Maximizing Your Tax Strategy with Real Estate

You don’t have to be a real estate investor to receive tax benefits when it comes to owning real estate. Of course, you should work with your accountant to make sure you are applying all rules correctly to your particular situation, but here are some basics to keep in mind:

Image courtesy of National Society of Tax Professionals

Itemizing Interest and Property Taxes – Recent changes in the tax laws via the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may have some folks choosing the standard deduction rather than itemizing items such as mortgage interest and real estate taxes. But before you assume you should take the easy route and take the standard deduction, do the math.

Here are a few facts about these deductions:

  • Mortgage Interest Deduction is limited to interest paid on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt incurred after 12/14/17 to buy or improve a first or second home
  • The property tax deduction is capped at $10,000

However, if the amount you pay for these items falls under those limits and you need to reduce your adjusted gross income for the year, you may be able to prepay and increase your deductions for the current year. For example, you may consider prepaying your January mortgage in December or your property taxes, increasing your deductions.

Also, for many mortgages, the first full year of the mortgage has the most owed in interest due to amortization. Furthermore, if points (prepaid interest) are paid when the loan is originated that may also be deductible. This is good information to have when considering a purchase or refinance.

Again, check with your accountant before assuming the above are the right steps for you to take.

Profits from The Sale of a Home – Also known as the capital gains tax, if there is a profit made on the sale of a home, it is taxed. However, the first $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for joint filers is excluded so long as the owners have lived in the property as a primary residence for two of the last five years.

For example, say you purchased a home in 2005 for $300,000. You sold it in 2018 for $600,000. You have lived in this home by yourself and it has served as your primary residence for this entire time. You have made $300,000 on your investment, but the first $250,000 is not taxed.

In addition, if you made improvements to the property in that time (not maintenance, but improvements), then you can also offset your gains by the amount you invested in those improvements. For example, if you added a sprinkler system or added a bathroom in the basement, those are improvements. Keep those receipts and keep careful track.

Additional rules apply and I recommend reviewing with your accountant.

Questions? I recommend reaching out to your accountant to review your tax situation as it pertains to real estate, but if he or she gives you advice that has you looking to upgrade your current home, make a move, or start looking for an investment, reach out!

Lynden Lighted Christmas Parade & Soup Kitchen

Image courtesy of Lynden Chamber of Commerce

This year’s Lighted Christmas Parade was one for the books! If you were able to make it out on Saturday night, it was a cold one but we were grateful for no rain or wind this year. It was great to see so many locals and visitors on Front Street on Saturday not only for the parade, but all day enjoying the Christmas music, hitting up the local shops, and having fun with the Elf on the Shelf event.

Our office put on the annual Soup Kitchen, serving free cups of soup to parade watchers. We sold out of soup in under an hour, so I’d say it was a success!

Thanks to everyone that attended this year’s parade and hopefully got to warm up with a delicious cup of soup provided by the staff at Muljat Group North!

Whatcom County Holiday Happenings

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I think it’s safe to officially start the holiday celebration! Bring on the holiday tunes, neighborhoods filled with Christmas lights, Egg Nog everything and cozy sweater weather. Below are some events coming up that are sure to get you in the spirit; Happy Holidays!

Lynden Lighted ParadeIt’s the most wonderful time of the year! Join downtown Lynden Friday and Saturday for fun-filled Holiday events. Don’t forget to stop by our office for a free cup of homemade soup!

Fairhaven WinterfestLocated in historic downtown Fairhaven, there will be tons of different holiday-themed events from November 23 to December 22.

Holiday Festival of the ArtsThis indoor arts festival going on November to December 24 will be featuring over 100 different artists. Check out the vendors and enjoy live music and art workshops.

Holiday Events at SemiahmooDiscover the magic of the holiday season at Semiahmoo! From November 21 to December 26 there will be festivities for the whole family! From gingerbread house making to festive and fun crafts, curling up with a hot cup of cider or photos with Santa! There’s something for everyone.

Holiday Port FestivalGather with friends and family and enjoy festive holiday performances, free holiday goodies and so many creative gingerbread houses!

‘Tis the Season to Sell!

Image courtesy of

It’s nearing the end of the year, and many people are waiting until the spring to revisit the idea of selling their home. If you’re someone leaning towards that plan as well, I’m here to offer you hope that there’s still time to sell this year!

  • Buyer demand is still strong! As eager as you may be to get your home sold before the holidays, many people out there are looking to buy before the new year as well. Also, of the buyers still out on the hunt are very serious and prepared to get the ball rolling fast. With the right strategy and price, it is most definitely possible to find a buyer and even close the sale before the jingle bells ring and 2019 is upon us.
  • There is much less competition out there. It’s the holidays and many of your neighbors are busy planning for family gatherings, trips, and end of year celebrations. Take advantage of this period that most will treat as down time! Play up the holiday season by accenting desired features such as a cozy fireplace, sweeping staircase, and spacious dining room. Give your buyers a visual to get them excited about celebrating the holidays in their new home!
  • Home values are always increasing. If you’re planning on upgrading to a new home, it’s important to consider that your potential new home is also increasing in value just as your current home is that you’re planning to sell. Don’t wait for what you’re hoping to be that perfect time to upgrade because it may never come.
  • Interest rates are on the rise. As interest rates increase over time, buyers subsequently have lower purchasing power which directly affects the demand for your home. Recent 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are hovering around 5%, up almost a full percentage since January 2018. Many buyers are feeling discouraged by the increasing rates and home prices, so it would be in your best interest to put your home on the market now before purchasing power potentially worsens.

Whether you are looking to buy or sell, my priority is making sure my clients are getting top by the line services and experience a smooth transaction from start to finish. Let’s discuss your goals going into the holiday season; give me call at 360-410-1297 or email me at

Happy Holidays!

Younger Millennial Demographic

Image and article courtesy of

A recent consumer housing sentiment study conducted by CoreLogic, an industry-leading public record that services real-estate databases and analyzes home pricing trends, assessed present attitudes towards homeownership and common reasons consumers decide to rent vs buy a home. Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic stated, “Our consumer research indicates younger millenials want to purchase homes but the majority of them consider affordability a key obstacle. Less than half of younger millennials who are currently renting feel confident they will qualify for a mortgage, especially in such a competitive environment.”

Potential buyers in the younger millennial demographic have a desire to buy, but aren’t aware of available options that are out there for them to take advantage of. The study found that “64 percent say they regularly monitor home values in their local market. However, while 80 percent of younger millennials plan to move in the next four to five years, 73 percent cite affordability as a barrier to homeownership.”

The results of this study are telling and prove there is work to do in educating the younger generations on the possibilities of owning a home. The options are out there and we are here to answer questions and set you up with the right people to get you on the right path! We work with reputable loan consultants that specialize in the financing process and would love to help in making your dreams of owning a home come true. Give us a call if you’re unsure at all about your options!

Happy Halloween in Whatcom County!

It’s the last weekend in October and just a week away from Halloween! If you haven’t had the chance to go celebrate the fall season yet, Whatcom County has a full calendar of events going on this weekend.

Still need to make a trip to the pumpkin patch? There’s still plenty of pumpkins to choose from and fun to be had at:

BelleWood Acres

Stoney Ridge Farm

Willetta Farm 

Dan Cramer’s Western Town 

Take your pick and get to carving just in time to celebrate Halloween!

Or, if you’re looking for a reason to put your costume on or get in the spooky spirit, look into one of these local events linked below!

What To Do In and Around Bellingham October 26—28

Local Market Update

What’s Going on in the Market?

Good questions! Historically, we see a dip in the market during the 4th quarter due to many factors including the busyness of the holiday season and weather changes. This is a great opportunity for any buyers that are still on the hunt because there’s fewer competition and likely less instances of multiple offer situations. This is also a great time to put your home on the market because the buyers are much more serious and motivated to make a move before the new year! If you’re looking to find a home or get your property sold before 2019, you’ve come to the right place. Give me a call; we’re happy to help you reach those goals.

Stoney Ridge Farm is BACK!


What better way to celebrate the fall season than to take a trip to your local pumpkin patch?! After taking a couple years off, Stoney Ridge Farm is opening back up this month and is so excited to welcome the community back to the farm! If you never visited them in past years, you can expect to find fun farm activities, animals to see, their famous cider and pumpkin donuts (YUM). They’ll also have a corn maze, wagon rides, and OF COURSE, the vast pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect Jack O’ Lantern to carve! Mark your calendars people… Starting Friday, Octover 12th, open Fridays from 1pm-5pm and Saturdays from 10am-5pm through the end of October.