The new deadline for filing last year’s taxes is Wednesday,
July 15, 2020. Time to review the current tax implications of owning a home.
First, we need to itemize homeowner deductions if we decide to
claim them on our federal returns. There are a number of deductions available,
but if you’re like most homeowners, you won’t itemize and claim them. This is
because the IRS standard deduction is quite high since the Tax Cuts and Jobs
Act of 2017. The standard deduction that applies to the 2019 tax year is
$24,400 for married partners filing jointly, $12,200 for single and married people
filing separately, and $18,350 for single heads of households.
Most people prepare an itemized worksheet at least for their
own knowledge — if only to compare the standard deduction against the itemized
total before deciding how to file, or to show their accountants the
expenditures. So, here are some major deductions of note at the current time.
Continue reading “Real Estate Taxes: Tips and Updates”
When you tour a home, a big question is whether “what you
see is what you get.” Appraisers, home inspection professionals, and title companies
help offer the answers. Through the title search, ownership of the land in
traced back in time, showing current legal ownership, easements, and any notable
Until the moment the seller signs the buyer’s purchase offer,
the buyer can back out of the deal, and a frequent reason for doing so involves
marketability of title. A cloud on the title or an undisclosed easement might
come to light, putting off a reasonable buyer. In any case, the mortgage lender
must be convinced that the market price of the asset is truly fair and accurate—that
what you see is what you get.
So, in the all-important tile search, a title company scours
deeds and other documents recorded with the county, state and federal tax lien
records, and various financial, bankruptcy, and divorce records that could complicate
a title. If nothing substantial is unearthed, the title is deemed clean. Some common,
even beneficial encumbrances will turn up in a title search. A buyer can expect
to learn about homeowners’ association rules, utility easements, and normal
zoning restrictions. But detrimental encumbrances can be dealbreakers.
Here are seven of the most common title issues to watch for
in any real estate sale:
Continue reading “7 Common Title Problems in Real Estate Deals”
Tech is transforming real estate at a speed that worries
some and excites others.
But many would agree that current real estate transactions trigger
as much anxiety as joy. A deal can take months, with a string of third parties
showering sellers and buyers with fees and paperwork. Those with inside
knowledge have an edge in the market, while the ordinary person’s buying
process is steered by experts and administrators.
Can technology put ordinary homeowners and home shoppers in
the driver’s seat?
Continue reading “Fintech and Proptech and Deeds… Oh My! Trends Shaping the Future of Real Estate”
Ever thought about placing some of your key assets in
instruments that bypass the probate process? In a number of states, homeowners
have the option of placing their real estate in a transfer on death deed. Think
of a retirement account that’s transferred to its designated beneficiary on
death. In the same way, with a transfer on death deed for real estate, a home
can pass to a designated person, people, or a charity automatically upon the
current owner’s death.
Continue reading “Update: The State of the Transfer on Death Deed”
The rights and restrictions that come with a real
estate purchase can be complicated. The “subject to” phrase means the full
story may not be visible within the four corners of a deed.
Look for the phrase “subject to” in a deed. The deed might
say: “Subject to all rights of way, easements and other encumbrances of
record…” The deed is a grant of the land, but not every contingency appears on
Most home buyers receive warranty deeds, which represent the
real estate title as clear of creditors’ claims and other people’s ownership
interests. Still, some rules and encumbrances can legitimately apply to the
property. Yet they might be dealbreakers for the prospective buyer. Is there,
for example, a utility company’s easement that could rule out a new deck,
swimming pool, or accessory dwelling unit?
Homeowners’ associations have governing documents, containing
rules about landscaping and so forth. And for a single home, the “subject
to” clause is a catchall that spares the deed from reciting long,
intricate property descriptions that were hallmarks of deeds in earlier times:
the measurements and directions, setbacks, wells, driveways and sewer lines, and
other parties’ long-recorded rights and responsibilities regarding shared
resources. A general plan of development contains those restrictions.
Continue reading “Zeroing In: The “Subject To” Clause in Your Real Estate Deed”
Well-known schemes are being repackaged for the time of COVID-19. Here’s an overview of how real estate fraudsters are approaching their targets — and how to avoid becoming one.
Scams flare up during natural disasters and financial crises,
so we can expect a spike in deed fraud in 2020 and beyond. Battered by the
pandemic, facing snowballing debts and possible defaults, many people are now
considering risks they would have rejected in the past. Deed fraudsters can be
counted on in times like these to aggressively seek new opportunities.
Any wiring directions or changes to money transfer requests over
the phone or by email should arouse suspicion today. Rather than act or answer,
recipients should call the company and deal with a real person. And rather than
use phone numbers supplied in messages, recipients should take the extra step
of visiting the company’s website, copying the published number, and calling
that number. Personal details should be volunteered only after the identity of
the party making the request if verified, or by physically going to the
Of course, COVID-19 itself is making in-person meetings less
possible or at least less palatable. Part of the fraud risk involves the way
online transmission of our personal and financial data can be so easily and rapidly
Continue reading “Viral Fraud: More Deed Crime Targets in the Coronavirus Economy”
COVID-19 has changed the real estate market. Understanding the recent changes can help buyers prepare for the transaction, and set reasonable home buying timelines. Here is an overview of changes in the buying process. We conclude with a 6-point checklist for the buyer coming into the market today.
It’s springtime — always a great season for people who show, sell, and buy homes. Enter 2020, and the harsh and often unpredictable impacts of COVID-19. In the year’s first quarter, business and government offices closed in droves, and millions of U.S. jobs were lost. Lenders have a heightened sense of caution now, as they anticipate changes in borrowers’ work situations, income, debt, and credit performance.
The depth of the trouble was undeniable by March 11, 2020. On that day the World Health Organization (WHO) categorized the virus outbreak as a pandemic. As the novel coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from one person to another, the world’s public health experts urged everyone to stay at least 6 feet apart and avoid gathering in groups. Needless to say, that put a damper on home tours and, in turn, listings. By March, the number of homes listed in the market had dropped substantially.
And this brings us to the people who need to buy or sell a
home in the not-too-distant future. What will this new situation mean for the home
shopping experience? Here, we dive into the present real estate trends and
challenges, and the issues most likely to impact transactions from 2020 on.
Continue reading “Buying a Home? How Covid-19 Has Changed the Game”
impetus to digitalize real estate might just turn out to be the tipping point.
Practically overnight, COVID-19 is a defining element of our time. This hideous
and deadly virus became a major challenge to the systems that carry us through
our everyday transactions.
Continue reading “Pandemics, Property Transfer Breakdowns… The Digital Real Estate Industry Is Coming”
buying your first home? First-time buying is exciting. It’s filled with
the dreamy pleasure of beholding perfect kitchens, bedrooms and baths, and
the cliff-hanger phone calls about your loan approval. (“We’re nearly
there! I just need one more document…”) You’ll peruse home
inspection results, negotiate the home price so you can re-do that floor, and,
ultimately, you’ll get to “yes” with the seller. By the time you
finally sit down at the closing table, you’ll feel intense relief,
and one of the biggest thrills of your life. Here are some tips to help
make that day a resounding success.
Continue reading “First-Time Home Buyer Pro Tips”
has its perks. Resolving to buy rather than to keep renting can be an
excellent financial decision. Here, we take a look at five top benefits of
going from renter to owner—and a few key things to consider before you
make the move.
Continue reading “Five Top Benefits of Owning a House or Condo”