American flag

Memorial Day is observed this Monday, May 25th in the United States of America as a time for remembering and honoring the men and woman who have died while serving in one of the USA Armed Forces. Please take the time to remember them as you celebrate the weekend.

Here are a few of the many things happening this Memorial Weekend in the St Petersburg, Clearwater Florida area.

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

22nd Annual Corvettes at the Pier Show
All Corvette car show featuring Corvettes from the early 1950’s to current year, including stock, modified, custom and race prepared Corvettes.  8am-4pm. FREE and open to the public. South Straub Park, 198 Bayshore Drive Northeast. 

Public Walking Mural Tour
Florida Craftsmen, Inc. along with the City Of St. Pete host PUBLIC walking mural tours of the Burg every Saturday. Tours 10-11:30am. Every Saturday at 10am except for the second Saturday of each month when tours will be held at 4pm. $19 for adults, $11 for children and FREE for kids ages 5 and under. Tour begins at Florida Craftsmen located at 501 Central Avenue.

BURGATORY Fest & PBR Burger Bash
Burgatory Fest is taking over the The 600 Block of St. Petersburg once again Memorial Day weekend, and Pabst Blue Ribbon is bringing the heat with The PBR Burger Bash! Lineup: Wolf-Face, Sunshine State, Mighty Mongo, FERO LUX, Reveal Renew, Teen Agers, You Vandal, Operator, Buffalo Buffalo, New Cathedral, Caffiends, Career (Formely Ink & Sweat), Stegosaurus, Worst Party Ever. The event goes from 4pm-midnight on Saturday. tickets-Happening on the 600 Block of Central Avenue at The Local 662 and Fubar. 

Sunset Cinema at Pier 60, 10 Pier 60 Drive, Clearwater Beach, Saturday, May 23rd 8pm

Bring blankets or low lawn chairs to watch free movies on a jumbo sized screen. No alcohol. Shows start around dusk.

Saturday features the Cobbler (PG-13). Free

Tampa Bay Rays vs Oakland Athletics
The Rays host the Athletics this weekend. Tickets. Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Drive. 

Memorial Weekend Concert @ Sundial St. Pete
Join the Sundial Saturday for a FREE courtyard concert! The Florida Orchestra’s Brass Quintet will perform well-known American standards and patriotic songs. 1-2pm. FREE and open to the public. Sundial, 153 2nd Avenue North. 

Expressions Academy of Dance presents “Oh, So Fancy” @ Palladium Theater
Lara Narzinsky and Tonya Narzinsky, Directors of Expressions Academy of Dance, are proud to showcase some of the most talented dancers in Pinellas County. From classical ballet to the latest hip hop moves. 3pm. Tickets between $22-$26. Palladium Theater, 253 5th Avenue North. 

Sunday, May 24th, 2015 8 pm   Steve Earle and the Dukes  405 Cleveland St., Clearwater, FL

The tour pays tribute to the blues along with Steve Earle’s own influences of rockabilly, folk, rock ‘n’ roll, and more. $39.50-$59.50.(727) 791-7400

Eucador

Daily Real Estate News | Thursday, May 14, 2015

The National Association of REALTORS® is expanding its presence across the world in an effort to educate more practitioners living in other countries as real estate increasingly becomes a global business.

More international real estate conferences and summits will be held in the U.S. and abroad this year to connect American REALTORS® with those overseas, NAR’s Global Business & Alliances Committee announced during the 2015 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Here are a few of the biggest ones:

  • The first-ever International REALTOR® Conference will be held July 27 to 30 in Manila, Philippines, with the event’s main goal being to help REALTORS® in all corners of the globe conform to the Code of Ethics. “The REALTOR® brand is no longer an American brand,” said Shonee Henry, GBAC’s regional coordinator to Asia Pacific. “It’s now a global brand.”
  • Tony Hanna, president of the Association of Professional Real Estate Agents of Mexico, announced a new initiative of the organization called AMPI USA. It’s aimed at teaching REALTORS® in the U.S. how to do business in Mexico. Courses on the topic will be offered at the AMPI International Real Estate Summit in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, which will be held June 24 to 28.
  • In November, the Miami Association of REALTORS® will be holding its 21st annual International Real Estate Congress, a popular networking event that brings foreign investors and developers together with real estate professionals in a world-class city. But for the first time in its history, part of it will be held in the host city of NAR’s REALTORS® Conference & Expo, which is San Diego this year, so those already planning to attend NAR’s event can experience IREC as well. MAR has partnered with the San Diego Association of REALTORS® to host the second leg of the event Nov. 10 and 11just before the kickoff of NAR’s conference on Nov. 13. The first leg of IREC will be held in Miami Nov. 8 and 9.

Several delegates from NAR’s partnering organizations in foreign countries also were on hand to explain how NAR has helped them expand the REALTOR® brand at home.

Greece: The Greek economy is only now entering recovery mode, said Nikos Manomenidis, president of the Central European Real Estate Associations Network. That’s ushering in expanded opportunities for practitioners there, which has prompted a move to strengthen real estate standards there. Greek real estate organizations are now in the process of establishing the country’s first MLS, and they are adopting NAR’s Code of Ethics.

Canada: An astounding 72 percent of REALTORS® in Canada don’t collect referral fees, said Pauline Aunger, president of the Canadian Real Estate Association. That’s a lot of money being left on the table, particularly for the 10 percent of Canadian REALTORS® who work with international buyers and sellers, she said. CREA is working with NAR to teach its members how to establish and use referral fees, and CREA has also partnered with NAR to create the country’s first course for the Certified International Property Specialist designation.

Romania: In the 10 years since he first attended an NAR convention, Dan Negulescu, president of the Romanian Association of Real Estate Agencies, has helped build the country’s “mini NAR.” The organization has launched Romania’s first MLS, established commission structures, and adopted the Code of Ethics.

Taiwan: Michael Tseng, vice president of the Taipei Association of Real Estate Brokers, was the first Certified Commercial Investment Member designee in his country. Since then, he has launched several CCIM  initiatives, eventually making courses for the designation part of standard curriculum at Taiwanese universities. Higher-ed institutions in the country now also provide coursework for students to get their real estate license.

Jamaica: Five years ago, Jamaican REALTORS® launched their first MLS, and that’s a big reason why the nation has become the most popular in the Caribbean for U.S. buyers looking to purchase a second home, said Howard Johnson, past president of the REALTORS® Association of Jamaica. The country now has 700 REALTORS®, which represents 60 percent of all real estate practitioners in Jamaica, and they are hosting several trade missions a year from American associations.

—By Graham Wood, REALTOR® Magazine

 U.S. immigration regulations and procedures can be complex and rules change frequently.  As a real estate practitioner, even if you focus on global real estate,  you are not expected to, nor should you attempt, to play the role of an immigration attorney.

Visa Stamp

U.S. immigration regulations and procedures can be complex and rules change frequently.  As a real estate practitioner, even if you focus on global real estate,  you are not expected to, nor should you attempt, to play the role of an immigration attorney.  However, foreign real estate investors want (and need) to know how U.S. visa regulations may impact access to their properties. The U.S. government places few restrictions on ownership of real estate by foreign individuals and companies, making it fairly easy for international investors to purchase U.S. properties.  But before a foreign buyer makes a purchase, they need to understand that their access to the property may be limited in terms of permissible entry and length of stay.  The type of visa a foreigner has been issued can make an enormous difference.

Real Estate professionals should not offer advice about immigration and visa matters; however, they should be aware of visa regulations. General knowledge of visa matters can help the real estate professional alert foreign buyers and sellers so that they can seek expert advice and make informed decisions.  Below is information regarding different visa types.  If you are working with global clients, this information should be on your radar.

Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa, for stays of 90 days or less for tourism or business.  Those who wish to stay longer need to apply for a visa.  It is important to note that Canadian citizens do not fall under VWP.  They may stay in the U.S. for up to six months.

The following are examples of activities permitted while in the United States on the VWP[1].

Business:

  • consult with business associate
  • attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
  • attend short-term training (you may not be paid by any source in the United States with the exception of expenses incidental to your stay)
  • negotiate a contract

Tourism:

  • vacation
  • visit with friends or relatives
  • medical treatment
  • participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
  • enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

The following are some examples of activities not permitted on the VWP and require visas for travel to the United States:

  • study, for credit
  • employment
  • work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media
  • permanent residence in the United States

As real estate professionals, it’s important to know that VWP visitors may view and purchase residential or business property, survey sites for an investment or business venture, and sign contracts. However, they may not remain in the country to manage a business or seek employment.

VWP

Visas for Personal and Business Travel

B-1 Business Visa

The B-1 Business Visa permits the following: consulting with business associates; traveling for a scientific, educational, professional or business convention, or a conference on specific dates; settling an estate; negotiating a contract; and participating in short-term training.

The B-1 Visa holder may receive reimbursement of expenses, but not U.S.-sourced salary, wages, or consulting fees. Direct management of a business is not allowed. Permitted stay is the length of time deemed fair and reasonable in which to accomplish the intended activity, up to a maximum of 6 months; a B-1 Visa holder may obtain one extension, up to a maximum stay of one year. Spouses and dependents traveling with the B-1 Visa holder must apply separately for a B-2 visa.

B-2 Pleasure/Tourism Visa

A B-2 Pleasure/Tourism Visa permits: touring and sightseeing; visiting relatives and friends; undergoing medical treatment; attendance at a conference or convention of a social or fraternal organization.  A B-2 Visa holder may not engage in any business activity or receive any salary, wages, consulting fees, or expense reimbursement.

L-1 Intracompany Transferee

An L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa applies to individuals who own or work for foreign corporations directly related to U.S. corporations. Executive, managerial, or special-knowledge employment is required. Maximum stay, with an initial stay of three years and two-year extensions, is seven years. Visa holders may be accompanied by a spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age. This visa also enables a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive, manager, or employee with specialized knowledge to the U.S. to establish or help establish such an office.

E-1 Treaty Trader

E-1 Treaty Trader Visas are granted to individuals from countries that have a treaty of trade and commerce with the USA. The visa is initially granted for a two-year stay; extensions may be granted in two-year increments, with no maximum number of extensions. Visa holders may be accompanied by a spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age.

E-2 Treaty Investor

Permits a foreign individual to reside in the USA while actively investing in, operating, and managing a U.S. business.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor                             

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa is available to immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. to invest in a business in a Regional Center, an economic unit, public or private, that promotes economic growth in a defined geographical area.  Visa holders may be accompanied by a spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21.   The following stipulations apply:

  • The investment must be at least US $1 million. However, if the business is in a designated target employment area—by law, a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average—the minimum initial investment is US $500,000.
  • The commercial enterprise, which can be either a new business or an investment in a troubled business, must benefit the U.S. economy by providing goods and services to U.S. markets
  • The business must create full-time employment for at least 10 U.S. workers.
  • If the investment is to benefit a troubled business, pre-investment employment levels must be maintained for at least two years.
  • The investor/visa holder must be involved in the day-to-day management of the business or be involved in managing business policy (e.g., as a corporate officer or board member.

H-1B Specialized

The H-1B Specialized Visa enables an individual with a bachelor’s degree, from the USA or abroad, to remain in the country for 6 years while employed in a professional position with a U.S. employer.

H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers

This visa allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the U.S. to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs. This visa is particularly relevant to resort areas, for employers filling seasonal employment needs.

O1 Extraordinary

To qualify for an O1 visa, the applicant must demonstrate that they possess an extraordinary ability in one of the following fields: athletics; arts, motion picture or television industry; business; education; or science.  The applicant must have a temporary offer of employment from a U.S. employer or agent to work in their field of expertise. An O1 visa is usually granted for an initial period of up to 3 years and extensions may be granted.

**********************

This brief overview provides only basic information, and it is important to remember that regulations are consistently changing.  For example, the recent terrorist attacks in Paris have left some members of Congress questioning the security of the Visa Waiver Program.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told the Washington Post “the Visa Waiver Program is a weak link in our efforts to keep violent extremists out of our country and needs to be tightened up.” Feinstein said she plans to introduce legislation in this Congress to tighten up the program’s security.

Again, you are not expected to have the same insight as immigration specialists, and you should always refer your clients to an expert, but as a real estate professional who works with international clients it is important to have general knowledge of the issue so you are ready and able to point your clients in the right direction.

To learn more about U.S. visa regulations and how to best serve international clients, sign up for the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Course: Transaction Tools. This course provides you with the tools needed to present investment information to international clients. You will learn how to measure investment performance, prepare financial projections, and understand the effects of U.S. visa regulations, taxes and exchange rates on investment.


[1] US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs,  http://travel.state.gov

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 I came across this article the other day at http://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com & thought it was definitely worth sharing.

Selling Your Home? The Importance of Using an Agent

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Selling Your Home? The Importance of Using an Agent | Keeping Current Matters

When a homeowner decides to sell their house, they obviously want the best possible price with the least amount of hassles. However, for the vast majority of sellers, the most important result is to actually get the home sold.

In order to accomplish all three goals, a seller should realize the importance of using a real estate professional. We realize that technology has changed the purchaser’s behavior during the home buying process. For the past two years, 92% of all buyers have used the internet in their home search according to the National Association of Realtors’ most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers.

However, the report also revealed that for the second year in a row 96% percent of buyers that used the internet when searching for a home purchased their home through either a real estate agent/broker or from a builder or builder’s agent. Only 2% purchased their home directly from a seller whom the buyer didn’t know.

Buyers search for a home online but then depend on an agent to find the actual home they will buy (53%) or negotiate the terms of the sale & price (31%) or understand the process (63%).

Stephen Phillips, the Chief Operating Officer for HSF Affiliates LLC, put it best:

“Home buyers are more informed than ever with their Internet searches and ongoing research; however, there’s a critical need to transform that information into analysis and advice that helps consumers make the best home-buying and selling decisions.

The plethora of information now available has resulted in an increase in the percentage of buyers that reach out to real estate professionals to “connect the dots”. This is obvious as the percentage of overall buyers who used an agent to buy their home has steadily increased from 69% in 2001.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling your home, don’t underestimate the role a real estate professional can play in the process.

Act Quickly and register now for PIC’s amazing Trade Mission trip to Costa Rica!!
Join fellow Pinellas International Council members as they travel to Costa Rica to learn about the real estate market and culture there! PRO-International-Council-logo-2-300x115

You must be a Realtor to attend. During this one week trip you will:
Tour homes and properties in Costa Rica
Meet local Realtors and developers who will teach you about:
a. Real estate laws
b. Healthcare 

c. Retiring in Costa Rica

d. Building costs and materials

e. and much more!
There are also many wonderful lunches and dinners planned. “Free time” is also built in so you can explore at your leisure. The networking will be priceless, and you will come back with a wealth of knowledge that you won’t get anywhere else.
Places that we will visit while in Costa Rica include: Tamarindo * Flamingo * Potrero * Las Catalinas * Tilaran * La Fortuna * San Ramon * Naranjo * Sarchi * Grecia * Puriscal * Escazu * Santa Ana * Santa Barbara * San Jose
WHEN: Depart Tampa at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, July 10, 2015 Arrive back to Tampa at 9:00 p.m. on Friday, July 17, 2015
COST: $1,890 per person. This includes airfare, transportation in Costa Rica, accommodations, and travel insurance. NOT INCLUDED: transportation to and from Tampa International Airport, four lunches, and four dinners.
DEPOSIT: $668 is due at registration (NOT refundable). Registration deadline is May 19, 2015. Please contact PRO to register.
BALANCE: The remaining balance is due by June 10, 2015.
Hope to see you in Costa Rica!!

In keeping with Earth Day…The Green Thumb Festival-St Petersburg’s Arbor Day Celebration

April 25-26th 9-4pm, Walter Fuller Park, 7891 26thAve N,   www.stpeteparksrec.org

plant care, garden gadgets, water conservation, garden clubs, flower show, educational programs, FREE mulch & much more!

Garden Tour @ Sunken Gardens Friday, April 24th, 2014
Every Friday enjoy a tour of the iconic gardens. 10-11am. FREE with admission ($8 adults, $4 for children). Sunken Gardens 1825 4th Street North.

~~~~~~  ~~~~~~  ~~~~~~

Monet to Matisse: On The French Coast @ Museum Of Fine Arts    Monet to Matisse close-up
In honor of its 50th Anniversary celebrations, the Museum of Fine Arts is organizing Monet to Matisse—On the French Coast. From public and private collections in North America and Europe, it explores and compares for the first time ever Impressionist and Modernist visions of the Atlantic and Mediterranean Coasts of France. February 7-May 31. Adults $17, Seniors and Military with ID $15, College Students $10, Child (7-18) $10, Child (6 and under) FREE. Open Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm; Sunday 12-5pm; Open until 8pm on Thursdays with $5 after 5pm. Museum Of Fine Arts 255 Beach Drive Northeast.

African American Life & Family @ Museum Of Fine Arts
In the late 1880s, both black and white photographers recorded images of black Americans seeking new lives, new identities, new prospects, and new jobs (often in major cities) after the end of slavery…. changing the visual representation of black America. January 17-May 3. Adults $17, Military with ID $15, College Students $10, Child (7-18) $10, Child (6 and under) FREE. Open Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm. Museum Of Fine Arts 255 Beach Dr NE.

XLVII Regata del Sol al Sol: International Race to Mexico Friday, April 24th, 2015
Race start is from the St. Petersburg Marina, Demens Landing and the Pier Approach. Open ocean sailing regatta held each year starting in St. Pete and finishing in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. 
Start of race TBD. St. Pete Yacht Club, 11 Central Avenue.

Rays banners at Tropicana Rays Evan at bat Rays Evan Rays Mickey

Tampa Bay Rays vs Toronto Blue Jays Friday, April 24th, 2015 7:10pm, also Saturday at 7:10pm and Sunday at 1:10pm
The Rays take on the Blue Jays. Purchase  online or at the stadium
. Tropicana Field 1 Tropicana Drive, St Pete

Harvey @ freeFall Theatre
The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Harvey. Elwood, who spends his days in the company of his best friend Harvey, a six-foot three-and-one-half-inch tall white rabbit that only he sees.  April 11-May 3. Play begins at 8pm on Saturday, 2pm on Sunday and 7pm on Thursdays and 8pm on Fridays. for ticket information. freeFall Theatre, 6099 Central Avenue.

Fun with Ferraro and Friends @ Enigma St. Pete Friday, May 24
This event is a unique blend of glamour, camp, comedy, burlesque, show girl and shock drag! The event is hosted by the talented Daphne Ferraro. Shows at 9:30pm and 11pm. No cover plus drink specials. Enigma St. Pete, 1110 Central Avenue.
Museum Of Fine Arts Retro Beach Bash (April 24)
The Contemporaries focus on supporting contemporary artists and exhibitions throughout the Tampa Bay area.The Beach Bash takes place the night of the Collectors Choice Gala, as the Collectors Circle celebrates their 20th Anniversary. Los Angeles-based band SWIMM will take the stage. Comprised primarily of Chris Hess and Adam Winn, they write, record, and play live with several friends. Blending elements of dance music, rock n’ roll and shoegaze with psychedelia. Event begins at 8pm on Friday, April 24. Tickets are $100. All ticket holders will receive a 1-year membership to the MFA. Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive NE, St Pete

Saturday Morning Market April 25th
 The largest farmer’s market in Florida for a variety of fresh and organic produce, gourmet baked goods, prepared foods, plants and flowers, arts and crafts or a variety of handcrafted items. The Market is held each Saturday from October 5 through May 30, 2015. FREE to attend. Al Lang Stadium parking lot on the corner of 1st Ave S and 1st Street South.

Rowdies vs Jacksonville Official Pre-Game Party @ Rowdies Den
Join Ralph’s Mob at Rowdies Den before THE Tampa Bay Rowdies take on Jacksonville Armada FC. Eat, drink, #RowdiesFace painting. Begins at 4pm. Open to the public! Rowdies Den, 200 1st Avenue South.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs Jacksonville Armada FC
 Come cheer them on to their first home victory against the Jacksonville Armada this Saturday. Game begins at 7:30pm Al Lang Stadium, 230 1st Street South.

Kill The Keg @ Sly Bar
Each weekend a different keg is up for emptying. Begins at 8pm. $12. Sly Bar, 2061 Central Avenue.

The Mahaffey 50th Anniversary Kickoff Event

The public is invited to a kickoff celebration for The Mahaffey Theater’s 50th Anniversary Week. Guests, including St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and U.S. Representative David Jolly, and several Pinellas County school bands. Anniversary week shows include The Price is Right – Live on April 26, Alanis Morissette on April 28, Zeppelin USA on April 29, Jerry Seinfeld (three performances April 30 and May 1) and the Florida Orchestra with Holst’s “The Planets” on May 2.Takes place at the outdoor plaza between the Mahaffey and the Dali, 400 1st Street South. check their website for more info

On Earth Day, give a gift to the planet by planting a tree. With this simple act, you celebrate the earth by increasing its leafy canopy. One acre of forest absorbs 6 tons of carbon dioxide and returns 4 tons of oxygen to about 18 people for a year. Not bad, eh?  Okay, so you can’t plant a tree in the ground because you live in an apartment or a  condo or you have 2 red thumbs. Well, then buy a potted tree to put on your balcony or in your courtyard. Every little leaf helps. Me? Why I’m planting yet another lemon tree today-in a very large pot to keep the size of the tree in check & easier for me to maintain.

In the meantime, try these quizzes:

http://www.earthday.org/splash_page.php                                   royalty-free-earth-clipart-illustration-1104663

http://worldhistoryproject.org/quizzes/earth_day

And visit these sites:

http://www.earthday.org/

http://www2.epa.gov/earthday

This article has some great advice for buying a home in today’s market, especially the part referring to moving quickly and making a reasonable offer.

Marko Rubel, Real Estate Investor, Founder, RealEstateMoney.com

In many cities and neighborhoods around the country, it’s a seller’s market. The National Association of REALTORS officially declared there was a housing supply shortage and homes are starting to sell fast and for high prices. While it’s great to be a seller in this market, it is tough to be a buyer. However, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a great house out there for you to purchase; it just means your buying strategies must change to reflect the current market.

If you are looking to buy a home, be it your forever home or an investment property, don’t let a seller’s market scare you. This isn’t the first seller’s market, and it certainly won’t be the last. A number of my students have asked, “Marko Rubel, should I just wait out the market until I have the upper hand?”

While this largely depends on the individual’s situation, a seller’s market doesn’t mean you have to wait. If you are in the market for a home now, you can certainly proceed, but be aware of the key elements of smart home buying tactics in a seller’s market:

Check Your Credit in Advance
Before you even start looking for a home, check your credit. Even 12 months isn’t too early to start getting your finances in order before buying a house. By checking your credit early, you can ensure that there aren’t any mistakes that are lowering your score. It takes time to correct issues such as these, so don’t delay.

Get Pre-approved
Along with checking your credit, get preapproved by a lender before looking at houses. Not only will this confirm what you are able to spend on a home, it also eliminates a huge step in the process. Furthermore, being preapproved is attractive to sellers because they know you are prepared and serious about buying.

Stay Within or Under Your Budget
In a seller’s market, gone are the days of making a lower bid on a home and scoring a deal. Not only will prices be higher, but in many areas there are multiple offers on homes. By looking at homes at or above your budget, you may have to still offer more to get the home. Don’t waste time and energy on making an offer only to realize you don’t have the funds to outbid another buyer.

Look For Potential
While this is more common with first time home buyers, don’t assume you can find your perfect dream home within your budget. This is especially the case in a seller’s market. This doesn’t mean you have to settle for a home you’ll never love; but it does mean you may have to use your imagination and overlook the small problems, such as stained carpet, old wallpaper, and loose door knobs. Focus on finding a good neighborhood and a home that has a solid foundation.

Be Ready to Move Quickly
In a seller’s market, homes sell quickly and, in particularly competitive neighborhoods, homes can sell within the first few days of being listed. If you see a home you would seriously consider buying, talk with your realtor about making an offer. Don’t dwell and think about a house only to find out someone beat you to the punch.

Make a Competitive Offer
A seller’s market is not the time to make lowball offers. Before you submit an offer, get an idea of what neighboring homes sold for recently. Your realtor should be able to give you an estimate of what the home is truly worth. From there, make a competitive offer. If you bid too low, a seller may not even come back with a counter offer; they could just say “no.” In this competitive market, there is a good chance you will have to be at or above listing price, so keep this in mind when making an offer.

If you are ready to buy a home, don’t let a seller’s market scare you away. It’s still possible to find a great home, but you do need to be ready to face a few challenges. However, by being prepared and having a strategy ahead of time, you can confidently navigate the market!

This is a great article to read if you are thinking about purchasing a second home, an investment property or a retirement home in another country.

 

House with an ocean view in the Dominican Republic

iStock Photo

David McKeegan, co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services, weighs in on the issues U.S. expats should consider when buying and selling foreign property.

Whether American expats are looking to buy overseas property as an investment, vacation home, rental or residence, taxes should always be top of mind.  Regardless of the potential return on investment, beauty, or the property’s fit into your expat lifestyle dream, consider these tax do’s & don’ts to ensure your purchase is one you don’t regret.

Do consider setting up a Limited Liability Company (LLC) to purchase the property
As a U.S. expat, if you are purchasing a foreign property primarily for investment purposes (either in your expat country or elsewhere outside of the U.S.), doing so as an individual may be the easiest but not the most advantageous decision. While tax time will be less complex (simply reporting rental income/expenses on your 1040), individual ownership offers you no liability protection. For LLCs with only one owner, the LLC is considered a “disregarded entity” for tax purposes, and all of the activity will be reported on the individual’s personal U.S. tax return.  This eliminates the burden of filing separate business tax returns and avoids the increased accounting fees associated with a business tax return.

Don’t ignore foreign-exchange rates
When you purchase a foreign property, you will likely transfer a large sum of money into your foreign bank account for the initial down payment.  Before you do, find out the foreign-exchange rates and fees associated with the transfer and even seek a professional broker who can ensure you obtain the most beneficial exchange rate possible—this could save you thousands of dollars when you buy and can impact your profit when you sell.

Remember that the U.S. may tax you on any resulting gains when you sell your property. The exchange rate gain from paying off a mortgage is calculated by converting the amount of the loan to USD using the exchange rate at the time the loan was originated and the exchange rate at the time the loan was paid off. The resulting gain is taxable as ordinary income using your marginal U.S. tax rate. If you have held the property for more than a year, however, you’ll be taxed at the long-term capital gains rate of 0%, 10% or 20%, depending on your marginal U.S. tax bracket.

Do deduct your mortgage interest and points from your U.S. Federal Tax Return filing
Mortgage interest and points are deductible on your U.S. expat tax return, even though the property is in a foreign country.  But the deduction can only be taken against income that has not been excluded by the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. So if you exclude all your foreign income, you’ll need to have U.S.-sourced income or non-excluded foreign income to use this deduction.

Don’t forget to reduce gains taxes with the Foreign Tax Credit
The gain on your foreign property sale may be taxed by the country in which the property is located, as well as the U.S. For U.S. tax purposes, this gain is considered foreign-sourced income, so you may be able to use the Foreign Tax Credit to reduce your resulting U.S. tax liability. However, the gain isn’t considered foreign earned income, so it cannot be excluded using the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

Do try to keep the home for 2-5 years
As a U.S. expat living the life of a digital nomad or bouncing around for your career, planning to live in a residence for 2 or more years may not be possible. But regardless, try not to sell for at least two years.  The reason is that when you live in the home for 2-5 years, you will be eligible to exclude a gain of up to $250,000 (or $500,000 for those filing married jointly) from U.S. taxation. If not, the full gain will be taxed at the applicable capital gains rates.

 

David McKeegan is Co-Founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services, which specializes in the expert preparation of U.S. federal tax returns for Americans living abroad.

Email us at expat@wsj.com. Follow us @WSJexpat. Join our Facebook group.

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566
AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

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  • Long time PRO member Bessie Lontakos passed away May 21, 2015
    LONTAKOS, Bessie N. 82, longtime resident of Tarpon Springs, passed away May 16, 2015. She was a real estate broker who owned and operated Spring Bayou Realty for many years. As a member of the Board of Realtors for over 40 years, she was awarded status of Emeritus Realtor. She served as a Tarpon Springs City [...]
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  • Long time PRO member Janet Shapiro passed away May 21, 2015
    Janet M. Shapiro, 85, of St. Petersburg, passed away May 19, 2015. Janet was born in Newark, NJ and worked for many years as a Realtor in the Tampa Bay Area. She was also a member of Congregation B’nai Israel in St. Petersburg. Janet is survived by her beloved husband of 63 years, Edwin; daughters, Lauren [...]
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  • PRO members go to Washington D.C. – what did they accomplish? May 18, 2015
    Last week 15 PRO members and staff joined thousands of their fellow Realtors in Washington, DC to discuss important issues facing Realtors and their clients.  PRO members were able to meet with Pinellas County’s three members of Congress – Rep. David Jolly, Rep. Kathy Castor, and Rep. Gus Bilirakis.  Click here to view the issues [...]
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  • SavvyRecipes for Success™ #3: Sell your listings faster with your SavvyCard for Agents Mobile App May 18, 2015
    This week, we are going to show you how to use your SavvyCard For Agents™ Mobile Web App to successfully market your listings and close deals faster. You’ll be amazed how awesome your SavvyCard® is at helping you sell property. Ready? Then let’s go! Watch successful REALTOR® Tom Scaglione discuss how he uses SavvyCard® for [...]
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  • SavvyRecipes for Success #2: Get new leads by sharing through social media May 11, 2015
    Generating new leads through social media is not hard, but it does take some planning and a little bit of daily attention. Doing so can significantly up your chances of catching the attention of a wider range of potential clients. In this SavvyRecipe for Success™ we introduce a simple yet effective way to share your [...]
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