Managing Financial Change and a Shifting Real Estate Market

Managing Financial Change and a Shifting Real Estate Market

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Elaine VonCannon, ABR, SRES, Associate Broker, Notary Public, Team Manager

Change is natural and there is no doubt it will occur at some point. Change can be difficult to navigate or it can be a step towards success, freedom and the future. In today's world, with the banking crisis, plummeting real estate prices and stress on Wall Street many medium sized companies, small businesses and regular citizens are feeling the strain that can be created by change.

Real Estate Investment Opportunities in a Slow Market

Investors that have recently lost money in the stock market should consider investing in commercial real estate and rental properties. Although real estate investments grow more slowly, they are safer. When the market changes real estate is a tangible investment offering more security, not just a piece of paper. These types of investments are income producing and offer a variety of tax advantages. Plan to make a long-term investment for at least five or ten years. Then, when the timing is right, you can roll it over with a 1031 tax exchange and continue investing in like properties. Another creative solution for real estate investors is the use of Tenants in Common agreements or Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT).

Tenants in Common is a property ownership arrangement in which multiple investors own property jointly. Ownership can consist of equal or unequal shares of the property and the owners can pass shares onto heirs. REIT shares are securities that sell like stock on the major exchanges and invest in real estate or mortgages. REIT's allow individual investors to hold various property assets and are eligible for corporate tax exemptions as long as 90% of the income is distributed to shareholders each quarter. REIT's can provide a reliable supplementary income and when you die will provide income for your family.

Refinancing Your Home and the Frozen Mortgage Debacle

In the current real estate market small business owners and individual homeowners are facing a myriad of financial challenges. Many self-employed business owners and contract workers are struggling because either their mortgages have been frozen due to falling real estate prices or in the last two years a slowing economy has decreased their income so much that refinancing is not an option. Regardless of the reason for being denied the ability to refinance, homeowners in this predicament are in danger of going into foreclosure.

What Can "Regular Joes" Do During the Foreclosure Crisis? Make Washington Listen, Contact your Congressmen and Women!

In the June 5, 2008 article "Mortgage bankers report hits grim a benchmark in first quarter, showing a record number of homes in jeopardy" Chris Isidore, senior writer for CNNMoney.com writes, "For the first time ever, more than 1 million homes are now in foreclosure, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association." "The Mortgage Bankers Association's first quarter report showed that a record 2.5% of all loans being serviced by its members are now in foreclosure, which works out to about 1.1 million homes," he continues, "Nearly four out of ten subprime ARM loans are a month or more late, or in foreclosure…There are 431,000 prime loans in foreclosure."

Unfortunately the federal government has not designed a solution for the subprime and prime mortgage crisis and every day more regular people face the threat of losing their home or business investment property. Oftentimes mortgages have been sold so many times the homeowner doesn't even know which company owns the mortgage. Since our elected officials do not seem to be addressing this, the only option is for homeowners, small business owners and entrepreneurs to contact their senators and tell them how important it is that these issues be managed and resolved.

In Virginia residents can contact the offices of Senators John Warner and Jim Webb or the head of the banking committee Chris Dodd. I have made attempts to contact all three of these Virginia leaders and all of them refuse to return calls or speak to me personally. It is my hope that if multiple people speak with their offices about this situation we may be a catalyst for change and make regular people, the majority of Americans, the government's number one priority. Write emails, send letters, talk to your neighbors and make Washington listen. Change is inevitable, but if we work together the changes may be for the better in the long run.