Are Closing Costs Tax Deductible Under the New Tax Law?

Are Closing Costs Tax Deductible Under the New Tax Law?
Man giving money

Are Closing Costs Tax Deductible Under the New Tax Law?

Here’s the scoop on what’s tax deductible when buying a house.


elps consumers make smart, confident decisions about all aspects of home ownership. Made possible by REALTORS®, the site helps owners get the most value and enjoyment from their existing home and helps buyers and sellers make the best deal possible.

Are You Getting the Home Tax Deductions You’re Entitled To?

Are You Getting the Home Tax Deductions You’re Entitled To?
Tax photo

Are You Getting the Home Tax Deductions You’re Entitled To?

Owning a home can pay off at tax time.

If you’re eligible, take advantage of these home ownership-related tax deductions and strategies to lower your tax bill:

Mortgage Interest Deduction

To claim the  mortgage interest deduction, you must itemize using Schedule A, and your mortgage must be secured by your pirmary or second home. That home can be a house, trailer, or boat, as long as you can sleep in it, cook in it, and it has a toilet.

Interest you pay on a mortgage of up to $1 million — or $500,000 if you’re married filing separately — is deductible when you use the loan to buy, build, or substantially improve your home.

If you take on another mortgage (including a second mortgage, home equity loan, or home equity line of credit) to improve your home or to buy or build a second home, that counts towards the $1 million limit, and the interest is still deductible.

If you use loans secured by your home for other things — like sending your kid to college — you can still deduct the interest on loans up $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately) because your home secures the loan. However, this rule changes for 2018, and the interest on such loans will no longer be deductible unless the proceeds are used to substantially improve a home.

Beginning with tax year 2018, the mortgage interest deduction cap is $750,000, and fewer people will likely itemize (and therefore take the MID) because of the increase in the standard deduction.

Prepaid Interest Deduction

Prepaid interest (or points) you paid when you took out your mortgage is generally 100% deductible in the year you paid it along with other mortgage interest. However, you must itemize to take it.

If you refinance your mortgage and use that money for home improvements, any points you pay are also deductible in the same year.

But if you refinance to get a better rate or shorten the length of your mortgage, or to use the money for something other than home improvements, such as college tuition, you’ll need to deduct the points over the life of your mortgage. Say you refi into a 10-year mortgage and pay $3,000 in points. You can deduct $300 per year for 10 years.

So what happens if you refi again down the road?

Example: Three years after your first refi, you refinance again. Using the $3,000 in points scenario above, you’ll have deducted $900 ($300 x 3 years) so far. That leaves $2,400, which you can deduct in full the year you complete your second refi. If you paid points for the new loan, the process starts again; you can deduct the points over the life of the loan.

Home mortgage interest and points are reported on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040.

Your lender will send you a Form 1098 that lists the points you paid. If not, you should be able to find the amount listed on the closing docs you got when you purchased your home or refinanced.

Property Tax Deduction

Again, for 2017, you can deduct on Schedule A the real estate property taxes you pay if you itemize, without limit. If you have a mortgage with an escrow account, the amount of real estate property taxes you paid shows up on your annual escrow statement.

For tax year 2018 and beyond, you can deduct local and state taxes, including property taxes, up to $10,000 combined. This again depends on whether you itemize, which many homeowners will not be able to do in 2018 due to a large increase in the standard deduction.

If you bought a house this year, check your closing documents to see if you paid any property taxes when you purchased your house. Those taxes are deductible on Schedule A, too.

Vacation Home Tax Deductions

The rules on tax deductions for vacation homes are complicated. Do yourself a favor and keep good records about how and when you use your vacation home.

If you’re the only one using your vacation home (you don’t rent it out for more than 14 days a year), you deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes on Schedule A.

Rent your vacation home out for more than 14 days and use it yourself fewer than 15 days (or 10% of total rental days, whichever is greater), and it’s treated like a rental property. Your expenses are deducted on Schedule E.

Rent your home for part of the year and use it yourself for more than the greater of 14 days or 10% of the days you rent it and you have to keep track of income, expenses, and allocate them based on how often you used and how often you rented the house.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice; tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.


elps consumers make smart, confident decisions about all aspects of home ownership. Made possible by REALTORS®, the site helps owners get the most value and enjoyment from their existing home and helps buyers and sellers make the best deal possible.

Home Buying Process

Home Buying Process
House Keys

Home Buying Process

CONSULTATION
Ideal Lending Solutions meets with you to discuss loan options and help you determine the right loan choice for your situation and financial goals.

PRE-APPROVAL
Ideal Lending Solutions issues your pre-approval and you start looking for a home with a real estate agent.

SEARCH FOR YOUR HOME
You search for your home. It is suggested to use a real estate agent, as they can help guide you in your search and negotiate the property price.

MAKE AN OFFER
Once you find your dream home, your real estate agent presents an offer. Once the offer is accepted, a closing date is set.

CONTRACT
You review and sign your contact with your real estate agent.

APPLICATION
Any remaining documents are required at this time. Once the contract has been submitted to Ideal Lending Solutions, the loan goes into processing.

APPRAISAL & INSPECTION
Ideal Lending Solutions orders appraisal, title report, insurance binder and other necessary documents. A home inspection takes place to determine any repairs needed.

PROCESSING
Receives and reviews all the documents, verifies all information and prepares the file for underwriting.

UNDERWRITING
Loan is conditionally approved or declined and underwriter asks for conditions. Homebuyer provides conditions.

HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE
A copy of the property appraisal and mortgagee clause must be provided to secure homeowners insurance policy.

CLEAR TO CLOSE
Final approval is issued and any final conditions are collected and satisfied. Loan is clear to close, closing documents are sent to the title company.

CLOSING SCHEDULED
It’s time to schedule the closing! You and your Realtor will be notified that your loan is clear to close and a closing date is scheduled.

FINAL WALK THROUGH
Borrowers complete one final walk-through of the property to approve condition of the home.

CLOSING
All parties sign the closing documents to finalize the purchase of your home.

IT’S MOVING TIME!
You’ve closed on your home and it’s time to move in. After closing, we will send you a customer satisfaction survey. We appreciate your participation and referrals.


*A pre-approval does not constitute a loan com-commitment or guarantee of a loan. Pre-approval is subject to a satisfactory appraisal, satisfactory title search, and no meaningful change to borrower’s financial condition.

6 Costs Homeowners Overlook and How to Pay for Them

6 Costs Homeowners Overlook and How to Pay for Them
6 cost blog photo

6 Costs Homeowners Overlook and How to Pay for Them

For many people, a house is the biggest investment they’ll ever make. And whether you’re a first-time homeowner or you’re buying your third property, you’re bound to end up covering some unexpected expenses. Here are six costs homeowners tend to overlook and how to pay for them:

1. Property taxes

Be prepared to pay property taxes and keep in mind that they rarely decrease. Homeowners often pay them every month along with their mortgage payments. If your loan is backed by the Federal Housing Administration, you’re required to have an escrow or impound account.

If you don’t have to make property tax payments through an escrow account, they may be due at the end of the year. In some counties, you might pay them in installments.

2. Homeowners association fees

Whenever you move into a new home or condominium, you become part of a community. In many cases, there are fees associated with the maintenance and general upkeep of shared common areas. The money collected might cover snow removal, landscaping or repairs to a meeting room.

Monthly homeowners association (HOA) fees for standard single-family homes tend to cost between $200-$300, but rates can vary depending on several factors, including how recently a housing community was built and the kinds of amenities that are available. That’s why it’s best to know how much fees cost upfront. In West Hollywood, Calif., for example, residents in Sierra Towers condos get access to a 24-hour concierge service and valet parking, but spend around $4,000 per month on HOA fees.

3. Insurance premiums

If you own a home, another cost you should include in your budget is insurance. The average annual homeowners insurance premium costs $1,120, according to recent data provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, but the amount you pay may be higher or lower based on where you live and the kind of policy you choose.

Homeowners insurance typically covers personal possessions, liability for injuries that take place on your property, the structure of your house and additional costs associated with living elsewhere if your home is severely damaged. If you live in an area prone to natural disasters, you might need a supplemental policy like flood insurance.

4. Repair and maintenance costs

Repairing or replacing a roof, furnace or air conditioner can be expensive, and at some point, you might have to address plumbing issues or trade in some old appliances.

The cost of home maintenance is another thing you’ll have to factor into the cost of homeownership. You’ll need money to keep your yard, gutters, carpet and everything in between in tip-top shape.

Financial experts generally recommend setting aside 1 percent of your home’s value to cover the cost of unexpected repairs and maintenance. If you’re trying to save money, you’re better off doing some of the work yourself. Just make sure you have enough funds for the materials you need to get the job done.

5. Costs associated with selling a home

Having a home that’s well-maintained not only lets you enjoy your house while you’re living there, but also prevents you from being saddled with additional costs when you’re ready to sell it.

Replacing your roof or furnace might be something you want to put off, but failing to make necessary repairs or meet demands made by potential homebuyers could hurt your market value or cost you a sale.

6. Pest control costs

Pests are a real concern for many homeowners. Over time, all sorts of critters—like termites, ants, spiders and rodents—might invade your home. Depending on how serious the problem is, you might need to fumigate your house.

If you’re interested in buying a home, make sure you hire an inspector to check for bugs and termites that could cause structural damage. While lenders don’t always require homebuyers to pay for pest inspections, it’s important to have one done. You don’t want to close on a house only to find out later that there’s an issue. Termite inspections generally cost between $75-$150, according to Angie’s List.

Build a rainy day fund!

It’s always better to be prepared for a storm than to be caught in a downpour without an umbrella. Despite the high costs, owning your own home can be a rewarding experience.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst by keeping enough money in your savings account to cover unforeseen costs. Make sure you account for all of the hidden expenses and fees associated with buying a home and budget accordingly.


Housecall

Hippo is an InsureTech company that’s reimagining home insurance through the lens of homeowners. Hippo Insurance is available to homeowners in 10 states throughout the U.S. and will be available to more than 60 percent of the nation’s homeowners by the end of 2018.

West Palm Beach Market Update – February 2017

West Palm Beach Market Update – February 2017
West Palm Beach Mortgage Lender - February Market Update

West Palm Beach Mortgage Lender – Ideal Lending Solutions

Are you looking to buy a home in South Florida? If so, join the line!

In a recent article posted on the Sun Sentinel, the author noted that home prices continue to rise in not only South Florida but also across the entire nation.

In Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward counties, overall home prices jumped by nearly 7% in December 2016 compared to December 2015. This increase was the sixth-largest out of 20 metropolitan areas tracked by the housing index mentioned in the article.

In the United States, the annual average price hike of 5.8% was as high as it has been in 30 months. Although home prices are rising, many experts believe that the rate they are increasing isn’t cause for concern.

When we narrow in on West Palm Beach, the median price increased by 23% in January 2017 compared to January 2016, good for a total jump of over $38,000. The median sale price for homes in the area has increased at a steady pace over the past 5 years, according to Trulia. Last month, the median sale price on a home in West Palm Beach was $202,000.

The number of home sales has experienced several more ups and downs compared to the median price. After reaching a near-historic low of 593 homes sold in June 2016, home sales have recovered nicely. In January 2017, there were 916 units sold.

Over the past three months, the median sale price for a 4-bedroom home was $365,000, up by 5.2% over the same period last year. The median price for a 3-bedroom home was $250,000 (+9.2%), a 2-bedroom home was $115,000 (+2.7%) and a 1-bedroom home was $36,000 (+18%) over the same period.

Last month, the median rent in West Palm Beach was $1,600, a typical amount for this time of year. Additionally, the number of rental units increased to 386 in January 2017 from 299 in December 2016.

If you’re considering buying or selling a home in South Florida, consulting a West Palm Beach mortgage lender at Ideal Lending Solutions can provide you with the experience, knowledge and expertise needed to get your dream home.

For more information on how our team can help, contact us today!

Prepare Financially for Buying a Home

Prepare Financially for Buying a Home
Prepare Financially

Five things you can do to prepare financially for buying a home

Let’s face it, you don’t buy a house every day. Even if this isn’t your first time, you want to be sure to avoid any surprises that might affect your chances of being approved for a mortgage loan. Here are five things you can do to prepare and avoid anything that might slow down the approval process and put your dream home at risk.

1. CHECK YOUR CREDIT REPORT

To get a combined report from the three primary credit bureaus – Transunion, Equifax and Experian, go to freescoreonline.com. Review the report for any inaccuracies. Look for accounts that don’t belong to you, or have outstanding past due bills you know have been addressed. Instructions on how to request changes are here as well.

2. REVIEW YOUR FINANCES**

Take a close look at your monthly income in comparison with your spending. Identify area where you could cut back. Ideally your monthly expenses should be no more than 29% of your gross household income. Use this opportunity to review and tighten up your household budget.

3. ELIMINATE DEBT WHEREEVER POSSIBLE

Take a close look at your monthly income in comparison with your spending. Identify area where you could cut back. Ideally your monthly expenses should be no more than 29% of your gross household income. Use this opportunity to review and tighten up your household budget.

4. SAVE FOR YOUR DOWNPAYMENT

Paying down credit cards and other debts enables you to begin saving for that all important down payment, The more money you’re able to put down upfront the more home
you can afford and/or the more manageable you monthly mortgage payment will be.

5. AVOID ANY ADDITIONAL DEBT

As you get closer to applying for a mortgage you want to avoid opening new credit card accounts or making large purchases, such as a car, loan that affects you monthly cash flow and could raise a red flag with a potential lender. Avoiding new debt is even more critical during the application approval process itself as any change to your overall financial situation will require updating documentation for underwriting, all of which could jeopardize your final approval.

Ideal Lending Solutions has locations across the great state of Florida to assist you.

Mortgage Financing in West Palm Beach | Mortgage Financing in Boca Raton | Mortgage Financing in Jupiter | Mortgage Financing in Aventura

*AFN is not a credit repair agency and provides no credit repair services.
**AFN is not a tax or financial advisor, and individual tax circumstances may vary. Please consult a licensed tax professional and appropriate government agencies to determine tax consequences of home ownership.

Kathleen Williams nominates local hero for Christmas Miracle

Kathleen Williams nominates local hero for Christmas Miracle

Kathleen Williams nominates local hero for Christmas Miracle

12 Days of Christmas Miracles Frank G
From left to right - Kathleen Williams, Frank G., and Stacey Somers

Wellington, FL – Wellington’s own everyday hero Frank G. was nominated by Kathleen Williams, NMLS# 1066793 of Ideal Lending Solutions to be a recipient of Homes for Heroes 12 Days of Christmas Miracles.

A Little About Frank G.

Frank G. is a firefighter in Wellington, Florida, and him and his wife are currently taking on the responsibility of giving two young girls a chance at an amazing life.

Frank’s niece has had a troubled life and on top of that has two young girls that she is unable to care for. In the midst of trying to better the lives of all involved, Frank’s sister-in-law, the grandmother of the two girls, recently suffered a stroke and is now unable to take care of her granddaughters and daughter. With help from a family from church, Frank and his wife have been able to step in and care for the girls and are now filing for full custody of them.

While knowing this is what has to be done to ensure a safe and loving home for the girls, the entire process has been financially straining. Frank and his wife are using all possible resources to keep the girls together and make them a part of their family.

Giving A Christmas Miracle

Kathleen Williams along with Stacey Somers of Keller Williams, Boynton Beach and Homes for Heroes was able to give Frank and his family a total of $1,100, which includes the $500 from Homes for Heroes. They were also able to provide him with a $25 gas card and a Christmas Eve family dinner, which is being donated by local restaurant, Oli’s Fashion Cuisine. Frank said he is using the money to make sure all the kids are able to have a wonderful Christmas.

Homes for Heroes mission is to provide extraordinary savings to heroes who provide extraordinary services to our nation and its communities every day. Click here to view the original post.

FHFA Increases 2017 Baseline Conforming Loan Limits

FHFA Increases 2017 Baseline Conforming Loan Limits

FHFA Increases 2017 Baseline Conforming Loan Limits

Conforming Loan Limits

Increases in the Max Conforming Loan Limits May Give Your Clients Access to More Expensive Properties

West Palm Beach, FL – It’s no secret that home prices have been on the rise. Current median home price have actually exceeded 2007, pre-recession values by 1.7% while properties in high-cost areas of the country exceed the baseline loan limit by 115%. As a result of these increases, the Federal Housing Finance Agency or FHFA has raised the baseline maximum conforming loan limit as required by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 or HERA. These new limits set a cap on the size of mortgages that can be bought or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These are the first such hikes by the FHFA in more than a decade.

2017 increases are as follows:

  • From $417,000 to $424,100 for one-unit properties in the majority of the country
  • From $625,500 to $636,150 for high-cost one-unit properties in the contiguous US
  • Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands, currently have a baseline of $636,150 but limits have been raised for specific locations*

This is great news for your customers who’ve found rising home prices putting their hope of homeownership just out of reach. As always, AFN has the loan programs your customers need to afford their piece of the American Dream.

If there is anything we can do to further clarify these new loan limits or assist you and your clients in any other way, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly.

A list of the 2017 maximum conforming loan limits for all counties and county-equivalent areas in the country can be found here. A map showing the maximum loan limits across the country can be found here.

Ideal Lending Solutions is your premier home mortgage lender in Florida. At Ideal Lending Solutions your clients will work one-on-one with a dedicated mortgage professional who can explain loan programs and offer great mortgage rates to meet their financial goals.

3 Scary Money Myths That Make No Cents!

3 Scary Money Myths That Make No Cents!
Money Myths

3 Scary Money Myths That Make No Cents!

West Palm Beach, FL – Ever since we were children, we’ve heard and repeated familiar sayings about money. One favorite of parents everywhere is, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” But what if it turned out that most of the conventional wisdom about money wasn’t true, at least wasn’t helpful? For instance, while it’s literally true that money doesn’t grow on trees, that saying can lead us to believe in scarcity rather than abundance—so scarcity is what we end up with! Here are three other equally destructive money myths:

  1. A penny saved is a penny earned. While saving and investing is an essential part of any financial plan, it’s not enough to make you rich. You have to focus on the “earning” part of that saying. With most current salaries, there’s no way we can save our way to wealth. So we need to find ways to increase our earning power, by taking extra training, becoming an entrepreneur, having both spouses work, investing in revenue property, etc.
  2. There’s no better place for your money than a bank. This may have been true for our parents or grandparents when savings accounts were earning as much as 10-15%. But with today’s interest rates hovering near zero — actually below the inflation rate — putting your money in a bank account is like throwing much of it away.
  3. Your home is your best investment. The fact is your home is a place to live. By thinking of homes as investments that you can buy and sell to make money, you’re putting yourself and your family at financial risk. Housing bubbles can burst, unexpected maintenance bills can be huge, closing costs and Realtor fees add up fast, and property taxes just keep rising. The best approach is buying an affordable house you actually want to live in, then as money becomes available for investment, buy rental properties that generate income and tax deductions.

For more advice on achieving financial security, please give us a call today!

Ideal Lending Solutions is your premier home mortgage lender in Florida. At Ideal Lending Solutions you will work one-on-one with a dedicated mortgage professional who can explain loan programs and offer great mortgage rates to meet your financial goals.

Your Taxpayer Rights

Your Taxpayer Rights

Your Taxpayer Rights

Taxpayer Rights

Your Taxpayer Rights if You ever get Audited by the IRS

West Palm Beach, FL – There are 3 letters that strike fear into the hearts of Americans—I-R-S! And the very thought of being audited by them—usually turns into panic.

What you might not know is that back in the 1990’s, Congress passed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Law, which places the burden of proof in tax disputes on the IRS – not the taxpayer.

However, there are some additional rights you have if you ever get that dreaded “audit notice” in the mail.

  • You don’t have to meet with the IRS. You don’t have to meet with them face to face. Instead, you can conduct your “audit” through the mail. You avoid the stress of a personal meeting, the hassle of taking time off of work, or saying something that might be misconstrued by the auditor.
  • You have the right to negotiate penalties. Of course, the IRS is not going to tell you this, but if you’ve filed your tax returns, acted in good faith and have not set out to deceive the IRS or dodge your tax liability, you can ask that any penalties be cancelled.
  • You can appeal decisions made by the IRS. If you believe the tax liability and penalties are unfair or incorrect, you have 30 days to file an appeal. It could take years before your case is heard, but the “filing” date is the critical part of this process.
  • You have the right to “installment” payments. If you do end up owing additional money, you can set up regular monthly payments with the IRS. Form 433A needs to be filed, listing your income, expenses, assets and liabilities. They will determine the monthly payment you need to make.
  • You have the right to challenge IRS notices. Just a little under 50% of all IRS notices requesting more money from you are incorrect or incomplete. But they keep sending them because it has been shown that people would rather just pay the money than fight the IRS. Don’t take their word for it.
  • You have the right to use a Taxpayer Advocate. If you feel you are getting the runaround or no one at the IRS is willing to help you, contact a taxpayer advocate. This is a division of the IRS to help citizens whose tax problems seem to be ignored. Visit the IRS website and you’ll find a link that says “Contact Your Advocate.” The service is free and it’s confidential.
  • You have the right to make audio recordings when you meet. Yes, you can record the whole meeting, but you have to notify the IRS 10 days in advance.

You have the right to represent yourself at an IRS audit. The tax code is complicated, and unless you are fairly competent about the specifics of your tax audit, you might want to hire an expert to help you. If you’ve had your tax returns prepared by a CPA, they will usually help with the audit meeting. If you end up in US Tax Court, hiring a tax expert is highly recommended.

Ideal Lending Solutions is your premier home mortgage lender in Florida. At Ideal Lending Solutions you will work one-on-one with a dedicated mortgage professional who can explain loan programs and offer great mortgage rates to meet your financial goals.