Make Your List and Check it Twice!

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

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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!

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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!

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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 Moveline.com 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

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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 DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

 

 

A New Community for the Holidays

Use these ideas to make your new community a home this holiday season.

December is here! It’s time for holiday decorations, visiting with friends and neighbors and showing how grateful you are for those folks we didn’t choose, but love anyway: our families.

If you’ve recently moved to a new community in East Tennessee, the holidays can be a bit lonely. Your familiar streets and people are far away, and you haven’t yet made those deep connections that give you warm fuzzies this time of year. The good news is, this is the time of year that people are even more likely to welcome you with open arms! So read on to pick up a few tips on how to put yourself out there this holiday season, and start making your new town feel like your home.

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Volunteer

If you’re feeling a bit lonely, chances are others are, too. Especially those who are down on their luck. Volunteer at local shelters. Find charities to give time, food or clothes to. Not only will you brighten someone’s day, but you’ll meet like-minded folks that could turn into lifelong friends! Check these places to find out when they’d welcome your help:

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Volunteer Match

Join a gym

Gym classes are a great place to find folks who share your love of spin or yoga class! Plus, releasing endorphins and getting your body in a healthier state helps alleviate the stress of the holidays, making you happier, naturally.

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Join a church

Church communities in our area are more than happy to open their arms to new folks in town. Try out a few and see which communities feel the most comfortable for you.

Join a class/learn a new skill/offer your own skills

The Lakeway Area is full of artists, dancers, readers, crafters, builders and more who like to share their love of their activities with others. Taking a class is a great way to put yourself out there with others who are looking to broaden their horizons. You can also offer to host a class, if you’re already an expert in weaving, or reading to little ones, for example. Start at the Rose Center to see what other artists in the Lakeway Area are up to.

Go to festivals and events

Festivals and street fairs are a great way to perk up your holiday spirits! Even if you’re just there for the window (or street booth) shopping, you never know what you’ll see or who you’ll meet to deepen your appreciation for your new home. To get you started, Christmas Downtown in Morristown is coming on December 15!

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Introduce yourself to your neighbors

Don’t underestimate how a smile and a handshake can brighten someone’s day. We don’t spend enough time on face-to-face conversation these days, and sometimes new neighbors feel too intimidated or set in their own ways to come over and introduce themselves. Taking a friendly initiative to walk over and say “hi” might be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Start a food drive, or volunteer to do a little something extra at work or at your child’s school

If you have kids, making friends with other parents can make life so much easier! It’s nice to be able to let your kids play together while you enjoy a cup of coffee and talk about adult things—you know, something other than Elmo, potty training and Sophia the First. Oh, who are we kidding? You’ll end up talking about that stuff with other parents, too.

Looking for a new home in the Lakeway Area? Check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

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 Forbes.com, 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!

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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.

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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 CNBC.com. 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.

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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 DarleneReeves-Kline.com. We’d love to help.

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.

Snacks!

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!

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Downtime

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.

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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 DarleneReeves-Kline.com for your East Tennessee realty needs.

Fixer Uppers!

We put together a few tips to consider when you’re looking for a fixer upper!

With the explosion of popularity of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” thousands more homebuyers are on the hunt for the gem hidden behind a facade of neglect or just bad design choices from years gone by (ahem: baby food-green shag carpet, anyone?)

Not every house is worth fixing up, though! For every one house that hides gleaming wood floors underneath threadbare carpets, you could view three that have severe water damage or a foundation so bad you’ll want to hightail it out of the house for fear the whole thing will crash down on your head!

How can you get a ride on the fixer upper train? We’ve pulled together a few tips to help you get started. Read on to find out more!

Foundations

We decided to start at the bottom because, arguably, it’s the most important part of the house. If your house has a bad foundation, you’ve got the real estate equivalent of a game of Russian Roulette. It could be easily fixed with the addition of metal columns to shore up the concrete blocks. OR, you could discover it will take upwards of $50,000 to completely jack up the house, remove the unstable foundation and replace it with a working one. The problem is, you might not know what you have on your hands until you start (literally) digging in.

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The solution? Train your eyes to check out cracks and settling in the foundation. Is the roof line less than true? It could be a bad roof, or it could be the result of a foundation sinking on one side, bringing the rest of the house with it. Obvious, big cracks in the mortar of the foundation? Red flag. And always, always, get a professional’s opinion on the state of the house.

Tip: It might be a good idea to view the house after a strong storm. If water is coming into the basement, you’ll be able to see it in action.

Roof

We mentioned the top of the house already. A sturdy roof is very important in maintaining your home. It keeps out the weather and unwanted critters, but a good roof also keeps the house insulated: warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Get up there and look at it! Are the shingles bald? Crumbly? Are there dips in the roof?

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Even if the shingles need replacing, you can sometimes get away with just putting a fresh layer on top of the old ones. If you need a whole new roof, it will set you back thousands. That might not be a deal breaker, especially if you can put in the labor yourself.

Bones

Does the house “speak to you?” Can you see a vision of your future in it? Maybe if you knock down a wall there, add a window in over here … if the layout of the house is absolutely terrible, you might be able to open it all up. Or, you might realize you’d basically have to rebuild the entire structure to get it how you want it.

Feeling inspired to look for your next diamond in the rough? Visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com and let’s get started!

Tennessee: A Great Choice for Retirement

What does Tennessee have to offer retirees?

Retirees of today are living longer and enjoying life at a much higher level than this demographic ever has before. They know what they want out of life, and they’ve saved diligently to reach their goals!

So, what do retirees look for across America, and what does Tennessee have to offer them? Read on to find out more! Be sure to click the highlighted links to more articles on the subject.

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A common sight in East Tennessee: white-tailed deer.

This article outlines the results of a survey comparing what retirees in America thought they would pursue after they punched their last time card with what they actually do now. Surprisingly, many retirees who thought they would spend the majority of their time in leisure activities, like visiting museums, golfing or painting, got bored with those things quickly. Instead, they found more value in the time they spent volunteering and even working part-time! Feeling connected to their community added value to their lives.

In addition, many retirees wanted to keep their toes in and add value to the workforce by consulting, or even opening their own businesses. Those who are just starting out in the business world benefit tremendously from a mentorship with someone who’s been there, and done that. It’s a satisfying relationship for people at either end of the work life spectrum.

Traveling and continuing education round out retiree activities. People get a deep sense of satisfaction when they achieve the lifelong goals of getting the degree or certificate they’ve always wanted, and visiting places that have been on that “bucket list” for ages.

So, where does Tennessee fit in with the parts of a retiree lifestyle?

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Your money goes further in Tennessee.

With one of the most favorable lifestyle vs. expense rates in the nation, living here means you can have a comfortable home with money leftover to pursue all the activities you want! Property and tax expenses are dramatically lower than they are in other parts of the country, and the milder summers and winters mean heating and air bills aren’t through the roof.

Our local community colleges, like Walters State, offer free or dramatically reduced community classes to keep your mind fresh. Community centers like Rose Center in Morristown offer art, exercise and other classes, too. Click here for a list of colleges offering free or discounted tuition for senior citizens in Tennessee.

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Volunteer at your local animal shelter.

Local churches, humane societies and Friends of the Smokies offer more volunteer time than you can possibly fit in, with the opportunity to make like-minded friends and make a positive difference in your community!

Fitting in leisure is easy here, too, with hundreds of town, state and national parks within a short walk or drive from anywhere in East Tennessee. Each season brings regional free or low-admission festivals and events like choir concerts and plays.
Please visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com to find out more about living your retirement dream in East Tennessee!

How to Seal Your Real Estate Deal

You’re investing lots of time and mental energy into house hunting, and you don’t want all that to be for nothing.

Last week, we talked about some ways to know when to walk away from the real estate deal. This week, let’s flip the coin and look at some of the ways you can sweeten the deal to get your dream house. Read on to find out more!

You’ve done it; you’ve searched countless properties online and in person. You’ve weighed out the pros and cons, double checked your budget, gotten preapproved and now … you’ve finally found the perfect property! The problem is, if it’s a great house, in a great location, with a sweet price, then you might be up against some buyer competition.

Do a little research.

Find out why the seller is selling, if at all possible. Often, this is as simple as asking your realtor to relay your questions to the seller’s realtor. If they are highly motivated to sell because of a death in the family, a job transfer or divorce (for example), then you know you have some negotiating room. If they are certain they’ll get asking price and have all the time in the world to get their house sold, then you’ll have to shift your strategy. Also, find out what the seller’s least and most favorite aspects of the house are. Their answers might direct you to see how perfect the property is for your family, or they might give you reason to move on, plus add to your checklist of things to look out for during your house hunt.

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Compare this home (and the asking price) with other homes in the area.

Even if this is an amazing house, if it’s located in the heart of the city vs. in the middle of the country makes all the difference in price. Be very aware of the market values in all the places you’re searching; house prices can change from town to town. Again, this is something your realtor is well-equipped to help you figure out.

Offer asking price.

If the house clearly has some wiggle-room built into the asking price, then maybe offer a few thousand less. But, if it’s a great price and you’re certain you want the property, go ahead and offer asking price–or even a few thousand above. Your offer is possibly being weighed against other offers, so the more money the better, from a seller’s perspective. Your realtor will be able to help you determine how stiff your competition is, so you can come up with a strategy.

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Get pre-approved!

Your realtor has probably already advised you to do this. It protects you. You’re investing lots of time and mental energy into house hunting, and you don’t want all that to be for nothing because you find out you can’t secure a loan. But, the preapproval letter also communicates your level of seriousness to the seller. It says you’ve already taken steps toward buying a home. It also says the deal is less likely to fall through in beginning stages; you’re a buyer backed by money, so the seller is more likely to get paid quickly for their home and not have to wait around for the bank to approve the mortgage.
Good luck! And visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com for your East Tennessee realty needs.