Mar 02 2017

 

Tax season is here once again! We've created this handy checklist to get you started and to keep you organized while you get ready to file. It includes some common documents you'll need but there are many factors that go in to taxes, so make sure you consult with your tax professional to make sure you have everything you need. We hope you find this list helpful!



time_for_taxes.jpg

 

Personal Data


  • Social security number - For you, your spouse & your children

  • Childcare provider - Name, address & tax ID number

  • Alimony paid - Social security number of your former spouse



Employment & Income Data

  • W-2 forms for 2016

  • Unemployment compensation

  • Miscellaneous income, including rents

  • Partnership, S Corporation & trust income

  • Pensions & annuities

  • Alimony received

  • Social Security benefits

  • Jury Duty pay

  • Prizes & awards

  • Gambling & lottery winnings

  • Scholarships & fellowships


Homeowner & Renter Data

  • Residential address(es) for 2016

  • Mortgage interest paid

  • Real estate closing disclosures & sales information

  • Second mortgage interest paid

  • Property taxes paid

  • Moving expenses

  • Energy credits

  • Private mortgage insurance documentation




 

Financial Assets

  • Interest income statements

  • Dividend income statements

  • Proceeds from broker transactions


Self-Employment Data

  • Business income

  • Partnership self employment income

  • Business-related expenses - Receipts and other pertinent documents

  • Employment taxes and other business taxes paid for the current year



Expenses

  • Gifts to charity

  • Unreimbursed expenses related to volunteer work

  • Unreimbursed expenses related to your job such as travel expenses, uniforms, subscriptions

  • Investment expenses

  • Job-hunting expenses

  • Job-related education expenses

  • Childcare expenses

  • Medical savings accounts

  • Alimony paid

  • Tax return preparation fees and expenses


Miscellaneous

  • Federal, state and local estimated income tax paid for 2016

  • IRA or other tax retirement plan contributions

  • Records of medical expenses

  • Records of casualty or theft losses

  • Records for any other expenditures that may be deductible

  • Records for any other revenue or sale of property that you may need to report


Did you buy or sell a property from us in 2016? Email us here and we'll send you a copy of your closing statements for your taxes.



Jan 20 2017

 

 

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining off the roof. The water that backs up behind the dam and can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your house damaging your walls and ceilings.

 

So what do you do to get rid of them?

 

First, remove as much of the snow from the roof as you can using a long handled roof rake. You can find a roof rake at most home improvement stores, but a long handled garden rake works just fine if the roof rakes are sold out!

 

Fill a panty hose stocking (yes, panty hose!) with sodium chloride. Lay the hose on the roof perpendicular to the gutter so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter. The calcium chloride will melt the ice and will create a channel for water to flow down the gutter.

 

Keep in mind, your downspouts might be clogged as well! To clear ice from your downspouts, fill a pitcher with hot water from the tap. Pour the water in the top of the gutter until it's full. Pour more hot water on the exterior of one side of the downspout to create a small channel inside the pipe for the water from the top to start running down. Usually, this will only take 1-2 gallons of hot water dribbled down the exterior to thaw enough for the interior channel to start flow. Finally, add more hot water from the top of the gutter to melt the rest. Always make sure downspouts are extended away from the foundation for proper drainage.

 

After all that snow removal, make sure the storm drain is clear so the water will flow freely. Click here to locate the closest storm drain to your home!

Dec 27 2016

Market Definitions

There is often some confusion about real estate terms used to describe the different types of markets consumers will experience.

Below is an explanation of a buyers' market, sellers' market, and balanced market to help understand what that really means.

house money question

Buyers' Market

  • In a buyers' market the buyers have more control than the sellers.
  • This type of market occurs when there is an abundance of listing inventory available and there are more sellers than buyers.
  • Buyers often benefit from this with lower prices and seller concessions, such as more price flexibility, and seller-paid buyer closing costs.
  • A market with more than six month's supply of listing inventory is considered a buyers' market.

*A six month's supply of inventory means that if no new homes were to be listed, our current supply would last six months.

Sellers' Market

  • In a sellers' market, the sellers have more control than the buyers.
  • This type of market occurs when there is a low listing inventory, more buyers than sellers, homes are not on the market for very long, and often there are multiple offers on homes.
  • A sellers' market benefits sellers with higher prices, fewer days on markets, less seller-paid buyer closing costs, and often times multiple-offer bidding wars. (We experienced this market this spring).
  • A market with less than four month's listing inventory is considered a sellers' market.

Balanced Market

  • In a balanced market, neither buyers nor sellers have the advantage. 
  • A market with about four to six month's listing inventory is considered to be a balanced market. 

 

Dec 22 2016

Winter's temperatures can be harsh on your home's plumbing! Be sure you're ready, and know what to do should your pipes freeze.


frozen pipes

 

Before the cold weather hits:

  • Close outside vents, crawl spaces, and doors.
  • Keep your garage door closed to prevent cold air from reaching pipes and water heaters. (See above image)
  • If you're going to be away from your home keep an eye on expected temperatures and set heat accordingly.
  • If you plan on turning the heat off, drain all the water from the pipes, toilets, and water heater, and turn off the power source to the water heater.
Dec 13 2016

 

 
There are many improvements you can make to your house to 
add instant curb appeal. Adding curb appeal not only adds nice character to the neighborhood, it will also make it easier to sell. When considering how to add curb appeal, make sure and consider how much time you have to put into it and what your budget is, and consult us to determine the best direction to go!
 
Replace Exterior Light Fixtures

Adding exterior light fixtures to your home is a great way to add curb appeal and functionality all in one! This is the perfect time of the year to replace your exterior fixtures as we approach the shortest day of the year.

When buying exterior light fixtures, be sure to consider both the style of the light fixtures and the function of them. You want the fixtures to adequately light up your entryway to your house for safety. If you can find a light fixture that has the same mounting system as your current lights you can avoid drilling new holes into the exterior of your home and save yourself time. You can find new fixtures at a variety of stores from $20 and up.
 

 

Dec 06 2016
 

Here are a few simple ways to be green around the house:
 
Waterworks for Teeth
Brush, Brush, Brush. Instead of allowing the faucet to run while brushing your teeth, turn it off. This simple act makes a huge impact. By leaving the water running while brushing for the dentist-recommended time of two minutes twice a day, you use 12 gallons of water daily, and that is 4,380 gallons per year literally going down the drain! So, conserve water and do what your mom always told you to do as a child... don't waste water and turn it off when you are brushing!
 
Flush and Conserve
Face it, we all use the bathroom and we all have to flush. Toilets can account for more than 40 percent of a household's water usage. Reduce water usage without even buying a new toilet. Place a 1-liter plastic bottle full of water (smaller sizes can float) inside your toilet's water tank. Every time you flush, instead of using 6 liters of water, you will use 5 liters.
 
Switch to LED LightbulbsS
You got it. Remove your basic incandescent light bulb for an energy saving light-emitting diodes or LED. What sets LEDs apart from incandescent bulbs and CFL's is just how long they can last. According to Consumer Reports, LED light bulbs can last anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 hours, or up to five times longer than any comparable bulb on the market! LED light bulbs work by bringing together currents with a positive and negative charge to create energy released in the form of light. The result is a fast source of light that is reliable, instantaneous, and able to be dimmed. 
 
What's even better? Idaho Power is giving away free Energy Efficiency Kits that includes nine LED light bulbs and other energy and water saving items! Click here to order your FREE kit!
 
Just Turn it Off!
Save Electricity. Reduce your electric bill. Turn off the lights, computer, hairdryer, etc. Every year the average American household is responsible for producing more than eight tons of carbon dioxide from electricity usage -- the amount your car would emit if you drove from New York to Los Angeles ... seven times. If you don't want to unplug every single plug, invest in a power strip for those areas where a great deal of items are used daily. Unplug one thing instead of five.
 
Remove the Lint!
Very simply, removing lint from the dryer reduces its energy use. Clean out your dryer's lint filter before each use, and you can cut down on your energy bill, dry your clothes more quickly (and cleanly), and reduce your home's fire hazards. To even further increase your energy savings, clean out the dryer vent at least once a year.
 
Keep it Cold!
Use cold water for the washing machine. Almost all the cost of washing clothes is to heat the water. Afraid your jeans won't get clean in cold water? No worries. Newer enzyme detergents perform best in cold water and they are available at every store in the country. No excuses!
 
Plastic Bags are so Old School
Get reusable bags for the grocery store and the dry cleaner. More than 100 billion plastic bags are thrown away each year. A plastic bag, cap, or lid takes decades to biodegrade.
 
Cut Down on Paper!
Stop junk mail. Every year 100 million trees are chopped down and 28 million gallons of water is used to produce junk mail for just one year according to www.greendimes.com. You can stop 75% of all junk mail by registering for the Mail Preference Service on the Direct Marketing Association website. For the small fee of $1, the organization will remove your name and address from prospective mailing lists. Be patient, it may take up to 90 days for most mail to stop ... but it will be worth it!
 
Get It Clean.
Use natural cleaners like vinegar and baking soda or seek out natural brands in stores -there are more available now than ever. Seventh Generation has great products as does Method.
 
Get Rid of the Paper Towels.
Yep. Next time your kitchen counter's wet, reach for a cloth instead of a paper towel. You'll save a lot of paper -- including the small, green kind that fits in your wallet. How much green? If you use one roll of paper towels per week, you could save $100 per year by switching to dishcloths and tea towels. And cotton tea towels are thicker and can hold more water than paper towels. Or if you just can't bear to get rid of paper towels all together, go with recycled and non-chlorine bleached paper towels from companies like Seventh Generation.
 
Thermostat Control
Two is the magic number, or even three. In the summer, set the air conditioning thermostat at 78 degrees or higher. Raise the setting 2 or 3 degrees higher when away in the day. A lower air conditioning temperature makes your costs much higher. Setting your air conditioner at 73 degrees instead of 78 can increase the operating cost by over 50%! Save green and be green. Lower is the key for winter. Setting your thermostat too high in the winter sends green out the window. Set it at 68 degrees and lower the temperature to 65 degrees at night if you have a heat pump, or 55-60 degrees overnight if you have gas, oil, or electric strip heat. Lastly, thermostats can be sensitive, keep lamps or TVs away from your air conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause your air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
 
Get the Star
Use ENERGY STAR labeled products. A new refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR label can save you up to $90 a year compared to models designed 15 years ago.
 
Recycle that Aluminum
We know you know about recycling aluminum. Easy to do. One more thing to add to this is crushing. Yep. Make the process more efficient and crush your cans before collection. This takes up less space in the recycle bin as well as the number of trips to take them to the recycling plant. And by the way, recycling just one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV set for three hours!
Oct 12 2016
The belief is that spring is typically when the market heats up, summer is when the bulk of the activity happens, and fall is usually when the market slows down. So why do we think it's still a great time to sell? Because when the inventory dips there's less competition and buyers who haven't found a home yet are more eager to get into contract before the holidays.
 
By listing in the fall, your home will be fresh and new compared to the listings that have been on the market since summer. Most buyers at this point have seen everything on the market several times over and are getting frustrated with the lack of inventory.
 
So what can you do to prepare for a fall listing?
  • Price it right from the get-go - The shortened season means you may not have time to make effective price adjustments before the season is over and the holidays begin.
  • Clean up the landscaping - Fall can be messy, between the leaves falling and perennials going dormant. Make sure your landscaping is neat and tidy and your home will stand out among the rest.  
  • Service your HVAC system - Hire a professional to inspect and service your furnace so when the heat comes on the home seems warm and cozy rather than have that dusty smell permeating your home when turning it on for the first time.
Oct 12 2016
When we take buyers out to find a home, there are several pieces to the puzzle we make sure are lined up before stepping foot in any homes.
 
1. They have a lender they are working with
 
We want to know who is behind your home loan and want to make sure they are going to be able to do as they say. We've tried, tested, and discovered that like Realtors, not all lenders are equal! Working with an online lender might seem like a good idea because the rate is low or they have less fees. The truth is there are a lot of ways to save money on a home loan. Sit down with a couple lenders and ask them about their fees, etc and form a relationship with someone you trust. This person is a critical piece to you getting house moneyyour new home!
 
2. They are pre-approved 
 
Beyond having a lender, we want to know buyers are pre-approved and have the means to buy any home we take them to view. This is not a pre-qualification letter, but a pre-approval. What's the difference? For pre-qualification, lenders run basic figures and estimate the buyer's ability to qualify for a loan. A pre-approval includes a formal application, credit review, employment verification, and reviewing debt-to-income ratios, pay stubs, and tax returns. After this, the lender can write a pre-approval or loan commitment lender showing your ability to purchase the home. 
 
In our current market having your ducks in a row and a pre-approval letter submitted with your offer can be the difference between getting the home of your dreams or not.
 
If you have any questions about buying in today's market call us at 208-327-2127. We pride ourselves on having systems in place to ensure our clients are ready and know what to expect when they step foot in the first home with us!
Aug 29 2016
 



There's something to be said about getting things done on your own.
 
This simply does not apply to selling your home!
 
Take a chance on new cereal, try a new shampoo, or start a new hobby - don't take a chance on selling your most valuable asset!
 
Homes sold by Realtors sell for more! Put your fears aside and call us TODAY at 208-327-2127to get your home sold for the most amount of money in the least amount of time! 
Aug 16 2016
It's time to address the seller strategy of listing homes above market value to "leave room to negotiate." We'd rather you have someone to negotiate with vs. room to negotiate. 
 
Sellers get the most exposure when they first put their home on the market. Currently, there is a pool of buyers who have seen everything available that meets their criteria, and are waiting for the right thing to come on the market. They are likely working with an agent, are educated on what's happening, and have seen pricing on homes. Don't gamble with the sale of your home! Hire an agent who will help you price it right, market it well, draw a buzz, and get your home SOLD!
 
Listings are like fruit ~ they don't get better with time!  :-)