Spring 2011


Gardening advice to keep your landscaping beaufiful
How to sell your home while owning a pet
Home owners save money during tax time
Housing proves key to economic recovery
Survey shows owners and renters agree home ownership matters

Gardening advice to keep your landscaping beaufiful

By ________________________ (Board President’s Name Here)____________________________ Board/Association of REALTORS

Gardening is not rocket science: if you can dig a hole, turn on a spigot, and snip a dead flower off a vine, you can tend a garden.

Still, gardeners have to make some judgment calls. How much water does this shrub need? Will this tree get enough sun? Is this hole deep enough? It’s easy to misjudge and make a mess out of your landscaping. Here are seven common garden blunders, and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Too many changes, too soon
The excitement of buying a new home, plus a stretch of warm spring weather, often creates a passion for yard work. But don’t just do something, stand there! What looks like a spring weed might be a fall-blooming vine; that bare spot in April might reveal tulips in May.

Try this instead: Live with your land for a year. Observe how many hours of sunlight each part of your garden gets. Test the pH of your soil to determine if acid-loving or alkaline-loving plants will be happy in that particular patch of heaven. Observe when your lawn greens up in spring and becomes dormant in late summer.

The money and time you save by watching and waiting will be your own.

Mistake #2: Too much togetherness
Trees and shrubs that look properly spaced when you plant them will crowd each other and compete for water, sun, and nutrients in a few years. If you’re lucky, you can transplant some bushes; if you’re not, you’ll have to throw away starved shrubs.

Try this instead: Before digging, read spacing instructions. Give trees plenty of space–you can always fill in later. Stagger bushes and plants and create two rows, which will create more breathing room. The results will look absurdly sparse at first. But live with it. In a few years, your shrubs will fill empty spaces without suffocating each other.

Mistake #3: Planting without a plan
Planting new garden beds without a long-term landscape plan is like pouring a house foundation without blueprints. Your haste results in a waste of time, money and muscles.

Try this instead: Draw a simple sketch of your yard–what’s there now and what you might add later, such as patios, outbuildings, and pools. Bone up on the trees and shrubs that grow best in your soil and climate. Go online and click around landscaping sites that help you pick plants and design beds.

Visit your local nursery or home improvement center where design staff can answer questions and make suggestions. Or hire a professional landscape designer to create a starter plan for as little as $250 to $500. Find a professional at the Association of Professional Landscape Designers or the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Mistake #4: Neglecting the root of it all
Even the hardiest plants need a little help putting down roots in new locations. Sprinkling the foliage doesn’t nourish the roots, the plant’s nerve center. You must deliver water to the root ball below the ground, or your plants will be stunted and short-lived.

Try this instead: Place the hose at the base of new bushes, trees and plants and let the water trickle out for 20 to 30 minutes, twice a week (more during hot spells), for 4 to 12 weeks. Or snake a soaker hose ($20 for 50 feet) through your beds, which will deliver slow and steady water to roots.

Mistake #5: Forgetting the sun
Too many gardeners pick plants based only on looks, not the growing conditions plants require and the conditions that exist. Rookies will plant sun-loving perennials under an old oak tree or sun-shy hostas in the open. They look great for about a week and then die.

Try this instead: Observing the spot where you’re going to put the plant and estimating the amount of sun it gets over the course of a day during the growing season. To translate that into the language on plant labels, use this key:

Full Sun = 6 hours a day or more
Part Sun/Part Shade = 3 to 5 hours
Full Shade = Less than 3 hours

Mistake #6: Over-watering
An automatic irrigation system is a luxury that keeps your landscape hydrated throughout the growing season with almost no effort. Unfortunately, auto-watering can bring disease, root rot, and a premature death to plants; it also wastes water.

Many gardeners set watering timers for 15 to 20 minutes each morning, which wets the surface but doesn’t soak deeply to nourish roots of large trees and shrubs.

Try this instead: Water for 40 to 60 minutes only two to three times a week. Check with the company that maintains your irrigation system for local recommendations. A deeper soak also helps lawns develop deeper root systems.

Mistake #7: Budget blunders
Your landscaping can fall victim to construction bulldozers that park on lawns and dig too closely to trees and shrubs. New construction also demands rethinking your landscape plan to accommodate additions.

Unfortunately, many home owners don’t include landscaping in their construction budget. They end up with a beautiful new family room, screened porch, or solarium, and a few lonely azaleas planted around the foundation as an afterthought.

Try this instead: Allocate 10% to 20% of your construction budget to the landscape–both hardscaping and plants. If your construction spreadsheet can’t stand another line item, make a plan to landscape–in stages, if necessary–as soon as possible after construction is completed.

If you’re in the market for a new home…or thinking about selling your current home, contact a REALTOR. Their value and expertise will ensure a professional home buying/selling experience.

How to sell your home while owning a pet

By ________________________ (Board President’s Name Here)

____________________________ Board/Association of REALTORS

When you are trying to sell your home and you own a pet, showings and open houses can be particularly tricky. Many prospective buyers are allergic to pets, are intimidated by them (especially large barking dogs), or simply don’t like them. In order to avoid turning off any potential buyers, the following pointers can help pet owners sell their homes.

1.) Most pet lovers do not want to hear this, but the best solution to selling your home is relocating your animal when it is on the market. Casting them to the backyard or garage is not fair to them and could still turn off some potential buyers.

2.) If you don’t want to remove your pet long-term, try to at least make arrangements for it during showings, like animal daycare. Not only will your home come across as more impressive but your furry friend will have a fun day filled with exercise.

3.) Professionally clean carpets and remove all stains. If stains remain, then replace the carpet. Be sure to vacuum at least once per day (As close to the showing or open house as possible).

4.) Minimize offensiveness by keeping cat litter boxes extremely clean and out of site. In addition, make sure to clean up the backyard. Remove food and water dishes, pet toys, cages, and beds.

5.) Invest in a good air purifier that will help eliminate pet odor and dander.

If you follow these simple steps, (name of president) says that selling your home while owning a pet should not be an issue.

If you’re in the market for a new home…or thinking about selling your current home, contact a REALTOR. Their value and expertise will ensure a professional home buying/selling experience.

Home owners save money during tax time

By ________________________ (Board President’s Name Here)

____________________________ Board/Association of REALTORS

One thing to remember when buying a home, says (full name of your association) are the many tax benefits homebuyers can take advantage of by owning a home.

“Many families are feeling a financial squeeze these days and the tax benefits associated with owning a home can be a welcome relief,” said (full name and title of your local spokesperson). “There are many benefits to being a home owner, but some of the most substantial advantages are most apparent at tax time.”

Tax credits and deductions for home owners include the mortgage interest deduction, capital gains on home sales, and credits for certain energy-efficient home improvements. The MID allows home owners to deduct the interest paid on a mortgage debt of up to $1 million on a primary residence and one additional residence.

“Some suggest that many of today’s tax incentives for home owners primarily benefit the wealthy, but that is untrue,” said (last name of your local spokesperson). “Ninety-one percent of home owners who claim the MID earn less than $200,000 a year.”

According to (abbreviated name of your association), a family who bought a home in 2010 with a $200,000, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, assuming an interest rate of 4.5 percent, could save nearly $3,500 in federal taxes when they filed in 2011.

Federal law also allows sellers to exclude certain capital gains from the sale of a principal residence. Couples who file a joint federal return can exclude from taxation up to $500,000 of any gain in their home’s value. Singles can exclude gains of up to $250,000.

There are countless tax benefits available to home owners who have recently installed energy-efficient improvements, as well. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 created energy tax credits for installing insulation, energy-efficient exterior windows or doors, heat pumps, furnaces, central air conditioners, or water pumps. A 30 percent credit is also available to home owners who installed alternative energy equipment such as fuel cells, solar water heaters, solar electric equipment, small wind energy projects, or geothermal heat pumps.

“For people who don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings to buy a home outright, these tax benefits can help them begin building their future through home ownership,” said (last name of your local spokesperson). “REALTORS continue to work tirelessly to defend these tax benefits on Capitol Hill and ensure public policies that promote responsible, sustainable home ownership.”

“Jobs enable people to achieve the American dream of home ownership,” said (last name of your local spokesperson). “Every time a home is built, bought or sold, jobs are created. Housing isn’t the only thing to restore our country’s economy, but it will play a critical role.”

If you’re in the market for a new home…or thinking about selling your current home, contact a REALTOR. Their value and expertise will ensure a professional home buying/selling experience.

Housing proves key to economic recovery

By ________________________ (Board President’s Name Here)

____________________________ Board/Association of REALTORS

While America continues to feel the effects of a historic recession and staggering unemployment, housing can help the nation achieve a genuine recovery.

“Although job numbers have improved over the past few months, the unemployment rate is still more than 8 percent, well above historic norms,” said (full name and title of your local spokesperson). “Home ownership creates jobs and has led this country out of six of the last eight recessions. It is essential to a full economic recovery.”

A solid housing recovery means robust economic recovery. It is estimated that one job is generated for every two home sales. That means for every 5 million homes sold, 2.5 million private-sector jobs are created. It’s also estimated that each home sale at the median price pumps a total of $60,000 into the economy over time.

“Home ownership builds a stronger America,” said (last name of your local spokesperson). “In addition to helping create jobs, housing also has a significant impact on national spending. Housing accounts for more than 15 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, making it a key economic driver.”

Spending as a result of a home sale can be directly or indirectly tied to a home purchase. Expenses such as commissions and fees are a direct result of a sale or purchase. Meanwhile, other sectors that benefit from the demand for related goods and services including carpeting, furniture, appliances, window treatments, landscaping, home improvement and more.

“Jobs enable people to achieve the American dream of home ownership,” said (last name of your local spokesperson). “Every time a home is built, bought or sold, jobs are created. Housing isn’t the only thing to restore our country’s economy, but it will play a critical role.”

If you’re in the market for a new home…or thinking about selling your current home, contact a REALTOR. Their value and expertise will ensure a professional home buying/selling experience.

Survey shows owners and renters agree home ownership matters

By ________________________ (Board President’s Name Here)

____________________________ Board/Association of REALTORS

A significant majority of today’s home owners and renters agree owning a home is a smart long-term decision. According to a survey released by the National Association of REALTORS, 95 percent of owners and 72 percent of renters believe over several years it makes more sense to own a home.

The American Attitudes About Home Ownership survey reported a majority of home owners and a strong percentage of renters “agree” or “strongly agree” that owning a home provides a healthy and stable environment for raising a family and that it helps them meet long-term financial goals. In addition, 93 percent of owners surveyed would purchase a home again.

“Home ownership benefits individuals and families, strengthens communities and is vital to our nation’s economy,” said (full name and title of your local spokesperson). “Home is where we make memories, build our futures and feel comfortable and secure. It is only natural people feel so strongly about home ownership.”

However, owners and renters do not agree on everything. More than half of owners reported feeling very or extremely satisfied with the overall quality of their family life. Only one-third of renters reported the same level of satisfaction. According to (full name of your local REALTOR association) home owners also report higher levels of self-esteem and happiness when compared to renters.

Sixty-three percent of renters reported they are at least somewhat likely to buy a home at some point in the future. Out of that group, young adults (18-29 years old) have the strongest aspirations to own a home.

(President’s name) says in today’s market, many aspiring home owners are faced with worries about job security and creditworthiness. Three out of five renters surveyed who said they are very or extremely likely to buy considered job security and credit worthiness to be obstacles. Also, 80 percent of renters noted that having enough money for a down payment and closing costs were also obstacles.

Support of the mortgage interest deduction was shared by an overwhelming majority of both owners and renters. Seventy-four percent of owners and 62 percent of renters say it’s very or extremely important that the MID stay in place.

“This survey demonstrates the strong public support of the MID, and that we need to keep policies in place that encourage responsible, sustainable home ownership,” said (last name of your local spokesperson). “The ability to deduct the interest paid on a mortgage can mean significant savings at tax time and facilitates home ownership by reducing the carrying costs of owning a home.”

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. and fielded October 6-20, 2010. A total of 3,793 adults, 18 and older were surveyed, including 1,880 home owners, 1,115 renters, and 798 young adults. All samples came from the Harris Poll online database and were weighted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income to be representative of the U.S. general population of adults 18 and older. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents ‘ propensity to be online.

If you’re in the market for a new home…or thinking about selling your current home, contact a REALTOR. Their value and expertise will ensure a professional home buying/selling experience.