Category Archives: Money & Finance

What You Should Know About Proposed Eliminations of the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Currently, the co-chairs of the bipartisan deficit committee have initiated proposals for the 2010 budget. The current budget includes the elimination or reduction of the home mortgage interest deduction. Presently, the goal of the report pertains to improving the countries current fiscal situation over the medium term. Furthermore, it aims to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability.

The original recommendations entailed savings of $208 billion over the next decade. On the other hand, recent revisions made by Democrat Erksine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson propose a zero option plan, which would eliminate tax credits for homeowners and businesses. In their revised draft, they projected cutting the deficit by $3.9 trillion by 2020. In addition, they proposed that by the year 2035 this would reduce the national percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) debt by 40%.

The current proposal indicates how the mortgage interest deduction is a nonessential. It further stipulates how other countries as Australia and Canada do not have it, yet people still buy homes. Furthermore, Simpson and Bowles assert that the mortgage interest deduction is part of tax expenditures considered unfair in draining the treasury. Therefore, they propose the elimination of all tax credits.

In the event that people do not want to accept their recommendations, they proffer a reduction. The aforementioned would include placing a limitation on the current mortgage interest deduction so that it would not exceed more than $500,000. Furthermore, homeowners could no longer apply it to a second home purchase.

Mortgage Interest Deductions Defined

Under Title 26, of U.S.C. § 16 3(c) of the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS), homeowners are entitled to the mortgage interest deduction as long as they adhere to specific guidelines. These guidelines specify that a homeowner must itemize deductions. Additionally, the interest deducted may not surpass one million dollars.

Furthermore, the deductions may only involve the acquisition, construction, or comprehensive home improvement. On the other hand, despite a homeowners intended purpose or use, they may use up to $100,000 of their home equity.

Reasons Congress Should Continue Mortgage Interest Deduction

As illustrated above, the benefits of mortgage interest deductions are many. Ultimately, it provides a way for homeowners to reduce their taxable income in accordance with the interest paid on their home loan. Therefore, it serves as a huge benefit for those who own their own home.

Presently, more than ¾ of all homeowners utilize this deduction throughout their home ownership. Generally, most of the people who need it the most are the middle class. Ultimately, the reduction or elimination of the mortgage interest deduction would eliminate one of the largest buying incentives within the national housing policy.

In the end, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) asserts that removing such a deduction will affect the overall stability of the current economy and housing market. In addition, the tax policy director, Ryan Ellis with the Americans for Tax Reforms contends that any changes with the current mortgage interest deduction will lead to tax increases amounting to over one trillion dollars in 10 years.

Tips For Seniors Considering Selling South Central Vermont Real Estate

To Sell or Not to Sell?

That is a question with which many seniors are wrestling these days. One the one hand, older homeowners are faced with rising maintenance costs, personal physical constraints, a desire to live a more carefree and less complicated lifestyle, a realistic look at future needs, such as being near public transportation and/or quality health care, and living in a “too-large” home. On the other hand, they are reluctant to leave a neighborhood where they are known and respected, move further from friends and family, consider downsizing and parting with treasured items, and undertaking the seemingly overwhelming job of emptying one home and setting up another. In addition, they don’t want to give up the security or the memories tied to their current home.

A knowledgeable and understanding real estate agent who is familiar with the needs and desires of the 55+ set, combined with the services of an attorney who specializes in both real estate and estate planning and an accountant who deals with senior tax implications, can be invaluable to you in looking at all aspects of selling you South Central Vermont real estate and helping you determine what is best for you.

If you do decide to sell, BankRate.com cautions you to first get a written market analysis and a financial evaluation which will help you and your team of advisors address the realities of the market, your investments, and tax objectives.

Selling Your Home

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Cost-saving Tips for Insuring Your South Central Vermont Home

As every South Central Vermont homeowner knows, property insurance is a necessity. The cost of adequate insurance may seem daunting initially, but there are certain steps you can take to reduce your costs to a reasonable level.

1. Shop around for the best value. Check online for quotes from at least three reputable agencies. Be aware that some companies offer a discount of 30% to 40% if you buy online. Other possible discounts can result from insuring both the home and the contents or by insuring your home and your car with the same firm.

Also know the replacement value of your home, taking into consideration any unique features that will be expensive to replace. Keep in mind probable inflation increases at renewal time. Does your insurer automatically adjust your coverage or do you have to request the change?

2. Make periodic updates to your South Central Vermont home or property. Ways to reduce insurance costs include the following:

A) replacing the existing heating system to one which is safer and more cost-efficient.

B) keep plumbing in good working order and protect it from freezing

C) replace fuses. Inspectors are looking for circuit breakers and a safe wiring system

D) install fire detectors or even a central alarm system. Be sure to keep a record of all repairs/replacements and inform your insurance company of each one.

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South Central Vermont Home Buyers Master the Mortgage Maze

A simplified guide for buyers of South Central Vermont home.

To a South Central Vermont home loan shopper, there may seem to be an endless–and confusing–array of mortgage types. Of course you want to choose the option that is best suited to your current and future financial situation, but understanding the terminology, types, and monetary ramifications is not always easy. Mortgages generally fall into four categories (fixed rate, adjustable rate, step, and balloon) according to the interest rate and duration of the loan.

Basic terminology;

Fixed rate–The interest rates do not change during the life of the loan, thus allowing you to know the amount of your payments.

Adjustable rate (ARM)–the interest rate is tied to certain indexes plus a margin and can fluctuate up or down, thus affecting each payment,

Step–the interest rate and monthly payment remain the same for a specified period of time. After that the interest will change to the prevailing rate and will remain there for the duration of the loan.

Balloon–a loan payment that expands after a certain amount of time. Basically it functions similarly to a fixed rate mortgage in the earlier months/years with a delayed steep increase at the end,

The following information, courtesy of Mortgages.Interest.com, outlines the type of mortgage, the loan characteristics, and the situations most appropriate for each one. If,  for instance, you plan to live in your South Central Vermont home more than 10 years and desire stability in payment amounts, then a fixed rate mortgage is for you. If, however, your finances are currently strained, but you know that in 5 to 10 years your monetary situation will improve or that you will most likely move within 10 years, then an ARM or balloon mortgage may be better for you. Being familiar with these options allows you to discuss them intelligently with your real estate agent and/or lender and then select the type which best fits your circumstances.

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Be an Informed Investor When Buying South Central Vermont Real Estate

Because it offers year-round recreation, investing in South Central Vermont real estate can be quite profitable and safe. Such a transaction can also be challenging, especially for first-time investors, and requires prior planning, a time commitment, realistic goals, and careful consideration of the following factors.

1. Selecting a property. First decide on a location and the type of property you are interested in.  You will want to consider proximity to good schools, public services, shopping centers, highways, recreation, etc.

Another decision will deal with the type of property you want to own–a single family residence, a multi-family unit, or a vacation rental home. Discuss with you realtor and tax advisor the pros and cons of each to decide which will be most advantageous for you.

2. Examining your finances. In addition to a monthly mortgage payment, investment property expenses can also include taxes, property management fees, utilities, insurance for fire and floods, repair and maintenance costs, condo fees, and periods of vacancy. Be prepared to have cash on hand for a 20% to 30% down payment (or investigate other options). A helpful tool to assist you in calculating costs and probable financial outcomes is www.GoodMortgage.com.

Also keep in mind that long term (5 to 10 years) ownership is usually best for the average investment. The shorter the length of time you hold the property, the greater the risk.

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A New Year’s Resolution For South Central Vermont Real Estate You Won’t Regret!

Are you tired of the same old promises you make to yourself every January 1st but forget by February? Not this year! Here’s a 2010 resolution that’s so beneficial you simply must keep it: buy South Central Vermont real estate! Now that the Home Buyer Credit Act has been extended and qualifying income levels have been raised, this is an ideal time to purchase a house. Generally advertised as a tax credit for first-time buyers, the new legislation actually benefits many current homeowners, also.

Basic facts:

Changes: Originally slated to end in November 2009, the credit deadline has been extended to April 30, 2010. If you have a binding, signed contract and settle on a South Central Vermont home before July 30, 2010, you are also eligible.

First-time buyers are those who have not owned a home in the last three years. They are eligible for a credit of 10% of the purchase price (not to exceed $800,000), up to $8000. Ownership of a vacation home or rental property not used as a prime residence does not disqualify a buyer as a first-timer.

Repeat buyers, or those who have owned and lived in a principal residence for at least 5 consecutive years of the last 8, may qualify for a credit of up to $6500.

Income levels have been increased to $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for couples.

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Expanded Tax Credit for South Central Vermont Home Buyers

The $8000 first-time home buyer tax credit was scheduled to expire in just a few short weeks…Nov 30, 2009. I say ‘was’, because the Senate voted unanimously to extend the credit on Monday and the House of Representatives approved the extension yesterday afternoon by a vote of 403-12. The extension includes an expanded tax credit to repeat home buyers. The bill now goes to the President for his signature which is expected to happen today. 

Home Buyer Tax Credit Expansion and Extension  

  • The $8,000 tax credit will be extended and available for first-time home buyers through May 1, 2010.
  • A new $6,500 tax credit will be available for repeat buyers who purchase between December 1, 2009, and May 1, 2010. To qualify, buyers must have used the home sold or being sold as a principal residence consecutively for 5 of the previous 8 years.
  • Prospective buyers with binding contracts in place as of April 30, 2010, will be allowed an additional 60 days to complete the transaction.
  • Income limits are expanded to $125,000 on a single return and $225,000 on a joint return.
  • Limitation on the cost of a purchased home is $800,000. 

If you know anyone looking to buy their first South Central Vermont home at a time when prices and interest rates are still down, or if you are thinking of buying another home and getting the new $6,500 credit please contact me today.

Search all South Central Vermont homes for sale.

Will You Owe Capital Gains When Selling Your South Central Vermont Home

Something to consider when selling your home is the Capital Gains ramifications. Will you owe Uncle Sam money after the sale of your South Central Vermont home? Capital Gains are calculated as the difference between what you paid for your property and what you sell it for. Here is how you calculate your Capital Gains. 

Calculating Capital Gains

(+) PURCHASE PRICE – Price paid for property

(+) COST OF PURCHASE – Transfer fees, attorney fees, inspections

(+) COST OF SALE – Repairs, commissions, attorney fees, inspections

(+) COST OF IMPROVEMENT – Room additions, deck, for example, though not replacing existing

(=) ADJUSTED COST BASIS OF YOUR HOME

(-) AMOUNT YOU SELL YOUR HOME

(=) CAPITAL GAIN 

A Special Real Estate Exemption for Capital Gains

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Don’t Let Credit Score Myths Get In The Way When Buying A South Central Vermont Home

The most important piece of a person’s financial life is their credit score. Whether buying a new South Central Vermont home, applying for a job, refinancing, paying off debt, or getting utility service, your credit score will drive the outcome. One would think that Americans are all aware of what the scores are measuring and what factors play a part. But, most Americans do not know enough about the three digit rating or what is involved. Do not let these credit score myths get in your way when preparing for the purchase of your next South Central Vermont home.

credit scoreMyth: Checking a credit report can either damage or lower your score.
A credit report can be conducted by you or someone like an employer as many times as desired with out having any impact on your credit score. Reviewing your credit report will never change your credit score. Just make sure that reports are retrieved through the bureaus or a legitimate score seller.

Myth: Age, sex, and income are factors that affect your score.
None of this information plays a role in determining your score. A higher income may make it easier to pay off debts, but income and net worth have no impact of credit scores.   

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Tax Benefits of Owning a South Central Vermont Home

New tax code changes create benefits for owners of a South Central Vermont home. For years, many people have usually turned away from considering taking on the financial responsibilities of being a homeowner. Renters and prospective home owners are well aware of all the financial stress that comes with owning a home, which makes them hesitant to make the big step and commitment. What might not be known is that homeowners are receiving more tax benefits now than ever before. The Internal Revenue Services, known as the IRS, has made owning a South Central Vermont home a more favorable option in several ways. 

tax creditMonthly house payments bring the biggest tax benefit to home owners. The interest included in the monthly mortgage payments is tax deductible as long as the loan is for less than a million dollars. IRS guidelines also allow deductions for interest on refinancing and home equity loans. However, they do put limits on how much is actually allowed to be deducted. Borrowing against the equity of your South Central Vermont home is an option renters do not have. Renters also do not have the ability to file federal tax deductions on their monthly rental payments. 

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