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Study: Amendment 2 failure would spark $700M tax increase

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – May 16, 2018 – Florida TaxWatch released a study on Tuesday projecting that property taxes could increase by more than $700 million on non-homestead properties like businesses, apartments and second homes should Florida fail to extend a property tax yearly rate cap.

According to TaxWatch, the increase would happen if voters reject a proposed constitutional amendment that they'll consider on the November ballot.

Known as Amendment 2, the proposed amendment would extend a current 10 percent cap on annual increases in assessed values of non-homestead properties – a cap that voters approved in 2008.

TaxWatch Vice President Kurt Wenner said many Floridians aren't aware how much taxes could go up if the cap is lifted.

"If Amendment 2 fails to pass, it doesn't mean that the cap is just no longer going to be in effect going forward," Wenner said during a media event at the Florida Press Center. "It means that all of this property will suddenly be assessed at full value. This can be quite a big sticker shock when some people get their tax bills."

Wenner said he expects that these potential tax increases would be passed along to renters and business customers, making the issue important whether someone owns property or not.

Supporters of the amendment say it's currently polling at just under 60 percent, which is the threshold for amendments to pass.

The Florida Legislature decided in 2017 to put Amendment 2 on this year's ballot. Senator Tom Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican who sponsored the proposal, estimated at the time that failure to extend the cap would effectively lead to a $688 million tax increase.

In all, Florida's November ballot will include 13 proposed constitutional amendments.

© 2018 Florida Realtors®

Tampa Luxury Home Housing Report - April 2018

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

The charts below show the 7-day and 90-day rolling averages for list pricedays on market, and inventory for the metro area's luxury market (e.g. top 10 zips with median prices above $500k)

ILHM-TAMPA VS NATIONAL

The charts below compare the ilhm-tampa luxury market with the ILHM National Luxury Market Index and show 90-day rolling averages for Median List Price and Days on Market.

The chart below shows the Altos Market Action Index for the metro area's luxury market and the National Index.

Statistics provided by the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing.

Courtesy of Tampa FL Realtor Linda Nowicke.

First-Time Homebuyer Assistance

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Have you been hesitant to purchase your first home because you are worried about having enough cash for a down payment or that you won’t qualify for a loan?  Don’t despair!  There is help out there for you.  Owning a home is a sound financial investment and there is no reason to keep paying a landlord’s mortgage when you could be paying your own and building equity for your future.

The Florida Homebuyer Loan Program offers 30-year fixed rate FIRST mortgage loans to first-time homebuyers through participating lenders and lending institutions throughout Florida. If you are eligible, you may also qualify for one of Florida Housing’s second mortgage or grant programs to help with your down payment and closing costs.

Florida also offers a Mortgage Credit Certificate Program.  This offers qualifying first time homebuyers a nonrefundable federal income tax credit that can be used with a lender’s first mortgage.  This reduces the borrower’s federal income taxes and as such, creates additional income for the borrower to use in making mortgage payments or other household expenses. The requirements for this program include being a first-time homebuyer, the purchase price of the residence and the total household income.

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation offers First-Time Homebuyer Education (HBE). You can also take a course through the Tampa Housing Authority. Taking one of these classes is a great first step toward understanding all you need to know before you start your home search.  The class teaches things such as:

-          Shopping for a home

-          Understanding credit

-          Money management

-          Obtaining a mortgage

The first-time homebuyer program uses income and purchase price limits to determine eligibility.  Potential buyers must complete a home buyer education course and qualify for a mortgage loan and have a qualifying FICO score,

The real estate professionals at Tampa Realty Now can explain these programs to you and answer any questions that you have.  Contact them and start your home search today!  Call Linda or Craig Nowicke at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030

Bidding War Prep 101

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

It is a Seller's Market in real estate, and now that spring has arrived, the competition for homes is likely to get even more fierce.  If you are looking to purchase a home right now, chances are you may find yourself in a bidding war.  Be prepared! 

Here are six ways to come out on top in a bidding war:

  1. Get your finances in order and get as much cash as you can.  It is never too soon to get pre-approved for a loan. In fact, the sooner the better.  Sellers will have lots of options and will be leery of those who do not have loans set in stone.  If possible, bring cash to the table.  Sellers will fear appraisals coming in low and loans falling through, so be prepared to cover the difference with cash.
  2. Don’t hesitate!  Be the first to make an offer, and make it a good one.  An insulting offer will put you at the bottom of the seller’s list, so it is not a good time to low ball.  Come in at or slightly below asking price so that they know you are serious about purchasing their home.
  3. Offer an Escalation Clause. This is the amount of money the buyer agrees to increase the offer if there are other bids. If you offer the asking price of $400,000 on a house, but it might sell for $450,000, put in an escalation clause stating that you are willing to go as high as $460,000.  But know your limit.  Don’t offer more than you can handle.  Also, make sure the clause states that the seller can only take the winning bid up to a level just above the competing offers.  For example, if an offer comes in for $430,000, your bid would be upped to $431,000.
  4. Get a pre-inspection.  It will cost you a few hundred dollars, but it can help you in a super-tight market.  If you can make a bid that is not contingent upon inspection, sellers will look favorably on your offer versus the same offer from someone who has a contingency in their contract.
  5. Show the love!  If you have found the perfect house and really love it, don’t be afraid to let the sellers know, either directly or through your Realtor.  You can write a letter, send pictures of your family or even make a video describing why you love the house so much.  Be specific in your praise.  Sellers may appreciation the connection you feel with the house and choose you over other bidders.
  6. Think with your head, not your heart. Be smart! Purchasing a home is an emotional thing for sure, but emotions can get in the way of making wise decisions.   Make sure you have done thorough research of the market: look at the most recent comparable sales, compare prices from a year ago, visit local school, have coffee at the closest café and speak to potential neighbors.  Look at listings nearby.  Whatever you do, don’t overpay because you get caught up in the heat of the competition.  While the house may seem perfect for you, it is not the only house that will be perfect for you. So, keep a level head and make intelligent decisions.

You don’t have to face a bidding war alone. The experienced professionals at Tampa Realty Now can help you through the process of finding and purchasing the house of your dreams!  Call them today at 813-728-3880 or 813-675-5030.

House Hunting? These Are the Top Ten Things You Should Look For

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

House hunting can be overwhelming sometimes, especially when beginning the search for your first home.  Chances are you might get caught up in the process and important details might slip by you. While the number of rooms, condition of the kitchen, and size of the yard are important, there are other things to consider before you make an offer.  This list of things to look for can help you get your search off to the right start.

 1.          Location, Location, Location!

They say that the 3 most important things to look for when buying a home are location, location and location.  While a home might not be perfect, loving your neighborhood and neighbors can make all the difference in living with imperfection.  And face it…you can change almost anything about your house, but you can’t change its location or the people living nearby.  When you go house hunting, make sure to consider the home’s proximity to your work, the appeal of the neighborhood, where in the neighborhood the home is situated, ease of access, noise from neighbors, traffic, pets and access to parks, shopping, School Districts and public transportation.

 2.          Home Placement

Beyond location, look at how the home is situated. Do neighbors' windows look directly into the home? Is the yard suitable for kids, pets, gardening, or other uses? Is there safe access to the home? These are all important questions to ask yourself when determining if it is the right property for you.

 3.          Check Out the Neighborhood

While it’s important for your house to meet your expectations, it’s equally important that the neighborhood meets them too. Take a drive around the development you are interested in on week days and weekends, during the day and in the evening.  Are the homes in good repair? Are yards kept clean and tidy?  Is the neighborhood safe enough for people to walk, run or bike?  Are there children playing outdoors?

 4.           Consider a Home’s Curb Appeal

You want a home that is going to reflect your lifestyle. Do you live a    casual, laid-back life? Then you probably won’t want a formal home.  A simple, contemporary home might better suit you.  Pay close attention to exterior features.  Think about maintenance. Do you like working in the yard?  If not, you might not want a house with extensive landscaping.  Is the roof in good condition?  Attention to detail will help you choose the home with the best curb appeal for you.

 5.           Size and Floor Plan

You may be thinking about buying your dream home. But is your dream home practical?  Do you need 4 bedrooms and 4 baths when you live alone? A spacious home may provide the extra room you've always wanted for a home office or a theater room, but you'll pay higher heating bills and have higher taxes. Additionally, it will take more furniture to furnish and money to decorate. Think about how the new home space will be used and whether it will fit your lifestyle now and in the future.

 6.            Bedrooms and Bathrooms

Decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms you will need and only    look at homes that meet that criteria.  You don’t want to fall in love with what is otherwise a perfect house if it doesn’t provide the space needed for your family.  It’s smart to consider counting an extra bedroom in that number so that you have extra space for a home office or guest room. If you think you might add on to the home later, make sure you consult an architect who can advise you on space planning and Hillsborough County.

 7.             The Kitchen

For many people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Don’t settle for a home with a kitchen that doesn’t work for you.  Yes, you can remodel later, but at great expense.  If it’s an easy fix like replacing cabinets or countertops, get a price quote before committing the house so that you will know if it is within your budget to take that on.

 8.              Closets and Storage

Older homes often have small closets and lack storage space.  As you’re looking at a home ask yourself where you will store your belongings.  Tiny closets don’t have to be a deal breaker.  There are ways to maximize storage without renovations. Newer homes tend to have lots of storage and you may sacrifice living space while having more closet space than you need.

 9.              Windows and Lighting

While looking at a home keep in mind your preferences regarding light and privacy.  Do you want a lot of windows to provider bright, sunny rooms?  Pay attention to the locations of electrical outlets and fixtures to make sure they will meet your lighting needs.

 10.           Finishing Touches

Even a simple home can look spectacular with the right moldings, hardware, and a fireplace.  If elements like these are important to you, look for them while house hunting. 

You may not find everything you want in one house, but keep this list handy and you are more likely to find the home that best suits your needs and desires.  The professionals at Tampa Realty Now are ready and waiting to show you the house of your dreams! Contact them today at 813-413-4343. Happy House Hunting!      

Stand Out to Sellers with a Mortgage Loan Pre-Approval

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Across the country right now, the number of buyers seeking homes far outnumbers the number of homes available.  Because of this, the housing market is super competitive and buyers often need to do something to stand out.  One way to show that you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even in a less competitive market, knowing your budget will give you security of knowing if a home is within your reach.

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process.  Once you have chosen a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with vital information regarding your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.

There are 4 Cs that aid in determining the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

-          Capacity: Your current and future ability to make payments.

-          Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash.

-          Collateral: The home or type of home that you want to purchase.

-          Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time.

 

Getting pre-approved not only shows sellers you are serious, but also speeds up the process of completing the purchase once your offer has been accepted.

Many people overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage.  If you are ready to buy, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at what you can afford!

 

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/How-to-Negotiate-for-the-Best-Deal

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/The-50-20-30-Rule-Creating-a-Budget-You-Can-Live-With

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/Why-You-Should-Hire-a-Realtor

Tax Changes for Homeowners

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

This time of year, many people start thinking about doing their taxes.  It’s a dreaded task for some, but a necessary one that we all must do.  One of the perks of being a homeowner is that it provides the benefit of some tax deductions.  All homeowners should be aware of these tax perks to take advantage of them and maximize their financial savings.  Recently, a government overhaul of U.S. tax laws included changes that affect homeowners.  While these changes will not be in place for the 2017 tax year, it is wise to be prepared for how they will affect your 2018 taxes.

 - Mortgage Interest Deductions

The mortgage interest tax deduction is considered a way to make homeownership more affordable.  Qualifying homeowners can reduce their taxable income by the amount of mortgage interest they pay.  Currently, you may deduct the interest you pay on mortgage debt up to $1 million ($500,000 if married and filing separately) on your primary home and a second home.  Beginning in 2018, for homes purchased December 15, 2017 and after, the numbers change to $750,000 ($375,000 if married and filing separately).  There is an exception in the new tax law that allows for a refinanced mortgage loan to be given the old loan’s origination date. This means if the old loan originated prior to December 15, 2017, the old limit of $1 million would apply.

 - Property Tax Deduction

The tax law through 2017 allowed homeowners to reduce their taxable income by the total amount of property taxes they paid.  Starting next year, the deduction will be limited to a total of $10,000 for the combination of the cost of property taxes, state and local income taxes or sales taxes.

 - Home Equity Deduction

Up through your 2017 tax return, the tax law allowed for an added deduction for interest paid on home equity debt “for reasons other than to buy, build, or substantially improve your home.”  In other words, if you took out a home equity line of credit to do something like pay tuition, the interest you paid on that line of credit was tax-deductible.  Starting next year, this deduction will be eliminated.

 - Mortgage Interest Deduction for Second Homes

As stated above, you may deduct interest on mortgage debt on both your primary home and a second home.  The new law changes this a bit for 2018.  It reduces the amount of eligible mortgage debt from $1 million to $750,000.

 - Moving Expenses

While it was a complicated process that involved criteria such as distance and timing of a move, up through this year the tax law allowed you to deduct some moving expenses if you moved for a new job.  Starting in 2018, only active-duty members of the armed forces will be allowed to deduct moving expenses.

If you find the tax laws confusing, you are not alone. It is smart to ask a reputable accountant any questions you may have so that you can maximize the tax perks of being a homeowner!

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/The-50-20-30-Rule-Creating-a-Budget-You-Can-Live-With

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/Steps-to-Take-Before-Selling-Your-House

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/Resale-Value-What-is-Important

Truth or Fiction? Real Estate Myths

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Whether you are buying or selling a home for the first time or you are a seasoned veteran of buying/selling real estate, chances are you think you have the knowledge needed to navigate the process based on what you have read or heard from friends and family. Unfortunately there are a plethora of myths circulating about buying and selling a home that have become prevalent, but just aren’t true.  The pitfall of believing everything you hear or read is that real estate myths can hurt you where it counts…in the wallet.  Here are eight common ones that can cause home buyers/sellers to make unnecessary mistakes:

 

  • Set your home price higher than what you expect to get. Setting your asking price too high, may actually net you a lower price. That’s because many shoppers and their real estate agents will not look at houses that are priced above market value. While it’s true that you can lower your price if you have not gotten offers in the first few weeks, “Buyers are highly suspicious of houses that have sat on the market for more than three weeks,” says Nela Richardson, chief economist for the brokerage Redfin.

 

  • You can get a better deal as a buyer if you don’t use a real estate agent.

This is a false assumption. When a house is listed with an agent, the total sales commission is already built into the price.  If the buyer doesn’t use and agent, that just means the selling agent will get the entire commission.

 

  • You can save money selling your home yourself.

While it is possible to successfully sell your home on your own, there is a great deal of work that goes into it. You must know how to get the home listed online, market it to prospective buyers, negotiate the contract and deal with any issues that arise during the inspection or loan application phases.  In addition, buyers will expect a significant discount, so what you might save on real estate commission may not be as much as you thought it would be.

 

  • The market will only go up.

Over the years, homebuyers and sellers have experienced a time of increasing home values, then a sharp decline due to the economy and then an upturn where values increase again.  But many people believe the market only goes up.  You need to be aware that prices can fall dramatically.

 

  • You should renovate your kitchen and bathroom before you sell.

If your kitchen and bathroom are in working order, an extensive remodel could be a mistake. Potential buyers might not like what you’ve done with the place, but they don’t want to change something that has just been renovated.  Ask your Realtor what updates they recommend to ensure that you do not over improve.

 

  • You’ll earn back what you spend on renovations.

Repairing things like your heating system, air conditioner or roof may help your home to sell faster, but you probably will not recoup dollar for dollar what you spend. Check out Remodeling Magazine’s 2017 cost-vs-value report.

 

  • All the properties listed in the multiple listing service show up online.

Your agent must choose to let the listings show up online. Most do, but it’s a good idea to verify that yours will.

 

  • Open houses sell properties.

Homes rarely sell to buyers who have visited them during open houses.  Agents like to have open houses because it helps them to find additional potential customers.  If you and your agent opt not to have an open house, it probably won’t hurt your chances of selling.  On the other hand, having a broker’s open house for other agents might be worthwhile.

 

If you are thinking about buying or selling a house, the professionals at Tampa Realty Now can assist you in the process and keep you avoid the pitfalls of real estate myths.  Give them a call today at 813-728-3880!

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/Heres-How-to-TellThat-Youre-Ready-to-Sell

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/How-to-Negotiate-for-the-Best-Deal

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/Deal-Breakers-for-Home-Buyers

The Perks of Downsizing

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

Have you recently become an empty nester with a home spacious enough for a large family?  Maybe it’s time to consider downsizing.  There are numerous perks to downsizing to a smaller home:

  • Saving Money. You will not only save on your monthly mortgage payment in a smaller home, you will also save money on frivolous living.  One of the advantages of downsizing your home is that you can stop wasting money on furniture, and home décor that are used to fill space rather than to fulfill a function.  Filling a smaller space will allow you to prioritize what items are important and necessary for you.
  • Less Stress.  After working hard all week to pay the bills, it’s no fun to have to spend your weekend doing chores.  A smaller home equals fewer chores and less upkeep. This will free up time for leisure activities for enjoyment and relaxation.
  • Save energy. If you live in a large home, you know that energy costs can be expensive.  Smaller homes will not only save you money on heating, cooling and water costs, it will also allow you to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Free time for travel.  With additional disposable income and less upkeep needed, a smaller home will afford you the time and cash for travel and adventure.  Weekend getaways or even long trips are less of a hassle now that you don’t have to worry about being house-poor.
  • A new beginning. Downsizing can be the beginning of a new chapter in your life.  If being an empty nester has you feeling down, a lifestyle change might be just what you need to start focusing on how you want to spend your time, money and energy. 

If you are thinking about downsizing, the professionals at Tampa Realty Now can help you get your current home on the market and sold.  We can also help you find your new home.  Now is a great time for new beginnings, so call today! (813) 413-4343

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/Heres-How-to-TellThat-Youre-Ready-to-Sell 

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/Why-You-Should-Hire-a-Realtor

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/Deal-Breakers-for-Home-Buyers

‘Tis the Season…Tax Season!

by Craig & Linda Nowicke

The hustle and bustle of the holidays are over and a new season has begun…tax season.  Now is the time to start preparing to complete your 2017 tax return.  Here is a list of things you can do this month to make tax time a little less stressful:

  • Contribute to retirement accounts.  If you haven’t funded your retirement account for 2017 yet, now is the time to do it.  For a traditional or ROTH IRA the deadline to do so is April 17, 2018. But if you want to start compounding tax free interest as quickly as possible, make those contributions now!
  • Make a last-minute estimated tax payment.  If you didn’t pay the IRS enough money throughout the year, you may have a hefty tax bill coming your way.  You might owe some interest and penalties as well.  If you make an estimated payment by January 15, you can avoid a penalty for the fourth quarter and save money.  Try not to pay too much though.  It’s better to owe a little money than to get a refund.  The IRS doesn’t pay you any interest on money they are borrowing from you.
  • Organize your records.  Yes!  Do it now!  Good organization may not change the amount of money you must pay, but it will certainly make the process of filing your taxes easier.  Prepare a tax checklist to get all your ducks in a row.  Have a tax folder or binder in which you keep all documents and receipts.  Taking the time to get organized now will save you time and energy when it is time to file your taxes.
  • Find the right tax forms.  You can view and download tax forms on the Internal Revenue Service web site or you can have them mailed to you.  The IRS can also provide you with a private web site that lists state government sites where you can pick up state forms and publications. 
  • Itemize your tax deductions. While it may be easier to take the standard deduction, you may save money if you itemize.  Especially if you are self-employed, own a home, or live in a high tax area.  It is worth the time and effort when you see how much money you can save.  This list of the Top 500 Itemized Deductions will come in handy for that!
  • Decide if you need help.  Avoid the panic of last minute calls to accountants by preparing in January.  You will have plenty of time to determine if you are going to need help completing your taxes and won’t be scrambling for assistance as the deadline looms.

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/The-Unexpected-Costs-of-Selling-a-Home

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/The-50-20-30-Rule-Creating-a-Budget-You-Can-Live-With

http://www.tamparealtynow.com/Blog/Why-You-Should-Hire-a-Realtor

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Photo of Linda and Craig Nowicke Real Estate
Linda and Craig Nowicke
RE/MAX ACR Elite Group
14823 N. Dale Mabry
Tampa FL 33618
Linda: 813-728-3880
Craig: 813-675-5030
Fax: 813-413-4343

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