Category Archives: Finance

Lighting Conversion Plan

In 2007, Congress passed an energy act that required new energy-efficient standards for basic light bulbs. Standard incandescent bulbs are being phased out and eventually will be unavailable.41630011-250.jpg

The alternative bulbs differ considerably in price. LED bulbs are the most efficient but they also cost the most. CFLs are a less expensive alternative.  Interestingly, the more expensive replacements offer lower operating costs and longer economic life.

One approach will be to inventory the different types and quantities of light bulbs you need in your home. Then, research either online or a big box store to find out what each type of bulb costs. This information will give you a total budget for converting your lighting.

It could be a significant expense to replace all the bulbs in a home at one time, especially when most of the bulbs still work. That’s where a plan might make sense.

Replace the bulbs in the rooms where the lights are used the most such as kitchen, family rooms and bathrooms. There may be other “rooms” where the lights are used frequently like certain hallways or stairs. Outside flood lights for security purposes may be a large energy consumption.

Bulbs can vary in light output measured in lumens as well as color of light from warm white to bright white and daylight. The lighting label required by the Federal Trade Commission on all packaging will help you determine which will give you the most bang for your buck.

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All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®

About the Author:
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra has over 10 years of experience and is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
For information about purchasing a home in Coastal Virginia, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!
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ATM Safety Tips

Throughout the year, getting cash from an ATM is normal for many people. ATM’s are available 24 hours a day and they’re located in bank branches, convenience stores, grocery stores, malls, airports, sports venues and on street corners.46024154-250.jpg

Unfortunately, the convenience aspect can compromise personal safety especially if you are distracted or not paying attention. Planning for an ATM withdrawal and applying common sense can help you avoid trouble.

  • Be aware of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction like people sitting in a nearby parked car or someone offering to help you.
  • Safeguard your PIN. Don’t share it with anyone. Don’t write it down. Don’t use your birthdate, last four digits of your phone number or other obvious numbers.
  • If there are other people at the ATM to make a withdrawal, shield the keypad when entering your PIN number.
  • Keep your car doors locked and windows raised, except for your driver’s window, when using a drive-up ATM.
  • Minimize the time spent at the ATM by being prepared with your card ready, what you plan to do and do not count your money until you are in a safe place away from the ATM.
  • Take your receipt with you and destroy it if you decide to discard it.
  • Be aware that some thieves use skimming devices to steal account and PIN numbers. If something doesn’t look “just right”, consider finding another machine to use.
  • Especially at night, pay attention to locations with adequate lighting and being visible from the street. Don’t compromise your safety just because it is convenient.
  • After you have your money, pay attention to see if someone might be following you. If you are concerned, go to a nearby police or fire station or well-trafficked business and call the police.
  • If you feel uneasy during a transaction, cancel it, remove your card and LEAVE.

There may be a time in the not too distant future when we don’t have a need for cash anymore. Until that time, paying attention to simple safety precautions can help protect us during the holidays and throughout the year.

All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®

About the Author:
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra has over 10 years of experience and is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
For information about purchasing a home in Coastal Virginia, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

Debt Relief May Trigger Tax

The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, originally passed in 2007, was extended three times to protect homeowners from paying income tax on debt that was relieved due to foreclosure, short sales or deed in lieu of foreclosure.  Mortgage Debt Relief example 2017.png

The law expired on December 31, 2016 and unless it is extended again, homeowners with debt relief in 2017 may be subject to tax.

A homeowner might feel a sense of relief without the obligation of a delinquent mortgage but just because the payments are no longer due doesn’t mean that there isn’t another obligation that replaces it. If a lender cancels or forgives debt, a taxpayer must include the cancelled amount in their income for tax purposes depending on the circumstances. The tax significance could be serious.

This previously allowed relief only applied to a taxpayers’ acquisition indebtedness of their principal residence which did not include second homes and investment property. The maximum amount was limited to $2 million of mortgage debt forgiveness or $1 million if filing separately.

Due to the serious consequences involved in short sales and foreclosures, it is advised that homeowners faced with this possibility should seek expert advice from their legal and tax professionals.

All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®

About the Author:
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra has over 10 years of experience and is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
For information about purchasing a home in Coastal Virginia, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

Pre-approval is Great for Everyone

Buyer’s mortgage pre-approval is good for everyone in the transaction. It saves time, money and removes the uncertainty of knowing whether the buyer will be qualified after negotiating a contract. The direct benefits include:

  • Looking at “Right” homes – price, size, amenities, locationPre-approval is good for everyone.png
  • Find the best loan – rate, term, type
  • Uncover credit issues early – time to cure possible problems
  • Negotiating power – price, terms, & timing
  • Close quicker – verifications have been made

There is a significant difference in having a trusted mortgage professional take a loan application and run all the necessary verifications compared to going through calculators on a lender’s website. Beside the peace of mind, the cost of being pre-approved is a bargain and generally, limited to the cost of the credit report.

Even if a person has been pre-approved, a second opinion from a different lender may be a good option. It can verify there is a good deal or you’ll discover that you can improve it. Either way, it works to your advantage. Contact me if you’d like a recommendation of a trusted mortgage officer.

All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®

About the Author:
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra has over 10 years of experience and is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
For information about purchasing a home in Coastal Virginia, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

Easier to Play the Game

It’s much easier to play a game when you know the rules so you can avoid mistakes that may keep you from winning. Homeownership isn’t a game but there are some rules that will protect your investment and increase your enjoyment.

Most people want a home of their own to raise their family, share with their friends and to feel safe and secure. In most cases, it is also their largest asset. These suggestions can help protect your investment and make homeownership more enjoyable.12519621-250.jpg

  • Don’t overpay for your home
  • Maintain your home to protect its value
  • Minimize your assessed value to lower property taxes
  • Make extra contributions to save interest and build equity
  • Validate the insured value of improvements and contents
  • Be aware of current surrounding property values
  • Make mortgage interest payments deductible
  • Invest in capital improvements that increase market value
  • Don’t over-improve the neighborhood comparables
  • Keep records of capital improvement & other maintenance

We’d like to be your personal source of real estate information and we’re committed to helping from purchase to sale and all the years in between. If you need assistance with any of the items mentioned in this article or need a recommendation for a service provider, it would be our pleasure to help.

All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®

About the Author:
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra has over 10 years of experience and is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
For information about purchasing a home in Coastal Virginia, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

Protecting Your Credit

One of the “big” three credit bureaus recently announced that a massive hack has exposed the personal information of up to 143 million people. To add perspective to that statement, that is about two-thirds of American credit card holders or close to half the population of the United States.  Part of protecting your credit is being vigilant and making it difficult for thieves to steal your identity. 17405556-250.jpg

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, an initial step is to place a fraud alert on your account. Contact one credit reporting company (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion), tell them you are an identity theft victim and ask the company to put a fraud alert on your credit file. Confirm that the company will contact the other two companies.

The initial fraud alert will make it harder for an identity thief to open accounts in your name. The alert lasts for 90-days and it can be renewed.

A more severe precaution called a credit freeze restricts access to your credit report. A credit freeze makes it more difficult for thieves to use your identity to apply for loans or credit cards in your name.

By contacting each of the three credit reporting agencies separately, you can request a temporary freeze. This would prevent them from providing credit information without both your explicit permission and a PIN that temporarily lifts the freeze.

Unlike the fraud alerts, the agencies may charge you a fee for instituting the freeze in addition to another fee to lift the freeze each time.

A credit freeze will not affect your credit score. If you are in the process of buying a home, contact your loan officer and discuss the decision you are considering. If you will be making a mortgage application in the near future, you can temporarily lift the freeze for the lender you are using.

A trusted mortgage professional is a key team member in purchasing a home. Making an appointment with them is one of the first steps along with determining your real estate professional. Contact us to get a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional.

To request a credit freeze, you can do it online or by phone:

Equifax – 800-349-9960 | Experian – 888-397-3742 | Trans Union – 888-909-8872

For more information, see Credit Freeze FAQs at the Federal Trade Commission.

It is important to personally monitor your credit reports through annual credit report.com to discover any unusual activity.

All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®

About the Author:
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra has over 10 years of experience and is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
For information about purchasing a home in Coastal Virginia, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

Which Value Do You Want?

What your home is worth depends on why you ask the question. It could be one value based on a purchase or sale and an entirely different value for insurance purposes.Values-250.png

Fair market value is the price a buyer and seller can agree upon assuming both are knowledgeable, willing and unpressured by extraordinary events. This value is generally indicated by a comparable market analysis done by real estate professionals.

Insured value is determined for insurance coverage. Homeowner policies typically have replacement clauses in them and the cost of demolition, new construction and the added complexities of matching existing construction could exceed the cost of new construction.

Investment value is based on the income it can generate during its useful life. This value is dependent on what kind of yield an investor requires to capitalize the value over time. The formula for this is to divide net operating income by the capitalization rate required by the investor.

The assessed value of a home is used to determine the property taxes the owner must pay. This value is determined by the responsible state government agency.

Homeowners are generally more familiar with their home’s market value. Since it can be lower than the replacement cost, owners should review the insured value with their property insurance agent periodically.

There can be a surprising difference in each of these separate values. It is important to know the purpose that it is going to be used for the value.

All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®

About the Author:
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra has over 10 years of experience and is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
For information about purchasing a home in Coastal Virginia, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

Tips, Hints and Insights for Savvy People

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