Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Will There Be Snow for Christmas?


Nicholas K. Geranios---Lexington Herald Leader---November 26, 2009

The National Climatic Data Center studies the chances of a white Christmas in various U.S. cities. For the period 1988-2005, the agency found that the probability of having an inch of snow on the ground on Dec. 25 ranged from 100 percent in Fairbanks, Alaska, to 1 percent in Phoenix.

For Lexington, the probability is 10 percent, the lowest among Kentucky's largest cities. Covington and Paducah are highest, at 17 percent, followed by London, 16 percent; Bowling Green, 14 percent; and Louisville, 13 percent. Read More

Merry Christmas!

Melissa Simms
RE/MAX Associates

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Need a Quick Appetizer or Dinner for Two?


This is the best recipe to make for an appetizer or dinner for two.
It's filling, healthy, and packed with flavor.
It's quick, easy and delicious.

Impress guests with this gourmet pizza!

1/2 pkg frozen shrimp (1 lb bag)
4 oz goat cheese
1 thin crust pizza dough
1/2 jar pesto
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp crushed red peppers

1. Thaw shrimp in medium warm water. Let sit approx 5 minutes.
2. Pull tails off shrimp. (and de-vein if necessary)
3. In a small bowl, toss shrimp with garlic powder, garlic salt, black pepper, oregano & basil. Set aside.
4. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray non-stick on a jelly roll pan. Open refrigerated thin crust tube and roll out onto pan.
5. Pre-cook crust for 5 -10 minutes.
6. Take crust out of the oven. Spread on pesto leaving approx 1/2 inch around the edges.
7. Spread shrimp evenly on crust & crumble goat cheese over top.
8. Sprinkle entire pizza with crushed red peppers.
9. Cook for 5 to 10 more minutes, making sure not to overcook shrimp or crust.

Check Your Pantry for Other Things to Add Like:
*Sun dried tomatoes
*Proscuitto or Canadian bacon
* Onions

Melissa Simms
RE/MAX Associates
Louisville, KY

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Best Things to Do During Winter


November 11, 2009

  • Go See A Christmas Carol at Actor's Theater
  • Check out a concert at the UofL School of Music
  • Watch the Cardinals play some basketball at Freedom Hall
  • Go see the Louisville Ballet perform The Nutcracker
  • Brush up on your bowling skills at Kingpin Lanes
  • Learn something new! Sign up for a cooking class at Campbell's Gourmet Cottage
  • Grab your spouse or a friend and take a ride on My Old Kentucky Home Dinner Train
  • Visit River Bend Winery for a tour & a tasting
  • Find on treasures at the Flea Market
  • Check out the World War II exhibit at the Frazier International History Museum

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Selling During the Holidays


November 12, 2009

The $8,000 tax credit was extended until April 30, 2010. There is also a $6,500 tax credit being offered to current home owners who have lived in their homes for 5 consecutive years out of the last 8 years. This tax incentive will bring out SERIOUS buyers who will be shopping for houses; not shoes.

Interest rates are at record lows. They aren't going to stay this low forever. Someone getting a 30 year fixed rate mortgage could get a loan around 5%. Historically, rates were up to 18% in the 1980's. Smart buyers will be finding a place to call home so that they can lock in a mortgage at these incredibly attractive rates.

Some seller's will take their home off the market during the holidays so they aren't bothered with showings. If most sellers are taking their ome off the market, why would YOU want to? Don't follow the crowd; let your home stand out to buyers with fewer homes to compete against.

The smell of delectable desserts, classic carols on the surround sound, trees with the glow from tiny lights, and the fireplace flickering in the family room; everyone loves to feel that peaceful, inviting atmosphere that showcases a home. Also, your home will already be in tip top shape, clean as a whistle and de-cluttered for your parties or open houses' anyways!

Some local neighborhoods are known for their extravagant Christmas light displays. Car after car they visit neighborhoods, such as Lake Forest, to admire the beauty of these lights. No gaudy decorations (i.e inflatable snow globes); we are talking simply lit landscaping, a nice wreath on the front door and maybe some lit Christmas trees shining through the window. What's better to a buyer than pulling up to a classic, simple, elegantly lit home that just so happens to also be for sale?! It will make an irreversible impression.

People that are looking during this time of year are serious buyers. These buyers are not taking a few months off from looking for their next home. They need a home, want a home and will buy a home; whether it's yours or not. Buyers that are just "kickin' tires", will stop looking since they aren't actually planning on buying in the near future anyways.

Maybe you go out of town every Christmas to visit family. Great! Then your home is already clean without the everyday build up of junk. With your family out of town your Realtor will also be able to work with buyers and buyer's agents on their schedules for showing times. People tend to get more days off this time of year, so they have more flexibility in their schedules. There might be days where you absolutely can not show your home. Fine! People will understand. Just try to get them in soon after while they retain interest in seeing your home.

Melissa Simms
Realtor @ RE/MAX Associates
Louisville, Kentucky

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tax Credit Extended & Expanded! 2009/2010


Bringing the Dream of Homeownership Within Reach

As part of its plan to stimulate the U.S. housing market and address the economic challenges facing our nation, Congress has passed new legislation that:
  • Extends the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit of up to $8,000 to first-time home buyers until April 30, 2010.
  • Expands the credit to grant up to $6,500 credit to current home owners purchasing a new or existing home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010.

Photo & Article Courtesy: National Association of Realtors

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Louisville Real Estate Effected By New Downtown Arena


BY: John R. Karman, III- Staff Writer
Courtesy: Business First of Louisville
Monday, October 26, 2009

The results include a finding that 30 projects either have been completed, are under construction or are scheduled to begin soon, largely because of the $238 million, 22,000-seat downtown arena. The facility’s bowl has taken shape over the summer, and its parking garage is nearing completion.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Finding Your Dream Home



November 3, 2009---You may think that you are not picky on what you want in a home, but I bet you do have certain criteria that will determine the home you ultimately decide upon. Go ahead, be picky! After all, it is one of the largest purchases you ever make in your life. Real estate is ALWAYS a good investment if you are planning on living somewhere at least 5 years. Otherwise, you should rent.

Answer these questions:
  1. What area(s) of town do I like best?
  2. How much do I care about living close to work or school?
  3. Do I need to live close to the interstate or expressways?
  4. Do I want to live within a specific neighborhood?
  5. Do I have a preference on construction: brick, vinyl, stucco exteriors?
  6. How many bedrooms do I want at a minimum?
  7. How many full bathrooms do I want at a minimum?
  8. Do I want a newer construction home with all the amenities or a charming older home?
  9. Do I like traditional two-story, ranch, tri-level, shotgun or contemporary style homes?
  10. Do I need a basement?
  11. Do I care if it is unfinished, partially finished, or fully finished? Walkout?
  12. Will I be ok with a laundry in the basement or do I need it on the 1st floor?
  13. Do I need a garage or will I be ok with parking on the street or in the driveway?
  14. What type of garage? 1 car, 2 car, 3 car, attached, detached?
  15. Do I need some yard for kids, gardening, etc. or is a condo/patio home a better choice for my lifestyle?

Now, take that list and read over your wish list. Are all of your answers possible to find in a home within the price range that you are looking to buy? Maybe you know that one of your answers is more of a "bonus" feature versus a "must-have". An in-ground pool would be nice to have for guests and kids, but it is probably not a necessity in your next home.

Pick out the features that you absolutely will not compromise on. Now send this list to your Realtor. It will help them to narrow down your search and send you the homes that best fit your wants & needs. You should still tell your Realtor what bonus features you would love to have, that way they can send you any listings that come on the market containing these dream home desires.

You may not find a home that has every single feature you originally set out to find, but you will love it all the same!

Melissa Simms
Realtor @ RE/MAX Associates
Louisville, Kentucky

Friday, October 30, 2009

Save Money This Winter!


October 30, 2009----Fall is officially here and winter is peeking it's ugly head around the corner. According to John Belski's count of winter weather folklore, 19 of 26 weather folklore sayings are pointing to a cold and snowy winter. Now, this is not scientifically sound evidence or proof that this winter will be cold and precipitous, but we all know that the meteorologists don't always get it right. Many times, I think it is much more reliable looking at the signs from nature. A few examples from Belski's blog are:
  1. "When spring flowers bloom again during the fall, that is a sign of a cold winter coming up. So far there has been a "second season" bloom of the crabapples, viburnum, bamboo nandina and several others. COLD"
  2. "A warm November is usually followed by a cold winter. This November the temperatures are averaging several degrees above normal and it is expected to stay mild into Thanksgiving....COLD"
  3. "Wooly worms- there are 4 sayings here. The main one concerns the brown band. Wooly worms are black on both ends and brown in the middle. The wider the brown band, the milder the winter. This year the brown band is wider than usual...MILD There have been an average number of wooly worms around....NORMAL If the all black wooly worms are extra furry, it will be a cold winter....COLD If the wooly worms are visible before the first frost, it will be a cold winter....COLD"
  4. "August fogs-the foggier the August...the snowier the winter. We had 16 days with fog in August... SNOWY"
With that chilly forecast in mind, I want to give you some tips to save money on your heating bill this winter. Make sure you stay warm, but don't spend your savings account doing so. Some money saving tips you can do by changing habits, others will need to make an initial investment, but will see the pay off in the years to come.

  • Unplug any small appliances when not in use. (i.e. coffee pot, can opener, toaster, hair dryer, phone chargers, laptop computers, etc) Combined, these can use as much power as the refrigerator.
  • Wash your clothes with cold water. As much as 90% of the energy used when washing clothes goes into heating the water for a warm or hot cycle.
  • Clean your outside dryer vent to allow the heat to escape freely. Also, clean out your lint filter after every load.
  • Run your dishwasher with a full load and turn off the heated dry option. Burn some calories and hand dry or open the door and let them air dry. This saves more energy than you think!
  • Set your thermostat down 5 degrees when you are sleeping. You don't really need the entire house warm and toasty when your snoozing for almost 8 hours during the coldest part of the night. Warm up with an blanket on the bed. For every degree you turn down your thermostat, you will save up to 5% on heating costs.
  • Seal any cracks, leaks, or gaps around windows by caulking, sealing, or adding weather stripping. This can save up to 20% on home heating costs.
  • Turn off some lights. You don't need every light in the house on, just the lights for the room that you are in.
  • Set your water heater to a "normal setting" of 120 degrees. This will save you around 10% on your bills.
  • Replace furnace filters often and keep your furnace clean. The cheaper the filter, the more often you need to change it. Write it on your calendar in advance or else you will keep forgetting. This will save you up to 5%.
  • Take a shorter shower. If you cut your shower time in half, you will reduce your heating costs by about 33%.
  • Close some of your blinds, shades or curtains at night or when not at home. This creates a barrier and keeps more heat in your home.
  • If you are planning on buying a new appliance anyways, do your homework and purchase one that uses less energy. Some energy efficient washing machines use 50% less energy than those from years past.
  • Wrap your water heater with insulation. (Leave the air intake vent uncovered!) This will save you up to 10% especially if you have an older water heater.
  • Add insulation into your ceiling, attic and/or walls. Check around locally for reliable companies that are competitively priced. Ask your Realtor if they have a contact.
  • Replace old, drafty windows with some that are more energy efficient.
Many of these options are free, so why would you not want to implement them? Test it out, see how much money you save, then decide which tips you want to continue and which you are willing to spend extra energy costs on.

Check out the full list of Winter Weather Folklore on Wave3. Read More!

Melissa Simms
Realtor @ RE/MAX Associates
Louisville, Kentucky

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How Much is My Home Worth?

Appreciation of Single Family Homes in Louisville, Kentucky

October 28, 2009

The chart to the right shows what single family homes have averaged since 1971 comparing the number of sales to the total dollar volume in sales to the average home price and the average percent of change. With information taken from the Louisville Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service, this shows how the Louisville area has changed over the past 30+ years and the stability of the market in this area.

In 1972, the average home cost $25, 144. During the 1980's the Louisville market showed double digit appreciation. In order to get inflation under control, President Reagan raised interest rates into the double digits. In 1982 homes in Louisville went down -5.14% due to these sky high interest rates. The average home price this year was $53, 092.

Through the rest of the 1980's, 1990's, and beginning of the 2000's; the area along with the country saw over 23 years of appreciation. Homes appreciated anywhere from 1.81% to 10.41% during these years. With over two decades of appreciation and just a handful of years showing depreciation; WHY wouldn't you invest in real estate?

Current Look: In 2008, the market showed a decline of -5.90%; down but not as bad as other areas of the country. Since we are at the end of 2009, this year has thus far shown a decline of -2.03%. The Louisville market has gone down more, BUT seeing as the decline was less than the year before this is telling me that we must be coming out of the economic slump. The tax credits have helped to spur the market & will continue too up until their expiration in April 2010. The market won't be down forever. Louisville's history proves that real estate is a great long term investment. Buy NOW!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hints on Showing Your Home


October 19, 2009------It is very important to spruce up your home as much as possible so that when buyers visit, they are favorably impressed. Over the past years, we have found that by taking the following steps you can make your home more appealing, and increase the likelihood that it will sell quickly, and for the best possible price.

Steps to Take Now

  • Keep lawn neatly trimmed.
  • Clean all windows
  • Paint or clean entry porch & front door.
  • Replace all burned out light bulbs.
  • Tidy up closets. If possible, clean out your closets & store as many items as you can someplace else.
  • Eliminate clutter from counter tops, bookcases, and all floor areas.
  • If you have pets, determine if there is any area (preferably outside or in your garage) where you can confine them to when potential buyers visit.
  • Fix any leaky faucets or defective electrical switches.
  • Give your home a careful cleaning.
Steps to Take When a Buyer is About to Arrive at Your Home
  • Turn all the lights on, even if it's daytime.
  • Open all drapes.
  • Tidy up kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Freshen up any cat litter box, or hide it.
  • Keep the house comfortable. This may require turning the heat up to at least 68 degrees in the winter. If you have a working fireplace, light a fire.
  • Put money and valuables out of sight.
Steps to Take When an Agent is About to Bring a Buyer to Your Home
In addition to the above steps:
  • Try to leave the house during the visit. Buyers will be more comfortable if the owner isn't present.
  • If you can't arrange for your children to go somewhere else, keep them occupied in one room or outside on a nice day.
  • Let the sales associate show your house. Do not follow them around your house.
  • Save the business card of the sales associate who shows your house, so that you agent can follow up with them the next day.

Melissa Simms
RE/MAX Associates
Louisville, Kentucky

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hey Louisville..Support a Local Restaurant!


October 11, 2009

Café Mantra- Bardstown Road

Pro: Cheap, cheap, cheap! Serve breakfast all day long.
Con: Slow service.

Havana Rumba- St. Matthews
Pro: Lots of choices!
Con: Packed.

Louisville Pizza Co. / Cubby Ray’s- Jeffersontown
Pro: Reasonably priced. Best pizza I’ve ever had!
Con: You won’t stay on your diet.

El Tarasco- Lyndon
Pro: Cheap, cheap, cheap! Lots of food & quick. Great margaritas.
Con: Parking.

Corner Café- Lyndon
Pro: Great, original recipes. Huge menu!
Con: Atmosphere.

Corbett’s- Summit Area
Pro: AMAZING food & service! Excellent flavor & presentation.
Con: Pricey for dinner. Make reservations for lunch (cheaper!).

Sakura Blue- St. Matthews
Pro: Lots of sushi choices.
Con: Small restaurant.

Great Harvest Bread Co.- Hurstbourne Lane
Pro: Delicious bread! Great sandwiches & soups. Just the right amount.
Con: Limited seating.

Uptown Café - Bardstown Road
Pro: Nice atmosphere. Amazing food. Many unique options (i.e. duck ravioli).
Con: Parking is bad on weekends.

Wild Eggs- Breckenridge Lane & Westport Village
Pro: Fun atmosphere! Best waffles ever. Have breakfast or lunch.
Con: Packed on weekends…go early.

And For Dessert!

Homemade Ice Cream & Pie Kitchen
Pro: Lots of choices for dessert. Everything I’ve had from here was great.
Con: They run out often. Order your pie ahead!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Louisville Housing Market vs. National Housing Market

October 8, 2009
This chart compares the national real estate market with the market in Louisville,KY.

X Axis= Year
Y Axis= Price of Home

Homes in Louisville did not have the extreme increase in price in the early 2000's as the national market, therefore the Louisville market did not and is not having as much of a decline in the value of our homes. This historical analysis shows us the stability of the housing market in Louisville.

Trust in your investment! After-all, it's one of the biggest investments you will ever make.

Melissa Simms

RE/MAX Associates

Monday, October 5, 2009

Set The Stage!!


October 5, 2009-----With more and more people watching home improvement shows on HGTV and TLC, we are finding that buyers now expect for homes to be perfect upon entry. Unfortunately, we don’t all have the knack to decorate, pick the “right” colors, or even arrange furniture, but since most buyers are visual you want to make sure your home has that “wow” factor.

Here are some tips to help you stage your home prior to placing it on the market. Do you want tips specific to YOUR home? Call me and I will check out your home personally and then give you my professional opinion along with a “To Do” list specific to your home.

Clean Up the Clutter
No one wants to walk into someone else’s mess. Get plastic bins & re-organize. Make piles for stuff you want to “Keep”, “Sell”, & “Donate”. Have a yard sale, make a trip to Goodwill, and box up the rest.

Make Your Home Odorless
Don’t let your home smell like you have a dog, cat, or smoker. Open the windows & air it out. Don’t just plan on spraying Lysol or burning candles. You may need to scrub the carpets, wash or re-paint the walls, or clean the air vents to truly rid the home. Read their packages for safety & to make sure they aren’t a fire hazard. Don’t think your house has its own scent? Have a friend or neighbor come over to tell you their honest opinion if the scent is too strong, unpleasant, etc.

Eat Off the Floor

Would you eat off your floor? If not, then you need to clean your home that you could eat directly off the floor. If that thought is not too far fetched your home probably meets others standards & would be clean enough for them to see their children or selves in.

Lighten Up
Open (and clean) the blinds. Take down any dark, dreary curtains. Paint the walls a neutral color, such as tan, beige, off-white, etc. Neutral colors reflect the light better and make the home appear clean. Take down old, out-of-date wallpaper & put up a fresh coat of paint. It will work wonders.Set Your Home ApartSelling during the winter? Buy some fresh, vibrant flowers to bring joy to your home or turn on the fireplace for a warm, cozy feel. Turn on the lights before you leave. It makes the home look livable even when first entering.

Keep the Peace

Take down any items that could be controversial. Have any politically charged collectibles, hunting or fishing decor (i.e. deer head & guns), drinking related items, inappropriate art for children? It’s best to go ahead and pack these up for storage.

Does It Look Like YOU Live There?

Yes- You need to do a bit more staging to your home.
No- Your ready to go!

Melissa Simms
RE/MAX Associates

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

61 Days Left!


September 30, 2009-----Will you still be in the group defined to receive this credit? What's the chance it will be extended? Will they offer the same amount?

Here's the latest on the possibility of the $8,000 tax credit being extended:
If you want to take advantage of the tax credit before the December 1, 2009 expiration date, you had better act NOW! Time is running out....only 61 days left to find a home, get an accepted contract and get it closed. If you are ready to take the next step, call me!

Melissa Simms
RE/MAX Associates

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Behind the Scenes


September 22, 2009
Some people are unsure of what the job description of a Realtor entails. Maybe we just show homes to buyers and hold open houses every other weekend or so. Maybe we just stick the sign in the yard and go home to eat bon-bons until someone calls. I can assure you, both of these are not the case.

As a Realtor, we are constantly working with the local, state and national governments to make sure policies are not implimented that will harm those who own real estate. Afterall, do you still want to write off the interest from your home on taxes? Well, guess what, it has come up time and time again where this benefit of owning real estate has been "on the fence". We, as Realtors, want to keep every benefit, safeguard and option open to current homeowners or future buyers. Real estate is the #1 generator of wealth for Americans.

Check out these articles on how Realtors are working RIGHT NOW to extend the $8,000 First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit.
RE/MAX Associates-Louisville, KY

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Protect Your Investment


September 15, 2009----So you’ve found a home that is perfect. You’re ready to write an offer up on the home with your real estate agent. Some agents have different opinions on this, but it has come through my learning that you should always reserve the right to have a survey completed on the property when writing up the offer.

Now, ask yourself these questions:
1. Are you planning on building a fence?
2. Are you planning on making additions to the home sometime during your period of ownership?
3. Is there already a fence on the property?
4. Have the owners built anything on the property after they bought it (i.e. swimming pool, storage shed)?

If you can answer any of these with a definite yes or even a maybe, you want to get a survey. It is best to spend the $400.00 or so expense upfront so that if any issues arise with the property lines then you can still get out of the contract and move on to a different home. You don’t want to pay for the mistakes of a previous owner.

PLEASE, don’t assume that the owner at the time had a survey on the property prior to making their addition. After all, you don’t want your neighbors swimming in your in-ground pool whenever they like just because it’s 12 inches on their property.

Something to Note: Ask your agent to write in the contract for seller’s to provide a recent survey if one has been completed. Make sure that there have been no additions to the home and lot after this survey was completed.

Melissa Simms
RE/MAX Associates

Friday, September 11, 2009

Best Things to Do in the Fall

September 11, 2009

  • Go see Dracula at Actor’s Theatre

  • Go hiking at Bernheim Forest

  • Visit a local farmers market (Bardstown Rd, J-Town, Beechmont, etc.)

  • Take a picnic lunch to Waterfront Park

  • Visit St. James Art Show for unique items from local & traveling artists

  • Take a ride on the Frankfort Ave Trolley Hop

  • Drive to Bardstown, Kentucky & Stay in a haunted Bed & Breakfast
    (Try The Talbott Inn or The Jailers Inn)

  • Pick your own pumpkin at Huber’s Orchard & Winery in Southern Indiana

  • Buy tickets for the famous high school rivalry game: St. Xavier vs. Trinity

  • Visit “The Largest Halloween Party” at the Louisville Zoo

  • Go to Caufield’s and pick out your Halloween costume

  • Take the historical tour of the haunted Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Want to Buy at the Bottom of the Market!


September 8, 2009----
Stock traders say it, books are written about it, consumers think it, and everyone hopes for it. What is it? Buying when the market it at the bottom. How do you know? Is there some big flashing light that you might have missed all these years? Maybe it's that 20 year old kid who wrote about making millions in Las Vegas. Stop dreaming, stop procrastinating!

It's easy to figure out when to buy. Real estate is, in a normal market, an appreciating investment. Louisville, Kentucky has shown us over the years it is a very stable area. But, if you are looking to buy, you should greatly consider buying now, or soon. We know that our market is down, yes, but do we know if it's on the upswing yet?

When do you know what the bottom of the market is?
When it is on it's way up.

It doesn't make much difference then, if you are planning on living in the home for 5 years+, to buy the home on the way down or on the way up if it is at, or near, the bottom. These two points in time are the exact same.

Look at the image below. Would it not benefit you the same to purchase the home at point B as it is to purchase it at point Y?

Melissa Simms
RE/MAX Associates- Louisville, KY

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Let's Move!


September 3, 2009

1. Large Inventory of Homes
The news continuously puts fear in consumers with their gloom and doom stories, many times on a national level. This year has brought out more sellers than normal with people loosing their job, thus loosing their home due to improper guidence from day 1.

Compare 2008 to 2009
(Single Family Residential, Area 7 & Area 8, $120,000 to $160,000, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths)
With 124 homes for sale on the market, on average from September 2008 through August 2009, there is a good selection of homes to choose from that fit your specific wants and desires.

2. Mortgage Rates Are At a 30 Year Low
As you can see from the chart above, interest rates were at their peak in the 1980's ranging anywhere from 13% to 17%. Why? High interest rates were needed to counteract the rapid rise in inflation. In the current market, we are seeing interest rates around 6% for a 30 year fixed mortgage.

3. Home Are More Affordable Than Ever

According to the National Association of Realtors chief economist, Lawrence Yun, “Housing affordability has been at record highs this year with the added stimulus of a first-time buyer tax credit.”

Melissa Simms
RE/MAX Associates- Louisville, KY

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Great Weekend Projects For Your Home


August 25, 2009---
I've heard many times, "We should have done this a long time ago." Usually this is some large project that sellers have put off year after year, living with their home as it is versus updating it to what they have wanted. Maybe it's just simple projects such as faux painting a bathroom, taking down wallpaper, or even changing the hardware of cabinetry. Stop procrastinating! Go ahead and paint the bedroom & take down that 60's wallpaper, update the linoleum to tile, re-paint the kitchen cabinets, tear down that wall & make your family room larger; whatever your project is you are much better off to allocate the funds needed and complete it.

Don't just talk about how you "want to do this" and "need to do that", but never get it completed. Make the decision to do these projects within your budget. It's best to do the projects you want starting from the date you move in. Make a "To Do" list and write a due date beside it for when this project needs to be completed, so you are more likely to actually finish them.

Moving in One Year:
1. Get a market analysis on your home to see what it is worth based on all aspects of the buying public. Many agents will work up a competitive market analysis for you at no cost. *Make sure to ask!
2. See what you owe on your home.
3. Estimate or get prices for the cost of your updates. (Working on yourself or a hiring?)
4. Decide which, if not all, updates can be completed.
5. Enjoy! Love your house before you leave it.

Moving in 5-10 Years:
1. Decide which projects are best long-term and will add the most value to your home.
2. Make a timeline of the projects that are "This Year" and those "Next Year".
3. Enjoy!

Best Low Cost Home Improvements:
1. Painting
The color of a room can drastically change it's overall appearance
2. Hardware
Cabinet pulls, door knobs, etc.
3. Window Treatments
Change out the old or dark colored curtains/ new blinds
4. Wallpaper
Take it down!
5. Appliances
Order new doors or face panels from the manufacturer so they match
6. Vinyl Floor
Put easy-to-apply vinyl tile directly over old flooring
7. Light Fixtures
Change out that old brass with an up-to-date style
8. Organize
Clean out & store neatly. Go through it ALL! Have a "Keep", "Toss" & "Donate" pile. Store the "Keep" items nicely in wicker baskets & bins.
9. Garden
Clean up the landscaping. Buy some perennials that will grow year after year. Draw out your design & color scheme prior to purchasing any plants. Make sure to note areas of shade & sun!

Best Rooms to Remodel:
1. Kitchen
It can be costly, but an updated kitchen is attractive to all buyers. New cabinets, new floors, or a complete re-design are always a plus.
2. Bathroom
No one wants a teeny tiny bathroom or shower. Update the sink, mirror & lighting fixtures or even tear down the wall to make it larger. Maximize space!
3. Master Bedroom/Bathroom
Most people want their home to be a place of relaxation. A coat of paint, new carpet, new walk-in rain shower, or even added windows & lighting in the bath can make a big difference in the atmosphere. We all want to come home to a spa!

The easiest way to decide if you should remodel a certain room or not, is to think about it objectively. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Would it improve the look of my home when I sell?
2. Is it appealing to the vast majority of the public?
3. Is it too trendy to the times?
4. Does it help the home function better?
5. Does this make my home too "built up" as compared to those around me?

Feeling inspired? Go to Lowe's and sign up for weekend classes to do the work on your own, talk to friends, watch HGTV, decide what to fix up and then get it completed.

Good Luck!

Melissa Simms
RE/MAX Associates- Louisville, KY

Thursday, August 13, 2009

First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit


August 13, 2009---- Now that summer has flown by, we are at the end of August believe it or not. Before too long pools will be closed, trees will be changing colors and first-time home buyers looking to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit will be out of luck.

The $8,000 tax credit being offered to first-time home buyers and people who have not owned a home within the last three years WILL RUN OUT. Like the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end". The end for the tax credit is December 1, 2009. Sounds like plenty of time, right? Wrong! Being at the end of August as we are now, if someone was to get out and start looking right NOW......say they find "THE HOME" in a month, put in an offer and negotiate with the sellers until acceptance, we are looking at about a month and a half. After the offer is accepted, it takes approximately 40 to 50 days to get all contingency's cleared up in the contract and give the loan officer enough time to complete the paperwork for the loan before all parties can meet at the closing table. So, with my example situation, the closing day would be mid-November.

Basic Tax Credit Facts
1. The home must be closed on PRIOR TO December 1, 2009.
2. Eligible if you have not owned a home in the past three years or are a first-time home buyer.
3. Does NOT have to be re-paid.
4. Single tax payers making $75,000 or less
5. Married tax payers making $150,000 or less
6. If taxes are owed to the IRS, that amount will be deducted from the $8,000 credit and the difference paid to you
7. Tax credit EQUAL to 10% of the homes purchase price up to $8,000

Purchase Price: $150,000 Tax Credit Amount: $8,000
Purchase Price: $100,000 Tax Credit Amount: $8,000
Purchase Price: $95.000 Tax Credit Amount: $8,000
Purchase Price: $80,000 Tax Credit Amount: $8,000
Purchase Price: $72,000 Tax Credit Amount: $7,200
Purchase Price: $68,000 Tax Credit Amount: $6,800
For more details on the tax credit and to determine if you are eligible, check out:

I can't stress enough for those that are in fact eligible and thinking of buying a house to look into this opportunity. It's never happened in our past and is not likely to happen again in our future.

Maybe I Should Still Rent......
Who really want to pay rent?! Real estate always has been and always will be a great investment over time. Instead of paying $800 in rent a month to pay off someone else's property you could be paying about the same to pay off YOUR own property.

I have shown buyers what they are paying out in rent versus the equity they could be building if they owned. I'd say all that I have shown this too are shocked at the amount of money they are putting into someone else's pocket.

$800/month with a rent increase of 2%/year
Year 5: $9,600.00+
Year 10: $49,950.00+
Year 30: $389,000.00+

Purchase Price: $135,000
Mortgage Amount: $130,000
Mortgage Rate: 6% fixed/30 years
Appreciation Rate: 2% (Louisville rates averaging around 5.5%/year)
Priciple & Interest Payment on above: $780.00
Year 5:
Mortgage paid down to $120,971
Home appreciated to around $149,051
Year 10:
Mortgage paid down to $108,791
Home appreciated to around $164,564
Year 30:
Mortgage paid off
Home appreciated to around $244,534

So.....Would you rather pay someone else $389,000+ for a roof over your head OR would you rather get paid $244,534+ to have owned a home?

Regardless of what the economy is doing in the short term, real estate is ALWAYS a great investment.

Melissa Simms
RE/MAX Associates- Louisville, KY