Five tips to get the most real estate for your money

An extended period of low interest rates and increasingly sophisticated access to information has boosted the area real estate market, according to one area realtor. Sharron Huss, a realtor with Coldwell Banker for the past 23 years, said, despite some national reports to the contrary, business in the Fox Valley is booming. “Houses are selling at more than the asking price,” she said. “Appraisers are having a hard time keeping up because the houses are moving so fast.” The Wisconsin Realtor’s Association reported that homes sales were up 5.5 percent and median prices were up 4.5 percent this year from the same period last year. Wisconsin realtors closed more home sales in June of 2016 than any other month since 2005, according to the WRA. Whether you’re downsizing your empty nest, buying a vacation home or preparing to purchase your first place, here are five tips to get the most real estate for your money: Get preapproved for your loan before you shop. “Buyers need to know what they can afford, rather than going to a home and being disillusioned,” Huss said. Being pre-approved (not just pre-qualified) also allows you to shop around for the best deal and lowest interest rates. Don’t make any large purchases like a boat, car or snowmobile until after you finalize the purchase of your home. You want to protect your credit score. If you wrack up too much debt or buy a bunch of big-ticket items, you might have a hard time getting a loan. Don’t try to time your purchase. The best time to buy a house is when you need one. The real estate market goes up and down. If you wait for a better deal, you may lose the house. The best time to buy a house is when you find the perfect one and you can afford it. Don’t buy more house than you can afford. This goes beyond the… | Read More »

10 million reasons to hire a fiduciary

Last week the SEC filed an injunction against the aptly named Cavalier Union Investments, LLC, and charged owners Merrill Robertson, Jr. and Sherman Vaughn, Jr. with defrauding investors of more than $10 million. The duo’s astounding audacity offers another example of how essential it is for investors to review their advisor’s credentials before handing over their lifesavings. One click on the SEC’s website would have shown that neither Robertson nor Vaughn held a license to sell securities. Although they promised a diversified portfolio that would yield as much as 20%, they never even sought to invest the money in securities. According to the SEC, the only investments made by Cavalier Union Investments were restaurants that failed in 2014. Yet, they continued to solicit investors. Robertson, a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999 to 2001, capitalized on the connections he’d made as an athlete coming up through the system. Many of his investors were former coaches and employees at the schools he’d attended. In what has the makings of a classic Ponzi scheme, the duo allegedly used the money they collected to fund their own lifestyle and to keep up the pretense that they were successfully investing the money. New money went to investors who wanted to withdraw from their accounts. We understand the nearly sacred relationship between a coach and his or her player and assume this mutual respect earned on the playing field contributed to the unlikely success of this scam. Still, we are surprised that it went on for as long as it did. Retirement accounts represent the single biggest investment of people’s lives, and the one they worked the hardest to achieve. We recommend a thorough vetting process before handing over any assets, beginning with confirming the advisor’s registration through the SEC website. Look for a fiduciary, one who is legally bound to act in your best interests. Ask for references from current clients. Understand… | Read More »