Looking for information to help prepare your tax return?  

Federal Income Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency

The tax credits listed below are available for purchases made in 2017.  All other ENERGY STAR federal tax credits expired at the end of 2016.  ENERGY STAR products eligible for tax credits are independently certified to save energy, save money and protect the environment.  Use up to 30% less energy in your home by outfitting it with ENERGY STAR products available across more than 70 categories. *

2017 Federal Tax Credits

Tax Credit:  30% of cost with no upper limit

Expires:  December 31, 2021
Tax credits for Solar Energy Systems are available at 30% through December 31, 2019.
The credit decreases to 26% for tax year 2020; drops to 22% for tax year 2021 then expires December 31, 2021)

Details:  Existing homes and new construction qualify.  Both principal residences and second homes qualify. Rentals do not qualify.

*  The tax credit information contained within this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for expert advice from a professional tax/financial planner or the IRS.


10 Questions to Ask Home Inspectors

10 Questions to Ask Home Inspectors

Before you make your final buying or selling decision, you should have the home inspected by a professional. An inspection can alert you to potential problems with a property and allow you to make an informed decision. Ask these questions to prospective home inspectors:

1. Will your inspection meet recognized standards? Ask whether the inspection and the inspection report will meet all state requirements and comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics, such as the one adopted by the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors. Customers can view each group’s standards of practice and code of ethics online at www.ashi.org or www.nahi.org. ASHI’s Web site also provides a database of state regulations.
2. Do you belong to a professional home inspector association? There are many state and national associations for home inspectors, including the two groups mentioned in No. 1. Unfortunately, some groups confer questionable credentials or certifications in return for nothing more than a fee. Insist on members of reputable, nonprofit trade organizations; request to see a membership ID.
3. How experienced are you? Ask how long inspectors have been in the profession and how many inspections they’ve completed. They should provide customer referrals on request. New inspectors also may be highly qualified, but they should describe their training and let you know whether they plan to work with a more experienced partner.
4. How do you keep your expertise up to date? Inspectors’ commitment to continuing education is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important in cases in which a home is older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training.
5. Do you focus on residential inspection? Make sure the inspector has training and experience in the unique discipline of home inspection, which is very different from inspecting commercial buildings or a construction site. If your customers are buying a unique property, such as a historic home, they may want to ask whether the inspector has experience with that type of property in particular.
6. Will you offer to do repairs or improvements? Some state laws and trade associations allow the inspector to provide repair work on problems uncovered during the inspection. However, other states and associations forbid it as a conflict of interest. Contact your local ASHI chapter to learn about the rules in your state.
7. How long will the inspection take? On average, an inspector working alone inspects a typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything significantly less may not be thorough. If your customers are purchasing an especially large property, they may want to ask whether additional inspectors will be brought in.
8. What’s the cost? Costs can vary dramatically, depending on your region, the size and age of the house, and the scope of services. The national average for single-family homes is about $320, but customers with large homes can expect to pay more. Customers should be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.
9. What type of inspection report do you provide? Ask to see samples to determine whether you will understand the inspector’s reporting style. Also, most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection.
10. Will I be able to attend the inspection? The answer should be yes. A home inspection is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer. An inspector’s refusal to let the buyer attend should raise a red flag.

Source: Rob Paterkiewicz, executive director, American Society of Home Inspectors, Des Plaines,

A REALTOR was behind the ASL Ice Bucket Challenge

REALTOR® Behind the Ice Bucket Challenge
Daily Real Estate News | Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge will go down in history as one of the most successful grassroots movements for charity. Its success is staggering: More than $100 million was raised in two months to benefit research for sufferers of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, one of the most underplayed and misunderstood diseases.

Watch REALTORS® take the Ice Bucket Challenge.

You’d think it must have taken a team of marketing geniuses to get the whole world involved in raising awareness of something most probably had never even heard of before.

All it really took was a REALTOR® and her family.

Meet Nancy Frates, an agent and trainer with Keller Williams Realty in Beverly, Mass., who helped propel the Ice Bucket Challenge to a global phenomenon. Her son, Pete, who was diagnosed with ALS in March 2012, has become the face of the movement because of his unending efforts to spread the message across social media far and wide.

The day Pete was diagnosed, the Frates family set out to form a team that would rise to the challenge of finding treatment for this debilitating disease. Since that day, Nancy has gone to the ends of the earth to help save her son and everyone else who suffers from ALS. And it’s, in part, because of her efforts that the world has come so much closer to a cure.

Read about Nancy’s road from anguished parent to leader of a cause, and don’t miss her during the General Session at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans, where she’ll be on hand.

—By Graham Wood, REALTOR® Magazine

Do Organic Lawn Care Products Really Work?

Spring Flowers Want the Best Lawn on the Block??

Flat beer, vinegar, boiling water, dish soap … have you ever tried any of these ‘home remedies’ on your lawn?

John Boyd says it’s a waste of time – read what he has to say here.What do you think?  Do you have any green lawn secrets? Happy Spring.

The Olympic’s Best Rule

What’s your opinion… is curling a real sport?  I’ll admit, I find myself watching a few “ends” every Winter Olympics.  I’ve never really understood the rules though.

Here’s a guide I found – my favorite rule is #7.  Sport or not, every game should end that way.

What’s your favorite winter event?