Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Living large in small spaces: 6 reasons to fall in love with a smaller home.

Bigger isn't always better. Here are 6 great reasons to consider a smaller home if you're in the market

1.Lower costs - Above all else, the greatest reason to buy smaller is for the money you'll save. In addition to more reasonable purchase prices, smaller homes will be less expensive to heat and cool, and less expensive to maintain.
2.Easier resale - The old adage "buy the smallest house in the best neighborhood" is as true now as ever. With today's economic uncertainty and ever-rising energy costs, smaller homes are more attractive than ever to savvy buyers.
3.Your eco-footprint - The green movement and sustainable living have gone mainstream, and one of the best all-around ways to "green your life" is to start with your home. Small homes use fewer natural resources than large ones, and less storage space means less unnecessary consumption.
4.Clutter - Few things can be as mentally oppressive as the clutter in our lives - the things we own but don't use that begin to accumulate and weigh us down. Without excess room to jam-pack with "stuff," it becomes much easier to eliminate clutter and simplify our lives.
5.Time - In addition to cost savings, smaller homes come with reduced maintenance, upkeep, and everyday cleaning responsibilities. This opens up time to devote to other things that may be more meaningful and fulfilling. Who couldn't use the luxury of more time in their life?
6.Freedom - Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the sum of all of these benefits can leave you, as a homeowner, with a newfound sense of freedom. More money and time equates to more choices in how you live your life and spend your free time.
As always, home ownership is a matter of finding the right balance for YOU, and tilting the scale towards a smaller home can be a great way to stay focused on the things that are most important in your life.

Open Season: Pros and Cons of holding an open house

Many Realtors and Sellers are looking for a fresh idea....turning the clocks back to a time-honored sales tactic - here are some considerations to help you decide whether to "open up" when you are selling your home.

Pros of holding an open house
1 Activity and buzz
Even when open houses do not result in a serious Buyer, the increase in foot traffic and advertising visibility. The added exposure from the openhouse ads in the local Sunday paper, extra signage, mailer, as well as feedback from attendees can all be very helpful.

2. Serious buyers still use open houses
While it is often difficult to weed out serious buyers from nosy neighbors and the looky lu's, research shows that serious Buyers do still use open houses as a part of their research.

3. Less intimidating
Brand new to the market, tentative, or semi-serious Buyers can be less intimated by open houses. Open house maybe just the push a Buyer on the fence needs to become a serious buyer.

4. Convenience for home shoppers
A big plus for many open house attendees is that they allow the opportunity to view properties without setting up appointments.

5. Cost
Another plus is that, as a sales and marketing tactic, open houses are fairly inexpensive.

6. Ready or Not
Openhouses help Owners finish up those last minute to-do's. It sets a date for the home to be "show" ready!

Cons of holding an open house
1 Laborious for homeowner
There's no two ways about it - making sure a house is properly cleaned and staged, inside and out, for a successful open house takes a lot of work on the part of the homeowner.

2. Homeowner Inconvenience
Another unfortunate truth of an open house event is that they can require homeowners (along with their family and pets) to be gone, often for an entire afternoon, at times when they would otherwise like to be relaxing at home.

3. Security issues
When holding an open house, you are essentially opening your doors to everyone, neighbors and strangers alike. It is important to take precautions to make sure that all valuables are out of the house. Make the assumption that all closets, drawers, and cabinets will be opened, and while theft is rare, it does happen.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Home Ownership Matters

Home ownership has a significant impact on net worth, educational achievement, civic participation, health, and overall quality of life. And, home ownership helps create jobs—lots of them—right here at home.

Home Ownership matters…to people, to communities, and to America. Why?
  • For every two homes sold, one job is created in the U.S.
  • Each purchase generates as much as $60,000 in economic activity over time.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Synergy Building Last Homes in The Back Nine at Henderson!

Photo by David Legass

If you're looking for a quality golf community in Savannah, Georgia than the Henderson Golf Community is for you!  Located within two miles of I- 95, HWY 204 and HWY 17, Henderson Golf community is convenient to shopping, restaurants, and entertainment.
Photo by David Legass
The Henderson Golf Community's mature landscaping offers a beautiful community filled with swimming pools, biking paths and golf while still being close to malls, schools, the Ft Stewart and Hunter military bases, Savannah and Richmond Hill.

As Savannah's favored golf course, Henderson has been voted Savannah's best and most affordable public golf club which has hosted several Georgia PGA events.  As you play on the lush green you'll have a beautiful forest view and local wildlife can be seen in the background such as deer, blue heron, foxes and egrets.  Henderson also offers affordable club memberships and golf course classes, and a lighted practice facility.  The Clubhouse Grill serves drinks and grilled favorites everyday such as sandwiches and salads.

At Henderson Golf Community, single family homes, patio homes, town houses and apartments are available located both on and off the golf courses.

Synergy Designer Homes is now building on the last available new homes and lots in this neighborhood so don't miss out on your chance to live in a premiere golf community in a quality, elegant home built by Synergy!

The Colleton Plan
We are introducing two new floor plans in the Henderson Community, the Colleton and the Dillon.

The Colleton plan is 1891 heated square feet with the option of adding a bonus room over the garage for a total of 2108 square feet.  It features 4 bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms plus brick exterior.

The Dillon Plan

The Dillon plan is 1888 heated square feet plus a 4th bedroom for a total of 2269 heated square feet.  It features 4 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths.

For More Information Contact:
The Patrick/Darley Team
912-656-3203 or 912-308-3707

New Floorplans at the Enclave!

Berwick Plantation, located in Savannah, Georgia, is divided into many distinct yet interconnected neighborhoods each with their own individual character and charm.  The Enclave is the most sought after of these neighborhoods mainly because of its 350 acres of beautiful protected woodlands and small lakes plus the many first class amenities and its convenient location residents can enjoy.

As Synergy expands and builds in the Enclave neighborhood at Berwick Plantation, we introduce two new plans:  the Colleton (also found in the Henderson Golf Community) and the Beaufort.   These plans can be found on lots 102 and 104, respectively on Hidden Lagoon Court.  We also have a move-in ready home completed on lot 103 featuring our Madison plan.


The Colleton Plan
The Colleton: lot 102 
* 3 Bedroom + 2 Bonus Rooms!        * Lakefront Home!          
* 2 car garage                                    * 3 1/2 Bath          
*Two-story                                         * Master Bed on Main     * Total heated sq ft: 2416 sq ft           * Covered Rear Porch


The Beaufort Plan
The Beaufort: lot 104 
* 4 Bedrooms                                   * 2 1/2 bath                   
* Lakefront Home!                            * 2 car garage    
* Den              * Loft                          * Total heated sq ft: 2809
* Optional fireplace in great room     * Two story

Located close to both I-95 and I-16 in the growing city of Pooler, the Enclave is merely minutes from the Savannah International Airport, downtown Savannah and the Savannah Mall.  This prime location is also conveniently close to both military bases; Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Stewart.  Residents of the Enclave enjoy nearby shopping and restaurants within walking or biking distance.

Lagoon-style pool and lounge area

Life in the Enclave is enhanced with its luxury amenities.  Enjoy a refreshing swim in the lagoon style swimming pool or just relax on comfy chairs around the pool.   Take brisk walks along the pedestrian friendly sidewalks and community open spaces or play tennis on one of four courts for nearly year-round exercise.  The two-story Amenity center features a state of the art fitness center, billiards room, cafe, library and 30 seat private movie theater.

If you're looking for a new home in a convenient, quality neighborhood, than a premiere home by Synergy Designer Homes at The Enclave at Berwick Plantation is right for you!  Contact us at 912-656-3203 or 912-308-3707 for more information.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

VA loan Benefits

Use Your VA Loan Benefit

  • Buy a home with no down payment
  • Refinance to lower your monthly payments
  • Save more with no Private Mortgage Insurance requirement
Interest rates are at all time lows. Now is the time to get up to $417,000 through your
VA Home Loan.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

5 Things Home Buyers Do That Turn Sellers Off (and Kill Deals)

5 Things Home Buyers Do That Turn Sellers Off (and Kill Deals)
March 30, 2011 4:09 PM - 117 comments - 48,626 views
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On today’s market, every savvy seller wants to know what turns buyers off, so they can get their homes sold as quickly as possible, for as much as possible.  But buyers, take note – there is a minefield of seller turn-offs you can trigger that hold the potential to keep you from getting the home you want at the best price and terms, or to unnecessarily complicate dealings with your home’s seller.

Lest you think all of today’s sellers are under the gun and will just put up with whatever behavior buyers dish out, be aware that there are still many multiple offer situations in which buyers have to compete with each other to get a home – buyers who trigger these turnoffs tend to lose in those scenarios.  Also, avoiding these seller turnoffs can create a transactional environment of cooperation and avoid things turning adversarial.  That, in turn, can empower you to score a better price, get extra items you want thrown into the deal, and even negotiate more flexibility around your escrow and move-in timelines – all perks that can make your life easier and your budget go further.

For sellers, these turnoffs pose the potential of irritating you out of an otherwise good deal – maybe even the only deal you have!

Here’s a few of the most common buyer-perpetuated seller turnoffs, with tips for sellers on how to keep an emotional (and economic) even keel, even if your home’s buyer makes some of these waves:

1. Trash-talking. Trash-talkers are the home buyers who think they’re going to negotiate the list price down by slamming the house, telling the sellers how little it is really worth, how the house across the street sold for nothing, why the school on the corner should make them desperate to give the place away, etc. This strategy never works; in fact, when you attack a seller and their home, you only cause them to be defensive, and think up all the reasons that (a) their home is not what you say it is, and (b) they shouldn’t sell their home to you! 

Sometimes this happens with buyers who actually love a house and just walk around it fantasizing about all the ways they would customize it to their tastes while a seller is there.  Sellers: avoid being at home while your home is being shown.  Buyers: save your commentary for your agent; if you do encounter the seller in person keep your conversation respectful and avoid critiquing the house or the list price.

2. Being unqualified for mortgage financing. When a seller signs a buyer’s offer, most often the seller agrees to effectively pull the home off the market, forgoing other buyers who might be interested.  As such, the only thing worse than getting no offers on your home is getting an offer, getting into contract, then having the whole thing fall apart when the buyer’s loan falls through – especially if that could have been predicted or avoided up front.

Sellers: Work with your agent to vet your home’s buyers’ qualifications, including their loan approval, down payment and earnest money deposit – before you sign a contract.  It’s not overkill for your agent to call the buyers’ mortgage pro before you sign the contract and get a level of comfort for how robust their qualifications are.  Buyers:  Get pre-approved.  Seriously.  And make sure that you don’t buy a car, quit your job, deposit lottery winnings or do any other financial twitchery between the time you get loan approval and the time you close escrow on your home.

3. Making unjustified lowball offers. No one likes to feel like they are being taken advantage of.  And sellers generally know the ballpark amount that their home is worth, as well as what they need to sell it for to get their mortgage paid off.  Yes – the price you pay for a home should be driven by its fair market value, rather than the seller’s financial needs, and deals are more available in a market like the current one, in which supply so vastly outpaces demand. But just throwing uber-lowball offers out at sellers hoping one will hit the spot is not generally a successful strategy, especially if you really, really want a given property.

Sellers:  Don’t get overly emotional about receiving a lowball offer; counter at the price you and your agent decide makes sense based on the total circumstances, including your motivation level, recent comps and the interest/activity level your listing is receiving. Buyers:  Work through the similar, nearby homes that have recently sold (a/k/a comparables) before you make an offer to factor the home’s fair market value into your offer price – also factor in how much you want the place, too.  Don’t be amazed if you make an offer far below asking, and don’t get a response.

4. Renegotiating mid-stream. Sellers plan their finances, moves and  - to some extent – their lives around the purchase price a buyer agrees to pay for their home.  If you get into contract to buy a home, find out during inspections that costly repairs need to be made, then propose a lower sale price, repair credit or even actual repairs to the seller, that’s sensible and fair.  But if you were aware that the property needed a lot of work before you made an offer on it, then you come back asking for beaucoup bucks’ worth of credit or price reductions midstream, expect the seller to cry foul.  And holding the seller up two weeks into the transaction because you caught a case of buyer's remorse? Not cool, and not likely to foster the spirit of cooperation you may need to get your deal closed.

Sellers: avoid mid-stream price renegotiations by having a full set of inspection reports and repair bids at hand when you list your home. Buyers: try to avoid renegotiating the entire deal unless you get some major surprises at your inspections or inflating small repairs to try to justify a major price cut.

5. Misleading or setting the seller up.  Remember when we talked about buyer turn-offs?  Being misled by listing photos or very fluffy property descriptions was high on the list.  The same goes for sellers.Offering way over asking with the plan to hammer the seller for a reduction when the house doesn’t appraise at the purchase price?  #LAME  Making an as-is offer planning the whole time to come back and ask for every penny ante repair called out by the inspectors?  Lame squared.

  If you get multiple offers and are tempted to take a sky-high one or one that claims to be all cash, consider requesting proof that the buyer has sufficient funds to make up the difference between what you think the home will appraise for and the actual sale price, and statements showing the cash truly exists.  Buyers: Don’t be lame. I’m not saying you have to tell the seller exactly what your top dollar is, but making offers with terms designed to intentionally mislead is really, really bad form – and can result in losing the home entirely if and when your bluff gets called.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Five Tax Tips, Tricks and Traps for Homeowners

Five Tax Tips, Tricks and Traps for Homeowners

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House with a sale pending sign outsideAsk a roomful of homeowners what's so great about owning versus renting, and you'll hear them holler in unison: "the tax deductions!" And it's true -- homeowners who itemize their taxes are able to deduct 100% of their mortgage interest and property taxes from their income tax returns.

That means that if you're in a 28% tax bracket, Uncle Sam effectively subsidizes about a third of your borrowing costs or more, making your home more affordable or allowing you to buy a larger home than you could have otherwise. Also, big chunks of your closing costs are tax deductible, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of any profit (or capital gains) that you realize when you sell your home are exempt from income taxes.

At tax time, it's critical to know what you're entitled to, so you can claim it. So, here are five essential need-to-knows about home-related income tax tips to help you get the most tax-reducing bang out of your home-owning buck -- and to avoid hefty home ownership-related tax traps.

1. You Have to Itemize Your Return to Claim Your Deductions

During the recent debate on Capitol Hill about whether the mortgage interest deduction should be eliminated (it won't be, not anytime soon), it came out that nearly 40% of homeowners lose out on their major tax advantages every year when they fail to itemize their income taxes. If you own a home and otherwise have a fairly simple return, it might be tempting just to take the standard deduction -- and if your mortgage, property taxes and income are low enough, the standard deduction might outweigh your homeowners' deductions. But you'll never know if you're losing out on the tax advantages of itemizing unless you try; before you grab a pen and start filling in that 1040-EZ grab those forms from your mortgage company and answer the questions on tax software like TurboTax, which will automatically do the math on whether itemizing or taking the standard deduction will result in the lowest tax bill -- or the highest tax refund -- for you.

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2. Plan Ahead and Be Strategic When Taking a Home Office Deduction

According to the Small Business Administration, the average home office deduction is $3,686 -- multiply that by your tax bracket -- 15%, 20%, 30% or whatever it is, and that's what you'll save on your taxes by writing off your home office. Know, though, that the space you designate as your home office cannot be exempted from capital gains tax when you sell your home later. The $250,000 (single)/ $500,000 (married filing jointly) income tax exemption for capital gains is only good on your personal residence, after all -- not including any space in your home you've claimed as your tax-advantaged office. If you foresee selling your home for much more than you bought it in the future, near or far, discuss this with your tax preparer to see if the few hundred bucks you save is worth the capital gains complication later.

3. Tax Relief for Loan Modifications, Short Sales and Foreclosures Is Only Around Through 2012

While the long-term housing outlook is beginning to look up, 2011 is projected to be the peak year for foreclosures during this market cycle. Distressed homeowners who are on the brink of a short sale, loan modification or foreclosure should be aware that normally, any mortgage balance that is wiped out by one of these outcomes is taxed as what the IRS calls Cancellation of Debt Income, or CODI.

Under the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act of 2007, the IRS is currently not charging income taxes on CODI incurred through a loan mod, short sale or foreclosure on most primary residences through 2012. But right now, banks are taking many months, or even years, to work out mortgages in all of these ways; the average foreclosure in New York state right now occurs only after 22 months of missed mortgage payments. If you foresee any of these outcomes in your future, don't put things off. Do what you can to get to closure on your distressed home and loan, ASAP, while you won't have income taxes to add as the insult on top of your significant housing injury.

4. Project the Income Tax Consequences of a Refinance or Property Tax Appeal

Homeowners everywhere are working on applying for a lower property tax bill on the basis of the last few years' decline in their home's value. Those who have equity have flocked en masse to refinance their 7% home loans into the 4% to 5% rates of the last few months. These strategies offer some of the heftiest household savings out there for the corresponding investment in time and money they take. But here's a caveat for savvy homeowners who slash these costs: remember that property taxes and mortgage interest, the very costs you're minimizing, are also the basis for the major tax benefits of being a homeowner. So plan ahead for your income tax deductions to go down along with your taxes and interest.

5. Don't Forget Those Closing Costs
If you bought or refinanced your home in 2010, you may be so focused on your mortgage interest and property tax deductions that you forget all about your closing costs. Any origination fees or discount points that were paid to your mortgage lender at closing are tax deductible on your 2010 return, get this -- even if the seller paid your closing costs. If you can't figure out exactly what you paid, look for your HUD-1 settlement statement, that legal sized paper full of line item credits and debits that you should have received from your escrow provider or title attorney at, or just after, closing. Can't find it? Drop your real estate agent or mortgage broker an email; they can usually get a copy to you quickly.