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10 Things You Need to Know About Foreclosure  »
10 Things to Know About Buying a Second Home  »
10 Benefits of Buying At the End Of The Year  »
10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Orlando  »

10 Things You Need to Know About Foreclosure

When you buy a home using mortgage money, your promise to repay the mortgage loan is secured by the home itself. If you stop paying your mortgage for more than a 90-day period of time, the mortgage lender will set the legal wheels in motion to take the home back. Those legal wheels are, collectively, called "foreclosure."

  1. Foreclosure is a process, not a thing.
    People often misuse the term "foreclosure." Foreclosure is a series of events, not a state of being. Lenders don't foreclose on homeowners; they foreclosure on property.
  2. The foreclosure process has four phases. The terms and length of each phase vary by state.
    Homeowner’s rights and options vary depending on the stage your home is in and the state you live in. Know what laws apply to you.
    1. Stage One: Missed Payments
    2. Stage Two: Pre-Foreclosure
    3. Stage Three: Auction
    4. Stage Four: Post-Foreclosure
  3. The mortgage lender is not eager to take your house away
    Lenders are not in the business of managing real estate, so they would rather work with homeowners to keep them in the house. And with the growing number of defaults across the country, your lender may be more open to cutting a deal.
  4. A difficult financial situation doesn't have to lead to foreclosure
    There are several steps you can take to avoid foreclosure if your loan is about to adjust, you lose your job, or otherwise anticipate that you might miss mortgage payments.
  5. You can sell your home immediately when foreclosure is looming
    Even if you live in a tough market, being aggressive and keeping your home in good  condition can help you get a speedy sale. To get an advice from Real estate agent click  HERE.
  6. All is not lost once you get a notice of default
    If you've missed more than three mortgage payments, you still have some alternatives for  stopping the foreclosure process.
  7. A short sale is better than going through foreclosure
    Lenders don't typically forgive mortgages, but in a market with lots of inventory, they  would rather see the house sold for less than the mortgage, than deal with trying to sell it themselves. To sell your house by short sale, click  HERE.
  8. Foreclosure has major legal, tax and credit consequences.
    Foreclosure will heavily impact your ability to borrow money in the future, so make sure  you've exhausted all other options first.
  9. Buying a foreclosure property doesn't always mean you'll get a bargain
    Finding a turnkey property in the foreclosure market is rare. Oftentimes, the home will need some renovation. Crunch the numbers first to make sure you really are getting a deal.
  10. Understanding your mortgage can help you avoid foreclosure
    Many homeowners who end up in foreclosure say they were unaware of some crucial  pieces of information about their mortgage. Read all the loan documents, ask questions,  and consult with an attorney if you can.

    To get more information, please  contact your real estate agent first.

10 Things to Know About Buying a Second Home

With homebuyers enjoying an advantage in many markets, now may be the time to buy that second home. Whether you're dreaming of paradise or profit, master these 10 tips for a smart investment.

  1. Resist the urge to impulse buy.
    Don't come back from vacation with the keys to a new house without having thoroughly researched your purchase first. If you buy on a whim, you may end up with a second home you can't afford or that doesn't fit your needs.
  2. Evaluate your needs and long-term goals.
    Be realistic about what type of second home suits your lifestyle. If you're looking for a weekend getaway, staying within a day's drive of your primary home could be a good move. If you'd like your second home to someday serve as a retirement spot, assess the home's accessibility and check out health care services in the area.
  3. Get to know the area before buying.
    Even if you've been visiting the same vacation spot for years, you need to get to know the area from a non tourist perspective if you plan to buy there. Visit the place off-season, and talk to locals to get their take on the area.
  4. Hire a local real estate agent.
    Buying a vacation home outside your area can be tricky, as residential real estate is extremely localized. A local agent can help you get to know the market. To contact a Florida Real Estate agent, Click HERE.
  5. Decide what type of home is right for you.
    Think about how much time you're willing to devote to maintenance when deciding between a condo and a single-family home. Condos are a good choice for buyers who only plan to use their homes occasionally and don't want to deal with year-round maintenance. But if you don't want to sacrifice privacy, stick with a single-family home.
  6. Shop around for a mortgage.
    The market changes constantly, so resist the temptation to take whatever terms your lender on your first home offers you. See what else is out there to get the best deal possible.
  7. Calculate additional expenses.
    Don't forget about insurance and maintenance when adding up the costs of your second home. Some of the most desirable areas are at a higher risk for hurricanes, floods or forest fires, so insurance for these areas can be pricey. Get several insurance quotes before making an offer. For maintenance, a good rule of thumb is to set aside 2 percent of the home's value per year for upkeep and repairs.
  8. Consider fractional ownership to cut down on costs.
    If you buy a second home on your own, you may find yourself shelling out a lot of money for the amount of time you actually spend there. By pooling your resources with friends or relatives, many people can enjoy a vacation getaway for a fraction of the cost.
  9. Look into tax benefits.
    You don't have to pay taxes on rental income if you rent out your home for fewer than 15 days a year, but you can't deduct any rental expenses. If you rent out your home for more than 15 days a year, you have to report the income, but you can deduct expenses like maintenance and cleaning.
  10. Rent your home out for extra income.
    If you need extra cash to supplement your monthly mortgage payment, renting out your second home could be a good option. Being a landlord comes with more responsibilities than many people realize, so familiarize yourself with landlord/tenant laws and the Fair Housing Act before renting out your home. To get help with renting
      click HERE.
10 Benefits of Buying At the End Of The Year

In addition to low interest rates, there are other benefits to buying at the end of the year, including:

  1. Tax savings. Closing on your new home by Dec. 31, means you can deduct mortgage interest, property taxes and points on your loan on your upcoming income tax return. You can also deduct the interest costs associated with a home equity loan. These deductions are significant, especially in the early years of your loan when you are paying off so much interest.

  2. Sellers might be more motivated. Many sellers will also be anxious to sell by the end of the year so that they, too, can enjoy tax savings on the next home they purchase. That means you may have more leverage during negotiations and they may be willing to accept lower than their listing price. However, if you're in a strong seller's market, you'll want to be conservative -- and always heed the advice of your real estate professional.

  3. If you're buying a new house, there's a good chance builders will be offering incentives. Many builders will throw in nice little extras to sell as many houses as they can by the end of the year.

  4. Generally speaking, your housing choices during the fall are still healthy. By December there are traditionally fewer houses on the market. October and November are great months to go house hunting.

  5. It's easier to move. Many moving companies are booked six or so weeks in advance during the busy summer months. In the fall and winter it's normally easier to secure the services of a moving company or rental equipment on shorter notice.

  6. A new home for the holidays. The holiday season is a great time to celebrate your new home with family and friends.

  7. In addition, you'll enjoy the many benefits that come with homeownership, regardless of what time of year you buy, including:  Paying toward something you own. If you're renting, your rent payment goes toward something that will last you a month -- a place to live for 30 or so days. When you buy a house, your monthly mortgage payment goes toward something you own.

  8. Consistent payments. Landlords have the discretion to increase your rent, plus it's exposed to inflation. Once you secure a mortgage, you can rely on consistent payments (if you have a fixed-rate mortgage).

  9. A place to make your own. When you own your house, you can update your kitchen, paint your home's exterior in any color you choose, change your fixtures, and replace your carpeting -- all with the knowledge that the changes you make are your own.

  10. Gaining equity. In the beginning, most of your payment goes toward interest. But gradually more will go toward paying off your principal, meaning you build up equity -- or savings -- in your home. Another factor in equity is appreciation. As home values go up in your area, so too does your rate of equity.

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Orlando

  1. Orlando has many established neighborhoods with lots of character and mature trees.  Most visitors to the Orlando area form their impressions of the region’s housing from what they see from the highway in between theme parks.  We can see where one might get an unfavorable impression of the area’s homes from these normally “cookie-cutter” subdivisions with small lots and no trees. Truth is, from the historical districts in downtown Orlando, to the brick streets of Winter Park lined by centuries old oaks, to the lush vegetation of Seminole County’s Sweetwater Oaks and Markham Woods areas, to the quaint charm of Windermere with its pristine chain of lakes, the region is loaded with beautiful places to live.
  2. Orlando’s economy is not 100% tourist-based.  In fact, the Orlando area has the most diverse economy of all the state’s major metropolitan areas.  Tourism is indeed huge, but is complimented by banking and finance, insurance, defense contractors, simulation contractors, restaurant management (Darden), video game development (EA Sports, Tiburon), telecommunications, and a growing high-tech corridor in the Lake Mary area.
  3. Orlando did exist before Disney.  It was just a much quieter existence.  The dominant industry was agriculture.  Citrus groves were most numerous, with vegetable farming to the north and cattle ranching to the east and south.  Some describe pre-Disney Orlando as a “sleepy southern agricultural town”.  Certainly not the international city  we see today.
  4. Orlando is not all flat and swampy, with no physical beauty.   Again, these impressions are formed from trips to theme parks.  Most tourists never get to see the “real Florida”.  A trip to lush Wekiva Springs, with its beautiful crystal clear spring with 72 degree year round water temperature, a ride up the St. Johns River to spot alligators and manatees, a Sunday drive to the rolling hills of Lake County, a walk around Lake Eola in downtown Orlando, or a scenic boat ride touring the mansions of Winter Park’s chain of lakes will quickly change your mind about the Orlando area’s physical beauty.
  5. Orlando has a change of seasons and it does get cold here.   Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but new residents can be surprised at the temperatures November through March.  While our subtropical climate is mild most of the year, we will see frost and occasional freezes during the winter months.  Even with freezing temperatures in the early morning, it is not unusual to see it warm up to the 70’s later in the day.  There are rare occasions where the temperature gets extreme and we will lose landscape plants.  In fact, extreme freezes in the 1980’s were enough to drive most of the citrus industry south.  I can remember one particular Christmas day in the 1980’s where temperatures were in the teens.
  6. Orlando homes have a wide variety of architectural styles.   There is no dominant style here.  You will find a little bit of everything including Georgian, Victorian, Federal, Cape Cod, and Classic Spanish in the historical areas.  Newer areas were dominated by Mediterranean and Palm Beach styles in the late 80’s and 90’s, with more recent trends leaning toward traditional or transitional designs.  The recent development of neo-Traditional communities, such as Celebration in Osceola County and Baldwin Park close to downtown Orlando. have sparked a return to more traditional architecture with highly functional and modernized floor plans.
  7. Orlando is relatively hurricane-safe.  Orlando is far enough inland where the typical storm will be significantly weakened before it reaches the area.  I used to tell people we haven’t had a hurricane  in over 40 years and even then the highest recorded winds in the area were 75 mph, barely hurricane strength.  Then 2004 happened.  We were hit by three hurricanes in a six week period.  Ironically, Charley, the most destructive of the three, traveled 200 miles over land from the southwest where it made landfall at Captiva Island.  Charley still packed winds of up to 100 mph in the Orlando area.  It traveled so quickly over the land that it didn’t have time to weaken.  As bad as it seemed at the time, the damage from Charley was still minor compared to the coastal areas.  I can’t help but think that three hurricanes in six weeks was a freak occurrence we will never see again. While Tropical Storm Fay dumped up to 15-20 inches in some Central Florida locations in 2008, we have not suffered a direct hurricane hit since that freak summer of 2004. 
  8. Orlando has an arts and cultural scene.  No, we’re not talking about t-shirt shops and bungee jumps on International Drive.  There is a growing theater scene, from Shakespeare to improvisational comedy. There’s the Orlando Ballet (formerly the Southern Ballet Theater) and the Orlando Opera.  The planned 330,000 square foot Orlando Perfoming Arts Center will break ground in 2009 and will be a premiere destination for world class culture and entertainment.   There are several world-class art museums, including the world’s largest collection of Tiffany glass at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park and the renowned Cornell Museum at Rollins College.  The Cornell Museum was named as one of the top ten free attractions in the world by travel guru Arthur Frommer.
  9. There is plenty to do in the Orlando area without going to the theme parks.  Cook your own pancakes at your table at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill in DeLeon Springs State Park.  Paddle a canoe down the Wekiva River while observing alligators, otters, deer, and black bears.  Stroll the quaint streets of Mt. Dora with its eclectic shops and restaurants.  Witness a space shuttle launch from the banks of the Indian River Lagoon in Titusville.  Catch an Atlanta Braves spring training game or an Orlando Magic basketball game.  Cheer on a real cowboy at the Silver Spurs Rodeo in Kissimmee.  Count the manatees or swim in the boil at Blue Spring State Park.  Enjoy a round of golf at one the finest courses in the world.  Atlantic beaches at New Smyrna Beach, Daytona Beach, and Cocoa Beach are less than an hour’s drive away.  Not to mention plenty of opportunities for freshwater fishing in the numerous local lakes and inland salt water flats fishing at the world renowned Mosquito Lagoon.  You’ll never run out of things to do in Orlando.
  10. I-4 runs north/south through town.  Okay, then why is it marked East/West?   Running from Tampa to Daytona Beach, I-4 does run from the east coast of Florida to the west coast, but the general direction through the Orlando metro area is north and south.  Just remember, north is east, and south is west.  Or is it, east is north and west is south?  Oh, never mind.
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