Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What are the best tips for selling your house during the holidays?

You may think that the holiday season from November through January may not be the best time of year for putting your home on the market. The thought of selling your home during the winter months may dampen your holiday spirit, you’d rather be out shopping or curled up in front of the fire with a hot cup of chocolate, right?! HOWEVER, the season does have its advantages when it comes to buying and selling real estate: holiday buyers tend to be more serious, and competition is less fierce with fewer homes being actively marketed. So, first, decide if you really need to sell and then once you've committed to the challenge, roll out the festive spirit and follow these tips to make it the best holiday experience yet!

  1. Light the house and put out your best decorations

    Homes often look their best during the holidays, but sellers should be careful not to overdo it on the decor. Adornments that are too large or too many can crowd your home and distract buyers. Keep these simple staging tips in mind:

  • Clean and stage appropriately BEFORE you put out your holiday decorations.
  • Create a cozy vibe with a few subtle touches like a wreath or a bowl of pinecones
  • Complement your palette, make sure your holiday collection matches your current décor
  • Accentuate the positive and don’t block details with too many trimmings
  • Use lights to accentuate your home’s architecture not take away from it
  • Stay diverse in your decorations and keep the overtly religious décor in storage this year
  • Keep the size of the tree proportionate with your space
  • Clear the clutter – as always, the easiest and best staging tip anytime of the year!
  1. Hire a reliable real estate agent

    That means someone who will work hard for you and won't disappear during Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas or New Year's. At CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company our real estate professionals are dedicated in going above and beyond what is expected to get your home sold – any time of the year. The right agent will ease your stress and give you more time to enjoy the season. Visit and search the Realtors in your area to find the perfect match, or call us at 800-451-8055 and ask for a referral from our staff.

  2. Seek out motivated buyers

    Anyone house hunting during the holidays must have a good reason for doing so. Work with a CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Realtor to target buyers on a deadline, including people relocating for jobs in your area, investors on tax deadlines, college students and staff, and military personnel, if you live near a military base.

  3. Price it to sell

    No matter what time of year, a home that's priced low for the market will make buyers feel merry. Rather than gradually making small price reductions, many real estate agents advise sellers to slash their prices before putting a home on the market.

  4. Make curb appeal a top priority

    When autumn rolls around and the trees start to lose their leaves, maintaining the exterior of your home becomes even more important. Bare trees equal a more exposed home, so touch up the paint, clean the gutters and spruce up the yard. Keep buyers' safety in mind as well by making sure stairs and walkways are free of snow, ice and leaves. And then of course there is all that beautiful holiday garland that can add an inviting atmosphere to your front porch!

  5. Take top-notch real estate photos

    When the weather outside is frightful, homebuyers are likely to start their house hunt from the comfort of their homes by browsing listings on the Internet. Make a good first impression by offering lots of flattering, high-quality photos of your home. If possible, have a summer or spring photo of your home available so buyers can see how it looks year-round. Need help? Consult with a CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Real Estate Professional on how to take the best photos – they will even offer their help!

  6. Create a video tour for the Web

    You'll get less foot traffic during the holidays, thanks to inclement weather and vacation plans. But shooting a video tour and posting it on the Web may attract house hunters who don't have time to physically see your home or would rather not drive in a snowstorm. Need help shooting a video? Contact your CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Realtor for help, or ask them if they plan to provide a video as part of the marketing of your home during the holidays.

  7. Give house hunters a place to escape from the cold

    Make your home feel cozy and inviting during showings by cranking up the heat, playing soft classical music and offering homemade holiday treats. When you encourage buyers to spend more time in your home, you also give them more time to admire its best features.

  8. Be flexible in negotiations

    You needn't give away the farm by any means; just be willing to give and take. Your CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Realtor will guide you through this with your best interests at heart.

  9. Relax! The new year is just around the corner

    The holidays are stressful enough, with gifts to buy, dinners to prepare and relatives to entertain. Take a moment to remind yourself that if you don't sell now, there's always next year, which luckily is only a few days away.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Real Estate 411: How do I protect my investment property during the winter months?

Maximize your ROI with these tips on caring for your investment property

Seasons are changing, we are no longer experiencing 105 degree heat and we can actually enjoy sitting, eating and playing outdoors – at least for a short while. The changing of the season brings new maintenence issues that will need your immediate attention.

During these next few months we will have more rain and colder, more extreme temperatures – you want to be prepared for the fall and winter months and do what you can to preserve and protect your investment property.

Here are our tips on things to do to make sure your property is prepared to handle the colder weather and avoid unnecessary energy loss and or cold weather disasters! Whether you own one or 20 properties, doing these things now will pay off when Spring comes!


  • Protect your water supply lines by covering exposed faucets
  • Insulate lines exposed to cold
  • Use insulation foam to seal cracks and crevices
  • Seal windows and doors to cut down on energy loss
  • Fill cracks in drives and parking areas to protect from additional damage due to freezing water
  • Paint and spackle doors, windows, and fascia sofits – this will pay dividends next spring!
  • Replace and seal damaged siding and wood – this will save you money now, before additional damage is done by the wet and cold weather

Avoid frozen pipes:

  • Locate your home's water cut-off valve NOW - learn how it works so you can act quickly in case of an emergency
  • In case of broken pipes, turn water off at the main shut off, if the location of the main shut off is unknown, turn off the valve located on the hot water heater (generally located on top of the water heater)
  • Cover all foundation vents by filling the openings with foundation plugs - ideally, you should install your foundation plugs in late October and remove in late April
  • Disconnect water hoses and wrap outside hydrants and spigots
  • Drain your sprinkler system before the first freeze
  • If your home has a hot tub or pool, keep the water circulating constantly in freezing weather
  • If the temperature is below freezing, leave the heat on and open cabinet doors under sinks, allowing warm air to circulate around pipes

Avoid the expensive cost of potential repairs in the Spring by being proactive in the maintenance of your investment property this fall and winter.

Other important items:

  • Test and replace (if necessary) all smoke alarms
  • Replace A/C and heater filters for better efficiency
  • Clean out gutters and downspouts
  • Continue your landscape maintenance - mowing, edging and weed-eating for a while longer
  • Trim bushes back and tree limbs away from the roof
  • Spread out the fall weed killer and fertilizer

Need help with your property management?
For assistance in managing your investment properties, contact CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Management Company, a locally owned, certified full service property management company. C21JFPM has been successfully managing homes in the DFW Metro area since 1952 and continues to manage over 1500 local homes. For more information call 972-780-5380 or visit

Help your tenants protect themselves with Renters Insurance
We also strongly advise that you recommend Renters Insurance to your tenants to cover their personal property and protect their household from major losses. For more information, or to obtain a competitive quote, contact Linda Shade with CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Insurance (214) 446-2571.

CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company
800-451-8055 or email

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What do you want to do with YOUR money?

Be prepared for your next real estate transaction

It is the BEST of times, it is the WORST of times. You’ve heard it said often, right? But there has never been a BETTER time to BUY real estate than NOW!

It is the BEST of times, it is the WORST of times! You’ve heard it said often, right? Well, it may be only partially true. In our economy today, people all over the country view the Real Estate market as going through one of the toughest times in many years - and we have certainly had our bumps. Overall, home prices have dropped over the last five to six years across most of the country, BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS! Interest rates remain at record lows! And MORE GOOD NEWS is that the current rates make it more affordable to purchase real estate - so I would say that NOW is one of the best times to invest in real estate, NOW is the best of times - and I will show you why.

According to Cendera Funding DFW Regional Manager, Jill Clifton, “the Federal Reserve's highly unusual promise — to keep interest rates low for "at least" the next two years — should assuage fears of a rising rate environment. The positive effect that has on real estate is that flat or declining values offer additional affordability, allowing many more buyers the ability to qualify for a home mortgage loan. There has been some recent credit softening that will allow consumers with lower than 600 credit scores the ability to qualify under certain conditions.”

Here is an illustration of a comparison of rate and purchase price history (taxes and insurance have been taken out of the equation).

Loan Amount


Principle and Interest*

30 Years of Payments


Today @4.5%

$1,013.37 a month

$ 364,813


In 2008 @6%

$1,199.10 a month

$ 431.676


in 1983 @13%

$2,213.40 a month

$ 796,824


in 1983 @13%

$1,106.20 a month

$ 398,232

*These payments do not include Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

The chart illustrates that today you are able to borrow double the amount of money someone could 28 years ago and pay less principal and interest! Real Estate is not a get rich quick investment but over the years it has always been a solid investment!

So, the question is – what do you want to do with your MONEY?

Article Contributors:

Brian Tarbet Cendera Funding

Brian Tarbet
Cendera Funding
817-219-5555 cell

Jill Clifton Cendera FundingJill Clifton, Regional Manager
214-232-0979 cell

Contact Jill or Brian to see if you qualify for a low-interest loan and to get started with your smart real estate investment.

NMLS # 237394

CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company

800-451-8055 or email

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Real Estate 411 - Stay COOL in your next Real Estate Transaction with these practical tips!

Things can HEAT up in the midst of a Real Estate transaction. Being prepared and having the right REALTOR can help keep you stay cool !

Be prepared for your next real estate transaction

Finding the right home, getting to the closing table successfully, and settling into your new environment is the result of good preparation and research.

Things may get stressful during the home buying/selling process but two important keys for avoiding the "hot buttons" are knowledge and experience. Your preparation and research combined with the expertise and training/experience of your real estate professional can be the essential ingredients to your success!

One of the keys to making the process easier and more understandable is planning and preparation. Being prepared, you will be able to anticipate requests from lenders, lawyers, and a host of other professionals. Your preparation will be your backup in the heat of the moment when things get stressful and the pressure is on. Furthermore, planning will help you discover valuable shortcuts for the process! Here are a few of our suggested tips to help you in your research and planning for your next real estate transaction.


Location is a huge factor to consider when buying a home as it affects:
● Purchase Price ● Drive-time/Commute
● Resale Price ● Entertainment/Shopping
● School System
You are buying more than a home – you are buying a lifestyle! Start thinking about your likes and dislikes. Do your own research and “due diligence” regarding the neighborhood, schools, places of worship, city leadership and the general “feel” of the community. Buying a new home is not just an economic investment, it is an investment in your life and the life of your family. Nobody really knows what return you expect from that investment except you.

Take stock of yourself and what you are looking for in a home – and write it down. Do you need to be close to work or school? Do you like taking care of a yard or not? Do you want to be near shopping areas, or do you want to be out in the country? Do you have (or want) pets? Do you work on cars? Do you need to be near medical facilities? Thinking about your lifestyle will help you focus on the home that is right for you. Know the difference between needs and wants, your ultimate “dream home” may not be the home you can buy today.

COOL TIP #2: Know how much you can afford?

Consult with a mortgage professional and be knowledgeable about your income, your credit score, and what you owe. Armed with this information, you can make an informed decision about how much house payment you can handle and how much money you will need up front to purchase a home.

Buy what you can afford or even a little less than what you can afford. You might qualify for a higher payment only to find out later that you have to change your lifestyle in order to handle that payment. It is a good idea to get approved for your loan in advance. Obtain a letter from the lender that says “John and Mary Jones are approved for a loan of X-thousand dollars at Y-percent for Z-years SUBJECT ONLY TO THE APPRAISAL OF THE PROPERTY.” This way, you will not be tempted to buy more house than you can afford, or waste your time (and disappoint yourself) if you don’t qualify for that dream home.

Know how much you can afford and stay within your budget - this will help you avoid the HEAT of financial stress and possible disaster!

One last tip on this subject to keep in mind: Do not spend any money once you are under contract on anything other than normal household expenses and bills. That means don't make a large purchase on a credit card, or take out any loans for large items, don't buy boats or cars, or new furniture for the house. Until the closing process has been completed, DON'T SPEND ANY MONEY!

COOL TIP #3: Choose a real estate agent that is knowledgeable about the real estate market and the area you are interested in

Get a good real estate agent...and this is not just me singing the company tune! A buyer needs to know what the contract means! Is my earnest money at risk? Is my option money refundable? Did the Seller really agree to make all the repairs at no cost to me? When can I really move in? These are just a few potential “bumps” that can turn in to heated, stressful issues! You can avoid the heat and stay COOL by hiring a real estate professional to represent you and ONLY you. This advice applies equally to the purchase of a new home, too. New home contracts tend to favor the builder, not the buyer.

When selecting the real estate agent you want to work with, start online. When you are looking at homes that interest you, check out the listing agent, look at their website and read their profiles or blog.

  • Choose a real estate agent that you can communicate with and one that freely communicates with you.
  • Does the agent have knowledge of the neighborhoods and different types of homes in the area you are interested in?
  • Is the agent knowledgeable about the mortgage process? This is one area that can cause the most issues. Your Realtor needs to be able to effectively understand and communicate with you and the lender on all things financial. The agent should be able to help you choose a reputable mortgage loan officer. You will be sharing a great deal of important information with this individual (the loan officer AND the agent too), you need to be confident that they are professional and reputable.

When you hire a Realtor - sign a buyer representation agreement; demand a consultation where the entire process is clearly explained PRIOR to getting into the car. This will eliminate confusion and anxiety and help you stay COOL throughout the transaction - giving you a sense of trust and calm! An educated buyer is a more powerful buyer. Listen to the advice of the Real Estate Professional you choose. Their duty is to you and if you have chosen well they will guide you through the process and help you avoid the heat that comes from potential pitfalls in the home buying process. And keep in mind they may not tell you what you want to hear but they will tell you what you need to hear!

Real Estate 411 - Our Diversity is YOUR Advantage

A diversified group of people working for you

Our Diversity is YOUR Advantage

At CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company we recognize the diverse needs of our thriving Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex – from Sanger to Waxahachie, Fort Worth to Weatherford, or Frisco to Dallas, our vision is to serve your real estate needs – regardless of where you are from, or where you are going! We operate from this culture statement: “CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company is a diversified group of people who work together as a family and operate like a business.” That diversity is your advantage when it comes to buying and selling real estate in North Texas!

The CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Real Estate Professional is trained in all real estate property types, speaks multiple languages, and hails from cultures all over the world. So whether you speak English or Spanish, or you’re buying or selling a home in the suburbs, a condo in Dallas, or a ranch in Fort Worth, our experience and diversity will be your advantage in getting what you want.

Our position in the real estate industry is unprecedented. With the global recognition of the Century 21 International brand, your property listing will have instant recognition in the market. Not to mention that we can tap into a global network of over 120,000 agents, who like the CENTURY 21 Judge Fite real estate professional, are SMARTER. BOLDER. FASTER. – for you!

The diverse tools we make available to our real estate professionals are the key to YOUR success when it comes to buying and selling real estate. At their fingertips are online marketing tools that will provide more exposure, more possibilities, for your real estate needs. From social media to video marketing, to enhanced listings on the top performing real estate search engines AND a web presence on hundreds of strategic websites, we cannot be overlooked online! We are there to give you the best exposure when selling your property, and the best user experience when searching for a home!

So what about money? We offer diversity there as well. If you are looking for a luxury estate or you are a single college student needing an affordable, modest dwelling, our experience in all property types will find you the best property and the best way to finance it. Through our mortgage partner, Cendera Funding, we offer an in-house solution that puts the diverse experience of seasoned mortgage professionals at your disposal. They will be available to assist you in your financing needs from start to finish.

In addition to Cendera Funding, we have a full suite of core service companies designed to provide a diverse range of homeowner services to our clients: property management, home and auto insurance, moving services, utility hookups, global relocation services, commercial real estate services, PLUS an additional 150 local vendors ready to go to work for you – from carpet cleaning to roof repair!

In our real estate market today, it is good to know that you are in the hands of someone who cares about YOU. We care about you. Our diversity is your advantage – whether you are leasing a home, or buying the home of your dreams. We are ready to make your transaction the best ever through our in-house programs and cultural diversity that brings understanding and savvy to you regardless of what language you speak or where you are from. At CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company, we consider you family!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Our lives are a series of changes, many that we initiate and many that are out of our control. We reinvent ourselves, our children grow up and leave home, we get divorced or struggle through personal loss of a loved one. Whatever it may be, we find ourselves with choices. One of those choices is where to live and HOW to live.

Possibilities for Empty Nesters

For many people, being an "EMPTY NESTER" offers seemingly unlimited possibilities. Some of the most popular choices include:

  • Move to the mountains, lake or ocean to enjoy resort-style living: This is a great option for the over 65 crowd, or for those who are ready and willing to pull up your roots and relocate to a more desireable area to live and play!
  • Pay off your mortgage and stay put: You may be perfectly happy as an empty nester and ready to settle into the peace and quiet of your home. Consider planting that garden you have always wanted or build a workshop for your hobby. Who knows there may be a new business in the making!
  • Downsizing: Selling a large house and opting to move into a smaller house, apartment, condo or retirement housing is often a good decision, especially if the mortgage on your existing house is paid off.
  • Going into business: If you have a large house (or the money to invest in one) and a flair for hospitality, you may wish to consider running a bed-and-breakfast out of your home. This can be a great source of income, particularly if you live in a touristy or urban area, or near a college - these areas have lots of travelers arriving at various times during the year.
  • Hosting an exchange student: Providing a temporary home for a foreign-exchange student can be a rewarding experience. Empty nesters who miss having children and teenagers around often enjoy having a young person in the house again, and they get the opportunity to learn about other cultures from the students they host.

The Emotional Factor

Transitioning from an active household to an empty nester can be an emotionally troubling time. Some people lose their sense of purpose when their children leave home or when they find themselves alone from divorce or death. Others are reluctant to sell the house in which they watched their children grow up and where so many memories have been made. But staying in a house that's too big for your needs can create an unnecessary tax burden. It's always better, from a strict financial standpoint, to downsize or use your larger home to generate income. But take the time to make sure it's the best decision for you emotionally.

Real Estate Diversity offers Options

Whether you are living in Dallas Fort Worth, Austin, Portland, San Diego or Boston, the diversity in real estate offers generous opportunities for the empty nester. Finding the type of home that fits your needs is key. Here's our list of options that match the statement for your lifestyle choice. What would you choose?

Luxury, downtown or historic lofts - I like open space and want to be around people and the buzz of activity. I am an artist and want lots of open space and light.

Luxury high-rise - I want something with a fabulous view of the city and concierge services.

Townhomes and condominiums - I like living around a lot of people but I'm done with yard work!

Mixed-use Development living - I want to be close to shopping and food, no more commuting for me!

Suburban homes - The kids and grandkids are around the corner and I want to stay active in the grandkids school activities.

Luxury homes - I have worked hard to get to my position and with the money I have saved and earned from my investments, I intend to live in style!

Farm and Ranch - I hate traffic and the city, I want land and space to breathe and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Mobile and modular homes - I am on a limited income now and just need to get into something that will be easy on my pocketbook.

Lake homes - I'm ready to retire and fish and play!

Duplexes - It would be nice to have rental income to help on my house payment.

Garden/zero lot homes - I want a real house but since the kids are gone, I don't need a big yard, besides, I hate to do yard work!

Vacation homes - I need a small place I can escape to but don't want to give up my home and all it's memories.

Gated communities - I want a place to feel safe and secure.

Remember, when you decide to make a move, don't do it alone. Contact a real estate professional that will be there for you every step of the way!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Planning a move?

Here are some useful tips to reduce the stress of a move!

Spring and Summer in North Texas is the time when many families and individuals plan to move. The house has sold, or you’ve just purchased your first, the weather is warmer, graduation is on the horizon, and the kids are getting close to the end of this school term, it is the best time to start packing!

If you are planning to take that step and move into a new dwelling, or perhaps to a new city or community, here are some moving tips that will help you get through it as easy as possible. Keep in mind that getting organized FIRST and staying organized is the secret to a reduced-stress-move!

You may want to consider having a professional organizer handle your relocation. There are local organizers who will provide on-site energy, motivation, and fun – giving expert guidance for those tuff decisions you will have to make on what to keep and what to throw out!

If you have ever moved before, you will probably agree that it is best to let a professional moving company help you with your move including doing the packing. If you are moving long-distance, their packers are trained to do the job efficiently, guarding against breakage and loss. Plus, your household items will be insured by the company. It is a general rule that items labeled "packed by owner" (meaning anyone other than the mover) are not insured during the move.

As always, when considering a company to hire to assist with jobs such as moving or organizing, do your research. Comparing costs is one thing, but most importantly would be to make sure the company is a professional and responsible one. A business that provides moving services should only have bonded employees working for them, and an insurance policy that will cover damages to any items they transport. Checking customer and business reviews is a good way to better know who the company really is. It is not hard to check out service companies today on the Internet or Facebook – ask for recommendations from your friends on who they have successfully used.

When it comes to unpacking, it's time to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. Keep in mind that when you pay movers to unpack, they don't put anything away. So everything you own ends up on all surfaces, including the floor. Be sure to label the boxes with the content and location they belong to so the movers can place them in the appropriate place, then you go to work room by room, unpacking and placing the contents.

With so many things to consider in the process of a move, here are some helpful ideas:

1 - Create a moving notebook or folder or use our MOVING CHECKLIST. Keep all of the paperwork related to your move in one place. Make notes, keep your checklist current, and keep receipts and documents.

2 – Log on to to shop and set up your utilities and complete your change of address notification. is an online utility connect company that allows you to search for and connect to the services you need in your new area including: electricity, water, gas, cable/satellite TV, Internet/phone. It also has Home Services to help organize your move: change of address notification, appliance rental, insurance, newspaper services and more.

3 - Create a moving calendar to schedule and track all aspects and tasks required for a successful move, such as changing utilities, change of address notification, make hotel reservations, defrost the refrigerator, order storage container, pet lodging, etc.

4 - Do your research about resources such as housekeepers who clean empty homes, carpet cleaners, reputable van lines and technology specialists. Visit to shop the home service vendors available in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

5 - It's time for the “great-give-away”. Why move things you no longer need or use? Find another home for them: favorite charities, recycling centers, family members, and garage or estate sales. People want what you don't need.

6 - Don't forget that all-important survival box packed with your bed linens, coffee pot and other must-have items. This box should be last-on and first-off the moving van.

7 - Cash for tipping the packers, loaders, and driver for superior service. You want them to take good care of your belongings.

Congratulations! You and your stuff made it to your new digs. Now, save your back by using furniture moving pads to slide heavy furniture around - it's a cinch and doesn't scratch the flooring.

Click here for Moving Checklist
Professional Organizer:
Local Home Service Companies:
Utility Services:
Real Estate Services:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Some of the Most Overlooked Tax Deductions

Here are 13 lucky breaks that could be yours.

Every year, the IRS reports the most common blunders that taxpayers make on their returns. Every year, at or near the top of the “oops” list is forgetting to enter their Social Security number correctly on the tax form, or forgetting it entirely!

No doubt about it: The opportunity to make mistakes is almost unlimited, and missed deductions can be the most costly. Tax time is a dangerous time and it can be easy to miss a trick and pay too much. In the IRS and professional tax auditing circles, it is a known fact that millions of taxpayers overpay their taxes every year by overlooking just one of the money-savers listed below:

1. State sales taxes. Although all taxpayers have a shot at this write-off, which has recently been extended through 2011, it makes sense primarily for those who live in states that do not impose an income tax. You must choose between deducting state and local income taxes or state and local sales taxes. For most citizens of income-tax states, the income tax is a bigger burden than the sales tax, so the income-tax deduction is a better deal.

The IRS has tables that show how much residents of various states can deduct. But the tables aren’t the last word. If you purchased a vehicle, boat or airplane, you get to add the state sales tax you paid to the amount shown in the IRS tables for your state, to the extent that the sales-tax rate you paid doesn’t exceed the state’s general sales-tax rate.

The same goes for any home building materials you purchased. These add-on items are easy to overlook, but they could make the sales-tax deduction a better deal even if you live in a state with an income tax. The IRS even has a calculator on its Web site to help you figure the deduction, which varies depending on the state where you live and your income level.

2. Reinvested dividends. This isn't really a tax deduction, but it is an important subtraction that can save you a bundle. And this is the break that a lot of taxpayers miss.

If, like most investors, your mutual fund dividends are automatically used to buy extra shares, remember that each reinvestment increases your tax basis in the fund. That, in turn, reduces the taxable capital gain (or increases the tax-saving loss) when you redeem shares. Forgetting to include the reinvested dividends in your basis results in double taxation of the dividends -- once when you receive them and later when they’re included in the proceeds of the sale. Don’t make that costly mistake. If you’re not sure what your basis is, ask the fund for help.

3. Out-of-pocket charitable contributions. It’s hard to overlook the big charitable gifts you made during the year, by check or payroll deduction (check your December pay stub). But the little things add up, too, and you can write off out-of-pocket costs incurred while doing good works. For example, ingredients for casseroles you prepare for a nonprofit organization’s soup kitchen and stamps you buy for your school’s fund raising mailing count as a charitable
contribution. Keep your receipts and if your contribution totals more than $250, you’ll need an acknowledgment from the charity documenting the services you provided. If you drove your car for charity in 2010, remember to deduct 14 cents per mile.

4. Student-loan interest paid by Mom and Dad. Generally, you can only deduct mortgage or student-loan interest if you are legally required to repay the debt. But if parents pay back a child’s student loans, the IRS treats the money as if it was given to the child, who then paid the debt. So, a child who’s not claimed as a dependent can qualify to deduct up to $2,500 of student-loan interest paid by Mom and Dad. And he or she doesn’t have to itemize to use this money-saver. Mom and Dad also don’t get the interest deduction since they were not liable on the debt.

5. Job-hunting costs. If you’re among the millions of unemployed Americans who were looking for a job in 2010, keep track of your job-search expenses. If you’re looking for a position in the same line of work, you can deduct job-hunting costs as miscellaneous expenses if you itemize, but only to the extent that the total of your total miscellaneous itemized deductions exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income. Job-hunting expenses incurred while looking for your first job don’t qualify. Deductible job-search costs include, but aren’t limited to --
• Food, lodging and transportation if your search takes you away from home overnight
• Cab fares
• Employment agency fees
• Costs of printing resumes, business cards, postage, and advertising

6. Moving expenses to take your first job. As we just mentioned, job-hunting expenses incurred while looking for your first job are not deductible. But, moving expenses to get to that position are. And you get this write-off even if you don't itemize.

To qualify for the deduction, your first job must be at least 50 miles away from your old home. If you qualify, you can deduct the cost of getting yourself and your household goods to the new area, including 16 ½ cents per mile for driving your own vehicle for a 2010 move, plus parking fees and tolls.

7. Health insurance deduction to reduce self-employment tax. Business owners have always been allowed to deduct health insurance premiums for themselves and their family in computing adjusted gross income on the front page of Form 1040. For 2010, they can also deduct the cost of those health insurance premiums in calculating self-employment tax on Schedule SE.

The IRS has hidden this write-off on line 3 of Schedule SE. On that line, you are told to add your self-employment income from lines 1 and 2, subtract the amount claimed on line 29 of Form 1040 (your health insurance premiums) and enter the net amount on line 3. Since the write-off is not on a separate line and is not clearly identified, it will be far too easy for many self-employed persons to miss unless you are fully aware of this tax break and are looking for it.

8. Child-care credit. A credit is so much better than a deduction; it reduces your tax bill dollar for dollar. So missing one is even more painful than missing a deduction that simply reduces the amount of income that’s subject to tax.

If you pay your child-care bills through a reimbursement account at work, it's easy to overlook the child-care credit. Although only $5,000 in expenses can be paid through a tax-favored reimbursement account, up to $6,000 (for the care of two or more children) can qualify for the credit. So, if you run the maximum through a plan at work but spend even more for work-related child care, you can claim the credit on as much as $1,000 of additional expenses. That would cut your tax bill by at least $200.

9. State tax paid last spring. Did you owe tax when you filed your 2009 state income tax return in the spring of 2010? Then, for goodness’ sake, remember to include that amount in your state-tax deduction on your 2010 return, along with state income taxes withheld from your paychecks or paid via quarterly estimated payments.

10. Refinancing points. When you buy a house, you get to deduct in one fell swoop the points paid to get your mortgage. When you refinance a mortgage, though, you have to deduct the points over the life of the loan. That means you can deduct but don’t throw it away.

Even more important, in the year you pay off the loan -- because you sell the house or refinance again -- you get to deduct in one fell swoop all of the as-yet-undeducted points. There’s one exception to this sweet rule: If you refinance a refinanced loan with the same lender, you add the points paid on the latest deal to the leftovers from the previous refinancing -- and deduct that amount gradually over the life of the new loan.

11. American Opportunity Credit. This tax credit, which has been extended through 2012, is available for up to $2,500 of college tuition and related expenses paid during the year. The full credit is available to individuals whose modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less ($160,000 or less for married couples filing a joint return). The credit is phased out for taxpayers
with incomes above those levels. This credit is juicier than the old Hope credit – it has higher income limits and bigger tax breaks, and it covers all four years of college. And if the credit exceeds your tax liability (regular and AMT), it is partially refundable.

12. Making Work Pay credit. You’ve probably been enjoying the fruits of this credit via reduced payroll tax withholding throughout the year. But to lock in your savings–by reducing your tax bill by $400 if you’re single or $800 if you’re married and file a joint return–you’ll need to actually claim the credit on your 2010 tax return—and you’ll use Schedule M to do so. The credit is equal to 6.2% of your earned income, capped at $400 or $800. For single filers, it starts phasing out at $75,000 of adjusted gross income and dries up at $95,000. The phase-out zone for couples is $150,000 to $190,000.

13. Credit for energy-saving home improvements. You can claim a tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of energy-saving home improvements up to a maximum of $1,500. This cap applies to both 2009 and 2010 combined, so if you claimed the maximum $1,500 in 2009, you don’t get another crack at it for 2010. The credit applies to biomass fuel stoves, qualifying skylights, windows and outside doors, and high-efficiency furnaces, water heaters and central air conditioners. For 2011, this credit goes back to pre-2009 limits (for example, $500 maximum credit for all years with no more than $200 for windows).

There’s also no dollar limit on the separate credit for homeowners who install qualified residential alternative energy equipment, such as solar hot water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and wind turbines. Your credit can be 30% of the total cost (including labor) of such systems installed through 2016.

Be informed and ready this year when you file your taxes and do check with a tax professional on your status before you get started. For more information on current tax credits and allowable deductions visit

When you are in the market for a new home, contact - 800-451-8055 to get assistance from one of our qualified Real Estate Professionals. CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company is Smarter. BOLDER. Faster.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What is a QR Code?

Wonder what all the fuss is about this strange little code? Here is a basic explanation of the QR Code and how to use it in your business.

Would you like information on how to have a prosperous career in real estate? Email your questions or to set up an interview to Or call 800-451-8055.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How will you spend your tax refund?

The average tax refund has risen to almost $3,000 - what will you do with yours?

Join us in the discussion on Facebook!

The IRS reports that the average tax refund has risen to around $3000, pumping $328 Billion dollars into American pockets--that’s no small chunk of change. Not surprisingly, consumers are already planning how to spend that extra money!

Just for fun, we have come up with our top 10 list of ways to spend your tax refund - we believe these suggestions are financially responsible AND will put a little KICK back into your lives this year!

1. Use as a downpayment on a new home
2. Pay off your credit cards and restore your credit
3. Plan a Spring/Summer vacation
4. Open or boost a retirement savings account
5. Use the cash to start an emergency fund
6. Start a college savings plan for your kids
7. Improve your home's energy efficiency
8. Find a charity and give to others
9. Spruce up your outdoor living areas
10. Hardwire your living/media room

If you are expecting a sizable return this year, how do you plan to spend it? We would love to hear from you! Please join us in the discussion on Facebook.

Read the entire Real Estate 411 this month on TAXES!!! How to save money on your deductions and how to spend your refund! CLICK HERE

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why Choose CENTURY 21 Judge Fite for your Real Estate Career?

Click Here to see what are agents and staff are saying
  • State of the art web marketing to get your home maximum visibility
  • We are a full-service brokerage, equipped with the tools you need to succeed
  • Professionally trained agents and staff
  • Reliable and timely support
  • Over 70 years experience in real estate
  • Part of Century 21® Real Estate, LLC, the most recognized real estate brand in the world
  • A dynamic network of over 600 agents and 20 offices throughout Dallas/Fort Worth
  • A web network of the most popular websites to get your home seen by millions
  • #1 Century 21 company in Texas
  • One of the “Best” companies to work for in Texas (Texas Monthly Magazine)
  • One of the top 25 real estate companies in the west for new home sales (BuilderNEWS Magazine)
  • Family owned and managed for over 70 years
  • Company paid enhanced listings on
  • In-house Marketing Department
  • Non-competing management
  • Customized compensation plans
  • Global relocation services
If you're looking to be part of a locally-owned real family-oriented team who wants to grow your business, be independent, and have a quality of life that achieves both business and personal success, call us, we've got what it takes to launch your real estate career into a successful future!

Monday, February 7, 2011

I have multiple properties that need to be insured, what's the best type of coverage to get?

Real Estate 411 - Protecting Your Property through Diversity in Insurance Coverage

Protection for your real estate comes in as many packages as your properties. Townhomes, farms and ranches, condos, single residential homes, duplexes - you name it, the diversity of properties in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex and North Texas farms and ranches require diversity in insurance coverage as well!

Diversity is one of the things that make us thrive as a society. However, being a diverse society means that our “needs and wants” also vary greatly from person to person, and this shapes the lifestyles that we pursue. In pursuing these lifestyles, people’s exposure to risk also differs from person to person.

The person who lives downtown in a high-rise condo needs different coverage than a person who lives on a farm. The person who lives next to a golf course needs different coverage than someone who lives on lake-front property. New homes need different coverage than older homes. And when you get in to the world of commercial insurance, exposures get ever more diverse! Think about all of the exposures of a construction company versus the exposures of a hair salon.

Because of all of these differing exposures that the public faces, many insurance companies have decided to specialize in certain niches, and have subsequently designed policies specifically created with a certain group in mind. For instance, some carriers specialize in farm and ranch insurance. Their underwriters know all about insuring livestock, crops, farm equipment, structures on the property, and other exposures that may be specific to a person living or working on a farm. Their policy is specific as to the needs of the insured and provides better coverage than a standard policy.

When selecting coverage for your real property, be very careful about the limits you insure it for. It may appear to make good economic sense, but in reality your purchase price does not reflect the replacement cost for damages or total replacement of your home, business, and/or personal property. Always make sure to have the correct limits in place to cover you in the event of a total loss.

There are two types of insurance agencies in the marketplace today.

Direct writers are agents that work directly for the insurance carrier, and they only quote and issue for that one carrier. Independent agents are those that do not work directly with one particular carrier, but instead choose to represent multiple carriers. This gives them the flexibility to be able to shop the market for the right product that meets a client’s needs. If multiple carriers are a good fit for a certain risk, then the agent can shop for the best priced policy. Also, if one carrier says they do not want a certain risk, independent agents can shop for another carrier. When it comes time for renewal, if the renewal rate increases too much, an independent agent can move the policy to another carrier that may have better rates that year.

Independent agents can offer a wider variety of products and therefore can entertain a wider diversity of clientele than a direct writer. At Judge Fite Insurance Agency, we know that our clientele is a diverse group. We are confident that we have better solutions for you that will meet your needs at the best possible price in the marketplace. Judge Fite Insurance Agency works with over 40 insurance carriers to offer a variety of products to fit everyone’s lifestyle. Now that's diversity in coverage!

To get a quote on your home, auto, or business, or if you would like to have your existing coverage reviewed, please contact Judge Fite Insurance at 214-446-2572 and ask for Linda!