Sunday, March 24, 2013

Real Estate News from the Beltway!

One great thing about a member of the Realtors Land Institute, I get lots of information including emails and trade magazines about the latest developments and regulations related to real estate, regulation, tax law and more.

Here are some of the latest news that may affect you and your real estate:

Mortgage Cancellation Relief - is extended for one year to January 1, 2014

Deduction for Mortgage Insurance Premiums - for filers making below $110,000 is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012

Energy Efficiency Tax Credit - The 10% tax credit (up to $500) for homeowners for energy improvements to existing homes is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012

Capital Gains Tax -  Capital Gains rate stays at 15% for those up to the top rate of $400,000 individual and $450,000 joint return. After that, any gains above those amounts will be taxed at 20%. The $250/$500K exclusion for the sale of a principal residence  remains in effect.

Estate Tax - The first $5 million in the individual estate and $10 million for family estates are now exempt from estate taxes. After that, the rate will be 40%, up from 35%. The exemption will be indexed for inflation.

Waters of the U.S. -  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) have sought for years to expand their jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act beyond what is defined as 'navigable' and waters 'adjacent' to navigable waters. If the CWA jurisdiction is expanded, it would result in more regulation, permits and onerous requirements on developments. These efforts remain bottled up at the Office of Management and Budget. The EPA recently submitted a 'guidance' document that increases federal authority over more kinds of water. Officials acknowledge that the document was still under review between the EPA and ACE. Let's hope this goes no where!

For Information on Buying or Selling Land.... Contact G. Kent Morris, RF, ALC
at  (706) 457.0090

Friday, March 1, 2013

Four Tips for a Land Buyer. This will save you TIME!

Many recreational, timberland or investment land buyers want to find a property that seems to be just right!  Finding that right tract can take a lot of time, including driving time and computer time. This article is designed is help you with that search and provide a list to minimize your search including time and money. It is important to make every trip count. Do your homework and most importantly find the right broker. Here is a list to help you get started.

1. As a Forester and Land Manager we were always taught “to determine the landowners objectives”.  Therefore determine what you will use the property for including a list of features.

  • Will you hunt on the property? If so, quality wildlife, habitat, water, cover  are important.
  • Is the property a timber investment? You will need a timber cruise to quantify the type timber, acres and volume. This is needed for cost allocation after the purchase is made.
  • Are you looking for  land that has future subdivision potential? If so you need to look for what is considered transitional property. This is usually located along growth corridors, maybe along transportation corridors or around metropolitan areas.

2. Decide on what size tract (minimum and maximum acres) and the price you are willing to pay.

  • Pricing for recreational property in many parts of the country has bottomed out and is actually increasing in some areas.
  • Be creative……if the property already has all the features you are looking for, they will cost you. You might save large amounts of money by purchasing an ugly tract and adding features later. These might include a pond, four-board horse fence, food plots etc.

3. Technology can save you a lot of time and “time is money”

  • If the property is listed with a land broker, many tools will already be available such as topographic maps, aerial photography, Google maps etc. You can start the search from the comfort of your living room!

  • Check out the surrounding area and make sure it is a good fit. Maybe you will build on the property later so you want to protect your investment. Is the property a good fit for your family and lifestyle.

4.  What are my financing options?

  • I am always amazed, people find that perfect property then go to the bank…WRONG. As I mentioned before, the price will dictate what property you look at. You are wasting valuable time looking at a $500,000 tract of land when you will only qualify for a $200,000 loan!

  • 70% of my transactions are financed through Farm Credit banks. They require a down payment usually in the magnitude of 15 – 25%. They have some great loan programs and offer fixed rate, long term land financing.

Well, that’s all for now…headed to a closing!

For Information on Buying or Selling Land contact G. Kent Morris, ALC, RF            at      (706) 457-0090