Ways to SAVE During Tax Season

It’s that dreaded time of year when your taxes need to be done.  But this year you might have something to look forward to.  Did you know that if you purchased a home in 2016, you could be eligible to get some tax breaks?  Whether you paid cash for your home or financed it through a mortgage, read on to find out how you could benefit from your home purchase last year.

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DEDUCTING MORTGAGE INTEREST

Great news!  All that interest you paid on your mortgage over the year could be tax-deductible.  For some homeowners, interest paid can yield a significant tax-break, and even more so in the early years of paying toward your loan.  This applies whether you pay interest on a condo, boat, mobile home, or RV used as a residence with sleeping, cooking and toilet facilities. Talk to an expert to see if you meet the requirements.

REAL ESTATE TAXES

You can also deduct taxes based on the assessed value of your home and property.  These taxes can usually be deducted in the year in which they are paid.  Does your lender currently escrow your taxes and insurance?  If so, they will send a statement to you that you will file with your tax returns.  Ask an expert for help in determining if you qualify.

HOME IMPROVEMENTS

If you make any improvements to your home (or made any last year), including home renovations, fencing, or new roofing, save all your receipts and records of this.  While you can’t deduct these expenses this year, you could deduct them when you sell your home in the future.

Want to discuss buying or selling a home in 2017?  We are at your service! Call, text, or email us any time.

(360) 941-3734

Info@JeanGroesbeck.com

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Staging Your Home to Sell

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Before staging and after staging

When you list your home with Jean Groesbeck & Assoc. LLC, we provide of our clients with a complimentary staging consultation because we understand the importance of making a great first impression to a buyer.

By decorating and arranging a home’s interior to present an ideal way of life, buyers are assisted in visualizing themselves in your home. Whether you undertake the process of staging your own home or decide to consult a professional, there are a number of different “props” that may be used around the home. For example, to add a vibrant sense of life to the home, many home staging professionals recommend using different types of potted plants and arrangements of flowers and fruit. Throughout the home, they tend to utilize soft, luxurious fabrics such as satin, lamb’s wool and silk to create an atmosphere of comfort. This process can also extend to the exterior of the property, where patio furniture can be added in the backyard and colorful flowers or unique accessories outside the front door.

Many home staging professionals come from interior design or art-related backgrounds. Hence, when working on staging a home for sale, these professionals utilize a number of visual tricks to capture the attention of potential buyers. For instance, furniture is always arranged very carefully to simulate the ideal living space. In living rooms, home staging professionals often use love seats and ottomans in lieu of large couches to create the illusion of added space. Likewise, mirrors are often placed throughout a staged home to make the living area seem larger to potential buyers.

One of the most important steps in home staging is the exchange of your personal decorations with more neutral furnishings. Beyond replacing family pictures with more design-friendly items, a successful home staging will attempt to eliminate any idiosyncratic tastes and represent a living space that has broad appeal. This commonly used tactic simply helps potential buyers view the property not as someone else’s home, but as something they can call their own.

Without any furniture or amenities, even a home for sale in the most attractive area can make potential buyers feel uncomfortable. If you are trying to sell your home and have already moved out, you may want to consider working with your agent to stage the home’s interior. With the assistance of your agent and a home staging professional, you could quickly transform a lifeless house into dream home.

In the end, home staging is about making the most of your home’s potential. If the staging of your home is completed effectively, it is also possible that your home may receive better offers from potential buyers and spend less time on the market. By minimizing the flaws of your home and making the living area seem larger, brighter and more appealing, home staging may be one of the most important steps in selling your home quickly and at the right price.

We look forward to working for you and assisting with all of your real estate needs. Contact us today at (360) 941-3734 or at Jean@JeanGroesbeck.com.

Competing with New Homes in Today’s Market

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If you are selling a home in Anacortes or anywhere in Skagit County, it is important to look at your competition. If your home is in a price range that has new homes listed, it is even more important that your home is move-in ready.

Beyond the updated kitchen and bathrooms, buyers want homes that will not need maintenance within the next five years. Other things to consider are that the roof and gutters need to be cleaned, the furnace serviced, appliances working, fresh paint, stain free and clean carpet, cupboards clean and organized and no mildew on decks and patios.

Even if you do not have new homes in your area, 70 percent of Skagit County buyers want move-in ready homes. They expect the homes on the market to have spotless kitchens, fresh caulking in bathrooms and perfect windows.

Of course we can sell homes that are not in excellent condition, but sellers do not get top-dollar. Some sellers value time more than money so they are willing to have a lower selling price rather than having work done.

For most of us, we want top dollar for any real estate we sell. When you allow Jean Groesbeck & Assoc. LLC to market your home in Anacortes or anywhere in Skagit, Island and San Juan Counties, you will receive professional and complimentary staging services.

If you are thinking of remodeling and want to consider resale value of your home in Anacortes or anywhere in Skagit, Island and San Juan Counties, we are happy to discuss with you. Contact us at (360) 941-3734 or Jean@JeanGroesbeck.com today!

2017 Kitchen Trends

 
by Eileen Hebert, broker, Jean Groesbeck & Assoc. LLC in Anacortes.

Kitchen design trends are constantly evolving–and these days, with digital media giving homeowners a constant stream of inspiration, it seems like new styles are coming and going at an even faster rate. If you’re planning to refresh your kitchen in 2017, make sure it’s cutting edge be incorporating what are sure to be the biggest kitchen design trends for 2017.

Tuxedo kitchen cabinets: Mix up a kitchen’s color palette with Tuxedo cabinets. Two-tone cabinetry means you don’t have to choose just one finish for your cabinets.  It’s all about the two-toned look, whether you paint the upper cabinetry one shade and the lower set another, or simply finish a kitchen island in a different finish.  You will never go wrong with classic black and white.

Hidden Appliances:  Hidden appliances are those that are made to look as if they are cabinets, with the same design in doors and hardware. The trend will be towards hidden appliances, even small appliances such coffee makers and microwaves, and certainly bigger items like refrigerators and dishwashers.

Nearly every appliance but the stove can be “hidden” and disguised as cabinetry and this creates a clean, uncluttered looking kitchen overall.

Quartz Countertops:  Quartz kitchen countertops, marble and wood are versatile modern kitchen trends for 2017. Concrete, stainless steel and glass add industrial style vibe to modern kitchens and offer the latest trends in contemporary kitchen design. Quarts kitchen countertops look like granite. Solid and practical, easy to clean and very attractive, quartz kitchen countertops are convenient and eco friendly solutions for modern kitchens.

Mixed hardware finishes:  Hardware is like the jewelry for your kitchen design and there are more options out there than ever before. Skip the standard nickel knobs and brass bar pulls from the big box store and opt for something special. Instead of going for a monochromatic stainless steel look, homeowners are choosing accessories with various finishes, such as gold, copper or pewter. Among the details seen on hardware: hammered finishes, leather trim, and even pulls made from slices of agate.

If you’re ready for a kitchen remodel in 2017, keep these trends in mind. Opt for natural materials for both your countertop and backsplash choices, utilizing bold colors wherever possible. You’ll have a kitchen update that’s perfect for your home.

If you would like more information on home trends, contact Eileen Hebert at (360) 770-7090 or email her at Eileen@JeanGroesbeck.com

Home Safety

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Safety and security are part of the comforts of home, however there are many things that can easily become hazardous without our even realizing. Fortunately there are some simple steps you can take to keep your loved ones safe:

 

  • Throughout your home, check that handrails and banisters are in good repair and that they will not give way to children or elderly individuals that may live in or visit your home. Look at areas both indoors and outdoors that may need handrails or other support installed and evaluate whether or not they would be beneficial to your family.
  • Replace burned-out bulbs throughout your home, especially in areas such as stairways that may be difficult to get to or overlooked. Unknown to many, burned-out bulbs can be a fire hazard as dust will build on the bulbs and they are likely to spark when a switch gets turned off and on regularly.
  • Replace faulty wiring immediately upon discovering it.
  • Install smoke alarms and check batteries twice each year.
  • Secure your home with quality door and window locks.
  • Trim shrubs and trees close to the house so you can easily see into your yard from windows.
  • Avoid an unoccupied look when you go away for extended periods of time by leaving a light or radio on. This can even be done with an automatic timing device.
  • Pause deliveries of mail and newspapers by phoning your local post office and newspaper carrier.
  • Have a trusted neighbor or friend keep an eye on your home. In some areas, you can ask your local police station about “vacation house checks” so the police will keep an eye on your home while you are away.

We are never too busy to assist you with your real estate needs! If you are looking for more ways to keep your home safe, give us a call! We would be happy to provide you with any information you need, or at least point you in the right direction!

What You Should Know About Home Appraisals

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Both the appraisal and inspection processes can be intimidating from both buyer and seller perspectives. Both take a very nit-picky look at your home, and both can affect the final negotiated price. Take a look at a few appraisal-related questions that we’ve answered for you:

How do inspections and appraisals differ?
Inspectors come to a property to gauge any concerns that may cause issues after the deal is done, while appraisers come specifically to assess the value of a property.

Why are appraisals necessary?
Lenders will not loan funds when a home has not been appraised; they want as much information as possible so they can loan the appropriate amount. For example, the lender does not want to “over-loan” on a property in the event that it is foreclosed and they are left with a home they cannot sell for the loan amount.

Who pays for the appraisal; the seller or the buyer?
Typically, the seller pays for the appraisal during closing the closing process.

How does the appraiser determine the property value?
Appraisals take into account key features of the home, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, and overall condition. Another huge factor is information about other comparable properties close to yours; property values surrounding you can have great impact on your home’s appraised price.

Is there anything the homeowner can do to improve the appraisal?
Save a copy of your seller’s disclosure form when initially so you can make note of any changes or improvements you’ve made to the home. Once the appraisal appointment has been made, speak to your Realtor about the possibility of him/her being present during the appraisal so they can point out any unseen and possibly value-increasing features.

The Importance of Home Inspections

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Many wonder why such an emphasis is placed on home inspections when they are not mandatory in the home buying or selling process.

The bottom line is: buying a home is already an expensive process- it is best to have a third party check for potential (unseen) problems before you are fully committed, rather than signing without knowing what you could be getting into.

One of the biggest indicators that the home inspection is important is that it can be used as a contingency in your purchase offer. This means that it can be used to back out the deal if certain significant defects are revealed by an inspection.

 

While inspectors may vary in thoroughness, there are certain key elements they should look at:

  • Whether or not the problems they find are safety issues, or major/minor defects.
  • Which items require replacement or servicing.
  • Which items should be monitored closely for possible repair/replacement in the future.

 

As a general rule, some of the items an inspector might look at include:

  • Foundation
  • Exterior Walls
  • Pest Problems
  • Roof Damage
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical Hazards
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning
  • Water Heater
  • Kitchen Appliances (provided any are staying with the home)
  • Laundry Room (proper ventilation)
  • Potential Fire Hazards
  • Bathrooms (proper ventilation, mold issues, water damage, etc.)

 

Potential safety concerns that should absolutely be addressed in the inspection are:

  • Radon
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Mold

 

Inspections may not always identify everything wrong with a property, but they can point you in the right direction if something appears amiss and if anything, you will have the opinion of an “expert” to back you up.

If you have any questions about home inspections (how to schedule, why they are important, etc.) give us a call! We would be happy to walk you through everything you need to know about buying or selling your home.

What is the Seller’s Disclosure Form?

The seller’s disclosure form is one that must be completed by everyone selling a home; it is a document that will ask you questions about your home that you may not have considered since you purchased the property yourself.

As it is one of the documents that the buyer will most closely look at, all questions need to be answered to the best of your knowledge. If they are not, it may delay the closing process and prompt even further questions from the buyer.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to put your mind at ease while completing this very detailed, legally-binding document!

Research your home. If you have recently moved into your home then you likely have much of the necessary information accessible, as it was made available to you when you purchased the home. If it has been a decade or so, you may have to do some digging through old paperwork to find information such as the make, model, and age of various components of your home (HVAC system, water heater, etc.). Buyers will want to note this information to see what kind of money, if any, will need to be spent upon moving in.

Be as accurate as possible. You hopefully had an inspection done when you moved into the home, which should be able to give you information on the roof, plumbing, electrical, etc. While doing your research, try to be as accurate as possible rather than guessing when something may have been installed or replaced.

Honesty is the best policy. Really, answer all questions to the best of your ability. If there is information to which you do not have access or a question is not applicable to your property, note that in the seller’s disclosure form. You do not want to appear ill-informed about your home and want to offer up as much information to the buyer as possible, so as to avoid any delays or issues with closing.

Remember, the seller’s disclosure form is a legally binding document that is required of all home sellers. There isn’t, however, any reason to be intimidated by it! Just make sure you are aware of what has been done in your home and which things potential buyers may take issue with. This will help both the home selling and buying process go smoother than you can imagine!

Call us today for more information on what to take into consideration when buying or selling your home!

Guest Blogger: Tim Hance – 5 Ways to Add Oustanding Value to Your Home

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Our friend Tim Hance, of All Islands Home Inspections has put together a great list of budget-friendly ways one can add value to a home. This has come at the perfect time as we approach summer and can take advantage of excellent weather

Inexpensive Ways to Add Great Value to Your Home

1. Create an Open Floor Plan

Conventionally, most households in the United States have a wall that separates the living room and the kitchen. Consequently, people in your sitting room can’t see the kitchen.

Lately, this trend continues to evolve as most home buyers prefer a house with an open space. If a wall separates your living room from the kitchen, remove the wall.

The resulting space will create an island between your kitchen and the living room. Eliminate this island by adding a table and some chairs to create a flow between the two rooms. As Jeanne Baron of This Old House argues, “you’ll increase the space and transform your home’s feel”.

2. Landscaping

Working on your home’s interior is commendable, but don’t forget about the look of those trees and bushes. Why? Because unkempt bushes and tangled trees can easily obscure views, promote mold and darken interiors.

While most homeowners may overlook it, landscaping is among the top three home investments with the highest returns. HomeGain, a real estate marketing company, surveyed 2,000 brokers and discovered that an investment of between $400 – $500 can generate up to four times in returns.

For this reason, pruning your trees is important. If the planters hinder potential buyers’ view of the house, they’ll move right on to other houses that are more visible. Other than losing potential home buyers, neglected Mother Nature can cause other costly damages to property.

3. Update Your Plumbing

If your iron pipes look old and rusty and you fear you’ve ingested enough metal through your drinking water to construct a small ship, it’s time to replace your plumbing system.
Believe it or not, appraisers heavily consider plumbing when giving value to your home. Back in the day, re-piping was a massive undertaking where contractors would have to dig up walls. Lately though, people prefer plastic piping because it’s reliable and easy to install. Professional plumbers can run it through the walls like extension cords.

4. Boost Your Bathroom

As Matt and Nicole, licensed realtors and remodeling experts put it, you can brighten your bathroom up with some paint and add wallpaper. Do not overdo the wallpaper addition, though.
Remember that the moisture in the room can quickly loosen your wallpaper. To prevent this, use super glue to attach the wallpaper to the wall.

Other simple additions you may need to make are introducing a new mirror and a few light fixtures. With these simple procedures, you’ll transform your bathroom from a plain Jane to a beauty queen.

5. Illuminate Your Space

Few people prefer a dark living space and that’s why lighting enhances the appeal of any home. You can do a few things to brighten your house, and these include fixing broken panes, ensuring windows open and fixing switches that trigger dim lighting.

Don’t forget about the lights outside the house as well. They are important for both aesthetic appeal and security.

To add value to your home and beautify it, consider both the interior and exterior parts. Start by implementing each of the above ways as they are the easiest and most inexpensive ways to add value.

Budget-Friendly Home Upgrades

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Home upgrades can typically bring on feelings of dread and come with big spending. Fortunately, there are numerous budget-friendly home upgrades that can be done through simple changes around the home- some of them only involve cleaning!

While cleaning your entire home should be at the top of your list if you are planning to sell, deep cleaning places you wouldn’t normally think of can make a huge impact on the overall feel of the home.
One or two times each year, be sure to give all of your kitchen cabinets a good scrub, as well as the walls of your kitchen and in rooms in which you spend the majority of your time. It can be surprising how much dust and dirt collects on the walls of our homes.

Speaking of the kitchen, did you know you can face lift your appliances? Many dishwasher panels are white on one side, and black on the other- just remove a few screws and turn things around! Check with your manufacturer to see what options you have, and whether or not they sell replacement panels. While you’re at it, give the insides of your appliances (including your dishwasher) a good scrub.

Brighten up your bathroom easily by checking first to make sure things are functional. Have you checked the caulking around your tub, sink, and baseboards recently? If it is discolored or peeling, redo it! Next, look at small items such as faucets, shower heads, and light fixtures. These are items that can easily (and fairly inexpensively) be replaced, yet will give the whole room a different feeling. This is also a good time to wipe down the front of your vanity to freshen it up without replacing it entirely.

Whether you are showing your home to sell or having a party, flooring is something that everyone looks at when they enter your home. If your carpet is worn and you are not willing or able to replace it, have it professionally cleaned! You can even rent a quality rug cleaner and take care of it yourself. If you don’t have carpet, be sure that you keep the floor swept and cleaned regularly; stepping on a sticky or crummy floor makes the whole room feel icky.

Anacortes, WA is home to many beautiful properties. Let us know if we can help you sell yours so we can give you even more information on cost-effective ways to update your home!