Article by Dawn Allcot | GoBankingRates | Yahoo! Life
Featured Expertise by Jason Gelios
Financial guru Dave Ramsey recently tweeted: “Finding the right home takes more than a Google search. You need an agent you can TRUST to help find a home that’s right for YOU.”
See: Dave Ramsey’s 7 Tips for Paying Off a Mortgage Faster
Explore: 3 Things You Must Do When Your Savings Reach $50,000
There’s a solid takeaway in his words — a buyer’s agent can help by advocating for you, guiding you through the pre-approval process and tapping into their trusted network of professionals to assist you with every aspect of buying a home, from the mortgage to closing and everything in between.
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First you need to know there are different types of tax experts. And not all accountants are CPAs. So, if you’re thinking that a licensed independent CPA and someone at H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt (or your buddy who studied accounting in college) are pretty much the same, don’t count on it.
Basically: An accountant is someone who studied accounting and works in the field. CPAs are
accountants who passed a rigorous examination and must comply with stringent continuing education requirements from their state board on a regular basis. The designation usually requires a degree. Not every CPA specializes in taxes. An enrolled agent, or EA, is a tax specialist who has been certified by the IRS. Being an EA doesn’t require a degree like a CPA does. But it does verify they know the tax law. A tax preparer at pop-ups like H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt is trained on tax software to help taxpayers file their returns. They aren’t required to be CPAs or EAs, but some are very knowledgeable about the tax rules.
Only CPAs and EAs can legally represent you if the IRS challenges your return. There’s nothing wrong with visiting a pop-up preparer like H&R Block if your return isn’t all that complicated, says Cathy Derus, CPA and founder of Brightwater Accounting in Illinois. “It’s when you start generating other income — perhaps you launch a business or own rental property — [or experience a big financial change] when it makes sense to ask for a little extra help,” she says.
Several software programs are available to help you prepare your own return and save money, says Tai Stewart, accountant and owner of Saidia Financial Solutions in Houston. “They’re good for people who have simpler returns — they’re in their first few years of work or single with no kids. The programs ask questions to make it easy to understand the directions and input your data.”
But if you’ve bought a home, it gets more complex, Stewart adds. “That opens you up to special credits and deductions and requires more recordkeeping. If you mess something up or miss out on deductions, it can cost more than hiring an accountant would have.”
By: Gabriela Barkho
March madness is here — not the basketball kind, but the home kind. It’s that time of year when homeowners who’ve been through a few winters know that to be at the top of their game, they have to be proactive.
Here are four things they always do:
#1 Patch Up the Bare Spots in the Lawn
That’ll keep both mud and water out of your house as snow and ice continue to melt and spring rains arrive.
#2 Inspect the Roof and Siding (Using Binoculars!)
Your home’s outer coat — its roof and siding — takes a major beating during severe cold weather. March’s slightly warmer temps make it an ideal time to look for early signs of roof problems — before they become money-gobblers. Grab some binoculars (it’s safer than climbing on the roof and a time-saver) and start looking for signs of damage: Loose or curling shingles, Damaged gutters, Peeling paint, and/or cracks in the foundation. And start scheduling repairs before the damage gets more extensive.
#3 Put Up Window Screens
They last longer if you remove and store them for the winter (plus windows without screens will let in more warming rays of sunshine). But regardless of whether you removed them last fall, now’s the time to repair any holes, frames, or loose screens so you can open your windows for a fresh, clean breeze that’s bug-free.
#4 Replace Batteries in Smoke Detectors
They should be changed once a year. And if you’re pressing the “test” button to see if it works, know this: That button tests the alarm sound — not whether the device actually detects smoke. (To see if it can detect smoke, light a match, then blow it out holding the stream of smoke near the device. If it goes off, it works.)
Every time you take a vacation, you might ponder whether the moment is right to purchase a second house. Buying a vacation home can be a wise investment if you already have a primary residence. You can have a definite vacation site every year and make some additional money by renting out your home. Owning a second home gives you the opportunity to unwind in a setting that replicates your primary residence while escaping the daily grind. But purchasing a vacation home is a significant financial choice that needs serious thought and preparation. So don't forget to research things people wish they knew before buying a house. It's important to take the time to carefully consider several aspects to make sure you make a decision that will result in years of delight.
7 Things to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home
Are the ocean's salty winds calling to you? Or are the majesty of the mountains and the balsam-scented pines whispering softly in your ear? Even if buying a vacation home may seem like a fantasy, it's a significant choice that requires careful thought. But when is the best tie to buy a home? Before you spend your hard-earned money or sign on the dotted line for that dream of a lifetime vacation, there are a few things to think about first, regardless of the type of holiday destination playing in your head like a non-stop loop.
Are mountains and the balsam-scented pines pulling you towards adventure or relaxation?
Your future vacation home's location is one of the most important factors to consider. It should be in an area you want to visit frequently. Consider the activities you enjoy while on vacation, such as skiing, hiking, or beachcombing, and look for a property that is close to these activities. Additionally, consider the accessibility of the location, including transportation options, distance from your primary residence, and availability of amenities and services.
One of the most crucial things to consider when buying a vacation home is its location.
Before buying a vacation house, it's essential to consider your budget. Determine how much you can afford to spend on a property, including the down payment, closing costs, and ongoing expenses such as property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. Keep in mind that owning a vacation home may come with additional costs, such as HOA fees, property management fees, and utilities. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that your total monthly expenses for the vacation home do not exceed 10% of your monthly income.
Holiday homes come in various styles, including single-family homes, condos, townhouses, and cabins. Each sort of property has a unique set of benefits and drawbacks. A single-family home, for instance, can provide more space and solitude, whereas a condo might provide amenities like a gym or pool. Think about the kind of property that best satisfies your requirements and tastes. Therefore, experts from U. Santini Moving and Storage NYC advise considering the property's resale worth and the local market's demand for properties of that kind. You might not end up selling your vacation home, but it's always good to think a few steps ahead.
Consider the type of property that best suits your needs and desires.
Financing a vacation home may be more challenging than financing a primary residence. Lenders typically require a larger down payment, higher credit score, and stricter underwriting standards for vacation home purchases. Research your financing options, including conventional loans, FHA loans, and cash purchases, to determine which option is best for you. Additionally, consider the interest rates and loan terms to determine the long-term affordability of the vacation home. If you are a senior, you can find some home-buying tips for seniors that will also help you.
Vacation homes require ongoing maintenance to keep them in good condition, especially if they are left vacant for extended periods. Consider the property's maintenance requirements, such as landscaping, cleaning, and repairs. So before buying a vacation home, make a list of all the things you would need to take care of. Determine whether you will handle the maintenance yourself or hire a property management company to handle it for you. Keep in mind that maintenance costs can add up quickly, so it's important to factor them into your budget.
If you plan on renting out your vacation house to offset expenses, research the rental market in the area to determine the potential rental income. Consider the rental demand during peak seasons and any regulations or restrictions on short-term rentals in the area. Keep in mind that managing a rental property can be time-consuming and may require the assistance of a property management company. It's essential to factor in the rental income when determining the affordability of the vacation home. Also, if you are, for example, buying a second home in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, you might want to secure unit for your items so that they are safe while you're renting the property.
Owning a vacation home may have tax implications, including property, income, and capital gains taxes. Consult with a tax professional to determine the tax implications of owning a vacation home and how to maximize your tax benefits. Some tax benefits may include deducting mortgage interest, property taxes, and rental expenses.
Buying a vacation home can be a terrific investment for people who enjoy traveling and desire a second house in their preferred location. Take the time to carefully consider and weigh each of these issues before deciding whether to buy a vacation property to be sure you are making a sensible investment. Making an informed decision can be aided by speaking with a real estate agent knowledgeable about the neighborhood and market. Ultimately, choosing a vacation house should be a deliberate and well-thought-out process. You may make a good decision that will provide you with many years of fun and relaxation in your little corner of paradise by taking the time to analyze all of the relevant elements.
16 Different Types Of Mortgages
Can You Talk To An Appraiser?
Realtor Rant By Jason Gelios
Realtor Rant by Jason Gelios
How To Prepare For Movers
Episode 265 of the AskJasonGelios Show
Article by Terri Williams | Real Homes | MSN
Featured Expertise by Jason Gelios
1. A patio
The simple addition of a patio is a no-brainer backyard improvement to add value to your home. Whether you install outdoor tile or pavers, carving out even a small patio will allow you to create more room for outdoor living which is now an intrinsic part of a happy home life.
Patel adds 'Outdoor living spaces are great for entertaining guests, and they can add value to your home because they make it more attractive to potential buyers.' Once you've done the ground work – pun intended – add more personality by investing in patio furniture, outdoor rugs, lighting and more to create a relaxed and convivial ambiance sure to wow any guests.
'To add to this, you can also do some simple landscaping projects to spruce up your yard and make it more inviting. These projects can be as simple as planting some flowers or trimming the hedges. By making these types of improvements to your home, you'll be able to enjoy a nicer space and also increase its value.' Continues Patel.
Is 2023 a Good Time To Buy a Home?
Article by MyMove
Featured expertise by Jason Gelios
It’s a strange time to be in the market for a new home. On the heels of a pandemic-fueled buying frenzy and the fastest rise in interest rates in decades, it’s hard for homebuyers to know what to plan for in 2023.
While our crystal ball is in the shop, we asked the following experts in the housing industry to predict what will happen to the housing market over the next year:
Organizing Your Home
Increase your home’s appeal for yourself or for buyers on the market with these organizational tips.
Decide what’s working in your home and what’s not.
Take stock of items in your home and how they are organized. What spaces work for you, and which ones feel overwhelming or inconvenient? Do you have too many items stored in a space that is too small? Go room by room and evaluate your closets and drawers. Ask yourself, “what do I like about this current organizational set-up? What should change?” Take notes.
Come up with a plan
After evaluating your current system, come up with a new plan. Get rid of items that you no longer need or have space to keep—remember, the fewer things you have, the less time and space you will need to keep them nice. After decluttering, organize your items using bins, shelves, racks, or other systems for separation. Your system will work best if the objects you use most are easy to access without bending or reaching.
Take a “step-by-step” approach
Avoid burnout by breaking up tasks and starting small. For example, you could start with a closet that you can reorganize in a day, or you could sort through old clothes to give to charity. Once you are done, take a break before moving on to the next project.
Ask for help
Some labor-intensive tasks are hard to do alone. When needed, do not be afraid to ask for help. Larger projects likely require the help of family, community members, or hired professionals. Talk with people in your network, including your SRES® professional, for recommendations for qualified professional organizers, cleaners, or movers in your area.
Tips For Getting Rid Of Excess Things
Toss duplicate items:
If you have more sets of work clothes or measuring cups than you need, consider giving away what is extra.
Sort items into four piles:
One for things to keep, one for things to donate, one for things to throw away, and one for valuables to appraise and/ or sell.
Pass on belongings:
If there are items you no longer need, or keepsakes you would like to go to a certain person, gift them personally now.
Episode 262 AskJasonGelios Show
Episode 261 AskJasonGelios Show
Article by John Riha
Your home’s interior lights want to help you have fun, feel better, and save energy. Will you let them?
It used to be we’d walk into a room and flip on the light switch, maybe slide the dimmer up or down a bit to change the brightness.
But that’s so old school. Instead, press a tab marked “Cooking” on a wall-mounted panel to let all kitchen task lights come up to full brightness while lights in the family room dim so the kids can play video games.
Or hit the button marked “Romance,” and the lights throughout the house go out while the lights in the bedroom ebb to a soft glow that turns a sultry blue.
Household technology is undergoing a transformation that’ll make lighting more integral to our everyday lives. Not only will we see better, but we’ll use light to alter our moods, protect our well-being, safeguard our houses, and save bunches of energy.
“Home lighting today is about lifestyle enhancements,” says Paul Nagel, technical adviser and consultant for Oquirrh Ventures in Sandy, Utah. “We want to know how to control light to create environments we’re comfortable in, and have energy efficiency while we do it.”
Lighting Our Homes With a Purpose
Today’s progressive lighting schemes aren’t about turning lights on and off; they’re about being partners in your lifestyle. The concept is simple: Imagine all your home’s light fixtures as a single system that can be programmed into a variety of zones. Each zone is dedicated to particular task or mood, and can be controlled by wall switches, a master wall panel, or a smartphone app.
So in addition to “Cooking” and “Romance” zones, you might have buttons for:
Easing the Fear of Lighting Technology
Do your eyes glaze over at the thought of yet another layer of high tech added to your everyday life? Fear not: In the hands of a pro, zone lighting systems are relatively easy to install. Home automation companies and lighting contractors can retrofit your house with a single-zone system in half a day or, with more time, install a whole-house system.
You’ll get an easy-to-understand central control unit that “talks” with new switches, light fixtures, and bulbs that are specially made to receive wireless signals. You decide on your zones and, once everything’s set up, have the light throughout your house change intensity and color on command.
DIYers Can Zone Out, Too
Relatively low-cost mini-systems are coming to market that’ll let you install your own zones, even if your geekability quotient is near zero. Philips Hue smart light starter kits feature smart LED bulbs, the Hue Bridge, and a variety of smart accessories to help you easily set up a smart lighting system. Screw in your light bulbs, plug the Hue Bridge into your Wi-Fi router, and download the Hue app. Add your lights to your system and you’re ready to go. The system works with either Bluetooth or the Bridge.
No Dim Bulbs Here
Other DIY smart bulbs are on the market. They’re made to replace any screw-in type of lightbulb. All you need is a free app you download to your phone so you can dim lights, change colors, and turn individual lights on and off.
(FYI: Smart bulbs also work via conventional on/off wall switches; you’re not locked into controlling them with an app.)
ilumi bulbs come in different strengths including the A19 Color Bulb800+ Lumens (60-watt incandescent equivalent) for lamps and sconces, and the indoor BR30 Color 1100+ Lumens (85-watt incandescent equivalent) for down lighting. You can download the ilumi app, connect the bulbs with your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth, and enjoy smart lighting throughout your home with no hub or bridge. You’ll need to have your smartphone within range of ilumi bulbs (meaning within 100 feet) so that your phone’s Bluetooth network, with its short-range capability, can talk to them.
LIFX has created smart lights that do more than illuminate, according to its owner, Buddy Technologies. LIFX Clean can be scheduled to emit high energy visible wavelengths that can eliminate bacteria in your home. And LIFX Nightvision can be set to emit infrared wavelengths that boost your security camera’s ability to see in the dark.
Using Light to Alter Moods and Stay Healthy
If you’re feeling blue, it may be the light. Light can affect our moods and, ultimately, our health. Just ask anyone with seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression characterized by low energy and poor concentration. MedlinePlus estimates that 10 million Americans have SAD. The therapy is exposure to more daylight or to artificial lights that mimic the properties of natural light.
The health- and mood-altering properties of light haven’t been lost on lighting manufacturers, who’ve come up with a variety of new home lighting products that claim to have health benefits. Although clinical proof can be hard to come by, the products are intriguing.
Dynamic lights vary between warm white (2600K) and cool light (5600K) so that the natural rhythms of daylight are reproduced indoors. That helps keep you happy during the depths of winter. Several manufacturers make dynamic lightbulbs, also called full-spectrum bulbs.
The Withings Sleep Tracking Mat can be installed with a one-time setup under the mattress, and the pad is compatible with most mattresses. The mat tracks sleep metrics including duration and onset; deep, light, and REM phases; continuous and average heart-rate; and snoring duration. On top of that, you can control lights and temperature by getting into and out of bed.
LEDs — The Energy-Sipping Superstar of Home Lighting
LED lights (which stands for light-emitting diode) point the way for the future of home lighting. Why? LEDs:
LEDs can be made small — really small. In fact, some lights are no bigger than the point of a pencil. That’s going to change how we illuminate our homes. For example, hundreds of tiny LEDs can be embedded in sheets of drywall to create walls and ceilings that glow.
Mixing Light and Home AutomationLighting solutions can be standalone projects, but they’re often paired with other home automation features to create a holistic home environment that’s controlled by a single wall panel and app. For example, press that “Relax” button on your scheme choices, and as the lights dim, you’re surrounded by the soothing sounds of jazz.
Lights are essential components of home security systems, too, teaming up with video cameras, alarms, and motion sensors to keep your house safe, whether or not you’re there.
Another advantage of automated energy management systems is that they combine smart thermostats, Energy Star appliances, and lighting schemes to trim energy costs across the board, and that’s a future we can all live with.
Article by Jamie Wiebe
Don’t break your back. Try a de-icing cocktail instead.
If you’re a homeowner in a snowy climate, chances are good you rue the winter: All that snow has to go somewhere, and it’s not getting there itself.
Cue the snow shovel.
Barring a move to a snow-free state or barricading your family inside all winter, there’s no way to avoid the endless task of shoveling snow. There are, however, ways to make the process much easier. Here are four simple hacks to make the morning after a snowfall much less stressful.
#1 Spray Your Shovel with Cooking Oil
Snow sticking to your shovel makes an already arduous task even more obnoxious. Avoid it with this hack: Lightly coat your shovel with nonstick cooking oil to make the snow slide right off. No more time wasted removing snow from your snow remover. (You can substitute a spray lubricant like WD-40, but the downside is it’s toxic.)
#2 Lay Out a Tarp Before the Snow
If you like shortcuts, this technique, billed as “the laziest way imaginable” to clear snow according to a tutorial from “Instructables,” has your name on it. The day before an expected snowfall, lay a tarp on your walkway. When the snow finishes falling, just pull out the tarp, and voilà: an instantly cleared walkway. (Word to the wise: Make sure pedestrians won’t trip on your tarp. Include a sign or use this technique in your backyard walkway if you’re concerned.)
The technique requires a tarp, firewood, and twine as well as some prep work. Prestorm, use firewood to weigh down your tarp — you don’t want it flying away in the wind — and tie the twine to both the tarp and to a shovel standing upright in your yard. You’ll use the shovel to pull out the snow-laden tarp.
Although this method might be faster than shoveling, it does require manpower. After all, a cubic foot of snow can weigh between seven and 20 pounds. So, don’t get too ambitious with the size of your tarp or you might not be able to pull it once it’s full of snow.
#3 Stir Up a Homemade De-icing Cocktail
Deicers make snow removal easier by cutting through the tough, icy layers that are a pain to remove with a shovel. But an easy solution should be easy on your property as well. Many commercial deicers are pretty harsh.
Commercial ice-melting substances — magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride (salt) — all damage the environment, according to the University of Maryland’s Home and Garden Information Center. They can also damage concrete sidewalks and driveways, which means hefty repair costs later.
A better solution: Make your own deicer using rubbing alcohol or vinegar. You’ll save money, too. Commercial melters typically cost about $10. Plus, you’ll avoid the hassle of trekking to the hardware store to stock up.
Use vinegar before a storm to make ice and snow removal easier:
A leaf blower can be a multitasker. Use it to remove dry, powdery snow that’s no more than 1 inch thick. A few guidelines to keep in mind:
Episode 260 AskJasonGelios Show
When it comes to buying a house, it's easy to get swept up in the excitement of finally owning your dream home. However, the homeownership process has its fair share of surprises and challenges. From hidden costs and unexpected repairs to the importance of a good real estate agent and understanding the local market, there are many things people wish they knew before buying a house. Therefore, it's crucial to research, prepare well, and be 100% sure of your decision before signing on the dotted line. To help you do this, we've consulted with an experienced Realtor® to give you a comprehensive guide on what you need to know before buying a house. So, before you take the leap into homeownership, read on and arm yourself with the knowledge and understanding you need to make an informed and confident decision.
The harsh reality of homeownership: things people wish they knew before buying a house
Buying a house is often considered the ultimate symbol of adulthood and success. However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Many homeowners have experienced the harsh realities of homeownership and have wished they had researched home buying tips and learned certain things before signing on the dotted line. So to help you avoid this, here are the top six things people wish they knew before buying a house.
Before even starting your search for a new home, it's important to do your due diligence and prepare well.
#1 The true cost of homeownership
When calculating the cost of a mortgage, many people only consider the monthly payment. However, many other costs come with owning a home, such as property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and repairs. These costs can add up quickly and be a significant burden for homeowners. It is essential to consider all these costs when determining how much house you can afford. Additionally, unexpected expenses such as a new roof or significant appliance repairs can also arise, so it's essential to have a contingency fund in place to cover these unexpected costs.
#2 The importance of sticking to a budget
After settling into their home, many people wish they knew the importance of sticking to their budgets. Getting caught up in the excitement of buying a home and overspending is easy. However, it's essential to stick to a realistic budget and ensure you can afford the mortgage payment and all the other associated costs of homeownership. This means setting a budget for not just the home's purchase price but also the ongoing costs of maintaining and owning a home.
Don't forget the moving costs either, as many people make an oversight when it comes to them. That's why it's essential to research and not hire the first company you find online. The expert team from bestmoversinflorida.com advise that it's best to do your research on verified online bases. Given that moving scams are pretty standard, this way, you'll be sure you're working with legit professionals. Plus, you can also compare prices and find the one that fits best into your budget.
#3 The importance of home inspections
A home inspection is an evaluation of a home's condition by a professional inspector. It's essential to have a home inspected before buying it to ensure that there are no significant issues with the home. For example, issues with mold, structural damage, or pest infestations. Many homeowners have regretted not having a home inspection and have ended up with costly repairs. A thorough home inspection can also reveal potential issues that may not be immediately apparent, such as a leaky roof or outdated electrical wiring, that could affect the safety and livability of the home.
One of the things people wish they knew before buying a house is the importance of having a home inspection.
#4 The importance of a good Realtor®
Many people think that going house hunting on their own is a good idea. However, not working with a good Realtor® is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. A good Realtor® can save you time and money by guiding you through the buying process, negotiating on your behalf, and helping you find the perfect home. They can also offer valuable insights into the local market, advise you when it's the best time to buy a home, and help you navigate any potential issues that may arise. They will also be able to provide you with information about neighborhoods and local amenities, as well as help you to understand the process of making an offer and closing on a home.
#5 The neighborhood is just as important as the house
Always remember that while you can update and change your home to your liking, you can never change its location. The neighborhood can greatly affect the value of your home and your overall satisfaction with it. Factors such as the quality of the schools, the crime rate, and the proximity to shopping and entertainment can greatly impact your enjoyment of your home. Therefore, make sure to research the neighborhood before making an offer on a property to ensure that it's a good fit for you and your family.
#6 The importance of researching the local real estate market
The real estate market can vary greatly from one area to another, and it's essential to understand the local market conditions to make an informed decision. Researching the local real estate market can help you understand the current prices, trends, and availability of homes in your area. It can also provide you with an understanding of how long homes typically stay on the market and what types of homes are in high demand. This information can be extremely valuable when it comes to making an offer on a home and determining how much to offer. Make sure to ask your Realtor® to help you with this aspect of your home buying journey.
Before you embark on your real estate adventure, make sure to thoroughly research the local market you're interested in.
The bottom line
Buying a house is a significant decision that you shouldn't take lightly. You don't want to risk experiencing home buyers' remorse simply because you were too lazy to do your research and find out what are the things people wish they knew before buying a house. By keeping these things in mind, you can make a more informed decision and avoid potential regrets. Therefore, take your time to research and plan for a home purchase so that you can be confident that you're making the best decision for yourself and your family.
Jason Gelios is a Husband and Father. After that, a Top Producing REALTOR®, Author of the books 'Think like a REALTOR®' and 'Beating The Force Of Average', Creator of The AskJasonGelios Real Estate Show and Expert Media Contributor to media outlets across the country.