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Yours or Theirs

by John Riggins

 

Yours or Theirs

It takes money to buy a home: yours or theirs. If you're not going to pay cash for a home, you need to find out exactly what you can borrow and what it will cost before you start looking at homes.

The mortgage process is not as clear cut a path as it was a few years ago. It is certainly more complex, takes longer and assumes that you're credit worthy. If you have less than stellar credit, a trusted mortgage professional can advise you how to improve your individual situation.

You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus each year. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to get a copy of each from TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Read the reports to determine if they're accurate. Surprisingly, about 90% of all reports have errors.

You can try to correct them directly with the credit bureau, but a trusted mortgage professional can help you with this process too. They have tools that are not available to individuals. Some errors may not be serious but others will keep a person from qualifying.

Housing affordability is at a near record height due to the incredibly low interest rates and low home prices. Some areas are experiencing absorption of the inventories which could impact price. If you're going to use "their" money to buy a home, the first step is to talk to a trusted mortgage professional. Call me for the name of a trusted mortgage professional.

 

Sale by Surviving Spouse

by John Riggins

 

Sale by Surviving Spouse

The IRS has given special consideration regarding the sale of their jointly-owned principal residence after the death of a spouse. If the surviving spouse does not remarry prior to the sale of the home, they may qualify to exclude up to $500,000 of gain instead of the $250,000 exclusion for single people.

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  • The sale needs to take place after 2008 and no more than two years after the date of death of the spouse
  • Surviving spouse must not have remarried
  • Both spouses must have used the home as their principal residences for two of the last five years prior to the death
  • Both spouses must have owned the home for two of the last five years prior to the death
  • Neither spouse may have excluded gain from the sale of another principal residence during the last two years prior to the death

If you have been widowed in the last two years and have gain in your principal residence, it would be worth investigating the possibilities. Contact your tax professional for advice about your specific situation. Contact me to find out what your home is worth in today's market. See IRS Publication 523 - surviving spouse.

YOU MUST BE THIS TALL TO RIDE

by John Riggins

 

You Must Be This Tall to Ride

Do you remember going to the State Fair or Six Flags as a child? There was a terrific ride your older siblings were going on but there, at the entrance gate, was a sign that read "You must be this tall to ride."

After standing in line and thinking you had just about made it, you found out that you weren't tall enough. Not only was it disappointing, it was slightly embarrassing. You never want to go through that again.

It's remarkably similar when buying a home. You can go through the entire property search process to find the right home and negotiate the contract only to find out that you don't measure up "financially." It's something that no one wants to go through if they have a choice.

Regardless of what you think you know, if you're buying a home, you need to physically visit with a trusted mortgage professional before you get serious. You'll find out your credit score which will directly affect the mortgage rate you'll pay. You'll discover possible blemishes on your credit that may be able to be corrected. You'll even get a pre-approval letter that you can submit with an offer which could dramatically affect your negotiations.

Remember how some rides didn't turn out to be as good as you thought they were going to be? You certainly don't want that disappointment with a lender involving one of the biggest decisions of your life. Contact me for a list of trusted mortgage professionals.

Keep Track of Improvements

by John Riggins

 

Keep Track of Improvements

People are staying longer in their homes according to the National Association of Realtors and the U.S. Census. Over time, even a modest appreciation could result in a significant gain and homeowners should have a strategy to minimize possible taxes.

Maintenance on a principal residence is not deductible but improvements can add to the basis which can reduce the gain in the sale. Improvements are easily identified if they add to the value of a home, prolong its useful life or adapt it to new uses.

Receipts and other proof, such as pictures, should be kept during ownership and for several years after the sale of the home. They can include the closing statements from the purchase and sale of the home and all receipts for improvements, additions or other items that affect the home's adjusted basis or cost.

For a principal residence, basis includes the price paid, plus certain acquisition costs and capital improvements made. When the property is sold for more than the basis, there is a gain. Currently, homeowners that meet the requirements can exclude up to $250,000 of gain if single or up to $500,000 if married filing jointly.

A simple strategy is to put documents that affect the basis of the home in one envelope. Any receipt for money spent on the home that isn't the house payment or utilities, goes into the envelope. Your tax advisor will be able to sort through them to determine the capital improvements.

For more information on determining basis or capital improvements, see IRS publication 523, Selling Your Home.

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

Contact Information

Photo of John Riggins REALTOR RB11175 Real Estate
John Riggins REALTOR RB11175
John Riggins Real Estate
1003 Bishop Street, suite 2700
Honolulu HI 96813
808.523.7653
808.341.0737
Fax: 888.369.3210