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5 Psychology Tricks to Use When Selling Your Home

Using Psychology to Sell Your Home

When selling real estate, either as a profession or as the property owner, the goal is always to get the highest sale price possible. Much consideration should go into setting the right price — too high and you might be waiting indefinitely for a buyer, too low and you may leave money on the table.

In slower, less competitive markets, this can be fairly easy. Do some research, find some comparable properties, and set your price. The challenge, though, comes with highly competitive markets. In places where housing inventory is significantly lower than demand, you’ll often find homes selling above list price.

In December 2019, real estate website Redfin released a report of the 20 most competitive neighborhoods to buy real estate in the US. While California predictably took up many of the top spots, the Golden State shared space on the list with areas outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and others. In these areas, homes typically sold for more than list price (some areas averaging more than 25% above list) and typically in under two weeks.

Location is typically most responsible for sold-above-asking-price scenarios, but home type, amenities, and other features come into play. By avoiding common pitfalls and using psychology, sellers can get the highest price for their property in the shortest amount of time.

Psychology Trick: Overconfidence Bias

What it says: People tend to think they’re smarter/more skilled than they are.

Why it matters: Pricing a home wrong can lead to not selling or leaving money on the table.

What to do: Hire a real estate professional you trust!

Talk to a few agents before hiring one or deciding to go it alone. Selling real estate may seem like a really simple process, but once you get a look under the hood it starts to become clear the advantages of hiring a professional. Looking to buy a home? This psychology trick applies to buyers too! Make sure you don’t overpay or get swindled by letting the pros handle it — as a buyer, you don’t have to pay to use an agent!

Psychology Trick: Reciprocation Tendency

AKA The Foot-in-the-door Phenomenon

What it says: People are more likely to give you something reasonable if you ask for something outlandish first

Why it matters: A home priced at $515,000 seems like a great deal if another property in the area sold for $675,000 even if the properties aren’t similar at all.

What to do: Price it right! Unless your home is the nicest one on the market, it’s wise to price your property in the middle of the field. When buyers see the highest price, everything below it seems reasonable, whether or not they’re truly comparable.

Psychology Trick: Envy/Jealousy Tendency

What it says: People will want what others have and are reluctant to give it up to others

Why it matters: If a home appears to have a lot of interest, buyers are likely to put in more aggressive offers than if it seems like no one else is interested.

What to do: Host an open house on a weekend afternoon when there isn’t a lot of competition from other local events. Sure, some “just looking” folks or nosey neighbors make show up (thanks, Curiosity Tendency!), but even that will help to make the home look even more popular!

RealtyHive Time-Limited Events are another great way to use this trick in your favor. By creating massive levels of exposure through digital marketing, you can leverage the Envy/Jealousy Tendency to get more offers from buyers who are afraid of losing out on your home.

Psychology Trick: Confirmation Bias

What it says: People tend to look for information that supports their beliefs and reject any information that contradicts it.

Why it matters: If a buyer thinks the home is overpriced, they’ll look to confirm that belief by finding all the small issues they can — even small things like burnt out bulbs or a dingy outlet face plate can make buyers wonder what else could be wrong that they don’t see.

What to do: Take a walk through your home with fresh eyes and try to spot the wear-and-tear pitfalls. These fixes are inexpensive to do and can prevent potential buyers from creating a mental list to price-reducers as they walk through.

Psychology Trick: Anchoring

What it says: Anchoring is the tendency to jump to conclusions and base a final judgment on information gained early on in the decision-making process. Once an initial assumption is made, it’s hard to see other possibilities.

Why it matters: There’s no second chance to make a first impression so it’s important that any property puts its best foot forward. If a buyer falls in love at first sight, it’ll be easier for them to continue to come back to that initial reaction after seeing the rest of the home.

What to do: Step up your curb appeal. Grass needs to be mowed, bushed should be trimmed, porch lights on, and any clutter cleared from view. If possible, have buyers enter through the front door instead of a garage or side door to really give them the “Wow” impression.

14 Delicious Recipes for Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is a religious holiday that celebrates the last day before Lent. Also called Fat Tuesday, it’s a time for giant celebrations, age-old traditions and of course, delicious dishes! Mardi Gras isn’t just popular in the states though, people all around the globe celebrate Fat Tuesday by frying up sweet and savory pastries. From New Orleans classics like kings cake or etouffee, to international delectables like German fasnacht or Swedish semlor, make this Mardi Gras the best one yet with these 14 scrumptious Fat Tuesday recipes:

Cajun Jambalaya

If you haven’t ever had the chance to try Jambalaya before, you are sorely missing out! Jambalaya is a Louisiana original dish with European and West African influences. It’s mostly made of meat and vegetables, and it’s a Mardi Gras-must. The Cajun seasoning gives it that extra kick that makes it so flavorful. Bonus: It’s super easy to make!

Shrimp Etouffee

Etouffee is another classic Mardi Gras dish that comes from New Orleans. Originally, etouffee comes from Cajun and Creole recipes, but now the dish is known all over the world! You can’t have Mardi Gras without etouffee, and this delicious shrimp etouffee recipe is the perfect way to celebrate it!

Gumbo

Gumbo is a token symbol of the city of New Orleans. In fact, it’s actually Louisiana’s state cuisine! There are probably 1000 different ways you can make gumbo – chicken, shrimp, sausage, vegetables – try this recipe for instant pot gumbo that’s bursting with flavor!

Dirty Rice and Shrimp

A truly authentic Louisiana cuisine, dirty rice gets the name “dirty” from all of the delicious ingredients that it’s cooked with. Chicken, beef, vegetables, spices and seasonings all add to the delicious flavor. Try this recipe for dirty rice with shrimp!

Red Rice and Beans

Not that great at cooking? Don’t want to spend hours on one dish? Try cooking red beans and rice! Red beans and rice is another delicious Mardi Gras dish that comes from Louisiana, but it’s super easy to make and takes no time at all!

Kings Cake

If there’s one pastry you’re gonna try for Mardi Gras, let it be Kings cake. Kings cake isn’t just a dessert, it’s a tradition that people all over the world celebrate! Not only is it absolutely delicious, but it also brings families together to celebrate. Plus, it has a super interesting story behind it!

Beignets

Mardi Gras originally started as an excuse to eat as much sugary, sticky, fried food as possible before the season of Lent. What’s a better food for Mardi Gras than beignets? In New Orleans these light, fluffy delicacies are served for breakfast, dessert, or even just a quick snack! You can make beignets right at home with this easy recipe!

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Get your beignet on. #regram @yamarilet

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Bread Pudding

While bread pudding is served all over the world, in the states, particularly in Louisiana, it’s especially sweet! The sugary sprinkles and the sweet sauce topping make it the perfect dessert for Mardi Gras!

Milk Punch

Milk punch, coming from the saying “milk with a punch” is a classic New Orleans cocktail. The city of New Orleans may not have invented milk punch, but they definitely perfected it! The brandy and bourbon mixed with the sugar and nutmeg make it the perfect beverage for the Mardi Gras season!

Paczki

Also known as Polish donuts, Paczki has been a part of Polish cuisine since the middle ages, and since then they’ve become a huge part of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday meals. In fact, they even have their own holiday, known as Paczki Day, for people to make and enjoy paczki before Lent. They come in a bunch of different flavors, and you can make your own here.

Swedish Semlor

In Sweden, Semlor are a delicious Fat Tuesday tradition that goes back ages. Semlor are sweet rolls that are topped with whipping cream and powdered sugar, perfect for a Fat Tuesday celebration!

Italian Bowties

Cioffe, frappe, angel wings, there are probably 1000 different words for the same thing: these light, fluffy Italian pastries. Italian bowties are pastries made for Carnevale, which is the celebration of Mardi Gras in Italy. These heavenly pastries would make the perfect recipe for a Mardi Gras celebration!

Fasnacht

Want to try a German recipe? Try fasnachts! Fasnachts are traditional German pastries that are usually served during Mardi Gras (or Fasching, in Germany). They’re similar to donuts, but much tastier!

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Pancakes

You can’t talk about Mardi Gras recipes without mentioning pancakes! Pancakes are the original traditional Fat Tuesday pastries. In some parts, Mardi Gras is actually called pancake day! You can celebrate by frying up your own hot cakes, or you can use this Fat Tuesday Pancake Recipe!

What Is a 1031 Exchange?

Think back to eating lunch in the school cafeteria as a kid. Remember some of the trades that used to go on? You could trade a ham sandwich for pita and hummus or have essentially your pick of the litter if you were willing to part with some Oreos.

While a bit more technical and dealing with much higher prices than a chocolate pudding cup, 1031 exchanges are not all that different from swapping food at the lunch table. Find out how this is an incredible tool for real estate investors to take advantage of, how a 1031 exchange works, and how you can get started.

How does a 1031 exchange work?

When you buy an investment property, you have to pay capital gains taxes on it when you eventually sell it. This can easily cost thousands of dollars.

With a 1031 exchange, you can defer these taxes as long as you purchase a similar property, using the profits from the first property’s sale. Back to the lunch table analogy, it’d be like trading Cheetos for BBQ Lays, then trading the BBQ Lays for something else instead of eating them. 

To lay it out a bit further, here’s the typical process:

  1. Sell an investment property.
  2. Take the profits and purchase a “like-kind property” (more on that in a minute).
  3. Save on having to pay taxes in the process.

Are investors trading properties with someone else?

In a traditional sense, yes. Since this code came about in the 1920s, people were able to (and still can) swap their investment property for someone else’s. Nowadays, it’s pretty unusual for this to happen.

Many 1031 exchanges happen through a three-party system. In other words, a third party or middleman holds onto your profits from selling, then uses that money to get your next property.

What other benefits exist for a 1031 exchange?

Other than tax benefits, here are some other huge advantages to a 1031 exchange:

You could switch into owning rentals.

Imagine selling land for a duplex and suddenly being able to rent that property out. You’ll start generating income that you might not have otherwise made from owning raw land.

You can change properties.

Going off of that first benefit, you don’t have to stick with just one type of property. If you own a rental home in Iowa but want to switch to owning a commercial property, by all means! Sell that rental home and use the profit to pay for a commercial building.

You don’t have to stay in the same state.

Investments can happen all over the country with a 1031 exchange. Say you sell that Iowan rental and see a great opportunity for real estate investing in Wisconsin, go right ahead. Maybe you went to school in Virginia and would love to have a connection back to that state but you’re living in California — VA rental properties are still fair game.

You don’t have to give up property investing.

Stuck with a nightmarish, time-consuming rental property that you want to get rid of, but you don’t want to completely get out of the game? A 1031 exchange is perfect for you. You can sell your tough rental situation and transfer those earnings over to a different investment property that requires less attention.

Where do I start?

Before you can start trading at the lunch table, you need food. RealtyHive has all the goodies you can imagine. While we’re based in Wisconsin (and have plenty of Wisconsin investment properties to boot), we list land, residential, commercial, and international properties as well. 

Find your investment opportunity through RealtyHive and start dreaming of tax deferment and 1031 exchange benefits today (we know, that’s what most people dream about anyways).

Is Your House Making You Sick?

There’s my-house-has-ugly-wallpaper sick, and there’s my-house-might-be-making-me-sick. If your home has to fall into one of those categories, we’d hope it’s the former. But there are a lot of environmental factors that could exist in your home (especially if it’s older) which could lead to illness.

We’re no doctors, but we know houses. If you’ve dealt with persistent illness or health issues that just don’t seem to go away, it’s worth investigating if your house is the culprit.

Asbestos

Once considered a miracle material, we now know that asbestos can cause cancer. Asbestos in homes was used for tiles and insulation among other things before being banned in 1977. If your home was built before this time, there’s a chance it could have asbestos.

As much as we humans love to dive into DIY renovations, it’s important to find out if you have asbestos before ripping things apart. Otherwise, you might be at risk for exposure. Hire a contractor or environmental consulting firm to check your home.

Silica Dust

Silica is found in anything from drywall to ceramic and brick. Especially when renovating (or if something made of silica is broken apart on accident), silica dust in homes is harmful when inhaled. It’s nearly microscopic, but can cause lung lesions and make people more at-risk for developing diseases.

When Americans are exposed to asbestos today, it is usually through renovation or demolition work on an old building that still contains legacy asbestos products.

Black Mold

No one wants mold in their homes — any type can cause health problems — but black mold is notorious for health issues. Coughing, sneezing, headaches, and fatigue are all symptoms that your home might have black mold, otherwise known as Stachybotrys chartarum.

You can tell if you have black mold in your house by these signs:

  • Mold in damp or humid areas (or areas exposed to water damage)
  • Mold that’s black in color
  • A strong, musty odor

Lead Poisoning

With these pipes wreaking havoc on cities like Flint, MI, we know more than we once did about the dangers of lead. According to the EPA, “Lead pipes are more likely to be found in older cities and homes built before 1986.”

Lead paint was also commonly used up until 1978. Consuming (such as kids eating loose paint chips) or inhaling can lead to poisoning. There are myriad symptoms that can affect people cognitively or physically. If you suspect lead in your home, contact a licensed lead risk assessor. 

Allergens

Allergies can develop seemingly out of the blue, but we can also become aware of them when circumstances change. For example, you might grow up in the Midwest, move to the plains of Wyoming, and realize you’re allergic to sagebrush.

Homes can carry a ton of potential allergens — dust and pet hair are common, even if you don’t have pets, the previous owners might have. Getting tested could be worth it if you consistently have symptoms when at home. It’s also good to check if these symptoms change when you spend time outside of your house or area.

Your home should be a place of rest and comfort, not a cause for sickness. It might cost a fortune to change any structural house issues, which is where RealtyHive comes in. You can sell your home as-is and find a new house, all in one place. Check through our listings and start feeling better.

Tax Incentives for Homeowners

We all know buying and owning a house is expensive. But many first-time homeowners (or soon-to-be homeowners) don’t realize all the ways they can save. Even if it’s not tax season, it’s great to keep in mind all the tax incentives for homeowners that exist.

Property Tax Deductions

Property taxes can cost homeowners an arm and a leg. Fortunately, you can deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes on your return or, if you’re married but filing separately, up to $5,000. This includes the potential to deduct on multiple properties, such as vacation homes, land, and in some instances, even RVs!

One thing to keep in mind: you can only deduct on property taxes you’ve already paid.

Working From Home

There are a number of ways you can save if you work from home. In-home daycare providers, self-employed freelancers or independent contractors, and even those who rent out a room for others can all benefit from this tax deduction! 

Here are some important things to note:

  • For home offices, you can only deduct if you use this part of your house exclusively, regularly, and as a primary place of business.
  • You’ll need to record any expenses that went towards maintaining the office space throughout the year.
  • If you’re working from home for another company, this tax incentive for homeowners does not apply to you.

Read up on Publication 587 for all the details.

Home Equity Loan Interest

Took out a home equity loan this year? You can deduct the interest as long as the loan was used appropriately. In other words, as long as it was used to improve your home. If the loan wasn’t used for those exact purposes, that interest can’t be deducted.

Mortgage Interest

Depending on when you bought your home (only works for homes bought after 12/15/2017) and how much you borrowed, there’s a good chance the you can write off some of your mortgage interest. Use NerdWallet’s mortgage interest deduction calculator to see how much you can save.

Renewable Energy

Have you made the switch to solar panels this year? Good for you. The other great news is that renewable energy earns you a huge tax deduction. You can deduct 26% of your installation costs for solar panels.

Do some research into other tax breaks as well — there are even tax incentives for homeowners with solar water heaters and geothermal heating. 

Don’t let the expense of buying a home hold you back

If you’ve held off on buying a house because of the expenses, remember that there are plenty of ways you can save. It’s not just tax incentives that can help, either. You can find some incredible listings through RealtyHive, and since they’re time-limited events, you might save more than you thought. Check out our homes for sale today!

Dealing With the Stress of Selling A Home

Dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars? Ensuring you have a place to live? Not wanting to lose thousands in a poor sale? Yeah, it makes sense why selling a house is no cakewalk.

The stress of selling a home is very real, especially if your home isn’t selling. We’ve covered how to make your home as “sellable” as possible, but now we just want to make sure you and your moving anxiety are doing OK. Try these tips if things start to feel overwhelming.

Get to the root of the fear.

Facing our fears is very scary and vulnerable, but it’s the only way we can work through them. Ask yourself what is scaring you or making you nervous. Once you answer that question, keep asking “why” until you get to the bottom of things. When you arrive at the root of the fear, you can finally start working towards a solution.

Here’s an example of this line of questioning:

  • What am I afraid of? I’m afraid the house won’t sell.
  • Why is that scaring me? If it doesn’t sell we’ll have to pay two mortgages (including our new house).
  • Why is that scaring me? That’s a lot of money and I don’t want to have to pay that much. I’m worried it will be an unmanageable financial burden.
  • Why is that scaring me? I don’t want to run out of money and be in a bad situation.

At this point, we know that the seller is worried about financial security and what life is like if that security isn’t there. Luckily, there are plenty of backup plans that can serve as a solution to the selling stress (try saying that five times fast).

Selling while simultaneously buying a house? Get some help.

It takes a village to raise a child and sometimes, that child is moving from one house to the next. The point is, you should absolutely rely on others to help with this transition. 

Skip the FSBO route if it’s causing you grief. Spend money on a Realtor(s). Look into time-limited events. Above all else, remember this: Spending money on things that make your life easier and less stressful is money well spent. You will actually lose money if you try a DIY home sale and your house ends up sitting on the market for months.

Map everything out, but be flexible.

Moving stress only magnifies when you’re on a deadline. Make sure you give yourself enough time to not only get everything done, but to plan everything out. For instance, if you have to move across the country for a new job, tell your employers how much time you need — and don’t be afraid to ask for an extra week to settle in. The worst they can say is no.

When you have a move-out date in place, it’s time to divide and conquer. Set a goal each week of what needs to be done before moving day, but don’t freak out if something goes awry. People get sick, jobs get busy, sometimes you need to get some sleep instead of packing in late-night zombie mode. And leading into our next point, hire people to help you out.

Consider hiring movers.

Most people who hire a moving company end up hiring them for all future moves — it makes life so much simpler and once you know, you can never go back. You don’t need an excuse to hire movers, but especially if you’re feeling stressed, consider paying movers an investment in your mental health.

Weigh out all your options.

We started to touch on this earlier on, but it’s always a good strategy to have some backup plans in place — well before you list your home. Come up with some alternatives in the event that your house isn’t selling. Here are some things to keep in mind in case that happens:

  • Save up money in case you need to pay for more than one down payment.
  • Budget for a seller’s agent.
  • Find other listing strategies (such as time-limited events).
  • Think about turning your existing home into a rental property.
  • Assess whether selling is a need or a want — in other words, if your house doesn’t sell, can you still stay there?

Remember to take care of yourself.

Stress worsens when we shove our physical and mental well-being to the sidelines. Keep drinking water (it sounds simple but it’s easy to forget when stressed), get enough sleep, eat healthy (though packing-night pizza is a must), meditate, journal, take a 10-minute reading break — you do not need permission to retain your sanity, even when selling your house.

One of the easiest ways to take care of yourself during a home sale is to let the pros take over. Use RealtyHive as a resource for selling or finding an agent (or buying a new dream home). We are happy to take that stress off your plate and help you successfully sell.

How to Add Value to Your Home

Sure, we all know that general remodeling can improve your home’s value. But what are some specific measures you can take that have an impact? Instead of doing a massive house overhaul, what individual steps and investments will up your home’s sellability (and benefit you in the process)?

Projects to Increase Home Value

Update paint.

While the painting part itself isn’t exactly easy, updating paint is one of the simplest tasks to up your home’s worth. Everything from adding an accent wall to updating trim to swapping out 1980’s wallpaper for a modern paint color — all are valuable ideas.

Embrace the eco-friendly.

Light fixtures, low-flow shower heads, window treatments, smart thermostats — the small (but mighty) ways you can update your home to be more eco-friendly are infinite. Becoming eco-friendly is no longer a fad, it’s growing into an expectation. The greener your house, the greener your finances — both now and when you eventually decide to sell.

Going solar is another great idea, though the idea might feel daunting. Look into rebates and see how solar could work for you — this is an absolute game-changer when it comes to adding home value.

Say “peace” to the popcorn ceiling.

Ahh, popcorn ceilings. Everyone’s favorite home cringe. If your popcorn ceiling is from 1979 or earlier, you should have a professional check for asbestos. Any ceilings after 1980 should be fine to remove yourself, you just need a weekend to dedicate to this wonderful task. It’s not fun, but it’s worth the increased home value.

Build a beautiful yard.

Creating a paved cement or brick patio gives potential buyers the opportunity to imagine themselves living at your house. They’ll think about what kind of backyard shindigs they’ll throw or how they’ll read outside in the summertime. Landscaping in general is a great home value increaser; a patio is a necessity.

Store it up.

Ask most Realtors and they’ll agree: built-in storage tends to make the top of a buyer’s wish list. Whether adding this to a closet or garage is up to you, but it will make a difference in both your home’s clutter and overall worth.

Aesthetic Ways to Increase Home Value

Make rooms look bigger.

Blinds that let in more light and — you guessed it — a mirror can do wonders for a room. More light gives a sense of more space and these additions create a valuable illusion.

Bathtub? Bring it on!

Many potential buyers won’t use it, many will swear they’ll use it all the time but regardless, everyone appreciates the idea of a nice tub. When you have a home feature that makes interested buyers go, “Oooh!” you know you’ve hit the jackpot. A bathtub does just that.

Fix the flooring.

That old, worn down carpet needs to go, but if you’re not ready to get rid of it just yet, you have options. Consider adding a gorgeous rug (preferably one that will still work without carpet) to spruce up your space, and schedule yearly floor treatments to ensure things last.

Swap out some sinks.

A stained kitchen sink or an outdated vanity are drab, and you deserve something fab. Switching to stainless steel in the kitchen (if it matches the rest of your home’s aesthetic) or opting for a modern vanity do aesthetic wonders for your home and overall value.

Dial up a designer.

Not sure where to start or what the latest trends are? Interior designers (or even real estate agents) are great resources to help you add value to your home. Contact someone local for a consultation — you’ll likely pay $100 or so, but it’s well worth their expert advice and insights.

These changes might seem small or inconsequential, but they can truly pack a punch. Potential buyers, whether in a time-limited event or traditional listing, can tell when effort was put into maintaining and improving a house, as well as when it wasn’t. When you eventually decide to sell, every little thing counts.

Home Buying Tips for New U.S. Citizens

The home buying process is often daunting for many people, but for those who are new U.S. citizens, the task can be particularly difficult. However, having a house to oneself is a dream for many immigrants, and there are options available that can help make the process easier to navigate. 

In order to help get your footing on the home buying process as a new U.S. citizen, here are a few tips and resources you can utilize to make your journey as easy as possible.

Save Early

While there are first-time homeowners loans available that immigrants should certainly take advantage of, these loans still require a down payment of 3.5%. Therefore, saving money in advance is imperative to the process. 

Signing up for a bank account in the United States as a new citizen can be difficult, especially due to the potential lack of a U.S. credit score. However, there are now online banks that don’t require credit checks to sign up, allowing you to have a safe place to save your money during your home buying process.

Build Credit

As mentioned previously, credit scores play a major role in the home buying process; your credit history will impact the interest rates and loan amounts you have access to. This applies to most mortgage services, aside from a few agencies that perform underwriting for home buyers and don’t take credit score into account when applying.

However, there are options available for new citizens looking to build their credit. One option would be to use your international credit report to get credit in the United States. This means that you won’t need to spend time signing up for credit cards and building credit, if you have a solid credit score from your previous nation of residence.

Find Community Support

Remember that the home buying process isn’t something that you need to take on all by yourself. Through the support of your friends, family, and other members of your local community, you can find a great network of people who have been through the home buying process themselves. Many of them would be more than willing to provide insights and advice on how to navigate it in the best, most cost-effective way. 

Finally, look for real estate agents that have experience working with new citizens, as they can often point you in the direction of the best resources for you to utilize while searching for a home. They will also be more understanding of your current situation, and give you the time and advice you need, to avoid rushing into the process and overspending, or settling on a home you don’t enjoy. At the end of the day, being a homeowner is a wonderful experience, and the day you finally sign the final deal will be incredibly rewarding.


Relatable articles: Why “We Buy Houses for Cash” is a Bad Idea

Home Ownership & Taxes: What You Need to Know

Just like marriage, word on the street is that there are tax benefits to owning a home. But how do real estate incentives work? How does this vary in different states? When it comes to taxes and home ownership, what do you need to know?

A Few Tax Breaks for Homeowners

We’re kicking off this blog to cover the basics: As a homeowner, you’re eligible for several tax benefits. We’ll dive deeper into this in a later blog, but here are some initial things to keep in mind:

Tax IncentiveDescription
Mortgage interest reductionDeducts interest paid (if this number is at least $600) on a mortgage.
Property tax reductionIf filing jointly, you can claim up to $10,000 in property taxes.
Home equity debtDeducts interest paid on a home equity loan.

There are a ton more real estate tax incentives — so many that we’re saving them for a separate blog — but it’s good to think about now! Why wait until tax season to know how you as a homeowner can save?

Home Ownership And Taxes: FAQ

Buying a house is such an extensive process, full of information and details that take awhile to understand. Many first-time homeowners get so caught up in the house-buying process that they don’t realize how tax codes affect them. 

If this sounds familiar, don’t panic — finding answers to common tax questions is truly a “better late than never” scenario. In fact, much (if not all) of this info can save you thousands.

How does owning a home change your tax filings?

Homeowners fill out Form 1098 using information sent to them by their lender. If you paid at least $600 in interest on your mortgage, your lender will send you the proper documents to file for a tax break.

How do homeowner taxes change from state to state?

The biggest difference between states is property taxes. There is no state that doesn’t have property taxes, but there are huge differences across the map. Homeowners pay a percentage of their home’s value for property taxes (collected by their lender), and these taxes go towards schools, roads, and other state/city needs.

However, we should take this time to mention that state taxes vary drastically. Use this info as a starting point, but always talk to a tax consultant and do your research to know what’s what.

Which states have the highest and lowest property taxes?

States With the HIGHEST TaxesTax Rate
New Jersey1.89%
New Hampshire1.86%
Texas1.81%
States With the LOWEST TaxesTax Rate
Louisiana.18%
Hawaii.26%
Alabama.33%

*As of 2019.

It’s good to know what your state’s taxes are before you buy a home. If you’re as open to living in Texas as you are to living in Alabama, you could save thousands a year.

How are international properties affected?

International properties and taxes from country to country are an extremely murky area. It’s best to consult with a tax expert who’s familiar with the country where you own (or hope to own) property.

However, there is the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) to content with. As Forbes reports, “FIRPTA is unusual in that it places a withholding requirement on buyers, as opposed to sellers, who purchase U.S. real property interests worth more than $300,000 from non-U.S. owners.”

As of 2016, this withholding requirement of the total purchase price is now 15% — up from 10% in years prior. This is good to keep in mind as you peruse any international listings.

How does tax filing work for rental property owners?

There are tons of deductions that landlords can take into account. Interest on loans, depreciation of property, repairs, and travel expenses are some of the biggest deductibles. If you’re a rental property owner, make sure you keep track of every mile traveled between properties as well as a record of all repairs.

What should all homeowners do to prepare for tax season?

Our best advice is to keep records and do your research. If you’re not yet a homeowner but see this on the horizon, continue to do your research while you’re looking for the perfect home. A perfect home is a little less perfect if you haven’t properly taken taxes into account.

The amount to know about taxes is almost infinite — it’s likely well worth your while to consult a tax expert who can help you get the best real estate tax incentives. Just make sure you book an appointment before March or April!