It’s Tax Time. Again. A few ideas to help!

So by now you’ve probably been thinking about your Federal and State taxes, and maybe even preparing just a bit for them.  And you can wait if you want, even for a few more months, but eventually, you’ll need to read this post and get to work filing your taxes.

As a homeowner, there are a few things that you’ll want to consider.  One of the most useful benefits of homeownership, after the right to paint those bedrooms purple, is tax deductions.  If this is your first year of owning a home, then check out this list!

tax return

#1: Property Tax ~ any money paid during the year to your town/city property tax is deductible.

#2: Mortgage Interest ~ any money paid towards mortgage interest on your first or second mortgage and any private mortgage insurance payments are deductible.

#3: Closing Costs ~ some of the costs paid at your closing are tax deductible (ask your accountant which ones to include). Your may even be able to deduct some of your moving costs.

#4: Home Office ~ you may be able to use your home office as a deduction as well.

There may be others (his is when your accountant not me, your real estate agent is the professional!) so save all of your receipts for purchasing (your Closing Statement) as well as receipts for repairs, remodeling, parts etc.  My advice is to save everything for seven years, but again, let your accountant guide you on that!

If your still renting, know that your landlord is getting all these benefits…wouldn’t you rather get them for yourself??

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Home…New Construction?

new construction

If you’ve been thinking of a new home, and by new I mean really, really (construction) new, there are definitely some things that are totally different from purchasing a pre-existing home.  Here are a few things to think about before you make the new construction decision!

#1: You probably won’t be able to negotiate the price.  Builders factor many things into their price and with new construction, what it is ~ is ~what it is!  You may be able to negotiate a few upgrades, but don’t quote me on this one!

#2: The price you start at most likely won’t be the price you end at.  During the construction process, things change.  Like you decide that you want hardwood throughout the house, not just in the living room.  Or you found lighting that you can’t live without, but it’s higher than the budgeted amount!

model homes 2

#3: Your home is not going to look like the model!  White couches, no clutter, perfectly placed knick knacks are not realistic.  Don’t worry, you’ll love your home with YOUR things in it as well!

#4: Expect delays.  When the builder tells you 4 months from start to finish, plan for your home to be ready in 6 months.  That way, if it’s earlier, you’ll be delighted, if it’s later, you’ll be resigned!new construction 2

#5: Even though everything is brand new, it may not all be perfect.  Mistakes can (read “will”) be made. But the builder will go over things with you and create a punch list ~ items to be tweaked and fixed ~ and they should also offer you a warranty. Before you sign anything, ask about their warranty, if it’s not at least one year, find another builder.

Moving Day in Midcoast Maine

The big day is here, and no matter how ready you think you are, chances are, you aren’t!!  Have you thought about how to deal with exhaustion? Distractions?  Unforeseen obstacles? What about the fact that the WHOLE neighborhood is watching?

Here are 3 tips that might come in handy and might help save your sanity on moving day.

moving-boxes-300x295

#1: Anticipate Distraction!

Some of the distractions will come from the new neighbors. You’re just trying to unload the moving truck but the neighbors won’t offer to carry anything, they just have questions!  ~ what did you pay for the house? are you making any changes? do you have children and want to join a playgroup?  Be ready, have your answers rehearsed.  The best answer may be “I’d love to chat but can we do this a bit later, maybe tomorrow when the truck is emptied?”

#2: Fight Exhaustion!

The physical and mental stress of moving out of the old home and into the new one, even if you have lots of help, will disrupt your routines. Fast-food and junk food may seem like an easy fix, but you really need more substance to be continually refreshed and recharged during the moving process. Stock up on healthy snacks, bottles of water and energy drinks.  And don’t try to do it all at once ~ there is plenty of time to unpack the boxes after the big furniture is in the next day after you’re refreshed and rested.

#3: Prepare!

If you prepare for the worst, you won’t be surprised by some common moving day problems…the couch won’t fit through the door (measure furniture and doorways prior to the big day)…the cable and internet can’t be hooked up for 2 weeks (call the cable company 2 weeks prior to the move and schedule a set up for the day after the move)…the moving truck can’t fit in the driveway (make sure there is a clear path for the movers especially if there is snow or ice on the ground).

Moving day can be fun…if you have the right help, take deep breathes and prepare…prepare….prepare!!

 

 

Pets at showings?!

I know you love your dogs. I know you love your cats.  And for some reason that I’ll never understand, I know you love your snakes. But not everyone does.

You’ve made the decision to sell your home, and with that comes the knowledge that strangers will be traipsing through your home peeking into closets and cabinets, looking into attics and cellars and sitting at the table and on the couch getting a feel for the kitchen and living room. I’ve yet to have someone lay on a bed to get a feel for the bedroom but……

So you’ve scrubbed, packed, decluttered and staged. The dog hair is vacuumed up, the litter box is clean, empty and odor free. Thank you for that, by the way, your home is now truly “show ready”.

BUT, since you’re a pet owner, you still have one more thing to do.  Please remove your dogs and cats prior to the showing!  Yes, remove them.  There is nothing worse than trying to show a home with barking and lunging dogs and sneaky and escaping cats. If the potential buyer is not a dog lover, the minute they hear a bark, they become nervous.  I’ve had buyers decide NOT to look at a home because of barking dogs inside, even if it’s the house they put #1 on their list.  If buyers have allergies, walking into a house and having a welcoming cat rub up against their legs can send them right out the door before they even see the foyer.

dog and cat

Cute, I know,but to a non pet lover……

many dogs

….this is what they look and sound like!!

 

This may sound harsh, but it’s reality.  So find a doggy day care,  a cat sitter or pet walker…..but when we’re coming to decide if YOUR home is going to be THEIR home, don’t let your pets be the decision makers!

Oh, and please, cover the snake tank. Please.

 

 

Pantone Colors of the Year….with nothing to do with hair products

So the news is out, and Pantone has chosen Rose Quartz and Serenity as the two colors of the year.  Basically that’s pink and baby blue…neither or them are favorites of mine, but that’s okay as I don’t have anything to paint this year.  But the biggest news is that even though I see the chosen Colors of the Year each and every year, this is the first time I’ve realized that it’s PantOne not PantEne, like the shampoo!!!!  How many times have I just seen what my eyes think I should be seeing, and read what my mind thinks it should be reading.  Wow…have I done this with other things?  Is this a reality check that I need to slow down?  I love to read, and I know that I read fast and tend to speed read if I think it’s not that important, but this may have gone to far…for years I thought that a hair product company had influence over our color choices for decorating!

12276943_1482394208735372_1048751017_n

To read more about the real company behind our decorating choices click here:   https://www.pantone.com/color-of-the-year-2016

To read more about the hair company, click here:  http://pantene.com/en-us

 

Renting vs Selling!!

The spring real estate market is just around the corner.  I promise. Cross my heart!

Have you been thinking about a larger home? Or a smaller home for that matter!

If you’ve owned your home for awhile, you may have built up enough equity to sell and then buy a bigger/smaller home.  But before you do that, have you though about renting your present home and buying a new home?

There are pros and cons to doing something like this, I’ll try to give you a couple of each of them

Selling now:

  • Inventory is low and you should be in a good position to sell your home quickly
  • Owning one home is easier, and some people just aren’t cut out to be landlords
Renting now:
  • You can purchase when you’re ready and not be dependent upon selling you home first
  • The rental market is really tight right now and renting should be fairly easy
  • As home prices increase, at some point you’ll be able to sell for more money than you can now
There are many other things to consider of course, and many other pros and cons for each situation, but it sometimes helps to talk things out with a professional (that would be me!) so that you can reach an informed decision about buying/selling/renting
for rent

Do you know how much your home is worth?

Would you like to know the current, and correct, value of your home?

Last night, with a couple of check boxes, I found out the value of my car.  I can check my bank statements online within minutes. But what about my house?

Even with all the online information we can compile, determining how much your home is worth in today’s market is still complicated. All homes are unique and all homes have their own value. Of course the well known factors such as condition, location, size of home as well as local supply and demand trends.

We can go around and around with all of this, but the bottom line is still that your home is worth what a buyer will pay for it in today’s market.

But where do you begin?  Here are some of the common approaches.

Use an AVM ~ Real Estate web sites are all beginning to place value homes and this approach is called an Automatic Valuation Model. But these web sites may be using out dated information and town tax assessments.  The variations in this model can be huge, leading to you think that the value of your home is either higher or lower than it really is.

Hire an Appraiser ~  An appraisal prepared by a licensed professional include a visual tour of the home in person, and the appraiser will look at current “comps” or comparables of homes of the same size close to you that have sold in the past six months. The appraiser will also review local market trends and be aware of the local supply and demand. But beware, and this just happened to me, appraisers are human and I had two appraisers come up with two different values on the same home within 2 weeks.  And 2 values by a LOT!

Do it Yourself ~ I don’t recommend this.  Even if you keep up with current market conditions and know what some homes around you have sold for, placing a value on your own home is hard. This is your home, and you have an emotional attachment to it even if you think you don’t!  When I put my home on the market, I had an appraisal done and also asked a fellow REALTOR to give me their opinion as I just couldn’t be as objective as I needed to be to find the correct value of my own home!

Have a REALTOR do a CMA ~ Ask a local REALTOR to do a CMA, a Competitive Market Analysis, on your home. Using a local, hands on the ground real estate professional who access to the absolute latest sales and current inventory will give you the best and most reliable result available.

If you’re in the MidCoast Maine area, thinking about selling your home and wondering how much it might be worth in today’s market, please call me, I’d be happy to help!