BE A SOUP-ER HERO!
We want to invite you to embrace your inner “Soup-er Hero” and bring warmth to your community today! Portland’s Alternative Realtors is thrilled to partner with Lift UP, a local nonprofit we’ve worked with for years that’s dedicated to enhancing food security for our neighbors in Downtown and Northwest Portland.

From February 12th to March 5th, we’re stirring up community support to collect 250 cans of soup for our neighbors.
You can drop off your cans of soup in our
collection bin at our beautiful office at 3144 SE Belmont St. We’re open and ready to receive from 9-5, Monday through Friday!

For those who prefer to contribute from the comfort of their homes, we’ve got you covered! You can donate cans through our online giving page. Every $10 you contribute provides 5 cans of soup, each a comforting meal for a neighbor in need.
Click here to donate virtually!

Here’s what we’re looking for:
Canned Soups: Any variety, packed with nutrients.
Boxed Soups: Easy to store, easy to share.
Low-Sodium Soups: Healthy options for everyone.
Ramen Cups: Quick, convenient, and comforting.

Why focus on soup, you might ask? Soup is more than just a meal; it’s a bowl of hope and nourishment. It tops Lift UP’s most-wanted list for its variety, ease of storage, and nutritional value. Plus, it’s a versatile option for everyone, regardless of dietary preferences or needs.

JOIN US FOR A SOUP SOIREE!
3-6 PM on Tuesday, March 5th @ our office:
3144 SE Belmont St

-You can donate virtually or in person at our office Feb 12-Mar 5
-Or you can bring your donation to our office during the party

Join us for snacks and a glass of wine!

By helping us meet our goal, you’re not just donating food; you’re ensuring that everyone has access to the comforting embrace of a warm meal. Together, we can nurture a community where no one questions their right to essential nourishment. We’re so excited to support our community! Let’s get ‘souping’!

Deciding which mortgage loan option would be best for you is a complex process. If you’re looking to choose between a 15-year fixed rate mortgage and a 30-year fixed rate mortgage you must evaluate all the different factors to ensure that you’re making a home loan decision that you’re comfortable with. Find out the differences of a 15-year fixed mortgage vs. a 30-year fixed mortgage, compare pros and cons, and decide which one would be better for you.

What’s a 30-Year Fixed Mortgage

With a 30-year mortgage, you’re paying principal and interest every month over the span of 30 years. As a result, mortgage payments will be smaller. With a 30-year fixed mortgage, it’ll take longer to pay off. This is because you’re borrowing the same amount of money but paying it back over a longer period of time compared to a 15-year fixed mortgage. Another essential point to note is that 30-year fixed mortgages have higher interest rates since they’re spread out over a longer period and have more time to accrue.

What’s a 15-Year Fixed Mortgage

A 15-year fixed mortgage is when you pay both principal and interest over a period of 15 years. The monthly payments are higher compared to the 30-year mortgage. But you’ll pay off the balance faster since it’s a 15-year term. Interest payments are lower on a 15-year fixed mortgage since the interest has less time to accumulate. Interest rates are also historically lower on a 15-year mortgage vs. 30-year.

Differences Between a 15-Year vs. 30-Year Mortgage

Is the only difference between the two types of mortgages the length of time you have to pay it off? Well, not exactly.

Depending whether you choose a 15-year mortgage or a 30-year mortgage, there will be a domino effect on other aspects, such as the interest over the life of the loan, the total monthly payment, and the total number of mortgage payments. This chart shows you a side-by-side comparison with the differences between a 15-year and 30-year fixed mortgage:

15-Year Fixed Mortgage 30-Year Fixed Mortgage
Loan paid off in 15 years Loan paid off in 30 years
Lower interest rate Higher interest rate
Higher monthly payment Lower monthly payment
Builds home equity faster Builds home equity slower

Some of the key differences to note between a 15-year vs. 30-year mortgage include:

Length of the Mortgage Loan

People discussing 15-year vs. 30-year fixed mortgage options with loan officer

The first difference, of course, is the amount of time you have to pay off the loan. There are pros and cons of choosing a 15-year vs. 30-year mortgage based on the monthly payments you’re responsible for. If you choose the 30-year term, your monthly mortgage payment will be considerably lower.

A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage could be a suitable option if you’re looking for more flexibility with payments or just want some breathing room depending on personal finances.

But compared to the 15-year fixed mortgage, you’ll be making monthly payments for a far longer time than a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. While the monthly payments for the 15-year term are higher, you’re paying off the loan considerably faster and that much closer to owning your home.

Interest Rate

Interest rates should always be a consideration when thinking about monthly mortgage payments and whether a 15-year vs. 30-year mortgage is right for you. With a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, you have smaller monthly payments overall.

However, the interest rate is higher. That means you’re paying more on interest over the life of the loan rather than the principal amount, even if the monthly payment itself is a smaller amount.

You could potentially offset this by making extra payments where possible to reduce the total amount you have to pay, but that’s not always an option for everyone.

When it comes to evaluating the principal and the interest for the two types of mortgages, the interest rate is lower when buying a home with a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. So while the monthly payments are higher, you pay less interest over time.

Since the interest rate is lower for a 15-year vs. 30-year mortgage, that’s often the deciding factor for which option to go. For a 15-year fixed-term mortgage, the interest has less time to accrue, and it saves homeowners more money in the long term.

Monthly Payments

Another key difference is the monthly mortgage payment itself. The trade-off between 15 years and 30 years is how you balance short-term and long-term financial goals based on your current circumstances.

For example, if you opt for the 30-year fixed mortgage, you’ll have smaller monthly payments, but you’re making payments for a longer time and paying more interest. However, because it’s distributed over 30 years, it may not feel like that much of a difference in the end. But with the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, you’re paying a lot more in the short-term, but then you’re saving on interest over the life of the loan in the long term.

Ultimately, choosing what kind of monthly payment to go for when deciding on mortgages is very much a personal decision based on personal finances. Consider other payments such as property taxes and closing costs that must be made during the time of purchase.

Additionally, you’ll need to consider other monthly payments you may have, such as credit cards, cars, and insurance, that may impact how much you’re willing to pay on your home loan and what you can reasonably afford monthly. Calculate that against interest payments and interest rates that you’re currently finding on 15-year vs. 30-year mortgage options to identify what would be best for your specific circumstances.

Should you do a 15-year or a 30-year mortgage?

Running the numbers can help you identify what you’re most comfortable with paying in the short-term or long-term when buying a home and enable you to feel more confident during the homebuying process.

Using a mortgage calculator and running different scenarios between the two types of mortgage terms can help with deciding how much of a down payment to put down and what estimated monthly mortgage payments you can expect. CrossCountry Mortgage has a variety of resources to help you become a homeowner, including a mortgage calculator to compare two mortgage loans and identify what’s best for you.

If you have more questions, contact one of our loan officers.

 

A realtor posting a video of her new house listings for clients

For this and related articles, please visit CrossCountry Mortgage

The history of vintage tapestries and woven goods is a rich and fascinating one that spans centuries and continents. These intricate pieces of art not only serve as decorative items but also provide a glimpse into the culture and history of the societies that created them. From ancient civilizations to medieval Europe and beyond, the art of tapestry weaving has evolved and thrived, leaving behind a legacy that continues to captivate collectors and historians alike. In this article, we will explore the origins of tapestry weaving, the techniques and materials used, as well as the significance and popularity of vintage tapestries and woven goods.

intro

 

Egyptian and Greek Times:

The art of tapestry weaving dates back thousands of years, with evidence of early tapestries found in ancient Egyptian tombs and Greek archaeological sites. These early pieces were most likely used as decorative hangings or as coverings for furniture. The techniques used during this time varied, with some tapestries being woven on simple hand looms while others were created using more complex methods.

The materials used also differed, ranging from wool and linen to silk and gold thread. One of the earliest known examples of tapestry weaving is the famous “Gehenna Tapestry,” which dates back to the 2nd century BCE. Discovered in Egypt in the late 19th century, this tapestry features a highly detailed depiction of a hunting scene, showcasing the skill and artistry of the ancient weavers.

egyptian

 

The Medieval Period:

Other early examples of tapestries can be found in ancient China, where silk tapestries were woven and used as wall hangings or as decorations for clothing. However, it was during the medieval period in Europe that tapestry weaving truly flourished. It was during this time that tapestries became highly sought after by the nobility and royal courts across the continent. The popularity of tapestries during this era can be attributed to various factors, including the technological advancements in weaving techniques and the demand for grandiose and exquisite artistic displays.

The production of tapestries during the medieval period was a complex and time-consuming process. The designs were meticulously planned and drawn on a cartoon, which served as a blueprint for the weavers. The weavers would then select and dye the yarns, carefully matching the colors to the cartoon. The tapestry was woven from the bottom up, row by row, using a combination of warp and weft threads. The warp threads were stretched vertically on a loom, while the weft threads were woven horizontally. The weft threads were carefully interlaced with the warp threads, creating the intricate patterns and design of the tapestry.

Medieval tapestries often depicted historical events, religious stories, or scenes from daily life. They served not only as decorative pieces but also as a form of storytelling and propaganda. The images portrayed on these tapestries were often carefully chosen to convey a specific message or to showcase the wealth and power of the patron. The size and complexity of these tapestries meant that they were often commissioned by the nobility or the Church, making them highly prized and luxurious items.

One of the most famous examples of medieval tapestry is the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. This massive tapestry is over 70 meters long and provides a detailed historical account of the battle of Hastings. The Bayeux Tapestry showcases the intricate weaving techniques and the skill of the craftsmen who created it.

medieval

 

The Renaissance Period:

As the Middle Ages came to a close and the Renaissance emerged, tapestry weaving continued to evolve. The Renaissance period brought about a renewed interest in classical themes and a focus on intricate detail and perspective. Tapestry workshops across Europe sought to incorporate these new artistic techniques into their designs, resulting in tapestries that featured vibrant colors, lifelike figures, and breathtaking landscapes.

Renaissance

 

The 17th and 18th Centuries: 

During the 17th and 18th centuries, tapestry weaving underwent yet another transformation with the rise of the Baroque and Rococo styles. These tapestries featured elaborate designs, often depicting mythological scenes or floral motifs. The workshops of famous tapestry manufacturers, such as the Gobelins in France, played a significant role in the production of these remarkable works of art.

17th and 18th

 

The 19th and 20th Centuries:

In the 19th and 20th centuries, tapestry weaving experienced a revival, with artists embracing the medium as a form of artistic expression. The Arts and Crafts movement, which emerged in the late 19th century, celebrated the handmade and sought to revive traditional craft techniques, including tapestry weaving. Artists such as William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones championed the revival of tapestry weaving and established workshops to produce their intricate designs.

The 19th and 20th centuries

 

 

Today, vintage tapestries and woven goods continue to be highly sought after by collectors and art enthusiasts. These beautifully crafted pieces not only add a touch of elegance and history to any space but also serve as a testament to the skill and creativity of the craftsmen who created them. Whether it’s a medieval masterpiece, a Renaissance-inspired design, or a contemporary work of art, vintage tapestries and woven goods will forever hold a special place in our artistic and cultural heritage.

conclusion

 

For this and related articles, please visit Antique Hardware Supply

Your home is your castle. But lately, it’s starting to look a little more medieval than you’d prefer. If you’re feeling overwhelmed – it’s okay, it happens to everyone. But if you want to get back to living like royalty, you’ll need a plan to declutter your home.

Consider this your ultimate “declutter your home” checklist, helping you sort items room by room to enjoy a stress-free life within your home.

Importance of Decluttering

If you want to reduce your stress level, you might want to start decluttering and organizing your home. Decluttering your home can actually declutter your mind, or at least prevent you from being distracted by piles of disorganized or unwanted items.

But the decluttering process isn’t just good for your mental health. When items in your home start to accumulate, so can dust, bacteria, and even mold and mildew. These can create respiratory problems, especially for children and the elderly.

Home Decluttering Tips

Woman declutters her living room pillows using a checklist on how to declutter her home.

There’s no right or wrong way to go about the decluttering process. But sometimes it can be hard to know where to start — or how to stay focused throughout the process. Here are some basic decluttering tips to get you started:

  • Make a decluttering checklist to set goals for yourself
  • Focus on one room in your home at a time
  • Set a timer and spend just a few minutes each day decluttering
  • Make a plan for disposing of unwanted items
  • Get your family involved in the process

Above all, don’t forget — the goal is to reduce your stress level. Don’t let the actual process of decluttering make you feel more stressed than you did before. Following these tips can keep you motivated and focused.

Creating a Home Decluttering Plan

When you’re ready to declutter, you might start by creating a “declutter your home” checklist. Take advantage of our checklist below or download for free here.

On the other hand, you can create a printable declutter checklist using your own word processor, which allows you to add details that are unique to you or the room you’re focusing on.

It might also help to organize your decluttering checklist by room. For example, your checklist might have one plan for your bathroom and another plan for your living room. Try to focus on one room at a time — this will help you maintain momentum as you declutter your home.

Decluttering Room-by-Room

Every room will have its own plan, though you might organize all of your rooms into one ultimate decluttering checklist. For each room, sort items into three piles – those you want to keep, those you want to donate or sell, and those you want to discard.

Living Room

  • Old magazines
  • Artwork or decorative items, such as pillows
  • Unused or outdated electronics
  • Movies and media you no longer use
  • Furniture that takes up unnecessary space
Declutter your home checklist

Kitchen

  • Cleaning out the junk drawer and cabinets
  • Getting rid of excess cookware or dishes
  • Disposing of any expired items from the pantry
  • Disposing of any cleaning supplies you don’t use
  • Reorganizing the refrigerator magnets

Home Office

  • Unused electronics and cables
  • Clean out office supplies
  • Decorative items such as plants, mugs and pictures
  • Digitize work notes and important mail

Bathroom

  • Cleaning out the medicine cabinet
  • Discarding unused or unwanted cosmetics
  • Disposing of old hair brushes
  • Discarding unwanted cleaning products
  • Reorganizing the area under the sink

Laundry Room

  • Clear out any shelves or storage spaces
  • Discard empty or unused laundry products
  • Clean out any laundry baskets or bins
  • Clean out lint traps and dryer vent

Garage

  • Organize by categories – such as tools, sports equipment, gardening, camping gear, and holiday decorations
  • Discard empty or unused supplies
  • Outdated sports equipment
  • Consolidate similar items into shared containers

All of these tips might be included in your ultimate declutter checklist. But don’t try to tackle too much at once. Stick with one room at a time and make your way through your house until you’re clutter-free.

Selling or Donating Unwanted Items

What should you do with your unwanted items? You basically have three options: sell them, donate them, or toss them entirely.

For starters, you can throw out anything that is immediately perishable, anything that’s already open, or any personal grooming items. This includes things like:

  • Expired food
  • Unwanted cleaning products
  • Hairbrushes or razors

But you may have other items that can be either sold or donated, depending on the item and its condition. Before you get started, contact your local charity to see what types of items they accept. Not all donation centers accept things like clothing, linen, or even furniture.

Learning these guidelines will help you create a plan for the actual decluttering process. You can use different cardboard boxes to gather items to donate, items to sell, and items to throw away.

Organizing Your Remaining Items

Once your unwanted items are out of the house (or at least packed into the appropriate boxes), it’s time to get organized. If it helps, you might consider purchasing a small bookshelf for the living room or a closet organizer to keep your clothes tidy in the bedroom or hall closet.

Consider doing the following:

  • Organizing blankets and throw pillows
  • Stacking and organizing books
  • Using small baskets for remote controls
  • Keeping plates and cookware in distinct cabinets
  • Using labels on select drawers and closets to keep things organized

Make sure to get your family or roommates involved in this step. That way, everyone will be on the same page about where things belong.

Maintaining a Clutter-Free Home

This decluttering checklist might make it seem like decluttering is a major, one-time event. But you can actually make it a regular priority. At least once per year, go through your home room by room to identify items that you can toss, donate, or sell.

Making decluttering a regular habit can prevent things from piling up over time and keep you free from clutter — not to mention stress.

 

For this and related articles, please visit CrossCountry Mortgage

Vintage collections are more than just a hobby; they are a reflection of our history and personal style. Whether you collect vintage clothing, vinyl records, antique furniture, or any other unique items, it’s important to find creative ways to display and showcase your treasures. Not only will this bring your collection to life, but it will also serve as a source of inspiration and spark conversations with others who appreciate the beauty of vintage items. In this article, we will explore 10 creative ways to display vintage collections that will elevate your space and make your prized possessions shine.

intro

 

Create a Gallery Wall: 

One of the best ways to showcase your vintage collection is by creating a gallery wall. Select a variety of frames in different sizes and styles that complement the theme of your collection. Arrange your vintage items in an eye-catching pattern, mixing and matching colors, shapes, and textures. This display will not only add visual interest to your wall but also provide a focal point for your vintage treasures.

Use Open Shelving: 

Open shelving is an excellent way to display your vintage collection while keeping it easily accessible. Choose a floating shelf or opt for a vintage-inspired bookcase and arrange your items in a visually pleasing manner. Experiment with different heights and group similar items together for a curated look. Consider adding small plants or artwork to break up the collection and add dimension to the display.

shelfs

 

Curate a Shadow Box: 

Shadow boxes provide a unique opportunity to display and protect fragile vintage items. Use a shadow box with a glass front to create a mini-museum of your collection. Arrange your vintage items on different levels within the box, using small stands or hooks if necessary. Add a label or description for each item to provide context and enhance the storytelling aspect of your display.

Incorporate Vintage Display Cases:

Vintage-inspired display cases add charm and authenticity to your collection. Look for vintage lockers, glass-front cabinets, or even repurpose old suitcases into display cases. Use these cases to showcase smaller items such as jewelry, china, or trinkets. Arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing way and let your vintage treasures steal the show.

boxes

 

Create a Curio Cabinet:

If you have a considerable vintage collection, invest in a curio cabinet to keep your items organized and protected from dust. Curio cabinets come in various sizes, styles, and materials, allowing you to find the perfect fit for your collection. Arrange your items by type, color, or era to create a visually appealing display inside the cabinet. Consider adding LED lights to illuminate the items and make them stand out even more.

Utilize Vintage Trunks or Suitcases:

Vintage trunks and suitcases serve as both storage and display pieces. Stack them in a corner or use them as a coffee table, and showcase your vintage collection by opening them slightly to reveal a glimpse of your treasures. You can also use these trunks or suitcases to store smaller items inside while displaying larger pieces on top.

suitcases

 

Hang Vintage Clothing as Art: 

Vintage clothing is not only meant to be worn; it can also be treated as artwork. Hang your favorite vintage pieces on the wall using decorative hooks or hangers. Mix and match different textures and colors to create an eclectic look. This not only adds visual interest to your space but also preserves the delicate fabrics of your vintage garments.

Incorporate Vintage Props:

Adding vintage props to your collection display can help set the scene and add a touch of nostalgia. Use vintage cameras, old radios, or antique books as props to complement your collection. This creates a cohesive theme and allows you to tell a story with your display.

clothing

 

Create a Vintage Vignette: 

Vignettes are small, curated arrangements that tell a story or evoke a certain mood. Set up a vintage vignette by selecting a specific theme or era and arranging your collection accordingly. For example, create a 1950s diner vignette with your vintage kitchenware and vinyl records. Add small details like retro signage or vintage advertisements to enhance the ambiance.

Install a Rotating Display:

If you have a large vintage collection, consider installing a rotating display. This can be a wall-mounted or freestanding display unit with rotating panels or shelves. This allows you to showcase more items without overwhelming your space. Change the display periodically for a fresh look and to highlight different pieces from your collection.

display

 

 

Displaying vintage collections in creative and thoughtful ways allows you to celebrate their uniqueness and share your passion with others. By incorporating elements like gallery walls, open shelving, shadow boxes, vintage display cases, curio cabinets, vintage trunks, and suitcases, vintage clothing as art, vintage props, vignettes, and rotating displays, you can transform your space into a personal museum that reflects your style and love for vintage treasures. So, dust off your vintage collection and start displaying it with pride.

conclusion

 

For this and similar articles, please visit Antique Hardware Supply

There are many reasons you might consider renting out your home. You might want to purchase a new primary residence new primary residence and earn extra income by renting out the first one. But can you rent out your primary residence?

The answer is “yes.” However, the exact process can depend on several factors. Here’s everything you need to know about turning your primary residence into a rental property.

Benefits of Renting Out Your Primary Residence

Why might you consider renting out your primary residence? Turning your home into an investment property has its advantages, including:

  • You’ll receive additional, passive income
  • While you live elsewhere, someone occupies your home.
  • You’ll maintain equity in your home even while earning rental income
  • You may be eligible for certain tax deductions
Couple researched renting out their primary residence together on a laptop.

Renting out your home can be a wiser choice than selling. You can move back in after the rental agreement ends.

Legal and Financial Implications of Renting out Your Primary Residence

Can you rent out your primary residence without ending up in legal or financial hot water? There are some things to consider before converting your primary residence to a rental property.

Local Laws and Regulations

Local landlord-tenant laws may influence your ability to rent out your home. Check with your city or county to determine what laws may apply. Your homeowner’s association (HOA) may also have policies regulating when and if a home can be occupied by someone other than the primary owner.

Mortgage and Insurance Requirements

Your mortgage lender may have specific requirements about who occupies your home.

The same is true for specific loan programs. For example, if the current primary residence is encumbered by an FHA loan and a new FHA loan is being granted, FHA has specific guidelines regarding distance requiring at least 100 miles between the departure residence and the new residence.

Tax Implications and Benefits

On one hand, renting out your home can offer tax benefits. You can take tax deductions on expenses such as repairs, insurance, HOA fees, property taxes, and other costs that go into maintaining the rental property.

On the other hand, you’ll have to pay income tax on rental income. There are other tax implications to think of, as well, such as capital gains tax. If you decide to sell the property, you’ll pay capital gains taxes unless you’ve been the home’s primary occupant for at least two of the previous five years.

Permits and Licenses

First-time landlords may need to secure additional permits or licenses from their local government to ensure that the home meets all basic safety and habitation standards.

Managing the Rental Process

You’ll officially become a landlord if you choose to rent out your primary residence. That means you’ll have to make some key decisions about how to manage the property and its tenants.

Self-Management vs. Hiring a Property Manager

Being a landlord is a major responsibility. You’ll have to handle duties like collecting rent, securing tenants, and performing basic maintenance and repairs to the property.

If you’re in the area, you can save money by doing these things yourself. You have the option of outsourcing to a property management company. Doing so may add to your total costs but will save you the time and the hassle of managing the property on your own.

Finding and Screening Tenants

As a landlord, one of your most important tasks will be to find reliable tenants. You’ll want to find someone to live in the home who you can depend on to pay their rent on time and be respectful of your property.

Property Inspections & Handling Maintenance Requests

Your home must be kept in safe, livable condition. You may need a property inspection before renters move in. After this, you’ll need a system for handling maintenance requests. This is where it helps to have a property manager perform maintenance and repairs on your behalf.

Rental Agreements & Contracts

Before you advertise your rental property, you’ll need to draft a rental agreement. This document serves as a legally binding contract that outlines what’s expected of both you and the prospective tenant.

Important Clauses and Provisions to Include in Rental Agreement

The most important clauses and provisions include things like:

  • The tenant’s responsibility for the full rent amount, even if they have roommates
  • Limiting the property to residential use only (no home businesses)
  • The landlord’s right to access the premises
  • The details of renewal clauses
  • Addendums related to lifestyle factors (smoking, pets)
  • Disclosures about repair history (such as a history of asbestos and lead paint)

When in doubt, contact a real estate attorney for additional guidance on how to draft a rental agreement.

Security Deposits & Rental Payment Terms

Naturally, the most important information revolves around rental income. You’ll need to establish policies and procedures regarding things like:

  • The amount of the security deposit (typically one month’s rent)
  • Rental due dates (and any potential “grace period”)
  • Late fees for unpaid rent
  • The right to evict for nonpayment of rent

These provisions give you legal recourse when dealing with delinquent tenants and protect you from unpaid rent.

Challenges and Risks of Renting out Your Primary Residence

Renting out your home can be a good source of income, but it’s not without its drawbacks. Here are some issues to navigate when renting out your primary residence.

Common Challenges When Renting Out Your Primary Residence

There are a number of difficulties associated with renting out your primary residence, such as:

  • You’ll pay capital gains tax if you sell a home you haven’t occupied
  • You’ll have to manage the property
  • You may need additional insurance coverage for a rental property
  • You may face challenges with local zoning boards or HOAs

Being a landlord isn’t easy. Be prepared to navigate these challenges when renting your home.

Staying Informed about Laws and Regulations

Many of the laws that regulate rental properties are unique to different areas. Consequently, you’ll need to learn all you can about landlord-tenant laws. You’ll also need to stay informed about regulations surrounding the Fair Housing Act to ensure that your property complies with all regulations.

 

For this and similar articles, please visit CrossCountry Mortgage

Homeowners have several opportunities to reduce the overall amount they owe in taxes by claiming certain items on their taxes.

Here’s an overview of a few of the major tax benefits of owning a home.

Standard Deductions or Itemized Deductions?

The state and local tax deductions homeowners can claim on their taxes are designed to reduce their overall taxable income. Homeowners can choose between claiming standard deductions or itemizing their deductions.

Standard Deductions

Couple reads tax benefits of owning a home paperwork together

A standard deduction describes the fixed amount the IRS allows U.S. taxpayers to deduct from their taxable income. This is done without itemizing each expense. For the 2023 tax year, the standard deduction is $13,850 for single filers or married individuals filing separately and $27,700 for joint filers.

If you choose to claim the standard deduction, you can’t also claim itemized deductions.

Itemized Deductions

Itemized deductions are specific expenses you can deduct from your taxable income, provided you furnish valid documentation for each expense. Some common itemized deductions include:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Property taxes
  • Home equity loan interest
  • Home repairs or improvements (in certain circumstances)

The caveat to the itemized deduction is that the total amount must exceed the standard deduction of $13,850 for single filers and $27,700 for joint filers.

Which Deduction Should You Take?

If you have significant mortgage interest, you may benefit more from itemizing your deduction than taking the standard deduction. However, you should consult with your accountant or another tax professional to make sure you’re choosing the most advantageous option.

Five Tax Deductions Available for Homeowners

If you want to move forward with an itemized deduction, here are five opportunities available to you as a homeowner.

Keep in mind that there are requirements, qualifications, and limits on all the benefits mentioned in this article. Some you may qualify for, while others you may not.

1. Real Estate Tax Deduction

A property tax deduction allows you to deduct the property taxes you paid during the tax year on your tax return.

You pay your property taxes to your local government. The amount of taxes paid is based on the assessed value of your real estate property. Depending on the value of your property along with the local tax rate, the amount of your deduction will vary.

This itemized deduction is only available on taxes you paid during the tax year. You must have actually paid these taxes to claim the deduction.

There are limits to the amount of property tax you can deduct. Currently, the tax law for 2023 limits real estate tax deductions to $10,000.

2. Mortgage Interest Deduction

Mortgage interest is the amount you pay to a lender as a fee for borrowing your mortgage through them. The amount you pay in mortgage interest will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The value of your home
  • Your credit
  • The type of loan you qualify for
  • The year you began borrowing

If you have a $200,000 mortgage with an interest rate of 4%, you’re paying $8,000 in yearly interest. This puts you close to the cap for a standard tax deduction. You can use these payments as an itemized deduction as long as you meet certain requirements:

  • You can deduct mortgage interest on your primary residence and one other qualified residence, like a second home
  • Your mortgage must be a secured debt, which means it’s backed by your home as collateral

Like anything else, there are limits on mortgage interest deductions. Currently, the IRS rules that homeowners may deduct up to $750,000 of home mortgage interest costs. Depending on your situation, you may be able to add your mortgage insurance premiums to your deduction.

3. Home Office Deduction

If you have a home office, you may be able to deduct some of your expenses as a home office deduction. There are specific rules around using this deduction, so it’s important to make sure you qualify.

To qualify for a home office deduction, you must use your home office space regularly and exclusively for business. It must also be the principal place where you do business or meet with clients or customers.

Assuming you qualify, the next step is to calculate the percentage of your home that you use for business purposes. In order to find this number, divide the square footage of your home office by your home’s total square footage.

You can also deduct certain eligible expenses if you use your home for business, such as utilities, insurance, and maintenance costs.

When deducting your home office space you’ll need to complete IRS Form 8829. This form can help you calculate the total amount of your home office deduction.

4. Home Equity Loan

A Home Equity Line of Credit Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) offers homeowners a flexible way to borrow funds. This can be used for a variety of purposes, such as:

  • Debt consolidation
  • Home renovations
  • Education expenses

In some cases, interest on a home equity loan is tax-deductible. This is true when the loan funding is used for making improvements.

At this time, qualified home equity loan interest is tax deductible through 2026.

5. Mortgage Points

Mortgage points are fees you pay to a lender when closing on a loan to secure a lower interest rate on your mortgage. One point is equal to 1% of your total mortgage amount. For example, if your mortgage is $200,000, one mortgage point would be equal to $2,000.

Paying mortgage points can lower your interest rate, resulting in reduced monthly mortgage payments. This could potentially save you thousands in interest savings during the life of the loan.

Mortgage points are tax-deductible in the year you pay them, though the deductions are subject to certain restrictions and limitations. The IRS considers mortgage points prepaid interest, which means they can be itemized deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040.

Tax Credits vs. Tax Deductions

Standard or itemized deductions aren’t the only potential tax benefits of owning a home. Another venue you can explore is tax credits.

Your tax deduction reduces the amount of your income taxes. Tax credits, on the other hand, are dollar-for-dollar reductions on the taxes you owe. If you owe $5,000 in taxes and have a $2,000 tax credit, your tax bill would drop to $3,000.

Tax credits are usually based on specific circumstances like paying for college tuition, adopting a child, or installing energy-efficient windows.

Two big tax credit benefits homeowners can take are the energy-efficient property credit and the first-time homebuyer credit.

Energy-Efficient Property Credit

Energy-efficient property credits provide a financial incentive to invest in energy-efficient improvements and additions, such as:

  • Solar panels
  • Wind turbines
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Fuel cells

Energy credits allow you to claim a percentage of the cost of installed energy-efficient equipment. These percentages vary depending on the year you installed the equipment and the type of property you installed it on.

In 2023, this credit becomes equal to 30% of the total amount paid on qualifying home improvements. Or, you can take the annual $1,200 credit limit.

To qualify for this credit, your property must meet the outlined energy-efficient requirements. Additionally, all new equipment must be installed in your primary residence. Second homes and rental properties are not eligible.

The energy-efficient property credit is non-refundable. It can’t ensure a refund if the credit exceeds your tax liability.

First-Time Homebuyer Credit

The first-time homebuyer tax credit was a federal credit program that offered financial assistance to first-time homebuyers. This program was active between April 2008 and September 2010.

In 2021, U.S. lawmakers introduced the First-Time Homebuyer Act. This would grant first-time homebuyers up to $15,000 in refundable federal tax credits. As of March 2023, the bill has not yet been passed into law.

If and when it passes, first-time homebuyers who satisfy the specific requirements can qualify for a $15,000 tax credit. They would have to meet the following criteria:

  • Being a first-time homebuyer
  • Not owning a home in the last 36 months
  • Not exceeding the area’s income limitations
  • Purchasing a primary residence (rental properties and second homes don’t qualify)
  • Being at least 18 years old or married to someone who’s at least 18
  • Purchasing a home from a non-relative

The tax credit will equal 10% of the home’s purchase price and cannot exceed $15,000.

Other Tax Benefits of Owning a Home

These aren’t the only tax benefits available to homeowners. If you were to sell your home, you might also qualify for:

  • A capital gains exclusion
  • Rent deduction for temporary housing
  • Write-offs for moving expenses

 

For this and similar articles, please visit CrossCountry Mortgage

Raking leaves PBOT
Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) crews work to keep city drains clear and prevent flooding. With over 58,000 drains in the city, we can’t get to them all. “Adopt” a storm drain near you and help keep them clear of debris. Tips on clearing drains and information about stormwater runoff.

About storm drains

Portland’s storm drains, also known as catch basins, help with stormwater runoff and prevent flooding. When drains get clogged with fallen leaves and other debris, it leads to dangerous ponding along city streets and intersections. Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) crews work hard to keep more than 58,000 storm drains clear but with so many, we can’t get to them all. Thank you to all Portlanders who have “adopted” storm drains in their neighborhoods and help us keep them free and clear.


Tips for clearing storm drains

  • Use a rake, shovel, or broom. Don’t use your hands.
  • Wear gloves. Be careful of sharp objects!
  • Wear reflective clothing so people driving can see you. Watch out for traffic!
  • Only clear drains you can reach from the sidewalk. Don’t stand in the street and don’t clear drains that are in the middle of a street.
  • Clear drains before the rain, whenever possible.
  • Clear 10 feet on both approaches to the drain.
  • Watch for standing water to avoid slipping or stepping on sharp objects.
  • Make sure adults are supervising if children are helping.
  • Clear surface debris only. Call PBOT Maintenance Dispatch 24/7 at 503-823-1700 for any emergency hazards or if the drain is still clogged after removing surface debris.
  • Never lift storm drain grates. They are very heavy.
  • Don’t put leaves in the street. Place leaves and other organic material in your green compost bin for curbside pickup. If you have too much for the bin, simply use lawn bags and place them next to the roll cart for pickup. If there’s trash in the drain, place this in your regular garbage bin, NOT in the compost.
  • If snow or ice is blocking the drain, clear a 10-12 inch path along the curb for melting snow and ice to reach the drain.

Thank you for helping keep Portland’s streets clear and safe!

 

For this and related articles, please visit Portland.gov

You’ve probably experienced it: a strange phone call claiming to be from the IRS, a notice you’re late on a bill you’re sure you paid, or a congratulations for winning a sweepstakes you never entered. These are all examples of scams – and we want to help you identify them.

What is a scam?

A scam is any deceptive act that attempts to steal your money or sensitive information. Scammers often pose as an institution or individual you know, like a financial company or a friend or family member, to convince you to send them cash or perform an action that lets them access your personal data.

What is a phishing attack?

Phishing attacks are one of the most common scam methods. With a phishing attack, scammers will pretend to be a person or organization who the victim trusts using a fraudulent email, text, phone call, or website. They’ll try to trick their target into downloading malware, sharing sensitive information, or otherwise exposing themselves to cybercrimes.

Man sitting at desk identifies a scam on his computer.

Victims of cybercrimes may experience identity theft, credit card fraud, ransomware, and financial losses.

How to tell if someone is scamming you online

Now you’re probably asking yourself: how do I avoid a scam? It’s not difficult once you know these four red flags.

1. Scammers will say they are someone important.

The scammer will pretend to be a real organization or someone you’d trust, like the Social Security Administration, or make up an official-sounding acronym or name.

2. Scammers will say you won a prize or are in trouble.

The scammer’s message is likely to be extreme, saying you owe money, that there’s an emergency, or that you’ve won a sweepstakes or lottery.

3. Scammers will tell you to act – now.

Given their message, the scammer won’t let you wait. They’ll tell you the situation is urgent, and you need to do what they say right away.

4. Scammers will ask for a very specific payment method.

Offers to provide cash later or call back aren’t useful for scammers. They will ask for a wire transfer, peer-to-peer payment, gift card code, or other form of immediate money transfer.

How to spot a phishing email

Our four scammer signs also apply to phishing attacks. These are common tactics scammers will use in an email scam:

  • Claiming there’s a problem with your account or payment information
  • Saying there’s been suspicious account activity or log-in attempts
  • Asking you to confirm personal or financial information
  • Including an unknown invoice
  • Wanting you to click a link to make a payment
  • Saying you’re eligible to register for a government refund
  • Offering a coupon for free stuff

Details that indicate these messages are fake include a general email greeting, misspellings or grammar mistakes, and email addresses that don’t match the organization’s official address. You should also avoid clicking links in suspicious emails, as these may send you to fraudulent websites.

Identify scam phone calls and text messages

Emails and websites aren’t the only methods scammers use. Phone calls and text messages are home to similar scams with different details to watch out for.

1. Scam calls will come from unknown numbers.

If you don’t know the number, don’t answer. Even if the caller ID is from a local area or familiar organization, scammers can spoof numbers to appear trustworthy.

2. Scam calls will ask you to do something.

If you answer the call and are asked to answer a question or hit a button, hang up. Scammers use simple “Yes or No” questions to gather valuable data, and hitting a button to stop getting calls identifies a potential victim.

3. Scam calls will sound important.

Family members and government agencies are common scammer disguises. Before you do anything, hang up and call your loved one if identified as such – and know that institutions with your private data will usually provide a written statement before a phone call.

4. Scam calls will pressure you to act.

You’ll hear you owe the scammer money. Or that your loved one needs help now. But these statements are just giving you a sense of urgency so you don’t think about the request. Don’t give in to their demands.

How to stop scam calls

To avoid scam calls, register your number with the National Do Not Call Registry. Legitimate telemarketers will avoid calling numbers on the list. You should also use call blocking tools and password-protected voicemail to help block unwanted calls.

How to report a scam

Different scam methods have different methods of reporting.

  • Phishing emails should be forwarded to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at reportphishing@apwg.org. If you received the phishing email through a work email, report it so your company’s IT team remains aware of active threats.
  • Phishing text messages should be forwarded to SPAM (7726).
  • Phishing phone calls should be reported to your robocall-blocking technology to help the company block the number from reaching you or other people.

If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a scam, it’s critical to act urgently to minimize any financial damage.

  • Report the crime to your local police or sheriff’s office and state attorney general
  • Contact your bank and credit card companies to cancel any cards exposed to the scam
  • Reach out to the credit bureaus to freeze your credit and place a fraud alert on your credit reports
  • Change your online passwords to prevent scammers from accessing your accounts

 

For this and related articles, please visit CrossCountry Mortgage

Play your cards right when you really want the house.

You’ve found it: The home of your dreams (cue the heavenly angel voices and “Happily Ever After” banner waving in the breeze). But reality can hit hard: Your dream home happens to occupy the same happy heart space within, oh, roughly 20 other homebuying challengers who want it just as badly as you do.

Welcome to your local seller’s market!

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, a competitive housing market can seem like a shark-filled ocean with 50-foot waves. However, with the right tools, timing, and team around you, those waters will quickly calm, creating promising opportunities to realize the American dream of homeownership and secure the future you envision.

Where do first-time homebuyers get help in a bidding war?

Loan Officer. Your expert loan officer (LO) is a key partner who supplies you with your most important tool in an intense seller’s market: the mortgage pre-approval letter. This document essentially speaks for itself, telling any potential seller that you are ready to buy, and that scrupulous underwriting has certified your financial circumstances and credit score for home loan authorization.

Real estate agent. Often, your LO will work with various real estate partners in different neighborhoods as they rely on each other to refer business. Agents act as an LO’s eyes and ears, and this is a crucial service in fluctuating housing markets. The mortgage loan process — from mortgage loan approval to the transaction closing table — is best when there’s a smooth hand-off, so having a two-person (or more) team is to your advantage as a first-time homebuyer. Once your finances are squared away, and the home loan pre-approval letter is in hand, your agent becomes your top general in the battle to come. Above all, your real estate professional must be responsive, because windows open and shut in the blink of an eye during a bidding war.

Yourself. Research is key, and information is available that could give you an early step up in the bidding war. Look at the strategies in the next section, but consider this: Avoiding a bidding war is the best option. Perhaps there’s a neighborhood out there that might not be the trendy place to live — for whatever reason — but could be your place to live. Perhaps there’s a home that’s less attractive to other buyers because it needs renovation (we have loans for that!). If you broaden your horizons you may have more choices.

What bidding war strategies can first-time homebuyers use?

There’s an old football adage (attributed to Vince Lombardi) that speaks to one’s behavior in a new and exciting situation: Act like you’ve been there before. In other words, carry yourself as a veteran of the homebuying game by making sound, well-thought-out decisions; not a rookie who makes impulsive mistakes.

Excitement will inevitably define your first foray into buying a new home, but this is not the time to be emotional. Be active but patient, and most importantly, be confident the right house is out there for you. Even if this one doesn’t work out.

First time homebuyers finding out they won the bidding war for their new home
  • Set your limit and stick to it. One question that might keep popping up during a bidding war is “How much more can I afford?” The best approach is to set your maximum purchase limit, never waver from it, and never tell anyone what it is (other than your trusted real estate agent). When you make an offer, you can incorporate an escalation clause if you wish, which increases your original offer by set increments up to a maximum threshold when bids come in from other competitors. This, in essence, automatically keeps you in the bidding war up to your maximum, without you having to make new offers. The escalation clause takes the emotion out of the bidding process, and can potentially save you lots of money.
  • Make a big offer without contingencies. If you want an early foot in the door to buy a home, make an offer at or over the asking price, and don’t include normal contingencies. For instance, when you remove the appraisal contingency, you’re offering to pay the shortfall if the house appraises low and your loan only covers the appraised amount. Though it’s never wise to skip the home inspection, if you really love the house, this is a contingency you could remove, but it carries huge risk. Consult your agent before you consider this step.
  • Get personal. A common tool in an intense bidding war is a personal letter to the sellers. Often, a home sale is highly emotional, and sellers may have a notion to ‘leave the house in good hands.’ Painting a literary picture of the home under your care — family gatherings, summers in the garden, sunsets on the porch — could be just the thing to make you a front-runner.
  • Be persistent. If a contract is negotiated between a homebuying competitor and the seller, don’t give up. Though most contracts go through to completion, if the seller wants to encourage a bidding war, chances are they have a kick-out clause worked in. This allows them to field other offers, even while under contract, in case the buyer can’t meet a contingency. If you make a back-up offer, you still may have a shot, especially if you have room to come in higher. Also, deals fall apart all the time, so stay in the game until the title changes hands.

What types of home loans are best for bidding wars?

Small home loans are best to bring to a bidding war, with the rest of the purchase capital coming from cash. Sellers love all-cash or mostly cash offers, because they remove potential hurdles involved with buyer financing. However, knowing that most buyers won’t show up at the front door with briefcase full of Ben Franklins, sellers want the next best thing, which is indication of smooth sailing through the home-selling process.

A conventional home loan, accompanied by a healthy down payment (20% or more), will usually demonstrate you’re ready, willing, and able to make a serious offer on the home. But don’t let this discourage you if you’re using a different type of loan with a lower down payment, for example. A solid pre-approval from CrossCountry Mortgage shows the seller – and their agent – you mean business.

 

For this and related articles, please visit CrossCountry Mortgage