When you’re thinking about buying property, one of the
first questions that pop to mind is, “Should I do this on my own or hire
some assistance?” In a huge majority of cases, the answer is that doing
everything on your own will make the process much, much harder, and we’d also
be very surprised if you got a good deal without some assistance. In most
cases, the only real question is: “Should I hire a real estate agent or a
lawyer?” Both can be of invaluable assistance when it’s time to buy a
property, but the ways they can help differ.
You Should Hire a Lawyer
What makes a real estate agent different from a lawyer when it comes to buying a property? First of all, by law, real estate agents cannot give legal advice. While you are not obligated by law to hire a lawyer when buying a property here (unlike in some other states), you may have some legal questions that only a lawyer can answer. For example, you may want to rent a property for some time (let’s say for a year) before making the decision on whether you should buy the property or not. If the seller agrees to that, an attorney can draft this unusual contract and provide legal advice on the matter that a real estate agent could not.
A good lawyer will help you by answering all the legal questions that a real estate agent cannot lawfully answer.
As lawyers charge an hourly fee,
before buying a property and moving in with the help of experienced
professionals from dumbomoving.com,
it’s a good idea to make a list of all the legal questions you may have and arrange
a meeting with an attorney. Then, you can ask everything you need, as well as
make arrangements on all the additional services you may need that a real
estate agent can’t help you with (drafting the contract from the previous
paragraph, for example).
You Should Hire a Real Estate Agent
While a lawyer will help you with
some specific parts of the home buying procedure, you’ll still need to hire a
real estate agent as well. A real estate professional will be with you every
step of the way, acting as a sort of a guide to your home buying process. And
if you’re buying a property, you’ll be pleased to learn that sellers are the
ones who will pay the agents of both parties. The commission is usually 10
percent of the arranged home price, divided equally between the two agents. The
logic behind this rule is that sellers will be receiving a lot of money, and so
they should be the ones to pay all agents who will take care of the buying-selling
So, if you hire a real estate agent, your wallet won’t have a problem with that; you will basically get an invaluable service for free. And what exactly does that service entail? Buying a property is a complex procedure – lots of paperwork will need to be done, inspectors will need to be hired, a comparative home prices analysis will need to be prepared, etc. While some lawyers will try to convince you that they can do everything on their own, that is most often not the case. Real estate professionals will be better at all of these tasks, simply because they have dedicated their lives to buying and selling real estate; they have much more experience and they know how to use it.
Apart from many other ways that a real estate agent can help you, he or she will be able to find a perfect house for you in the specified neighborhood.
This gives them an edge in all sorts
of home-buying tasks. Apart from the ones we have already mentioned, they are
also much better at negotiating. Let’s say that, for example, some parts
of the home will need to be fixed. You’ll need to determine whether you or the
seller will be the one who has to make these repairs. In this case, a good real
estate agent will help you negotiate an arrangement that is better for you
financially. What’s more, an experienced real estate agent who is a good fit
for you will be acquainted with the neighborhood where you’re looking for your
dream home. He or she will know just what to look for based on your
Things to Have in Mind
So, should you hire a real estate agent or a lawyer? The answer is – why not both? Combining the individual strengths of these two professions will get you the best deal. Rely on attorneys for legal advice that a real estate agent cannot offer, and hire a real estate agent for everything else.
Before you hire a real estate agent and a lawyer who will seal the deal, you’ll need to have some things in mind. Alt text: A man signing a contract.
Sometimes, it may so happen that an opportunity to share a real estate agent with the seller emerges. In our opinion, that would be wrong to do. As real estate agents make a living off of commissions, they might be looking for the sellers’ best interest in this situation and not yours. Ethical agents who won’t do this certainly exist, but it’s best to be on the safe side anyway.
Real estate agents may press you to offer a higher price because of similarly unethical reasons. The more you pay, the larger their commission, after all. What’s more, some of them will be afraid to negotiate because doing so might mean that they won’t get to close the deal. If it seems that your agent doesn’t respect your opinion and is only looking to close the deal as soon as possible, it is best to find a different agent. Doing research on your own regarding home prices in the given neighborhood will help you avoid such unpleasant situations.
Most lawyers prefer to be hired and paid only after the home buying process is complete. However, it may suit you more to only pay for one consulting session or one or two specific tasks. That can be arranged, just have the arrangement in writing (better safe than sorry).
Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Fredericksburg, Stafford, Orange, Locust Grove, Norther Virginia or even Maryland or DC, we are your Real Estate team committed to finding the perfect home for you! Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by homeowners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar, and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, one of our area expert advisors will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.
Taxes are confusing, which is why many people in the U.S. choose to hire an expert to do their taxes for them. After all, there are so many numbers to know, forms to have ready, records of income and expenses, W-4s, 1099s, 380-Ts—we could’ve just made that last one up, and there’s no way of knowing!
Even though taxes might be complicated, they (sometimes) have a few perks. And if you own a home, those perks could mean a major bonus on your return. If you’re thinking of buying a home before next year’s taxes are due, here’s everything you need to know about how making a home purchase can affect your returns.
Deductions vs. Credit
Before we kick off the fun stuff, it’s important to know a little jargon—namely, the difference between a deduction and a credit.
When it comes to credits, think of them like tax-related coupons that reduce your dollar-for-dollar total. A few major tax credits include child tax credits, adoption credits, education or retirement credits, or credits for energy efficient homes and cars. Depending on the credits you qualify for, you could get anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars taken off of your tax liability.
Deductions are a little different: they reduce your taxable income, which can then adjust the total that you owe. Claiming certain deductions means that that part of your income is exempt from being taxed. Knowing which deductions to claim is key when filing, especially for homeowners.
Tax Benefits for Homeowners
Buying a home is expensive, but when it comes to tax time, here are the ways you can make some of that money back.
One of the reasons that taxes for homeowners are so confusing is because they tend to change based on federal standards. Over the past few years, the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act pretty drastically altered the tax benefits for home ownership.
The most important change to know this year has to do with mortgage-related deductions. Previously, the tax deduction for home mortgages was limited to interest paid on $1 million debt for jointly filing married couples and single filers and $500,000 for married couples filing separately. Now, the numbers look more like $750,000 for the former and $500,000 for the latter. Additionally, interest paid during closing can also be counted towards this number.
Property & State Taxes
Did you know that the amount you pay in property taxes, state income taxes, and local sales tax is also deductible? If you pay property taxes through escrow, your lender will need to get the amount for you on your 1098 form, otherwise you should be able to find it in your personal records. The latest tax laws have instituted a cap at $10,000, but every little bit counts!
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
Believe it or not, tax deductions on PMI are a hotly contested subject. Until recently, buyers were able to deduct the payments they made on Private Mortgage Insurance, but as of 2017, that ability expired. If you did buy your home before 2017, then your yearly income will determine how much you can deduct.
There’s no timeline on when deductions for PMI could return, but, unfortunately, if you’re a more recent home-buyer with these payments, those perks aren’t currently available.
We talked a little bit earlier about the difference between deductions and credits, so what sort of credits can you get as a homeowner? One of the biggest tax credits that homeowners can cash in on is having energy-efficient homes. In fact, if you installed geothermal heat or solar energy, you could be entitled to credit for up to 30% of the installation fee.
Other energy-efficient features, like storm doors and added insulation, can net you a few hundred dollars in credit, as well.
While many parts of the tax law have changed in the past few years, one aspect has stayed the same: tax-free profits. Selling your home not only means a big profit after the sale, but a large portion of the money you make won’t even get taxed—meaning you get to pocket more.
Married homeowners who sell their homes won’t have to pay capital gain taxes on up to $500,000 from the sale, while single filers can keep half of that as non-taxable income.
While there are some guidelines—like the home must have been a primary residence for at least two of the past five years—it’s a big plus when it comes to selling.
Want to Explore More of the Benefits of Home-Owning?
Believe it or not, there are a lot more benefits to owning a home than tax deductions. If you need help navigating the ins and outs of the home-buying and home-owning process, our team is here to help. With years of local experience and real estate know-how, we have the skills and resources necessary for home-buying and selling success.
Ready to learn more? Just give us a call. 540-388-2541
Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my homeworth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata. To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.
Why live in the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County area? It has history. It has class. It has culture. Many people new to the area will find that this part of Virginia offers much in the way of things to do. As I stated, the Fredericksburg region boasts of many historic sites that hold a place in our nation’s history, from its early founding, struggles for independence, and growing pains that led to the Civil War.
The Fredericksburg area is the site of where more than 100,000 Americans lost their lives in our nation’s struggle that culminated in the Civil War. The area, simply put, is hallowed ground. But there is also a hallowed beauty to it. Go visit the Fredericksburg Battlefield, where in 1862, General Robert E. Lee defeated the Union Army of The Potomac. Down the road from the Fredericksburg Battlefield is the Chancellorsville Battlefield, a site considered to be Lee’s most brilliant victory, where he defeated an army almost three times the size of his own army. Then nearby are the battlefields of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, where Lee faced off against Union General Ulysses S. Grant, a man who would go on to become our nation’s 18th President. If you’re not a big history nerd, but are more of a fitness junkie, these battlefields offer many hiking trails and the roadways on these battlefields, which are run by the National Park Service, are great places for biking. The Park Service also puts on many living history events and Fit History walking tours during the spring and summer months.
Historic Downtown Fredericksburg is definitely worth going to see as it has many buildings that date to the Civil War and earlier. In the historic district there are many shops that offer a wide variety to visitors; restaurants, antique shops, specialty foods, clothing, jewelry, home furnishings and much more. Located in downtown Fredericksburg is Kenmore, the home of Fielding Lewis, an American Patriot who gave and sacrificed much during our country’s struggle for independence, not to mention, the brother-in-law of George Washington, having married Washington’s sister Betty. Since we are speaking of George Washington, across the river from Fredericksburg is the site of Ferry Farm, where young George spent his childhood. It is a living history site which recently has underwent archaeological work to locate the foundations of his boyhood home and has been rebuilt to what it probably looked like. Also located in downtown are the Mary Washington House, Rising Sun Tavern, Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop and St. James’ House, all operated by the Washington Heritage Museums. Also near downtown, for the nature fanatics, is Alum Spring Park, a 34-acre park that hosts many natural features including sandstone cliffs and a swimming hole. If you are looking for a nice romantic getaway with your significant other, look no further. The downtown area also offers two nice B&B’s, the Kenmore Inn and the Richard Johnston Inn. Both Inn’s are historic homes, offer wonderful accommodations, excellent food, and show classic Virginia hospitality.
Aside from all the history and historic sites that Fredericksburg offers, there is also much in the way of class and culture. The downtown area also features art shops, the James Monroe Memorial Library, Fredericksburg Area Museum, and Belmont, the home of Gari Melcher, one America’s prominent portraitists and Impressionist painters. Fredericksburg also offers several craft beer and alehouses including Harry’s Alehouse on Route 3 and Sedona Taphouse and Capital Ale House in downtown Fredericksburg. The food at these locations are excellent. Not far from downtown, for those who have a taste for wine, there are a few local wineries which include Bacchus Winery, Hartwood Winery, and Eden Try Winery. If you have a flare for French cuisine, located downtown is La Petite Auberge, a French restaurant that has been serving the area since 1981. If you enjoy theater, located nearby is the Riverside Center for the Performing Arts, a local dinner theater which has been putting on main-stage musicals, broad way shows, and dramatic productions for over 20 years. The shows are always fun and entertaining and the food and service is always top notch. With all that Fredericksburg has to offer, it is no wonder that the area is continuously growing.
Spotsylvania neighbors Orange County, where Lake of the Woods is located. Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my homeworth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.
To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.
As unfortunate as it can be when homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments and must face the possibility of losing their homes, short sales and foreclosures provide them options for moving on financially. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different, with varying timelines and financial impact on the homeowner. Here’s a brief overview. A short sale comes into play when a homeowner needs to sell their home but the home is worth less than the remaining balance that they owe. The lender can allow the homeowner to sell the home for less than the amount owed, freeing the homeowner from the financial predicament. On the buyer side, short sales typically take three to four months to complete and many of the closing and repair costs are shifted from the seller to the lender. On the other hand, a foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer make payments on their home so the bank begins the process of repossessing it. A foreclosure usually moves much faster than a short sale and is more financially damaging to the homeowner. After foreclosure the bank can sell the home in a foreclosure auction. For buyers, foreclosures are riskier than short sales, because homes are often bought sight unseen, with no inspection or warranty. Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your professionals for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia, we are your proven Real Estate professionals. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, that’s the #1 question asked by home sellers. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. The Question is how much is it worth? Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata. To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.
Hardwood floors are highly desirable for most homeowners, but they come with their share of challenges when it comes to cleaning, maintenance, and repairs. After a few months or years of heavy use from kids playing with toys and chairs being shuffled around, it may be time for some DIY fixes. Hiding scratches: If you’ve got a good eye for matching colors, you can actually use crayons or markers or purchase wax sticks from the hardware store to fill-in scratches. Try to match the stain color on your floors, but don’t worry if it’s a little off. If the color is close, once the scratch is filled, it’ll look like a variation in the wood grain. Polishing floors: You can make a polish solution for your floors from household ingredients. Mix olive oil and vinegar in equal parts, pour it directly into scratches, and then wipe it off after 24 hours. It may take several applications, but this homemade polish will fill and cover most scratches. Clever decor: It’s not a long-term solution, but sometimes the most painless way to fix scratches in your floors is to cover them with a rug or furniture arrangement. Spot sanding: For deeper scratches, you’ll need to spot sand with fine steel wool or sandpaper, use wood filler, and stain and seal the repaired area. Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your professionals for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia, we are your proven Real Estate professionals. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, that’s the #1 question asked by home sellers. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. The Question is how much is it worth? Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata. To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.