Reading Median Values Rise!

All real estate is local and right now is a good time to be a local seller.  Want to buy a home in Marblehead? Fine - you have 76 choices.  Want to purchase a single family in Reading - well that's a bit trickier with just 13 options.  Further good news is that Reading has rebounded from the dark days of the housing crisis and remains very desirable for  families and other homebuyers looking for a great community just North of Boston.    We've calculated the median price for you for 3 time periods in the accompanying chart.  


Real Estate Lingo: Maisonette

Yes- it rhymes with Raisonet!   I discovered this new term in NYC land of the luxury co-op/condo experts.  Further research shows that it is very common lingo in the UK and can represent a one level (flat) or multi-level townhouse style home.

As a term used to sell street level homes in one of the world's busiest cities, maisonette will likely start to appear locally as well - particularly for luxury buildings.  Granted - while the idea of living above it all in the penthouse sounds wonderful - apparently there are drawbacks that maisonettes do not have.

1. Noise:  Curiously - you may not realize that street level noise travels upward wiht minimal loss of quality and volume.  Apparently it hits the sie of the building and changes course intact giving upper floor dwellers no escape from honking horns and sirens.

2. Time:  When pitching a maisonette - it is key to ask the buyers how how of their life they would like to spend waiting for and standing in the building elevators.  Maisonettes generally avoid all of these delays woht direct secure acces to the street level.

3. Value:  Maisonettes may have a lower price than upper level units and may also have a lower share of the association fees.

On the cons - improper sound proofing between floors can result in your knowing too much about your neighbor's lifestyle - but this can apply to all floors not just non-penthouse homes.   

Three great tax Incentives for homeowners!

Homeownership always comes with great tax benefits - the trick is to keep track of them!  

Below are three great tax incentives that are set to expire after December 31st courtesy of The National Association of Realtors.  

If you’re eligible, tax year 2013 is possibly the last time to claim the private mortgage insurance (PMI) deduction, the energy tax credit, and debt forgiveness benefit, all of which all expire on Dec. 31, 2013. 

At least there’s one piece of good news for homeowners: If you have a home office, there’s a new, simpler option for calculating the home office deduction for which you may qualify on your 2013 taxes.

Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about those expiring benefits as you ready your taxes:

PMI Deduction

This tax rule lets you deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance, which is what you pay your lender each month if you put down less than 20% on a home. PMI protects the lender if you default on the home loan. Your deduction could amount to a couple hundred dollars depending on your tax bracket and other factors.

Find out if you qualify for and how to take the PMI deduction.

Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

This sweet little tax credit lets you offset what you owe the IRS dollar-for-dollar for up to 10% of the amount you spent on certain home energy-efficiency upgrades, from insulation to water heaters. On the downside, the credit is capped at $500 (less in some cases). But on the bright side, the right improvement could lower your utility bills indefinitely. 

Related: Take back your energy bills with these high-ROI energy-efficiency practices.

Debt Forgiveness

When you go through a short saleforeclosure, or deed-in-lieu, your lender typically lets you off the hook for some or all of what you owe on your mortgage. 

That forgiven mortgage debt is income, on which you’d typically have to pay income tax. 

New Simplified Option for the Home Office Deduction

This may be the last year for the benefits above, but a new one kicks in for the 2013 tax year. If you work from home, you may qualify to use a new, simplified option for claiming the home office deduction when you file your 2013 taxes.

How much simpler is it? It lets you claim $5 per sq. ft. for up to 300 sq. ft. instead of having to compute the actual expenses of your home office using a 43-line form. To calculate the square footage of your office, just multiply the length of two walls. For example, an 8-by-10-foot room is 80 sq. ft. And at $5 per, that’s $400.

Although using the simplified option is obviously easier, the basic requirements for claiming the home office deduction haven’t changed. Your home office still must be used for business purposes:

  • Exclusively, and
  • On a regular basis.

Related: Which Home Office Set-Ups Qualify for a Deduction?

Why Might the Tax Benefits Not Be Renewed?

Although the expiring tax benefits were renewed retroactively in past years, that may not happen in 2014 because many in Congress would like to see comprehensive tax reform rather than scattershot renewals of individual provisions. This could delay a decision on the homeownership tax benefits until the big picture budget and tax issues are resolved.

So if you can, enjoy them now!

RE/MAX Leading Edge Named Top 5 Best Places to work for 3rd Year in a row!

RE/MAX Leading Edge, one of Greater Boston’s leading full-service real estate companies with offices in Boston, Arlington, Lexington, Lynnfield, Melrose, Newton, Reading, North Reading, Somerville, Wakefield, Watertown and Winchester, was named to the 2013 Boston Globe’s Top Places to Work for the third consecutive year.  Companies were grouped by size and RE/MAX Leading Edge was ranked number 13 out of 40 in the medium-sized company category. RE/MAX Leading Edge has been ranked in the top 15 of this category since 2011.

“We would like to congratulate everyone at RE/MAX Leading Edge for their recent recognition as one of the top places to work,” saidDan Breault, Executive Vice President and Regional Director of RE/MAX of New England. “They are committed to supporting the growth and productivity of their Agents through their unique training and education programs.  Their office has proven to be a true example of how to establish a great working environment with maximum work output.”

Savvy Buyer: Trends in New Construction.

Now that real estate prices are marching upward again - the number of new construction homes has also been on the rise.   Wilmington and Reading have both seen upticks in the number of new housing starts.  In Reading, they are primarily by way of tear down & rebuild efforts in established neighborhoods. Prioces typically range from low $600's to high $800's in price.  In Wilmington, with more available land and more moderate land costs, new construction is often occuring on former farm land and ranges in price from mid- $400's to just over $600k.   

In furnishings and equipment these homes are like to feature the following....

- Gas cooking and heating via propane.  (No longer then poor step child of natural gas - newer efficient systems and all the same environamnetal benefirs have made the fuel very common in areas not served by pipelines.)

- Expansion potential.   Whether via large walk up attics or water tight basements with extra high ceilings these spaces are commonly found today and offer great storage as well as room for furture family use.

- Better cabinetry.  The "builder spec" kitchen and baths may still come from Home Depot - but at least now they include durable dovetail cabinets and solid wood doors and self close hinges.

- Energy efficiency upgrades.  Driven in a large part by tighter building codes we are seeing mostly 2 x 6 construction and, frequently, tankless on-demand water heaters.

- Tighter "Limited" builder warranties.  Many long time buuilders provide an unconditional 1 year "builder's warranty" while some speculative investors have taken the time to craft lengthy documents specifically outlining what is and is not covered.  It is very important to read the fine print!

Fortunately, many of the building products used come with their own warranties - which can often been seen on everything from the OSB flooring ans sheathing materials to the windows.  It's an exciting time for new construction buyers as well as their Buyer's Brokers.

 

RE/MAX Leading Edge Named Top 5 Best Places to work for 3rd Year in a row!

RE/MAX Leading Edge, one of Greater Boston’s leading full-service real estate companies with offices in Boston, Arlington, Lexington, Lynnfield, Melrose, Newton, Reading, North Reading, Somerville, Wakefield, Watertown and Winchester, was named to the 2013 Boston Globe’s Top Places to Work for the third consecutive year.  Companies were grouped by size and RE/MAX Leading Edge was ranked number 13 out of 40 in the medium-sized company category. RE/MAX Leading Edge has been ranked in the top 15 of this category since 2011.

“We would like to congratulate everyone at RE/MAX Leading Edge for their recent recognition as one of the top places to work,” saidDan Breault, Executive Vice President and Regional Director of RE/MAX of New England. “They are committed to supporting the growth and productivity of their Agents through their unique training and education programs.  Their office has proven to be a true example of how to establish a great working environment with maximum work output.”