7 Tax Benefits of Owning a Home: A Complete Guide for Filing Now and Next Year

What are the tax benefits of owning a home? Homeowners might be wondering this right around now as they prepare to file their taxes. Or, you might be wondering how the new tax plan might affect the tax perks of homeownership when you file next year.

Well, look no further than this complete guide to all the tax benefits of owning a home—for this filing year (2017) as well as the next (2018). Read on for the full rundown just to make sure you aren’t missing anything that could save you major money!

Tax break #1: Mortgage Interest

This continues to be the biggie benefit of owning a home for tax year 2017: the ability to deduct the interest on a mortgage of up to $1 million. And the more recent your mortgage, the greater your tax savings.

“The way mortgage payments are amortized, the first ones are almost all interest,” says Wendy Connick, owner of Connick Financial Solutions. (See how your loan amortizes and how much you’re paying in interest with this mortgage calculator.)

Here’s how this deduction looks for a married couple in the 28% tax bracket (that means a joint annual income between $151,201 and $230,450) who bought a home with a $300,000, 30-year mortgage at a 4% interest rate. They will pay $11,904 in mortgage interest their first year. Once you add in the other itemized federal deductions below, these homeowners can expect to save at least $3,333 in taxes during their initial year of ownership.

What changes next year: The new tax bill allows homeowners with a mortgage that went into effect before Dec. 15, 2017, to continue to deduct interest on loans up to $1 million. But for anyone who closed on a mortgage after that, the cap for deducting interest becomes $750,000—and that’s a combined total for first, second, and any other homes.

Tax break 2: Property taxes

In most instances, property taxes are deductible on your 2017 tax return, says Brian Ashcraft, director of compliance at Liberty Tax Service. And that could spell hefty savings.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average household property tax is $2,127. If you have a mortgage, your taxes are built into your monthly payment. Here’s more info on how to calculate property taxes.

What changes next year: Property tax will no longer be a separate deduction. Instead, taxpayers can take one deduction that includes property tax as well as state and local sales and income taxes, says Ashcraft. And that one deduction is capped at $10,000 for those married filing jointly.

Tax break 3: Private mortgage insurance

If you put less than 20% down on your home, odds are you’re paying private mortgage insurance, or PMI, which costs from 0.3% to 1.15% of your home loan. While the deduction had expired, the new tax bill retroactively made the deduction available for the 2017 tax year.

Here’s how much you’ll save: If you make $100,000 and put down 5% on a $200,000 house, you’ll pay about $1,500 in annual PMI premiums and thus cut your taxable income by $1,500.

What changes next year: This deduction is for itemizers only. Plus, the 2018 tax law nearly doubles the standard deduction. As a result, it is estimated that only about 5% of taxpayers will itemize deductions starting in 2018, says Connick. “In the past it was more like 30%,” she adds.

Tax break 4: Energy-efficiency upgrades

The Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit was a tax incentive for installing alternative energy upgrades in a home. Most of these tax credits expired after December 2016; however, two credits are still available. The credits for solar electric and solar water heating equipment are available through Dec. 31, 2021, says Josh Zimmelman, owner of Westwood Tax & Consulting, a New York–based accounting firm.

What changes next year: The percentage of the credit varies based on the date of installation. For equipment installed between Jan. 1, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2019, 30% of the expenditures are eligible for the credit. That goes down to 26% for installation between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, and then to 22% for equipment put in between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021.

Tax break 5: A home office

If you work from home, your office space and expenses can be deducted, too. According to Vincenzo Villamena, managing partner of Online Taxman, you can take a $5-per-square-foot deduction for up to 300 square feet of office space, which amounts to a maximum deduction of $1,500. Understand, however, that there are strict rules on what constitutes a dedicated, fully deductible home office space. Here’s more on the much-misunderstood home office tax deduction.

What changes next year: This deduction will be eliminated for employees who have an office to go to but work from home occasionally, but it remains for all self-employed people whose home office is the main place they work.

Tax break 6: Home improvements to age in place

Many older homeowners plan to age in place—and if that entails renovations such as wheelchair ramps or grab bars in slippery bathrooms, the cost of these improvements results in a nice tax break. Deductible improvements might also include widening doorways, lowering cabinets or electrical fixtures, and adding stair lifts.

Caveat: You’ll need a letter from your doctor to prove these changes were medically necessary. Furthermore, in 2017 these home improvements will need to exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. So if you make $60,000, this deduction kicks in only on money spent over $4,500.

What changes next year: Nothing.

Tax break 7: Interest on a home equity line of credit

If you took out a home equity line of credit, or HELOC, in 2017 or earlier, the interest you pay on that loan is also deductible. People use these loans to do all sorts of things: pay for college, throw a wedding, or make improvements to their home.

How much you’ll save depends on the amount borrowed, but let’s crunch some sample numbers. If you take out a four-year, $20,000 HELOC at 4% interest, you’ll have an $800 deductible that will save you about $205 in the first year of your loan. (Use this calculator to see how much you’ll save.) Joint-filing taxpayers could deduct up to $100,000 ($50,000 for individuals) in interest paid on home equity debt.

What changes next year: The new tax law eliminates this tax deduction unless that HELOC is used specifically to “buy, build, or improve a property,” according to the IRS. That’s bad news for homeowners hoping to pay off college tuition, but still good if your home’s crying out for a kitchen overhaul or half-bath.

Source: Realtor.com 

Posted on February 23, 2018 at 1:37 pm
Anne-Marie McKenzie | Posted in Buyer Tips | Tagged , , , , ,

Anne-Marie’s Top 5 Staging Tips

  Anne-Marie is an accredited home-staging specialist 

While the market might dictate the comparative value of your home.  There are things in your control regarding how your home presents to potential buyers.  Staging your home doesn’t necessarily need to be done by professionals.  Here are a few simple things you can do to both be ready for a photographer’s visit and to impress potential buyers.

Say goodbye to Clutter. This is by far the most important thing you can do to prepare for sale.  The biggest contributor to a room looking cluttered and small is having too much furniture.  Ask yourself what you can live without while showing your home and either put it into storage or ask someone to take it while you’re selling.

Group Your Furniture. Many people think that a room will feel larger if furniture is placed against the walls.  This isn’t always the case.  Try repositioning your sofa and chairs in cozy groups, placed where the traffic flow will be obvious.  It helps to make the room look more appealing and larger.

Transform Room Usage.  If you have a room that seems to gather junk and isn’t being utilized right now, repurpose it to something that adds value to your home. Turn that “extra” smaller room into a reading room with the addition of a comfortable chair (possibly from #1’s tip!), a table and a lamp.  Or perhaps it can be turned into a yoga room by putting in a carpet remnant and toss cushy pillows.

Bedroom staging tip: if you need to convert a room into a bedroom and don’t have the money for a new bed, buy an air mattress, put it up on totes or boxes and dress it up with great linens. Voila ~ a bedroom.


Rooms Appearance Changes With Paint.  If you want to make a room look larger, paint it the same color as the attached room.  If you have a small kitchen, paint it the same color as the dining room.  Painting walls the same color as drapery is also a way to give you the illusion of more space.

Great Lighting.  Many homes are improperly lighted.  Increase wattage in your lamps and fixtures to 100 watts.  Make sure you have ambient (outside light or overhead), task lighting (under cabinet or reading lamps) and accent lights (table and wall lamps).  Better lighting will help a room look inviting – especially when you don’t have a lot of natural lighting.

Anne-Marie McKenzie

**Anne Marie McKenzie Anne-Marie has been a top-selling broker in southern Maine for 15 years. She has the experience and community connections to deliver successful real estate transactions. She brings her clients service during their transaction, but also personal service beyond the sale.    McKenzieHomeSales@gmail.com or 207-831-9157

Posted on October 13, 2017 at 3:18 pm
Anne-Marie McKenzie | Posted in Seller Tips | Tagged , , , , ,

Fact or Fiction: Is Fall The Best Time To Buy A Home?

Think of fall and you’ll probably think of colorful leaves, the crispness of the air and the pumpkin flavored everything that you find in the grocery stores.  What may not come to mind is how fall is one of the best seasons of the year to get your money’s worth in buying a new home.  Prices are lowered and sellers are anxious to get moving – all which benefit you, the buyer.  Here are 6 things to consider when considering whether to put off your search until next spring.

  • Lower home prices: According to RealtyTrac’s analysis of more than 32 million home sales over 15 years, October is the best time for buyers to purchase a home. With winter around the corner, many sellers reduce the sales price of their homes resulting in a buyer having more purchase power.  In other words, you’ll pay less than You’d pay for the same home the following April.
  • Less competition:  The spring and summer buyers having found their new home leave a fall buyer with less competition and a healthy pool of homes to choose from.  Continue to go to open houses and watch new home listings.  You could reap great rewards by waiting until fall to buy.
  • Worn-out home sellers:  Generally, sellers whose home is still for sale after the busy spring and summer seasons are the ones that really need to sell.  If you’ve had your eye on a home and it’s still listed in the fall, put in an offer. The longer a home sits on the market, the better position you’ll be in to purchase the one you want.
  • The holidays are around the corner:  With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, sellers will be anxious to move and be settled in their new place before the arrival of family and friends for the holidays.  Use this time to your advantage by putting forth an offer that gets them where they want to go!
  • Year-end tax credits:  While it might not be first and foremost on your mind, there is an added incentive to buying a home before the end of the fiscal year.  You could qualify for great tax deductions including closing costs, property taxes and mortgage interest.
  • Home improvement bargains:  Don’t forget the opportunity to upgrade things like appliances, furniture, TV’s etc before year’s end.  You can find great bargains on all kinds of home improvement items.  Not only will you have gotten a great deal on your new home, you could find yourself with extra money to upgrade.

   Anne-Marie McKenzie

** Anne-Marie has been a top-selling broker in southern Maine for 15 years. She has the experience and community connections to deliver successful real estate transactions. She brings her clients service during their transaction, but also personal service beyond the sale.  Click here to see Anne-Marie’s Reviews.  McKenzieHomeSales@gmail.com or 207-831-9157.  http://www.MaineRealEstateResource.com

Posted on September 28, 2017 at 12:57 pm
Anne-Marie McKenzie | Posted in Buyer Tips | Tagged , , , ,

5 Great Reasons To List Your Home This Fall

The kids are back to school, vacations are over and homeowners begin to wonder whether they should list their home now or wait until spring.  Just because summer is over, it doesn’t mean fall isn’t a great time to list your home.  Real estate is sold 365 days a year and fall is actually a great time to sell.  Anyone that tells you that the fall or winter months are a bad time to sell is not someone you want selling your home!  A great real estate agent will know how to help you adapt to the current season and market your listing appropriately.  Here are 5 great reasons for selling your home now vs waiting until spring:

#1:  We are still experiencing a seller’s market.  A seller’s market exists when there is a large number of ready, will and financially qualified buyers and there is a shortage of homes for sale.  Listing now often results in a buyer paying market value or more.

#2:  Spring and summer are typically high seasons for selling your home.  This means the competition is much greater April through August.  Listing your home in September, October or November means you have less competition for buyer attention.

#3:  Buyer’s who have been looking all summer are much more serious.  This increases your negotiation power in getting the best price for your home.  “Tire kicker” buyers disappear and people who are very serious about moving are anxious to seal the deal.

#4:  Let’s face it, Maine is beautiful in the fall.  Curb appeal is hugely important in selling price.

#5:  If you’ve been keeping up with real estate this past year, you know that rates remain low but are expected to increase.  Because of lower rates, buyers are able to afford more expensive homes.  If you wait until spring to list, it could eliminate many buyers from the market and therefore you stand to lose potential buyers and money.  This could be an important consideration in today’s market.

Anne-Marie McKenzie

**Anne-Marie has been a top-selling broker in southern Maine for 15 years. She has the experience and community connections to deliver successful real estate transactions. She brings her clients service during their transaction, but also personal service beyond the sale.  Click here to see Anne-Marie’s Reviews.  McKenzieHomeSales@gmail.com or 207-831-9157


Posted on September 12, 2017 at 1:41 pm
Anne-Marie McKenzie | Posted in Uncategorized |

Maine Market Strong in the New Year!

The Maine Association of Realtors report a 7.87% increase in single-family home sales compared to January of 2016.  “Mortgage rates remain historically low, households have confidence in their job security, and buyers are searching now in anticipation of moving this spring.  The time is right to place your home on the market.  Buyers need more housing inventory.  Statewide, the inventory of ‘for-sale homes’ is 24% lower than this time a year ago,” according to Greg Gosselin, Owner Broker of Gosselin Realty Group in York.


Posted on March 1, 2017 at 3:01 pm
Anne-Marie McKenzie | Posted in Uncategorized |

Despite Interest Rates Rising, Home Sales Continue to Increase

Compared to October of 2015, home sales have increased 5%.  Home sale prices have also seen an increase.  The median home sale for October 2016 was $192,500, a rise of 2.67%.


Ed Gardner, President of The Maine Association of Realtors adds, “The October statics are indicative of continued stability in Maine’s real estate markets.  Despite the recent upward movement in mortgage interest rates, the current rates are lower than at this time in 2015 and remain at historically low levels.


Posted on November 22, 2016 at 8:30 pm
Anne-Marie McKenzie | Posted in Uncategorized |

September Home Sales and Prices Still on the Rise

According to the Maine Association of Realtors, 1,732 homes were sold in Maine during the month of September – a 6.13% rise since September of last year.  The median sales price for those homes reached $188,038, an increase of 1.4%.  The market shows “continued stability,” according to Ed Gardner, the 2016 President of the Maine Association of Realtors.  “Should sellers take their homes off the market and wait through the holidays?  No, life circumstances bring a steady stream of buyers in to the marketplace.  Colder weather tends to bring out the more serious buyers and investors who want to take advantage of tax benefits prior to year-end.”  Good to know!  Contact me to take advantage of the solid real estate market in Maine!


Posted on October 21, 2016 at 7:47 pm
Anne-Marie McKenzie | Posted in Uncategorized |

Maine Home Sales and Prices Up in August

According to the Maine Association of Realtors, 1,840 homes were sold in Maine last month.  Sales rose 10.78% and the median sales price for those homes reached $197,000, an increase of 5.35%.  Ed Gardner, the 2016 President of the Maine Association of Realtors says, “Maine’s real estate market, overall, is healthy due to continued buyer confidence and very low interest rates.  We are experiencing movement in all segments of the market, including seasonal properties and land parcels.  Real estate continues to be a great long-term investment – and quality of life investment.”


Posted on September 26, 2016 at 1:39 pm
Anne-Marie McKenzie | Posted in Uncategorized |

Maine Home Values Rise, Sales Dip in July

The Maine Assocaition of Realtors reported 1,710 homes sold in July 2016 compared to 1,749 in July 2015.  Prices increased, however, at a rate of 4.66 in one year.  The median sales price also rose to $197,700 from $188,900.  This indicates that half of the homes were sold for more and half sold for less. 


Posted on September 7, 2016 at 1:54 pm
Anne-Marie McKenzie | Posted in Uncategorized |

Maine Home Values and Sales Up in June

Realtors across Maine reported 1,960 transactions of existing single-family homes during the month of June, leading to a sales increase of 9.62 percent in the past year.  Sales prices for those homes rose 5.49 percent to a median sales price of $198,000.


Posted on August 4, 2016 at 4:45 pm
Anne-Marie McKenzie | Posted in Uncategorized |