Daily Real Estate News

3 Home Lighting Mistakes to Avoid

NAR Daily News Magazine - September 3, 2019 - 12:00am

Tasteful lights can enhance the look of a space. Find out how to better illuminate your listing.

Thousands of Homes at Risk as Hurricane Dorian Nears Coast

NAR Daily News Magazine - September 3, 2019 - 12:00am

The housing market is on standby as it awaits Dorian’s full force and fallout.

Doubts Rise Over Open Office Concept

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 30, 2019 - 12:00am

Recent studies question how inviting the open office really is on workers’ wellbeing and productivity.

iBuying Giant Opendoor Enters the Mortgage Business

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 30, 2019 - 12:00am

This “takes us one step closer to providing an end-to-end experience where you can buy, sell, or trade in a home in just a few clicks,” Opendoor posted in its announcement.

Mortgage Rates Tick Up Slightly This Week

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 30, 2019 - 12:00am

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage inched up, but still remains well below averages from a year ago.

Renters Will Pay Hundreds More to Choose Their Neighbors

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 30, 2019 - 12:00am

Who you live to is so important that renters say they'll pay even more for an apartment to be able to choose their neighbors.

Redfin Publishes Agent Commissions With Its Listings

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 30, 2019 - 12:00am

The brokerage follows the move of a Seattle area MLS that recently did the same to increase consumer transparency over how much agents are being paid.

Relocating? Best Cities for Buyers

RisMedia Consumer News - August 29, 2019 - 3:00pm

While homebuyers can’t always relocate to enjoy the best market advantages, if you’re looking to buy in a new locale, the financial site WalletHub.com published a list of communities where new homebuyers might want to consider as their newest “home town.”

According to WalletHub, nearly 40 percent of 2018’s single-family home purchases were made by first-time buyers. Researchers at the site point out that all homebuyers must balance what they want and need with what they can afford. All too often, WalletHub says, people begin searching for their dream homes without a realistic idea of market prices, interest rates or even their eligibility to get a mortgage.

To simplify the process, WalletHub compared 300 cities of varying sizes across 27 key indicators of market attractiveness, affordability and quality of life, and qualified affordability as the median house price divided by median annual household income.

Among some of the findings are: 

  • Akron, Ohio,has the most affordable housing (median house price divided by median annual household income), with a ratio of 1.83, which is 8.2 times cheaper than in Berkeley, Calif., the city with the least affordable housing, with a ratio of 15.04.
  • Honolulu has the lowest real estate tax rate, 0.29 percent, which is 12.9 times lower than in Waterbury, Conn., the city with the highest, at 3.74 percent.
  • Cleveland, Ohio, has the highest rent-to-price ratio, 16 percent, which is 6.1 times higher than in Sunnyvale, Calif., the city with the lowest, at 2.61 percent.
  • Shreveport, La., has the lowest average energy cost per household, $93.58, which is 4.2 times lower than in Honolulu, the city with the highest, at $388.65.

WalletHub’s overall top five best cities for first-time buyers are: Tampa, Fla.; Overland Park, Kan.; Thornton, Colo.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Boise, Idaho. When it comes to quality of life, the study says Colorado hits the jackpot with Fort Collins, Boulder, Greeley, Thornton and Centennial dominating the top five positions.

John Voket is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

The post Relocating? Best Cities for Buyers appeared first on RISMedia.

NAR: Super-Low Mortgage Rates Have Yet to Jumpstart Sales

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 29, 2019 - 12:00am

All four major regions of the U.S. posted declines in pending home sales last month. Read more from NAR’s latest housing report.

Former NAR CTO Joins T3 Sixty

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 29, 2019 - 12:00am

The real estate consulting firm looks to expand its technology division with the addition of two well-known new hires.

Company Touts an All-In-One Home Transaction

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 29, 2019 - 12:00am

A real estate startup aims to ease the stress and financial strain that consumers feel when buying and selling at the same time.

Opportunity Zone Prices Are a Fraction of Nearby Property Costs

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 29, 2019 - 12:00am

Investors in the government’s tax program will likely find prices in the designated census tracts to be, in some cases, less than half the typical value of the surrounding metro area.

Double-Income Households Grow Against Rising Home Prices

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 29, 2019 - 12:00am

In areas with high home price tags, two or more workers living in a single household is common.

Buyers Say They’re Skittish About Recession Possibility

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 29, 2019 - 12:00am

More than half of house hunters say they likely will put their searches on hold if another economic downturn strikes.

Now, a New Way to Estimate Next Year’s Tax Refund

RisMedia Consumer News - August 28, 2019 - 3:04pm

(TNS)—Summer will soon be fading out of view and, like it or not, 2019 will move toward a close.

So what exactly have you done to withhold more money out of your paycheck to cover that 2019 tax bill?

If you need a motivator, the Internal Revenue Service has launched its much-anticipated new Tax Withholding Estimator. The calculator reportedly makes it “easier to enter wages and withholding for each job held by the taxpayer and their spouse, as well as separately entering pensions and other sources of income.”

Stepping back to fine-tune how much money you’re withholding in taxes now can make a huge difference between dreading having to write a big check to pay taxes in April or actually looking forward to getting a tax refund.

The estimator, which replaces the old IRS online tax withholding calculator, should help you see how on track you are right now. If necessary, you could make adjustments and dedicate more or less money toward federal income taxes out of your paycheck, and your spouse’s paycheck, too.

Many people found the old calculator to be a more than a bit cumbersome, but the new estimator is getting some good reviews. So it’s clearly worth a look.

See www.irs.gov and click on “Tax Withholding Estimator.”

Why do I need to think about taxes now?
Getting your withholding right, of course, takes on greater importance after a rather unsettling tax season earlier this year when many taxpayers ended up paying more than expected or took home far smaller tax refunds than usual.

If you’re working in the gig economy and juggling more than one job, the new program can take that into account, too.

Remember, take-home pay went up in 2018 once withholding tables were adjusted to reflect the lower tax rates in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

For some tax filers, though, the extra money that ended up in their paychecks turned out to be even more than the amount their taxes would have gone down under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, according to H&R Block data.

Were you upset by a smaller tax refund?
Under the new tax rules, some people lost key tax benefits. Maybe your children are 17 or older and you don’t get as big of a tax break. Maybe you now can only deduct up to $10,000—and no more—for the money paid for state income taxes, local taxes and property taxes.

If your tax story fell into one of those buckets, you could have faced more significant swings than the averages would indicate.

The average tax refund was $2,729 this year through May 10. That’s down 1.7 percent from a year earlier. The total amount of refunds was down 2.7 percent for that same time frame, totaling $277.26 billion through May 10. That’s the latest IRS information available; other statistics will be released later in the year.

While only a few months remain in 2019, it is still possible to have more money taken out of your paycheck to cover income taxes now to avoid unwelcome surprises in 2020.

How does this estimator work?
The IRS online estimator is broken into six sections: information about your household, income, adjustments to your income, deductions from income, tax credits and your results.

You need some paperwork on hand, such as your most recent pay stub and pay information for your spouse. You must know how much in taxes has been withheld already and how much you plan to contribute to your tax-deferred 401(k) plans this year.

You can be more detailed by entering any adjustments to income, but that’s not required. The IRS site notes that most taxpayers don’t have a large enough adjustment to have a significant impact on their tax obligation. Adjustments could include a student loan interest deduction, alimony paid that could be deductible for some in many cases and other factors.

What do you do next to update your W-4?
The online tool gives you step-by-step instructions for how to fill out a W-4, and you’re easily able to download a blank W-4 to give to your employer. If you want to withhold more money in taxes, you need to fill out that W-4 and give it to your employer.

Will this exercise even be worthwhile?
The more willing you are to dig for your real numbers, the better your odds for a clear tax picture.

Amazingly, the format of the new estimator is extremely straightforward. To get more comfortable with it, I played around by plugging in some random numbers to see how you move from one point to the next.

The only challenge, as I see it, will be getting your correct paperwork in order. It’s important to know information about your tax situation, such as if you’re going to claim deductions or take the standard deduction.

If you can do that, well, a clear graphic pops up at the end to spell out what kind of refund you might expect after you file your tax return in 2020.

You’ll be shown an estimate for how much you might owe in taxes or the size of you estimated tax refund.

And there’s a bar to show you how to make adjustments—even now. There’s process to follow if you want to get a refund and another if you want to owe as little as possible.

“Just as before, the more detail you put in the calculator, the more accurate the outcome will be,” said Nathan Rigney, who is a lead tax research analyst at H&R Block’s Tax Institute. “Unfortunately, we know that most people aren’t comfortable updating their W-4 on their own and that very few did, even after tax reform.”

So it’s important that the IRS took the step to make it as easy as possible for people. What’s attractive about the online format is that it’s not intimidating and you’re not handing over anything personal like a Social Security number or your bank account information.

“It’s easy if you’re sophisticated enough and organized enough to use it correctly,” said George W. Smith, a certified public account in Southfield. “Do I like and support it? Yes, definitely.”

Some tax experts say they’d view the new estimator as a much more helpful tool than previous online calculators at www.irs.gov.

“It’s user-friendly and takes a more comprehensive look at a person’s overall tax picture,” said Patricia A. Bojanic, a certified public accountant at Gordon Advisors in Troy, Mich.

One highlight: A married couple has a simpler time taking into account the wages, as well as the taxes being withheld, for both spouses.

“If used with the right information, it should result in much more accurate withholding,” Bojanic said.

Maybe it won’t turn out exactly on the money—but even if you make a good faith effort, things could turn out far better than if you simply kicked next year’s tax return down the road and totally ignored the potential problems.

©2019 Detroit Free Press
Visit Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

The post Now, a New Way to Estimate Next Year’s Tax Refund appeared first on RISMedia.

Houzz, Hasbro Team Up to Crowdsource Renovation of ‘Clue’ Mansion

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 28, 2019 - 12:00am

You can help renovate the Clue mansion.

Moving Trends: Low-Cost Markets in South, West Gain Edge

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 28, 2019 - 12:00am

Some markets are alluring to buyers because of strength in employment and lower home prices.

Share of Homes Selling Above List Price Returns to Long-Term Averages

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 28, 2019 - 12:00am

Sellers shouldn’t expect much more: The number of homes that are selling at list price or above is normalizing.

4 Overlooked Areas That Make a Big Difference in Staging

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 28, 2019 - 12:00am

Go beyond the basics of sprucing up your listing.

10 Good Neighbor Finalists Are a Force for Good

NAR Daily News Magazine - August 28, 2019 - 12:00am

These REALTORS® make an extraordinary impact on their communities through volunteer service.

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