Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You’re not just buying a home …

It’s exciting to start the process of buying a home – from touring potential properties to envisioning your life inside each home, every step is a new adventure! However, many buyers get so excited about the house they’ve fallen in love with that they don’t look beyond the house to the neighborhood where they soon may be living.
It’s important to remember that you are not just buying a house … you’re buying a neighborhood.

How do you know you’re buying in a neighborhood that is right for you? It’s easy when you keep five things in mind:

1. The time of day when you first lay eyes on a prospective house can affect your impression of the neighborhood. Make sure you visit at various hours throughout the day, and on both the weekdays and the weekends. What may seem a very safe neighborhood during the day can drastically once it’s dark outside. The same can be said for neighborhood traffic flow, which can change dramatically depending on the time of day.

2. Neighborhood choice can be a pocketbook issue, and not just because of house prices and property taxes. Commuting costs – both in time and money – are critical. While you’re paying attention to home prices and subsequent mortgage payments, remember to calculate the actual cost of a commute. You may find the savings you envision based on a home’s lower price isn’t actually a savings at all.

3. Neighbors can be a great resource. Introduce yourself to your prospective neighbors and get their impressions of the neighborhood. Doing your research includes getting to know the neighbors. Ask them what they love about their neighborhood, and what concerns them. If you’re looking at a condo, and there is a condo association which manages the complex, ask neighbors who live there how effective the association is.

4. The Internet can be a boon for researching the nitty-gritty. Check out websites like Moving.com that look at factors such as appreciation rates, neighborhood amenities, commute times, and crime statistics.

5. Some neighborhood characteristics don’t fit neatly into numerical categories or scores. Another website worth taking a look at is NabeWise.com, which looks at 65 "quality of life" characteristics. Want to be near a farmers market, public transit or nightlife? Simply complete the check-list and the site does the search for you.

Remember – house hunting isn’t just about finding the perfect floor plan and the best back yard for relaxing and entertaining. It’s also about finding a neighborhood that suits you.

Important Tax Tips for Sellers

When it’s time to sell your home, there are a myriad of details to take care of – including recognizing the impact the sale of your home will have on your tax responsibilities. Below are ten tax tips from the Internal Revenue Services’ Summertime Tax Tip newsletter. You can find more tax tips on their website at www.irs.gov.

1. In general, you are eligible to exclude the gain from income if you have owned and used your home as your main home for two years out of the five years prior to the date of its sale.

2. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return in most cases).

3. You are not eligible for the exclusion if you excluded the gain from the sale of another home during the two-year period prior to the sale of your home.

4. If you can exclude all of the gain, you do not need to report the sale on your tax return.

5. If you have a gain that cannot be excluded, it is taxable. You must report it on Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.

6. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.

7. Worksheets are included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to help you figure the adjusted basis of the home you sold, the gain (or loss) on the sale, and the gain that you can exclude.

8. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is ordinarily the one you live in most of the time.

9. If you received the first-time homebuyer credit and within 36 months of the date of purchase, the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full credit is due with the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence, using Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year’s tax return.

10. When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure you receive refunds or correspondence from the IRS. Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS of your address change.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Seattle New Construction Permits

While listening to the national news today I kept hearing the headline, "New Home Sales Stall." However, if one drives around Seattle, Washington one may come to a different conclusion because of all the holes in the ground where new homes are being built.

For example, when looking at the neighborhood of Queen Anne there have been approximately 23 new construction permits issued so far this year. It seems like a building boom!

The real estate market is like the weather. It is important to pay attention to what is happening locally. I believe Seattle is bucking the national trend.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Home Values Up 14%!!!

How much have the home values in your neighborhood appreciated since 2004?

Given all the negative news about the real estate market, one may not know that the median home value in central and north Seattle appreciated 14% since 2004!!! Above shows appreciation for the neighborhoods of Queen Anne, Magnolia, East Lake, Capital Hill, Madison Park, Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, Green Lake, University District, Ravenna, Bryant, Wedgewood and many more...

Keep in mind this is comparing the first 6 months of 2004 to the first 6 months of 2011. If one purchased a home after 2004 the picture may not be as rosy. However, the image above shows that real estate is a solid invest for those who intend to buy and hold. Below is more information about the real estate market since 2004.

In 2004 the median home value was $397,5000. In 2007 it peaked at $555,000 and in 2011 it was $453,000 which was roughly the same as in 2005. The graph shows that median home values are trending up since 2009 which is a good sign.

In 2004 the average home that sold was on the market for 35 days. Compared to 51 in 2011. The graph shows that the number of days on market is trending down since 2009 which is a good sign. A market time of 45 days is consider healthy

In 2004 over 2,000 home sold in the first 6 months of the year. In 2011 just over 1,300 sold. The graph shows that the number of home sold is trending up since 2009 which is a good sign.

If bought and held real estate in central and north Seattle is a good investment.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Magnolia Art Show Winner's Reception

The Magnolia Art Show Winner's Reception with be held on October 1st from 6 to 9 PM at Museum Quality Framing. Featuring artists KC Deterling, Doug Garza, David Harrison, Bruce Savadow, Will Scales, Michael Wittenbrink, Glenn Raschick, Emily Rahlmann, MeKenna Taylor, Asher Western and more...
Museum Quality Framing Map: http://g.co/maps/53qca

For more information about the Magnolia Art Show visit www.MagnoliaArtShow.org.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

West Queen Anne Home Appreciation

In the Seattle, Washington neighborhood of West Queen Anne (zip code 98109) home values have appreciated 3.5% since 2004. Below is graph that compares the median home value for the first six months of each year since 2004.