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Mardi Gras

Let the Good Times Roll!!!

Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday” is the annual celebration that marks the last day before the start of the 40-day Christian fasting season from Ash Wednesday and Easter also known as Lent.  

Mobile has always claimed to be the first Mardi Gras, but I decided to delve into its history to verify this claim.

In 1702, Mobile was founded as a French settlement and served as the initial capital of Louisiana.  The inaugural celebration was known as Boeuf Gras (fattened ox) in 1703.  It originated as a French Catholic celebration to prepare for the commencement of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

1711—the first Parade rolled down Dauphin Street, featuring a colossal bull’s head on wheels, reminiscent of ancient carnival traditions in France. 

On the other hand, New Orleans was not founded until 1718 with the first float appearing in 1857 although celebrations began in the 1730’s. 

Therefore, Mobile’s claim as the “Mother of the Mystics” is legitimate.  Let the Good Times Roll. Mobile, along with the Eastern Shore, Gulf Shores, and Dauphin Island all participate in the revelry.  People love this time of the year.

Here is this year’s parade schedule for the Eastern Shore.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!!

Make this a Special Christmas!!

Tonight, I was lucky to watch Christmas at the Opry, and what a fabulous program. If you did not watch it, you missed a great program filled with all the songs of the Christmas season. As I watched, I reflected on the memories that are centered with Christmas and I invite you to do the same.

The 13th of December is the first night of Hanukah, which will start 7 days of celebration for the Jewish faith. It is a special time for all.

But going back to many of my memories I reflect on my lifetime and the old and new memories. My father died when I was 5 ½ and was raised by my beloved Mother. Mother always had a Christmas tree which normally set on our bay window. This one year, she decided not to get one. I was in the 10th grade and my date and I picked up one that had been discarded on a curb right before Christmas and delivered it to my Mother. That night we decorated it together and the next day Santa came and delivered Christmas under that tree. You know, you never know what Christmas will bring.

So many memories on this season. Now, my biggest and fondest memory is to invite all of our grands and greats to decorate Ju Ju’s tree. Lights are put on with one grand and my brother-in-law. Then the action begins with each one reaching in the big red storage bin and pulling out the decorations. Our tree blossoms with love from each one that has participated. Pizza is normally served, and it starts the season.

This year, take time to remember and share with your families. It is a special time of the year.

Welcome to Fairhope’s 2023 Holiday Events

Mark your calendars for Fairhope’s lineup of festive events.

  • November 16 – 5:30 PM: Fairhope’s Lighting of the Trees. Mayberry comes to town when Fairhope’s trees come to life with sparkling lights. This enchanting event sets the stage for a magical holiday season. This event starts our holiday season and is a must-see!
  • November 18 – 6:30 PM: 12th Annual Movie in the Street Grab your blankets and chairs and head to the heart of Fairhope for the 12th Annual Movie in the Street. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy a family-friendly film under the starry night sky.
  • November 19 – 1:00 PM: Fairhope Christmas Open House Experience the charm of Fairhope during the Christmas Open House. Explore the town’s boutiques and shops, which will be adorned with holiday decorations, and discover unique gifts while enjoying the festive atmosphere.
  • November 25: Small Business Saturday Show your support for the local businesses that make Fairhope special on Small Business Saturday. It’s the perfect opportunity to shop for holiday gifts and support the community’s entrepreneurs.
  • December 1 – 7:00 PM: Fairhope Magical Christmas Parade Don’t miss the Fairhope Magical Christmas Parade, a highlight of the holiday season. Spectacular floats, marching bands, and Santa Claus himself will fill the streets with joy and wonder.
  • December 2 – 10:30 AM: Santa Saturday Bring the kids to Santa Saturday, where they can meet the jolly old man himself. Capture the joy on their faces as they share their holiday wishes with Santa Claus.
  • December 31 – 8:30 PM: New Year’s Eve Family Celebration Bid farewell to the year at the New Year’s Eve Family Celebration. Enjoy a fun-filled evening of entertainment, fireworks, and festivities as you welcome 2024 with your loved ones.

Fairhope, Alabama, will be decked out for the Christmas season. We invite you to come together with joy and create cherished memories with us. Please join us and share our city’s spectacular holiday calendar.

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.

Thank you to You

Today is a special day for all of us to say thank you for all the men and woman that have served in the military.  These men and woman have helped to protect our country and maintain our freedom.  Just think, major combat in World War I ended 100 years ago today.

You and I know that we definitely appreciate all are serving today, as well as all that have served and lost their lives in the past years, but outlined below is the history of this day which I wanted to share today.

In 1947, the first official Veterans Day was celebrated on the 11th day of November.   But initially in 1919, Armistice Day was established to honor those who served in World War I.  After World War II, a veteran from Birmingham named Raymond Weeks decided to expand Armistice Day to include all those who had served in the armed forces.  In 1947, he led a delegation to Washington, DC., to urge then Army Chief of Staff Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to create a national holiday that honored all veterans.  In 1954, President Eisenhower signed legislation establishing November 11 as Veterans Day.

Take time in your day to say thank you.  Have a great Sunday.

Has Fall Arrived?

The weatherman keeps telling us that Fall is coming, temperatures will be dropping but so far we are waiting.  Talking to a friend yesterday in St. Louis, winter has come and Fall didn’t arrive.  Weather is crazy now.  How about you?

Talking of weather, our hearts go out to the people in Panama City as well as neighboring towns such as Mexico Beach.  Seeing the pictures, it reminds me of Ivan and Katrina.  Devastation of a hurricane or a tornado makes you realize how fragile life is.  WE take for granite our surroundings.  Each day we need to be thankful.

On the other side, what is big in Fairhope.  Each Thursday in October from 3-6 PM, The Fairhope Outdoor Farmer’s Market is located behind the Fairhope Public Library.  On October 22, the City Council Meeting will be in the city council chambers at 6 pm.  October 25th, at 5:30, Fairhope Witches Ride–go to  This is a great fund raiser but really adds whimsical Halloween theme to downtown Fairhope.  Then on October 27, trick or treat in Downtown for kids of all ages.  Stores that display pumpkins in their windows are participating.

Our market is extremely healthy with only 368 active listings in Fairhope.  89 homes are under contract and 673 homes have closed since January.  Yes, we are fortunate.

Please sit back and be thankful but again Hurricane victims need your help.  In our area, we have donation drop offs for victims.  Look them up and take time to help the unfortunate.

You think Fall is in the Air?

Summer is coming to a close.  My grand babies are either in school or will be soon.  But in the meantime, welcome to Hugh in our Kyack  on Mobile Bay–what fun we have had.  The other day on the radio, I heard that August is like Fall.  Don’t know where the announcer got this information but our weather has been extremely hot and humid.

What an interesting market, listings are down throughout our area as well as Baldwin County.  Just for your information Baldwin County is the largest county in Alabama and always has been a diverse market.  We range from farm land to the magnificent condominiums overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.  Total listings today are 2362 with 825 homes under contract but 3678 have closed since January 1, 2018 with an average sales price of $265,704.  This is an 8% increase from last year .

Within Baldwin County, the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay adds another dimension to the Baldwin County market.  Cities vary in price ranges but stretch from Spanish Fort to Point Clear.  This area is graced by beautiful sunsets and incredible views of Mobile Bay.  This location is an easy commute to Mobile.  Presently we have 826 homes on the market with 298 homes under contract but 1387 homes that have closed since January 1, 2018.  Of course these stats are included in Baldwin County.  This is a 9% increase from last year.

As September is around the corner, please take time to enjoy the last lazy days of Summer.


Thoughts on our Market

What’s happening on the Eastern Shore of Alabama–Spanish Fort, Daphne, Montrose, Fairhope and Point Clear?  Yesterday, we had temperatures in the 70’s and tonight in the 40’s, brisk wind, and magnificent sunsets.  Our market has been active.  Presently our multiple listing service reports 782 homes on the market which is low for our area.  343 homes are under contract with 379 homes have closed since January 1, 2018.  Last year at this same time, we had 412 homes closed.  Our average listed price is $326,137 with an average sales price of $315,479 which is 97% of the listed price.  Definitely our average sales price has gone up.  Due to less being on the market, prices are firmer than in the past but still condition plays a factor.  Our largest competition to resales are new homes.  To sell your homes quicker, look at your home critically and fix what bothers you.  Paint is cheap, but get in the know what is current.  Give me your thoughts as to what you have learned in marketing your home, I would like to hear.

Beautiful Easter Day!! Fabulous Weather on Mobile Bay!!

Did you have a great day today?  Easter is always a busy time for our family, normally sun-rise service at the Grand Hotel but today we went to the early service.  After breakfast, we headed to our pier which is on Hwy.1, located about 10 miles from Fairhope on Mobile Bay.  The family started coming around noon.  Before we knew it, we had an abundance of food, fried chicken, ham, baked beans, string beans, and fruit as well as vegetable salad and great family time.
Once lunch was completed, the grandkids hit the water on an enormous raft.  They played for hours, laughing and creating stories.  Hugh pulled the Kayak out.  What a fabulous day!!!

Tomorrow , business as usual.  Spring is upon us and the market is beginning to radiate.