Archive for June, 2012

Reverse Mortgages – A Quick Overview

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

A reverse mortgage is essentially a loan against your home that you do not have to pay back for as long as you live there. It allows homeowners age 62 or older to borrow cash from the equity in their homes without having to make monthly payments. Homeowners can receive cash in a lump sum, through monthly payments, as a line of credit whenever they need money, or any combination of these options.

Reverse Mortgage Pros

Reverse mortgages are backed by (and regulated by) the federal government (HUD and FHA). This is a “non-recourse loan,” which means that the heirs of the seniors are not responsible for repaying the loan. In fact, a reverse mortgage is a loan that does not have to be repaid until both homeowners (assuming a couple) leave the home permanently, or pass away. No monthly payments are required.

The money the elderly receive from a reverse mortgage is tax free, and does not interfere with SSI or Medicare benefits. Some elderly people are using the extra cash flow to pay for in-home care, adult day care, prescription drugs, credit card debt, and home repairs.

Reverse Mortgage Cons

Eventually the loan must be repaid. Both principal and interest come due when the homeowners move, sell the house or die. And, because no monthly payments are being made, the amount owed will grow over time as interest costs build up and, in some cases, as additional funds are advanced.

The homeowner remains responsible for paying property taxes and insurance and for maintaining the house. Failure to do so can cause the reverse mortgage to become immediately due and payable in full.

While reverse mortgage proceeds do not affect Medicare or Social Security, they can affect Medicaid.

To understand the potential pros and cons of a reverse mortgage, talk to financial advisors and qualified housing counselors.


- You can receive the funds in a lump-sum, monthly, a line of credit or a combination of these options

- Homeowner can stay in the home without making monthly payments

- Eliminates existing mortgage payments

- Heirs are not personally liable if payoff balance exceeds home value

- Heirs inherit any remaining equity after paying off the reverse mortgage

- Proceeds are tax-free; however, please consult with your financial advisor

- Loan balance increases over time

- Value of estate inheritance may decrease over time as proceeds are spent

- Fees can be higher than a traditional mortgage

- Loan origination fee may be higher than traditional mortgages

- Although Social Security and Medicare eligibility are not affected by a reverse mortgage loan, needs-based government programs such as Medicaid can be affected if the amount of funds withdrawn from a reverse mortgage loan exceed the monthly income limits.

There is No Place Like Your Own Home

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

By Brian Kalfehn, Home for Life Renovations, LLC

Over the next decade, thousands of Americans just like you will ask this important question, how long can I independently live in my own home?  Seniors and people with disabilities often face having to leave their homes because they can no longer perform normal daily tasks.  However, making your home safe, accessible and comfortable is the new best choice for most people.

Moving from your home can be a traumatic experience. While many high quality supportive-living facilities are available, they can cost from $2,000 to $6,000 per month, or $24,000 to $72,000 per year. An accessible living renovation that allows you to remain in your own home is by far the most cost effective alternative, preserving your savings and adding years of independence. In addition, you can continue to live in a familiar neighborhood with access to friendly local stores, entertainment and places of worship.

If you are considering a renovation, here are some key areas to consider:

Entering and Exiting Your Home: Safe access into and out of your home is critical. A graded sidewalk or wheelchair ramp can be a very good solution or if you require a more compact solution, a vertical platform lift or porch lift can be installed for both indoor and outdoor use.

Bathrooms: Standard bathrooms present all sorts of challenges for people with restricted mobility. Fitting through doorways, getting in and out of bathtubs, and easily using the sink and toilet can provide similar challenges.  There are many products available today including raised toilets, walk-in or roll-in showers and decorative grab bars to enhance the look, function and safety of your bathroom.

Managing Stairs: Managing stairs can be the most challenging element of living at home. Stair lifts are easy to install and can fit the configuration of any staircase, straight or curved. However, a stair lift does require the ability to transfer in and out of the chair at the top and bottom of the stairs.  If transferring is an issue, an incline platform lift or even a residential elevator may be other options to consider.

Kitchens: A specialized kitchen renovation can create an extraordinarily functional space for everyone in the house to enjoy.  Counter and cabinet heights, adjustable shelving and other simple considerations can allow your continued enjoyment of cooking and enhance your safety.

If you are middle aged, a senior citizen, someone who is medically frail or living with a disability, Home for Life Renovations LLC can ensure that you and family members can live safely and independently in your own home for as long as you desire. Home for Life Renovation’s team of occupational therapists, designers, architects and CAPS certified contractors will manage every step of your renovation from plan to completion. To learn more about how you can remain in your own home and to arrange a free in-home consultation please call 585-444-0300 or visit our website at

Assessed Value vs. Market Value

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

By J-Man

Dear JMan, I have been looking to buy a house and there have been a couple homes that have really piqued my interest. The asking price is over the Assessed value, Does that mean they are over priced? How does one correlate to the other? Please help. I am a first time buyer and am really confused.

This question comes up quite often. The assessed value of a home is established by what the Town or municipality feels its worth. It can be right on, a little high or a little low. They do the best they can with the information that they are provided. I am sure you could imagine that on occasion there may be one or two homeowners that make improvements to the home and may forget to call the Town and let them know. It would almost be like them calling and saying “ Hi, my house is worth more now, can you please give me more taxes?” My advice would be to trust your Realtor. You have hired them for their expertise and the their market knowledge. They can pull current comparables in the area and tell what they feel its worth. They might even have shown some of the comparable properties and can tell you if you are comparing Apples to Apples or if some adjustments need to be made. I know that almost everyone likes to get a good “deal” but if your like the home and are comfortable with the payment then make it yours and write the offer. I have enclosed an excerpt from the Town of Greece website explaining what the Office of The Assessor does and maybe that will help you to understand the process. The process will vary Town ty Town and County to County but this provided just as an example. I am sure that your buyers agent will be looking out for your best interests and will recommend the “right” price. Keep in mind that the right price may be full price.

THIS IS FROM The Office of the Assessor is charged by New York State law with maintaining a uniform standard assessment of all real property within the Town of Greece. The Office of the Assessor is regulated by the New York State Real Property Tax Law (RPTL) and the Office of Real Property Services (ORPS).

Goals set forth: Maintain assessments as close to full market value as possible. Maintain property records utilizing state-of-the-art technologies. Work in conjunction with New York State to consistently apply all New York State Property Tax Laws inclusive of assessment procedures, records access, and exemptions.

Functions of the Assessor’s Office: Calculate, review and maintain assessment data property inventory, ownership, maps, and exemptions (in Greece this equates to approximately 33,000 parcels).

Prepare and maintain the town-wide assessment rolls and follow the assessment process calendar. Provide support to our constituents for the preparation and submission of tax exemptions (Seniors, Veterans, Basic STAR, Enhanced Senior Star, Disability, Business, Clergy, Agricultural and wholly exempt).

Review all building permits to determine any impact on the assessed value of property, update property records accordingly and notify property owners of any changes.

Provide customer support to our constituents regarding assessment of their property, exemptions and their rights under the New York State Real Property Tax Law.

Conduct ongoing reviews of property values including complete valuation updates as needed to maintain assessment at 100% of market value.

Review all deed information received from the County of Monroe to update property ownership information and any changes impacting the property’s value.

Review the basic information regarding the sales of real property for accuracy and any unusual conditions as described on the State Form EA-5217 which is completed at closing.

Have information available for sales activity and comparable assessments that may be beneficial in preparing for hearings or grievances .

Your guide to property assessment review in the Town of Greece.

In accordance with New York State law, the Town of Greece is required to maintain up-to-date assessment records. To meet the State’s guidelines, the Town of Greece conducted a valuation update for assessments in 2005

How the Valuation Process Works: Annual reassessment is the systematic review of town assessments to maintain a uniform percentage of value. A portion of the town’s assessments must be reviewed and adjusted annually so that all properties are reviewed within a six-year period.  This requires the Assessor to analyze and evaluate the market, and change where appropriate, the assessment of properties each year to maintain the current market value.  This allows the town to retain 100% equalization rate each year.  The equalization rate is used in determining the value of the town’s exemptions (i.e. STAR, seniors, disabled etc.)

Why Assess Properties? In addition to keeping values up to date, a valuation update allows the Assessor to keep pace with property changes and market conditions as well as inequities which may exist in the assessment roll. A properly conducted valuation update will result in each property taxpayer paying their fair share.

Why does the valuation of my property need to be reviewed? The Town of Greece must perform valuation reviews in accordance with New York State law. The goal is to ensure that every property owner is responsible for their fair share.

Who determines assessments?  The Town Assessor is responsible for assessing all of the properties at a uniform % of current market value. The Assessor bases the assessed value on information obtained through Mass Appraisals conducted on all properties, as determined by current market value. That is, the price a typical buyer would pay for your house in its present condition.

Please email all of your questions to and be sure to visit www.propertysourceblog for this and all past articles.

Landlords Cash in on Higher Demand

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

As Alex reported 6/16/2012 on Property Source Radio. – Daily Real Estate News | Tues June 12, 2012
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Taking advantage of an increase in home owners-turned-tenants, apartment landlords are raising their rents and expect to continue to do so.

During the first quarter, monthly apartment asking rents increased 2.2 percent year-over-year, reaching an average of $1,070, according to Reis, a property research firm.

Vacancies are at lows and developers are trying to rush projects of multifamily housing to meet the increased demand from renters, but continued constraints on lending has put the brakes on many projects, particularly in smaller markets.

“I’m optimistic about the multifamily sector, certainly for the next two years,” Kevin Thorpe, chief economist at Cassidy Turley, a commercial property brokerage, told Investor’s Business Daily. “We’ve entered a period of sustained rent growth.

The reason behind analysts’ optimism: Young professionals are increasingly turning to renting and more than 3 million former home owners, who have been displaced by foreclosures or short sales, are turning into renters.

Demand for single-family home rentals is increasing too, according to CoreLogic. A four-month supply of single-family homes is now available for rent, which is down from five months a year ago, according to CoreLogic data.

Source: “Rents Rise as Apartments See Demand,” Investor’s Business Daily (June 7, 2012)

Is Housing Slowly Turning to a Seller’s Market?

Saturday, June 9th, 2012

As Alex reported 6/9/2012 on Property Source Radio. – Daily Real Estate News | Tues June 5, 2012
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It’s been mostly a “buyer’s market” in the majority of housing markets for the past few years, but more Americans are seeing home buyers’ power in home sales and negotiations soon slipping away.

More Americans are reporting increased optimism when it comes to selling a home as prices take a gradual turn upward, according to a recent survey.

About 28 percent of Americans say it’s a good time to sell now, inching up from 13 percent last quarter, according to a survey by Redfin of more than 1,200 potential buyers in 18 metro areas.

Nearly 60 percent of the survey’s respondents say they think prices will rise this year, up from 34 percent last year.

Seventy-one percent of the respondents surveyed also said they are seeing more bidding wars and multiple bids on homes today, too.

Home buyers are increasingly being lured back to the housing market, according to several recent surveys. Many buyers say record-low interest rates and increased housing affordability has made buying more attractive. However, according to the Redfin survey, buyers also say the drop in inventory of homes for-sale is one reason to hold off on buying nowadays.

Source: “Redfin: Homebuyers Think the Market is Beginning to Favor Sellers,” HousingWire (June 4, 2012)

Consumer Confidence Reaches Highest Level in 4 Years

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

As Alex reported 6/2/2012 on Property Source Radio. – Daily Real Estate News | Tues May 29, 2012
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Americans are more positive about the direction of the economy, as consumer confidence reached its highest level since October 2007, according to a Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index on consumer sentiment.

Americans are more positive about the job market and salary increases, and may be more willing to spend, the index showed. Half of the consumers in the index said the economy had improved in the last year. And more consumers reported plans to buy cars and household durables.

Higher-income Americans are more optimistic about salary increases than lower-income Americans, according to the index. Americans with incomes greater than $75,000 predicted more salary increases with an average 2 percent boost in income by next year. However, Americans who make less than $75,000 only anticipate a 0.3 percent increase in salaries.

“You’ve got a variety of forces working on consumer sentiment at this point. You’ve got obviously concerns about Europe, the economy in general, lower stock prices — all those are a negative,” Scott J. Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Fla., told Reuters News. “But lower gasoline prices are a plus, so I think that’s probably part of the factor that you’ll see an increase in purchasing power if gasoline prices continue to move down.”

Source: “May Consumer Sentiment Highest in More Than 4 Years,” Reuters (May 25, 2012)