Sunday, August 08, 2010

Retirement - Social Security is not...

All old Social Security cards had a "NOT FOR IDENTIFICATION" message.
Our Social Security have had that message removed.

Franklin Roosevelt, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program. He promised:

1.) That participation in the Program would be Completely voluntary,

It's no longer Voluntary

2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual Incomes into the Program,
now 7.65% on the first $90,000

3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year,

No longer tax deductible

4.) That the money the participants put into the independent 'Trust Fund' rather than into the general operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program, and,
under Lyndon Johnson's "Fair Deal" the money was moved to The General Fund and Spent

5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income.

Under William Clinton up to 85% of your Social Security can be Taxed

Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now nearing the time when we will be receiving a Social Security check every month and then finding that we are getting taxed on 85% of the money we paid to the Federal government to 'put away.'
I have never planned on depending on Social Security - it's always been a pipe dream meant for those who have their affairs in order to subsist in times like The Great Depression. As I understand it was supposed to go away in 1968, but was renewed as another governmental income stream.

I just recommend that whoever may be hoping to live off social security will make other plans before they get a rude awakening.
For me that has been rental homes, even in these tough times people are renting and paying their rent. My rental website is I bought primarily around the University of Tennessee, my reasoning was that during good times people send their children to school, during tough times a lot of people go back to school and make it though with school loans and other things like that. The Universities are no longer economical ways to house your students or yourself while you are attending school. I have always loved the area of downtown Knoxville, both North and South, so why not invest in some of the small homes with a ready market.

Investing during the good times has really helped me get through these tough times. I believe that our economy is beginning to pull itself out of this latest "Repression," as I've heard it called. When it does and if government doesn't continue making it nearly impossible for investors to get loans, I recommend you set up your own Independent Security, whether it's rental homes or another self-directed smart small business, it's how my grandparents got through the Depression and it is how we can survive in the future.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Rain Barrels and the city garden

Lowe's put up this cool little video on Rain Barrels and your city garden. I thought others might enjoy.


Locating the Rain Barrels

To start, choose a location for the barrels. It should be under a downspout in an unobtrusive area, like the backyard. Select a spot that’s level and a little higher than your yard. If you can’t do that, level the ground and position concrete blocks to elevate the barrels. The barrels will have to be high enough to allow you access with a watering can. If needed, you can also attach a small garden hose to the rain barrel spigot to easily fill your watering can.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A great article from on that pesky down payment money.

Zero down loans are (almost) entirely a thing of the past. While many wanna-be buyers are tucking their down payment pennies away, many of these folks feel that they’re missing out on deals in the meantime!

Here are my top 7 tips for coming up with those critical down payment funds:

Know how much you need to save. We all know that to reach a goal, you have to set a clear target. So, first things first: figure out exactly how much of a down payment you actually need. If you have a credit score of at least 620, you may be able to qualify for an FHA loan that only requires a 3.5% down payment. (For a $200,000 house, that’s $7,000.) Check in with your agent and mortgage broker regarding (a) whether you qualify for an FHA loan and (b) whether you’ll be able to find a property that works for you and for the FHA within the realm of what’s affordable for you.

It’s true – the conservative lending guidelines on FHA loans will limit how much you can spend, and require you to pay monthly private mortgage insurance (PMI), if you put less than 20% down. But PMI is tax deductible and eventually goes away. So what this really means is that you’ll more than likely end up with a mortgage payment that you can easily afford to pay for a long time to come. And it might be less house than you might be able to buy with a higher-down payment, less conservative loan, but less is more, people. Less is more (especially when it comes to mortgage payments!).

Also, while no-down-payment loans are almost extinct, there is a little tiny exception for borrowers employed in a certain set of professions: doctors, lawyers, dentists and C-suite executives of Fortune 500 companies are all potentially eligible for zero down professional loans offered by a couple of small, private banks. These loans do have the basic credit and income requirements, but they require ZERO down payment, because these professionals are perceived as posing a very low risk of foreclosure. In some cases, pros can qualify for up to $1 million with no down payment!

Save your dough in a high-interest online savings account. Regular bank savings accounts are paying right around .10% interest right now. Ally and SmartyPig are paying somewhere between 2 and 3 percent. Every little bit helps, right?

Sell your junk. eBay, anyone? Not only does selling the stuff you no longer need or use generate cash to put into the down payment kitty, it has the side effect of feeling almost like preparation for moving. Clear out your clutter, make room for your new life as a homeowner, and make a few bucks at the same time. That’s what I call a #WIN.

Get a side gig – Blogging, weekend table-waiting, baking, dog-walking – it’s not overkill to get a second job or start a small side business to power your help you either pay down your debt or save up for a

Borrow it from your city or state. The federal homebuyer tax credit is history, but many state and local governments still offer incentives for homebuyers in the form of down payment assistance programs. Most often, these are second mortgages with very low or no payments for 5, 10 or even 30 years (in Oakland, California, for example, the down payment loan doesn’t have to be repaid for 30 years or until you sell or move out). And many will help not just low-income buyers, but also those with moderate incomes, or anyone buying their first home!

Google and to see what your local government has on offer, and what it takes to qualify.

Borrow it from yourself! If you have a 401K or Roth IRA account and some years to go before retirement, you might be able to tap into it or even borrow against your own funds for your down payment. Currently, you can take up to $10,000 out of your Traditional IRA with no penalty to put toward the purchase of your first home, but you will be taxed. You can take as much as you want out of your Roth IRA contributions with no penalty or taxes, though, and as much as $10K from your earnings penalty-free for your down payment. The rules get a little tricky, here, so definitely check in with your tax and financial advisors.

And while you can’t similarly draw from your 401K, many retirement and pension plans
will allow you to borrow the money against your funds, then repay it to yourself – at interest. Hmmmm, pay your lender back with interest, or pay interest to yourself – choose you! But first, get some advice from your CPA or financial planner.

Get the gift that keeps on giving. Cash gifts from relatives are seen by many lenders as a legitimate resource for down payment funds. There are guidelines, though - some lenders require that you put your own money on top of a small cash gift (less than 5% of the purchase price); but will let you use gift money exclusively if the gift is 20% of the home's price or more. Also, most lenders require a "gift letter" documenting that the giver is your relative and is not expecting you to pay the money back.

Check in with your mortgage broker for a briefing on gift-money guidelines.

If it seem like a "gift" is a hard thing to come up with - don't dismiss the concept too soon. I know more than a few now-homeowners who had no clue where their down payment money would come from until they were reminded about gift money as a strategy, then cashed in long-ignored offers of help from parents, aunts and uncles.

Psst - you should follow Trulia and Tara on Facebook, too!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Politics: Let's not let them eliminate the Mortgage Interest Deduction

A couple hours ago Reuters reported that a panel appointed by President Obama recommended the end of tax breaks for things like Mortgage Interest Deduction. I don't know about your clients, but the this is one of the major reasons many of my clients want to own homes.

On one hand the government tries to spur home sales for a short period of time by offering the $8,000 tax credit - then they discuss finding ways to make homeownership less and less attractive. Not only is it irresponsible, it happened and was a huge failure in the 80s. Sure it would bring another windfall into the treasury - until people stopped buying houses.

I suggest calling your congressman and make sure they know the consequences to this action. I know I'm going to write mine:

John J. Duncan:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Preparing for Disaster

For Your Clients: 4 Steps toward Preparing Your Home for a Disaster

By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, July 22, 2010--It's hard to believe that it's already been five years since Hurricane Katrina devoured the Gulf Coast. While hurricanes are not preventable, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your property should disaster strike.

Here are four important steps to consider, according to the Insurance Information Institute:

STEP #1: Review Your Insurance Coverage
Be sure you have the right kind and amount of insurance, enough to rebuild your home and replace your belongings.

STEP #2: Create a Home Inventory
An up-to-date home inventory will speed up the claims process by substantiating losses and may provide documentation for tax purposes. It can also help you determine how much insurance to purchase. Visit to download software to help make this process easier.

STEP #3: Protect Your Property
Keeping wind and water out of your home is critical. Invest in storm-grade gutters and make sure that the best drainage away from your home is in place. Secure roof shingles and seal any openings, cracks and holes. Gable end walls and roof sheathing should be strongly attached and braced, and double doors should have heavy duty anchors at the top and bottom and a dead bolt at least 1” long.

STEP #4: Have an Evacuation Plan
Decide where you will go and how you will get there, and have more than one option. Keep a map, phone numbers and addresses handy. Think about what you’ll need to take with you — items like medicines, important documents, clothing and food — and have them ready to go.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


I have made reductions at three of the homes I have listed!

4904 Bay Street is now available at $114,900, 2610 Belvedere is now available at $39,500 and 2621 Fairview is now reduced to $99,900. All three of these are priced below market rates. I encourage you to check them out at or give me a call at 8658-385-9070 to take a look.