New tax legislation was signed into law at the end of 2017, and it included some significant changes for homeowners. These changes took effect in 2018 and do not influence your 2017 taxes. Here’s a brief overview of this year’s tax changes and how they may affect you.
The amount of mortgage interest you can deduct has decreased.
Under the old law taxpayers could deduct the interest they paid on a mortgage of up to $1 million. The new law reduces the mortgage interest deduction from $1 million to $750,000.
These changes do not affect mortgages taken out before December 15, 2017.
The home equity loan deduction has been changed.
The IRS states that despite newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labeled. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, enacted December 22, suspends the deduction for interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit unless they are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan. The deduction would be suspended from 2018 until 2026.
The property tax deduction is capped at $10,000.
Previously taxpayers could deduct all the state, local and foreign real estate taxes they paid with no cap on the amount. The new law limits the deduction for all state and local taxes – including income, sales, real estate, and personal property taxes – to $10,000.
The casualty loss deduction has been repealed.
Previously, homeowners could deduct unreimbursed casualty, disaster and theft losses on their property. That deduction has been repealed, with an exception for losses on property located in a federally declared disaster area – an important victory!
The capital gains exclusion remains unchanged.
Homeowners can continue to exclude up to $500,000 for joint filers or $250,000 for single filers for capital gains when selling their primary residence as long as they have lived in the home for two of the past five years. An earlier proposal would have increased that requirement to five out of the last eight years and phase out the exclusion for high-income households, but it was struck down.
How does tax reform affect your plans for buying or selling a home?
The changes in real estate related taxes may change your strategy. Contact one of our agents to go over your options and answer any questions you may have.
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The local real estate market set new home price records in many parts of the region in February. Prices here have grown faster than anywhere else in the country for the last 16 months in a row. Demand remains high and inventory very low. Brokers are hoping the normal seasonal increase in listings this spring will help give buyers some relief.
With home prices soaring on the Eastside, it’s not a matter of whether the median price will exceed a million dollar, but when. February brought the market very close to that milestone. The median price of a single-family home increased 14 percent to a record $950,000 on the Eastside, surpassing the previous peak recorded in December.
The red-hot job market in King County continues to outpace nearly every area in the nation. Well-paid workers looking to buy close to city centers have fueled a growing competition for a shrinking number of homes. That demand boosted the median price of a single-family home up 16 percent over a year ago to $649,950.
The median price of a single-family home in Seattle hit a new high of $777,000 in February, $20,000 more than the previous record set in January and up 14 percent from the same time last year. Despite the sharp increase in prices, multiple offers have become the norm for most properties. It remains to be seen if recent interest rate hikes will have a moderating effect on home values.
After several months of moderating growth, Snohomish County set a new record for home prices in February. The median price of a single-family homes jumped 18 percent to an all-time high of $485,000. Inventory is down from a year ago, with less than a month’s supply of homes available for sale.
If you are considering buying a home in today’s market, here are three things to consider:
- Make sure you can afford the payments.
- Choose a location that will appeal to you long-term.
- Be committed to living there for a minimum of five to seven years.
This post originally appeared on the WindermereEastside.com blog.
|Outdoor living during the spring and summer months is extremely popular. Months of cold, wet winters are followed by glorious spring colors and warm summer days of vivid blue skies. In this post, we thought that now would be the best time to share some pretty garden trends for 2018.|
|Leisure time should be just that: relaxing and rejuvenating. So why labor relentlessly to create and maintain a perfect landscape? Wabi-sabi, is the Japanese art of accepting transience and imperfect beauty. Relax and appreciate nature as it is, with humble imperfections, weeds and all. Recognize (and tell others) that dandelions and clover in untreated lawns are not blights. They are status symbols for ecological horticulture. Consider natural grasses and groundcovers as low-maintenance substitutes for sod. Opt for perennials instead of annuals, let flowers go to seed and give nature license to evolve on her own.|
Reclaiming Small Outside Spaces
|For many of us these days, space is at a premium and with house prices continually on the rise, more and more people are living in apartment blocks or tiny lots. Garden designers are determined to make even the smallest of spaces useful and attractive, and manufacturers have taken notice. Look for a better choice in planters that slot onto balcony rails. New models will have coverings for protecting plants from cold temperatures so that you can even grow seeds and vegetables on your balcony alongside your flowers.
Self-watering wall planter systems have been improved for 2018 and the hanging macramé plant holder is having a bit of a revival. Add a small patio heater and you have an outside space you can enjoy all year round with minimal effort.
|Pantone’s Ultra Violet is the color of the year. Maybe that’s why you find purple flowers in this year’s plant varieties and garden design. It’s easy to incorporate this color in the garden as there are many flowers and shrubs with this beautiful color. However, there are also several edible purple plants that you can grow. Purple vegetables are not only interesting and pretty, their unique color denote anthocyanins which are very beneficial to your health.|
|This is a style that keeps popping up time and again. However, 2018 has taken the re-wilding trend up another notch. It is still all about working with nature, growing wildflowers and supporting our pollinating insects. Re-wilding means adjusting plant selections to better support local wildlife and growing both seed-producing and berry-bearing plants. However, now it is also about using ‘green’ gardening products, natural solutions to bug and slug killers instead of chemicals and insecticides and using peat-free products.|
|Outdoor entertaining and kitchen areas are tipped to be a key trend for Spring/Summer 2018. We are not talking about a little nook corner just off the kitchen. Alfresco dining spaces are being pushed out into the garden itself and made into a major feature. These dedicated outdoor dining areas are surrounded by in-ground and container plants for that lush feeling. Special flooring, comfy furniture and mood lighting turn it into a little haven. Complete the trend with a sunken fire pit, barbecue or pizza oven and you might never want to leave.|
Lighting The Way
|Adding lighting to your garden is not a new thing. However, in this age of renewable energy, garden lighting companies are turning away from the more traditional lighting solutions we have seen in the past. The advances in solar energy capture, means that we can light up our gardens in a variety of fun, affordable and better ways. No more changing batteries or wiring up the garden with electricity.
The wide range of lighting methods allows you to create whatever ambience you want. Simple stand-alone lights can mark pathways, either discreetly embedded into the path edges or standing loud and proud along the side. Multi-colored fairy lights can be tangled among the overhead branches of a tree creating dazzling shapes and textures. Solar Mason jars can be hung from above or used as table lighting. Festoon lights can create an ambient glow around any outdoor space creating romantic nooks.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.
Whether you’re starting a family, moving for your job, getting ready to retire or embarking on a new chapter in your life, when your home no longer suits your current situation, it’s time to think about selling it. Although this can be a bit complicated, with the help of your agent, you can minimize the hassles, get the best possible price, and shorten the distance between “For Sale” and “Sold”.
Price it right
If you want to get the best possible price for your home and minimize the time it stays on market, you need to price it correctly from the beginning. Your agent can give you a clear picture of your particular market and can provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA). A CMA contains detailed information on comparable homes in your area, including square footage, date built, number of bedrooms, lot size and more. It lists pending sales and houses sold in your area in the past six months, along with their actual sale prices.
By comparing your home to similar homes in your neighborhood and reviewing their list prices and actual selling prices, your agent can help you arrive at a fact-based assessment of your home’s market price.
Prepping your house for sale
You want to make a positive first impression when you list your home for sale. Here are some tips on how to enhance your home’s best features:
Work on your curb appeal
Get rid of moss on your roof. Power wash your front walk, porch, deck and patio. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, weed the flowerbeds and add spots of color with container plants. Clean all the windows inside and out and repair them if they don’t open and close easily.
Refresh, repair and repaint
This goes for interiors and exteriors. If you see peeling paint, add a fresh coat. If your living room is bright lime green, consider painting it a more neutral shade. Make necessary repairs. You don’t want to turn off a buyer with a dripping faucet, a broken doorbell, a clogged downspout or a cracked windowpane.
Deep-clean, from floor to ceiling
Clean rugs, drapes and blinds and steam-clean carpeting. Get rid of any stains or odors. Make sure kitchen appliances, cupboards and counters are spotless and that bathrooms shine.
Declutter and depersonalize
Clean, light-filled, expansive rooms sell houses. So be sure to downsize clutter everywhere in your home, including cupboards, closets and counters. You might also consider storing some furniture or personal items to make rooms look more spacious. Take advantage of views and natural light by keeping drapes and blinds open.
Make an impact on the market
If you want to sell your home, you need to go where the buyers are, and today they’re on the Internet. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, in 2012 90 percent of homebuyers used the Internet as an information source, and for 41 percent of homebuyers it was the first step in the home-buying process.
By working with your agent, you can list your home on Windermere.com and other relevant websites. He or she will put together a listing with attractive photos, an appealing description and all the information a potential buyer needs. Your agent will also market your house, which may include advertising, direct mail and open houses.
Show your house
After you’ve taken care of all the repairs and cleaning tasks outlined above, your home is ready for its close-up: an open house. It’s actually best for you and your family to leave when potential buyers are present so they can ask your agent questions. But before you go, you might want to:
· Take your pets with you
· Open the shades and turn on the lights
· Light a fire in the gas fireplace
· Bake cookies
· Keep money, valuables and prescription drugs out of sight
Be flexible in negotiating
If you get offers below your asking price, there are a number of strategies you can try in your counteroffer. You could ask for full price and throw in major appliances that were not originally included in the asking price, offer to pay some of the buyer’s fees, or pay for the inspection. You could also counter with a lower price and not include the appliances. If you receive multiple offers, you can simply make a full-price counter.
Your agent can suggest other strategies as well and help you negotiate the final price.
If your house doesn’t sell or you’ve received only lowball offers, ask your agent to find out what these prospective buyers are saying about your house. It might reveal something you can consider changing to make your house more appealing in the future.
Breeze through your inspection
When a buyer makes an offer on your home, it’s usually contingent on a professional inspection. A standard inspection includes heating and cooling, interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; and the foundation, basement and visible structure. The inspector will be looking for cracks in cement walls, water stains and wood rot.
You can always opt for having an inspection done prior to putting your house on the market, so you can address any potential problems in advance. Your agent can give you several recommendations for qualified inspectors in your area.
Close with confidence
Whether this is your first time or your tenth, your agent can help guide you though the complex process of selling a home. Moreover, he or she can answer any questions you may have about legal documents, settlement costs and the status of your sale.
Your agent’s expertise, resources and extensive network also work for you when you’re buying your next house. Even if you’re moving out of the area, your agent can refer you to a professional agent in your new community.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere Blog.
The Windermere Foundation had another banner year in 2017, raising even more than it did the prior year thanks to the continued support of Windermere franchise owners, agents, staff, and the community. Over $2.4 million was raised in 2017, which is an increase of eight percent over the previous year. This brings our total to over $35.5 million raised since the start of the Windermere Foundation in 1989.
A portion of the money raised last year is thanks to our agents who each make a donation to the Windermere Foundation from every commission they earn. Additional donations from Windermere agents, the community, and fundraisers made up 66% of the money collected in 2017. These funds enable our offices to support local non-profits that provide much-needed services to low-income and homeless families in their communities.
SUMMARY OF FUNDS, GRANTS & DONATIONS IN 2017
- Organizations served: 472
- Number of individual grants fulfilled: 644
- Average grant amount: $2,964.04
- Average donation to the Windermere Foundation: $116.08
- Total amount disbursed in 2017: $2,249,357.14
- Total disbursed through grants: $1,908,843.54
- Scholarships: 5%
- Youth/Child Programs: 33%
- Emergency Assistance: 24%
- Shelter: 11%
- School Assistance: 5%
- Education/Counseling: 12%
- Administrative Expenses: 2%
- Fundraising Expenses: 8%
So how are Windermere Foundation funds used? Windermere offices decide for themselves how to distribute the money in their local community. Our offices have helped support school lunch and afterschool programs, housing assistance for homeless families, food banks, homeless shelters, and non-profits that provide basic necessities, such as shoes, clothing, toiletries, and blankets to families in need.
A very notable day in 2017 for the Windermere Foundation was November 15, when a record-breaking $253,782 was given in a single day. A total of 35 non-profit organizations benefitted from that day’s donations, including Attain Housing in Kirkland, WA, which received $56,000 from the Windermere Real Estate East, Inc. group of offices. Other organizations that received donations were Boys and Girls Club of Contra Costa in Walnut Creek, CA, and the Shady Cove School in Shady Cove, Oregon.
2017 also marked the second year of our #tacklehomelessness campaign with the Seattle Seahawks, in which Windermere committed to donating $100 for every Seahawks home game defensive tackle to YouthCare, a non-profit organization that provides critical services to homeless youth. While the Seahawks didn’t make it to the playoffs this year, they did help us raise $31,800. When added to last year’s $35,000, that’s a total donation of $66,800. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide additional support to homeless youth thanks to the Seahawks, YouthCare, and the #tacklehomelessness campaign.
Thanks to our agents, offices, and everyone who supports the Windermere Foundation, we are able to continue to make a difference in the lives of many families in our local communities. If you’d like to help support programs in your community, please click the Donate button.
To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation.
What lies ahead for the local housing market in 2018? We sat down with Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner to get his thoughts. Here are some highlights:
Home prices will continue to increase, but at a slower pace
The strong local economy, high demand and very low inventory will continue to boost home values in 2018, according to Gardner. However, he believes that the double-digit growth of 2017 will moderate, and predicts home prices in King County will rise by 8.5% in the new year.
Mortgage interest rates will rise slightly.
Gardner admits that interest rates continue to baffle forecasters. The rise that many economists have predicted the past few years has yet to materialize. His forecast for 2018 sees interest rates increasing modestly to an average of 4.4% for a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.
More Millennials will enter the housing market.
Despite the relatively high cost of homes in our region, Gardner expects more Millennials to buy homes in 2018. They are getting older and more established in their careers, enabling them to save more money for a down payment. Many are also having children and are looking for a place to raise their family.
The tax reform bill will have a limited effect on our housing market.
The recent changes to the income tax structure will have an impact on homeowners, but Gardner does not believe that impact will be significant here.
The mortgage interest rate deduction will be capped at $750,000 – down from $1,000,000. But according to Gardner, just 4% of the mortgages in King County exceeded $750,000 in 2017. Most buyers of more expensive homes have been making larger down payments, or buying homes for cash.
Since the $1,000,000 mortgage deduction cap is grandfathered in for those who have already purchased a home, some homeowners may opt to stay put rather than move. That could result in fewer homes being placed on the market.
- The tax bill eliminates the deduction for interest on home equity loans. This is bound to slow down the trend of homeowners choosing to remodel their home rather than trying to find a new home our inventory-deprived market.
The increase in home prices may moderate, but inventory will still be very tight. 2018 is on track to be a strong seller’s market.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere Eastside Blog.
Every year, Windermere offices throughout the Western U.S. host events to help make the holidays a little brighter for our neighbors in need. From food drives to fundraisers, here are just a few examples of how our offices are giving back this holiday season.
Our office at Windermere Redmond participated in the Friends of Youth Giving Tree by setting up a tree in their office with gift tags for youth aged 16 to 25 that are either homeless or transitioning into a home for the first time. Brokers then selected gift tags and purchased the gifts to be delivered to Friends of Youth. Friends of Youth provides services to at-risk youth and homeless young people at 25 sites in 18 cities. In 2016, they helped over 6,500 youth and their families in crisis.
The Windermere Seattle-Ballard office has been busy hosting events to raise money for the Windermere Foundation. The first was a Sip & Swap event where they hosted a holiday dresses/clothing swap and asked for donations for each item. Proceeds benefitted the Ballard Senior Center and a total of $651 was raised. They also hosted a Monday Night Football event at Lagunitas Brewery where beer proceeds from that night, totaling $827, were donated to the Ballard Food Bank. In December, they held a Windermere Boutique Day, where 13 local craft vendors came to sell their goods. A portion of all sales were donated to the Windermere Foundation.
The Windermere Ballard office also hosted their 13th annual Santa Photos event for the community. Over 100 people/families visited the office that day, with a suggested donation of $10 for each Santa photo taken. Around $1,000 was raised from the photos, along with an additional $316 in cash and checks.
Oak Harbor, WA
Agents with the Windermere Whidbey Island – Oak Harbor office are supporting Whidbey’s Hope For Christmas, an annual gift program made up of community volunteers providing special Christmas memories for all eligible children on Whidbey Island, through DSHS in Oak Harbor. The office is sponsoring several children by purchasing and donating $2,000 worth of gifts.
Windermere Real Estate & the Redmond Team would like to thank our offices and everyone that supports the Windermere Foundation. Through these events, as well as a variety of other fundraisers like the ones described above, the Windermere Foundation is able to support non-profit organizations that provide services to low-income and homeless families throughout the Western U.S.
If you’d like to help, please consider donating to the Windermere Foundation. To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation.
This blog post originally appeared on the Windermere Blog.