As Vacation Homes Become More Popular

Vacation Home or Income-Producing Investment

Posted in Buying by Meaghan McGlynn

Image Source: Alex Master Shutterstock

Whether you’re a skier who loves the mountain slopes of Colorado, a lover of the beaches of Southern California, or a potential retiree seeking to escape the snow-laden Northeast for the wide-open, sunny lands of Arizona, there are homes available to meet a wide range of budgets. The biggest decision a potential second homeowner must make is whether they are going to solely own their vacation home or turn it into a vacation rental. Here are the advantages and disadvantages to both options:

 

Investing in vacation rentals

  • Pros:
    • A good vacation rental property generally provides a healthy rental revenue which could potentially cover mortgage payments while also generating healthy additional profit.
    • Using an online short-term rental service like Airbnb makes it convenient to manage your rental property. Their website interface makes pricing, marketing, and communication with potential guests quite straightforward and easy. Airbnb will also oversee the billing process for you.
    • You may qualify for federal tax breaks and deductions related to your investment property. Everything from professional fees or commissions – including property management services- to cleaning and maintenance are potential tax write-offs.
  • Cons:
    • Vacation rentals can be costly to manage, both in terms of time and money. These properties may require seasonal upkeep and special maintenance considerations. You may even incur costs to maintain or monitor the property even when it’s not actively being utilized.
    • Vacation rental properties are particularly sensitive to seasonal fluctuations and economic downturns, which could leave you financially exposed if you suffer a lack of booking revenue.
    • Many states and cities are cracking down on short-term rental services. In California, for example, the fight has been primarily local, reaching a fever pitch in the San Francisco Bay Area. Increasingly state and local municipalities are seeking to reign in short-term vacation rentals, which could put a damper on potential revenue from these properties.
    • You may experience higher renovation and repair costs on a short-term rental. Most travelers expect the latest appliances and furnishings, so you will have to update every few years. Unfortunately, short-term renters are less likely to report any necessary repairs and guests are far less likely to treat the property with respect since there’s no sense of ownership or obligation.

 

Owning a vacation home

  • Pros:
    • Long-term profits: While assets fluctuate in value in the short term, vacation properties are more likely to retain their value and appreciate because they are located in popular areas with a geographically limited supply.
    • Familiarity: Returning to the same place time and after time can be comforting as you become familiar and comfortable with the location. It allows you the freedom to be yourself and the opportunity to expand long-term friendships with residents.
    • Convenience: The ability to conveniently store items that are used exclusively at the second home simplifies travel and packing.
    • Retirement head starts: Though we may love where we work and live, every place has its drawbacks. A common goal of retirement is to have a place to retreat for the times of the year we dislike the most at our main residence. Locating and buying a second home prior to retirement enables you to experience the benefits of a refuge before actual retirement, a time to correct and amend your plans if the reality is different than the dream.
  • Cons:
    • Initial purchase costs: Most people have higher expectations for a property that they intend to own, rather than to rent. These expectations can translate into high prices.
    • Home maintenance: As the homeowner, you are responsible for all home maintenance work.
    • Travel time: A second home will be located hours from your primary residence, requiring either long auto trips or airline flights.
    • Inflexibility: If you are paying a significant amount of money each month for a second home, you may feel that you need to constantly visit the property to justify your investment.

Posted on September 18, 2020 at 7:17 pm
Renuka Getchell | Posted in Real Estate News, Renuka's Residential Report | Tagged , ,

Dangers of an Overpriced Home

Posted in Selling by Sandy Dodge

Image source: Shutterstock

When it comes time to sell your home, determining its exact value can be a challenge. Naturally, homeowners want to get the most value for their home. However, if it hits the market at too high a price, it could cause serious complications in the selling process.

 

Attracting the wrong buyers

An overpriced home creates a kind of seller’s limbo that draws the attention of the wrong buyers, which is a surefire way to start your selling process off on the wrong foot.

A vast majority of homebuyers begin their home search online, especially during these days of social distancing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. If your home is overpriced in comparison to other listings in your area, it won’t appear in their search results. In this way, an overpriced home is blind to its intended buyers and actually drives traffic to nearby listings that are more accurately priced.

An overpriced home can’t compete with listings in a more expensive bracket. Buyers know what they want, and they know what to expect in their price range. When they notice a home is missing the square footage, features, and amenities typically found in others at the same price, they will quickly lose interest.

 

Fewer showings / virtual tours

Showings—both physical and virtual—play a significant role in the sale of your home. They give buyers a first-hand look and provide them the opportunity to ask questions and gather more information. Selling your home is a numbers game. The more showings scheduled at your listing, the more potential buyers you have. The more potential buyers, the greater chance of an offer.

Your agent knows that showings are critical to capturing buyer interest. But if the home is overpriced, they will have difficulty attracting attention to your home. This can slow the entire home selling process, leaving both the seller and agent feeling frustrated.

 

Expired shelf life

Think of the home you’re selling as a fresh tomato. Off the vine (newly listed), it is fresh and attractive, appealing to everyone in the market and standing out amongst the other tomatoes. As time goes on, no one buys the tomato and it begins to overripen and wither, losing its appeal. This is what happens to an overpriced home in the minds of buyers.

New listings attract the most attention—that’s when buyer interest is highest. The longer your home is on the market, the less appealing it becomes. At a certain point, sellers are forced to lower the price. However, this lowered price won’t have the same impact as hitting the market correctly priced the first time. Once price drops begin, they can continue, which creates the risk of selling the home for less than what it is worth.

Lastly, the longer your home is on the market, the more expenses you incur. Mortgage payments, utilities costs and seller’s fees will continue to pile up, making it harder to recover from these costs when your home does eventually sell.

 

Post-sale complications

Let’s say you do find a buyer at the overpriced cost. During closing, the lender will order an appraisal of your home, and if the appraiser finds that the market value of the home is less than the selling price, they could potentially deny financing.
Talk to your Windermere agent about how to price your home correctly to avoid these pitfalls of overpricing. Knowing your home’s worth will set you up for success when it comes time to hit the market.


Posted on September 18, 2020 at 10:55 am
Renuka Getchell | Posted in Real Estate News, Renuka's Residential Report | Tagged , , , ,

Patio Upgrades to Finish Summer Strong

Posted in Living by Sandy Dodge

Image source: Shutterstock

Many homeowners have taken this extra time at home as an opportunity to retreat to their backyards and patios, turning their space into their own personal oasis. Here are some ways you can upgrade your outdoor space to make the most of the remaining days of summer.

 

Add color 

 

Add decorative throw pillows to your outdoor furniture to complement your garden’s color palette and bring some added comfort for you and your guests. Brightly colored patio umbrellas make a statement while protecting you from the sun and other outdoor elements.

In addition to having colorful flowers in your garden, another great way to add a little pizzazz to your backyard is through colored pots and planting boxes that enhance the surrounding decor.

 

Decorative lights 

 

Outdoor lighting can transform your outdoor space and set the perfect mood for those late summer nights.

LED lights are a very popular option for patio lighting, using up to ninety percent less energy than incandescent varieties. Strings of twinkle lights bring a magical nighttime quality to your backyard, creating the perfect ambience for those summer evenings under the stars. Installing light fixtures around eating areas and your landscaping will give these spaces new life during evenings outdoors.

Upgrade your BBQ 

 

The barbecue is the focal point of summer cookouts. Any time the grill gets fired up, classic summertime dishes like burgers and ribs come to my mind. However, there are simple upgrades you can make to your barbecue that give you even more options to maximize outdoor meals.

Pizza stones are perfect for making evenly cooked, delicious pizzas on the grill. They also produce a consistent heating surface for baked goods and desserts. Griddles do wonders for barbecues, allowing you to cook foods that would normally fall through the grates, like vegetables and shellfish.

 

Fire pit 

Fire pits are the modern-day conversation pit, providing the perfect spot to gather with friends and family – even during these days of social distancing. Commonly used building materials include brick, landscape blocks, stone, or cinder blocks. Traditional fire pits are best accentuated with circular seating to gather around the fire, while more modern styles like fire troughs best allow for taking in surrounding views. Natural gas fire pits offer a low-maintenance substitute to the wood-burning variety, igniting fires at the flip of a switch with easy control over the flame’s intensity.

Whichever fire pit you choose, be sure to consult local guidelines and regulations, and keep an extinguisher nearby to squash any rogue flames. If fire pits are not allowed in your area, consider safer options like flameless candles.

 

With more time being spent at home than ever before, there is plenty of opportunity to make the most of the home stretch of summer. We hope we’ve inspired you with some ways you can get creative with your slice of outdoor paradise.


Posted on September 8, 2020 at 10:50 pm
Renuka Getchell | Posted in Real Estate News, Renuka's Residential Report | Tagged , , , , ,

What ‘s My Home Worth? The Downside to Home Valuation Tools

Posted in Selling by Sandy Dodge

What’s your home worth?

 

It is a seemingly simple question. However, discovering the worth of your home is more complicated than it might seem. Sites like Zillow, Redfin, Eppraisal, and others have built-in home valuation tools that make it seem easy, but how accurate are they? And if you get three different answers, which one do you believe? Online valuation tools have become a pivotal part of the home buying and selling process, but they’ve proven to be highly unreliable in certain instances. What these valuation tools have made clear is that real estate agents are as vital to the process of pricing a home as they ever were—and maybe even more so now.

 

Every online valuation tool has its limitations. Most are readily acknowledged by their providers, such as “Zestimate” from Zillow, which clearly states that it offers a median error rate of 4.5%. That may not sound like a lot, but keep in mind that 4.5% amounts to a difference of about $31,500 for a $700,000 home. For Redfin and Trulia, there are similar variances. When you dig deeper into these valuation tools, it’s no wonder that there are discrepancies. They rely on a range of different sources for information, some more reliable than others.

 

Redfin’s tool pulls information directly from multiple listing services (MLSs) across the country. Others negotiate limited data sharing deals with those same services, relying on public and homeowners’ records alike. This can lead to gaps in coverage. These tools can serve as helpful pieces of the puzzle when buying or selling a home, but the acknowledged error rate is a reminder of how dangerous a heavy reliance on them can be.

 

Nothing compares to the level of detail and knowledge a professional real estate agent offers when pricing a home. An algorithm can’t possibly know about the unique characteristics of neither a home nor its neighborhood. Curious about what improvements you can make to get top dollar or how buyer behaviors are shaping the market? They cannot provide an answer there, either. That can only be delivered by a trusted professional whose number one priority is getting you the best price in a time frame that meets your needs.

 

If you’re curious about your home’s value, Windermere offers a tool that provides a series of evaluations on your property and the surrounding market. And once you’re ready, we’re happy to connect you with a Windermere agent who can clarify this information and perform a Comparative Market Analysis to get an even more accurate estimate of what your home could fetch in today’s market.


Posted on September 5, 2020 at 12:41 am
Renuka Getchell | Posted in Real Estate News, Renuka's Residential Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Covid 19 Housing and Economic Update

Posted in Economics 101 Videos by Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate

On this week’s episode of “Mondays with Matthew,” Matthew Gardner looks at last week’s real estate and economic news and goes beyond the headlines so that you can not only stay on top of the issues that affect you and your business, but also get more detail than is generally offered by the media.


Posted on August 31, 2020 at 6:37 pm
Renuka Getchell | Posted in Real Estate News, Renuka's Residential Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Foreign Home Buying Dries Up, Easing the Way for Domestic Buyers

| Jul 3, 2020

Foreign buying of U.S. homes was a driving factor in markets from California to Florida, helping prices reach new highs. Now, the pandemic, reduced travel and immigration restrictions are further undermining already weakening international demand.

Overseas residential real-estate purchases climbed steadily between 2011 and 2017, peaking at $153 billion in the year ended March 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors. About 60% of foreign buyers are recent immigrants or foreigners who live in the U.S., while others buy U.S. homes as investment properties or vacation homes, according to NAR.

Foreigners represent a tiny percentage of overall buyers. But because they have tended to cluster in coastal cities like New York, Miami and the Los Angeles area, they sometimes have had an exaggerated influence in these markets, especially at the higher-price end. Foreigners also were more likely to pay cash, making their offers more attractive to sellers.

Foreign appetite fell sharply in 2018 and 2019, according to NAR. Much of the buying came from China. It slowed in 2019 after the Chinese government implemented new controls over foreign currency purchases and as the country’s trade dispute with the U.S. heated up. A stronger dollar, which makes U.S. homes more expensive in foreign currencies, and concerns about global economic growth slowed overseas buying more broadly.

This year, demand looks likely to be even weaker, real-estate agents say.

Limited travel between the U.S. and other countries, worries about virus transmission and new restrictions on immigration could weigh on international investment in U.S. housing this year.

In the latest setback for foreign homeownership in the U.S., President Trump signed an order June 22 temporarily barring new immigrants on certain employment-based visas through the end of the year.

While the lack of overseas demand may disappoint homeowners in major coastal cities that attracted much of the foreign demand, local buyers who have lost out in bidding wars to deep-pocketed foreigners might be relieved.

“Some decline in international buying activity I don’t think necessarily harms the U.S. housing market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “If anything, it doesn’t put any additional upward pressure on home prices, which have been a major concern for buyers on the affordability front.”

Home prices have continued to rise during the pandemic, even as the rate of home sales has dropped. The supply of homes for sale remains limited in many markets, and demand from buyers has increased in recent weeks as business activity has opened up in many states and mortgage rates have stayed low.

Foreign investment in U.S. housing can push up local home prices in select markets, according to a working paper released last monthby Caitlin Gorback and Benjamin Keys of the University of Pennsylvania.

The paper found that in ZIP Codes with a high proportion of foreign-born Chinese, house prices between 2012 and 2018 grew by 8 percentage points more than in comparable ZIP Codes. These areas, which in many cases also attracted strong local demand, could be vulnerable to price erosion as both domestic and foreign buying pulls back.

“The neighborhoods that are highly exposed to foreign investment on the upside are also exposed on the downside,” Mr. Keys said.

Many foreign investors buy homes for their children to live in while attending school in the U.S., and those purchases are on hold while families wait to see whether schools will be open in the fall, said Vicky Silvano, broker at Baird & Warner in Chicago.

“Because of the pandemic, the people that I work with are just on a ‘wait and see’ right now,” Ms. Silvano said. For foreign investors who own homes in the U.S., “I think there’s going to be more selling if the kids don’t come back to school” this year, she said.

Indiana University has drawn many foreign buyers to Bloomington, Ind., in the past decade, said Tracee Lutes, broker owner at Re/Max Acclaimed Properties.

“I think we will have a lot fewer foreign investment buyers here this year…with the uncertainty in the university plans and the uncertainty in the Covid situation,” she said.

Indiana University said in May that it plans to open in the fall for a mix of in-person and online classes.

Housing demand is strong in Bloomington, and a decline in foreign investment could be a boon to local shoppers, Ms. Lutes said: “I think you would see more in-state people, local people, that would take advantage of the ability to buy.”

Still, some see foreign buying picking up once normal travel resumes. In New Jersey and New York, Grace Tan of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty said her international clients in countries like China are already planning to shop for homes in the U.S. once international travel picks up.

“These clients are still not comfortable buying virtually,” she said. “They will come back. I already get the phone calls.”


Posted on July 4, 2020 at 12:46 am
Renuka Getchell | Posted in Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , ,

How the Coronavirus Is Reshaping Home Design: 10 Crucial Features a House Should Have Today

 | Apr 21, 2020

Life as we know it has changed dramatically in the coronavirus era, affecting work, school, travel, and more. And it’s shed light on the way we live at home, underscoring the fact that there’s nothing more important than safe shelter for our family.

To that end, COVID-19 is influencing what people want to see in home design.

“After the pandemic, our homes are going to reflect the lessons learned during this painful period, such as ways to disinfect ourselves and our possessions,” says Jamie Gold, a wellness design consultant and author of “Wellness by Design.”

In a postvirus world, we won’t soon forget our shelter-at-home memories. Going forward, if there’s even the slightest chance (god forbid) that we’ll need to repeat this awful practice, homeowners may want to prepare by buying or renovating a house with amenities that’ll make it just a bit more bearable.

To help, here are 10 features to look for in a new home—or demand in your current one—once we’ve bid the coronavirus adieu.

1. More bathrooms

Photo by Excel Builders

A family member who’s caught a virus needs his own loo to keep germs in one place, so the addition of a second (or third or fourth) bathroom in homes will be important.

“This option used to be about convenience, but in the age of quarantines, sharing a bathroom could be dangerous,” says David Sipp, owner of two Mr.Handyman franchises in Indiana.

And since hand-washing is a constant nowadays, a half-bathroom or even just a sink right by a home’s entrance may become fairly standard.

“There’s renewed focus on [sinks near front entrances] in an attempt to get people to wash before entering the home,” says architect Kobi Karpof the eponymous firm.

2. Better mudrooms

Photo by Michael Robert Construction

Taking off your shoes before entering the house has long been recommended to cut back on grime and germs. But now that a recent study found that the novel coronavirus can cling to shoes’ soles and then get tracked inside, even more people may start removing their shoes right as they enter a house. This could make the presence of mudrooms—including larger, souped-up versions with seating areas and cubbies—more appealing than ever.

3. Bigger pantries

Photo by Closet Factory

You probably weren’t alone if you found your food storage was lacking in the early days of the coronavirus—and the fix will be bigger and better pantries. Room for nonperishables is key so you can cut back on the number of grocery store trips you make.

No room for a dedicated pantry? Sipp anticipates a need for more food storage like shelving and cabinets in other parts of the home, like the garage and basement.

“And larger pantries won’t necessarily live in the kitchen area, but will instead be more of an add-on in the laundry room or entryway,” says Gold. The reason: Deliveries can be made contact-free, away from living areas, and trips into the house will be reduced.

4. More freezer space

Photo by Perlick

Remember the old-fashioned chest freezer your grandmother had? Look for it again, along with more built-in freezer drawers, in future home design. Panicky pandemic shoppers are snapping up all manner of foods, and the result has been a sold-out stock of freezer units.

5. Bathroom bidets

Photo by Murphy’s Design

The French know a thing or two about healthy bathroom design—and we’re finally taking notice. Bidet use was already on the rise before the coronavirus, and since toilet paper shortages have hit hard, more and more folks are looking to install this amenity.

Bidets are gentle and hygienic, and even when TP is back on store shelves, these devices will still be in demand, says Gold.

Want something cheaper than installing a whole new appliance? Consider the washlet, which is a seat fitted to an existing toilet that’s equipped with a spray nozzle.

“There’s less need for tissue with a washlet,” says Melanie Turner, an architect at Perkins & Will.

6. Closed-off spaces

By Marie Burgos Design New York

“COVID-19 has brought to light a heightened desire for discrete areas, no matter how small, and convertible spaces like guest rooms that can be used for playtime or as a homework spot,” says Turner. But open floor plans probably won’t disappear—instead, a better balance between private, semiprivate, and public spaces is coming.

“The reason is the need for homes to multitask better, which means if you have two partners suddenly working from home and a couple of kids home schooling, you’ll have more quiet, separate spaces for everyone to function effectively,” says Gold.

7. Brass and copper fixtures

Photo by AFT Construction

Adapting to a new, more germ-conscious way of living starts with a return to copper and brass (a copper-zinc combo) for doorknobs and fixtures. In fact, brass kills bacteria more effectively than stainless steel, according to research.

Brass and copper are excellent metals for the home because both are naturally antimicrobial and corrosion-resistant.

“Copper is one of the best for its antimicrobial properties and has been used for decades in plumbing—and brass and bronze are also very popular because of their inherent ability to kill germs, plus over time they give a desirable rustic look,” said Karp.

8. Hands-free light switches, faucets, and more

Photo by Broedell Plumbing Supply, Inc.

“We already have hands-free faucets, light switches, and voice-control features to operate windows, showers, thermostats, and sound systems. Plus there’s a hands-free door opener that’s being introduced for homes,” points out Gold, who anticipates seeing them in homes now more than ever.

“We’ve had touchless entry and infrared detection systems in place for years in hotels, so I expect to see these technologies applied for opening home cabinets, fridges, and drawers in the near future,” adds Karp.

9. Closed HVAC systems

Photo by Global Source Lighting/San Ramon Lighting

For people with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues, more sophisticated HVAC systems, including those that can be closed from the outside world for limited amounts of time, might become more common.

“We have to weigh the benefits of fresh air with the desire to temper or limit intake at very specific times,” says Turner.

10. Nicer home offices

Photo by Mast & Co. Builders

This one’s obvious, and it runs the gamut from a fully equipped workspace in a separate room to smaller iterations like nooks under the stairs or a retrofitted closet.

Having a quiet area in which to work will be a must-have, and if you can include the ability to work while standing up or moving, your wellness will be enhanced, says Gold.

“As people video chat and Zoom more with colleagues from home, they’re becoming hyperaware of the changes they’d like to see in a home office, including better lighting and more storage. And since a return to the workplace will be gradual, high demand will continue for an office that’s comfortable and functional,” says Sipp.

Jennifer Kelly Geddes creates content for Livestrong.com, the National Sleep Foundation, American Airlines Vacations, Oxo, and Mastercard.

Posted on July 3, 2020 at 9:56 am
Renuka Getchell | Posted in Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , ,

Don’t Panic! 3 Money-Saving, Last-Minute Tax Tips for Homeowners

| Jul 1, 2020

It’s heeeere: tax time.

Granted, this year, the coronavirus pandemic prompted the Internal Revenue Service to extend the usual April 15 deadline to July 15. That might have seemed like plenty of time—and yet here we are, with a mere two weeks to go and a filing window that’s closing fast.

We get it. Maybe you’re a procrastinator. Or maybe you’re a homeowner who, rather than taking the easy-peasy standard deduction, generally tries to save a bundle by itemizing your deductions instead.

Whatever your reason, if you’ve put off filing your taxes until now, don’t panic! You still have options.

Here are three last-minute tax tips for homeowners that could save you plenty of money, headaches, and more.

Tip No. 1: Grab Form 1098

Form 1098, or the Mortgage Interest Statement, is sort of like your home’s W-2: a one-stop shop for your possibly two biggest tax breaks.

  • Mortgage interest: “The biggest real estate tax deduction for most people will be the interest on their home loan,” according to Patrick O’Connor of O’Connor and Associates. Single people can deduct the full interest up to $500,000; for married couples filing jointly, the limit is $1 million if you purchased a house before Dec. 15, 2017. If you bought a home after that date, you will be allowed to deduct the interest on no more than $750,000 of acquisition debt—that’s a loan used to buy, build, or improve a main or secondary home. (Here’s more on how your mortgage interest deduction can help you save on taxes.)
  • Property taxes: This is the second-biggest deduction for most homeowners. Just remember the total amount you can deduct is $10,000, even if you pay way more—and that includes state and local income tax, property tax, and sales tax. (Here’s how to calculate your property taxes.)

You might be eligible for other real estate–related deductions and tax credits, but these are the biggies for most people. If you’re down to the wire on filing, you might just deduct these two and call it a day.

Just remember to make it worth your while. These numbers need to add up to more than the current standard deduction, which jumped to $12,200 for individuals, $18,350 for heads of household, and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly.

Tip No. 2: File an extension

If you still need more time to get your taxes together, it’s totally simple and penalty-free to file for an extension until Oct. 15. But don’t get too excited; the IRS still requires you to pay your estimated tax bill by July 15, or else you’ll pay interest on what you owe down the road.

The IRS makes it easy to file for an extension, either online or by mail. On the form, just estimate how much tax you owe. If you’re filing an extension because you need more time to figure out your itemized deductions, one easy shortcut is to just take the standard deduction now—or the same amount you claimed last year. All in all, it’s better to overestimate what you owe, because then you won’t pay any interest. Once you file for real, anything you’ve overpaid will come back to you.

But what if you need an extension because you can’t pay your tax bill? It’s still better to file for an extension with fuzzy numbers than to not file at all.

The IRS has payment plans that can help if you are short on cash. Just file something—blowing the deadline entirely will open you up to penalties as well as interest on your bill. And maybe an audit, too.

Tip No. 3: Hire some help

If you make less than $69,000 a year, you qualify to use free tax prep software from the IRS. Even if you make more than that, there are lots of free or low-cost online tax prep options that should work for anyone with relatively straightforward taxes.

Of course, another option is to find yourself a good accountant.

If paying for a tax preparer sounds extravagant, keep in mind that, according to the U.S. Tax Center, the average cost of getting your taxes done is only $225. This, generally speaking, is money well-spent.

A good accountant can actually save you money by spotting deductions you might not have found on your own, and helping you plan to minimize the next year’s taxes. All in all, that may add up to the best few hundred bucks you’ve ever spent!

Another timesaver: Rather than snail-mailing your accountant your tax forms, snap pictures of them on your smartphone; some apps like CamScanner can do so with scanner-style quality. Accountants don’t need the originals to file.

For next year, remember to prepare

OK, so this year you waited too long and stressed yourself out. If you don’t want a repeat ordeal next year, now is also the time to mend your ways and start tax prep early. Nobody wants to be thinking about taxes all year, of course. But as a homeowner, you can do some things to be better prepared.

So before you do any home maintenance, upgrades, or renovations, research whether there are any tax deductions you could be eligible for.

Start now, and you’ll be sitting pretty to collect on all the various tax perks that come with owning a home rather than pulling out your hair at the last minute.

For more smart financial news and advice, head over to MarketWatch.

Audrey Ference has written for The Billfold, The Hairpin, The Toast, Slate, Salon, and others. She lives in Austin, TX.

Posted on July 1, 2020 at 9:12 pm
Renuka Getchell | Posted in Uncategorized |

Mortgage Impact from COVID-19

Image Source: Shutterstock

 

For some homeowners who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a high level of concern about paying their mortgage. Fortunately, there are options to aid struggling homeowners from governments, financial institutions, and loan providers. The following information is intended to provide clarity on which financial relief options are available to you during this time.

 

What are my mortgage relief options?

Newly placed into law, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides two protections for homeowners with federally backed mortgages:

 

  1. Your lender or loan servicer may not foreclose on you for 60 days following March 18, 2020. The CARES Act prohibits lenders and/or servicers from beginning a non-judicial foreclosure, or finalizing a foreclosure sale, against you within this time period. While 60 days has passed since this was put into place, it is still important to be aware of in the event that any of these actions were taken against you.
  2. You have a right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days if you experience financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also apply for a 180-day extension beyond the forbearance period. This does not require submitting additional documentation beyond your claim, nor will you incur additional fees, penalties or interest beyond what has already been scheduled.

 

Forbearance is…

  • With forbearance, mortgage servicers and lenders allow you to pause or reduce your mortgage payments for a period of time while you get back on your feet financially.
  • Different types of loans beget different forbearance options, understanding the differences and which options apply to your loan is key to navigating the forbearance landscape.
  • Once your income is back to a normal level, contact your loan servicer and resume your payments.

 

Forbearance is not…

  • Forbearance is not a means to forgive or erase your payments. Any missed or reduced payments still require payment in the future.

 

Which relief options do I qualify for?

The first step in discovering your mortgage assistance qualifications is to contact your mortgage provider. If you are unsure of how to get in touch with them, look at your mortgage statement for contact information or see what contact options are available online.

After you have successfully made contact, find out if your mortgage is federally backed. To be eligible for assistance under the CARES act, your mortgage must either be backed federally, or by one of the entities in the list below. These links show the agencies’ current advise and related loan information:

 

For non-federally backed loans, contact your lender or servicer to learn more about their forbearance repayment options.

 

Today’s financial landscape can be stressful for homeowners, especially those that are struggling to keep up financially. Fortunately, these entities, institutions, and servicers have provided options to help lessen the burden. Knowing which options apply to you and your household will help you navigate through hardship as your finances recover.

Posted in Buying by Sandy Dodge


Posted on July 1, 2020 at 8:55 pm
Renuka Getchell | Posted in Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , ,

Mortgage Forbearance, and the effects we will see.

Mondays with Matthew: Mortgage Forbearance Update

On this week’s episode of “Mondays with Matthew”, Matthew Gardner provides an update on the mortgage forbearance program and what type of effect we can expect it to have on the US housing market.

Economics + Market Trends,

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Posted on June 16, 2020 at 10:15 am
Renuka Getchell | Posted in Real Estate News, Renuka's Residential Report |