Home Purchase

Gifting a Home

Are you planning on gifting a home to someone this holiday season? For most people, a gift this generous is probably out of the question. But maybe you had a good year financially, and a family member needs the help. Whatever the case is, here are some guidelines when it comes to giving the gift of real estate.

Buying a new home outright

Instead of buying a new home outright, it may be wise to gift the cash for the home, NOT the home itself. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to what they want in a home, so allowing the recipient of your generous gift to choose their home is probably a much safer idea.

We highly recommend running this by your accountant, as you may also need to file a gift tax return.

Gifting the down payment

Gifting money for a down payment works in pretty much the same way—except when it comes to the mortgage. If there’s even the slightest hint that the money is a loan rather than a gift, it can hinder the recipient’s ability to get a mortgage.

You’ll want to work closely with the recipient’s lender to file the appropriate paperwork, which will include a verified gift letter certifying the funds are a gift, not a loan. The lender will also likely need to examine your finances to determine if you’re able to gift. And remember, most lenders won’t permit gifts from nonfamily members.

Gifting an existing home

Would your children love to own the home they grew up in? Unfortunately this is a poor option, especially if both parents are still living.

One of the tricky struggles with gifting a home you own is the differential between the cost basis (what you first paid for the house) and the current fair market value—which could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on how long you’ve owned it and the appreciation in the area.

This might not matter if your children plan to live in the home forever: The gift will be subject to your gift tax limit, and they’ll only pay capital gains tax if they sell. But if (and, likely, when) they sell, they’ll be stuck paying taxes on the difference.

If you’re determined to gift someone a home this holiday season, remember to keep these guidelines in mind. It IS possible, but of course it’s extremely important to consult your accountant and/or financial advisors to ensure it’s done in the right way.

home for rent

2 Ways to Build Passive Income Streams in Different Markets

It's wise to build passive income streams in the young adult years and allow them to grow. Before long, you'll be earning significant money from your previous work.

Two Easy Ways to Build Significant Passive Income

Passive income is great because it's a way to earn income without putting in a lot of work on a consistent basis. Technically, passive income works because a person does an amount of work in the beginning, but the cash flow is reoccurring and provides financial health. This is especially beneficial for the older generations as they continue to age and desire to preserve their energy.

Invest in Real Estate: Condos, High Rises, Homes

For some people, the thought of owning multiple properties may sound daunting and almost impossible. However, there are many ways to earn money as a real estate investor. One of these ways involves rentals. You can purchase a home, condo, or high rise by researching various investment property financing options. Don't be deterred by the idea just because of the finances. When you prepare a house to put on the market as a rental, you'll be able to earn a lot of money on a monthly basis. A few years of rental income can easily pay off an entire mortgage without your help and the rest becomes profit.

Books, Music and Other Copyrighted Material

Books are great forms of passive income for building wealth. An author spends a significant amount of time writing a book. Once it's published and available for sale, the book will sell over and over. The same concept applies to music. The percentage that's paid to the creator is called a royalty. With the right marketing plan and a wide audience, anyone can experience royalty checks in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are also many celebrities who make a lot of money from their book tours and book signings. If you don't consider yourself a good writer, but you have a story to tell, hire a ghostwriter. They'll create the content and you'll be able to eloquently share the story with the world.

Finances and the Future

Passive income streams eliminate the process of exchanging time for money. When you free up your time and can still earn lots of money, this is a dream that most people long to experience. In the meantime, be intentional about creating passive income streams and you'll experience financial freedom in no time.

mortgage application

10 Questions to Ask Your Mortgage Lender

One of THE MOST important stages in the home-buying process is finding a reputable lender or mortgage broker to handle your transaction. A good lender will respect that you work hard for your money — and you want to spend it wisely.

After running a credit check, your lender will present you with options for what you may qualify to borrow. The mortgage amount can be different depending on two things: the product and interest rate. Since the interest rate determines what you’ll owe every month on that balance, understanding how different mortgage products work is key. Here are 10 questions to ask to make sure you’re getting the best rate (and the best deal).

  1. What is the interest rate?

Your lender will offer you an interest rate based on the loan and your credit. The interest rate, along with the mortgage balance and loan term, will determine your real monthly payment. A loan with a lower balance or a lower interest rate will make for a smaller monthly payment. If you’re not satisfied with the interest rates offered, work to clean up your credit so you can qualify for a lower interest rate.

  1. What is the monthly mortgage payment?

As you develop a budget for your new home, make sure you can afford this monthly mortgage payment — and be sure to include insurance and taxes in your monthly payment calculations. And don’t forget about short-term financial goals — say, saving up for a vacation or buying a new computer — and long-term retirement goals to consider. Your monthly mortgage payment shouldn’t be so high that your money can’t work toward your other financial goals.

  1. Is the mortgage fixed rate or an ARM?

Fixed-rate loans keep the same rate for the life of the loan, which can range between 10 and 30 years. Adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, have interest rates that change after an initial period at regular intervals. If you don’t plan to stay in your home long-term, a hybrid ARM with an initial fixed-rate period may be a better choice, since this type of loan tends to have lower interest rates than fixed-rate mortgages.

If you do consider an ARM, make sure you ask (and understand!) when the rate will change and by how much. Ask how often the rate will change after the initial interest rate change, the index that it’s tied to, and the loan’s margin. There are usually caps to how much the interest rate can increase during one period and over the life of the loan, so recalculate the monthly payment to make sure you can afford that higher rate.

  1. What fees do I have to pay?

One-time fees, typically called “points,” are due at closing. For every point you pay, your lender will decrease your interest rate by 1%. You can also inquire about whether you might have the option of paying zero closing fees in exchange for a higher interest rate.

  1. Does the loan have any prepayment penalties?

If you’re saving up to make some extra mortgage payments to pay off your mortgage principal early, you may have to pay a fee. Don’t forget to ask this important question.

  1. When can I lock in the interest rate and points, and how much does this cost?

Your lender may be able to lock in your interest rate for a time, and for a fee. If rates go up, you’ll still be able to benefit from a lower rate on your mortgage.

  1. What are the qualifying guidelines for this loan?

The underwriting guidelines are different for every loan, as are income and reserve requirements. Along with requiring you to have sufficient funds for the down payment and closing costs, most mortgages require proof of income and reserves of up to six months of mortgage payments.

  1. What is the minimum down payment required for this loan?

Different loan products have different down payment requirements. Most mortgages require a 20% down payment, but if you qualify for an FHA loan, for example, your down payment could be as low as 3.5%. In general, loans with lower down payments cost more.

  1. Do I have to pay for mortgage insurance, and how much will this cost?

Putting down less than 20% on your purchase requires paying mortgage insurance until your loan-to-value, or LTV, ratio falls below 80%. Mortgage insurance premiums can be expensive, sometimes costing up to $100 per month for every $100,000 borrowed.

  1. Do you have other mortgage products with lower rates that I qualify for?

The best way to comparison-shop is to start with your current lender. They probably offer more than one type of loan, and these may have terms better suited to your financial situation.