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With all of the encouragement from celebrity spokespersons like Fred Thompson, Robert Wagner and Henry Winkler, there is a growing awareness of reverse mortgages.  The fact is that our population is getting older and more than 25 million homeowners meet the age requirement.

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A reverse mortgage will allow homeowners age 62 or older currently living in their home to tap into their equity. The amount available is determined by the borrower’s age, the home’s current value and current interest rates.  The loan proceeds can be received in a single, lump-sum or periodic payments.  The closing costs can be paid in cash or rolled into the loan amount.

There are no payments on a reverse mortgage but the homeowner is still responsible for property taxes, insurance, maintenance and other home costs.

When the borrower dies, moves or fails to fulfill the terms of the loan, the lender is paid from the sale of the home.  The borrower or their estate is not responsible for more than the proceeds of the sale.  However, if the proceeds are greater than the amount owed to the lender, the remainder goes to the homeowner or their heirs.

Unlike normal mortgage requirements, the borrower’s income and credit are not used to determine the amount of the loan.  The homeowner must occupy the home as their principal residence and it must be free and clear of encumbrances or have substantial equity.

Reverse mortgages are an opportunity to generate income or funds for capital expenditures but they can pose risks to homeowners.  HUD, the largest insurer of reverse mortgages, is concerned about misleading or deceptive program descriptions encouraging borrowers to obtain HUD reverse mortgages also known as the HECM (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage).  As of June 18, 2014, FHA will only insure fixed rate reverse mortgages where the homeowner is limited to a single, full draw made at closing.

A reverse mortgage, like any financial decision involving a home, is an important decision that deserves careful consideration, due diligence and expert advice.

For more information, check out The National Association of REALTORS®Field Guide to Reverse Mortgages, FAQs about HUD’s Reverse Mortgages and Reverse Mortgages – Alternative Home Equity Funding by Real Estate Center at Texas A & M.

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AUSTIN, Texas – December 20, 2012 – According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) report released today by the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR), the volume of Austin-area home sales continues to rise as November became the 18th straight month of sales volume increases and the most home sales in November since 2007.

According to the report, 1,671 single-family homes were sold in the Austin area in November 2012, which is 23 percent more than November 2011, and the total dollar volume of single-family properties sold was $455,959,086, or 35 percent higher than the same month last year.

It’s common for sellers to consider offering and buyers might find it an incentive, but a growing number of homeowners are purchasing the home warranties themselves to limit the unexpected expenses of repairs and replacements.protection.png

A home protection plan is a renewable service contract that covers the repair or replacement of many of the components in a home. Some homeowners especially like the convenience that it organizes a qualified service provider as well as the cost of the items.

There are a variety of companies that offer home warranties and the coverage may differ but the majority of things will include heating, air conditioning most built-in and some free-standing appliances, as well as other specific items. Additional specific coverage may be available for other things like pool and spa equipment.

Some investors are even placing this coverage on their rental properties to limit the amount of maintenance repairs during the year. It is a viable alternative to managing the financial risk and the stress dealing with unexpected expenses.

If you’re interested in home warranties, I’ll be happy to send you more information.

Most people have lots of things to save for but not always enough discretionary income after the family essentials have been met.college.png

A relatively small investment in a rental home can control a good home that will easily rent, generate positive cash flows and pay for itself. The borrowed funds create leverage that earn a return on the total value of the home and not just the amount of cash you have invested.

The strategy is simple. Find a slightly below average priced home that will rent well. It will appeal to a larger group of people while it’s rented and when it’s ready to be sold.

Rent the home and maintain its condition over the years. As the loan amortizes and the value increases, the equity will grow. When your student is ready to start college, you’ll actually have several options.

You can sell the property; pay the tax on the gain at the reduced capital gains rate and fund the education. Another option would be to refinance and take the proceeds to pay for the tuition. This would allow you to continue to own the asset but would free your equity and under current tax laws is a non-taxable event.

Regardless of whether you’re trying to plan for your children’s education or your own retirement, rental property offers many solid investment opportunities. Contact me if you want more information.

FHA has announced a major change to its loan program which allows borrowers to cancel the mortgage insurance premium (MIP) when their unpaid balance reaches 78% of the original purchase price. While no specific date has been set for the change, sometime in 2013, new FHA loans will require the mortgage insurance for the life of the loan.fha.jpg

At existing rates, the monthly MIP on a $168,875 mortgage is $178.99 per month. Under the current rule with normal amortization, the MIP would no longer be required in 9 years and 9 months. However, under the new rule, it would last for the entire 30 year term.

They also announced that the annual MIP will also be increased from 1.25% to 1.35% at some point in the near future. HUD, the parent agency for FHA, is making the changes to restore the capital reserves of the program that are needed to fund failed loans.

People that can close a FHA loan before the change takes place will fall under the old rules for canceling MIP and the lower rates. Since no date was announced, it is not known exactly when the changes will take effect.

While this information will probably not make the evening news, it will have a big impact on borrowers planning to use an FHA loan. Please pass it on to anyone you know who might be considering purchasing or refinancing with a FHA loan.

Conserving water to be green while lowering your monthly bill to save green is a beneficial combination. Little things can contribute significantly to a large water bill.

  • faucet.jpgLeaky faucets can waste over 1,000 gallons a year
  • Leaky toilets can waste 7,000 gallons a month
  • A five-minute shower saves more water than a tub bath
  • Water running while you brush your teeth or shave
  • Sprinkler heads need to be adjusted to spray on the yard only
  • Install a rain sensor on sprinkler system
  • Pool equipment can be a hidden source of wasted water

A larger than normal water bill can be your first indication you have a leak. Then, you’ll need to track it down.

  1. Turn off all the water faucets and appliances; don’t forget the ice maker.
  2. Open the water meter, usually located near the sidewalk in the front of the house. You may need a water key that can be purchased from a home improvement store or possibly borrowed from a neighbor.
  3. Locate the dial indicating water usage. It should not be moving since all of the water is off. If it is still moving, verify that you have turned off anything that might be using water.
  4. If it appears to be still, make a mark with a Sharpie and wait 15 minutes. If the flow indicator has moved, you probably have a leak.
  5. Now that you’ve confirmed that you have a leak, you may need help in locating it. A plumber or leak specialist may be able to help you track it down and repair it.

MORE GOOD NEWS FROM AUSTIN BOARD OF REALTORS –

October 2012 Statistics

  • 1,960 – Single-family homes sold, 37 percent more than October 2011.
  • $199,320 – Median price for single-family homes, five percent more than October 2011.
  • 68 – Average number of days single-family homes spent on the market, 14 days fewer than October 2011.
  • 2,245 – New single-family home listings on the market, three percent more than October 2011.
  • 6,327 – Active single-family home listings on the market, 20 percent less than October 2011.
  • 1,918 – Pending sales for single-family homes, 19 percent more than October 2011.
  • 3.4 – Months of inventory* of single-family homes, 1.6 months less than October 2011. (THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE!)
  • $543,466,840 – Total dollar volume of single-family properties sold, 51 percent more than October 2011.