Real Estate Housing Feed

Being a homeowner can be a royal pain in the tush. I speak from experience. The hubby and I have bought a condo and five houses over the years. But, as you can tell from my buying string, it's my preferred living arrangement. And a lot of people joined us in the in the homeownership club in 2020. The National Association of Realtors says last year's housing boom was driven by sales of existing homes. The specific numbers from the NAR report released Jan. 22 show existing home sales totaled 5.64 million in 2020. That's 5.6 percent higher than in... Read more →


Photo by Jess Bailey Designs The only thing worse than getting a surprising high property tax appraisal — which, as one of April's tax tips advises, you definitely should protest for venting, as well as potential lower tax, purposes — is having your local tax collector tell you that your tax payment is overdue. That happened to 2,400 homeowners in upstate New York, according to LocalSYR.com. Tax rebate endangered: Technically, the property owners in Onondaga County didn't get a past due bill. Instead, they incorrectly received notice from the Empire State's Department of Taxation and Finance that they could lose... Read more →


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio These last 2+ years of lingering coronavirus pandemic have prompted some folks to become more adventurous. They've done isolation 180s, now opting to hit the road. Some have even gone as far as to move far, far away from their homes. When U.S. residents make international moves for work, there's one part of the country they keep. They still must file tax returns and pay tax to Treasury on their overseas earnings. Yeah, I know. Not exactly the memento from home you wanted to take on your travels. The good news, though, is that Uncle Sam... Read more →


It didn't take much to convince the hubby and me to put on some going-out-in-public clothes today and head out to vote early. A couple of property tax reduction questions were on our local ballot. Sure, we would have done our civic duty anyway, but those proposals that would help reduce homeowners' real estate taxes definitely are a get-out-the-vote driver. More valuable homes, bigger tax bills: Here in Texas, as in many other places across the United States, home values have skyrocketed. We learned just how much when we got our latest notice a couple of weeks ago from the... Read more →


Vice President Kamala Harris looks on as President Joe Biden makes remarks on the White House lawn. (White House photo) Tax tradition return redux: Biden and Harris again release their tax returns The United States' top two elected officials were among the millions who filed 2021 tax returns this year. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden reported on their joint Form 1040 adjusted gross income of $610,702. After the figuring was done, they paid $150,439 in federal income tax, which was a 24.6 percent effective tax rate. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Douglas Emhoff reported more... Read more →


Do check out these following related — and legitimate — tax write-offs Sometimes your home is indeed located at the intersection of favorable tax breaks. Sometimes it's not. Below is a look at the difference between some questionable and acceptable residential (and more!) write-offs. Every tax-filing season, the great quest by filers is to find the most tax breaks. But there are some deductions and credits you should steer clear of. These expenses that don't meet Internal Revenue Service guidelines mean the agency will stop processing your tax return to give it second (or third, or …) look. At best,... Read more →


You have a mortgage that, even after refinancing at a lower rate, racks up a substantial interest bill. That home's property taxes were pretty hefty, too. (Note to self: Next appraisal period, protest the assessment.) Don't even start with your state — and county and city — income taxes. But at least your good salary meant you were able to be really generous. All those factors could mean you're in the tax-filing minority that finds itemizing expenses will get you a larger deduction than the standard amount. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your... Read more →


Homeowners know that keeping a residence in shape is a continual effort. Most of the time, we're just trying to keep things running. That maintenance is necessary, but it doesn't do much for us when it comes to taxes. But if you decide that instead of just fixing that cranky old furnace, it's time to go greener, you could get a tax break. Geothermal heat pumps are just one of the home upgrades that qualify for the renewable energy tax credits. If you took advantage of any of them in 2021, be sure to claim them on the tax return... Read more →


Tanker unloading crude oil (Photo by Hervé Cozanet, Marine-Marchande/Wikipedia Commons) Energy is on a lot of folks' minds right now. Europeans are keeping even warier eyes on Russia's invasion of Ukraine after an attack set off a fire at the continent's largest nuclear power plant. The immediate not horrific news is that there's no sign of radiation leaks at the Zaporizhzhia facility. However, damages to the infrastructure have left the nearly 53,000 residents of the Ukrainian city of Energodar almost without heat. It's unclear what the Russians, who've taken control of the plant grounds, are planning to do with the... Read more →


I got my first tax statement today, a 1099 for some freelance work I did last year. That's just one of the documents that millions of taxpayers are awaiting so they can file their tax year 2021 returns. In addition to income statements, such as the 1099-NEC I got, 1099s with details on investment earnings, and W-2 forms for folks with wage-paying jobs, there are beau coup documents reporting tax-related transactions. Among the most common are forms detailing home related mortgage interest and taxes paid from escrow accounts, retirement account distributions, prize and gambling winnings, and in some cases, health... Read more →


Photo: United Van Lines Our house is at that age where it needs a lot of care to continue to be comfortable. That's led to more frequent discussions about whether to stay or go. I'm the nester in our family, and was the one who pushed for buying our place almost 17 years ago. But a couple of times recently, like when our main HVAC unit needed to be replaced, I've argued for just selling and letting the new owners deal with it. The hubby has been able to talk me down so far. He also knows that as much... Read more →


Home Alone original house decked out for the holidays. (Photo via Airbnb) They say you can't go home again, but you can stay in the Home Alone house. Or at least four lucky movie fans will be there on Dec. 12, 2021. Tomorrow, Kevin McCallister's Winnetka, Illinois, residence turned criminal booby trap is welcoming the visitors for a one-night stay. The event in the house where the now-holiday-classic was filmed is not a contest, notes Airbnb. Rather, the reason for the bargain rate is that the overnight lodging is a charitable promotion that just happens to roughly coincide with the... Read more →


A faceoff from the last NHL game the hubby and I attended when we visited Washington, D.C., several years ago. Go Caps! (Photo by Kay Bell) While many U.S. taxpayers are pondering whether to pay their annual real estate by year's end to add to potential increased itemized deductions — C'mon already Congress; decide yea or nay on any state and local taxes (SALT) changes so we can act! — a professional hockey team is simply trying to straighten out the tax situation on its property. The National Hockey League's Arizona Coyotes have until Dec. 20 to pay delinquent tax... Read more →


Photo: JHL via Flickr The last couple of years have been challenging for U.S. citizens living and working abroad. The COVID-19 era for expatriates has meant they've had to deal with changing demands from their American-based employers along with the health rules of the nation where they live. One thing, however, has remained the same. Most Americans who go abroad for work still must deal with the Internal Revenue Service. They owe U.S. taxes on their income, regardless of where it's earned, because Uncle Sam still relies on a worldwide tax system at the individual level. There are, however, some... Read more →


As the fight continues on Capitol Hill over how to pay for President Joe Biden's economic and infrastructure plans, property taxes are getting a lot of attention. In one case, it's the real and continuing battle by some lawmakers to repeal or at least revise the itemized deduction limit on state and local taxes, including income and real estate levies collected at those governmental levels. In the other, it's a false claim about a new, nationwide real estate tax. SALT deduction change: First, a look at the real taxes, the state and local taxes, or SALT, collected by almost every... Read more →


As this recent report from my local Community Impact newspaper shows, Austin's housing market is en fuego. That's good news for sellers, but bad news for homeowners sticking around and seeing the increased prices drive up our property tax bills. My relationship with my neighbors, regardless of where we've lived, has been … interesting. They all and always intrigue and annoy me on a daily basis. To be fair, I suspect they feel the same about me. Right now, however, my real beef is with my former neighbors. Specifically, the ones who recently sold their homes in Austin's astoundingly (some... Read more →


You just finished filing your taxes last week. That included, for most Americans, state tax returns, too. And for some, the news was not good, especially on the state tax front. Residents of 42 states and Washington, D.C., face state and local taxes on at least some of the income, either earned (usually from jobs) or unearned (usually investment income). For some, the dollars handed over to their state and local tax collectors are more troubling than their federal tax amounts. High state taxes, both corporate and individual, usually is cited as a key reason lower-tax states like my native... Read more →


Washington's capital gains tax proposals have people talking. On both coasts. In Washington, D.C., President Joe Biden's call for those earning more than $1 million to pay a 43.4 percent tax on their investment earnings instead of the current 20 percent tax rate has anti-tax lawmakers and lobbyists working overtime to stop it before it gets going. That total comes from a return to the pre-George W. Bush tax cuts ordinary income tax rate of 39.6 percent plus the 3.8 percent Affordable Care Act investment income surcharge. Meanwhile, around 2,350 miles to the west, a new capital gains tax on... Read more →


One of the many reasons that people hate taxes is that after the hassle of filing, then comes the fear that a Form 1040 mistake will mean an audit. The sort-of good news for taxpayers is that the Internal Revenue Service hasn't been auditing as many people in recent years. The agency has had other things to worry about, like doing its myriad jobs with fewer staff and less money. Then there's COVID-19, with added pandemic payments that the IRS is tasked with distributing. Things could be changing, though. More people are getting vaccinated, meaning the end of the coronavirus... Read more →


We lost all our ornamental rosemary bushes in February's devastating winter storm. This debris pile is all that's left of them. (Kay Bell photo) February's surprisingly harsh winter storm has done a number on our yard. We are not alone. Major federal disaster areas were declared for parts of frozen Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. I've heard the same stories from my Austin neighbors, as well as friends in the Sooner and Pelican States. While some of our exterior flora made it through the subfreezing temperatures, quite a few of our plants succumbed. Our line of ornamental rosemary bushes in the... Read more →


A panoramic view of Positano, Italy, the famously vertical town where actor and food/travel show host Stanley Tucci found the highly-desired Amalfi Coast lemons. (Image courtesy Italia Agenzia Nazionale Turismo) Tonight, the hubby and I will watch our latest favorite television series, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy. The CNN show is part travelogue, but with routes determined by Tucci's tastes, which are so far spectacular. The award-winning actor, director, screenwriter, Instagram bartender and cookbook author (you're not surprised, are you?) essentially is eating his way through Italy, the county from which both sides of his family hail. He started in... Read more →