If you already own a home but want to get one of our new Brandywine models, you’re most likely going to have to sell your current property to afford the new one. The profit you make on that sale is called capital gains, and you ordinarily pay capital gains tax on that amount, which can range from 15 to 20 percent, depending on your income.
For example, if you bought your current home for $500,000 and sold it for $650,000, your capital gains (profit) would be $150,000. You could pay from $22,500 to $45,000 in capital gains taxes. Sellers who have owned their homes for decades may make several hundred thousand dollars in profits on the sale of even small homes, just because of the price run-ups we’ve seen in Orange County.
To prevent the massive tax burden that such large profits would ordinarily entail, the tax code contains exceptions when dealing with the sale of your primary residence. For such a transaction, you may ordinarily exclude up to $250,000 of any gain from your income, if you’re single, and up to $500,000, if you file a joint return.
To qualify for that exclusion, you must have used your home as your primary residence for a period equal to two years out of the last five ending on the date you sell your home. For example, if you rented your home for three of the last five years and lived in it the rest of the time, you qualify. However, if you rented your home for three years and a day in the last five years, you’re out of luck.
Additionally, you are not entitled to the exclusion if you’ve already used it within the two years before the sale of your current home. So, if you sold a previous home within the past two years and avoided capital gains, you can’t do it again. But wait two years and a day to sell, and the exclusion is yours once again. Read More >
Who doesn’t like presents on their birthdays? After all, you deserve a treat just for making it through another year. Many retailers share that philosophy and reward you with a freebie on your special day. All you have to do is to sign up for them before your actual date.
It’s time to wake up.
If you like to wake up your day with a jolt of coffee, Starbucks gives you a free beverage plus 15 percent off on your birthday. But don’t just go for a small coffee, since that’s fairly cheap. Order the largest size drink mix you can find, so you get your money’s worth. A couple of caveats: you must join at least 30 days before your birthday and you need to download their app so it can be scanned. To maintain your birthday privileges, you also need to buy at least one item at any branch of the retailer in the coming year.
Head to an island.
Ever dream of getting away from it all on an island vacation? With Catalina Express, you can do exactly that on your birthday with a free round trip to the island just off the shores of Los Angeles and Orange County. All you need is a valid picture ID that shows your birth date. In addition, you can download a sheet giving you all kinds of discounts and freebies at Catalina Island, such as free bottle of wine at a hotel, a free walking tour, or a massage discount. Boats depart from Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point.
Start the day right.
You can start the day right by eating a hearty breakfast. So Denny’s offers a free Grand Slam breakfast on your special day after you sign up for their rewards program. This meal comes with two fluffy buttermilk pancakes, two eggs, two bacon strips, and two sausages. You’ll also get money-saving coupons for the restaurant throughout the year. Read More >
New Year’s Aboard the Queen Mary
You’ll need to leave the kids at home for this 21-and-over celebration aboard a majestic ocean liner from the Golden Age of Trans-Atlantic crossings. Permanently berthed in Long Beach, the Queen Mary features multiple kinds of entertainment in its many public spaces decorated in homage to favorite films like The Godfather, Mambo Kings, and Avatar. Entertainment includes country music dancing in the Royal Salon, salsa in the Queen’s Salon, swing in the Grand and Windsor Salon, and close-up magic on the Promenade Deck. Have dinner at any of the ship’s restaurants and book a cabin so you can party like it’s 1939. You’d better be on the top deck at midnight if you want to catch one of Southern California’s best firework displays right over the water.
First Night in Fullerton
Go easy on the pocketbook with the free celebration of the arts in downtown Fullerton . This annual alcohol-free bash welcomes the entire family to enjoy food vendors, and games. Fireworks punctuate the festivities at midnight.
Better get into Anaheim’s Disneyland early for their Fantasy In The Sky celebration or save some time by staying at one of the resort’s three hotels. They’ll be plenty to do at the park with lots of dancing and surprise musical performers. But you’re here for the fireworks show, which is set to popular Disney music. Walt Disney himself commissioned this light display way back in 1958 but it’s been updated with the latest pyrotechnic effects and audio systems. You’ll get two chances to enjoy the spectacle: at 9 PM and midnight. Read More >
Our recent storms have not only watered our parched landscapes but have brought lots of snow to many areas that are just a few hours drive from Los Angeles and Orange counties. Take a break in true winter fashion by bundling up the kids and heading to these white wonderlands.
For a full-service vacation only 90 miles from the counties, Lake Arrowhead offers plenty to do with eateries, accommodations, shopping and adventures. The lake provides a contrast to the white landscapes. Start with a tour on the Lake Arrowhead Queen, an authentic paddlewheel boat. Bring your dog and try some of the Arrowhead Ranger District Trails, which range from easy to difficult. Other possibilities include snowboarding and skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating and sledding. Read More >
The holidays are a time of good cheer and celebration as special events make their annual appearance. You’ll enjoy many holiday traditions around Orange County whether you’ve just moved in or are planning a purchase.
Newport Beach Boat Parade (Dec. 16 – 20)
Bundle up by the water for this annual parade of boats from yachts to canoes as they sail down the harbor all decked out with lights and other decor. The parade typically begins at 6:30 PM, although if you arrive early, you can always take a walking tour of homes in the area that get into the spirit with fancy trimmings and sparkles of their own. Opening and closing nights feature fireworks. Join the millions who watch the procession for free or buy a ticket for reserved seating at the Newport Sea Base for the best views.
A Christmas Carol (until Dec. 24)
The South Coast Repertory’s production of the Charles Dickens’ classic is notable for its constancy in its 37th year. Director John-David Keller again directs and Hal Landon reprises his role as Ebeneezer Scrooge with help from the theater’s founding members. Among the changes are the 16 children and four adult roles cast from the theater’s Conservator Acting Intensive Program. Watch for the iconic “hat trick,” which Landon only missed once, although he tried again immediately and succeeded. Read More >
Unless you’re putting down the full price in cash for a Los Angeles County home for sale, you’re going to need a mortgage. Lowering that payment is the most important thing you can do to lower your housing expenses. Follow these tips and you’ll save money either every month or over the total cost of the loan.
Applying for A Mortgage
Despite advertising to the contrary by financial institutions that promise you the lowest rate, all mortgages are not created equal. Lenders determine what terms to offer you based primarily on your credit score. This number tops out at 850 and is calculated from your credit report, a compilation of your monetary obligations, like credit cards and car loans, and payment history. The closer your score can get to that high number, the better your terms will be. Scores at 600 or lower are considered poor and may make it hard to get any kind of a loan.
To get the best rates, raise your credit score by improving your credit report.
1. Get your score and credit report for free at Credit Karma, preferably at least a year before you intend to apply for a mortgage.
2. Look for any mistakes and ask the merchant and credit reporting agency to correct them, which by law, they must do.
3. If you aren’t already, start paying all your bills on time. Late payments have a high negative impact on your score.
4. Start paying off your debts, so you minimize the amount of credit you use. Lower balances push up your scores because it means you don’t owe much money to anyone. Read More >
It’s wonderful to run around outdoors during winter wearing just shorts and a t-shirt. The mild weather ranks as one of the top perks of living in Southern California. But if you’re from a hometown that enjoyed four seasons or love to watch holiday movies, you may feel a tinge of nostalgia and longing seeing snowflakes gently floating from the sky to cover a landscape of white.
Fortunately, you won’t have to travel to enjoy such December weather. Not when both Los Angeles and Orange Counties offer plenty of fun with the cold powder. Part I of this series talks about where to find snow in both counties. And Part II describes areas within driving distance that give you a true cold weather experience.
Garden Grove Winterfest (Dec. 3)
Quantity trumps quality at the Garden Grove Winterfest held this Saturday at the Atlantis Play Center, a city park. Enjoy over 20 tons of snow that are perfect for sledding, making snow bunnies and snow angels, and just playing in. Of course, Santa will be around and crafts will keep the entire family busy for hours. Don’t forget to bundle up because real snow is real cold. Read More >
Now that the contentious elections are over, all kinds of questions are coming up about what a Trump administration would be like concerning taxes, the economy, and trade agreements. While he has explained policies on those issues, he has said almost nothing about the housing market, which is generally on an uptrend. But that hasn’t stopped a raft of experts from trying to predict what will likely happen to homes for sale throughout the nation and specifically, in California.
For his economic agenda, Trump has promised infrastructure improvements, which, along with the president-elect’s background in business and real estate could mean more development and growth, a positive for the real estate market, says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Realtor.com. Read More >
In almost every part of the country, summer is prime visiting season. However, in Southern California, the mild weather, lack of snow, and multiple tourist attractions brings visitors at any time of year. Make their stay memorable by creating a guest room using the following tips.
Welcome them before they arrive.
Send your visitors a welcome email the day before they arrive so they can start their stay early. In it, put links to useful websites, such as a Google map of the area around your home, area traffic maps and weather reports, shopping areas, and tourist attractions.
Take your cue from hotel rooms.
After a hard day of hitting the theme parks, shopping, or enjoying the beach, your guests want a nice place to sleep. So, spend your time and energy making the bed comfortable and inviting. Forget thick patterned comforters. Hotel rooms have dispensed with that type of heavy cover. Instead, they use luxurious white pillowcases and a white bed sheet with color added through a warm blanket. If you must add a pattern, use a decorative throw pillow as an accent. Read More >
Your home is your sanctuary. It’s the place where you relax, unwind from a busy day, and make memories. It is also the perfect place to create a home yoga studio. Many people are interested in yoga, but they just don’t have time to take weekly classes. You shouldn’t have to give up the benefits of yoga simply because you don’t have time to drive across town to a yoga studio and take an hour-long class. If you’re someone who loves yoga, but simply doesn’t have the time for classes, consider creating a space for yoga right inside your own home. If you’re a yoga beginner, an at-home studio is the perfect place for you to learn. Try these free yoga instruction videos to help you begin your yoga journey. The way you decorate your space, and the functions you give each room, are unique to you. Here are a few helpful tips for creating the perfect yoga space. Read More >