Real Estate Information Archive


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Tax Credit Repayment Begins For 2008 Montgomery Home Buyers

by The Hat Team

If you are among those who received a tax credit of up to $7500 when you purchased your Montgomery home in 2008, you are now required to begin repaying that credit with this year’s tax return. The entire amount is payable in 15 equal annual installments.

The IRS is sending letters of explanation of the repayment procedure to all taxpayers who claimed the credit in 2008. Generally speaking, all first-time 2008 home buyers will need to pay an additional $500 on their taxes from 2010 to 2025, provided the house is not sold before then and remains the owner’s primary residence.taxes

If you sell your Montgomery home before 2025, any profits will first go to paying back the tax credit in full. If you sell at a loss, the difference will be forgiven, although, as is typical with most forgiveness agreements, you must record that amount as income and pay taxes on it.

If, within 36 months after buying your home, the property is no longer used as your primary residence due to a divorce in which your spouse retains the house; conversion to rental property, a business, or a vacation home; or foreclosure, the full amount of the unpaid credit must be paid in full with the tax return for the year in which the change occurred. You will need to file IRS form 5405 with your return in this case.

Because individual situations vary, it is important for 2008 Montgomery home buyers to consult a qualified tax professional to make sure they are fulfilling all obligations of their purchase and subsequent credit.

7 Tips For Avoiding Foreclosure Of Your Montgomery AL Home

by The Hat Team

In our present economic situation, many people are currently facing the loss of their homes. However, because foreclosure is expensive for lenders, mortgage insurers, and investors, the FHA, HUD, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and private companies are being required to work with borrowers who are experiencing money problems. As a result, lenders do have workout options to help you keep your Montgomery AL home. Warning: Do not mistakenly assume that your mortgage situation will correct itself; you must take the steps suggested below to avoid, or at least forestall, foreclosure.

foreclosure1. ACT NOW! Time is of the essence. Do not ignore letters or calls from your lender. If you do, chances are that action to foreclose will begin quickly.

2. CONTACT YOUR LENDER:  When you reach the lender, you should be prepared to provide him/her with your account number; a brief explanation of your circumstances; income documents or evidence of unemployment, public assistance, or business losses; and a list of your household expenses. Ask about a reduced interest rate, refinancing, lengthening the term of the loan, and a repayment plan for missed payments. In all probability, the lender will mail you a loan workout package. It is important that you complete and return these forms quickly.

3. DO RESEARCH; Reread your loan documents to determine what is said about unpaid mortgage payments. Learn about specific foreclosure laws in your state Get in touch with the government housing office where you live.

4. CONSIDER SELLING: Lenders will most likely suspend foreclosure proceedings while your Montgomery AL home is on the market and possibly even eliminate mortgage payments during this time. Explore a short sale.  If the market value of your house is less than you owe, your lender may consider taking the sale proceeds and forgiving the rest of the debt. Or you might give your deed to the lender in return for the loan balance being cancelled. Check with an attorney or housing counselor before taking these actions.

5. BEWARE OF SCAMS! Avoid “foreclosure prevention” companies who offer to negotiate with your lender, will cost you thousands of dollars, and may even “rescue” your home away from you. Do not sign anything from these firms!

6. SET PRIORITIES: Pay the mortgage on your Montgomery AL home before paying credit card debts, doctor bills, or the like. Can you sell a second car or other assets? Could you take a second job to ease the situation? Your lender needs to know that you are serious about trying to find a solution to your financial problems and are willing to make sacrifices to do so.


        a. Get legitimate help. Contact a HUD approved housing counselor (1-800-569-3287) or 1-888-995-HOPE) for free or low-cost guidance. Help is also available from the National Foundation of Credit Counselors (1-866-557-2227). Also, check with your local bar association or a neighborhood legal services program for pro bono legal representation.

        b. Look into government benefits such as fuel assistance, food stamps, or property tax abatements to help you through this difficult period.

It is important that you be both aware and proactive in your fight to keep your Montgomery AL home!

Shopping From The Comfort Of Your Mongtomery Home

by The Hat Team

According to a national poll conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance, 68% of all Americans make purchases online. If you have not yet done so or are sometimes hesitant about online shopping because of security concerns, use the following tips to develop and maintain good cyber-shopping habits.

  1. santaMake sure that all security browsers on your computer are current and self-updating. The computer in your Mongtomery home is only as safe as you make it.
  2. NEVER give out your social security number!
  3. Use only secure and reputable websites. Secure websites add the letter “s” after http on their order page. Another indicator is a closed lock seen at the bottom of your screen.It is safer to use a website you’re familiar with or one found using a well-known search engine. You should also look for a physical address and customer service phone number, although those things are not always a guarantee of safety. To check on the reliability of a site, contact the Better Business Bureau.
  4. Limit the personal information you provide. In fact, because merchants sometimes sell your email address, you may wish to create an email account that you use only for online purchases. Also, use the same credit card for all online purchases to aid in tracking fraudulent transactions or a security breach.
  5. Check out shipping and handling charges before ordering. Merchants often add as much as 10%-15% of the product’s cost to your order.
  6. Print out copies of your order, shipping confirmation, etc. on your Mongtomery home computer.
  7. Be familiar with the return policy. Are returns allowed at all? Is there a time limit? Is there a “restocking” fee for returns? Who is responsible for paying shipping and handling on returns? If return information is not posted on the website, request that it be sent to you.
  8. Pay with a credit card. Paypal and debit cards require an immediate reporting of fraud in order to get your money back. Also, your liability for fraudulent credit card charges is zero when the card is used online. Check with your credit card company to see if they offer a virtual card, which masks out your real account number.

Cyber-shopping is fast and convenient. It provides you with a vast array of products from which to choose in the comfort of your Mongtomery home and allows you to shop at any hour.. Buying online can be an efficient and pleasurable experience if you remain web-wise and security-savvy.

Keeping Your Montgomery Home Safe During the Holidays

by The Hat Team

The scene we often envision at this time of year is one of family and friends sitting around a blazing fire with a brightly lighted tree, stockings hung from the mantel, and colorfully wrapped gifts adding to the cozy and festive atmosphere of your Montgomery home. A setting lovely to imagine--and to experience--but also one which requires awareness and safety precautions. Fires occurring during the holidays claim the lives of more than 400 Americans each year, and approximately 2 to 3 people per hour are treated in an emergency room due to “decorating” falls and other seasonal injuries.

At the time of year when lists--gift lists, menu lists, activities lists, and to do lists, e.g..--play such a large role in our lives, it is also necessary to establish a safety checklist to ensure an accident-free holiday for your family, guests, and even your pets. Suggestions for taking precautions include the following:


  • cookieInspect lights for damage and link no more than 3 strands together. Use only UL approved and only as directed--indoor lights should not be used outside. Beware of overloading outlets. Don’t leave on when you’re not home.
  • If you prefer a live tree, make certain it is fresh when you buy it and water, water, water!
  • Use non-flammable or flame retardant decorations.
  • Never leave lighted candles unattended, near combustible materials, or within reach of children or pets. Make certain to extinguish them before retiring for the night.


  • Place the tree in your Montgomery home at least 3 feet away from the fireplace.
  • Keep a screen in front of the fire to prevent flying sparks.
  • If you hang stockings from the mantel, be sure to remove them when the fireplace is in use.
  • Choose your decorating materials carefully, avoiding combustibles whenever possible. Make certain that ribbons and/or greenery are far from the flames.
  • Never burn wrapping paper in your fireplace and risk a flash fire.


  • When entertaining friends at your Montgomery home, be certain that you have childproofed your home--not just to protect breakables but also to protect young ones from matches, chemicals, or medicines.
  • Make sure that outside walkways and steps are well lighted at night.
  • Use nightlights in hallways and bathrooms.
  • Add non-slip mats in your tub and shower--and possibly grab bars for the older set.


  • Avoid feeding the cats or dogs which also reside in your Montgomery home food such as rich and fatty fowl meat, onions, grapes, raisins, or chocolate.
  • Do not give animals turkey bones as they will splinter and cause great damage.
  • Keep all trash out of reach. Better yet, take it outside frequently.
  • Because the arrival of guests, noise, and constant activity of the holidays can be quite stressful for a pet, be sensitive about giving it a quiet place and time alone. Exercise or play time is also useful, especially before company arrives.
  • As with children, keep pets away from lighted candles, fireplace flames, and the kitchen while cooking is going on.

Got all that? If so, relax and enjoy the season!

Be Prepared For Last Minute Showings Of Your Montgomery Home

by The Hat Team

For Sunday’s open house, your Montgomery home was in “show-ready” condition. With curb appeal at its finest, clutter nowhere to be seen, windows and appliances sparkling, and the aroma of freshly baked cookies wafting in the air, you were certain that potential buyers couldn’t help but be positively impressed.

However, now it’s midweek, and the house has fallen back into its “lived in” state. Clutter abounds, dishes are in the sink, laundry has piled up, and toys have proliferated montgomery homeovernight. What a time for your realtor to call to tell you that she wants to show your Montgomery home to very serious buyers in two or three hours! What to do? First, don’t panic. Take deep breath, walk through the house to identify trouble spots, and make a mental plan following these handy guidelines.

  • REMOVE CLUTTER FROM ALL FLAT SURFACES. It’s amazing how quickly items accumulate on the kitchen counters, coffee and side tables, bathroom vanities, dressers, desks, and nightstands and how negatively this disarray affects a buyer’s impression of your home. Straighten papers, put books on bookshelves, stack dishes in the dishwasher, collect newspapers, magazines, and sundry items in shopping bags or pillowcases and stash them--neatly-- in your garage or storage shed--or even in the trunk of your car!  Do not try to hide gathered items in your closet or cabinets because people touring your home will definitely be opening the doors to those areas. Also, be sure that your stairs are clear and clutter-free and that piles of dirty laundry are hidden from sight in the washer and/or dryer. 
  • DUST, SWEEP, AND VACUUM.  Don’t forget mirrors, wood furniture, or television and monitor screens in your dusting efforts. Also be aware of the need to remove animal hair from sofas and chairs (and perhaps the animals could stay with a neighbor during the visitation). In the living room, arrange area rugs and fluff throw pillows.
  • MAKE YOUR KITCHEN AND BATHROOM SPARKLE. A quick once-over with Windex will polish your appliances, glass doors on the microwave and cabinets, and chrome faucets.. “Scrub” the sinks/shower/tub with a spray product especially designed to rapidly remove a grimy film and produce a shine. Replace “used” towels with clean ones.  Too much personal "stuff" on the refrigerator door?  Take it off.
  • LET THERE BE LIGHT; Turn on all your lights and open curtains, drapes, and blinds. Apply a quick cleaning spray and wipe any really dirty windows, and, weather permitting, open a window or two for some fresh air. You might also burn lightly scented candles or spray the house with Fabreeze or a similar product to remove potential odors.
  • CHECK ON CURB APPEAL: Remembering that the exterior of your Montgomery home and your yard create the first impression for home buyers, clear all walkways and porches (and sweep if necessary). Remove all toys, sports equipment, lawnmowers, rakes, etc. Pick up any litter or animal waste on the premises. If you have the time, give your plants a quick spray with the hose.

And there you have it! In a rather short amount of time and without backbreaking effort, your house has reassumed its show-worthy state of Sunday, and you can be confident that the potential home buyers won’t realize that they were “unexpected” and that they will be duly impressed with the condition of your Montgomery home.

How To Make Your Montgomery Home Inviting To Buyers

by The Hat Team

Although the interior of your home may be lovely, you can’t use that fact to your advantage if potential buyers don’t come inside to see it. The majority of house shoppers are influenced by first impressions, and, according to the National Association of Realtors, nearly 50% of them make their decision about your Montgomery home before stepping through the door. Ensuring that prospective buyers will want to see more doesn’t have to be time-consuming or cost-prohibitive; there are numerous ways to strengthen your home’s curb appeal, to capture the interest of buyers, and most likely increase the selling value.

montgomery homeWhen selling your Montgomery home, appearances are important. The exterior of the house should be attractive and in good condition, and the well-maintained grounds should be pleasing to the eye. The first thing to do is to look at the exterior objectively. Assess the color scheme (siding, trim, brick, roof) and determine if the architectural features of your house are in keeping with the rest of the neighborhood.

  • Perhaps the easiest way to boost curb appeal is to clean. Pressure wash to remove mold and mildew from siding, decks, walkways, and driveways. Make sure that your windows sparkle and remember to wash the screens. Gutters, too, may need cleaning--or replacing. Investigate snap-fit vinyl systems, decorative rain chains, or even a copper system for a high quality look.
  • Another way to generate interest in your Montgomery home is to pay attention to the grounds. Remove weeds, keep lawns mowed, and trim shrubs and trees. Add color by planting flowers and mulching (now available in a variety of colors) around plants and bushes. Prune areas which may appear overgrown or obscure architectural features which should be showcased and look at your landscaping design with a discerning eye.
  • Consider adding more trees--for three reasons. In addition to making the grounds more attractive, tree cover can also result in lower utility and water bills and increase your home’s selling value. Shop for trees which grow well in Montgomery, provide variety in color and texture (fruit trees, Japanese maple and birch trees, for example), and are water efficient. Most area nurseries will gladly offer expert advice in selecting trees to improve your landscape plan.
  • An inviting entrance will also impress buyers. Your front door may need repainting or replacing since it should be an attractive focal point of your property. Think about color and design as well as hardware when making improvements. Polish or replace knobs, knockers, doorbells, and kick plates. Purchase a distinctive welcome mat and investigate the need for outdoor lighting. Porch, garden, and walkway lights not only enhance the landscape’s appearance, they also help to provide safety and security (a good selling point!).
  • And finally, spruce up the front porch or landing. Brightly colored plant/flower containers and hanging baskets add pizazz, as do a freshly painted porch floor and outdoor furniture. An eye-catching entranceway certainly helps ensure that buyers will gladly accept your invitation to come inside your Montgomery home.

What's your Montgomery home worth?

Changes Coming To FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums

by The Hat Team

Congress has authorized FHA to change the amount charged to borrowers for both the Up Front and the Annual Mortgage Insurance (MI) premiums. These changes as outlined in Mortgagee Letter 2010-28, are effective for all FHA case numbers assigned on or after October 4th, 2010.

Here are the six things you need to know about these changes if you are buying a Montgomery home:

  1. montgomery homeThe MI premium changes apply to purchases, regular refinances and streamline refinances only (reverse mortgages have different MI premium changes).

  2. The current Up Front MI premium is 2.25% of the loan amount and the new Up Front MI premium will be 1.0% of the loan amount for all standard FHA programs.

  3. The current monthly MI premium is .55% and the new monthly MI premium will be .90% if the Loan-to-Value is GREATER than 95% on 30 year loans. Since most buyers put only the minimum 3.5% down this applies to most loans.

  4. The current monthly MI premium is now .50% for Loan-to-Values EQUAL to or LESS than 95% on 30 year loans and the new monthly MI premium will be .85%.

  5. The Annual premium is now .25% for Loan-to-Values GREATER than 90% on 15 year loans.
  6. There is no monthly MI premium Loan-to-Values EQUAL to or LESS than 90% on 15 year loans.

FHA is still a fantastic loan program and appropriate for many Montgomery home buyers to qualify as FHA is more lenient on credit scores than conventional loans. The reduction in upfront MI (which is typically financed into the loan) is terrific since this was a big chunk of the down payment. However, the hike in the monthly MI will definitely make conventional loans with Private Mortgage Insurance more attractive again for those buyers who can qualify for either loan option.

Future Increases

This new law also gives FHA the authority to raise the Annual MI premium, at will, up to 1.5% for Loan-to-Values at or below 95% and 1.55% for Loan-to-Value more than 95%. If that were to occur, FHA loans would be far less competitive than conventional PMI.

If you have questions about the changes to the Up Front and Annual MI premiums and how it will impact your Montgomery home purchase or refinance, please feel free to give me a call so we can discuss over the phone.

Go Green For a Faster Montgomery Home Sale

by The Hat Team

Many of today’s buyers in the market for a Montgomery home are looking for one that is eco-friendly. They want a house that is energy-efficient and combats detriments to the environment. Listed below are some relative easy to do and cost-efficient ways you can appeal to potential eco-conscious buyers.

1. Insulate. Insulate. Insulate.
green homeUse pipe insulators to keep hot water hot for a longer time and a hot water heater blanket ($10.00 to $20.00) to both prevent temperature loss and reduce the amount of electricity/gas needed to maintain the water temperature. Be aware that the further heat or air conditioning has to travel, the greater the temperature loss. Insulating your heating and cooling ducts can prevent up to 60% of this loss. Remember that even a small area of inadequate or damaged insulation can greatly reduce efficiency.

2. Reduce heating/cooling expenses.
Replace or clean all filters on a regular basis to reduce inefficiency. Eliminate all sources of drafts by checking windows, doors, electrical outlets, fireplaces, and attic floors for leaks (even small cracks lead to energy loss) and by using caulking or weather stripping to seal them. In addition, for a cost of $200 to $400, you can run a blower door test to discover the main, and many times hidden, sources of energy leaks in your home.

It is also important to schedule a HVAC cleaning/checkup every two years and to investigate the need for a programmable thermostat to save energy while you sleep or are away from home. If your windows, aging appliances, furnace, or hot water heater needs to be replaced, you should certainly consider purchasing ENERGY STAR products to save 10% to 30% of the usual operating costs.

3. Consume less water.
Since your Montgomery home is located in a resort area, water bills are generally high. Take steps to reduce this expense by installing low flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators.

4. Don’t ignore the outside.
Planting shade trees and shrubs in strategic locations on the grounds of your Montgomery home can lower your cooling costs by as much as 25%, and because they also act as wind barriers, your heating costs can be reduced by up to 20%. In addition, the leafless trees will allow sunshine through in the winter (good for mental health as well as warmth). Also consider water conservation when landscaping. Look for lawn grasses and plants that are drought resistant and natural to the area.

The “Go Green” slogan is not a passing fad. Realistic buyers, who are both cost-conscious and ecologically aware, want to own a Montgomery home that reduces their day-to-day utility expenses and allows them to play a part in preserving the environment. The purchase of a green home benefits both the buyer and the seller in today’s market.

Learn more about buying a Montgomery home.

Search all Montgomery homes for sale.

Steps For a Stress-free Move To a Montgomery Home

by The Hat Team

If you are moving to a Montgomery home, you can, with prior planning and these tips, make your move a smooth, less stressful experience. After you have gathered recommendations from friends and checked out moving companies on the web, you should narrow your choices to three or four. At this point you can avoid moving mistakes by using these guidelines to make informed, intelligent choices.

montgomery home1. Insist on an in-home survey and estimate. Movers have to actually see what needs to be moved and be aware of items requiring special attention, such as pianos or valued art pieces. In addition, by meeting the mover’s representative in person, you can get a feel for the way customers are treated by the company. It is also important that you disclose at this time any details, such as elevator availability, street restrictions, etc., to avoid unpleasant surprises on moving day.

2. Beware of too low a price. While price is certainly a major consideration in making your selection, you need to question a low-ball estimate. Are there hidden charges? Is the firm reliable? Does it value your business? Is it a licensed, insured mover? Is there a record of customer complaints?

3. Avoid the busy season. Good moving companies are especially busy in the summer and in the first and fourth weeks of the month. Plan ahead and reserve early to get the mover and time frame you want. Remember that the best deals can usually be found in the winter and in the second and third weeks of the month.

4. Sign a contract. Do not begin a move without first signing a binding agreement which spells out all the services you are to receive and the total amount you’ll be expected to pay. Do you have insurance options? What is the charge for that? If you’re not comfortable with the document, trust your instinct and don’t sign!

5. Have a budget. Be informed and realistic about your overall moving costs. Be sure to include travel to your Montgomery home, any hotel and meals expenses, auto transport, and insurance.

6. Do unto others… Your movers will respond well to smiles and a positive attitude

They also appreciate offers of coffee, water, soft drinks, and tips for quality service.

The city has many reputable and reliable moving companies who want your business and will work with you to make your moving experience as stress-free as possible. By following these six steps, your relocation to your new Montgomery home can actually be rewarding!

Sprucing Up Your Montgomery Home

by The Hat Team

Interior Painting Tips

Whether your desire for a new look inside your Montgomery home is because of the arrival of spring or because you hope to hasten the sale of your house, you may be considering repainting in the near future.

While painting can be a long, and sometimes unrewarding, task, professional painters and expert “do-it-yourself-ers” alike agree on ways to make the process less frustrating and more likely to produce a finished product you’ll be proud of. Basically, these tips center around organization, preparation, and patience.


montgomery homePurchase all necessary supplies in advance. Include paint, brushes, rollers, and drop cloths on your list. Most pros advise using a canvas drop cloth because it absorbs drips and spills better than plastic, can be more easily contoured around corners, will lie flatter, and can be reused often. Consider buying a canvas runner (4’x15’) which can be more easily moved.

Set up a work station in the middle of the room. This is the place to keep your paint, brushes and rollers, spackle, hammers and screwdrivers,  cleaning rags, plastic sheets and bags, painter’s tape, paint can opener, etc. Think of everything you might possibly need while painting and gather them together in this one place.

Take everything down from your walls. Remove furniture completely or, if that’s not possible, move it all to the center of the room and cover with a cloth.

Remove all hardware from the surfaces to be painted in your Montgomery home. This includes switch plates, outlet covers, doorknobs, and light fixtures.  Place the pieces from each one in a separate small plastic bag and label each one


Patch all cracks and holes before painting.

Apply blue painter’s tape around doors and windows.

Prime the walls! This step is key to good results since primer blocks stains from bleeding through, improves adhesion of the main coat, reduces blisters, and generally assures one-coat coverage of the topcoat.

Tint the primer or use a pre-tinted primer. This is a especially helpful if you are using lighter colored paint to cover dark walls in your Montgomery home.  Tinting can be done by mixing a small amount of your topcoat color with the primer. (Be sure you don’t mix latex and oil-based paints together!)

Handy hint: You can eliminate the strong smell of paint by adding a drop of vanilla extract to both the primer and the topcoat.


Use a roller extension pole. A telescoping pole will do away with the need for a ladder and will allow you to reach those high places without much exertion.

Rather than using a roller tray (so easily spilled or jostled), look into getting a paint grid for use in a 5 gallon bucket. The grid fits into the bucket, removes excess paint from the roller, and eliminates the need for cleaning each time you stop painting.


Remembering what colors you have used and when is important. Writing this information on the paint can is one way to job your memory, but a better way may be to write all the pertinent information on a piece of masking tape which you adhere to the back of a light switch.

Another tip: before you put the paint away, pour some into a small jar for touch-ups later on.  Of course, you must label these jars, too.

So, organize, prepare, and be patient--and enjoy the fresh new look inside your Montgomery home!

What's your Montgomery home worth?

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 42




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