Time for the appraiser? Make your home shine

If you are selling or refinancing, the lender will have your home appraised.

It’s different from a home inspection. A home inspector is primarily preoccupied with the internal workings of a home, and looks for current problems or things that could become a problem.
An appraiser is trying to determine the value of your home, comparing it to prices of similar homes in the area, and weighing the location of the home including neighborhood and proximity to schools.

The appraiser will look at the size of the lot and the condition of the home itself.

An appraisal is key to selling a home, since a low valuation might force the seller to reduce the price. A higher valuation might come in handy, however, if you are refinancing, giving you extra equity in your home and making a loan deal easier.

Some say there is no point in doing a complete house cleaning for an appraiser, but that isn’t necessarily true. A clean, well-groomed home inside and out, can help boost the evaluation of how well a house is maintained. They look for signs of neglect such as appliances that don’t work, floors that are damaged, carpets that are torn or dirty. Even paint can be a factor.

If you are preparing for an appraisal, do make sure your home is clean and tidy inside and out: Mow the lawn, pull weeds, put away lawn equipment. Get rid of clutter.

Remember the appraiser will take photos. Tidy up the pool area, if you have one, as well as the bedrooms and baths.

If you have pets, be sure to confine them during the appraiser’s visit, if for no other reason than to be polite. But you might also consider how the cat’s litter box will look on film.

The appraiser will also find out the age of your home and evaluate its effective age. Doors, lights and windows should all work.

It’s best not to trail the appraiser around the house, but you could point out things like a recent renovation of a kitchen or bath.

Just try to make your home appear maintained, loved, and up-to-date.

How getting married affects car insurance

This blog explores how getting married affects car insurance rates and coverage. In addition to lessening the likelihood of developing dementia or heart disease, getting married can lower your car insurance premiums. Insurance companies love statistics and statistics show that married couples simply have fewer car accidents. No one knows for certain the why behind this. Theories abound. The theories include married people drive less and they’re more stable and less risky. One study conducted in New Zealand drivers who never-married had twice the car accident risk of married drivers. For this reason, getting married usually results in a discount on auto insurance – even for males younger than 25 who normally get stuck with the highest premiums. To maximize your benefits, discuss your plan with your InsureUS representative in Cypress, TX. They can help you determine which method works best for lowering your rates. You could:

  • combine auto insurance policies,
  • add your spouse as a secondary driver,
  • add your spouse’s vehicle to your policy,
  • not add your spouse at all.

That last one may seem confusing, but if your spouse has a poor driving record, for example, a DUI or speeding ticket, adding them negatively affects your policy. Also, don’t combine if one of you recently experienced a gap in insurance coverage. A divorce results in the loss of these discounts.

We’re not saying run out and get married to lower your car insurance but do come talk to us at InsureUS in Cypress, TX a few weeks before or after your wedding. Also, come chat if you don’t already have combined or multi-policy car insurance and already married.

Toughness, compassion can lead to success

Success requires a balance of being tough on yourself with a capacity for self-compassion, according to Entrepreneur Magazine.

Becoming too tough on yourself can lead to a path of self-destruction. Being too compassionate can lead to poor performance.

Becoming tough on yourself means making decisions even when they are difficult. When making hard decisions, don’t let lack of information, fear, or regret over past mistakes stop the truth from coming through clearly.

Raise your standard of excellence and demand the same from everyone else. The best people will appreciate the firm leadership.

In the long run, a business profits when people are tough because they will continue to improve over time and create a culture of high standards.

While being tough on yourself can drive strong results among a team, having compassion for yourself is equally important, according to The New York Times. Humans are naturally prone to obsess over their flaws and shortcomings. Unfortunately, dwelling on these issues can lead to depression, anxiety, negative self-image, and even lower productivity over time.

Acknowledgement of past mistakes is key to improving but remember to approach yourself as you might approach a friend with the same problem — by providing support and encouragement without apologizing for their behavior.

The basics of changing ownership in an LLC

It is typical for a small business to have some ownership transfer or sale during its lifetime, and it is crucial to know the differences between selling, transferring, or closing your business, according to the Small Business Administration.

Selling a business will require a lot of work upfront to ensure that everything is in order before the sale such as legal documents, proof of ownership, and the correct valuation. During this phase, experts recommend that the owner seek out a lawyer and a qualified business appraiser. The business appraiser will consider all physical assets owned by the company as well as things like brand value, intellectual property, and the book of business or projected future earnings. Typically, they will value the company based on future revenue (income approach), comparisons to similar business sales (market approach), or a basic subtraction of all liabilities from assets (assets approach).

When transferring ownership of an LLC, the most critical factor is who the current owners are and who the future owners will be, according to LegalZoom. Typically, a transfer of ownership that isn’t an outright sale involves adding or removing members such as when bringing on a new partner, buying out an existing one, or when there is a death. When the LLC formed, especially when there are multiple parties, there should have been an operating agreement signed by everyone that outlines how such a transfer will work through the buy-sell section. This section might include the requirement to buy out shares of a departing member or stipulate that a certain party will always be the majority owner. In some states, the entire business must be dissolved and recreated any time there is a change of ownership.

The decision to close a company could stem from the desire to retire or just to quit a business that isn’t working out. All owners must agree to the closing, and there are dissolution documents required to be filed in every state to prevent future tax filing requirements. Any licenses, permits, and other business registrations will need to be cancelled and final employee checks issued. The final tax returns for the last operating year must be filed as usual to fulfill any obligations to the IRS and records should be maintained for at least three years.

Payroll options for small business

Managing payroll for a small business can be a complicated and expensive task, but new online payroll solutions are available that can bridge the gap for many small business owners, according to Inc. Magazine.

Many business owners try to handle the paperwork and regulatory compliance on their own, and the IRS has shown that about 40 percent of them are incurring average penalties of $845 per year due to filing errors, omissions, and lapsed deadlines. The best services are those that are specifically geared towards small business, set up employee wage rates, track benefits-related hours, and withhold taxes automatically while providing online access to both employers and employees.

Most small business owners could benefit from a digital solution that will save them money compared to a traditional full-service provider while saving them time and eliminating the risk of potential legal troubles for mistakes they make on their own. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, one of the most popular and highly rated examples of these services is Intuit Payroll. Their product starts at just $20 per month with an extra $2 per employee, and it runs the entire payroll system and calculates taxes, but does not file them. Their full service, meanwhile, costs $79 but automatically files taxes and can fully import data from a pre-existing payroll provider. Other options to look for include check printing, direct deposit, and 24/7 customer support.

For owners that want to add additional benefits for their employees, a few new digital online providers have entered the market to make the process as intuitive and straightforward as possible for owners while meeting the high expectations of this generation’s tech-savvy entrepreneurs, according to Forbes Magazine. One such company, JustWorks, can pool employees from different companies together in its network to get better prices on things such as health insurance, vision, and dental insurance as well as access to 401k’s. They also track and automate paid time off, commuter allowances, workers’ compensation, and more.