Here are 6 Housing Predictions to know for 2018

The latest report from realtor.com shows the market will begin to see more manageable increases in home prices and a modest acceleration of home sales. Analysts from the real estate listings website also predict Millennials will begin to increase their market share of homeownership in 2018.

However, realtor.com experts are still unsure what the impact will be from tax reform legislation currently being debated in Congress.

“We are forecasting next year to set the stage for a significant inflection point in the housing shortage,” said Javier Vivas, realtor.com director of economic research. “Inventory increases will be felt in higher priced segments after home buying season, which limits their impact on total sales for the year. As we head into 2019 and beyond, we expect to see these inventory increases take hold and provide relief for first-time home buyers and drive sales growth.”

The forecast shows that while existing home sales will increase slightly, new home sales will see the most significant increase, fighting against the low levels of affordable housing inventory. And other experts agree.

Home sales are expected to increase slightly in 2018 as new home sales take over the market, according to Freddie Mac’s monthly Outlook for September.

Here are realtor.com’s six major predictions for the housing market in 2018:

1. Home price appreciation – Home prices are expected to rise 3.2% next year. This slower rate of increase will allow for home sales to pick up next year.

2. Mortgage rates – Mortgage rates are expected to average 4.6% throughout the year, but reach 5% for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage by the end of the year. The Mortgage Bankers Association also predicted rates will continue rising, saying mortgage rates could pass 4% or even 5% over the next few years.

3. Existing Home Sales – Existing home sales are forecasted to rise 2.5% as the trend in low inventory begins to reverse course.

4. Housing Starts – Even as existing home sales increase, new home sales will increase even more, meaning housing starts will also rise. Overall, housing starts are predicted to rise 3% over the year, but single-family home starts will increase 7%.

5. New Home Sales – These will increase at the same rate as housing starts, rising 7% year-over-year in 2018.

6. Homeownership Rate – The homeownership rate will stabilize at 63.9% after having hit bottom in the second quarter of 2016, realtor.com forecasted.

Minute Update...

For the Week Ending June 24, 2016

Existing home sales rose to a nine-year high in May. The housing market has been supported by low mortgage rates and a strong labor market.

However, despite rising for 3 straight months, existing home sales remain constrained by inventory. Strong demand continues to drive home prices higher.

Homebuyers struggling to find their dream homes because of limited inventory are buying and renovating instead. Over 25% of renovations are by new homeowners.

 

Moving Quickly? Get Your Home Ready For Sale in 30 Days

Home Staging

If you’ve suddenly found out that you’ll have to sell your home in a hurry, don’t panic. While you won’t have time to do some serious renovating, there are still plenty of things you can do to make sure you’re home is prepared for buyers.

Use the following tips to get a home ready for sale in 30 days:

  • Start with the exterior. Curb appeal is everything when you’re selling your home. Make sure your front yard looks its best by getting rid of weeds, planting flowers and mowing the lawn. As for your house, give the exterior some fresh paint and new hardware. Pressure wash it as well to make it look as clean as possible.
  • Do small repairs. Fix broken tiles, replace screens with tears in them and take care of any other minor repairs that are needed. Check all of the lights in your home to make sure they work, and replace bulbs as needed. Do routine maintenance on your home as well, such as replacing HVAC filters.
  • Fix up your kitchen and bathrooms. Paint the cabinets, make sure your appliances are coordinated in terms of appearance and replace or refinish the countertops if they’re worn. Clean the grout between tiles in your kitchen and bathrooms, and consider replacing the sinks, toilets and other plumbing fixtures it they’re outdated.
  • Remove personal items and collectibles. Put these in boxes, and make your home appear as tidy and clutter-free as possible.
  • Focus on neutral colors. Paint and decorate interior rooms in neutral tones, such as beige, white or light gray, to make your home more inviting. Stay away from bold colors.

Sponsor article courtesy of ERA Real Estate

Lynn Meadows Discovery Center earns nation's highest honor

Lynn Meadows Discovery Center earns nation's highest honor

Tuesday, April 19th 2016, 8:54 am CDTTuesday, April 19th 2016, 1:55 pm CDTBy Cassie Archebelle, Executive Producer

  • Lynn Meadows Discovery Center has received the nation's highest honor given to museums for service to the community. (Photo Source: Lynn Meadows Discovery Center Facebook page)

This year's winners were selected from 30 finalists from across the country nominated for the honor. (Photo Source: Lynn Meadows Discovery Center Facebook page)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Lynn Meadows Discovery Center has received the nation's highest honor given to museums for service to the community. The center is one of the 10 recipients of the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

For 22 years, the award has celebrated institutions that respond to societal needs in innovative ways, making a difference for individuals, families, and their communities.

“This is a well-deserved honor for the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center.  This museum serves as a valuable community resource in Gulfport and throughout South Mississippi,” said Sen. Thad Cochran, who recommended the Gulfport museum for the award.  “I hope this award will fuel the museum’s drive to continue to inspire and educate young people on the Gulf Coast for many more years.”

This year's National Medal recipients show the transforming role of museums and libraries from educational destinations to full-fledged community partners and anchors," said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. "We are proud to recognize the extraordinary institutions that play an essential role in reaching underserved populations and catalyzing new opportunities for active local involvement."

"The shouts and giggles we hear every day are confirmation enough for us, but it sure doesn't hurt to hear that we have been selected as a national winner in recognition of exceptional service to our community," said Cindy DeFrances, executive director of Lynn Meadows Discovery Center for Children. "Our visitors know that we offer an experience like no other children's museum in Mississippi or along the Coast, one where we inspire children, families and communities through interactive educational experiences and exploration.  At the center, a child can participate in activities as varied as spotting a lion from a safari jeep in Africa to climbing into a tree house in the oaks."

This year's winners were selected from 30 finalists from across the country nominated for the honor.

The award will be presented at an event in Washington, D.C., on June 1.

source: WLOX

Ocean Springs Made the cut... The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2016

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, our top picks this year are all towns close to America’s natural splendors

By Jackie Mansky

The famed Great American Road Trip would be incomplete without visiting a few national parks along the way. From Yosemite’s awe-inspiring waterfalls to the wooded respites of the Great Smoky Mountains to the narrow crevasses of Zion, the lands under the purview of the National Park Service are unparalled in their beauty.

Outside of these parks, home to stunning vistas and breathtaking wonders, are “gateway” towns: small communities that cater to the annual crowds with charming hotels, greasy spoons, local culture and innovative museums that tell fascinating stories. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service, a nationwide celebration of America’s greatest natural resource, we have focused this fifth annual edition of our 20 Best Small Towns to Visit around the National Parks.

Each of these communities offer their own distinct and diverse histories, cultures, food and art—as well as happening to be close to the entrances to some of the United States’ most prized heritage locations.

To narrow down the numbers, we once again enlisted the help of the geographic information company Esri to sort the nation’s small towns (those with a population under 20,000) that were in driving range to a national park or a designated National Park Service location. This year’s list traverses all the way from a secluded Alaskan hamlet in the shadow of glaciers to a sunny harbor in the U.S. Virgin Island of St. John. Enjoy, and safe travels!

Ocean Springs

Ocean Springs has long cultivated a reputation for being a “gem on the gulf,” but its residents’ courage and resilience made the news after the town was caught in Hurricane Katrina’s devastating path in 2005. One Ocean Springs hotel manager helped saved 300 people in the flood, pulling them out of the water, and then feeding and housing them in the Gulf Hills Hotel until help finally arrived.

Today, Ocean Springs has rebuilt from the disaster, and tourists have flocked back to the city, which has the Gulf Islands National Seashore practically in its backyard.  The art scene in Ocean Springs rivals its outdoor sports scene, which is saying something as the bayou and the bay nearby offers idyllic boating, fishing and birding. Get to know Ocean Springs artists at the annual Peter Anderson Arts and Crafts Festival, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the area each November.

In 2013, Oceans Springs won the "Great American Main Street Award" for its character, charm and culinary scene. Stacks of restaurants line the streets of the historic city, serving up fresh seafood, such as crab cakes and jumbo shrimp. While options range from classic to contemporary fare, Aunt Jenny's Catfish Restaurant consistently pleases (and was once frequented by Elvis). But for pulled pork (and live blues), there's no better place than The Shed, which slow cooks its barbeque in pecan wood-burning smokers.

Today the town, which was first discovered in 1699 by French explorer Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, continues to embrace its French roots, playing host to the first of the large Mardis Gras parades to go through Mississippi in January.  

source: www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/20-best-small-towns-visit-2016-180958799/#tiEpFFGYiITYe4Ks.99
 

5 Good Reasons to Amend Your Tax Return — and How

By: Reyna Gobel

Published: January 12, 2016

Missed tax deduction? Overlooked tax credit? Get what’s coming to you by amending your return.

 

Your home is a great source of tax savings if you know what qualifies and don’t forget to claim deductions and credits. If you missed any of these five, you can go back in time — roughly two to three years — by amending your tax return. (Read more nitpicky details in How to Amend Your Tax Return.)

1. Home Office Deduction

If your home is your principal place of business, you can take a standard deduction or deduct a percentage of eligible home expenses like:

  • Utilities
  • Mortgage interest for the proportion of the house used as your office
  • Home repairs and maintenance

Forms you'll need to file an amendment:

  • 1040X
  • Form 8829 and Schedule A (if you're employed by someone else) for the year you’re amending
  • Schedule C (if you're self-employed) for the year you’re amending

2. Residential Energy Tax Credit

If you installed energy-efficiency improvements (like HVAC systems, insulation, a roof, windows) in in past years and didn’t take a tax credit for those upgrades, you may have missed out on up to $500.

My husband and I didn’t claim the energy tax credit for insulation we installed one year because we thought we’d get a better deal if we claimed the credit the next year when we planned to replace windows. But we never got around to replacing the windows. So we amended our return to claim the tax credit for the insulation and got a $500 tax credit.

Forms you need:

  • 1040X
  • Form 5695 for the year you’re amending

3. Home Improvement Sales Tax Deduction

If your state and local town doesn’t tax income, you can amend Schedule A to deduct state and local sales tax you paid. Say you added new siding for $10,000 and your state charged 6% in sales tax. That’s potentially a $600 deduction.

Use the IRS's online sales tax calculator to figure out the total sales tax you can deduct. Have the receipts to prove you paid the sales taxes.

Forms you need:

  • 1040x
  • Schedule A for the year you’re amending

4. Property Tax Deduction

Get a copy of your tax bill payment from the local tax office that collects the bill. Make sure you deduct the property tax expense on your amended return for the year you paid it, which could be different than the year it was due.

Forms you need:

  • 1040x
  • Schedule A for the year you’re amending

5. Home Repair Deduction

Red alert: You can’t claim deductions for any old home repair. There are only two narrow, possible ways to claim home repairs, and it's always best to check with a tax pro for your particular situation:

If part of your home is used for business and you aren't taking the standard deduction for your home office. You can only claim repairs made to your home office or claim a percentage of the repairs you make to the house as a whole, like repainting or patching a roof leak. If 10% of your home is office, you can deduct 10% of the repainting or patching. If the repair is to the office itself only, then the percentage generally does not apply.

Forms you need:

  • 1040X
  • Form 8829 and Schedule A (if you're employed by someone else) for the year you’re amending
  • Schedule C (if you're self-employed) for the year you’re amending

For casualty losses. Calculating and deducting casualty losses (disaster, damages, robbery) is complex. Everything from your income level to how you value your property can affect overlooked deductions. Besides placing a value on your personal property, you have to subtract a number of things from that, including insurance reimbursement and a percentage of your adjusted gross income. Read IRS Publication 547 and consult a tax adviser. Note that you can claim losses from federally declared disasters either in the year they occur or, if it's more favorable, on the preceding year's taxes.

Forms you need:

  • 1040X
  • Form 4684 for casualty and theft for the year you’re amending
  • Schedule A for the year you’re amending

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.