Posts Tagged ‘Homes for Sale’

Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the 3.8% Tax

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Learn the most important takeaways for REALTORS® when it comes to the 3.8% tax that’s part of health care reform:

1.) When you add up all of your income from every possible source, and that total is less than $200,000 ($250,000 on a joint tax return), you will not be subject to this tax.

2.) The 3.8% tax will never be collected as a transfer tax on real estate of any type, so you’ll never pay this tax at the time that you purchase a home or other investment property.

3.) You’ll never pay this tax at settlement when you sell your home or investment property. Any capital gain you realize at settlement is just one component of that year’s gross income.

4.) If you sell your principal residence, you will still receive the full benefit of the $250,000 (single tax return)/$500,000 (married filing joint tax return) exclusion on the sale of that home. If your capital gain is greater than these amounts, then you will include any gain above these amounts as income on your Form 1040 tax return. Even then, if your total income (including this taxable portion of gain on your residence) is less than the $200,000/$250,000 amounts, you will not pay this tax. If your total income is more than these amounts, a formula will protect some portion of your investment.

5.) The tax applies to other types of investment income, not just real estate. If your income is more than the $200,000/$250,000 amount, then the tax formula will be applied to capital gains, interest income, dividend income and net rents (i.e., rents after expenses).

6.) The tax goes into effect in 2013. If you have investment income in 2013, you won’t pay the 3.8% tax until you file your 2013 Form 1040 tax return in 2014. The 3.8% tax for any later year will be paid in the following calendar year when the tax returns are filed.

7.) In any particular year, if you have no income from capital gains, rents, interest or dividends, you’ll never pay this tax, even if you have millions of dollars of other types of income.

8.) The formula that determines the amount of 3.8% tax due will always protect $200,000 ($250,000 on a joint return) of your income from any burden of the 3.8% tax. For example, if you are single and have a total of $201,000 income, the 3.8% tax would never be imposed on more than $1,000.

9.) It’s true that investment income from rents on an investment property could be subject to the 3.8% tax. But: The only rental income that would be included in your gross income and therefore possibly subject to the tax is net rental income: gross rents minus expenses like depreciation, interest, property tax, maintenance and utilities.

10.) The tax was enacted along with the health care legislation in 2010. It was added to the package just hours before the final vote and without review. NAR strongly opposed the tax at the time, and remains hopeful that it will not go into effect. The tax will no doubt be debated during the upcoming tax reform debates in 2013.

New HARP 2 Streamlined Application Rules

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have adopted changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), and you may be eligible to take advantage of these changes.

There is a new refinance program that went into effect in early Jan 2012 that allows underwater homeowners the ability to refinance into a lower interest rate, regardless of their Loan-to-Value (LTV).

Referred to as HARP 2.0, DU Refi Plus and the Obama Refinance Plan, the Home Affordable Refinance Program is a federal program under Making Home Affordable that is intended to help 4-7 million responsible homeowners lower their mortgage rates.

Below is a list of questions to help determine if you are potentially eligible for a HARP refinance:

  • Is your home loan owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?
  • Was your loan sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before May 31, 2009?
  • Are you current on your mortgage payments?
  • Do you owe more than your home is worth, or is there minimal equity in your home?
  • Have you made all of your mortgage payments on time in the last 6 months?
  • Streamlined application process: Borrowers will apply through a streamlined process designed to make it simpler and less expensive for borrowers and lenders to refinance. Borrowers will not be required to submit a new appraisal or tax return. To determine a borrower’s eligibility, a lender need only confirm that the borrower is employed. (Those who are not employed may still be eligible if they meet the other requirements and present limited credit risk. However, a lender will need to perform a full underwriting of these borrowers to determine whether they are a good fit for the program.)

    For more info go to


    Thanks for reading this blog and I welcome your comments.

    -Sylvia E. Miller
    Cell: 805-448-8882

    Remember my virtual compatriots, until we blog again, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (from Monty Python)!

    Brokers’ Confidence in Market Increases

    Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

    By Inman News.

    Real estate brokerage executives are increasingly confident about housing markets and the economy. That’s according to a “Thought Leader” survey of more than 850 brokerage executives at leading franchises and independent brokerage firms that handled more than one-third of U.S. residential real estate transactions last year.

    The survey, conducted in September by real estate marketing technology firm Imprev Inc., found 81.5 percent of brokerage executives were more confident about the housing market than they were in January.

    Most (70.8 percent) said they were “highly confident” (6.2 percent) or “confident” (64.6 percent) that the housing market would continue to improve in the next 12 months, compared to 30.8 percent who said they were “less than confident.”

    Survey question: How confident are you that the housing market will continue to improve in the next 12 months?
    Less than confident
    Highly confident
    Not confident at all

    Source: Imprev Inc.

    Thanks for reading this blog and I welcome your comments.

    -Sylvia E. Miller
    Cell: 805-448-8882

    Remember my virtual compatriots, until we blog again, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (from Monty Python)!

    All the Tenant Screening Tools Landlords Need.

    Friday, September 21st, 2012

    For Your Credit Screening Needs…

    TransUnion SmartMove®

    TransUnion SmartMove®

    TransUnion SmartMove℠ – a web-based solution provides independent landlords with access to the same screening tools used by the largest property management groups. It’s fast and convenient…Check it out at TransUnion SmartMove℠

    Thanks for reading this blog and I welcome your comments.

    -Sylvia E. Miller
    Cell: 805-448-8882

    Remember my virtual compatriots, until we blog again, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (from Monty Python)!


    Thursday, August 30th, 2012


    How Many Homes Did Most Buyers View Before Buying?

    Tuesday, August 28th, 2012
    Home Buying Process

    Home Buying Process

    Thanks for reading this blog and I welcome your comments.

    -Sylvia E. Miller
    Cell: 805-448-8882

    Remember my virtual compatriots, until we blog again, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (from Monty Python)!

    Beautiful Santa Barbara Beach Cottage

    Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
    Santa Barbara Beach Cottage

    Santa Barbara Beach Cottage

    Recently listed for sale, the beauty of Santa Barbara awaits you in this exquisitely designed cottage on Shoreline Drive, featured in Coastal Living Magazine. Ideally located with fantastic views of the ocean & islands, it is across from the park & steps to the beach. High-end quality throughout. Don’t miss this one!

    If you would like more information or schedule a viewing appointment, please contact veteran Santa Barbara Realtor®, Sylvia Miller,; cell: 805-448-8882.

    This Property is listed by Santa Barbara MLS Participating Member: Village Properties. The data relating to real estate for sale on this site comes from the Broker Reciprocity/IDX program of Santa Barbara Multiple Listing Service.

    Thanks for reading this blog and I welcome your comments.

    -Sylvia E. Miller
    Cell: 805-448-8882

    Remember my virtual compatriots, until we blog again, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (from Monty Python)!

    Santa Barbara Home Sales Statistics Jan-Oct 2010

    Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

    Santa Barbara home sales during October 2010 for all Santa Barbara communities, including all neighborhoods of the city of Santa Barbara, Montecito, Hope Ranch, Carpinteria, Summerland and Goleta declined from the activity seen during September. While the number of sales have declined 6 out of the last 7 months, there is good news. Two out of the last three months have seen more than 90 newly opened escrows. With this surge in pending home escrows, sales should remain strong through the remaining months of 2010. The median sales price decreased slightly from $879,000 in September to $864,000 in October; and the average sales price increased from $1.57 million in September to $1.63 million in October.

    Time Period: 10/01/10-10/31/10

    Property Type: Homes (excluding condos)
    Areas Included: The greater Santa Barbara area, including Santa Barbara, Montecito, Hope Ranch, Carpinteria/Summerland and Goleta.


    • Number of Closed Sales: 65, sales down from 74 in Sept ’10.
    • Median Sales Price: $864,000, down from $879,000 Sept in  ’10.
    • Average Sales Price: $1.63 million, up from $1.58 million in Sept ’10.
    • Sales Price to Original List Price Ratio: 80%, down from 92% in Sept ’10.
    • Number of Pended Escrows: 96, up from 78 in Sept ’10.
    • Total Inventory: 584 homes, down from 629 in Sept ’10.
    • Number of New Listings: 115, down from 138 in Sept ’10.
    • Median List Price of New Listings: $995,000, up from $975,000 in Sept ’10.
    • Median List Price of Overall Inventory: $1.5 million, same as $1.5 million in Sept ’10.
    Santa Barbara Home Sales October 2010

    Santa Barbara Home Sales Year To Date as of October 31, 2010

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    Santa Barbara Median Sales Price Year to Date as of October 31, 2010

    Santa Barbara Median Sales Price Year to Date as of October 31, 2010

    Thanks for reading this blog and I welcome your comments.

    -Sylvia E. Miller
    Cell: 805-448-8882

    Remember my virtual compatriots, until we blog again, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” (from Monty Python)!

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    Sylvia Elizabeth Miller
    , ‘The Right Realtor® For You’
    Coastal Properties, Inc
    1086 Coast Village Rd,
    Santa Barbara, CA 93108
    Email: ~ Cell:
    805-448-8882 ~ Toll Free: 877-San-Barb

    Santa Barbara Real Estate Connection

    Santa Barbara Real Estate Connection

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    © Copyright Sylvia E. Miller, Sylvia Miller Real Estate Services Blog 2010. All rights reserved.
    California Department of Real Estate #: 00558548

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    Santa Barbara Listings Offering Owner Financing To Buyers. – Part I

    Thursday, October 7th, 2010

    ‘Seller Financing’, ‘Seller Carry Back’, ‘Owner Will Carry’, ‘Taking Back the Note’ are all descriptions of the ever growing home financing opportunities across the country, in California, and now in Santa Barbara. Homeowners rarely contemplate personally financing the sale of their home, however in tight credit markets, owner financing can be a very powerful sales tool. A seller-financed real estate transaction is simply a sale where the owner operates as the ‘bank’ and where the buyer makes their payment directly to the seller.

    Seller Financing - Loan Approved!

    Seller financing offers many advantages to both buyer and seller:


    • Easy Qualification. Credit requirements may be a little more flexible.
    • Less Paperwork. More flexibility on the loan documents.
    • No Loan Costs. Substantial savings in closing costs.
    • Seller Flexibility. Owners can be more flexible if buyers get in trouble.


    • Pool of Buyers. Properties become more appealing to the growing pool of ‘credit-challenged’ buyers in today’s market.
    • Fast Closing. Owners can move a property more quickly.
    • Highest Price. Typically, when offering flexible owner-finance terms, sellers receiver higher prices. Buyers frequently are willing to pay a premium for non-qualifying financing.
    • Tax Benefit. An installment sale of real estate allows for the deferral of capital gain recognition. Always consult your tax professional regarding the impact of real estate on your tax liability.

    In down markets, those sellers who are able to offer flexible terms to get their real property sold and closed often are at a significant advantage to sell their home quickly. This can potentially result in a larger pool of buyers; more profit; hopefully help the seller avoid chasing a falling market, and ideally lead to a quicker sale.

    Are you looking to buy a home in or near Santa Barbara but have been unable to qualify for conventional bank financing? If you have a reasonable down payment, the ability to make monthly payments, buying a home in Santa Barbara may still be a reality. As more Santa Barbara sellers offer owner financing to attract buyers, the opportunities for you to buy a great property in Santa Barbara may no longer be just a dream.

    If your Santa Barbara home ownership dream has been on hold, consider contacting Sylvia Miller. She can help you buy an owner-financed Santa Barbara home.

    1402 Grand Ave, Santa Barbara, CA - Owner Financing Available!

    The following are two examples of Santa Barbara homes currently offered for sale with owner financing available. See photo at left.

    Property One:
    1402 Grand Ave, Santa Barbara, CA – $2475,000

    Stunning 180 degree views & an exquisite house! Every room is done with Italian stone, custom wooden beams & cabinetry and hand cast faux plaster walls. This classic estate was rebuilt from the ground up in 2002, and is one of the largest properties in the City with over 5 acres, walking trails, & 600 ft tree-lined driveway. Separate guest house 1bed/1bath.

    897 Park Lane West - Owner Financing Available!

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    Property Two:
    897 Park Lane West, Santa Barbara, CA – $3,950,000

    Panoramic ocean, island, Santa Barbara Harbor, & Santa Ynez Mountain views. Quiet, private road access in Montecito’s exclusive Golden Quadrangle. Outstanding custom features, including cathedral ceiling, stone fireplace, wood floors, wine rack wall. Master Suite with sitting area & fireplace. Fiber glass lined solar heated pool, rem control Jacuzzi spa.

    If you would like to see either of these beautiful properties, or others, please contact Sylvia Miller, cell: 805-448-8882, or email her at

    If you would like more information on other owner-financed properties within Santa Barbara, Montecito, Carpinteria and Summerland, Goleta, Hope Ranch, and the Santa Ynez Valley, please contact me,, cell: 805-448-8882.

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    © Copyright Sylvia E. Miller, Sylvia Miller Real Estate Services Blog 2010. All rights reserved.

    Want to brighten up your day? Adopt a Chihuahua!

    Sunday, April 4th, 2010
    ChaCha, Official Mascot of SBC

    ChaCha, Official Mascot of SBC

    Chihuahuas have gotten a bad rap as far as dog breeds go. As an owner of two of these adorable creatures, and someone who knows a lot of other people who own them as well, it blows my mind that anyone could think of them as “yappy” or mean dogs. I am going to tell you all the reasons why Chihuahuas make the perfect addition to almost any family.

    Most people consider dogs to be extremely loyal animals; after all, they are “man’s best friend”. Chihuahuas however are known for their devotion to their owners. They will also adapt to your lifestyle. If you want to play, they will run around surely put a smile on your face. On the other hand, if you feel like just hanging out, they will lie next to you or in your lap and be perfectly happy as well. They also interact well with other dogs, both inside and outside their breed.

    They are small. Some people just don’t like small dogs, and that’s fine, but there are a lot of advantages to dogs that don’t take up much space. One of these is that they don’t take up much space. They can live comfortably with you in practically any living situation. Also they can’t do very much damage to your home. Other than accidents on the carpet there is not much they can do to damage your things.

    Please Adopt a Chihuahua!

    Just look at that face. Chihuahuas are so cute; they can just brighten up your day. Their large eyes, which give new meaning to the concept of “puppy dog eyes”, give their faces so much expression and personality. There are different types of Chihuahuas as well. There is the toy or teacup, which are the tiniest of all, the short-haired, probably most commonly attributed to the “Taco Bell dog”, and the long-haired version. They also come in several different colors.

    They make great guard dogs. While their bark is much, much worse than their bite, Chihuahuas are extremely protective and territorial. Their impeccable hearing allows them to hear things that you or I normally wouldn’t. They will know someone is coming up to the door long before their owners will, and the dogs will let the “intruder” know that they have been spotted as well. Once they are used to a person coming into “their” house though, they will be just as sweet as can be.

    They are portable. A lot of dogs love to go for rides in the car, and Chihuahuas are no different. Because of their size, it is very easy to scoop them up and have them keep you company on short, or even long trips.

    I have come to believe that people who think Chihuahuas are mean dogs, probably don’t know too much about them and certainly can’t have owned one before. If you are considering adding a dog to your family, I urge you not to overlook this beautiful, loving, and playful breed.

    Santa Barbara is home to many wonderful, caring individuals and groups who strive to better the lives of animals in need. Following is a list of many of our local Rescue Groups and Humane Societies which benefit animals in the Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, and Ventura County areas.

    Local Santa Barbara Area Animal Rescue Groups

    1. K-9 Pals at the Santa Barbara Animal Shelter.
    2. The Ventura County Animal Shelter in Camarillo
      Note that they currently have 49 darling Chihuahuas available for adoption, please rescue one and your life will be so much happier!
    3. Dog Adoption and Welfare Group (DAWG)
      Volunteer organization that cares for dogs and puppies. DAWG is located next door to the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter at 5480 Overpass Rd.
      PO Box 92210, Santa Barbara, CA 93190, (805) 681-0561,
    4. Santa Barbara Humane Society
      Provides animal assistance in SLO and SB counties., (805) 544-0984
    5. HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team)
      An all volunteer, non-profit group on the Central Coast dedicated to the rescue, neuter, fostering and adoption of abandoned and forgotten pets. Where cold noses meet warm hearts!
      PO Box 1394, Cambria, CA 93428 (805) 772-HART or (805) 927-RESQ,
      Visit HART’S new Pet Rescue, Adoption and Supply Center located at 1500 Main St. in Cambria, California.
    6. Humane Society of Ventura County
      Assisting animals in the Ventura and Ojai areas.
      402 Bryant Street, Ojai, CA, (805) 656-5031
    7. Santa Ynez Humane Society
      Assisting animals in need in the Santa Ynez Valley.
      111 Commerce Dr., Buellton, CA, (805) 688-8224
    8. Santa Barbara’s Craigslist
      A great resource to find pets of all kinds to adopt and help.
    9. “I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us and trusting as a child they are, and we must be kind and take care of their needs…[They] are an obligation put on us, a responsibility we have no right to neglect, nor to violate by cruelty.”
      -James Harriot, Author, “All Creatures Great and Small”