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Using Your Credit Card Wisely

July 12th, 2022 by tisner


There are a multitude of enticements when it comes to choosing and using a credit card. Companies advertise rewards points, cashback on purchases, and airline miles, to name a few. Having a credit card can also have drawbacks if you are not responsible with that piece of plastic. Keep yourself in check with these tips:
 

  • Add extra to your minimum payment each month if you cannot pay the entire balance off each time. Compounding interest will increase the remaining balance as well having a negative impact on your credit.  
  • Make payments by the due date, because late fees plus interest on the balance will max the credit card limit, and it could take decades to pay it off. Set up an auto-pay plan or mail your payment one week before the due date. 
  • Rewards seem like a great reward, but in the end, interest costs add up to more than any rewards points earned. 
  • Interest on a cash advance begins as soon as the money is in your hand. Cash advances are loans and treated as such. Beware of “convenience” checks your card company offers, as they are cash advances in disguise. 
  • Protect your credit rating and your wallet by staying within your credit card spending limit. Maxing out the card or over-spending just a little will cost a hefty over-balance fee, as well as affect the credit utilization ratio. 
  • Keep your contact information current with the company, and check all correspondence from them, whether it be via snail mail or electronic communication. You do not want to miss important announcements, fraudulent activity alerts, or changes in your minimum payment due.  
  • If you are paying for everyday purchases with a credit card, it is time to get your finances under control. Using your credit card at the grocery store or to pay utility bills will help in an urgent situation, but only if you can pay the full balance at the end of the month.  

Two more things to keep in mind when using a credit card: the balance should be less than 30% of the credit limit, and monthly payments should be manageable for you. Credit cards should not be utilized as an extension of your income, but as tools to help build credit or keep your score in good standing.  

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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Photo credit: First Citizens Bank

Protecting Seniors from Scams

June 21st, 2022 by tisner


Scammers are getting more and more creative with their swindling schemes, and older adults are no exception.  Some scams target the general population, but many aim specifically at senior citizens, and we should make our older friends, neighbors, and family members aware. This article features five common schemes:
 

  • Fake Social Security Claims:  This scam can begin with an official-looking letter in the mail or a phone call. The caller informs the recipient that there is a problem with their Social Security benefits or suspicious use of their SSN and could stop receiving their monthly deposits if the requested information is not provided immediately. Remind your older adult that the Social Security Administration will never call asking for more information unless they have applied for benefits. They should simply hang up and call their local SSA office or file a report through the SSA Inspector General Office website. 
  • “Family Member” in Trouble:  Someone posing as a family member, most commonly a grandchild, will contact the elderly person and claim to be in serious trouble. The caller says that they need money immediately and will als0 stress not to contact their parents to avoid getting in trouble with them. In spite of their urgency, the senior adult should hang up or disengage and contact another member of the family, or call the person claiming to be in trouble to make sure everything is okay. 
  • Homeowner Scams:  Older homeowners are targeted because they normally live in a home without a mortgage and a higher value than the purchase price.  Property tax scammers will offer to send someone to re-assess the value of the property to lower the taxes, but for a fee. No matter how official the correspondence may seem, the homeowner should always contact their local tax office to make sure they are not being had. 
  • Deceased Spouse’s Fake Debt:  Fraudsters have no shame, and will go through obituaries, then contact surviving family members to claim that the deceased has an outstanding debt.  The best defense against this is to not give out any financial information, and most certainly do not pay anything. The estate handles any outstanding accounts, not surviving spouses. 
  • Medicare Scams: Phone calls come daily–to those who are not even over 65–claiming to be a Medicare representative.  The most common claims the caller will make are asking to verify information, saying the account has a refund flagged, or offering free medical supplies.  Simply hang up without engaging in conversation.   

Though it may be difficult, stress to the older adult that their financial protection is as important as their physical well-being.  Giving a scammer any personal information can result in identity theft and financial ruin, so it is imperative that no matter their financial status, older adults understand not to trust any phone calls that initiate a financial or personal information transaction. 

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: Senior Crossroads 

Weekly Market Snapshot 7/29 – 8/4

August 5th, 2021 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

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.

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

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

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