Tag Archives: personal finance

Just Starting Out in Your 20s

This is probably the scariest moment in your life. You’re starting out and living on your own the first time.

Your parents are there, but not close enough.

Your don’t have any saving, or if you do it’s a small sum only. You don’t know much about money or investing because it was never taught in school or from your parents.

You’re earning a beginning income, which is eaten up with high tax rate, because you have no business, real estate property or family to take advantage of any tax deductions.

According to the x-curve, you are in the beginning of your life with many responsibilities and minimal wealth. You are in the very beginning of your journey to financial freedom.

But it’s okay. This is a good thing, because you have "time" on your side. According to the wealth formula, you need time to grow your money.

You're lucky at this stage.

Take advantage of this benefit as time waits for no one. The earlier you start saving the more your money compound as time goes.

Here are a few Strategies to Achieving Financial Freedom for the Beginners.

Get financially educated. I can’t stress it enough. Learn how money works now, or work the rest of your life for money. Sign-up for FREE financial strategies workshops in Honolulu to get financially educated.

Get an income from a job, a gig or a business. Whatever you can get some money in. You can’t get money without doing anything. But you can in fact start making money without spending much. For example, driving for uber or starting a business in the financial industry.

Now that you have some money coming in. Be sure to Pay Yourself First…put aside at least 3-5% of your income every month in your “rainy day” bucket. Start with a small insurance policy, because if something happens to you, your family immediately would have $100,000 or more. Once you have an insurance policy in place, put the rest of the money in an emergency fund that can provide for 3-6 months of your living expenses.

Live Below Your Means and spend what is left after your saving. This is the money that you can use to pay off your debts, go out to nice dinner, buy a few nice things for yourself. Buy only what you can afford with your money NOW, not your future money. This is avoid getting into debts.

Manage Your Debt. Some of you may have college debts, and some of you may also have consumer debts. High interest on credit card debts can compound quickly and eat up your savings and slow your progress to financial freedom.

When you have saved a big enough chuck of money, then you can use that for down payment for your first property or invest.

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Learn how to money works, build wealth, and protect your income and assets.

There is no magic for building a solid financial foundation.

You can make more money. The old way of thinking—getting a good job, working until 65 and retiring happily—is over. Nowadays you should be more proactive in your thinking about making money.

If you look for it, you’ll find it.

Make it a mission to change your family’s financial future.

1. Increase your cash flow. Make more money when you can, while you can. Have multiple sources of income.
2. Spend less. Cut down your expenses. It’s not how much you earn that counts. It’s what you keep. Set aside 5, 10, 15% of your income to savings.
3. Reduce your debt and liabilities. Interest on the debt will interfere with your goal for long-term asset accumulation.
4. Understand how money works. You must take time to understand how money works. You must learn how to make money work for you.
5. Have a financial goal. Set up a plan of action.
6. Take care of your responsibility. Have proper protection.

This book is the first step to your financial freedom...

How to Make Money Work for You

Understanding how money work is the first step to building wealth.

Remember, money is a tool. When used properly, money can build you great wealth. But, when used in the wrong way, you can be digging your own grave.

Consider this your user guide to money.

Wealth Formula

The Power of Time

Time can be your worst enemy or your greatest ally. No matter where you are in life or in building a financial strategy, the key is to begin saving now. The sooner you begin, the less money you need to set aside to create a solid financial future.

Pay Yourself First & Save Early

Mr. Save Early saves $3,600 per year for 7 years in an 8% tax deferred account.

Mr. Wait Longer starts saving the same $3,600 per year for 17 years in an 8% tax deferred account, 7 years later than Mr. Start Early.

Procrastination is one of the main causes of failure.

Pay yourself first each month, so you have money to invest and take advantage of the time and compound interest.

Don’t wait until you pay off all your debts to invest. That’ll be too late.

The Wealth Formula only works with early investing, high rate of return, and minimizing tax.

Make small changes in your lifestyle and spending habits to save at least $10 a day.

Related article: Turn Your Cash Flow from Negative to Positive

The Rule of 72 is an estimation of how long it would take for any amount of money to double.

You simply divide the number 72 by the rate of return, and the result is the approximate number of year for your money to double.

Take a look at the following hypothetical example that shows how an initial $10,000 investment grows over time.

How Fast Can Your Money Double?

Notice how a $10,000 investment at age 29 doubles faster as the rate of return increases. Your $10,000 compounded to a grand $640,000 at age 65 with a 12% return versus a merger $40,000 at 4% return.

That’s the magic of compound interest - money keeps making money, which continues to make more money, and saving early.

The Magic of Compound Interest

That’s exciting…but consider the interest rate on your credit card.

Is it 18%? Or higher?

The Rule of 72 can work against you just as powerfully as it can work for you.

The Rule of 72 does not consider impact of taxes. Taxes can increase the amount of time it takes for money to double.

Money or wealth needs time and compound interest to grow.

KNOW YOUR INVESTMENT RISK

How Fast Can You Recover From a Loss?

Stock market fluctuation can greatly influence how fast and how much your money can grow. Any loss will take an even great rate of return to recover. Therefore, you want o avoid risk of loss as much as possible.

Don’t underestimate even a small loss of 5%. It’ll take 10% to recover back to your previous position. A 20% loss will take a hefty 40% return to recover.

So proceed with caution when investing in stock market, if that’s your choice of investment.

Related article: Invest in Real Estate

Impact of Tax and Inflation

In addition to procrastination, tax and inflation are also enemies when trying to build and maintain savings.

Tax and inflation is like the infection that eats at your money tree. However, you cannot avoid tax and inflation completely.

But you can increase your odds to minimize their damage.

Related article: How to Become Rich and Build Wealth

Can You Afford Long Term Care?

Will you need long term care?

Most of you would answer “I don’t know”.

I don’t know either.

If I have a crystal ball that can tell the future, I would give you my honest answer.

Unfortunately, I don’t.

But my best advice for you is “be prepared when the need for long term care does arise in your future”.

And here’s the statistics.

https://instagram.com/p/BSVI-X4Fimr/

Let’s see what options are available.

Medicare covers only a portion of long-term care costs up to 100 days; 20 days are provided at no cost and the remaining 80 are at a significant co-pay for the insured.

Long-term disability covers your lost income only, but doesn't pay for any LTC needs. Oftentimes, when your job ends, so does your coverage.

Health insurance does not cover long-term care expenses. Medigap policies are health insurance and also do not cover LTC expenses.

Medicaid covers long-term care expenses for individuals with countable assets of $2,000 or less and care could be limited to a nursing home. You can no longer just transfer all your properties to your children to be qualified for Medicaid. They look at your assets in the past 5 years. If you sold a house in the last 5 years, they want you to spend down all that proceed until you’re poor enough to qualify.

If you don’t want to spend down all your asset to qualify for long term care…can you afford to pay out of pocket?

Is this a good option for you?

You can always pay for long term care out of pocket. But how deep is your pocket? Do you have the assets to pay for long-term care, and how long can that asset support your long-term care?

Rising Long Term Care Cost

Can your family members take care of you when you can’t take care of yourself?

Even the most responsible family may not be prepared physically, emotionally or financially to care for their loved one. 53% of Americans caring for a loved one lost income due to the demands of providing that care.

Hidden Costs of Long Term Care

Long-term care insurance provides funding to cover home healthcare, assisted living, nursing home and even family member who takes care of you.

Long term care insurance premium are a lot more affordable than long term care. Besides, stand-alone long term care insurance policy, many life insurance policies offer long-term care insurance as a rider at very affordable rate.

So, can you afford NOT to have long term care insurance?

Stop Foreclosure Now Before It’s Too Late…

Stop Foreclosure Now

Foreclosure is a stressful and unpleasant experience, not to mention the impact it has on your credit score, your ability to obtain a mortgage and it may even affect your employment for the years to come. No one wants to have to go through the foreclosure process.

But life happens…job loss, divorce, unforeseen illness/disability, death in family, underemployed, business loss, etc.

No matter the situation that brought you to defaulting on your mortgage payment and facing potential foreclosure, we have the solution for you.

Related article: Protect Your Home with Life Insurance

The most important thing to remember is that you always have options.

We’ll help you understand your situation and what options are available and best for you.

What options are available to avoid or stop a foreclosure?

Option #1: Selling Your Home Quickly

This is the simplest option of all if you don’t own more than the home is worth. You can easily sell your home in the conventional way with a real estate agent, listing on the MLS.

Or you can sell your home to us without any agent’s commission, as we’re not real estate agent. We’ll buy your home in “as in” condition.

You’ll get your money quickly as this would be a cash transaction. A traditional home buyer with bank loan would need a minimum of 30 days to close on the transaction.

Option #2: Short Sale

A short sale is similar to option #1, except you owe more than your home is worth. For example, your mortgage balance is $500,000, but your home is now worth only $350,000.

This option is not as easy as the first because when you took out the mortgage initially the bank created a lien on your property.
You’ll need to get the bank’s approval to sell your home for less than what you owe because the bank is losing money.

Many banks would agree to such option because the short sale is a lot easier and less expensive than a full on judiciary foreclosure.

Related article: What is a Short Sale?

Option #3: Loan Modification

If your goal is to stay in your home, a loan modification is what you need. A loan modification can help you work with your bank to modify the loan term to help you stay in your home.

Check out MakingHomeAffordable.gov. Hurry, programs expiring December 31, 2016.

See…you still have three options to stop foreclosure.

Don’t delay…contact us now or fill out the form above.

I am a real estate investor and can buy your home in "as-is" condition as an investor (not as a real estate agent).

Therefore, you pay no commission or service fees to me at all.

What is a Home Equity Line of Credit or HELOC?

What is home equity line of credit or HELOC?

If you have used a credit card, you'll easily understand the concept of the home equity line of credit or HELOC. In simple term, a HELOC is a revolving credit, like the credit limit with your credit card. The difference is that a HELOC uses your home's equity as a collateral. Basically, it's a credit card secured with your home's equity.

And what is home equity?

Home equity is the difference between what your home market value and the total home mortgage you owed. For example, your home is now worth $1 million, and you have a home mortgage of $300,000. So in this case, your home equity is $700,000.

Most banks do not let you borrow 100% of your home market value. The most I've seen are 90% and 95%.

How much home equity line of credit can you qualify for?

The qualification is very similar to qualifying for a home loan. You still have to show proof of income, good credit score, appraisal, etc. The general rule to figure out how much you qualify for is 80% of your home equity.

We'll use the same example we used earlier. So your home is worth $1 million in the current market. 80% of that $1 million is $800,000. We then subtract your current outstanding mortgage of $300,000. Therefore, you qualify for up to $500,000 in HELOC, given you meet income and credit score requirements.

What Can You Use a HELOC for?

You’ve probably hear many times radio or TV advertising HELOC to finance your dream vacation, wedding, dream car, dream wedding, etc.

You should see me roll my eyes when these advertising show up…these are the worst way use the money.

First of all, when you borrow money to buy things that do not return money, that’s bad debts. You’re digging a hole for yourself.

A better use of the HELOC is to pay of your bad debts, such as high interest credit card balance, car loans, college loans, etc.

Even though the bank generally does not want you to use the money for real estate investing (because they think any investing is risky), but that’s the way to go.

I purchased my first rental property with a HELOC from my primary residence. And my rental property is making money for me while I’m sleeping, and the equity is of course growing every day like a healthy child.

Some banks may allow you to refinance your existing home mortgage into a HELOC. This is a rare strategy that not many people know of.

You can technically use the HELOC to pay off your mortgage in 5-7 years . I’m serious, no kidding…

Many local banks and federal credit unions offer very enticing introductory rates.

American Savings Bank offers 1% APR first year and 2% APR second year.

Bank of Hawaii offers 1.75% APR for the first 24 months or 2.75% APR for the first 36 months.

Central Pacific Bank offers 1% APR for 1 year OR 1.75% APR for 2 years OR 2.75% for 3 years.

Hawaii State Federal Credit Union offers 0.99% APR for first year OR 1.99% APR for 2 years OR 2.99% APR for 3 years OR 3.99% APR for 4 years OR 4.99% APR for 5 years.

Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union offers 0.75% APR for 1 year OR 1.75% APR for 2 years OR 4.25% APR for 3 years.

HELOC vs HELoan

9th Annual Wahine Forum October 27, 2016

Don’t miss out on Hawaii’s largest leadership development conference for women, presented by Hawaii Business magazine and The Queen’s Health Systems.

Join over 800 professional women for this year’s inspiring line-up of topics and speakers at the 9th Annual Wahine Forum, on October 27, 2016 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballrooms.

Global Keynote Speaker

Jane Miller
*COO and Executive VP of The Gallup Organization
*Author of world poll study "Women, the Workplace, and 'A Life Well Lived'"
*Keynote speaker at the 2015 Global Women’s Leadership Initiative

Special Performance by

Kimie Miner
*Na Hoku Hanohano Award winner
*Accompanied by the La Pietra School Choir

Featured Workshops

Finance for your Future

New Way to Lead

Enhance Your Digital Reputation

Think Globally, Act Locally

Advanced Negotiation

Build a Legacy

Being the Best

Work-Life Integration

Creating Change

2016 Speakers

Judy Bishop - Owner, President, Bishop & Company, Inc.

Coralie Chun Matayoshi - CEO, American Red Cross

Jodie Duvall, CFP - VP & Sr. Wealth Advisor, First Hawaiian Bank

Brooke Dominy - Director Wholesale and Corporate Business, Honolulu Cookie Company

Susan Eichor - President & COO, aio Group

Elisia Flores - CFO, L&L Hawaiian Barbeque

Kim Gennaula - Executive Director of Advancement, Iolani School

Phyllis C. Horner, PhD - Vice President, Executive Development, Servco Pacific Inc.

Kathy Inouye - Chief Operating Officer, Kobayashi Group, LLC

Meli James - Head of New Ventures, Sultan Ventures

Kat Lin-Hurtubise - Chief Festivities Officer, Gourmet Events Hawaii & Staffing by GEH

Laura Lucas - Managing Partner, Carlsmith Ball

Robbie Melton - Executive Director & CEO, High Technology Development Corp.

Ani Menon - Senior Associate, Advisory, KPMG

Sherry Menor-McNamara - President & Chief Executive Officer, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii

Linda Miki - Principal, Vice Chairman, Group 70 International

Unyong Nakata - Senior Director of Development, Shidler College of Business at UH Manoa

Polly Nelson - Managing Director, DFS Hawaii

Barbra Pleadwell - Partner, Hastings & Pleadwell: A Communication Co.

Lisa Y.T. Rapp - Principal, Architects Hawaii Ltd.

Mahealani Richardson - Director of Marketing and Communications, Shriners Hospital for Children - Honolulu

Crystal Rose - Creative Business Litigation, Bays Lung Rose Attorneys at Law

Monica Salter - Vice President, Corporate Communications, Outrigger Enterprises Group

Emily Santiago - EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer, UHA Health Insurance

Stevette Santiago - Chief Administrative Officer, Y. Hata & Co., Ltd.

Yancey Unequivocally - President, Empowered Presentations

Nicole Velasco - Executive Director, Office of Economic Development, City & County of Honolulu

Rosanna Vierra - Account Director, iQ360

Leslie Wilcox - President and CEP, PBS Hawaii

Cheryl Williams - General Manager, The Royal Hawaiian A Luxury Collection Resort, Waikiki

Shelley Wilson - President & CEO, Wilson Care Group

Alison Zecha - President, Alison Zecha, Inc. Coach AZ

All attendees also have an exclusive chance to win two roundtrip tickets, courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

For more information, visit:
www.hawaiibusiness.com/wahine16

For Sale by Owner Makes Perfect Sense

Where Buyers Find their Homes

Did you know you do not need a real estate agent or broker in a real estate transaction?

If you think about it, buying and selling real estate property is like buying and selling a car, you can do it yourself.

Real estate agents and brokers are just car sales men in the real estate. They just want to make money from you.

For sale by owner makes sense and saves you lots of money.

And here’s how.

The median single family homes in Hawaii is $750,000. The average commission for a real estate transaction with a real estate agent or broker is 6%. You’re paying $45,000 for a random joe to sell your home. If your home is worth a million (which is majority of the homes in Honolulu), you’re paying this random joe $60,000 to push papers for you.

How about you save the $60,000 and hire an attorney, who can draft your purchase contract and give you legal advise about your estate planning and tax at the same time.

People are afraid of lawyers because they think they cost too much, which is true. They do charge a lot for good reasons, they have your ass cover when the time comes.

My attorney charges $400 an hour. The $60,000 commission you pay for your real estate agent, who does not provide any legal advice because they don’t know anything, will buy you 150 hours of attorney time.

My attorney went to 4-year undergrad, 2-year law school and passed his BAR exam, and is entitled to charge $400 an hour for legal fee, which is consider expensive.

A real estate agent (may or may not have a college degree) went to real estate agent prelicensing course for 60 hours and passed the real estate salesperson license test.

Say your real estate agent spends 50 hours for your listing…I don’t know, they may do 1 or 2 open house (4 hours each), writing listing description, etc, etc. Let’s say 50 hours, that’s $1,200 an hour.

Seriously?!

Unless you make more than $1,200 an hour, I would do it myself.

Did you know how easy it is to sell your home on your own. The hardest part is marketing.

Read “How to Market Your Real Estate Property?”

Chances are if you’ll need your attorney to draft the purchase contract and go over your trust and estate planning stuff, you’ll probably needs a few hours of your attorney’s time, which probably would cost you a few thousand.

Even if you use a lot of your attorney’s time chit-chatting, say 50 hours, you’ll still come out only $20,000 on attorney fees.

Remember, the commission you pay your broker or real estate agent is just one of the closing cost. You still have more to worry about when you close.

If you used a real estate agent or broker, his/her only tasks are writing you listing description, list in MLS, find a new agent to do open house for them, answer calls from other agents about showing. Most of the time, it’s the buyer’s agent who show up to showing, so your agent just sits pretty in the office waiting for an offer to come through, and get you to say “yes” to the first offer that come through, so he/she can close and pocket the commission.

Once you have an agreement with the buyer, signed the contract and start escrow. There’s not much left to do - schedule home inspection, and just wait.

Real estate agent or brokers are not allow to give any legal advice. The standard Hawaii realtor’s Purchase Contract specifically provides that your real estate agent is not providing you with legal advice, and you should seek legal counsel. So, you are might as well hire an attorney from the beginning.

You know what’s worst?

Of course in Hawaii, everyone knows a friend or a relative who is a real estate agent. Hiring a Hawaii realtor is especially inefficient when the sale is between family members, and both sides are using a family friend to be the dual agency broker. That “family friend or relative” may receive a six percent (6%) commission for processing paperwork, even though as a dual agent they have probably utilized the standard “Dual Agency” disclosure which provides that he/she cannot really take sides. So who does he/she work for?

They can't give legal advise, and they can't take sides. So why are you pay this person?

Related article: Real Estate Agent…Absurd?

Anyway, if you decide to sell your real estate property on your own and put up a for sale by owner sign in your front yard, the process is really simple.

Advertise your real estate property like you would selling your car. Seriously, do you hire someone to sell your car?

Write a very descriptive ads from your property.

Show your property to potential buyers. You can do a open house event or private showing.

When you have a potential buyer, contact your real estate attorney to have him/her draft your real estate purchase contract.

Have both parties signed.

You’ll contact an escrow company to open escrow. Actually, the buyer opens escrow. When I purchase my last real estate property, I went to Downtown to the escrow company myself. My agent did nothing.

Your buyer should contact a home inspector for home inspection. This is a buyer’s expense. It’s up to the buyer to have an home inspection.

If you’re a condo owner, you’ll contact your property manager to have condo doc send over to your buyer.

The escrow and title company will make sure the transaction goes smoothly and both parties get what they agreed upon.

The other advantage of selling the real estate property on your own is that you know the property best. You get to meet the buyer directly, interact and negotiate with them directly without a third or fourth person involved.

According to the National Board of REaltors, 44% of buyers find their homes online (not from an agent).

Related article: Simple Home Selling Tips to Sell Your Home FAST.

There are many available sites to market your real estate property for sale. Here’s are a few that I use. If you type in “for sale by owner” in Google, more sites would show up.

Craigslist

Owners.com allows your listing to be posted in your local MLS.

ForSaleByOwner.com

For Sale By Owner on Zillow

Don’t forget social media. Share your postings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, wherever your people hang out.

Having hard time selling your real estate property? Let us help

Related article: Sell Your Home Fast

Sell Your Home as Rent-to-Own

Rent-to-own homes

Rent-to-own, also known as lease option, is an investing strategy that can be benefit both home buyers and home sellers.
For home sellers, rent-to-own may be the perfect solution to ensure you get top dollar for your home in a buyer’s market. It may even generates some extra income for the seller before the actual sale of the home. The rent-to-own strategy also increases the number of potential buyers for your home to include those who do not qualify for the conventional mortgage from banks.
In a rent-to-own or lease option, the homeowner rents his/her property to a potential buyer (lessee) with the exclusive right to purchase the home within a certain time period, usually 3 years or longer. The homeowner cannot legally sell the property to anyone else during the period defined by the lease option. The homeowner and lessee would negotiate in the beginning of the lease the term of the lease to include the purchase price, option or earnest money, monthly payment in addition to the rent.

Decide if a rent-to-own is for you. Rent-to-own isn't for everybody. If you need all the money from the sale of your home right away, you're better off with a straight sale. In addition, the majority of rent-to-own aren't exercised, so you may have to begin the process of selling your home all over again after the lease terminates.

You might also have to consider if you want to, or aren't able to, keep up with the responsibilities of continuing to own the home. In the a rent-to-own scenario, the homeowner must continue to pay property taxes and insurance and is generally still responsible for major repairs during the lease period.

Do a background and credit check on the applicants. At this point, you have to look at potential buyers as potential tenants, and you don't want to do a rent-to-own with somebody who you wouldn't rent to. Look for someone with good references, a steady source of income, and the ability to pay the rent plus, if applicable, the additional monthly option money.

As far as the applicant's credit history, you probably don't want someone with serious credit trouble, but at the same time you may want to be somewhat lenient. Many buyers who choose rent-to-own do so because they have some blemishes on their credit and want to improve their profile before applying for a loan.

Pre-qualify your lessee. It's a good idea to contact a loan officer or mortgage broker to at least discuss the potential buyer's prospects for obtaining a mortgage at the end of the lease term. There is more uncertainty (and, hopefully, more chance of improvement) the longer the lease term, but both you and the potential buyer can get a realistic idea of whether they'll be able to buy the house.

This step is essential if it's important to you to sell the house at the end of the lease. But ethically, and perhaps legally, it's important regardless of your preference because if you take option money and above-market rent from a tenant who can't possibly buy the house at the end of the lease, you're just ripping the tenant off.

Provide the potential buyer with a seller's disclosure form. The disclosure form lists any known problems with the house. You attest, to the best of your knowledge, to the condition of the house. This form is standard for other purchase transactions but is sometimes left out in a rent-to-own. Make sure you give the buyer this form to help him or her make an informed decision and to protect the integrity of the contract and sale. The buyer should also have an independent home inspection done.

Prepare a lease agreement with option to buy and collect option money. You can get fill-in-the-blank rent-to-own forms online, but you're better off getting them from a local real estate agent or attorney. The contract is sometimes added as an addendum to a standard sales contract. Unless you really know what you're doing, get help with the details of the contract from a real estate attorney, not a or broker.

The most important thing to remember is that you've got to cover not just the money issues but also who is responsible for what types of repairs and other complications that are bound to come up.

◦ Agree on the purchase price of the home, which should be fixed on the lease contract. You'll be obligated to sell at this price, so you want to make sure it's something you can live with. Ideally, the agreed-upon price should be at least at fair market value and maybe slightly more (especially for lease terms of 1 year or more) to compensate for the convenience to the buyer and for the likely appreciation of the property over the term. You and/or the buyer may want to pay for an appraisal to validate the price. Banks and other lenders will only loan against the appraised value, regardless of the price that you agreed on with the buyer.

◦ Determine how much option money to collect. Some states and municipalities have laws specifying a maximum amount of option money that can be taken, but in general the initial option money or option fee can be almost any amount. A typical figure is 2-4% of the purchase price. You will keep this money no matter what. If the lessee decides to buy, the money will be credited toward the down payment or the purchase price, and if the lessee doesn't buy, he or she forfeits the option money to you. Keep in mind that many buyers choose lease options because they can't come up with a big down payment, so don't expect to be able to get a huge amount of initial option money.

◦ Decide how much of the lessee's monthly payment will be credited toward the option. Anywhere from 0-100% of the monthly payments can be credited toward the purchase price, although the amount is sometimes subject to state or local laws. In general, the monthly payment will be calculated at fair rental value plus a set amount that will go toward the purchase price. This, like the initial option money, will either be credited toward the down payment or the purchase price or, if the tenant doesn't buy, will be forfeited to you.

◦ Decide on the term of the lease. Lease options typically run anywhere from 6-24 months. Less than six months usually doesn't make sense for the buyer, and more than 2 years (sometimes more than 1 year) may cause tax or legal complications. Shorter lease terms generally result in sales more than longer terms, simply because there are so many variables over the long term, but the length of the lease should be adequate to ensure that the lessee has time to get his or her financial ducks in a row. Keep in mind that if housing prices appreciate quickly, you may be getting a bad deal on a long lease, since you're obligated to sell at the agreed-upon price. If housing prices decline, however, you may be getting a good deal, but if they've declined significantly, the lessee is unlikely to buy the house. You still get to keep the option money, however.

Get the right home insurance coverage. Since you will no longer be the owner-occupant of the house, you may need to update your homeowners insurance policy to a dwelling policy. Check with your insurance agent to determine what policy is necessary and what coverage you need. Your tenant should also be insured to cover his or her liability and, depending on your state, any gaps in your coverage that may result from the lease option.

Collect monthly payments. Now, all you need to do is collect the payments each month. Keep track of the payments received so you'll have a record when the time comes for the lessee to exercise the option (or, in the the worst-case scenario, when you have to go to court to settle a dispute).

Sell the home. At the end of the lease term, the lessee can exercise the option to purchase your home for the price specified on or before the date specified. The total option money paid (including the initial option money plus any credit from the monthly payments) will go toward the down payment. Thus, the buyer already has equity in the home and should find it easier to qualify for a mortgage.

Read Buy Your Perfect Home with Rent-to-Own.

What is Short Sale?

What is a short sale?

A short sale in real estate is a voluntary process that happens when the bank or lender allows the homeowner to sell the property for less than what is owed on the mortgage loan. The homeowner closes on the real estate property and the property is “sold short”. This can happen prior to the property entering the foreclosure process. The homeowner receives nothing from the sale.

With both a short sale or foreclosure, the homeowner ultimately loses his/or home. A short sale may allow you to avoid foreclosure and walk away with less damage to your credit score.  While a short sale will not show up on the homeowner’s credit report, the mortgage status will. For those in default, it’s a pre-foreclosure that has been redeemed, which is often reported as “Paid in Full for Less Than Agreed. A short sale, however, does not release the homeowner from the remaining loans, such as second or third mortgages, if any.

One benefit to a successful short sale is that some homeowners are now eligible to obtain a new mortgage loan for the purchase of a replacement house.  That is not possible with a foreclosure, which has a typical wait period of a minimum of 3 to 7 years.

Common Reasons That Result in Short Sale

• The home was refinanced at 100% (or greater) than its present fair market value.
• The home requires too many costly repairs to sell, and the market won't support a sufficient price.
• The home was financed with an interest-only loan, and homeowner is now unable to refinance.
• The home is located in a neighborhood or area with distressed economic conditions.
• The home was purchased at the top of the real estate cycle, and a substantial drop in value has occurred.

Read Short Sale vs Foreclosure.

Why Would a Mortgage Lender Agree to a Short Sale?

A short sale is typically faster and less expensive than a foreclosure. Many mortgage lenders would agree to participate in a short sale because the lender will incur a smaller financial loss compared to a foreclosure or continued non-payment.

How To Qualify For a Short Sale and (possibly) Avoid Foreclosure

A Short Sale may seem like an easy way out of a likely foreclosure, but not every homeowner qualifies for it. Even if they do qualify, the homeowner has to find a buyer, preferably a cash buyer, and the bank has to accept the offer.

A homeowner must meet the following requirements in order for the short sale to be considered:

A hardship letter. The seller must explain why he/she cannot keep up with making payments. The sadder the story, the better. A seller who is simply tired of struggling probably won't be approved, but a seller with cancer, no job and an empty bank account may. The most common acceptable reasons are divorce, bankruptcy, loss of job or some kind of emergency.

Proof of income and assets. It is in the best interest of the lender to recover funds from the home owner. If the lender discovers that the home owner has other assets, including retirement funds, they may prefer to liquidate these assets for payment on the mortgage, and denies the short sale. The proof of income and assets must include income tax and bank statements, going back at least two years. Sometimes sellers are unwilling to produce these documents because they conflict with information on the original loan application, which may have been fudged. If that's the case, this deal is unlikely to close.

Comparative market analysis. This document shows that the value of the property has declined, which essentially means the home owner has no equity in the property, and it won't sell anytime soon for the amount owed. The comparative market analysis should include a list of comparable properties on the market and a list of properties that have sold in the past six months or have been on the market in that time frame and are about to close. This analysis is very similar to the Broker Price Opinion, which is less formal but often more informative than a property appraisal. The prices should support the seller's contention that the property is worth no more than the short-sale price.

A list of liens. The home owner must be at least 3 months behind on the mortgage and has been served a lis pendens from the court indicating that the lender intends to foreclose on the property if they do not receive payment in the near future. There may be more than one lender or liens on the property, and all lien holders have to agree to take less -- or possibly no money at all.

A qualified buyer. A short sale is dependent on a quailed buyer making an offer to purchase. If an offer is not received, it will not qualify for shot sale. Even if tall the other criteria are met, it is possible that no one will buy the short sale. It is also dependent on the lender accepting the buyer’s offer. If the lender rejects the offer, a short sale will not take place.

* Since late 2008, the IRS has been releasing the federal tax lien. The IRS is not forgiving the back taxes that homeowners owe. It no longer requires the tax lien to be paid off before the property can be sold. This is making the short sale process a bit easier with one less lien to deal with.

Tax Consequence of a Short Sale

If the mortgage lender agrees to a short sale, the lender have rights to issue the homeowner an IRS-1099 for the shorted difference, due to a provision in the IRS code regarding debt forgiveness.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their primary residence. The debt must be secured by a principal residence and the total amount of the outstanding obligation may not exceed the original mortgage amount plus the cost of any improvements. Debt up to $2 million may be forgiven tax-free.

If a borrower, who is still living in the home, is able to make an arrangement with a lender that reduces the principal balance of a mortgage, the amount forgiven will not be taxed.

Read Hawaii Foreclosure 101.

Short Sale Process for Homeowners