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Working with Lenders

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Working with Lenders


Referral from friends and family can offer extensive knowledge about a specific lender. Loan processes can change from lender to lender, therefore, understanding the processes of your lender beforehand is extremely beneficial.

Research your lender

From above, it should be noted that having the necessary information before you meet with a prospect lender is vital. Furthermore, if you cannot find a referral or recommendation, research information about the different types of mortgages and ask questions about items that seem to peculiar. Asking questions like this may impede the broker from adding closing costs and other fees at your expense. During peak season the possibility of tricky lenders that give fake rates and extra costs goes up. That is why it serves you a great deal to research your lender and the different types of mortgages.

Check their Professional Standing

Lastly, check the credentials of the different mortgage banks and brokers. Most often, regulations do not affect mortgage brokers. If so, check with the local chapter of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers or Better Business Bureau to see if they have a clean record. These resources will give you a better understanding of your lenders professional standing and will make you a more informed shopper. Same goes for online shopping for lenders. It can’t be stressed enough to shop cautiously online. Online deals may seem attractive but more than likely are hiding extra fees and costs.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any and all real estate questions. We can be found on the web at or on Facebook at

Todd Moeller

Seven Gables Real Estate


Tax Breaks for Homeowners

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Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Homeowners can acquire several tax breaks but most are clueless about such benefits. Two important tax breaks ‘homeowners can use are on mortgage interest and selling your home.

Claiming Mortgage Interest

Claiming mortgage interest is one of the most common deductions among taxpayers and has been evolving for the last 10 years. Recently, a cap of $1.1 million mortgage debt has made it possible for more deductions on first mortgages and even second homes. The deduction also covers multiple loans, therefore, individuals with a summer home in California and a primary home in Utah can claim interest on both, as long as the total is under $1.1 million.

However, it is important to note that claiming a mortgage deduction on home equity loans that will not be used to improve the property. For example, if you refinanced your loan but don’t use the money to build a pool, that money will not be fully deductible.

Selling Your Home and Tax Breaks

If you decide to take advantage of the resurging housing market and sell your home, tax benefits are also available. If you sold your home in the past year, advertising, real estate broker fees, insurance, and certain repairs to reduce your capital gains on the sale can all be claimed on your return.

When you find a new home take note of the distance it is from your old home. If it is located more than 50 miles away from your old home, you may be able to deduct your moving expenses.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any and all real estate questions. We can be found on the web at or on Facebook at

Todd Moeller

Seven Gables Real Estate


Tax Tips for Freelance Workers

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Tax Tips for Freelance Workers

Are you getting paid as an independent contractor? If so, it’s likely that taxes are not being taken of your pay. Depending on how much you make you could be hit with a painful tax bill during tax season. Therefore, it is vital that you plan ahead.

First, take all the possible deductions that you legally can take. Consult with a tax professional so they can find the necessary deductions.

Second, make sure to keep accurate records by saving all of your business related expenses receipts, paychecks, electronic pay-stubs, etc. They will be helpful for your tax professional when preparing your taxes and may be needed if you are audited.

Third, if you make a large income from you freelance work, a large tax liability may be in the midst. To make sure you aren’t underpaying taxes increase your withholdings from any taxed income that your receive from other income such as your full time job or spouse’s paycheck.

Fourth, you can save a percentage of your freelance income each month for taxes. Put aside a percentage of your income each month specifically for the purpose of paying your annual tax liability. So when your tax professional calculates the tax due on your tax return you will have the money set aside. 20% is the recommended amount and usually enough to cover their tax bills but it also a good idea to consult with a tax professional how much you should put aside.

SOMA, San Francisco’s Other Gayborhood

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Apple Maps

Encompassing a vast, architecturally and demographically diverse tract of central San Francisco that extends from the Mission District to the bay, SoMa — defined as the area south of Market Street — is an urban swath containing everything from shiny new loft condos to vintage refurbished warehouses, you’ll find a vibrant stretch of waterfront on the bay, the culturally dynamic Yerba Buena Gardens complex, stylish hotels, the heart of the city’s leather-and-Levi’s queer scene, established gay dance clubs in the country, and trendy eateries.

Day or night, there’s plenty to see and do in SoMa. Although LGBT tourists often look to the Castro as San Francisco’s must-see gayborhood, SoMa’s gay scene — concentrated around Folsom and Harrison streets near the confluence of the 101 and I-80 — has been humming along for even longer, and it offers an impressively eclectic, creative and edgy vibe that appeals to everyone from queer artists to sophisticated foodies to leather-and-fetish aficionados.

At the upper (northeastern) end of SoMa, closer to the Financial District and waterfront, the neighborhood is more touristy and traditional. It’s anchored by the mammoth Moscone Convention Center, named for former mayor George Moscone who was assassinated in 1978, alongside gay rights activist Harvey Milk. Travelers are drawn to the several museums, upscale shopping malls, and luxury hotels in this area.

At Gay Realty Watch, we look for news to share with you about the gay real estate market – both lgbt real estate news and news specific to gay and lesbian real estate meccas.

See the Full Story at The Dallas Voice

Click here for gay realtors, mortgage lenders, and other real estate professionals in Dallas.

If you have a gay real estate story that you’d like to share with us, contact us at

Prevent Basement Floods

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Prevent Basement Floods

Making your basement into a comfortable living area can significantly raise the value of your home but it is extremely important for you to take the necessary action before you start your remodel. The basement could turn into a massive loss if not protected. The largest concern a basement has is its weak defenses against flooding. The below grade location creates a situation it is surrounded by soil. As we all know soil retains water and that water can be detrimental to your basement. Here are four preventative actions you can take to protect your investment.

1.  Grading

The most important step you can take to prevent flooding is to make sure the grading around your basement is sloping away from the foundation. This helps ensure that when it rains the water will not pool any areas. If pooling water does occur it will eventually make its way into your basement. If you are not sure if you have proper grading, take a look for any pooling water. If you do spot any water consider adding more soil to that region or hire a landscaper to re-grade your yard.

2. Gutters

Check the location of your downspouts, too often they drain too close to your foundation leaving opportunities for water to seep into your basement. If this is the case, buy downspout extensions that will carry the water away from your foundation or connect your downspouts to a French drain system in your yard.

Secondly, check for clogs. Any sort of blockage can cause an overflow which can create soil erosion, improper grading and basement flooding.

3. Window Wells

Like gutters, window wells collect leaves, dirt and debri that can prevent proper drainage. Once water starts collecting at the surface of your window seepage is inevitable. Consider hooking a window well drainage system or install window well covers to protect the well from debris.

Written by Todd Moeller, 714-404-9540 – Unique, open and caring specializing in helping people find good values and good homes in Orange County. Visit Todd’s website here.

Featured Gay Friendly Realtor: Paul Fortino, Santa Cruz, California

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Paul Fortino, Gay Santa Cruz RealtorPeriodically we’ll feature one of our real estate professionals here to let our readers know about some great Realtors, Mortgage Brokers, and Other Real Estate Professionals.

Married and have a teenage son. We live on the Westside of Santa Cruz. Looking forward to meeting you!

See Paul’s Expanded Listing on Gay Realty Network Here

Gay Friendly Realtors and Real Estate Professionals in Santa Cruz

Top Ten Tax Deductions for Homeowners

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tax deductions

Your home may be brimming with tax advantages. How will you get all of the homeowner tax breaks you’re entitled to? Consult a professional tax advisor for details.  Here’s a list of the top 10 deductions to consider:

1.  Mortgage Interest Deduction

The mortgage interest deduction has always been the most-beloved tax benefit of home buyers in the U.S.  New homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments are made up almost entirely by interest for the first few years. Their ability to deduct that interest can result in a healthy reduction in tax liability. Affordability for first-time home buyers is directly linked to their ability to deduct the interest on their mortgage.

Homeowners who itemize their deductions can deduct the interest paid on a mortgage with a balance of up to $1 million. While there is some movement to limit the total itemized deductions for taxpayers with higher incomes (over $400,000), the current deductions holds for all tax brackets. Americans save around $100 million every year by deducting mortgage interest on their tax returns.

2.  Home Improvement Loan Interest Deduction

The interest on home equity loans used for “capital improvements” to a home can also be a tax deduction. On loans with balances of up to $100,000, the interest is tax-deductible for a homeowner who uses the loan to make improvements to the home such as adding square footage, upgrading the components of the home, or repairing damage from a natural disaster. Maintenance items like changing the carpet and painting a home are usually not included as capital improvement projects.

3.  Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Deduction

Homeowners who make a down payment of less than 20% are usually paying some sort of Private Mortgage Insurance. PMI (sometimes abbreviated MIP or just MI), can be a few dollars to hundreds of dollars per month, and it is a large portion of many homeowners’ mortgage payments.

If your mortgage was originated after Jan 1, 2007, and you have PMI, it can be a tax deduction. The deduction is phased out, 10% per $1,000, for taxpayers who have an adjusted gross income between $100,000-$109,000 and those above that level do not qualify. The extension of this tax deduction in 2013 was one of many last-second saves by real estate industry advocates.

4. Mortgage Points/Origination Deduction

Homeowners who paid points on their home purchase or refinance can often deduct those points on their tax returns. Points, often called origination fees, are usually percentage-based fees which a lender charges to originate a loan. A one percent fee on a $100,000 loan would be one point, or $1,000.

On a home purchase loan, taxpayers can deduct the entirety of the points that they paid in the same year. On a refinance loan, the points must be deducted as an amortization over the life of the loan. Many taxpayers forget about this amortized benefit over time, so it’s important to keep good records on the deduction of points on a refinance.

5. Energy Efficiency Upgrades/Repairs Deduction

Homeowners can deduct the cost of the building materials used for energy efficiency upgrades to their home. This is actually a tax credit, one which is applied as a direct reduction of how much tax you owe, not just a reduction in your taxable income.

10 percent of the total bill for energy-efficient materials can be used as a tax credit, up to a maximum $500 credit. Insulation, doors, new roofs, and many other items qualify for the energy efficiency credit. There are also individual limits for certain items, such as $150 for furnaces, $200 for windows, and $300 for air conditioners and heat pumps.

6. Profit on Sale of Real Estate Deduction

If you’ve sold a home in the past year, you’re likely aware that individuals can claim up to $250,000 of profit from the sale tax-free, and married couples can claim up to $500,000 tax-free. Of course, there are some requirements to escaping the capital gains tax on this profit.

The home must be a primary residence. This means that you must have lived in the home, as your primary residence, for two of the past five years. You could rent it out for years one, three, and five, while living in it for years two and four. In this way, a homeowner could potentially claim this tax break on multiple homes within a fairly short time frame, but each tax-free sale must occur at least two years apart from the previous tax-free transaction.

7. Real Estate Selling Cost Deduction

For those lucky folks whose profits on the sale of their home might exceed the $250k/$500k limits, there are still some ways to reduce the tax burden.  The costs of selling the home can be significant, and those in themselves can be claimed as tax deductions.

By adding up all of the fees paid at closing, capital improvements made to the home while you owned it, money spent to make repairs to damaged property, and marketing costs necessary to sell the home, you can add a significant figure to the cost basis of your home.  This basically raises the original price you paid for the home.  Your cost basis begins with the original price of the home, and then adds in the improvement and selling costs.  When the new cost basis price is compared to your selling price, it reduces your potentially-taxable profit on the home significantly.

8. Home Office Deduction

The home office tax deduction is often cited as a deduction that increases your likelihood of being audited.  While the raw numbers might add some credibility to that perception, it’s really the way a home office is deducted that gets some taxpayers into audit purgatory.

This deduction, when used correctly, is just as safe as any other.  Homeowners deduct a percentage of their mortgage, utilities, and repair bills in direct proportion to the amount of their home that is dedicated office space.

There are a few hard and fast rules to live by when deducting the costs of your home office. The home office must be your principal place of business (the primary office location where you get the majority of your work done).  It needs to be exclusively used for business (it can’t be your kitchen by day and office by night).  You need to be realistic with its size and use (unless you enjoy audits).

9. Property Tax Deduction

New homeowners often don’t know that their property taxes are deductible.  While it may sound strange to have a tax-deductible tax, the overall effect is that you don’t pay income tax on money that was spent on property taxes.

Homeowners should be careful to only deduct the amount of property tax actually paid to their local municipality for the year. This is not necessarily the amount you paid to your escrow account, and should not include any other city/county fees that might potentially be on the same bill as your property taxes.

10. Loan Forgiveness Deduction

The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Relief Act of 2007 was created when short sales were becoming a new and growing part of the real estate market. An underwater homeowner might convince their lender to agree to a short sale of their home at $100,000, even though they owe $150,000 on their mortgage. While the lender forgives the extra $50,000 owed after the short sale, the government views it as $50,000 in taxable income (a gift from the lender to the borrower).

The Debt Forgiveness Act temporarily relieved the taxpayer of that burden, but was set to expire this year. Through much effort, it was extended along with many other homeowner tax relief measures this year and homeowners can continue to claim this tax relief in 2013.

IRS- disclaimer: To the extent that this message or any attachment concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law.  This message was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transactions or matters addressed herein, and the taxpayer should seek advice based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

Written by Todd Moeller, 714-404-9540 – Unique, open and caring specializing in helping people find good values and good homes in Orange County. Visit Todd’s website here.

Mortgage Monday: How to Speed Up the Mortgage Process

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mortgage closing process

Mortgage Monday: Do you want to speed up the mortgage process?

Do you want to speed up your mortgage process? The length of your mortgage process depends on the loan type, the property and several other considerations. Furthermore, consumers looking to make their mortgage move faster must have patience and preparation because you are at the mercy of home inspectors, appraisers and underwriters. However, there are still some things you can do.

First, make sure you have good credit. With higher credit scores you are more likely to receive competitive rate and term offers but can also help you move faster through the application and underwriting process while late payments, bankruptcies and other financial setbacks could delay you.

Second, be quick to respond. Be sure to gather your tax returns, employment documents, bank statements, and other similar information because throughout the loan you will be asked to provide this information and documentation. Respond quickly to any of the loan officer’s demands to prevent any further delays. Most processes are drawn out because the loan officer is waiting on the consumer for information.

Third, buy a house that meets the requirements of government backed programs such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veteran Affairs (VA) loans. These programs have property standards that must be met and homes that present problems that may need corrective action before the loan can close which can lead to delays in the process. A good lender should find you a home that has a high chance of a successful appraisal to prevent wasting time and money.

Fourth, it is extremely important to find the right lender. You want to find the right combination speed, experience and customer service. You should ask your prospective lenders questions like: What is their turnaround times on loan files? What’s the average number of days from contract to close? Are their underwriters in-house?

Last but not least, do not take on new credit. Applying for new credit cards, making large purchases or any changes to your financial and credit profile concern underwriters. Stability and reliability is what lenders are looking for.

Written by Todd Moeller, 714-404-9540 – Unique, open and caring specializing in helping people find good values and good homes in Orange County. Visit Todd’s website here.

Where is Fresno’s Gayborhood?

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Fresno Tower District

Apple Maps

Our friends at have an answer:

A primary “gayborhood” in the northeast part of city is called the Tower District because it is centered around the historic Art Deco Tower Theater, which is included on the National List of Historic Places. The area is known for its wonderful architecture and including homes built in the California Bungalow, American Craftsman, Mediterranean Revival, Mission Revival and Storybook styles. The streets around the Tower boast many shops, theaters and dinner theaters as well as a diverse number of ethnic restaurants and shops. Events celebrated in the community include Jamaica Weekend, Mardi Gras, the Gay Pride Parade and A Taste of the Tower. The Tower community is also known for its hipster art and heavy metal, punk and Goth music communities. The most avante-garde bookstores and clubs operate on or near Olive Avenue in the Tower neighborhood and this is also the center of the gayborhood cafe society.

At Gay Realty Watch, we look for news to share with you about the gay real estate market – both lgbt real estate news and news specific to gay and lesbian real estate meccas.

See the Full Story at

Click here for gay realtors, mortgage lenders, and other real estate professionals in California.

If you have a gay real estate story that you’d like to share with us, contact us at

Downtown Berkeley, California Experiencing a Housing Boom

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Berkeley, California - Apple Maps

Apple Maps

More than 1,400 housing units are currently in development in downtown Berkeley, with demolition on one of the first in the pipeline scheduled to begin this week.

There are eight projects, including a hotel, planned in the downtown core, with two more planned just south, on Dwight Way, and another proposal on University Avenue just west of downtown that’s set to have its first public city review next week.

Demolition for The Durant, which has frontage on both Durant Avenue and Channing Way, was slated to begin Monday, Jan. 13, according to Downtown Berkeley Association CEO John Caner.

At Gay Realty Watch, we look for news to share with you about the gay real estate market – both lgbt real estate news and news specific to gay and lesbian real estate meccas.

Authored By Emilie Raguso – See the Full Story at Berkeleyside

Click here for gay realtors, mortgage lenders, and other real estate professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you have a gay real estate story that you’d like to share with us, contact us at