Although it’s often your most expensive investment, your home doesn’t always need a high-priced monitoring system to keep it safe. Often it’s the little things that prompt thieves to give your abode a pass as shown by these 14 low-budget ways to make your home more secure.
1. Get a law enforcement check. Many police departments offer free home inspections. An officer walks through your home and recommends ways for beefing up your security.
2. Trim the foliage around doors, windows, and other entrances of the home. Burglars won’t be able to use your trees and bushes for cover when casing or breaking into your home.
For many homeowners, especially first-time homeowners, it can be a struggle just to pay the monthly bills. You can use all the help you can get to lower costs associated with home ownership. One way to do that is to take advantage of every home tax deduction for which you’re eligible.
Here are 9 home tax deductions for which you might be eligible:
1. You can deduct home mortgage interest: This is a big one. Because mortgages are usually amortized, the bulk or early payments are in the form of interest, not principal—and all of those interest payments are tax deductible, up to a maximum of $1 million if you’re married and filing jointly, or $500,000 if filing separately. The only restriction is that the mortgage must be for a first or second home. For details about mortgage deductions, visit IRS Publication 936.
2. Home improvement loans: You can deduct interest on home improvement loans (like an addition or a kitchen replacement). The only condition is that the improvements must increase your home’s value. These are called “capital improvements” and include things like a new garage, a home addition, or new insulation. You cannot deduct interest on loans for ordinary repairs, such as fixing a broken window or painting.
At its regular meeting on Feb. 8 California’s State Water Resources Control Board (SWRBC) voted to maintain drought restrictions, despite unprecedented rainfall in recent days. The decision was met with immediate pushback from many state residents who couldn’t understand the need to conserve water at a time when some are just trying to stay dry amid torrential downpours, mudslides and flash floods.
Republican State Senator Ted Gaines summed up the feelings of many residents:
“This decision is blind to the plain fact seen on every mountain, river and reservoir in the north state. We are flush with water, and they know that, but this lays bare their ‘permanent drought’ plan that will let them limit and control water use forever to meet their environmentalist agenda.”
When you’re planning a housewarming party, there are many things to consider. Should you plan activities or make a wish list of gifts? Those are certainly important considerations, but here we want to focus on the simplest of housewarming parties: the kind where your friends come over and hang out in your sparkling new home. Perhaps it’s a floating party where people are invited to come as they please during any time you specify. Or maybe you’ve allotted just a couple hours where your doors will be opened.
Either way, any time you have people to your home, it is nice to offer food. That is why we have put together 10 food ideas for your housewarming party.
1. Make-Your-Own Sandwiches. Set out plates of your favorite deli meat alongside lettuce, tomato, onions, a gourmet mustard, slices of avocado, and rolls. Add an unexpected topping like pesto or fresh herbs. Serve with a simple coleslaw and a tray of store-bought chocolate chip cookies.
2. Dips and Chips. This idea hinges on the extremely simple. A tray of taco dip, a tray of spinach dip and several bags of chips. Easy and delicious
Buying a San Joaquin Valley home from one of our sales agents is relatively painless. Just specify a few options and sign some papers, and the home is yours, pending suitable financing. But to buy one of our homes, you’ll typically have to sell your older home, which is not so straightforward and requires the services of a real estate agent. The following tips can help you find the right one.
Interview multiple agents.
Don’t just pick the first agent who leaves a flier at your door. Interview several agents. Ask family and friends for recommendations. Do an online search for houses for sale that are similar to yours, and look at the agents attached to those homes.
Beyond the questions about experience and skill detailed below, you want to get a feel for the people. Are they friendly and professional? Do they communicate in a way that provides answers to your questions? Do they ask questions and listen, or do they just talk? The bottom line is do you feel comfortable entrusting your home to them.
If you were planning on buying a home with a loan from the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), you may have been excited to hear about a planned rate cut announced by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development during the closing days of the Obama Administration. That cut applied the premiums on mortgage insurance, which protects your lender if you are unable to make your mortgage payments.
The annual insurance rate was supposed to drop from 0.85 percent of the mortgage to 0.60 percent on January 27. The rate drop was due to the recovery of the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund of the FHA. This fund has increased by $44 billion since 2012. The new premium would have been very close to the 0.55 percent that the FHA used to charge before the 2008 housing crash.
One of the first orders executed by the new administration was to suspend the cut indefinitely for reasons that are still unclear. The cut would have meant a savings of only $500 on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage of $200,000.
The extra pocket money would’ve been a nice addition to any housing budget but probably would not have made that big a difference in loan qualification.
Fortunately, the action does not negate the overall value of obtaining an FHA loan.
An FHA loan has several advantages if you’re a new homeowner.
Moving to a new home is a stressful time that can become exciting for your family with a lot of conversation, questions, and answers. The four-legged members of your family, your pets, will feel the same stress but can’t relieve their anxieties by talking. Fortunately, you can ease their transition to the new space with the following strategies.
Begin with A Visit
If the new property is close enough to your old one, you’ve probably taken your family on multiple visits to check out the premises. If your pet can be secured, such as by putting your dog on a leash, be sure to take it along as well. First, get permission from the property managers on when that’s possible. Construction sites can be dangerous for pets. Then, show your pet around the new home so it becomes more familiar with the new surroundings. If you can, take your dog for a walk on the same route you intend to use when you move in.
Prepping with Boxes
Cats are generally not big fans of a move and may disappear outdoors come the big day. Weeks or months before the move, get your pet used to the idea by putting moving boxes and a cat carrier in the room you intend to pack last. Your feline friend loves to explore confined space and will be entertained by these new objects. Putting favorite toys and edible treats there will also help with familiarization. This technique also works with small dogs that you intend put into a carrier.
One of the great advantages of buying one of our homes for sale in the Central Valley are the tax deductions you suddenly gain, which puts extra cash in your pocket. But you need to document your spending if you want the IRS to show you the money.
January is an excellent time to start gathering all the paperwork, if you bought your house last year, or to start creating a filing system for it, if you’re planning on buying property this year. The following are just some of the tax breaks you’re entitled to with your purchase.
This is the biggie with deductions amounting to thousands of dollars annually because most of your monthly payment at first goes to mortgage interest and not the principle. Every penny of interest is deductible unless your loan totals more than $1 million, which then puts limits on what you can deduct. If you happen to own a second home, then interest payments on that property are deductible as well. You’ll typically receive a statement from your lender at the end of the year detailing your total interest payments.
Trying to understand how the real estate market works can be a daunting task. Things as unrelated as the California economy, interest rates, and the local job market make the housing market rise and fall. One way to get a handle on what happens to homes for sale in the Central Valley is to look at some of the numbers for 2016.
Mortgage interest rates showed a jump from 3.5 to 4.124 percent in the week ending December 9, according to the Visalia Times-Delta. This is the highest level that 30-year fixed-rate loans have been in over a year and could mean a $50 increase in monthly payments. While such a difference may not affect those with good jobs, it may prevent some buyers from qualifying for the strict debt-to-income rations that are now required by lenders. In addition, the Federal Reserve Bank is expected to raise the lending rate further this year. Your best defense against all these potential rate increases is to get pre-qualified for a specific loan as soon as possible, so you can lock in a lower rate.
The $275,665 floor
In the Southern San Joaquin Valley, the Federal Housing Administration will be increasing its floor on home loans from $271,050 to $275,665. This is mostly due to increases in area housing prices. This increase helps to balance out the increase in mortgage rates since it allows buyers to obtain loans on slightly more expensive homes. Contact your lender and see how this increase affects your pre-qualification or pre-approval price.
The holidays make you grateful for the family and friends who have supported you, especially when they get you presents that celebrate your new abode. You can use many of the gifts in the coming year. But you may have also gotten more than one coffee maker or toaster. And then there are the items that make you wonder what the giver was thinking, like the weird scarf or Elvis nick-knack. Fortunately, you can return stuff you don’t want if you follow these tips.
Find the gift receipt.
The more thoughtful of your friends will have included a gift receipt in what they’ve given you. This small piece of paper proves that the item came from a specific store but does not document the price. Many retailers require a receipt before they’ll process a return. More practical givers include this piece of paper in the envelope outside the gift. Others may have put the receipt inside the box itself.
If the receipt is missing, you can always ask the giver if they have one lying around or if they can scan a copy and email it to you. But exercise care in the request. Your closest bro probably won’t have a problem doing this but your fussy aunt may feel insulted that you’re returning her present.
Construction permits for 2016 in the county’s two largest cities will likely be up compared to 2015 totals.
With December totals yet to be added, the number of permits on most key categories issued in 2016 has matched or increased those from 2015.
In Visalia, the number of permits for multi-family residential projects, additions or alterations, commercial building and miscellaneous is up.
The lone key statistic down is for new single-family homes. However, when the December numbers are added, the single-family permits are expected to rise past 2015’s total.
“It was good, strong development,” said Adam Peck, chairman of the Visalia Planning Commission. “We have had good, steady development that’s sustainable for a city our size. It’s definitely steady.”
In Tulare, permits for single-family homes and multi-family projects are up as well as commercial additions, repairs, and alterations.
Permits for new commercial and demolitions are lower in 2016, but missing the December request.
As much fun as it would be to celebrate the New Year in your San Joaquin Valley home, you want to leave the prep work to somebody else this year, so you can enjoy the fun. You have a lot to choose from in the area when it comes to midnight fun. Here are some of the more interesting options for the evening of December 31st.
Revisit the Legend of Steppenwolf: Born To Be Wild New Year’s Eve
Celebrate the upcoming year with a trip into the past by rocking to the original member of Steppenwolf, Goldy McJohn with Glen Bui plus an all-star lineup. If you remember such hits as “Hey Lawdy Mama,” “Magic Carpet Ride,” and the signature hit, “Born to be Wild,” then head on down for a night of good music at the Fox Theater in Visalia. Come midnight, you can toast the New Year with free champagne. Want to say “hi” to the band members? Then go for the Special VIP Package, which includes a pre-show Meet ‘n Greet plus Reserved Premium Seating.
New Year’s Eve Extravaganza
If you think there’s nothing better than dancing the night away during New Year’s Eve, then you’ll get twice the thrills because this annual event features two live bands. The Ray Moore Band opens the festivities and paves the way for The New Monsanto Band with Rene Emilio and Elena Betancourt, a Tejano Music Award Nominee. In between sets, professional comedian and radio DJ Andre Covington will tickle your funny bone as MC. Aside from the music, your ticket gives you a buffet style menu, party favors, raffles, unlimited drinks, and free champagne. Get a group of 10 together and you can buy a VIP table. This is all taking place at the Fall Event Center in Fresno
Eggnog, Red Velvet Cheesecake, Nutella Cherry Hazelnut Fudge, Mexican Chocolate Cookies: the list of delicious delights that appear during the holidays is endless. So, there’s really no point in maintaining a weight-loss diet when you face a deluge of Christmas confections, right?
But there are a few out there who manage to maintain their figures throughout the entire season. Some would attribute this to luck or enormous willpower. But they also rely the following strategies to ensure that they don’t overindulge.
Keep it out of sight.
It’s easy enough to eat something sweet when you receive it as a gift or if it’s attractively displayed on a plate at the coffee table or in a bowl by the front door. Make it less convenient for you to grab a confection by keeping what’s delicious out of sight. If you receive sweets as a gift, don’t even unwrap them. Change the card, so you can re-gift them to someone else. If you don’t want to re-gift the sweets for fear of offending the giver, bring them to work and put them away from your desk, so others can enjoy them.
If you grew up with the smell of fresh pine wafting through your house on Christmas morning, then you’ll probably want a fresh tree to decorate for your San Joaquin Valley home. Check out these tips for finding the best holiday stock to grace your celebration.
Measure the space.
Arguably the most important part of selecting the right tree, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, is to make sure you have the right space for it. So carefully measure the area in which you want to set the pine, starting with the height. Try to leave a minimum of six inches between the ceiling and the top of the tree whether you leave the tip bare or add a topper. Don’t forget to account for the height of the tree stand as well.
Just as important is the width of the tree. Most offerings on tree farms are trimmed to an 80 percent taper, which makes a 10-foot tall tree about eight feet wide. A tree with the perfect height may turn out to be too wide
Studies on sleep all point to the same thing: the majority of people need from six to eight hours of sleep every night, and kids need even more. (See here for a WebMD list of how much sleep children need at various ages.)
THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP TO YOUR FAMILY’S HEALTH
Sleep does some pretty crucial stuff to your brain:
Local homebuilder San Joaquin Valley Homes (SJV Homes) has announced its model homes at Visalia’s Pine River Estates are set to open Dec. 17.
Pine River Estates is a 37-acre community offering 144 single-family homes located on Virmargo Street between St. John’s Parkway and Houston Avenue. The development is located with quick access to Rawhide Stadium, downtown Visalia and major employers, including Kaweah Delta District Hospital, College of the Sequoias and CIGNA Healthcare. St. John’s River Trail is also right across the street from the community.
VISALIA, Calif. – Local homebuilder San Joaquin Valley Homes (SJV Homes) announced that model homes at Pine River Estates, a 37-acre community offering 144 single-family homes located on Virmargo Street between St. John’s Parkway and Houston Avenue in Visalia, will be open on December 17.
During the holidays, many families will be hosting overnight guests, sometimes for multiple days. Make their stay memorable by creating a guest room using the following tips.
Welcome them before they arrive.
Send your visitors a welcome email the day before they arrive so they can start their stay early. In it, put links to useful websites, such as a Google map of the area around your home, area traffic maps and weather reports, shopping areas, and tourist attractions.
Take your cue from hotel rooms.
After a hard day of hitting the theme parks, shopping, or enjoying the beach, your guests want a nice place to sleep. So spend your time and energy making the bed comfortable and inviting. Forget thick patterned comforters. Hotel rooms have dispensed with that type of heavy cover. Instead, they use luxurious white pillowcases and a white bed sheet with color added through a warm blanket. If you must add a pattern, use a decorative throw pillow as an accent.
With the new year just around the corner, now would be a good time to take stock of what the housing market might be like in 2017. The California Association of Realtors has done exactly that with the release of their 2017 Housing Market Forecast, which takes into account multiple economic factors.
Association President Path “Ziggy” Zicarelli sees the lowest housing affordability in years, driven by tight housing supplies. But this might work in your favor if you’re looking for a new home in the Central Valley.
• Urban coastal areas, such as the San Francisco Bay Area, will see sales decline as home buyers migrate to more affordable areas, such as the Central Valley, which is predicted to outperform the more expensive markets.
• Kings County is considered the most affordable county in California, where 56 percent of the population is able to buy a median priced home. This compares to the 57 percent nationwide.
• Tulare County is the 7th most affordable county, with 50 percent affordability.
• Compare these amounts to San Francisco, the least affordable county, where only 13 percent can buy a home.