Marianne Belanger's Blog
If there’s one battle that all homeowners fight, it’s the one to get organized in their spaces. There’s a few actions that you can put into play to help you finally get organized once and for all. Follow the tips below to develop your own plan to get organized.
Find Your Focus
If you know the areas of your home that drive you crazy, you’ll know where to start to get organized. Does your entryway get cluttered easily? Is it difficult for you to find things in your kitchen? start in these rooms to be on your way to organizational greatness.
Have A Plan
The first thing that you should do when you’re trying to get your home organized is make a list. This will make your organizing duties much easier if you can see your plan on paper. Decide where you want to start in your home with organization. If you approach your home room by room, the task will be that much less overwhelming for you. Have your priorities set. Which room do you really want to be the first to have some order in it? If you start there, then it will be easier to get moving on the other rooms that need some semblance.
Declutter And Purge
A big part of organizing is decluttering. To reduce the amount of clutter that you have in your home, you’ll need to get rid of some things. As you go through each room, include a donate pile and a throwaway pile. Old things that you aren’t using can either be repurposed or gently trashed. Try to keep the rule that if you haven’t used the item within a year, it’s time for it to go! Plenty of things that you aren’t using can be put to good use by families in need.
It’s important to set goals throughout your organizational process. You don’t want your project to be going on for years with no end in sight. Plan a party, for example, and be sure to get the majority, if not all of your organizational tasks done in a timely manner. You can show off your newly straightened out home to friends. Your home will feel like a new place when you can find everything with ease.
Get Your Storage Under Control
Undoubtedly, you’ll have some things that will need to be stored. To make things easier for yourself, label all of your boxes and keep them in convenient places close to where you’ll need them. Anything that is stored in the attic or the basement should be labeled and put away by by category. All of your Christmas decorations should be in one place and labeled, and so on. As a bonus try to get all of the same colored boxes for each purpose if you can.
Months of searching, attending open houses, and viewing available homes finally paid off. You’ve found the perfect property in the perfect neighborhood for the perfect price. You’re ready to make an offer. Then, it happens, you get the dreaded call from your agent telling you there are multiple offers on the property. How does that happen?
Reasons for Multiple Offers
Re-marketing. Remember, the listing agent has the legal and fiduciary duty to the seller to seek the highest price possible. Not only does the higher offer pay the agent more, but it also gives the seller more to work with. As the listing nears its expiration, the agent has an incentive to market it more aggressively so that they can earn their commission. That means more open house events, changes to the listing to bring it back into focus even if it’s been on the market for a while, and other marketing tools.
Inventory shifts continuously. That means at any given moment, fewer houses on the market puts the home you want on more buyers’ radars. Even a house they looked past a month ago might interest them today. This is especially true when you use narrow search parameters because everyone else using those parameters sees the exact same homes.
Buyer demographics align. If you chose to wait until the end of summer, or after the holidays for family reasons, the chances are high that a bunch of other folks did as well. If you’re an empty-nester and waited for fall to start looking, so did other buyers in similar life situations. They’ll like the same things about it that you like.
New listings. Buyers that have lost out to multiple offers in the past now know better than to “sleep on it” when they see a new house available that fits their needs. The typical multiple-offer scenario happens within the first two weeks of a listing reaching the market. This is true particularly if the home is priced right, has curb appeal and desired upgrades or renovations in a preferred neighborhood.
Pocket listings. A so-called “pocket listing” is when a seller’s agent knows a home is going on the market but is not yet listed, and it that appeals to certain buyers to whom they give the head’s up. Some pocket “buyers” ask for notification when there’s another offer. Since the listing agent represents this buyer, there’s nothing stopping their agent from helping them present a better offer than yours. Ask your agent to learn if the other offer is from a client of the listing agent since it makes a difference in how you craft a counteroffer. Options include increasing your offer, your agent could reduce their commission, closing without contingencies, etc.
Trust your agent’s advice on preparing a counteroffer and whether submitting a personal letter with the offer is a promising idea. In some cases, it’s about the bottom line; but in others, it’s an emotional decision to sell a home.
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In a nutshell, if you have owned a home for five years and lived in it for at least two out of five years, or if you’ve owned the house for two years and lived in it the entire time, a single person has a $250,000 tax exemption. If you are married, as a couple, you have a $500,000 exemption. Any gains over those amounts are taxable. You should always discuss the sale of your home with a tax attorney, especially if you used the house for business or rented it out, as you may not be able to take the exemption on homes used for business or as a rental.
Figuring the Tax
Before you can estimate how much tax you might owe, you need to calculate the cost basis for the property. Figure the tax by completing these steps:
Figure the Cost Basis
Add the price you paid for the property to the cost of any significant improvements. Subtract any casualty and theft losses, closing costs you paid when you bought the house and allowable depreciation. You might be able to subtract some closing costs. If you inherited the property, the initial investment is the fair market value on the date of the death of the person who willed the house to you.
For gifted properties, if there is a gain, you use the donor’s adjusted basis in the cost basis equation. If there is a loss, the cost basis is the fair market value on the date you received the property as a gift or the donor’s adjusted basis, whichever is less.
Figure the Capital Gain
Once you have the cost basis, subtract it from the sale price of the house. For example, if you paid $500,000 for your home and you are now selling it for $1,000,000, you have a capital gain of $500,000. If you are single, you will pay tax on $250,000. If you are married, the exclusion is $500,000, which wipes out the $500,000 profit.
Reducing the Tax Owed
You may be able to use the Section 1031 exchange if you are selling a home used for business or that was rented out as long as you buy another house for business or to rent out. The new purchase cannot be for personal use and the exchange must be for “like-kind.”
The regulations for a Section 1031 exchange are limited and may be confusing. Always retain a tax lawyer or accountant to help you with your taxes, especially if you are buying and selling an investment property. If you are selling a million dollar plus home and you use it as your personal residence, you should still contact a tax lawyer. Depending on your finances, the tax lawyer may be able to help you avoid some of the tax.
We live in the 21st century and the age of technology, this we know. But, what some sellers still do not realize is the importance of properly staged and well taken photos. The photos that you place online with your home’s listing can make or break a buyer’s interest. If you do not feel confident in your own ability to take the photos then you may want to consider hiring a photographer. However, if you feel capable of taking the photos that will be a buyer’s first look, then review the pointers below.
1. Proper lighting: Proper lighting when taking photos is essential. The lighting can completely alter the look of a home; a poorly lit room can look older and smaller than it actually is. To avoid this, try taking photos during the daytime when there is plenty of natural light, but when the sun is not beating into the room as it can cause shadows. The natural light is an ideal situation, as different lightbulbs give off different levels and color of light.
2. Avoid blurry photos: Posting out of focus photos to your listing is asking for a buyer to overlook your home. They are not only uncomplimentary but detrimental to a buyer’s interest. Make sure to keep the camera or phone (only high-end phones) steady and have proper lighting when taking the photos. It would be best to utilize a tripod or a stabilizer, if you have access to one.
3. Choose your angles wisely: All too often photos are shot up close on a feature in the room. This does not give the buyer an accurate depiction of what the room truly looks like. It’s hard to tell its size and its shape. Try standing in a doorway or inside of a closet, so you are able to photograph most of the room. But, be sure not to use a wide-angle camera lens, as it can distort the room and give buyers a false pretense of its size.
4. Remove clutter: Taking photos of your home for your online listing while there is clutter all over is not the best way to showcase your home. It will make your rooms look smaller and be harder for one to visualize his/her belongings in that space.
5. Remove personal items: When selling your home, you want buyers to be able to envision themselves living there. It’s important to remove overly personal items for open houses and it’s also important to do so when taking photographs of your home.
These are just a couple pointers for taking photos that peak buyers’ interests in your home. If you are very inexperienced in photography,be sure to do additional research, so you are taking the best photos possible.And again, if you’re unsure of your ability, it might be best to leave it to the professional—as a first impression is everything.