The American flag is obviously a symbol of our country but it has come to remind us of every man and woman who has fought for the freedom that we enjoy. The emotions that are stirred by images of our flag can run from happiness to sadness to trust and everything in between.
Most of us learned American flag etiquette or the Flag Code when we were young but occasionally, it is a good idea to review the guidelines so that the flag is treated with the respect it deserves.
- The U.S. flag should not be flown at night unless a light is shown on it.
- The U.S. flag should not be flown upside down except as a distress signal.
- The flag should never touch the ground.
- A U.S. flag should be displayed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff in mourning.
- When displaying multiple flags of a state, community or society on the same flagpole, the U.S. flag must always be on top.
- When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor – to its own right. No flag should be higher or larger than the U.S. flag. The U.S. flag is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.
- When the U.S. flag is flown with those of other countries, each flag should be the same size and must be on separate poles of the same height. Ideally, the flags should be raised and lowered simultaneously.
More information on flag etiquette can be found at the Veterans of Foreign Wars website.
Imagine a homeowner consulting with their agent about the price to place on their home. The agent suggests that the market data indicates that $200,000 to 210,000 would produce a quick sale by pricing it properly. The owner puts a $210,000 price on the home.
The first person who looks at the home offers $205,000. When the seller receives the offer, he comments that he thinks he priced the home too low and counters for full price. The counter-offer is rejected, the home stays on the market and at the end of the first month when based on market conditions, the home should be sold, no other offers have been made.
It may be human nature that when an offer is received so quickly, the first thought to come to mind is that it was priced too low. A more appropriate thought might be that it was priced correctly. In some cases, when a home comes on the market, there is increased competition (real or perceived) among the buyers waiting for the “right” home to come on the market. The home can sell for a higher price than if it sits on the market for several months.
There may be stories of sellers who turned down the first offer and ended up receiving a better offer that would net more money. However, real estate professionals say the first scenario occurs frequently.
The wisdom of experience advises owners to find a real estate professional that they trust and have confidence. Allow that professional to become familiar with your home and compare it to similar homes in the market that have sold recently and ones currently on the market. Determine the demand for homes in the area compared to the inventory. Decide on a price that will allow the home to sell within a relatively short period of time. And lastly, be satisfied if your home sells quickly near the price you put on it.
As people near or enter retirement, one of the decisions that typically comes up is whether to sell their “big” home and buy a smaller one. If you know anyone who has been faced with that situation, selling one home and buying a smaller one may not save enough money to make it worthwhile.
There are sales expenses on the property being sold and acquisition costs on the replacement home. Generally speaking, homeowners may not mind a home with less square footage, but they usually don’t want to give up amenities or locations that they’ve become accustomed.
After a little number crunching, the move may not make enough difference in savings and they end up staying in their current home even if it doesn’t fit their needs anymore.
What if while this couple were still in their peak earning years, they acquired a home in an area where they would consider retiring and rent it during the interim. They could put it on a 15-year mortgage and possibly, even accelerate the principal payments to have it paid off by their anticipated move.
In the meantime, they could continue living in the “big” home until it is time to make the transition. Sell the “big” home that may be paid for by then and avoid up to $500,000 of capital gain. Take part of the proceeds and remodel the rental/transitional home and invest the proceeds for retirement income.
Ideally, the former rental would be mortgage free by this point, so the retirees would not have a house payment. Even if at this point, they changed their mind about retiring to this particular home, they still have a property that acted as a hedge against rising prices and have sufficient equity to purchase something else without using the proceeds from the “big” home.
It is difficult to know what the situation will be years from now when a person retires. It is clearly advantageous to have a plan that allows for options and choices. To find out more about purchasing your retirement home today, give me a call at (727) 513-7828.
For the last 25 years, most buyers have gotten a new mortgage or paid cash when purchasing a home. For a practical reason, owner-occupant buyers have another alternative: assuming a lower interest rate existing FHA or VA mortgage.
In the late 80’s, both FHA and VA began requiring buyers to qualify to assume their mortgages. Prior to that, good credit or even a job wasn’t required. The real reason there haven’t been significant numbers of assumptions in the past 25 years is that interest rates have been steadily going down. If a person had to qualify, they might as well do it on a new loan and get a lower interest rate.
Even though mortgage money is currently attractive and available, it is at a four-year high. When interest rates on new mortgages are higher than the rates of assumable FHA and VA mortgages originated in the recent past, it may be more advantageous to assume the existing mortgages. Conventional loans have due on sale clauses that prevent them from being assumed at the existing rate.
FHA loans that originated with lower than current interest rates have great advantages for buyers and sellers.
- Interest rate won’t change for qualified buyer
- Lower interest rate means lower payments
- Lower closing costs than originating a new mortgage
- Easier to qualify for an assumption than a new loan
- Lower interest rate loans amortize faster than higher ones
- Equity grows faster because loan is further along the amortization schedule
- Assumable mortgage could make the home more marketable
This financing alternative can save money for the buyer in closing costs and monthly payments. While the equity may be more than the down payment on a new mortgage, second mortgages are available to make up the difference. Call us at (727) 513-7828 to find out if this may be an option for you.
Homeowners are familiar that they can deduct the interest and property taxes from their income tax returns. They also understand that there is a substantial capital gains exclusion for qualified sales of up to $250,000 if single and $500,000 for married filing jointly. However, ongoing recordkeeping tends to be overlooked.
New homeowners should get in the habit of keeping all receipts and paperwork for any improvements or repairs to the home. Existing homeowners need to be reminded as well, in case they have become lax in doing so.
These expenditures won’t necessarily benefit in the annual tax filing but may become valuable when it is time to sell the home because it raises the basis or cost of the home.
For instance, let’s say a single person buys a $350,000 home that appreciates at 6% a year. Twelve years from now, the home will be worth $700,000. $250,000 of the gain will be exempt with no taxes due but the other $100,000 will be taxed at long-term capital gains rate. At 15%, that would be $15,000 in taxes due.
Assume during the time the home was owned that a variety of improvements totaling $100,000 had been made. The adjusted basis in the home would be $450,000 and the gain would only be $250,000. No capital gains tax would be due.
Some repairs may not qualify as improvements but if the homeowner has receipts for all the money spent on the home, the tax preparer can decide at the time of sale. Small dollar items can really add up to substantial amounts over many years of homeownership.
You can download a Homeowner’s Tax Worksheet that can help you with this recordkeeping. The important thing is to establish a habit of putting receipts for home expenditures in an envelope, so you’ll have it when you are ready to sell.