Green Features: Can They Help Sell A Home?


Equipping your home with a geothermal system and solar panels may appear to be a major plus point when it comes time to sell your home, but will it really make a difference to potential buyers?

Most of today’s home buyers like to hear about a property’s LEED certification, solar panels, geothermal systems, and Energy Star rated appliances. Likewise, today’s property developers and sellers like to tell potential buyers about their property’s green features, because of the monetary expense they have invested to upgrade the property. But do these features really affect the way a buyer feels about a property? Will they be willing to pay more money for a property – and can the green features of a home actually make a sale?

Can green features get buyers to part with more cash?

Home buyers spend extra money for features of a property that they can physically feel and show off to impress family and friends, a media entertainment room, spa bathroom suite, chef’s kitchen. Most buyers will probably have reservations about paying extra for a property’s features that are concealed or are not easily appreciated, such as a new boiler, plumbing system, or roof.

The green features of a property are somewhere in between. There is a certain appreciation and cool factor for a property’s solar panels or environmentally friendly smart phone controlled thermostat. If a home’s green features have a cool factor a buyer will be willing to pay extra for the property. However, if a property has green features that fail to excite a buyer, such as a concealed air filtration system, they are not likely to spend more than they would for a similar property that lacks the features.

Money saving green features

A home with green features that fails to excite is unlikely to result in a buyer spending more money to purchase the property. But, if the home is equipped with green features that will save the owner money in the future or in the short term, potential buyers are likely to be more interested.

When it comes to the resale of a property, it is unlikely that the seller will recover the full cost of investment in green features, such as solar panels or environmentally friendly thermostats. Like a redesigned kitchen or upgraded bathroom, the cost is built into the total value of the property. This presents a situation that is very beneficial for buyers, as they can reap the benefits of a green feature and any cool factor at the same time.

New builds: including green features or not

For new builds, the potential buyer needs to make a very detailed cost versus benefit breakdown of including any green features. Developers usually offer a choice of floor plans and custom features to buyers, including geothermal systems for heating and cooling a property. The extra cost of these systems is usually around $50,000; however the federal government offers tax credit that immediately returns $30,000 to the buyer. The initial cost of the system is also usually included with the cost of the mortgage, so the buyer is not required to make any initial investment of cash.

The energy bills of a property with a geothermal system are hundreds of dollars lower than that of a property without the feature, so within 5 years the buyer would recuperate the cost in energy bill savings.

However, the decision to include green features for the extra investment is a personal and financial decision for each individual buyer. If a buyer does not plan to be living in the property for the long term they may feel that they will not benefit from the saving in energy bills, and that future buyers will not be willing to pay extra for the feature, especially in a slow housing market. Buyers that plan to spend a long time in the property, or want to commit to being environmentally friendly with their home, may feel differently about including green features.

A growing market

A growing niche of the housing market is willing to spend extra on green features, and are less concerned with the cool factor or cost saving of the feature. While the cost saving is a bonus, their concern for the environment drives their decision making.

It is ultimately a personal decision that each buyer should consider, the environmental impact and cost saving and how they influence your real estate decisions. One thing you can be sure of is that green features are here to stay and will become increasingly important in the housing market.

4 Steps to Buying a Second Home

Many people love the idea of owning a chalet in the mountains, a beach house retreat, or a cool apartment in the city, but never take the plunge. Buying a second home is a big financial and life changing step that requires a lot of thought. By following the steps below, you can make then decision of whether or not you are ready for a second property, and find out exactly how how to go about preparing for the purchase of a second home if it is the right decision for you.

Is a second home affordable for you and your financial situation?

Before you get excited about a cozy countryside cottage, you should assess your financial situation and research the costs of a second home, beyond just acquiring a second mortgage. Be aware that some mortgage companies will charge more interest for a second home if you intend to rent out the property as a holiday let, or to a tenant, as financial lenders categorize a rental as a greater risk than a property used as a primary residence.

Are the maintenance, insurance, and property taxes affordable when you are not using the property as a residence? Gas, electric, garbage disposal, and water utility bills all require paying, even when you are not using the property.

As with the property you currently reside, unexpected upkeep and repair costs always appear at some stage. If you like the idea of a large garden for summer BBQs and family get-togethers, you must be prepared for the landscaping costs to maintain the property when you are away from your second home.

It is worth noting that hiring a property manager to keep check of your second home may be advisable, especially if you plan on leaving your property for longer than a few weeks at a time.

Pick a location for your second home

The idea of a second home on the beach may sound ideal, but will you have the time to visit your new second home as often as you would like to? Unless you plan on renting out your second home for large segments of the year, it may not be a good idea to invest in a property that you will only be able to use a couple of weeks a year.

If you are already spending a considerable amount of time in a location, and have the finances to afford a second home, then purchasing a vacation home may be a great option for you.

Look into insuring a second property

After you have evaluated the real cost of owning a second home, and you know the location you want to buy in, researching the cost and considerations of insuring a second property is next.

The insurer of your current property is a great place to start. By insuring both your properties and any vehicles may make you eligible for discounted rates.

Insurance rates can vary on lots of factors. If your new second home is in an area affected by flooding, or has a swimming pool, especially with no fencing or gates surrounding it, it may mean more expensive rates or no possibility of insurance coverage at all.

Find your new second home and enjoy it

After you have looked into all the possible costs of owning a second home and you have selected potential areas you wish to buy, get in contact with a real estate agent and arrange some viewings to find your new dream vacation property.

A second home offers the possibility of enjoying glorious vacation time from the comfort and familiarity of your own home. After spending some time at your new property you will come to realize how cost-saving owning a vacation home is to renting, along with the privacy that cannot be found among the crowds of tourists at hotels and resorts.

A second home that is purchased in the right area can also be a financially beneficial purchase, even if you decide against renting out the property. Depending on how they are used, a second home can also be eligible for some tax benefits.

Choose a location that you love to frequent and use your second home as a place to unwind, relax, and experience memorable days with the family.

The 3 Most Common Moving Day Nightmares


Relocating to a different property can be very stressful. Below are the most common moving day problems and how to avoid them.

Bad moving company

Some moving companies are incompetent and can even be completely fraudulent.

The movers don’t show up or arrive late

The time you agreed with the company passes and after making a phone call you are given an excuse, more time elapses before the movers finally turn up several hours late. The result is a very stressful day and a lot of wasted time. The worst possibility is that you cannot get in contact with the moving company and are left with a wasted day and the financial loss of the deposit you gave to a fraudulent moving company that disappeared.

Your movers aren’t prepared 

Your moving day can also be disastrous if the company you hire arrives in a vehicle too small to transport your belongings, or lacks the expertise and equipment to safely handle your valuable items. An incompetent moving company may cram your belongings into a small van and scratch your expensive TV, or drop the set of china you inherited from your grandmother. The result is an emotionally and financially damaging moving day.

The movers are criminals or scammers

This might be the worst potential problem that can occur with the movers. The moving scammers may ask for much more money than was previously agreed by claiming that extra services are required for the move. They can even withhold your belongings until you pay an additional fee, or steal your expensive items and abandon the rest.

The solution to problems with moving companies is simple. Ensure that you carefully research the company before hiring them and handing over any deposit. Make sure that you are hiring a reputable company that is experienced and fully licensed. It is also recommended that you purchase any appropriate insurance for transporting your possessions, better to be safe than sorry.

Problems with traffic

Bad traffic or accidents can derail your moving day.

Stuck in traffic

The moving truck is late due to traffic and you run out of time to go ahead with your move. You might have to postpone your moving day and go through the stress of moving all over again.

Accidents

A traffic collision could occur on the moving truck’s route, it could delay the arrival of your belongings. The worst scenario is that the moving truck is involved in the accident and your possessions are badly damaged or even worse and lost completely.

The moving truck breaks down

If the moving truck breaks down you will have to wait for a replacement vehicle and transfer your belongings. Your relocation will delayed by some considerable time.

Parking problems

There is no space for the moving truck to park, you may have to wait for hours until a suitable space opens, or the moving truck has to park a long way from your new home. As well as wasting your time, the moving company may charge you for the delay or the extra distance they have to carry your possessions.

Sometimes you will suffer bad luck, and there is not much you can do about breakdowns and accidents. Pick a reputable moving company with several vehicles and make sure to reserve a parking space outside your old and your new home if possible.

Bad organization

Plan your relocation step by step to avoid the common moving day problems below.

Last minute packing

If you leave packing to the last minute, you may discover that you have many more possessions to relocate than you previously thought and it doesn’t fit into the moving truck. You might not even be ready when the movers arrive and lose time and possibly money due to extra fees.

Furniture issues

If your larger possessions don’t fit through the door, you might have to pay for a hoisting service to have it removed at extra cost, or leave behind items that have sentimental value.

Problems with paperwork

Many people forget to transfer utilities and don’t have any electricity or water when they arrive at their new property. You can be fined if you don’t change the registration of your car and driver’s license in time.

Safety concerns

Don’t overlook safety on moving day. Many people suffer injuries and accidents on their moving day by overlooking safety concerns.

The Seller Rejected Your Offer, Now What?

Finding the perfect home can be a trying process to say the least. You’ll encounter a number of houses and people before you finally come across that perfect match. Also, you may find yourself in a situation where you want the home more than the seller wants you to have the home. As heart breaking as this may be, there’s always more fish in the sea, or in this case…houses on the market.

So what can we do if we come across a situation where your offer was rejected? Well, if you’re set on this home then we’re going to have to do a little strategizing. Obviously theres no obligation for the seller to accept your offer if they don’t want to. They can reject your offer for literally any reason. Every seller you come across will have different motivations for selling and thats important to remember. Of course we can’t guarantee that the seller can be convinced to sell at the price point you’re willing to offer so make sure you’re not hung up on a property that just wasn’t meant to be.

Let’s dive right into the 3 best ways you can respond to a seller who has rejected your offer.

1. Don’t over analyze

Your first instinct might be to over analyze why the seller rejected your offer. Don’t spend your valuable time looking up the sales history and tax records and comparing everything the seller’s agent told you with everything you think you know. Before you know it you’ll find yourself in a deep hole more confused then you were at the start.

If you’re offer was rejected its best to speak with your agent and discuss further options. Be open to the idea that this house will remain out of your reach simply fro reasons you can’t overcome. I’m certainly not advocating that you just drop all interest in the house. However, if your first offer was your best possible offer and it was a no go consider moving on. If it wasn’t your best possible offer see option number 2 just below.

2. Go all in

If you made an offer and it wasn’t enticing enough to the seller consider upping your offer. Common practice is to make an offer with some room to increase if need be. So presumably you made an offer with a little room to increase, logically the next step would be to make your next best offer and hope this time you land a deal.

Make it clear this is your highest offer and put it in writing. If they still aren’t interested or they don’t respond to you its time to move on. Consult with you agent before you make your final offer and mentally prepare yourself to move on if it doesn’t go through.

3. Put the home behind you

Purchasing a home is an emotional experience, you might find yourself emotionally attached before you’ve even closed on the house. So its important to put that home out of your mind immediately if your best offer was rejected. Lingering on the home and questioning why you didn’t get it will distract you from finding a new one.

Take this time to reflect on the process and prepare yourself for the next one. Remember some of the features that made this home so inviting to you. Just because you didn’t get this home doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice those important qualities. Certainly not all homes we’re created equal but you’ll always find similarities across the board when house hunting.

So get out there and get to know more houses, each one has something new to offer you! So get out there paint the town red, or your new home red for that matter. Either way try to relax and enjoy the home buying process, as taxing as it may be. Your agent will be there to guide you through the whole process and make sure you don’t settle on a house lacking your dream requirements.

Odds are you’ll come across another home down the line that is even more perfect for you than you had ever imagined. For every seller to reject your offer there is one waiting to close on the house of you dreams. So let’s get out there and start house hunting, your dream home is waiting.

Tenants Beware: Hidden Costs and Fees


In recent years, the rental market has been booming. Data from the most up to date U.S. census shows that, over a 10 year period, the number of renters has grown at its fastest rate since 1965. An increase of around 8.5 million renters in the last decade has seen the competition increase and the pressure grow on both renters and landlords. Tenants face fierce competition to find a suitable and reasonably priced home, while landlords try to get the right rental price for their property in an ever increasingly competitive rental market.

Every landlord is running a business, and like every business they try to maximize profits. Sometimes a property’s monthly rental cost seems reasonable, but the utilities and other hidden fees can add up to a sizable extra cost for the tenant. Listed below are some of the hidden costs and add-ons you should look out for before signing a tenancy agreement.

Utilities

Utility bills are often overlooked by new tenants that are excited to move into a property. To understand the overall rental cost of a property, tenants should take the cost of all the utility bills into consideration. State laws differ when it comes to how tenants are billed for utilities, and what happens in the event of missed payments and utility shutoffs.

Utilities can be part of a total, all-inclusive, rental cost and be billed to the landlord. Other rental properties may require the tenant to have the utility bills in their name. In apartments and flats, master meters are often used by landlords to serve the entire apartment block or building and the tenants are billed individually. This is known as third-party billing and is popular with landlords, as they can advertise a base rental cost, but then charge for the utilities as an extra add-on cost.

Third-part billing regulations

Some cities view third-party billing as deceptive, and introduced legislation to oversee third-party billing. Seattle introduced third-party billing ordinance to cover all residential buildings that contain over three units, in an attempt to combat deceptive landlords from fraudulently overcharging tenants for utilities.

In 1977, the non-profit Tenants Union of Washington State was formed to offer help, information and advice to tenants, in regards to tenancy issues, third-party billing and other issues connected to utility costs.

The advice the organisation offers is not restricted to Washington State. It is advisable that all tenants, regardless of location, follow their advice in regards to utility bills.

– Make sure to ask questions and have a clear understanding of utility services before signing a tenancy agreement

– Act quickly to set up utility accounts

– Always pay utility bills on time and retain all payment documentation

– Take precautions to protect yourself with the landlord

– Try to resolve any utility disputes quickly

Other hidden fees and charges

Some landlords may charge additional fees, other than utilities. Sometimes these fees are optional services and other times they are required by all tenants, depending on the tenant’s specific agreement and situation. These fees can even be related to supply and demand, depending on the competitiveness of the rental market.

Landlords can charge separate fees for parking, and additional costs for any pets at the residence. Landlords may also charge an application fee that must be paid regardless whether a tenant is approved or not.

Condos and apartments that are subject to homeowner’s associations (HOAs), can charge for tenant- occupied units and separate moving in fees. Amenities that are not considered utilities, such as internet access and cable TV, under most state ordinances, may be billed to the tenant as an additional fee from the landlord or HOA.

These additional fees are on top of the security deposit and advanced payment of rent that is required by most landlords, usually the first and last month of rent that is to be paid before a tenant can move into the property.

Need advice?

There are many non-profit advocacy organizations around the country that are able to offer help and advice to tenants. Most states also provide information for landlords and tenants on their official websites. If you are still confused, or cannot find the information you require, it may be worth consulting with an expert that knows the state law and can offer advice and services to help resolve tenancy issues and problems quickly and at an affordable cost.

Top Mistakes To Avoid As A First Time Buyer

Taking your first step into the housing market can be a daunting experience. Unfortunately, there is no completely watertight step by step process to make sure you’re purchasing the right house for you. However, if you keep reading you will see some of the biggest mistakes that first time buyers make and know what to avoid when it comes time to buy your own first home. Don’t be a first time seller that regrets their decisions as a first time buyer.

A bit too snug and small

If you are newlyweds or plan to start a family soon you should definitely avoid choosing a property that is a bit too cozy. It’s highly advised you don’t go for a two-bedroom home as you will find yourself a little cramped when child number two arrives and you’ll be looking to move to a larger home. Even if you do not have any immediate desire to start a family, plans can change over the course of a few years and the small two-bedroom old cottage you found adequate could become restrictive. Three-bedroom houses are generally more suitable as, if do you stay at the property for more time than you initially expected, they offer enough space to comfortably start a family.

Too spacious

On the other end of the scale is the home that is much too big. A six-bedroom house will offer plenty of space for guests and your future children to grow up, but it may not currently suit the needs of you and your partner. You won’t need the extra bedrooms for many years and may be paying a much larger mortgage than you presently need to.

The project

It may be tempting to buy yourself a property in need of some renovation and bring it up to date with a little work. There are plenty of TV shows that show the transformation a home can undergo with a couple of big jobs and a few weekends of painting and decorating. However, lots of project homes overrun on time and go significantly over budget, even when handled by veteran homeowners. If you can realistically perfect your home within a reasonable budget and time frame, with simple upgrades, you may have found the right project house for you. But, if you spot several big jobs and the need for a major overhaul, you should avoid falling into a money pit.

The free time killer

Does your prospective new home have any luxurious special features that will require lots of maintenance or upkeep? Swimming pools, hot tubs, large front and back gardens, etc. all require lots of time and considerable expense to maintain. Are you happy to spend your free time and cash maintaining the idyllic appearance and features of your home? If not, then you should find something more manageable.

Thinking of your new home as a business investment

Every first time buyer would like to enjoy their new living space for a few years, maybe make a few improvements, sell their home for a handsome profit, and buy an even better second home. But treating your first residential property as an investment opportunity, rather than a home to live in, can backfire and snuff aspirations. Sometimes you can make endless home improvements that just don’t resonate with the next potential buyer. And due to external factors, house prices don’t always rise and you are left with very little control over the value of your property. If you are thinking of your first property as an investment, and are more concerned by a home’s sell on value than you are by its suitability as a living space to reside, you should study the market very thoroughly before making any decisions. Take as much expert advice as you can and think carefully before you make an offer and sign the paperwork.

Forgetting the location

While your own needs may not be affected by a home’s location, sometimes it will greatly affect future buyer’s needs. You may think you have found a bargain, but struggle to find a buyer when it comes to selling. Even if you have no plans to start a family or don’t mind not being located in the rough around the edges side of town, you should consider what future buyers will look for. Make sure to keep an eye on the school district and fiscal strength of the area.

Buying and Selling in a Competitive Market

In many areas of the country, the housing market is growing and its strength has lead to a competitive market for buyers and an easier market for home owners looking to sell. Below are some top tips for those looking to enter the property and also for those looking to sell in today’s competitive market.

Seller Tip: Know your property well and be honest with potential buyers

Sellers are in a position of strength in today’s market, but you don’t want to lose a potential buyer and a great deal after negotiations fail, and have to re-introduce your property to the market. Make sure you know all the details and potential pitfalls of your property and be honest with potential buyers. Buyers are much more forgiving of a property’s faults if they know about them before entering negotiations. Withholding information could kill your deal later and buyers are much more accepting of faults if they are entering a competitive market.

Buyer Tip: Be ready to close a deal and move

Be alert to property listings and ready to arrange a viewing as soon as something interesting comes up. There will be lots of buyers looking for the same property as you, so when a great house is listed on Tuesday it may be off the market by the weekend. Serious buyers are ready to make an offer and close a deal quickly.

Seller Tip: Have an organized process for receiving offers

There is no golden rule on whether to accept the first offer you receive or to leave your property on the market waiting for a more attractive offer. It depends on the time of year, the town, the state and other factors that your real estate agent will be able to discuss with you, and help you come up with a plan. In some areas it can be a great idea to jump on the first good offer you receive, whereas in other areas, it is best to wait and have more showings before reviewing all the offers you have received at once.

Buyer Tip: Buying your dream home won’t be easy

It’s very rare that a buyer closes a deal on the first property they like and make an offer on. The process takes time and with lots of competition you can easily lose out on a property if you don’t act fast or your offer is too low for the seller to accept. If you miss out on a home, it’s important to stay hungry and keep driven to find the right property next time. First time buyers are often inexperienced, every home you see and every offer you make is helping you learn more about the market and become more comfortable with how the whole process works. Missing out on a property is not always a bad experience, as the home you thought was perfect a month ago does not seem half as suitable as the property you find a month down the line.

Seller Tip: Study the competition and know your market well

A seller should know the market before they put their home up for sale. Spend a few weeks studying the other properties for sale in the area, even arrange a few viewings, before putting your home on the market. Once you are ready to sell, know your competition and how to price your property to receive the most attention from buyers. Every property is different, but you should know your own property inside and out and how it compares to the competition. Although the house for sale down the street may have a brand new bathroom and kitchen, you can price your property as an attractive alternative with great value for buyers that want to do their own home improvements. Well priced homes attract the attention of buyers and lead to faster sales and increased competition, which boosts prices.

Buyers and Sellers Tip: Preparation and staying alert

The housing market can be stressful for both buyers and sellers. In a competitive market, things can move along very quickly and both sides of the market need to be attentive if they want to successfully buy or sell a property. Sellers have the upper hand as they can put in weeks of preparation before entering the market, something sellers should definitely make use of to maximize their success. Buyers have to be on their toes and ready to react to listings and be prepared to make an offer and move as soon as they find the right property. A competitive market is fast moving and can be very exciting for both buyers and sellers, so try to enjoy the ride.

5 Household Chores You Should Consider Outsourcing

 

In an effort to ensure your home is running smoothly, it is important to have a clear list of household chores. Form the basics, including cleaning and cooking, which you should consider doing yourself if you at all have the means and sufficient time by your side. If you properly establish a system, it is very possible to have a manageable house hold chore routine. However, for the following tasks and chores, it is important to consider hiring a professional for assistance.

Fixing of Appliances

Your home appliances are bound to break and require repair from time to time. The drier may stop working, the fridge may die or maybe the toilet will start leaking. At first you may try fixing the appliances by yourself because you think you know where the problem is or maybe you are aware of what caused the problem in the first place.

You may end up disassembling the entire appliance and fail to fix the problem. The real nightmare is when you are not able to assemble the appliance back to its initial state. When it comes to fixing a broken house appliance, it is wise to hire a professional who understands what they are doing. You will save yourself time and considerable amounts of energy.

Walking Your Dog

Obviously you need to make sure your dog gets ample exercise. You cannot afford racing home from work every day to walk your dog however. The quality of the walks may prove to be poor since you do not have sufficient time to provide the dog with frequent quality exercise. However, if you have a flexible work schedule or work from home, you can easily afford to give your dog frequent walks.

On the other hand, if you have a tight work schedule, it means that you have minimum or even no time to offer quality exercise to your dog. You may have to look for a professional dog walker in your area to handle routine walks. You can also hire a professionals from DogWalker.com. Their charge per hour and rates can’t exceed $30. Hiring a dog walker will ensure that your dog stays happy and you can stay focused on work.

Cleaning Services

If you have a tight schedule, you can opt to hire a cleaning professional for your cleaning needs. In addition, you can decide to purchase a dry cleaning kit. Today, there are numerous inexpensive kits in the market. However, the number of treatments as well as their effectiveness vary from one brand to another.

To ensure that you purchase the best dry-cleaning kit, it is important to ask for some insights from a professional. They will recommend the right kit for your laundry needs based on their experience with the products. You may also confirm with the labels available on your clothes to find out whether they require dry cleaning.

Snow Removal

Removing snow from your home can be a fun activity. However, it can also be a tiresome experience. According to the Harvard Medical School, you can burn approximately 223 calories within 30 minutes of shoveling snow. With the level of intensity characterized by this shoveling activity, it should only be attempted by some one who is physically fit.

If you’re in the later years of your life clearing snow can be an extremely demanding task. Additionally, if you might be having a medical complication that doesn’t allow you to take part in high intensity activities, it is wise to inquire from your health provider before considering removing snow from your home. You could put your health at risk if you fail to take the necessary precautions. If that’s the case, consider hiring a professional to clear snow from your home fast. Most professionals own the necessary equipment for such activities.

Landscaping

Landscaping is another time consuming and often labor intensive task that can prove to be very strenuous. To top it off if you have seasonal allergies this can make the process completely unbearable. Landscaping companies are always available and they offer very affordable rates. For only $30 a week, your lawn can be cut without any worry.

Finding a balance between easily manageable house hold chores and the need for hiring a professional greatly depends on budget as well as the desire and skills you possess in a given area. If the benefits of hiring a professional outweigh the costs, you should consider outsourcing certain tasks . Other factors to consider include time, your health and even your safety.

 

 

 

8 Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Owning a home doesn’t come cheap, but it’s always great to know that some of your expenses are tax deductible. If you want to know how you can minimize the cost of owning a home by maximizing homeownership write-offs, you’ve come to the right place. Please note that the information presented here is based on the 2015 tax year.

1 . Mortgage Interest

When it comes to mortgage interest, there is always room for you to deduct all the mortgage interest payments you make on your home. This applies not only to your home equity line of credit (i.e. on a loan worth up to $100,000) but also to a second mortgage. If you own another home, such as a mobile home or vacation cottage, you can deduct the mortgage interest for it as well, provided you stay there for at least 14 days a year or 10% of the duration it is rented out.

2. Mortgage Points & Insurance

Apart from mortgage interest, you can also deduct the mortgage points for your home in the same year you pay them. These are the points you pay on your mortgage. Additionally, you can also deduct the points you pay for a home equity loan. It is worth noting that points paid to refinance a home mortgage should be amortized based on the length of the loan. You can also deduct premiums you pay for private mortgage insurance on your loan, provided you earned less than $109,000 in 2015.

3. Property Taxes

Although this might seem a little bit strange, you can also deduct taxes on your taxes. The property taxes you pay are a deductible expenses. Therefore, always keep all your property tax bills as well as proof of statements because you never know when you will need them.

4. Home Office

There is a possibility that you qualify for a home office deduction on the taxes you pay if you own a home-based business. However, there are a few conditions that you ought to fulfill in order to qualify for this deduction. Your home should be the primary place you’re doing your business and you should only use the office space for work.

Generally, there’re two ways of calculating your deduction. The simplified option is to deduct $5 per square foot up to a maximum of 300 square feet, and this applies only to your home office area. A more advantageous yet complex method involves dividing your office’s square footage with that of your home, yielding what is known as a “business percentage”. The business percentage is then multiplied by allowable home costs, such as mortgage interest and utilities. The final result is the deductible amount.

5. Energy Credit

Implementing energy-efficient improvements can earn you credit of up to 10% of the cost of improvements you’ve made, up to a maximum of $500. It covers expenses such as new doors and windows, insulation as well as high-efficiency heating & cooling systems. Having renewable energy systems such as solar power can earn you a credit worth 30% of its total cost. State credit could also be available for these items which you can add to you federal credit.

6. Medical Home Improvements

In case you are suffering from a medical condition that requires home improvements, such as air filter for allergies or a stair lift if you have arthritis, you can write off some of the expenses as part of your medical deductions. However, it is only possible to deduct the portion of your medical costs exceeding 10% of your newly adjusted gross income (7.5% for those aged 65 and above).

In most cases, the difference between equipment cost and the increase in home value from the improvement is the only amount you’re allowed to deduct. Some improvements, including widening doorways for them to accommodate a wheelchair don’t add any marketable value to a home but are deductible provided you meet specified income requirements.

7. Home Sales

If you sold your home no more than a year ago, you could be eligible for a certain amount of tax savings from the transaction it self. The title insurance, advertising and cost of real estate agent’s fees are all deductible expenses. Furthermore, you can deduct improvements you made to your home so that you can sell it provided you have a taxable capital profit from the sale.

8. Home Damages

If your home was damaged by fire, weather, theft, or any other disaster, you have suffered a casualty loss, which may be deductible. If your cumulative loss was greater than 10% of your income and wasn’t covered by insurance, you are eligible to deduct the loss. However, you ought to be in a position to document the total value of what was lost.

Important Rental Property Tax Considerations

Rental Agreement

Owning a rental property poses tax considerations that are more complex than the residential property you live in and will require a more refined tax strategy. Below is the tax information you need to know as well as some top tax tips for owners of rental properties.

Rental Property Tax Considerations

When filling out your tax returns, your rental property is listed in Schedule E, which documents your tax year income and expenses from the property itself. Income covers the rental payments you received while expenses covers your mortgage, repairs and maintenance, utilities, management fees and all other costs associated with the property.

If you pay points on the loan you used to purchase your rental property, you cannot deduct them completely from your taxable income like you can on a property purchased for residence. You must deduct the points over the whole length of your loan.

If the rental income from your property exceeds the expenses that the property incurred itself, remember that income is taxable.

If your property’s expenses are larger than the Schedule E rental income you accrued, you can deduct any losses from your taxable income if your non-property based income is less than $150,000 in the tax year. If you earned less than $100,000 in non-property income, you can deduct up to $25,000 of any losses your rental property incurred and if your non-property income is between $100,000 and $150,000, you can deduct up to $12,500. If you earn a non-property income above $150,000 you are not able to deduct any rental property losses from your taxable income.

If your earnings are above the threshold to deduct any rental property losses, you can amass losses as a counterbalance to capital gains taxes when you sell the property.

Speak to your tax adviser to see whether you can deduct rental losses from your taxable income or whether you can accrue losses against future capital gains taxes.

Tax Considerations When Selling Your Rental Property

When you sell a rental property, you are liable for capital gains taxes on your appreciation. It’s advisable that you seek out a tax adviser to give you an accurate breakdown of your costs and any profits that will be taxable as capital gains. However, there is a simple process available to give you a rough idea of your net profit and estimate of your capital gains taxes. Take your property sale price and deduct the purchase price, the cost of any modifications to improve the property, and all selling costs (including local taxes, agent fees, etc.) The figure you are left with is your capital gain on the property, and based on your non-property income, you will have to pay up to 30% in federal and state taxes on your capital gains. Let’s see an example of how this formula works.

If you bought a rental property 8 years ago for $200,000 and put 20 percent down with a standard 6% fixed rate 30 year mortgage, your current balance would be $140,435. If you made $10,000 in improvements to the property over the 8 years and sold it for $300,000, with no losses to offset you would be left with capital gains of around $69,000, after paying local taxes, agent fees, etc. Of the capital gains accrued you would have to pay somewhere between $17,000 and $21,000 in taxes, leaving around $120,000 from the sale of the property.

How To Minimize Rental Property Capital Gains Taxes

If you intend to buy a new rental property immediately after selling you can defer paying any capital gains taxes. The 1031 Exchange IRS benefit enables you to defer paying any capital gains taxes if you can identify, in writing, a new rental property within 45 days and complete the purchase of the property within 180 days of selling your previous rental property. To defer paying any capital gains taxes your new rental property should be of at least equal value of your sold property and you must invest all of the proceeds from your rental property sale. The 1031 Exchange defers and does not eliminate the taxes on the sale of your rental property. However, the IRS does not prohibit turning your new rental property into a primary residence in the future. Before taking part in a 1031 Exchange you should consult a tax advisor to ensure eligibility and how it relates to your unique tax situation.