More Americans Confident About Buying

Last week, Fannie Mae released their January 2014 National Housing Survey results.  Two categories reported all-time survey highs.

  • 52% of respondents thought it would be easy for them to get a home mortgage today
  • 70% of respondents said they would buy if they were going to move

Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae explained what this may mean to the real estate market moving forward:

“A majority of consumers now believe that it is getting easier to get a mortgage. For the first time in the National Housing Survey’s three-and-a-half-year history, the share of respondents who said it is easy to get a mortgage surpassed the 50-percent mark. The gradual upward trend in this indicator during the last few months bodes well for the housing recovery and may be contributing to this month’s increase in consumers’ intention to buy rather than rent their next home. The dip in overall home price expectations, though notable, is consistent with our view of moderating home price gains this year from a robust pace last year, while positive trends in perceptions about the economy and personal finances over the next year support our view of stronger growth in the broader economy.”

With home prices projected to increase in 2014 (albeit at a slower pace than they did in 2013) and with mortgage interest rates projected to increase, it is good news that consumers are becoming more confident in their ability to buy a home if they so desire.

If you are considering purchasing a home, let us help you completely throughout the process!

​-Steve and Sandra

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
Seattle-Northwest
122502 Greenwood Ave N, Suite A
Seattle WA 98133
call/text: 206-769-9577
email: stevehill@windermere.com

Check out these useful Home Search Apps:

Windermere for iPad
Windermere for Android

Check out these useful links:

BrennerHill.com
Best In Client Satisfaction
Seattle Real Estate Statistics
Windermere Housing Trends Newsletter

Our Preferred Lenders

George Runnels
Washington First Mortgage
WaFirstMortgage.com
call/text: 206-604-4545

Jackie Murphy
Cobalt Mortgage
CobaltMortgage.com
call/text: 425-260-6834


Posted on February 17, 2014 at 5:29 pm
Steve Hill | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

Baby Its Cold Outside

If you are considering a second home or move away from Seattle, give us a call, we can refer you to a professional brokerage anywhere in the world. We are a members of the premier international relocation network.

?-Steve and Sandra

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
Seattle-Northwest
122502 Greenwood Ave N, Suite A
Seattle WA 98133
call/text: 206-769-9577
email: stevehill@windermere.com

Check out these useful Home Search Apps:

Windermere for iPad
Windermere for Android

Check out these useful links:

BrennerHill.com
Best In Client Satisfaction
Seattle Real Estate Statistics
Windermere Housing Trends Newsletter

Our Preferred Lenders

George Runnels
Washington First Mortgage
WaFirstMortgage.com
call/text: 206-604-4545

Jackie Murphy
Cobalt Mortgage
CobaltMortgage.com
call/text: 425-260-6834


Posted on February 15, 2014 at 6:00 pm
Steve Hill | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Reasons to Buy a Home Now Instead of Spring

Based on prices, mortgage rates and soaring rents, there may have never been a better time in real estate history to purchase a home than right now. Here are five reasons purchasers should consider buying before the Spring market arrives:

Supply Is Shrinking

With inventory declining in many regions, finding a home of your dreams may become more difficult going forward. There are buyers in more and more markets surprised that there is no longer a large assortment of houses to choose from. The best homes in the best locations sell first. Don’t miss the opportunity to get that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ buy.

Price Increases Are on the Horizon

Prices are projected to appreciate by over 25% from now to 2018. First home buyers will probably pay more both in price and interest rate if they wait until the spring. Even if you are a move-up buyer, it will wind-up costing you more in net dollars as the home you will buy will appreciate at approximately the same rate as the house you are in now.

Owning a Home Helps Create Family Wealth

Whether you are rent or you own the home you are living in, you are paying a mortgage. Either you are paying your mortgage or your landlord’s. The Fed, in a recent study, revealed that the net worth of the average homeowner is 30 times greater than that of a renter.

Interest Rates Are Projected to Rise

The Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have all projected that the 30-year mortgage interest rate will be over 5% by the this time next year. That is an increase of almost one full point over current rates.

Buy Low, Sell High

We would all agree that, when investing, we want to buy at the lowest price possible and hope to sell at the highest price. Housing can create family wealth as long as we follow this simple principle. Today, real estate is selling ‘low’ compared to where it will be next year. It’s time to buy.

Let us help you find your new home now, before the Spring rush; give us a call, text or email. We would love to help you!

-Steve and Sandra

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
Seattle-Northwest
122502 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle WA 98133
call/text: 206-769-9577
email: stevehill@windermere.com

Check out these useful Home Search Apps:

Windermere for iPad
Windermere for Android

Check out these useful links:

BrennerHill.com
Best In Client Satisfaction
Seattle Real Estate Statistics
Windermere Housing Trends Newsletter

Our Preferred Lenders

George Runnels
Washington First Mortgage
WaFirstMortgage.com
call/text: 206-604-4545

Jackie Murphy
Cobalt Mortgage
CobaltMortgage.com
call/text: 425-260-6834


Posted on February 14, 2014 at 6:03 pm
Steve Hill | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Be Quiet Chicken Little. The Sky is NOT Falling

There has been much speculation about what is causing the falling sales numbers in the most recent Existing Home Sales Reports (EHS) from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Some have claimed that rising interest rates have scared buyers out of the market. Others have claimed that consumers are just losing confidence in the housing recovery fearing a new bubble may be forming. We want to look at the validity of these two assumptions.

MORTGAGE INTEREST RATES

ASSUMPTION: Rising interest rates have forced buyers back onto the fence. Evidence offered up by those in this camp comes directly from the EHS Report from NAR. Three of the last four reports revealed that sales were below sales from the same month the previous year.

THE REALITY: Though it is true year-over-year sales have fallen nationally, a closer look at the report reveals major regional differences. Sales in the West Region are down 10.7% versus the same month last year. Sales in the Midwest Region are also down but by less than 1%. The Northeast Region is up 3.2% and the Southern Region is up 4.6%.

If the issue is interest rates, why is one region virtually unchanged and two of the remaining three regions up in sales? We don’t believe rates are the challenge.

CONSUMER CONFIDENCE in REAL ESTATE is ERODING

ASSUMPTION: The pace of the recent price increases has caused many to fear the emergence of a new housing bubble. Similar to the first assumption, evidence offered up by those in this camp comes directly from the less than enthusiastic EHS Reports from NAR.

THE REALITY: As we mentioned before, sales in the Midwest Region are down but by less than 1%. The Northeast and the Southern Region have both shown increased sales as compared to the year before. Are only the consumers in the Western Region afraid of a possible bubble forming?

The fear of a new housing bubble is vastly overstated. Forty states have not yet returned to home values they experienced seven to nine years ago. Nineteen of those forty states still have home prices 15% or more below peak prices. We believe home values will continue to increase but just at a slower rate of appreciation.

It is not just us that believe this is the case. The over 100 housing experts recently surveyed by Pulsenomics revealed that they believe prices will continue to appreciate at historical annual numbers (3-4%) for at least the next five years.

THEN WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE?

If the lack of sales is not the result of increasing interest rates or decreasing consumer confidence, what actually is happening? We believe it can be broken down to three words: LACK of INVENTORY.

Inventories of foreclosure and short sale properties are falling like a rock in the vast majority of regions across the nation. These two categories of homes have driven the market for the last few years. As foreclosures and short sales sell, they are not being replaced because the economy has gotten better and more families have regained control of their finances. All fifty states have seen a decrease in the number of homeowners who are seriously delinquent on their mortgage payments with thirty nine states seeing the number shrink by over 20%.

This inventory has not yet begun to be replaced by the non-distressed properties in the country. Just this month, NAR revealed that the months’ inventory of homes for sale has dropped to only a 4 month supply. A normal market has between 5-6 months’ supply.

This is the main reason home sales are declining in certain regions – there are just not enough houses for sale.

BOTTOM LINE

With the economy improving and with homeowners gaining back some equity they lost when prices fell, we believe there will be many homes coming unto the market this spring. A recent survey revealed that 71% of homeowners are at least considering selling their home in 2014.

If you are thinking of selling, beating this increased competition to the market before spring might make sense – and might enable you to get the best price possible for your home.

Give us a call, text or email to discover what option make the most sense for you.

?-Steve and Sandra

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
Seattle-Northwest
122502 Greenwood Ave N, Suite A
Seattle WA 98133
call/text: 206-769-9577
email: stevehill@windermere.com

Check out these useful Home Search Apps:

Windermere for iPad
Windermere for Android

Check out these useful links:

BrennerHill.com
Best In Client Satisfaction
Seattle Real Estate Statistics
Windermere Housing Trends Newsletter

Our Preferred Lenders

George Runnels
Washington First Mortgage
WaFirstMortgage.com
call/text: 206-604-4545

Jackie Murphy
Cobalt Mortgage
CobaltMortgage.com
call/text: 425-260-6834


Posted on February 12, 2014 at 6:02 pm
Steve Hill | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t For Sale by Owner

Some homeowners consider trying to sell their home on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). We think there are several reasons this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are five of our reasons:

1. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to FSBO.

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value
  • Your bank in the case of a short sale

2. Exposure to Perspective Purchasers

Recent studies have shown that 92% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 28% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

3.  Results Come from the Internet

Where do buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 43% on the internet
  • 9% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

4. FSBOing has Become More and More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 9% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money when Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $184,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $230,000.   This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $46,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with us and see what we have to offer!

-Steve and Sandra

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
Seattle-Northwest
122502 Greenwood Ave N, Suite A
Seattle WA 98133
call/text: 206-769-9577
email: stevehill@windermere.com

Check out these useful Home Search Apps:

Windermere for iPad
Windermere for Android

Check out these useful links:

BrennerHill.com
Best In Client Satisfaction
Seattle Real Estate Statistics
Windermere Housing Trends Newsletter

Our Preferred Lenders

George Runnels
Washington First Mortgage
WaFirstMortgage.com
call/text: 206-604-4545

Jackie Murphy
Cobalt Mortgage
CobaltMortgage.com
call/text: 425-260-6834


Posted on February 10, 2014 at 1:00 pm
Steve Hill | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Windermere Real Estate Seattle :: King and Snohomish Counties

According to Trendgraphix, the nation's most trusted real estate reporting company, Windermere Real Estate continues to be the leader in King and Snohomish market share and I am proud to be a contributor to their success.

Over the last 12 months, Windermere Rel Estate has sold over 26% of the homes in King and Snohomish County. And if you ask about commission, Windermere charges less than Refin overall, 2.96% vs 2.97%!

There are endless reasons to use a real estate brokerage like Windermere to sell your home.

Here are five of ours:

1. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to FSBO.

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value
  • Your bank in the case of a short sale

2. Exposure to Prospective Purchasers

Recent studies have shown that 92% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 28% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

3.  Results Come from the Internet

Where do buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 43% on the internet
  • 9% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

4. FSBOing has Become More and More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 9% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money when Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $184,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $230,000.   This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $46,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a real estate professional in your marketplace and see what they have to offer.

When you are ready to buy or sell, give us a call, email or text, we would love for you to be a part of our success.

​-Steve and Sandra

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
Seattle-Northwest
122502 Greenwood Ave N, Suite A
Seattle WA 98133
call/text: 206-769-9577
email: stevehill@windermere.com

Check out these useful Home Search Apps:

Windermere for iPad
Windermere for Android

Check out these useful links:

BrennerHill.com
Best In Client Satisfaction
Seattle Real Estate Statistics
Windermere Housing Trends Newsletter

Our Preferred Lenders

George Runnels
Washington First Mortgage
WaFirstMortgage.com
call/text: 206-604-4545

Jackie Murphy
Cobalt Mortgage
CobaltMortgage.com
call/text: 425-260-6834

 

 


Posted on February 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm
Steve Hill | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Light Bulbs for Energy Efficiency and Beautiful Light

By: Karin Beuerlein

Published: June 27, 2013

We decipher light bulb labels so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting in terms of brightness, color, and energy efficiency.

If you wind up with lighting that’s harsh, flat, or unpleasant — like when you’re trying on bathing suits in a retail dressing room — it won’t matter that you got that LED on sale or that it lasts forever. You’ll wish it didn’t.

For most home lighting, your choice boils down to three options, from most to least expensive:

  • LEDs
  • Fluorescents (including CFLs)
  • Energy-efficient (halogen) incandescents, which meet the government’s new energy efficiency standards and aren’t being phased out.

Related: Energy-efficient light bulbs are just one way to take back your energy bills.

So how do you choose?

Learn the New Light Bulb Language

Since January 1, 2012, the Federal Trade Commission has required a new “Lighting Facts” label. It was designed to help consumers break the habit of picking bulbs based on wattage to determine brightness. Now a metric called lumens is used for this task. Wattage only measures the amount of power a light bulb consumes.

Confused? Here’s an example: If you want to replace a 100-watt incandescent with an LED bulb and get the same brightness as the old bulb, you’d need a 27-watt LED bulb with an output of 1,600 lumens.

How to Read the New Label

While the new light bulb lingo sounds pretty complicated, it’s not once you get the gist. Here’s a breakdown of the “Lighting Facts” label:

Brightness: Here’s a quick tip: the brighter the light bulb, the higher the number. Standard bulbs range from 250 to 2,600 lumens.

Estimated Yearly Energy Cost: How does this add up? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, by upgrading 15 traditional incandescents in your home with energy-saving bulbs, you can save about $50 per year on your energy bill. Plus, energy-efficient bulbs produce about 75% less heat, so you may see additional savings when it comes to home cooling.

Life: The life of each bulb is estimated based on the usage described. Keep in mind that labels marked Energy Star meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
Energy Star LEDs use about 25% of the energy and can last about 25 times longer than traditional incandescents.

Energy Star CFLs use about 25% of the energy and last 10 times longer than a comparable traditional incandescent.

Light Appearance: Terms such as “soft white” don’t mean the same thing from brand to brand. To compare bulbs, you need to know their color temperature, which is measured in kelvins on a scale of 1,000 (the warmest — think candlelight) to 10,000 (the coolest — like a blue sky). LEDs, CFLs, and halogen incandescents all come in a wide range of color temperatures.

Here’s a quick kelvin breakdown for easy reference:

  • The 2700–3000K range is warm and inviting.
  • 3500K casts a neutral light.
  • 4100K casts a cool and bright light.
  • The 5500K-6500K range is closest to daylight.

Energy Used: As we mentioned above, wattage now only measures energy usage, not brightness. So the lower the wattage, the less energy used.

Contains Mercury: Have no fear; only CFLs have a small amount of mercury, so you won’t see this if you are purchasing LEDs or energy-efficient (halogen) incandescents.

What’s Not on the Label?

Not all specs are covered on the FTC label.  So we suggest searching for bulbs online if you’re seeking something really specific. You can often find the necessary info on manufacturers’ websites. Stuff you can look for includes:

How well the bulb shows off colors and textures. This is the key to whether you’ll be satisfied with the quality of light you get. Look for the color rendering index (CRI), a measurement of 1 to 100. The higher the bulb’s score, the better.

Incandescent halogen bulbs score a perfect 100. CFLs and LEDs don’t fare as well as a group, although some individual bulbs get high scores.

How the bulb casts off its light (in technical terms, beam spread). Let’s say you use track lighting to highlight a piece of artwork. “If you want to light a 15×9-in. picture on the wall, you don’t need a 4×4-ft. spread of light,” Witte says. “To be energy-efficient, match the beam spread with the task, putting light only where you need it.”

Buying the Best Bulb for the Job

The key to setting the mood is combining different sources to create pleasing layers of light, says lighting designer Rosemarie Allaire. So here are a few more features to keep in mind that will help simplify the bulb selection process.

Halogen incandescent: They give off the same quality of light as the old bulbs, but save 25% on energy costs. They do cost more than the originals, but less than LEDs or CFLs. Plus, “Incandescent light renders color and texture beautifully,” Allaire says.

LED: “LEDs don’t have the three-dimensional light quality that incandescents do, and I find them to be flat,” Allaire says. “They’re all over the map as far as color rendering goes, and they don’t dim well, so I don’t use them in living areas or for art lighting. But their long life is a big plus.” Tip: LEDs will continue to improve rapidly as technology advances. But for now, be sure to check the label for color rendering and color temperature before you buy.

CFLs: CFL lighting is diffuse, so its color rendering generally isn’t up to snuff compared with incandescents. But if you find a particular brand with a color temperature you like, CFLs can work nicely in drop-bowl fixtures and table lamps — places where air circulates freely around the bulb. CFLs don’t do well with too much heat buildup.

Related: Choosing Bulbs Based on Light Fixtures

Additional Tips:

Test-drive individual bulbs. Once you’ve picked a bulb based on the above criteria, buy one and see its light quality in a fixture at home before you commit to buying multiples.

Visit a lighting showroom. Lighting stores can connect you with a wider range of products than you’ll find in big-box stores. Also, the way a bulb casts light in a particular fixture is crucial, so view different combinations in a showroom setting.

Consult a pro. If you’re stuck, ask a lighting designer for help. The International Association of Lighting Designers is a good source for independent consultants (those who don’t sell products). Ask a designer for a one-hour consultation.

For more information, visit HouseLogic.com

-Steve and Sandra

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
Seattle-Northwest
122502 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle WA 98133
call/text: 206-769-9577
email: stevehill@windermere.com

Check out these useful Home Search Apps:

Windermere for iPad
Windermere for Android

Check out these useful links:

BrennerHill.com
Best In Client Satisfaction
Seattle Real Estate Statistics
Windermere Housing Trends Newsletter

Our Preferred Lenders

George Runnels
Washington First Mortgage
WaFirstMortgage.com
call/text: 206-604-4545

Jackie Murphy
Cobalt Mortgage
CobaltMortgage.com
call/text: 425-260-6834


Posted on February 7, 2014 at 6:01 pm
Steve Hill | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Don’t-Miss Home Tax Breaks

Don't-Miss Home Tax Breaks

By: Dona DeZube

Published: January 10, 2013

From the mortgage interest deduction to energy tax credits, here are the tax tips you need to get a jump on your returns.

Mortgage interest deduction
Private mortgage insurance deduction
Prepaid interest deduction
Energy tax credits
Vacation or second home tax deductions
Home buyer tax credit repayment
Property tax deduction

Mortgage interest deduction

One of the neatest deductions itemizing home owners can take advantage of is the mortgage interest deduction, which you claim on Schedule A. To get the mortgage interest deduction, your mortgage must be secured by your home — and your home can even be a house trailer or boat, as long as you can sleep in it, cook in it, and it has a toilet.

Interest you pay on a mortgage of up to $1 million — or $500,000 if you’re married filing separately — is deductible when you use the loan to buy, build, or improve your home.

If you take on another mortgage (including a second mortgage, home equity loan, or home equity line of credit) to improve your home or to buy or build a second home, that counts towards the $1 million limit.

If you use loans secured by your home for other things — like sending your kid to college — you can still deduct the interest on loans up $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately) because your home secures the loan.

PMI and FHA mortgage insurance premiums

Helpfully, the government extended the mortgage insurance premium deduction through 2013. You can deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance as mortgage interest on Schedule A — meaning you must itemize your return. The change only applies to loans taken out in 2007 or later.

What’s PMI? If you have a mortgage but didn’t put down a fairly good-sized down payment (usually 20%), the lender requires the mortgage be insured. The premium on that insurance can be deducted, so long as your income is less than $100,000 (or $50,000 for married filing separately).

If your adjusted gross income is more than $100,000, your deduction is reduced by 10% for each $1,000 ($500 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return) that your adjusted gross income exceeds $100,000 ($50,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return). So, if you make $110,000 or more, you lose 100% of this deduction (10% x 10 = 100%).

Besides private mortgage insurance, there's government insurance from FHA, VA, and the Rural Housing Service. Some of those premiums are paid at closing and deducting them is complicated. A tax adviser or tax software program can help you calculate this deduction. Also, the rules vary between the agencies.

Prepaid interest deduction

Prepaid interest (or points) you paid when you took out your mortgage is 100% deductible in the year you paid them along with other mortgage interest.

If you refinance your mortgage and use that money for home improvements, any points you pay are also deductible in the same year.

But if you refinance to get a better rate and term or to use the money for something other than home improvements, such as college tuition, you’ll need to deduct the points over the term of the loan. Say you refi for a 10-year term and pay $3,000 in points. You can deduct $300 per year for 10 years.

So what happens if you refi again down the road?

Example: Three years after your first refi, you refinance again. Using the $3,000 in points scenario above, you’ll have deducted $900 ($300 x 3 years) so far. That leaves $2,400, which you can deduct in full the year you complete your second refi. If you paid points for the new loan, the process starts again; you can deduct the points over the term of the loan. 

Home mortgage interest and points are reported on IRS Form 1098. You enter the combined amount on line 10 of Schedule A. If your 1098 form doesn’t indicate the points you paid, you should be able to confirm the amount by consulting your HUD-1 settement sheet. Then you record that amount on line 12 of Schedule A.

Energy tax credits

The energy tax credit of up to a lifetime $500 had expired in 2011. But the Feds extended it for 2012 and 2013. If you upgraded one of the following systems this year, it’s an opportunity for a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability: If you get the $500 credit, you pay $500 less in taxes.

  • Biomass stoves
  • Heating, ventilation, air conditioning
  • Insulation
  • Roofs (metal and asphalt)
  • Water heaters (non-solar)
  • Windows, doors, and skylights
  • Storm windows and doors

Varying maximums

Some of the eligible products and systems are capped even lower than $500. New windows are capped at $200 — and not per window, but overall. Read about the fine print in order to claim your energy tax credit.

  • Determine if the system is eligible. Go to Energy Star’s website for detailed descriptions of what’s covered. And talk to your vendor.
  • The product or system must have been installed, not just contracted for, in the tax year you'll be claiming it.
  • Save system receipts and manufacturer certifications. You’ll need them if the IRS asks for proof.
  • File IRS Form 5695 with the rest of your tax forms.

Vacation home tax deductions

The rules on tax deductions for vacation homes are complicated. Do yourself a favor and keep good records about how and when you use your vacation home.

  • If you’re the only one using your vacation home (you don’t rent it out for more than 14 days a year), you can deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes on Schedule A.
  • Rent your vacation home out for more than 14 days and use it yourself fewer than 15 days (or 10% of total rental days, whichever is greater), and it’s treated like a rental property. Those expenses get deducted using Schedule E.
  • Rent your home for part of the year and use it yourself for more than 14 days and you have to keep track of income, expenses, and divide them proportionate to how often you used and how often you rented the house.

Home buyer tax credit

There were federal first-time home buyer tax credits in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

  • If you claimed the home buyer tax credit for a purchase made after April 8, 2008, and before Jan. 1, 2009, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years, with no interest.
  • If you used the tax credit in 2009 or 2010 and then sold your house or stopped using it as your primary residence, within 36 months of the purchase date, you also have to pay back the credit. Example: If you bought a home in 2010 and sold in 2012, you pay it back with your 2012 taxes.
  • That repayment rules are less rigorous for uniformed service members, Foreign Service workers, and intelligence community workers who get sent on extended duty at least 50 miles from their principal residence.

Members of the armed forces who served overseas got an extra year to use the first-time home buyer tax credit. If you were abroad for at least 90 days between Jan. 1, 2009, and April 30, 2010, and you bought your home by April 30, 2011, and closed the deal by June 30, 2011, you can claim your first-time home buyer tax credit.

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe.

Property tax deduction

You can deduct on Schedule A the real estate property taxes you pay. If you have a mortgage with an escrow account, the amount of real estate property taxes you paid shows up on your annual escrow statement.

If you bought a house this year, check your HUD-1 Settlement statement to see if you paid any property taxes when you closed the purchase of your house. Those taxes are deductible on Schedule A, too.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice; tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

For more information, visit HouseLogic.com

?-Steve and Sandra

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
Seattle-Northwest
122502 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle WA 98133
call/text: 206-769-9577
email: stevehill@windermere.com

Check out these useful Home Search Apps:

Windermere for iPad
Windermere for Android

Check out these useful links:

BrennerHill.com
Best In Client Satisfaction
Seattle Real Estate Statistics
Windermere Housing Trends Newsletter

Our Preferred Lenders

George Runnels
Washington First Mortgage
WaFirstMortgage.com
call/text: 206-604-4545

Jackie Murphy
Cobalt Mortgage
CobaltMortgage.com
call/text: 425-260-6834


Posted on February 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm
Steve Hill | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional

We are often asked if it makes sense to hire a real estate professional when buying or selling a home. We always emphatically answer – YES!

Here are five reasons why:

PAPERWORK

An agent will help with all disclosures and paperwork necessary in today’s heavily regulated environment. This helps remove much of the liability a buyer or seller could face.

EXPERIENCE

Navigating today’s real estate and mortgage processes can be like walking through a minefield of challenges. Real estate professionals are well educated in and experienced with the entire sales process.

NEGOTIATIONS

Negotiating such a large financial transaction can get tricky. Agents act as a ‘buffer’ in negotiations with all parties throughout the entire transaction.

PRICING

Real estate professionals help buyers and sellers understand the true real estate value of a property in today’s market. This is crucial when setting the price on a listing or on an offer to purchase.

UNDERSTANDING OF CURRENT MARKET CONDITIONS

There is a plethora of housing information available today. The challenge is that some information appears to be in direct conflict with other pieces of information. A true real estate professional can simply and effectively explain today’s real estate headlines and decipher what they mean to you.

-Steve and Sandra

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
Seattle-Northwest
122502 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle WA 98133
call/text: 206-769-9577
email: stevehill@windermere.com

Check out these useful Home Search Apps:

Windermere for iPad
Windermere for Android

Check out these useful links:

BrennerHill.com
Best In Client Satisfaction
Seattle Real Estate Statistics
Windermere Housing Trends Newsletter

Our Preferred Lenders

George Runnels
Washington First Mortgage
WaFirstMortgage.com
call/text: 206-604-4545

Jackie Murphy
Cobalt Mortgage
CobaltMortgage.com
call/text: 425-260-6834


Posted on February 3, 2014 at 2:27 pm
Steve Hill | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

What it Cost if You Waited to Buy

With a rise in interest rates on the horizon. How will your Buyer's Purchasing Power be impacted?

If you have questions about mortgage rates, give us a call text or email or contact one of our premier lenders listed below.

-Steve and Sandra

Steve Hill and Sandra Brenner
Windermere Real Estate/FN
Seattle-Northwest
122502 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle WA 98133
call/text: 206-769-9577
email: stevehill@windermere.com

Check out these useful Home Search Apps:

Windermere for iPad
Windermere for Android

Check out these useful links:

BrennerHill.com
Best In Client Satisfaction
Seattle Real Estate Statistics
Windermere Housing Trends Newsletter

Our Preferred Lenders

George Runnels
Washington First Mortgage
WaFirstMortgage.com
call/text: 206-604-4545

Jackie Murphy
Cobalt Mortgage
CobaltMortgage.com
call/text: 425-260-6834


Posted on January 15, 2014 at 9:00 pm
Steve Hill | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,