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Jason O'Neil

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5 Things You Forgot to Clean in Your Bathroom

by Jason O'Neil
Your bathroom, one of the rooms you clean most, hides areas that rarely see a scrub brush. It’s time to tackle these 5 nasty spots you probably forgot.

If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your bathroom, we don’t want to know what’s living in your tub. Probably, a host of staphylococcus, the skin infection bacteria that, a recent study showed, more frequently grows in tubs than in garbage cans.
 
But we presume you or someone else regularly swishes out the toilets, wipes, out the tubs and sinks and mops your bathroom flooring.
 
But you may be missing some critical areas. With the help of Kristi Mailloux, President of Molly Maid, we've compiled a list of 5 bathroom spots home owners often forget to clean:
 
1. Showerheads: A warm white vinegar bath will get rid of mineral deposits, making your low-flow showerhead flow even lower. Let the showerhead soak for about 20 minutes, then poke a paperclip into the shower head holes still clogged.  Scrub with an old toothbrush, then rinse and repeat if necessary.
 
2. Toilet bases: Mildew can grow on the caulking around the base of your toilet. Spray with white vinegar or disinfecting household cleaner, then scrub with a hard-bristled brush. Dry thoroughly.
 
3. Shower curtains: Clean soap scum and mildew from plastic shower curtains by tossing them into your washer on the gentle and cold (never hot!) water cycle, with detergent and 1/2 cup vinegar. If mildew is present, add 1/2 cup of bleach instead of vinegar. Toss a couple of large towels into the machine to act as scrubbers.  Hang curtains back on your shower curtain rod, spread them out, and let them drip-dry.  If you turn on the bathroom fan, they'll dry faster.
 
4. Drains: We don't usually pay much attention to drains until they're clogged.  But all year your hair, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner are building up in sink and tub drains.  Remove the stopper - unscrew the shower drain - and clear away any obvious gunk, like hair and soap.  Soak the drain in vinegar to clear away mineral deposits. Then, pour boiling water, or a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup baking soda, down the drain, which will bubble away crud sticking to pipes.
 
5. Medicine cabinet: Throw out prescription and over-the-counter drugs you no longer need or want. But don't dump them down the drain, where they become part of the watershed, or into the trash, where anyone can fetch them out. Instead, take them to a local collection site, often at police and fire stations. Or check U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's National Take Back Initiative's website for dates and sites for their next collection.
 
Bonus tip: Just for the fun of it, launder those powder room towels you don't let anyone use. And be sure to clean out your dryer's lint filter when you are finished. 
 

Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/bathrooms/cleaning-the-bathroom/#ixzz2xYY3EBYw 
 

What You Should Know About Your Home and Your 2013 Taxes

by Jason O'Neil

By: 

 

It's the last year for three sweet home tax benefits, but the first for a way simpler home office deduction.  
 
These days few things start a fight on Capitol Hill faster than taxes. Despite the fact that three important tax benefits used by millions of American homeowners are days from expiring, Congress is unlikely to do anything to re-up them any time soon.

So if you’re eligible, tax year 2013 is possibly the last time to claim the private mortgage insurance (PMI) deduction, the energy tax credit, and debt forgiveness benefit, all of which all expire on Dec. 31, 2013. 

At least there’s one piece of good news for homeowners: If you have a home office, there’s a new, simpler option for calculating the home office deduction for which you may qualify on your 2013 taxes.

Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about those expiring benefits as you ready your taxes:

PMI Deduction

This tax rule lets you deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance, which is what you pay your lender each month if you put down less than 20% on a home. PMI protects the lender if you default on the home loan. Your deduction could amount to a couple hundred dollars depending on your tax bracket and other factors.
Find out if you qualify for and how to take the PMI deduction.

Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

This sweet little tax credit lets you offset what you owe the IRS dollar-for-dollar for up to 10% of the amount you spent
on certain home energy-efficiency upgrades, from insulation to water heaters. On the downside, the credit is capped at
$500 (less in some cases). But on the bright side, the right improvement could lower your utility bills indefinitely. 
 

Related: Take back your energy bills with these high-ROI energy-efficiency practices.

Debt Forgiveness

When you go through a short saleforeclosure, or deed-in-lieu, your lender typically lets you off the hook for some or all of what you owe on your mortgage. 

That forgiven mortgage debt is income, on which you’d typically have to pay income tax. 

Suppose you’re in financial distress and your lender agrees to let you short-sell your home, say for $50,000 less than you owe on the mortgage, and forgive you for the balance. Without the protection of the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, you’ll owe income tax on that $50,000. 

It’s likely if you had the money to pay income tax on $50,000, you’d have used it to pay your mortgage in the first place. 

New Simplified Option for the Home Office Deduction

This may be the last year for the benefits above, but a new one kicks in for the 2013 tax year. If you work from home, you may qualify to use a new, simplified option for claiming the home office deduction when you file your 2013 taxes.

How much simpler is it? It lets you claim $5 per sq. ft. for up to 300 sq. ft. instead of having to compute the actual expenses of your home office using a 43-line form. To calculate the square footage of your office, just multiply the length of two walls. For example, an 8-by-10-foot room is 80 sq. ft. And at $5 per, that’s $400.

Although using the simplified option is obviously easier, the basic requirements for claiming the home office deduction haven’t changed. Your home office still must be used for business purposes:
  • Exclusively, and
  • On a regular basis.
Related: Which Home Office Set-Ups Qualify for a Deduction?

Why Might the Tax Benefits Not Be Renewed?

Although the expiring tax benefits were renewed retroactively in past years, that may not happen in 2014 because many in Congress would like to see comprehensive tax reform rather than scattershot renewals of individual provisions. This could delay a decision on the homeownership tax benefits until the big picture budget and tax issues are resolved.

So if you can, enjoy them now!


Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/blog/tax-deductions/tax-deductions-credits-for-homeowners-2013/#ixzz2xYSSmlTN 

Moving On Up!

by Jason O'Neil

Does this sound like you?

We want a bigger home, but need to sell our existing home prior to buying a new one. Where do we even start? 

This is a common situation for home sellers. Avoiding the stress of owning two homes while balancing the purchase of your next home is a tricky but oftentimes unavoidable situation. Careful planning with your real estate agent and a well thought out strategy can get you where you want to be with minimal risk. 

During your move-up, there are four specific things you should be mindful of: 

Marketing your Existing Home

Put together a plan that will allow you to market and sell your home in an efficient and reasonable manner. Bottom Line: How long will it take and how much will we make? 

Financing

If you will be using the proceeds from the sale of your home for the purchase, it will be helpful to work closely with your real estate and mortgage professionals to piece together the details. This is a critical step so that you can plan the financial components of your move. Bottom Line: How much money will I need for my new home? 

Your Buyer

Once you have an offer in place you’ll need to carefully vet the buyer and answer serious questions about their capacity to purchase your home. Bottom Line: Are they ready, willing and able to purchase my home? 

Contingencies and Contractual Terms

Making your home purchase contingent upon the sale of your home helps you protect against the risk of owning two homes. Home sellers are often agreeable with this arrangement. Also, negotiating the time of possession on your existing house will make your move more convenient and less stressful. Bottom Line: Which terms and conditions are in your best interest? 

The process can be a daunting one, but by breaking it into manageable pieces and working with competent professionals it can be truly rewarding. Good luck in your home search!

New Innovations for the Way We Live

by Jason O'Neil

Better TV, Wireless Blenders, Smart Appliances...this is what we gather from CES 2013

I grew up with a gigantic box with a screen in the middle, and we called it a television.  I'm not sure if even my childhood television would be recognized by my 7 year old daughter.  The evolution of the television has been quite an interesting venture.  No more rabbit ears, no gigantic boxes on the floor.  Instead, we can now hang our televisions on the wall - some are even hidden behind framed art above a mantle. 

CES 2013 has revealed a bigger and yet even better television concept.  If HD didn't satisfy the crowd, we've now moved into Ultra HD TV which is said to have four times the resolution of the current 1080p high definition TVs.  Crisper content.  That's what this is all about.

Samsung is offering the S9 UHD.  As being shown on an 85" inch screen it's being said that the picture looks like its floating in it's frame.  The blacks look even darker.  The audio is top notch.  The S9 will be available in the second half of the year, and for an 84" TV from Sony, the price tag is $25,000 (whew).

In addition to the impressive Ultra HD TV concept, Samsung launched quite a few LED and OLED TVs at the show.  This includes the Smart Hub, which brings apps to the TV screen.  Features include the possibility of waving your hand to communicate with the TV or use voice to find content or change the channel.  No more need to sweat about losing the remote, once again.

Jumping on the Facebook bandwagon, Samsung has included an improved S-Recommendation engine which lets you communicate with your TV about what you like, by selecting a thumbs up or "like" button for the TV. 

Other new technology that deserves an honorable mention include: 

In Wall Speakers - No wires to hide, No bulky speakers hanging above.

LG's Smart Thing - the ability to communicate with your home appliances, including the stove, refrigerator, washing machine

Nest - Smart Thermostat - essentially a TiVO for your home - it sees how often you adjust the temperature on your home, learns  your habits over time and adjusts to conserve energy and keep you comfortable - and, of course, it can be controlled using smart devices.  Another product called Eversense can adjust the temperature based on when people are home and how many individuals it detects.

Switch Lighting - "Best Innovations honoree for Eco-Design" winner, this is the first 25/50/75 watt equivalent 3-way bulb.  It emits warm light virtually indistinguishable from traditional CFL bulbs with low power and long lasting benefits of LED.  Marvel has designed a new chip specifically for wireless networking capabilities to LED fixtures, allowing you to control lighting wirelessly.  Using an IPad or IPhone, it will adjust light sensors based on colors of photos on your phone.

Wireless Blender - Magnets to power your cooking gadgets?  Yes. By installing a power transmitter (induction coil) in your kitchen counter top, you can place a wireless blender on top of the coil and blend away!

Exciting innovations to enhance the way we live!

Google

Trend Alert for 2013

by Jason O'Neil

Emerald Green is officially the color trend of 2013, according to http://www.zillow.com

Balance, harmony, emotional positivity, spring, renewal, rebirth make up the qualities of the color green - its a happy color to incorporate in your home.  Its fresh and restorative, relaxing and confident. 

If you're worried that a trip to the hardware store for a paint purchase might be too drastic, here are a few subtle ways to incorporate this beautiful color in your home:

Tinted glass bottles add nice color to a table.

 A pure white room with a bright emerald colored chair gives this room a bit of personality.

Neutral colors paired with an outstanding colored drape.

One wall painted a nice bright color and the colored bottles add delicious personality to this room.

Try it out in a room or two...you can keep it simple, or lavish the room in this bejeweled color!

Tips for Buying A Home

by Jason O'Neil

Residence. Flat. House. Investment. Dwelling. Abode.

Home.

 

If this is your first time purchasing, find below a few good tips to give some clarity to this memorable and exciting next step in your journey.

1.  Decide what you want.

What kind of home?

Do you prefer a 2 story? How about the basement? How many bedrooms do you need?  Do you want to mow a large yard or a small yard? Do you have a romance for an old house, or do you want a contemporary new home?

Where?

Do you like the North side - maybe Fishers, Carmel, Noblesville?  Do you want a more urban feel with a place downtown? How about something in the middle, maybe Broad Ripple?

When considering the "when", be sure you think about the commute to work, schools (for children you have, or those you may have in a new home), and amenities such as community pool, convenience to town, etc.

When?

When are you going to be ready to move?  Have you given enough thought to this that you are ready now, as in yesterday, or do you need more time to prepare?

 2.  Get Your Financial House In Order.

What can you afford? 

What can you bring for a down payment? How about taxes and closing costs? What is the monthly budget amount that is in your comfort zone?

3.  Get Pre-Approved.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 9 out of 10 buyers finance theirs homes.  Talk to lenders.  Find one you are comfortable with, that is offering you the best arrangement.

Obtain a pre-approval letter, have this on-hand when you make an offer on a home so that the seller knows you are prepared.

4.  Find a Realtor.

Meet Realtors, interview them.  Sometimes you can do this by attending open houses in the areas you like, browse profiles, or read recommendations from lenders.  Most importantly, talk to your friends.  They can assist you in who they may have used in their experiences and offer invaluable suggestions.

5.  Find a Home.

Finally.  The fun part.  You know where you want to be, what kind of house you are looking to find, you know what you can spend and you have your approval letter in hand.  Now...get to shopping. 

At any given time, there are homes going on and off of the market.  Inventory of choices is altered on a minute-by-minute basis.  The best part of shopping for a home in today's market is that you can do the work yourself by peeking around Zillow, Mibor, Trulia, and so many other websites, or you can give your honey-do list to your Realtor and they can do the finding for you. 

When you arrive at a showing, think critically about the home.  If you like the curb appeal as you drive up, that's a good start - but, even if the landscaping is nothing to get excited about...is there something you can work with to make it your own? When you walk through the front door, is the layout suitable for your needs?  Some things can be changed inside of a home, but are you looking for a fixer-upper or a move-in ready?  Are the bedrooms large enough? How about the yard? 

6.  Understand Mortgage Options.

So, you've found something that you love and you're ready to crunch numbers.  Note that financing will be more than the purchase price of the home.  As discussed above, there will be closing costs, taxes and other fees.  Be prepared. Now is also the time to consider what amount of money you will put down on your home.  If you put less than 20% down, lenders will want the mortgage guaranteed by an outside 3rd party such as VA (Veterans Administration), the FHA (Federal Housing Administration), or a private mortgage insurer (PMI) to protect against mortgage defaults. 

Financing is available through mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers, savings and loan associations, mutual savings banks, commercial banks, and credit unions.

7.  Make an Offer

Your choices on the offer-making process are to 1. accept list price 2. make a counter-offer with different pricing and/or terms of sale.  Be sure that you are prepared to confer back and forth with the home owner to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all parties. 

Once an offer is accepted, a few things can happen next.  Structural inspections of the home, appraisals and surveys to determine boundaries and values for lenders, and title reviews.

8.  Insurance and Warranties

Title insurance will be suggested at closing for a one-time fee.  This will protect you in case the title is invalid.

Homeowner's insurance will aid in protecting your new investment.  It covers fire, theft, liability, etc.  Be sure you know beforehand if you will need flood insurance. 

Home Warranties will depend on whether the home is new or existing.  Talk to your realtor about the specifics of a home warranty and what will be covered.

9.  Close on Your Home

Closing is the finality of your home searching experience!  There will be a lot of paperwork signing and the title will be transferred as well.  Be sure that the utilities are paid up and switched over as needed. 

10.  Tie Up Loose Ends

Consider changing the locks to your new home, just to caution on the side of safety.  Two weeks following closing, contact the local property records office and confirm that the deed was recorded. 

Good Luck!

Home Spotlight - 11817 Hanley Drive!

by Jason O'Neil

Enjoy Thanksgiving 2013 here.

This exceptional Rex Brown custom home located in the Woods at Gray Eagle in Fishers boasts:

  • 5 bedrooms
  • 4 1/2 bathrooms
  • 4,871 square feet
  • .43 acre lot 

2 Story Grand Entry  ~ Spindle Staircase ~ Generous Windows ~ Cathedral Ceilings ~ Wainscoting ~ Jack and Jill Bathroom

Tiled Backsplash ~ Bay Windows ~ Built In Bookshelves ~ Master Suite with true Spa-like Master Bath

Unique Trey Ceilings ~ Wet Bar ~ Home Theatre ~ Lower Level Guest Room with Bathroom

 

Curious Carmel Cottage

by Jason O'Neil

Well...not much of a Cottage.

And...not in OUR Carmel.

You can find this home in Carmel, CA.

However...WOW what a listing!

A home is always a very big deal when it has it's own name.  This home is called Maison de Tranquillite.  It's on Spindrift Road in Carmel Highlands.  For those of us (including myself) that may be unfamiliar with luxury real estate in California, Carmel Highlands is kind of a big deal.  It is a small, exclusive community that spans across the Pacific Coast line and showcases ocean front estates with incredibly dramatic views.  Maison de Tranquillite is located in a secluded bluff just South of China Cove.  The home is a Tudor Revival design that was personally conceptualized by it's owner.  Here's the specifics:

8,200 square feet ~ 6 bedrooms ~ 6 bathrooms ~ Basket Weaved Slate Roof ~ 1.78 acres Decorated in Cypress Trees, Beautiful Statues, Waterfalls

Listing Price:  $18.5 million

 

MacDuff Home Spotlight!

by Jason O'Neil

The difference is in the detail.

Built in b0okcases, trey ceilings, glass block walls in the master bath, the family-friendly

open floor plan and summertime-ready patio make this home a great buy.

Paired with a well established neighborhood in Noblesville, this truly is a must-see.

Fabulous Listings from Sotheby's International Realty

by Jason O'Neil

Villas, Waterfront Properties, Seaside Escapes, Equestrian Ranches.

These are the elements of exciting and interesting real estate. 

Some of the most outstanding listings represented by Sotheby's International Realty can be found below, for your viewing pleasure. 

 

Bridgehampton, New York ~ $25,750,000 ~ 3 Story Summer Cottage designed by the Carnegie Hall designer, William Tuthill, 1891

French Riviera ~ $60,000,000 ~ former home of Nobel Prize Winner Maurice Maeterlinck and wife Renee Dahon

Sorrento Villa, Tritone, Italy ~ $45,850,000 ~ Seafront Property

Montecito Coast Valley, California ~ $21,500,000 ~ Panoramic views over Santa Barbara Coastline

Newport Beach, CA ~ $22,000,000 ~ Waterfront Property,More Than a 1/2 acre Looking Over the Widest Expanse

Miami Beach, FL ~ $39,400,000 ~ Palladian Villa on Indian Creek Island of Less Than 40 Residents

Port Royal, FL ~ $42,000,000 ~ On The Gulf of Mexico, surrounded by 200 ft of Beachfront

Upper East Side, New York ~ $26,750,000 ~ Views of Central Park, 14 Room Apartment

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 59

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