Senior Property Tax Assistance

social security

flickr/Backdoor Survival

Did you know WA State law provides tax benefit programs for senior citizens and the disabled? in the form of property tax exemptions and property tax deferrals. As you pack this year’s tax records away, you may want to look into whether you, a family member or someone you know might qualify for a property tax exemption, reduction or property tax deferral program. To qualify for taxpayer assistance or tax relief a person must apply for a senior citizen or disabled exemption and meet program qualifications. Its worth looking into  – visit the King  County Assessor website at http://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/assessor or call 206-296-3920 for more information and forms for the Senior Property Exemption and Deferral Program.

It may well be worth the time and effort to save money on future property tax bills.

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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.

Housing – What Can We Expect in 2016

January calendar

Image courtesy of Flickr by Jeff Djevdet

2015 definitely saw the continuation of price recovery for houses and condominiums in Seattle and on the Eastside. If you were in the market, either buying or selling a home last year, you were aware of the historically low levels of available inventory and escalating prices in most neighborhoods. With so few homes to choose from and so many buyers in the market, multiple offers were common, time on the market declined and prices rose in most communities. So what’s in store for 2016?

The Seattle/Bellevue area still ranks high nationally as a very desirable place to live and work. With a positive employment climate, more people are relocating to the area than are leaving which will continue to add to the housing crunch for buyers and renters. Interest rates are expected to rise this year but fixed rate mortgages aren’t expected to exceed 5% – still very attractive and affordable for buyers. Area housing prices are predicted to continue to increase, good news for sellers,  but at a more modest level than last year. Depending on which forecast you read, area housing prices will increase in the range of 4.5% to 6% this year.

Home values will continue to rise but at a more typical and sustainable pace than the last few years. Its likely demand will still exceed supply but with more households returning to positions of positive equity, more homeowners may finally have the ability to make plans to move up, downsize or relocate, improving inventory levels.

Is this year the perfect time to sell or buy a home? Demand for housing is high and we’re in a very strong sellers market  –  interest rates are low which benefits buyers and investors. Rents are skyrocketing; if you’ve been thinking about buying this would be an excellent time to purchase your first home and begin to build equity for yourself rather than your landlord. This could also be the time to maximize your equity position and buy a larger home, an investment property, downsize or think about a second or vacation home. How long will low interest rates last and property values continue to increase? That’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question. Major changes to the market aren’t anticipated, so its a safe bet that getting into a home now will result in increasing equity and a solid investment.

A Giving and Thankful Time of Year

I love what I do and I enjoy the opportunity to educate and guide buyers and sellers through the process (and sometimes stress) of buying or selling a home. If you worked with me this year, or bought or sold a home through Windermere Real Estate, you are part of the Windermere Foundation and you made a positive difference in the lives of our neighbors in need. With each buyer or seller we work with, Windermere brokers donate to the Windermere Foundation.

For the past 26 years the Windermere Foundation has donated a portion of each home sale toward supporting low-income and homeless families in our communities. Thank you for helping to raise over $20 million for those who need our help the most.

This is a busy time of year for everyone and hopefully you are planning on gathering with family and friends in your home. Windermere Foundation has made an effort to be sure many less fortunate families have that same opportunity.

Sweet joys are often found in simple places. Merry Christmas. Enjoy every moment of the New Year.