Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More than Half of Americans Think Home Prices Will Rise in Year Ahead

More than half of Americans now expect the country’s home prices to climb within the next year, illustrating a growing optimism toward the health of the housing industry, according to Fannie Mae’s April 2013 National Housing Survey.

The share of people who say home prices will go up in the next 12 months hit a survey high of 51%, while those who believe home prices will go down remained at the survey low of 10% for the fourth month in a row.

By comparison, at the same time last year only 32% expected an increase in home prices.
“Crossing the 50% threshold marks a significant milestone as most Americans believe a housing recovery is truly occurring throughout the country,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Reflecting that increased optimism toward housing, the share of Americans who think it is a good time to sell has doubled during the last year. Many homeowners who have been underwater are gradually returning to positive equity, and selling is now becoming an available and attractive option again.”
The share of respondents who say now is a good time to sell climbed 4 percentage points in April to 30%, compared to 15% at the same time last year.

Americans’ increasing optimism toward the selling market may bode well for continued improvement in housing activity, as recent market data suggest that five out of eight people who buy a home first have to sell, Fannie Mae reports.

The survey also found:
  • The average 12-month home price change expectation held steady at 2.7%.
  • The share of respondents who say mortgage rates will go up fell 3 percentage points to 43%, while those who say they will go down increased slightly to 7%.
  • The share of respondents who said they would buy if they were going to move increased slightly to 65%.

So if you are considering buying a Lexington home this year, now might be the time to contact a REALTOR. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

9 Mistakes Homeowners Make on Their Taxes

As you calculate your tax returns, consider each home tax deduction and credit you are — and are not — entitled to. Running afoul of any of these 9 home-related tax mistakes — which tax pros say are especially common — can cost you money or draw the IRS to your doorstep.

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 2013 property taxes until 2014. But that’s irrelevant to the feds.
Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you actually paid in 2013, 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: Misjudging the home office tax deduction
The deduction is complicated, 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. But there’s good news – there’s a new simplified home office deduction option if you don’t want to claim actual costs. If you’re eligible, you can instead claim $5 per sq. ft. up to 300 feet, or $1,500.

Sin #5: Failing to repay the first-time home buyer tax credit
If you used the original home buyer tax credit in 2008, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years. If you used the tax credit in 2009 or 2010 and then sold your house or stopped using it as your primary residence, within 36 months of the purchase date, you also have to pay back the credit.
The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe.

Sin #6: 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 improvement expenses, says Meighan. File away documents as you go. For example, save each manufacturer’s certification statement for energy tax credits and lender or government statements to confirm property taxes paid.

Sin #7: 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. You can exclude $250,000 (or $500,000 if you’re a married couple) of any profits from taxes. So if your cost basis for your home is $100,000 (what you paid for it plus any improvements) and you 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 #8: Filing incorrectly for energy tax credits
If you made any eligible improvements in 2013, such as installing energy-efficient windows and doors, you may be able to take a 10% tax credit (up to $500; with some systems your cap is even lower than $500). But keep in mind, it’s a lifetime credit. If you claimed the credit in any recent years, you’re done. Fill out Form 5695.
The first part of the form, which covers systems eligible for a larger tax credit through 2016, such as geothermal heat pumps, can be complex and involves crosschecking with half a dozen other IRS forms. Read the instructions carefully.

Sin #9: Claiming too much for the mortgage interest tax deduction
Taxpayers are allowed to deduct mortgage interest on home acquisition debt up to $1 million, plus they can also deduct up to $100,000 in home equity debt.
This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Top Valentine Movies

Valentines Day is this Friday. (Sure hope you remembered!) If you didn't and you can't get reservations at local Lexington restaurants then stay home and create your own romantic evening. Celebrate Valentine's Day with some true romance classics. These movies have it all: great acting, witty dialogue, lots of sparks, and, of course, true love! So snuggle up with a loved one and celebrate the day at home with great movies.  

Put together a date night kit with your favorite movie, two small bottles of champagne, and your favorite snack. (Chocolate covered strawberries-anyone?)


  • Sleepless in Seattle” - In an attempt to find his father a mate, a recently widowed man’s son calls a radio show. The child persuades his father to talk about how much he misses his mother. Following the call, hundreds of women write to the man saying how much they were touched by his story. 

  • “(500) Days of Summer”-A writer for a greeting card company recounts how he fell in love with a co-worker who does not believe in love. 

  • “My Best Friend’s Wedding”-A restaurant critic realizes she’s in love with her best friend after he calls her to say he’s getting married.
  • “Nights in Rodanthe” -A surgeon looking to escape his own emotional baggage checks into a bed-and-breakfast and ultimately finds companionship with an unhappily married woman. 

  • “Titanic”-Two people from different social classes meet and fall in love but are ill fated when the Titanic begins to sink. 
  • “Pretty Woman” -A charismatic prostitute falls in love with a businessman who initially hired her to accompany him to a few social events. Not your typical love story.
  •  “Dirty Dancing” - A story of teen rebellion at its finest, Baby falls in love with her summer dance instructor much to her father’s dismay. Nobody puts Baby in the corner.
  • “A Walk to Remember”-Two people, against all expectations found out they are destined to be together. However, young love is soon put to the test when tragedy strikes and forces Landon & Jamie to find the definition of true love. 
  • “Love Actually”-Set during the holiday season in London, eight loosely related couples are profiled as they try to master jealousy, infidelity, romance and the fear of rejection. 
  • "The Notebook” - A love story for the ages until death does them part. The  modern day quintessential love movie.
  • "Casablanca" - is an undisputed masterpiece and Hollywood's quintessential statement on love and romance.
  • "Twilight" - a romance all about old-fashioned waiting and longing. The modern day (and strange love story)
  • "50 First Dates" is the ultimate tale of devotion. Henry won't let something like short-term memory keep him from the one he loves.
  • "Ghost" shares a unique story of a man whose love for his partner is so strong that not even death could tear them apart.
  • "Moonstruck"- A widowed Brooklyn book-keeper is torn between her fiancĂ© and his brother
  • "An Affair to Remember"- the name says it all. Before there was "Sleepless in Seattle," this movie made the Empire State Building a romantic landmark.

These flicks are all worthy of watching on Valentine's Day, or any other time you feel like a romantic date night with your loved one.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wilson Farm CSA

CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” and refers to a partnership with your local farmer (Wilson Farm) in which the public is able to buy shares of the harvest.

Why join the Wilson Farm CSA program?
Wilson Farm is a fifth generation, family owned and operated farm, located at Pleasant Street in Lexington for over a century. We put all those years of farming expertise into every CSA share, so you can rest assured that you'll have access to the freshest, most delicious produce around. Each year, we grow over 100 different crops, so each bountiful basket includes a wealth of diverse produce. You'll learn more more about locally grown produce, eat more healthily, cook more, and experience fruits and vegetables you may not have tried before. And we'll be with you every step of the way, with cooking tips, recipes, inside farming knowledge, and much more. Make an investment in your health, and in your community, that will pay off for years to come. Join the Wilson Farm CSA today!

Wilson Farm CSA Shares more details
Large Produce Share - Feeds 4-5 people (Weekly)
Small Produce Share - Feeds 2-3 people (Weekly)
Fish Share - Locally Sourced Fish (Bi-Weekly)
Flower Share - Bouquets or Bunches (Weekly)

Wilson Farm CSA Features more details
Extended pickup hours: 11am to 7pm in Lexington / 12pm to 7pm in Litchfield
Over 125 years of farming experience
IPM-grown produce
Widest variety of crops of any CSA in New England
Easy pickup at our Lexington, MA or Litchfield, NH Farm Stands
Support the only working farm in Lexington
Shop for all your groceries when you pick up your CSA share!

Sign Up for a CSA Share Today! more details
Signing up for a Wilson Farm CSA Share is easy! Just download and complete the application, then choose your preferred method of payment.

Our Pledge to CSA Members
Growing the best quality local produce since 1884, Wilson Farm rests on 33 acres in Lexington, MA and over 500 acres in Litchfield, NH. Using innovative IPM growing techniques, such as sanitation, soil enrichment, variety selection, pest detection, and biological controls. We control insect pests and diseases on crops with minimal chemical input. As a result, our well-nurtured soil produces the largest variety of nutritious, healthy, and delicious food of any farm in New England. With over 125 years of farming experience packed into each share, we pledge to deliver outstanding quality produce, fantastic variety, and superior value.

Visit to download the applications.