Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Homeowner Strategies to Minimize Gain & Maximize Proceeds



The gain on the sale of your home is determined by the price you sell the home, less selling expenses, less the price you paid for it, plus the capital improvements made during the time you owned the property.

IRS and accounting use the term "basis" to describe your cost in the home.  It is a dynamic number that changes over time based on capital improvements that are made and capital losses that are incurred.  What is called the tax basis may better be referred to as cost basis.  It is the taxpayer's cost in the property used to determine the tax on the gain of the sale.

The calculation begins with the purchase price of the property plus certain capitalized acquisition costs that were owed by the seller but were paid when purchased.  Examples would include real estate taxes owed through the day before the sale date, back interest owed by the seller, and charges for repairs that were the seller's responsibility.  Capital improvements made to the property during ownership will increase the basis.

Capital improvements must either materially add value to the home, appreciably prolong the useful life of the property, or adapt a portion of the property to a new use.  IRS Publication 523 has a section on figuring the gain or loss on a personal residence. 

Some of the following may be considered capital improvements: landscaping, driveway, fence, swimming pool, new roof not covered by insurance, replacement of HVAC equipment and appliances.  Maintenance and repairs to a person's home is not a capital expenditure. 

If the owner purchased a home for $350,000 and during that time spent $110,000 on qualified improvements, the cost basis of the property would be $460,000.

If cost recovery had been taken on the home when it was used as a rental property, even though it is now considered a principal residence, the total amount of the depreciation lowers the basis in the property.

 

Purchase Price

$350,000

Plus Capital Improvements

$110,000

Adjusted Basis

$460,000

Sales Price

$650,000

Less Selling Costs

$31,000

Net Selling Price

$619,000

Less Adjusted Basis

$460,000

Capital Gain

$159,000

In the example above, if the taxpayer owned and used the home as their principal residence for two out of the last five years and had not taken an exclusion on another home during the two years prior to the current sale and didn't acquire the home through a 1031 exchange during the past five years, the gain qualifies for an exclusion and no tax paid.  Single taxpayers and married taxpayers filing separately can exclude up to $250,000 of gain from the sale of a principal residence.  Married taxpayers filing jointly can exclude up to $500,000 of gain from the sale.

Record keeping is important for you to substantiate the capital improvements when it comes time to calculate the gain.  While IRS does allow you to reconstruct the expenses, it is much better to keep track of them in a contemporaneous manner with dates, receipts, and possibly, pictures for the more expensive improvements.

For more information, download our Homeowners Tax Guide.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Living the Dream: The Value of Homeownership



Owning a home has long been considered a fundamental part of the American dream. It represents far more than just having a place to live�it embodies values, aspirations, and a sense of security. Here's why homeownership is widely regarded as a key component of the American dream:

Stability and Roots: Owning a home provides a sense of stability and roots in a community. It allows individuals and families to establish themselves, put down roots, and create a sense of belonging.

Wealth Building: Homeownership is often seen as a pathway to wealth building. By building equity over time, homeowners have the potential to accumulate wealth, establish financial security, and pass down assets to future generations.

Personalization and Pride: Homeownership grants the freedom to personalize and customize a space according to personal taste and style. It offers a sense of pride and accomplishment, as homeowners can create a place that truly reflects their identity and values.

Community and Social Connections: Homeownership fosters a sense of community and social connections. Neighbors become more than just acquaintances; they become friends, creating a supportive network that enhances the overall quality of life.

Stability for Future Generations: Homeownership provides a stable environment for future generations. It offers the opportunity to create lasting memories, build family traditions, and provide a secure foundation for children and grandchildren.

Financial Benefits: Homeownership can provide various financial benefits, including potential tax advantages and the opportunity to build credit and establish a solid financial history.

Sense of Achievement: Achieving homeownership is often viewed as a significant milestone and a symbol of personal achievement. It represents hard work, dedication, and the fulfillment of a long-held dream.

Control and Independence: Homeownership brings a sense of control and independence. Homeowners have the freedom to make decisions about their property, from renovations and improvements to landscaping and design choices.

Long-Term Investment: Real estate has historically been a reliable long-term investment. Homeownership allows individuals to build wealth over time while enjoying the benefits of a place to call their own.

Emotional Well-being: Owning a home can contribute to emotional well-being and overall happiness. It provides a sense of security, pride, and a place to create lasting memories with loved ones.

Homeownership represents a significant part of the American dream, encapsulating aspirations for stability, financial security, personalization, and a sense of community. It symbolizes the pursuit of a better future, a place to call home, and the realization of one's own piece of the American dream.

For more information, download Homeownership Today!

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

How to get a lower rate and a lower price



Are you in the market for a new home and wondering which mortgage option is right for you? While the world of home financing offers a surplus of choices, one option often overlooked is the Adjustable Rate Mortgage, or ARM. If you're in a market where interest rates are trending lower, an ARM could be the key to significant savings and financial flexibility.

The problem is simple, while you're waiting for interest rates to come down, the price of homes are still going up.  Any savings from the lower interest rate could more than be offset by the increase in purchase price due to appreciation.  Buying at today's prices with an interim loan might be the answer.

Picture this: You've found your dream home, and it's time to secure financing. An ARM often starts with a lower initial interest rate than a fixed-rate mortgage. This means your monthly payments will be more manageable from day one, allowing you to allocate your budget wisely.

In a market where interest rates are on a downward slope, ARMs can lead to even lower monthly payments. If rates continue to decline, your mortgage payments could shrink, leaving more money in your pocket.

If you anticipate selling or refinancing your home within a few years, an ARM can be a strategic choice. The lower initial rates and shorter fixed-rate periods align with your shorter-term ownership plans, offering cost savings during your stay.

Imagine paying less interest over the life of your mortgage. In a declining rate environment, an ARM can translate into lower overall interest expenses compared to a fixed-rate mortgage, assuming the rates stay favorable.

One of the unique features of ARMs are the rate caps. These caps limit how much your interest rate can adjust during each period, offering a safeguard against sudden and steep rate hikes. Your financial peace of mind is protected.

A lower initial interest rate can boost your borrowing power. With an ARM, you may qualify for a larger loan amount or consider a property that might have been just out of reach with a fixed-rate mortgage.

Lower initial monthly payments with an ARM can free up funds that you can redirect towards paying down your mortgage faster. This could help you build equity in your home more rapidly.

Life is full of surprises, and an ARM provides you with flexibility. As market conditions change, you have the option to adapt your mortgage to your financial goals. You can choose to refinance, lock in a fixed rate, or ride the wave of lower rates.

While ARMs offer exciting benefits in a declining rate environment, they are not without risks. If interest rates rise, your monthly payments could increase, potentially impacting your budget. Therefore, it's crucial to assess your financial situation, future plans, and risk tolerance carefully.

When the market is trending toward lower interest rates, an Adjustable Rate Mortgage can be a valuable tool for savvy homebuyers especially when the price of homes are still going up. It's all about seizing the opportunity for savings, financial flexibility, and homeownership that aligns perfectly with your goals and lifestyle. Explore your options, consult with a trusted mortgage professional, and make an informed decision that leads you to your dream home with your financial well-being in mind.