Six Key Post-Home Purchase Moves

Reprinted from RIS Media Newsletter

By Susan Ladika

(TNS)—Buying a new home was probably your best financial move in 2016. Now you can continue to reap the financial benefits of homeownership in the new year and take some steps to help protect your investment.

Follow these tips to position yourself going forward to be a happier homeowner with a great house and a few extra bucks in your pocket while being proactive financially in the coming months.

Get a Property Tax Break
In a number of states, you can benefit from a homestead exemption, which gives you a break on your property taxes.

“This differs vastly not only from state to state, but from county to county as well,” says Bill Golden, an independent real estate agent with RE/MAX Atlanta Cityside.

Some states allow those who have their principal residence in the state to file for a homestead exemption, while others only offer the property tax break to certain groups, such as those over the age of 65 or disabled military veterans.

When You’re Planning a Late Retirement
Along with being a place to call your home, one of the biggest benefits of buying a house is the federal income tax deductions it provides.

“Take advantage of every tax benefit you can,” says Bill Brown, 2017 president of the National Association of REALTORS®.

Now is the time to familiarize yourself with the tax deductions, such as the mortgage interest you paid, your real estate property taxes and the points you paid on your mortgage, Brown says.

You can benefit financially if you don’t wait until the last minute to pay your property tax bill, says Henry Grzes, a lead technical manager for the tax section of the American Institute of CPAs.

If the property taxes on your home are due in February, and you pay your bill in December, you can write off the taxes you paid on your 2016 income tax return. At the same time, many jurisdictions will give you a discount if you pay your property taxes before the deadline.

Earn Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency
If you made your home more energy-efficient in 2016, you can earn a federal tax credit, Grzes says.

For example, if you installed a solar electric system or solar water heater by the end of 2016, you can claim a credit when you file your taxes next year.

You also can earn a tax credit if you’ve installed energy-efficient doors, windows or skylights. These tax credits are scheduled to end after 2016.

Trim Your Utility Bills
Those energy efficiency improvements you make not only can help cut your federal income tax, they also can help cut your utility bills.

In many places, you can schedule an appointment to have your utility inspectors visit your home, and they can assess what changes you should make to improve your home’s energy efficiency and lower your heating and cooling costs, Golden says.

Your utility company or local government might even provide financial incentives to aid you in making such improvements.

Upgrade Your Insurance
In the same way you have updated your new home, you’ll also need to update your homeowners insurance policy to reflect those changes.

“Common upgrades like installing hardwood floors, updating a kitchen or bath or adding a deck can all affect the cost to rebuild,” says Angi Orbann, second vice president of Property Design and Strategy at Travelers.

That’s why it’s important to check with your insurance agent to see if you need to increase the coverage on your house.

Protect Your Home
Because you want to protect your investment as well as your family, you might consider reinforcing your home and installing smart technology that can help keep your house and your loved ones safe.

Making certain modifications to your home can make it better able to withstand a natural disaster, earthquake or hurricane.

You can add such things as smart smoke detectors, fire alarms and security systems, which use your smartphone to alert you of trouble.

Be sure to notify your insurer once you’ve made these changes. By adding that extra protection, you might earn a discount on your homeowners policy, Orbann says.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

About marilynsellshollisterrealestate

I am a native Californian born in Los Angeles and have resided in San Benito County since January 30, 1959. I attended the University of Southern California. I am a licensed Real Estate Broker, license #00409787, active for almost 45 years. I started my career in 1972 and still am totally committed to the highest level of service to my clients. I am currently associated with Intero Real Estate Services. I am Past President of the San Benito Association of Realtors, serving in the role on numerous occasions. I was a Director of the California Association of Realtors for over 18 years, having served on numerous committees. I also served 2 terms representing the California Association of Realtors at the National level, NAR. I am a certified SRES (Senior Real Estate specialist), since 2005. My community involvement has included membership in the Hollister Rotary Club, serving as their first woman President in 2002. In the late 1960's, I became a member of the El Torillo Chapter of Children's Home Society, and served as President, and was also President of the Tri-County Council of CHS, which is today Kinship Center, and I am currently a Senior Active. I am a member of the San Benito Chamber of Commerce. From 2002-2008, I served on the Board of the Hollister Downtown Association and was their President from 2006-2007, and still serve on sub-committees of this organization. And, I am currently serving my 3rd term on the Community Foundation. My record of performance and my reputation have made me who I am in the industry. I am a household name in San Benito County, when you think of Real Estate. My name is recognized not only in Hollister, but in our neighboring counties, Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties. I have been involved in land development, marketed several subdivisions, sold ranches, commercial leasing, bank-owned properties, short sales and own a Property Management Company, Hollister Rental Properties, for more than 35 years. I am proud of my sales record and for the majority of my career I have been in the top 1% of major Real Estate Companies including Van Vleck Realtors, Cornish and Carey, Contempo, Seville-Contempo, Century 21, Coldwell Banker and finally Intero Real Estate services for the last 15 years. Using my skills in negotiating, mediation and transaction closure, during 2010 and 2011, I was involved with the City of Hollister's First Time Home Buyer Down Payment Assistance Program. The program was the City's Redevelopment Agency, under Bill Avera, with the assistance of CJ Valenzuela who was working with the County of San Benito. CHISPA, a non-profit, was responsible for restoring homes to equal to new condition that the City had taken back in foreclosure, or that they had acquired. When the homes were restored, we put them on the Multiple Listing Service and we went out and promoted the City's Down Payment Assistance Program. Buyers were screened and qualified by our preferred lenders. I facilitated workshops for First Time Buyers explaining the programs. I negotiated the contracts for the City of Hollister and with the Buyers. With this program, I closed 2 homes in 2010, and 4 homes in 2011. On a personal note, I am married to Richard Ferreira, a retired General Contractor/Developer. We have a combined family of six daughters, six grandsons and 3 granddaughters. We share commons interests in travel, movies, entertaining, and Richard has picked up my love of cooking. Our spare time is spent with family and enjoying our grandchildren.
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