Tax Refund Strategies for Homeowners

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tax refundWhat to Do With a Tax Refund: 3 Ideas That’ll Practically Double Your Money If You’re a Homeowner

If this year is anything like the last, almost 7.2 million Americans will get a tax refund this spring averaging around $3,000. If you’re a homeowner getting this tax refund, you’re fortunate because you’ve got more creative ways to invest it for a profit. Doesn’t matter if you’re selling, staying put, or stuck in the middle. Here are three homeowner-only options to grow that refund:

1. If You’re Early Into Your Mortgage

It may not be as instantly gratifying as a treehouse vacation in Costa Rica, but spending your tax refund to pay down your mortgage principal could save you enough funds to take a splurge-loaded vacation a bit later.

Let’s assume you have a 30-year-loan at the average loan amount of $292,000, a 4.5% interest rate, and you’re getting that average refund of about $3,000. If you apply that “found” money to your principal each year, CPA Micah Fraim of Roanoke, Va., says you can shave years off your mortgage — in this case, nearly four. That’s about 95 mortgage payments you won’t need to make! Even better is the more than $70,000 that you’ll save in interest payments over the life of the loan.

If you don’t want to make an annual commitment, think about this: Make that payment just once and you’ll cut seven months off your payments and save more than $8,000 in interest. And when you decide to sell, you’ll have more equity.

2. If You’re Planning to Sell

Invest it in staging, and you may be surprised by how quickly your home gets plucked from the market.

“Staging lets prospective buyers see the space as their own, instead of as belonging to the people who currently live there,” said Ashley Lewkowicz, owner of Ashley Kay Design in Bucks County, Pa.

“A home that’s not staged can sit on the market for six months or more,” she added. “A home I recently staged sold in less than two.”

Not only is a faster sale better for your bank account in terms of saved mortgage payments and utility bills, but a drawn-out listing can cause a home’s price to wilt. That makes those throw pillows, decorative bath salts, and rented furniture way worth the investment.

For a large, suburban home in a major metro area, staging can cost about $2,000 upfront, and then about $500 per month for furniture and accessory rentals, according to Lewkowicz. But a faster sale at a higher price can definitely more than double your money over the course of the sales process.

And most staging can be accomplished with simple little touches.

3. If You’re a Home Improvement DIYer

Who knew your home could be your own personal ATM? For many DIYers, putting that $3,000 tax return into small home improvements can result in getting far more than their investment out of the house later.

  • A new steel front door costs about $250, but can add about $1,500 when you sell.
  • New wood flooring costs about $1,770, but is worth $5,000 when you sell.
  • Even new insulation, which costs about $700, can recoup about $2,000 at sale.

If you’re willing to scope materials yourself and put in a little elbow grease, your tax return can fund a renovation for you to enjoy now and reap the financial benefits later.

By: Alaina Tweddale

 

 

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Binding Insurance in Hurricane Season – Atlantic RE Brokerage

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binding insurance in hurricane seasonBINDING INSURANCE IN HURRICANE SEASON

 

Home Buyers must put a high priority on binding insurance as soon as they go under contract on their new home.   During hurricane season, binding homeowner insurance needs to be put on the top of the to do list.

When purchasing a home with a loan, homeowners insurance (and possibly flood insurance) will be required by the lender for buyers to be able close on their new home.  No Insurance — No Closing.

When a named storm is approaching, insurance companies suspend writing new insurance  policies.  There are no laws as to those timeframes.  If a named storm comes close to Florida and a buyer has not secured their homeowners insurance, they can not close on their new home.  This is why we are including this task as one of the first three for home buyers to complete after going under contract.

Purchase Insurance Early

The first three things to do after going under contract are

  1.  Make formal loan application
  2.  Schedule inspection(s)
  3.  Speak with homeowner insruance provider(s) to get quotes

Connect the lender and the insruance agent right away

The lender will require insurance.  Once the required policy(s) are identified, shop insurance quotes.  Feel free obtain multiple quotes.  Once an insurance agent is selected, be sure to connect the  agent with the loan officer right away.    The most important thing is that all insurance requirements are met for the purposes of the loan.

About Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage – Satellite Beach, FL

Laura D Hazlett has been a Florida Broker for over 8 years and in the Real Estate Management Industry for over 20 years. She is a proud mother of a college graduate (USF), is a graduate of University of Miami, and a successful business owner.  Laura’s no-nonsense approach to real estate makes transactions easy, because of her direct style of communication and her team of successful partners. Her husband, Mark, serves as the CFO and provides great insight for investors and commercial real estate enthusiasts.  You get a great team when you work with Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage.

Laura has assembled a great team of Agents. Selected with professionalism and a concierge approach to clients and vendors, Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage Agents are the best in their field.  They are selective with their client base which proves to be an effective way to serve all clients with world-class service.

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Spring Cleaning Mistakes – Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage

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spring cleaning

spring cleaning

If your first instinct is to open the windows and bring in the fresh air … Don’t do it.  The biggest spring cleaning mistake is just that, opening your windows and letting in the fresh air…  and the dreaded allergens that are rampant this time of year.

If you’re an allergy sufferer (and who isn’t?), that’s the last thing you want to do, says Dr. Neeta Ogden, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “It will allow pollen to settle in your home.”  If you really can’t skip that spring breeze, avoid opening them in the morning, pollen counts are highest in the morning; they decrease late in the day and at night.

 

And that’s not the only common spring-cleaning mistake homeowners make. Here are eight more to avoid:

1. Not Looking Up

You’ve worked up a sweat and everything’s starting to sparkle, but then you realize your ceiling fan is coated in dust. Uh, oh. Once you start wiping the fan, dust will scatter on what you’ve already cleaned. That’s why you should always look up to see what needs dusting before you start cleaning at eye level. Tackle hard-to-reach places like the tops of bookshelves, crown molding, and window ledges.

2. Starting to Clean Without a Plan

You wake up motivated — today you’re going to get all your spring cleaning done! But by noon, your house is in disarray, and not one single room is finished. Ugh. That’s why Briana Norde, owner of Caliber Cleaning Inc. says it pays to break up the biggest cleaning project of the year into smaller, more manageable tasks.

She recommends conquering your hardest job first, like the kitchen, which she calls the “most time-consuming room.” With that first accomplishment under your belt, you’ll have the momentum to take on the remaining tasks. The key is to give yourself plenty of breaks. And there’s nothing wrong with spreading it out over several days.

3. Ignoring That Weird-Looking Vacuum Attachment

Don’t let your carpet hog the vacuum. The crevice tool, Norde says, “is not used nearly enough.” Use it between your wall and refrigerator to get out the accumulated dust that’s otherwise unreachable, and run it around the edge of your baseboards to clean where standard upright vacuums can’t reach.

4. Skipping the Mattress

Think of how much time you spend in your bed. Yet, you probably clean the top of your fridge more often than your mattress. Your mattress harbors millions of dust mites, which cause various respiratory conditions including sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, and skin rashes (not to mention just being plain gross).

“[Dust mites’] food is human skin scales, so the bed is just heaven for them,” says Ogden.

She recommends using a vapor steam cleaner to root out the itchy devils, then wrapping it in an anti-allergen mattress protector.

At the very least, sprinkle your mattress with baking soda and let it sit for awhile. Then (using the attachment mentioned above) vacuum it up.

5. Relying on Harsh Cleaners

There’s a reason many commercial cleaners have the words “danger,” “hazard,” or “caution,” on their labels. Something in the ingredients is toxic in one form or another, and most all could aggravate allergies and asthma. So, “don’t go crazy with cleaners you don’t need,” says Ogden. Moldy bathrooms may scream for bleach, but most surfaces do not. Ogden recommends making your own solution of water and vinegar (use a fifty-fifty ratio), which will keep most surfaces clean and germ-free.

6. Using Chemical Air Fresheners

You want your home to smell fresh, so it’s tempting to reach for that mountain-rain-spring-fresh-scent in a can. But aerosol air fresheners contain high levels of toxic pollutants like phthalates, which can affect hormone levels, cause reproductive abnormalities, and increase allergies and asthma. Yikes. Try homemade (and less-expensive) alternatives, such as potpourri, or essential oils and water in a spray bottle.

7. Leaving the Clutter

All of the spring cleaning tips and advice are useless if you don’t declutter first.

“We tend to not clean well around clutter,” says Ogden. “You’re not going to reach the dust there.”

Make sure toys are put away, books are back on the bookshelf, and paperwork is filed before you begin the cleaning process. Otherwise, you’re leaving room for dust and pollen to hide — making spring cleaning all for naught.

8. Treating It Like a Chore

If you dread spring cleaning, this should make you feel better: a Harvard study found those who treated cleaning as beneficial exercise saw a decrease in weight, body mass index, blood pressure, and more. That’s what we call a trifecta: living in a clean home, breathing allergy-free air, and feeling great!

Jamie Wiebe is a writer and editor with a focus on home improvement and design. Previously, she worked as a web editor for “House Beautiful,” “ELLE Decor,” and “Veranda.”

 

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5 Problems Uncovered in Home Inspections | Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage

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black bird5 Problems Uncovered in Home Inspections

Daily Real Estate News | Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Even a house that seems perfect may not be so when it comes to a home inspection, which is meant to discover potential problems with the home’s systems, appliances, and structure.

“Depending on the age, location, and type of house, the potential for problems will vary,” according to an article by the Ferris Property Group. “It’s also important to note that all houses — even brand new ones — will have issues show up on the inspection. Certain issues may be a deal breaker, like a collapsing foundation, but many other issues can and should be repaired after negotiation with the seller.”

Here are some of the most common problems inspectors say they uncover:

  • Defective plumbing: Leaky faucets or problems with the efficiency of pipes can greatly affect the cost of a home’s utilities.
  • Water damage: This can be caused by any number of issues, such as erosion of external grading material that has caused a slow leak into a basement. Water leaks also can lead to damage in a foundation or mold growth.
  • Faulty roofing materials: Variable temperatures can cause cracks in some roofing materials, while other materials may be prone to rots or leaks.
  • Cracked foundation: Foundation problems can surface from any number of issues, such as water damage, termites, rotting, or structural inadequacy.
  • Over-worked electricity system: This also can represent a big safety issue. Inspectors say when they find an overcrowded wiring system it’s typically due to previous owners making adjustments to the electrical wiring.

Source: 5 Problems Uncovered in Home Inspections | Realtor Magazine

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Sellers, Get rid of Smells – Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage

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Sellers: You Can’t Detect These 4 Stinky Smells, But Your Buyers Sure Can. Here’s How to Sweeten Your Home

By: Stacey Freed

otis

Home sellers, you can’t smell your home’s odors because you’re noseblind. Here are the smelly culprits and how to eliminate them.

Stand in your kitchen and take a deep breath. Smell that? From last night’s fish to your son’s nasty lacrosse pads (why did he leave them on the table?), you probably can’t detect any of your home’s rankest odors. You’ve got nose blindness.

“You adapt to the smells around you,” says Dr. Richard Doty, the director of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania. On a sensory level, your processing mechanism becomes less sensitive to the continuous stimuli. Or, on a cognitive level, you can become habituated to the smells and basically learn to ignore them. Or you can do both.

But on a I-don’t-want-my-house-to-stink level, you don’t have to be resigned to living with odors — even if you can’t smell them yourself. Here are some of the most common nose blindness culprits, and how to ban them from your home.

1. Love Your Pet. Destroy Their Smells.

There’s one easy way to tell if your home smells like pets: Do you have them? Then yeah, unless you’re an obsessive cleaner and groomer, your abode has at least some Fido funk. It could be pee, but more likely it’s just hair, gunky ears, and weeks-old slobber.

The first step to cleaning up pet smells is — sorry, pets — cleaning the pets themselves. Bathe and groom them regularly.

Then, vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. If they have a favorite couch or cushion, cover it with a blanket and run it — and the cushion cover — through the wash weekly. Every time you vacuum, start with a hearty sprinkle of baking soda on the carpet. And use that crevice tool liberally; pet hair loves tight spaces like the border between the carpet and the wall, the edges of your steps and that little crack of space between the stove and your cabinets.

Hopefully urine isn’t the issue, but to be sure, you can use a black light to out any dried stains your pet was hoping you’d never notice. Use more of that baking soda followed by a half-water, half-vinegar solution to neutralize the odor. Lots of people also swear by store-bought neutralizers, like Nature’s Miracle.

2. Battle Basement Mustiness . . . With Onion?

Fortunately, nose blindness only affects one of your senses, and you don’t need your nose to verify a basement with a musty smell. Mustiness is caused by mildew and mold, which — for better or for worse — your eyeballs can easily detect. Do a careful inspection of your basement, from the darkest corner to the surface of every cardboard box or bookshelf. If you find gray or white splotches anywhere, it’s probably mildew. If it’s fuzzy, (oh no!) it’s mold.

First, you’ll want to bust up those existing odors. Then, you’ll want to make sure they never return. A solution of one-part bleach to four-parts water and some elbow grease will help you scrub away mildew. Although bleach can be used to clean mold too, it usually isn’t necessary. A regular household cleaner can do the trick.

To prevent mildew and mold from returning, consider running a dehumidifier or improving air circulation and sunlight exposure in the affected area if possible. For chronic mustiness, you can deodorize rooms by setting out bowls of vinegar, cat litter, baking soda, or — as crazy as this sounds — an onion also will do the trick. Cut one in half and let it sit in a bowl in the room. The onion smell goes away in a few hours, and so will the dankness.

3. Mind Mattress Smells

Similar to pet odors, knowing if your mattress could smell is easy: Do you have a human body with skin and oils? Do you sleep on it? Eventually, all the dead skin and body oils you shed while sleeping are going to build up, and stink they will, especially if your bedding is older.

You can’t exactly toss your mattress in the washing machine, so you’ll have to deal with it where it lies. But it’s an easy fix: Sprinkle baking soda on it, let it sit for an hour or more, and then vacuum up the soda. (This works for memory foam, too.) Add a couple drops of essential oil to the soda (drip directly into the box and shake it well to mix evenly) for a pleasant smell. Bonus: Lavender has been shown to help you sleep.

4. Fade Fridge and Freezer Funk

It’s your fridge and freezer’s job to keep your food fresh, but they need a little help staying fresh themselves. Itty bitty food bits hang out long after you’ve tossed the item from which they came. Although you might not notice the odor creep, you may notice your ice starting to taste funny or see those food morsels start to accumulate in the corners of your fridge shelves. If you see or taste something icky, you can bet others can smell something icky.

To zap odors from from your freezer and fridge, unplug and empty them and do a thorough cleaning with a mix of hot water and baking soda. You can sanitize with a solution of one tablespoon bleach and one gallon of water. Let it air out for 15 minutes. Try wiping it down with vinegar for extra odor eliminating, or even leave the door open for a few days. What better excuse is there for a long weekend away, or to treat yourself to takeout?

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When you are ready to sell, call Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage.  We can help !!

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You need a Buyer’s Agent – Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage

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home-1183150_1920You need a Buyer’s Agent if you want to purchase a home.

Great homes are selling in days, even hours!    Without an expereienced Buyer’s Agent working for you, your chances are slim that you will get your dream home under contract.  You can drive around and call the names on the signs or you can HIRE A BUYER’S AGENT.

A Buyer’s Agent is a REALTOR that represents the Buyer.  When you see a property with a sign and a name on it, that REALTOR represents the Seller.  When you are thinking about purchasing a home, hire a REALTOR to represent YOU.  There is NO COST to you to hire a REALTOR to represent you in a home purchase.

Many people ask the question, ” If there is NO COST to me, the Buyer, then how does the REALTOR get compensated?”   A Buyer’s Agent is compensated only when you close on a home.   Generally speaking, the Seller agrees to pay a REALTOR commission at closing and it is built into the Seller’s Closing costs.   At closing, the REALTOR commission is shared between the agents.

Hiring a Buyer’s Agent is important and finding the right REALTOR can make the process much less stressful for you. A Buyer’s agent will be with you every step of the way.  The entire buying process generally begins with a consultation about your financing, what your needs are, and the features that you would like to have in your new home.  From there, your Buyer’s Agent will help you find the perfect property and then negotiate the price on your behalf.

Once the contract is executed the fun begins with a page full of deadlines for deposits, loan applications, inspections, surveys, approvals, etc. This is a time when you can really see the benefits of your REALTOR.

The moral of the story, when thinking of buying, find the best Buyer’s Agent you can and get ready for the ride of your life.

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How much will my property taxes be? – Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage

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Seems like an easy question from a Buyer, right?  How much will my property taxes be?

calculator-428294_1920How much you pay in property taxes has NOTHING to do with the taxes that the previous owner paid. 

Wait, What? 

When calculating property taxes, you will multiply your local millage rate by your taxable value.   To get the millage rate for your area, click here: Millage Rates By Millage Area

As an investor, there is your answer.

HOWEVER In Florida, there are tax “discounts” given to primary residents in the form of the Assessment Limits (Save Our Homes) and Homestead Property Tax Exemption(s).

As a homestead resident, many factors come into play when calculating the taxable value including: Just Value, Accumulated SOH assessment limits and Property Tax Exemptions (homestead, disability, widow, etc).

To see a list of the current Property Tax Exemptions, click here:  Property Tax Exemptions

To understand the Save Our Homes Assessment Limits takes more then just a quick answer.  This chart is my personal favorite explanation of how the Assessment Limit works in Florida:  save our homes explanation

If you purchase a home for $100,000 that would be your just value.  As a primary resident, you would calculate as follows:

Just Value – Assessment Limits (SOH)     = Assessed Value

Assessed Value – Exemptions                  = Taxable Value

Taxable Value x Millage Rate                   = Total Tax Liability

The Brevard County Tax Collector’s office is a fantastic resource for help on calculating your property tax bill.

About Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage – Satellite Beach, FL

Laura D Hazlett has been a Florida Broker for over 7 years and in the Real Estate Management Industry for over 20 years. She is a proud mother of a college graduate (USF), is a graduate of University of Miami, and a successful business owner.  Laura’s no-nonsense approach to real estate makes transactions easy, because of her direct style of communication and her team of successful partners. Her husband, Mark, serves as the CFO and provides great insight for investors and commercial real estate enthusiasts.  You get a great team when you work with Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage.

Laura has assembled a great team of Agents. Selected with professionalism and a concierge approach to clients and vendors, Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage Agents are the best in their field.  They are selective with their client base which proves to be an effective way to serve all clients with world-class service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Condos of Indian Harbour Beach – Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage

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Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage just closed another home – Condos of Indian Harbour Beach – Beachside !!!

Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage just sold another unit in The Condos of Indian Harbour Beach, which is located in beautiful Indian Harbour Beach city limits.

This great property is walking distance to the beach, Starbucks, Lowe’s, and neighborhood restaurants.  The community is well-kept and offers a common pool and recreation room.

This community is situated between the Eau Gallie and Pineda Causeways for easy access to I95 and the mainland.  1 hour to the Orlando Airport and 10 minutes to Melbourne Airport.  Check out our virtual tour.

This 2/1 condo with patio closed today for $75,000.  This is a first floor unit. The wonderful screen patio opens to the green grounds of the Condos of Indian Harbour.

Are you disappointed that this one sold?  Don’t despair, we have another unit, very similar, coming soon.  Give us a call for information on that unit.

If you are looking to purchase (or sell) in the Condos of Indian Harbor, please call us.  we can help !!

About Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage – Satellite Beach, FL

Laura D Hazlett has been a broker for over 7 years and in the Real Estate Management Industry for over 20 years. She is a proud mother of a college graduate, a graduate of University of Miami, and a successful business owner.  Laura’s no-nonsense approach to real estate makes transactions easy, because of her direct style of communication and her team of successful partners. Her husband, Mark, serves as the CFO and provides great insight for investors and commercial real estate enthusiasts.  You get a great team when you work with Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage.

Laura has assembled a great team of Agents. Selected with professionalism and a concierge approach to clients and vendors, Atlantic Real Estate Brokerage Agents are the best in their field.  They are selective with their client base which proves to be an effective way to serve all clients with world-class service.

 

 

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