Saturday, December 29, 2012

Clouds and Thunder in Santa Barbara on December 29th

Late Morning Walk on 
Shoreline Boulevard

gave us this stunning view 
of the Coastline

A Late Afternoon
Loud Thunderclap
brought us into our yard
for this view!

A Volatile 
2012 is going out with a Bang!

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Eve Pops Concert at the Granada

Santa Barbara Symphony presents
New Year's Eve Pops Concert
Back by popular demand, Bob Bernhardt will conduct an array of favorites from Broadway, Hollywood, Gershwin and much more!

8:30 pm
The Granada Theatre
1214 State Street, Santa Barbara
805 899-2222

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2013 Zillow Zestimate Housing Forecast

Five Things Consumers Should Expect From the Housing Market In 2013

December 26th, 2012
In 2012, the national housing market finally turned a corner. We’ve now experienced 13 straight months of home value appreciation. Sales were up significantly over 2011 as buyers returned to the market, boosting demand.
So what will 2013 have in store? Here are five things consumers can expect to see in the housing market next year:
Up, Up and Away
?       The national housing market hit bottom in October 2011, and home values have since risen 5.3 percent from that trough. The most recent Zillow Home Value Forecast calls for 2.5 percent appreciation nationwide from November 2012 to November 2013.
?       According to a recent Zillow survey of more than 100 economists and analysts, respondents predicted home values (based on the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index) to rise 3.1 percent in 2013, on average.
?       Most markets covered by Zillow’s Real Estate Market Reports have already bottomed out, with only 10 of 255 covered metro areas not projected to hit a bottom within the next year.
Bottom Line: Homeowners looking to sell in 2013 can largely rest assured they won’t be selling at the bottom, and many will find themselves in a sellers’ market. Potential buyers in 2013 may be more motivated to get a deal done while affordability is still extremely high and mortgage rates continue to be historically low.
Real Estate Is Local Again
According to the Zillow Breakeven Horizon, buying beats renting when staying in the home for three years or more in roughly 60 percent of U.S. metros. The areas where it might make more sense to buy (if you’re planning on staying for three-plus years) are clustered in the Southwest and Southeast. If you won’t be staying put for at least a few years, consider renting in the Northeast, where buying often doesn’t make more financial sense until five years or more.
The goal of Zillow’s Buyer/Seller Index is to determine where buyers have the most leverage in a sale, and where sellers might have the upper hand. In general, we determined that metro areas in the West and Southwest ­ including the Bay AreaLas Vegas and Phoenix ­ are strong for sellers. Metros in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic ­ places such as ChicagoCleveland andPhiladelphia ­ are best for buyers.
Bottom Line: The housing market recovery has remained true to the old real estate axiom of “location, location, location.” How your local market is faring today ­ and if it makes more sense to buy or rent, to sell now or to hold off if possible ­ is largely determined by unique, local factors and fundamentals. Arming yourself with timely and comprehensive local market information is good advice at any time, but will be even more important in 2013 as buyers continue to seek bargains and sellers look to maximize returns.
Coming Up for Air
In the third quarter of 2012, the percentage of homeowners with a mortgage in negative equity ­ or “underwater,” owing more on their mortgage than their home was worth ­ fell below 30 percent for the first time since Zillow began tracking that data using an improved methodology in early 2011.
Still, 28.2 percent of homeowners with a mortgage remain underwater. Because underwater owners have a far more difficult time selling their home, a large number of homes that otherwise might end up on the market aren’t getting listed. As a result, inventory in many areas is incredibly tight, leaving buyers to fight it out amongst themselves, which in turn can help drive up prices. This, among other factors, has led to tight inventory in many of the hardest-hit cities around the country.
Bottom Line: As home values continue their upward march in 2013, more homeowners currently trapped underwater will begin to surface. This will be good for buyers exhausted by limited inventory and intense competition in markets such as Phoenix and Miami, but it will also have the effect of cooling price increases. As a result, in 2013, we predict home value appreciation in many areas will look more like a series of steps, characterized by cycles of price spikes and plateaus. Price spikes will free some homeowners from negative equity, allowing them to sell, thereby easing supply constraints and dampening prices until the cycle is repeated.
Historically Affordable
Mortgage interest rates have been hovering at or near historic lows for the past year, and the Federal Reserve has taken concrete steps to ensure they stay low for at least the foreseeable future.
At the same time, home values ­ while recovering nicely ­ still have a long way to go to reach their pre-bubble levels. Overall, national home values in November were still down 19.4 percent from their peak in May 2007, according to Zillow.
Bottom Line: Between 1985 and 2000, Americans spent, on average, about 20 percent of their household income on mortgage payments. That percentage increased to more than 24 percent by 2006, before falling to just 13 percent by the second quarter of 2012. If you can qualify for a home loan, the combination of low rates and low prices means your home-buying dollar will continue to take you farther in 2013 than in recent years, even for buyers on modest budgets.
Mortgage Interest Deducted?
Changes to the mortgage interest deduction (MID) may be a key element of any “grand bargain” reached by politicians in order to avert the year-end fiscal cliff. If adopted, any measure to limit or repeal the MID will result in some home price impacts over time and by market segment.
Home values at the high end of the market will likely be more negatively impacted by MID changes than home values overall, according to a recent Zillow survey of economists. For example, in the event that the maximum MID-eligible mortgage amount is reduced from $1 million to $500,000 and the deduction allowance for second homes is eliminated, the majority of respondents said they expect high-end home prices to fall while U.S. home prices overall experience little or no price impact.
Bottom Line: Real estate lobbying groups have long fought against changes to tax rules allowing for the deduction of mortgage interest, arguing that any changes will impact or eliminate some of the historic financial advantages of owning a home. But unless you’re buying a proportionally more expensive home or are buying in a more expensive area, the impacts of MID changes will likely be muted. The decision to buy or sell a home is highly personal and dependent on a number of factors, only one of which is potential tax implications. In 2013, make your decision to buy or sell based on your own informed opinion and your unique situation.
Source: Zillow
CAVEAT:  Remember that all Real Estate is LOCAL and the reason we Real Estate Professionals give Zillow market evaluations the nick-name "Zestimates" is because Zillow uses computerized statistics without the human eye involved for making comparisons on properties, sites, neighborhoods and amenity influences. Their information is great for trend forecasting, but should be coupled with the opinion of your personal Real Estate Professional.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Santa is taking a well deserved break in Santa Barbara!


Christmas Greetings from Santa Barbara

Sending You Christmas Greetings

from Paradise...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve at the Santa Barbara Mission

Visit the Historic 
Santa Barbara Mission
 with her lovely Nativity Scene
 shining bright at night
Christmas Eve

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Living Nativity December 23rd

First United Methodist Church
305 E Anapamu Street 
Includes Actors and Animals
Dress warmly and come experience the beauty of the season in a re-creation of the Holy Night complete with a live camel, donkey, sheep and people silently portraying the Living Nativity. The event will be held outdoors under the redwood tree in the church garden. Tours of the beautiful, historic sanctuary will also be offered. Warm cider and snacks. A truly glorious and inspiring Christmas event. Free! Bring your camera! December 23rd – 23 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. First United Methodist Church, corner of Anapamu and Garden Streets For more info call 963-3579 or Email:  

 First United Methodist Church Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara, CA

Beautiful and Historic Church

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas at Farmer's Market

I haven't been able to get down to the Saturday Market for new photos, so I'm re-posting my photos from last year, as I know these Vendors are all there decorated for the Holidays, waiting to share their bounty with YOU!

Winter Solstice in beautiful Santa Barbara is an experience for the senses.
 Everywhere the eye wanders, Mother Nature is busily decorating for the Holidays.

Red Bougainvilla are blooming while Nanadina bushes are showing off
their red berries, as if in competition with Holly! Last of the blooming roses
add to the caleidascope of color. Poinsettias native to Mexico are quite
happy in our climate and this is their time of year to party.

Phyllis is showing off the bounty from the Lash Family
farm...delicious Pistachio nuts and nut-butters.

Sweet seedless mandarin oranges right off the tree!
Ours never make it into the house, we eat them right off 
the tree!

Only in Santa Barbara.... cymbidium orchids are beginning to put out their flower spikes.
This wonderful display of nature is available for viewing at our local Farmer's Market!
All the produce, flowers, herbs, nuts, meats and fish, wines, oils and fruit come from the
tri-counties area from individual harvesters.

A visit to any of our Farmer's Markets (6 days a week) is an amazing experience for the senses.
Saturday's Market downtown is the most spectacular of all our markets any time of year,
including December. Open from 8 am to 1 pm, year round, located at the corner of
Santa Barbara and Cota Streets it occupies and entire City Parking lot.

Available this time of year are beautiful wreaths made from locally grown Proteas.
The Market is an education in the diversity of fruits and veggies available locally this time of
year...wines, olive oil, locally grown range beef, pork and poulty, fresh eggs as well as
local fishermen's catch right out of our Ocean. The vendors are happy to give you a sampling
of their goods and tips on cooking, and growing.

It is a friendly and sensuous experience. You will see the local restaurants picking up their orders,
there are even chefs who give classes in cooking with local produce, beginning with a tour of
the Market. Being a Locavore is big in our community.

My visits to the Market are very nostalgic. As a child in Holland I accompanied my Mom to the  weekly Market.  I can still remember seeing the squirming eel (a Dutch delicacy) as Mom looked around for our dinner supplies. No...there aren't any squirming eel at the SB Farmer's Markets...but you'll find oysters, local shrimp and such yummies, cheeses, organic meats and more...

Come and create your own memories with your 
kids and grandkids.
It is an incredible experience!
for locations and times, click here

Candy Cane Train - Saturday and Sundays 1-4pm

Saturdays and Sundays
1-4 pm
through December 24th
South Coast Rail Road Museum
300 N. Los Carneros Road, Goleta

Ride on the decorated miniature train and view the  "Toy Trains and Teddy Bears" holiday display.  A 34- inch minimum height is required to ride the train. Admission is $1 suggested donation; $4 per person includes ride, candy cane and holiday favors, plus a coupon good for future ride.

for more information and/or reservations telephone 964-3540

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ugly Sweater Party at SOhO Restaurant

SOhO Restaurant and Music Club
December 20, 7 pm
Hosting a Contest for the Ugliest Holiday Sweaters
Equal Opportunity
Come have dinner and enjoy the music groups
Benefit for UNITY Shoppe
$12/at the door

1980's Unisex Ugly Christmas Lightup Sweater
Equal Opportunity Contest!
1980's Womens Patriotic Ugly Christmas Sweater

Monday, December 17, 2012

Santa Barbara Trolley of Lights Tour through Dec. 24th

Enjoy a Tour of Santa Barbara's Decorated Homes
on the Trolley of Lights Tour
Through December 24th

Lap Children Free (must sit on lap)
Children under 12 - $15
Adults - $25
call for reservations 805 882-9191

Friday, December 14, 2012

State Street Ballet presents the Nutcracker, December 22 & 23rd

State Street Ballet's original version of this holiday classic will celebrate the season with its first ever collaboration with Opera San Luis Obispo's orchestra   Enjoy the grandeur of the Granada with a full symphony orchestra conducted by the internationally recognized conductor Brian Asher Alhadef.
The Granada Theatre 1214 State Street, SB
805 899-2222

Funderland at the SB Museum or Natural History, December 15th

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Call for Action! Do NO Harm to Housing!

Please contact your Legislators NOW!

Call for Action: Do No Harm to Housing

The REALTOR® Party needs your urgent help to protect the stability of the American housing market and the American economy. By now you have seen numerous news reports concerning the “Fiscal Cliff.” 

Many of these reports speculate that a change to the long-standing policy that allows homeowners to deduct mortgage interest payments from their income taxes could be part of a “Fiscal Cliff” deal.  

Please “remind” Congress about your position on any proposed changes to the mortgage interest deduction.

The National Association of Realtors' (NAR) position is that the mortgage interest deduction is vital to the stability of the American housing market and economy and we will remain vigilant in opposing any future plan that modifies or excludes the deductibility of mortgage interest.

Please send this short message to your Senators and Member of Congress to remind them where we stand and that we will be watching to see who stands with us.

to find and email your representative, click here

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Parade of Lights at the Santa Barbara Harbor Dec. 9th

The 27th Annual Parade of Lights
"Starry, Starry Night" Themed Boat Parade
Sunday, December 9th
5:30 p.m.
located at the intersection of
West Cabrillo Blvd and State Street
Preceded by 
Santa's Village at the Harbor
Santa Claus and his Elves
will treat children to goody bags
and a 10-ton snowfield
Best views of the parade will be
Stearns Wharf and the Breakwater

for more information 897-2587
(information and photos from City of Santa Barbara Website)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

San Francisco Honeydrops at the Soho! Dec. 7th

The California Honeydrops Go Live!

San Francisco Buskers Play CD Release Show at SOhO on December 7

OHCALIFORNIA: As holiday decorations go up and seasonal nostalgia sets in, it becomes harder and harder to avoid the deluge of Christmas music pouring through speakers across the country. If you’re looking for music that’s light on the jingle bells but heavy on the warm ’n’ fuzzies, I encourage a trip to SOhO Restaurant & Music Club this Friday, December 7. It’s there that San Francisco quintet the California Honeydrops return to town for a CD release show in support of their latest, Live!
Born out of busking gigs in the San Fran public transit system, the Honeydrops’ live set offers an energetic mix of bluesy brass and beats and classic R&B hooks and harmonies. Still, the band embraces the grassrootsy vibe that’s emanated out of the NorCal music scene for decades, and in live-album form, their sing-alongs and jammy breakdowns feel instantly familiar. This is music to groove to, and it feels perfectly suited for blustery nights and dancing close. The California Honeydrops play a 21+ show at SOhO (1221 State St.) at 9:30 p.m. Santa Barbara stomp rockers Rainbow Girls open the show. For tickets and info, call (805) 965-7776 or visit

Monday, December 3, 2012

1st Thursday - Holiday Edition - Downtown Santa Barbara

Down-town Santa Barbara
First Thursday-Holiday Edition
December 6th; 5-8 pm

    1528 State Street, 805-962-6444
Featuring an artist reception for Jesse Kaplan. This 
remarkably talented young photographer captures many 
poignant moments in his sensitive portraits of people of 
different cultures as well as magnificent landscapes and 
starry night scenes.

    1333 State Street, 805-882-1058
Featuring local artist Chris Potter. Potter grew up in 
Santa barbara and has developed a fascination for the 
beauty of the area. Refreshments  will  be  served.

    1317 State Street, 805-963-4408
The Gaviota Coast Conservancy is proud to present a 
night of art, music and film at the ArlingtonTheatre hosted 
by Shaun Tomson and the Santa barbara middle School 
Surf Team. We will also have give-aways featuring prizes 
from some of the areas best surf and outdoor businesses! 
All proceeds benefit the Gaviota Coast Conservancy film

    1324 State Street, Suite J, 805-963-2332
Wilderness, Home  presents photography of protected 
public lands ranging from Santa Barbara’s own rugged 
back-country up through Idaho and Washington and into the 
far-northern Alaskan arctic. Featuring work by Jeff Jones 
and winners of the Los Padres Forest Watch’s

    11 East Anapamu Street, 805-730-1460
Celebrating the opening of the massively popular holiday 
exhibition 100 Grand. The 3rd Annual 100 Grand show 
brings together 100 works of art which cost $1,000 or 
less. Also on view: Meredith brooks Abbott: At Home in 
Paradise, Martha Mayer Erlebacher and the American 
Still Life and The Life and Art of Leon Dabo.

    105 East Anapamu Street, 805-568-3990
The County Arts Commission presents an exhibition Figure 
Fragments: The Part as The Whole curated by Priscilla 
bender-Shore, including the work of 25 regional artists 

    11 West Anapamu Street, 805-568-1400
Introducing the work of Cody Hooper in Subtle Balance. 
Hooper is deeply interested in the emotional response to 
strong composition and design.

    SBMA Corner State and Anapamu Streets
Rebekah Scogin performs world music on instruments 
such as mandolin, balalaika, bouzouki and accordion as 
well as piano and the electric harp.

    1130 State Street, 805-963-4364
Featuring a book signing with Barbara Traub. Desert 
to Dream: A Dozen Years of Burning Man Photography
portrays the burning man celebration of art and life that 
comes together in the spirit of spontaneous creativity 
and performance.5–8pm in the Museum Store.

    40 East Anapamu Street, 805-962-7635
Featuring a holiday show by members of the Santa Barbara 
Art Association with original art for sale at $300 or less!
Come by and celebrate the Holidays with music by the Dixie 
Hicks Band.

    1114 State Street #26, in La Arcada Court, 805-884-1938
Santa Barbara painter Kim Adelman presents a new body of 
work in her photo surreal style depicting fascinating images 
of butterflies, local gardens and scenery. Featuring wine by 
Grassini Family Vineyards.

11. GALLERY 113
    1114 State Street #8, in La Arcada Court 805-965-6611
Artist of the month Suemae Lin Willhite presents a collection 
of Chinese watercolor brush paintings featuring landscapes, 
orchids, and peonies.

    930 State Street, 805 966-9777
presents the finest of SB’s Artisans. Featuring over 40
local contemporary artisans and custom jewelers, and
serving great wine and music for this event! Please come
visit the ribbon cutting ceremony at 6pm.

    900 State Street, Marshall’s Patio

Santa barbara Revels presents The Christmas Revels:
An American Celebration of the Winter Solstice at the
Lobero Theatre on Dec.15-16

    900 State Street, Marshall’s Patio
Put your creativity to work and decorate your very own
holiday tree ornament to take home with you. Supplies will
be provided.

    128 East Canon Perdido Street, 805-966-3334
Featuring Ruinophilia: Images of Destruction and Decay from
the AD&A Museum’s Collection. Ruinophilia ranges from depictions of crumbling buildings to bodies that display the infirmity of age.

    27 East De la Guerra Street,805-962-8347
Thomas Van Stein, Recent Paintings is  a collection of works
by Santa barbara artist Thomas Van Stein, featuring his strong
impressionist style with compositional elements influenced by
the art of the Japanese masters from centuries.

    136 East De la Guerra Street, 805-966-1601
Carl Oscar borg became one of the foremost names among
early California artists. This collection of paintings,

reflects his passion for the American 
West and Southwest, where nearly a century ago the artist 
was commissioned by the University of California and the U.S. 
Government to record the native inhabitants.

    Paseo Nuevo Center Court

The Holiday Horns brass Quintet is a local ensemble of music
educators and professionals all calling theSanta Barbara/

Goleta area home.


    653 Paseo Nuevo, Upper Arts Terrace, 805-966-5373
Featuring JEFF and GORDON, Moment of Glory in a media saturated, success-driven culture, the most coveted place to
be is the winner’s circle. 
Come by for a 5pm
Happy Hour and 7pm Performance.

    27 East Cota Street, 805-690-4900

Featuring Present Perspectives, Brooks Institute’s Faculty
and Staff Exhibit 2012. This biennial faculty and staff exhibit
presents the current work of over 20 photographers from
brooks Institute.

    Strolling along State Street
The SBCC Drama Club celebrates the holidays by caroling
for the Santa barbara community. They will be spreading
Yuletide cheer through the joy of music and short theater
skits along State Street!

Tired of walking?  The Santa Barbara Trolley is available
all up and down State Street, from Sola Street to the Harbor making many stops along the way!

for more information and a map, click here
(information obtained from the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization's website)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Parade downtown Santa Barbara, November 30th

Santa and his jolly Elves

Downtown Holiday Parade

Friday, November 30, 2012 at 6:30pm

2012 Theme: 60th Anniversary - A Diamond Holiday

Grand Marshal: Kami Craig, 2012 Gold Medalist Water Polo Player
More than 50,000 spectators are expected to line downtown Santa Barbara on Friday evening November 30th, to cheer on a colossal contingent of high-stepping marching bands, fabulous holiday floats, spectacular performance groups, local personalities, and of course, the most anticipated appearance of the evening...the annual arrival of Santa Claus, dispensing holiday cheer from atop his festive sleigh.
Meet and Greet: Friday, November 30th
Santa Claus - Paseo Nuevo Center Court, 4:00pm-5:30pm
The parade begins at 6:30pm at State Street and Sola Street and concludes at Cota Street. For more information, call 805-962-2098 ext. 22.
Click here for the Parade entry application.

Parade History 
In the early 1950’s, a tradition began to decorate State Street with 40 foot tall Douglas fir Christmas trees during the holidays. These trees actually lined the center divider lines of what used to be a four lane street. Sponsored then by the Retail Merchants Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Parks and Recreation Department, the trees were officially dedicated and lit during the Children’s Christmas Parade by the Christmas Fairy. The Children’s Christmas Parade is now known as the Downtown Holiday Parade and is held annually, one week after Thanksgiving.
The parade, in its 60th year, has since evolved into Santa Barbara’s only nighttime street parade. After 31 years of Saturday morning debuts, the parade returned to the Friday evening tradition in 1998. This year’s tradition takes place on Friday, November 30th officially welcoming the holiday season downtown!

Holiday Prince & Fairy Contest
The tradition of the Christmas Fairy, now the Holiday Prince & Fairy, began with the first parade in 1953.
The Holiday Prince & Fairy are chosen for their creativity and originality in an art contest sponsored by the Downtown Organization.

information and photos from the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization Website

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Folk and Tribal Arts Marketplace November 30 - December 2nd

Tribal Arts MArketplace, shopping, eat, gifts, holiday shopping

Shop Around the World
Facebook Photo Album

Santa Museum of Natural History
2559 Puesta del Sol
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

free admission and parking

Friday 10 am - 7 pm
Saturday & Sunday 10 am - 5 pm

ATTENTION: Collectors, Treasure Seekers, and Holiday Shoppers! 

The annual Folk & Tribal Arts Marketplace, the largest folk art show in 

Southern California, returns to Santa Barbara with nearly 30 vendors

representing more than 50 countries, and featuring an amazing

selection of baskets, décor, ethnographic art, furniture, jewelry, 

pottery, rugs, sculpture, and more. Whether you are shopping for a gift

or adding to your collection or “just because,” 

you can shop around the world for the truly unique whimsical, 

practical, and exotic treasures. 

And while at the Museum, enjoy tantalizing cuisine at 

the Tribal Arts Café , stroll through the Museum’s picturesque

grounds, and then continue shopping around the world.

Admission and parking are FREE. Proceeds benefit the Museum’s exhibits and educational programs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ten Reasons to Sell instead of Remodel

To make the best remodel-or-move decision, it is important to understand the reasons one alternative would be better than the other.  This article reviews common reasons to move. As you read each of these reasons, consider how much it applies to you and note how strongly you feel about it.
The size of your family has changed
Of the many reasons to move, having a current home that is the wrong size is the most common. Many young couples start out with a cozy two- or three-bedroom, 1,000-square foot home that suits their situation perfectly. The home has a master bedroom, a guest bedroom, and possibly a home office. A single living area with couches and an entertainment center provides the couple with ample space for the two of them and their visitors. As they start a family, the first child moves into the guest bedroom and toys take over the living area. The perfect house for two becomes too small for three or more. On the other side, there are couples who have a large house for a large family.  Once their children move away, the house becomes too large for their current lifestyle.
You want better schools
Unless your children attend private school, where you live usually dictates which school your children attend. This is great for building a sense of community in the neighborhood, as children can walk or bike to school together. A school nearby can also cut down on the travel time required to drop off or pick up your children.
Your commute
A common reason to move is the change of a job, be it out of state or in another community. If you want to have a shorter commute, then moving may be the only answer.
To make the best remodel-or-move decision, it is important to understand the reasons one alternative would be better than the other.  This article reviews common reasons to move. As you read each of these reasons, consider how much it applies to you and note how strongly you feel about it.
The size of your family has changed
Of the many reasons to move, having a current home that is the wrong size is the most common. Many young couples start out with a cozy two- or three-bedroom, 1,000-square foot home that suits their situation perfectly. The home has a master bedroom, a guest bedroom, and possibly a home office. A single living area with couches and an entertainment center provides the couple with ample space for the two of them and their visitors. As they start a family, the first child moves into the guest bedroom and toys take over the living area. The perfect house for two becomes too small for three or more. On the other side, there are couples who have a large house for a large family.  Once their children move away, the house becomes too large for their current lifestyle.
You want better schools
Unless your children attend private school, where you live usually dictates which school your children attend. This is great for building a sense of community in the neighborhood, as children can walk or bike to school together. A school nearby can also cut down on the travel time required to drop off or pick up your children.
Your commute
A common reason to move is the change of a job, be it out of state or in another community. If you want to have a shorter commute, then moving may be the only answer.
You don’t like remodeling
Remodeling is not for everyone. No matter how it is accomplished, two things are unavoidable: the inconvenience and the decision-making. The inconvenience can be as little as not using your kitchen for a day while it is being painted, or as much as moving out for six months while some major work is done. For some, any inconvenience is too much, so a move may be the way to go.
You don’t like your neighborhood
Each neighborhood has its own characteristics. Some have big yards; some have small. Some are full of 1,000-square foot houses; some only have 3,000-square foot houses. Some neighborhoods have kids playing on the street all day long and friendly neighbors stopping by to chat every day. In other neighborhoods, people keep to themselves and rarely wave as they drive by each other on the way to work. If the neighborhood doesn’t meet your needs, a move may be the only solution.
A remodel is not possible or practical
You may not be able to remodel your house to make it what you want, due to cost or other reasons. If you want the kitchen in front and the family room facing south, but your home has the kitchen in back and the family room facing north, a remodel may be too expensive to be practical. Building codes can limit the type and size of additions as well as their appearance. Lot size and physical barriers can also limit remodeling possibilities.
Your yard
For many, the yard is an integral part of a house. A yard is land to call your own, a place to plant flowers or vegetables, or an expanse of grass that you take pride in keeping green and manicured all summer long.  The question is, how big of a yard do you want? There can be good reasons for wanting a smaller yard as well as a larger one. For other people, however, any yard is too much, and they would prefer a house without one.
Remodeling is too expensive
You can profit from an intelligent remodel, but in reality, some remodeling projects are not worth the investment or effort. For instance, adding extra bedrooms or a family may require major structural work, beyond what you have in your budget.
Your home is already the largest and nicest in the neighborhood
If you love your neighborhood and plan to stay in your home for years to come, it may not make a difference to you that remodeling will make it even more valuable than those around it. Otherwise, it may may not make financial sense to add additional value to the house through a remodel.
You will likely move in the next few years
If there were a wrong time to remodel, it would be right before you move. Don’t go through the expense and inconvenience of a major remodel if you plan to put the house up for sale the next month or the next year. Moving right after a remodel can be costly, unless you manage your remodel project very carefully to minimize the cost and maximize the market appeal of the work. Also, moving immediately takes away one of the biggest benefits of remodeling: enjoying the results. If you think you might be moving in the next 24 months, it may be better to move now than to remodel.
(information from a Rismedia Article)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mortgage Interest Deduction Is being Considered for the Chopping Block!!!

Lame-duck session to avoid 'fiscal cliff' may affect homeowners
By Kenneth R. Harney
November 18, 2012
WASHINGTON ‹ With the House and Senate back on Capitol Hill for the lame-duck session, preliminary negotiations aimed at keeping the country from careening off the "fiscal cliff" have begun in earnest.
The macro issues ‹ how to reduce federal spending and how to raise federal revenue ‹ are getting the bulk of the attention. But buried away in the discussions are bread-and-butter questions that could affect millions of homeowners and buyers:
€Will the biggest housing-related tax benefits ‹ for mortgage interest, property taxes and home-sale capital gains exclusions ‹ be on the chopping block in the coming six weeks? Or will these popular, multibillion-dollar annual supports for homeownership be deferred for the big game ‹ the "grand bargain" negotiations involving a wholesale transformation of the tax code in 2013?
€Could Congress fail to extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act before its expiration Dec. 31, potentially exposing large numbers of owners who received cancellation of unpaid principal balances on their loans to punitive income taxes on the amounts forgiven?
€Will smaller-scale deductions for mortgage insurance premiums, energy-conserving home improvements and tax credits for builders who construct energy-efficient new houses be renewed? Or could they become poker chips that "pay" for other concessions to real estate interests?
Although strategies and timing could change in the House or Senate, the betting among lobbyists and other analysts is that it's unlikely that a still-fractious Congress will be able to pull off a major rewrite of the tax code during the lame-duck session.
As a result, the big-ticket housing preferences such as the mortgage interest deduction ‹ a nearly $100-billion-a-year revenue drain for the Treasury ‹ would not be an action item in the coming several weeks, although agreements in principle could be forged to limit them in some way, with details to be worked out in 2013.
But cutting back on housing preferences will be a bruising fight on Capitol Hill, where powerful groups such as the National Assn. of Realtors and the National Assn. of Home Builders view them in almost existential terms. Plus any changes to the write-offs ‹ even in a grand reform where every special interest gets dinged ‹ would need to be phased in over an extended period of years, given the important role that housing plays in the economy.
Renewal of the mortgage debt forgiveness legislation may well be the most time-sensitive issue affecting homeowners during the lame-duck session. If it expires at the end of the year, owners who receive principal reductions through loan modifications, short sales or foreclosures by lenders next year could face painful tax bills: The IRS would treat their debt cancellations as ordinary taxable income.
Michelle J. Adams, an attorney in Rockville, Md., with a large practice assisting distressed borrowers, said that "for some homeowners the amount forgiven is a couple of hundred thousand dollars." If Congress lets the provision lapse, the amount owed in taxes "will be so prohibitive that many owners will walk away" or file for bankruptcy, she said. Under the tax code, most forms of forgiven debt are treated as ordinary income ‹ with the temporary exception of mortgage debt on principal residences ‹ unless the borrower is insolvent.
Carrie Johnson, senior policy counsel for the nonprofit Center for Responsible Lending, says allowing an expiration "would be inconsistent" with other ongoing efforts, including Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's new short-sale program, the $25-billion "robo-signing" settlement with major banks, and private loan modification programs run by lenders, all of which encourage principal cancellations.
With several bills pending in the House and one in the Senate that would extend the program for another year or two, lobbyists say there is a slightly better-than-even chance Congress will extend the debt forgiveness provisions, unless the entire fiscal cliff negotiations implode.
Could some of the other housing issues ‹ energy-conservation and mortgage insurance premium deductions especially ‹ get sidetracked during the lame-duck session? Absolutely. Although the Senate Finance Committee approved a bipartisan bill to renew these and dozens of other tax code preferences in August, it never came to a vote in the full Senate and its fate is uncertain.
Since neither of the housing extensions is weighty enough to pass on its own, they will need to be included in a much larger omnibus bill. If they don't make it onto the bus in the final rush, they probably won't survive the session.
Source: L.A. Times