How to Know When It’s Time for a Bigger House

Knowing when to “upgrade” is half the battle in real estate. Over the last few years there’s been a lot of talk about downsizing and living smaller but the fact is, some growing families need more space, not less. The move-up buyer is one of the demographics spurning the real estate market comeback…home prices are currently at 2002/2003 levels but increasing every day. If you’ve been waiting out the market, now’s the perfect time to buy a larger home.

The average first home is around 1,500 square feet and most first-time buyers have a family size of about 2.7 people. Second homes, however, average 2,000+ square feet and are getting larger. Did you know that in 2010, the median size for a new-construction home in the US was almost 2,400 square feet?

So, how do you know when your family is ready for a bigger house? Here are a few signs the On the Move Charlotte team has noticed usually mean it’s time to “move up.”

Your Family is Growing

The number one reason people decide to buy a larger home is an increase in family size. Many people buy their first home before they have children and only realize they need more space once more kids come into the picture. Children aren’t the only way families grow, either. From a new pet to a live-in parent, families expand in all sorts of ways which means a need for more bedrooms, bathrooms, and even parking spaces.

You Want Your Amenities In-House

As cities spread out, more and more families find themselves choosing suburban life over urban dwelling. Larger homes slightly further out from retail and restaurants encourage homeowners to install much of what they need inside their houses. Home gyms are increasingly popular as are gourmet-style kitchens. Why join a neighborhood swim club when you can upgrade to a house that already has a pool in the backyard?

Your Needs Have Changed

Large homes simply aren’t appropriate for every stage of life. A single 27-year old man in Charlotte likely needs less space but more walkability, but his needs may change when he’s 35, married, and has two kids. Perhaps you’ve started an at-home business and you need an extra bedroom to use as an office. Maybe your kids are of an age where you’d like a finished basement for them to spread out. Whatever the case, shifting priorities are a fact of life and they’re often the motivating factor for a move up buyer.

You’ve Recouped Your Equity

If you purchased your current home before the real estate downturn five years ago you’ve likely been waiting to sell until the timing’s right. Well, the timing’s right. Mortgage rates are hitting record lows (some hovering around 2.5%) and in many parts of the country the “seller’s market” is back. The best time to buy a bigger home is when you can sell your current place for close to if not more than you bought it for and upgrade before prices begin to skyrocket. Many Charlotte neighborhoods are experiencing exactly these conditions making 2013 one of the best times to buy a bigger home in years.

You Can Afford It

If Americans learned anything from the real estate crisis of 2008, it’s never to buy a home they can’t afford. Before you know if you’re ready for a bigger home, spend some time researching mortgage rates and talk to a financial adviser to find out if taking on more debt is in your best interest. Real estate is and always has been a solid long-term financial investment and buying a bigger home when your family needs one can often be a savvy money move. If you determine you can comfortably afford the payment, manage the increased utility expenses, and furnish a larger house, you may be ready to upgrade.

 

Call the brokers at On the Move Charlotte today to talk about whether or not it’s time for your family to begin looking for a larger house. Buying a bigger home is an important decision, but one that most families find necessary and even rewarding at some point during home ownership. Leigh Bryant, John Elliott, and Michelle Duyck will work with you to find the best home for your current needs.

704.516.3318

 

6 Things You Must Do Before Listing Your Home

Spring is upon us! It’s one of the best times of the year to put your house on the market and many areas (including Charlotte) are posting their best numbers in years. If you’ve been considering selling your home, there are a few things you must do to appeal to buyers even in the best of markets, most of which are quick and relatively inexpensive.

Here are six tips from the On the Move Charlotte team to help get your house sold!

 

6. Get an Inspection Before Going to Market.

Traditionally, a home inspection is only ordered once an offer is on the table. Smart sellers are now getting their own inspections before ever even listing their home – it’s a great way to identify issues that could sink a sale once a contract’s been drawn up. A couple hundred dollars spent on a quality inspection now could save you months of lost time if problems are identified down the road.

5. Staging, Staging, Staging.

It’s impossible to underestimate the effect of proper staging! Home buyers find it notoriously difficult to imagine what a home will look like filled with furniture, and staging’s a great way to transform ambiguous parts of your home into purposeful spaces buyers can appreciate. Nothing confuses buyers more than an empty shell of a home, particularly when compared to a warm, homey, lived-in house.

4. Know Your Market Well.

Of course, your real estate agent will have a thorough understand of your neighborhood and comparables in the area but as a seller it’s important to check out the “competition.” Walk your neighborhood with buyers’ eyes and try to look at your home objectively. Check out online listings of homes within a few miles and see how they’re presented. Even consider asking your broker to take you through a few comps to check out the way they show relative to your home.

3. Clear Out, Clean Up, and Freshen Your House.

You don’t have to undergo a complete kitchen renovation to get your home sold. Consider which aspects of your home are the most glaringly negative and tackle those first. Does your bedroom look totally outdated? Change out the curtains and bedspread. Carpet look worn and dirty? Bring in a steam cleaner. A few hundred bucks goes a long way when preparing your house for market. And don’t forget to ‘de-clutter’ your house before showing it: remove family pictures, clear off countertops and shelves, and of course, keep the house clean at all times in case of an impromptu showing!

2. Pay Attention to Curb Appeal.

The fastest selling houses are always attractive from the moment a buyer pulls up. Spring is a great time to plant a few colorful flower beds or bring in a lawn care pro to spruce up the grass. Keep the yard clear of debris like pinecones and branches to make it look maintenance-free. It may be expensive but is often worth it to consider having your home repainted for a fresh, clean look.

1. Listen to Your Broker.

Sometimes sellers have a hard time hearing constructive criticism regarding their home. Remember, your broker has your best interests at heart and they want to sell your home for you as much as you want it sold! If your broker is telling you something needs to change – be it your price, your dining room table, or the litter box – listen carefully. Experienced brokers know what buyers in your area are looking for and are typically the best source of information you can hope to have.

Picture of Leigh Bryant, Realtor - Keller Williams Realty

Thinking about listing your home? Call Leigh Bryant today at 704.513.3318 to find out more about your particular neighborhood and discuss your options as a seller. There’s no better time to sell than Spring!

Charlotte’s First Quarter Stats for 2013, Featuring Harold!

Harold, On the Move Charlotte’s unofficial mascot, is back to deliver Charlotte’s Q1 real estate stats for 2013. Some interesting data has already emerged this year concerning Charlotte, home sales, and the overall economy.

Take a look!

 

If you have questions about what Charlotte’s current market state means for your property sale or search, call the On the Move Charlotte team today at 704.516.3318.

 

Charlotte’s Best 2013 St. Patrick’s Day Events

Everyone knows Charlotte’s a great place to live but do the folks in CLT really know how to throw a party?

This year St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday (March 17th, as always) and The Queen City actually has tons of locally-sponsored events going on in celebration. All weekend long bars, restaurants, and entire neighborhoods will be partying on the greenest-of-holidays.

So put on your Leprechaun hat and head out to one of these Charlotte St. Patty’s Day celebrations!

 

Charlotte St. Pat’s Day Parade and Charlotte Goes Green Festival:

One of the largest events of the weekend, Uptown Charlotte hosts a family-friendly parade and festival beginning at 11:00am on Saturday, March 16th. Food, music, and tons of Irish dancing – bring the kids and enjoy the beautiful weather in Uptown this weekend!

 

Rich and Bennet’s 13th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl

Not for the faint of heart, this all-day pub crawl is the largest of its kind in the world! Kicking off at Dixie’s Tavern bewteen 12-3pm, participants can buy tickets on-site and spend the day pacing themselves with fun t-shirts and St. Patty’s day brews at some of Uptown’s most popular watering holes.

 

 

 

Gallaway Hooker Irish Pub

Located near Lake Norman, Gallaway’s is closed on Sunday but open all day Friday and Saturday for a green beer or some corned beef and cabbage.

 

Sir Edmond Halley’s Restaurant and Freehouse

Hidden behind the Park Road Shopping Center in South Charlotte, Sir Edmond’s has a reputation for great Irish-American food outside of St. Patty’s Day. The day-of they’re pitching a heated tent in the back complete with bagpipe music and Irish dancers!

 

Big Ben’s Pub

Big Ben’s is actually a British pub and taphouse but they pull out all the stops come St. Patty’s Day. All weekend long they’ve got food and drink specials, live music, and Irish heritage games and events. Located in South End, Big Ben’s is light-rail adjacent.

 

Green River Revival

Charlotte’s famed White Water Center takes “festive” to a whole new level, dying their river green in honor of the holiday. There are events all day long beginning at 10:00am including a 5K, live music, and tons of Irish activities for the kids. Admission varies by age at the door.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Block Party in Elizabeth

At the corner of 7th and Caswell you’ll find the St. Pat’s Block Party. Kennedy’s Irish Pub, Philosopher Stone’s and Jackelope Jack’s are all offering drink specials and games for willing participants.

 

Latta Celtic Festival

Historic Latta Plantation uses St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate their Celtic Heritage, complete with authentic music, period dress, and a brewery-off where attendees can taste various Irish beers. Both Saturday and Sunday visitors will be welcome until dark.

 

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day on Main

Actually in South Carolina, Main Street in Rock Hill turns into an Irish Extravaganza on Sunday, March 17th. The 5th annual parade and celebration offers tons of kids’ activities and food for adults, too.

 

Charlotte REALTOR Leigh Bryant is celebrating with an open house, Sunday, March 17th from 1-3pm in Plaza Midwood. Don’t forget to stop by this charming, festive bungalow at 2906 Georgia Avenue!

 

 

 

Tips for Ensuring a Favorable Home Appraisal

Appraisals are big business in the real estate industry, referenced by both lenders and homebuyers as a benchmark for a property’s “true” value. Recently, however, as reported by Reuters, homeowners are having a difficult time obtaining what they believe to be a fair estimate for the value of their home from California to Florida.

A low appraisal can impact a homeowner in several ways. In many cases, homeowners seeking a refinance are denied when a bank-ordered appraisal comes up short. Other homeowners looking to sell find resistance from the market when they list their homes above its appraised value.

If you’re going to undergo an inspection by an official licensed appraiser in the near future, here are a few suggestions for ensuring you get the very best appraisal value possible for your home.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT APPRAISER

One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make when ordered to get an appraisal is to choose an appraiser who doesn’t have intimate knowledge of their specific neighborhood. If you’re able to choose your own appraiser, select one who’s based no more than 10-miles away from your home and preferably living in your community. If the bank is selecting the appraiser specifically request they send a local licensee.

KEEP GOOD RECORDS

Before the appraiser ever arrives at your home, take some time to pull records concerning every upgrade or renovation you’ve made to the house. Include receipts from home improvement stores and estimates for work done on the house and before-and-after pictures, if possible. It’s also smart to reference local comparables in the neighborhood you think the appraiser should be made aware of. Ask your real estate broker to help identify three solid comps near your home and be sure they find the right hands.

CLEAN UP AND BE CONFIDENT

Just like homebuyers, appraisers are human beings and often have a hard time seeing past a home that’s cluttered, dirty, or overgrown. Present your home to an appraiser the same way you would to the open market to get the best results. Never follow the appraiser around while they’re in your home unless specifically requested – appraisers say not being allowed space to properly inspect the home is a surefire sign the owner has something to hide.

GET YOUR OWN APPRAISAL

If you’re in a situation like as a refinance where you’re forced to work with an appraiser not of your choosing, shell out a few hundred dollars and get an appraisal of your own. You’ll likely have more control over the selected licensee and can lobby against a bad appraisal with a higher one if necessary.

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Don’t be afraid to get directly involved in your home appraisal. Many homeowners don’t understand that an appraisal happens with them, not to them, and may underestimate the impact pointed questions and suggestions can have on the appraisal outcome.

If you’re looking for a qualified appraiser in your area or just have questions about whether or not you need a home appraisal, call Leigh Bryant’s team at Keller Williams Southpark to speak about your options.

Most Common Homeowner’s Tax Mistakes

As you calculate your tax returns, consider each home tax deduction and credit you are — and are not — entitled to. Running afoul of any of these 9 home-related tax mistakes — which tax pros say are especially common — can cost you money or draw the IRS to your doorstep.

Sin #1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes

You take a tax deduction for property taxes in the year you (or the holder of your escrow account) actually paid them. Some taxing authorities work a year behind — that is, you’re not billed for 2013 property taxes until 2014. But that’s irrelevant to the feds.

Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you actually paid in 2013, no matter what the date is on your tax bill. Dave Hampton, CPA, tax manager at the Cincinnati accounting firm of Burke & Schindler, has seen home owners confuse payments for different years and claim the incorrect amount.

Sin #2: Confusing escrow amount for actual taxes paid

If your lender escrows funds to pay your property taxes, don’t just deduct the amount escrowed, says Bob Meighan, CPA and vice president at TurboTax in San Diego. The regular amount you pay into your escrow account each month to cover property taxes is probably a little more or a little less than your property tax bill. Your lender will adjust the amount every year or so to realign the two.

For example, your tax bill might be $1,200, but your lender may have collected $1,100 or $1,300 in escrow over the year. Deduct only $1,200. Your lender will send you an official statement listing the actual taxes paid. Use that. Don’t just add up 12 months of escrow property tax payments.

Sin #3: Deducting points paid to refinance

Deduct points you paid your lender to secure your mortgage in full for the year you bought your home. However, when you refinance, says Meighan, you must deduct points over the life of your new loan. If you paid $2,000 in points to refinance into a 15-year mortgage, your tax deduction is $133 per year.

Sin #4: Misjudging the home office tax deduction

This deduction may not be as good as it seems. It’s complicated, often doesn’t amount to much of a deduction, has to be recaptured if you turn a profit when you sell your home, and can pique the IRS’s interest in your return. Hampton’s advice: Claim it only if it’s worth those drawbacks. If so, here’s what to  know about what you can write off.

Sin #5: Failing to repay the first-time home buyer tax credit

If you used the original home buyer tax credit in 2008, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years. If you used the tax credit in 2009, 2010, or 2011 and then sold your house or stopped using it as your primary residence, within 36 months of the purchase date, you also have to pay back the credit.

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe.

Sin #6: Failing to track home-related expenses

If the IRS comes a-knockin’, don’t be scrambling to compile your records. Many people forget to track home office and home maintenance and repair expenses, says Meighan. File away documents as you go. For example, save each manufacturer’s certification statement for energy tax credits and lender or government statements to confirm property taxes paid.

Sin #7: Forgetting to keep track of capital gains

If you sold your main home last year, don’t forget to pay capital gains taxes on any profit. You can exclude $250,000 (or $500,000 if you’re a married couple) of any profits from taxes. So if you bought a home for $100,000 and sold it for $400,000, your capital gains are $300,000. If you’re single, you owe taxes on $50,000 of gains. However, there are minimum time limits for holding property to take advantage of the exclusions, and other details. Consult IRS Publication 523.

Sin #8: Filing incorrectly for energy tax credits

If you made any eligible improvements in 2012 — or will in 2013 — such as installing energy-efficient windows and doors, you may be able to take a 10% tax credit (up to $500). But keep in mind, it’s a lifetime credit. If you claimed the credit in any recent years, you’re done. Fill out Form 5695.

Part II of the form, which covers systems eligible for a larger tax credit through 2016, such as geothermal heat pumps, can be incredibly complex and involves crosschecking with half a dozen other IRS forms. Read the instructions carefully.

Sin #9: Claiming too much for the mortgage interest tax deduction

You can deduct mortgage interest only up to $1 million of mortgage debt, says Meighan. If you have $1.2 million in mortgage debt, for example, deduct only the mortgage interest attributable to the first $1 million.

Article courtesy of houselogic.com – see below for more information.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/taxes-incentives/common-tax-mistakes/#ixzz2Ja6etO2C

Harold Delivers End of Year Stats for Charlotte Area

 

charlotte end of year stats

Harold Delivers December 2012 Stats and Forecast for 2013

 

Charlotte Area’s November Market Stats

My friend Harold has come back to town to share the November stats in our area with us.  Check him out!  End of year summary coming soon.