Selling Tips for Today's Market



Everyone can use a few tips now and then. After all you don't sell your home every day! Here are a few tips to help you along your home selling journey!

Selling Tip #9: Pricing it right
Find out what your home is worth. Talk with your Realtor to get a “lay of the land” in regards to home prices per square foot in your neighborhood. Your Realtor will help you to set a realistic price to sell your home. If you price your home too high, your home will sit on the market. The longer a home sits on the market, it becomes “stigmatized”. Buyers will begin to wonder what is wrong with your home, and it will continue to sit. Eventually, you will drop your price to the market, but the damage has already been done.

I cannot stress how important it is to price your home correctly from the beginning!

Selling Tip #8: Half-empty closets
Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize what’s left in there. Buyers will snoop, so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.

Selling Tip #7: Light it up
Maximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more sellable.

Selling Tip #6: Conceal the critters
You might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers, but you’d be wrong. Not everybody is a dog- or cat-lover. Buyers don’t want to walk in your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you’re planning an open house, send the critters away for the day.

Selling Tip #5: Don’t over-upgrade
Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won’t get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout.

Selling Tip #4: Take the home out of your house
One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of a third of your stuff – put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Consider hiring a home stager to maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.

Selling Tip #3: The kitchen comes first
You’re not actually selling your house, you’re selling your kitchen – that’s how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you’ll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.

Selling Tip #2: Always be ready to show
Your house needs to be "show-ready" at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. It’s a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold.

Selling Tip #1: The first impression is the only impression
No matter how good the interior of your home looks, buyers have already judged your home before they walk through the door. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. It’s important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house. Spruce up your home’s exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. You can typically get a 100-percent return on the money you put into your home’s curb appeal. Entryways are also important. You use it as a utility space for your coat and keys. But, when you’re selling, make it welcoming by putting in a small bench, a vase of fresh-cut flowers or even some cookies.


When you think of Real Estate, Think of Me!

How Smart Can Appliances Be?


How Smart Can Appliances Be?

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is not an appliance show - not yet, anyway. Whirlpool and Bosch had appliances at CES this past week in Las Vegas, but Haier showed mostly TVs in its exhibit space. Other white goods brands such as Sears, GE, Maytag and Electrolux did not show off any major appliances.

Instead, it was mainstream Korean electronics brands Samsung and LG who played "can you top this" where smart appliances - mostly refrigerators - were concerned.

First, Samsung announced its Family Hub Refrigerator (available this May), which is essentially a 21.5-inch vertical tablet with a four-door refrigerator attached.

The Family Hub fridge is equipped with a 1920 by 1080p touchscreen with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and speakers. Its pre-installed apps are family- and kitchen-centric, such as a combined schedule app that syncs everyone's Google or Apple iCal calendars, as well as a food shopping app called Groceries by MasterCard.

Inside the Hub fridge are two fish-eye cameras which snap a photo of the interior contents each time the doors closes. Photos can be viewed on the pending Samsung appliance app for shopping remotely. Interior cameras seem to be a growing smart fridge trend.

LG countered with its Signature refrigerator, which has a view-through window that turns translucent or dark by simply knocking on it. The door opens when you step on an "open door" holograph projected from the fridge onto the kitchen floor - and the fridge is smart enough to differentiate between you and a dog or cat who might happen to wander by. LG didn't provide timing for when the fridge will be available.

Not to be outdone, Whirlpool announced its Connected French Door refrigerator, out this spring, along with a smart dishwasher and smart ranges in both gas and electric. All can be monitored and controlled from Whirlpool's app, so you can check the refrigerator's contents via internal Wi-Fi cameras, monitor and moderate the fridge's varying zone temperatures, or initiate speed ice-making for parties.

Smart Appliance Ecosystems

As a result of Smart Appliances dependence on human interaction, appliances can't perform much "If This Then That" (IFTTT) automation, nor can they work together—the washing machine or dishwasher won't automatically eject its contents once the cleaning cycle is done, for instance, nor can a refrigerator order groceries by itself (at least, not yet). So just how "smart" appliances can ultimately become is an open question.

Despite these intelligence limitations, both Samsung and LG, along with Bosch, are attempting to build appliance ecosystems. In mid-2014, Samsung bought smart-home platform SmartThings, and all the company's 2016 UHD TVs will double as SmartThings hubs and enable on-screen monitoring and control.

Meanwhile, LG is developing an overarching smart home/appliance platform, Smart ThinQ (confusingly pronounced "smart thin cue"). Smart ThinQ will allow LG's appliances to communicate through an Amazon Echo-like tubular Bluetooth speaker hub equipped with a 3.5-inch color screen, Wi-Fi and ZigBee, Z-Wave, Nest and AllJoyn compatibility. There also will be small-button IR/motion sensors that can transmit limited information from normal appliances to the Smart ThinQ app.

Like Samsung, LG wants to make its controls available through a TV; a Smart ThinQ app will be included in the company's webOS 3.0, which will first be available in the company's new Signature OLED TVs, due later this year.

LG continues to promote HomeChat, a text-based, man-to-machine form of communication. But LG's top-of-the-line Signature appliances lack HomeChat, which may imply the feature's abandonment or absorption into Smart ThinQ.


What Does The Home Seller Owe?


What Does The Home Seller Owe?

Buyers are looking for ways to get an edge over sellers. One way is to find out how much sellers owe their lenders on homes for sale. With this knowledge, they can gauge how much negotiation room the seller might have.

In a seller's market, knowing what the seller owes can help the buyer formulate an offer the seller will accept, avoiding an expensive bidding war with other buyers.

In a normal market or a buyer's market, the buyer hopes that the seller will accept an offer that is lower than current market value, but high enough to allow the seller to get out of their mortgage debt without bringing money to the closing table.

Short sales are a little different. Short sales are more common in areas with high foreclosures or job losses. Banks have a lot of inventory on hand and are more willing to negotiate but they put the deal under a microscope.

The buyer has to understand and be prepared for a deal to take much longer, perhaps as much as three weeks longer than normal. The seller must prove hardship for the lien holder to agree to take the loss.

There are three ways buyers can find out what the seller owes -- public records, real estate professionals and asking the seller directly.

The amount owed on any mortgage is a matter of public record and can be found at the County Recorder. Buyers can search in person or online, where county records are available. Once they identify the property and lienholder, buyers can see the most recently recorded mortgage information. This may or may not reflect the most current amount the seller owes, but it may reveal new liens that could impact a sales transaction.

Sellers who advertise their homes as short sales may be willing to share information on their liens with the buyer. Because getting a lender to agree to a short sale is in the interest of the seller, the seller is motivated to give the buyer all the information possible to allow a sale to go forward. Many times, a short sale will be advertised with the price the lender has agreed to accept.

Buyers can also learn what sellers owe through real estate professionals. Once a buyer is ready to make an offer, the buyer's agent can research the buyer's selection for more information. Realtors can access public records quickly and easily through the industry's local multiple listing service (MLS,) where they are subscribers. Again, the MLS shows only information that has been recorded from the County Recorder, and it may or may not be up-to-date.

Buyers should know that what the seller owes on the home has nothing to do with market value, or what the seller will accept as an offer. Just as buyers wish to make wise investments, so did the sellers when they purchased their homes. But the information can suggest a negotiating range.


The Benefits of Credit Repair


The Benefits of Credit Repair

Why should you Consider Credit Repair? Discover the Basic Reasons!

Do you look at your credit report and think about nothing but credit repair? If yes, then perhaps it's high time to get your credit repair process started. Anyone with poor credit scores will definitely know what a low credit score can cost you. Wonder how severe the consequences are?

Well, high interest rates can seriously damage your finances, period. Imagine the payments you would have to make if your interest rate increases from 5% to 15%. All in all, your poor credit score can make you pay thousands of dollars additionally per year. This is the primary reason why it is critical to look at your credit report and repair your credit score. After all, it will not only lower your interest rate, but will also help you get loans.

Credit Repair - Is it Really Helpful?

When it comes to credit scores, a single mistake can cause you serious trouble. A recent research suggests that almost 79 percent of all Americans have some type of inaccuracy, miscalculations, and negative accounts in their credit reports. A majority of these errors can hurt their credit scores badly. In these situations, credit repair is the ultimate option they can get to bring their finances back on track. The process of credit repairing is used to identify mistakes, correct the relevant information, remove negative reporting and monitor the creditors to ensure that your credit report is as accurate as possible and corrected accordingly.

Better Insurance Policies

The policies most insurance companies offer are based on the clients' credit reports. For instance, you will not get a reasonably priced insurance policy if your report suggests that you are late with paying other accounts. Thus, credit repair can clean up your credit rating and help you get substantial savings over the duration of your policy.

Better Job Options

Nowadays, many employers check an applicant's credit history as an essential step of the employment screening process. Wonder why? Well, credit reports usually disclose what resumes may never tell. Employers check credit reports to determine if an applicant has unpaid child or spouse support, has a verdict against him or her, or pays bills promptly. In instances like these, you can get a fresh start by opting for credit repair.

Better Loan or Mortgage Facilities

A low credit score can have a negative impact on your ability to get different loans. You may not get the desired loan amount or may have to make greater interest payments on the lifetime of your loans. If lenders find a poor credit score on your report, they can lower your credit limit, thus making the loan even more expensive for you. If dealerships turn you down for loans or offer very high interest rates, you have to consider going for credit repair. This will increase your chances to get your desired vehicle or own your dream home.

Since credit scores and credit reports can affect you and your loved ones in a number of ways, it is important to keep your credit score in superb condition. Credit repair doesn't only benefit individuals with a low credit score, but can do wonders for people with average credit by getting negative items off of the reports, disputing late payment information and correcting any inaccuracies on your report.


3 Key Pre-Offer Home Seller Actions


3 Key Pre-Offer Home Seller Actions

Sellers who wait until they're faced with a buyer's offer to purchase before initiating three key actions, may be forcing themselves to make too many decisions at once and too quickly.

Most of us are nervous about decision making. Many lack confidence in their ability. Yet, sellers will be faced with quickly making multiple financial, legal, and lifestyle decisions when a buyer's offer is presented to them.

There are 3 key positive actions sellers should begin before offers arrive, so that they are prepared for decision making and are less overwhelmed by the selling process:

#1. Start thinking that you're living in the buyer's new home.

Mentally move out. Let go of "mine." Cut the emotional cord. Concentrate on making the property as attractive to buyers as possible and practical. If you wait to start this "cut the emotional cord to home" thinking when your real estate professional presents you with an offer, you're doing yourself a tremendous disservice. Making confident decisions is difficult when you're distracted by pride of ownership and personal history.

#2. Start thinking about what the buyer may ask you to do.

Anticipate buyer requests regarding financing, moving dates, and other factors that may cause inconvenience or cost to you, the seller. For instance, if you had to wait many months for closing and the money from the sale, what problems could that cause you? Conversely, consider costs attached to moving in less than a month or at least sooner than convenient. Do you understand possible costs and considerations if buyers ask you to hold a second mortgage to enable them to pay the top dollar you ask for? Ask your real estate professional to explain how seller-held mortgages work and what would have to be true for you to sell that mortgage and realize cash.

#3. Start thinking beyond list price to achieve full offer value.

The value expressed in a buyer's offer to purchase involves 5 key elements - it's a financial package:

  1. Purchase Price is not automatically the amount the seller receives since other factors, like unpaid property taxes, can reduce the total. It's not the purchase price, but the net proceeds of the sale that sellers should concentrate on. Real estate professionals can calculate, or at least estimate, the seller's net proceeds after costs related to the offer and deduction of commission.
  2. Closing Date, or the day ownership is transferred and the seller receives the money, can represent cost or value to sellers. If the seller has to make two moves or has to pay two mortgages during the transition from one home to another, costs can add up and offer value goes down.
  3. Inclusions and Exclusions represent costs and value. Appliances, light fixtures, and draperies are common seller inclusions, but the cost of replacing them in the next home reduces profit.
  4. Terms and Conditions are clauses in the offer which cover "what if" risks and the obligations of both parties. These clauses detail what the buyer asks the seller to do for the purchase price. The degree of uncertainty attached to the conditions and the buyer's related ability to close affect the value of an offer.
  5. Intent and Sincerity are vital aspects of an offer although difficult to quantify. For the seller, offer value lies in the certainty that the buyer will close in spite of market shifts and other problems ahead.

Weeks or months may pass from the time that you decide to sell and the day your real estate professional receives an offer to present to you. This key stage of selling your home is no time to discover:

  • what you didn't understand about selling
  • what you haven't considered thoroughly
  • which details comprise your ideal outcome.

Suggestion: To prepare for offer presentation, read the offer form standard clauses soon after listing, so that you understand what the small print commits you to do, protects you from, and leaves you vulnerable to. For instance, the seller is usually responsible for keeping the property fully insured until title changes hands. Do you understand what responsibilities you have if flooding, storm damage, or fire strikes before then? Ask your listing salesperson to show you typical offer clauses well in advance, so you have time to digest details and ask a lot of questions before you're up against the offer deadline which may only be a few hours away.

Discussing strategies and contingencies with your listing salesperson ahead of offer presentation will help the professional negotiate a solid high-value Agreement with the buyer. Mentally preparing yourself, and anyone else who has a say in what happens to the property, means no one will be pressured into snap decisions or miss opportunities under the tight timelines common with offers.

Real estate professionals are trained to help sellers make decisions in their own best interest by providing necessary context and details, but these professionals cannot advise sellers exactly what to do, nor make decisions for them.

To gain full benefit from the knowledge and experience of the real estate professional who lists your real estate, let them fully prepare you for offer presentations in advance. When an offer comes in (usually at a very inconvenient time), you'll feel as confident and prepared as possible faced with this life-changing opportunity. You will understand which decisions to make and how to evaluate the full offer.


9 Little Things That Can Make or Break Your Home Purchase


9 Little Things That Can Make or Break Your Home Purchase

When it comes to buying a home, we always think about the big things: sales price, location, mortgage qualification. But it's often the little things that rise up to make living in that home a great joy or a huge letdown.

Your welcome to the neighborhood

There are neighbors who bring warm cookies to welcome you to the neighborhood and then there are the Homeowners' Associations that welcome you with a stern warning to move your storage unit immediately even though it's only been in your driveway for a few hours and you haven't even arrived from your cross-country drive (true story).

The friendliness of your neighbors

Beyond your initial impression, is living in your neighborhood going to give you the kind of lifestyle you want? In many cases, you won't know until after you've moved in. Spending some time there and getting to know your potential neighbors/asking questions before you purchase may give you the info you need.

Where to put the dog bowl

Does it seem like a frivolous thing to be considering when buying a home? Only until you move in and realize there's nowhere to put the food and water bowls that won't end up spilled, kicked over, or constantly in the way.

Think about it in terms of a car purchase. You might not notice the number/placement of drink holders in the new car you're buying, but you're sure going to notice how lacking they are when you're driving a car full of people around in the 100-degree summer and there's nowhere to put your Big Gulps. When your pets are a part of your life, considering where they will graze (and sleep and run) may help you make the best decision.

Closet space

Closet space isn't necessarily a small thing (for many of us, it's an absolute necessity!). But, it can also be one of those things that is easily overlooked when seduced by a big kitchen or a pool in the yard. If the closet space seems like it may be a problem when you tour the house, it most likely will be a problem when you're living in the house.

Placement of the laundry

Is it a deal breaker if your laundry room is downstairs and the bedrooms are upstairs? Probably not, but it does make things more challenging. If you're trying to decide between a couple of homes, this may be one of the little things that helps you finalize your decision.

Commute time to and from work

Your daily commute is something you've probably spent considerable time thinking about, especially if you're considering moving farther from work. But even if you're moving equidistance from your existing home, the commute could be very different. And it's not something you want to discover AFTER you've moved. Doing a few test runs before you make an offer can help.

The schools aren't great

If you don't yet have kids, or they're babies, or already grown, or you don't plan on kids, the quality of the schools may not seem like a big deal in relation to other items on your must-have list. But, you never know how long you might live there. A "starter" home that's supposed to be a springboard to a large home in a few years may not end up springing you so quickly. And studies show that good schools can help home values, so even if you're not packing lunches and preparing backpacks, being near people who are might be a good move.

Positioning of the house

Everyone wants a house that's light and bright, but what you might not want is a sun that sets right in your living room. If you're in a warm climate, you can plan on being hotter than you'd like to be in that room during the summer and having higher electric bills.

Really high ceilings

This is another feature people tend to want in their home... until they actually have them and realize:

  • It's cold in the winter since all the warm air gets sucked up.
  • It's hot in the summer since conditioned air has a hard time doing its thing in such a vast space.
  • You'll never be able to paint the room without renting scaffolding
  • Ditto for changing light bulbs


The Five Biggest Mortgage Mistakes You Can Make


For most buyers, the mortgage is the largest monthly expense they will have. Yet most borrowers will do little to no preparation, negotiation, or shopping to get the best deal. And they end up paying much more for their loans than they need to. You? You're smarter than that, or you wouldn't be reading this article. Here are five of the biggest mistakes that can cost you real money.

1. Believing advertised rates are what you'll pay

Unless you have perfect or near-perfect credit, most advertised rates are out of your league. To get boasting rights on a rate that good, you have to pay part of a point (one percent of the loan amount) a point, or more to get the best rates.

Your lender will go over your credit with a fine-tooth comb to find anything to raise the rate. That includes qualifying you at the beginning of the transaction, and then running your credit again a day or two before you're supposed to close on the home and loan. If there's been any change in your debt-to-income ratio, goodbye low mortgage rate.

2. Not comparing lenders

Just like everyone knows two or three real estate agents or more, everyone knows a loan officer or a mortgage broker. A loan officer works for a bank or savings and loan and can only offer you loan packages that the bank has put together. A mortgage broker prequalifies you just like a loan officer, and shops your deal around to various lenders.

Whether you talk to a loan officer or a mortgage broker, you're going to have to share personal financial information in order to get a realistic rate. Reputable brokers will show you what certain banks and credit unions quoted and you can pick the loan you like best.

If you'd rather do your own shopping, consider talking to a local bank, a national bank, a credit union, and a savings and loan, but remember, unless you give them personal information and permission to run your credit, it's just talk.

3. Not paying attention to terms

Advertised rates even for those with perfect credit aren't what you will actually pay. The true cost of the loan is the APR or annual percentage rate, which includes fees from the lender.

Understanding loan terms is harder than shopping for a new mattress. There are so many ways lenders can inch up the fees. A loan origination fee is also called a processing fee. It pays the loan officer or mortgage broker, so this fee can vary widely. You may pay one lender more for an appraisal than another might charge you.

One lender may charge more for pulling your credit than another. It's all in your good faith estimate, which you don't get until you've applied for the loan.

All terms are negotiable, so don't be afraid to ask what a particular fee is for and can it be reduced or eliminated.

4. Waiting for a better rate

It's great to have bragging rights on a low rate, but you don't want to lose the home of your dreams over a quarter of a point in interest.

There's a big picture here you could be missing. No matter what your interest rate is, you're going to pay thousands of dollars in interest up front before you make any serious gain in equity. If you go all the way to the end of your loan's term, you'll pay so much interest that you could have bought the same home two or three times.

Instead of focusing on the percentage rate, work on how quickly you can build equity. Make one extra payment a year. Pay $25, $100, or $500 extra per month and you'll more than offset the rate you're paying.

Down the road, if rates drop through the floor, you can refinance, but even that's not an ideal solution. You'll pay loan origination fees, title search fees, appraisal fees and so on -- enough to equal the closing costs you paid the first time around.

And don't forget, you'll start the amortization schedule all over again -- with most of your payments going to interest instead of principal.

5. Choosing the wrong type of loan

Many families were hurt post-9/11 when lenders opened the spigots and gave a loan to almost anyone who could sign the paperwork. Suckers bought homes that were too expensive using balloon loans with low teaser rates.

The type of loan you choose should depend on current market conditions and how long you plan to stay in your home, not how much home you want to buy.

Current market conditions favor fixed rates, because rates are rising from all-time lows. Yes, they cost more than hybrid loans or adjustable rate loans, but the base amount is fixed and doesn't change. Only your taxes and hazard insurance will cost you more over the years.

If you get an adjustable rate mortgage, you are at the mercy of market conditions. While there's a cap on how high your interest rate can go, it's still a risk.

If you plan to stay in your home five years or more, get a fixed-rate mortgage. If you plan to sell your home sooner, you're taking a risk. It takes most borrowers five years just to earn back their original closing costs in equity.

Once you've narrowed your choice of lenders, ask them on the same day to give you a quote. If you wait even one day, rates may have changed, so you're no longer comparing apples to apples


Highlight Speciality Rooms When Selling A Home


Many homeowners understand the importance of making their kitchen, masterbedroom, and bathroom stand out when it comes to selling their homes.

But helping buyers see other areas of the home that are designed for special purposes, such as a media room, kids' study hall, or art studio can also generate a lot of buyer interest.

If you have a room or space in your home that isn't really being used, consider staging it as a specialty room. Perhaps it let's in the perfect morning light for an artist studio. You can place an easel and some art decor that helps buyers visualize how they might creatively use this space.

Maybe you have a room that would make a good space to stage an exercise center. If you have exercise equipment scattered throughout your home, it might work well to combine the pieces into one room.

This gives the room a purpose. Instead of having one piece of exercise equipment in multiple rooms, the buyer now sees one room designed for exercising. It also removes the extra clutter of clunky exercise equipment from rooms such as bedrooms and living rooms. Buyers can then see those rooms more clearly without things in them that don't really look like they belong.

If you have a media room, a place where you watch TV, listen to music, read, keep it for those purposes when you're showing off your home to potential buyers. Take out the things that don't fit with that speciality room. Maybe you've been storing extra boxes off in one corner of the room or it's become the junk room for the family, time to change that. Clean it up, work to remove the clutter and highlight how this media room has been a hit for your family.

Home offices are very popular but when they look like an office plus a kid's playroom, it's hard for buyers to imagine being able to get any work done there. Take the toys and other items that don't belong in an office out. Either put them away, give them away, or throw them away.

If you don't have an entire room set up for a children's study area, no worries. Remove excess toys and memorabilia from the children's bedrooms and create a small space for a reading/study nook. Highlight for buyers to see it as the space where great minds come to learn, absorb, and innovate.

You don't have to redo entire rooms in order to create and highlight specialty rooms. Usually, it's just a matter of taking out items that don't belong in a particular room, maybe shifting furniture to other rooms, and then reorganizing the room so it has a purpose. When you do this, the message translates to buyers. They can see how you used the space and how much it may help their own lives.

Preparing your home to sell involves removing items that don't serve a purpose. If you don't remove the clutter, buyers may not see your home as beautiful and highly functional–two vital components that can encourage them to make an offer.


Homeowner Tax Benefits


Don't Miss These Homeowner Tax Benefits

One of the most useful yet widely misunderstood benefits of homeownership is tax deductions. Tax deductions are a welcome gift from the government, but if you're renting, they benefit your landlord, not you.

Property tax deduction: Any money you paid during the year you purchase and in the years afterward to local state, county and city property tax assessors is tax deductible.

Mortgage interest deduction: Your mortgage interest on both first and second liens is tax deductible. Any points you paid to obtain a lower interest rate are deductible. Private mortgage insurance payments are also deductible.

Closing costs: Some fees to the mortgage lender are deductible. Ask your tax professional for guidance. You can deduct some moving expenses, such as items for home offices. Save your Hud-1 form and show it to your tax professional.

Home office deductions: If your home is your principle place of business, and you meet other IRS guidelines for home businesses, you can take a deduction on workspace dedicated to your business and no other purpose. You can also depreciate that portion of your home over 39 years. All improvements to the workspace are tax deductible. In addition, your security expenses, phones, internet costs, computers, insurance, and utilities can be deducted or depreciated according to IRS allowances. Percentages and limits apply, so talk to your tax professional.

Energy Star: If you purchased an energy efficient system or appliance for your home and it meets government Energy Star standards, you may deduct a portion of your expenses. Save your receipts.

Property sales deductions: If you purchased a home today, occupied it as a primary residence, and sold it in two years, you could be eligible for some capital gains exclusions up to $250,000 if you're single, or $500,000 if you're married. You can even live in the home two years, rent it out for three years, and still enjoy the capital gains exclusion.

There may be many other deductions out there for you to take advantage of that are associated with your home, so save all receipts throughout the year for repairs, parts, purchases, remodeling, etc. Some allowances and special circumstances apply, so before taking this exclusion, be sure to talk to your tax professional.

Save your tax records up to seven years, because you have to be able to support the deductions you take with documentation such as receipts, credit card statements, cancelled checks, and online banking. Make sure you take deductions and depreciation only for legitimate items.

Remember all the benefits you could be getting in deductions, your landlord is currently enjoying while billing all costs associated with managing the home to you. Wouldn't you rather do that yourself?


Keeping your home READY for a buyer!


How To Keep Your Home Clean And Refreshed 24-7

Keeping your home spic and span can sometimes feel like too tough a challenge. No matter how often you clean, the house seems to get dirty again before the floors have even dried. For those who don't have hours to spend cleaning, worry not! There are simple, effective ways to keep your home clean on a daily basis. Here are some tips to consider:

Invest in doormats. Placing doormats at your back and front doors helps cut the amount of dirt and debris trailing into your home. Placing additional mats outside can help cut even more.

Groom pets daily. Pet hair -- especially cat and short-haired dog hair -- can invade your home in an instant. Brushing your pets every day -- and giving your dogs a bath every now and again -- can do a lot to help.

Keep ducts and fans clean. Air vents and ceiling fans build up dust over time. When they're turned on, that dust is then transferred to your floors and furniture. Cleaning them regularly will reduce the amount of dirt flowing throughout your home. If you need professional help, you can generally get your ducts and vents cleaned for about $330 (the national cost average).

Replace air filters. If the air feels stale or musty, there's a chance you need to replace your air filter. Do so frequently to avoid too much debris entering into the air. You can also hire a pro to do this for you.

No more window screens. Window screens don't really prevent dirt and debris from entering your home -- just bugs, really. Unless you have small children, it's better to remove them; removing the screens will keep your windows cleaner.

Keep storage handy. Storage boxes are always good to have on hand. Keep some broken down in your closet or under the bed for easy access. You can also build shelves for a relatively inexpensive cost.

Organize the coffee table. Coffee tables get cluttered quickly. Make sure you keep only the bare essentials on the table -- and clean the table's surface often.

Make sure your floor is showing. If you have kids or pets, there's a good chance that your floor is littered with toys. You can teach kids how to pick up after themselves, depending on their age. But with pets, you may need to keep another storage box handy.

Dust! You shouldn't have to spend hours dusting your home on the weekends. Take a moment or two to wipe off surfaces once a week. This keeps the dirt down and makes your house look a bit shinier.

Create a place for every item. You should have a designated place for every item you use. Racks, shelving -- whatever you need to keep everything organized. That way, items don't end up piled on your dining room table or in the living room.


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