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Looking for a place to retire?!?

7/3/2012

Looking for a place to retire?!?

Choose Alabama!

Below are some quick facts on retiring in Alabama -- and a link to a GREAT pdf guide that will

answer all your questions on retirement benefits in our great state!

Look into Decatur, Al area -- we were rate amongst the Top 10 places to retire by CNN MONEY!

Call me today for more information on our area...

Patti

Patti Lambert, REMAX Platinum

The Patti Lambert Team

256-227-9180

INFO PACKET ON RETIRING IN ALABAMA - CLICK HERE!

ALABAMA

Sales Taxes

State Sales Tax: 4% (prescription drugs exempt); The rate can go as high as 12.0% depending on city and county taxes.  The state administers over 200 different city and county sales taxes; however, it does not administer all county or city sales taxes.  There is a 3% tax on food sold through vending machines; 2% on sales of motor vehicles, mobile homes and motorboats; and 4% on sales of tangible personal property.s
Gasoline Tax: 20.9 cents/gallon
Diesel Fuel Tax: 21.9 cents/gallon
Cigarette Tax: 42.5 cents/pack of 20

Personal Income Taxes

Tax Rate Range: Low 2.0%; High 5.0%
Income Brackets: *Lowest $500; Highest $3,000
Number of Brackets: 3
Personal Exemptions: Single $1,500; Married $3,000; Dependents $300
Standard Deduction: Single $2,000; Married filing joint return $4,000
Medical/Dental Deduction: Limited to excess of 4% of adjusted gross income
Federal Income Tax Deduction: Full
Retirement Income Taxes: Social Security, military, civil service, state/local government and qualified private pensions are exempt.  All out-of-state government pensions are tax-exempt if they are defined benefit plans.
Retired Military Pay: Pay and survivor benefits not taxed.
Military Disability Retired Pay: Retirees who entered the military before Sept. 24, 1975, and members receiving disability retirements based on combat injuries or who could receive disability payments from the VA are covered by laws giving disability broad exemption from federal income tax. Most military retired pay based on service-related disabilities also is free from federal income tax, but there is no guarantee of total protection.
VA Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: VA benefits are not taxable because they generally are for disabilities and are not subject to federal or state taxes.
Military SBP/SSBP/RCSBP/RSFPP: Generally subject to state taxes for those states with income tax. Check with state department of revenue office.

Property Taxes

The state does not collect taxes on personal property such as boats and computers.  Its ad valorem (property tax) is 6.5 mills (http://216.226.178.107/Taxincentives/proptaxincentives.html).  Each city and county may levy has its own millage rate.  For information on all ad valorem tax exemptions, click here. Homeowners 65 and older are exempt from all state property taxes.  Some cities also assess separate property taxes.  A homestead exemption up to $5,000 of assessed value is granted by the state on real property taxes. A larger exemption is available to persons over 65. Visit states property tax division web site.  To view the states homestead summary chart, click here.

Inheritance and Estate Taxes

There is no inheritance tax and the estate tax is limited to federal estate tax collectio

Importance of Credit

6/27/2012

It makes sense to find out about your credit and correct any errors

Please take a minute and read over this great article with advise on tracking your credit, why it is important to obtain a credit report, and how credit affects the house buying process.

If you are ready to proceed with buying a home I highly recommend getting pre-approved by a mortgage lender! If you need a recommendation on a couple of local lenders please let me know.

Patti

Patti Lambert
The Patti Lambert Team
256-227-9180

Thinking about buying a house? Then think about your credit history...the folks who lend money do!
How well you have handled your credit obligations in the past is of utmost importance to lenders today. The good news is that this information, for the most part, is available to you.
Your credit history is maintained by three different private companies called credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Their websites and phone numbers are listed at the end of this article. You can order your report by phone and charge it to your major credit card if you like. It usually takes about a week to arrive. You can even order your report online directly from each of the three agencies, but they have to verify your identity before you can obtain any private information.
By the way, avoid services that offer to obtain all your reports for you in exchange for a fee. You want the information directly from the reporting agency, blemishes and all.
It's a good idea to get a copy of all three reports, because if an error exists on even one of the reports, it may negatively affect your chances of getting the loan you want. Your credit report lists all the consumer credit that has been extended to you over the past seven years. It will show what your highest balance has been and what your current balance was on the date last reported by the creditor. It will also show how many payments you made on time and how many late payments were late. Late payments are grouped into categories showing how late you were. For example, if your credit card payment was over 30 days late one time, it might not be considered too serious. But if payments were over 60 days late four times, over 120 days late two times and over 180 days late one time, you have had a serious problem. That problem is going to impact your ability to borrow money.
It just makes sense to find out about your credit and correct any errors now. Regardless of how many credit problems you have had in the past, there are two good points to remember.
First, negative credit information can be reported in your credit file for only seven years. After that, it drops out and cannot even be considered. The one exception is bankruptcy, which can be reported for 10 years. But after that you start with essentially a clean slate.
Second, lenders are much more concerned about how you have handled your credit recently than with what happened several years ago. Even if you have had a bankruptcy, if you have kept your nose clean and paid your bills on time since then, it is possible you could qualify for a loan after as little as two or three years.
One of the best developments in the world of lending has been risk-based pricing. That's a five dollar term for the ability of lenders to offer higher priced loans to borrowers based on their demonstrated ability to repay. In other words, even if you have slightly fractured credit, you can still likely get a loan. It just may cost you a little more.
Equifax (www.equifax.com) can be reached at 800-997-2493. TransUnion (www.transunion.com) can be reached at 800-888-4213. Experian (www.experian.com) can be reached at 888-397-3742.
http://www.realtor.com/home-finance/buyers-basics/understand-your-importance-of-credit.aspx?source=web

Moving? Organize for a Stress Free...or Reduced Street Move!

6/25/2012

TIPS ON AN EASIER MOVE FROM ORGANIZEDHOME.com.

Some good tips on reducing the pain of moving. We are a full service real estate team-- call us today if we can help you with a smooth move into your next home!

The Patti Lambert Team
Patti Lambert
256-227-9180

No doubt about it, moving can present the organizational challenge of a lifetime.

Every habit, every routine, every tiny piece of the mosaic of your life is tossed at random into a huge, cluttered van, to be shaken out and reassembled at the other end.

It's a daunting task--but you can get organized and cut stress when the moving van arrives.

Moving on? Try these road-tested tips for an organized move:
Establish Move Central, and Make It Portable

Moving has more tentacles than an octopus. Between wooing The Amazing Disappearing Handyman at the old house and penetrating the layers of voice mail protecting The High-Tech Realtor at the new, you're making more calls than an old-time switchboard operator. It's easy to lose your mind along with your train of thought --- not to mention all those little business cards that will come your way.

Enter Move Central: a notebook dedicated to the move.

Even if you never use a planner at home or on the job, a business planner or moving notebook is more important to a move than boxes and tape. Find one at the local office supply store. Get one with big pages, one for each day, and throw in some business card holders, zipper pouches and receipt envelopes.

How will you use it? Let me count the ways. During the crazy pre-move house-hunting days, you'll track phone calls, make notes on houses you've toured, and gather phone numbers for the gazillion new close friends you'll make --- all those realtors and rental agents and mortgage people and moving-van guys and handymen you'll come to know and loathe quite intimately in the coming weeks. Tuck all business cards into their own little slots for easy reference. Make notes of the seventeen consecutive days you've spent trying to track down the Tile Man (after he's gotten your money but before you've seen Tile One go up on the kitchen wall).

Cram snippets of flooring and wallpaper, paint swatches and drapery goods into a see-through zipper pouch for at-the-store decorating reference.

Dedicate one receipt envelope for those fix-up-the-old-place receipts. Another receipt envelope holds receipts generated by house-hunting trips and travel to your new home. Stuff everything in there, and you'll thank yourself at tax time!

After the move, you'll use Move Central to schedule appointments to turn on your lights, water, cable and other essentials of life. If a neighborhood mom mentions a good pediatrician, note the name and you're ahead of the game! Tuck a local map into a flap or pocket, and you'll always be able to get yourself where you're going --- even if you don't always get there very directly.

Treat Move Central as just another body part --- it should be with you always. Handles and outside pockets let it replace your purse. Yes, you'll develop a permanent list to one side from the weight, but like that caused by a hip-hugging toddler, it's temporary. Having all your information in one place right at hand is key to a smooth and sane move.
"There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Labels"

"Real" organizational experts, those paragons with the alphabetized spices, often espouse complicated moving "systems" involving inventories, color-coded marker pens, and lots of lists. My hand aches just to think about it!

Here in at Organized Home, we practice guerilla home management: translation, "reality". We all know what happens to all those good, color-coded intentions: 243 boxes marked "misc." in illegible hand with a nearly-dry marker pen. Then in the new house, you get to play "hunt the bed sheets" and a good time will not be had by anyone.

For computer users, there's a simple solution. One that will ensure that all your boxes make it to the room where they belong with minimal effort. One that eliminates writer's cramp and all those "where's the marker?" fights with other family members.

Labels. Computer-generated labels. Hundreds of them. Repeat after me: "There is no such thing as too many labels."

You will go to the office supply store. You will purchase a large box of the cheapest computer labels available for your computer printer. If you have an old tractor-feed printer in the kids' room somewhere, it's perfect for this task.

Open any word processor. Do what you have to do to tell it to make labels --- they're pretty easy to instruct these days. Then make several hundred --- yes, I said, several hundred --- labels for your boxes, a hundred or so for each room or area in your house:

Kitchen
Living room
Family room
Master bedroom
Girl bedroom
Boy bedroom
Bathroom
Storage

Load that printer up and let it chug out your labels while you go try and find Tile Man one more time. You'll end up with stacks and stacks of labels. Next step: get 'em on the boxes.

This one's easy. Give each packer, whether you pay somebody else or assign the chore to your not-at-all-cheerful family, a stack of labels for whatever room s/he is packing. As each box is packed, just slap a label in the upper-left-hand corner of every side of the box.

More info @ Source: http://organizedhome.com/get-organized/moving-on-tips-organized-move

Summer Selling Tips

6/21/2012

SUMMER IS HERE!

Having your home show ready is great - but take it one step above the competition and let display your home showing off how great it is for enjoying the summer months!

Show How to Live Outdoors!
Even if the living space outdoors is limited, summer is the time to show it off! Clean up any extra brush, build a privacy fence and buy some Rubbermaid deck seats (at most Big Lots for $30-40) to hide everything you need outside. The benches can hold water hoses, tools, just about anything to leave a neat, uncluttered look as well as adding sitting space. These, along with some plants, do a great job in defining your outdoor living space. Rent some nice patio furniture if needed. Add some lighting, perhaps even borrowing a firepit. Consider decorative concrete paint to stain a concrete deck much like you would a wood deck. Visitors to your home should leave thinking of the outside as another room.

Curb Appeal, Curb Appeal, Curb Appeal
This is always important, but it is most important in the summer. And buyers don't care if it's dry or wet. Most assume that the curb looks the best it possibly can when it's own the market. Get started now. Take a layout of your yard to Home Depot or Lowe's or your hometown garden shop and ask for low-maintenance, high-show plants and flowers. Ask your neighbors, cousins and everyone else to come over and plant them. (If your grass is horrible, price some sod. Sod is nice, green and fairly easy to lay. The presence of grass can make the difference between a sale and a no sale.)

Let the Sun Shine in!
Look for ways you can bring the summer inside, from simple things new keeping the blinds half-open to putting up some lighter windows. Be careful with open windows. If you live in the Southeast, an open house is probably going to let in too much pollen and that won't sit well with prospective buyers. Keep the windows clean. Bring in some fresh flowers.

Call our team for ALL your real estate needs!

The Patti Lambert Team

Patti Lambert

256-227-9180

Closet Tips

6/20/2012

This one would be great for any closet, but especially a child's closet! Organize those toys in cubbies and drawers to hideaway that clutter! Also, think of purses, hats, and accessories that this would be great for in your master/guest closets!


Create Closet Cubbies

Organize your own closet -- or a child's -- with a combination of double hanging rods, drawers, and shelves. Drawers corral small items such as socks while cubbies hold folded items. Upper shelves can store out-of-season shoes and clothing in clear bins with lids.

Low Cost of Living - Decatur, Alabama

6/18/2012
Another great benefit of our area is our low cost of living! Here below is a table displaying average between Decatur area and other metropolitan areas.

Decatur is a great community, and cost effective!

Call me today for more information on our area, I would love to share what this community has meant to me as a 'relocatee'.

Patti
Patti Lambert
256-227-9180



LOW COST OF LIVING
 Metropolitan
Area (MSA)
 Composite
Index
 Grocery
Items
 Housing UtilitiesTrans-
portation 
Health-
Care 
Misc
Goods &
Services 
Decatur,
AL

89.2

 96.4

74.0

83.2

102.1

89.5

97.8

Huntsville,
AL
 92.894.481.383.498.594.0103.4
Asheville,
NC
 99.7 101.0 102.0 96.3 96.0 102.3 98.3
Atlanta,
GA
 96.8 98.8 92.5 87.9 103.4 102.0 99.9
Greenville, SC91.5 102.1 74.5 88.5 96.9 102.2 100.8
Chattanooga,
TN
 89.9 96.6 81.5 85.6 97.8 94.5 93.2
Myrtle Beach, SC 92.9 103.6 80.4 85.7 97.5 102.3 99.6
Rome, GA 92.397.7 73.7 89.2 102.4106.6 102.9
Washington, DC 137.4 107.0 219.4 95.2 107.1 105.7 103.5
Source:  Second Quarter 2008 ACCRA Cost of Living Index (National Average = 100)

Closet Tips

6/15/2012

Include a Mirror

If your closet is also your dressing area, make it more functional by hanging a large mirror on the wall behind a dresser. Or consider hanging a floor-length mirror on a door.

Call the Patti Lambert TEAM for ALL your Real Estate Needs!

Organization Tip of the Week

6/13/2012

Whether your shelve your shoes or they clutter the floor of your closet they can be an eye sore, so dress them up! Cute shoes box solution...easy to locate with a picture of the shoe on the box!

Shoe Solution

If shoes flood your closet floor, develop a smart strategy for storing them. Keep the shoes you wear all the time accessible on shelves if you have room. Then store seasonal and special-occasion shoes in easy-to-see clear plastic boxes on the top shelf of your closet. Or simply reuse the original box and attach a picture of the shoes to the front of the box.

Call The Patti Lambert TEAM for ALL your Real Estate Needs!
Patti Lambert
REALTOR, Associate Broker
RE/MAX Platinum
256-227-9180
patti@pattilambert.com

Travel Tips

6/11/2012

Here is a great article on travel tips -- specifically for families, but we can all use some of these tips too!

Summer is a great time to shop for homes and get moved as well - if you have been thinking its time for a new home call me!

Patti
256-227-9180

Summer's here and school's out: it's time to take to the road! Family vacation travel can be enriching, enjoyable and exciting--but only if you're organized. The family that fails to plan for summer travel can end up frazzled, frustrated and longing for the quiet comfort of home.

This year, get ready! Whether it's car trips, plane travel or close-to-home "stay-cation" trips, we've assembled OrganizedHome.Com's best, easiest tips to organize summer vacation travel:
What To Know Before You Go

A smooth, stress-free vacation begins well before the trip. Use these ideas to streamline vacation travel planning and preparation:

Establish Travel Central. Whether it's a new divider in a Household Notebook notebook, a dedicated section in a paper planner, or a Vacation category in your handheld organizer, keep all travel information in a single location. Include contact information for airlines, car rental agencies and travel agents, passport and frequent flyer numbers, and itineraries.

The three most important factors for vacation planning? Lists, lists and more lists! Filed in Travel Central, vacation lists can include personal packing lists for each family member, a "before we leave" checklist, instructions for house-sitters, packing checklist, picnic planner checklist or camping checklist.

Enter the packing zone. As you plan and prepare, set aside an area to gather travel essentials. In addition to tickets, passports, and travel documents, add travel-sized toiletries, tissues, travel appliances and personal care items. Moving from "list" to "packed" is easier if all your gear can be viewed in one place.
Pack It Light, Pack It Right

Packing prowess separates veteran travelers from the armchair variety. Keep these ideas in mind as you pack for vacation travel:

Lighten the load. It's an old saw that still cuts--when traveling, less is more. For each family member, lay out all clothing and personal care items needed for the trip. Remove half before you pack the rest.

Investigate packing organizers. Pack clothing, socks, underwear and personal items in zipper food storage bags to cut wrinkles, protect clothing, and organize suitcases. Commercial organizers can be worth the cost for frequent travelers. Check them out!

Pack for children day-by-day. For easiest travel with kids, use large zipper food storage bags to pack a complete outfit for a single day. Tuck dirty clothing into the same bags at day's end.

Forget what mother told you, and pack your oldest underthings! Collect worn-out socks and underwear throughout the year. When traveling, wear and toss. You'll lighten the load and make room for souvenirs as you go.

Plan for T-shirts. Family vacations mean t-shirts, t-shirts, t-shirts. Deliberately under-pack, knowing you'll add these garments along the way.

Take care of yourself! Put together personal care kits for each family member in a zipper bag or cosmetics organizer. Include sample-sized bottles of shampoo, shower gel, lotion and sun block. Use motel supplies along the way to replenish care kits. At vacation's end, re-stock care kits and store inside suitcases for the next trip.
On The Road

Getting organized for family travel doesn't end when you walk out the front door! Try these strategies to keep the miles rolling ... smoothly.

Pack the snacks! Airlines have cut back on meal and snack service, while roadside treats during car travel can be expensive and nutritionally unsound. Carry a small collapsing insulated bag and include a selection of healthy snacks to stave off the Cookie Monster.

Keep the customers satisfied. A visit to the Dollar Store can go a long way to amuse children while traveling. For maximum impact, package small toys, books, and games separately and dole them out one at a time.

Scale back on souvenirs. Don't let vacation travel saddle your household with more clutter! Instead, consider these clutter-free options: collecting small ornaments for a holiday "travel tree", purchasing postcards, assembling a scrapbook or keeping a personal travel journal to remind you of your trip.

Cut "buy me, buy me!" clamor with a Souvenir Budget. Use an envelope for each child, and deposit a small amount of cash earmarked for souvenirs at the beginning of the trip. Each child may spend the money in the envelope any way he or she chooses. Make it clear that there will be no more money forthcoming! When they control the cash, children become savvy souvenir shoppers.

http://organizedhome.com/seasonal-spin/travel-tips-get-organized-family-travel

Two Home Redos Buyers Crave...

4/30/2012
Amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life, home has become a personal refuge. We all want to come home to a tranquil space -- not a space of clutter and chaos. Disorganization takes away from the tranquility of a space. Here are two updates/upgrades that will help your home have a more organized and tranquil attraction to buyers...

Separate laundry room
A well-organized laundry space is the gift that keeps on giving, Thee said. Sellers or recent buyers can enhance laundry room space by installing shelving and cabinetry surrounding the washer and dryer. It doesnt have to be expensive; its the perfect DIY project. Consider what can be stored in that space: laundry detergent, other household cleaners, an iron and ironing board, towels, bedding, and, of course, dirty laundry. Add bins or baskets for instant clothes sorting. A big enhancement, if theres room, is the addition of a rolling table for folding laundry or doing arts and crafts projects.

Smart storage
Thee suggested dedicated towers or cubbies for each member of the familyeven one for pets. Add names to them and place them near a widely used entrance. Theyre great for creating a convenient system for sorting jackets, backpacks, mail, keys, and leashes.
 
Call the Patti Lambert TEAM for ALL your Real Estate Needs!
Patti Lambert, Associate Broker
RE/MAX Platinum

Source: http://realtormag.realtor.org/home-and-design/feature/article/2012/03/two-home-redos-customers-crave
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