Buying and Selling Real Estate During the Winter Months

shj011617_buyingselling_in_winter_months_blog_imageWinter months are not known to be peak real estate markets. Most of us are settling in for the holidays and not thinking about moving. The good news is smart buyers are often looking to buy during this season and selling your house in the off-season is often less stressful than during peak months.

Benefits for Buyers:

Motivated sellers
Off-season sellers are not usually selling because they want to. Either their home has been on the market for a few months or they may need to move due to a job transfer or change of circumstance. Winter sellers are frequently more motivated and may be more inclined to negotiate with buyers.

Better service
By waiting until the winter to start your home search, you are likely to receive better service. Real estate agents, inspectors, appraisers and moving companies have more availability and mortgage brokers have fewer files on their desk.
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Dow 20,000 and the History of the Dow’s Milestones

The Dow is within “striking distance” of reaching 20,000, a milestone that many investors may feel as though they have been waiting forever for (source). As we are potentially days away from the arrival of the Dow 20,000, and while this is merely just a number – a big, round number – we consider the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the time it took to reach some of its past milestones.

Historically, the index has struggled reaching major milestones. The Dow first reached 100 in 1906, but after many fluctuations, it wasn’t until the mid-1920s before it convincingly traded higher than that level, and it permanently broke above it in 1942 (source).

This was the case for the Dow 1,000 as well. It initially hit the 1,000 mark intraday in 1966 but did not close above that mark until November 1972. It wasn’t until 1982, 16 years after initially reaching 1,000, that the Dow finally traded above that mark for good (source). It took roughly 15 years from first closing above 1,000 in 1972 for the Dow to progress another 1,000 points to the 2,000 milestone, yet only four years to go from 2,000 to 3,000 points.

The Dow first hit 10,000 in 1999, but the average fell below that level for 11 years, until 2010 when it took residence above that milestone. Now, seven short years later, the Dow is about to hit 20,000.

The chart below shows the important Dow milestones and additional key dates that defined what the Dow is today:

shj_sharkey_howes_javer_important_dow_milestones

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Tax Smarts

shj011017_tax_smarts_blog_image-2As we settle into the new year and resolutions roll around once again, there’s a good chance that “figure out my finances” makes its way back to the top of the list. Something that you could consider doing differently this year is proactive tax planning instead of reactive tax planning. Here are four ways you could get ahead of your taxes in 2017:

1. Take the Surprise Out of Taxes
If you have a close estimate of the income you will receive in 2017, print a two-page 1040 form and start working through a very basic tax calculation. You can print other forms as needed depending on the complexity of your tax return. Estimate income and deductions to the best of your ability. Compare the estimated Federal tax liability with your current Federal withholding to determine if you are over- or under-withholding, and make proactive adjustments at the beginning of the year. We suggest the same exercise with your state tax forms. Note: Although the 2017 1040 is not yet available, the 2016 1040 will give you a useable guideline.
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Inside the Economy with SH&J: January 3, 2017

In our first Inside the Economy of the new year, we discuss our economic outlook for 2017. The U.S. is about 7.5 years into the current business expansion, which is approaching the 10-year record from the 1990’s but will the S&P 500 continue to increase in valuation? What can we expect for mortgage rates this year? Listen in to hear more on these topics in our first economic update of 2017!

7 Beneficial Habits to Move You Towards Financial Freedom

shj010417_financial_freedom_blog_imageMany of us dream of the days of not having to work and traveling whenever we please. Some of us dream of living in a home owned outright. Some are looking for the security of a large nest egg to know loved ones will be taken care of when we are gone.

Whatever financial freedom means to you, there are a few important habits to help get you there.

Automate Savings and Payments
We live in a digital world and with it comes helpful tools, such as automation. Set up an automatic withdrawal from your paycheck to your retirement and savings accounts to make it feel like it was never there in the first place. Avoid unnecessary fees and keep your credit score high by setting up automatic payments for your mortgage, insurance and credit cards. These small things can help reduce stress and keep you on track to financial freedom.

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Organizing Your Financial Documents

shj122716_organizing_financial_documents_blog_imageWhen it comes to important documents, some people are detailed filers and others are “organized pilers”. You know where your documents are, but does anybody else? In an emergency or the event of your incapacity, could your adult children or designated Power of Attorney quickly find the documents and information that they need? Whether you choose to go electronic or stick with paper, there are a couple of steps to follow to organize your financial documents.

Stay Protected
If you make the shift to paperless with your documents, be sure that your home network is secure and that the documents and your personal computer are password protected. Be sure to quickly update the password that is automatically assigned to you during a new internet installation. Periodically update your antivirus software and make sure you have a firewall. If you receive account statements and notifications electronically, consider changing your password every six months to a year, and never access your financial information on a public network! When storing documents electronically, you can either save them locally on your computer or research websites that offer services to store and organize your important documents in one place.

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Inside the Economy with SH&J: December 19, 2016

This week on Inside the Economy with SH&J, we discuss the recent Federal increase in interest rates and the likelihood of additional increases in 2017. How will the higher interest rates impact us in the Denver real estate market? Will we see a push on wage inflation in 2017? Listen in to hear our last economic update for 2016!

New Year, New Goals: Evaluate Your Finances and Make a Plan for 2017

shj121916_new_years_resolution_blog_image2016 has been a whirlwind of a year, but hopefully not on your finances. Life changes and with it come new expenses or new financial goals. It’s important to regularly check in on your finances to ensure you are staying on track. What better time than the new year?

Here are 5 things to review as we move into 2017:

Income and expenses
The key to managing a spending plan is knowing how much money is coming in and how much is going out. As we head into the new year, review your pay stubs, earnings reports and other sources of income and crunch some numbers. Once you’ve figured out your income, do the same with your expenses.

Try out an online budget tool or use online banking to automatically categorize your expenses so you can see where you are spending the most. Pull up your budget from last year to see what may have changed and adjust as needed. Remember to be realistic about how much you will spend, not how much you want to spend.

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Holiday Spending Hangover

shj121316_happy_holidaysMany people may experience a spiked eggnog hangover during the holiday season, but do you also find yourself with a spending hangover? That nagging feeling that you may have spent too much on gifts for your loved ones but you aren’t really sure how much you should have spent?

According to a recent survey by T. Rowe Price, you are not alone. Of the participants surveyed, 64% “spent more over the holidays than [they] should have”. And women are not the only ones doing the holiday shopping. “Men are more likely than women to try to get everything on their kids’ lists (60% vs. 45%).” The holiday spending hangover is increasing as well. Of the participants surveyed, 69% spent the same amount, a little bit more, or a lot more than last year.

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Inside the Economy with SH&J: December 5, 2016

This week on Inside the Economy with SH&J, we discuss how OPEC’s recent decision to cut production impacted the U.S. stock market and the level of influence we can expect from OPEC going forward. Additionally, the new administration may have a plan to bring overseas corporate profits back to the U.S., but will repatriation be important? Listen in to hear more on these issues as well as U.S. contributions to globalization by industry since 1997.