Top 20 Real Estate Investment Markets In US

Source: Huliq News | January 13, 2010

Evaluating where to invest in residential real estate has been a tough call in recent years, but FinestExpert.com has done some of the work for investors by analyzing data for more than 10,000 American markets to identify the Top 20 Real Estate Investment Markets for 2010. San Francisco-based FinestExpert.com says that in many parts of the country the housing market hit bottom in early 2009. Interestingly, the list of good places for investors will also appeal to first-time homebuyers who are looking for a place to buy for less than it would cost to rent. The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas metro area was picked as the best real estate investment market for 2010. [Read this article]

Your Kids Can Save You Money at Tax Time

While driving home from work the other day, I was listening to a call-in show on NPR. A woman called to find out the best way for her family to save money for their child’s college fund. It made me think about how expensive our little bundles of joy can be. It also made me think that we really need to get cracking on our own little guy’s college fund. So far it consists of a few small savings bonds from the grandmas and all our handfuls of loose change from the past two years. I haven’t even taken it to the bank yet, but I don’t think we’ve even hit $2000. It’s a good thing we have 16 years to go – but that time is flying by.

The good news – kids don’t always separate you from your money – sometimes they actually help you keep some! Here are a few ways your kids will help fatten your wallet come tax time.

Let’s start with the famous Child Tax Credit. This credit is usually worth $1000 per qualifying child, depending on your income and other factors. Since it’s a credit, not a deduction, you get to subtract it from the amount you owe.

If you are married and filing jointly, you get a larger standard deduction. According to the IRS, “your tax may be lower than your combined tax for the other filing statuses.” You’ll also get some extra tax breaks that aren’t available to unmarried filers.

If you’re single, check into filing as head of household. This option is usually preferable to filing single because it offers lower tax rates and a higher standard deduction. If you’ve recently divorced, make sure you follow the divorce decree as to which parent gets to claim the kids for tax purposes.

If you’ve suffered the passing of your spouse, you could file as a qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child for two years following the death. This allows you the same benefits as a married filer.

Your dependent children count as exemptions on your tax return. The IRS sets an adjusted amount each year that you multiply by the number of exemptions you have. Then you subtract this number from your income.

If you pay for daycare, you may be able to get some of your money back – up to $3000 for one child (under 13 years) and $6000 for two or more.

Did you adopt your child? You may be able to get a tax credit for qualifying expenses, if your child is eligible.

This is not an exhaustive list. Make sure you talk with a tax professional to determine the best route for you and your family.

Now, back to thinking about saving for college!

Your Kids Can Save You Money at Tax Time

Posted By Shannon Martin On January 24, 2012 @ 5:03 pm In Family Focus,Taxes

Renters, Take Note: You Have Rights if You’re Landlord Faces Foreclosure

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Renters across the country have been in dismay over the past few years as wave after wave of foreclosures has crashed upon the market. The reason is obvious: If the landlord enters the foreclosure process and loses the mortgage, then the lender can evict the present occupant – regardless of any previous rental agreements between the former owner and the current tenant.

This has led to a lot of fear from renters who view their living situation as uncertain – particularly those who rent because they cannot otherwise afford to buy a home. Fortunately, renters have rights even if their landlords are facing foreclosure.

One key law that renters should know is the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, a measure signed into law in 2009 by President Obama. This law says that any renter caught in the middle during the foreclosure process can stay in the home for the duration of the lease. (There is one exception: If the buyer of the home at the foreclosure auction intends to live in the premises, the lease can be terminated with 90 days’ notice.)

If you are a month-to-month tenant, you will have no less than a 90 day notice before the lender clears the home through eviction. And if you have a lease agreement with a “just cause” protection from eviction clause, you are safe even if the home changes hands.

From a practical standpoint, renters also benefit from a clogged foreclosure process that is so weighed down with home foreclosures and distressed properties that the average tenant can stay there for months, even years, before having to leave.

This is especially true in states like Florida and New York, who both have judicial foreclosure procedures in place with an average timeline numbering in the years instead of months or weeks.

There is also the consideration that the lender – or even the new owner – does not want to evict you at all. Instead, the owner may prefer to keep a paying tenant in place, instead of having to find a new one or do something else with an investment property.

Finally, if a home is lost to foreclosure and the tenant has to leave, the tenant can sue the former landlord for damages in a small claims court because the landlord would have violated a clause known as “covenant of quiet enjoyment”. This basically means that the landlord will take all measures to ensure the tenant can enjoy and use the property without interference – including breaking the lease agreement. Foreclosure would accomplish exactly that, thus opening the landlord up to damages.

Renters, take note: You do have rights even if your landlord cannot stop foreclosure and loses the home.