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A seller may be able to boost the value of their home by an additional 12 percent, with just a few smart pre-listing repairs, according to a new survey of 300 residential real estate professionals by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. On a median, single-family home priced at $205,000, that could be a potential gain of $24,600.
“You don’t have to spend a ton of money to increase the value of your home,” says Dan DiClerico, senior editor for Consumer Reports. “Some simple, inexpensive fixes throughout the house can make it more appealing to potential buyers.”
Here are some of the fixes that the Consumer Reports survey of real estate professionals uncovered as being the most important:
Cost range: $0 (do-it-yourself) to $2,500 (pro)
Potential return: 3% to 5%
Clear away any clutter and depersonalize the space as much as possible.
2. Makeover the kitchen
Cost range: $300 to $5,000
Potential return: 3% to 7%
The kitchen was rated as the most important room to have in top shape before selling, according to the survey. Real estate professionals recommend focusing on minor repairs that center on the function of the kitchen first, such as repairing leaky faucets, loose light fixtures, or blemishes on the countertop. Then, they recommend small enhancements, such as painting the walls, updating the cabinet hardware, adding new curtains, or light fixtures.
3. Freshen up the bathroom
Cost range: $300 to $1,000
Potential return: 2% to 3%
Make simple improvements, such as caulking the tub or re-grouting the floor or adding new bathroom fixtures to brighten up the space. Updating the mirror and lighting also can have a big impact, the real estate professionals surveyed said.
Cost range: $100 (do-it-yourself) to $1,000 (pro)
Potential return: 1% to 3%
Sixteen percent of the real estate professionals surveyed said that interior painting is an important part in bringing about a sale of a home. But the seller likely doesn’t need the entire house repainted, but maybe just a redo of one or two rooms to curb costs. The two prime candidates for being repainted: Kitchens and bathrooms. Paint in whites and off-whites and a neutral palette – such as grays and beiges — help buyers focus on the home’s features more than be distracted by bright colors, agents note.
5. Exterior touch ups
Cost range: $150 to $7,500
Potential return: 2% to 5%
Agents recommend that their clients concentrate on basic maintenance first, such as to mowing the lawn, trimming overgrown shrubs, and applying a fresh layer of mulch to the garden beds. They also recommend making any minor repairs, such as replacing cracked siding boards or repointing brick walls. The real estate professionals also recommended taking careful note of any repairs needed with the roof: 31 percent of agents surveyed said the roof is one of the most important parts of the home to have in good shape.
The latest Cost vs. Value Report, produced by Remodeling Magazine in conjunction with REALTOR® Magazine, uncovered some of the top home remodeling projects that offer some of the largest returns at resale. Many of the biggest payback projects had to do with enhancing the exterior of the home.
The following are the top five projects nationally in terms of cost recouped, according to the Cost vs. Value report:
1. Entry door replacement (101.8%)
2. Manufactured stone veneer (92.2%)
3. Garage door replacement (88.5%)
4. Siding replacement, fiber cement (84.3%)
5. Garage door replacement (82.5%)
Take advantage of these homeownership-related tax deductions and strategies to lower your tax bill:
Mortgage Interest Deduction
One of the neatest deductions itemizing homeowners can take advantage of is the mortgage interest deduction, which you claim on Schedule A. To get the mortgage interest deduction, your mortgage must be secured by your home — and your home can be a house, trailer, or boat, as long as you can sleep in it, cook in it, and it has a toilet.
Interest you pay on a mortgage of up to $1 million — or $500,000 if you’re married filing separately — is deductible when you use the loan to buy, build, or improve your home.
If you take on another mortgage (including a second mortgage, home equity loan, or home equity line of credit) to improve your home or to buy or build a second home, that counts towards the $1 million limit.
If you use loans secured by your home for other things — like sending your kid to college — you can still deduct the interest on loans up $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately) because your home secures the loan.
PMI and FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums
You can deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance (PMI) as mortgage interest on Schedule A if you itemize your return. The change only applies to loans taken out in 2007 or later.
By the way, the 2014 tax season is the last for which you can claim this deduction unless Congress renews it for 2015, which may happen, but is uncertain.
What’s PMI? If you have a mortgage but didn’t put down a fairly good-sized downpayment (usually 20%), the lender requires the mortgage be insured. The premium on that insurance can be deducted, so long as your income is less than $100,000 (or $50,000 for married filing separately).
If your adjusted gross income is more than $100,000, your deduction is reduced by 10% for each $1,000 ($500 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return) that your adjusted gross income exceeds $100,000 ($50,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return). So, if you make $110,000 or more, you can’t claim the deduction (10% x 10 = 100%).
Besides private mortgage insurance, there’s government insurance from FHA, VA, and the Rural Housing Service. Some of those premiums are paid at closing, and deducting them is complicated. A tax adviser or tax software program can help you calculate this deduction. Also, the rules vary between the agencies.
Prepaid Interest Deduction
Prepaid interest (or points) you paid when you took out your mortgage is generally 100% deductible in the year you paid it along with other mortgage interest.
If you refinance your mortgage and use that money for home improvements, any points you pay are also deductible in the same year.
But if you refinance to get a better rate or shorten the length of your mortgage, or to use the money for something other than home improvements, such as college tuition, you’ll need to deduct the points over the life of your mortgage. Say you refi into a 10-year mortgage and pay $3,000 in points. You can deduct $300 per year for 10 years.
So what happens if you refi again down the road?
Example: Three years after your first refi, you refinance again. Using the $3,000 in points scenario above, you’ll have deducted $900 ($300 x 3 years) so far. That leaves $2,400, which you can deduct in full the year you complete your second refi. If you paid points for the new loan, the process starts again; you can deduct the points over the life of the loan.
Home mortgage interest and points are reported on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040.
Your lender will send you a Form 1098 that lists the points you paid. If not, you should be able to find the amount listed on the HUD-1 settlement sheet you got when you closed the purchase of your home or your refinance closing.
Property Tax Deduction
You can deduct on Schedule A the real estate property taxes you pay. If you have a mortgage with an escrow account, the amount of real estate property taxes you paid shows up on your annual escrow statement.
If you bought a house this year, check your HUD-1 settlement statement to see if you paid any property taxes when you closed the purchase of your house. Those taxes are deductible on Schedule A, too.
If you made your home more energy efficient in 2014, you might qualify for the residential energy tax credit.
Tax credits are especially valuable because they let you offset what you owe the IRS dollar for dollar for up to 10% of the amount you spent on certain home energy-efficiency upgrades.
The credit carries a lifetime cap of $500 (less for some products), so if you’ve used it in years past, you’ll have to subtract prior tax credits from that $500 limit. Lucky for you, there’s no cap on how much you’ll save on utility bills thanks to your energy-efficiency upgrades.
Among the upgrades that might qualify for the credit:
To claim the credit, file IRS Form 5695 with your return.
Vacation Home Tax Deductions
The rules on tax deductions for vacation homes are complicated. Do yourself a favor and keep good records about how and when you use your vacation home.
- If you’re the only one using your vacation home (you don’t rent it out for more than 14 days a year), you deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes on Schedule A.
- Rent your vacation home out for more than 14 days and use it yourself fewer than 15 days (or 10% of total rental days, whichever is greater), and it’s treated like a rental property. Your expenses are deducted on Schedule E.
- Rent your home for part of the year and use it yourself for more than the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days you rent it and you have to keep track of income, expenses, and allocate them based on how often you used and how often you rented the house.
Homebuyer Tax Credit
This isn’t a deduction, but it’s important to keep track of if you claimed it in 2008.
There were federal first-time homebuyer tax credits in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
If you claimed the homebuyer tax credit for a purchase made after April 8, 2008, and before Jan. 1, 2009, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years, with no interest.
The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe each year until it’s paid off. Or if the home stops being your main home, you may need to add the remaining unpaid credit amount to your income tax on your next tax return.
Generally, you don’t have to pay back the credit if you bought your home in 2009, 2010, or early 2011. The exception: You have to repay the full credit amount if you sold your house or stopped using it as primary residence within 36 months of the purchase date. Then you must repay it with your tax return for the year the home stopped being your principal residence.
The repayment rules are less rigorous for uniformed service members, Foreign Service workers, and intelligence community workers who got sent on extended duty at least 50 miles from their principal residence.
Related: A Homeowner’s Guide to Taxes
This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice; tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.
Finding it difficult saving money for a down payment on your dream home? Well you aren’t the only one. Here is a great article by Forbes that will help you change your ways of saving money for your future home.
‘Why do we have such difficulty sticking to a long-term savings plan when we consider our future goals just as important as — if not more than — present goals? We generally like to think that humans are highly rational creatures, but the fact of the matter is: most of our decisions are determined by years of neural conditioning, rationality being only a small piece of the puzzle.
The rational side of the brain that communicates the need to save now for a future benefit is often drowned out by the emotional side of our brain. Swiping a card for a new laptop instead of saving that money for our down payment feels natural because the rational brain we assume is acting in our favor is also justifying a financial decision that doesn’t align with our long-term strategy.
So with our brain working to persuade us it’s OK to spend when we should be saving, how can we outsmart our own (very persuasive) selves in order to save?
Make it hard to spend
It’s time to make it really tough to access your savings account for impulse buys. For example, instead of keeping your savings in your easy-to-access checking account, keep these savings in a separate account or a brick-and-mortar. When we’re tasked with an inconvenient action to get a reward, we’re less likely to complete the initial process.
Automate your savings
One way to avoid the pain point of saving is to allow automation to take the task out of your hands (and out of your mind). Automating your savings is an incredibly easy way to divert your cash toward a goal without much thought on your end. Because it removes the rationalization whether to save or not, it also removes the emotional act of negotiating with your own mind.
Create specific goals and set reminders
Studies suggest that we tend to overlook our long-term goals in favor of immediate gain. To stay in tune with your long-term goals, set and showcase reminders that force you to acknowledge your long-term goal regularly. Some people connect with visuals (like posting a picture of a dream home in a highly visible area), others connect more with the numbers side of saving (like creating a clear savings timeline with specific, number-based savings goals). Depending on your personal approach, use these reminders to keep you on track.
Match impulse buys with an equal amount into your savings
Even if we’re not in a retail environment, our computers and our phones make spending an ever-present option. Inundated by these opportunities to spend, skew the act of spending to your favor. So you want to buy those new boots? Match that spending with an equal contribution to your down payment.
Sometimes the pain of doubling a cost is enough to deter a purchase. In the case you still choose to spend, the matched contribution ensures you’re at the very least taking measures to save.
Put away any unexpected savings
Consumers often excuse an unbudgeted expense with “But it was on sale!” To piggyback a good habit onto any impulse purchase, take the sum that was discounted and add it to your down payment savings account.
Use herd mentality to your advantage
While we’re most familiar with financial pressure in the form of “keeping up with the Joneses,” social pressure can also be used to our advantage. When social expectations are incorporated into a task, we’re more likely to feel compelled to complete it or to showcase our progress toward it.
This herd mentality can be applied to both positive and negative habits. If you’re comfortable chatting money with friends or family, use accountability from your acquaintances to encourage your saving habits. Changing your social environment to support saving strategies over spending habits provides the social pressure to choose saving over spending.
Maintain your spending status quo — even if your earnings increase
Lifestyle inflation is real and often tough to reverse once implemented. Maintaining the status quo for your spending will maintain a spending expectation. Instead of considering a financial windfall “extra,” consider it another piece of paper to add to the down payment pile.’
Located in Westerville
Cul-de-sac lot, features 3 beds, 1.5 baths, 2 car garage
Large deep lot and lots of updated features!
This one wont last long…contact us for more info!
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For renters planning to buy a home, preliminary steps like creating a budget and saving for a down payment are obvious. Here are five more advanced steps toward moving out of your rental and into a dream home of your own.
Understand the full cost of homeownership
As a renter, a single rental fee covers your monthly housing payment. But as a homeowner, four main factors go into your monthly housing payment: principal, interest, taxes and insurance (P.I.T.I.). Understanding these costs will help you determine how much house you can afford.
Together, principal and interest comprise your monthly mortgage payment, with the principal paying down your loan balance each month, and the interest paying your fee for borrowing the money. Use a mortgage calculator to determine how much of your payment goes toward principal versus interest each month.
Taxes refer to property taxes, which are assessed by the county you live in. They average 1.2 percent of your home’s value each year.
Insurance — paid to a homeowner’s insurance company of your choice — is required when you have a mortgage. Lenders require that your insurance cover the cost of rebuilding the home if it is ruined by fire or other disaster. This “replacement cost” is determined by your insurer, and must be agreed to by your lender. Insurance will typically cost $700 to $1,200 per year for a single family home.
For condo owners, there’s a fifth monthly cost category: homeowners association (HOA) dues. These fees cover common area amenities, landscaping, ongoing upkeep and reserves for future maintenance like roof replacement or exterior painting. These monthly dues range from $100 for cheaper condos to $1,000 or more for luxury condos.
Single family home buyers can take a useful cue from HOA budgets, which generally require that at least 10 percent of dues go toward reserves. Even if you’re not buying a condo, it’s a good idea to set up a similar savings plan for future maintenance like replacing a roof or major appliances.
Know your homeowner tax benefits
Mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible when you file your annual tax returns, and reduce taxable income.
These deductions significantly lower your cost of homeownership. For example, for a $300,000 home with 20 percent down and a 30-year fixed mortgage at 4 percent, monthly P.I.T.I. is about $1,545. Tax deductions reduce this total housing cost to about $1,215.
Study rent-vs.-buy math
Often, people judge the cost of renting vs. buying by comparing P.I.T.I. to a rental payment. But to get an apples-to-apples comparison, you actually have to look at after-tax-benefit homeownership costs and rent costs.
Using the example above of a $300,000 home that costs $1,215 per month after taxes, you could compare this residence to a home that rents for about $1,200. If the $300,000 home was more spacious or in a more desirable area, the math would seem to favor buying — but don’t forget this example requires a $60,000 down payment.
Identify mortgages that fit your budget and timeline
If you don’t have 20 percent to put down, you can still get a mortgage with as little as 3 percent down. However, if your down payment is less than 20 percent, you’ll have to pay mortgage insurance, which is about .85 percent of your loan amount, and isn’t tax deductible.
Your monthly P.I.T.I. (which includes mortgage insurance) is about $1,995 on a $300,000 home with 3 percent down and a 30-year fixed mortgage at 4 percent. After tax deductions, this total housing cost drops to about $1,614. And you’d only need $9,000 for the down payment.
You can also lower your rate and P.I.T.I. with a shorter-term loan like a 5-year ARM, but rates on these loans will adjust in 5 years, so you risk having a much higher payment if you plan to stay in the home longer than that.
Start preparing your credit score now
Credit scores are critical for getting the best mortgages with the lowest rates. Lenders want reliable on-time payment history as well as credit depth.
More credit accounts are better, so renters with only one credit card should consider obtaining more credit. Just note that your credit score can drop 5 to 15 points when you first open a new account, then will come back up when you’ve established a good payment history.