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Michael Totman
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Buy a House in Worcester MA | Year End Real Estate Tax Situations

It’s here! Tax time is upon us. As we head back to work after the new year our thoughts will start to turn to “when will I get my W2? ” or “Can I deduct for my new house payment?”

This year it’s different, this is likely your first tax filing under the new tax laws that went into affect for 2018 income.  If you own, sold, or bought real estate in 2018 your tax bill is likely to change.

For a detailed guide on these changes please download and read my Tax Guide For Homeowners, and continue reading after the video for a quick summary.

One of the first steps in a good tax outcome is knowing a little bit about what you’re about to undertake.  By being aware of some of the expenses regarding homes that may not come up every year in a tax return, you’ll be able to point them out to your tax professional or seek more information from IRS.gov.

Look through this list of items for things that could affect your tax return.  Even if you have relied on the same tax professional for years to look out for your best interests, they need to be aware that there could be something different in this year’s return.

If you bought a home for a principal residence last year, check your closing statement and identify any points or pre-paid interest that you or the seller paid based on the mortgage you received.  These can be deducted on your Schedule A as qualified home interest if you itemize your deductions.  See Home Mortgage Interest Deduction | IRS Publication 936 (2018 version not released as of this newsletter).

Keep track of all money you spend on your home that might be considered a capital improvement.  Get in the habit of putting receipts for money spent on your home that is not the house payment or utility bills.  Repairs are not tax deductible but improvements, even small ones, can be added to the basis of your home which can lower the gain when the home is sold.  Years from now, your tax preparer can sift through them and determine whether they’re capital improvements or maintenance. See Increases to Basis | IRS Publication 523 Selling Your Home (2018 version not released as of this newsletter).

By making additional principal contributions with your mortgage payment, you’ll save interest, build equity and shorten the term of a fixed-rate mortgage.  See Equity Accelerator.

If you sold a home last year, the payoff on your old mortgage included interest from the last payment you made to the date of the payoff.  That interest is tax deductible.  You may need a breakdown of the payoff to the mortgage company; you should be able to get that from your closing officer.

If you refinanced your home, unlike a home purchase, points paid to refinance are not deductible as interest in the year paid; they must spread ratably over the life of the mortgage.  See Home Mortgage Interest Deduction | IRS Publication 936 (2018 version not released as of this newsletter).

For homeowners who have lost a spouse, there is an exception regarding the exclusion on the sale of a principal residence.  If the surviving spouse concludes a sale of the home within two years of the death of their spouse, they may exclude up to $500,000, instead of $250,000 for single taxpayers, of gain provided ownership and use tests are met prior to death.

The two-year period begins on the date of death and ends two years after that date.  See Sale of Main Home by Surviving Spouse | IRS Publication 523 Selling Your Home (2018 version not released as of this newsletter).

There could be significant tax consequences to a person selling a home that was received as a gift as compared to receiving the home through inheritance.  With a gift, the basis of the donor becomes the basis of the donee.  With inheritance, the heir usually gets a stepped-up basis and avoids potential unrecognized gain.  See Home Received as Inheritance | IRS Publication 523 Selling Your Home (2018 version not released as of this newsletter).

Click here to download a Homeowners Tax Guide.  This is meant for information purposes only and advice from a qualified tax professional should be sought to find out about your individual situation.

Buy a Home in Worcester MA | What Makes Your House a Home?

You make your monthly mortgage payment, you pay your insurance for the year, and you even save money aside for repairs.  Sure, we frequently talk about why it makes sense to buy a home financially, but more often than not the emotional reasons are the more powerful or compelling ones.  There are many reasons a house becomes a home, let’s take a look at a few.

No matter what shape or size your living space is, the concept and feeling of a home can mean different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the emotional reasons why we choose to buy our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones.

1. Owning your home offers more stability to start and raise a family

From the best neighborhoods to the best school districts, even those without children at the time of purchase may have this in the back of their minds as a major reason for choosing the location of the home that they purchase.

2. There’s no place like your home

Owning your own home offers you not only safety and security, but also a comfortable place that allows you to relax after a long day!

 

3. You have more space for you and your family to spread out

Whether your family is expanding, an older family member is moving in, or you need to have a large backyard for your pets, you can take all this into consideration when buying your dream home!

4. You have control over renovations, updates, and style – yes we all have our unique style

Looking to actually try one of those complicated wall treatments that you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Or maybe you want to finally adopt that puppy or kitten you’ve seen online 100 times? Who’s to say that you can’t do all of these things in your own home?

Bottom Line

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that make a house a home.

If you’re ready to make the jump into home ownership here in Massachusetts then please give me a call. I’d love to help turn one of these houses into your home! Call me and my team, I’m Mike Totman at Bridge Realty – 508.386.5000!

Sell My Home in Worcester MA | Are Home Prices Headed Up or Down Next Year?

Do you have a house near Worcester, MA? Well if you do live near Worcester you may know there has been a lot of buzz about this area lately, so much so that it is now recognized as an up and coming area to live in national discussions.

There are many questions about where home prices will be next year as well as where they may be headed over the next several years to come. We have gathered the most reliable sources to help answer these questions:

The Home Price Expectation Survey – A survey of over 100 market analysts, real estate experts, and economists conducted by Pulsenomics each quarter.

 

Zelman & Associates – The firm leverages unparalleled housing market expertise, extensive surveys of industry executives, and rigorous financial analysis to deliver proprietary research and advice to leading global institutional investors and senior-level company executives.

Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) – As the leading advocate for the real estate finance industry, the MBA enables members to successfully deliver fair, sustainable, and responsible real estate financing within ever-changing business environments.

Freddie Mac – An organization whose mission is to provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the U.S. housing market in all economic conditions extending to all communities from coast to coast.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) – The largest association of real estate professionals in the world.

Fannie Mae – A leading source of financing for mortgage lenders, providing access to affordable mortgage financing in all markets always.

Here are their projections of prices going forward:

Where are Home Values Headed over the Next Few Years? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Every source sees home prices continuing to appreciate – just at lower percentages as we move through the next several years.

If you have thought about selling your home in Worcester, MA any time soon, or are just curious as to what it might be worth, then now may be the perfect time! Give me and my team a call today! I’m Mike Totman at Bridge Realty, 508.386.5000!

Buy a Home in Worcester MA | Where Are Home Values Headed Over The Next Few Years?

If you live in Massachusetts, specifically near Worcester, you may know there has been a lot of buzz about this area lately, so much so that it is now recognized as an up and coming area to live in national discussions.

There are many questions about where home prices will be next year as well as where they may be headed over the next several years to come. We have gathered the most reliable sources to help answer these questions:

The Home Price Expectation Survey – A survey of over 100 market analysts, real estate experts, and economists conducted by Pulsenomics each quarter.

 

Zelman & Associates – The firm leverages unparalleled housing market expertise, extensive surveys of industry executives, and rigorous financial analysis to deliver proprietary research and advice to leading global institutional investors and senior-level company executives.

Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) – As the leading advocate for the real estate finance industry, the MBA enables members to successfully deliver fair, sustainable, and responsible real estate financing within ever-changing business environments.

Freddie Mac – An organization whose mission is to provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the U.S. housing market in all economic conditions extending to all communities from coast to coast.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) – The largest association of real estate professionals in the world.

Fannie Mae – A leading source of financing for mortgage lenders, providing access to affordable mortgage financing in all markets always.

Here are their projections of prices going forward:

Where are Home Values Headed over the Next Few Years? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Every source sees home prices continuing to appreciate – just at lower percentages as we move through the next several years.

If you’re interested in buying a home in Worcester, MA any time soon then now may be the perfect time! Give me and my team a call today! I’m Mike Totman at Bridge Realty, 508.386.5000!

Buy a Home in Massachusetts | What It Costs To NOT Own Your Home

Are you a renter in Massachusetts but you think you might want to buy a house soon?  What’s holding you back? Now is a great time to buy a home in Massachusetts and I’d like to talk with you about why that is.

Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue to rent! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for the entirety of America’s existence.

Realtor.com reported that:

“Buying remains the more attractive option in the long term – that remains the American dream, and it’s true in many markets where renting has become really the shortsighted option…as people get more savings in their pockets, buying becomes the better option.”

What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?

1. In a previous blog, we highlighted the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:

  • Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
  • Homeownership provides tax savings.
  • Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
  • Buying a home is cheaper than renting.
  • No other investment lets you live inside of it.

2. Studies have shown that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter.

3. Less than a month ago, we explained that a family that purchased an average-priced home at the beginning of 2018 could build more than $49,000 in family wealth over the next five years.

4. Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of taxes and home repairs, but every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs are already baked into the rent payment – along with a profit margin!

Bottom Line

Owning your home has many social and financial benefits that cannot be achieved by renting.

If you’re interested in what it would take to buy a home today then give me a call or check out my free guides on what you should consider when buying a home.  I’m Mike Totman with Bridge Realty, 508.386.5000!

Sell My Home In Massachusetts | Are Home Prices Softening Or Falling?

So what’s going on with Massachusetts real estate?  Is the sky starting to fall, are we only just beginning, what do all these crazy headlines mean?

We are beginning to see reports that more housing inventory is coming to the market and that buyer demand may not be increasing at the same pace it did earlier this year. The result will be many headlines written to address the impact that these two situations will have on home values.

Many of these headline writers will confuse “softening home prices” with “falling home prices,” but there is a major difference between the two.

The data will begin to show that home values are not appreciating at the same levels as they had over the last several years (softening prices). This does NOT mean that prices are depreciating (falling prices).

Here is an example: Over the last several years, national home values increased by more than 6% annually. If you had a home worth $300,000 at the beginning of the year, it would be worth $318,000 by year’s end. If the appreciation rate “falls” to 4%, that $300,000 house would be worth $312,000 at the end of next year – a $6,000 difference.

The price of the home did not fall. It just didn’t increase at the level it had the previous year.

Appreciation rates are projected to end this year at approximately 5%, and then drop to somewhere between 4-5% next year. This drop in appreciation rate will cause home price increases to soften.

Again, this does not mean that home prices will depreciate, but instead that they will appreciate more slowly.

Bottom Line

Be careful when reading headlines that discuss home values. Some headline writers will be legitimately confused and will use the word falling in place of softening. Others will realize that the headline “Home Prices are Falling!” will get more clicks than “Home Prices are Softening” and will intentionally write the more compelling headline. Read the article. If the word depreciation is not mentioned, home values are not falling.

If you want the real scoop on what’s happening with real estate in your area then give me and my team a call. I’m Mike Totman at Bridge Realty, call me at 508.386.5000 today!

How Much Has Your Home Increased In Value In The Last 12 Months?

Here in Massachusetts the economy is doing very well with strong job prospect, low unemployment, and solid real estate prices. But if you’ve thought of selling your home for one reason or another but balked because you didn’t think you had enough equity then you might want to reconsider listing now.

Home values have risen dramatically over the last twelve months. In CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, they revealed that national home prices have increased by 6.2% year-over-year.

CoreLogic broke down appreciation even further into four price ranges, giving us a more detailed view than if we had simply looked at the year-over-year increases in national median home price.

The chart below shows the four price ranges from the report, as well as each one’s year-over-year growth from July 2017 to July 2018 (the latest data available). 

How Much Has Your Home Increased in Value? | MyKCM

It is important to pay attention to how prices are changing in your local market. The location of your home is not the only factor which determines how much your home has appreciated over the course of the last year.

Lower-priced homes have appreciated at greater rates than homes at the upper ends of the spectrum due to demand from first-time home buyers and baby boomers looking to downsize.

Bottom Line

If you are planning to list your home for sale in today’s market, let’s get together to go over exactly what’s going on in your area and your price range.

Now is a great time to sell your home in Massachusetts and either move up to a larger house or downsize to a smaller home. Whatever your reasons, I’m here to help! Give me and my team at Bridge Realty a call today. I’m Mike Totman, 508.386.5000!

Is Home ownership Hereditary?

Many things, both good and bad, are passed down to us from our parents.  We always want to be the generation to break out of that cycle and go on to familial glory right? “I’m the first of my family to graduate…” “I’m the first of my family to be a professional….” the list goes on.  Well it turns out home ownership may be one of those things passed down to us from our family too.  If you want to perpetuate or break the cycle in your family then reach out to me and let’s go buy a house in Massachusetts!

There are many things that factor into the decision to buy a home. New research from the Urban Institute suggests that one of those things may be inherited from your parents.

Children are More Likely to Own a Home if Their Parents Did

According to an analysis of millennial homeowners, the homeownership rate of those whose parents rent their homes is 14.4%, while the rate amongst millennials whose parents are homeowners is 31.7%!

“A young adult’s odds of homeownership are highly correlated with their parent’s homeownership.

Without controlling for such factors as age, income, education, marital status, and race or ethnicity, there is a 17 percentage-point gap between the homeownership rate for young adults whose parents are renters and young adults whose parents are homeowners.”

The study also revealed that as a parent’s net worth increases, so does the likelihood that their child will own a home. These two findings are not surprising as we know from the Survey of Consumer Finances that a homeowner’s net worth is 44x greater than that of a renter.

So, a parent who is a homeowner will have more wealth which will, in turn, increase the chances that their children will own their own homes in the future.

Below is a breakdown of the relationship between a parent’s wealth and a millennial’s likelihood to own a home.

Homeownership is a Dominant Gene | MyKCM

The Good News: The high homeownership rate amongst baby boomers (likely the parents of many millennials) is a great sign that millennials will want to own homes. We are already seeing this in the high-demand environment that we are currently experiencing in the starter and trade-up markets.

Bottom Line

Even though millennials took longer than many of the generations before them to start home searches of their own, the data shows that they will not be waiting much longer!

So if you’d like to buy your first home or want to move up to bigger and better (or even downsize) then give me and my team a call. I’m Mike Totman at Bridge Realty, 508.386.5000!

The Four REAL Reasons To Buy A Home

There are plenty of reasons to buy a home in Massachusetts; it’s sound financial planning, it’s nice to plant roots, and you have more control over your housing.  Here are the top four reasons for buying a home in Berlin, Boylston, Hudson, Massachusetts, or anywhere!
4 REAL Reasons Why We Buy A Home! | MyKCM

We often talk about why it makes financial sense to buy a home, but more often than not, the emotional reasons are the more powerful or compelling ones.

No matter what shape or size your living space is, the concept and feeling of home can mean different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the emotional reasons why we choose to buy our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones.

1. Owning your home offers you the stability to start and raise a family

Between the best neighborhoods and the best school districts, even buyers without children at the time of purchase may have these things in mind as major reasons for choosing the locations of the homes that they purchase.

2. There’s no place like home

Owning your own home offers you not only safety and security, but also a comfortable place that allows you to relax after a long day!

3. You have more space for you and your family

Whether your family is expanding, an older family member is moving in, or you need to have a large backyard for your pets, you can take this all into consideration when buying your dream home!

4. You have control over renovations, updates, and style

Looking to actually try one of those complicated wall treatments that you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit in your apartment building? Or maybe you want to finally adopt that puppy or kitten you’ve seen online 100 times? Who’s to say that you can’t do just that in your own home?

Bottom Line

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that make a house a home.

Let me help you find your next home, I’m Mike Totman at Bridge Realty, 508.386.5000!

Sell My Home In Massachusetts: How To Get The Best Price For Your Home

You put a lot of effort into making your house a home, and now you’d like to reap some rewards by selling your house in Massachusetts and moving on to the next stage in life.  So how can you make sure you get the most out of this deal?
Selling Your Home? Here’s 2 Ways to Get the Best Price! | MyKCM

Every homeowner wants to make sure that they maximize their financial reward when selling their home, but how do you guarantee that you receive the maximum value for your house?

Here are two ways to ensure that you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a Little Low

This may seem counterintuitive, but let’s take a look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their homes a little OVER market value will leave them with room for negotiation when, in actuality, it just dramatically lessens the demand for their houses (see chart below).

Selling Your Home? Here’s 2 Ways to Get the Best Price! | MyKCM

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price their house so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing so, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

Realtor.com gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This, too, may seem counterintuitive as the seller may think that he or she will make more money by avoiding a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by real estate professionals.

study by Collateral Analytics, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save any money, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs, when compared to MLS sales of similar properties, is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average sales price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.

For a free home price analysis give me and my team a call, we can make sure your home is priced right and you get the best price possible! I’m Mike Totman at Bridge Realty, 508.386.5000.