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Common Mistakes Homeowners Make That Can Really Cost You

Everyone like a bargain and saving money is usually a good thing unless it results in a costly mistake. If you are a homeowner you know that maintaining your home is important to protect your investment. Keeping your home in good repair and up- dating and remodeling are all necessary expenses when you own a home. Sometimes cutting corners on these expenses can actually cost you more in the long run. When you need to call in a professional to make a repair or do some remodeling it is a good idea to get several bids. You want to make sure you aren’t overpaying for the work you need done, but the lowest bid may not always be the best deal. Make sure the bids include both materials and labor, the lowest bid may be a “labor only” bid and could end up being the most expensive once the cost of material is added in. You also want to make sure that you are getting someone that is experienced and knowledgeable about the job they are bidding. Sometimes a more experienced contractor’s bid may seem higher but the job might be done more quickly and with a better quality work which might end up saving you money down the line. Before you begin a remodeling project, do your research. Besides the initial cost to do the job, look at the value it will add to your home. Also give some consideration as to how long you plan on staying in your home. If you have no immediate plans to sell and want to spend $20,000 remodeling your master bath...

What the Proposed Tax Reform Plan Means for Homeowners

Both the House and Senate are currently working on a “Tax Cuts and Job Acts” tax reform plan. The House and the Senate each have a version they are trying to enact and there are many similarities, but also some important differences in these proposals. If you are a homeowner, you should be aware of what is being proposed in these plans. Let’s start with the Senate’s version of tax reform as it relates to homeowners. The proposed legislation retains the current mortgage interest deduction level and doubles the standard deduction. It limits the Capital gains Exemption on the sale of a primary residence and would require a homeowner to live in the property 5 out of 8 years to qualify for the exemption. The current rules only require 2 out of 5 years. This would have a significant impact on anyone who would need to move within 5 years of a purchase. This proposal also would eliminate the interest deduction on home equity loans, all state and local taxes (including property taxes) and moving expenses (unless they are related to the military). The current version of the House’s plan has many things in common with the Senate’s plan: the same change in the Capital Gains Exemption from 2 out of 5 years to 5 out of 8 years, increases the standard deduction, eliminates the deduction for state and local taxes but keeps the property tax deduction limited to $10,000 and eliminates the deduction for moving expenses. In addition, this version seeks to cap the mortgage interest deduction at $500,000 for new mortgages, eliminates the mortgage interest deduction entirely...

Residential Enterprise Zone Approved for Freeport

For the past year and a half, we have been working on getting an extension of the existing enterprise zone in Freeport. The extension is for a residential enterprise zone in a designated area of Freeport which allows benefits for both builders and buyers of new construction. As most of you know that live in Freeport, there has not been any new “spec” residential construction in almost 10 years. As most of you also know, new construction is generally seen as a sign of growth and health in the overall economy of the area- something that has been missing in Freeport. The process was long and required the approval of many. The application process is very involved and dependent on the approval of the taxing bodies involved. Over the past year, presentations were made to the City Council, the County Board, the School Board, the Park District Board and the Board at Highland College. These boards along with Carroll & Jo Daviess counties had to vote to approve the expansion before we could send the application to the State of Illinois for approval. On October 11 we received the final approval from the State for our residential enterprise zone in Freeport! So what exactly does that mean for our area? The enterprise zone allows benefits to be offered to both the builders and the buyers of new homes in the designated area. The builders’ benefits include lower or waived permit fees and sales tax exemptions on certain building materials. The benefit to the home buyer is a property tax abatement on the majority of their property taxes through 2020....

Open House Do’s & Don’ts

Almost everyone has been to an open house at some time in their life. To some people, it is free entertainment on a Sunday afternoon. Other people want to see what the inside of their neighbor’s house looks like or the inside one of those beautiful houses that they can’t afford. And to some people who are looking to buy a home, it is an opportunity to go through several houses in one day and see what might work for them. As a Realtor, I know that everyone that comes to an open house isn’t looking to buy-and that’s ok. An open house is just that-open to the public- but there are still some rules of etiquette that open house attendees should keep in mind. When you are planning on going to see an open house I would ask you to keep two things in mind. First, the Realtor who is holding the open house is working. This is their job. They are taking their Sunday afternoon to market their client’s listing to the public and possibly find a buyer or client in the process. Usually, the Realtor will greet you and introduce himself or herself and ask you to sign in. We are responsible for our clients’ property during an open house and we need to know who is coming and going from the property for security reasons and to be able to tell our owner who came through their home that day. If you do not wish to be contacted, you can say that but please still sign in. If you don’t want to be contacted, make...

Outdoor Remodeling Projects That Pay Off

Now that fall is almost here you may be thinking of tackling some exterior remodeling jobs before winter. If you are thinking of selling your home in the future, which projects pay off the most to potential home buyers should be of interest. Certain remodeling projects can up the appeal of your property to potential buyers and some projects can give you a bigger return on your investment. What is the outdoor project that has both the biggest appeal to potential buyers and offers the best return on investment? According to a survey done by the National Association of Realtors, upgrading your landscape and/or using a professional lawn care service. It is estimated that you can recover 300% of the cost of a lawn service and up to 100% of upgrading your landscape when selling your home. Realtors know the value of curb appeal to potential buyers and often suggest sellers put some money in to upgrading their landscaping before putting their house on the market. The first impression a buyer gets from your home is the exterior. If it has no curb appeal, a buyer won’t be as anxious to see the interior. Next in line for value added for potential buyers is adding a new patio or deck. Potential buyers will see a new patio or deck as additional living space and added value for entertaining. This project not only increases the appeal to buyers, it also adds to the current homeowners’ satisfaction with their home and 51% of home owners say it has increased the enjoyment of their current home. The estimated return on a $10,000...

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