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Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

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Seven Ways to Curb Winter Utility Costs While You’re Away!

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

Energy tips.....Ready for a winter vacation? If you’re spending your holidays abroad, take 15 minutes before you head out the door to complete these easy energy-saving to-do’s. You might save enough to buy yourself a massage après-ski. Plus, you'll be more relaxed knowing your home is hibernating safely while you're away.

  1. Turn down your thermostat. Depending on your home’s insulation, you can set your thermostats lower than usual. We recommend keeping it at a steady 55 degrees while you're away, cutting your heating bill significantly. (Do keep in mind the hazards of frozen pipes.) Programmable thermostats, which may be installed at no cost during a home energy evaluation, will let you keep the heat low through your vacation but warm things up just in time for your return. If you'll be away for an extended period, consider turning off the water, draining the pipes and setting the thermostat even lower — but talk to a plumber first.
  2. And your hot water heater (or put it in vacation mode). If your water heater is older than its warranty period, and especially if it's showing signs of age such as leaks or rust, consider replacing it now to avoid the catastrophe of a ruptured tank while you're away. Look for an Energy Star® model to save on the substantial cost of hot water, year-round.
  3. Lower and close all your window treatments such as blinds, curtains and drapes, to hold heat in the house. You should also make sure to lock your windows as that will help further eliminate drafts with a tight seal. While you’re considering windows, be sure that they can hold up to the winter chill – double- or triple-pane ones are best.  
  4. Add insulation and air sealing. If your home has cracks or gaps that let in drafts, or if your insulation is lacking, there's no better time to have the structure sealed and give it a warm blanket. You'll reduce your heating (and cooling) bills year-round, and you're more likely to avoid freezing pipes; this is especially important if you've turned down the thermostats.
  5. Use light timers. If you leave lights on to discourage burglars, put them on timers rather than having them consume electricity 24 hours a day. Save even more power by swapping out your bulbs to high-efficiency bulbs such as CFLs and LEDs, available at low- or no-cost during a home energy evaluation.
  6. Unplug everything you can or put your electronics on smart power strips. These power strips will both turn off your DVR when your TV is off and eliminate electricity leaks from equipment when it's not in use.
  7. Close the damper on your fireplace, if you have one. When you return from vacation, get in the habit of doing this after each fire, as soon as the ashes are completely cold.

Flood Insurance Update as of July 23, 2014

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

MAR Applauds Passage of State Flood Insurance Bill that helps Massachusetts homeowners

FloodInsuranceJuly23

BOSTON - July 23, 2014 - The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) applauds the work done by Governor Patrick, Attorney General Coakley and Speaker DeLeo to address the devastating impacts of the changes to National Flood Insurance Program at the state level with the passage of H3783, An Act relative to flood insurance.


“Due to the older and coastal housing stock in Massachusetts, we have been working tirelessly with the National Association of REALTORS® on a federal level to seek relief for Bay State homeowners after major changes to the National Flood Insurance Program,” said MAR 2014 President Peter Ruffini, regional vice president for Jack Conway REALTORS® in Norwell. “We greatly appreciate that Governor Patrick, Attorney General Coakley and Speaker DeLeo not only recognized this as a serious issue, but also crafted legislation that will help some of those homeowners impacted to prevent default or foreclosure.”
This new law will provide homeowners with the option of purchasing flood insurance in an amount that would only cover the outstanding amount of a mortgage or equity loan. Previously, these homeowners would be required to purchase full replacement value regardless of the value of the mortgage owed. As a result, insurance premiums could be so high that some homeowners could no longer afford to live in their homes. This new law will be beneficial for some to help prevent default or foreclosure, but it is still recommended that homeowners carry enough insurance to protect themselves in the event that they lose their home to a flood.


“We will continue to work with our national association and other coalition partners to address longer term issues involving FEMA mapping and housing affordability,” said Ruffini.

About Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®:
Organized in 1924, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is a professional trade organization with more than 19,000 + members.  The term REALTOR® is registered as the exclusive designation of members of the National Association of REALTORS® who subscribe to a strict code of ethics and enjoy continuing education programs.

by Eric Berman | Jul 23, 2014

What's Happening in April?

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

What's happening in April 2014?

  • April Fools' Day - April 1st
  • Total Lunar Eclipse - April 15th
  • Tax Day - April 15th
  • Easter - April 20th
  • Earth Day - April 22nd
  • Holocaust Remembrance Day - April 27th

Sports:

  • Golf Master's Tournament - April 10th-13th
  • NHL Stanly Cup Playoffs begin - April 16th
  • NBA Playoffs begin - April 19th

Seasonal Foods:

  • Asparagus, Lettuce, Garlic, Rhubarb, Oranges

Famous Birthdays:

  • April 1, 1928 - Jane Powell
  • April 3, 1958 - Alec Baldwin
  • April 3, 1961 - Eddie Murphy
  • April 15, 1452 - Leonardo da Vinci
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Ipswich Makes the Top 10 Best Locations to Live in MA - Boston.com

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

TOP 10 BEST LOCATIONS TO LIVE IN MASS

Ipswich, our 10th best place to live in Massacusetts, boasts a low crime rate, 31 historical locations, and seven parks. It is also accessible by commuter rail.John Phelan/WIkiCommons

10. Ipswich

By Christina Jedra / Globe Correspondent

Ipswich, our 10th best place to live in Massachusetts, boasts a low crime rate, 31 historical locations, and seven parks. It is also accessible by commuter rail.

Economy recovering as housing market cools....

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

The U.S. housing market appears to be cooling off and that’s not a bad thing, according to Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff.

Rascoff expects home values to appreciate by about 3% in 2014, lower than the 5% appreciation rate homes had been seeing over the past year or so.

“The fact that the housing market is starting to slow down" means the recovery is sustainable, he says. "We had bounced too far off the bottom too quickly and so this slowdown is okay." 

The real estate market, of course, is a bifurcated story. According to Rascoff, appreciation in Las Vegas is up 33% year-over-year. California, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona have also seen home prices appreciate by more than 20% year-over-year.


Washington D.C., Chicago and Philadelphia, however, have all seen home values drop year-over-year.

“These markets are starting to find their own footing, some going way up and some not so much,” explains Rascoff. 

And the markets that are shooting up now won’t be for long, he notes. “It’s unsustainable...Las Vegas at 33% year-over-year [price appreciation] has to come down. What’s important to remember is these markets that are shooting up so quickly fell the furthest so they had a lot further to go on the  way back up.”

So where are the housing risks in 2014?

“What’s driving the housing market now is negative equity,” says Rascoff. “But what’s happened over the last year or two is that about 5 million Americans have been freed from negative equity so in some of these inventory constrained markets where home values were going way up more inventory is coming onto the market and that’s what’s helping to moderate these appreciation rates.” 

The days of buying a home at 50% less than its estimated value are gone.

It’s a seller's market right now according to Rascoff.

“Inventory is still constrained," he says. "There were a lot of buyers that were sitting on the sideline waiting for the media to tell people that home values have bottomed. We’ve now declared that and so buyers are trying to act.”  

Credit given to the The Daily Ticker

Reports on Manufacturing and Housing Point to a Weakening Economy

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

WASHINGTON — Manufacturing output barely rose in September and signed contracts to buy existing homes recorded their largest drop in nearly three and a half years, in the latest signs that the economy’s momentum ebbed as the third quarter ended.

The New York Times

 

The reports on Monday showed that economic activity was on weak footing even before a 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government early in October that is expected to weigh on fourth-quarter growth.

“The economy seems to be losing steam as higher mortgage rates have hit the housing market and destructive government policy will likely bash the rest of the economy,” said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors.

Manufacturing production edged up 0.1 percent last month after advancing 0.5 percent in August, the Federal Reserve said.

Factory output was held back by a 0.5 percent drop in computer and electronic goods production. Output of electrical appliances also fell.

While automobile output increased 2.0 percent, that was a sharp slowdown from the 5.2 percent rise logged in August.

Despite the softness in factory output, a 4.4 percent increase in utility output lifted overall industrial production 0.6 percent, the largest increase since February.

Separately, the National Association of Realtors said its pending homes sales index, based on contracts signed last month, plunged 5.6 percent to the lowest level since December. The decline was the largest since May 2010.

The index, which leads home resales by a month or two, has now dropped for four consecutive months. Realtors say sales of existing homes, which dropped in September, peaked in July and August.

Data last week showed that a gauge of business spending tumbled in September. That data, combined with a disappointing reading on hiring released earlier this month, has offered a dull picture of economic activity.

Thomas Costerg, United States economist at Standard Chartered Bank, said a run-up in interest rates over the summer on expectations that the Fed would soon trim its bond-buying stimulus appeared to be holding back the economy. “This will make the Fed even more cautious when they next start to hint at tapering,” he said.

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to an average of 4.49 percent in September, from an average of 3.54 percent in May, according to Freddie Mac. But a surprise decision by the central bank in mid-September not to cut its purchases and soft economic data have pulled rates lower since then.

The Fed’s policy makers are meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday and are expected to maintain their bond-buying pace, now at $85 billion a month.

While manufacturing accounts for only about 12 percent of economic activity, it was the main driver of the economy from the 2007-9 recession.

Factory output rose at a 1.2 percent rate in the third quarter, rebounding from a 0.1 percent fall in the previous three months. Economists expect that manufacturing slowed in October as the federal government shutdown hurt business confidence.

Last month, the amount of industrial capacity in use rose to 78.3 percent, the highest level since July 2008, from 77.9 percent in August.

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Active Summer Real Estate Market Pushed Close Sales and Prices up in September

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

Active Summer Real Estate Market Pushed Close Sales and Prices up in September

Most closed September single-family and condominium sales since 2005

WALTHAM, Mass. October 22, 2013 The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) reported today that both sales and prices closed up with double digit increases in September compared to the same time last year. The condominium market also maintained its upward momentum.

“September closed sales and prices was another example of buyer demand outpacing housing supply and that resulted in the most closed sales in a September since 2005,” said 2013 MAR President Kimberly Allard- Moccia, broker-owner of Century 21 Professionals in Braintree. “Interest rates are still low and qualified buyers are still there, but what we need now to get to full recovery is those sellers who are holding off, to make the commitment to sell.”

There were 4,289 detached single-family homes sold this September, a 17.2 percent increase from the 3,660 homes sold the same time last year. This is the sixth straight month of year-over-year increases and the most closed sales of any September since 2005 when there were 4,744 closed sales. On a month-to- month basis, home sales were down 24 percent from 5,657 homes sold this past August. It is typical to see a decrease in closed sales from August to September.

The median selling price for single-family home in September was $325,000 which was up 11.9 percent from $290,000 in September 2012. This is the 12th straight monthly year-over-year increase. On a month- to-month basis, the September median selling price was down six percent from $345,000 in August 2013.

There were 1,746 condominiums sold this past September, an increase of 19.3 percent from the 1,464 condos sold the same time last year. This is the 21st straight month of year-over-year increases. Similar to single-family sales, this September had the most closed condominium sales since September 2005 when there were 2,275 units sold. On a month-to-month basis, condominium sales were down 23 percent from 2,269 homes sold this past August. Similar to single-family home sales, it is typical to see a decrease in closed condominium sales from August to September.

The median selling price for condominium in September was $305,000 which was up 7.8 percent from the $283,000 median price in September 2012. On a month-to-month basis, the September median selling price was down 4.7 percent from $320,000 in August 2013.

About the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®:

Organized in 1924, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is a professional trade organization with more than 19,000 members. The term REALTOR® is registered as the exclusive designation of members of the National Association of REALTORS® who subscribe to a strict code of ethics and enjoy continuing education programs.

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*Please Note: Because of the recent change on how the MLS Property Information Network, Inc., classifies under agreement status (“UAG”), year-over-year comparisons of inventory, months of supply and days on market data between September 2012 and September 2013 are not currently possible. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is working with its analytics vendor and the MLS to determine and implement a solution to update historical data to provide for accurate year-over-year comparisons.

Editors and reporters: Please note that the term Realtor is properly spelled with an initial capital “R”, per the Associated Press Stylebook.

© 2013 Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®. All rights Reserved.

10/22/13

 

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Calling all Ipswich Residents with failed or failing septic systems

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

 

Septic Betterment Program from Town of Ipswich website; 

INTRODUCTION

The Town of Ipswich invites those in need of septic system repairs or replacement to apply for a Loan under the Town’s Septic Management Betterment Program. The proceeds of a loan from the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection are being utilized to help homeowners comply with Title 5, 310 CMR 15.000 of the State Environmental Code. This will be done by repairing or replacing failed on-site sanitary sewage disposal systems or providing connections to the municipal sewer system. The goal of the Betterment Program is to protect the public health, safety, welfare and the environment through the repair, replacement and/or upgrade of failed systems.

GENERAL PROGRAM DETAILS

The Betterment Program is offering a 2% interest loan with a maximum 18 year payment plan. This allows homeowners to repair their septic systems through the payment of a betterment. There is no credit check required, although all municipal accounts must be paid up to date. Only homeowners that are certified by the Tax Collector’s Office and Utilities Department as showing no outstanding balances due are eligible for the Betterment Program.

The loan application is processed under the direction of the Health Agent/Program Administrator. Loan payments must be made annually with the third quarter tax assessment to cover the amount of the loan plus 2% annual interest.

More information can be found in these documents: Betterment Program Information , Sample Betterment Agreement .

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

All Ipswich households will be eligible to participate. Evidence of a failed system must be presented through an Official Title 5 Inspection Report completed by an Ipswich permitted System Inspector.

HOW DO I APPLY?  To obtain an application you may download it from the Town of Ipswich website or call the Health Agent during Town Hall operating hours at 978.356.6606.

American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 restores 2 tax breaks previously lost to homeowners.

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

 

Homeowners received two little-noticed gifts from the fiscal cliff deal signed by President Obama on Jan. 1. That congressional agreement, called the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, restores a pair of treasured tax breaks previously lost to homeowners.

One is the federal tax deduction for mortgage insurance premiums. The other is a tax credit that lets homeowners take up to $500 off their federal income tax for making certain improvements that increase the energy efficiency of their homes.

Bloomberg makes the point that restoring these tax perks was a triumph for the extremely powerful housing and mortgage insurance lobbies. These two breaks, together with decisions to preserve tax exemptions for home sale profits and mortgage debt forgiven in foreclosures and short sales, could total $600 billion over the next five years.

Deduct MI premiums again

If you pay mortgage insurance, you know that deducting it is the next best thing after being able to cancel it (when the loan balance drops below 78% of the home's value and you've made at least 60 payments). Congress snatched away the deduction at the end of 2011 but gave it back with the stroke of a pen in the Jan. 1, 2013, deal.

You can use the deduction on your 2012 and 2013 federal taxes. It applies to private mortgage insurance premiums as well as Federal Housing Authority and Veterans Affairs premiums.

Restoring the deduction for those two years will cost taxpayers $1.3 billion, says The Associated Press

Bloomberg says about 3.6 million taxpayers used the deduction in 2009 (the latest data available). "They deducted almost $5.5 billion in premiums, for a total tax benefit of more than $700 million, according to the National Association of Homebuilders in Washington."

To enjoy this restored benefit, you'll have to itemize deductions on your federal income tax, said MSN Money tax expert Jeff Schnepper, reached by email. "That means, assuming you don't take the standard deduction, your maximum benefit is 25% of whatever you pay in mortgage insurance premiums."

The deduction is for taxpayers earning less than $110,000 a year, says Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, a trade group.

FHA rules about to change

Government's and lenders' rules require mortgage insurance for homes bought with a down payment of less than than 20%. MICA, the trade group, says that roughly 29% of home loans have mortgage insurance. Of that, 9% is private mortgage insurance, 13% is FHA mortgage insurance and 7% VA coverage.

Heads-up: Buying an FHA-insured home is about to become more costly, by the way. Not only are FHA premiums rising to replenish the insufficient FHA insurance pool but FHA is putting an end to homeowners' ability to cancel their insurance once they have a 78% stake in the home. 

No date has been set for the change, HUD spokesman Lemar Wooley said by email. He expects an announcement by March 31 or sooner. Once the change goes into effect, you'll pay mortgage insurance on an FHA loan for as long as you own the loan. The change does not affect FHA loans made before then, though.

Credit for green improvements

And now for that tax credit on energy-frugal improvements. A credit -- unlike a tax deduction, which lowers your taxable income -- is simply money taken off the amount you owe the IRS.

Residential energy tax credits have been available for several years for improvements and appliances that improve a home's energy efficiency. (The program has a tortured history. See it here at the Alliance to Save Energy.)

The tax credit is typically 10% -- up to a total of $500 -- for purchasing and installing certain products. But a few eligible products have specific credits, $300 for an electric heat pump water heater, for example.

What's eligible

The credit can be used when you purchase a qualified new water heater, furnace, boiler, heat pump, central air conditioner, insulation, windows or roofing for your home. Circulating fans are eligible when they're used in a qualifying furnace. Biomass stoves that use qualified fuel also are eligible.

As you may have noticed, "eligible" is the important word here. The Alliance to Save Energy explains how to find out which appliances are eligible. The Database for State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency also offers a rundown of the credit.

You claim the credit for the tax year in which the appliance was installed (not purchased). You can use the tax credit only if you haven't claimed it before (in any year). File IRS Form 5695  along with your income tax to claim the credit. Here's how the IRS describes the credit.

Extending the credit for 2012 and 2013 will cost taxpayers $2.4 billion, according to the AP.

 

One in Five Say It’s a Good Time to Sell

by Ingrid Miles, CBR, REALTOR®

Last month the largest percentage of Americans since the housing bust said they believe it’s a good time to sell house, according to the latest Fannie Mae National Housing Survey.

Results from show Americans’ optimism about the recovery of the housing market and with regard to homeownership continued its gradual climb, bolstered by a series of mortgage rate decreases experienced throughout the summer. Consumer attitudes about the economy also improved substantially last month, breaking the progression of waning confidence seen during much of this year.

Survey respondents expect home prices to increase an average of 1.5 percent in the next year. The share who says mortgage rates will increase in the next 12 months dropped 7 percentage points to 33 percent. Nineteen percent of those surveyed say now is a good time to sell, marking the highest level since the survey began in June 2010. Tying the June 2012 level (and the all-time high since the survey’s inception), 69 percent of respondents said they would buy if they were going to move.

With regard to the economy overall, 41 percent of consumers now believe the economy is on the right track, up from 33 percent last month, while 53 percent believe the economy is on the wrong track, compared with 60 percent the prior month. Both the right track and wrong track figures mark the highest and the lowest readings, respectively, since the survey began in June 2010.

Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed expect home prices to go up in the next year, the highest level since the survey’s inception in June 2010. Thirty-three percent of respondents say mortgage rates will go up in the next year, a decrease of 7 percentage points since last month. Those who say now is a good time to buy dipped slightly to 72 percent.

Consumer optimism climbed in September, with 41 percent saying the economy is on the right track—the highest level recorded since the survey’s inception and an 8 percentage point increase over last month. Forty-four percent of respondents expect their personal financial situation to improve over the next year, up from 42 percent in August.

The share of respondents who say their household income is significantly higher than it was 12 months ago decreased by 3 percentage points to 17 percent. Thirty-four percent of those surveyed say their household expenses are significantly


Article printed from RISMedia: http://rismedia.com

 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 56

Contact Information

Photo of Ingrid Miles, CBR, Top Listing REALTOR Real Estate
Ingrid Miles, CBR, Top Listing REALTOR
Keller Williams Realty
11 South Main St & 1 Merrimac St
Topsfield & Newburyport MA 01983 & 01950
Direct: 978-471-9750
978.861.4218
Fax: 978-861-4218

The property listing data and information, or the Images, set forth herein were provided to MLS Property Information Network, Inc. from third party sources, including sellers, lessors and public records, and were compiled by MLS Property Information Network, Inc. The property listing data and information, and the Images, are for the personal, non-commercial use of consumers having a good faith interest in purchasing or leasing listed properties of the type displayed to them and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties which such consumers may have a good faith interest in purchasing or leasing. MLS Property Information Network, Inc. and its subscribers disclaim any and all representations and warranties as to the accuracy of the property listing data and information, or as to the accuracy of any of the Images, set forth herein.”