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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving is Always in Season

Thanksgiving250.jpgMost school children would probably say that Thanksgiving dates back to the Pilgrims at Plymouth as early as 1621. By the late 1660’s, it had become traditional to hold a harvest festival in New England.

President George Washington declared the first nation-wide thanksgiving in 1789 “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”

One hundred fifty years ago during the Civil War, in October, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first national day of Thanksgiving.

William Seward, Lincoln’s secretary of state, drafted the proclamation: “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God…they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”

Even though the country was in the middle of the costly Civil War, the people of America started an enduring tradition to give thanks. In 1941, Congress determined that Thanksgiving will be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.

We wish you peace and happiness this Thanksgiving.


Peggy and Dave


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Refinance to Remove a Person

refinance 250.jpgMost people are familiar with the various reasons a homeowner refinances their home which generally result in two major benefits: saving interest and building equity. 

There is however another reason to refinance which may not be as common which is to remove a person from the loan. In the case of a divorce, when one party wants to keep the home and the other party wants their equity out of the home, it is possible for the remaining party to refinance the home. If the equity is sufficient to justify it and the remaining owner can qualify for the new loan, the refinance can provide the proceeds to buy out the other spouse.

Refinancing to remove a person from the loan could also involve a situation where two or more heirs jointly own a property and have differing opinions on when to sell. The same situation could apply to a rental property with multiple owners and the refinance would provide a way to buy out a partner.

Sometimes, it’s not about taking cash out of the home to buy out the other party. If a person’s name is on the mortgage, they’re responsible if it goes to default. One party may be willing to deed the home to the other party but it doesn’t necessarily relieve them of the liability of the mortgage they originated.

Many times, once a person has made their mind to move on, they’ll take the fastest and easiest way out. Removing a person from the deed or a mortgage is a reason to consider obtaining legal advice to protect your interests. Refinance Analysis calculator.

Reasons to Refinance

1. Lower the rate
2. Shorten the term
3. Take cash out of the equity
4. Combine loans
5. Remove a person from a loan

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Who's Paying Your Mortgage?

who is paying your mortgageAs a homeowner, you obviously pay for your mortgage but as an investor, your tenant does.  Equity build-up is a significant benefit of mortgaged rental property.  As the investor collects rent and pays expenses, the principal amount of the loan is reduced which increases the equity in the property.  Over time, the tenant pays for the property to the benefit of the investor.

Equity build-up occurs with normal amortization as the loan is paid down.  It can be accelerated by making additional contributions to the principal each month along with the normal payment.  Some investors consider this a good use of the cash flows because interest rates on savings accounts and certificates of deposits are much lower than their mortgage rate.

In the example below, is a hypothetical rental with a purchase price of $125,000 with 80% loan-to-value mortgage at 4.5% for 30 years compared to a 3.5% for 15 years.  The acquisition costs were estimated at $3,000, the monthly rent is estimated at $1,250 and $4,800 for operating expenses. 

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Notice that both properties have a positive cash flow before tax.  The cash on cash return is the revenue less expenses including debt service divided by the initial investment to acquire the property.  The 15 year mortgage will obviously have a smaller cash flow and lower cash on cash but the equity build-up is significantly higher.

If the goal of the investor is to pay off the property to provide the highest possible cash flow at a later date, a shorter term mortgage with a lower interest rate will help them achieve that.  A simple definition of an investment is to put away today so you’ll have more tomorrow.  Sacrificing cash flow now, during an investor’s earning years, is a reasonable expectation to provide more cash flow in the future when it might be needed more.

Contact me if you’d like to explore rental property opportunities.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Emerging Trends of Today’s Global Buyer

International Luxury Real Estate
The world continues to grow smaller for today’s luxury buyer and as it does we can observe certain trends among the affluent of a given country. London, for instance, has become a hotbed for Russia’s elite, while buyers from Hong Kong are swooping up property in Sydney. The search for the foreign buyer has been one of real estate’s hottest topics of late. For more on the subject, check out this piece recently published in the Wall Street Journal – a must-read for anyone interested in the matter.

Last month, Luxury Portfolio members from around the world gathered in Venice for our annual International Symposium to discuss the latest in global luxury real estate and share insights and trends. The meeting featured sessions and panels from members around the world led by members from everywhere from Dubai, Mauritius, Istanbul, Bucharest and more. The consensus was that international buyers are looking for a “safe” investment. Traditional destinations of the world’s jet set, such as New York City and Paris, are the obvious markets being referred to here, but they’re not the only ones by any means. Delving closer into the subject, one such characteristic that remains prevalent among these safe markets is the presence of established academic institutions. Simply put, overseas education has become a driving factor behind the relocation of the world’s affluent.

University cities like Montreal, Vienna and Boston are experiencing their own wave of international buyers who invest in high-end real estate while their child is attending school and often turn a profit after graduation. Whether it’s luxurious “student housing” or a place for family to crash when in town, these purchases are fast becoming common practice for wealthy foreigners. In a recent interview for the Financial Times, Beverly Sunn, president of Luxury Portfolio’s Chinese member-broker Asia Pacific Properties, reinforced this notion. “Investors at the luxury sector are highly sophisticated and look to invest in major cities to meet the educational requirements of their children,” remarks Sunn.

Of course, cities with strong academic reputations aren’t the only place experiencing an influx of foreign activity; it’s just where the smart money is investing.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

All Dollars Not Equal

home money.jpgThe division of assets between the spouses is an important decision to finalize a divorce.  The exercise looks relatively simple: assign a value for each of the assets and divide them based on a mutual agreement between the parties.

The challenge is to make a fair division which requires an analysis to determine their value after they’re converted to cash.

Assume the two major assets in the example, a retirement account and the equity in the home, are equal at $100,000.  It might seem logical to give the home to one spouse and the retirement account to the other.  However, if the person receiving the home decides to sell the home, the net proceeds could be considerably less than the spouse receiving the retirement account.

Let’s pretend that the spouse with the home negotiates a lower price of $475,000 due to current market conditions.  The former couple had owned the home for many years and refinanced several times, pulling money out of the home each time.  When the remaining spouse sells the home, there could be a considerable gain that was never recognized.

As a single person, he or she is now only entitled to $250,000 exclusion and would have to pay tax on the excess gain.  After paying the sales costs, outstanding mortgage balance and the taxes due on the gain, the remaining spouse would have net proceeds of $24,375 compared to the $100,000 that the former spouse received in the settlement.

The message in an example like this is to examine and consider the potential expenses that may be involved with converting the assets to cash after the divorce. Obviously, expert tax advice is valuable in making such decisions.