Exotic Locales, Elegant E-mail Signatures, and Energy Efficiency
We’ve been enjoying the New York Times series “House hunting in …” In several installments we have learned about the real estate market in Austria, Switzerland, Madrid, British Columbia, and this week, Antigua. It may never happen for us, but it sure is fun to imagine!
Forbes offers a treasure trove of intriguing content, from outrageous home amenity slide shows to stealthy green cars, but this week 12 Housing Markets Moving in the Right Direction caught our fancy. The picture of Seattle does not do it justice, in case you were wondering.
Speaking of cars, Yahoo! shares some stealthy cars that thieves don’t want; whether you can afford a BMW 5 Series or Audi A6 is another story.
E-mail signatures often become unwieldy. Chris Smith gives some tips on streamlining your signature.
Last week we shared details on Google’s push in the social sphere. In the company’s eternal quest to take over the world, this week it acquired Zagat. Mountain View, California sure smells like Pinky and the Brain these days…
Dystopias, saving $ in summer, and how unlucky is Friday the 13th?
Those Big Brother posters from 1984 really would work. Researchers show that even the illusion of being observed – even by a poster with eyes on it – makes people more honest. At least in England…
Speaking of dystopia: The rise of e-Readers is impacting more than just the publishing industry. Crain’s Chicago Business reports that built-in bookshelves in homes are passe. More and more owners are ripping them out or dry-walling them over in favor of flat screen TVs.
Rounding out our theme of nightmare realms: Thought all your friends playing Farmville was annoying? Try Gagaville, launching next week. Yes, THAT Gaga.
Appolicious is a directory of free and paid apps on many subjects—health, finance, games, music and travel to name a few. ABC 7 Chicago has highlighted a few of its navigation and driving apps in a recent story.
Summer heat is a mastermind at emptying our wallets. In today’s economy, many families cannot afford large rises in their monthly bills. How can you keep energy costs low this Summer?
Are accidents more likely to happen on Friday the 13th? How about if there’s also a full moon and a lunar eclipse? Slate revisits a classic Atul Gawande Medical Examiner column from 1998.
Be careful out there!
In the last few months Information Central has been receiving some calls from members concerned over two different claims have been made about recently enacted or pending legislation that would impact home sales. Both are false.
The first says that the Energy bill currently making its way through the senate would require home energy audits prior to sales. This is false. The bill rather provides for some state-administered matching grants to homeowners who make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. The bill also mandates new construction to meet certain energy efficiency guidelines, but prohibits time of sale labeling. The legislation is currently pending in the senate.
Secondly, some claim that the recently passed healthcare bill includes a 3.8% transfer tax on the sale of all homes. This is also false. The new Medicare tax applies only to high income (those with incomes over $200,000 for individuals, or $250,000 for households that file taxes jointly) with ‘net investment income’. As the first $250,000 of any sale of a primary residence is automatically excluded ($500,ooo if filing jointly) from capital gains, the only people who might pay this new tax are the very wealthy who sell a property at an enormous profit. Factcheck gives examples of who might pay:
- A single executive making $210,000 a year who sells his $300,000 ski condo for a $50,000 profit. His tax on the sale of that vacation home would amount to $1,900, in addition to the capital gains tax he would have paid anyway.
- An “empty nester” couple with combined income of over $250,000 a year who sell their $1 million primary residence to move to smaller quarters. If they cleared $600,000 on the sale, they would be taxed on $100,000 of the profit (the amount over the half-million-dollar exclusion). Their health care tax on the sale would amount to $3,800 over and above the usual capital gains levy.
To help combat these false claims, NAR Government Affairs has created a handout [links to PDF]. Rest assured if there were any radical changes to the home buying and selling process, the National Association of REALTORS® would be on top of it, letting its members know the truth.