Archive for March, 2012

Tax Break for Owners Occupying A Rental Has Changed – Reprint from Inman News

The following was in today’s Inman News – written by Stephen Fishman – This is important information for those buying rental properties.

The question received was
Q. I bought a rental home three years go and have been renting it out ever since. If I move into the home now and live in it for two years and then sell it, will I qualify for the full $250,000 home-sale exclusion?

A. No. The maximum Section 121 exclusion you’ll qualify for is $100,000 (40 percent of the full $250,000 exclusion for single taxpayers).

One of the greatest boons in the tax code for the average person is the Section 121 home-sale exclusion. Homeowners who qualify for it don’t have to pay any income tax on up to $250,000 of the gain from the sale if they’re single, or up to $500,000 if they’re married filing jointly.

Qualifying for the Section 121 exclusion is simple: You just have use the home as your principal residence for at least two years of the prior five years before it’s sold.

As Section 121 was originally enacted in the 1990s, this meant that you could buy a house, rent it out for three years, live in it for two years, and then sell it and qualify for the entire Section 121 exclusion. Thus, you could avoid having to pay tax on up to $500,000 of otherwise taxable gain. And you could do this over and over again. However, those days are gone.

Section 121 was amended in 2008. For sales and exchanges after Dec. 31, 2008, gain from the sale or exchange of a principal residence allocated to periods of nonqualified use is not excluded from gross income. Nonqualified use means any period in 2009 or later where neither you nor your spouse (or your former spouse) used the property as a main home.

Example: You purchased a home on Jan. 1, 2009, and rented it out until Jan. 1, 2012, when you moved in and made it your main residence. You sell the home on Jan. 1, 2014 for a $100,000 gain. During the five years you owned the home there were three years of nonqualified use. Because three of five is 60 percent, only 40 percent of the $100,000 gain — $80,000 — can be excluded under Section 121.

However, nonqualified use does not include any portion of the five-year period in the two-out-of-five-year Section 121 exclusion that falls after the home is used as the principal residence of the taxpayer or spouse. In other words, if you live in the home and then rent it out, the periods of rental use after you lived in the home aren’t a nonqualified use and your Section 121 exclusion won’t be affected.

Stephen Fishman is a tax expert, attorney and author who has published 18 books, including “Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Contractors, Freelancers and Consultants,” “Deduct It,” “Working as an Independent Contractor,” and “Working with Independent Contractors.”

Billerica Health & Wellness Fair – March 31st

Sometimes it is important to tell people what is happening in towns that they are considering purchasing their next home.

This Saturday, March 31st, the third annual Billerica Health & Wellness Fair is being hosted by the Billerica Lions, the Billerica Lodge of Elks, the Billerica Community Alliance, & the Town of Billerica (Council on Aging, Recreation, Board of Health, & the Billerica School Lunch Program)

Thanks to the support from our many sponsors including:
Premier Sponsors ($1000 +up)
Billerica Community Alliance, Billerica Lions Club, Billerica Lodge of Elks, Billerica Masons (Thomas Talbot Lodge), Billerica Minuteman/Gateway Media,
Billerica.org, EMD Millipore/Millipore Foundation, Lifecare Center of Merrimack Valley, Republic Services/Allied Waste, Town of Billerica (COA, Board of Health, Recreation, School Lunch Program)

Platinum Sponsors ($500 +up)
Billerica Crossings Assisted Living, Burlington Medical Associates, Comcast/Infinity

Gold Sponsors ($250 +up)
Billerica Access Television, Brightview Concord River Assisted Living,
Enterprise Bank & Trust (Pinehurst & No Billerica), Neighborhood Health Plan, Nova Biomedical, Stoneham Bank, Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Lowell

Community Supporters ($100 +up)
JP O’Connor True Value Hardware

All attendees ages 18 and over may enter a FREE drawing to win:
FIRST Prize – Xbox Kinect with WiFi
SECOND Prize – $100 Gift Card to LL Bean
Additional Drawing – Ipod Shuffle by Apple
courtesy RCS Computer Solutions

The Billerica Lions will be hosting a Walk for Sight during the Health & Wellness Fair to support Lions Eye Research which uses 100% of all donated funds for research only with a goal of eradicating blindness. Register at the Lions table for the walk that is being held in the Pavilion area behind the Elks Hall ($5 minimum donation per walker suggested). Walk times are 10:30am, 11:30am, and 12:30pm.

There are over 70 vendors in over 30 categories including massage therapy, backyard chickens (Billerica’s new law to allow people to have chickens), Masons CHIPS program, pilates, travel, senior services, art therapy, hypnosis, water, dance, kung fu, bellydancing, Mary Kay, blood pressure & glucose screening, the School Lunch FAT Vest & more.

Don’t miss the 4 stage demonstratons
10:15am Chair Aerobics (Billerica COA)
11:15am Zumba (Kerri Stang’s Gotta Dance)
12:15pm Kung Fu (Michael Macaris Kung Fu
Academy)
1:15pm Let’s Move (Upper Merrimack Valley
Medical Corps)

And of course, no fair would be complete without facepainting for the kids, free raffles at a number of the tables, giveaways by several vendors including the Billerica Board of Health, Billerica Water Department and others.

The event completely takes over the Elks Hall located on Webb Brook Road from 10am to 2pm filling the main hall, the smaller hall, and hallways throughout the building. Don’t miss anything. There is even a food concession being run by Sunshine Gals (a local nonprofit recently formed to provide a hot meal to those in need on a monthly basis).

Visit their facebook page and join to learn more – Billerica Health & Wellness Fair

Joan Parcewski
Chairman of the Fair
1st VP Billerica Lions Club

Before the Stager comes the Organizer

There are a lot of steps to get your house ready for the market to get the best price. One of those steps may include an organizer. Welcome to our newest guest blogger, Karen Kenney from Organizing Works. And where did I meet Karen – at a Health Fair where helping people to destress includes getting organized!

Attention: All Real Estate Agents and Homeowners

Realtor
Does your home stager scare or upset your clients? Are things prematurely tossed out, or boxed up for a better open house?

After the open house does the homeowner want to start using the some of the things that were packed away, making for another round of staging?

Homeowner
Do you feel pressure to clean up your home before the stager comes and starts boxing up and throwing your things out? Some of your things may be moved to different parts of your home, misplaced or broken. Trying to work with your agent to de-clutter and simplify is very overwhelming, you may have gotten rid of something you could use right now but can’t locate it.

PSST Want to know a Secret?

Hire a professional organizer, before the home stager, starts working on your home. Meet with your Real Estate Agent and your organizer to get the list of what needs to be done within the home to make it SELL.

A professional organizer can box up the things that are not needed right now, and inventory the contents so that you can find everything after the open house. Once everything is packed up and put someplace safe, the home stager can really make your home shine!

Karen Kenney of OrganizingWORKS is an experienced professional organizer, who can help get your home ready to sell. Karen can help the whole team, the homeowner, the real estate agent and the home stagers. It will be WIN-WIN for everyone, and isn’t that what selling your home is all about?

For free consultation call Karen at 781-275-8915.

For information and testimonials check out Karen’s websites – http://www.OrganizingWORKS.net & http://www.TheOrganizingCheerleader.com

It’s All About First Impressions –

A special welcome to our newest guest blogger, Janet Poulain from Perfectly Placed for You, a local staging company. On a personal note they have recently staged a new construction in Bedford for our company. What a different impression when you walk in the door.

Staging Vacant Properties Makes Perfect Sense

Imagine yourself out shopping at the mall or downtown. If the retail stores left their window displays empty would it draw you in? Do you think you would even want to shop there?

I know what you are thinking. Most people do their shopping on line. And you are actually right. Many people start their house search on line. Which is why we believe it is imperative to have your property looking its best for its debut. You’ve heard it before, but it is worth repeating. A picture is worth a thousand words.

It is our goal to have buyers feel welcomed as soon as they open the door. Being greeted by a piece of art, greenery or a floral arrangement is one option, and so much better than walking into a blank space. First impressions count.

Take a look at the before and after photos to see if you agree.
http://perfectlyplacedforyou.com/Perfectly_Placed_For_You/Perfectly_Placed_For_You_Redesign_%26_Staging_-_Gallery_-_Living_Room_2.html (if unable to view, please cut and paste – it is worth taking a look at the difference – you will be amazed)

When a property is empty, buyers tend to focus on negative details. In addition, vacant homes can often seem confusing to buyers. Staging emphasizes the homes features and can offer solutions to challenging areas, as well as showcasing the homes layout and architectural features.” In short, a staged property will evoke warmth and comfort, giving the buyer that much needed emotional connection to make an offer.

Liz Larson & Jan Poulain
Perfectly Placed For You
Redesign & Staging Creating Inviting Spaces

http://www.PerfectlyPlacedForYou.com

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Perfectly-Placed-For-You-LLC/165273293548578

It’s Spring and Everything Comes Alive!

With the warm weather we had this past weekend, who wouldn’t be thinking spring and spring flowers and gardens and the like.  Thanks to the Billerica Garden Club and guest blogger Annette Presseau for the following:

Ahhhhhh…….March and Spring

 

I absolutely love this time of year and now that the snow is all gone the weather is just beautiful and the Crocuses, Daffodils and Tulips are just starting to bloom.  The Crocuses start then the Daffodils and then the Tulips it’s like a parade!  Also, the temperature is around 60 to 70 degrees which is great for working in the yard to clear up any leaves that may have accumulated and to begin cleaning your gardens and getting them ready to plant whatever you dreamed up last month.  The rule of thumb that I have always heard from in New England is that you do not plant anything in the ground until Memorial Day.  Now just so you know I planted before Memorial Day one year and low and behold we had a frost and I lost most of my flowers so now I wait until Memorial Day to plant flowers.  Don’t get me wrong you can put the pots outside but do not plant them in the ground and take them inside if you know that frost is going to happen.

 

Native Plants

 

Consider planting native plants in your area this year some native plants are really quite beautiful.  Check this website from the University of Texas Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for a Native Plants List and look for your state.  http://www.wildflower.org/   Check out this website called Growing The Home Garden it is very interesting and they give a lot of tips on gardening:  http://www.growingthehomegarden.com/

 

 

Rain Barrels for Garden Water

 

Did you know that rain barrels are not good to water your plants?  Check out this blog on the “Everyday Gardener” it is a very interesting read.  The advise that the Everyday Gardener gives is not to use rain barrels to water your plants!  http://everydaygardener.com/

 

 

What about your lawn?

 

Check out this cool blog on organic lawn care at http://awaytogarden.com/category/types-of-gardening/lawn-care and it is called A Way To Garden.com.  Now would be a good time to aerate your lawn which will take care of any thatch buildup problem.  This is the website to look at for the steps to aerate your lawn:  http://www.lawncare.net/aerating-the-lawn-in-preparation-for-spring/

 

 

How about water conservation?

 

Here in New England we have not had very much snow and very little rain so it might be a very dry summer so now is a great time to look at water conservation for your garden.  Check out the website on water conservation from the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority:  http://www.mwra.state.ma.us/comsupport/conservation/gardeningtips.htm

 

Below are some ideas for help with water conservation:

SLOW-DELIVERY WATERING AIDS
Hand-watering plants can mean a lot of repeat trips to the garden, but you can avoid all this fuss, with low-tech, slow-delivery tools like plastic bottles, unglazed flowerpots, or Aqua Spikes. Punch holes in the bottom of plastic milk, water, or soft drink bottles, place them on or in the soil, and fill them with water from your hose as needed. You can use unglazed clay pots in a similar way, but they are very porous so you’ll need to set them down in the soil or the water will just evaporate.

Aqua spikes are a clever invention that you can attach to inverted plastic soda bottles and turn them into handy watering devices. Fill a 2-liter bottle with water, screw on the aqua spike at the cap end, then turn the bottle upside down, and poke the spike into the soil. Each of these low-cost or recycled gadgets send water directly to your plants’ root zones and are especially effective because there’s little or no waste from evaporation or runoff.

SOAKER HOSES
Soaker hoses are another great inexpensive way to water your plants. When you keep the water pressure down on these porous hoses, they’ll water evenly with no runoff. A soaker hose delivers water directly to plants’ root zones, so a minimum is lost in the wind or water on wetting the foliage.

DRIP IRRIGATION SYSTEMS
Like soaker hoses, drip irrigations systems deliver water to the root zones of plants. Small-diameter tubing and emitters, which are fittings that drip water at an even rate, let you regulate where and how much water to use. You can purchase components at a modest price and assemble your own system.

TIMERS
Whether you use a drip system or soaker hoses to water your plants, a timer can help you to make the best use of your time and water. Timers attach inline with your hose at the spigot and automatically start your watering system during those optimal morning hours while you’re busy getting the kids ready for school or rushing off to work. Timers are available in electric, battery-powered, or manual wind-up models.

Y-CONNECTOR

Y-connectors make it easy to extend your watering capabilities, letting you reach all your garden beds at once from one spigot, whether you use hoses, drip systems, sprinklers, or a combination. This handy little gadget attaches at the spigot so you run two hoses from the same spot.

If you would like more water saving tips check out this website:  http://www.care2.com/greenliving/water-saving-tips-and-garden-gadgets.html

 

 

Cutting back grasses in the garden.

 

Ornamental grasses are quite beautiful and lend quite a hand at making a garden a showplace and are quite beautiful to look at.  Even in the winter they add dimension to a landscape.  It is best to cut them back before they start to grow in the Spring.  Check out this website on when the best time to cut grasses are:  http://www.kennedyscountrygardens.com/index.php/garden-info/blog/

 

 

 

Other plants to consider:

 

What about planting cranberries?  How about Limes or Fig Trees or Ginger?  Check out this amazing website it is really interesting:  http://www.agrowingtradition.com/  Check out Betsy Williams Blog on Herbs and Flowers:  http://www.betsywilliams.com/blog you will not be disappointed.  Consider growing Garlic this year it is not only a beautiful flower it also repels pests!   Check out this blog:  http://www.gardeningblog.net/how-to-grow/garlic/

 

 

Victory Garden:

 

Check out the Victory Garden website:  http://www.agrowingtradition.com/

 

I’ve got a feeling that this one is going to be one of my favorite websites to look at!  This is the place to watch gardening tips from the Victory Garden online.  This is really cool!

 

Check out this New England ‘Habitat Gardening’ Blog at http://blog.thbfarm.com/page/2.aspx very interesting blog.  You will find a lot of ideas for New England gardening there.

 

 

Backyard Garden Forums:

 

Any gardening questions?  Check out the Garden Forum at http://www.gardeningblog.net/forums/forum.php

 

 

I’ll leave you with a garden poem by Robert Cording at http://cordinglandscape.com/a-garden-poem/

And I’ll recite the last verse “To make a garden is to honor life and its blessings, to make a garden is to come home”.

 

Happy Gardening!

 

 

 

 

 

Food for thought……


Welcome to our guest blogger, Annette Presseau from Reliv. She reminds us that we need to remember to stay healthy while we undertake all our daily tastks. That could include househunting

Food for thought….

 

Have you ever had Chicken Nuggets from a fast food place?  I have and really like them until I was watching a food show the other night called America’s Test Kitchen and they were talking about fast food Chicken Nuggets and what the ingredients are in them and I was totally shocked!  Keep in mind that the ingredients are approved by the FDA – go figure!  Check the video out on their website you will be shocked!  http://www.cookscountry.com/videos/Chicken-Nuggets/31821/?incode=M00KSCR00

 

Do any of us know what is in the food at the fast food places?  What are we eating?

 

Crock Pot Anyone?

 

In society today we all have 10 things we are trying to do at once and looking for quick ways to prepare healthy meals.  Recently, I received a Crock Pot for Christmas and have been testing it out with a few recipes and it works wonderful!  It cooks the meat very tender and tastes great.  I’ve cooked chicken breasts and stew and every time it comes out very tasty.   Looking for a few good recipes for the Crock Pot then check out this website:   http://www.crock-pot.com/Recipes.aspx  Did you know that you can cook bread in your Crock Pot?  I didn’t know so all I can say is “wow”.   Another thing for me to try out in the Crock Pot!

 

Cholesterol

Do you know of someone who has Cholesterol?  Check out this blog on the truth behind 7 Cholesterol myths at http://blog.reliv.com/nutrition/healthy-living-tips/7-cholesterol-myths/#more-67923  Here is another interesting article on cholesterol and what causes it: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9152.php.

 

Brain Awareness Week

 

It’s Brain Awareness Week.  Check out these lesser know brain boosters at

http://blog.reliv.com/nutrition/science-health/brain-power/  Puzzles are a great booster to brain health and any games help too.  This article on webmd talks about 7 brain boosters to prevent memory loss like exercise, fruits and vegetables, mental workouts like games, healthy sleep, red wine (I need to drink more red wine!), no more multitasking (all I can say to this is that I do it all the time), learning new things and the main thing is to try to laugh a little!

 

Nutrients

What about Soy health for women – thinking about getting enough nutrients for your body then check out on Pinterest http://pinterest.com/reliv/soy-healthy-for-women/ or nutrients in general?

Where do you get the nutrients in food?  Check out this UMass website it is really cool:

http://www.umass.edu/nibble/infolist.html

 

Cooking lighter meals

Have you ever looked at cooking meals differently maybe healthier but would like great taste then check out this website:  http://www.cookinglight.com/  Something as simple as adding mustard can give meat a great flavor.  Even just using less butter or not eating french fries.  Cutting back on the wrong foods just a little every day will help you to eat better.

 

National Nutrition Month

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month?  Check out this quiz on Nutrition http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/nutrition-quiz-practicing-healthy-eating-habits  What are your eating habits?  Is it time for a change?  I definitely need to change my eating habits.  Have you ever done a food diary?  It is a good thing to record what you are eating daily and most people are very surprised to see what’s on their list.  Are their 16 ways to eat healthy but keep it cheep?  Yes, there are check this website out:  http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/07/30/16-ways-to-eat-healthy-while-keeping-it-cheap/

Also, forget tonic that is one of the worst things you could drink in my opinion and yes it is ok to have it once and awhile but not every day try flavored water it actually tastes a lot better and is better for you.  Rule of thumb is that too much of one thing is never good for you!

 

Did you also know that March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month? Take one day and make it a “Dress in Blue Day” – wear any shade to show your support and get people talking about this disease. Colon cancer is often beatable when caught early! Learn more at: http://www.ccalliance.org/dressinblueday/index.html

 

Nutrition Tune-up

Ever think of giving yourself a nutrition tune-up?  What exactly is a nutrition tune-up anyway?  To find out check out this website http://blog.reliv.com/nutrition/healthy-living-tips/get-a-nutrition-tune-up/  Good nutrition is vital to your health just like a car lasts a long time with a regular tune-up your body needs adjusting sometimes.  Consider giving yourself a regular tune-up.

 

Food in our schools!

Check this out it is very scary to see this in schools!!!

Pink Slime: It’s What’s for Lunch in America’s Schools  http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/03/05/pink-slime-still-menu  This blog is very scary do we know what our kids are eating when they are at school?

 

Healthy Snacks

How about 10 healthy snacks for travel?  Check out this blog:  http://www.thehealthysnacksblog.com/  The right snacks can make or break your day no doubt about it and it’s always when you’re running and need something quick to eat to hold you over until you can eat that you eat anything in sight – am I right?  I have done this more than once and usually I feel that the food didn’t satisfy me at all and if anything made me feel worse than if I had eaten something healthier.  One thing to note I always thought that nuts were fattening until my doctor wanted me to eat almonds and she told me that they were healthy for you in that they are good fat so now I nibble on almonds when I a hungry and I really like the taste of them.

 

Tips to winterize your skin

Lately, my skin has been very dry because the cold, dry months of winter can damage to your skin. And much like winterizing your house and car, you should take the same diligence with your skin below are a few ideas to help with dry skin.

1. Moisturize. Winter air tends to be less humid due to the cold temperatures. This can dry out your skin, especially on your face, hands and feet. Using a moisturizer packed with vitamins and emollients can help save your skin.

2. Humidify. When the cold hits, we all do the same thing — crank up the heater. Adding a humidifier to your home can put some moisture back in to the air and go a long way to helping your skin feel softer.

3. Protect. Just because we have stowed away the swim trunks and bikinis, doesn’t mean we should forego the sunscreen. The sun can do damage no matter what the season or temperature. Using a daily moisturizer with an SPF of 15 or more will prevent premature aging caused by UV rays.

4. Hydrate. Hydrated skin is healthy skin. Your organs work best when they are properly hydrated, and your skin is your body’s largest organ. Well-hydrated skin appears plump and dewy, with the appearance of fewer wrinkles.

Famous Quotes for today
On a different note read these famous quotes about saving money:  http://www.getitfree.us/blog-A-Penny-For-Their-Thoughts–122#  One of the sayings is “the mint makes it first it’s up to you to make it last.”
Laugh, laugh, laugh
Last but not least don’t forget to laugh.  Laughter is the best medicine for your health!  Take the time to laugh, watch a funny movie, and laugh at yourself.  Have you ever noticed that you can’t be upset if you are laughing?  I’m going to leave you with one to laugh at:  I wish I had a blueprint for his brain; I’m trying to build an idiot.  Here you go with a laugh of the day website:  http://www.laugh-of-the-day.com/ which is where I found the one I just typed!

Laughter is really the best medicine!

The Mold Story Continues –

Welcome back to our guest blogger,

Kevin Coates from Servpro.  Great opportunity for real estate agents to have their listings checked in advance in they suspect mold.  It helps the seller to ensure no surprises at inspection. 

Here we go again the mold topic is coming up. We have experienced in the last couple of months numerous home sales that are falling through due to mold found during home inspections. We believe the reason more homes are falling through is due to the abudunce of homes that are on the market. This is a realtor and sellers worse nightmare. We do not understand why Agents are not taking part of our pre inspection of homes before they are listed its free. There is an article I have just recently read written by Jill Freudenwald from a realtors perspective.

 Follow this link to read: http://www.realtor.org/government_affairs/gapublic/moldpapers

Kevin Coates

Servpro Billerica/Tewksbury

Cell 781-844-8068

Email kcoates@servpro9893.com

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