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News, Delaware Home Loans, and Educated Guesswork

May 17, 2017

Last week, local home loan observers were hardly surprised by the news that the Fed’s key borrowing rate—the one that’s most important where Delaware home loan interest rates are concerned—was left as-is. At least for the moment.

What that indicated to most educated guessers was that the previous three months’ worth of relatively weak economic news was probably behind the decision not to raise rates. The economic news may not have been all that weak, but it was shaky enough to provide more good news when it comes to Delaware home loans—still remarkably (and happily) hugging the bottom of the 4% range.

The reason it’s fair to call the expert observers of Fed decisions “educated guessers” is because of the noncommittal language that usually comes out of Federal Open Market Committee announcements. For Delaware homeowners or soon-to-be homeowners, the direction that local home loan interest rates are likely to be headed is an important element in planning if and when to buy or sell a home. A half-percent rise or fall in the Fed funds rate can trigger similar movements in mortgage rates. Over the course of retiring a typical $250,000 home loan, that amounts to a $25,000+ difference—for some, reason enough to make a real estate move sooner rather than later.  If only you could anticipate where rates are headed…

In that respect, this time, the Fed’s announcement was actually a tad more expressive than usual. It described the economy’s first quarter’s slowdown as “likely to be transitory.” In other words, they don’t believe it was meaningful—so, in other words, fuhgeddaboutit! Job gains were “solid;” business financing had “firmed.” Likely prospect (per the expert guessers) was for two more quarter-percent raises in 2017—with the first most likely to happen next month.

Whether the Delaware home loan outlook will trace that precise trajectory is anything but certain, of course. There’s a reason the Fed announcements are deliberately evasive. But one thing is for sure: Delaware home loans are still being locked in at historically desirable rates. And that alone is an excellent reason to give me a call! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at russellstucki@remax.net, visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com

Delaware Affordable Housing: an Overlooked Next Step?

May 17, 2017

 I don’t know about you, but when I used to hear the term “affordable housing” I’d think of value-priced Delaware condominium listings, some of the nicer area mobile home parks, or maybe fixer-uppers likely to be snatched up by professional house flippers (ultimately to become slightly less affordable housing).

When I heard “affordable housing,” I did not think “packing crate.” Nor did I think, “steamer trunk” or “storage unit.” That turns out to be entirely appropriate; nobody is volunteering to live in those.

Where I missed the boat was that I did not think, “shipping container.”

But that was then—this, as they say, is now. Those simpler days are behind us. Shipping containers, it turns out, are the latest in affordable housing. And I must say there are some real possibilities for tricked-out shipping container homes.

Before dismissing the idea out of hand, first, consider the real advantages. Shipping containers are those nearly boxcar-sized metal enclosures they pile 15 high on giant vessels that play the high seas, bringing products near and far in great quantities. They are flood and fire-proof. Containerhomes-info points out that they can “face wind, rain, salt, typhoons, extreme weight, dropping and bumping.” They are made of Corten steel, stronger than regular steel and, you’ll have to admit, probably stronger than whatever your current Delaware home is made of.

Recycling enthusiasts realize that shipping containers are only used for 10 or 15 years even though they can last much longer! Also, since they are from 20 to 40 feet in length, when combined as modules by forward-thinking architect types, they can actually form sizable spaces. As the digitaltrends website puts it, “one man’s retired shipping container is another man’s crazy, high-end modular home.”

And here’s the practical coup de grace: there are 24 million empty shipping containers sitting on docks all over the world! Empty! Waiting for an enterprising Delaware architect to create the next model modular masterpiece—with an almost certain resulting publicity blitz. The reason the publicity blitz is likely is because most of the current stars of the movement seem to be in far-off places like Copenhagen and Equador (at least the prettiest ones are there).

If you have a few moments, go ahead and Google best ideas about shipping container homes (see the one with what looks like a putting green on top?) or shipping container prize winners. Honestly, some are beautiful—but I’d say it has a lot to do with the lighting.

I don’t happen to have any award-winning shipping container homes listed at the moment, but when it comes to more traditional and affordable Delaware housing, give me a call! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at russellstucki@remax.net, visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com

The Sizeable Homeowner’s Real Estate Tax Advantage

May 17, 2017

As this season’s controversies swirl through Washington, one of them seems likely to wind up being at the top of the heap: federal income taxes. Whether or not they will be simplified (hopefully) or lowered (ummm—probably?) will be sorted out in due time, but one detail is a lead pipe cinch: when the dust clears, the real estate tax advantage will remain.

If any politician is thinking about eliminating the real estate tax advantage, he or she is wisely being very quiet about it. For good reason: that’s an idea that would probably lead to a quick retirement from public life courtesy of many displeased voters. Certainly, that’s likely to be the case as far as Delaware homeowners and home buyers are concerned.

I don’t provide financial or tax advice, but some of the long-standing real estate tax advantages are well-known and detailed on Uncle Sam’s public sites. The headline tax benefits of homeownership explains their widespread support—among them:

  • The mortgage interest deduction (up to $1 million) on first mortgages is one that speaks for itself—and speaks loudly. Per software provider CCH, depending on their adjusted gross incomes, in 2013 average taxpayers wrote off anywhere from $7,780 to $17,060.
  • Over and above the first mortgage interest payments, an additional deduction for interest on home equity loans of up to $100,000 can apply.
  • Additionally, real estate taxes can be deducted in the year they are paid—as can mortgage origination fees.
  • When qualifying Delaware residences are sold, profits of up to $250, 000 (twice that for married joint filers) may be excluded from the seller’s federal capital gains tax.
  • For investment properties operated as rentals, there are other qualified expenses that can be tax deductible: your tax advisor will detail the rules.

Finance blogger Bob Christman’s recent “Real Estate Markets on the Mend article centered on the  real estate tax advantage being key to why “more Americans may be in a position to buy or sell properties in 2017.” He listed more reasons, but for Delaware taxpayers, the tax ramifications can be persuasive—and another good reason to give me a call to explore today’s market! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at russellstucki@remax.net, visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com

Credit Scores Remain Central to Delaware Real Estate Dealings

May 17, 2017

  If you’re a typical Delaware consumer, like most Delaware residents, it wasn’t too long ago that you were being constantly bombarded by offers to let you in on a secret: your credit score. The “free credit score” ads got a lot of responses, but lately, they’ve grown scarcer. I think I know why.

It used to be that thrift-minded people shied away from plastic because it made overspending too easy. Today, ubiquitous credit card bonus points and associated discounts and freebies make the opposite true. After all, taking a vacation without using at least some of your credit card airline “miles” or hotel “points” seems more careless than thrifty.

And the fact is, you don’t have to use the credit part of credit card purchases: if you’re careful, you can pay off the balances before interest starts to accrue. And there’s a major additional benefit to conscientious attention to of all your credit accounts— that is, the credit score dimension.

For many years, credit scores seemed a sort of hush-hush affair. That was before initiatives by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Fair Isaac Corp (FICO) changed the rules of the game, making it mandatory to allow free access to your credit scores. Even so, it was still a bit of a hassle to get to see them—and the “free” access was limited to once a year.

But that’s been changing. Today, many credit card accounts include free access to the FICO credit scores associated with them. If you use the card issuers’ online account systems, you’re usually just a mouse click away from your most recent score. Apparently, the banks behind the cards know it’s a good way to make online bill paying more attractive than snail mail—which is a profit saver for them. At last count, by April of last year more than 150 million accounts included the instant credit score feature.

What that means to Delaware real estate transactions is a solid positive. When Delaware consumers can keep a steady watch on their credit scores, they are much more likely to notice FICO mistakes or any of their own inadvertent slip-ups. The scores affect the interest rates associated with their credit card accounts—but they also heavily influence the offers they can expect from the mortgage underwriters.

I recommend prequalifying for a home loan: it’s one of the best ways to make your offer the winner in a multiple offer scenario. For other ideas that give you a head start when it comes to buying or selling Delaware real estate, just give me a call! Call/Text me Russell Stucki at (302) 228-7871, email me at russellstucki@remax.net, visit more listings at www.beachrealestatemarket.com