29. January 2011 08:06
The new year brought new tax credits for homeowners—and said goodbye to the $8,000 tax credit that was available to first-time
home buyers and the 30 percent credit for installing energy efficient windows. But you can still take advantage of homeowner tax incentives to save money by making your home more energy efficient.
Windows and skylights. Deduct 10% of the price of windows that are either Energy Star certified or meet International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) standards. Installation costs are not deductible and the maximum allowance is $200.
Storm windows. You can deduct up to $200 for storm windows (10% of your cost, minus installation) but only if they are installed over an exterior window that is also energy-efficient.
Insulation, exterior doors, and roof. 10% of the cost of Energy Star-certified materials is deductible.
Natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler. Claim $150 on your 2011 tax return when you install a system with an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of at least 95%.
Heating. You can take a $200 deduction when you replace your old furnace with an energy efficient model.
Wood heating. If you install a wood heating system in your home, you can claim up to $300.
Central air conditioning. In order to get this $300 tax credit, your new system must have a 16 SEER rating and at least an EER of 13.
Water heaters. For natural gas, propane or oil water heaters, you can deduct $300 on the equipment if it has an energy factor of .82 or higher or a thermal efficiency rating of at least 90%. An electric heat pump water heater must have an energy factor of at least 2.0 to qualify for the $300 energy efficient tax credit.
Your total tax credit cannot exceed $500 and the improvements must be made on your primary residence. Plus, your total lifetime energy efficiency credit cannot exceed $1,500, so if you’ve already claimed deductions in the past, you need to subtract those from the $1,500 ceiling on allowable credits. But when you add in the energy savings on your heating, water, and electric bill, there’s still an advantage to thinking and living green!
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4. January 2011 16:12
There’s never a more important time to pay attention to the details than when you’re getting your house ready to sell. It’s
a buyer’s market and there’s a lot of competition out there. To get the best price, you need to put your best foot forward.
Obviously, the house needs to be structurally sound. If major repairs are needed, take care of those, or be prepared to adjust your price to reflect the work that a buyer will need to do.
Your real estate agent is a wonderful resource, and can tell you what kind of improvements will get the attention of buyers in your market.
In general, here are steps you can take to make a great first impression on prospective buyers.
-Cut and water the grass regularly. If there are bare spots, fill them in. Trim foliage so the house can easily be seen. Weed flower beds and kill weeds in walkways.
-Pressure wash the exterior to get rid of dirt, stains or peeling paint. Repaint if needed.
-Clean and repair any damaged gutters, siding and shutters.
-Repair loose or damaged roof shingles.
-Put a fresh coat of paint on the front door.
-Put away any clutter in the yard, including toys, bikes and yard equipment. If there’s anything broken sitting in the yard, get rid of it. If you have a car that’s not running, or a boat or RV parked at the house, store it somewhere else while the house is on the market.
-Make sure the walkways and steps are free of any tripping hazards.
-Remove any ant beds, wasp nests and spider webs.
-Add some color with seasonal plants near the front door.
-Wash the windows.
-Update the light fixtures and house numbers.
-Paint. This is the cheapest, easiest way to give your house a fresh look. Remove outdated wallpaper and borders.
-Give the house a thorough cleaning, including flooring and window treatments, especially if you have pets. If you have smokers, take pictures and mirrors off the walls to see if the walls need cleaned.
-Eliminate clutter. This makes the house look bigger and more open. Put away toys, clean off the counters, take down clusters of family photos, pack up the knick-knacks, etc.
-Check the ceilings and walls for cracks, stains or signs of water damage.
-Repair any damage to wallpaper, walls, molding, tiles or flooring.
-Replace missing handles from cabinets.
-Fix any leaking faucets, showerheads or toilets.
-Replace broken or cracked windows or doors.
-Replace outdated light fixtures and burned-out light bulbs.
-Repair damaged countertops.
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