Buying · Real Estate · Taxes

One Last Thing to Pack

Whether you buy or sell a home, you will face moving day.  It should be a happy occasion, and you can invite Uncle Sam to the party!  That’s because if you’re relocating and working in a new place, you could qualify for a generous deduction on your income tax return.

Regardless of whether you own or rent, or whether you itemize your deductions or take the standard tax deduction, you can deduct qualified moving expenses.  There are two “litmus tests,” the first of which is that your new job location must be at least 50 miles further away than your old job.  Second, you must remain and work full-time for 39 out of the first 52 weeks after your move.

Even if you haven’t yet worked all 39 of those weeks when you file your next return, you can still claim the deduction.  If for any reason you do not fulfill that requirement after filing, then you’ll have to amend your next year’s return to delete those moving costs.

What sorts of expenses qualify? Hiring movers (or just the moving truck), storage costs (up to thirty days), even the gasoline if you drive from your old home to your new one.  So, before your move, designate a folder for all of your receipts, because the more you can substantiate, the more you can claim! Always check with your CPA or tax professional. Happy Motoring!

This article was originally published on this site on June 12th, 2012. It has been updated reflect the current home market.

Real Estate · Selling

Three Possible Prices

There are many factors that affect how you’ll price your home when you’re ready to sell.  In spite of market conditions, interest rates, and so on, every transaction is unique.  So, you should seek the assistance of an agent and prepare yourself and your home well in advance of placing the For Sale sign out front.

Sometimes a home will have three different possible prices: the price the sellers want to net, the price the buyers would like to offer, and the final sales price agreed upon by both parties.  Your home’s ultimate value is determined by other local sale prices, which are often a product of supply and demand.

The asking price or the offered price are not the whole story, however.  While an offer of $500,000 doesn’t seem to appear as good as an offer of $510,000, pay close attention to the terms attached to that higher offer.  If the buyers also want you to offset closing costs and deduct for a decorating allowance, the “clean” offer of $500,000 might actually put more money in your pocket.

It’s wise to seek representation and assistance with pricing, marketing, negotiation and closing.  Put a real estate agent with local experience to work for you.  Once armed with the facts relating to terms and conditions of local sales, you can move forward with confidence in your listing.

Real Estate · Selling

Paperwork and Personality

As you prepare to sell your home, you must begin by making a choice: to seek the services of a professional or to proceed without representation.  You realize that your home is probably your biggest financial investment, with a value that could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Now imagine if you had a legal problem involving that kind of money – would you prepare and present your own case to the judge without an attorney?  Not surprisingly, managing legal issues is just one of the top reasons that most sellers seek the representation of a qualified real estate professional.

On the paperwork side, there are offers to purchase, sales agreements, inspection reports, title investigations, and more, all leading up to the final closing.  On the personal side, there is the experience and skill required to successfully negotiate between parties, as well as to anticipate and resolve the myriad issues that can arise from listing to offer to sale.

Considering the size of your investment, why would you put any of your stake at risk by forgoing the assistance and advice of an experienced professional?  Maximize your returns with a minimum of hassle and cost.  You wouldn’t go to court without an attorney, and you wouldn’t operate without a surgeon.  It’s easy to see that some things are just too important to handle without an expert.

Note: This article was originally published on this site on January 12, 2016. It has been updated reflect the current home market.

Buying · Financing · Real Estate

Make Me a Match

Real estate agents are not necessarily mortgage specialists.   However, we all know that financing is an integral part of any real estate transaction, and buyers often look to agents for some guidance relating to their loan options.

It is for this very reason that agents maintain strong relationships with local lenders and mortgage specialists.  With all the issues involved in coordinating the sale and purchase of property, many agents simply don’t have the resources to become experts in such an ever-changing field as mortgage products.

There are now more choices than ever in terms of documentation, payment options, and loan terms.  Just as examples, some of the most popular loans are Fixed-Rate Mortgages, Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs), and Interest-Only loans.

“Fixed” are just that – regular principal and interest payments for an established period of time.  ARMs fluctuate, but new “hybrids” offer a fixed rate after a certain number of years.  Interest-only loans are uncertain if you choose not to pay any principal in the early part of the loan, but can work out if you need short-term cash flow or intend to move or refinance shortly.

Every buyer has a best mortgage match, and there are literally hundreds of options.  It can make your head spin!  Have an agent recommend another professional who can help get you into the home of your dreams.


This article was originally published on this site on January 30, 2015. It has been updated reflect the current home market.

Real Estate

Make It Legal

Millions of people each year move from one state to another.  Reasons for relocating range from a new job to retiring to simply better housing.  The financial and personal impact of buying and/or selling a home can be enormous.  One aspect you should fully understand before making a big move is the tax implications.

Real estate agents are not financial advisors, but they do know a thing or two about what to do before relocating.  At the top of the list is to legally change your state of residence and determine how that affects taxes on income, property, and your estate.

Once you’re a legal resident of your new home state, you can apply for incentives like homestead exemptions (if available).  Also make sure you’ve updated the address on your credit report.  Investigate how the enforcement of certain legal documents like wills and powers of attorney might change because of the change in residence.

Rules are different from state to state, and many experts suggest trying to make your move as early in the year as possible in order to minimize the impact.  Tax returns can be confusing when you’re claiming part-time residency in two different states during the year you move.  Trust a real estate professional to help with selling, buying and moving, and seek advice from a tax consultant about the financial implications.

Inspections · Real Estate · Selling

Offer "Peace of Mind"

Do you want to add to the appeal of your home when selling? Aside from basic mechanical or cosmetic repairs your home may need before you list, there’s one other easy and inexpensive way to make buyers feel good about purchasing your home. It’s called a “home warranty,” and for years it’s been a popular marketing tool, especially for older homes.

We all understand that appliances and home systems like heating and air eventually wear out and break down with age. By offering a home warranty to buyers, they are actually receiving “peace of mind,” since the warranty will cover repairs to appliances and other systems for the first year of new ownership.

You also increase the likelihood of a better offer, since buyers won’t try to subtract the cost of expected repairs. They will know they are covered by the home warranty if anything should go wrong. To file a claim, the buyers call a single toll-free number to arrange repairs for any item covered in the policy. Home warranties are so practical that buyers often continue their coverage past the first year.

When selling your home, ask your agent about the different home warranties available, various coverage plans, and their cost. You’ll find that this minimal investment could pay off handsomely in a full price offer from confident buyers! Sound good?

Note: This article was originally published on this site on September 29, 2015. It has been updated reflect the current home market.

Buying · Real Estate · Selling

How Much is Enough

My word is my bond!  That expression held great meaning to land buyers and sellers in the “olden” days.  Most real estate sales were made with a handshake, and a verbal promise to complete the transaction at some future date.

Later, as a show of their good intentions, buyers would give sellers a sum known as “earnest money” to be held until the sale was consummated.  This deposit had more ceremonial significance than monetary assurance of a completed sale.

Today, earnest money deposits are a part of most every real estate transaction.  The amount used as a deposit is negotiable between buyers and sellers, with no minimum or maximum required by law.

There is, however, a strong message attached to the amount of money tendered by buyers.  As the saying goes, “Money talks!”  If sellers are presented with two identical offers on their home, one with a $10,000 deposit, and the other with $500, which do you think they are most likely to accept?  Sellers believe the higher deposit indicates buyers who are more qualified to complete the purchase.

Having said that, understand that earnest money is just one factor to be considered when buying or selling a home.  The amount of the deposit is relative, and depends on the unique nature of each property.  Detailed information about earnest money deposits is available from the real estate agent you choose.