Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

The Truth About Security Deposits

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011




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Yesterday the Department Of Consumer Protection sent this out to the Realtors in Connecticut:

The Astonishing Truth About Security Deposits

The most frequently asked questions so far this year have been about security deposits. Many of you assume you know what the law is on security deposits, but because we have had so many calls about security deposits, we thought we’d clear up any misunderstandings.

Landlords frequently tell their listing agents they want their tenants to pay first month’s rent, last month’s rent, two months’ security deposit and a pet deposit, all at the beginning of a lease.

If that’s what your landlord thinks is legally correct, he is wrong. If that’s what you think is legally correct, you are wrong, too.

There’s actually a Connecticut statute that is just about security deposits. CGS §47a-21.

“Security deposit” is a defined term. It is “any advance rental payment other than first month’s rent and a deposit for a key or special equipment”. That’s any advance rental payment other than first month’s rent for a key or special equipment.

Notice there is no mention of a “pet deposit”.

Notice there’s no mention of “last month’s rent”.

First month’s rent is okay.

If the tenant is giving the landlord money that is not for the first month’s rent or a deposit for a key or special equipment, it is considered security deposit.

The statute tells us how much security deposit is allowed:
 If a tenant is under 62 years of age, the landlord may take an amount equal to two months’ rent.
 If a tenant is 62 years of age or older, the landlord may take only one month’s rent.

Adding it all up, the most a landlord can take up front is:
 first month’s rent,
 two month’s rent as security deposit, and
 a deposit for a key or special equipment.

That’s it. That’s all.

No pet deposit. No last month’s rent.

The landlord is required to deposit the security deposit money into an escrow account where it should remain until the tenancy ends when the landlord can use it to offset any damage to the premises caused by the tenant.

To read CAR’s Q&A on Security Deposits, go to www.ctrealtor.com, click on Legal/Forms, click on Q&As, scroll down the alphabetical list to Q & A on Security Deposits.

 

So if  you have been asked to provide anything more than what is allowed above, contact the Department of Consumer Protection.

 



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Stamford CT real estate…to list or not to list??? that is the question.

Monday, October 25th, 2010




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We all realize that it is not the ideal time to try and list your home, but if you are buying in the same area, say, Stamford CT for example icon wink Stamford CT real estate...to list or not to list??? that is the question. | CT Real Estate then your lowered house price will also be reflected when you buy your replacement house. Nothing is lost therefore – or is it?

Sometimes we can become aware of the fact that we really must move. Maybe the children are too big and we really need to move for that extra bedroom; perhaps there is a need for a bigger rec room, or an extra bathroom.

Many circumstances make house-moving come to mind, but have you worked out the cost of remodeling as opposed to the cost of moving? When we think about moving, we often think of all the irksome things about our home, but we do not remember all the conveniences that might not be available in the next home.

What about the qualities you really like about this home? Even small things like the sun shining into your kitchen in the morning are priceless to some people.

One of the first things to consider is your ‘gut feeling’. Do you want to move because you want to get away from something that is bugging you in that house? If so, think about including that in a remodeling project (as long as it is not an irritating neighbor!)

Write down all the things that are missing in the house you are in, that you know you can afford to buy in the next house. For instance, a third bedroom is one reason you must move, and you would like a big yard. But have you checked the prices of three-bed roomed homes with a big yard in your area?

Cost is really the biggest factor that we all have to takeinto account. Obviously the comparative costs of moving versus re-modeling may play a part.

It is easy enough to calculate the cost of remodeling, you simply ask a builder for a quote. (Use several builders.) If you are doing it yourself, then it will take longer to calculate everything you need to buy. Some hardware stores offer a quotation service. There are on line services for instance on the Home and Garden Web site, where you can pick out your kitchen or bathroom type, choose cabinets and colors of your choicer, one click and it all whizzes into place!

There are also short cuts you can take to get your dream kitchen, like just ordering new cabinet doors and drawers instead of refitting the whole kitchen. These replacement doors come in various price ranges starting from inexpensive white laminate up to classy dark cherry wood.

The cost of moving is harder to calculate, as it contains many hidden costs. For instance all the small costs like a day off work to move, the cost of moving boxes, the paint costs to touch up the outside of the house and those extra shrubs you will buy to make the yard look good.

The larger expenses are easier to spot, for instance: the fee to the realtor, the difference between the cost price of selling your home and buying the new home, the closing fees and legal fees for both houses.

Then there is the actual cost of the physical move, will it be by a removal company or do you plan to do it yourself? Once in the new home, what of drapes and any extras that will be required.

Once all the figures are in, and you have done the math, you may find it easier to make a logical decision and you also feel better in knowing all the cost factors involved – so there will be no surprises. If you do decide to sell, i would love the opportunity to provide a FREE no- obligation market analysis for your Stamford, CT real estate! Just email: nicole@thepropnet.com for an appointment!! icon smile Stamford CT real estate...to list or not to list??? that is the question. | CT Real Estate



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Distressed Homeowners. Options for your Stamford Short Sale.

Monday, October 18th, 2010




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Real estate is not always an easy venture to be involved in. Mortgages are huge loans, and monthly payments can be extremely steep. Especially with the trend a few years back to give out sub-prime mortgages, there have been a lot of foreclosures lately. But foreclosure should be avoided at all costs.
So let’s assume for a moment that you are unable to make your mortgage payments. You become a defaulted owner. Now what? Well, typically, your lending institution will foreclose its mortgage. If this happens, not only will you lose your property when it goes back to the bank, you will lose all your equity. In addition, foreclosure reduces your credit rating, leaving a permanent stain on your credit account. This can be extremely hard to remove, and may prevent you from ever borrowing again. Finally, you may even have to pay taxes on the debt reduction amount. So in trying to save money, you’ve only added another expense to your list of bills. All in all, foreclosure is a bad deal for you.
There are two main types of foreclosure, foreclosure by judicial sale (the type we have here in Connecticut) and foreclosure by power of sale. In the former, the court supervises the sale of the property. In the latter, the bank or mortgage holder sells the home. In a strict foreclosure, not in use in all states, the bank would assume the deed of the defaulted mortgage, without the obligation to sell. This method is less popular as few banks want to become landlords. Usually, by whatever means, the foreclosure involves the sale of the property. In Stamford, CT Foreclosures are Judicial.
If you are unable to make the mortgage payments on your Stamford, CT home, or in any other way are unable to fulfill the obligations of your lending contract, it is best if you sell your real estate as soon as possible. This may mean selling at a much lower rate than market value, however as a homeowner, you may be able to retain some equity from your home, and you will definitely save your credit rating. This is very important for your future real estate purchases, and just about anything else in your life. By selling your home yourself, with or without the help of an agent, you are keeping the power in your hands. Even if you come out of it with no equity, the chances of losing money is slim unless your home has become totally derelict. Even then, you are still better off selling it yourself than allowing a foreclosure to go ahead.
While in a stressful situation such as mounting debt, it can seem like the easy thing to drop everything and run. But as I’ve outlined, it is never to your advantage to let a property foreclose. The key to saving yourself from this fate may be an honest analysis of your expenses. If you can see a problem coming, you have more time to act on it. Rather than waiting to the last minute, put your home up for sale as soon as you suspect you will have trouble making payments in the future. The more time you have to sell, the more likely you’ll walk away with a fair price for your property. You may even be able to find another, cheaper home, and nobody will have been the wiser that you narrowly escaped financial disaster.

Nicole Borsey is a Stamford Short Sale Expert.

Contact her for FREE advice. There ARE options!!!



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Short sales-Protect your credit score

Saturday, October 9th, 2010




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It is in the news. Bank of America suspends foreclosures. This does not let you off the hook; you will just dangle a little longer. But it gives you time to start the short sale process and limit the damage to your credit history. Remember, a foreclosure stays with you forever, can affect your security clearance, and can even affect the value of your neighbor’s homes. Contact me now if you have a hardship and can not maintain your mortgage payments.



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7 reasons to own your home

Friday, October 8th, 2010




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1. Tax breaks. The U.S. Tax Code lets you deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage, your property taxes, as well as some of the costs involved in buying your home.

2. Appreciation. Real estate has long-term, stable growth in value. While year-to-year fluctuations are normal, median existing-home sale prices have increased on average 6.5 percent each year from 1972 through 2005, and increased 88.5 percent over the last 10 years, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. In addition, the number of U.S. households is expected to rise 15 percent over the next decade, creating continued high demand for housing.
3. Equity. Money paid for rent is money that you’ll never see again, but mortgage payments let you build equity ownership interest in your home.

4. Savings. Building equity in your home is a ready-made savings plan. And when you sell, you can generally take up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple) as gain without owing any federal income tax.

5. Predictability. Unlike rent, your fixed-mortgage payments don’t rise over the years so your housing costs may actually decline as you own the home longer. However, keep in mind that property taxes and insurance costs will increase.

6. Freedom. The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and benefit from your investment for as long as you own the home.

7. Stability. Remaining in one neighborhood for several years gives you a chance to participate in community activities, lets you and your family establish lasting friendships, and offers your children the benefit of educational continuity.

Online resources: To calculate whether buying is the best financial option for you, use the “Buy vs. Rent” calculator at www.GinnieMae.gov.

*Reprinted from REALTOR magazine, with permission of the National Association of Realtors. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.



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8 Tips to Guide You on Your Home Search

Thursday, October 7th, 2010




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1. Research before you look. Decide what features you most want to have in a home, what neighborhoods you prefer, and how much you’d be willing to spend each month for housing.

2. Be realistic. It’s OK to be picky, but don’t be unrealistic with your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Use your list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.
 

3. Get your finances in order.Review your credit report and be sure you have enough money to cover your down payment and closing costs. Then, talk to a lender and get pre-qualified for a mortgage. This will save you the heartache later of falling in love with a house you can’t afford.

4. Don’t ask too many people for opinions. It will drive you crazy. Select one or two people to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion, but be ready to make the final decision on your own.

5. Decide your moving timeline. When is your lease up? Are you allowed to sublet? How tight is the rental market in your area? All of these factors will help you determine when you should move.

6. Think long term. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in this home for a longer period? This decision may dictate what type of home you’ll buy as well as the type of mortgage terms that will best suit you.

7. Insist on a home inspection. If possible, get a warranty from the seller to cover defects for one year.

8. Get help from a REALTOR®. Hire a real estate professional who specializes in buyer representation. Unlike a listing agent, whose first duty is to the seller, a buyer’s representative is working only for you. Buyer’s reps are usually paid out of the seller’s commission payment.

*Reprinted from REALTOR Magazine, with permission of the National Association of Realtors.


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Open House

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010




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Open House 1-4pm.

-By your Staff Writer for the Property Network, Matt Giles

I spent the day with my fiancé running around to all the open houses in our area. There was a lot to see and some nice and some disturbing finds. Either way we are just one step closer to buying a new home.

First we plotted our plan of attack. We spent Saturday night on the computer looking for all the open houses in our area and surrounding areas. And boy did I get lucky….not like that; I got lucky because all the open houses were in the town I want to live in over the towns she likes.

We were on the computer looking at all the different houses we could afford and that we liked. She looks at the layout and how updated the kitchen was and I look to see if there is a sewer over septic and what the other utilities there are. When it comes to heating the house I would like natural gas over propane or oil and I will put my foot down on electric heat. I lived in Boston in an apartment with electric heat and our bills were almost as high as rent and it was never warm.

So anywho, after studying each picture and seeing what each listing had to offer we decided we would make an afternoon out of open house hunting. What I found out was some of these realtors try to lure you in with cookies. One had a big tin of sugar cookies and another was baking chocolate chip cookies why we were walking around. Very clever marketing ploy. Make the chubby out of shape writer want cookies and a place to live.

Now, I’m sure some of you have had this experience before. I’m not ashamed to admit before my relationship now I tried the whole internet dating thing. With that experience I found out that most of the time the person in the picture is not what you see when you actually meet. That is exactly what was happening today.

Every place we saw in the pictures looked like the ideal place to live. Just paint, maybe some updates in the kitchens but nothing to bad. In real life every place we saw needed all the carpets ripped out from one foul funk to another (now I know why she was baking cookies to cover up the stench of something).

The other thing I noticed was all the awful touch up spots that people tried to touch up either spackle or paint. Oh man, hire a professional to do the work if you don’t know how. It just looks horrible when what are supposed to be smooth walls are textured from the lack of patience to sand the spackle before you paint it.

The last thing is buy some caulk. Houses settle causing nail pops and things to move. Sometimes trim will separate off the wall from the house settling and the trim guy missing a stud when he nailed it on. Caulk fixes that problem and makes it look nice. Most trim is painted white so if you by white caulk and spend a few hours on a Saturday re-caulking it will help when people walk through.

That is one of the first things I notice, big black gaps against white trim. Just looks bad. I get not going through the hassle of fixing nail pops (nailing the nail in, spackling, sanding, spackling again, sanding, and than painting the whole wall so it blends), but get the caulk and have fun.

Needless to say we did not find first home lust or love today. We found a lot of places that needed a lot of work before we could move in. So now we are going to be setting up times to go see all the other houses to see how they compare from the pictures. I’m just hoping at least one looks better than the pictures this time.

-Matt Giles, Staff Writer for the Property Network, Freelance writer for hire. For more info visit www.mdgcopywriting.com



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4/20/10

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010




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We made an offer on our first house!!!

-By your Staff Writer for the Property Network, Matt Giles

And than we pulled the offer the next day. We have been looking for a while now trying to find a nice compromise of the fixer upper I want and the condo living she would like. We found a nice 3 bedroom starter home that would require some work but wasn’t over whelming with the amount of work it would need.

The only down side of this house was there wasn’t much of a buffer zone. If you don’t know what a buffer zone is, it’s how close you live to your family. In this case it was close to her family. I love her family to death, but there are one or two uncles and aunts who would love to just drop by un-announced every chance they got. But that is not why we pulled our offer.

When we first went to see the house, it was me, my girl, her mother, and of course the only realtor you could every want to use (wink, wink).  We walked through the house and I did not notice anything major going on as far as needs to fix up. In the description they said it was a newer roof, which I think either they lied or they did not vent the roof properly because of the bubbling of the shingles.

Roof doesn’t scare me, I could handle that. They never tiled the kitchen and again it may be killer on my knees but still I can handle it. Of course we would have to paint every room and my girl would want to change out the counter top because it is an ugly blue that matches nothing in the kitchen. All things I was fine with.

So we decided to make the offer. We went and signed what felt like a thousand copies of everything. My hand started cramping up but it’s all part of the process (so I am told).

The next day I wanted to have my brother who is in construction, her brother who is in construction, my dad who is in construction and her brother’s business partner (guess what he does???? Yup construction) come and look at the house.

With all of us walking through the kitchen at one time we started to notice a bit of a bounce in the floor. It almost felt like we were on a boat with the bounce and sway of the floor. This drew a lot of suspicion, so we ventured downstairs to the basement.

What we found was old framing, which I was fine with. But what did bother me was the columns they used to support the house were the temporary columns you use until you get the cement filled lally columns, they never got the lally columns and cemented the temporary columns into the floor. Than as we looked down the floor joist they were all rolling away from the house. That is why there was such a bounce in the floor with the more weight in kitchen.

The reason they never tiled the floor was because with that kind of bounce in the floor the tiles could pop up and break. What was supposed to be a non-fixer upper was going to need some major work to get the structure sound. Nothing was going to be a quick fix and because it was an old house a lot of headaches.

So I called my girl and she gave permission to pull the offer. So now we are back to the drawing board and looking for our first home. The process is not fun, but I am sure well worth it in the end.

-Matt Giles, Staff Writer for the Property Network, Freelance writer for hire. For more info visit www.mdgcopywriting.com



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We had the “talk”

Saturday, March 27th, 2010




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We had the “talk”

-By your Staff Writer for the Property Network, Matt Giles

Yup we had the “talk” and man was it embarrassing. My finances are a mess. My bookkeeping is even worse. Apparently stacking my un-opened bank statements for the last 3 years was enough to put my fiancé over the edge.

She wanted to know how come I don’t open the bank statements and I was thinking why would I??? No news is good news and besides it’s not like they send me money in a bank statement. Than somewhere around the August of 09’ statement she opened there was a check from the bank because they messed up and owed me money. A whopping 8 whole dollars and best of all the check expired as of March 1st.  Whoops.

I see her point of when buying a house every little bit counts, especially what little bit I am contributing because of my start up of my new freelancing writing career. Who would have thought starting a business during the recession wouldn’t bring in money hand over fist??? In my defense I started my business a month before the market crash so I really had no idea what was coming, but still those excuses only get me so far.

It is soooooo important when buying a house with someone to just lay all your finances out on the table. No matter how painful or embarrassing it is. I went from good money to making what I made in high school working at a pancake house, so it was definitely embarrassing. Knowing what your income is and what your expenses are will help you figure out what you can afford when it comes to buying a house.

We figured out we were looking in a price range almost $50,000 higher than what we should have been. We still have a lot of options in our price range, but when you figure on something way more than what you actually have it kind of breaks your heart when reality smacks you in the face.

I’m just glad we didn’t fall in love with any of the houses we looked at in that price range. We only had lust. But even at that the lust was for a place that was even higher than our original price we thought we could afford. My fiancé was a little crushed when that place sold before we even had chance to get our stuff together.

As they say in the business “whatever will be, will be.” Just be prepared for whatever it is. And start getting prepared by sorting through all of your finances and get everything in order. Remember we are in a “prove it” mortgage world. Whatever you say you made last year you better be able to prove it to them when they ask.

-Matt Giles, Staff Writer for the Property Network, Freelance writer for hire. For more info visit www.mdgcopywriting.com



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Flip That House!

Sunday, March 14th, 2010




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Flip That House!

-By your Staff Writer for the Property Network, Matt Giles

If you can afford to buy, renovate and sell a house right now, good for you! You are doing way better than most people. Flipping houses is a great way to make money and with this economy, now is the time to buy.

The ideal situation is to buy now, fix it up and rent until the real estate market comes back into full swing, then sell. Even if you buy now and sell it is worth it. But just remember the market is what it is right now, so don’t expect to be making a fortune on flips, unless you buy something really low and sink some money into it and sell for a moderate price.

Now, if I were you and could flip houses the first thing I would do is make buddy-buddy with a real estate agent (I would suggest Nicole Borsey, she is the only real estate agent I would trust with a project like this). Real estate agents get the listings first and by making friends with one or two can help get you the inside tip to a great buy. Plus they are always full of great suggestions to get the most bang for your buck on renovations.

Foreclosures and bank owned properties are a great place to start. Banks just want enough money so it is not a loss for them. So if the house is worth $300,000 but the bank only needs a $150,000 to cover the rest of the mortgage, you can probably get the house for around a $150k. This is sweet because it already puts you a head of the game when it comes time to resell.

Know your numbers. What you can afford to put into the house and what you will get out of the house. Go over the numbers with your contractor and than go over them again. Don’t go over. Stick to the numbers.

Once you find your property and get your mortgage, you have to really look at what is worth fixing in the house. Is it going to be a good return on investment??? Kitchens and bathrooms are usually the money makers. You give a kitchen a make over and it is usually instant relief when someone walks into the house.

*****Remember if you open up the walls, whatever you find behind the sheetrock has to be brought up to code if it is below code standards. So opening up the walls can be a gamble, if you find that you need to up date all the electric and plumbing the price of poker just went up.******

Finding a contractor you can trust is worth it’s weight in gold. Some contractors are willing to work with you if they know they are getting more work on the next house. Having a contractor who is consistent, uses good sub contractors and can get the work done quick, clean, and at a good price is key to flipping houses.

If you are going to do the work yourself on nights and weekends, flipping a house is not a quick process. There are advantages to doing it yourself if you are capable of doing the work. If you are not…by all means don’t be ashamed to hire someone. I have friends that think they are more “handy” than they really are around the house. They cause more damage and make the job cost twice as much if they hired someone. Figure out what your time is worth and where you make more money, being a contractor or doing whatever it is you do everyday. More than likely you will make more money at your job rather than the contactors.

Finally, don’t pull a Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, DON’T FALL IN  LOVE! It’s a flip. You come in, do the work and get out. No need to get emotionally involved in the house. The house knows what you are using it for; it’s why you paid for it in the first place. You wanted something quick. It’s nothing personal, it’s a business deal. You are in it to make money, remember that.

-Matt Giles, Staff Writer for the Property Network, Freelance writer for hire. For more info visit www.mdgcopywriting.com



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