Do You Have Money Dripping Out Of Your Faucets?

by char-maccallum-real-estate-group-inc

Dripping Dollars?

Remember your parents telling you to turn off the water while you brush your teeth?  Turns out they were right!

Conserving water to be green while lowering your monthly bill to save some green is a beneficial combination. Little things can contribute significantly to a large water bill.

  • Leaky faucets can waste over 1,000 gallons a year
  • Leaky toilets can waste 7,000 gallons a month
  • A five-minute shower saves more water than a tub bath
  • Water running while you brush your teeth or shave
  • Sprinkler heads need to be adjusted to spray on the yard only
  • Install a rain sensor on sprinkler system
  • Pool equipment can be a hidden source of wasted water

A larger than normal water bill can be your first indication you have a leak. Then, you’ll need to track it down.

  • Turn off all the water faucets and appliances; don’t forget the ice maker.
  • Open the water meter, usually located near the sidewalk in the front of the house. You may need a water key that can be purchased from a home improvement store or possibly borrowed from a neighbor.
  • Locate the dial indicating water usage. It should not be moving since all of the water is off. If it is still moving, verify that you have turned off anything that might be using water.
  • If it appears to be still, make a mark with a Sharpie and wait 15 minutes. If the flow indicator has moved, you probably have a leak.
  • Now that you’ve confirmed that you have a leak, you may need help in locating it. A plumber or leak specialist may be able to help you track it down and repair it.
With the winter season upon us, turn off the water to your outside faucets & drain the lines to prevent them from freezing.  Don’t wait!
If you would like the name of a reputable Olathe, KS or Kansas City area plumber to help with any of these items, give the office a call at 913-782-8857.
Hope you find these tips helpful!

Halloween Safety Tips

by char-maccallum-real-estate-group-inc

Do you have an anxious trick-or-treater in your family?  Kids look forward to dressing up in costumes and collecting candy, making this one of the most anticipated evenings of the year in Olathe, Kansas!  However, it’s important to remember a few important safety tips so that it can be fun, safe and enjoyable for everyone.

HALLOWEEN COSTUMES

For many adults and children, wearing a Halloween costume is one of the biggest highlights of the day’s festivities. Whether your child is going trick–or-treating or just attending a Halloween party, please be sure to help them choose a costume with the following safety tips in mind.

  • Wear flame resistant costumes, costume accessories and wigs.
  • Costumes should be brightly colored so they are easily seen. If a dark-colored costume is worn, add reflective tape to the costume and the trick or treat bag to make the child more visible.
  • Costumes should be hemmed to prevent a child from tripping or falling.
  • Avoid masks that impair vision in any way. Use non-toxic and hypoallergenic makeup instead.

HALLOWEEN PROPS

Many Halloween costumes seem incomplete without props. If a prop is a part of your child’s costume, be sure to follow these safety tips.

  • Props such as guns, knives or swords can be mistaken for real weapons. Don’t carry fake swords, guns, knives or similar accessories that look authentic. Avoid props with pointed or sharp ends, and instead choose those that are made of a soft material such as rubber with tips and points that are smooth and flexible.
  • Make sure hats or scarves are on securely to prevent them from falling over the child’s eyes and blocking their vision.

TRICK-OR-TREATING

For young children, trick-or-treating on Halloween night is something they look forward to all year. But there are many dangers involved with trick-or-treating if kids and parents aren’t careful. Be sure to remember these safety tips as you accompany your child.

  • The safest time for trick or treating is during daylight hours.
  • Trick or treat in familiar neighborhoods.
  • Carry a flashlight or glow stick to stay visible at night.
  • Younger children should always be accompanied by an adult or older teenager.
  • Children, regardless of age, should never go trick-or-treating alone. They should always go in a group and always stay together.
  • Stay on the sidewalks and out of the streets. Cross only at intersections and designated crosswalks.
  • Don’t enter any houses unless you know the people.
  • Follow traffic signals and don’t jaywalk.
  • Avoid candy that has loose wrappings, is unwrapped, has puncture holes, or is homemade.
  • If your child is old enough and responsible enough to go trick or treating with friends, plan their route ahead of time. This allows parents to know where their children are and that the route they are taking is safe.
  • If possible, provide a mobile phone for kids to carry in case of emergency.
  • Plan a time they should check in or return home.

Also, ALWAYS use extra caution when driving while the ghouls, goblins, superheroes and princesses trick or treat in your neighborhood! Keep Halloween safe and enjoyable for the entire family.

What additional tips do you have for keeping Halloween safe and fun? Have you set certain safety rules in place for your family? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Char MacCallum

www.findkansascityrealestate.com

Rent or Buy in Olathe, Kansas?

by char-maccallum-real-estate-group-inc

Should I Rent or Buy?  What’s the best deal?

The question plaguing every tenant who wants a home of their own is whether they should continue to rent or is it the right time to buy?

The combination of good prices and low mortgage rates make it considerably cheaper to own than rent in most markets. Assuming a person is qualified with a down payment and won’t be moving for several years, there may not be a better time to buy a home.

In the example below, the total house payment is $1,281.01 compared to $1,500 to rent the same home. Before you consider any of the financial benefits attached to home ownership, it’s cheaper to own than to rent.

The net cost of housing falls to $764 or just more than half the house payment when you consider the principal reduction due to normal amortization, a modest appreciation and the tax savings along with a reasonable maintenance expense that a tenant would not have to pay.

One of the biggest benefits is the growing equity. As the value goes up, the unpaid balance goes down. A favorable leverage causes their low down payment to grow to $40,609 in a short seven years based on a modest 1% appreciation.

There’s an expression often heard in real estate circles: “Whether you rent or buy, you pay for the house you occupy.” You’re either buying it for yourself or you’re helping the landlord buy it.

Check out a Rent vs. Own to see how your numbers will compare to this example or call me to do it for you.  913-782-8857 is the office number.

Are you looking for a home in Olathe Kansas or the surrounding Kansas City areas?  Use our free search to find your dream home!

Char MacCallum

www.char4homes.com

How much can I save per month if I re-finance?

by char-maccallum-real-estate-group-inc

Want to know the benefit of re-financing?

Some people believe they shouldn’t refinance more often than once every two years. The determining factors are if you’ll lower your payments and plan to stay in the home long enough to recapture the cost of refinancing. If so, you should consider refinancing.

Interest rates have actually come down significantly in the past 12 months and even more in the past 24 months. According to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey®, rates on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage are down to 3.6% in August, 2012 compared to 4.27% one year earlier.

Refinancing in the example below would save the homeowner $67.04 per month and they would recapture the cost of refinancing in 3 years and 9 months based on approximately $3,000 of closing costs.

Click Here to make your own projection on a Refinance Analysis calculator.

Visit us at www.findkansascityrealestate.com

Do you have a safety checklist?

by char-maccallum-real-estate-group-inc

Be Safe!

house-padlock.pngWe know we live in a relatively safe area here in Olathe, Kansas.  However, a quick once-over of the items on this list may improve the safety and security of your home.  Better yet, it could protect your family and friends.  It is important to periodically pay attention to these items because things change over time as we all get busy with life!

Security

  • Does each exterior door have a deadbolt?
  • Does the lock on each window work?
  • Have you added pins or clips to your windows for additional security?
  • Do you have dowels or broom sticks in the track of windows and sliding glass doors?
  • Do you have security company labels or signs displayed prominently?
  • Do you have an alarm system? Is the system monitored?
  • Do you have a dog that barks when strangers approach the home?
  • Are emergency numbers posted near the telephones?

Fire

  • Do you have smoke detectors near all sleeping areas?
  • Do you check the batteries monthly and change them annually?
  • Do you have two carbon monoxide detectors?
  • Do you have an escape ladder for upper floors?
  • Do you have fire extinguishers near exits and in the kitchen?
  • Do you have an emergency escape plan and is the family familiar with it?
  • Are any outlets or switches warm to the touch?
  • Are kitchen ventilation systems working properly?
  • Is the dryer ventilated to the outside and is the exhaust free of lint?
  • Is the furnace cleaned and serviced yearly?
  • Is the space around the hot water heater clear of combustible materials?

Falls

  • Are all electrical and phone cords out of the flow of traffic?
  • Are rugs and runners slip resistant?
  • Is your step-stool sturdy and in good condition?
  • Are stairs clear of objects that could cause a fall?
  • Are all entrance ways, exits, halls and walks well lighted?
  • Do bath tubs and showers have non-skid strips or suction mats in them?

Other

  • Do you keep drugs and medicines out of reach and sight of small children?(a xanax addiction might damage the immune system)
  • Are interior doors designed so small children cannot lock themselves in rooms?
  • Are pool and play areas fenced to keep small children in and uninvited guests out?
  • Are firearms kept out of reach and sight of children?
  • Is a well-stocked first aid kit available for emergencies?
  • Is there one member of your family trained in first aid, CPR and the Heimlich maneuver?

At the Char MacCallum Real Estate Group, we want our clients and their families to be safe!  Print off this list and post in your home as a reminder to get organized as you move in and keep thinking and living SAFE!  We are available to answer questions, please feel free to contact us at the office (913) 782-8857 or to search for Olathe or surrounding Kansas City homes for sale, please visit us at www.findkansascityrealestate.com

Do You Think Rates Will Come Down More?

by char-maccallum-real-estate-group-inc

“I want to buy, but I want to see if rates will go down a little more.”

Does that statement sound like anyone you know? We heard that a lot this year, but it takes the great purchase price and a low rate for the a great deal!  Another famous quote we heard this summer goes like this: “Home prices are still low and there is a lot to choose from out there”.  False.  If it’s priced right, it’s GONE.  We have had quite a few buyers miss out on their “great deal” due to waiting to see what rates are going to do.  Even here in Olathe, Kansas, we are seeing homes SELL!  Want to know an insider tip on what rates could mean in your home purchase?

The latest Housing Affordability Index from the National Association of REALTORS® shows an interesting trend taking place this year that needs buyers’ attention. Most people know that the mortgage rates are still at incredibly low rates but don’t feel there is much sense of urgency.  If this is YOU and you are thinking of buying a home – get ready to listen!

This report shows that mortgage rates have fallen from 4.37% in January to 3.81% for June. However, the report shows that the payment as a percentage of income has gone from 12.1% to 13.9% which simply means that buyers have to spend more of their income on a home.

The reason is that the median price of homes nationally has gone from $154,600 in January to $190,100 in June which is a 23% increase. The two major components of housing affordability are the price of the homes and the mortgage rates a buyer must pay.  Don’t miss out on an opportunity to find that great deal when you are waiting to see what a mortgage rate is “doing”!

Even if one of those components is going down, the other could have a significant affect as is shown in this year’s trend in housing affordability. In the past few weeks, the effects of which are not show in this report, mortgage rates have been moving up.  So if you are on the fence – it’s time to get off that fence and buy!

Moral of the story?  Don’t wait and be too late!  There are some great Olathe Homes for Sale in our area that we have seen price changes on recently.  Sellers still want to sell and if it’s priced right – it tends to go quickly!  If you are thinking about re-financing or purchasing a home for investment, give us a call at theChar MacCallum Real Estate Group, 913-782-8857 and we can help!  You can always search for homes atwww.findkansascityrealestate.com.

Wondering What Your Home is Worth?

by char-maccallum-real-estate-group-inc

“Hi Char, I saw the house down the street is for sale.  I was wondering what my home is worth?” 

Yup, we get a LOT of these phone calls in the office these days.  Our Olathe homes for sale are doing well – but how does it affect you?

Knowing the current value of your home is important when you’re considering a move, refinancing or getting a home equity loan. Prices are determined by recent sales and the supply and demand of current inventory.

The process of selecting comparable properties involves matching similar features like bedrooms, baths, square footage and updates. In addition to price, there are other factors that affect the value and ultimately, the sale of a home.

Location plays a significant role because of the unique combination of improvements and land. Beneficial considerations would be convenience to schools, shopping, transportation and proximity to freeways. Undesirable concerns could include being in the vicinity of busy streets, high-tension lines, commercial property and other things.

To receive a computerized estimate on the value of your home that includes prices of comparable homes that have sold recently and homes currently for sale, click here.

Value is not totally objective and does require a certain amount of subjective considerations. If you have questions after you receive your report by email, contact The Char MacCallum Real Estate Group at 913-782-8857 and we’ll be happy to talk to you about your estimate.  You can also browse current homes for sale on our website www.findkansascityrealestate.com 

Thinking of a Rental Home as an Investment?

by char-maccallum-real-estate-group-inc

As many of our clients know, we work with a lot of families on renting homes as well as our investors who are wanting to purchase homes to rent in Olathe, Kansas.  Single-family homes used for rental property have distinct advantages over other types of investments.

Home prices have adjusted 30-40% around the country (as well as our Kansas City area), mortgage rates are incredibly low and rents have risen in the past two years due to more demand and shorter supply. Indicators like these point to a strong and sustained rental market. A great reason savvy investors are spending their money on Kansas City Real Estate with the Char MacCallum Team.An typical investor in Olathe Kansas can borrow 75-80% at fixed interest rates on appreciating assets with definite tax advantages and reasonable control. The financing alone is attractive compared to some investments that require 50% cash and have floating rates at prime plus for one or two years.

Consider you bought a $125,000 home for cash that would rent for $1,250 per month. With $15,000 income and allowing for property taxes, insurance and maintenance, it is still reasonable to expect $10,000 net income. You’d have an 8% return on investment without considering tax savings or future appreciation compared with 5-year CDs paying less than 1.5% and a 10-year Treasury yield at 1.65%.  Want to runYOUR investment numbers?

The reasonable control has a lot of appeal to many investors who find the volatility of the stock market unacceptable and don’t want the risk associated with some of the alternative investments.  We know that our Kansas City and Olathe, Kansas investors are smart with their real estate investments!  Helping our friends, past clients and investors is what we love to do – if you have questions, contact us at the office 913-782-8857

Please contact me if you’d like to know more about available opportunities to purchase rental homes in our Olathe and surrounding Kansas City areas.  You can use our free search here http://www.findkansascityrealestate.com/

Wondering about the “Value” of your Olathe KS Home?

by char-maccallum-real-estate-group-inc

Here in Olathe Kansas, we get a lot of questions like “What’s my home worth?”.  What your home is worth depends on why you ask the question. It could be one value based on a purchase or sale and an entirely different value for insurance purposes.

Fair market value is the price a buyer and seller can agree upon assuming both are knowledgeable, willing and unpressured by extraordinary events. This value is generally indicated by the comparable market analysis done by real estate professionals, such as a Char MacCallum Team Member.

Insured value is determined for the proper insurance coverage. Replacement cost could actually exceed the cost of new construction when additional expenses are incurred for demolition and the added complexities of matching existing construction.

Homeowners are generally more familiar with their home’s market value. You know your Olathe, Kansas neighborhoods and surrounding areas – we’re going to ask when we come to visit, “what do you think your home is worth?”.  Since it can be lower than the replacement cost, owners should review the insured value with their property insurance agents periodically. Under-insuring could invoke a co-insurance clause that may limit the settlement and increase your out of pocket expenses.

Did we get you thinking about the value of your home?  Feel free to contact us at the office for any questions or search some of the homes listed to see how they compare to yours!  Of course, you can justclick on this link to have us look up what the market value of your home could be here in Olathe, Kansas!

Thinking about a Second Home?

by char-maccallum-real-estate-group-inc

While a principal residence and a second home have some similar benefits, they have some major differences. A principal residence is the primary home where you live and a second home is used for personal enjoyment while limiting possible rental activity to a maximum of 14 days per year.

The Mortgage Interest Deduction allows a taxpayer to deduct the qualified interest and property taxes on a principal residence and a second home. The interest is limited to a maximum of $1,000,000 combined acquisition debt and a combined $100,000 home equity debt for both the first and second homes.

The gain on a principal residence has a significant exclusion for taxpayers meeting the requirements. The gains on second homes must be recognized when sold. Even if you sell a smaller second home and invest all of the proceeds into a larger second home, you’ll need to pay tax on the gain.

Tax-deferred exchanges are not allowed for properties having personal use including second homes.

If the home is owned for more than 12 months, the gain is taxed at the long-term capital gains rate. If the home is owned for less than 12 months, the gain is taxed as ordinary income which would be a considerably higher rate.

The article is intended for informational purposes. Advice from a tax professional for your specific situation should be obtained prior to making a decision that can have tax implications. 

Are you thinking about a second home?  Free search on www.findkansascityrealestate.com