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Joe Kupke's Blog

By Kupke & Tackett, REALTORS® | Agent in Plano, TX
  • Risk Determines Rate

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Financing  |  February 6, 2012 6:38 PM  |  1,502 views  |  1 comment


    Regardless of what a lender quotes on mortgage rates, the actual rate paid by a borrower is based on a number of variables. Lenders determine whether to loan money and at what rate based on the risk involved with the transaction.

    Factors that increase the risk that the loan will be repaid will proportionately increase the interest rate charged to the borrower. If the risk becomes too high, the loan will not be approved.

    • Loan amounts – conventional loans for more than the conforming limits set by Fannie Mae are considered jumbo loans and generally have a higher interest rate.
    • FICO score – the lowest interest rate is reserved for the highest credit scores; the lower the score, the higher the rate borrower will pay.
    • Occupancy – borrowers occupying a home as their principal residence are considered a better loan risk than second homes and investment properties.
    • Loan purpose – purchase transactions generally have the lowest interest rate while refinancing a home is generally higher.
    • Debt-to-Income ratio – a borrower’s monthly liabilities divided by their gross monthly income develops a ratio that helps lenders to assess the borrower’s ability to repay the mortgage.
    • Loan-to-Value ratio – the lower the percentage of the loan to the appraised value of the property will generally lower the interest rate.

    Any combination of these factors could limit a borrower’s ability to secure a mortgage at the rate initially quoted. Being pre-approved by a trusted mortgage professional is the best way to know what rate you can expect to pay. Please call for a recommendation.

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  • In search of an honest man

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate, Going Green, Design & Decor  |  February 2, 2012 10:22 AM  |  1,607 views  |  No comments

    Similar to Diogenes’ search for an honest man, homeowners want someone to do quality repairs at a fair price. The task appears reasonably easy but if you’ve ever tried to locate someone to fix something, you know just how difficult it is.

    Finding a list of companies from a phone book doesn’t mean they’ll be reasonable and reliable, it just means they have a phone and are willing to pay for an ad. Searching on the Internet may direct you to a website that appears to be a local company but really is a marketing company who will sell the lead to a repairman or company who will pay a referral fee.

    There are consumer organizations like Angie’s list who rate repairmen and contractors but they usually require an annual membership fee to be able to access the information. There are also services like Renovation Experts or Service Magic that are registries for contractors but they may not be the most competitively priced.

    Your best recommendations are going to come from friends, family and neighbors you trust who have actually used the repairmen before and would use them again. The problem here is that you might have to make multiple calls before you can find a friend who can recommend the type contractor you need.

    Repairs are a normal part of selling homes and we certainly come in contact with lots of contractors. This experience leads us to understand who is reputable and reasonable as well as who to avoid. As part of our commitment to helping you be a better homeowner from the time you buy your home until you sell it, we’re more than happy to make a recommendation of good repairmen or other professionals you might need. Give us a call…we want to help.


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  • Deductible Is the Point

    Posted Under: Home Buying, Financing  |  February 2, 2012 10:17 AM  |  1,525 views  |  No comments

    Points refer to prepaid interest on a home mortgage and can be fully deductible by the buyer in the year paid if the right conditions exist. The points must be used to buy, build or improve a taxpayer’s principal residence but not all fees charged by the lender are necessarily deductible.

    According to IRS Publication 936, “The term ‘points’ is used to describe certain charges paid, or treated as paid, by a borrower to obtain a home mortgage. Points may also be called loan origination fees, maximum loan charges, loan discount, or discount points. A borrower is treated as paying any points that a home seller pays for the borrower’s mortgage.”

    If you purchased a home in 2011, have your tax professional evaluate your closing statement to see if there are loan fees that may be used as a deduction on your tax return regardless of whether you or the seller paid them.

    Refinancing a principal residence or purchasing an investment or income property require that points must be deducted ratably over the term of the mortgage rather than deducting them fully in the year paid. Borrowers in these situations should consider the benefits of lower interest rates from paying point to higher interest rates without points.

    This article is meant to provide information that can be discussed with your tax professional about your specific situation and is not to be considered tax advice.


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  • Choose Your Deduction

    Posted Under: Home Buying  |  February 2, 2012 10:15 AM  |  1,468 views  |  No comments

    One third of all U.S. households, 75% of households with more than $75,000 income and most homeowners itemize their deduction on their federal income tax returns. It makes sense because the interest paid on their mortgage and their property taxes probably exceeds the allowable standard deduction.

    However, with interest rates as low as they have been in the last two years and the price of homes having come down considerably, it is possible that the standard deduction may be the better choice.

    Each year, the taxpayer can compare the total of the itemized deductions to the standard deduction to select which method will result in the most benefits. The 2011 standard deduction is $11,600 for married couple filing jointly and $5,800 for single filers.

    The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 allows homeowners to take the standard deduction and the lesser of their actual property taxes of $1,000 if filing their return married jointly. For more information, see Schedule L found on www.IRS.gov and consult your tax advisor.


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  • Forced Savings…Really?

    Posted Under: Home Buying  |  February 2, 2012 10:06 AM  |  1,469 views  |  No comments

    Part of the American Dream is to own a home. A home is a place to call your own; a place to raise your family and share with your friends. A home is a place to feel safe and secure. A home is a good investment?

    In a recent report* by Beracha and Johnson, it is suggested that buying a home is the right thing to do but not necessarily for the reason that people expect. A home is, in many instances, the largest investment that homeowners have and it accounts for the majority of their net worth.

    The report suggests that the self-imposed savings due to amortization has a significant contribution to a person’s net worth. The premise was determined by comparing the net worth of buyers to renters over a 31 year period of time.

    When the savings in rent and down payment were reinvested, renters had a greater net worth than buyers after each 8-year cycle by a margin of 91% to 9%. On the other hand, when the requirement to reinvest the savings was dropped and renters were allowed to spend the savings on consumption, the Buyers had a greater net worth 84% compared to 16% for renters.

    Appreciation, tax savings and amortization contribute to lowering the cost of housing and help homeowners build equity. The forced savings due to amortization benefits the individuals who may not be disciplined enough to invest the savings otherwise. Regardless of which benefits apply in different situations, owning a home can be a satisfying investment both emotionally and financially.

    *Factor Sensitivities in the Making of Buy vs. Rent Decisions: Do Homeowners Make the Right Decision for the Wrong Reason by Eli Berach and Ken J. Johnson of Florida International University writing for the Journal of Housing Research.


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  • The “Right Size” Home

    Posted Under: Home Buying  |  February 2, 2012 10:03 AM  |  1,468 views  |  No comments

    Work hard, buy a home, start a family and continue to upgrade your home until everyone has enough room. This has been the blueprint for lots of homeowners for the last fifty years but there is certainly a shift in thinking that could change all of that.

    Interestingly, Americans live in much larger homes than most people in other countries throughout the world. The U.S. Census reported in 2006 that the average single family home completed had 2,469 square feet which was 769 feet more than in 1976.

    Once the children are grown and have moved out, homeowners are finding they have too much room. Even if their home is paid for, they have higher property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance on the larger home than they’d have if they were living in the “right size” home.

    Some homeowners state thaty they’re keeping their larger home because it has luxury features that smaller homes don’t have. There’s a movement that seems to have started in the United States to find the “right size” home with the amenities and convenience that homeowners want.

    This philosophy has been expressed by Sarah Susanka in her book Creating the Not So Big House. It proposes a house that “values quality over quantity with an emphasis on comfort and beauty, a high level of detail, and a floor plan designed for today’s informal lifestyle.”

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  • Finding the Best Deal

    Posted Under: Home Buying  |  February 2, 2012 10:00 AM  |  1,499 views  |  No comments


    Consumers are vigilant about buying opportunities like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday along with sales, coupons and rebates. Some cautious buyers will even risk shopping early to find exactly what they want to waiting until the last moment for potentially lower prices.

    In retail, the hype is more obvious and the signs may be easier to read than that of the home market. Certainly, volumes have been written about the record low mortgage rates and that home prices have adjusted considerably lower in the last four years.

    A more subtle indication of a home buying bargain is that statistics indicate that year-after-year, the average home prices fall in the fourth quarter. The holidays beginning with Thanksgiving, winter weather and the distractions of gift purchases certainly contribute to lower home sales.

    Regardless of what is causing the reduced volume, the smart buyer can take advantage of the end of the year to get their best possible deal on a home purchase. The buyers willing to buck the trend could easily benefit from lower prices and less competition from other buyers.


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