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June 2020

Whether you own a home or are looking to buy or sell one, here are some useful tips, ideas and advice. When you’re ready to make your move, give me a call or drop me a line.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Landmark Properties
Laura Bowman-Messick

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Color Personality: Blue

After a decade of industrial grey walls, stark white kitchens, and minimalistic décor, it’s time for some color. Blues are a great choice; they can be peaceful and soothing, confident and bold or as refreshing as a dip in the pool.

Here is a range of blues you may like:

Classic blues are elegant and have been used by blue bloods for centuries. Inspired by the royal and sapphire hues found in the Far East, the West adopted these shades into collectible porcelain china such as Delft and Staffordshire and in fabric patterns such as toile. These shades are popular in kitchens and dining rooms, because blues offset the heat of oven fires and cook-tops.

Soothing blues are pale, muted with grey or warmed with undertones of yellow. Pastel blues can be wonderful in bedrooms and baths, or wherever you seek serenity.

Floral and avian blues like bluebonnet, periwinkle, peacock and robin’s egg can be delightful as accents against neutrals. They bring the outdoors inside, perfect for living rooms or dens with large windows and vistas.

Contemporary blues tend to be vivid and intense, such as the iconic Tiffany blue or cobalt. These colors are most effectively used as statements in rooms without a lot of clutter.

Deep water blues are natural in seaside and lakeside homes. From aqua to navy, your home will pay homage to local water-faring activities, like fishing and sailing.

The versatility of blue is unlimited. It complements all other colors, like the sky complements the earth.


Sound Surroundings

One of the greatest pleasures of owning your own home is being in better control of your environment, including the sounds you listen to. Imagine waking up to the cheerful melodies of chirping birds, instead of your neighbor’s clanging, banging and muffled conversations.

So, when you shop for a new home, consider one with a garden where you can attract songbirds to add sound, color and interest, such as robins, tanagers and finches. Songbirds can be captivating to watch as well as to listen to throughout the year.

Create an alluring habitat where the birds can feel at home by planting some native brush that will provide birds with their basic needs – food, protection and a place to nest.  Be sure to scatter leaves, twigs and other small debris you’ve raked up under your shrubs and flower beds to attract insects and worms. The twig and leaf debris are great for songbirds to collect for nest building and insects will provide food for the birds.

Birds won’t nest where they don’t feel safe. You may have to add some natural barriers, such as dense shrubbery to protect songbirds from cats, opossums and other hunters.

Birdbaths are great accessories that say welcome to birds. Moving water, such as small fountains or drippers can create a “visual magnet” to attract birds to the bath. Birds splashing in the water is a delight to behold!

While songbirds enjoy your garden, you’ll be equally enchanted by the cheerful music and natural beauty you’ve helped create. 


Buying A Home As Tenants In Common

There’s no reason to miss out on the advantages of homeownership simply because you’re not married. You can partner with anyone to buy and occupy a home, including a significant other, best friend or close relative. If you do things the right way from the beginning, you’ll build on a great investment as well as a treasured relationship.

According to, the first thing you need to do is disclose all finances with your future housemate, including salaries, debts, credit history and scores. One of you may not be able to contribute equally to the costs of owning a home. Further, a lender will use the weakest credit to determine how much money to lend you and at what rate because both of you are liable for the mortgage payments.

There’s a solution for unequal financial situation - you both can own title to a home as Tenants in Common. You may own 70% while your housemate owns 30%. Neither can sell the home without the other, but when you do sell, you’ll receive 70% of the proceeds. In the event of death, ownership only passes to the other tenant in common if so specified in a will.

Hire a real estate attorney to help you work out terms and percentages, and specify in a contract exactly who is responsible for paying for which items and in what percentages. Planning ahead will help prevent future disputes and give you both more confidence in your new home purchase.


Federal Solar Energy Tax Credits for 2020

This year may be the ideal time to go solar. The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) otherwise known as the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit is a federal tax break that allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of buying and installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes. Unless a financial stimulus policy says otherwise, the credit reduces to 22% in 2021. says that an average-sized residential solar system with about 400 sq. ft. of solar panels costs $18,000. With the federal tax break, the cost is reduced to $13,320.

And that’s just the beginning. You can also receive incentives from the state where you live, as well as manufacturer rebates. You can sell excess energy you collect back to your local utility through net-metering. All totaled, you can reduce hundreds of dollars of monthly utility bills down to a fraction, depending on which panels you choose and how much wattage they’re designed to collect. It’s like paying to upgrade bandwidth for your Internet connection.

The tax credit is available no matter how much you spend on the panels. According to, the cost of solar panels varies among manufacturers, as well as “how much electricity you use, where you live, your roof characteristics and the percentage of your power bill you’d like to eliminate.

To estimate how many panels you’ll need, simply look at your energy bills and find the number of kilowatt hours you use. The average U.S. home uses about 900 kilowatt hours per month.

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