Thursday, January 31, 2013

Highlighting A Mortgage Lender

Today the decision was reached to highlight a mortgage lender.  Supreme Lending under Shannon Fortner has always provided us with the best of service.  They have never ceased to amaze us with the amount of hard work, good attitude, and wonderful quality of their work.

Originally Shannon Fortner and his team were with Countrywide Home Loans before the company collapsed amid financial troubles and political corruption which included waived points, lender fees and company borrowing rules for members of the Democratic Party of the United States.  This led the team to W.R. Starkey in which they had a troubling relationship due to the W.R. Starkey's over bureaucratic methods.  The Shannon Fortner team didn't stay long before they moved over to their present place at Supreme Lending.  Although they have moved from company to company, the once constant is their fantastic services they have provided to their clients.  Their strong unit has proved time and time again, their eagerness to do as much as they can for the benefit of their clients and agents.

Thank you for everything Shannon, Beverly, and Debbie.  You've always been wonderful to work with and provided many great times.

Shannon Fortner - Supreme Lending
Contact Information
  • Phone Numbers:
    Cell 256-755-0156
    Direct 256-715-9465
    Main 256-715-9465
    Fax 256-715-9501
  • Branch Location:
    2101 Clinton Ave W, St. 202
    Huntsville, AL 35805

Today's Tidbit:  Don't be afraid to ask your mortgage lender questions, they're there to help you understand. If you don't ask the questions, they won't be able to read your mind to assist you.

Huntsville Metro Area Homes

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Moving Checklist - Things to Keep In Mind

Moving was a topic in an earlier post, and it came to the forefront today.  At the company meeting this morning one of our local mortgage representatives Teresa Schmitt of First Bank touched on the issue by creating a checklist.  The checklist had very valuable information and arranged them by a four period timeline.

We wish to thank Teresa Schmitt for the valuable information she has offered us, which is provided below.

One Month Before Moving

  • Fill out change of address order form for the post office
  • Fill out IRS change of address form
  • Make arrangements with the moving company or reserve a rental truck
  • Make travel arrangements if necessary, with airlines, buses, car rental agencies and hotels
  • Transfer memberships in clubs, civic or religious organizations
  • Obtain medical and dental records and ask for referrals and transfer prescriptions
  • Set up a checking account in your new city
  • If you are moving yourself, obtain boxes and packing supplies. Clearly mark necessities OPEN FIRST.
  • Eliminate everything you don't want to move. Give it away or sell it.
  • Take inventory of your belongings you plan to take with you before they are packed.  If possibly, take pictures or video tape your belongings.  Appraise valuable items such as antiques, art pieces, etc. in case of future claims.
  • Make arrangements for transporting pets and plants, if necessary.
  • Notify your children's school of the move.  Arrange to transfer school records.
  • Start a file for all your moving paperwork.

One to Two Weeks Before Moving

  • Switch utility services to your new address. Inform gas, electric, disposal, water, newspaper/magazine subscription, telephone and cable companies of your move.  Be sure to disconnect the day after you leave and connect the day before you arrive.
  • Arrange for help on moving day.
  • Confirm travel reservations.
  • Notify any creditors of your move
  • Dispose of items that cannot be moved such as inflammable liquids
  • Clean rugs and clothing and have them wrapped for moving
  • Plan ahead for special needs of infants and small children
  • Close bank accounts and have your funds wired to your new bank.  Before closing, be sure there are no outstanding checks or automatic payments that haven't been processed.
  • Collect valuables from safe deposit box. Make copies of any important documents before mailing or hand carry them to your new address.
  • Check with your insurance agent to ensure you'll be covered through your homeowner's or renter's policy during the move.
  • Defrost freezer and refrigerator by propping doors open.
  • Give a close friend or relative your travel route and schedule so that you may be reached if needed

On Moving Day

  • Double check closets, drawers, shelves, attic and garage to be sure they are empty
  • Leave old keys needed by new tenant or owner
  • Carry important documents, currency and jewelry yourself
  • Carry travelers checks for quick available funds
  • If using a mover, ready your bill of lading and inventory carefully before signing

Arriving at Your New Home

  • If using a mover, check your belongings carefully and note on the inventory any damaged items.
  • Renew your driver's license, auto registration and tags
  • Shop around for new insurance policies, especially auto coverage.
  • Revise your will and other legal papers to avoid longer probate and higher legal fees
  • Explore your new area. Locate the hospitals, police stations, veterinarian and fire stations near your home.

Teresa Schmitt also stated that many of the moving expenses may be tax deductible so keep a hold of the receipts.

Today's Tidbit:  Moving isn't just a chore, its a life experience that sometimes you only do a few times in one lifetime.  Take the opportunity to enjoy it, they don't come around often.

Huntsville Metro Area Homes

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Alabama Tax Information

This post was decided it would be about taxes.  It took a while to do the research to find the best info on Alabama taxes and the list by seemed the best of all researched.  Now below is the information that they have categorized.  Most of this is very easy to understand.


Sales Taxes

State Sales Tax: 4% (prescription drugs exempt); The rate can go as high as 12.0% depending on city and county taxes.  The state administers over 200 different city and county sales taxes; however, it does not administer all county or city sales taxes.  There is a 3% tax on food sold through vending machines; 2% on sales of motor vehicles, mobile homes and motorboats; and 4% on sales of tangible personal property.s
Gasoline Tax: 39.3 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
Diesel Fuel Tax: 46.3 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
Cigarette Tax: 42.5 cents/pack of 20

Personal Income Taxes

Tax Rate Range: Low – 2.0%; High – 5.0%
Income Brackets: *Lowest – $500; Highest – $3,000
Number of Brackets: 3
Personal Exemptions: Single – $1,500; Married – $3,000; Dependents – $500
Standard Deduction: Single – $2,000; Married filing joint return – up to $7,500 based on state AGI and filing status.
Medical/Dental Deduction: Limited to excess of 4% of adjusted gross income.  However, you may deduct 50 percent of the premiums you pay for health insurance if you work for an employer that has less than 25 employees.
Federal Income Tax Deduction: Full
Retirement Income Taxes: Social Security, military, civil service, state/local government and qualified private pensions are exempt.  All out-of-state government pensions are tax-exempt if they are defined benefit plans.
Retired Military Pay: Pay and survivor benefits not taxed.
Military Disability Retired Pay: Retirees who entered the military before Sept. 24, 1975, and members receiving disability retirements based on combat injuries or who could receive disability payments from the VA are covered by laws giving disability broad exemption from federal income tax. Most military retired pay based on service-related disabilities also is free from federal income tax, but there is no guarantee of total protection.
VA Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: VA benefits are not taxable because they generally are for disabilities and are not subject to federal or state taxes.
Military SBP/SSBP/RCSBP/RSFPP: Generally subject to state taxes for those states with income tax. Check with state department of revenue office.

Property Taxes

The state does not collect taxes on personal property such as boats and computers.  Its ad valorem (property tax) is 6.5 mills (  Each city and county may levy has its own millage rate.  For information on all ad valorem tax exemptions, click here.
Homeowners 65 and older are exempt from all state property taxes.  Some cities also assess separate property taxes.  A homestead exemption up to $5,000 of assessed value is granted by the state on real property taxes. A larger exemption is available to persons over 65. Visit state’s property tax division web site.  To view the state’s homestead summary chart, click here.
Taxpayers are allowed to take a deduction on their individual returns for amounts contributed to a catastrophic (hurricanes, floods and storms) savings account.  If the qualified deductible is $1,000 or less, the maximum contribution is $2,000.  If the qualified deductible is more than $1,000, the maximum contribution is the smaller of (a) $15,000 or (b) twice the qualified deductible.

Inheritance and Estate Taxes

Alabama does not impose a separate state estate or inheritance tax.  It has what is known as a “pickup” or “sponge” tax, which means the state collects the maximum credit allowed on the federal estate tax return for “state death taxes.”
For further information, visit the Alabama Department of Revenue site or call 334-242-1512 or 256-837-2319.  If you are thinking about retiring to Alabama, click here.
* For joint returns, the taxes are twice the tax imposed on half the income.
Today's Tidbit:  As the temperatures bounce around between 30 degrees and 70 degrees, try to keep yourself healthy by staying in a particular temperature range.  The wide variety of temperature differences has the ability to cause colds and sinus infections by making people more susceptible to them.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Confirmation of New Construction/Housing Growth from National Builder

An earlier post stated that the housing market was improving not due to resale of existing homes but of the strong sales of new construction, which had a better value for new over the currently existing homes with maybe older appliances and a maybe need of TLC in one form or another.

Now a new article has come out from the Dow Jones Newswires talking about the major home builder KB Homes (one of the largest home builders in the country) stating that orders for new home construction are up over 50% in this Jan from last Jan of 2012.  The company is feeling positive momentum and is going to be offering $100 Million dollars worth of stock for land acquisition/development, as well as general purposes.  Its stock hovering around 18 has been up 74% in the past 6 months.  Furthermore it has expanded into mortgage banking services as it has teamed with Nationstar Mortgage Holdings to form Home Community Mortgage LLC.

KB Homes position is not unique, as DR Horton (another nationwide home builder) has found itself expanding again.  The housing market is indeed turning around in a positive direction.  Now we only need to see if the resale current existing homes can go positive as well.

In the statement that A rising tide lifts all boats, its possible that in the future if home resales don't go positive it will have to be restated: A rising tide lifts all new boats.

Today's Tidbit:  Several things are going on.  First the Alabama Super RV show is going on from 1/25-27 at the VBC.  2nd, The 2013 Explorers Ball is celebrating 40 Years of Skylab at the Davidson Center at the US Space and Rocket Center on 1/31. Lastly, what does everyone think of American Airlines new logo?

Huntsville Metro Area Homes

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Alabama and Huntsville, Economic Growth & Bagels

The State of Alabama was ranked at Number 5 in the economic growth category for the last three months of 2012 from research by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.  Alabama came behind South Carolina, Nevada, Idaho, and Utah.  Hopefully the path will continue with the good work the state is doing at the state government level and the private ownership level.

The Vermont based bagel chain Bruegger's Bagels has claimed they are going to promote aggressive expansion in the Huntsville Alabama Metro Business Market with a possible six new stores in the region.

Bruegger's Bagels President David Austin: "Huntsville's economy continues to outperform the U.S. economy and our corporate locations in these markets have a loyal following,  We are eager to find franchise partners who will take advantage of this great opportunity to advance their own enterprise and continue Bruegger's Bagels' positive growth in the region."

This is very encouraging news from a jobs standpoint and economic standpoint.

Today's Tidbit:  With the growth of Brueggers and the new eateries going up around the new Madison Hospital, could this lead to more expansion of other eating establishments in both South Huntsville and West Huntsville in Limestone County?

Huntsville Metro Area Homes

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Little Self Promotion - Virtual Tour Style

Come take a wonderful look at this virtual tour of 138 Rockhill Drive in Meridianville.  Click and see if its something you may be interested in!  Give us a call using the contact info at the top of the page!

Play VisualTour

Foreclosures Up Nationwide in 2013 - RealtyTrac says Yes.

There have been two private sources that have confirmed that there will be more foreclosures hitting the market for 2013.  The new story from RealtyTrac confirms that to be true.

The opening statement from Dow Jones Newswires -

"The number of U.S. properties with foreclosure filings fell 3% in 2012 from 2011, but a backlog of delayed foreclosures could contribute to increased activity this year, according to market researcher RealtyTrac."

And the paragraph later down...

"Foreclosure activity increased in 25 states last year and 20 of those states use the longer judicial foreclosure process."

And this to add on to that segment...

" 'We expect to see continued increases in judicial foreclosure states near the beginning of the year as lenders finish catching up with the backlogs in those states, and another set of increases in some nonjudicial states near the end of the year as lenders adjust to the new laws and process some deferred foreclosures in those states,' said RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist."

So if you're in the mindset of looking for foreclosures, especially here in the Huntsville Alabama Metro Area. Then keep an active eye on the real estate, you never know what might pop up.  We here at Huntsville Metro Area Homes will be sure to be following this closely.

Today's Tidbit:  Good news for University of Alabama - Huntsville NCAA Division I ice hockey program.  The WCHA, one of the oldest & successful hockey conferences, has extended an invitation for UAH to join and was accepted yesterday afternoon at the annual NCAA Convention, which took place in Dallas this year.  

Huntsville Metro Area Homes

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Homes Leading the Way in Housing Growth

With the Real Estate Housing Market slowly coming alive once again, the one leading the charge into positive territory is the New Construction.  Here in the Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Market, we have seen this first hand with the many new construction subdivisions popping up all over the Metro Area.  From West Huntsville to South Huntsville, Construction companies of Breland Homes and Hunter Communities, these new subdivisions have seen growth as clients are supporting these over resale homes.  Clients are getting a competitive price for something new against a resale home which may or may not need a little extra TLC.

With Housing Up 6%, hopefully the market will continue to heal itself and lead to more confident home ownership. The link below will take you to a video talking about possible changes to Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac.  It is certainly worth thinking about as more taxpayers are on the line for mortgages as more people get back into the housing market.

BlackRock Vice Chairman Barbara Novick

Today's Tidbit:  It has been a soggy week in the Huntsville Metro Area.  This is the 6th? day of rain...due to a stuck stationary front over the Tennessee Valley.  This should be pushed out of the way as a new cold front comes through releasing sunshine for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and leading to very cold air on Monday and Tuesday in which the highs may not break the freezing point.  Save the pets and plants, keep them indoors.  Remember for local weather you may always go to,, or

Huntsville Metro Area Homes

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued new rules that will take effect Jan 21st.  Mortgage Lenders will have 1 year to implement the changes.  CNN Money had quick breakdown in an article they wrote.  Below are important questions and answers they put forth.

Which lenders do the rules cover? All companies that give out mortgages will be governed by the new rules -- big national banks, savings and loans, community banks and credit unions.
How is a "qualified mortgage" defined? The rules spell out what is called a qualified mortgage. To judge whether a loan is qualified, lenders must consider these factors:
  • Income and assets must be sufficient to repay the loan;
  • Borrowers must document their jobs;
  • Credit scores must meet minimum standards;
  • Monthly payments must be affordable;
  • Borrowers must be able to afford other debts associated with the property such as home equity loans;
  • Borrowers must be able to afford all home-related expenses such as property taxes; and
  • Lenders must consider a borrower's other obligations like student loans, car loans and credit cards.

What if a borrower doesn't meet all those guidelines? A homebuyer could still get a mortgage, but only if the mortgage payments don't exceed 43% of the borrower's pre-tax income.
What other requirements are there? When judging ability to repay, lenders can't use payments based on interest-only loans or so-called negative-amortization rates, in which mortgage balances grow over time.
They also can't use teaser rates, which adjust higher after a set term. Loan terms cannot exceed 30 years, and up-front fees, such as points paid to reduce interest rates, must not be excessive.
To be clear: The rules don't prohibit those unconventional types of loans. But lenders, in deciding whether to give out such a loan, must judge a borrower's ability to repay as if the loan were a conventional loan.
When will the rules go into effect? The rules start to kick in by January 21, but lenders will have 12 months to fully implement them.
What about jumbo loans? The ability -to-repay rule covers even the large, so-called jumbo loans, which are not backed by any government agencies such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Are there any exceptions? People with subprime adjustable-rate mortgages or other risky loans who are refinancing can do so without going through the full underwriting process required by the new rules.
**The CFPB is also proposing that mortgages issued by certain non-profits for low-income homebuyers be exempt from the rules. The agency also wants to make exceptions for some refinacings made through the Home Affordable Modification Program and for some loans issued by small community lenders. These proposals, if approved, will be finalized this spring.
Today's Tidbit:  Hard to believe we are at the end of the 2nd week of Jan.  The year had just started and already we're rolling along.  For the most part everyone is in a great mood, of course that could be the afterglow of Alabama's dominating victory over formerly #1 Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Orange Bowl down in Miami.  There's not many things that bring a community together more than a collectively joyful experience.  Sociologists call this a great collective mood enhancer for those affected by several weeks and at times several months depending on the situation, environment, and memories.  Back to Back championships are a rare thing in sports, 3 in four years becomes even more rare.  If you're listening to the national media, they talk about dynasties.  A true dynasty is the SEC winning 7 national titles in a row.  Alabama is on the right track and hopefully all the good will and great emotions will continue to flow to the rest us here in the state.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Looking International from Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Market

Sometimes its best to poke your head out of the sand and see what's going on the in the rest of the world.  That's what this post today will look at.  We've managed to find three articles online and broke them down to give you the relevant information.

The articles talked about China, Italy, & New Zealand.

In China, property values are continuing to rise despite all the effort the centralized government has put to curtail it from getting too expensive for potential home buyers.  The article from the DowJones Newswires put the average of 216 dollars / square meter  converting that for easier consumption for us that would be slightly over 20 dollars a square foot.  China's government has been restricting sales and bank credit in an effort to stop the rising price levels as well as appease its newly upwardly mobile middle class which are having fits in the increase of prices.  Price levels are expected to rise more again in 2013 and beyond.

Tecnocasa, an Italian Real Estate Agency, is predicting a 3-5% fall in sales prices in Italy nationwide.  However in large cities such as Rome and Milan, its expected that prices will stay somewhat stable.  Price declines in Italy are due to its collapsing economy and austerity package which had tax on single family homes included.

New Zealand is having a similar state to China.  There is increased demand for homes driving prices upwards, but there is also rebuilding continuing after over 10,000 homes were damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes of late 2010.  Government is expecting homes sales to drive a stronger economy going forward, but warn against a possible housing bubble.

Today's Tidbit:  Business happens all around the world and become a chain reaction of good or bad if we're not watching out.  So every now and again take a look around outside your local sphere, there might be something out there that could impact you.

Huntsville Metro Area Homes

Monday, January 7, 2013

Article from Allied Vans Moving Company about people relocating

Recently we found this infograph which is very important to both the Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Market and to the business market as a whole.  Below is a study by Allied Vans' Moving Company on the latest migration pattern within United States and Canada.  Blue represents incoming population, Red represents almost equal inbound and outbound population, and Yellow represents outgoing population.

For the fractions, bottom=2012 total inward migration #; top=2012 total outward migration #

Read more:

Most of this fits with a few exceptions with the map put together below by on the best states for business.

2012 Migration Patterns
2012 Migration Patterns by Atlas Van Lines

Today's Tidbit:  Remember the above is just one example from one company.  However, its best to take a look at the number and see where the highest difference in numbers is.  From there you can then look deeper to find why there's either a large exodus or large population boom coming for that state.

Huntsville Metro Area Homes

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year from your Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Market Professionals

We would like to wish all of you a very Happy New Year.  2013 came right at us like one of those Japanese Bullet Trains, non-stop I believe.  But we're here now in 2013 and its time to concentrate on the here and now and make the best of it.

Our hopes are with our own, our family, and our clients health.  To continue with a healthy business environment here in the Huntsville Alabama Metro Real Estate Market, which will in itself will make the market better.

We will strive to make this a better year for our clients and ourselves.  This is the time when we feel we have the most energy out there to harness and put it to use.

For 2013, let's all make a great beginning here in the Huntsville Metro Area!!!

Today's Tidbit:  This year the City of Huntsville will be 208 years old.  Still shining brightly after all these years.

Huntsville Metro Area Homes