The Truth About Buying a Home in Winter

December? January? February? It’s All Good.

Spring is high season for home sales. But buying in winter means settling down in time to watch the garden bloom in a new home. There’s a lot to be said for that.

In the northern latitudes, home shopping can mean weather-related holdups here and there. But winter is a great time to work with mortgage consultants and real estate agents. It’s also the perfect time to see how a place looks and feels when the comforts of home matter most.

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Can Tech Make Real Estate Affordable?

Owning a decent, healthful, attainably priced home should be possible for everyone. Buyers in the modest- and middle-income categories should be able to achieve homeownership. After all, buying a home is considered a key to building up a store of value and attaining financial safety.

Lately, though, the dream of homeownership has been fading for many. Can technology help our society provide real estate opportunities to all?

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When the Endangered Species Act Hits Home

Real Estate Agent Group Tells Feds: Pay the Landowners

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects at-risk species. Most everyone supports its mission. But when it impacts the property they own, developers and landowners may believe the law clashes with their 5th Amendment rights. Why? The law regulates their use of property — which sometimes amounts to a taking without payment to the owner.

In the interest of defending private landowner rights, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) wants law reform. NAR says landowners should get paid for assisting at-risk species rather than give up the economic value in their properties.

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Buying a House. How Much Do I Budget for Repairs?

Buyers of Newly Built Homes Spend Far More on Repairs

All home buyers have some repair work ahead of them. Sometimes, only finishing touches are needed. In other cases, major systems need replacement.

A new buyer should budget for significant costs in the first year. But the real kicker is just how much people who buy brand-new homes will likely spend. On average, a typical buyer of a newly built home spends $12K to $16K and more to spruce up the place. And that’s just in the first year of homeownership.

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Home Prices Will Fall. But Affordability? Don’t Count on It

What’ll this market do in 2023? Economists envision home prices dropping throughout the year. A report from the research firm Capital Economics predicts an 8% drop, which is in the range others are predicting, too.

Then, its forecast shows property values rising back up again — by 2.5% in late 2024.

Morgan Stanley analysts believe prices will fall 7% by December 2023 from their June 2022 highs. Moody’s Analytics expects a 10% drop by mid-2024 — and drops much bigger than that in the markets that went red-hot. Consider Austin, Texas, where prices are up 60% since the pandemic began. As high as that figure is, it’s sliding. Since summer 2022, Austin property values are already down more than 8%.

Overall, this seems like a reprieve for hopeful buyers. But will it bring what we really need: many affordable homes for sale?  

Here’s what current forecasts show.

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Is Home Swapping a Thing?

Most of us know home sharing platforms are a thing — but how about home swapping platforms? Yes, they exist. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed up for subscriptions, across the country and worldwide, so they can immerse themselves in each other’s surroundings for a few days or weeks at a time. Some look forward to the experience as the holidays draw near.

And these platforms keep reinventing themselves. Here’s how the home swap concept works, and some of the latest twists on the idea.

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Real Estate Apps: What’s Trending Out There?

Plenty of tech innovators are coming up with interesting options to support home buyers, agents, and window shoppers. Many have multiple useful features, and some are pretty fun concepts, too. Here are some of the standouts.

Note: We’re not advertising here or getting paid by anyone connected to the app world. This overview is simply meant to bring our readers a sampling of what’s out there. We can’t guarantee any of the apps, although we love to follow the progress tech is making in real estate. It’s a good practice to check out reviews from multiple sources before choosing an app, just as it is when choosing a real estate agent!

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How Wall Street Real Estate Firms Get Richer—and Get Tax Breaks

After the 2007-09 financial crisis, a string of companies bought up foreclosed houses and flipped them into rental homes. Sometimes, they rented to the very same people whose homes were foreclosed and bought out.

Ever since then, these firms have profited handsomely from rising real estate values — and the existence of a growing class of renters.

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About That Mortgage Interest Deduction

Approaching the Finish Line in 2022

If you’re a mortgage borrower, you pay interest on your loan every month. As the end of the calendar year approaches, you’ve probably paid quite a lot of interest on your loan. The silver lining is your ability to add it all up for your mortgage interest deduction.

The deduction means you can cut your taxable income by the total mortgage interest amount you paid this year.

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How Does the IRS Check Primary Residence Status?

Got Multiple Properties?

When you buy a home, it can be a primary residence, a second home, or investment real estate that you plan to rent out to others. Most individual home buyers are purchasing homes they want to live in — primary residences.

But what if you have more than one property? Getting your primary residence status right is critical. Lenders care about this information, because homes are collateral. Lenders know buyers tend to keep personal homes well maintained. And if you have multiple properties, the IRS wants to be sure you claim your primary residence correctly.

Occupancy fraud occurs when homeowners knowingly misrepresent their intended use of a residence. Since Covid 19 struck, it’s on the rise. The government is looking for signs of fraud. Here’s what you need to know. 

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