Owning a Home is Important to All Generations

All generations agree that homeownership is an important piece of the American Dream, but there are still many people who are unsure of how to achieve that dream in today’s market. Let’s get together to get you on the right path and to talk about how you can achieve your American Dream in our market today!

Kim Billings 214-794-9738 http://www.kimbillings.com

#dfwrealestate #dfwrealtor #home #realestate #dallas #plano #allen #frisco #mckinney

 

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Don’t Fall for these Home Selling Myths

When it comes time to sell your house, you’ll quickly learn that there are a lot of different opinions floating around. While some of the advice you’ll get from friends, family, and coworkers about selling may be good, you may also hear some of these classic home selling myths:

  1. If your home is stylish, you don’t need to stage it. Staging isn’t just to bring dated houses into style or to get cluttered houses clean. Instead, the goal is to create a home that any potential buyer can see themselves in and to highlight the best features of your house.
  2. You know what your home is worth. It’s easy to believe that you know better than anyone what your home is worth. After all, you know your home inside and out — and you’ve read the online estimates! Unfortunately, that’s a mistake: Home valuation should be left to the professionals. It’s literally their job!
  3. Price high so you have negotiating room. Sounds logical, right? But actually, pricing too high can stop interested shoppers from even considering your home. In general, the longer your home is on the market, the lower your average offer will be. Instead, pricing accurately is more likely to draw the right buyers to the table and bring good offers quickly.
  4. Big renovations will increase your sale price. Don’t start on that full kitchen remodel just yet! Small updates, like replacing faucets and lighting fixtures, tend to have a higher impact on your home’s value. And they’re inexpensive.

So how do you tell the bad advice from the good? That’s where the fifth myth comes in: The myth that you don’t need a real estate agent! It’s true that you can sell your house on your own… but should you? Not only does a real estate agent have the training and education to guide you through the complicated process of selling, but they also have access to resources and connections that you don’t. With the right expert at your side, you’ll be choosing between great offers in no time!

Kim Billings  214-794-9738

http://www.kimbillings.com

The October Events in DFW You Don’t Want to Miss

Riley Heruska – BubbleLife Staff

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Can you believe October is already here? It seems like we were rounding up the best events in September just a few days ago. This month, we’re all about good food, live music, and in honor of Halloween, some thrilling scares. Check out some of the following events to see if there are any you should be adding to your calendar.

The State Fair of Texas (Now Until October 21) 

The biggest fair in the state opened its doors last weekend, and they’ll stay open for 20 more days until October 21. Don’t miss the opportunity to gorge yourself on fried food and check out some of the fair’s newest attractions. Tickets are now available online, and if you click here, you can learn how to save a little on admission. 

Autumn at the Arboretum (Now Until November 21)

No doubt you’ve already seen pictures of the famous Pumpkin Village littered throughout your social media feed. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden has created a nationally-acclaimed display that incorporates more than 90,000 pumpkins, gourds and squash. This year, the theme is “The Adventures in Neverland.” Admission to the autumnal exhibit is free with your ticket to the gardens. 

Six Flags Over Texas – Fright Fest: Fright by Night (Select Nights October 5 – 31)

Whether you’re hoping to ride some scream-inducing roller coasters or let creepy villains do the trick, Six Flags is the place to be if you want to be scared this Halloween. Their Fright Fest event transforms the park into a spine-chilling experience, complete with roaming ghouls and other terrors. You can buy a daily admission pass to the event online, plus a haunted house pass, for $92. 

Dark Hour Haunted House (October 5 – 31)

It’s that time of year again. Dark Hour in Plano has opened for the Halloween season once more with Coven Manor, a land haunted by various witches and their nightmarish powers. You might also run into Carl Cleaver, who runs a children’s pizza parlor that’s way creepier than it should be. Dark Hour opens this Friday at 7:00 PM and will be bringing the scares until Halloween evening, so get your tickets whenever you’re ready to shriek in terror. 

Taylor Swift in Concert (October 5 – 6)

This queen of pop music will be hitting the AT&T Stadium stage TWICE in two days this coming week. Her current tour, Reputation, is supporting her newest album and features Charli XCX and Camilla Cabello. Although affordable tickets will probably be difficult to come by this late in the game, it’s worth looking for some if you’re desperate to see Taylor live. 

Plano Food and Wine Festival (October 6)

This weekend, stop by the Shops at Willow Bend to sip fine wine, sample delicious foods and listen to live music. This event will feature hundreds of different wines, as well as culinary demonstrations, grape stomping, and of course, plenty of shopping. What better way is there to spend a relaxing Saturday in autumn? Get your tickets online today. 

Reindeer Manor Halloween Park (Now Until October 31)

Less than 20 minutes from Downtown Dallas lie not one but four haunted attractions that can kick-start your Halloween scares. Attend a “killer” party at a Gothic-themed mansion, explore a creepy mortuary, immerse yourself in a bewitching arcade game or avoid murderous clowns in a dark house. The attractions are open now and will welcome guests until Halloween evening. Tickets for one attractionstart at $15 for adults and $10 for children.

Plano Steinfest 
(October 19 – 20)

For the fourth year in a row, Downtown Plano is hosting an Oktoberfest-style event full of great beer and food. Bring the whole family and dance to polka music as you drink and eat. You can also shop at the 40 Marktplatz vendors and join in fun contests. To learn about volunteering at the festival or buying VIP ticket packages, click here

The Rocky Horror Show by The North Texas Performing Arts Repertory Theatre (Select Dates Starting October 18)

If you’ve never seen this show live before, this is the one to check out. A stage full of acting veterans will bring the musical to life with impressive costumes and plenty of audience interaction. You’ll laugh and sing along as Brad and Janet are forced to reevaluate everything they thought they knew about themselves. Catch the show on the weekends of October 18-20 or October 15-27. 

Ed Sheeran in Concert (October 27)

One of the biggest names in popular music, Ed Sheeran, will be gracing the stage at the AT&T Stadium this month. Sing along to live versions of your favorite songs like Thinking Out Loud and Galway Girl while you watch this red-headed superstar entertain thousands of fans. Tickets are already limited, so act quickly if you’re interested. 

Post Malone Presents Posty Fest (October 28)

We might as well refer to 2018 as the “Year of Post Malone” since his songs have hit the top charts so much. At the end of this month, the megastar will be hosting a day-long musical extravaganza with performances by Travis Scott, Tyler the Creator, and others. He’ll also be singing some of his most popular tunes, so join in the fun and support his newest album, Beerbongs & Bentleys. 

Which of these October events are you going to check out? 

The Gelato Cone Coming to Downtown Plano

Downtown Plano is about to get a little sweeter with the opening of The Gelato Cone, an artisanal and all-natural gelato shop.

Mustafa Efendiler grew up in Macedonia in the family ice cream business, then moved with his family in 1956 to continue their business in Turkey for about 60 years. Mustafa had a dream to expand the business to the United States, so he moved to Texas to start a business under The Gelato Cone name, along with his partner, Selim Senocak.

The Gelato Cone is currently under local ownership but they are in the works of transitioning to a franchise style of business. There is already a Gelato Cone located in Dallas and in Allen, and they have plans to expand to McKinney and Frisco in the second quarter of 2019.

The shop offers over 50 total flavors of gelato and sorbet, rotating 24 flavors at a time. Some of the flavors offered are Special Pistachio, Coconut, Cookies, Nutella Crunch, Milk OCena, Peanut and Banana. They also offer several dairy-free options like Dark Chocolate, Mango, Red Berries and Peach.

Fresh waffle cones are made daily in all locations, ensuring a delicious aroma in the shop.

Stack of gelato // courtesy The Gelato Cone
Stack of gelato // courtesy The Gelato Cone

In addition to providing gelato and sorbet, a variety of smoothies are offered, such as Mango-Banana-Pineapple Splash, Pomegranate-Banana and Chocolate-Banana-Peanut Butter.

The Gelato Cone is unique in the sense that their all-natural gelato does not contain any cream, butter, syrup, artificial ingredients or preservatives. They only use whole milk, real sugar, fresh fruit and other premium ingredients. Due to the healthier ingredients, each scoop ranges between 77-120 calories and the flavors are more intense.

The Gelato Cone plans to open at 1005 E. 15th Street next door to the A.R. Schell building by mid-October.

 

http://planomagazine.com/gelato-cone-downtown-plano/

Is There a Shift Happening in the Real Estate Market?

Housing inventory is up year-over-year for the first time in three years which means that home price appreciation will likely begin to slow. If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, now is still a great time! Let’s get together today to go over what this shift in the market means for you.

Kim Billings 214-794-9738

#dfwrealestate #realestate #dfwrealtor #forsale #homesweethome #dallas #texas #plano #allen #frisco #mckinney #collincounty

 

Changes to U.S. Real Estate Tax Deductions for 2018

As a homeowner, or soon to be homeowner, you can get some pretty sweet tax deductions from things related to your home. Some tend to change from year to year, like those for energy-efficient upgrades, others are pretty stable, like being able to deduct mortgage interest.

The tax bill that will be in force in the up and coming tax season, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), has made some fairly dramatic changes to how many homeowners will file their taxes this year. Take a look at this preview of home-related points to ponder for your 2018 tax filings.

TCJA Items to Watch in 2018

When the TCJA was pushed through Congress in December 2017, many people were up in arms. The overhaul, they said, was going to be problematic for a number of reasons, which, we’ll see how that pans out. It does seem that when it comes to real estate, the TCJA is going to be a pretty prickly thorn in a lot of property owners’ sides.

These are the top items you’ll want to pay close attention to this year:

Item #1: SALT

The state and local tax deduction (SALT) is set to be a problem for homeowners in high-tax areas. In the past, you could claim an unlimited amount of already-paid personal state and local income taxes, as well as your property taxes, as a deduction to offset your tax bill. From now until 2025, you’ll only be able to use your Schedule A to itemize $5,000 worth of these taxes if you’re single or married filing separately and $10,000 for married filing jointly.

This looks like a bear of an issue for many people in those high tax areas on both coasts, but for some, the increase of the standard deduction to $12,000 for singles or $24,000 for couples may balance the equation.

Item #2: Your Mortgage Interest Deduction

If your home was purchased after December 14, 2017, you will be subject to the new limits on mortgage interest deductions. Instead of being able to deduct the interest on up to a $1,000,000 mortgage, you’ll be capped at the interest on only $750,000. Now, if you’re in the less spendy parts of the US, you probably don’t need to worry about this at all, but again, for those of you on the coasts where real estate prices are often hugely inflated by comparison, it may make a weighty difference.

According to a Zillow report published shortly after the TCJA passed, “Under the current setup [Pre-TCJA], roughly 44 percent of U.S. homes are worth enough for it to make sense for a homeowner to itemize their deductions and take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction.Under the new bill (as reported), that proportion of homes drops to 14.4 percent. Interest on second/vacation homes will remain deductible, but will also be capped at $750,000.”

Item #2B: Home Equity Loan Interest Deductions

This one is being called out specifically because of the number of people who are likely to be affected by it. If you purchased a home at any time and took out a home equity loan, you may lose your deduction this year. The TCJA says that unless your home equity loan was used for home improvements, it’s no longer allowed.

There is no grandfathering for this clause, you are paying for decisions you made in the past, not knowing this bill would become a law.

How the IRS will be able to verify how you spent your funds, especially if the loan is 10 or 15 years old, is anyone’s guess.

Item #3: Gains From Home Sales Still Protected

Despite all the new rules that are taking deductions away, the home sale gain exclusion remains. You’ll still be able to exclude up to $250,000 ($500k for married filing jointly) of gain from a home you’ve owned and used as a primary residence for at least two of the last five years. So, you’ve got that going for you.

Taxes and Real Estate: A Tricky Mix

When you’re ready to start discussing your own tax situation, let me know and I will connect you with top notch accpountantss and tax preparers that can answer your burning questions.

 

Kim Billings 214-794-9738

How Do I Unclog Household Drains?

So there you are, minding your own business while having a shave over the bathroom sink, when you see it. The water. It’s not draining. And your sink is threatening to overflow. You turn off the faucet and consider your options. Option 1: You freak out and start screaming. Option 2: You find a useful blog much like this one and learn how to handle a drain clog on your own.

Your Basic Clog-Clearing Toolkit

Depending on the age of your home and the type of pipes in your plumbing system, any of these items may be useful to keep around the house:

Rubber gloves. There’s a lot of fairly gross stuff that could be causing your clog. You really don’t want to touch that. Trust us on this.
Pipe wrench. When your sink trap is the source of the clog, this is all you need.
Bucket. Buckets are good for many things, including bailing out tubs and keeping clogged drains from dripping all over when you take them apart.
Hand plunger. These tiny plungers are great for sinks and tubs. Make sure you have caps for any double sinks in your house to help you create a strong vacuum..
Manual auger. When the going gets tough, or your drain is clogged a little bit deeper than a plunger can handle, sending an auger into the pipe can help you get things moving again. The longer the auger’s line, the further you can reach. Some are even made to hook to a power drill, giving you a little extra torque.

What’s not on this list, you may notice, is a chemical drain cleaner. There are several reasons for this. First, chemical drain cleaners can also cause pipes to corrode from the inside. When that happens, bits of rust can break off over time and cause a really hard clog that’s impossible to remove on your own. Secondly, if you do need to call in a pro, or you get fiesty and want to give the drain another go, the standing water will be caustic. You seriously don’t want that.

Time to Get To the Drains!

Clearing a drain is a pretty simple process. You can approach most drains in this order:

Step 1: Remove any drain covers or plugs.
Step 2: Use a flashlight to look inside the upper part of the drain. If you see hair or other debris plugging the way, put on gloves and pull it out. For stuff that’s really stuck, try a pair of needle nose pliers to get a better grip.
Step 3: If you don’t see anything immediately clogging the drain, open the trap and clear it out with a burst of water from another faucet that doesn’t drain using that particular trap.
Step 4: Nothing in the trap? Take the manual auger and feed it into the drain with the trap still detached, going into the wall. You’ll be flying blind here, so go slow and easy. Keep feeding the line until you meet the obstruction or run out of line. When you do find the clog, you will be able to punch a hole in it by rotating the feed line rapidly. Once the feed line moves smoothly, withdraw it from the drain line.
Step 5: Put everything back together and test the drain line by running the water again.

Did you succeed? If so, hooray!

If you still have standing water, you have a few options. You can plunge your heart out in hopes that you can move the clog along. You can also try repeating the steps above in case there is a clog deeper in the drain that you just missed.

This technique will work for most types of household drains, though those encased in cement or that drain up from a basement are a lot more complicated and will probably require a pro to unclog.

Drains can be incredibly frustrating to clear. Take your time and be thorough, that way you don’t have to keep going back into the drain.

Drain Problems Gotcha Down?

Whether your drain issue is complicated, it’s inside a floor or you just really don’t want to deal with it on your own, we can help you find plumbers and handymen. You know they’re gonna be great because your agent works with them regularly and is familiar with their high quality workmanship.

 

Kim Billings 214-794-9738