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New Tax Season

by Phyllis Wiesenfelder
I hope your 2018 is off to a great start.
 
With a new year comes a new tax season and, this year, a new tax law, which went into effect on January 1. While the tax changes will not affect your 2017 filing, it is advisable to be aware of what is in store for next year.   Hopefully, this letter will help you on that front as it relates to your real estate holdings/investments.
 
The number of income tax brackets remains the same, but they include lower tax rates. The new tax bill also eliminates or reduces several itemized deductions, including moving expenses except with military households, interest on home equity loans unless used for home improvements, and more. 
 
Here are a few important real estate-related results of the new tax bill to keep in mind.
 
Mortgage interest deductions are now limited to a combined $750,000 of debt for both primary residences and second homes for any loans taken out after Dec. 14, 2017. Current homeowners with loans made before that date, however, are grandfathered into the previous deduction, which allowed a combined debt limit up to $1 million.  
 
State and local tax deductions are now capped at a combined $10,000 – this includes state and local property, income and sales taxes. This will largely affect taxpayers in higher-tax states.
 
Capital gains tax exclusions remain the same when you sell your house. Married couples filing jointly can still exclude up to $500,000 when selling their primary home, as long as they’ve lived there two of the past five years.
 
Investment properties were largely unaffected by the new tax bill.  As such, you will continue to enjoy the same financial benefits for any investment property you currently own or those you may buy in the future.
 
While the inventory shortage will likely continue through 2018, this is a great time to invest in real estate. Homes are appreciating, interest rates on mortgage loans are still around historical lows and there are tax advantages for property and business owners. 
 
As always, if you have any real estate-related questions, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to helping you (and anyone you know) with your future real estate needs. 
 
 
 
*The information contained in this letter is not intended to be and does not constitute financial or investment advice.

Should I Buy a Home Now?

by Phyllis Wiesenfelder

I'm often asked if this is a good time to buy a home. Some clients are concerned that home prices may fall further than they have already. They are assuming that the best course of action is to wait for the bottom in the market and then buy. The problem with this approach is that you don't know where the bottom is until you see it in the rear view mirror, meaning until you've missed it!

Home prices are one factor in determining your cost of ownership, but so are interest rates and financing availability. Even though interest rates have gone up in the last six months, they are still near historic lows. Since your monthly mortgage payment is a combination of paying down your principal and paying the interest owed, if home prices come down a little further but interest rates go up, it could cost you even more to service a mortgage on an identical home!

While a home is a major investment, it is also the center of your personal life. It's important to live in a home that reflects your taste and values, yet is within your financial "comfort zone." To that end, it may be more important to lock in today's relatively low interest rates and low home prices, rather than to hope for a further break in prices in the future.

Please give me a call if I can be of any assistance in determining how much home you can afford in today's market.

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Phyllis Wiesenfelder
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.
4650 East West Highway
Bethesda MD 20814
Direct: (301)215-6915
Mobile: (301)529-3896
Fax: Office: 301-907-7600