Personal Finance

Thinking of buying a new home? You’ll want to read this first!

by Shea Homes Arizona on November 13, 2015

Buying a New Home
A home purchase is often the largest, single financial investment people make in their lifetime. Buying a home, the place you live, raise a family, entertain your friends and make memories should be exciting. There shouldn’t be any mysteries or unexpected surprises in the home buying or mortgage process to cloud the bright future in your new home.

Shea Homes has a history of caring about our customers, which begins with simplifying the home buying process, including the mortgage. It’s not uncommon to have more questions than answers, that’s why we created the Home Buying Guide  for some great, interactive tips to clarify the journey of buying a new home.  Understanding the “inside baseball” terms, the various steps in home buying, and what to expect at each one goes a long way in making the new-home buying experience a great one. Here’s what one Shea Homeowner has to say about the process:

“This was our first time building a brand new home. We have owned several homes prior so knew exactly what we wanted and decided to have Shea build our “dream”. Rather than telling us what we couldn’t have they did all they could to give us what we wanted! The staff, from the very first person we met at the model to the last person we did the final walk through with, became family and treated us with so much respect. They answered any question and fixed any problem “the right way” no matter the cost to them or the difficulty. I was always asked if there was anything else I needed or wanted. If ever I have to move out of my perfect home I will only buy with Shea Homes!”

Plan Ahead…

If you aren’t sure if home ownership is right for you now, but purchasing a home is in your future there are a few of things to consider. First, is your credit score. When it comes to buying a house, your credit score is important. Missing or late payments on rent, a mortgage, credit cards, automobile payments, or just about anything can influence your credit score. The best practice is to pay on time, every time.

Second, is paying off debt. Lenders look at your income and the total of all your debts, this is called your “debt-to-income ratio” and will determine how much home you will qualify to purchase. Finally, save a little something.  Having the necessary funds for a down payment is important in qualifying for a loan to purchase your new home.

Interest rates are at historic lows, making this a great time to buy a home. If “rent vs. own” is where you are, try this for some answers. If you have more questions, the Home Mortgage Guide can help. 

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

by Shea Homes on March 18, 2015

Top Tax Write Offs You May be Missing

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 you can file correctly and get the maximum refund allowed to you. Read on for some common write-offs you may qualify for* – and hopefully make sense of that shoebox full of receipts you’ve been holding on to.

  1. Student Loan Interest

Still paying off that degree you earned for yourself? If you did happen to study finance or accounting, you may already know this, but the interest paid on student loans is a tax deduction. Be sure to double check how much you are allowed to write off. While the maximum per year is $2,500, how much you make per year could limit how much you are allowed to claim (see the limitations from this year).

Student Loan Tax Deduction tip

  1. Child Care

While certain employers may offer child care payment options that could save you more than the child care tax credit (talk with your HR department to see what, if anything, is offered), this credit is something all parents should take note of. Like with all write-offs and credits, there are some qualifications you must meet, they’re pretty straight forward. Some of the high-level requirements include:

  • The dependent must fall into one of three categories, as outlined by the IRS
  • The care must be provided by a qualified individual (one that is not your spouse, parent of the child, another one of your dependents, or someone aged 17 or younger)
  • You must have “earned income”
  • The childcare you claim must be because you are working or looking for work

You may also be able to deduct some of the cost of a babysitter, outside of the time you are at work, if you happen to be volunteering for charity (without receiving compensation). While you’ll have to document that you were, in fact, volunteering, you may be able to claim the amount you paid to the sitter as a charitable contribution.

Child Care Tax Credit Tip

  1. Moving for Employment

Moving always becomes quite a production and when you move over 50-miles, it’s usually an even bigger stress – trying to learn about a neighborhood, set up home tours and land a new job– all remotely. If you’ve made a move for a new job this year, you may be eligible to write off some of your moving expenses. Two big factors in being able to claim this write-off: distance (your new home must be 50-miles further from your previous lodging this your last place of work was) and time.

Tax Tip for Moving

  1. Parents as Dependents

Although it may be well-known that you can claim your children as dependents on your taxes, “If you’re providing more than half of a parent’s financial support, you may be able to claim your parent as a dependent,” says Curtis Erickson, a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified tax coach.

Parents' Finances and Taxes

As a reminder, here are the 4 tips all in one image – just click on the “Pin It” button below to pin!

Top Tax Write-Offs You May Be Missing Infographic



Have you ever received a tax credit or deduction that surprised you? Share your tips below.

Check back next week for Part 2 of this post where we explore further tax write-offs. 

*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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How Will Rising Interest Rates Impact Homebuyers?

July 16, 2013




  Mortgage interest rates are on the rise. We keep hearing this news but without having any real numbers, it can be difficult to determine what a rise in mortgage interest rates really means to you. A recent article by Wayne Faulkner on Star News Online, gives some details on the impact increasing mortgage rates […]

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How do I prepare for my home buying process?

June 21, 2013




Preparation is key to anything, whether it’s a work meeting, an interview or your child’s first day of school; it always easier to see the big picture when everything is laid out in front of you. We encourage the same preparation when you begin your home buying process. It will also impress your mortgage consultant! […]

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Quick Tips on Loans and Refinancing in 2013’s Housing Market

April 19, 2013




The housing market has gone through several ups and downs the past five years, and right now, we are happy it is on the upside. So whether you’re looking for a new home to buy or you already own one, what is the next step for you in terms of loans and financing for the […]

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Homebuyer Seminar #3: Building Wealth through Home Equity

April 5, 2013




Taking a quick step back to last week’s video and talk about building wealth! This is just another aspect of why buying a home is better than renting one.  Here are a few quick quotes from the video: “Average homeowners’ net worth is 31 times that of a renter.” –National Association of Realtors “Home equity […]

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The Mortgage Meltdown Explained…

March 15, 2013




This week we featured the first episode of our new mini-series, The Homebuyer’s Seminar.  Though a scary subject, we feel it is important to help you understand how the “mortgage meltdown” happened and how our housing market is currently recovering from that downfall.  This photo is a visual explanation of the process, and if it […]

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New Year’s Goal – Buy in 2013

January 3, 2013




A new year brings new possibilities and many people have set goals they hope to achieve in 2013. Goals come in all shapes and sizes: starting new habits, kicking old habits, finally chasing after that dream, learning something new, starting something new, being someone new. This is a whole new year; another opportunity to become […]

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