Frequently we post information and news that we believe has value.
Below is some valuable information that you should know as a home owner.
Homeowners Spent a Record Amount on Remodeling—but on What, Exactly?
With the Great Recession now finally in the rearview mirror, many homeowners—and their bank accounts—are suddenly a bit more flush. And that’s good news for their homes sorely in need of more than a fresh coat of paint. Some new flooring, maybe? How about brand-new kitchen countertops? And while you’re at it, maybe an entire HVAC overhaul?
Homeowners spent $361 billion—more than ever before—on home improvements, maintenance, and repairs in 2016, according to a recent report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. That’s a nearly 13.5% jump from the previous peak, in 2007, just before the housing market crashed.
Here Is How to Fend Off a Hijacking of Home Devices.
MODERN homes today are getting internet-connected light bulbs, thermostats, TVs and speakers. So with a simple voice command or the touch of a button on our smartphones, we can set the temperature, turn on a light or prepare the TV to record a program.
What could go wrong?
A lot more than most people are prepared for, it turns out. If one of these devices gets hijacked, hackers could potentially snoop around for sensitive data like financial or health information. Or they could use a network of compromised devices to perform a widespread attack that takes down major websites, which is what happened last October.
The good news is that so far, online attacks on home devices are relatively uncommon. Only 10 percent of American consumers said they were victims of the crime in a recent study done for the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. However, those who experienced such an attack through their home gadgets reported losses of $1,000 to $5,000 from the incidents.
Article by: Brian x. Chen - NYTimes
The History Hidden in the Walls
A scorched red corset.
Half of a dog’s skull.
A 19th-century clay pipe.
Once you start digging — whether excavating long-populated urban land for a commercial project or tearing down the walls of a house — you never know what you’ll find. It might be a ritual object placed there to ward off evil spirits 300 years ago, or a few decades ago. It might have been put there on purpose or left by accident. Unless it’s a time capsule with a note enclosed, you’ll never know for sure.
Every building carries history within its walls, ceilings, floors and foundations. The very wood, plaster and stone can contain powerful secrets, even talismans, some of which were placed there for future inhabitants to find — a thread linking past and future.
Article by: Caitlin Kelly - NYTimes
5 big tax breaks for homeowners
If you own a home and are looking to save on your taxes, or if you’re considering buying a home in 2017 and trying to see if you can afford it, here are five valuable deductions that you may be able to claim if you’re a homeowner:
The interest paid on a home loan is typically the largest potential deduction for middle-class Americans, said Greene-Lewis. For instance, a 30-year mortgage on a $300,000 at current rates will run you more than $12,000 in interest payments your first year. If you happen to own a second home, too, you can also deduct the mortgage interest on that, as long as it isn’t a rental property.
If you recently purchased a home but paid “points” to the bank in order to get a better rate, that expense is tax deductible in the year you paid them. A point is typically 1% of your loan amount so, on that $300,000 home, you would get a $3,000 tax break for paying down one point. Points on refinance loans and home equity loans are also deductible but must be spread over the life of the loan instead of all in one year’s return, so those are less lucrative but can still ad up.
“If you make expenditures that improve the energy efficiency of your home, you may qualify for a tax credit,” said Neil Krishnaswamy, a certified financial planner at Exencial Wealth Advisors in Frisco, Texas. “These include items like insulation, windows, doors and roofs.” A tax credit is even better than a deduction, because they are dollar-for-dollar savings instead of simply saving you whatever tax you paid based on your income bracket. For instance, if you’re in the 28% tax bracket, then a $1,000 deduction lowers your tax bill only $280, while a credit lowers your tax bill by $1,000 regardless of your effective tax rate. There are limits on energy credits depending on what you purchased, but the dollar-for-dollar savings make them very valuable.
State taxes levied on your primary residence is deductible, too, and can add up in a hurry depending on where you live. For instance, the Tax Foundation found, in 2015, that New Jersey residents typically pay almost 2.4% in property taxes – almost twice the national average, and about $7,000 on a $300,000 home. Deducting this big local tax bill can save you a lot on your federal return.
If you suffered property damage and weren’t reimbursed by an insurance company for repairs, you may be eligible for a big deduction. Whether it’s a flooding or a fallen tree or even vandalism, sometimes damage to your home can cost you thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. Your casualty loss deduction must exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income, so don’t bother writing off small-time repairs. But if you incur significant expenses repairing your home after an unfortunate event, document everything and tap into this tax break to ease some of the pain.
Article by: Jeff Reeves - USA Today