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Monitor Your Credit Score & Improve Your Mortgage Rate

By Bob Pezzella, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Why Bob Pezzella for your mortgage needs? Because my 19 years of lending experience coupled with the lending powerhouse that is Residential Mortgage Services, Inc. (RMS) we will streamline your mortgage and home buying process. After the crazy rate fluctuations of the late 1990s through the tumultuous 2000’s first decade and beyond I have navigated the mortgage process every step of the way for my clients. I pride myself on a thorough, consultative approach to understanding customer needs and goals and match your criteria with the parameters of available down payment monies and income level. Whether it makes sense to make a smaller or larger down payment, help raise a credit score, or pay off / refinance current debt, I will find the mortgage solution that is right for you. I will help you evaluate the array of mortgage options from the traditional 30-year fixed rate, through the various state housing programs to the government programs FHA, VA, USDA and together Residential Mortgage Services, Inc. (RMS) and I will guide you home!
Residential Mortgage Services, Inc.
credit score, Residential Mortgage Services, Newburyport, MA

I left off last time talking about how important it is to “be prepared” with respect to having your credit in order prior to applying for home financing.  Your credit score is so critical to your qualifying loan options and corresponding Annual Percentage Rate (APR) I feel compelled to briefly revisit the topic given the time of the year and recent political events.

We have just come through the holiday shopping season and many of us took advantage of large discounts at the cash register simply for agreeing to open a new store credit card.  Although the savings was great, these transactions inevitably lower your credit score:

  • The credit inquiry itself lowers your score.
  • The amount borrowed compared to the limit set by the store can further lower your score.
  • The number one zinger is if the store got your billing address incorrect when the cashier was keying your information in to the computer. Zip code or street number off by a digit and your bill goes to the wrong address, you potentially forget about the new account and miss a payment.

Please, exercise extreme due diligence in tracking down any of these new accounts and make sure these new bills get paid in a timely manner!

Recent national events are costing us more money too. Regardless of your political affiliation, national politics has affected the cost of borrowing money. The result of the presidential election  has  strengthened a bull market, trading off the idea that lower personal and corporate income taxes will stimulate the economy, coupled with the belief that deregulation has been constraining growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW)  is flirting daily with a record 20,000-point level and the Federal Reserve Board (FED) raised its benchmark interest rate recently for just the second time since the financial crisis of 2008. These factors have helped inch up home interest rates costing new mortgage customers more money per month. Although there is little we can do about these national events, you can protect and monitor your credit scores ensuring that you qualify for the best interest rate available.  Consider this: a half- point difference in APR on a 30-year fixed rate $300,000.00 mortgage can cost $88.00/month more in your payment, $1,056.00/year and $31,680.00 more if you were to stay in the mortgage for the life of the loan.

Friends, my message here is very simple. Although credit is not the only qualifying lending criteria, good credit helps you qualify for the best rates and programs. If you need a hand assessing your credit and your qualifying criteria, I would be more than happy to assist you!

Drive More Traffic To Your Site With Social Media

By Jim Somers, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Owner of Sonora DesignWorks, Jim is an expert in web design and development with 22 years of experience including the launch and ongoing support of Newburyport.Com.
Drive More Traffic to Your Site with Social Media, Sonora DesignWorks, Newburyport MA

Making social media work for you is a key parameter to getting people to your site. Being accessible to your potential clients is necessary in order to find out what they want and deliver on those promises. So, if social media isn’t already a core component of your marketing strategy, make it one. Joining Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like will put you in touch with your audience on a granular level. Here are some quick tips for nurturing that relationship:

  • Create and manage profiles on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.
  • Share information via posts, tweets, and video postings. Collaborate with your peers and make valuable connections.
  • Encourage feedback from your followers through questions, polls, and comments.
  • Make sure your business profile is always up to date. Don’t forget to post at least three times a week in order to maintain a presence, suggests Social Media Today.
  • Ask your customers what they want.
  • Offer incentives to follow you or check you out; coupons, promotions, deals, specials…these all get customers actively engaged.

Project Your Voice

Social media marketing is a no-brainer in terms of cost. It costs nothing to manage your social media contacts. All you need to invest is your time. Small businesses can do this on their own; large businesses can hire a social media marketing professional to handle all interactions, posts and shares. Project your voice so your audience can relate to your business and form opinions of how it’s relevant to them now. Honesty really is the best policy. Post from the heart, be genuine and most of all, be helpful. Some tips to achieve that:

  • Open the flow of information
  • Nurture relationships upon first contact
  • Actively listen to your audience and respond in kind
  • Speak to your followers as friends
  • Respond quickly to postings to show you are on top of things
  • Encourage users to share their experiences, snap photos, tag others and get involved
  • Avoid using corporate jargon; save that for your website.

Incorporating a killer social media marketing strategy into your overall plan is important. It wasn’t always that way. A decade ago, social media wasn’t really a thing. Companies largely had to rely on traditional marketing methods. Today, the industry has evolved so much that if you don’t engage in social media marketing, you’ve missed the boat. Social media is certainly a collaborative outlet for people in general; for businesses who want to take their advertising potential to the next level, it’s priceless.

Share What You Know

Sharing relevant content with users puts you in the realm of subject matter expert. It’s not enough to SAY you’re an expert at something. SHOW them. There are two sides to this approach: first, you should share news that directly affects your company, such as holiday hours, promotions, fundraisers and seasonal menu changes; second, you should share indirect information such as YouTube videos, blogs, or white papers that further illustrate your expertise or explain a process.

Social media marketing should be a key part of your overall strategy of increasing visibility of your business.

Top 10 Benefits of Having a WordPress Website

By Jim Somers, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Owner of Sonora DesignWorks, Jim is an expert in web design and development with 22 years of experience including the launch and ongoing support of Newburyport.Com.
WordPress Website, Sonora DesignWorks, Newburyport

A WordPress Website is a great choice for content management software (CMS) in today’s competitive business environment. Sonora DesignWorks in Newburyport works with companies to design websites and utilizes the WordPress platform to create the optimal website solutions for their clients. In fact, Newburyport.com, the website you are currently visiting, uses WordPress and was designed by Sonora DesignWorks. Keep reading to learn more about why a WordPress website is a great choice for your business.

1. You can manage your own website

With a WordPress Website there is no need to depend on a web designer to manage content on your site. You have the ability to control, edit, and create content on your website.

2. No specialized training or software needed

A WordPress website allows you to control and manage the content in your website without technical training, programming, or HTML experience. And you do not need any specialized HTML editing software to manage the website.

3. Manage your website from anywhere in the world

WordPress allows you to edit your website from any web browser. In short, if you have an Internet connection, you can access and edit your website from anywhere on the planet!

4. Keep website content up to date

You can keep your content current by using a WordPress platform. This CMS gives you the ability to update and publish your own website in minutes allowing you to get your content on-line without delay.

5. Mobile Friendly

It is important to have a website that is mobile ready because many people primarily use their mobile devices to search the web. A custom responsive WordPress theme is enabled to display content to someone whether they are viewing the website from a computer or mobile device. Google also gives preference to mobile ready sites in search results.

6. Search Engine Optimization

WordPress makes it easy for search engines to index and read content. Tip: Your pages will be more likely to rank highly in search results if you include content that follows the basics of search engine optimization writing. This brings you traffic and business.

7. Editing Power

A CMS website, such as WordPress, saves you money by allowing you to edit your website whenever you want! No need to rely on someone else for basic changes or edits. You can easily add photos and images, post new content, and edit content on your website.

8. Your website belongs to you

A WordPress website provides a universal CMS platform. This means that you are not tied to a website developer for support when you need help with your website or decide to make design alterations.

9. Plugins expand the reach of your website

Plugins in WordPress make it possible to add elements such as video content, an event calendar, or a Twitter feed to your website. This engages your audience and attracts more visits to the site.

10. Expand your website content

As your business expands you may want to add more content to your website. WordPress allows you to incorporate an unlimited number of new posts and pages as you grow.

A WordPress website you can control and manage yourself is a terrific solution for a business. However, you still need a trusted and experienced company to design and develop your website. Contact Sonora DesignWorks in Newburyport to learn more about our award winning design. Check out our impressive web design portfolio too!

Market Update – When Should You Put Your House on the Market?

By Robert Bentley, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
CEO/Owner & Residential/Commercial Sales Specialist for Bentley's, Robert has been the #1 agent in the Greater Newburyport market for the past six years. Robert's success is due to his dominance with on-line real estate marketing, strong negotiation skills, and good old fashioned work ethic. Robert has a strong sales, marketing, and finance background and always does what is necessary to get the deal done, and make his clients happy. Experience and proven reputation are key when you are making the largest financial transaction of a life time.
Robert Bentley
put your house on the market, Newburyport MA

Market Update – When Should You Put Your House on the Market? Are you waiting for the Spring market because you’ve heard that is the best time to list your property?  Some will say list your house, “just after the Super Bowl, or as soon as the snow starts to melt.”  Timing of when to put your house on the market is a very common question.  The answer depends on a few factors but the most important factors are: when is your house ready to show and when are you ready.

The Greater Newburyport real estate market is currently lite on inventory, as it frequently is in the middle of Winter months.  What’s this mean to sellers in the Greater Newburyport real estate market?  It means, don’t wait if your house is ready to be put on the market.  List now and you are likely to get a better price because there are many educated, quality buyers just waiting to act when they see the right property.

The Spring market is traditionally a very popular time to list, but sellers will experience substantially more competition because buyers have more options during the busy Spring market.  There are many very educated buyers in the Greater Newburyport real estate market place right now, many of which have been searching for quite some time.  These folks are sitting on the sidelines patiently waiting for the right property, and they clearly recognize when a great property comes along.   Don’t over-analyze when to put your house on the market.  This is a simple supply versus demand equation.  If your house is ready, jump in now and you are likely to get premium pricing while buyer demand is at its highest.

Call, text 781.858.5115 or email RobertBentley@Newburyport.com  to schedule a meeting to discuss listing your home or condo.

Avoid Probate Headaches and Protect Your Assets with Proper Estate Planning

By Arlene M. Keating, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Attorney-At-Law, for Arlene M. Keating LLC, with over 25 years of legal experience, Arlene is an expert in estate planning.
Arlene M Keating LLC
Avoid Probate, Arlene Keating, Newburyport MA

While unfortunately death is unavoidable, probate is not. Put in the time upfront to avoid unnecessary cost, time and stress. Our firm is fully equipped to handle the probate process for our clients in MA and NH, but our focus is helping them to avoid probate altogether.  We do this by evaluating each situation and putting the right estate planning tools to use, including:

 

 

  • Wills
  • Durable Powers of Attorney
  • Health Care Proxies
  • Living Wills
  • State and Federal Estate Taxes Evaluation
  • Asset Protection
  • Trusts
  • Revocable Trusts (Living Trusts)
  • Homestead Declarations
  • Irrevocable Trusts

Nationwide polls show that the majority of adults in the United States either have inadequate estate plans or no estate plans at all. The grieving families of decedents without proper estate plans will be left to struggle with everything from end-of-life care to the payment of rent and property expenses. Meanwhile, the assets of the estate will be tied up in a lengthy and expensive probate process. For the sake your loved ones it is critical to invest the time necessary to develop a sound estate plan.

What do the 25-year-old bank teller and the 62-year-old investment banker have in common? They both need an estate plan. The idea that young people or people with modest assets don’t need to worry about estate planning is completely false; the only difference will be the exact composition of their plans.

This is where it becomes important to have a tailored approach to your estate plan. With over 25 years of experience, Arlene M. Keating, LLC. is ready to guide you through every step of the estate planning process, keep your assets safe and avoid probate. Contact us today at 978-363-1400or arlene@arlenemkeatingllc.com to get started. Let us help protect your assets, avoid probate and give you peace of mind.

See more at:https://www.newburyport.com/estate-planning/#sthash.A0HCfaqB.dpuf

Avoid Tax Scams With Awareness Of IRS Process

By Michael Capo, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
President of Michael Capo CPA, P.C. Mike has over 25 years of accounting and finance experience in corporate, individual, independent and government environments. Mike's extensive knowledge is invaluable to his clients and allows him to provide a consultative approach personalized to each of his business and personal tax clients.
Tax Scams, Newburyport MA, Michael Capo, CPA

Protect yourself, your family, and close friends against common tax scams.  Take the time to understand key facts that can help you know if you are being legitimately contacted by the IRS, or if you are being approached as part of a common tax scam.  Please read the links below and if you have any questions, feel to free to call the office of Michael Capo to discuss at 978-499-4300.

The IRS will not call you as initial contact for a tax matter.  You will always receive a letter from the IRS if you have a tax issue.  This is a confirmed tax scam.  Do not give them banking or credit card information over the phone.

https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-repeats-warning-about-phone-scams

CP2000 email / Affordable Care Act
The IRS will not email you any tax related notices.  The CP2000 notice can be a valid IRS document however it will come via USPS not email. If you believe that you have an issue with the Affordable Care Act, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

http://www.accountingtoday.com/news/tax-practice/irs-warns-about-fake-tax-notice-scam-79334-1.html

We proactively share information with clients regarding many important tax related topics.  Highlighting tax scams is just one example.  We strive to provide awareness of tax related issues as well as impacts/ramifications of key tax related decisions.  We work to ensure that our customers are armed with information necessary to make informed decisions related to their specific circumstances.

We pride ourselves on  providing top notch accounting services for both individuals and businesses and we offer a broad scope of services.  We assist many clients with a basic personal returns, and for other clients we are managing important tax related elements of their business such as invoicing, payroll taxes, preparation of 1099’s as well as training on accounting tools such as QuickBooks.  Call to schedule an appointment as we welcome the opportunity to assist you with your tax and accounting needs.

Trends in Massachusetts Divorce Law: Equality and Structure

By Damian Turco, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Principal Attorney and Owner of Turco Legal, Attorney Turco is highly regarded as an expert in the areas of divorce and family law. He has represented hundreds of clients through divorces, modifications, contempt matters, and other family law matters from beginning to end. He sits on multiple committees for the Mass Bar Association, has been recognized by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as one of the state’s upcoming top 25 lawyers of 2015. Attorney Turco’s donates considerable time to help within the community. He serves on the board of LARC, a legal non-profit that helps thousands of lower income folks get desperately needed legal help. He also volunteers his time monthly delivering legal assistance at homeless shelters, day shelters, and soup kitchen’s in Boston, Lowell, Lawrence, and Salem.
Turco Legal
Turco Legal, Divorce Law Trends, Newburyport MA

Divorce law trends are moving in a direction of equality and structure. Divorce may seem like a modern issue.  That is, it sometimes seems like one of those problems with society that’s far worse now than it used to be.  Perhaps that’s because it’s the type of thing that nobody seems to discuss until it’s happening to them, especially not in a tight community like Newburyport.  Or maybe because it is consistently ranked as one of the greatest challenges one may face in his or her lifetime.  Who wants to talk about that?

Actually, despite it not being talked about much, it’s been an important and impactful part of society since shortly after the existence of marriage.  Its prevalence has fluctuated over the thousands of years of recorded history and the trend has largely followed the influence of religion on government and society generally.

While there is disparity around the world as to the popularity of divorce, it is clear that in Massachusetts, like most states, the law is trending from what we would consider traditional to a system of equality and structure.  Here’s how the main issues in divorce are treated in Massachusetts and are trending nationally today.

“Child custody” is still the terminology used in Massachusetts, but many states have done away with it, instead opting for more neutral terms such as “time sharing”, reflecting a growing national view of co-parenting that makes it a point to not characterize children as property or either parent as the “primary” one.  While most divorces with children still result in one parent having about a third of the time and the other having two thirds, there are more judgments granting equal time between parents than ever.  Family Law Judges in Massachusetts continue to have broad discretion in fashioning parenting schedules, so putting the relevant facts about ones case into evidence is just as critical as ever.

Child support is treated as a statutory calculation, considering the income of the parties, the parenting schedule, employment-related child care, and health insurance in nearly every state.  While there is not much movement nationally on this issue, every state periodically adjusts the guidelines figures, so the amount set for child support tends to go up over time.

Alimony is perhaps the most inconsistently treated issue across the country, recently having been overhauled in Massachusetts in 2011.  While some states have actually done away with permanent alimony altogether, Massachusetts has added more structure and limitation into the law.  Permanent alimony is now generally only available in Massachusetts when the marriage lasted over 20 years, with shorter term types of alimony are more tailored to the situation.  Generally, the longer you’ve been married, the longer the alimony is likely available, if available at all.

Property division is unique in Massachusetts, with judges having more discretion than in most other states.  That’s because in Massachusetts all property is part of the marital estate subject to division by the court including premarital property, gifts, and inheritances.  Many states carve these types of assets out of the marital estate, but in Massachusetts we give judge’s more authority to determine an equitable or fair result.

Massachusetts divorce law is quite sophisticated.  We live in a community of highly intelligent, hardworking, family-focused individuals who for many can’t avoid the realty of the breakdown of a marriage.  There will always be an element of loss associated with divorce and that comes with a grieving period.  But, when properly educated on divorce law and with the right counsel and support, more parties can and do move on to a better life.  So, if you’re facing divorce and living in our community, don’t be afraid of the issues.  While you may not want to discuss it over drinks at Adiamo’s or while the kids circle you at Gelato, there are plenty of Newburyport divorce lawyers, including me, who will help you through the process.

 

Emergency Funds: Preparing for the Unexpected

By Steve Blanchette, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
President of Blanchette Financial Group, Steve is a CFP®, AIF® offering tremendous experience with all aspects of financial planning and wealth management.
Blanchette Financial Group
Blanchette Financial, Newburyport MA

You’ve probably heard how important it is to establish and maintain an emergency fund. Unfortunately, most people don’t fully realize this until a money emergency is upon them. Are you financially prepared for a leaky roof? How about a broken-down car? If you lost your job, how long would you be able to support yourself and your family until you got a new one?

An emergency fund is money that you’ve set aside for these unexpected situations, be it to handle a minor home repair or to pay for something more serious, like medical bills. Despite the clear importance of having an emergency fund, however, more than three in five Americans have accumulated no savings for unforeseen expenses, according to a recent Bankrate report.

Set a goal
How much you need to save depends on a variety of factors. Generally speaking, your emergency fund should cover three to six months of living expenses. (Start with three months and aim to work your way up to six months.)

There are plenty of free online tools that can help you figure out how much you should have on hand. HelloWallet’s emergency savings calculator, for example, offers instant insight into this planning consideration.

Keep your funds accessible
It’s important to have easy access to your emergency fund when you need it. Consider keeping a portion of your money in a regular savings account, as it will provide some return and you’ll be able to withdraw it at any time without penalty. For longer-term funding, you might want to use a savings vehicle with higher interest, such as a certificate of deposit (CD) or multiple CDs.

Avoid savings pitfalls 
Naturally, there may be obstacles to overcome as you build your emergency fund. Take a look at some of the most common pitfalls and ways to avoid them:

  • Using your credit card as an emergency fund. Although credit cards are convenient, there is a lot to consider before turning to plastic. Using your credit card may resolve the immediate need, but when you consider interest on the debt and possible penalties, it may not be worth it in the long run.
  • Cheating other accounts to fund your emergency stash. Withdrawing money allocated to other resources, particularly your retirement savings account, can do long-term damage to your financial picture. For example, if you borrow from your retirement account and default on the loan, you could face serious tax implications and penalties. Think of it this way: taking cash out of your retirement account is like stealing from yourself in your golden years.
  • Thinking you can’t afford it. The most common excuse for not maintaining an emergency fund is that you don’t make enough money to save. Although your budget may be tight, you don’t need to put away hundreds or thousands of dollars all at once. Starting small works just as well. Try brewing your morning coffee at home instead of buying it or bringing a bag lunch to work instead of going out. The savings may not be dramatic initially, but they will add up.

Start today!
Establish your savings goal, figure out how much money you need to put away every month, and stick to the plan. Remember: it’s better to have an emergency fund and never use it than to face hard times with no means to support yourself and your family.

Certificates of deposit (CDs) typically offer a fixed rate of return if held to maturity, are generally insured by the FDIC or another government agency, and may impose a penalty for early withdrawal.

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.

© 2015 Commonwealth Financial Network®

Secure Your Dream Home By Being Prepared

By Bob Pezzella, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Why Bob Pezzella for your mortgage needs? Because my 19 years of lending experience coupled with the lending powerhouse that is Residential Mortgage Services, Inc. (RMS) we will streamline your mortgage and home buying process. After the crazy rate fluctuations of the late 1990s through the tumultuous 2000’s first decade and beyond I have navigated the mortgage process every step of the way for my clients. I pride myself on a thorough, consultative approach to understanding customer needs and goals and match your criteria with the parameters of available down payment monies and income level. Whether it makes sense to make a smaller or larger down payment, help raise a credit score, or pay off / refinance current debt, I will find the mortgage solution that is right for you. I will help you evaluate the array of mortgage options from the traditional 30-year fixed rate, through the various state housing programs to the government programs FHA, VA, USDA and together Residential Mortgage Services, Inc. (RMS) and I will guide you home!
Residential Mortgage Services, Inc.
Being Prepared with Residential Mortgage Services, Newburyport

Be prepared! A truly great motto, not only for the Boy Scouts of America, but also for anyone embarking on today’s new mortgage process. Through my own quest for Eagle Scout, the many rigors of the high school and college years, and on to gainful employment, marriage and raising a family, “being prepared” has always been a cornerstone of my life. If you’re beginning today’s mortgage process either as a first time buyer or as an experienced homeowner, I cannot stress this old motto enough!

The first step in getting prepared for your new mortgage is going through the “pre-qualification” process with your loan officer. Don’t wait until you are excited at an open house and want to make an offer on a new home or until you have the “for sale” sign on the home you are selling. Get organized well in advance!

My pre-qualification typically begins with a 10-minute phone interview. Here I gather all of the pertinent personal and employment/assets information so that I can be organized and efficient in our follow-up face-to-face meeting. In terms of your preparedness, we are going to want to assess two factors as soon as possible: your goal for a comfortable, affordable monthly mortgage payment and a thorough review of your current credit report.

Many people compare the amount of their present rent payment as a benchmark for a comfortable, affordable mortgage payment. The mortgage industry considers PITI or PITIMI (principal & interest, insurance, taxes, mortgage insurance and also condo fee if applicable) as “total monthly payment”. Utilities, cable, credit card, auto, student loans etc. are not a part of this figure but are obviously a part of your total budget. If you are living with family and do not pay rent or if you have a mortgage and are selling your current house I highly recommend giving this concept of “comfortable affordable monthly payment” some serious consideration. If you study your budget and arrive at “your monthly payment” then we can more effectively target a purchase price point that you should be shopping for.  This really maximizes your time and helps you not to over-extend yourself with a monthly mortgage payment.

The second step for your initial preparedness is a thorough evaluation of your current credit report. Today’s mortgage rates are tied to your credit or FICO score. Credit scores are tiered, for example 680-700, 700-720, 720-740 etc. and a score of 740 or higher helps you to qualify for the best interest rate. If you are near a tier cut-off there might be simple steps you can take to improve your score and help yourself to qualify for a better interest rate.  It’s also important to evaluate your credit beforehand because you may have errors on your report, trade lines that are in dispute, old medical or other collections, or even authorized use of a family member’s credit card that has a high monthly payment or late notice damaging both the amount of mortgage you may qualify for and your interest rate. If you have student loans that are in deferment these inevitable monthly payments have to be calculated as future debt. Many of these situations require your attention and can take a substantial amount of time to resolve.  If you take the time to be prepared you will get off to a much better start to your mortgage process and really enable yourself to focus on what’s most important – your beautiful new home!

Next time I’ll talk about down payments and sourcing funds, two other areas that compliment good home-buying preparation!

 

Finding the Best Agent Just Got Easier

By Robert Bentley, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
CEO/Owner & Residential/Commercial Sales Specialist for Bentley's, Robert has been the #1 agent in the Greater Newburyport market for the past six years. Robert's success is due to his dominance with on-line real estate marketing, strong negotiation skills, and good old fashioned work ethic. Robert has a strong sales, marketing, and finance background and always does what is necessary to get the deal done, and make his clients happy. Experience and proven reputation are key when you are making the largest financial transaction of a life time.
Robert Bentley
Finding the best agent just got easier, Newburyport MA

Finding the best agent just got easier.  In partnership with Zillow and Trulia, RealTrends.Com is a national site that provides rankings of Real Estate Agent performance.  They have been tracking Real Estate Agent performance at the agent, team, and brokerage level for the past eight years and provide consumers the data necessary to make an educated decision.

Buying and selling a home is typically one of the largest financial transactions you will make in your life time.  Therefore it is critical to choose a local experienced agent with a proven track record.  Do you purchase or sell a car without checking ratings websites?  Almost all people research properties online, but researching agents is also an important part of the equation.  You need someone you can count on to get the job done.

In real estate, like many other fields, the more transactions an agent has done, the more capable they are of effectively advising their clients.  At the end of the day, you don’t need a new best friend, you need someone with extensive knowledge and experience, which directly correlates with sales performance.

S Corporation Advantages and Disadvantages

By Michael Capo, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
President of Michael Capo CPA, P.C. Mike has over 25 years of accounting and finance experience in corporate, individual, independent and government environments. Mike's extensive knowledge is invaluable to his clients and allows him to provide a consultative approach personalized to each of his business and personal tax clients.
S Corporation Advantages, Michael Capo, Newburyport

What are S Corporation advantages and disadvantages?  Frequently, this question arises whenever a client is just starting a business, or has been operating as a sole proprietor and may be wondering about the tax advantages of incorporating as an S Corporation.  Also, many clients assume it will be too costly or time-consuming to incorporate—but neither is the case.  The following is a brief outline and comparison of an S Corporation advantages and disadvantages.  However, please feel free to set up a consultation to discuss your specific business opportunity needs and whether or not an S Corporation is right for you.

What is an S corporation?

Essentially, an S corporation is a corporation that is treated, for federal tax purposes, as a pass-through entity through an election made with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to be considered an S Corporation. What does that mean?

As a corporation, an S corporation is created through filing Articles of Incorporation with the Mass. Secretary of State. It issues stock and is governed as a corporation. The owners, who are called shareholders, have the same protection from liability as shareholders of a C Corporation.  An S corporation shareholder’s personal assets, such as personal bank accounts, cannot be seized to satisfy business liabilities.

However, like a sole proprietor or a partnership, an S corporation passes through its income and loss items to the shareholders. Unlike a regular corporation, there is no “double taxation,” once at the corporate level and again on the individual shareholder level. Each shareholder is subject to his or her own individual tax rate on the income (or losses) passed through to him or her at year-end. The following are S Corporation advantages and disadvantages to consider.

S corporation advantages

The advantages of an S corporation often outweigh any perceived disadvantages. The S corporation structure can be especially beneficial when it comes time to transfer ownership or discontinue the business. These advantages are typically unavailable to sole proprietors and general partnerships. S corporation advantages include:

  • Protected assets. An S corporation protects the personal assets of its shareholders. A shareholder is not personally responsible for the business debts and liabilities of the corporation as long as there is no personal guarantee. Creditors cannot pursue the personal assets (house, bank accounts, etc.) of the shareholders to pay business debts. In a sole proprietor or general partnership, owners and the business are legally considered the same—leaving personal assets vulnerable.
  • Pass-through taxation. An S corporation does not pay federal taxes at the corporate level.  Any business income or loss is “passed through” to shareholders who report it on their personal income tax returns. This means that business losses can offset other income on the shareholders’ tax returns. This can be extremely helpful in the startup phase of a new business.
  • Tax-favorable characterization of income. S corporation shareholders can be employees of the business and draw salaries as employees. They can also receive distributions from the corporation that are tax-free to the extent of their investment (basis) in the corporation. A reasonable characterization of distributions as salary or dividends can help the owner reduce self-employment tax liability, while still generating business expenses and wages paid deductions for the corporation.  This is one of the major advantages why an S Corporation is preferred by most privately owned businesses.
  • Straightforward transfer of ownership. Interests in an S corporation can be freely transferred without triggering adverse tax consequences. (In a partnership or an LLC, the transfer of more than a 50-percent interest can trigger the termination of the entity.) The S corporation does not need to make adjustments to property basis or comply with complicated accounting rules when an ownership interest is transferred.

S corporation disadvantages

An S corporation may have some potential disadvantages, including:

  • Formation and ongoing expenses. To operate as an S corporation, it is necessary to first incorporate the business by filing Articles of Incorporation with the Mass. Secretary of State and pay the appropriate fees. Massachusetts also imposes ongoing yearly fees, such as an annual report and excise tax fees. Although these fees usually are not expensive, and can be deducted as a cost of doing business, they are expenses that a sole proprietor or general partnership will not incur.
  • Stock ownership restrictions. An S corporation can have only one class of stock, although it can have both voting and non-voting shares. Therefore, there can’t be different classes of investors who are entitled to different dividends or distribution rights. Also, there cannot be more than 100 shareholders. Foreign ownership is prohibited, as is ownership by certain types of trusts and other entities. Typically, this is not an issue with locally private owned businesses.
  • Closer IRS scrutiny. Because amounts distributed to a shareholder can be dividends or salary, the IRS scrutinizes payments to make sure the characterization conforms to reality. As a result, dividends may be re-characterized as wages, which subjects the corporation to employment tax liability.  This is one particular area that needs to be discussed in great lengths to assure that a shareholder is taking the proper amount of salary.
  • Less flexibility in allocating income and loss. Because of the one class of stock restriction, an S corporation cannot easily allocate losses or income to specific shareholders. Allocation of income and loss is governed by the percentage of stock ownership, unlike a partnership or LLC where the allocation can be set in the operating agreement.

If you are interested in further exploring S Corporation advantages and disadvantages in regards to your specific business, contact the offices of Michael Capo, CPA. P.C. to schedule a meeting, 978-499-4300.

Planning a Home Addition in Newburyport

By Greg Greene, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Owner of Greene Construction LLC based in Newburyport, MA. Greg began working in construction while finishing college, and decided he loved the creativity of finding solutions to give homeowners what they want and need. With more than 25 years in remodeling and custom home building, Greg loves what he does, and the community where he lives and works. He enjoys meeting with clients in their home or one of the Newburyport hotspots like Plum Island Coffee Roasters or Mission Oak Grill (awesome food). You can learn more about Greg’s varied projects at NewburyportBuilder.com.
Greene Construction
Planning A Home Addition, Greene Construction, Newburyport MA

Have you outgrown your home but don’t want to move? Building an addition may be the right choice for you, especially if you love your neighborhood. Building a home addition not only adds to the value of your home, it will make it more desirable to buyers when you are willing to give up your 01950 zip code.

In general, home additions have a good Return On Investment (ROI) and the longer you stay in your house, the more likely you are to recoup your costs. Couple that with the benefits of the added living space and you also get what I call “Return On Enjoyment” (ROE) and who doesn’t deserve ROE these days? Also important is the size of the addition, because that plays a huge role in the cost: the more you build, the less it costs per square foot.

Additions come in many shapes and sizes, but the most popular is a garage addition with a Master Bedroom Suite with spa-like bath above. Here’s a step by step process to help you with planning a home addition.

6 Steps for Planning a Home Addition

  1. First, research home values in your community – unless you want your house to be the white elephant on the block
  2. Next review the latest Cost vs Value report to familiarize yourself with average costs to build an addition
  3. Then set a budget for your project and decide how you’re going to finance it (home equity loan, refinance or savings)
  4. Consider possible timetables and whether you’ll remain in your home during the construction
  5. Communicate with the Planning Board to learn what local zoning regulations will affect the design of your addition
  6. Vet and hire your builder and architect early, so you’re all on starting from and working on the same page right from the start

You can learn more about the design build process on our website.

Prices Adjust with Increased Newburyport Housing Inventory

By Robert Bentley, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
CEO/Owner & Residential/Commercial Sales Specialist for Bentley's, Robert has been the #1 agent in the Greater Newburyport market for the past six years. Robert's success is due to his dominance with on-line real estate marketing, strong negotiation skills, and good old fashioned work ethic. Robert has a strong sales, marketing, and finance background and always does what is necessary to get the deal done, and make his clients happy. Experience and proven reputation are key when you are making the largest financial transaction of a life time.
Robert Bentley
Bentley's Real Estate, Newburyport MA

The Newburyport real estate market remains strong, but prices adjust with increased Newburyport housing inventory for the summer months, and Fall is starting to look the same.  The area saw premium pricing during the Winter months due to the low inventory but the Spring and Summer markets have provided buyers with many more options.  Properties in the mid and lower tier price points are selling as long as they are priced appropriately.  The upper tier housing market is not moving as quickly but again, the properties with realistic price points are selling.

Although we see some fluctuation in inventory and price points, the overall demand for Newburyport is strong.  The thriving downtown has so much to offer.  Newburyport serves as the hub for other North Shore and Southern NH towns with many great restaurants and shops and it’s beautiful views along the Merrimack River and close proximity to the beach.  The schools are strong as well with Newburyport High School just being ranked 253rd in News Weeks 2015 annual top 500 high school ranking and only one of 19 in Massachusetts.

If you are looking  to move to Newburyport, now is the time and if you are already a resident, it is highly likely that you have made a great long term investment by purchasing property in Newburyport. Contact Robert Bentley of Bentley’s to find out how much your Newburyport home is worth in today’s Newburyport MA Real Estate market.

Newburyport has become a top town on the Massachusetts North Shore, so when folks learn they are relocating here they first look to learn about this great community.  “Home Buyers are increasingly researching community first and not Real Estate as quality of life, schools, active lifestyle all remain large considerations to the home buying process” says Robert Bentley, Boston Power Player and the top agent in Greater Newburyport.

“We are seeing increased traffic on Newburyport.com and soon will have Newburyport Home Search built directly on the site’s real estate page that will allow visitors complete and direct access to MLS home for sale data updated real time.” Excitement for the value of Newburyport Real Estate remains high and inventory comes and goes, so working with a top local agent is critical to the Newburyport Home Search.  Reach out to Robert Bentley anytime with questions @ 781.858.5115.

 

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