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Tax Consequences of Becoming a Landlord

This is a guest post on the tax consequences of becoming a landlord by Aleksandr Vasser of Avky Inc.

As the real estate market deteriorated, many homeowners found themselves in need of a way to move out of their home without taking a large loss in value or to avoid foreclosure. A large amount of homeowners decided to become landlords. As tax time approaches, it will be important that landlords understand the implications of this decision.

Tax Consequences: Real Estate Tax Basics

Any homeowner turned landlord should consult a tax advisor when preparing their taxes. Many homeowners, who filed their own taxes in the past, will find that this simple life change complicates their taxes tremendously. It will also be extremely important to save every receipt related to the rental of the home. This includes any flyers or marketing materials, agent fees, repair costs, etc. Many of these expenses can be deducted from the rental revenue to lower the overall income from the rental. Additionally, the mortgage on the property should also be considered when deducting expenses.

Consulting a tax professional before renting the property can help to minimize potential issues related to comingling spaces. For example, if a homeowner only decides to rent a room or the top floor of the home, while keeping the basement for him/herself, there will be very different tax consequences, than if the homeowner had chosen to rent the entire home.

Tax Consequences: Real Estate and Depreciation

Homeowners are traditionally not able to count depreciation as an expense; however, once it becomes a rental, homeowners will be able to deduct depreciation. Be careful when considering this deduction, however. If a homeowner moves back into the home to use it as his/her primary resident this tax deduction might have to be repaid.

Traditionally, it is not worth the headache (or money) to deduct depreciation from a small single family home. The savings will be minimal for two reasons. First, many times the tax preparer will charge more to calculate this deduction. Second, homeowners will need to pay a depreciation recapture tax and/or more capital gains taxes when selling the home. If renting out a home is a short term strategy, don’t bother taking this deduction. If it appears that it is a longer term strategy (5+ years) then it may be worth it.

Tax Consequences: Other Real Estate Tax Considerations

Homeowners should look at their homes completely different when renting them out. Property taxes can be deducted if the home is a rental. Furthermore, any loss that a homeowner suffers while renting their home can also be deducted from their overall income. For many homeowners that find themselves in the position of renting their home for less than their mortgage, this can be a silver lining.

Again, before considering renting a home, consult a tax professional. Importantly, make sure that tax professional either specializes in real estate or has a substantial client base of real estate investors. Smart tax professionals can help first time landlords avoid the many tax pitfalls of renting their home.

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Real Estate Auctions: How to Buy and What to Do

The following is a guest post on real estate auctions from Avky Inc real estate entrepreneurs Kyle Uchitel and Aleksandr Vasser.

Real estate auctions can be a great place to find a hidden gem. Smart investors use real estate auctions as one of their many sourcing strategies for good real estate investments, but beware; real estate auctions can also hold many dangers.

Real Estate Auctions: Prepare for the Auction

Most auctions send out a property list some time before the auction or hold a public viewing of the properties before the auction. These are a must visit for any investor potentially looking to purchase a property at the auction. Investors should do their best to take pictures and do a thorough review of the physical property. If possible bring an inspector along. They can point out the not so obvious issues with the property and even give an investor a potential costs to correct any damages. While this look will certainly be preliminary, it should help an investor avoid an obvious bidding mistake.

Next, head down to the local courthouse and do a lien search. Investors that want to become serious bidders at auctions should be very familiar with this process. To be certain that when the property is purchased from the primary lien holder, its ownership will revert to the investor, an investor must verify that there are no other lien holders. Most importantly, any property taxes or government liens on the property will not mysteriously go away after the auction process. These must be paid or settled and should be factored into the bidding price.

Last, come up with a maximum bid price. Create an investment plan for the asset and then work backwards. Understand how much a fully renovated property would sell for, how much it will cost to renovate the property, pay off the liens and hold the property until a buyer is found. Add a healthy profit margin for cost overruns and that will be the maximum price.

Real Estate Auctions: Bidding at the Auction

After preparing for the auction, investors should take their time at the auction. It’s helpful to have multiple properties researched and ready to bid on in case there are multiple bidders. It helps to come early to get an understanding of the environment and the bidding process. Stick to the maximum and never go over. If investors do their homework right, they should never have a reason to increase their maximum bid despite human nature.

Auctions are a great way to find good investment opportunities. They are often quick sales and require quick analysis of the properties and a quick ability to close them. Investors that prepare and understand the process, stand to reap huge rewards from this buying method.