Top 6 Home Tax Deduction Mistakes: North Shore Real Estate

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Across the nation and of course here on the North Shore of Chicago that time is upon us….tax season-2018!  For North Shore real estate homeowners, home sellers, or prospective first time North Shore home buyers, having a basic understanding of tax guidelines can potentially shield you from Taxbreaksfinancial heartache and can help to ensure you’ll benefit from many of the exceptional tax benefits of property ownership. Below are the top 6 tax deduction misconceptions.

Note: Due to the various restrictions and conditions regarding real estate tax benefits, it is important to consult with one’s financial advisors or accountants to fully understand the benefits and opportunities of tax benefits to those who own North Shore real estate. The tips provided give 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 or location.

See a list of available North Shore tax preparers and financial advisors HERE . Or, let us know who you recommend for tax preperation on Chicago’s North Shore!

Schedule A is the part of Form 1040 commonly used to list myriad deductions, and the more details, the more prone someone may be to misinterpretation with their taxes. To save time and money, four tax experts weigh in on the following 6 most common Schedule A concept mistakes homeowners may make.

Concept #1: Line 6 – real estate taxes

Your monthly mortgage payment often includes money for a tax escrow, from which the lender pays your local real estate taxes.
The money you send the bank may be more than what the bank pays for your taxes, says Julian Block, a tax attorney and author of Julian Block’s Home Seller’s Guide to Tax Savings. That will lead you to putting the wrong number on Schedule A.
Example:

  • Your monthly payment to the lender: $2,000 for mortgage + $500 escrow for taxes
  • Your annual property tax bill: $5,500

Now do the figures:

  • Your bank received $6,000 for real estate taxes, but only paid $5,500. It may keep the extra $500 to apply to the next tax bill or refund it to you at some point, but meanwhile, you’re making a mistake if you enter $6,000 on Schedule A.
  • Instead, take the number from Form 1098—which your bank sends you each year—that shows the actual taxes paid.

Concept #2: Line 6 – tax calculations for recent North Shore buyers and sellers

If you bought or sold a North Shore home in the middle of 2013, figuring out what to put on line 6 of your Schedule A Form is tricky.
Don’t simply enter the number from your property tax bill on line 6 as you would if you owned the house the whole year. If you bought or sold a house in midyear, you should instead use the property tax amount listed on your HUD-1 closing statement, says Phil Marti, a retired IRS official.
Here’s why: Generally, depending on the local tax cycle, either the seller gives the buyer money to pay the taxes when they come due or, if the seller has already paid taxes, the buyer reimburses the seller at closing. Those taxes are deductible that year, but won’t be reflected on your property tax bill.

Concept #3: Line 10 – properly deducting your points

You can deduct points paid on a refinance, but not all at once, says David Sands, a CPA with Buchbinder Tunick & Co LLP. Rather, you deduct them over the life of your loan. So if you paid $1,000 in points for a 10-year refinance, you’re entitled to deduct only $100 per year on your Schedule A Form.

Concept #4: Line 10 – HELOC limits breakdown

If you took out a home equity line of credit (HELOC), you can generally deduct the interest on it only up to $100,000 of debt each year, says Matthew Lender, a CPA with EisnerLubin LLP.
For example, if you have a HELOC for $200,000, the bank will send you Form 1098 for interest paid on $200,000. But you can deduct only the interest paid on $100,000. If you just pull the number off Form 1098, you’ll deduct more than you’re entitled to.

Concept #5: line 13 – Private mortgage insurance

You can deduct PMI on your Schedule A Form, as long as you started paying the insurance after Dec. 31, 2006. Unless Congress acts to extend the PMI deduction, however, 2011 is the last year for which you can take this deduction. (Also, this is also a good time to review your PMI: You might be able to cancel your PMI altogether because you’ve had a change in loan-to-value status.)

Concept #6: line 20 – casualty and theft losses

You can deduct part or all of losses caused by theft, vandalism, fire, or similar causes, as well as corrosive drywall, but the process isn’t always obvious or simple:

  • Only deduct losses that are greater than 10% of your adjusted gross income (line 38 of Form 1040).
  • Fill out Form 4684, which involves complex calculations for the cost basis and fair market value.  This form gives you the number you need for line 20.

Bottom line on line 20: If you’ve got extensive losses, it’s best to consult a tax pro. “I wouldn’t do it myself, and I’ve been dealing with taxes for 40 years,” says former IRS official Marti.

Get more tax tips HERE

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Top 5 Winter Renovations That Pay Off Big-North Shore Real Estate Trends

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There is always something that can be improved upon. Now in 2018…When you spend a little time in your Chicago North Shore home on vacation or on the weekends, you are bound to find a improvement project or two that can keep you busy. And that’s usually what happens during the winter especially right at the start of a new year, people want their houses to look their best, and any indoor project that doesn’t require windows to be open or walls to be taken down are good ones to think about. More importantly it’s vital to think of the projects that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but will also get a big bang for your North Shore real estate investment buck in the long-term.

While doors and floors fit that category, be warned that any door that’s hung in the winter might be a bit of a tight fit in the summer, when humidity can expand the wood. So, be cautious of starting wood projects.

There are plenty of other home improvement projects that can keep you busy during the winter months. Here are the top 5 suggestions for high REO (return on investment) this season:

1. Install a programmable thermostat: It’s always a bit of a shock when you get that first utility bill in the colder months. If you haven’t already taken steps to save energy, an easy project, is installing a thermostat that allows you to automatically set the temperature for different times of the day. By having the heat programmed to go on when you get up in the morning, then off when you leave for the day, then back on when you arrive home, you can keep the temperature of your home constant. This type of project is an easy do-it-yourself project. It’s just a couple of low-voltage wires, so it’s really something anyone can handle, and some of them cost as low as $25. It can pay for itself in a month or two.

2. Insulate your water heater: Another way to save energy is to lower the temperature of your water heater, and insulate it. The ideal temperature is 120 degrees. It doesn’t cost you anything to turn it down, and by wrapping it in insulation, you can ensure that the water stays hot when it is not being used. You can buy insulation kits at your local North Shore-Glencoe hardware store.

3. Paint a room: This is the greatest winter project, it’s a great cure for the midwinter blues. And a $50 investment in paint can dramatically transform a room. When you are spending more time inside, you have more time to look at what needs to be refreshed. This is a quick, do-it-yourself project and a small investment can make a big difference.

4. Refinish the basement: Need a contractor for a project? Find one in the winter, contractors are slower in the winter, and one project that’s especially popular is refinishing the basement — you can often find someone to take this on. Of course, the ever-popular bathroom and kitchen remodels, are seasonless, and sometimes endless, can also be started in winter (as long as a wall doesn’t need to be knocked out).

5. Get organized: So many people resolve to get organized at the New Year and winter is a great time to actually take action on that resolution. There are so many great modular closet-organizing systems, a project like this is a great antidote to North Shore cabin fever. You can clear up the clutter in a room or a closet, and make it look like you have twice the space you did to begin with; a sure-fire way to attract potential buyers, a total sellers edge…MORE IDEAS

With sustained top producing, high ranking, client focused results, Gloria Matlin looks forward to making 2018 even better! Over 25 years of devoted service, and now partnering with son Zack Matlin, this team is sure to make Chicago North Shore real estate dreams come true once again.

 

Benefits of Year End Real Estate Investing: North Shore Chicago

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Here on Chicago’s North Shore, next to spring, fall is often the busiest real estate time of the year. Although you can buy and sell houses at any time, the fall North Suburban real estate market offers abundant benefits to home buyers, including year-end tax breaks, pleasant weather conditions for moving, commonly a wider selection of houses, and the beautiful presence of mother-nature all FallScene-2around!

To further provide examples of the North Shore home buying advantages you can enjoy during the autumn months, below is a more detailed look into the benefits of looking for and purchasing a home in the autumn 2017 season.

Mortgage loan year-end tax breaks

By October and November, people are already reviewing year-end tax breaks they may be eligible for. Fortunately for home-buyers, owning a home can yield immense dividends in tax returns. For example, both mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible from gross income. In addition, if you have prepaid ant interest before the due date of your first payment and you close your loan before the year’s end, that amount will also be deducted. Consult a tax professional for specific details and guidelines.

Often more home buying choices

Given that North Shore home buying and selling is at a peak during the fall season, the real estate market often becomes a highly competitive arena. While there may be additional pressure to buy due to the quicker turnaround of houses on the market, at the same time you also benefit from the wider selection of homes available during the fall season. In fact, between the months of September and December, you may be fortunate enough to visit several North Shore open houses in a single day. Therefore, to make sure you don’t miss out on finding your dream house, it’s a good idea to examine on-line ads often since the listings are updated frequently.

Getting ahead of mother mature

Buying a North Shore house in the winter may not be very appealing to most home buyers. Low temperatures and poor weather conditions can potentially make moving more difficult. But by moving in early, mid, even late autumn, you gain the added benefit of eluding the sweltering summer heat.

Fall home buying TIP:  Taking into account that fall is the second busiest season of the year for buying and selling houses on the North Shore, you may be tempted to put a bid on a home for fear that another buyer will better your offer or snatch it up before you. Carefully assess your financial situation ahead of time and before your feet hit the pavement, know what your ceiling is and stick to it. More info HERE

The North Shore real estate Fall 2017 forecast calls for ongoing top tier results, high ranking top producing performance, and sustained elite service from Gloria Matlin and partner Zack Matlin of Matlin Residential Real Estate. With over 25 years of trusted real estate professionalism, she and Zack are the consummate guides on Chicago’s North Shore. Look to them for assistance with relocation, buying, selling, investing, or to inquire about local communities, they can help make North Shore real estate dreams a reality. Gloria’s home office is located within the top brokerage firm on the North Shore-Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate office. 640 Vernon Avenue, Glencoe, Illinois 60022.

 

Top Tips for Fall Upkeep-Curb Appeal Still Rules: Chicago North Shore Real Estate

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No matter the season…If your home’s curb appeal makes a great first impression, everyone — including potential Fall 2017 home-buyers — will want to see what’s inside. Your home’s appearance has a psychological effect on anyone that sees it. If the exterior of the house and yard is well-maintained, people enter the home with positive feelings believing the interior will measure up to the standards set outside. If the exterior looks poorly maintained, one may enter the home with a negative mindset, specifically looking for problems.
Check out these simple, low-cost improvements that you can do in a day, a week, or a month.

In a Day: Create perfect symmetry

Symmetry is not only pleasing to the eye, it’s also the simplest to arrange. Symmetrical compositions of light fixtures and front-door accents create welcoming entryways. This door is flanked by two sidelights. The black lantern-style sconces not only safely guide visitors to the door, but also coordinate with the black door and urns.

In a Day: Replace old hardware

House numbers, the entry door lockset, a wall-mounted mailbox, and an overhead light fixture are all elements that can add style and interest to your home’s exterior. If they’re out of date or dingy, your home may not be conveying the aesthetic you think it is. These elements add the most appeal when they function collectively, rather than as mix-and-match pieces. Oiled-bronze finishes suit traditional homes, while brushed nickel suits more contemporary ones.

In a Day: Dress up the front door

Your home’s front entry is the focal point of its curb appeal. Make a statement by giving your front door a blast of color with paint or by installing a custom wood door. Clean off any dirty spots around the knob, and use metal polish on the door fixtures. Your entry should also reflect the home’s interior, so choose a swag or a wreath that reflects your personal style.

In a Day: Do a mailbox makeover

Mailboxes should complement the…MORE

With over 25 years of Chicago North Shore real estate expertise, Gloria Matlin gains pride in making dreams come true for fall 2017 and every other season forthcoming. Her award-winning, client focused service is second to none. With top producing, high-ranking, exceptionally performing results, she provides sound guidance with the use of proven experience and expertise. Confidently look to her and partner Zack Matlin for all things North Shore Chicago real estate related.

Top 3 Perks to Buying a Home During Autumn 2017-North Shore Real Estate

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Yes, it’s common to hear people talk about Chicago North Shore real estate trends for the fall season. The cyclical nature of real estate is usually associated with autumn-home-john-loreauxfluctuating interest rates, changing incentive packages, and other economic factors. But were you aware that the real estate market is also influenced by the time of year, also known as the seasons?

A close second to spring, fall is the busiest North Shore real estate selling and buying time of the year. Although you can buy and sell houses at any time, the North Suburban Shores’ fall real estate market offers certain benefits to home buyers, including year-end tax breaks, pleasant weather conditions for moving, often a wider selection of houses, to name a few benefits.

To give you an idea of the home-buying advantages you can enjoy during the beautiful Chicago North Shore months, here is a more detailed look into the perks of buying a home during this time-frame:

1. Getting ahead of nature

Buying a house before the deep freeze of winter sets in is very appealing to most home buyers. Low temperatures and poor weather conditions may make moving a little more difficult. Furthermore, by wintertime most kids have settled into school, established friendships, and become involved in extra-curricular activities. By moving in early autumn, not only do you avoid interrupting your children’s schooling (or higher educational pursuits in the case of teen and adult family members), but you gain the added benefit of eluding the summer temps.

2. Important first time buyer tip

Given that fall is the second busiest season of the year for buying and selling houses, you may be tempted to put a bid on a home that is out of your price range for fear that another buyer will better your offer or snatch it before you. Carefully assess your financial situation ahead of time and before your feet hit the pavement, know what your ceiling is and stick to it like glue. Remember: Just as there are many fish in the sea, there are many houses in the real estate market now and certainly in the future.

 3. Year-end tax breaks to keep in mind

Come September and October, people are already starting to think about what year-end tax breaks they may be eligible for. Fortunately for homebuyers, owning a home can yield great dividends in tax returns. For example, both mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible from gross income. Furthermore, if you have prepaid some interest before the due date of your first payment and you close your loan before the year’s end, that amount will also be deducted. Don’t miss out on finding your dream house; it’s a good idea to examine the classified ads more often since the listings are updated more frequently. More info HERE

With top ranking results and personalized service no matter the season, Gloria Matlin along with partner Zack Matlin are ahead of market trends and understand the benefits of selling, buying or both during this season. Over 2 decades of high sales/production results and exceptional client centered performance, Gloria Matlin is a consummate expert within the Chicago North Shore real estate profession.  She calls Glencoe’s Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate office home-640 Vernon Avenue, 60022….The center of the downtown district.

New Generation of Real Estate-See Top 2017 Changes-Chicago North Shore Real Estate

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A lesson just in time for back-to-school….Ever changing and evolving technology, the flow of information, the global economy and a shift in societal structures have altered the real estate landscape on Chicago’s North Shore and around the world, forever. Times have changed since the real estate boom of the early 2000’s. This isn’t our parents’ real estate market. And some of the strategies that were put to use in the ‘80s and 90’s, if implemented today, would cause financial harm or result in missed opportunities — or both. Before venturing into the vast world of North Shore real estate, contact a trusted North Shore real estate professional. In addition, here are five tips to consider as you explore North Shore buying or selling in this current and next generation of North Shore real estate:

1. Technology speeds things up: But don’t rush a real estate purchase

Not unlike most industries, technology and the Internet have sped up the processes of looking for, transacting or selling a North Shore home. A great new listing could hit a buyer via a text from their agent, an email alert from the local MLS, a notification from Zillow on a mobile device and maybe even an old-fashioned phone call from the buyer’s agent. The actual real estate transaction process has been sped up as well. Clients can sign contracts or review property inspection reports and disclosures on a mobile device during their beach vacation. Even so, no matter how quickly we move or how much technology can make our world efficient today, buying or selling a home should never be rushed.

2. The real estate agent’s role has shifted: But a good agent still matters

Before the Internet and online listings, some people believed the real estate agent’s only value was to provide access to the listings. It’s always been a highly emotional and financial decision, and a good, experienced, local North Shore agent likely did more than just open doors in the 1980s. Today, an additional part of the agent’s role is to make sense of the information. Data alone is meaningless without color. A good local North Shore agent, living and breathing their market, will add more value than ever. Finally, in many parts of the country, where attorneys are not involved in real estate transactions, the agent is the center of the transaction. Don’t settle. If you are not impressed with your agent, find another. The right agent can make all the difference.

3. Often a seller-beware culture today: Do your homework

Search is in the DNA of millennial or Gen Y buyers today. They simply won’t take anyone’s word for anything. They will search, research and double-check everything. A smart seller today needs to be armed and get one step ahead of the buyer. Today’s buyers have much more at their disposal, and so it’s the seller who needs to beware. Not knowing what the buyers are seeing or staying one step ahead of them can affect your bottom line when going on the market today. Leverage today’s resources and technology and think like a buyer before going on the market. Once you go live, there’s no turning back. If you aren’t completely ready to sell, don’t list.

4. We have evolved: Owning might not be for everyone

The typical home buyers of last generation got married in their early 20s, moved to a single-family home in the suburbs, got a 30-year fixed mortgage and planned to pay it off. Buying a home happened once, maybe twice in a lifetime.

It’s no longer standard practice to live in your hometown after high school or college. In fact, it’s more common for today’s professional to take a job in Denver, Dallas or even Dubai. Additionally, that stable long-term job, with access to a pension after retirement, has all but evaporated. Buyers change jobs more often than ever. The flexibility granted by renting has provided a different picture of today’s American Dream for many.

5. Know all of the loan options available today: Choose carefully

Access to dozens of loan products didn’t exist just 15 years ago. Banks have developed new products to evolve with the times. The acceptance and use of some of those products, for some people, led to a steady stream of foreclosures years later. When I bought my first home, my father suggested I get a 30-year fixed mortgage. I thought he was crazy. I didn’t know what I’d be up to in five years, much less 30. A buyer today needs to spend some time researching loan options and consider them in the context of their personal situation. Work closely with a good local mortgage professional to help decide which type of loan makes sense for you – now and in the future.

Special Tip: It’s emotional — and that’s not likely to change

No matter the decade, the changes in consumer behaviors, or the type of home, real estate transactions will always be more personal than any other. Add to this the changes in technology and the access to information, and it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. Unlike buying a new flat-screen TV or selling a used car online, buying or selling a home will always be an emotional purchase. A home is where people have made some of their most important memories, a place that has been constant through the ups and downs of life. While the world may be speeding up on what seems like a daily basis, it’s always a good idea to take it slow when buying or selling a home. More information HERE.

With over 25 years of dedicated client focused results, top producing, high-ranking , top performing outcomes, Gloria Matlin and partner Zack Matlin are the consummate Chicago North Shore real estate representatives. Sustained North Shore community insight, and a passion for making North Shore real estate dreams a reality, look to them for questions on marketing, technology options, area conditions, or simply to discover things to do and places to go on Chicago’s Northern Shores.  640 Vernon Avenue, Glencoe, Illinois-Coldwell Banker residential real estate office is where Gloria Matlin has called her home office for over 2 decades.  Feel free to stop in today!

Creating a Life Plan to Secure Your Children’s Future – North Shore Chicago Real Estate

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Image credite:Pixabay:jairojehuel

Image credite:Pixabay:jairojehuel

It’s never too early to start thinking about your children’s future. You’ve already made big decisions about the house or area your children will live in or even what school they will attend, and creating a life plan can make it much easier to think of any contingencies that may arise down the road. You owe it to your children to map out your future goals for yourself and in ways which will affect their lives also, so start thinking about it now, even if your children are still very young.

Draw Up a Will

Everyone wants to live to a good old age, but you cannot guarantee this will happen. You never know what’s round the corner, so it’s best to plan your estate now rather than later. Here are some reasons you should make a will now:

  • A will gives you the opportunity to state who will care for your children in your absence.
  • You can use your will to name an executor for your estate.
  • A will allows you to select a trustworthy guardian for your children’s finances.
  • Your will can be a vehicle to enable you to name someone to take care of property for your children.

You can also state clearly who gets what in your will, and provide for any children that may have special needs.

Get Life Insurance

You already probably have life insurance for yourself, and if you’re in a stable financial position, it’s a good idea to invest in life insurance for your children. The main reason you should do this now, is in case your child develops an illness later in life, which could make her ineligible for life insurance. Heaven forbid you should outlive your children, but if this does happen, a life insurance policy will enable you to pay for their funeral expenses.

Save For Your Children’s College Education

College education is not cheap. For the 2016-2017 school year, the average cost of public college was $9,650, it was $33,480 at private colleges. There are several ways you can save wisely for your kid’s college fund.

Evaluate Your Real Estate

Perhaps your 1,300 square foot townhouse works perfectly well for you, your spouse, and toddler, but adding another child or even a pet into the mix could necessitate purchasing a larger home, or at least finding a home with a more flexible layout. Regardless of whether you are adding children and pets, got a job promotion, or suddenly came into some extra money, it may be time to re-evaluate your living situation if your quality of life is suffering.

A 529 Plan

A 529 plan is a savings plan with tax advantages, which is operated by a state or educational institution.  Such a plan can be used to pay for the cost of college education nationwide. In general, the state which your savings plan is from, does not affect your choice of school. This means you can live in Georgia, invest in a plan in California and send your child to school in Michigan. You can check here to see if your college is eligible.

Coverdell Education Savings Account

This is a type of trust account designed specifically for your child’s college education. The advantage of a Coverdell account is that it’s not just for college, you can use your savings to pay for K-12 education tax-free. The main disadvantage of this type of account is that you cannot deposit more than $2,000 per year.

UTMA and UGMA Accounts

These are custodial trust accounts. This means that if you have annuities, bonds or stocks, or cash that you wish to reserve for your children, you can put them into one of these accounts. This is the best option if your child will not need to apply for financial aid.

Creating a life plan is an essential part of securing your children’s future. Don’t let the prospect overwhelm you. Break it down, and build on it gradually. You will also need to review it from time to time and make any necessary changes or updates as your children grow older. When your children are getting ready to leave home and move on to the next stage of their lives, you will be glad that you had everything planned in advance.

Gloria Matlin along with partner Zack Matlin continue to be North Suburban real estate experts with an unparalleled record of top producing, high-ranking accomplishments that span 25+ years. Her keen awareness of the Northern Shore communities and his extensive marketing as well as mortgage consulting knowledge are what make Gloria and Zack Matlin an elite high performing team with a sincere and personalized style they offer each and every client. Gloria Matlin and Zack Matlin educate, tenaciously perform and make Chicago North Shore real estate dreams a pleasant reality! Look to them for guidance on real estate and related matters this summer season 2017!

 

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