How Property Taxes and Mortgage Interest Affect Yearly Tax Returns

When it comes to owning a house, there are some benefits homeowners may see when they do their annual taxes.  Along with other expenses related to your home that may be deducted, homeowners can deduct the cost of their property taxes and mortgage interest from their federal taxable income.  

Mortgage Interest

Mortgage interest is the amount of money homeowners pay in interest on their mortgage.  Since interest rates vary depending on the terms of each individual mortgage, this number is different for every homeowner, and many rates will change throughout the life of the loan.  When it’s time to prepare annual taxes, the amount of money that was paid in interest on a mortgage can be deducted from total income.

Property Taxes

Property taxes are determined by the county in which you live.  These taxes can include different taxes such as school, and city government taxes, combined into one payment.  The county sets the property tax percent and the amount a homeowner pays depends on the value of their home. For example, if the property tax is 3%, a house worth $100,000 will pay $3,000 per year, while a house valued at $300,000 will pay $9,000.  The taxes paid can vary if a home increases in value, or vice versa.

When you do your taxes, the money you paid for mortgage insurance and property taxes can be deducted from your total taxable income.  If your taxable income is $50,000, and you paid $5,000 in insurance and taxes, you new taxable income is $45,000. The more deductions you have, the lower the taxable income is, and the more money you may potentially receive in a tax refund.  Your accountant will know what can and cannot be deducted, so the best course of action is to keep track of all interest, taxes, and monies spent on your home.

How to Find Good Tenants

Finding the right tenants in the Maryland location, Virginia location, or Washington DC location is essential to having a good renting experience.  Your property is an asset and you need to be able to trust your tenants to take good care of it.  Approaching the search for tenants in a businesslike way is the key to finding the right people. Here are some tips to help you fill your rental with good tenants.

Know the Law

Every state, town, and county has its own rental laws.  Make sure you understand the laws for the location your property is in.  This will help you create a lease document that is lawful and fair for both you as the landlord, and your tenants.

Select Advertising

Advertising your open property is a must to finding the right tenants, but be selective where you post your listing.  There are sites such as rentals.com or zillow.com that may charge you a fee for your post, but will bring you better results than free sites such as Craigslist.  Put up a sign in the window or lawn of the property, and advertise locally in stores or newspapers. Provide details and the rent to get responses from people who are actually interested.

Application

Always have a rental application asking for names, social security numbers, income, and previous landlord references.  Run a background check on potential tenants. Many renters expect to pay for this, so you can charge a one time fee to do so.

Strong Lease Agreement

Spend the time before you look for tenants drawing up a strong lease agreement that clearly details the responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenants, late rent fees, occupants, and terms for evictions.  Even if something seems obvious, spell it out in the lease.

Set the Bar High

Just because ten people have applied doesn’t mean you have to choose one of them.  Don’t lower your standards for a tenant just to get your property rented. Keep looking until you find a tenant you feel good about.

Buying/Selling Your House: 1031 Exchange

When you sell your house in the Maryland location, Virginia location, Washington DC location, or Baltimore location, any profits you make are subject to capital gains or recapture taxes.  To avoid paying those taxes, you can reinvest the profits in a new property under 1031 exchange.  To do this correctly, you’ll have to have a properly structured exchange.

There is a timeline for completing this exchange and you have just 45 days to find a property of similar or greater value than the one sold.  You only have 180 days total to complete the purchase of the new property.  This timeline is a bit tight if you want to take your time to shop around.

Like-kind Property

Another restriction on the 1031 exchange is the type of property purchased.  You can’t sell your business property and buy a house, or vice versa.  The property that is sold must be of like-kind to the property purchased.  They don’t have to be exact though.  You could sell a business and buy a business, or sell land and buy an apartment complex.

Debt and Equity

The 1031 exchange needs to be 100% in order to defer the taxes.  This means that the equity or profit from selling the property needs to be reinvested 100%.  If you make $50,000 on the sale of your house, you need to put that full amount back into the new property.  If you owed $200,000 on the property, you need to replace that same amount of debt as well.  You are exchanging the equity and the debt of one property for another.

Hire a Professional

Unless tax law and real estate are areas you considered yourself to be an expert in, you may want to consult a professional when looking at a 1031 exchange.  There are risks involved and if not done properly, you’ll still have to pay the taxes you’re trying to defer.  This is a great option for many people selling and buying a home, but to find out if it’s right for you, take the time to really learn the ins and outs of 1031 exchanges.

Airbnb vs. Traditional Rental. What Makes Sense for Your Property?

So you have a decision to make on your empty property: are you going to try and make money from renting it out to tenants on a contracted rental basis (traditional rental property), or can you put it on Airbnb and make more money that way? There are benefits to both, but which is better?

Your Time

Firstly with Airbnb, you or someone representing you will have to constantly be back and forth between the property. Whether it is letting new tenants in or clearing up once they have left. If you are not doing this you will need to oversee it so the condition of the property is always left in a good condition for the next visitors. There is also the fact that you will have to constantly check Airbnb and may need to answer questions, you could find yourself at the mercy of the app. With traditional renting you have the chance to speak to your potential tenants, sign a contract and once they are in you will only need to visit the property when a problem arises; you may even do it through an agency, although this can cost you it will also save you time. You will only have to visit the rental property or speak to tenants in the event of something that needs addressing.

Money

Airbnb is a good way of making more money from your property. You might get $1000 a month from renting your property to tenants as a traditional rental property. But if you were able to charge $100 a night for your home on Airbnb, your property would only need to be used for more than 10 nights to make more money, and if you managed to fill near on 3 weeks of the 4 in a month you would make around $2000. With traditional rental properties however, your $1000 is steady income every month, whereas you don’t know if anyone is guaranteed to book through Airbnb, unless you are in a desirable location. The money you make on Airbnb also has to be spent on the utility bills, whereas in traditional renting this is covered. You need to weigh which is the most profitable option depending on the cost of utilities in your area.

Flexibility

With Airbnb you are flexible not only on the rate that you charge but also on the amount your rent your place out. If it is in a location you like to visit, you can use your property at the times it is not rented. You can also change your terms and conditions at any point to suit you.

Occupancy

It will be appealing for most to know that their property is occupied, and they do not have to constantly find tenants. That is why a traditional rental property is the favorable option for many. The competition on Airbnb alone can make it challenging for many to make the money they desire. The problem with tenants in a traditional rental property is the fact that if you have difficult tenants, you might be stuck with them for a long time. The other side of this is Airbnb might leave you with some good, some bad every month.

These are all the elements you will need to weigh up when deciding what to do. It depends on the sort of person you are, if you want to leave the property alone and know your income is constant then traditional might be the way for you to rent your property. Maybe you’re more of a people person, or will be ok with the demands of renting your property out on Airbnb, the pros and cons are there for all to see.