As winter draws to a close, we are reminded that tax time is just around the corner. Those of us who own our own homes are fortunate enough to have many tax deductions and advantageous strategies available to us.
I have some solid advice below, but be prudent and check these out with your tax professional first.
The mortgage interest deduction is the first obvious deduction that comes to mind for many of us. In order to qualify, your mortgage must be secured by your home – and you may be surprised to hear what counts as a “home.” In short, if you can sleep in it and cook in it, and if it has a working toilet, that living space is a home. That includes boats and trailers, so don’t miss out if your home is one of those alternate options.
Interest paid on a mortgage of up to $1 million (or $500,000 each for married people filing separately) can be deducted when used for the purchase, construction or improvement of the house.
Second mortgages (also home equity loans or home equity lines of credit) count toward the $1 million limit if used to improve your original home or to buy or build a second one. If you use the home-secured loan for any other purpose, you can still deduct the interest on loans up to $100,000 (or $50,000 for married filing separately). Use Schedule A to make this deduction.
Prepaid interest (or points) paid when you took out your mortgage is usually 100 percent deductible in the year you paid it. If you refinance and use that money for home improvements, any points you pay are deductible in the same year. But if you refinance for other reasons, such as to get a better rate or use the money for something other than home improvements, you’ll need to deduct the points over the life of your mortgage. This deduction can also be made on Schedule A, and Form 1098 (sent from your lender) should list the points you have paid.
Don’t forget your property tax deduction, also on Schedule A. If your mortgage has an escrow account, the amount you paid will show up on your annual escrow statement. Property taxes paid when you closed on your house will also appear on your HUD-1 settlement statement.
Private mortgage insurance (PMI) premiums are deductible as mortgage interest on Schedule A if you itemize your return, but only if your loan was taken out in 2007 or later and if your income is less than $100,000 (or $50,000 for married filing separately). If your adjusted gross income is above those amounts, your deduction is reduced incrementally until your income reaches $110,000, after which you are no longer eligible for the deduction.
There is also mortgage insurance available from the Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Administration and the Rural Housing Service. You can usually deduct the cost of this coverage, but I urge you to use a tax adviser or well-rated tax software instead of figuring out these complicated rules on your own.
Capital improvements – work done to increase the value of your home – can also have tax benefits. If you plan to live in your home for many years and make multiple improvements, the odds of you turning a profit when you sell your house are greater. More profit is good news for the seller, but then taxes must be paid on any profit past the first $250,000 for single filers or $500,000 for joint filers.
If the money you expect to make from the sale of your home exceeds these amounts, you can benefit from deducting the cost of your capital improvements. The more of these costs you add, the smaller your profit is in the end and the less you pay in taxes.
The trick is in knowing what improvements are eligible. Basic repairs are not, unless your home was damaged by fire or natural disaster.
Eligible improvements have to last for more than one year and add value to your home, prolong its life or be adapted for new uses. They also have to remain in place when the house is sold, so if you build a new deck but tear it down 15 years later, the cost of building the deck cannot be deducted. IRS Publication 523 has a list of eligible improvements on page 9.
Article orginially found at: http://www.theexaminernews.com/home-guru-that-time…
Listed for $599,000
Pending in less then a week!
Additional Photos: Virtual Tour
Beautifully updated three bedroom, two and half bath duet locatedon a quiet court in coveted Oakhurst Country Club. This spacious1,939 square foot duet features abundant natural light, soaringceilings, wood floors, an island kitchen, a two-way fireplace and abackyard perfect for entertaining.
• Appealing island kitchen with tile counters, wood floors, stove top with oven, microwave, and breakfast nook with large windows
• Spacious living rooms with vaulted ceilings, wood floors, two way gas fireplace and ceiling fan
• Elegant formal dining room with designer paint
• Roomy master suite with vaulted ceilings, walk-in closet, dual sinks and tub with shower
• Large guest rooms with plenty of closet space
• Guest bathroom with dual sinks and shower over tub
• Delightful entertaining backyard with deck
• Attached garage with ample storage space
• Great HOA ($274 a month) with amenities that include a community pool, walking trails and playground.
Offered at $489,000
Sold for $510,000
Beautifully updated two bedroom condo located close to great shopping, restaurants, freeway access and BART. This condo features amazing Australian Cypress wood floors, updated kitchen with plenty of natural light, large bedrooms and a patio area great for entertaining.
* Spacious family room with beautiful wood floors, gas fire place,
recessed lighting and an abundance of light
* Eat in kitchen, with recessed lighting, ample counter space and
plenty of cabinet space
* Large bedrooms with extra closet space and mirrored closet doors
* Upstairs bathroom has two sinks with shower over the tub
* Backyard patio with mature plants and stamped concrete. Great
* Inside Laundry
* Carport with two parking spots
HOA amenities include: Pool and Greenbelt ($350 a month)
Offered at $639,000
Sold for $655,000
Additional Photos: Virtual Tour
Immaculately maintained and beautifully updated single story two bedroom, two bathroom townhouse located close to great shopping, restaurants, park and trails. This townhouse features remodeled kitchen and bathrooms, with an abundance of natural light.
* Large family room with recessed lighting, gas fireplace and large
patio doors leading to great entertaining area
* Remodeled kitchen with newer countertops, cabinets, appliances
and recessed lighting.
* Elegant formal dinning area
* Large master suite with sitting area, private outdoor patio, updated
bathroom with tile floors, newer vanities and toilet.
* Spacious second bedroom with designer paint and outdoor patio
* Guest bathroom has tile floors, newer vanity and toilet
* Attached garage with plenty of storage
Offered at $999,999
Sold for $1,350,000
Additional Photos: Virtual Tour
Amazing opportunity to own in Lafayette! This approximately 2,509 square foot, mid-century modern, single story home offers four bedrooms, two bathrooms and two large entertaining areas. An abundance of custom windows allow for natural light throughout the home.
Located on a private cul-de-sac this home sits on an incredible .535 acre flat lot with beautiful mature trees and a serene setting.
* Master Wing of the home features a spacious bedroom with large
windows overlooking the courtyard, a fireplace and private hallway
to the bathroom.
* Additional three bedrooms feature large closets, custom windows
and carpeted floors.
* Distinctive kitchen with uniquely designed cabinets.
* Family room overlooks the sparkling pool and welcomes you to the
Bring your imagination; the possibilities are endless on this extraordinary home and lot.
When decorating a home it’s easy to appeal to your own personal taste: A kitchen painted your favorite shade of red, or a brightly colored statement chair in your living room, can instantly make a new house feel like home.
In a recent survey by Better Homes and Gardens, 400 homeowners were polled on the colors they’re most and least attracted to. The results showed strong preferences—not just for color in general, but also for how and whereeach hue was used.
Avoid these three colors
Orange, black, and violet: Of the homeowners polled, 58% said they’re least likely to decorate with orange, claiming it’s “way too loud.” Black and violet followed, snagging the second and third spots on the list of colors homeowners would rather live without.
A fan of these condemned tones? Well, we’re not saying they’re banned. Just try to limit them to small surfaces and keep them off your walls—they can be overpowering for buyers.
Don’t oversaturate your interior
When it comes to color, the biggest fear among homeowners (read: your potential future buyers) is that they’ll get sick of the color they’ve chosen. That means if you’re going to use saturated hues, you’re going to want to see them limited to certain rooms and decor.
Those polled ranked the living room (63%), kitchen (53%), and bathroom (52%) as the top three spots where color is most likely to be used. In other spots, you’ll want to go easy on the saturated shades—specifically, the foyer (36%), dining room (24%), and adult bedroom (24%).
Think accent, not statement
When it comes to buyer-friendly decor, you can still use the colors you want, but small doses are best: 41% of participants preferred using color as an accent throughout the home.
We think you know what this means. Leave large surfaces—walls, floors, and ceilings—neutral to act as a backdrop for your furnishings and accessories. When it comes time for a walk-through or open house, the potential new owners can imagine their life and belongings in the home without being overwhelmed by your design.
Have a penchant for color but afraid of the consequences when you go to sell? Take that personality to the exterior of your home and opt for a front door in a shade other than white.
Feeling blue is actually a good thing
When it comes to decor, that is.
The calming shade won the most affection from homeowners, with 62% favoring a palette rich in blues. The fervor for earthy hues continues with green as the second favorite; neutrals follow as the most common choice on interior walls.
So, whether you’re hoping your house sells in the next 20 minutes or you’re planning to put it up for sale in 20 years, you should consider the consequences of your color choices.
During your time in a home, decorate for yourself (and enjoy it!). Opt for a throw or a bright piece of artwork to add personality to neutral-colored rooms. And, if you so dare, paint a room in a bold shade—just be ready to repaint or tone it down with neutral furniture when it’s time to move on.
Article originally found at: http://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/the…
Spring has officially sprung, but the spring housing market started about a month ago, according to most real estate agents. With the supply of homes for sale not even close to demand, competition has been fierce, and that is changing the rules of the real estate road. Yes, it’s a seller’s market, but not all homes sell quickly, especially if they’re not priced right and if the timing isn’t right.
When is the best time to sell? That depends on whom you ask.
“It’s early May, and the reason is because inventory being so tight, a lot of homebuyers are having to put in multiple offers. That is extending the length of the homebuying season, such that a lot of times later on in the season people are more eager to buy the house because they have been frustrated with earlier offers, and they are paying a little bit more money,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow Group.
There are 9 percent fewer homes this buying season compared with a year ago, so listing in early May results in you selling your house about 18 days faster and for about 1 percent more than you would get otherwise, according to Zillow.
In other words, Zillow expects a buyer-desperation factor come May that will result in buyers paying more. Back in 2011 and 2012, when there was less buyer competition, March was best for sellers. Zillow then looked at the last two years, when competition was hotter and found May was better in 18 of the largest 25 metropolitan housing markets.
“In most markets right now we are seeing the conventional way of buying to have shifted really to staging for multiple offers, which is a huge shift from where we were just three-four years ago,” Humphries said.
Sellers can see the biggest price premiums in May in Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis and Detroit, where Zillow found homes selling faster and for more money. In Miami and in Washington, D.C., it found April to be better for sellers, but that may already be changing.
“I think that March is the new April,” said Licia Galinsky, a real estate agent in the Takoma Park neighborhood in Silver Spring, Maryland. “You think of the buying season as in April, as soon as spring starts, but March is really holding true.”
Galinsky listed two homes for sale on the same block last week and already has offers. Much-needed new listings are coming on, but the demand is right there to meet them.
“I see houses popping up. Every Thursday and Friday there will be four or five more coming on the market, so that’s nice, but there are also a lot more buyers,” said Matthew Williams Hamilton, a potential buyer who was walking around one of Galinsky’s listings with a home inspector on Friday. He expects his will be one of multiple bids.
Best Window to Sell Homes Faster and for the Highest Price
to List Home
|San Diego, CA||March 16-31||13||1%||$5,200|
|Atlanta, GA||April 1-15||19.5||1.4%||$2,200|
|Washington, DC||April 16-30||18||1.1%||$4,100|
|New York||May 1-15||16.5||0.6%||$2,400|
|Los Angeles, CA||May 16-31||12.5||0.9%||$5,300|
|Houston, TX||June 1-15||12.75||0.7%||$1,200|
While today’s housing market is more competitive than it’s been in several years, that competition prompts potential buyers to be more knowledgeable about the homes. They probably know that they’ll be in a bidding war for a good home, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to overpay. Even in a seller’s market, some homes will sit.
“Home sellers cannot afford to be overly confident or sloppy with details in a market that favors them. A well-honed and executed listing strategy is critical in maximizing a home’s price and time on the market,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist with Redfin, a national real estate brokerage.
And that includes listing a home on just the right day, which, according to Redfin, is Thursday. It found that homes listed on Thursdays are more likely to sell faster, above list price and for more money on average than comparable homes listed on other days of the week. This is because potential buyers are getting ready to go shopping over the weekend. Listing on Saturday, Sunday or Monday are the worst times. Unfortunately, just 18 percent of homes are listed on Thursday.
Article originally found at: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/22/the-best-month-and-…
Offered at: $609,000
Sold for $609,000
Additional Photos: Virtual Tour
Impeccably maintained three bedroom, two and a half bathroom end unit townhouse in the beautiful Countrywood community. Located close to great shopping, restaurants, freeway access and BART. This lovely home features wood floors, an updated kitchen, a large master suite with modernized bathroom and a great entertaining patio.
* Spacious family room with wood floors, gas fireplace and sliding
glass door leading to back patio
* Updated kitchen with granite counters, newer appliances, bay
window, tile floors, recessed lighting and custom cabinets
* Elegant dining area with designer paint and sliding glass door to
* Large master suite with two closets, updated bathroom with stall
shower, dual sinks and tile floors
* Nicely appointed guest rooms with ample closet space
* Guest bathroom with tile floors, granite counters and ample
* Inside laundry room (with laundry chute)
* Detached two car garage with extra storage space
* Both a front patio area and back patio area ideal for entertaining
HOA is $298 a month and includes clubhouse, pool and walking trails.
Offer at: $1,099,000
Sold for $1,099,000
Addition Photos: Virtual Tour
Exquisitely maintained four bedroom three bathroom home inbeautiful Windemere. This home features an upgraded island kitchenwith a stylish open-plan kitchen/family room combination. Largewindows and soaring ceilings allow for an abundance of natural light.A professionally landscaped yard compliments the home’s charmingexterior. The highly desirable community of Windemere includeswalking trails, parks and distinguished schools in all grade levels.
•Gracious entryway with tile floors, leading to an elegant formal living area with an abundance of natural light.
•Updated island kitchen with breakfast bar, stainless steel appliances, granite counters, wood floors, recessed lighting and plenty of cabinet space.
•Spacious family room with soaring ceilings, wood floors, gas fireplace and expansive windows.
•Oversized master suite, with walk-in closet and designer paint. Master bathroom has dual sinks, sunken tub, stall shower and tile floors.
•Generous guest bedrooms with plenty of closet space.
•Downstairs full bathroom with stall shower.
•Backyard is professionally landscaped with separate entertainment areas.
•Attached garage with ample storage space.
LED lights in the shower that bathe a user in color, and a reclaimed wood accent wall near the fireplace. Artisan hand-baked clay tiles as a kitchen backsplash, and a bathroom exhaust fan that turns on and off through a sensor.
A barn door on the master bedroom closet and upper kitchen cabinets that lower to the counter with the touch of a button, eliminating the need for a step stool.
Rustic-tech chic is hot, particularly with millennials who like the yin and yang approach to home decorating.
“D.C.-area buyers are ahead of the curve in terms of their high expectations for their homes,” said Daryl Judy, an associate broker with Washington Fine Properties in Washington, who also works with local developers to design new homes. “But there’s only a very small market here for ultra-modern homes. Most D.C. home buyers have transitional tastes that cross over between traditional and contemporary style.”
Every year, interior designers, architects, real estate professionals and home builders pour into Las Vegas to view the latest trends at the International Builders Show, the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and the Consumer Electronics Show.
While they’re checking out ideas for the future, these industry pros attempt to match what they see to the personality of their local market and to upcoming home buyers, particularly millennials.
Some of the design trends seen locally and around the country that particularly resonate with millennials may seem contradictory: These buyers want modern, sleek lines in their homes, yet they also love rustic looks. Millennials love natural materials such as wood and stone but are also drawn to colored lights that can turn a shower into purple rain. Smart-home technology is revered, but so are artisanal items that can add a curated look to their homes.
What millennials like in home decor
Rustic surfaces, handmade crafts, organizational elements and colored lights in the shower are popular with this age group.
Barn doors seem to crop up more and more often in new or remodeled homes, sometimes as sliding doors to define spaces but allowing them to be entirely open and other times in smaller iterations such as a closet or pantry door.
“Farmhouse sinks and mix-and-match faucet handles were everywhere at the Kitchen & Bath show,” said Stacy DeBroff, a brand strategist and chief executive of Influence Central in Boston. “One company at the intersection of rustic style and innovation is Stikwood, which takes recycled wood and turns it into peel-and-stick natural wood siding.”
Susan Matus, director of project development at Case Design/Remodeling in Bethesda, said Stikwood could be used on one wall as a focal point or in a mudroom or laundry room.
“That kind of rustic look is turning up unexpectedly in places where you want to mix textures such as natural wood next to something shiny and sleek,” Matus said.
Julia Walter, showroom manager at Boffi Georgetown, an Italian luxury kitchen and bath designer, said Boffi displays a rustic wood shelf with a modern shape, a metal sink below and a big mirror above it.
“It’s definitely a trend to combine reclaimed wood with a contemporary steel frame,” Walter said. “It’s an interesting play between old and new. People like contemporary lines, but they want the warmth of bringing in an older element into their home, especially the kitchen where people have an emotional connection with their childhood kitchen.”
Color in unexpected places
On the opposite end of the spectrum from natural wood are colored LED lights, which are turning up in gas fireplaces, kitchens and even bathrooms.
“Colored lights that you can control with an app were everywhere at the Vegas shows from gas fireplaces to above-kitchen cabinets to around the rim of a shower,” DeBroff said. “They had shower heads with lights so that you can take a purple shower or a red shower on a whim. Essentially, you can make a space really cool that isn’t otherwise all that interesting.”
While shower heads with colored lights are already available on Amazon, DeBroff said that high-end toilets are being designed with a built-in night light that illuminates the water in the bowl. She anticipates that in a year or so consumers will be able to find an attachment that adds that feature to regular toilets.
Pops of color are turning up in the kitchen, too, with small household appliances and pots and pans manufactured in a wide range of colors. Larger kitchen appliances in bright colors and pastels are available from manufacturers, said Danielle Procopio, a real estate agent and certified home staging consultant with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Hinsdale, Ill. But she doesn’t see that as much of a trend yet, in part because they are much costlier than appliances with standard finishes.
“The most popular color schemes in the kitchen right now are dark cabinets with a light counter top,” Procopio said. “At the Kitchen and Bath show, they were showing bright green and blue cabinets, but most people are sticking with standard color palettes.”
“One client has a house with a very simple, clean white kitchen but with a bright yellow oven, but that’s very unusual,” Walter said. She said she’s seeing more use of warm colors in the kitchen such as olive green and different shades of beige in combination with wood.
Michael Merschat, design studio manager and architect with Wentworth Inc. in Chevy Chase, Md., said he’s not seeing many brightly colored appliances in the Washington region, but he does see homeowners using a richer accent color on one wall of cabinets or on the kitchen island to make it stand out. Procopio said homeowners who want to personalize their homes can have their center island custom-painted before it’s installed.
A more common trend in the Washington region is to add a pop of color with a backsplash.
“One of my clients has a neutral gray and white kitchen, but she added color with a backsplash of handmade pale green tiles with a crackled surface,” Matus said.
Handmade items or artistic features bring in an element of personalization that appeals to many millennials, DeBroff said.
Introducing a unique piece of art to your home decor can be costly, but DeBroff found affordable tempered glass bowls from MR Direct that can transform an ordinary bathroom into a museum-quality space.
“These hand-blown glass bowls cost $79 or $119 if you buy a faucet with them, but they look far more expensive and are a budget-friendly way to personalize your space,” DeBroff said.
Matus said manufacturers are making more multidimensional tiles with a pyramid-type shape or with a wave pattern for visual interest.
“There are lots of interesting ways to use tile now, including making a rustic wall in your kitchen from artisan hand-baked clay tiles that have kind of ancient character but can look very modern,” Walter said. “You can also find mosaic tiles that can be installed by the sheet.”
Colorful and artistic touches can be used to relieve the sea of gray and white in new homes, but millennials still want most of their homes to have clean lines and modern style.
Large tiles for your floors and walls allow you to have a cleaner look with less grout, Walter said. In some cases, the tiles are so large and can be seamlessly installed to look like one monolithic floor.
Matus said younger buyers still like crown moldings, but they prefer simple streamlined styles near the ceiling and opt not to include chair rail moldings or wainscoting.
“In homes with an open floor plan, a lot of buyers want an extremely clean-looking kitchen with less visible sinks, faucets and appliances,” Walter said. “Most appliances in these homes are fully integrated and look built-in. Part of having an open kitchen is treating that area like furniture so that you have an overall connection with the living area.”
“Millennials definitely like a clean look that’s more transitional or modern than traditional,” Merschat said. “If you show them a cabinet with moldings on it they’ll ask how to clean it and then choose something with a cleaner, sleeker look.”
While stainless-steel appliances continue to be popular, new variations with a matte finish or slightly darker tone make them easier to keep clean and free of fingerprints, Procopio said. The good news is that the new stainless-steel appliances blend with older stainless finishes so you don’t have to replace everything at once.
Another innovation that keeps your kitchen looking less cluttered is the installation of an electrical outlet strip hidden under your cabinets that includes USB ports as well as standard outlets, Judy said.
“Technology can be used to simplify the way your home functions and looks,” Matus said. “Even the new door locks that can be operated remotely from your phone are starting to look aesthetically more beautiful instead of like a big clunky keypad. Things like Sonos wireless speakers can be used to keep your rooms clear of clutter, and they’re portable for entertaining outside.”
Technology can simplify your life, too, Matus said, with items such as new bathroom exhaust fans from Panasonic that are controlled by a sensor that turns them off and on according to the steam in the room.
The Nest thermostat, which “learns” your pattern of using heat and air conditioning, is at the intersection of technology and sustainability that appeals to millennials, Judy said.
“Millennials are looking for highly efficient appliances to reduce their energy use and want to use sustainable and natural materials everywhere they can,” he said.
Counters made of engineered stone or recycled materials such as quartz and Caesarstone are environmentally friendly and yet also easy to maintain, both aspects of which appeal to millennials.
“Millennials consider sustainability in every sense of the word,” Merschat said. “Environmental impact is driving the selection of materials, but they are also concerned about durability and functionality of the things they buy. For example, a lot of people love the way Cararra marble counters look, but they realize that it stains easily, so they are willing to turn to manmade materials that are similarly beautiful but are a better fit for their lifestyle.”
One home priority that transcends generations is the desire for an organized home with efficient and abundant storage space.
“Millennials are likely to be intrigued by the new kitchen designs that come with a complete built-in organization system so there’s a place for knives, spices and every specialty kitchen gadget,” DeBroff said. “Another cool innovation are cupboards that lower down to the counter with the push of a button so you don’t need a step stool to reach everything.”
DeBroff said that with the advent of Pinterest and Instagram, millennials have high expectations for their organized spaces to be visually beautiful.
Procopio said automated shelving and stacked drawers that slide back to reveal a second layer are particularly appealing to young people who may be buying a smaller home in the city or inner suburbs.
Newly built homes, particularly small but costly condos, feature built-in closet organizers and extra storage in unexpected spaces such as a handful of built-in drawers next to a laundry closet.
“A lot of city homes have smaller bathrooms, so we offer solutions like integrated or hidden cabinets that have storage space but don’t interrupt the clean lines of the room,” Walter said. “In the kitchen, we have three- or four-feet-wide cabinets with pocket doors as a designated breakfast prep area so you can close it off and not see the coffeemaker, toaster and juicer out on the counter.”
The open floor plan popular with many buyers today leads some to want a more organized kitchen, since that space is frequently on display to guests and to the family when they are eating or relaxing in the adjacent living and dining area.
“A lot of families want a family command center or tech space near the kitchen but a little separate since those spaces can be messy,” Matus said. “If there’s space, they want a highly organized mudroom or laundry room on the first floor. If you live in a smaller place, the key is to have extremely well-organized closets with shelves and cubbies in your bedrooms, your bathrooms, your home office and your kitchen.”
In larger homes, millennials opt for personalized storage solutions when remodeling a home. For example, Merschat recently built a wall of cabinets, including an L-shaped bench for storage and seating and a special cabinet for riding boots for a family that enjoys equestrian activities.
“Most millennials don’t want an old-school mudroom with a washer and dryer,” Merschat said. “They want a more organized space for the entire family, including lower hooks for their kids to hang up their own jackets and backpacks.”
Article originally found at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/from-art…