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To LED or Not To LED?

by Stone Realty Services®

LED 200.jpgIf you’ve considered changing your light bulbs to energy-saving LED bulbs but decided not to make the investment because the prices were too high, you might want to investigate again.  The prices have come down considerably.

An initial investment now will generate immediate returns through energy costs and because they last longer, you won’t need to replace them for years.

The life of LED bulbs is projected to be from 35,000 to 50,000 hours compared to an incandescent bulb at 750 to 2,000 hours.  For normal home use, a LED bulb could last more than 20 years.

80-90% of the energy used by fluorescent and incandescent bulbs is wasted by the heat generated.  In contrast, cool LED bulbs converts 80% of the electrical energy to light energy.

• The color of LED lights is bright white, more like daylight, instead of the warm yellow of incandescent or the greenish tint of fluorescent bulbs.

• LEDs light up instantly instead of building to their intensity like some of the fluorescent bulbs.

• LEDs are more durable because they don’t have filaments or thin-glass bulbs like incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.

Shop around to find the best price on LEDs. If the LED only lasted 20,000 hours, you might have to purchase 20 incandescent bulbs during that same period of time.  Using the chart below, you can see that the LED uses about 10% of the wattage without compromising on the brightness.

Watt comparison.png

"What Are You Giving Away this Christmas?"

by Stone Realty Services®

seasons greetings.pngIt’s part of holiday tradition to celebrate with family and friends and to share gifts with our loved ones.  There’s no measuring how much is spent on the combined effort and money to find the perfect gift. 

The challenge is to identify the right gift in the right color and size; something they really want and need; and something that won’t break the budget. 

“Eight Gifts That Do Not Cost a Cent” are suggestions that have been offered on numerous Internet sites attributed to an anonymous writer.  They may be just what you need to find the perfect gift. 

• THE GIFT OF LISTENING...but you must really listen. No interrupting; no daydreaming; no planning your response; just listening. 

• THE GIFT OF AFFECTION...be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds.  Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends. 

• THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER...clip cartoons and share articles and funny stories.  Your gift will say “I love to laugh with you." 

• THE GIFT OF A WRITTEN NOTE...it can be a simple "thanks for the help" note or a full letter.  A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime and may even change a life. 

• THE GIFT OF A COMPLIMENT...a simple and sincere, "you look great in red" or "you did a super job" or "that was a wonderful meal" can make someone's day. 

• THE GIFT OF A FAVOR... go out of your way every day to do something kind. 

• THE GIFT OF SOLITUDE...there are times when a person wants nothing more than to be left alone.  Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others. 

• THE GIFT OF A CHEERFUL DISPOSITION...the easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone.  It’s really not that hard to say, Hello or Thank You. 

SIX YEAR-END TAX TIPS FOR HOMEOWNERS

by Stone Realty Services®

Six Ways To Trim Your 2013 Taxes

No one wants to pay more taxes than they have to, so use these six strategies to lower the size of the check you send Uncle Sam next April:

1. Pay Bills Early
If you itemize, pay bills early to increase your deductions. Pay your January 2014 mortgage payment and your 2014 property taxes in December 2013. If you're a joint filer and don't have $12,200 in qualifying expenses ($6,100 for single filers) to make itemizing deductions worthwhile, don't prepay your expenses. Save your payments until 2014 when you may be able to take the deductions.

Before you make any early payments, use the Internal Revenue Service's Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Assistant to make sure you're not subject to AMT. If you're subject to AMT, you can lose some deductions, so you wouldn't benefit from paying items early.

2. Make Home Energy-Efficiency Upgrades
Pay for home energy-efficiency upgrades before Dec. 31 to take advantage of a federal tax credit for projects like installing insulation and energy-saving furnaces or air conditioners. This tax credit disappears when 2013 ends, so don't delay.

3. Recycle When You Remodel 
When you remodel, do it in a way that keeps intact the fixtures and house parts you remove including cabinets, bathtubs, wood floors, windows and doors. Donate them to a salvage store, like Habitat for Humanity's Restore to earn a tax deduction.

4. Spend FSA Funds On Home Improvements
Have funds left in your Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)? You can spend them to make medically necessary home improvements, such as a hand rail in your bathroom. Get a letter from your doctor supporting your medical need for the improvements. Many employers have adopted grace periods giving you until March 15, 2014 to spend your FSA funds. 

5. Deduct Property Taxes Paid At Closing
If you bought your home in 2013, check your HUD-1 settlement statement (lines 106 and 107) to see if you reimbursed the sellers for property taxes they paid. You won't get a 1098 from your lender showing those taxes because you paid them at settlement not from your escrow account.

6.  Take The Home Office Deduction
If you have a home office, but haven't taken the home office deduction because it's too complicated or you're worried it would cause you to be audited, go ahead and take it on your 2013 taxes.

Starting this year, you can take a new home office standard deduction of $5 per square foot (up to 300 square feet) if you itemize deductions. You won't have a home depreciation deduction or later recapture of depreciation for the years you use this simplified option.

The Winter Home Buyer Report

by Stone Realty Services®

winter house 250.jpgThe Winter Home Buyer Report conducted in the second week of November by REALTOR.com® revealed the sentiments of current home buyers expecting to buy a house during the winter months.  It appears that there is pent-up demand with buyers who were unable to purchase a home recently.

Most cited as an impediment to purchase was the challenge of low inventory.  Strong demand coupled with short supply explains why home prices have been increasing.

"This summer and spring home buying season was particularly challenging for buyers, especially first-time home buyers trying to compete with all-cash offers and bidding wars because of reduced inventory.  In fact, a quarter of the winter home buyers revealed they are in the market now because they were unable to find a home during this last home buying season," said Alison Schwartz, vice president of corporate communications at REALTOR.com®.  "While buyers are still experiencing challenges with inventory and approximately one in five buyers plan to put down all cash, there are advantages to looking for a home in the winter. Motivated sellers, better prices and less competition between buyers are some of the top reasons winter home buyers are interested in purchasing a home during the colder months of the year."

Some interesting statistics taken from the report are:

Biggest challenges when searching for a home during winter:

• 34 percent shared that there is not enough inventory on the market 
• 29 percent believe that winter weather makes house hunting unpleasant
 

Traditionally, the industry has found that the fourth quarter of the year has a lower sales volume and is generally attributed to distractions from the holidays and not wanting to make a move during consistently inclement weather.  Even in areas that are not affected by extreme winter weather, there seems to be a mindset about moving in the winter.

Indications are that it may be advantageous for sellers to put their home on the market now rather than wait until after the first of the year.

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

Contact Information

Photo of Stone Wood Team Real Estate
Stone Wood Team
EXP Realty
2165 Jamieson Avenue
Alexandria VA 22314
Office: (703) 739-4663
Office: (703) 739-HOME
Fax: 703-683-9692