Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Protecting your paycheck - for today and tomorrow

That can happen in two ways, according to Sandy Botcher, vice president of disability income insurance at Northwestern Mutual. "When a family loses its usual source of income due to a disability, sometimes the only alternative is to dip into retirement savings to cover normal household expenses," she says. "And even if you don't have to take money out of savings to replace income, the other consequence of a disability is that it decreases your potential to contribute to your retirement plan."

Botcher adds that from the moment you start working until the day you retire, your ability to earn an income is your most important financial asset.

Consider this example: A $60,000 annual salary results in $2.4 million earned over a 40-year career, and that doesn't take into account inflation, salary increases, or the long-term growth potential of money invested in retirement saving vehicles along the way. If a disability prevents the individual from earning this income, or requires him to access a portion of what's already been saved (often with a tax penalty), it can have devastating impact on retirement dreams.

Recent research demonstrates the need to prepare for the unexpected. Over the past three years, 22 percent of Americans had dipped into retirement savings and 22 percent had stopped or reduced their savings contributions, according to Northwestern Mutual's 2013 Planning and Progress Study. More than half of those surveyed say unexpected expenses are to blame. Yet 23 percent of respondents say they want to be more cautious with their money, and feel they have a lot of catching up to do.

"The Great Recession has reminded us that we cannot afford to lose our incomes," says Botcher. "But we also need to remember that our chances of losing our incomes are determined by more than just our employers' viability or our career success."

In the minds of consumers, few things seem more unexpected than a disability. Yet the Social Security Administration reports that about one in four 20 year olds today will become disabled before retirement.

One way to prepare for the possibility of being unable to work is disability income (DI) insurance, designed to help pay living expenses, maintain lifestyle needs and preserve assets accumulated for retirement and other purposes. Many employees think that coverage they get through their employer's group disability policy is enough. They should think again.

Group DI typically has a cap at 60 percent of salary; other forms of compensation like bonuses or commissions may not be covered. In addition, the benefits are taxable. So, if earning less than two-thirds of one's current salary would make it difficult to make ends meet as well as work toward goals like continuing to fund retirement, it's important that another option be considered to bridge the gap.

That option is an individual DI insurance policy. Premiums for individual DI policies are paid after taxes, so the benefits are not taxed, and the policies are portable.

"We can't forget that the source of a retirement program is the ability to work. Having individual disability income insurance is a way to address one of the key risks to achieving your retirement goals," Botcher says.

Soul-lifting home improvements that are good for your wallet, too.

No matter how value conscious a homeowner may be, few people ever make a home improvement simply to increase their house's resale value. People also undertake home improvements to enhance their enjoyment of their home - or to fix a problem, which, in its own way, is good for the soul, too.

When it comes to deciding how to spend your renovation dollars, some home improvements can boost both your spirits and your home value. Here are some soul-lifting home improvements that also add value to your home:

Install a skylight

The health benefits of natural light are well known. Not only does sunlight stimulate the body's production of Vitamin D, it also boosts brain levels of serotonin. Lower serotonin levels have been associated with depression, decreased physical energy, increased appetite and elevated desire for sleep. A lack of sunlight has long been associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder - something your dear old grandmother might have simply called "the winter blues."

And there's another consideration with today's tightly built and heavily insulated homes - indoor air quality. According to the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (www.greenguard.org), most of our exposure to environmental pollution occurs by breathing the air indoors.

Adding a traditional or tubular skylight - to virtually any room in the house - brings more mood-boosting natural light into your home. It's also a smart money decision. Energy-saving, solar-powered fresh-air skylights, like those made by Velux America,-can be opened-to bring much-needed outside air into your home, providing passive ventilation to reduce humidity and stale air, and reduce heating, cooling and lighting costs. Energy Star-qualified solar powered fresh-air skylights and accessories like solar-powered blinds, plus the installation, are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit - now that's good for the soul.

You can learn more about energy-efficient skylights and calculate your tax credit for a new or replacement model at www.veluxusa.com. For more on skylights and other home energy saving tips visit energystar.gov.

Soul-lifting%20home%20improvements%20that%20are%20good%20for%20your%20wallet%2C%20too Add a sunroom

While you're thinking about the benefits of more natural light in your home, consider adding a sunroom. One of these light-filled retreats returns more than 46 percent of the initial cost when it's time to sell your home, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value Report. In a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, 52 percent of builders rated sunrooms as "desirable" or "essential" - ranking them higher than other specialty rooms like workout rooms, dens or even media rooms.

Sunrooms can be a great way to make your small home feel much larger, without the expense of a bigger, costlier addition. They also speak to our natural affinity for the outdoors, allowing you to enjoy nature year-round, even when it's too cold to be outside.

Upgrade your bathroom

The trend of bathrooms as a restive oasis doesn't show any signs of disappearing. If you doubt the popularity of luxury bathroom fittings, just visit the showerhead aisle in any home improvement store. Options include everything from rainfall shower heads to multi-jet contraptions that promise a spa-like experience in your own shower stall. Add in jetted tubs, towel warmers and amenities like under-floor heating, and it's easy to understand why real estate pros continue to cite a great bathroom as a must-have for many buyers.

Even if you don't have the space or budget for a major bathroom renovation - which Remodeling Magazine says returns more than 65 percent of its value on resale - even making modest improvements can boost your mood. Replacing old fixtures with newer more luxurious models, such as a touch-free faucet or multiple shower heads, can be an easy, cost-effective way to enhance your enjoyment of your bathroom.

The National Association of Realtors predicts the housing market will continue to improve this year. Yet even those who are not thinking of selling any time soon are aware of the value of certain types of improvements. A survey by real estate professionals indicates that people are becoming more attuned to the emotional component of home ownership, rather than just viewing their houses as investments.

" ... We're seeing a psychological shift," Dr. Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist who partnered with the surveyors, said in an announcement of the survey findings. "Instead of looking at homes through the eyes of an economist, we're realizing that a home doesn't solely equate to financial return or measure only to a mortgage amount. Instead the home is the emotional center of our lives, and it remains a critical component of who we are."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Innovative solutions for your home

Technologies that improve and protect your home become more advanced each year. If you have some problem areas that could benefit from the latest unique home solutions, here are some tips:

Deck kits enhance outdoor spaces

With the emergence of new deck materials such as solid PVC, homeowners no longer have to waste excessive time or money on deck maintenance. The vast array of rich colors and surface textures, along with stain and scratch resistant materials have made these items a smart choice over wood. Now, there are kits that accessorize these deck options.

If you've ever made a mad dash to retrieve cushions or other items when it rains, then in-deck storage may be in order, according to Mike Gori, deck expert for AZEK Building Products, maker of AZEK Deck. This clever idea provides 17.5 cubic feet of safe, dry storage space that uses the area below the deck. "You don't have to sacrifice living space or ruin your view with unsightly plastic tubs," says Gori. The storage unit's lid sits flush with the deck surface and holds up to 500 pounds. "There are also kits for building benches with planter boxes and custom gates," he says. "It's never been easier to accessorize a new or existing deck."

The caulk cure for energy costs

One of your home's biggest money drains can be energy waste - whether it's warm or cool air leaking out or outside temperatures sneaking in. That is where a bead of quality caulk can be the best bang for your buck. One caulk problem happens when homeowners paint caulk too early, which can cause cracks to form, letting in air and moisture.

"What we came up with is an advanced sealant called ColorCure that actually tells you when the caulk can be painted - it turns from pink to white," says Jason Ringling, director of marketing at Red Devil, Inc. "If you test caulk by touching the wet bead, the finish is ruined." Another good practice is to use new caulk and sealant products that are better for the environment as well as high performance. "It's not only environmentally friendly, but solvent-free and low VOC - and with no plasticizers it won't leach or pick up dirt which is perfect for painted finishes," Ringling says.

Have a great room outdoors

Shade pergolas can provide the convenience of a great room in the great outdoors for entertaining al fresco. With dignified beauty, pergolas have many style options that create a picture-perfect gathering spot near the garden or pool.

"These versatile, stylish outdoor rooms provide semi-privacy and are ideal for entertaining or relaxing with your family," says Sue Donahue, marketing manager for Walpole Woodworkers a leader in premium outdoor structures.

Another advantage to today's pergola designs is the addition of protective fabric canopies that let the party go on, rain or shine. "Canopies, either operated manually or by remote control, keep furniture and outdoor decor protected at the first sign of inclement weather," she says.

Pergola styles include arched or classic straight tops, and columns are typically square, tapered, or round. A lattice screen can add more privacy and bring color to the area, with climbing plant and vines. Donahue says to look for pergolas in wood or the new wood-alternative solid PVC materials that are low maintenance and long-lasting.

Prepare for wet weather extremes

Extreme weather events can happen in a flash. Even if you're not in an official flood zone, inches of rainfall in a matter of minutes, hurricanes and other freakish weather events can cause flooding. The experts at WAYNE Water Systems advise consumers to look for durable, reliable, worry-free water handling pumps.

"It only takes one water event to cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, so prevention is the key, starting with a quality sump pump," says vice president of sales Charles Murphy. "Additional layers of protection include battery back-up pumps in case of power outages and water-sensing alarms for early notification.

As homeowner Bill Bellaver of Troy, Mich. reports, his sump pump protected his home for 33 years before taking its last gasp. His friends and neighbors were not so lucky. "Our WAYNE pump has worked well without any issues, while friends with lower quality or no pumps have suffered damage or loss of valuables," he says.

Homeowners can make smarter choices with today's new home solutions. It's a way to reduce hassles, save money and add convenience to their current lifestyle.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Neighborhood Profile: Cordova Park Real Estate

Cordova Park Real Estate, Pensacola, FL 32503
Located in the heart of Pensacola, Cordova Park is a favorite among many!

Cordova Park has some of the most beautiful real estate in Pensacola. Located in the 32503 zip code in East Pensacola, Cordova Park is one of the largest neighborhoods in the area with over 1,250 homes.

Waterfront real estate in Cordova Park, Pensacola, FL 32503
Waterfront real estate in Cordova Park, Pensacola, FL 32503

Two main roadways that border Cordova Park are Summit Blvd and Bayou Blvd. Just a couple of miles from Cordova Park you can find Pensacola Regional Airport, Cordova Mall, Sacred Heart Hospital, numerous restaurants, and a movie theater.

Cordova Park is also an easy drive to beautiful Pensacola Beach for some mid day sun and just a short commute to downtown Pensacola for some late night fun.

The scenery all around Cordova Park and the luxurious waterfront homes along Bayou Blvd are a gorgeous sight. All the restaurants and entertainment within the area really makes this neighborhood a desirable place for anyone to call home. 
View down Cordova Park Road ~ Cordova Park Real Estate
View down Cordova Park Road ~ Cordova Park Real Estate

Neighborhood Park Pensacola Real Estate
Cordova Park has four parks!
Cordova Park has several parks inside the neighborhood and they are all conveniently spaced out to where each of them is just a short walk or bike ride away.
Dunwoody Park, Miralla Park, Pintado Park, and Baars Park each have something for everyone from playgrounds to dog trails and basketball courts to soccer fields. There is something for everyone to enjoy Florida's sunshine.
Miralla Park in Cordova Park Subdivision in Pensacola, FL 32503
Miralla Park in Cordova Park Subdivision in Pensacola, FL 32503
Highly desired Cordova Park Elementary School
Highly desired Cordova Park Elementary School
Cordova Park has an A-rated school, Cordova Park Elementary, located inside of it. Cordova Park Elementary students have higher FCAT test scores in math, reading, and science than the average of all other elementary schools in Escambia County combined.

The other schools zoned for this district are Workman Middle School and Booker T. Washington High School.

Cordova Park Real Estate for Sale

Waterfront home in Cordova Park~
Waterfront home in Cordova Park~
2014, homes within Cordova Park sold for an average of $195,000 and a median of $171,000. The executive waterfront homes along Bayou Texar Lake can go upward of $1,000,000. Anyone can find a home in this great community that best suites them.

If you are interested in purchasing a home in Cordova Park, email Pam@PensacolaRealtyMasters.com or call our agents (850) 473-3983.

Homes for rent near Cordova Mall in Pensacola, FL
Typical Cordova Park home

Typical Cordova Park home  ~ Pensacola Real Estate
Typical Cordova Park home  ~ Pensacola Real Estate

Cordova Park Homes for Rent

Typical Cordova Park Home
Typical Cordova Park Home
In 2014, homes in Cordova Park rented for an average of $1,100 per month and at a median of $1,000 per month. Rental homes in Cordova Park only spent an average of 48 days on the market because of the desirable location.
Email nicoles@pensacolarealtymasters.com for a list of current homes for rent in Cordova Park or call Realty Masters of FL at (850) 473-3983.
Do you live in the Cordova Park area? Comment below!
Richie Brantley, Realtor
Realty Masters of FL


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Using Your Self Directed IRA To Purchase Real Estate

Using Your Self Directed IRA To Purchase Real Estate

Most people have heard of an IRA but are not aware they can purchase and hold Real Estate inside their IRA.  To do this you must have an agent who is familiar with this type of transaction, someone to administrate your IRA and you must follow the IRS rules. 
As a fellow real estate investor, I have purchasing properties with the help of an IRA since 2007 and can help you do the same.  I personally have used my IRA to purchase real estate that I later rehabbed and sold, a home used for rental income, and I have generated income for my IRA from Promissory notes and mortgages I hold inside my IRA.  

The important thing to know is that you should discuss any potential investment with the 3rd Party Administrator and also you should refer to Internal Revenue Code Section 4975 which deal with prohibited transactions. 
In short, transactions not allowed are
1.      A Sale, exchange or lease between your IRA and a related party (disqualified persons per IRA are you, your children, grandchildren, spouse or parents or any business owned 50% or more by one of the disqualified parties.)

2.       Lending money to a related party

3.       Transferring the income or assets of the IRA to a related party

An example is you cannot purchase a rental and rent to your children, or purchase a vacation rental if you intend to use it for your own personal use too.  If the IRS disqualifies your investment your account will be considered distribuwhich could ted which can result in income taxes (and penalties unless you are at least age 59 ½).

You can Self Direct Roth or Traditional IRAs as well as Solo 401 Ks. 

If you want to purchase rental property in your IRA you are not allowed to manage the property yourself.

There are special rules for handling the funds and there are many companies out there that handle these types of accounts and can advise you of the fees they charge, how to get started and what not to do.  I personally have used The Entrust Group, AdvantaIRA Trust, LLC, I have other clients using Equity Trust and Provident Trust to name a few. 

For more information on these companies, visit their websites: 

Call Pam Brantley at Realty Masters to help you with your investment strategy, I can help you purchase and then provide the required management services for your investment. Email me your IRA questions at pam@PensacolaRealtyMasters.com Pam Keen Brantley  or just give me a call.

Pam Brantley, Broker
Realty Masters of FL~ #1 in Pensacola Rental Homes!4400 Bayou Blvd. #58B, Pensacola, FL 32503Call us at (850) 473-3983 Over 45 Pensacola Rental Homes at www.PensacolaRealtyMasters.com
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