With home sales booming throughout much of the country, you may decide that now’s the right time to put your abode on the market. If you do put your primary residence up for sale, try to steer clear of the following mistakes.
- Not qualifying for the home sale exclusion. If you’ve owned and used your home as your principal residence at least two out of the last five years, you can exclude from your taxable income the first $250,000 of gain if you’re single and $500,000 if you’re married.
What you can do: Consider a delay of selling your home until you meet the 2-out-of-5-year threshold. If you can’t qualify for a full exclusion, you may qualify for a partial exclusion if your sale results from an employment change, a need for medical care or other IRS-approved circumstances.
- Forgetting to deduct points. If you have points from your current mortgage that you haven’t deducted on a previous tax return, include the balance of these points on your next tax return. Too many taxpayers forget to do this and lose thousands in deductions.
What you can do: Review your loan documents before selling your property. Identify all costs, including points, that are included in the loan. Save the document with your tax records to ensure the deduction is not forgotten.
- Not double-checking your settlement statement. Closely review the closing statement. It is easy to assume all the numbers are correct and the math is done right. Often this is not the case! And a mistake here could be costly.
What you can do: Review the closing document multiple times. Have your Realtor and closing agent explain items you don’t understand. Pay special attention to property taxes. The property tax bill will be allocated between the seller and the buyer. Only pay the share of the bill that covers the time period when you’re the owner.
Selling a home is full of tax implications. Since selling a home is not an everyday occurrence, it is easy to make a mistake. So, if you need help with these or any other tax questions surrounding the sale of your house, contact your financial advisor…before you sell!