NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The clock is ticking on a tax break that saves struggling homeowners from paying thousands of dollars to the IRS.
If the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 does not get extended by Congress by the end of the year, homeowners will have to start paying income taxes on the portion of their mortgage that is forgiven in a foreclosure, short sale or principal reduction.

Read more here.


These tips from HootSuite offer great advice for my colleagues in the real estate business, but also could apply to any of you who are attempting to use social media to boost your business contacts.

1. Be Consistent
The key to being successful in social media is consistently posting content. You can’t Tweet or post to Facebook once in a blue moon and expect results. You need to be there everyday—just like you are with your phone calls, email and the rest of your marketing strategy. One of the best parts of using a tool like HootSuite is the ability to schedule your messages. You can spend just 15 minutes a day and schedule 3-5 new posts to “drip” out during the day. This is like drip marketing, but for social media.

2. Have a Content Strategy
You have to have a content strategy to be successful in the long haul with social. Ask yourself, ‘what type of content would be most relevant for my brand, for my audience and where am I going to get that content?’ Next, create a content grid or editorial calendar where you can map out topics you plan to post about over the next 30-60 days. Curate content by using Google Alerts or by creating specific lists on Twitter for specific types of content you’d like to re-tweet or re-post.

3. Never Forget: Real Estate is Local
When you are planning your content strategy make sure to include things that only locals know—like the best place to get a slice of pizza or the best place to get a cup of coffee. Buying or selling a home is so much more than the home—it’s the local parks, the school districts and so much more. Your audience and potential clients love that hyperlocal information—and as a real estate pro that is one area that will really set you apart.

4. Dip Your Toe Into More Than One Stream
Understand the conversation doesn’t just happen on your Facebook page or Twitter stream. Conversations about real estate are happening in Facebook groups, in personal chatter on social platforms, and throughout Twitter. It isn’t enough to just post to your social channels—be aware of conversations happening in your social circles about real estate and jump in. The conversations are there whether you are there or not—wouldn’t it be better if you were there? You can add several “Streams” in your HootSuite dashboard to listen in on the topics of your choice.

5. Find a Way to Measure the Success of Your Efforts
Do you know which Facebook posts or Tweets get the highest number of clicks or engagement? Do you know how much of your web traffic is coming from social networks? Do you know where your audience is? Make sure you are checking your HootSuite Analytics once a week to gauge your success. Also make sure you integrate your Facebook Insights and Google Analytics into your HootSuite account so you can really see the big picture.

Read more: http://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-tips-real-estate/

Underwater homeowners know the irony: In order to get your lender to work with you on a short sale, you have to stop paying your mortgage and become delinquent. A homeowner who has managed to pay their mortgage come hell or high water — even as the tide carried their equity away — hasn’t had a chance of getting a short sale approved.

Until now.

Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have issued new rules, which take effect Wednesday, Nov. 1, that will allow short sales for underwater homeowners — even if they never have missed a house payment. Eligible borrowers will need to show hardship, such as lost income.

Read more here.

Here’s a helpful link for checking real estate market conditions anywhere in the country: realtytimes.com

Here are some tips from RealtyTrac to guide you if you are considering buying a foreclosure as a rental property:

1.Focus first on location and condition, not purchase price

“Everything we own is in the strongest locations with the best opportunity,” said Gene Richards, a longtime real estate investor who owns rental properties in both his native Vermont and in Florida.

“I buy in the core between the university and downtown,” he said of his properties in Vermont, adding that in Florida “we keep our rod out there looking for the deals driven by location and condition. What I try to do is monitor what’s out there almost nightly and then jump on it.”

2. Pay it forward with quality rehab

This second tip also comes from Richards, who prides himself on keeping his rental properties occupied.

“We have never had a vacancy since we’ve owned properties. We’ve been very lucky with the demand we have,” he said. “Also, we pay it forward. We gut it and fix it up. We take care of our tenants.

3. Reconsider short sales as REO inventory retreats

William Bronchick, president of the Colorado Association of Real Estate Investors, is finding it easier for investors to get short sales than bank-owned homes (REOs) in today’s market.

“It’s easier to get short sales than REOs. The banks just are not releasing the properties on the market. It’s an artificial supply shortage,” said Bronchick. “With short sales they are more willing to deal.”

4. Develop relationships with short sale specialists

“Hook up that relationship with an agent who specializes in short sales,” said Bruce Norris, a longtime real estate investor, author and trainer in Southern California. “That’s the lenders’ preference as opposed to foreclosures now. Tell them, ‘I’m your guy. I’m interested in buying five of these.’ Someone doing short sales is not just doing one short sale. That’s their business model. Speed and ease of sale; that’s the service the investor provides.”

5. Develop a data-based system for making purchase decisions

“We monitor numbers on a daily basis. My decisions are almost on auto pilot,” said investor Tony Alvarez, who works the Antelope Valley region of north Los Angeles County. “This market is like any market for the guys in it for the long haul. Working it every day, day to day. It only happens if you’re constantly fishing. The guys doing the best are those who are fishing all the time. They understand the river. Stay the course and do your job,”

6. Look beyond foreclosure auctions for the best deals

Even though Dan Valentine, broker/owner of Valentine Sales & Management in Phoenix, Ariz., makes his living attending foreclosure auctions every day looking for properties for h is investor clients, he’s not going there with an expectation of getting a considerable discount on the properties he’s buying.

“I don’t think you get a discount anymore from the auctions. You can get lucky, but for the most part we’re all paying pretty close to retail,” Valentine said. “I don’t care about retail. I’m buying cash flow and return. I buy cap rates. We’re buying at 2001 and 2002 levels.”

7. Stay cash flow focused

“There’s two ways to buy real estate: for cash flow or appreciation,” said Bill Twyford, a real estate investor and trainer who invests in multiple markets across the country. “What we teach is to buy for cash flow. I tell people I don’t care what’s owed on the property. If I can take the property over and make a couple hundred bucks a month, then I don’t care how much is owed. If I get 10 of those properties, that’s $2,000 a month.”

“You don’t have to get a deal. You can get something that makes sense monthly and as long as you know the area makes sense, then it’s a game changer,” added Norris, the Southern California investor. “California is full of those types of properties. Properties on sale below replacement cost.”

Source: http://www.realtytrac.com/content/foreclosure-market-report/foreclosure-rentals-tips-to-buy-from-realtytrac-7404?accnt=317325

For the second week in a row, mortgage rates his new record lows last week.

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.36 percent, while the rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to an average of 2.69 percent, according to Freddie Mac.

Read more here.

Winter’s chill is on its way and kids soon will need to wear heavy coats as they walk to school and bus stops.  Unfortunately, many Michigan families cannot afford winter coats that fit their growing children.

Please help me help them!  My company is collecting winter coats for Michigan kids who need them.  Please check your closets for coats your children have outgrown. Let me know and I will pick them up from you.