Kathy Foran - REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West



Posted by Kathy Foran on 12/20/2015

If you have credit trouble it can be difficult to get back on the right track. Poor credit impacts your ability to secure a loan, credit cards, and even a job. Credit ratings are also used by insurers, employers and leasing agencies. So where should you turn for help to repair your credit? There are many credit repair companies and while some are reputable some are not legitimate. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers these signs to tell if the company is legit or not:

  • The company asks for money up front. The Credit Repair Organizations Act forbids repair companies from requiring you to pay fees before they have completed the promised services.
  • The company doesn’t want you to contact the three national credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) yourself.
  • The company encourages you to dispute all the negative information in your credit report, regardless of its accuracy.
  • The company recommends attempting to create a new credit identity and history by applying for an Employer Identification Number to use instead of your Social Security Number.
While a credit repair company may be helpful there are some things you can do yourself to repair your credit.
  • Once every 12 months, check your credit report.  Credit reports are available at www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • If you find errors, dispute incorrect information in your report.
  • Negotiate the removal of outstanding debt. Even without a credit counseling agency, you can contact the collectors of your outstanding debt to negotiate a pay-off settlement.
 





Posted by Kathy Foran on 11/8/2015

Buying a home is still one of the best ways to build wealth. If you are looking to add value to your home without breaking the bank there are many projects that will increase your home's value for less than $1,000. One thousand dollars can go a long way when it comes to home improvement projects. If you think and plan smart your profit should outweigh your investment. Here are a few projects that will give you the most bang for your buck. 1. Organize Your Home Declutter your home by organizing closets, cabinets and pantries. Add bookshelves for more storage. Maximize space in the kids’ rooms by installing platform or bunk beds. A neat and organized home is easier to live in and shows better to potential buyers. 2. Make an Entrance Simply updating and replacing your entry door will spruce up your curb appeal. Not only will the new door look great it can also help save money.  Adding a steel door will save on energy. Most of the new steel doors are made to look like wood. A new door will cost approximately $400. 3. Install a Programmable Thermostat. Another way to save money is to switch from a manual to a programmable thermostat. Prices vary greatly on these thermostats but don't expect to pay more than a few hundred dollars for a high end model.  A programmable thermostat can save you $180 a year in energy costs. 4. Update your Cabinets Cabinet hardware makes a huge difference on how new your kitchen looks. Simply update the cabinet hardware by installing new knobs and pulls in more modern metals and looks. Most large hardware store have a large selection of hardware you can usually buy a 10-pack for approximately $20. 5. No more Bathroom Blues Bathrooms can be one of the most expensive updates in a home. You can give a bathroom a quick facelift by replacing old tile. Vinyl tiles are inexpensive and easy to install or with ceramic tile can cost as little as $3 per square foot for material and installation.





Posted by Kathy Foran on 10/18/2015

You might have seen the ads on TV about reverse mortgages, but what is a reverse mortgage? It is a loan for older homeowners that uses a portion of the home’s equity as collateral. Instead of the homeowner paying the lender, it is the lender that pays the homeowner based on the equity in the home. How much can be borrowed? The amount that can be borrowed in a reverse mortgage is determined by an Federal Housing Authority (FHA formula).  The formula considers age, the current interest rate, and the appraised value of the home. What are the requirements for a reverse mortgage? You must be at least age 62 The home must be owned free and clear or all existing liens. Any mortgage balance must be paid off with the proceeds of the reverse mortgage loan at the closing. There are usually no income or credit score requirements. How is the loan repaid? The loan cannot become due as long as at least one homeowner lives in the home as their primary residence and maintains the home in accordance with FHA requirements (keeping taxes and insurance current). The must be repaid when the last surviving homeowner permanently moves out of the property or passes away. The estate will have approximately 6 months to repay the balance of the reverse mortgage or sell the home to pay off the balance.  





Posted by Kathy Foran on 7/19/2015

You have planted the garden and now you are starting to see the fruits and vegetables of your labor. So what do you do with all those veggies? Can them! That's right, canning is easy. Not only is canning a great way to enjoy your garden-fresh veggies all year but it is also economical and healthy. Home canned vegetables have absolutely no chemicals added. So, if you can boil water and tell time, you can can! Here are some tools of the trade you may want to have on hand.

  • lids
  • jars
  • wooden long handled spoon
  • canning funnel
  • jar lifter
  • measuring spoons
  • jar rings
Try canned tomatoes; they are an easy way to get started. Fill a large pot with water up to ¾ full and put on to boil. Fill a clean water bath canner ½ full and bring it to a boil, with the wire rack in place. Wash the jars in warm soapy water and rinse. Check each one for minute cracks and nicks in the rim. Leave the jars in the hot water until needed. Separate the lids and place them in a sauce pan of water. Bring to a boil, and then leave in the water until you need them. Wash sound, ripe, high-acid tomatoes and dip them in the boiling water of your large pot for about a minute or until the skins crack. Then place the tomatoes in cold water. This allows the skins to slip off easily. Core out the stem and discard. Leave the tomatoes whole or cut, depending on size and preference. Pack into jars and either mash down, so that the juice covers them, or cover with hot water leaving a ½-inch of space between the product and jar rim. Free trapped air bubbles by using a flat plastic or wood utensil. Slide it up and down around the inside edge. Screw the lids and rings on snugly, not too tight. Boil the jars and keep them covered with at least one inch of water. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts. Take the jars out of the water and let them cool overnight. Check each jar after it cools with one finger, being sure it is tightly indented; if it is not, it is not sealed, and must be redone or eaten soon. Store in a cool, dry place and enjoy your tomatoes for months to come.





Posted by Kathy Foran on 7/12/2015

A common question for sellers is if they will owe capital gains tax when they sell their home. The answer to that question: it depends. The capital gains tax law known as the Taxpayer Relief Act went into effect in 1997 but there is still a lot confusion over who pays what and why. If you sell your home you will not have to pay capital gains tax if:

  • You are selling your personal residence.
  • You have $250,000 in profit or less if you are single and $500,000 if married.
  • You have lived in your home for two of the last five years.
  • The home is not an investment property.
The capital gains exclusion can be used as many times as you like as long as it meets all of the above criteria. If you are going to make more than $250,000/$500,000 in profit you will be taxed at a 20% capital gains tax rate on the amount over the $250,000/$500,000 threshold. There are exceptions to the rule. You may be eligible for a tax break if:
  • You need to sell your home because a change in health.
  • You need to sell your home because of a long distance relocation.
  • You are in the armed services and moved to fulfill your service commitments.
Your individual tax situation may be different, so make sure to consult a qualified tax accountant or attorney.