April 9, 2018

Don't Be Afraid Of The Seller's Disclosure

State and federal laws are strict in requiring sellers to tell what they know about the condition of their homes that isn't obvious or discernable to potential buyers. Buyers can't see behind walls or under houses, so they rely on truthful information from the seller about the operations, appliances and systems of the home.

When you sell your home, your real estate agent will present you with a federal and/or state-mandated disclosure form called a Real Estate Disclosure Statement, Property Condition Disclosure, or Condition Report. You're required to disclose the presence of lead paint, radon, asbestos and other toxic products if you know your home has them.

While the forms may ask you to disclose whether or not you know there is lead paint or radon present, you aren't required to do tests to determine the presence of toxic chemicals. But your buyer's lender can always require proof of tests and/or remediation for any problem that has been disclosed, such as fire and water damage.

It's important to answer every question as truthfully as you can. You must answer the questions yourself - your real estate professional cannot fill out the disclosure for you, but he or she can help you understand what's being asked of you. If you're in doubt about what to disclose, such as a repair, it's best to err on the side of too much information than not enough.

While disclosure forms allow you to check the "I don't know" box, you should only do so if you truly don't know the condition of that item. If you answer that you don't know the condition of an appliance you use daily, such as a sink or bathtub, you might raise suspicions in the buyer.

The best way to feel confident about the condition of your home is to have it inspected by a licensed professional home inspector. Your real estate professional can recommend someone or provide you with a list. For a few hundred dollars and a few hours of your time, you'll either find that your home is market-ready, or the inspector will bring a problem to your attention that you can fix.

 

When you disclose a problem to the buyer that has previously been fixed, be sure to provide a copy of work orders, receipts, and invoices. If the problem hasn't been fixed, expect the buyer to either ask you to fix it, or to offer a little less for the home.

Remember, the more that are left unrepaired, the more the buyer will discount the offer if he makes one at all. Homes in the best condition sell the best.

The seller's disclosure is designed to do one thing -- hold you and your real estate agent harmless if you've disclosed the truth about your property. You don't want to give the buyer any room for complaint or litigation after the closing.

To get an idea of the types of questions you'll be asked in a disclosure, you can find legal forms at FindLegalForms.com.

So, don't be afraid of the seller's disclosure. It's not meant to be a deal-killer, but a deal-maker. Many agents provide a copy of the disclosure to interested buyers, so they can get an idea of the home's condition before they make an offer or have an inspection.

Posted in Buying
April 9, 2018

Black Stainless Steel: Is It The Next Big Thing?

  

 

Stainless steel has ruled the appliance world for many years, with no serious contenders on its heels. But now, here comes black stainless steel, fighting for dominance in the kitchen.

Like any new finish, we won't know if it has true staying power until some time has passed. But if you're looking for the newest thing, if you know you're going to be in your home for a while, or if you're getting it ready to sell, black stainless is a great choice.

 

But first, what exactly is black stainless steel? "What major appliance manufacturers, such as LG, KitchenAid and Kenmore, are trumpeting as ‘black stainless' is essentially traditional stainless steel coated in a sleek, dark finish," said the Washington Post. "The actual hue varies by brand."

If you're thinking about incorporating the look into your kitchen, here are a few things to consider.

It's sexy

Expect to hear some "oohs" and "ahhs" when people walk into your kitchen. Black stainless steel has that sleek look that gets attention, so if you're hoping to create a show stopping space, it may be an easy choice.

It's trending

But, in this case, that might not be a bad thing. While design experts warn clients against chasing trends, black stainless steel offers a way to be on the forefront of one.

"According to home improvement expert Karl Champley, whose job includes traveling the world looking for the latest design trends, the move toward darker appliance finishes started in Europe and is slowly making its way westward," said the Washington Post. "Champley, winner of ‘Ellen's Design Challenge' and a spokesman for the National Kitchen and Bath Association, says that although black stainless won't dethrone classic stainless in the U.S. market any time soon, that doesn't mean homeowners shouldn't consider it now. "It looks fantastic," he said. "It's going to be quite a few more years before it goes mainstream, and you're already ahead of the game."

It gives off an inviting, high-end feel

Black stainless steel is an easy way to make your space look upscale while also creating a warmer feel. "Since black stainless steel appliances debuted several years ago, they've been touted as a warmer alternative to the industrial look of regular stainless," said Consumer Reports.

It resists fingerprints

For many people, this is the No. 1 selling feature. Traditional stainless steel is great, but it's always smudged (in our house, anyway). "Manufacturers say that their black stainless steel appliances resist smudges and fingerprints and that cleaning is easier," said Consumer Reports. Nancy Bock, senior vice president of education for the American Cleaning Institute, told them, "Black stainless doesn't require any special polishes to keep it looking good. Cleaning is generally simple and can be accomplished using warm water and a soft cloth."

The difference is a fingerprint-resistant finish that also resists water spots and streaking. But...

It scratches

No more and no less than how traditional stainless steel scratches, but still. Keep in mind that in busy households with kids and animals, it might be hard to keep a scratch-free surface forever.

Selection is still somewhat limited

As with any newer finish, manufacturers have not yet rolled out a ton of options - at least not when compared to traditional stainless steel. That being said, you will find options from SamsungLGKitchenAidKenmoreFrigidaire, and Bosch, which just introduced its first kitchen suite in black stainless.

Posted in Home Improvement
Dec. 31, 2017

How the Final GOP Tax Bill Will Affect Real Estate Investors

Almost all of these changes begin on January 1, 2018, and revert in 2025.

What’s Changed

Tax Brackets

  • 10% Tax Bracket
    • MFJ: $0 – $19,050
    • Single: $0 – $9,525
  • 12% Tax Bracket
    • MFJ: $19,051 – $77,400
    • Single: $9,526 – $38,700
  • 22% Tax Bracket
    • MFJ: $77,401 – $165,000
    • Single: $38,701 – $82,500
  • 24% Tax Bracket
    • MFJ: $165,001 – $315,000
    • Single: $82,501 – $157,500
  • 32% Tax Bracket
    • MFJ: $315,001 – $400,000
    • Single: $157,501 – $200,000
  • 35% Tax Bracket
    • MFJ: $400,001 – $600,000
    • Single: $200,001 – $500,000
  • 37% Tax Bracket
    • MFJ: $600,000+
    • Single: $500,000+

Itemized Deductions

Mortgage interest is now only deductible on the first $750,000 of acquisition debt on primary and secondary residences. There is a grandfather clause that allows all previously purchased residences to continue deducting their interest on up to $1,000,000 of debt.

Interest on home equity debt is no longer deductible unless the proceeds are used in a trade or business acquisition or to improve rentals. Home equity debt includes refinances on your primary or secondary residences as well as HELOCs.

State and local taxes are now limited to an aggregate $10,000 deduction. This includes state income and property taxes. Folks living in high-income, high-property-tax states, like California, New Jersey, and New York, will be negatively affected. If your state income tax is $12,000 and your state property tax is $8,000, you only get a maximum deduction of $10,000, even though your state and local taxes amount to $20,000 total.

Miscellaneous itemized deductions have been eliminated. This means that you can no longer deduct unreimbursed employee expenses and tax preparation fees (that are not allocated to prepping schedule C and E.

Medical expenses will be easier to claim as the 10% floor has been reduced to 7.5% of AGI. So if your AGI is $100,000, previously you had to incur at least $10,000 of medical expenses before they became deductible. Now you only have to incur $7,500.

Note: these deductions do not limit the ability to claim expenses on rental property. These changes are related to your itemized deductions (Schedule A).

Standard Deduction and Personal Exemptions

The standard deduction will now be $12,000 for those filing single and $24,000 for those who are married and filing jointly. Personal exemptions have been eliminated.

Previously, a family of five would get a standard deduction of $12,700, and total personal exemptions of $20,250. Combined, this family received a total deduction of $32,950. Now their total deduction is only $24,000.

Child Tax Credit

To avoid mutiny from the above family of five above, the GOP has made changes to the child tax credit. The credit will increase from $1,000 to $2,000 per qualifying child. The refundable credit will increase to $1,400.

The income phaseouts have increased to $200,000 if single and $400,000 if married filing joint.

529 Plans

If you’ve read my prior articles, you likely know my stance on 529 plans. With the passing of this bill, I dislike them a little less.

You can now use 529 plans to pay for private, public, and religious elementary and secondary schools, plus qualified education expenses.

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)

Unfortunately for high-income earners and their tax preparers, the AMT is still in existence. The good news is that the exemption amounts have increased to $109,400 for married filing joint and $70,300 for all other taxpayers. Additionally, the phaseout thresholds are increased to $1,000,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return, and $500,000 for all other taxpayers (other than estates and trusts). These amounts are indexed for inflation.

Obamacare Penalty Eliminated

The penalty for not having healthcare has been eliminated beginning in 2019. Healthy millennials who don’t want/need health insurance are high-fiving. Their parents are upset that their premiums will likely increase in 2019.

Pass-Through Deduction

A new “freebie” deduction has been granted to sole proprietors, LLCs, and S corps generating qualified business income. If you are a partner in a business, you will receive the deduction based on your allocable ownership.

The deduction appears to be on an aggregated basis for rental properties but on a business-by-business basis for businesses.

The deduction is the sum of:

  • The lesser of:
    • Combined Qualified Business Income, or
    • 20% of the excess of the taxable income divided by the sum of any net capital gain
  • And the lesser of:
    • 20% of the aggregate amount of the qualified cooperative dividends of the taxpayer, or
    • taxable income reduced by the net capital gain

In order to figure the above, we must know what combined qualified business income is.

Combined qualified business income is the lesser of:

  • 20% of the qualified business income with respect to the qualified trade or business; or
  • The greater of:
    • 50% of the W-2 wages with respect to the qualified trade or business, or
    • The sum of 25% of the W-2 wages with respect to the qualified trade or business, plus 2.5% of the unadjusted basis immediately after acquisition of all qualified property

Let’s assume that you don’t have any capital gain or qualified cooperative dividends. We’ll also assume you own a rental property you purchased for $120,000, of which $100,000 was allocated to the building and $20,000 was allocated to the land. Furthermore, let’s assume that your rental property generated $5,000 in net taxable income after depreciation and amortization.

Your deduction calculation will be the lesser of:

  • 20% of the qualified business income ($1,000; figured by multiplying $5,000 by 20%); or
  • The greater of:
    • 50% of the W-2 wages ($0; you didn’t pay yourself W-2 wages); or
    • The sum of 25% of the W-2 wages ($0) plus 2.5% of the unadjusted basis immediately after acquisition of all qualified property ($2,500; figured by multiplying the unadjusted (unadjusted basis does not include land) basis of $100,000 by 2.5%).

In this example, your deduction will be the lesser of $1,000 or $2,500, so your deduction is $1,000.

This is a freebie deduction. All you have to do in order to claim it is make more money. It’s a deduction that’s figured after the calculation of your AGI though, so it’s being referred to as a “below the line” deduction.

There is another twist though. If your total taxable income is less than $157,500 (if single) or $315,000 (if married filing jointly), then you are excluded from the having to go through the wage and basis calculation. Instead, you will automatically qualify for a 20% deduction on your combined qualified business income.

Service businesses will not receive a deduction at all unless the taxpayers who own the service businesses fall below the $157,500 (if single) and $315,000 (if married filing jointly). If they can accomplish this, then they too will qualify for the 20% deduction.

Per the new law, service businesses are “any trade or business where the principal asset is the reputation or skill,” except for engineers and architects.

I was sad when I read this because, you know, I run a service business. Maybe our lawmakers know that CPAs will game the system as much as possible, and they just wanted to make it harder for us.

C corporation Rates

If you own a C corporation, you will now see a flat tax of 21%. This is great for C corporations that have large amounts of net income. Generally, though, the majority of BiggerPockets readers will not be directly affected.

Will you be indirectly affected via trickle-down economics? Who knows.

Bonus Depreciation

The new law increases bonus depreciation from 50% to 100% for assets with useful lives of less than 20 years. What does that mean, exactly?

If you buy personal property (carpet, appliances, tools, equipment, etc) or if you make land improvements (landscaping, driveways, parking, etc) you can now immediately write off the entire cost of these assets.

You cannot write off the cost of buying a rental property and the property’s key components because they have useful lives of 27.5 years.

It is important to note that this is bonus depreciation. That means that when you sell the assets, you will pay depreciation recapture tax. Keep that in mind.

Bonus depreciation is retroactive to start in September 2017. So if you are making any year-end purchases/improvements, they will be 100% written off.

Lifetime Gift Exclusion

Every year, you are allowed to gift another person $14,000 without having to fill out a gift-tax form. If you gift any one person over $14,000, you must fill out a gift tax form that then reduces your lifetime gift exclusion.

That lifetime exclusion has been increased to $10,000,000 and will be indexed for inflation. This is on a per-person basis and will reduce the number of estates subject to federal estate taxes.

Rehabilitation Tax Credit

The rehabilitation tax credit has been reduced in scope.

1031 Exchanges

1031 exchanges allow you to exchange like-kind property and roll your gain forward without having to pay tax.

The new rules modified 1031 exchanges to include only real property. The intention was to eliminate exchanges of vehicles, planes, and equipment. But will it affect people who need to 1031 a building that has undergone a cost segregation study? After all, the point of a cost segregation study is to identify personal property assets.

Frankly, we’re not yet sure.

Domestic Production Activity Deduction (DPAD)

DPAD has been eliminated. This will negatively affect flippers, developers, and builders.

What Didn’t Change

Section 121 Exclusion

This is commonly referred to as the $250,000 ($500,000 if married) exclusion on gain from the sale of a qualified residence. In order to claim the exclusion, you must have lived in the property for the past two of five years.

Earlier renditions of this bill had proposed making the exclusion harder to claim. They had modified the rules to make you live in the property for the past five of eight years, and they included a phase-out for high-income earners.

I’m happy to report that there was no change here. You can now sleep stress-free.

Depreciation

The Senate had proposed moving the useful life of both residential and commercial property to 25 years. This would have been a huge boon to owners of commercial property, as the useful life is currently 39 years.

But this did not make it into the final bill.

Rental income being subject to SE tax

Rental income is still taxed as it is currently. No self-employment taxes.

What Should You Do Before Year-End?

Pre-Pay 2018 State Property Tax

Everyone should look at pre-paying their 2018 state property tax bill by the end of the year. If you are subject to AMT, you should factor that into your consideration as to whether or not you should pre-pay.

The reason we want to pre-pay state property tax bills is due to the $10,000 aggregate limit on all state and local taxes beginning in 2018. So we shift property taxes from 2018 to 2017 where we can deduct them.

This does not apply to state income taxes. There is a provision in the bill that specifically disallows pre-payment of 2018 state income taxes.

Pay Your Q4 2017 State Income Tax

Though we can’t pre-pay 2018 state income taxes, we can pay our Q4 2017 state income tax bill by the end of this year. Instead of waiting until April 15th, 2018 to pay your 2017 state income tax bill, cut a check to the state by the end of the year. That will allow you to deduct the taxes in 2017 as itemized deductions rather than deducting them in 2018, which will make them subject to the $10,000 aggregate limit.

Defer Income

Next year, you will most likely see tax savings. If you have control over your income, push revenue into January 2018.

Accelerate Expenses

Because you will most likely see tax savings next year, go ahead and pre-pay for expenses before the end of the year to reduce your 2017 tax bill. You can pre-pay for trips, conferences, membership dues, and subscriptions. You can also buy tools, equipment, and make repairs before the end of 2017. All of these acts will move more expenses into 2017 and will reduce your 2017 tax bill.

The caveat is that if you consistently have passive losses and cannot claim them due to the passive loss rules, pre-paying won’t help.

by  | BiggerPockets

Posted in Financial
Nov. 10, 2014

I75 and University Intersection

The diverging diamond interchange on I-75 and University Parkway in Sarasota and Manatee Counties will be the first in the state of Florida. 

Posted in Neighborhood
Oct. 1, 2014

Credit scoring changes may help you get a loan!

Sarasota Real Estate SarasotaLiving.comHave major medical debts kept you from securing a mortgage? Have you found the terms of loans you're able to qualify for too expensive? All of that might change soon due to an upgrade to the FICO credit scoring system. The new score is called FICO 9, and it aims to provide assistance to millions of Americans who have found themselves hit by major medical debt and cross-agency reporting problems. Here are the highlights about the FICO 9 score:

 

A more refined look at debt collection:

With FICO 9, your credit score will be calculated considering medical versus non-medical collection agencies. Debts in collection due to medical bills will be treated differently than non-medical debt in collection. According to FICO, because of this change "the median FICO Score for consumers whose only major derogatory references are unpaid medical debts is expected to increase by 25 points."

Better scoring consistency:

Errors in debt reporting and credit scoring across agencies have shut some buyers out of securing a mortgage. With FICO 9, the company is promising the highest degree of consistency in scoring.

How FICO 9 may impact your mortgage rate:

Keith Gumbinger, vice president of HSH.com had this to say in a recent Market Trends newsletter: "A borrower today with a FICO score in the 660 to 679 range and a 10 percent down payment would have to pay a fee of 2.25 percent to get access to today's best mortgage rates (about 4.125 percent for a conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage give or take a little). Since that fee might be hard to pay out of pocket, many borrowers decide to incorporate that fee into the interest rate, which would then climb to perhaps 4.625 percent without the fee. But if the borrower had a credit score of 680 to 699, and that same borrower would see a fee of only 1.25 percent and a corresponding fee-included rate of 4.375 percent or so."

Not all lenders will use FICO 9:

One thing to be aware of when applying for a loan is the possibility that certain institutions may not be using FICO 9 yet. For those lenders who use earlier versions of the FICO score or other types of credit scores, you may not benefit from the changes to FICO's scoring system.

Overall, this is good news for a lot of potential buyers. Hopefully the changes in scoring will open up the dream of home ownership to millions.

Thinking about getting pre-qualified for a mortgage? Get in touch with me today:

Rob Paul

941-312-1108

Rob@SarasotaLiving.com

 

 

Posted in Financial
Sept. 8, 2014

7 Signs a Bedroom Has Gone Bad

Sarasota Real EstateBedrooms don't come with an expiration date, but some really should. When buyers are touring a Sarasota home, a stale bedroom with outdated style can be a deal-breaker. Problematically, many sellers simply can't see their own bedrooms honestly anymore. Give your bedroom the "has it gone bad?" sniff test by checking for these common signs of stale design:

 

Your ceiling has more popcorn than the home theater: Is your ceiling a constellation of dusty, stained popcorn texture? Nothing says "state of the art 1950s design" like the popcorn ceiling. Removal can be a dirty job, and you'll want to have it checked for asbestos before you do, but getting rid of it goes a long way to modernizing the look.

 

Mirror, mirror, on the wall. And the closets. And the... ceiling? A little reflected light makes a bedroom look bigger, but if you're rocking the fun house / journey-into-infinity effect, consider removing some of those reflective surfaces.

 

Frills, frills everywhere. Check those bed skirts, window dressings, and curtains. Could a Civil War-era southern belle scratch together a formal dress from your assortment of puffy fabrics? Tone it down.

 

Sorry, captain, the pattern is... retro. Check the paper in your drawers, the shelves of your armoire, and the paper on the walls. Does it feel like felt? Is it yellow like a pirate map? Does it remind you of an 80s prom? Any (or all!) of these are signs you need to update.

 

Prison ward pillows. Wow, that bed looks... really, really flat. You sleep like that? Clean lines are one thing, an uncomfy bedroom is another. Puff it up and make it cozy.

 

Formica anything. Does your dresser look like it would make a nice kitchen island in the 1970s? Spring for some staging furniture and replace that laminate wonderland.

 

But I've had that alarm clock / television / stereo for 30 years! Yes, and it shows. Nix the flip-digit clocks, the wood grain television cabinets, and the neon-striped boom boxes. Modernize or put them in storage, stat.

 

Yes, buyers can modernize a bedroom when they buy the house, but expecting them to see past your bedroom's past is taking a gamble. Do a few simple things to freshen up that room! 

 

Need someone to evaluate your interior appeal? I'm happy to share my candid thoughts and guide you towards maximizing your home's appeal: Rob Paul 941-312-1108 Rob@SarasotaLiving.com Berkshire Hathaway Florida Realty

Posted in Home Improvement
Aug. 30, 2014

How to Use Twitter for Hyperlocal News

Hyerlocal Sarasota News from YTwitterWith all of the social media websites and mobile apps out there today, you might find yourself looking to cut back or even use certain social sites for specific functions. While Facebook might be great for keeping in touch with family and friends scattered across the country, and Pinterest might be ideal for "scrap-booking" ideas for your next home, what in the world should you use Twitter for?

 

If the idea of "tweeting" messages out in 140 characters seems like a waste of time, perhaps you should consider Twitter in a new light. What Twitter excels at is breaking news, especially hyperlocal breaking news.

 

Hyperlocal is a term which simple means "very close" to you or your neighborhood. While a wildfire two states away might not be of concern to you, a four-alarm disaster in your neighborhood can suddenly be a real priority.

 

You don't have to tweet to make use of Twitter. In fact, one of the best ways to use Twitter is simply as an "awareness" tool for your immediate area. Many people don't realize that a variety of services and businesses break news daily via short Tweets with links to more information.

 

Here are some common categories you're likely to find if you search Twitter for tweets and accounts near you:

 

- Fire / Police / EMS / local radio scanners

- Public utilities (including power and water... great for getting updates on outages)

- Local transit (trains, busses, taxis)

- Local government and civic notices

- Sports stadiums (traffic advisories, event information)

- Local news stations (learn what's going on between regular broadcasts)

- Neighborhood blogs (very popular in cities)

- Neighborhood businesses (often advertise specials, events, and "Twitter only" freebies)

- Your actual neighbors!

 

You'd be surprised how useful Twitter can be when you think of it in terms of a breaking news delivery platform. Give it a try today. Who knows, you may even find yourself becoming a local news source yourself!

 

Ready to start reading hyperlocal tweets? Start by following me on Twitter! Follow my account, SarasotaLiving @RobPaulHomes today.

 

Posted in Technology
Aug. 25, 2014

Try Carousel Photo Sharing on Dropbox

Carousel for Sarasota Real EstateDropbox is one of the most powerful and useful cloud data storage services available. It's a great way to use files across computers, backup important files, and share media with friends. As Dropbox has become a convenient home for files, the company has recently expanded the number of features it offers as well.

Now Dropbox has launched Carousel, a mobile app which is focused on backing up and sharing your photos. Available for both iPhone and Android devices, the app syncs to your Dropbox Camera Uploads folder.

According to this extensive hands-on review of Carousel:

"...if you're already a Dropbox user, redundantly backing up images is never a bad idea, and you have nothing to lose with the Dropbox utility. Carousel, in this case, just makes everything easier to see, find, and share."

(Source http://thenextweb.com/creativity/2014/04/10/hands-dropbox-carousel/)

It's a handy app to share if you're looking for ways to safely store and share family photos as well as scrapbooks of "dream home" ideas or interior decorating inspiration. Because it's connected to your mobile device, it's super easy to synchronize your photos-on-the-go to Dropbox' cloud-based servers.

Check out the full review here:?http://thenextweb.com/creativity/2014/04/10/hands-dropbox-carousel/

Dropbox's dedicated site for Carousel is here:?https://www.carousel.com/

The app can be downloaded for iPhone and Android here:?

iPhone: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/carousel-by-dropbox/id825931374?mt=8?

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dropbox.carousel

I love experimenting with mobile tech that can make the lives of my clients easier and more fun. If you'd like more tips, be sure to contact me and let me know you'd like to be on my newsletter today:

Rob Paul

Berkshire Hathaway Florida Realty

941-312-1108

Rob@SarasotaLiving.com 

 

Posted in Technology
Aug. 25, 2014

What's a Walkability Score?

Sarasota Real Estate Walkability ScoreWalk Score is a company which "analyzes hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities. Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities in each category. Amenities within a 5 minute walk (.25 miles) are given maximum points. A decay function is used to give points to more distant amenities, with no points given after a 30 minute walk." 

 

Additionally, Walk Score looks at pedestrian friendliness, a component which takes into account population density, block length, and intersection density. (Source: http://www.walkscore.com/methodology.shtml).

 

Rankings are based on a 0 - 100 scale. Here's how the scores translate to an area's walkability:

 

90 - 100: Walker's Paradise. Daily errands do not require a car.

70 - 89: Very Walkable. Most errands can be accomplished on foot.

50 - 69: Somewhat Walkable. Some errands can be accomplished on foot.

25 - 49: Car-Dependent. Most errands require a car.

0 - 24: Car-Dependent. Almost all errands require a car.

 

In addition to a Walkability Score, Walk Score also evaluates for Transit Score (how well a location is served by public transit) and Bike Score (whether an area is good for biking). 

 

All three of these scores can help you determine your personal values when you're buying a home. They can also be useful to profile the kind of buyer who might be interested in a home you're selling. It's important to understand that a high or low walkability score is not necessarily bad. It all depends on personal values. (Someone who wouldn't walk to errands anyway might find themselves bothered by the proximity to a highly-trafficked commercial businesses, for example.)

 

If you're curious about your own home's walkability score, or you'd like to learn about the most and least walkable neighborhoods in a given city, you can search for addresses on the Walk Score website at http://www.walkscore.com/.

 

Want to see a walkability score in action? I'd be happy to show you local neighborhoods! Rob Paul 941-312-1108 Rob@SarasotaLiving.com

 

Posted in Neighborhood
March 25, 2010

Cleaning Up Credit Inaccuracies

Cleaning up credit sarasotaDiscovering an error on your credit history can be a rude surprise when you're attempting to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Though most people don't think about the details of their credit report until the need to secure a loan, it's a good idea to check your report for inaccuracies periodically.

 

If you do find an error, the best way to attempt a correction is through a dispute letter. Dispute letters allow you to formally request a fix by the reporting agency. Though it may take a little time to get the errors removed, cleaning up these mistakes can have a direct (and favorable!) effect on your credit score, helping you secure lower interest rates and better terms.

 

Here's what you'll need to include for each mistake you find:

1. Which account shows the mistake.

 2. Specifically what's incorrect about the account where it appears in the report.

3. What changes should be made and why those changes should be made.

4. Any supporting evidence or documentation which will bolster your claim.

For example: "On my report, the Chase Visa ending in XXXX shows my account is still active. I closed this account in 2012 and should be shown as closed, not active. Included is a letter from Chase bank, confirming the date of my the account's closure."

It's a good idea to keep copies of everything you send. Also, be sure to send the correction to all three major reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) as well as the original creditor (i.e. the credit card company, utility, etc.). You can find the current dispute mailing addresses on these company's websites. Federal law mandates that agencies must help you within 30 days. Keep records of your disputes and when/how you communicated with the agencies.

 

Getting your credit in shape is an important step to take when you're preparing to buy a home. I help buyers prepare every day! Get in touch: Rob@SarasotaLiving.com, 941-312-1108

 

 

 

 

Posted in Financial