Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tax credit and deduction tips for home improvement in 2012

(ARA) - With the new year under way, you may be thinking about needed home improvements and how you'll use your credit to fund them. While it's important to understand your credit before making major home improvement decisions, you should also consider another kind of credit - tax credits for energy efficient home improvements.

For the past few years, the federal government has offered tax credits for certain home improvements aimed at increasing a home's energy efficiency. While the most popular and generous tax credits, such as the one that allowed you to claim up to 30 percent of improvements such as a new roof or hot water heater, have expired, you can still get credit for other significant energy-efficient improvements.

According to, you can claim a tax credit for 30 percent of the cost of installing a geothermal heat pump, small wind turbine or solar energy system in your home. The credit has no upper limit and applies to both existing homes and new construction, but not to rental properties. This credit is good until Dec. 31, 2016.

You can also get a credit of up to 30 percent of the cost of residential fuel cells, up to $500 per .5kW of power capacity, says. This credit is also available until Dec. 31, 2016.

While the initial cost of these improvements may seem significant, they can dramatically decrease home energy bills in the long run.

Depending on the type of home improvement or repair you undertake, you may also be able to claim a deduction on your taxes. Before launching a significant home repair or improvement, it may pay to consult with your tax accountant to see what, if any, portion of the cost may be deductible. And, as you do home repairs throughout the year, keep receipts and discuss the improvements and possible deductions with your accountant when he or she is preparing your tax return.

Knowing ahead of time which, if any, tax credits or deductions your home improvement may qualify for can help you make a better decision about how to use credit to fund the work. Since how you use credit affects your overall credit score, knowing the cost of a project before starting it can help you better manage your credit.

If you're unsure how a home improvement project may affect your credit score, websites like can help you understand your credit. The site offers members a Credit Score Estimator that can help you understand how big financial decisions, like applying for a home improvement loan, may affect your credit score.

To learn more about tax credits for energy efficient home improvements, visit To learn more about tax deductions, visit You can find a list of regional tax credits, rebates and savings at

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Today's boomers downsize homes, but upsize the amenities

Say goodbye to the McMansion. According to a leading real estate website,, 2010 was officially the year that homes over 3,200 square feet ended their dominance and appeal. But don't think that downsizing means downgrading. In fact, homeowners are looking to upsize their amenities to help them enjoy every inch of their homes.

And, while many different generations are following this trend, Boomers are a unique group, looking to enjoy their smaller nest now that the kids have flown the coop - yet ensure that their homes are filled with the many amenities they'll require for their golden years.

Anything but basic baths

While they may purchase a smaller floor plan, mature adults are looking for ways to turn ordinary rooms into extraordinarily indulgent experiences. In the bath, that means the ultimate spa experience - from elaborate showers to heated floors and towel warmers. But when it comes to the bathroom, it's just as important to keep it safe. Luckily, safe can also equate to stylish. Try installing comfortable seating for the shower with a beautiful fold-down shower seat made of teak and aluminum; or updating common bath accessories such as a paper holder, towel bar or shelf with a new integrated version that combines each accessory with a grab bar for added safety.

"Our goal is to make every bath a safe bath. And, for savvy homeowners looking to incorporate safety at any age, it's essential we provide products to meet their safety and style requirements," says Laurie Birko, Moen Home Care brand manager. "Our newest products, such as our Fold-Down Shower Seat and Grab Bars with Accessories look like decorative pieces rather than safety devices, so homeowners no longer have to choose between safety or style ... they can have both."

Kitchens that cook ... and more

Different generations have very specific desires in terms of creating a kitchen to meet their needs, and according to findings from the Research Institute for Cooking and Kitchen Intelligence, boomers are looking for kitchens with amenities that will assist with entertaining. These upgrades may include cooktops with special-purpose features, such as a built-in grill or wok; commercial or professional-grade appliances; a built-in coffee pot connected directly to plumbing or an oven that dramatically reduces cooking times without microwaves.

Bedrooms that sizzle

Mature adults still know how to spice up their bedroom with hot amenities, including fireplaces, heated mattress pads and large-capacity warming cabinets for blankets, robes, towels and clothing. Convenience-based bedroom trends include a laundry room off of the master suite, remote-controlled window treatments and voice controlled lighting and electronics, making your mature boudoir much more magical than your childhood bedroom.

The greater outdoors

No-mow lawns have sprouted up as a time-, water-, fuel- and money-saving alternative to the traditional lawn. These lawns have been around for over a decade in parks and other public spaces. Now they're catching on with homeowners - particularly with the growing population of second-homeowners who don't want to spend their precious getaway weekends mowing the lawn. They're also becoming popular with mature adults who are simply tired of the rigors and high cost of constant lawn upkeep.

For homeowners in colder climates who are tired of the hassles and hazards of snow removal, driveway heating systems are an ideal amenity. Radiant driveway heating systems provide heat similar to indoor in-floor heating systems. Heat is delivered with either electric cable (electric systems) or by hot water pumped through plastic tubing (hydronic systems) compacted in the surface. Most driveway heating systems have automatic smart sensors that turn the systems on when it begins to snow, providing great consistency and reliability for snow removal, whether you're home or not.

And, with safety always a concern - both indoors and out - driveway heating systems are not only convenient; these systems are potentially lifesavers, helping prevent heart attacks, frostbite and back pain commonly associated with snow removal. Driveway heating also helps reduce injuries due to slips and falls, and possibly liability due to such accidents.

Regardless of the size of your home, whether you build new or buy used, filling your empty nest with hot amenities will help to make your golden years as good as gold. For more information about Moen Home Care bath safety products, visit

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Video Tour - 637 Shady Bridge Lane

Just Listed by the Grove Team, Keller Williams

637 Shady Bridge

Located in the Carriage Gate Addition, Keller - this home has all the right touches in all the right places. Situated on a prime corner lot, the home features four bedrooms and two and half baths. Call the Grove Team today to schedule your private showing! (817) 337-0000

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Recent Flood Could Have Been Avoided

Recently, a member of the Grove Team came home to a gushing laundry room faucet. The water had not gotten past the tile in the hall, but the entire event could have been a disaster had she come home a few hours later.

This reminded me to mention that anyone who might be leaving a home vacant for any period of time should cap off the laundry room and ice maker faucets. The parts to do so are about $10 and could prevent thousands of dollars in damage.

This is just one way a homeowner can eliminate the possibility of water damage while not occupying a residence. Although some owners choose to cut off the water at the street, this step can create a great deal of inconvience. Taking smaller steps, such as cutting off water to toilets and capping laundry room faucets can prevent accidents without making water unavailable to all visitors.

For more ideas of steps you can take to avoid damage while your home is vacant, call the Grove Team at 817-337-0000 or email us at

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Video Tour - 640 Cardinal Lane, Keller

Just Listed by the Grove Team

640 Cardinal Lane, Keller

Offered at $165,000

Located across the street from the community pool and park, this home sits on a beautiful corner lot. Featuring three bedrooms and two baths, it has been lightly lived in and is ready for you to come take a look. For a quick preview, check out the video!

Then call the Grove Team, Keller Williams to schedule your private showing - (817) 337-0000 or find us online,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Latest Statistics in for Third Quarter Home Sales in Texas

According to the Texas Quarterly Housing Report, issued by the Texas Association of REALTORS and compiled by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M, statewide home sales were up 18% in the third quarter of 2011 with prices holding steady. Statistics for area cities will be released as they become available.

Part of the increase could be linked to housing becoming more affordable. In 2010, housing affordabililty was at its highest rate in the past 20 years. First time home buyers are pleased with their home purchases:

  • 67% were able to purchase a home sooner than they expected

  • 50% were able to purchase a home in a better neighborhood than they expected

  • 61% purchased at a better price than they expected

  • 43% were able to lock in a better interest rate than expected

To talk about why purchasing a home in today's market is a smart decision, call the Grove Team at 817-337-0000 or contact us online at