Monthly Archives: August 2013

Gay Real Estate’s Top 5 Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make

Though the real estate industry is changing every day, mistakes made by first time homebuyers seem not to change that much.

risingratesThe mistakes range from managing their financial picture, to finding the perfect home before being qualified, to choosing the wrong lender. Below are the top five mistakes first timers keep making:

1. Wrong moves in terms of credit management: This is confusing for many and it can be tricky especially in preparation to buy a home. Don’t open new credit accounts, or run out a buy a new car before closing! Your debt ratios are looked at very closely, and will be verified again prior to closing.

2. Trying to pre-approve oneself: Pre-qualification is an important factor when finding homes and property to buy, don’t try to pre-qualify yourself… the very first thing you should always do is to meet with a reputable lender (preferably one that is recommended by your realtor).

3. Choosing a loan officer by lowest rate: Teaser rates are a fact of life, and you can’t believe everything you see. Not all lenders are equal; ensure you work with one that is qualified, since they are responsible for your joy or headaches in the future.

4. Choosing your realtor from an open house: Yes, most realtors at open houses will treat you, and or you are your partner very nice… after all, they may possible earn a multi-thousand dollar paycheck from you (and then give a portion of it to an organization fighting against everything we’re fighting for). Choose a competent, professional, full-time gay, lesbian or gay friendly realtor from sites like GayRealEstate.com, and ensure your best interests, and your financial spending is supporting our community.

5. Waiting for the perfect property: As you wait for the perfect property, in many parts of the country prices are raising at 10% per year, this means your purchasing power is dropping at almost 1% per month! Make a list of desires and must haves, and be flexible in your search for the perfect home. Secure your investment and make it your own – another move will most like be in your future.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of Gay Real Estate. Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. FREE Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.

 

Posted on August 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

Gay Realtor Tips to Relieve the Tension of Relocation

If you thought that selling a home would take time, think again. These days in many markets, you can sell your home at blazing speeds, which is a clear indication that there has been an increase in the mobility that goes hand in hand with the country’s economic restoration.

For many of us that have been stuck in our homes for the past half dozen years, this is great news.

Gay Realtor Tips to Relieve the Tension of RelocationThere comes a time in our lives that we need to pick ourselves up and move ahead. You’re going to start a new beginning, which is why you need to get started on the right track e.g. finding a great neighborhood, within your new city, that fits perfectly with your current economic condition.

To be able to make the next move without undue stress, you need to adhere to the following principles.

Acknowledge the Reality of Today’s Market

Realize that you live in a world that has amazing cities, with amazing opportunities. In some cities the number of homes that are available is outnumbered by the number of potential buyers, offering a great opportunity to home buyers, and in other cities you’d better be prepared to make aggressive, over-full-price offers to secure your home.

So what do you need to do? A few simple rules apply here;

  1. A Sell first then buy the new home.
  2. Visit the city you are considering, and meet with a gay realtor to discuss opportunities.
  3. Don’t rush if you don’t have to, but move forward with a well designed plan.
  4. Packing is everything! Do it well, or have it done for you.

Don’t over extend yourself financially, which causes an enormous amount of unnecessary stress. If money is not a concern, there are still lenders that will extend a short term bridge loan for those trying to purchase a new house prior to selling the current one you own.

Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

Nothing is more important than to work with someone you trust, someone that understands your unique needs and requirements, and someone that stands in full support of the LGBT community.

Services like those offered by GayRealEstate.com, GayRealEstateAgents.com and LesbianRealEstate.com help take the guesswork out of choosing a real estate professional. Additionally, you can request a Free Relocation Kit for any city you’re considering a move to.

Is My New Home Worth It?

Living life to the fullest is about taking some risks. Well, this is the same thing with your home investment. How you have prepared is what makes the big difference between success and failure. A good tip would be to at least put at least 20% down on your new home purchase, to save MIP (Mortgage Insurance Premium) which can be hundreds of extra dollars per month.

Before you decide to move into a new neighborhood, ensure you have closely accessed the area and familiarize yourself with what goes on in the region.

When you’ve made the decision to move, pick movers carefully ~ how are they rated at Yelp.com? Try to find out their interstate rates of shipping. When moving despite how much you have paid for the service, delays in pickup and delivery are likely to occur so exercise patience, and know that things are unfolding exactly as they should.

You can try and avoid crunch times by moving on times where you would get a more attentive crews, and better rates. Such seasons are between the months of October – March. If you have expensive items to move, getting third party moving insurance is a great idea.

Posted on August 29, 2013 in Relocation / Moving

Gay Realtors Report Smoking in Your Home = 20% Loss of Value.

Smoking is no longer vogue. Get your favorite golden ring and place it on top of a burning candle – It will quickly be covered with soot. This is what happens to every inch of a home when you smoke in it, which results in a loss of value. If you thought it was about your health alone, realize that your cash ‘health’ is at stake too.

imagesIt a consensus among our top gay realtors that people hesitate from buying a home that once belonged to a smoker. No smoke of course is visible, but the evidence is vivid. It never goes without a saying that ‘where there is smoke there is fire’. The fire in this situation is that potential home sellers might miss that one shot you have always been waiting for, reselling your home.

Studies from gay real estate agents have suggested that smoking could devastatingly reduce the value of a home resale by shocking thousands of dollars. A single smoker in a home would likely reduce the house value by 20% on average.

Estimating the overall damage of smoking on real estate is tricky. You can imagine if smells such as dampness, pets or cooking could affect the sale price of a home, smoke is much worse. Over time smoke penetrates even the tiniest of particles in paint, wallpaper, woodwork and of course carpet and draperies, making a thorough cleaning almost impossible without major replacements and repaints.

This is a serious economic matter besides the health effects associated with it. You can imagine how people in a condo or apartment building feel when they inhale the cigarette smoke that is penetrating through the shared heating or ventilation systems. This stands as the main reason why many HOA firms have banned smoking in their property.

Third hand smoking might seem as a petty issue, buts it’s a devil in disguise. Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California have demonstrated how third hand smoke can cause great damage to the human cells. In a more scientific term, it’s carcinogenic and human beings can be exposed to it through ingestion, inhalation or skin contact.

The scientists have clear evidence that wiping, vacuuming the house or improving the ventilation doesn’t do much when trying to recover the mess caused by nicotine contamination.

When it comes to protecting the value of your home, take the smoking outside – when it comes to the value of your life, we suggest to quit altogether… for help you may contact smokefree.gov.

Posted on August 28, 2013 in Gay Realtor News

Gay Denver Realtor on the Nation’s New Hot Spot!

When you think of great places to call home, Denver, Colorado is quickly becoming the nation’s new hot spot! With a hot job market, and support of entrepreneurial spirits, this city is on the verge of an explosion. Tech, oil and gas, spirits, medical marijuana and more ~ let your creative juices flow in the mile high city!

Nation's New Hot SpotPerfect weather (yes you can often golf year round), with 4 seasons and more sunshine than any city in America, behind San Diego.

There’s a myriad of things to do in Denver; For those who like outside activities, you can find things both thrilling and relaxing; Denver as a hub is probably the most famous location in the US as a place with great skiing conditions in the winter. However, during the off-season there’s plenty to do outdoors as well.

A quick trip outside of Denver and you can find exciting white water rafting. With varying levels of difficulty, from beginner to advanced, Clear Creek is great for families looking for a bit of adventure, or the more extreme sports enthusiasts. For those looking for outdoor fun with a little less danger involved, Denver is home to many miles of off-road bike trails. These trails are made even safer by the fact that they are paved, and you can rent bikes from the city itself; so don’t worry about bringing your own.

To relax and unwind, Denver is home to many day spas, including A New Spirit Wellness Center & Spa in downtown Denver. They’ve been in business for about 10 years, and offer skincare, waxing, detoxification, and other body treatments as well in a relaxing environment.

Planning a trip to check-out the city? Great for slow paced days, Denver offers the Mile High Culture Pass. This pass is for up to seven different museums, gardens, and zoos throughout Denver. For shorter trips, they can be purchased for three days, and for longer stays, five days. Some of the locations included in the pass are the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Zoo, the Denver Art Museum, and more.

With so many things to do both indoors and out all year round, Denver doesn’t have to be a city just known for skiing anymore. In fact, with all of these great things to do, and great deals to do them, Denver is quickly becoming the nation’s hot spot. Families with children looking for excitement and fun, or couples looking for a romantic getaway can all be satisfied with all there is to do in the Mile High City. Get a piece of the action now, while it’s still hot.

Contact a Top Denver Gay Realtor today for a FREE Relocation kit to the Mile High city!

Posted on August 26, 2013 in City & Neighborhood Information

Gay realtors advice on choosing a 15 or 30 year mortgage?

When purchasing a new home, many buyers ask our gay realtors if they should take out a 15 or 30 year mortgage. If the 15 year is affordable, it’s always a better choice, and there are many good reasons why.

money increaseGenerally speaking, 15-year mortgages charge less interest. For example, one popular mortgage lender offers a 30-year mortgage at 4.6 percent, whereas the interest on a 15-year loan is only 3.6 percent.

For a 30-year, $200,000 at mortgage at 4.6 percent, the amount paid is $369,000. A 15-year mortgage for $200,000 at 3.6 percent will cost you only $296,460. With a 15-year mortgage, your monthly payments will be slightly higher, but you will save $72,540 over the life of the loan.

For those who just can’t swing the higher monthly payment on a 15 year mortgage, there are other strategies that could help you save even more money and help you pay your house off even sooner, like paying more than the minimum requirement.   Mortgage interest is calculated monthly. Every month, interest is calculated on the amount of principal you still owe. Every payment you make pays that interest, plus a certain amount of principal. Every dollar above your minimum payment you pay goes toward principal. This way, you are more quickly paying down the principal, and this reduces the interest you pay.

On a 15-year, $200,000 mortgage at 3.6 percent, paying an extra $100 per month shortens the time to pay off by 15 months and you will save an additional $5,319 in interest. Paying an extra $200 per month on the same mortgage means you will make your last payment 27 months earlier, and you will save $9,746 more.

How much extra should you pay? A good guideline might be to shoot for 25 percent of your monthly income. For example, a family making $100,000 per year has a monthly gross income of $8333. If that family were to pay 25 percent of that, $2083.00 every month towards their 15-year, $200,000 mortgage at 4 percent, they would be paying an extra $436 per month. That means that they would pay off their house in only 10 years and nine months, and they would save $17,745.

With benefits like these, it’s plain to see why many borrowers are taking out 15-year mortgages instead of 30-year mortgages, and why they are paying more than the monthly minimum payment.

Paying your house off faster saves time and money, and allows you to build wealth by investing money that would otherwise go to paying interest!

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of www.GayRealEstate.com. Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. FREE Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.

Posted on August 26, 2013 in Buying a Home

San Francisco Gay Realtor Reports Condo Conversion Frenzy

Our San Francisco Gay Realtors are seeing more and more apartment to condo conversions with the RED HOT Bay Area Real Estate Market.

Some condominium complexes opened at the worst possible time – in the depths of the real estate downturn when home buyers were few and far between. They coped by becoming for-rent apartment buildings instead. But now, as the housing recovery accelerates, several East Bay and South Bay developments are switching back to for-sale condos.

“The pendulum has shifted,” said Michael Reynolds, managing partner of developer Embarcadero Pacific, which specializes in high-density urban infill projects.

Big Stock The Golden Gate BridgeIn 2009, his firm opened The Bond, a 101-unit complex in Oakland’s Jack London Square area, as rental apartments. Now it’s switching the building over to condos, taking advantage of buyers’ avid appetites for real estate and the dearth of for-sale inventory. About a quarter of the units have sold in less than three months.

“Rents are rising too quickly that if you can make a down payment, the cost of ownership is lower than leasing,” Reynolds said. With a boutique hotel feel, the building has units ranging from $350,000 for a one-bedroom to $1.25 million for a top-floor galleria penthouse.

The Bond was always intended to start off as rentals and then switch to condos when the time was right. But other complexes that opened during the downturn intending to be for-sale had no choice but to become rentals “when the music stopped,” as Reynolds put it.

Condo to rental, back

For instance, the 125-unit Broadway Grand in Oakland, developed by Signature Properties, first opened as a condo complex, sold 17 units, and then switched to rentals as the market tanked, said Paul Zeger, a principal at PolarisPacific, which is marketing it and some other conversion projects. Last year it went condo again, and now has sold all but 11 of its units.

Similarly, the Skyline in San Jose with 121 units is now switching to condos after opening as rentals during the downturn. In Emeryville, the 424-unit Bridgewater is switching from rentals to condos. The current phase II, which started in June with 174 homes ranging from $185,000 to $450,000, is finding a receptive audience, said Alan Mark, president of the Mark Co., which is marketing the complex.  Other Oakland complexes, including 288 Third and Uptown, have already made the switch.

With only a few dozen condos on the market, the conversions stand out.

“The (East Bay) condos that are for sale are snapped up quickly,” said Anne Feste, an agent with The Grubb Co.

Some buildings benefit from Oakland transport changes. “Transportation options have blossomed with the Free B downtown Oakland shuttle (which runs along Broadway from Jack London Square to Downtown, Uptown and beyond) and the SouthSF Ferry for people in the tech world to get to work,” Feste said.

‘More for your money’ Then there’s the affordability factor.

“You get a lot more for your money in the East Bay,” said Mike Wilkes, who recently relocated from Portland, Ore., with his husband, Grant Barth. “We would pay easily over $1 million in San Francisco for something comparable to what we bought for under $700,000 at The Bond.”

The East Bay and South Bay apartment buildings’ switch to condos is worlds away from San Francisco’s contentious condo conversions of tenant-in-common units, which generally are in buildings with just a handful of units. The current breed of condo conversions involve properties that were approved as condos before they were even constructed. That means going condo is relatively simple.

“Demand has spiked for for-sale housing,” Zeger said. “Buildings that have a ‘condo map’ (meaning they’re already approved for condo sales) in the local municipality can just go to the Bureau of Real Estate” to get final approvals.

When a rental building goes condo, generally existing tenants have the first right to purchase their units at the public price. If they don’t want to buy, they finish out their leases, which can then be terminated by the developer. There’s also turnover in the normal course of affairs. Harder to get a loan

“We gain vacancies through natural attrition as renters move out,” Reynolds said. “We then refurbish the units with new finishes and put them out for sale so part of the building is leased, part is owner-occupied.”

However, that mixture can make it harder to get a home loan. In today’s stricter climate, lenders often require a minimum percentage of owner-occupied units before they’ll issue mortgages in a condo complex.

“It’s much more difficult to get Fannie Mae approval when you’re converting a building,” Mark said. The agency requires condo conversions to pre-sell 70 percent of units to owner-occupants before it will back mortgages, he said, but sometimes agrees to reduce that requirement a degree.

The apartment-to-condo trajectory is less likely to happen in San Francisco, where about 8,000 rental units are under construction. That’s because most were financed in a way that requires they generate rental income for many years, Zeger said.

Original Source: SFGate

Posted on August 23, 2013 in City & Neighborhood Information

Gay Realtor on How State Tax Exemptions Work Post-DOMA

Now that the component of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) that refused to recognize gay marriages has been ruled as unconstitutional, many gay couples are wondering how this is going to benefit them when it comes to state tax exemptions.  The bottom line is that life does not change much for those couples still living in states that do not recognize gay marriage. Even though that is in conflict with the federal ruling of the Supreme Court, there is no designation forcing individual states to recognize the constitutional rights of same-sex spouses.

gay realtorsA big hitch is the fact that the Internal Revenue Service, like all federal agencies, defines marriage status by where the couple lives and not where they got married.  So if you got married in Maryland, where same-sex marriage is legal, but moved to Virginia, where it is not, you will not be eligible for any state exemptions such as being able to file your taxes jointly to receive certain deductions.

If you are in a gay relationship or legally married in a U.S. state or even in another country (like Canada), then you might be wondering what is being done to correct this situation. There have been many gay rights groups, including activists from the Human Rights Campaign that are pursuing Obama to issue an order that all federal agencies define marriage based on the “place of celebration.”   The Pentagon already defines marriage based on the place of celebration and has stated an intention to make the same benefits available to all military spouses as soon as possible.  In terms of immigration activists are asking for marriages green cards for spouses they married out of the country.

According to our gay realtor if you live in a gay-marriage friendly state then you do not have to worry about leaving an inheritance or property to your spouse. You will not have to pay any taxes to the IRS.  However if you are left property or money in a state that does not recognize same sex spouses then you may find yourself faced with some hefty bills. (always check with legal and tax professionals to verify this information for your stats)

The same thing goes with gift taxes.  The striking down of DOMA has made it possible for a same sex spouse to put the name of his or her beloved on a house deed without paying tax.  Before DOMA was struck down that would have been considered a taxable gift and the recipient of the gift would have owed tax on all but the first $14,000. That means that a million dollar house might be taxed at $500,000 minus the $14,000.00 which for some might be too expensive to accept the gift.  However just because this has been corrected federally does not mean it is corrected in every state.  Each state has its own laws, likely going through revisions, governing how this is handled.

However, in the meantime, if you and your significant same-sex other want to enjoy the state and federal tax exemptions you are advised to get married in one of the 13 states plus the District of Columbia that recognize gay marriage.

Posted on August 22, 2013 in Gay Realtor News

Gay Realtors Advice About Tapping Into Equity to Buy a Second Home

With interest rates low, and home prices rising, we have many of our Gay Real Estate .com clients asking if now is the time to buy a second home ~ we think the timing is great IF the investment is affordable to you… also after the recent crash, we’d prefer you not have all your eggs in one basket.

Tapping Into Equity to Buy a Second HomeWith housing markets heating up and interest rates still low, it can be a great time to invest in real estate. But if you don’t have a lot of extra cash on hand, how do you pay for it?

There are the usual methods, like financing the purchase with a mortgage or selling some stocks and bonds, and the usually bad ideas, like taking money out of your IRA or a loan from your 401(k), but some second home buyers have another option: the equity they’ve built up in their home.

Home equity is the difference between what a person owes on their mortgage and their home’s market value. For example, someone who owes $200,000 on a home that is worth $300,000 has $100,000 in home equity.

As home prices rise nationwide, so too does the value of your home’s equity…

Read the full story at: CNN/Money

Posted on August 21, 2013 in Home Buying

Past bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale? Gay Realtor reports “Second Chance”

The Federal Housing Administration is giving some former home owners another shot at home ownership. The FHA sent a letter to mortgage lenders stating that it would offer mortgage insurance to borrowers who once filed for bankruptcy, or who lost their homes through foreclosure or short sale during the recession.

Past bankruptcy, foreclosure or short saleStill, potential borrowers must show they can meet all other FHA requirements and that they are no longer financially constrained. Borrowers also will have to undergo housing counseling and FHA is requiring lenders to verify that at least a year has passed since the foreclosure or an economic event” that caused the foreclosure or bankruptcy.

“FHA recognizes the hardships faced by these borrowers, and realizes that their credit histories may not fully reflect their true ability or propensity to repay a mortgage,” according to the letter FHA sent to lenders.

Source: FHA offers mortgage backing to the once bankrupt, HousingWire

Posted on August 19, 2013 in Gay Real Estate News

Gay Realtor Clients Desperately Awaiting IRS Guidance Post DOMA

Gay Realtor confirms LGBT Couples and service providers all over the country are awaiting guidance from the IRS in reference to tax filing, which includes important areas like; Marital deduction ~ Joint filing ~ Health Benefits ~ Time Constraints and others.

Here’s a snipet of what Bloomberg News recently had to say on the matter.

home salesProceed with care. That’s what bankers, accountants and wealth managers are telling same-sex couples considering financial changes because of the Supreme Court’s rejection of a federal law denying them benefits.

Married couples in states that don’t recognize gay marriage and those who delayed filing their 2012 returns in anticipation of the court’s decision in June are pressing for clarity. After years of fighting for equal tax-and-benefit treatment, married couples now await guidance on how the Internal Revenue Service and federal agencies will implement the ruling. Without it, those who file for tax refunds may end up paying more, not less.

Married couples in states that don’t recognize gay marriage and those who delayed filing their 2012 returns in anticipation of the court’s decision in June are pressing for clarity. Spouses computing whether to seek refunds from prior returns see the three-year statute of limitations for amendments closing as they look to the IRS for details.

“We are desperately awaiting that guidance,” said Shari Levitan, chairwoman of the New England private wealth services group at Holland & Knight LLP in Boston. “The major question for clients is for returns that are still open, and even those that are beyond the statute of limitations, can they be amended?”

Without IRS guidance, couples who extended their 2012 return deadline to Oct. 15 and who live in a state that doesn’t recognize their marriage will probably file their federal returns jointly and disclose they are doing so based on the court’s decision, Levitan said. She serves high-net-worth clients, about 10 percent of them same-sex couples.

“You may have some good for some couples but also some bad lurking out there,” said Levitan of Holland & Knight.

Advisers including Levitan want the IRS to clarify what happens when couples reside and own a home in a state such as Massachusetts, which recognizes gay marriages, as well as a vacation property in Florida, which doesn’t.

“Do we have to treat that property differently for marital deduction purposes because it’s subject to Florida law?” she said.

States will wait to make changes until they see the IRS guidance, said Verenda Smith, deputy director at the Federation of Tax Administrators.

In states that recognize gay marriage the implications of the court’s decision are clearer, Popovich said. It’s a good time to review the beneficiaries of accounts, titles on property, and clauses in wills or trusts, he said.

“Make sure what you’ve done still makes sense,” he said.

Read the Full Story: Bloomberg News

Posted on August 19, 2013 in Gay and Lesbian