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Enjoy Your Improvements and Profit by Them

October 14, 2014

Capital Improvement Register.pngHomeowners can raise the basis or cost in their home by money spent on capital improvements. The benefit is that it will lower their gain and may save them taxes when they sell their home.

Improvements must add value to your home, prolong its useful life or adapt it to new uses. Repairs are routine in nature to maintain the value and keep the property in an ordinary, operating condition.

Additions of decks, pools, fences and landscaping add value to a home as well as new floor covering, counter-tops and other updates. Replacing a roof, appliances or heating and cooling systems would be considered to extend the useful life of the home. Completing an unfinished basement or converting a garage to living space are common examples of adapting a portion of the home to a new use.

Other items that can raise the basis in your home are special assessments for local improvements like sidewalks or curbs and money spent to restore damage from casualty losses not covered by insurance.

Here’s a simple idea that could save you money years from now.

Every time you spend money on your home other than the house payment and the utilities, put the receipt or canceled check in an envelope labeled “Home Improvements.” Regardless of whether you know if the money would be classified as maintenance or improvements, the receipt or cancelled check goes in the envelope.

Years from now, when you’ve sold your home and you need to report the gain on the property, you or your accountant can go through the envelope and determine which of the expenditures will be adjustments to your basis.

Some people disregard this idea because of the generous exclusion allowed on principal residences. At the unknown point in the future when you sell your home, circumstances may have changed and the proof of these expenditures will be valuable. The tax laws could lower the exclusion amount or eliminate it altogether. Your marital status may change because of death or divorce. The market value of your home may skyrocket.

Since the future is unknown, it is better to keep track of the improvements as they are made and how much is spent on them. Download an Improvement Register and examples or read more in Publication 523 on Increases to Basis.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW RETURNS TO MAD MYRNA’S FOR A FALL RUN…

October 14, 2014

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THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW RETURNS TO MAD MYRNA’S FOR A FALL RUN

Mad Myrna’s Productions is proud to announce that The Rocky Horror Show is back! Following in the theaters style of producing high energy, camp musicals, such as Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens, Little Shop of Horrors and more, Mad Myrna’s annual production of The Rocky Horror Show will open for a 21 show run from October 19th-November 17th.

Producer RJ Haywood and Director Cameron Morrison first teamed up on the summer 2012 production  of Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens. Following in the success and critical acclaim of that show, Executive Producer Jeff Wood (aka Mad Myrna) asked them to lead this years production of The Rocky Horror Show.

For several years the production of The Rocky Horror Show has taken on several themes. From circus, to Hollywood glamour, 80’s icons, the show has been reimagined over and over to great success. “Our theme this year is to take it all back to the beginning and pay homage to the movie that started it all. To really honor the amazing work of Richard O’Brien” RJ Haywood states.

The Rocky Horror Show first began as a stage musical in the early 70’s, with a USA premiere at the Roxy Theatre in L.A. in 1974. The Broadway opening occurred in March of 1975 at the Belasco Theatre. It was later made into a movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, widely considered a flop.

Cameron Morrison has brought on some of the past productions stars such as Regina MacDonald, Dean Williams, and Shawna Rayn Borgen. He also has brought on some very new talent in the lead roles. These fresh faces with fantastic voices are sure to delight the crowd with their take on the roles, such as Lisa Hartlieb as Janet Weiss, and Joey Murphy as Frank N Furter. With a brand new choreographer, and a new musical director this will not be The Rocky Horror Show that you are used to but will have the same energy, creativity and fun that audiences have come to expect.

Get your tickets now to make sure that you can come see this fun, disrespectful, and completely inappropriate masterpiece. Show times will be Thursday and Friday nights at 7pm, and Saturday nights at 7pm and 10pm. There will be a special Halloween show at 7pm on October 31st. Tickets are available at www.centertix.net . $23 for Thursday Shows, $28 for Friday and Saturday nights.

Article courtesy of: http://www.anchoragenightout.com/blog/60896/rocky-horror-show-returns-to-anchorage-ak

Opportunity Costs

October 7, 2014

iStock_000003622913X200x200.jpgSometimes, there are costs associated with not taking a particular action. If a person left their money in a certificate of deposit earning 2% when they could have made an investment that earned 8%, the difference is the opportunity costs associated to not taking action.

If a couple has a down payment and good credit, locking in a low interest rate mortgage for 30 years could easily provide their lowest cost of housing. If that couple waits three years to purchase a home, the price would probably be higher as would the mortgage rate.

However, assuming the price and interest rate remained constant, look at what the opportunity costs might be compared to doing nothing.

If their money was invested in a certificate of deposit at 2.00%, in two years their $8,750 would have grown to $9,104. They would have earned $354 and had to pay ordinary income tax on the interest.

If their money was invested in the stock market that had increased 7%, in two years they would have a profit of $1,268 which would be subject to long-term capital gains tax.

On the other hand, it the same investment was used to buy a home that increased in value at 3% annually, the equity would be $31,938 or an increase of $23,188. Tax would not be triggered until the home is sold and may not be due then based on their homeowner’s principal residence exclusion.

The home goes up in value due to appreciation and the unpaid balance goes down because of amortization. The dramatic difference in growth in the equity of the home is effected by leverage: the use of borrowed funds controlling the asset.

A home is a place of your own where you can feel safe and secure, to enjoy with your family and friends and in many instances, a very good investment. It is difficult to measure the opportunity costs of intangibles but not necessarily money.

Make your own projections with Your Best Investment.

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Crafting an Acceptable Offer

September 30, 2014

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An agent was presenting a contract to a single, senior woman who was moving into a retirement home. It was a full price offer with reasonable terms and timelines but the seller wouldn’t accept it. When the agent probed deeper, she discovered that the seller was concerned with her dining room table.

It had been the first piece of nice furniture that she and her husband had purchased and they had literally spent a lifetime celebrating and making decisions at that table. It troubled the owner to think that the table would go to strangers who might not appreciate it as much as her family had.

The agent told the elderly seller that she knew of a church nearby that had a community room filled with lovely tables like hers. If she liked the idea, the agent would call the church to see if they’d like to have it. Once a new home for the table was found, the sale of the home went smoothly.

Lower inventory and increased demand in certain price ranges have increased the frequency of multiple offers on the same home. Sellers are frequently faced with a decision dilemma on which offer to accept and the price may not be the most important factor.

Sellers generally need the equity from the sale of their home to purchase another one but they also don’t want to have to temporarily move if they’re not able to get into the home they’re purchasing. Flexible buyers have discovered the value in coordinating the sale and possession of the homes.

Sellers want to know when they make a decision on an offer, that the buyers will be able to perform as the contract is written. The more contingencies that can be eliminated or minimized, the more comfortable a seller will feel about the certainty that it will close according to schedule.

The buyer should be pre-approved with all verifications and credit reports having been done. Simply having a loan officer’s opinion is definitely not the same thing as a pre-approval.

There is a unique dynamic to every transaction because the parties are individuals with infinite priorities and values. The art of the deal takes place when these unique variables are considered to define a mutually acceptable offer involving price, terms and conditions. The role and experience of the agents contribute to the successful outcome.

Apple’s New HQ Will Be ‘The Greenest Building On The Planet’…

September 26, 2014

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Apple does it again! Here is a great article from BusinessInsider.com on Apple’s plans for their new headquarters. It is so nice to see a company as massive as Apple to look towards a greener Planet.

Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at New York City’s Climate Week on Monday where he proclaimed that Apple’s new “spaceship” headquarters would be “the greenest building on the planet,” according to 9to5Mac’s Zac Hall.

“We’re building a new headquarters that will, I think, be the greenest building on the planet,” Cook said about the building, which is under construction. “It’ll be a center for innovation, and it’s something clearly our employees want and we want.”

The building should open at the end of 2016.

Cook’s tenure as CEO has been marked by a renewed emphasis on Apple’s effect on the environment. Cook recently spoke to Charlie Rose about Apple’s sustainability efforts:

“You know, we want to leave the world better than we found it,” he said. “What does that mean for us?  It means that we take toxins out of all of our products. We’ve done that.”

To his claim about Apple’s new headquarters, Cook said the building would be exclusively powered by renewables like wind and solar energy.

“I know some people have issues with this, but to me it’s all about leaving the world better than you found it,” Cook said. “We owe it to the generation, to the younger generation, to solve this and not to keep turning and looking away.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/tim-cook-apples-new-hq-will-be-the-greenest-building-on-the-planet-2014-9#ixzz3ERqakt00

Seller Safety Plan

September 23, 2014

43997828_250pixel.jpgSeptember is REALTOR® Safety month when special attention is focused on the security of having a home on the market and the concerns for the well-being of owners is a day-to-day effort. The following list may help sellers secure their home and minimize risk.

  • Locks – doors and windows should be locked at all times. Additional locks like deadbolts or safety locks can provide a higher level of security.
  • Home lighting - turn on the lights prior to purchasers arriving to improve the showing. Not only will they be able to see things better, it could prevent them hurting themselves unnecessarily. Outdoor motion-sensor lights provide additional security.
  • Eliminate the possible hazards – try to identify anything that might cause a person to trip and fall such as loose objects on the floor or floor coverings that aren’t properly secured.
  • Security system – If you have a security system, it should be monitored and armed, especially when you’re away from home. Most systems will allow you to program a temporary code that agents will be able to use based on your instructions.
  • Prescription medications – remove or secure the drugs before showing the home.
  • Secure valuables – jewelry, artwork, gaming systems; mail containing personal information like bank and credit card statements, investment reports; wine and liquor can also be a security issue.
  • Remove family photos –pictures can be distracting to prospective purchasers but the concern at hand is to eliminate photos of a wife, teenage daughter or children that might provide information to a possible pedophile or stalker who could be posing as a buyer.
  • Remove weapons – the reason to remove guns should be obvious to everyone but a knife block on the kitchen counter can become an opportunity of convenience.
  • Unexpected callers - when some people see a for sale sign in the yard, they think that it’s an invitation to look at the home immediately. Keep your doors locked so that people can’t let themselves in. If they ring the doorbell and want to see the home but aren’t accompanied by an agent, ask them to call your listing agent.

These precautions should be taken before the photos or virtual tours are made. Having these items in plain sight in the pictures posted on the Internet can unwillingly provide prospective criminals with a menu of what is available.

Agents cannot protect a seller’s valuables other than to inform the owner of potential threats to their security. In most cases, the seller’s agent will not be present at home showings and even if they were, it is not always practical nor desirable to follow the buyers and their agent through the home.

The 2014 PFD Numbers Are In…

September 19, 2014

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Here is a great article from ADN.com about the big announcement:

The number is $1,884. That’s the amount of this year’s Permanent Fund dividend as announced by Gov. Sean Parnell on Wednesday in downtown Anchorage.

“I’m frankly grateful for the Permanent Fund dividend at whatever amount, and I know Alaskans are too, as they save it or spend it for their own needs,” Parnell said.

The 2014 dividend will be the third-largest check issued since the yearly distributions to Alaska residents began in 1982. The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Division said checks and direct deposits will go out on Oct. 2.

PFD by the numbers

More than 641,000 people are expected to receive the PFD check this year, according to the Alaska Department of Revenue. Parnell said 2014 was a record year for the Pick. Click. Give. campaign, which allows PFD recipients to dedicate a portion of their check to charities across the state. For 2014, 26,850 Alaskans donated to 511 organizations through Pick. Click. Give., making a total of 44,693 donations totaling a record $2.8 million.

The oldest dividend recipient is 109 years old, according to the governor.

The 2014 dividend is much larger than last year’s check of $900. The reason: The 2009 fiscal year — in which dividend values decreased as the nation’s economy continued to stagnate — dropped off the five-year rolling average of the Permanent Fund’s performance used to calculate the dividend. With stock and real estate markets continuing to show strong returns, all indications are that next year’s check could be even larger.

Parnell said that the size of the Permanent Fund — from which earnings are used to pay out annual dividends — has jumped dramatically since 2009. The Department of Revenue puts the current Permanent Fund value at $51 billion, a 71 percent increase over its value five years ago.

The 2014 check is $46 less than the $1,930 PFD predicted by Alaska Dispatch News in late August.

The PFD program started with a $1,000 check in 1982, an amount that dropped off in following years before it began climbing steadily, with intervening hiccups, during the course of the next three decades. The largest Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend check came in 2008, the year before the recession began to impact the Permanent Fund, when then-Gov. Sarah Palin announced that Alaskans would receive $2,069. That year’s check also came with a $1,200 “energy rebate.”

The smallest check arrived two years after the PFD program began — 1984’s checks came to $331.29. In its 33 years of paying qualifying Alaskans, the Permanent Fund dividend program has distributed a total of $21.9 billion. An Alaskan who has received a check each year since the beginning of the program would have received a total more than $37,000 in dividends.

“The other governors look at us and look at our reserves — the Permanent Fund, but our budget reserves too — and the financial institutions in New York told me, ’49 other states would love to  have your challenges,’ ” Parnell said. “So Alaskan finances are on a secure financial foundation, and that’s going to continue.”

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