Monday, January 15, 2018

Tax Information for Homeowners


One of the many benefits of owning a home is the extra savings at tax time.  Yes owning a home is a great benefit when it comes to filing your taxes each year.  Whether you do your taxes on your own or use the services of a professional, make sure you take advantage of these tax savings opportunities.
Main tax benefits include being able to deduct interest payments and property tax payments.  Homeowners may also exclude, to a limit, capital gains made on the sale of a home that previous year.  Points paid toward your mortgage to get a better overall interest rate may also be deductible.
Certain environmentally friendly updates made to your home may also be eligible for a tax credit.
As the tax law continually changes and updates it is important to stay on top of what homeowner deductions or credits you may be eligible for.
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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Winter Chores for Those Cold Days

When you're looking at the outside temperature and thinking today makes a great day to stay inside, we have some productive activities for you!

Of course resting on the couch and watching your favorite shows is a classic winter past time, you can take advantage of the colder temps to stay inside and get some much needed work done!

1. Cleaning the Oven
Cleaning the oven take some time and is the perfect activity for when you're going to be around the house for a few hours. Most ovens come with a self-clean button that does the work for you. If your oven is really greasy and grimy it make require some pre-cleaning on your part using either oven cleaner or a mix of vinegar and baking soda.

2.  Clean the Floors
Since you are spending more time indoors, it's time to ramp up your typical cleaning schedule. Sweep and mop the floors to keep any mud or dirt from tracking around the house. Vacuum regularly to keep dirt from being ground into the carpet fibers.

3.  Inspect the Pantry
Winter is a good time to reorganize the pantry and make it more efficient for the new year. While you're organizing check the dates to make sure no products are expired.  Pull out little used ingredients and do an online search for recipes that you may not have tried before.

4.  Mattress Care
Flip your mattress if you can or if you have a pillow top rotate it 180 degrees to prevent impressions or dents from forming. To freshen your mattress, sprinkle it with baking soda and then vacuum up.

5. Inspect and Clean Your Windows
Let more natural light in during the dark winter with clean, sparkling windows. Don't forget to clean around the frames which can gather dust and dirt.  Letting in a little more natural light can really cheer up a dreary winter day!

Friday, December 29, 2017

New Home Sales Surge

As the numbers come in, 2017 is looking to be a great year for the housing market, with 2018 predicted to be even better.

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report that sales of new single-family homes in November were 17.5% above the October numbers and 26.6% above last November.

The median sales price of new homes sold in November 2017 was $318,700.

It wasn't just a great month for new home sales, existing home sales rose as well for the third month in a row.

This is great news for the housing market but also for the economy as a whole as housing plays a huge role in the health of the overall economy.

Builders are often selling homes before they are built - a great indicator of demand. Current national inventory is low - just a little over 4 months of available homes.

So what does this mean for you?  Demand is strong and inventory remains low which could push prices higher.  If you are on the fence about buying a new home it's time to make a decision before the cost of a new home goes up.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Understanding Down Payments

One of the biggest concerns for new homeowners is the financial aspect of buying a new home. Can they afford the down payment? The monthly payments? What other costs are involved that we may not know about?

Today we are going to tackle the down payment - often the largest upfront cost to buying a new home.

A down payment is the money you give to the seller of the home. It is a portion of the overall cost of the home. The rest of the home cost will be mortgaged over time.

For example, a typical down payment is 20%.  If your home costs $100,000 then you will pay the seller $20,000 and take out a mortgage for the other $80,000.

How much of a down payment you will need to have depends on your financing.  Typically the higher your down payment is the lower your interest rate will be.

A down payment can come from your own savings over time, the money you make after selling your current house, or from gifts/grants from others.

There are many ways to begin saving for a down payment such as setting aside a little money each month, saving any tax refunds or gifts, set up automatic transfers from your checking account to a savings account with interest.

Remember your end goal - a brand new home for your family.  This makes the saving process a little less painful and reminds you of the big payoff in the end!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Gift Ideas for the New Homeowner

If you're looking for some gifts for the new homeowner in your life, we have you covered this Christmas!  Here are a few of our favorite options for all the new homeowners on your list.

1. Theme Baskets
These creative gift ideas are always a hit. Whether it's a variety of cleaning supplies, or a pizza kit and Redbox gift code, you can use your imagination to come up with a fun theme for the new homeowners. Maybe a basket filled with basic tools or a kitchen themed basket full of their favorite snacks!

2.  Personalized Wall Art
Use your favorite online photo service to create some wall art for the new home. This can be a photo of the exterior of the new home, the family name and new address or a favorite quote about what the joys of home.

3.  New Home Ornament
Since it is the Christmas season, get a new home ornament for the tree with this year's date. It can be something simple or incorporate a photo of the home.

4.  Cozy Gifts
Make the new homeowners nice and cozy this winter with some practical gifts like a throw blanket or candle.  Christmas decor is always a welcome addition to a new home.

5.  Kitchen Supplies
Gifts for the kitchen are always a hit. Maybe a personalized cutting board with the family name, a new pasta pot with pasta and sauce included.  Or gifts for entertaining in the new home such as a cheese board or dessert tray.  Be creative!


Friday, December 8, 2017

Safe Winter Driving

The South rarely experiences significant snowfall and when it does most schools, government offices and employers close to keep more people off the road.  Melting snow mixed with overnight freezing temperatures can lead to icy roads which are extremely dangerous.  If you can't stay off the road here are a few ways to drive safer in inclement weather.

1.  During the winter months keep at least half a tank of gas in your car at all times.  You don't want to get stranded in snowy or icy conditions.

2.  Once temperatures dip you may see your "Low Tire Pressure" light come on. Don't ignore this! It's important to keep your tires properly inflated for safe driving.

3. If you warm up your vehicle before you begin driving - never do this in an enclosed space such as a garage. This can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

4.  When driving give yourself plenty of time to accelerate and then come to a stop. Slowly accelerating and decelerating will make it less likely that your car will skid.

5.  If you do find yourself skidding - don't panic. Take your foot off the gas and don't slam on the brake. Steer your car in the direction that you want to go.

6.  Do not use cruise control when driving in winter weather and avoid using the parking break when possible.

7.  If you do get stranded, stay with your car which will provide some shelter. Signal for help by tying a brightly colored material to your antenna or hang outside your window.

8. When packing for a winter road trip be sure to include blankets, bottled water, flash light, first aid kit, ice scraper and snacks.

Friday, December 1, 2017

December House Hunting

December may be known for a lot of things but buying a home is not one of them.  Peak homebuying season typically occurs in the spring and summer when the days are warmer, there's more sun, and buyers are out ready to make a change before the school year starts again.

But don't neglect December home buying. There are several reasons why this could be just the right time to get off the fence and buy your
dream home.

Less Competition
If you're tired of dealing with competition when looking at your favorite homes, December is the time to shop. Less competition means more of a chance of getting the home you want!

Tax Benefits
If you close before the end of the year you'll also experience the tax benefits of buying a new home such as deducting mortgage insurance, loan points or property taxes.

Loan Incentives
You may get a deal on your loan with lenders looking for business during the lean winter months.  You'll also get quicker loan processing with fewer mortgage loans going through in December.

Mortgage Rates
Mortgage rates remain historically low but are rising. Take advantage of the low rates while they are still around!