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3-Better Ways to Track Your Home-Related Expenses

by AULT&ASSOCIATES

Owning a home means having a place that’s safe and secure to come back to after a long day at work, every day, forever, until you decide it’s time to buy a different home. In exchange for all this homeiness, all you have to do is keep all the broken bits together, maintain the grass and track home-related expenses. Oh yes. If you don’t do a little bookkeeping, the tax man gets his and more. Might as well keep that cash as not, right? Why You Should Track Home-Related Expenses Your primary residence isn’t an investment, this has been said time and again (especially since the market crashed entirely), but that doesn’t mean that when you go to sell you have to take a loss. Far from it. In fact, as of the writing of this article, you’ll likely qualify for a tax exclusion (meaning you won’t pay taxes on this amount of profit from your home sale) of $250,000 if you file on your own or $500,000 if you and your spouse file your taxes together. But, if you sold and there was more than the applicable amount in gains, you’ll have to pay taxes only on the profit above the mark. When you have all your ducks in a row, it gets a lot easier to see what side of that line you stand on.

Reducing Your Tax Burden is the Goal.  When your gain from your home sale exceeds your tax exclusion, there are two ways to help improve the situation with all those receipts you’ve been saving (you have been saving them, haven’t you?). First, you can deduct expenses related to selling your home, provided these are not expenses that affect the house physically. Think closing fees, brokerage commissions, and some seller-paid closing costs. The other way to reduce your capital gains burden is to produce records that account for your extensive remodeling. These are the kinds of projects you definitely need a hand with. They include, but are not limited to:

     *Adding an additional room

     *Upgrading your kitchen

     *Replacing flooring

     *Having new landscaping installed

     *Putting on a new roof

The best part? These don’t have to be from the same tax year as when you sold. If you added that bedroom three years ago, pony up the receipts and reduce your tax burden. Unfortunately, regular home maintenance isn’t included on this list of ways to save a few dollars. Make sure you keep those receipts separate.

Get a Little Help From Your Friends.  Keeping track of your personal finances, let alone the expenses related to your home, can be a daunting task. There are so many ways to pay these days and so many different kinds of things to pay for. This is the very reason, though, that you must be even more careful when tracking home-related spending. Everybody has their own system, to be sure, but some are clearly superior to others. For example, if your plan is just to toss a bunch of receipts in a bucket until you get around to sorting them and manually recording each one, you may want to look into something a bit more efficient. Even an Excel workbook is out-modeled these days, but there are several different types of apps you can use to help track your expenses, including: Complete personal finance apps. Popular apps like Mint and Wally are essentially full personal finance packages that happen to store receipts. While you can give these apps permission to grab you bank information from a variety of banks all at once, you may end up with enough data that it’s a trick to find those old receipts down the road.

Dedicated receipt storage. Shoeboxed, Receipts by Wave and Expensify are far more focused on the receipt part of your financial picture. All allow you to photograph and upload the receipts in question, can export the data you collect as a variety of reports and have a cloud-storage option, so you don’t have to worry that you’ll lose your receipts if you change phones or need to reload your operating system.

PS. BTW, Shoeboxed will actually take that bucket of receipts and process them for you if you mail them in. Receipt storage designed for homeowners. Not to toot our own horns, but toot toot. HomeKeepr allows you to scan your receipts in and helps you track home-related expenses automatically. All you need to do is snap a picture of your receipt and the software does the rest. You can then sort your receipts by the service type or business so you can see at a glance how much you’re spending on your project. Unlike other receipt trackers, HomeKeepr can track and maintain records for related items like appliance manuals and maintenance tasks that are due for your home.

Are You Ready to Invest in Your Home This Year?  All this talk of bookkeeping and receipt scanning surely has you thinking about how much you’ve been wanting to redo the deck or hang new gutters. Well, today’s the day. Not only can you store those receipts in the HomeKeepr platform, your real estate agent can hook you up with some of the best contractors in your area. Just pop into your HomeKeepr community and check out who has been recommended for you. Your agent put their reputation on the line by providing these referrals, so you know they have to be good!

Hey Siri! Shut the shades! Smart Blinds for Homeowners

by AULT&ASSOCIATES

It seems that everything is getting smarter these days. You’ve got your basic smartphone, your smart security system, your smart speakers and even smart refrigerators. It should come as no surprise that someone managed to make window blinds that are pretty smart, too.

On first glance, these things look like one of the least useful smart products out there. When you dig a bit deeper, though, it’s clear that smart blinds, much like smart thermostats, are actually a great way to save energy and make your home safer, all while you lounge on the couch conversing with Alexa and Siri.

What are Smart Blinds? Smart blinds, like most things that are considered “smart,” are literally window blinds that can be controlled remotely through a smartphone app, and, in this case, by the voice assistant of your choice. You can use the app to open the blinds, close the blinds or set them somewhere in between. While this doesn’t sound like much, if you think about the regularity at which you perform these mundane tasks, having smart blinds take care of themselves is a huge time saver in the long run. But, that’s not really what’s so cool about them. Here are a few things that are, though: They help people with disabilities. People with a variety of disabilities are benefiting from smart homes in lots of ways.

When it comes to blinds, it means making it easier for everyone to let the sun shine in or to shut the blinds at night for a little privacy.

They increase safety. Whether you’re going on vacation or you’re just working late, having blinds that are able to shut on their own makes it look like someone is home, even when you’re not. It helps to deter crime, which is a good thing, for sure. They can save energy. By cleverly orchestrating the times that your blinds are open or closed, you can help reduce the use of your HVAC system all year long. More on this later.

There are few drawbacks to having smart blinds, if you can get beyond the price point. Many manufacturers are still treating these devices as luxury buys, pushing the cost of a single blind into the hundreds of dollars. Ikea recently announced it would be releasing its own line of basic smart blinds in the US on April 1, 2019. They’re still not in everybody’s price range, but are far more accessible with units starting around $135.

How Do Smart Blinds Save Energy? Before you rush out to buy smart blinds because your electricity bill is out of control, keep two things in mind: first, not all blinds will perform the same or have the same features, so make sure to read the packaging or ask a knowledgeable person about those energy saving functions. Secondly, smart blinds are only as good as the person telling them what to do. So, if you don’t tweak your programs a little bit to dial in your settings, you’re not going to get great results. Like any blind, smart blinds can be used to help reduce the strain on your HVAC system. This is done largely by blocking the sun’s rays that warm up your home. Other types of smart window treatments can act as insulators against the cold. Neither is perfect, but they do work pretty well. When it comes to saving energy, you will have to tell the blind what you want it to do. If you want the smart blinds on the west side of your home to close entirely around 1 pm and stay closed until 4 pm, set it in the app. Some blinds, like those from MySmartBlinds, can automatically determine when to open or close, but you’ll need to enable this feature if you want your blinds to close in response to solar radiation.

Smart blinds are a great investment if you plan to stay in your house for awhile. Not only are they neat and gadgety for anyone interested in the Internet of Things, they can really reduce your utility bills. It could take a while for them to pay for themselves, though — shop carefully!

New Listing In Rimrock!

by AULT&ASSOCIATES

 

 

 

 

Cute. Cozy. Charming. Almost 1200 square feet of comfy living await you at 3635 E. Montezuma Ave. Comprised of 3-beds and 2-baths, a spacious living area, kitchen, breakfast nook and interior laundry room. The exterior offers a fenced, grass backyard with a large, covered deck, plus a spacious shed complete with electricity. The home offers some energy saving features also, such as a solar fan in the attic that automatically turns on when the temperature reaches 80-degrees, to disperse the heat of those warm, Arizona summer afternoons, as well as a radiant barrier in the rafters, and the back of the home is south-oriented for a possible solar option. The HVAC has been recently inspected and given a clean bill of health, and the entire home has been recently rodent proofed. All of the above is situated on .21-acres and was built in 2003. To see additional pictures and view the virtual tour, please visit www.3635Montezuma.com

MLS # 518301. Priced at $234,500

7-Must Know Smoke Detector Facts

by AULT&ASSOCIATES

Every morning, it’s the same thing. You get out of bed, take a shower, burn the toast and then curse the smoke detector. Although its singing the song of its people can be incredibly loud and awful to hear, the truth is that smoke detectors save lives. So, while your smoke detector may sing way off tune, it’s trying very hard to protect you and your family from smoke- and fire-related hazards, like your morning toast.

It’s time to check your smoke detector batteries yet again — and to learn more about those white pucks that hang out on the ceiling. Meet Your Friendly Neighborhood Smoke Detector.  Every single day, your smoke alarms hang around next to the ceiling, just waiting for something to go wrong. They don’t ask for much, which is why most people tend to forget they even exist. But the job they do is vital to the safety and security of not only you and your family, but the families that neighbor you. You’ve heard it a hundred times: check your smoke detector batteries. Check those batteries! Hey, by the way, have you checked your smoke alarm batteries? But for most people, that’s as intimate as they ever get with these clever devices.

Here are some things to know about smoke detectors:

1. Working smoke alarms give you additional escape time in the case of an actual fire. Thirty-eight percent of home fire deaths from 2009 to 2013 were do to a lack of functioning smoke alarms. In the homes that had smoke alarms that failed, 46 percent had missing or disconnected batteries.

2. Best places to install smoke alarms are in each bedroom, in halls outside of bedrooms and in every major living area. Why so many? Closed doors can slow the spread of smoke and living areas on upper or lower floors may have a significant blaze going before smoke is noticeable.

3. Interconnected smoke alarms are considered the safest option currently on the market. These alarms are connected to each other and often directly powered through your home’s electrical system, with a battery backup. When one detects smoke, they all go off. It can be annoying if you tend to burn the toast, but when it’s a real fire, all that noise will be a life saver.

4. Smoke detectors work in one of two different ways. One type, called an ionization detector because it uses electrically charged particles to detect smoke in the air, is faster to respond to flaming fires with small smoke particles. The other, known as a photoelectric detector, uses beams of light to check for smoke particles in the air. These are better for smouldering fires. Both will get the job done, though!

5. Most people don’t realize that smoke detectors need maintenance, too! You should check the battery monthly and use the bristle attachment on your vacuum to clean any debris off of your detector twice a year. You’ll also want to change the battery twice a year. Many people do this when they change their clocks for Daylight Savings Time.

6. Smart Smoke Detectors can save you money on insurance. It’s true! If your smoke detectors are connected via WiFi, they can call for help or send you a message about their status. Many insurance companies love these features, as they reduce the amount of damage insured homes suffer in case of a fire. Break out the cool new tech and reap the savings!

7. There are other, similar detectors on the market. While you’re shopping for smoke detectors, you may come across heat or carbon monoxide detectors. These units look very similar, but they function very differently. Heat detectors literally detect high heat, so aren’t very fast to respond in a residential setting. They’re best used in small, confined spaces. Carbon monoxide detectors, however, are very suitable for home use. They measure the amount of carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas created by combustion, in the air. If dangerous amounts are detected, you’ll know and be able to make your home safe again. Most homes use these in conjunction with smoke detectors.

5 Criteria for Pricing a Home

by AULT&ASSOCIATES

When you put your home up for sale, one of the best ways to determine the asking price is to look at comparable sales. There’s rarely a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, so a pricing decision often relies on comparisons to several recent sales in the area. Here are five criteria to look for in a sales comparison.

1.  Location: Homes in the same neighborhood typically follow the same market trends. Comparing your home to another in the same neighborhood is a good start, but comparing it to homes on the same street or block is even better.

2.  Date of sale: It varies by location, but housing markets can see a ton of fluctuation in a short time period. It‘s best to use the most recent sales data available.

3.  Home build: Look for homes with similar architectural styles, numbers of bathrooms and bedrooms, square footage, and other basics.

4.  Features and upgrades: Remodeled bathrooms and kitchens can raise a home’s price, and so can less flashy upgrades like a new roof or HVAC system. Be sure to look for similar bells and whistles.

5.  Sale types: Homes that are sold as short sales or foreclosures are often in distress or sold at a lower price than they’d receive from a more typical sale. These homes are not as useful for comparisons.

The Best Reason You Should Sell Your House This Fall

by AULT&ASSOCIATES

The minute Seasons change, everyone in real estate starts justifying why “Now!” is the best time to sell your home. And when it comes to Fall, the main reason real estate agents give is because there are usually less houses on the market to compete with. Or, the buyers in the market are more “serious”.

To me, the best reason for selling in the Fall (or any other time of year for that matter) is because you need to. If you don’t need to sell…wait. Not until Spring. Wait until you need to. Wanting to sell your house isn’t a bad reason. However, selling a house is a pretty big decision, and too many homeowners put their homes on the market prematurely.

The problem with that?

Since they don’t “need” to sell, they often overprice their homes, which leads to their listing becoming “stale.” That leads to giving buyers the impression that something must be wrong with the house…and often selling for less than the house could have. “Need” is not always easy for a homeowner to pinpoint. Many homeowners will even say they don’t need to sell. But in my experience, if someone is even thinking about selling their house, there is usually a need. It’s just hard to put a finger on.

So, if you’ve been thinking about selling, but aren’t quite sure if you need to… …give me a ring, text or email and I’ll help you figure out if you truly do have a need, or if it makes sense for you to wait until Spring…or the Spring after…or the Spring after that.

If you are thinking of selling, but not just yet, we have a great booklet that we can send you, at no charge, hassle or obligation, entitled “How To Prepare Your House For Sale.” Just let me know if you’d like it, and it’s yours!

But if you do need to sell, the Fall is certainly a fine time to sell. (And yes, you are still able to get the same booklet as mentioned above)! ;-)

4/22/17 – 4/22/18 (Sedona): Total Closed Sales: Up 12% from 205 to 232, over this same time last year. Median Recorded Sale Price: Up 12% from $467,500 to $530K, over this same time last year. Price Per Square Foot: Up 3% from $246 / sq. foot to $254 / sq. foot, over this same time last year. Days On Market: The one category we don’t mind seeing a drop…The average days on market was down 9%, from 158-days on market, to 145-days on the market for the average sale, over this same time last year.

 

4/22/17 – 4/22/18 (Cottonwood): Total Closed Sales: Up 8% from 334 to 361, over this same time last year. Median Recorded Sale Price: Up 14% from $201K to $229,900, over this same time last year. Price Per Square Foot: Up 10% from $135 / sq. foot to $148 / sq. foot, over this same time last year. Days On Market: We are seeing a 6% increase in the time a house sits on the market, from 108 days on average to 114, over this same time last year.

It is still a great time for a Seller to come on the market if they are thinking about selling their home.  Inventory remains low and Buyer demand for "the next best thing" remains very high.  If you price your home right, we are seeing multiple offers and offers going well over asking price.  If you or someone you know are thinking about selling, please don't hesitate to contact us for a free, no obligation MAP Review, which is our complimentary Marketing and Pricing Review we will do for you to help you understand how we would market your home and where you would be in today's marketplace. 

We are here to help! 

"One Call Gets Us All!"

Most renters put off buying a home because they think renting is more affordable than buying their own home. But with rents rising across the nation at historic rates, home ownership is becoming the more affordable option. According to a recent Market Outlook Report from Realtor.com, in 2017 rents rose year-over-year in a whopping 78% of counties across the US. These sometimes drastic increases in rent are eating up more of renters’ budgets and often making renting more expensive than purchasing. According to a recent study by Zillow, home ownership has become more affordable than renting in the majority of metro markets across the US. According to the study, the average renter pays nearly 30% of their income towards rent. The average homeowner pays significantly less, with only 15.4% of their income going towards their mortgage. In other words, in many markets, renting compromises nearly twice the income of owning a home.

The Takeaway If you’re renting as a way to save money, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Owning a home is a long-term investment strategy that can help you build your wealth. And with rising rents, it might be the more affordable option as well.

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re thinking about selling your home, the time to make the move is NOW. According to Realtor.com’s recent Housing Shortage Report, the US is experiencing its most severe inventory shortage in twenty years. And a recent Trulia report found that home inventory dropped a whopping 10.5% in Q4 of 2017—the biggest drop the market has experienced since mid-2013. In addition, the Trulia report found that homes across all categories—starters, trade-ups, and premium—are the most unaffordable they’ve been since Trulia started tracking the data. And while this is bad news for people looking to buy a home, it’s great news if you’re looking to sell. Low inventory is creating competition for homes across the nation, and that competition is driving up prices, making it an ideal climate for sellers.

The Takeaway This competition and low inventory isn’t going to last forever; in a recent article, economics experts from Realtor.com predict house inventory to start increasing towards the second half of 2018 (largely due to new construction). If you’re thinking about selling, now is the time to act.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to historically low inventory and an extremely competitive market, home prices across the nation have been steadily rising in recent years. And according to expert predictions, it doesn’t look like that trend is going to change in 2018. According to CoreLogic’s recent Home Price Insights report, home prices are expected to increase by 4.3% in 2018. While that’s less than the 2016-2017’s year-over-year change, which came in at 6.3%, it’s still a significant increase. If you purchased a home for $200,000 today, that same home is projected to cost you an additional $8,600 by the end of the year. Homes have steadily been getting more expensive, and they’re just going to continue to get more expensive in the upcoming year. Buying at the start of 2018 can save you thousands (even tens of thousands) of dollars vs. waiting until the end of the year to make a purchase.

The Takeaway If you’re thinking about buying a home in 2018, talk to your real estate agent and start looking at properties before prices start to spike.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 19

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Photo of Ault&Associates - Claudia R. Ault / Larry Ault / G Real Estate
Ault&Associates - Claudia R. Ault / Larry Ault / G
eXp Realty
Sedona AZ 86336
(928)301-3016
(928)301-0852

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