5 Potential Tax Deductions for Homeowners

by Shea Homes Arizona on March 27, 2015

Home ownership improves life in many ways – and when tax day comes on April 15, homeowners could enjoy taking advantage of these significant tax deductions.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Deduction

Any homeowner putting less than 20 percent down on the purchase of a home is required to have Private Mortgage Insurance. In addition to writing off the interest you’ve paid on your home, you also get to write off the amount spent on PMI.

Points Deduction

Homeowners who pay points fees when purchasing a home may fret when they have to hand over the cash at closing, but come tax time, they can turn that frown upside down. Points fees (each point is the equivalent of 1% of the purchase price of the home) are included in the income tax deductions list!

Interest on a Home Improvement Loan

If you’ve taken out a home improvement loan to add “capital improvements” to your home, you’ll get to enjoy more than a new and improved living space. You’ll also get to deduct the interest paid on the loan. Just make sure your home improvement loan qualifies, as loans taken out for repairs only are not eligible for the deduction.

Home Office Deduction

Work from home? Be sure to look into the deductions that may be available for using a portion of your home as an office. The IRS has specific requirements that must be met for the deduction, so read up on all the details here: http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Home-Office-Deduction.

Moving Costs

Did your job require you to make a move to your current home? If the move was at least 50 miles from your old home and you worked full time for at least 39 weeks during the 12 months following your move, you may be eligible for a deduction on your moving costs. Deductions would apply to costs including transportation, lodging and storage fees.

For more information on Shea Homes and what we’re up to at the Arizona division, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, get inspired with us on Pinterest, and learn all things homebuilding on our YouTube channel.

Note: This article provides general information on tax deductions that may apply to certain homeowners. Consult with your tax professional to determine if you are eligible for these and other deductions related to home ownership.

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Whether you’re just moving in or deciding to redecorate, where to place your furniture can seem like a daunting task. Not only are you worried if the pieces you love will look great in the space, but also how to create a functional layout that will make your family and friends comfortable.

By doing a quick scan of decorating best-practices and taking into account how you want to communicate in each space in your home, you can find the furniture configuration that will make you, and your guests, feel right at home.

Design Tips

While each room in each home will require slightly different furniture layouts, there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure your room flows and is easy to navigate – no one likes needing to crawl over the knees of a stranger to get up to use the restroom.



      • Rooms are all about balance – be sure your furniture is “talking to each other” vs floating by themselves (that means no chairs alone in the corner!)
      • Don’t feel like all your furniture must be along a wall- pulling it into a living space will create a homier feel

 

Décor Decisions

Now that you have some key planning ideas to keep in mind, figuring out how you’ll interact with guests in each room of your home will be key to determining what furniture you’ll want and how to arrange it all. Read on for some examples, as well as conversation starters you can use to get the discussion started!

1). Entertaining multiple guests in the kitchen

Plan on hosting dinner parties often? Make your kitchen an entertainment destination by orienting barstools to focus on the main cooking area. That way you can finish cooking up your signature recipes, all while starting a conversation with your guests and encouraging them to engage with each other.  

Conversation starter for this room: If you could travel to one country you’ve never visited to try the local fare, where would it be? (Tweet this conversation starter!) kitchen seating area diagram

2). Dining with a group

While serving your entire dinner at your kitchen bar is completely acceptable when amongst close friends, when entertaining a group that isn’t all that familiar with each other, a circular arrangement is more comfortable. Studies have shown that, “circular shaped seating arrangements prime a need to belong while angular shaped seating arrangements prime a need to be unique.” By having everyone sit at circular table with no assigned seating, guests will all feel on par with each other. (Tweet this seating tip!)  

Conversation starter for this room: What path did you take to end up at your job? How did you end up living in this city?

3). Entertaining new neighbors

It’s always a little unnerving when visiting a new place, so make your guests as comfortable as possible by allowing them to sit in a seat where their backs are not facing an open space or door, research has shown this position can help lower blood pressure and make people feel more at ease. (Tweet this seating tip!)

Conversation starter for this room: What’s been your favorite part of the neighborhood so far?

living room seating area diagram

4). Personal conversations

Arranging seats side-by-side and slightly facing each other creates what is called “the co-operative position.” This arrangement allows for open communication where participants are likely to work together to try and accomplish the same task. Consider creating a small conversation area like this in your bedroom or other private area for sensitive topics of discussion you share with a loved one. (Tweet this seating tip!)

Conversation starter for this room: What is one thing that someone could do to help you get through the week better?

small bedroom seating area diagram

5). Turning solo-work into a cooperative effort

Need the kids to focus on homework? Consider creating personal spaces for them to concentrate on their own. Adding a chair with wheels also makes it easy for people to roll into the co-operative position when someone needs help or has a question.

Conversation starter for this room: What was most interesting thing you learned today?

home office with multiple desks

6). Laughing with friends

Let everyone relax a bit in an outside space clustered around a focal feature. A fire-pit, whether it’s built-in or portable, is a great way to bring everyone together – the warmth and sound of the fire helps everyone lower their walls and open up. Arranging the seats in a circle and providing a footrest will further the relaxing atmosphere of the area.

Conversation starter for this area: What is the top item on your bucket list you want to accomplish? (Tweet this conversation starter!)

 

outdoor patio with fire pit

Do you have a room layout that works great for you? Show us a photo on Twitter (just tag us using @Shea_Homes), or, leave us a comment below with the tips & tricks that have worked best for you.

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BackCountry. Seven years. No itch.

by Shea Homes Colorado on March 24, 2015

 

It’s been seven years since Roxie Mountain-Weed and Rick Weed moved into what was then a brand new community named BackCountry. And back then, in the days before the Sundial House, Discovery Center, or even a single model home, when all there was to see was a trailer and some drawings, this was a leap of faith.

But when they saw the views of the Front Range and downtown Denver and understood the vision for the community, they both instantly agreed: “This is it,” Roxie recalls saying. “It was kind of wild. But because of Rick’s work in land development, we knew Shea’s reputation. We wanted a Shea home, and we loved all the open space that was going to be attached to the community.”

BC-Resident Quote Weed 1

Over the years, Rick, Roxie, and their three children (now in college) have logged quite a few miles on those trails in the 8,200-acre Backcountry Wilderness Area. Still do. One of Roxie’s favorite activities is taking a walk at sunset with her walking stick, “Moab,” and watching the deer and other wildlife come out. Other tried-and-true favorites include concerts and movie nights.

“There’s something wonderful about lying on the grass, under the stars, and watching a fun movie with all the little kids running around. And now you can run into Indulge [at the Sundial House] and grab something to drink. It’s just so cool here. Sometimes I just think…‘pinch me’!”

BC-Resident Quote Weed 2

Seven years later, Roxie still speaks enthusiastically about their decision, noting how well the community has evolved. “We’ve lived here long enough to know that Shea keeps its promises and does everything well. The Sundial House turned out so beautiful and high-end, so far beyond our expectations. And I can’t say enough about the landscaping.” Their home still makes them happy, too. It feels a little big with the kids gone, but Roxie says she can’t see herself moving. “Actually, I should probably get out more, but I just love to be home!” The indoor-outdoor living features are among her favorites, with a wrap-around deck that can handle a party of 50, plus French doors off the morning room that create a huge extension of the house. Perfect for the Colorado lifestyle.

So, no, they don’t plan on leaving BackCountry any time soon. “I am so happy that I live here,” says Roxie. “Even after all this time, I still feel like I’m on vacation. It’s like I have a mountain home, but in the city. I just can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

Here’s a video of Roxie and Rick sharing their thoughts on BackCountry back in 2012.

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Top 9 Tax Write OffsWhether you own your own home, or are considering purchasing one in the future, knowing what kind of tax breaks home ownership allows for is key when filing your taxes. In a previous blog post, we explored some common tax write-offs to help you uncover deduction opportunities. This post will add to that list by including five home-related tax breaks that apply to homeowners and buyers.

5. First-Time Homebuyer

A few years ago, the first time homebuyer tax credit was a federal program where new homeowners could receive when filing their taxes. Now, however, no such nationwide program exists anymore. But, if you purchased your very first home, or purchased a home after three years of non-ownership in the last year, you are considered a “first-time homebuyer” and may qualify for various assistance programs within your state. A list for 2014 credits can be found at HomeOwnership.org.

6. Mortgage Interest

You know that pesky interest you pay on your mortgage each month? It’s deductible! Not only is the mortgage interest on your living space deductible, any mortgage interest paid on a second home is, as well.

7. Real Estate (Property) Taxes

Taxes that are paid directly to a tax authority or through an escrow account set up by your mortgage company may be deductible. As long as you own the property and only claim the amount you paid within a given tax year, you can take advantage of this federal tax deduction.

8. Energy-Efficient Home Improvements

Did you make energy-efficient updates to your home in 2014? Items such as doors, skylights, insulation, doors and other renovations may qualify for tax credits if they fall within certain federally approved categories and products.

Since this tax credit has been extended a few times already and it’s unsure of how much longer it may be around, if you are considering buying a new home in the future, consider looking into a home that was built with energy efficiency in mind, so any future updates won’t affect your pocketbook.

Going green can save you some green with certain tax write-offs!
(click to tweet this reminder)

9. Home Office Deduction

Is your home office decked out to the nines and your central place of business? You may qualify for the home office deduction! While we recommend asking your tax professional or reading the full explanation of home office tax deductions before claiming this write off, there are a few basic requirements you’ll need to meet:

  1. You must regularly use your home for conducting your business
  2. You must be able to show that your home is regularly used to conduct your business

If you have a dedicated space for your business, you may be able to use the entire room as a deduction; however, if you don’t have a dedicated space, you’ll have to determine a percentage of your home that is used for your business.

Employees who work out of their home, may also qualify for this deduction if they meet the above criteria, the use of the home office is in benefit to the employer, and no part of the home is rented to the employer to perform services.

Do you have a home office? Just because you work from home occasionally, doesn’t mean you can write off all of your expenses.
(click to tweet this reminder)

Are you ready to file your taxes this year? Pin the image below and print out this helpful notes section to remind you of which write offs you should ask your tax professional about – feel free to use the extra spaces as reminders for additional write offs you’ve seen that you may be eligible for!



Tax Preparation Note Card

Click here to PRINT the notes version.

*The information contained in this article is for general guidance only and does not constitute legal or tax advice. Contact a professional tax advisor concerning your specific tax circumstances and available deductions.

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Shea Homes Model Now Underway in Sienna Plantation

March 20, 2015

Shea Homes, which recently entered the Texas market, will make its Fort Bend County debut this spring in the Village of Sawmill Lake, Sienna Plantation’s newest village. Shea Homes, the nation’s second-largest privately owned home builder, will open a new model home in April and offer new homes on 35 home sites starting in the […]

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Shea Homes Opens First Model Homes in Texas

March 20, 2015

Shea Homes is celebrating the Grand Opening of two new, furnished model homes in The Woodlands. Located in the Village of Creekside Park, Shea Homes is now open in Canopy Green, offering new homes ranging from 2700 to over 3600 square feet and priced from the $500,000s. Homebuyers can select from ten floor plans in […]

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9 Top Tax Write-Offs You May be Missing [Part 1]

March 18, 2015

Every time tax season rolls around, we all secretly wish we would have paid a little more attention in our college accounting class, or were best friends with a CPA. If you aren’t lucky enough to have strong personal ties with a tax professional in your immediate area, arm yourself with the right questions so […]

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Take a peek inside the Shea Design Studio

March 17, 2015

  When it comes to making a house feel like a home, it’s all in the details. The little touches that express your unique individuality can make two homes with the same floor plan feel wonderfully, beautifully different. In Shea communities, you can enjoy a dinner party at any neighbor’s home without that awkward sense […]

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Shea Partnerships: Q and A with Jim Pinson of Shasta Pools

March 13, 2015

Jim Pinson of Shasta Pools, and also our unofficial BBQ extraordinaire, talks about the strong, longstanding relationship with Shea Homes Arizona. Last week, you read about our newest partnership with Lowell School in downtown Phoenix for our Read With Your Child campaign and book drive. This week, we hear from one of our longest and […]

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SPACES at Reunion models are coming (with winter’s cooperation).

March 12, 2015

  Right now, Reunion visitors can get a taste of life here by visiting Shea’s SPACES model homes. But two more, Models 3554 and 3507 with new elevations, will make their grand debut in June, if Mother Nature plays nice. If everything goes perfectly, a home can be built from first dig to finish work […]

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