Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jake Rackham's Testimonial: Marty's ambitious and caring

“Marty's ambitious and caring.  His experience shows because of the excellent way he took care of my Mortgage needs.  I'm very satisfied with my loan, he got me a great rate

I would refer Marty to my friends and family without hesitation. Call Marty when you have Mortgage questions, he’s awesome at getting the job done!”  

Jake Rackham

10 Mistakes Smart Buyer's and Seller's Make and how to Avoid Them

Buyers
Mistakes
Prevented By
1.  Not knowing how much they can afford to pay for a house before they make an offer. Obtaining pre-approval for a mortgage from a Lender, so you know in advance exactly how much you can afford.
2.  Not finding out in advance whom the real estate agent represents.

Asking your Realtor.  Most people think their agent is working for them.  But unless the agent is working as your buyer representative, he/she represents the seller.
3.  Not realizing that the wrong mortgage can cost thousands of dollars in unnecessary interest and taxes.

Consulting with a mortgage consultant, accountant, and/or financial planner before making a final decision on which mortgage to choose.  CPAs can tell you the long-term effects on your income. 
4.  Not discovering hidden defects before buying a home.  Hiring a professional to conduct a pre-purchase home inspection.
5.  Not knowing how debt can affect their ability to buy or refinance a home. Asking your mortgage professional to help you review and repair your credit file in advance.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How a cancelled credit card effects your credit score

QUESTION: I've had an American Express charge card since 1999, which costs $95 a year to maintain. If I cancel it, what will this do to my credit score?
--Fred Cohen, Weston, Fla.

Ditching annual fees is often a smart play, although in this case $95 might not be much for what amounts to an open line of credit with no preset spending limit. Since you're closing a charge card (which doesn't let you run a balance) instead of a credit card (which does), your credit score probably won't take a hit, at least for now.

Credit-scoring firm FICO currently figures scores—the calculation most creditors use—without including charge cards in the all-important "credit-utilization ratio," which divides the total of all your credit limits by your total balances. (The lower the ratio, the better.)

Still, there's a longer-term risk to cutting up the card, says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com: Ten years after you cancel, the card's history will be wiped from your credit report, potentially shortening your credit history and lowering your score.

Monday, April 11, 2011

IRS Audit Red Flags: 12 hot spots to raise scrutiny from the IRS

#1 and #12.  Yep, I raised IRS scrutiny on my 2003 taxes because of mistake #1 (I didn't receive an interest statement in the mail for $146 of interest income on one of my old employer managed 401k's) and #12 (I took higher than normal deductions for charitable contributions which resulted in me needing to get cancelled checks to PROVE that I really gave the donations-which I did, by the way).  :)

My advice is to take your time and gather ALL your information together before you get ready to prepare your taxes, whether you do it yourself or have a professional do it for you.  THEN, since you have done such a great job of gathering, do a great job of storing your information, just in case you get a mail audit (more common every year) or a full blown audit (there's where a professionally prepared tax return pays dividends!).

Here is a list of 12 IRS Audit Red Flags to help keep you out of hot water: The IRS Dirty Dozen

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Are Tax Credits Still Available for First Time Home Buyer's in 2011?

Income Tax credits are only available to qualifying military personnel.  Here is a link to the Home Buyer Tax Credit Review article. 

Because of the many different tax credits, times covered by the offering, and what tax credits needed to be repaid and which ones didn't, here is a quick review:

Summary of the First-Time Homebuyer Credit by Year

For 2008: up to $7,500, the credit is paid back over 15 years. For Jan - Nov 2009: up to $8,000, the credit does not need to be paid back.
For Dec 2009 - April 2010: up to $8,000 for first-time buyers, the credit does not need to be paid back.
For Nov 7, 2009 - April 2010: up to $6,500 for "long-term residents" buying a new home, the credit does not need to be paid back.
Until April 30, 2011: homebuyer credit continues to be available for qualified members of the U.S. uniformed services.