Monday, September 20, 2010

Nip the Tip

So, a big decision each family needs to make when having kids is "If I have a boy, should I get him circumcised?". Even if you know you're having a girl, sometimes they make mistakes and this is something you should do your homework on before having your child. We are going to be surprised on the gender so need to do our homework.

Our main priorities (probably in order of importance) as we make decisions related to our child are:

1) The child's long-term health & well-being
2) Minimize the stress & pain inflicted on the baby
3) Take a natural approach

While this shouldn't be something to consider, you wouldn't want to child to be the 'odd ball' without a good reason. That being said, I was really surpised to learn there has recently been a big decline in United States with the number of circumcision's performed. Many European countries have a less than 20% rate.

"Just 32.5 percent in 2009 from 56 percent in 2006" -

Another great resource with tons of information is Wikipedia (obviously, take it with a grain of salt and check the resources). and

With regards to the health and well being of the child, all of my reading leads to believe that the impact of not having versus having a circumcision are fairly negligible. There is either contradictory evidence or the risk factor is very minimal and there are other, more effective means of control which do not require the procedure. Complications of the procedure did sound minimal as well though.

That leads us to the "hippie" viewpoint of remaining natural. There are lots of ethical questions about the child not having a choice, inflicting pain on the child for what appears to be trivial or ritual reasons, etc. The fact is though it's a part of their body and without a good reason to remove it, it seems that it should stay a part of their body. There are other parts of our bodies which have more sound scientific evidence supporting the lack of necessity for that part or the higher health risks which warrants removing the body part. A great example, though not the only, of this is the Tonsils (though even that has opposing viewpoints and evidence).

While this will ultimately boil down to a personal decision that my wife and I make, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic or what decision you made and why. This is a topic people shouldn't be bashful about discussing. There's a lot of you who's input I highly value and respect, and hopefully the responses from the rest of you will be amusing. =)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mirchies Indian Eatery

Just did a write up on Mirchies Indian Eatery on my Lake Lotawana Blog

Very tasty place in Lee's Summit by a fellow ex-Cerner person that some of you know, Naveen! Anyways, definitely recommend you check it out and tell your friends. It's always hard to get the word out early on for something new, local, and original.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Planning Ahead When Selling Your Home

As per suggestion of a reader & Facebook Fan Dani we've decided to address the topic of "I'm probably going to sell my house next year, what can I do to start preparing?".

This is a great topic, because even though it might seem like there isn't much to do, there is plenty! Also, many people often begin discussing the sale of their home long before actually putting it on the market. Hopefully this article will help those still discussing as well as those who are just waiting for their planned timeline.

So, what's the first thing you should do when thinking about selling your house? Talk to anyone else involved!!! :) That's right. Ensure that your spouse, business partner, etc. is on the same page. It's possible the topic was mentioned in passing once and one person ran with the other idea and the other one just thought it was hypothetical. It's very important when dealing with big decisions like this, and before wasting time and effort, to ensure everyone is on the same page!

So now everyone is on the same page, the next steps don't really need to occur in order:

Talk to your Realtor. This may seem too early, but there are a couple of things you can ask your Realtor for even at this point.

One is a Market Analysis of what your house is currently worth. While this may change in a years time (and probably will) it will at least give you a rough idea. It maybe that your house has depreciated to the point where selling is no longer an option or it maybe that it's appreciated so much that you'd like to sell ASAP. Let's all hope it's the latter.

Another is to get information on your neighborhood. Most Realtors should be able to set you up with an automatic search to get weekly notifications of what's going on (new listings, prices changes, etc.) in your neighborhood. This will help you be familiar with the current market conditions. If there's 20 other houses for sale it might not be a good time to get yours listed (unless you can list it down near the bottom of that range).

Last thing I'll mention on this point is current trends. While these can also change in a year, what is it that buyer's are looking for? What are the current priorities? Maybe there will be some small projects you could do in your house that will make a big difference. Having a year to get them done instead of a month will help you a ton.

Re-prioritize and finish your TODO list. Everyone has one, if it's not on paper then it's in your head taking up mental space and causing stress! Write it down. Take a good look at it. What on that list will make your house sell quicker? What is just stuff that you would like? The latter should no longer be a priority or even on the list if you're really going to move in a year.

Now, walk around your house inside and outside. Are you sure you got everything on the list that should be done? Not the 'we'd like to do this' stuff, but the 'man, my yard looks really bad because of this' type stuff.

Once you've got the list re-prioritized and probably comprehensive, start tackling it. Try to get to one project a month. There's a good chance just one weekend a month (or even just a week night here and there) you'd be able to get a ton of stuff done! For some people, this won't be a big list, if so, congrats!

Lastly, start de-cluttering. This is imperative during staging and I think you'll be surprised how much it can help you clear your mind by having less clutter around also. Have a wall full of picture frames? Consider taking half of them down. Have a shelf full of nick-nacks? Would 1/3 of them be okay? Box it all up and put it in a storage area (closet under the stairs, attic of the garage, where-ever). This really can take some time and by tackling it earlier you're going to make your task of getting your house ready for market that much easier. As a side note, I'd suggest clearly labeling these boxes. When you do sell your home and move, take a hard think if you really missed any of the stuff over the year. If you didn't, maybe it's time to unload some of it and have a light start in your new home!

This is not an all inclusive list, just some ideas to get you going. Hopefully they'll keep you busy enough! I'd love to hear suggestions from our readers, what would you do?

Friday, May 14, 2010

NBC Cancels Heroes

TV shows are another thing you won't often find me blogging about as we really don't watch much TV at home. We get movies from the library (hey, they're free!) and do watch an occasional thing on the Internet, but there really isn't much we looked forward to.

Heroes was one of the few (not even a few really) that we actually followed. Now what are we going to watch?

Update: Sounds like NBC is trying to find a way to wrap-up the show, but still disappointing.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Elana Kagan vs David Mitchell

I tend not to blog about politics, but I just couldn't pass this up. You may have recently read about Obama's nomination of Elana Kagan for Supreme Court Justice. If you haven't here's a quick video on it:

But more importantly, has anyone noticed the striking similarity of Elana Kagan to English Comedian David Mitchell. Now, I think David Mitchell's work is brilliant, but I'm not familiar with Elana Kagan's work.

What are your thoughts on all of this? Is David Mitchell simply trying to infiltrate the mainstream in America? If so, this is an interesting tactic and seems to have taken years of effort to develop. Well done I say.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cell Phone on the Cheap

So, my wife and I are frugal. Not ridiculously to the point we won't go out and eat or hit up a bar with friends on occassion, but we're frugal and we enjoy it. The less money we spend, the less money we have to make, the more we get to enjoy life. It really is that simple.

Cell (mobile, in German 'handi') phones are one bill we all have in our lives that we did not have 15 years ago. It's an unfortunate necessity considering this fact. For most people though, it is a necessity and it is handy to have one in case of emergency even if you don't use it very often. I had to have one for work (tax deduction), but my wife probably would have rather gone without one. We did end up both getting them, but we took a different approach that a lot of people don't even consider.

We went the route of prepay phones.

How much do you pay for your cell every month? No, not how much is your plan, what is the total cost with taxes, surchages, etc. Let's assume it's $50 for an easy example (though, it's probably more, isn't it?). Every single month you pay that to them. Now, take that times 12 and you're looking at roughly $600 a year. That's a nice chunk of change.

How do prepay phones help with this? Two ways: One is that you don't have a monthly bill, you buy new cards as you need them. Two is that you can buy the cards online, tax free, usually at less than value price.

On the first point. Look at your cell phone bill, how many minutes do you use in a month? I have a T-Mobile phone, there are others, but I'll use their information for this point. Let's assume it's 300 minutes. Now, that might be really low compared to what you use, but if you used a prepay phone you might pick up the desk phone at your work a little more often. With T-Mobile they have several pay options, I prefer the $100 card for 1,000 minutes because it doesn't expire for 12 months. That means you would buy a new card roughly every 3 months, or $400 a year. Right there is a savings of $200 in this example (most cases will probably save more).

But then comes the second point. I don't pay $100 for the $100 card. In fact I just bought 2 (one for me and my wife) from (formerly With no taxes, and 10% off with the discount code 'ecoupon88' (or 7% with 'everyday') I only spent $90 a card. This would mean an annual savings of $240 in our example.

A prepay phone is not for everyone, but give it some thought. You might have to give up your snazzy iphone or andriod and you'll probably text less often, but you can save some serious money and you can step away from your phone more often, both leading you to live in the moment much more often.

What approach have other you taken or what experience have you had with prepay phones?

TIP: If you find yourself using up minutes on customer service calls because you don't have a home phone, try Google Voice or Skype.

TIP: With T-Mobile cards when you get your next card, your current balance rolls over into the next expiration period.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Remodeling & Roleplaying

I'm not talking about our house, though we are doing a lot of work on it. I'm talking about my website,

This site is more of a portal, than a full fledged website on its own, to the different sites of mine and the different roles I play. This blog is the amalgamation of those persona and that site is the portal to them.
If you think about it, we all play a lot of roles in our lives, but what defines us? Just because you work in Real Estate does that mean you are a Realtor? Just because you work as a Nurse that mean you are a Nurse? Well yes, and no.

A great quote I've used on my site is:
Remind Yourself: I am a human being before anything else. -Frank Chimero
We can all get caught up in titles. When you meet a stranger it's easy to just ask "so, what do you do?". That tells us some about the person, but what we do at a job isn't who we are, only a reflection. It's very similar, if not the same, as stereotyping. These roles we play and categorize people into help reduce the amount of thought we have to put into understanding the person.

If you have children, you're a parent. If you live on the streets, you're homeless. It's similar with religious labels: Christian, Atheist, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, etc. Those roles that we play as humans are part of who we are, but first and foremost we are all human. If we all took that a little more to heart and looked at our fellow humans that way I think the world would be a better place. Yeah, I know, sappy.

So, what are you?

Friday, April 23, 2010


A few terms which have picked up steam in the alphabet soup that is real estate lately are HAMP and HAFA.

HAMP -Home Affordable Modification Program

HAMP is an existing program attempting to modify loans to keep people in their current homes. Sometimes even this isn't enough to be able to help a family stay in their home though. As such, HAFA was introduced.

Fannie Mae has made some extensive information available about HAMP.

HAFA - Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives

HAFA officially began on April 5, 2010 and ends December 31, 2012. This is a program designed by the Treasury Department to try to reduce foreclosure by providing incentives to help move short sales along or to complete a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. Any lender participating in HAMP is required to participate in HAFA.

Some examples of the incentives are:
  • $3,000 for borrowers to help with relocation costs
  • $1,500 to loan companies to help process the transaction
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has published an FAQ about HAFA.

It's not pleasant to find yourself in a situation where you need to ask for help, but these and other programs are out there. Make sure to contact your local Realtor to see if they can help you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Roll 401k into Roth IRA

When changing employers, as I did last year, it's important to look at not just the short-term impacts but also the long-term. One of the most important of these is the retirement fund that you've been contributing all of your hard-earned money into. Typically this is a 401k, and it was in my case, so that's what I'll be writing about.

When breaking up with your employer you have various options on what to do with your retirement fund and these can vary by employer. In my case the funds have been sitting there held by the same company and growing without contributions. But it's decision time on if I just want to leave them there or not.

This forced me to look at the differences between a Roth and non-Roth accounts. There's a ton of information about these online so I'll just sum up my interpretation of it:

Roth accounts are post-tax instead of pre-tax. This means you pay taxes on the money now, and then move it to your retirement fund and do not have to pay taxes on it or your gains when you pull it out. While the tax defer is a benefit, especially if it saves you a tax bracket, that's all it is - a deferral. When you withdraw from your non-Roth 401k or IRA you'll have to pay taxes on a sum that's much larger than it was and in the future, what are the odds the tax rates will be higher then? I'd say pretty good. As such, going the Roth route seems like a no-brainer to me.

There's an added benefit in 2010 with your conversion to a Roth. You can defer the taxes so that you don't get dinged as hard during your conversion. This potentially helps prevent you from having to withdraw (and get penalized) from your funds to pay the taxes on them. For 2010 you'll be able to defer paying any taxes and then 50% of your funds are taxed on 2011 and the other 50% on 2012.

Talk to a professional to ensure you get this done right. I haven't done this yet, so look forward to more blogs about this as well as my journey into what is known as a self-directed Roth IRA. This gives you much more investing options and puts you in the driver seat. Not for everyone, but I'm excited about it and sharing that experience.

I'm curious what others have done when they've changed employers. Please share below and maybe we can pick some tricks up from each other!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Google Thinks My Wife is Crazy

So, after we realized we were pregnant I thought it'd be fun to do a little reading online about what to expect. I was amused to find what out what Google thought I'd be searching for:

It would appear that statistically my wife does not fall into the Google expected norm of 'crazy'. Actually things have been pretty smooth so far in the pregnancy and hopefully it stays that way for her. We're almost at the 10 week mark and from what we've read a lot of the morning sickness occurs in the first trimester if at all. Apparently only about 30% of women actually throw-up from morning sickness during pregnancy but obviously that's not what we hear about on TV and in the media.

At least one fourth of all pregnancies do not involve morning sickness. Approximately 50 to 75 % of pregnant women experience a period in early pregnancy with nausea, and about 30% also experience vomiting. - WikiAnswers

We've got our next Doctor's appointment a little before 12 weeks and hope to find out everything is going well and to continue to learn more about this life-changing journey that we're on!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'm Pregnant

Okay, well that's not exactly the truth. Seeing as I'm a male and don't have the appropriate parts. But my wife is pregnant! So, we like to say we're pregnant, which means I would be pregnant too...anyways, enough of that ramble.

We're just getting started on our 10th week and everything looks good so far! We're very excited about having our first child. There's a lot to be scared about (will we be good parents, how disgusting will changing diapers be, etc.) but a lot to be excited about too.

There are a ton of outstanding questions we have, but so far the outpour of support from friends and family has been wonderful. What advice do you have for a first time parent? What would you like to see me write about with regards to this topic?

Thanks everyone for the warm wishes we've received so far!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kansas City and Google - Think Big to Get a Gig

By now many of you have probably heard about Google's plan to launch high speed Internet access in communities based on applications from communities. For more information check out Google's page:

Kansas City, MO and several big and small cities around the United States have entered into this "contest" to try and secure this for their community. This has countless positive implications to any city who is able to secure this opportunity. View more information about Kansas City's appeal here:

Immediately people can summon up numerous reasons why their city is the right city. The problem with this is that there are going to be other cities applying who are able to make those same claims. While we like to think of our own city as special, there are many cities with a couple of large employers, lots of small business, hospitals, universities, etc.

So what truly could make Kansas City, MO rise up above other applicants? Well, what is Google and this project all about? It's about connectivity, sharing ideas, working together, and taking things to the next level. How can Kansas City do that? Well, connect with other KC Metro cities, share our resources and ideas, collaborate on the application process, take it to the next level and apply as a region.

The Kansas City I live in is so much more than KC MO (I actually now live in Lake Lotawana). It's Gladstone, Parkville, Liberty, Overland Park, Shawnee, KC KS, and so on. What makes Kansas City great isn't a single city it's the diversity and interactivity of so many great cities across two states. If any of these cities were to win this bid we would all benefit from it, so why compete? Why not join together, I mean how amazing would it be for Google to not just put a dot on Google Maps for where their broadband networks are available, but to encircle the entire Midwest region that is the KC Metropolitan Area (

Let's think big to get a gig.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Home Brewing Beer: After [Part 3]

Well, we're all done and it tastes good!

After 1 week of aging my brew I transferred it into a 5 gallon glass carboy for a secondary fermentation. For this batch it was an unnecessary step but on any brews which take longer it's necessary to separate the spent yeast. When doing this, but careful not to agitate the liquid or to pick up any of the byproduct on the bottom of your primary fermenter. While this wasn't necessary for my brew it does help improve the clarity of the finished product. Remember to cap with a plastic airlock which has been half filled with vodka to help sanitize.

After another week in the secondary fermenter we were ready for bottling! Again, make sure to sanitize anything that will touch the beer, including your bottles. I had an assortment of various bottles, 12 oz, 22 oz, 26 oz, and 3 growlers (mine are from the Parkville Power Plant - now closed). The larger the bottles the less work for you. This means I was using normal bottle caps and a capper for most of the bottles. For the growlers I still had the reusable caps but one was missing the plastic seal on the inside. Without this plastic seal your beer will be flat (as mine was in that one growler)!

Make sure to take a gravity reading at this stage as you can use it with your original gravity to determine the alcohol volume of your brew. I think in my initial reading there was too much oxygen in the water and that skewed the result. This beer probably ended up around 4%.

Now it's time to bottle. Before doing so we added our priming sugar. About 3/4 cup of sugar was added to 1 cup of boiling water. This was added to our bottling bucket and then we siphoned the beer out of the carboy and into the bottling bucket. Once the bottling bucket was full we used an auto siphon pump and a spring loaded bottle filler which made this task relatively easy.

Once done with bottling, like a good home brewer we cleaned out any of the used equipment and stashed it away for next time. Speaking of, I need to get around to brewing the Oatmeal Stout kit I ordered!

After bottling, the beer will need about 2 weeks to bottle condition. Bottle conditioning is where the carbonation comes from. When we sampled the beer prior to bottling it was obvious that it was flat (though still tasty). By adding the priming sugar the yeast will now have something to eat but since we've tightly sealed the bottles the carbon dioxide is unable to escape. This is what carbonates the beer!

The last step of this lengthy but enjoyable process came about 1 month after brew day. That was popping open a bottle, hearing the sound of the carbonate, pouring the beer into a glass, and then proceeding to consume the delicious nectar.

I'm looking forward to my next batch! If you want to try my first batch of the Irish Red Ale, invite yourself over before it's all gone. Cheers.

UPDATE: Posted a video of me capping a beer bottle and the finished product carbonating away. Enjoy

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Home Brewing Beer: During [Part 2]

So, now that you've done your preparations you're ready for your big Brew Day! As a disclaimer, please correct me if I've used any terminology wrong and I'll amend the post. This is my first batch after all, I'm a home brew noob. Thanks!

For my first brew day I was lucky enough to have two experienced brewers come over and help (and bring some equipment I don't yet have). Another friend brought over a ton of Rogue beer to help us ensure that the day was enjoyable. I can understand wanting to try your first batch on your own and in privacy (I mean, what happens if I did it wrong and this sucks!) but I strongly suggest involving others in the process. It will be that much more enjoyable and we all make mistakes.

So, as we popped our first top things got underway. Remember that every recipe can be a little different but this should give you a good feel for the process. As mentioned in Part 1 I was brewing an Irish Red Ale from Midwest.

1) First we had to sanitize the equipment. This is very important as any unwanted substances that get into your beer can ruin your batch. Anything that touches the beer should be sanitized, preferable right before you use it.

2) Next we added a couple of gallons of water to our pot. We added as much as we could but tried to leave enough room at the top for a rolling boil and everything else we had to add later. The water was then headed up to 155 (we actually went too high and had to cool it back down) and then the crushed barley grains (in a bag) were steeped similiar to steeping a cup of tea. This adds color and flavor to the brew. After 30 minutes we pulled it off the burner for another 10 minutes of steeping.

3) After steeping the grains we added the liquid malt extract. This was slowly poured into the water while stirring to keep it from getting scorched on the bottom of the pot. Liquid malt extract is commonly used by home brewers and can save a lot of time from the brew process. If malt extract (dry or liquid) is not used then the brewer has to Mash the grains in order to get to the same result. This is commonly referred to as brewing "all-grain". Regardless of using all-grain or malt extract the end result is sugars which are later broken down by the yeast to create alcohol. Since I didn't mash I won't go into any details on this topic.

4) Now that we have our mash (with the addition of the malt extract) we brought the pot back to a boil. As soon as it began boiling we added our Cascade Hops (in a bag) to steep similar to the barley grains. There's a lot of history to the usage of Hops in beer but most brewers today use it for bittering and/or aroma. We let this boil for 60 minutes, adding some irish moss (to help clear the beer, not neccessary) at 45 minutes and Fuggle Hops at 58 minutes for aroma.

5) Now that we had our wort (pronounced wert) it needed to be cooled quickly. This is where the borrowed equipment came in as my friend had brought his Wort Chiller. We flushed cold water through the copper tubing and quickly brought the wort down to about 80 degrees.

6) The cooled wort was then poured into the initial fermenting bucket. I poured it quickly and moved it around when pouring to aerate the wort. This is necessary for the yeast. I also left a little bit at the bottom of the pot where you could see sediment. Then the bucket was filled up (leaving room at the top) with some additional luke-warm water so that we had about 5 gallons. This was also done to aerate the wort.

7) Before closing the bucket you should take a reading with your hydrometer to determine the specific gravity. This tells you how much sugar is in the water which can then be used to calculate the alcohol content (since the yeast eating the sugar is what produces this) once you have a final gravity reading. Make sure to sanitize anything that will touch the brew!

8) Now I took the packet of yeast and sprinkled it over the top of the wort. Then we placed we placed the sanitized lid on the bucket and after filling the plastic airlock half full of gin (vodka is often used, we didn't have any - helps to disinfect) we popped it into the hole in the bucket. The yeast will eat the sugars, causing fermentation. In feasting on the sugar the yeast has two byproducts. The first is alcohol, yay! The second is carbon dioxide which will flow out through the airlock.

9) The last thing to do was to tuck the bucket away in a spot where it'd keep around 65 degrees Fahrenheit and was dimly lit. Oh, and to keep drinking the other beer.

The next day I could see the airlock bubbling away! A brief video is posted on my YouTube channel! This is a great sign that the yeast is hard at work devouring sugar and leaving behind alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Now, a fairly common question I've gotten is "So, how was the beer?!". Well, we won't know that until about 4 weeks down the line. Different beers take different amounts of time to get to a drinkable state and 4 weeks is pretty minimum. For mine we still have to wait a week and move it to the secondary fermentation in my glass carboy. Then in another week we'll be able to bottle it. Then another two weeks go past before I'm able to enjoy. I'd be happy to have you over for a beer at that time.

You'll be able to hear more about these last steps (particularly enjoying the beer) in about a month when I blog - Home Brewing Beer: After [Part 3].

Home Brewing Beer: Before [Part 1]

As I initially set out on this Blog I'd decided to deviate from standard guidance that a blog should be focused on a subject, lest you'll potentially deter readers. In going against the grain I wanted to focus on 3 big areas of my life, Real Estate, Family (Personal), and Web Development. I've mostly trended on Real Estate so far but that's all been very important information that needed to be in your hands sooner than later. I'm venturing into my first Family/Personal post by introducing you to my new hobby of Home Brewing.

I'm going to break this post up into three pieces to keep the length down: Before, During, After. Also, if I'm going to try to keep this simple for my friends who've never brewed. I'm open to feedback from you professionals but please keep that in mind while reading this blog!

Before brewing my first batch there were a few things I did to help get prepared which you may or may not want to consider.

1) Attend some brew days (where people get together to brew and drink beer) and watch people who knew what they were doing talk about the process. You'll find most people who brew are incredible helpful, knowledgeable, and genuinely interested in getting other people involved in the hobby.

2) Read a book or online articles about home brewing. A book I started on was The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing (because it came with my equipment).

3) Buy home brew equipment! Some thoughts:
  • Try to pick up used to save money if you can, but make sure you're getting quality (that's what I did).
  • Start out small, you can get along without some equipment until you decide to commit to the hobby.
  • Ask other people you know who brew for their opinions and do some research online. The more serious brewers I know recommend staying away from the Mr. Beer Kits. While they are cheaper apparently the quality isn't as good and you're less likely to keep brewing. Here are a couple of kits to look at to get an idea when you start researching: The Home Brewery Equipment Kit and Superior Home Brew Beer Kit.
  • If your equipment doesn't come with sanitizer, buy some. Per recommendation I bought some One Step.
4) Buy an ingredient kit! You don't need to do this if your equipment came with one. You can buy these from a local store or online. Again Mr. Beer has these such as the Mr. Beer St. Patrick's Irish Stout Refill Brew Pack. I ended up buying an Irish Red Ale from Midwest Supplies. I'd heard good things about them from multiple brewers and this was supposed to be a good kit for a first-timer.

Most basic kits will include: Liquid Malt Extract, Roasted Barley Grains, Hops, Yeast, and Sugar. Make sure to read the instructions as you may need to refrigerate the yeast prior to brewing. I'll mention more about these ingredients in the next installment.

Keep an eye out for - Home Brewing Beer: During [Part 2]

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MHDC Free Money

Well, no money is ever really free as someone is paying for it, but why not try to get ahead by taking advantage of opportunities out there like the Stimulus Tax Credit?

MHDC often has different programs in place to benefit buyers (and therefore benefit seller's also!) so make sure to ask your Realtor. For those of you who haven't heard of MHDC it is the Missouri Housing Development Commission and it's homepage is

The major initiatives that I'd like to comment on today is the HOPE initiative. HOPE stands for Home Ownership Purchase Enhancement. This plan was originally announced in November jointly by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Treasurer Clint Zweifel.

The current allotment for this program is $15 million dollars. Sounds like a lot doesn't it? Well the maximum amount an individual can obtain from this program is $1,750 and it's for the entire state of Missouri. This means that at the maximum only 8,571 people can take advantage of it. With an estimated 2009 population of just under 6 million people you can see how this money could go fast (and will probably be used up by the time the Homebuyer Tax Credit expires).

So, what is the $1,750 for? While, it's broken down into two sums. A maximum of $1,250 can be allotted towards real estate taxes and a maximum of $1,750 minus the tax credit amount can be alloted towards energy efficiency improvements.

In order to qualify for these funds the property must be purchased as a primary residence and that residence must be maintained for 1 year. There are also income limits which vary per county.

Here is the link to the official page and more detailed information for the HOPE program:

There are always lots of different programs out there whether at the city, county, state, or federal level. Be sure to speak to someone knowledgeable in your local market to ensure that you are maximizing the potentially programs you can utilize.

If anyone has benefited from this or similar programs I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Homebuyer Tax Credit

Unfortunately my wife and I did not qualify for the tax credit when buying our home in 2009 but we are very jealous of everyone who has been able to take advantage of this great opportunity afforded to you by the federal government.

To some of us, particularly those in the Real Estate business, this may seem like common knowledge. The reality is though that there are many Americans who have little familiarity with what the Homebuyer Tax Credit is and more importantly what it means to them. There's already a lot of information on the Internet so I'll do my best to provide a summary of key points and then some links to more detailed information. If you have any specific questions around the tax implications of your situation make sure to consult your tax person!

This tax credit not only benefits first-time home buyers and qualified move-up buyers but also anyone looking to sell a home that these two audiences might desire. As a seller this is a great opportunity of increased demand to get your home on the market and sold.

As a qualified first-time buyer you would be eligible for up to $8,000 in a tax credit. What is a first-time home buyer?
The law defines “first-time home buyer” as a buyer who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. For married taxpayers, the law tests the homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse. [1]
As a qualified move-up buyer you would be eligible for up to $6,500 in a tax credit. What is a move-up buyer?
The law defines a tax credit qualified move-up home buyer (“long-time resident”) as a person who has owned and resided in the same home for at least five consecutive years of the eight years prior to the purchase date. For married taxpayers, the law tests the homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse.[1]
As a buyer, what do you need to do to take advantage of this tax credit?

    - Find a local Real Estate Agent who is a good fit for you and your needs.
      (This step is optional, but highly recommended.)
    - Start house hunting!
    - Have a contract on a property by April 30, 2010.
    - Close on that property by June 30, 2010.

As a seller, what do you need to do to take advantage of this tax credit?

    - Find a local Real Estate Agent who is a good fit for you and your needs.
      (This step is optional, but highly recommended.)
    - Get your house on the market ASAP!
    - Have a contract on a property by April 30, 2010.
    - Close on that property by June 30, 2010.

So, have you been able to take advantage of the tax credit? Why do you think you should or shouldn't take advantage of the credit?

For any of you who were familiar with the prior tax credit here is a table with some of the differences from the initial tax credit and the now extended and expanded tax credit:

[1] This website has extensive detailed information about the tax credit (make sure to check the FAQ) and is the source of the above definitions -