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IRS Clarifies Home Equity Loan Tax Deductions Under New Law

This year’s tax season is bringing to light taxpayer confusion surrounding The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which could impact homeowners in next year’s tax filing. The IRS is taking steps to clarify what the new provisions mean for the real estate industry and homeowners.

One of the most misunderstood provisions in the new tax law expires in 2026 and prohibits the deduction of interest paid on home equity lines of credit and home equity loans except when the funds are used to substantially improve the taxpayer’s home. The IRS recently issued a statement clarifying that the deduction has not been removed, but is instead available under new home improvement restrictions:

“…despite newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labelled,” according to an IRS release.

Homeowners must continue to meet the requirements of the previous law, which stated the loan must be secured by the taxpayer’s main or second residence, and the funds cannot surpass the cost of the home.

National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) President Elizabeth Mendenhall commended the IRS on its efforts to clarify how homeowners can take advantage of the HELOC tax provision.

“The National Association of REALTORS® is pleased with the IRS announcement clarifying and confirming that under the new tax law owners can continue to deduct the interest on a home equity loan, line of credit or second mortgage when the proceeds are used to substantially improve their residence,” said Mendenhall in a statement. “There has been much confusion on this issue, and the continued deductibility will bring real benefits to those who choose to take on remodeling projects to bring more resale value to their home or gain equity that may have been lost during the downturn.”

Randy Noel, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders NAHB), also supported keeping this provision within the new law.

“The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) applauds [this] announcement by the IRS clarifying that households can take a tax deduction on a home equity loan or home equity line of credit if the loan is used for home improvements,” said Noel in a statement. “This is a major victory for remodelers and for homeowners who want to invest in their homes. NAHB has been pushing hard for this outcome since December, when The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was signed into law. We will continue to work with Congress and the Administration as they hammer out the details of the new tax law.”

Stay tuned to RISMedia for more developments.

Dominguez_Liz_60x60_4cLiz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Why Your Mortgage Is Getting More Expensive

(TNS)—World events are conspiring to make it more expensive for you to borrow money to buy a house.

Mortgage rates have increased for five consecutive weeks, according to Bankrate data, bringing interest on a 30-year fixed rate loan to 4.44 percent—the highest level in 11 months—while home prices continue to rise due to a lack of available homes.

After years of tepid economic growth, animal spirits are aflame. Inflation and wage growth recently found a groove, while the Federal Reserve’s plan to raise short-term interest rates multiple times for a consecutive year has reduced the value of government debt. The yield on 10-year Treasuries is close to a four-year high. (Bond prices and yields are inversely related.)

Oh, and China may reduce its appetite for U.S. bonds.

Homebuyers Should Get off the Fence
Mortgage rates are moved by the yield on 10-year Treasuries, rather than short-term rate hikes by the Fed. That’s why mortgage rates fell throughout 2017, for instance, even as the central bank raised the federal funds rate three times.

Rates remain cheap, however, compared to historical prices. A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage came with an interest rate above 6 percent just before the Great Recession in 2007.

Potential homeowners should get off the fence and make a bid, assuming you have an affordable home target and adequate savings, because rates are likely only heading north.

Why Mortgage Rates Are Increasing
You’ve seen this movie before.

Immediately after the 2016 election, investors sold government debt en masse, causing the 10-year yield to rise from 1.88 percent on November 8 to 2.60 percent five weeks later. That dramatic rise was predicated on investors thinking a newly Republican-controlled Washington would bring about faster economic growth through infrastructure spending and tax cuts.

Optimism waned throughout 2017, though, as the GOP failed to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, casting doubt on their cohesion as a governing party. The long-promised massive infrastructure bill never materialized, while the prospects of a tax overhaul dampened. By the first week of September, the 10-year yield was 2.05 percent.

But then Republicans made progress on a $1.5 trillion tax bill, while the employment picture continued to brighten, and the U.S. economy grew at a solid clip over the last six months of the year.

With Congress agreeing to a $300 billion spending bill—which will only throw more coal on the burning economy—investors see fewer reasons to own bonds. Economic growth and higher pay could result in long-awaited inflation gains. Prices have been rising below the Fed’s 2 percent target, according to the central bank’s preferred prices gauge, for years now.

Higher inflation is a boon for fixed-rate borrowers but hurts debtors. The January jobs report, which showed a 2.9 percent-year-over year earnings increase, was a signal to market observers that inflation may be coming.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported in January that China, the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, may reduce or cease U.S. debt purchases, causing market jitters.

Should You Be Worried?
Given the recent run-up in yields, you may be worried—but don’t panic just yet.

“This is not alarming,” notes Chris Vincent, fixed income portfolio manager at William Blair. “There is no significant drama in the credit markets.”

Markets, after nearly a decade of low rates and low growth, are adjusting to the new normal and corresponding volatility—and while China may own over a trillion dollars of U.S. debt, that’s less than 20 percent of all debt owned by foreign nations, and a fifth of what America owes itself.

You are entering a world where it’s going to become more expensive to borrow money. It’s time to get used to it.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Survey Finds Hidden Costs of Homeownership

(TNS)—Your day burns brightly on both ends.

You prod your kids out of bed at daybreak, get them dressed, fed and off to school. You drive to work, endure meetings, colleagues, power lunches, memos and strategy sessions, only to return home through gridlocked traffic just as the sun sets, beg your kids to eat dinner, wash them, coax them to sleep, do the dishes and then mercifully collapse in front of the television set.

You fret over your emergency savings account, retirement savings account, credit card debt, mortgage rate, health insurance, college savings, and on and on.

It makes sense, then, you’d opt to pay a cleaning or lawn service every week to lighten your load. Hiring someone to keep your property in working order, either on your own or through homeowners association fees, doesn’t come cheap, though.

More than three in five homeowners—63 percent—use at least one recurring home maintenance provider, while 35 percent use two, according to a recent Bankrate survey. The average homeowner pays $2,000 annually on maintenance services, the survey finds.

Costs of Owning a Home
The price of biweekly landscaping probably never factored into your calculus when deciding how much house you can afford.

The average home mortgage neared $250,000 last year, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, which came with a monthly principal and interest payment of $973, or about one-sixth of median family income.

Homeowners saw an average property tax bill of $3,300 in 2016, according to ATTOM’s most recent data, adding another $275 to your monthly budget. You’ll also owe hundreds more in insurance premiums depending on where you live and what type of house you own.

That doesn’t even include the money you need saved in case something unexpected happens. If your air conditioning unit or washer and dryer gives out, you could immediately owe hundreds, if not thousands.

Kevin Mahoney, CEO of fee-only financial advice firm Illumint, recommends to designate a savings account as a “home maintenance fund.” Mahoney, who recently bought a renovated row house in Washington, D.C., contributes $100 to $200 a month as a hedge against unexpected repairs and wear-and-tear. Maintaining a house fund will inoculate you against high-interest debt, leaving your budget open for routine maintenance services.

Cost You Probably Didn’t Think About
After the years required to amass a sufficient down payment—the average among new homebuyers is 11 percent—and all the big costs staring homeowners in the face, it’s little wonder if you don’t account for smaller fare.

But the price tag for convenience can rise quickly.

People who opt for housekeeping shell out an average of $285 a month, while HOA dues ($210) and landscaping ($144) followed behind. A home security system costs $130, slightly more than pool care ($123). Snow removal ($84), septic service ($67) and trash and recycling collection ($55) proved more affordable.

Unsurprisingly, renters are less likely than homeowners to pay for recurring maintenance services, and when they do, they pay less for most services.

On average, renters pay less for housekeeping ($128), HOA dues ($71), pool care ($70), landscaping ($61) and snow removal ($24); however, they fork over a little more for security systems ($142), septic service ($113), and trash and recycling collection ($63).

Nate Masterson, a director of Finance for Maple Holistics, pays $1,000 annually for gardening services, and another $70 to clear his Riverside, N.Y., home of snow.

“It would require a lot of strenuous work to perform either task, and it’s simply more worthwhile for me to pay a professional,” says Masterson, 34.

Make Sure You Account for All Costs
Americans broadly struggle mightily to save.

The average person wouldn’t pay for an unexpected $1,000 expense from their savings, per a recent Bankrate survey, while the median amount in a savings and checking account for a middle-income household has essentially remained flat over the past 27 years, according to Federal Reserve data.

Credit card debt recently hit an all-time high, while the personal savings rate has dropped precipitously over the past two years.

If you don’t have a fully-funded emergency fund comprising three to six months’ worth of expenses in a high-yield savings account, strongly consider suspending as many as these services as possible until you do. Dropping almost $300 a month on housekeeping while lacking $1,000 in the bank is simply too risky. What if the roof caves in? At the very least, start contributing to a home maintenance fund.

You may not have a say in other costs—trash collection and HOA fees were two of the three most common—but make sure to account for those expenses into your budget prior to moving in, and in your emergency fund.

Life’s hard, and there’s nothing wrong with paying someone else to mow your lawn. Unless you can’t afford it.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Survey Finds Hidden Costs of Homeownership appeared first on RISMedia.

Buyers Entering the Market Solo Struggle

Accumulating a down payment is a struggle—and even more so for singles, according to a new report.

Singles are facing more than 10 years of saving, assuming they make a 20 percent down payment on a median-priced property, an analysis by Zillow reveals. Conversely, couples can do it in half the time: 4.6 years.

In addition, buyers have limited options when solo: 45 percent of inventory, compared to couples, who can afford 82 percent of supply.

“Nearly two-thirds of Americans agree that buying a home is a central part of living the American Dream, but for unmarried or un-partnered Americans, that dream is increasingly out of reach,” says Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “Single buyers typically have more limited budgets, which means they are likely competing for lower-priced homes that are in high demand. Having two incomes allows buyers to compete in higher-priced tiers where competition is not as stiff.”

The challenge is intensified in markets with rising values, the report shows. Couples face 14 years of saving in San Jose, Calif.—already a haul—but for singles, that span stretches over 30 years. In San Francisco, Calif., couples can amass enough for 20 percent down in 12.6 years, but singles have a longer road, at 27.8 years.

A handful of markets are more realistic for singles: Indianapolis, Ind. (7.5 years of saving); Cleveland, Ohio, and Detroit, Mich. (8 years); and St. Louis, Mo., and Pittsburgh, Pa. (8.1 years).

Across the largest metros:

Zillow_Down_Payment

Analysts assumed buyers are portioning off 10 percent of their income each year to savings. According to 2016 Census data, annual earnings were a median $80,800 for couples and $34,500 for singles.

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

DeVita_Suzanne_60x60Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Buyers Entering the Market Solo Struggle appeared first on RISMedia.

Automation and Customization: Renter Wishes

Apartment dwellers’ preferences are shifting…toward what owners want, new research shows.

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), an apartment industry organization, convenience, personalization and smart home technology are high on renters’ wish lists. In the NMHC’s 2018 Consumer Housing Insights Survey, 92 percent of respondents believe convenience and ease are important in a rental. Further necessitating the need are the 63 percent of respondents who say they are busy with a “hectic” life.

Homeowners have similar tastes—in fact, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) found that two generations of homeowners are looking for walkability, and Coldwell Banker Real Estate research reveals 32 percent have incorporated smart technology, including smart locks and thermostats.

The ability to customize is also in-demand, according to the NMHC survey. Ninety-four percent believe personalization is significant, and 60 percent believe their home is indicative of who they are.

Seventy-eight percent, meanwhile, are after a rental that can be altered easily to meet their needs, whether in the future or the present. Tellingly, 40 percent expect to remote-work, highlighting interest in office space, or, at the very least, reliable cell reception and internet.

Source: National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC)

DeVita_Suzanne_60x60Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Automation and Customization: Renter Wishes appeared first on RISMedia.

Michael McGehee
Michael McGehee
REMAX REDZONE
Harker Heights, TX 76548
254 290-1602
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