Are You Taking Advantage of These Homeowner Tax Breaks?

a stack of coins gradually increasing in heightThere are many benefits to owning a home: A home is an investment that can earn equity, is often cheaper to buy than to rent, and is your own place that you can fill with wonderful memories.

But another great benefit about owning a home is the financial benefits that you can take advantage of during tax season.

Major Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Owning a home, and eventually selling it, can offer you opportunities for deductions on your taxes, and we wanted to outline the major tax breaks for homeowners today. Are you taking advantage of these tax benefits?

Deduction for Mortgage Interest

In many cases, you can fully deduct the amount of your mortgage interest on your taxes. The IRS has a chart you can use to help determine if your mortgage interest is fully deductible.

mortgage interest credit is available for lower income homeowners for part of the home mortgage interest that they pay.

Credit for Energy-Efficient Home Improvements

Available until the end of this year, homeowners who have installed solar hot water heaters, solar electric systems, wind turbines, or qualifying energy-efficient home improvements can take a tax credit as part of the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit.

The credit is for 30% of the cost for these energy-efficient home improvements.

Deduction for Property Taxes

In addition to deducting your mortgage interest, you can also deduct the annual taxes you pay on your home’s value, called real estate taxes.

Deduction for Capital Gains

calculator and financial worksheet for taxesIf you have used your home as your primary residence when you sell, you can exclude up to $250,000 in capital gains from the home sale on your taxes (or $500,000 if you are married filing jointly).

To learn what other tax benefits you may take advantage of, visit the Credits and Deductions page on the IRS website or read this MarketWatch article about other tax breaks for homeowners.

Let Us Help You Find the Perfect Home

If you have been considering buying a home and are ready to start your search, we can help you find the perfect home that falls within your budget and provide you with helpful real estate resources to make the journey to homeownership as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Contact us today and let’s talk about your goals for owning a home.

5 Ways to Host the Perfect, Mess-Free Super Bowl Party

If you are hosting a big party to celebrate Super Bowl 50, you probably want it to be an event that you and your guests remember for years to come.

But Super Bowl parties can be messy: Crumbs and dirt from your guests’ shoes can embed themselves in your carpet, drinking glasses and plates can pile up, and the late-night messes can leave you feeling frustrated. But not to worry, we have a few Super Bowl party ideas that can help you minimize the mess.

Game-Changing Super Bowl Preparations

table cloth with appetizers and party itemsBefore you place the perfect decorations and put the snacks out on the table, prepare for game night with these helpful tips.

1. Buy Disposable Table Covers

Protect your coffee table from scuffs and crumbs by covering it with a disposable cover, whether it’s a plastic tablecloth or a roll of brown paper. For extra security, you can tape the edges to the underside of the table, and all you have to do is scoop up whatever’s left — including broken chips, bits of salsa, and water rings — and toss it out.

2. Put Everything in Easy Reach

Every second counts during the Super Bowl, both during the game and during the commercials, and no one wants to miss any of the action while heading to the kitchen to grab another drink or handful of chips.

Let your guests stay glued to the TV by keeping the food within easy reach on a large table in front of the couch. (The disposable table covers will definitely come in handy here.)

bite-sized pizza, fries, and dipping sauce 3. Go Bite-Size with the Snacks

Keep the mess to a minimum and select the best snacks that are bite-sized. You can stick toothpicks into your appetizers, too, to add an element of style to your snack selections.

Check out these recipes for bite-size snacks on the Food Network or these appetizer recipes from Better Homes and Gardens for great bite-sized snack ideas.

4. Prepare Your Stain Removers

It’s always helpful to prepare for spills, and having carpet cleaner on hand can help you prevent stains from forming on your carpet or on your sofa.

A little bit of dishwashing detergent can go a long way to clean up soft drinks, wine, and beer. Visit Good Housekeeping for easy cleaning solutions for just about any kind of stain, including beverages.

5. Stick with Disposable Plates

Avoid any mishaps and broken dishes by buying disposable plates, bowls, cups, and silverware before game day, and have your guests personalize their glasses with a permanent marker to prevent any misplacing. Then, instead of having to wash dishes, you can toss everything into the trash bag and stick it in the garbage.

Preparing to Sell Your Home? We Have Your Covered!

clean and decluttered living room ready for a home saleThe home selling preparations don’t stop even during the Super Bowl. We hope these mess-free party preparations can help you stay on track and avoid having to clean massive messes, and we can recommend other helpful tips for cleaning and decluttering your home that can save you time and money.

We’re available to talk if you need any advice, resources, or real estate information, and we can help you sell your home for top dollar and in a short time. Just give us a call today and let’s talk about your goals.

5 Home Selling Tips for Homeowners Who are Not Selling (Yet)

Selling your home may be an idea you are seriously considering, but that does not mean you are ready to put your home on the market just yet. You may be waiting to pay off your mortgage, you may be waiting for the kids to move out, or you may not be ready yet to part with all the memories you have made in this home.

But that does not mean you don’t have to start preparing to sell.

What to Consider Before Listing Your Home

personal belongings cluttered in a home's attic, a DO NOT home selling tipMany home sellers feel overwhelmed when they are preparing to sell their home for a number of reasons: There is the daunting task of decluttering, the sometimes unexpected repairs that have to be made, and the seemingly endless list of squeaky doors and minor fixes that buyers would notice almost immediately.

And all of this happens in a short time. (Read this Popular Mechanics article about what surprises this first-time home seller experienced to get an idea of what can happen.)

Prepare Now, Feel Less Stressed Later

You are in the perfect position right now to do what many home sellers do not have the chance to — slowly start to get your home in order. Here are ten home selling tips you can try now so you won’t feel overwhelmed when you are selling your home later.

1. Start with the Necessary Repairs

Free yourself from future stress by making any major repairs now, whether that is repairing the HVAC or replacing the hot water heater.

paint roll and paint brushes2. Go for Neutral Colors

If you want to give your walls a fresh coat of paint, opt for more neutral colors. During home showings, neutral colors and décor make it easier for home buyers to picture themselves living in your home, which is your ultimate goal.

3. Start Decluttering Now

Home sellers often find that decluttering is one of the more frustrating and overwhelming tasks, but if you start cleaning the clutter now, you will thank yourself later. A good rule of thumb: If you don’t love something and use it, lose it.

4. Deep Clean Your Home Periodically

small vacuum cleaner on dark floors in a homeSometimes it feels like the little things pile up quickly, don’t they? Try to stay ahead of minor maintenance and cleaning tasks by:

  • cleaning fixtures and light switch covers
  • fixing broken doorbells
  • repairing squeaky doors
  • dusting high and low
  • cleaning floors and windows

Check out our previous blog post for more ways to clean, organize, and declutter your home.

5. Refresh Your Front Entrance

During the home selling process, making a fantastic first impression is the key to getting buyers in the door. Refresh your home’s curb appeal by purchasing a new welcome mat, painting the front door, and polishing or replacing the doorknob.

List Your Home with Us for a Smooth Experience

We hope you found these home selling tips helpful. We know that selling a home can be overwhelming, especially if the unexpected happens. But we want to make sure that you have as painless of a sale as possible, so we will do everything we can to help you sell your home for top dollar and in a short time. So when you do decide to list your home, just give us a call.

Home Organization Tips for the New Year

dining area with four chairs and a tableHappy New Year!

Now that 2016 is here and the busyness of the holidays is over, many people are setting New Year’s resolutions — whether personal, professional, or real estate-related. It is the perfect time to set goals and welcome the new year with a fresh start. And what better way to start the new year fresh than by cleaning and organizing your home?

10 Ways to Get Rid of Last Year’s Clutter

“Out with the old, in with the new” as the saying goes. To help you start fresh with a clean and organized home, here are ten tips for kicking out the clutter and keeping it out in the new year.

1. Tackle Holiday Messes First

The busyness of the holidays often brings messes — shredded wrapping paper, loose Christmas tree needles, half-eaten leftovers in the fridge. Cleaning up from the holidays is a great place to start, and HGTV offers a great article about how to clean your home in 45 minutes.

small vacuum cleaner on dark floors in a home2. Vacuum the Floors

Now that the holidays are over and the constant flow of guests has diminished, give your floors a little TLC with a thorough vacuuming. Even this simple cleaning task can make a world of difference in the look and feel of your home.

3. Open the Windows

Freshen up your living spaces by letting in the natural light. Opening the windows helps make your home seem more inviting to both you and your visitors.

4. Refresh and Rearrange

Tired of the layout in your living room or bedrooms? Mix it up for the new year to add flow and a fresh look to your home.

5. Dust in High and Low Places

Give your rooms a thorough dusting to get rid of last year’s grime, starting with the lowest shelf on the bookcase and moving up to the ceiling fans and the hardly seen areas behind your shelves.

6. Replace Light Bulbs and Fix Squeaky Doors

Have a minor fix that you haven’t gotten around to correcting yet? Maybe it’s the burnt-out lightbulb in your bathroom or squeaky door to your closet. Make those tiny repairs now and your home will start to feel new again.

7. Organize and Declutter

We all have that one space we use as a catch-all for our miscellaneous clutter, whether it’s a closet, a chair, or a table. This year, keep the clutter at bay by getting rid of unused items, removing the clutter catch-all, or organizing everything in labeled bins.

8. Donate or Discard Old Clothes

What better way to say “out with the old” than to get rid of any shirts, jackets, pants, or shoes that you no longer wear? Now you’ll have more space in your closets and more room for new clothes.

bathroom clean of grime and clutter9. Deep Clean Your Bathroom

A clean shower door and bathroom wall can do wonders to enhance the overall appearance of your bathroom. DIY Network has several easy cleaning tricks for bathroom sinks, shower heads, and toilets that you can use to get rid of the built-up soap scum and grime.

10. Put Out a New Welcome Mat

What better way to welcome the new year and your guests than with a new, clean welcome mat? You’ll impress your visitors from the moment they walk in, and that curb appeal can do wonders for how even your neighbors perceive your home.

Decluttering Works Well During Home Staging, Too

These home organization tips can work wonders when you sell your home, since the foundation of home staging includes decluttering and cleaning to give buyers the best first impression. If you are selling your home in the new year, we can recommend other home staging tips and resources to help you sell your home quickly and for top dollar.

We hope you had a wonderful New Year’s and are looking forward to what 2016 has in store. Let us know if there is any way we can help make the home selling process easier on you in the new year.

More Big News! Welcome Theresa Koshollek and Tracey Anderson, two of Prescott’s top real estate agents

 

         A Big BloomTree Welcome to 

Theresa and Tracey!

theresa koshalek

Tracey Head Shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

BloomTree Realty is pleased to announce that Theresa Koshollek and Tracey Anderson, two of Prescott’s top real estate agents,  have now joined the BloomTree Realty crew! Theresa and Tracy, previously with Realty Executives Northern Arizona, will fit nicely in the BloomTree family. They are both dedicated to raising the bar in the real estate industry through education, service, and a friendly approach.

In any business, being committed to continuous improvement and education is crucial to rise above the competition. The real estate business is no exception. Theresa has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, and she has demonstrated her commitment to ongoing education by completing some of the most respected certifications, in the real estate industry. She has earned her CRS designation and is now a Certified Real Estate Specialist. The CRS requires a minimum of 25 transactions or 8 million dollars in sales, and it is the highest credential awarded to residential sales agents, managers, and brokers. Theresa has also earned her GRI certification from the Realtor Institute.

Theresa is confident that BloomTree’s additional training and cooperative, shared knowledge approach will  benefit both her and her partner, Tracey Anderson. Although Tracy is newer to the business than Theresa, she has successfully taken off with her real estate career.  It will be exciting to see how far they both can grow!

In addition to the benefits of furthering their education, another big reason for Theresa and Tracey’s career move is that they both feel that using the most current technology is crucial for agents, in today’s market. BloomTree Realty is the local leader in technology.  From the new interactive window display in the downtown Prescott office, which provides exceptional exposure for listings, to the agent tech package that BloomTree offers, BloomTree Realty has  worked diligently to provide its agents with the “best of the best”. Beginning in early 2016, BloomTree will be taking technology to the next level.  Stay tuned!

BloomTree is pleased to have Theresa and Tracey on board, and the brokerage is looking forward to a great 2016!

“BloomTree offers so much with tech and training, plus the agents are willing to help and share.  I’m really excited to be a part of it!”   -Theresa Koshollek

Jinger Cutting Makes A BIG Move to BloomTree Realty

Jinger Cutting - BloomTree Realty Associate Broker
Jinger Cutting – BloomTree Realty
Associate Broker

Jinger Cutting has a passion for Real Estate and it is perfect for the culture here at BloomTree Realty. She is focused on going above and beyond for each and every one of her clients and truly has become a Real Estate expert. With over 35 years in this industry, she is highly knowledgeable about the local housing market and area. By joining the BloomTree community, she will be able to Continue reading “Jinger Cutting Makes A BIG Move to BloomTree Realty”

2015 Year in Review: The Economy and National Real Estate Market

This time of year, many people like to take a moment and reflect on the year that has passed, whether it’s reflecting on good memories or how the nation is doing financially. Today, we would like to take a moment to reflect on the economy and what this year’s trends meant for real estate.

A Brief Look Back on the US Economy

The economy has done well in 2015 — personal income is increasing, new construction homes are on the rise, and the job market is strong. And looking to the new year, now is the best time to buy a home. Here are three main real estate-related takeaways from the United States’ past economic performance in 2015.

1. Unemployment is Decreasing

laptop at an office workplaceThe job market in the United States is doing much better than in previous years following the Great Recession.

Unemployment this time last year was at 5.6%; the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states unemployment is at 5.0%. With more jobs and disposable income, home buyers have been able to spend more on their dream home than in past years.

2. Interest Rates May Increase

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise the interest rate tomorrow, December 16th, for the first time in nearly a decade. This is a good sign — the economy is doing well and the job market is strong.

For home buyers, however, these forecasted interest rate increases mean it will soon cost more to finance your home, and that now is the best time to buy the home of your dreams.

3. The Cost of Renting is Increasing

modern rental propertiesThe rental market has been surging, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, reaching a 20-year high this past year.

New apartment complexes have been built all over the nation to provide more housing, and due to this high demand for rental properties and lower vacancy rates, rent costs have increased.

For former renters looking for a place to call their own, now is a great time to purchase a home.

Now is the Best Time to Buy a Home

With forecasted interest rate increases, current rent cost increases, and a growing economy in 2015, now is the best time to buy a home. As local real estate experts, we can help you find the home of your dreams and direct you to the best home buying resources, including a mortgage calculator, that can help you purchase the home of your dreams with confidence.

Connect with us and let’s talk about your home buying goals for the new year.

3 Benefits of Selling Your Home During the Holidays

evergreen wreath with christmas decorations on a doorAs the holidays are approaching, many people are busy decorating their homes, lighting the tree, and marking their calendars to visit friends and family.

With all the busyness of the season, you might be wondering if now you should even attempt to sell your home. Any potential home buyers are also busy attending get-togethers or traveling out of town, right?

After all, that is how it has been in the past.

Yes, You Can Sell Your Home During the Holidays

The reality is that home buyers today are always looking at properties, including during the holidays.

Smartphones and other mobile devices have made it easier and quicker to search for homes on the go, and home buyers can search anywhere — including at a holiday party. So in light of this modern development, here are three main benefits of selling your home during the holidays.

3. You Have Less Competition

Many home sellers believe that the holidays are not the best time to sell, so they would rather wait until spring when the weather is nicer for home viewings.

This means that there is less competition for sellers who do list their home, so you don’t have to compete with other sellers for a buyer’s attention.

Buyers also have fewer properties to choose from, so you’re less likely to receive multiple offers on your home. For buyers who do find their dream home — your home — they may end up purchasing your property at or above market value.

2. Buyers are Serious

Unlike springtime, when many home sellers decide to put their property on the market, the weather is not as pleasant during the winter holiday season.

That means that potential buyers who are not serious about buying a home will opt for the comforts of their own home over viewing properties in cooler weather. They may also opt to attend a holiday party rather than view a home for sale.

Home buyers who are actively searching and viewing properties are generally more motivated, and may even want to buy their new home before Christmas or the new year rolls around. If a buyer for your home wants to get moving quickly, this can often translate into a quicker home sale.

christmas wreath in a frame on a red wall1. You Can Really Appeal to a Buyers’ Emotions

One of the most important tips about staging your home is that you need to appeal to the buyer’s emotions, and what better time to do that than during the holidays?

Selling your home means that you can leave the heat on, have cookies baking in the oven, and leave your holiday decorations up.

The holidays bring joy and warm feelings, and this seasonal atmosphere is perfect for setting the stage for your property with minimal work on your part.

We Can Help You Sell Your Home

Bottom line, selling your home during the holidays gives you the perfect opportunity to sell your home quickly and for more money. And we can help you make sure that your home sale goes smoothly, even during your busy holiday season.

From offering you a free home evaluation to advising you on further home staging tips, we have all the resources you need to make sure you home sells for more money in less time. Contact us and we can talk about a strategy to sell your property during the holidays.

Can You Purchase a Home Even With Student Loans?

student on laptopAs more millennials are preparing to buy a home, one issue is making it difficult for many — student loans.

The Project on Student Debt calculated that just about 7 in 10 college graduates in the Class of 2014 had student loan debt, and on average each student had about $29,000 in loans.

With mortgages often amounting to well over a hundred thousand dollars, many first-time home buyers may be asking whether they can even qualify for financing with their student debt.

So, is it possible to buy a home even with thousands of dollars in student loans? It depends.

What’s Your Debt-to-Income Ratio?

It all comes down to your debt-to-income ratio, or what percentage of your gross monthly income goes toward your total monthly mortgage payments.

Lenders recommend a debt-to-income ratio no greater than 36%, with no more than 28% of your monthly income going toward paying off your mortgage. As an example, someone who earns $50,000 in a year and has $1,500 in monthly debt payments would be right at the 36% recommendation.

calculator and finance sheetSo even if you are saddled with thousands of dollars in student loans, it is possible to obtain financing for a home if your debt-to-income ratio is right around that recommended ratio.

You Also Need to Consider Credit History

When home buyers apply for a mortgage, lenders look at whether they pay their bills on time and their employment history, for instance. If you have good credit history, that may further help you qualify for a mortgage.

You can always talk to a reputable lender about whether you can qualify for a mortgage with your student loan debt. Talk with us and we can help you get started with the mortgage pre-qualification process.

We Can Talk About Your Home Buying Plans

If you’re thinking of buying a home in the area, we can also recommend a reputable local mortgage lender so you can discuss the right mortgage for you, including interest rates and down payments. We even offer a free mortgage calculator on our website that can help you calculate monthly mortgage payments.

Contact us today and we can get started!

How to Prepare Your Home for the Holidays

dinner table with thanskgiving mealIt’s already November, but major retailers have already stocked their displays with twinkling lights and shiny ornaments, so you know what that means: The holidays are here.

Easy Holiday Home Decorating Tips

Whether you plan to host holiday get-togethers with friends, family, and neighbors or plan to visit your loved ones this year, you can prepare your home with today’s best styles to get into the holiday spirit.

Here are three ways that you can decorate your home for the holidays.

Use Seasonal Centerpieces

Nothing says “festive” quite like seasonal decorations around the table. Prepare for Thanksgiving Day meals by setting out cornucopias, small pumpkins, and autumn leaves, and exchange them for holly wreaths or tiny Christmas trees close to December.

Try Scent-Sational Decorations

Cinnamon, vanilla, gingerbread — these are the warm aromas that define the holiday season. So light a few candles in the kitchen or bake some cookies to fill your home with seasonal fragrances.

snowflake ornament with blue glitterFill Your Windows with Winter Joy

Let the sun cast its rays on your holiday decorations.

You can hang decorative snowflakes from your windows and watch your room light up with the sparkles, or choose stylish window decals to give your home the look and feel of a winter wonderland.

Let Us Be Your Real Estate Resource This Season

Are you searching for a new home during the holidays? You don’t have to find it alone. We have a variety of free, helpful home buying resources that can help you discover the perfect place to call home in the coming months.

Contact us today to learn more about the area, find homes for sale, or to schedule a showing of your dream home. We are always happy to help.