1558 Orange Grove Road: 3BR / 1BA West Ashley Home For Rent

1558 Orange Grove Road: 3BR / 1BA West Ashley Home For Rent $1,250/month
 
1558 Orange Grove Road: 3BR / 1BA West Ashley Home For Rent
 
Just renovated 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom, 1,200 square feet home.  New roof and new central heating and air system less than two months old.  Fresh paint throughout.  All floors hardwood with new ceramic tile in kitchen, dining room, laundry room, and bathroom.  Large lot with plenty of off street parking.  Centrally located in West Ashley with quic access to I-26, I-526, and Downtown. Rent is $1,250/month with $800 security deposit.  No smoking inside home and no pets.  Please contact me if you are interested.
 
Sincerely,
 
"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com 
joe@carolinajoe.com
843-557-9203

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog :Will Government Shutdown Effect Real Estate?

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe that Charleston SC Homes are truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your here at Charleston SC Homes For Sale we look forward to meeting all your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:


Charleston Homes For Sale : Will Government Shutdown Effect Real Estate?

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog : Will Government Shutdown Effect Real Estate?

Most of the federal government programs that the real estate market relies on will continue to operate with minimal disturbance.  But, there will be some to halt operations or experience service delays. Here are the key takeaways:

1. Those with mortgage loans in process could experience delays as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) transcripts may not be able to be pulled in a timely manner, which are a required part of the mortgage underwriting process.

2.  The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will continue to operate the single-family program. However, the FHA will NOT make any new commitments for multi-family lending.

3.  The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will continue operations. Changes to NFIP took effect as scheduled today. For more on those changes, click here.

4.  The USDA Rural Housing Program will NOT make any new commitments for loans during the shutdown.For a full breakdown of the impact of the federal government shutdown on real estate, click here.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

At Charleston SC Homes For Sale I can answer any questions concerning your next home.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Homes For Sale anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of Visual Tours of Charleston SC Homes For Sale at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog : How the 2013 Fiscal Cliff Deal Affects Real Estate

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe that Charleston SC Homes are truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your here at Charleston SC Homes For Sale we look forward to meeting all your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:


Charleston SC Real Estate Blog :  How the 2013 Fiscal Cliff Deal Affects Real Estate


Most everyone in the United States is aware that the US congress passed a bill to avoid the so called Fiscal Cliff.  Below are the highlights of the bill’s impact on Real Estate:

1.  Mortgage Cancellation Relief is extended for one year to January, 2014

2.  Mortgage Interest Deduction remains unchanged

3. Deduction for Mortgage Insurance Premiums for filers making below    $110,000 is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012

4. Leasehold Improvements: The 15 year straight-line cost recovery for   qualified leasehold on commercial properties extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012

4. Energy Efficiency Tax Credit: The 10% tax credit (up to $500) for homeowners for energy efficiency improvements to existing homes is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012

5.  Return of the Pease Limitations
The Pease Limitations are permanently repealed for most tax payers.   The limitations will only apply to individuals earning more than $250,000 and joint filers earning more than $300,000. The thresholds are indexed for inflation and will rise over time.

6. Capital Gains rate stays at 15% for those individual filers earning       $400,000 or joint filers earning $450,000. After that any gains above those amounts will be taxed at 20%. The 250/500k exclusion for sale of principle residence remains in place.

7. Estate Tax: The first $5 million in individual estates and $10 million for family estates are now exempted from the estate tax. After that, the rate will be 40%, up from 35%. The exemption amounts are indexed for inflation.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

At Charleston SC Homes For Sale I can answer any questions concerning your next home.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Homes For Sale anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Homes For Sale at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Thank You!!

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog just went over 300,000 view and 1,100 postings.  Thanks to veryone for their participation and comments.  Let me know how I can improve the Charleston SC Real Estate Blog.

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman

 

 

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog: Charleston County is 21st Best county in the US For Job Growth

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, thedining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog:  Charleston County is 21st Best county in the US For Job Growth

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog:  Charleston County is 21st Best county in the US For Job Growth

CNN recently released an article on the top 25 Counties in the United States for job growth from 2000 to 2010.  Charleston County is ranked 21st in the Country for job growth during this time. 

The report noted the exceptional growth of the aerospace industry and the Boeing 787 Facility along with the growth at the ports in Charleston and Georgetown. 

Here is the article in its entirety:

Job growth (2000-2010): 30.5%

The Dreamliner has landed in Charleston County.Boeing will assemble its 787 passenger jet at a $750,000 million plant there. Although the ribbon cutting ceremony was only in June, the facility has already brought 1,000 jobs, with the promise of 2,800 more to come. Aerospace is one of the county's fastest-growing industries with more than a dozen companies in the area.

Meanwhile, the proximity of the Medical University of South Carolina and its research facilities is a major draw for Charleston County's biosciences sector. More than 30 companies have set up shop. Other target industries include tech, advanced security and auto parts makers and suppliers.

Business is also booming at one of the nation's busiest cargo ports. Container shipping at the ports of Charleston and Georgetown is up 10% in the current fiscal year, while non-container cargo has jumped 40%.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Things to Consider for Your Move

Things to Consider for Your Move
Moving in this economy is no easy thing. In order to make sure that you come out on top, you have several things to consider. First, you should take into account the job market in the places you’re looking at. If you can’t find a job once you’ve moved, you won’t be in the best position. Second, you need to look at the cost of living to make sure that you can actually afford living in your new place day-by-day. Taking these things together, you can know where to look, be it New York, the Midwest or Austin real estate.
First, the job market. When it comes to finding a job in a place with a good economy, you can’t go wrong with Texas right now. Comparing all of the states
If you’re wondering why California wasn’t just recommended even though it has as many major corporations as Texas, go ahead and take a look at the cost of living. California is tied for the title of most expensive state with Hawaii, which means that, even though you can find a job in both California and Texas, the Texan one will let you get more for the money you make. Even lower than Texas, the cost of living in the Midwest is amazing. As Forbes says, the entire Midwest has a rock-bottom cost of living simply because it is entirely landlocked. Considering that this economy has chased visions of fancy, beachside condos out of most peoples’ minds, this isn’t a big loss. If you know you’re not going to go in the coastal direction, you might as well milk as much money out of that fact as possible.
So when you’re wondering where to move, remember to check out the cost of living and job market of wherever you’re looking. You can’t do any better than the Midwest when it comes to the cost of living, but Texas isn’t too much more expensive and has an amazing job market to boot. Do your research and you’ll easily be able to come out on top of your move!
James Kim writes for Austin Real Estate service Homecity.com. HomeCity combines powerful online Austin MLS search technology and other online tools with personalized real estate services to provide clients with the knowledge they need to make the right buying and selling decisions.
 
 

Home Security Check

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic,golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Home Security Check
Article From HouseLogic.com

By: Joseph D'Agnese
Published: February 01, 2010

The first step toward protecting your home from break-ins is to conduct a home security check that will show where your property is most vulnerable.
 
A professionally installed and monitored home security system (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/home-security-systems-make-smart-choice/) is a nice addition to your home's defenses, but it shouldn't be your first step toward protecting your property from intruders. Before you invest in an alarm system, conduct your own home security check. Walk around your house, inside and out, and assess what needs to be done to reduce the risk of a break-in and lessen the degree of loss if an intruder does manage to get in. Depending on what you find, you can install needed hardware upgrades yourself or hire a pro.

This step-by-step list, arranged according to the hierarchy of risk, is a good place to start.

Your home's appearance

Burglars want an easy target. Stand on the street outside your house and ask yourself: Does my property look neglected, hidden, or uninhabited? A front door or walkway that's obscured by shrubbery offers crooks the perfect cover they need while they break a door or window.

Consider trimming shrubs away from windows, widening front walks, and installing outdoor lighting with motion detectors. Simple motion-activated floodlights cost less than $50, and installing them is an easy DIY job if the wiring is already in place. All sides of your house should be well-lit, not just the front.
Doors: The first line of defense

Are your front and back doors (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/exterior-door-installation-options/) vulnerable? Steel, solid wood, and impact-resistant fiberglass are all good choices for security. If you must have glass, make sure it is tempered or reinforced for added strength, and that sidelights are positioned where somebody can't easily reach in and turn the lock.

Open all doors and check the strike plates, the metal fittings that catch bolts and latches. Chances are, the strike plates are fastened to the soft wood of the door jamb with two screws only. Not good. Best are four-screw strike plates with 3-inch screws that penetrate the jamb and bite into the hard wood of the stud behind the jamb. All exterior doors should have deadbolts that throw at least a 1-inch bolt. Ask your locksmith to upgrade to Grade 1 or Grade 2 locksets and deadbolts, the most secure options.

Back doors and garage doors are more likely to be attacked before the front door, according to Chris McGoey, a Los Angeles-based home security consultant. If you have an attached garage, secure the door by disabling the automatic opener and locking the door before you go away on a long trip. The door leading from the garage into the house should be outfitted with the same hardware as all other exterior doors and be kept locked at all times.

Windows

In order of risk, ground-floor and basement windows are more likely to be attacked than second-floor windows. The exception is second-floor windows that can be easily accessed by a deck or other elevated structure outside the home. Make sure all windows can be opened, closed, and locked with relative ease–and then remember to lock them. The biggest problem with windows is that homeowners leave the house and leave them wide open.

For added security, consider installing blocking devices on the most easily accessed windows so they can't be opened from outside, says McGoey. Wooden dowels laid in the track block windows that slide horizontally, and steel locking pins (about $7 each) inserted in small holes drilled through the frames prevent windows from sliding vertically. If you install a home security system later, the pros will install glass-break sensors on your most vulnerable windows.

Storage sheds

Don't ignore the doors and windows on your outdoor storage shed, especially if you store tools such as ladders, saws, screwdrivers, and hammers, any of which would be handy to a burglar. As with house doors, the best option is a secure deadbolt. Hasp closures are easily defeated because someone can insert a crowbar behind the hasp and snap it.

Not all storage shed doors are able to accommodate a deadbolt. In that case, opt for a heavy-duty slide bolt ($15-$25) instead of a hasp closure. With one of these, a tough steel bolt slides into a fitting attached to the shed door frame or a second shed door. The bolt is then rotated down and locked in place with a padlock. When attaching a slide bolt, avoid screws, which can be easily undone. You're better off using nuts and bolts because they're stronger, and because the nut does its job from the interior of the shed.

Patio doors

It's relatively easy to lift a set of older patio doors off the track, even when they are locked. Don't attempt to do this on your audit, but take time to inspect the doors and hardware. Replace any missing or broken locks, and consider installing and using locking pins to prevent them from sliding.

Consider your family's habits: Do you leave the patio doors open all summer? Locking the screen door isn't good enough; it keeps out bugs, not thieves. Get in the habit of closing and locking patio doors when they're unattended or you're not home.

Safeguarding household valuables

Thieves want easy-to-grab electronics, cash, jewelry, and other valuables, though some are not above running down the street with your flat-screen TV. Most make a beeline for the master bedroom, because that's where we're likely to hide spare cash, jewelry, even guns.

Tour each room and ask yourself: Is there anything here that I can move to my safe deposit box? Consider getting rid of old jewelry you never wear. A home safe, bolted to your basement slab, is a good spot for everything else. Have you made a video inventory (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/home-inventory-tools/) of other items of value in your home? Are you properly insured (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/homeowners-insurance-time-for-annual-check-up/) for theft? Understand that high-ticket items in your home office (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/home-office-security-check/), such as computers, professional camera equipment, or other business essentials, may require an additional rider or a separate policy. And take steps to back up the personal information stored on your home computer.

Joseph D'Agnese is a journalist and book author who has written numerous articles on home improvement. He lives in North Carolina.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog: Home Office Security Check

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog:  Home Office Security Check
Article From HouseLogic.com

 
By: Joseph D'Agnese
Published: January 29, 2010

 
This quick home-office security check will help you protect computer equipment, electronics, and personal data from theft, fire, and other dangers.
 
More and more people are working from home these days, which means home offices are bulging with pricey equipment — computers, printers, digital cameras — in need of protection. More precious even than the actual hardware is your irreplaceable personal data, whether stored digitally on your computer and hard drives or in the form of hard-copy documents.

A professional home security system can help reduce your losses, but not taking a few extra steps is asking for trouble. This home-office security check is designed to highlight the hot spots and help you protect valuable home-office equipment and information.

Make sure you're insured

Take a look around your office. Are you properly insured for all of your equipment and possessions? Don't assume that your umbrella homeowner's policy (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/whats-covered-umbrella-insurance/) is sufficient. Most policies will cover replacement of computers only up to a specific dollar amount, say $1,000 or $2,500. You'll bear the rest of the cost, unless you add a rider to your existing policy. (Riders tend to be inexpensive; you may pay an extra $50 a year to cover all your camera equipment, for example.)

Equipment that you use solely for business may not be covered at all by your homeowner's policy, necessitating a separate commercial policy. The cost of these policies varies widely, depending on the type of work you do and the value of the items. Equipment on loan from your employer, such as an office laptop, should be covered under your employer's policy.

Back it up–twice

Are you are currently backing up your data to an external hard drive? If you are, good for you, but you can't rest there. If you lost both computer and backup drive to theft or fire, you'd be out of luck. Better is a service such as CrashPlan (http://www.crashplan.com), which charges $100 a year to constantly back up all your critical data to a remote server.

Paper documents are slightly trickier than the digital variety, because they're usually one-of-a-kind. That's why important data–insurance policies, Social Security cards, passports, auto titles, a list of your family's credit card numbers, etc.–should be stored off-site in a safe deposit box ($50 to $75 a year) or in a fireproof safe bolted to your basement slab. You can scan and digitize these documents to keep them handy, but be sure to back up the digital versions, too.

Bear in mind that digital media, such as DVDs and CDs, can still melt in a fireproof safe. Media safes constructed by companies such as FireKing (http://www.fireking.com) are built to block heat transfer, but you'll pay for the extra protection. A 650-pound, 1.5-cubic-foot safe that can hold 140 CDs might run you $3,000; smaller ones that hold 20 CDs cost about $400.

Avoid data and identity theft

Backups are fine, but they won't keep prying eyes off your data if your computer is stolen. Most computers have built-in security features–controlled via their system preferences panel–that you probably aren't using. For example, you can drag your most sensitive data into a single password-protected folder. Or you can "disable automatic login" so the computer can't boot up without a password.

If you want to go whole hog, activate your built-in encryption program or install a third-party program such as the free download True Crypt (http://www.truecrypt.org) that will scramble every file on your computer. Without the password, no one can access a single file. The downside: If you lose or forget the password, adios data. If you're not comfortable with high-tech data security measures, then the best advice is probably the simplest: Install a solid office door with a good lock.

Protect against power surges

Electronic equipment that you use every day should be plugged into surge protectors ($40 and up). These devices, which look like high-end power strips, guard against occasional fluctuations in electricity coming from your local power company, or from electrical appliances cycling on and off inside the house.

Surge protectors can't make up for improper wiring or insufficient power coming into the house. If you're unsure of your home's power capacity, consider hiring an electrician to do a wiring inspection. Ask him to check how many amps your electrical panel carries (200 amps is typical of most modern homes).
Even if a wiring upgrade (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/when-time-for-electrical-wiring-upgrade/) isn't in order, ask him to clamp a whole-house surge protector (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/value-whole-house-surge-protectors/) onto your electrical panel and to any other incoming transmission lines, such as cable or data lines. These units, which cost between $200 and $300 installed, can stop a 40,000-amp surge in its tracks.

Not even a top-of-the-line surge protector, however, can guard against a direct lighting strike. As an added measure, unplug all sensitive appliances during a lightning storm, or if you're leaving your home for a lengthy period of time.

Joseph D'Agnese is a journalist and book author who has written numerous articles on home improvement. He lives in North Carolina.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog: Do-It-Yourself Home Security Check: Doors are First Line of Defense

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog:  Do-It-Yourself Home Security Check: Doors are First Line of Defense
Article From HouseLogic.com

 
By: Joseph D'Agnese
Published: November 12, 2010

 
Protect against break-ins with a security check that shows where the entrances to your house–your doors–are vulnerable.
 
The easiest way for an intruder to get into your house is by coming through the door. All of your efforts to protect your home, including an electronic home security system, are useless if your doors aren't secure. Before you invest in an alarm system, conduct your own home security check (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/do-it-yourself-home-security-check-5-essential-steps/) of the entry points to your house.

Think like a burglar

First, stand back: is your front door visible from the street, or is it obscured by bushes? A door that's covered by shrubbery offers thieves the perfect chance to break in without being seen.

Trim back or remove shrubbery that offers cover for potential intruders.
Upgrade strike plates and deadbolts
Open all doors and check the strike plates, the metal fittings that catch bolts and latches. Chances are, they're fastened to the soft wood of the door jamb with two screws only. Not good. Upgrade security with four-screw strike plates ($3) and 3-inch screws that bite all the way into the stud behind the jamb.

When conducting your home security check, make sure exterior doors have deadbolts that throw at least a 1-inch bolt. Ask your locksmith to upgrade to Grade 1 or Grade 2 locksets and deadbolts ($25 to $80), the most secure options.

Check garage doors

Back doors and garage doors are more likely to be attacked than the front door. If you have an attached garage, disable the automatic opener and lock the garage door before you go away on a long trip. The door leading from the garage into the house should be outfitted with the same hardware as exterior doors and kept locked at all times.

Patio doors are vulnerable

Sliding doors leading to a patio can be a home's weak spot. To beef up security:

 •Closely inspect the doors and their hardware.

 •Replace any missing or broken locks.

 •Consider installing locking pins to prevent the doors from sliding.

 •Get into the habit of locking the doors, not just the screen, when patio doors are unattended.

Replace your entry door

Check the construction of your entry doors (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/exterior-door-installation-options/). Those made of steel, solid wood, and impact-resistant fiberglass are all good choices for security. If you must have glass, make sure it is tempered or reinforced for added strength. Expect to pay $1,400 to $2,300 for an exterior replacement door, including installation.

Strengthen the lock on your outdoor storage shed

Don't ignore the doors on your outdoor storage shed, especially if you store tools there; they could be useful to a burglar. As with house doors, the best option is a secure deadbolt. If your shed doors are unable to accommodate a deadbolt, a heavy-duty slide bolt ($15 to $25) secured by a padlock is a good substitute.?

Joseph D'Agnese is a journalist and book author who has written numerous articles on home improvement. He lives in North Carolina.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

 

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog: Do-It-Yourself Home Security: Windows May Leave You Vulnerable

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog:  Do-It-Yourself Home Security: Windows May Leave You Vulnerable
Article From HouseLogic.com

 
By: Joseph D'Agnese
Published: November 12, 2010

 
Protecting your home from break-ins starts with a do-it-yourself home security check to indicate whether your windows are an open invitation to criminals.
 
Imagine how scary it would be to wake up in the middle of the night and realize an intruder has gained access to your home. Protecting against a break-in might mean investing in a professionally installed and monitored home security system (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/home-security-system-installation-how-they-work/), but that shouldn't be the first step.

Begin by conducting your own home security check; after you've checked all of your home's exterior doors for weak spots, move on to examine its windows.

Check ground-floor and basement windows
Ground-floor and basement windows are more likely to be targeted than those on the second floor, and deserve the most attention. The exception is those second-floor windows that can be easily accessed by a deck or other elevated structure outside the home.

Start your home security check (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/do-it-yourself-home-security-check-5-essential-steps/) by looking at your ground-floor windows from afar. Are they blocked by high shrubbery? Bushes give ideal cover for someone planning to break or force open a window; cut greenery back so that front windows are fully visible from the street.

Keep locks locked                                                                                                                                                   Make sure all windows can be opened, closed, and locked with relative ease-and then remember to keep them locked whenever you're not around. The biggest problem that occurs with windows is when home owners exit their home and leave windows wide open-and vulnerable.

In spring and fall, when daytime temperatures swing and windows are frequently opened and closed, get in the habit of locking windows as you shut them.

Install simple security devices
Add blocking devices to the most easily accessed windows so they can't be opened from outside.
      •Wooden dowels placed in the track block windows that slide horizontally, and require no installation.

      •Steel locking pins (about $7 each), inserted in small holes that must be drilled through the frames, prevent vertically-sliding windows from being opened.

If you install a home security system later, the pros will install glass-break sensors on your most vulnerable windows.

Check garage windows
Garage windows are often forgotten-give them a home security check to make sure they're securely locked. Install curtains or apply translucent security film on garage windows so that valuables aren't readily visible. Thieves are more likely to attempt a break-in if they see items worth stealing.

Joseph D'Agnese is a journalist and book author who has written numerous articles on home improvement. He lives in North Carolina.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog: Home Security Cameras: Peace of Mind While You’re Away

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Charleston SC Real Estate Blog Home Security Cameras: Peace of Mind While You’re Away
Article From HouseLogic.com

 
By: Les Shu
Published: February 17, 2011

 
Easy-to-install security cameras let you keep an eye on your home from afar, ensuring safety and security for you and your family.
 
Camera surveillance was once available to business owners and the ultra-rich, and required professional installation. Thanks to Internet-based web cameras (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webcam), adding home security cameras is an affordable weekend project.

Security cameras offer peace of mind. They let you log in remotely and view what's happening at home, like keeping tabs on an elderly relative, the babysitter, and your pets. They also let you monitor your home while you're away on vacation. These cameras can help deter break-ins, and you may get a discount on home owners insurance (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/homeowners-insurance-time-for-annual-check-up/), depending on the system you've installed.
Network cameras
Internet-based network cameras are a quick solution in setting up home surveillance. They connect to your broadband connection and don't require difficult wiring or mounting.

Logitech's Alert lets you view either real-time or recorded footage-with audio-of the inside and outside of your house through your iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry smartphone, and the system is expandable by adding additional cameras. You'll get text or email notifications on your phone or computer if the camera's motion sensor is triggered.

Panasonic's BL-C131A goes one step further by giving you remote pan and tilt control from your smartphone or computer, allowing you to view in eight different positions.

The Alert 750i Master System starts at $299.99. (A similar device from D-Link (http://mydlink.dlink.com/DCS930L) costs $119.99.) The Panasonic BL-C131A costs around $300.
Riding the Z-Wave
If you have a Z-Wave-based (http://www.z-wave.com/modules/AboutZ-Wave/) home automation system installed, you can add wireless cameras to create a security network inside and outside of your house.

ADT's Pulse (http://www.adtpulse.com) is a complete home alarm system that uses Z-Wave cameras for home monitoring from your iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android. ADT Pulse service plans start at $48 a month, not including installation and cameras.

Schlage's LiNK (http://link.schlage.com) offers its Z-Wave Wireless Camera as an option to its electronic locks. Like ADT's Pulse, you can also perform additional home management functions with compatible Z-Wave products like thermostats. Schlage LiNK starter kits cost around $300, and the Wireless Camera costs around $150.

Similar wireless security cameras are available for X10 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X10_%28industry_standard%29) home automation systems.
DIY camera
You can turn a basic computer webcam into a surveillance system using free downloadable software from Yawcam (http://www.yawcam.com/) and EyeSpyFX (http://www.eyespyfx.com/index.html). You're required to have your computer remain on, but once set up you can log in remotely from another computer-say, at work-and view streaming video of your home. Just position the camera at what you want to monitor.

Yawcam offers motion detection and can send a snapshot to your email when triggered; while EyeSpyFX lets you view footage from dedicated iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry apps.

An affordable webcam like Microsoft's LifeCam VX-2000 (http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/digitalcommunication/ProductDetails.aspx?pid=017) costs about $30 or less.

A writer covering the latest technologies and trends for a variety of national publications, Les Shu is currently automating his home with the newest doodads to make it smarter than he is.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Your Home Mortgage Interest Deduction Is Being Threatened

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Your Home Mortgage Interest Deduction Is Being Threatened

Congress and the Administration are looking into scaling back or eliminating the Mortgage Interest Deduction. The consequences would be devastating to the recovering housing market and the tens of millions of home owners who benefit from the deduction. 

The mortgage interest deduction helps make homeownership more affordable by allowing home owners to deduct the interest that they pay on the mortgage for their home when calculating their annual federal income tax.

Contrary to assertions by some economists, the income tax deductions for mortgage interest and real estate taxes primarily benefit middle class taxpayers with incomes between $50,000 and $200,000, according to the findings of a study by the National Association of Home Builders.

Ever since the federal income tax was introduced in 1913, the government has used the tax code to encourage homeownership. Now, as a result of the effort to reduce the federal deficit, the mortgage interest deduction is under fire. Proposed changes to the tax code would have a dramatic impact on home owners and would significantly reduce the value of this deduction.

The House recently introduced a resolution to retain the mortgage interest deduction.  It was introduced by Rep. Gary Miller of California, H. Res. 25 supports retaining the mortgage interest deduction.  At present, there are more than 40 co-sponsors for this important resolution. To learn more about the Mortgage Interest Deduction and how you can help protect it visit http://savemymid.info/ .

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com
 

2011 Energy Tax Credits: What You Need to Know to Collect

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

2011 Energy Tax Credits: What You Need to Know to Collect
By: Donna Fuscaldo

Published: January 26, 2011

Washington is giving you less green for going green, as the feds reel back the 2011 energy tax credits from a lavish $1,500 to a paltry $500.

Other limits on energy tax credits besides $500 max

Credit only extends to 10% of the cost (not the 30% of yesteryear), so you have to spend $5,000 to get $500.
$500 is a lifetime limit. If you pocketed $500 or more in 2009 and 2010 combined, you’re not entitled to any more money for energy-efficient improvements in the above seven categories. But if you took $300 in the last two years, for example, you can get up to $200 in 2011.
With some systems, your cap is even lower than $500.
$500 is the max for all qualified improvements combined.
Certain systems capped below $500
No matter how much you spend on some approved items, you’ll never get the $500 credit–though you could combine some of these:

System Cap

New windows $200 max (and no, not per window—overall)
Advanced main air-circulating fan $50 max
Qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler $150 max
Approved electric and geothermal heat pumps; central air-conditioning systems; and natural gas, propane, or oil water heaters $300 max

And not all products are created equal in the feds' eyes. Improvements have to meet IRS energy-efficiency standards to qualify for the tax credit. In the case of boilers and furnaces, they have to meet the 95 AFUE standard. EnergyStar.gov has the details.
Tax credits cover installation—sometimes
Rule of thumb: If installation is either particularly difficult or critical to safe functioning, the credit will cover labor. Otherwise, not. (Yes, you’d have to be pretty handy to install your own windows and roof, but the feds put these squarely in the “not covered” category.)

Installation covered for:

Biomass stoves
HVAC
Non-solar water heaters

Installation not covered for:

Insulation
Roofs
Windows, doors, and skylights
How to claim the 2011 energy tax credit
Determine if the system you’re considering is eligible for the credits. Go to Energy Star's website for detailed descriptions of what’s covered; then talk to your vendor.

Save system receipts and manufacturer certifications. You’ll need them if the IRS asks for proof.

File IRS Form 5695 with the rest of your tax forms in 2012.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but isn’t intended to be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice, and remember that tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

Donna Fuscaldo has written about alternative energy for Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, and Fox Business News for more than a decade. She is currently renovating her house with an eye toward energy efficiency and green technologies.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com
 

Get Your 2010 Energy Tax Credits: Filing Tips for Form 5695

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Get Your 2010 Energy Tax Credits: Filing Tips for Form 5695
By: Barbara Eisner Bayer

Published: January 27, 2011

Sidestep snares in the complex IRS Form 5695 to get all the 2010 energy tax credits you’ve got coming.

Fill out the right part of Form 5695
What type of system did you install? If it’s one of the following, complete Part 1 for Non-business Energy Tax Credits.

Biomass stoves
Insulation
HVAC systems
Roofs
Non-solar water heaters
Windows, doors, skylights
Storm windows and doors
Max credit: 30% of the cost of the improvement, up to $1,500.

If you installed one of these souped-up systems, complete Part 2 for Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit.

Geothermal heat pumps
Residential wind turbines
Solar energy systems
Fuel cells
Max credit: 30% of the cost, with no limit except for a kilowatt limit on fuel cells.

What do I need on hand to fill out Form 5695?
 
Receipts that show the amount you spent. The feds won’t pay for installation for some items. For those, the receipts must separate out the labor so you can add just the cost.

Manufacturers’ certifications indicating that the improvements are eligible for the credit. Store them in a safe place in case the IRS asks for them in the future, but no need to file them with your return.
Coordinate with Form 1040 and other forms

For Part I, it’s pretty simple: Just enter the total of all this part’s credits (as shown on line 11) on Form 1040, line 52.

For Part II, it can get complicated because other credits, claimed on other forms, can affect the amount of your Part II credit.

If you need to fill out any of the following forms, have all the information needed to complete those at hand, because Form 5695, line 25, coordinates with all of them. (In fact, you’ll find it simplest to prepare all these forms more or less simultaneously.)

Form 1040—lines 47 through 50, which refer to other credits you may be eligible for
Publication 972—the child tax credit
Form 8369—mortgage interest credits you may have
Form 8859—tax credits applicable only to residents of the District of Columbia
Form 8834—electric vehicle credit
Form 8910—alternative motor vehicle credit
Form 8936—electric drive motor vehicle credit
Schedule R—care for the elderly or disabled
One form that’s irrelevant to completing 5695: Schedule A. That’s only for deductions, not credits. And you don’t even need to itemize to claim energy tax credits.

The pitfalls of Form 5695
You’ll find many places you can go wrong in both parts of the form:

Adding ineligible amounts into the form. Just because a product has an Energy Star label doesn’t mean it’s eligible for a credit. Check the details of what’s eligible for the credit and what’s not at Energy Star and make sure the product comes with a manufacturer’s certification.

Failing to keep track of this year’s energy tax credits for future years. Hang on to your tax credit paperwork (including receipts, certifications, and a copy of your completed Form 5695), because if you sell your house you’ll need to record the tax credit amount for tax purposes.

Say you bought your home for $100,000 (the basis) and sold it for $400,000. Your profit is $300,000. But by taking tax credits, you lower your basis, so when you sell the house, you increase your profit in the eyes of the IRS. If you’re in your home for a long time and it appreciates, you increase your chances of getting hit with capital gains. Still, there’s little cause to worry: The government gives married couples selling a home a free pass on up to $500,000 of profit. 
Failing to file this form at all—or only partially. If you’re eligible for a lot of different tax credits, you can conceivably reduce your tax liability to zero. If that’s the case and you want to tack on the 2010 energy tax credit, you’re out of luck. The feds consider it nonrefundable. If it were a refundable tax credit, the IRS would write you a check.

Loophole only if you added a Part II improvement: You can carry the energy tax credit forward to 2011—or even beyond, at least as far as 2016. Even if you’re not eligible this year because you reduced your tax liability to zero, file Form 5695 anyway to make it easier to do the carryforward next year. Or just hold off installing that wind turbine until a year when you anticipate you’ll have fewer tax credits.
Forgetting certain credits that affect Part II—and vice-versa. Pay special attention to line 25: Certain other credits may ultimately affect your ability to fully claim Part II credits—just as Part II credits may affect other credits. Follow the line-by-line instructions in each form carefully. It’s easy to forget a number here.

If you find Form 5695 exasperating, you may be eligible for free tax preparation help from the:

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
Tax Counseling for the Elderly
IRS at 800-829-1040.
Major tax preparation software, such as TurboTax, include this form in their packages.

Barbara Eisner Bayer has written about personal finance for the past 17 years. She works hard to translate IRSese into plain English. She has unbounded respect for CPAs.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Schedule A Form: 6 Home Deduction Traps

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Schedule A Form: 6 Home Deduction Traps

By: Barbara Eisner Bayer
Published: January 27, 2011

Get an “A” on your Schedule A Form: Dodge these tax deduction pitfalls to save time, money, and an IRS investigation.

Trap #1: Line 6 – real estate taxes

Your monthly mortgage payment often includes money for a tax escrow, from which the lender pays your local real estate taxes.

The money you send the bank may be more than what the bank pays for your taxes, says Julian Block, a tax attorney and author of Julian Block’s Home Seller’s Guide to Tax Savings. That will lead you to putting the wrong number on Schedule A.

Example:
Your monthly payment to the lender: $2,000 for mortgage + $500 escrow for taxes
Your annual property tax bill: $5,500
Now do the math:
Your bank received $6,000 for real estate taxes, but only paid $5,500. It may keep the extra $500 to apply to the next tax bill or refund it to you at some point, but meanwhile, you’re making a mistake if you enter $6,000 on Schedule A.
Instead, take the number from Form 1098—which your bank sends you each year—that shows the actual taxes paid.

Trap #2: Line 6 – tax calculations for recent buyers and sellers
 
If you bought or sold a home in the middle of 2010, figuring out what to put on line 6 of your Schedule A Form is tricky.

Don’t simply enter the number from your property tax bill on line 6 as you would if you owned the house the whole year. If you bought or sold a house in midyear, you should instead use the property tax amount listed on your HUD-1 closing statement, says Phil Marti, a retired IRS official.

Here’s why: Generally, depending on the local tax cycle, either the seller gives the buyer money to pay the taxes when they come due or, if the seller has already paid taxes, the buyer reimburses the seller at closing. Those taxes are deductible that year, but won’t be reflected on your property tax bill.

Trap #3: Line 10 – properly deducting points

You can deduct points paid on a refinance, but not all at once, says David Sands, a CPA with Buchbinder Tunick & Co LLP. Rather, you deduct them over the life of your loan. So if you paid $1,000 in points for a 10-year refinance, you’re entitled to deduct only $100 per year on your Schedule A Form.

Trap #4: Line 10 – HELOC limits

If you took out a home equity line of credit (HELOC), you can generally deduct the interest on it only up to $100,000 of debt each year, says Matthew Lender, a CPA with EisnerLubin LLP.

For example, if you have a HELOC for $200,000, the bank will send you Form 1098 for interest paid on $200,000. But you can deduct only the interest paid on $100,000. If you just pull the number off Form 1098, you’ll deduct more than you’re entitled to.

Trap #5: line 13 – Private mortgage insurance

You can deduct PMI on your Schedule A Form, as long as you started paying the insurance after Dec. 31, 2006. (Also, this is also a good time to review your PMI: You might be able to cancel your PMI altogether because you’ve had a change in loan-to-value status.)

Trap #6: line 20 – casualty and theft losses

You can deduct part or all of losses caused by theft, vandalism, fire, or similar causes, as well as corrosive drywall, but the process isn’t always obvious or simple:
Only deduct losses that are greater than 10% of your adjusted gross income (line 38 of Form 1040).
Fill out Form 4684, which involves complex calculations for the cost basis and fair market value.  This form gives you the number you need for line 20.
Bottom line on line 20: If you’ve got extensive losses, it’s best to consult a tax pro. “I wouldn’t do it myself, and I’ve been dealing with taxes for 40 years,” says former IRS official Marti.

Barbara Eisner Bayer has written about personal finance for the past 17 years. She works hard to translate IRSese into plain English. She has unbounded respect for CPAs.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Tax Tips for Homeowners Looking Ahead to 2010 Returns

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Tax Tips for Homeowners Looking Ahead to 2010 Returns
By: Mike DeSenne

Published: February 22, 2010

From energy tax credits to vacation home deductions, check out these tax tips for homeowners looking ahead to 2010 returns.

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.
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 you would on your main home. You can even rent out the home for up to 14 days during the year without getting taxed on the rental income. Not bad.

Now, let's say you want to rent out your vacation home for more than 14 days in 2010, but also use it yourself from time to time. To maximize the tax benefits, you need to keep tabs on how many days you use your vacation home. By restricting your annual personal use to fewer than 15 days (or 10% of total rental days, whichever is greater), you can treat your vacation home as a rental-only income property for tax purposes.

Why is that a big deal? In addition to mortgage interest and real estate taxes, rental-only income properties are eligible for a slew of other tax deductions for everything from utilities and condo fees to housecleaning and repairs. Deductions are limited once personal use exceeds 14 days (or 10% of total rental days), so get out your calendar now to strategically plot your vacations.

Take advantage of tax breaks for the military

In salute to members of the armed forces serving overseas who want to purchase a home, the IRS is extending a lucrative tax perk for military personnel. If you spent at least 90 days abroad performing qualified duty between Jan. 1, 2009, and April 30, 2010, you have an extra year to earn a homebuyer tax credit. In addition to uniformed service members, workers in the Foreign Service and in the intelligence community are eligible.

Thanks to this extension of the homebuyer tax credit, qualifying military personnel have until April 30, 2011, to sign a contract on a new home. The deal must close before July 1, 2011. Just like non-military buyers, first-time homebuyers can earn a tax credit worth up to $8,000, and longtime homeowners can earn a credit of up to $6,500. The same income restrictions and $800,000 cap on home prices apply.

Military personnel can also get a break if official duty calls and they're forced to move for an extended period. Normally, the homebuyer tax credit needs to be repaid if you sell your home within three years, but this requirement is waived for uniformed service members, Foreign Service workers, and intelligence community personnel. The new extended duty posting doesn't need to be overseas, but it must be at least 50 miles from your principal residence.

Challenge your real estate assessment

You can't do much about the rate at which your home is taxed, but you can try to do something about how your home is valued for taxation purposes in 2010. The process varies depending where you live, but in general local governments conduct a periodic real estate assessment to determine how much your home is worth. That real estate assessment figure is used to calculate your property tax bill.

You can usually appeal your real estate assessment if you think it's too high. Contact your local assessor's office to find out the procedure, and be prepared to do some research. There's often no charge to request a review of your assessment.

Look for errors. You probably received an assessment letter in the mail, and many local governments provide the information online as well. Make sure the number of bedrooms and bathrooms is accurate, and the lot size is correct. Also check the assessed value of comparable homes in your area. If they're being assessed for less than your home, you might have a case for relief.

Even if your assessment is accurate and comparable homes are being taxed at the same rate, there might be another route to tax savings. Ask your assessor's office about available property tax exemptions. Local governments often give breaks to seniors, veterans, and the disabled, among others.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but is not intended to be relied upon by readers as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice; tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

Mike DeSenne is Online Managing Editor for taxes, finances, and insurance at HouseLogic.com, and the former Executive Editor of SmartMoney.com. He likes to do his taxes by hand, much to the dismay of his accountant.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

 

Boeing Announces Expanded Mission in North Charleston

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Boeing Announces Expanded Mission in North Charleston

Boeing Announces Expanded Mission in North Charleston

Boeing has announced it has selected a site 10 miles from their 787 assembly site at the airport. They state the land has been purchased from Stone Mountain Industrial Park which has several land holdings throughout the region.

Only one of those holdings is in the North Charleston area, 9 Patriot Boulevard, which happens to be 10 miles from the airport.

As many as 150 jobs coming to the new interiors facility located near the North Charleston final assembly and delivery site.

"By expanding Boeing's footprint in South Carolina, we enhance our existing foundation with Boeing Charleston and further contribute to the growth of aerospace in the region," said Ray Conner, vice president and general manager, Supply Chain Management and Operations, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Ultimately, the decision we made in 2009 builds on our overall strategy to successfully meet our 787 customer commitments and to optimize our production capability."

The Boeing Fabrication Interiors South Carolina team will manufacture 787 interior parts, including stow bins, closets, partitions, class dividers, floor-mounted stow bins used by flight attendants, overhead flight-crew rests, overhead flight attendant crew rests, video-control stations and attendant modules.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

10 Common Errors Home Owners Make When Filing Taxes

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

10 Common Errors Home Owners Make When Filing Taxes
By: G. M. Filisko

Don’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary—know the score on each home tax deduction and credit.

Sin #1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes
You take a tax deduction for property taxes in the year you (or the holder of your escrow account) actually paid them. Some taxing authorities work a year behind—that is, you’re not billed for 2010 property taxes until 2011. But that’s irrelevant to the feds.

Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you actually paid in 2010, no matter what the date is on your tax bill. Dave Hampton, CPA, tax manager at the Cincinnati accounting firm of Burke & Schindler, has seen home owners confuse payments for different years and claim the incorrect amount.

Sin #2: Confusing escrow amount for actual taxes paid
If your lender escrows funds to pay your property taxes, don’t just deduct the amount escrowed, says Bob Meighan, CPA and vice president at TurboTax in San Diego. The regular amount you pay into your escrow account each month to cover property taxes is probably a little more or a little less than your property tax bill. Your lender will adjust the amount every year or so to realign the two.

For example, your tax bill might be $1,200, but your lender may have collected $1,100 or $1,300 in escrow over the year. Deduct only $1,200. Your lender will send you an official statement listing the actual taxes paid. Use that. Don’t just add up 12 months of escrow property tax payments.

Sin #3: Deducting points paid to refinance
Deduct points you paid your lender to secure your mortgage in full for the year you bought your home. However, when you refinance, says Meighan, you must deduct points over the life of your new loan. If you paid $2,000 in points to refinance into a 15-year mortgage, your tax deduction is $133 per year.

Sin #4: Failing to deduct private mortgage insurance
Lenders require home buyers with a downpayment of less than 20% to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI). Avoid the common mistake of forgetting to deduct your PMI payments. However, note the deduction begins to phase out once your adjusted gross income reaches $100,000 and disappears entirely when your AGI surpasses $109,000.

Sin #5: Misjudging the home office tax deduction
This deduction may not be as good as it seems. It often doesn’t amount to much of a deduction, has to be recaptured if you turn a profit when you sell your home, and can pique the IRS’s interest in your return. Hampton’s advice: Claim it only if it’s worth those drawbacks.

Sin #6: Missing the first-time home buyer tax credit
If you met the midyear 2010 deadlines, don’t forget to take this tax credit into account when filing.

Even if you missed the 2010 deadlines, you still might be in luck: Congress extended the first-time home buyer credit for military families and other government workers on assignment outside the United States. If you meet the criteria, you have until June 30, 2011, to close on your first home and qualify for the tax credit of up to $8,000.

Sin #7: Failing to track home-related expenses
If the IRS comes a-knockin’, don’t be scrambling to compile your records. Many people forget to track home office and home maintenance and repair expenses, says Meighan. File away documents as you go. For example, save each manufacturer's certification statement for energy tax credits, insurance company statements for PMI, and lender or government statements to confirm property taxes paid.

Sin #8: Forgetting to keep track of capital gains
If you sold your main home last year, don’t forget to pay capital gains taxes on any profit. However, you can exclude $250,000 (or $500,000 if you’re a married couple) of any profits from taxes. So if you bought a home for $100,000 and sold it for $400,000, your capital gains are $300,000. If you’re single, you owe taxes on $50,000 of gains. However, there are minimum time limits for holding property to take advantage of the exclusions, and other details. Consult IRS Publication 523. 

Sin #9: Filing incorrectly for energy tax credits
If you made any eligible improvement, fill out Form 5695. Part I, which covers the 30%/$1,500 credit for such items as insulation and windows, is fairly straightforward. But Part II, which covers the 30%/no-limit items such as geothermal heat pumps, can be incredibly complex and involves crosschecking with half a dozen other IRS forms. Read the instructions carefully.

Sin #10: Claiming too much for the mortgage interest tax deduction
You can deduct mortgage interest only up to $1 million of mortgage debt, says Meighan. If you have $1.2 million in mortgage debt, for example, deduct only the mortgage interest attributable to the first $1 million.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but is not intended to be relied upon by readers as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Readers should consult a tax professional for such advice, and are reminded that tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who was once mortified to receive a letter from the IRS—but relieved to learn the IRS had simply found a math error in her favor. A frequent contributor to many national publications including AARP.org, Bankrate.com, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

 

Where Is the Shadow Inventory?

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Where Is the Shadow Inventory?

For the last year, the real estate industry has been talking about shadow inventory and the coming flood of distressed properties. Where are they?

Here’s what’s happening, according to a recent paper by Alan Mallach, a senior fellow the Brookings Institution:

1.  Some delinquencies have been resolved through loan modifications or people working out the problems on their own.

2.  Banks are getting better at managing short sales.

3.   Investors are aggressively buying up properties, sometimes in bulk, directly from the banks or at courthouse auctions so they don’t hit the market.

The likeliest outcome, Mallach predicts, is a steady flow of foreclosures over a long timeframe that will prevent another crash in home prices, but will probably lead to low or no appreciation in home prices.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Nick Timiaros (09/16/2010)

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

 

Title Insurance and It's Value

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic,golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Title Insurance and It's Value

Title insurance normally covers defects in the title which do not appear in the public record.  Title insurance indicates only that the title is insurable, not without defects.  In some cases when a defect is found in the public record you can still get title insurance.  However, if you are able to get title insurance when there is a defect found in the public record the title insurance company will make note of it and it will not be covered by the policy.  In South Carolina the buyer typically pays for the title insurance.

There are two types of policies:

1.  Mortgagee Policy:  this policy protects the lender and covers the amount of the mortgage.

2.  Owner’s Policy:  this policy covers the owner’s equity plus the mortgage.

More than likely, your home is your biggest investment, and we protect your interest in that investment. Title insurance protects real estate owners and lenders against any property loss or damage they might experience because of liens, encumbrances or defects in the title to the property. Each title insurance policy is subject to specific terms, conditions and exclusions. While other types of insurance (such as flood, auto or homeowners insurance) provide coverage that focuses on possible future events, title insurance protects against loss from hazards and defects already existing in the title to a property.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com
 

The Tale of a Turtle: How the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol Helps

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

The Tale of a Turtle:  How the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol Helps

The Loggerhead Sea Turtle, whose scientific name is Caretta caretta is one of the most common sea turtles and is the only sea turtle that nests in the United States.  They are large swimming reptile that may reach 45” in diameter and weigh over 300 pounds. 

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Information

The Loggerhead Sea Turtle is an endangered species and has been designated as South Carolina’s state reptile.  Most nesting occurs north of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea in temperate waters, although some individuals nest in the western Caribbean. Loggerhead sea turtles also nest along the southeastern U. S. coast, with 90 percent of nests occurring in Florida. Females come out of the water to lay their eggs on beaches at night. An individual may nest up to 7 times in a single season, laying 100-125 eggs every 14+ days. The eggs hatch in 55-65 days; the hatchlings emerge at night to spend their first year among mats of sargassum weed and other flotsam. Sexual maturity is reached in 10-15 years, and the estimated maximum lifespan is 30 years.

Loggerhead sea turtles are found globally, preferring temperate and subtropical waters. In the western Atlantic, they range from the Canadian Maritime Provinces south to Argentina. Within its range, this species inhabits warm waters on continental shelves and areas among islands. Estuaries, coastal streams and salt marshes are preferred habitats.

Loggerhead sea turtles and eggs are hunted extensively in many parts of the world. In the U. S., however, the main threat is from raccoons and wild boar which eat the eggs. On some nesting beaches, raccoons may destroy more than 95 percent of the nests. Encroaching human populations are also a threat.

In response to sea turtle mortality in trawl nets, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued regulations requiring shrimp trawlers of the southeastern and Gulf coasts to have a turtle excluder device (TED) on their nets. This device allows turtles and other large marine life to escape should they enter a net.

Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol to the Rescue

Kiawah Island boasts one of the largest volunteer turtle patrols in the country with well over 100 participants.  The Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol is divided in to two groups the nesting patrol, and the hatching patrol.

 The nesting patrol which starts in early May and continues through mid-August this group patrols the 10 miles of sandy beaches each morning search for new nesting sites.  When a nest site is located a marker is place at the nest site and wire fencing is placed over the nest to prevent raccoons and other predators form destroying the eggs.  In some cases if the nest is in a poor site the eggs may be dug up and relocated to a better site on the sand dunes.   

The hatching patrol begins in mid-August and end at the end of October.  The hatchlings are about the size of a half dollar.  The hatchlings orient them selves to the ocean by the light of the moon.  Therefore all lights visible from the beach must be off from dusk to daylight from May 15 to the end October.  The hatching patrol walks is divided into groups that walk the entire beach looking for signs of hatchlings making their way to the ocean.  Once they find a nest with active hatching they mark it and record it.  72 hours after the first indication of hatching the turtle patrol inventories the nest to determine the status of any remaining turtle eggs.  Without human intervention the hatch rate of the Loggerhead Sea Turtle eggs is 1-3% with human intervention on Kiawah Island by the Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol the average hatch rate is over 70%.

The Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol 2010 Turtle Season Update

July 23rd:  Kiawah has 190 loggerhead sea turtle nests on our beach as of July 23rd! Given that there are roughly two weeks remaining for nesting season, will we reach 200 nests?

July 21st:  184 nests! That is just slightly above our number of nests during a normal nesting season. Yea! Nests are hatching all over the beach these days, so if you head out to the beach late at night or early in the morning, be on the lookout for baby turtles.

May 15th:  Kiawah's first nest was laid.

May 7th:  The first turtle nest in South Carolina was located this morning! It was laid on Cape Island. Turtle season has officially begun in South Carolina! 

I am certain there are turtle patrols along all the barrier islands in South Carolina and most of the southeast coast of the US from Florida to North Carolina.  Kiawah Island Turtle Patrol is the one I happen to be familiar with.  My hat is off to every member of each turtle patrol for a job well done!

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com
 

South Carolina is the 8th Best State for Retiree Taxes Benefits

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

South Carolina is the 8th Best State for Retiree Taxes Benefits

According to a recent article in Forbes magazine South Carolina is the eighth (8th) best state for retiree’s tax benefits.  States are wooing retirees with tax breaks. On average, retirees pay only half the state income tax levied on working-age people, according to researchers at the University of New Hampshire and Georgia State.

Seven states — Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming — don't tax personal income at all. New Hampshire and Tennessee tax interest and dividends but not other income. Still, these states may not offer the best total deal for seniors because other states have crafted special programs that reduce taxes and fees across the board.

Considering everything, here are the states that tax experts say offer the best deals for residents older than 65:

1. Georgia
2. Pennsylvania
3. Mississippi
4. Illinois
5. Michigan
6. Kentucky
7. New York
8. South Carolina
9. Delaware
10. Louisiana

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Real Estate Blog for local attractions and current Charleston events.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com
 

2010 Kiawah Island / Seabrook Island Disaster Awareness Day

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your Charleston SC Real Estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:


2010 Kiawah Island / Seabrook Island Disaster Awareness Day


The Town of Kiawah Island in conjunction with Seabrook Island is hosting the Annual Disaster Preparedness Day Thursday June 10th from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM at the Sandcastle on Kiawah Island.  You are encouraged to prepare yourselves and your home for the upcoming hurricane season. They will have a host of informative panelist, vendors, demonstrations and speakers onsite to share valuable information. There will also be door prizes and a buffet lunch provided. Come and learn how to better prepare for this hurricane season, earthquakes, floods, and fires. The 2010 Atlantic hurricane is predicted to be "above-average" in activity and produce 11 to 16 tropical storms, including six to eight hurricanes. Please plan to attend this year’s event and learn how to better prepare your family in the event of a hurricane or natural disaster.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated.

Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

See Charleston SC Attractions for neat things to do.

Look at Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area.

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com 
 

Create a Home Emergency Preparedness Kit

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:


Create a Home Emergency Preparedness Kit


Having a plan for an emergency and creating a preparedness kit that's tailored to your needs could be the key to your family's safety if disaster strikes.

Preparing an emergency kit you hope never to use may seem like a waste of time and money. But when disasters happen that are beyond your control, you can take charge of how you respond. "What became clear in Hurricane Katrina is that in big events, the government isn't going to come to your aid right away. You have to be prepared to take care of yourself," says Rick Bissell, PhD, a professor of emergency health services at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. According to a 2008 FEMA survey, more than half of all U.S. households have some sort of disaster preparation in place. If yours isn't one of them, here's what you need to do. 

First, make sure important papers are in order

If a flood destroys your home, you could spend weeks or even months just trying to re-create the essential documents you'll need to get back on track. That's why it's critical to have backups of important papers, including the deed to your house, proof of insurance, medical records, passports, social security cards, and a list of personal contacts. Keep one copy at home in a portable case and another offsite in a safe place. And while you're at it, use the opportunity to check whether your insurance (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/homeowners-insurance-time-for-an-annual-check-up/) is up to date. "People often don't know what their homeowners' insurance policy covers, and most don't cover flooding," points out Bissell. Find out what hazards your area faces, and make sure you're protected against them.
Tailor a preparedness kit to your personal needs

Humanitarian organizations and government aid agencies offer guidelines (http://www.READY.GOV) for creating an emergency preparedness kit. But along with the basics like food and water, it's important to have what you need for your particular situation. You may not need extra blankets in southern California, but you do need escape ladders in case of wildfire. And you'll want extra blankets to survive a winter power outage in Maine.

Think about what you need for the safety of your house, too. Knowing where to find the main electrical and water shutoffs-and having the right wrench to turn them-can make the difference between a house that weathers the storm and one that experiences catastrophic flooding or fire.

A basic emergency preparedness kit

FEMA (http://www.fema.gov/plan/prepare/supplykit.shtm) recommends you keep a "grab and go" bag with these items in case you need to evacuate:

1.  Water: One gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation; double if you live in a very hot climate, have young kids, or are nursing. Bottled water is best, but you can also store tap water in food-grade containers or two-liter soda bottles that have been sanitized. Factor in your pet's water needs, too.

2.  Food: At least a three-day supply of non-perishable’s and a can opener. Pack protein, fruit, and vegetables, but make sure they're in a form you actually like-it's bad enough not to have access to fresh food without also having to subsist on nothing but canned tuna. Include treats like cereal bars, trail mix, and Tootsie Rolls. Store food in pest-proof plastic or metal tubs and keep it in a cool, dry place.

3.  Flashlights and extra batteries: "Candles are not recommended because there are many house fires caused by candles left unattended," says David Riedman, a public affairs officer with FEMA.

4.  First-aid supplies: Two pairs of sterile gloves, adhesive bandages and sterile dressings, soap or other cleanser, antibiotic towelettes and ointment, burn ointment, eye wash, thermometer, scissors, tweezers, petroleum jelly, aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever, and stomach analgesics such as Tums, Pepto-Bismol, and a laxative. (All those Tootsie Rolls can be hard to digest.)

5.  Sanitation and hygiene supplies: Moist towelettes, paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags, and plastic ties. You might also want travel-size shampoo, toothpaste/toothbrush, and deodorant.

6.  Radio or TV: Keep a portable, battery- or crank-operated radio or television and extra batteries to remain connected in case the power goes out, as well as an extra cell phone charger. You can buy a good emergency radio online from the Red Cross (http://WWW.REDCROSSSTORE.ORG).

7.  Plastic sheeting, duct tape, and dust masks: In case you need to seal your home or shelter from airborne contaminants.

8.  Extra items: A whistle to signal for help, a favorite toy or other comfort items for kids.

9.  Cash

Update your kit as your needs change, and replace food and water approaching its expiration date. You might pick a specific time each year to check, such as before hurricane season in the south or after Thanksgiving if you live in the north.
 Wendy Paris is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared in This Old House magazine and other publications. She keeps chocolate chips on hand in case of emergency.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Article from HouseLogic.com
 

6 Key Features of the New Housing Rescue Plan

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:


6 Key Features of the New Housing Rescue Plan

The government’s newest housing rescue effort, which was announced Friday, includes these key tenets:

1.  As much as $14 billion of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will be made available to pay for writing down second liens for loans whose borrowers refinance through the Federal Housing Administration.

2.  Lenders that facilitate refinances through the FHA will be required to write down the principal of the first mortgage by at least 10 percent so the home owner has a loan-to-value ratio no higher than 97.75 percent.

3.  Lenders of second liens will be offered incentives of 10 cents to 21 cents per dollar of principal they write down in connection with an FHA refinance.

4.  Borrowers who lose their jobs can apply to have their mortgage payments reduced for three to six months while they search for a new job.

5.  Borrowers with a payment still greater than 31 percent of income after they find a job will be considered for a permanent loan modification.

6.  To encourage more short sales and “deed in lieu” of foreclosure transactions in which the lender settles the loan for less than is owed, the government will double assistance to borrowers to $3,000 and increase incentives to subordinate lien holders and investors to $6,000.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Source: Reuters News (03/26/2010)