All posts by Tim McBrayer

Waiting Will Cost More

An economist responded when asked how interest rates would change: “They may fall some and then, rise and after that, they’ll fluctuate.”43276292-250.jpg

Just because interest rates have been low for ten years doesn’t mean they are supposed to be low. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates twice this year and are expected to go up twice more plus three times next year. Mortgage rates have risen from 3.95% to 4.62% since the first of January.

Increased rates directly affect the payments on homes but so does the price. With inventory levels remaining low, the prices will continue to go up. When interest rates and prices rise at the same time, it costs buyers a lot more.

If the mortgage rates go up by one percent and prices increase by five percent in the next year, the payment on a $250,000 home could go up by $200 a month. In a seven-year period, the buyer would pay $18,000 more for the home.

People planning to buy a home, need to investigate the possibilities of accelerating their timetable to take advantage of lower rates and prices. Use the Cost of Waiting to Buy calculator to see how much more it could cost you to wait. Call (919) 247-4667 if you have questions about what can be done now.

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The Tax Difference in Second Homes

A principal residence and a second home have some similar benefits, but they have some key tax differences. A principal residence is the primary home where you live and a second home is used mainly for personal enjoyment while limiting possible rental activity to a maximum of 14 days per year.10213246-250.jpg

Under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Mortgage Interest Deduction allows a taxpayer to deduct the qualified interest on a principal residence and a second home. The interest is reduced from a maximum of $1,000,000 combined acquisition debt to a maximum of $750,000 combined acquisition debt for both the first and second homes.

Property taxes on first and second homes are deductible but limited to a combined maximum of $10,000 together with other state and local taxes paid.

The gain on a principal residence retained the exclusion of $250,000/$500,000 for single/married taxpayers meeting the requirements. Unchanged by the new tax law, the gains on second homes must be recognized when sold or disposed.

Tax-deferred exchanges are not allowed for property used for personal purposes such as second homes. Gain on second homes owned for more than 12 months is taxed at the lower long-term capital gains rate.

This article is intended for informational purposes. Advice from a tax professional for your specific situation should be obtained prior to making a decision that can have tax implications.

Stung by a Bee? Here’s What to Do

Honeybees are an incredibly important part of our ecosystem, but unfortunately, when they feel threatened, they tend to provide a less-than-pleasant surprise. When stung by a bee, here are the steps you can take to reduce pain and inflammation, according to Thomas Arnold, MD, Professor and Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine, LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport.

Remove the stinger with a dull-edged object. Unlike wasps and other kinds of bees, honeybees have a barbed stinger that stays in the skin after a sting, ultimately killing the bee. Remove the stinger and venom sack with a blunt object like the edge of a credit card or a butter knife by gently scraping against the skin.

Apply a cool compress. Ice or another cool compress can reduce pain, while an antihistamine can help ease itching and swelling.

Elevate the area. The swelling caused by a sting can be quite scary. It's not uncommon for a hand that's stung to swell to twice its size. If the sting is on an extremity that can be raised, elevating it can help reduce swelling.

Some individuals may be allergic to bees, and in that case, their reactions will be more severe—and in some cases, deadly.

Dr. Arnold details what to watch for in someone who suffers a severe allergic reaction, also known as a generalized reaction. Stings in these individuals can cause anaphylaxis and can be fatal. Symptoms to watch closely for include:

-A feeling of uneasiness, tingling sensations, and dizziness
-Generalized itching and hives
-Swelling of the lips and tongue
-Wheezing and difficulty breathing
-Collapse and loss of consciousness

If any of these symptoms occur, call an ambulance to take the individual to a hospital immediately.

Source: MerckManuals.com

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

6 Fun, Educational Summer Activities for Kids

(Family Features)–Summer may be a break from formal education, but keeping kids excited about learning can be an easy way to keep them active and engaged instead of zoned out on screen time.

The National Summer Learning Association estimates that kids can lose up to two months of learning during the summer, but involving kids in educational summer activities can prevent them from forgetting skills they learned during the school year.

Encourage your kids to keep learning outside of school with these fun and educational summer activities.
Visit a Science Museum

Spend a rainy day enjoying a science museum, which offers hands-on experiences to make learning fun. Kids can build on what they've already learned and apply new discoveries when they return to school in the fall. Many museums offer special prices for families, which makes it an opportunity for the whole family to bond. Once you get home, talk about favorite exhibits or lessons, and ask kids to express those memories on paper in the form of a journal entry or colorful drawing.

Head to the Zoo or Aquarium
At a conservation-oriented destination like an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited zoo or aquarium, kids can learn about the importance of environmentally friendly practices, animal care and welfare, and more. Families can also explore the unique challenges facing endangered species and discover how members are Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE). After learning about animals that need help, kids can visit zebrapen.com/aza for fun games that reinforce what they learned.

Go on a Nature Hike
Hikes provide abundant nature lessons, giving kids a chance to get some exercise while exploring and appreciating their surroundings. Visit a national or local park to get some fresh air and learn about preserving nature. Along with a picnic lunch, bring along information about local wildlife and plants, and have kids search for each item on the list as a scavenger hunt. Back at home, test their memories by having them create a collage of all the things they found.

See a Show at a Children's Theater
Experiencing live theater is a positive way to introduce kids to new cultural experiences. Because they're typically short in run time, most shows can hold the attention of kids of all ages while conveying important life lessons. Pick a show with lots of interaction that can allow kids to stay focused and maybe even participate in the action. Acting out their favorite scenes, illustrating favorite characters or writing a new scene or different ending are all ways to keep the learning going after the curtains close.

Join a Library Program
Special summer programs at libraries can give kids a chance to enhance their reading skills. Many local libraries offer contests that challenge kids to read a certain number of books during the summer and include a series of incentives for reaching certain milestones. The reading component is often supplemented with crafts and activities to make reading fun. Extend the challenge even further by choosing a favorite book and asking kids to write or draw a sequel that takes those characters on another exciting adventure.

Capture Life's Moments
In addition to getting out and exploring new things, encourage daily writing, coloring and expression by asking kids to creatively capture their summer experiences. Teaching kids to write and draw about things they find fun is a great way to reinforce what they've learned and foster a love for writing.

Source: Zebra Pen

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

When Neighbors Don’t Seem to Care

A home that isn’t being maintained like others in the neighborhood can negatively affect your visual sense of appeal and in some extreme cases, even affect property values. It might be an overgrown yard, a fence in need of repair, excessive noise, unruly pets, paint peeling on the home or even a car or boat parked in front of the home that hasn’t moved in weeks.2676519-250.jpg

Most people want to be good neighbors and may be willing to correct an issue once it is brought to their attention. A practical, but possibly confrontational, solution is to contact the responsible person and describe your perception of the issue. However, they may not always agree with the same urgency and it might be necessary to seek other remedies.

An owner-occupant may be more sympathetic to the neighbors and willing to correct the issue. If you think the home might be a rental property, check with the county tax records to identify the owner. They may be unaware of the situation and welcome the notification to protect their investment.

Another alternative might be to notify the homeowner’s association, if there is one. One of the benefits of a HOA is to enforce community appearance standards as set in the covenants or bylaws that specify how properties must be maintained. This could be a less personal method of reaching a beneficial outcome.

If the source of the problem is a code or housing violation, the city may be the ultimate authority. Most cities have a separate code and neighborhood services division and some cities have 311 for non-emergency assistance.

Live in a Small Space? You Can Still Buy in Bulk!

The appeal of shopping at a warehouse store like Costco or online at Amazon is so alluring—buy in bulk, order online, save on trips to the store, enjoy discounts…the advantages are many.

But if you live in a small space—like a condo, an apartment, or a diminutive home packed to the rafters with a large family—you may feel like bulk shopping is out of the question. Not so, says Emily Fleischaker, an organization expert who runs a kitchen organization service called Kitchen Fly, and recently shared some great tips with epicurious.com. Here’s what Fleischaker advises:

Start with a food diary. And not for counting calories! According to Fleischaker, paying attention to what you eat and how often you eat it will help you make wise decisions about what to buy in bulk. Taking notes on your cooking habits for two weeks will also provide clues as to what spices and ingredients might be wise to buy in bulk.

Divide and store based on use. Fleischaker says you don't have to store your bulk ingredients or food categories together if space doesn’t allow. Instead, divide up your bulk items and store them based on frequency of use. For example, if you use pasta regularly, keep a couple of boxes handy and store the rest on a high shelf or even in a closet in a different room.

Take things out of their original container. By “decanting” products like grains, beans and nuts into other storage containers, you’ll actually keep your cabinets more organized and your food items more accessible. Odds are, the vessels you transfer them to will take up less space, as well. Have a warehouse-sized can of olive oil or a huge sack of rice? Decant a small portion into a glass bottle or jar to keep handy—and store the rest in an out-of-the-way spot (think on a shelf in the garage or a bin under your bed).

Take inventory. Fleischaker suggests keeping a list of the items you've bought in bulk or that you have in an overflow storage area so that you don’t forget about them and accidentally buy more. Keep the list on the fridge or by your computer. 

Most importantly, be flexible. As your habits change, so should your organizational system, says Fleischaker. So, every now and then, start up a new food diary, rearrange your storage and restrategize your bulk shopping plan. Remember, it’s a fluid process that changes with the seasons and your cooking and eating preferences.
 
If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.

Surviving a Relocation

Relocating to a new area can be an exciting proposition. It can also be a process that's full of stress. Here are some tips from relocation pros to help ease the strain and emphasize the positive when moving out of town:

1. Lighten your load. Getting rid of unnecessary paperwork, clothing, knickknacks and furniture is essential with any move, but even more so when you’re relocating out of town or out of state. Not only will this save on moving costs, it will save you unpacking time on the other end, allowing you to focus on that new job that brought you to the area and on getting to know your new community and neighbors—all of which is more important than stacking books you don’t need onto shelves.

2. Hire a pro. While you may have opted for DIY moves in the past, relocating out of the area warrants calling in the pros. If you’re being relocated by your employer, this is probably being covered, but even if you’re not, make room in the budget for moving professionals. Ask for referrals, get at least three quotes, and carefully go over all of their policies, including insurance for damages and loss.

3. Transition kids. Children add a whole new layer to the relocation equation, so make sure you make them top priority. Do your research to find the schools that will be the best fit and set appointments to meet with school counselors as you get to town (or even before you move, if possible). Find out where your kids can resume their favorite activities, whether it’s dance or hockey, and get some intel on whether similar-aged children live in the neighborhood. Keep the communication flowing and open, and address all of your children’s concerns head-on. At all costs, don’t minimize their concerns—validate them instead. 

4. Deal with all emotions. Your kids won’t be the only ones on an emotional rollercoaster. Be sure to process your own wide range of emotions along with those of your spouse or partner, in addition to those of family and friends you’ll be leaving behind. Don’t just talk about keeping in touch, but rather, make plans for doing so. And be sure to make use of technology to keep the connections real and frequent.

5. Make some plans. To make sure your arrival in your new location starts on a high note, plan some activities in advance, whether it’s dinner reservations at a local hot spot, a play or concert if you’re near a city center, or a hike at a nearby state park. The idea is to dive into the exciting activities your new location has to offer. This will help you begin to appreciate your new home, easing any sadness of leaving your old one behind.
 
If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Thanks for visiting my Blog site. If you would like to discuss this topic with me or get more information please contact me by calling 919-247-4667 or emailing me at Tim@TheTrianglesBroker.com. And you can always visit my personal real estate website for lots of additional information and to search for homes at www.TheTrianglesBroker.com or www.BuyAndSelllingTriangleHomes.com  McBrayer – The Triangles Broker.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2018. All rights reserved.