Q: With so many homebuilders to choose from, how do I decide who to go with?
A: If you’re in the market for a new home, you should shop for your builder as carefully as you shop for your home. Whether you are buying a condo, a townhouse, a house in a subdivision or a custom-built house, you want to know that you are buying a good quality home from a reputable builder. Here are some tips to help you choose a builder.
Q: What are some questions I should be asking my homebuilder?
A: When you’re thinking about buying a new home, selecting the right home builder is a key step in creating the home of your dreams. You should feel comfortable asking a potential home builder every question that you think is important. And, a professional builder or sales representative will want to make you a happy and satisfied home owner. Read more.
Q: What’s the difference between a custom home and a “production” home?
A: While production builders build communities by restricting design to a group of preselected home types on lots they have picked and purchased themselves, custom builders tend to build on land owned by the customer and start fresh with each design.
Production builders typically construct a large number of homes throughout the year; these may offer a variety of options, but production builders generally do not use construction plans other than the ones selected by the building firm. Custom builders spend more time on each project and often work on fewer than ten homes a year.
Q: What are the tax benefits of home ownership?
A: Homeownership has many important benefits for millions of Americans across the country — including creating a sense of community, building wealth and providing financial security.
And, at tax time, homeowners can take advantage of several sources of tax savings, including:
- Deductions for mortgage interest
- Deductions for real estate taxes
- The capital gains exclusion for the sale of a principal residence
Mortgage Interest Deduction
Homeowners who itemize their federal income tax deductions can deduct 100 percent of their mortgage interest payments on a first or second home for up to $1 million of mortgage debt. The Mortgage Interest Statement Form 1098, which homeowners receive from their lenders, shows the total amount of home mortgage interest paid during the year.
Homeowners also can deduct the interest paid on up to $100,000 of home equity loans.
For most homeowners, this means they can deduct all of the mortgage interest they’ve paid on their home each year.
Real Estate Tax Deduction
Homeowners can deduct the state and local real estate taxes they pay each year on an owner-occupied home.
Capital Gains Exclusion
When it is time to sell a home, in many cases homeowners don’t have to pay capital gains tax on the profit from the sale. Under present law, married couples who have owned and occupied their principal residence for at least two of the past five years do not have to pay any taxes on the first $500,000 in profits from the sale of their home. Single filers earn up to $250,000 tax-free.
Additional Tax Savings
Another deduction homeowners may be able to take is for mortgage insurance premiums. Generally, people who purchase a home without putting 20 percent down have to buy mortgage insurance, and those premiums can also be deducted from taxable income.
Even homeowners who don’t use the home as their principal residence and rent it out may be able to enjoy some tax benefits, including interest and depreciation deductions.
Preserving the Mortgage Interest Deduction
Buying a home offers tax savings that can add up to tens of thousands of dollars over several years. Homeowners rely on the mortgage interest deduction each year to help offset the costs of homeownership, and prospective buyers take the deduction into consideration when choosing homeownership over renting.
That’s why it’s important for policymakers to preserve the mortgage interest deduction, which has been included in the tax code for more than 100 years. It supports the aspirations of families at all income levels to become homeowners, and Americans overwhelmingly oppose any action by Congress to tamper with the deduction.
Learn more about the importance of the mortgage interest deduction at ProtectHomeownership.com.
Q: I’m confused by all the “lingo,” do you have a dictionary of terms?
A: The National Association of Home Builders has compiled a list of terms regularly used during the home buying and home construction process. See them here.
Q: What can I do if I have a dispute with my builder?
A: Homes, like all structures built for human occupancy, are assembled on site, by hand, from the ground upward in the elements of nature by scores of construction professionals. As such, situations develop and questions arise involving the construction methods, practices, materials and techniques used to complete the project. Each construction issue and circumstance is different and often involves a myriad of building codes, municipal ordinances, Texas laws and federal regulations.
When questions or situations arise, it is important to discuss those promptly and directly with the home builder. The home builder’s insight and expertise about the project can lead to quick resolution, provided that clear communication is established. Contact with the home builder should be done as soon as the issue becomes known especially issues involving the home’s plumbing system, electrical system, roofing and structural components. It is important to all involved in the construction process that homeowners with construction questions or experiencing what they perceive to be construction defects contact the home builder in writing and by telephone to fully describe the issue.