Category Archives: Florida Real estate

New Home Checklist: 6 To-Do’s Before Settling In

A locksmith changing a door lock.

Moving into a new home is exciting–it represents a fresh start with new rooms to decorate, and a new neighbourhood to explore. However, setting up your house can also be exhausting and stressful. But don’t worry–we’ve compiled a helpful checklist of things to cross off before you settle in. And if you’re moving to a new city, your REALTOR® is a great resource for advice about tasks to take care of, who to tap for help and how tofind the best schools for your kids.

A man in a red shirt contemplates his finances.

1. Update your address and transfer utilities

Before you move in, you’ll need to update your address, which is linked to everything from your driver’s license to your health card. Be sure to inform everyone–your bank, insurance company, credit cards and loyalty programs–so you won’t miss important notices. You may also want to set up temporary mail-forwarding with Canada Post. While you’re at it, get in touch with utility companies several weeks before the move, so they can transfer and activate your electricity, gas, telephone and internet accounts over to the new place. 

A locksmith changing a door lock.

2. Change your locks and codes

Get some peace of mind–who knows how many keys to your house the previous owners gave out–by installing new deadbolts yourself for as little as $30 per lock, or calling a locksmith for about $100 for a service call. Make extra sets of keys for trusted family members or friends, in case you get locked out or need them to check the property when you’re away. Change your garage door and alarm codes, too.

A person replacing the battery in a smoke alarm.

3. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Home safety experts recommend checking your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every six months, and changing the batteries then, too. Be sure there’s one on each floor of the house. Many local fire departments offer free inspections and testing, so ask your REALTOR® about this.

A family washing windows.

4. Get your home squeaky clean

Before moving all your belongings in, take some time to deep clean all the nooks and crannies, or hire a professional to do it for you for about $100. Don’t forget to get your carpets steamed–cleaning services charge about $65 an hour, or you can rent a machine for about $80 and do it yourself. This is also a great time to put on a fresh coat of paint throughout the house and get rid of an lingering pet smells.

5. Get to know your new home’s systems

Becoming a homeowner means understanding how everything works so you can maintain your investment. Know where your property’s HVAC (air conditioning and heating) system, circuit-breaker and main water shut-off valves are located, plus how to turn them on and off in an emergency. It’s a good idea to get your home’s systems inspected (if your home inspector didn’t already do so). 

Pro tip: Check your water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour period during which no water is being used. If the reading changes, you likely have a leak that needs fixing.

A man taking out his garbage.

6. Make a home maintenance schedule

Your home inspection report might contain suggestions for repairs to carry out, as well as tips for when and how to perform seasonal maintenance checks to your house.  Set up a filing system for manuals and instructions, and create a to-do list you can refer to throughout the year. It’s recommended you save about 1% of your home’s purchase price each year for repairs. Since you’ll probably need the services of a plumber, electrician, exterminator or landscaper at some point, research local businesses. 

Your REALTOR® can also help you navigate the whole moving process and also recommend reputable tradespeople, so don’t hesitate to reach out so all your questions get answered as you celebrate this new chapter in your life.

Source: Realtor.ca –  Wendy Helfenbaum

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Planning to buy a snowbird retreat in Florida?

Florida’s housing market is constrained by tight inventory which is not likely to improve significantly due to several challenges cited in a new report from Florida Realtors.

Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor sees robust growth for the market with strong immigration and low unemployment in the state. Home sales are expected to gain 4% year-over-year in 2020, similar to 2019.

Last year, Florida saw an uptick in sales despite a 9% pullback from international buyers.

“It was exciting to see the almost 6% growth (5.9%) in closed single-family sales in 2019 from 2018,” O’Connor said. “Florida topped over $100 billion (total of “$101.9 billion) in volume in home sales last year, up 8.3% from 2018; for condo-townhouses, we reached $31.6 billion in volume, up 1.8% over the 2018 figure.”

But with new listings down 11.4% year-over-year for single-family homes and down 9.7% for condos, prices are set to rise around 4%, although O’Connor doesn’t see that as a problem currently.

“The median sales price still continues to rise, but looking at what the monthly mortgage payment is, that’s still a lot lower due to current historically low mortgage rates,” O’Connor said. “And that continues to drive sales and makes it a good time to buy.”

Supply side issues
The challenges to increased supply in Florida were discussed at the 2020 Florida Real Estate Trends summit during last week’s Florida Realtors Mid-Winter Business Meetings.

One of the panelists was Kristine Smale, senior vice president, Meyers Research, who says that there are three main factors restricting supply: higher construction costs, which moderated slightly in 2019 but are expected to rise again in 2020; a shortage of labor – 2019 had the largest amount of construction job postings since the Great Recession; and a lack of available, affordable land supply.

Are you looking to invest in property? If you like, we can get one of our mortgage experts to tell you exactly how much you can afford to borrow, which is the best mortgage for you or how much they could save you right now if you have an existing mortgage. Click here to get help choosing the best mortgage rate

Source: Canadian Real Estate Magazine – by Steve Randall 28 Jan 2020

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Is now a good time to buy a home in the US?

Canadian snowbirds or real estate investors considering a home purchase in the United States can be confident in the state of the market according to a new survey.

Results of a poll conducted in the fourth quarter of 2019 have been released this week by The National Association of Realtors and show that 63% of American consumers felt it is a good time to buy (33% strongly) while 74% said it is a good time to sell.

The strength of the jobs market and economic conditions are boosting sentiment.

“The mobility rate has been very low as many have opted to stay put for longer,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “However, this latest boost – Americans saying now is a good time to move – is good news. With mortgage rates low, the timing is indeed ideal for those who want to enter into homeownership and for those looking to move on to their next home.”

Older respondents (the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers) showed the highest confidence in buying conditions and higher earners ($100K+) and those in the West are more likely to feel that it’s a good time to sell.

“The Western region has seen home prices increase to the point that costs have outpaced income,” said Yun. “So, it is no wonder that those living in the West would think that now is a perfect time to place a home on the market. California especially is seeing some of the highest prices ever.”

Home prices

The NAR survey has also asked about home prices with 64% saying their believe that prices in their communities have increased in the past 12 months.

More respondents expect local home prices to rise in the next 6 months (48% said so) than those that expect them to stay the same (41%) or decrease (11%).

On the economy, 52% believe it is improving although this falls to 47% among millennials and 41% of those living in urban areas (66% among those in rural areas).

“Whether it is a reflection of politics or true economic conditions, there is a difference of views between rural and urban areas,” added Yun.
Source: Real Estate Professional – by Steve Randall 10th January, 2020

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How to Buy a Second Home (Hint: It Won’t Be Like Your First)

As a home buyer, you braved the real estate buying circus when you bought your first home, and you have a great place to show for it. You’ve trudged through the open houses, experienced exactly how stressful closing can be, and dealt with legions of moving trucks. And still, a part of you wants something more: an escape in the mountains, a beach cottage, or a pied-à-terre in the city. You want to buy a second home.

With current mortgage rates at a historic low, you might be tempted to jump in. But beware; buying real estate as an investment property or second home won’t be the same as your first-time home-buying experience. Here are some differences and advice to keep in mind.

First things first: Can you afford to buy a second home?

If you scored a sweet deal on a mortgage for your primary residence, don’t expect lenders to give you the same offer twice.

“Second-home loans generally require more down payment and a better credit score than owner-occupied home loans,” says John Lazenby, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

You may have to pay a higher interest rate on a vacation home mortgage than you would for the mortgage on a home you live in year-round, and lenders may look closely at your debt-to-income ratio. Expect a lender to scrutinize your finances more than when buying a single-family primary residence.

“Lenders look carefully to ensure that second-home buyers are financially capable of paying two mortgages,” Lazenby says.

Make sure to review your budget with a second mortgage payment in mind, and make adjustments if necessary after you know what interest rate you will receive. And make sure you can afford the real estate down payment—a healthy emergency fund and cash reserves are essential if an accident or job loss forces you to float two mortgages at once.

Evaluate your goals

Understand exactly how you plan to use the property before you sign on the dotted line.

“Buyers should consider their stage of life and that of their children to ensure they are going to actually use the home for the amount of time that they’re envisioning,” Lazenby says. “A family with young children may find that their use of a second home declines as the kids grow older and become immersed in sports.”

If you’re certain you’ll get enough use and enjoyment out of your new purchase, go for it—but make sure to carefully consider the market.

For most homeowners, a second home shouldn’t be a fixer-upper. Look for homes in high-value areas that will appreciate over time without having to sacrifice every weekend to laborious renovations on your “vacation home.”

Buying in an unfamiliar area? Take a few weekend trips to make sure it’s the right spot for you. In the long term, you’ll want it to be a good investment property, as well as a place to play. Pay close attention to travel times, amenities, and restaurant and recreation availability, otherwise you might spend more time grousing than skiing and sipping wine. And make sure to choose a knowledgeable local real estate agent who will know the local real estate comps and any area idiosyncrasies.

Understand your taxes

You may be familiar with a bevy of home credits and tax breaks for your first home, but not all of them apply to your second.

For instance: You might be planning on using your new home as a vacation rental when you’re out of the area. If that’s the case, you need to calculate the return on your investment property purchase price that you can expect over the course of a year. How much can you charge per night or per week for your rental property? How many weeks will you rent out the property? And what expenses will you incur?

“Property tax rules and possible deductions for second homes used as rentals are complicated and vary widely, depending on both the number of days per year that the owner occupies the home and the owner’s personal income level,” says Lazenby.

vacation home offers more flexibility to buy based on your potential property tax burden—for instance, if you’re looking to buy in an area of high real estate taxes, consider widening your real estate search to another county, which can save you thousands of dollars. Your real estate agent should be able to help you find property you as a buyer can afford.

Lazenby recommends consulting with a tax professional about tax implications, especially if you’re planning on renting out the house.

A vacation home you use part time and also rent out may be considered rental property for tax purposes, depending on personal-use days as the homeowner, and the number of days you rent it out. If you rent out the vacation property for more than 14 days in a year, you must report the rental income on Schedule E of your individual tax return, and you can deduct the rental portion of expenses such as mortgage interest and property taxes. However, renting out your home as a short-term vacation home for 14 days or less in the year means you cannot deduct rental expenses, but the income from your renters is tax-free.

Jamie Wiebe writes about home design and real estate for realtor.com. She has previously written for House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Real Simple, Veranda, and more.
Source: Realtor.com –  | Aug 28, 2019
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Is investing in Canadian real estate still viable?

When a series of tax and mortgage rules was introduced in Canada in 2016 to prevent a housing market bubble, activity slowed down significantly in the years that followed. Given the current circumstances, is it still viable to invest in property?

In a think piece in Macleans, market watcher Romana King said even with fears of a global recession, real estate is still a smart way to invest.

“For investors, the key to making strategically smart decisions is to consider the underlying economic factors that impact your investment,” she said.

King said the housing market could climb out of negative growth forecasts this year. Citing figures from the Canadian Real Estate Association, she said the national sales activity was on target to increase by 5% in 2019 and could expand further by 7.5% in 2020.

“Canada boasts strong population growth, and government budgetary decisions are acting as stimulants for the national housing market, all of which point to a healthy future for Canada’s real estate market,” she said.

Investing in real estate, however, is not without risks. For investors, it is crucial to know some strategies to lessen the potential risks, King said. The first is to be aware of additional debt. Investors must keep an eye on their credit scores and pay bills on time.

“Most investors will require a mortgage to purchase rental real estate. This can alter your debt ratios, which can impact whether or not you get the best mortgage or loan rates. Talk to an advisor before applying for new credit or renewing a current loan,” King said.

Another must-have strategy is budgeting. King said investors need to control how much they spend on maintenance and repairs to ensure that their rental properties are cash-flow positive.

“An investor needs to budget for a contingency fund. If the anticipated monthly rent covers all monthly expenses, including a repair fund, then the property is cash-flow positive, which is fundamental for a good investment,” she said.

Getting insurance could also mitigate the risks of catastrophic events.

“Virtually all insurance policies will cover a catastrophic loss of a building, but as a real estate investor, you must also consider the loss of income due to damage or destruction. A comprehensive rental policy will provide a landlord with income to replace lost rent at fair market value,” she said.

Overall, investors need to treat real estate investing as a business. Citing Edmonton-based investor Jim Yih, King said the key to successful real estate investing is positive cash flow, and not just the purchase price and the potential sale price.

Source; Canadian Real Estate Magazine – by Gerv Tacadena 12 Nov 2019
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    How to Choose an Out-of-State Market for Investment (in 3 Easy Steps!)

    Aerial view of of a residential neighborhood in Hawthorne, in Los Angeles, CA
    You’ve decided, for whatever reason, that you want to invest outside of your local area or state. Your next question is—where should I invest?

     

    I’m going to offer you a list of things that you can consider when trying to figure out what market to invest in. These things are in no particular order, and some of them may not apply to you or your particular situation. My intention with each one is to give you something to think about and hopefully some ideas on where and how to start looking for a market that suits your investment needs.

    Here we go!

    Step #1: Narrow Down Your Market Options

    First, if you are brand new to out-of-state investing and don’t have a clue where to start, your location choices are likely going to feel extremely overwhelming. I have two things for you to think about that will hopefully at least get you moving in some kind of direction.

    Where do you have friends and family?

    Are there any cities where you have friends or family who might be good assets to have on your “team” on the ground? I’m not necessarily saying go into business with your friends or family or make them an official part of the team. But if you already have ties to any particular cities, maybe take a little time to decide if any of those cities might be good ones to get started.

    Even if your friends or family there aren’t part of your team, they may be able to occasionally drive by your property once you own it and tell you if anything crazy seems to be going on. It never hurts to have an extra set of trustworthy eyes on an investment property!

    Where are other investors buying?

    Thanks to technology and the internet (and websites like BiggerPockets!), you can easily and quickly network with other out-of-state investors. Ask people which markets they are buying in, and if they seem friendly and interested in chatting more, find out why they are buying in those markets.

    Don’t struggle to reinvent the wheel when experienced investors are already out there succeeding with out-of-state properties. I did secretly throw a keyword in there—experienced. Don’t take just anyone’s word for what they claim to be a good city to invest in. But remember, you’re just trying to get a list started. You can dig into details later as you go along.

    Start there. Make a list of the cities that come up when you consider those two things. Again, this isn’t your final list, but at least your list is much shorter now than it was when it had all 19,354 U.S. cities on it as investing options.

    You may not have known you had a list of 19,354 cities on it, but if you were starting from scratch, the whole country was a possibility! That would have to be intimidating and overwhelming—and almost an impossible point to start from. Now you have a less intimidating starting point.

    Related: What Moving Out of State is Teaching Me About Remotely Managing Rentals

    Step #2: Analyze Those Markets

    So, you are looking at your list of some number of cities or major markets, and now your question is—how do I know a good city to invest in from a bad city?

    In my mind, there are only two major questions I ask to determine whether I want to invest in a particular city:

    • Do the numbers work?
    • How likely am I going to be able to sustain those numbers?

    If you don’t know what numbers I’m talking about, I’m talking about your returns. Returns (aka profits) can be generated in two major ways: cash flow and appreciation. This is at least true for rental properties.

    If you are flipping out of state, some of this will not apply to you, and there are some slightly different considerations that you’ll need to incorporate into your analyses. You’re on your own, though, for those—I’ve never flipped, so I definitely shouldn’t be the one to tell you how to rock that method out.

    Most likely, if you are wanting to invest out of state, you’re probably doing so because you want cash flow. Most of the investors who invest out of state do so because the numbers locally don’t pencil out. This is often the case in a lot of the bigger markets—Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, etc.

    businesswoman doing paperwork at office desk, working through finances, using calculator and making notes in her notebook with pen

    And while those markets don’t usually pencil out for cash flow, they are the bigger players when it comes to appreciation. So, in thinking of anyone who lives there and wants to buy out of state, it’s probably because they want cash flow. See my logic?

    Either way, let’s assume you are going after cash-flowing rental properties out of state because you can’t find cash flow locally. If that’s the case, the numbers need to work in the market you choose to invest in. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    So, let’s think about the numbers. What kind of numbers do you need to understand when it comes to cash flow?

    If you are in it for cash flow, you want to be able to determine the projected cash flow on a property. To help you do that, use the easy formulas in this article: “Rental Property Numbers so Easy You Can Calculate Them on a Napkin.”

    In addition to the equations in that article, a term you will want to be familiar with is “price-to-rent ratio.” This term compares the price of a property to how much rent it can collect. The reason these two things matter is because they will determine whether you can cash flow on the property or not.

    As you saw in those cash flow equations, you need the rental income you collect on a property to surpass the expenses of buying and owning that property in order to have positive cash flow. If the expenses of buying and owning that property are higher than the rent you can collect from the property, you’re in a negative cash flow situation and losing money (on the cash flow front at least).

    Knowing this term now, if someone asks you if you’re interested in a particular market for investing, your first question might be—how are the price-to-rent ratios there? What you’re ultimately asking here is—is there an option for cash flow in that particular city?

    For instance, I can tell you that hands-down the price-to-rent ratios in Los Angeles are not supportive of cash flow. I can tell you that the price-to-rent ratios in Indianapolis are generally favorable for cash flow. In no way does that mean every property or every location within Indianapolis will cash flow, but it does mean there is an option for it—whereas in Los Angeles, there’s really no option for cash flow.

    Now, let’s say a particular market has generally favorable price-to-rent ratios for cash flow.

    Oh wait, I just heard you ask—how do I know if a market has favorable price-to-rent ratios? Great question.

    The fastest way to find that out is to network with other investors. You can either ask other people where they are investing, which I already mentioned, or let’s say you have a family member in a particular city and you’re curious about whether or not you can cash flow there. Post in a BiggerPockets Forum and ask people if they have any knowledge of cash flow potential in said market.

    Look for people investing there, and find out the best places for cash flow there. If all of that fails, start looking up properties and running those equations I taught you, and see if you’re coming out ahead on cash flow.

    Let’s say a particular market has generally favorable price-to-rent ratios for cash flow. This is where that second question I asked comes in—how likely am I going to be able to sustain those numbers?

    The answer to this question is lengthy, so I’ll just give you one basic thought to consider for now. Is the market you are looking at a growth market or a declining market? The reason this matters is because you can project cash flow numbers until the cows come home, but if certain factors come into play with your property, you may never see a single bit of that projected cash flow materialize.

    Bad tenants, for example, can cause you to not see a penny of your projected flow because they can cost so much in expenses—IF they are even paying the rent.

    For details on growth versus declining markets, check out “How to Know If Any Given Real Estate Market is Wise to Invest in (With Real Life Examples!).”

    To help you understand the potential consequences of investing in a declining market, check out “5 Risks of Buying Rental Properties in Declining Markets.”

    Step #3: Decide on a Market

    Your list of potential markets should be even shorter now than it was when you narrowed it down from 19,354 cities to either cities you know people in or have ties to or cities other investors recommend. It should only include markets/cities where the numbers not only work but also where the numbers have good potential of sustaining themselves. (That last part is purely my own personal investment strategy preference—it’s certainly not a requirement.)

    You may have one market on your list at this point, or you may have a handful. Which one you ultimately decide on may just come down to personal preference at this point—or it may depend on your situation and your resources.

    At this point, here are a few more things you can look at.

    Budget/Capital

    You just might not have enough capital to invest in all of the good options out there. For instance, I know of some amazing deals in Baltimore and Philadelphia, but those particular deals require a minimum of $90,000 up front.

    You may not have $90,000. You might only have $20,000. Well, good news—$20,000 can get you a great cash-flowing property in other cities!

    So, for your budget, you may stay focused on one area over another. I used to work with triplexes in both Chicago and Philadelphia. At that time, you could get a good cash-flowing triplex in Philadelphia for $130,000. The triplexes in Chicago at the time were bigger and nicer, and they were around $270,000.

    The cash flow on the Chicago properties was higher, of course, but not everyone’s budget would support buying one of those triplexes. But many of those people could get one of the Philadelphia properties. So, more than anything, your available capital may further limit you on where you can invest. This isn’t always the case, but it is a consideration.

    Property Type

    This is simply a personal preference factor. For example, some markets like Philadelphia and Baltimore tend to have properties with more of an urban feel. They are often more of the row house-type of structure. Not everyone likes the urban feel, and not everyone likes adjoined buildings.

    The other option would be properties with a suburban feel that are free-standing. You can find lots of these in the Midwest. Additionally, some markets offer a lot of multifamily (MFR) options, and some markets only have single-family (SFR) options that will cash flow. So, if you prefer urban or suburban over another, and if you prefer SFR or MFR over another, those personal preferences will steer you toward particular cities and away from others.

    Related: Forget the Demographics and Focus on Researching THIS Before Investing Out-of-Area

    Look! You’re continuing to narrow down your list! Here’s how to further narrow it.

    Returns vs. Risk

    At the end of the day, some cities and property types will be more risky than others. Even if you are looking within stable growth markets and none of the areas you are looking in are majorly dangerous, some may have significantly better schools than others, etc.

    Maybe one market is slightly more in a “gentrifying” stage than another more matured market. It’s always fine to take on a little more risk, but make sure the proposed returns are high enough to justify it. Or if you are more risk-adverse, you may choose to accept slightly lower returns in exchange for staying with a less risky market and property. That’s totally fine as well.

    So, you want to have a feel for the returns versus the risk available to you in each potential market and weigh that against where you are on your own personal scale of desire. What’s more important to you: returns or playing it safer? That should help you further whittle down your list.

    Ease of Commute

    This one may be less significant than others, but it could play a role. If you have narrowed your list down to say, two markets, and those two markets are weighted pretty evenly against each other—which one is easier to get to? If a nonstop, not-too-lengthy flight is available to one and to get to the other would require a couple stops and a longer travel time (which would also probably be more expensive), go with the one you can get to easier!

    Ultimately, the most important thing about whichever market you decide on is whether or not you will lose sleep over investing there. Maybe it’s because you can’t stomach your investment property being so far out of reach, maybe it’s because the market is a little riskier, maybe you hate single family homes and really wanted a multifamily. Whatever the situation, go with what will put a smile on your face (and hopefully some cash flow in your pocket).

    marketing-strategy

    Summary

    A quick summary on the steps you can take to help you decide on a market:

    Step 1: Narrow down your market options.

    • Where do you know people?
    • Where are other people investing?

    Step 2: Analyze those market options to further narrow down your list.

    • Is it a good market to invest in?
    • Do the numbers work?
    • Will you be able to sustain the numbers?

    Step 3: Choose what you like!

    • Decide on your personal preferences and see which markets fit those.

    Then, once you have your market decided on, go shopping! Even if you only narrowed your list down to a couple of cities, that’s fine. Two cities is easier to shop in than 19,354.

    And here’s one last tidbit for you. At the very end of it, no matter how or why you chose the market(s) you did, you need to confirm one last thing. Are you ready?

    The last thing that matters is that you can form a good team in the market you choose.

    If you can’t find good team members to help you with your property, go to another market. If you don’t have a solid team as an out-of-state investor, you’ll be up that famous creek without a paddle.

    If you’ve narrowed your list down to a couple of cities you’d be willing to invest in, choose the one that offers the best team. If you’ve narrowed your list down to one city you want to invest in but then you can’t form a solid team of good people there, start over and choose a new market. You must have the team!

    There you have it! Now go market shopping.

     

     

    Source: BiggerPockets.com – By Ali Boone November 5, 2019

     

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    WATCH: Why Being Near Water Could Be the Key to Happiness, According to Research

    Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

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    Even daydreaming about traveling off to a faraway island, where the sand is warm, and the water is crystal-clear blue can give people a sense of calm. So, this should make it no surprise that actually sitting next to a pristine body of water actually does come with some pretty fantastic well-being benefits.

    According to best-selling author and marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols, merely being close to a body of water, be it sea, river, lake, or ocean, promotes mental health and happiness. And he wrote all about it in his book, Blue Mind.

    “The term ‘blue mind’ describes the mildly meditative state we fall into when near, in, on or under water,” Nichols told USA Today in 2017. “It’s the antidote to what we refer to as ‘red mind,’ which is the anxious, over-connected and over-stimulated state that defines the new normal of modern life.”

    As Nichols noted, research proves his theory that being near water can help us all achieve “an elevated and sustained happiness.”

    That elevated level of happiness happens because, according to Nichols, water helps in “lowering stress and anxiety, increasing an overall sense of well-being and happiness, a lower heart and breathing rate, and safe, better workouts. Aquatic therapists are increasingly looking to the water to help treat and manage PTSD, addiction, anxiety disorders, autism and more.”

    Perhaps this is why we are all willing to pay more for a house along the water, or a room with an ocean view.

    Moreover, being near water can increase our creativity, including our conversational abilities. But, being near water doesn’t only help us during our waking hours. It can help us in our sleep, too.

    “There is some research that says people may sleep better when they are adjacent to nature,” W. Christopher Winter, M.D., author of The Sleep Solution, told Conde Nast Traveler. “No wonder sleep machines always feature the sounds of rain, the ocean, or a flowing river.”

    And this gift of Mother Nature’s to soothe us all with a simple drop of water is precisely why Nichols believes it’s so important to protect this precious gift.

    Source: SouthernLiving.com – By Stacey Leasca July 19, 2018

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    How Much You Need to Earn to Buy a Home in America Today

    Seven years after the U.S. housing market bottomed in February 2012, the market has staged a dramatic recovery. U.S. housing prices are now about 11 percent higher than their 2006 peak, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index data.

    National Averages

    While that surge in home prices is great for homeowners, it’s made it difficult for homebuyers, particularly younger buyers in large cities where the real estate market is hottest.

    To make matters worse, rising interest rates have pushed mortgage rates higher than they’ve been in years, creating yet another obstacle for buyers. HSH.com recently compiled a list of the most- and least-affordable U.S. metro housing markets. The list incorporates median housing prices, interest, taxes and insurance payments and is ranked by the salary a homebuyer would need to afford the average home in each market.

    On a national level, the salary needed to comfortably afford a home is $61,453, according to HSH.com. That estimate is based on an average mortgage rate of 4.9 percent on a median home price of $257,600. That average home price is up 3.95 percent from a year ago. The average monthly mortgage payment is around $1,433.

    Least Affordable Markets

    Of course, some markets are much pricier than the national average. The following are the top five most expensive housing markets:

    San Jose, California

    • Median home price: $1.25 million
    • Year-over-year change: -1.5 percent
    • Monthly payment: $5,946
    • Salary required: $254,835

    San Francisco, California

    • Median home price: $952,200
    • Year-over-year change: +3.5 percent
    • Monthly payment: $4,642
    • Salary required: $198,978

    San Diego, California

    • Median home price: $626,000
    • Year-over-year change: +2.6 percent
    • Monthly payment: $3,071
    • Salary required: $131,640

    Los Angeles, California

    • Median home price: $576,100
    • Year-over-year change: +4.1 percent
    • Monthly payment: $2,873
    • Salary required: $123,156

    Boston, Massachusetts

    • Median home price: $460,300
    • Year-over-year change: +2.6 percent
    • Monthly payment: $2,491
    • Salary required: $106,789

    Most Affordable Markets

    If these numbers are enough to make the average American earner dizzy, there are also plenty of metro housing markets around the country that are much more affordable. The following are the five most affordable cities to buy a house, according to HSH.com:

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    • Median home price: $141,625
    • Year-over-year change: +4.9 percent
    • Monthly payment: $878
    • Salary required: $36,659

    Cleveland, Ohio

    • Median home price: $150,100
    • Year-over-year change: +6.9 percent
    • Monthly payment: $943
    • Salary required: $40,437

    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    • Median home price: $161,000
    • Year-over-year change: +5.3 percent
    • Monthly payment: $964
    • Salary required: $41,335

    Memphis, Tenessee

    • Median home price: $174,000
    • Year-over-year change: +4.3 percent
    • Monthly payment: $966
    • Salary required: $41,400

    Indianapolis, Indianapolis

    • Median home price: $185,200
    • Year-over-year change: +7.4 percent
    • Monthly payment: $986
    • Salary required: $42,288

    Millennials Getting Burned

    In addition to paying higher prices for homes, a recent survey by Bankrate suggests that millennials are being too hasty about jumping into the market. One in three millennials under the age of 35 own a home, but 63 percent of those young homeowners admitted to having regrets about the home they purchased.

    The biggest source of buyer’s remorse for millennial homeowners is underestimating the amount of hidden costs associated with owning a home. Insurance costs, property taxes and closing costs can add up to between 2 and 5 percent of the total value of the home, but many buyers don’t consider these fees when shopping for homes.

    Homeowners should also set aside at least 1 percent of the value of the home each year for repairs and maintenance, according to HGTV.

    In addition to paying too much, nearly 1-in-5 (18 percent) of millennial homeowners regret not buying a larger house.

     

    Source: News Republic – March 11, 2019 

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    The 4 Key Trends Home Buyers and Sellers Should Watch in 2019

     | Nov 28, 2018

    We’re entering the home stretch of 2018, when you can actually say, “See you next year!” to someone you’ll see in just a few weeks. It’s a time to look ahead, to make new plans, to achieve new dreams.

    And if those dreams include buying your own home, you should keep an eye on the ever-changing tides of the housing market. Now, markets are like the weather: You can’t entirely predict how they will act, but you canget a sense of the forces that will push things in one direction or another.

    The realtor.com® economic research team analyzed a wealth of housing data to come up with a forecast of what 2019 might hold for home buyers and sellers—and it looks like both groups are going to be facing some challenges.

    Here are the top four takeaways. For more information, see the full realtor.com® 2019 forecast.

    1. We’ll have more homes for sale, especially luxury ones

    We’ve been chronicling the super-tight inventory of homes for sale for several years now. Yes, homes have been hitting the market, but not enough to keep up with the demand. Nationwide, inventory actually hit its lowest level in recorded history last winter, but this year it finally started to recover. We’re expecting to see that inventory growth continue into next year, but not at a blockbuster rate—less than 7%.

    While this is welcome news for buyers who’ve been sidelined, sellers must confront a new reality.

    “More inventory for sellers means it’s not going to be as easy as it has been in past years—it means they will have to think about the competition,” says Danielle Halerealtor.com‘s chief economist.

    “It’s still going to be a very good market for sellers,” she adds, “but if they’ve had their expectations set by listening to stories of how quickly their neighbor’s home sold in 2017 or in 2018, they may have to adjust their expectations.”

    Although next year’s inventory growth is expected to be modest nationwide, pricier markets will tell a different story. In these markets—which typically have strong economies (read: high-paying jobs)—most of the expected inventory growth will come from listings of luxury homes.

    We’re expecting to see the biggest increases in high-end inventory in the metro areas of San Jose, CASeattle, WAWorcester, MABoston, MA; and Nashville, TN. All of those metro markets, which may include neighboring towns, could see double-digit gains in inventory in 2019.

    2. Affording a home will remain tough

    It’s no secret that home sellers have been sitting pretty for the past several years. But is the tide about to change in buyers’ favor?

    “In some ways, life is going to be easier for home buyers; they’ll have more options,” Hale says. “But life is also going to be more difficult for home buyers, because we expect mortgage rates to continue to increase, we expect home prices to continue to increase, so the pinch that they’re feeling from affordability is going to continue to be a pain point moving into 2019.”

    Hale predicts that mortgage rates, now hovering around 5%, will reach around 5.5% by the end of 2019. That means the monthly mortgage payment on a typical home listing will be about 8% higher next year, she notes. Meanwhile, incomes are only growing about 3% on average. That double whammy is toughest on first-time home buyers, who tend to borrow the most heavily and who don’t have any equity in a current home to draw on.

    3. Millennials will still dominate home buying

    Just a few years ago, millennials were the new kids on the block, just barely old enough to buy their own homes. Now they’re the biggest generational group of home buyers, accounting for 45% of mortgages (compared with 17% for baby boomers and 37% for Gen Xers). Some of them are even moving on up from their starter homes.

    As we mentioned above, things will be tough for those first-time buyers. But the slightly older move-up buyers will reap the benefits of both their home equity and the increased choices in the market.

    And regardless of whether they’re part of that younger set starting a career or the older set that’s starting a family, “they’re going to be more price-conscious than any other generation,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research at Meyers Research.

    That’s because they typically are still carrying student debt and want to be able to spend on experiences, like travel. That takes away from the funds they can put aside for a down payment, or a monthly mortgage payment.

    “They want to maintain a certain lifestyle, but they still see the value in owning a home,” Wolf says.

    So they might compromise on distance from an urban center, or certain amenities, or space—70% of millennial homeowners own a residence that’s less than 2,000 square feet, Wolf notes.

    There’s plenty of time to expand those portfolios, though, as millennials’ housing reign is just beginning: This group is likely to make up the largest share of home buyers for the next decade. The year 2020 is projected to be the peak for millennial home buying—the bulk of them will be age 30.

    4. The new tax law is still a wild card

    At the time of last year’s forecast, the GOP’s proposed revision of the tax code was still being batted around Congress. While there was talk that it might discourage people from buying a home, no one really knew how it might affect the real-estate market.

    This year … well, we still don’t really know. That’s because most taxpayers won’t be filing taxes under the new law until April 2019. And while some people might have a savvy tax adviser giving them a better idea of what’s in store, for many, the reality check will come in the form of a bigger tax bill—or a bigger refund.

    Renters are likely to have lower tax bills, but might not be tempted to buy while affordability remains a challenge, and with the new, increased standard deduction reducing the appeal of the homeowner’s mortgage-interest deduction.

    “I think the new tax plan will affect mostly homeowners and home buyers in the upper parts of the distribution,” says Andrew Hanson, associate professor of economics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. “Those who either own or are buying higher-priced homes are going to pay a lot more.”

    Sellers of those pricier homes will also take a hit, as buyers anticipating bigger tax bills won’t be as willing to pony up for a high list price.

    The biggest change resulting from the new tax law, Hanson predicts, will be in mortgages, since people will be less inclined to take out large mortgages.

    “If anyone is going to be upset about the tax plan, it’ll be mortgage bankers,” he says.

    Source: Realtor.com  –  and Allison Underhill | Nov 28, 2018

    Cicely Wedgeworth is the managing editor of realtor.com. She has worked as a writer and editor at Yahoo, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.
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    Tax implications for selling a U.S. property

    I’m considering selling my property in the U.S. I know I’ll need to pay capital gains on the appreciated value but do I claim the gains in U.S. or Canadian currency?

    —Paul and Barb, Fort McMurray, Alta.

    Timing is everything, in both comedy and taxes. According to Philippe Brideau, spokesperson for the CRA, both the cost of the property to buy and the proceeds of the sale must be converted into Canadian dollars using the exchange rate at the time of each transaction. You then report the capital gain, or loss, on your tax return based on “the difference between those two Canadian dollar amounts.” But the CRA isn’t the only tax collector to consider. The U.S. also cares about that property sale, explains Kim Moody of Calgary-based Moodys Gartner Tax Law. “A Canadian needs to first report a gain or loss in the U.S. by filing a U.S. tax return—form 1040NR—and paying any applicable U.S. taxes.” Expect to pay a withholding tax to the Internal Revenue Service, which you claim as a foreign tax credit on your Canadian tax return. Now, if this is a place in the sunny south, I hope you get to enjoy one last season down there.

    Source: MoneySense.ca – Bruce Sellery February 2016

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