Jan. 9, 2017

How Moving Impacts Your Taxes

As we’re getting into tax season, you could be impacted in a big way if you moved last year. If you did, your tax return is about to get a little more complicated. At Sotheby’s Scottsdale, I thought I’d share a few scenarios that could affect you and what you should know moving forward. 

Moving to Arizona

If you just moved to a Sotheby’s Scottsdale home from another state, you’ll need to file a part-year tax return. It doesn’t matter if you changed employers or stayed with the same company during your move. Your W-2 forms will provide income information for each state you lived in. 

You might want to look at an online service for assistance if you plan on filing your own taxes. Many of the online programs will facilitate a question-and-answer format. The online programs might also help in answering questions as to whether you’re able to deduct moving expenses. 

If you bought a home

There are many perks to being a Sotheby’s Scottsdale homeowner. You can deduct mortgage interest, real estate taxes and loan origination fees. 

If you bought your home with a mortgage, you’ll need a 1098 form from your mortgage company. This form shows deductible mortgage interest for your Sotheby’s Scottsdale home, points if the buyer paid any, and real estate taxes paid out of escrow. If you paid mortgage insurance premiums last year, you can also deduct that money. 

If you paid cash for your Sotheby’s Scottsdale home, you won’t need a 1098 form and won’t obviously be able to deduct mortgage interest or loan origination fees. However, you’ll still be able to deduct real estate taxes. 

When filing your taxes, you’ll also need the closing statement and Closing Disclosure. Both forms explain the financial details.  

If you sold your home

While there are not as many tax perks when selling your Sotheby’s Scottsdale home, you can still keep the money made from the sale tax-free. usnews.com says, “A profit of up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for couples filing jointly does not have to be reported to the IRS as long as you primarily lived in the residence for at least two of the last five years.”

You should keep track of any major home improvement projects, as well, since you can subtract the expense from the profit as expenses for the home.

As you get ready to file your tax return, just remember you could be entitled to some additional deductions if you moved last year. 

 

 

Posted in Real Estate Tips
Jan. 8, 2017

Learning Real Estate Valuation Terminology

When it comes to buying or selling your Sotheby’s Phoenix home, you’ll come across real estate terminology that’s used to determine valuation. Below are common terms you’ll probably see and what they mean.

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

A licensed real estate professional at Sotheby’s Phoenix prepares a CMA. This is usually used to determine a home’s listing price. But it should not be the only factor in deciding the listing price but rather a guide and a way to evaluate active listings as well as sold competition. 

A CMA can also be used for loan modifications, short sales and foreclosure/REO purchases, value trend analysis, mediation and negotiation.

Broker Price Opinion (BPO)

A BPO is an estimate of what a property will probably sell for. Again, it’s prepared by a licensed real estate agent, including agents at Sotheby’s Phoenix. Like CMAs, BPOs can be used for a variety of purposes including loan modifications, short sales, and so on. This should not be the only way, though, used to value collateral when a mortgage is being generated for a real estate transaction.  

Automated Valuation Model (AVM) 

An AVM provides property valuations and are usually developed or used by lenders,l service appraisal staff and investors. Again, this should not be the sole method used to value collateral in a Sotheby’s Phoenix real estate transaction with a mortgage. But you can use an AVM as the sole valuation for other transactions such as refinances. 

Appraisal 

A licensed or certified appraiser prepares an appraisal which is their opinion of a Sotheby’s Phoenix property’s value. Appraisals are usually used for real estate transactions involving a loan and are required for most properties worth more than $250,000. Exceptions would be where no new money is involved. 

Buying and selling a home is stressful enough. Add in all of these real estate terms, it can be overwhelming. That’s where a Sotheby’s Phoenix real estate agent, such as myself, can help you every step of the way. 

Posted in Real Estate News
Jan. 7, 2017

A Guide to Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops have been all the rage for awhile now. Quartz is attractive and easy to care for and looks great in a Terravita Scottsdale home. The downside is it’s expensive. 

What is it?

Quartz Countertops were developed in the 1960s by combining ground quartz particles with resins. It’s an alternative to stone and it won’t easily crack or break. Unlike the early days of quartz, there are so many color choices to choose from today for your Terravita Scottsdale home. 

Unlike marble and natural stone, quartz is so easy to maintain and resists scratching. Remember, though, quartz is different than quartzite. Quartz is made with pigments and resins. Quartzite is sandstone that was exposed to intense heat, causing it to solidify. Quartzite is also available for countertops but must be sealed before use unlike quartz.  

Quartz pros and cons 

Quartz is mold-, stain-, and mildew-resistant. As a result, it’s easy to keep not only clean but germ- and bacteria-free, as well. Quartz is also resistant to heat damage up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  But “thermal shock” can result if you place something too hot on your countertop. That can cause cracking or discoloring.  

The biggest downside to quartz is cost. A preformed or laminate countertop will cost a few hundred dollars for a mid-size kitchen. Quartz countertops will cost a few thousand dollars for your Terravita Scottsdale home. They’re also not good for a backyard kitchen since the sun’s UV rays can break down the resin binders, leading to fading and warping.  

Choosing the best look

Choosing the right quartz for your Terravita Scottsdale home could be a challenge. So it might be a good idea to bring a home a few quartz samples before deciding on a color or design. As you plan, consider the following things: 

Seams: If you have a long counter, your quartz countertop might have to be fabricated in more than one section, meaning you’ll have seams. They’re usually not as visible on dark-toned quartz as they are with lighter toned countertops. 

Thickness: If you want a thin countertop in your Terravita Scottsdale home kitchen, chances are you’ll probably end up with at least one seam. If you need a large countertop or one with a fancy edge design, you should probably go with a thicker slab.

Design Details: In addition to a wide variety of colors, you can choose a quartz countertop with a smooth appearance or one with a flecked look. The surface can be sleek and glossy or flecked, pebbled, and embossed.   

Bathroom: Choosing a quartz countertop for a bathroom is a little different than picking one out for your kitchen. Bathroom vanities come in standard sizes so you can buy these quartz countertops pre-made.

Whether in a Terravita Scottsdale home or any home, quartz countertops look great, are easy to maintain, and won’t easily crack or break. The downside is the cost. 

 

 

Posted in Decorating tips
Jan. 6, 2017

Design Trends on Their Way in

We’re saying goodbye to some decor trends from 2016. I wrote about that in my last blog. Now it’s time to say hello to some new trends in 2017 you might want to incorporate into you McCormick Ranch home for sale. 

Geometric Patterns

No more soft, gentle curves. Instead, try introducing geometric patterns into your McCormick Ranch home for sale. Think throw pillows, wallpaper, and quirky planters. Your home doesn’t even have to be modern to incorporate this trend. Geometrics can even be used in farmhouse style designs. 

Jewel Tones

Jewel tones were introduced last year with the return of art deco-inspired designs. Need ideas? How about trying emerald colored chairs and sapphire walls with amethyst as an accent. Colors like these can give a lot of richness to your McCormick Ranch home for sale. 

Cork

Yes, I’m serious. Cork is in. But instead of cork board, why not a cork wall? They’re trendy and functional at the same time. You can keep to-do lists, notes, reminders, etc. on your cork board.

Tropical Patterns

While you’re busy painting walls with jewel-toned colors, consider accenting them with tropical plants. This creative look can be achieved by adding accents in bright yellows, deep greens, and earth tone colors such as orange and red. 

Rich Blues

While Pantone’s Color of the Year is more of a lime green, spring is all about various shades of blue from sapphire to teals to lighter shades of blue. Definitely a great look to bring to your McCormick Ranch home for sale. 

Wood Accents

Metal is out and wood accents are in. You should start seeing accessories like wood clocks, sculptures, trays, and furniture popping up in stores. Much of the wood will be reclaimed!

Black Stainless Steel

Stainless-steel appliances are still in. But there’s a new twist. Black stainless steel is being introduced in 2017 as a sleek and sophisticated look for your McCormick Ranch home for sale. It’s a subtle change but one you might want to consider. 

Front Doors with Edge

Get rid of the black or wood front door. Try painting it in a color that stands out. Maybe a bold blue? Bright red? Or pick a color that says something about you. An entryway is the perfect place to show-off your unique style.

Keeping trendy for 2017 won’t require a lot of changes but incorporating some of these changes will definitely give your home a fresh look!

Posted in Decorating tips
Jan. 3, 2017

Home Designs on Their Way Out in 2017

While hot in 2016 and previous years, there are some home design fads that are cooling off and on their way out in 2017. realtor.com predicts the trends we’ll be saying goodbye to in our Russ Lyon Sotheby’s home this year. 

Gray

I did a blog in 2016 on incorporating gray into your Russ Lyon Sotheby’s home, even in the kitchen. It was a hot color at one point. Now, it’s looking gloomy probably due to it being overdone. Some color experts predict a transition from gray to warmer browns and beiges. 

The glam look 

Leave the bold whites, bright silvers, and deep blacks behind in your Russ Lyon Sotheby’s home. Known as the glam era, these shades no longer look inviting and will be replaced with warmer shades.

Shiplap

realtor.com describes this look as tacky wood paneling. The look was popular on 2016 TV design shows. Shiplap is not easy to remove and designers see no point in using it in your Russ Lyon Sotheby’s home or any home. 

White-on-white kitchens 

I know I just wrote the last blog on “going white” in your Russ Lyon Sotheby’s home kitchen. But the article in realtor.com says don’t do everything — from countertops to cabinetry and even the floor — in white. While the everything white trend just started in 2016, design experts expect it to be gone this year. Now, white will be sticking around. Just choose where you want to use it and do accent colors around it.

Copper

This metal is on it’s way out in 2017. Any copper fixtures in your Russ Lyon Sotheby’s home you might want to start thinking about how to transition them out. 

Start 2017 out in a fresh way.  A few simple changes is all it’ll take to have an updated look for the new year!

Posted in Just for Fun
Jan. 3, 2017

Remodeling Tips for Your Kitchen

At some point, you’re going to want to sell your Sotheby’s Phoenix home. So, when it comes to remodeling your kitchen, you’ll want to make sure you can get the maximum return on your investment. You don’t need to get swept away by faddish design choices either. But there are some guidelines you can follow to make sure you end up with kitchen features that are marketable and retain their beauty. After all, the average complete kitchen renovation costs $60,000. If you make the right choices, you could recover about 67 percent of your investment according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Go White!

When renovating your Sotheby’s Phoenix home go white! It’s the most marketable color and doesn’t go out of style. The color can make kitchens feel bigger. White is associated with happiness, purity and new beginnings. Paint walls and even cabinets white.

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood floors are more popular than ever. The National Association of Realtors® found that more than half of home buyers who bought a home without them say they would have paid around $2,000 extra if the Sotheby’s Phoenix home had hardwood floors. In fact, 80 percent of buyers of all ages say hardwood floors are somewhat or very important. Hardwood makes homes more inviting and is perfect for open floor plans. Hardwood is also eco-friendly.

Shaker Cabinets

Shaker cabinets never seem to go out-of-style and look good in about any setting just like wood floors. The simple, clean lines can work with traditional and contemporary style kitchens. 

Carrara Marble  

Carrara marble for countertops is another timeless classic that has been around for years. Carrara’s white colors look great in a Sotheby’s Phoenix home with a white kitchen or any kitchen. The white comes from natural stones. Carrara also doesn’t cost as much as quartz.

Backsplash

Use subway tile for a backsplash in your Sotheby’s Phoenix home kitchen. The style goes back over a hundred years when it was used in the first subway tunnels in New York. Classic subway tiles are white and measure 3-inch-by-6-inch. The tiles also never go out-of-style. These tiles work great as a backsplash since they guard against moisture and are easy to clean. The classy look allows you to use a blast of color.

Smart Storage

Homeowners store almost half of their kitchen items in another room since kitchens normally don’t have enough storage space. That’s according to data released at the 2013 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. The solution is smart storage for your Sotheby’s Phoenix home. These are cabinets with shelves and compartments that turn, extend, and slide. 

Heading into 2017, you can give your kitchen a fresh look and still get a return on your investment.  You just need to do your research before you proceed.

 

Posted in Household tips
Jan. 2, 2017

Tips On Getting a Mortgage

Shopping around for a mortgage on a North Scottsdale home for sale can be stressful, especially for first-time home buyers. First, you must decide on a location, affordability, and if you have job security. Then you’ll want to get a pre-approval for a loan to make the home buying process go a little faster. Researching the market and creating a timeline will make the process go easier. Here are a few tips:

Understand the housing market

Home prices are rising but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll have an impact on first-time homebuyers. With that said, you should understand the housing market and do your research on North Scottsdale homes for sale. Inventory is low and it continues to be a sellers’ market, making it harder to compete with other buyers. But if you work with a skilled real estate professional, they’ll help navigate you through the process.

Hire a professional 

When buying a North Scottsdale home for sale, hiring a professional real estate agent along with mortgage professionals is a necessity. A good broker will make sure the entire process goes smoothly. Brokers recommend when applying for a loan, to make sure your taxes are filed and organized. You’ll want your last month of pay stubs and access to two months of bank accounts. More importantly, you should shop around. 

Know your personal finances

Understanding what you can afford is helpful before looking at a North Scottsdale home for sale. It’s definitely important to have a good credit score. Lenders will look at this along with how much debt you owe and monthly income when deciding how much they’re willing to lend you. It’s also good to put at least a 20 percent down so you can avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Educate yourself and shop around

Again, shopping around for a mortgage for a North Scottsdale home for sale is crucial. Find a loan officer who understands your goals and who can be a resource throughout the whole process. 

 

 

Posted in Real Estate Tips
Jan. 1, 2017

Give Your Living Room a Fresh Look

Heading into the new year, do you feel like your Sotheby’s Scottsdale home’s living room needs updating? It might seem a bit overwhelming to update but there are a few easy things you can do that’ll make a big difference. 

Paint

Nothing updates a room in your Sotheby’s Scottsdale home better than paint. You can do an all-over refresh on all of the walls or you can just paint an accent wall. With an accent wall, it’s a great way to branch out into colors, going with a deeper or brighter shade. If you go in this direction, don’t use huge paintings, draperies and furniture that’ll cover up the accent wall. But don’t leave the wall too bare either. 

Drapes

When you walk into a room, many times your eyes gravitate toward windows. But are your window coverings in your Sotheby’s Scottsdale home doing the windows justice? Try new drapes or blinds to freshen up the look. 

Furniture Placement

One of the easiest things you can do to give your Sotheby’s Scottsdale’s living room a new look is change your seating arrangement. Is your couch against the wall or blocking a walkway? Move sofas and chairs so they stand out more. Adding or eliminating pieces can also freshen up the room. 

New rug

Sometimes all you need to spruce up your Sotheby’s Scottsdale home’s living room is a new rug. It’s an easy way to add color and warmth to a space. A rug can completely change the look of a room so you’ll want to choose it wisely. You’ll want to consider size, shape, color, and pattern. 

Art and accessories

If you don’t want to make changes with large items in your living room such as couches and chairs, try adding a piece of art or accessories. Accent pillows are a nice touch in your Sotheby’s Scottsdale home and can freshen up your entire color scheme. Designers recommend that if you add something in one place, subtract something in another. You don’t want to look like a hoarder. 

In the end, freshening up the living room in your Sotheby’s Scottsdale home might not take much effort at all. A few simple things should get the job done. 

 

Posted in Just for Fun
Dec. 31, 2016

How to Keep Hackers Away

When it comes to buying a Cactus Acres home for sale, it’s important to talk to your real estate agent about how to protect yourself against scams. You see, hackers are targeting real estate transactions more and more. They like to hack into agents’ emails and send messages to clients asking for money to be wired for a down payment on a Cactus Acres home for sale. The problem is the account you’re being asked to put funds into is fraudulent and is usually offshore, meaning you can’t recover your money. It could cost you your life savings. 

Hackers are attracted to this type of scam because there’s little or no recourse. A lot of money is protected by little security. 

So you might be wondering what you can do to protect yourself when buying a Cactus Acres home for sale? For one, agents should do their part to warn clients to be vigilant against suspicious messages, especially during closing. 

Realtors can also make it tougher for scammers to gain access to your email and online info by adopting a two-step authentication process. This process confirms your identity with both a password and a secondary code sent by text or a call. Also, when buying a Cactus Acres home for sale, agents should never conduct business over a public WiFi. Agents should take extra caution on what links they click on, as well. 

To better protect clients, always use secure technology for sharing and signing documents for the Cactus Acres home for sale. DocuSign and Zip Logix are a couple of programs with secure technology. Email is not a secure form.

Technology still needs to be perfected and secured. In the meantime, it’s best to stay aware and educate others against real estate scams.  This goes for both agents and home buyers.

 

 

Posted in Real Estate Tips
Dec. 30, 2016

Tips from Buyers and Sellers When Viewing a Home

Whether you’re buying or selling a McCormick Ranch home or any home, there are common courtesies you should observe. A real estate agent compiled the below do’s and don’ts from being in the business many years.

BUYERS DO’S AND DON’TS

Sellers, including those selling a McCormick Ranch home, request that buyers schedule appointments in advance and keep them. Preferably a day ahead. On that same note, arrive on time and don’t park in the driveway if you have an oil leak.

Sellers also don’t like it when buyers watch agents use the code to open up the lockbox. Once inside, sellers of a McCormick Ranch home for sale generally like it when buyers remove their shoes. It’s also preferred you view the home with the agent and look at the inside of the house first in case there’s another showing behind you. You also won’t track dirt back into the house by looking at the exterior first.

Another suggestion from sellers, including those with a McCormick Ranch home for sale, is to watch for pets at the door. Don’t let them out and don’t pet them.

Unless it’s an emergency, sellers would appreciate it if you don’t use the bathroom, as well.

Don’t touch any possessions, don’t sit on the beds, and always carry small children or hold their hand to make sure they don’t touch anything, either.  It’s also inappropriate to inspect appliances, the A/C unit, etc. to see if they’re working. If you make an offer and it’s accepted, then an inspector will look for any problems.

If you show common etiquette, the seller might show favoritism towards you when writing an offer.

SELLERS DO’S AND DON’TS

Buyers also have a list of suggestions when looking at a home, including McCormick Ranch homes for sale. For one, buyers don’t like it when sellers stick around. Buyers feel uncomfortable.

Buyers also request stairs and walkways be cleared of any clutter. That goes for the yard, especially if you have pets. Buyers will walk around the exterior of your house. It’s also appreciated when pets are contained.

Keep lights on in every room and store personal items in a drawer. Sellers should expect the buyer to look at all the rooms and features including kitchen cabinets, pantry, bathroom vanities, and closets. Keep in mind, overpowering air “fresheners” can be a turn-off. 

The bottom line is to be respectful when it comes to showing or looking at a McCormick Ranch home for sale. Common courtesies go a long way in the buying and selling process. 

 

 

 

Posted in Real Estate Tips