Paul W Sullivan & Assoc



Posted by Paul W Sullivan & Assoc on 6/13/2021

Photo by RawPixel via Pixabay

The sky's the limit for cloud-based documents and files. Remote working is on the rise. The ranks of independent entrepreneurs are growing. For many, home is a place to live and work.

Here are three elements to consider for your work-from-home space.

1. Choose Your Workspace

Pick a bright spot. Daylight inspires!

Will you be having clients drop in? Aim to choose a spot near an entrance way, apart from your intimate living spaces.

For tax purposes, this spot can be a dedicated room, or a section of a room—as long as there's a clear division between your working and living space. Other storage areas in the home, or partitioned-off space that's fully dedicated to keeping business items, is also square footage to count in the deduction.

Take pictures each year that clearly show the partitions and the business use of the space. Keep your photos with your tax documents.

2. Furnish the Space

Decorate mainly as you would if your work space were in a corporate building. Keep your desk, professional items, and office-appropriate décor in the space. Don't have a playpen (unless your business is daycare) or a dining table in your designated office space.

Bookcases, wall hangings, mirrors, and framed art all look good, and dampen noise from outside your work space. Succulents or crocus bulbs can make excellent office plants and uplift the mood of your work area.

Protect your health while working at home by using an adjustable (sit-stand) desk. Does that sound too industrial for the look you demand at home? Never fear. Gorgeous, adjustable desks that complement your existing furniture do exist on the market. With a little searching, you'll find yours.

3. Declare Your Tax Deduction

Calculate your home office percentage. If your home amounts to 2,000 square feet and your office space covers 500, declare 25% as the percentage. The deduction may not exceed your year's net business profit. 

For smaller home office spaces, the IRS has a simplified standard deduction. Take $5 per square foot, up to 300 square feet.

Speak with your tax pro about deducting a home business percentage from your homeowner's insurance, mortgage interest, utilities, and property taxes. Read the instructions, so you know how to plan your tax return.

Putting It All Together

For a tax deduction, your home office must serve as the core of your business affairs, or the place you do the bulk of your work. Whether you already have a home office, or are thinking of creating one, design your space so it fits the IRS tax deduction requirements—even while it uplifts your home, delights your senses, and inspires your best work. 




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Posted by Paul W Sullivan & Assoc on 6/6/2021

Buying a home is a very detail-oriented process, and there's a lot of important things you can overlook if you're not organized.

Home buyers generally have the opportunity to do a last-minute inspection of the premises to make sure everything's up to standards prior to closing on the property.

A real estate buyer's agent can accompany you on the final inspection or provide you with advice on what to look for.

If you've already visited the home a couple times and had the house professionally inspected, you're probably well-acquainted with any major malfunctions, flaws, or repair issues. In many cases, home buyers may reach an agreement with the seller to fix, replace, or make allowances for mechanical or cosmetic problems. While real estate negotiations and sales agreements are as varied as the people and properties involved, there are typically dozens of things buyers need to check on before they sign the final documents and accept ownership of the property.

Final Walkthrough Tips

As you're doing the final walk-through of the house, it's necessary to remember or have notes on the condition of the home when you last looked at it. You'll also want to have a clear idea of what appliances, fixtures, and window treatments are supposed to be remain in the house after it's been vacated by the seller. Depending on how close your final walk-through is to the actual closing, that has probably already happened.

If there's anything missing that the seller agreed to include in the sale, then that's an issue you'll want to discuss with your real estate agent or attorney. Any property damage that may have resulted from moving furniture and other belongings should also be discussed before final papers are signed. The same thing would apply to landscaping changes that appear to be inconsistent with the sales agreement. Your buyer's agent and/or lawyer can serve as intermediary in getting these issues clarified and ironed out.

To make sure your final inspection is thorough, it's a good idea to have a "final walk-through checklist" to help keep you organized and focused. You'll want to take a last-minute inventory of items that are supposed to be included with the property sale, such as appliances, lighting fixtures, furnishings, window treatments, children's play structures, hot tubs, and anything else that was agreed to in the sales contract.

Other items you'll need access to may include garage door openers, manuals for appliances and mechanical systems, warranties, invoices for repairs made, and remote control devices for things like ceiling fans, alarms, and other systems.

Your checklist and final walkthrough should focus on a variety of items, including the working condition of appliances, the electrical system, plumbing fixtures, and the condition of walls, floors, ceilings, doors, windows, and landscaping features. For a complete checklist, look online or consult your real estate agent.





Posted by Paul W Sullivan & Assoc on 5/30/2021

Photo by Gabby K from Pexels

PMI, or private mortgage insurance, is a necessity most times. If your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price of the home, then youíll need to pay for this additional insurance in order to secure a loan for the home. This policy protects the lender if the borrower cannot pay the loan installments. This way, the lender knows they will not lose money in the event of default. 

Private mortgage insurance is also required if you refinance your home when it has accrued to less than 20% equity.

Here are a few other key points to remember about PMI.

Fees

The fees involved with private mortgage insurance can range based on a few factors, including the actual size of the down payment and your credit score. You can expect the cost of the insurance to be somewhere between 0.3% and 1.5% of the loan amount per year. Homebuyers can pay PMI premiums either monthly or as a large payment up front, though some policies may require the borrower to pay installments versus a lump sum.

You Can Cancel PMI

The lender will automatically cancel your PMI once the loan drops to 78% of the homeís value. For this reason, youíll want to keep track of your payments to see how close you are to paying off your loan. When youíve paid your loan down to 80% of the homeís original value, you may ask your lender to discontinue the insurance premium payments.

What Is The Loan-To-Value Ratio?

This ratio is the amount of mortgage debt as a percentage based on how much the home is worth. Itís calculated by the following formula:

Amount owed on the mortgage/Appraised value

If a home is worth $100,000 and the buyer owes $80,000 on the home, the loan-to-value ratio is 80%. This means the borrower can request the lender cancel the insurance.

FHA Loans Have Different Requirements

If you secure an FHA loan, they require the payment of PMI premiums for the entire life of the loan. You canít cancel these insurance payments, but you can refinance the loan in order to get rid of the insurance. This means that you will no longer have an FHA loan.

Private mortgage insurance can be confusing, but, as a first-time homebuyer with little capital, the fees may be worth it when youíre able to secure your first home.





Posted by Paul W Sullivan & Assoc on 5/23/2021

Image by mynemesis2011 from Pixabay

If you're anticipating putting your home on the market soon and want to sell it as quickly as possible, you're probably thinking that the best way to accomplish this is to accept a major drop in price. Although it's true that price points can affect how quickly a property sells, you don't have to dip much, if anything, below market value to facilitate a fast sale as long as you live in an area with a moderately healthy real estate market. Following are five proactive ways you can help your upcoming home sale go quickly.

Declutter and Depersonalize

One of the key components of a successful home sale is creating an environment where potential buyers can easily envision themselves and their family enjoying a pleasant life. Too many family photos and general clutter takes away from this. Renting a storage unit helps by providing a place to keep things and also gives you a head start on your move.

Be Available

Homeowners who limit when the house can be shown are missing out on a lot of potential buyers. Although it's a hassle to always have to be available, you can make it easier on yourself by doing a general quick cleaning every morning and by using the above strategy of keeping clutter to an absolute minimum. If you simply can't guarantee availability for last-minute showings at all times, at least try to do so on weekend because that's when most people are looking at homes. 

Have Professional Photos Taken

Professional photographs that show your home in the best possible light make it more likely that prospective buyers will ask to see your home. Don't settle for just any local photographer, though -- ask your real estate agent to recommend someone who specializes in home photography. 

Move Out 

If you move out of the home, you and your family won't have to endure the inconvenience of people coming in and out, and your real estate agent will be free to show the property at literally any time. 

Paint Your Home in Neutral Colors

Now is the time to make your home look as much like a blank slate as possible without sacrificing any of its charm. Neutral colors don't clash with anything, so buyers are therefore less likely to pass on your home due to aversions to certain colors, and there's something really appealing about a fresh coat of paint.

You'll also want to amp up the curb appeal of your home to make it more attractive. Because people are often blind to the faults of their own environments, ask a trusted friend or relative to look at your home exterior from the critical eye of a potential homebuyer and add improvements from there. 





Posted by Paul W Sullivan & Assoc on 5/16/2021

Photo by Andrey_Popov via Shutterstock

Getting rid of a pest infestation in the home can be an expensive and stressful endeavor. Enjoy a comfortable, pest-free home with a few best practices.

Preventative Control

Every homeowner should invest in preventative pest control. Either hire a company to come and treat the inside and outside of your house on a monthly or quarterly basis or commit to treating the home yourself. You can find pest control solutions at your local hardware store. Do yourself a favor and pre-treat your home to gain an edge on those pesky little creatures.

Home Maintenance

Maintaining a few key areas of your home can lend a great hand in keeping out pests. It is important to check all the weather-stripping on your exterior doors. Some bugs can squeeze under the door even if you have pristine weather-stripping, so if yours is worn-down or flimsy bugs can easily gain access and take up residence. Screens are another home feature you need to keep in good shape. Even if an insect can squeeze into the flattest of areas, most that cause severe issues wonít be able to get through the grid.

Clean Living

It seems obvious to point out that simply being clean can help keep pests out of the home, but itís true! Itís important to stay on top of daily home care, but there are also a few key areas to pay special attention to. In your kitchen, you want to maintain general cleanliness. You also want to make sure you donít neglect your bottom cabinets, counter-top appliances and the space below and behind large appliances. Itís easy to miss a spill that goes underneath your refrigerator or stove, and that small spill can attract ants, roaches and more to your kitchen.
Bottom cabinets have a tendency to have cracks or gaps in the back that are an invitation for pests to make a home underneath. Of course, you want to seal up any gaps as well as you can, but youíll also want to make sure things stay clean in those cabinets and check them periodically for evidence. Another pesky area where pests like to live is in the bottom of counter-top appliances. Make sure you clean underneath these every time you wipe down your counters and do the dishes.

Early Detection

You can take all the precautions, but everyoneís home is still vulnerable to pests. Theyíre oddly smart, small and persistent. So, on top of everything, you want to ensure you know how to check for pests so you can detect them early and start treatments immediately upon detection. Check your cabinets, behind appliances, bathroom corners and underneath furniture regularly.




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