Did you buy a home in 2017? If so, congratulations! One of the perks of home-ownership: you’ll have several great tax deductions this year! You may be able to write off portions of your mortgage payment, your interest, insurance, property taxes, and mortgage insurance, to name a few.
If you bought a home with a Paris Group Realty agent in 2017, we recently sent you a final settlement statement for your real estate transactions from the year. You, or your accountant, can use this to document deductions - and lower your tax burden! If you have questions about your deductions or if you have not received your letter yet, please reach out to us. We're always happy to help!
Wish to better understand home-related tax deductions? Here are a few articles worth referencing as you prepare taxes:
You may have heard single-family homes for sale within the City of Portland are now required to include a home energy score in their listings.
To answer a common question: this doesn’t replace a home inspection, which the buyer pays for, prior to purchasing a home. The home energy score audit, paid by the seller, needs to be conducted prior to listing a home for sale.
Home energy scores are a market-based solution for conveying previously unknown but critical information to both buyers and sellers of homes. When homeowners invest in improving the energy efficiency of their homes, those costs may be recouped as scores translate into a value that can be recognized by the market. A recent analysis that included over 20 studies worldwide of homes with green certifications demonstrated that green-certified homes sell for up to four percent higher than a comparable home.
Beyond lower energy bills and greater housing affordability, energy-efficient homes are more comfortable and livable. The indoor air quality of these homes is better, leading to healthier lives. Home energy scores afford consumers a measure of protection when making one of the biggest financial investments most people ever make. [more below]
Benefits for Owners - Information on money-saving home improvements.
Benefits for Buyers - Better insight into the full costs of owning or renting a home. - Ability to compare energy costs and performance between homes. - Knowledge of potential home improvements in advance of purchase. - Access to additional mortgage products.
Benefits for Sellers - Recoup investments in energy efficiency upgrades at time of sale.
Have questions? Not to worry, we're here to help answer questions and help you understand these changes - and benefits - regardless if you're a currently a homeowner thinking about remodeling, looking to buy, or thinking about selling.
"Finding Home" is a collection of interviews with our team, friends and clients about adventures in buying their first home, remodeling lessons, and other discoveries of owning a home.
Jasmine, PGR's Transaction Coordinator, shares why compromising on a house's size in a preferred neighborhood made perfect sense to her thanks to a fantastic layout and yard.
1) How did you know you wanted to buy your home? We bought in 2012 when inventory was very low. This was the nicest house we could afford in the neighborhood we wanted to be in. I knew it was the one because it had a wide open yard for gardening and ADU. Plus the house has a fantastic layout for an 825sq/ft house and a big kitchen to tie everything together.
2) Was there a trade-off you felt was necessary to make to purchasing your home? It is smaller than we would like, but the location makes it worth it.
3) Any surprises you discovered *after* moving in? No unfortunate surprises in our situation. We did put in radon mitigation a few months after purchasing, but not a huge surprise for St Johns.
4) Anything else you'd like to share about your home? The house was a flip by Portland Development Group so there wasn’t much to fix. Originally built in 1908, the house was brought down to the studs and everything redone, so that was part of the appeal. We added an ADU not long after buying it and we hired a contractor for that. It was a great experience!
Thank you, Jasmine for sharing your home adventures with us!
Would you like to share your home search adventures, remodeling tales, or how you made your house a home with us on our blog? Send us a quick note and we'll be in touch! We'd love to hear from you!
Today we're interviewing Jay Hensleigh of Associated Master Inspectors, a home inspection firm based in Tigard, OR. Jay has been an inspector since 2006 in the Portland area. We asked him to share his insights about home inspections, what buyers and sellers can expect from an inspector, and what sellers should have ready if they remodeled their home.
1) Can you please describe what a typical day looks like for you? My work day consists of either one or two inspections. For a typical home inspection, I’m onsite for about 4 hours, looking at the home and talking to the client and realtors. When you add in travel time to and from the office or between successive jobs, it can make for a very full day.
After the inspection(s), I spend an additional 2-3 hours in the office to compile my inspection findings and photos, research any unique issues discovered at the home, and review and finalize the report. Given these time investments, I find it’s logistically impossible to do more than two inspections a day. When I do have two inspections in one day, I make sure to reserve time the next morning to complete the reports.
2) What is your process for inspecting a house? In Oregon, home inspectors are required to follow and meet tightly defined rules known as the Oregon Standards for Home Inspection, which define the extent, limits, and requirement of an inspection. Within these standards, my process of performing an inspection is primarily a visual process of discovery, essentially starting at one end of the home (roof) and finishing at the other end (the crawlspace). I carry a collection of tools to help me inspect the home, including ladders, flashlights, screwdrivers, probing tools, moisture meter, various electrical testers, and a pick-hammer.
To document issues I discover, I carry a digital camera and also have my laptop on a portable stand to enter information as I move around the property. Some areas may be fully inaccessible for various reasons or my view of various areas of components may be limited by furnishings, stored items, or appliances, and these limitations are noted in the report.
I encourage my clients to attend the inspection, but to arrive towards the end of it. This allows me time to fully focus on the home. Toward the end, I meet with my client and their realtor to review my findings so everyone is aware of the more serious issues present at the home. Sometimes we walk around the home and look at any areas the client wants to see. As we wrap on onsite, payment is usually collected from the client, and I let them know when they can expect the report.
3) If a homeowner is planning a home remodel, what should they take into consideration if they decide to sell their home in the future? The three most important considerations are permits, permits, and permits. Did I mention permits?
In today’s world, making sure you obtain permits for renovations or repairs when required is very important. If you choose to do work without permits, it’s very likely it will come up when you go to sell the house. Most buyers will ask for permits to be obtained. Obtaining permits retroactively can be very expensive and time consuming. In worse-case scenarios, you may be required to open up walls to expose work for inspection or could even be required to demolish additions.
4) What’s one tip you can share with sellers? How about three? First, make sure all utilities are on. Having the water, power, or gas shut-off severely limits the inspection and almost always requires a second inspection visit that often results in added inspection fees and almost always delays.
Second, making sure attics, crawlspaces, furnaces, water heaters, and electrical panels are not blocked by stored items, furniture or appliances also ensures a complete inspection without delays.
And finally, please plan to be away from the home during the inspection. Your presence can slow down the inspection process and makes it difficult for your buyer to learn about your home without some sense of unease.
5) What’s one tip you can share with buyers? Homes are a complex compilation of materials, systems, and components. Over time, materials weather, systems age, and components wear out. As a home inspector, my primary job is to alert you to health and safety issues, structural problems, and conditions that may lead to safety and structural issues, but keep in mind that the inspection is a snapshot in time. Conditions in and around the home can and do change over time. You can be your home's best ally by consistently performing seasonal and annual maintenance, and monitoring your home to catch and resolve any conditions that may lead to significant damage.
6) BONUS Q: What drew you to home inspection? The first time I saw a home inspector in action was 1995 when I bought my first home. At the time, I was well established in a career path as a fishery biologist, but I was intrigued as I followed the inspector around the house, and later as I read the report.
Seven years later my career transition, I started working as a handyman for a property management company, which led to construction work for a local developer, which led to getting my contractor's license. While construction work was fun and rewarding, I wanted a more flexible and independent schedule, with more variety in my work tasks. I also wanted more interaction with clients. Home inspection seemed like it would meet these needs and would allow me to use the skills, knowledge, and experience I had built-up as a contractor and as a biologist. It took a little more training and testing, but soon I was working as a home inspector. I have found that indeed, it’s a great fit for me. The joy of the job is the mix of technical expertise required, camera and computer work, seeing all kinds of houses, and of course, meeting people as they proceed with the exciting, and stressful, process of buying a home.
Thanks Jay for taking the time to share your insights with us and our readers!
"Finding Home" is a collection of interviews with our team, friends, and clients about adventures in buying their first home, remodeling lessons, and other discoveries of owning a home.
Today Heather, PGR realtor and Claire's sister, shares why her home was "The One," a discovery made 10 years after purchasing, and why a finding a great floor plan ranks high when searching for a home.
1. How did you know you wanted to buy your home? As soon as we walked in our house, I knew we needed to make an offer. The open floor plan, great location near Mt. Tabor, room to grow and ability to renovate all sealed the deal.
2. Was there a trade-off you felt was necessary when purchasing your home? No trade-off as it was purchased 17 years ago. However, there are always trade-offs today at any price range.
3. Was there an unfortunate surprise/issue you discovered *after* moving in? The biggest surprise we discovered after living in the house almost 10 years were the two cesspools in the backyard that needed decommissioning.
4. How did you fix it? We've done an extensive amount of work on our house and for every project we have hired contractors to do the work.
5. Would you have changed your mind about the purchase if you had known this would've happened? No, there are very few repairs that would steer me away from any house. I think finding a neighborhood, floor plan, and layout is much harder than facing any needed repairs or work.
Thank you for sharing your story with our readers, Heather!
Over the next few months, we're sharing stories from our team, friends, and clients about adventures in buying their first home, remodeling lessons, and other discoveries of owning a home.
1. How did you know you wanted to buy your home? My brother and I had been looking for a year. It was 2001 and a seller’s market, which meant properties sold quickly and for over listing price. We were looking for something we could fix up. Andy and I walked into the house and it was a wreck: blue walls, weird wall paper, dirty carpeting and more. We saw past all of that to the built-in bookcases and china hutch, the hardwood floors, and the fantastic layout. We were sold.
2. Was there a trade-off you felt was necessary to make to purchasing your home? Our budget was low, so we’d already agreed to compromise on condition. But this house could be fixed up and look beautiful.
3. Any lessons learned while remodeling? I had my mom layout the kitchen perfectly and we went to a discount cabinet store (long before Ikea was here!). They didn’t have one of the cabinet sizes my mom had instructed us to buy. I figured if I added the inch and a half the cabinet that was in stock to another cabinet, it wouldn’t make any different in the length of the cabinets, so why not? I didn’t realize my mom had centered that particular cabinet so the stove began past the windowsill. So instead, the windowsill was broken with the stove.
It was a small error, but it was a big lesson in paying attention to the details. Every time I go in my kitchen, I think about it.
We realize talking about home financing isn’t a super sexy conversation, nor is it nearly as exciting as awesome landscaping ideas or great neighborhood bars. But before you click that little “x” to close this window, hear us out. This topic is worth exploring because it may save you some cash on your monthly mortgage payment.
Yeah. We thought that might get your attention.
First, here are two important terms to help with this slightly-more-interesting-then-a- snail-race financial conversation.
LTV: Loan-To-Value is a percentage calculated from the loan amount divided by the purchase price. So, if you put down 15% when buying a home, in simplest terms for this discussion, your LTV would be 85%. And - here’s the important part! - this number decreases over time as you pay off your mortgage loan. This value decrease is a very, very good thing.
Here are five ways you may qualify for a lower Loan-to-Value (LTV) thus having your Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) removed from your monthly mortgage balance - and giving you a reason to pop the champagne.
1. If you are getting ready to buy a home, if you place a down-payment of 20% or more, you may not be required to have PMI written into your loan terms. Each lender has different guidelines, so it’s worth asking about their PMI requirements.
And a quick heads up: we're hosting two open houses this Sunday, 6/11/17: a beautiful 1930s one-bedroom condo in the NW District (open house: noon to 1:30p at 2743 NW Thurman #4, Portland 97210) and the other, a 3-bedroom in the hopping Woodstock neighborhood (open house: 1:30-3p at 6523 SE 84th Ave, Portland 97266). Visit our homepage for links and details. You won't want to miss these! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates.