Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

The Real Estate Gift

by The Jana Caudill Team

I am not an authority on tax law, so I’m not qualified to give tax advice.  If, however, this scenario sounds familiar and you find yourself on either the giving or the receiving end of a gift of Northwest Indiana Real Estate I’d like to advise you to consult with a tax professional to learn of the possible tax obligations you may be facing.  Now, on to some of the basics:

If you are giving a gift of Real Estate, as with any gift in the eyes of the IRS, there are potential tax implications.  This article references a law from 2009 that states gifts totaling under $13,000 in value given over the course of a calendar year do not require the giver to file a gift tax return.  If the total is over $13,000 you will need to file form 709.  The good news is even if you are required to file a form 709 it does not automatically mean you are going to owe any tax.  There is a lifetime $5,000,000 gift allowance tax exemption, according to a 2011 law.

Gifts are tax deductible ONLY if given to an eligible charity.  Your Great-Uncle Julius is probably not an approved charity.  As well, loans are not considered gifts.

As the recipient you do not have to pay taxes on a gift received because the IRS does not look at the value of the gift as income.  One stipulation here is if you in turn receive income, such as rent from tenants on a building that was gifted to you.  You still don’t pay taxes on the value of the Real Estate, but you will have to claim the rent collected on your tax return.  And finally, at such point in the future you decide to sell the Real Estate you had been gifted in the past you may have a capital gains tax obligation.

Plenty of food for thought.  The best advice I can give you is to consult with a tax professional prior to gifting.  It may save you some money in the end.  Here’s the latest on the gift tax from the IRS.

The Family Home Budget

by The Jana Caudill Team

Are you saving for a down payment on a new Crown Point, Chesterton, or Valparaiso house?  A car, motorcycle, or Winnebago?  What about saving for college for your child?  Saving for college for your children?

Whether you want to move cross country, travel cross country, or ship your kid cross country to school you have to know how to save, and the first step in learning how to save is learning how you spend.  CNN Money has a great series on creating your own home budget, as well as other articles covering the subjects of making, saving, and investing your money.  Once you learn to track your spending and make some necessary spending cuts based on your saving goals, you will be well armed to start socking away for a rainy day…or a trip…or a home…or college…

Quick note: nowadays banks are requiring larger down payments when qualifying people for mortgages.  With today’s real estate market you can get more home for your money, you will just be required to have more of your own money to get the loan for your dream home.

Home Cooling Tips

by The Jana Caudill Team

Of course you can crank up your AC to get that arctic blast that will blast a hole in your pocket book just to keep your home cool and comfortable during the heat of summer.  Most of us however are not looking for more ways to spend money.  Here’s a short list and a few resources to help you keep cool, save energy AND take it easy on your wallet.

  1. Programmable Thermostat.  Makes sense, right?  Especially if no one’s home during the day.  With one of these you don’t have to remember every morning before you leave for work to turn the temperature up in an attempt to save a little on your cooling bill, and you won’t return to your Crown Point, Hobart, or St. John home after a long day at the office to find the house uncomfortably hot.  Saves money too!
  2. Check your ductwork!  As much as 20% of the air that moves through your home’s duct system can be lost due to leaks, holes, and loose connections.  Here are some benefits of sealing duct work, how to tell if yours needs attention, and why you use metal tape and not duct tape on your system.
  3. Insulation.  Okay, this one is a little more costly up front.  Just keep in mind that it’s a one-time expense that will reap years of cost savings during both the cold of winter and the heat of summer.  Insulation isn’t just a warm blanket in January anymore!  More on this one in a future blog.

Here’s another great list of things you can do inside and outside your home to help ease the summer energy crunch in comfort.

Oklahoma Tornado

by The Jana Caudill Team

Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by the tornado that caused such great destruction in Oklahoma this past Monday.  We’re writing to ask our Northwest Indiana friends and neighbors to please consider giving to the local relief effort by visiting the Central and Western Oklahoma regional Red Cross page.  Just click on the link above, then click on the “Donate Funds” or “Ways to Help” buttons at the top.  Thank you for lending a helping hand.

Time for a New Roof?

by The Jana Caudill Team

How do you know when it’s time to replace your Northwest Indiana roof?   There are three main reasons for replacing roof shingles: the age of the roof, weather damage, and previously improperly installed roofing.

Start by taking the life expectancy of the type of shingle you currently have then subtracting for age, weathering and weather related damage to see how many more years you may be able to get out of your roof before needing to replace it.

Roof shingles generally are supposed to last at least twenty years.  Some shingle manufacturers have products that last twenty-five or more years.  Take your standard twenty year product and subtract the age of your current roof.  If you’re in a newer home, or you are the original owners of your home this is an easy number to get.  If there have been previous owners, or you are otherwise unable to determine the age of the roof you will have to estimate.

Next, is there any physical evidence of damage?  Do your shingles show curling, severe hail damage, cracked flashing or sealer around vents and fireplace flues?  How about brittle shingles due to a southerly exposure?  What about damaged or rotting eves?  The condition of your current roof has a drastic impact on its remaining life expectancy.

Lastly, let’s not forget the obvious.  If your roof is leaking you can skip the process above.  A leak trumps everything else.  You’re going to need some repairs at a minimum, potentially much more.  Keep in mind even newer roofs if improperly installed can also leak or lose shingles in gusting wind.  Have leaks checked out immediately.

Estimate how much time you have left with your current roof and if you are concerned you’re near the end of its life expectancy speak only with qualified, experienced, licensed contractors when considering having work done.  You may even weigh the pros and cons of doing the job yourself.  Whatever your decision, don’t wait until you have that first leak.  At that point your repair bill is likely to go through the roof.

Guidelines for the Flower Garden

by The Jana Caudill Team

Whether you’ve planned for an entire garden of flowers or just a few bulbs along the side your Crown Point, Chesterton, or Valparaiso home or along the fence line, here are some tips to keep in mind if you want to get the most satisfaction out of your money and time…

First, a couple paraphrased definitions (Webster would be proud) only because this is one of those easy ones we all mix up from time to time.  An annual lasts for one season before it dies, needing to be replanted every season.  A perennial comes back year after year without needing to be replanted.  I bring this to your attention because you don’t want to plant an entire garden of annuals only to discover next spring that the beautiful result of all your efforts only lasted one season.  At the same time, if you go gang busters with perennials only to grow tired of the layout of your garden in a year of two you are faced with the task of digging up your previous work and transplanting for your new layout.

Speak to garden professionals.  Know which flowers are annuals and which are perennials, and mix them up in your garden plan for an explosion of color.  Layer plants from those low-creeper, ground cover types all the way up to those trellis-tall so everything is on clear display and nothing is hidden behind a taller, fuller plant.  And be sure your plan for perennials is something you can live with before you start digging.

Most flowers are planted either in the spring or the fall.  Use this handy planting time tip sheet and this zone guide to help you plan for planting in both seasons!

4 Top Baby-Proofing Tips

by The Jana Caudill Team
  1. The Baby Gate.  Whether your baby first crawls, rolls or scoots around your Crown Point, Munster, or Dyer home she will undoubtedly learn to fall before she learns to walk.  Be sure to gate off open stairways, both those leading up as well as down.  A child can just as easily make it up a few steps headed toward a second floor bedroom prior to a tumble as teeter on the edge of stairs headed down to the basement.
  2. Electric Outlet Safety Covers.  Not much to say here.  If there’s a way for a curious infant to squeeze a tiny little finger into an outlet that’s on the wall only a foot above the floor…Best not to gamble.
  3. Cabinet and Drawer Locks.  Keep Billy away from chemicals, aerosols, ant traps – whatever you keep under the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and in the laundry room cabinets that you just can’t put up high and out of reach.
  4. Curtain, Drape, and Blind Safety Ties.  Babies grow into toddlers faster than you can sing “Happy Birthday,” walking and running before you know it.  Children love to learn about their environment, checking out plants, testing the family cat, finding weeks old Cheerios under the edge of the sofa.  And they love windows.  Tie loose cords up high enough to keep toddlers from getting all tangled up and in trouble.

Lawn Fertilizer

by The Jana Caudill Team

There are many reasons to fertilize your Northwest Indiana lawn.  It helps control weeds.  It returns nutrients to the grass to help promote root and leaf growth.  It can also help grass repair itself after suffering damage due to foot traffic or pests.

Experts say you should fertilize your lawn from 2 – 8 times per year.  I don’t own stock in the fertilizer companies, so I’m not here to tell you more is better.  In fact, if you lay down another application of fertilizer before the last one has fully run its course you risk burning your grass.  Likewise, if you apply fertilizer at the wrong time you may be promoting weed growth instead of healthy grass.  Whether you are looking for that full, lush lawn or simply want to do a quick weed and feed, I have found a couple great resources to help you get the results you are after.

Check the middle of this page for two handy charts showing you the best time of year to apply fertilizer.  One shows you cool season and warm season grasses and a schedule for getting either minimum results or best results out of your fertilizing plan.  Cool season grasses generally are found in the north and have growing seasons right after waking up from the winter, and in the early fall.  Warm season grasses are more common in the south and flourish in the warm summer months.

The other chart shows a fertilization time table based on the exact type of grass you have which is helpful if you know exactly what you’re working with.  Here’s a great page from Home Depot with great tips on application of fertilizer as well as buying advice.

Kitchen Sink Odors

by The Jana Caudill Team

It may sound simpler than it really is, getting rid of that odor emanating from the kitchen sink.  When trying to mask the smell with candles, air fresheners, or Lysol only makes things worse try a homemade solution that works.  Two quick safety tips before you begin:  Never mix products containing bleach and ammonia to clean your sink, or for any other purpose for that matter.  Together they give off toxic vapors that are very harmful to your health.  Also, use extra care when working around a garbage disposal.  We don’t need any trips to the emergency room.

  1. After thoroughly cleaning sink pour ½ cup bleach into drain and let sit for 15 minutes.  Rinse with cold water.
  2. For a sink with a garbage disposal, use small cleaning brush and dish soap to safely scrub food particles from top and bottom sides of rubber splash guard.  This is one of the main hiding places for decomposing food and bacteria to hide.  Scrub well.
  3. Turn on cold water to rinse.  While the water is running turn on garbage disposal, then drop a couple handfuls of ice, one cube at a time through the disposal.  This will clean the disposal’s blades and inner wall.  Grind up a whole lemon or orange peel for a nice fresh citrus smell.

Here are a few more helpful how-to tips for taking care of that odorous Crown Point, St. John, or Hobart kitchen sink.

Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9