Welcome 2012!!

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it’s already 2012?  Where did this year go?  The Moxie Ladies are pleased to report that, thanks to people like you, 2011 was our best year yet.  So, let’s start with that, a great, big THANK YOU for your business and your referrals.  The Moxie Ladies aren’t really stereotypical realtors (think about their hair), so your continued support means everything.

Another reason 2011 was so great was the wonderful support from Moxie’s new broker, Christine Choate, of Horizon Realty.  Christine’s unflagging support and willingness to step in to help for anything Moxie’s clients needed really made 2011 special.

And Moxie’s also been lucky to forge partnerships with some great lenders, title companies, and lawyers.  Moxie has had ups and downs with some realtors on the other side of transactions, but was privileged to do business with some of Austin’s finest.  When all of the parties to a transaction work together, everyone benefits.  So, if you worked with someone particularly great – let the Moxie Ladies know – they’d love to meet them.

Now, what’s ahead for 2012?  The Moxie Ladies are hoping for another great year and hope that it will be a great year for each of you.  If you’re thinking of making the move from renting to buying, check out Moxie’s helpful blog, Is it Time for You to Buy Your Home?

As always, Moxie wants to hear from you – let us know if you need anything!

Warmest regards,
Justine and Mishell
The Moxie Ladies
– A referral is the highest compliment you can give us. We will take great care of anyone you send our way.

P.S. If you’ve done business with Moxie and gotten good service, please review us on Yelp – here’s a link to our page.  An online presence really helps a business grow.  Thanks!

 


Market Update!
*Data courtesy of ABOR

Despite continued ups and downs with the economy, rates remain at historic lows and Austin real estate prices have remained relatively steady.  According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) report released December 20, 2011 by the Austin Board of REALTORS®, 1,358 single-family homes were sold in the Austin area in November 2011, which is 11 percent more than November 2010. During the same time period, the median price for Austin-area homes was $189,300, three percent more than the same month of the prior year.

Judith Bundschuh, Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, commented, “For the sixth month in a row, the volume of home sales in Austin has outpaced 2010 and the inventory of available homes has decreased.”

Austin-area homes spent an average of 83 days on the market in November 2011, seven days less than the same month of the prior year. Compared to November 2010, the Austin market also featured the same number of new listings, 18 percent fewer active listings and 15 percent more pending sales in November 2011.

In November 2011, the Austin market had 4.5 months of inventory, 1.4 months less than November 2010 and the lowest figure reported since the organization began tracking the statistic in January 2009.

Chairman Bundschuh continued, “As we approach the end of the year, sellers should be encouraged that demand and prices are strong. Buyers should know the decrease in inventory combined with increased demand could mean they will encounter more competition for properties.”

Thinking of Investing?  It’s a Great Time.

The rental market has been extremely tight, in November 2011, 998 properties leased in Austin, normally a slow time for our leasing market. The median price for Austin-area lease was $1,250, four percent higher than the same month of the prior year. And the inventory of available homes for sale is 7,173 – (active single-family home listings on the market as of this writing), 18 percent less than November 2010, so if you have been thinking of investing in a rental property, this is a great time.

Both Justine and Mishell are experienced investors and have helped other investors find great properties to enhance their portfolios.  The Moxie Ladies believe in a balanced approach to investing – you should not have all of your eggs in one basket.  But if you’re considering adding a different egg, please give us a call.  We’ll be happy to talk to you about the pros and cons of owning investment properties and put you in touch with lenders who can help you find the right loan for your needs.

Justine’s Tips from the Farm*
Note: Mishell is Hijacking Justine’s Space this Time.

This is the space where Justine normally tells you something charming and lovely about her beloved Belly Acres and country life with her family.  But since the last time we wrote, I’ve actually had more crazy wildlife experiences than Justine has, mostly courtesy of my crazy calico cat (I learned after she adopted me that most calicos are completely nuts – who knew?).  I knew that Austin was more country than NYC, but I never expected this!

First, the tenants in my east side duplex had a snake problem.  What?  Yeah, snakes.  I mean, they were just little ones, but even though I wasn’t living with them, I could understand why they’d be upset.  The most dashing fellow from TruTech came to my house to discuss my options, which seemed to be, um, pay them to do some kind of snake treatment for a year.  OK.  Then the neighbor started watering like crazy (stage whatever water restrictions be damned!) and washing away my treatment until the tenants and I got in a letter writing war with him.  Things seem to have settled down quite a bit, but, wow.

Then, this summer, to make my cat happy, I installed a cat door.  This seemed completely reasonable, and Carmelita was very happy until a raccoon learned how to get in, open things in my house with its scary thumbs, generally trash it, and scare the you-know-what out of me.  It pooped on my counter (another lesson learned – raccoon poop is BAD for you and you should have a professional clean it up).  I learned a lot about raccoons (they don’t go away, you have to remove them) and wildlife infestations in general.  Oh, and if you need to borrow a trap for a raccoon or possum or something, I’m your girl.
To show her great love of me for getting rid of the raccoon, Carmelita started bringing me presents.  First, half a lizard.  Then a whole lizard.  Then a live something that squeaked and I ran out the back door to work but later learned was a bird.  The coup-de-grace?  I was getting ready for a wedding and heard something weird in the cat door.  I came out, hair in curlers, to find that Carmelita had graciously brought me a dead squirrel and plopped it right down in the kitchen.  She gave me a look like, “What? Look what I brought you.”  I went to the wedding and when I came home, fortified myself with several shots of lemoncino to get up the nerve to remove it, and then, still in my wedding finery, with the help of a broom and dustpan, got it out to the street.

So, is there a moral?  Mostly just this: yes, the country happens in the city.  And we’re here for you if that happens.  By which I mean we can give you the phone number of the right company or lend you the trap.

[*Mishell lives in a  bungalow in South Austin with a Spartan trailer guest house, she has a love for travel and a has been know to throw legendary dinner parties.  In this column she shares the ups and downs of city livin’ and lessons she’s learned.  Think of her as the American Nigella Lawson!]

2011 Energy Tax Credits: What You Need to Know to Collect
*brought to you by House Logic

Washington is giving you less green for going green, as the feds reel back the 2011 energy tax credits from a lavish $1,500 to a paltry $500. 2011’s federal energy tax credits of up to $500 for various home improvements are a far cry from what they were last year. But if the limits and other fine print — which we’ll get to — doesn’t dissuade you and you really need to upgrade one or more of the following systems, take advantage of the energy tax credits.

The energy tax credits are small, but at least a credit is better than a deduction:

  • Deductions just reduce your taxable income.
  • With a credit, you get a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability: If you get the $500 credit, you pay $500 less in taxes.

Other limits on IRS energy tax credits besides $500 max:

  • Credit only extends to 10% of the cost (not the 30% of yesteryear), so you have to spend $5,000 to get $500.
  • $500 is a lifetime limit. If you pocketed $500 or more in 2009 and 2010 combined, you’re not entitled to any more money for energy-efficient improvements in the above seven categories. But if you took $300 in the last two years, for example, you can get up to $200 in 2011.
  • With some systems, your cap is even lower than $500.
  • $500 is the max for all qualified improvements combined.

Certain systems capped below $500
No matter how much you spend on some approved items, you’ll never get the $500 credit—though you could combine some of these:

System Cap
New windows $200 max (and no, not per window—overall)
Advanced main air-circulating fan $50 max
Qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler $150 max
Approved electric and geothermal heat pumps; central air-conditioning systems; and natural gas, propane, or oil water heaters $300 max

And not all products are created equal in the feds’ eyes. Improvements have to meet IRS energy-efficiency standards to qualify for the tax credit. In the case of boilers and furnaces, they have to meet the 95 AFUE standard. EnergyStar.gov has the details.

Tax credits cover installation — sometimes
Rule of thumb: If installation is either particularly difficult or critical to safe functioning, the credit will cover labor. Otherwise, not. (Yes, you’d have to be pretty handy to install your own windows and roof, but the feds put these squarely in the “not covered” category.)

Installation covered for:

  • Biomass stoves
  • HVAC
  • Non-solar water heaters

Installation not covered for:

  • Insulation
  • Roofs
  • Windows, doors, and skylights

How to claim the 2011 energy tax credit

  • Determine if the system you’re considering is eligible for the credits. Go to Energy Star’s website for detailed descriptions of what’s covered; then talk to your vendor.
  • Save system receipts and manufacturer certifications. You’ll need them if the IRS asks for proof.
  • File IRS Form 5695 with the rest of your tax forms in 2012.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but isn’t intended to be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice, and remember that tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

Events in and Around Austin
Some special ideas from the Moxie Ladies:

January

December 30- January 8, 2012
Free Week  (Various participating venues)

January 3 – January 31, 2012
Free Admission at the Wildflower Center (Lady Bird Wildflower Center)

January 7, 2012
L and G Style New Year release kick off party! (Palm Door Event Space)

January 12 – 15, 2012
Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival (Palmer Events Center)

January 13, 2012
Austin Home and Garden Show (Austin Convention Center)

January 16, 2012
Martin Luther King, Jr. March and Festival  (Huston-Tillotson University)

January 17, 2012
FronteraFest (Multiple Austin Theaters)

January 25, 2012
Taste of Austin  (North Austin Events Center)

February

February 2, 2012
Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Moulin Rouge: The Ballet  (The Paramount Theater)

February 4, 2012
Free Home Composting Challenge Class (Twin Oaks Library)

February 11, 2012
Ride For Refuge (Fiesta Gardens)

February 13, 2012
Chef’s Table on the Farm (Springdale Farm)

February 18 – 19, 2012
Old Gruene Market Days (Gruene TX)

February 19, 2012
LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon and Half Marathon (In and around Austin’s most historic neighborhoods)

February 24, 2012
1st Annual AFHC Beardette Beard & Moustache Competition
(Scoot Inn)

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