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How to keep your home safe over the holidays

11/14/2018
How to Keep Your Property Safe Over the Holidays
By Brentnie Daggett

holiday lights
RISMEDIA, Wednesday, November 14, 2018— The holiday season is all about spending time with loved ones, and for many, this means traveling. There are certain precautions you should take whenever you leave your home for an extended period of time, but the holidays specifically tend to lead to an increase in home break-ins and stolen packages. Beyond theft and vandalism, vacant properties are also vulnerable to household catastrophes like frozen pipes or leaky sinks.
 
Here are some simple steps you can take to protect your property while you enjoy your vacation without worry:
 
Enlist the help of your neighbors.
Ask around to see if a neighbor or friend is staying in town for the holidays, and find someone who would be willing to keep tabs on things for you. If they're willing, have them do things like bring in your mail or park a car in your driveway to make it look like someone is home. If you'll be gone for an extended period of time, you may even want to ask if they could mow the lawn or shovel any walkways to deter thieves. If nothing else, have your neighbor or friend simply drive by your property each day to make sure nothing looks out of the ordinary and that there's nothing that needs immediate attention. Make sure whoever is helping you out has a copy of your itinerary and emergency contact information in case something comes up.
 
Be cautious on social media.
The holidays provide countless opportunities to share updates, photos and stories with your social media followers. Unfortunately, your friends and family aren't the only ones with Facebook and Instagram profiles. Several studies have shown that somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of burglars are using social media to find potential targets. Location tags and photos of your expensive new gifts can catch the wrong person's eye. Save the sharing for after you return home from your trip.
 
Invest in a timer for your lights.
Leaving a few lights on while you're away to make it look like someone is home is usually a good idea, but if you leave the lights on throughout your entire vacation, your electric bill will be an unwelcome surprise when you return. Purchase an automatic timer that'll turn the lights in your home on and off according to a programmed schedule. Unplug any other appliances that won't be in use while you're gone to further save on the electric bill—think computers, televisions, coffee makers and toasters. Be sure to inspect any holiday lights or wiring, and consider unplugging them before you leave town. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, December is the most popular month for electrical fires. Keep an eye out for frayed cords, cracked bulbs or faulty wiring to prevent any accidental fires.
 
Protect your pipes.
If you live in a cold climate, you need to prevent your pipes from freezing while you're away. Frozen pipes can crack and burst, which will translate to a lot of water pouring into your home in a short amount of time. Make sure your pipes are properly insulated, and leave the heat on low to prevent pipes from freezing. If you've recruited a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on things, have them turn on the faucet every couple of days—if only a few drops of water come out, your pipes may be frozen. Also, be sure to show them where the main water shutoff is located in case of a burst pipe. It never hurts to take a quick look at your other major appliances, such as washing machines or water heaters, to confirm everything is working correctly before you leave.
 
Keep your insurance up-to-date.
Whether you're a homeowner or a landlord, insurance exists to protect you from those worst-case scenarios. If something does go wrong while you're away, insurance can help you repair or replace the damages. Landlords: Your renters still may not understand the benefits of renters insurance, including the replacement of stolen items or even their car. Many landlords and property management companies even require renters insurance in their lease terms. With the holidays approaching and many renters traveling home to family, it's a great time of year to remind them of the importance of renters insurance if they don't already have it. Homeowners: Be sure your insurance is up-to-date before you take off on any vacations to make sure your home and your belongings are protected.
 
The holidays are a time to celebrate and relax with loved ones, so don't spend the season worrying about your home. With some simple precautions in place, your property will be set up for safety, and you can spend your holiday season focusing on what really matters.
 
This appeared first on RISMedia's Housecall.

Questions about the value of your home or about buying or selling real estate? Contact us today! 404-542-2447   or tiffanyandchip@bhhsga.com 

5 Issues You May Face When Inheriting a House

10/4/2018
By Alex Lehr
RISMEDIA, Thursday, October 04, 2018— The recent death of legendary singer Aretha Franklin initially posed a quandary for her four surviving sons. Because she didn't leave a will, her $80 million fortune—including Franklin's numerous real estate holdings—likely will take longer to divide, and the process could become very complicated.
 
Although Franklin's sons appointed her niece to execute the estate, the situation brings to mind how family feuds and other problems can potentially result when inheritance portions aren't clearly defined, or when an executor may be in over their head. Many newfound executors can face uncertainty and feel stress when inheriting a property after the death of a loved one.
 
Inheriting a property can come as a shock and may feel like an insurmountable obstacle. In the wake of a family tragedy or death, being the executor of an estate can be especially challenging. And the biggest asset in an estate—and the most difficult to resolve—is usually a house.
 
Here's a list of important decisions an executor may face when a house is part of an inheritance:
 
Keep, rent or sell? Competing interests among siblings can make the right decision difficult. Caught in the middle, the executor has to ask the heirs to keep their emotions under control and put the rational facts on the table. Selling is often the best decision if medical bills, tax issues or other reasons require cashing out, and it produces a specific amount that can be divided equally.
 
Can you manage a property investment? When considering keeping the property in the family, the executor needs to be objective about the beneficiaries' dependability. Would you choose the other beneficiaries to be your partners in any long-term investment? Could they get divorced, go bankrupt or bring other entanglements? If you decide to rent the property, there are issues to consider, such as the local market for rentals and your ability to maintain the property.
 
Establishing value of the property. If one heir or beneficiary wants to buy the house, the estate must determine the market value and get a fair price for the heirs and beneficiaries. One way is to get two appraisals, and to look at estimates from a real estate website such as Zillow. Alternatively, the executor can put the property on the market with the expressed provision that one of the heirs has the right of first refusal to match the highest offer.
 
Repair and renovate? The executor must make sure the house is maintained in good condition, necessary repairs are carried out, and that it's kept insured. An executor can be personally liable for failure to maintain a property that results in losses for the heirs. How much work is worthwhile before putting a home on the market? That's a big question that depends on the property and circumstances.
 
Furnished or unfurnished? It's not unusual for an inherited home to be filled with a 30-year accumulation of stuff. In most cases, when the property goes on the market, thinning out the furnishings will help it show better. Nine out of 10 buyers first see the home in online photos.
 
Being an executor is a high-responsibility, time-consuming, and often thankless job that people often take on while grieving. It's up to the executor to assess not only the physical assets of an estate, but also the people and emotions involved.
 
This appeared first on RISMedia's Housecall.
 
Alex Lehr is the author of The Unexpected Sale: Guidance For The Executor/Administrator Of An Estate. Involved in the real estate business for three decades, Lehr operates a concierge-type real estate firm with an increased focus on selling estate and trust properties—over 700 to date.

Selling inherited real estate is something we have personal experience in. Questions about that or any other real estate questions? We are here to answer them for you! Call us at 404-542-CHIP or email us at tiffanyandchip@bhhsga.com 

Home Price Cuts Increase, but Still Not Buyer's Market

9/11/2018
RISMEDIA, Tuesday, September 11, 2018— Realtor.com® has announced the findings of its August housing trend report which revealed a surge in price cuts and the second largest drop in the U.S. median list price in three years. Although competition between buyers remained stiff and list prices continue to rise, the report also revealed a slowdown in price growth and easing of inventory declines.

"Buyers, exhausted by bidding wars and little choice in inventory, could finally catch a break," said Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com®. "An increase in price cuts suggests that sellers are starting to become more flexible, especially in pricey markets. However, affordability is a concern in most areas which continue to be sellers' markets. Fierce competition and low inventory continue to push up prices. While buyers are gaining leverage in some markets, we are still far from a true 'buyer's market.'"

The median listing price in the U.S. decreased by $4,000 in August, dropping to $295,000 from a record-high of $299,000 in July. This is the second largest monthly list price drop since August 2015. While prices are still 7 percent higher than they were one year ago, the year-over-year increase is smaller than the 10 percent year-over-year gain seen last August.

The deceleration in price growth was also observed in the larger markets. The average yearly growth in median list prices in the largest 45 markets combined was 6 percent, down from 8 percent this time last year.

Meanwhile, price cuts are on the rise, especially in pricey markets where inventory is rising. The proportion of listings that feature price cuts rose 1.5 percentage points in the last year to 19.1 percent in August. The share of price cuts among listings is now 1.5 times more prevalent than in August 2012 when 13 percent of listings featured price discounts. This upward movement was more pronounced in major metropolitan areas in the last year including: Seattle with an 8 percent increase in cuts; San Jose with a 7 percent increase; and a 5 percent increase in San Diego, Riverside, Indianapolis and Los Angeles. In fact, 39 of the 45 largest markets saw an increase in the share of price cuts over last year.

As predicted in the realtor.com® 2018 housing forecast, the rate of inventory decline slowed, with only 2 percent fewer for-sale listings on the market than there were in August 2017. Inventory increased 2 percent over July, in line with the typical seasonal increase. The trend continues to gain strength as the last week of August saw the first year-over-year increase in inventory in four years.  Approximately 488,000 new listings entered the market during August. San Jose, Seattle and San Diego were the three markets with the biggest inventory jumps over last year, all posting increases of 28 percent or more.

The best states for house flipping

8/13/2018

Ever since popular shows like Flip or Flop or Flip This House started airing, many people have quit their daytime jobs to join the increasingly popular trend of house flipping. This process can be rewarding, from seeing your hard work come to life, to reaping substantial profits. Becoming a real estate investor and making a profit from house flipping isn’t an easy, overnight process. It takes patience and precision to get your top dollar. However, certain markets make it easier to flip than others. If you’re looking to start investing in real estate, check out these states that are the best for house flipping!

Colorado

Known for its picturesque mountain ranges and booming job markets, Colorado has become a hotspot for house flippers. As the housing market in key cities like Denver and Colorado Springs have increasing demands and low supply, flips are selling fast and for top dollar. With an average time to flip of 176 days, house flippers are quickly turning profits. Big profits at that — with an average profit of $74,300. Even though Colorado home prices are not cheap, they turn over quickly. This mixed with the high demand brings the state’s average return on investment to 155.6%.

Louisiana

It’s no secret that Louisiana is the destination for flavorful cuisine, rich history, and one-of-a-kind festivals. But Louisiana is quickly gaining popularity in house flipping as well. With a small average time to flip of 166 days and an average profit of $71,866, it’s no surprise that people are investing in Louisiana cities. Baton Rouge and New Orleans are the most notable for their high flipping returns. Overall, the state saw an average return on investment of 104.2%.

Tennessee

Tennessee tops the list for best places to flip houses. This in large part is due to its short turnover time at just 147 days. This quick turnover helps investors get their homes on the market faster and start new projects. People who flip in the country music capital can expect profits at an average of $57,600. While this may seem relatively low, it translates to an average return on investment of 132.7%, the fourth highest nationwide.

Pennsylvania

Home to many historic symbols, such as the Liberty Bell and the Declaration of Independence, Pennsylvania has a low median house price and ranks high when it comes to making money flipping. Pennsylvanians stand to make top dollar when flipping houses in this mountainous state. Deeply rooted in history, Pennsylvania yields high profits, at an average of $105,190 per flip. With such high profits, house flippers can expect an average return on investment of around 162.4%, the highest in the nation. At this rate of return, the 199 days it takes on average to flip is well worth it.

New Jersey

Another east coast state, New Jersey also tops the list as a great place to flip houses. Though house prices may be a little steep and the time it takes to flip is a little longer (207 days on average), turnover rates prove that the investment is worthwhile. The average profit in New Jersey stands at $102,300, the sixth highest in the country, and the average return on investment is 141.6%, the third highest in the country.

Link to original article: https://www.homes.com/blog/2018/08/the-best-states-for-house-flipping/

 

Ready to Buy? Top Tips for Newbies in the Spring Housing Market

5/3/2018

 

The housing market in some areas may make your home search more difficult. Be aware of what the market looks like before you decide to go house-hunting. Here are some other tips if you're new to the housing market:
Be Prepared to Make an Offer
Get pre-approved for a loan before you start shopping for a home. This will let you know the types of homes you can realistically consider, as the last thing you want to do is find the perfect home and not be able to afford it. Having preapproval will also let you move faster when you do find the right home. In addition, the seller will be more willing to consider your offer if you already have financing secured. In a really hot market, the seller may have multiple offers on the table.
 
Look Into the Comps
Check out the comparable neighborhood sales or "comps" for the home you want to purchase, as this will tell you whether the price is at fair market value. You can adjust your offer accordingly with the value of the home. A drastically underpriced home may require extensive renovations, or there may be other problems you aren't aware of yet. Comps are the baseline for how houses should be priced; an underpriced or overpriced home can be a red flag.
 
Have a Backup Plan
There may be instances in which you make an offer on the perfect home and your offer is rejected. If you can't up your offer, it may be time to move on to another home. Keep an open mind when you're shopping and look at more than one house before you make your decision. This may be more of a problem when it's a seller's market versus a buyer's market. The time of year that you're looking to purchase can also play a major factor when you're in the market.
 
Consider Housing Alternatives
The traditional single-family home may not be the best solution for your first home, so it's important to consider alternatives such as a condo, which will allow you to save money as you're first starting out. A condo typically has a lower asking price, requiring a lower down payment. This can help you grow your equity and purchase a different home in the future. Another thing that you should consider is a home warranty, which can help cover any of the unexpected expenses associated with homeownership.

As a first-time buyer, you should also look into the various programs designed to assist those in your situation. In the end, consider all of your options when it comes to getting your foot in the door in the real estate market.

By Hannah Whittenly
RISMEDIA, Thursday, May 03, 2018— Editor's Note: This was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall.

Thinking about buying a home? We are here to help! We'll help you find the right loan officer, show you how to discover homes that meet your exact criteria, advise you on the best way to "win" a bid on a house in this competitive market and most importantly, we will protect your interests! Did we mention you don't pay a dime for our services? Contact us for more information. tiffanyandchip@bhhsga.com or (404) 542-2447 

How The New Tax Law Impacts Homeowners

2/15/2018
Big changes for homeowners take effect this year as a result of the tax reform legislation enacted in December and it’s not too early to plan for changes that affect homeowners on their 2018 tax returns.

The biggest issue may not be chances for specific deductions and exemptions, but the cumulative impact on individual taxpayers when they decide whether to itemize or take the standard deduction. Income levels, the state they live in, and whether or not they own a vacation home are some of the issues that arise with individual taxpayers’ tax liability. Many people may alter their behavior or their lifestyles to achieve lower taxes in April 2018.

Below is a brief listing of specific issues followed by a discussion about their cumulative impact may affect homeowners.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

The amount of interest that homeowners pay on their mortgages has been an attractive deduction that lowers the cost of homeownership. Owners can deduct the mortgage interest they pay on vacation homes and second homes as well, as long as they don’t rent them out for more than two weeks a year.

Also, in recent years owners have been allowed to deduct the amount they pay for mortgage insurance or for the value they received from a short sale (a sale for less than the remaining principal, which results in the cancellation of the remaining debt). Also, the value of the mortgage deduction was capped for homeowners with mortgages larger than $1 million.

Changes:

  • Deducting mortgage insurance payments and second home sales ended in 2017, before the tax reform bill was passed.
  • The cap on the size of mortgages eligible for the mortgage interest deduction was lowered from $1 million to $750,000. Owners can still deduct the interest on mortgages for vacation and second homes.

Property Taxes

Homeowners that have property taxes paid to state or local governments have previously been deductible. The new law limits the amount of property tax a taxpayer can deduct to $ 10,000 a year.

The new year means new laws, but staying on top of what’s going on within the federal government will not only inform you, it’ll make sure you know what options you have as a homeowner.

The original article can be seen at this web site: https://www.homes.com/blog/2018/02/how-the-new-tax-law-impacts-homeowners/

Have questions about buying, selling or investing in real estate?

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10-Year High Profits for Home Sellers

2/7/2018

Original article by: Suzanne De Vita

RISMEDIA, Monday, February 05, 2018— Homeowners are profiting when selling—and their average earnings haven't been this high since 2007.
 
At the close of 2017, the average home seller gained $54,000, or a 29.7 percent return on investment (ROI), in the transaction, according to ATTOM Data Solutions' recently released Year-End and Q4 2017 U.S. Home Sales Report. Contradictory, however, is their length of stay: 8.18 years—the longest since 2000.
 
"It's the most profitable time to sell a home in more than 10 years, yet homeowners are staying put longer than we've ever seen," says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions.
 
The best rates of ROI are clustered on the West Coast, the report reveals. The San Jose, Calif., market has the highest return, at 90.9 percent, followed by San Francisco, Calif., at 73.7 percent, Merced, Calif., at 64.6 percent, Seattle, Wash., at 64.4 percent, and Santa Cruz, Calif., at 59.8 percent.
 
Appreciation, generally, improves the potential for profit. Annual appreciation has been highest in Ocala, Fla. (+14.3 percent), Kansas City, Mo. (+13.4 percent), San Jose (+13.3 percent), Salem, Ore. (+12.9 percent), and Nashville, Tenn. (+12.5 percent), the report shows. Additional areas are considerably growing, as well: Las Vegas, Nev. (+12.3 percent); Salt Lake City, Utah (+10.9 percent); Seattle (+10.8 percent); and Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. (both +10.7 percent).
 
"While home sellers on the West Coast are realizing the biggest profits, rapid home price appreciation in red state markets is rivaling that of the high-flying coastal markets and producing sizable profits for home sellers in those middle-American markets, as well," Blomquist says. 
 
Source: ATTOM Data Solutions 

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How can Teachers save thousands of dollars when buying or selling a house?

1/29/2018

  

 

                                                    

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