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John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

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Buying a Home? 3 Ways to Beat the Competition

March 23, 2016 1:48 am

With home prices on the rise and mortgage rates still relatively low, now is the ideal time to buy a home. But in this type of market, competing offers can shut you out of the home of your dreams if you’re not prepared.

Beat the competition this home buying season with these 3 tips, courtesy of NeighborWorks America, a national nonprofit corporation.

1. Seek professional guidance. More than two-thirds of homebuyers in a recent NeighborWorks survey said that the home buying process is complicated. The best way to get a thorough understanding of the process is to consult with a real estate professional. If you find your finances are lacking, you may also want to meet with a housing counselor, who can offer additional support.

“The housing market is tough right now, with fewer homes for sale on the market than usual, and new mortgage rules and many mortgage products from which to choose,” says Marietta Rodriguez, spokesperson for NeighborWorks America. “To be in the strongest position to make an offer that is accepted, consumers have to be prepared. That's where initial consultation with a housing counselor is a great first-step.”

2. Build a budget. National surveys have shown that less than one-third of consumers have a budget. Go into this home buying season with a budget that includes potential changes in commuting costs after purchase, home maintenance expenses, and even estimates for changes in life circumstances (such as becoming a parent or paying for college) to have a leg-up on the competition.

“Once all the numbers are on the table, it's easier to see what type of home suits a family's budget and needs, what might be necessary financial trade-offs, and what could be a direct line to trouble,” says Rodriguez.

3. Remain informed. The supply of homes on the market will be tight this season. Getting into a bidding war could weaken your resolve, and could push you beyond your means financially. In these circumstances, don’t be tempted to forgo important steps in the process, like the home inspection.

“Forgoing a home inspection to move up a place in the bidding process could be costly down the road if problems and defects with the home arise,” says Rodriguez.” NeighborWorks recommends that homebuyers have a home inspection, and know as much as possible about the inside of a home as the outside.”

Follow these three tips to ensure you stay ahead of the competition, and remember: contact a real estate professional. He or she can help you see you through from pre-approval to close.

Source: NeighborWorks America

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How Will You Pay Yourself in Retirement?

March 22, 2016 1:42 am

Depends on who you ask, according to research conducted by Ameriprise Financial. The financial services provider recently posed the question to both pre-retirees and retirees in a study, revealing contrasting confidence levels between the two.

According to study findings, 85 percent of retirees have a plan in place to pay themselves in retirement, and thus feel at ease; just 53 percent of pre-retirees have developed a retirement plan, and feel less confident that they’ve saved enough money to last their lifetime.

“Figuring out how to recreate a paycheck in retirement can be one of the most daunting challenges investors face,” says Marcy Keckler, vice president of Financial Advice Strategy at Ameriprise. “Add to it recent market volatility, and it’s easy to see why pre-retirees who have not developed a retirement income plan feel less confident that they’ll have the money they need to cover their expenses.”

Despite this, 73 percent of pre-retirees cited in the study said they plan to retire at age 65.

“The good news,” says Keckler, “is that they still have time to take action. By putting a plan in place now, while they’re still earning a traditional paycheck, they may be able to achieve similar levels of confidence as their older peers.”

In a shift from previous generations, pre-retirees today are relying less on pensions and more on 401(k)s and IRAs, which places the burden on the individual, rather than his or her employer, to save for retirement. It’s likely the next wave of retirees will need to spend more time calculating optimal withdrawal rates and exploring guaranteed sources of income.

Tax treatment of investments is one of the most important considerations when deciding how or when to draw income. As retirees reach their 70½ birthdays, Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) will dictate how much money they must withdraw from their retirement accounts annually. Retirees may face penalties if distributions are not taken or calculated incorrectly; therefore, it’s crucial to consider these tax rules when formulating retirement income plans.

The majority of retirees surveyed in the study relied on financial professionals to design their plans.

“When transitioning from a pre-retiree to a retiree, figuring out how to spend your savings can be an overwhelming process,” Keckler says. “A financial advisor can serve as a critical source of information to help you develop a tailored, comprehensive plan to fit your retirement income needs.”

Source: Ameriprise Financial, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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