When is the best time to refinance?
It depends on how long you plan to hold on to your house and if you have to pay anything to refinance. In addition, it also depends on how far along you are in paying off your current mortgage.
If you are going to be selling your house shortly, you probably will not recoup any costs you incur to refinance your mortgage. If you are more than halfway through paying your current mortgage, you probably will gain little by refinancing. However, if you are going to own your home for at least five years, that's probably long enough to recoup any refinancing costs you incur and to realize real savings on lowering your monthly payment. If it is going to cost you nothing to refinance, you can gain even more.
Many lenders will allow you to roll the costs of the refinancing into the new note and still reduce the amount of the monthly payment. Also, there are no-cost refinancing deals available. In any case, it pays to consult your lender or financial advisor, or run the numbers yourself, before you refinance.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of no-cost loans?
In many states, real estate regulatory agencies are cracking down on such advertising. The very term, "no-cost" loan, is misleading because borrowers are actually paying a higher interest rate in exchange for not having to pay fees or closing costs up front when the loan is secured.
A "no-points" loan is one for which the lender does not charge points (one point is equal to 1 percent of the loan amount). But there are other fees involved in no-point loans, as with most loans.
How does bankruptcy affect my refinancing?
Refinancing may be prudent but could be difficult after a bankruptcy. If you're considering bankruptcy, you may want to go to your current lender first and explain the situation. If you have been current on your payments, the lender may be accommodating and refinance your loan, easing your financial situation.
What are the rules on Capital Gains?
When children inherit a home, the Internal Revenue Service determines their basis in the property on the date of the owner's death. The cost basis is not the amount the owner originally paid for the house, but the property's fair-market value on the date of the parent's death.
Cost basis is a tax term for the dollar amount assigned to a property at the time it is acquired, for the purpose of determining gain or loss when it is sold. For example, one of the three siblings sold his or her share of a property to be divided equally, he or she must pay capital gains tax for whatever profit made over one-third of the new basis.
Other tax consequences include estate taxes. However, the estate must total $675,000 or more for tax year 2000 before tax issues become a concern. The IRS allows residents to pass on property, cash and other assets worth up to a total of $675,000 for tax year 2000 before charging the heirs any taxes. This figure will rise each year for the next several years.
Regarding the transfer of ownership, quit-claim deeds often are used between family members in situations such as this when an heir is buying out the other. All parties must be agreeable to dropping a name from the title. For more information, consult the IRS's Publication 448, "Federal Estate and Gift Taxes." Order by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM.
Which home buying costs are deductible?
Any points you or the seller pay to purchase your home loan are deductible for that year. Property taxes and interest are deductible every year.
But while other home-buying costs (closing costs in particular) are not immediately tax-deductible, they can be figured into the adjusted cost basis of your home when you go to sell (any significant home improvements also can be calculated into your basis). These fees would include title insurance, loan-application fee, credit report, appraisal fee, service fee, settlement or closing fees, bank attorney's fee, attorney's fee, document preparation fee and recording fees. Points paid when you refinance an existing mortgage must be deducted ratably over the life of the new loan.