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8 Steps to Get Ready for Your Refinance

by Home Action News

8 Steps to Get Ready for Your Refinance

 

There are many benefits to refinancing your home. Refinancing can decrease your monthly payments, lower your interest rate, and shorten the length of your loan. Essentially, refinancing is getting a second mortgage to replace your first. If the terms and conditions are better than your original mortgage, it is a great way to save money and have your home paid off more quickly. Just as with your first mortgage, it is important to properly prepare before refinancing. 

Check out the list below of eight steps to take to get ready for your refinance.

1.     Compare Interest Rates. Before you refinance, it is important to be sure that it will benefit you financially. Compare the interest rate of your original mortgage with current interest rates. While it may seem that a lower rate automatically equals savings, it is important to keep in mind the costs of refinancing. The cost of application fees, loan origination fees, inspections, and legal fees can add up quickly.

2.     Establish When You Will Begin to Save. Once you have figured out the interest rates and costs, establish a time line of when you will actually begin saving money. Use an easy online calculator, like this one, to figure out when you will see savings.

3.     Calculate Your Total Savings. Determine how much you will save by shortening the length of your loan. Figure out the cost of your current loan, and compare it with the new loan. This will help you calculate the total savings of refinancing.

4.     Determine Your Home's Value. It is important to determine your home's value in order to determine whether a lender will be willing to refinance. By figuring out your home's value, you can determine your loan-to-value ratio. The higher the loan-to-value ratio, the higher the risk of the loan. Be sure to check tax assessor's information; price other, similar homes in the area; and check out estimates from online realty sites such as Zillow prior to paying an appraiser.

5.     Get Your Credit Score. Your credit score is a huge determining factor when it comes to financing. The higher the score, the more attractive you'll be to lenders. Know your score in order to better understand how you will be perceived by lenders.

6.     Speak to Several Different Lenders. It is important to shop around for the right loan. Don't accept the first offer you receive. Be sure to take your time and speak to several different lenders to find the best loan for your specific situation.

7.     Decide Whether It Is the Right Time to Move Forward. After reviewing all the factors mentioned in steps 1 through 6, you can determine whether refinancing is the best option for you.

8.     Get Your Financial Information Together. If after reviewing all factors you have decided to move forward with refinancing, it is time to gather your financial information. Collect pay stubs and tax documents. Write up a list of your assets and your outstanding debts. Having all this information together will help the financing process to move more quickly and easily.

If you would like assistance in determining whether refinancing is the right decision for you, please contact me. I'm here to assist you with all your real estate needs in any way I can.

5 Home Technologies to Watch for in 2017

by Home Action News

5 Home Technologies to Watch for in 2017

 

In 2017, your house will have a higher IQ than you do. Here are the five home technologies to watch for in the upcoming year:

1. Smart thermostats

It can be a constant struggle to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. You want it to be cool in the summer without feeling like you're living in a refrigerator, and you want it to be warm in the winter without feeling like you're cooking yourself. We understand you, and we feel like these are pretty reasonable requests.

New Wi-Fi-connected thermostats can sync up with most HVAC systems and adjust the temperature in your home automatically. This not only keeps your home at a Goldilocks just-right atmosphere, but it also saves you money on your electric bill in the long run.

2. Smart maids

We know that when the Roomba was first introduced, everyone freaked out and bought one — and then were swiftly disappointed when it didn't meet their Jetsons expectations. We're here to resuscitate your hope, sci-fi lovers. The Roomba's latest model is cleaning out the competition. The Roomba 980 connects to your Wi-Fi and is remote-controllable through an app on your smartphone.

Uh-oh, your in-laws say they're on their way over to your house, but you're still at work and didn't have time to clean up before you left this morning? No problem. Power your Roomba from your desk and tidy up without even lifting a finger. Well, almost.

3. Smart lighting

We know what you're thinking because we thought the same thing: Why do your lights need to be connected to the internet? That seems a little excessive.

OK, hear us out: Not only are your lights controllable from your iPhone or Android, but you can also schedule when you want your lights to turn on and off, or alter the brightness or color to set the mood. In seconds, your home can go from nightclub to nighttime. We think smart light bulbs are a bright idea.

4. Smart alarms

Smart alarms are the smarter, safer option for your home. Because your alarm is connected to the internet, it can alert you if it's been triggered even when you're not home. Oh, sure, it might have just been Fluffy setting off the motion sensor and causing a false commotion. Or it could be a burglar. Thanks to your smart alarm, you can stay away and out of harm's way.

5. Smart locks

Keys are so 2016. Go ahead and start making jewelry out of them because they're going to obsolete with this new technology: smart locks, the way of the future.

Imagine being able to unlock your front door from your car, using your phone. You'll never have to juggle your keys and your groceries to get into your home ever again. Wait — did you forget to lock the front door? Now that question doesn't have to plague you during the workday. You can just get on your smart lock app and lock your door remotely.

Setting up your home with the latest technologies is a great way to make it more marketable to potential home buyers. If you need any further advice on what you can do to make your home more enticing, give us a ring.

Is the Home Office Tax Deduction Right for You?

by Home Action News

Is the Home Office Tax Deduction for You?

 

As you prepare for tax season, it’s a good time to consider one of the best and often overlooked tax deductions, your home office. It certainly won't reduce your IRS payment to zero, but it can still provide a lot of added value, especially for those working from home or running a business out of their spare bedroom.

Here are a few tips to assure that you are using the deduction correctly.

 

One of the biggest benefits of the home office deduction is that it requires no additional outlay of money. Unlike many other deductions that require you to invest in something or spend additional money in order to qualify, the home office deduction does not. It is just a matter of shifting perspective. What you would normally see as a non-deductible expense, such as a business-related internet bill or new printer, could indeed be a write-off. Take some time to think about items that you also use for business that could fall into this newly discovered category and ask a tax professional.

Another benefit is that it's very easy to claim a home office deduction and it requires little to no advance planning. While you're at it, did you realize that you can even claim write-offs from last year's tax expenses, if you haven't already?  Simply file an amended return for your last year's tax return and claim a tax refund. Again, just be sure you are making claims on justifiable items. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Make sure your office space is exclusive

This means that you cannot use this space for anything else. For example, if you happen to do work in your dining room but also eat dinner here every night, it would not qualify. This space needs to be used for business activities and nothing else. (There may be an exception to this restriction if you use part of your house as a licensed day care facility.) Don't challenge the IRS, they will win. I promise you.

2. The space claimed must be your primary place of business

As long as you spend 51 percent of your time working here, it counts, regardless of where the other time is spent.  This doesn't mean that it's the only place of business, it just means that it's the principal place of business — it's where majority of your work is done, but again, not necessarily all your work. This is usually what stops people from claiming their home office as a tax-deductible expense because they don’t realize that you can work in more than one location, you just have to spend more than 50 percent of the time working from your home office.

3. Don't be afraid of an IRS Audit!

Don’t believe the old myth that home offices are an IRS audit flag, because that is simply not the case. In today's technology age, almost half of Americans have home offices. The issue is that less than half of those people are claiming them as deductions because of the fear of being audited. Don't be one of those people… Claim what is rightfully yours, and write off all those business-related expenses.

Last, but not least, always consult a tax professional who can address your specific situation and  confirm that the expenses you want to claim are allowed. Whether you have a home office in  Linstead overlooking the Severn River, or you have an office overlooking the golf course in Chartwell, there are deductions you can legitimately take that will help you save some of your hard earned money!

 

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Photo of Frank Taglienti Real Estate
Frank Taglienti
Berkshire Hathaway PenFed REALTORS®
565 Benfield Road, Suite 100
Severna Park MD 21146
410-440-0824