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Tax Rules When Gifting Real Estate

by Tucker Robbins

gift of real estate

The gift of real estate is the gift that keeps on giving, and if you are in the place where you can do something like this for someone you love, you need to be sure to abide by the tax rules that are associated with giving such a large gift. 

  • It may be a good idea to give the cash for your loved one to purchase a house instead of purchasing a house for them.  You may think you know your relative or friend better than anyone but you may not know all their secret hopes and dreams because they may not tell you every little detail about themselves.  If you give cash to your loved one to buy a home you need to keep the amount at $14,000 or less.  The gift tax limit for a yearly gift called the annual exclusion allows you to give $14,000 cash or less to as many folks as you would like each year tax free.
  • Another great way to give the gift of real estate without disobeying any tax rules is to give the gift of a cash down payment. You will want to make sure that the loan officer knows that this is a gift and not a loan.  You will need to fill out the appropriate paperwork so that the fact that the down payment monies is a gift will be well clarified, otherwise you risk your friend or loved one losing out on getting their mortgage. 
  • If you would like to sell your children’s childhood home to them you may do so but be sure that you are careful how you do it.  Seller financing your home to your children is a great way to avoid being taxed to the max.  In this type of sale you basically will be given a small down payment and you will hold the note on the property.  This type of real estate gifting is great as long as you can trust your loved one to pay down the mortgage. 
  • Selling your home to your loved one at a low ball price is another way to give the gift of real estate all the while abiding by tax rules.  Of course the IRS may think you are crazy but once they see you are selling to a family member they will understand. 

Remember if you do decide to give the gift of real estate to abide by the tax rules and regulations and you will be sure to have some excited recipients! 

Courtesy of Wilmington DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.

How To Know When You've Found Your Dream Home

by Tucker Robbins

find dream home

When you are looking to find a mate to marry you may spend years and years before you find the one that is meant for you to be with, however you don’t need to look for years to find “the one” when it comes to house hunting.  There are ways to know when you have found the right house for you but you may need to make a few tweaks in your wish list to make it all possible.  Below are a few ideas to help make finding your dream home a bit easier. 

  • A good way to get started finding the house that you have always dreamed of owning is to make a list of your expectations.  You should list your must have items in order of how important they are to you.  As you begin house hunting you may want to rearrange your list a little depending on what you find on the market.  It may be helpful to put a star beside the expectations that are most important to you so that you don’t forget something.
  • It’s perfectly alright to look online as much as you want at houses when you are shopping for a home but it may be wise to limit your actual house viewings.  If you visit too many homes during your house search you may find that it becomes a bit overwhelming and you may also realize that you are trying to create the home of your dreams by piecing together bits and pieces of each house you look at.  Narrow down your actual house viewings to about four of your top picks.  This will help you to more easily narrow down your search and to make a final decision more quickly.  
  • If you find that you simply cannot find what you are looking for in the current real estate market, perhaps it may be best for you to stop looking for a month or two and wait to see what may pop up.  You may find that the home of your dreams is only a few short months away from being found. 

Again, you may need to make a few adjustments to your wish list once you start looking for a home but that doesn’t mean you cannot find the perfect home for you and your family.     If the house you choose doesn’t have everything you hoped it would, you can always add things once you move in. 

Courtesy of Wilmington DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.

4 Ways To Prepare Your Home for Vacation

by Tucker Robbins


Summer has arrived!  Many families plan for their summer vacation months in advance but did you know that you need to prepare your home for your vacation as well?  Below are a few tips on what you should do to prepare your home for your upcoming vacation.   

  1. Mow your grass before you leave for your vacation.  I would suggest that you set the mower on the shortest cut you can get so that you don’t have to worry about it growing up while you are gone.  If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time you may want to arrange to have a family member mow your yard at least once while you are gone.  Mowing your yard before vacation makes it look like you are still at home and therefore may keep away potential intruders. 
  2. Another thing you should do before you leave on vacation this coming summer is to contact the post office and have your mail canceled while you are gone.  You can pick your mail up at the post office once you arrive back home and start your service back up.  This may sound like a huge ordeal but it really is an easy way to keep things neat and tidy while you are away from home.  This simple act will also deter intruders.
  3. If you don’t want your house to stand out as if no one is home, you may need to install a flood light that is activated by motion outside of your home.  This way if someone walks up to your house that is not suppose to be there the neighbors will be able to see them and can report anything out of the ordinary.  Another thing you can do with lights is to set a few inside lights on a timer so that it looks like you are home.
  4. Some water heaters have a VAC mode otherwise known as a vacation mode. If you have this setting on your water heater it’s a good idea to use it while you are away.  Doing this is not only a good way to save on your bill but it is also a good way to avoid any type of flooding that may occur while you are gone.  The last thing you want to come home to is a flooded house due to a broken or burst pipe.

Hopefully these tips will get you started in the right direction before you set off on your summer vacation and you’ll be able to relax and have fun without worrying about your house! 

Courtesy of Wilmington DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.

Tips For Childproofing Your Home This Summer

by Tucker Robbins


It’s summer, and for many of you that means entertaining overnight guests.  While these visits are generally enjoyable, they do require many preparations in advance of the actual arrival:  readying rooms, collecting extra linens,  making menus ,  shopping for  groceries,  scheduling events and activities,  and the like..  A long list, yes, but even longer if some of your guests are young children, and your home has not been childproofed  recently.

Although child supervision and safety is primarily the responsibility of the parents, keep in mind that  household injuries are one of the top reasons children under age 3 visit the emergency room and do whatever you can to prevent an accident in your home..

Common sense dictates that you remove all fragile and sharp objects out of a child’s reach and that you do the same with any household product or medicine that could be toxic, but safety experts strongly suggest that you look at the home from a child’s perspective (on your hands and knees, if possible) to detect any less obvious health hazard.

Many inexpensive and relatively easy to install child-protection devices are available in hardware and children’s stores or online and  include such items as:

  • Plastic electrical outlet covers
  • Safety latches and locks for drawers and cabinets, especially in the kitchen and bathroom
  • Safety gates at tops and bottoms of stairs
  • Door knob covers and door locks
  • Window guards and safety netting
  • Corner an edge bumpers

Less obvious precautions may well require that you:

  • Keep purses and bags off the floor
  • Turn handles of pots on stove so that they face the back
  • Tie up window covering cords so that they are out of reach of children
  • Remove tablecloths and coverings that toddlers may try to pull themselves up on.
  • Frequently scan floor for potentially dangerous dropped items
  • Remove any plants that could be toxic if ingested
  • Keep the number for the National Poison Control Center – (800) 222-1222 in the United States – and your local emergency numbers close to every phone.

Visit for a comprehensive child safety checklist and consult it regularly to insure a happy and safe summer visit with children.

Courtesy of Wilmington DE Realtors Carol Arnott Robbins & Tucker Robbins.

How To Make Your New House Your Home

by Tucker Robbins


Congratulations! You’ve survived the process of leaving one home and finding another and the onus of packing everything up and then unpacking the same boxes.  You’ve found a new bank and a new doctor; you’ve investigated trash pick-up times, licensing requirements, and car registration; and your mail is being forwarded on a regular basis.  So far so good, but now that you’re somewhat settled in your home, it’s time to become familiar with your new environment.

The following tips are designed to help you become part of your new community and re-create the sense of belonging you had in your previous location.

  • Go online to learn about the new area and what it has to offer. Look at the city or chamber of commerce website. Research religious facilities, cultural opportunities, parks and outdoor activities, and so much more!
  • Acquire a regional map and drive around. Explore shortcuts and pinpoint the location of shopping malls, medical services, libraries, the post office, city offices, etc.
  • Talk to neighbors. Ask advice about home maintenance companies, babysitters, doctors, or the civic league or homeowners’ organization association.
  • Take a walking tour of your neighborhood. Introduce yourself to and initiate conversations with neighbors who are outside. Compliment their yard or ask directions, for starters.
  • Attend garage/yard sales in the vicinity of your home. Shoppers at these events are generally friendly and gregarious, so talk to them.
  • Read the local newspaper to discover places of interest and happenings in the area. Look for clubs or group meetings that focus on your interests--art, gardening, books, sports, crafts, e.g.
  • Join a recreation center or gym. Attend classes there or work out with a group that you know will share your interests.
  • Volunteer. Check with a church or synagogue, a hospital, library, or school near you. Volunteering is a terrific way to meet people and to make you feel an integral part of the community.
  • Give a house warming party and invite all your neighbors. Such an occasion is a good reason to finish unpacking and decorating your new home and a wonderful way to make friends..

Before long you will become familiar with your new environment and be comfortable there. Best of all, you’ll “belong” once again! 

Courtesy of Wilmington DE Realtor Tucker Robbins.

Don't Let Your Dream Home Slip Through Your Fingers

by Tucker Robbins

dream home

Perhaps you have been searching for your dream home and you have already found the one you really want but before you get a chance to do anything about it you drive by and notice it is ‘under contract’ or ‘pending’.  If this happens to you, don’t give up on your dreams there are things that you can do to make things go in your favor.  Below are a few ideas for you to try if you find that your dream home is about to slip through your fingers.

  • First of all if you find that the home you have your eye on is ‘under contract’ you need to know that you shouldn’t give up.  Under contract doesn’t mean that the sale has taken place it only means that an offer has been made but that it hasn’t closed yet.   There is still a good chance that the home may come back on the market again especially if the buyer cannot come up with the funds needed through financing.  Another reason a sale pending may fall through is if the inspection doesn’t work out.
  • Talk to your Realtor and let she or he know that you are interested in the house that is under contract.  Many times seller’s agents will continue to show a home until the last minute.  They do so because they may be hoping for a better offer than they currently have.  They also do this so that if the funding falls through for the current bidder they will have someone else in line to make an offer quickly afterwards. 
  • If you REALLY want this house and you don’t want it to slip through your fingers you can always make a higher bid than is currently in play.   If you can afford to do this, it can be an easy way to make things go in your favor. 
  • Sending a handwritten note to the seller is a great way to let them know just how serious you are about purchasing their home.  Hand written letters are pretty much a thing of the past these days and a handwritten note may make all the difference in the seller’s decision. 

Some of these tips for snatching your dream home  out of ‘under contract’ or ‘pending’ status are pretty unconventional but if you really want the home to be your own you may be willing to do whatever it may take. In the end if you don’t end up getting the home, there is another one out there that is better for you and your family. 

Courtesy of Wilmington DE Realtor Tucker Robbins.

How to Sell Your Home With Children Living In It

by Tucker Robbins


You may think that it might be impossible to sell your home while you and your children are living in it, especially if you have a lot of small children.  Selling your home doesn’t have to be a major headache as there are many tips and tricks to get the job done even with the little ones running around making messes everywhere.  Let’s take a look at a few tips on how to sell your home despite the "little people".

  • A good idea to get your kids involved in the process of selling your home is to get them to take care of any clutter they may see around the house.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be clutter they created, just any kind of mess that may be lying around will do.  Kids love to feel helpful and what better way to help them feel helpful than to get them to help.  If you have older kids you can perhaps motivate them with a bit of cash to get the job done correctly. 
  • You and your kids need to make a plan for when someone comes to tour your home so that you can all get out of the house together and have something fun to do.  When you have a last minute showing you and your children will easily remember that plan and head out together to wherever you have already decided upon.  A good place to go if it is summertime or springtime is the local park; if it’s cold the library might be a good option. 
  • Have your children be in charge of packing their own rooms away for the future move.  They can easily pick through their toys and pick out the ones they don’t play with as often and go ahead and pack them away in boxes.  This is also cool to do because once you finally make the big move it will feel like Christmas to them when they open the boxes filled with toys they had forgotten they had. 

Whatever you do, try to make the packing and moving as low key as you possibly can, for your sake as well as your children’s.  Kids can sense when you are upset or stressed about something and then they can upset and stressed.  Do your part to make the transition of selling your home as smooth as possible. 

Courtesy of Wilmington DE Realtor Tucker Robbins.

Veterans Housing Update

by Tucker Robbins

veterand day

Over the years there hasn’t been that much to talk about when it came to housing for Veterans but as the months and years go by things are beginning to look up for those who have protected our country and are still continuing to do so.  With Veteran’s Day being this week, it seems a good time to look at a few ways that veterans housing is improving for the better.   

  • Many companies are beginning to get on the band wagon of helping out veterans in our country.  One of those companies is the Arizona Fisher House.  This facility will provide housing for vets and their families who are being treated in medical facilities in Tucson Arizona.  This housing will be temporary while the vets are being treated but it will be provided at no charge to the veterans.   
  •  Homes For Heroes  is an awesome program that allows veterans as well as other home town heroes a chance to own a home of their own.  In order to find out more about homes for heroes you can look them up online.  This program offers great discounts to veterans and their families so that their dream of owning their own home can become a reality. 
  • Marmion Apartments in Los Angeles is offering housing for 24 veterans and their families as well as 24 low income families.  There are almost 3,000 homeless veterans in Los Angeles alone.  That number is not acceptable and this is one of the reasons why changes are finally being made. 
  • In Green Bay Wisconsin Veteran’s Manor will be opening in June for Veterans who need a place in which to live.  This location will offer 50 one bedroom apartments in which to house 50 veterans and their families. 
  • If Tennessee is where you call home you may want to check out Patriot Place which is a 34 unit apartment complex for Vets and their families. 

These are just a few ways that things are beginning to look up in the housing market for veterans.  I believe as time goes on we will see programs like this in our local community.  After all veterans have done and how much they and their families have sacrificed their lives for our country’s freedom, this is the least that can be done.  If you see a Veteran today, be sure to offer them your sincere thanks and appreciation for your freedom! 

Courtesy of Wilmington DE Realtor Tucker Robbins.

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Sooner – And Why You Want To

by Tucker Robbins

According to a DexOne Corporation survey, as reported by CT Power Team, “42% of Americans say that their mortgage is the debt they most want to eliminate.” That is a completely understandable goal when you consider the savings. The important question is "How can I do it?” Here are some examples…

mortgage payoff

  • Increase your monthly mortgage payments simply by adding a fixed amount to your required payments. The easiest way to do this is to use an increase in your income from time to time to increase the amount of your mortgage payment. Doing that does two things for you...
  1. It decreases the amount of principal owed by a larger amount each month.
  2. The following month, after making an increased payment, you pay less interest because of the larger decrease in the principle.

    The combination of the above two changes results in paying off the mortgage in less time than originally scheduled and you will pay significantly less total interest.
  • Make additional payments on the principle at any time if you can’t increase your regular monthly payment. You can do this anytime you have a little left over at the end of the month, or you get a bonus at the end of the year, or you receive a gift. No matter how much, or how little, you pay extra it will decrease the time it takes to pay off the mortgage. That means you will save interest.
  • Refinance with a shorter-term mortgage if you see the interest rates come down. Just keep in mind that refinancing means spending money on loan closing costs. Only consider this if the interest rates are lowered enough to justify paying closing costs. Otherwise, you can always choose to keep your original mortgage, but increase the monthly payment as outlined above.

Here’s just one example of how paying off early works…

Let’s assume you are paying on a 30-year mortgage for $200,000 at a 5% interest rate. If you pay off the mortgage in 30 years, you will pay $186,512 in interest. If you pay off that same mortgage with even payments over 20 years, you will pay as little as $116,779 in interest. That’s $70,000 that stays in you pocket!

Visit for more in-depth information. Also, use their online mortgage calculator. You will never regret paying off your mortgage sooner then planned.

Information courtesy of Wilmington DE Realtor Tucker Robbins.

What Every Buyer Should Know About Short Sales

by Tucker Robbins

Buying a property through a short sale can be financially beneficial. But, as a real estate buyer, you need to go into the process understanding your market! That means having a knowledgeable realtor and attorney.

short saleA homeowner is “underwater” with their mortgage when they owe more than the value of their home. The term “short sale” comes from the situation where the proceeds from a sale are less than, or “short” of, the amount of debt.

Lenders are motivated to allow a short sale when they perceive it will create more net income than a foreclosure. Sellers are motivated because it puts them in more control of timing, and causes less damage to their credit than foreclosure.

For the buyer, a short sale means a purchase price that is discounted from the normal sale price. However, the market situation with short sales is very specific to your state and your market. Here are some trends across the country…

25% of US homeowners with a mortgage are underwater. That is 10.7 million homes! That percentage is down from 28% in September 2012. It is important to note that 8.3 million of those homes are on the edge of being underwater with a LTV ratio of 90%-110%. The other 2.4 million have an average LTV ratio of 125%.

A primary factor helping that downward trend is a decline in investors’ interest in short sales. A decline in investors buying at discount means prices are moving upward. Increasing prices means increases in value, which means increases in equity for the homeowners.

However, according to it will take years, not months, for the 125% LTV owners to recover enough equity to allow them to sell. That means the short sale opportunities for buyers will be available for a while.

As a buyer of a short sale, be aware the process takes time. All parties have many more documents to review and approve. Your due diligence will take longer. And the process leading to a closing will take longer.

Make sure you are working with a Realtor and an attorney who have experience with short sales in your market.

At least, make sure your Realtor and attorney have actual experience with short sales. Go into the process with a lot of patience.

Information provided by Wilmington De Realtor Tucker Robbins.

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Contact Information

Photo of Tucker Robbins Real Estate
Tucker Robbins
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
3838 Kennett Pike
Wilmington DE 19807
(302) 777-7744 (direct)