IRS- Taxes – Finally, All Filed!

And, here is what I have to say: “Everyone should be paying their taxes with a smile! I tried… but the IRS wanted cash!”

Fortunately, there is Real Estate! Owning real estate has always been the most beneficial investment.

Top Ten Tax Deductions for Landlords

Rental real estate provides more tax benefits than almost any other investment. Here are the top ten tax deductions for owners of small residential rental property.
1. Interest; 2. Depreciation; 3. Repairs;  4. Local Travel; 5. Long Distance Travel; 6. Home Office; 7. Employees and Independent Contractors; 8. Casualty and Theft Losses; 9. Insurance; 10. Legal and Professional Services

Owning a Home — What’s Deductible?

Home ownership allows a lot of tax advantages not available to someone who merely pays rent. A homeowner can deduct points used to obtain a mortgage when buying a home, mortgage interest paid during the year, and property taxes. Your biggest deduction – Interest!

Here are some points to consider:
Defining “Home”:  your home can be a house, co-op, condominium, mobile home, trailer, or even a houseboat. For trailers and houseboats, one requirement is that the home must have sleeping, cooking, and toilet facilities. Even a rental can be considered a second home, provided you live in it either fourteen days out of the year or at least ten percent of the number of days you rent it for, whichever is greater.
Interest as a Tax Deduction: At the end of each year, your lender should send you a form 1098. This is your deductible interest, provided you meet certain conditions.

Home Acquisition Debt (an IRS Term): An important IRS term is “home acquisition debt.” Any first or second mortgage used to buy, build, or improve your home is considered to be home acquisition debt:

Home Equity Debt (another IRS Term): The IRS has another term called “home equity debt.” Basically, this is any loan amount in excess of what was spent to purchase, build, or improve your home.  For the interest to be fully deductible, home equity debt cannot exceed $100,000 and the total mortgage debt on the home must not exceed its value. This can create a problem for those using 125% loan-to-value second mortgages to consolidate debt. That portion of the loan amount that exceeds the value of your home is not tax deductible (unless you used it for home improvement).

Deducting Points When Refinancing
: Points paid during refinancing must be deducted over the life of the loan. For a thirty-year loan, you divide the points by thirty and get to deduct that amount each year. Exception:  If you did a “cash out” refinance and used some of the funds to improve your primary residence, a portion of the points are deductible in the year you paid them. If you obtained a $200,000 loan and $50,000 was used for home improvement, then one-fourth of the points are deductible in the year you obtained the loan.

Deducting Property Taxes: Most homeowners pay property taxes to a local, state or foreign government. In most cases, property taxes are deductible.

Impound Accounts: Many mortgages have impound or escrow accounts. When calculating your property tax deduction, don’t deduct what you pay into that account. Only deduct what is paid from the account to the taxing authority.

Limits on Deductions: You may be subject to a limit on some of your itemized deductions.

Certified Public Accountants: Whenever you reach a point where you begin itemizing deductions, it is best to have your tax returns prepared by a Certified Public Accountant. Internal Revenue Service rules and regulations can quickly become…confusing.

As always, if you need a sound real estate advice, remember that “Real Estate Is A Serious Business; Get A Pro!”

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, E-Pro,TRC, CLHMS, SFR, CDPE
Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;
kate@hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.facebook.com/MiamiFloridaEstates
blog: http://4realestate.wordpress.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/miamirealtorkatesmith

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

BofA: Offering Rent Option As Foreclosure Alternative- Good Or Bad?

BofA to offer rentals as foreclosure alternative

NEW YORK – March 23, 2012 – Bank of America says it has begun a pilot program offering some of its mortgage customers who are facing foreclosure a chance to stay in their homes by becoming renters instead of owners.

The “Mortgage to Lease” program, which was launched this week, will be available to fewer than 1,000 BofA customers selected by the bank in test markets in Arizona, Nevada and New York.

Participants will transfer their home’s title to the bank, which will then forgive the outstanding mortgage debt. In exchange, they will be able to lease their home for up to three years at or below the rental market rate. The rent will be less than the participants’ current mortgage payments and customers will not have to pay property taxes or homeowners insurance, the bank said.

“This pilot will help determine whether conversion from homeownership to rental is something our customers, the community and investors will support,” Ron Sturzenegger, legacy asset servicing executive of Bank of America, said in a statement.

Among requirements to qualify for the program, homeowners must have a BofA loan, be behind at least 60 days on payments and be “underwater,” owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

The bank based in Charlotte, N.C., said it will at first own the homes, then sell them to investors. If the program is successful, it could be expanded to include real-estate investors who buy qualifying properties and keep the occupants on as tenants.

“If this evolves from a pilot into a more broadly based program, we also see potential benefits from helping to stabilize housing prices in the surrounding community and curtail neighborhood blight by keeping a portion of distressed properties off the market,” Sturzenegger said.

Foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac says foreclosure activity has picked up in some states, as banks deal with a backlog of homes with mortgages that had gone unpaid yet remained in limbo due to delays stemming from foreclosure-abuse claims.

Nevada has the nation’s highest foreclosure rate as of last month, with one in every 278 households in the state receiving a foreclosure-related filing, twice the national average, according to RealtyTrac. Arizona ranks third behind California, while New York has not been as hard hit, with one in every 4,604 households receiving a foreclosure-related filing.
AP LogoCopyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

As always, it pays to consult someone who knows. As I say, “Real Estate Is A Serious Business, Get A Pro”!

Kate Smith, Realtor®, ABR, CRS, E-Pro,TRC, CLHMS, SFR, CDPE
Luxury Residential, Commercial and Distressed Properties Specialist, Brosda & Bentley Realtors
Cell: 786.412.8510; Fax: 954.923.4554;
kate@hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
http://www.hollywood-beach-real-estate.com
blog: http://4realestate.wordpress.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/miamirealtorkatesmith

“Some make it happen, some watch it happen, and some say, what happened?”

Buffet: Real Estate Investment- Better Than Stocks

Buffett: ‘I’d buy up a couple hundred thousand’ homes

WICHITA, Kan. – March 1, 2012 – Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” recently that he’d “buy up a couple hundred thousand” single-family homes if it was practical.Buffett said that’s because he believes purchasing a home with ultra-low mortgage rates and holding it for the long-term has become a better investment than stocks right now.

“Housing will come back, you can be sure of that,” Buffett wrote in his annual letter to shareholders recently.

Buffett forecasts an increase in household formations, as more people who moved in with their parents or family members during the recession look to move out and get their own home soon.

“People may postpone hitching up during uncertain times, but eventually hormones take over. And while ‘doubling-up” may be the initial reaction of some during a recession, living with in-laws can quickly lose its allure,” Buffett said.

Buffett said the recovery in the housing market could vary quite a bit among local housing markets, however. He did not provide a timeline of when he expected a full housing recovery, admitting that his prediction last year that a housing recovery will take shape within the year turned out to be “dead wrong.”

Source: “Housing Market Forecast Beyond 2012 From Warren Buffet,” International Business Times (Feb. 28, 2012) and “Warren Buffet on CNBC: I’d Buy Up ‘A Couple Hundred Thousand’ Single-Family Homes If I Could,” CNBC (Feb. 27, 2012)

© Copyright 2012 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Related Topics: Real estate investing

Lenders Embrace More Short Sales

NEW YORK – Feb. 20, 2012 – Lenders are allowing more short sales by financially strapped homeowners and a few people are even getting cash to complete the sale.

Short sales have been increasing for months, but the financial incentives – which Realtors say are random and infrequent – are a newer wrinkle.

Examples:

• JPMorgan Chase went national with short-sale incentive offers last year, paying up to $35,000 in some cases.

• Bank of America is testing incentives from $5,000 to $25,000 in Florida to see if they should be expanded to more states. The Florida program began last fall, spokesman Richard Simon says.

• Wells Fargo’s incentive offers range from less than $3,000 to $20,000, spokesman James Hines says.

Short sales, even with incentive payments to borrowers, can save lenders money compared with the expenses involved in completing foreclosures. In states such as Florida where foreclosures go through the courts, 50 percent of loans in foreclosure are more than two years past due, says a January report by mortgage tracker LPS Applied Analytics.

“It’s a lot cheaper to shell out $10,000 or $20,000 to someone than it is to go through a long foreclosure,” says Jim Gillespie, chief executive of Coldwell Banker.

Banks are more willing to do short sales now than in the past, Gillespie says. Cash incentives appear to be “limited but increasing” in number, he adds.

“When a loan modification isn’t possible, a short sale may be a better and faster solution” than foreclosure, says JPMorgan Chase spokesman Thomas Kelly.

The lenders won’t say how often they extend such incentives.

“If you have two similar sellers, one might get it and another may not,” says Colleen Badagliacco of Altera Real Estate in San Jose. “It’s very random.”

Typically, short sale incentives are more common for loans in states where foreclosures take more time, Hines says.

In November, short sales accounted for more than 9 percent of single family home sales and were up 32 percent from the year before, according to CoreLogic.

Market researcher Dataquick also shows short sales increasing from January 2011 through last month throughout California and in Phoenix, Miami and Seattle.

The federal government-run foreclosure prevention program also offers short sale incentives, at least $3,000 for sellers, but far more short sales are being done outside the government program.

“The trend is up,” says Moody’s Investors Service analyst William Fricke.

© Copyright 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

Top 10 turnaround towns- Miami and Ft. Lauderdale top the list

Top 10 turnaround towns- Miami and Ft. Lauderdale top the list, and 8 of the Top Ten cities are in Florida. GO FLORIDA!!!

CNNMoney finally caught up on the news we have been confirming for the last 8 months.  As they wrote in the latest market report : “Florida’s cities were some of the hardest hit by the housing bust, but now they are leading the charge back. Of Realtor.com’s top 10 turnaround towns, eight are in the Sunshine State.”

 http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2012/real_estate/1201/gallery.turnaround-housing-markets/index.html

Not only that Florida has been making a remarkable and quick come-back, but certain segments of the market even show shortage of inventory.

Sunny Isles for example, shows a shortage in newer oceanfront condos that are priced below $800,000, which creates a strong seller’s market. The sellers are firm on their prices, yet, the appraised values for this specific area and product are at $550,000 median. As financing continues to be very restrictive for condominiums, with tight loan limits, these properties are only available to cash buyers. 

Cash buyers are not required to have the property appraised, and as there is shortage in this category, they are purchasing at prices well above current market value determined by Dade County Appraiser. 

This naturally raises a few concerns, and the most important question- where are we headed? And, when are the banks finally going to catch on and increase the limits on luxury condominiums, thus keeping the values in some control.

Now, that CNNMoney has caught up with the REAL reality, hopefully the banks will follow suit.

Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in the U.S: Florida nabbed five spots – more than any other state

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Amazon listed the U.S.’s top 20 romantic cities, and Florida has more than any other state. 

Florida: Balmy breezes, sunsets and romance

ORLANDO, Fla. – Feb. 14, 2012 – Love is in the air. Amazon.com announced its list of the “Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in the U.S.,” and Florida nabbed five spots – more than any other state.

To compile the list, Amazon looked at sales numbers for romance novels and relationship books (Kindle Books and print books), romantic comedy movies (digital movies and DVDs), Barry White albums (CDs and MP3s), and other romantic wellness products since Jan. 1, 2012. It considered sales on a per capita basis in cities with over 100,000 residents.

The top city on the list was Knoxville, Tenn., for some reason. In Florida, Orlando took the No. 4 spot, followed by Miami (No. 7), Clearwater (12), Gainesville (17) and Tallahassee (20).

According to Amazon customers’ purchase habits, New York City is the least romantic city in the U.S., with Winston-Salem, N.C.; Patterson, N.J.; and El Monte, Calif., also securing bottom spots.

Amazon’s complete list of romantic cities

1. Knoxville, Tenn.
2. Alexandria, Va.
3. Springfield, Mo.
4. Orlando, Fla.
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
6. Vancouver, Wash.
7. Miami, Fla.
8. Murfreesboro, Tenn.
9. Dayton, Ohio19. Rochester, N.Y.
10. Columbia, S.C.
11. Pittsburgh, Penn.
12. Clearwater, Fla.
13. St. Louis, Mo.
14. Erie, Pa.
15. Clarksville, Tenn.
16. Everett, Wash.
17. Gainesville, Fla.
18. Las Vegas, Nev.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Consumers file class acti…

Consumers file class action suit against Citizens “An 82-year-old woman from the Tampa Bay area trying to survive on a meager social security check is among customers of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. suing the insurer for the way it calculates replacement values.”

Finally, Florida residents strike back!

Nearly 100 house markets improving; the list includes seven Florida cities

NAHB: Nearly 100 house markets improving

 

WASHINGTON – Feb. 6, 2012 – The list of housing markets showing measurable improvement expanded by 29 metros in February for a total of 98 entries on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI).

With the latest addition of Miami, the list now includes seven Florida cities: Cape Coral, Deltona, Jacksonville, Miami, North Port, Punta Gorda and Tampa. Thirty-six states have at least one metro area that’s improving.

The index lists metropolitan areas that have shown improvement in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. The February index adds some metropolitan areas that have been particularly weak. The IMI measures improvement from an economic trough, and NAHB says new notable entrants with six months of an upswing include Miami along with Boston; Detroit; Kansas City, Mo.; Portland, Ore.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Salt Lake City.

“The number of improving housing markets has risen for six consecutive months,” says NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen. “Despite the many challenges that continue to drag on a housing recovery – including the tight lending environment for builders and buyers – improving conditions are slowly but surely spreading from one housing market to the next.”

“While many of the markets on the February IMI are far from fully recovered, the index points out where employment, home prices and housing production are no longer retreating and have held above their lowest recession troughs for six months or more,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “This is a sign that a large cross section of the country is starting to turn the corner as local economic conditions stabilize.”

The IMI measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA). The three indicators are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac, and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. An MSA must have improvement in all three areas for at least six months following their respective troughs to be included on the improving markets list.

Seven markets dropped from the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index in February as they experienced softening house prices: San Jose, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Kankakee, Ill.; New Orleans; Worcester, Mass.; Jackson, Miss.; and Sherman, Tex.

A complete list of all 98 metropolitan areas currently on the IMI, and a separate breakout of metros newly added to the list in February, is available at: www.nahb.org/imi.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Short sale sellers need to close in 2012

Short sale sellers need to close in 2012

 

WASHINGTON – Feb. 3, 2012 – If a bank writes off debt in a short sale, it’s a “taxable event,” and the lender tells the Internal Revenue Service about the deal by submitting a “Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt” at the end of the year. Home sellers must acknowledge the amount when they fill out their federal taxes. Through Dec. 31, 2012, however, the federal government forgives any tax liability associated with forgiveness of a mortgage loan.

“In general, homeowners believe the government will extend this tax provision,” says San Diego Realtor Joy Bender. “However, as evidenced by the First Time Homebuyer Credit expiration in 2010, you can’t always count on the government to bail you out.”

The government generally considers forgiven debt to be income. If a seller has signed legal loan papers to take out a $200,000 mortgage and the lender accepts $100,000 in a short sale, for example, the seller received the equivalent of $100,000 in free money by government estimates. As a result, the IRS taxes it. For tax year 2012, however, the government still forgives the debt; in 2013, it might not.

The tax amount can be significant. On a debt of $100,000, a short-sale seller in the 25 percent tax bracket could end up owing $25,000 in income taxes.

Since short sales can take months and even fall through, homeowners considering a short sale may want to start the process sooner rather than later.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Unprecedented Buyer’s Market: Mortgage Rates Sink to Lowest on Record!

Fixed mortgage rates fell to all-time record lows this week following the Federal Reserve’s announcement of  “Operation Twist.”

The central bank’s new stimulus policy entails reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of GSE debt and mortgage-backed securities back into new mortgage bonds issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Fed also intends to purchase $400 billion more of Treasury securities by the end of June 2012.

Data released by Freddie Mac Thursday puts the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.01 percent (0.7 point)
for the week ending September 29. That’s down from 4.09 percent last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year rate averaged 4.32 percent.

Isn’t real estate great? Low mortgage rates, abundant inventory, reasonable and better informed sellers- all of these combined together make it the best market ever. The market conditions are great not only for first time home buyers, but also for investors, retirees who are looking for a second home, or for all these people looking for that investment opportunity that is REAL- after experiencing the shocking disappointments resulting from lost 401-K’s, crashing stock markets, Ponzi schemes- the list goes on and on.

It is wise to remind ourselves that real estate was called “real” for a reason and it is time to “jump off” that fence and take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity.

Copyright © 2012 | Kate Smith, LLC | Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed |