Home prices in the Seattle metro area dipped for the fourth month in a row in January, in line with a nationwide decrease, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index released Tuesday. The average price of existing single-family homes in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties dropped 0.8 percent from the previous month, after a 0.5 dip in December. By comparison, the 20-city index dropped 0.1 percent in January, as it did the previous two months.
Source: The Seattle Times, March 25, 2014
Home price rising more slowly, but for-sale signs remain scarce:
The median price of single-family homes in King County rose in March to $414,950, an increase of 6 percent from a year ago, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service said Thursday. Prices surged in Snohomish and Pierce counties: The median price rose 9 percent to $314,975 in Snohomish, and 13 percent to $230,000 in Pierce. A continuing tight inventory of homes for sale kept pressure on prices. “Everyone’s waiting for the spring bounce in listings,” said Seattle economist Matthew Gardner.
Source: The Seattle Times, April 3, 2014
Rising rents, rising towers push out tenants of modest means:
When a developer demolishes the century-old Williamsburg Court Apartments in downtown Seattle this year, 49 households will have to find new homes. They include a high-school math teacher, hotel concierge, classical trumpeter, restaurant manager, theater coordinator, a writer and two executive chefs. Across the street at the high-rise apartment tower Aspira, a one-bedroom unit starts at just under $2,000 — more than twice what many residents pay at the three-story Williamsburg Court.
Source: The Seattle Times, April 5, 2014
Severe inventory shortage sends Seattle-area housing prices higher:
Homeowners, if you’re thinking about selling, real estate agents have a message for you: Get off the dime already. A report from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service on Thursday said housing prices in the metro Puget Sound area rose in March compared with a year ago. The main reason is an inventory shortage. The listing service said that in King County, there’s only a 1.8-month supply of houses and condos for sale. Industry analysts say a four- to six-month supply is needed for a balanced market.
Source: Puget Sound Business Journal, April 3, 2014
2 Puget Sound-area neighborhoods on ‘green’ homes list:
Two Puget Sound communities have been named to a list of the top 10 U.S. neighborhoods that have the largest number of “green” homes. Downtown Bellevue was fourth on the list, with 36 percent of its residential home listings having green features, and Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood was No. 8 on the list, with 30 percent of its residential listings having green features.
Source: Puget Sound Business Journal, April 17, 2014
If you upgraded one or more of the following systems last year, you may be eligible to take a tax credit — up to $500 — on your return.
- Biomass stoves
- Heating, ventilation, air conditioning
- Roofs (metal and asphalt)
- Water heaters (non-solar)
- Windows, doors, and skylights
The energy tax credits are small, but at least a credit is better than a deduction:
- Deductions just reduce your taxable income.
- With a credit, you get a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability: If you get the $500 credit, you pay $500 less in taxes.
Limits on IRS energy tax credits besides $500 max
- Credit only extends to 10% of the cost (not the 30% of yesteryear), so you have to spend $5,000 to get $500.
- $500 is a lifetime limit. If you pocketed $500 or more in past years combined, you’re not entitled to any more money for energy-efficient improvements in the above categories. But if you took $300 back then, for example, you can get up to $200 now.
- With some systems, your cap is even lower than $500.
- $500 is the max for all qualified improvements combined.
Certain systems capped below $500
No matter how much you spend on some approved items, you’ll never get the $500 credit — though you could combine some of these:
|New windows||$200 max (and no, not per window—overall)|
|Advanced main air-circulating fan||$50 max|
|Qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler||$150 max|
|Approved electric and geothermal heat pumps; central air-conditioning systems; and natural gas, propane, or oil water heaters||$300 max|
And not all products are created equal in the feds’ eyes. Improvements have to meet IRS energy-efficiency standards to qualify for the tax credit. In the case of boilers and furnaces, they have to meet the 95 AFUE standard. EnergyStar.gov has the details.
Tax credits cover installation — sometimes
Rule of thumb: If installation is either particularly difficult or critical to safe functioning, the credit will cover labor. Otherwise, not. (Yes, you’d have to be pretty handy to install your own windows and roof, but the feds put these squarely in the “not covered” category.)
Installation covered for:
- Biomass stoves
- Non-solar water heaters
Installation not covered for:
- Windows, doors, and skylights
How to claim the energy tax credit
- Determine if the system you installed is eligible for the credits. Go to Energy Star’s website for detailed descriptions of what’s covered; then talk to your vendor.
- Save system receipts and manufacturer certifications. You’ll need them if the IRS asks for proof.
- File IRS Form 5695 with the rest of your tax forms.
This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but isn’t intended to be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice, and remember that tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.
In a 1031 Exchange, money from the sale of an investment property can be put towards another “like-kind” property. This means that an investor can exchange a commercial property for another, or a residential rental property for a commercial property. But, be careful! This deal is time-sensitive. You only have forty-five days to identify possible replacement properties, and one hundred and eighty days to close escrow on the actual replacement property. (The IRS is very strict about this timeline.)
And unfortunately, your own personal residence or vacation home cannot be used in the 1031. These properties are not considered to be of “like kind” to any real estate held for investment or business purposes (even if you conducted business from inside your home).
Check out the detailed guide below to sell as smartly as possible! Your heirs just might thank you.
Check out this interactive infographic that takes a look at the rankings of each state in terms of a whole host of factors including college tuition, gas prices, and home prices to name a few.
Guest post from Andy Fulton
Fact: Seven of the 10 NFL teams that have gone to the Super Bowl the most (five times or more) are from cities with HIGH median home prices, when compared to the average median home price of cities with NFL teams.
Fact: Nine of the 13 NFL teams that have gone to the Super Bowl the least (one time or less) are from cities with LOW median home prices, when compared to the average median home price of cities with NFL teams.
These two facts beg the following question: Is there somehow a correlation between the number of times a professional football team has gone to the Super Bowl and the real estate prices found in their home city? Keep reading to find out!