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Save Money!!!

by Pat Wattam

 

Save Money...Be Comfortable

Automatic thermostats can lower your monthly utility costs while conveniently regulating your comfort by adjusting temperatures on your heating and cooling systems. These can be particularly effective in homes with zoned systems where you live in one area during the day but sleep in a different zone.

 

There are programmable thermostats available at home improvement stores that can make the adjustments for specific times during the day and specific days of the week. They'll allow you to override the setting when needed without tampering with the programming. They'll even remind you to change your filter.

An exciting development is the Wi-Fi enabled thermostat that allows adjustments from any Internet connection such as computer or Smartphone. Imagine how convenient it can be to change your temperature from the car before you get home.

Reasonably priced under $100 for most models, it makes it easy to recapture the cost of the thermostat quickly. Most of the thermostats are designed for do-it-yourselfers; however, you can always have a heating and cooling professional install it for you.

Home Inventory Saves You Money

by Pat Wattam

 

Have You Backed Up Your Home?

Personal computers have been around long enough that everyone has experienced or knows someone who has lost their data due to a hard drive crash, accident or burglary. If they had a backup, the loss was inconvenient but not critical.

 

Do you have a backup for your personal belongings? Not that you need duplicates of all the items but do you have a journal listing of all the items with a description and their approximate values? That record becomes the backup that supports the claim for your insurance.

If a building sustains a total loss, the insurance company will usually pay the face amount of the policy. When it comes to personal property which might be 40% to 50% of the insured value of the dwelling, the insurance company is going to expect an accounting with receipts or at least, a relatively recent inventory.

The better your inventory, the less likely you'll have difficulty with the claim. Almost everyone has a digital camera that can take stills and probably even videos. The combination of the images as well as a written description will help you replace the belongings and serve as proof to the insurance company.

Once you've made the inventory, store it off site for safe keeping. Online storage in the "cloud" might be the best place to insure you'll always know where it is. Contact me for a free Home Inventory form; it's my way of helping you be a better homeowner.

Mortgage Interest Deduction Clarification

by Pat Wattam

 

MID Limited per Residence

A recent U.S. Tax Court ruling clarified the IRS position that the $1.1 million limit for mortgage interest deduction applies per residence and not per taxpayer as some high-priced homeowners were hoping.

 

A married homeowner filing jointly can have fullly deductible interest on a mortgage of up to $1,000,000 of acquisition debt and up to an additional $100,000 of home equity debt. If the married couple files separately, each party is limited to deducting the interest on half of those maximum amounts.

The court case came about when two unmarried individuals who owned a home together as joint tenants felt that they were entitled to deduct the interest on $1.1 million of debt each. IRS did not agree with their understanding and neither did the Tax Court. The Court ruled that the limits apply per residence, not per taxpayer even if a home is co-owned by unmarried taxpayers.

The result for the taxpayers in this case was that their deduction was cut in half resulting in much more income tax due. While this situation only affects a few taxpayers, homeowners in this position should have a discussion with their tax professional.

Spring is Here - Get Your House Ready!

by Pat Wattam

 Even if you are not planning to sell your house any time soom, spring time is a great time to give your house a once over and see what needs to be done.  The more updated you keep your home while you are living there, the easier it will be to sell when the time comes!!  I meet so many people who have lived in their house 20 years and not done one thing to update it.  We all get used to how our home looks and just don't want to spend the money.  But, I'm going to give you a list to think about.  Pick a few that would make your home more enjoyable (and hopefully more sellable when the time comes)/

1.  Pressure wash and paint the exterior as needed.  You have to pressure wash it once a year and usually paint every 5 years or so.

2.  Rework the landscaping.  Don't keep it so outdated with lots of shrubs.  Pull some out, add some flowering plants, maybe a palm tree or two.  You have to update the outside just as you do the inside.

3.  Get rid of those curtains!!!  I don't care how good the fabric is, if the colors are not current, get rid of them.  This is especially true if the colors are jewel toned, pink, baby blue, peach, or mauve.

4.  Same thing goes for the interior walls when it comes to color.

5.  Update your light fixtures

6.  Yes, I know you have REALLY good 30 year old carpet.  Replace it.

7.  Add wood floors to the den, living room, or dining room.  This will usually be an excellent return on investment!

8.  Change the hardware on the cabinets - change out the faucets - make the home have a fresh, new look.

9.  Remove some clutter.  Yes, we all live with it but let's face it, some of that stuff has to go.  Worst case, take a nice photo of it and make a photo album of all the cool things you are now going to discard!!

10.  Make sure your AC is in tip top condition, that you have a fairly new roof (since Katrina), and that there are no active leaks in the ceiling or under the sinks.

This is a nice start to updating your house while you are still there to enjoy it!

As a home buyer, one of the things that causes the most stress is to put in an offer on a house where you suddenly find 2 or 3 other people also want YOUR house and put in an offer too.  Now you are in competition to get the home of your dreams.  At this point, a lot of buyers just back out of the picture (which is why you want to stay in until the end!).   True, you are going to be paying top dollar, going over list price in most cases, and buying the house without the parachute of an appraisal - all in order to land that dream home.  Is it really worth all this stress?  YES, YES, YES!!  Why? you might ask.  In this economy if a house is really 'hot' can you imagine how sought after it will be when the Market turns around???  

In order to stack the cards in your favor here are a few tips you can try:

1.  Write the seller a letter on why you love their house.  BE SPECIFIC.  

2.  Offer over list price - and I don't mean $500-1000 - although that sometimes will do it.  Make it significant so that the seller has no choice but to choose you.

3.  Don't make the offer subject to the house appraising.  Have the extra cash to cover how high you bid over list price.  

4.  Make your offer 'as is' with no repairs.  Still have your inspection but let the seller know you aren't coming back to them for anything.

During hurricane Katrina we used these tactics and all of our buyers got the house they wanted.  

Remember, shopping for a house is fun, but living in the house you really want is worth a little extra effort!  Looking for a home?  Give us a call today and we'll get you started on that home search!

Why Have a Professional Handle Your Home Inspection

by Pat Wattam

A lot of our clients have friends or family who have been home owners for quite some time or are in the repair industry for things in the house.  These are the people they want to help inspect their new home purchase - not only because they respect their opinion but also because it's FREE!  What's wrong with this?  First, Louisiana Inspectors are licensed and there are specific things they are trained to inspect.  Not only will they tell you what they find wrong with the house, but will give you tips on maintenance or things to keep you eyes on in the future.  No one is perfect, but an impartial 3rd party can help you make sure you aren't buying a lemon!  Also, a licensed home inspector knows that the job you hire them is not to make this home into a new home again, but to alert you to items that need attention - then it's your job to determine which things need to be addressed in order for you to move forward with the sale. 

This is one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make.  Trust your home inspection to a licensed inspector so that you have the best chance of getting a total over all view.

And those of you, who like us, have owned your house for several years, might want to have a home inspection done on your own house to see if there are items you should be aware of.  We recently had a structural engineer check out our house as I had seen some movement in the brick.  Well, what I thought was foundation issues were really termite issues - and I never saw the evidence - even though I look for that stuff all the time!!!  The professional recognized it immediately.  Guess that's what they are the professionals!!

If you never need a list of inspectors to call on, just let us know.  We keep a list handy - just for you!

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Pat Wattam
RE/MAX First, Independently Owned and Operated
4750 Sherwood Common
Baton Rouge LA 70816
Office Direct: 225-298-6900
Office Main: 225-291-1234
Fax: 225-295-1234

RE/MAX First
Each Office Independently Owned and Operated
Main: 225-291-1234

Licensed by the Louisiana Real Estate Commission