6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Take Your Home Off the Market for the Holidays

6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Take Your Home Off the Market for the Holidays

‘Tis the Season to Sell: 6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Take Your Home Off the Market for the Holidays

 

As we careen at warp speed toward Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all of the joyous festivities in between, you might be tempted to take your home off the market—or hold off on listing it—until after the new year. After all, you’re swamped with cooking, shopping, and decorating, and the last thing you need is a bunch of potential buyers traipsing through your house, right?

Wrong. It’s a big mistake to either remove your home from the market during the holiday season, or to not put your home on the market if you’re getting ready to sell.

Why? The first reason is painfully obvious: Your house can’t actually sell if it’s off the market. Leaving your home on the market is the right choice. Sure, people are busy, but wouldn’t you rather see people in your house when it’s messy with baking in the kitchen than miss the house? Let somebody else take their house off the market and miss out!

In fact, this time of year can actually be ideal for selling. Here’s why.

1. Your listing will rise to the top

If homeowners in your hood take a break from the market because they don’t want to bother keeping their properties in show-ready condition over the holidays, that makes for reduced inventory. And that means buyers who are actively searching will be more likely to uncover your listing.

During the busy spring market, for example, you have way more competition than during the holidays. So you’re much more likely to get your home sold when you’re not competing with more potential sellers.

2. Your house looks (and smells) amazing during the holidays

With festive greenery, the sweet aroma of cookies baking, and a warm fire in the hearth, you’ve got built-in ambiance—meaning you can appeal to buyers’ senses in a way that you can’t during other times of the year. With that nice, homey feeling, homes tend to show a lot better during the holidays, while making people feel really good. Plus, chances are good you’ll tap into some buyer sentimentality: During the holidays, we tend to feel nostalgic about family, home, and memories. That can cause a nesting instinct to kick in—and that often results in a sale.

Don’t go overboard with decorations, though. Even though it’s the holidays, you still don’t want too much clutter. And remember: Buyers need to imagine their furniture in each room, so avoid blocking important selling features such as large windows and fireplace mantels. And if you live in a colder climate, be sure walkways and stairs are always shoveled clean, and turn your thermostat up before each showing to keep things toasty. When you walk in and it’s warm and cozy, that helps in the selling process.

3. Holiday buyers aren’t messing around

Yes, things typically slow down in the weeks leading up to the holidays. But there are still people actively looking for homes and ready to pounce—or those who just entered the market on a short timeline and need to buy fast.

The people who are out there looking at homes during the holidays are serious buyers. And in areas where you have bad weather, these buyers are going to weather the storms—pun intended—to visit your property. Potential buyers who take the time to set up home tours during the holiday season are also more motivated to move forward if they like what they see. These are not tire-kickers just looking around because it’s fun; those are all weeded out.

4. Families often search during school breaks

Speaking of serious buyers: Relocating families often capitalize on the holidays as a time to move without tumult on the kids. They want to find the right property, have stress-free negotiations, and get their brood settled before school starts up again in January. It’s a good time to show your house to people from out of town.

5. It can be easier to close a transaction in December

Buyers can often get their loans processed and approved faster in November or December than they would in the traditionally busy spring months. It all comes down to the holiday slowdown: Fewer home sales are on deck to process, plus lenders are motivated to close deals before the end of the year.

6. The holidays give you a chance to adjust your selling strategy

If your home’s been languishing on the market for several weeks—or months (eek!)—you might be feeling antsy. Maybe the best solution is to take it off the market and try again after the new year.

Fight the urge! You’re better off staying the course and using this slow time to tweak your selling strategy. Would home staging draw in buyers? Do you need to tackle that paint job you’d been putting off? Should you reassess your asking price?

Generally, the reason a house does not sell is because it’s not priced right, and if it’s been sitting on the market, nothing will change over a 30-day period if you’re pricing it the same. You’re much better off getting the price in line with where it should be, and leaving it on through the holidays.

 

 

If you are on the fence about listing your home this season, call me, let me walk you through your options. I’d love to talk to you personally about your real estate needs.  Norma – 469-450-2559

5 Tips When Buying a Newly Constructed Home

5 Tips When Buying a Newly Constructed Home

5 Tips When Buying a Newly Constructed Home

The lack of existing inventory for sale has forced many homebuyers to begin looking at new construction. When you buy a newly constructed home instead of an existing home, there are many extra steps that must take place.

To ensure a hassle-free process, here are 5 tips to keep in mind if you are considering new construction:

1. Hire an Inspector

Despite the fact that builders must comply with town and city regulations, a home inspector will have your best interests in mind! When buying new construction, you will have between 1-3 inspections, depending on your preference (the foundation inspection, the pre-drywall inspection, and a final inspection).

These inspections are important because the inspector will often notice something that the builder missed. If possible, attend the inspection so that you can ask questions about your new home and make sure the builder fixes any problems found by the inspector.

2. Maintain good communication with your builder

Starting with the pre-construction meeting (where you will go over all the details of your home with your project manager), establish a line of communication. For example, will the builder email you every Friday with progress updates? If you are an out-of-state buyer, will you receive weekly pictures of the progress via email? Can you call the builder and if so, how often? How often can you visit the site?

3. Look for builder’s incentives

The good thing about buying a new home is that you can add the countertop you need, the mudroom you want, or an extra porch off the back of your home! However, there is always a price for such additions, and they add up quickly!

Some builders offer incentives that can help reduce the amount you spend on your home. Do your homework and see what sort of incentives the builders in your area are offering.

4. Schedule extra time into the process

There are many things that can impact the progress on your home. One of these things is the weather, especially if you are building in the fall and winter. Rain can delay the pouring of a foundation as well as other necessary steps at the beginning of construction, while snow can freeze pipes and slow your timeline.

Most builders already have a one-to-two-week buffer added into their timelines, but if you are also in the process of selling your current home, you must keep that in mind! Nobody wants to be between homes for a couple of weeks.

5. Visit the site often

As we mentioned earlier, be sure to schedule time with your project manager at least once a week to see the progress on your home. It’s easy for someone who is not there all the time to notice little details that the builder may have forgotten or overlooked. Additionally, don’t forget to take pictures! You might need them later to see exactly where that pipe is or where those electrical connections are once they’re covered up with drywall!

Bottom Line

Watching your home come to life is a wonderful experience that can sometimes come with hassles. To avoid some of these headaches, keep these tips in mind!

If you are ready to put your current home on the market and find out what new construction is available in your area, let’s get together to discuss your options!

Like your mother always told you, don’t play with fire!

Like your mother always told you, don’t play with fire!

FIREPLACE INSPECTION:

Like your mother always told you, you don’t ever want to play with fire.

 

Fireplaces should be inspected and/or swept once a year to prevent fire damage and to keep your home safe.

To be sure that all of your systems are in working order and operating as they should, it is recommended that homeowners get an annual chimney inspection. The specialist will generally open and adjust your damper, caulk the flashing on the roof if needed, and clean & adjust the fireplace screens & doors. They will also generally check the condition of the chimney spark arrestor and clean the fire chamber. Most chimney sweep companies will put you on an annual inspection plan once you work with them. During this inspection they will tell you if it’s time to sweep. Many homeowners opt to have a chimney cleaning done every year as well at this time, especially if they use their fireplace on a regular basis.

Don’t delay, get your fireplace inspection scheduled before the cold weather hits!

Can You Get an Income Tax Break if You Own Multiple Homes in the U.S.?

Can You Get an Income Tax Break if You Own Multiple Homes in the U.S.?

For those of you who own multiple properties – vacation homes, lake homes, second homes, rental properties – real estate taxes can become an issue. Here is a brief discussion on real estate taxes to take to your tax accountant or attorney when you prepare for this years taxes:

 

Are there any income tax benefits to owning multiple homes in the U.S.?

Extra residences are not often a huge benefit or tax haven for investments, according to William Kambas, a partner at Withers, an international law firm with offices around the world.

Property taxes are due on each property, but owners can save when filing their federal income taxes. For starters, state and local property taxes on second homes are still deductible from one’s federal income returns, according to Mark Stone, a partner at New York City-based firm Holland & Knight.

The same goes for mortgages, although the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 limited both of these. (The tax changes are in effect for the period between Dec. 31, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2025, although Congress is considering making them permanent.)

That means $10,000 of one’s combined property taxes for all residences is deductible, he said. However, keep in mind that state and local income taxes are also included in that bucket. And up to $750,000 in mortgage interest, again, for one an owner’s principal residence and one additional residence is also deductible.

For rental properties, there are additional tax benefits, Mr. Kambas said. To qualify, the home must be rented out for more than 14 days a year, or 10% of the total days it is rented, whichever is greater. So if an owner spends 30 days a year at a residence, he or she must rent it for 300 days or more to qualify for the deductions, according the IRS.

Then, “the expenses of doing business will be deductible,” he said. That includes travel to do work on the home or to show it, costs of advertising the property and other activities that benefit the business.

Maintenance, cleaning, professional fees and insurance, utilities and common charges are also deductible, Mr. Kambas added.

If owners are operating multiple homes as a business, they are likely eligible for a 20% qualified business income deduction. The company needs to be set up as a sole proprietorship or through a limited liability company, partnership, S corporation, trust or estate, according to the IRS.

LLCs are most commonly used by real estate investors. Those businesses do not pay income taxes; the tax is instead passed through to the owner or owners of the company. For individuals with less than $157,500 of income (or less than $315,000 of income for couples), there is a 20% deduction. So the owner ends up only being taxed on 80% of the income from that business.

For those with a higher income, the taxes are a bit more complicated. Individuals making more than $207,500 ($415,000 for couples), can deduct either the lesser of 20% of the qualified business income, or the greater of 50% of the W-2 wages paid from the business; or 25% of the W-2 wages paid from the business, plus 2.5% of the unadjusted basis of the qualified property, according to the IRS.

Either way, the owner is taxed at his or her individual rate, not the corporate rate.

Many real estate investors buy property under an LLC for that reason, but Mr. Kambas warned that it is a “highly scrutinized area by the IRS.”

 

Article originally published by Mansion Global 2018.

Why not turn a family activity into a tradition? 12 fun ideas!

Why not turn a family activity into a tradition? 12 fun ideas!

Why not turn a family activity into a tradition? Check out these12 fun ideas!

Incorporating a family ritual into your regular routine can be fun and end up being a tradition that will last for years. Traditions make memories your children will cherish for years to come and create family bonds that will last a lifetime.
  1. Family video night. Rent a movie, order in a pizza, make popcorn. Agree to something the whole family wants to watch (and is appropriate for teens and younger children). Make it an event around a special occasion like a child’s birthday or a special family movie.
  2. Pumpkin Carving. Make an event out of going to the local pumpkin patch and picking out individual pumpkins for each member of the family to take back and carve up for the Autumn season. Make it a contest of skill and creativity where everyone is a winner!
  3. Sharing the Sunday newspaper over a special breakfast. This is a ritual with Mom and Dad in mind. Do you still get the Sunday Newspaper? Read a particular comic or opt ed that can entertain and inform the entire family. Then dig in to a family style brunch at your favorite restaurant or at the family table.
  4. Buy a special dessert to transform dinner into an occasion, and not just on birthdays, wedding anniversaries and graduations. Celebrate family members’ achievements. An unexpected high grade on a test at school or a promotion at work deserves a cake—with candles and an inscription. Be creative!
  5. Spiritual pursuits bring many families together, whether it’s attending services or saying grace or toasting together at the dinner table.
  6. Sit around together flipping through old photo albums or watching vintage family videos and home movies. You’ll relive fond memories and give one another hiccups laughing at the sight of certain members’ now-outdated hairstyles and assorted fashion faux pas. “Wow, Dad: Really nice leisure suit.”
  7. Take a car ride. Where? Anywhere. Take the slow, scenic route and stop off at whatever looks interesting. Plan a special weekend outing during the Autumn season to see and photograph the beautiful foliage.
  8. Go bowling together. Golf and miniature golf are two other examples of individual sports that you can do together. Perhaps you have a family league or summer miniature golf events that you can repeat every year.
  9. Build a fire in the fireplace, or at a camping ground, or on the beach, and share stories. Why not have a “first lighting” of the fireplace event complete with hot chocolate and sweet snacks!
  10. Cook dinner together, with each member of the family taking part. Wednesday cook night, where every family member has an assigned task to help mom and / or dad prepare “hump-day” dinner
  11. Play board games, cards, dominoes and so on. Pop popcorn, or set out veggies and hummus for a competitive round of family games.
  12. Communal chores or collaborating on a household project can be a lot of fun. How about Saturday clean up once a month? Assign indoor and outdoor activities to clean and organize then end it with a special pizza party!

The ideas are endless to plan activities and events for your family to celebrate being a family! Think outside the box, add it to the calendar and make a plan. These moments will be remembered and talked about for generations!

2 Factors to Watch in Today’s Real Estate Market Whether Buying or Selling

2 Factors to Watch in Today’s Real Estate Market Whether Buying or Selling

 

When it comes to buying or selling a home there are many factors you should consider. Where you want to live, why you want to buy or sell, and who will help you along your journey are just some of those factors. When it comes to today’s real estate market, though, the top two factors to consider are what’s happening with interest rates & inventory.

Interest Rates

Mortgage interest rates have been on the rise and are now over three-quarters of a percentage point higher than they were at the beginning of the year. According to Freddie Mac’s latestPrimary Mortgage Market Survey, rates climbed to 4.72% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage last week.

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a $400,000 home while keeping your principal and interest payments between $2,020-$2,050 a month.

 

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be over 5% by this time next year.

Inventory

A ‘normal’ real estate market requires there to be a 6-month supply of homes for sale in order for prices to increase only with inflation. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), listing inventory is currently at a 4.3-month supply (still well below the 6-months needed), which has put upward pressure on home prices. Home prices have increased year-over-year for the last 78 straight months.

The inventory of homes for sale in the real estate market had been on a steady decline and experienced year-over-year drops for 36 straight months (from July 2015 to May 2018), but we are starting to see a shift in inventory over the last three months.

The chart below shows the change in housing supply over the last 12 months compared to the previous 12 months. As you can see, in June, July, and August, inventory levels have started to increase as compared to the same time last year.

This is a trend to watch as we move further into the fall and winter months. If we continue to see an increase in homes for sale, we could start moving further away from a seller’s market and closer to a normal market.

Bottom Line

If you are planning to enter the housing market, either as a buyer or a seller, let’s get together to discuss the changes in mortgage interest rates and inventory and what they could mean for you.

The 5 Interior Design Rules You Should Never, Ever Break

The 5 Interior Design Rules You Should Never, Ever Break

The 5 Interior Design Rules You Should Never, Ever Break

Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Always do this. Rules, rules, rules. Where’s the fun in that? I definitely think you should design and decorate your home the way you want. But adhering to just a few simple mandates brings order to the chaos, and more luxurious, simple beauty.

When you walk into rooms that are designed using specific principles—geometry, proportion, scale, pattern—you feel relaxed and at ease. As humans, we thrive on order, and that’s what good design is—using rules to make sense out of what is otherwise random.

Once you know the rules, you can play with them.

For most people, there’s an art to the way the eye sees design in terms of color, shape, texture, and proportion. First you have to understand it, and as you get more confident in applying those rules, you can really have some fun.

These timeless principles prove that “rule” doesn’t have to be a four-letter word.

Rule No. 1: Layer your lighting

Unless you’re going for the feel and comfort of an interrogation room, make sure you’ve distributed light equally around your room. Start by considering natural light sources—which can be maximized and accentuated with mirrors for a full-room glow—and fill in any blanks with a combination of lamps, wall sconce lighting, and overhead fixtures.

But never rely on a single source—especially if it’s overhead lighting.

Layered lighting is the best way to set the emotional tone of a space. One source of lighting will always struggle to carry an entire room.

Rule No. 2: Keep your base neutral

Put away the paintbrushes dripping with statement colors. It might sound boring, but plenty of designers agree—painting with neutrals is a smart way to ensure that your space ages nicely and doesn’t drive you crazy before you’re ready (or have the budget) to switch things up.

We’re so inundated with different design options these days, and keeping a neutral base makes it easy to keep the room looking timeless. If you’re craving color, express yourself with art and accessories—not paint.

Rule No. 3: Avoid matching furniture

Furnishing a room is not a vacation package, so take a pass on the all-included furniture bundles (you know the ones: sofa, loveseat, end tables, coffee table, recliner, and lamps for one low price).

And even if you’re not buying a full-meal deal, steer clear of the matchy-matchy trap by mixing furniture styles. Go for an 80/20 formula, in which the majority of the furniture is the same style and the remainder represents a different era or design trend.

If everything in your house is traditional wood furniture, it can get boring pretty fast – throw in a few surprising wildcard pieces of a completely different style, that makes it fresh and gives the room some soul.

Rule No. 4: Pile on different textures

Got a thing for pretty, shiny objects? We get it. But everything that sparkles is not going to make for a well-designed room. You’ve got to mix things up. That means making sure your bedroom isn’t just a sea of silky fabrics, sequins, and mercury glass.

Every room should have five textures: shiny, matte, smooth, flat, rough – start there. Adding an array of textures always makes a room look more expensive.

Rule No. 5: Decorate in odd numbers

It’s well-worn advice, but it’s still worth repeating. The “Rule of Three,” which holds that anything presented or arranged in odd numbers is inherently more engaging and interesting, is sacred in the design field (and in marketing, advertising, education, and a host of other disciplines).

Following this rule can mean the difference between a polished space and one with a ho-hum, amateur vibe.

When it comes to accessorizing furniture like side tables and shelving, pairing things in groups of three is a timeless standard. Try arrangements with odd-number groupings. They will always look more appealing to the eye than those with an even number.

Article originally published by Heather Donahoe on Realtor.com.
Keeping Up With Your Home This Fall : 3 Important Tasks

Keeping Up With Your Home This Fall : 3 Important Tasks

Keeping Up With Your Home This Fall : 3 Important Tasks

We are heading straight for Autumn here in DFW and you know what that means! Time to take care of some very important maintenance tasks on your home. So break out a cold one and turn on your big screen TV for some football this weekend and get busy!

GUTTER CLEANING:

Gutters need to be cleared of leaves and debris that may have accumulated in order to function properly. Clogged gutters can wreak havoc on your roof, siding, and foundation. These repairs can be extremely expensive.

Many homeowners opt into a service contract with a gutter cleaning company that schedules twice a year. We recommend these plans because they are typically affordable and there is potential danger involved with accessing the gutters on many homes. Generally these specialists will get up on a ladder and check & clear the gutters & downspouts of debris. Clearing them can often be challenging due to baked on foliage (spring) or frozen leaves (winter) attached to the insides of the channels, so if you are doing this yourself, make sure you have a good ladder and a spotter helping you out. Water is generally run through the system after the channels are cleared. Make sure that all of your downspouts are extended away from the foundation at the ground level. Often, it may be necessary to regrade your soil in some spots so that all water is directed away from your home.

FURNACE MAINTENANCE:

Annual furnace maintenance is mandatory for ensuring its optimal working condition. A poorly maintained and/or inefficient furnace could be costing you huge amounts of money and could prove to be a safety risk.

We highly recommend that annual service be completed by a certified HVAC or other heating specialist. Some of the main things they should do in this annual service include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Replacing the furnace’s air filter
  2. Cleaning its burners
  3. Clearing vent lines
  4. Checking for any small leaks
  5. Cleaning its exterior
  6. Monitoring its efficiency and performance


ATTIC INSPECTION:

The attic is an integral part of your home that needs to be visually inspected annually. Problematic attics can lead to health hazards and/or expensive repairs mostly caused by water or mold damage. Inspecting an attic doesn’t take long and requires almost no specialized expertise.

The main thing you should be looking for are signs of water damage. Is any wood warped or water stained? Are there any wood surfaces that are cracked or sagging? If the answer to either of these is “yes”, you should contact a roofing/attic specialist immediately. Water seepage is akin to slow acting poison for a home’s structure. Pay special attention to areas around chimneys, roof vents, and sky lights for signs of water damage as they are often quite vulnerable. Proper ventilation is also key in an attic. If there are any roof vents, blockages caused by nests or leaves are common. Make sure to clear these out by hand. Furthermore, make sure that all of the pipes and ductwork that run through the attic are properly connected and are correctly venting to the outside. If you have an attic fan, test that it’s functioning properly.

There is a lot more to take care of your home after a hot and active summer, winterizing your home and yard is next on the agenda…. stay tuned for more this fall and enjoy the season!

 

 

The ABC’s Of House Flipping

The ABC’s Of House Flipping

The ABC’s Of House Flipping

While house flipping can be very lucrative, you can lose everything with one bad decision. It’s important to approach this profession with caution and educate yourself as much as possible.

Before you even dream of entering this field, you have to be great with your hands or at the very least well versed on the topic of trades and renovations. You should also have a feel for the market. The last thing you want is all your profits sunk because you bought at the wrong time. It’s not as fun and easy as it looks on TV. This is a job that is not only very stressful but requires a lot of hard work.

It goes without saying that you need investment capital and excellent credit before embarking on a project of this magnitude. This step-by-step guide will set you in the right direction, but it’s important to remember that this isn’t an exact science. Never be complacent and always stay on your toes.

1. Scouting Homes

The most typical way to find homes is through the regular channels, finding a real estate agent, searching online, etc. However it’s important to be patient, always look out for the right deal.

The best bang for your buck is foreclosed homes. Make a habit of routinely checking the Internet for new foreclosed homes. Once you find one that looks good, never buy it on a whim. Always see it in person and bring an inspector.

2. Timing

The real estate market is generally steady, but there can be significant fluctuations from time to time. The last thing you want is to be a victim of these fluctuations. The most important thing to take into consideration when scouting a new home is locations. The better the location, the easier to flip. Selling fast mitigates the risk of these fluctuations. It’s also important to have great relationships with contractors so you don’t get caught with them dragging their feet.

3. What to look for in a house

It’s important not to purchase a potential tear down. What you’re looking for is a home that is structurally sound and only requires cosmetic upgrades. That’s why it’s important to have an inspector to verify that there is no mold or asbestos and that the wiring is sound. You also have to ensure that it’s built on a solid foundation.

4. Which renovations to focus on

As mentioned in step 3 you want a house that only requires cosmetic renovations, structural ones are very pricey. Even when narrowing it down to cosmetic, make sure you are focussing on cosmetics that will actually increase the value of the house. For example, installing a swimming pool is very costly and while it attracts more buyers, it won’t make you any extra money.

The most important room to focus on is upgrading the kitchen. Fresh tiles, a new backsplash, and marble or granite counter tops are essential. It’s also vital that you upgrade the appliances to stainless steel.

Other essential renovations include upgrading the bathrooms, installing fresh hardwood floors and fresh paint of course. Be sure not to neglect painting and landscaping the outside of the house to increase curb appeal.

5. Flip

Once you’ve located a sound house in a good location and finished all the renovations, flipping it should be a cinch. Also, it’s a good idea to be proactive and look for buyers before the project is complete.

Pool Closing Best Practices for Homeowners

Pool Closing Best Practices for Homeowners

When you bought the house with the pool, it looked like it was going to be all fun in the sun and splishin’ and-a splashin’, but now that the first signs of fall are appearing (the emergence of Pumpkin Spice signals just six more weeks of summer), it’s time to figure out how to protect that pool through the winter.

Before You Start Closing, Consider the Climate

Depending on where you live, you may need to take further or lesser measures to protect your pool through the winter. Your goal, ultimately, is to keep that pool and its systems from experiencing any sort of freezing. A frozen pipe, a frozen filter, anything like that could be a very expensive replacement in the spring when you open your pool again.

If you know for a fact that it never gets below 50 degrees Fahrenheit where you live, for example, you might not want to close your pool all the way. But, if it freezes frequently and there’s lots of snow, well, you’re going to have to break out bigger firepower. Living here in DFW, we are a little bit inbetween, it may or may not freeze or snow, but you want to be prepared! This meant as a general guide to pool closing, that being said, your mileage may vary.

Pool Closing Made Easy

Closing a pool isn’t that big of a deal if you have all the right tools and materials on hand. It can be a complicated situation, though, because of all the parts that you’ll need to check as you go. Take your time, keeping in mind the risk of freezing in your area versus the cost to replace the frozen component, and you’ll be ok.

These are the necessary basic steps to closing a pool in a middling sort of climate like here in DFW:

Step 1: Deep clean your pool. Vacuum the entire pool, brush the walls, skim the surface, remove any and all debris. This way you’re starting fresh again in the spring.

Step 2: Test the water. Check that your pool is properly balanced before you put it to bed. This means a pH between 7.2 and 7.8 and alkalinity between 80 and 120 parts per million. If you’re running toward the high sides of these ranges, that’s ok. Check the hardness, too, since calcium deposits can form in your equipment over time.

Step 3: Shock the pool. Shocking the pool right before closing will help it stay as clean as possible over the winter. A 15 minute fast dissolving shock treatment is absolutely fine since you won’t be using the pool again. If you have chronic algae problems, a winter algaecide will be a good addition. Use the same dose as is listed on the bottle for opening the pool.

OPTIONAL: Many pool owners skip the manual adjustments and use a winter closing kit to prepare their water for the long dark march of winter. If you choose to go this way, read the instructions carefully. Some require you run the filter, others do not.

Step 4: Time to plug it up. Remove the eyeball fitting on your return line and plug it with an appropriate plug. Remove the skimmer basket and put it into storage. You can leave the skimmer in the pool if you use a winter skimmer cover to protect it from accumulating water. With a skimmer cover, you can also leave more water in the pool, rather than having to drain the pool below the skimmer level.

Step 5: Protecting the moving parts. The pump, chlorinator and all the hoses (including the skimmer hose) need to be drained and brought inside to prolong their lives and protect them from the cold. Filters should also be winterized according to the type you have installed and kept indoors.

Step 6: Put the cover on. Start by inflating your air pillow, then tossing it toward the middle of your pool. If you have a hard pool cover or are otherwise concerned about the water level, this is a good time to lower it a bit. Cover the pool and, when needed, install a winter cover pump to keep water from accumulating on the pool’s cover.

That’s all there is to it! You can totally do this — piece of cake.

The REAL Story Behind Wearing White – Or Not – After Labor Day

The REAL Story Behind Wearing White – Or Not – After Labor Day

Photo above of Coco Chanel in her signature WHITE suit.

 

Can White Be Worn After Labor Day?: A Consensus
No one follows this age-old rule anymore—thank god.

Sure, there’s a heat wave happening right now, but before you know it, you’ll be packing away your sundresses and espadrilles to make room for chunky sweaters and over-the-knee boots. But do you need to ship your cream-colored skirts and ivory pants off to storage? Yes, we’re referring to the age-old question, “Can I wear white after Labor Day?” The short answer: Yes! In fact, the story behind this arbitrary dress code is unconvincingly feeble.

The history: In the late 19th century—long before you could wear jeans to a Michelin-starred restaurant—the society ladies were engaged in an invisible battle with the nouveau riche, one that could only be won by the subtle manipulation of fashion.

The “you can’t wear white after Labor Day,” rule was created to separate the old money elitists from the new money group. “It [was] insiders trying to keep other people out,” according to Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, in an interview with Time, “and outsiders trying to climb in by proving they know the rules.”

For those who had money and could leave the city during warmer months, white was considered vacation attire. “If you look at any photograph of any city in America in the 1930s, you’ll see people in dark clothes,” Charlie Scheips, author of American Fashion, has said. ” Meanwhile, white linen suits and Panama hats were considered the “look of leisure.”

Some etiquette authorities like Judith Martin, rebuff this class theory, however, saying, “There are always people who want to attribute everything in etiquette to snobbery. There were many little rules that people did dream up in order to annoy those from whom they wished to disassociate themselves. But I do not believe this is one of them.”

The true reason could be much simpler: After Labor Day, the first Monday of September, became a federal holiday in 1894, it came to mark the end of summer. Vacationers packed away their breezy white dresses and linen button-downs in favor of darker-hued clothing, like navy suits and gray sweaters. “There used to be a much clearer sense of re-entry,” explained Steele. “You’re back in the city, back at school, back doing whatever you’re doing in the fall—and so you have a new wardrobe.”

Regardless of how this subjective rule really came about, no one in 2018 should feel the need to follow it. So pull out your white pieces to wear on or after Labor Day Weekend—you can do whatever you please.

 

 

Article originally published by MarieClaire.com.

MILLIONAIRE TO MILLENNIALS: OWNING YOUR HOME CAN HELP YOU RETIRE SOONER!

MILLIONAIRE TO MILLENNIALS: OWNING YOUR HOME CAN HELP YOU RETIRE SOONER!

Millionaire To Millennials: Owning Your Home Can Help You Retire Sooner!

 

In a CNBC article, self-made millionaire David Bach explained that: “Buying a home is the escalator to wealth in America. Homeownership can also help you retire early, that is, if you pay your mortgage off.

Bach suggests that homebuyers should, “Take out a 30-year mortgage, but with the intention of paying it off in 25, 20 or ideally, 15 years.”

How does he suggest you do this? Here’s the secret:

“…If you were paying $1,000 a month, now you’re going to make $1,100 payments every month. Inform the bank that you are doing this and that you want the extra $100 a month to be applied to the principal (not the interest).”

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO YOUR MORTGAGE?

Bach explains that, “If you keep this up, you’ll wind up paying off your 30-year mortgage in about 25 years. Increase your monthly payment by 20 percent, and you’ll have that mortgage retired in about 22 years.”

BOTTOM LINE

Whenever a well-respected millionaire gives investment advice, people usually clamor to hear it. This millionaire gave simple advice – buy a home and pay off your mortgage early so that you can retire sooner with the money you will have saved.

 

Homebuyers Willing to Sacrifice ‘Must-Haves’ in Favor of Good School Districts

Homebuyers Willing to Sacrifice ‘Must-Haves’ in Favor of Good School Districts

 

Homebuyers Willing to Sacrifice ‘Must-Haves’ in Favor of Good School Districts

It should come as no surprise that buying a home in a good school district is important to homebuyers. According to a report from Realtor.com, 86% of 18-34 year-olds and 84% of those aged 35-54 indicated that their home search areas were defined by school district boundaries.

What is surprising, however, is that 78% of recent homebuyers sacrificed features from their “must-have”lists in order to find homes within their dream school districts.

The top feature sacrificed was a garage at 19%, followed closely by a large backyard, an updated kitchen, the desired number of bedrooms, and an outdoor living area. The full results are shown in the graph below.

 

Buyers are attracted to schools with high test scores, accelerated academic programs, art and music programs, diversity, and before and after-school programs.

With a limited number of homes available to buy in today’s real estate market, competition is fierce for homes in good school districts. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for Realtor.com, explained further,

“Most buyers understand that they may not be able to find a home that covers every single item on their wish list, but our survey shows that school districts are an area where many buyers aren’t willing to compromise.

For many buyers and not just buyers with children, ‘location, location, location,’ means ‘schools, schools, schools.’” (emphasis added)

Bottom Line

For buyers across the country, the quality of their children’s (or future children’s) education ranks highest on their must-have lists. Before you start the search for your next home, meet with me and let me  explain the market conditions in your area.

Dallas Continues to Make BoomTown List

Dallas Continues to Make BoomTown List

Dallas and 4 other Texas metros make the top 15 in the new list of U.S. boomtowns

The story of the United States is the story of people migrating to different cities and towns to build new lives through new opportunities. From the promise of gold to the promise of big tech in Northern California; from trading furs to building cars in Detroit; from the prosperity of shipping to the prosperity of hospitality in Charleston, the country is built on boomtowns…  and Dallas is one of them!

With all the construction cranes on the highway and business relocations to the area, it’s no surprise that Dallas has ended up on a new list of the country’s biggest boomtowns. But why all the continued growth and interest?

Texas is obviously on fire, and people love coming here, maybe it’s our salsa! Seriously though, there are three good reasons why Dallas is a boomtown:

1 – Growing industry – business is booming

2 – More people and housing – people are coming and we are keeping up!

3 – Growing workforce and employment opportunities – it’s a good place to work and make a living

In fact not just Dallas, but all of Texas’ major metros ended up near the top of the new ranking by Magnify Money, a consumer finance website.

Dallas ranked in seventh place in the comparison of top U.S. growth cities. Austin was rated the top U.S. boomtown in the report. And San Antonio was just after Dallas in ninth place.

“Americans are flocking to and prospering in Texas,” Kali McFadden with Magnify Money said in the report. “Texas metros take up one-third of the top 15 spots.”

Magnify Money ranked cities on factors including population growth, housing and rising employment and incomes.

“The first thing we looked at was how much business and industry has grown locally,” McFadden said. “We not only wanted to know how many new businesses there are but also how businesses in general are doing, as measured by their increase in hiring and — for businesses that don’t have employees, known as non-employers — how much revenue has increased.”

While Texas towns hogged the economic beauty contest, cities in the Northeast and Midwest were near dead last in the ratings.

Some cities in Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and Ohio saw their labor forces and the number of businesses shrink for the five-year period used in the comparison.

North Texas has been one of America’s fastest growing markets since the Great Recession, leading the country in job gains and population growth.

 

 

 

Article first published by MagnifyMoney.com.