Tax Benefits of Home Ownership and more

Tax Benefits of Home Ownership and more.  Early-Group

When it comes to owning a home, there are several benefits that tax payers may take advantage of when filing their itemized return. Here are just a few to consider when preparing your taxes:

  • When purchasing a home, some closing costs may be deductible. Discount points and origination fees are tax deductible to the buyer. If these apply to your mortgage.
  • If you took out a loan to purchase your home, the mortgage interest is typically deductible in the year in which it was paid. This adds up quickly in most federal tax brackets. Your deduction may be limited if certain circumstances apply in higher tax brackets, or if you took out a mortgage for reasons other than to buy, build or improve your home.
  • Real estate property taxes also provide a tax benefit. In the year you purchase the home, you are entitled to deduct the real estate taxes paid on your settlement statement either to an escrow account or directly to the taxing authority. You may continue to deduct property taxes annually during your home ownership.
  • Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP) or Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) may also be deductible when your down-payment is less than 20 percent. Several changes took effect on June 3, 2013 regarding cancellation and increases to the annual MIP, so it is best to consult your accountant or tax preparer to ensure you accurately claim any deductions
  • Do you work from home? If you have a home office that you use only for business, you may have a deduction for a portion of some items such as mortgage, insurance, utilities or other expenses relative to the office space. There are many considerations when deducting home office expenses, and it may or may not be a benefit to you based on your occupation and overall business use.
  • When selling your home, there are potential tax deductions as well as possible implications to consider. Some closing costs may be deductible including and not limited to real estate commissions, title insurance, legal fees, and surveys. Capital gains or losses may apply, and your tax expert can advise you on determining your basis and adjustments.

Some online resources that may be helpful regarding other home ownerships tax benefits include the Internal Revenue Service or National Association of Realtor (NAR).

A recent item to note regarding married tax filings… A new federal ruling now recognizes married same-sex couples just as their heterosexual counterparts for federal tax purposes regardless where they ultimately live. The Supreme Court ruled that married same-sex couples will be treated as married for federal tax purposes, including income as well as gift and estate taxes, but this ruling does not apply to registered domestic partnerships/civil unions. This covers couples who marry in one state and move to another that may not recognize their union. As a result, lawfully married same-sex couples no longer have to declare themselves unmarried on federal income tax returns, and spouses will not have to pay tax on health insurance benefits received through a spouse – an average savings of $1,000 tax per year for same-sex couples. Changes could be especially significant on estate taxes, where spouses benefit from tax advantages. For more information, the Wall Street Journal published a review.

Disclaimer: The links to articles and resources here are only to be used for informational purposes. Tax payers should always seek professional advice on financial and legal matters from a tax preparer, accountant, attorney or other legal counsel.

5 Important Tips To Protect Your Home From Burglars When You Are Away

5 Important Tips To Protect Your Home From Burglars When You Are Away.   Any family would feel violated after coming home to a ransacked house. Burglars look for specific things when choosing a home to break into, and many homeowners are unknowingly inviting criminals through the front door.  Below are five ways you can avoid drawing the eyes of thieves and deter your home from becoming a target.

Beware Of Selling To Strangers

If you’re wanting to sell items on Craigslist or another internet-based classified ad website, attempt conducting your transactions outside of the home.  If you must meet at home, screen the person over the telephone to ensure that they are truly interested in the item you’re selling. Thieves have been known to make appointments just to check out your home.

Be Careful If You Tweet About It

Not all of your friends protect their social media information, or may not have the most virtuous acquaintances. If you share your upcoming vacation or big event, then a mischievous friend of a friend will know the perfect time to forcefully check out your home.  Learn how to limit your social media posts to only your trusted contacts.

Mind Your Trash

Be careful when it comes to taking out the garbage, especially around holidays. Criminals will drive around nice neighborhoods and specifically look for empty boxes of high-price items. Then all they have to do is wait for you to leave the house before they force their way in and nab the goods.  Break down boxes and conceal them in garbage bags or trash cans.

Prepare For Your Vacation

Make sure when you leave on vacation that you put a few lights on timers and have someone collect your mail. A home that is obviously vacant is every burglar’s dream.  And if you’re on an extended holiday, ensure you also hire someone to take care of the lawn – overgrown grass is a no-one-is-home indicator.

Secure The Safe

Just because you put your valuables in a safe doesn’t mean they’re secure. If the safe isn’t installed in a wall or bolted to the floor, then a burglar can just carry it through your front door. They can figure out how to break into it later.  Make the additional time investment to ensure your safe can’t walk out the door.

With a little common sense and by following the advice above, you’ll reduce the risk of your home being targeted by burglars. If you would like more information about keeping your Colorado home secure, call your trusted real estate professionals Terry Robinson, Stephanie Foster, Mike Fuentes, Christi Patrick or Deborah Oakes today.

Home Improvement Projects Every Seller Should Consider

Home Improvement Projects Every Seller Should Consider.

Even in a housing market where inventory is low, some buyers may still want a move-in ready house and are willing to pay more for one that’s turn-key.

Sellers can increase their listing price and decrease the time their home sits on the market just by doing a few home improvement project. But not all projects carry the same return.

A big mistake a lot of home sellers make is they upgrade the kitchen thinking they will make so much more money on the house, but the rest of the house still needs upgrading or repairs. Home sellers have to look at repairs as a whole rather than a sum of parts.

For a kitchen renovation, the return on the investment is typically 78%, which may not make financial sense for all home owners. However, if other improvements and upgrades are made, the seller is more likely to recoup the money spent, and then some.

The home improvement priority list depends on the seller’s time frame. For those looking to list in the next couple of months, they can take on bigger projects than those looking to sell in a few weeks. However, every seller can increase the interest and price tag of their home by investing in increasing the curb appeal.

Buying a house or selling might be kind of like dating.  A pretty face may get them in the door.  Since a buyer may make a decision about a home without stepping out of the car, real estate experts say the front of the home has to be pristine, the door(s) painted and the windows cleaned.  But it shouldn’t stop there.  Sellers shouldn’t overlook the garage. Have the floors painted with garage floor epoxy. It’s amazing how many people comment on a clean crisp garage with a painted floor.

Also, by removing the window screen and cleaning the frames can also boost curb appeal. Most window screens darken a home and trap dirt. Removing them and cleaning all windows before the home has been photographed will give it a much brighter appearance, inside and out.

Inside the home, there are numerous improvement projects of varying price tags that can speed up the selling process.

Painting is a low cost way to make a home look more fresh and clean and show an owner’s commitment to maintenance. However, choose the paint carefully. Red walls or wildly-patterned wall paper can limit the appeal of a home as buyers are more drawn to neutral wall colors.

Paint freshens everything up and provides a clean and crisp feel.   If you aren’t an interior designer by trade, this is not the time to play designer. Find a reputable designer and pay them a consulting fee to pick your colors.

Other low cost improvements include de-cluttering the home, getting rid of old fixtures, particularly if they are brass, and ridding the home of personal artifacts and pictures.  You want to create the feeling of stepping into a hotel.  It should be nice and appealing for everyone.

For home owners who have the time and the budget, remodeling the kitchen and baths will go a long way in boosting the list price. But sellers have to know their market before they start making the upgrades. Sellers living in an area where granite counter tops are the norm, they better follow suit. If laminate countertops are more commonplace, then it doesn’t make sense to pay for the more expensive materials.

Another more costly upgrade that is sure to get more bang for the buck is upgrading kitchen appliances.  Appliances that bling, bring the cash.  Every home buyer at every price range wants new or updated appliances….. no one wants old and outdated appliances.  Call Terry Robinson & the Early-Group for more ideas to get your home sold fast!  303.748.3838.

The Housing Market Has Certainly Come A Long Way In 2012

2012 Marked TheYear Of The Housing Recovery: Promising Signs For More Improvement In 2013

The nation’s housing market has certainly come a long way from the depths of the recession.  According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), in 2008 home sales had fallen nearly 42 percent from their peak level in 2005. Moreover, foreclosure filings had jumped more than 80 percent. But today, the housing market is showing signs of gaining momentum.

As 2012 comes to an end, the number of foreclosures continues to decline and both home prices and sales continue to recover across the country as well as here in Colorado.  In fact, in some communities there are not nearly enough homes to meet buyer demand, and it is not unusual to see multiple offers with final sales over the asking price.

NAR has reported that October home sales in the U.S. were 10.9 percent higher than a year ago.  This marked the seventh straight month that the nation’s housing market saw improvement year-over-year, the first time that’s happened since November 2005–May 2006. Median home prices in the U.S. also rose 11.1 percent from a year ago. And in some of our markets, prices and sales have been even stronger than that.

These statistics do not mean that we are completely out of the woods. The nation’s housing sector still faces some challenges, including a tepid economic recovery, high unemployment levels, the prospect of higher taxes in 2013 if Congress cannot avoid the “fiscal cliff,” and the threat that the mortgage interest deduction could be reduced as part of budget negotiations.

But despite those potential potholes, we appear to be on the road to recovery and many industry analysts believe we will pick up speed in 2013 and beyond.

According to NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, the steady housing market recovery is expected to continue over the next few years, barring further tightening of mortgage credit availability or the potential of sharply higher taxes and automatic spending cuts on January 1st if Congress fails to reach a compromise on revenue and expenditures by year-end.

Yun reports that, “Existing-home sales, new-home sales and housing starts are all recording notable gains this year in contrast with suppressed activity in the previous four years, and all of the major home price measures are showing sustained increases.”

While mortgage rates have been at historic lows, Yun expects these rates to rise to an average of about 4.0 percent next year and 4.6 percent in 2014.

With rising demand and shrinking inventory, Yun foresees meaningfully higher home prices. He predicts that the national median existing-home price should rise 6 percent to $176,100 for all of 2012, and increase another 5.1 percent in 2013 to $185,200 with a similar increase in 2014.

According to the UCLA Anderson quarterly forecast released earlier this month, the U.S. housing market should be a major driver for the nation’s economy over the next two years – a change from past years when housing trailed other sectors.

Tips to prevent holiday stress

With all the shopping, entertaining, cleaning and craziness that often accompanies the season, getting thought December can be a stressful time for many people. To help out as we head into the December holiday season, check out this informative article offering advice on how to prevent holiday stress: Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping

In terms of our Front Range and Foot Hills real estate market, the stress of a rough market has definitely diminished, and most of us in this industry are truly excited about the 2013 market.

We’d like to wish you a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.   Terry Robinson, Stephanie Foster, Deborah Oakes, Christi Patrick and Mike Fuentes



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