Do You Need A Home Warranty?

When you purchase a home, even a home that isn’t new, there is a very good chance that you will be offered a home warranty. The seller may offer to purchase one on your behalf to provide peace of mind that any component of the home that fails can be fixed affordably. If not, you will likely receive numerous mail solicitations to purchase a home warranty once the sale closes. A home warranty may sound like a great form of financial protection against expensive, unforeseen home repairs. But is it really the safety net homeowners expect?

What Is a Home Warranty?

A home warranty is not the same thing as homeowners insurance, nor is it a replacement for homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance covers major perils such as fires, hail, property crimes and certain types of water damage that could affect the entire structure and/or the homeowner’s personal possessions. A home warranty does not cover these perils. Rather, it covers specific components of the home.

A home warranty is a contract between a homeowner and a home warranty company that provides for discounted repair and replacement service on a home’s major components, such as the furnace, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical system. A home warranty may also cover major appliances such as washers and dryers, refrigerators and swimming pools. Most plans have a basic component that provides all homeowners who purchase a policy with certain coverages. Homeowners can also purchase one or more optional components that provide additional coverage at additional cost.

Home warranty companies have agreements with approved service providers. When something that is covered by a home warranty breaks down, the homeowner calls the home warranty company, and the home warranty company sends one of its service providers to examine the problem. If the provider determines that the needed repair or replacement is covered by the warranty, he completes the work. The homeowner only pays a small service fee, plus the money she has already spent to purchase the warranty. (For for information, check 6 Tips To Sell Your Home Faster.

What Does It Cost?

A home warranty costs a few hundred dollars a year, paid up front (or in installments, if the warranty company offers a payment plan). The plan’s cost varies depending on the property type e.g., single-family detached, condo, townhome, duplex, and whether the homeowner purchases a basic or extended plan. The cost usually does not vary with the property’s age, unless the home is brand new, which increases the cost of coverage. The home’s square footage also does not affect the price in most cases, unless the property is more than 5,000 square feet. Separate structures, such as guest houses, usually are not covered by the basic policy but can be covered for an additional fee. However, garages should be covered by the basic policy.

In addition to an annual premium, home warranties charge a service call fee (also called a trade call fee) of around $75-$125 every time the warranty holder requests that a service provider come out to the house to examine a problem. If the problem requires more than one type of contractor to visit (e.g., a plumber and an electrician), the homeowner may have to pay the service fee for each contractor.

Having a home warranty doesn’t mean the homeowner will never have to spend a penny on home repairs. Some problems won’t be covered by the warranty, whether because the homeowner didn’t purchase coverage for that item or because the warranty company doesn’t offer coverage for that item. Also, home warranties usually don’t cover components that haven’t been properly maintained. Furthermore, if the warranty company denies a claim, the homeowner will still have to pay the service fee and will also be responsible for repair costs.

The Benefits of a Home Warranty

Like all warranties, a home warranty is supposed to protect against expensive, unforeseen repair bills and provide peace of mind. For a homeowner who doesn’t have an emergency fund or who wants to protect their emergency fund, a home warranty can act as a buffer. Home warranties also make sense for people who aren’t handy or who don’t want to worry about tracking down a contractor when they have a problem. Warranties can also make sense for people with expensive taste in appliances.

The subject of home warranties often comes up during the sale and purchase of a home. A home warranty can provide reassurance to a homebuyer who has limited information about how well the home’s components have been maintained (or how well the home has been built, in the case of new construction). A warranty can also be helpful for someone who has just depleted their savings to buy a home and wants to avoid any additional major expenses. For home sellers, offering the buyer a paid-up, one-year home warranty with the home purchase may provide a measure of protection against buyer complaints about any home defects that arise after the sale closes. However, providing a home warranty does not exempt the seller from her legal requirement to disclose any known problems with the home. (To learn more about protecting yourself, read Consumer Protection Laws You Need To Know.)

Home Warranties Have Drawbacks

If home warranties were perfect, everyone would have one. But they don’t. Why is that?

One major problem with a home warranty is that it will not cover items that have not been properly maintained. What is considered proper maintenance can be a significant gray area and is the source of many disagreements between home warranty companies and warranty holders. In a worst-case scenario, unscrupulous warranty companies may use the improper maintenance clause as an excuse to deny valid claims. In another scenario, the homeowner and the contractor who makes the house call may simply disagree over what constitutes proper maintenance.

Another common problem is that when a homeowner purchases a used home, it might come with a 10-year-old furnace that the previous owner did not maintain. At that point, no matter how well the new homeowner tries to care for the furnace going forward, he can’t correct the previous lack of maintenance. In addition, warranties have numerous exclusions, as well as dollar limits per repair and per year.

Home warranties aren’t expensive compared to the cost of repairing or replacing most of a home’s important components, and this fact is one of a warranty’s major selling points. However, there may be many years when nothing at all breaks down or wears out in the home. In these years, the homeowner gets nothing (except, perhaps, peace of mind) in exchange for his premium. That money could be put into an emergency fund for making the same repairs and replacements that the home warranty would cover. Also, if the homeowner tries to use the warranty and the claim is denied, he will probably feel like the money spent on the premium and the service call fee was wasted.

Home warranties do eliminate the need to find a contractor when something breaks. However, they also eliminate the freedom to choose your own independent contractor if you want the warranty to pay for the repair or replacement. If you don’t like the contractor or the work they do, you may be stuck with them. Furthermore, repairs may be more complicated with a third party (the home warranty company) involved in the process than a direct negotiation between a homeowner and a contractor would be. Also, the homeowner may have little or no say in the model or brand of a replacement component – though the warranty contract should provide for a similar- or equivalent-quality replacement.

The Bottom Line

A home warranty is not a perfect solution to the risks homeowners face. Before purchasing one, homeowners should read the fine print in the home warranty contract and carefully consider whether the warranty is likely to pay off. Home sellers who want to offer a warranty to buyers and homeowners/buyers who would feel more comfortable having a home warranty should also do careful research to find a reputable home warranty company that will actually pay for legitimate repairs when they are needed. (To help you with your home purchase, check out Top Tips For First-Time Home Buyers.)

Source: investopedia.com ~ By:  Amy Fontinelle

Consider These Four Property Owner Responsibilities Before Purchasing

recent survey showed that 64% of US adults indicated that they believe home prices will continue to raise over the next year. This marks the highest percentage since the before the market crash over 10 years ago. If you are in the market for a house, know what responsibilities come with a property owner.

 Do I have to Property Taxes on my Home?  

The US Census Bureau conducted a recent survey on the average American household. They found that the average family pays $2,127 per year on property taxes. These property taxes aren’t optional either, and they continue to raise.

Between 2000 and 2010, property taxes rose $229 million dollars from $247 billion to $476 billion dollars. Failure to pay property taxes can lead to a forced sale of your home through a foreclosure proceeding. Additionally, the taxing authority may impose a tax lien and sell that tax lien, which could lead to the purchaser initiating foreclosing proceedings.

Am I responsible for Property Insurance?

Property insurance substantially serves the interests of insureds. These insurances provide financial compensation after a natural disaster or similar loss. In fact, one in fifteen homeowners have a property insurance claim each year. Legally, you can own a home without property insurance; however, many lenders require that borrowers have property insurance on the home.

One consequence for failure to pay homeowners insurance or a cancellation of a homeowner’s insurance policy is foreclosure. It’s important to check the language of your mortgage for the following language: “failure to pay insurance is a default.” If this is present in your mortgage, it this signifies that the lender has the right to foreclose the property against you for failure to pay property insurance.

What happens if I Neglect to pay my Mortgage Payments?

In 2016, new first lien mortgages surpassed the $2 trillion mark for the first time since the end of the housing bubble nearly 8 years prior. As the data indicates, more individuals are obtaining loans; however, it’s important to know what happens as a result for failure to pay those loans.

Mortgage payments are monthly payments paid to the lending institution from the borrower for principal interest on the home loan. Within as little of 90 days after a borrower fails to make a mortgage payment, the lender can initiate a foreclosure proceeding against the borrower. This means the lender can sell the house and collect the proceeds to apply towards the borrowed amount of the home.

Do I Need To Maintain The Property?

 Slip and Falls are the sixth most serious cause of death. Over eight million people each year have to visit the hospital for this personal injury. One of the leading causes of slip and falls is from a homeowner’s failure to maintain his or her property. A homeowner cannot neglect or abandon their property without facing legal liability.

The law states that an owner has a duty to keep the property reasonable safe and make adequate repairs for anyone entering the property (except for trespassers). This responsibility extends to inspecting the property on a regular basis to discover any dangerous conditions and either repair them or provide notice (with a sign) to anyone who enters the property. The result for failure to maintain your property is that you can be sued for the personal injuries that are caused by your neglect.

Source: Forbes.com ~ By: Jordan Lulich  ~ Image: pixabay.com

3 Credit Score Myths You Should Stop Believing

You probably know that your credit score could affect your life in many ways — from the apartment you rent to the interest rate on your car loan.

But there are a few credit score myths that you — or your friends or family — may not know aren’t true. For example, marrying someone with bad credit won’t bring your own score down.

Here are the facts.

1. Myth: Checking your score always makes it go down

Requesting your score — or getting preapproved for a loan, mortgage or credit card — won’t automatically lower it. However, applying for credit, which requires a hard inquiry, could lower it by a few points. Similarly, lenders’ queries about your score can have a temporary negative impact.

You can also be proactive and check your credit score on a regular basis. You should do so at least once a year, especially since you’re entitled by law to request a free annual credit report from the three major credit-reporting bureaus every 12 months. It’s a good habit that could help you identify potential mistakes or identity theft.

2. Myth: Marrying someone with bad credit could hurt your score

Like many people these days, you might have used excellent credit as a factor in deciding whom to date in the past. Now you’re getting hitched to someone with a low credit score — but don’t worry: Your mate’s score won’t take a toll on your own. You’ll each have your own credit histories and scores, and credit lenders won’t deny you a loan because of your spouse’s credit. Of course, his or her credit could affect your finances in other ways; for example, if you’re applying together for a loan or a mortgage under both of your names.

3. Myth: A better-paying job will help your credit score

Landed a job at the company of your dreams? It might be great for your career, but a new title and higher income won’t directly affect your credit score. Losing a job doesn’t have an impact on your score, either. However, lenders may be wary of giving you a loan if you have an employment history that includes quitting jobs after just a few months.

Source: nerdwallet.com ~ By: Valerie Lai

6 Home Maintenance Tasks You Didn’t Know You Were Forgetting

In all likelihood, your home is the biggest investment you’ll make in your life. To protect that investment, turn to regular maintenance tasks to ensure that your home will be running efficiently for years to come.

Most folks are already aware of this. But if you feel like you’re mastering your home maintenance, you may be surprised to learn that there are a few you probably never realized you were forgetting. Here are six tasks that require your attention, that you may not be tending to frequently enough, or may be overlooking altogether:

Clean Your Refrigerator Drip Pan

Did you know that refrigerators have drip pans? They do, and those drip pans need to be cleaned regularly or they can be prone to mold growth. Pull it out carefully to prevent spills, and dump excess liquid and clean the pan with an all-purpose cleaner.

Flush the Water Heater

Check the temperature of your water heater to ensure that it’s set below 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding. Test its safety relief valve once a year so that it operates properly and flush the system to remove sediment buildup which can cause system failure.

Reseal Your Grout

Grout needs to be resealed annually to protect your tile from wear and tear. Most grout is made of sand and cement; this means it can absorb water, bacteria and even stains. Resealing will help your grout look better and last as long as possible.

Test Smoke Alarms

Testing smoke alarms and changing their batteries is a vital maintenance task for safety reasons. Smoke alarms should be tested twice a year. Remember, at minimum, you should have one detector on every level of your home, and in each bedroom.

Change Your HVAC Filters

Have your heating system inspected, serviced and cleaned annually. Proper maintenance can extend the life of your furnace, postponing an expensive replacement. Change air filters seasonally to monthly, depending on your home’s needs, to protect against major HVAC issues.

Block Out Pests

Prevent against pests setting up camp in your home by caulking small holes or cracks to deter bugs. Also, use hardware cloth to cover any larger areas.

Mastering home maintenance tasks can be a chore, but by ensuring that you’re not missing these all-too-often ignored jobs, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing your home is that much more protected.

Source: blog.rismedia.com ~ By Brentnie Daggett

13 Simple Steps to Prep Your Home for the Best Summer Ever

Take care of your home’s hot-weather needs now, and you’ll have more time for fun in the sun.

Summer will be here before you know it, and you know what that means: Heat, hornets and yard work.

If you’re starting to miss spring already, fear not. Here are some quick projects to make your home and garden more comfortable and cost-effective this summer.

Inside the house

  • Service the air conditioning. Nothing can ruin your day like a broken A/C unit on a summer day, so keep it running smoothly by servicing it every spring. Every three months, change the filter, flush out drain lines with cup of bleach, and ensure that the outdoor unit has room to breathe by keeping vegetation about an arm’s length away.
  • Replace smoke detector batteries. You’d be surprised at how much peace of mind you’ll get after knocking out this one little chore. Change all the batteries on the same day and remind yourself to do it again in six months. If your smoke alarms were manufactured 10 or more years ago, replace them entirely.
  • Rotate ceiling fan blades. Your ceiling fan may have a switch that changes the direction in which the blades turn. If so, make sure that the blades are spinning counterclockwise and pushing air down, rather than up.
  • Clean behind appliances. You’ve been putting it off for far too long. You’re terrified of the horrors that await in the shadows of your kitchen, but it’s time to put on some gloves, arm yourself with disinfectant cleaner and roll out the oven with a brave face.
  • Clean dryer vents. If your clothes come out of the dryer damp and musty lately, it’s probably because the vent is clogged with lint — not only wasting energy, but posing a significant fire risk. To do it right the first time, purchase a vent-cleaning kit. Its flexible rod and brush attaches to your drill and will extract a puppy-sized mass of lint in no time.
  • Upgrade your thermostat. Replacing your existing thermostat with a ‘smart’ model does more than save you money. They respond to your voice, divert cool air to occupied rooms, can be operated from your phone and might even give you a weather forecast at a glance before work.
  • Repot houseplants. Give houseplants fresh potting mix in spring when they’re actively growing. Slip the mass of roots and potting mix out of the pot, gently tease apart the roots, remove rotted pieces and replace it with fresh and fertile potting mix. If the leaves are turning pale from too much direct summer sun, move them to a slightly shadier place.

Out in the yard

  • Patch your lawn. If you wait too long to plant new grass seeds or sod, aggressive weeds will happily fill the gaps for you. Luckily, grass will quickly establish if you remove all existing weeds beforehand, amend with topsoil and keep the area irrigated for the first week or two.
  • Inspect gutters and downspouts. Fall isn’t the only time to clean out the gutters, especially if you have messy trees nearby. Make sure that the gutters are soundly attached to your roof, seal any gaps with silicone caulk and remove any obstructions at the base of the downspout.
  • Inspect sprinklers. If you notice any clogged or broken sprinkler heads, shut off the water and dig a 2-inch diameter hole around the head. Unscrew the head from its riser and replace with a new one. If the head is merely clogged, remove the basket and rinse both it and the head in clean water. Reassemble the head and screw it onto the riser.
  • Get your mower up and running. Give your mower, string trimmer and other lawn equipment some TLC before the summer mowing season begins. After removing the spark plug, replace the air filters, change the oil, sharpen blades and give your equipment a good cleaning.
  • Remove hornet nests. If you have hornets, yellow jackets and paper wasps around your home, take steps to remove them now before they form a large, aggressive colony. You can play it safe by calling a professional, or spray nests at night when they’re less active. Just be sure to wear protective eyewear, a mask, pants and long sleeves.
  • Clean the grill. Prevent flare-ups and cooking fires by giving your grill a good cleaning. Ideally you’d clean after every use, but you can start fresh with a grill brush, nozzle and wet rag. Now is also a good time to stock up on charcoal and make sure your tools are ready for grilling season.

Source: zillow.com ~ By: STEVE ASBELL

10 Ways To Protect Your Home While On Vacation

Keep your home from being a target with these easy tips.

The season of long weekends and beach getaways is upon us, and the last thing any homeowner wants to imagine when they’re soaking in the sun or taking a dip at the lake is a burglar snooping around their empty home. While there is no use in being paranoid about your belongings while you’re away, home security shouldn’t be taken lightly. And it’s the right season to be wary: The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that household burglary rates are highest in the summer.

So whether you’re getting away for the day or weekend or taking an extended vacation, put these 10 summer holiday safety tips to work and make your home less of a target for robbers this season — or any season.

1. Beef up security systems

Sure, you’ve set the alarm and have motion-activated lights outside, but there are some additional things you should consider doing to protect your home. For instance, install a heavy-duty lock strike plate on your door; it’s the weakest part and where thieves may try to break in. You can also add sash pins to double-hung windows to make them more secure.

2. Make your home look lived in

One big clue to burglars that you’ve gone away during the summer? An unkempt lawn. Be sure to mow it before you leave — or hire someone to keep it trimmed while you’re gone — so your home looks well cared for. The same precaution can be transferred to winter months — if you’re expecting a big snow, have someone on retainer to shovel your walk and driveway.

3. Don’t keep your windows open

String lights can be a great way to illuminate a deck or outdoor space during summer months, but don’t run electrical extension cords through your windows. If your windows don’t close and latch, you’re sending burglars an invitation to invade.

4. Don’t fall for door-to-door solicitations

A common way to scope out what kind of goodies you have in your home is by posing as a charity asking for donations. If someone comes to your door, don’t open it, or ask for an ID that links them to the charity — and don’t let them see inside.

5. Use the latest tech

Take advantage of a devices like FakeTV, which mimics the flickering light of a TV to make it look as though you are home. Other home automation devices, like Wi-Fi-enabled security systems or plug-in devices that allow you to turn lights on and off remotely with your cellphone, can also help ward off thieves.

6. Keep your valuables out of sight

That shiny new laptop, your favorite jewelry, or basically anything valuable you’ve forgotten to stash out of sight could tempt burglars. Before you head out of town, do a quick walk-through in each room and hide all valuables.

7. Make a record of valuables

It’s a good idea to take pictures of your stuff — particularly big-ticket items such as laptops and TVs — and keep serial numbers in a safe place. Should the worst happen, you’ll have a record of what was taken and be able to confirm your things are truly yours if they are recovered by police.

8. Do your packing out of sight

Sure, you have to make room for the bikes, load up the boogie boards, and stash away some snacks, but be smart about where you pack up the car. If possible, keep your car in the garage or out of sight, advises Heather Dodson, a real estate agent at Team Leung in Greensboro, NC.

9. Be smart about boxes

If you’ve bought new gear to bring along on your summer vacation, don’t leave the empty boxes on the curb for everyone to see. Instead, break down the cardboard and put it in your container for recycling or trash pickup.

10. Don’t publicize your vacation plans

It’s hard to fight the allure of Facebook and Instagram. But it’s probably not the best idea to share your travel plans online with your 500 closest friends. Your Facebook profile might not be as private as you think — and it’s better not to take the risk.

Source: trulia.com ~ By: Ginny Gaylor

2017 vs. 2018: What’s Different About Buying Real Estate This Year?

When you’re ready to buy a home, it’s important to take every factor into consideration. Changes in the market from year to year can have a major impact on how you purchase a home. Keep these things in mind while looking for a new home:

Millennials Are Taking Over

Even though millennials aren’t the biggest category of homeowners right now, they’re expected to be by the end of 2018. For the first time, they’ll be the majority homeowners. The fact that they’re buying more homes means there are different selling and purchase patterns coming up in the future due to the different spending habits of millennials.

Home Prices Are Going Up

Those who sell real estate see an increase in the prices of homes. In most areas, the median price is rising—an increase that may be due to greater demand from first-time homebuyers. The good news? Rising house prices is an indicator that the economy is on the rise.

Number of Sales Is Going Up

More people are buying homes now than ever before. The average number of sales real estate agents see is increasing. And, since more people are buying homes, the demand will continue increasing. It’s important for those who want to purchase a home to get in on the action now before prices go up even more in the future.

Ownership Is Stabilizing

For years, there was a lot of fluctuation in homeownership. However, for the first time ever, the homeownership rate is stabilizing. And the demand will continue increasing so people can see all the different options they have for purchasing a home no matter what area they’re in.

Anyone looking for a home should consider market conditions, the things that are happening with homes and the availability of homes in their area. Always consider where and when you’re buying a home!

Source: blog.rismedia.com ~ By: Hannah Whittenly

9 Home Improvements That Can Help (and Hurt) Value

Home improvement can be taken as very demanding action, but there are also some ways of home improvement you can do yourself. Therefore, before you start with any, see what improvements are the most needed in your home. Nowadays, a big attraction is an energy-efficient home which saves a lot of energy and reduces energy costs. On the other hand, maintenance problems and pest or bug infestations are a major turn off and should be looked into ASAP.

We bring you several great pieces of advice you can use to improve your home’s value and feel more comfortable and cozy.

1. Water Filtration System

A water filtration system in your kitchen is a small addition that will appeal to many home buyers and is used for purifying the water. When you have a water filtration system installed in your house, you don’t have to buy bottled water anymore. The best thing is that it’s not expensive at all, and everyone can afford it.

2. Removing Old Carpets

Besides looking old, old carpets might also be hiding contaminants and allergens which means you have bad air quality in your home. Sometimes the best option for testing an indoor air quality is to call a professional company because they will surely do a great job.

Wooden floors are an excellent way to bring the touch of outdoors in your home. Great examples of environmentally friendly natural products are tile or laminated floors. By replacing your old carpets with a hard surface floor, your house will be easier to clean, and you’ll have more time to do things you like.

3. Replacing Popcorn Ceiling

It is no secret that homes with popcorn ceilings are outdated so get rid of this popcorn ceiling fast. To be sure that it does not contain asbestos, it would be best to hire professionals to test it. Replacing Popcorn Ceiling is as simple as buying a solution to soften the texture from the hardware store and scraping the popcorn away.

4. Bathroom Remodeling

Remodeling bathrooms is a great way to add more value to your home. If a full rebuild is not in your budget, you can invest in many small changes that will freshen up your bathroom. Replace the dated wallpaper, old lighting, add some fancy cupboard knobs or change the faucet and shower heads.

5. Kitchen Remodeling

Just like the bathroom, a big kitchen update can do wonders. Stained sinks and old appliances are all things to look at. If replacing the kitchen cabinets is too much for you, you can always give them a new look by adding a new varnish or paint layer and swap those old doorknobs with modern ones.

6. Maintenance and Repairs

Maintenance is an ongoing process, no matter if you plan to live in your house for a long time or move soon. Repairing or replacing broken appliances or fixtures will avoid further damage. Certain things are not to be left, and for example, leak spots on the ceiling can cause great damage to your roof if not taken care of immediately. If your home is up for sale, a sign of poor maintenance will make the home seekers wonder what else is wrong with the house.

7. Water Heater Upgrade

An old water heater can be a turn off for some home buyers, but you can find water heaters that come with a tankless model. This kind of water heaters are more efficient as they only heat up the water that you need.

8. Appliance Updates

Nowadays, energy-efficiency is becoming trendy. Appliances with an energy star label use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than other conventional appliances. New models look great, and many are stainless steel which is a bonus. If you do not have the money for buying modern devices, upgrade the lighting to energy star.

9. Update Fixtures

Fixtures in your home include curtain rods, light fixtures, doorknobs, switch plates, outlet covers, etc. Make sure that these are updated because sometimes it’s the small detail that counts. For example, outlet covers and switch plates look more attractive when made of metal. These changes are easy to do yourself and aren’t so expensive, just be sure you choose the right color which looks great combined with other furniture in your home.

Source: realtytimes.com ~ By: Matt James

Why Real Estate May Be A Big Winner In The Tax Cuts And Jobs Act

On the surface it may look like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is bad for real estate. The reduction in the deductibility of mortgage interest and the combined $10,000 cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions for income, sales and property, along with the elimination of moving expense deductions would make a compelling argument. But after digging through the fine print, the outcome is that real estate may actually be the big winner.

The mortgage deduction has been reduced to $750,000 dollars for new homeowners, but the deductibility of current mortgage debt up to $1 million is still protected. The only change was that technically under the old law one could also deduct $100,000 of home-equity debt. This is no longer allowed unless an equity loan is used to substantially improve the residence.

However, let’s keep in mind that these mortgage provisions are due to sunset on Dec. 31, 2025. So, don’t run out and pay down your mortgage because you won’t be able to get the deductions back. These limits are short-lived.

Let’s delve a little deeper. How did real estate come out alright?

  • The deduction for mortgage interest on second homes survived although it initially appeared to be on the chopping block.
  • The ability to rent a primary or secondary home for up to 14 days a year and not pay taxes on the income survived.
  • A new deduction for pass-through entities benefits real estate, particularly real estate investment trusts. This will enable real estate partnerships and LLCs to get a new 20% deduction.
  • Real estate agents–unlike doctors, lawyers, financial planners and professional athletes–are not considered a service industry profession and therefore are exempt from the limit in their pass-through deductions if their income is higher than $207,500 or $415,000 for a couple.
  • Real estate professionals who work more than 750 hours a year can still deduct their real estate losses from ordinary income and lower income investors can still deduct passive income, such as real estate rentals.
  • The bill doubles the Section 179 deduction for qualifying expenses, allowing business to annually deduct up to $1 million on certain types of property expenses.
  • Land and property depreciation has been retained and the alternative depreciation system period for residential property has been shortened. This is a huge win for the industry because one of the key features to investing in real estate is depreciation because under U.S. accounting rules real estate loses value, even though it tends to rise in market value.
  • Changes in the carried interest deduction–one must now hold assets for three years instead of only one–will benefit real estate funds substantially more than other types of managed funds.
  • And finally, the lucrative 1031 tax free exchange rules that were on the initial chopping block were retained. Section 1031 allows real estate investors to defer capital gains taxes if they are using the money to purchase another property.

These are just a few of the benefits that real estate has received and only scratches the surface of the plethora of real estate strategies that continue to survive. Not only should commercial real estate benefit, but residential real estate still maintains its luster.

In the end, real estate may be the big winner but so is capitalism. After all, real estate is one of the foundations of an ownership society. As my favorite economist Hernando De Soto said in his book, The Mystery of Capital, “Real estate is why capitalism triumphs in the west and fails everywhere else.”

Source: Forbes.com  ~ BY: John E. Girouard

Get Your Home Summer Ready Now Before It Gets Scorching

Advice for spring home buyers can be found in this recently released survey from realtor.com® , a leading online real estate destination. Research highlights the reality of today’s home buying markets around the country. Advice and insights into one of the most competitive home buying markets in years can help buyers and let sellers know what to expect. Chief Economist at realtor.com Danielle Hale tells the story behind the numbers.

This year there is even less inventory than last year. According to our February 2018 data inventory is down 8.5% from last February. Days on Market (DOM) fell to 85 nationally from 90 last year.

The big news that impacts buyers according to Hale, inventory has declined for 42 consecutive months. What’s most interesting and what the research showed is buyers are getting the message that it is a tougher market this Spring. Either they have heard, or they have experienced it personally as they made offers and did not get the property, Hale adds.

Listen to Hale’s advice for buyers. You have to know exactly what your comfort zone is and the maximum price you can pay. It’s very important to be thinking about what you can afford as mortgage rates go higher especially if they move up quickly.

Take a look at the research from Toluna who in early March surveyed more than 1,000 active buyers. Clearly buyers are out there armed with as much market knowledge as possible. Many are more determined than before to strike a deal.

Here’s key research from the survey. The message is buyers are serious this Spring with 40 percent of buyers planning to put more than 20 percent down in hopes of getting ahead of the competition. Almost half (40%) of today’s buyers have been actively looking for a home for more than seven months. Many remain hopeful with 60 percent thinking they will close on a home within the next six months. Strategies to nab that dream home include checking listing websites daily, while 40 percent of buyers plan to put more than 20 percent cash down. More than a third are setting price alerts on properties. More than 25 percent will offer above asking price with  31 percent planning to put a larger earnest money deposit down.  Only 6 percent indicated they are not planning to use any tactics to cope with competition.

Boston’s David Bates, a long-time Broker Associate at William Ravis Real Estate sums it up.

“We have had a lot of strong markets, but this probably is the strongest I have seen. In my office, folks are talking about the significant competition for modestly priced properties outside the city, say around $500,000 or less. Someone had a 28-offer situation in Chelmsford, another had a 17-offer situation in Everett. I myself had a nine offer and six offer situations in Beverly. These are not the most sought-after communities in Greater Boston. Perhaps there are a number of things motivating buyers, but high on the list is the lack of affordability in and close to the city.”

If you plan on house hunting this Spring, good luck. If you plan to sell this Spring, chances are your home will sell quickly and possibly for above asking price if it’s priced right, in excellent condition and has location, location, location going for it.

Source: forbes.com ~ By: Ellen Paris, Contributor