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Mortgage Speak

We’ve just gotten started with 2018, but there’s been speculation about which way the housing market will go since well before the first of the year. As a savvy homeowner, it’s important for you to be aware of fluctuations in the market, especially if you’re thinking of buying a new home or making changes to your current home in the near future. Much of the predictions for this year are based on how the market fared last year, so we’ve gathered together a short year-end review of housing market high (and low) points from 2017, then turned to the experts for a glimpse at what the future may hold. A Look Back According to Realtor.com, 2017 was a fairly decent year for the housing market. Inventory continued to be in short supply, but not as badly as in previous years, causing brisk sales and shorter times on the market compared to 2016. The median existing-home price reached $248,000 in November — the strongest level in over a decade. Overall, though, sales and starts were flat compared to previous years. If you bought last year, you probably got a pretty good price and an excellent rate, and avoided the changes predicted for the coming years. Here are additional highlights from 2017’s housing market: Millennials.  Despite the notion that millenials prefer renting over buying a home, more and more millenials are transitioning to homeownership; in fact, millenials made up about 40% of mortgage originations in 2017. Renting.  Prices rose on rental units, possibly influenced by the multiple hurricanes that hit our shores in 2017. Across the country, rents averaged a 2.9% ...

General

If you purchased a home in 2017, you may be eligible for a Homestead Exemption. This valuable exemption reduces the taxable value of your home, provided the following: - The home is occupied by the homeowner on January 1, and - The homeowner applies for the homestead exemption in the county in which the property is located. The home must be your legal residence for all purposes including the registration of your vehicles and the filing of your Federal and Georgia income tax return. For most counties in Georgia, the deadline to file for a homestead exemption is April 1 . Failure to file on time for the Homestead Exemption will disqualify you for the exemption for this tax year. Application is not automatic, nor does a mortgage company or closing attorney complete the application for you when the home is purchased. Once granted, the exemption is automatically renewed each year you continually occupy the home under the same ownership. In many counties, the tax assessor’s office is the designated office to receive homestead exemption applications. Please note that in order to file, you may need to provide the following: warranty deed book and page, proof of residence, social security number, driver's license with correct home address and/or car tag information. We’ve put together a list of the top counties in which our customers purchased homes in 2017 and included links to each counties’ homestead exemption application page and the address to each Tax Commissioner or Tax Assessors office. Simply click your county below for more information or to complete your application, where applicable. Editor's Note: ...

News

Just days before Christmas, President Trump signed a comprehensive tax reform bill, or H.R. 1, into law. The Republican-led legislation, which generally went into effect on January 1, 2018, cuts more than $1.5 trillion in federal revenue over the next 10 years and is the largest overhaul to the U.S. tax code since 1986 . Highlights of the bill include an increase in standard deductions for individuals and couples, a drop of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, a reduction on individual tax rates and an expansion of the child tax credit. In addition to these changes, the new tax plan will also impact homeowners by removing some tax breaks associated with homeownership. Below is a summary of changes and what they may mean for you: Editor's Note: While this article is intended to be a general overview of the new tax plan and its impacts, it's important to remember that each individual's financial situation is different. Please consult with a tax advisor to determine how the new tax code will impact you specifically. Individual Tax Rates Previous Law: Seven income brackets of 10, 15, 25, 28, 33, 35 and 39.6% New Law: Seven income brackets of 10, 12, 22, 24, 32, 35 and 37%; these will revert to the above bracket rates in 2026 Corporate Tax Rates Previous Law: 35% New Law: 21% (beginning in 2018) Child Tax Credit Previous Law: $1,000 per child with a phaseout at $75,000 for single filers and $110,000 for married filers. New Law: $2,000 per child, refundable up to $1,400 for individuals with no income tax liability with a phaseout starting at $400,000; this will revert to the previous ...

General

Get Organized in the New Year

Dec 26
10:00
AM
Category | General
With the New Year just around the corner, it’s time to take stock. Another gym resolution? Forget it. This year, resolve to get organized. All the gifts you’ll acquire over the holidays will need a place to live, and you’ve probably got plenty of items you can get rid of. No matter how big (or small) your house is, one thing people always seem to want is more storage. So, give the following ideas a try to maximize your space and head into 2018 feeling a little bit lighter — and a lot more organized. Kitchen If opening your pantry feels like stepping into chaos, it’s time to pull everything out, sort, toss, and reorganize. If it’s expired, throw it out; if you haven’t used it in a year, donate it. Do the same for your junk drawer. Everything left can now be organized. In the pantry and cupboards, items you use all the time should be at eye level. Put less-used specialty items on top shelves and recycling bins on the floor. Use clear, labeled containers for sugar, flour, and cereal, and group like items in baskets, such as bags of beans and rice. Empty big boxes of individually packaged items, like snacks, into labeled tins. Closets Up, up, up: To keep your closet uncluttered, you need to keep things off the floor. Unless you’ve got labeled bins with lids, everything should be on a hanger or a shelf. For the ultimate in organization, switch out your clothing seasonally. When spring arrives, pack away sweaters, scarves, and gloves, and in fall, your swimsuits and shorts should be neatly folded into their labeled bins in the basement, garage, or attic. This way, you’ll have more room to see and ...

General

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — but for people trying to balance work, home, and a slew of holiday commitments, the holiday season may not be so jolly. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath, grab an eggnog, and follow these steps for de-stressing your holidays.  1. Make a list and check it twice. To-do lists are an amazingly simple and straightforward way to stay on task and make sure nothing gets missed. Review your list every morning and evening, and be sure to cross off the tasks you accomplish — you’ll see that things are getting done, even if you’re too busy to feel it. 2. Use your vacation time. This is what it’s for! Plan a lunch date with friends, set aside a day to get your last-minute shopping done, or reward yourself with a day for just relaxing. You'll enjoy the season more if you know you've got a full day coming to get personal holiday tasks completed. 3. Give yourself a break. It’s just not possible to accept every invite, handmake gifts for everyone on your list, and keep your home and work organized. Remember, everyone else is wrapped up in the holiday chaos too, and this is a time of forgiveness and understanding. The first person to offer understanding to is yourself!  

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