a property, make sure that all the property owners sign the purchase contract.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 7/28/15

If you find an abandoned property, check the local tax records or enlist a skip-tracing service to locate the owner.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 7/21/15

Drive an alternative route to and from work to look for abandoned property that can be purchased & renovated–piles of unread mail & newspapers on the front stoop is a tell-tale sign.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 7/14/15

Don’t take on a home renovation project yourself unless you have prior experience-1st time home renovators often end up wasting both time and money.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 7/7/15

To find good real estate deals, have an investor-friendly Realtor check the multiple listing service for properties that have been on the market for over 180 days.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/30/15

Before you buy rental property in another state, check to see if that state requires a real estate license to manage the real estate of another person or entity.

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Indecision is a Decision

One of the main excuses people use for putting off decision-making is the fear of making a mistake. The problem with that logic is successful people make more mistakes than everyone else, precisely because they make more decisions than everyone else—they learn from their decisions regardless of how things ultimately turn out. You shouldn’t be afraid of making a mistake—you should be afraid of standing still and letting the world pass you by. Make it a point to cultivate decisiveness. Putting off decisions creates a cluttered mind. Decision-making creates order. Your life will be much more organized if you make decisions as they come. Rather than obsessing forever about decisions you’ve put off, your mind will be free to concentrate […]

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/22/15

A property owner must manage his property manager–regardless of how much responsibility you choose to delegate, when you own property, the buck ultimately stops with you.

continue reading

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/16/15

Find out if your homeowners insurance uses “actual cash value” method rather than “cost to replace” method to calculate a claim–if so, depreciation will be deducted from your settlement amount, resulting in lower compensation to you in the event of a claim.

continue reading

Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/9/15

When you rent a property, set up group appointments so all the prospective tenants come at the same time-the prospective tenants may bid up the price of your rental and allow you to rent for a higher price.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 6/2/15

Never let a real estate attorney make a business decision for you. Attorneys exist to review and advise not to make business decisions. Tell your attorney to stay in his lane and focus on the law.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/26/15

Get copies of your credit report from all 3 credit bureaus and check them all for errors before you get pre-approved for a mortgage.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/19/15

When you monitor and track your local real estate market, trust what you see, not what you think or you hear other people say the market is.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/12/15

Look at real estate markets and trends locally, not nationally, every local real estate market is different.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 5/5/15

When you’re buying a property attend the home inspection, ask lots of questions and listen so you don’t misinterpret what’s written in the inspection report.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 4/28/15

Check references and get a sample inspection report before you hire a home inspector.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 4/21/15

Use IRS Code 121 to defer real estate capital gains on your primary residence.  

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the- Week of 4/14/15

Use IRS Code 1031 to defer paying taxes on real estate capital gains of investment property.  

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 4/7/15

Select a real estate attorney that specializes in real estate rather than a jack of all trades.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 3/31/15

Buy a personal liability insurance policy if you own rental property to protect yourself from lawsuits.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the- Week of 3/24/15

Demand a solid written agreement with a home contractor or handyman before any work begins or any money is exchanged.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 3/17/15

If you own rental property, monitor market rents where your property is located by looking at rental ads online so you can see what your prospective tenants or current tenants are seeing.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 3/10/15

Cover or close open-air vents during winter because freezing temperatures combined with wind drafts can cause pipes to freeze.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 3/5/15

Put money aside for property maintenance. Two pricey items to focus on for ‎property‬ maintenance are your roof and your heating and cooling systems.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 2/24/15

Buy property that is consistent with other properties in the neighborhood. It is smartest to buy the cheapest rather than the most expensive house in an acceptable neighborhood – this increases the odds that your property value will increase and often makes it easier for you to sell.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 2/19/15

Pay for property renovation projects by the job not by the hour. When you pay by the hour, it normally takes more time and costs you more money.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 2/12/15

Get at least 3 difference contractor estimates on any real estate renovation projects you are considering taking on. Make sure each estimate is for exactly the same scope of work so you can make an apples to apples comparison.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 2/5/15

When you rent a property, set up all appointments to show the property at the same time–this saves you time and creates more urgency for tenant applicants to make a decision.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 1/30/15

In winter or when it’s cold outside, reverse your ceiling fans to help circulate warm air that gathers near the ceiling. When the fan blades rotate clockwise, they push the warm air down to “reheat” the lower areas.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 1/22/15

Replace old thermostats with newer, programmable models that allow you to set a lower temperature while you are away or asleep and raise the temperature only when you need it. #Home #Renovated

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 1/14/14

Check the furnace pilot light to see if it is lit in your home. Turn on the furnace and blower to ensure the furnace ignites and completes a full cycle, from warming up to blowing heat and shutting off the blower again.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the – Week of 1/5/14

If you relocate for a new job and rent our your property, you a landlord in the eyes of the IRS, so make sure you report your new rental property on your federal incomes taxes.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week of 12/23/14

If your mortgage lender pays your real estate taxes from an escrow account, make sure the real estate taxes you claim on your return matches the number on Form 1098 your mortgage lender sends you-Form 1098 will report any real estate taxes you paid.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week of 12/18/14

Increase your mortgage interest deduction by pre-paying your January mortgage payment in December.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 12/10/14

Close on your mortgage refi before year end and claim points you paid—the IRS allows taxpayers to deduct points for any payments made in the #tax year.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 12/4/14

Claim a deduction for state and local property taxes paid on your taxes.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 11/19/14

Think twice before sinking a lot of money into a home renovations like granite counter tops, pricey fixtures and fancy alarm systems–on average, capital improvements add only 50% of their cost to a home’s value!

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 11/13/14

You can defer paying taxes on realized gains on the sale of investment property by utilizing IRS code 1031 (common known as a 1031 like-kind exchange).

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 11/7/14

You can avoid paying #taxes on realized gains on the sale of your primary residence for up to $250,000 ($500,000 if you’re married) by utilizing IRS code 12.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 10/30/14

When you pay for an oil tank scan on a property you are going to buy, have the company you hire determine whether the tank is actively in use. If the tank has been taken out of service, you should request all documents relating to the tank closure including town permits and contractor reports. These documents will prove the tank was closed properly according to regulatory guidelines.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 10/22/14

Always pay for a tank scan to check for underground oil tanks during your purchase contract’s inspection period when you buy property.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 10/15/14

Overpricing a property reduces its selling price-it inevitably ends with price cutting & a weak negotiating position. The longer a property stays on the market, the less it will sell for. The key to selling a property for top dollar is pricing it correctly in the 1st 30-45 days it’s on the market.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 10/8/14

About 1 out of 4 mortgage applications are denied–get a free copy of your credit report from all 3 major credit bureaus and make sure there are no errors that need to be corrected before you apply for a mortgage.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week – 9/30/14

Always get at least a 5 year guarantee on a new roof before you make the final payment on it.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip Of The Week 9/23/14

90% of what goes into the current value of a residential property is what similar properties have sold for in the last 6 months—so the key to arriving at the most accurate estimate of your home’s current value

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip Of The Week 9/16/14

As a landlord, it’s best to have a thorough written rental policy that uniformly applies to all tenants and all tenant applicants.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip Of The Week 9/9/14

If you can afford to raise your deductible, you could save 25% or more on your homeowner’s insurance premium.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip Of The Week 8/13/14

Rule of 72s: You can quickly calculate the number of years it will take for your real estate investment to double in value by dividing the annual % growth rate by 72: # years to double in value = 72/Rate of Growth. For example: At an 8% annual growth rate, your real estate investment will double in about 9 years (72/8=9) At an 12% annual growth rate, your real estate investment will double in about 6 years (72/12=6) At an 24% annual growth rate, your real estate investment will double in about 3 years (72/24=3)

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip Of The Week 8/6/14

The Capitalization or Cap Rate for a property is the ratio between its net operating income (NOI) and the property’s value: Capitalization Rate = Net Operating Income/Value You can transpose the formula to solve for property value or net operating income: Property Value = Net Operating Income/Capitalization Rate Net Operating Income = Property Value*Capitalization Rate

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Real Estate Tip Of The Week 7/30/14

Salt used to remove ice during winter is often harmful to concrete surfaces.

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Real Estate Tip Of The Week 7/23/14

Classifying real estate expenditures as repairs rather than capital improvements often results in tax savings.

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Real Estate Tip Of The Week 7/16/14

Landlords normally must deposit security deposits into an interest bearing account within 30 days of the receipt of the security deposit.

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Real Estate Tip Of The Week 7/8/14

Use low-flow toilets to reduce your water bill or make your existing toilet more efficient by dropping a soda bottle filled with sand or water into the tank. It will use less water each time it flushes. -Gerald

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Real Estate Solutions Tip Of The Week 7/1/14

Real Estate Tip: Use logic and never let emotions affect real estate investing decisions. -Gerald

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Real Estate Tip Of The Week 6/24/14

Real Estate Tip: Know when to walk away in a negotiation to purchase a property. When you walk away, a lot of times the other party will come back to you later on–and if and when they do, you’ll have an even stronger negotiating position to work from. -Gerald

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Real Estate Tip Of The Week 6/17/14

Before you make offers to buy property, look at as many similar properties in that area as possible so you’ll have a solid frame of reference to make a reasonable bid. -Gerald

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Real Estate Tip Of The Week 6/10/14

In a real estate transaction, don’t accept any piece of important data that is provided to you until you’ve gotten third party confirmation of it (i.e. lease-verified rental income numbers) -Gerald

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Real Estate Tip Of The Week 6/4/14

Make clear to your home inspector that you’d never hire him to do repair work on your property. Otherwise, he may try to inflate or invent problems with your property in his inspection report and then try to get you to hire him to do the repair work. -Gerald

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Real Estate Tip Of The Week 5/27/14

Real Estate Tip: As a rule, it’s smart to get three estimates for any service or construction work done on your home or property.

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Real Estate Tip of the Week 5/20/14

You can legally invest in real estate with your IRA and 401(K) and pay little or no taxes provided your IRA or retirement plan uses an approved custodian. The widespread misconception that permissible IRA investments are limited to stocks, bonds, mutual funds and CDs is the result of people and companies who are in the business of selling these products. -Gerald

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Real Estate Tip of the Week 5/13/14

Be careful when you make offers to purchase bank-owned property, also known as REOs because there is no previous owner compelled to disclose problems like a leaky roof or oil tank. You must do your own homework which includes a property inspection–the bank will only give you clear title to the property. -Gerald

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Real Estate Tip of the Week 5/6/14

Never pay upfront fees for a loan modification. Sub Prime predatory lenders that modify loans for money are often the same companies that originated so many of the bad loans that contributed to the real estate crisis that the US real estate markets are still recovering from. -Gerald

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Real Estate Tip Of The Week – 4/29/14

Keep detailed records of each expense related to your property so you will be able to take advantage of every single tax deduction you are legally entitled to use. -Gerald

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Real Estate Tip of the Week – 4/22/14

Make sure any contract you sign to buy a house has an inspection contingency that provides you more than enough time to get a thorough property inspection. -Gerald

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week – 4/8/14

Before you buy a previously owned property, call the local utility companies to try to get historical gas, electrical and water usage info. This will help you more accurately predict your operating expenses.

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip Of The Week!

Do a thorough title search before you buy a property to make sure that you get clear title free of outstanding liens or other encumbrances. -Gerald  

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Real Estate Tip Of The Week 3/25/14

When you renovate a property, get multiple bids from several contractors–prepare a set of bidding instructions with a detailed scope of work, a start and finish date so you can compare bids effectively. -Gerald

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip Of The Week – 3/18/14

Get a great loan when you buy so you don’t NEED to refinance; if rates improve and refinancing makes sense, aim to do so only once–serial refinancing can be expensive, wasteful & financially destructive

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip Of The Week 3/11/14

Before you sign the closing documents for a mortgage, compare the settlement statement with the Good Faith Estimate to make sure there are no errors–these errors coincidentally favor the lender in most cases.  Caveat Emptor 🙂 -Gerald  

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip Of The Week 3/4/14

Get a thorough home inspection before you buy real estate and get one before you pay for an appraisal just in case the inspection reveals something so major you decide against buying the property.  

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip Of The Week – 2/25/14

When you get a mortgage loan to buy a home, ask for a Good Faith Estimate so you can review all the terms on your loan offer and see the interest rate, payment and closing costs. -Gerald

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week – 2/18/14

Shop for a mortgage before you shop for a home.  By applying for and getting pre-approved for a home loan, you’ll figure out the price range of homes you can afford to buy. -Gerald  

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip Of The Week 2/11/14

Never use a seller’s asking price as a gauge of market value for a property.  A property owner may request any price for his property-this may or may not be anywhere near market value.  The current market value of a residential property is based primarily on what a similar property has sold for in the last 6 months.    

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 2/4/14

Always ask to see any existing leases for any rental property you are considering for purchase.  If you buy the property, you will be subject to the terms of those leases.  Make sure the leases match the seller’s representations.      

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 1/28/14

Real Estate Tip: Most of the best real estate deals will involve properties that are in need of repair.  In order to capitalize on these rehab deals, you or someone you work with will need to know how much time and money are required to renovate these properties.   -Gerald  

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 1/21/14

Real Estate Tip: The average number of days on market required to sell a home gives you a good indication of the strength of that local real estate market–a higher average number of days on market usually suggests a weaker market, a lower average number of days on market implies a stronger local real estate market.  

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 1/14/14

Real Estate Tip: Avoid poorly designed homes–this is often referred to as functional obsolescence.  Functional obsolescence reduces the desirability of your home and makes it more difficult to sell.  Here are some examples that you should steer clear of: 1) No bathrooms on first floor 2) Bedrooms with no closest 3) Knob-and-tube wiring or fuses instead of a circuit breaker box 4) One outlet per room   -Gerald  

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Gerald’s Real Estate Tip of the Week 1/7/14

Buy property that is consistent with other property in the neighborhood.  It’s smarter to buyer the cheapest rather than the most expensive house in an acceptable neighborhood-this increases the odds that your property value will increase and often makes it easier for you to sell. -Gerald  

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Ask Gerald!

Q: Hi Gerald, I found a great deal on a property that I want to buy. I’m satisfied that I did adequate due diligence: I checked sold price comparables and the property is fully rented in an area where I know I can find other tenants.  The problem is that my attorney is trying to convince me not to buy it.  What do you think I should do? Kevin, Salt Lake City, Utah Gerald: Hi Kevin, attorneys do not exist to give financial advice although they often do.  An attorney’s job is to interpret the law.  Unfortunately, attorneys thrive on power—this power is maximized by creating fear in their clients.  The more frightened they make their client, the more their […]

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Ask Gerald!

Q: Hi Gerald, my tenant is not happy about getting a rent increase although the lease she signed states that the Landlord is entitled to raise the rent.  Of course we would like to keep a good relationship!  How should I reply to this?   Thanks in advance! Julie G: Excellent question Julie.  You are correct to be concerned about maintaining a good relationship with your tenant.  Firstly, you should openly acknowledge that you understand and appreciate how your tenant feels about the rent increase.  I normally tell tenants in many communications that although I am a landlord, I know what it feels like to be a tenant because I have been a tenant in the past and I understand […]

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Ask Gerald!

Q: Hi Gerald, I read somewhere that a condo is a stepping stone to a single family home.  My boyfriend and I are thinking about buying a condo until we get married and start a family.  How can we evaluate a condo’s resale and rental potential before we buy? Sandra, Philadelphia, PA Gerald: Hi Sandra, All economic activity is driven by demand, so your ability to resell a condo or any property is based primarily on how attractive that property is or will be to eligible buyers in the future.  Unfortunately, nobody can predict real estate market movements.  The best we can do is make the most informed buying decision possible based on concrete, verifiable information available to us today.  […]

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Ask Gerald!

Q: Hi Gerald, I need to find a good contractor to do some property renovations.  The last time I hired a contractor, he took forever to do the work and never finished even though we paid him in full.  I’d do the work myself, but with our new baby and the increased hours I have to work on my new job, I just don’t have the time.  What should I do? Steve, Hartford, Connecticut. Gerald: Hi Steve, first of all, don’t beat yourself up about what happened with the last contractor you hired—it’s water under the bridge and is something you can learn from.  We all make mistakes and unfortunately even the most seasoned real estate investors have had bad […]

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In a short sale who pays the closing costs?

In a traditional real estate transaction, homeowners are responsible for paying the closing costs associated with selling their property. These seller closing costs include things like property transfer fees, realtor commissions and attorney or title company fees. In a short sale transaction on the other hand, the seller’s closing costs are usually paid out of the money the buyer brings to the closing. Normally, the seller’s lender must approve all of these seller closing costs before a short sale can be approved and completed. Let’s take a look at an example of a short sale from the seller’s perspective (Note: the buyer also incurs closing costs in a real estate transaction that will not be covered here). Seller closing costs […]

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Ask Gerald!

Q: I’m a new landlord. I’m preparing to rent out an apartment in my new property. A friend of mine told me to avoid section 8 tenants. Can I refuse to rent to a tenant if he or she gets section 8 assistance? John, New Brunswick, New Jersey Gerald: Hi John. In New Jersey you cannot discriminate based on a person’s source of income, thus refusing to rent your apartment to a tenant because they receive section 8 assistance would certainly violate that rule. Landlord tenant laws vary a great deal from place to place, so always consult the rules in the area where your property is located. As a landlord, it’s best to have a thorough written rental policy […]

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Can I short sale my house?

Qualifying to short sale your home generally boils down to 3 main challenges: 1) Getting your lender’s attention and giving your lender a reason to discount your mortgage loan 2) Demonstrating that you have a legitimate financial hardship preventing you from paying your mortgage 3) Getting your lender to accept that the price your buyer is paying for your property is close enough to your bank’s independent valuation of the property. Banks earn profits by collecting interest payments on money they lend. However, when those payments stop, instead of making money, the bank is now losing money and as a result has an incentive to limit those losses. Banks always take notice when they don’t get their money and borrowers […]

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After a short sale, when can I buy a home?

If you’re paying cash, you can buy a home the day after you short sell your property.   You can also qualify for a home loan again soon after a short sale in some cases in two years or less. Short sellers normally have to wait for a period of time after closing a short sale to qualify for a new mortgage loan, but the time frame and requirements vary depending on the type of loan and the down payment they are able and willing to pay. For a conventional loan, the higher the down payment a buyer is willing to pay after a short sale, the shorter the amount of time that is required to wait to qualify for another […]

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Almost half of homeowners with a mortgage can’t sell?

The media and wall street have been filling the airwaves with hype about a massive nationwide housing recovery.  I’m an optimist to a fault, so my cup is always half full not empty but let’s look at 2 main drivers of what is really going on in real estate right now: 1) Our nation’s banks, still weighed down by huge numbers of foreclosures are manipulating the housing inventory by kicking the proverbial can down the road on bank owned (REO) properties as well as pre-foreclosure properties where a homeowner is in default but the bank has not yet foreclosed 2) A huge number of homeowners are still upside down on their mortgages and unable to sell unless they find themselves […]

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5 Property Features Amateur Investors Should Avoid

Although there are people who specialize in dealing with these various problems, for most people, especially novice/amateur investors, it’s best to avoid properties with any of these 5 characteristics: Properties with environmental problems Properties with structural problems Properties located next to gas stations Properties that currently or previously house a dry cleaners Properties with functional obsolescence (i.e. knob-and-tube wiring or fuses instead of a circuit breaker box, bedrooms with no closets, or tiny closets, 5 bedroom 1 bathroom houses, one electrical outlet per room or rooms with no outlets)

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7 Things You Can and Should Control in Real Estate

7 Things You Can and Should Control in Real Estate The condition of your property. Real estate is an active investment-this gives you much more control over property than you’d have over other assets like stocks. You can make alterations to your property—paint it, clean it, add an addition, a new kitchen, bathroom, garage etc. If you buy a stock that poorly performs, you can’t fire the CFO! The price you pay for property. Buyers always decide the price-the person with the money always ultimately decides the price. The professionals you choose to work with (realtors, property managers, inspectors, contractors, attorneys, title companies, insurance brokers etc.) Only work with the best most trustworthy and reputable people you can find. The […]

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7 Things You Can’t Control in Real Estate

src=’http://performanceproperty.podomatic.com/embed/frame/posting/2014-04-09T18_00_18-07_00?json_url=http%3A%2F%2Fperformanceproperty.podomatic.com%2Fentry%2Fembed_params%2F2014-04-09T18_00_18-07_00%3Fcolor%3D43bee7%26autoPlay%3Dfalse%26facebook%3Dtrue%26height%3D85%26minicast%3Dfalse%26objembed%3D0%26width%3D440&notb=1′ height=’85’ width=’440′ frameborder=’0′ marginheight=’0′ marginwidth=’0′ scrolling=’no’ allowfullscreen> It’s always more productive to focus on the things in life that you have the most control over. It’s pointless to spend time and emotional energy pre-occupied with things you have no power over like the 7 things you can’t control in real estate: Taxes (Property and Income) Cost of Insurance Sale Price (when you sell) and Rent Price (when you rent). The person with the money always decides the price -this is another way of saying that ‘the market’ ultimately controls these prices Interest Rates (your credit score has some influence over the interest rate you’ll pay, but you have no say in the Prime Rate which underpins most loans) Price […]

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Should I Buy or Rent?

Should I Buy or Rent? … The correct answer is that it depends. Unfortunately, most rent versus buy analyses use a one size fits all approach to this critical decision when the correct course of action requires you to delve deeper into your individual circumstances.  Generalized advice has limited usefulness here because you are not an average, you are an individual with your own unique set of wants, needs and lifestyle requirements. The actual benefits of buying versus renting depend a great deal on whether you’re buying a rental property or a property for you to live in.  If you have enough money to cover operating costs and can find a reliable property manager or don’t mind maintaining the property yourself, […]

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Is now the right time to buy?

It’s never the right time to buy the wrong property. How do you know…Is now the right time to buy? You must be judicious whenever you buy anything especially a big ticket item like real estate. When you buy, you aren’t buying the general real estate market conditions, you aren’t buying the neighborhood, you are buying an individual property –so make sure you look at as many similar properties in the neighborhood as you can. 90% of what goes into the valuation of residential property is what a similar property has sold for in the last 6 months –do your homework and enlist the assistance of an experienced real estate professional (investor and/or Realtor). Investment property is all about the numbers: […]

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What’s up with the housing market now?

  A lot of prognosticators are forecasting that home prices are returning to normal.  Unfortunately, a forecast is nothing more than a guess.  Nevertheless, good news is always welcome. Remember that every local real estate market is different and therefore it’s a mistake to make generalizations across different markets.  As this article points out, although there have been modest price increases in many areas, there have also been price declines as well (i.e. Long Island, NY) and Miami prices are forecasted to continue to decline. The moral of the story is, do your homework and make sure you know your local market.

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Banks Preying on Homeowners Again

The crackdown by US regulators on banks charging exhorbitant ‘forced placed’ insurance fees is long overdue.  US lenders have already been exposed for forging borrower signatures.  ‘Forced placed’ insurance, which is typically more than double the cost of regular homeowner’s insurance has been a lucrative scam for banks in the wake of the housing crisis.  In some cases, banks have charged more than 10 times the regular voluntary home insurance rates–and yes, banks often receive commissions for their unholy alliance with insurers. Obviously banks once again have been preying on homeowners by colluding with insurers to artificially inflate these ‘forced placed’ insurance premiums.  Homeowners often don’t even know they’ve been had until their bill doubles, triples or quadruples.  I’ve personally […]

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Best Practices For Screening Tenants Series

  Part 2 What Info Should A Landlord Collect On A Rental Application? Names and social security numbers of ALL adult applicants Addresses of the prospect(s) (current & all previous addresses), Current driver’s license(s) Current employment/verified monthly/weekly income Current bank account info Personal references Emergency contacts Applicable lifestyle info (smoking, pets, water bed) Vehicle(s) desired to be parked at rental property

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Best Practices For Screening Tenants Series

  Part 1 Rental Application: Yes Or No? The answer is a resounding YES. You should require all tenant prospects to fill out an application. The business of real estate is done in writing and having an application and a consistently applied application process helps you as a landlord in several ways: First, it sets you apart from other landlords (makes you look more organized and professional)–remember, you are competing with other landlords for good tenants! Also, having pre-established and objective application criteria allows a landlord to justifiably reject a prospective tenant for any of the following reasons: Credit history Income History of nonpayment of rent Prior bankruptcies References Certain types of criminal convictions Pets Stay tuned to next weeks […]

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Hedge Funds and Private Equity Bullish on Housing

The fact that more and more big money investors are betting on real estate is certainly a good and welcomed sign after several years of pessimism in housing. I can confirm this increased interest firsthand, myself having helped raise over $100 million for a residential REIT that I was Chief Investment Officer for in 2011 and 2012. I’ve even seen a few attention-seeking prognosticators predicting another real estate bubble in the making. Before we get way ahead of ourselves, lets do a quick reality check. The fact is that we’ve still got plenty of real and shadow inventory out there to go through before we can realistically start talking about another real estate bull market. On top of that, residential […]

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Extension of Mortgage Debt Relief Act

Homeowners breathed a collective sigh of relief after Congress extended the mortgage debt relief act as part of the fiscal cliff resolution.

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Tax Relief For Homeowners: Congress Extends the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act

As part of the the fiscal cliff bill passed on Jan. 1, 2013, Congress has extended the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act.
The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act was created in 2007 to provide homeowners a tax exemption when they get mortgage debt forgiven on their primary residence.

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Fannie and Freddie halt foreclosures for the holidays

Homeowners facing foreclosure just received an early Christmas present: They won’t be evicted from their homes over the holidays. Mortgage giants, Freddie Mac (FMCC, Fortune 500) and Fannie Mae (FNMA, Fortune 500), announced Monday that they will suspend all bank repossessions beginning December 17 and December 19, respectively, and will not resume the evictions until January 2, 2013. “The holidays are a chance to be with loved ones and we want to relieve some stress at this time of year,” said Terry Edwards, Executive Vice President of Credit Portfolio Management, Fannie Mae. Related: 10 least affordable cities to buy a home According to Freddie spokesman, Brad German, the suspension will not affect other pre- or post-foreclosure activities, such as the […]

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Short sales jump ahead of tax hike

A soon-to-expire tax break for troubled homeowners is helping drive a spurt in “short sales.” During the three months ended Sept. 30, short sales in which homeowners had fallen behind on mortgage payments soared 22% over last year, according to a report released Thursday by online marketing company RealtyTrac. By comparison, short sales by people current on their payments went up 17%. In a short sale, homeowners sell at a price that is less than what they owe the bank, and the bank agrees to absorb the loss. The bank unloads the house and the homeowner gets out of a mortgage he can’t afford. And currently, homeowners don’t have to pay federal tax on the unpaid mortgage debt because of […]

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There Are Holiday Discounts On Real Estate Too

Whether you’re shopping for the hottest holiday toys or a new home, this season you’re going to find a ton of price cuts.   Most people aren’t looking to move during the holidays, but the average home that’s on the market during this time will slash its price somewhere between $2,000 to $10,000, according to Graham Wood of AOL Real Estate. Homebuyer traffic is very low in the winter, so usually only the most serious sellers having their homes for sale during the holidays. Buying in the off-season can have many benefits for buyers. To entice buyers further, sellers will throw in extra “gifts” in the light of the holiday season, such as washer, dryers, refrigerators, even sometimes flat screen TV’s at […]

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Home sales climb 2% in October

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The pace of sales for previously owned homes rose in October, despite the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, in the latest sign of improvement for the long-battered housing market. Existing home sales rose to an annual rate of 4.79 million, seasonally adjusted, the National Association of Realtors reported on Monday. That’s up 2.1% from September, when the revised annual rate of existing home sales was 4.69 million. And it’s an increase of 11% year-over-year, when the annual rate was 4.32 million. That was also stronger than the forecast from analysts at Briefing.com, which called for an annual rate of 4.7 million existing home sales in October. The National Association of Realtors said sales had gone up nationwide, […]

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Mortgage rates fall to record lows again

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The nation’s extremely favorable mortgage rates sank even lower this week, setting records for both the 30-year and 15-year fixed rate loans. The 30-year fell to 3.31% from 3.34% last week, according to Freddie Mac(FMCC, Fortune 500), the government controlled mortgage backer. The 15-year rate averaged 2.63%, compared with 2.65% a week ago. According to Keith Gumbinger, vice president of mortgage information company HSH Corp., the current conditions mean it may make sense for current mortgage borrowers and new homebuyers to look at shorter-term loans. Related: Most affordable cities for buying homes “If you’re looking for Black Friday deals and door-busters, it’s pretty hard to beat the savings,” he said. “To really rack up savings, you might also […]

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Tax break for struggling homeowners set to expire

The clock is ticking on a tax break that saves struggling homeowners from paying thousands of dollars to the IRS. NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The clock is ticking on a tax break that saves struggling homeowners from paying thousands of dollars to the IRS. If the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 does not get extended by Congress by the end of the year, homeowners will have to start paying income taxes on the portion of their mortgage that is forgiven in a foreclosure, short sale or principal reduction. So if you owe $150,000 on your home and it sells for $100,000 in a foreclosure auction, the IRS could tax you on the remaining $50,000. For someone in the […]

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Warren Buffett Just Made A Huge Bet On The US Housing Market

Perhaps the most bullish indicator for U.S. housing is Warren Buffett.   The legendary investor has been buying up real-estate brokerages around the country as he bets on a housing turnaround. Now, he is partnering with Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian real-estate investor, to more than double the size of his brokerage business. Bloomberg Businessweek’s Noah Buhayar has the details: Berkshire’s HomeServices of America Inc. unit will be the majority owner of the venture to manage a U.S. residential real-estate affiliate network, according to a statement on the new company’s website. The firms plan to offer a new franchise brand, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, starting next year. Brookfield’s network has operated under the Prudential Real Estate and Real Living Real Estate brands. Berkshire’s […]

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New Jersey Housing Suffers as Defaults Exceed Nevada: Mortgages

Wendell and Margret Brady haven’t paid their mortgage in more than three years, withholding the money amid a foreclosure dispute on the couple’s 11-bedroom house in Morristown, New Jersey. The Victorian home, built in 1887 and owned by the retired couple for 38 years, is part of the growing backlog of properties facing repossession in the state, which now has the second-highest serious delinquency rate in the U.S. While shrinking nationwide, the pipeline of distressed real estate, or shadow inventory, is also growing in New York, Connecticut, Maine and Pennsylvania because of state laws that slow the foreclosure process. The Bradys heard nothing from their lender from May 2011, until a letter arrived in the mail last week. The Victorian home, built in 1887 […]

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Foreclosure limbo: Staying without paying.

Les Christie, On Thursday June 9, 2011, 9:45 am EDT Charles and Jill Segal have not made a mortgage payment in nearly five years — but they continue to live in their five-bedroom West Palm Beach, Fla. home. Lynn, from St. Petersburg, Fla., has been living without paying for three years. In Thousand Oaks, Calif., an actor has missed 30 payments, and still, he has not lost his home. They’re not alone.

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Homeowner Foreclosures on Bank of America (Yes, You Heard That Right)

By TARA-NICHOLLE NELSON – Mon Jun 6, 4:50 pm ET In a modern-day evocation of David’s slingshot triumph over Goliath, a couple of foreclosed homeowners in Naples, Florida reportedly foreclosed on a Bank of America branch last week, their attorney actually having moving trucks pull up in front of a Naples branch to execute a foreclosure judgment against the bank. What must have seemed to observers like a scene out of a parallel universe – you can see some video here – was actually the fair and logical conclusion to a situation which, the court had ruled, had an unfair and illogical start. In 2009, retired police officer Warren Nyerges and his wife, Maureen Collier, paid $165,000 cash for their 2,700 square foot home in the […]

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Underwater mortgages rise as home prices fall

By The Associated Press – 1 hr 48 mins ago WASHINGTON – The number of Americans who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth rose at the end of last year, preventing many people from selling their homes in an already weak housing market. CoreLogic said Tuesday that about 11.1 million households, or 23.1 percent of all mortgaged homes, were underwater in the October-December quarter. That’s up from 22.5 percent, or 10.8 million households, in the July-September quarter. The number of underwater mortgages had fallen in the previous three quarters. But that was mostly because more homes had fallen into foreclosure.

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U.S. Pushes Mortgage Deal

By NICK TIMIRAOS, DAN FITZPATRICK and RUTH SIMON The Obama administration is trying to push through a settlement over mortgage-servicing breakdowns that could force America’s largest banks to pay for reductions in loan principal worth billions of dollars. Terms of the administration’s proposal include a commitment from mortgage servicers to reduce the loan balances of troubled borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth, people familiar with the matter said. The cost of those writedowns won’t be borne by investors who purchased mortgage-backed securities, these people said. If a unified settlement can be reached, some state attorneys general and federal agencies are pushing for banks to pay more than $20 billion in civil fines or to fund a comparable amount of loan […]

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AP analysis: Foreclosures raise US economic stress

By MIKE SCHNEIDER and MARTIN CRUTSINGER, Associated Press Mike Schneider And Martin Crutsinger, Associated Press – Tue Feb 8, 10:57 am ET The nation’s economic stress inched up in December because higher foreclosures outweighed lower unemployment, according to The Associated Press’ monthly analysis. Bankruptcy levels remained largely unchanged from November. But the depressed housing market took a toll. Foreclosure rates rose in 33 states, most sharply in Utah, New Jersey, Nevada and Arizona. Most analysts expect the economy to gain momentum this year, in part because of a tax-cut package that lowers workers’ Social Security taxes and puts more money in their paychecks. But two straight months of higher stress to end 2010 marked a setback after the nation’s economic pain had eased since […]

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Home Prices Sink Further

By NICK TIMIRAOS Weak demand and tight credit are contributing to the fall in home prices. Above, trying to sell in Atlanta. Home values are falling at an accelerating rate in many cities across the U.S. The Wall Street Journal’s latest quarterly survey of housing-market conditions found that prices declined in all of the 28 major metropolitan areas tracked during the fourth quarter when compared to a year earlier.

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They’re Rich and Famous and In Foreclosure

by Sonya Stinson Saturday, January 22, 2011 How does Nicolas Cage get behind on his mortgage payments? The same way other rich and famous people do. “They’ve stretched themselves higher than they probably should have,” says John Anderson, owner of Twin Oaks Realty in Minneapolis and a National Association of Realtors expert in foreclosures. Some couldn’t keep up when the rates on their adjustable rate mortgages shot up, Anderson says. Price drops at the high end of the market were so steep that a sale wouldn’t cover the debt. In other words, high-end homeowners face the same problems that plague the not-so-rich-and-famous. Here are five of the biggest names on the of list homeowners falling to foreclosure. We’ve included a […]

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Banks lose key foreclosure ruling in top Massachusetts court

By Jonathan Stempel and Dena Aubin – Fri Jan 7, 4:58 pm ET NEW YORK (Reuters) – In a decision that may slow foreclosures nationwide, Massachusetts’ highest court voided the seizure of two homes by Wells Fargo & Co and US Bancorp after the banks failed to show they held the mortgages at the time they foreclosed. Bank shares fell, weighing on broader stock indexes, on fears the decision could threaten lenders’ ability to work through hundreds of thousands of pending foreclosures. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts’ unanimous decision on Friday upheld a lower court ruling. It is among the earliest cases to address the validity of foreclosures done without proper documentation. That issue, including the use of “robo-signers” who approved foreclosure documents without reviewing them, last year prompted an […]

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N.J. top judge pushes for measures to target bad foreclosure practices

By Sarah Portlock / The Star-Ledger Citing a staggering increase in filings and voicing fears of inaccurate applications, New Jersey’s top judge announced a series of initiatives Monday to combat rogue foreclosure filings. “It’s our hope that these three steps will provide greater confidence” in the foreclosure process, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said in a conference call with reporters. “It is important the judiciary ensures that judges are not rubber-stamping questionable documents that may not be reliable.” The state’s actions are intended to address problems with “robo-signing,” a practice where mortgage lender employees sign hundreds, if not thousands, of affidavits submitted in support of foreclosure claims without any personal knowledge of the information included in the application.

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Two states sue Bank of America on mortgage servicing

By Dan Levine Dan Levine – Fri Dec 17, 5:32 pm ET SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The states of Arizona and Nevada sued Bank of America Corp on Friday, accusing the largest U.S. bank of routinely misleading consumers about home loan modifications. The two lawsuits, filed by each state attorney general in Arizona and Nevada state courts, seek potentially massive fines against the bank and compensation for customers. Arizona accuses Bank of America of violating a 2009 consent judgment in which it committed to widespread home loan modifications. The bank failed to follow through, leaving borrowers in limbo, according to the suit.

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AP IMPACT: Caught by mistake in foreclosure web

By MICHELLE CONLIN, AP Real Estate Writer Christopher Marconi was in the shower when he heard a loud banging on his door. By the time he grabbed a towel and hustled to his front step, a U.S. marshal’s sedan was peeling out of his driveway. Nailed to Marconi’s front door was a foreclosure summons from Wells Fargo, naming him as a defendant. But the notice was for a house Marconi had never seen — on a mortgage he never had. Tom Williams was in his kitchen thumbing through the mail when he opened a letter from GMAC. It informed him that the bank would confiscate his house unless he immediately paid off his mortgage balance of $276,000. But Williams had […]

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Third quarter saw record foreclosures in N.J.

Thursday, November 18, 2010 BY KATHLEEN LYNN A record number of New Jersey mortgage holders were either in foreclosure or late on their monthly payments during the third quarter, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Thursday. About 15.5 percent of Garden State mortgage holders — almost one in six — were in trouble, up from 14.5 percent in the year-ago quarter. New Jersey was 25th in delinquencies and ninth in foreclosures started nationwide. Nationally, 13.8 percent of mortgage holders were either late or in foreclosure, down from 14.4 percent a year earlier.

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The Short Sale Authority Exposes Sneaky Traps Powerful Banks Set For Homeowners

Job losses coupled with a record drop in property values have left scores of homeowners unable to make their mortgage payments and owing more money on their property than it’s currently worth.  Gerald Lucas, “The Short Sale Authority” has announced the upcoming release of his eagerly anticipated book, “Short Sale Specifics: An Easy-To-Read Homeowner’s Guide To Short Sales.” With over a decade of experience in the real estate business and hundreds of successfully negotiated short sales to his credit, Lucas has built an impressive reputation as the preeminent expert on real estate short sales.  As Managing Director of Performance Property http://performancepropertyllc.com/, Jersey City and Hoboken’s premier short sale negotiation company, Lucas has been assisting underwater homeowners throughout the housing crisis.

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Weiss: Banks holding billions in foreclosures

JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America each had more than $20 billion in single-family mortgages foreclosed on or in the process of foreclosure as of midyear, according to a report by Weiss Ratings. And, Weiss found that, for each dollar the banks held of mortgages already in foreclosure, they had more than $2 in mortgages 30 days or more past due, which means at least a portion of them will end up in foreclosure. “These figures tell us that the biggest players are not only in deep, but could sink even deeper into the mortgage mayhem,” said Martin D. Weiss, chairman of Jupiter-based Weiss Ratings, in a news release.

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Short Sales: What If I Already Tried To Modify My Mortgage Loan?

Are you eligible to apply for a short sale even if you’ve already tried to modify your mortgage loan? Your effort as a borrower to short sell your property should never appear to be a strategic default to your lender. A strategic default is a decision by a borrower to stop making payments on a debt despite having the financial ability to make the payments. Banks don’t like to approve short sale applications when it looks like a borrower can pay but simply chooses not to pay.

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Bank of America finds foreclosure mistakes: report

– Mon Oct 25, 1:04 am ET (Reuters) – Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) acknowledged some mistakes in foreclosure files as it begins to resubmit documents in 102,000 cases, the Wall Street Journal said. The bank found errors in 10 to 25 out of the first several hundred foreclosure it examined starting last Monday, the newspaper said. The problems included improper paperwork, lack of signatures and missing files, as well as cases in which information about the property and payment history being unmatched, the Journal said.

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Bank of America will be Starting the Foreclosure Process

By Gary Singer on October 19, 2010 It was announced before ten days that all the foreclosure sales will be halted. But just contrary to the announcement Bank of America declared that it will again start with the foreclosure process. They will again start with the process of resubmitting the paper work. They will start it by 25th October for the borrowers who have missed their payments in 23 states. The bank said that they are only waiting for the approval of the court. If the judges approve the filings of the new filings then they will start again with the sale of foreclosure property. The bank also said that they will continue with the freezing of foreclosure sales and […]

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Officials in 50 states launch foreclosure probe

By ALAN ZIBEL, AP Real Estate Writer Alan Zibel, Ap Real Estate Writer WASHINGTON – Officials in 50 states and the District of Columbia have launched a joint investigation into allegations that mortgage companies mishandled documents and broke laws in foreclosing on hundreds of thousands of homeowners. The states’ attorneys general and bank regulators will examine whether mortgage company employees made false statements or prepared documents improperly. Alabama initially did not sign on to the investigation. It reversed course after the joint statement was released.

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Short Sales: 5 Tips For Finding And Keeping A Buyer

In a short sale, because of the extra time required to negotiate with the seller’s bank, the task of finding and then maintaining a patient buyer is critical to successfully completing the sale. Here are 5 essential tips for getting and then keeping a buyer throughout a short sale transaction:

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BofA halts foreclosures in 50 states

By ALAN ZIBEL, AP Real Estate Writer Alan Zibel, Ap Real Estate Writer WASHINGTON – A mushrooming crisis over potential flaws in foreclosure documents is threatening to throw the real estate industry into chaos, as Bank of America on Friday became the first bank to stop taking back tens of thousands of foreclosed homes in all 50 states. The move, along with another decision on foreclosures by PNC Financial Services Inc., adds to growing concerns that mortgage lenders have been evicting homeowners using flawed court papers, without verifying the information in them.

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Bank of America delays foreclosures in 23 states as it examines handling of documents

Alan Zibel, AP Real Estate Writer, On Friday October 1, 2010, 9:10 pm WASHINGTON (AP) — Bank of America is delaying foreclosures in 23 states as it examines whether it rushed the foreclosure process for thousands of homeowners without reading the documents. The move adds the nation’s largest bank to a growing list of mortgage companies whose employees signed documents in foreclosure cases without verifying the information in them.

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JPMorgan halts more than 50,000 foreclosures over possible flaws as industry problem grows

Janna Herron and Alan Zibel, AP Real Estate Writers, On Wednesday September 29, 2010, 7:34 pm EDT NEW YORK (AP) — JPMorgan Chase has temporarily stopped foreclosing on more than 50,000 homes so it can review documents that might contain errors. JPMorgan’s move Wednesday makes it the second major company to take such action this month, underscoring a growing legal problem. The issue could stall an already overloaded foreclosure process.

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Mortgage Loans and Foreclosure: If You Run and Hide, You Make A Bad Situation Even Worse

When debt is closing in on you, it’s natural to want to get away and run for cover. Unfortunately, when you deliberately dodge your mortgage lender, you reduce the number of choices you have and you give your bank more control over your future.

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Banks Pressed on Sour Home Loans

By Carrick Mollenkamp Big U.S. banks are facing legal pressure to make up for losses tied to pools of soured low-end mortgage loans. In the latest effort, a group of investors in 2,300 mortgage securities worth roughly $500 billion is seeking to force several banks that originated or are now servicing faulty subprime-mortgage loans to repurchase or modify them. The move follows other similar efforts. Bond and mortgage insurers, hard hit in the housing crisis, have filed lawsuits accusing lenders and banks of sticking them with flawed loans marred by poor underwriting and faulty appraisals.

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A Short Sale On My Credit Report: How Many Points Will Drop From My Credit Score?

By Gerald Lucas What impact will a short sale have on your credit score? The correct answer is that it depends. Your credit score is calculated based on a complex formula that tries to figure out the likelihood that you will not pay back your debts. The term ‘short sale’ is unlikely to appear on your credit report. The number of points you’ll lose on your credit score after a short sale will be based on how your mortgage loan was closed and on how that closed account was reported to credit reporting agencies. Normally, a short sale is reported as ‘settled debt’.

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Flood of foreclosures expected to put more property underwater

By Evelyn Lee As the recession creates record-high vacancies in New Jersey’s commercial real estate market, more buildings are going back to lenders, and some industry insiders expect the number of distressed assets to increase, as more mortgages are due to mature during the later half of this year and 2011.

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Short Sales: How Long Should My Hardship Letter Be?

By Gerald Lucas Before a homeowner sits down to write the hardship letter for their short sale application, they often ask me how long the letter should be. There are two schools of thought on how long a hardship letter should be. One school contends that a hardship letter should be as short as possible. The other school of thought is that a hardship letter should be lengthy, comprehensive and very detailed. The second school encourages property owners to go into great detail about their personal history with their property, the circumstances that contributed to their financial problems as well as the steps that they have taken to deal with those problems.

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Short Sales: 4 Proven Ways To Speed Up The Process

By Gerald Lucas One of the biggest complaints people have about short sales is how long they take to complete.  Here are 4 specific tips proven to speed up the short sale process: Tip #1: Continue to pay all property-related expenses that are not wrapped into your regular mortgage payment–expenses like HOA fees or condo fees as well as water, sewer or other utility bills (basically any expense that is not included in your regular mortgage payment).  In most cases, you have to be behind on your mortgage payments before your lender will consider discounting your mortgage loan.

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Foreclosures up in 75 percent of top U.S. metro areas

By Lynn Adler NEW YORK (Reuters) – Foreclosures rose in 3 of every four large U.S. metro areas in this year’s first half, likely ruling out sustained home price gains until 2013, real estate data company RealtyTrac said on Thursday. Unemployment was the main culprit driving foreclosure actions on more than 1.6 million properties, the company said.

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The Roller-Coaster Ride Called a Short Sale

By Vivian S. Toy WITH property values down by as much as 30 percent in New York City, some homeowners who bought at the height of the market are finding themselves underwater and are being forced to sell their homes in short sales. Sharay Hayes is hoping that a short sale of his town house in Harlem will help him get out from under. It’s now in contract. In the months after the Lehman Brothers crash, most of the short-sale action was in the boroughs outside of Manhattan and in the suburbs. This year, however, short sales appear to be picking up in Manhattan, real estate and mortgage brokers say.

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Anti-Foreclosure Program Still Losing Homeowners

By JESSICA HOLZER WASHINGTON—The federal government’s foreclosure-prevention effort continued to sputter, as the number of homeowners leaving the program exceeded those who received new loan modifications for the second straight month. More than 91,000 homeowners cancelled their government loan modifications in June, while just 38,728 received new modifications, according to data released Tuesday.

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A Short Sale – How Will I Know If I Qualify For One?

By Gerald Lucas If your mortgage loan balance is higher than the value of your property and you don’t have the money to make up the difference, you probably want to know whether you’d qualify for a short sale. To find out, we have to look at a short sale from a bank’s perspective. While there are many factors that banks consider, getting your lender to approve your short sale application generally boils down to 3 main challenges:

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To Fix Sour Property Deals, Lenders ‘Extend and Pretend’

By CARRICK MOLLENKAMP and LINGLING WEI Some banks have a special technique for dealing with business borrowers who can’t repay loans coming due: Give them more time, hoping things improve and they can repay later. Banks call it a wise strategy. Skeptics call it “extend and pretend.” Banks are applying it, in particular, to commercial real-estate lending, where, during the boom, optimistic borrowers got in over their heads to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

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Short Sale Versus Foreclosure – Which Option is Better For Me?

It’s very easy to get discouraged and want to give up when you fall behind on your mortgage payments. I’ve heard many homeowners say, “I’ve already ruined my credit, it can’t get any worse.” Unfortunately, it can get worse, because the nightmare does not end when the bank forecloses on your property.

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Short Sales – What Happens to the Unpaid Loan Balance After the Sale?

Most people who are thinking about doing a short sale want to know what happens to the unpaid loan balance after the sale. Homeowners often ask me if they are going to be responsible for the difference between the reduced amount their bank receives at closing and the amount they actually owed for their mortgage.

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Short Sales – How Long Does it Take to Complete Them?

There are many factors that affect the amount of time required to complete a short sale. More importantly, there are concrete steps you can take to significantly shorten the time required to complete a short sale. The following actions affect the duration of the process:

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Persuasive Short Sale Hardship Letters – 7 Critical Writing Tips

The thought of writing a hardship letter sometimes causes fear and anxiety in homeowners, but it’s really quite simple and if written properly, a good hardship letter can help a homeowner make a powerful case to their lender. Certain elements written into your hardship letter can help make your case to the bank while others can hurt your chances of getting a short sale approval. Here are 7 tips to writing a persuasive hardship letter:

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Mortgage delinquencies, foreclosures break records

By ALAN ZIBEL, AP Real Estate Writer Alan Zibel, Ap Real Estate Writer WASHINGTON – The number of homeowners who missed at least one mortgage payment surged to a record in the first quarter of the year, a sign that the foreclosure crisis is far from over. More than 10 percent of homeowners had missed at least one mortgage payment in the January-March period, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday. That number was up from 9.5 percent in the fourth quarter of last year and 9.1 percent a year earlier.  

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Loan Aid Leaves Some Worse Off

By James R. Hagerty One in four in the government’s mortgage program is dropped. Here are tales of exhausted savings. The government’s mortgage-modification program has left some struggling homeowners worse off than they were before. The Treasury reported Monday that nearly one in four homeowners who were offered lower payments under the Obama administration’s 15-month-old effort have been weeded out of the program. Many people were removed from the trials because they failed to make payments, didn’t provide all the financial documents needed to qualify or were found to be ineligible.  

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Short Sale Specifics

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