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05 Jul 2016

3 Finance Tasks To Tackle Now

It’s easy to put off financial tasks until deadlines demand action, but you’ll get more peace of mind by tackling certain items before the year comes to a close. Enjoy quality time with friends and family without having these to-do’s rattling around in the back of your mind.

Make Charitable Contributions
Now is a great time to make charitable contributions, especially if you anticipate being in a lower tax bracket for 2018 due to retirement or a job change. Cash may be king, but if you donate highly appreciated stocks, you and your chosen charity will be off the hook for paying capital gains taxes.

Top Off Your Retirement Savings
Do your best to make the maximum annual contribution allowable to your tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Technically, you have until tax day of 2018 to make 2017 contributions, but if your employer is offering a match, try to increase your contribution amount to claim that “free” money.

Rebalance Your Portfolio With Tax-Loss Harvesting
Markets can make a lot of moves within a year. Work with your investment advisor to ensure your portfolio isn’t succumbing to style drift and is still appropriate for your goals and situation. The end of the year is an ideal time to consider tax-loss harvesting strategies. By liquidating “losers” to realize a loss on certain holdings, you can offset taxable gains from the “winners.”

As with all financial matters, work closely with your financial advisor, accountant and attorney to make sure all is well in your financial universe.

12 Jun 2016

Modern Light Fixtures Have It All

Many of today’s light fixtures combine new technology and avant-garde design to form modern works of art — even when they’re switched off. Looking to elevate your home’s interior? Here are a few modern lighting trends to know.

Clustered Arrangements
Small pendants can make a striking statement when grouped. Whether you’re clustering colorful glass bowls or monochromatic orbs, a themed assortment is a great way to contrast minimalism and maximalism. Cluster pendants tend to shy away from the ornate, focusing instead on simple, clean shapes and structural integrity.

Sculptures and Shadows
Today, chandeliers take on new life thanks to unique materials and interesting shapes. Try rough-hewn wire for a rustic DIY aesthetic or glass tile blown and shaped into organic textures. Modern lighting plays with shapes, designs and materials to create a more dynamic mood. You might even consider placing a carved panel beneath existing fixtures to add another dimension and create dramatic shadows in your space.

The Bulb as Objet D’Art
Another growing trend in lighting design explores a more deconstructed look. Exposed, oversized and tinted bulbs highlight hand-blown craftsmanship, playful hues and geometric shapes. Standing alone, these pieces make a statement. Consider upgrading cords with some color to add an extra punch to any room.

Style and design are important, but so are function and energy efficiency. Fortunately, many modern light fixtures have it all, along with pleasing illumination and ambiance. So whether you’re looking to bring more personality to your space or you just want to maximize the impact of fine furnishings, artistic light fixtures could be the right choice for you.

09 May 2016

Does Your Home Need A Wellness Room?

Modern life is filled with digital screens, constant notifications and alerts, and other stressors that must be managed in order to stay mentally and physically healthy. Creating a sanctuary at home that caters to your wellness activity of choice ensures you can clear your mind and condition your body when it’s most convenient for you.

Elevate Your Exercise Routine
Don’t just bring the gym home. Instead, add a personal touch to make the space your own, like a bold focal wall, luxurious finishes like wood paneling, or inspirational quotes to keep you motivated during your workouts. Consider installing a sauna to treat your muscles regularly or a juicing station for a fresh boost of nutrition when it matters most.

Opt for Organic Elements
Numerous scientific studies have found that spending time surrounded by nature has beneficial health effects like improving air quality and lowering stress levels. If going green speaks to you, think of ways to incorporate nature into your home wellness room — maybe with visual cues or the scent of fresh plants.

Make Room for Meditation
If better mindfulness is a goal of yours, take time to slow down in a thoughtfully designed room devoted to solitude and introspection. Whether you prefer a clean, modern aesthetic or something altogether unique, try using lighting, color and accessories to set the perfect tone for resting and recharging.

Designing a wellness room that is attractive, fully stocked and customized to your preferences is a great way to help you devote more time to your most precious resource: your health.

14 Apr 2016

What to look for when buying a condo

As more real estate buyers gravitate towards upscale urban living, condominiums are making a comeback. Condo life offers easier upkeep and chic amenities, and buying a condo can also be a smart investment. Here are a few perks and special features to consider if you’re thinking of adding a condo to your property portfolio.

Community and Association
One of the defining features of a condo is the sense of community and structure provided by the condo association. In exchange for paying regular fees that cover shared property maintenance, you won’t have to worry about maintaining your own yard. You’ll also probably encounter rules that address things like noise curfews and pets, so choose a place that aligns with your lifestyle.

Intriguing Investments
Condos can make excellent passive income generators. Start by doing some research, as local features like a nearby university or large employer will dictate the kind of renters you attract. If owning an investment property puts you in the position of being a landlord, just make sure you have the time and desire to address your tenants’ needs.

Stylish Digs
If you’re searching for a second home to serve as a city getaway or a useful annex for family members, take the time to review your options carefully. For example, if feng shui is important to you, consider the building location, condo level and floor plan. Before making your final selection, tour the space to make sure you approve of the view and the amount of natural light available.

Have questions? Let’s connect!

02 Mar 2016

Trend Forecast: Where To Invest Next

New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles consistently rank as some of the hottest luxury real estate markets. For savvy investors, however, securing stylish properties in other dynamic, promising locations could be the way to go. For 2018, take a closer look at smaller cities known for their tech-savvy workforce and high quality of life.

Seattle tops the charts.
Seattle, Washington, boasts some of the nation’s strongest employers, which attract well-educated, skilled workers. Combined with an outdoor-friendly lifestyle, culinary attractions, a bustling independent brewery scene and a progressive atmosphere, you have all the makings of an exceptional real estate locale.

The South is heating up.
If you’re interested in investment and possibly renting out a second home, set your sights on the South. Birmingham, Alabama, and Oklahoma City are just a couple of the places that average impressive returns on rental properties. In Texas, two cities cracked the top five markets for investment and development in a recent industry report: Austin was No. 2 and Dallas-Fort Worth was No. 5.

Secondary cities are on the rise.
The regional jewels defined as secondary markets are attracting a lot of attention thanks to a winning combination of young, affluent workers, healthy economies and relatively affordable housing. For example, Fort Lauderdale, Nashville and Salt Lake City are all enjoying renewed interest according to industry trends and outlooks for 2018.

Whether you’re seeking a getaway spot for friends and family or an investment property to add to your portfolio, take another look at secondary markets this year.

06 Feb 2016

Real Estate Investment Mistakes To Avoid

Real estate is the preferred form of investment for many, but it’s not always easy to know where to start or what challenges to watch out for. Create a strong portfolio that will continue to benefit you for years to come by avoiding these common pitfalls.

Sticking to One Market
Location matters, of course, but as an investor there are other factors to consider. Areas with strong employment in high-demand sectors, like tech, attract high-income households who may choose to rent before they buy. Expenditures matter, too; if some areas have been hit hard by natural disasters that are only increasing in frequency, expect more repair-related expenses down the road.

Relying on a Limited Network
Active real estate investors will probably find themselves frequently relying on electricians, plumbers and other home maintenance professionals. Keep building good relationships with a variety of service providers to ensure that no matter what kind of curveball your project encounters, you have a qualified and trusted person to call for help.

Making the Wrong Renovations
When it comes to making improvements to your real estate investment properties, consider your target buyer, the market and neighborhood, and your own expenses. If you overdo your renovations, you may outprice some renters. If you don’t do enough, you’re likely to be overlooked. By renovating with purpose, you can balance profit considerations and attract the right tenants.

Thinking about expanding your portfolio? Reach out if you’d like some assistance.

04 Jan 2016

How To Incorporate Art Into Your Home

It can take years to put together an art collection that captures your style and makes your house feel truly one of a kind. Whether you’ve invested in lots of original pieces or tend to gather more affordable prints, here’s how to display your selections in the way they deserve.

Think three-dimensional.
Fine art is all about creativity, so don’t be afraid to break from tradition. Sculptural pieces bring a modern flair to your home, reclaimed or vintage items can pay homage to heritage, and larger-than-life art will make bigger spaces feel warmer. Textiles, metalworks and artistic light fixtures can also add another layer of interest to your surroundings.

Curate with care.
Work with the space you have to highlight your favorite pieces in a meaningful way. This means matching certain pieces to certain rooms: Large gallery-worthy canvases can be placed where you entertain guests, while your children’s artwork can go where the family likes to spend quality time together. Don’t be afraid to rotate pieces regularly to keep things interesting.

Display art mindfully.
For an aesthetically pleasing and polished effect, determine the best height for each piece based on the room’s dimensions. You can also consider grouping several paintings, prints or photographs together. To do this well, start by choosing an “anchor piece” and then work from there, being as playful or bold as you’d like.

You purchased your art for a reason. Why not show off what you love about your choices while helping your home look its very best?

24 Apr 2015

How Much Is My Home Worth?

By Jeff Setlow
Realtor/Founding Partner at GetAnAgent.com
April 24, 2013

Don’t be fooled by an automated property value available on many popular real estate websites today. Determining the market value of a property can be a difficult chore. An experienced appraiser or Realtor will tell you that there is an element of art or subjectivity to the process that requires a human touch and is best left up to local professionals. Financial institutions and professional investors do not rely on an automated “guesstimate” and neither should you.

The backbone of any property valuation is the selection of comparable homes and the adjustments made based on differences between the target property and the chosen comparable properties or “comps.” A detailed statistical analysis based on experience and local knowledge of the market and chosen comparable properties is essential in determining “market value.” There truly is no shortcut to this important process.

Many websites that offer an instant home value rely on a set of default assumptions to create a general algorithm that is applied to all properties in a similar way. While it can be fun to check out home values quickly with a click of the mouse, this can be a significantly flawed approach to determine value as any industry professional will tell you. These instant valuation type websites encourage their users to seek the advice of a licensed appraiser or Realtor (usually in the fine print) to determine market value.

Let GetAnAgent identify the right local professional to help you determine the market value of any home that you are interested in buying or selling for free today!

16 Apr 2015

How To Custom Build Your Home Purchase

by Jeff Setlow
Realtor/Founding Partner at GetAnAgent.com

Knowing what truly matters most to you in homeownership and knowing what you can afford  are each key to buying a house you can happily live with. While many first-time Buyers soon become overwhelmed by the business of purchasing their piece of the American Dream; both they and more experienced Buyers can benefit from forming a big picture of what they really want and can afford.

Building Your Purchase Starts with the First Block

A home is the largest purchase that most of us make in a lifetime. Price and affordability will determine aspects of your purchase. It’s crucial that you get your financial house in order from the outset so that you can know exactly what you can afford, what it will cost, and how you will pay for it. Gather all of your financial documents together, including bank statements, tax returns, W2s, pay stubs or copies of work contracts, and any investment statements. Then, start shopping for a mortgage even before you have a house in mind. Your real estate agent can steer you to competitive mortgage brokers and you can check with your local bank or credit union as well. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is your main building block to a successful home purchase.

Get What You Really Want

What’s important to you and your family? Proximity to good schools? A short commute? A big house? Staying close to friends and family? A particular neighborhood? Your long-term satisfaction depends on your short-term home buying goals. Important factors sometimes go to the wayside in the short-term rush of home purchasing. Discussing your preferences and needs with your Realtor® from the start will help you identify your highest priorities when buying a house to call home. Determine your top two or three objectives and stick to your parameters when house-hunting. While not living next door to a crime scene may seem like a no-brainer, a useful tool for both Buyers and real estate agents is to have a short list of your personal deal-breakers handy. A good Realtor®  will help you maintain your long-term objectives.

Keeping It Real

A real estate agent that is both aware of, and stays sensitive to, your needs is an important component to your eventual satisfaction. A skilled and experienced Realtor®can be a guiding light through the layered home-buying process, and looks to identify your true priorities and price range. Think of your realty professional as the cornerstone of a solid real estate transaction. Spend a little time getting to know your real estate agent as you discuss your objectives. A good fit between agent and Buyer eases the multifaceted process of home buying and helps determine the deal you get.

11 Apr 2015

Make the Most of Selling Your Home

by Jeff Setlow
Realtor/Founding Partner at GetAnAgent.com

When you’re ready to list your home for sale, there are a few key elements to making your transaction go smoothly and profitably. Following these simple yet crucial guidelines mean thousands, even tens of thousands, more in your pocket.

Buyer and Seller Beware

Choosing the right real estate agent may seem an obvious first step, yet many of us do not follow this cardinal rule when listing our homes for sale. But, you may ask, “How do I find a Realtor® who is thorough, professional, market-savvy, and honest?” Referrals are often your safest and surest route to a great real estate agent. Whether you have personal references from friends, family and colleagues that a particular agent will serve you well, or enlist the professional services of a real estate referral agency, checking your real Realtor’s® credentials and track record is your best insurance against faulty real estate transactions. An independent agency is often in a better position than your inner circle to make agent referrals. Sales that strain all parties, do not result in a closing, or leave unexpected elements untended after closing, are not what any of us wants when buying or selling a home. For a clean sale, choose a reputable Realtor®.

Curb Appeal and Your Inside Straight

Never underestimate the importance of visual presentation when selling your residential real estate. Inside and out, the brighter and tidier your property appears to the eye, the more potential buyers will be shown your home and the more they’ll be able to image themselves living in it. Straighten up and thoroughly de-clutter rooms and storage areas, including the garage and basement. Kitchens and bathrooms should appear as spotless. Ensure there are no negative signs of pets. Make cosmetic repairs. Plant flowers or shrubs and, above all, let the sun shine in. Your bottom line depends on it.

Price It Right and “Buyers Be There”

A Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is your and your Realtor’s® top tool to establish an asking price for your home. Your real estate agent will closely compare and analyze past sales and current residential real estate listings in your neighborhood and zip code for the most reliable estimate of what price your house will sell for. Priced right, your home will sell in a reasonable amount of time for a fair price.

Another strategy that works as well today as it did a quarter century ago is to create conditions that result in competitive offers. Not recommended for the faint of heart, yet highly recommended for flat markets, or when in need of a quick sale; bidding wars are more like bidding bounty for Sellers. Once you’ve established a fair market value price though your Realtor’s® CMA, offer your home for about 15% less than its value and expect competitive offers above asking price. Having sold numerous listings and all of my personal properties this way, the method has never disappointed.