Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Invest In A Home

Most people have lots of things to save for but not always enough discretionary income after the family essentials have been met.
A relatively small investment in a rental home can control a good home that will easily rent, generate positive cash flows and pay for itself. The borrowed funds create leverage that earn a return on the total value of the home and not just the amount of cash you have invested.
The strategy is simple. Find a slightly below average priced home that will rent well. It will appeal to a larger group of people while it's rented and when it's ready to be sold.
Rent the home and maintain its condition over the years. As the loan amortizes and the value increases, the equity will grow. When your student is ready to start college, you'll actually have several options.
You can sell the property; pay the tax on the gain at the reduced capital gains rate and fund the education. Another option would be to refinance and take the proceeds to pay for the tuition. This would allow you to continue to own the asset but would free your equity and under current tax laws is a non-taxable event.
Regardless of whether you're trying to plan for your children's education or your own retirement, rental property offers many solid investment opportunities. Contact me if you want more information.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


“Replacement cost” insurance is a type of property insurance coverage that generally pays for the “depreciated” value of the damaged property.

Subsequently, the actual cost of restoring the property would most likely require additional funding from you to renew the property to its condition at the time of the loss.

If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to complete the repairs on the damaged property as soon as possible as most policies have a time limit for payout.  Also maintain accurate records regarding all expenditures incurred in the restoration of the property.

Call or e-mail Mike, Andrea, or Tessa at the Triplett Companies today for additional insight and information regarding the “replacement cost” clause of your property insurance policy.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Moving Checklist!

Apartment Guide Moving Checklist

Moving can be overwhelming. No matter how much time you allow, it’s hard to keep track of everything. This moving checklist will help you reduce stress, keep track of loose ends and stay calm, cool and collected while moving into your new place.
If your moving timetable is shorter than the one in this checklist, don’t panic! Just use this list as a guideline to keep you on track and adjust the weeks to match your timeline.
Start your apartment search today!
Six to eight weeks before your move
Four to five weeks before your move
  • Make a list of valuables and items that you will have to make special moving arrangements for.
  • Begin packing your belongings starting with the items you use less frequently.
  • Donate or throw away items you don’t need.
  • Start using up household items, such as frozen food or detergent, that you will not want to move.
  • Hire movers or arrange to rent a moving truck for your move.
  • Cancel or transfer magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
  • File a change of address form with the United States Postal Service.
  • Call your utility providers and make arrangements to have your utilities canceled after you move out. Utilities to cancel may include phone, power, water and cable/satellite.
  • Talk to your employer to make sure you can get your moving day off of work.
  • If you are moving to another state make travel arrangements for you, your family or your pets.
  • If you are moving in-state or in town, make arrangements for someone to watch your children and pets on moving day.
  • Get your driver’s license and car tags updated as required. Most states have online DMV guides explaining the rules. For an in-state move, you may be allowed to update your address online.
  • Call your bank and credit card companies and ask about the process of changing or moving your accounts.
  • Close any accounts you will not be transferring (savings, checking, safe deposit boxes, p.o. boxes, etc.)
  • Arrange for temporary storage of items if need be.
Two to three weeks before your move
  • Check with your moving company or truck rental company to determine what you can’t move. Make special moving arrangements for these items.
  • Return any library books and collect any items out for repair or cleaning.
  • Make a meal plan that allows you to use up food in your refrigerator, freezer or pantry.
  • Review your lease agreement to see what kind of cleaning is necessary when you move out.
  • Set up your utilities at your new apartment. Utilities to set up may include phone, power, water and cable/satellite.
The week of your move
  • Confirm your travel and pet/childcare plans.
  • Confirm appointments with cable or Internet services.
  • Order new checks with your new address.
  • Clean your apartment and prepare it for the check-out process.
  • Confirm moving day details with your moving company or truck rental company.
  • Withdraw any cash you will need to pay movers and get through travel to your new apartment.
  • Make a box of cleaning supplies to keep handy if your new apartment needs cleaning.
  • Pack the essentials you will need shortly after you move in a Priority Box.
  • Pack the clothes, toiletries and personal items you will need in the days following your move in suitcases.
  • Arrange and conduct your apartment check-out walk-through. It’s important to be present at the check-out walk-through to discuss any issues and make arrangements regarding your security deposit.
Moving Day — Leaving your old place
  • Finish any last minute packing, remembering to put any items you will need right away in your Priority Box.
  • Perform any last minute cleaning, and take out the trash.
  • Print out directions to your new home for you and anyone helping you move. Also, have a map in case you need to change routes.
  • If you are using professional movers, confirm payment method. Some moving companies prefer to be paid in cash on the day of the move, while other companies accept checks or credit cards.
  • Set out water or cold beverages for you and those helping you move.
  • Have someone watch your children or pets during your move, or designate a special area of your residence where they can stay during the move.
  • Set aside any boxes/items that require special care and might need to be moved separately in a car. It is also a good idea to move any personal bags, suitcases, and your Priority Box separately so you can get to any items you might need immediately.
  • If you are moving out of an apartment, talk to your apartment manager to see if you can reserve a space for your moving truck.
  • If you are moving yourself, pick up your moving truck and any moving accessories. Inspect the truck to make sure it is in good condition and that you have all the accessories you need. Make sure to pay attention to all the conditions you have to meet before you return the truck.
  • If you are moving yourself, load your rental truck carefully. Load the items you will need right away last so they can be unloaded first.
  • If you are using a moving company, give the movers any special moving/handling instructions. Review and sign any paperwork when your movers arrive. Make sure that you understand what you’re signing and ask questions if you need to.
  • Trade contact information with the movers so you can get in touch should something happen during transit.
  • Do a final check of your old residence making sure you aren’t leaving anything behind.
  • Turn off all lights, and turn off the thermostat.
  • Make sure that all doors and windows are locked.
  • If you are leaving an apartment, sign any final paperwork, perform any necessary final walkthroughs and turn over your key. Get a copy of any final paperwork for your records. Make sure to give your former management company your new address so they know where to send your security deposit.
Moving Day — Moving into your new apartment
  • Make sure you arrive at your new apartment before your moving van.
  • Check in with your apartment manager to perform an apartment walkthrough and get your apartment key, if you have not done so already. If you have made any special move-in arrangements, confirm those details with your apartment manager.
  • Check to make sure the necessary utilities have been hooked up.
  • If you are moving yourself, unload your belongings off your moving truck.
  • If you are using a moving company, take note of items as they are unloaded to make sure nothing was damaged in transit. Once all of your belongings have been unloaded, read and sign any final paperwork (inventory, bill of lading, etc.) Keep a copy for your records.
  • Pay and tip your movers.
  • If you are moving yourself, perform any necessary tasks before returning your rental truck.
  • Unpack your priority box and set up any furniture you will want to use that day, such as beds, chairs, etc.
Also, check out these articles for tips on what to do during the the first days after your move, advice on unpacking and more!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

FHA Loan Changed

FHA has announced a major change to its loan program which allows borrowers to cancel the mortgage insurance premium (MIP) when their unpaid balance reaches 78% of the original purchase price. While no specific date has been set for the change, sometime in 2013, new FHA loans will require the mortgage insurance for the life of the loan.
At existing rates, the monthly MIP on a $168,875 mortgage is $178.99 per month. Under the current rule with normal amortization, the MIP would no longer be required in 9 years and 9 months. However, under the new rule, it would last for the entire 30 year term.
They also announced that the annual MIP will also be increased from 1.25% to 1.35% at some point in the near future. HUD, the parent agency for FHA, is making the changes to restore the capital reserves of the program that are needed to fund failed loans.
People that can close a FHA loan before the change takes place will fall under the old rules for canceling MIP and the lower rates. Since no date was announced, it is not known exactly when the changes will take effect.
While this information will probably not make the evening news, it will have a big impact on borrowers planning to use an FHA loan. Please pass it on to anyone you know who might be considering purchasing or refinancing with a FHA loan.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Painting Your Walls? Find Your Color!

What’s Your Apartment Color Personality?

Paint your bedroom a soft color like green to feel more relaxed.
Color is one of the most important elements in life, and has a big effect on an individual’s mood and frame of mind. Decorating your apartment with color can be the best way to customize and create a space that’s all your own. But have you ever wondered what your choice of color means about you? Read on to find more about what your go-to decorative shade reveals about your apartment color personality.
Start your apartment search today!
Bold colors
Red is the strongest of all colors, and is indicative of excitement, warmth, vibrancy and high energy. Red is a very bold, in-your-face color that says a lot about an individual who chooses to decorate an apartment with it: confidence, no-nonsense and strong willed. Powerful and stimulating, decorating an apartment with red can really make it stand apart.
Yellow expresses happiness and optimism, and you might be a glass half full type of person if you choose to decorate with this bright, cheery color.
Decorating with orange can be risky, but those who incorporate elements of this tangerine shade in apartment decorating can generally be confident, social and adventurous.
Cool colors
Blue is one of the most popular decorating colors, and those who gravitate towards blue tend to be patient and understanding, as well as sensitive, wise and gracious.
Green is a color that denotes harmony and balance, and those drawn to green are often creative and mature types.
Fans of purple are often introverted yet open minded. If you are drawn to purple, chances are there’s a lot going on underneath the surface that you’re not letting onto. There’s more than meets the eye with purple types.
Neutral colors
People who favor black tend to enjoy the finer things in life, as this color is elegant, refined and sophisticated. A color that never goes out of style, lovers of black are often timeless and way beyond their years.
The use of white in decorating an apartment can be a bold move, as white is a color that is characterized by stark emptiness. Implying a sense of cleanliness and purity, those who gravitate towards white prefer simplicity and minimalism.
Brown conveys solidness and steadfastness. A subtle and masculine color, those who choose to incorporate brown into decorating are often responsible and dependable.
Gray is a very serene and composed color, and those who favor gray tend to be calm and reserved.

 Credit: iStockphoto/DanielBendjy 

Mold Exclusion

Most all insurance companies (carriers) have a “mold exclusion” in their property insurance offerings.

Mold damages should be covered as long as the “mold causing” event was due to an insurance-covered event, such as flooding, rainwater coming through windows broken during a hail storm, etc. 

Should your insurance company turn down your claim for mold-related repairs, consider hiring a “mold remediation” company to determine the age and source of the mold.  Of course, such a service may cost several hundred dollars. 

Call or e-mail Mike, Andrea, or Mandee at the Triplett Companies today for additional information and help in determining your mold insurance coverage.   


Monday, January 21, 2013

Water Bill High? Learn How to Save

Conserving water to be green while lowering your monthly bill to save green is a beneficial combination. Little things can contribute significantly to a large water bill.
  • Leaky faucets can waste over 1,000 gallons a year
  • Leaky toilets can waste 7,000 gallons a month
  • A five-minute shower saves more water than a tub bath
  • Water running while you brush your teeth or shave
  • Sprinkler heads need to be adjusted to spray on the yard only
  • Install a rain sensor on sprinkler system
  • Pool equipment can be a hidden source of wasted water
A larger than normal water bill can be your first indication you have a leak. Then, you'll need to track it down.
  1. Turn off all the water faucets and appliances; don't forget the ice maker.
  2. Open the water meter, usually located near the sidewalk in the front of the house. You may need a water key that can be purchased from a home improvement store or possibly borrowed from a neighbor.
  3. Locate the dial indicating water usage. It should not be moving since all of the water is off. If it is still moving, verify that you have turned off anything that might be using water.
  4. If it appears to be still, make a mark with a Sharpie and wait 15 minutes. If the flow indicator has moved, you probably have a leak.
  5. Now that you've confirmed that you have a leak, you may need help in locating it. A plumber or leak specialist may be able to help you track it down and repair it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sooner Is Better Than Later

Buyers who have delayed purchasing a home due to concerns about what might happen to the tax laws affecting home ownership should feel comfortable about getting back in the market. The recent legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President continues to value homes as a favored investment.
For a summary of specific real estate provisions in the "Fiscal Cliff" bill, click here.
Whether the delayed purchase is for a home to live in as your principal residence or to use as rental property, taking action sooner is better than later.
Reasons to buy now:
  1. The house payment with taxes and insurance is probably cheaper than the rent.
  2. Rents will continue to rise making the difference even greater in the future.
  3. Lock-in the principal & interest payment with a fixed-rate mortgage.
  4. 30 year mortgage terms are available to most borrowers.
  5. The mortgage interest deduction is intact for the majority of taxpayers.
  6. The capital gain exclusion for principal residences up to $500,000 remains in place.
  7. Prices are going up due to lower inventories and several years of low housing starts.
Contact me about any specific questions you have or information you need.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pre-Paid Interest "Points"

Pre-paid interest, sometimes called "points", is generally tax deductible when a person pays them in connection with buying, building or improving their principal residence. When points are paid on a refinance, they are not a current deduction but have to be taken pro-rata over the life of the mortgage.

For instance, if $3,000 in points were paid on refinancing a 30 year mortgage, deduction of $100 per year is allowed. When the loan is paid off or replaced by refinancing again or the home is sold and the mortgage paid off from the proceeds, the balance of any un-deducted points may be taken in that tax year.

Your tax professional needs to be made aware of any of these situations so that he can accurately reflect the deduction in your return. Currently, the most common situation is where homeowners may be refinancing their home for the second, third or even fourth time. If there are points that have not been completely deducted, they need to be treated in the year of refinancing.

For more information, see points in IRS Publication 936; there is a section on refinancing in this publication. For advice considering your specific situation, contact your tax professional.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Umbrella Insurance

The word “umbrella” is indicative of the type of coverage available to a client that would “cover” (as does the umbrella) him/her above her/him current insurance coverage levels.

 There are two types of such umbrella coverage.

 One type covers the client for claims above his/her current insurance policy coverage levels up to the umbrella level (say, any claim above the $100,000 current coverage up to the umbrella coverage of say $1,000,000 for an additional $900,000 coverage).

 The second type of umbrella covers all claims from zero to the upper dollar limit of the umbrella.  This type of umbrella coverage is often called “true umbrella” coverage.

 More and more individuals and companies are securing umbrella insurance coverage.  The price for such coverage is very reasonable and will provide considerable peace of mind to the insured.

Contact Mike, Andrea, or Mandee at the Triplett Companies and ask about umbrella coverage, its value for you and its cost. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cancelling Insurance

Do not assume that your insurance policy will be cancelled without any adverse actions if you simply do not pay your insurance premium.

By not paying insurance premium, the insurance company will cancel your policy after their stated grace time period, making your responsible for earned premium. Additionally, the carrier will most likely report your non-payment to a credit bureau therefore adversely impacting your credit score.  And it is possible that a lower credit score will negatively affect your ability to obtain “good insurance rates” in the immediate future.

At renewal time, if you choose to not renew your insurance policy, be certain to advise your insurance agent or insurance company that you do not intend to renew the policy. Your insurance agent will ask you to sign a cancellation form, and then your policy will be cancelled. 

Ask Mike, Andrea, or Mandee at Triplett Companies to ensure your policy remains in force or is properly terminated. 


Mortgage That Best Suites You

The low interest rates secured by borrowers recently on FHA mortgages may become valuable in a different way in the future. FHA and VA mortgage are assumable at the existing interest rates subject to buyer qualification.
Buyers wanting to assume an existing FHA mortgage must be owner-occupants and meet the current FHA guidelines. Applicants should have a minimum 600 credit score, total debt with house payment to be assumed not to exceed 41% of their monthly gross income and meet other standard income, credit and qualifying requirements.
The benefits are not only assuming a lower interest rate resulting in lower payments but the closing costs on an assumption are much less than originating a new loan. The fact that the mortgage is already into an amortization schedule and that lower interest rate loans amortize faster than higher interest rate loans make it build equity faster than a new mortgage.
When interest rates eventually rise, assumptions will provide an opportunity for buyers to lower their cost of housing significantly while improving their wealth positions.