Trusted Professionals Available Upon Request

Trusted Professionals Available Upon Request and

Happy New Year 2012!

This year my goal is to help more people with any part of their life by connecting them with trusted professionals – who do you need this year to help you with ….. accounting, allergies, personal fitness, legal matters, contracting, insurance, and much much more?!

I will be giving out 30 referrals every month and receiving 15, should I know about your business?  Watch my short video below to learn more.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jr81AYu2ev4&list=UU_cXlrGcuxqIZC3BNRmiTMA&index=1&feature=plcp[/youtube]

Now call me (Debbie Kruzel) at 603-318-6953 for a professional referral YOU NEED this year in NH or MA!

 

Common Misconceptions about Reverse Mortgages

Common Misconceptions about Reverse Mortgages

by Krista Munsie, MetLife Bank

NMLS #658154

1.         “I could lose my home.”   With a reverse mortgage, you retain ownership of your home and control of the title.  You can remain in your home as long as you wish.

2.         “My children will have to pay back the loan when I am gone.”  Reverse mortgages are fully insured through HUD and the lender gets paid from the proceeds of the sale of your home, if and when you decide to sell.

3.         “I can’t afford to make monthly payments on a reverse mortgage.”  There are no principle or interest payments on a reverse mortgage – the lender pays you.  You can accept a lump sum payment, line of credit or monthly payment (all of which are tax-free).

4.         “I won’t qualify because I have a mortgage on my home.”  You can still qualify for a reverse mortgage if you have a current mortgage or other debts on your home.  Those debts are paid off with the proceeds of the reverse mortgage.

5.         “Only someone who is ‘cash poor’ needs a reverse mortgage.”   Even if you do not have a pressing need for cash or monthly income, a reverse mortgage can be a terrific estate planning tool.  You can use the money for anything you wish or leave the funds in a line of credit “just in case.”

6.        “A reverse mortgage is expensive.”  Not necessarily.  While the traditional reverse mortgage (called the HECM Standard) does have higher closing costs, there is now a second option (called the HECM Saver) that has MUCH lower closing.

If you or someone you know is 62 (or approaching 62) and wants to know how a Reverse Mortgage could work for them to either stay in their home or even to buy a home, contact Krista Munsie!  She is very easy to get ahold of and understands the importance of getting all the facts and consulting with other possible “team members”:  attorneys, financial planners, and accountants.

Krista can be reached at MetLife Bank

o 781-228-0014

m 603-489-8856

kmunsie@metlife.com

 

Homeowners Insurance EXPLAINED!

Homeowners Insurance EXPLAINED!

by Tricia Lawler of Michaud Insurance, Methuen MA

I was asked to write about what a homeowners insurance policy covers but the more I thought about it the more I realized that it is more important to a homeowner to know what your policy does NOT cover.  Please keep in mind that each claim is different and needs to be looked at on a separate basis to find or deny coverage.

On the homeowners insurance policy there are exclusions that apply to all parts of the policy and those are what I will focus on:

Ordinance or Law – When your home was built, it was built to a certain standard that was required by the county’s codes and ordinances at the time.  As time goes by, those codes are revised and new ones added that set a revised standard to all new constructions. Normally you wouldn’t have to update to these newer codes but if you have a loss the town will require you rebuild to the new codes and the policy will not pay the additional expense.  (The coverage can be added on to the policy for an additional cost.)

Earth Movement – Earthquake, landslide, mudslide, mudflow, subsidence or sinkhole, sinking/rising/shifting caused by human or animal forces or an act of nature that shifts the earth under and around your home UNLESS direct loss by fire or explosion then the policy will pay ensuing loss.

Water Damage – Meaning Flood, surface or tidal water; water or water borne material backed up though sewers or drains and overflowed or discharged from sump pumps or related equipment; water or water borne materials below the surface of the ground which exerts pressure, seeps or leeks through.  Coverage can be added on for water back up and sump overflow for an additional cost.

Power Failure – Failure of power or other utility service off the residence premises BUT the policy will pay if the failure results in a loss from a covered peril (cause of loss) on the residence premise (the home).

Neglect – Neglect by an insured to use all reasonable measures to protect, save and preserve property at and after the time of loss.

War

Nuclear Hazard

Intentional Loss

Governmental Action

Faulty workmanship, inadequate or defective planning, zoning design etc. will also be excluded.

Again, these are the exclusions that affect all sections of the policy.  Many companies have enhancement packages that add the Ordinance or Law and Water Backup and Sump overflow back onto the policy so make sure you ask your agent about the packages available to you.  The most important thing to do after you purchase a new policy is to read through it and familiarize yourself with the exclusions.

If you have questions on this information or are looking for a new insurance company with extremely competitive rates, call Michaud Insurance today at 978-685-2549 and start saving money!

 

Refinance Options For Borrowers with Homes that are Worth Less than the Loan Amount

A “Fine Tuned” HARP; Refinance Options For Underwater Borrowers

We all have heard of a harp being a musical instrument but the acronym H.A.R.P. carries a different meaning in the world of lending. This type of H.A.R.P. (Home Affordable Refinance Program) has had some recent “fine tuning” (pun intended).

H.A.R.P. was a financial tool put in place by the government to aid people who own homes and are looking for a way to qualify for the lowest rates in history. Originally it was anticipated to help 5-7 million people but fell short somewhere around 750,000. The main problem was home value; where it was limited to 125%.

example:  loan amount $125K, previously the appraisal had to be $100,000 or higher

With a sagging housing market and an election year the current administration decided to make some well needed “tweaks” to H.A.R.P. allow more people to take advantage of monthly savings by reducing their rate with this refinance program. Here are a few bullet points.

  • In the last 12 months it allows 1 late payment no more than 30 days
  • Loan must be backed by Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac
  • Unlimited loan amount to value ****** this is the biggest plus! +++++
  • Last refinance on or before May 31st 2009

There are still millions of folks out there who pay their mortgages responsibly and have not been able to get the super low rates available now! The removal of appraisals and replacing with AVM’s (automated value model) along with unlimited loan to value amounts will allow additional people to refinance finally!

How much would it help YOU (or someone you know) if you could save $100, $200, $300+/month?

Learn more about how this program and how it might work for your family now by contacting Mike Gendreau at Envoy Mortgage today at 603-890-2232.

One critical piece is if you have a loan through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and Mike can get that information for you quickly, so give him a call!  ;)

Mike is licensed in MA and NH and has over 15 years in the mortgage industry.

Mike Gendreau

Envoy Mortgage – NMLS 45832

mgendreau@envoymtg.com

o 603-890-2232

m 978-764-0309

12 Manor Parkway

Salem NH  03079

 

Mortgage Protection offered by AccuTrust Mortgage

Mortgage Protection offered by AccuTrust Mortgage

Are you afraid to purchase a home or re-finance your home because of uncertainty with your job even though you’ve been there a long time?

You are not alone!

The good news is:  AccuTrust Mortgage is working with people to get them “peace of mind” by offering Mortgage Protection.

Involuntary Unemployment protection is included in your new home purchase/mortgage.

What does this mean for you?

  • Pays up to 6 monthly mortgage payments (max $2,000 per month)
  • Protects your financial security by keeping savings, retirement, and college funds in tact
  • Minimizes financial stress
  • Relieves the pressure of late mortgage payments
  • Provides the time to get control of your employment security

If you are interested in learning more about this mortgage protection, contact Kristine Hemenway at AccuTrust Mortgage.  As a Mortgage Planner, Kristine is committed to offering the home buyer mortgage solutions to today’s challenges.  AccuTrust pays the Premium and the home owner gets the Peace of Mind.

Contact Kristine today to learn more about this mortgage protection!

Kristine Hemenway

AccuTrust Mortgage

NMLS:39564

32 Daniel Webster Highway #4, Merrimack, NH 03054

Mobile:  603-557-6799 Office:  603-880-3282

Fax:  603-880-9995

Don’t delay, make an inquiry today!    Want to shop for a home in Mass or NH - start now using the map view – it’s fun!


 

Pool Safety

Safety Around the Pool

Courtesy of Christine Duffy, Libery Mutual

Did you know that year nearly 300 children younger than five drown in swimming pools every year? Your greatest assurance for water safety is adopting and practicing as many safety measures as possible for your pool and the area around it. Even one can make a difference—and save a life.

  1. Practice supervision. Never take your eyes off children in the water—even for a minute. Always designate a “pool watcher.”
  2. Install barriers. In most states, swimming pools qualify as an “attractive nuisance,” which refers to a safety hazard that children find appealing while lacking the experience to know the dangers it may pose. Owners of swimming pools are therefore expected to take reasonable steps to restrict pool access to children or otherwise be held liable for their injuries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) strongly recommends that all residential pools have a four-foot barrier, such as a fence with self-closing and self-latching gates. If your house is the fourth side of a barrier, secure doors with alarms that prevent children from wandering into the pool area.
  3. Avoid entrapments. Do not play or swim near drains or suction outlets. Suction from a pool’s drain can be so powerful it can trap an adult underwater. A pool with a broken, loose or missing drain cover should be closed immediately until it can be repaired by a licensed professional. Report drain entrapments by calling the CPSC hotline at 800-638-2772.
  4. Practice diving safety. Post “No Diving” signs clearly on all above-ground pools, which are not designed for diving. Never dive off the side of an in-ground pool, especially at the shallow end. Dive only off of a diving board that has been installed by a professional.
  5. Learn and practice life-saving skills. Teach your children how to swim. Learn CPR so you can help save a life in case of a water emergency. Practice your skills regularly and rehearse emergency drills to keep water safety top of mind.

For more information about pool safety, visit www.PoolSafely.gov.

To learn more about Liberty Mutual auto and home insurance or get a free, no-obligation quote, contact Christine Duffy at 978-687-4150 ext. 52049 or visit www.libertymutual.com/christineduffy.

Coverage provided and underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and its affiliates, 175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA.  Reprinted with permission from Liberty Mutual. ©2011 Liberty Mutual Group. All rights reserved.

 

MA Homestead Law

MA Homestead Law

by Attorney Sherrill Erickson, Chelmsford MA

Recently the MA Homestead Law changed for the better, so if you live in MA (or are planning on buying in MA), you want to know what’s going on!

Definition:

A homestead is protection for owner-occupied one to four family homes, condominiums, manufactured homes and cooperative apartments.  A homestead exempts a certain amount of equity in your home from attachment, seizure, execution on judgment, levy and sale for unsecured debts of the owner of the home.  There are some exceptions to this, however.  A homestead does NOT protect against the following in Massachusetts:

v    Federal, State and local taxes

v    Liens recorded prior to the filing/creation of the homestead

v    Mortgages

v    Order of the Probate Court for support

v    Levy of sale for ground rents (where homeowner doesn’t own the land)

v    Execution from a court to enforce a judgment based upon fraud, mistake, duress, undue influence or lack of capacity

Explanation of recent updates:

As of March 16, 2011, the MA homestead law updates allow MA residents to have an automatic homestead protection of $125,000 on their primary residence .  MA residents can also declare a homestead in MA which gives owners a protection of $500,000!

At all real estate closings now in MA the closing attorney must discuss with the buyers the MA Homestead Law and the protection available to the buyers for their homes.  If you already take advantage of the MA Homestead Law on your home, it may be worth increasing your protection.  You can find the paperwork necessary to file at the Registry of Deeds.

If you have any questions regarding the MA Homestead Law and/or your real estate holdings, feel free to contact Attorney Sherrill Erickson at 978-453-1906.  I’ve worked with Sherrill on several occasions and I have found her very knowledgeable and accessible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Common Errors Homeowners Make When Filing Taxes

10 Common Errors Homeowners Make When Filing Taxes

By: G. M. Filisko

Don’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary–know the score on each home tax deduction and credit.

As you calculate your tax returns, consider each home tax deduction and credit you are-and are not-entitled to. Running afoul of any of these 10 home-related tax mistakes-which tax pros say are especially common-can cost you money or draw the IRS to your doorstep.

Sin #1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes

You take a tax deduction for property taxes in the year you (or the holder of your escrow account) actually paid them. Some taxing authorities work a year behind-that is, you’re not billed for 2010 property taxes until 2011. But that’s irrelevant to the feds.

Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you actually paid in 2010, no matter what the date is on your tax bill. Dave Hampton, CPA, tax manager at the Cincinnati accounting firm of Burke & Schindler, has seen home owners confuse payments for different years and claim the incorrect amount.

Sin #2: Confusing escrow amount for actual taxes paid

If your lender escrows funds to pay your property taxes, don’t just deduct the amount escrowed, says Bob Meighan, CPA and vice president at TurboTax in San Diego. The regular amount you pay into your escrow account each month to cover property taxes is probably a little more or a little less than your property tax bill. Your lender will adjust the amount every year or so to realign the two.

For example, your tax bill might be $1,200, but your lender may have collected $1,100 or $1,300 in escrow over the year. Deduct only $1,200. Your lender will send you an official statement listing the actual taxes paid. Use that. Don’t just add up 12 months of escrow property tax payments.

Sin #3: Deducting points paid to refinance

Deduct points you paid your lender to secure your mortgage in full for the year you bought your home. However, when you refinance, says Meighan, you must deduct points over the life of your new loan. If you paid $2,000 in points to refinance into a 15-year mortgage, your tax deduction is $133 per year.

Sin #4: Failing to deduct private mortgage insurance

Lenders require home buyers with a downpayment of less than 20% to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI). Avoid the common mistake of forgetting to deduct your PMI payments. However, note the deduction begins to phase out once your adjusted gross income reaches $100,000 and disappears entirely when your AGI surpasses $109,000.

Sin #5: Misjudging the home office tax deduction

This deduction may not be as good as it seems. It often doesn’t amount to much of a deduction, has to be recaptured if you turn a profit when you sell your home, and can pique the IRS’s interest in your return. Hampton’s advice: Claim it only if it’s worth those drawbacks.

Sin #6: Missing the first-time home buyer tax credit

If you met the midyear 2010 deadlines, don’t forget to take this tax credit into account when filing.

Even if you missed the 2010 deadlines, you still might be in luck: Congress extended the first-time home buyer credit for military families and other government workers on assignment outside the United States. If you meet the criteria, you have until June 30, 2011, to close on your first home and qualify for the tax credit of up to $8,000.

Sin #7: Failing to track home-related expenses

If the IRS comes a-knockin’, don’t be scrambling to compile your records. Many people forget to track home office and home maintenance and repair expenses, says Meighan. File away documents as you go. For example, save each manufacturer’s certification statement for energy tax credits, insurance company statements for PMI, and lender or government statements to confirm property taxes paid.

Sin #8: Forgetting to keep track of capital gains

If you sold your main home last year, don’t forget to pay capital gains taxes on any profit. However, you can exclude $250,000 (or $500,000 if you’re a married couple) of any profits from taxes. So if you bought a home for $100,000 and sold it for $400,000, your capital gains are $300,000. If you’re single, you owe taxes on $50,000 of gains. However, there are minimum time limits for holding property to take advantage of the exclusions, and other details. Consult IRS Publication 523.

Sin #9: Filing incorrectly for energy tax credits

If you made any eligible improvement, fill out Form 5695. Part I, which covers the 30%/$1,500 credit for such items as insulation and windows, is fairly straightforward. But Part II, which covers the 30%/no-limit items such as geothermal heat pumps, can be incredibly complex and involves crosschecking with half a dozen other IRS forms. Read the instructions carefully.

Sin #10: Claiming too much for the mortgage interest tax deduction

You can deduct mortgage interest only up to $1 million of mortgage debt, says Meghan. If you have $1.2 million in mortgage debt, for example, deduct only the mortgage interest attributable to the first $1 million.

Republished courtesy of www.HouseLogic.com

If you need more information or a referral for an tax accountant, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  You can also connect with me on Facebook!

Biggest Credit Myths, Mistakes, and Misconceptions

Biggest Credit Myths, Mistakes, and Misconceptions

by Kathy Vasel, Reliant Mortgage, License NMLS #50076

Good credit is well worth the effort it takes to both achieve and preserve it. If you have good credit, the following tips will help you keep it that way. If you are looking to improve your credit, however, now is the time to get started. Give us a call. We’ll review your credit and find out exactly where you stand. In the meantime, if you plan on entering into a loan transaction in the next 6 to 12 months, you simply cannot afford to make the following credit mistakes:

Don’t fall behind on existing accounts. This includes your mortgage and car payments. One 30-day late can cost you anywhere from 30-80 points or more depending on the other factors being reported on your credit reports.

Don’t pay off old collections or charge-offs during the loan process. Paying collections will decrease your credit score immediately due to the “date of last activity” becoming recent. If you want to pay off old accounts, do it through closing, and make sure that 1) you validate that the debt is yours, and 2) the creditor agrees to give you a letter of deletion.

Don’t close credit card accounts. If you close a credit card account, it will appear to FICO that your debt ratio has gone up. Also, closing a card will affect other factors in the score such as length of credit history. If you have to close a credit card account, do it after closing, and make sure that it is an account you’ve opened more recently. Remember, 10% of your credit score is made up of your Mix of Credit, so it is important that you have at least 1-2 major credit cards open and in good standing.

Don’t max out or overcharge your credit accounts. This is the fastest way to bring about an immediate drop of 50-100 points in your credit score. Try to keep your credit card balances below 30% of their available on your monthly statement, and especially during the loan process. If you decide to pay down balances, do it across the board. Meaning, make an extra payment on all of your cards at the same time.

Don’t consolidate your debt onto 1 or 2 credit cards. It seems like it would be the smart thing to do; however, when you consolidate all of your debt onto one card, it appears that you are maxed out on that card, and the system will penalize you as mentioned above. If you want to save money on credit card interest rates, wait until after closing.

Don’t do anything that will cause a red flag to be raised by the scoring system. This would include adding new accounts, co-signing on a loan, or changing your name or address with the bureaus. The less activity on your reports during the loan process, the better.

Don’t do it alone. If you feel that the credit challenges you’re facing are too much, or you don’t have enough time to do the work necessary to improve your own credit, don’t lose hope and give up. Give us a call. We can help. In many cases, small changes to your credit profile could yield big results that could save you thousands of dollars on your mortgage. However, if professional credit repair does become necessary, we’ll gladly provide you with a referral to an experienced professional credit repair specialist you can trust.

This article was brought to you by Kathy Vasel of Reliant Mortgage Company.  Read Top 10 Mortgage Tips also from Kathy.  Or,  if you’d like to contact her about your credit or preparing to buy a home, she can be reached at 978-502-2998 or via e-mail:  getyourmtg (at) charter.net

Create a Home Inventory for Insurance

Create a Home Inventory for Insurance

By: Gwen Moran
Create a home inventory before disaster strikes to make filing an insurance claim a smoother process.

Experiencing a theft, flood, fire, or other casualty loss is devastating enough. Now imagine trying to list from memory for your insurance claim every single item that was damaged or destroyed. The task becomes less daunting if you create a home inventory in advance and keep it in a safe place.

Creating a home inventory can be done with pencil and paper alone, but a digital camera and camcorder make the job easier. Set aside enough time to review your insurance policies, dig up receipts, document your possessions, and figure out where you’ll store your records. One day should be sufficient.

A home inventory is essential

From appliances, plates, and glasses to collectibles, rugs, and furniture, the average home is packed with an array of items collected over the years. And while you may be able to list many of them in a pinch, chances are you’d miss some important possessions if you ever needed to reconstruct your home’s contents from memory, says Mark Goldwich, founder of GoldStar Adjusters, a Jacksonville, Fla., claims adjusting firm.

“Home inventories are a must no matter what the value of the home’s items are,” says Goldwich. “If you’re going to insure your property and pay for that insurance, you really should be able to document the ownership and the value of the items that you’re insuring. If you don’t have proof of the items you owned, it makes filing your claim much more difficult.”

Your job doesn’t end once you’ve compiled a home inventory, a detailed list of everything in your household. Be sure to compare estimated values to your policy’s coverage to ensure that you’ll be able to replace your belongings in case of damage or theft, says Goldwich, who is the author of “Uncovered: What Really Happens After the Storm, Flood, Earthquake or Fire.” In some cases, he says, you can purchase additional coverage if the value of your possessions exceeds the limits on your homeowners, flood, or other disaster policy.

Take photos and video of possessions

Jack Hungelmann, author of “Insurance for Dummies,” says a picture can be worth more than just a thousand words–it can add up to thousands in cash if you ever need to file an insurance claim. Hungelmann recommends using a digital camcorder or camera to take pictures of each room to document your belongings. “I recommend that people open up their cupboards and drawers. Be sure you have a record of all the things you own,” he says.

Goldwich says that creating such a home inventory might seem daunting, but digital video–you can pick up a decent camcorder forabout $150–can make the task much easier.

Homeowners can literally walk from room to room and record narrative descriptions of items. You should note whether something is an antique, for example, or if it has other qualities that make it especially valuable such as the size of a television screen or the type of stones in a piece of jewelry. Get close-up shots of serial numbers on electronics, power tools, and the like.

Filling in a printed checklist with serial numbers, brands, quantities, and estimated values will prove indispensible if an insurance claim ever needs to be filed. The adjuster will likely ask for such a list, and you can use the video or photos as proof of ownership. Download our free home inventory checklist to create your own.

Keep your home inventory safe

Of course, such documentation is useless if it’s destroyed in a natural disaster, consumed by fire, or stolen along with your personal computer. Hungelmann says that using digital media allows you to store the files on online backup services like Carbonite.com or iBackup.com in case your home is destroyed.

If you’d like to save the $10 or more per month these services typically cost, you could also save the files on a USB drive that’s kept in a safe-deposit box, at a relative’s home, or in your emergency bag. The bag should include essentials your family needs in case you’re forced to flee on short notice.

It’s also a good idea to keep a file with receipts and any appraisals of valuable items you own. Store these documents off-site as well. Goldwich says that the more documentation you have to prove what you owned and what it was worth, the easier the claims process will be.

Republished courtesy of www.HouseLogic.com

This is one article I can absolutely learn from!  We had been in the habit of documenting “large purchases” by taking pictures, but once the kdis came along….time is not as leisurely… and it’s been a LONG TIME since we “took inventory”!  I CAN TELL YOU that Carbonite is what I use to back up my computer files and have been for over 2 years – very easy and very happy with the service!  If you need more information or a referral for an insurance agent, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  You can also connect with me on Facebook!