Thursday, August 27, 2015

Top Tips to Prepare for Homeownership

Ready to buy a home?  Here are the top tips to determine if you are ready.

1.  Decide what you can afford.  Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.

2.  Develop your home wish list.  Then, prioritize the features on your list.

3.  Select where you want to live.  Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you'd like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans and safety.

4.  Start saving.  Do you have enough money to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment?  Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment.  Also, don't forget to factor in closing costs.  Closing costs---including taxes, attorney's fees and transfer fees---average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.

5.  Get your credit in order.  Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately.

6.  Determine your mortgage qualifications.  How large of a mortgage do you qualify for?  Also, explore different loan options---such as 30 year or 15 year fixed mortgages or ARM's.

7.  Get pre-approved.  Organize all the documentation a lender will need to pre-approve you for a loan.  You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers and copies of 2-4 months of bank statements.

8.  Weigh other sources of help with a down payment.  Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs?  Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers.  Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money to buy your first home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.

9.  Calculate the costs of homeownership.  This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities and association fees, if applicable.

10.  Contact a Realtor.  FRITZ would be glad to talk with you and answer all you real estate questions.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Millennial Homebuyers Face Credit-Score Challenges

Millennials make up the largest percentage of the U.S. population and recently surpassed Generation X as the biggest portion of the labor force, but the younger generation's credit score could be a factor that's delaying or preventing more of them from entering the housing market.  Read more . . .
For more information on this and all your real estate needs, call FRITZ.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New Listing! Open Sunday! 4328 Steele Street, Oakland

Fall in love with this charming 3+ bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage bungalow on a friendly tree lined Laurel street.  It features an updated kitchen and bath with granite counters, open living and dining areas with beautiful hardwood floors, fireplace, a separate studio space with kitchenette, a covered back porch and an enormous yard that beckons your green thumb!  Conveniently located just a short stroll from shops, restaurants, parks and public transportation.

Offered at $589,000  |  Open Sunday July 19th, 2-5pm
Call FRITZ for more information.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Open Sunday! 1317 9th Street, Alameda


A historic 7 room Queen Anne Victorian residence adorned with lavish wood trim and high ceilings built for gracious living. 

Situated near Gold Coast mansions and Crown Memorial beach, the current owners painstakingly began to renovate from the ground up, starting with a new foundation and upgraded electrical & plumbing systems.  The interior restoration began with the gorgeous wood mantle fireplace, wood floors and plasterwork restored to it's almost original glamour.  Untouched  and awaiting  skillful craftsmen are some of the original features like pocket doors, a gorgeous walnut staircase and painted-over original trim & wood work.   Three plus bedrooms, two plus baths, an almost finished basement, double story decking, incredible wine cellar and an enchanting yard with brick patio, mature shade trees and shrubbery complete this amazing home.

A rare bit of Americana priced far less than you would expect.

Offered at $789,000  /  Open  Sunday June 28th,  2-5 pm
Call FRITZ for more details.

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Listing! 5663 Florence Terrace, Oakland

Two charming homes on one lot in a prime Montclair location perfect for a shared living arrangement. There's a newer custom home offering a unique multi-level floorplan with 2+ BR, 2 bath, 2 car garage with gorgeous light-filled living and entertaining areas plus a guest suite. The ultra charming, 1920's cottage features open living and dining areas with gleaming wood floors, fireplace, a modern kitchen & bath as well as two cozy bedrooms and a huge in-law suite with a private entrance. All surrounded by lush gardens, decks and private terraces with Montclair vistas.
Truly a one of a kind offering and an exceptional investment opportunity!

Offered at $1,298,000
Call FRITZ for more details

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mortgage Availability Improves for Sixth Straight Month

Courtesy of the Pacific Union Blog:
Good News for homebuyers:  It's becoming easier to get a mortgage.
Relaxed government regulations, new offerings from federal loan programs and new jumbo-loan options helped raise the Mortgage Bankers Association's monthly Mortgage Credit Availability Index by an average 0.5 percent from March to April---the sixth straight month of increased access to home loans. Read more . . .

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Get to Know These Home Deductions for Next Year

Courtesy of  Drew Cockrell, Coldwell Banker, Atlanta:
The end of one tax season is a perfect time to start planning for the next one.  Start now so you can plan for a smooth tax prep next year.  Here are some key provisions:
Taxes—What You Can and Cannot Deduct
You can deduct real estate taxes, whether you pay them directly or through an escrow account. But be careful: not everything that may be called a "tax" is really a tax, according to IRS rules. "An itemized charge for services to specific property or people is not a tax, even if the charge is paid to the taxing authority." For example, a $5 fee charged for every 1,000 gallons of water you use or $20 per month for trash collection are not taxes and are not deductible.
Home Mortgage Interest
In most cases, all mortgage interest is deductible. But a couple may find itself limited if the total mortgage balance is over $1 million or if the mortgage was for reasons other than buying, building or improving a house.
The IRS gives a broad interpretation of interest. In most cases, both late payment penalties and mortgage prepayment penalties are deductible.
Special Tax Rules for Selling a Home
Homeowners considering selling their home will want to consider the guidance in  Publication 523. Those realizing a substantial profit might be worried about taxes, but the IRS grants a nice break.: A couple selling a home gets to exclude $500,000 in profit (it's $250,000 for a single homeowner).
However, the IRS wants to make sure it really is your main home. Among other conditions, you must have owned the home and used it as your main home during at least two of the last five years before the date of sale.
Many of these rules and provisions come with conditions and exceptions, so it's wise to read the full rules, and consult a tax professional before making a decision.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

New Listing, Open Sunday, 547 Merritt Avenue, Oakland

PENTHOUSE VIEWS!  Enjoy awe inspiring lake and city vistas from this Penthouse "Haddon Hill" town home.  Over 3100+ sq ft of luxury steps from the lake, shops and fine restaurants.  3 plus bedrooms and 3 baths, dual master suites, home office, den, gourmet kitchen and magnificent in and outdoor entertainment areas.  A view-lovers dream home!  Open Sunday 2-5.  Offered at $899,000. Call FRITZ for more details.