Don’t Miss these Tax Deductions

Its that time of year  –  everyone is organizing receipts and information for tax preparation. If you bought a home this year, refinanced your home or made energy improvements to your home, don’t overlook these important deductions.

  • MORTGAGE INTEREST  –  the interest paid on your mortgage is probably your biggest allowable deduction.
  • POINTS – If you purchased a home in 2016 and paid points to get a better interest rate, that expense is tax deductible. Points on refinance loans and home equity loans are also deductible but must be spread over the life of the loan instead of all in one year’s return.
  • ENERGY CREDITS – If you made any improvements that improve the energy efficiency of your home you may qualify for a tax credit. Those items could include insulation, windows, doors and roofs. A tax credit is better than a deduction because its a dollar-for-dollar savings instead of simply saving you whatever tax you paid based on your income bracket. There are limits on energy credits depending on what you purchased, so be sure to check with a tax professional.
  • PROPERTY TAXES – Property taxes paid on your primary residence are deductible. You may complain about your real estate taxes, but at tax time they work in your favor and can save a lot on your tax return.

Check with your tax professional to be sure you’ve taken advantage of all the possible tax savings on your 2016 taxes and going forward, keep receipts and information for this year organized to make next year’s tax preparation job easier.

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Buyers Need Patience, Sense of Humor

down paymentIn a recent search of 2+ bedroom condos in Bellevue the results were pretty bleak. Just 28 homes listed for sale with prices ranging from $300,000 to $13,950,000. Of those 28 homes 13 were priced under $1 million and of those 13, only three were priced under $500,000. Just 28 condos for sale in the entire city  –  we’re definitely experiencing a shortage of available homes.

Downtown Bellevue is one of the hottest addresses on the Eastside, and while many condo buyers focus on the city’s urban communities, with limited inventory they are expanding their search beyond downtown. In the past this would have opened up the selection of available homes, but inventory is in short supply everywhere on the Eastside.

If you’ve been searching for a home in recent months you already know, with high demand and low inventory, that multiple offers are common. For every house for sale there may be 3, 4, 5 or more offers submitted. Only one buyer can prevail, so the other buyers are back in the search for the next new listing. As we head into spring there should be an increase in the number of homes coming on the market, but rather than the typical 8-10 per week it’s likely to be just 2-3 per week. Buying a home should be fun, but this year its going to require patience, preparation and a sense of humor. Buyers need to be positioned to win, so now more than ever it pays to work with an experienced lender and a Realtor® who know the market and will serve as your advocates and guide you through the process.

Bellevue Television

Did you know the City of Bellevue/Bellevue Television produces a monthly video, Lake to Lake, featuring news, projects, activities and events in and around Bellevue. Current and past videos are posted on YouTube – definitely worth watching to find out what’s happening, or what’s about to happen, in your city. Open the links below to take a look at this year’s videos.

Lake to Lake/January

Lake to Lake – February

Reality TV or Unreality?

remodel

Flickr/Cheryl Marland

Like most people, I spend more time indoors and watch more TV in the winter. I enjoy the HGTV home remodeling shows (Beachfront Bargains is one of my favorites). There’s always something to learn about new design trends and construction and real estate around the country.

Unfortunately, the shows don’t tell you everything about the mistakes, cost overruns and amount of time and money required to complete a project. First, there’s the myth about the time it takes to find a home and complete a remodel project. In a 60 minute show buyers look at 3 houses, find the home of their dreams, and then complete a full remodel in 6-8 weeks. Seriously, it could take that long to hire a contractor and get permits. With few exceptions, remodeling takes longer than anticipated, costs more than expected and there are always surprises. The idea of completing a high end kitchen for $20,000 is unrealistic, and I love it when homeowners are shocked that it is going to be a problem (and expensive) when the HVAC and main waste lines run through the wall they plan to remove.

When clients ask about remodeling I tell them to start with their eyes wide open and remind them “this isn’t HGTV”. Be realistic, plan for a project to take longer than expected, be prepared for surprises and have contingency funds available for the unexpected.

So why do I watch these shows? Chip and JoJo have a great sense of humor, they’re entertaining and they really know their stuff. I love to see whether homeowners will “love it or list it” and the Property Brothers, also entertaining, are generally right on with remodel costs (even though they work wonders in just 6 weeks). And who knows  –  I may find the beachfront bargain of my dreams.

If there’s a remodel in your future give me a call. Over the years I’ve gathered resources for vendors and contractors who can help with minor update to major remodel projects. If your remodeling a condo, before you start you’ll need to know about working within the guidelines of the HOA and community rules and regulations.

Continued Seller’s Market in 2017

Population growth in the Puget Sound region continues to exceed the national rate. With Bellevue’s population and employment growth, its projected the local real estate market will remain strong this year. The continued development in Bellevue’s central business district, the addition of  jobs, amenities and services, access to award winning schools, transportation and future light rail will all continue to make this a highly sought after place to live.

For the past few years housing has struggled to keep up with job and population growth, creating a housing crunch and driving up prices. Inventory  levels should pick up as we head into spring, but the increase won’t be enough to meet demand. It will continue to be a seller’s market this year with property values expected to increase    7-8% over the next 2-3 quarters. What does this mean for buyers? They will still need to position themselves to compete n this market. Start the loan process early, be fully vetted and approved for a mortgage, have patience and follow the advice of your loan consultant and Realtor®. Sellers will have the market edge again this year but homes still need to be prepared for the market with repairs completed, an appealing presentation and market-appropriate price. While cash offers will still be common, but sellers need to know a cash offer isn’t always the best offer. (Cash buyers should be vetted and funds verified to prevent delays in closing.) Buyers using financing are still a big part of the market; lenders, underwriters and appraisers will still be involved in the successful sale of many homes in our area.

There is good news. There are condo and townhome communities planned in downtown Bellevue that will break ground in the coming weeks/months and others that are in the planning and design phase. I live and work in downtown Bellevue. A Realtor® and condo specialist, I keep tabs on what’s happening, and what’s about to happen, in the marketplace. Contact me for information about new communities and projects planned in and around the central business district.