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Posts from — September 2009

HOMEOWNERSHIP OFFERS SEVERAL TAX BENEFITS

Owning a home offers several tax benefits.  The following tax breaks for homeowners are intended to stimulate your thinking about tax strategies that can leave more money in your pocket to spend or invest.

NONBUSINESS ENERGY PROPERTY CREDIT You may be able to claim a non-business energy property credit of 30% of the cost of certain energy-efficient property or improvements you placed in service in 2009. This property can include high-efficiency heat pumps, air conditioners, and water heaters. It also may include energy-efficient windows, doors, insulation materials, and certain roofs. In many but not all cases, property that meets the government’s Energy Star guidelines qualifies for the credit.  

PROPERTY TAX DEDUCTION If you already own a home, but usually do not have enough deductions to itemize on your tax return, there is good news for you, too! Congress extended through 2009 a rule allowing non-itemizers to deduct up to $1,000 ($500 for single filers) in real estate property taxes in addition to the regular standard deduction amount. MORTAGE INTEREST AND POINTS An itemized deduction can be taken for interest on home mortgage indebtedness of up to $1,000,000 and home equity loan indebtedness up to $100,000.  Points paid on a new home purchase may be deducted in the year you pay them. Points paid on a refinanced mortgage do not qualify for a current deduction; they are deducted pro rata over the life of the loan.

HOME SALE TAX EXCLUSION Eligible taxpayers may exclude from income any gain from the sale of their main home up to $250,000 ($500,000 on a joint return in most cases). To claim the exclusion, you must meet the ownership and use tests. This means that during the 5-year period ending on the date of the sale, you must have owned the home for at least 2 years and have lived in the home as your main home for at least 2 years. The exclusion may only be used once every two years. In 2009, the tax treatment changes for vacation homes converted to personal residences. This general information shouldn’t be applied to your specific situation without additional details.  For more tax savings strategies please visit www.LAKECPA.com.

September 30, 2009   No Comments

RESOLVE TO GET YOUR SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE HOME DOCUMENTS ORGANIZED

As a homeowner, you begin to accumulate all sorts of records and papers the moment you made the offer on your home. Loan documents, inspection reports, title insurance policy, home improvement receipts, appliance warranties are just a few of documents that you may at one time or another need. Would you be readily able to locate these items? Are they filed away or in different junk drawers around the house? Knowing where these items are can save you a lot of time and even money in the long run.

Consider investing in a record-keeping system. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can purchase an accordion file and label each flap with a different category. Then use the following tips as a guide to get started.

Contracts and Legal Papers

Keep all the papers signed and/or given to you at the closing together in one place, preferably in a safe deposit box. These documents include the deed, settlement statement, appraisal, disclosures, mortgage note, inspections and any other reports, and title insurance policy.  You will need these records again if you decide to refinance or sell your home.

Insurance Policies

Keep a copy of all insurance policies relating to your property together. This may include homeowners, flood and earthquake policies. With these documents, keep a list of insurance agents or companies and copies of correspondence related to claims.

Purchase and House Data

It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of the original listing of your house, comparable market analysis, floor plans, blueprints, and historical information. If you own a newly built home, keep a list of contractors and material suppliers as well.

Property Taxes

Keep your tax bills and record of payment for as long as you own the home and possibly even longer. You may need these items if your tax returns are ever audited.

Home Maintenance and Improvements

Records in this category include receipts for repairs or replacement expenses, names of contractors, contracts, and a log of maintenance tasks.

Warranties, Manuals and Receipts

These documents provide you with a proof of purchase date and determine service and parts guaranteed. In addition, the manuals usually provide care information so you can help ensure your household appliances are being properly maintained. You should keep your warranties, manuals and receipts for these items for as long as you own the appliances.

 Home Inventory

If you were ever to lose any of your possessions due to fire, burglary, or vandalism, having a home inventory can help you avoid a lot of heartache and make it easier when filing an insurance claim.

Start with a sheet a paper for each room in the house. Go around the room and list every item. Don’t forget the attic, basement or other storage places. For each item, write the original cost, purchase date, replacement cost, model number, brand name, where purchased, and a general description. You can also use a computer software system so that you have an electronic copy.

Besides a written inventory, take photos or video of each room for visual documentation. It is also a good idea to arrange valuable collections, silver, jewelry, etc. and take close up photos. 

Keep a copy in your home files and the originals in a fireproof safe or safe deposit box. Make sure you update your home inventory photos and list at least once a year.

Organizing your home files may take a considerable amount of time initially, but it will definitely be time well spent in the event you need the documents later on.

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Prudential Waterfront Properties markets property throughout Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding areas. As members of the Multiple Listing Service, Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are able to assist buyers and sellers with all listed properties in a variety of price ranges and locations throughout the lake and surrounding areas. Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are consistent leaders in sales as well as customer and client service. Visit online at www.smithmtnlake.com.

September 28, 2009   No Comments

WHAT A BUYER SHOULD EXPECT DURING THE CLOSING AT SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE?

The last step in the home buying process is what real estate professionals commonly refer to as “the closing.” The closing, or settlement or close of escrow, is when all the progressive steps in buying a home from the acceptance of the offer, title search, home inspection, mortgage approval, and so on, come together in a final transaction. The documents are ready to sign, the buyer is ready to hand over the purchase price and the seller is ready to transfer title— and most importantly the keys!

Usually held in an office setting, most require about an hour and may be attended by some or all of the various parties in the process: the buyer, seller, real estate sales professionals or attorney, and title company representative.

 What goes on during the closing?

The buyer reviews and signs loan and real estate documents, as well as pays for the property, closing and other costs. One such loan document is the federal Truth-in-Lending disclosure form which describes the annual rate of financing (APR), finance charges, amount financed, total of payments and the payment schedule. There will also be a form itemizing what your monthly payment consists of including the principal, interest, taxes, insurance and other monthly charges. If everything is in order, the buyer signs the loan papers.

Real estate documents are just as important. There’s the HUD-1 form, which you have the right to inspect at least one day before the closing. This statement itemizes services provided and the fees charged for the entire real estate transactions. There will be a breakdown of the seller’s and buyer’s (borrower) financial obligations. Some of the charges include appraisal fee, credit report fee, loan origination fee, loan discount (points), title insurance fee, government recording fees, PMI Premium, inspections and attorney fee.

Other real estate documents that may be reviewed and/or signed include title documents, warranty deed (which transfers the title of the property) and other  acknowledgment of reports. Assuming that the funds are in order, the deed is correct and the title is clear, the final step is the disbursement of funds to the seller for the purchase price of the home. The title company should already have the loan funds in its possession, but the buyer will need to bring a cashier’s or certified check for the down payment and the closing costs if it was not included in the mortgage loan. If the buyer’s annual real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance will be paid through the lender, an escrow account will also be established.

Once all the papers are signed and funds are disbursed, the buyer will receive the keys and is now the homeowner.

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Prudential Waterfront Properties markets property throughout Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding areas. As members of the Multiple Listing Service, Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are able to assist buyers and sellers with all listed properties in a variety of price ranges and locations throughout the lake and surrounding areas. Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are consistent leaders in sales as well as customer and client service. Visit online at www.smithmtnlake.com.

September 25, 2009   Comments Off

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE REAL ESTATE POINTS

Everywhere you turn you find a different prediction for the National Real Estate Market about where it is headed and how long it will take to recover. Prudential Waterfront Properties at Smith Mountain Lake is happy to be experiencing an increase in traffic, our pending contracts are increasing steadily with each passing month and we continue to see more buyers ready to come to the closing table.  This market has been an education to many of us and here are some points that we have found to be true and would like to share:

  • Use a REALTOR!  This is not the time to be in a real estate market without professional guidance.
  • Foreclosures are not for the fainthearted.
  • Short sales should be called “long sales” and can be very stressful on both buyer and seller.  We are finding that many short sales may take weeks or even months to complete once the contract is ratified between buyer and seller.  Buyers be aware that this can be a lengthy and emotional process.
  • Buyers should note that not all sellers in today’s market are distressed sellers.  Extreme “Lowball” offers on properties that are not distressed situations will seldom work and will often result in an offended seller who will not negotiate with you at all.  Have your REALTOR communicate with the seller’s REALTOR to determine their level of motivation.
  • Sellers, price is key. A property will not sell until it is priced properly. Your REALTOR can prepare a market analysis to determine proper pricing. For best results, price it right from the beginning.
  • If you are selling a property and buying another, whether downsizing, upsizing, or relocating, remember while you may get less than you had hoped for on the property you are selling, this difference may be more than offset by the “deal” you get on the purchase of your new property.

Since we don’t have a crystal ball you won’t know that the market has bottomed out until it is too late!  There are some fantastic value opportunities available to buyers right now and interest rates are still at historic lows.

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Prudential Waterfront Properties markets property throughout Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding areas. As members of the Multiple Listing Service, Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are able to assist buyers and sellers with all listed properties in a variety of price ranges and locations throughout the lake and surrounding areas. Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are consistent leaders in sales as well as customer and client service. Visit online at www.smithmtnlake.com.

September 24, 2009   Comments Off

ONLINE STRATEGY FOR CONSUMERS WHO SEARCH FOR REAL ESTATE ONLINE

According to the 2008 National Association of REALTORS Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 87% of all home buyers used the internet as an information source.* Prudential Waterfront Properties is consistently working on keeping our company and listings highly visible on the internet and we are very proud of the level of service that we are able to provide through our internet marketing and search engine optimization.  Our online success is due in part to our affiliation with the Prudential Brand and the internet tools, marketing and services that they provide.

To help our Network remain competitive, Prudential Real Estate’s created a powerful, cost-effective, online strategy to capture an additional share of those consumers who search for real estate online. We offer you this incredible opportunity to be on the cutting edge of technology by using the two programs described here.

Online Buyer Advantage (OBA)

OBA – the ultimate lead generator. OBA is a key component of Prudential Real Estate’s online strategy. This technology is a proprietary national lead generation and management solution. Our solution can help capture, communicate with, and convert leads into closed transactions.

Online Seller Advantage (OSA)

OSA – the ultimate marketing tool. OSA brings together the collective Brand strength, marketing clout, and technological capabilities of our Network! It gets our clients’ property noticed. This exclusive advertising and marketing tool can help us win, maintain, and market listings.

OSA is a leading edge Internet technology tool. It was built to distinguish your property from competing properties and maximize exposure to qualified buyers. This state-of-the-art art tool equips you with proof that Prudential Real Estate is leading the way for consumers who use the web to find or sell a home.

Contact your Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTOR today to find out we can put these resources to work for you!

*Source: 2008 National Association Of REALTORS Profile on Home Buyers and Sellers.

September 23, 2009   Comments Off

PRUDENTIAL REAL ESTATE HAS THE HIGHEST AVERAGE SALES PRICE

The power and prominence of the Prudential Real Estate brand is evident throughout the industry. Once again, the Prudential Real Estate Network has achieved the industry’s highest average sales price of $344,232. This sales price is based on an analysis of transaction sides and sales volume data of the largest independently owned brokers in the U.S. for franchise networks recording at least 25,000 closed transaction sides in 2008, as reported in the 2009 REAL Trends 500.

September 22, 2009   Comments Off

GENIE RUST JOINS PRUDENTIAL WATERFRONT PROPERTIES

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, VA (September 21, 2009) – Prudential Waterfront Properties announced Genie Rust, REALTOR® has recently joined their sales team.

“Genie shares Prudential Waterfront Properties commitment to quality and customer service,” said Cathie Daniel, Principal Broker, Prudential Waterfront Properties. She is exactly the type of sales professional we are seeking, as we continue to grow the company, and increase our presence in the local community.”

“Prudential Waterfront Properties friendly and professional atmosphere, focus on the customer, and its goal to provide the best products and services for its sales associates are what make affiliating with Prudential Waterfront Properties the best choice possible,” said Rust.

Originally from Loudoun County Virginia, Genie vacationed at Smith Mountain Lake for twenty years, before becoming a permanent resident in 2001. Prior to joining Prudential Waterfront Properties, Genie was employed by RSI Rentals Inc., a local vacation and property management company for six years where she developed an understanding of lakefront properties as well as the ability to interact with a diversified group of clientele.

Rust is a member of the Roanoke Valley Association of Realtors, Virginia Association of Realtors and National Association Realtors. As a member of the Multiple Listing Service, Genie is able to assist buyers and sellers with all listed properties in a variety of price ranges and locations.

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Prudential Waterfront Properties markets property throughout Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding areas. As members of the Multiple Listing Service, Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are able to assist buyers and sellers with all listed properties in a variety of price ranges and locations throughout the lake and surrounding areas. Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are consistent leaders in sales as well as customer and client service. Visit online at www.smithmtnlake.com.

September 21, 2009   Comments Off

CREATE AN ACTION PLAN FOR AN EASY MOVE TO SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE!

The key to an easy move to Smith Mountain Lake is careful planning. There are many action items that need to be taken prior to the move all the way up to the actual day the first box is loaded on the moving truck. Take time to write down and organize the decisions and activities that will need to be accomplished prior to the move such as securing a mover and changing your address. Ideally, you should try to break up the tasks over a two-month period. By doing so, you won’t overload your schedule, plus it can save you time and money.  To get you started, consider using the checklist below as a guide.

Eight Weeks Prior

  • Get estimates from at least three professional movers. If you are going to do it yourself, get estimates on rental trucks.
  • Decide which furniture and household goods you’ll be taking, which needs to be disposed and which needs to be replaced.
  • If you will be moving to a new city, contact the Chamber of Commerce of that town for a new residence packet. Your sales professional may also have information.

Six Weeks Prior

  • Inventory your possessions besides furniture – kitchenware, decorative items, electronics, apparel and so on.
  • Complete a change of address form with the post office. This can be easily done online at www.MoversGuide.com for a minimal cost of $1. Make sure you notify organizations, credit cards companies, and publications to which you subscribe of your new address, too.
  • Obtain copies of all medical, dental, legal, accounting and veterinarian records.
  • If children are changing schools, arrange for transfer of educational records.
  • Itemize moving-related costs with the mover including packing, loading, special charges and insurance.

Four Weeks Prior

  • Make arrangements for packing your belongings. If you will be using professionals, schedule with the company for packing to take place a day or two before the move. If you will handle packing on your own, purchase adequate boxes, packing materials and tape.
  • Arrange for short-term or long-term storage if needed.
  • Make travel arrangements for pets including necessary medical records, immunizations, medication and so on.

Three Weeks Prior

  • Begin packing items you won’t need immediately or that will go into storage.
  • Contact utilities on both ends of the move to order termination or turn-on for occupancy date.
  • Confirm travel arrangements for family and pets.

Two Weeks Prior

  • Terminate newspaper and other delivery services.
  • If necessary, arrange and confirm new bank accounts and local services in your new neighborhood.

One Week Prior

  • Gather important papers, records, and valuables for protected shipment to new home or safe deposit box.
  • Obtain any prescription medications needed for the next few weeks.

Day Before or Actual Moving Day

  • Defrost refrigerator/freezer and give away all perishable food.
  • Keep a box marked “Last Box Packed/First Box Unpacked” for tools, flashlights, first aid kit and so on. On moving day, this should be the last box placed on the truck.
  • Pack items to carry with you such as valuables, financial records, personal papers and so on.
  • Give the movers a telephone number and address to reach you.

To be sure, a detailed action plan can get your move well down the road before you ever depart to your new destination.

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Prudential Waterfront Properties markets property throughout Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding areas. As members of the Multiple Listing Service, Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are able to assist buyers and sellers with all listed properties in a variety of price ranges and locations throughout the lake and surrounding areas. Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are consistent leaders in sales as well as customer and client service. Visit online at www.smithmtnlake.com.

September 18, 2009   Comments Off

TIPS FOR A GREEN HOME AT SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE

Eco-friendly. Carbon footprint. Global warming. Energy-efficient. These catch phrases have become part of our lexicon as we’ve become more aware of our impact on the environment and our role in protecting it. As a homeowner, there are some simple, inexpensive steps you can take to make your home energy-efficient. Get started on the road to being “green” with these five tips:

Change Your Light Bulbs

By replacing just five incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, you can save $100 per year on electric bills while using up to 75 percent less energy and removing greenhouse gases from the environment.

Buy ENERGY STAR® Appliances

ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances, such as refrigerators, washers and air conditioners, meet a higher level of energy efficiency set by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy than standard models. According to ENERGY STAR, if just one in 10 homes used ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances, the impact could be compared to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees. And, switching to these appliances is not only good for the environment, but easy on your pocketbook. Although these appliances may costs more, you can reduce your energy bill by $80 per year.

Seal Up

Cracks and air leaks represent cash seeping from your doors and windows. Get rid of air leaks in doors, windows and other areas by caulking gaps and cracks. This will help decrease your heating and air conditioning bill. But make sure you use silicone sealants. Acrylic caulk tends to shrink, while silicone sealants are waterproof and won’t shrink or crack, creating less waste.

Use Less Water

Did you know that roughly 60 percent of a home’s water consumption takes place in the bathroom, according to the California Urban Water Conservation Council? The largest culprit is the toilet, which accounts for 27 percent of your household supply every year. By installing low-flow toilets, showerheads and faucets, you can save thousands of gallons of water each year. In addition, replace leaky fixtures. That slow-dripping faucet can waste as much as 2,400 gallons of water per year.

Adjust the Thermostat

When adjusting your home’s thermostat, the rule of thumb should be: turn up the dial in the summer and down in the winter. Lowering the temperature by just one degree will reduce your electrical costs. And if you use a programmable thermostat, you can program your air-conditioning and heating systems to reduce output while no one is at home or at night while you sleep. Ceiling fans are also helpful in circulating the air to keep the room cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Going green doesn’t have to be overwhelming or costly. By making just a few small changes within your home, you can help decrease energy consumption and help make the world a “greener” place.

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Prudential Waterfront Properties markets property throughout Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding areas. As members of the Multiple Listing Service, Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are able to assist buyers and sellers with all listed properties in a variety of price ranges and locations throughout the lake and surrounding areas. Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are consistent leaders in sales as well as customer and client service. Visit online at www.smithmtnlake.com.

September 16, 2009   Comments Off