How the New Tax Law Affects Homeowners

Tax season is upon us once again and to make it even more interesting this year, the tax code has changed, along with the rules about tax deductions for homeowners. Many homeowners who used to write off their property taxes and the interest they pay on their mortgage, will no longer be able to.

Standard Deduction Increased

It’s not that you can’t itemize and write off your mortgage interest or property taxes, it’s that the standard deduction, that amount everyone gets, nearly doubled under the new law. It’s now $24,000 for married, joint-filing couples (up from $13,000), and $12,000 for singles (up from $6,500).

Many more people will now get a better deal taking the standard deduction than they would with itemizing all their deductions. The Federal Government predicts the number of homeowners who will be able to deduct their mortgage interest and property taxes under the new rules will fall from around 32 million to about 14 million, that’s about a 56% drop

Single people may get more tax benefits from buying a house than a married couple as you can reach, and potentially exceed, the $12,000 standard deduction more quickly.

Personal Exemption Repealed

One caveat to the increase in the standard deduction for homeowners and non-homeowners is that the personal exemption was repealed. No longer can you exempt from your income $4,150 for each member of your household, and that might temper the benefit of a higher standard deduction, depending on your particular situation. 

For example, a single person might still come out ahead. Her/His $5,500 increase in the standard deduction is more than the $4,150 lost by the personal exemption repeal.  

But consider a family of four with two kids and in a 22% tax bracket. They no longer have a personal exemption of $4,150 or $16,600 total for the four of them. Although the increase in the standard deduction is worth $2,420 ($11,000 x 22%), the loss of the exemptions would cost them an extra $3,652 ($16,600 x 22%), so they lose $1,232 ($3,652 – $2,420).

So, bottom line, your household composition will affect your tax status.

Mortgage Interest Deduction

The new law caps the mortgage interest you can write off at loan amounts of no more than $750,000. However, if your loan was in place by Dec. 14, 2017, the loan is grandfathered, and the old $1 million maximum amount still applies. In Southern Oregon, most people don’t have a mortgage larger than $750,000; they won’t be affected by the cap.

But if you live in a pricey area like San Francisco, where the median housing price is well over a million bucks, or you just have a seriously expensive house, the new federal tax laws mean you’re not going to be able to write off interest paid on debt over the $750,000 cap.

State and Local Tax Deduction

The state and local taxes you pay, like income, sales, and property taxes, are still itemizable write-offs. But, for the tax year 2018, you can’t deduct more than $10,000 for all your state and local taxes combined, whether you’re single or married. (It’s $5,000 per person if you’re married but filing separately.) If you make a lot of money, this will hurt you as your deduction will be capped at $10,000 but a $10,000 cap will not affect others.

 

Rental Property Deduction doesn’t change

The news doesn’t change for landlords. There continue to be no limits on the amount of mortgage debt interest or state and local taxes you can write off on rental property. And you can keep writing off operating expenses like depreciation, insurance, lawn care, and utilities on Schedule E.

 

Home Equity Loans

You can continue to write off the interest on a home equity or second mortgage loan (if you itemize), but only if you used the proceeds to substantially better your home and only if the total, combined with your first mortgage, doesn’t go over the $750,000 cap ($1 million for loans in existence on Dec. 15, 2017). If you used proceeds to pay medical expenses, take a cruise, buy a BMW or anything other than home improvements, that interest is no longer tax deductible.

The new rules don’t grandfather in old home equity loans if the proceeds were used for something other than substantial home improvement – you can no longer deduct the interest.

The Catch

All the new tax laws take effect in January of 2018 but here is the catch, they all expire in January of 2025, so in six more years we’re back to the old tax code.

 

Graham Farran

Broker / Manager

    Where There is Smoke There Isn’t Always Fire!

  A lot of outdoor enjoyment was lost last summer due to the smoke filled skies in our valley, but what is noteworthy is how few homes have been destroyed by forest fires in Southern Oregon compared to the homes lost by fires in California. Every summer we have many lighting caused fires, causing hundreds of acres to burn but very few homes are ever destroyed.

  This is not the case in California where every fire seems to be becoming larger and more devastating than the last. None has had such a direct effect on Southern Oregon as the November 8th Camp fire that destroyed nearly 12,000 homes and 500 businesses in the Northern California town of Paradise. This sleepy town was a lower-income, retiree-based city with a population just over 26,000 tucked into the Sierra foothills at 2,000 feet elevation. Now that the town, homes and businesses are gone, the future of Paradise is unclear and there is a mass relocation movement headed north. Most of California is too expensive for retirees, so moving a couple hours north to Southern Oregon makes a lot of sense; our valley has a similar feel with the mountains, small towns, and outdoor living.  We have been filling our rental homes and furnished rentals with Paradise refugees who need a place to land and restart their lives. Some have already received insurance checks and are looking to purchase a home, but many are still waiting, which makes it really hard to start over without means.

  It’s heart-warming to welcome the Paradise refugees to their new home in our valley, but it’s also heart-wrenching to hear their stories of loss of friends, pets, personal property and losing their sense of home. One couple in a furnished rental is busy populating the bookshelves with an old book collection saved from the fires. They lost many of their personal belongings, but managed to save some prized books. Another refugee asked for a rental home that is “secluded where no one could hear her cry”.  Many of the new refugees have owned their own homes for years and not rented since they were in their teens, so they are unfamiliar with the process and the cost. There are heartwarming stories as well, such as one couple’s neighbor that went back to her burned out home every day to see if her dog had returned, and then finally, he came walking out of the woods to a tearful reunion.

  If you run into a Paradise refugee, make sure you welcome them with open arms knowing what they have been through and what they have lost. Knowing them makes me feel grateful that I have all my family, friends, pets, and possessions intact. I also feel grateful to our local fire-fighters who have kept our homes safe, year after year – please keep up the good work!

– Graham Farran

New Movie Was Filmed in the Applegate Valley

Ashland based Producers, Gary & Anne Lundgren comment on the filming of the movie “The Upside”, a newer release which was filmed, in part, in the Applegate Valley.
 
A remake of the successful French film, “The Intouchables”, Brian Cranston stars as a billionaire who is struggling with depression after an accident leaves him crippled.

Click below to read the full Mail Tribune article

2018 The Story Of Two Housing Markets

As we look at the year-end housing numbers in Jackson County, they look very strong but they don’t necessarily tell the whole story. We ended 2018 by increasing the median price on existing home sales by approximately 6%, new home prices approximately 11%, rural home prices rose about 5% and lots and land prices remained about the same as 2017 prices. At the same time, the number of homes sold (existing, new & rural) fell in 2018 by less than 2%.

The other part of the story is that Jackson County was on its way in 2018 to having a record year in both increases of home prices and homes sales, then summer hit and we saw a shift in the market. The majority of homes were selling within 30 days and then wildfire smoke, rising interest rates, stock market woes and growing consumer uncertainty all led to a softening of demand. The second half of 2018 saw home sales decline from the previous year and time on the market increase. Here are some highlights for Jackson County real estate in 2018.
Jackson County home sales totaled $1.2 Billion
Median price of an existing home increased to $280,000
Home prices went up 6.1% on existing homes and sales went up 1%
Home prices went up 11.5% on new homes and sales went down by 15%
Home prices went up 5.3% on rural homes and sales went down by 6%
Lot/land prices went up 4% and sales went down by 29%

Another interesting highlight is that Jacksonville beat out Ashland as the highest priced properties in Jackson County. The median price of a home in Jacksonville is now $479,900, up 21% from 2017, while Ashland is at $432,000, only up 3.2% from 2017. Jacksonville saw the majority of homes sell in the $300,000 – $500,000 range.

So, what’s in store for the real estate market in 2019? Great question, but if you look at the 4th quarter of 2017 it may give you an idea. In the last 3 months of the year, home sales went down about 12% but home prices continued to increase by 6% pushing the median home price to $296,000 for the quarter. Factors that will affect the market in 2019 are interest rates, demand, inventory, and consumer confidence. While interest rates have risen in 2018, the rate at which they are increasing is likely to decline as the Federal Reserve is reacting to mixed economic factors, great employment, growth in GDP, declining home sales and a volatile stock market. Inventory while low in the winter, is up about 20% higher than the same time last year, so come spring, we predict buyers will have a great selection of homes for sale, although inventory may still be a little low. Demand is the key, and another smoked filled summer can put a damper on our growth; but, recent job numbers state that Jackson county has had a 15.4% increase in employment over the past five years adding 13,000 jobs. Add to our internal growth the increasing inbound migration from escapees and retirees from all over and 2019 should see home prices continue to raise modestly as they have done for seven years straight, and home sales should stabilize to a modest growth rate.