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Buying vs. Renting and Your Taxes

When you’re considering a home purchase, it’s important to understand all the various benefits (and possible downsides) to your decision. A major benefit that comes from ownership is the tax benefits that come with buying. Purchase your home and you’ll be able to take advantage of several tax benefits that renters do not have access to.

4 Tax Benefits From Ownership That You Don’t Get As A Renter

1. You can deduct property taxes.

When you own a home, you’re required to pay property taxes. Paying these taxes – which can vary by city, county and school district – might not sound appealing. But, take comfort knowing you are allowed to deduct those taxes. Owners can deduct the full amount of property taxes they pay. That can amount to thousands of dollars.

A landlord gets the advantage of this benefit…not the tenant.

2. You can deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage.

Hopefully, when you buy your home you’ll have locked in a great interest rate on your mortgage. But even with a low rate, you’ll still be paying a considerable amount of interest each year. Fortunately, you can deduct this interest (up to $1 million, or $500,000 if you are married and filing separately). In fact, for a few years the payments you make on your mortgage will be mostly interest, so your deduction can be significant.

When renting, you don’t have the option of deducting any portion of your rent payments.

3. You can deduct mortgage insurance.

Most people require a mortgage to purchase a home, and many of those people are not able to come up with the full 20% down payment that has been considered standard for so long. Luckily, with mortgage options like an FHA loan, you can buy with a much smaller down payment than 20%. However, if you purchase without a 20% down payment, you may be required to pay for mortgage insurance.

Again, there are tax benefits to this situation. As long as you make less than $100,000 a year, you can deduct the full amount you pay for mortgage insurance.

4. You can deduct discount points.

When you obtain a mortgage, you may be given the opportunity to buy discount points. A single usually costs 1% of the amount of your loan. So if you had a $400,000 loan, a point would cost you $4,000. With each point you buy, you mortgage rate lowers. You can deduct the amount you pay for these points from your taxes.

Bear in mind, discount points are not always a good deal. It depends on your individual circumstances. Don’t simply buy points to get the tax deduction. But if your accountant or financial adviser tells you that it’s worth it, you can buy one or more points and then use the deduction that first year after buying your home.

8 Things that moving companies won’t Tell you

When you hire movers, you are hiring a team that should be there to make your life easier. Moving is not fun and it is hard work, which is why hiring professionals is the obvious way to go if you can afford it. However, you should be cautious as you go about hiring a moving company, because there are some things they will not tell you – things you need to know to look out for your best interest.

8 Things You Should Know About Hiring A Moving Company

1. They can’t do it without you.

You can’t hire a company and then go about your business, expecting them to take care of everything. They need direction about what goes where, and you need to be watching over them to make sure they are taking care of your things.

2. You will lose control of your belongings for a period of time.

Your movers will pack everything on the truck and drive away. Once they are gone, you lose control of your belongings. If you get in a disagreement with the company, they have the ability to hold your things hostage. As a result, you need to be careful about who you hire, and you need to make sure the contract protects you.

3. Weight is the best estimate.

When you have the option of an hourly estimate, cubic feet estimate or a weight estimate, go with weight. And make sure you are there when they do the weighing to verify accuracy.

4. You have very little insurance.

The insurance typically included in your contract with the movers will often cover very little, maybe $0.60 per pound. Many of your things are worth more than that, so it is worthwhile to purchase additional insurance from your homeowner’s policy. The insurance offered by the movers is usually overpriced.

5. Movers often expect a tip.

It may seem weird that after paying thousands for a move, you are still expected to tip. But you are. It is easiest to check with the company about what is expected and add it into your plans.

6. Pay careful attention to your things going on – and off – the truck.

You should document the state of your belongings as they go on the truck, and definitely when they come off the truck. You should have the driver acknowledge any damage with a signature, and do not hesitate to call the company if the driver will not admit damage.

7. Most people move in the summer.

If you want to get the best rate on your move, aim to move in the off-season. Summertime movers will be busiest, and that means fees will be higher.

8. You should get multiple estimates.

Take the time to get an estimate from at least three different companies before you hire someone. Rates can vary significantly. But keep in mind that the quality of service can vary too. Hire based on reputation, reviews, references, etc. – not just on cost.

7 Most common questions from Home Sellers

Unless you are a real estate agent, chances are you are going to have a lot of questions as you try to sell your home. The selling process and the ever-changing real estate market can be confusing, and there is a good chance that some things that you think are true – things you have heard from others – may not be accurate. If you are going to sell your home, it is worthwhile to ask your agent all the questions you have and educate yourself. The more you know, the more empowered you will be.

7 Questions Every Home Seller Has

1. What is the market like right now?

One thing most sellers can acknowledge is that they are not up-to-date on the current market. So of course the first person they turn to is their REALTOR®. Your agent should have a good idea of what is happening with the market because he or she is constantly selling homes. The agent will look at many factors such as average sale price for your area, average days on market, and other factors to give you an accurate answer.

2. Should I tell buyers everything about my house (even the bad stuff)?

As much as it can be hard to do so, the best path is the honest one – both morally and legally. You are required to disclose any issues. Failing to do so could get you in big trouble. That being said, always talk to your REALTOR® first. Issues you might think are major may not be, and many things can be fixed beforehand.

3. What price should I try to sell my home for?

Pricing your home is one of the biggest reasons why you want to hire a good REALTOR®. Price your home too high and you risk failure. Price it too low and you miss out on capitalizing on your investment. If you trust your agent – and you should if you hire him/her – then trust the price they advise. Too many sellers imagine their homes are worth more than they are and run into major issues trying to sell because they price too high.

4. Should I renovate the kitchen, bathroom, floors, etc?

Your REALTOR® can advise you on what renovations and fixes will be to your benefit financially. A lot of sellers pour money into renovations that they never get back. Always talk to your REALTOR® before renovating.

5. Should I wait to sell my home in the summer?

Many sellers have heard that listing in spring or summer is the only sure way to sell a house. While markets can vary on what season is best to sell a home, there are advantages to other seasons as well. Your agent can let you know when the best time to sell is in your market.

6. Can I be there at showings?

You do not want to be there when your home is shown. The REALTOR® is trained to sell, while you may make mistakes that inhibit the sale.

7. Do I really need a REALTOR®?

If you want to sell quickly, for the best price, and with the least amount of hassle to yourself and your family, the answer is YES. You can sell without an agent, but your chances of getting the best possible outcome go down considerably.