Look At My Homes’ Launches “Homeowner News”

The Look at My Homes Blog is happy to introduce our latest feature for homeowners and renters – our newsletter! Each newsletter will feature helpful tips and advice for homeowners and renters as well as a featured home in the area that is for sale or rent. Below is the front page of our current edition. If you would like to read all four pages, simply click on the links below or go directly to the “Homeowner News.”

February 26 LAMH 2016-page-001Read the rest of our newsletter by clicking HERE or visiting February 26 LAMH 2016


Tax Credits for Home Buyers

Tax Credits for Home Buyers

If you’re considering buying a home, you’ve probably evaluated the various costs involved and weighed them against the value of owning your own home. What you should keep in mind is that there are also several Federal tax credits available when you purchase a home that could give you a sizable break on your income tax returns for 2016 and beyond. If you purchased a house in 2015, you may be able to claim some of these credits on your 2015 return. By itemizing your tax return, you can maximize these benefits. Always check with a Federal income tax specialist regarding any of these deductions before filing.


Mortgage Interest Deduction

The majority of your monthly mortgage payments will usually go primarily toward the interest on your loan, and you can deduct this interest when you’re doing your taxes. Your lender will send you a 1098 form that shows how much interest you paid and how much of it you can deduct.

Mortgage Insurance Premiums

If your loan value is greater than 80% of the total value of the home, you will have to carry some kind of mortgage insurance, which protects the lending institution if you default on the loan. Until your equity increases and you can waive the mortgage insurance, you can deduct the cost of the insurance as long as your adjusted gross income is less than $100,000 for a couple or $50,000 for an individual. For higher incomes, the deductible amount will be adjusted down or eliminated.

Property Taxes

You can deduct both local and state property taxes if they are based on the assessed value of the property. If your taxes are paid out of an escrow account from your mortgage, you will receive a 1098 form with the total amount of the property taxes you can deduct. If you pay your property taxes yourself, be sure to keep copies of the bills and add them up.

Closing Points

The points you pay at the closing on your house can be deductible if it is your first home mortgage and the house is your primary residence. If you are refinancing an existing mortgage, the points may have to be spread out over the life of the loan.

Energy Efficiency Credits

Installing energy efficient doors, windows and/or skylights can be a great way to save money on your utility bills, but it can also get you a tax credit. You’ll have to install windows, doors or skylights that are Energy Star approved. For more information on EnergyStar, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ENERGY STAR program. Keep the receipts and Energy Star labels in case you are audited. If they meet the criteria, you can deduct 10% of their total cost up to a cap of $500 for doors and $200 for windows and skylights.

If you’ve recently purchased a home or will be buying one in 2016, your best bet is to talk to an income tax professional so that you are getting all of the credits allowed without making any costly mistakes.


Learn More About CLUE Reports

Today’s smart home buyers and sellers will obtain a “CLUE” report before a sale is finalized. It stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, after the organization that compiles the information in the report. A CLUE report includes information on the homeowners, including their name, insurance policy number, when and how many losses they’ve sustained, how often they’ve filed claims and whether those claims were denied or paid. In real estate, a CLUE report can be a good idea for both buyers and sellers to have. To learn more about CLUE reports, read the full article “What is a C.L.U.E. Report?” at Mesquite Real Estate Blog.


Safety Tips for Shoveling Snow

snow_shovelling_colorRegardless of whether you’re a  homeowner or you’re currently renting, during these unpredictable winter months you’ll have to contend with snow at some point. Shoveling snow can be strenuous and should only be done if you’re in good health and have your doctor’s approval. If you need to shovel out your driveway or sidewalks, keep these safety tips in mind:

• Make sure you warm up before shoveling

• Use an ergonomic shovel to ease the strain on your back

• Lift with your legs and knees rather than your back

• When emptying the shovel, move at the hips rather than twisting at the waist

• Wear layers of clothing so that you can peel a layer off if you get overheated

• Take frequent breaks so that you don’t get winded

• Make sure you hydrate. Take a water bottle with you and drink some every time you take a break to avoid dehydration in the cold winter air

• Keep the shovel close to the body at all times

If you’re tired of shoveling your driveway, give Mr. B’s Lawn Service a call. They can give you a quote on taking care of your driveway, sidewalk or parking lot as well as shoveling and salting. They are the best residential and commercial snow removal service in Ellwood City, PA. They also service Wexford, New Castle and Chippewa, PA. Call them for a quote at 724-752-5551.

816 Western Street, Ellwood City, PA is Family Ready

816 Western Street
816 Western Street

You’ll fall in love with the details in this house. A spacious layout and completely finished attic bedroom gives you lots of flexibility and storage. A spacious kitchen with oak cabinets, updated countertops and beautiful architectural details are just a few of the reasons you’ll want to move right in. Hardwood floors and a neutral color palette mean you can move right in. It even has central air to keep you cool on those hot summer days. You won’t find a five bedroom house in this great condition anywhere else that’s priced to sell at $76,900!



Contact Look At My Homes at 724-333-4114 to schedule an appointment or get more information.

Six Reasons Why You Should Consider Buying Instead of Renting Your Next Home


Since the housing bubble in the days of the mortgage crisis, many people have become leery of purchasing a home. They worry about the mortgage payments, whether the house will appreciate in value in the coming years. But the crisis is in large part over and home values have stabilized, opening the door to home ownership once again for savvy buyers. Today, rents are rising in a rebounding economy, yet home sale prices are more affordable in many parts of the country. What are the advantages of buying a home in Ellwood City compared to simply renting?

  1. A House is a Blank Canvas for Expression

We’ve all rented at one time or another from a landlord that stressed what you couldn’t do – no painting the walls, no nail holes for hanging pictures, no modifications to the structure. On the other hand, if you own your house, there are limitless ways to express your style. You can paint every wall a different color if you like, or knock out a wall to transform two cramped spaces into one spacious area.


  1. You Can Make a House More Efficient

One of the biggest expenses whether you rent or own is the cost of utilities. Whether you’re focused on reducing your carbon footprint for altruistic reasons or you simply want to save some money on heating and cooling expenses, if you own your own home you have a lot of opportunities. Upgrading your HVAC system, investing in solar panels and adding extra insulation are all “green” improvements that will pay for themselves quickly. If you’re renting, you’re at the mercy of your landlord.

  1. No Landlord

Not having a landlord is pretty much self-explanatory. A mortgage payment frees you from having to worry about a landlord who may pop by unannounced. You won’t have to call and nag an unresponsive landlord if the washer is broken or the roof is leaking. Home owners can take care of repairs themselves or hire someone to do it. Home ownership gives you control.

  1. The Right Kind of Mortgage Makes Budgeting Easier

Although there are some upfront costs to purchasing a house or condo, a fixed rate mortgage is guaranteed for the life of the mortgage. That means you’ll never have to worry about your landlord suddenly raising the rates when you sign your new lease each year. With housing prices and interest rates as low as they’ve been in fifty years, now is the time to buy to protect yourself against inflation with a mortgage. A mortgage calculator can be an easy way to determine how much you can afford and what you will be paying each month based on a variety of parameters. There are several excellent ones available online, including MortgageCalculator.org.

  1. Buying Means You Can Stay Put

Renters never know from one year to the next what might happen when their lease is up. The landlord may decide to raise the rent, or he could put the property on the market. The possibility of having to pack up and move is a real one if you aren’t the owner of your home. If you want to put down roots and create a true home, buying is a better bet than renting.

  1. You Can Build Equity

Buying a house as an investment shouldn’t be the primary reason you purchase a house or condo, but if you plan on staying in one place for at least five years, it could turn out to be a valid reason. But a house is a long-term investment, not a short term one. The longer you stay in one place, the more your house will appreciate in value. This is particularly true if you purchase a house in an area that is undergoing a Renaissance. If you spend the next several years improving your house, you’ll be impressed with how much your home is worth ten years down the road. You can then use the increased value to get a home equity loan if you need one.  Your landlord isn’t going to give you a loan based on your timely rental payments.

Be sure to weight the pros and cons before choosing whether to own or rent your next home in Ellwood City, PA. If you plan to stay put for at least five years and like to idea of creating your own space and improving your house, buying a house may be the best choice. Talk to homeowners in your area to get some feedback. You’ll discover that most homeowners wonder why they waited so long before buying once they are in a home of their own.