Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tax Deductions For Homeowners

Tax time is upon us again already, but luckily, the Internal Revenue Service provides some perks to homeowners to compensate for expenses they may have incurred throughout the year with homeowner related tax deductions. Consult your tax advisor to find out which deductions apply to you, but here are some common deductions that may be beneficial to you. Property taxes Property taxes - the taxes charged by state and local governments on your property's value are usually tax-deductible. • You must have paid these taxes at closing, or to a taxing authority, either directly or through an escrow account, during the year. • Also, the tax must usually be based on the assessed value of the property and the taxing authority must charge a uniform rate on property in its jurisdiction. There are some exceptions to property tax deductions. Read IRS Publication 530, or consult your tax advisor for more information. Home mortgage interest The interest that you pay on a home mortgage is usually tax-deductible. You are allowed to deduct interest on multiple mortgages, as long as they add up to less than $1 million (up to $500,000 if married filing separately). You should receive a “Form 1098″ from your lender which details how much mortgage interest you paid. To claim this deduction, you need to fill out “Schedule A”, under “itemized deductions” to record your interest deduction. If you itemize your deductions, you can usually deduct the entire part of your house payment that's designated as mortgage interest. Interest is fully deductible on: • Mortgages secured by your main home or second home. • Mortgages used to buy, build, or improve your main home or second home. (Interest on mortgages used for other purposes is not deductible.) In addition, you can deduct: • Prepaid interest and points. Points are generally deductible in the year they are paid if the points are paid to acquire the property. If the points are paid for a mortgage refinance, the points must be deducted over the life of the loan. • Late payment charges on mortgage payments. • Mortgage prepayment penalty. • Redeemable ground rent. Tax deductions for Going Green Homeowners who make their homes more efficient with energy-conscious purchases may be eligible for tax benefits. A recent tax law change provides a tax credit to improve the energy efficiency of existing homes. The law provides a 10 percent credit for buying qualified energy efficiency improvements. To qualify, a component must meet or exceed the criteria established by the 2000 International Energy Conservation Code (including supplements) and must be installed in the taxpayer’s main home in the United States. The following items are eligible: • Insulation systems that reduce heat loss/gain • Exterior windows (including skylights) • Exterior doors • Metal roofs (meeting applicable Energy Star requirements) In addition, the law provides a credit for costs relating to residential energy property expenses. To qualify as residential energy property, the property must meet certification requirements prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury and must be installed in the taxpayer’s main home in the United States. The maximum credit for all taxable years is $500 – no more than $200 of the credit can be attributable to expenses for windows. Read more from the IRS on how you may be eligible to receive this tax break. These deductions can be very important when it comes time to pay your taxes and can possibly save you a lot of money. Unfortunately, not all expenses related to homeownership are tax-deductible. These include: • Homeowners insurance premiums • Depreciation • Cost of utilities • Settlement or closing costs • Homeowner association dues and fees It is a good idea to always check with your tax professional as you may actually qualify for other deductions you were not aware of. To learn more information on taxes and being a homeowner, visit the IRS where you can learn more about Tax Information for Homeowners

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Avoiding Common First Time Home Buyer Mistakes

Buying a home can be a very exciting experience, but it can also be a confusing and complicated process, especially for a first-time home buyer. New home buyers are confused, anxious and concerned when it comes to finding a real estate agent, choosing the house, and getting financing. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed, here are a few tips that can help you can make sure things go as smoothly as possible. Find the right person to guide you through the process. It is just as important to shop around for the right real estate agent and lender as it is to shop for the right home. Choosing the wrong person to work with during the home buying process can lead to hassles and headaches. Choose someone you feel comfortable with and that will put your best interests first. It is important to find someone who can match your needs and goals with the right mortgage possibilities. Check your credit report and score. Knowing what kind of mortgage you can qualify for depends on a number of different variables including your credit score. You can get a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months to check for any inaccuracies and your credit score rating. The higher your credit score, the better interest rate and loan you can get. If you do find mistakes, you can dispute those errors to have them corrected. Don’t buy a house that you cannot afford. While this may sounds obvious, it can be tempting to look at homes that may be outside your price range. Don’t purchase a home that is really more than you can afford and you need to be strong and stay within your budget. If you are not sure how much of a home you can realistically afford use this home affordability calculator. Once you learn how much of a home you can afford, stay within your budget. Keep in mind, just because you've been approved for a certain amount, doesn't mean you will actually be able to afford the monthly payments in addition to the other costs involved. Your new home should give you great pleasure, not hold you hostage. Thoroughly research the surrounding area of your potential home. Don't stop your inspection at the property line, research the surrounding area. Is it safe, well maintained and moderately quiet? How far Is it located to work, schools and shops? The internet can be a powerful tool to help you with this research, with just a few clicks of the mouse; you can find the answers you need. It is also a good idea to get more information about zoning, you don’t want to purchase a home only to find out in a few years the vacant lot across the street will be a super center or major roadway! If you do your research and educate yourself by asking a lot of questions things will go smoothly. Remember to have fun with the process as well and relax, you are not alone, about 2 million first-time buyers successfully walk the path to home ownership every year in the United States. Do your homework and you can avoid these common mistakes and make your first-time home buying experience a positive one.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

2007 Top 100 Internet Marketer

I'm proud to announce that my website has just been ranked #5 on the 2007 Top 100 Internet Marketers for real estate agents nationwide., an online marketing company with a real estate focus, did extensive research and ranked agents websites based on web visibility in the Albuquerque area. I am excited that I received a ranking of #5, because I understand the power of the internet and I am striving to use it effectively. With over 84% of consumers using the internet to search for homes, it is important to have an effective site to facilitate their search. 80 major markets in the US. Markets were selected based on market size (population) and search volumes. The top US cities were selected based on population rank (See cities). In addition, cities appearing in Google Trends for the search terms "Real Estate" and "Homes" were included within this market search. This ranking is an honor in a competitive field,” says Mark Sprenger, President of eSource Marketing. “Online real estate marketing is tough and ranking in the Top 100Internet Marketers in the nation is truly an honor.”

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Visually Create More Space

In today’s market competition is tough and you have to make your home as marketable as possible. Potential buyers are more interested in homes that are spacious with open floor plans. But even if your home is smaller or you have a choppy floor plan, you can visually create a larger room, giving the illusion of more space. There are plenty of easy ways to do this with little or no money and without remodeling your entire home. • Reduce clutter. Keep rooms tidy and organized, pick up newspapers and magazines and put away unnecessary items from countertops in the kitchen and baths. There’s nothing that makes a small space feel cramped more than having too much stuff. Keep decorative objects to a minimum, figurines and excessive accessories are distracting. • Let the sun shine in. Lighting is a key element in opening up a space, if you have a lot of natural light, don’t cover it up with heavy drapery. Choose window coverings that will compliment, such as Roman Blinds or Roller Shades. Even if your room doesn’t get a lot of natural light you can use halogen bulbs in your lamps to cast a glow similar to natural light. • Be neutral. Use a light and neutral color scheme to make your room look bigger. Cream colors and warm yellows are just a few of the best color combinations that can open up a tiny room into a bigger living area. Light colors make your room look bigger and brighter because they are reflective making a space feel open and airy. • Minimize your furniture. If possible store any large and bulky furniture pieces as they make a room look smaller. You want the potential buyer to see the house, not your furniture. For the items you decide to keep, scale the furniture to fit the size of the room and don’t block walking pathways. This will help to open up the space and make it feel larger. • Don’t cover your walls with a lot of pictures. Too many pictures on the wall can make a room feel crowded. One large painting works better than a group of small paintings. A wall filled with a bunch of small pictures will make the wall appear cluttered. Consider these tips to help you give your home a sense of spaciousness. When in doubt on what to remove and what to keep, try to follow the ‘less is more’ theory. Excessive furniture and decorations contribute to the rooms looking smaller and more cluttered—and ultimately distracting potential buyers. A clean, well-maintained, and spacious home is not only more marketable, but can often command a higher price. FOR A FREE COPY OF MY BOOK "GET THE BEST DEAL WHEN SELLING YOUR HOME" CONTACT ME DIRECTLY THROUGH THIS BLOG OR BY EMAIL WITH YOUR MAILING INFORMATION. This book has some great ideas for staging your home and some good stories about how well it's worked for my clients

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Certified ACRE® Consultant

I have received my ACRE® certification. What does this mean to the consumer? Real estate professionals who have earned the ACRE™ designation have completed a course of study and taken an exam that tests their ability to provide unbiased counsel to the consumer in matters that deal with real estate. ACRE™ members consult WITH their clients, not sell to them. So, rather than hiring a salesperson whose sole focus tends to be "making the sale," a consumer should look to a consultant who's focus is to help their clients attain their goals, which may or may not involve a sale. In addition, ACRE™ members who are listed on our website continue to work with the authors of the real estate consulting concept, as well as all of the other ACRE™ graduates from around the country, through the Graduate Coaching Program, thereby continuously increasing their knowledge and skills, and staying current with market shifts and trends. Copyright ©2006—2008 All Rights Reserved ACRE Council, LLC I'm very excited about this new level of knowledge, and the course work that I took to achieve this certification has truly given me a greater understanding of the benefits to the consumer as well my value to them in a real estate transaction. Come to my website today for more information about my services at

Preventing Identity Theft

Identity Theft is a crime in which the thief obtains key pieces of personal identifying information such as Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers and uses them to commit fraud or other crimes. This personal information is usually obtained from lost or stolen wallets, pilfered mail, a data breach, computer virus, phishing, a scam, or paper documents thrown out by you or a business (dumpster diving). The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Identity thieves can empty your bank account, max out your credit cards, open new accounts in your name, and purchase furniture, cars, and even homes on the basis of your credit history. Unfortunately, many consumers learn that their identity has been stolen after some damage has been done. You'll get the headache and expense of cleaning up the mess they leave behind. While you may never be able to completely prevent your identity from being stolen, there are many things you can proactively do to help protect yourself from becoming a victim. • Review your credit report periodically. It is important to check to make sure that all the information contained in it is correct, and be on the lookout for any fraudulent activity. You may get your credit report for free once a year. To do so, contact the Annual Credit Report Request Service online at or call (877) 322-8228. If you need to correct any information or dispute any entries, contact the three national credit reporting agencies: Equifax: (800) 685-1111 Experian: (888) 397-3742 TransUnion: (800) 916-8800 • Protect your Social Security number (SSN). This number is the most important personal identifier, so you must make it your top priority to keep it secure. Never carry your Social Security card or any with you unless you'll need it. The same goes for other forms of identification (for example, health insurance cards) that display your SSN. If your state uses your SSN as your driver's license number, request an alternate number. Don't have your SSN preprinted on your checks, and don't let merchants write it on your checks. Don't give it out over the phone unless you initiate the call to an organization you trust. Ask the three major credit reporting agencies to truncate it on your credit reports. Try to avoid listing it on employment applications; offer instead to provide it during a job interview. • Leave it at home. If you carry your checkbook and all of your credit cards, debit cards with you all the time, which is a bad idea; if your wallet or purse is stolen, the thief will have a treasure chest of new toys to play with. Carry only the cards and/or checks you'll need for any one trip and keep a written record of all your account numbers, credit card expiration dates, and the telephone numbers of the customer service and fraud departments in a secure place--at home. • Invest in a paper shredder. Do not throw out any financial records such as credit or debit card receipts and statements, cancelled checks, or even offers for credit you receive in the mail, rather shred the documents. This will prevent would be thief’s from going through your dumpster and finding important information that will help them to steal your identity. The most important thing you can do to protect your identity is to be diligent and follow the above tips. There is much information on the subject and several tips like the ones above that can help you safeguard your identity. Be smart and you will save yourself countless hours of trying to recover your good name and credit. Because these types of crimes have become so mainstream there are also insurance policies you can purchase that can protect you from the potential headaches.

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