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With 2018 Tax Reform Bill - one area of change that affect most of homeowners is whether mortgage interest on first, second or equity line mortgage is still tax deductible.  As of IRS last publication 936 (2017) - it depends on several criteria (see Figure A - flowchart below). As always, you should consult with your accountant for clarity. 


In summary – most married couple would still be entitled to deduct their mortgage interest for mortgage balances up to $1,000,000. 

Posted by Sam Kader on February 2nd, 2019 10:59 AM
Here in Washington state - property taxes are due twice a year - first installment is due on April 30th and second installment is due on October 31st.  Every time we hear a story of property prices are falling - the same question prevails: What does it mean for my property taxes? The short answer is it does not have any immediate impact on your property tax bill. 

What happen in current year is you or your mortgage company (depending whether you have an impound account or not) will receive the first half of your current property tax bill sometime in February. The first thing to know is that county assessors by law peg your tax bill to your home's value determined from about one year ago since they need the full year to go around figuring out the values of all 715,000 parcels in the county. That means the bill you will receive in February of every year will reflect the assessed value of your house as of Jan 1st of the prior year.  So by the time you receive your first installment notice - the property value of your assessed home is about 16 months old.  

Well - how about the following year? Will the softening market reduce tax bill then? Not necessarily (disappointing isn't it?).  According to the Assessor's Office - changing in home values are the least impactful ingredient in the changes to the stew they use to set property bill.  The actual process of how property tax bill is calculated is a bit confusing. Essentially, the assessor calculates how much money each public agency (from cities to schools to fire districts) gets property-tax revenue is due then the county works backward to charge property owners a certain amount based on their property's value to generate the total taxes that each property owner pays. Since Washington state does not have state income taxes - our property tax rates are generally higher than states that do have state income taxes.  

Here's an example of how it works: Let's say a school district is due $100 in property-tax revenue this year. There are two properties in the district - a green house worth $250,000 and a blue house worth $750,000. The owner of the green house which has one-fourth the district's total value pays $25 and the blue house pays $75. The next year, the district would be allowed to charge 1 percent more or in this case the green house would pay an extra 25 cents and the blue house another 75 cents. Should the value of the green house catches up (though renovation or upgrades) and becomes worth the same amount as the blue house then the $100 bill would be split evenly.  The county's appraisers usually come out and visit/drive-by each home once every six years to "reset" the home's value.  Thus, you may notice an especially large bump once every six years.  The other years the assessor relies mostly on nearby sales and market values to determine the assessed value.  

In general, those districts by law are not allowed to raise the revenue they generate by more than 1 percent each year. However, voters and public officials can override that cap with special taxes. For example, the voter-approved Sound Transit expansion in 2017 was  a big reason taxes went up in 2017.  

Should you feel that your property was overly assessed by the county, you can appeal your property-tax assessment - though only one-third is successful. If homeowners are 61 or better as of Dec. 31 of the previous year who own a home and make less than $40,000 may qualify for an exemption or deferral as do some disabled homeowners.  Please call County Assessor's office at 206-296-3920 to apply. 






Posted by Sam Kader on January 23rd, 2019 12:27 PM
Some things get more valuable with age like fine wines and real estate. The longer you keep them the more valuable they get. In real estate, homeowners should stay put for at least five (5) years before selling their property or risk loosing money. The reason for this 5
 year rule is that closing costs and real estate commissions required to buy and sell will consume between 7% to 10% of the cost of the house. Because real estate usually appreciates slowly, the longer you keep the house the more money you stand to make. As a general rule, 2 percent per year market appreciation is normal and 3 to 4 percent is a hot market.  We are lucky in Seattle where market appreciation has been double digits.  The average closing costs range from 2% to 5% of the cost of the house. Selling a house is often more expensive than buying one. The real estate commission alone can suck up 4% to 6% of the home's sale price. 

Should you need to move within the first 5 years of buying your house, consider renting it out. Generally, rental income is sufficient to cover for your mortgage payment.  If your homes are in vacation worthy locations like on the beach or near popular tourist attractions, you can also rent it out via platforms such as Airbnb or bookings. However, you should know local laws governing these kinds of rental. 

If you don't plan to on being in the house for more than five years, then you should seriously consider renting. 

Posted by Sam Kader on December 16th, 2018 6:40 PM

Yeah, you have finally reached the last milestone of your home buying process and have received the key to your house. It's moving day. Here are some moving expenses that you should factor in your budget: 

1. Peak surcharges. Many moving companies raise rates during busy summer times and weekends. Have a flexible schedule and relocate in an off-peak period to save money. 

2. Packing materials and equipment. Boxes, bubble wrap and packing tape can add up quickly. Estimate accurately of what you need or seek free materials from friends or online. If you are not hiring a professionals, try tenting these items to save money - furniture covers, hand trucks and bungee cords. 

3. Excess cargo. Movers usually factor the number and weight of items into the bill. To save money, donate or sell what you can before your move. 

4. Cleaning. If you have a security deposit at your current place, housecleaning services typically charge between $200 to $300 for a one-time cleaning. You will save money by doing some or all of the work yourself. 

5. Utilities.  Watch for deposits, taxes, and connection and installation fees hen setting up utilities. Ask these companies about charges in advance. 

6. Food. Think snacks for the road, restocking the refrigerator and pantry and feeding friends who've helped. Go to Costco could save you money. 

7. Lost or damaged items. Some belongings might not survive the journey. It may be worth purchasing protection to repair or replace property. If you have homeowners or renters insurance, you likely have some coverage but check your policy to confirm. 

8. Tips. Movers appreciate tips after a long day of heavy lifting. A good rule of thumb is 5 percent of the total bill. 

9. Storage. If you can't immediately move your possessions into your new home, you might have to rent a self-storage unit.Costs vary by size and location. The less time and space you need, the less expensive it will be. 

Moving is a huge undertaking. Mentally walk through the process from start to finish and outline the potential items and services you will need at least a month in advance. Then research prices and get multiple estimates for the best deals and services. 













Posted by Sam Kader on September 2nd, 2018 7:33 PM


Let me help you save hundreds of dollars at closing: 

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  • Conventional - Low down payment of 3%. Entire down payment of 3% can be gifted. 
  • FHA - low down payment of 3.5% (for those with high DTI ratio and low FICO score).
  • USDA and VA - 100% Financing, 0% down payment. 

Posted by Sam Kader on August 29th, 2018 7:31 PM

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