Are Interest Rates and Mortgage Rates The Same?

On January 25th, Fed Chairman Bernanke announced that interest rates were going to be held at the current rate through the end of 2014. He was specifically speaking about the federal funds rate which is the rate the Fed lends money to banks. Most consumers assume that interest rates and mortgage rates are the same. Of course, interest rates do have an influence on mortgage rates but there are many other factors that impact mortgage rates. Mortgage loan officers will quickly tell you that mortgage rates change frequently. In fact, they change multiple times per day. Currently, we have some of the lowest rates ever recorded. But that will not last forever.

There are a number of factors that are likely to move rates higher over time. Mortgage rates are influenced by long-term bonds. The 30-year bond has a big impact on the 30-year fixed mortgage rate. Right now, the Fed is purchasing those bonds through a program called Operation Twist. This is intended to keep the 30-year mortgage rate low. But the Fed cannot keep doing this indefinitely due to our debt and deficit problems. When that program ends, the rates will rise and normal investors must come back to the table to purchase those bonds. There is also pending legislation for Qualified Residential Mortgages (QRM). This legislation proposes a standard 20% down payment plus a requirement for the banks to maintain a holdback of 5% on every loan. Analysts expect to see these higher bank costs recovered by increasing rates and more fees. Freddie and Fannie have already implemented additional fees. FHA is expected to also add new fees. The future forecasts from the Mortgage Bankers Association and Freddie MAC predict that rates will rise in 2012 and 2013 back to the 5% range. In 3-5 years, rates are expected to jump significantly. The average mortgage rate for the past 50 years has been 8% and we are likely to see rates in that range again.

We have the unusual circumstance of very low home prices and very low mortgage rates! If you would like to discuss the best strategy for your situation, please contact Dan Petersen at 678-439-6699 to learn the facts in your local market.

An Early Spring Real Estate Market!

The famous groundhog General Beauregard Lee did not see his shadow and predicted an early spring for Metro Atlanta. And Prudential Georgia Realty is seeing an early spring market for real estate. Buyers are out and pending sales are increasing. But many markets in our area are seeing very low levels of inventory for sale. The latest numbers in many of our markets show inventory levels down 25% – 30% from this time last year. The mix of properties in some areas is also changing. For the 20-county metro area, short sales & foreclosures were 60% of total transactions last year. But a significant portion of those were in the low end of the market. So looking at national numbers or even Metro Atlanta numbers can be misleading. Remember that real estate is local and many markets are different. We are now seeing lots of markets and price points where short sales & foreclosures are a small portion of the available inventory. That means that market conditions are improving for sellers and resales are going to be more popular in 2012!

If you want to attain the highest market value for your property, you must have exceptional marketing. Our Advanced Property Marketing System was designed for the current market conditions and is the most effective approach available. The results prove the case. Since introducing this advanced system, our company is #1 for listings sold in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

If you are interested in selling your property, contact Dan Petersen today to get started. 678-439-6699.

Exemption Deadline for Homeowners Nears!

File For Exemption

Don’t forget to file for your Homeowner’s Exemption by April 1st!  Go to or call 770-528-8600 to find out more on how to file.

You must own or occupy your property on January 1st of this year and your name must appear on the deed to qualify.  Per Cobb County, you do not need to reapply if your home was refinanced. Visit for all the details.

Home Supply Down in Lassiter School District

  January home supply in Lassiter school district is down over 23% while homes sold is up over 9%.  The spring selling market has begun and with low interest rates and expected increase in buyer demand, homes in good school districts are hoping to have a good year.

See the full home supply and demand chart below.  Looking for more specific home information or how to sell your home in this market; contact your real estate professionals Dan Petersen at 678-439-6699 (Petersen Partners/Prudential Georgia Realty).


Mortage rates hit a new low on Thursday

The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a new low of 3.88 percent. 

if you are interested in finding out what you can afford or in refinancing your current loan, please contact :

Julie Devine with SunTrust at

or Michelle Byers with Suntrust at

if you are looking for a home, you can search like an agent at the following website:  and set up your free account.

Landlords don’t forget these tax deductions

Despite the lingering bad taste in our mouths from the subprime mortgage crisis, investing in a rental property can still be a smart move. Few investments can give you ongoing income from month-to-month like real estate.Real estate property has the potential to appreciate in value while still giving monthly income. Yes, one of the drawbacks of rental property is the tax owners must pay. Fortunately, there are a number of exemptions and write-offs that are possible for rental property owners.

As tax season begins, here are seven deductions rental property owners can look forward to:

1) Travel Expenses

Keep tabs on any time you travel to the property to make improvements or collect rent, as that can be deducted. On your taxes, you can either take a standard mileage rate (55 cents per mile in 2012) outlined here, or deduct actual expenses including gas, upkeep and repairs.

2) Mortgage Expenses

Similar to homeowner mortgages, rental property owners can write off the interest paid on their mortgage. The mortgage company will send you a Form 1098 that tells how much interest you paid the previous year.

Unfortunately, one-time expenses at closing — such as commission and appraisal — aren’t fully deductible in the year that you pay them. Instead, you can amortize them over the life of the loan, still leaving you with a hefty deduction.

3) Lawn Care or Association Fees

If you own a home and have a lawn service cut the grass or manicure gardens, those expenses can be written off as well. Association fees that condo associations often use to cover lawn care, exterior maintenance and the upkeep and maintenance of other common areas are also deductible.

4) Repairs

Property owners know the drill — when something breaks, you have to fix it. From furnaces to dishwashers, the landlord foots the bill. The good news is that repair and maintenance costs are tax deductible.

The distinction is a repair that keeps your property in good working order. If something breaks or could potentially break and you spend the money to replace or update it, the cost is considered tax deductible.

However, it does mean that you write off strictly cosmetic updates, like adding granite countertops to a kitchen, unless the previous counters were faulty. For cosmetic improvements, you have to depreciate the expense over the life expectancy of the property.

5) Taxes and Preparation Fees

The funny thing about taxes in investment properties is that you are allowed to deduct them. If you have someone else prepare your taxes, like attorneys or accountants, those expenses can also be written off.

6) Insurance and Losses

The cost of insuring the property can be written off along with any losses from casualties, like burglaries or natural disasters such as tornados, hurricanes or floods.

7) Depreciation

The IRS allows rental property owners to deduct depreciation of the value of a rental property. The assumption is that since property is useful for a long time, over that time, it wears out and is worth less money. Thus, you shouldn’t be taxed on the same value as when the property was purchased.

You calculate depreciation by adding up the total costs of the property and dividing it by the useful life of the property Anchor. For residential rental real estate, the useful life expectancy is 27.5 years. So, you would take the total value and divide it by the useful life to discover the depreciation.

For example, if you purchased a rental property for $150,000, you would divide that number by 27.5 for a depreciation of $5,455 per year.

A Word of Warning

As with all tax-related details, it is vital to keep excellent records to back up all your newfound tax deductions. If you are audited, the last thing you want to do is get penalized and pay more tax than you really should just because you don’t have the proper documentation. For further peace of mind, consult a tax professional to help you get the most tax deductions you deserve and organize your documentation.

The Investing Answer: Rental property can be a great investment and the tax deductions you can receive can make it even more appealing. Do a little research and hire a professional to ensure that you get the most deductions possible on your rental property.

Read more: