Home buying not always the best investment

Buying a home is often called the American dream. But for those who buy with a 3 percent down payment (or no down payment at all), it can be a poor proposition.

A Harvard University study of home sales in Philadelphia, Boston, Denver, and Chicago found that sellers of low-priced homes lost money up to 40 percent of the time once transaction costs were included.

Economists at Wellesley College say whether home ownership is a good or bad investment often depends on the time of purchase. The odds of taking a loss are higher if the seller bought after home prices had already risen and if the buyer stayed in the home for only a few years.

Regular investing in stocks and bonds could be a better alternative. Returns on housing tend to be lower than returns on stocks. The risk of losing money is high when most of a family’s wealth is tied up in a single asset. Factors to consider:

* When satisfactory rentals are not available, buying a family home could be the best option in any case.
* Owning a home can cost more than renting when house payments, taxes, insurance, and maintenance are considered.
* For those who don’t plan to stay in a home for seven years or more, the risk of losing money on a home sale is higher.
* Buyers may not benefit from the tax deduction for interest because their standard deduction is a better deal.
* Easy home-equity loans could mean little forced saving or equity building.
* Those who make a small down payment may pay higher mortgage interest rates and the cost of mortgage insurance.

Over time, buying a home can be a good wealth-building strategy. When housing prices rise, the owner benefits. But housing prices, like the stock market can be cyclical and often don’t rise very much in some areas, and many people don’t stay in a home long enough to build equity. Knowledge of local conditions is the key to making a successful real estate decision.

In the Stuart and Martin County areas, we are nearing or at the bottom of a correction and there are some very good opportunities for home buyers that plan to stay in their home for a number of years. For other areas on the Treasure Coast, please contact me and I can go through a list of options and probabilities for different action scenarios tailored individually for you.

Gabe Sanders Now Utilizing Hybrid Technology

After watching the developments with hybrid vehicles, I finally made the plunge and purchased a Toyota, Camry hybrid. I’ve been interested in this technology for a number of years. But, until recently there really weren’t any larger cars available which met my requirements for my real estate business. There have been a few mid-sized SUV’s with hybrid technology, but they were optimized for the additional torque of the electric engine as opposed to significant fuel savings.

With my new Camry I have the satisfaction of saving a significant amount of fuel when driving my customers around Stuart, Port St. Lucie and the Treasure Coast of FL. or taking care of my listings. There is ample leg room in the rear as well as decent trunk room for signs, etc. This car is rated for 40 miles per gallon around the city and so far (only two weeks) I’ve been averaging about 36 mpg. While I’m definitely no left wing extremist, it gives me great satisfaction using about 1/3 the fuel I was previously using and making a contribution in reducing the amount of oil we import to keep our nation running, while saving some money as an added benefit.

My customers have absolutely loved the DVD based GPS navigation system. Those that are unfamiliar or new to the area, get to follow the route and see the local points of interest on a nice bright screen as we travel our route showing homes, condos and land in Martin County and Port St. Lucie, Florida.

If you have any questions about hybrid technology, drop me a line or give me a call. If you want the royal treatment as you look for property in Stuart, Jensen Beach, Palm City, Hutchinson Island and Port St. Lucie contact me and we’ll set it up.

Please visit my sites at www.TreasureCoastFLHomes.com and www.GabeSanders.com

Martin County Florida Schools Report Almost Straight A’s

The state of Florida came out with it’s latest report card for each school in the state. Based on the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test), each school and district is tested on reading, writing, mathematics and science.
This year, Martin County received 18 A’s and one B, according to reports released by the state in June.

Martin County Schools Superintendent Sara Wilcox said: “This is certainly a good pay day for us, It validates how hard our teachers, administrators and students and everyone’s been working.”

Schools that improve a letter grade or maintain an A grade are rewarded $100 per student. The school recognition money is largely used for faculty bonuses.

Grades weren’t as good across the state as in Martin County. Statewide, the number of A- rated schools dropped, and the number of F- rated schools went from 21 in 2006 to 82 this year.
The Treasure Coast also received its first batch of F’s since the state started issuing school grades in 1999. For the first time this year, the test was scored for the science section and in math by the lowest performing 25 percent of students.

Martin received the second-highest percentage of A schools among the state’s 67 counties. Gilchrist County had the highest percentage of A’s, though the county located in northeastern Florida only has four schools.

Two Martin schools received their first A’s ever: South Fork High and Indiantown Middle.
“It’s something we’ve been working for for a long time,” said Indiantown Middle Principal Debra Henderson. “It was great that the grades came the last day of summer school because we still had about 75 percent of our kids here. We were able to have a little celebration.”

The district’s lone B school — J.D. Parker School of Science, Math & Technology — had enough points to be considered a “high A school,” said Teresa D’Albora, the district’s director of school improvement and curriculum.

But because the lowest 25 percent of the school’s students didn’t make learning gains, the state dropped the grade to a B.

Wilcox said she and other education leaders believe there should be a change in the grading system.

“I would prefer to see a system that rewards schools for their work with the lowest quartile rather than being punitive, I’m hoping that maybe sometime in the future we can see some kind of change in the grading system that rewards rather than punishes schools.”

The Clark Advanced Learning Center, a charter school at the Chastain Campus of Indian River Community College, received a B from the state.Charter schools are public schools operated by an individual, company or group and get the same per-pupil money from the state as other district schools.

Martin County continues to be a unique and desirable area for families looking for quality education for their children. A strong tradition of limited growth and superb Florida lifestyle remains in place in Martin County which includes the towns of Stuart, Jensen Beach, Palm City, Sewalls Point, Hobe Sound, Hutchinson Island and Indiantowwn.

For information about relocating to the Treasure Coast of Florida please contact Gabe Sanders or or visit http://www.gabesanders.com/

The Real Worth of a Professional Real Estate Agent

Many people think a real estate agent’s job is solely to market a property that he/she has listed or to take buyers out and find them a new home or investment. Most of the public and a few agents themselves feel that is their function in the real estate marketplace.

In the real world, most often the real worth of your Realtor® is what is done during and after the contract for sale is negotiated and signed. A good Realtor® will have a wealth of negotiating tactics to try to get a contract that will be a win-win situation for both the buyer and seller.

After the contract is signed, there come a lot of potential pitfalls to a successful closing, such as inspections, appraisals, financing, surveys, and more. Your professional Realtor® will do his/her best to recommend the best vendors and help hold the transaction together as an intermediary for further negotiations and any possible problems that invariably arise.

For many unrepresented sellers this lesson is very often learned the hard way. Even most real estate lawyers won’t or can’t give the type of support a Realtor® can give. After all, they are paid by the hour and their main concern is legal. The Realtor® is only paid if there is a successful conclusion to the transaction.

To see what one buyer went through recently, check out his postings here: http://www.fsbogonewrong.com/ .

If you’re looking for a good Realtor in the Treasure Coast of Florida, please contact Gabe Sanders and or visit our web site at http://www.gabesanders.com/ .

We also belong to an exclusive referral network, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, if you would like to be introduced to superior Realtors® in other areas.

Gov. Crist signs first part of historic property tax-cut

The first half of what is billed as the biggest tax cut in Florida’s history became law Thursday with Gov. Charlie Crist’s signature, but many residents may be disappointed because their savings will be relatively small.

The bipartisan law is expected to slash up to $15.6 billion in local property taxes during the first five years. But those reductions will be spread across-the-board to all classes of property.
The estimated average cut for a primary homeowner is $174, or 7 percent, in the first year. Second homes and other residential properties are estimated at $199, also 7 percent, and commercial-industrial at $941, or 6 percent.

Yearly property tax bills have risen by thousands of dollars each for homeowners in areas where real estate values have skyrocketed over the past four years, although prices have been leveling off in recent months.

Lawmakers passed two measures during a three-day special session last week to appease taxpayers. Florida voters next will decide whether to adopt the second half of the plan on Jan. 29.

That Republican-sponsored constitutional amendment could increase the total five-year cut to $31.6 billion with owners of primary homes, known as homesteads, getting most of the benefit. The plan would let those homeowners pick a larger tax exemption that would save them money now, but could cost more over the long run.

Democrats, local officials, labor unions and other opponents say the amendment would cut too deeply into the budgets of cities, counties and school boards while many tax protesters say it won’t go far enough.

Both sets of critics, though, say the amendment is flawed because most of the savings would go to homesteads, which already receive substantial tax breaks, rather than to other residential properties and businesses hardest hit by the run-up in values.

By contrast, only one legislator voted against the bill Crist signed, and many local officials have accepted it.

Unlike the amendment, school districts are exempt from the law’s requirement for cities, counties and independent special districts to roll back and cap their taxes.

Taxes for the next local fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, would remain at current levels and then, except for a few financially troubled cities and counties, they would be cut an additional 3 percent, 5 percent, 7 percent or 9 percent.Those local governments with the largest tax increases in the past five years would have to make the biggest cuts.

Our best current estimates are that St. Lucie County will be mandated a 9% tax rollback while Martin County should have a 5% reduction.

The next hurdle in tax reform will be the referendum for the ‘super exemption’ scheduled for early next year.

Questions or comments, contact me at http://www.gabesanders.com/