5 Surprisingly Smart Reasons to Buy a Home During the Holidays

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https://hub.realtor.com/pros/5-surprisingly-smart-reasons-to-buy-a-home-during-the-holidays?

Turkeys and tinsel, dreidels and pumpkin pie. Yes friends, the holidays are here again, and it’s the perfect time for … house hunting? OK, we know you’re busy enough planning family feasts and much-needed vacations while dealing with blustery weather, but hear us out. While it might seem counterintuitive to put a big-ticket item like a home on your holiday shopping list, it really does make sense.

Don’t believe us? Check out these surprisingly smart reasons to let everyone else hit the mall to buy half-off sweaters while you make the purchase of a lifetime: a new house to ring in the New Year.

1. Less competition from home buyers

Most buyers take the month off to celebrate the holidays, attend parties, host out-of-town guests and, quite frankly, avoid trudging around in inclement weather to look at houses. Or, maybe they’ve heard that this is a lousy time to buy a house. Whatever the reason, shopping for real estate at a time when fewer buyers are in the market can pay off big.

That’s because competing with multiple offers is one of the most stressful parts of the home-buying process, says Brian Wasson, a real estate broker with Center Coast Realty in Chicago.

2. Motivated (OK, desperate) home sellers

The December seller is likely to be serious and motivated—and therefore more open to negotiation. So what you might lack in choice of available homes could be balanced out by dealing with a more flexible seller.

Most sellers have a compelling reason for putting their house on the market during the holidays. (Let’s face it: It’s no holiday party for them to have strangers wandering through their house.) They might be facing a relocation and want to get their kids settled before the new term. Or they might just be feeling some stress if they listed their home in the fall and it’s still languishing post–Turkey Day, making them just a little more desperate and anxious to deal.

Many sellers might also want a contract in hand for tax advantages. If it’s a rental property on which they incurred a loss, they are likely to want to take the deduction this calendar year, Wasson says.

Another tax-related reason: If sellers are likely to make a hefty profit and have a salary raise set to kick in on Jan. 1, they might be subject to a higher capital gains tax on their home sale in the coming year. In this scenario, sellers may want to unload a property before the new year.

Sellers are exempt from paying capital gains tax on the first $250,000 in proceeds from a home sale for a single person, or $500,000 for a couple. After that, the capital gains tax kicks in, based on their income bracket.

3. Tax advantages

In case you weren’t aware, the tax benefits go both ways, notes Realtor® Al Cannistra with Texas Premier Realty in San Antonio. Buying now can help you save in April and beyond. Homeownership brings numerous tax perks, from deducting mortgage interest to property taxes. (Update: The House of Representatives just passed its version of the GOP proposed tax plan, which would cap the property tax deduction at $10,000. The House bill also would only allow homeowners to deduct the interest on mortgages up to $500,000, down from the current $1 million.)

Some states also might have a homeowner’s tax exemption, says Cannistra: “If your state does, closing the deal by Dec. 31 rather than waiting for the first week of the new year can make a year’s difference in whether or not you get that valuable tax savings.”

Also, many closing fees are tax-deductible if you itemize—although you should always double-check with your accountant about any tax questions.

4. A realistic picture of the house

What house doesn’t look amazing in the typical spring buying season, with newly planted flowers and plenty of sunlight streaming through the windows? Checking it out during the miserable winter season, on the other hand, might give you a more accurate idea of what you might be living with the rest of the year.

In addition to seeing the house, warts and all, you can check for issues that you’d notice only during cold weather.

“Maybe there’s a bedroom in the home that doesn’t get sufficient heat, or the front door gets jammed in icy conditions,” says Wasson. “Inspectors are less likely to catch these issues with the home when they check them out of season.”

Of course, don’t forget that issues that crop up more during summer will be less accessible—such as how well the air conditioning works or what the roof really looks like under all that snow and ice—so make sure that your home inspector does a thorough job on those fronts, too.

5. Greater accessibility to professionals

“Since December is usually a slower month all around, you will have easier access to movers, inspectors, and mortgage brokers,” says Jennifer Sommers with Sotheby’s International Realty in Boca Raton, FL.

In addition, motivated real estate agents will bend over backward to provide service with fewer client demands and will share your desire to get it done and in the books before the new year rolls around.  Ditto on your mortgage broker, who is bound to speed your closing through.

lesliesellshouses.com

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Wondering How to Make Your Home Smell Like Fall? Here are 5 Simple Tips!

Love the smells of pumpkin spice and cinnamon? Then autumn is probably your favorite season! Learn how to bring the smell of fall into your home with these tips.

Fall leaves
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Fall is the favorite season for a lot of people, and the fabulous fall scents are one of the main reasons why. Apple cinnamon, pumpkin spice, hot cocoa, oh my! Want to know how to make your home smell like fall? Try one of these easy ideas.

1. Plug It In …

… or light it up, or spray it around, or attach it to your furnace filter. You get the idea, right? Perhaps one of the easiest ways to recreate the best fall scents is to buy an air freshener or candle. Think they probably don’t make the scent you’re looking for? Think again! From “Flannel” to “Leaves,” you’ll be surprised at all the options available.

Fall candles
Source

2. Heat It Up

Ever heard of stove top potpourri? We dare you to try it. Once you get a whiff, you’ll be making it on the regular. Simply add in herbs, spices, extracts and fruit peels that you have on hand to a pot of water, bring it to a boil and then let it simmer as long as you’d like (all you have to do is add more water periodically). The best part? It’s an all-natural way of making your home smell oh-so-delicious!

Fall stove top potpourri
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3. Set It Out

If sprays, flames and hot pots aren’t your cup of spice tea, try the set-it-and-forget-it route. Purchase some delicious-smelling potpourri and simple set it out throughout your home. To add a little holiday decorative flair, consider purchasing one of the customizable cinnamon brooms often found in your local grocery store.

Cinnamon broom
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4. Spread It Around

The household chores don’t stop during pumpkin spice season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t combine the two. Before doing your regularly scheduled vacuuming for the week, consider shaking some carpet deodorizer in your favorite fall scents over your rugs and carpets. Let it sit for about half an hour and then vacuum away. You’ll end up with a clean, fabulous-smelling home. Want a cheaper alternative than a store-bought deodorizer? Simply combine baking soda and pumpkin pie spice to make a DIY fall carpet deodorizer.

Pumpkin pie deodorizer
Source

5. Whip It Up

Perhaps the best tip of all is to show off your baking skills in the kitchen. What’s better than the smell of treats like cranberry bread or apple pie baking in the oven? Sure, the smell won’t last forever, but that’s okay; neither will the baked goods — especially if you have guests visiting for the holidays. That just means you’ll have to make some more!

Pumpkin pie deodorizer
Source

Happy Fall!

Disclosaphobia? 5 Tips for Completing a Seller’s Disclosure

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The seller’s disclosure is one of the most important documents that a buyer closely scrutinizes prior to going under contract. Here are important things to keep in mind as you complete this form.

The dreaded seller’s disclosure – it’s that pesky document that asks you umpteen questions. How many ceiling fans are in the property, what’s the make and model of each appliance, how old is the roof, A/C system and so forth. Really? Do you have to answer these questions and all of them? Well if you are selling your house,  the answer : lesliesellshouses.com is YES and you must answer to the best of your knowledge.

The seller’s disclosure is one of THE most important documents that a buyer closely scrutinizes prior to going under contract. If there are any blank questions or ambiguities, you are likely going to be asked for further clarification and it could delay or prevent a buyer from moving forward.

Here are 5 tips to help you overcome “disclosaphobia” and complete this document with ease:

1. Do Your Research

If you purchased your home within the recent past and had a home inspection, that document can be a useful reference as to the make, model and age of certain components in your home such as the A/C system, water heater, etc. Keep in mind that if you have replaced any of these items, then you will need to complete the disclosure reflective of that information.

2. Be Accurate

If you had a four point inspection for insurance purposes at the time of purchase, that could tell you the age and type of key components such as the roof, plumbing and electrical. Use this to help determine the present age when you are completing the disclosure.

3. Be Honest

Answer every question to the best of your knowledge. If there was something that happened such as a roof leak or water damage for example, provide as much information as possible. Buyers want to know when the issue occurred, the nature of the damage and what was done to repair or address the issue. If an insurance claim was filed, be sure to note that and what the outcome was as far as coverage. The claim could very well turn up when the new buyer works on obtaining insurance – better for the buyer to learn about it from the disclosure first. Attach any relevant paperwork as well such as receipts or invoices. Buyers need assurance that all adds up. Surprise is never a good thing in real estate.

4. Be Clear

Don’t leave a buyer guessing. Avoid vague answers or leaving questions blank. That only raises more questions for a buyer. If you don’t know or the question is not applicable to your kind of property, note that.

5. Set Expectations

The biggest challenge for disclosures arises when the party selling the property has never occupied it or only lived in it for a brief period of time. Be sure to clearly state what your occupancy situation was and to what extent if any, you have knowledge about the property. Setting proper expectations upfront in this regard with potential buyers is important.

If necessary, attach an additional explanation for anything that requires more information than what the form provides. Make sure all information is legible and will transmit clearly across a variety of mediums when printed, emailed, scanned or faxed.

In short, be thorough and provide information to the buyer that will give them confidence in their decision. Contrary to popular belief, buyers are not frustrated with too much disclosure, but rather not enough.

DISCLOSURE

Leslie Swindahl local Realtor/Broker is now with Hawkins Poe Inc in University Place

Leslie Swindahl local Realtor/Broker is now with Hawkins Poe Inc  in University Place

Leslie Swindahl

I chose to be a REALTOR® because this career allowed me to set my own destiny.  The possibilities are endless when you are a REALTOR®.  Some people are happy selling 3 houses a year, others are happy selling 50 houses a year. So yes, it is a good life which is why I have been a REALTOR® for 19+ years. I really cannot imagine myself doing anything else.
The reason I have chosen Hawkins Poe is because the service the  company  provide is superb and this is the only company that is still family owned and care about your family to.
Before that, I was an Office Administrator for Chassis Components, a race car shop.  As owners of the shop, my husband and I facilitated the building of the race cars, and I helped create the manual for the crew.
When I’m not helping my sellers or buyers, I love to garden.  I enjoy planting new flowers and watch them come back up again next year. I also volunteer at a retirement center, taking seniors to their doctor appointments and to the grocery store so they don’t have to pay for public transportation.
I find that going into the office every day and feeling the energizing atmosphere is the greatest motivation that keeps me on the move.  It really motivates me to help my clients buy and sell their homes!
Leslie Swindahl, REALTOR®/Broker
Now with Hawkins Poe 253-312-0447 (mobile)http://www.leslieswindahl.com/http://lesliesellshouses.com/

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this post are the author’s. Registered users are welcome to post on Patch.

Cold Weather Countdown: How To Winterize Your House

Cold Weather Countdown: How To Winterize Your House

Sam Beasley via Unsplash
By HomeAdvisor

Can you feel that chill in the air? If not, just you wait — winter will be here before you know it, and now is the time to get your house ready for the cold.

Trust us: You don’t want to discover your furnace is dead on arrival of the first frost. And dealing with those cold air drafts now is a lot more pleasant than waiting until the inside of your house feels like a freezer.

To help, we’ve created the ultimate guide to getting your home ready for winter. Here’s a list of what to do and who to hire now, so you’re not left shivering through the season.


Outdoors


Gutter Check: Ideally, you’ll have your gutters and downspouts cleaned in mid-fall so that you only need to double check them before winter. If you do encounter clogs or leaking in difficult to reach places, now is a good time to call in the professionals.

Find a Local Gutter Cleaning Service


Water Works: Your sprinkler system should have been winterized in the fall. If you missed this step, get a professional in as soon as possible, so you can avoid frozen pipes or cracks that can ruin the entire system. You should also make sure to disconnect all outside hoses from their spouts and turn off the water.

Find Sprinkler Winterization Services in Your Area


Seal The Deck: If you have a deck, give it a fresh coat of sealer before the cold hits to protect it from the harsh winter elements.

Find a Local Deck Sealing Service


Roof Inspection: Have a contractor look for damaged roof shingles. A professional can also assess the integrity of your roof by doing something called an infrared roof inspection. This process uses infrared rays to locate the parts of a roof that are at higher or lower temperatures than the rest of it. These “hot spots” can show the roof inspector exactly where heat is escaping.

Find Roof Inspection Services in Your Area


Weatherproof Windows: If heat is escaping through your windows and the space around them, keeping the rest of your house warm is going to be more difficult and more expensive. You might find installing energy-efficient, double-paned windows will make a noticeable difference in your energy costs and how comfortable your living areas feel. You may not need to install new windows if heat is escaping, though. In some cases, all you need is some caulk or weather stripping to weatherproof the existing windows.

Find Local Window Replacement Contractors or Find a Handyman Contractor in Your Area


Indoors


HVAC Tuning: Now is the time to replace the filter in your furnace and close any vents in your home that may have been opened for the warm weather. Go ahead and test that your heating system is working properly, too — it’s better to find out now if something needs to be fixed before the real cold weather hits.

Find Local Pre-screened Furnace and Heating Repair Contractors


Chimney Cleaning: Chimneys and wood stoves should be cleaned early in the season. If you own a fireplace, this is not optional — it’s a matter of safety. When you have your chimney cleaned, have the furnace flue cleaned at the same time. Make sure to test the flue for a tight seal when closed.

Find Chimney and Fireplace Cleaning Professionals in Your Area


Outlet Inspection: Check electrical outlets and switch plates to see if you feel a draft. Add insulation to prevent warm air from escaping these spaces.

Find Local Home Insulation Installers


Stock Up: Make sure you have shovels on hand before the first big snow hits. Plus, it’s a good idea to get prepared with a supply of extra water, canned food, flashlights and replacement batteries.


This event is sponsored and brought to you by HomeAdvisor.

Washington is admitted as the 42nd state to the United States of America on November 11, 1889

November 11, 1889, Washington becomes the 42nd state of the United States of America.

On February 22, 1889, the United States Congress passed an act enabling the territories of Washington, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana to seek statehood. This was the first enabling act passed by Congress since Colorado became the 38th state in 1876.

One of the conditions established for statehood was approval of a state constitution. The 75 men  elected to the State Constitutional Convention included 21 lawyers, 13 farmers, 6 merchants, 6 doctors, 5 bankers, 4 cattlemen, 3 teachers, 2 real-estate agents, 2 editors, 2 hop farmers, 2 loggers, 2 lumbermen, 1 minister, 1 surveyor, 1 fisherman, and 1 mining engineer. Between July 4 and August 24, 1889, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Olympia drafted the state constitution. On October 1, 1889, Washington citizens approved the State Constitution by a vote of 40,152 to 11,879.

On November 11, 1889, U.S. President Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901) signed the bill admitting Washington to the United States.


Sources: Dorothy O. Johansen and Charles M. Gates, Empire of the Columbia: A History of the Pacific Northwest (New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1957), 407; Mary W. Avery, Government of Washington State (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1966), 21, 27; Clinton A. Snowden, History of Washington: The Rise and Progress of an American State, Vol. 4 (New York: The Century History Company, 1909), 386-387.

Related Topics:   Government & Politics

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Thanks for Your Service: The Very Best American Cities for Veterans

By  | Nov 10, 2017

On Veterans Day, Americans give a big collective thank-you to the estimated 30 million military veterans for their service to our country. But those who’ve returned from service abroad often face challenges at home, and some places are definitely more hospitable to our nation’s veterans than others.

So where are the best places for former military men and women? Personal finance website WalletHub found out by ranking the 100 largest cities. The website looked at employment opportunities for veterans, local economies, quality of life, veteran population, and local health facilities for veterans in each of the cities to come up with its findings.

“Many veterans retire from the military by their mid-30s to mid-40s and need to enter or re-enter the civilian workforce,”  WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said in a statement. “That’s why cities with strong local economies and a job market favoring military skill sets are so important for veterans, with emphasis on the VA health system, as well.”

What are the best cities for veterans?

It turns out that funky Austin, TX, whose slogan is “Keep Austin Weird,” is the best city for vets, according to the report. The state capital has the lowest veteran unemployment rate in the nation.

Austin also scored highly for having plenty of employment opportunities, a strong economy, and an attractive quality of life for vets—and just about everyone else.

“It’s a great place for veterans. There’s a large community, and everyone I know is very, very happy to be here,” says real estate agent Kyle Reed of Pauly Presley Realty in Austin.

Reed, who works with many veteran buyers, served as an army counterintelligence agent from 2001 from 2015. His service included two tours in Iraq. “Having a support network of people who know what it’s like makes it a lot easier for those just getting out of the military.”

Many of the Austin banks and credit unions offers special low-down, low-interest mortgages for veterans, he says.

“If a veteran is looking to continue to support his family postmilitary, a strong local economy is key,” Gonzalez said. “Look for cities that value their vets via veteran-owned businesses or a high number of jobs with military-based skill sets needed.”

The best cities for veterans:

1. Austin, TX
2. Colorado Springs, CO
3. Virginia Beach, VA
4. Raleigh, NC
5. Plano, TX
6. Tampa, FL
7. Fremont, CA
8. Seattle, WA
9. San Diego, CA
10. Boise, ID

What are the worst cities for veterans?

Not all cities are quite so hospitable for veterans. Detroit was ranked the worst for former members of the military, according to the WalletHub report.

The city has one of the highest numbers of homeless veterans relative to the overall population and a high poverty rate among one-time service men and women. It also had some of the fewest veteran-owned businesses and earned low marks for its struggling economy, a low quality of life, and fewer health services for vets.

The worst cities for veterans:

1. Detroit, MI
2. Newark, NJ
3. Baltimore, MD
4. Hialeah, FL
5. Memphis, TN
6. Birmingham, AL
7. North Las Vegas, NV
8. Toledo, OH
9. San Bernardino, CA
10. Cleveland, OH

Clare Trapasso is the senior news editor of realtor.com and an adjunct journalism professor. She previously wrote for a Financial Times publication and the New York Daily News. Contact her at clare.trapasso@move.com.

Think Home Prices Are High Now? Why They’re Likely to Keep Going Up

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Welcome home, Leslie Swindahl the Real Estate Whisperer will keep you up to date with
new information and trends.

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Get Thanksgiving Holiday Prep Started Early

Whether you’ll be hosting a family get-together or celebrating with friends, start planning now to ensure a stress- and disaster-free Turkey day.

Guest post by  Michelle Lee, Houzz

It’s time to pack up those spooky Halloween decorations and transition your home for the next fall holiday. Whether you’ll be hosting a family get-together or celebrating with friends, start planning now to ensure a stress- and disaster-free Turkey day. Here’s how to organize your party supplies and details for a beautiful feast this year.

Finalize Your Guest List

First things first, sit down with your friends and family to make a final decision on who you’ll be inviting over this year. Make and mail invitations now so your guests will have enough time to coordinate their own plans and get back with a timely RSVP.

 

Make a Menu or Hire a Caterer

Jot down recipes, shopping lists and cooking schedules today if you’re planning to make a home-cooked favorite or two this year. You’ll want to stock up on ingredients before your local grocery store sells out. If you’re not very kitchen-savvy, begin browsing local caterers’ menus before the best get booked.

While you’re at it, be sure to clear space in your pantry and fridge to hold the bounty of food before cooking day. If you have extra time, your oven and cookware supplies could probably use a nice cleaning.

Do a Walk-Through of Your Home

It’s important that you take your time as you pass through every room. Make note of anything unsightly that your guests might notice and take the next couple of weeks to fix scuffed paint spots, flickering lights or fraying furniture. Clear the coat closet and entryway, spruce up your post-feast lounging areas and prep guests rooms or kids’ areas as needed. Also take a good look at your dining space as you move on to the next tip.

Decide What You’ll Need to Rent or Buy

Can your dining room accommodate one long table for everyone or will you have to split up into two areas? Do you have enough chairs and table settings? Gather your own entertaining supplies and see if you can make-do or if you’ll need to buy or rent extras for this holiday season.

Plan Out Your Table(s)

This step is a bit early, but you can start visualizing the table or sketch it out on paper. Start planning an ideal seating chart, so couples aren’t awkwardly separated and family feuds aren’t reignited. You can make changes as RSVPs arrive.

Consider what your statement centerpiece will be this year as well as how you’ll be coordinating the plate settings and name cards to match. If you’re going with a nature-themed piece, it’s best to wait to order flowers now to prevent early wilting, but make sure to reserve one ahead of time with a local florist.

Start Decorating!

This is the most fun step of all and you can really let your style shine in any way you desire. Choose a general theme for the home and shop for matching decorations. Make sure you add some of this season’s classics, such as warm candles along the mantel or an inviting fall wreath on the front door.

How to Avoid the Top 5 Home Seller Mistakes

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