William Neilson
Phone:  267-872-1326Office:  215-679-9797
Email:  wneilson@remax440.comCell:  267-872-1326Fax:  267-354-6937
William Neilson
William Neilson

Bill's Blog

Reliable Movers Key to Moving Day Success

January 15, 2016 11:03 am

Finding a moving company can be a challenging proposition, especially if you wait until the last minute. Therefore, it’s important to do your research early on so that you have a reliable company at the ready when moving day arrives.
 
If moving day is looming, and you still haven’t chosen a moving company, start by getting recommendations from your agent or friends who have recently moved. Chances are, if they’ve had a good experience with a mover, they’re probably reliable.
 
It’s also a good idea to get at least three estimates before making a final decision. Moving can be expensive, and you’ll be amazed at the price fluctuations between various companies. When it comes to price, keep in mind that moving companies also charge differently (by weight or space) and that the total price can go up, so be sure to compare your top choices based on what the highest price may be.
 
You’ll also want to determine whether insurance is included, the cost of gas, how much storage may be (if you need a little time before you move into your new place) and how long it will take to get from your current location to your new space, as all of these factors can weigh on your final decision.
 
Before choosing one company over another, have each company send an estimator out to your home. Once there, show the estimator everything you plan to bring. And don’t forget to include any items that may be stored in the attic, the basement, the garage or even outside. If the movers show up for moving day and there’s more to transport than they expected, it could cost you extra money.
 
In addition, be sure to tell your mover about any conditions at your new home that might complicate the move, such as stairs, narrow streets or a large distance from curb to door.
 
To check out if your moving company is reliable, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (safersys.org) and enter the company’s USDOT number to read the latest information reported. Be sure to check that the name, phone number and address that you were given match those on record.
 
You can also check the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org or read Yelp reviews to see what others say.
 
For those moving to another state, ask if the moving company will give you a written binding estimate or a binding not-to-exceed estimate. Both types of estimates put a guaranteed cap on what you will pay for your move, which will give you some needed peace of mind.
 
Remember, every moving company is required by law to provide you with a “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” booklet, so if they don’t have that to offer, chances are you’ll want to look into another company.
 
To learn more about hiring a reputable mover, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Winter Selling Season Offers a Breath of Fresh Air for Those Looking to Make a Move

January 15, 2016 11:03 am

While the temperatures have been unseasonably warm this winter, it’s important to remember that when it comes to the weather, you can never know for sure what’s around the corner. And as the Farmer’s Almanac tells it, we’re due for some heavy snowfalls in the near future. Taking heed of the following tips when trying to sell your home in the snow can be the difference between a hot sale or a deep freeze.
 
While some real estate professionals in snow-heavy climates may encourage their clients to wait until the temperature warms up before putting their house on the market, for some, listing a home during the winter is necessary. Plus, with less inventory coming to market, your home may have a better chance of making it onto a house hunter’s must-see list.
 
If your home is currently on the market—or you plan on listing it at some point this winter—the most important thing you’ll need to do when it snows is shovel the driveway in addition to a path to the house. While you’re at it, take the time to clear an area outside the home so that prospective buyers can take a peek at the yard. You might even consider adding a snowman or snow angel to help visitors envision the memories they can make in the space once it’s theirs.  
 
When it comes to the outside of the home, it’s also important to remove large chunks of snow from bushes and clean up any debris and branches that may have fallen as a result of powerful winds and heavy snowfall, especially if you’re holding an open house on a ‘snow day.’ House hunters and their real estate agents aren’t going to want to walk up to a house if they need to slush through the snow to see it. Remember, there are no second chances when it comes to first impressions.
 
Be sure to remove snow and icicles from windows as well so that potential buyers can get a clear look outside and see the natural light come into the home. Sometimes snow can leave watery streaks on windows or glass doors that may hurt the look of a room, so grab some window cleaner and let your windows and doors shine.
 
Once the outside of your home is properly prepared, lay a large mat inside the front door so that visitors can clean their shoes off before they have a chance to track snow throughout the space. While it’s okay for real estate professionals to suggest that people take off their shoes, you shouldn’t require it. Just be sure to mop up after each showing.
 
And last but not least, during the open house, have some hot chocolate and a plate of freshly baked cookies waiting for visitors. You may even want to keep the fireplace burning to create a truly cozy environment. Just be sure your agent is there to not only keep the fire lit, but to put it out at the end of the showing.
 
There’s nothing quite as beautiful as a fresh coat of snow, undisturbed by footprints, and there’s no reason why snow should keep you from selling your home.
 
For more information about selling your home this winter, contact our office today.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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2015 Tax Extenders Set to Have a Positive Impact on the Real Estate Industry

January 15, 2016 11:03 am

Each December, close to 50 tax extenders—aptly-named extensions of tax breaks—come into play in Congress. Included in those that were passed in 2015 are several that stand to have a positive impact on those looking to enter the housing market this year. Not only did Congress and the Senate pass the $622 billion bill, but President Barack Obama is expected to put his signature on the extenders as well.
 
One of the extenders concerns tax relief for mortgage debt forgiveness, protecting underwater homeowners from incurring a large tax bill on phantom income in connection with a workout or short sale.
 
Tom Salomone, president of the National Association of REALTORS®, notes that since 2007, this specific tax relief has strengthened individual communities and the broader economy as more distressed homeowners were offered the flexibility to responsibly address an underwater mortgage.
 
“These tax extenders offer critical support for consumers, homeowners, commercial property investors and small businesses alike,” Salomone says. “A strong economy requires certainty, and this proposal gives a healthy dose of it to millions of American taxpayers.”
 
The tax extenders deal offers an additional two years of protection covering tax years 2015 and 2016.
 
Also included in the bill is the permanent extension of a 15-year cost recovery period for the depreciation of qualified leasehold improvements. This is important as it ensures that a commonsense cost-recovery period remains in place permanently for improvements made to nonresidential commercial property.
 
Another real estate-related provision is the renewal of certain incentives to promote energy efficient commercial and multifamily buildings, including the extension of an expired tax credit that ranges between $1,000 - $2,000 for energy-efficient new homes for an additional two years.
 
The bill also includes changes to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act, which is expected to ease restrictions on investment in commercial real estate.
 
One part of the bill that might not seem as though it’s aimed at those in the real estate industry, but will have a positive effect on the industry at large, is legislation that permanently extends rules allowing small- and mid-sized businesses to expense business equipment, rather than depreciate the equipment over several years. Salomone says this is important to REALTORS® who purchase new computers, copiers, cameras and even vehicles in the course of doing business.
 
“We’re grateful for the leadership shown on this important piece of legislation and look forward to continuing our work in support of homeownership,” Salomone says.
 
To learn more about the recently passed tax extenders, contact our office today.

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Take the Stress Out of the Buying and Selling Process with These Simple Tips

January 15, 2016 11:03 am

Regardless of what side of the real estate transaction you’re on, buying or selling a home can be a stressful experience, and if you’re not careful, the anxieties associated with the process can become overwhelming. While getting out of the house for a massage or yoga class can be helpful, here are some additional ways to take the stress out of the process.  
 
First, understand your goals in buying or selling a home. Make a list of what you hope to accomplish—the price, neighborhood, timetable, etc. Once you know exactly what you want, you’ll have an easier time explaining your wants and needs to your agent, alleviating some of the stress that goes hand-in-hand with the buying or selling process.
 
Another simple way to alleviate stress is to prepare your finances ahead of time. If buying a home, know what you can afford and get a pre-approval letter from your bank so you don’t have to worry about whether you can truly afford the home you want. If selling a home, know what it will cost to make repairs or renovations and get estimates for the move itself. When both parties know how much money they really need, it makes things easier for everyone involved.
 
Next, take the time to read some books, blogs or online real estate advice that can provide a glimpse into what to expect when buying or selling a home. Understanding the process and being aware of issues that can come up will keep surprises from causing undo stress. If you understand the problems that can come with obtaining a mortgage or realize that not every offer will be a good one, you can keep your emotions at bay.
 
While you most likely already have an agent working with you, other professionals can help alleviate stress as well. Having a good real estate lawyer will let you sign any contracts without fear that you’re making a mistake. Hiring a good inspector will allow you to rest easy knowing that any problems with the house will be found. And working with a home stager will go a long way toward positioning your home in the best light possible.
 
In the end, remember that not everything can be controlled, and the real estate game can get confusing at times. If something unexpected comes up, take a deep breath, relax and try to do something to take your mind off of the deal for a while. 
 
Contact our office today for more tips to help take the stress out of the buying or selling process.

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5 Tips for a Smooth Home Purchase

January 15, 2016 11:03 am

If you’re planning on purchasing a home this year, here are a few tips to keep things moving smoothly throughout the process.
 
1. Communicate with Your Agent. Work with a real estate agent that you are comfortable with and be sure to express everything you want and need in your new home. By communicating your desires from the beginning, your agent won’t waste time showing you homes that don’t fit your criteria. If you know you want a gourmet kitchen or walk-in closet in the master bedroom, make that clear. Or if you absolutely have to be near public transportation, tell your agent to avoid turning the process into a guessing game. When it comes to finding the perfect home, clear communication is key. And if you run into any problems along the way, be sure to speak with your agent to iron out any issues.
 
2. Be Reasonable with Expectations. If you’re searching for a three-bedroom home located in a certain neighborhood that has a pool, finished basement and sunroom and your agent shows you a property and your biggest qualm is the color, don’t simply write the home off. When searching for the home of your dreams, you may have to give something up or make some changes once you move in. Finding a home that’s 100 percent what you want can be a daunting undertaking.
 
3. Don’t be Discouraged. Don’t expect to find your dream home overnight. Buyers often get frustrated because nothing pops up in the first week or two, but remember, you’re not buying a new toaster. You want to find the home that you and your family can live in and love for years and years to come.  
 
4. Play the Money Game. If you offer $375,000 on a home that’s listed at $400,000 and the seller refuses to budge, be prepared to negotiate. When buying a home, you need to have some wiggle room. Before making an offer, discuss your strategy with your agent as he or she will be able to tell you whether your offer is fair or unreasonable. It’s also important to check out comps in the neighborhood so that you can make a reasonable offer from the get-go.
 
5. Get Your Mortgage Pre-Approved. This could be the smartest thing you do all year. By having a mortgage approved before you even begin looking at houses, you’ll be ready to make an offer as soon as you find the home of your dreams. Getting pre-approved will also give you the upper hand over other buyers who may be interested in the same house.
 
For more tips for a smooth home-buying process, contact our office today.

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In this Edition: Tax Extenders

January 15, 2016 11:03 am

Our lead story in this month’s Home Matters examines five tips that are instrumental in keeping the home-buying process running smoothly. Other topics covered this month include simple ways to take the stress out of the home-buying or -selling process and the importance of choosing a reputable moving company to transport your belongings to your new space. We hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Home Matters and as always, we welcome your feedback. Email us anytime!

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Gardening in Winter? It Can Be Done!

January 15, 2016 1:24 am

Ready…set…spring!

One way to beat the winter doldrums this season is to liven up your home with greenery. Green thumb or not, the key is to start small, says gardening author Ann Whitman, who suggests beginning with a terrarium, a miniature tabletop garden.

“Terrariums invite you in for a closer look and provide a perfect escape from the winter weather outside,” Whitman says. “Terrariums are easy to care for and don’t require any special skills for success…not much more than occasional watering and trimming.”

The proper vessel is most crucial to your terrarium’s success. Modern models are substantial, and angled with beveled glass and copper-colored metal trimming (real copper would turn green). Take care to select plants that are specifically suited for terrariums—they should not require a high level of maintenance.

Aside from a terrarium, you can jump-start your outdoor garden (yes, in the dead of winter!) by planting seeds indoors, says Whitman. If your home does not receive adequate sunlight, consider purchasing a light system to ensure the seeds thrive through the season.

“Greenery” in your home might also include springtime scents, Whitman adds. Botanical essential oils, such as lavender, eucalyptus, orange, peppermint or rosemary, are the pure, extracted essence of plants, unadulterated by chemicals or other ingredients. Just a few drops in a diffuser can help inject life into your home ahead of the first day of spring.

Source: Gardener’s Supply Company

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Home-Related Loan Delinquencies Dive toward Historic Norms

January 15, 2016 1:24 am

Delinquencies, or payments that are 30 days or more overdue, on home-related loans are declining toward historical norms, a sign of continued progress for the housing market. Both open- and closed-end home-related loans, according to a recent report by the American Bankers Association (ABA), showed an overall decrease.

“The steady decline in home-related delinquencies has been a bright spot as they grind their way back to pre-recession levels,” says James Chessen, chief economist of the ABA. “We expect this trend to continue as the housing market keeps gaining strength.”

Delinquencies on closed-end property improvement loans and open-end home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) dropped to 0.87 percent and 1.31 percent, respectively. Closed-end mobile home and home equity loan delinquencies rose slightly, to 3.59 percent and 2.91 percent, respectively. A closed-end loan is for a fixed amount of money with a fixed repayment period and regularly scheduled payments. An open-end loan is for a fixed amount of available credit but a balance that fluctuates depending on usage.

“A good economy and lower delinquency rates go hand-in-hand, and the Fed is betting on a stronger economy in 2016,” adds Chessen.  “If the economy remains solid and jobs continue to grow, we would expect delinquency levels to continue hovering near these historic lows. As always, disciplined financial management by consumers is an essential ingredient for lower delinquencies.  Now is a great time for consumers to reflect on their holiday expenditures and resolve to reduce any excess debt in the New Year.”

Delinquent borrowers should speak with creditors as soon as possible to assess their options.

Source: ABA

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Mortgage Rates Fall for Second Straight Week

January 15, 2016 1:24 am

Mortgage rates have dropped for the second week in a row.

The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) dipped below 4 percent to 3.92 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from 3.97 percent the week prior, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The 15-year FRM averaged 3.19 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from 3.26 percent the previous week.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) also decreased, moving to 3.01 percent from 3.09 percent last week with an average 0.4 point.

“Long-term Treasury yields continue to drop, dragging mortgage rates down with them,” explains Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti. “Turbulence in overseas financial markets is generating a flight-to-quality which benefits U.S. Treasury securities. In addition, sagging oil prices are capping inflation expectations. The net effect on the 30-year mortgage rate was a 5 basis point drop to 3.92 percent."

Source: Freddie Mac

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Say It Ain't Snow! 3 Safety Tips for Drivers

January 14, 2016 1:24 am

It’s no secret winter storms can severely diminish driving conditions, and many leave icy, pothole-ridden roads in their wake. But according to a recent survey by Hankook Tire, many drivers don’t have a solid grasp on the rules of the road—in fact, the majority of survey respondents did not know to keep a distance of 10-12 seconds, or six car lengths, between their vehicle and the driver in front of them during adverse road conditions.

If your area is prone to winter weather, keep in mind these safety tips before trekking out in your vehicle, courtesy of Hankook Tire.

• Don't Mix Tires – Never mix tires with different tread patterns, performance ratings or sizes. Use identical tires on all of your vehicle's wheel positions in order to maintain the best control and stability. In cold temperatures where slick surfaces require significant grip, a dedicated winter or all-season tire is best.

• Check Tire Pressure – As the temperature drops, so does tire inflation, decreasing 1-2 pounds for every 10 degree-drop in ambient air temperature. Make sure your tires are properly inflated regularly during winter.

• Keep a Full Tank – Or at least half-full. A car's fuel lines can freeze up very easily in the winter, and this usually happens when the gas level is below half the tank.

Source: Hankook Tire

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