Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ten Tips to Make Your Small Room Look Larger

When deciding to sell your home it is important to take the steps necessary to ensure that the rooms in your home are properly “staged” to appeal to prospective buyers. This may harder than expected as we all have rooms in our home that may be on the smaller side and hard to decorate. What can really be done with a small room?

Below is a list of ten tips to help you open up the small spaces in your home to appear larger and inviting to prospective buyers.

  1. The use of light colors such as pastels, neutrals and white are a better alternative to “bright” or dark colors.

  1. For your furniture, rugs, etc. you should select different shades and textures of the one color you select from above.

  1. Lighting is critical when trying to create an illusion of a larger space. Recessed lighting is ideal for smaller spaces. In the event that this option is too costly, torchiere lighting is a viable alternative as the light bounces off the ceiling and back into the room.

  1. Declutter the room.

  1. A light colored floor and ceiling will open up the room and make it appear larger.

  1. Mirrors are a must as they add dimension to the room by reflecting images, light and colors. Mirrors provide a “see through” feel to the room.

  1. Remove large bulky furniture from the room. One or two smaller pieces placed closer to the walls are better than one large piece of furniture in the middle of the room.

  1. Don’t clutter the walls with a collection of pictures. Replace the many pictures with one larger picture or painting.

  2. Take advantage of the view of your yard and bring the outside in by allowing prospective buyers to see out into your flowerbeds or gardens.

  1. Glass tables such as a dining table, end table or coffee table will maintain the “open” and airy feel in a small space.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What To Look For As a Buyer In Your Real Estate Market

As we sit on the edge of our seats to see which way the real estate market will turn next, there are a number of people waiting for the market to hit bottom before they decide to buy.

How do you know when is the right time?

Blanche Evans, columninst for Realty Times has outlined a number of indicators to watch for if your are thinking about buying. Keep an eye on your local market and watch for these signs.

  • Inventories Start to Decline

  • The Days on Market Reduce

  • Mortgage Applications Increase

  • Sold Homes Go For Closer to List Price

  • Prices Remain Firm or Rise

  • Incentives Disappear

Some of these factors may already be happening in your area, so don't wait. If you were planning to buy and you were just waiting to see where the market would go, the time may be now. To read the full article, or watch the video, titled Realty Viewpoint: Six Signs It's Time For Home Buyers To Buy by Blance Evans click here.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Identity Theft - What You Should Know

In a day and age when technology seems to rule a big part of our lives, it is important to make sure that our “identity” is protected. As we have all read the horror stories of the victims of identity theft, there are steps we can take to protect ourselves and our personal information.

For starters we should be clear about what identify is and how we are identified as individuals in this high tech world we live in. Identity theft occurs when our personal information is collected without our permission and utilized, most of the time, for criminal activity. What personal
information do these people target?

  1. Your Name

2. Address

3. Birth Date

4. Social Security Number (SSN)

5. Credit Card Numbers

6. and Other Personal Identification Numbers

This is the type of information someone would need to open credit card or bank accounts, apply for cellular phone service, purchase vacations packages, forward your mail, etc. So how can you protect yourself from this information getting into the wrong hands?

  1. If asked to provide personal information, ask why is it needed, how will it used, if it will be shared and with whom.

  2. Carry the least amount of personal information with you as possible.

  3. When asked for your credit number over the phone or internet, make sure that you know who you are dealing with and the communication line is secure.

  4. It’s always a good idea to take extra security measures when dealing over the internet (i.e. digital signatures and data encryption).

  5. Knowing your billing cycles can prove to be very useful should you not receive your bills in the mail. This could help in determining if you mail has been illicitly redirected.

  6. Order your credit report at least once a year and review for any inaccuracies or any unusual activity.

  7. Report lost or stolen credit cards immediately.

  8. You can also request that your accounts require passwords before any inquiries or changes can be made

  9. Choosing the right password is extremely important. You don’t want anything obvious and you DON’T want to write them down.

  10. Always protect your pin number when using debit machines, bank machines or telephones.

  11. Review your credit card cardholder agreement. A number of companies offer protection from credit card fraud.

  12. Lastly, be aware of your garbage. Anything with the above mentioned personal information on it should not just be thrown out. Shredding this type of documentation (especially financial statements, receipts, etc.) is an effective step in preventing identity theft.

Taking the necessary steps above to protect your identity is not difficult. It’s as simple as being aware of what these identity thieves are looking for and arming yourself with the knowledge on how to properly protect your personal information.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Mortgage Tax Savings - Calculate Your Own Savings

It's tax time again and we can use a little help in determining any tax savings. Did you know that interest paid on a mortgage is tax deductible if you itemize on your on tax return. So are points that are paid to lower your interest rate. Use my mortgage calculator to determine how much you could save in income taxes.

In addition to using the mortgage calculator you might want to familiarize yourself with some common tax related definitions.

Federal tax rate:

The marginal federal tax rate you expect to pay.

Interest rate

Annual interest rate for this mortgage.
Interest rate after taxes
Annual effective interest rate after taxes are taken into account. Please note that in addition to the $1,000,000 mortgage debt limit, this calculator assumes that your itemized deductions will exceed the standard deduction for your income tax filing status. If your itemized deductions don't exceed your standard deduction, the benefit of deducting the interest on your home will be reduced or eliminated. For 2002 the standard deductions were $7,850 for married couples filing jointly, $3,925 for married couples filing separately, $4,700 for singles, and $6,900 for heads of household. You should also be aware that the total tax savings may be less for higher incomes that have their allowable itemized deductions phased out.
Mortgage amount
Original or expected balance for your mortgage. Taxpayers can deduct the interest paid on first and second mortgages up to $1,000,000 in mortgage debt (the limit is $500,000 if married and filing separately). Any interest paid on first or second mortgages over this amount is not tax deductible. Home equity loans are limited to $100,000 or the amount of equity you have in your home. Our calculator limits your interest deduction to the interest payment that would be paid on a $1,000,000 mortgage.
State tax rate:
The marginal state tax rate you expect to pay.

Click here for more tax related definitions.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!




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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Highlands County Florida - A "Cool" Place to Live

As Highlands County's "Coolest Realtor" I'd like to share with you why I love Highlands County and why it's the coolest place to live. Well, we have some of the coolest communities --- Avon Park, Sebring, and Lake Placid, where the coolest of cool people live. The lifestyle is fun, friendly, cool and causal. In Highlands County, a morning of golf makes for a perfect afternoon and getting dressed for "The Club" translates to socks optional!

We have an affordable cost of living and no state income tax. The median price of a home is $195,000, a lot less expensive than either of the Florida coasts or the urban areas. We are within a two-hour drive of either coast, two international airports, Mickey World, and the rest of the other major Florida attractions. We have luxury homes in beautiful golfing communities, to a cozy cabin on a pristine lake, or a quiet place in the country. For those of you who fly south in the winter, you can find a nice cool (or should I say warm) place to live for less than $81,000. Now that's what I call soooo...COOL!

If you have really cool hobbies and recreational needs, then you will find it all in Highlands County. Whether it's bass fishing on one of our 88 crystal clear lakes, or playing golf on one of a dozen or more championship golf courses, playing tennis, birdwatching, biking, canoeing, playing shuffle board (or as the cool people say shuffling), or antiquing you can find it all here in Highlands County!

Highlands County is a cool place to raise a family. We have a low crime rate, wholesome living, and good schools with dedicated teachers. Cool kids love Highlands County. We have really great sports programs from baseball, soccer, football to just about all cool organized sports. The Children's Museum of the Highlands is very cool for kids, moms, dads and grandparents. But most of all, our great outdoors is the coolest playground of all.

Just click on the Cool Favorite Links. I have put together some of my favorite cool web sites which have more information about the coolest of cool things to do in Highlands County!

Oops ..... I forgot to mention, Highlands County also has a really Cool County Administrator, my husband, Carl Cool.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Moving? - Top 10 Packing Tips

When you decide to make a move to a new home there are a number of things to take care of including the dreaded packing. Not many people enjoy this process, but it can be a lot less stressful if you are organized and make a plan.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Plan ahead and budget for the move. Will you be moving yourself or will you require the assistance of a moving company? If you are planning to use a moving company it’s a good idea to price this out ahead of time.

  2. Make sure you have plenty of the following: strong packing boxes (more than you think you will need), markers and tags to label boxes, rolls of packing tape, bubble wrap for fragile items, packing paper, scissors and a knife for opening boxes.

  3. Pack room-to-room keeping similar items together.

  4. Use smaller boxes for heavier items so it is easier to lift.

  5. You can use towels, linens and curtains to line the bottom and sides of boxes with fragile items. All fragile items should be individually wrapped. Clearly mark these boxes FRAGILE.

  6. Make sure that any opened boxes or jars are tightly sealed before packing them.

  7. Use colorful tags to identify the contents of the box and which room it will be taken to in your new home.

  8. Pack any rugs last so that they will be the first thing unpacked and placed in the home.

  9. Make a master list of all household items and personal belongings.

  10. Finally pack a box with all the essentials and mark it “Open Me First”. This box may contain items such as: a few basic tools (flashlight, pocket knife, masking tape, light bulbs), bathroom essentials (toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes & paste, hand towel), Kitchen items (paper towels, coffee maker & filter, paper plates, cups, utensils, pet food, trash bags).

Planning ahead will make all the difference to an overwhelming move. Do your research and make a pla

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