About jeffkin15

Senior Loan Officer at Avenue Mortgage Father of 3 wonderful children

Start your week off right by following the tips below-

Monday mornings are the most critical time of the workweek, as they set the stage for the day and week ahead.

“Because you’ve stepped away for a couple days, these back-to-work mornings are the most memorable for the rest of the week,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.

“They influence your mindset in a positive or negative way, depending on what actions you decide to take.”

Most successful people are keenly aware of the typical Monday morning workplace dynamic of unanticipated events, overflow of communications, and general chaos. “But after weathering hundreds of them, they realize they must gain control and stay upbeat,” Taylor explains. “They take extra steps to compensate for this busy time of the week, and apply their best management skills to ensure that the day unfolds as smoothly as possible.”

Here are 15 things successful people do on Monday mornings:

They wake up early and exercise.

This gets your circulation going and helps you stay alert, putting you at an advantage for a productive week ahead. “You’ll get your endorphin rush, which will help your mood, too,” Taylor explains.

They eat a healthy breakfast.

On Monday morning, you want to handle everything you have control over. Eating breakfast is one of those things. “You don’t want to be staring at the clock, awaiting lunchtime as your stomach growls at morning meetings,” she says.

They arrive early.

Do not succumb to the snooze button. “Commutes are bad on Monday, so beat the odds,” Taylor says. Plus, getting in earlier than others will help make Monday morning seem more like the afternoon, because you’ll have had a chance to breathe before responding to the barrage of people and issues. “Being an early bird will give you some wiggle room for the unexpected at work, not to mention any important personal matters that may arise,” she says.

They clear their desk and desktop.

“Hopefully you already did this before you left on Friday,” Taylor says. “But if you didn’t, get this out of the way, or you might add to Monday stresses in a sea of disorganization.” Organize and prioritize your files. Put aside unimportant paperwork, and keep critical files easily accessible. You want to be prepared when you, your boss, or colleagues need something at the last minute.

They carve out time for unexpected projects and tasks.

Successful individuals expect the unexpected on Monday, she says. “Your boss, team members, or staff may have remembered some loose ends over the weekend,” she says, “so you’re wise to build in some extra downtime on Monday morning.”

They greet their team and boss.

This is important to do first thing every morning to keep morale high, but on Monday it’s particularly valuable, as your team needs a special boost. “Ideally, you’ll spend an few extra minutes with your colleagues on Monday mornings,” Taylor explains. “It reinforces a sense of purpose and community for everyone, including you.”

They update their to-do list and goals.

“Get yourself current on priorities and tasks,” Taylor suggests. Then set five to eight goals for the week.

“Accomplished professionals have several goals in mind for the day and week,” she says. “They know that if all goals aren’t achieved, they can take pride in accomplishing most of them, and there’s next week to achieve additional objectives.”

They visualize the week’s successes.

By envisioning the positive outcomes of various projects at hand, you can work backwards and determine the necessary steps to get your desired results.

They screen emails for urgent requests.

You can sink into email oblivion if you don’t scan your inbox for urgency, Taylor says. “Star emails that are priorities, and think quality, not quantity,” she says.

They tackle the tough challenges first.

The least desirable but critical projects are easy to put off, but your energy is stronger in the morning, so that’s the ideal time to confront the most difficult assignments.

They make an extra effort to smile.

“It might be the last thing on your mind, but overcompensating for the pressure-cooker morning will help you get through it,” she says. You may well stand out in the crowd, but your smile will likely be contagious, helping both you and team members relax.

They add a “blanket of humanity” to their emails.

It’s tempting to power through all your emails in the most efficient way on Monday mornings. But before you hit Send, read them over to ensure that they’re friendly and clear. “Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes,” Taylor says. “It’s relatively easy to appear curt when you’re in a hurry, along with the impersonal nature of emails and texts. You want to mitigate false starts and misinterpretations.” One way to do this: Start the email by saying “Hi” and “I hope you had a great weekend.”

They’re able to say no.

“On Monday mornings, there will be many distractions–from people to emails to calls, meetings, offers for meeting in the break room, and so forth,” Taylor explains. “Successful people can diplomatically and politely say no to colleagues by offering to engage at a later time.”

If your boss needs you, that is clearly an exception. However, if you have crucial calls to make or meetings to attend, give your boss the heads-up. “It’s stressful to be a people pleaser, particularly on Monday mornings,” she says. “Generally, no one ends up being pleased, as you can’t do your best work with conflicting priorities.”

They stay focused.

Successful people don’t dwell on any challenging events that occurred over the weekend or other frivolous thoughts. “Compartmentalize by putting them in a separate box as you start your week,” she says.

They remember that there is Tuesday.

“In all the chaos, it’s easy to believe that the world will cave if you don’t solve all Monday’s problems on Monday,” she says. “But when the dust settles at the end of the day, you may realize that certain tasks could have waited.” Sometimes, you obtain more information over time that enhances your decision-making process. Or you may find that certain problems you’re pondering will resolve themselves.

Monday morning can challenge even the most industrious, successful business leaders. “But if you compensate for all the anticipated distraction and intensity by remembering to focus, plan, and stay calm, you won’t relive Monday all over again on Tuesday,” Taylor concludes.

BY JACQUELYN SMITH, BUSINESS INSIDER

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-successful-people-do-monday-morning-2014-4#ixzz32BDid7zZ

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 2, 2014

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 1, 2014Last week’s economic news was fairly quiet due to the Memorial Day holiday on Monday and no scheduled news released on Wednesday.

Home Prices Post Modest Gains, But Growth Rate of Home Prices Slows

Tuesday’s release of the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index for March showed that home prices are edging up, but at a slower pace than last year. Home prices increased by 12.40 percent year-over-year as compared to February’s reading of 12.90 percent year-over-year.

Analysts expected prices to fall as construction picks up and more homes are listed for sale. Lower demand due to strict mortgage lending standards and high home prices continued to keep many moderate-income and first-time home buyers on the sidelines.

FHFA Reports Home Prices Increased By Over 6 Percent

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also released its home price index for properties connected with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owned or guaranteed loans. As of March, FHFA reported that home prices increased by 6.50 percent year-over-year as compared to February’s year-over-year reading of 6.90 percent.

Consumer confidence rose by 1.30 percent for May with a reading of 83.0, which matched expectations.

Last Thursday’s news included the weekly Jobless Claims report, which showed 22,000 fewer jobless claims than expected with a reading of 300,000 new jobless claims reported. Thursday’s reading was also lower than the prior reporting period’s reading of 327,000 new jobless claims filed.

The four-week rolling average of jobless claims also showed improvement with 11,250 fewer claims filed and an average reading of 311,500 new weekly jobless claims filed. This was the lowest number of jobless claims filed since August 2007. Analysts look to the four-week rolling average as more accurate than the weekly readings, which can be volatile.

U.S. jobs have increased by 200,000 jobs per month over the last three months reported.

Pending Home Sales Up for Second Consecutive Month

Pending home sales in April rose by 0.40 percent from the March reading of 97.4 to 97.8. The April reading was the highest for pending home sales since November. Pending home sales provide an estimate of future home sales.

Lower mortgage rates likely supported expanded home sales. Freddie Mac reported that the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 4.12 percent, a drop of two basis points from last week. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by four basis points to 3.21 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.96 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.60 for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage and 0.50 percent for a 15 year mortgage. Discount points dropped from 0.40 to 0.30 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

What’s Ahead

In addition to construction spending for April, this week’s economic news includes several reports that can provide insight about employment and consumer spending.

News events include Motor Vehicle Sales for May, The Fed’s Beige Book report, and Thursday’s usual release of Freddie Mac’s average mortgage rates and weekly Jobless Claims. Non-farm Payrolls and the national unemployment rate for May are also scheduled for release

Five Things That Don’t Affect Your Credit Score

By Nikitas Tsoukalis

When you start learning about your credit scores, it’s easy to get paranoid about the numbers. But, there are a lot of myths about actions that will affect your credit rating, whether negatively or positively. A few actions that you do not need to be worried about:

Pulling Your Own Credit
When you check your own credit, this is known as a “soft pull.” “Hard pulls” are what occur when a bank or another organization looks at your credit reports with the intent of granting you a new loan. Because each new loan we get can increase the exposure of other creditors, having recent hard pulls will have a short-term, but minor, negative effect. But, looking at your credit yourself does not count against you. In fact, looking at your own records frequently can help you identify errors and problems, leading to a higher credit score overall.

Visiting a Credit Counselor
Many people who are struggling with bad credit are afraid to visit a credit counselor because they fear it may add another ding to their credit. But, the counseling itself is never recorded on your credit record in any way.

Multiple Inquiries
If you are shopping for a mortgage, creditors expect to see several pulls within a short period of time. All this indicates is that you are comparing offers, and it will generally be considered a single inquiry. If you are looking at new and different credit offers every few months, on the other hand, it can look like you are at risk of overextending yourself. Recent credit inquiries only make up about 10% of your score, so, even if an inquiry brings your score down, the effect is minimal and temporary.

Carrying a Balance on Your Cards 
Many people believe that they need to carry a small balance month to month on their cards to improve their credit scores. This is not the case at all; carrying small balances just results in paying interest. Other people feel that any balance at all can hurt your rating. However, a balance between 10 and 30 percent of your available credit is considered in the healthy zone and will not harm your score.

Not Using Your Cards
Many people believe that you need to use all cards regularly for them to count toward your credit score. While a card company may close a credit line that hasn’t been used in a long time, you don’t need to keep a card in constant use. Charging items a few times a year and paying in full is sufficient to keep a card active. We recommend setting up automatic charges and payments on infrequently used cards only to simplify the process of keeping them in use.

Knowing what can and can’t hurt your score gives you a leg up in the credit game. Educate yourself and keep an eye on your records to keep your score high and get access to the best financial opportunities.

There’s No Place Like Home… Until You Sell It

Click here for the original post

BK+L e-news Bulletin

There’s No Place Like Home… Until You Sell It
By James Pepa, CPA   Partner

A home is often a person’s most valuable capital asset.  But what happens tax-wise when you sell your home?

The tax rules around sales of personal residences have changed numerous times in the past.  Gone are the days when you had to reinvest the proceeds from the sale of your home in a new home within a certain amount of time.  The current rules are such that, unless you have a significant gain on the sale of your primary residence, you may not even have to report the sale on your tax return.

You are not required to report the sale of your main home on your tax return unless: 

  • You have a gain and are not qualified to exclude all of it.
  • You have a gain and choose not to exclude it.
  • You received Form 1099-S.
 And even before you can apply these rules, you need to know the IRS definition of ‘main home,’ not to mention determining whether you have a ‘gain’ on the sale and if you can ‘exclude’ any of it.
Your main home is the home you live in most of the time, and can be a house, houseboat, mobile home, co-op apartment or condominium.  If you own more than one home, some factors to use in determining which is your main home are:
  • The amount of time you live in each home.
  • Your place of employment.
  • The location of your family members’ main home.
  • Your mailing address for bills and correspondence.
  • The address listed on your income tax returns, driver’s license, car registration and voter registration.

  Single filers may exclude up to $250,000 of gain on the sale of their home.  That amount goes up to $500,000 for married couples.  You must have owned and lived in the property as your main home for at least 2 years during the 5 year period ending on the date of sale, and the 2 years do not have to be consecutive.

Calculating gain is another adventure in and of itself.  You start by figuring the difference between what you paid for your home and the price at which you sold it.  The IRS terms are ‘amount realized’ and ‘adjusted basis.’  The amount realized is the selling price minus selling expenses such as commissions, advertising fees, and legal fees.  The adjusted basis is the amount you paid for the home originally plus settlement fees and closing costs.  You can also add in the cost of permanent improvements you made to the home.  If you did not buy your home, but received it as a gift, inheritance, in trade or from your spouse, different rules apply.  Things can get even more complicated if part of your home was used for business purposes or treated as rental property.

And what if you lose money when you sell your home?  Generally, losses incurred from the sale of your residence are not deductible.

The issues discussed here are just the basics.  Navigating all of the tax rules regarding the sale of your home can be tricky.  Please contact us if you have questions at info@bkl-cpa.com or 847+866+6800.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 21, 2014

Last week’s economic news supported the general outlook for moderate economic growth. Housing related news included the National Association of Home Builders / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for April and Housing Starts for March.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Holds Steady Amid Concerns

The NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI for April ticked upward by one point to a reading of 47 against the March revised reading of 46. Home builders surveyed expressed concerns about high home prices, a lack of available lots for development and a labor shortage. Some desirable markets have been held back due to low inventories of available and/or affordable homes.

Builders surveyed for the HMI were asked to rate three components used in compiling the monthly index; these include current market conditions, market conditions expected over the next six months, and buyer foot traffic in newly built homes. April’s readings were 51, 57 and 32 respectively.

Readings for current market conditions and buyer foot traffic were unchanged from March, but builder confidence for market conditions in the next six months rose by four points.

Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders are confident about market conditions for newly-built single-family homes than not.

Housing Starts Pick Up After Winter Storms, But Fall Short Of Expectations

March Housing Starts rose by 2.80 percent at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 946,000 starts as compared to expectations of 990,000 and February’s reading of 920,000 housing starts, which was revised from 907,000 starts.

The March reading represented a 5.90 percent decrease from March 2013, and is consistent with concerns expressed by home builders surveyed for the NAHB HMI for April.

Building permits issued for March were also lower by 2.40 percent at a rate of 990,000 permits issued. This slippage was largely due to the falling rate of building permits issued for apartment construction.

Higher home prices and mortgage rates along with inconsistent (but improving) labor markets were cited as reasons for builder pessimism, but analysts said that projects delayed by severe weather are expected to pick up in the coming months.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Discount Points Hold Steady

Last week’s average mortgage rates fell across the board according to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by seven basis points to 4.27 percent. 15-year mortgages had an average rate of 3.33 percent as compared to the prior week’s reading of 3.38 percent. 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages had an average rate of 3.03 percent, down from 3.09 percent the previous week. Discount points were unchanged at 0.70, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively.

Fed Chair Upbeat In New York Speech

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen struck a positive note in a speech given before the Economic Club of New York last Wednesday. She indicated that the Fed and many economists expect a return to full employment and stable prices by the end of 2016. Analysts characterized Yellen’s speech as upbeat on economic recovery and inflation, while “dovish” on monetary policy.

Ms. Yellen reiterated the Fed’s intention to monitor current and developing economic situations before making changes to its current monetary policy. She acknowledged that “twists and turns” in the economy could occur, and that Fed policy would shift as needed to address changes.

The Fed also released its Beige Book Report last Wednesday. This report indicated that the economy is recovering in most areas of the U.S.

This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Leading Economic Indicators, Existing Home Sales for March, FHFA House Price Report for February and New Home Sales for March. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment report for April rounds out this week’s news.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – April 14, 2014

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week 4-14-14While little housing-related news was released, last week’s economic news showed signs of a brighter economic picture.

Labor statistics were stronger, with job openings up and new jobless claims filed lower than expected.

Mortgage rates fell, and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index was higher than expected.

More Jobs Available, Fewer New Jobless Claims

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that February job openings rose to 4.20 million, which exceeded January’s reading of 3.9 million jobs. New jobless claims were lower than expected with 300,000 new jobless claims filed against expectations of 316,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 332,000 new jobless claims filed.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve released minutes of its meeting held March 18 and 19. The minutes noted that payroll jobs expanded, but the unemployment rate remained elevated, and inflation was below the committee’s goal of 2.00 percent. Indicators of longer-run inflation expectations were seen as stable.

Severe winter weather was viewed as a cause for slowing economic activity. FOMC noted that it would be difficult to determine the effects of winter weather on the economy as opposed to slower economic growth caused by unemployment or other negative factors.

Housing Starts and Building Permits were lower, but FOMC noted the impact of winter weather on these reports. FOMC asserted its intention to continue reducing its monthly asset purchases by $10 billion per month as economic conditions permit.

The FOMC emphasized its commitment to continuous review of financial and economic news as it makes month-to-month decisions concerning asset purchases.

Mortgage Rates Fall, Consumer Sentiment Rises

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell from 4.41 to 4.34 percent. The rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage dropped from 3.47 to 3.38 percent, and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by three basis points from 3.12 percent to 3.09 percent.

Discount points were unchanged at 0.70, 0.60 and 0.50 percent respectively. Lower mortgage rates may encourage more buyers into the market as the spring and summer buying season gets under way.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index for April rose to 82.60 percent against the March reading of 80.00 percent and the projected reading of 80.80 percent. If expectations prove correct, this week’s economic reports are expected to bring more good news.

Whats Coming Up This Week

This week’s scheduled economic news includes Retail Sales for March, which are expected to show a gain, the Consumer Price Index which is expected to hold steady, and the Home Builder Index, which is expected to rise.

Projections for Housing Starts are also higher. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is set to give a speech in New York on Wednesday, and the Fed Beige Book report will also be released. This week’s economic reports will wrap up Friday with Leading Economic Indicators.

Do you Qualify for the Home Office Deduction?

Click Here to See The Original Post: BK+L e-news Bulletin

Do you Qualify for the Home Office Deduction?
By Miriam Eisenbach

With the advancements of technology, it has become more convenient for taxpayers to work from home. Taxpayers have been reluctant to utilize the home office deduction because they are uncertain as to whether they qualify for the deduction.
The following requirements must be met in order to take the home office deduction:
Requirement #1: Regular and Exclusive Use: The space must be used exclusively for conducting your trade or business
Exceptions:

  1. Storage: If you use space in your home for storage of inventory and samples, you can deduct expenses for your trade or business use of home without meeting the exclusion test. However the following criteria must be met:
    1. Your business sells products at wholesale or retail
    2. The storage is for the use of your trade or business
    3. Your home is the only fixed location of your trade or business
    4. The storage space issued on a regular basis
    5. The space is a separate identifiable space
  2. Day care:  If you use space in your home to provide daycare on a regular basis, you may be able to claim that space even if you use the same space for nonbusiness activities. The following criteria must be met:
    1. You use the space in a trade or business to provide daycare for children, persons aged 65 and older, or persons who are mentally or physically unable to care for themselves.  AND
    2. You must have applied for, been granted or exempt for having a license, certification or registration for a daycare center.

Requirement #2: Principal Place of Business: You must be able to prove that your home is your principal place of business.  If you conduct business outside your home, but also substantially in your home, then you may quality for a deduction. If for example you normally meet clients, customer or patients in the regular course of business in your home, then you qualify for the home office deduction.  The following are a list of items to consider in determining if you satisfy this criterion:

  1. The importance of the activities performed
  2. Amount of time spent
  3. Your home would also qualify if the following are met:
    1. You use your home exclusively and regularly for administrative and management activities AND
    2. You have no other fixed location.

For example, a plumber conducts his work at his clients’ locations, but all of his administrative and management is done from his home in a space that is exclusively used for his business. He would qualify for a home office deduction even though he is not conducting his trade from his home.
Additional Requirements for Employee Use:

  1. The business use must be the convenience of your employer
  2. You may not rent any part of your home to your employer and then use the rented portion to perform as an employee for your employer

Methods
The IRS now has two methods to calculate the home office deduction:

  1. Simplified Method: For tax years starting after January 1, 2013, the IRS has issues a simplified method that would require less record keeping. In most cases you will calculate the area used for your trade or business and multiply it by $5. The area used is limited to 300 square feet for a total deduction of $1,500.
  2. Regular Method (Actual Expenses):  The taxpayer must determine the actual expenses of their home office. This deduction is based on the percentage of the home devoted to the trade or business. Examples of expense included in the deduction are real estate taxes, mortgage interest paid, insurance, utilities, repairs and depreciation (please keep in mind that any depreciation taken will create a taxable gain when the property is sold).

Methods comparison (provided by www.irs.gov)

Simplified Option Regular Method
Deduction for home office use of a portion of a residence allowed only if that portion is exclusively used on a regular basis for business purposes Same
Allowable square footage of home use for business (not to exceed 300 square feet) Percentage of home used for business
Standard $5 per square foot used to determine home business deduction Actual expenses determined and records maintained
Home-related itemized deductions claimed in full on Schedule A Home-related itemized deductions apportioned between Schedule A and business schedule (Sch. C or Sch. F)
No depreciation deduction Depreciation deduction for portion of home used for business
No recapture of depreciation upon sale of home Recapture of depreciation on gain upon sale of home
Deduction cannot exceed gross income from business use of home less business expenses Same
Amount in excess of gross income limitation may not be carried over Amount in excess of gross income limitation may be carried over
Loss carryover from use of regular method in prior year may not be claimed Loss carryover from use of regular method in prior year may be claimed if gross income test is met in current year


Keep in mind that the deduction is limited to your income. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us directly at 847-556-2358 or meisenbach@bkl-cpa.com