Friday, December 29, 2017

New Tax Law for 2018

How will it affect you?  Click on the link below for a great explanation (with easy-to-understand charts) presented by Kiplinger Magazine...

Here is a list of the topics covered in the presentation:

1. Bigger Standard Deduction, Goodbye Exemptions
2. Say Hello to a Higher Child Tax Credit
3. Tax Bracket Bingo
4. Squeezing Homeowner Tax Breaks

5. Deduction for State and Local Taxes6. Casualty Losses
6. Casualty Losses
7. Estate Tax Dodges a Bullet (again)

8. Medical Deductions Survive . . . and Get Healthier
9. Alimony Becomes Tax Free . . . but Not Until 2019
10. Status Quo for Teachers' Tax Break
11. Squeezing Commuter Benefits

12. Tax Breaks for Students Survive
13. A Reprieve for Dependent Care Plans
14. No More Roth Do-Overs
15. Investors' Control Over Tax on Capital Gains
16. 0% Capital Gains Rate Survives
17. Like-Kind Exchanges Survive ... But Only for Real Estate
18. Fewer Taxpayers Need Fear the AMT

19. Tax Relief for Passthrough Businesses
20.  (This one appears to be missing from the presentation... but, there are two #22s.)
21. Deductions (That Lots of People Take) Get the Ax but Two Credits Survive
22. Kiddie Tax Gets More Teeth
22. Individual Mandate: Dead or Alive?

23. Wither Withholding?
24. 529 Plans Aren’t Just for College Anymore
25. Expanded ABLE Accounts
26. Relief for Some 401(k) Plan Borrowers

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Best Wishes for a Joyous Holiday Season

My husband joins me in extending best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and healthy and happy New Year.  May the joy and spirit of the season remain within our hearts all through the year.

Please click to enlarge image.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy?

Article Courtesy of Keeping Current Matters/The KCM Blog

What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy? | Keeping Current Matters We recently shared that over the course of the last 12 months, home prices have appreciated by 7.0%. Over the same amount of time, interest rates have remained historically low which has allowed many buyers to enter the market.
As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price, but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 4.7% over the next 12 months.

What Does This Mean as a Buyer?

If home prices appreciate by 4.7% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:
What is the Cost of Waiting Until Next Year to Buy? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If buying a home is in your plan for 2018, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Before You Make an Offer, Here Are 4 Tips for Success

Article courtesy of Keeping Current Matters/The KCM Blog

Before You Make an Offer, Here Are 4 Tips for Success! | Keeping Current Matters So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!
Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”
This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ should really take place before you start your home search process.
Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”
The inventory of homes listed for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.
Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

3. Make a Solid Offer

Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:
“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”
Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways that you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market!

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

“It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford.
Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”
If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller, or cancel the contract.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, having a local professional on your side who is an expert in their market is your best bet in making sure the process goes smoothly. Happy House Hunting!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Why Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step

Article courtesy of Keeping Current Matters/The KCM Blog

Why Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First StepIn many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.
Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.
Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the ‘My Home’ section of their website:
“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”
One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.” 
Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:
  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time
Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.