Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

See you at the closing!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Can Home Renovations Raise Tax Bills?

Some Home Renovations Can Raise Tax Bills

Home owners tackling a remodeling project may want to consider how their renovations could impact what they pay on their taxes. Renovations can increase a home’s assessed value, and assessed value is used to determine the property tax owners pay.

In general, however, additions and increasing living space tend to increase an owners’ property taxes. Also, finishing space that the owner already has, such as in the attic, garage, or basement, also tend to increase the property tax bill.
The improvements that can increase a property’s reassessment can vary considerably by location. Home owners may be wise to ask their city in advance how a certain improvement might impact their home’s assessed value, if they want to avoid surprises later on.
“Anything that increases the square footage of the living space is likely to increase the value of the home, and therefore the assessed value,” says Tom Shaer, deputy assessor for communications with the Cook County Assessor’s Office.
Also, large renovations – such as adding a bathroom – likely will prompt a reassessment of a home too. That’s because an “additional bathroom allows more people to live in the house,” therefore increasing its value, says Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, a pro-taxpayer lobbying group.
Kitchen renovations can be one gray area, says Michael Kapp, public information officer for the Los Angeles County assessor’s office.
“If they’re replacing countertops and not extending them, it would probably not [trigger a reassessment],” Kapp says. “If they add additional cabinets or move a wall, for example, that would trigger reassessment,” even if the square footage does not increase.
Some owners may be surprised at what will trigger a reassessment. For example, adding a garden shed could potentially trigger a reassessment, Sepp says. Also, in-ground pools, a very large deck, or even re-grading the lot to improve its drainage could potentially increase the property tax bill too.

Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

See you at the closing!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Spread the Word to Police Officers, Firefighter, Emergency medical clients:

Half-Priced Homes from HUD: What to Know

Spread the word to your teacher, police officer, firefighter, and emergency medical clients: There’s a program that they can use to buy homes at half the cost.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) sponsored-housing program called Good Neighbor Next Door is a little publicized program that allows police officers, teachers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians to purchase some homes at half the purchase price. The program discounts of HUD-owned foreclosure properties in areas that are earmarked for revitalization. 
The home prices of the HUD properties are cut in half, but buyers must be able to qualify for a loan equal to the full price of the property. To be eligible, the buyers must agree to live in the home for at least three years and the buyers must not have owned any other residential property within the previous year.
HUD also requires purchasers to sign a “silent second” mortgage for the amount that the property was discounted. The buyers won’t pay on the interest or payment on that second mortgage as long as they live in the property for the three years. At that point then, the second mortgage note is disregarded, says Kevin Kelly, a listing broker for HUD homes in the Buffalo, N.Y., area.
Buyers can search for eligible properties in their local area at
If multiple buyers come forward on a property, HUD will select the winner at random in a lottery, Kelly says. If no buyers come forward for a property, the home is then offered at full price to any buyer, as long as they agree to become an owner-occupant.
The program is a “phenomenal opportunity” for first-time buyers, says Warren Foley, a real estate professional who specializes in HUD listings in the St. Petersburg, Fla. area.
“It’s never been a huge program,” since it is limited to certain areas, Brian Sullivan, a HUD spokesman, told The New York Times. Also, the numbers of listings have dwindled in recent years as HUD’s stock of foreclosure properties has declined, he notes.
Source: “HUD Homes at Half Price,” The New York Times (Nov. 27, 2015)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Have a Wonderful Christmas Eve

Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

See you at the closing!

Interior Painting Tips

4 Interior Painting Tips

Painting is a quick and easy way to liven up a listing. But some smart prep work can make a huge difference in the quality of the results.
1. Are you ready
You want the paint to glide on smoothly, so be sure the surface is clean before you start painting. Remove any handprints, dirt, or scuff marks. Lightly sand any glossy spots to avoid streaks.
2. Select a paint sheen and color.
Ah, the choices! Many paint stores are making it easier to narrow down your choices by offering small trial sizes so that you can test the color at home and look for any variations in daylight and night. Lighting has a big effect on the way color appears. Remember: Higher sheen paints tend to offer more durability than flat paints, so use them in high-traffic areas. Stain or low-lustre finishes offer more warmth and depth than a flat paint. Consider a high sheen paint on the ceiling, which offers good reflection in the room.
3. Don’t go cheap on the paint.
It’s always tempting to save a buck, but it might not be worth it on paint. Painting is a big job, so you want the expense and quality to show. The Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute, a national painting education group, recommends purchasing top-quality acrylic latex interior paint, which will go on smoothly and allow for easy soap and water cleanups.
4. Choose the right paint tools.
If you’re using a roller to paint, select the right length of roller nap cover for proper paint coverage. The smoother your painting surface, the shorter the nap should be. Use synthetic materials, which are made from nylon or polyester, when applying latex or water-based paints.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Remodeling is a Commitment

Remodeling your kitchen is a huge commitment. Make sure you’re getting the best return by making choices that’ll last. Here are 9 trends with staying power.

DIY kitchen remodel navigation bar
Your kitchen is the one place where you want to be really careful about trendy choices. The last thing you want is a kitchen that’s out of sync in just a few years simply because you followed a trend. Instead, look at the trends in terms of the value they bring to your life and your home.
Here are nine trends that are popular now, but have staying power because they address lifestyle needs, convenience, and savings — ensuring you’ll enjoy your kitchen for many years.

1.  Love White? You Won’t Go Wrong

It’s hard to believe that white kitchens could get any more popular. But the preference for white cabinets continues to soar. Sixty-seven percent of National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) members said that white is their top choice for cabinets, a 20% climb from two years ago. And layering white on white — white backsplashes beneath white cabinets on white countertops — was spotlighted in the 2014 Best in American Living Awards presented by the National Association of Home Builders.

Whirlpool’s White Ice collection, with its glass-like glossy sheen, is being hailed as the first appliance exterior to rival stainless steel. 

White appliances are so much easier to keep clean than stainless, which smudges if you as much as look at it. Plus, the new icy look is simple, cool, and able to blend into transitional and contemporary styles.

And since stainless has filtered down to the masses, it no longer has that expensive and exclusive cache it once had. But white will always have staying power.

Related: Why White Kitchens Stand the Test of Time

2.  Want Color? Go for Neutral Gray
Grey kitchen with yellow bar stoolsImage: Beautiful Protest

The popularity of sleek, sophisticated gray color schemes is soaring. Seventy-one percent of NKBA designers said gray is the fastest-growing color scheme for kitchens in 2014.

But gray can be tricky. In cold, cloudy climates, gray can appear frozen unless you use it on warm materials like wood cabinets, or pair it with hot colors likes reds and yellows. On the other hand, gray can appear pleasantly cool in sunny, hot climates — a breath of fresh air in heat and humidity.  So while white kitchens are a safe bet, gray is neutral enough — and close enough to white — to have staying power if you use it well.

Related: Wild Kitchen Colors, Practical Approaches
3.  Embrace Smaller Appliances

Small is big these days. Micro-living is taking off for millennials and retirees. Owners of multigenerational homes are installing tiny, secondary kitchens for returning adult children and elderly parents.

Typically, these micro-kitchens feature a two-burner cooktop, combo microwave/convection oven, 18-inch dishwasher, and 60-inch fridge or refrigerator drawer.

GE, in fact, is developing an entire kitchen the size of a 6-foot-wide chest of drawers. The $15,000 unit — hey, small isn’t necessarily cheap — contains an induction cooktop, two ovens, a sink, a dishwasher, and two cooling drawers that can function as a fridge or freezer.

Related: Cool and Cute! Tiny Appliances for Tight Spaces

4.  Choose Quartz Counters Over Granite
In 2013, quartz and granite almost tied in countertop popularity. But in 2014, the trend is definitely toward quartz.

“Consumers Reports” says quartz is the toughest countertop material, which resists scratches, burns, and chips. Crushed quartz stone is mixed with resin to produce countertops that range from solid colors to the look of real granite, but they’ll beat natural stone in toughness. It’s easy to maintain, and unlike granite, you don’t have to seal it annually to prevent stains.

Related: Which Durable Countertop is Best for Your Kitchen?

5.  Invest in LEDs
Kitchen with LED lightsImage: Inspired LED

Ribbons of LEDs are showing up in the weirdest — and most wonderful — kitchen places: Along toe kicks as nightlights; on the inside of cabinet doors to show off grandma’s china; concealed in crown molding to wash ceilings with light.

LED rope or cove lights are gaining in popularity because:
  • LEDs come in a rainbow of colors, from bright to soft white, red, blue, and green.
  • You can get creative about where you install them.
  • LEDs emit virtually no heat, so you can keep them on forever without burning cabinets or walls.
  • LEDs are energy efficient, lasting 50,000 hours on average — five times longer than CFLs.
And they’re coming down in price, making them more affordable for the average homeowner than they were a few years ago.

Related: LEDs: Here’s How to Get the Most For Your Money

6.  Rethink Your Fridge
Under-counter U-Line refrigeratorImage: U-Line / Photography: Douglas Johnson

Refrigeration is no longer limited to a single, hulking unit. Homeowners are customizing their cooling needs with “point of use” refrigeration, adding cool where they need it.

That could mean adding a counter-height produce fridge in your prep island, next to a wine cooler for the adults, and a juice/soda fridge for the kids.

Don’t think we’re talking about dorm-fridge quality and prices. U-Line point-of-use refrigerators, for example, offer (depending on the model) 11 shelf positions, full-extension slide-out bins, and five food and beverage settings labeled deli, market, pantry, root cellar and beverage. Units typically sell for $2,500 to $4,000.

7.  Install a Touch-Activated Faucet
The Delta Cassidy is a touch-activated kitchen faucetImage: Delta Faucet Company

Touch-activated faucets are bursting out the fad category into the kitchen must-have column. In fact, in 2013 their popularity jumped to 30% from 20% the year before.

On the face of it, touch-activated seems a little gimmicky, and with prices starting around $350, it’s certainly a lot of money. But it’s great for those times when you’ve got dirty, chicken-goopy hands, and for those in your household who refuse to turn water on and off between tasks because it’s too much hassle. And as water becomes scarcer, anything that saves gallons will have value — and save you on your water bills.

A reason we recommend touch free over hands-free: As you know from public bathrooms with hands-free activiated faucets, they’ll often turn on when you don’t want them to and not turn on when you do.
Related: High-Tech Kitchen Faucet: A Hip, Smart Retrofit

8.  Stick with Transitional Design

More than 60% of NKBA designers say contemporary, with its sleek simplicity, is the fastest-growing kitchen style. Fussy doodads and decorative and distressed glazes are out.

Contemporary looks sleek and clean, but can also come across as cold. The design encourages a non-cluttered look, which can be hard to maintain in a busy home. So it’s better to hedge your bets with transitional design, which combines contemporary and traditional to exploit the best parts of each.

9.  Embrace Accessibility Because It’ll Make Your Life Easier
Bosch side open ovenImage: Bosch Home Appliances

Aging in place is a big snore — until you get to that age when the right modifications will allow you to stay in your home. And since a large part of the population is reaching retirement age, accessibility finally is catching on — even with homeowners who aren’t intentionally seeking those features. Why? Because the designs make so much sense.

It’s not a trend that’s going away. The NKBA’s 2014 survey shows that 56% of designers specified accessible/universal design features in kitchens during 2013, and most believe they’ll add more and more features in the years to come.

Three here-to-stay trends:

1. Side-opening ovens at counter height: You don’t have to reach up or bend down to fetch your turkey, just comfortably slide it out. It’s one of those slap-your-forehead tweaks that make cooking so much more ergonomic and accessible for everyone.

2. Drawers with deep pockets: Base cabinets have evolved from back-bending storage for pots and pans to deep drawer space — typically 24 inches deep — that can hold just about everything in your kitchen.

Continuing that evolution — heck, let’s call a revolution — are deep drawer organizers, ranging from $7 to more than $200, that make sure everything stays in its place, rather than rumble around in chaos. You can customize drawers with:
  • Slots to hold plates and store knives
  • Dividers to keep your water bottles separate from your vinegar collection
  • Stackable trays that keep utensils away from flatware
  • Removable boxes that let you reorganize the drawers at will
3. Microwave drawers: Just like the side-opening oven, by installing the microwave below counter height in a drawer, it’s easier for everyone to use. Just open it up put your food inside, close, and start it. That’s better than above-oven height, which has been the typical location for many years.

Read more:
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Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

See you at the closing!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Do Renters Desire These Amenities?

What Amenities Do Renters Most Desire?

Renters are fairly practical when it comes to what they most desire in their apartments. Among a variety of options, they rate high-speed Internet access as their most important amenity.

“Magnificent clubhouses and media rooms may look great on tours, for both prospective residents and equity investors, but they often don't get used as much as you'd think,” says Jay Denton, senior vice president for research and analytics for apartment data firm Axiometrics.
A new survey from the National Multifamily Housing Council and Kingsley Associates reveals the amenities that renters want most and are willing to pay for. The survey is based on responses from nearly 120,000 apartment dwellers.
Instead, here are renters' most-desired amenities:
  1. Fast Internet access
  2. Parking
  3. Walk-in closets
  4. Soundproof walls
  5. Private outdoor spaces, such as patios or a balcony
  6. Washer/dryer in unit
  7. Microwave
  8. Refrigerator water/ice dispenser
Still, four out of five residents also said they were interested in pools as an amenity in their building, and they are willing to pay extra to have one, too. “It's all about an extra place to hang out with your friends,” says Denton. “I’ve seen more cabanas and other gathering spots near the pool so that it has some functionality during the winter.”
What’s more, location is another important element for renters. More than half of residents surveyed say they prefer to live within walking distance of a grocery store or a neighborhood restaurant. “Being near shopping, retail, and restaurants is a huge amenity,” says Denton.

Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

See you at the closing!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

What is your Snowman Name?

Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

See you at the closing!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Selling your Home During the Winter Month ~ Unexpected Benefits.

Selling Your Home This Christmas? 3 Unexpected Benefits

If you’ve got a home on the market right now, it can leave you feeling like the Grinch stole your Christmas. Everyone knows spring’s the season for selling.  And working home showings into a busy holiday schedule is like trying to shove a 20-foot tree into your living room.
Competition Dries Up
Come spring, sellers will flood the market, and your home will be just another fish in a great big pond. But right now, you’ve practically got the market to yourself.
“Very few homes come on the market in December and January, so you’ve got serious buyers who just pounce on homes as soon as they hit the market,” If your home is priced right and within the Buyers price range, you should be getting some showing activity. You’d be surprised at how many of these homes sell in a week, during these winter months.
In fact, a recent study of 19 metropolitan cities showed that homes listed in winter were more likely to sell within six months and spent fewer days on the market compared to homes listed in other seasons. Even in frigid climates like Boston, Wisconsin and  Chicago, winter sellers got better results than those who listed any other time of year.
Of course, every market is different, so ask be sure to ask your agent.
Most folks want to curl up under a blanket next to a warm fire on a cold winter day. If a buyer’s trudging around in freezing weather to look at your home, they must be serious. That’s because many winter buyers are working against a deadline, whether it’s an expiring lease, relocation, or a contract on their current home.
So does that mean you have to send guests packing every time you get a call for a showing? If they ask to look at your home in the middle of a family gathering, it’s okay to say no. Serious buyers will come back the exception is if there’s a serious buyer who’s in town during the holidays to look for houses because it’s their time off,”

A good agent will set proper expectations with the buyer’s agent if your home isn’t picture-perfect for a last-minute showing. They’ll also let you know if and when they’ll be out of pocket and which agent will handle your listing during that time so holiday opportunities don’t pass you by.

Candy Sleighs that Make Great Gifts

CHRISTMAS CANDY fun & easy to make!

Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

See you at the closing!

Friday, December 11, 2015

11 Things People With Spotless Houses Do Every Day

Shoes are not allowed past the front door in Danielle Lackey's Carrollton, VA, home. "I have three children who frequently play on the floor. Our shoes carry germs and dirt!" Her family knows the rule by now, and a cute wooden sign in the entryway alerts guests, so she doesn't have to.


Before she even thinks about leaving the house for the day, Amy Bell, makes the bed. "Even if the rest of the room isn't picture-perfect, a neat bed instantly makes the whole space look pulled together," the Cary, NC, mom says.


"We squeegee the shower door after every shower to prevent water spots and grime," says Deanne Goodman, 33, from Oceanside, CA. "It only takes about 20 seconds, and it keeps the glass looking clear and bright." Her go-to tool? This All-Purpose Squeegee> ($7,


Blogger Traci Hutcherson keeps a container of wipes (baby wipes work just fine) under her sink. "Just pull out a wipe and give the sink a quick cleaning." Try it and you'll never have to look at toothpaste dribbles again!


"I wipe down our kitchen counters nightly with a homemade solution — one part vinegar, three parts water and a squirt of almond oil dish soap — that I store in a spray bottle," says blogger Camilla Fabbri. "The vinegar cuts through grease and also does a great job clearing up the smudges on our stainless appliances."


Blogger Chelsea Morhman never likes to go to bed with a dirty kitchen. The trick is cleaning up while she cooks. "If I have something in the oven, I wipe down counter tops and wash dishes while I wait for it to finish," she says. "I try to have almost everything cleaned up by the time dinner is ready, so that all we have to do after dinner is stick our dirty dishes in the dishwasher."


Mary Beth Cooper from Peoria, IL, spends seven minutes (give or take) every night Swiffering her way through the downstairs rooms. A quick pass prevents dust bunnies from taking over the house.


Before bed, Fabbri gets everyone to pitch in for a quick tidying up session. The family of four picks up the dog toys, puts away the mail, hangs up jackets and puts items back in their place. "With everyone helping, it usually takes less than five minutes, and I feel so much better when I come downstairs in the morning and the house is organized."


Almost every master bedroom has one chair that starts off empty on Monday and is covered with clothes by Friday. Unless you follow this daily tip from Debra Johnson, a home cleaning expert from Merry Maids: "Before you go to bed, put dirty clothes in the hamper or re-hang clean ones in the closet. And in the morning, fold your pajamas and store them in their proper place."


"I throw open the front and the back door to air out the house every day, even just for a few minutes if it's cold outside," says Sherry Petersik, who, along with her husband, wrote the upcoming book Lovable Livable Home. "It helps to fight off stale air — or any random lingering odors from dinner — and it makes the house feel fresh and breezy."


Another easy one! Blogger Jeanne Oliver knows that the entire house will never be clean and organized at the same time — especially three kids' rooms. "I've come to accept that and I just shut their doors," she says. "If the main floor is tidy and I can just close off the mess, I'm likely to invite people over more."
From: Country Living

Contact Stacey Guzanick 262.490.3696,   RE/MAX Realty Center,  if you have questions about buying a house or selling one.

I can  guide you  toward your next home.

See you at the closing!

From: Country Living