One area of the real estate market that is thriving right now is rental property.
All indications suggest that the rental market will continue to improve because of low vacancy rates and rising rents. In fact, the demand for rentals is predicted to far exceed supply through 2016, with 4.5 million new renters expected to enter the market in the next five years.
What to consider before buying a rental
Being a landlord has its challenges. The recession took a toll on rental prices for a few years and any future economic downturns could do the same. Once the job market returns to normal, there’s a strong possibility that more people will choose to move from rentals into homes of their own. And the demand for rental properties could become oversaturated at some point, resulting in an investment bubble of its own.
What’s more, while the income from a rental property can be significant, it can take at least five years before you’re making much more than what you need just to cover the mortgage and expenses. In other words, the return on your investment doesn’t happen overnight.
However, in the long run, if you select the right property, it could turn out to be one of your best investment decisions ever—especially since rental real estate provides more tax benefits than almost any other investment.
Tax deductions for the taking
One of the greatest things about owning rental properties is the fact that you’re able to deduct so many of the associated expenses, including a sizeable portion of your monthly mortgage payment.
The commissions and fees paid to obtain your mortgage are not deductable, but the mortgage interest you pay each month is, including any money you pay into an escrow account to cover taxes and insurance. Whatever your mortgage company reports as interest on your 1098 form at the end of each year can likely be deducted.
For example, you may be eligible to deduct credit card interest for goods and services used in a rental activity, repairs made to the building, travel related to your rental (local or long distance), expenses related to home office or workshop devoted to your rental, the wages of anyone you hire to work on the building, damages to your rental property, associated insurance premiums, and fees you pay for legal and professional services. However, as is the case with any transaction of this type, be sure to consult your attorney or accountant for detailed tax information.
What to look for
As with any real estate investment, the location of the property and its overall condition are both key. But with rental properties, there are some other, unique factors you’ll also want to consider.
Look for a building with separate utilities (water, electric, and gas, etc.) for each rental unit. This will make it far easier to legally charge for the fair use of what can be a very costly monthly expense.
If your property is one of the few rentals in the neighborhood, there will be less competition for interested renters.
Rentals that are near popular public transportation options and/or major freeways (without being so close that noise is an issue) are usually easier to rent—and demand more money.
Properties with small yards and fewer plantings are far easier and less expensive to manage.
Not only is off-street parking a desirable feature (people with nice cars usually don’t like to park on the street), it’s also a requirement for rental properties in some communities.
How to start your search
Unlike homes, rental properties do not typically have a visible ‘for-sale’ sign standing out front (as landlords don’t want to irritate, bring attention to their current renters, or turn off any prospective renters). Therefore, if you are interested in a rental property, your best option is to schedule an appointment with your real estate agent/broker to discuss your investment goals and identify what opportunities currently exist in the market place.
Posted September 7 2016, 11:00 AM PDT by Tara Sharp
This was posted in the Wall Street Journal:
Renting out a second home is one way to pay off the mortgage while leaving time for family fun
The rise of short-stay rental sites like Airbnb and HomeAway is tempting homeowners to purchase vacation homes that will also generate income.
For some, renting is a way to recoup some costs of a second home purchased primarily for family fun. Others do the math and find it makes sense to rent full time or close to full time.
Rental income can also defray the cost of improvements if the second home is a fixer upper, says Brian Sharples, CEO of HomeAway, which has more than 1.2 million paid listings in 190 countries. Vacation homeowners make an average of $28,000 a year in rental income, according to results of a quarterly survey released in March of 1,253 owners who list on HomeAway.com, VRBO.com and VacationRentals.com.
In a separate annual HomeAway survey released in June, 70% of 663 respondents said rental income covered more than half of their mortgage payments. Fifty-four percent said rental income covered 75% or more of their mortgage payments. Owners also used the income to fund their everyday living expenses (23%), upgrade and renovate the property (23%), pay for a child’s education (21%) and save for retirement (11%).
Last year, the average purchase price for a vacation home in the U.S. was $192,000, according to the National Association of Realtors. Of the 920,000 vacation homes sold, 61% were financed with a mortgage. ( News Corp, which owns The Wall Street Journal, also owns Realtor.com, the listing website of the National Association of Realtors.)
Overall, home prices have been rising over the past few years in most vacation hot spots. But buyers also should consider that interest rates are low, says Don Ganguly, CEO of HomeUnion, a California-based residential investment and management firm. “It could be the perfect window to blow cheap money into an area that is doing well and rents are going up,” he adds.
Buying a property solely for rental income has its risks. And how the property is used affects the borrower’s mortgage options. Both conforming and jumbo mortgage rates for a second home usually are equal to or within a quarter of a percentage point of current market rates for a primary residence mortgage, says Norman T. Koenigsberg, president and CEO of East Brunswick, N.J.-based First Choice Loan Services. Lenders typically require a minimum down payment of 10% for conforming loans and 20% for jumbos on second home mortgages, he adds.
Also, the lender will factor in the borrower’s existing home payments as well as the new mortgage payments when calculating the debt-to-income ratio, which reflects the borrower’s monthly debt payments as a percentage of gross monthly income. Lenders prefer a ratio that is 43% or lower, but some will go up to 45% for an otherwise strong applicant, Mr. Koenigsberg says.
However, if an owner plans to rent the home most of the time, a lender will categorize the property as “investment,” making it ineligible for a second-home mortgage, says Dave Gorman, Bank of America sales executive for the Northwest region. Qualification guidelines are tighter for investment-home mortgages, including a higher minimum credit score, higher down payment (25%), and a lower DTI, he says.
On the plus side, projected rental proceeds may be included in income calculations for an investment-home loan, Mr. Gorman says. If a home hasn’t been previously rented or is a new property, the lender will consider comparable rental income for the area, he adds.
Here are a few more considerations:
• Local regulations. Some counties and municipalities consider vacation-home rentals the same as hotel stays and require owners to collect occupancy or lodging taxes from guests. Communities also sometimes limit the number of homes that can be rented on a temporary basis, so vacation-home buyers who intend to rent should check for any local restrictions before purchasing, Mr. Gorman says.
• Budget fully. While borrowers may be able to afford another mortgage payment, they should be comfortable paying for the property taxes, insurance and upkeep of any property they own and finance, Mr. Gorman says. Remember these expenses remain even if there are no renters, he adds.
• Repair and write off. If the vacation home is rented, expenses related to repairs, maintenance, cleaning and utilities may be tax deductible, either fully or prorated based on the time it’s rented. However, costs for improvements must be capitalized and then depreciated. Check with a tax expert for specific rules and restrictions.
Corrections & Amplifications:
Investment-home mortgages may require a higher down payment of 25%. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the down payment could be 75%. (Aug. 3, 2016)
Posted in Living by Tiana Baur
Abiding by rental rules is important, but so is style and making a house feel more like a home. Thus, we’ve put together a little list for you to help personalize your home, while still insuring you get your security deposit back by the end of it.
Let’s be honest, rentals often lack sufficient storage place, and since custom cabinetry isn’t usually an option for renters, investing in some added storage is key. Add some simple shelves, bookshelves, baskets, or under the bed storage.
Vertical blinds may be the ultimate decorating sin. No one likes feeling as if they’re living in a motel room. We suggest you either take them down or hide them under curtains. Just don’t throw them out or you may not get your security deposit back!
Pillows, throws, candles, books, light fixtures… the only way to get a truly genuine space. This is by far the easiest and a MUST.
Those pesky holes might keep you from hanging art or photos on your walls, but when it comes down to it, they’ll only take a few minutes to patch up when it comes time to move out. This doesn’t mean you have to hang an entire art gallery, but hanging one statement piece and placing the rest of the photos on a mantel or shelf should do the trick.
Last but not least, rugs: the peanut butter to your rental jelly. If there are scratched hardwood floors or stained carpets, you can cover those up easily with a throw rug. Not only that, a rug is a great investment piece that will add your personal flavor to any space. And they absorb noise and make a room feel comfy.
Do you dream of owning your own home? Or are you happy to rent a place where a landlord takes care of all your home issues? There are pros and cons of both renting and owning your home. Here are some issues to consider if you are on the fence:
Tax Breaks For Second-Home Owners
By Jean Folger | Updated May 06, 2015 AAA |
Many homeowners look forward to purchasing a second home that can be used for vacations, rental income, investment purposes or as a primary residence during retirement. Current tax laws offer several tax breaks that can help make second-home ownership more affordable. If you already own, or are thinking about purchasing a second home, it will be in your best interest to understand the tax breaks and how they work. Different tax rules apply depending on how you use the property, for either personal or rental use, or a combination of the two.
As long as you use the property as a second home – and not as a rental – you can deduct mortgage interest the same way you would for your primary home. You can deduct up to 100% of the interest you pay on up to $1.1 million of debt that is secured by your first and second homes (that’s the total amount – it’s not $1.1 million for each home). You can also deduct property taxes on your second home and, for that matter, as many properties as you own. Like a primary residence, however, you generally can’t write off any of the costs associated with utilities, upkeep or insurance (there are exceptions to this; for example, you may be able to claim a home office deduction if part of your home is used for business purposes).
Rental Use – The 14-Day or 10% Rule
The tax rules are quite a bit more complicated if you rent out the property. Different rules apply, depending on how many days a year you use the home for personal versus rental use. There are three categories into which you may fall:
1. You rent out the property for 14 days or less.
Your second home can be rented to another party for up to two weeks (14 nights) each year without that income begin reported to the IRS. Even if you rent it out for $10,000 a night, you don’t have to report the rental income as long as the home was not rented out for more than 14 days. The house is still considered a personal residence, so you can deduct mortgage interest and property taxes under the standard second-home rules.
2. You rent out the property for 15 days or more, and use it for less than 14 days or 10% of days the home was rented.
This property is considered a rental property, and the rental activities are viewed as a business. If your second home is rented out for more than 14 days, all rental income must be reported to the IRS. You can deduct rental expenses (including mortgage interest, property taxes, insurance premiums, fees paid to property managers, utilities, and 50% of depreciation), but you have to factor in the amount of time the property is used for personal use versus rental use. And, as a rental property, up to $25,000 in losses might be deductible each year. Fix-up days don’t count as personal use, so you can spend more than 14 days at the property as long as it is for maintenance purposes. You should be able to document the maintenance activities, however, with receipts to prove you weren’t using the property for leisure purposes on those days.
3. You use the property for more than 14 days or 10% of the total days the home was rented.
If you use the property for more than 14 days, or more than 10% of the number of days it is rented (whichever is greater), the property is considered a personal residence and the rental loss cannot be deducted. If a member of your family uses the property (including your spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren), those days count as personal days unless you are collecting a fair rental price.
Selling Your Second Home
Tax laws allow you to take up to $500,000 profit ($250,000 if you are unmarried) tax free on the sale of your primary residence. This primary-home sale exclusion does not apply if you sell your second home: If you sell a house that is not your primary residence, you may have to pay the usual capital gains tax. If you make the second home your primary residence for at least two years before you sell it, however, you may be able to reap some tax benefits, but it’s not as easy as it used to be.
Prior to Jan. 1, 2009, you could move into your second home, make it your primary residence for two years, sell it, and take advantage of the primary-home sale exclusion. Now, as a result of new laws associated with the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, you can still make your second home a primary home before you sell it, but you’ll owe taxes for the period of time that the property was a second home after Jan. 1, 2009. The IRS now uses a ratio of the years you occupied the home as a primary residence versus the years the home was used as a rental (or other-than primary residence) to calculate the amount of capital gain that will be excluded from the sale.
For example, the Smiths purchased a second home in 2004. They continued to use it as a rental home during 2009 and 2010, and then used the home as a primary residence during 2011 and 2012. Only 50% of the capital gains from the sale of the home will be tax free (up to the $500,000 exclusion) since the home was a primary residence for only 50% of the time after Jan. 1 2009.
A 1031 exchange, also known as a like-kind exchange or tax-deferred exchange, is a transaction where a seller swaps a rental or investment property for another rental or investment property of equal or greater value, on a tax-deferred basis. The advantage is that the seller may be able to avoid paying capital gains tax on the exchange. A property must be considered a rental property (and not a personal residence) to qualify for a 1031 exchange. This means that you must rent out the property for 15 days or more, and use it for less than 14 days or 10% of days the home was rented.
The Bottom Line
If it’s financially feasible, owning a second home can be an excellent investment for vacation or rental purposes, or to use as a primary home during retirement. Because owning any home carries a significant financial burden – from mortgage and taxes, to maintenance and repairs – it is in your best interest to understand the tax implications of second-home ownership. Since tax laws are complicated and do change, owners and potential buyers should consult with a qualified real-estate tax specialist to gain a full understanding of tax implications and laws, and to determine the most favorable ownership strategy.
Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/013014/tax-breaks-secondhome-owners.asp#ixzz3ii6HQxeW
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