My wife and I are looking to retire in three years from New Jersey to Florida or a Florida-type atmosphere â warm weather, no snow!
We will be getting around $5,000 from Social Security monthly and will have a little over $1 million spread among savings/401(k)/house equity. We want to buy a condo for about $250,000 that has all the extras like pools, restaurants, social activities and near the beach.
Can you make any suggestions?
With 1,350 miles of coastline in Florida alone, never mind the rest of the South, you have many possibilities for your retirement. But as you can imagine, properties closest to the beach are more expensive, so ânear the beachâ may involve some compromise.
I started my search with Realtor.com (which, like MarketWatch, is owned by News Corp.) and its picks of affordable beach communities, but didnât stick to it exclusively.
My three suggestions are just a starting point. No place is perfect, not every development will have all the amenities you want, and every town has its own personality, so you may want to think about what else is important to you. You also may want to consider gated communities and townhomes, not just multistory condominium buildings.
As you narrow down your list, I recommend you visit at least twice â once in the winter to experience the crowds in high season and once in the summer to understandÂ what southern humidity is like. Itâs worse than in New Jersey.
Think about how you will build your new social network, even with all the social amenities in your condo building. Donât rule out the local senior center or the townâs recreation department.
Consider renting for the first year to test it out to make sure youâve picked the right area.
Then there are the money questions. The last thing you need is a surprise.
Youâll have condo fees; they can be quite high, particularly in a high-rise building along the beach. What do they cover and what donât they cover? How much have fees been rising over, say, the past 10 years? How does the board budget for bigger repairs? More broadly, are you OK with the condo associationâs rules?
Ask about the cost of both flood and wind insurance given that the southern coastline is regularly threatened with hurricanes. Thatâs on top of homeownerâs insurance. Or are you far enough inland that you can get away without them?
Walk into the tax assessorâs office to try for a more accurate tax assessment than your real-estate agent may give you. And since this would be your primary residence, ask about the homestead exemption.
And donât forget that youâre trading your New Jersey heating bill for more months of air conditioning; what will that cost?
Finally, three years isnât that far away.Â Start decluttering now. Thatâs hard work, too.
Here are three coastal towns to get you started on your search:
This town of nearly 25,000 on the Gulf Coast is part of the Sarasota metro area, deemed by U.S. News & World Report to beÂ the best area in the U.S. to retire. Venice is 25 miles south of Sarasota and its big-city amenities; itâs 60 miles north of Fort Myers, the runner-up in the U.S. News listing.
It also made Realtor.comâs list ofÂ affordable beach towns for 2020.
This is a retiree haven â 62% of residents are 65 and over, according to Census Bureau data.
While you can always travel to the nearby big cities, when you want to stay local, see whatâs on at theÂ Venice Performing Arts CenterÂ and theÂ Venice Theatre. Walk or bicycle along the 10.7-mileÂ Legacy TrailÂ toward Sarasota and the connecting 8.6-mileÂ Venetian Waterway Park TrailÂ to the south. The latter will lead you toÂ highly ratedCaspersen Beach.
Temperature-wise, youâll have an average high of 72 in January (with overnight lows averaging 51) and an average high of 92 in August (with an overnight low of 74).
HereâsÂ what is on the market right now, using Realtor.com listings.
Boynton Beach, Florida
On the opposite side of the state, smack between Palm Beach and Boca Raton, is this city of about 80,000 people,Â plenty of whom are from the tri-state area. More than one in five are 65 or older.
Weather is similar to that in Venice: an average high of 73 in January and 85 in August.
Boynton Beach is in the middle of developing theÂ 16-acre Town Square projectÂ that will include a cultural center and residential options, among other things. Still, this is an area where one town bleeds into the next, so whatever you donât find in Boynton Beach, youâll probably find next door.
At the western edge of town is theÂ Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, 145,000 acres of northern Everglades and cypress swamp. TheÂ Green Cay Nature CenterÂ is another natural attraction.
You can also hopÂ Tri-Rail, a commuter train line that runs from West Palm Beach to the Miami airport with a stop in Boynton Beach, when you want to go elsewhere. The fancier Brightline train isÂ adding a stop in Boca RatonÂ to its existing trio of West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami; the current plan is for a mid-2022 opening.
This city has many amenity-laden retirement communities, and the median listing price for condos and townhouses fit your budget, according to Realtor.com data. HereâsÂ whatâs on the market now.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
If youâre ready to look beyond Florida, Myrtle Beach, S.C., with nearly 35,000 people, made Realtor.comâsÂ 2018Â andÂ 2019Â lists of affordable beach towns, and Murrells Inlet, just to the south and home to just under 10,000 people, made the 2020 list. The broader Myrtle Beach area, known as the Grand Strand, extends for 60 miles along the coast.
Summer temperatures in Myrtle Beach are a touch cooler than Florida; an average high of 88 in July, with lows averaging 74.
A word of warning: In the winter, average overnight lows get down to around 40, and average daytime highs reach the upper 50s. Is that acceptable, or too cold?
Myrtle Beach boasts of its low property taxes, especially when combined with the stateâs homestead exemption. While you may think of the city as a vacation destination, 20% of residents are 65 or older. (Nearly 32% of Murrells Inlet residents are seniors.)
Hereâs whatâs for sale now inÂ Myrtle BeachÂ and inÂ Murrells Inlet.
The post We Want to Retire to Florida or a Florida-Type Atmosphere and Buy a Condo With Lots of Amenities for $250,000âWhere Should We Go? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), there was a 400% increase in phishing and malware incidents during the 2016 tax season. And tax scams extend far beyond email and malware to include phone scams, identity theft and more.Â While the April 15 filing deadline still feels far away, as Yogi Berra said, âIt ainât over till itâs over.â
Scammers use multiple ploys and tactics to lure unsuspecting victims in. The IRS publishes an annual âDirty Dozenâ list of tax scams. Sadly, while some of those scams lure people into getting ripped off, others lure people into unwittingly committing tax fraud by falling victim to fake charities, shady tax preparers and false claims on their tax returns.
The most important things you can do to keep yourself scam-free and protected thisâand anyâtax year are to:
- Be waryâif it seems too good to be true, it probably is
- Educate yourself on the most common risks out there
- File your taxesÂ as early as possible
When you file your taxesÂ as early as possible, you can just politely decline scammer and you can protect yourself from taxpayer identity theft. Tax-related identity theft is primarily aimed at someone posing as you stealing your tax refund. Scammers are creative, sophisticated, persistent and move fast once they have your information in hand. Armed with your Social Security number, date of birth and other pieces of your personally-identifiable information, they can rob you. If youâve been the victim of a data breachâlearn the warning signsâyour information is likely available on the dark web. With your information, all a scam artist has to do is log in to a motelâs Wi-Fi network, fill out a fraudulent tax return online and walk away with a refund that could be and should have been yours.
What Is a Tax Scam?
A tax scam is a ploy intended to steal your information and/or your money. It can take several forms. The IRSâs âDirty Dozenâ for 2018 includes these scams:
- Phishing scams, using fake emails or websites to steal personal information.
- Phone scams where callers pretend to be IRS agents to steal your information or money.
- Identity theft scams where identity thieves try and steal your personally identifiable information.
- Return preparer fraud where a dishonest tax preparer submits a fraudulent return for you or steals your identity.
- Fake charities where unqualified groups get you to donate money that isnât actually deductible on your tax return.
- Inflated refund claim scams where a dishonest tax preparer promises a high refund.
- Excessive claims for business credits where you or a dishonest tax preparer promises a high refund for claiming credits you arenât owed, such as the full tax credit.
- Falsely padding deductions Taxpayers where you or a dishonest tax prepare reports more for expenses or deductions than really occurred.
- Falsifying income to claim credits where a dishonest tax preparer cons you into claiming income you didnât earn in order to qualify for tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Frivolous tax arguments where a scam artist gets you to make fake claims to avoid paying taxes.
- Abusive tax shelters where a scammer sells you on a shelter as a way to avoid paying taxes.
- Offshore tax avoidance where a scammer convinces you to put your money offshore to hide it as a source of taxable income that you have to pay taxes on.
Itâs important to know that if you fall victim, you may not just be the victim. You may also be a criminal and held accountable legally and financially for filing an incorrect return.
A new scam recently hit the wires too. For this one, scammers email employees asking for copies of their W-2s. People who fall victim end up having their names, addresses, Social Security numbers and income sold online. The emails look very valid but arenât If you see this or other emails that stink like âphish,â email the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org
Phishing uses a fake email or website to get you to share your personally-identifiable information. They often look valid. Know that the IRS will never contact you by email regarding your tax return or bill.
Phishing emails take many forms. They typically target getting enough of your personally identifiable information to commit fraud in your name, making you a victim of identity theft if you take the bait.
Phishing emails may also contain a link that places malware on your computer. These programs can do a variety of thingsânone of them goodâranging from recruiting your machine into a botnet distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack to placing a keystroke recorder on your computer to access bank, credit union, credit card and brokerage accounts to gathering all the personally identifiable information on your hard drive.
Hereâs what you need to know: The IRS will never send you an email to initiate any business with you. Did you hear that? NEVER. If you receive an email from the IRS, delete it. End of story. Oh, and it will never initiate contact by way of phone call either.
That said, there are other sources of email that may have the look and feel of a legitimate communication that are tied to other kinds of tax scams and fraudulent refunds. And not all scams are emailed though. A lot of scammers will call. The IRS offers 5 way to identify tax scam phone calls.
2. Criminal Tax Preparation Scams
Not all tax professionals are the same and you must vet anyone youâre thinking about using well before handing over a shred of your personally identifying information. Get at least three references and check online if there are any reviews before calling them. Also, consider using the Better Business Bureau to see if the preparer has any complaints against them.
Hereâs why: At tax-prep time, offices that are actually fronts for criminal identity theft pop up around the country in strip malls and other properties and then promptly disappear a few days later. Make sure the one you choose is legit!
3. Shady Tax Preparation
Phishing emails arenât always aimed at stealing your personally identifiable information or planting malware on your computer. They may be simply aimed at getting your attention and business through enticingâand fraudulentâoffers of a really big tax refund. While these tax preparers may get you a big refund, it could well be based on false information.
Be on the lookout for questions about business expenses that you didn’t make, especially watching out for signals from your tax preparer that you’re giving him or her a figure that is âtoo low.â
If you are using a preparer and something doesnât seem right, ask questionsâeither directly from the preparer or by calling the IRS. The IRS operates the Tax Payer Advocate Service that can help answer your requests. The serviceâs phone may be unavailable during a government shutdown, but the website is always available.
Other soft-cons of shady tax preparation includeÂ inflated deductions, claiming tax credits that youâre not entitled to and declaring charitable donations you didnât make. Bottom line: If you cheatâintentionally or unintentionallyâchances are youâll get caught. So make sure you play by the rules and follow the instructions or work with a preparer who does. Yes, the instructions are complicated. Thatâs why itâs not a bad idea to get honest help if you need it.
As Yogi Berra said, âYou can observe a lot by watching.â Tax season is stressful without the threat of tax-related identity theft and other scams. Itâs important to be vigilant, because, to quote Yogi all over again, âIf the world were perfect, it wouldnât be.â
This article was originally published February 28, 2017, and has been updated by a different author.
The post 3 Tax Scams You Need to Watch Out For appeared first on Credit.com.
The second stimulus check started hitting bank accounts last week.
That means many people who have direct deposit are waking up to find an extra $600 in their bank accounts if theyâre single or $1,200 if theyâre married, plus a $600 coronavirus credit for each dependent child 16 or younger.
But what if your second check hasnât arrived? Thereâs a new way to find out when itâs coming.
Whereâs My Second Stimulus Check?
The IRS released an updated version of the Get My Payment application on its website Monday, Jan. 4, that allows you to track your second stimulus check. You can use it on your computer, phone or tablet.
Hereâs all of our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day.
Click on the link, and then click the blue âGet My Paymentâ button. Donât be surprised if you have to wait a couple minutes to get through. This corner of IRS.gov is getting a lot of traffic right now, because people really want to know when theyâre getting their $600 stimulus check. When you do get through, youâll get a warning that the system is for authorized use only. Click âOK.â
Next youâll need to enter your Social Security number or Individual Tax ID number, date of birth, street address and ZIP code.
Once you submit your information, the website will tell you the date your payment is scheduled to be made and whether it will be by check or direct deposit. If itâs scheduled for direct deposit, it will tell you the last four numbers of the bank account it will be deposited into.
You can also use the tool to provide your bank account and routing numbers. If the IRS canât pay you via direct deposit, youâll get one via paper check or prepaid debit card. The first paper checks were sent last Wednesday, Dec. 30.
What if Something Is Wrong With My Payment?
What if you havenât gotten the payment that should have been deposited already? Or what if your payment isnât scheduled, or the wrong amount has been deposited? Check thisÂ FAQ page, but donât bother trying to call the IRS right now.
If your payment hasnât been made by Jan. 15, youâll need to submit a tax return and get it in the form of a rebate recovery credit. The same applies if you were eligible for the first round of checks but didnât received one, or if you got the wrong amount.
Payment status not available? Hereâs what that means, plus a few hacks that worked in the first round.
Your coronavirus stimulus check is not taxable â so however you plan to spend that money, just know that you donât need to save any of it for Uncle Sam.
Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder and a certified financial planner. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column.Â Send your tricky money questions to DearPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
The real estate market is constantly changing, especially in the local Denver market. We like to keep an eye on it for you, so we can let you know whatâs going on! Hereâs the latest update:
Data from ReColorado from November 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020.
At 5,236, monthly sales are up 22% from this same time last year in the Denver metro area. While the sales are up from November 2019, they are 19% lower than sales in October. A decrease in monthly sales between October and November is fairly common.
November saw 3,695 new listings in Denver. This is a 1% increase from the previous November and a 40% decrease from October of this year, continuing the trend of a slow down as we move into the colder months.
The average sale price for homes in the Denver metro area in November was $547,094. This is a 13% increase from November 2019 and just a decrease of 2% from October of this year. Single-family homes are selling for higher prices than multi-family residences, such as townhomes and condos. The average sale price for a single-family home was $224,195 higher than multi-family residences.
Days on Market (DOM)
The number of days on market continues to drop, with an average of 22 days and a median of six days during November. The average is a 13-day decrease from last Novemberâs average and a 2-day decrease from this October, while the median is a 13-day decrease from last November and a 2-day decrease from this October.
Single-family residences spent an average of 6 days fewer on the market than multi-family residences.
Turn to a Homie
Whether youâre looking to buy or sell, Homie has experienced, local real estate agents who are excited to work with you. These agents understand the nuances of the local real estate market and are willing to go the extra mile to get you the deal youâre looking for. Click to start selling or buying and to get in touch with your dedicated agent.
Get more tips on navigating the Colorado real estate market!
5 Tips to Help You Afford Your First Home
Common Home Buying Fears and How to Overcome Them
Can You Buy and Sell a Home at the Same Time?
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The post Homieâs Denver Housing Market Update November 2020 appeared first on Homie Blog.
The coronavirus has galvanized many die-hard city dwellers to pack up and flee for the suburbs or beyond. But how easy is it to pull off such a drastic move during a pandemic?
Just ask Angela Caban, a former Broadway dancer and decorative painter who, after 28 years of living in New York City, reached her breaking point in April. Quarantined in a cramped apartment in Queens, hearing sirens wailing all night, she decided to buy a house in Charleston, SC,Â an area she’d grown to love during her frequent work trips there over the years.
Yet since Caban was on lockdown in New York, she had to shop for homes remotely and make offers without seeing places in person. Here’s what it was like to buy a house sight unseen, and the lessons she learned that might inspire other longtime urbanites and first-time home buyers to make the leap themselves.
Location: Hanahan, SC
House specs: 1,804 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, separate barn
List price: $234,000
Price paid: $232,000
How did the pandemic play into your decision to leave NYC?
You give up a lot to live in New York because it has a lot to offer, but when those things go away, you start to question why youâre giving up so much.
Once COVID-19 hit in March, April, and May, I was stuck in my apartment for three months straight with no work. I wasn’t getting unemployment because that hadnât kicked in. I had no outdoor space to speak of. I just wanted to have some room to roam, be in nature, and not feel desperate. Thatâs what put me over the edge.
I felt like no matter how difficult New York had been in the past, this was a whole new ball of wax. I was there for 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. When other tragedies had hit New York City, people were saying, “Weâre in this together.”
When COVID-19 hit, all of a sudden there was suspicion. Everybody was frightened of everyone else.
Watch: Listing Agents Answer Our Burning Questions About the ‘Silence of the Lambs’ House
The ambulance sirens were nonstop. Plus, my small apartment was directly on the street, with the garbage cans right outside my window. So when I tried to open the windows during the pandemic, there were roaches coming in. I was like, “I can’t do this anymore.”
What made you choose Charleston as your new home?
Iâd have work meetings down here, and I had fallen in love with the area. I liked the sense of history, the weather. And financially it was doable. My mortgage now is less than half my rent for my tiny apartment in New York City.
How did your house hunt go?
I started looking near the end of April. I put an initial offer in on a house that fell through after the home inspector I’d sent to look at it said it would fall down in two years. Then I was in a panic because Iâd already given notice on my New York apartment. So basically I had six weeks total to find another house and close on it.Â
What were your biggest challenges?
There was no inventory. Every house I looked at and said, “Oh, that’s a possibility,” would be gone by the time I called. An hour after being listed, the house would no longer be accepting offers!
How did you find the house you eventually bought?
Lucky for me, this house had been on the market for 60 days. I don’t know if it was because the photos were crappy, or the fact that the neighborhood was considered a little dicey. But Iâm from New York, so the neighborhood seemed comfortable to me. I put an offer in within 48 hours of losing the other house.Â
Wasn’t it scary to buy a house you hadn’t seen in person?
I was emboldened because I could always back outâyou have two weeks to do so when bidding on a house. So I got in the car and drove down to look at it two days after my offer was accepted. I literally did it all in one day; it took me 12 hours to drive down. I saw the house and drove around for about two hours, and then I drove back because I had to start packing! I literally didn’t sleep for 26 hours. It’s probably why I have more gray hair now than I should.
How did the house look once you saw it, compared with the photos online?
It was much better than I thought. There is a lot of detailing, dental molding, wainscoting, and paneling in the living room, along with 16 windows that let in a lot of light. Plus, there’s the barn in the back that is another 600 square feet or so. My eventual plan is to make a workshop and a place to make art and teach.
How was the mortgage process?
It was a nightmare. Nobody wants to give mortgages to a single, female, sole proprietor who does not have pay stubsâespecially during COVID-19, when theyâre afraid people may default on their loan. They had also enacted new COVID-19 regulations that meant I had a boatload more paperwork. I had to submit letters from clients, proposals for work that was going to happen, invoices for work that I was still waiting to be paid for. … It was insane. I joked with them that I had to give them everything except a bone scan.
How did you finally secure the loan?
Thanks to the help of my real estate agent, John Bell of Southern Bell Living, and his mortgage broker, Ethan Lane at Mortgage Network. They were amazing, and I was an absolute basket case: “What else do you want from me? I have no place to go. I’m going to be homeless!”
I look forward to giving them both a hug someday after COVID-19 is under control.
How did you close on the house during the pandemic?
That is a whole additional saga. I was finishing up a painting job in New York when all of a sudden on Friday they said, “You’re closing on Monday,” so I had to get an attorney to attend the closing for me. To get that, I had to get a statement notarized. In the middle of COVID-19! I met the notary on the street, but then I had to have two witnesses! It took me asking 18 strangers to find two people who said they’d help.
How did you pull off a move during the pandemic?
I couldnât get a truck in New York. So I packed my car and drove down to Charleston, where I dropped off my cats in the new house. Then I rented a U-Haul and drove it back to New York, hired two guys who then met me at my old apartment, packed the truck. Drove it back down to South Carolina, where I hired two more guys to help me unload the truck, and voilÃ .
Was leaving New York hard after living there for 28Â years?
Leaving was difficult because you almost feel like itâs a badge of honor that you’re a survivor in New York City. But down here, I finally feel like I can actually live my life instead of just trying to make it from one month to the next. I can think big thoughts and make big things happen, for which I simply didnât have the energy in New York.
Now that you’ve lived in Charleston for a few months, how are you feeling?
It’s like I can finally breathe, and I absolutely love it. I sit every morning out on my back patio and watch woodpeckers, blue jays, and cardinals. I have roses that are blooming that I planted.
What advice would you give first-time home buyers and others looking to move now?
When you’re looking at homes online, don’t immediately discount a property just by how it looks in its photos. It’s like online dating that way. You need to see how it feels once you’re face to face and interacting with the space. Luckily, though, the minute I saw it in person, I knew I would be very happy here.
The post ‘I Bought This House Based on Listing Photos Alone’: Was It Worth the Risk? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.