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It’s a Seller’ Market on the Eastern Shore

It’s a Sellers’ Market

It’s a Sellers’ Market [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • Over the past year, homeowners have gained an unprecedented opportunity to sell with great success while buyer demand is soaring.
  • With homes selling twice as fast as they did last year at this time, getting multiple offers, and rising in price, homeowners are in the driver’s seat.
  • Let’s connect today if you’re ready to learn about the leverage you have as a seller in today’s housing market.

Springtime Is the Beginning of Entertainment Season – Is it time for a remodel?

Eastern Shore Real Estate

Spring will be upon us before we know it.  As most of you know, Judy Niemeyer is a name that is recognized as an agent who knows the market in Fairhope, Montrose, Daphne, Spanish Fort and of course Point Clear. Locals call this area, the Eastern Shore of Alabama.  My real estate career began in 1979, and oh how our homes have changed since then.  Gold and green were the main colors back in 1979 and wallpaper was big.  Wallpaper is coming back and I thought I would never say that.  White is big and neutral is the new game in town.  Accessories are being used to add the warmth.

If you are ready to make a change in your home,  you may ask “Where should I start?”  Most people like to start in the kitchen and Judy says YES!!!.  Step back and give your kitchen a critical eye.  Start pulling up suggestions either from internet sites such as Pinterest or Houzz, magazines, or even open houses in newer neighborhoods.  If you need an outside eye, consult a kitchen designer but first think of budget.  Get a notebook and start making a plan!

Appliances always show age, especially stoves. If you’ve had yours for years, go out and buy a new one.  This is one of least expensive changes in a kitchen and makes an easy and immediate impact.  Stainless has been popular for many years and still seems to be in style.  Gas stoves are very popular and are favored by people who love to cook.  Cabinet depth refrigerators certainly enhance the look of a kitchen, but they are usually more expensive.

Cabinets designs are simpler than they used to be.  Shaker or slab doors are currently in style and present a clean and sleek look.  In most cases, just replacing doors and adding hidden hinges will make a tremendous difference.  Paint instead of stain is currently more common.  Pull-outs shelves and Lazy Susan corners are a great way of utilizing your storage space if you are getting all new cabinets.  Keep your kitchen color scheme as neutral as possible.  Color can be added by using art and accessories.

Simple lines are fashionable.  Lighting needs to flow.  Quartz on countertops is used more today instead of granite or marble due to its versatility and resilience.  Some people add depth to the countertop to create an additional dining space.  Choose a simple backsplash but also keep it neutral.  You do not want the updates to go out of style.  I love a separated farm sink. If you replace the countertops, then choose a neat sink.

It can be tough to choose hardware that compliments your overall design.  If your cabinet design is simple, stick with a simple pull.  When choosing a faucet, consider spout height, pull down vs conventional, single vs. multiple handles and finish.  Single handles are much more convenient to use as you can control with one hand.  I recommend buying one that is easy to maintain.  Pay for quality but easy maintenance.

Take your breakfast area and make it happy with comfortable chairs.  This is a great gathering spot in a kitchen.

Updated kitchens bring a wow to a home.  Have fun with the updates but remember start with a budget.

 

 

What’s the Difference between an Appraisal and a Home Inspection?

Home Inspection versus Appraisal

What’s the Difference between an Appraisal and a Home Inspection?

If you’re planning to buy a home, an appraisal is an important step in the process. It’s a professional evaluation of the market value of the home you’d like to buy. In most cases, an appraisal is ordered by the lender to confirm or verify the value of the home prior to lending a buyer money for the purchase. It’s also a different step in the process from a home inspection, which assesses the condition of the home before you finalize the transaction. Here’s the breakdown of each one and why they’re both important when buying a home.

Home Appraisal

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:

“A home purchase is typically the largest investment someone will make. Protect yourself by getting your investment appraised! An appraiser will observe the property, analyze the data, and report their findings to their client. For the typical home purchase transaction, the lender usually orders the appraisal to assist in the lender’s decision to provide funds for a mortgage.”

When you apply for a mortgage, an unbiased appraisal (which is required by the lender) is the best way to confirm the value of the home based on the sale price. Regardless of what you’re willing to pay for a house, if you’ll be using a mortgage to fund your purchase, the appraisal will help make sure the bank doesn’t loan you more than what the home is worth.

This is especially critical in today’s sellers’ market where low inventory is driving an increase in bidding wars, which can push home prices upward. When sellers are in a strong position like this, they tend to believe they can set whatever price they want for their house under the assumption that competing buyers will be willing to pay more.

However, the lender will only allow the buyer to borrow based on the value of the home. This is what helps keep home prices in check. If there’s ever any confusion or discrepancy between the appraisal and the sale price, your trusted real estate professional will help you navigate any additional negotiations in the buying process.

Home Inspection

Here’s the key difference between an appraisal and an inspection. MSN explains:

In simplest terms, a home appraisal determines the value of a home, while a home inspection determines the condition of a home.”

The home inspection is a way to determine the current state, safety, and condition of the home before you finalize the sale. If anything is questionable in the inspection process – like the age of the roof, the state of the HVAC system, or just about anything else – you as a buyer have the option to discuss and negotiate any potential issues or repairs with the seller before the transaction is final. Your real estate agent is a key expert to help you through this part of the process.

Bottom Line

The appraisal and the inspection are critical steps when buying a home, and you don’t need to manage them by yourself. Let’s connect today so you have the expert guidance you need to navigate through the entire homebuying process.

A Quick Note From Judy Niemeyer

Welcome Fall, Judy Niemeyer

A quick note from Judy Niemeyer ~

Welcome to our Fall!  Mornings are beautiful with lower temperatures and beautiful skies.  Of course, you have to imagine fall leaves because in the South, our leaves stay green.  Can you believe that Thanksgiving is around the corner?

What a year 2020 has been. It has been a tough year for all of us.  It reminds me of a very bumpy road, smooth in sections, and then a rut comes and bumps us off our path. Covid-19 was the first issue that bumped us. Masks became the new norm. Then Sally struck us with unbelievable winds and destruction. Now, we sit back and see what is next. Is it another Covid-19 burst or just the flu? Who knows?

Thank goodness, our real estate market has been very active. Interest rates continue to be very low. It is a great time for people to sell and buy. A lender last week quoted a 30-year interest rate of 2.8% which is hard to believe. Even with these low interest rates, buyers are still very opinionated. Selling a home is not as easy as the general public thinks.

 

 

Let’s compare 2019 to 2020:

Presently we have 523 active homes on the market from Spanish Fort to Point Clear with 460 homes under contract.  If all of these homes close, 2020 will be an incredible real estate year.

If you have questions, please feel free to call me. I always love to hear from you!

 

Tax Advice if You Sold Your Home

Tax Implications of Selling a Home

Did You Sell Your Home After Making Improvements?

Keeping track of the cost of capital improvements to your home can really pay off on your tax return when it comes time to sell.

Tax Implications of Selling a Home

It’s no secret that finishing your basement will increase your home’s value. What you may not know is the money you spend on this type of so-called capital improvement could also help lower your tax bill when you sell your house.

Tax rules let you add capital improvement expenses to the cost basis of your home. Why is that a big deal? Because a higher cost basis lowers the total profit—capital gain, in IRS-speak—you’re required to pay taxes on.

The tax break doesn’t come into play for everyone. Most homeowners are exempted from paying taxes on the first $250,000 of profit for single filers ($500,000 for joint filers). If you move frequently, maybe it’s not worth the effort to track capital improvement expenses. But if you plan to live in your house a long time or make lots of upgrades, saving receipts is a smart move.

What Counts As a Capital Improvement?

Although you may consider all the work you do to your home an improvement, the IRS looks at things differently. A rule of thumb: A capital improvement increases your home’s value, while a non-eligible repair just returns something to its original condition. According to the IRS, capital improvements have to last for more than one year and add value to your home, prolong its life, or adapt it to new uses.

Capital improvements can include everything from a new bathroom or deck to a new water heater or furnace. Page 9 of IRS Publication 523 has a list of eligible improvements.

There are limitations. The improvements must still be evident when you sell. So if you put in wall-to-wall carpeting 10 years ago and then replaced it with hardwood floors five years ago, you can’t count the carpeting as a capital improvement. Repairs, like painting your house or fixing sagging gutters, don’t count. The IRS describes repairs as things that are done to maintain a home’s good condition without adding value or prolonging its life.

There can be a fine line between a capital improvement and a repair, says Erik Lammert, former tax research specialist at the National Association of Tax Professionals. For instance, if you replace a few shingles on your roof, it’s a repair. If you replace the entire roof, it’s a capital improvement. Same goes for windows. If you replace a broken window pane, repair. Put in a new window, capital improvement.

One exception: If your home is damaged in a fire or natural disaster, everything you do to restore your home to its pre-loss condition counts as a capital improvement.

How Capital Improvements Affect Your Gain

To figure out how improvements affect your tax bill, you first have to know your cost basis. The cost basis is the amount of money you spent to buy or build your home including all the costs you paid at the closing: fees to lawyers, survey charges, transfer taxes, and home inspection, to name a few. You should be able to find all those costs on the settlement statement you received at your closing.

Next, you’ll need to account for any subsequent capital improvements you made to your home. Let’s say you bought your home for $200,000 including all closing costs. That’s the initial cost basis. You then spent $25,000 to remodel your kitchen. Add those together and you get an adjusted cost basis of $225,000.

Now, suppose you’ve lived in your home as your main residence for at least two out of the last five years. Any profit you make on the sale will be taxed as a long-term capital gain. You sell your home for $475,000. That means you have a capital gain of $250,000 (the $475,000 sale price minus the $225,000 cost basis). You’re single, so you get an automatic exemption for the $250,000 profit. End of story.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Had you not factored in the money you spent on the kitchen remodel, you’d be facing a tax bill for that $25,000 gain that exceeded the automatic exemption. By keeping receipts and adjusting your basis, you’ve saved about $5,000 in taxes based on the  15% tax rate on capital gains. Well worth taking an hour a month to organize your home improvement receipts, don’t you think?

The top rate for most homesellers remains 15%. For sellers in the 39.6% income tax bracket, the cap gains rate is 20%.

Watch Out for These Basis-Busters

Some situations (below) can lower your basis, thus increasing your risk of facing a tax bill when you sell. Consult a tax adviser.

  • If you use the actual cost method and take depreciation on a home office, you have to subtract those deductions from your basis.
  • Any depreciation available to you because you rented your house works the same way.
  • You also have to subtract subsidies from utility companies for making energy-related home improvements or energy-efficiency tax credits you’ve received.
  • If you bought your home using the federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers, you’ll have to deduct that from your basis too, says Mark Steber, chief tax officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Services.

Tips for Buyers and Sellers

Tips For Buyers and Sellers

Today I attended a wonderful seminar on flood insurance guidelines and fortified homes.  In our area of Fairhope/Point Clear, our home owner’s insurance rates can be higher than in other parts of our state of Alabama due to our location being hurricane proof.  Tips for you, if you live on the bay or in areas that might have an issue on flooding–please get an elevation certificate.  If you have a elevation certificate, do not loose it.  Your insurance agent will want a copy of it.

In insuring homes, the age of the roof, as well as the electrical and plumbing upgrades are big questions of an insurance agent.  If you replace your roof, make sure you take the steps to get it certified.  Certification normally costs about $400-$500 but needs to be done while the roof is being replaced.  Photos need to be taken to show how the roof is being installed.  In our city, a permit is required and roofers have to comply with the city of Fairhope guidelines.

If your home was gold certified when it was built, you must have a certification from the builder.  This certification is good for 5 years.  All certifications will give an expiration date.  Home owners need to contact a local company that can re-certify your home which costs can vary between $150 to $300.  Beware of the recertification.

FEMA flood insurance will expire on November 21st, 2019 unless Congress extends it.  The House has approved the bill titled HR3167 which is now in the Senate’s hands.  Hopefully this will be approved and no extension will be necessary.  Limitations on FEMA is $250,000 for structure and $100,000 for contents.  If you need more coverage,  insurance agents encourage looking at private companies and compare costs for flood.  This was excellent information.  So many homes are underinsured today.

I hope these tips help you.

Any questions, feel free to e-mail me at Judy@AshurstandNiemeyer.com

 

New Happenings in Fairhope

May 3rd is first Friday.  If you haven’t attended, please do.  Galleries are open, as well as shops and the Eastern Shore Art Center–walk the streets and enjoy.

Matilda which is being produced by the Eastern Shore Repertory will be produced on The Bluff of Henry George Park.  Dates from May 2-4th and tickets are $15 for children and $30 for adults.  Bring your blankets, either pay at the door or online.  Incredible talent and production that you can enjoy.

May 9, 2019, Fairhope Girls Night Out–from 4-8 PM.  Purchase tickets online at www.downtownfairhope.com.

Have fun and enjoy this beautiful weather.

A Beautiful Time of the Year..

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This is the time of the year that most areas experience coloring of the leaves, but in our area we experience vivid sunsets. Have you noticed?  Some nights, the colors in the sky after the sunsets are as vivid as the actual sun setting.  We live in a beautiful area and I know you will agree.

The market has been very interesting this year. Prices have not increased much but we are seeing some bright spots out there.  Presently there are 772 active listings in the Spanish Fort to Point Clear area.  The average price is $393,911.  Average time on the market for the active listings is 155 days.  Since January 1, 2015, our area has experienced 1540 homes to close with an average list price of $282,974.  The average sold price was $273,611. Presently,  there are 212 homes under contract. As you can see, these stats are showing great improvement in our market.

The upper price point is still struggling.   We have had great sales but we would like more.   I do expect this to change as we go into 2016.  Eventually buyers will get less opinionated on their expectations.  When this day arrives, all of us will celebrate.

The great news is people are eagerly shopping on the internet. One of our listings just sold via internet without the buyer visiting.  Photos are so important in marketing.  As you know Allison Ashurst, my daughter –in-law is our photographer and she is excellent.

Before you know it, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving dinner. Sellers sometimes think this is the worst time of the year to sell a home.  I disagree because this is the time of the year that we think home, good cooking and great family gatherings.  Just remember if you are going to be out of town, please let us know.

Any questions about the market, give us a ring and we will try to answer.

Happy Holidays

Judy Niemeyer & Lucy Sundbeck

 

 

 

Finest Day –

Is closing a Special Listing on Mobile Bay in Fairhope, Alabama.

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Brilliant Sunset Sky

This is why I love living and selling Fairhope, Alabama.  Night before last, our sky was brilliant from the setting sun. The above pictures shows the beginning to the end. Each night is different, but this night was special. Our little town of Fairhope is getting ready for downtown trick and treat. This will be Saturday from 10-2. Please stop by our downtown Ashurst and Niemeyer office.

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