Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Paying off a Mortgage - Yes or No

Paying off a Mortgage - Yes or No

For myself, having just purchased a home last year with a 30 year mortgage - paying it off sounds like a really long term goal.

But, for some - maybe it's not and there are some things that the"experts" recommend.

Hopefully your current mortgage rate is under 5% - if not, as a Realtor, I would highly recommend looking into refinancing that debt.  Most likely you could not only reduce your monthly payment, you could probably reduce your payment term.  All the experts seem to agree that making additional principal payments will pay down that debt quickly - so always keep that in mind.  With interest rates so low on mortgages, that is why you really need to look at all your debt and investments.

Some would say if you have a low interest mortgage - you might get richer by investing that extra money somewhere else.  Long term investors in stock owning mutual funds are currently hoping to earn far greater returns than what they are paying on their mortgage.  Then some will throw in the fact that the interest you pay on a mortgage is tax deductible - but that can be a whole other pro/con discussion we will not go into at this time.

If you have credit card debt - EVERYONE says you need to focus on paying that off first.  I GUARANTEE the interest rate you are paying on your cards is WAY higher than your mortgage.  And that interest is not tax deductible.

Financial advisers to those who have retirement on the horizon say to max out your retirement contributions before making extra payments toward your mortgage.  Preferably into an IRA or Roth IRA which have tax deductions and are tax-deferred.

Most also agree you should never pull money out of a retirement account to pay off a mortgage.  You will have to pay taxes on that money if it's a traditional account along with depleting your savings and possibly pushing you into a higher tax bracket.  Doing this without some serious consideration and/or counseling could leave you house rich but cash poor - and you will still have monthly bills!

Perhaps it is time to downsize.  As long as you are not in California - you might be able to pay cash for the smaller home or take out a significantly smaller loan.  If you do pay cash - you could potentially tap the home for an equity loan or reverse mortgage.  AGAIN - so not do either of these without professional financial counsel.

If you have paid off consumer debt and are funding your retirement - then it makes sense to focus on getting that mortgage paid down or off.  Remember the mortgage burning parties of old?  The most favorable argument for getting your mortgage paid off is peace of mind  - owning your home free and clear.

Best advice - have a professional financial adviser look at your overall picture and goals to determine the best path to follow.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Home Inspections - Be prepared

Home Inspections - Be Prepared

Home Inspections can be the bane of a Realtor's existence.  It can cause anguish to a home seller and anxiety for a buyer.  Here are some tips for all parties involved to help make this part of a transaction uneventful.

Sellers:  You might consider having a pre-listing inspection completed.  Surprises might be fun for your birthday or Christmas, but they are NOT fun when you are counting on a closing date and something in the buyers inspection throws a wrench in the whole deal.  Once you get the results - have your Realtor go over the report with you and note any items that a typical buyer would expect to be fixed.  Have the repairs completed by a reputable, licensed contractor and keep a copy of the invoice.  When you list the home, you can offer a copy of the inspection to any prospective buyer along with any invoices for completed repairs. This shows a lot of care of good faith to a buyer knowing you cared enough to be transparent about the condition of your home.  Who knows, they might even waive doing an inspection of their own.

Sellers:  You should pull out any permits or warranties you might have for improvements to your home. This is particularly important if you have recently replaced a roof, HVAC, major mechanical items, etc.  You will be disclosing any possible defects or past issues on your Indiana State disclosure - so if you have addressed any of these issues - be sure to have some sort of documentation.

Realtors and Sellers:  Once you list your home, have an accepted contract and a buyer has scheduled their own inspection there are some ways you can best present your home.  Have all pets out of the home. Make sure access to crawl spaces and attics are free and clear.  Be sure there aren't any burned out bulbs in attics, closets, etc.  Lastly - makes plans to be gone during the inspection.  Buyers typically will accompany their inspector and it is very uncomfortable to have you present during this time.  It can take 2-3+ hours depending on the size of the home.

Buyers:  Even though I recommended a pre-listing inspection be done by the seller, I am NOT recommending that you accept that report.  If I was representing you as a client, I would still recommend you complete your own inspection.  You know how they always recommend getting 2 estimates for any large item?  Well, you are about to make the largest investment of your lifetime - so a 2nd opinion is definitely warranted.  Once you get the results back, consult with your Realtor as to which items warrant asking for repairs.  Warranted items typically should fall into categories of "health, safety and habitability" issues. Cosmetic issues do not qualify as a warranted item.

It's all about communication - isn't that true about most of life?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Indiana is more than is seems

Indiana is more than it seems........

Created by the Indy Partnership and promoted by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce

Monday, March 31, 2014

Indianapolis Regional Economy - March 2014

Indianapolis Regional Economy - March 2014
Published by the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce
This gives a nice overview of what is going on in the arena of employment in our area locally while comparing to the state and the nation.

You can get more business information and announcements at their website HERE

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Indiana Fairs and Festivals, Now through April

Indiana Fairs and Festivals, Now through April

Shipshewana On The Road
2SatFort Wayne, IN
Peace Zone Arts & Crafts Show3/29/141SatEvansville, IN
Hello Spring Craft Show, O.c.c.3/29/141SatElkhart, IN
Parkinson's Smoke Out
3ThuEvansville, IN
Woodside Children's Center Vendor Blender4/4/141FriGreenwood, IN
Garden Gate Festival
2FriHuntingburg, IN
Blackhawk Manor Festival
2SatFrench Lick, IN
Purdue Spring Fest
2SatWest Lafayette, IN
Highland Parks & Recreation Spring Craft Show & Vendor Fair4/12/141SatHighland, IN
Crafty Bear Fare4/12/141SatMooresville, IN
Garden Gate Jazz, Art, Wine & Craft Beer Festival4/12/141SatHuntingburg, IN
Corpus Christi Crusaders Craft And Vendor Fair4/13/141SunEvansville, IN
The Fiber Event @ Greencastle
2FriGreencastle, IN
Heartland Creative Arts & Craft Show
5WedMerriville, IN
Wakarusa Maple Syrup Festival
2FriWakarusa, IN
Morel Festival
3FriMorgantown, IN
Indiana Fiber & Music Festival
2SatCharlestown, IN
Lake Central Band Boosters Spring Craft Fair4/26/141SatSt John, IN
Lanthier Winery Spring Celebration Festival
2SatMadison, IN
Earth Day Indiana Festival4/26/141SatIndianapolis, IN

Monday, March 24, 2014

Homeowner Associations (HOA's) - one size does not fit all

Homeowner Associations (HOA's) - one size does not fit all

HOA's can be self managed or enlist a management company.  The biggest issue is ALWAYS the enforcement of the covenants and bylaws.

Condos mostly deal with noise and parking.  Single family homes generally deal with additions, fences, landscaping and common areas.

The Board has a duty to reasonably enforce the covenants and rules and avoid risk liability.  At the same time, board members are residents - so it can lead to personal attacks and uncomfortable situations. 

Why the rules?  
Protecting values, required by governing documents, promoting harmony within a neighborhood and to avoid legal proceedings against the neighborhood.

Who typically breaks the rules?
Uniformed homeowners - be sure all property owners have a copy of the covenants and restrictions and are on some sort of distribution list for updates and meetings
Procrastinators - you know who you are!  Best to just follow procedure and be persistent.
Hardship - they are willing to remedy, but the pocketbook will not underwrite the expense.  May need some assistance to waive fines or arrange a payment plan
Defiance - just follow procedure to try to avoid escalation.  HOA's should have an attorney to consult in these cases.

There are usually architectural and behavior guidelines such as:  fences, mailboxes, pools, sheds, noise, parking, common areas, age, etc.

There should be regularly scheduled inspections of the neighborhood so that issues do not go undetected.  Working after the fact can make enforcement and compliance difficult.

An association's approach to enforcement is critical.  It should be timely, consistent and uniform.  Associations that allow deviations is putting itself and its future actions in jeopardy. 

HOA documents sometimes have a No Waiver Clause that means if they fail to enforce something in one case - it does NOT constitute a waiver of the right to later enforce that same rule or provision.

Avoiding violations is the most ideal situation and can be accomplished by:
  Education and communication
  New Member welcome package
  Email reminders
  Mailed annual meeting notice
  Review of governing documents for outdated and conflicting provisions

Summary of Best Practices:
  Educate residents and send email reminders
  Conduct regular inspections
  Review the governing documents on a regular basis
  Maintain a book of resolutions and rules supported by meeting minutes
  Utilize management companies and attorneys experienced in HOA laws
  Adopt enforcement procedures via a resolution
  Make enforcement uniform, timely and consistent
  Maintain D & O (Directors and Officers) insurance
More details can be found  HERE

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tax Tips for transferees, homeowners and other movers and shakers


Whether you moved because you got a new job, were transferred by your employer, became a first time homeowner or perhaps up sized or down sized - there might be some deductions you overlooked!

We all know about deducting those interest payments every year - mainly because our mortgage companies send us statements - but look through this list of tips if you actually changed residences in 2013.

The best advice is always to consult a professional and get it right the first time, but go to this link below to get some reminders of things you might have overlooked and forgotten to tell even the professionals!

Click HERE to see ALL the details

Monday, March 3, 2014

How to Pack Odd-Shaped Items when you are moving

How to Pack Odd-Shaped Items when you are moving
David Shapiro from North American Van Lines provides another segment for our blog........
When it comes time to moving to a new home, one of the most time-consuming activities is packing up your belongings. It can become even more difficult when the items you’re packing are odd shaped or fragile. David offers some great tips for packing some of those odds balls such as:
Framed art
China and glass stemware
Stringed instruments
Go to this link HERE for all the details ..............and get packing!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Central Indiana Transit Bill Update

Central Indiana Transit Bill Update
This issue has been thoroughly debated for many years and after a summer study committee in 2013 proposed and passed transit legislation, SB 176 was amended and passed the Senate on February 4, 2014 by a vote of 28-20. The Speaker of the House indicated "it's going to need some work", however, progress is being made. This bill is subject to change throughout the legislative process.
Also known as Senate Bill 176 - it provides for the establisment or expansion of public tranportation services in elegible counties through public questions placed on the ballot under ordinances adopted by the fiscal body of the eligible county.
See the complete article HERE
Get more details, proposed routes at the consumer webiste HERE

Monday, February 10, 2014

February and March Happenings in Indiana

February and March Happenings in Indiana
Follow the links below for more information - still plenty to get out and do, despite the weather!

NameDateDaysStart DayCity
Heartland Creative Arts & Craft Show
4ThuMerrilville, IN
Indiana Art Fair
2FriIndianapolis, IN
Shipshewana On The Road
2SatSouth Bend, IN
Parke County Maple Syrup Fair
9SatRockville, IN
23rd Annual Maple Syrup Festival 2014
2SatSalem, IN
Women's Club Of Newburgh Arts & Crafts Show2/22/141SatNewburgh, IN
Spring Fling Craft Show3/1/141SatElkhart, IN
Spring Fling Vendor & Craft Show3/2/141SunSchererville, IN
Indiana Heritage Quilt Show
3ThuBloomington, IN
Fiber Fest & Spin-in
2FriPortland, IN
Shipshewana On The Road
2SatKokomo, IN
Dugger Gun And Knife Show
2SatDugger, IN
Spring Jam Craft & Vendor Fundraiser3/8/141SatHobart, IN
Springtime In Indiana Art, Craft & Gift Showcase
2SatNoblesville, IN
Shipshewana On The Road
2SatValparaiso, IN
Spring Jam Lafayette Craft & Vendor Fundraiser3/22/141SatLafayette, IN
Shipshewana On The Road
2SatFort Wayne, IN
Peace Zone Arts & Crafts Show3/29/141SatEvansville, IN
Hello Spring Craft Show, O.c.c.3/29/141SatElkhart, IN

Monday, February 3, 2014

Announcing Your Move To Your Family

Announcing Your Move to Your Family
a guest blog by David Shapiro with North American Van Lines

Making the decision to move is often difficult for many of us. Whether it’s for a new job, to be closer to (or farther from) the in-laws, or just an adventure, it’s a lot of work to pack up your home, find a new school, get adjusted to a new city, etc., and the change that comes with moving can also be intimidating. Add to that the prospect of telling your family and friends you’re moving away and you may feel loaded down with stress before packing even one box.

Get the complete list of tips HERE 

Tips on :  How to break the news, feelings, questions, plans and more

Change is often scary, but it’s exciting too. You can help ease your friends and family members’ feelings toward this change when you approach it with honesty, forthrightness, and a good attitude.


David Shapiro is a marketing relocation specialist for moving companies like North American Van Lines. During his free time, he enjoys hiking, biking, swimming, and rock climbing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Annual Indianapolis Home Show

There is snow on the ground and frigid temps - must be time for The Annual Indianapolis Home Show!!!

From January 24th through February 2nd - get out of the cold and get inspired by the Fischer Homes centerpiece Home and all the vendors selling their wares to make your life and home what you'd always dreamed.

For more details click HERE
Discounts, celebrity sightings, vendors, etc

Be sure to visit us at our Prudential Indiana Realty booth right by the entrance to the centerpiece home. Enter the drawing for a $250.00 gift card!

Just for fun - here is a time lapse video of the construction process for the Centerpiece home. Quite the feat!