Tax Reform & Housing: A Reference Guide

Disclaimer: This guide is not meant to be a resource for tax advice but instead a resource for basic information concerning only certain aspects of the new tax code and how they may impact the real estate market. You should get tax advice from your accountant or tax preparer who will explain how the entire tax code will affect your personal return.

This information comes immediately after the new tax code became law. Some of the information may be revised as the analysis of the new law evolves.

When the tax code was originally being overhauled by the House and the Senate, there were three major proposals being considered that would have substantially impacted the residential real estate market:

  • Changing the requirements for the exclusion of gain on the sale of a principal residence
  • The reduction on the limit of the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID)
  • The elimination of the State and Local Tax deduction (SALT) which includes property taxes

Let’s look how the tax code has evolved from the original proposal, and decipher what impact experts believe it may have on the housing market.

1. Exclusion of gain on sale of a principal residence

Original Proposal: Owners would need to live in their house for at least 5 out of the last 8 years to claim this exemption. Under the former tax framework, a typical owner, who has lived in their house for at least 2 years out of the last 5 years, would pay nothing in capital gain taxes if they sell the house.

The New Tax Code: No change. The “at least 2 years out of the last 5 years” requirement is unchanged.

Impact on the Market: None.

2. Mortgage Interest Deduction

Original Proposal: Reduce the limit on the mortgage interest deduction (MID) amount from $1,000,000 to $500,000.

The New Tax Code: Reduces limit on deductible mortgage debt to $750,000 for new loans taken out after 12/14/17. Current loans up to $1 million are grandfathered.

Impact on the Market: Assuming a 20% down payment, this reduction in the MID will impact buyers that are purchasing a home between the prices of $938,000 and $1,250,000. Any home under the lower price is still covered and any home over the higher price was not covered under the former tax code either.

What does that mean to the market? Experts disagree. Calculated Risk’s Bill McBride:

“I think the impact of reducing the MID from a maximum of $1 million in mortgage debt to $750 thousand in mortgage debt will have very little impact on the housing market.”

On the other hand, Capital Economics claims:

“The impact on expensive homes could be detrimental, with a limit on the mortgage interest deduction raising taxes for those that itemize.”

3. State and Local Taxes (SALT)

Original Proposal: The elimination of the state and local tax deduction (which includes property taxes).

The New Tax Code: Allows an itemized deduction of up to $10,000 for the total of state and local property taxes and income or sales taxes.

Impact on the Market: Most experts agree that higher taxed regions will be impacted as homeowners in those communities now have a cap on these deductions.

Calculated Risk’s Bill McBride stated:

“SALT will have an impact on housing in some areas. Some people might choose to live in one state over another (if they have a choice), based on taxation. This could impact demand in certain states – especially for the middle and upper-middle class homeowners.”

Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics said:

“The impact on house prices is much greater for higher-priced homes, especially in parts of the country where incomes are higher and there are thus a disproportionate number of itemizers, and where homeowners have big mortgages and property tax bills.”

What will be the overall impact on the housing market?

For most of the country, the new tax code will not have a negative impact on the market. As Capital Economics reports:

“Given most households will see an overall tax cut, and potential buyers are likely to put that saving towards their home, we doubt it will have a significant detrimental impact on the housing market.”

There is also no doubt that some higher priced, higher taxed regions will be affected more than others. However, most experts agree that other portions of the tax code will favor the high-end buyer and seller, and this might mitigate many concerns. McBride explains:

“The corporate tax cuts (and other tax cuts) will mostly benefit the wealthy, and this will be a positive for high end real estate.”

What does this all mean to you?

To know for sure, you should sit with your accountant or financial planner and explore how all the aspects of the new code will impact your family.

Most families consider homeownership an essential part of the American Dream, and don’t purchase a home based solely on the tax advantages. The main reasons they buy a home are personal (they just got married, they are looking for a good place to raise children, they want to be near friends and family, they want to better enjoy their retirement, etc.). This will never change.

Looking at the new tax code, Mr. McBride’s opinion makes the most sense:

“There will be some negative impact based on SALT, but overall the impact of these policy changes on housing will be minimal.”cropped-closing-table-1200x6751.jpg

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The Big Down Payment Myth

different-types-of-home-loansHaving the spare capital to put 20 percent down on a home purchase is great, but it’s certainly not the norm. Still, many people think it is and that belief may be holding some would-be home buyers back, particularly young adults.

Indeed, 39 percent of non-owners say they believe they need more than 20 percent for a down payment on a home purchase. Twenty-six percent believe they need to put down 15 to 20 percent, and 22 percent say they need a down payment of 10 percent to 14 percent to buy, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Aspiring Home Buyers Profile report.

But now for the reality: The average down payment on a purchase mortgage was just 11 percent in 2016. And that’s just the average; often times down ppuzzleayments are much lower. For borrowers under the age of 35, the average down payment was just under 8 percent, according to NAR’s survey.

As such, “aspiring first-time buyers think it takes twice as much to buy a home than it really does,” writes Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist, in his latest column.

How much a person truly needs for a down payment depends on their situation. Their financial circumstances, home location, and the price of the home are important factors.

But there are many mortgage options that offer the opportunity to make low or even no down payments. For example, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture offer no-money down loans to those who are eligible. In 2016, 16 percent of buyers under the age of 35 put no money down on their home purchase.

Further, the largest share of loans for buyers under age 35 last year were for people putting down less than 5 percent on a home purchase (or about $3,500). The 3 percent down payment programs backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the 3.5 percent FHA mortgage that primarily targets first-time buyers, are both helpful programs to consider. These loan programs don’t require unblemished credit either. The average FICO score was 713, but realtor.com® notes borrowers with a 639 were still getting approved.fico by loan

As such, Smoke says the millennial dreaming about homeownership needs to get this message: They need a FICO score of at least 639 and enough for a 5 percent down payment (that is, if they don’t qualify for the other programs with lower payment options). In that case, they’ll need to save about $3,500 to buy in the typical American town.

Source: “Attention First-Time Buyers: Here’s the Key Stuff You Don’t Know About Mortgages,” realtor.com® (Feb. 9, 2017)

Deal of the Century – Is it still a good time to puchase a home?

Deal of the century  (click for a printer-friendly version of this article)

The Deal of the Century?? | Simplifying The Market

Recently, Freddie Mac published a blog post titled Mortgage Rates: Still the Deal of the Century. They explained that, if you are planning to purchase a home, now may be the time:

“If you are in the market to buy a home, today’s average mortgage rates are something to celebrate compared to almost any year since 1971.”

And they let their readers know that there is no guarantee that rates will remain this low:

“Over the past few years, we’ve enjoyed a long run of historically low mortgage rates. While no one expects them to change dramatically overnight, they are expected to head up. Most experts agree that mortgage rates will drift up in the coming months to end the year approaching 4.50%… Buying a home is a big investment – perhaps the biggest one you’ll make in your life. So, it’s important to be sure you are ready to make that purchase. If you are ready, today’s rates are not to be missed.”

The article went on to calculate what the principal and interest payment would be based on a $200,000 fully amortizing mortgage at different times in history.

Mortgage Payments | Simplifying The Market

Here is a look at rates over the decades:

Historic Mortgage Rates | Simplifying The Market

Here is a look at rates over the last four years and what Freddie Mac projects for next year:

30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Rates | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of buying your first home or looking to move up to your dream home, now may be the time to do it.

Contact me today for an appointment to discuss your home ownership investment!

Tori Denton, REALTOR®

413.301.4614

Housing Matters, FHA, & MIP Deductions

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In early January a sharp decline in interest rates, coupled with buzzing announcements to reductions on popular federally-insured home loans, resulted in both purchase and refinance volume at their highest in six years, according to a CNBC report.

After rates dropped in the first full week of the year, total home loan applications almost doubled in the week following. By mid-month, purchase applications were two percent higher than the same time last year, and demand for refinances was at its highest in eight months. According to a Wall Street Journal report, rates on the popular 30 year fixed home loan were at their lowest since May 2013.

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Big Housing Announcements
The housing industry was already the talk of the town after the President announced cuts to mortgage insurance premiums on new government-insured Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. The reductions will result in more affordable monthly housing payments and provide new opportunities for as many as 2 million borrowers over the next three years.

In other mortgage insurance news, legislation was again passed which makes any payments on mortgage insurance premiums in 2014 tax deductible.

If the housing market continues on its strong start to 2015, we can be sure to see strong and sustained income growth and a significant move upward in the industry!

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The Bottom Line
Continued low rates and higher demand for popular first-timer home loans may drive up housing activity. This could be just the time you’ve been waiting for to buy or sell a home.

If you have any questions regarding housing please feel free to contact me. Now is a great time to explore your next real estate transaction.

Tori Denton, REALTOR®

What’s going on with Falling Interest Rates??

    Is now the best time to act on Falling Interest Rates???

The headlines agree mortgage interest rates have dropped substantially below initial projections.

Are you one of the many who are considering purchasing a home or moving up to their dream home??

Let’s take a minute and review what’s happening in our market right now and draw some conclusions about market timing in 2015…

A recent article on the Economists’ Outlook blog by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) provides insight into one major factor in the decline in interest rates, the price of crude oil.

“As of January 5, 2015, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that the price of regular gasoline was $2.20/gallon, the lowest since gas prices peaked to about $ 4/gallon in May 2011.”

You may have noticed that filling your gas tank has become substantially less expensive in recent months. The average in Westfield is $2.05, not long ago we were looking at more than double that price!  The average US household is projected to save around $550 in 2015.

So what’s the connection to Interest Rates?

“Lower oil prices mean lower inflation rate, which pushes down mortgage rates.”

Based on Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage survey as of January 22, 2015, the 30-year fixed rate averaged 3.63% and the 15-year fixed rate averaged 2.93%.

Primary Mortgage Market Survey

“The decline in oil prices is generally positive to households by way of the gas savings and lower mortgage payments. That savings will boost consumer spending in other areas.”

How long will rates stay low?

No one really knows how long oil prices will continue to support low mortgage rates. In a New York Times article, the author points to the fact that “adding hundreds of billions of dollars to consumer spending” could start to have a “counter effect” on rates as the economy continues to strengthen.

So what’s the conclusion:

Don’t wait too long

The low interest rates we are currently experiencing are not going to stay around forever. The current projections from Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, NAR and the Mortgage Bankers Association all agree that interest rates will increase to between 4.3-5.4% by the end of 2015.

Interest Rates 2015 | Keeping Current Matters

The NAR reports: “At the median home price of $205,300, a 0.75 percentage point drop in mortgage rates will yield savings of about $1,000 annually.”

If you are in a position to buy a home make sure that you meet with a local real estate professional with their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the market. Don’t let a delay in purchasing impact your family’s financial future.

To learn more about your local market or discuss this article please feel free to contact me!

Tori Denton, REALTOR®

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