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Front Porch is a real estate company that wants you to know stuff. Really.

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Are you really reading Tuesday November 6th? For free?

Yes, I’ll be at KGB bar as part of “Non-Fiction Advice Night” along with Laura Schenone, author of “The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken” and my dear friends Stephanie Losee and Helaine Olen, co-authors of “Office Mate.”

Reading starts 7ish. KGB Bar is at 85 East Fourth Street and sells beer.

More here

Posted 12 years, 8 months ago at 6:39 pm.

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How can I leave my home to my kids without them getting killed by estate taxes on the inheritance?

If you’re going to leave your kids more than $2 million, they’re going to end up paying estate taxes on their inheritance. While this used to be just a “rich people” concern, the rise in real estate prices has been so high over the past decades that now the family home might tip you over.

One tax planning strategy to consider is the creation of qualified personal residence trust, where you put your home in a trust but retain the right to live there during a specified time-frame — say 15 years.

During that time, you’re responsible for the repairs and maintenance on the house, but the value of the house is reduced, for accounting purposes. So your $2 million home might be counted as being worth just $1 million to your kids.

What happens if you outlive the trust period? You end up paying market-rate rent to your kids, so don’t forget to plan for that contingency.

On the other hand, if you die during the trust period, the effects of the trust are wiped out, so it makes sense to pick a shorter rather than longer term if you’re chasing this kind of tax loophole.

Posted 12 years, 8 months ago at 7:43 am.

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What’s the deal with downtown grocery stores?

Whole Foods coming to 101 Warren (formerly known as 270 Greenwich) in Spring ‘08.

Trader Joe’s near Union Square has Stroopwaffels. Stroopwaffels at Trader Joe's

Posted 12 years, 9 months ago at 11:02 am.

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Who owns homes, anyway?

Homeownership varies by age. Peter Francese, a demographer at Ogilvy & Mather, addressed this in an October 2006 interview with Realtor magazine. So in the spirit of cleaning off my desk:

*Nearly 80% of baby boomers (born 1946-1964) own their own homes.

*For Gen-Xers, (born 1965-1979) it’s about two-thirds.

*For millenials (born 1980-2000), it’s slightly less than half.

Posted 12 years, 9 months ago at 9:40 am.

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We’re buying a home, do we get to keep the wall-mounted TV?

Buyers and sellers used to fight over the dining room chandelier — but now, plasma TVs and sound systems are the big area of dispute.

The short answer is, there’s no standard practice, so if you want the flat screen TV or the surround sound home theater system to come with the home, put it in the contract.


Don’t forget to do this with window treatments that you want to come with the house as well.

Posted 12 years, 10 months ago at 1:46 pm.

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Why don’t you have more images on this site?

Rookie Cover jpgGoing to, starting today!

Posted 12 years, 10 months ago at 1:01 pm.

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I’m facing foreclosure, who can help?

The Federal Reserve update its list of resources for consumers yesterday. The place to go for help is here

Posted 12 years, 10 months ago at 8:35 am.

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I’d like to rent out my second home as a short-term rental. What do I need to leave?

Hilda Giron Erfe, who wrote “Real Estate 101-Buying/Real Estate 102-Renting” (the amazon.com link is here ) suggests, per bed:

* 2 pillows, each with pillow protector

* 1 flat sheet, 1 fitted sheet, 1 comforter

* spare cotton blankets

She suggests that if you have multiple vacation houses (and there are real estate investors who go around buying up homes and renting ‘em out) that you stick with one kind of print per house “so you know which print belongs to which house”

Also, a vacation rental should include

* towels — six towels per color, per bathroom, plus beach towels

* alarms — one Carbon Monoxide Detector and one Smoke Alarm per house. Please change the batteries so that your house doesn’t beep while you’re away.

* living room furniture — Sofa and side chair; coffee table and end table; area rug, and at least one lamp. TV/VCR combo.

* bedroom furniture — Doulbe bed, one or two dressers, 2 night tables with lamps, a dual-set alarm clock, a mirror, and wall decor. A linen chest is optional, but nice to have.

* a calendar — with garbage instructions, recycling days, your phone number and those of the maintenance guys, the phone number of the pest control and cleaning crews, and of course instructions to the alarm system.

* kitchen necessities — coffeemaker and toaster; dishes and glasses and silverware; oven mitts and an apron; coffee cups; serving pieces such as a big spoon, fork, pasta server, and tongs; extra vacuum cleaner bags; a vase for flowers; dishtowels; a big serving bowl and an ice bucket; a corkscrew and wine glasses; a cutting board and knives; pots and pans; a wastebasket.

* outdoor furniture, and possibly a grill and grill cover

* window treatments and screens, extra light bulbs and paint touch-ups, and an air conditioner with clean filters/ducts; a de-humidifier in the basement; citronella candles; extra keys; a garage door opener; basic tools.

As you can see, Hilda’s thought this whole thing through. Her book is highly entertaining if you ever decide you want to go into the landlady biz. If you would rather rent out one of her vacation houses in Newport, click here.

Posted 12 years, 11 months ago at 6:12 pm.

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Home prices still feel like they’re going up (in NYC, anyway), but so do mortgages. Are we richer or poorer?


Okay, I cheated and I asked myself a question, mainly because I found an Oliver Ryan story (from Fortune magazine on September 20, 2004) that argued that we were cannibalizing all the equity in our homes, and I wondered if it were still true.

I’m no economist, so I decided to use some easy Federal Reserve numbers, from the Flow of Funds report, table B.100, which gives you the balance sheet of households (and includes home equity lines of credit).
According to the Fed, at the end of 2000, home mortgages totalled $4.8 trillion, and our homes were collectively worth $11.4 trillion — which meant that we had a collective 58% equity, 42% debt.

At the end of the first quarter of 2007, home mortgages totalled $9.8 trillion, and our homes were collectively worth $20.8 trillion — which meant we had a collective 53% equity, 47% debt.

So yes, we are still slowly draining the equity out of our homes. If current trends continue, in another 7 years, the glass/house will be more than half-empty. In other words, the percentage of debt on those homes will be more than 50%.

If you’ve just bought a house and put down 5%, 10%, or 20%, you may think “so what, 50% equity looks pretty good to me!” but it’s a disturbing trend. The payments we make on those mortgages include interest costs, money that we should be using to educate our kids and start new businesses.

Posted 13 years ago at 11:49 am.

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They say there’s stuff to do in the Financial District, but is there a wine bar downtown?

Actually, the Time Out New York readers’ choice award went to Bin No. 220, a Front Street wine bar that fought off stiff competition from Red Hook (tini) and NoHo (Centovini).

Heavy on Italian wines, but you can get Veuve Cliquot.

220 Front Street, between Beekman St. and Peck Slip.

Posted 13 years ago at 2:36 pm.

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