Friday, March 16, 2018
Your clients may be able to decrease utility costs with just a few energy upgrades and tweaks. “There are so many small changes people can make to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, and it all adds up to significantly lower energy bills and a smaller environmental footprint,” says Christina Kielich of the U.S. Department of Energy. Kielich and home energy auditor Erlend Kimmich offered the following tips on Curbed.com about how to cut energy costs in a home, including:
Replace lightbulbs. The typical American household spends 5 to 10 percent of its energy budget on lighting alone, according to the DOE. Replace incandescent lightbulbs with LEDs, which on average are 85 percent more energy-efficient. You can shave $100 a year on your energy costs by making the switch.
Unplug. Leaving cellphones, TVs, computers, and other electronic devices plugged in can continue to pull power from the grid. That can add up over time. Unplug devices or plug your electronics into power strips that you can easily turn off whenever they’re not being used.
Use an automatic thermostat. Save up to 10 percent on your annual heating and cooling costs by just dropping the thermostat 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit from its normal setting for eight hours a day. An automatic thermostat, which can be purchased for just $18, can help to more easily adjust the thermostat during the day and cut energy use, too.
Seal your attic and basement. For a more substantial investment, seal and insulate the attic and basement—basically the top and bottom of your home, says Kimmich. “Especially if the house was built before World War II, that’s where you tend to find the most leakage,” Kimmich adds. “Think of your home’s air sealing and insulation like a windbreaker worn over a sweater. If there’s a rip or you leave the windbreaker unbuttoned, it can’t really help. So we fix the sweater by making the insulation more substantial and we improve that air seal anywhere the indoor space is connected to the outdoor space.”
Get more tips from Curbed.com and view the DOE’s instructions for DIY jobs like sealing air leaks with caulk, which could potentially offer energy savings of 10 percent to 20 percent.
Source: “How to Make Your Home Energy Efficient,” Curbed.com (Feb. 23, 2018)
4 Tax Deductions for Sellers
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2018
Some tax deductions for home sellers may amount to potentially big savings. As such, homeowners who are selling their home soon or sold it last year will want to educate themselves on the tax deductions available. Realtor.com® recently highlighted some, including:
Selling costs: “You can deduct any costs associated with selling the home—including legal fees, escrow fees, advertising costs, and real estate agent commissions,” says Joshua Zimmelman, president of Westwood Tax and Consulting in Rockville Center, NY.
Home improvements and repairs: Some renovations done to make a home more marketable for resale may be eligible for a tax break. “If you needed to make home improvements in order to sell your home, you can deduct those expenses as selling costs as long as they were made within 90 days of the closing,” says Zimmelman.
Property taxes: You can deduct the amount you paid in property taxes for the time you owned the home. This has been capped at $10,000 in total deductions, starting in 2018, however.
Mortgage interest: You can deduct the interest on your mortgage for the amount of time you owned the home. Starting in 2018, new homeowners and sellers can deduct the interest on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt. Homeowners who had a mortgage prior to Dec. 15, 2017, can continue to deduct up to $1 million under the old law, Zimmelman says.
And don’t forget a tax exclusion still available to home sellers on capital gains. Capital gains are your profits from selling a home. Those profits are taxed as income, but you can exclude up to $250,000 of the capital gains from the sale if you’re single and up to $500,000 if filing as a married couple. To be eligible, you must have lived in your home at least two of the past five years.
Source: “5 Sweet Tax Deductions When Selling a Home: Did You Take Them All?” realtor.com® (March 8, 2018)
Monday, March 12, 2018
Getting Ready to Sell that Home Sweet Home
When You Can’t Get It All Done
Most Markets Near Peak; No Signs of Bubble
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2018
Home prices in most U.S. housing markets are reaching their peak, but there’s no need to fear a repeat housing bust, according to a new joint analysis by Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University. Throughout the majority of the country, home prices have been rising steadily since 2012, and there are signs the runup may be starting to slow.
“Housing markets are slowing, suggesting that we are nearing a peak in housing markets around the U.S.,” says Ken Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University. “But this is good news, as we are pulling back from the brink, unlike we did in 2007.”
Researchers at the universities created the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index, which shows that out of 23 metros areas studied, 13 are slightly to moderately in “buy” territory. That means owning a home is more favorable than renting for the majority of residents in that area. On the other hand, 10 metro areas were slightly to moderately in “rent” territory.
“Our data indicates that prices are above their 40-year trend but not significantly so, as they were in 2007,” says Eli Beracha, co-creator of the index and associate professor in the Hollo School of Real Estate at FIU. “Rather than a crash, I anticipate slower growth in prices accompanied by longer marketing times for sellers and increasing inventories, which should bring prices back in conjunction with their 40-year trend.”
3 Smart Strategies for Investors
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2018
Investors can see big returns on real estate, but the most successful tend to have a strong understanding of how to evaluate their options before purchasing. Forbes.com recently highlighted some winning strategies for profitable real estate investing:
- Focus on potential income, not personal like and dislikes. Purchasing an investment property is different than buying residential real estate. Investments need to center on the numbers—the combination of the purchase price, estimated renovation costs, expected rental income, and market conditions that can support a purchase decision.
- Don’t buy on future appreciation. You can’t trust that rents and home values in your area will always increase over time. Buy based on current returns, not what you think the future may hold, according to Forbes.com. The best deals are those that can make you money from day one—and where long-term appreciation just happens to be an added bonus.
- Set aside extra funds. Several smaller ongoing operating expenses will be inevitable. Investors will want to budget for those, as well as possible bigger items, such as a new roof or HVAC unit. These projects can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Set money aside on a regular basis to cover these expenses as they arise. Also, investors will want to put aside extra money in case there are any vacancies in their rentals.
Source: “Seven Secrets to Successful Single-Family Rental Real Estate Investing,” Forbes.com (Feb. 26, 2018)
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