3 Tax Tips for Homeowners Looking Ahead to 2010 Returns

3 Tax Tips for Homeowners Looking Ahead to 2010 Returns

Speaking of taxes, here are some more tax tips for homeowners getting ready for 2010 returns. Never fun, but always necessary. 1. Claim remaining energy tax credits It’s time to get cracking if you didn’t exhaust your full allotment of residential energy tax credits during 2009. Although tax credits for big projects like residential wind turbines and solar energy systems have no upper limit and are good through 2016, energy tax credits capped at $1,500 expire at the end of 2010. Eligible capped projects include new windows and doors, insulation, roofing, water heaters, HVAC, and biomass stoves. Here’s how it works with capped federal credits: You can earn energy tax credits worth 30% of the cost of qualifying improvements, but the total tax credits can’t exceed $1,500 combined for 2009 and 2010. So if you only took, say, $700 worth of capped energy credits on your 2009 tax return, you’re still due for another $800 in credits in 2010. Some projects include the cost of installation–a furnace, for example–while others, such as insulation, are limited to the cost of materials. 2. Max out tax benefits of a vacation home Use a vacation home wisely, and it’ll provide a break from taxes as well as the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The rules on tax deductions for vacation homes can get a bit tricky, but understanding and adhering to them can yield many happy tax returns. If your vacation home is truly a vacation home meant for your personal enjoyment, as opposed to a rental-only income property, you can usually deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes, just as...

Taxes Will Not be Due on April 15, 2011 – Nuff Said

Taxes will not be due on April 15, 2011? The federal return deadline will be Monday April 18th because this year, Emancipation Day is being celebrated on April 15th one day early because the 16th falls on Saturday. So Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 and we can celebrate and then write...

Hillside Intervention – Bare Slopes to Beautiful

Tired of ugly bare approaches and muddy hillside curbs? Try a little creative intervention. If you live in the hills and like many of us drive by the same streets with bare slopes year in and year out you may be missing a wonderful opportunity in these weeks of heavy rain. Seeds, cuttings and clean up can be so much easier when the ground is wet. Birds host many plants but neighbors who want to improve the appearance of an area or curb can also be hosts. I am not suggesting trespassing however tossing ground cover and seeds can create some pretty special effects as we move into spring. Natives are so hillside friendly and drought tolerant. A complete list of them can be found at www.theodorepayne.org.  Have fun and improve your street, and as Martha Stewart would proclaim, “it’s a good...

365 Things Do In LA – New Years Eve in Los Angeles – 10 Restaurants to Choose From

It’s that’s time again. Time to figure out what to do for New Years. I don’t know about you, but every year it seems a trial to figure out what to do. High expectations, big crowds and lots of money are always part of the agenda. Why do we make such a big deal of this seemingly painful night…because we are are a hopeful group who loves to celebrate the joy and pain of the past as much as we love to celebrate the blank slate of a brand new year. 2010 has been a tough one so I think we’re all ready to move forward. So what to do, what to do? If I’m not at a house party or dinner party, how bout a fun dinner at restaurants. Here are 10 options that might be of interest to you. Make your ressies before it’s too late! It’s not even Christmas, and these places are filling up! Akasha: One of my faves – organic, local and great libations. Live jazz and Singapore Supper Club theme will make this a great night. 310.845.1700 AOC: Hit the buffet, of course, when this upscale restaurant goes to Vegas, baby! To reserve a table call (323) 653-6359 Chaya: Venice, Beverly Hills and Downtown are all having prix-fix menus. Beverly Hills is doing Roaring Twenties and Downtown is doing Shanghai Nights. Lucques: Hit up this classy joint for their prix-fix version of a Luau dinner. (323) 655-6277 Rivera: While there’s no theme here or fun music, I love Mexican food taken to the next level and they are offering a prix-fix menu. Check...

365 Things To Do in Los Angeles – Real Snow for the Kiddies on December 26 and 27

Well the rain seems like it’s finally over, but of course down here in LA it’s pretty rare to get snow that’s why #48 in 365 Things to Do in Los Angeles is so great! December 26 and 27th you only have to take your kids to Pasadena and they’ll experience real snow! This year Kidspace Museum will hold its third annual Snow Days. The museum brings in 30 tons of snow from local mountains in order to transform the it into a winter wonderland. So arrive early and bring some gloves! Lots of snowball fights and snowman building to be had! Want to hear about more things to do? Like our page on Facebook – 365 Things to Do In Los Angeles. Learn about something new almost every...

Property Deal of the Week – West Hollywood Townhouse

Steal a piece of history….Listed in July 2010 for $995,000 and now reduced to $599,000 (no I am not dyslexic).  It’s a Short Sale so the bank gets the last word, but roughly $300/sf makes this a terrific buy in Weho. This 1920’s Vintage courtyard building is situated in the heart of West Hollywood. It’s loaded with tons of charm & original architectural details and feels like a private home. Windows on three sides and only one common wall this 3 bedroom, 3 bath town home is in better than move-in condition. The home features a lovely private patio, a functional office nook, a Master suite with a large walk in closet, beautiful wood floors, and covered parking.  Noted to be 2000 sf and much larger than the other 14 units in the complex.  Today, you would be hard pressed to find a single family home in West Hollywood under $750,000 that doesn’t need gasoline and a...

Mercury Retrograde – December 10th through 29th

Communication a little funky right now? That’s because Mercury rules communication and during retrograde, it appears that the planet is going backwards. So, Mercury retrograde gives us time to catch up with ourselves, and to look back. Something from the past might return in a different form.This can mean people, ideas or buried insights that need to surface for you to move forward. Often it’s felt as a contemplative time, depending on the sign, a chance to go over old ground again, to claim what you missed the first time. Ultimately as Mercury turns direct on December 30th, we move into the New Year of 2011 with a revised plan that will be put into place on January 4th, as the Solar Eclipse opens new doors of the opportunity. Mercury Retrograde will provide the changes that set the stage for 2011. And Mercury turns direct on the 30th – just in time, happily! So wait for the new year to write those contracts or form those new corporations, because if you don’t you’ll probably have to do it again next year! So, now’s a good time to look for a new home or get your home ready to put on the market. But, if you really, really want to initiate a purchase or a sale, we’ll work it out for...

The Weather In Los Angeles – December 18, 2010

What a difference a week makes. Yes, we in LA are finally experiencing a little bit of seasonality. Here’s what the sky looks like outside my house. I didn’t even make this photo black and white – this is the true color. I enjoy the rain as it’s rare here in LA and we can always use it. But there are a few that don’t. My dog, Joey is one of them. It’s been 12 hours since he’s gone outside. The future for my floor does not look...

365 Things To Do In Los Angeles – Ice Skating in Santa Monica

Have you joined our  Facebook page 365 Things to do in Los Angeles? Here’s number 34 – Ice Skating at Ice in Santa Monica. It seems like 15-20 years ago ice skating was a more popular pastime. I remember when I was growing up in the San Fernando valley there multiple rinks and in particular, there was a great ice skating rink in The Topanga Plaza. This picture give you an idea of the vibe. But, I guess ice skating rinks sort of went the way of the roller skating rink because the rink was ripped out and became the food court. Its closing was kind of sad and seemed like the end of an era. I have fond memories of bundling up, lacing up the skates and awkwardly, yet tentatively ambling onto the ice and of course, then falling right on my behind. Aww, makes me yearn for the good ole days. I don’t think I’m the only one who misses them. Happily those nostalgic days have returned for the holiday season and outdoors in Santa Monica no less. Each year the city sets up an 8,000 sq foot temporary rink at 1324 5th Street. They even feature a Friday night Rock N Skate Fridays with a Live DJ. How cool is that? Just try not to fall! Ice at Santa Monica is the perfect place to get you in the holiday spirit, even when it’s sunny in LA. Want to hear about more things to do? Like our page on Facebook – 365 Things to Do In Los Angeles. Learn about something new almost every...

Is Writing An Offer For A Short Sale or REO with the Listing Agent a Good Idea?

Well, it depends on the situation, but probably not. Here’s a very common situation. A buyer is looking to buy a  short sale, foreclosure or a below-market priced home. The buyer may be getting an FHA loan or have only 20% to put down. They are competing against other cash heavy buyers for the same property.  The Buyer believes that they will be able to get the best deal and get their offer accepted if they are represented by the listing agent. Unfortunately, the Buyer could be at a disadvantage because in this case the Listing agent is representing both the Seller and Buyer and no one is working solely in the Buyers best interest. Meanwhile, the listing agent stands to double their commission. Unfortunately, with these high demand, high competition homes, particularly in LA,  it’s a crap shoot. You see, you can almost be insured that you’re not the only buyer who’s thinking like this. So, this would mean that this listing agent has multiple other buyers looking at a specific home. So if you’re interested, the first thing the listing agent will probably want you to do is get pre-approved from a preferred lender so they know where you stand financially. Once they understand the financial situations of all the potential buyers, the listing agent will suggest the Seller move forth with the person in the strongest position. Listing agents in this position are often inundated with interested buyers and be lucky to get in contact with them or get a response at all! In this case, the buyer really has no one looking out for them....