Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not Ready to Let Go of Christmas 2010

For the past month, I have loved waking up to the mingled smell of coffee in the pot and fresh cut evergreen as it decorated our home. Jake would have the tree lit each morning before I woke and it was an inspiring sight. I will have to say, that this year, as far as decorations were concerned, I went a little overboard.

As a result of our home being on the market for the past few months, being under contract for two and then not closing, I decided that "Grinch be damned", I was DECORATING for Christmas, in addition to moving our stuff back in. I say that because normally, other than our tree and a few "homemade" items given to us by our daughter, we usually keep it simple. Not this year-not me.

I hired a very talented friend and former client of mine to decorate my banister, mantle, mailbox and to spruce up my tree and a large wreath. This was no simple undertaking. After giving her my Southern Living Christmas edition (hardback of course), I envisioned pineapples, pears, citrus fruits, magnolia, boxwood, holly and a variety of other fresh decor to grace my home to show that nothing would get me out of the spirit. Hours of toll led to an end product that was marvelous, simply stunning.

Fast forward almost 40 days later and let me just say, I was ready to move on. I took down most of the decor, but this year, unlike others...our tree still stands. It's fresh smell has left, but the lights still twinkle magically each morning as I enjoy my coffee in front of the fire. When will we take it down? Who knows, but this year, I want the beauty and serenity of this Christmas to linger. The Christmas message, the snow and the family and friends contributed to a relaxation over Christmas that was different than Christmases of the past and our tree symbolizes that for me...Jake is going to have a difficult time prying that last thing out of my grasp...funny thing is, I think he doesn't want to see it go either.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Christmas-A-Plenty Around Town...

The holiday season is certainly a magical time of year. Shorter days, brisk, star-filled nights and the tinkling of bells can be heard on most any sidewalk. Then there are the traditional holiday events such as local parades, caroling, church nativities, shopping, ski-trips and the like. If you just want to stay around the Triad this season, here are a few suggestions to make your season as bright as possible.

*Festival of Lights @ Tanglewood--a seasonal favorite which meanders through a park of magical light displays. The best part is they change it up a little each year, so every holiday, it's a new treat!

*Walk Through Bethlehem--Kernersville 7th Day Adventist Church--only on weekends through the 11th of December, this is a must-see. Journey through Bethlehem during the time of Christ's birth, experience the sights and smells of the holy land during this interactive tour.

*City Sidewalks and Nightscapes--as a kid, our Christmas Eve treat after leaving my nanny's was to drive through downtown Winston-Salem and look at the several towns have beautiful downtown favorite? Downtown Kernersville with it's twinkling tree lights and lit figurines make for a simple, yet intriguing holiday drive.

*Tree lots--maybe a fresh tree isn't your thing, but pick a cold Winter evening to stroll the tree lot and take in the sweet excitement of families choosing their own tree, grab a cup of cocoa to stay warm!

*The Nutcracker--produced by students at The NC School of the Arts, this is a long-standing holiday tradition for many families. The pageantry of the costuming, the incredible music and the grand feel of the Stevens Center can be the icing on the cake as far as holiday treats!

*Restaurant Hopping--with so many great ones to choose from, pick a town and grab an appetizer at one, maybe another appetizer at another, an entree at yet a different venue and top off the evening with dessert at your final stop. Why? Because so many of our restaurants have holiday specials that can't be missed and the days of Christmas are certainly limited!

Just a few suggestions... I look forward to you adding some of your suggestions for holiday fun! If you live in a town outside of the Triad, please add yours too, you never know who might be coming to your town to see if you've been naughty or nice!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Tax Time and Closings--Deal Breaker? It doesn't have to be...

You may have received your tax bill in late August or early September, but if you escrow your taxes and insurances, then you probably just received a copy of the bill being sent to your mortgage servicing company.

Though the bills are sent out 3rd quarter our mortgage companies usually hold on to these bills and don't pay them until November or December. The deadline for payment is December 31.

As a result, the question often comes up during closings that occur during October, November and December, why am I paying taxes again on the settlement statement? This amount for many sellers can potentially break a deal, as they forget during the fourth quarter, if the payment from said mortgage company has not arrived and been recorded at the tax office, they are responsible for the bulk of the year and if you live within the city limits it can be thousands of additional dollars.

Now, don't get too panicked. Sometimes, especially in November and December, the mortgage companies have already paid the bill and it takes a friendly phone call to the tax office to get verification of payment. You can handle this confirmation but the final confirmation at closing will have to performed by the attorney or paralegal. Remember, the reason for this, is that there can be no outstanding liens against the home at closing.

If you do have to bring your portion of the year's taxes at closing because they have not been paid yet, you will be reimbursed, but it could take weeks to do so. Once again, if you planned on bringing little to no money to closing because your deal is a "break-even" so to speak, this could really put a wrench in things if you don't have the liquid cash on hand at closing time.

My advice is that if you are currently under contract or think that you may be going under contract soon, have your agent to help you verify the status of your tax bill for the current year. Sometimes, banks will work with you if enough time is given and allow you to use the portion of your escrow that they are holding for taxes to pay the tax bill. Keep in mind this is rare, but I have been made aware of exceptions that have occurred.

Once again, it's a matter of being proactive and having a great agent to help you with these challenges along the way.

"When details matter, experience counts!" Call or post today if you have questions or suggestions regarding this topic. Have a great weekend!

Brooke Cashion