HotelDel DownTown Sunset

Greetings from Jennifer Ross -  Realtor
Dad's BirthdayThe last few weeks of 2010 were special.  I celebrated my dad's 81st birthday at a dinner party in Santa Barbara given by a group of his wonderful friends. I then enjoyed Christmas with my kids.  My two favorite gifts this Christmas were the WII game system and the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner. I brought in the new year with a gang of friends, entertaining ourselves and laughing histerically on virtual snowboards and knocking each other out in boxing matches.  I now know what the kids see in these games! And I never imagined that I could push a button on a robotic vacuum, go walk on the bay and return to a clean house - this is heaven!  Happy New Year!
The Most Overlooked Tax Deductions

No doubt about it: The opportunity to make mistakes is almost unlimited, and missed deductions can be the most costly. About 48 million of us itemize on our 1040s -- claiming more than $1 trillion worth of deductions.
Another 92 million taxpayers claim about $700 billion worth using standard deductions-and some of you who take the easy way out probably shortchange yourselves. (If you turned 65 in 2010, remember that you now deserve a bigger standard deduction than the younger folks.)

Yes, friends, tax time is a dangerous time. It's all too easy to miss a trick and pay too much. Years ago, the fellow who ran the IRS at the time told Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine that he figured millions of taxpayers overpaid their taxes every year by overlooking just one of the money-savers listed below:
Moving expenses to take your first job. As we just mentioned, job-hunting expenses incurred while looking for your first job are not deductible. But, moving expenses to get to that position are. And you get this write-off even if you don't itemize.

To qualify for the deduction, your first job must be at least 50 miles away from your old home. If you qualify, you can deduct the cost of getting yourself and your household goods to the new area, including 16 cents per mile for driving your own vehicle for a 2010 move, plus parking fees and tolls.

Refinancing points. When you buy a house, you get to deduct in one fell swoop the points paid to get your mortgage. When you refinance a mortgage, though, you have to deduct the points over the life of the loan. That means you can deduct 1/30th of the points a year if it's a 30-year mortgage. That's $33 a year for each $1,000 of points you paid -- not much, maybe, but don't throw it away.

Even more important, in the year you pay off the loan -- because you sell the house or refinance again -- you get to deduct in one fell swoop all of the as-yet-undeducted points. There's one exception to this sweet rule: If you refinance a refinanced loan with the same lender, you add the points paid on the latest deal to the leftovers from the previous refinancing -- and deduct that amount gradually over the life of the new loan.

Credit for energy-saving home improvements. You can claim a tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of energy-saving home improvements up to a maximum of $1,500. This cap applies to both 2009 and 2010 combined, so if you claimed the maximum $1,500 in 2009, you don't get another crack at it for 2010. The credit applies to biomass fuel stoves, qualifying skylights, windows and outside doors, and high-efficiency furnaces, water heaters and central air conditioners. For 2011, this credit goes back to pre-2009 limits (for example, $500 maximum credit for all years with no more than $200 for windows).

There's also no dollar limit on the separate credit for homeowners who install qualified residential alternative energy equipment, such as solar hot water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and wind turbines. Your credit can be 30% of the total cost (including labor) of such systems installed through 2016.

Home-buyer credit. We put this last on the list because it's hard to imagine any taxpayer missing this big a tax break. But some deadlines were extended and you don't want to miss out if you qualify for the credit. First-time home buyers and longtime homeowners qualify for this break in 2010 as long as they either closed a home sale by April 30, 2010 or entered into a binding contract to purchase a home by April 30th and closed on the deal no later than September 30th. The credit is $8,000 for first-time home buyers (someone who didn't own a home in the three years leading up to the purchase of a new home) and $6,500 for longtime homeowners (those who continuously owned a home for at least five of the eight years leading up to the purchase of a new home). The credit gradually disappears and is phased out for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes between $125,000 and $145,000 (for singles) and $225,000 and $245,000 (for married couples who file jointly). Also, if you purchased a home in 2010 and want your credit quicker, you are allowed to claim it early by filing an amended 2009 tax return.
News and Views  

There is some encouraging news for real estate coming from a new survey from the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate. More than 60 percent of investors surveyed said the U.S. offers the best potential for capital appreciation in 2011. "As the fear of a double-dip recession has faded, investors are becoming more enthusiastic about the prospects for the U.S. economy and are taking aim at real estate investment opportunities in the U.S.," said CEO James Fetgatter. The survey finds 72 percent of foreign investors plan to invest more capital here this year than in 2010.
The Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), released by the National Association of Home Builders, is near its record high for the 7th consecutive quarter. This is great news for home buyers. The HOI shows that 72.1% of all new and existing homes sold in the third quarter of 2010 were affordable to families earning the national median income level of $64,400. The record high was 72.5, set in the first quarter of 2009.

Video of the Week

Born To Create DramaBorn To Create Drama
This hilarious commercial was an entry for the Young Director Award 2010 - enjoy.

Famous Quotes
We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.
Edith Lovejoy Pierce 
As always, feel free to give me a call 800-913-7677 with your real estate needs.  I appreciate your referrals.

Acedemic Earth 

Jennifer Ross

Experience Counts!
Over 21 years in
Real Estate sales
Serving all of San Diego
Office: 800.913.7677
Direct: 619.985.7340


Current Mortage Rates
 ( weekly avg)
 30 yr fixed: 5.02%
15 yr fixed: 4.39%


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