Real Estate Notes

Real Estate Notes

Featuring eight homes and gardens, the Garden Club of Fairfax House & Garden Tour will be held on Tuesday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., during Historic Garden Week in Virginia. Tickets are $20 pre-tour sales; $25 day of tour; $15 single-site admission. Children 13 and older, full price; ages 6-12 half-price; ages 5 and under, free of charge. For advance tickets, including map and brochure, send a self-addressed stamped envelope, with a check payable to The Garden Club of Fairfax, by April 13 to: Mrs. George Whipple, 11508 Yates Ford Road, Fairfax Station, VA 22039. Call 703-978-4130. Tickets may also be purchased in advance at Contact the tour co-chairs: Roz Jones (703-759-6573) or Judith Landolt (703-250-1615).

More than 30 local sales offices of Weichert, Realtors recently sent shamrock-shaped cards wishing "love, luck and prayers" to U.S. military members serving overseas. The cards were decorated with personal messages and mailed to the troops in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Along with the cards, several office sales teams mailed photographs, food, clothing and personal care items to the troops. Family members, customers and members of the public also participated, expressing their thoughts and messages on the cards as well. The items were mailed to family and friends of Weichert associates who are serving in the Middle East, in addition to injured soldiers and their families at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Some 14 top Northern Virginia agents from Keller Williams Fairfax Gateway were selected to attend this year's 20th annual conference. Entitled "Family Reunion," the 2007 summit took place at The Mandalay Bay Conference Center in Las Vegas. Keller Williams Realty agents chose from 180 interactive workshops and professional seminars to attend. Among the top Northern Virginia Agents, Tim Horinko, Katrina Eaheart, Dawn May and Rich Anthony were singled out at a formal awards ceremony for individual recognition of their accomplishments and contributions to the real estate profession.

Beginning with mortgage loans originated on Jan. 1, 2007, private mortgage insurance is now deductible on federal income tax returns. Private mortgage insurance, or PMI as it is known, generally is required by lenders whenever the down payment is less than 20 percent.

According to Fred Watkins, president of Weichert Financial Services, the new tax break will make the dream of homeownership more attainable.

"We believe this new tax deductibility makes loans with private mortgage insurance more affordable. In some cases, it will enable buyers to qualify for a larger loan," he said.

As he explained, those buying with little or no money down typically weigh the financial pros and cons of a single loan carrying a PMI premium versus a piggyback or combo loan. The latter consists of a first mortgage plus a second mortgage at a higher interest rate. Now that PMI is federally tax deductible for qualified buyers, the single loan with PMI is now as affordable or, in some cases, even lower in overall cost versus most combo loans.

In addition, while second mortgages must be paid in full, typically homeowners may request the cancellation of PMI coverage once their home appreciates to the point that their new combined loan-to-value ratio is 78 percent.

According to the bill passed by Congress late in 2006, PMI premiums are fully deductible for buyers with adjusted gross incomes of $100,000 or less. Deductions are phased out at 10-percent increments for those with adjusted gross incomes between $100,001 and $110,000. The cost of private mortgage insurance generally averages one-half of one percent of the loan amount.

Weichert, Realtors is offering free informational career seminars.

* Centreville/Clifton — Tuesdays at 6 p.m. at 5955 Centreville Crest Lane, Centreville. Call Shane Keaton at 703-803-1000 to confirm reservation.

* Dulles/Sterling — Thursdays at noon and the first Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at 21351 Ridgetop Circle, Sterling. Call Becky Hanrahan at 703-444-4700 to confirm reservation.

* Fair Oaks — Fridays at 11 a.m. at 3998 Fair Ridge Dr., Fairfax. Call Cecil Frazier at 703-934-0400 to confirm reservation.

* Fairfax — Thursdays at noon and 6 p.m. at 10201 Fairfax Blvd., (Lee Hwy.) #140, Fairfax. Contact Kathy Shea at 703-691-0555.