LOOKING AHEAD | Rising Rates? Who Knows? For Now They’re Still Affordably Low

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river2It’s easy—when you’re ready to buy a home and apply for a mortgage loan—to become obsessed with interest rates. How high will the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan rise in 2016? How about on a 15-year loan?

The truth is, no one knows what interest rates will do in 2016.

This isn’t unusual. No one knew what rates would do last year, either. Remember the predictions that mortgage interest rates would soar in 2015? Those predictions turned out to be incorrect. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the nationwide average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was still under 4%. And the average rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were under 3.5%.

There’s no guarantee that rates won’t rise throughout 2016. But this is important to remember: As 2016 kicked off a new year, average interest rates were still near historic lows. So even if rates do rise this year, they’ll have to jump significantly not to be nicely affordable by historic standards.

Outlook: Small changes in interest rates won’t impact your ability to afford a mortgage by much. If you take out a $150,000 30-year fixed-rate loan at 3.8%, your monthly payment—not including taxes and insurance—will be around $700. If the rate on that same loan increased to 4.1%, your monthly payment—again excluding insurance and taxes—would rise to $724. That’s a difference of about $24 a month or about $288 a year.

The message here? Yes, it’s better to buy while interest rates are low. But don’t let an obsession with rates keep you from pulling the trigger on your dream home this year. The odds are high that mortgage rates throughout 2016 will remain at attractive and affordable levels.

Categories: 2016 Interest Rates, Looking Ahead 2016, mortgage rates, Uncategorized

2016 Inside Tips For Our Local Real Estate Market And How To Come Out Ahead

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lotus_bud_free_photo-690x457Just how does homeownership affect our lives, our money, our future? Home is more than shelter, after all. Our homes say a lot about who we are…and they are one of our biggest financial investments.

This month’s Special Report explores the issues local owners, buyers and sellers face in 2016—and details priceless “insider tips” to help you make the most of our upcoming housing market.

We hope you’ll find this information useful, and then call on us for the latest trends and opportunities in your area. Rest assured. You can rely on our expertise and extensive network of contacts to make sure you get the most out of this year’s local real estate market. (Please keep in mind the figures we use in this issue are for illustration only. Interest rates change often; please contact us for the latest rates and terms.)

Keep reading to learn more about our 2016 real estate market…and how you can come out ahead as home owners, homebuyers and home sellers.

Home Sellers: Who Will Buy Your Home?

What does today’s homebuyer look like? You might be surprised. Results from a survey of first-time homebuyers done last summer by Zillow show that homebuyers have evolved over the years.

Most first-time homebuyers…

…have rented for about six years before buying a home. This means they may have done a lot of research to figure out exactly what kind of home they want. Buyers are educated and savvy. Make sure your home is move-in ready.

…are older and less likely to be married, with an average age of 33. Selling your home to a family may not always be the case. Appeal to the single lifestyle with ease of use and convenience, pointing out features that save any homeowner time, money and hassle.

…buy expensive first homes and spend more relative to their income than in the past 40 years. These buyers likely have better jobs, steadier income and may not begin with “starter homes.” Median income nationally for this group is around $53,000 and, on average, they spend about 2.6 times their salary on their first home. No matter the price point, buyers in the coming market are looking for value and know when a home is priced right.

Categories: Uncategorized

FSBO INCENTIVES: 12 Contract Options That Entice Buyers | Wilmington NC real estate

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Wrightsville Beach NC www.cbbaker.com If you’re selling in today’s Wilmington NC real estate  market, you want to make your house outshine the competition. Buyers are most likely to choose your house if it offers something special. Here are 12 ways to make sure you land a “Sale, Sweet Sale.”  # www.wilmingtonnc-realestate.com

 A Spoonful Of Sugar

1. Offer a warranty.

Purchase a buyer’s home warranty to protect against future problems.

2. Help with closing costs.

Cash-poor buyers concerned more with out-of-pocket costs than monthly payments will especially appreciate this one.

3. Consider financing help.

Provide seller financing or buy down the buyer’s mortgage rate for the first year.

4. Help with utilities.

Pay some or all estimated utilities for 6 or 12 months.

5. Help with fees.

Pay a year’s condominium or homeowners association fees.

6. Pre-pay memberships.

Buy a one-year pool or community golf club membership, cable TV subscription, or other recreational activity.

7. Consider a moving allowance.

Pay the buyer’s documented moving expenses, or provide an allowance toward moving costs.

8. Treat them to window treatments.

Offer redecorating cash for new carpet or drapes.

9. Mow down any objections.

Buy a lawn-maintenance service for a year, or offer a riding mower if the lot is large.

10. Give them a dock on the bay.

If you live in a waterfront community, offer to rent a boat slip for a year.

11. Reimburse buyer the cost of points.

{short description of image} This is often a double benefit for buyers, who save both on the points themselves and on their federal taxes. The IRS now allows buyers to deduct the cost of seller-paid points as a Schedule A mortgage expense.

12. Price your home below comparable properties.

Prove your home’s good value by having an appraisal done and setting the price below the appraised amount.

Call on us for more ideas of ways to make your home the sweetest one on the market. We’ll create a customized marketing program to help get your home sold in any market!

Let us know if we can help.  www.cbbaker.com

Categories: FSBO 101, Sell your home, volunteer in wilmington NC, Waterfront Wilmington NC, waterfront wrightsville beach, wilmington nc real estate, wilmington real estate stats

SOLAR AND WIND ENERGY | Alternative Energy Credits Can Mean Lucrative Deductions

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On your federal tax return, you can claim a tax credit of 30% of the cost of alternative energy equipment installed on your home, including solar hot water heaters, solar electric equipment and wind turbines. The installation must be on a property in the U.S., but does not have to be your principal home. This tax credit is available through calendar year 2016.

TAX TIP: There is no maximum dollar limit on the credit for most types of property. And, if your tax credit is more than the tax that you owe, you can carry forward unused portions of this credit to next year’s return. See IRS Form 5695 “Residential Energy Credits” for more information and to claim these credits.

Categories: Solar & Wind Energy, tax exemptions, Uncategorized

Soothing Medicine for your CONSCIENCE | Volunteer Wilmington NC Conscience Fairs 2016 | Wilmington NC real estate

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StarnewsMedia is hosting the 2016 Conscience Fair this year  10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, in Cape Fear Community College’s Schwartz Center, 601 N. Front St.  If you have not selected a New Years resolution, you may  find one here at the fair.  Over 100 Non- Profits will be there with a whole list of needs.  A great time to scratch that “Volunteer” itch you have been having.  Wilmington NC is an awesome city and it is mainly because of it’s great people and giving attitude.  Join in, you will not be sorry.

More to follow on how to sign your non-profit up for the fair.

The following nonprofits have signed up for booths so far.

Coastal Enterprises of Wilmington; Don Hoover; (910) 763-3424; d.hoover@bizec.rr.comUnited Way of the Cape Fear Area;

Tommy Taylor; 9107983900; tommy.taylor@uwcfa.orgStep Up for Soldiers; Tom Russell; 910-297-4981;tom@stepupforsoldiers.org

Cape Fear Regional Community Development Corporation; Janiel Blackman; 910-762-7555; info@cfrcdc.orgNAACP Parents’ Council of New Hanover County; George Vlasits; 910-465-8871; gvlasits@gmail.com

The Bridge; Mary Ellen Bowman; 9105239687; cwjchope@gmail.comNew Hanover Regional Medical Center; Eileen McConville; 910.667.5317; Eileen.mcconville@nhrmc.org

Paws Place Dog Rescue; Peggy Durso; 330-416-4748; peggy@pawsplace.org

New Hanover County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT); Kristen Skinner; 910-798-6905; kskinner@nhcgov.com

Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry, Inc. (WARM); Melanie James; 910.399.7563; info@warmnc.org

Easter Seals UCP; Pat Watson; 910-790-5921 Ext. 8337; patricia.watson@eastersealsucp.com

Gifted in Rhythm & Life (GiRL); Cassandra McNeil ; 202-421-2645; cassandra.wearegrl@gmail.com

Quality Enhancement for Nonprofit Organizations; Natasha Davis; 910-962-2878; davisn@uncw.edu

Cameron Art Museum; Pam Palmer; 910-395-5999 x 1012; ppalmer@cameronartmuseum.org

Airlie Gardens; Flo Berry; 910-798-7566; fberry@nhcgov.com

Road to Recovery-Relay For Life; Yona Bar-Zeev; 9106865191; barzeevy@gmail.com

Sunrise Express Benefit Group ; Peter Morreale; 9102977868; Peter@sunriseexpress.org Animal Avengers; Jennifer Witkowski; 8472049458; jenniferwitkowski@gmail.com

New Hanover County Board of Elections; Jenna Dahlgren; 910 798 7330; jdahlgren@nhcgov.com

North Carolina Coastal Federation; Rebecca Peter; 910-509-2838; rebeccap@nccoast.org

Sunrise Express Benefit Group; Peter Morreale; 910-297-7868; peter@sunriseexpress.org

Pets for Vets – Cape Fear NC; Peggy Jones; 910-470-6337; capefear-nc@petsforvets.com

North Carolina Sorosis; Debbie Sheehan, President; (910)395-2176 or (910)612-0696; dwsheehan@hotmail.com

Wilmington Prostate Cancer Support Group, Us TOO; George W Gardner; 9107929953; wproscasupportgp@aol.com

CAT Adoption Team; Julie Wheeler; 910-228-0163; jwheeler1@ec.rr.com

Team First Book; Carol Barre; 910-200-1441; cbarre1250@ec.rr.com

The Carousel Center, Inc.; Laurene Avery; 910-254-9898; Vista@carouselcenter.org

Cape Fear Habitat For Humanity; Tim Synan, Volunteer Coordinator; 910-762-4744 x105; tim@capefearhabitat.org

Diaper Bank of North Carolina Lower Cape Fear; Leigh Robertson; 910-232-2824; mleighrobertson@gmail.com

Cape Fear Parrot Sanctuary; Ces Erdman; 910-471-2186; cesnc1978@hotmail.com

The Matthew 25 Center; Paula Schwefel; 9102597133; matthew25@bizec.rr.comAARP NC; Suzanne LaFollette-Black; 919-274-2598; Sblack@aarp.org

Cape Fear Museum of History and Science; Kitty Yerkes; 910.798.4372; kyerkes@nhcgov.com

Journey4Josh; Patty Proutey; 910-442-7721; Journey4josh@gmail.com

Kids Making It; Kim Boyce; 910-262-3452; kim@kidsmakingit.org

Canines for Service; Christy Borst; 910-362-8181; cborst@caninesforservice.org or information@caninesforservice.org

NourishNC, Inc.; Kathryn Thomas; 910-465-0995; kthomas5745@gmail.com

The Warrior Ride; Carolyn Scott ; 910 278 9919 ;…

More to come.  Now is your chance to make a difference.

www.cbbaker.com for all your Wilmington NC real estate needs.



Categories: Concience Fair 2016, Volunteer in Wilmington 2016, wilmington nc weekly events

PUZZLING IT OUT Take Note Home Sellers: Tax-Free Gains

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Every year holiday dates come and go on the calendar. You’ve likely enjoyed celebrating a number of holidays with family and friends recently. Most everyone looks forward to these holidays.

There’s also one big, looming date, however, that isn’t a holiday—even though it’s marked in red on almost every calendar: Tax Day, April 15. If you’re like most taxpayers, you dread this date because it means you have to pull together a myriad of financial documents spanning the past year and make some sense of them, which isn’t a fun task.

If you own a home, you can relax because that home provides you with many financial advantages at tax time. You may not realize this, but it’s true. Homeownership is made affordable for many families because of how Uncle Sam’s tax deductions result in the federal government contributing from 10% to 39.6% (depending on your tax bracket) toward monthly home mortgage interest and property tax payments.

In this special TAXES edition of the newsletter, we have outlined some basic home-related tax facts you should be aware of. Be sure to consult a tax professional for complete information applicable to your specific situation.


taxTaxpayers who sell their principal residence can pocket—tax-free—as much as $500,000 in profit if they file federal taxes jointly or $250,000 if they file singly. The property must have been owned and used as their principal residence for any two of the prior five years. Homeowners can shelter the profits on the sale of a home as often as once every two years. If the two-year use and ownership tests are not met, but the home is sold because of special circumstances (i.e., health problem, job loss, etc.), the exclusion is prorated. Otherwise, gains above $500,000 or $250,000 are taxed at current capital gains rates plus may be subject to an additional 3.8% surtax, depending on income.

Note: In effect since January 1, 2013, the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) applies a 3.8% surtax to certain types of net investment income of individuals, estates and trusts that have modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeding certain thresholds. For individuals, the MAGI threshold for a single filer or a person filing as head of household (with qualifying person) is $200,000; for married filing jointly or for a qualifying widow(er) with dependent child, $250,000; for married filing separately, $125,000.

The 3.8% tax is applied to whichever amount is less—your net investment income or the amount your income exceeds the applicable threshold. For example, if a couple’s net investment income is $200,000 while their MAGI is $300,000 ($50,000 above the applicable threshold), the 3.8% tax would be applied to the $50,000 in excess of the threshold.

For home sellers with MAGI above the applicable threshold, the 3.8% tax may be applied to your home-sale gains that exceed your home-sale gain exclusion ($500,000 for married joint filers, $250,000 for single filers). If your MAGI amount above the threshold is less than your un-excluded home-sale gains plus net income from certain other investments, you would only owe the 3.8% tax on the excessive MAGI amount (NIIT applies to the lesser of extra income or extra gains). You can still take either $250,000 or $500,000 in profits from your home sale tax-free.

TAX TIP: Income from rental property, gains from the sale of a second home and gains from the sale of an investment property would be considered part of net investment income (and possibly subject to the NIIT) to the extent that gains are not otherwise offset by capital losses. Browse to http://bit.ly/IRSNIIT for further details.

We are here to help.  Text us 910-617-0309 or 910-520-5090


Categories: #Spring Time To Sell, Real Estate Tax Tips 2016, Uncategorized, wilmington nc real estate, wilmington nc relocation

Hot Pics Tips | Things We Do To Take Great Shots Of Your Home

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Showcasing your home with great photos is one of the best marketing techniques to sell your home.When we list your home for sale, we make sure your home will show well online, as well as in person. Here’s how:


Plan Shots: We won’t miss key features of your home. We capture all the images that make buyers notice your home and want to visit it in person.

Staging Success: Staging your home creates vignettes in each room that are picture-perfect. In person, these areas will make buyers linger—and feel “at home.” Don’t be afraid to move furniture into new arrangements, add color and pare down your belongings.

Details, Details, Details: Our photos sell homes because we do the little things like review details: We check for unflattering reflections in mirrors and windows, make sure pets aren’t in the photos, capture complete images, maximize photos for important rooms, etc.

Best Angles: We’ll shoot only photos that look good and draw buyers in. The sequence of our photos tell a story about your home and each image counts. We don’t include awkward shots that make buyers scratch their heads in wonder.

Bright And Beautiful: Turning on lights and opening up the window coverings creates warmth. Light is our best friend to make your home look spacious, clean and inviting.

Neighborhood: The location of your home can be a huge selling point. We may also include community photos to feature amenities nearby that attract buyers.

Categories: How to take home photos, Tips for Home Photos, Uncategorized

2016 Interest Rates | Does Locking In An Interest Rate Make Sense?

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If you’re ready to apply for a mortgage loan, the odds are you’re following the ups and downs of mortgage interest rates carefully. This isn’t surprising; a higher interest rate will make your monthly payment bigger. A lower one can save you a significant amount of dollars each month.

But when should you lock in a mortgage rate? That’s a challenge that many borrowers face.

In a rate lock, your mortgage lender agrees to hold the current interest rate for which you’d qualify for a certain number of days. Your lender might agree to hold an interest rate of 4% on your 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for 15 or 30 or 45 days, for example.

If you don’t lock, your rate might rise before you complete the loan-application process. But remember that average interest rates might also fall after you lock in a rate. That is a risk that you take when ordering a lock.

Remember, too, that locking a rate usually isn’t free. You may have to pay for the service, though what you pay varies depending on your lender and how long you want to lock-in that interest rate.

If you’re debating whether locking a rate makes sense for you, call us. We’d be happy to talk about the pros and cons of finding a rate and locking it in place.


Categories: #selling homes, Home Ownership Options', Locking in a interest rate, mortgage rates, Uncategorized

Parents Education | Getting Ready To Pay For College

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College costs just around the corner? Yikes! Yes, if you would have put aside $250/month for the last 13 years you’d have nearly $44,000 socked away (assuming average growth of 2%/year)…or almost $90,000 if you put away $500/month for the same period. But admit it. Not every parent has done that…for all their kids.

Now there’s another way to cut the cost of college…especially for parents whose savings are a bit short (or their offspring chose an out-of-state university): Invest in college real estate.

First, be sure your scholar has settled into their university for the long haul. (Know that 41% of entering first-time, full-time students at a four-year institution don’t complete a bachelor’s degree at that institution in six years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics). Let your children scope out their college town and be your eyes and ears. Some neighborhoods make better rentals than others (consider bus routes, parking and proximity to campus). Some college towns allow private rentals more than others.

Second, use your savings (or equity in your home) as a down payment for a college-student pad with extra bedrooms. Those extra bedrooms (ideally three to four) can be rented to other students to offset the mortgage payments if parents don’t buy all cash.

Third, use a top local agent to find a perfect property. We can refer you to a quality agent in the college town you want through our affiliate networks.

Fourth, hold your investment for the long term. If you sell to break even when your child leaves school, you could save thousands in dorm fees and housing expenses. Picture this “hold” scenario: Invest $23,500 in a $100,000 college rental. Then, assuming 3% appreciation and rent of $1,000/month to pay expenses, your equity position could be about $83,000 after 13 years. Of course, real world results will vary. No question managing student rentals requires parent/investors to expect needed repairs, and the capital risk with rental properties is higher than with regular savings.

The key is—even though your savings are not what you hoped—you can still cut the cost of college with some savvy investing. To maximize your chances of good results, read Smart Essentials For College Rentals by Dan Gooder Richard (available on Amazon.com) to get the inside skinny on exactly how you can beat college costs…even if you haven’t saved enough in the meantime. Then contact us for a referral to a top real estate professional in the college town your scholar has chosen.

Categories: Buy investment home, Buy investment home for college age kids, Kiddie Condo, Paying for college, Uncategorized

FUHGEDDABOUTDIT | 3 Ways To Avoid Overpricing Pitfalls

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402187Some sellers think pricing their home above what it is worth is a good idea. What could go wrong?

  • A high listing price doesn’t deter buyers because price is negotiable, right?Fuhgeddaboutdit. Buyers are savvy. They know what comparable homes are worth and what they’re selling for at year-end. They might see your home listing online (if it isn’t priced out of their search-price range), but based on its specs, location and price, might simply skip viewing it. And, if buyers don’t tour your home in person, they’re not going to buy it.
  • If buyers don’t like the price, they’ll simply offer less and we’ll still be successful in selling our home.Fuhgeddaboutdit. Buyers often aren’t comfortable offering significantly less than asking price. They are more likely to move on with their money and find another home that is priced reasonably. After all, why offer to buy a home you can’t afford? Others might think they’re wasting everybody’s time bottom-fishing with a huge price reduction.
  • When setting our listing price, we have to clear a specific amount of cash from our home sale.Fuhgeddaboutdit. Buyers don’t care what you need to clear in your home sale. They are focused entirely on your home and what it is worth today—and only today—in the current real estate market. Setting an asking price based on how much you’ve put into the house, how much you need to buy your new home, or what you feel your home is worth doesn’t work with today’s buyers. After all, buyers and the market set market value, not sellers’ hopes.
Categories: Avoid Overpricing, Overpricing a home, Uncategorized, wilmington, wilmington nc, wilmington nc real estate

Kay Baker | 1001 Military Cutoff Rd. | Ste 101 Wilmington, NC 28405 | kaybaker@seacoastrealty.com | 910-232-0363 | Fax: 910-256-0473

Copyright © 2016 Wilmington NC Real Estate Guide. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: All content on this blog is my own opinion and should not be treated as fact or relied upon when purchasing or selling real estate.