Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
Thursday, July 9, 2015
There are many reasons why you should consider jumping into the real estate market and buying a home. Below is a list of 9 reasons why you should seriously consider it.
- To Quit Renting
Why contribute to someones mortgage payments when you could be paying off your own? With programs available such as the new 40-year amortizations and no money down with a good credit score, it is easier than ever to own a home. And with the current market increase in rent it can sometimes be cheaper to own than it is to rent and there is no fear of your mortgage payments suddenly increasing.
You don’t have to worry about your house being sold out from under you to out-of-province investors. If renting and faced with this scenario, you could find yourself faced with an unreasonable increase to your rent, thereby leaving you potentially homeless or too poor to eat. These increases could continue indefinitely so the investors can make more money or so that you will feel forced to leave and they can turn your building into a condominium.
The price of real estate continues to increase every year, therefore purchasing real estate is one of the safest long-term investments a person can make. If you had the choice between putting money towards a new car or a new house, a house should win every time as it will appreciate in value over the years whereas a car does the opposite. Once you own one house and build some equity you may also be in a financial position to buy another and rent one out.
- Low Interest Rates
Right now we have some great interest rates which will help you get your foot on the first rung of home ownership. It is a great time to get into the market and lock into a really good interest rate and build equity.
- Pride of Ownership
One of the biggest reasons people buy properties is the pride of saying they own something. Even if it is a little starter home or apartment style condo, it is yours and you can do with it as you please, and for that, a person should be proud, as ownership is an accomplishment.
If you own your own house, you don’t ever have to worry about the owners checking up on you, since you are the owner! You will gain much more independence and privacy when you have your own property.
One of the best things about owning a home is that you are building equity, which gives you more freedom financially as you can access a home equity loan. You may then borrow against the equity you have built in your home for a wide variety of reasons including home improvements, paying for school for your children, medical reasons, or even starting your own business. Check with your lender, as these vary from one to the next.
You are free to do what you want in your own home, whether you want to paint the walls in pink and black zebra or put carpet on the ceiling (not recommended of course!) You have the freedom to express yourself and your personal tastes and change the house to suit your needs. You can hang as many pictures as you want and do renovations as you please. Just keep in mind that when you are ready to sell your home, not everyone may like what you do.
- Sense of Community
Owning a house gives you a feeling of belonging in that neighborhood and gives you the sense of putting down roots and getting established. There are also many neighborhood groups that you can become involved in, and if you have children it may be of benefit for schools and friends.
Painting Your Home Front Door RedIf you’ve ever noticed houses with red front doors you may have wondered- What does a red front door mean? Why did they paint their front door that bright color?
The history, origin and meaning of a home having a red front door is varied. There is no one origin for the red exterior door.
If you are thinking of painting the front door of your home red, consider some of these meanings to decide if red is the right color choice for your front door. Your home’s exterior is important and how you paint your home reflects on you.
Consider these meanings before heading out to buy home exterior paint:
In Feng Shui, a red front door means “welcome.” Feng Shui is a Chinese philosophy in which the arrangement and color of objects in a room relates to the flow of energy. The front door is known as the “Mouth of Chi” where energy enters. If you believe in or follow Feng Shui, painting your front door red would create welcoming energy.
A red door means “welcome” in an old early American tradition. If a family had a red front door tired travelers traveling by horse and buggy would know that a home was a welcoming place to rest. They would be able to spend the night there.
A red door provides protection. In Biblical times, the Hebrew slaves were instructed to smear blood of a lamb on their front doors to protect their first born from the angel of death. In old Catholicism churches painted the doors of the church red to represent the blood of Christ. Passing through the door would mean that you were on holy ground. Some believe a red door protects the occupants from evil.
A red front door means mortgage-free. In Scotland, homeowners would paint their front door red to signify that they had paid off their mortgage.
Now that you’ve read some of the meanings and origins behind having a red front door, you can decide if painting your front door red is the right choice for your home.
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Saturday, October 11, 2014
You spent weeks searching for your home and you spend even more time every year maintaining your home to make it clean and functional.
Cleaning the bathroom, mopping the floors, washing the windows, dusting, and vacuuming are all activities that you perform regularly in order to preserve the prestige of your home, but how much time do you devote to making sure that your home is energy efficient?
Although it may not be a bad idea to install solar panels or use those peculiarly shaped, energy saving bulbs in every room to conserve energy, those products aren't for everyone. So here are four simple tips to become more energy efficient.
Reduce oven use
Microwaves and toaster ovens use less energy than a conventional oven. Unless you have a large quantity of food or the quality and taste depend on it, put your leftovers in the microwave rather than using an oven to reheat.
Resisting the urge to use the oven and using a microwave or toaster oven produces the same warm meal with reduced energy usage. However, if you are afraid that reheating your french fries in the microwave will make them soggy and you absolutely must use the oven in order to preserve their crunch remember to not open the oven door while food is cooking or reheating. Opening the door to the oven while it is on can reduce the temperature by as much as 25 degrees, thus causing it to work harder to maintain the set heat.
Get the most out of your lamps
Lamps decorate and give light to any room they are placed in. When using lamps determine if your primary purpose is to decorate or illuminate the room. Achieving both objectives is what most people want but usually one is more of a priority than the other.
Depending on your goals, there are different tips you can apply to your lamp use in order to make your home more energy efficient. Light colored or opaque lampshades should be used whenever possible.
There are a wide variety of lampshades and you should choose the one that appropriately decorates and illuminates the room. In order to produce more light lamps should be placed in corners so that light can be reflected from two walls. Oh, and don't forget the energy efficient light bulbs.
Keep your freezer full
Full freezers use less energy than empty freezers so go ahead and make your ice cream stash a little larger. In order to save energy, some people fill the empty spaces in their freezers with gallons of water, but a gallon of ice cream can do the job just as well—we all know which gallon container you would prefer.
Use your dryer efficiently
Your dryer is an appliance that uses an enormous amount of energy. According to energy.gov your dryer uses just as many watts as 15 flat screen TVs. However, there are a few things you can do to reduce the amount of energy your dryer consumes.
- Always be sure to clean the dryer lint filter so that your dryer operates more efficiently.
- Washing and drying several loads at once also helps the dryer to perform better because it does not completely cool down before having to heat up for the next load.
- Make a few modifications to the space where you do laundry so that your dryer vents outside. By making this adjustment you reduce the amount of work that your air conditioner has to do.
- Air drying clothes is not always the most appealing option but air drying dress clothes will lessen the workload on your dryer and will also make your dress clothes look better.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Furnaces in homes throughout North America are cranking up for a long winter season. It is especially important to have furnaces inspected and maintained to ensure that they run efficiently and safely as we head into the colder months.
SIMPLE WAYS TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY
By some accounts, home heating, especially gas furnaces, can represent half of a typical home’s winter utilities bill. Efficient operation can mean lower energy bills and a more comfortable home. For example, programmable thermostats can be used to automatically turn heat up or down at specified times, so that the temperature is lowered overnight or while no one is at home. The newest types of thermostats can be operated via smartphone or tablet using apps specific to these functions.
Thermostats should be calibrated occasionally to avoid “off-cycle” heat loss; a properly-calibrated thermostat will result in more even heating between the on/off cycles, which is both more efficient and comfortable.
SAFETY AND MAINTENANCE
Safety is also an important factor in furnace operation. Gas furnaces can be a source of dangerous carbon monoxide if there are leaks or cracks that go unnoticed or unrepaired. The furnace flame should be steady and burn blue; if not, this should be addressed immediately. A qualified contractor or inspector can detect these types of problems and recommend needed action.
Simple furnace maintenance includes checking and replacing disposable air filters and cleaning permanent-type filters, as well as keeping dust, hair, and lint away from the burner compartment and air intake. No matter what type it is, a well-maintained furnace will not only last longer, but can save energy, money, and help a home’s overall air quality and comfort.
CONSIDERING A NEW FURNACE?
If a new furnace is necessary, it is a good opportunity to evaluate the various types of furnaces now available and how well they might meet a home’s specific situation. Furnaces are defined as conventional efficiency, mid efficiency, and high efficiency. There are advantages and drawbacks to each type, and some are better suited to older homes, for example, and cost may be a factor in considering various types of systems. However, the ability of most new furnaces to reduce off-cycle heat loss, eliminate the need for an always-on pilot light, etc. make replacing a furnace worth considering if a current system is in bad repair functioning poorly. Your local Pillar To Post office can provide you with additional information on various types of furnaces.
Jared Fenn, Pillar to Post Home Inspections (801) 318-9909
Jared Fenn, Pillar to Post Home Inspections (801) 318-9909
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
An Easy Way to Make More Money Selling Your HomeIf you’ve ever sold a home, you know it takes money to make it happen. You’ve got to fix and freshen it up to attract buyers. Then there are closing costs. And moving brings its own set of expenses.
But perhaps the biggest chunk that comes out of your pocket is the real estate agent commission, which traditionally runs around 6%. For the typical “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) home—which sold for $184,000 last year—that’s a little more than $11,000. Ouch!
With that kind of cash, it’s no wonder that many sellers fly solo in an effort to save a few bucks. But is it worth it?
Would You Rather Save $5,500 or Make $46,000?Your home is a big investment, and you want to make the most of it. Keeping the agent commission all to yourself seems like an easy way to do that. The problem is you’re leaving even more money on the table by opting out of a pro.
How much more?
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the typical home sold by an agent last year fetched $230,000. That’s a $46,000 difference!
But wait . . . there’s more! Selling your home on your own doesn’t necessarily mean an agent-free transaction. You still owe it to the buyer’s agent to pay their commission. After all, they worked hard to get their buyer into your home. If they get 3% of the sale, you can cut your $11,000 in savings in half, leaving you $5,500.
The numbers alone paint a pretty compelling picture. But let’s explore two reasons smart sellers go pro.
There’s Power in NumbersIf you want to sell your home, you’ve got to go where the buyers are. A recent NAR report found that 88% of buyers used a real estate agent to purchase their home in 2013.
Last we checked, yards signs don’t exactly have their finger on the pulse of the market. Think about how many people drive by your home on a given day. Then stack that up against an agent’s pool of buyers. There’s no comparison!
With a real estate agent, you get instant access to thousands of potential buyers through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). A true pro has a proactive plan for exposing your home to as many buyers as possible and works with you to ensure your home gives a great first impression.
There’s No Substitute for ExperienceLet’s set the sugarcoating aside and cut to the chase. Going it alone guarantees one thing: You’ll make mistakes. Some will be small—but some will come with zeroes on the end. You’ve worked too hard to let that happen!
Research shows FSBO sellers struggle most with paperwork, pricing and preparing their home for the sale. A real estate agent can help you with all of those things (and more!) and will advise you based on experience, not emotion.
Here are just a few ways a pro makes selling your home a cinch:
—Advising you on home repairs or updates
—Pricing your home based on the latest market data
—Actively marketing your home to buyers
—Scheduling showings with potential buyers
—Negotiating to get the best price on your home
—Handling all the required paperworkLook at it this way: A top-notch agent sold more homes last week than you’ll probably sell in your lifetime. They eat, drink and sleep real estate. Doesn’t it stand to reason that they can help you achieve the most gain with the least pain?
Don’t Give Up Big Bucks Just to Save a FewCan you save money by going FSBO? Maybe. But you lose out on so much more! Do yourself a favor and partner with a high-performance pro who knows what it takes to get top dollar for your home in the least amount of time.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
As a seller, you have a lot more control in pleasing buyers than you think. If you start the selling process by learning what buyers really want, you can prepare your home to come as close to their dreams as possible.
Here are the five biggest turn-ons for homebuyers and what you can do to please buyers.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Your home should sell to the buyer from the curb. That's how important curb appeal is. Your buyer should be so impressed, so charmed, so delighted that they want to leap out of the car and run inside.
Start with sweeping the drive, walkway, and porch or entry of dirt and debris. Get rid of leggy bushes, wilted flowers and broken tree limbs. Plant fresh flowers in the front garden or in containers at the entry.
Power-wash the exterior and hand-wash the windows. Touch up paint around the windows, if needed. Paint the front door a fresh, modern color. Replace the door hardware and porch sconces.
The number one reason why people buy homes is to have more room. Whether they're moving from an apartment or moving up from the home they have, they want to have plenty of space to do the things they enjoy.
If you have a large home, you're golden, but that doesn't mean you've got it made. You can ruin a buyer's first impression with too much clutter, so make sure to keep your home picked up so your buyer can see your home's features clearly and easily.
What if you don't have a lot of space? Plan to do some storing and staging. Rent a storage unit and put away all out of season clothes, toys, and home decorations and accessories. Clean off all tables and countertops so you have only the minimum of things your need to operate your home. Empty closets of anything that is "stored" and move it to the storage unit. The small expense you'll pay in storage fees you'll more than make back from your buyer's offer.
There's a reason why first-time buyers and singles tend to buy older homes - they're more affordable than buying new. So unless your buyer is a building contractor, chances are they want a home that's as updated as possible.
You may not be interested in putting in a new kitchen in order to sell your home, but you can do a few things to make buyers happy. Replace the most dated features - countertops, cabinet pulls, or appliances.
Bathrooms are so personal that they can easily turn buyers off. Invest in new towels, bathmats and a shower curtain. Throw out slimy soaps and limp ragged bath sponges. Replace with liquid shower and bath products. You can take all the new stuff with you to the next home.
Painting is expected by buyers, but don't repaint the same colors that you chose 10 years ago. Pick an updated neutral like a warm grey instead of beige. Be sure to choose a color that will complement the architecture and flooring in your home.
Keep in mind that the typical home purchased in 2013 was 1,860 square feet and built in 1996, so homebuyers aren't expecting your home to be a mansion, nor do they expect it to be new, but they do expect to see pride of ownership. The more tweaks, updates and repairs that you perform, the more confident your buyers will be that they're choosing the right home.
Written by Blanche Evans
Monday, April 7, 2014
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
I am so excited to announce that I have accepted a position as an Agent with Arive Homes. They are a quality home builder in Utah County and I'm honored to be a part of their team. I will still be taking care of buyers and sellers also, so don't hesitate to contact me for any of your real estate needs!
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Time for a change. With spring officially here, the change of season will hopefully lead to a change of direction for the housing market, as the harsh winter weather contributed to several disappointing reports.
February Existing Home Sales fell by 0.4 percent from January to 4.60 million units on an annualized basis. While this number was in line with estimates, it was 7.1 percent below the 4.95 million units registered in February 2013. The National Association of Realtors cited the unusually harsh winter weather, tightening of credit, and higher home prices as the cause behind the stagnant sales data.
The harsh weather was also blamed for the weak Housing Starts reading for February, which came in at 907,000, making this the third straight monthly decline. In addition, the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index came in at 47 for March. Readings below 50 indicate that more builders view conditions as poor, rather than good. On a positive note, Building Permits, which are a sign of future construction, surged by 7.5 percent to 1.018 million. It will be important to see if readings improve once the weather becomes milder around the nation.
In other news to note, weekly Initial Jobless Claims rose by 5,000 in the latest week to 320,000. Claims continue to hover near lows seen in November, as the labor markets work through the post-recession malaise. The 4-week moving average, which irons out seasonal abnormalities, came in at 327,000, the lowest level since the end of November.
What does this mean for home loan rates? Despite some weaker than expected economic reports, the Fed announced more tapering to its Bond buying program. Beginning in April, the Fed will purchase $30 billion in Treasuries and $25 billion in Mortgage Bonds (the type of Bonds on which home loan rates are based) to help stimulate the economy and housing market. This is down from the original $85 billion per month that the Fed had been purchasing. We will be watching closely to see how this decision impacts the markets and home loan rates as we head further into spring.
The bottom line is that now remains a great time to consider a home purchase or refinance, as home loan rates remain attractive compared to historical levels.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Here are the common tax mistakes homeowners need to be careful to avoid:
- Deducting the wrong year for property taxes. You deduct for the year in which you pay them. In Utah we pay in November, so this isn’t really an issue here.
- Confusing escrow amount for actual taxes paid. Generally your lender collects more than you pay, so be careful to claim the correct amount.
- Deducting points paid to refinance. This is done over the life of the loan, not up front like a purchase.
- Misjudging the home office deduction. You will definitely want to use a tax professional to make sure you do this one right.
- Failing to repay the first-time home buyer tax credit. You must pay back 1/15th a year over 15 years if you used it and are still in your home.
- Failing to track home related expenses. Always keep records of anything you plan to claim or deduct.
- Forgetting to keep track of capital gains. Remember if you sold your home, you have to pay taxes on any gains over $500,000 if you are married and $250,000 if you are single.
- Filing incorrectly for the energy tax credit. Again, you will need records and probably use a tax professional.
Mortgage Interest DeductionOne of the neatest deductions itemizing homeowners can take advantage of is the Mortgage Interest Deduction, which you claim on Schedule A. To get the Mortgage Interest Deduction, your mortgage must be secured by your home — and your home can even be a house trailer or boat, as long as you can sleep in it, cook in it, and it has a toilet.
Interest you pay on a mortgage of up to $1 million — or $500,000 if you’re married filing separately — is deductible when you use the loan to buy, build, or improve your home.
If you take on another mortgage (including a second mortgage, home equity loan, or home equity line of credit) to improve your home or to buy or build a second home, that counts towards the $1 million limit.
If you use loans secured by your home for other things — like sending your kid to college — you can still deduct the interest on loans up $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately) because your home secures the loan.
PMI and FHA Mortgage Insurance PremiumsYou can deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance as mortgage interest on Schedule A — meaning you must itemize your return. The change only applies to loans taken out in 2007 or later.
By the way, the 2013 tax season is the last for which you can claim this deduction unless Congress renews it retroactively, which may happen, but is uncertain.
What’s PMI? If you have a mortgage but didn’t put down a fairly good-sized down payment (usually 20%), the lender requires the mortgage be insured. The premium on that insurance can be deducted, so long as your income is less than $100,000 (or $50,000 for married filing separately).
If your adjusted gross income is more than $100,000, your deduction is reduced by 10% for each $1,000 ($500 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return) that your adjusted gross income exceeds $100,000 ($50,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return). So, if you make $110,000 or more, you lose 100% of this deduction (10% x 10 = 100%).
Besides private mortgage insurance, there’s government insurance from FHA, VA, and the Rural Housing Service. Some of those premiums are paid at closing and deducting them is complicated. A tax adviser or tax software program can help you calculate this deduction. Also, the rules vary between the agencies.
Prepaid Interest DeductionPrepaid Interest (or points) you paid when you took out your mortgage is 100% deductible in the year you paid them along with other mortgage interest.
If you refinance your mortgage and use that money for home improvements, any points you pay are also deductible in the same year.
But if you refinance to get a better rate and term or to use the money for something other than home improvements, such as college tuition, you’ll need to deduct the points over the term of the loan. Say you refi for a 10-year term and pay $3,000 in points. You can deduct $300 per year for 10 years.
So what happens if you refi again down the road?
Example: Three years after your first refi, you refinance again. Using the $3,000 in points scenario above, you’ll have deducted $900 ($300 x 3 years) so far. That leaves $2,400, which you can deduct in full the year you complete your second refi. If you paid points for the new loan, the process starts again; you can deduct the points over the term of the loan.
Home mortgage interest and points are reported on IRS Form 1098. You enter the combined amount on line 10 of Schedule A. If your 1098 form doesn’t indicate the points you paid, you should be able to confirm the amount by consulting your HUD-1 settlement sheet. Then you record that amount on line 12 of Schedule A.
Energy Tax CreditThe Energy Tax Credit of up to a lifetime $500 had expired in 2011. But the Feds extended it for 2012 and 2013. If you upgraded one of the following systems this year, it’s an opportunity for a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability: If you get the $500 credit, you pay $500 less in taxes.
Some of the eligible products and systems are capped even lower than $500. New windows are capped at $200 — and not per window, but overall. Read about the fine print in order to claim your energy tax credit.
- Determine if the system is eligible. Go to Energy Star’s website for detailed descriptions of what’s covered. And talk to your vendor.
- The product or system must have been installed, not just contracted for, in the tax year you’ll be claiming it.
- Save system receipts and manufacturer certifications. You’ll need them if the IRS asks for proof.
- File IRS Form 5695 with the rest of your tax forms.
Property Tax DeductionYou can deduct on Schedule A the real estate property taxes you pay. If you have a mortgage with an escrow account, the amount of real estate property taxes you paid shows up on your annual escrow statement.
If you bought a house this year, check your HUD-1 Settlement statement to see if you paid any property taxes when you closed the purchase of your house. Those taxes are deductible on Schedule A, too.
By Chris Nichols