With Tax Season coming to a close and all that paper everywhere do you feel like just throwing it all up, away or into the fire? Boy I know I do but, we have to keep some important docs and I hope this list is a good reminder.
Tax returns- 7 Years– Keep tax returns and all supporting tax docs, including W-2’s, 1099 forms, property tax info, bank statements, mortgage interest statements, cancelled checks, receipts, home purchase and home improvement info.
Paycheck stubs– 1 Year
We’ve all had that moment — driving down a street and we see a home we like specifically for the architecture and design elements. The United States is full of different home styles and architecture, and pinpointing a specific one can be difficult, especially when dominant home styles change from region to region. The homes below are examples of the most prevalent home styles found throughout the United States.
Which is your favorite and why?
Victorian homes give off a certain air and possess a very stately feel. Victorians are more about beauty than functionality, with complex designs, ornate trim, and large wraparound porches. The Victorian exterior is seen as a medium for decoration. These homes generally have gables, bay windows, towers, overhangs and many are known as ‘Painted Ladies.’ The Victorian style also has sub styles, the most notable being Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne and the Romanesque style.
The Craftsman or Bungalow style is seen as an expression of structure and elements that rely heavily on simple, elegant design. The Craftsman is one of the most common and popular styles in the United States, with an incredible resurgence in the last five years. These homes are characterized by their wide front porches, low-pitched roofs and exteriors that use wood, stone and/or brick. The interior of the Craftsman also has an open floor plan with many built-ins throughout the house.
Tudors are very distinct and based on English building traditions during the Tudor Era (1485 – 1603). Tudors are characterized by their asymmetrical exteriors with windows playing a large part in the design. These homes generally have stone and stucco walls with wood accents/framing, and Tudor roofs are steep-pitched. Tudor homes are one of the most recognizable styles in the United States due to their specific architectural components.
Cape Cods were first built in the 1600s and took inspiration from Britain’s thatched cottages. Cape Cods have steep roofs, dormer windows and large chimneys — elements that helped the homes withstand harsh Northeastern winters. The Cape Cod style is most recognized for its dormer windows, which play a large part in the design of the home.
Ranches are also known as ‘Ramblers.’ Ranches are characterized by their single-story construction and low pitched roofs. Ranches became very popular in the post World War II era, with a large resurgence in the 1960s as ‘mid-century moderns.’
Colonials are another home style that have a distinct appearance. Symmetry plays a large part in Colonials — evenly spaced shuttered windows, dormers, columns, and old Colonials will have many fireplaces. The most common Colonial in the United States is the Georgian Colonial, characterized by its strict symmetry, box shape, paneled front door below a decorative crown, simple or flattened columns, and the most notable feature of five shuttered windows across. Other notable Colonial styles in the United States are Dutch, Federal, and Spanish.
Contemporary homes have an almost futuristic look to them, but many contemporary homes look to connect the indoors with the outdoors. Natural light plays a large part in the contemporary home, as do flat roofs and simple horizontal and perpendicular lines. Contemporary homes embrace industrialism and put an emphasis on the use of efficient and affordable materials, and the homes emphasize an importance of combining materials (steel, glass, wood, stone, etc.) to create a fluid space.
Spanish style homes incorporate a fusion of design elements from European and Native American architecture. The Mission Revival style is the most popular, which has its roots in Spanish churches built by missionaries. Spanish style homes tend to have clay roof tiles, arcaded porches, arched corridors, bell towers, square pillars and quatrefoil windows (these windows resemble flowers).
The Mediterranean style became very popular in the United States in 1918 to 1940. This style is modeled after the hacienda style, where red tile roofs, arches, and plaster surfaces play a large part in the exterior of the house. Mediterranean style homes have become popular again, but the style has adopted more design elements like porticoes, balconies, and ornamental details that include heavy wood doors, tiles in multiple colors or designs, and balconies with ornate iron railings and embellishments.
The Pueblo Revival is a style favored in the Southwest, highly influenced by the ancient Pueblo’s simple multifamily homes. This home style favors materials sourced from the earth — adobe, concrete, stucco or mortar, and wood beams — and the homes tend to feature enclosed courtyards and flat or sloping roofs. The Pueblo style is also characterized by rounded exteriors that exhibit square windows, weathered wood doors and exterior stone accents.
Homes can take any shape or size, and many homes built today embrace two or more styles. The United States has many other home styles not featured. If you’re looking for a home in a particular style, your agent will be able to help find that perfect property.
TAX TIP: The 121 Exemption When Selling Your Home
The reason to do a 1031 exchange is to avoid capital gains taxes on investment property. Almost once a week I get asked about the sale of a primary residence. When you sell your home, you have an exemption from most capital gains taxes. A great resource to get more details about that is an IRS Publication, updated annually, called Selling Your Home (Pub 245). You could go to IRS.gov to download that.
In short, there is a 121 Exemption for capital gains taxes up to $250K per individual or $500K per married couple filing jointly. You do have to have lived in the property as your primary residence for 2 out of the last 5 years, and you can only take this exemption, once every 2 years.
This has been used in a long term strategy to avoid paying capital gains on rentals by converting the property from investment to primary residence. The IRS got wise to this strategy and put some constraints on this.
It could still be part of a plan, but reach out to your tax advisor with questions and see if this is an option for you
Most all roofs can, and will develop leaks in them; and a simple home inspection won’t guarantee to find them all. Leaks normally start as very small crevices or cracks, without the homeowner’s knowledge. In the early stages of a leak only small amounts seep through the crack, this is not a sufficient amount to alert the homeowner as it doesn’t travel through all the layers of the ceiling.
It is recommended that you have your attic, and roof thoroughly checked twice a year for such leaks. The most common source of leaks is flashing as they are often overlooked when repairing/replacing the roof, so be sure to inspect your flashing from time to time.
When it comes to home maintenance, your garage door might not be at the top of your list or even on it at all! However regular maintenance could save you headaches down the line, and the following tips may help keep your garage door working properly for decades to come. Applying a solvent like WD_40 to the roller tracks, and latches should prevent them from sticking over time due to rust and corrosion. While you’re there examine each component and replace any bent or broken parts as needed. Also be sure to apply some lubricant to the garage door opener if it is operated by a chain or drive screw. Wooden garage doors should be sealed and painted on a regular basis, and DIY network suggest caulking all cracks. Also, check the weather sealant at the bottom of the door and if it is damaged, replace it before the rainy season.
About.com recommends adding garage door maintenance to your yearly maintenance schedule. Spring or autumn are perfect times to make a date with your garage door, in between the harsher weather periods.
Finally this is one I see homeowners forget a lot. Your HVAC system worked very hard last winter. Have it inspected and cleaned by a professional HVAC contractor and keep those filters changed for the spring and summer months as well.
Get it done and enjoy the spring!
“The few who do are the envy of the many who only watch.” -Jim Rohn
Smoke alarms are an important defense against injury or death in house fires. The National Fire Protection Association states that nearly two-thirds of home fire fatalities happen in homes with non-working or missing smoke detectors. Most building codes now require smoke detectors in all residential structures, which has resulted in a steep drop in fire- and smoke-related deaths. Homeowners should check with their local public safety office or fire department for specific information on these requirements.