Homeowner Tax Deductions

Homeowner Tax DeductionsAbout this time every year we are reminded that taxes are coming due.  We recently received most of our W2’s, 1099’s, etc…now it is time to either send it all to the accountant or do it ourselves.  Of course, the CPA’s are typically well versed in deductions and most of the software to do it ourselves is programmed to find deductions.  However, just as a reminder lets take a look at some of the important homeowner tax deductions not to miss.

Mortgage Interest – This is almost a can’t miss for most homeowners.  It may likely be your biggest deduction when it comes to your home.  You may be able to deduct all the interest if you are married and filing jointly if you have a mortgage up to $1 million!

Points – If you purchased a home you can deduct the points, if you paid any, in acquiring the mortgage.  If you refinanced, you can deduct them as well, only not all at once but rather over the life of the loan.

Property Taxes – If you paid property taxes then that amount can be fully deductible.  Most people may have taxes paid out from the mortgage company which collects towards paying each month.  Make sure the taxes were fully paid from that account before deducting.

Moving Costs – If you moved due to a new job then as long as you meet some criteria such as the new job being at least 50 miles further away from the old home than the old job was, then many of the costs in the move may be deducted.

Selling Costs – If you sold your home then you may have deductions.  If you had a taxable gain, then many of the selling costs, including broker fees, may be deducted.

There may be many homeowner tax deductions not mentioned here.  Many of these points can be found at  the IRS website where you can search the publications for further details.  Remember that owning a home has many benefits and some of those are the tax benefits!  If you would like help with your next move, please get in touch and I would be happy to help.  You can begin that search by clicking the button below.

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The following article provides general information and is not to be construed as specific tax advice.  You should seek tax advice from a qualified tax professional as this information may not pertain to your specific situation.

Home Maintenance Tips for Winter

Home in WinterWe are in the new year now  and definitely in winter because it’s cold outside!  For many parts of the country, very cold.  So with all that cold, we need to remember to take care of our homes to avoid damage and loss of heat while we try to stay warm. Here is a quick list of some home maintenance tips for winter that may help you or maybe just remind you to check on.  I’ve written about winter home maintenance tips in the past (linked to an older post on the topic) but we’ve had a few bouts of extreme temperatures that I thought I would update it.

Roof and gutters – The first of the home maintenance tips for winter begins outside and is very important.  When there is snow on the roof, that may be the best time to take a look around and make sure there is no ice dams forming in areas there with some overhang and shade.  Once the ice builds up and stays, it has the potential to cause some real damage to the roof and gutters.  If you notice areas like this on your roof, try to keep them clear in the future if possible to allow melting and draining.  There are several reasons why ice dams form and  many ways to handle them.  In some cases, you may need a pro to help.   Also, walk around and take a look at the gutters.  Are there areas that don’t flow, or maybe leak or overflow causing a frozen surface to slip on below?  When the weather permits, have them evaluated and repaired.

Sprinkler systems and hoses – The second of the home maintenance tips for winter is pretty obvious but can get missed.  This is something that you probably took care of in the fall, but in case you didn’t, make sure you do now. Drain out the sprinkler system of all the water and if you can, cover and wrap the exterior pipes to help prevent freezing.  I see a lot of hoses still attached to the spigot, or hose bib, all winter long.  This can definitely lead to freezing and cracking of those pipes.  Just disconnect the hose and with most of the spigots nowadays that is all you really need to do.  You don’t need any problems or costly repairs for a simple fix!

 Shovel – Gas/Oil mix – Ice Melt – Another of the home maintenance tips for winter that seem obvious but often forgotten is simply having the equipment on hand to tackle the snow and ice.  Many first time homeowners may not even be thinking of these things because they just haven’t needed to before.  First, have a snow shovel.  I would recommend a strong plastic one without metal.  This way, you can handle the walks but you won’t gauge up your deck if you’re out shoveling it!  If you have a snowblower, make sure you have the oil mix for the gas to run the machine.  Also, in case you do have some leaky gutters, you’ll want some ice melt to keep from slipping outside the door.

Caulking/Seals – This almost goes without saying.  Make sure to caulk around windows and door frames when the weather permits so you don’t lose valuable heat.  Of course, this helps in the summer too.  Drafts and air leaks are a major factor in energy consumption.

Furnace- Inside this winter feels so toasty and warm…ah but don’t forget the work horse that provides all that heat. Make sure to change the filters monthly and it would be a good idea to have a furnace service performed by a professional if you haven’t for awhile.  With the home all closed up it is important to know there are no gas leaks or carbon monoxide leaks.  

Fireplace – If you have a fireplace in your home, it can be a great source of heat and of course, wonderful ambiance in the home.  But the fireplace can be dangerous if it isn’t working properly.  If you have a gas fireplace, have it serviced every few years to make sure it is burning right, not gas leaks and safe.  If you have a wood burning fireplace, make sure the flue or chimney are clear and working fine.  Again, a professional can take care of this to make sure al is well for you this winter.

Garage Fridge – Ok, this is one of those bonus home maintenance tips for winter that I’m going to give you.  If you have a fridge out in the garage, like I do, and it isn’t specifically made for outdoors, like mine, then when it gets really, really cold out there you may want to check it.  Often the temperature in the garage can get much colder than the fridge is built for and the food inside can start to warm up and melt.  I know that I have had my garage fridge do this a few times when it gets that cold.  Of course, a good solution for those frozen foods is to just take them out and have them stay frozen outside!   😀

I hope some of these simple tips can help you stay mindful of the little things that can help prevent bigger problems for you at home this winter.  As always, if you need help with your next move please get in touch.

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Moving in the Winter? Denver Real Estate Tips

Denver Winter Living

We’ve had our first real snow of the season now this week and while I thought it would warm up today, that hasn’t been the case.  If you are thinking ofHighlands Ranch Redstone Parkputting your home on the market, here are some tips from past posts that will help you sell you Denver real estate and protect your home in the winter months.

Showing Your Home in Bad Weather – Weather you live in Highlands Ranch, Denver, Lone Tree – wherever, this week was the first in the Denver area where you has to make considerations on showing your home in bad weather.

Preparing Your Denver Home For Winter – It isn’t too late for some winter prep for your home and yard

Freezing Pipes Prevention & What to do When it Happens – This is not a fun one. This weeks cold shouldn’t be bad enough to cause this, but you want to read this before it gets any colder.

Denver Relocation Information – Winter Weather – Many of my Denver relocation clients ask me about typical Denver weather in the winter.

What other tips do you have for selling Denver real estate in the winter?

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What Are Typical Closing Costs When Selling A Home

printout of typical Closing Costs When Selling A HomeOne of the things that I often get questions about is closing costs when selling your home. I have this come up often when working with sellers in the real estate market.  We get together, go over list pricing, marketing and prepare to go on the market.  Of course, getting to that point we need to figure out an estimated net proceeds so the homeowner can have a sense of what they will walk away with financially.  For many homeowners, it may be the very first time they have ever sold and for others, they have sold several homes but just don’t know all the costs associated.  Let’s face it, unless you are in the real estate business this is probably not an experience you have all that often. So, what are typical closing costs when selling a home? (These are common costs associated with selling a home in Colorado.)

  • Professional Fee – This is the commission and any other transactional fee that the seller has agreed to pay a real estate broker to sell the home. Pretty easy to understand and usually anticipated.
  • Title Insurance – This cost is based on the sales price of the home and  is paid for by the seller.  Basically, it is an insurance policy for the benefit of the buyer to enjoy the home free and clear of encumbrances not caused by the buyer.  This can be somewhat expensive depending on the price of the home and is often not a cost the seller was anticipating.
  • Taxes – In Colorado, taxes are paid in arrears.  Meaning, last year’s taxes are due this year.  So, depending on when you close, that may be most of the annual taxes or very little.  Also, the current year’s taxes will be prorated to the day of closing and given to the buyer as a credit at closing since those taxes will be due next year.
  • Escrows – These are some other typical closing costs when selling a home that are often overlooked.  Water/Sewer escrow.  Since the water utility can place a lien on the home if the bill is unpaid, the title company performing the closing will generally collect and escrow 2 or 3 times the average water bill in order to pay the final reading.  That reading is done the day of close and sent to the title company which uses that escrow money to pay the bill.  This way, they can assure it is paid, and the home they are insuring does not get a lien for non payment.  Of course, the balance of the escrow that wasn’t used to pay that bill is returned to the seller at their new mailing address.
  • Loan Payoff –  Yes, you do need to pay off that loan, or loans if that is the case!  Naturally, most homeowners expect this cost and reduce for it.  The small problem I see most often with this is the interest.  If you go online or on the phone and get a balance for the loan, this can be where folks get surprised when the actual figures for closing are computed.  Remember taxes being paid in arrears?  Well, mortgage interest usually is as well.  So when the title company gets a payoff from the mortgage company, they include the interest that is in arrears and add that to the balance of the payoff.  The mortgage company doesn’t forget the interest unfortunately. This can be a big surprise to many, depending on the loan amounts and interest charges.
  • Courier Fee – Since we are talking about this loan interest, the title company needs to overnight the closing package to the lender so they can receive payment and stop charging interest per diem, which they do until they get their money.
  • Release and Other Miscellaneous Fees – Most counties will have some small fee for releasing the deed out of the seller’s name.  There may be more if there is a line of credit of second deed recorded against the property.  There may also be some HOA transfer fees associated with closing if the home has a homeowner’s association.  These costs are generally negotiated in the contract and in some areas, can be pricey. There is also a real estate closing fee charged by the title company to perform the closing and the cost is also negotiated in the contract and often shared equally between buyer and seller.

There you have it.  A list of typical closing costs when selling a home.  This is not a complete list as every transaction may have other costs associated with it, but this will be pretty close to what you can expect.  Hopefully, it can help you anticipate a bit closer the real cost involved when selling your home.  If you would like, you can read more about a real estate closing in part of my Real Estate Transaction Series.  If you are considering selling your home, I would love the opportunity to meet, go over my strategies, breakdown you individual closing costs and help you move forward with your plan.  Please get in touch, I’m here to help.

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Highlands Ranch Fall Tree Recycling Event

Highlands Ranch Tree in FallFall is an excellent time to trim trees and shrubs in your landscape here in Highlands Ranch!  But once you do a bit of cleanup, what do you do with all those branches and limbs? Rather than putting these items out with your trash,  why not recycle them? The Highlands Ranch Metro District invites residents to recycle discarded tree branches and other woody plant materials at its Highlands Ranch fall tree recycling event Saturday, Nov. 9.

Tree limbs less than 12 inches in diameter and woody plant materials will be accepted at the recycling event. Please keep in mind, the following items will not be accepted: finished lumber, non-woody material, grass clippings, sod and root balls.  You may need to put these items out with the trash! All discarded material will be chipped into mulch and given away free to homeowners or reused in parks and parkways in the community.  This can be a great way to spruce up your yard and then help out the environment while beautifying the community at the same time.

The Highlands Ranch fall tree recycling event will take place Nov. 9 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the parking lot at Shea Stadium at Redstone Park, 3280 Redstone Park Cir., Highlands Ranch.

If you have questions about winter tree care, a great resource is the Metro District’s website Forestry page. An article written by a Metro District forestry technician details three practices suited for the winter months, mulching, structure pruning and transplanting. The website provides additional articles that give tree care tips and information for the year-round care of landscape.

In addition to the Highlands Ranch fall recycling event, the Metro District offers Christmas tree recycling from late December through mid-January. Highlands Ranch does so much to provide service and support to the community, no wonder it is such an awesome place to live!  I have lived and worked in Highlands Ranch for 20 years now.  If you may be considering buying or selling a home in the south Denver suburbs, let me help.  I’ve made it my home and an important part of my business and know it well.  Just get in touch.   

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Home Improvements That Can Quickly Add Value To Your Home

Home ImprovementsThe Denver area real estate market needs more inventory.  That could include your home if you’ve been considering a sale for awhile. Maybe you have been concerned with updating  the home but really don’t want to get involved in a major remodel.  Well, maybe you don’t have to.  Here are some home improvements that can quickly add value to your home!

Paint – This is the quickest and most dramatic way to freshen up the appearance of a home.  Depending on the extent of painting needed, this may or may not be too expensive, but this home improvement will certainly give the home a clean, move in ready feel in most cases add immediate value to your home. If you want to add color, getting a professional color consult can be a very affordable way to complement your home.  Hint: If painting just isn’t your thing, hire a professional.  A sloppy paint job can be pretty obvious and may even detract from the home’s appearance.

Lighting – Still have the original lighting in your home from the 90’s or even later?  It’s time to update, and a quick trip to the local home improvement or lighting store can make a world of difference. Modern lighting can improve the look and quickly add value to your home as well.  It doesn’t have to be too expensive but can be very noticeable and fresh.  Hint: Look through home magazines, online tours or even model homes for the latest look.  Don’t replace what you have with a newer version of the same look.  I’ve seen it done. 

Fixtures – I’m talking about faucets, sinks, toilets and maybe mirrors here.  This can certainly get pricey if you need to change out the entire home.  Maybe focus on the master bath, powder bath and kitchen sink.  You would be surprised how fast you can modernize the look and feel of your home with another trip to the home improvement store and update the fixtures.  Once again, find the latest look and try to go with that.  Many of these can be purchased and installed by yourself.  Hint: If you just aren’t at all handy, hire a pro.  Plumbing can get messy if you don’t do it right!

Carpet – Bad carpet can often make an otherwise great house seem like it needs a lot of work.  Dirty, worn out carpet usually just won’t clean up well enough to cut it.  New carpet can make a huge improvement to your home but can once again be expensive depending on how much you have.  Typically, most buyers really don’t want to deal with a carpet allowance and have to do the work themselves.  They want to be impressed by the home when they walk in and be ready to move right in when they close.  Hint: Shop around.  You probably don’t need to install the highest grade carpet and pad, and you may be able to find wholesalers in your town with far cheaper prices than brand name retailers.

Hopefully, your home won’t need work in all of these areas.  However, it is important to make sure you take care of what needs to get done.  For many, your home has increased quite a bit in value from when you bought it.  If you want to sell for top dollar, most buyers will expect to have many of these home improvements done if they are needed.  As they say, you want to sell the sizzle with the steak!  A fresh, clean home with some updating is a HOT commodity in this market and can sell quick!  If you are considering a sale, please get in touch.  I would love to stop by, discuss the market with you and take a look at your home personally. I can offer some suggestions to work on and a marketing plan to find a buyer for your home.

 

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Common License of iluvcocacola

 

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Denver Area Water Restrictions

Living in Colorado with a Drought: Denver Area Water Restrictions

Aerated Lawn prepared for water restrictions

The Denver area water restrictions will remain be enforced this year due to a significant shortage of moisture this season.  Reservoirs that rely on snow melt to provide water to the Denver metro area were down last year and will be down substantially this year causing drought conditions.

So, when there is a drought that typically means Denver area water restrictions will take place.  Many folks are wondering if they will have restrictions and what and how much that means?  Denver Water has declared a Stage 2 drought and restrictions are in place beginning April 1, 2013 through September 30, 2013.  If your water is provided by Denver Water then these restrictions apply to you.

Remember, water providers serve cities and neighborhoods that are not always within the city limits.  So, make sure of who provides your water and check to see if any restrictions are in place.  Aurora water is also on restrictions.  Aurora water has declared a Stage 1 drought, and if your water is provided by Aurora water then these restrictions apply to you.  If you happen to live in Highlands Ranch or an area with water provided by Centennial Water, there are no restrictions placed on you at this time.  However, there are suggested water use, and of course, they have already implemented water budgeting per household so make sure to stay within you budget.  The overuse can get expensive.

We all need to do our part in conserving water, especially in drought conditions.  Here are some tips to help with your lawn and, if you live within the Centennial Water district, more information on the water budget program.  I hope this can help answer questions about the Denver area water restrictions.

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