Posts Tagged ‘real estate’

Living within your means: Avoiding life’s spending traps

April 29, 2010

Just before the economic decline that began in the last quarter of 2007, the average personal savings as a percentage of disposable personal income for households in the United States hovered just below 1%.  Over two years later, despite high unemployment, the percentage remains seemingly unchanged.  Credit card debt.  Recession.  Real estate meltdown.  What relief do we have in the face of a steady stream of economic gloom?  We can start by setting aside money for future expenses as well as keeping in mind a number of spending traps.

What does it take to live within your means and avoid life's spending traps? Awareness of your financial situation, making sound financial decisions, and discipline to follow through with a carefully made budget are a good start.Paying off debt is much harder than taking it on

We dislike being confronted with this reality until the monthly statement arrives in the mail or their inbox.  While credit cards serve a useful purpose when used carefully and with responsible planning, we cannot forget how much they can afford to pay back.  Easy access to our money with debit cards and ATM machines do not help matters, but we can take a proactive step and setup a text message alert with our bank that notifies us of our account balance before making a purchase.

The allure of home equity loans

We like the fact that home equity loans are tax-deductible and that we can use the money to pay off a large debt like a credit card.  If we do not intend on using that credit card ever again, using a home equity loan would make sense.  However, if we fall into the trap of using our newly paid-off credit card and resume our spending habits, we would have the loan AND the credit card to pay off.

Spending unexpected income in your mind

Did you or your spouse already spend the extra money in your minds?  For example, you want to remodel the kitchen, whereas your spouse wants to take the family to Hawaii.  Before the money arrives, deduct any taxes from it, then work with the remainder.

Creating a “complete” budget

Does your budget include spending on food, housing, and transportation?  Yes, as it should.  However, is it complete?  No, especially if you excluded occasional expenses such as taxes, gifts, insurance, car repairs and family vacations.  How can you include occasional expenses practically in your budget?  Estimate how much these expenses will come to on an annual basis, then divide that figure by 12, allowing you to set aside enough money each month.

Budgets are a mutual agreement

You and your spouse are agreeing not only on the “complete” budget, but also on allowances for each of you to spend money on what is important to you or them.  Drawing up a budget that excludes these allowances would cause resentment and cause one to spend the money in other ways.

So what does it take to live within your means?  Awareness of your financial situation, making sound financial decisions, and discipline to follow through with a carefully made budget come to mind.  Understanding that using credit cards produces debt straightaway whereas spending cash is merely a reduction in assets would be a significant step away from falling into a spending trap.  You can borrow money against your home to pay off a debt, but make sure you never create that debt again, lest you have two payments, the original debt and the second mortgage, to make every month.  Finally, creating a complete budget that includes spending on regular and intermittent expenses, as well as allowances for you and your spouse, will help you both live within your means and be better prepared for life’s spending traps.

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Francis M. Unson

Short Sales: How they’re done and why

March 11, 2010

What short sales are, how they are done, and whyIf there are any services that Chris Gabledon, realtor for EXIT Realty SCV, can do well, processing a short sale is at the top of the list.

No doubt, since the economy began tumbling in the last quarter of 2007, much of the news we heard about the realty market shifted from the rise in property values and property-flipping by liquid investors to the alarming number of mortgages that have gone “under water”.  Highlighted in Michael Moore’s 2009 documentary, “Capitalism: A Love Story“, were the foreclosures and evictions of families from their long-time homes.  Some families, however, managed to escape foreclosure by undergoing a short sale.

What is a short sale, anyway?  According to Wikipedia:

A short sale is a sale of real estate in which the sale proceeds fall short of the balance owed on the property’s loan.  It often occurs when a borrower cannot pay the mortgage loan on their property, but the lender decides that selling the property at a moderate loss is better than pressing the borrower.   Both parties consent to the short sale process, because it allows them to avoid foreclosure, which involves hefty fees for the bank and poorer credit report outcomes for the borrowers.  This agreement, however, does not necessarily release the borrower from the obligation to pay the remaining balance of the loan, known as the deficiency.

If the definition had some “lawyerese”, here are the highlights:

  • Mortgage to date + proceeds from sale < balance owed on property’s loan
  • Selling the property at a loss is better than nothing
  • Avoids foreclosure, large fees for the bank, and poorer credit scores for the borrowers
  • Borrowers may still have an obligation to pay the loan

If you find that conducting a short sale is in your best interests, this is how it’s done.  Using the services of a realtor may ease the process:

  1. Verify the value of your property.
  2. Add up all the costs of selling the property.
  3. Determine the amount owed against the property.
  4. Subtract the total amount owing against the property from the estimated proceeds from the sale.
  5. Contact the lender or lenders.
  6. Ask the lender what its procedures are for a short sale.
  7. Sell the property.

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Francis M. Unson


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