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Archives for December 2016 | monrovia homes for sale - monrovia real estate
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Tax Breaks for Some Monrovia Homeowners Set to Expire

 

If you are like most Monrovia homeowners, this is not the time of year you relish thinking about next year’s April 15 tap on the shoulder from Uncle Sam. Nonetheless, the calendar doesn’t lie. In a matter of days, New Year’s Eve will be here—and once the champagne corks have popped, it’s entirely possible if some t’s weren’t crossed and i’s dotted, Monrovia homeowners might accidentally miss a year-end tax break deadline.

Tax advice is best left to your own Monrovia financial advisor, which is why I don’t offer any myself. But some useful articles have recently surfaced (in Forbes, Trulia, TheFiscalTimes, among others) highlighting three of the tax provisions that are set to expire at the end of 2016. A few of them could affect some Monrovia homeowners’ bank balances come tax time.

If any of these sound like they could impinge on your own situation, it’s probably a good idea to check in with your financial advisor to see if action is warranted before year’s end. Here are some of the areas involved:

  1. Energy-saving home improvement. Homeowners have been able to take advantage of all sorts of qualified energy efficiency improvements to gain various tax breaks—some of which even apply to second homes, too. Going green has resulted in some bank account green, too—but many (if not most) of these breaks are expected to expire this year.
  2. Mortgage insurance. Sometimes abbreviated as PMI (for “private mortgage insurance”), this is the product that protects lenders in the event of default. It’s sometimes required for borrowers whose down payments are below a certain level. Existing law allows taxpayers to deduct PMI payments along with their mortgage interest—but the PMI portion is set to expire at year’s end.
  3. Mortgage debt. Following the financial meltdown, Congress moved to allow struggling homeowners who lost their homes to foreclosure, or who benefitted from any form of debt forgiveness, to escape taxation on the amount saved. But that exemption expires on December 31 of this year unless a qualifying written agreement has been recorded before then. The details are definitely best directed to your tax expert!

The lists of expiring tax breaks are generally accompanied by some if’s and likely to’s because Congress sometimes extends them during their last pre-holiday session—or re-enacts them later on. But as you probably suspect, counting on that would be risky business.

Monrovia homeowners who don’t see any familiar categories in that list can now breathe a sigh of relief and go back to their other holiday matters. Meantime, I’ll be here at the office, ready as always to help out with any and all Monrovia real estate matters!

Is it Ladies’ Day for First-Time Home Buyers?

Some breakthrough good news has come to light. It deals with first-time home buyers.

Across the U.S., first-time home buyers have been staging a disappearing act for a worrisome long time. The causes were pretty universal across much of the country: a sluggish economic recovery and tight labor market contributed to the national phenomenon. Rises in residential prices haven’t helped those seeking to become new homeowners locally.

For homeowners who follow such things, the phenomenon was slowly becoming a worrisome fact—one that didn’t look like it was going away anytime soon. When you own a home, its value as collateral and at sale depends on a healthy real estate market—one that supports sustainable activity.

That means that new buyers should appear in numbers at least equal to those who seek to sell and move on. If fewer and fewer new buyers appear…well, that can’t be good over the long haul. The fact that the percentage of first-time home buyers had been dwindling for three straight years was the statistical equivalent of fingernails on a blackboard.

The new edition of the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers is the annual compilation of activity across the nation. The Profile has been a yearly fixture since 1981, making it the longest-running continuous series of measurements of who is buying and selling residences in the United States. If you are taking a reading of the market, it’s one of the most valuable gauges out there. But even before the recent reports of returning economic optimism, it’s now clear that a reversal had been underway for a while. This latest Profile marks a turnaround in first-timer activity: they’re back.

Real estate watchers were already well aware of the continuing gradual rise in U.S. home prices, but the new information shows a bounce back toward a more normal market makeup. A second move in that direction also surfaced: the proportion of single female buyers, which also had been on the decline, showed a return toward normal. According to this year’s report, their numbers increased to about 17% of total purchases (not including investment and vacation home purchases). That is slightly more than twice the number of single male buyers—which is close to what is normally expected.

For first-time home buyers as well as others in all categories, the majority given for choosing homeownership was a traditional one: the appeal of owning a place of their own. Also frequently cited was “renter fatigue”—a phenomenon that surfaces whenever homeowners are seeing their equity on the rise.

This all comes as cheering news as we head toward the new year. If 2017 looks to be a year when your own real estate plans come into focus, I hope you’ll consider giving me a call to discuss how I can help turn those plans into reality!

Top 9 Showing Offenses for Houses for Sale

Real estate articles that are really just lists are now being called “listicles”—and there are certainly plenty of them around. The other day one appeared that just had to be read: Bankrate’s “7 things that could turn off homebuyers.”

The actual listicle may not have been the product of much real research into houses for sale, but it was amusing. In the best social media tradition, I’d like to add a few thoughts in order to come up with a modified/improved “7 things” (for starters, there are 9):

9 Things Bound to Offend Today’s Homebuyers

  1. Monkeys
  2. All right, that first requires an explanation. It headed up the Bankrate list, with a picture of a rhesus macaque clinging to a balcony railing. I’d have to agree that monkeys freewheeling around a house for sale might drive some potential buyers away. Make number 2: uncaged rabbits.
  3. Animal trophies. Better to pack them up. Dead animals can offend some non-Ernest Hemmingway fans.
  4. I think an American flag is okay, but Confederate flags just get people thinking about controversy instead of the house.
  5. Sports teams memorabilia. This one is questionable, especially in a nicely understated den or TV room. Trash-talking posters, not so much.
  6. The Bankrate article was describing artwork—the point being that for some homebuyers, even tasteful artwork produces a degree of shock value. Universally showable homes strive to avoid shock value.
  7. Locked rooms. Bankrate called this phenomenon ‘Mystery rooms’—but the effect is always the same: curiosity that’s not helpful. If the idea is to help potential  buyers to picture themselves as owners, a locked door works against the goal.
  8. Odors (bad or exotic ones, that is). Our sense of smell is a powerful memory trigger, and if the lingering aroma of a cigar or onions predominates, it could easily make buyers associate the property with something in their past. Whether the “something” is good or bad is anyone’s guess.
  9. Even if the potential buyers turn out to be exactly your kind of people, that too is a distraction from the business at hand. It’s hard enough for buyers to visit a series of properties and remember which place had which features—so it’s a relief for them not to have to go through the social niceties of meeting new people—owners included.

This should be a fairly non-controversial listicle. Once we’ve all agreed that the monkey should step out for a coffee with its owners while the showing is in progress, the rest will be easy to accept. For other proven ways to speed your own  house for sale into the ‘sold’ category, give me a call anytime!


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