Category Archives: The Charlotte Market

How to Buy a Better House for Less Than Paying Rent + Reduce Your Taxes Every April 15

You can buy a better home than your current rental property and reduce your tax bill every April 15th.

Many renters who’ve never owned a home are unaware of the specific benefits of home ownership.  Not only will owning a well-chosen home help you grow an appreciating asset increasing your overall net worth, but it can also reduce your taxable income and reduce your tax liability every April 15.  The end result is that the home you purchase will cost LESS per month than the rental over the year, and you’ll have a better property with no chance of price increase, and control over what you do to make it home.

Here’s how it works:

Screenshot 2016-04-03 14.46.40

In this example, the future home owner is paying rent perhaps between $1100 – $1300.  It’s possible to purchase a home for $265,000* and pay a mortgage payment equivalent of only $1316 with the Estimated Tax Benefit.  That includes:

Principal, Interest, Taxes Insurance and PMI.

What would you rather pay?

  1. $1300 a month on a property that can never be yours or increase your net worth OR pay
  2. $1316 a month for a beautiful property that’s yours?

You’ll be paying someone’s mortgage, why not pay your own and also reduce your taxes to Uncle Sam?!

For a private and confidential strategy session meeting, give me a call.  704.562.1030 Text for Faster Service

*This specific scenario figures a down payment amount of $9,276 and up front PMI Fee of $4,475 at an interest rate of 3.875%, dependent on the borrower’s personal credit scores.

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My first experience calling a REALTOR® ended in him hanging up the phone on chrystal (2)me.  Turns out, I ‘didn’t make enough money’ as a college student to be worth his time.  I didn’t give up! I found a builder, built a brand new home, and never looked back.  Call me.  We’ll see what you need to put into place to move from renter to homeowner!  Late is not too late.

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Avoid Foreclosure – AND the Tax Man

stop-foreclosure1Have you ever wondered why some foreclosures sit on the market for what seems like forever and others are foreclosed on right away? The homeowner who has diligently paid their mortgage on time year after year and have built up equity in their home are foreclosed on first! The bank sees the value and plans to make back their money AND get your equity when they auction off your home.

Other homeowners who have little or no equity are allowed to remain in the home without payment sometimes for years!  Banks know they will reduce the incidences of vandalism and have someone who may keep up the home for free if they are allowed to remain.  It also allows the market to appreciate over that time so that a future sale will be more profitable for the bank.

Then, if that’s not enough, the IRS will charge you income tax on the loan amount

tax man in the form of a 1099 Miscellaneous. Your foreclosed loan is taxed as earned income in that single tax year!

Unfortunately sellers lose their home and their equity to banks all the time and then have the double jeopardy of having to pay an additional tax in already distressed situation.

You have options the bank doesn’t want you to know about.  I can help. Call me or go online here and answer a few questions, and I’ll work with you to get what you want for your home and get you moving forward again. I am a REALTOR®, but this is not about listing your home for sale.  I am also an investor and this is about getting you what you want for your house, helping you prevent foreclosure and the taxman. Don’t wait until you’re more than two to three months behind.  Then, it’s much harder to help you get what you want for your house.

cbs isaPlease call me as soon as you know you can’t make your payment.  I’ll ask a few confidential questions by phone to see if my team and I can help, and schedule a visit to see your property.  Call or email me today.  Click this link to see the questions.  My team and I can help you prevent foreclosure, the taxman and get you moving forward.

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Here’s a testimonial from a loyal fan:

‘Chrystal, your experience and professionalism helped me prevail through difficult times in the listing and sale of my long-time family home.

From creating professional marketing materials including onsite brochures, online photo tour, and email blasts, promotion of my listing through TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and YouTube.com, to showing the house 6 of the 24 times it was shown, you were on the job.

After the property was under contract, your previous experience and successful resolution of similar problems discovered during the home inspections helped me work through a difficult transaction that included a breakdown in communications, unexpected property conditions and lender required repairs, and keeping the buyer on track with lending requirements and in love with the house until closing.

I couldn’t have done it without you.  It’s my pleasure to recommend your real estate services to everyone I know.’

Tony Sweatt, Fort Mill, South Carolina

Navigating a Charlotte Area Short Sale

Prior to listing a property for sale, the seller must document hardship and the inability to pay the promised mortgage to receive approval from the lending bank to allow a short sale. Those documents must be updated monthly. Once the property is listed, showings and offers begin.

From a buyer’s point of view, once he’s decided to make an offer, the homeowner accepts, rejects or negotiates the offer. If and when all terms are agreed upon, the home goes under contract with the homeowner. The Offer to Purchase and Contract package is sent to the lender’s loan liquidation department along with a proposed HUD or settlement statement.

From there, an asset manager, sometimes called a file manager, is assigned. That can take hours to days, depending upon the bank’s volume of sales in the short sale department. Once the asset manager is assigned, all paperwork is forwarded and reviewed. Back up offers from other interested sellers are also received and submitted for consideration.

If all goes well, within 30 days or so, the investor who purchased the loan from the bank reviews the Offers/Contracts and decides whether or not he also accepts the terms offered. The bank then communicates the decision back to the seller who lets all parties know the verdict.

Behind the scenes, the bank must also eliminate or settle any second mortgage or other liens to make way for a clear title to be transferred to the buyer. Title companies won’t issue a title policy assuring no one else can step forward to claim ownership with any money still owed.

It can take as many as long as 6 months to iron out all the details. At any time, until the day and time of closing when the documents are signed and recorded, the investor may accept any other offer and bump the buyer’s to a null position.

Because many buyers don’t stay in the game for the duration, and for other reasons, fewer than 40% of short sales close. The property then becomes a foreclosure owned outright by the bank. It’s negotiated simply and can close in 15 days for a cash buyer, 30 days for conventional loan, and 45 days for an FHA loan.

It takes a special kind of dedicated buyer to pass by all other listings and continue hammering through a short sale for weeks and months at a time with no update from the bank. It you think that’s you, let’s talk. There are many great deals out there. Call me to discuss your big picture. 704-562-1030

Building Your Investment Portfolio

With great rates, lots of inventory, and stricter lending guidelines, now’s an excellent time to increase or begin your rental property portfolio.  Many homeowners are afraid or reluctant to become landlords, but with a few proven strategies and processes in place, your rental properties can become a passive income stream that adds to your net worth.

There are several ways to add to your rental inventory, including purchasing a resale property from the homeowner or bank, as in foreclosures or REO’s, purchasing new construction from the builder, bidding on the courthouse steps (I have the 5 – 6 attorneys who handle all these sales in my Favorites), and converting your current home or inherited property to a rental.

Develop your business plan first.  Determine how you’ll acquire the property and where you’d like the rental home or business property to be located (in the same city as you is best; long-distance land lording isn’t ideal) and the price you’d like to pay for it.  Next, evaluate the current rental market for rental rate estimates on similar properties currently rented in the area you’ve targeted – this will help you anticipate the type of renter who might apply: an executive, a first-time renter, etc., and your potential return on investment.

Ask your full-service REALTOR® what renters are looking for when touring.  If a garage is a must-have for most renters in your market, be sure the property you purchase has one.

Investor rates are a bit higher if you must get a loan to make an investment  purchase, but if you have enough equity built up in your personal home, you may be able to purchase a resale, foreclosure, REO or new construction house, condo or townhome with your equity line by simply getting a certified check from your bank the morning of closing.

Want to convert your current home to a rental and move up?  You can if you can provide your move-up lender a 12 month lease on your current property, using only 75% of rental income to help qualify for your new mortgage, IF you have at least 30% equity in your current property.

In servicing the rental, you have several options.  You can pay a management company to handle everything on your behalf, or you can be more hands on, screening the calls, meeting the potential clients, to negotiating the lease and managing all the details.  Whether you decide to hire it out or do it yourself, you must know what to do or what should be done for you, to protect your best interests.

For specific strategies on qualifying prospective tenants, from your first sentence when answering the inquiry call to eliminate riskier applicants, to what to include on the application and lease, consult your full service REALTOR®.  They’re there to help you navigate the strategies and processes that will make you a successful rental investor.

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I love what I do, I’m good at it, & I’d love to work with you! My personal best is 8th with foreclosure bid; we not only won (it was NOT more $), but listing agent complimented me on my complete package, & asked permission to use my secret weapon!

My listing was on Google, first page, number three position, ‘above the fold’ within minutes of my blog post featuring it!

Chrystal is a REALTOR® and principal of The Safari Group, a local, homegrown  real estate firm, specializing in all phases of the residential and small business real estate market, including New Construction, Finance, Marketing, Objection Handling, Relocation, Technology, Foreclosures, Short Sales, and Luxury Homes and GREEN Features.  Contact her at 704.562.1030   TXT/PH or Chrystal@TheSafariGroup.com

Seller Tip: Don’t Try This at Home

Or What a Seller Did to Infuriate Me and cut off his own nose to spite his face.  My investor buyers, who already had a renter lined up, wanted to see a cute house set atop a hill near their home.  The house was newer, had a 2 car garage, large yard, larger bedrooms and walk-in closet in the master and looked like a great potential investment.  We submitted a complete package, made a cash offer to close in 10 days, and hoped for the best. 

We were overjoyed when the listing agent called with a counter offer that was reasonable and my clients accepted.  Before the paperwork could exchange hands, the listing agent called back to say there were now multiple offers on the table and that my clients should come back with their highest and best, after our verbal offer had been accepted!  Well imagine my surprise when the listing agent argued there was no contract to honor!  She had not gotten the counter offer signed by her seller before presenting it, and in fact, it was true – there was no contract to honor. 

The North Carolina Real Estate Commission states a broker can only give Notice of Acceptance; the broker can’t bind a client to a contract that the client hasn’t signed.  A Broker will create a binding contract by notifying the party making the offer/counter-offer, or that party’s Broker, that the Broker has in their possession the offer signed & accepted by their client as written;  A call to the Legal Department that day revealed that although what the agent did was not illegal, it was, however, unethical.  

Much of real estate is transacted in good faith, and it’s common practice and legally binding to communicate acceptance by phone, email, fax, and mail.  In this case, the agent communicated acceptance of the counter offer without having the seller signed docs in hand.  The greedy seller then violated his word, and lured by the smell of money, accepted another offer described by the listing agent as ‘WAY WAY over the list price’ instead of signing what he’d agreed to.  The agent said the offer was so ridiculous that it probably wouldn’t work out, and that she’d call me if and when it went back on the market.  

My clients and I were angry and frustrated.    They went on the get another great property under contract.

Then, you guessed it.  The email arrived.  The buyers, who had their contract accepted on the basis of a cash purchase, couldn’t get a loan.  Poor buyer.  Poor seller.  My offer had gone in with a proof of funds letter; apparently, theirs did not.

My buyers are very happy with their new purchase, and we close Friday. 

There’s no way they’d have gone back to negotiate with the previous seller after what they’d experienced.  There was just too much risk with all the behind the scenes chain of events that must come together smoothly to close that the seller and listing agent couldn’t be trusted to perform. 

And the seller’s property is still on the market… and that smell of cold hard cash has long wafted away.

For an agent who does things the right way, and protects your best interests from contact to close, contact me by phone or text at 704.562.1030 For a property search to get you on your way to building your investor portfolio, visit TheSafariGroup.com and SEARCH Properties.

Room for Negotiations

One of the most important rooms in your listing is room for negotiation.  It is critical in every market to set your list price accurately.  In any market, if your listing isn’t priced right, you price yourself out of showings.  Pricing with room for negotiations can be a dangerous practice and may sabotage your chances to make the sale.

Here’s where a trained and experienced broker is instrumental in getting the property priced right, not only to achieve vigorous showings, but also to elicit that all important high offer.  A skilled broker is trained by appraisers who are actively working in your market and who partner with lending institutions in providing their professional services to set market value once the property is under contract. 

Once your broker has researched your neighborhood’s recent sales of properties most similar to yours, several line-item adjustments will equalize the subject (your property) and the comparables (homes sold in the last 6 – 12 months in or near your neighborhood) for a suggested list price range.  Then the competition will be evaluated.  If new construction is in the area, the product, incentives, and desirability will also be considered.  Any home, in addition to yours, that would be included in a buyer’s tour must be carefully considered.

Once a range of value is determined using several calculations, it’s time to discuss price.  If your home is found to be a unique value, then its suggested list price would be on the upper range of calculated value.  This unique value may include condition, location, or the fact that there’s nothing like it available in your price range.  Here’s where sellers sometimes are tempted to become greedy. 

It’s just not worth the potential sabotage to your sale to price your property greater than ten percent above the suggested list price of your broker.  Buyers are out touring the listed homes and generally getting a better hands-on look at competing inventory than most sellers, and will see the inequity.  Most won’t make the offer even if they like the house.  What seller wants lots of showings, but no offer? What buyer wants to make an offer, only to hear “No?”

Take your broker’s advice in pricing your listing.  The result will be a quicker sale at a higher percentage of the list price.  Who wants the deal to fall apart when the appraisal is returned?

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I love what I do, I’m good at it, & I’d love to work with you! My personal best is 8th with foreclosure bid; we not only won (it was NOT more $), but listing agent complimented me on my complete package, & asked permission to use my secret weapon! 

My listing was on Google, first page, number three position, ‘above the fold’ within minutes of my blog post featuring it!

Chrystal is a REALTOR® and principal of The Safari Group, a local, homegrown real estate firm, specializing in all phases of the residential and small business real estate market, including New Construction, Finance, Marketing, Objection Handling, Relocation, Technology, Foreclosures, Short Sales, and Luxury Homes and GREEN Features.  Contact her at 704.562.1030 TXT/PH or Chrystal@TheSafariGroup.com

Charlotte Market 4th Smallest National Drop

‘Even with the current market downturn, the multi-faceted strength of our market has traditionally been reasonable appreciation, affordability, and transition.  While there are many deeply discounted homes available now in the form of builder inventory and foreclosed homes, our strong market has resulted in great news for most homeowners,’ adds Chrystal Safari, Luxury Home Specialist with Peters & Associates, Incorporated, Charlotte, NC.  

The Charlotte Business Journal reported June 30, 2009, Charlotte-area home prices are down 10% in April from a year earlier. Prices rose 0.5 percent in April from March.

The 10 percent price decline for the past 12 months was the fourth-smallest among the 20 markets tracked by the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

Denver had the healthiest market of the 20 cities, with a 4.9 percent drop in home prices from April 2008. Dallas ranked second (down 5 percent). Boston was third (down 7.7 percent). The overall index of the 20 cities saw an 18.1 percent price decline. Phoenix was the weakest market, with a price drop of 35.3 percent, followed by Las Vegas (down 32.2 percent) and San Francisco (down 28 percent).

The index says as of April, average home prices across the United States were at similar levels to what they were in the middle of 2003.

From the peak in the second quarter of 2006, average home prices in the 20 markets are down 32.6 percent. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index tracks sales prices of typical single-family homes in leading metropolitan areas.

Chrystal shares, ‘Affordability is still key.  Many homes at all price points are ready now.  Rates are still great.  There are loan programs out there with 85% Loan to Value, with no MPI.  If you’re in the market for your next owner occupant home or would like to add to your rental/investment portfolio call me.  I’m at your service.’

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Living, playing, and working in south Charlotte for over 27 years, and with over 14 years experience in the real estate field as an investor and Luxury Home Specialist, I have the knowledge, experience and discretion you need to maximize your return on investment whether for your personal home, investment portfolio, or small business property.  Contact me at Chrystal.Safari@gmail.com