Monday, November 26, 2012

Home Sellers Don't Get Burned--Choose the Right Buyers

"What do you mean they can't get the loan?"  the seller asked.  "We've been waiting for 17 days and we are just finding out?"

Even though the buyer had worked all his life except for one year, because of a case of discrimination and a lawsuit, the lender turned down the buyer's loan.  Even though it happened two years ago, the underwriter said that this would increase the interest rate on his loan making his monthly payments unaffordable.    Everyone was very disappointed.

There are some situations that sellers and agents just can't anticipate.  However, in most cases there are several ways the seller's agent can protect the seller from entering into escrow with an unqualified buyer, losing valuable marketing time and making other buyers wonder why has the home sat on the market so long and what is wrong it. 

  • Motivation.  Know the buyer's motivation.  One that is relocating for a job, is stronger than a buyer buying a second home.  The family out growing their condominium is stronger than the one who is renting and thinks it is a good time to own.
  • Proof of Funds.  Before an offer is accepted, the buyers should be required to submit a recent bank statement showing that they do indeed have the money for the deposits and closing costs.  
  • Loan Prequalification or Preapproval?  The seller's agent should contact the buyer's loan officer to verify that they have actually reviewed the application, bank records, and paystubs.
  • Appraisal Contingency.  The buyer's loan also depends on the property appraising at the price offered.  If it appraises higher than the accepted offer, there is no problem.  However, in this market, appraisers are still appraising conservatively based on comparable sales in the area.   On occasion, appraisers may come from out of the area and not know every comparable sale.  So it is very important that the agents provide the appraiser with the best solid comparable home sales to support the price. 
  • Higher Offer Trap.  At this time, many sellers are receiving multiple offers.  Some buyers will offer above the fair market value in order to get their offer accepted, knowing they will renegotiate the price if the appraisal comes in lower.  If the seller does not want to renegotiate the price, they still have to share the appraisal with the next buyer.  So make sure that you have strong comparable home sales and the strongest, most motivated buyer with a fair price or money to renegotiate with.        
So the moral of the story is look a little further than the price and terms on the purchase agreement.  Make sure the buyer can indeed fullfill their offer so no one gets burned.  

Virginia Hall
Keller Williams Realty
DRE #01409760

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mortage Rates Analysis For The Week of 10-19-2012-

The 30 year rate fell from 3.39 to 3.37 this week. Last weeks rates where moving in the opposite direction.

The 15 year dropped from 2.70 to 2.66. The 5 and 1 year arms rose from 2.73 to 2.75 (5 year arm) and 2.59 to 2.60 (1 year arm). Below are rates from the weeks from Sep 27, 2012 to Oct 18, 2012

Oct 18, 2012
30-fixed 3.37 15-fixed 2.66 5 ARM 2.75 1 ARM 2.60

Oct 11, 2012
30-fixed 3.39 15-fixed 2.70 5 ARM 2.73 1 ARM 2.59

Oct 04, 2012
30-fixed 3.36 15-fixed 2.69 5 ARM 2.72 1 ARM 2.57

Sep 27, 2012
30-fixed 2.71 15-fixed 2.71 5 ARM 2.60 1 ARM 2.60

Sep 27, 2012
30-fixed 3.40 15-fixed 3.40 5 ARM 2.73 1 ARM 2.73

Apr 19, 2012
30-fixed 3.90 15-fixed 3.13 5 ARM 2.78 1 ARM 2.81

So now that we have looked at rates lets look at actual mortgage payments. We took current rates and translated them into a mortgage payment for a 200k mortgage. We also did the same thing with rates from October, 04 2012 and rates from April, 19 2012

Oct 18
30-year $883.63
15-year $1348.69
5-year ARM $816.48
1-year ARM $800.67

Oct 04
30-year $882.53
15-year $1351.54
5-year ARM $813.3
1-year ARM $797.53

Apr 19
30-year $943.33
15-year $1393.7
5-year ARM $819.66
1-year ARM $822.85

So compared to two weeks ago the payment for a 200k mortgage has rose by -0.12 percent or $-1.1 a month. And compared to 6 months ago the payment for a 200k mortgage has dropped by 6.32 percent or $59.7 a month

Article by Tom Miller

Saturday, August 18, 2012

ObamaCare's New Home Seller Tax

"So when I sell my home, do I have to pay a new tax?" This is the question on every home sellers' mind since news of the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 broke. 

According to the California Association of Realtors, beginning January 1, 2013, a new tax sometimes referred to as the "Medicare Tax" will take effect.  Part of the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, includes this new 3.8% tax on sellers that have an adjusted gross income of more than $200,000 (for a single person), $250,000 (for couples filing jointly), and $125,000 (couples filing separately). 

Because this is a complicated tax law and will impact investor's differently, for the purpose of this blog, I will only be addressing home owners selling their principal residence with gains greater than the normal sellers' tax exemptions ($500,000 for married couples and $250,000 for individuals).   To help you understand, I am including an example from The 3.8% Tax Real Estate Scenarios & Examples Brochure, written by the California Association of Realtors (CAR): 

John and Mary sold their principal residence and realized a gain of $525,000. They have $325,000 Adjusted Gross Income (before adding taxable gain)."

The tax applies as follows:
     AGI Before Taxable Gain $325,000

     Gain on Sale of Residence $525,000

     Taxable Gain (Added to AGI) $25,000 ($525,000 – $500,000)

     New AGI $350,000 ($325,000 + $25,000 taxable gain)

     Excess of AGI over $250,000 $100,000 ($350,000 – $250,000)

     Lesser Amount (Taxable) $25,000 (Taxable gain)

     Tax Due $950 ($25,000 x 0.038)

NOTE:  If John and Mary had a gain of less than $500,000 on the sale of their residence, none of that gain would be subject to the 3.8% tax. Whether they paid the 3.8% tax would depend on the other components of their $325,000 AGI.

With this new tax, I recommend sellers talk to their accountants to verify their liabilities, because each home seller has different circumstances that may impact their tax rates when selling their home.  

Written by Virginia Hall
                ABR, CRS, e-Pro, GRI, SFR
                Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
                DRE Lic 01409760
                Direct (619)258-8585



Thursday, August 2, 2012

Home Seller's Tip--Unwelcomed Summer House Guests

Right on time as usual, I hustled into my listing to prepare for my Open House.  The home was spotless.  Background music played softly and the air conditioning cooled the house, blocking out the summer heat.   After setting down my briefcase next to a chair, I set the plate of freshly baked cookies on the kitchen counter, just before a couple walked in.. 

I introduced myself to the man and woman, before showing them around.  As we walked past the kitchen I offered a cookie.  They thanked me, but had just eaten.  They spent the next 15 minutes looking around the house and chatting about buying a home in the future.   While they said they had just started looking, I had made a connection and would followup.

Now I prepared to settle in for the next two hours, I opened my laptop on the kitchen table and glanced in the direction of the kitchen when I noticed a straight black line of ants crawling across the ceiling, down the corner of the wall and across the counter straight to the cookies.  To my horror, the ants swarmed over the chocolate chips cookies.  Any moment I expected them to lift the plate of cookies and run off with them.  I jumped up in a panic trying to decide what to do.  I thought of a Yogi Bear cartoon where the ants carried away the picnic basket. I quickly slid the ant covered cookies into the trash and tied the plastic bag tightly.  I didn't want any get-a-ways.  Then I headed after the rest with several wet paper towels.   The last thing I wanted in a closed up home was ode de ant spray. But I had to stop the flow of ants.  So I grabbed a can of ant spray from under the sink and sprayed lightly at where it looked like the ants were coming from. 

Thank goodness no one walked in those 15 minutes.  I let the sellers know, that they needed to either spray themselves or hire a pest control company to rid the house of ants.  

While it is not uncommon to see bugs during the summer with the heat, it is important that homes for sale be kept bug free.    Also during the summer trash, cat boxes, and the laundry should be emptied each day to avoid odors.  You want your home to smell as good as it looks.

Written by Virginia Hall
                  ABR, CRS, E-Pro, GRI, SFR 
                  Direct: (619)258-8585

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Selecting the Best Home Buyer's Representative

In a recent blog,The Slippery Slope of Dual Agency, someone asked about how to select a Home Buyer's Representative? Once you decide to buy, it is important that you pick someone that is honest, trustworthy, and has your best interest at heart to help you. Meeting the representative and discussing the process is one way to select the best person for you.  Here are some criterias and questions to keep in mind when selecting the one:

Experience and Credentials. How long has the representative been in business? Is the agent a Realtor®? What professional organizations do they belong to? What other credentials or designations (ie. Accredited Buyer's Representative) do they hold?

Knowledge.What areas and neighborhoods do they work in? What types of property sales do they specialize in (residential, commercial, land)?

References. Ask about contacting previous clients for referrals. You may want to Google the Realtor®.

Representation. Ask the Representative to explain the definition of each agency and what is meant by fiduciary duties. Do they do dual agency?

Services Provided. Ask what type of services they offer? Do they use a written buyer representation agreements, detailing the obligations of the buyer and the Representative? It is important to have a clear understanding of what you expect out of them and what they expect out of you. Do they listen? Will they refer related service-providers such as lenders and home inspectors? Will they respond to your phone calls and emails within a certain time frame or at certain blocks of time in the day? Will you be dealing with the Representative or their assistant/Transaction Coordinator after the initial contract is accepted?

Finding Properties.  How will they assist you in finding homes? Some buyers like to look at all of the inventory, while others prefer the agent screens the homes narrowing down those they actually look at.
Do they have access to the full Multiple Listing Services? Will they set you up Internet homes searches?     When are they available to show you homes?

Negotiations. Will they educate you on the strategies of what to negotiate on, as well what contingencies will need to be released and when?

Compensation.  Most buyer's representative are compensated by the seller as part of the multiple listing agreement. However, it is always good to discuss other upfront costs you will expected to pay (ie. good faith deposit, home inspections, appraisals).  
While the Representative may not have perfect answers to every question, meeting them and discussing the process helps you in selecting a Home Buyer's Representative that you will have confidence in and trust to guide you through the process with your best interest at heart. 

Written by Virginia Hall
ABR®, CRS®, e-Pro, GRI®, SFR
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Direct (619)258-8585

Friday, July 6, 2012

How attractive is My Neighborhood to Renters/Buyers?

When you are entering the rental or realty market, you’re not just relying on the viability of your house – you’re relying on the viability of the neighborhood it resides in as well. A neighborhood can make or break an investment. However, sometimes you can accommodate to the setting and make it work. You’ll first need to understand what makes a neighborhood appealing to renters/buyers and what drives them away.

Location and Knowing Your Market

While some locations may seem obvious to avoid, such as neighborhoods known for violence or drug trafficking, etc., others might not be such a clear choice. A lot of what the broad amount potential renter or homeowner is looking for, aside from a nice house to live in, is convenience.

If a neighborhood is on the outskirts of town or in the boonies, it will likely lose a lot of appeal. Being far away means it takes extra effort to get into town, to work, to school, or anywhere else the person may need to get to. There are some people who enjoy being far removed and like to live more independently, but appealing to these people may prove to be a more difficult endeavor as it really narrows your market.

Schools, Shopping, Attractions, and Transportation

Going along with the idea of convenience, easy access to essential commodities and institutions can affect the value of your investment property. Aside from poor locations deterring potential buyers and renters, a great location can bring them in.

Families in particular enjoy being close to schools, this way they do not need to worry as much about getting their kids to school. A home in a highly regarded school district is also a huge bonus. Many families will opt to spend more to live in a community with a better school district.

Local landmarks can also sway buyers and renters as well. Being in a close vicinity to shopping centers, hospitals, and other services all appeal typically to renters/buyer, knowing these resources are easily viable when they need them. Being close to a bus, transit line, or local carpool is also a great selling point for commuters.


Perhaps one of the strongest factors in the house seeking equation is how safe a person will feel living in the area. As aforementioned, if an area is clearly violent and riddled with drug dealers then they are less likely to find the house as an option. There are, however, even more practical things to consider. How safe would someone feel walking from their car to their front door at night in this area? Is there a lot of theft in the area? Would you then need to install a security system?

Buying an investment property in a generally hostile or sketchy environment can be a big financial mistake. Unless you have some sort of long term plan and see the area changing in the relatively near future, this generally should be avoided. If the area is crime ridden, you’re likely going to get more applicants with less-than-desirable backgrounds which will make the tenant seeking process even more frustrating and time consuming.

How to Compensate for “Non-Premium” Neighborhoods

For those hosting homes or apartments in less than desirable areas, there are things you can do to make it more appealing to the masses. The biggest and best thing is to adjust the price accordingly. For those living on a budget, it makes more sense to prioritize necessity of convenience.

Offering amenities such as pool and/or gym access, in unit washer and dryers, and others extra options can greatly raise the appeal. Also investing in the property itself can be a huge help. Making sure all appliances are up-to-date, putting in new carpets or hardwood floor, and a fresh coat of paint can also give renters and buyers assurance with the property.

About the Author

Dusty Henry is a writer and editor at All Property Management. As one of the most expansive directories and collections of property managers on the Internet, All Property Management as a tool to connect property owners with the right rental manager for them.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Take Your Best Swing--Making an Offer in a Hot Housing Market

With the interest rates at all time lows, the San Diego County housing market for homes in the $400,000 and below is hot.  

Unless the house is ready to be leveled, Buyers should not waste their time with low ball offers.  Even though the economy is still sluggish, signs of recovery are on the horizon. The number of homes in San Diego County dropped to its lowest level in nearly 3 years combined with a 21.5% increase in the home sales from a year ago May.  In addition,  the number of Foreclosures and Short Sales fell 44.8% in SoCal, the lowest level in four years.   When the supply of homes is down and the demand is up, it is time to get serious with your offers.  

Investors and first time home buyers are competing for the chance buy in. If you love a house, write a good solid offer that will beat out others.  Even investors are competing for fixer uppers that can only be sold using cash.   If the home is priced appropriately for the condition, multiple offers are to be expected.   How can you make an offer stand out?

Offer a fair, reasonable price.  Now is not the time to low ball the seller.  You will begin to see more variable price ranges looking for a little higher than the most recent sales.   The price still has to be within a reasonable range for it to appraise for the loan. 

To avoid having the seller counter your offer, this is a good time for the Buyers' Realtor to contact the listing agents to ask if there is anything special they should know before writing an offer i.e.  How long of an escrow would the sellers want? (30 days is the standard, but quite often sellers need longer); What title and escrow companies would the seller like to use?   Make sure that all appliances,  listed in the multiple listings, are to indeed remain and only ask for those items.   Often houses have furnishings and potted plants that really work with the house, but this is not the time to negotiate furnishings.  These can be discussed at a later time once you have your offer accepted.  At the worst, you may have to find another piece of furniture or new plants, but at least you have the house.

In most standard traditional sales the seller pays for the inspection and work.   Sometimes in short sales, the termite report and work are covered and other times, like most Bank Owned Foreclosures, they are not paid for by the bank.  

The standard contract calls for all contingencies to be removed within 17 days.  You will definitely need the 17 days for appraisal and loans.  If the full loan approvals takes longer than 17 days, you can always ask for an extension.  However, it is not recommended that you request the loan contingency extends until the loan funds.  With no time limit on the loan approval, the lender may not feel the urgency to complete the approval in a timely manner and extend out the escrow.  Although, the contingency for the physical inspections and disclosures, can be shortened 10 days.   You will want to do the physical inspection as soon as possible to know if you want to proceed with the sale.

Quite often, in a market such as this, you will get identical offers.  How are sellers to choose?  Selling and buying a home is very emotional.  Since the sellers have a lot of memories tied in the home, they  want to like the people they are selling it to.  You may want to write up a positive short biography about yourself including a photo and anything that will make you stand out from the next buyer.

Now is the time to step up and take your swing. 

Virginia Hall
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Friday, June 8, 2012

Greenscaping your Home

In case you haven’t noticed, in recent years, the “going green “ trend has really gained ground. It’s not wonder why. There are plenty of benefits no matter what you’re beliefs towards going green are. Obviously, going green has much to do with protecting the environment, but for those interested in putting a little more money back in their pockets, there are reasons to go green as well.

Going Green doesn’t have to mean moving to a commune and using only recycled soda bottles or living completely off of the land. Oftentimes, it simply takes a bit of foresight and necessary planning. The best ways to go green are to simply observe your consumption habits. The two most prominent categories for this, at least in your home will likely be electricity and water.

Let’s start with the larger of the two. Electricity powers just about everything in your home, but the biggest consumer is most often the air conditioning. There are plenty of ways to combat this annual battle. Knowing where the heat transfer occurs is key. If you have large windows, it is very important to bock these from letting in more sunlight than is necessary. This can be done in a few different ways, Blinds and shades are normally a good and aesthetically pleasing solution, while planting a tree to block the sunlight is a bit more novel of an idea. You should also check the edges around your windows and doors for cracks and leaks. Large openings such as those at the foot of your door often make it difficult to keep the air cool. Windows that won’t completely shut create the same problem. Luckily, these problems are easily remedied by a bit of weather stripping and caulk.

When it comes to water consumption, there are a few ways you can also be greener. The easiest fix of them all is to simply reduce your time in the bath or shower, but sometime that isn’t always an option. In this case, you should consider installing low flow faucet and showerheads. Many of these are designed t deliver the same pressure you are accustomed to, while reducing the amount of water used. Another great step you can take to reduce your water and electricity consumption is to buy Energystar approved and other appliances that promise a reduced consumption of water and electricity. Although a bit more expensive, buying energy efficient appliances will significantly reduce your utility bills and can increase the value of your house.

Of course, there are many other ways to greenscape your house, but to find those out, you’ll have to talk to a professional. For more real estate tips and advice, be sure to contact to Virginia Hall at 619.258.8585 or at today!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Important FHA & VA Home Loan Standards

Buyers with FHA (Federal Housing Administration) and VA (Veteran Administration)loans can't just buy any home. In an effort to protect their consumers, the FHA and VA have set criteria for the conditions of the homes that their buyers can purchase. They have specialized appraisers, who not only look at the comps and value of the home, but they also inspect the properties for safety and health hazards as well as other costly problems. In an effort to reduce wasting time and money, buyers should use a critical eye to take good look for some the following criteria:

Approved Condominium Complexes. If you are looking at condominiums, the complex must have been approved by the FHA or VA. Approved complexes are listed on the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veteran Administration Websites. You may also find complexes on the website, that are not approved. It must show an active approval. If a complex approval has expired, the home owners' association has to reapply for the approval. Detached houses and Planned Unit Developments that have Home Owner Associations do not require approval.

Foundation Issues Cracked foundations (see photo) are a problem for any kind of loan. Things to look for are cracks in the stucco and drywall, difficulty opening and closing doors and windows, cracked floor tiles, and sloping floors.

Permanent Heat Source. The home must have an attached, built-in heat source that is turned on with a switch or knob. Wood burning stoves and fireplaces do not quality. A wall heater is approved.

Pools & Pool Equipment. Besides being filled, pools & equipment must be in good working order with no health hazards including algae and cloudy water.

Paint & Drywall Damage. If the house was built before 1978, peeling paint or damaged drywall/plaster (see photo) will need to be repaired.

Safety Hazards. Cosmetic issues are not concerns; however, safety issues such as electrical hazards, exposed wiring, broken windows, etc. need to be replaced or repaired.

Stove. The home must have a functioning stove (see photo). Buyers can purchase a stove and place in the home before close of escrow.

Unpermitted Additions. Garage conversions are probably the biggest culprits that will not be approved. While many Realtors believe no unpermitted additions will be approved, others claim it depends on the appraiser and the workmanship of the addition whether or not it will be approved. So if the buyer is willing to risk the cost of an appraisal, you may get a thumbs up.

Roofs. Worn roofs may be approved, but leaking roofs will not.

Termites. While a termite inspection is not always required, if there are obvious signs of termite damage and wood rot, then treatment or repair would be reqired.

While some of these problems can be addressed by the buyers prior to close of escrow, if they so desire, it is good to know what you are facing before making an offer. By keeping an eye out for these problems, buyers can avoid heart break and frustration.

Virginia Hall
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Direct (619)258-8585

Monday, April 2, 2012

Secrets to Winning in a Multiple Offer Bidding War

As you search around the streets, you may notice there are not as many homes up For Sale as usual. In some parts of San Diego you are right. For example, in Santee the total number of homes listed during the first quarter of the year declined 4%, compared to last year.

According to the California Association of Realtors, the number of homes for sale has been declining for the past 8 months. As the number of homes decline, the law of supply and demand kicks in leading to more multiple offers.

So what are the secrets to winning a bid on a home where there are multiple offers?

1. Use a Realtor®. Many think they can find properties online and don’t need help. But in truth, many of the property websites that consumers use have a 48-72 hour delay. A Realtor can locate new listings and represent you in the purchase of a home.

2. Don’t delay. When you find the right home, there will be other buyers out there feeling the same thing. Get your complete offer in as soon as possible. The offer must include a loan preapproval and the Proof of Funds.

3. Don’t low ball the property. Using the comparable properties prices, determine the fair market value and give your highest and best offer. If you are buying the home with a loan, the home will be appraised to make sure that you are not paying too much for the home. When the market prices are climbing, you can offer a little more than the comps. However, if you are too high, you may have to renegotiate the difference between the appraisal and your offer.

4. Factor in Closing Costs. If you need to have closing costs, you are best to bring up the price up to make up the difference. So at the end of the day, the seller still nets a fair price.

5. Include a letter explaining why you would make a better buyer. Some people include mini biographies with family or individual photos. Any information that might emotionally influence the seller to accept your offer over another will help your position.

With the use of these tips, hopefully you can succeed in a more competitive market and win the home of your dreams.

Virginia Hall
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Direct (619)258-8585

Friday, March 23, 2012

Aces of Real Estate: 8 Short Sale Negotiation Strategies

Ready to tear out their hair, many agents and buyers have declared, “I don’t want to look at another short sale!” Like a game of poker, I always look at it as a game of strategies. You just have to know who you are playing with and what their next move is. When you know what to expect, this will help you to negotiate the best deal.

While the seller accepts an offer on a short sale, their short sale bank has to review and approve the price and terms of the offer because, ultimately, the bank will be taking the biggest loss. Each bank handles negotiations differently, but I have found some patterns that make it easier to negotiate. These items need to be considered when making an offer so that there are no surprises, only negotiations:

1. First and foremost, Buyers must understand that short sales take longer than the traditional sale. While the banks have improved on their time frames, they still require anywhere from 2-6 months on average to review the seller’s financial records and the offer. See Short Sale--An Oxymoron--A Word for Wait.

2. Normally the offer has to be reasonable within 10-15% of the comparable properties in the area. The bank will have an appraisal to compare the offer to.

3. Depending on the type of loan the buyer has and the price offered, some banks may pay for termite inspection and work, repairs, and closing costs. A lot of banks tend to be more flexible with VA and FHA buyers.

4. Most short sale banks will not pay towards Homeowner Association (HOA) Dues in the rear. If the seller can, they should continue to pay their HOA dues. The mounting fees seem to be a real source of contention for short sale banks or buyers to accept. The buyer’s first reaction is “why should I pay” for something the seller should have kept up. But if buyer can get the bank to pay closing costs or reduce the price in exchange and looks at it as part of the cost of buying a nice home at a great price, it is easier to accept.

5. Depending on the Bank, they may also ask the buyer to pay for the HOA documents which range anywhere from $200 to $500. Again it is best to look at it as part of the cost for a nice home.

6. Most banks won’t pay for the Buyer’s home warranty. So no need to ask.

7. Normally, the oven/stove will be sold with the home; however, the seller will often want to sell any other appliances separately outside escrow.

8. If the seller has two loans on the home, the first lien holder offers the second lien holder money to release their interest. Depending on the situation, a second lien holder may ask for more money than the first lien holder is willing to give. It may seem that you are in a stalemate. Without the second lien holders' cooperation, the sale cannot happen. While the seller cannot contribute any more money, and the banks cannot ask the buyer to contribute. If it is a great house, rather than let it go, the buyers may offer to contribute to the cause.

Short Sales definitely have a longer bumpier ride with less frills than a traditional sale normally does. However, with the help of a knowledgeable short sale specialist, one who understands the game and with these ace strategies you may be able buy a great home at a lower price. The long ride and some added cost may be well worth it.

Virginia Hall
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Direct (619)258-8585

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Short Sale Now or Pay Tax Consequences

A seller recently called me in a panic, "I received a 1099C from the bank and I owe the IRS almost $18,000." She had done a Short Sale last year and was preparing her taxes. She received the Bank's 1099 Form showing the forgiven debt, the difference between what the house sold for and what she owed.

However, the good news for this seller is the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007. The law saved her from having to pay this huge tax. Once the seller filed the IRS Form 982, the problem was corrected on her taxes.

According to the IRS, "The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief."

Prior to 2007,the difference between what the house sold for and was owed, was considered forgiven debt, and may have been taxable.

Since the law only protects those that qualify until of the end of 2012, if you have been considering a short sale now is the time to do it. Since short sale bank approvals can take anywhere from 3-6 months, you need to start making plans .

While I always advise sellers considering a short sale to consult with their attorneys and/or an accountant, you will also want to consult with a Realtor who has the Short Sale Foreclosure Resource designation from the National Association of Realtors. Agents with this designation have gone through special training to specialize in short sales.

For more information, you will want to visit the IRS website on Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 .

Virginia Hall
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Direct (619)258-8585

Monday, February 20, 2012

An Exciting World of Its Own--Santee Town Center Park East (Santee Parks Part 10)

It was a warm July night in 2010, when I first visited the wonderful world of the Santee Town Center Community Park East located at 550 Park Center Drive, tucked away behind the Sportsplex and Cameron YMCA. People scattered across the giant grassy area on blankets and lawn chairs in front of the concert stage, preparing to hear the sounds of the Corvettes. Many enjoyed their picnic dinners while listening to the music. Children danced to the sounds of rock and roll. It was a delightful sight.

The following September, I vounteered at the first Santee Wine and Blue Grass Festival held at the park organized by the Santee Park and Recreation Committee. What an exciting affair!

On July 4th, the city held a concert festival in celebration of the nation's birth. The locals picniced and strolled around vendor booths. A live band played and people danced, while waiting for the clock to stike 9pm and the fireworks to fill the sky.

Recently, I visited the park again on a lazy Sunday afternoon. As we pulled into one of the large parking lots, I was amazed to see the athletic fields that lied beneath where all the festivities I had been to had taken place. The 40 acres of park includes the Cameron YMCA and the Sportsplex just across two bridges that transcend the San Diego River Bed.

The park was a buzz with activity. My husband and I stolled along the walkway with our dog. As we entered the park, I spotted a gentleman flying a remote control airplane to the delight of all who watched. Lots of open sky to zoom and zag.

As we walked further on, to my amazement, there were lighted synthetic turf football and soccer fields, home to the Santee Pop Warner Ravens. A few soccer games were winding down, and players were gathering up their nets.

I noticed people picnicing at tables, some even under gazebos, along the way. We even stopped to rest on one of the benches that doted the walk way.

The park also includes grills, restrooms, a jungle gym playground area, a concession stand, and a trail system interlinked to all parts of the park.

You will want to visit the Santee Town Center Park East to see this exciting world of its own.

by Virginia Hall
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Direct (619)258-8585

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Park Amongst the Heavens--Sky Ranch Park (Santee Parks Part 9)

If you are looking for a spectacular view and a new park in Santee to visit, Sky Ranch Park is the place for you. This 1.3 acre mini-park is located in the newer Sky Ranch development at 5850 Cala Lily Street.

The small Santee City park blends in with the rest of the Sky Ranch neighborhood, careful you may drive right by it.

The park has scenic views overlooking the surrounding Santee and El Cajon regions, including Gillespie Field Airport and nearby mountains.

While it is a small park, there is a covered giant playground area along with picnic shelters, picnic tables and barbecue grills. You can stroll along a walkway surrounging the open grassy area or rest on one of the benches and enjoy the solitude.

Dogs on leashes are allowed. Open dawn to dusk, it fits in perfectly with the executive home neighborhood.

by Virginia Hall
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Direct (619)258-8585