New tax legislation was signed into law at the end of 2017, and it included some significant changes for homeowners. These changes took effect in 2018 and do not influence your 2017 taxes. Here’s a brief overview of this year’s tax changes and how they may affect you*.
The amount of mortgage interest you can deduct has decreased.
Under the old law, taxpayers could deduct the interest they paid on a mortgage of up to $1 million. The new law reduces the mortgage interest deduction from $1 million to $750,000. These changes do not affect mortgages taken out before December 15, 2017.
The home equity loan deduction has changed.
The IRS states that, 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 labeled. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, enacted December 22, suspends from 2018 until 2026 the deduction for interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit, unless they are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan.
The property tax deduction is capped at $10,000.
Previously taxpayers could deduct all the state, local and foreign real estate taxes they paid with no cap on the amount. The new law limits the deduction for all state and local taxes – including income, sales, real estate, and personal property taxes – to $10,000.
The casualty loss deduction has been repealed.
Homeowners previously could deduct unreimbursed casualty, disaster and theft losses on their property. That deduction has been repealed, with an exception for losses on property located in a federally declared disaster area.
The capital gains exclusion remains unchanged.
Homeowners can continue to exclude up to $500,000 for joint filers or $250,000 for single filers for capital gains when selling their primary residence as long as they have lived in the home for two of the past five years. An earlier proposal would have increased that requirement to five out of the last eight years and phase out the exclusion for high-income households, but it was struck down. Find out more about 2018 tax reform.
How does tax reform affect your plans for buying or selling a home?
*Please consult your tax advisor if you have any questions about how the new tax reform impacts you
Financial setbacks like the loss of a job or large medical bills can make it tough to make ends meet. If you find yourself behind on your mortgage payments, it helps to be proactive. It’s also good to know that federal and local agencies, even banks, are working to help those who are behind on their mortgages from going into foreclosure.
If you are behind on your mortgage, here are 5 steps you can take.
1) Call your lender as soon as possible.
As uncomfortable as that call can be, the problem will not go away by avoiding your lender. If you are having trouble making your payments, the sooner you contact your lender, the more options you will have. Some homeowners postpone communicating with their lender for so long, that foreclosure becomes the only option. Don’t let that happen to you.
2) Talk to a housing counselor.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a list of approved nonprofit housing counselors, who will provide free counseling for homeowners who are behind on their mortgages. They’ll go over options and suggest next steps. Call HUD at 888-995-4673 or visit the HUD site to find a counselor in your area.
3) See if you can lower your mortgage payment.
You might be able to refinance or do a loan modification to make your monthly payment more affordable. There are a number of programs available depending on your circumstances. A HUD housing counselor or your lender can help you explore your options.
4) Find out if you qualify for a short sale.
A short sale is an alternative to foreclosure when a homeowner needs to sell and can no longer afford to make mortgage payments. The lender agrees to accept less than the amount owed to pay off a loan, rather than going forward with a lengthy and costly foreclosure process.
Although every homeowner’s situation is unique, the basic criteria for qualifying for a short sale are:
- You need to sell your home.
- You owe more on your mortgage than your home is worth.
- You have a personal financial hardship that will prevent you from making future payments. (Examples of hardship include loss of job, divorce, death of a spouse and medical emergency or illness.)
In most instances, a short sale makes more sense than foreclosure. In general, when you want to obtain a loan to purchase a property in the future, more opportunities will be available to you if you do a short sale. Find out more about how short sales work.
5) See if you qualify for cash incentives tied to a short sale.
Several programs offer cash incentives to homeowners to do a short sale in order to avoid foreclosure.
The federal government’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program might provide $3,000 in relocation assistance to homeowners who do short sales.
Lenders, including Chase and Bank of America, have paid significant cash incentives to encourage sellers to do a short sale and avoid foreclosure. In the past few months, we have had homeowners receive checks from their lender at closing in amounts that range up to $35,000. And these large incentives are not restricted to owners of high-end properties. The owner of a short sale property that recently sold for $164,000 received a check for $25,000. The checks are given for relocation assistance and can be used however the homeowner sees fit. There are no restrictions.
It’s important to note that the seller incentive is determined by the investor, so not every lender is paying incentives. However, if you are considering a short sale, it’s a good time to find out if you qualify.
Richard Eastern is a Windermere broker in Bellevue, WA and co-founder of Washington Property Solutions, a short sales negotiating company. Since 2003 he has helped more than 700 homeowners sell their homes. A Bellevue native and a University of Washington grad, Richard is an avid sports fan and a devoted Little League and basketball coach. You can learn more about Richard here or atwww.washortsales.com.
Are you thinking about buying a new home in the next 5 years?
Studies show that if you wait, you could be paying substantially more. Check out this article by Keeping Current Matters that explains why buying a home this winter could be your smartest move. http://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/4-reasons
Here are some fun “Did You Know?” stats as we wrap up 2016 (arguably one of the most fascinating years in the history of Northern Colorado Real Estate)
- This year the median price of a home surpassed…
- $350,000 in Fort Collins
- $300,000 in Loveland
- $250,000 in Greeley
- 2,281 homes were sold in Fort Collins this year
- That’s 133 fewer than last year
- Windsor had 197 more home sales than last year
- The only major market with considerably more sales than 2015
- Today, as we finish 2016, there are only 10 single family homes on the market in Fort Collins priced under $300,000.
Since the election interest rates have jumped from 3.77% to 3.95% according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
“This week’s increase in mortgage rates, being dubbed the ‘Trump Tantrum,’ is the biggest one week increase since the ‘Taper Tantrum‘ in June 2013,” said Bankrate’s chief financial analyst Greg McBride.
Economists say the anticipation of Trump’s pledged spending plans and tax cuts have investors anticipating some inflation and a dose of adrenaline to the economy which have caused a great deal of volatility in the market.
Many economists believe that we are now seeing the beginning of a long-term rise in interest rates.
source: Inman News
First-time buyers can borrow with little down, but that may not be wise
Financial planners warn: "Borrowers should not overlook the true measure of home affordability: monthly cash flow."
Is your down payment going to affect your cash flow in the end? Check out this article to see what they suggest.
After a very active (to say the least) spring and summer, the door has now opened for buyers in our market.
Buyers who were frustrated during the first half of the year with low inventory and bidding wars now realize a better environment. It’s time to step off the sidelines and take a fresh look at what the market has to offer.
The first piece of good news is that rates have dropped to near all-time lows. Rates today are 0.6% lower than they were on January 1st. What this means on a $400,000 home with a conventional loan is a monthly savings of $110!
The second piece of good news is that inventory levels are coming up. There are more homes on the market to pick from and lower demand because of seasonal slowing. Months of inventory in Larimer County markets have bounced up 20% to 33%.