Mary Ann Barry - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage



Posted by Mary Ann Barry on 11/6/2019

Photo by Aymane Jdidi via Pixabay

Most people do not think of creating an estate plan before they are in their 40s or even their 50s. However, if you own a home, regardless of the cost of the home and regardless of your age, you should create an estate plan. Even if you are in your 20s, your family could end up losing a high-end home if you are in an accident and become incapacitated or you lose your life. Always contact an experienced estate attorney for help drafting your will and other estate documents, including trusts.

Titling Your Home

In today’s day and age, many people decide to live together without formally getting married. Most closing agents will title your home so that you own one half and your significant other owns one half. In most states, your significant other’s half of the house will have to go through probate unless the house is appropriately deeded. The ways you may title your home include:

  • Joint Tenancy: Gives you equal rights to the property. If one party passes, the ownership of that person’s half passes to the surviving tenants. However, if you are not married, you will have an extra step to take if you want to transfer your half to someone not listed on the deed.

  • Tenancy in Common: This is the most common way deeds are titled if two people buying a house are not married. Both parties have equal rights to the property. However, if one person passes, their half goes to their heirs and not to the other person on the deed unless that person is an heir. Each person can take out a mortgage on their half without getting permission from the others on the deed. This type of title usually has to go through probate.

  • Tenants by the Entirety: Only those legally married may title their home as tenants by the entirety. The house is automatically transferred to the living spouse. The property does not have to go through probate if it is titled as tenants by the entirety.

You may title your home in other ways, though those ways are not as common. Creating a will and a trust, along with titling your home properly, ensures that your half goes to the person you want it to go to, and, if done correctly, could save your spouse or significant other the hassle of going through probate.

Creating a Trust

Many types of trusts exist. When you choose the right type of trust for your situation, you may be able to avoid probate and avoid some taxes when your home transfers on your death. However, the main reason for a trust is so that your loved one may continue living in the home or taking care of the financial responsibility of your home should you become incapacitated. Certain trusts also keep your home and its equity from being eaten up by creditors such as nursing homes and doctors. Always consult an attorney to discuss the complexities of creating a trust and the rest of your estate plan.





Posted by Mary Ann Barry on 10/30/2019

Buying a house should be a worry-free experience. Yet problems may come up that prevent a property buyer from achieving the optimal results. Lucky for you, we're here to help you quickly identify and address various homebuying hurdles.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you minimize stress as you navigate the homebuying journey.

1. Plan for the Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios

An informed homebuyer should have no trouble enjoying a worry-free property buying experience. In fact, this buyer will understand the best- and worst-case scenarios and know exactly what to do Ė even in a stressful homebuying situation.

In the best-case scenario, a homebuyer will instantly find his or her dream house, submit an offer to purchase this residence and receive an immediate "Yes" from a seller. Then, this buyer can finalize a home purchase and move into his or her new residence.

On the other hand, the worst-case scenario likely will force a homebuyer to miss out on the opportunity to acquire his or her ideal residence. This scenario may involve a failure to agree to terms with a seller due to many potential homebuying problems.

Homebuyers will want to do everything they can to avoid the worst-case scenario. Fortunately, if you learn about the housing market, you can gain the insights you need to plan ahead for the property buying journey. And as a result, you can increase the likelihood of finding and buying your dream house in no time at all.

2. Get a Mortgage

Let's face it Ė purchasing a home is your dream, but you probably don't have the necessary finances to buy a house on your own. Therefore, you may need to get home financing before you can make your homeownership dream come true.

Applying for a mortgage may seem stressful, but lenders are happy to help you in any way they can. If you consult with multiple banks and credit unions, you can review a variety of home financing options.

Don't hesitate to ask questions as you complete a mortgage application too. If you address your mortgage concerns and questions with a home financing professional, you can alleviate the stress commonly associated with applying for a mortgage.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a homebuying expert who can respond to any concerns or questions that you may have. If you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can get the help you need to minimize stress at each stage of the property buying journey.

Typically, a real estate agent will learn about you and your homebuying goals and help you plan accordingly. He or she will keep you up to date about available houses in your preferred cities and towns and set up home showings. And if you find a house that you want to purchase, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive property buying proposal.

Remove stress from the homebuying journey Ė use the aforementioned tips, and you can reap the benefits of a worry-free homebuying experience.




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Posted by Mary Ann Barry on 10/23/2019

The home inspection may seem like a standard thing that you need to go through in the process of buying a home. Really, youíre paying for the home inspection, and itís a huge opportunity for you. As a home buyer, you should look at the home inspection as an educational event for homeowners. Youíll learn a lot about the history of the property that youíll be living in. From water that may have been present in the basement to a leaky roof, youíll get to know your new home and how everything works.


When you hire your home inspector, he or she may seem like they are talking to experts. For this reason, itís a good idea to ask questions during the inspection so that you can clarify what the inspector is talking bout.


Is This Problem Urgent?


Itís a good idea to see how soon any problems in the house need to be fixed. If the roof needs to be replaced within 3-6 months and your finances are tight, itís something that youíll want to know about. While home inspectors will reserve their opinions about a property overall, professionally, they can tell you how big of an issue certain things are. You may need to hire a certified professional who specializes in a certain area like plumbing or electricity for further evaluation in many cases. For your own knowledge, itís a good idea to know what needs to be done around the property and when.             


Take Notes


Youíre never going to remember where everything is in the house on the first pass. Itís a good idea to carry a notepad with you when youíre going through the home. Make notes of any major issues, where they are, and how to fix them. This way, even after the inspection report is sent, youíll have something to refer back to.  


Is This At The End Of Its Lifespan?


Your home inspector will take a look at all of the moving parts of the home that youíre about to purchase. This includes the appliances. Is the dishwasher on its last leg? Will you need a new refrigerator very soon? Is that creak in the floor more than just a problem with a floorboard? If you find out what to expect from both the major and minor issues in the home, youíll have a better idea of what to expect from the property overall. 


Home inspectors give you an overview of the condition of a home. Inspectors will tell you that there is no home that comes completely clean when it comes to an inspection. Even a brand new home that was just built will have some issues. While it may not be the most fun to find out that your new home needs a new roof, at least you and your realtor will know what needs to be brought to the negotiation table if you decide to go through with the purchase of the home.





Posted by Mary Ann Barry on 10/16/2019

Buying a home is one of the biggest and most useful investments that youíll make in your lifetime. One thing you should understand when you're making big improvements to a home or doing any kind of high return renovations is that of the Capital Gains Tax. This tax can take away from the return on your investment, especially under the right circumstances. Even with minimal improvements to a home, if an area has seen an upswing in popularity, you could end up paying the price when you go to sell. 


Taxpayer Relief Act


The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 can help many people to hang on to the returns they see from the sale of their home. 


Previously, homeowners could qualify for a one-time tax exemption of up to $125,000 on the sale of a home. They also could combine the earnings in on the purchase of another home. Currently, there are a few ways that you can save on the Capital Gains Tax thanks to the TRA. 


House Flippers And Homeowners Arenít Equal


Not all home sales receive an equal tax treatment. If you are flipping houses, youíre out of luck when it comes to receiving profit-friendly tax breaks. You need to have lived in a home as your primary residence for two out of five years of owning a home in order to qualify for tax breaks. If this isnít the case, youíll end up paying a Capital Gains Tax on the sale of the property. If youíre a professional house flipper, your homes are considered inventory and taxed as income. The tax on this can vary from 15% to 20%, depending upon the tax bracket you fall into.



The Type Of Property Matters When It Comes To Taxes


Whether the property is a primary place of residence, a vacation home, or a rental property, the gains are all taxed differently. If you own a second home that youíre interested in selling, itís not treated the same as a primary residence for tax purposes. Youíll be taxed based on the amount of time that you owned the property, or the amount of time that the property was used as a second home. The taxes are based on a prorated amount of time.


The Price Of The Home Doesnít Matter


You may think that higher priced homes are taxed more heavily than less expensive homes. This would be the case when it comes to property taxes, but it isnít so when weíre talking about Capital Gains Taxes. These taxes are based on how much profit is made from the sale of the home. If a loss was taken, or the homeowner ďbroke even,Ē they may not owe as many taxes. A smaller home that had significant improvements made could be taxed a bit more than a home that was sold at a higher price with fewer upgrades.





Posted by Mary Ann Barry on 10/9/2019

If youíre buying your first home, there are plenty of things that youíll need to know. Being informed will allow you to avoid some of the most common mistakes that first-time homebuyers make. These errors and their remedies can be found below. Don't join the crowd and make an error, know before you buy. 


They Donít Have Enough Funds


Every homebuyer plans for mortgage payments. Not every buyer plans for all of the other costs that go along with buying a home. Just because you can afford mortgage payments doesn't;t necessarily mean that you can afford the house. 


Thereís so much financially that goes into owning a home. Youíll need to plan for things like home maintenance, insurance, taxes, closing costs, and more. All of this will need to be saved ahead of time in order to buy and maintain a house. Things like property tax and insurance can go up yearly, and these costs can be very unexpected. 


Not Securing A Loan


If you donít secure a loan first and find the home of your dreams, you could be in for trouble. If you havenít been pre-approved for a mortgage, finding a home and putting an offer in is a bit riskier. Many buyers donít realize that they canít qualify for the amount of loan that they think they can. Getting pre-qualified allows buyers to understand just how much house they can afford. 


Avoiding Real Estate Agents


If buyers go it alone, they are taking a risk. The seller pays the real estate agent fees in a home transaction. You really have nothing to lose getting a professional to help you. From there, your agent can recommend all sorts of professionals to assist you in your home search including lawyers, mortgage companies, home inspectors, and others. Itís essential for a smooth home transaction to work with people who are experienced and know what theyíre doing.    



Depleting Your Savings


When you buy your first home, youíre going to need a reserve of cash beyond what you have saved for a downpayment. This cash includes an emergency fund, money for repairs, furniture, new appliances, and other unexpected expenses. If you use all of your savings on a downpayment, youíll be in a dangerous financial situation. Just make sure you have saved enough extra for a rainy day fund.


Opening New Accounts


Before your loan is closed, you should be frozen- financially frozen that is! Donít open any new accounts. It can be tempting to head out and buy a new car that will look good in your new driveway or to fill your house with all sorts of brand new furniture, but you should wait. Once you get the keys to your new home, youíre in the clear to spend again and open new accounts. You donít want to overextend your budget of course. Just be sensible!      





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