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Economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis and civil unrest could cause many rental real estate properties to run up tax losses in 2020 and maybe beyond. This column covers the most important federal income tax questions and answers for rental property owners. Here goes.
What can I write off?
Nothing new here. You can deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes on rental properties. You can also write off all standard operating expenses that go along with owning rental property: utilities, insurance, repairs and maintenance, care and maintenance of outdoor areas, and so forth.
What about depreciation write-offs?
For many rental property owners, the tax-saving bonus is the fact that you can depreciate the cost of residential buildings over 27.5 years, even while they are (you hope) increasing in value. You can generally depreciate the cost of commercial buildings over 39 years.
Example: You own a small apartment building that cost $1.5 million not including the land. The annual depreciation deduction is $54,545 ($1.5 million/27.5). The deduction can shelter that much annual positive cashflow from income taxes. So, depreciation write-offs are nice tax-savers, especially if you own an expensive property or several properties.
Variation: As stated earlier, commercial buildings must be depreciated over a much-longer 39-year period. Even so, the annual depreciation write-off for a $1.5 million commercial building is $38,462. The deduction can shelter that much annual cash flow from income taxes.
Can I claim 100% first-year bonus depreciation?
Yes, for qualified improvement property (QIP) expenditures on a nonresidential building. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) included a retroactive correction to the statutory language of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The correction allows much faster depreciation for commercial real estate qualified improvement property (QIP) thatâs placed in service in 2018-2022. QIP is defined as an improvement to an interior portion of a nonresidential building thatâs placed in service after the building was placed in service. However, QIP doesnât include any expenditures attributable to: (1) enlarging the building, (2) any elevator or escalator, or (3) the internal structural framework of the building. Thanks to the CARES Act correction, you can write off the entire cost of QIP in Year 1, because it qualifies for 100% first-year bonus depreciation.
Alternatively, you can choose to depreciate QIP over 15 years using the straight-line method. That alternative might make sense if you expect higher tax rates in future years. Discuss your QIP depreciation options with your tax pro.
What else do I need to know about depreciation write-offs?
You ask such good questions. Thereâs more. The TCJA increased the maximum Section 179 first-year depreciation deduction for qualifying real property expenditures to $1 million, with annual inflation adjustments. The inflation-adjusted maximum for tax years beginning in 2020 is $1.04 million. The Section 179 deduction privilege potentially allows you to deduct the entire cost of qualifying real property expenditures in Year 1. I say potentially, because Section 179 deductions are subject to several limitations. Ask your tax pro for details.
The TCJA also expanded the definition of qualifying property to include expenditures for nonresidential building roofs, HVAC equipment, fire protection and alarm systems, and security systems.
Finally, the TCJA further expanded the definition of qualifying property to include depreciable tangible personal property used predominantly to furnish lodging. Examples of such property include beds, other furniture, and appliances used in the living quarters of an apartment house.
Can I claim the qualified business income (QBI) deduction base on my net rental income?
Maybe. For 2018-2025, the TCJA established a new personal deduction based on qualified business income (QBI) passed through to your personal Form 1040 from a pass-through business entity (meaning a sole proprietorship, LLC treated as a sole proprietorship for tax purposes, partnership, LLC treated as a partnership for tax purposes, or S corporation). The deduction can be up to 20% of QBI, subject to restrictions that kick in at higher income levels. For a while, it was unclear if you could claim QBI deductions based on net rental income passed through to you from one of the aforementioned pass-through entities. The IRS eventually issued taxpayer-friendly guidance that allows QBI deductions in most such cases, but you must follow complicated rules to collect the tax-saving benefit. As your tax pro for details.
What about the passive loss rules?
Ugh. If your rental property throws off tax losses (most properties do, at least during the early years and during years when the economy is suffering â like now), things can get complicated. The so-called passive activity loss (PAL) rules may come into play. Losses from rental properties will usually be classified as passive losses.
In general, the PAL rules only allow you to currently deduct passive losses to the extent you have current passive income from other sources, like positive income from other rental properties or gains from selling them. Passive losses in excess of passive income are suspended until you either have enough passive income or you sell the property that produced the losses. Bottom line: the PAL rules can postpone any tax-saving benefit from rental property losses, sometimes for years. Fortunately, there are several exceptions to the PAL rules that can allow you to deduct rental property losses sooner rather than later. Your tax pro can explain the exceptions and help you plan to become eligible, if possible.
Is that the end of the bad news?
Not exactly. Say you manage to successfully clear the hurdles imposed by the PAL rules for your rental property losses. So far, so good. But the TCJA established another hurdle that you must also clear to currently deduct those losses. For tax years beginning in 2018-2025, you cannot deduct an excess business loss in the current year. An excess business loss is one that exceeds $250,000 or $500,000 for a married joint-filing couple. Any excess business loss is carried over to the following tax year and can be deducted under the rules for net operating loss (NOL) carry-forwards. This loss disallowance rule applies after applying the PAL rules. So, if the PAL rules disallow your rental losses, this rule is a nonfactor.
COVID-19 Relief: Thankfully, the CARES Act suspends the excess business loss disallowance rule for losses that arise in tax years beginning in 2018-2020. Thatâs good news.
Whatâs the deal with net operation losses (NOLs)?
Say you manage to successfully clear both of the preceding hurdles for your rental property losses. Now we are talking, because you can generally use those losses currently to offset taxable income from other sources. If losses for the year exceed income from other sources, you may have a net operating loss (NOL) for the year.
COVID-19 Relief: The CARES Act allows a five-year carryback privilege for an NOL that arises in a tax year beginning in 2018-2020. So, you can carry an NOL from one of those years back to an earlier year, deduct it, and recover some or all of the federal income tax paid for the carryback year. Because federal income tax rates were generally higher in years before the TCJA took effect, NOLs carried back to those years can be especially beneficial. The TCJA kicked in starting with tax years beginning in 2018.
What if I have positive taxable income?
Eventually your rental property should start throwing off positive taxable income instead of losses, because escalating rents will surpass your deductible expenses. Of course, you must pay income taxes on those profits. But if you piled up suspended passive losses in earlier years, you can now use them to offset your passive profits.
Another nice thing: positive taxable income from rental real estate is not hit with the dreaded self-employment (SE) tax, which applies to most other unincorporated profit-making ventures. The SE tax rate can be up to 15.3%. Something to avoid when possible.
One bad thing: positive passive income from rental real estate owned by a higher-income individual can get socked with the 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT), and gains from selling properties can also get hit with the NIIT. Ask your tax pro for details.
The bottom line
There you have it: most of what you need to know about the federal income tax issues that can come into play for rental property owners. The economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis and recent civil unrest increase the odds that rental properties will suffer losses in 2020, but tax relief provisions may soften the blow.
The post 2020 Could Be an Unprofitable Year for Rental Properties. Hereâs How to Handle the Taxes appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
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When you apply for a mortgage or refinance an existing mortgage, you want to secure the lowest interest rate possible. Any opportunity a borrower can exploit to shave dollars off the cost is a big win.
This explains the allure of no-fee mortgages. These home loans and their promise of doing away with pesky fees always sound appealingâa lack of lender fees or closing costs is sweet music to a borrower’s ears.
However, they come with their own set of pros and cons.
No-fee mortgages have experienced a renaissance given the current economic climate, according to Ralph DiBugnara, president of Home Qualified. “No-fee programs are popular among those looking to refinance … [and] first-time home buyers [have] also increased as far as interest” goes.
Be prepared for a higher interest rate
But nothing is truly free, and this maxim applies to no-fee mortgages as well. They almost always carry a higher interest rate.
âOver time, paying more interest will be significantly more expensive than paying fees upfront,â says DiBugnara. âIf no-cost is the offer, the first question that should be asked is, âWhat is my rate if I pay the fees?ââ
Randall Yates, CEO of The Lenders Network, breaks down the math.
âClosing costs are typically 2% to 5% of the loan amount,â he explains. âOn a $200,000 loan, you can expect to pay approximately $7,500 in lender fees. Let’s say the interest rate is 4%, and a no-fee mortgage has a rate of 4.5%. [By securing a regular loan], you will save over $13,000 over the course of the loan.â
So while you’ll have saved $7,500 in the short term, over the long term you’ll wind up paying more due to a higher interest rate. Weigh it out with your financial situation.
Consider the life of the loan
And before you start calculating the money that you think you might save with a no-fee mortgage, consider your long-term financial strategy.
âNo-fee mortgage options should only be used when a short-term loan is absolutely necessary. I donât think itâs a good strategy for coping with COVID-19-related issues,â says Jack ChorosÂ of CPI Inflation Calculator.
A no-fee mortgage may be a smart tactic if you don’t plan to stay in one place for a long time or plan to refinance quickly.
âIf I am looking to move in a year or two, or think rates might be lower and I might refinance again, then I want to minimize my costs,â says Matt Hackett, operations manager at EquityNow. But “if I think I am going to be in the loan for 10 years, then I want to pay more upfront for a lower rate.â
What additional fees should you be prepared to pay?
As with any large purchase, whether itâs a car or computer, there’s no flat âthis is itâ price. Hidden costs always lurk in the fine print.
âMost of the time, the cost for credit reports, recording fees, and flood-service fee are not included in a no-fee promise, but they are minimal,â says DiBugnara. âAlso, the appraisal will always be paid by the consumer. They are considered a third-party vendor, and they have to be paid separately.â
âAll other costs such as property taxes, home appraisal, homeowners insurance, and private mortgage insurance will all still be paid by the borrower,â adds Yates.
Itâs important to ask what additional fees are required, as it varies from lender to lender, and state to state. The last thing you want is a huge surprise.
âDeposits that are required to set up your escrow account, such as flood insurance, homeowners insurance, and property taxes, are normally paid at closing,â says Jerry Elinger, mortgage production manager at Silverton Mortgage in Atlanta. âMost fees, however, will be able to be covered by rolling them into the cost of the loan or paying a higher interest rate.â
When does a no-fee mortgage make sense?
For borrowers who want to save cash right now, but donât mind paying more over a long time frame, a no-fee mortgage could be the right fit.
âIf your plan is long-term, it will almost always make more sense to pay the closing costs and take a lower rate,â says DiBugnara. âIf your plan is short-term, then no closing costs and paying more interest over a short period of time will be more cost-effective.â
The post What Is a No-Fee Mortgage? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
During the current financial crisis, you may ponder the idea of simply stopping payment on your mortgage. It is an option that some may want to consider in difficult times, but it is a bad decision all the way around.
The reason: It will affect your credit for years to come and is likely to result in the loss of your home. As a topper, the bank doesnât really want your house. Lenders are willing to help and would rather not foreclose.
So don’t adopt the tactic of pooh-poohing your payment and hoping for the best.
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, almost 7% of all mortgage loans are currently in forbearance as of April 19. Thatâs up from just under 6% the week before. To give some perspective, at the beginning of March, the number was just 0.25%.
While some mortgage holders are asking for help, the temptation not to pay is real. Let’s reiterate: It is a bad idea.
What happens if I donât pay my mortgage?
If you donât pay your mortgage, it will set you on the path to foreclosure, which means losing your house.
A mortgage is a legal agreement in which you agree to pay a certain amount to a lender for a certain number of years. Failing to pay violates that agreement.
Right now, federal (and some state) foreclosure proceedings are paused, but they will resume as soon as the economy begins to open up again. In some states, that may be imminent. The idea behind the pause was to ensure that people made it through the shelter-in-place orders with a place to shelter.
âThis is not a moratorium that [lenders] will never foreclose again,â says Mary Bell Carlson, an accredited financial counselor known as Chief Financial Mom.
âYou need to take this seriously and not just stop paying. Because if you stop paying and it adds up, youâre going to be first on the list to foreclose on when the economy reopens.â
Consequences of missing payments
Mortgage payments are due the first of each month and are considered late after the 15th of the month. Thatâs when late fees, penalties, and correspondence from the loan servicer begin.
âFirst off, youâll get a letter in the mail from your servicer which says you owe x amount and it must be paid by this date,â Carlson says. The letters will outline any penalties and late fees and will often include an offer of help.
âThe bank is not in the business of owning homesâthatâs not what they want to do,â she says. âTheyâre not looking to take over your house.”
She adds that lenders want to work out solutions to keep you in your house and avoid lengthy foreclosure proceedings.
Meanwhile, be wary if you receive a call or an email from someone saying theyâre your lender and you havenât paid. It’s probably a scam, says Carlson. Your lender will send notifications via the postal service.
Will not paying my mortgage damage my credit score?
Your loan will go into default after 30 days of nonpayment. The mortgage servicer will probably file a notice of default with your local government and report the nonpayment to the credit bureaus, which will negatively impact your credit score.
âThe credit is the first thing that gets hit. Your credit will take a nosedive if you stop paying your mortgage,â Carlson says.
âIf you just close your eyes and stop paying, your credit is going to dissipate, and it takes years for those things to fall off.â
A low credit score may impact your future ability to get a mortgage or to rent.
âNo one is going to want to rent to somebody who has just declared bankruptcy or has been foreclosed on, because that’s going to be a huge red flag,â Carlson warns.
As you continue to miss payments, penalties, interest, and correspondence from lenders will accumulate. Eventually, you’ll get a notification that the foreclosure process is underway.
How long will it be before foreclosure?
The foreclosure process is different in each state, so the process and its length may vary. Carlson says the process often begins in earnest after about six months of nonpayment.
She added that from the time of the first missed payment to about the six-month mark, lenders will work on solutions to avoid foreclosure. But if they don’t hear from you then, be prepared to lose your home.
âAt the six-month point, they say, ‘OK, all options are off the table at this point. You’re unwilling to work with us, we’re going to start foreclosure,’â says Carlson.
When this happens, the entire loan becomes due and repayment plans are no longer an option.
The timeframe varies by state, but sometimes as quickly as six months after the first missed payment, a lender can list the home for sale or hold an auction. A homeowner will have to vacate.
The current economic climate is delaying foreclosures, but proceedings will resume once states begin to lift suspension orders.
What do I do if I’m struggling to pay my mortgage?
If you’re having difficulty making mortgage payments, there are options. Some will help keep you in your house, while others will protect some of your credit. But don’t bury your head in the sand and simply stop paying.
âCommunicating with your lender is the key,â Carlson advises. âSo if you cannot pay, the communication methods need toâand must beâopen to communicate that to your lender and discuss the options you have.â
Here are a few of the common options if you want to stay in your home:
- Forbearance: A lender allows a borrower to pause payments for a period of temporary hardship, sometimes waiving late fees or penalties. Interest will often still accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, the missed payments become due. Forbearance is a good option if the financial situation is a short-term setback.
- Loan modification: Changing the terms of the loan and payments is possible. Often, this involves a divorce, job change, or an unexpected increase in expenses. Loan modifications are a tactic to deploy if you want to stay in your home, but can no longer afford the current payments.
- Repayment plan: If you are a few payments behind and think you can catch up, one option might be a repayment plan allowing you to make a lesser payment temporarily, until your finances are back on track.
Some alternatives if you don’t want to stay in your home and would rather walk away:
- Deed-in-lieu: In exchange for partial or total debt forgiveness, you voluntarily give ownership of the home back to the lender. This is usually when foreclosure is imminent, and you can no longer afford the payments and do not want to sell the property yourself.
- Short sale: If you want to sell the home yourself and owe more than the home is worth, you could ask your lender if you could do a short sale. The property usually sells for less than the balance of the mortgage.
These options may hurt your credit, but not as badly as a foreclosure.
The post What Happens If I Stop Paying My Mortgage? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.
Rafal Wazio/ Cary John Photography
A custom-built waterfront house with serious “Miami Vice” vibes is on the market for $3.2 million.
Built in 1986, this throwback house on Belle Isle Avenue in Belleair Beach, FL, is on the Intracoastal Waterway. Located near the warm waters of the Gulf, it sits on a key just outside the city of Clearwater.
âFrom the exterior, itâs an architecturally stunning home, because it doesnât conform to anything in todayâs easy, breezy, coastal, aesthetic demands. Itâs quite the opposite of that,â says the listing agent, Rafal Wazio.
No gray walls, quartz countertops, and vinyl plank flooring here. Instead, you have an 1980s masterpiece with oodles of color, recessed and neon lighting, and bold geometric shapes.
âIt’s a completely architecturally stunning home from the outside and from the inside. You know, it just wasnât built as a McMansion,â Wazio says.
The colorful residence measures 5,579 square feet but has only three bedroomsâand the agent is well aware of the unique floorplan.
âThere aren’t too many 5,500-square-foot, three bedroom homes. This one is designed as an en suite, so each bedroom comes with its own bathroom, its own closet, and beautiful open water view,â he explains. âItâs designed for the lifestyle of the owners.â
Each of the bedrooms comes with a not-so-modest feature: An open-air bathtub occupies the same space as the sleeping quarters.
Wazio compares the look to the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas or the Parker resort in Palm Springs.
Watch: Kansas’ Most Expensive Home Has a Water Feature You Won’t Believe
âThe bathrooms themselves are separate, but the tubs are all within the bedrooms,â he notes.
The master bedroom features elaborate glass doors and a statement mirrored ceiling, with a black jetted bathtub near the entry doors. An all-black bathroom with a number of accent lights and pops of gold is a private retreat.
A secluded outdoor space right off the master bedroom includes a spiral staircase leading up to the other decks.
The kitchen is sleek and glossy, including a cooktop on the peninsula and space for eating. The dining space nearby overlooks the water.
The main living space is two stories high, with plenty of chrome and a wall of windows. The bedroom entrances are on a balcony overlooking the space. A game room is located off the central space.
Several interested parties have toured the property and some have put in bids. Wazio says. Most of the visitors say they would keep it as it is, he says, with only one advocating for a complete overhaul.
The outdoor space is ideal for the Sunshine State lifestyle, with a pool, dock, and terraces on multiple levels.
âItâs an entertainer’s homeâand itâs unapologetically an entertainer’s home. That’s probably one of the coolest features,â says Wazio.
The entertaining deck atop the home has 2,300 square feet of party space, with easy access to the home’s multiple levels via a glass elevator.
Quite apart from the sheer amount of space for throwing a bash, it’s the breadth of the vistas that attract attention.
âItâs incredible,â Wazio says. âYou basically have four different views from four different directions from up there. You can look east, west, north, south.â
On the ground level, a patio area offers a gorgeous spot to take a dip.
âThe pool and spa are stunning with unique tile accents, using the same tiles the designers of the Versace pool in South Beach used,â Wazio says.
The home also boasts a dock out back, making it easy for the owners to navigate the short distance to the Gulf of Mexico.
The sellers designed and built the home and are planning to move out of the area. Theyâre waiting for the perfect buyer to come along in an area that is not known for its flamboyance.
âItâs an architecturally cool beyond words home. Itâs probably going to end up selling to an entertainer,â Wazio says. âIf we were in Miami, Vegas, or L.A., this would already have been a done deal.â
The post Wild on the Waterfront: This Custom-Built Florida Mansion Is So Totally ’80s appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.comÂ®.