Friday, February 24, 2017

Is that foundation worth living on?


Is that foundation worth living on?
Cracked foundation may preclude deeper issues.

We have spoken before about the importance of having a home inspection done, but did you know that home inspectors do not check for structural integrity? They are not trained engineers and don’t have the certification to look at a home’s foundation and point out issues.

But if you are looking to buy a home and there are some items that stick out as possible foundation issues, you might want to have a Structural Engineer take a look for you. The upfront money you pay for the inspection will save you thousands of repair costs after purchase. To help you out, here are five things to watch for in regards to foundations.

1.    Do you smell mold or mildew? A foundation leak could be the cause.
2.    Look for outside cracks in the foundation and possible cracks in the brick work. Is there a leaning or tilted chimney?
3.    Take a look at the driveway and around the garage door for cracks. Review any concrete patios also.
4.    If the home has a basement look for signs of water damage which would include peeling paint, chalky deposits left after water dries up).
5.    Are the doors or windows sticking when you open and shut them? This could be a sign of foundation damage.

If you see or suspect any of these issues, call a structural engineer or home inspector with an engineering license to review the home and check the foundation. You don’t want to have to spend $20,000 or more to fix the home foundation.

These are just a few of the events for February. For notice on events by day LIKE our Facebook page @VictoriaCottlesCorner.

And remember if you, a friend or family member need assistance with selling or buying a home I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Image by waytru

Friday, February 17, 2017

Lack of Housing Inventory is Slowing Things Down



Lack of Housing Inventory is Slowing Things Down
The housing crisis is past us. Foreclosures and Short Sales have dropped off dramatically. The national real estate market is making a full recovery except in one area: Housing Inventory. Buyer demand is strong but homes for sale is not keeping up in most markets.

During the home crisis home builders backed off on new construction starts and some builders even went out of business. However, in a joint report from the U.S. Census and the Department of HUD, new home construction starts are now on the rise again with privately-owned housing starts for December at a rate of 1,226,000. This number is 11.3 percent above November at 1,102,000 and is 5.7 percent above December 2015 rate of 1,160,000. Single-family housing starts in December were at 795,000 which was a bit below the November rate of 828,000. An estimated 1,166,400 housing units were started in 2016 which is 4.9 percent above the 2015 number. December housing completions were 8.7 percent above December 2015.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) stated that, “Total housing inventory dropped 10.8 percent at the end of December 2016. Its lowest level since NAR began tracking housing supply types in 1999. Housing inventory has fallen for 19 straight months and currently stands at a 3.6-month supply with current sales pace.”

A few more industry experts are saying things like “more than two-thirds of the national markets are seeing less inventory compared to a year ago,” and “the dismal number of listings in the affordable price range is squeezing out first-time home buyers the most” and “tight housing inventory remains a constraining factor limiting sales growth.”

With the lower inventory prices of currently on-market inventory is increasing. If you remember basic economics of supply and demand, you know that when a market item becomes scarce price goes up. This is what seems to be happening in markets across the Nation especially in popular places like here in Greenville SC.

So, if you are thinking about selling to move up or downsize or relocate, now is the time. Interest rates are still low and the President has talked about lessening restrictions on home loans so more buyers can qualify for mortgages. Contact me today for a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) or I can set you up on a Market Snapshot report that will give you an interactive report on current listed homes and homes sales in your neighborhood.

These are just a few of the events for February. For notice on events by day LIKE our Facebook page @VictoriaCottlesCorner.

And remember if you, a friend or family member need assistance with selling or buying a home I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Friday, February 10, 2017

DIY Your Taxes without Missing a Deduction



DIY Your Taxes without Missing a Deduction
This year the filing deadline has been extended to April 18th since the 15th falls on a weekend and that Sunday is Easter. So you are afforded a few extra days this year. So get busy and get your taxes done yourself. Here are some tips on how to do that and not miss any deductions.

1.    Pick the right software program. Unless you qualify to use one of the FREE tax program versions chances are you will be paying for a program. All programs have different versions and they have a “help me choose” wizard to match you with the best version for your circumstances. TurboTax tends to cost a bit more but tax experts like it the best. It is “user-friendly” and walks you through every option based on your answers to their questions. These programs are not fail-safe but are as good as the information you input into it. You can also purchase audit help or additional insurance if you feel things won’t go well.
2.    Be aware of all possible deductions. Get a copy of the Form 1040, the Schedule A and a Schedule C if you own your business. Review these forms and highlight areas where you might be able to a deduction. For example, homeowners can take mortgage interest, property taxes, if buying a new home some closing costs or if you sold a home some of those costs also. The IRS provides Publication 530 as a guideline for deductions connected to owning a home.
3.    FREE tax programs are an option…but you have to meet special criteria such as an adjusted gross income below a specific threshold - most typically $62,200. TurboTax has a FREE option but income threshold is $31,000. H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and TaxACT also have FREE versions. Watch out for other imposed restrictions such as age of your home or state of repair to qualify to use the FREE versions. Also watch for extra costs like being charged to file a state return or charges for customer service support.
4.    Filing an extension might be a good decision. If you find that you are up against the deadline and still not finished you can file an extension. But note these instructions: (1) file the extension before or on April 15th to avoid late filing penalty of 5% of your outstanding balance due each month you fail to file, (2) if you are going to owe money, pay as much as you can by April 15th to avoid getting a late payment penalty of 0.05% interest, (3) make arrangements to complete your taxes and file by October 15th to avoid adding extra interest payments.
5.    E-Filing is better. You have probably already been e-filing but here are the benefits; 24 hours after you e-file you can look at “Where’s My Refund” online to check on your return status and you’ll get your refund back faster. E-filing also cuts down on filing mistakes since most DIY programs have a final check that they run and scour your returns for errors. Answer or review all flagged errors in the program because these are items that will be flagged by the IRS. Snail mail take up to six weeks.

So stop procrastinating and get your taxes at least started if not finished. NOTE: The IRS will begin to release Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit refunds starting February 15. However, these refunds likely won’t arrive in bank accounts or on debit cards until the week of February 27.

These are just a few of the events for February. For notice on events by day LIKE our Facebook page @VictoriaCottlesCorner.

And remember if you, a friend or family member need assistance with selling or buying a home I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.