Seller Information

Information for Home Sellers, Tips for Home Sellers, and helpful insights into the Home Selling process.

Active Listings in The Twin Cities at a Low Point

Single Family homes for sale in the Twin Cities Metro Area bottomed out last fall, and have flatlined since. We have not experienced our typical spring surge of inventory yet. Current inventory levels are just over 10,000 active listings, after a peak in 2008 of a little over 20,000 active listings. All Active listings are noted on the Magenta Line. Traditional listings show a slow and steady increase from last Summer, while the distressed sales show an equal decline over the same time period.

Inventories of distressed sales peaked in 2011, and have slowly declined since. Lower numbers of active listings can be attributed to a robust buyer demand as indicted by strong levels of pending and closed sales.

Liens Placed on Properties will be Reduced

Since the start of the recession, tax liens have risen more than 60% making it difficult for individuals to obtain affordable housing and jobs. This month, the IRS announced the number of liens placed on properties  owned by delinquent tax payers will be significantly reduced, making it easier to get them withdrawn.  A tax lien can also affect a homeowners credit scored and their ability to sell their property.
The IRS will raise the thresholds from $5,000 to $10,000 owed back taxes. In addition,  taxpayers who make payment arrangements with the IRS will be able to have their lien withdrawn.  The IRS also announced they have broadened their “Offer in Compromise”  program which allows taxpayers to negotiate a tax reduction. In order to qualify, an individual must demonstrate  that they have exhausted all available resources (Taxpayers with annual incomes up to $100,000 can now participate). For further information, please contact an IRS office or website.

Jobs and Homeownership ~ You can’t have one without the other

Good jobs enable people to achieve the American Dream of homeownership. Everytime a house is built, bought or sold jobs are created, lots of them…right here at home.
Home sales in the United Estates generate more than 2.5 million private sector jobs in an average year. For every two homes sold, a job is created. Every home purchased produces up to $60,000 into the economy over time for furniture, home improvements and related items. Housing accounts for more than 15% of the Gross Domestic Product, making it a key driver in our national economy. Housing has led this country out of 6 of the last eight recessions.
America needs jobs. Housing creates jobs. This is one of the many reasons home ownership matters to people, to communities and to our country. (National Association of Realtors supporting Homeownership) For more information visit HouseLogic.com

Tax Season is Here ~ Review your Homeowner Tax Advantages

One of the advantages of owning a home is that it can reduce the amount of income tax you pay every year.
With tax season here, prepare all your documentation in advance to factor in all your tax advantages.  Here is a list of benefits for homeowners:
  • Home Buyer tax credits:  You are entitled to a tax credit of up to $8,000 if you purchased your first home before April 30, 2010. Anyone  who owned and home and sold it to purchase another before April 30, 2010 is eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $6,500.
  • Loan fee deductions: Certain requirements need to be met to qualify for prepaid interest deductions when purchasing or refinancing a property. However, you may deduct points, origination fees and loan discount fees, even if the seller paid these for you.
  • Property tax deductions: In addition to deducting the property taxes you pay each year, you are entitled to deduct the taxes you paid at the closing table in the year you purchased a home.
  • Mortgage interest deduction: You may deduct the amount of interest including late charges you pay on your mortgage and home equity loans. If your down payment was less than 20% you may also deduct private mortgage insurance premiums as interest expenses.
  • Selling your home costs: You may deduct the costs related to the sale of your home (in the year you sold it), such as real estate commissions, title insurance, legal fees, advertising, administrative costs and inspection fees. This includes decorating or repair costs incurred in the 90 days before the sale of your home.
  • The gain on you home: The government allows you up to $250,000 (double for married couples) of profit on the sale of your home tax free. However, this does not apply to rental property or second homes. You are also allowed to subtract any amounts you spend on improvements, and in 2010 you can receive tax credits for making energy saving upgrades to your home. Money invested for routine maintenance doesn’t count. 
         Remember….. Consult with your tax professional about tax laws to be sure your are following the rules.

Check out the Minneapolis Housing Fair on February 26, 2011

FREE and Open to the Public!

This event will take place on February 26 from 10 AM to 3 PM. The Housing Fair is centrally located in South Minneapolis at South High School.

There will be almost 100 vendors to answer your questions and advice on home remodeling, basement finishing, kitchen and bath transformation, landscaping plus woodcraft for kids! In addition everyone will have the opportunity to connect with a broad range of community experts. Click here for directions

Fannie Mae Launches WAYSHOME Interactive Video Tool to Help Struggling Homeowners

In an effort to connect with homeowners across the country affected by a variety of hardships  during this challenging economy phase, Fannie Mae has launched WaysHome, a free multi-media tool designed to educate homeowners about their options to avoid foreclosure. Homeowners have a significantly better chance of finding a solution by maintaining proactive working with their Mortgage Company and using consumer tools to make educated decisions about their properties. WaysHome addresses a range of options homeowners can utilize to avoid foreclosure that include repayment plans, forbearances, modifications, deeds-in-lieu, and short sales. For more information, visit www.KnowYourOptions.com

HAFA – Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program

Keeping families in their homes is a top priority for REALTORS®. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to meet this goal. While there are loan modification and other programs that can help families, not everyone will qualify. For many families who are at risk of losing their home through foreclosure, a program from the Treasury Department may be able to help you.
 I n February 2009, the Obama Administration introduced the Making Home Affordable Program — a plan to stabilize the housing market and help struggling homeowners stay in their homes.  One of the possible ways to help families stay in their homes is to modify mortgages to make them more affordable through a program called the Home Affordable Modification Program or HAMP.  While many families have received help through HAMP, far too many won’t be able to keep their home even with a loan modification. 
For these families, the Treasury Department has established a short sales program called the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program or HAFA. HAFA is designed to streamline short sales by providing a uniform process and standard forms, as well as incentives for families and their mortgage servicers to complete the process. It offers homeowners who sell their homes under HAFA $3,000 to help cover their moving costs. HAFA may be able to help you through the difficult process of selling your home and moving to another home.
 Benefits of HAFA
  • HAFA streamlines the short sales and DIL processes to make it easier for you to work with the servicer.
  • You receive a check for $3,000 at closing to help with your moving costs.
  • You will be fully released from future liability for your first mortgage debt (no cash contribution, promissory note or deficiency judgment is allowed). Also, any junior lien holder who accepts a HAFA incentive must also release you from future liability.
 HAFA Elgibility
  • The property must be your primary residence.
  • The first lien (your first loan on your home) must have been originated before January 1, 2009.
  • The mortgage must be delinquent or default must be reasonably foreseeable.
  • The current unpaid principal balance may not be more than $729,750 (there are higher limits for 2- to 4-unit dwellings).
  • Your total monthly payment must exceed 31% of your gross income.
Even if you meet these threshold requirements, the servicer must consider your particular circumstances. Not everyone will qualify. Sometimes the owner of the mortgage has rules that mean you or your home may not be eligible. That’s why it is so important to work closely with the servicer.
Fore more information on short sales, HAFA, and avoiding short sales I recommend that you visit www.AllForeclosureAnswers.com

Feeling Financially Squeezed?

Lenders Primed for Short Sales in 2011

Short sales are another option for homeowners struggling with unaffordable mortgage payments. In fact, lenders’ losses due to foreclosure are projected to increase at record rates in 2011, giving them more reason to pursue short sales. Today’s article in the Star Tribune noted that a record number of preforeclosure notices were sent out in 2010, setting us up for another year with a significant number of homeowners battling foreclosure.  It’s common sense that lenders will be looking toward the short sale solution. Even though they are accepting less than is owed on the property, they lose far less than in a foreclosure sale. 
It may be a surprise to many that lenders actually want to work out a solution that benefits all parties. Oftentimes, the lender is seen as the villain in the situation. I’ve found that the lenders want to avoid foreclosure just as much as homeowners.   Homeowers that are feeling financially squeezed can find free information on short sales at www.AllForeclosureAnswers.com You will find a  downloadable report that talks more about working with your lender, and details all the foreclosure alternatives available to you.

First Steps to Selling a Home

Thinking of selling your home?

There is a wealth of information online for buyers, but that’s not the case for sellers. We have been working with sellers in the area since 1985 and are familiar with the subjects sellers want to know. Throughout our years of experience we have listened to our clients about what they feel is important. We have designed our seller services to meet the needs of a seller — frequent and honest communication, the supply of up-to-date and pertinent information about the market and feedback from showings, as well as the use of tested and proven marketing plan. Not only that, we have cultivated a network of other successful Realtors around the country that assist our clients in selling their homes in other areas in order to relocate to the Twin Cities.

How long will it take to sell your home?

Every home is unique and every seller’s situation is different. Amenities, area, condition, and pricing all come into play as well as a host of other variables. Though it is impossible to know for sure how long your home will be on the market, careful evaluation of these factors can supply a realistic estimate.
A market analysis is the best place to start. Even if you’re not sure when you plan to move, we can assist you in determining a range of value, what you can do to get your home ready for sale, and evaluate your needs for your next home. Part of our market analysis is taking close look at the market for your particular type of home including: how many comparable homes are available, what price similar homes are selling for, the seasonal factors relating to your home’s sale, and so forth.

What was the sale price of the home down the street?

As a homeowner, it is a good idea to keep an eye on property values in your neighborhood. We offer a free service called My Street. It’s a program we have developed, originally for our past clients, that allows you to keep track of real estate market activity on the street that you live. All we ask is that you give us an interview to list your home when, or if, you decide to sell. The information about homes on your street is delivered to your email. Sign up today – it’s free!
  • Are you willing to move twice? If you put your home on the market and it sells before you find a home you like and close on it, is moving into temporary housing a realistic option for you?
  • What about “bridge” or “swing” financing? If you put your home on the market, then find a home, are you eligible and willing to commit to a short-term loan that would allow you to purchase the next home before your current home sells?
  • Do you have special needs in a home? Are you looking for a unique property or are you flexible about what features and amenities your next home needs to have? Keep in mind, the more specific requirements you have about your next home, the longer it could take to find it.
  • Do you know how much you will net from the sale of your home? Will the sale of your current home be supplying you with money that will allow you to purchase your next home? If your home does not sell for what you had initially envisioned, will that compromise your plans for buying your next home?
These are all issues that your Perkins Team agent can help you sort through. We have had an abundance of experience working with clients in a variety of situations. We usually suggest getting a market analysis of your current home and contacting your mortgage banker (contact us for our recommendations) to explore your financing options. Armed with all the facts, the course of action is much easier to plan. We’d love to interview with you for a chance to win your trust and your business.

“I thought the seller paid the title fees?”

In January 2010, RESPA (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) mandated changes to the Good Faith Estimate (GFE) and the HUD-1 Settlement Statement (HUD-1) so consumers could better understand and compare fees for Title Services. Title services are now placed in a “bucket” in block 4 of the GFE and quoted to the buyer early in the lending process.
The Minnesota Association of Realtor’s (MNAR) previous purchase agreement (pre-September 2010) had language which required the seller to pay some of the costs included in block 4 of the GFE (specifically, title evidence); the remainder of the title exam and title insurance fees had typically been funded by the buyer.
Since the buyer is the party who shops for title services and is able to make a value judgment as to the services being quoted by different vendors offering the services contained in block 4 of the GFE, the MNAR’s Forms Committee felt it would be easier and more market oriented if we modified the form so buyers would be responsible for paying the fees being quoted to them.
This change also corrects a market inefficiency whereby some title service providers would decrease one fee and increase another in order to secure business. The RESPA change was focused on making sure consumers understood what they were being charged in relation to the services being provided by identifying the total title service cost in one “lump sum” bucket. By making the buyer responsible for the fees they are being quoted in block 4 of the GFE, the buyer can make educated decisions as to the cost and value of the various service providers. Keeping those fees placed in the buyer’s “bucket” on the HUD-1 as charges that are ultimately paid by buyer (unless negotiated or agreed to be paid by seller) increases the transparency in the transaction and helps preserve the objective the change in the HUD-1 was designed to achieve.
In the end, a buyer can choose to have the seller contribute to their closing costs, choose to lower the property price or do any combination of things to best satisfy their needs in the real estate negotiations. The change in title language within our purchase agreement is a point from which parties can negotiate, but also provides a default position if they choose not to further negotiate. It is not a requirement, nor are our forms required to be used in residential real estate transactions. The title fees, thanks to RESPA changes, are no longer vague, misconstrued or unknown by the consuming public. Buyers will receive a firm price in their GFE that cannot vary by more than a specific amount. Armed with that knowledge, the buyer can structure the purchase agreement in a way that best satisfies their situation and open the negotiations so all parties know within a very small window what the final closing costs will be.