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The Probate Real Estate Sale Process Explained

The process of selling real estate (real property) through probate or trust is a series of court-regulated steps that must be carefully monitored and managed. Deadlines are unforgiving, documentation is specialized and the court’s oversight must be honored throughout the marketing, offers, negotiations and sale of the property.

In addition to the personnel of the court, the sale generally involves the Executor or Administrator of the estate, the attorney representing the estate, a real estate agent representing the seller (the estate), one or more buyers who place bids with the court and the buyers’ real estate agents. Each of these individuals must follow the guidelines and deadlines of the court.

Because of the involvement of the court, probate and trust sales have a vocabulary all their own. They also involve various disclosure documents and contracts that are not used in other real estate transactions.

If you are selling or buying real property through such a transaction, your real estate agent should be experienced in probate and trust sales and be able to explain the language, the documentation and the steps in the process. Clear communications are vital.

To help you understand the probate and trust sale process, here is a list of some of the steps involved in a typical transaction:

Appointment of the Administrator or Executor of the estate.

In most cases, the decedent’s will names an Executor who is designated to handle the distribution of assets, including real property. If no Executor is named, if the named Executor is unwilling to serve or if there is no will, the court appoints an Administrator to carry out these duties. The Executor or Administrator is the person who has the authority to list and sell the property; the sale cannot proceed until that person has been identified.

As provided in the Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA), the Executor establishes a list price for the real property. The price takes into account the appraisal by the Probate Referee and is usually determined with the assistance of a real estate agent experienced in probate and trust sales. The property is then listed for sale through that agent/broker.

The real estate agent markets the real property to the public as aggressively as possible to attract the highest offer. This generally involves a number of approaches, including signage, newspaper advertising, listing on one or more real estate websites and hosting open houses for other real estate agents and potential home buyers. The real estate agent will also schedule appointments to show the property to interested parties who inquire directly.

While buyers of probate and trust real estate may be looking for a bargain, their range of offers are limited by the court. An accepted offer must be 90% or more of the Probate Referee’s appraised value. Once a buyer is found, the real estate agent assists the seller in negotiating terms that are satisfactory to both parties.

When the property has an accepted offer, a Notice of Proposed Action is mailed to all heirs, simply stating the terms of the proposed sale. The heirs have 15 days to review the notice and pose any objections. If there are no objections, the sale may proceed without a court hearing.

If the Executor/Administrator does not have full independent powers under IAEA, or if one of the heirs poses an objection to the Notice of Proposed Action, notice of the sale must be published in a generally distributed local newspaper (unless the will does not mandate such action).

The attorney for the estate then applies for a court date (the “confirmation hearing”) when the sale will be executed. The court date is usually within 30 to 45 days of the date the application is filed. A copy of the application and details concerning the sale are mailed to all interested parties.

Even after the court date has been set, the real estate broker should continue to show the property and advertise the home to potential buyers in the hope of securing an “over-bidder” and thereby raising the sale price.

During the court confirmation hearing, the previously accepted bid may be overbid by another interested party. In such a case, the overbidding party must appear at the hearing with a cashier’s check (no personal checks accepted!) in an amount totaling at least 10% of the minimum overbid price in order to successfully overbid. The minimum overbid is determined by the following formula: 10% of the first $10,000 plus 5% of the balance of the accepted offer.

EXAMPLE: A property is listed at $200,000. The accepted offer is $175,000.
The minimum overbid is calculated as follows:
Accepted offer = $175,000
+.10 x $10,000 = $1,000

+ .05 x $165,000 = $8,250
Minimum overbid = $184,250
x .10 = $18,425 amount of cashier’s check

If there is more than one over bidder, the highest bid ‘wins.’ The winning bidder gives a cashier’s check to the Executor/Administrator and escrow is opened. Escrow will close approximately 30 to 45 days from the court hearing.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

How Much Do Home Alarm Systems Affect Resale?

Home alarm systems can be particularly hard to calculate into resale value or return on investment (ROI) because their job is to prevent loss rather than achieve gains. You purchase a home alarm system with the hope that you never need to use it.

The reality is that a burglary is reported to police every 14.5 seconds. But robbery isn’t the only thing that alarms can save you from. Smart alarms can detect smoke and hazards.

More than ever, homeowners want to feel safe in their homes. A built-in alarm system may be just what it takes to get your house off the market.

1. Alarm Systems Aren’t as Expensive as They Used to Be

According to HomeAdvisor’s survey, most homeowners invest between $330-$1,040 when purchasing and installing home alarm systems. However, with the advent of smart, connected technology, home security is more affordable than ever.

Products like the Nest Cam Outdoor monitor your home in 1080p high definition video that you can access from your smartphone 24/7. This monitor also has a two-way audio feature, meaning you can use your voice to scare off intruders or give live instructions to a delivery service. Smart products allow you to monitor your home yourself, which cuts down the cost of hiring a security company to do the monitoring for you.

Smart products send security alerts right to your phone, allowing you to act fast and take control. Monthly security subscriptions on smart products are usually a fraction of the cost of subscribing to a traditional security service.

2. Add Resale Value

Owning a safe and secure home is appealing to every home buyer, from frequent travelers to families. That means pre-installed cameras, smoke detectors, and smart locks can be huge selling points. The more convenient and easy-to-use the security, the better.

One of the most desired security features for homeowners is motion sensor lighting over the driveway. Not only does it scare away late-night intruders, it also helps homeowners navigate in the dark. Buyers want added safety and convenience in their everyday lives, and the right security system can provide both.

3. Home Security Lowers Neighborhood Crime

In 2016, Rutgers University released a study that found that neighborhood crime rates dropped significantly when alarm systems were installed in multiple neighborhood homes.

Burglars are less likely to break into homes that are protected with home security, and that fact carries over when applied to entire neighborhoods. Safe neighborhoods are highly desirable to homeowners and can help your home sell faster and at a higher price.

4. Alarm Systems Can Reduce Your Homeowners Insurance

If you financed your home with a mortgage, you are most likely required to have home insurance. While the price of home insurance varies, most companies offer discounts to homes with security systems.

With a home monitoring system installed, you can save up to 20% on home insurance. Those savings can amount to hundreds of dollars per year or the cost of the security system all together.

5. They Save Money in the Long Run

Burglaries can cost you, not only in the possessions stolen from your home, but also in the damage that many homes incur during a burglary.

Most burglars enter homes through the front or back door or first-floor windows, usually breaking them in the process. The cost of fixing a broken window or kicked-in door can be even more expensive than the valuables taken.

It was found that when burglars enter homes with security systems, they are much more likely to leave quickly, taking fewer items with them.

While security systems aren’t foolproof, they do offer the benefit of safety and security. Whether you’re installing a system for yourself or for future homeowners, the peace of mind it offers is the ultimate ROI.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Hey Millennials, Lennar Will Help Pay Your Student Loans

A new loan from national homebuilder Lennar is raising hopes for millennials, and raising eyebrows from some in the real estate industry. The loan seeks to make homebuying a reality for millennials who might otherwise think they have to wait until their student loans are paid off.

The idea is this: Homebuyers use Eagle Home Mortgage’s Student Loan Debt Mortgage Program; Eagle Home Mortgage is a subsidiary of Lennar. Through this program, borrowers “can direct up to 3% of the purchase price to pay their student loans when they buy a new home from Lennar,” said the builder in a news release. That can add up to $13,000 in student loans, depending on the sales price of the home, and payments “can go toward loans from universities, community colleges, trade schools and other ‘certificate-granting programs’, but can’t be used for loans that parents have taken out to pay for their child’s education.

Sounds like a great deal for millennials. But is it a fix-all?

“Financial planning and student loan experts caution that the plan unveiled last week by Lennar just swaps student debt for mortgage debt,” said CNBC. “Jason Delisle, a student loan expert at the think tank American Enterprise Institute, said Lennar’s student loan payments struck him as a price cut marketed toward debt-laden millennialism,” they added. “Why not just give them a discount on the house?” Delisle asked.

There’s also a question about where the money is coming from and what the long-term implications could be. “There’s no free lunch,” Allan Roth of Wealth Logic, a financial planning firm in Colorado Springs, told them. “If a for-profit company wanted to make a charitable contribution, then they would make a charitable contribution. This money has to come from somewhere.”

CNBC floated the idea that the price of the home could be increased to cover the cost, however, Lennar clearly stated in its news release that, “Lennar contributes the 3%, which does not increase the price of the home or add to the mortgage loan balance.”

Of course, for millennials who have been looking for their way in to the market, the response may just be, “Who cares?!” According to the New York Federal Reserve, the average outstanding student loan balance is $26,700. “That’s one of the reasons that millennials are buying homes in lower numbers than young people have in previous decades,” said the South Florida Business Journal.

And when you also consider that the down payments under this program can be as low as 3 percent, and “buyers may also be eligible” for additional programs, like those that can help with closing costs, it sure seems like a millennial win.

“Americans are more burdened than ever by student loans, with $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loans spread out among 42 million borrowers,” said Jimmy Timmons, President of Eagle Home Mortgage. “Particularly with millennial buyers, people who want to buy a home of their own are not feeling as though they can move forward. Our program is designed to relieve some of that burden and remove that barrier to owning a home.”

Buyers have to meet credit and income requirements to qualify for the Student Loan Debt Mortgage Program, and the maximum loan amount is $424,100, which covers dozens and dozens of attached and single-family options across the country from Lennar.

Most of them, not surprisingly, are in the suburbs. But is that an issue for millennials, who conventional wisdom (and many industry experts) have said is off millennials’ radar? Not so fast.

“Americans aged about 18 to 34 have become the largest group of homebuyers, and almost half live in the suburbs,” said Bloomberg. “The shift to suburbia may surprise those who’ve chided millennials for being more interested in pricey avocado toast than in saving for a home. Much of the generation delayed marriage, childbearing and home ownership after graduating with heaping student-loan debt and entering a weak job market. As more millennials overcome this, many want the life of their baby-boomer parents – the kids, the house in the ‘burbs and the beefy SUV.”

In fact, if you look closely at millennial homeownership numbers, you’ll see that, while “there’s been an increase in the number of young adults in urban areas” over the last 10 years, it’s “largely due to a 32% increase in births between 1978 and 1990, according to Dowell Myers, professor of demography at the University of Southern California,” said TIME. “He says that upswing has led people to believe that there’s been a real change in millennials’ preferences, when really there were just a lot more young people born 25 years ago.

A Harvard study by its Joint Center for Housing Studies – “which used data from the census and the Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as its own analysis — found most stereotypes associated with millennial home buyers were not true,” said the Los Angeles Times. And key to those findings were millennials’ geographical preferences. “The evidence suggests…that homeownership decisions by younger households have much more to do with affordability than location and lifestyle preferences,” study authors said.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Why Buyers Won’t Buy Your Home

There’s no list of reasons — no top ten or even top three reasons — why buyers won’t buy a specific listed property like your home.

There’s just one reason.

When buyers won’t buy listed real estate, or even put in an offer close to asking price, there’s just one reason why — it’s the list price!

List price must communicate value and opportunity to buyers for whom the listed real estate represents what they want and need. Individual buyers have individual home-buying wants, needs, and goals which range from solid financial investment to discovering their dream home, or both.

When the list price on a specific property communicates value and opportunity to buyers who are ideally suited to recognize high value and great opportunity, these buyers want to act. They are compelled to put in an offer before someone else snaps up their dream home/ideal investment.
When list price does not accurately communicate value and opportunity — usually because it is unrealistically high for the current real estate market, location, ownership benefits, and property condition — buyers not only won’t make an offer, they may not even want to view the property.
The list which is vital for sellers to consider is the list of reasons why listing price can be a barrier to the successful sale of their real estate. Here’s four of many reasons why list price can turn buyers off and leave the unsold real estate sitting on the market:

#1. Listing “Home” Not Real Estate: Sellers may start out intent on selling their home. However, they will find the selling process challenging until they realize exactly what they are actually selling. Not their home, but real estate — bricks and mortar, land, and related rights — that must attract buyers searching for their new home. Removing the seller’s personal veneer from a house or condominium unit to reveal the true value of the real estate is just as important as sellers removing their personal attachment — pride of ownership — from their thinking and decision making. List price should reflect value from buyers’ perspectives — that’s the real estate market value and the value evident after comparing competing listings — and seller’s investment value based on the current market.

#2. Value vs Cost: Seller improvements do not hold equivalent dollar-value for buyers. For example, a seller who recently paid thousands to modernize windows and replace the roof, may expect list price to reflect this out-of-pocket cost. Some buyers may attribute move-in-ready value to these property improvements, but the actual dollars attached to these seller expenditures may fall short of seller costs.

#3. The Market Now: Economics can change quickly. The current real estate market is the one buyers are shopping in. For instance, the higher priced market last year, last month, or even last week means nothing to buyers once economic conditions change. Sellers who hang on to a now-historic selling price that they missed out on and who refuse to adjust to market-dictated price down-grades, can create a listing barrier by sticking with the out-dated higher list price. The listing message may be interpreted as “stubborn seller here,” which does not attract buyers. Letting go of missed opportunity can be a challenge for sellers, but this does not help the property “shout” opportunity to buyers.

#4. Selling: Only Half The Winning Real Estate Strategy Sellers who expect their real estate win to come exclusively from the sale of their real estate, miss the point of real estate as an investment. The full return from real estate ownership — on top of the benefits gained by living in the property or renting it out — comes from selling the property and putting the earned profit to work either to purchase more real estate or to invest the funds in other ways. Sellers who only spend time and effort on selling, may miss out on even greater returns from putting their sales profits to work. Selling or cashing-in real estate is only half the winning strategy! More on this topic in my next column.

Real estate professionals are trained to understand the economic and financial complexities of establishing market value and list price for the real estate held by their clients. Ideally, list price is established by the seller based on information, selling strategy, and market data provided by the listing professional and on seller goals. Select the right professional for the correct expertise to get the list price right.

List price is based on market value which is more accurately represented by a range than an absolute figure. Depending on the marketing strategy that matches seller needs and wants — including seller time constraints and moving criteria — the list price may be set on the optimistic side or with a practical slant.

What value and opportunity will your list price communicate to buyers?

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Tips For Getting Your Home Sold In The Winter

So you’ve decided to list your home this winter. Perhaps you’ve had a job change, need to relocate out of the area, or have financial or family reasons for moving. No matter what is driving the move, you may be concerned about selling at this time of year. But just because you missed the boat on the spring selling season doesn’t mean you can’t get your home sold quickly, and for a profit. A few tips can help get it moving.

Take photos early… or late

If you can take photos before the trees become barren and the grass goes dormant, do so! The last thing you want is for your home to look blah and depressing in photos. If you can capture a snowy day (with perfectly scraped walkways, of course), that works, too. It never hurts to have your home looking like a winter wonderland.

Go easy on the holiday décor

“Deck the halls, but don’t go overboard,” said HGTV. “Homes often look their best during the holidays, but sellers should be careful not to overdo it on the decor. Adornments that are too large or too many can crowd your home and distract buyers. Also, avoid offending buyers by opting for general fall and winter decorations rather than items with religious themes.”

Always mind your curb appeal

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can let things slide out front. Potential buyers won’t give you a pass on chipping paint, a fence that needs repair, or a front door that’s seen better days just because it’s frigid outside.

Safety matters

Shoveling the walk from the street to your home is necessary to make it reachable, make it inviting, and also make it safe. The last thing you want is a slip and fall that could result in an injury, and a lawsuit. “Continually shovel a path through the snow, especially if snowflakes are still falling,” said the balance. “Footprints on freshly fallen snow will turn to ice if the temperature is low enough, so scrape the walk. Sprinkle a layer of sand over the sidewalk and steps to ensure your buyers’ stable footing. Remember to open a path from the street to the sidewalk so visitors aren’t forced to crawl over snowdrifts.”

Get a good indoor mat

Perhaps you never use a mat for indoors or yours is grubby or tattered from 10 straight years of winter wear. This one super easy move may not be noticed by visitors – but it sure will if it’s missing or not in good shape. Little things like a $10 mat can give buyers the impression that your whole house is well cared for, or just the opposite.

Clear the front door clutter

If you live in a climate where there is likely to be snow or rain, there are a few more steps you’ll probably have to take in order to keep your house looking great inside. How does your coat closet look? If it’s stuffed with jackets, scarves, boots, and gloves, relocating some to make room for potential buyers to put their stuff away while touring your home is a good idea – plus, a tidy coat closet gives the impression that there is plenty of storage space in the home. It goes without saying that winter wear and shoes that tend to stack up in the entry should be banished while your house is on the market.

Make sure everything is functional

Imagine you live in a climate that stays relatively temperate year-round, and then you have a cold spell. You turn on the heater for the first time the night before your first showing, and…nothing. Same for the fireplace in the living room. Your freezing cold house is probably not going to make a great impression on buyers. As soon as you decide you’re going to sell your home, go through it room by room, checking all major appliances and home functions and looking for little things that may escape notice on an everyday basis – cracked light switches, chipped baseboards, light bulbs that need to be replaced – so your home is perfect for showings.

Light it up

Shorter days with earlier sunsets limit the amount of natural light in your home. Turning on all the lights before showings is more important than ever. Think about the exterior when it comes to lights, too. If you only have a porch light, you might want to consider adding some landscaping lighting, which will help accentuate your outdoor space.

Listen to your REALTOR® when it comes to price

Will you be able to command top dollar for your home and get the same price you would have had you listed in spring or summer? That depends on so many things, including your neighborhood, the available inventory, the condition of the home, and, of course, your listing price. A trusted real estate agent will take all mitigating factors into consideration and use comparables in your area to develop a pricing strategy.

When it comes to offers, remember this tidbit from Realtor.com: “Just because your home’s on the market during the slow, chilly months doesn’t mean you have to accept a lowball offer. If you make your home attractive in all the right ways, qualified buyers will come.”

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Phoenix Real Estate Market Report ~ September 2017

The current real time market profile shows there were approximately 9,646 new listings (down 203 listings from last month) on the market in September 2017 and 7,451 sold transactions (down 812 listings from last month). This is the second consecutive month the number of new listings exceeded the number of sold transactions. Overall, the inventory of homes on the market is still very low where in September 2017 there were 19,769 homes (up 527 listing from last month) on the market which is down -23.8% as compared to the number of home on the marker in September 2014. In September 2015 there were 21,778 homes, in September 2014 there were 25,960 homes and in September 2013 there were 22,048 homes for sale on the market. Due to the declining in average days on market since February 2017 this shows buyer’s demand is strong where inventories may continue to be low and drive up prices.

The average sold price decreased from $299,435 in August to $294,378 in September which is a -1.7% decrease. Historically, since 2014 the average sold price has declined from July to August and doesn’t start to increase until late September and early October. Overall, the average sales price since October 2016 (12 months ago) still has an appreciation rate approximately +3.3% (down from last month) or from $284,888 in October 2016 to $294,378 in September 2017. In 2014 real estate prices appreciated 4.5%, in 2015 5.5% and in 2016 4.2% where according to the National Association of Realtor the average annual appreciation rate is 5.4%. Therefore, Phoenix is still on track to reach is historical appreciation rate as long as price increase from October to December. Since October 2016 (12 months ago), the average days on market has decreased approximately -10.8% (down from last month) and the number of sold transactions has increased approximately +4.9% (down from last month).

The volume of foreclosure purchases since October 2016 (12 months ago) has decreased approximately -33.8% and the volume of short sales decreased of approximately -55.6%. The current percentage of foreclosure sales and short sales sold is only 1% of the market which indicates a healthy market. Unfortunately, there are still some homeowners who bought between 2005 and 2007 that are still up-side-down as shown in the yearly average sold price chart above.

Since October 2016 (12 months ago), the number of homes for sale on the market have decreased approximately -14.0% or 22,986 homes for sale on the market to a gradual decrease of 19,769 homes (Down 3,217 homes). The total number of listings is low as compared to 25,960 listings in September 2014. This decrease in the number of homes for sale indicates we are currently in a seller’s market (low supply and increased demand).

Real estate prices will continue to increase and interest rates are planned to increase in 2017 so if you are thinking about buyer a home this year will be the time to buy before you get priced out of the market. Give us a call to discuss your best buying or selling strategy, TODAY!!

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

4 Things You Absolutely Must Get Rid Of Before You Move

So you’re moving, and on your verrrrrry long moving-related “to-do” list is that old favorite: packing. Did you just let out a big sigh at the thought? Us, too. Face it, it’s no fun. Actually putting stuff in boxes isn’t the hard part for many people; It’s the dreaded sorting and decluttering and getting rid of stuff that sends many into a panic. Take a deep breath and we’ll get through these tips together.

First, use this advice from Rent.com as an overall rule of thumb: “For one, if it’s damaged, it should be thrown away, no exceptions. Also, if it’s spent more than six months unused, you likely won’t miss it if you get rid of it. For clothes, if you haven’t worn a garment in over a year, it should be donated– that way you don’t get rid of seasonal clothes you may need in a few months.”

Now, let’s break down the specifics.

Paperwork

If you’ve got boxes and boxes of old receipts and taxes and printed emails dating back to the turn of the century, it’s time to dive in. “Keep everything for seven years” is ingrained in many of our brains, but, according to financial expert Suze Orman, that’s not necessary. She says the only thing that needs to be kept for seven years are records of satisfied loans. Income tax returns only need to be kept for three years (can we get a Hallelujah?). But, there are some reasons to keep them longer, depending on your withholdings. You can see all her recommendations here.

Mementos and heirlooms

It can get sticky when it comes to things you’ve been willed or handed down. If you feel like you need to hold on to that old antique dresser that’s been in your family for two generations – and that’s sitting in the garage because it’s not your style – or your grandmother’s china that you’ll never use, we get it. If you know you’ll never use the item as is (China? Not even for Thanksgiving?), can’t find a way to repurpose the item (Can that old sideboard be painted?), and there isn’t another family member who will take it, maybe it’s time to think about selling it. You might be surprised at how valuable old antiques and collectibles can be. And, if you’re feeling bad about selling your heirlooms, you can always donate the money to a worthy cause; that will help you assuage your guilt.

Clothes

Getting rid of clothes can be overwhelming. No one is saying you have to pare down to a week’s worth of outfits and shoes, but if you’re moving to a smaller space or just want to be more organized when you move, the closet is a great place to start.

Most experts recommend getting rid of anything you haven’t worn in a year, but if the thought of purging that many items is giving you anxiety, start by asking yourself a few questions, said The Spruce:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I wear it?
  • Does it project the image I want to project?
  • Does it itch or scratch?
  • Does it pinch my toes? Are the heels too high to walk in?
  • Is it moldy? Smelly? Stained?
  • Does it fit?”

When you get to No. 7, take a deep breath. Many people have clothes in a couple of sizes to accommodate things like post-pizza-pigout days, but if you’re holding on to 15 pairs of pants that haven’t fit you since 2002, maybe it’s time to ditch them.

Broken, scratched or tired furniture

Old, boring, broken, or otherwise undesirable pieces you’ve been living with in your current home may not be so tolerable once you move. Your shiny new place deserves some shiny new stuff, right? If you’re not in a position to shell out a bunch of money after buying your new home, wait a bit. You’ll undoubtedly be receiving credit card offers after you close escrow; sift through them and set aside those offering 0% interest from furniture stores like Rooms to Go.

These can make big purchases easier – if you are good at managing your credit. Miss a payment or fail to pay off your balance within the allotted time and you’ll have interest accrued going back to the date of purchase plus a whopping interest rate, which can put payments out of reach. You may also receive 0% interest offers from places like Lowes and Home Depot, which can be a great way to update appliances, flooring, or countertops, and Best Buy for your electronic needs.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-525

6 Surprising Benefits Of Buying Or Selling Your Home In The Fall

Seeing fewer for-sale signs now that summer is over? That can be great news for buyers who are looking to score a new home and buyers who want to get rid of their place and buy a new one. If you think you missed the boat on making your move this year, we’re here to tell you why buying and selling in the fall can work for you.

Less competition

Yes, there may be fewer homes on the market, but there are also fewer buyers out there competing for the same home you want. That gives buyers an important edge. “Families on a mission to move into a new home before school starts are out of the picture,” said Forbes. “Competition for houses drops off in the fall, a time many people consider to be off-season in real estate. But there are still homes for sale – and in some cases, there’s just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer.”

The benefit to sellers is that those buyers who are out there tend to be more serious, which means your REALTOR® can key in on the real buyers without having to sift through the riffraff.

Tax breaks

If you’re a buyer who closes escrow before December 31, and you may get a nice write off on your taxes. “Property tax and mortgage interest are both deductions you can take for your whole year’s worth of income, even if you closed on your home in December,” David Hryck, a New York, NY tax adviser, lawyer, and personal finance expert told Realtor.com. “Any payments that are made prior to the closing of the loan are tax-deductible. This can make a serious difference in the amount you owe the government at the end of the year.”

There are also potential tax breaks for home sellers. “You can include all sorts of selling expenses in the cost basis of your house,” said The Balance. “Increasing your adjusted cost basis decreases your capital gain because this is what’s subtracted from the sales price to determine how much of a gain – or loss in some cases – you’ve realized. If you have less of a gain, you’re more likely to fall within the exclusion limit, and if you’re gain isn’t excluded, you’ll pay taxes on less.” And that’s just the beginning. Closing costs and home improvements may also be write offs for sellers. Check out the full list here.

Home for the holidays

Buy or sell early in the fall and you could be nicely situated in your new home in time for the holidays and before winter weather hits. Moving during a calmer time of year also means you may have better access to movers and other necessary resources than during the busier spring and summer seasons.

The right price

Did you list in the spring or summer with an exorbitant number that you thought you’d have no trouble getting because it was a hot market? That’s pretty common these days. Whether you’ve had a revelation about the price you should be asking or have made updates to your home to justify a higher price, you’re probably in better shape to get your (realistic) asking price in the fall. If you’re a seller and you establish a smart pricing strategy, you could find your home standing out in the crowd and selling while others sit on the market under a blanket of snow.

Buyers also may have a better time getting a home that’s within their budget because when there is less competition for homes, there is less chance of bidding wars and over-asking-price sales.

Fall may be safer for buyers and sellers

Here’s something you may not have thought of. “Did you know that burglars have peak seasons? They do, Sarah Brown, a home safety expert for SafeWise.com, told Forbes. “July and August are prime months for burglaries to take place. Waiting until the fall [to buy] gives you an advantage when learning about a home and the neighborhood. You’ll be settled in your home and can take precautions—like setting up that new alarm system—before the next burglary season rolls around.

For sellers, less competition for your home can be a good thing if it means your home is safer from theft.

Great deals on stuff to fix up your home

Coordinate the timing right, and those items you need to fix up your home for sale in the fall or update and upgrade after a purchase might be priced to your advantage. Check Consumer Reports for a full list of the best times of year to buy everything, and keep in mind holiday and Black Friday sales. You could score some great deals at this time of year.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Ideas for Saving Energy with Your Smart Home

You may feel safe inside on a hot, smoggy day, but hidden dangers could be damaging your health right in your own home. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.3 million people a year die from exposure to household air pollution. Poorly ventilated dwellings, smoking around the home and fine particles can all negatively impact your health.

Although you can try to improve your home’s health by regularly changing filters and opening the windows to let in some fresh air, you need some smart home technology to help save energy. That will ultimately help you go green by cutting down on your energy consumption. As an added benefit, saving energy can also trim your energy bills and save some money in the process. Get started with these five smart home ideas for saving energy.

Control Your Smart Home Automation

Before you start your smart home journey, look at how you can control the automation process from the start. For example, smart appliances can help reduce your energy consumption, but you need a way to control everything from turning your lights on and off to adjusting your thermostat.

Automation can be controlled right from your smartphone or tablet. It’s also best to get a smartphone that works in tandem with a reliable network for controlling your home remotely while you’re on the go. For example, a phone like a Samsung Galaxy Note8 or iPhone 7 Plus can leverage apps like Wiser EMS or Nest Mobile. Just about every smart home product on the market comes with an app to manage from your smartphone or tablet so you can improve your energy efficiency whether you’re at work or on vacation.

Use Smart Climate Control

You can go beyond controlling the temperature of your home and actually control its entire indoor climate. The Nest thermostat doesn’t need to be programmed, and instead learns your habits and adapts the climate of your home to your life. The Nest can automatically adjust itself based on your lifestyle, the time you come and go on a regular basis, and when the season changes. You can even control the individual temperatures of specific rooms so your energy efficiency remains high.

After using Nest for a week, it can program itself and significantly reduce your energy consumption so you’re saving more on your electric bill. You’ll also get an alert from Nest to your smartphone app if something is wrong like the temperature is dropping low enough to make your pipes burst or the furnace is acting up.

Switch to Purifying Floors

You may already know that your home contains pollutants based on poor air quality and ventilation. But the materials your home was built with, or even its furnishings, can continuously emit toxic contaminants including formaldehyde.

Pure Genius flooring is made without solvents, volatile organic compounds or formaldehyde. It also uses light-activated and air-purifying agents made of titanium dioxide in its Titanium floor finish line. You can ultimately help purify your air, and reduce the energy needed to run fans and ventilating systems to freshen up your home. Another option for floors with an eye on energy efficiency is radiant floors with embedded tubing inside concrete to improve more efficient heating and cooling.

Update Your Appliances

You may have heard of energy-efficient appliances already, but may not have heard about smart home appliances that can save both energy and time. Smart appliances allow you to remotely program your washer or dryer to operate in the middle of the night to reduce the strain on the electrical grid. Meanwhile, an energy-efficient smart fridge like LG’s smart fridge can tell you that you’re out of milk and save you energy at the same time.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Home Inspectors Are Held To Higher Standards

A California appellate court ruling contains both good news and bad news for home inspectors. The good news is that, in the eyes of the court, home inspectors are in the same category as doctors, attorneys, accountants, and other professionals. The bad news is that being in such a category restricts their ability to limit liability in certain ways.

Armando Moreno and Gloria Contreras purchased a 49-year-old Whittier home in August of 1998. On August 18, Deric Sanchez, doing business as Aaero Spec Quality Home Inspectors, conducted an inspection of the property on their behalf. Moreno accompanied Sanchez during the inspection.

Sanchez’s inspection noted that the heating ducts were “serviceable”, although he did recommend that the buyers contract with a licensed expert to clean out the entire system, including filters.

The preprinted contract used by Aaero Spec contained a clause providing that any lawsuit arising out of the inspection had to be filed within one year from the date of the inspection. The contract noted that, “This time period is shorter than otherwise provided by law.” (Business and Professions Code section 7199 provides a four-year statute of limitations for home inspections.) Moreno, an attorney and licensed real estate broker, signed the contract and initialed the clause shortening the statute of limitations.

Escrow closed on October 8, and the buyers moved in a few weeks thereafter. In December, both began feeling ill. Moreno was ill for one week in December and Contreras was sick for two weeks. Her illness became chronic. Near the end of summer in 1999, a culture revealed she had a bacterial infection.

Subsequent inspections by other companies revealed, “… among other things, an unsealed air return which permitted the unit to draw dust, dirt and rust into the system. It also discovered dirt, dust and debris in the main return which permitted dust and dust mites to be distributed through the system and into the house.”

The buyers, of course, sued the inspector for negligence. Their suit was filed October 19, 1999. The inspector argued that the buyer should not be allowed to sue, because the one-year statute of limitations had run. To this, the buyer responded that the ‘delayed discovery’ rule should apply, meaning that the time period during which a suit is allowed should not begin to run until the alleged negligence has been discovered.

The Orange County Superior Court (held there because the plaintiff is a Los Angeles Court Commissioner) agreed with the inspector. The court noted that the delayed discovery rule applies to a variety of professions, but “…building inspectors really don’t fall into the same public-policy circles as lawyers and doctors, possibly architects, particularly when they are sued for malpractice, and it would be something of an extension, as I see it, to put them there…”

The buyers appealed, and the Second Appellate District agreed with them, reversing the Superior Court. The appellate court noted “…judicial decisions have declared the discovery rule applicable in situations where the plaintiff is unable to see or appreciate a breach has occurred.” It went on to say, “… justification for the discovery rule has not been restricted to regulated and licensed professions. Courts have also employed the rule of delayed accrual in cases involving trades people who have held themselves out as having a special skill…”

The reasoning is simply this. In the case of trades or professions that have special skills, a consumer may lack the ability or opportunity to recognize that negligence has occurred, even if the consumer is as diligent in observation as he is capable of being. In such situations, a statute of limitations should not begin to run until the consumer has discovered that, apparently at least, negligence has occurred.

The court held that this is the situation with home inspections: “…most homeowners will not recognize a problem has been overlooked, or noticed but not reported, until something goes wrong and the damage becomes apparent.” Thus, it held that the delayed discovery rule should apply.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

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