Tips to prepare your budget before buying a home

PHILADELPHIA – Nov. 20, 2017 – It’s virtually impossible to know what size home you can afford if you aren’t fully aware of how much money you are earning and how much you are spending each month.
Start with your income: How much do you bring home after taxes and retirement plan contributions?
Next, look at your expenses: What are your necessary expenses? How much are you paying each month toward your debt? What additional expenses do you have that wouldn’t be deemed “necessary?” How much money do you have left (if any)?
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National flood insurance extended for three months

WASHINGTON – Sept. 13, 2017 – On Thursday, Sept. 7, the Senate voted to pass a three-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that was scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2017; and on Friday, Sept. 8, the House of Representatives passed the legislation and President Trump signed the bill into law later on that same day.
For real estate practitioners, the pressure to close all deals that required flood insurance before Sept. 30 is off and transactions can proceed under their normal time schedules.
For Realtors, it means the National Association of Realtors® (NAR)’ Call for Action has also ended, concluding on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
However, the three-month extension was not NAR’s initial goal. The association had first pushed for a longer extension and necessary changes to keep NFIP viable. NAR says it will continue those legislative advocacy efforts for the 21st Century Flood Reform Act until the long-term reauthorization and reform bill is enacted.
“Extending the National Flood Insurance Program was a must-do item, and Congress delivered,” says NAR President William E. Brown. “That’s good news for consumers, as well as an opportunity for proponents of meaningful reform. With a short extension on their side, leaders in the House and Senate should continue work on the 21st Century Flood Reform Act to strengthen the NFIP and ensure the long-term certainty that current and future homeowners demand.”
© 2017 Florida Realtors

Buyer – Questionnaire

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How to claim Florida as your state of residence to save on taxes

NEW YORK – June 13, 2017 –
Question: I live in New York. If I buy a second home in Florida, can I count Florida as my residence for state tax purposes?
Answer: Maybe, and claiming the Sunshine State as your permanent residence could save you a lot of money. Florida has no state income tax, whereas New York has a top income tax rate of 8.92%. But you can’t just tap your heels together to make it happen.
And tax officials in states that are home to a lot of snowbirds – New York and Minnesota in particular – have become more aggressive about going after people they consider taxpaying residents.
State laws vary, but in general, you need to be able to prove that you intend to make the low-tax state your permanent home, says Rocky Mengle, a senior analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting.
The easiest way to do that is to sell your place up north and move down south. Of course, for many retirees, it’s not that simple. You may want to keep the northern home in your family or return there during the summer months. If that’s your plan, be prepared to keep meticulous records that will demonstrate your devotion to your new state.
Prove it. First, you’ll need to show that you spend more than half the year – 183 days – in the state you claim as your domicile (that is, the place you consider your permanent home). That’s the basis for most state definitions of residency for tax purposes. But don’t expect state tax auditors to take your word for it. Keep a diary or log showing the number of days you spend in each state during the year, says Tim Steffen, director of financial planning for Robert W. Baird.
In the past, snowbirds could use plane tickets to show they were gone more than six months, but that may no longer suffice, says Terry LaBant, senior wealth strategist for Calamos Wealth Management in Naperville, Ill. State tax auditors may claim that such tickets only show where you were the day you left New York for Florida and the day you returned, but not all of the days in between, he says.
Next, take steps to show that you’re committed to your new state. Register to vote and, if you receive a jury summons, perform your civic duty. Apply for a library card, and change your driver’s license and car registration. You’ll strengthen your case if you hook up with health care providers in your new location.
Open an account at a local bank, and keep receipts of ATM withdrawals, LaBant says. Shopping locally is also a good idea: State tax auditors sometimes review credit card records to determine where you were during the year. One of LaBant’s clients, who had homes in New Jersey and Florida, was questioned by New Jersey tax auditors about purchases his wife made from a retailer in New Jersey. Fortunately, the client was able to produce records that showed the items had been ordered and shipped to the couple’s Florida home.
In some cases, your adopted state will help you prove residency. You can show your intent to live in Florida, for example, by filing a Declaration of Domicile with your local county court.
As you take steps to establish residency in a new state, you should also start to cut ties with the old one. Avoid taking advantage of benefits that are limited to state residents. For example, if you claim a homestead exemption for property taxes on your first home, state tax officials could use that to show that you’re still a resident and thus owe state taxes. Even checking the “resident” box on a state fishing license could be used as proof that you didn’t really intend to leave your northern home for good.
Copyright © 2017, Sandra Block, senior associate editor, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine, The Kiplinger Washington Editors.
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New Homes – Buyers: Act Now As Prices Could Go Up.

New construction, new communities are booming in the Naples area. Many new communities are under development or are going to be released soon in  Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero.

Some builders are offering nice incentives for buyers, but this trend may end soon, as the prices for new construction could start to go higher soon. If prices are going up soon, it can be also a good way for buyers to consider resale properties too.

View Article: New-home buyers: Act now before prices go up

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Average 30-year mortgage rate falls to 4.1%

Now is the good time to buy!

Interest rates are still low but are not expecting to stay that way for long as the Federal Reserve is looking to increase them soon.

Find your dream home in the Naples, Bonita Springs, Estero and Fort Myers area now.

View Article: Average 30-year mortgage rate falls to 4.1%

New Report Finds Waiting to Buy a Home Could Cost Thousands

With interest rates and home prices expected to climb in the next year, the financial penalties of delaying or forgoing a home purchase in today’s market have become very steep, according to the inaugural Opportunity Cost Report released recently by realtor.com®, a leading provider of online real estate services operated by News Corp subsidiary Move, Inc.

The proprietary report examines a wide range of factors, including the long-term financial impact of owning versus renting a home, the likely monetary gain renters forego in waiting to buy and the financial benefits of homeownership by market.
“Current market conditions give buyers the opportunity to build substantial wealth in the long- term, compared with renters and later buyers, in advance of the projected increase in mortgage rates and continuing price appreciation,” says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for realtor.com®. 
The problem is inventory is low, which has many would-be home buyers – especially first timers – standing on the sidelines and missing out on potentially material financial gains.

Nationally, the estimated wealth an average buyer would accumulate over a 30-year period based on today’s dollars totals $217,726. Although some markets are more buyer-friendly than others, national data shows homeowners see significant financial benefits as compared to lifetime renters. In 88 percent of MSAs, buying a home produces a financial benefit of at least $100,000 over 30 years.
Ten markets offer an especially considerable upside to owning, with estimated 30-year financial gains above $500,000, and opportunity costs of waiting three years as high as $200,000. These MSAs, in California and other Western states, are relatively expensive markets with strong housing demand and limited supply. The potential long-term wealth in these areas is the greatest nationwide, and likewise, the long-term financial penalty for delaying ownership is substantial, due to price appreciation, escalating rents, and higher mortgage rates on the horizon.
“This analysis looks solely at the financial reasons to buy a home, based on assumptions about rising mortgage rates and changes in home values,” Smoke says. “It’s important to remember that a home purchase decision is deeply personal. Potential buyers need to consider factors such as upcoming life events, job security and potential relocation, in addition to financial benefits, because they too can have a significant impact on ownership.” 
©RISMedia – Realtor.com

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Multiple offers: Tips for buyers making bids

The Naples real estate market is hot and we are experiencing with our buyers multiple bids very frequently on properties.
These advices are very useful for any potential serious buyers in today’s real estate market.

NEW YORK – June 3, 2015 – 
Sellers with more than one offer will pick the “best” one, though “best” is an undefined term – in the case of an offer, it’s all in how the sellers view it.
Buyers hoping to win a bid should consider all the variables and plan accordingly. Some things to consider when talking to buyers:

Earnest money. In general, the more money a buyer is willing to put on the line, the more      appealing the offer will be to the seller.
Verification. Can the buyer really afford the home? It helps if a buyer submits proof, and underwriting approval carries more weight than a simple letter from the lender.
Courtesy. If a house isn’t empty during a showing, the seller may need extra time to move. A buyer willing to give the seller some wiggle room could gain an edge.
Strength. Buyers should submit their highest offer first. If that offer fails, they’ll know they tried their best.
Market value. Some sellers price their home low in order to attract multiple bids. If a buyer balks at offering a price that’s higher than the asking price, compare the offer to nearby home values. Even an over-the-asking-price offer could be a bargain for that neighborhood.
No contingencies. Sometimes they’re necessary, but the fewer the better.
Keep it simple. Little requests could irritate a seller, such asking for a home warranty or termite bond.
Closing costs. Sellers with multiple offers often look at the bottom line – how much would I actually receive from each of these offers? In some cases, a request to pay extra closing costs could hurt.
Actual concerns. What does the seller really want? To get out quickly? To get the most money? To know that the family home is going to someone who appreciates its emotional worth? Find out if you can.
Prepare for the next step. Even the best offer could receive a counter offer. For many agents and sellers, it’s just good business. If a buyer submits the “best offer,” a counter-offer may come as a surprise if their agent hasn’t prepared them for it.
Details count. If a seller responds to an offer, the timing is important. Responses should be quick, and any seller requests, even idiosyncratic, should be respected.
Source: RISMedia (05/31/15) Workman, Verl
© 2015 Florida Realtors®