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Tips on how to prepare your home for your listing photoshoot


One of the most important things to focus on when putting your house up for sale, is the appearance and the photos that are attached to your listing. Almost everyone these days will look at houses online and judge them by the photos. So it is very important that your home is prepared for when the photographer comes to take your photos. Here are some helpful tips….


Curb Appeal- Please remove all vehicles from the driveway, ensure all grass is cut and edged, fresh mulch, power wash stains, trim up trees, pick up toys, rake leaves, remove trash cans, roll up water hoses, sweep patios and porches, remove animal food bowls.


Interior of your home- Declutter, i.e. pick up and put away toys, put away all personal belongings, remove unnecessary items from counter tops and ledges, ensure all light bulbs work, clean windows, vacuum and mop all floors, make beds, put boxes and other unnecessary items in garage. We know that it might seem like a hassle to pack things away or move things around, but it really does make a difference in photos. Also, open all blinds and turn on all lights in your home.


Bathrooms- remove all unnecessary items from countertops, remove all shampoos and soaps from view, remove toothbrushs, blow dryers, bath towels, rugs, put toilet seats down and clean mirrors.


Kitchen- put away dishes, food boxes, hand towels, high chairs, clean off refrigerator (top and face), put away unnecessary appliances, sponges, soaps, etc.


We also recommend leaving your home this way for showings as best as you can. Everyone understands that when they go to view a home more than likely someone is living in it. However, if the house is a mess it could scare a potential buyer away.


Michele Harmon Team


9 Easy Mistakes Home Ownders make on Their Taxes


9 Easy Mistakes Home Owners Make on Their Taxes

By: G. M. Filisko

Published: December 31, 2012

Dont rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary know the score on each home tax deduction and credit.

Sin #1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes

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

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

Sin #2: Confusing escrow amount for actual taxes paid

If your lender escrows funds to pay your property taxes, dont just deduct the amount escrowed, says Bob Meighan, CPA and vice president at TurboTax in San Diego. The regular amount you pay into your escrow account each month to cover property taxes is probably a little more or a little less than your property tax bill. Your lender will adjust the amount every year or so to realign the two.

For example, your tax bill might be $1,200, but your lender may have collected $1,100 or $1,300 in escrow over the year. Deduct only $1,200. Your lender will send you an official statement listing the actual taxes paid. Use that. Dont just add up 12 months of escrow property tax payments.

Sin #3: Deducting points paid to refinance

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

Sin #4: Misjudging the home office tax deduction

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

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

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

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

Sin #6: Failing to track home-related expenses

If the IRS comes a-knockin, dont be scrambling to compile your records. Many people forget to track home office and home maintenance and repair expenses, says Meighan. File away documents as you go. For example, save each manufacturer's certification statement for energy tax credits and lender or government statements to confirm property taxes paid.

Sin #7: Forgetting to keep track of capital gains

If you sold your main home last year, dont forget to pay capital gains taxes on any profit. You can exclude $250,000 (or $500,000 if youre a married couple) of any profits from taxes. So if you bought a home for $100,000 and sold it for $400,000, your capital gains are $300,000. If youre single, you owe taxes on $50,000 of gains. However, there are minimum time limits for holding property to take advantage of the exclusions, and other details. Consult IRS Publication 523.

Sin #8: Filing incorrectly for energy tax credits

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

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

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

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

This article was original published in Jan. 2011.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn't be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.

How to Use Comparable Sales to Price Your Home


How to Use Comparable Sales to Price Your Home

By: Carl Vogel

Published: August 5, 2010

Before you put your home up for sale, use the right comparable sales to find the perfect price.

Knowing how much homes similar to yours, called comparable sales (or in real estate lingo, comps), sold for gives you the best idea of the current estimated value of your home. The trick is finding sales that closely match yours.

What makes a good comparable sale?

Your best comparable sale is the same model as your house in the same subdivisionand it closed escrow last week. If you cant find that, here are other factors that count:

Location: The closer to your house the better, but dont just use any comparable sale within a mile radius. A good comparable sale is a house in your neighborhood, your subdivision, on the same type of street as your house, and in your school district.

Home type: Try to find comparable sales that are like your home in style, construction material, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, basement (having one and whether its finished), finishes, and yard size.

Amenities and upgrades: Is the kitchen new? Does the comparable sale house have full A/C? Is there crown molding, a deck, or a pool? Does your community have the same amenities (pool, workout room, walking trails, etc.) and homeowners association fees?

Date of sale: You may want to use a comparable sale from two years ago when the market was high, but that wont fly. Most buyers use government-guaranteed mortgages, and those lending programs say comparable sales can be no older than 90 days.

Sales sweeteners: Did the comparable-sale sellers give the buyers downpayment assistance, closing costs, or a free television? You have to reduce the value of any comparable sale to account for any deal sweeteners.

Agents can help adjust price based on insider insights

Even if you live in a subdivision, your home will always be different from your neighbors'. Evaluating those differenceslike the fact that your home has one more bedroom than the comparables or a basement officeis one of the ways real estate agents add value.

An active agent has been inside a lot of homes in your neighborhood and knows all sorts of details about comparable sales. She has read the comments the selling agent put into the MLS, seen the ugly wallpaper, and heard what other REALTORS®, lenders, closing agents, and appraisers said about the comparable sale.

More ways to pick a home listing price

If youre still having trouble picking out a listing price for your home, look at the current competition. Ask your real estate agent to be honest about your home and the other homes on the market (and then listen to her without taking the criticism personally).

Next, put your comparable sales into two piles: more expensive and less expensive. What makes your home more valuable than the cheaper comparable sales and less valuable than the pricier comparable sales?

Are foreclosures and short sales comparables?

If one or more of your comparable sales was a foreclosed home or a short sale (a home that sold for less money than the owners owed on the mortgage), ask your real estate agent how to treat those comps.

A foreclosed home is usually in poor condition because owners who cant pay their mortgage cant afford to pay for upkeep. Your home is in great shape, so the foreclosure should be priced lower than your home.

Short sales are typically in good condition, although they are still distressed sales. The owners usually have to sell because theyre divorcing, or their employer is moving them to Kansas.

How much short sales are discounted from their market value varies among local markets. The average short-sale home in Omaha in recent years was discounted by 8.5%, according to a University of Nebraska at Omaha study. In suburban Washington, D.C., sellers typically discount short-sale homes by 3% to 5% to get them quickly sold, real estate agents report. In other markets, sellers price short sales the same as other homes in the neighborhood.

So you have to rely on your REALTORs® knowledge of the local market to use a short sale as a comparable sale.

More from HouseLogic

What You Must Know About Home Appraisals

6 Reasons to Reduce Your Home Price

Other web resources

Whats the Value of a View? Research from Texas Christian University

Carl Vogel, a freelance writer and former editor of The Neighborhood Works magazine, lives in a home in Chicago that is not typical of those nearby, so he appreciates a savvy comp.

How to Sell a House with Pets?


How to Sell a House with Pets?

Everybody loves to have pets in his house except when it comes to selling your house. Most of the buyers avoid purchasing houses with pets in them for many reasons. Having a pet in your house may lower the price that you can get for your house. Its not fair but thats exactly how it works. So, if you are planning to sell your house then these tips will be of great help to you.

Why Potential Buyers dont like pets?

There are plenty of reasons behind it and the very first reason is nervousness. Some people are not comfortable in the presence of pets and they prefer avoiding them at any cost. Another simple reason can be fear or inexperience with pets. Moreover your pet is not their pet and they may not like your dog roaming around the whole house while they are inspecting different parts of your house.

Best pet Solution: If you are looking for best price for your house then it is advised to relocate your pets during the time period when your house is in the market. It is never sufficient to put them in your backyard or even in your garage during the visiting hours of the buyers. There some practical methods like relocate you pet to your friends house, board your pets at kennel or simply send them on vacation.

How to get rid of negative effects of pet in your house?

Make sure to remove any cat litter boxes or potty pads before the viewing. In case they are in some corner of your house, then they should be properly cleaned without any smell.

You need to get rid of pet stains from the carpet and you can even seek professional help for the same. In case the stains cannot be removed, it is best to get new flooring for your house.

Get rid of pet odors and cat urine is the top most in the list. Avoid using air fresheners as some people are allergic to them. It is best to use some professional help in the matter and look out for enzyme cleaning solutions and you can even hire a professional ozone company for the purpose.

Tips to get rid of pet signs in your house

According to state law disclosure policy, you have to provide details of any pets in your house but it is not necessary to show them to your potential owners. There are some simple tips that will help you in getting rid of pet signs from your house. Some of these tips are discussed below.

Get rid of doggie doors.

Store cages, pet carriers any such items in your store.

Remove pet toys from your house

Get rid of food and water bowls used for your pets

Make sure that there are no photos of pets on your refrigerator.

There are some important guidelines that must be considered like regular vacuuming of your house and sometimes even twice a day. Before showing the house, make sure that your pets are in their cages and ask buyers to avoid playing with them. The last thing that you would want is to have your buyer frightened by your pets!

Thanks For Reading My Post! Sherry Kotvis is a Temecula Short Sale Realtor and Home Resolution Expert, Providing Solutions to Under Water Borrowers

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Michele Harmon
Mobile Phone: 713-818-1330
License #: 618000

10130 Louetta Rd Ste J
Houston, TX 77070
Office: 281-376-9900

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