These 6 systems will get rid of Wi-Fi dead spots in your house

 

Will My Taxes Look Different Now That I’m a Homeowner?

 

Will My Taxes Look Different Now That I’m a Homeowner?

Kid playing with dollhouse

Magic 8 ball says yes. Here’s what to know to itemize tax deductions as a homeowner.

Taxes? Gross! Who wants to think about government paperwork, especially when your hand still aches from signing the 977 forms required to buy your first house? But listen up: As a new homeowner, you can typically wave bye-bye to the 1040-EZ form and say hi to itemizing your deductions on Schedule A.

That means you can combine the thousands you’re now paying in mortgage interest and property taxes with what you’re already paying in state and local income taxes. And bam! Suddenly, you’ve got more to deduct than the $6,300 standard deduction.

For recent first-time homeowners Ben and Stephanie Liddiard, buying a rambler in Layton, Utah, led to tax savings that fattened Ben’s paycheck by $100 every two weeks. If you’re like the Liddiards, home ownership will give you more deductions, so your taxable income will decrease and you could owe less in taxes.

What Deductions Should I Itemize?

  • Loan costs and fees
  • Mortgage interest
  • Property taxes
  • Private mortgage insurance

Not everyone who buys a home will end up itemizing and owing less in taxes, says Anna Berry Royack, an accountant who sees many first-time home buyer tax returns at her Liberty Tax office in Catonsville, Md.

To find out if you’re eligible to itemize, add up your deductions with your handy home closing paperwork, says Berry Royack. The document you’re looking for is either a HUD-1 Settlement Statement or a Closing Disclosure. (Lenders used the HUD-1 until late 2015, when they switched over to the more consumer-friendly Closing Disclosure.)

Here are the details on what you need to look for:

One-Time Deductions

Loan costs and fees. “Different lenders call their loan costs and fees different things,” Berry Royack says. “Look for an ‘application fee’ or ‘underwriting fee.’ Also, if you paid points to get a lower interest rate, that’s often deductible in the first year. Your lender might have called that ‘buying down the rate’ or ‘discount fee’ instead of ‘points.’ Points are easy to find on the Closing Disclosure because they’re at the top of page 2 and labeled ‘loan costs.’”

 

Recurring Deductions (Woo Hoo!)

1. Mortgage interest. Most homeowners can deduct the interest portion of monthly mortgage payments — not the principle — each year. Exception: When your mortgage is close to being paid off, the interest is less than the principle. So even when combined with other deductions, you might not have enough to exceed the standard deduction. But that’s a loooong way off for most of us.

To see how the mortgage interest deduction plays out in real life, consider first-time homeowners Ben and Stephanie Liddiard. They moved from a $1,000-a-month rental apartment to a $168,000, five-bedroom, two-story, 2,300-square-foot house outside Salt Lake City.

They had some deductions as renters, but those expenses were less than the $6,300 standard deduction they each got ($12,600 for marrieds), so as renters, they opted to take the standard deduction.

When they bought their home, the combination of mortgage interest, property taxes, Utah’s 5% income tax, charitable contributions, and some unreimbursed medical expenses incurred during Stephanie’s pregnancy, added up to more than $12,600. Hello, itemization.

All these deductions reduced their income, so they owed about $2,600 less in federal and state income taxes.

Once they knew how much lower their tax bill was going to be, the Liddiards had two choices:

  1. Leave their payroll tax withholding as it was and get a $2,600 refund the following year.
  2. Adjust their tax withholding so the extra $2,600 wasn’t taken out of their paychecks any more.

The Liddiards went with No. 2. “I changed my withholding so I get about $100 more [in each] paycheck instead of a big refund,” Ben says. That’s smarter than letting the IRS hold on to that until refund season since the IRS pays zero interest on the money you overpay in taxes.

Tip: You know what would be an even smarter move? Opting to automatically divert that $100 per paycheck into a home repair savings account. Once you’ve saved a tidy 1% of the value of your home, you could use that money to fund your 401(k) or your kid’s college costs.

2. Property taxes. Property taxes are also deductible, but they can be tricky in the year you buy the home because both you and the sellers owned the property during that year. Sadly, you only get to deduct the property taxes you owed for the portion of the year you owned the home; the seller gets the rest of the deduction.

This info shows up on the Closing Document as “adjustments for items paid by seller in advance” or “adjustments for items unpaid by seller.”

Tip: Who pays the property taxes in the year of the sale — the buyer or seller — is negotiable, but not who gets the deduction. Say you live in a sellers’ market and to sweeten the deal agree to pay the full year of property taxes for the seller. Nice negotiating! But you still can’t claim the full year deduction under IRS rules.

Other stuff on the not-so-deductible list:

  • Transfer fees for changing title from the sellers to you.
  • Recordation fees to put the title change into public record.
  • Homeowner or community association fees. They feel like a tax because you gotta pay ‘em, but they’re not.

3. Mortgage insurance. Private mortgage insurance, which many homeowners pay each month if they put down less than 20%, is deductible for many every year you pay it.

Private mortgage insurance protects lenders when they accept low down payments. To claim the deduction, your adjusted gross income (AGI) must be no more than $109,000. The deduction phases out once your AGI exceeds $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately) and disappears entirely at an AGI of more than $109,000 ($54,500 for married filing separately).

Other types of insurance, like homeowners insurance, aren’t deductible unless you can claim a portion of the home insurance because you work at home exclusively. “People can get those two confused,” Berry Royack says.

Other Deductions You Might Overlook

As the Liddiards found, sometimes buying a house is the trigger that, combined with other deductions you might have, makes it worth busting out Schedule A. That stuff you donated so you didn’t have to move it was probably a charitable donation. Those state and local taxes you paid could pay you back via itemization. Hopefully, you don’t have to, but you can maybe tack on medical and dental expenses above 10% of your income and casualty and theft losses.

Special Circumstances to Keep in Mind

If this is your first year doing your taxes as a homeowner, it’s worth splurging on an accountant to make sure everything goes down without a hitch. This is especially true if one of these special circumstances apply:

  1. You work from home. If you take conference calls in the same place your dog lives — that is, your home office is your exclusive, regular place of business — you might be able to deduct a portion of your home ownership costs under the home office deduction. “That’s a $1,500 deduction for a 300-square-foot office. Or you can deduct more if you have a larger office or the actual costs for you home office are higher,” Berry Royack says. The standard home office deduction is $5 per square foot. If you’re self-employed, you’ll be taking this deduction on Schedule C.
  2. Your lender sold your mortgage to a different lender. “That happens to a lot of people about five minutes after they walk out of the closing,” Berry Royack says. “If you’re one of them, you’ll need to remember to look for two sets of year-end disclosures — one from each company that had your loan.”

Add the numbers from both year-end forms to get the amount to deduct. If the numbers don’t look right, call the agency or company that services the mortgage and double-check the figures or ask your accountant to do it. “We see a lot of returns [at our firm], so we usually can tell if your property tax figure looks right, and we know where to check,” Berry Royack says.

How You May Be Overpaying Hundreds of Dollars on Your Mortgage

 

How You May Be Overpaying Hundreds of Dollars on Your Mortgage

You can get rid of your PMI sooner than your lender will do it automatically.

If you put less than 20% down when you bought your house and used a conventional mortgage, you probably pay private mortgage insurance, or PMI, on the loan. While you have the ability to cancel it after you have 20% equity in your home, cancellation doesn’t happen automatically until later, which could potentially result in you overpaying your mortgage by hundreds of dollars per month.

When you can get rid of PMI

The short version is that you can ask that your mortgage insurance (PMI) be cancelled if your loan is paid down to 80% of the home’s original value.

Under the Homeowners Protection Act of 1998, you can request cancellation on the day your loan is first scheduled to reach 80% of your original property value, or when the loan actually reaches 80% of the property’s original value. In other words, if you pay down your loan faster than your payment schedule requires, you could request to get rid of PMI sooner.

Calculator and money, with model house and house keys.

Image source: Getty Images.

For your lender to cancel your PMI in either situation, three things need to be true:

  1. You submit a written request for cancellation.
  2. You have maintained a good payment history.
  3. You supply evidence that your home’s value has not declined since you bought it, if your lender requests it.

It’s important to mention that your home’s original value is generally defined as the lesser of the price you paid for the home or the appraised value at the time your loan closed. When applying for mortgage insurance cancellation, this is the value that is used to determine your loan-to-value ratio, unless your home’s value has gone down since you bought it. Your lender may request (at your expense) evidence, such as a new appraisal, that your home’s value has not declined before agreeing to remove your PMI.

Finally, it’s also important to note that all the rules discussed in this article regarding the cancellation of PMI (FHA mortgage insurance has different rules) only apply to loans closed on or after July 29, 1999.

When your lender will get rid of it automatically

The same legislation that allows you to request cancellation of your PMI also says that if you are current on your loan payments, your PMI will automatically terminate on the date the principal balance of your loan is first scheduled to reach 78% of the original value of the property. If you aren’t current on your loan payments at that time, PMI will be cancelled when you become current.

Also, the law states that PMI will not be required past the midpoint of the amortization period, no matter what, if your loan payments are current. In other words, if you have a 30-year mortgage and make your payments on time, PMI cannot be charged after you’ve paid the loan for 15 years.

This may not sound like a big difference, but…

At first glance, this may not sound like a big difference. If you buy a $300,000 home with 10% down (original loan balance of $270,000), this is the difference between paying the balance down to $240,000 or $234,000 — not a huge difference.

However, it can take quite a bit of time to pay the loan down that extra 2%. In fact, when I plug that loan balance into a mortgage amortization calculator using today’s mortgage interest rates, there is a one-year difference between when you could ask for PMI cancellation and when your lender must cancel it automatically. Since PMI can easily be over $100 per month, this means that by not being proactive about cancelling your mortgage insurance, you could literally end up paying thousands of dollars more than you have to.

Trump’s first 100 days: Why saving $18,223 on your mortgage may soon vanish
The days of rock-bottom mortgage rates may be numbered. In fact, mortgage rates recently spiked from multi-decade lows and President Trump is already taking actions that could increase your mortgage costs further. One analyst is calling for rates to skyrocket by half a point in 2017 – enough to increase the average 30-year mortgage’s costs by $18,223! There may be no better time than now to lock in a low rate for a refinance or new home purchase. Uncover how much you could save by comparing current mortgage rates and calculating your monthly mortgage payment.

When It Comes to Moving, Millennials Are Stuck in the Mud

 

Economy Sees Significant Drop in Underwater Properties

 

Economy Sees Significant Drop in Underwater Properties

The number of seriously underwater properties dropped significantly last year, with 1 million fewer reported at the end of 2016 than 2015. This is the lowest point for seriously underwater properties since the beginning of 2012.

According to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Year-end 2016 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, 5.4 million U.S. homes deemed seriously underwater at the close of 2016, accounting for 9.6 percent of all mortgaged properties in the nation. Seriously underwater homes, which means the combined loan amount on the property was 25 percent, or more, higher than the home’s market value, were down from 10.8 percent at the end of Q3 2016 and 11.5 percent year-over-year.

“Since home prices bottomed out nationwide in the first quarter of 2012, the number of seriously underwater U.S. homeowners has decreased by about 7.1 million, an average decrease of about 1.4 million each year,” said Daren Blomquist, SVP of ATTOM Data Solutions. “Meanwhile, the number of equity-rich homeowners has increased by nearly 4.8 million over the past three years, a rate of about 1.6 million each year.”

The highest share of seriously underwater homes was found in Nevada, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, and Louisiana. At the end of 2016, nearly 20 percent of all mortgage properties in Nevada were seriously underwater. As for individual metro areas, Las Vegas; Cleveland; Akron, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; and Toledo, Ohio took the top spots.

In Ohio, the large number of underwater properties is causing an inventory problem, according to Matthew L. Watercutter, Senior Regional Vice President and Broker of Record for HER Realtors, which serves the Dayton, Columbus, and Cincinnati markets.

“One of the primary reasons we have a shortage of inventory is due to the high number of homeowners who are still underwater, making it difficult to sell and move as they would need to conduct a short sale or bring money to the closing,” Watercutter said. “A high percentage of those homeowners are waiting it out until they are no longer underwater or in a better position to sell, contributing to the shortage of inventory. I expect this dynamic to continue through 2017.”

On the other end of the spectrum, properties that are equity-rich—meaning the loan amount was 50 percent or less than the home’s market value—have risen. At the end of 2016, there were 13.9 million equity-rich properties, accounting for 24.6 of all properties. This marks a jump from 22.5 percent in 2015—and 1.3 million homes.

“Despite this upward trend over the past five years, the massive loss of home equity during the housing crisis forced many homeowners to stay in their homes longer before selling, effectively disrupting the historical domino effect of move-up buyers that feeds both demand for new homes and supply of inventory for first-time homebuyers,” Blomquist said. “Between 2000 and 2008, our data shows the average homeownership tenure nationwide was 4.26 years, but that average tenure has been trending steadily higher since 2009, reaching a new record high of 7.88 years for homeowners who sold in 2016.”

The highest share of equity-rich properties was found in Hawaii, Vermont, and California. San Jose, California; San Francisco; Honolulu; Los Angeles; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania were the most equity-rich metros.

2017-02-08

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Man Transforms IKEA Cabinets Into A Spacious Piece of Furniture!

 

Dad Transforms IKEA Kitchen Cabinets Into Brilliant Bedroom Storage

There is an endless list of high-end, designer beds out there that look quite amazing, but also have got a huge price tag attached, as well as insufficient storage space. Chris Heider is increasingly turning to be the talk of the town because of his clever experiment with some kitchen cabinets that helped him create a lovely platform bed for a comfortable good night’s sleep, which has also got plenty of space underneath to keep their household items! Check out the video below!

This Man Transforms IKEA Cabinets Into A Super-cool and Spacious Piece of Furniture! – Cute DIY Projects

ikea platform storage bed

An innovative and incredible do-it-yourself idea, the bed actually comprises of some wall cabinets and Haggeby white cheapest doors, along with an open cabinet which was transformed into the smallest step for the bed. What’s surprising is that the whole process doesn’t cost him more than 500 dollars ! Plus, it was just a matter of few hours to work out the brand new platform bed that goes just perfect with their interior, offering an outstanding element of charm to their home, keeping it all neat and spacious.

Take a look at the below YouTube video by Chris Heider where he demonstrates his awesome job converting regular IKEA cabinets into a chic, trendy and purposeful platform bed, that’s just so inspiring and be adventurous to that you are surely going to head towards crafting out your very own stylish piece of furniture from the some store-bought shelves or cabinets, no matter what’s the brand!

Smaller Homes Yield Faster Value Growth

~Firm believer in this!!~

 

Smaller Homes Yield Faster Value Growth

 

A new study by NerdWallet, which looked at three years worth of data from Realtor.com on 20 U.S. metro markets, found that the smaller the home, the faster the price growth, in terms of percentage of increase. However, overall prices of larger homes climbed faster than those of small homes in terms of actual dollars over the same period from 2013 to 2016.

In 17 of the 20 metro areas, NerdWallet found that listing prices of the smallest 25 percent of homes by area grew fastest when calculated as a percentage. The median annual growth rate for these homes was 9 percent. The second-smallest 25 percent of homes had the second-fastest growth rate, with median annual growth of 7.4 percent.

In most metros, the dynamic held true that the smaller the home, the faster the price value increased. In a few, like Dallas/Fort Worth, the second-smallest quarter saw values rise just a hair more than those of the smallest. Typically, the escalations were close and evenly downward, going from smallest to largest homes. However, Miami’s smallest homes grew far faster than all other sizes. Homes there grew by 20 percent over three years. Tampa had a similar return, with the smallest homes growing 16.6 percent.

In pure dollars, the value of the largest homes were more than those of smaller ones, which NerdWallet credited to the simple fact that larger homes in any market tend to have the highest price tags. Over its three-year window, the study found that the smallest homes in the metro areas appreciated more than $57,000, on average; the largest homes saw their prices rise almost $100,000, on average.

Richard Green, a professor and chair of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California, said the numbers don’t surprise him.

“We’ve had this now for about nine to 10 years, this return to center cities,” Green said, adding that homes in the center of big cities tend to be smaller than those in suburbs.

Green also said that new construction has been down nationwide since 2007, one reason inventory in general is low. Then, of course, there are the people who bought starter homes between 2004 and 2006 and haven’t recovered all the value they lost during the housing crisis.

“They haven’t built up the equity that normally people would use for a down payment in order to move up, so you have a lot of people who are stuck in their starter homes,” Green said.

While home prices are going up, he said, they’re not high enough to get people to leave their starter homes except in a few markets, such as Denver and Dallas. As a result, there often aren’t enough starter homes on the market to meet demand, meaning the lack of inventory, paired with increased demand, means more price appreciation for smaller homes.

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