Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Things are Picking UP!

The Real Estate market is perking up in a big way. I did three different searches today for three different clients and most of what I had in mind to show them was GONE!

So, I have a wine recommendation - only $13.99 at K & L!

Cremant de Bourgogne Rosé, Perle d'Aurore, Louis Bouillot

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael -- Dead at 50

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lake Tahoe in Summer -- closer to heaven than we have a right to be...

Tahoe in Summer...
My colleague just sent me this picture on his iPhone so I remember where I am suppossed to be in the summer. Lake Tahoe has to be the most beautiful place on the planet.
Ideas, comments, arguments???

Monday, June 22, 2009

Homeowners Should be Careful About How They Hold Title to Properties

This important decision is often an afterthought during a sale but it has significant legal ramifications.

Reporting from Washington -- The manner in which homeowners hold title to their properties has significant legal ramifications. Consequently, it's not wise to leave this important decision to chance.

Escrow agents will ask how you would prefer the title to read. But often the question isn't posed until you near the close of the sale, and by then it may be too late to give any real thought to your options.

With that in mind, here's an overview of some of the more common forms of ownership:

Tenancy by the entirety.

In most cases, this is the correct way for married couples to hold title. In fact, it is available only to married couples.

Tenancy by the entirety creates an estate in which each spouse has an undivided interest in the property, or the equal right of possession and enjoyment during their joint lives. It also vests each spouse with the right of survivorship so if one dies, his or her interest transfers to the survivor.

Since probate is unnecessary on the death of the first spouse, the property won't be tied up in court. Instead, it can be sold right away if that's necessary. Also, the survivor takes title to the share of the property attributable to the deceased at its "stepped-up basis," or its fair-market value as of the date of the spouse's death.

Equally important, the individual creditors of either spouse cannot attach a lien on a property held as tenancy by the entirety. If a judgment is against both of you, the creditor can put a lien on the house, but not if the judgment is against one of you.

Tenancy in common.

Under this alternative, each person owns a set but not necessarily equal percentage. And there is no right of survivorship. Thus, the decedent's share vests with whoever is named in the will. And unless the deceased holds his share in trust, it goes through probate just like the rest of his estate.

Furthermore, the share that transfers to the survivor counts against the federal estate tax credit. So if the husband is very ill and may not survive, it might be a good idea to retitle the house as tenants in common with him holding a 99% share. That way, when he dies, his share will pass at the date-of-death value to his wife. And then, if she must sell shortly thereafter, there may be less capital-gains tax to pay, if any.

This is often the preferred method of ownership for unrelated co-owners and for remarried couples who want to leave their share to children from previous marriages.

Co-owners may have unequal shares, and each can convey his portion without the consent of the other. When a tenant in common dies, his share is passed on according to his will or, if there is no will, by state law as it applies to intestate succession. But there is no protection from creditors.

Joint tenancy with right of survivorship.

This is similar to tenancy by the entirety, except that the property is not protected from the individual creditors of each owner. Another potential drawback is that regardless of what the deceased's will says, his share will pass to the joint tenant.

Because of the right of survivorship, joint tenancy may be the best way to hold title for parent-and-child owners. Since it is more likely that the parent will die sooner, the child will receive the parent's share at its current value.

But under this form of ownership, all joint tenants are presumed to have an equal share, a situation that may leave the co-owner parent a bit uneasy. Also, in many states, one co-owner can dissolve the joint tenancy without the other's approval, which might not make any of the owners comfortable.

Sole ownership.

For the most part, a single, unmarried buyer will take title as the sole owner in his or her name alone. It is sometimes known as "ownership in severalty."

Holding property in this manner gives you complete control. If you marry later, your spouse does not automatically acquire ownership in that property. And if you divorce, your ex may still have no claim to the property.

However, you won't have the benefits that come with other forms of ownership. You won't be able to avoid creditors or the probate process, and the property will be considered part of your estate for federal estate tax purposes.

Married persons also can take title as sole owners. But in some states, the spouse not on the title must sign a quitclaim deed, giving up any claim to ownership in that property.


There are many types of trusts, but the revocable living trust is probably the most common and useful for holding title to real estate. You convey title to a trustee -- who can be anyone, including yourself -- who manages the property on your behalf.

Sometimes known as an inter vivos trust, this is a tax-neutral device, meaning that all the tax benefits and burdens of ownership continue to accrue to the grantor even though he or she no longer owns the property directly.

Holding property in this manner is useful if one of the co-owners becomes incapacitated or incompetent. Then, his or her trustee can make whatever property decisions are necessary without petitioning the court for permission. Also, property held in trust passes without probate. But creditors cannot be avoided.

Source: Los Angeles Times by Lew Sichelman

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First things first, then on with the day...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Home Buyer Tax Credit

Home buyer tax credit can be applied to purchase costs U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan recently announced that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will allow home buyers to apply the administration's new $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit toward the purchase costs of a FHA-insured home. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 offers home buyers a tax credit of up to $8,000 for purchasing their first home.

Families can only access this credit after filing their tax returns with the IRS. Home buyers using FHA-approved lenders can apply the tax credit to their down payment in excess of 3.5 percent of appraised value or their closing costs, which can help achieve a lower interest rate.

Currently, borrowers applying for an FHA-insured mortgage are required to make a minimum 3.5 percent down payment on the purchase of their home. Current law does not permit approved lenders to monetize the tax credit to meet the required 3.5 percent minimum down payment, but, under the terms of the announcement, lenders can now monetize the tax credit for use as additional down payment, or for other closing costs, which can help achieve a lower interest rate.

Source: California Association of Realtors

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Most Expensive Suburbs to Live In

ATHERTON selected as the most expensive suburb to live in...
Source: Business Week
Suburban Excess
To many, the suburbs represent a chance to escape expensive city living. But that all depends on which suburb you choose. While you might not spend as much on taxis or parking, many suburbs can be just as expensive as the city you left, if not more expensive — especially if you want Wisteria Lane-like homes, strong schools, excellent parks and recreation departments and carefully mowed lawns. The recession has only made things harder as residents struggle to pay mortgages in the face of job losses and shrinking stock portfolios.

BusinessWeek worked with data analytics firm OnBoard to identify the suburbs in each state where expenses such as mortgage and utility payments, clothing, food and beverages, property taxes, health care and home prices were the highest. Here are the suburbs that made the list in the 10 most populous states.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lender Checklist: What You Need for a Mortgage

Lender Checklist: What You Need for a Mortgage
Source: REALTOR Magazine

  • W-2 forms — or business tax return forms if you're self-employed — for the last two or three years for everyperson signing the loan.
  • Copies of at least one pay stub for each person signing the loan.
  • Account numbers of all your credit cards and the amounts for any outstanding balances.
  • Copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements for both checking and savingsaccounts.
  • Lender, loan number, and amount owed on other installment loans, such as student loans andcar loans.
  • Addresses where you’ve lived for the last five to seven years, with names of landlords ifappropriate.
  • Copies of brokerage account statements for two to four months, as well as a list of any other major assets ofvalue, such as a boat, RV, or stocks or bonds not held in a brokerage account.
  • Copies of your most recent 401(k) or other retirement account statement.
  • Documentation to verify additional income, such as child support or a pension.
  • Copies of personal tax forms for the last two to three years.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pending Home Sales Gain for Third Month

Source: www.HousingWire.com

Amid mortgage rates holding near record lows and news that some buyers might be able to use the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit toward closing costs on government-insured mortgages, home sale transactions picked up for the third consecutive month in April.

An index of pending home sales, calculated by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) from contracts signed in April, indicated a 6.7% month-on-month rise in activity across the US.

“Housing affordability conditions have been at historic highs, but now the $8,000 first-time buyer tax credit is beginning to impact the market,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, in a media statement today.

“Since first-time buyers must finalize their purchase by November 30 to get the credit, we expect greater activity in the months ahead, and that should spark more sales by repeat buyers,” he adds.

I Couldn't Have Said it Better...

"It’s tangible, it’s solid, it’s beautiful. It’s artistic, from my standpoint , and I just love real estate." - Donald Trump