Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May Newsletter - First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

First Time Homebuyer's Tax Credit

Please call me to take advantage of this great opportunity

How much is this credit?
Lesser of 10% of the cost of home or $8,000

Who can use this credit?
A first time homebuyer is defined as someone who did not own another home at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase. (For married joint filers, both must meet the 1st time homebuyer test to take the credit on a joint return.)

Who can’t use this credit?

• Individuals with Adjusted Gross Income of $75,000 and $150,000 on a joint return (Phases out above these caps)
• You buy your home from a close relative. (Spouse, parent, grandparent, child or grandchild)
• You stop using your home as your main home.

What homes are eligible?
• It must be your principal residence.
• The home must be located in the United States.
• Vacation homes and rental properties are not eligible.
• For new construction, the “purchase date” is the date you occupy the home. So the move in date must be before December 1, 2009.

When do I have to purchase the home?
To be eligible for the tax credit, you must purchase a home between January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.

How long do I have to own the home?
If the home is sold prior to three years of ownership, the tax credit must be repaid. (This provision is designed to prevent “flipping” homes in order to get the credit.)

When can I claim the credit?
It can be claimed on your 2008 Tax Return (to be filed by April 15, 2009), an amended 2008 Tax Return, or your 2009 Tax Return.New developments are happening now regarding when your credit can be claimed.
The Federal Housing Administration will soon be allowing bridge loans or cash advances of the tax credit to be used as a down payment or for closing costs. See your lender for specific details or contact me for a referral.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Listing!

New Listing 11401 Linden Dr. NW in Marne!! Check it out!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Adding a Water Feature

Night lighting is something that you should revisit in your outdoor considerations adding a water feature. The sounds made by a waterfall are equally as desirable as the visual affect. The style of the fall, affects the sound it makes. Noise will be made by the disrupted water hitting the rocks at various levels.

An echo chamber can be put in place by creating a void behind the falls, the deeper the chamber, the louder the echo becomes. The sound is also relative to the thickness of the stream of water coming over the falls, the thicker the stream, the louder the sound.

A formal plunge is a smooth sheet of water with very few air bubbles, dropping vertically off the rocks and free falling over most of its height. This style makes the least amount of noise.

Cascade falls are formed when the water stays in contact with the rock that is sloping and there are many small vertical drops, spaced closely together, reminiscent of stair steps.

Another falls appropriately named for the shape is the horsetail, which is a long column of free falling water three to four times higher than it is wide.

Rapids are usually characterized in streams or creeks where loose stone dams up the water and the grade changes happen over greater horizontal distances causing the water to pool and rush around the rocks.

Existing conditions should dictate plans for a future water feature. If you plan on flowering aquatic plants, your pond will need to get at least six hours of sunlight a day. Keep in mind that hot sunny conditions and excessive wind will cause water to evaporate faster. Sunlight and shade can deal different challenges, algae growth becomes an issue in full sun, and water clarity can be a problem if there is too much shade. A nice balance of full sun areas, but having dappled shade over parts of the water feature gives the fish a place to cool off as well as offers a seating area in a cool spot for guests. A sheltered area becomes important where winds can be a problem. Winds speed evaporation and blow debris into the pond; they can also knock over tall water plants. If no protected spot is available, an evergreen or solid fence would be a suitable screen or windbreak.

Another trick to ensure that the water feature looks a bit less contrived is to hide the point where the water originates. To see a stream running from behind a group of trees bordering the wood line gives the sense that it could be a natural creek. Instead of showcasing the pond as the focal point of the views, camouflage the pond so visitor catches a glimpse and their curiosity is piqued. This creates the interest of a destination in which to travel to and enjoy the sights along the way. Reflection is an important view that is sometimes overlooked. Still water makes a perfect mirror in which to double the display of flowers and fall colors to enhance the visual show. We hope some of these thoughts or ideas inspire you this year as youconsider your landscape needs.

At Twin Lakes Nursery, our design team, with over 130 years of combined experience create landscapes that fit our unique west Michigan environment. We work with you to develop plans that fit your unique situations. We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your landscape needs. Please call us at 616-949-5230 or visit us online at:twinlakenursery.com

References cited: “Complete guide to water gardens ponds and fountains” Kathleen Fisher, Hardscape Magazine Sept. 2005 issue “Know your waterfalls” Gary Whittstock


What is your ultimate goal? What mood are you trying to create, what feelings would you like to evoke?

How do you use the overall space? Where do you feel drawn to sit, and how much room will you need there? What are the circulation patterns for the walkways?

What is the lay of the land? Where would the water naturally run if it had always existed? Where would grade changes make sense and not seem obtrusive?

Will you view the water feature from the inside? What will the views be from where you will sit outside? What frames the water and where will your focal points be?

Landscaping and the Outdoor Room

Two areas are more noticeable today than five years ago. One area of continued interest and excitement is the whole area of water gardening through use of ponds, waterfalls, streams, etc. The other area that continues to surge is the outdoor room. Perhaps this high degree of interest in developing the outdoor room is a result of the economic times in which we find ourselves. Families are spending more time entertaining at home and in the backyard. Also, some people who had plans for building new homes a year ago are now reconsidering their options and instead are remodeling and upgrading their current homes.

The outdoors for many people begins when the patio doors are opened. The space immediately adjacent to the home, whether it be a deck or patio, is a transition zone between the interior of the home and the exterior. Begin by creating a new brick paver patio or a deck constructed with recycled materials. The important thing to remember at this stage is to plan for adequate space for this area. A good practice is to lay out tables and chairs in order to visualize just how much space you will need. Remember to allow for traffic flow around the furniture and consider traffic patterns as you plan.

To maximize the atmosphere in this outdoor room, clients today are asking for many of the conveniences they have inside their home to be brought outside. One of the biggest changes on the outdoor cooking scene is the emergence of the outdoor kitchen. Even smaller decks and patios are sporting stainless steel outdoor barbecues with warming ovens and side-mounted pot burners. The serious homeowners are building grills into brick bays and adding sinks with running water.

In this northern climate, the outdoor living season can be relatively short. The advent of the wood burning fireplace with its free standing chimney creates an opportunity for extended family activities during the cooler spring and fall seasons. The new lines of furniture are an asset to an outdoor room. The over-stuffed, indoor style of furniture is now made for outside and is able to withstand exposure. This makes for a very comfortable sitting environment and puts a beautiful finishing touch on your outdoor room.

Night lighting is also something that you should revisit in your outdoor considerations. While night lighting is not new, the newer lighting systems are more dependable and offer many interesting styles of lights. Also, there are new LED designs that are both energy efficient and include processors that can change colors on demand.

Relaxing in a hot tub continues to be a very poplar and enjoyable family activity. A hot tub addition is especially fun for the smaller backyards where a pool or larger deck/patio is not an option. The well designed smaller space with a hot tub nestled in the corner off of a small sitting patio can be a great outdoor room, and the hot tub can be used especially during the winter months to extend the investment throughout the year. The new hot tubs have more jets and sprays and improved options for lighting, stereos, etc. These models also are built with better insulation to reduce operating costs, and utilize friendly chemicals to simplify maintenance.

Beyond the outdoor room, we see trends that complement family activities and more time spent at home. If you have an existing pool in your yard, look at the pool area with a critical eye. Perhaps an upgrade or expansion to the pool area will bring new life to this area and make it more functional and user friendly. Perhaps the plantings around the pool don’t look that great anymore and could use a makeover. Evergreen trees can screen off an undesirable view or provide privacy. Often these upgrades and renovations breathe new life into the outdoor room.

Also evolving is the installation of sport courts and artificial turf play areas and putting greens. These improve your existing space, provide more entertainment options for your family and make your home the place kids like to spend the afternoon.

At Twin Lakes Nursery, our design team, with over 130 years of combined experience create landscapes that fit our unique west Michigan environment. We work with you to develop plans that fit your unique situations. We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your landscape needs. Please call us at 616-949-5230 or visit us online at:twinlakenursery.com


References cited: “Complete guide to water gardens ponds and fountains” Kathleen Fisher, Hardscape Magazine Sept. 2005 issue “Know your waterfalls” Gary Whittstock

Client Testimonials

Better than expected

"Since the family lives out of town, we are grateful to John for making the sale of our mother's house very managable for us. John listened to our needs and met them all. He was considerate, knowledable, coordinated all the details , and , communicated with us throughout the whole process. Having you take care of the house went better than expected from out of town."

- Anne Baker 2517 Borglum


Great Selling Experience

"After trying to sell our house on our own, it was a relief to list it under an experienced realtor. John sold our house much quicker than we could have imagined."

- 3009 Barry St


Experienced and Helpful

"The experience of buying a home was very good, the help was very much appreciated."

- David and Michelle 2088 Jaclyn


Trustworthy and Professional

"John is a great realtor. He is knowledgable, trustworthy, and professional. We look forward to doing business with him again."

- Investors


Realistic Goals

"My unreal optimism mixed with John's realism make us a good pair."

- Investor


Helping Hand

"John was the best, he worked hard and we appreciate him for everything he did for us."

- Cathy Claflin Melvin Ct.


Love my new home

"I worked with RE/MAX to buy a house. They were very professional and unbelievably helpful. John DeVries helped me find my house and it's amazing how much he helped me. It didn't matter what my schedule was, he kept working hard and showing me houses until we found the right home. I am so happy with it and love it already. Thanks RE/MAX and John"

- Caleb Byron Rd.