Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Some Cash Home Buyers Can Be Difficult

There has been a flux of buyers offering to pay for homes in cash over the recent years in America. For home sellers a cash buyer means a faster selling process because there is no waiting around for banks to approve loans. Not all buyers with large sums of cash in hand are created equal. Some of these buyers can become demanding.

Home buyers with large sums of cash know they have an advantage over buyers who need to get a conventional mortgage and begin to believe that this should give them entitlement to certain things even in a market with low inventory or a seller’s market.

Requests made by these buyers when they put on offer on a home can become outrageous pretty quickly. They may ask for home owners to rip out perfectly good cabinets at their expense because they don’t meet the taste and style expectations they have for the home. Some cash buyers have asked owners to throw in expensive and beloved pieces of furniture with the home at no extra cost. It is not uncommon for these buyers to want home owners to make over the home to their styling before they close the deal.

In other cases entitled buyers with money in their pocket have thrown a wrench in the offer by asking the home owner to vacate the property in a shorter period of time than a standard contract not being understanding that it takes time to find a new place to live and move all of their belongings out of the home.  

Many times when cash buyers become arrogant and demanding the deal can turn stressful and sour and even become war-like.  Unfortunately in places where cash buyers are more common, like New York namely the Upper East Side, home owners have come to balk at an all cash offer because of the horror stories that surround them.  

There is a way to sell your home to a cash buyer without being subject to out of control demands. Sell to a home investor. Investors buy properties with cash not expecting anything from the buyer but to sign the documents. There is no expectation on the home owner to fix up a home or suddenly be surprised by a request to pay more in closing costs than was originally negotiated.

Reputable and trustworthy cash buyers will be open and honest about their home buying process because they want to make things as hassle and stress free as possible for both parties involved in the buying/selling process. They want to help the home owner move forward with their life not seek what they can get the home owner to do for them.

Thank you to our guest post for VisionRealty.com, BuyHomesinPalmDesert.com and LongIslandCashHomeBuyer.com for their contribution to our blog.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tax Mistakes Easy for New Homeowners to Make

It’s the time of year that few people look forward to, unless you are a certified public accountant. That’s right! Its tax season. For most people taxes are stressful and confusing especially if you file your taxes without the help of a professional.

If you purchased a new home last year tax season can be a bit more overwhelming than before with all the new forms to fill out. More forms can lead to more confusion and a greater chance to make a mistake. There is good news if you purchased a home recently as you are eligible for more tax breaks than someone who rents a home.

Here are five common mistakes made by new home owners when filing a tax return. Avoid these mistakes and tax season will be a lot less stressful, but before we get started please note we are not tax professionals and this is unofficial advice, all official tax advice should be discussed with a certified public accountant.

Not Tracking Home Expenses

If you purchased a home in need of repair, hopefully you have kept a detailed log of the improvements you have made to your home and how much everything has cost. If you haven’t kept a log now is the time to start. Some home improvements, for example installing energy efficient fixtures, might just get you a tax deduction. If some of the improvements made don’t earn you a deduction now, they might be beneficial upon selling the home.

With the home sale tax exemption, home improvements increase basis in your home and lower the taxable amount on the sale price. The home sale exemption will save you money only if you have the receipts and records to prove you made the improvements to your home.

Using Home Office Deduction Wrong

The home office deduction is complicated and can grab the attention of the IRS leading to an audit.
The best way to avoid mistakes with this deduction is by hiring a tax professional or use the new simplified home office deduction. The new simplified deduction allows you to skip complicated details like calculating space which is needed with the original home office deduction.

Filing For the Wrong Year

It is easy to get dates mixed up when filing taxes. When you file in 2015 you are actually filing for finances that occurred in the year 2014. Be careful not to get dates mixed up. Anything that happened in January to present date in 2015 will be filed on next year’s claim. If you choose the wrong year you may end up with incorrect amounts leading to an audit.

Deducting Entire Escrow Balance

Not all of the funds in escrow are used to pay taxes, so if you have been putting money into escrow be careful not to just deduct the whole escrow balance. Always contact your escrow account manager to find the exact amount of escrow that has been paid in taxes and list only that amount.

Neglecting to Itemize

If you rented a home and worked only one job you may be used to filing the simplest tax form available which is the 1040EZ. If you use this form now that you are a homeowner you could miss out on a lot of deductions. The longer tax form will enable you to take advantage of the deductions and benefits of owning a home.

As always the best way to know you are getting all of the deductions and benefits possible to get a larger tax return is to consult a tax professional. If you need some help finding a tax professional in the area Mary Pong and Associates is willing to help. Mary and her team are knowledgeable in many aspects of homeownership in Seattle and the Eastside.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Rules of the Road With Kiddos on Board

Rules for the Car (see also: How to Keep Your Kids Safe in and Around the Car)

Following are some pretty basic rules that all parents and caregivers should enforce with our younger passengers:

- A seatbelt must be worn during every trip in the vehicle. It should be fastened before the car is ever in motion and should be left on until the vehicle stops at end of the trip.

- Younger children or children with special needs, should be in a proper restraint system.

- Use ALL seatbelts which means use lap and shoulder belts that buckle as a unit or two separate belts, one lap and one shoulder. However, some have a lap belt only which is fine. Use whatever is available. Teach your kids to look for and secure every belt that's available. Also teach them to wear it properly by not tucking the belt under their armpit, even if they think it is more comfortable that way. If they do that, it makes the belt less effective in a crash.

- Never share seatbelts.

- Sit in the back seat. Kids under 13 years old should always ride in the back seat. This rule protects them from possible injury when a passenger-side air bag deploys. Explain that air bags could seriously hurt a small child because they are designed to protect a person of a much bigger size.

- Stay calm. Kids should understand the importance of being calm and of a decent volume in the back seat. If they are jumping around or yelling, it can distract the driver and put everyone at risk.

- Follow the rules in every car. Kids need to follow the rules if they are in a friend's or relative's car, even if other passengers are not following the rules. If they're asked to sit in the front seat of someone else's car, your child should nicely decline the offer and tell the driver that he or she would rather sit in the back seat.

Feel free to visit Safe Ride 4 Kids for more information

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Weighing the Pros and Cons of a High HOA Fee

Weighing the Pros and Cons of a High HOA Fee

By Jane Blanchard

A lovely home in a gated community with a community pool and tennis court — it’s a dream for many. Communities such as this have an HOA fee to cover amenities, but is a high HOA fee a good thing or a bad thing?

An HOA (Homeowner’s Association) fee is designed to help the community maintain a level of consistency in appearance, and for upkeep of the pool, playgrounds, tennis courts, and golf courses, by collecting monthly fees. The association fees collects may be run by volunteers from the association board, or a management company may be hired to oversee the property.


The HOA oversees upkeep of all the common areas, including mowing, road repair, and all the community amenities. In short, they maintain all the things you bought the home for.

You don’t have to worry about shoveling snow or cutting the grass. This means you have more free time and don’t have to worry about hiring your neighbor’s kid. Your neighborhood will also maintain a well-cared for appearance.

If neighbors have a dispute, the HOA can act as mediator. They should be able to come to an impartial, amicable solution so that you and the neighbor can continue to live in the same community without any problem.

Your property value is protected because the HOA regulates all the little things that keep your neighborhood beautiful. No trash cans will litter the curb, cars will not be parked improperly on the road overnight, and garage doors will be closed.

Your HOA may host block parties and events, which builds community spirit.


You don’t have a say in individualizing your home. Grass is mowed to a certain height, you may not be allowed to have a big dog in the yard, and only certain flowers can be planted.

The dues raise your monthly house payment, and these dues will probably go up year to year. It is hard to budget when you don’t know what the dues will be. How much home you can afford may depend on the HOA fee.

There are so many rules that it is hard to keep track of them. Repainting your home will have to be approved, your fencing has to fit certain specs, parking in the driveway may be forbidden, who you rent to has to be approved.

Special assessments may be levied without warning for big improvements, such as repaving the roads, replacing the fencing, or repairs to the pool. If you aren’t able to pay the assessment in a timely manner, they can place a lien on your home.

HOA boards may be difficult to deal with. If you have a volunteer board, they may be hard to contact or have their own agenda in settling disputes. A management company is easy to contact, but may be impersonal because they don’t live within the community.

A Homeowner’s Association can be a great thing for your community and ensure that your property maintains its value. Do your homework, and be sure you and your family agree with the rules and can live within them before signing on the dotted line.

Head to Modernize.com for more home ideas and inspiration.