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Tax Tips for Homeowners

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year again-tax time! For some people, this may be the last year that you can take advantage of deductions that come with being a homeowner. Since most of the tax law changes don’t take effect until 2018, there are still deductions available to you when filing taxes for 2017. The deduction that has the highest value for most people is the mortgage interest deduction that you can take if you itemize and use a schedule A. You can still deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage up to $500,000 if you file separately or $1,000,000 if you file jointly. Most of us aren’t paying that much in interest but you can deduct what you are paying up to that limit. In some circumstances, interest you pay on a home equity loan or line of credit may also be deductible as long as you don’t exceed the previously mentioned limits. Starting with the 2018 tax year, those limits will change and fewer people will be able to deduct their mortgage interest because of the increase in the standard deduction. Also deductible this year is prepaid interest or points you may have paid when you took out your mortgage or when you refinanced and took out money for improvements to your home. These are typically 100% deductible if you itemize. If you paid points or prepaid interest you should have received a form 1098 from your lender. Another deduction that may be ending this year for some is your property tax deduction. Starting with the 2018 tax year, you can only deduct state and local...

What You Should Know Before An Appraisal

If you are buying or selling a home you will probably need an appraisal if there is a mortgage involved in the purchase. What exactly is an appraisal? The lender that is making the mortgage will order an appraisal to obtain an unbiased report on the value of the property. The buyer will pay for the appraisal as part of their loan costs and usually the seller will not see it. The appraisal is performed by a state licensed appraiser that is selected from a pool of lender approved, licensed appraisers. This prevents any possibility of influence over the appraisal by any of the parties to the transaction. The appraiser will render an opinion of value on the property and that will help insure that the lender and the buyer are not overpaying for a property. The appraiser will make an appointment to view the property in person. They will measure the square footage, confirm the number of bedrooms & baths and check the status of the structure and operating systems. Upgrades, renovations and condition will also be noted at this time. The appraiser will then look for comparables or “comps” which are similar properties in the same area to compare with the subject property. The appraiser will look at current market data to determine what similar properties are on the market now and what similar properties have recently been sold for. Typically an appraiser will only consider properties that have sold within the last three to six months to get an accurate reflection of current market value. The last step is to assemble all this data into a...

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