California Dreaming

Posted on April 6, 2018 at 8:49 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: first time buyers | Tagged , , , , , ,

Can First Time Home Buyers Use a 401k For a Down Payment?

Coming up with a down payment to purchase your first home can feel like a herculean task. How can you possibly save twenty, thirty, fifty thousand dollars—approximately 11% of your home purchase price in 2016 (National Association of Realtors)—to pour into a house? For most individuals, it can be incredibly tough to save enough, particularly if you’re strapped for cash. What can you do?

The good news is that if you’ve been consistent about saving for your retirement, you have a leg up thanks to the two 401k first time home buyer options. These options allow you to supplement your down payment with cash from your 401k. However, not everyone qualifies to use money from a 401k. There are strict rules, so it’s vital that you understand how the process works before you move forward.

Borrowing from 401k

When it comes to borrowing from your 401k to help with your down payment, there are two ways to go about it:

  • Get a 401k loan for home purchase
  • Make a 401k withdrawal

Each of these options comes with its own costs and rewards. Remember that everyone’s financial situation is different and the best way to make the right choice for your situation is to contact a financial advisor and a skilled real estate agent.

401k Loan

First, let’s talk about getting a 401k loan for home purchase. The good news is that, when getting a loan, you don’t owe income taxes or the 10% early withdrawal fee. The bad news is that when you take a loan, it has to be repaid with interest even if you’re just paying the money and interest back out of your own pocket.

However, unlike a typical FHA loan, borrowing from 401k is fairly limited. Your max loan is limited to a specific dollar amount OR one-half of your account balance, whichever is smaller. This means that you need to know your current vested balance.

As for repayment, your 401k loan must be repaid within five years, and payments are required on a quarterly basis—both principal and interest. And your loan payments DO NOT count as contributions to your 401k.

Please note, not all plans permit loans. You’ll need to check with your particular plan to see what is allowed. Additionally, before moving forward with this option it’s advisable to check in with a financial advisor to ensure this option is right for you.

401k Withdrawal

The second option for a 401k first time home buyer is a withdrawal. Compared to a 401k loan, it’s much simpler. The money is yours once you take it out and it does not have to be repaid. But there are a few more details. To withdrawal money from your 401k, you have to meet a few criteria including age restriction and financial hardship.

Only if your employer allows withdrawals and you can prove to the IRS that you are experiencing financial hardship can you even consider withdrawal. From there, your withdrawal has a certain dollar limit, and you must pay income tax on the full amount.

The other option for a withdrawal is to cash out on an old 401k. However, if you use this option, you’ll be required to pay both the 10% early withdrawal penalty as well as income tax.

Before you pursue this path or cross it off, be sure to get the opinion of a financial advisor who has access to your personal financial details.

401k Loan vs. Withdrawal

In most cases, a 401k loan may be easier to obtain and doesn’t come with the penalties associated with an early withdrawal. Of course, the downside is that you’ll eventually have to pay it back in five years.

So, why would you use your 401k to help purchase your first home?

Depending on your financial circumstances, this option may be more financially feasible than paying private mortgage insurance, and the interest goes back in your pocket. Another option is to use your IRA to avoid the 10% penalty. IRA withdrawals up to $10,000 are allowed without the 10% early withdrawal penalty, though you’ll still owe income tax.

If you need help figuring out the best option for you when it comes to putting together your down payment with your 401k, contact your personal financial advisor. Then contact a local Coldwell Banker office to find the perfectly priced home for you.

Posted on March 27, 2018 at 9:03 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Homeownership Achieved

Posted on March 21, 2018 at 9:18 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, Homeowners | Tagged , , , , , , ,

8 Creative Ways With Closets

Closets are no longer limited to storing clothes, linens or random odds and ends. You can actually discover more living space and streamline storage for your lifestyle in these underutilized and overlooked places. Here are some inspiring examples of closet transformations including a home bar, gym and office.

Don’t think you have space for a home bar? Look again. Even the shallowest hall closet can be converted to a drink station. A happy hour hideaway is a very Prohibition era-esque concept, which is all the more reason to stock it with handsome decanters, glasses, intriguing bar tools and a few of your favorite bottles.

Meet your get fit goals by transforming your closet into a mini home gym. This long and narrow closet has a full workout wardrobe on the right and a lean exercise machine on the left. If your closet can’t accommodate a machine, you can still lay down a yoga mat and install a mirror for keeping your form in-check as you use the floor space for sit-ups, push-ups and the like.

If your productivity is lacking, a quiet home office might be what you need. This before-and-after proves that you don’t need a gigantic walk-in closet to make this idea work.

Simply remove the doors off of an unused closet, install a wide shelf if you can’t shimmy a desk in properly and voila! Chalkboard paint, a sconce and a few desk organizers are also featured in this compact home office.

A craft station is another creative alternative. In this closet, craft materials are organized in the carts with labeled drawers. An over-the-door organizer holds oodles of wrapping paper and stationery among other things. And the sturdy shelf is great for gift wrapping or writing letters. Make it your own by hanging inspirational wall art or photos.

Nooks are very popular on Houzz, especially those reinvented for reading. This alcove under the stairs was finished with warm wood paneling, a reading light and lots of cushions. If you don’t have enough space to actually sit down and read in your closet, use it as a little library for book storage instead.

Dress it up for a fab dressing room. New York Fashion Week just ended, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a runway of your own. This is an ultra glamorous example, but all you really need is a chair, mirror and vanity. You can also try this in a playroom for littles who like playing dress-up.

Rehabilitate the linen closet as a hospitality room. Use this space to hang bathrobes, store towels and display your favorite perfumes and lotions. This is especially useful for those who travel often or have a second home used for a weekend getaway. In addition to freshly laundered linens, you’ll find neatly pressed formal attire here with a weekender bag at the ready.

Prioritize zen by carving out a closet for reflection. Whether you’re religious or just need some peace and quiet, a small closet is a secure place to hole up in for 20 minutes and just be. Keep a floor pillow, pouf or soft area rug here for prayer, yoga or meditation. If you’re not working with a walk-in closet, you can still use a shallow closet as a shrine of spiritual objects or mementos that bring you joy.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on February 26, 2018 at 8:35 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: decorating, mazimizing space | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Effective Improvements for a Faster Sale

You have decided to sell your home, and you are eager to sell it ASAP!  You need to move or want those proceeds immediately, but how? Let’s go through the best ways to efficiently and effectively improve your home for a speedy sale.

First, curbside appeal.  This is the first thing every potential buyer sees so make it stand out!  Some suggestions:

  • Hire a gardener to clean and spruce up the entrance
  • Remove superfluous items from the front of your home, i.e. garbage cans, strollers, etc.
  • Put a fresh coat of paint on your home’s exterior

Second, this is the time to clean and eliminate all clutter inside your home.  Here’s how:

  • Give away extra toys, clothes, and anything else that makes it look crowded or disorganized
  • Organize the kitchen countertops and closets
  • Place bulky items in storage

Third, landscaping matters.  A large yard cannot shine if the plants, grass and trees are in bad shape.  Try the following ideas:

  • Artificial grass-this always looks amazing and eliminates the need for maintenance
  • Tie orchids around the trees, plant fresh flowers and maintain the grass and trees

Fourth, look under the hood.  Make the inside of your home look as good as possible.

  •  This is the time to do some of the minor repairs you have been putting off.  This will make your home look better and may eliminate certain issues during the Inspection Period.
  •  Yes, it seems expensive or time-consuming.  However, if you hire a professional company, this can truly make the difference and get you more money in less time.

Finally, hire a professional, licensed realtor.  A realtor with experience and expertise can help sell your home quickly for the best price.

Best of luck!

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on February 20, 2018 at 8:54 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: selling | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Making the Most of a Winter Farmer’s Market

Winter’s chill is in the air and spring is still several weeks away, but there’s plenty to do in your hometown during the colder months including checking out a winter farmer’s market.

Traditional farmer’s markets usually run from early spring to late fall, but there’s a growing trend popping up in cities across the country: the winter farmer’s market.

Typically your local winter farmer’s market is held indoors, which means no matter the weather, you can still shop in comfort for your favorite offerings of the earth’s bounty.

Want to make the most of your next visit to a winter farmer’s market? Here’s what you need to know:

Manage Your Expectations

When strolling around your favorite farmer’s market during warmer months, you’re likely to find all sorts of bright, juicy fruits and beautiful growing plants. The purpose of a farmer’s market is to help connect local farmers and producers with the community, as a source of great seasonal offerings.

Your winter farmer’s market likely won’t have the same options as the markets held in spring and summer. This is mainly because those fruits and vegetables aren’t being grown or harvested during colder months.

Depending on the size of your market and where you live, it might not be possible to do all your grocery shopping at your neighborhood winter farmer’s market, but you should be able to check several items off your shopping list.

Think Outside the Box

Winter farmer’s markets are a great opportunity think outside the box, with regard to the produce you buy. There you may come across different varieties of your favorite fruits and vegetables, or different options altogether.

Take this as a chance to try something new! Never cooked with baby bok choy or purple potatoes? These are some delicious choices, and likely to be spotted at a winter farmer’s market.

And make sure you talk to the farmers or sellers about their wares. They are likely to be a wealth of free information for you. For example, if you usually cook with cilantro in the spring and summer, ask the farmer to recommend another herb you might try when it isn’t available.

Ask the farmer if he or she has a favorite way of preparing the veggies or a tip for making fruit last longer. This is your chance to talk directly with the expert about his or her produce.

Stock Up on Essentials

Whether you are a dedicated home cook or someone who just enjoys trying a new recipe every now and again, there are certain essentials that a well-stocked kitchen must have.

Often a winter farmer’s market is a great place to find things like local honey, spices and jams or preserves. It never hurts to have these pantry staples on hand. Plus, you’ll feel great knowing you are supporting the livelihood of local growers and producers.

Since these types of items are usually canned or dried, they have a longer shelf-life and will serve to be very useful for all your culinary creations until spring arrives.

You might also see cut flowers or winter plants. Depending on the type, winter is often a good time for planting. Some farmers also sell or swap their seeds, especially heirloom varieties, so make the most of this opportunity to stock up for your spring and summer garden.

Give the Gift of Local Made with Love

Winter farmer’s markets are often more than just farm fresh produce and things grown in the ground. There will likely be offerings and wares for sale by local artisans and makers.

From handcrafted jewelry and pottery to unique and one-of-a-kind art or woodworking, these selections make wonderful gifts for friends. Other items you might find include essential oils, handmade soaps and lotions, and natural cosmetics. Sellers will often allow you to sample their wares in order to see what you might like.

These are just a few ways you can enjoy a winter farmer’s market in your neighborhood. Before too long, spring will arrive with all its blooming beauty. But until then, it’s nice to know there are still some fun things to do to make the most of winter.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on February 13, 2018 at 9:52 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Farmers Market | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Moving Day: Five Simple Ways to Reduce Waste & Save Green

The start of a new year brings the same old resolutions: get organized, get in shape and eat healthier. What if we all look beyond ourselves and add find new ways to be kinder to Mother Earth to our list? The impact would be pretty fantastic, a re-energized movement to preserve our one and only beautiful earth.

One simple way to fulfill that resolution is to be eco-conscious on moving day. Moving is one of the most wasteful times in a household. We finally get around to cleaning out those over stuffed closets, basements and garages. It’s the time we toss out those old clothes, electronics, magazines, bikes, etc. On top of the major weeding out of our belongings, we use tons of boxes and packing materials; and create piles and piles of waste that contribute to our landfills. Let’s just face the fact: moving time equals major trash time.

The great green news is there are simple steps you can take during a move to reduce your waste. Being eco-conscious on moving day will save you some green in your wallet too!

Follow these 5 steps to make Mother Nature & your wallet proud:

Use Eco-Friendly Moving Supplies

From boxes, packing paper to bubble, there are now green 100% recyclable materials to keep our neighborhoods cleaner and greener. Yep, there is even biodegradable eco-bubble, pop away guilt free.

ECO-BONUS: Save money by asking your moving company for used boxes made of recyclable materials. You can get used boxes at a discount and some moving companies will even give you a refund for returning your used boxes at the end of your move. Pop! Pop! Cha-ching!

It’s Not Just for the Movies

Instead of the foam popcorn and peanuts, use real popcorn to pack fragile items! Just pop and fill the gaps in your boxes to secure and pad fragile items. Cheap and earth friendly!

Give Back

Finally, the garage and closets actually are getting cleaned out. Hurray! Now is the time to get rid of what you don’t really need: the growing collection of tuna and soup cans in the pantry; the many, many sport teams t-shirts; go-go boots; your 10 year old’s toddler clothing, etc. But, don’t just toss them out. Donate unwanted furniture to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and clothing and household items to your local favorite charity such as Goodwill for someone else to enjoy.

ECO-BONUS: Reuse your moving boxes to donate your items. Simply visit GiveBackBox.com to learn how to use your used boxes to ship your donations off to a charity. Lastly, if you have any unopened leftover food on moving day, donate it to Move For Hunger. Don’t forget to keep your moving and donation receipts to save green on your taxes next year!

Be Kind to Your Electronics

You may no longer want your lemon-yellow microwave, but don’t just put it on the curb or throw it in a dump. If you do, it will likely be shipped off to unregulated third world environmental disaster dumping grounds instead of being recycled in facilities that follow U.S. environmental regulations. Contact a domestic e-waste recycler so your old computers, microwaves and other electronics are recycled domestically, under environmental laws, rather than being shipped off to be processed by highly toxic and polluting techniques.

Hire an Eco-Conscious Moving Company

Use your “green” to influence and encourage green habits by hiring companies that use environmental-friendly practices. Make sure your moving company is bright green by asking: Does the staff recycle? Are the offices and warehouse designed to be energy efficient? Do they use biodiesel to run their trucks? Do they use 100 % recyclable materials? Do they sell used boxes? Do they buy them back at the end of the move? Chances are if they care about the earth, they care about their customers too! It’s a great big green win – win!

Pat yourself on the back; you’re making Mother Earth smile and future generations will thank you!

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.

Source: CB Blue Matter

Posted on February 12, 2018 at 1:39 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: moving, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Spring Selling Checklist

 

With the early spring selling season kicking off shortly after the new year, it’s time to give your home the boost it needs to meet today’s buyers’ expectations. Take advantage of being inside during the cold winter months with these quick fixes that will help your property stand out from the competition, boost its value and sell quickly.

Family Room Staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Declutter & Organize

Start tackling one room at a time by packing up anything that will distract buyers from seeing the unique features of your property such as personal collections, family photos, newspapers, books and magazines. Rearrange and remove excessive furniture to simplify and make the room appear larger.

Make Basic Repairs & Updates

Make sure everything is in good working condition. Repair and replace broken light switches, bulbs, ceiling fans, door knobs, leaky faucets, shower heads, windows, thermostats, etc. Update lighting fixtures with contemporary styles and consider replacing older kitchen appliances with sleek, eco-friendly models to capture young buyer interest.

Bedroom Staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Refresh and Brighten With Paint

Remove wallpaper and cover bold wall colors with a fresh coat of neutral paint to set the perfect backdrop for simple, updated styling. Give older style kitchen cabinets or wood vanities an instant facelift by covering with bright white or dark espresso paint. Then pair with knobs and drawer handles in brushed nickel or satin brass for an elegant finishing touch.

Fresh Flooring

There is nothing that dates a room more that worn, soiled carpeting. Remove and/or replace carpeting to reveal hardwood flooring underneath to instantly brighten and make the room feel more spacious. There are also many budget-friendly, easy to install options on the market now for replacing damaged flooring such as laminate and vinyl that look and feel just like wood.

Mudroom Remodel by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Add Storage Options

Today’s buyers are looking for plenty of storage. Added storage solutions such as built-in bookshelves, window seats with storage underneath, entry storage units, and extra closet hooks and rods are a practical way to attract immediate buyer attention.

Partner With a Pro

Consult with a professional stager who will have an objective eye and knowledge of what appeals to today’s sophisticated buyers. They will provide a range of solutions for enhancing your home showings by recommending everything from furniture placement to wall color to complementary modern accessories to add clean, welcoming style.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.

 

Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts. Her company has received Houzz 2015, 2016 and 2017 Awards for Customer Service.

Patti has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV.  She is a regular contributor to the National Association of Realtor’s Blog, “Style, Staged and Sold.”

For more information, contact Patti Stern at 203-640-3762 or patti@pjstagingdecorating.com

Posted on February 7, 2018 at 8:53 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Spring | Tagged , , , , , , ,

A Beginner’s Guide to Wonderful Wallpaper

 

Wallpaper has a longstanding and misunderstood reputation for being obnoxiously bold and a nightmare to apply and remove. However, it has been entirely reinvented with new materials and appropriately renamed as “wall coverings.” You’ll see it popping up again in designs everywhere. Wall coverings serve as a beautiful accent piece in any room and can be as subtle or as fun as you desire. Here’s how to welcome a wonderful wall treatment into your home.

Learn the Basics

Wall coverings come in wide range of patterns, styles and materials. In comparison, paint is uniform and very 2D while wallpaper opens the door to a new dimension to play with. A great first step to deciding if it’s right for you is to browse inspirational home photos and save the ones that appeal to you the most.

Just like paint and fabric, you can order swatches of wallpaper to test on your walls before you commit. Full rolls can cost anywhere between $50 for plain paper versions to $300 for custom made or 3D textured options. It’s highly recommended, even by the most experienced DIYers, to hire an experienced professional for the final installation. And unlike its predecessors, many wall coverings use a safe and easy-to-remove adhesive for painless removal.

Know Your Options

There are thousands of different designs in production for wallpaper, so chances are if you have a particular look in mind, you’ll find it. On the slight chance it doesn’t exist already, you can commission a custom-made pattern or make your own. Traditional paper coverings are still made today, but vinyl wall coverings are also available and are great candidates for high-traffic areas since they’re glossier and can easily be wiped down.

The Williams Morris designs are popular for historic or arts and crafts style homes and floral patterns are a timeless classic. Alternatively, mural-style wallpapers are a great choice for modern art connoisseurs. They can be made to resemble an oversized print or photograph, a landscape or a cityscape of your hometown. Wall paneled paper pays homage to industrial style and can be made to resemble a brick, wood or concrete wall. If you want something more in-the-moment, graphic, geometric and ombre designs are very contemporary.

Textured grasscloth and silk wall coverings have a unique look and bring warmth and a sense of luxury to any space. These coverings are often one uniform color for people wanting a subtler look. Consider the tone and vibe you’re going for and how it looks from different angles, rooms and light when you’re shopping for the perfect fit.

Choose a Location

Wallpaper works great in just about every room of the house, but materials should be thoughtfully chosen. For example, vinyl coverings are a great choice for kitchens and bathroom since they are moisture-resistant and can easily be wiped clean of dirt or food stains. If you want to test treatments in a small area, consider a low-traffic area such as a powder room or laundry room. If you don’t want to line an entire wall from floor-to-ceiling, you can install wallpaper above wainscoting for a half-wall look. Just like paint, wall coverings also make eye-catching accent walls.

Other fun places to try it out include the entry, along the stairwell, on the ceiling or in a nook. Wallpaper disguises wall blemishes, sets spaces apart in an open floor plan and, with the right pattern, enlarges small spaces. Wallpaper can also be applied to items other than walls, such as lining the back of a bookcase or shelving unit, a large cabinet, dresser or armoire for a stunning look.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on February 2, 2018 at 8:11 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: decorating, upgrades | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blue Matters

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”  – J.K. Rowling

I love stories. Whether they are told over a meal, in the pages of a book, or on an 80 ft. movie screen makes no difference. Stories have the ability to make you experience every emotion available and can move you in unimaginable ways.

But the most important piece of any story is the characters. For a story to stand the test of time it has to have great characters. We need to be able to connect with them, feel for them, root for them — or against them.  Everything they do drives the story forward, for better or worse. Without strong characters, the best stories crumble.

The same is true for brands.

In fact, having good characters – good people – is even more critical to creating and sustaining a strong brand. Because for a brand, its people are active participants in its creation.  I truly believe a brand is a story that is told every single day, not just by its message, but by its people.

Every day, members of the brand help tell the story of Coldwell Banker through interactions with clients, the industry and each other. It’s a story of a brand that has been helping people find a place to call home for more than 111 years. It is a story founded by people who were passionate about creating change in the real estate industry and we continue doing so to this day.

This got me thinking: what is it about our story, our people, our brand that has allowed it – not just stand the test of time – but to continue to succeed?

Science gave me the answer. It comes down to our DNA. We may come from different backgrounds and upbringings. We reside in different corners of the world with differences in appearance, beliefs, and lifestyles, but studies have shown that who we surround ourselves and who we choose to associate with are often those who have similar genetic markers.

You’ve heard the phrase “birds of a feather flock together.” It’s an idiom based in truth. What draws people to Coldwell is beyond just the outward appearance of what we seem to be. While our chemical makeup sets us on a common path, the other side of this story is that each of us possess shared values that are core to our brand and THAT is what truly draws us together.

Coldwell Banker is a brand founded on trust, integrity and awesomeness, but at times we lose sight of this story because we get caught up in the day to day distractions of our work. What I see in our brand’s DNA is an opportunity for us to truly standout in this crowded and often crazy industry.

It’s almost as if we were born to be part of this story. In fact, we even have a name for the group of characters in this story of the Coldwell Banker brand: Generation Blue.

Blue has become a rallying cry for all that this brand is and stands for. We wear blue. We bleed blue, because we are GEN BLUE.

Blue represents the power of our company, the power of our people and the power of our team in so many different ways.  And it’s time that we took a look at all that it truly means to be Coldwell Banker blue.

Blue is the color of winning. According to color psychology, blue is associated with intelligence, invokes trust and spurs creativity. Blue is cool under pressure and calming influence. Blue is the color of leaders and one that builds relationships.

We have a powerful, one of a kind brand; one that has the most advanced tools and the greatest reputation in the industry. A brand that is built on people who have exceptional integrity and are pillars of their communities.

There’s a reason Coldwell Banker has succeeded for over 111 years while countless other brands, both in our industry and outside it, have failed. Our success is built on the values that have stayed true to our brand and the fact that we continue to attract others who share those values and spirit.

As J.K. Rowling said, stories have the power to transport people to another place, and when you discover the story of who the Coldwell Banker brand truly is and what we have offer, it may just transport you to becoming a part of Gen Blue.

Come join the blue and see what makes Gen Blue truly the best path to success at coldwellbanker.com/careers.

Posted on January 23, 2018 at 4:04 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Coldwell Banker, real estate | Tagged , , , , , ,