Tax Season is Coming!

It’s time to start thinking about taxes! Here are few things to keep in mind.


It’s February already. We have hearts in our eyes for Valentine’s Day coming up, but we’re also thinking about another big day: Tax Day. It’s that time of year that we start gathering up our important documents and either pulling up a seat in front of the laptop or taking them down to our CPA. We know, we know … the deadline is still a couple months ahead to get this done, but we thought we’d remind you of a couple of real estate tax points.


It’s a great time to buy or sell your property! The market has really been picking up, and a better economy means people are changing jobs—so they have to move in a hurry. With all these houses changing hands, lots of taxes have to come out of pocket, right? Well, not necessarily. We checked out this article to bring you a few helpful facts.

Capital Gains

If you sold your house in 2017, you might not owe any capital gains taxes. In fact, most people won’t. If you’ve lived in your house for at least two of the previous five years—as your primary residence—and you made less than $250,000.00 in profit from the sale, then you don’t owe taxes. If you’re married and file taxes jointly, the profit margin goes up.


If you haven’t lived in your home for more than 2 of the last 5 years, and you’ve rented it out, you’ll have to pay up to 15% taxes on the sale. This is true of second homes, too.


If you lose money on the sale by selling your property for an amount less than you paid, then you don’t owe taxes (but you don’t get any extra tax help, either.)


This is a different story. If your property loses value, but you still sell it for more than you paid, you’ll have to calculate your taxes at 15% on the money you made. The depreciation value is taxed at a different rate. This is a case best discussed with your tax professional, because (as you can see) it’s complicated.


Owner Financing

What if you sell a rental building and accept monthly payments from the buyer? You’ll still have to pay gains taxes, at a percentage of the monthly payments. You’ll end up paying the same amount of taxes, eventually, as you’d have paid if you’d gotten the whole lump sum up front.


There are lots of ways to do real estate business, including property trading. This is usually done with commercial property. If you trade properties for an equal, “like” property, you won’t owe taxes at the time of the trade. You’ll still owe when you sell, though.

For all of these real estate tax issues, it’s always better to be completely sure of your tax responsibilities. Consult your trusted CPA! You don’t want taxes to fall between the cracks (risking an audit) or, just as bad, you don’t want to end up paying too much!

Interested in buying or selling your East Tennessee home? Check out and get started!

Brighten Up the Winter Blues

Read some of our favorite ways to brighten up winter days.

The holidays are over, and most of us have put away all our festive decorations. It feels nice to clean up the house, and tuck away the bright décor that seems, well … cluttery after the presents are opened and the New Year is ushered in. But this is also the time of year when the winter blues really set in.

The days are getting longer, but only a teeny bit at a time. The days are cold and the nights are downright brutal, so it’s easy to start feeling cooped up. Oh, and we’ve all probably fallen off the healthy eating wagon a looong time ago. It’s just so much easier to hibernate and snack and generally sink into the couch until we feel like one of the cushions! But none of that makes us feel better about ourselves.


Don’t be sad! You’ll feel better if you share that pie with a friend.


So, maybe it’s time we dug ourselves out of the couch cushions and set out to beat the winter blues. Here’s how!

Go Outside!

Yes, we know, it’s been 8 degrees some mornings lately. That might be too cold for most of us, but when it warms up enough to feel bearable (with lots of layers on!) then go for a brisk walk. Sunshine and fresh air are very healthy and very uplifting! You don’t even have to stay out for all that long: twenty minutes or so should be enough to get your heart pumping.

Don’t forget about indoor exercise, too. Search for some at-home workouts if you don’t go to the gym. There are tons of easy (or difficult, if you want!) exercise routines on YouTube. And they’re free! And, if you do belong to the gym, then GO! Exercise releases those feel-good chemicals: endorphins. There, doesn’t that feel better?

Get Dressed Up

It’s easy to fall into the old, “Well, nobody can see my snazzy outfit under my winter coat, so why bother?” mindset. But you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how good you feel about yourself if you put on those new earrings you got for Christmas, make a little effort with your makeup and fix your hair when you go to work, or even just Wal-Mart. Even if nobody else can see your cute outfit, you know what you have on! And your opinion is the one that counts.


Just because Christmas has come and gone doesn’t mean your house should be bleak. Splurge on a cozy, snowflake-themed throw blanket. Get out some special winter mugs. Switch out the art on your walls. Make the cold season something to celebrate!


Treat Yourself

Get a massage or a facial. Plan a weekend getaway to Gatlinburg with your best friend. Go to lunch at Blackberry Farms. Do something really nice for yourself, but with this challenge: make your treat an experience, and not just something to buy. It will feel a lot more meaningful, and your good feelings will keep coming every time you remember the experience.

Looking to buy (or sell!) your home this winter? Get started at

Beat Cabin Fever in East Tennessee!

Read about turning snow days into quality family time.

We’ve had a break from the bitter cold this week. We had a warm snap, true to the typical Tennessee weather pattern, where if you don’t like it, just wait a while. ‘Cause it’ll change. We’ve had darn-near tropical weather for a couple of days! Temperatures reached almost 70 degrees at one point. That’s a vast difference from last week, where lows dipped into the single digits!

But cold weather is blowing through again, and we’re predicting snow starting around Saturday or so. While the warm weather stretches are pretty nice, the bitter cold and even that mean, in-between weather, where everything is just slushy and slick, can keep us indoors. And you know what that means … cabin fever!


We know that keeping kids home from school can get us all feeling pretty squirrelly, so we rounded up some great ideas to beat that itchy, cabin-fevery feeling. Read on to see some of our favorites!

1. Board Games

Snowed in? It’s time to break out Monopoly. Put the phones down and spend some quality time on the boardwalk.

2. Movie Marathon

Don’t just veg out in front of your smartphone or tablet. Get the family together and watch the whole Die Hard franchise, or all of Harry Potter. Make popcorn and hot chocolate, and spend a little family time with some classic entertainment. Bonus points if you make a game out of how many times a shoot-out happens or the word “Cowboy” is spoken in Die Hard! Or, for Harry Potter, keep score of how many times someone says “Harry.” You get the picture.

3. Clean Up

When you’re feeling cooped up, sometimes cleaning out the clutter can get you zen-ed out. Go through the kids’ clothes, go through your own closet, get rid of things that you don’t want or have outgrown. Hey, it’s a new year! Out with the old, in with the new!

4. Get Crafty

Start a scrapbook, or sew a blanket. Make a castle out of old cereal boxes. Attempt all those Pinterest ideas you’ve been saving for a … well, a snowy day! Get your kids in on it!

5. Get Cooking

If you’re like lots of families, your schedule is a tightly wound nightmare! Between school, after-school activities, work, grocery shopping … you barely have time to get a hot meal on the table at the end of the day. Take this enforced slow-down as a blessing, and do some things the slow, old-fashioned way. Roast a chicken. Try a new recipe you’ve had your eye on. Sit down with the family and enjoy a meal together.


And, really, don’t sweat it. After all, we typically don’t stay cooped up for long here in East Tennessee. It’s one of the perks about living here: the weather is very rarely extreme! And if you are worried about the cold snaps, just remember: the really cold days bring down the annoying bug population. So a few cold spells here and there equal much more pleasant summer days!

If you’re in the market for your own East Tennessean cabin (without the fever, of course!) then check out

Make Your List and Check it Twice!

Stay off the financial naughty list by making sure these things are taken care of!

So, it’s December y’all! The last month of the year. This is the month for holiday decorations, for cheer and good times, and for parties.

It’s also … the last month of the year. And even though we’d like to spend our time shopping, baking and generally enjoying our loved ones, it’s important to make sure all the year’s financial considerations have been taken care of, especially if you bought or sold a home in 2017. Read on for a few considerations in closing out the year on good financial footing!


Real Estate Gains

Most people won’t have to worry about paying taxes if you earned money from the sale of your new home. As this article points out, only gains above $250,000.00 (or $500,000.00 if you file with your spouse) require taxes to be paid. There are other rules to consider, too: your house must have been your primary residence for two to five years, for example, for the gains to be tax exempt. If there are any other complicating factors, such as divorce or inheritance, it’s very important to make sure you’ve covered all your fees and taxes. To be absolutely sure you’ve crossed all your t’s and dotted your i’s when it comes to paying taxes on real estate gains, make sure you consult with your tax professional soon!

Consider Taking a (Polar) Plunge

If you’ve been putting off buying your new home, now might be the time to jump on it. Why? Because that home could be as much as 12% cheaper now than it will be in the summer, according to this article. While there are more houses on the market in the summer, largely because families prefer to make their move in between school years, if you’ve found your perfect place in the winter, pounce on it!

Change of address!


If you moved this year, there might be a few places you overlooked while changing your address. Don’t worry, Santa will probably still find you. (He can fly all around the world in one night and get into houses without chimneys; he can find you in your new neighborhood!) But you want to be sure your 2017 W2 forms will find you, too. Here’s a change-of-address list from to check twice:

    Your place of employment

Your financial institution

Your credit card companies

Your utilities, cable, phone and internet providers

Your doctor, dentist, optometrist and other medical professionals you see regularly

Your health insurance company

Your life insurance company

Your vision/dental/catastrophic insurance company

Your car insurance company

Your rental or home insurance company

Your child’s school

Your child’s doctor, babysitter, music instructor, and others who provide paid services

Your pet’s veterinarian and kennel

Your alma mater

Circulation departments of magazines, newspapers and catalogues you subscribe to

Anyone who may need to send you final bills or info about their professional services in your new area

Friends & family, particularly those who go through the trouble to send holiday cards and paper invitations


Now that you’ve taken care of all that, feel free to toast yourself with a bit of eggnog and get to wrapping presents! Luckily, you can re-purpose some of your moving boxes for gift boxes.

Of course, if you’re ready to start out 2018 in a new home in East Tennessee, go to



What Retirees Want!

You might be surprised at today’s retiree’s choices.

Most people, when they hear about retirees moving or looking to buy a new home, imagine somewhere sunny, with palm trees, and something small, like a condo or considerably downsized house. According to this survey on, performed in 2015, those antiquated ideas are way off!

So what are today’s retirees into, when it comes to this new phase of home life?

Staying Put

Surprisingly, most boomers choose not to relocate to a new state when buying a new home. And downsizing is becoming a myth! Many of today’s retirees choose a similar-sized home, or even one that is a little bigger. Why? To make room for visitors, family, and even hobbies. In fact, the most popular home improvement project for a retiree is adding on a personal office!

Less retirees are choosing this scene for their daily lives.

Freedom Threshold

It’s no surprise that the boomer generation rejects the old view of retirement: relaxing in the sun, living in a tiny condo. Today’s retiree has planned meticulously to live their lives to the fullest! They are choosing lifestyles based on the things they like and want, instead of living where they have an easy commute to work or better access to schools for their kids. This mindset is called the Freedom Threshold.

The biggest advantage of reaching the Freedom Threshold? Living longer! Stats show that retirees aren’t just fading away after punching their last time card. Instead, they’re living longer, fuller lives, and choosing dream homes they’ve saved for instead of just settling for something tiny.

So what is the biggest motivator for retirees when choosing their next home? Proximity to family. Retirees who stay in-state do so to be close to family, and 29% those who move away have the same reason: to follow family.

Survey says: family is the most important factor in retirees deciding where to live.

Not Just Fun and Games

Proximity of family is also on this checklist of things to consider when planning a retirement relocation, on In addition, if you’re looking to make a major lifestyle change (in addition to retiring!) keep in mind differences in taxes from state to state, and whether keeping your original residence to rent out or selling it outright will be more advantageous.

Even though schools and work commute are no longer as important, you should still weigh your options carefully.

Medical care is also a major consideration. Even if you plan to snowbird north for the summer or south for the winter, you shouldn’t rely only on doctors in your home state. Even in rural areas, Tennessee has good access to emergency care, and clinics and hospitals are a short drive in most locations. But, still, do your homework and make sure you like the local medical care before committing!

Consider East Tennessee

Here in East Tennessee, the same mild climate, beautiful landscape, low cost of living and pleasant standard of living—including tons of stuff to do!—are good for both young, working families and those looking to retire. In Tennessee, you can get the best of both worlds: staying close to family, and living well on a fixed income!


If you’re looking to retire in East Tennessee, and you want to find your dream home, check out We’d love to help.

Heating Bill Comparison

Let’s take a look at the cost of heating our homes in East Tennessee.

It’s officially Fall, Y’All, and it’s the time of year for lovely leaves (which haven’t reached their peak yet,) gorgeous, bright harvest moons, and crisp nights and mornings. We haven’t yet hit a hard frost this season, and lots of people stay comfy even in the chillier weather by shutting their windows and bundling up in warm sweaters and socks.


But we know the real cold is on its way! And, since we’re proud of how affordable the cost of living here in Tennessee is, we thought we’d take a look at how much it costs to heat a home in our fair state. Electricity Local is a website that compares the cost of electricity, and how much electricity is used, with the rest of the country. According to them, Tennesseans spend an average of $123 per month on the household electric bill. If you read further, you’ll notice that’s actually higher than the average electric bill in America, by a little over 14%.

But wait, didn’t we say bills are lower, here?

They are! The rate for electricity in Tennessee averages 10.1 cents/kWh, ranking us 37th in the nation. That’s pretty good. Our cost for electricity is about 15% lower than the average in this country. And, because the cost of electricity is more affordable, more people use electric means (like heat pumps) to heat their homes in the cooler months!

If you opt to subsidize your heating needs with gas, or good old firewood, then your electric bill will be even lower. We also have plenty of choices in Tennessee for solar power, which can be purchased on a lease-to-own basis or with a lump sum. Going this route means your electric bills will dwindle down to nil. In many cases, solar power consumers get paid by TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority), because their solar panels produce enough power to sell some back to the grid! That’s a pretty sweet way to put our average of 204 days of sunshine per year to good use.


But, what about other sources of heat for the home? Around here, natural gas is pretty popular. It delivers heat quickly. In comparing the cost of gas with electricity, we can check out Energy Models, a website that specializes in this sort of thing. The biggest challenge in the comparison is that electricity is measured by kWh, and natural gas rates come in dollars per therm. Those aren’t easily convertible units! We went to this website for a better explanation:

There are 100,000 Btus per therm of natural gas. There are 3413 Btus per kilowatt hour of electricity.

To Calculate The Comparison:

Multiply the cost per kilowatt hour X 29.3 to get the cost of 100,000 Btus of electricity and compare that cost, to the cost of one therm of natural gas, which can be found on your monthly statement.

Example: If your cost of electricity is $.08 per Kwh, then multiply $.08 X 29.3 = $2.34 for 100,000 Btus of electricity, then compare that cost, to the cost of one therm of natural gas, which can be found on your monthly statement.

The upshot is this: natural gas is, actually, cheaper to use in heating your home. BUT, installing a natural gas heater, and maintenance, too, costs more money.


If you want to make East Tennessee your home this fall, check out!

Back to School Time!

It may be the dog days, but there’s something else that makes August notable: Back to School!

It’s August already! It’s been a beautiful summer: at times hot and muggy, but we’ve had our fair share of crystal-clear, lovely weather, too. It may be the dog days, but there’s something else that makes August notable: Back to School! Kids and parents all over East Tennessee are gearing up to walk back through those lobby doors, heading to new classrooms, new desks and a new year of learning. Here are a few tips to make the transition from summer to school a little softer.


It’s amazing how far a good snack can go toward cheering a kid (or parent!) up, or just helping them wind down after a day of rules and work. Add a couple of fun snacks to lunches for a little midday boost, and have something healthy and yummy waiting for a just-off-the-bus treat. Here are a couple of ideas: pinch the middle of a baggie of grapes with a twisted pipe cleaner to make it look like a butterfly, or slather peanut butter on celery and stick on raisins for “ants on a log.” Then sneak a few bites for yourself!



Yeah, your older kids probably have a stack of homework already, but a little bit of quiet, unscheduled time (coinciding with the snack, probably!) can set the right tone for tackling those worksheets. Reading a book quietly, building with Legos, imaginative play, even just sitting and daydreaming: all these things help a kid’s brain release after school. Note: screen time, even though it can seem like relaxation time, actually overstimulates kids’ brains, making it more difficult for them to wind down.

Get Out!

Since they’re spending so much more of their days indoors, make sure kids have plenty of opportunity to get outside. Studies show it increases their learning capabilities, reduces stress and can even help them be healthier. Kick the kids out to the backyard during the school week, and go to the park on the weekends. It’s good for parents, too! And, luckily, we have the majestic Great Smoky Mountains practically in our backyard, so a Saturday day hike is a short trip away.


Healthy Habits

It’s important for both parents and kids to get enough sleep and eat healthy meals during the school week. It can be stressful making sure backpacks and lunches are all packed up and ready to go, the kids aren’t wearing the same stained shirt they wore for the past two days, pick up and drop off happen on time, and a million other things don’t fall between the cracks! Give yourself a boost with healthy habits.

Kids at Home

Does little brother or sister still stay at home? You can do lots of fun things to prep them for the big day they get to go to school, too. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will send free books to your home to help you jump-start your kids’ love of reading. Local libraries have reading programs and story hours that help you get out of the house and help your entertain kids, too.

Good luck with back to school time! Visit for your East Tennessee realty needs.