Category Archives: Relocation

What is an MLS?

Odds are you’ve spent a little time online searching for homes. After all, most home searches begin online. You may have even used a broker’s website or a site like Trulia or Zillow to help you browse listings.

But where does listing information come from?

Way back in the day, prior to the Information Age revolution, brokers used to gather and exchange information about their properties. The idea was fairly straightforward: I’ll help you sell your properties if you help me sell mine. It’s a “private offer of cooperation and compensation.” Cooperation meant the real estate industry could thrive and buyers and sellers could enjoy smoother transactions.

This spirit of cooperation gave rise to Multiple Listing Service(s) (MLS). By consolidating information about housing inventory in an MLS, listing brokers and buyers’ brokers can easily share up-to-date information about homes on the market. Though an MLS is typically a private database available to brokers, much of the information is syndicated to outside sites in the interest of casting wider net for buyers and sellers.

As an MLS is the primary source of information about a property, it tends to be the most accurate. It may also contain private information for use by brokers only, such as times the home is available for showings and seller contact information.

There are upwards of 850 MLS databases in the U.S. alone, and to a certain extent, there is market pressure to centralize these into a national MLS database. We’re sure to see changes in how Multiple Listing Services are used in the future, but the core benefits to home sellers and buyers is sure to remain.

Ready to put the power of an MLS to work for you? Search with me today for homes on the market right now. I’d be happy to help you find your next home:

Retirement strategy? Relocate!

Unlike earlier generations of retirees who paid off their mortgages and retired in their family home, today’s Baby Boomers are looking to capitalize on home equity to enhance their retirement savings. If you’re thinking how relocating might stretch your retirement dollar, below are a few points you should consider before relocating, downsizing, or trading up:

 

  1. Speak with your spouse or partner first, even if you think you’re both of the same mind. Don’t assume that you’re in agreement. When the moment to make the leap comes, feelings may change.

 

  1. Consider the cost-of-living in a different part of the country. There’s a pretty big swing between rural Florida and urban San Francisco, for example. This might also mean factoring fuel costs if you’re moving into an area where you’re likely to spend more time driving.

 

  1. Consider whether your plans are realistic. For example, could you really live in a 1-bedroom condo after spreading out for years in your present 4-bed/3-bath?

 

  1. How much will the ease and pleasure of retirement depend on family and friends? What are the pros/cons of moving nearer/farther away? Conversely: Are there any detriments to moving closer to younger family members? (I.e. are you ready to open a free grandkid-sitting service?)

 

  1. Consider the potential impact of capital gains if you have substantial equity in your home— speak with a tax professional. This is especially true if you’re downshifting from ownership into a rental market.

 

Relocating to a more affordable area as well as to a smaller home is a strong strategy. But real estate values and property taxes can vary immensely by locale, even within the same state. Research thoroughly. Also, you want to spend significant time in the location to make sure its compatible with your lifestyle, pace, and interests.

 

If you’re thinking about relocating or know someone who would like to speak to a local agent about relocation plans, please pass along my information. I would be honored to serve your friends and family:

Ready to downsize?

Thought I might float an idea by you regarding any plans you may have for your future home. Are you like some of my clients? They have recently looked into downsizing now that their kids are out of the house, or have considered investing in second homes. One of the more popular options has been condos and town homes, especially in walkable, urban-like areas such as the Carmel Art District or even in booming Noblesville.

I don’t know if it’s something you’ve considered, but there are a number of benefits to condo and loft living. It’s a great way to take the majority of home maintenance issues off your back while maintaining the equity-building benefits of owning property.

Additionally, the lofts and condos selling these days are gorgeous compared to the “apartment style” condos of years ago. We’re seeing a lot of refurbished classic industrial buildings, amazing views, and quality amenities in these newer projects.

The draw for several of the people I’ve consulted with centers on having convenient access to shops, restaurants, museums, theaters, farmers’ markets, and other car-free destinations. Some have even bought lofts in other cities for the express purpose of renting out their property to vacationers when they’re not using it.

If you ever have any interest in pursuing something like this, or even would like to take a look at what modern loft living looks like these days, I’d be glad to give you a tour of the local market, or even connect you with someone in a city you’ve been considering.

How-to Deduct Moving Expenses

Are you planning a move for a new job? Are you relocating to find a new job? Are you moving and self-employed? Good news: If you meet any of these criteria, you may be eligible to deduct your moving expenses.

As an “above the line” deduction, you don’t have to itemize the write-off, either. Expenses can include an array of items that really add up, including:

– Utility disconnection and reconnection fees
– Up to 30 days of storage unit costs
– Hotel rooms (though not the expenses like minibars and meals!)
– Shipping and packing costs (from the boxes to the moving company, etc.)
– Travel to the new home, as well as automotive deductions of 24-cents/mile

Now, as we all know, there are no freebies with the IRS. You have to meet some basic requirements. First, once you’re settled in your new location, you have to be employed full-time for at least 39 weeks of the next year (12 months after the move). It doesn’t have to be the same company… just full-time employment for 39 weeks. If you’re self-employed, you need to be self-employed full-time for a minimum of 78 weeks of the next two years (24 months after the move).

In addition to the duration of employment, you also must be a minimum distance from your original location. For the self-employed, a minimum of 50 miles applies. For those who commuted to a job, you must be 50 miles plus the distance of your commute. So if you drove 20 miles to your old job, the move must be at least 70 miles away from your old home (50 + 20 mile commute).

Naturally, it’s a good idea to confirm these rules with your tax professional, as the IRS is often in the habit of updating, eliminating, or otherwise changing the criteria by which they judge deductions. The bottom line: Don’t miss out on this tax savings!

This is just one of the many ways homeowners are rewarded come tax time. There are other ways you can keep more of your income by making the leap from renter to owner. I’d be happy to help you climb the path! Get in touch with me today.

To the Road Warriors

Now and again I help people buy and sell homes related to changes at work. Sometimes people relocate. Sometimes they’re downsizing and sometimes they’re looking for a vacation home. Often I hear from traveling salespeople buying a home, “It’s a great house. Too bad I won’t spend any time in it.”

Maybe you or a family you know has someone who spends upwards of 80 percent of their time on the road. It can be a real challenge to be out there earning a living, be it for a family of four at home or even a spouse who has to stay behind hold down the fort.

I feel for those of you out there who invest in a home but miss out on it most of the time because of a hectic travel schedule. I hope you love your jobs and in the end you feel the sacrifice is worth it. I think we should all recognize how hard that can be. While a sales career can be exciting early on, it’s often after years on the road that it begins to take a toll.

To that end, I came across this quote, and I thought it spoke fairly to the situation of the home-owning road warriors out there:

“You need a village, if only for the pleasure of leaving it. A village means that you are not alone, knowing that in the people, the trees, the earth, there is something that belongs to you, waiting for you when you are not there.” -Cesare Pavese (Italian poet, novelist, critic)

I hope you treasure your home and your neighborhood and the people there. We always look forward to your return.

What’s Your Five Year Plan?

I have a question for you to consider: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Many of my friends and clients don’t take the time during their hectic day-to-day lives to take a slightly longer view of things. But if you visualize it, what do you see? What do you hope? Do you see yourself in the same job? Living in the same place? It’s funny, but five years can pass pretty quickly.

I’m curious because I’d like to hear what your goals are and what you hope to achieve. Perhaps there’s a way I can help you with a part of your plan for yourself. Often the “five year view” mandates some changes in real estate that are easier to accommodate with a little long-range planning. A short brainstorming session over coffee can make things easier down the line.

I’d love to catch up, and as always, I’m available if there’s anything I can do to help out.

Moving to a new city?

Are you considering a move to a new city? Maybe you’re trying to make the choice between two or three potential options. If so, how you visit your future home can have a dramatic impact on which one makes the final cut.

By making a few subtle shifts in how you prepare for your visit (and how you spend your time while you’re in town), you can gain more useful insight into the community.

Tip 1: Stay a week if possible
While a long weekend might be your only shot, you can get a much better perspective on a place if you have enough time to unwind. A mix of weekdays and a weekend is a great way to get a view of the rhythm of the town. If you have a long time to plan, visit the place in Summer versus Winter, too.

Tip 2: Rent an apartment or house
A family living in a hotel is expensive and automatically puts you “outside” the community. With a little more room and the facilities of a real living space, you’ll get a better sense of what it might be like to “really be there.” Plus, avoiding the hotel will keep you off tourist-trap areas and hopefully away from major highways.

Tip 3: Explore some on foot
Driving aimlessly can be a good “survey” technique (and indeed, getting lost is a good idea, too), but walking neighborhoods and downtown districts will give you a vivid sense of the community.

Tip 4: Get the local low-down
Before you go, find friends-of-friends on Facebook and other social media sites who can give you an idea of the must-see places that locals love. Use this list as your guide, not the tourism brochures.

Tip 5: Pay attention to what matters to YOU
Remember: You’re the one thinking of living there. Don’t let what others see as the main benefit to the town be what guides your decision to live there. Go with your gut, your values, and your comfort level!

By the way, I’m glad to help you sell your home prior to the move, or refer you to a trusted agent in your destination city. Just get in touch!