Archives for February 2012

YOUR HOME NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 2012

TIPS AND TRENDS FOR HOMEOWNERS, BUYERS AND SELLERS

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH   The hardest part about moving may be selecting a neighborhood that best suits your lifestyle. Start by thinking about what is most important to you and your family. For example, do you prefer a quiet residential area or do you want to be near busy nightlife? According to Movers.com, buyers should consider several key factors when searching for the right neighborhood. 

Safety — For most households, safety is the most important factor, so check out crime rates of potential neighborhoods via local government websites and the U.S. Census Bureau website, www.census.govAmenities — Determine the location of doctors’ offices, hospitals, schools, banks and grocery stores. It may be helpful to walk around the neighborhood to become familiar with local businesses and their proximity to your potential home.  Education — If you have school-aged children, visit websites of individual school districts to see what services they offer, or contact members of the school board or principal for more information.  Commuting/Public Transit — How far are you willing to commute to work or school? A home close to friends and family might mean a longer commute to work. If you rely on public transportation, find out where bus stops and train stations are located in your desired neighborhood. Review bus and train schedules to determine if they meet your travel needs.  Property Values — Research current housing values in the area, local foreclosure data, and future development plans. These could affect home values in the future.  Cost of Living — Compare the cost of living of your desired neighborhood with your current location. Cost-of-living calculators, such as the one provided on Bankrate.com, can help determine if a neighborhood meets your financial needs.

THE DEBT  PAY-DOWN        If your New Year’s resolution was to reduce debt, several strategies can help accomplish that goal. But before implementing any strategy, understand the terms of various debt agreements, including any penalties for prepayment, and consult with a tax or accounting professional, say experts with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Make minimum payments. Credit card companies require borrowers to pay the minimum balance. Paying less than the minimum can result in penalties, increased interest rates and default.    Make additional mortgage payments. To pay down the principal amount faster and reduce total interest paid, consider making additional payments. By paying one-half of the regular monthly mortgage payment every two weeks, for example, you will make the equivalent of 13 monthly payments for the calendar year and reduce the total interest on the loan.   Pay off higher-interest-rate debts first. After making the required minimum payments for each debt, allocate any extra dollars to the debt with the highest interest rate. Or:  Pay off the lowest debt amount first. According to financial expert Dave Ramsey, paying down the lowest balances first, regardless of interest rate, gives borrowers a sense of accomplishment. As each small debt is paid off, it becomes easier to stay motivated to pay down larger debts.  Consolidate loans. It may be possible to pay off multiple high-interest debts by getting a debt consolidation loan, which is often offered at a lower interest rate.            Finally, avoid tapping into a 401K, emergency fund or equity line of credit to pay down debt. Once debts are paid off, put away credit cards, and pay cash for what you need most. With patience, vigilance and a sound action plan, cash-strapped borrowers can learn to live debt-free.

fast fact:    51 percent of U.S. adults over age 18
are married, compared to 72 percent
of adults who were married in 1960.     

Source: Pew Research Center, U.S. Census Bureau    

BROUGHT TO YOU BY BARBARA WATTS®, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS, CRS

 

VOTING FOR HOMEOWNERSHIP      American voters feel strongly about homeownership and would oppose most policies that would make it more difficult to own a home, according to a recent survey conducted on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders by Republican and Democratic polling firms of Public Opinion Strategies inAlexandria,Va., and Lake Research Partners inWashington,D.C.

Three-fourths of voters, both owners and renters, believe it is reasonable and appropriate for the federal government to provide tax incentives to promote homeownership. That sentiment cuts across party lines, with 84 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of Republications and 71 percent of Independents agreeing with this statement. Two-thirds of respondents believe the federal government should assist homebuyers so they can afford a long-term or 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Further, 73 percent of voters oppose eliminating the mortgage interest deduction, a sentiment shared across party lines — 77 percent Republicans, 71 percent Democrats and 71 percent Independents. More than two-thirds of voters (68 percent) say they would be less likely to vote for a congressional candidate who favored abolishing the deduction.

The survey also finds that a majority of voters oppose several other proposals affecting homeownership including: reducing the mortgage interest deduction; eliminating the deduction for interest paid for a second home; limiting the deduction for those earning more than $250,000 per year; reducing the deduction for homeowners with mortgages higher than $500,000; and eliminating the deduction for interest paid on home-equity loans.

Say Yes to CRS:  Buying a home is one of the biggest and most emotional decisions you will ever make. So it’s important to work with someone who can provide sound advice and a steady, guiding hand when you need it. That’s why a CRS agent is the best person for the job.  A Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) is among the top 4 percent of all agents in the country. CRS agents have achieved a high volume of transactions and advanced training in areas such as business planning, real estate investing, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics. Why work with anyone else when you can work with a CRS agent?

DID YOU KNOW?   To silence squeaky doors, apply a dab of olive oil to a cloth, then wipe the top of the hinges so the oil runs down the sides.     Source: Real Simple magazine

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK AND VISIT OUR BLOG TO ENTER THE TEAM WATTS MONTHLY GIVEAWAY! THE NEXT DRAWING WILL BE HELD IN MARCH!  STAY UP TO DATE WITH OUR SOCIAL NETWORKS TO FIND OUT HOW TO WIN!!

WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/TEAMWATTS     WWW.TEGACAYTODAY.COM

*If you would like to subscribe to receive this newsletter electronically please email Megan with your current email*

Barbara Watts, Realtor, Licensed in NC & SC, GRI, ABR, e-Pro, C-CREC, CRS, 803-370-0876, barbarawattsteam@gmail.com

Megan Watts, Realtor, Licensed in NC & SC, ABR, GRI, SFR, AHWD, 803-554-8725, meganwattsteam@gmail.com

 Dale Watts, Realtor, Licensed in NC & SC, SRES, 803-370-4049, TegaCayDale@gmail.com

 

 

Do you know someone who is thinking about buying or selling a home? Please mention my name.
This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for legal or financial advice.
If you are currently working with another real estate agent or broker, it is not a solicitation for business.

 

 

 

 

YOUR HOME 2012 JANUARY

TIPS AND TRENDS FOR HOMEOWNERS, BUYERS AND SELLERS

ROI MATTERS

If you’re looking to make some upgrades to your home this year, be sure to think about what makes sense for your lifestyle as well as what will offer the best return on investment. Start by checking out the results of Remodeling magazine’s latest Cost vs. Value report.

If you have an attic, you could be using it for much more than just storing holiday decorations and boxes of mementos. According to the report, converting part of the attic into an extra bedroom — which, on average, costs just over $50,000 — can recoup 72 percent of the cost when the home is sold.

On the other hand, the addition of a deluxe master suite (an average cost of $230,000) will only recoup just over half of the investment.

If you’ve been thinking about sprucing up your outdoor space, now might be the time to invest in a new backyard deck; at an average cost of just over $10,000, this investment will recoup nearly 70 percent, the report says. When considering deck materials, choose wood over composite — it will recoup nearly 10 percent more on your investment.

Making over your garage can also be a good idea — replacing a garage door, which costs less than $2,000, recoups just over 70 percent of the total cost. But if your home is up for sale without a garage, it’s best to leave it alone. The addition of a garage costs about $58,000 and only recoups about 57 percent during resale.

Some other minor projects that might be worth the investment include replacing windows with insulated vinyl or wood models (the cost, between $7,600 and just over $8,000, is recouped by almost 70 percent), and remodeling the bathroom (cost is about $16,000 and the cost recouped is about 62 percent).

The bottom line? When making renovations, think small for an optimal return on investment.

BRIGHT IDEA

Looking for a cost-effective way to increase security in your home and
save energy at the same time? You could put some of the
lamps in your house on a timer — or you could consider wireless lighting. According to Frontdoor.com, wireless lighting enables you to
replace switches in your home with receivers that respond to radio frequency signals from remote controls. It might sound complicated, but it’s fairly simple: Disconnect the manual switches and replace them with dimmers. Freestanding lamps that must be plugged into an outlet can be plugged into wireless receptors connected to the outlet. You can even program one remote to operate multiple lights throughout your house, no matter the size.

Aside from the ability to turn off a light downstairs when you’re already upstairs or turn on a light from anywhere in your home if you hear a suspicious noise, the main benefit of installing a wireless lighting system is reducing electricity and energy consumption. You can connect the system to a timer to set lights to turn on and off at specific times.

Wireless systems can range in price, from as little as $30 for a starter kit to hundreds of dollars to equip your entire home. Before installation, talk to a certified electrician to ensure the kit you purchase is the best for your home.

 fast fact:  The most popular U.S. winter travel destination, according to Travel + Leisure magazine, is Salt Lake City.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY BARBARA WATTS®, A MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF RESIDENTIAL SPECIALISTS, CRS

CLEAN SWEEP

Have you made a New Year’s resolution to downsize all the “stuff” you’ve accumulated in your home? You’re not alone. Get started with these tips from TLC and Real Simple magazine for tackling clutter in prominent spaces.

Closet Consider installing a second rod underneath the primary clothing rod to hang skirts, shorts, scarves and bags; you can double your storage and eliminate the need for shelving. Keep only in-season items in your closet; box the rest and store underneath the bed or in a storage closet. To keep your closets from getting cluttered in the first place, implement a new rule: For each new item that comes in, two items must be thrown out or donated.

Kitchen Keep objects close to where they are used. For example, keep the dishes near the dishwasher, and the spices at arm’s length of the stove. If the objects in question are easier to put away after use, the kitchen is more likely to stay clean. Clear counters of unused small appliances and cookbooks and store them in cabinets or shelves instead. Use the insides of cabinets and pantry doors to organize knickknacks, such as chip clips or bottle openers that can hang, or trim down an over-the-door shoe organizer to fit the inside of the cabinet to house these items.

Home Office Establish a filing system that you can easily — and immediately — use to keep bills and loose papers from getting out of hand. Keep labeled manila folders at the ready; assign folders for tax records, utility bills and medical expenses, for example. Consider investing in a scanner to digitize important documents and save them on a hard drive for easy (and paper-free) access. Create a “shelf life” rule for magazines; for example, purge weeklies after a month and monthlies every few months.
 
Say Yes to CRS:  Buying or selling a home can seem like an overwhelming task. But the right REALTOR® can make the process easier — and more profitable.  A Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with years of experience and success, will help you make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive market. To receive the CRS Designation, REALTORS® must demonstrate outstanding professional achievements — including high-volume sales — and pursue advanced training in areas such as finance, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics.  Work with a REALTOR® who belongs among the top 4 percent in the nation. Contact a CRS today.

DID YOU KNOW?  When deicing your steps this winter, consider magnesium chloride over calcium or sodium chloride. The latter can damage concrete and metal steps.

BE SURE TO LIKE US ON FACEBOOK AND VISIT OUR BLOG TO ENTER THE TEAM WATTS MONTHLY GIVEAWAY! THE FIRST DRAWING WILL BE HELD IN FEBRUARY!  STAY UP TO DATE WITH OUR SOCIAL NETWORKS TO FIND OUT HOW TO WIN A SPECIAL VALENTINE DINNER!!  WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/TEAMWATTS     WWW.TEGACAYTODAY.COM

 *If you would like to subscribe to receive this newsletter electronically please email Megan with your current email*

 Barbara Watts, Realtor, Licensed in NC & SC, GRI, ABR, e-Pro, C-CREC, CRS, 803-370-0876, barbarawattsteam@gmail.com 

Megan Watts, Realtor,Licensed in NC & SC, ABR, GRI, SFR, AHWD, 803-554-8725, meganwattsteam@gmail.com

Dale Watts, Realtor, Licensed in NC & SC, SRES, 803-370-4049, TegaCayDale@gmail.com

 

Do you know someone who is thinking about buying or selling a home? Please mention OUR name.
This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for legal or financial advice.
If you are currently working with another real estate agent or broker, it is not a solicitation for business.