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Making The Decision To Rent Or Buy

by Samia S. Morgan

Even in a buyers market, a common question I often am asked from potential homebuyers is whether or not they should continue to rent or make the plunge and purchase a home. And my answer usually comes down to this: It depends on you--your situation and your goals for the future.

Some questions I ask are: Do you think you’re ready to move into the world of homeownership? Does your job require you to relocate frequently? Are you ready to “settle down” and raise a family? Not sure what you want to do yet?

As a real estate professional, I do know that buying a home has real advantages in today’s market: Realtor.com reports that housing affordability is the best it’s been in nearly 30 years. Right now buyers can cash in on hefty price drops and rock-bottom mortgage interest rates--and many people don’t realize just how great the market is!

So should you rent or should you buy? The Our Family Place Home Buyer’s Information Center lists some of the pros and cons noted below, and I’ve added some of my own:

Buying Advantages:

* You gain equity in your home through mortgage payments.
* Your home could be one of the best long-term investments you will ever make.
* You can decorate and remodel the way you want.
* You get homeowner tax breaks.
* You build your credit standing.
* You can improve your property using home equity loans.
* You gain independence and pride as a homeowner.
* You can transfer your property through your will.

Buying Disadvantages:

* Your costs are variable.
* Your equity may change due to market conditions.
* You usually must sell your home to move.
* You handle maintenance and upkeep.
* You usually need more cash to get in.

Renting Advantages:

* Your costs are fixed for the term of your rental.
* You don’t lose equity.
* You can move at the end of your lease term.
* You have fewer maintenance worries.
* You need less cash to get in.

Renting Disadvantages:

* You never get equity.
* You can’t always decorate or remodel the way you want.
* You don’t get any tax breaks.
* Your lease is for a limited time period determined by your landlord.
* Your rent may go up at the end of your lease and other terms may change.
* Your landlord may not fix problems or invest in routine property maintenance.
* You normally can’t transfer your lease without the landlord’s OK.
* You may face eviction if you and your landlord have a dispute.

There are many of variables to consider, and you’ll need to do your homework to decide what’s right for you. Please be in touch if you have any questions. I am always available to assist potential buyers debating the “rent v. buy” decision.

San Mateo and Bay Area Thanksgiving Events

by Samia S. Morgan

Giving thanks and giving back is what this time of the year is all about. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and the San Mateo area offers many events for you to have fun, give back and enjoy all while kicking off this holiday season. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

"Shop, Enjoy & Give"

"Shop, Enjoy & Give" starts every Tuesday beginning November 24 through December 22, from 6:00-9:00p.m. You are invited to enjoy wine and food pairings plus receive incredible discounts at Santana Row shops and restaurants. Best of all, proceeds will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank.

Your $20 ticket includes food and wine tastings inside Santana Row shops and restaurants, a signature wine glass, and exclusive holiday shopping discounts. Extra Bonus: bring a non-perishable food donation to the Santana Row Concierge when you purchase your ticket and receive $3 off your entry.

Tickets are available online or at the Santana Row Concierge Center.
Must be 21 years or older to attend. For more information, contact the Santana Row Concierge at 408.551.4611.

Lucky, Food Maxx, or Save Mart Holiday Food Drive

You can support the Food Bank while shopping at your local Lucky, Food Maxx, or Save Mart store. From now until Januaray 5th you can simply drop non-perishable items to donate in our Food Bank barrels. All Save Mart and Lucky stores will have $10 and $20 bags of their pre-selected food items that you can buy and place in the barrels.

5th Annual Silicon Valley Turkey Trot

Work up an appetite on Thanksgiving morning by partaking in the annual Turkey Trot, an event that supports Second Harvest and other bay area charities. There are several runs and walks available to choose from in the 5K and 10K range, a kids' fun run, and a new Costume Run. To sign up for an event, visit the official Turkey Trot site.

Winter Carnival

On November 21st starting at 4pm enjoy a family carnival with games, arts, crafts and music. Street Level of One, Two, Three and Four Embarcadero Center.

Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended

by Samia S. Morgan

The homebuyer tax credit that was to expire on November 30th will now be in effect through the end of June. Homebuyers must sign a contract before April 30 and close by June 30. The income limits were also raised: Single buyers can now earn up to $125,000 and still get the full credit while a married couple can earn $225,000.

The bill which was signed into law by President Obama on Friday also made more homeowners eligible to claim the credit on their taxes. First-time buyers -- those who have not owned a home in the past three years, can qualify. Those who have owned and occupied a residence for at least five years out of the past eight can claim a $6,500 tax credit if they close on a purchase by the end of June. These tax credits are available for the purchase of principal homes costing $800,000 or less.

Deadline for qualifying: Purchase agreements must be signed by April 30, 2010, and closings must be final by June 30. Military deadline: The deadline is extended by a year for members of the military who have served outside the U.S. for at least 90 days from Jan. 1, 2009, to May 1, 2010.

The National Association of Realtors estimates that of the 1,400,000 million buyers, 350,000 of them would not have purchased a home without the added taxpayer’s incentive from the federal government.

Avoiding Foreclosure

by Samia S. Morgan

Foreclosure can happen fast. Facing foreclosure is frightening, and many homeowners are just not aware of how fast a foreclosure can happen. I’ve heard some heartbreaking stories in the last few months. The foreclosure process is painfully personal and can be painfully fast. Do you realize you and your family can lose your most precious asset in just a few short months?

So what happens in a foreclosure--and when? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has prepared an easy-to-understand foreclosure timeline. Just to emphasize how pressing foreclosure can be and how quickly it can happen, I have indicated below the foreclosure process.

If you miss one payment. You get a call or note from your lender. Not so bad, right? You’re just juggling the bills a little right now--no problem. You’ll pay as soon as possible. Not to worry.

If you miss two payments. Your lender calls again. Where are the payments? You’re still trying to convince yourself that everything is OK, but you still can’t make the payment, either. Things have to get better, don’t they?

If you miss three payments. You get a scary “Demand Letter” or “Notice To Accelerate” from the bank that says you must pay all the missed payments in 30 days. If you don’t pay or negotiate different arrangements, the bank can start foreclosure.

If you miss four payments. If you still haven’t paid or made other arrangements within that 30 days, the lender turns you over to the legal team. But now you’re responsible for all the legal expenses, too.

Finally you will get notice that your home will be sold by the Sheriff--and you’re in foreclosure. But it’s only been just a few short months! You’re told you can save your home if you make all the missed payments and pay all the delinquency costs. But where will you get all that money, and why would the lender accept other arrangements now? It’s too late!

You may get one last chance to save your home. You can still keep your home even after the sale if you pay all the missed payments and all foreclosure costs. You must take action to save it.

Although foreclosure may differ by state, this gives you a good idea of how foreclosure works--and how fast it can happen. HUD notes that a housing counselor could have helped even after the fourth missed payment. Doing nothing if you’re facing foreclosure is the worst possible thing you can do.

Doing nothing is not an option if you want to save your home. HUD advises that you be honest with your lender as soon as you suspect you’re in trouble. You can also contact HUD to find a housing counselor who can help. You don’t have to face foreclosure alone.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about foreclosure. I am always avaialble to answer your real estate questions, even difficult ones like this.

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Photo of Samia S. Morgan, Inc. Real Estate
Samia S. Morgan, Inc.
dba Samia Realty Group
BRE# 00967165
San Mateo CA 94403
650-678-3633