Jeffrey Harrington's Blog
Buying your first home is probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. But, it does come with its advantages. Among them are tax breaks and deductions that you can take advantage of to save money if you play your cards right.
In today’s post, I’m going to cover some of the tax breaks and deductions that first-time homeowners should seek out this tax season to help them lower their tax bill.
While earning points is a good thing on the basketball court, it can be a financial drain on a mortgage. Mortgage points are what buyers pay to the lender to secure their loan. They’re usually given as percentage points of the total loan amount.
If you pay these points with your closing costs, then they are deductible. Taxpayers who itemize deductions on their IRS Form 1040 can typically deduct all of the points they paid in a year, with the exception of some high-income taxpayers whose itemized deductions are limited.
If you’re one of the many people who made a down payment of less than 20% on your home, odds are that you’re going to be stuck with PMI, or private mortgage insurance, until you pay off at least 20% of the loan balance.
The good news is that homebuyers who purchased their home in the year 2007 and after can deduct their PMI premiums. However, the state on premium insurance deductibles is something that frequently comes up in Congress, so homeowners should ensure that these deductions are still valid when filing their taxes.
Mortgage interest accounts for the biggest deduction for the average homeowner. When you receive your Form 1098 from your lender, you can deduct the total amount of interest you’ve paid during the year.
Another deductible that shouldn’t be overlooked by first-time buyers is local property taxes. Save the records for any property taxes you pay so that you can deduct them during tax season.
Home energy tax credits
Some states are offering generous tax credits for homeowners who make home improvements that save energy. There are a number of improvements you might qualify for, including things like insulation and roofs, as well as photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.
Many first-time buyers withdraw from an IRA account to be able to make a larger down payment on their home or to pay for closing costs. In most other cases, withdrawing from an IRA will count as taxable income. However, if your IRA withdrawal is used toward a down payment or closing costs, the tax penalty is waived.
Keep these tax breaks and deductions in mind this tax season to help you save money and get a larger refund.
There are a lot of real estate agents out there to choose from. It might be hard to tell one from another. There’s so many ways to find an agent these days including recommendations from friends and family to simple online searches. You want an agent that understands your needs from the neighborhoods that you’re looking to buy a home in, to the layout of the market that you’re selling in. Each agent has different specialties from relocation needs to foreign languages to FHA approved property searches. Below, you’ll find some tips to help you find the perfect realtor for you.
Pick Someone Who You Can Have Straight Talk With
You’ll need to like the person you pick as your realtor, but you’ll also need someone who you can talk business with. You don’t want a family member who you don’t feel comfortable knowing your financial picture, or someone who won’t understand your desire for a certain location or neighborhood.
Match Your Personality
You’ll be in touch with and will be spending a lot of time with your realtor. You want to find a realtor who can work well with you. Match your personality with theirs. Do you like someone who is a bit aggressive? Would you rather have a realtor who is a bit more easy-going? How often do you want to be in touch with your agent? Just remember that if you don’t like your agent, there’s a good chance that other people may not like your agent either!
The Choice Is Yours
Remember that the choice is yours when you’re looking for a realtor. You want to find a realtor who you know you’ll work well with. You also want to know that your realtor will work for you. It’s important that your realtor be ethical, communicative, and be a part of your team throughout the process of buying and selling. Here’s some questions that you should ask your realtor in order to help you understand if they’re a good fit for you:
- Will I be working with you exclusively?
- Are you a full or a part-time agent?
- How much experience do you have?
- What broker do you work for?
- Have you closed homes in this neighborhood before?
- Do you work with any lenders or have a seasoned team to help us through this process?
Anyone who’s ever been in an outdated house or hotel room can tell you that the way we decorate can have an effect on our mood. Certain colors, lack of lighting, and cluttered rooms are all things that, whether we realize it or not, can have a negative effect on our mood and productivity.
These concepts aren’t recent realizations. In ancient China and India, concepts of architecture and decorating have been teaching proper design techniques for thousands of years. Today, these schools of thought are often lumped into the field of environmental psychology.
In today’s post, I’m going to talk about a few design techniques that will help you and your houseguests feel more welcome in your home and create a tone that matches your desires, whether that’s relaxed or energized.
The effects of color
With a quick Google search, you’ll find hundreds of articles discussing the psychological effects of colors. What many fail to mention is the way these effects are based on things like the culture and time period we grow up in.
However, you may find that guests to your home will feel more comfortable in light, neutral- colored rooms than they will in a room that’s painted bold colors.
On a room-by-room basis, there tend to be certain colors that Americans associate with the “right” colors for the occasion.
However, this is often influenced by the architectural style of the house more than an internalized idea about specific colors.
How much is too much?
It’s easy to accumulate home decor and find your walls and surface becoming a little too cluttered. However, bare walls and sparsely decorated rooms can feel a bit too sterile and unlivable. Is there a balance between the two?
Oftentimes the best solution is to follow one simple decorating principle:
Rather than using several small items to decorate a room, choose just a few larger items. This will prevent the room from appearing cluttered but still give it a sense of character.
Taking advantage of the full area of a room
So far, we’ve been talking about how colors and decor can make a room feel more spacious and welcoming. But, even if you have a small room, you can still often achieve this effect.
One solution is to add brighter lighting to the room. Increasing the light makes to room feel more open. And, if possible, natural lighting is the best option, as it can reduce any feelings of claustrophobia.
If better lighting or windows aren’t an option, many homeowners turn to mirrors to make a room feel larger. Larger, wall-hanging mirrors are an excellent way to give the illusion of spaciousness in a small room.
Using the psychology behind these three decorating principles, you’ll be able to make you and your houseguests feel more at ease within your home.
A home showing represents an important opportunity for a homebuyer. And if you know the right questions to ask during a home showing, you can obtain the insights you need to determine whether a residence is right for you.
Ultimately, there are several crucial questions to ask during a home showing, and these include:
1. Why did the seller list this home?
There are many reasons why an individual may choose to sell his or her house. Yet this information rarely, if ever, is included in a home listing. Fortunately, a home showing gives you the opportunity to analyze a seller's perspective as you weigh the pros and cons of submitting an offer to acquire a residence.
If a seller listed a house due to severe home maintenance issues that have escalated over time, this is a red flag for any buyer. On the other hand, if a home seller simply is looking to upgrade or downgrade or prefers to live elsewhere, you may want to further pursue his or her residence.
2. Is there any flexibility on the home price?
The initial asking price of a home usually is flexible, but only to a certain extent. Determining the level of flexibility on an initial asking price is paramount, as this may dictate the offer that you make on a house.
However, it is important to submit a competitive home offer, regardless of whether a seller is flexible about the price of a residence. Because if you submit a competitive homebuying proposal, you can reduce the risk of missing out on an opportunity to purchase your ideal residence.
3. Is there anything else I need to know about this home?
Following an in-depth home showing, you likely will have lots of information about a house and its condition. To conclude the showing, you should ask if there is anything else you need to know about a residence. This will enable you to receive the final pieces of information you need to decide how to proceed with a home.
Remember, it is your duty as a homebuyer to make an informed decision. If you understand exactly what to ask during a home showing, you can obtain the insights you need to determine the best course of action.
When it comes to preparing for a home showing, it helps to get assistance from a real estate agent too. In fact, hiring a real estate agent will make it simple for you to navigate the ups and downs of the homebuying journey.
A real estate agent is happy to set up home showings and attend these events with you. He or she can provide comprehensive home insights throughout a home showing. Plus, after a home showing, a real estate agent will help you decide whether to submit an offer on a house or continue your pursuit of your dream residence.
Get ready for a home showing – collaborate with a real estate agent, and you can receive the help you need to fully analyze a house.
Home showings are valuable parts of the property buying cycle. If a homebuyer knows what to expect during a showing, this individual can get the information that he or she needs to determine whether a particular house is the right option.
Now, let's take a look at three things that buyers need to know about home showings.
1. A home showing is a commitment-free experience.
There is no obligation to submit an offer to purchase a house following a showing. Instead, a buyer can review his or her options and proceed accordingly.
In some cases, a buyer may want to set up a follow-up home showing as well. A follow-up showing enables a buyer to get a second look at a residence to determine whether it matches or exceeds his or her expectations.
It also may be beneficial to prepare lots of questions before a showing. That way, a buyer can gain deep insights into a home to help him or her decide the best course of action.
2. A home showing enables a buyer to get an up-close look at a house.
During a home showing, a buyer will walk through a house with a real estate agent. A buyer can ask a real estate agent questions about a residence, and he or she may even choose to take notes as the showing progresses.
It generally is a good idea to check out all areas of a house during a showing. Remember, a home purchase probably is one of the biggest decisions that an individual will make in his or her lifetime. With a comprehensive home showing, an individual can gain extensive insights into a residence's age, condition and more.
In addition, a buyer should not place a time limit on a showing. Depending on the size of a home, a showing may last a few minutes or a few hours. But a buyer who allocates the necessary time and resources to analyze a residence during a showing may be better equipped than others to make an informed decision about a house.
3. A home showing is one of many steps during the homebuying journey.
If a home showing is successful, a buyer may be inclined to submit an offer to purchase. Or, if a showing reveals a house fails to hit the mark with a buyer, this individual can continue his or her pursuit of the perfect residence.
Lastly, when it comes to setting up home showings, it often helps to hire a real estate agent. This housing market professional will make it simple for a buyer to navigate the property buying journey.
A real estate agent will schedule home showings for buyers and keep buyers up to date about open house events. Plus, a real estate agent will help a buyer submit an offer to purchase a home and ensure that a buyer can seamlessly acquire his or her ideal residence.
Reach out to a real estate agent today, and you can kick off the homebuying journey.