Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

Don’t Miss These Home Tax Deductions

by David DiGioia

From mortgage interest to property tax deductions, here are the tax tips you need to get a jump on your returns.

Exterior of home

If you itemize your deductions, you may get back some of the money you spent on mortgage interest and property taxes.

Owning a home can pay off at tax time.  

Take advantage of these homeownership-related tax deductions and strategies to lower your tax bill:

Mortgage Interest Deduction 

One of the neatest deductions itemizing homeowners 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 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

You can deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance (PMI) as mortgage interest on Schedule A if you itemize your return. The change only applies to loans taken out in 2007 or later.

By the way, the 2014 tax season is the last for which you can claim this deduction unless Congress renews it for 2015, which may happen, but is uncertain.

What’s PMI? If you have a mortgage but didn’t put down a fairly good-sized downpayment (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 can’t claim the 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 generally 100% deductible in the year you paid it 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 or shorten the length of your mortgage, or to use the money for something other than home improvements, such as college tuition, you’ll need to deduct the points over the life of your mortgage. Say you refi into a 10-year mortgage 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 life of the loan.  

Home mortgage interest and points are reported on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040.

Your lender will send you a Form 1098 that lists the points you paid. If not, you should be able to find the amount listed on the HUD-1 settlement sheet you got when you closed the purchase of your home or your refinance closing. 

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.

Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

If you made your home more energy efficient in 2014, you might qualify for the residential energy tax credit.

Tax credits are especially valuable because they let you offset what you owe the IRS dollar for dollar for up to 10% of the amount you spent on certain home energy-efficiency upgrades.  

The credit carries a lifetime cap of $500 (less for some products), so if you’ve used it in years past, you’ll have to subtract prior tax credits from that $500 limit. Lucky for you, there’s no cap on how much you’ll save on utility bills thanks to your energy-efficiency upgrades.

Among the upgrades that might qualify for the credit:

To claim the credit, file IRS Form 5695 with your return. 

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 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. Your expenses are deducted on Schedule E.
  • Rent your home for part of the year and use it yourself for more than the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days you rent it and you have to keep track of income, expenses, and allocate them based on how often you used and how often you rented the house.

Homebuyer Tax Credit

This isn’t a deduction, but it’s important to keep track of if you claimed it in 2008. 

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

If you claimed the homebuyer 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. 

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe each year until it’s paid off. Or if the home stops being your main home, you may need to add the remaining unpaid credit amount to your income tax on your next tax return.

Generally, you don’t have to pay back the credit if you bought your home in 2009, 2010, or early 2011. The exception: You have to repay the full credit amount if you sold your house or stopped using it as primary residence within 36 months of the purchase date. Then you must repay it with your tax return for the year the home stopped being your principal residence.

The repayment rules are less rigorous for uniformed service members, Foreign Service workers, and intelligence community workers who got sent on extended duty at least 50 miles from their principal residence.



Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/tax-deductions/home-tax-deductions/#ixzz3Vt84icax 

US Home Sales Rebound Slightly in February

by David DiGioia

Home Sales

Sales of existing homes rose 1.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million, a slight rebound after plunging in January yet still underperforming by historical standards, the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

The real estate market has hibernated through the first two months of 2015, creating the potential for a second straight year of weak buying activity.

Strong job growth and relatively low mortgage rates have failed to awaken buyers. Meanwhile, relatively few homes are being listed for sale and builders are mostly catering to the wealthiest slivers of the market. Sales are running below last year's pace of 4.93 million, which represented a 3.1 percent drop from 2013.

"The next couple months are some of the most critical of the entire year for housing and sluggish numbers may continue if inventory doesn't increase," said Bill Banfield, vice president of mortgage provider Quicken Loans.

Despite February's uptick, buying activity appears to have been slow coming into March because of a series of harsh winter storms. The weather last month shut down construction and hurt open houses, likely causing fewer signed contracts and put additional downward pressure on completed sales in March.

"Mother Nature will probably make her presence known more in March," said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Housing starts plunged 17 percent in February, the Commerce Department reported last week. Buyer traffic also slipped last month, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index. Mortgage applications slipped in March, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Sales tumbled 6.5 percent last month in the Northeast, which was hammered hard by snow, the Realtors said. Home-buying was unchanged in the Midwest and increased in the South and West.

The recent storms have led several economists to expect a strong recovery in the coming spring months, when more buyers usually step up their search and sellers decide to list their properties.

Still, some homeowners are trapped by mortgage debt, making it unprofitable for them to sell. Their negative equity is a lingering aftershock from the recession and housing bust, limiting the supply of available homes on the market.

The real estate data firm Zillow reported last week that 16.9 percent of homeowners owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth. In several metro areas including Philadelphia, Houston and Boston, that rate actually increased from the levels in the third quarter of 2014.

The Realtors reported Monday that just 4.6 months of supply was listed for sale, compared to a full five months a year ago.

That meager inventory has helped push up sales prices, creating additional affordability pressures despite strong monthly job gains averaging more than 200,000 for the past year.

Median home prices increased 7.5 percent over the past 12 months to $202,600, almost quadruple the pace of average hourly wage gains.

Sales to investors and for all-cash have also declined over the past year, while first-time buyers have yet to return. First-timers accounted for only 29 percent of home sales, compared to a historical average of 40 percent.

Nor have buyers responded much to the comparatively low mortgage rates.

Because of tight credit, few potential buyers have been able to take advantage of the low rates.

An Urban Institute index measuring credit availability found that lenders are taking fewer risks with mortgages, choosing buyers with high credit scores and providing them routine mortgages, rather than the exotic and opaque loans that inflated the housing bubble and led to the financial crisis.

The restricted credit "has been, and threatens to continue to be, a headwind for the housing recovery," said Michelle Meyer, a senior economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in a client note.

Read More: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/us-home-sales-rebound-slightly-february-29839801

Top 10 Common Repair Costs

by David DiGioia

In the life of every home, repairs happen. Here are the top 10 most common repairs that, sooner or later, your house will require.

Dripping kitchen faucet

Congratulations on buying your first house. Now, you have to learn how to keep it in good repair. To be safe, you should set aside money every year — 1% to 3% of your home’s purchase price — for repairs and maintenance.

The good news is that most repairs are simple, inexpensive, and DIY-friendly. If you can fix stuff yourself, you’ll only pay for the cost of materials and save a bundle on these common repairs and replacements.

Common home repair costs infographic

1.  Replace Toilet Fill Valves

That annoying sound of water continually filling and draining from your toilet tank is often caused by leaky fill valve, which a plumber can replace, stopping water waste and restoring quiet. Plumber rates vary widely around the country, from $45 to $150 per hour, and the job will take about two hours — the minimum some plumbers require just to take the job.

Labor: $50 to $200

Materials: $11 to $23

Total: $61 to $223


2.  Repair a Leaky Faucet

The water torture drip-drip-drip from a leaky faucet won’t just drive you insane, it can drive up water bills, too. Depending on the type of faucet you have, fixes typically involve replacing damaged rubber washers (10 for $2), O-rings (10 for $2), or a faucet cartridge ($8 to $30).

Labor: $95 to $300

Materials: $2 to $30

Total: $97 to $330


3.  Replace Ceiling Fan

If you’ve got a ceiling fan, sooner or later the motor will burn out, the blades will warp, and fashions will change, so you’ll need to replace it. Replacing isn’t a big deal, because upgraded wiring, a reinforced ceiling box, and a light switch with ceiling fan controls are already in place. What you’re paying for is an electrician’s time — one or two hours — and a new fixture.

Labor: $50 to $200 

Materials: $54 to $1,000 and up

Total: $104 to $1,200

 

4.  Repair Drywall


Nicks, gashes, and smashes inevitably mar your beautiful walls. You’ll have to patch and paint to make them look as good as new. A painter can do both jobs and will probably give you a flat rate that will include patching or filling blemishes, then sanding, priming, and painting. 

Painters charge $25 to $62 per hour for labor or $2.68 to $4.60 per square foot including materials. Figure it will take about three hours to repair a wall, including drying time for the patching compound and paint. It’s a good idea to save up painting chores so you have enough to keep a painter busy while repairs cure. 

Materials include paint at $12 to $50 or more a gallon, which should cover about 350 square feet; plus another $10 to $50 for brushes, rollers, drop clothes, and drywall patching compound.

Labor: $75 to $186

Materials: $22 to $100

Total: $97 to $286


5.  Repair Cracked Tile

Tile is hard and durable, but drop something heavy on it and it’s likely to crack — a reason to always order more tile than you need so you’ll always have spares. To replace cracked tiles, a handyman must pry out the damaged tiles, scrape away old fixative, re-glue new tiles, and spread new grout. Replacing a 2-foot-by-2-foot section of tile should take one to two hours, not including the drying time required for the adhesive to set.

Labor: $30 to $125 per hour; with possible $150 to $350 minimum charge for a handyman

Materials: $1 to $20 per square foot

Total: $34 to $430


6.  Replace Caulk Around Tubs, Sinks, and Showers

Caulk is the waterproof seal around sinks, tubs, and showers that prevents moisture from seeping through gaps and onto drywall and flooring. When caulk cracks or peels, it should be replaced immediately to prevent mold and rot.

A handyman can dig out old caulk around a tub and reseal with new in about an hour. 

Labor: $30 to $125 per hour; with possible $150 to $350 minimum charge for a handyman 

Materials:  $1 to $4 for a tube of bathroom caulk

Total: $31 to $354


7.  Fix Gutters

Gutters and downspouts carry water from rain and snow away from your house and onto the ground. Sometimes the weight of wet snow and soggy leaves puts too much pressure on gutters, causing them to pull away from the house or pitch at inefficient angles. 

A gutter contractor will clean gutters, and replace or reinstall supportive hardware and hangers. To restore the correct pitch, the contractor must detach and reattach each gutter section.

Labor: $127 to $282 (depending on length of gutter)

Materials: $10 for five hangers; $6 to $9 for gutter sealant

Total: $143 to $301


8.  Fix Out-of-Alignment Doors

Over time, your house moves as its foundation settles and building materials expand and contract with changes in humidity. The movement often is noticed when doorframes shift slightly, causing hinges to creak and doors to not shut properly. 

Adding wooden shims to frames and hinges can bring doors back into alignment and let them easily open and close once again. Replacing worn-out screws with longer screws helps secure hinges tightly.

A handyman can fix a door in about an hour. Materials will include shims and screws.

Labor: $30 to $125 per hour; with possible $150 to $350 minimum charge for a handyman

Materials: $5

Total: $35 to $355


9.  Repair Ice Damming

If your house isn’t insulated correctly or your roof isn’t designed correctly, melting roof snow can run off and freeze around roof edges. Eventually, this can form an ice dam that creeps up your roof, damaging shingles and forcing melting water into your home.

One popular solution to ice damming is to install a heating cable along the roof’s edge, which warms the area and prevents freezing. It’s not a DIY job. Roofing contractors will install the cable, and an electrician will install outlets that will juice up the cable. If you want a thermostat to turn the cable on and off automatically, that’ll be extra, too. 

Labor and materials: $30 to $60 per linear foot

Total: $371 to $1,319 (average job cost)


10.  Fix a Faulty Light Switch

Sometimes you turn on the light but nothing happens; or sparks crackle, and the light turns on. It’s disconcerting, but most likely it’s an easy fix. An electrician will turn off the power, take off the faceplate, check and perhaps tighten wires; or replace the switch. All told, it will take less than an hour.

Labor: $50 to $100 per hour

Materials: $1 to $6 for a single pole light switch

Total: $41 to $106

 

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/repair-tips/home-repair-costs/#ixzz3VDuJkKcC 

AMERICA'S 10 GREATEST PARTY LAKES

by David DiGioia

Lake vacations were once about the blob, your Miller High Life-drinking uncle's legendary Buddha-belly flop, and the awkward muscle-shirt tan. Now, it's all "I'm On A Boat", bikinis, kegs, and debaucherous mayhem.

World-record boat tie-ups, yachts that cost six-figures, and double-decker party barges have turned the lake scene into one Summer-long Spring break. But before you pack the wakeboard and Confederate flag swim floaties, know that not every podunk pond is party central. No, some are wilder than others.

And these 10... well, they're the wildest America has to offer.xpand slideshow to fullscreen

Lake Travis -- Texas

Drop Anchor: Devil's Cove (or Hollow depending on who you ask) never fails to deliver a den of debauchery on the lake's northern shore. Check out Hippie Hollow for an old-school nudie spot.
Lake Appeal: Everything is bigger in Texas and that extends to watercraft. Lake Travis sees your party boat and raises you a barge. Did we mention the water slide? This double-decker complete with an iPod stereo system and a propane barbecue pit (it is Texas after all) sinks your average pontoon experience. Although you'll need to bring your own generator for the margarita machine.

Lake of the Ozarks -- Missouri  

Drop Anchor: Party Cove is, well, exactly that. Watch out for the "gauntlet", two parallel rows of boats that subject any new seafarers to water balloons, serious Super Soaker action, and a steady stream of insults. 
Lake Appeal: This place is so party hardy that even The New York Times deemed it worthy of travel coverage alongside the Hamptons... awkward. From AquaPalooza to ridiculous yachts and lax laws on toplessness, it's a "vast, loud, wet, sexy, joyous, and furious revel", said the Times' "enterprising" reporter.

Lake Havasu -- Arizona

Drop Anchor: Don't miss the Bridgewater Channel. The half-mile stretch from London Bridge to Rotary Park is packed with booze, beer bongs, and a boat-side stripper pole, so you can imagine all the good wholesome fun.
Lake Appeal: Twice-featured on MTV's Spring break coverage and dubbed one of thetrashiest places to spend the March holiday, Havasu is Sin City, South Padre, and Daytona Beach all rolled into one insane on-the-water smorgasbord.   nd slideshow to fullscreen
 

Lake Cumberland -- Kentucky 

Drop Anchor: Harmon Creek Party Cove is the top action spot. It even has a Facebook page
Lake Appeal: Current holder of the Guinness World Records' largest boat tie-up title, this lake floated a snaking line of 1,651 boats, aqua bikes, jet skis, canoes, kayaks, and inflatables -- proving once again that Kentucky doesn't disappoint when it comes to bourbon, thoroughbreds, or boating.  expand slideshow to fullscreen

Lake Tahoe -- California and Nevada

Drop Anchor: Hit up Zephr Cove in South Lake Tahoe for its beachside bar, sand volleyball, and annual Hot Body Contest.  
Lake Appeal: A party oasis for pretty much the entire western half of the US, hit Tahoe on any Summer weekend and you're sure to stumble across plenty of lake-house bonanzas and floating fiestas.expand slideshow to fullscreen

Lake Minnetonka -- Minnesota

Drop Anchor: Big Island is your party play in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and even has its own Twitter feed.
Lake Appeal: The whole Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries affair may have lasted about as long as her music career (yep, that happened), but it didn't stop the couple from dropping in on Lake Minnetonka. This sublime watering hole with 125 miles of shoreline and 42 bays has seen plenty of action, including the alleged sex-party scandal involving members of the Vikings football team a few years back.  

Lake Saint Clair -- Michigan

Drop Anchor: Big Muscamoot Bay (N 42.55783 and W -82.66071) is your move for an R-rated anchorage with rancorous floating parties. Also, an S.S. Pizza Boat delivery service.  
Lake Appeal: Ripe for boat parties with an average depth of 11ft, LSC is also home to Jobbie Nooner, a water-based Mardi Gras that happens twice a year and boasts its share of booze, bare breasts, and big crowds.

Lake Washington -- Washington 

Drop Anchor: Don't miss the Seafair Logboom, where wayward captains attach whatever floating craft they can find to strategically placed logs. The result? A massive floating party and front-and-center seats to the hydroplane boat race and overhead air show.
Lake Appeal: The University of Washington's football stadium sits on the shores of LW, meaning you can expect some intense on-the-water tailgating action well into the Fall.expand slideshow to fullscreen
 

Lake Norman -- North Carolina

Drop Anchor: Don't miss the summertime Social Olympics, which includes your standard fare of drinking games and an awkward/kinky swimsuit swap.
Lake Appeal: Before Lake Cumberland stole the top prize for stringing boats together, Norman was the reigning champ with its strategic "V"-shaped anchor formation. Rest assured, though, the party is still going strong.expand slideshow to fullscreen

Lake Martin -- Alabama

Drop Anchor: Hit up Chimney Rock for some serious cliff-jumping and what one spectator deemed a "floating trailer park party."
Lake Appeal: Don't let wet 'Bama bangs and incessant football cheers deter you from soaking in this 41,000-acre lake, the destination of choice for Aquapalooza's signature 2009 event. Beware of the Alabama-Auburn rivalry though -- the lake scene has been known to produce a few football turncoats.

Read More: http://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/america-s-best-lakes-for-summer-vacation-party-lakes-in-the-us​

Charlotte home values rise by 3.5 percent in December

by David DiGioia

Charlotte's home values rose slightly in December, though the area's price growth is still slower than the U.S. average.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, showed that home values in the Charlotte metropolitan area grew 3.5 percent in December compared with a year earlier. That's up from 3.3 percent in November.

Nationally, home prices rose 4.5 percent in December, up from 4.3 percent in November and the same as October's annual increase, according to S&P/Case-Shiller's 20-city home price index.

A smaller inventory of homes for sale nationwide pushes up prices and makes ownership less attainable for many would-be buyers. The S&P/Case-Shiller report showed that home prices nationwide rose in 2014 at more than twice the rate of inflation and faster than most Americans' wages, even as the labor market improves.

"The housing recovery is faltering. While prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, construction and new home sales remain weak," said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement.

The report showed that the fastest year-over-year gains were in San Francisco and Miami, where prices rose 9.3 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively, over the last year.

The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The December figures are the latest available.


Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2015/02/24/4008008_charlotte-home-values-rise-by.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Read More: http://www.thestate.com/2015/02/24/4008008_charlotte-home-values-rise-by.html?rh=1

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

Contact Information

Photo of David DiGioia Real Estate
David DiGioia
Realty Executives Unlimited
17718 Kings Point Dr, Suite B
Cornelius NC 28031
704-506-6434
Fax: (866)476-8652