Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Keep your eye on the right ball...

What are the risks of Waiting to Buy Your First Time Home or Move up Home?...Excess home inventories are expected to level and begin shrinking as New Construction has contracted dramatically. Home prices are stabilizing. The risk in waiting to see if home prices go down any further can dramatically be offset if at the same time Mortgage Rates increase. Say you are considering a purchase of a $150,000 home. A 1% increase in Mortgage Rates from say 6% to 7% will cause your monthly mortgage payment to increase by $100 a month or $1,200 a year which is $36,000 more in payments over the life of the 30 year mortgage. Also, consider the larger price break Move Up buyers get when they reap the benefits of a larger dollar discount on the more expensive home they buy than the lower priced home they intend to sell. Speak to a professional to get all the details for yourself.

Local Real Estate is weathering the crisis remarkably well...

Home prices locally did not rocket up like the southeast coast or the west coast. Rather, the Midwest typically shows remarkable stability in good times and not so good. You are getting this newsletter because you have been a strong supporter of both Real Estate and the process of building my successful Real Estate practice. I could use your help! If you know someone who is considering Buying or Selling, please call me or send me an email with the details. In these delicate times it is critical they get the finest of care and direction. Your efforts are greatly appreciated. Even though the market has been strained, folks are still marrying, children are being born, job transfers happen, immigration continues, retirements and downsizing is inevitable, divorces and deaths are unavoidable. The fundamentals of Real Estate remain. Again, I thank you for your referral, they will be handled with the utmost care.

Local Real Estate. Crashing or Window of Opportunity?...

This 25 minute presentation captures a 44 year macro look at where to get your accurate Real Estate advice, how Real Estate has performed through historical crisis, historical impact of Mortgage Rates, What drives Real Estate prices and Tips on what to do NOW in our local market place. Call me to get access to this presentation that is lighting up the local Real Estate marketplace
View a few segments of the presentation on YouTube...

Monday, December 1, 2008

More great news for first time Home Buyers!!

Interest rates are great, real estate is selling at a discount …. which all adds up to a great time to buy a home!! And for first time homebuyers; the news just keeps getting better and better thanks to MHDC.

The Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) releases money to first time homebuyers throughout the year and in the past this money has been non-taxable. But,in their most recent bond-issue, the monies they provide to first time homebuyers are taxable!

At first thought, most people would think this is a bad thing; as the borrower has to pay taxes on the 3% down payment money they receive, but until July 1, 2009 this is actually a great thing.

Because this down payment money is considered taxable; the borrower will now also qualify for the $7,500 Housing Tax Credit provided by the Federal Government.

So for example; let’s assume we have a first time homebuyer who qualifies for the MHDC down payment assistance program and they purchase a $150,000 house prior to July 1, 2009.

MHDC would provide them with 3% or $4,500 towards their down payment, which until the end of this year is all you need for a down payment on an FHA loan. Then when our borrower does their taxes; they will receive an additional $7,500 from the federal government.

There are many rules associated with MHDC and the Housing Tax Credit and in addition it is not free money, but it is a great opportunity for those first time homebuyers.

Please contact me for more information on these wonderful opportunities!!

30 Year Fixed 5.75% with 0 points
MHDC (CAL) FHA 30 Year Fixed 7.15 with 0 points
FHA 30 Year Fixed 5.5% with 0 points

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Business Week Magazine Lists Best Places for Kids

BusinessWeek magazine revealed its list of best places in each state to raise your kids. In Missouri, Lee's Summit won for its good schools, low crime and affordable housing. Lee's Summit was followed by St. Charles and St. Joseph.

The Truth About Home Loans

There are a lot of myths in the media right now regarding home loans; I’m here to set the record straight!

· You’re told you can’t get a loan, there’s no money to loan, money is tight……The truth is lenders are making home loans every day!

· You’re told mortgage rates are high…….The facts are, mortgage rates are at, or near historic lows and have been for some time!

· You’re told getting a home loan is difficult……The facts are home loans are available and it’s not a difficult process!

· You’re told you must have perfect credit…….The facts are there are many financing options for individuals with not-so-perfect credit histories!

· You’re told that you have to put 20% down………The facts are there are many financing options that only require down payments as low as 3%! And if you are a veteran, first-time homebuyer or buying in St. Louis, St. Charles, Lincoln or Warren County; then you don’t need a down payment at all!!

The bottom line is that it is the perfect time to buy a home! Rates are low, home prices have dropped and most importantly, home loans are readily available!

30 Year Fixed 6.75% with 0 points
MHDC (CAP) FHA 30 Year Fixed 6.700 with 0 points
MHDC (non-cap) FHA 30 Year Fixed 6.25% with 0 points

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Little Guppy Trivia Night - Saturday Nov. 8th


  • Saturday, November 8, 2008
  • American Legion Hall - 2500 Raymond Dr. St. Charles, MO
  • Door & Bar open @ 6:30p.m.
  • Trivia starts at 7:15 p.m.
  • $20 per person / $160 per table of 8
  • Beer and Soda provided, Cash bar available
  • Cash prize for 1st Place
  • Table Decorating Contest
  • 50/50 Raffle
  • Raffle Items & Silent Auction
  • Mulligans
  • Outside Food Welcome
Call RENEE KNOBBE with any questions @ 636-699-2412

Monday, November 3, 2008

Spotlight on Authority Appraisal Services, LLC

Q: What is your name?

A: Zack Rhodes

Q: What is the Name of your Business?
A: Authority Appraisal Services, LLC

Q: Where is your business located?
A: 200 N. Main Street, St. Charles, MO 63301

Q: Do you have a website address?
A: www.authorityappraisals.com

Q: Briefly describe what you or your business does?
A: Residential & Commercial Real Estate Appraisal Services

Q: How many years have you been in business?
A: 5 years

Q: Do you have a burning desire?
A: To travel the world for a year!

Q: What’s something not many people know about you?
A: Not much

Q: How can someone contact you to learn more?
A: (314) 571-4038 or zrhodes@authorityappraisals.com

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Best Cities to Retire on a Budget

With nest eggs under attack by the declining economy, Forbes magazine ranked the best large metropolitan area to retire on a budget.

Forbes considered housing affordability, inflationary pressures, and job prospects for the 20 percent of those older than 65 who are still employed. Also, the magazine considered: physicians per capita and the number of people in the area who rely on Medicare.

The magazine's top 10 choices were:

  1. Columbus, Ohio
  2. Dallas
  3. Minneapolis
  4. Houston
  5. Salt Lake City
  6. Indianapolis
  7. Denver
  8. St. Louis, Mo.
  9. Atlanta
  10. Nashville

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Forum Invite: Local Real Estate Crashing... Or Window of Opportunity

A Real Estate Forum entitled “St. Charles Real Estate…Crashing or Window of Opportunity?” moderated by local lending expert Robert Rutledge and Real Estate Broker Merle Schneider, Chartered Financial Consultant will be presented Monday, October 27th at 7pm. The Forum is slated to be held at the St. Peters City Hall, Salon A, One St. Peters Centre. The Presentation will provide insight into today’s marketplace by highlighting historical aspects of real estate in contrast to current conditions and is orchestrated to give current property owners, prospective buyers and sellers answers to an assortment of issues now being faced by us all.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Best Place to Live

Exactly what is happening in your neighborhood and your county? With the
Grant Hickman Team Market SnapShot, you can know exactly what is happening
in your neighborhood. And, according to MLS, St. Charles County dipped by
just 103 fewer homes sold this year than in 2007 in September. In contrast,
more homes were sold in the cities of O'Fallon and Wentzville this year in
September than last year during the same time.

In fact St. Peters, St. Charles, and O'Fallon, Missouri were all chosen by
Money Magazine's Best Places to Live 2008. O'Fallon was also chosen as one
of Relocate-America's Top 100 Places to Live in 2008.

Help from Washington DC

In September, the House of Representatives and Senate created a rescue plan
for homeowners and buyers. In October the House and Senate passed a bailout
plan for the economy. With all of this "help" from Washington D.C. you might
begin to wonder how it is helping you.

Most recently, Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 has been
grabbing headlines. In a letter to members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF
REALTORS, NAR President Dick Gaylord was quick to share "A failure to act,"
he said, "would have pushed consumers into more dire circumstances."

"The market should regain some confidence, and since markets are built
mainly on confidence, that's no small thing," says Gary Keller, head of
national residential real estate franchiser Keller Williams in Austin,
Texas. "In fact it's a huge thing and it's imperative for the market to move
forward. But beyond that, we have to wait and see."

Real estate experts say the bill will give the market a much-needed boost,
but that substantial recovery of credit markets will probably take time. The
Grant Hickman Team, your local real estate experts, have outlined how
Washington D.C. is impacting you. Read the tip below to see how the
St. Charles County market was in September.

Throughout September, The Grant Hickman Team featured some of the benefits
and impacts homeowners will face with the American Housing Rescue and
Foreclosure Prevention Act. Current homeowners should call us now ((314)
265-1531) to know what actions you should take in this market. Some changes
go into effect as early as January 1, 2009!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

MORTGAGE NEWS – 100% financing still available!!!!

Last month I told you about the free down payment money available to first time homebuyers from the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC). Well now you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify for this money!!

The recently-enacted “Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008” includes a provision that expands MHDC’s authority to fund mortgages in counties that have received a presidential disaster declaration. This includes St. Charles, St. Louis, Franklin, Lincoln and Jefferson County along with 44 other counties in the State of Missouri.

This expanded authority enables MHDC to fund loans for repeat homebuyers in addition to first time homebuyers and also increases the program’s household income and purchase price limits. Homebuyers earning up to $79,800 depending on household size can now use the program. The law also increases the amount of tax-exempt bonding authority available for housing.

Combining this down payment money along with seller paid closing costs essentially will provide home buyers with not only 100% financing, but the opportunity to get into a new home with out any money out of pocket.

For more information on the recent changes with MHDC or any other financing; please contact me via phone or email.

30 Year Fixed 6.25% with 0 points
MHDC (CAP) FHA 30 Year Fixed 6.700 with 0 points
MHDC (non-cap) FHA 30 Year Fixed 6.25% with 0 points

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Around St. Charles County

  • Saturdays and Sundays Maize Quest at Boschert Family Farm, 5118 Blase Station Rd., 10am - 6pm ADMISSION
  • October 4: August Bottoms Beer Festival, Augusta Winery, 12-5pm.
  • October 4: National Fire Safety Event, Home Depot at MidRivers, 9am - 12 pm, FREE
  • October 11: Great Pumpkin Event Craft for kids 5-12, Michaels 10am - 3 pm, $5
  • October 11: O’Fallon Fall Festival, Civic Park O’Fallon, 9am - 4pm, FREE
  • October 18: Life is Good Festival, Frontier Park St. Charles, FREE
  • October 25: Campfire Storytelling Fetival, Defiance at Daniel Boone’s Home, 5:30 pm - 10 pm, Admission
  • Mondays: All You Can Eat Pasta, Rich and Charlie’s, 5 - 10 pm

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Taylor Lorimier Classic Golf Benefit Tournament

The Grant Hickman Team grabbed our clubs to participate in the Taylor Lorimier Classic Golf Benefit Tournament Saturday, September 6, 2008.

Friends of the Lorimier Family and Mid Rivers Golf Course hosted the benefit golf tournament in honor of Taylor Lorimier, a 10 year-old girl from Florissant diagnosed with Leukemia in 2004. Taylor finished her treatment in May of 2007. While the Lorimier family is doing well despite the medical and financial obligations for a cancer of this type, they continue hosting the golf tournament to help other children in need by donating the annual tournament proceeds to organizations who help families in similar predicaments.

The golf tournament was an excellent opportunity to raise the awareness of Leukemia and its effects on our youth and, at the same time, help families in need. This year’s tournament raised more than $4,500.

Pictured from Left to Right: Golfers Chad Blatz, Ryan Bowles, Grant Hickman, Cary Knobbe with Taylor Lorimier and friend.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It is time to start looking!

Right now is the time to start looking around your neighborhood. The Grant Hickman Team brings you up-to-the minute access housing market and trends in your neighborhood.

Use the MLS Market SnapShot form to enter information about your home. In less than 30 minutes, we will send you a personalized report to your email address. Learn how fast homes in your neighborhood are selling right now! Explore actual selling prices compared to listing prices. See how many houses in the neighborhood are unsold.

The professionals in the Grant Hickman Team interpret a number of local market trends and relate them to your personal plans. The MLS Market SnapShot is another Real Service we are excited to share with you.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Housing rules change for EVERYONE

The recently passed H.R. 3221, American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 is aimed to improve the housing industry, and mainly reward first time home ownership.

The Grant Hickman Team has studied the changes in law and is ready to assist all buyers and sellers. Multiple home owners, veterans, and first time buyers should call The Grant Hickman Team to learn how the new law directly affects you. Below are a few of the changes.

The First Time Homebuyer Credit is more of a loan, with a zero-percent interest rate, to be repaid over 15 years. The credit allows first-time homebuyers of a principal residence in the United States to take a tax credit of 10 percent of the purchase price of the residence (not to exceed $7500).
• The credit will begin to phase out if single taxpayer’s income exceeds $75,000 per year or the couple’s income exceeds $150,000.
• The credit is to be paid back over 15 years and applies to residences purchased between April 9, 2008 and July 1, 2009.
• This is a refundable credit. That means, even if your total tax liability is zero, you can file to get this money directly from IRS.

Beware though; homeowners should know that if they sell the home in less than 15 years, the owner would have to repay the remainder of the credit immediately.

Other changes affect more than just first time homebuyers. H.R. 3221 will most likely affect every homeowner in one way or another. Some borrows may qualify to refinance into lower-cost government-insured mortgages. Veterans and current soldiers have more options and an increased VA Home Loan limit.

Other changes from the law include new standard deduction rules. Existing homeowners, who do not itemize, will be allowed an additional standard deduction for real property taxes, on both state and local property taxes paid (aprox. $500 or $1,000 for joint filers).

On January 1, 2009, vacation homes and rental properties will be considered “non-qualified” in new tax provisions. Owners of multiple homes should contact The Grant Hickman Team to learn about the new provisions, including capital gains taxation for non-excluded portions of the home.

Lastly, effective January 1, 2010, your credit and debit card payments to merchants will be reported to you and the IRS. The report will consist of your total annual gross payment card receipts. It is believed this change will correct income reports and raise more than $9.8 billion over ten-years, which will help supplement, other programs within H.R. 3221.

These are just an overview of some of the changes enacted by H.R. 3221. You need to call your area experts with The Grant Hickman Team, to learn how the H.R. 3221, American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 personally affect you.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Around St. Charles County

• September 6: Quilts on Main, Downtown St. Charles, 9am – 5pm. FREE
• September 6: Bluegrass Festival, Frontier Park St. Charles, 7pm – 10:30 pm. FREE
• September 19 – 21: MOSAICS Festival of the Arts, Downtown St. Charles. FREE
• September 20 – 21: Irish Fest, Frontier Park St. Charles, 10am - . FREE
• September 20 – 21: Pioneer Days, Daniel Boone’s Home Defiance, 9am – 5pm. Admission
• September 20: Harvest Festival, Augusta, 11am – 10 pm. FREE
• September 26 – 28: Oktoberfest, Frontier Park St. Charles. FREE
• September 27: The Blast (family fun), New Town St. Charles. FREE

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit, Limited Time Offer

How to help your friends and family?

Who is eligible to claim the $7,500 tax credit?
First-time home buyer (person who has not owned a home during the past 3 (three) years.

What are the Income Limits?
1. Home buyer who file as SINGLE or Head of Household and adjust gross income (AGI) is less than $75,000.
2. Married Couples filing joint return, income of $150,000.
3. Single or HOH income $75-95,000 can receive partial tax credit.
4. Married income $150-170,000 can receive partial tax credit.

What are the Effective Dates for Tax Credit?
To qualify for the tax credit, a home purchase must occur on or after April 9, 2008 and before July 1, 2009. For the purposes of the tax credit, the purchase date is the date when closing occurs.

Does the credit have to be paid back to the government?
Yes, the tax credit must be repaid. Home buyers will be required to repay the credit to the government, without interest, over 15 years or when they sell the house, if there is sufficient capital gain from the sale. For example, a home buyer claiming a $7,500 credit would repay the credit at $500 per year. The home owner does not have to begin making repayments on the credit until two years after the credit is claimed. So if the tax credit is claimed on the 2008 tax return, a $500 payment is not due until the 2010 tax return is filed. If the home owner sold the home, then the remaining credit amount would be due from the profit on the home sale. If there was insufficient profit, then the remaining credit payback would be forgiven.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MORTGAGE NEWS – Free down payment money available for 1st time homebuyers!

Effective Monday, August 04, 2008, the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) released $65 million as cash assistance for first-time home buyers.

MHDC will provide the first-time homebuyer with a 5 year interest free forgivable loan equal to 3% of the purchase price of the house they are buying. This money can be utilized for the necessary down payment (3%) for an FHA loan or My Community Loan. The proceeds can also be applied to closing costs, prepaids and escrows if the borrower already has the necessary down payment.

If the borrower does not need the cash assistance (CAL Program), then the borrower can opt instead for a guaranteed lower rate from MHDC (Non-CAL Program)

MHDC does have certain guidelines that have to be met including income, the type of home you are buying and the biggest one is that you have to be a first-time homebuyer. The law defines a first-time home buyer as a buyer who has not owned a home during the past 3 years.

This along with the Tax Credit passed in the housing bill last week (see Grant’s article above) are excellent incentives for those first-time home buyers to get out and buy a house.

Interest rates for the MHDC program are listed below.

For more information on this program, please call me or visit www.mhdc.com.

30 Year Fixed 6.625% with 0 points

MHDC (CAP) FHA 30 Year Fixed 6.900 with 0 points

MHDC (non-cap) FHA 30 Year Fixed 6.45% with 0 points

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I have come to realize that there is much confusion, when it comes to what CAN and CANNOT be used as an itemized deduction on the Annual Income Tax Return. I have included a list of just a few things to help get you started. It is always recommended that you consult your trusted tax adviser for a more detailed list of items to keep record of.


Interest Paid on Principle Amount of Mortgage
Real Estate Taxes Paid
Taxes Paid At Time of Closing (Be Sure To Keep Your Closing Papers/HUD Statement)
Delinquent Taxes Imposed on The Seller Which The Buyer Pays


Fire/Homeowners Insurance
Mortgage Insurance (P.M.I.)
Down Payment
Title Insurance
Monthly Utility Fees
Utility Service Deposits
Assoc./Condo Fees
Set Up/Doc. Fees

Items, Which Should Be Added To The Cost Basis Of Home:

Abstract Title Fees
Charges To Install Utility Services
Legal Fees (To Include Title Search; Prep. Of Sales Contract; Deed Fees; Recording Fees; Survey Fees; Transfer Tax Fees; Owner’s Title Insurance and any other fees the buyer agrees to pay for seller. i.e., Delinquent Taxes, repairs, etc.)

Premiere Business Services is dedicated to ensuring that you don’t have to pay more taxes then you owe. We are required to complete 52 continuing education credits through out the year to stay on top of all the tax law changes. With this knowledge on your side, accompanied with the Premiere Business Services Guarantee, your income tax return will be accurate year after year. Being a full service accounting firm, we are available all year to help plan income tax strategies for our clients. Please feel free to contact the Premiere Business Services offices with any questions or issues you may have.

Submitted by Matt Simpson, Premiere Business Services
(636) 970-0008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What First Time Homeowners need to know about the new Tax Credit
  1. Who is eligible to claim the $7,500 tax credit?
    First time home buyers purchasing any kind of home—new or resale—are eligible for the tax credit. To qualify for the tax credit, a home purchase must occur on or after April 9, 2008 and before July 1, 2009. For the purposes of the tax credit, the purchase date is the date when closing occurs.

  2. What is the definition of a first-time home buyer?
    The law defines "first-time home buyer" as a buyer who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. For married taxpayers, the law tests homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse. For example, if you have not owned a home in the past three years but your spouse has owned a principal residence, neither you nor your spouse qualifies for the first-time home buyer tax credit.

  3. What types of homes will qualify for the tax credit?
    Any home purchased by an eligible first-time home buyer will qualify for the credit, provided that the home will be used as a principal residence and the buyer has not owned a home in the previous three years. This includes single-family detached homes, attached homes like townhouses, and condominiums.

  4. Instead of buying a new home from a home builder, I have hired a contractor to construct a home on a lot that I already own. Do I still qualify for the tax credit?
    Yes. For the purposes of the home buyer tax credit, a principal residence that is constructed by the home owner is treated by the tax code as having been "purchased" on the date the owner first occupies the house. In this situation, the date of first occupancy must be on or after April 9, 2008 and before July 1, 2009.

    In contrast, for newly-constructed homes bought from a home builder, eligibility for the tax credit is determined by the settlement date.

  5. What is "modified adjusted gross income"?
    Modified adjusted gross income or MAGI is defined by the IRS. To find it, a taxpayer must first determine "adjusted gross income" or AGI. AGI is total income for a year minus certain deductions (known as "adjustments" or "above-the-line deductions"), but before itemized deductions from Schedule A or personal exemptions are subtracted. On Forms 1040 and 1040A, AGI is the last number on page 1 and first number on page 2 of the form. For Form 1040-EZ, AGI appears on line 4 (as of 2007). Note that AGI includes all forms of income including wages, salaries, interest income, dividends and capital gains.

    To determine modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), add to AGI certain amounts such as foreign income, foreign-housing deductions, student-loan deductions, IRA-contribution deductions and deductions for higher-education costs.

  6. If my modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is above the limit, do I qualify for any tax credit?
    Possibly. It depends on your income. Partial credits of less than $7,500 are available for some taxpayers whose MAGI exceeds the phaseout limits. The credit becomes totally unavailable for individual taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income of more than $95,000 and for married taxpayers filing joint returns with an AGI of more than $170,000.

  7. Can you give me an example of how the partial tax credit is determined?
    Just as an example, assume that a married couple has a modified adjusted gross income of $160,000. The applicable phaseout to qualify for the tax credit is $150,000, and the couple is $10,000 over this amount. Dividing $10,000 by $20,000 yields 0.5. When you subtract 0.5 from 1.0, the result is 0.5. To determine the amount of the partial first-time home buyer tax credit that is available to this couple, multiply $7,500 by 0.5. The result is $3,750.

    Here’s another example: assume that an individual home buyer has a modified adjusted gross income of $88,000. The buyer’s income exceeds $75,000 by $13,000. Dividing $13,000 by $20,000 yields 0.65. When you subtract 0.65 from 1.0, the result is 0.35. Multiplying $7,500 by 0.35 shows that the buyer is eligible for a partial tax credit of $2,625.

    Please remember that these examples are intended to provide a general idea of how the tax credit might be applied in different circumstances. You should always consult your tax advisor for information relating to your specific circumstances.

  8. Does the credit amount differ based on tax filing status?
    No. The credit is in general equal to $7,500 for a qualified home purchase, whether the home buyer files taxes as a single or married taxpayer. However, if a household files their taxes as "married filing separately" (in effect, filing two returns), then the credit of $7,500 is claimed as a $3,750 credit on each of the two returns.

  9. Are there any circumstances for which buyers whose incomes are at or below the $75,000 limit for singles or the $150,000 limit for married taxpayers might not be able to claim the full $7,500 tax credit?
    In general, the tax credit is equal to 10% of the qualified home purchase price, but the credit amount is capped or limited at $7,500. For most first-time home buyers, this means the credit will equal $7,500. For home buyers purchasing a home priced less than $75,000, the credit will equal 10% of the purchase price.

  10. I heard that the tax credit is refundable. What does that mean?
    The fact that the credit is refundable means that the home buyer credit can be claimed even if the taxpayer has little or no federal income tax liability to offset. Typically this involves the government sending the taxpayer a check for a portion or even all of the amount of the refundable tax credit.

    For example, if a qualified home buyer expected, notwithstanding the tax credit, federal income tax liability of $5,000 and had tax withholding of $4,000 for the year, then without the tax credit the taxpayer would owe the IRS $1,000 on April 15th. Suppose now that taxpayer qualified for the $7,500 home buyer tax credit. As a result, the taxpayer would receive a check for $6,500 ($7,500 minus the $1,000 owed).

  11. What is the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction?
    A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in what the taxpayer owes. That means that a taxpayer who owes $7,500 in income taxes and who receives a $7,500 tax credit would owe nothing to the IRS.

    A tax deduction is subtracted from the amount of income that is taxed. Using the same example, assume the taxpayer is in the 15 percent tax bracket and owes $7,500 in income taxes. If the taxpayer receives a $7,500 deduction, the taxpayer’s tax liability would be reduced by $1,125 (15 percent of $7,500), or lowered from $7,500 to $6,375.

  12. Can I claim the tax credit if I finance the purchase of my home under a mortgage revenue bond (MRB) program?
    No. The tax credit cannot be combined with the MRB home buyer program.

  13. I live in the District of Columbia. Can I claim both the DC first-time home buyer credit and this new credit?
    No. You can claim only one.

  14. I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I claim the tax credit?
    Maybe. Anyone who is not a nonresident alien (as defined by the IRS), who has not owned a principal residence in the previous three years and who meets the income limits test may claim the tax credit for a qualified home purchase. The IRS provides a definition of "nonresident alien" in IRS Publication 519.

  15. Does the credit have to be paid back to the government? If so, what are the payback provisions?
    Yes, the tax credit must be repaid. Home buyers will be required to repay the credit to the government, without interest, over 15 years or when they sell the house, if there is sufficient capital gain from the sale. For example, a home buyer claiming a $7,500 credit would repay the credit at $500 per year. The home owner does not have to begin making repayments on the credit until two years after the credit is claimed. So if the tax credit is claimed on the 2008 tax return, a $500 payment is not due until the 2010 tax return is filed. If the home owner sold the home, then the remaining credit amount would be due from the profit on the home sale. If there was insufficient profit, then the remaining credit payback would be forgiven.

  16. Why must the money be repaid?
    Congress’s intent was to provide as large a financial resource as possible for home buyers in the year that they purchase a home. In addition to helping first-time home buyers, this will maximize the stimulus for the housing market and the economy, will help stabilize home prices, and will increase home sales. The repayment requirement reduces the effect on the Federal Treasury and assumes that home buyers will benefit from stabilized and, eventually, increasing future housing prices.

  17. Because the money must be repaid, isn’t the first-time home buyer program really a zero-interest loan rather than a traditional tax credit?
    Yes. Because the tax credit must be repaid, it operates like a zero-interest loan. Assuming an interest rate of 7%, that means the home owner saves up to $4,200 in interest payments over the 15-year repayment period. Compared to $7,500 financed through a 30-year mortgage with a 7% interest rate, the home buyer tax credit saves home buyers over $8,100 in interest payments. The program is called a tax credit because it operates through the tax code and is administered by the IRS. Also like a tax credit, it provides a reduction in tax liability in the year it is claimed.
  18. If I’m qualified for the tax credit and buy a home in 2009, can I apply the tax credit against my 2008 tax return?
    Yes. The law allows taxpayers to choose ("elect") to treat qualified home purchases in 2009 as if the purchase occurred on December 31, 2008. This means that the 2008 income limit (MAGI) applies and the election accelerates when the credit can be claimed (tax filing for 2008 returns instead of for 2009 returns). A benefit of this election is that a home buyer in 2009 will know their 2008 MAGI with certainty, thereby helping the buyer know whether the income limit will reduce their credit amount.
  19. For a home purchase in 2009, can I choose whether to treat the purchase as occurring in 2008 or 2009, depending on in which year my credit amount is the largest?
    Yes. If the applicable income phaseout would reduce your home buyer tax credit amount in 2009 and a larger credit would be available using the 2008 MAGI amounts, then you can choose the year that yields the largest credit amount.
The information above is outlined by the National Association of Home Builders. This information is an overview and you should call The Grant Hickman Team, to learn if you qualify and how the H.R. 3221, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 effects you.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Around St. Charles County

• August Tuesday Evenings: O'Fallon Civic Park for Jammin' Outdoor Concerts 5:30 - 8:30, FREE
• August Thursday Evenings: St. Charles Frontier Park at 8:00, FREE
• August Friday Evenings: St. Charles Frontier Park from 5:00 - 11:00, FREE
• August 2: Concert for Flood Relief from 2:00 - 10:00, St. Charles Frontier Park, FREE
• August 8: Weird Al Yankovic at the Family Arena
• August 9: Yard Sale Benefit (All Children's Items) 7:00 am - 2:00 at 3555 Franks Drive, St. Charles
• August 10: Trailnet Bike Ride 7:30 am - 3:00 pm starting at Foundry Art Centre
• August 15 - 17: Festival of the Little Hills, St Charles Friday 4 - 10pm, Sat 9:30 - 10, Sun 9:30 - 5, FREE
• August 17: Kenny Loggins at the Family Arena
• August 22: Friday Night Flicks in Frenchtown starting at 8:00 pm, FREE
• August 22: New Melle Art Show at the Golf Course and Banquet Center, ADMISSION
• August 22: World's Largest Garage Sale at St. Charles Convention Center
• August 23: Race for the Rivers Festival at Frontier park St. Charles
• August 29 - 30: Quail Ridge Horseshoe Club Event in Wentzville

Monday, July 21, 2008

Help for Foreclosures

Dear Friends & Family,

On the news and signs surrounding our neighborhoods, we are reminded that
many of or friends, family, and neighbors are financially struggling. Among
the daily headlines, I read about the economy, gas, and real estate -
especially foreclosure and families in need of help.

In my business, helping family matters. St. Charles is a great place to work
and live, and has continued to grow despite reports of a lagging economy.
Regardless, people you and I know have been hit hard by rising gas prices,
grocery expenses, and other economy factors.

If you, or someone you know, is slipping behind on their bills or mortgage
please encourage them to call me. It is possible to avoid lower credit
scores, bankruptcy, and foreclosure.

We have experts trained in:
. Short sales
. Foreclosures
. A network of credit counselors and mortgage professionals
.And, a reputation for putting our homeowners first

I want you to call me if you need assistance making decisions about your
home. The Grant Hickman Team is helping families right now in difficult
situations, avoid foreclosure and bankruptcies. Give me a call at (314)
265-1531 or share our services with a friend, neighbor, or family member.

Your Real Estate Expert,

Grant Hickman

Monday, July 14, 2008

Banks vs. Credit Unions

Educational Article by Richard Dillard

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to own your bank? When you’re a member of a credit union, you do! Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives owned by the members they serve. Because members are actually owners, everything is done it their best interests. Revenues are returned to them in the form of higher savings rates, lower loan rates and fewer fees.

Unlike banks that are run by stockholders who profit from the bank’s success, credit unions are democratically run with each member having a vote. Members vote for the board of directors, which serves voluntarily and without compensation. When a credit union succeeds, all its members benefit.

Credit unions focus on doing the right things for their members. Each credit union has a defined field of membership, or group of people they can serve. This allows them focus on the specific needs of their members, offering the precise products and services they require.

For business owners, credit unions are particularly attractive. Unlike large banks, credit unions can work with business owners to develop plans to help their businesses succeed. Because they’re locally owned and operated, credit unions have the flexibility and the ability to offer business owners products and services they may otherwise be denied. Plus, the products and services offered by credit unions are typically as comprehensive and competitive as a bank – only at better rates!

-This information is brought to you courtesy of Richard Dillard and West Community Credit Union in O’Fallon. For more information, visit www.westcommunitycu.org or contact us at (636) 720-2420.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Good Credit Scores

Today’s mortgage market it changing quickly, however, one constant factor is the need to have good credit scores! Here are some great strategies to improve or maintain your credit scores :

Payment History Tips – accounts for 35% of your total score
• Pay your bills on time
o Delinquent payments and collections can have a major negative impact on your credit score.

Amounts Owed Tips – accounts for 30% of your total score
• Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit.
o Don’t close unused credit cards as a short term strategy to raise your score

Length of Credit History Tips – accounts for 15% of your total score
• If you have had credit for a short time only, don’t open a lot of new accounts too rapidly.
o New accounts will lower your average account age and a rapid increase in available credit can look risky to a new credit user.

New Credit Tips – accounts for 10% of your total score
• Note that it’s OK to check request and check your own credit report.
o This won’t affect your credit score as long as you order the report directly from the reporting agency or an organization authorized to provide credit reports to consumers (i.e.www.annualcreditreport.com).

Types of Credit Use Tips – accounts for 10% of your total score
• Have credit cards – but manage them responsibly
o Note that closing an account doesn’t make it go away

These are fantastic tips! When credit is used responsibly your scores will reflect the positive payment history that you are working so hard to prove! Remember, a mortgage lender will scrutinize your credit history as well as other factors when applying for a loan. Stay informed, make good credit choices and you will reap the benefits!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Around St. Charles County

• July 3 – 4: Heritage & Freedom Fest at TR Hughes in O’Fallon. T 6:00-10:00 and W 12:00 – 9:00 – Free
• July 3 – 5: Riverfest at Frontier Park in St. Charles – Free
• July 4: Independence Celebration at Daniel Boone Home 9 am – 5 pm - Admission
• Tuesdays: Free Concerts at O’Fallon Civic Park 5:30 – 8:30 - Free
• July 13: Truck and Motorcycle Show at McNair Park
• July 16: Music on Main in St. Charles from 5:00 – 7:30 - Free
• July 25: Friday Night Flicks in Frenchtown 8:00pm
• July 25: Kids Block Party by Radio Disney at the St. Charles Convention Center from 10 am – 2 pm – Free
• July 26: Hot Summer Nights Music 6 – 11pm on Main Street St. Charles.
• July 26: St. Charles Antique Mall Summer Sale from 10 am – 6 pm with free appraisal 1 – 4 pm.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Foreclosure Solutions for Homeowners

Do you remember when the iPhone first came out? About a week before it hit store shelves, an on-line sports book published odds claiming that 1 in 20 shoppers would be trampled to death while trying to get one. Coincidentally, those are also the odds in any given week that someone will be behind on their mortgage payments.

Are you one of them?

If you are, you realize that the stench of fear permeates your being, as you approach the unfamiliar territory of foreclosure. You don't have to be a bum or a deadbeat to get into this position. It can be as simple as missing a few days of work or having a mortgage payment or two wind up in the Dead Letter File at the post office. Either way, your payment’s late or you're in deep doo-doo with your lender. Now your lender's threatening you with the Big “F” -- foreclosure.

The last thing you want or need is to face the stigma of foreclosure, so you're seeking any port in a storm. The best way to get out of this mess – if you can come up with the cash – is reinstatement. The concept is simple: Pay your lender what you owe. In return, your lender will call off the hounds and allow you to continue with your mortgage contract as if nothing has happened. This could be a practical and doable option if your problem is a short term financial hiccup.

In practice, however, it could be a pretty tall order because you'll be required to catch up your payments – with late fees – in one single lump sum payment. Most lenders stipulate in your contract that partial payments won't be accepted. While it's possible to pay less than the full balance of your back payments, it isn't as likely an outcome. If you can work this out, you'll need to get it in writing and the only chance you have of making it happen is if you can satisfy the lender that the conditions that led to your being late won't be repeated. If you're able to convince your lender to accept a lesser amount, it will likely take an act of Congress and your first born child. In addition, this sort of an arrangement will take some time to negotiate – time you probably don't have.

When you're in this precarious financial position, you're at your lender's mercy. It's just you and your lender. Instead of being intimidated or bullied into making a rash decision that could have a dramatic impact on your financial future, you should enlist the help of a trained professional, someone who will be in your corner, looking out for your best interests – not the bank's.

By calling The Grant Hickman Team, you'll get sound advice from an objective advocate that will act as a counterbalance to the power of your lender. Then you can decide for yourself whether reinstatement of your mortgage is the best course of action for you. Then maybe you can consider getting an iPhone – but only if you're willing to run the risk!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Escrow Account Analysis

by Shawn Tihen, Bankers Home Lending, (314) 520-3649

By now, you have probably received your “Escrow Account Analysis” in the mail from your mortgage lender. Like most of us, you probably asked “What does this all mean?”

Escrows are the monies you set aside each month with your lender to pay your taxes and homeowner’s insurance when they come due. Taxes in Missouri are due at the end of the year and the premium for your homeowner’s insurance is due annually from the date of your policy inception.

When you closed on your loan, we deposited the proper amount of monies into your escrow account so that amount plus your monthly escrow contribution should cover the payments as they come due. It’s also important to note that by law a lender keeps a two to three month cushion in this account to accommodate minimal increases in your taxes or insurance.

If the amount of taxes or insurance paid is lower than anticipated, then this creates an overage in your escrow account and you are due a refund. If, as usual, the amount of taxes or insurance due is higher than anticipated, then this creates a shortage in your account and this causes you to owe more money.

In general, the big culprit of these shortages is your tax bill. Property taxes are re-assessed every two years with the most recent assessment in 2007. There was a substantial increase in taxes, so you most likely had an escrow shortage. Therefore your lender presented you with two options.
Send them a check upfront and they will adjust your monthly payment by a smaller amount so you aren’t short the next time those bills come due.
Send them nothing and your payment will adjust by a larger amount to make up for the shortage and to make sure you aren’t short the next time those bills come due.

My recommendation has always been option two, but of course every situation is different.

30 Year Fixed 6.375% with 0 points
15 Year Fixed 5.875% with 0 points
FHA 30 Year Fixed 6.125% with 0 points

Monday, June 9, 2008

Falling House Prices are a Good Thing

New home sales rose in April for the first time in six months. But in an article written by St. Louis Post-Dispatch author Jack Naudi this past weekend, the falling house prices could have been a good thing. Naudi believes first-time buyers and anyone trading up can now buy a house for a smaller down payment and lower mortgage than this time last year.

"For every $5,000 you reduce the price of a house, you can cut your down payment by $1,000, and your monthly mortgage by about $25 for a 30-year fixed mortgage at 5.75 percent.

"In eight months, a married couple buying a house will have more money to either save or spend than they will get from President George W. Bush's tax rebate. And the couple will continue to save $300 every year. Now, that's a stimulus package!

"However, what about those who counted on rising house prices for their nest egg?... Most homeowners are counting on their houses to fund their golden years. Even if you believe your house is an investment, you need to understand that it's highly illiquid. And if your house is your primary investment, you're facing huge risk from lack of diversification."

"Most importantly, buy a house sensibly, understanding that its true value is psychological, social and emotional — not financial."

In St. Charles, buyers and investors have many choices when determining their long-term investment strategies. The Grant Hickman Team can help you find a home to grow old in or a kid-friendly neighborhood to start a family. And, we work closely with financial advisers that know our local economy. Call today for a financial referral or let us help you find the best place for you.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Around St. Charles County

  • June 1: Renaissance Faire at Rotary Park in Wentzville - Admission
  • June 3: Free Concerts from 5:30 - 8:30 pm bring a blanket or chairs to the Civic Park in O'Fallon
  • June 6: Fridays at Frontier in St. Charles live music from the '80's
  • June 6: Party at the Park at Wapelhorst from 6:00 - 8:00 pm Family event - Free
  • June 7: Fleur-de-Lis Festival from 10 am - 6 pm on 2nd Street in St. Charles - Free
  • June 7-8: Renaissance Faire at Rotary Park in Wentzville - Admission
  • June 10: Free Concerts from 5:30 - 8:30 pm bring a blanket or chairs to the Civic Park in O'Fallon
  • June 13 - 14: Olde Tyme Picnic in Old Town Park St. Peters
  • June 14: Louisiana Purchase Day celebrated 9 am to 5 pm at Daniel Boone's Home in Defiance - Admission
  • June 14: St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Frontier Park in St. Charles - Free
  • June 15: Community Big Jazz Band at Frontier Park at 7:30 pm
  • June 17: Free Concerts from 5:30 - 8:30 pm bring a blanket or chairs to the Civic Park in O'Fallon
  • June 19: Divine Wine at the Vine from 5:00 - 7:00 pm wine tasting to benefit St. Charles Crisis Nursery
  • June 20: Shakespeare in the Park at Frontier Park at 6:30 - Free
  • June 24: Free Concerts from 5:30 - 8:30 pm bring a blanket or chairs to the Civic Park in O'Fallon
  • June 26 - 28: New Melle Festival, Family Night Thursday and parade Saturday at 12:30 pm
  • June 27: Friday Night Flicks in Frenchtown starting at sunset on the 1800 block of North Second Street St. Charles
  • June 28: Bluegrass Festival in Augusta on Jackson Street from 1:30 - 8:00 pm - Admission

Monday, May 19, 2008

10 Energy Zappers and How to Elimnate Them

Submitted by Guest Blogger Debbie Schroeder RN, BSN

Do you know that approximately 4,000 people die a day from cancer and heart disease? Of the people with heart disease, 70% of them are overweight and 42% of people diagnosed with breast or colon cancer are overweight.

I bring up these statistics to emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight. I realize this is a difficult challenge for many people. Over two-thirds of the adult population in the United States is overweight.

However, there is hope. There are ways to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer by following some simple steps to guide you through the weight loss process. By making small changes to your diet and physical activity you can transform your unhealthy lifestyle into a healthy lifestyle.

Busy, Professional Women: Are you ready to stop Yo Yo dieting, lose weight permanently and have an abundance of energy? Debbie Schroeder RN, BSN Registered Nurse turned Health and Weight Loss Coach helps women lose weight permanently, increase energy levels and improve overall health and wellness. Get your FREE copy of her report, 10 Energy Zappers and How to Eliminate Them at www.HealthCoachTeam.com.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Top 10 Short Sale Questions and Answers

Buyers and sellers in St. Charles County rely on the expertise of the Grant Hickman Team to answer questions about today’s market. Below are the Top 10 Short Sale Questions with answers.

Number 10: I can’t make my house payments, but I do have an ability to pay back all or part of the negative equity. Also, I want to preserve my credit score - is a short sale right for me? A: Probably, not. In cases where the seller can pay back all or part of the negative equity (usually to the 2nd lien holder), it makes sense for them to work out a repayment plan. The lender will then release the lien and allow the home to close.

Number 9: If I pay mortgage insurance and default on my loan, why wouldn’t that cover the deficiency amount? A: The mortgage insurance is not there for your protection, just the mortgage lenders.

Number 8: Do I have to have my home “Approved” by the lender prior to offering it for sale as a short sale? A: No. Technically speaking there is no such thing as being “Short Sale Approved.” The actual approval only happens with an accepted offer.

Number 7: I just missed a payment and I know I will miss more - how long does the foreclosure process take and is there time to do a short sale? A: The foreclosure process takes differing times depending on the state. In the Midwest a foreclosure can take over a year. Generally speaking a well-priced short sale being processed by an educated St. Charles short sale listing agent will sell and close in less than 120 days.

Number 6: Will I still have to pay property taxes if I do a short sale? A: Property taxes will always have to be paid as part of any accepted short sale. Whether it’s you or the lender, it depends on their policies and the specific agreement you reach while negotiating the short sale.

Number 5: I owe more than my home is worth and I can’t make the payment. Do I have to somehow qualify for a short sale? A: The simple answer is NO. If someone can’t make their payment and they are otherwise insolvent, they qualify for a short sale. Note: insolvent simply means their total debts are greater than their assets.

Number 4: Do I have to pay income taxes - I have heard that I will get a 1099. Will the loss the bank takes be treated, as a taxable gain to me ”the seller” is this true? A: It WAS true, now its not. Consult your Tax Attorney or Qualified CPA. Very recently the tax law was modified and now most people who do a short sale will have no taxes due.

Number 3: How do you, my listing agent get paid? Who pays your commission? A: The bank will pay the commission along with all the other usual closing costs.

Number 2: Do I have to miss a payment to do a Short Sale? A: No. Late last year most major lenders started accepting short sale offers from sellers who have never missed a payment.

Number 1: I want to do a short sale and have a 2nd mortgage. Does this make me ineligible? A: No. Both of your lenders will need to be satisfied in some way to complete the short sale. If your first lender will be paid off by the sale, then you just negotiate the terms with the second lender. Most short sales do involve 1st and 2nd lien holders.

Contact the Grant Hickman Team to have your real estate questions answered. Call (314) 265-1531 today.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Financing Options are Changing!

Please be aware that the days of conventional 100% financing are over, so if you are planning on buying a house you must have a down payment. Here are the three most common financing types and a few key points for each loan type.
Conventional FHA VA
Maximum Financing 95% 97.75% 100%
Down Payment Required 5% 3% 0%

Important Notes on each loan type:
  • Conventional: 5% Borrower own funds required, and any additional down payment can come from an eligible gift.
  • FHA: 97.75% Maximum financing available when borrower pays all closing costs. Down payment can come from borrower funds or eligible gift sources
  • VA: Borrower must be active military, veteran or civil service employee to qualify.

Unfortunately, the loss of conventional 100% financing will affect borrowers who borrowed 100% when they purchased their home and are considering refinancing; as they too will need to have equity before refinancing.

With all of the market changes, we are still originating loans and helping borrowers make meaningful changes to their financial situations through refinances. It is important that you utilize a lender who will be there for you during the loan process as well as after closing!

30 Year Fixed 6.25% with 0 points
15 Year Fixed 5.875% with 0 points
FHA 30 Year Fixed 6.00% with 0 points

by Shawn Tihen, Bankers Home Lending (314) 520-3649

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Around St. Charles County

  • May 1 - 3: Augusta Plein Air Art Event
  • May 3: Fiber Arts & Spring Planting Festival at Daniel Boone's Home from 9 - 5. Admission.
  • May 4: Main Street Bridal Showcase noon to 4:30 in St. Charles
  • May 17: St. Charles in Bloom on Main Street 10 - 5
  • May 17 - 18: Lewis & Clark Heritage Days 9:30am - 5:00 pm. Parade Saturday at 11 am. at Frontier Park.
  • May 17 - June 8: Renaissance Faire at Wentzville's Rotary Park on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission.
  • May 31: Moonlight Bike Ride in Cottleville

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring Cleaning

It is that time of year again, when the weather warms and the ritual of spring-cleaning begins. Across St. Charles, homeowners are packing items up for storage and beginning to take a look around their homes for other items that can be packed away, donated, disposed, or sold.

Spring is a good time to open the windows (which may need cleaned) and enjoy fresh air and natural light. The cool breezes of April can even inspire inside housework. Here are a few tips. Take a moment to change the air filter, replace burnt light bulbs and batteries in fire alarms. Check food and medicines for expired dates and dispose appropriately. If those honey-do jobs are calling to update carpet, fix the cabinets and so on, consider visiting open houses in the area for ideas on the latest trends in curtains, paint colors, flooring, countertops, and much more.

Neighborhood garage sales may also increase area traffic. Some easy curb appeal tips for any home includes trimming the grass, trees, and shrubs, weeding the garden and flowerbeds. A fresh coat of paint on trim, shutters, and the exterior can rejuvenate a home.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Flood relief for Missouri

Rain, Rain, Go Away.... April Showers in Missouri have turned into April Floods. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will provide federal disaster assistance to counties in Missouri affected by the recent floods. Although St. Charles County does not qualify for FEMA or HUD assistance, neighboring counties are receiving guaranteed loans for housing rehabilitation, economic development, and repair of public infrastructure. The assistance provides support to homeowners forced from their homes including foreclosure relief. Victims who have lost their homes are eligible for 100 percent financing, including closing costs to rebuild or buy a new home.

"Those who are forced from their homes need to know that help is available," said Alphonso Jackson, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary. "Whether its foreclosure relief for FHA-insured families or helping these counties to rebuild, HUD stands ready to help in any way we can."

Members of St. Charles County Rescue Task Force were called to action in mid-March to assist emergency crews and rescue operations in Reynolds County. Nearly three weeks after the initial flooding began, area river levels are expected to rise again this week.

Rainy forecasts impact St. Peters annual Operation Clean Stream event that was planned for the first weekend of April. Concerns for volunteers' safety prompted organizers to reschedule the event to Saturday, April 12, 8:30 - 1:30 pm. at Spencer Creek and Dardenne Creek.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Around St. Charles County

  • April 4 – 6: Missouri Tartan Days are Downtown St. Charles. Parade April 5 at noon on Main Street for more information visit www.motartanday.com.
  • April 5: Wentzville Annual Spring City Wide Yard Sale - Location booklet for sale at Progress Park or City Hall starting at 7 am
  • April 5-6: Civil War Living History Festival from 9 am - 5 pm Daniel Boone Home in Defiance, MO
  • April 12: Historical Children's Festival 10 am - 5 pm at the First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site
  • April 19: O'Fallon Earth Day Awareness Fair at the RSC from 10 am - 2 pm
  • April 23 – May 3: Augusta Plein Air Art Event
  • April 25 – 27: Spring Art Walk on Main Street St. Charles for more information visit www.saintcharlesriverfrontarts.com.
  • April 26: Shriner's Parade along Main Street at noon - 4 pm
  • April 26: New Town St. Charles Blues Festival starting at 6 pm at the Amphitheater
  • April 26: Fishing Derby and Picnic from 10 am - noon at Vantage Park Lake in Cottleville bring bate and pole
  • April 26: Taste of Cottleville & Car Show 11 am - 4 pm in Historic Cottleville
  • April 26: Wentzville Arbor Day Celebration from 10 am - noon at the Rotary Park
  • April 26: Wildflower Walk at the August A. Busch Conservation 9 am - 10:30 am

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Federal Reserve and Mortgage Rates

By: Shawn Tihen
Senior Mortgage Banker

In case you haven’t heard, it’s an election year and one of the biggest topics between the candidates is how to stimulate the economy and to reverse the troubled housing market, which has us headed towards a possible recession.

The fear of recession and other factors has caused the Federal Reserve to cut the Federal Funds Rate twice in the last few weeks; once by ¾ of a point and then followed up by a ½ point.

These rate cuts have lead to the following question, “I hear interest rates have dropped, should I refinance my home loan?”

First, the Federal Funds Rate does not have a direct correlation to mortgage rates. Therefore, even though the Federal Reserve cut rates by a total of 1.25%, mortgage rates did not go down by that percentage.

However, because of the economy, mortgage rates have dropped recently to levels not seen in almost four years. So again the question; does it make sense to refinance?

The decision to refinance is unique to every client’s situation and many factors have to be considered including: how long you are planning on staying in the home, the new interest rate and the closing costs to obtain the loan. Each person must determine if a refinance will help their financial situation while meeting their short and long term financial goals.

Mortgage Industry In 2008

What will 2008 bring in the mortgage industry?
By: Shawn Tihen
Senior Mortgage Banker

The most common question I hear as a mortgage professional is “what do you think interest rates are going to do?” And my answer is always the same “I don’t have a crystal ball and no one can accurately predict what the market will do on any given day!”

What I can tell you is that there will be lots of change. Many mortgage companies will cease to exist; 214 of them have already dropped out of the business completely. And many companies will be purchased by other companies; ie. Bank of America just announced that they are buying Countrywide.

The other thing we can be certain of is that lenders will continue to tighten their lending standards. Lending institutions have already and will continue to require borrowers to have better credit and in many situations a down payment.

What does this mean to you? As a consumer, you need to monitor your credit scores and make sure you meet with a mortgage professional that will give you the necessary advice to navigate through the market we are in today.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Buying Smart

When is the "right time" to buy a house?

Well, if you are waiting for a big neon sign to turn on and read “BUY NOW” forget it, it’s not going to happen. Market timing is a talent you have to be able to pick up on quickly. By knowing the tricks of the trade, you can improve your likelihood of a remarkable purchase. I will, however let you in on a little secret, now is a great time to buy a house because interest rates are so low. You won’t always have me around to tell you “yay or nay” so here are some easy tricks to help you pick the perfect time to buy.

One of the most important things to remember is that the media isn’t always right. Fear is one of the main reasons people who want to buy don’t, even in a good quality housing market. If you see what you want, go for it!

When you consider buying a home look for these signals that the time is right:

Sufficient supply begins to diminish. This doesn’t necessarily mean the inexpensive homes are being bought. Majority of the time this means that the houses with the best predicted re-sale value are jumping off the shelves.

DOM lessens. Days on market is the phase when a Realtor places a home in the MLS (multiple listing service) for advertising to other brokers, until the home is purchased. When DOM (Days on market) are short, that’s an indicator of a seller’s market coming soon. A seller's market has more shoppers than merchandise, so cost goes up and choice goes down.

Mortgage applications amplify. Interest rates in recent times have plummet, meaning that people are refinancing at a higher rate. This indicates homes are about to disappear from the market, so less supply means a stricter price.

Incentives vanish. Prices are a direct result of demand. To be a focus for buyers, sellers decrease their prices and offer more reason for you to buy, incentives. If the market is doing good, prices aren’t going to go drop but incentives will.

In Real Estate, if one thing is altered something else is directly influenced by the changes. Pay close attention for the signals so you can get on your way to owning that dream home

Monday, January 28, 2008


-Good Times are within Our Grasp-

I believe 2008 will be a transition year just as I described 2006. However, I trust that 2008 will evolve into a brighter time for those involved in the real estate game as opposed to 2006, which transitioned into the somewhat sluggish 2007 market. Some experts believe that 2008 will be our tunnel into the bright light of 2009. I agree.

As I have said in the past, there is no doubt that the real estate market has changed, but in our area, it was never as dire as the media would have us believe. What we saw this past year was fear. I believe with the ever-increasing consumer confidence due to lower interest rates, available financing, and buyer/seller awareness we will see that fear lift and the downtrend end.

The National Association of REALTORS® is predicting existing home sales and prices to stabilize and then rise throughout 2008. This is great news because we are in a better place now. Buyers, and especially sellers, understand what is going on.

The following is my short list of vital steps that must be taken by buyers and sellers to feel successful in the 2008 housing market.

Be proactive in setting an effective price
-Remember this will not be a fast market therefore buyers do not be afraid of losing the property
-Listen to your agent when it comes to preparing the condition of the home for sale
-Be realistic and prepared for how many days the house will be on market to procure and close a buyer

-Put on your buying shoes and get out there
-Take advantage of the market and of the low interest rates
-Know that there is a lot of inventory available but finding “the one” means seeing a lot of homes
-There are foreclosures readily available, so if this fits your needs have your agent do a search for foreclosed homes for sale in your area.

Real estate is not always a win-win situation. Therefore, if you are a buyer and a seller the give-and-take game is probably in your future, so be ready. You may have to take a hit on the sale of your existing home but in turn, be able to purchase a larger home because of the great interest rates.