SUNDAY, MARCH 9. 2008 DAimiKRAM) SKCTION8 PAGE 5 Gyms: Bonus rooms are now fitness centers Continued from Ihge 1 option, which Mulligan says owners typically want to use for a gym or theater. Features such as ballet barres, wall mirrors, electrical outlets closer to the ceiling for wall-mounted televisions and floor plugs for cardio machines are added to the fitness rooms. "Bonus rooms are a huge seller in houses," Mulligan says. "The gyms are more popular than the theater room. People are into fitness." According to the National Association of Home Builders, one-third of new and potential home buyers list a home exercise room as essential or desirable; these rank third behind offices and theaters as the most popular special- function room. Anthony Camber, president of the Fresno Association of Realtors, says bonus rooms bump up the appeal of properties because people can choose what to use them for. Henry Rodriguez, owner of Better Body Home Fitness in Fresno, says benefits of a home fitness room include convenience and a controlled environment. "It's right there. There are no excuses for not working out other than being lazy," he says. "You set the air conditioning, the television and the music." Mulligan, 53, works out four to five times a week in his home gym, a 10-by-12-foot space he added when he remodeled his tri-level Fresno home about five years ago; it sits off the garage on the lower level. Mulligan has about $4,000 worth of equipment, including a treadmill, elliptical machine, bench press, dumbbells, fitness bands and a television. Mulligan's wife, Jode, and children, Patrick, 23, Jenny, 22, and Kelly, 20, also use the room. "It's convenient. It's quiet. It's private," says Kevin Mulligan, who belongs to gym and a country club, but prefers exercising at home. "It's my own little safe house to go to where no one bothers me." There can be a drawback to exercising at home, says Derek Pennington, 21, who works at Busy Body Home Fitness in Fresno. "If you lack discipline, you can find ways to distract yourself," such as the couch or the refrigerator, he says. Family also can be a distraction, Packer says, and they must understand that workout time is sacred. "This is your time. And it has to be a habit, not just something you do as a whim," he says. Packer has seen about a 20 percent increase in die sale of home fitness equipment over the last five years. Equipment costs vary depending on durability, warranties and options. It can be as simple as spending $25 for a jump-rope and strength- training exercise bands, Rodriguez says. Or it can run more than $20,000 for a multistation weight machine, several pieces of cardio equipment and free weights. Rodriguez once outfitted a $36,000 room that included top-of-the-line cardio and strength training equipment, chrome dumbbells and orthopedically designed weight bars. But the average cost of equipment for a good home workout room, with a piece of cardio equipment and a weight machine, is around $2,000, Rodriguez says. Packer recommends buying more than one piece of equipment. "Any type of exercise is better than nothing, but the fewer diings you have at your convenience the more likely you are to get bored and stop doing it," he says. "Variety is a good thing when it comes to The PowerBlock dumbbell system has a compact design for easy storage. fitness." However, there are several things to consider before buying any equipment. "I always ask the customer: 'Who? What? Where?'" Rodriguez says. "Who will use the equipment? What is it going to be used for? What are your goals? Are they weight loss, strength training, well-being? And where is it going to go? You need to make sure it fits in the space you have." Lank: Loan possible two to four years after bankruptcy Continued from Rige 1 they're during the five years before the sale. Five years' ownership is mandated only for an investor who's converted Section 1031 tax-deferred property into a principal residence. For most homeowners, the requirement is still two years. Q; What is the length of time you are eligible to buy a house after bankruptcy? A. What you're asking, I assume, is when might it be possible to get a new mortgage loan. Although the bankruptcy stays on your credit record for up to 10 years, most lenders will consider a mortgage when four years have passed from the discharge, not the filing. If the bankruptcy was due to one big problem and the borrower's credit record had been good up to that point, some mortgage programs require only two years. Q. Is it true that some mortgage companies submit a 1099 to IRS for the difference between what is owed on a home and what the mortgage company actually clears on a forced sale? If that is true, then the IRS would view this as income and it would make that money taxable. I would like to see your answer in the newspaper. I hope it would better inform borrowers and make them aware of one more problem they can face with foreclosure. A. Actually, that's one more problem they don't have to face, right now. It's true that in the past, the unfortunate owners who lost their property to foreclosure could be hit with tax bills from the IRS because forgiven debt was considered income. But in an attempt to ease the present crisis, the policy has been changed. For foreclosures and short sales closed in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the forgiven debt on foreclosures and short sales will not be subject to federal income tax. • Edith Lank will personally respond to any questions sent to her at 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester, N.Y. 14620 ' (please include a stamped return envelope), or readers may e-mail her at email@example.com. Huntlev Open Huusi'Sun. March 9lh, l:l)l}-3:UOpm 2764 Kislnvuukce Lane, llimtlcv Quality and Design Exciting Locations Low Interest rates and Choices . » Large "Potomac" model \v/2 lulniis plus den, 2 baths! Neutral decorating! » Living room, great room, dining room * Kitchen nook, all appl., premium lot! 1-800-958-7226X2033 » Incredible 4 bedroom, 2.5 twill home wAill (he right upgrades! * See thru fireplace, full basement 4 Great locution, close to everything! 1-800-958-7226X1043 HUNTLEY » Immaculate'"Escanuha" model w/a fireplace! 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