Tax Return Depressing? Owning a Home Could Help

 

Tax Return Depressing? Owning a Home Could Help

 

Tax Return Depressing? Owning a Home Could Help – Many Americans got some depressing news last week; either their tax return was not as large as they had hoped or, in some cases, they were told they owed additional money to either the Federal or State government or both. One way to save on taxes is to own your own home.
According to the Tax Policy Center’s Briefing Book -“A citizen’s guide to the fascinating (though often complex) elements of the federal Tax System” – there are several tax advantages to homeownership.
Here are four items, and a quote on each, from the Briefing Book:

1. Mortgage Interest Deduction

“Homeowners who itemize deductions may reduce their taxable income by deducting any interest paid on a home mortgage. The deduction is limited to interest paid on up to $1 million of debt incurred to purchase or substantially rehabilitate a home. Homeowners also may deduct interest paid on up to $100,000 of home equity debt, regardless of how they use the borrowed funds. Taxpayers who do not own their home have no comparable ability to deduct interest paid on debt incurred to purchase goods and services.”

2. Property Tax Deduction

“Homeowners who itemize deductions may also reduce their taxable income by deducting property taxes they pay on their homes.”

3. Imputed Rent

“Buying a home is an investment, part of the returns from which is the opportunity to live in the home rent-free. Unlike returns from other investments, the return on homeownership—what economists call “imputed rent”—is excluded from taxable income. In contrast, landlords must count as income the rent they receive, and renters may not deduct the rent they pay. A homeowner is effectively both landlord and renter, but the tax code treats homeowners the same as renters while ignoring their simultaneous role as their own landlords.”

4. Profits from Home Sales

“Taxpayers who sell assets must generally pay capital gains tax on any profits made on the sale. But homeowners may exclude from taxable income up to $250,000 ($500,000 for joint filers) of capital gains on the sale of their home if they satisfy certain criteria: they must have maintained the home as their principal residence in two out of the preceding five years, and they generally may not have claimed the capital gains exclusion for the sale of another home during the previous two years.”

Bottom Line

We are not suggesting that you purchase a house just to save on your taxes. However, if you have been on the fence as to whether 2017 is the year you should become a homeowner, this information might help with that decision.
Disclaimer: Always check with your accountant to find out what tax advantages apply to you in your area. 
 
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Home Mortgages: Rates Up, Requirements Easing

Home Mortgages: Rates Up, Requirements Easing

 

Home Mortgages: Rates Up, Requirements Easing – The media has extensively covered the rise in mortgage interest rates since last fall (from 3.42% last September to the current 4.1% according to Freddie Mac). However, a less covered aspect of the mortgage market is that requirements to get a mortgage have eased while rates have risen.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) quantifies the availability of mortgage credit each month with their Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to the MBA, the MCAI is:
“A summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.”
The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage. Here is a chart showing the MCAI over the last several months as rates have increased.
Home Mortgages: Rates Up, Requirements Easing | MyKCM

Have requirements for attaining a mortgage actually eased?

Yes. Here are two examples:
  1. FICO® Score – the credit score which helps determine a buyer’s eligibility. The score required to attain a mortgage has been falling over the last five months:
Home Mortgages: Rates Up, Requirements Easing | MyKCM
  1. Down Payment Requirement – the percentage of the purchase price necessary to place as a down payment on a home. To make this point, let’s look at the percentage of first-time buyers who have put less than 5% down over the last several years as compared to the 1st quarter of 2017:
Home Mortgages: Rates Up, Requirements Easing | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Whether you are a current homeowner looking to move to a home that will better serve your family’s current needs, or a first-time buyer looking for a starter home, it is easier to get a mortgage today than it has been at any other time in the last ten years.
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Mortgage Interest Rates Went Up Again… Should I Wait to Buy?

Mortgage Interest Rates Went Up Again… Should I Wait to Buy?

 

Mortgage Interest Rates Went Up Again… Should I Wait to Buy? – Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeksFreddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.
Mortgage Interest Rates Went Up Again… Should I Wait to Buy? | MyKCMThis has caused some purchasers to lament the fact they may no longer be able to get a rate below 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.
Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades.

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.
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How to Get the Most Money When Selling Your Home

How to Get the Most Money When Selling Your Home

How to Get the Most Money When Selling Your Home – Every homeowner wants to make sure they get the best price when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? Here are two keys to ensuring you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW 

This may seem counterintuitive. However, let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In reality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for their house (see chart below).
 
Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing this, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price, but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.
Realtor.com gives this advice:
“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This, too, may seem counterintuitive, as the seller likely believes that he or she will net more money if they don’t have to pay a real estate commission. With that being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.
Research posted by the National Association of Realtors revealed that:
“The median selling price for all FSBO homes was $185,000 last year. When the buyer knew the seller in FSBO sales, the number sinks to the median selling price of $163,800. However, homes that were sold with the assistance of an agent had a median selling price of $245,000 – nearly $60,000 more for the typical home sale.”

Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.
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Spring Forward: The Difference An Hour Makes

Spring Forward: The Difference An Hour Makes

Some Highlights:
  • Don’t forget to set your clocks forward this Sunday, March 12th at 2:00 AM EST in observance of Daylight Savings Time.
  • Unless of course, you are a resident of Arizona or Hawaii!
  • Every hour in the United States: 649 homes are sold, 177 homes regain equity (meaning they are no longer underwater on their mortgage), and the median home price rises $1.86!
 
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Builder Confidence Hits 11-Year High

Builder Confidence Hits 11-Year High – In many areas of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers looking to purchase their dream homes. Experts have long proposed that a ramp-up in new, single-family home construction would be one of the many ways to overcome this inventory shortage.
According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Wells Fargo, housing market confidence amongst builders reached an 11-year high last month.

What Does High Confidence Mean for the Housing Market?

In a recent interview, Rob DietzChief Economist and SVP for NAHB, put it this way:
“Higher market confidence will translate into more building and more inventory in 2017. We expect single-family construction to grow 10 percent next year.”
With 2016 marking the best year in real estate sales in over a decade, a 10 percent ramp-up in single-family construction will only aid in making 2017 an even greater year.
According to the latest US Census data, sales of newly constructed homes were up 3.7% over January 2016 as they reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 555,000. Dietz went on to comment:
“We can expect further growth in new home sales throughout the year, spurred on by employment gains and a rise in household formations. As the supply of existing homes remains tight, more consumers will turn to new construction.”

Bottom Line

With the weather and the real estate market heating up this spring, there will be a surge of new construction coming to the market soon.
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The Connection Between Home Prices & Family Wealth

The Connection Between Home Prices & Family Wealth

The Connection Between Home Prices & Family Wealth – Over the next five years, home prices are expected to appreciate 3.22% per year on average and to grow by 17.3% cumulatively, according to Pulsenomics’ most recent Home Price Expectation Survey.
So, what does this mean for homeowners and their equity position?
As an example, let’s assume a young couple purchased and closed on a $250,000 home in January. If we look at only the projected increase in the price of that home, how much equity will they earn over the next 5 years?
Since the experts predict that home prices will increase by 4.4% this year alone, the young homeowners will have gained $11,000 in equity in just one year.
Over a five-year period, their equity will increase by nearly $43,000! This figure does not even take into account their monthly principal mortgage payments. In many cases, home equity is one of the largest portions of a family’s overall net worth.

Bottom Line

Not only is homeownership something to be proud of, but it also offers you and your family the ability to build equity you can borrow against in the future. If you are ready and willing to buy, find out if you are able to today!
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Where Did Americans Move in 2016

 

Where Did Americans Move in 2016

 

Some Highlights:

  • For the 5th year in a row, the Northeast saw a concentration of “High Outbound” activity.
  • For the first time ever, South Dakota held the top spot for “High Inbound” states.
  • Much of America’s outbound activity can be attributed to Boomers relocating to warmer climates after retiring.
 
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Mortgage Rates Impact on 2017 Home Values

 

Mortgage Rates Impact on 2017 Home Values – There is no doubt that historically low mortgage interest rates were a major impetus to housing recovery over the last several years. However, many industry experts are showing concern about the possible effect that the rising rates will have moving forward.
The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are all projecting that mortgage interest rates will move upward in 2017. Increasing interest rates will definitely impact purchasers and may stifle demand.
In a recent study of industry experts, “rising mortgage Interest rates, and their impact on mortgage affordability” was named by 56% as the force they think will have the most significant impact on U.S. housing in 2017. If rising rates slow demand for housing, home values will be impacted.
To this point, Pulsenomics, recently surveyed a panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts, asking the question “In your opinion, at what level will the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate significantly slow home value appreciation?” The survey revealed the following:

Bottom Line

Most experts believe that rates would need to hit 5% or above to have an impact on home prices.
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Over Half of All Buyers Are Surprised by Closing Costs

Over Half of All Buyers Are Surprised by Closing Costs

Over Half of All Buyers Are Surprised by Closing Costs – According to a recent survey conducted by ClosingCorp, over half of all homebuyers are surprised by the closing costs required to obtain their mortgage.
After surveying 1,000 first-time and repeat homebuyers, the results revealed that 17% of homebuyers were surprised that closing costs were required at all, while another 35% were stunned by how much higher the fees were than expected.
“Homebuyers reported being most surprised by mortgage insurance, followed by bank fees and points, taxes, title insurance and appraisal fees.”
Bankrate.com recently gathered closing cost data from lenders in every state and Washington, D.C. to be able to share the average costs in each state. The map below was created using the closing costs on a $200,000 mortgage with a 20% down payment.
Keep in mind that if you are in the market for a home above this price range. your costs could be significantly more. According to Freddie Mac,
“Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”

Bottom Line

Speak with your lender and agent early and often to determine how much you’ll be responsible for at closing. Finding out that you’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to.
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