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New Homeowners' Survival Guide

by Judi Monday, Your Green Valley AZ Expert

New Homeowners' Survival Guide

So you'll (probably) never screw up on the care and improvement on your home.

Homes That Let The Sun Shine In

by Judi Monday, Your Green Valley AZ Expert

A 480-Square-Foot Boho Shack Makes The Desert Cool

by Judi Monday, Your Green Valley AZ Expert

To-Dos: Your June Home Checklist

by Judi Monday, Your Green Valley AZ Expert

The Tax Difference In Second Homes

by Judi Monday, Your Green Valley AZ Expert

The Tax Difference in Second Homes

A principal residence and a second home have some similar benefits, but they have some key tax differences. A principal residence is the primary home where you live and a second home is used mainly for personal enjoyment while limiting possible rental activity to a maximum of 14 days per year.

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Under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Mortgage Interest Deduction allows a taxpayer to deduct the qualified interest on a principal residence and a second home. The interest is reduced from a maximum of $1,000,000 combined acquisition debt to a maximum of $750,000 combined acquisition debt for both the first and second homes.

Property taxes on first and second homes are deductible but limited to a combined maximum of $10,000 together with other state and local taxes paid.

The gain on a principal residence retained the exclusion of $250,000/$500,000 for single/married taxpayers meeting the requirements. Unchanged by the new tax law, the gains on second homes must be recognized when sold or disposed. 

Tax-deferred exchanges are not allowed for property used for personal purposes such as second homes. Gain on second homes owned for more than 12 months is taxed at the lower long-term capital gains rate. 

This article is intended for informational purposes. Advice from a tax professional for your specific situation should be obtained prior to making a decision that can have tax implications.


60 Design-Happy Pets From Around The World

by Judi Monday, Your Green Valley AZ Expert

Is Colorful Grout The Next Big Trend In Tile Design?

by Judi Monday, Your Green Valley AZ Expert

Four Amazing Dream Kitchens

by Judi Monday, Your Green Valley AZ Expert

Green Vs. Sustainable: What Is The Difference?

by Judi Monday, Your Green Valley AZ Expert

Green vs. Sustainable: What Is the Difference?

woman biking in the city

 

Many consider the ’60s and ’70s to be the real beginning of the environmental movement, with the establishment of the United Nations Environmental Programme in 1972.  However, in recent years, the focus on protecting our planet has been an increasingly discussed topic. New information, better technology, alternate research and trendy lifestyle blogs seem to spring up constantly. This excess of information can make living your own environmentally conscious lifestyle difficult. Even the terminology looks designed to be confusing.

Let’s look at one of the biggest confusion culprits: Green vs. sustainable.

The Misconception

People may use the terms “green” and “sustainable” interchangeably, although they don’t mean the same thing. The words are similar in intention, with both focusing on a desire to protect the Earth and its natural resources, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end.

Green

Webster’s Dictionary defines green as, “concerned with or supporting environmentalism.” This makes a lot of sense to anyone who’s ever used or heard the term, but the big point here is the definition’s vagueness. How and why something gets classified as green isn’t covered. The area becomes even murkier when you consider the heavy use of the word in company marketing and product labeling. Right now, there just aren’t any hard and fast rules for the use of the word “green” in marketing.

The EPA has attempted to rectify this issue by working with independent standard developers to create a system for classifying products. This includes creating what the EPA calls “ecolabels,” which allow consumers to quickly see the environmental impact of potential purchases.  ENERGY STAR is an example.

Currently, participation in this process is optional for companies that label any portion of their products, services or mission statement as green. Guides have also been created, but the EPA states that “these guides largely address when and how very specific and narrow environmental attributes can be claimed, not how to construct a broad-based environmental standard or ecolabeling program.” Green as a description of products and services is just too vague to effectively regulate at this point.

Sustainable

The word “sustainable” doesn’t have the same definition issues. While the term “green” reflects the environmental movement in general, “sustainable” has clear-cut criteria built right into its definition. Sustainability takes the notion of green to the next level and challenges us to look deeper. Webster’s Dictionary describes it as, “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” For a product, service or action to be considered sustainable, it cannot use any resource at a rate in which the resource is unable to be replenished. If a product uses bamboo and the company cuts down the bamboo faster than it can grow back, then the product isn’t sustainable.

The Lifestyle

With these definitions in mind, striving to be completely sustainable through movements such as Zero Waste is far more easily understood than it is undertaken. Sustainability has set requirements that going green doesn’t. There’s no wiggle room with the term.

However, that doesn’t mean striving towards a sustainable future isn’t worthwhile. Adapting our choices and mentalities is an important first step. We can be green while we all work towards being sustainable. Some may choose personal goals like switching to LED lightbulbs and installing water efficient showerheads. Others may choose more involved methods, like working towards a neutral carbon footprint. No matter how you decide to get started, consistency and knowledge are key. Protecting our planet is a goal we all can work towards, even while we’re still trying to get the differences between the terms straight.

Escrow: What It Is And What It Isn't

by Judi Monday, Your Green Valley AZ Expert

Escrow: What It Is and What It Isn’t

How to Save on Interest as Rates Rise - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

 

just bought a house or refinanced. You have your principal and interest payment, but you also may have an escrow account.

You’ve probably heard of an escrow account, but this is one of those items where the term itself doesn’t really explain what it is very well. Now that you have one, you should probably know what it is and how it works as well as what it isn’t.

What Escrow Is and What It Covers

In the context of your mortgage, money in your escrow account goes toward paying off property taxes and homeowners insurance in most cases. Some people only have their property taxes in the account.

The benefit of this is that you don’t have to pay out huge amounts of money all at once when you receive the bill for property taxes and your homeowners insurance premiums. Instead, a portion of your monthly mortgage payment goes toward paying taxes and insurance and your servicer pays the bills when they come due.

If you live in an area where flood insurance is required due to living in a low-lying floodplain, these will be escrowed as well.

What Your Escrow Account Doesn’t Cover

While your escrow account is helpful for your regular property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums, there are certain things that aren’t covered in your escrow account. For example, your tax authority may bill you for unplanned events or one-off assessments.

These bills include things like water and sewer bills that are privately sent out by your municipality or other authority. Homeowners association dues also aren’t escrowed.

Finally, supplemental tax bills aren’t included. This is because they’re typically one-time assessments for special municipal initiatives. You also might get a supplemental tax bill if you live in a state like California that does property tax assessments after a change of ownership and new construction. Let’s take a minute to go over how that works.

What to Know About Paying Supplemental Tax Bills

If you have any questions about a supplemental tax bill you receive outside of what’s covered in your normal escrow account, you should contact your local taxing authority. They’ll be able to help you with any questions.

It’s important to pay these and any bills that aren’t escrowed (homeowners association dues, etc.) by the due date and before they become delinquent. An unpaid tax bill of any kind has the potential to impair or prevent you from purchasing a new home or refinancing your current one if a tax lien is placed on your property. It can also have a negative impact on your credit report and score. You’ll want to do your best to avoid this situation.

If there’s something in your escrow account that you have questions about, you can always feel free to contact us. Since we have visibility into the items that are escrowed, we’ll work to answer your questions to the best of our ability or give you an idea of who might be able to help you. You can give our Client Relations team a call at any time at (800) 863-4332.

J.D. Power has ranked Quicken Loans highest in customer satisfaction for Primary Mortgage Origination for the last eight years and Mortgage Servicing each of the last four years.* We’re your lender for life and will stick with you from your application all the way to your last payment on your mortgage, potentially 30 years down the line. You can always feel free to ask us any questions you have.

Hopefully this has helped give you a better understanding of your escrow account. Here’s more information on property tax questions that clients frequently ask. You can also feel free to leave any questions for us in the comments below.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 625

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Judi Monday
RE/MAX Valley Properties In Green Valley, AZ
210 West Continental Road
Green Valley AZ 85622
Direct: (520) 241-7780
Fax: (520) 648-2221