Second Homes Treated Differently

While a principal residence and a second home have some similar benefits, they have some major differences. A principal residence is the primary home where you live and a second home is used for personal enjoyment while limiting possible rental activity to a maximum of 14 days per year.

The Mortgage Interest Deduction allows a taxpayer to deduct the qualified interest and property taxes on a principal residence and a second home. The interest is limited to a maximum of $1,000,000 combined acquisition debt and a combined $100,000 home equity debt for both the first and second homes.

The gain on a principal residence has a significant exclusion for taxpayers meeting the requirements. The gains on second homes must be recognized when sold. Even if you sell a smaller second home and invest all of the proceeds into a larger second home, you’ll need to pay tax on the gain.

Tax-deferred exchanges are not allowed for properties having personal use including second homes.

If the home is owned for more than 12 months, the gain is taxed at the long-term capital gains rate. If the home is owned for less than 12 months, the gain is taxed as ordinary income which would be a considerably higher rate.

The article is intended for informational purposes. Advice from a tax professional for your specific situation should be obtained prior to making a decision that can have tax implications.

10 Easy Staging tips for curb Appeal

By Kimberly McMahon, Let’s Organize/Let’s Move

No matter the asking price, simple curb appeal changes can set the scene to immediately attract buyers to a property. Data shows that a majority of home buyers look at properties online or drive by before contacting an agent. As a result, the exterior of the property is always a major selling point.

The decision to buy starts when the prospects step out of their car in front of the property. Prospects will immediately imagine what their friends and family will think when they drive up.

Here are 10 easy steps to make the most of your curb appeal. (It is well worth the expense to hire someone to make these changes if you do not have the time!)

1. Make sure the lawn is mowed and the landscaping is pristine. Keep your gardens neat and healthy, and repair visible damage.

2. Clear the yard. Remove any visible trash cans, toys, tools, rusted outdoor furniture, old lumber, or yard debris.

3. Paint house trim and touch up concrete steps to freshen the look.

4. Paint the front door to give it a fresh look. Repair screens and screen doors.

5. Invest in a new and colorful welcome mat at the front door.

6. Add a potted plant to the side of the front door.

7. Replace the old brass doorknob and lock with brushed nickel.

8. Make sure the street numbers are polished, in place, and easy to see, even if this requires some major shrub or flower trimming. If your street numbers are painted on the curb, repaint them.

9. Replace that old, rusty mailbox in favor of a sleek, modern one. If your mailbox is attached to the house, replace it to match new hardware on the front door handle.

10. Wash all of your windows inside and out.  The sparkle will show.

Curb appeal is extremely important when prospects are first beginning to make decisions about which properties they want to see with an agent. These simple changes will differentiate your property from others on the same street or nearby.





The May 2012 numbers are in, and property sales in the Sarasota market once again topped 800 for the third consecutive month. The 854 closed transactions was the second highest total since September 2005, demonstrating once again a market that has recovered to levels not seen since the 2003-2005 real estate surge in Sarasota.

The breakdown was 591 single family homes and 263 condominiums. Sales were 7.2 percent higher than in May 2011, when there were 796 closed transactions. As anticipated, sales were slightly below the April 2012 figure of 886, which was the highest total in seven years. The normal seasonal influx of buyers tends to drop shortly after the Easter holiday, when northern residents begin to exodus the area.
In addition, pending sales (which represent properties that went under contract during the month) remained at the very high level of 1,075, almost the same as April’s total of 1,068. It was the fourth straight month that topped 1,000, a major indicator of the future direction of the market. Last year’s spring surge didn’t slow down until July, and the numbers seem to indicate there remains strength in the current market dynamics.

“I’ve spoken to many agents who are having a tremendous 2012,” said SAR President Laura Benson. “This is certainly the right time to be in the real estate industry in Sarasota. Interest rates hit record lows in May, prices remain relatively low compared to the record surge from 2003 to 2005, and all the wonderful attributes of Sarasota are attracting buyers from across the nation, and the world.”

The median sale price for both categories remained near the highest levels of the year in May. The median sales price for single family homes was $185,000 – the highest level since July 2009, almost three years ago. Last month’s figure was $175,000. The median sales price for condos was $180,750, a drop from April’s figure of $191,750. Both figures were much higher than the 12-month running median prices – $165,000 for single family homes and $160,000 for condos.

Single family home prices remained at a level 34 percent higher than the low of the market reached 14 months ago ($137,500), while condo prices are over 40 percent higher than the low point ($127,000). The reason for the price resurgence remains likely related to the lower number of distressed property sales. The total number of distressed sales, foreclosures and short sales, remained around 31 percent, the lowest level in three years.

The available inventory of homes on the market dropped to a new decade low of 3,917, dropping 8.5 percent from the April figure of 4,283. High sales and low inventory has also dropped the months of inventory to new 10-year lows. The May figures are 4.3 months of inventory for single family homes and 5.2 months inventory for condos. Months of inventory represents the time it would take to deplete the current inventory at the current sales rate.

“I’ve been in our Association for over 15 years and inventories at this level are rare,” said Benson. “The market is tightening, and when available properties are at such low levels, the result is normally greater competition for available properties. This scenario tends to escalate prices, so if you’re in the market for a home, now is the time to act.”

Currently, only 576 properties for sale in the MLS are listed as short sales or foreclosures, down from last month’s figure of 621 properties. This represents about 14 percent of available properties, about the same as last month, and down from January 2012 when the figure was 17 percent of the market. As this number continues to decline, median prices will increase because the median prices are higher for market transactions.

“With the pending sales remaining at over 1,000, and the inventory at such a low point, we should see a continuing market surge into the early summer months,” said Benson. “The weather service is predicting a hot Sarasota summer, and the real estate market is certainly providing a lot of similar energy!”