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Why Do I Need Earnest Money?

November 18th, 2020 by tisner


When you’re shopping for a home, it can feel like you’re hemorrhaging money. You’ve got all sorts of things to pay for, from loan application fees to home inspections, so when the issue of earnest money comes up unexpectedly, it can be a “slam on the brakes” moment. Now that the days of low to no down payments are largely past and markets everywhere seem to be running thin on inventory, earnest money may well be the most important negotiating tool you’ve never heard of.

What Is Earnest Money?

When you make an offer on a home, part of that offer can include a little show of good faith on your part, in the form of cold, hard cash. Generally, one to three percent of the offer price is pretty normal for an earnest money deposit, but this can vary pretty widely based on market conditions. And the more you put up, the better. But what happens to that money?

Earnest money is literally just a show of faith. When you go to the closing table, it becomes part of your cash to close equation, which includes other line items like your down payment, your closing costs, and your prepaid items. It’s not a bribe or an extra fee to convince a seller to sell to you. It will simply be applied in full as a credit in your closing documents, reducing the amount of money you need to bring with you on the big day.

Here’s the one kicker. If you were to decide to back out of the contract with no real cause, the seller may be entitled to some or all of that earnest money. However, plenty of situations exist where you may not be able to close, but your earnest money will be refunded, such as:

  • An unacceptable home inspection. This all has to be stipulated in your contract; there are no givens in a real estate transaction, but there are things that are pretty standard. Having an unacceptable home inspection, if the seller is not willing to make reasonable repairs, can be a cause for terminating the contract and getting your earnest money back.
  • Your financing falls through. Again, you’ll need a financing clause or addendum to ensure you’re covered in this event, but because financing is so important to real estate transactions in general, they are pretty standard. If your financing falls through due to no fault of your own (you’ve been laid off, your bank closes, a co-borrower dies), you should generally be able to reclaim your earnest money. The specifics will be in your real estate sales contract, so pay close attention.
  • The seller can’t close. There are a few rare situations where a seller can’t close the transaction. These are incredibly uncommon, but they do happen once in a while. For example, you might find out that the seller only believed they were the owners of the home. This can occur when a parent dies without a will, forcing the property into probate court even when it’s clear an only child will be the sole heir. And in the case that the seller can close, but chooses not to for whatever reason, you would also get your money back.

What Is an Earnest Money Note?

In some markets, you may have an additional option for earnest money, known as an earnest money promissory note. This is essentially an IOU that accompanies the offer. On the note, you’ll specify exactly when you’ll either turn the paper into actual cash or forfeit the offer entirely. Though these were once very common, they’re far less so today. If you choose to use an earnest money promissory note, be sure to describe in great detail why you’re not able to provide earnest money on the spot and how you will remedy this.

For example, if you have some stocks you were going to cash out for your down payment, but didn’t want to touch until you were really ready, you may need time to sell enough to cover the earnest money. In that case, specify this as the reason and say that you’ll initiate a sale on a certain day, then convert the note on that day. Make sure to leave yourself a little leeway, because if you fail to perform, you can suffer serious consequences.

Generally speaking, earnest money promissory notes can be considered a sign of a weak offer, but this varies from offer to offer and market to market and you should inquire before taking that leap.

Access Teri’s one-stop Orlando FL home search website.

Teri Isner is the team leader of Orlando Avenue Top Team and has been a Realtor for over 24 years. Teri has distinguished herself as a leader in the Orlando FL real estate market. Teri assists buyers looking for Orlando FL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Orlando FL homes for sale.

You deserve professional real estate service! You obtain the best results with Teri Isner plus you benefit from her marketing skills, experience and ability to network with other REALTORS®. Your job gets done pleasantly and efficiently.  You are able to make important decisions easily with fast, accurate information from Teri. The Orlando Avenue Top Team handles the details and follow-up that are important to the success of your transaction.

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By: Homkeeepr, David Weinstein

Weekly Market Snapshot 11/6 – 11/11

November 12th, 2020 by tisner

Access Teri’s one-stop Orlando FL home search website.

Teri Isner is the team leader of Orlando Avenue Top Team and has been a Realtor for over 24 years. Teri has distinguished herself as a leader in the Orlando FL real estate market. Teri assists buyers looking for Orlando FL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Orlando FL homes for sale.

You deserve professional real estate service! You obtain the best results with Teri Isner plus you benefit from her marketing skills, experience and ability to network with other REALTORS®. Your job gets done pleasantly and efficiently.  You are able to make important decisions easily with fast, accurate information from Teri. The Orlando Avenue Top Team handles the details and follow-up that are important to the success of your transaction.

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Stats courtesy of StellarMLS

Tax Benefits of Home Ownership

October 20th, 2020 by tisner


When listing pros of owning a home in comparison to renting one, many think of things like lower monthly payments for the roof over their heads, the freedom to renovate or simply paint as they desire, or the opportunity to finally have a garden of their dr
eams. Tax benefits, however, are not something many consider; learn about some of the main tax-related advantages homeownership can bring:

  • Tax deduction on mortgage interest:  when a homeowner’s mortgage is no greater than $750,000, the interest on that mortgage is tax-deductible.
    — In 2017, the IRS made changes to this deduction, reducing the mortgage limit. If your mortgage was taken out before December 2017 and is $1 million or less, this deduction applies to your situation as well.
    — Having a home equity line of credit (HELOC) that meets the above standards will receive the interest tax credit as well.
    — In case a homeowner has two mortgages that are each less than the $750,000 limit, but the total of those mortgages exceeds the limit, not all interest is deductible.  Learn more from the IRS Newsroom.
    — According to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this benefit will stand through 2026! 
  • When the home was purchased, were mortgage points used as part of the loan transaction? This may qualify for a tax credit. Use this handy worksheet from the IRS to determine eligibility. 
  • Many have used their homes for office space this past year, but not everyone qualifies for a home office tax credit.  Those who are independent contractors or self-employed are the only taxpayers allowed this credit. 
  • Your lender is required to include property taxes paid on the 1098 form they send at tax time.  Property taxes paid up to $10,000 are eligible for a tax deduction. 
  • If you are paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), the law to receive a tax credit for this has been reinstated as well as being retroactive. House Logic has more information about the changes and benefits. 

Do not miss out on these tax deductions!  Normally, hiring a professional tax preparer will get the most benefits for you if you give them all the necessary paperwork.  Keep in mind that using an online tax prep service will ask homeowner-related questions as you work through your return, and self-tax prep is generally less expensive, depending on the software company you choose.   

Access Teri’s one-stop Orlando FL home search website.

Teri Isner is the team leader of Orlando Avenue Top Team and has been a Realtor for over 24 years. Teri has distinguished herself as a leader in the Orlando FL real estate market. Teri assists buyers looking for Orlando FL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Orlando FL homes for sale.

You deserve professional real estate service! You obtain the best results with Teri Isner plus you benefit from her marketing skills, experience and ability to network with other REALTORS®. Your job gets done pleasantly and efficiently.  You are able to make important decisions easily with fast, accurate information from Teri. The Orlando Avenue Top Team handles the details and follow-up that are important to the success of your transaction.

Get Orlando Daily News delivered to your inbox! Subscribe here!

Photo credit: Desmond Wealth Management 

Contract Amendments and Addendums

October 15th, 2020 by tisner

Access Teri’s one-stop Orlando FL home search website.

Teri Isner is the team leader of Orlando Avenue Top Team and has been a Realtor for over 24 years. Teri has distinguished herself as a leader in the Orlando FL real estate market. Teri assists buyers looking for Orlando FL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Orlando FL homes for sale.

You deserve professional real estate service! You obtain the best results with Teri Isner plus you benefit from her marketing skills, experience and ability to network with other REALTORS®. Your job gets done pleasantly and efficiently.  You are able to make important decisions easily with fast, accurate information from Teri. The Orlando Avenue Top Team handles the details and follow-up that are important to the success of your transaction.

Get Orlando Daily News delivered to your inbox! Subscribe here!

Weekly Market Snapshot 9/17 – 9/23

September 24th, 2020 by tisner

Access Teri’s one-stop Orlando FL home search website.

Teri Isner is the team leader of Orlando Avenue Top Team and has been a Realtor for over 24 years. Teri has distinguished herself as a leader in the Orlando FL real estate market. Teri assists buyers looking for Orlando FL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Orlando FL homes for sale.

You deserve professional real estate service! You obtain the best results with Teri Isner plus you benefit from her marketing skills, experience and ability to network with other REALTORS®. Your job gets done pleasantly and efficiently.  You are able to make important decisions easily with fast, accurate information from Teri. The Orlando Avenue Top Team handles the details and follow-up that are important to the success of your transaction.

Get Orlando Daily News delivered to your inbox! Subscribe here!

Stats courtesy of StellarMLS

Can I Refinance My Mortgage?

July 2nd, 2020 by tisner


Refinancing a mortgage is a powerful tool that can help you to save money on your home payments. Refinancing your mortgage takes advantage of your positive payment history and may enable you to lock in lower interest rates, obtain more agreeable repayment terms, or lower the amount you pay each month. You may even be able to add in the cost of needed home repairs as part of your new mortgage loan.

As with any loan, you have to qualify for a refinance. There are a number of factors that can influence whether you are able to refinance your home loan, including things like the value of your home, how much you still owe, what your credit score is and how able you are to repay the loan. It can be more difficult to refinance in periods of economic turmoil, but even then, it isn’t impossible.

How Refinancing Works

While it’s pretty common for people to talk about refinancing a mortgage, not everyone understands exactly what’s involved with a refinance. Though it’s typically talked about as if it were a loan modification, a refinance is usually a new loan that pays off and replaces the original mortgage. The refinance loan has its own interest rate and repayment terms, typically based on the amount that’s remaining on your home purchase. It is possible to do what is known as “cash out” refinancing, however, increasing the amount that you owe to take advantage of home equity and get cash for major purchases, debt consolidation or other expenses.

While you can refinance with the same lender that issued your mortgage, this isn’t actually required in most cases. Many homeowners shop around at different lenders to make sure that they get the best possible deal on their refinance loan. While this won’t always get you a substantially better deal on a loan, in some cases the time spent comparing lenders can result in significant savings.

Major Refinancing Considerations

There are a number of things that can affect the deal you get on a refinance or if you even qualify for a refinance loan at all. Some of these are well known and will affect pretty much any loan you might try to take out. Your credit score can have an impact, as can your debt-to-income ratio and the stability of your job. The remaining balance on your mortgage versus the value of your home can also affect your ability to refinance.

This can make things a bit more difficult if you’ve spent time out of work or laid off due to factors outside of your control; you’ll need to be able to explain these breaks to lenders and prove that you have the means to repay the loan. Economic unrest may also make some banks hesitant to issue as many large loans, meaning that your credit score and income will have to be a bit higher than usual to net a good deal on a loan. This won’t apply to all lenders, of course, but the fact that this can have an effect is important to keep in mind when shopping around for a refinance.

Is It a Good Time to Refinance?

Deciding whether it’s the right time to refinance depends a lot on you and your personal situation. Some people refinance to get their finances under control or to cover needed house repairs, so these reasons will have at least some influence on the timing of the loan. If you’re not under this sort of pressure, then you have a bit more freedom to pick your timing. It never hurts to shop around and check on possible deals, though if you find that you’re having trouble finding lenders willing to work with you or aren’t seeing the money-saving deals you want, then you always have the option to wait for rates (and possibly your situation) to improve.

Finding the Help You Need

A refinance is only as good as the rates and terms you can find. Why not make sure that you get the greatest chance of finding the perfect loan to refinance your mortgage with? With HomeKeepr, you can find pros in your area that can help you get the best deal on a refinance while making sure you have everything you need to qualify. Sign up for a free account today to be on your way to a better loan tomorrow.

Access Teri’s one-stop Orlando FL home search website.

Teri Isner is the team leader of Orlando Avenue Top Team and has been a Realtor for over 24 years. Teri has distinguished herself as a leader in the Orlando FL real estate market. Teri assists buyers looking for Orlando FL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Orlando FL homes for sale.

You deserve professional real estate service! You obtain the best results with Teri Isner plus you benefit from her marketing skills, experience and ability to network with other REALTORS®. Your job gets done pleasantly and efficiently.  You are able to make important decisions easily with fast, accurate information from Teri. The Orlando Avenue Top Team handles the details and follow-up that are important to the success of your transaction.

Get Orlando Daily News delivered to your inbox! Subscribe here!

By: Homekeepr, Rob Morelli

Should You Refinance Your Home

March 17th, 2020 by tisner


When interest rates drop, many who are still paying a mortgage start thinking about refinancing their home. Other reasons why they choose to refinance; the desire to change to a fixed rate, debt consolidation, or hoping to lower their monthly payments. Whi
le all of these are good, sound reasons to refinance, they all have pros and cons.  

  • Lowering your interest rate can save money. It will not save much if you’ve already been paying on your home for several years, however, especially if you refinance with a 30-year mortgage. Investopedia says that going for the new rate is a good idea if you can reduce your rate by 2%. 
  • When credit card debt is included in a debt consolidation refinance, homeowners risk losing their home for unsecured debt if they cannot keep up the payments. Credit counseling would be a better step to take first if you are considering debt consolidation to pay off credit cards. 
  • Refinancing to lower your monthly payment sounds great until you realize that a lower payment only comes with a longer pay-back term and paying more interest in the end. 
  • Let’s say you’re making more money and would like to shorten the term of your mortgage by having a higher monthly payment. Nerdwallet suggests that you ask yourself a few questions, then decide if you should refinance or just pay more on your current loan every month. 
  • Has your credit score gone up? If so, find out if you can get a better interest rate as a result. Again, be sure you’ll be saving money in the end before you sign the dotted line. 
  • You can turn your home’s equity into cash with a cash-out refinance, and if the money is needed for some home improvements or investing, it may be a better way to get the cash. The drawback comes in when the return on investment doesn’t work out, and the equity in the home is lost. 

Closely examining your reasons and goals for refinancing will help you make this decision. Don’t forget to factor in closing costs and other refinancing fees. These can add up, just like when the house was first purchased, and may not be much of a savings at all when it’s all said and done. 

Access Teri’s one-stop Orlando FL home search website.

Teri Isner is the team leader of Orlando Avenue Top Team and has been a Realtor for over 24 years. Teri has distinguished herself as a leader in the Orlando FL real estate market. Teri assists buyers looking for Orlando FL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Orlando FL homes for sale.

You deserve professional real estate service! You obtain the best results with Teri Isner plus you benefit from her marketing skills, experience and ability to network with other REALTORS®. Your job gets done pleasantly and efficiently.  You are able to make important decisions easily with fast, accurate information from Teri. The Orlando Avenue Top Team handles the details and follow-up that are important to the success of your transaction.

Get Orlando Daily News delivered to your inbox! Subscribe here!

Photo credit: investopedia

Why Your Mortgage Payments Change

March 10th, 2020 by tisner


Your mortgage payment is probably the largest one in your monthly budget, and you assume it will be the same amount for the next 30 years. That may not always be the case, however, and that depends on a few factors. Be prepared for changes, and understand 
those changes: 

  • If you paid less than a 20% down payment, you are required to have Mortgage Insurance with FHA and USDA loans, while Private Mortgage Insurance is required with other lenders. In some cases,, these can be removed, and your mortgage payment will reflect the change. 
  • An Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) has a set interest rate for a certain amount of time, and after that time is up, the interest rate will vary. When the rates change, your payments will, too. Learn more about ARMs from Investopedia. 
  • Changes in escrow are almost unavoidable. What is escrow? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s definition: “An escrow account…is set up by your mortgage lender to pay certain property-related expenses.”  When property taxes or insurance premiums increase, your current payments won’t reflect that change, and that results in an escrow shortage. The shorted amount will be added to your loan payment, plus the new amount for adjusted increases. To avoid paying extra every month for the shortage, pay the amount in full as soon as you receive your annual escrow statement. 
  • What if you don’t have an escrow account on your mortgage, and you don’t pay your property taxes?  Lenders don’t want to foreclose on a home because of delinquent property taxes. To protect their money, they can add the amount to your current loan payment or open an escrow account for your loan. 
  • Homeowners insurance is a requirement when you have a loan on the home. If yours lapses, or you don’t have enough insurance on the house, lenders have the right to purchase a policy, called “forced-place insurance.” They will send you the bill for the premium, which is probably more expensive than your current payment.  

While escrow accounts aren’t always a requirement, it would benefit your budget to request one when you are applying for the mortgage. Keep an eye on your insurance information as well as your property taxes so you won’t be surprised when your monthly payment increases. Having an emergency savings account can help ease any of these burdens.   

Access Teri’s one-stop Orlando FL home search website.

Teri Isner is the team leader of Orlando Avenue Top Team and has been a Realtor for over 24 years. Teri has distinguished herself as a leader in the Orlando FL real estate market. Teri assists buyers looking for Orlando FL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Orlando FL homes for sale.

You deserve professional real estate service! You obtain the best results with Teri Isner plus you benefit from her marketing skills, experience and ability to network with other REALTORS®. Your job gets done pleasantly and efficiently.  You are able to make important decisions easily with fast, accurate information from Teri. The Orlando Avenue Top Team handles the details and follow-up that are important to the success of your transaction.

Get Orlando Daily News delivered to your inbox! Subscribe here!

Photo credit: taxact blog

Seven Tips for Avoiding Foreclosure

August 13th, 2019 by tisner


The loss of a job, divorce, a medical emergency or death of a family member can put homeowners in a financial bind.  You worked hard to buy your house and make it your family’s home.  Don’t let it get to the point of having the bank begin foreclosure proce
edings!  Here are some tips to help you save your home: 

  • First and foremost: call the bank before you begin missing payments!  If you have equity in your home, this is especially important. Once payments are late, or the lender has filed a notice of default, they will be reluctant or unable to work with you.  
  • Several agencies offer free credit counseling and can direct you to someone who can assist you with getting those finances in order.  The HUD website can put you in touch with a local counselor, or find helpful foreclosure information through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling®. 
  • Keeping your mortgage payments current is more important than paying credit card bills!  Sure, late credit card payments will affect your credit score, but a foreclosure will do far more damage to your rating.  Once you get caught up with the house payments, pay off the credit cards as soon as possible. 
  • Do you have any assets you can sell?  Letting go of expensive items that you’re not really taking the time to enjoy–a boat, for instance–can certainly cut monthly expenses, and any proceeds can go to your loan. 
  • In case you’ve already gotten behind, open every piece of mail that comes from your lender.  Many times, they’ll offer options as soon as the first payment is overdue, because they don’t want to foreclose on your loan as much as you don’t want to go into foreclosure. 
  • Resist any “quick-fix” offers you see on the internet, television commercials and junk mail, or even from so-called investors.  These “rescue mortgages” could be a scam and will cost you your home faster than a foreclosure can take place. 
  • If you see that you can simply no longer afford your home, get advice from an attorney whose specialty is foreclosure, as most will do a one-time consult at no cost.  You may also contact Legal Aid for a pro bono lawyer if you can’t afford it.   

Don’t be embarrassed about reaching out to your mortgage company and letting them know you’re going through a rough patch.  Being proactive before the installments become overdue will allow more options to be available.  Your house is your most important investment, and its home.  Do what you have to in order to keep it. 

Access Teri’s one-stop Orlando FL home search website.

Teri Isner is the team leader of Orlando Avenue Top Team and has been a Realtor for over 24 years. Teri has distinguished herself as a leader in the Orlando FL real estate market. Teri assists buyers looking for Orlando FL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Orlando FL homes for sale.

You deserve professional real estate service! You obtain the best results with Teri Isner plus you benefit from her marketing skills, experience and ability to network with other REALTORS®. Your job gets done pleasantly and efficiently.  You are able to make important decisions easily with fast, accurate information from Teri. The Orlando Avenue Top Team handles the details and follow-up that are important to the success of your transaction.

Get Orlando Daily News delivered to your inbox! Subscribe here!

Photo credit: debt.org

Should You Use Your Home Equity?

April 2nd, 2019 by tisner

Should You Use Your Home Equity?
If you have a good amount of equity in your home, and would like to make some home improvements, or need money to help you pay for a child’s college tuition, you may be considering using the equity in your home to help pay for these things.  Let’s look at 
the difference between the two so you can make the right decision before you sign on the dotted line. 

Home Equity Loan 

  • Basically speaking, a home equity loan is a second mortgage on your home, which is used as collateral by the lender.  
  • The lender usually bases the loan amount on the difference between the homeowner’s equity and the home’s current market value.  Investopedia can help you determine how much equity you have in your home. 
  • Most lenders allow homeowners to borrow up to 85% of the home’s total value, but only based on what portion you actually “own.” If you haven’t finished paying your original mortgage off, your equity will be less than someone who has paid off their home loan. 
  • A home equity loan will be paid as a lump sum and comes with a fixed interest rate. You will know how much you must pay every month, in addition to your current mortgage payment. 
  • Just like the initial purchase of the house, your credit needs to be in good standing, so have all your financial records in order when you meet with your lender. 

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) 

  • HELOC’s are a second mortgage as well, but instead of a lump sum, the homeowner typically has a five-to-ten-year “draw” period where they have access to the amount of the credit. 
  • During the draw period, some lenders allow interest-only payments on the amount, while some require principle-plus-interest payments. Either way, pay more than the minimum so the principal can be paid off before the repayment period. 
  • Once the draw period is over, repayment of what credit you have used will begin.  Keep in mind that these payments will be higher than the earlier amounts you’ve been paying. 
  • Your line of credit can be used for anything, but if you’re thinking about an island getaway, or some other non-essential purchase, you are better off starting a savings fund.  If you can’t meet the payments once the draw period is over, you could lose your home to foreclosure.  
  • In some cases, a lender will close your line of credit early if your circumstances change.  If you’re using that money to pay your child’s college tuition, you’ll no longer have access to it, creating financial strain. 

Before deciding to use either of these types of credit, find out if using the equity in your home is the right way to go.  If you’re already having a hard time paying the bills, a home equity loan or HELOC will only put your further in debt.  Contact a HUD-certified financial counselor to help you get your debt and other financial matters under control. 

Access Teri’s one-stop Orlando FL home search website.

Teri Isner is the team leader of Orlando Avenue Top Team and has been a Realtor for over 24 years. Teri has distinguished herself as a leader in the Orlando FL real estate market. Teri assists buyers looking for Orlando FL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Orlando FL homes for sale.

You deserve professional real estate service! You obtain the best results with Teri Isner plus you benefit from her marketing skills, experience and ability to network with other REALTORS®. Your job gets done pleasantly and efficiently.  You are able to make important decisions easily with fast, accurate information from Teri. The Orlando Avenue Top Team handles the details and follow-up that are important to the success of your transaction.

Get Orlando Daily News delivered to your inbox! Subscribe here!

Photo credit: cnbc.com

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